Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Day Lights

September 20th, 1996

Dear Diary -

The Grizz finally clinched the playoffs today. Well, they actually clinched it back in July when they were 43 games up on the 2nd place Racine Sewers, but we didn't officially celebrate it until today. I was 4 mojitos deep by 4pm!!!!! Can you believe it? Dad and Unkie were doing body shots all morning. Sometimes they even took them off of other people. They're daring.

They started to tell stories of the summer they met when the Griz went to the playoffs and started out so well then ultimately lost out to the Whale's Vagina Priests. It was a long story, but from what I came up with, Unkie and Dad were both sloshed and they ran into each other in the bathroom. They both had to go really bad, and they crossed swords, and the rest was history. They both couldn't remember what happened at the end of game b/c they were at the concession stand. They kept talking about how somebody had hid the salami.

Monday, September 15, 2008

September 25, 1995

On September 14, 2008, something pretty awesome happened. Enough of that. I want to tell you the story of a sobering night at Stay Free Maxipads Field in 1995. The day was a Monday. The date was September 25.

I remember a fairly sparse crowd. According to the box score, fewer than 19,000 folks showed up to watch a (barely) .500 team take the field. Such stars as Sammy Sosa and Mark Grace were to be joined by other present and future greats as Luis Gonzalez, Howard Johnson, and Scott Servais. The Grizzlies were wearing their home pink with the mauve striping. They wore their egg-shell white pants. The pink shoes matched their uniform perfectly.

However, this night would belong to an upstart 26 year old from El Paso, TX. This night would belong to Frank Castillo.

Castillo was a 6th round draft pick in 1987. He showed a good arm and rose through the minor league system. When he debuted in 1991, his star was rising. As a 23 year old, he threw over 200 innings. He was never really the same. I don't know what happened to him in 1994, but I'm sure the strike didn't help.

There was one exception. His 1995 turned out to be an outlier on an otherwise mediocre career. He tossed 188 innings of 128 ERA+ ball. He only gave up 179 hits and had a pretty good 135/52 K/BB ratio. His 3.21 ERA and 1.23 WHIP only earned him a 11-10 record for a 73-71 Grizzlies team. He would never be anywhere near this good again. His last regular year in the bigs was 163 IP in 2002 for Boston.

But to go back to that cool, September night. The Cardinals were in town. They were not a good team. They would finish the year 62-81. The outfield wasn't too bad. Brain Jordan was a two-sport "star". Ray Langford was still 28 and in his prime. Bernard Gilkey was near the end of his best year with the Cardinals. The following year he'd have a breakout year for the Mets. By breakout, I mean fluke.

The rest of the lineup featured two-time All-Star Scott Cooper. I shit you not. 2-time All Star. Scott Cooper. John Mabry was putting the finishing touches on an absurdly mediocre rookie season. He finished 4th in RoY voting. I shit you not. David Bell was a 22 year old up and comer. He never did up nor come. In 1995, however, he was still seen as a future All-Star. No, I didn't type that with a straight face.

Facing this formidable lineup, Frank Castillo would bravely take the mound. The Grizz were certainly not going to win anything, and most of the 19,000 paid customers stayed home.

I was at the game with 3 friends, all of us just out of college. We were young and naive. We had no idea what we were about to see.

The game started out innocently enough. The Cardinals were mowed down in the top of the first, just a 2 out walk to Langford kept the inning from being a perfect one.
The game was really over by the end of the first. Luis Gonzalez scored on a two-out wild pitch by Alan Benes to put the Grizz up 4-0. The game never got close. Benes only lasted 3.2 innings, as the Grizzlies scored three more in the fourth.

I'm not sure when I first noticed what was going on. I would guess it was around the 5th inning or so. For certain, none of us were making any kind of a big deal about it.

By the middle of the 7th, it was no longer a joke. Frank Castillo was throwing a NO HITTER. Frank Castillo. No hitter. Going into the 8th inning, Castillo had already struck out 10 Cardinals. I can only assume that the two walks he gave up, to Langford in the 1st and Trip Cromer in the 7th, were on blown calls by the ump. No Cardinal had even sniffed 2nd base.

In the top of the 8th inning, Castillo was to face the Cardinals' 5-6-7 hitters. Castillo got Mabry and Bell to ground out on 7 pitches, before striking out 2-time All Star Scott Cooper for his 11th K. He would go to the ninth, looking for three outs for a no-hitter. And I am there.

The Gnashing Grizz, as was the cool nomeclature at the time, would go quietly in the bottom of the eighth. It doesn't matter. This is Frankie Castillo time, dogs of a female gender.

Castillo took his warm-ups sitting at fewer than 100 pitches. He was dealing and showed no signs of letting up. He was facing the bottom of the order, plus Bernard Gilkey. Stupid Bernard Gilkey. The only truth my cousin Harry ever told me was that he saw Gilkey fucking a chicken once in the back of a New York dive bar.
The first guy he faced was Terry Bradshaw. What? No, seriously. I have no idea who he is, but I assume it's not the annoying hick who was almost a Bear. Castillo made short work of the 54 year old, striking him out looking on 4 pitches. D'ur. 2 out left.

Next came Mark Sweeney. The less talented, slightly more retarded of the flying Sweeneys. Sweeney, staring history right in it face, made the Great Castillo work a bit, before feebly striking out on 6 pitches. Castillo now had 13 strikeouts. He was one out away from the first Grizzlies no-hitter in 23 years.

Along came Bernard Gilkey. I hate the St Louis Cardinals. They are the sucks of suck. Here was Frank Castillo, about to no-hit these fuckers. Sometimes, it's just not to be. I don't remember, but I think Gilkey worked the count to 3-1 against Castillo, like he worked the pancreas of an unsuspecting chicken. Castillo then made the only bad pitch of the night. Gilkey didn't miss the fastball, hitting the ball as far as one could without leaving the park. He didn't stop running until he made it to third. The NO-HITTER was not to be.

I have seen the Grizz play the Cardinals more than any other team. I saw Kerry Wood strikeout 9 Cardinals in a 7 inning win in his fourth start, 5 days before he struck out 20 Astros. I saw all three games of an opening weekend sweep that included two come from behind wins, including a Derek Lee game winner in 2006, well before the wheels flew off. I once drove a strung-out Keith Hernandez 40 miles to buy dope from Rick Ankiel’s convict father.

And, I saw Frank Castillo throw 8 and two thirds innings of no-hit ball.

Thank you to for filling in the blanks.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Another Cool Tank Top

I would LOVE to get another Grizzly tank top, but I'm just not sure about the new styles. Also, if I get another one, then I'm going all out. That means a player's name and number on the back. For the life of me, though, I can't figure out which player to go with. Should I go with a classic GRIZZ player like Lorenzen Wright or a relative newbie like Kyle Lowry? Should I ignore the Vancouver years altogether? My heart says that I should, but, on the other hand, my heart also says I shouldn't. By process of elimination, I have to go with my heart and disqualify all Vancouver Grizzly players. So sorry, Big Country, Mike Bibby, and Sam Mack. I just didn't know you guys well enough. And I still don't. But I'd like to. As a point of fact, I bet us guys could hang out and have a pretty nice little time. Plus, our group would be racially diverse which is something that I strive for. I also thought about putting Rudy Gay's number and name on my tank top, but my brother talked me out of it. He said, "geez, Morg, why ya wanna go political? Can't we just keep all that between us and Uncle Pete?" No, brother, we can't. I SUPPORT Rudy Gay. I know some GRIZZ fans don't think he's a number one option, but I do. And I'm not going to hide those feelings. So, I WON'T not get a cool new tank top with Gay on the back to avoid some sort of arugement. But I'm still not going with Rudy. He left school early, and I don't support that. Stay 4 years, guys. It's called the old college try. I know that I certainly enjoyed my 4 years at Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, MO and there's nothing that I'm more proud of than my associate's degree from there. I just now glanced at it hanging up in my insurance office and a surge of pride overcame me. So, I went with the retro thing on my tank top and went with Shane BAttier because he spent four years in college, he's fundamentally sound, and he's half-white and half-black and that's the best of both worlds. And, if he ever comes back, then I'll be ready for him. I really hope he does, too, but that doesn't mean that I don't support the players on the team now. I do!
GO GRIZZ! Hitch up those shorts and BLOCK OUT!

Friday Day Lights

September 19, 2001

Dear Diary,

So the Grizz are going thru yet another September swoon. They lost one game in a row and people are FLIPPING OUT. Dad and UB call this the "dry season." I don't know why b/c it rained pretty hard two days ago. They say they always need more jelly, but mom goes to the grocery store almost twice a week. They must love sangwiches.
Anywho, D. Li grounded into his 2nd double play of the year in their loss last night. One person booed him. I was OUTRAGED!!!! I almost spit out my mangotini when I heard that hatred being spewed. I mean, these guys bust their hump every day to put on a show at the PAD for us. I know it's hard to deal with a loss, but come on guys, booing? Really? I almost, I repeat, almost, got upset when Fleed Jonstone only went 1-3 during the game. But you know what? He tried his darndest. Dad got upset too. I have never seen him like that before. He was getting all up in UB's face and saying things like "I'm gonna give it to you. Hard!" and "You're going in the back door and that's that!". He had to have been upset to not even want UB to use our front door, and it's not like dad just fixed it or anything. He only had drank 2 passionfruit/marmaladetinis, so I knew he wasn't too drunk. All UB could come back with was "Oh yeah? Oh yeah?". I hate it when the Grizz don't play well b/c it brings out the worst in people, including Dad and UB. I hope they got over their spat and kissed and made up.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Just Can't Bear This Den of Grizzlies

I'm back, bitches.

[Editor's Note: "J.M." is the pseudonym of a former Major Sportswriter for the Boise Sun-Times, who has left his paper because "There is no future in sports journalism." Hopefully his hard-hitting "take no prisoners" approach will appeal to those BGP readers who like their sports reportage to be PROVOCATIVE and NOT A LITTLE EDGY.]

Selfish hotdogging clowns.

There. I said it.

The 2008 Grizzlies are the worst baseball team in my life. And I'm including my little league team, or rather the little league team I would have played on if I hadn't spent the first 12 years of my life living in a plastic bubble.

"But Mr. M," I'm sure you're saying as spit out chunks of cinnamon bagel (you whitebread hicks), "this team has won more games than even the fabled '05 Big Pink Train team!" - a team I've always secretly admired for making that twat Guillen look like a fool, or so I was told by my assistant Koko who used to watch the games and AP sports wire for me.

But that's neither here not there. And please, call me J.

Yes, this team is winning. But the fact remains that they lost two games in a row for the first time this year. And that makes them utter failures at the game of baseball, and ultimately at life.

Manager Jim "Skip" Essian is presiding over the the biggest sports collapse in history. Bigger than the Titanic and the Hindenburg together, assuming those are in some way related to sports (this chintzy blog I'm lowering myself to write for couldn't afford to bring Koko over from Boise for me). All of those idiots clamoring to get him hired will soon be demanding Grizzly management to send him to the curb.

A lot of you apologists are going to say (after sputtering out your Starbucks Fair Trade coffee - you yuppie swine), "Look, J, this season is 162 games long, and every team has a slump here and there."

You are wrong. And I think we should go back to a more formal greeting until you prove yourselves to be less stupid.

I place the blame squarely where it belongs: everyone but me.

But allow me to prove my point in the only way a REAL journalist can.

I'm going to make a list

  • Grizzly ownership - This "win at all costs" mentality, by which the Grizzlies have used extensive scouting and high end statistical analysis to assemble teams of elite players that are all physically gifted and emotionally stable is just not working out. This team has no heart, no gumption, and no panache. And teams like that may win 99 times out of 100, but a loss is still a loss and unacceptable at any time. Anyone who doesn't see that is as dumb as everyone at my stupidheaded old job. Those jerks.
  • Grizzly Pitching - Starting picher Pancho Zapata has given up at least 10 hits this year, and Lily Roosevelt hasn't been the same since he was acquitted of those manslaughter charges in Canada - honestly, I think he's a better killer than a starter. The less said about Rick Wardon, the better (because I'm not really sure who he is).
  • Grizzly Hitting - How the hell could Ramis Rodriguez and Derrick Li not break every record singlehandedly this year? And Li, ending that double playless streak this year is a perfect sign that you should get your ass back to Cuba or China or wherever you're from, comrade. Also, I've noticed that no one is really bunting this year. Three-run home runs don't win ball games. Timely bunting does.
  • Grizzly Fielding - I heard someone on the Grizzlies made an error last month. That's inexcusable, and probably worse than anything Hitler ever did.
  • Grizzly Journalists - None of you have returned my calls. I am a respected commentator and pundit. Why won't you give me a job?
  • You, the Grizzly Fans - You wretched scum are the worst of all. By continuing to love the team and enjoy watching the game of baseball, you only encourage this culture of failure. Go to hell, all of you.

I know my words were harsh and maybe Pulitzer-worthy, but it's just something you all need to hear. And so do the Grizzlies. And I'm the one who can say that to them.

You better watch out, Stay Free Maxipad Field. I'm not afraid to sit in the bar in the press box eating hors d'oeuvres and savage you for not meeting my standards of excellence.

There's a new player in town. Me. And I am too good for you all.