Yesterday, we published a very brief blurb about the Cubs signing Cuban pitcher Juan Yasser Serrano. Turns out that, much as there's a blog for the wide varieties of stinky cheese out there, there also exist websites dedicated to following the Cuban past-time. This article, which was meant as nothing more than a brief update on a news story with only a hint of commentary (because, frankly, there's not much to comment on) was picked up by some kind of crazy "cbox" It's sort of like our ShoutBox, but they talk about Cuban baseball.
There, some douchebag named Jeff Hainey had this to say about the blurb in general and Cub fans in particular:
"...wow that's the worst article I've read in a long time...he couldn't even get the headline right."
"U.S. is not very aware cosmopolitan, wise. They think Ven/Dom/Cubans are all basically the same. They don't want to learn much more. Especially a midwesterner. The east coast will get you writing that is more intense and they will know more about every team and more about foriegn (sic) countries. Chicago people
have tunnel vision. They don't know who plays for anyone else...it comes from their announcers, their newspapers, their sports talk shows...they have to have a baseball expert on to get sensible news from their own teams."
Jeff Hainey then elaborated as follows:
"Generally speaking, it's night and day between Cubs fans and WSox fans.
The WSox fan is much more knowledgeable...but the general fan bases of both teams are lead down the homerism alley by all media outlets. It's Chicago or
nothing...expanding to it's America or nothing...and that is more true of the Cub fan due to the demographics."
I appreciate how he reversed his own opinion immediately. From "they only care about Chicago" to "...er, and America in general, but definitely not Cuba or anything in the Caribbean."
To put icing on the cake, a Goat Reader went there, called Hainey a moron, noted that this blog is humor-oriented, and pointed out the "cursive Cubs/Cuba logo" connection, and saw his posts promptly deleted. The cause of deletion probably had something to do with this line: "did your sense of humor fall off of your makeshift raft somewhere in the gulf of Mexico?" Snap.
Of course, Hainey's main point of contention was that he didn't get the joke and that we posted a picture of the wrong Cuban with the story. Sorry, folks. I took a trip recently and left my portable media guide of Cuban baseball stars in a bathroom at the Niagara Falls/Buffalo border. I therefore had to rely on a Google image search and that picture was the first one I found when I typed in "Juan Yasser Serrano." I guess that makes me ignorant.
I suppose he might also not have liked how I noted that it was the first Cubs signing of a Cuban player in "recent history" aka "the past few years," while speculating that Cuban prospects fail perhaps as often as prospects from any part of the Caribbean. (Actually, I didn't speculated, I pondered. I asked out loud, "I wonder how many actually succeed?") I also noted that Yasser Serrano (I'm sure Hainey is relieved that I made no Yasser Arafat jokes, nor Pedro Serrano references, because that'd just be ignorant) was "reportedly" 21 years of age.
Since those comments reek of tunnel vision, I thought I'd expand on them a bit here.
Of the 135 Cuban defectors between 1991 and 2007, only 24 made it to the majors. Of those 24, the most successful have been guys like Rey Ordonez, Livan Hernandez, Jose Contreras*, and Livan's brother Orlando Hernandez*. None of these guys are even remotely Hall of Fame bound, although they've all experienced successful years in the majors.
(*Orlando Hernandez, when he first defected, was believed to have been born in 1969. He was later revealed to have been born in 1965 -- or earlier! Contreras, meanwhile, has also faced birth certificate scrutiny I only mention it because I speculated that Yasser Serrano might be older than his listed age. But I'm sure that Hainey thinks I'm just being narrow-minded.)
He was right about one thing, though. I mentioned that Yasser Serrano's fastball had been clocked in the low 90's. The truth is, it ranged from the high 80's to the low 90's, which means his heater isn't consistently hot, if you catch my drift.
Anyway, to wrap this up, I would like to pass one final message onto Mr. Hainey:
I am not from the Midwest. I grew up on the east coast, but have been a resident of Canada for nearly six years. In other words ... I live in a country where I can travel to Cuba whenever I want for as long as I want. Maybe you do too, maybe not, but you accused me of being narrow-minded and a homer for the Cubs. Sir, if I was a homer for the Cubs, then I would have been blowing bubbles all over Jim Hendry's ass for signing this sure-to-be godsend of a Cuban defector. I would have heralded it as a steal, a true marvel of a move that would benefit the Cubs now and for years to come. I would be defending Yasser Serrano against all slights, all criticisms, all insults. After all, if I was a homer, the Cubs could do no wrong and every Chicago prospect would be the best in baseball.
I would not be downplaying the signing. I would not be writing articles about how most Cuban ballplayers fail to accomplish much in the majors (or if I did, I would be trumpeting Serrano as an exception!). And I certainly would not be taking an immediate defensive stance against even the mildest of criticisms levied at a Cuban baseball player by some hack blogger... which is exactly what you did. You are a Cuba mark, sir. Plain as day.
P.S. I don't read the rags and I don't listen to sports radio. Your comments about me, Cub fans like me, and baseball in general is an epic, indescribable WRONG. Sir, go directly to FAIL. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.
Rob wrote a fine piece the other day, skirting the issue of Cub bloggers who manage to walk the precarious tight rope between a ridiculously inflated sense of self-importance and a throbbing, pulsing insecurity complex. Kind of harkens back to the old saying, "If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself." Who knew that Cubs bloggers could turn it into such a finely honed art? They've managed to feel both vain and bitter at the same time when comparing themselves to the same person!
At GROTA, we've thought often about being more of an insult blog. It's a winning concept - identify a stupidly written article (and there are so many out there), rip it to shreds, call the writer names that I'd never use in a face-to-face scenario because it would get me punched (or sued), and profit. Epic win for everybody. The problem is that it requires a tremendous amount of energy that I simply do not have. You would have to strap me to a chair and force open my eyes with toothpicks to get me to regularly read any of the blogs involved in this fiasco.
Maybe it's a winning concept, but then again tabloid journalism often is. And in this case, Cubs blogs are the equivalent of British tabloid op-ed pieces (often featuring writers with scowling pictures above their articles, looking angry and absurd), which feature ridiculous, contrived opinions expressed solely with the intent of evoking a titillating response from the reader. The only problem is that I get the feeling that these idiot bloggers actually mean most of what they say. They actually don't see a problem with the way they act, and they seem to feel a legitimate sense of surprise -- and uproarious anger -- if anybody does to them what they do to others (see an article I wrote this past year in which I merely quoted the things people were saying about me and responded to them -- you'd've thought I unapologetically ran over their children on live TV).
In this case, as you probably know, the target of the bloggers was at first Paul Sullivan. These dopes ask: "how dare he call an idiotic ex Cub an "idiot" (when I've called Sully and others names far worse) and actually get paid a good living for it, while I work in a cubical and stay up past midnight every evening just to blog!?!" And later the target became Julie, who is associated with Chicago Now. The dopes ask in her case: "how dare she latch her fat ass onto a multi-million dollar organization and get wide-spread traction for her work while I slave my fat ass off for maybe a thousand hits a day?!?!"
Well, folks, Paul Sullivan had the right to call Milton Bradley an idiot on his Twitter stream. It wasn't a big deal. He's also not obligated to let you shit-disturb on his page. Why should he? Does he owe you anything? Did you save his life back in 'Nam, only to be betrayed now by his ruthless Twit-Block? The bloggers who objected to Sully's name-calling also had the right to act -- that's right, "act" -- pissed and write a thousand word flaming diatribe against him. But shame on us (even me) for drawing attention to their ridiculous reaction. In making such a big deal out of this, we've given them all the reinforcement they'll ever need to keep acting cantankerous.
Meanwhile, if bloggers have the right to call Sullivan an idiot, then they also have the right to call each other -- and Julie -- names. She obviously doesn't like it, no matter how loudly she protests that she doesn't care, but that's probably part of why they do it. (I think they also like to call her "fat" because it's an easy misdirection of their raging jealousy. Remember, every Cubs blogger arrogantly thinks he or she is the best, and therefore is insanely jealous of any Cubs blogger who is widely recognized as being better. And Julie is better. Deal with it, champ.)
Sullivan has quietly ignored them. That was probably the right response. Not only is this shit way, way below his level, but there's nothing more infuriating than a calm response to an emotional attack. Julie, meanwhile, has made a pretty big deal out of the way she is treated by those dopes, which will just stoke their fire. That was probably not the smartest move on Julie's part.
I write this from my own experiences, of course. This blog has had a handful of run-ins with the sites responsible for this current round of drama. I swore off reading one of the blogs in particular after its head writer failed to wrap his mind around Rob, who follows the Cubs from an emotional stance, not a clinical one (I sort of think he -- the blogger, not Rob -- has Asberger's or something equally debilitating). Said blogger voiced an apparently sincere desire for Rob to drop a toaster while standing in a filled bathtub. I therefore assume he doesn't actually feel offended by Sullivan's use of the word "idiot," but I wouldn't know for sure. I am continuing in my sincere effort to never again read another of his written words. I think that's a lot easier than butting heads with he and his site repeatedly. I don't deny their right to exist and to spout fascist-level hatred at every opportunity, I just choose not to actively participate.
As for the guys on the other end of this debate, I personally believe that, like their debating rivals, they are sincerely unpleasant, petty people. Fortunately for them, a few are also actually pretty funny, hence their dips into the mainstream, which I'm sure has evoked all kinds of jealousy from the bloggers who think they're more deserving. (Sorry, champ, if you were more deserving you'd be on Kap's show, too.) Their problems are many, mostly surrounding their total lack of a sense of the appropriate. Sadly for the blogs they are associated with, sooner or later the ridiculous, flaming insults they launch will overshadow the content of the actual writers... assuming that hasn't already happened.
So, on one end we've got a group of Cubs bloggers who have no sense of the appropriate and, if given enough rope and time, will someday hang themselves with their words. On the other end we've got a group of Cubs bloggers who have no sense of the appropriate, mixed in with an overwhelming fight response to any criticism levied their way.
Sounds like the kind of match that the dating websites could only dream of. May their entanglement last forever, but GROTA and all sensible blogs will likely bow out.
Have at it, boys and girls. We'll be here, talking about the Cubs, for better or worse.
Cub Blogger Nation has evolved, or devolved over the years, depending on your point of view. It appears that some of our best and brightest, and I sincerely mean it when I say it, have done their best to close the gap between themselves and what we'd call the 'legitimate media', which means the Sun-Times, Tribune and Herald, WGN radio, and the collection of TV outlets. They've met, befriended and betrayed, variously, Len Kasper, David Kaplan, Paul Sullivan, Bruce Miles, and others.
I mean, I see it. I'm not going to name names today, but I have met, broke bread with, sat at games with, and have followed the exploits of nearly all of the principals in last week's Cub Blogger Catfight. They are closer to the media action than we are here. They are closer to Chicago in proximity, they know people who know people, and if I had the combination of a) proximity, b) time, c) connections, I would do exactly the same thing.
I was jealous when a few of them got to be on Kaplan's show last month, I won't kid you. In fact, once upon I time, I considered myself to be equal to those guys in terms of notoriety, but due to the reasons cited above, plus some notable and unfortunate lack of focus in my personal life, I have fallen off the grid a bit. Yes, when I started writing about the Cubs starting in 1998, it was initially a journaling exercise, but after a few initial successes, I saw perhaps a future in the media surrounding the Cubs for myself.
And it may still happen, to a certain extent, someday, but there have been some decisions I have made, which many of the principals know about, that have caused me to separate from the inner circle of Cub blogdom that seems to have some connection to the "legit media".
What that means, for me, is that I don't get to do fun stuff like go on "Sports Central". But what that means, for you, that we don't have any affiliations with anyone that may serve to color our viewpoint of what we REALLY feel is important; simply, the chances that this God-forsaken franchise will ever win a Pennant and/or World Championship in our lifetimes.
I come out here to express my views on how close, or far away, the Chicago Cubs are from winning it all in any given year. So does Kurt and AJ, and whomever else comes along in the future. Now, sometimes, we'll hear something said or written by another blogger, or a member of the media, that is so contrary to the real picture that we may comment on it. That concept seems to be the core concept that is driving many of the most well-known Cubs blogs.
They've gotten too close, in my humble opinion. We here are unbeholden, and our only bias is to the success of the Cubs baseball team. Whether the announcers say dumb stuff or the game recaps and trade rumors in the paper are dumb, really doesn't matter much to us. This is all about the Blue W on the White Flag, nothing more or less.
This is where you can always go to find out what a small group of rabidly observant Cub fans notice about the team. End of story. Go Cubs!!
...because a full 9 innings is just too hard.
And scrappy Mike leads off the inning with a hit as the game starts anew, tied in the 6th.
8:46 And Lee with another single as Backe fumbles with his shoes. Backe wearing a nice strappy sandle, fit for a nice summer gather. Picks up clay like a bitch, though.
8:47 The Astros have a pitching coach names Dewey...I can only assume he's a local hero. Oh, and the 20k game? Total crap. Should have been a no hitter. I can only assume the appeal is burried in paperwork.
8:48 Oh snap, Len just made the same joke. Is that a positive? And if so, for whom? Who?
8:50 Oo, pitching change. Well, at the close of 4 minutes, the Cubs are still tied 3-3 but have ducks on the pond (metaphorically speaking).
8:51 Alright, I know that I just saw a commercial telling me that people love comcast, but I'm having a hard time believing it. You see, I had Comcast, and it's not fit for homeless people. Stick with RCN. It's muy bien. And as I type that, we have a Derrek Lee Special. Boo. Oo! More commercials!
8:55 So, Big Z is out, maybe with an injury, but all I can think about is that this live blogging is moving the wrong direction. Isn't the most current time supposed to be on top? I've never done this before. On the plus side, I don't imagine anyone is reading this live, so it can just read as an article.
8:56 I think Zambrano was just dehydrated. It's freakin' hot out there. Right? RIGHT?
8:58 Why is everyone ignoring the real issue here? Howry is being allowed to pitch in a tied game. Will we never learn?
8:59 Can I just say that I love that an extra ball fell out of the vines. Len thinks Edmonds threw the wrong ball.
9:00 Holy crap, Howry is bad. But on the plus side, Therior says he is built like a Greek God. Um...yeah.
9:06 Sorry, got a little stunned by Howry's inability to pitch. A fun little Did You Know: Howry throws lots of strikes and they all hit bats. That's bad. No wait, now a walk. Holy Crap. This is an outstanding losing streak we've got going.
9:08 ...and the boo bird reign down. You know, this commercial for Bud Light and x-ray vision is totally sexist. You could never get away with a commercial like that featuring a hot chick and then a fat chick. I'm going to fight this discrimination. I'm going to form an national organization of men and it shall be called...America.
9:11 ...and, I've officially lost the will to live. My cat just removed my shoelaces...and hung herself with them. I'm sad, but really I just don't want to deal with it.
9:12 A seventh run, sure, but not RBI. Sit on that, Tejada! Boo ya!
9:14 I'd just like to point out the plus side here: three homers. And not one of those three homers was a single. Not one!
9:15 Have I ever mentioned how annoyed I am that they added the tag line to the end of that Pepse commercial "Goodbye Mr. Made-of-different-stuff guy". Yes, we are too stupid to get that he was made up of different stuff. We get it. We're dumb. Thanks for the clarification.
9:16 Shit, still haven't got Hawk tickets. No, seriously, that wasn't sarcasm. Hockey's fun, I swear. I mean, do you have something better to do this winter? Drink? You can do that at a hawk game.
9:18 Wrestler or super hero? I think the word you're looking for is "idiot".
9:20 Ge-o So-to clap clap clapclapclap
9:21 I'm pretty sure he heard my clap clap clapclap clap
9:22 Okay, fine, I love Theriot too. Oh, what the hell, I love all you'se knuckle heads. Commere
9:23 Pitching change. I should probably take this opportunity to pee. Oop, too late, game's back on. Chris Sampson on the hill. You know, if you cut off his hair, he loses all his power.
9:24 No really, it's true.
9:27 How is this guy getting outs? Seriosuly? Jesus, hit this guy.
9:28 COMEON COMEON whew, all in the dirt. An I still have to pee.
9:29 is there any way to describe blocking a pitch in the dirt that doesn't sound like gay fan fiction?
9:30 fair, really? Come on. DeRosa time.
9:31 And by DeRosa, I mean Fontenot, and by time, I mean FRICKIN' AWESOME
9:32 Okay, we've got wagers going on how Derrek manages to hit into a double play. Who's in?
9:36 Bladder=void. Sadly, I didn'y make it to the bathroom but, on the plus side, my khaki shorts are now multi-hued.
9:38 Who's happy to see Angel Guzman? *raises hand*
9:39 Interesting side note: If you didn't raise your hand, you're a godless communist. Why do you hate America?
9:41 Guzman is slow. Maybe he's letting his tendons heal between pitches?
9:42 Oh for God's sake. Throw a God damn strike. Jeebus.
9:44 I do believe Brian Campbell is quite ugly. How was he picked? The only Blackhawk who had heard of baseball?
9:47 Ah, that's right, the big new free agent. And Len, Matt Murton jokes with hockey players fall flat every time.
9:48 Holy crap, how can a professional athlete throw that badly? I mean, I get why I suck, but he's a million dollar athlete. I'm kind of serious here.
9:50 I'm convinced that the black, viscous fluid that courses through Edmonds's veins is the source of all his power. What ever it is, I love it.
9:53 When Marmol has control of his fastball, women ans small children cower.
9:54 To be honest, large children also cower. And small women. And husky men. And plus size models. And britney spaniels. And monkeys. And some types of tacos. Soft shell.
9:56 It's fairly hilarious that Gagne has the all-time record for hit/9 innings. The Brewers signed Bizarro Gagne, yes?
9:58 You and I both know he went around.
9:58 (still) A poem for Carlos Marmol:
There once was a man named Marmol
...shoot, that's all I've got. I'll keep working on it.
10:01 So...when does Theriot regress to the mean? Tomorrow, right?
10:02 For those scoreboard watching, the Brewers are all tied up.
10:06 orry, faded for a minute. But let me just say, I admire the way this guy doesn't throw strikes. Hey, it's Dewey, local hero!
10:08 And the Mets with the lead! 3-0 on Fontenot!
10:09 Loaded with one out for Derrek Lee. You know what this means, right?
10:10 ...just too poetic
10:11 How releaved am I that I didn't get the Lee jersey in the off season
10:13 Theriot gets a lot of shit for his baserunning blunders, but at last he only makes one out at a time. Lee really makes me sad.
10:17 I just heard the Pirates were eliminated. Somewhere a single tear falls from Bob Walk's eye.
10:20 Whoop...Ramirez brought the slippery glove.
10:23 Okay, we try the poem again:
His last name was Marmol, first name Carlos
His fastball ball was fast, VAMANOS
He went to the game
His resume hall of game
Okay maybe not but he's really good...a mos.
(I'll keep working)
10:27 METS WIN!!!
10:28 I can't believe they bunted with DeRosa. Insane
10:30 Oh yeah, bottom of the ninth. Nevermind, that's defensible
10:33 Oooooohhhhh Kaaayyy...Cubs going to extras, Jason getting tired. Hey, I have to work tomorrow. Seriously, score a run and make this game go away.
10:36 And with a nod of the head, Ramirez politely declines the Gold Glove.
10:43 Kerry Wood is very good at baseball. And yes, I'm getting very tired of blogging the game that will not end. I'm even thinking of buying a Ford...or a generic prescription
10:43 ....and now I want a Toyota. And popcorn. I'm very open to suggestion.
10:46 I'd say don't bunt, but it's Fukudome. I'm torn. He's got to take a couple, right?
10:48 Kose-Kay...you're making me sad.
...and company's here, so live blogging ends Go Cubs.
Epilogue: Alright, so the Cubs lost. That's 4 in a row at home and they are officially in a slump. Boo. Does Lou plan to keep Howry on the post-season roster, cause he's not getting anyone out this year. I dunno. Still, they are pretty much sure to make the playoffs, right?