Hey pals, I’m back. It’s been a long-awaited return, at least on my end. Here’s what I was up to this summer.
I lived in Brooklyn. This meant that I saw a lot of people on bikes with pink hair. Some of them wore beanies. Yes, it was the summer, so that was probably quite warm, but hipster culture knows no thermal bounds.
I don’t really know how to cook, so I ended up ordering out almost all of my meals. Yes, I both got fat and lost most of the money I was making. Thanks for pointing that out.
I not only became familiar enough with the subway system to satisfy my own logistical needs, but I even aided a tourist or two during my New York tenure. I was pulled aside once by a father of two on the AC track. He asked me “Hey, what’s the difference between the A and the C train?” to which I provided an adequate answer. I explained that they actually were the same train, but that the ones labeled “C” stopped at all the stops, while the trains labeled “A” only stopped a particular ones, making them express units. He then told me his desired location, and I further advised him on which train to jump on. He thanked me, and I felt like a New Yorker.
I went to the NBA Draft. I obnoxiously yelled at Rece Davis for so long that when I announced that I was leaving the draft, he stood up from his seat on set, waved at my pals and me, and said “you guys be safe tonight, seriously.” (Note: We were safe that night, all thanks to my new friend Rece)
A lot of other stuff happened, but I won’t linger here. I want to talk about baseball. America’s forgotten past time. You likely haven’t been paying attention (not many people do, nowadays) but there are seven things going on right now in baseball that you need to know for your own water-cooler competence. So, here we go.
1) Giancarlo (Mike) Stanton is the incredible hulk
He belted his 50th blast of the year on Sunday. I strongly believe that 43 of them, at least, have come after the all-star break.
Stanton’s embraced an Adrian Beltre-esque closed, static batting stance where he generates almost all his power from the torque of his hips opening up. Some hitters need a massive leg kick to unleash their home run power – not Stanton. Big Mike just swings his hips and hits the ball to the moon.
Most of Stanton’s dingers land somewhere in the left field bleachers, but every once in a while he’ll poke one down the right field line. This is the ultimate “mistake” home run. Stanton is just trying to spoil a fastball on the outer edge by fouling it out of play, but instead he lifts it to right field. For most human right-handed hitters, this results in a lazy fly ball to right field or an easily played pop-up somewhere in foul ground. For Big Mike, these balls find themselves over the right field wall.
His August run has many fans harkening back to Barry’s 2001 campaign where almost every single one of his at-bats resulted in a homer or a base on balls. He’s like the incredible Hulk hiding in a hideous neon-trimmed black Miami uniform.
He will win the NL MVP this year and anyone who says otherwise is blasphemous.
2) Rhys Hoskins’ parents can’t spell.
My fervent dedication to Philly sports is a well-documented aspect of my personal life. With this comes people commenting frequently on the current state of Philadelphia sports. Right now, the Phillies have a rookie named Rhys Hoskins who has hit 11 homers in his first 18 major league games. Believe it or not, that’s never been done before, and it’s become a talking point in my everyday life.
People now come up to me and say “Rhys Hoskins, huh. That dude is something else!” or you know. Something along those lines. But, every time they pronounce “Rhys” differently.
For reference, it’s not hard. It’s Reese. or Reece. Or Rece, like our pal, Rece Davis. It’s simple. But, given the unorthodox spelling and society’s inclination to generally refer to athletes by solely their last names, his abomination of a first name has seemingly slipped through conversational cracks.
I’ve received each of the following attempted pronunciations over the weekend:
- “Whoa! Man Rice Hoskins again!” Nope. That’s not right. Rhys is not a university in Houston, Texas, nor is he a native american delicacy. I, however, understand this error. The placement of the “Y” in the first name should definitely indicate that at some point in the name, there appears the long-I sound. But, no. It’s just Reese.
- “Dude, how about this Ra-Highs Hoskins guy” Hmm… This one is more of a stretch. You’re sort of just inserting your own personal syllable in between the R and the rest of the name. It’s sort of an unprompted pause, but because it’s such an unordinary word construction, you must make yourself more comfortable by breaking it down into simpler terms. So, you slow it all down and Reese becomes Ra-Highs. For me, as weird as this spelling is, I can’t really justify splitting it into two syllables. That’s a jump I can’t totally can’t behind.
- “Rise Hoskins is on fire!” Although his ascent and subsequent adjustment to the major league level has been astronomically successful, no. His name is not “Rise.” It’s Reese.
More often than not, folks just yell “Hoskins!” when he homers because it’s easy, simple, to the point, and uncontroversial. I’m not sure if a piece has been written on the spelling of Rhys’ name, but I need a Phillies beat writer on that pronto because he’s making Major League History here and most of the tri-state area can’t even pronounce his 4-word first name.
3) The entire American League is jockeying for the second Wild Card spot.
Ok, not every team. The White Sox aren’t. The Tigers aren’t. Those teams are bad and they do not have many good players.
The Oakland Athletics are 9 games back of the 2nd wild card spot, which technically isn’t unattainable, but considering they would have to jump over basically the rest of the American League to snatch the spot, it seems unlikely.
This brings me to another fascinating talking point: Name an Oakland Athletic.
They traded Sonny Gray and as I sit here writing this, I’m fairly confident that’s the only Athletic I could offer you. If I sat here and thought and went position by position, I’m sure I’d think of one or two, but the idea that you could stop me on the street on the way to class and go “yo, give me someone who plays for the A’s, now” and I would hesitate immensely is fascinating.
The Blue Jays. They’re 6 games back and José Bautista has hit lead-off a lot for some god-forsaken reason this year.
But other than those four sorry cases, the rest of the league is in the playoff hunt! Twins. Angels. Mariners. Orioles. Royals. Rays. Rangers. All stuck in a boiling pot of mediocrity! This will be a super fun race to the finish line. Except it probably won’t be, because none of those teams are actually good and I feel like this playoff race is like if you threw 7 helium balloons down a staircase and yelled “first balloon to the bottom gets the 2nd wildcard spot!”
4) The Dodgers have lost 2 games in a row.
Well, press the panic button I guess. The Dodgers have lost two games in a row and their season appears to be spiraling downward at a remarkable clip.
If you’re not aware, the Dodgers have won north of 70% of their ballgames this year. If you’re wondering when they last lost 2 games in a row, you have to go back to July 20 and 21 against Atlanta. Ok, just a little over a month, that’s not THAT insane, right?
Before they dropped those two against Atlanta, they last dropped two in a row on June 5 and 6 (!!!).
To recap: Since June 7, the Dodgers have only two different two games losing streaks.
Yes, what I’m telling you to do is to throw all of your money on the Dodgers Tuesday night in Arizona because there is no way in hell they’re losing three in a row.
Oh, and Kershaw comes back on Friday. Ho-hum.
5) The AL East race could be great again.
The Red Sox have lost 4 straight and the Yankees, propelled by a 5-error Mariner first inning on Sunday have won two in a row. Their AL East deficit has been cut to 2.5 games. Unfortunately, the two squads only have four games left between them this season, and it’s a four game set this weekend.
But, with the Sox reeling, it’s something to watch. Baseball is inherently more fun when the Sox and Yanks are the two AL East horses barreling down the final stretch, and it looks like that’s what this summer will come down to.
Marcus Semien! The Athletics shortstop! Got one.
6) Games are taking longer this season.
Despite MLB’s efforts to make baseball more watchable, games are actually taking longer this year.
Baseball people don’t seem to understand what they want. They complain because there’s not enough offense and homers, but then they also complain when games take four hours. Offense elongates the ballgame because baseball games are played on a linear 54-out scale. The longer it takes to secure those 51 or 54 outs, the longer the game takes to complete. If a team is scoring runs rather than recording outs, the game eats more time. It’s simple math stuff.
But, baseball’s inherent dilemma is that fans want both offense and quicker games. So, baseball tries to cut corners other ways. Like pitch clocks and between-inning clocks and batter’s box rules and other stupid stuff that no one adheres to or understands. There’s no way to shorten baseball games unless you cut down innings. Bottom line.
7) Football starts in two weeks.