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Archive for July, 2009

“Fashions have done more harm than revolutions.”

— Victor Hugo

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Tim Lincecum

Tim Lincecum

OK, when I heard that the Giants’ young hot-shot pitcher Tim Lincecum was going to start for the National League in the All-Star game, I told my brother Randy that nothing good was going to come from this. I am a Giants fan, and have stayed up many a night watching the boys by the Bay play via the Internet from my lonely outpost here in Georgia.

Yes, being selected to the pitch in the All-Star game is great honor, and Lincecum – who made the All-Start team last year but didn’t play because he was deathly sick (but recovered and went on to win the N.L. Cy Young award) – is as deserving as anyone.

The problem is that he’s a Giant, and over the last 25 years, if a pitcher is wearing San Francisco’s black and orange in the All-Star game, he’s going to get raked.

Yeah, it’s a curse. I’d like to say it is the (cue spooky music) “Revenge of the Crazy Crab,” but the cornball crustacean wasn’t around when the curse – officially known as the “Curse of San Francisco Giant Pitchers in the All-Star Game,” or CSFGPASG for short – started in ernest way back in 1983.

Atlee Hammaker

Atlee Hammaker

What’s that, you say? You don’t remember the 1983 All-Star game? Well, coincidentally enough, there had never been a grand slam allowed in an All-Star game prior to that year. So when Atlee Hammaker, the S.F. ace who was tabbed as the starter that year, faced a bases-loaded situation, and the announcers helpfully announced, as Fred Lynn stepped into the batter’s box, that no one had ever hit a grand slam in an All-Star game, well, you can guess what happened.

Atlee had led the N.L. with a 2.25 ERA in the first half of the season, but playing his part as if written by Shakespeare, he served up the grand salami and left the game having managed to record only two outs. But, as a consolation prize, he set an All-Star-game record for worst … pitching line … ever: 0.2 IP, 6 H, 7 ER. Later it was revealed he was fighting through shoulder tendonitis, but the stage was set for 25 more years of in-the-national-spotlight futility for Giants hurlers.

Rick Reuschel

Rick Reuschel

Next up was Rick Reuschel, the rotund right-hander who would eventually lead the Giants to a World Series appearance (the earthquake-marred affair against the cross-Bay rival Oakland A’s). Starting on the mound for the 1989 N.L. squad, “Big Daddy” was spanked for a leadoff home run by Bo Jackson and finished giving up two runs on three hits in his one inning of work.

The next year, 1990, Gyros closer Jeff Brantley managed to out-do Reuschel, allowing two runs on two hits in one-third of an inning.

Jeff Brantley

Jeff Brantley

John Burkett

John Burkett

Rod Beck

Rod Beck

Shawn Estes

Shawn Estes

Shawn Estes

Rob Nen

The next Giant appearance in the ASG was in 1993, when San Francisco sent two pitchers to the big game. John Burkett, a 20-game-winner, couldn’t finish one frame (he pitched two-thirds of an inning), making  his time on the mound count, as the A.L. touched him for three runs on four hits. But the curse wasn’t done for the day, as S.F. closer, Rod “Shooter” Beck, gave up a run on two hits in his one inning of work.

Shawn Estes would get the call in 1997. The lefty who would win 19 games that year was called upon to keep a 1-1 seventh-inning tie intact. But a walk and a two-run Sandy Alomar Jr. homer would provide the A.L. with the winning margin.

Closer Rob Nen next checks in with cursed performances in 1998 and 2002. In ’98, the N.L. defense let Nen down, but he was charged with three runs (one earned) on three hits in his one inning of work. In 2002, though, with the National League leading, 7-6, in the eighth, Nen gave up the tying run in what would end up being the first tie game in All-Star game history.

As we already mentioned, the curse was so strong last year, Lincecum (official diagnosis: flu-like symptoms) was so sick, he couldn’t even make it to the stadium.

Which leads us to this year. I am writing this as the game is about to start, so even I don’t know what is in store; will the curse continue or will Lincecum break the bad luck and set down his scheduled six in a row?

Nope, aint gunna happen… Lincecum started for the N.L. in St. Louis and was thoroughly forgettable. His pitches were up, and while there was a bad throw and a booted grounder, the shaggy haired man-child gave up a lead-off single to Ichiro Suzuki then hit Derek Jeter with a pitch. One out later, Albert Pujols booted Mark Teixeira’s grounder, allowing the first run to score. Jason Bay followed with a single and Josh Hamilton drove in a run with a fielder’s choice grounder.

Lincecum righted himself with a one-two-three second, but the damage had already been done: two runs (one earned) on two hits, one hit batsman and one strikeout.

Now, I know there have been a couple of decent Giant pitching performances during this CSFGPASG span. Jason Schmidt and Brian Wilson performed well, as I remember, and Matt Cain was on the team this year, but luckily for him, he didn’t get into the game.

So what does it all mean? Not a damn thing. And if given my druthers, I’d happily have my Giants pitchers immolate on the All-Star Game mound if it means they would bring home a World Series championship. The guys are leading the N.L. Wild Card chase at the midway point, and I’ll continue root them on from across the country (at least the Braves have come crashing back to earth and I don’t have to deal with smug Atlanta fans).

The pitching is actually very strong, but with a team featuring a no-name offense, it’s going to be tough going. Maybe if they brought back the crab…

Crazy Crab

Crazy Crab

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“It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.”

— Dan Quayle

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Typical adornment at the Red Neck Games.

Typical adornment at the Red Neck Games.

News Item from the Macon Telegraph:

EAST DUBLIN, Ga. — A man runs, jumps and then bellyflops into a hole dug in the red Georgia clay and filled with water — he comes out relatively clean. Even after spending some time trying to pull up some clay, he’s still clean as far as things go. This proves unacceptable.

The crowd of onlookers surrounding the pool is parted, some begin to complain.

A backhoe arrives, inserts its large arm deep into water, lifts a heap of earth high, and releases it, splashing muddy water on those standing around the pit. The crowd is dirtier, happier.

It’s that time of year where East Dublin, a little town south of Atlanta on the Oconee River, takes on the mantel of Sturgess South, although you don’t need to ride a Harley-Davison to feel like one of the crowd. In fact, all you needed to feel at home on this particular Saturday was one or more of the following: bib overalls; anything with the Confederate Flag on it; a mullet; less than a full mouth of teeth.

Yep, last Saturday was the 13th annual Redneck Games, drawing thousands of people from around Georgia and the South, all there to proudly pronounce themselves, well, rednecks.

The games were originally established as a tongue-in-cheek response to the 1986 Atlanta Olympics. So, or course, there are sporting events. It’s just that they have a certain, er, redneck flavor. There was the Toilet Seat Toss (Redneck Horseshoes). There was the Bobbin’ fer Pig’s Feet contest. There was the melodious (and odious) Armpit Serenade.

Elizabeth Curry of Augusta takes the dive into the mud pit on her fifth trip to the Redneck Games.

Elizabeth Curry of Augusta takes the dive into the mud pit on her fifth trip to the Redneck Games.

But the highlight of the day was the Mudpit Bellyfloppin’ competition, which was held in a pit dug out of the red Georgia clay and filled with river water. When the original pit wasn’t dirty enough, a backloader dug up the muck a little more to get that certain viscosity needed to get just the right coating of mud.

“We like to be dirty,” said April Wright, 19, of Birmingham, Ala., to the reporter from the Telegraph. Elizabeth Curry, 39, of Augusta, Ga., said she practiced for the event by belly flopping into a pool. “This hurts a little more,” she said.

Preston Wright, 42, from Eastman, Ga., offered advice for those jumping into the mud: “just get a good running start (and) don’t get too much mud up your nose and in your ears.” He didn’t offer any strategy on how, though.

And, of course, Confederate flags could be spotted through out the games, with attendees wearing the flag in every way imaginable, from bandannas and sun visors to bikinis and capes.

Now, I have to admit that the Redneck Games sorta snuck up on me (maybe it was the camouflage) this year, and I didn’t know it was happening this weekend. But after viewing the photos and reading the reports, next year, I’m there. You can keep your Burning Man. I’m heading to the Redneck Games. How am I every going to figger out who my neighbors are if I don’t watch them in their natural habitat.

April Covington of Sylvania clambers out of the mudpit at the Redneck Games in East Dublin Saturday.

April Covington of Sylvania clambers out of the mudpit at the Redneck Games.

Eric Outler, last years winner in the "Redneck Horseshoes", taunts the crowd before his throw.

Eric Outler, last years winner in the "Redneck Horseshoes" event, taunts the crowd before his throw.

Arm pit serenade winner Aubrey Matthews performs his best song during the 13th Annual Summer Redneck.

Arm pit serenade winner Aubrey Matthews performs his best song, "Dixie."

Jeremiah Hatfield made the trip from central Florida to East Dublin to bob for pigs feet and the other Redneck games.

Jeremiah Hatfield drove from central Florida to bob for pigs feet and the other Redneck games.

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“It is not a fragrant world.”

— Raymond Chandler

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

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My 9-year-old boy has loved the Clash since he was 5. One night he didn’t want to listen to his CDs and wanted one of mine… I put “London Calling” in his CD player and he insisted on listening to it as he went to sleep every night for four years…

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“A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”

— Mark Twain

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