Monthly Archives: June 2011

Baseball’s pitching staff: Gourmet fine-dining

When going to the type of restaurant that asks if you made a reservation even though the establishment is empty (you know, places that serve a side dish of snobbery with your meal), one can expect multiple courses of appetizers, main dishes, and desserts.

This is how a pitching staff operates in baseball. All those pitchers milling about aren’t there for the conversation (although pitchers do a lot of talking when not pitching). Rather, much like golf clubs (remember that post?), each pitcher has a specific role to help the team.

Each team has five starting pitchers. These pitchers begin each game in turn but

Matt Cain; a starting pitcher

they are so much more than an appetizer of calamari. Starting pitchers are expected to throw about seven innings in a nine inning game so they are more like the appetizer, salad, and main course. Starters are the most important pitchers on the staff because they throw the most innings.

A bad main course will ruin the meal but the evening isn’t just your order of¬† rib-eye. To support your steak, an order of mushrooms or asparagus will complement it perfectly. However, side dishes can

Santiago Casilla; the middle reliever

detract from the experience too (especially when served a la carte; nothing hurts more than spending $9 on so-so green beans).

The side dish is like the middle reliever. They throw maybe one inning per game, but it usually occurs when the starter needs help much like how a slightly bland chicken can be rescued by otherworldly mashed potatoes and gravy.

Sergio Romo; the set-up man

With all this great food, one must drink something special too. A superior steak needs a stellar red wine while a fantastic fish needs a wonderful white. No screw-top grocery market special will do for a meal like this. You spend a little extra because this evening is special so you avoid wines capable of cleaning paint off of paintbrushes. This is the set-up man.

The set-up man usually pitches the 8th inning in tight ballgames. This pitcher is a bit better than the middle relievers and his main job is to preserve the lead for the 9th inning. Then it’s time for the dessert; better known as the closer.

Even though the majority of the check is spent on the appetizers, main courses, side dishes, and wine, the dessert can leave a lasting impression throughout the car ride home. Some restaurants have a special dessert totally unique to them designed to keep you coming back for more. It’s the last thing you’ll remember from the restaurant just like a closer who saves the game or blows the lead.

The closer’s job is to record the final three outs with a lead of three runs or less.

Brian Wilson; the closer

This is called a save and while it’s only three outs out of 27 total outs in a game, the final three outs have a way of being the most difficult to get. That is why the closer often times has the best stuff on the staff. Much like how a death-by-chocolate-caramel-medley has more taste and deliciousness than your main course of steak.

Steak is steak; there’s only so many ways to prepare it. But dessert? There’s all kinds of personality in desserts. In the same way, closers usually have crazy hair, long beards, and lots of tattoos and can be a little off mentally. That’s like putting sparklers in your chocolate brownie.

For the meal to be perfect, however, each part needs to special. Any course found to be lacking can negatively cloud the experience. Same with the pitching staff. The starter, middle relief, set-up man, and closer all need to pitch well for the baseball team to win.

Anything less, and you might as well be eating at Arby’s…

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Filed under Baseball, Food

Miami Heat fall victim to the curse of the ensemble cast

Perhaps the only headline capable of distracting the masses from Weiner’s weiner this past week was the demise of LeBron James and the Miami Heat (one man displaying too much of his marbles; the other still trying to find his…) Even the basketball clueless could not escape the endless coverage of the Miami Heat this season and even the most novice of fans would predict that two of the best three players in the world along with another top-10 talent coupled with two more highly sought after veterans would lead to an inevitable championship.

So like, what the hell happened???

Simply put, the Miami Heat came up short much like He’s Just Not That Into You and Valentine’s Day; two movies riddled with stars that had critics finding new ways to slam a movie and boyfriends checking their cell phones throughout the mediocre chick-flick dross.

Don’t believe me? Roeper of Ebert and Roeper said, “More than a dozen familiar faces are wasted in this trite, groan-inducing mediocrity,” in regard to Valentine’s Day. Time Magazine said, “He’s Just Not That Into You is like reliving your 20’s, without any of the fun.” And it’s not just those critics; both movies came up ‘rotten’ according to Rottentomatoes.com.

He’s Just Not That Into You featuring Scarlett Johansson, Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper, Justin Long, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly, Drew Barrymore, and Kris Kristofferson andValentine’s Day featuring Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Patrick Dempsey, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner, George Lopez, Julia Roberts, Shirley MacLaine, and Taylor Swift are doomed to fail for having too many leading actors (or actors who think they’re leading material) in the same movie.

Tried-and-true Hollywood formula is: Male lead + Female lead + Male support + Female support + and Ed Harris (anytime you include and Ed Harris, the movie will improve) = Potential passable entertainment. Mess with that formula, and you have actors fighting for screen time or mailing in performances for the paycheck. There’s only so many minutes in a movie and so many cameras.

This is a lot like what happened this year with the Heat. Typical NBA formula is: Star player A + Star player B + Three useful starters + Three more useful bench players = Potential playoff team. The Heat tried to make it work with Superstar player + Superstar player + One good player + Whatever is left we can afford regardless if they have any talent at all (Mike Bibby).

There have been successful ensemble cast movies in the past such as A Time to Kill with Matt McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, Oliver Platt, Ashley Judd, Donald Sutherland and Kiefer Sutherland. McConaughey deftly played his part as the star and Bullock, Jackson, Spacey and Judd (who have all been #1’s) supported him in every scene and never tried to do too much.¬†Oliver Platt worked his typical role as the ‘glue’ to perfection. He was funny when he had to be and he was always adding to the scene; never taking away.

The actors all sacrificed a little screen time but it was for the greater good of a terrific movie. And they all trusted Joel Schumacher, the director, who had completed some fairly impressive movies up until that point. That is what the Heat have to do.

Wade is the McConaughey; he has to star in every scene and show up every night.

LeBron is Spacey; capable of outperforming McConaughey with movies such as Se7en or American Beauty but consistently turning in performances such as 21 and Pay it Forward.

Maybe the Heat can celebrate for real next year?

Bosh is Sam Jackson; maybe he’s Pulp Fiction and maybe he’s Jumper. We don’t know, but like with Jackson, we’ll appreciate his passion and the occasional “Yes, they deserved to die and I hope they burn in hellllll”--like intensity.

Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller need to play like Platt and Judd. Both have the ability to be a #1 but we’ve seen the wrestling movie Ready to Rumble and it wasn’t good (sorry Platt, I enjoyed it when I was 15). Everyone in this paragraph (Haslem, Miller, Platt, and Judd) are better served being the glue to hold the whole messy contraption together.

Lastly, the Heat need to find some ‘Sutherlands.’ Donald was funny and endearing; Kiefer was intense and psychotic. The Heat need a veteran to keep everyone loose and that’s where Donald comes in. The Heat had fewer smiles than championships this year (0). They also need a stone-cold killer like Kiefer; someone who’s crazy enough to fight an entire team and drain three’s like an assassin (just without the white-supremacist hatred…)

Put that together and the Heat go from Valentine’s Day flop to A Time to Kill classic. Now if only we could fast-forward to next year’s ending with a parade on Biscayne Boulevard…

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Filed under Bad Movies, Basketball, Miami Heat