Foul Ball

Deadpool = Royally Bad

Welp, I’m just going to say it-

 I would rather see the Royals in the 2016 playoffs than see Deadpool again.

…I knew from the opening credits, the way you know when your team is playing the Royals in a post-season game, that it was going to be a sh*t show-

I did NOT know it was going to be a seemingly un-ending, incredibly sexist, subtly racist barrage of torture porn and violence.

In fact, unlike most Royals games, I was looking forward to seeing Deadpool. It was my husband, a weary Hollywood screenwriter, who was dragging his feet on going (anything scripted gives him work agita.)

Then, his brother came to stay with us for the weekend and we were both like-

‘OMG, LETZ GO SEE DEADPOOL!

So, on a Sunday that started like a Wes Anderson movie (twins playing guitars,) we made our way to see DEADPOOL! and it went a little something like this-

The horror

I watched as it got more and more f*cked up.

It must have f*cked me up, because for days afterwards I couldn’t stop coming up with new ways to describe how awful it was. It consumed me. Finally, I hit rock bottom and created this-

We'll Never Be Royaaals

Contributers: Caravaggio, John Rieger & Thomas Shea @ USA TODAY Sports, Sluggerrr… & myself (for doing the cutting and pasting!)

 …It’s essentially a postmodern breakdown of game 2 of the 2015 ALDS.

‘We Will Never Be Royaaalsis the current working title, but I’m open to other suggestions.

The point is-

What I’ve made is ridiculous. It’s gratuitous and irreverent and just because it’s sorta funny doesn’t mean it has any right existing-

That is exactly how I felt about Deadpool.

I felt like it crossed too many lines while proving nothing-

Given how f*cked up the non-fiction world is right now, surely Hollywood can give us better than that?

This is actually happening in the world.

So, why do we need to have a leading man, in a superhero movie kids can’t help but want to see, graphically tortured to the point of disfiguration?

Many people go to the movies for a fun distraction. What if you were dealing with a cancer diagnosis? Recovering from a burn wound? What if you’re a survivor of domestic abuse? …That’s seriousperiod. Those lines between Deadpool and Vanessa that make light of being abused are not funnyperiod. :/

(By the way- People will laugh at a video of a person running into a pole over and over again. Does that make it a great film? What if the person running into the pole intermittently addresses the viewer and cracks a joke or two? Hmm?)

But, let’s move on-

to SEXISM!

I mean, I am a GRL first and I would not encourage other GRLS to see this movie.

Deadpool’s GRL problem is clearly depicted in the scene where Vanessa straps it on and whispers in Deadpool’s ear, ‘Happy International Woman’s Day.’

To me, that scene isn’t about Deadpool’s supposed bisexuality (if it is, it’s poorly done.) It’s about a fundamental misunderstanding of feminism-

Feminism isn’t about fucking over men. It’s not about dominance.

…It’s not even about ‘rejecting the overall roles that men and women play in our society—the notion that there should be any differences between the sexes whatever other than the physiological ones.

It’s about equality and choice.

…It’s not about wishing that all baseball analysts be women, but understanding the importance of women like Jessica Mendoza.

…It’s about being outraged by what happened to Erin Andrews and others before her. (If they were male, I’d be just as outraged, but they aren’t are they?)

…It’s about not making the female lead a helpless damsel-in-distress, whose fate is left in the hands of two giant a-holes

Seriously, Deadpool’s leaving was a d*ck move (also a stupid one)-

So, why doesn’t Vanessa move on to a new, better relationship? (One where her partner stays with her through the good and the bad.)

I’ll tell you why-

It’s because this movie also has an insidious slut-shaming problem that goes hand in hand with its sexism.

Case-in-point(s)-

-Vanessa is a sex worker when she & Deadpool meet, yet- you never see her with another guy (or girl.) Ever. (I guess she quit after she and Deadpool started dating.)

When Deadpool comes back after leaving her in the middle of the goddamn night… she’s single and working hard… at a strip club… as wait for ita cocktail waitressnot as a stripper- implying that if she was, she wouldn’t be good enough to be ‘Deadpool’s Girlfriend.’

But, the real question is-
Why can’t she be the running place? #GIRLBOSS

…To those of you who point to her coming to Deadpool’s aid in the final battle as evidence of her empowerment, I ask-

Why, because she saved her sarcastic d*ck of an ex after he left her and then came back only to get her kidnapped by the world’s most sadistic –and ridiculous- Brit?

Let’s just say, I’m not convinced.

I also had a problem with seeing Colossus –a giant man- repeatedly hitting Angel Dust.

Yes, Gina Carano is a badass, but- with all the domestic violence issues in pro sports today- do we really have to go there like that?

…Speaking of going there Karan Soni, the American-born actor who plays Dopinder (the cab driver with a heavy Indian accent,) actually speaks like this.

Casually breezing by the fact that Deadpool refuses to pay him and encourages him to kidnap his crush…

Isn’t that what Aziz Ansari is talking about here?

Why couldn’t Karan Soni use his normal speaking voice for that role?

This is 2016 not 1961.

To those of you still insisting-

‘But, that’s how it’s written in the comic books!’

Maybe, I’m saying I have a problem with how it’s written.

10410172_1533803476902733_7503932257698683052_n

‘What’s that? You like comic books?! I’m sorry, we can’t be friends- I only speak baseball.’

(That’s okay,

I’m not a comic book nerd-

Clearly, I mean, I am a GRL

& no GRLs like comic books, just like no GRLs like baseball… Right?)

…Look, I can’t stop Deadpool from doing really well or the Royals from making it to the playoffs again, but-

I can choose to believe that we’re better than that and that, unlike Deadpool, people shouldn’t be cynical to a fault. …I mean, I’m an O’s fan, but even I’m sorta pullin’ for the Cubs this year. Yeah, even after that #partyFowler with Dexter. (Just please, no more Royals. Pleaaaase.)

I leave you with this excellent review of Deadpool

& this drawing by my brother-in-law:

MyGod

Shaking my head, your grl on base.

 

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Playing Defense

On Lobsters, Breaking Balls and my love of Country Music (An Explantion)

The other day, this lobster* I know messaged me on Facebook.

He asked me about me, so I brought up baseball. I asked about him and he shared some music.

Listening to it, I remembered-

The lobster is a fantastic sax player.

Back in the day, I scampered around Baltimore with all sorts of crazy people to all sorts of crazy places to listen to bands, like the one the lobster was/is in. That is how we met- at a venue that I think was really just the basement of someone’s apartment.

I was recently single, a little stoned, and, earlier in the evening, I’d been on the receiving end of a sweaty hug from Dan Deacon- in other words, I was invincible.

So, spurred on by equally irresponsible girlfriends, I flirted with the sax-playing lobster…

We went out on a date…

I remember roaming the streets of Baltimore with him and it being very cinematically romantic…

And?

…I’m really not sure why I don’t remember there being many, any? more dates with this mysterious creature…

He was, in baseball metaphor, a breaking ballonly in the strike zone for a short amount of time and, somehow, he zigged away from me.

Which tells me- either he was simply moving away too fast or I was too slow, perhaps on purpose, letting him get away.

Actually- it might be that, while I felt invincible that night, I wasn’t really myself- and that is someone who, I have come to discover, is just a skinny, ½ Taiwanese chick who f*ckin loves baseball and country music.

…Don’t get me wrong, the glittering idealism of indie rock, music of the lobster, will always have a piece of my heart,

but it’s the gritty realism of country music that I’ve come to prefer.

Baseball, I think, straddles that line and is therefore awesome. Look at this breaking ball, for instance-

Breaking-ball-Korea-040315.gif

It is about as ideal and as nasty as it gets and it is awesome.

I can’t keep up with the indie scene anymore, but baseball and country music will always be my speed… Both rely on a tried and true story that is constantly being re-told in new and exciting ways by a shockingly diverse cast of characters… and, in the end, it’s different every time.

…Last week, the Mets tweeted this amazing picture of Bartolo Colon- #BigSexy is 42 and still playing baseball alongside this cool Cuban, 30, and, of course, Thor, 23.

It just doesn’t get any more shockingly diverse than those three… Unless, of course, it’s these four. 😉

Seriously though- the amount of diversity is one of my favorite things about baseball.

Here’s a great quote from Buck Showalter about the O’s new Korean outfielder, Hyun Soo Kim:

“I think he’s going to find out because of the teammates he has that they’re going to make his path a lot easier. And I think he’s going to find that baseball’s baseball. And we’re respectful of where he’s come from. We don’t have all the answers. There are some things we can learn from him. I’m going to pick his brain about some things that they do. We’re not in this world alone.”

And country music? How is it diverse, you ask?

America is changing and so is country music- we have a mixed president and, this year, America just might elect a country-lovin’ mixed chick as its American Idol. If you watch the linked video, you’ll see country-star and judge, Keith Urban, give Tristan McIntosh a standing O.

(Now, I love Keith, but even I lol-ed when I first heard John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16. John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16? Keith, you’re Australian– but I guess that’s my point, ain’t it?)

I love that to get into country music, all you have to do is believe in the story. While some songs go deeper than others, the message is always simple and relatable…

You see, country music believes in country first (Don’t most baseball fans start off cheering for the local team?) …and that all you need to be happy is something to work on, someone to love, and something to look forward to (even if it’s just drinking) …however, if you loose one, or all of those things, you might not be so happy (and want to drink.)

While not my favorite- Florida Georgia Line, experts in the ‘something to look forward to’ department, are mixin’ it up. In their own words, their ‘mixtape’s got a little Hank’ and ‘a little Drake’… and that right there is an important message disguised as a throw-away line. Now, if you actually clicked on those links (and you have one feminist bone in your body?) and those videos are killin’ you, don’t worry, Maddie & Tae have something to say about the ‘Girl In A Country Song.’

…In music, as in baseball, every generation has their classics– mine include Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tim McGraw-

Man, was I touched when I heard that the poor man ‘ain’t seen the Braves play a game all year.’ (This year, by the way, the Braves ‘hope to be very active internationally.’ Diversity! 🙂 )

& I’m not the only one for whom Tim McGraw is a classic- ‘Tim McGraw’ was Taylor Swift‘s first single! She became famous using country music to tell her stories and, now, she is one of pop music’s most majestic story-tellers.

She also said this at the 2015 ACMs:

“Somebody once told me that you truly see who a person is when you tell them something they don’t want to hear. You truly see who a person is when you give them news that they weren’t expecting. So to the country music community, when I told you that I had made a pop album and I wanted to go explore other genres, you showed me who you are with the grace you accepted that with. I will never forget it.”

What I’m ultimately trying to say here is- while some closed-minded people might like country music, country music itself is not closed-minded. It’s comforting. At least, it is for me & Tristan McIntosh. …Still not convinced? Maybe Alan Jackson can convince you-

& if that don’t work, maybe it ain’t for you, but at least now I have an explanation for all the lobsters and lobster-lovers in my life.

12049615_1636336649982748_1177529295554408142_nShall we end this with the O’s 7th inning stretch song? Yes, we shall.

*The night we met, he was performing in a band in which all the members were wearing crustacean-like heads (headpieces?)… The term ‘lobster’ was used to describe him at some point in the evening and it just stuck.

See ya’ll next time, your grl on base!

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Breaking Now

A Linky Piece Linking Baseball, & Cuba, & Trump! (Oh My!)

Did you watch the ‘Brothers in Exile – 30 for 30’? I did.

Now, a new pair of ball-playing Cuban brothers are in the news:

Yulieski Gourriel, 31, and his brother, Lourdes Gourriel Jr., 22, defected this month, hoping to make the jump to the major leagues.

While I’m curious where they’ll end up, I found myself more intrigued by where they came from –a place President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama plan to visit in March, ‘marking the first time in more than 80 years a sitting U.S. president will visit the country.’

Since Obama announced in December of 2014 that “the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba,” the US and Cuba have re-opened embassies and commercial air traffic has been restored.

As a framer, I’ve had the privilege of seeing some incredible art that Americans who have recently traveled to Cuba have brought back.

As a baseball enthusiast, I’ve wondered what this change in our relationship with Cuba has meant and will mean for Major League Baseball. Judging from the countless articles I’ve found online, I’m not the only one.

A New York Times’ article about the Gourriel brothers’ defection states: ‘The Gourriels’ apparent defections come as Major League Baseball and Cuba’s baseball federation seek a working relationship that would allow Cuban players to leave their country legally to play in the major leagues.’

…It also included this insane stat: ‘According to the website OnCuba, a record 150 ballplayers left Cuba in 2015, leaving many to lament a dropping level of play, as younger players have been called on to fill the rosters of the 16 domestic league teams.’

The 2016 exhibition game (against the Tampa Bay Rays) scheduled to take place during spring training next month was also addressed: ‘Plans for that game are still on, M.L.B. has said, but whether the apparent defections of the Gourriels will affect those plans remains to be seen.’

It’s fascinating to look at Cuba through the lens of baseball, which is so quintessentially American, but also so quintessentially Cuban.

In light of recent events, I’ve created a timeline of baseball in Cuba:

Nemesio1864- Nemesio Guilló* brings back Cuba’s 1st baseball bat and ball after studying at Springhill College in Alabama.

1868- Nemesio and his brother, Ernesto, found the Habana Base Ball Club and baseball begins to spread in Cuba.

October, 1868 The Ten Years’ War, the 1st of 3 liberation wars that Cuba fought against Spain, begins. The Spanish colonial government outlaws baseball, telling the island’s athletes to take up bullfighting instead, which is basically the same thing, right?

Baseball becomes a symbol of freedom.

1878- The Ten Years’ War ends in Cuban rebel defeat—But! The colonial government lets Cuba have its baseball and the Cuban League is founded. Nemesio’s Habana Club becomes a charter member of the league. Nemesio played the first few seasons, then retired, but his team, later known as the Habana Reds, went on to become the Yankees of Cuba.

Jump to- 1898- The Spanish-American War– The US intervenes in the Cuban fight for freedom from Spain and declares war. In December, the US and Spain sign the Treaty of Paris, which recognized Cuban independence.

1899- The All Cubans, a team of Cuban League players, become the first Latin American team to tour the US.

1900- The Cuban League starts admitting black players. Eventually, players from the Northern American Negro Leagues start going to Cuba to play baseball in the winter.

1902–05- The All Cubans return to the US, ‘exposing players to major league and minor league scouts and introducing black Cuban players to competition against the Negro leagues. Later, Negro league teams included the Cuban Stars and the New York Cubans, which were stocked mostly with Cuban or other Latin American players.’

Baseball takes off in Cuba…

1940’s-1950’s- ‘Amateur baseball’ thrives in Cuba. ‘Many of the leagues were composed of factory or businesses workers who represented their individual companies. … Cuban males were inclined to participate in the amateur leagues because they were an outlet from the everyday stresses they experienced in both work and family life. The passion of amateur play was not controlled by money or international recognition.’ (Black players ‘were excluded from amateur baseball and had to play for the semiprofessional teams.’)

‘…The growth of education in Cuba led to the decline of amateur baseball. As the players became more educated, they attempted to bypass the amateur level of ball and head straight for the Professional leagues… Opportunities the Professional leagues offered players gave them the option of playing for US teams and making more money…’

1961- Fidel Castro outlaws professional sports following the Cuban Revolution and new amateur baseball leagues are formed in place of the former professional system. ‘The revolutionary government made baseball a symbol of excellence and used it to encourage nationalism.’ Under the new system, players experienced a considerable cut in pay. ‘The reorganization aimed to organize the sport based on a socialist model of sports driven by national ideals rather than money. Revolutionary officials believed that under capitalism sport is corrupted by the profit motive.’

1991- The dissolution of the Soviet Union, Cuba’s main trading partner, hits Cuba’s economy hard. Many players, including Orlando and Livan Hernandez, defect in the 1990’s.

1999- The Cuban national baseball team plays in a two-game exhibition series against the Baltimore Orioles! (The O’s won the 1st game in Havana, the Cuban national team won the 2nd game in Baltimore.)

2014- Obama announces: “We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.”

2015- Let me just copy & paste that stat from earlier: ‘a record 150 ballplayers left Cuba in 2015.’ Also: ‘a delegation of major leaguers made a goodwill visit to Cuba in December… In a show of progress, the Cuban government allowed several major leaguers who were defectors — including Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox and Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers — to take part.’

2016- President Obama plans to travel to Cuba in March & the M.L.B. has plans for an exhibition game (also scheduled to take place in March.)

With all this progress being made- I can’t help but turn a critical eye to the current Presidential race.

Democratic nominees, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have both actively supported normalized relations between the US and Cuba.

Meanwhile, Republican nominees, Ted Cruz  and Marco Rubio, both Cuban-American, have rejected Obama’s efforts toward a better relationship with Cuba.

‘The 2016 Republican candidates ‘have it backward,’ Clinton (has) said. ‘Engagement is not a gift to the Castros, its a threat to the Castros. An American embassy in Havana isn’t a concession, it’s a beacon.’’

Then, there’s the incomparable Donald Trump, everyone’s favorite racist, not to mention Cruz and Rubio’s main competition, who said in 2015: “The concept of opening with Cuba is fine.”  Wow, ok, cool? Then, just a few days ago, he offered up this gem: “Maybe in our deal with Cuba, we get them to take it over and reimburse us, because we’re probably paying rent. We’re going to keep it open, but we’re going to get the cost down, because that’s ridiculous.”  The linked article went on to clarify, ‘the United States does not pay Cuba anything to operate the Guantanamo Bay base.’

What a world we live in… and what will 2017 bring for Cuban ball players hoping to find opportunity in the major leagues? The answer to that question seems to be as uncertain as -yet inextricably linked to- who will win the race for the White House.

*It just so happens, I have also been reading The League of Outsider Baseball, an awesome gift from an even awesomer brother-in-law. It’s where I got just about all my facts on Nemesio Guilló (see picture!)

Till next time, your grl on base.

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State of the Union

GOD BLESS O’MERICA

Alright, so, Bleacher Report predicted last week that the Orioles are only going to win 75 games in 2016.

Harsh toke, dude.

Now, when it comes to baseball, I’m still learning as I go, but all I have to say about that is, no. Just. No.

75?! That’s only 2 more games than the 2015 Phillies won.

I don’t know how they came up with that number, but last year, PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm/ fancy sabermetric projection thingy) predicted just 72 wins for the Kansas City Royals. That’s 1 game less than the Phillies actually won in 2015.

So, screw stats. What about SPIRIT? What about SWAG? ‘Cause a swaggy 161 million dollars checked into spring training camp early (Crush-ed it.) Jonathan Schoop and J.J. Hardy also checked in early. I bet they think they’re going to win more than 75 games this season.

And, ladies, it’s been reported that pitcher Chris Tillman checked into spring training with a hot new bod. (Thank-you, Roch Kubatko, for reporting on what really matters.) The word ‘abs’ was mentioned. Abs = Swag.

Also- we have Buck Showalter, who is essentially a baseball Yoda (as opposed to Mike Matheny, manager of my secret-crush team, the Cardinals, who would be baseball Han Solo.) Buck’s not concerned that we didn’t make many moves during the off-season, saying,

‘…I really like the things we did bringing the people back who were already here. I think they were better than about anything we could have gotten out there from somebody else.’ Preach.

Still, starting pitching has been on everyone’s mind and the O’s have reportedly finally reached an agreement with Yovani Gallardo for a three-year, $35 million contract.

Will Gallardo be worth losing our first round draft pick? General consensus seems to be yes, we need to fill the hole left by Wei-Yen Chen (Can we just have a moment of silence for my Taiwanese homie, who finished last season with a career-best 3.34 ERA over 191 1/3 innings pitched?)

Now, what about Dexter Fowler…

I say, let’s just sign him already, wave good-bye to that second draft pick, and cross our fingers that these late signings will be as auspicious as the late signings of Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz in 2014.

Why don’t we end this with an up-beat stat from Buck himself- the O’s have won more regular-season games over the past four years than any other American League team. So there.

XO, your grl on base.

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