Text 29 Sep 1 note Putting Derek Jeter Into Perspective

Well, our long national nightmare is finally over. Derek Jeter’s long goodbye from baseball concluded yesterday in Fenway Park. The Captain, Mr. November, the face of baseball, the classiest man to ever be classy is done. He had over 3,400 hits. He played in every postseason since 1903. He tucked in his shirt. He was clean shaven. He even supposedly gave gift baskets away whenever he kicked a broad to the curb or gave her an STD. Probably with a tucked in shirt. I mean, the man was a saint - a biracial angel, as Matt McCarthy called him in The Other Guys. But how good was he, really? Does he deserve to go down as all of the titles and accolades they’re currently giving him or is he an inflated, overrated pat on the back to the Yankees (as I said Mariano Rivera was last year)? Let’s get into it. And I’ll use Bill James’ Keltner List as a fair career evaluation. If he’s really the man, I’ll say so. And if he’s not, we need to be honest about that too. Here we go…

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

No. Not anybody knowledgeable, anyway. Most famous at times, sure. But you have to realize that Jeter played at the same time as Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Frank Thomas, Mark McGwire, Manny Ramirez, Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout. Steroids or not, those guys were (or are) monsters. Nobody at the time outside of New York tried to put Jeter ahead of any of them.   

2. Was he the best player on his team?

Usually not. You surprised? I’d say that Jeter was the best player on the 1999 Yankees. It’s arguable (but probably not accurate) for 1998, 2000 and 2001 and again in 2006. But you have to realize that Jeter played on the free-spending and insanely-rich New York Yankees franchise. He was overshadowed by position players like Bernie Williams and Paul O’Neal in his early career. Then by Jason Giambi, Alfonso Soriano, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield and sometimes Jorge Posada in his prime. Then late in his career he wasn’t as good as Mark Teixiera and Robinson Cano. And that’s without me bringing up any of the pitchers on his team.  They’re the Yankees. He was the most famous. But not the best. 

3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

I’ll say yes. If we can all pretend Alex Rodriguez wasn’t a shortstop for a decade until he joined the Yankees. Afterwards, it’s Jeter and a bit of a gap until you get to guys like Miguel Tejada, Nomar Garciaparra, Michael Young and then Edgar Renteria, Jimmy Rollins, Jose Reyes and Troy Tulowitzki in the National League.   

4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

Uh. Yes. Do 16 postseasons count? Derek Jeter has played in more postseason games than any other human. 

5. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?

Yes. 20 seasons in the Majors is a pretty good indication of that. And who knows what would have happened if he hadn’t been injured in the 2012 ALCS. Because, really, that was the end. 

6. Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame?

No. Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Chipper Jones and Manny Ramirez are not in the Hall of Fame. But Jeter is second-best after Chipper for players not accused of taking PEDs.

7. Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame?

Yes. Jeter is similar to Paul Molitor, Roberto Alomar, Robin Yount, Charlie Gehringer, Joe Morgan and Frankie Frisch, who are all Hall of Famers. And he’s similar to Ivan Rodriguez, who could be. The most similar batter to Jeter is Craig Biggio, who should be.

8. Do the player’s numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

Yes. Derek Jeter would be an above average Hall of Famer. He’s 10th all-time in runs scored, 6th in hits (which should be good enough, alone), 9th in triples and 5th in singles. JAWS ranks him as the 12th greatest shortstop of all-time (after Honus Wagner, A-Rod, Cal Ripken Jr., George Davis, Robin Yount, Arky Vaughn, Ernie Banks, Ozzie Smith, Luke Appling, Bill Dahlen and Alan Trammell, so it can’t possibly be accurate). But Hall of Fame Standards says he’s third behind A-Rod and Honus Wagner.    

9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?

Well, he played in the steroid era and hasn’t been accused of taking them. So yes. And that puts a retroactive damper on my answers to #1 and #2. Especially when comparing him to A-Rod. 

10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in?

No. But the other guy is Alex Rodriguez.  

11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

Jeter never won an MVP award. He got votes in 12 seasons and finished 3rd in the AL in 1998, 2nd in 2006 and 3rd in 2009. I could probably make a case that he finished too high in all of those seasons. Just looking at 2006, I wouldn’t have put him in the top 7. And in 2009, he wouldn’t have been in my top 5. Towards the end, idiot sportswriters wanted to give him the MVP as a sort of lifetime achievement award. But that’s really stupid.  

12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the other players who played in this many go to the Hall of Fame?

Jeter played in 14 All-Star games. Only 20 other people have done that. And all of them except for Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, A-Rod and Ivan Rodriguez are in the Hall of Fame. 

13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

Jeter and the Yankees won the pennant 7 times.  He was the best player on one of those teams. He was arguably the best on another 3. But they were loaded. Craig Biggio only went to one World Series - when he also had Roger Clemens. Molitor went to two. So did Alomar. I think it’s possible. But without the Yankees, there’s no way he would have gone to 7.

14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

He made it hunkier? Other than that, I don’t know. They tried to credit him, Nomar and A-Rod with instituting larger shortstops, but Cal Ripken Jr. kinda already did that. So I’ll say no. 

15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

Yes. I already talked about how he’s the classiest classy to ever class.

Conclusion: The idea that Jeter was ever ‘the best’ just isn’t accurate. Having won zero MVP awards is a pretty good indication of that. What is accurate is that Jeter was the best non-tainted shortstop of his generation. He had the longevity and consistency to rack up some very impressive career numbers. But 75% of his hits were singles. He played for the Yankees for 20 seasons, which made him beloved. Being the stalwart for the most famous team in the world is going to make you amongst the most famous players in the game, no matter what. And it’s not like you can suck or be mediocre and still be that guy. He was the face of a franchise that always won, whether or not he was the main reason the team was so dominant. And he did all of those things in the middle of a typhoon of doubt about the integrity of the game. Jeter remained clean, he remained untarnished and he remained a winner. He’s Paul Molitor in pinstripes. He’s Craig Biggio in the Bronx. The Robin Yount of the Yankees. But I admit he’s better than all of those examples. And you can bet we’ll see him on the podium giving his acceptance speech at Cooperstown in five years.      

Text 26 Sep 25 notes My 2014 Baseball Awards

I do this every year. Sorry non-baseball fans. Feel free to skip ahead to whatever other garbage is on your dashboard. 

NL MVP & NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw. Dodgers.

Last year I said I hated it when pitchers won the MVP award since they already have the Cy Young. And I thought Andrew McCutchen had too many good storylines going in his favor. This year, I’m giving in. I have to.  McCutchen was, once again, the best position player in the National League. But Kershaw’s season was way too good to not speak in complete hyperbole. He currently leads the league in everything good. And it could arguably go down as one of the ten best single-season pitching performances in the history of baseball. Maybe I’ll try to figure that part out later. But let me put it into perspective. Kershaw struck out 239 batters. He had a 0.857 WHIP and a 1.77 ERA. Even if you don’t know anything about baseball statistics, I’ll tell you who has had a better line than that in the history of everything.

Charlie Sweeney in 1884.

Christy Mathewson in 1908.

Ed Walsh in 1910.

Walter Johnson in 1913.

Pete Alexander in 1915.

Bob Gibson in 1968.

And Pedro Martinez in 2000.

That’s it. Seven people. Six current or future Hall of Famers, including the first two pitchers ever inducted into the Hall of Fame, the fourth pitcher ever inducted into the Hall of Fame and the guy who convinced the league to lower the mound after he had that season because pitchers like him were too dominant. Kershaw is special. And I think he deserves the MVP. The Cy Young (his third) is just an added bonus.   

AL MVP: Mike Trout. Angels.

I mean, why fight it? Mike Trout is going to win. He’s the best player on the best team. He’s been second in MVP voting the past two seasons. He leads the Majors in WAR. Victor Martinez of the Tigers is a better hitter right now. And his team is going to the playoffs. But he’s just a DH. Michael Brantley and Adrian Beltre had arguably better seasons, but they’re probably going home in three days. Same with Joses Bautista, Abreu and Altuve, collectively. Exit Derek Jeter. Enter Mike Trout.

AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez. Mariners.

King Felix might have just fucked himself. A few days ago he gave up seven runs in one inning to the Blue Jays. And now the hot pick for AL Cy Young is Corey Kluber of the Indians. The other guy right up there is Chris Sale of the White Sox. But the award is for the whole entire season. Not for just September. I can’t stand the argument that September somehow matters more than the rest of the 162-game baseball year. I heard the PTI guys try to make the argument that if there wasn’t a Super Bowl, Peyton Manning would be the greatest quarterback of all time. Jesus Christ. Besides the fact that that argument has no bearing on a SINGLE SEASON baseball award, if Felix hadn’t pitched well the whole rest of the season, the Mariners wouldn’t even be hanging on to their probably-ill-fated playoff run. I mean, are Kluber and Sale going to be in the post-season? Sale is a definite no. And Kluber and the Indians are in worse shape than the Mariners. There are three guys with great stats in the American League. Sale has pitched over 50 fewer innings than the other two. And Kluber shouldn’t just stumble into an award because another guy had one bad outing. Felix is still second in ERA (with 50 more innings pitched than Sale at #1) and still leads the league in WHIP. Unless Kluber pitches a perfect game tonight against the Rays and Felix shows his ass again on Sunday, my vote (and I don’t have one) stays with the King.         

Text 22 Aug 10 notes Season 2 of Adam Devine’s House Party’s Got Another Long Row of Great Comedians
Photo 5 Aug 2 notes Watch for my set on Comedy Central at some point this Fall.

Watch for my set on Comedy Central at some point this Fall.

Text 17 Jun 249 notes Can We All Stop Pretending the World Cup Sucks?

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30 seconds in to the United States’ first match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, American Clint Dempsey had already dribbled around a Ghanian defender and then ricocheted the ball perfectly into the net. Just like that, the U.S. was up 1-0 on their Group of Death competitor. And I went nuts. Alone in my apartment. I even texted the three or four of the other people I thought might have been watching. Sure, my celebration paled in comparison to the amount I screamed watching Kerry Wood of the Cubs hit a home run in the second inning of Game 7 in the 2003 NLCS to tie the game against the Marlins. Or when I absolutely lost my mind with Drew Tate’s no-time-left heave to Warren Holloway in the 2005 Capitol One Bowl. Or the 2009 Ricky Stanzi touchdown pass to Marvin McNutt against Michigan State to remain undefeated… when I took part in a doggy pile in the middle of an ESPN Zone in Los Angeles. But those are the three craziest reactions I’ve ever had to sporting events in my life. And they should be. Because, unlike soccer, football and baseball are real sports. Zing! Right, everyone?          

The only difference is that most of the rest of the world doesn’t agree with that sentiment. We all know that soccer, er, football is the most popular sport in the world. And we know that most Americans couldn’t care less. That’s the hack line, anyway. Friday’s Real Time with Bill Maher opened with him mocking World Cup ‘fever’ and saying how exciting it must be to watch Paraguay play in a scoreless tie against some Eastern Bloc nation you’ve never heard of. It sounded like a joke that had been found in a drawer from Dennis Miller’s old HBO show. And they just edited out the part where he calls someone ‘Habib’ or something. A Tonight Show clip I saw after that showed Jimmy Fallon asking Chris Rock if he was watching the World Cup, with Rock responding, “I don’t care!” in his Chris Rock-y cadence while the audience applauded in approval. I get it. It’s cool to make fun of soccer. Or at least it is if you’re a club comedian age 49 or older. 

Or if you’re just an American. Because for all the why-don’t-Americans-like-soccer things I’ve seen on TV or the Internet over the years, the most obvious answer is that soccer feels super foreign to everybody. Never mind that Paraguay isn’t even in the World Cup and the former Eastern Bloc countries in it are ones you’ve heard of. That joke sounded true! Because Paraguay and the former Eastern Bloc sound super foreign. That’s not America, it’s foreign! Like a Mentos commercial. Or believing in evolution. And who wants those things? There are other reasons (which I’ll get to) that Americans say they don’t like soccer, but the base argument of soccer’s foreign-ness makes it the most okay to dismiss. There’s nothing unpatriotic about not watching. And there’s apparently nothing more patriotic to Americans than hating it. But it’s been 20 years since America hosted that one World Cup and I’ve been hearing the same shit over and over and over again since then. And if I heard an onslaught of 1994-era OJ Simpson jokes for a whole month every four years, I’d get sick of those too. So let’s get the tired arguments out of the way…       

Tired Argument #1: Soccer is Boring.

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I’m not easily bored. But if I DID get bored, you know who would bore me? Tim Duncan. And I’ve never once in my life heard anybody say the NBA is boring. You might see the NBA Finals as this epic battle of last-second shots and athletic dunks. But I see it as Tim Duncan’s stupid owl-eyed face doing some fundamentally-sound but charisma-less layup on his way to his fifth title for the lame-ass Spurs. But who could forget the finger-on-the-pulse-of-America hotness of every elementary school kid’s favorite player, Manu Ginóbili. That’s pure NBA excitement! He’s why 5th graders across the country are shaving bald spots into their hair to be cool and fighting over who gets to be Manu Ginobili when they play outside at recess.

If Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili played in the 1960’s, everyone would say, “They’re lucky they never had to play against LeBron because he would kill them.” Except they play now, they stink, and their team beat LeBron by about 15-20 points every game. I guess I don’t necessarily know what’s considered boring to everyone else in their precious lives, but I just don’t think a sporting event that takes place every four years, where every game matters so much TO EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD should be one of them. Here’s the difference: I hear screaming coming out of apartment buildings all around me in Echo Park every time someone from a Latin country scores. On Sunday, somebody at a show said that the Spurs had just won the Finals and everyone shrugged.      

Tired Argument #2: There Are Ties!

Skip to the next one if you’re the easily-bored, must-have-the-red-hotness-of-Tim-Duncan type. Because I explain some things. 

This one is going to be technical, but if you’re complaining about ties, it just means you don’t understand what’s happening. This will help you to not sound as dumb. So far in this World Cup, there have been 14 games and there’s only been one tie. Yes, it was a not-so-great 0-0 tie between Iran and Nigeria. But that’s been the exception, rather than the rule. And ties only happen in the round robin group portion, anyway. And since ties matter to a team’s overall ranking within their group (as well as point differential and wins), there’s nothing at all unimportant about a tie. Here, this is what the United States’ Group G looks like right now…

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Earlier in the day, Germany beat Portugal 4-0. And then the U.S. ended up beating Ghana 2-1. So Germany and the U.S. got 3 points for their wins, but Germany is actually ahead since they have a goal differential of 4 (4-0) and the U.S. has a goal differential of 1 (2-1). Ghana and Portugal have 0 points for their losses and the opposite goal differentials as the teams they lost to. You get it. But a tie also gets 1 point. So if the U.S. can avoid a loss to Portugal in their next game, or at least avoid losing by 6 goals, they’d still probably be in second place in their group. And two teams from this group will advance to the knockout (single-elimination tournament) stage. It all gets more and more clear as the group stage progresses. Everything matters. Even the ties.  Plus, the U.S. has a better chance of tying Portugal and Germany than they do beating them outright or winning a shootout. You do want America to win, don’t you?

Tired Argument #3: There Are No Breaks.

I don’t get this complaint. Get a DVR and hit pause, butt fuck. There are no breaks in movie theaters either, but you still waddle out to poop during X-Men and then waddle back and ask what you missed. 

Tired Argument #4: We Don’t Understand the Clock.

It’s 45 minutes a half. And they don’t stop for anything, so time just gets added on at the end for injuries and whatnot. You count up instead of down. It’s really not that hard. It’s not that much different than what you’re used to. And it adds a nerve wracking element at the end of a close game - like when 5 minutes got added on to the end of the too-close-for-comfort U.S. - Ghana game. Just that short amount of time seemed like an eternity for us to survive. But then when the whistle blew, the release was an even better feeling than if I’d seen a clock counting down like it was my safety blanky. I mean, watch the end of the Switzerland - Ecuador game from Sunday and try to tell me it wasn’t awesome. Unless you’re from Ecuador, in which case, lo siento.    

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Tired Argument #5: There’s Not Enough Scoring.

In the first 14 games of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, there were 44 goals. That’s over 3 goals per game. If an NFL game ended 14-7, you wouldn’t cry about it. But alas, there is still the NBA, where there’s a ton more scoring. And maybe you’ve been conditioned by the hot hand of America’s sweetheart, Manu Ginobili from the great San Antonio Spurs dynasty. I can’t help you. It’s almost as if they’re two completely different sports.  

Tired Argument #6: America Sucks at Soccer.

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There you have it. The World Cup is the pretty girl we asked out, but when she said no we called her a lesbian. Would America care if we won the whole tournament? Are you nuts? Of course we would. We still put that goofball Michael Phelps in Subway commercials even though everybody in the country gives zero shits about competitive swimming. But he was the best, so we pretend their bread isn’t made out of yoga mats or whatever. And don’t get me started on Lance Armstrong. We just like the best. You might not remember, but we cared when the U.S. Women’s team won it all in 1999. Remember Brandi Chastain and her sports bra? That was a thing. We even pretended we thought it was hot and everything. And U.S. women’s soccer is still a thing. It’s just not on the level of men’s sports. Because they’re not exciting like Tim Duncan.   

So are we any good this year? We beat Ghana, didn’t we? And as announcer, Ian Darke, reminded everyone, it’s also called the Group of Death because we’re in it. Our best athletes may still play other sports, but we have a population of over 300 million people. Some of those people have to be good at soccer. Portugal is like, the size of Ohio. And tons of students at the Ohio State can out-douche Cristiano Ronaldo. So maybe we can out play him too.

You don’t have to love soccer. Or even watch another game until the 2018 World Cup in crazy ass Russia. I’m probably not going to. L.A. Galaxy games are in Carson. Who the fuck would ever go to Carson??? But since the NBA and NHL seasons are done, and baseball is gonna go until October, the World Cup is like an extra playoff season given to us in our down time for free from foreigners in Brazil. It’s got Brazil’s young superstar Neymar trying to win it for the host nation. The Netherlands shocking the world by destroying the reigning champions, Spain, in revenge for their loss in the 2010 finals. Costa Rica shocking Uruguay. That Switzerland goal I talked about earlier. Karim Benzema being awesome. Lionel Messi looking like a goddamn dribbling wizard before scoring against Bosnia. Thomas Muller looking like a goddamn scarecrow and scoring a hat trick against Portugal, while Ronaldo did nothing. And the fucking Clint Dempsey goal in the first 30 seconds of the game against Ghana. Plus the game winner by 21-year-old substitute, John Brooks at 86 minutes - four minutes after Ghana’s equalizer. And we’re only 14 games in. We got like, 60 something to go. So get on board. There’s plenty of room on the bandwagon. It’s not like you have a valid excuse to not get in to it. And maybe in four years, comedians will have to write a different joke about soccer. 

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Text 11 Jun 2 notes Trolling Fun with Gun Nuts

Last night I posted this on Facebook….

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It’s almost as if the NRA represents multimilllion dollar gun manufacturers instead of the best interests of the country…

But that can’t possibly be true because they’d have to do something like 1. Pretend the Second Amendment isn’t about state militias from the 1700s. And 2. Scare Americans into thinking they should own a lot of guns.

They’d never do either of those things. Because 1. Duh, we all know the history of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights like the back of our hands. Like, we could all take a test right now and get perfect scores. Blah blah… Anti-Federalists, James Madison, we got it. And 2. We’re way too analytical and use way too much critical thinking to be fooled by simple scare tactics.

I mean, why would anyone pretend that drug cartels, drug dealers, terrorists and/or a tyrannical government were coming after me if it wasn’t true??? So what if having a gun significantly increases the chances of there being a homicide or suicide in my own home? It’s not like I could just get a big dog or something. There are terrorists coming to my house! They’d just use the ‘throw some meat in another direction’ trick that all terrorists use. I need to have 30 guns. To shoot all of them at the terrorist drug cartels.

Plus, you’ve got all these hunters that need huge machine guns to kill pheasants and salmons and stuff. You can’t stop hunters. They don’t know that some stores sell food!

So don’t try me with any of your anti-gun stuff, Liberal lame stream media! Next thing you’re gonna do is try to tell me that oil companies would want to make us believe climate change isn’t happening because it would hurt THEIR profits! Or that ‘smokers rights’ companies aren’t grassroots libertarian guys and are actually led by tobacco companies. I mean, as if.

Pew pew pew pew pew
America

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It was basically just a dumb reaction to being frustrated with seeing all of the gun arguments on Facebook after the most, most recent spree of shootings. Not the 6 gun sprees you’re thinking of, the newest new 6. So this is me throwing up my hands.  Anyway, the fun really begins in the comments. That’s when I began giggling and reading aloud to people in the room.   

Apparently you can just say anything to gun fanatics and they think you’re serious.

Click here and enjoy the trolling. Also, as of right now, it’s still happening.

And I’m not making light of the victims of gun violence. I’m on their side. And I have like, zero power to take anyone’s gun away. So don’t come after me with either thing. This is purely for entertainment purposes. 

But seriously, it’s almost as if the NRA represents multimilllion dollar gun manufacturers instead of the best interests of the country…

TROLL AWAY!

Text 3 Jun Mike Bridenstine’s Italian Travel Guide

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Way back in May, I decided to take a trip overseas with my special lady friend. If you are friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen (and gotten sick of) some of the photos already. But I decided to write about the trip anyway. At first it was just me looking up some of the things I saw so I could remember what happened at a later date. I’d taken trips to foreign countries before and regretted not doing the same thing. Then I decided to share it with the lady friend. And now I decided to let everyone see. If they want to. 

I decided to go to Italy (specifically to Rome, Florence and Venice) because I’ve been a long time nerd for history (specifically, but not exclusively the Roman Empire, its fall, early Christianity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance), as well as for art (specifically, but not exclusively the Florentine High Renaissance). And I don’t know if I saw Gladiator one too many times in college. And I don’t know if the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles swayed my preferences in sculpture and painting one way or the other. But just know that these three Italian cities were always on top of my list of places I wanted to visit. I just never thought I’d ever go. And why would I? I grew up in a small town in Iowa. I never had any money. And I didn’t even travel on an airplane until I was 13. But the opportunity came up (people have heartburn and need an adorable family to tell them which antacid to purchase) and instead of drinking the money away, this time I decided to leave home and travel (for the first time ever) without it having to do with work or as a prepaid trip with my family.    

Listen, I’m not Mark Twain and this isn’t The Innocents Abroad. And I’m not Anthony Bourdain, am not a foodie, don’t refer to food as ‘dishes’ and wouldn’t know the first thing about fancy pants food or the fancy pants wine to pair it with to make it extra fancy in the pants. I’m just a dude. Except this time I’m a dude who has totally been to Italy. I’m already practicing saying, “You’ve never been to Italy? Oh you simply must go.” So, all that being said, here’s what we did. It’s the stuff I found interesting along the way. And I hope you enjoy.    

Day 1 - Rome.

Day 2 - Rome.

Day 3 - Rome.

Day 4 - Rome.

Day 5 - Florence.

Day 6 - Florence.

Day 7 - Florence/Venice.

Day 8 - Venice.

Day 9 - Venice.

Text 30 May 7 notes Why Actors and Theater Majors Need to Take a Goddamn P.E. Class

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In 1991, a famous baseball player named Fred McGriff appeared in a commercial for Tom Emanski’s instructional baseball videos. And he’s horrible. I mean, just hawrrible. It’s so bad that it seems like someone came back from the future to do a parody of how hawribble Fred McGriff is in the Tom Emanski instructional video commercial. Except it’s actually just 1991 Fred McGriff being super hawribble.

I need to explain this better. 

Have you seen Office Space? Okay. Remember Orlando Jones’ character? “Good evening sir, my name is Steve. I come from a rough area. I used to be addicted to crack, but now I’m off and trying to stay clean. That is why I’m selling magazine subscriptions and I was hoping you would help me out.” If you do remember him, now just dial him back a few notches, put him in a two-sizes-too-big foam Baseball World cap and make him say, “I’m so impressed by the instructional videos by Coach Emanski that I’ve given them my full endorsement.” He’s like the Office Space Crack Head Steve of acting.

BUT

Here’s something I just learned: Baseball player Fred McGriff is exponentially better at acting than most actors are at baseball.

If it sounds like I’m making that up, I assure you I am not. Just as a throw-away example, I’ll use famous actor Tom Cruise from the famous 1992 movie, A Few Good Men.          

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In one scene, famous actress Demi Moore confronts Tom Cruise about two imprisoned Marines while he’s supposed to look like he’s taking batting practice.

Oh man. It’s just so bad.

And I know he’s playing a U.S. Navy lawyer and not a professional baseball player, but whoever he’s playing has definitely never swung or held a baseball bat before in his life. Tom Cruise was more believable saying he was in love with a human woman on Oprah’s couch in 2005 than he was awkwardly dropping his hands and shoving the bat through the strike zone in this movie. It’s so bad, they can’t even really show it on camera. Through Hollywood trickery, most of his no-wristed, little kid swings are hidden away. If Jack Nicholson really wanted to burn him later in the movie, he could have just said, “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH… and by ‘the truth’ I mean a youth sized baseball bat and an underhand lob down the middle.” I mean, why not just change the scene to have Tom Cruise’s character on a basketball court so we can see him hold the ball at his chest and shove it as hard as he can at the backboard with both hands every time he shoots? Why not just have him at a lap pool flailing around in the deep end and drowning? At least with Fred McGriff they could SHOW him saying words on the screen.     

I’m getting to my point…

This week I began shooting a no budget independent movie about baseball. For the record, I just want to say that it’s been a lot of fun, I’ve met a lot of great people and I think it’s going to be really good. With that out of the way, let me just say that I was AMAZED at how bad everyone was at baseball. And listen, I’m no athlete. In my most recent commercial, my character ‘forgot to work out’ because he’s average. And ‘average’ is a gigantic upgrade for me. Anyone who knows me has heard me complain about the roles I have to audition for. Some are flat out humiliating. Of the first ten commercial auditions I went on in L.A., I want to say nine of them were just me having to take my shirt off because that was supposed to be the humor. I once shot a non-union Heineken Light commercial in Spain where my character’s name was ‘Frat Boy’… but since they don’t know the word ‘Frat’ in Spain, everything they had for me (my call time, my trailer, my script, etc.) just said, “Fat Boy” on it. There are a thousand other examples, but you get the picture. Plus, I already look like I humble bragged about 20 times in this paragraph as it is. 

Anyway, my character in this no budget independent movie is really no different. Without spoiling any of the plot (safety first), just know that there’s a team with stud athletes playing a team of garbage schlubs. And you can probably guess which team I was cast to play for. So why IN THE WORLD am I one of the best baseball players on the field in real life? It’s amazing. I played in high school, but I hit .195 the last year I played [READ THIS NEXT]. And, unlike me, these guys look like real athletes. The best real-life player in the cast is a guy whose character is also supposed to be amazing at baseball. And turns out, he really is. He played D3 baseball and he looks like he could lift a gym over his head and then ride off on a horse. Then there’s me and maybe three other guys who played high school baseball and look passable (most of whom were not cast to play the stud athletes). Then there’s a cavernous gap in ability until you get to everyone else who throws like they’re shot putting, with the accuracy of 50 Cent doing a publicity stunt at that Mets game. And the swings? Don’t get me started on the swings. They make Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men look like Ken Griffey Jr. It’s as if they got a high school team high and told them to go play a game with their opposite hands. Except they’re sober adults playing the role of ‘really good baseball player.’

Since I feel like a dick for saying all of the above (because everyone is nice and talented and blameless), I do have a solution. Ready?

Every theater school in the country and every acting coach charging more than a dime for their classes - I want you to listen to me - has to teach its male students how to throw a baseball and swing a baseball bat. I’m being completely serious. Baseball movies are part of the fabric of our country. That’s not hyperbole. That’s a fucking fact. And we need to keep making them, but Kevin Costner (apparently the only actor in Hollywood with the skill set to throw a ball 60 feet 6 inches) is 59 years old and can’t do this shit forever. And I’ll be damned if I live in an America where my baseball movies look like the scene in A Few Good Men or the scene in the last season of House of Cards where Frank Underwood is playing catch with Meechum from 10 fucking feet away with the same throwing motion as a darts player or someone playing mini hoop. PEOPLE MAKE SPORTS MOVIES, THEATER KIDS. WHY DOES STAGE COMBAT CLASS EXIST AND NOT ‘STAGE THROW A BASEBALL LIKE A GODDAMN MAN’ CLASS?

Again, I want to say that everyone in the cast is super nice and really talented. And the fact that I know they’re helplessly terrible at baseball is not their fault. It’s their acting coach’s fault. To be fair, it’s their dad’s fault. But it’s their acting coach’s fault and we need to do something about that. What we really need… more than ever… is Tom Emanski.             

Photo 14 Mar 52 notes I drew some stuff.  First real attempt at drawing in 11 years.  #artminor

I drew some stuff.  First real attempt at drawing in 11 years.  #artminor

Text 22 Jan 169 notes Richard Sherman is Smarter Than You

If you’re like me, the biggest news story of 2014 (so far) isn’t Bridgegate, or the Polar Vortex or legalized weed in Colorado (although we do have an all-weed state Super Bowl) it’s when Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks did this on Sunday…

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"I’m the best corner in the game!  When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the results you gon’ get!  Don’t you ever talk about me!"  

I had people over at my apartment to watch and we probably rewound the DVR 15 times.  Giddily.  Not the actual play - where Sherman stopped the 49ers’ winning drive to win the NFC Championship by amazingly deflecting a pass intended for Michael Crabtree in the end zone with 30 seconds left (we only rewound that four or five times) - but him TALKING about it after the game.  And that’s what most of American sports fans were talking about too.  Conservative types and uptight sports analysts talked about how Sherman had no class and was unsportsmanlike.  Actually, if you watch Fox Sports interviewer, Erin Andrews’ face during Sherman’s tirade, she looks like she’s just smelled a really bad fart.  Then she indignantly asks, “Who was talking about you?”  And Sherman responds with, “Crabtree.  Don’t you open your mouth about the best.  Or I’ma shut it for you real quick.  L.O.B.!”  You know, in reference to the Legion of Boom, Seattle’s secondary.  And then they cut away.  Sorry, conservative types.  And sorry, Erin Andrews.  This may not be one of your precious TruBiotics commercials.  But Richard Sherman just moved more products than you ever will.  And nobody seems to get it.  Let me help you…  

Richard Sherman just made the league, and more importantly, himself millions of dollars.  Because isn’t that was this is all about anyway?  I’m not an NFL fan and I didn’t even know who Sherman was before he gave that interview, and I’m technically in a Nike commercial with him.  But now most of America knows who he is.  And people will be more invested in the Super Bowl - to see him back up his statements or to see Peyton Manning make him eat his words.  Endorsements are going to come falling from the sky.  He’ll probably even be an analyst when his career is over.  Nothing but good is going to come from this.  But I also understand all of that because I understand professional wrestling.  And, more specifically, I understand the art of cutting a promo.   

With the advent of television in the late 40’s and early 50’s, professional wrestling entered its first Golden Age.  And the new medium also added another dimension to the sport - the promotional interview.  It’s known in the wrestling business as “cutting a promo,” and its use is designed to advance wrestling’s storylines, feuds and gimmicks.  Basically, talking shit on television has been a staple of American sports and culture since its inception.  And it can also sell a lot of merchandise.  In 1996, a little known wrestler who had previously been going by the awful name of ‘The Ringmaster’ won the the WWF’s King of the RIng tournament by defeating Jake “The Snake” Roberts.  Roberts had been using a new Born Again Christian gimmick.  And the Ringmaster was now going by “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.  And after defeating Roberts, Austin strutted down to an announcer for his coronation interview.  Austin berated Roberts for being a has been before proclaiming, “You sit there, and you thump your Bible, and you say your prayers and it didn’t get you anywhere!  Talk about your Psalms, talk about John 3:16.  Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!”  The promo was designed to make the crowd hate Austin even more.  It didn’t work.  It launched him into superstardom and his ‘Austin 3:16’ t-shirt is one of (if not the) most popular and highest selling t-shirts of all time.                    

The art of the promo is also the difference between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.  Frazier was every bit Ali’s equal in the ring and has 41 heavyweight rounds of boxing with Ali to prove it.  But in 2006, Muhammad Ali sold 80% of the rights to his name and likeness for $50 million.  And when an HBO documentary crew interviewed Joe Frazier in 2009, he was living in a small room in the back of his Philadelphia boxing gym.  What’s that got to do with wrestling?  Well, when a young Cassius Clay met a wrestler named Gorgeous George (or it might have been “Classy” Freddie Blassie, he’s not sure) in 1961, George told him, “A lot of people will pay to see someone shut your mouth.  So keep bragging, keep on sassing and always be outrageous.” Georgeous George was one of the first television stars in wrestling history.  And after that, Clay/Ali was inspired to say things like that he would “float like a butterfly [and] sting like a bee,” before his title fight with Sonny Liston in 1964.  After he defeated the heavily-favored Liston for the first of his three heavyweight titles, the ‘Louisville Lip’ repeatedly shouted, “I shook up the world,” and “I am the greatest,” while reporters (who looked like they just smelled a bad fart) struggled to for an interview.  Look familiar, Erin Andrews?  Oh, I should also mention that supposedly 97% of Americans over the age of 12 can recognize Muhammad Ali.  0% of Mike Bridenstines could have recognized Richard Sherman before Sunday.  But that’s before Sherman 3:16 said he just whipped your ass.

The most recent Sports Illustrated even said that Sherman was “impersonating a WWE villain in his post game interview.”  Exactly.  What did you want him to say? That his team played hard and he gives thanks to God, first and foremost?  That’s boring.  You can keep your classy.  I’ll keep my “Classy” Freddie Blassie.  And I’m rooting for Sherman in the frozen tundra of MetLife Stadium at Super Bowl XLVII on February 2nd.  And that’s the bottom line.   


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