The Fightins » Justin R.I.P. Harry Kalas Sat, 16 Jul 2011 21:37:55 +0000 en hourly 1 The Unrecognized Revenge of Bill Hall Fri, 15 Jul 2011 19:00:11 +0000 Justin

To an outsider, there really was no reason for Bill Hall to be standing in the hallway.

The hotel was full of MLB All-Stars, and he wasn’t one.  He wasn’t a fan favorite.  Nobody was scanning the rosters of the NL squad, shouting “Wait a second… where’s Bill?!”  He was just Bill Hall, of the San Francisco Giants.  And his heart was filled with revenge.

“Excuse me sir,” a bellhop said.

Bill jumped.  As any analyst would tell you, his instincts were starting to fail him. After several moments of silence, he stepped out of the bellhop’s way and waited to see he would ask for an autograph.

He didn’t.

No, the hallway remained silent, save for the quiet squeak of the bellhop’s food cart, getting less audible as it was wheeled away.  Bill was frustrated.  He’d assumed by now the air would be filled with panicked, muffled screams.  The plan he’d spent months crafting in airplane bathrooms and hotel bars seemed to be taking longer than he’d predicted.

It was simple, really.  Way back in Spring Training, Bill Hall had been wronged.  He quite easily slipped back to that moment in time, as he had many times since mid-March.  There he was again, standing in the batter’s box in Clearwater.  And there was Cole Hamels, out on the mound, preening in the sun.

“FUCK YOU, BILL HALL, YOU COWARD” Cole had shouted; though afterward, many people had informed Bill that nothing like that was said out loud, and the closest thing to a noticeable sound prior to his at bat was a sea gull screeching casually overhead.

“He’s a good guy,” Cole had said, but Bill knew what he meant.  He could see it in his eyes.  Cole may have been saying nice things, but his eyes were very plainly saying “Bill Hall is a gutless coward whose best days are behind him, and probably hasn’t satisfied his wife in years.”

And just like Bill thought, on the very next pitch, Cole Hamels came inside on him.  And nobody came inside on Bill Hall.  Especially not after insulting him with their eyes.

“He’s definitely a marked man for me now,” Bill had replied to the media, which people had laughed at.  Sure, Bill may not be a household name in most houses, including his own. But if there was one thing Bill Hall could do well, it was say who was marked and who wasn’t.  And he’d said Cole Hamels was.

So Bill had found himself plotting against Hamels from Spring Training onward, with his plans set to reach fruition just at the All-Star Game.

He had himself traded to a west coast team so that access to Phoenix, AZ would be even simpler.  He watched as Cole Hamels had a season good enough to put him in the All-Star Game.  And then, he would put together a situation that would end in Cole Hamels’ untimely death–and look entirely like an accident.

Because not only was Bill Hall un-pitch-insideable, he was a genius.  And the dangerous part was, he knew it.

He’d placed the scorpion under Cole’s pillow, assuming that when the pretty boy laid down for his undoubtably fourth diva nap of the afternoon, he’d be met by a sharp sting and a sudden fall.  But Bill had been standing in the hallway for six and a half hours now, and there hadn’t been a single bloodcurdling scream for his efforts.

“Maybe its out of poison,” Bill thought.  ”It did sting me 40 or 50 times on the way over here.”

He looked down at the welts on his hands.  They looked pretty bad.  Maybe he should have used gloves.  Ah well.  He could fight off a silly poison if he had to.

The bellhop was returning from his journey down the hallway; but this time his head seemed to be comprised of colorful swirls and surrounded by miniature dancing Cole Hamelses, all mocking Bill relentlessly.

“Nyah, nyah, nyah!” they shouted in shrill, antagonistic tones.  ”‘My name’s Bill Hall and I !”

“SHUT UP!” Bill bellowed.  ”YES I DO!!!  I DO IT ALL THE TIME!”

“Sir, are you okay?” asked the bellhop.  ”You… you’re foaming at the mouth.”

Bill caught a glimpse of himself in the nearest doorbell.  One of his eyes twitched involuntarily as his hands began to swell.

“Oh, I’m fine,” he replied, attempting a casual, laid back tone that greatly contrasted the crazed shouting from seconds before. He tried to coolly lean against the wall behind him to drive the point home, but in doing so slid to the ground without realizing it.

Just then, his phone beeped.  To properly stalk Cole, he’d begun following him on all social media fronts.

“Here’s the scorpion that was in our room!” Cole had tweeted. Bill would have recognized that scorpion anywhere.  The incompetent creature couldn’t even poison the right person.

“You son of a…”

“Sir?” asked the bellhop, who Bill now hallucinated as Cole Hamels wearing a devil costume and prodding him with a pitchfork.  ”Sir, I’m calling an ambulance.”

“Call whoever you want,” Bill mumbled, slipping in and out of consciousness.  ”That… that scorpion’s a marked man…”

]]> 7
How to be the Classiest Guy at the Baseball Game Mon, 11 Jul 2011 14:00:00 +0000 Justin With a divisional rival in town, its only natural for the internet to turn into a festering Petri dish of insults.  Braves suck!  Phillies suck!  Bobby Cox hates women!  Charlie Manuel once killed and devoured a bull moose in front of a kindergarten class!

In response to such remarks, we often see our enemies and ourselves breach the topic of “class.”  Often times, the “classiness” of the other team’s fans is brought into question, just prior to an insult that questions the “classiness” of ourselves.  It is a neverending cycle with no end, and like a snake eating its own tale, we are doomed to choke to death if this keeps up.  But not on snake flesh.  On unpleasantness.

So we have compiled a short list of ways to install classiness in every baseball game, so that these intense rivalries become the vacant, lifeless sporting events they were intended to be.

And before you even say, “Hey, asshole.  What do you know about class?!”  maybe you should read my guide to Meeting a Lady at Citizens Bank Park.

Apology accepted.

Root for no teams

Picking a side is for people with opinions and regional pride!  That’s not you, though.  At least, not anymore.  Maybe your father told you that he used to listen to Harry Kalas with a small radio under the blankets.  Maybe he described it as his favorite part of the summer—as the moment he fell in love with the game, and one of the main components as to why he so lovingly passed baseball along to you.

Time’s have changed.  These days, baseball is about filling a wheelbarrow with your most prized memorabilia, soaking it in kerosene, and, well… you know what happens next.  We all know what you did to that elementary school.

Representing one team over the other through cheers or fashion statements is just unfair!  How do you think that other team feels out there?  All lost and alone, delirious from homesickness, wandering around the outfield grass, not knowing if their family and friends are alive or dead.

No, its best to just sit there and root for the game itself. If everyone remains neutral, then our message boards will be free to conduct productive, interesting debates, rather than cowardly trolling and the occasional penis enlargement pill.  The next time the Braves are in town, let us wear neither red nor navy blue; let us avoid the Phanatic Dance and the tomahawk chop.

Actually you should avoid the tomahawk chop regardless of your intentions because it is 2011 and boy that is just racist as fuck.

No one speaks

Think about it.  The first part of you that reacts to something at a baseball game is your mouth.  If everyone agrees to keep it quiet, then none of the hateful things we love to say can instigate a classless altercation.  Take a look at this chart, which chronicles remarks we may have made before we became classy, and then indicates what may take hostility’s place.

If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.  Sure, we may all die from the ulcers that form in our stomachs from keeping our hostility inside, but at least we’ll die… with class. As long as no one is looking when we inevitably void our bowels.

Make the games two innings long.

The less time we give ourselves to have an outburst, the less likely we are to do it in public.  Think how classy we’ll look to Braves fans if we keep our irrational, unpredictable rage at home with our families.  Will certain relatives be scarred for life?  Absolutely.  And not to mention ticket prices will seem even more astronomical for a game that ends pretty much by the time everyone finishes tailgating.

But what we sacrifice through destroyed childhoods and money will be made in spades by the classiness we feel.  For too long, our divisional contests have been marred by the classless actions of those who want to be passionate, fiery, and drunk on their team.  If we simply remove all of the fun parts of baseball, then it becomes a far more enjoyable game for the people we hate.

Obviously, the answer is a stadium full of neutrally-colored occupants sitting in complete silence for 45 minutes, tops.

Mmmm.  Classy.

]]> 16
Kyle Kendrick’s Post Game Temper Tantrum Thu, 07 Jul 2011 13:54:15 +0000 Justin

Kyle stormed into his room and kicked the nearest LEGO set with the adorable rage of an irate pony.  The pieces scattered across the floor as several small yellow men looked on in horror at what used to be their home.

Kyle dove onto the bed and buried his face in a pillow, hoping it would smother the sound of his sobs.  A gentle knock on the door caused him to sharply cut off the emotional display.

“Hey, buddy,” came the voice of Phillies bench coach Pete MacKanin through the door.  ”You in there?”

Pete knew he was in there.  Kyle Kendrick’s sobs were often audible all throughout the night when the Phillies stayed in hotels (and probably when they didn’t, but nobody was around to hear them in those cases except his confusingly hot wife).

“Maybe he’s doing a puzzle,” Ryan Howard offered.  ”He’s been into those since we told him he could come to my birthday party if he finished one with 5,000 pieces.”

“Not helping,” Pete replied.  ”You guys just get the hell out of here.”

The other 24 Phillies in the hallway snickering at Kendrick’s sniffles slowly backed away, except for Ross Gload, who hadn’t heard Pete’s request for their exit over the sound of himself guzzling half a Hurricane.

“Kyle, buddy?  You want to talk about it?”

“No!” Kyle shouted back.

Pete opened the door anyway, easily pushing aside the pile of stuffed animals Kyle habitually stacked in front of his door when he was upset.  No one was sure if it was truly intended to block the door or if he just thought seeing them all together would make him feel better.  Nobody asked him, either.  Because it was weird.

Pete stumbled slightly as he entered, stepping on a LEGO piece from the shattered castle on the floor.

“Ow, fuck,” he muttered.  He looked up to see if Kyle had heard him.  The Front Office had asked the coaches to refrain from using some of the harder curse words in front of Kyle.  His mother had been leaving a lot of voicemails.

“Oh no, you wrecked the castle?” Pete asked.  ”That one was your favorite!”

“Everything sucks!” Kyle shouted, his voice still muffled by the pillow.

“Come on, now,” Pete replied knowingly.  ”Is this about Charlie taking you out after 80 pitches?  You know that wasn’t because he doesn’t like you.”

Nobody likes me!”

The awkward silence that followed kind of confirmed this notion, and Pete knew it.  He just didn’t know what collection of English words he could put together that could convince Kyle otherwise.  Kendrick shirseys were having their prices slashed all over the Delaware County in stores with the balls to carry them at all.  Despite a series of somewhat adequate performances, Kyle was still seen as the bottom of the Phillies pitching barrel.  A recent poll had indicated that most fans were more familiar with him as the face of a mythical unicorn beast than as a competent spot starter.

“Come ON!!! Open up in there!  I got an ocean of piss inside me!”

Pete looked back toward the door.  Gload had mistaken Kendrick’s room for the toilet again.  ”Look, Kyle, when Charlie does these things, he’s doing them because he thinks its best for the team. He doesn’t mean it as a personal insult to you.

Kyle turned over, his eyes bloodshot.  ”Really?  Did he say that?”

Pete thought back to the moment in the Phillies-Marlins game when Charlie Manuel had decided to go the pen.

“Hey, Pete, watch this,” he’d said, chuckling.  ”I’m ‘onna like take Kendrick out and I don’t even know why.”  Then everybody in the dugout had laughed and high-fived.

“Of course he said that,” Pete told Kyle after several minutes of horrifically awkward silence.

“But do you Charlie really likes–”

“Look, kid,” Pete cut him off, “in about 30 seconds Ross Gload is gonna be in here soaking your mattress in urine.  Is there any way we can speed this up so I don’t have to be around for that?”

Kyle wiped his nose and nodded.  ”Yeah, sorry.  I just sometimes think everybody’s against me.”

“Ha, ha, ha, that’s crazy.  Do you know how crazy you sound?  Ha, ha, ha.” Pete replied a little too quickly and purposely as he backed out of the room.

Sure enough, the door swung open and Gload stood there, chewing.  ”Did you know this isn’t really the bathroom?” he asked in bewilderment.  Looking down at the ground, he enthusiastically grabbed a few of Kyle’s stuffed animals.

“Aw, perfect.  I’m just gonna take some of these for my kid.”

On his way out, Pete noticed a largely incomplete puzzle on the floor.  The pieces were sorted according to color, as though someone had spent a decent chunk of the past week lovingly sorting them for easier assembly.

For a moment, he considered warning the kid.  But like always, he just shook his head.

“Just don’t take the unicorn,” he heard Kyle ask of Ross Gload, whose arms were now full of stuffed animals.  ”That one’s my favorite.”

]]> 25