Author Archives: travissarandos

Brock Turner, Explained

Brock Turner is a rapist.

Brock Turner is a lot of other things, as well, but that is now the term that defines him, the most important and relevant descriptor to use when referring to him. He is a not a swimmer, though he knows how to swim fast. He is not a former Olympic hopeful, though he once carried that dream. He is not a Stanford student, a “baby-faced … freshman”, or a “record-setting … prodigy”, no matter what The Washington Post’s glowing fluff piece might have you believe. Brock Turner is a rapist.

You’ll notice that I am using his full name throughout this piece. That’s because I never want to forget his name, and I never want you to forget it, either. In America, we sometimes have had issues with the glorification of criminals, as we give neat nicknames and write books and make movies about famous serial killers and bank robbers and their ilk. That’s not what I’m intending. I want you to remember him because that’s the only punishment we have left now that the judge in this case has done little more than deprive Brock Turner of his summer vacation.  He should be remembered, feared, reviled and alienated. He should be made to feel alone, unsafe and insecure for the rest of his life. He should be made to feel the way he made his victim felt.

There is no apology one can offer that can atone for what Brock Turner has done, but one should still be offered, freely and sincerely, nevertheless. Instead, Brock Turner has continuously and vehemently refused to accept responsibility for his actions. In his rambling, nonsensical statement to the court, he repeatedly apologized for drinking to excess, for failing to ask for the victim’s number and for bowing to peer pressure: for all the things he did not need to apologize for. He has been enabled in his quest to absolve himself from all responsibility for the horrible violence he committed by absolutely everyone around him.

Brock Turner’s father Dan, in a disgusting, tone-deaf letter unfit to be printed on the toilet paper I use to wipe my ass, decried even the trifling sentence his son did receive as “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action.” Apparently Dan Turner doesn’t believe anyone can truly do irreparable harm to another human being in a mere 20 minutes; that such a small amount of time isn’t enough to earn someone a trip to the state prison. One imagines that he might feel differently if someone spent 20 minutes hacking his identity to empty his bank accounts, robbing him at gunpoint or doing the exact same thing his son did to him or to a member of his own family. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 13 students and injured 24 others in 17 minutes at Columbine High School. It took Adam Lanza 10 minutes to murder his mother at home, drive to Sandy Hook Elementary, and take the lives of 26 additional people, including 20 elementary school children. A lot can happen in 20 minutes.

Then there is childhood friend Leslie Rasmussen, who shifted 50% of the blame for this rape upon Brock Turner’s victim, and the other 50% on our country’s mad descent into political correctness or, as normal people call it, treating other people with basic human decency. She actually said that “rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists,” which I totally get. While rapists are certainly a problem, it’s all these rapes that are being committed by non-rapists that are the real critical issue here. Are there real rapists out there? Sure. But rapes committed by people like Brock Turner aren’t the same as rapes committed by real rapists.

Finally we have judge Aaron Persky, who had the ability to put Brock Turner away for up to 14 years in state prison, but instead sentenced him to just six months in county jail. He said that he did so because “a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him.” That’s a wonderful thing, in general, for a human being to anticipate the effects that their actions might have on someone else before going ahead and doing whatever the entire shit they want to. Perhaps if Brock Turner had experienced that phenomenon for half a millisecond on the night he battered and raped an unconscious girl in an alley behind a dumpster, none of us would be here.

If you have not read the victim’s powerful letter that was read in court at his sentencing hearing, you need to do so, and you need to finish it, even when it makes you uncomfortable and is hard to get through. You need to read about her hurt, from that night and from every night since. You need to hear about her horrific experience at the hospital, being poked, prodded and photographed as nurses picked dirt and pine needles out of her hair and her genitals. You need to and so does everyone else, so that maybe next time we’ll have a judge who will enforce what begins to resemble a proper sentence, a father who is disgusted with the abhorrent acts of his son, and a friend who won’t come to the defense of a convicted rapist.

There is exactly one reason this rape happened. It wasn’t because the victim had too much to drink, and it wasn’t because Brock Turner had too much to drink. It wasn’t because of what she was wearing, how she was acting, who she was with, where she was, what she said or what she did. She was intoxicated, unconscious, and helpless, and Brock Turner forced himself inside her without her knowledge or her consent because he is a vile rapist who has been brought up in a culture that teaches people that it is a woman’s responsibility to prevent herself from being violated, and not a man’s responsibility to refrain from violating her.

Look at that photo. That is how you should remember Brock Turner. Not as a swimmer, or a student, but as a criminal, with news cameras in his face. Brock Turner is a rapist, no matter what he, his father, his friends, or Judge Persky has to say. He does not need to accept responsibility or admit guilt for that to be the case. In his statement he spoke of how one night of drinking has the capacity to ruin a life, somehow referring only to his own with a straight face as the woman he destroyed listened in stunned silence. Brock’s father Dan said that his son’s life “has been deeply altered forever” and that he’ll “never be his happy go lucky self” again. Neither will his victim, you god damned lunatic. His friend Leslie said, “He’s not a monster.” Yes, he sure as hell is. Brock Turner is a rapist. Remember and beware.

Dear Stoolies

Note: This was swiftly written, out of the order it’s presented in, while I was at work, because I thought it was important for me to write it. I’m posting it here at my old site because I don’t know where else it belongs. Sorry and thanks if anyone makes it here.

Note II: You can see this in prettier, better edited form over at Crooked Scoreboard here.

This is not written to the general public, in order to expose the disgusting, festering underbelly of sports fandom that one finds in places like Barstool Sports. If you want to read about what’s going on there, read Nicolas Stellini’s piece, read what Jen Mac Ramos had to say, or read any number of people who are better at writing and at being human beings than I am. No, this is for the “stoolies” themselves. I write this to each and every one of you, directly, and even though I know most of you will never truly hear these words (and this may never reach you at all), if I can get through to just one of you, it’s worth the effort.

I was once like you.

Today, I’m a 28-year-old … something. I’m not sure what to call myself. I’m a sportswriter, because I write for Brew Crew Ball and BP Milwaukee, but that’s not really my job. So I’m a financial aid professional, but I won’t be for long, and I’ve never felt any sort of emotional attachment to my job. So maybe I’m a teacher or, at least, a future teacher, since I’m a Master’s student in UW-Milwaukee’s English education program. Or maybe I’m not any of these things. Maybe I’m just Travis, and that’s fine.

I like to think that today, I’m a good person. And I think that the majority of the people I’ve met in the past four years or so would agree. I try to treat people with respect. I’m not the friendliest son of a bitch on the planet but it’s only because I’m painfully shy. I have strong opinions on a lot of issues that sometimes rub people the wrong way, but I think I’m on the right side of these issues – I consider myself a feminist, I’m pro-gun-control, and I support movements like Black Lives Matter that seek justice and equality for everyone.

But I wasn’t always this way.

If we run the clock back 5 years, you’ll see a man that is unrecognizable from the person I am today, and one who would fit right in among the millions in David Portnoy’s flock of minions. At my apartment on the lower eastside of Milwaukee, the n-word was tossed around by both host and guests like we were all Lil’ Wayne songs manifested and made sentient. Even this fails to truly illustrate just how casually this terrible word was dropped among the circle of people I called friends; it was filler, just a word to say when you had nothing else to add to a conversation. It was truly disgusting, and when I think about the way I spoke just five short years ago, I am flabbergasted to know that there is anyone who knew me back then that still calls me a friend today.

It didn’t end there. We treated women like garbage, regularly throwing around the same type of vitriolic hate speech amongst ourselves that can be seen in the comments thread of every Barstool post. Our “jokes” took aim at anything and everything targetable, and for years I tumbled deeper and deeper into the darkness as I slowly watched my other friends walk out of my life, fed up with my antics.

I’m not proud of any of this, and it’s not fun to have to admit to the sins of my past. I may lose some respect from some of the people who I’ve met since I’ve changed, who might not know the terrible things I’ve done in the past. Yes – the things that I have done. The things you say matter. But it’s important that you know that I was once like you, maybe even worse. You have to know that, because now I’m going to ask you to follow me, get the hell up, and walk away from it.

It wasn’t some great moralistic uprising inside me that forced me to make a change. There were other issues among the group – lies, backstabbing and thinly-veiled hostility – that one might expect from people with such low moral fiber. I made no grand speech. I’m not a hero. I was a garbage person, and I made a change and became just a person. Today, I think that I’m pretty good. But I have a lot to make up for.

When I hear people say those words – you know which words, and you don’t need me to *-word them to stuff them into your head once more – today I cringe, not just like any regular human would cringe at hate speech, but as someone who is beyond embarrassed to acknowledge the way I used to be.

I never hated black people. I never hated women. I never hated anyone. And I think that’s what made it so easy to continue to act the way I did without having to reckon with the fact that I was swiftly becoming an extremely shitty person. It didn’t mean anything, it’s all just a joke. Don’t you get it? It’s the same defense that comes from Barstool – from el presidente, as he’s styled himself, all the way on down to his newest crony – when anyone takes up the mantle of Social Justice Warrior (how in the world has this term become pejorative?) and jumps into the arena to do battle with their army of rabidly-misogynistic drones. It. Is. Not. A. Joke. You have got to realize that before you can start to make a change. It’s not that we don’t think that the joke isn’t funny. It’s not that we don’t get the joke. It’s just not a joke, It’s not a joke to tell a woman she has a “fuckin gross fat frog ice cream looking ass face.” What the fuck is wrong with you? Would you really ever say that to someone that was standing in front of you? It’s not a joke to tell her there’s “no job market for ugly broads with an extra chromosome.” It’s not a joke to call her a c-, a b- or any other disgusting, hateful word. IT’S NOT A JOKE. It’s real, and the people you are hurting are real.

A couple years ago, I briefly reconnected with the ringleader of the posse I used to spend time with. I think I needed his signature on something to finalize a dispute we’d had upon moving out of the apartment we’d been living in at the time. We got to talking a little bit about real stuff, with him accusing me of grandstanding about the changes I’d made in my life. He sent the following text:

“I don’t believe you don’t think that shit is funny anymore.”

I know you don’t. That’s why I left. Some people change, and some people never do.

Sometimes in our society, we hold up men who take such radical stances as “women should be treated equally” or at least “maybe it’s not okay to threaten to rape someone on Twitter” as heroes, but we’re not. That’s literally the baseline of not being a horrifically shitty person. It’s unfortunate that a need exists for someone to stand up and say, “Hey, stop harassing women you fucking idiots.” But we do, and the reason that need exists is you. You have created the need for the “Social Justice Warriors” that you demonize.

So that’s my message for you. The groupthink that emboldens you to act and talk the way that you do is wrong, and you can break free from it if you try. You don’t have to be this way. If your real-life relationships are more important to you than pats on the head in the form of twitter notifications from your favorite Barstool writers, then you don’t want to be this way. Some of you really do think that women are beneath you, lesser-than, and you’ll never change. But if you don’t think that way, and you this is all a big joke to you, it isn’t. It’s not a fucking joke, and there are real human beings that are reading your hateful diatribes that you’ve launched against them. It’s time to grow up.

The Best (Fantasy) Team Money Can Buy

It’s late August, which means there’s literally more fantasy football content out there than any person could ever actually consume. We at Bucky’s Beer Cheese Co. seek to always give the people what they want, and since I can definitely tell that you crave more fantasy football advice, I’m here to give it to you. What I have for you today is the absolute best fantasy football team that money can buy. The rules: we’re in a 10-team league with standard scoring and rules, and we have $200 in our auction budget. We’re going to put together a team that goes 13-0 and carries you to an easy championship. Drafting any other players would be at your own risk and is not recommended.

Please note: If you are in a fantasy league with me this year, please stop reading and go away at this time.

All stats from ESPN.com, and all fantasy point scoring information is according to ESPN standard scoring. All dollar values are according the ESPN’s Average Auction Value (AAV) as of August 17.

THE STARTERS:

QB: Tom Brady (NE), $6

Early in the 2007 season, Eric Mangini accused the Patriots of videotaping opponents’ practices in order to gain a competitive advantage, and essentially said that New England had cheated it’s way into three Super Bowl victories. The Patriots were vilified by the media and NFL fans for weeks. How did Brady and the Patriots respond? The Patriots shat all over the league going 16-0, led by an MVP season from Brady during which he threw 50 TDs to 8 INTs, with the team often maniacally continuing to run up the score and throw the ball deep late in games that they had well in hand. Well, we have a similar situation this year, with the Patriots again having been accused to cheating to give themselves a leg up in the playoffs in this whole Deflategate nonsense. For now, it looks like Brady will miss the first four games of the regular season – though a lawsuit remains pending – so you’ll need a capable backup to get you through the first five weeks of the season (New England has a bye in week five). But once Brady returns, don’t be surprised to see him post some of the biggest numbers of his career.

RB: Jeremy Hill (CIN), $36

Having spent a couple dozen extra dollars on another position (more on that later), we’re saving a bit of money on our pick for RB1 and leaving the $50+ guys for fantasy teams that don’t have a party-monster on their team. After a hip injury sidelined Gio Bernard in week 8, Hill Wally Pipped him, taking the Bengals’ running back job and never looking back. While Bernard was able to carve out some fantasy relevance of his own down the stretch last year, Bernard received 20+ carries in five of the Bengals final nine games, including a three-game run to end the regular season in which he averaged 24.3 touches and 136.7 yards per game while scoring three touchdowns. Bernard is the third down back here and will be the one seeing a majority of the RB targets in the passing game, which limits Hill’s upside somewhat in PPR, but his workload and talent should easily place him among the top 10 running backs in all formats.

RB: Lamar Miller (MIA), $25

Miller is a fine RB2, and though he isn’t likely to win you any weeks on his own, he has a steady workload and was a fairly reliable contributor to fantasy teams last season, scoring at least eight points in all but four games last year, with his worst games coming against formidable run defenses (Buffalo, Detroit) or against good teams who forced Miami to throw to keep up the scoring pace (Denver, New England). He failed to reach double digit carries or gain at least 50 yards just once each, both in a week 10 dud against Detroit. If you hate winning, you could also ignore the fact that basically every recent Wisconsin running back star has failed spectacularly at the NFL level (Ron Dayne, Michael Bennett, Anthony Davis, Brian Calhoun, Montee Ball and James White have one Pro Bowl appearance between the lot of them), and draft Melvin Gordon III.  You will be happy that you did it on draft day and then the rest of the year you will be very sad, and your league-mates will take all of your dollars. Alternative: Alfred Morris (WAS), $26

WR: Jordy Nelson (GB), $39

Despite finishing third among wide receivers last year and remaining the focal point of the passing offense led by the NFL’s best player, Nelson is currently just the seventh most expensive WR. I have no idea what the reason for that is, but if you can grab him at a $10 discount from the rest of the top tier of WRs, do so with glee. Note that this will probably not be possible in league filled with Green Bay fans, of course. Alternative: A.J. Green (CIN), $36

WR: Andre Johnson (IND), $11

Johnson will fill the Reggie Wayne role in Andrew Luck’s offense, but with a bit more big play ability and at a slightly younger age (Andre is 34, Wayne 36). Johnson’s numbers have steadily declined over recent years, a trend that could just as easily be attributed to poor quarterback play in Houston as it could to his advancing age. I’m expecting somewhat of a renaissance season for Johnson, though his upside is somewhat capped. We’ve got a higher upside pick later on for you, though. Alternative: DeSean Jackson (WAS), $11

TE: Rob Gronkowski (NE), $43

It’s not only what Gronk can do in his own right – although that certainly a big part of the equation – but also just how bad the tight end situation has become around the league. However you feel about Russell Wilson as a quarterback, he is definitely a step down from Drew Brees in his ability to throw the ball downfield, so with Jimmy Graham now in Seattle, Gronkowski’s hold on the position is even more vice-like. Behind those two, you’re looking at a cast of superstars that included Greg Olsen, Martellus Bennett, and Zach Ertz. While it’ll hurt to spend almost a quarter of your budget on a position the rest of your league is filling for under $5, you’ll be glad you did when Gronk is allowing you to basically play with an extra guy all year.

FLEX: Joseph Randle (DAL), $12

Taking nothing away from DeMarco Murray himself for the great numbers he put up last year, there’s no question that a large part of his success was running behind an offensive line that some believed was the greatest run-blocking unit in NFL history. That line gets even better this year with the addition of La’el Collins, a first-round talent that was signed by Dallas as an undrafted free agent because of some legal issues that were totally outside of his control (it will forever irk me that the Packers refused to take a late-round flier on this guy). The current scuttlebutt out of Cowboys camp is that they’ll handle the running back position by committee, but that committee includes oft-injured Darren McFadden and marginal talent Lance Dunbar, so I would expect to see Randle see a majority of the carries behind that great O-line. As a FLEX/RB3, I love the upside of Randle, and his AAV of $12 is way too low. Alternative: Latavius Murray (OAK), $13

K: Mason Crosby (GB), $1

Whatever get a kicker, who cares. Take the kicker from your favorite team if he is available. If not take a different one from a team that scores points. Do not think about which kicker to take for more than 12 seconds. If you pay more than a dollar for a kicker you are a bad person and you are the reason that some people go hungry. Alternative: Literally who cares

D/ST: New York Jets, $1

Defense is only marginally more important than your kicker. You can usually fill it in on a week to week basis with whatever team is playing Jacksonville or Cleveland. The Jets are a consensus top-10 defense among people who care enough about defenses to rank them, and they get the Browns at home in week one. Good enough for me. Drop them after week one, when they go on the road to Indianapolis for a Monday night date with Andrew Luck.

 

THE BENCH:

QB2: Eli Manning (NYG), $2

A lot of folks are talking about how Eli had a resurgence that has been largely attributed to the emergence of O’Dell Beckham. This is a very nice way to quickly explain why one might want to look at Eli as a QB2 this year, but it’s simply not true. In his first four games last season, Eli averaged 17.5 fantasy points per game, and in 12 games after Beckham’s debut, his average dropped to 16.1. Am I saying that Eli and the Giants offense were worse with Beckham in the fold? No I’m not, no one should say that. I’m just saying, take your fantasy analysis with a grain of salt, because numbers can say anything. So why am I recommending Eli? Because he’s a cheap and reliable option that probably won’t win you any weeks, but he won’t sink you, either. He plays three of his first five games at home, and has a couple of potentially nice matchups with games against Atlanta, San Francisco (who knows what that team will look like) and Washington, the latter of which was dead last in passing defense in 2014. As a short-term fill in for Brady, you likely won’t be able to do better for the price. Alternative: Carson Palmer (ARI), $2

RB4: Isiah Crowell (CLE), $5

There is a greater-than-not chance that Crowell is the top dog in the Browns backfield this season, and for that reason alone he’s worth a $5 flier. Crowell offers very little to the passing game, and West could very well eat up some goal-line carries, so the upside is limited, but you could do worse for a cheap RB4, especially if you ignore facts and draft Darren McFadden anyway. Alternative: Doug Martin (TB), $4

RB5: Ameer Abdullah (DET), $4

Following his explosive performance last Thursday, the secret is out about the Lions’ rookie running back, and you may not be able to get him at this price today. However if you can, make sure you gobble him up, because he has the potential to unseat injured incumbent starter Joique Bell in much the same way Hill did Bernard last year. Now that the training camp hero has shown that his talents translate to “real” games, Abdullah will be rising up draft boards.

RB6: Alfred Blue (HOU), $3

Speaking of guys who may not be available at this price much longer, Blue looks like he’ll be the feature back for the Titans for the first half of the season, for whatever that’s worth. The Texans quarterback situation is a mess, so the offense isn’t likely to produce much, but a starting running back for $3 is too good a deal to pass up, even if you’ll have to wait until the guy who drafted Arian Foster goes to the bathroom to get him.

WR3: Brandon Marshall (NYJ): $8

All jokes about Smokin’ Jay aside, Marshall’s quarterback situation has gotten demonstrably worse with the move to New York, a fact only exacerbated by the loss of Geno Smith to a sucker-punch in the god dang face. However, his talent and the fact that he’s far and away the best option for former Harvard quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick makes him a capable WR3 and bye week replacement. Alternative: Vincent Jackson( TB), $8

WR4: Larry Fitzgerald (ARI), $2

The book on Larry Fitzgerald is that he’s lost more than a couple of steps, he’s no longer the go-to guy on the Arizona roster and at 31-years-old, his best days are very much behind him. And that may very well all be true: Fitzgerald’s 84 points last year ranked him behind such titans as Kenny Britt, Andrew Hawkins and Andre Holmes. But he was also stuck in one of the worst quarterback situations in the league in 2014: Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley combined to start 10 games, and posted QB ratings of 78.7 and 56.8, respectively. In the six games that Carson Palmer started last year(Week 1, Weeks 6-10), here’s what Fitzgerald’s numbers looked like:  5.3 rec/gm, 80.5 yards/gm, 2 TDs and 9.8 fantasy points per game. That YPG number would have ranked him 12th among receivers last year extrapolated over a full season – just ahead of Randall Cobb – and the 9.8 fantasy points would have ranked him 19th among wide receivers, making him a low-end WR2. Is it fair to expect the injury prone Carson Palmer to remain healthy and start 16 games in 2015? No, probably not. But as a $2 flier, Fitzgerald is certainly someone you can plug into your lineup in a pinch as long as Palmer is on the field.

WR5: Davante Adams (GB), $2

The Packers’ second year wide-out has shown flashes of being a big play guy in his limited opportunities to date, and all he needs is an opportunity to find himself with double-digit targets from the best quarterback in the league. Lest ye forget, in 2012 the Packers featured an three WR attack that saw Nelson, Cobb and James Jones all finish among the top 30 WRs in scoring in a year that also saw JerMichael Finley eat up 87 targets. So we know that Rodgers can support the fantasy relevance of more than two pass catchers, and the Packers don’t currently have a tight end that will threaten to take up 100 targets. With both Nelson and Cobb having missed significant time due to injury over the past couple of seasons, we’ll take the $2 lottery ticket for a chance at a big slice of that Green Bay offensive pie.

Ranking Each MLB Team’s Best Walk-up Song

Let’s talk about walk up music in the Major Leagues. We’ve all had the discussion, possibly at the local watering hole, possibly while waxing poetic about how great your terrible bar-league softball team is going to be: “If you were in the big leagues, what would your walk-up music be?” My answer, for the record, is “Blockbuster Night Part 1” by Run The Jewels. Your walk-up song should not only serve to work up the hometown crowd, it’s also a reflection of yourself. Do you have the Heart of a Lion? Is there perhaps some Bad Blood between you and the opposing team? You’ve got about 13 seconds to let the crowd know. What follows is a scientific evaluation of the player on each team that currently uses the medium best.

For this study I obtained most of my information from MLB.com’s Ballpark Music site (http://mlb.mlb.com/fan_forum/ballpark_music.jsp?c_id=mlb), to identify each player’s walk up music. So if you have anecdotal evidence that one of these songs is no longer in use by a particular player, or if you feel there’s one I’ve unfairly excluded that isn’t listed on MLB.com’s site, you’ll have take it up with them. I did what fact checking I could, but short of visiting each team’s ballpark every night, there’s only so much I can do.

Each song was scored according to three highly scientific measures on a scale of 1-100: “Is It Good Song”; “Do A Lot Of Folks Know The Song”; and “The Dope Beats and Catchiness Index (DBCI)”, a proprietary statistic of my own devising that seeks to define the level to which a particular song can raise the spirits of 35,000 baseball fans. Those scores were then averaged, with a bonus score of -5 to 5 applied to some songs whenever I felt like it, to find each songs final score.

But First! The Bottom Five:

5) Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays: In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins 29.3

I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong about this, because Josh was not alone here; he was only the most well-known player to use this as his theme. Phil Collins is fine if you’re trying to set the mood with your guy or gal, folks. But to set the mood with 35,000 strangers? I’m just not too sure about that, Josh.

4) Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees: International Love by Pitbull and Chris Brown

What a great troll move from A-Rod, the most universally despised baseball player, to use a song from the two most universally despised rap artists as his walk-up music. A-Rod’s hilarious victory lap wouldn’t be the same without being soundtracked by this awful song. He really missed an opportunity to cement his legacy by failing to retire after hitting his 666th home run.

3) Jake McGee, Tampa Bay Rays: My Way by Limp Bizkit 19.0

I’ve got to be honest with you guys, I used to jam to this song too, folks. I think my friends and I probably requested it at our 8th grade dance.

2) A.J. Pierzinski, Atlanta Braves: Bullets by Creed 10.7

A.J. has to be the least surprising entry on this list, right?

1) Shaun Marcum, Cleveland Indians: Burn It To The Ground by Nickleback 9.0

Why, Shaun. Why? I will never forgive Marcum for losing the 2011 NLCS to the C***inals, so it greatly pleases me to rank him as having the single worst walk-up song in the Major Leagues.

Honorable Mention:

A few teams had so many great songs that these just have to be mentioned, although I wasn’t able to include them in the final rankings since the rule is one song per team. Know that most of these would be in the top ten if teams were allowed multiple entries.

Zack Grienke, Los Angeles Dodgers: Careless Whisper by George Michael

Zack Grienke was created in a lab in New Mexico by scientists charged with developing the most entertaining professional sports player of all time. George Michael? Never change, Zack.

Todd Frazier, Cincinatti Reds: Fly Me To The Moon by Frank Sinatra

This is a dope choice, not only because it’s a great song in and of itself, but because of the subtle baseball reference from the newly-crowned Home Run Derby champion who hits moonshots on the regular.

Jesse Hahn, Oakland Athletics: Hit ‘Em High (Monstar’s Theme) by B-Real feat. Method Mad, Coolio, LL Cool J and Busta Rhymes

“Travis, would it be a good idea to use a dope track from the undisputed greatest live-action/animated sports movie of all time as my walk-up song?” Yes, Jesse, “I Believe I Can Fly” by R-Kelly would be an excellent choi–ooooh. Well that works too I guess.

Bryce Harper, Washinton Nationasl: The Best is Yet to Come by Frank Sinatra

If that’s true it is utterly terrifying. Got help us all.

And now, finally, on to the rankings. Please note that these are definitive and above reproach.

30

Orioles_new

P Jonathan Schoop

Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae) by Silento

50

Look, whatever. If it’s good enough for Queen Riley Curry, it’s good enough for all of us. Other players that use this song: Ryan Howard, Philladephia Phillies

29

100px-MinnesotaTwins

OF Torii Hunter

Heart of a Lion by Kid CuDi

59

Listen, there’s nothing wrong with this song. It’s a dope track, kind of a deep cut from Cudi’s first studio album that was never released as a single. It’s fine, but someone’s got to be down here in the bottom five, and Heart of a Lion really took a hit in the song popularity section.

28

102px-RedSoxPrimary_HangingSocks.svg

3B Garin Cecchini

Good Vibrations by Marky Mark

and the Funky Bunch

59

The Red Sox didn’t give me a lot to work with, so the ultimate vanilla party song came back as their top song. Everyone in the world knows this song, and all of those people think it’s okay. It’s the kind of song that you forgot you heard 12 seconds after it ends. Meh. Other players that use this song: Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals; Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs

26

250px-Philadelphia_Phillies.svg

P Chad Billingsley

TNT by AC/DC

66.7

Whatever, this is fine. It’s just lazy, you know? This is the kind of walk up song choice that just says you didn’t invest any time in the decision at all. But the rest of the Phillies were horrid (Carlos Ruiz is one of the players that shares Phil Collins with Josh Donaldson), so they’re stuck with this.

26t

Houston-Astros-Logo.svg

SS Jed Lowrie

Tom Sawyer by Rush

66.7

I don’t know if the middle of a baseball game is the right time for it, but this is an objectively great song. TNT got here just by being a classic Jock Jam, Tom Sawyer lands here on the strength of being awesome.

25

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P Tom Koehler

X Gon Give It To Ya by DMX

67

24

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P R.A. Dickey

Game of Thrones (Theme) by Ramin Djawadi

67.3

I had to look up video of this to see if it was real/how cool it was. It is really cool. Other players that use this song: Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets

23

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P Wade Davis

Ackrite by Dr. Dre feat. Hittman

68.3

Dr. Dre is all over this list, because he’s a noted creator of sick beats and because his songs generally lend themselves to being stadium anthems. This is the lowest on my list, simply because it was never released as a single and isn’t as well known.

22

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OF Mark Canha

7/11 by Beyonce

68.7

This one’s for the ladies. Canha was the only instance I could find of a player using Queen Bey for his walk-up music. I am not overly familiar with this song, but my girlfriend assures me that it is a very good song and that I like it a lot.

21

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OF Jaun Lagares

Hot in Herre by Nelly

69

Nice

20

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OF Mike Trout

Started From the Bottom by Drake

71.7

Toronto’s favorite son, fresh off his annihilation of Meek Mill, makes his only appearance on our countdown with what I can only assume is an over-our-heads subversive joke from the American League MVP, who has been the best baseball player in the league since his debut in 2011.

19

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P Mike Foltynewicz

My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark by Fall Out Boy

72

Man, this name must have SUCKED in high school. Half of my teachers couldn’t pronounce my last name right, and mine sounds exactly like it’s spelled. One time, someone just threw an M in there for no reason. What is wrong with you lady? Anyway my point is, I’m sorry, Mike Fontywantynickles. This song is fine, great safe choice.

18

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P Cody Allen

God’s Gonna Cut You Down by Johnny Cash

72.1

Pretty good song, and feels like an especially good choice for a closer, which is a made-up position based on the baseball community’s fascination with a meaningless stat that was created in 1969. It’s so good for closers, in fact, that the Yankees’ Andrew Miller uses it as well. Other players that use this song, Miller, Nate Eovaldi, New York Yankees

17

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OF Ryan Braun

All Day by Kanye West

72.2

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just save your steroids jokes, they’re old enough to attend kindergarten now. Let them live their lives, you’re smothering them. Braun is basically the Kanye of MLB. Braun is probably MLB’s douchiest player, and Kanye is pop culture’s douchiest human. Have either they done anything really awful? Nah – one kinda cheated at a children’s game, and the other was mean to Taylor Swift once. But they’re annoying, and it’s only magnified by having to constantly acknowledge that they are indeed quite good.

16

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2B Tim Beckham

So Fresh, So Clean by Outkast

76.3

The early aughts were sort of a weird time for hip-hop. For instance, Chingy existed, Mike Jones made an entire album where he just recited his phone number (281-330-8004, hit Mike Jones up on the low, ‘cuz Mike Jones about to blow) and Lil’ Jon and the Ying Yang Twins made like 12 chart-toppers that were basically them just screaming the same 9 words all y’all were like, “….that’s dope as hell, bruh.” Offsetting this nonsense was the brilliance of Andre 3000 and Big Boi, and this track is one of their best.

14t

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SS Ian Desmond

Alright by Kendrick Lamar

77.7

To Pimp A Butterfly is such a good album, and for me right now, this is the best track on the album (this is subject to change at any time). “Alright” is a banger.

14t

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OF Adam Eaton

This Is How We Do It by Montell Jordan

77.7

So at this point, you’re starting to see how quickly the songs on this list get great. Listen, being in the bottom half of this list still puts you among the greats. It’s like being one of the worst players in the Hall of Fame. Literally, I would say, the honor of making this list is pretty much on par with being elected into Cooperstown.

13

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C Kyle Schwarber

No Diggity by Blackstreet feat. Dr. Dre

79.8

Fun fact: 39% of all song released from 1995-2001 ended with “feat. Dr. Dre”, the most notable of which was of course the timeless 1999 classic, “MmmBop (G-funk Remix)” by Hanson feat. Dr. Dre.

12

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OF Peter Bourjos

Still D.R.E. by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg

81.3

The only reason this song isn’t in the top ten is my own pure, unadulterated hatred for the Cardinals. I mean no disrespect to the good doctor and the D-O-double-G. Let me be very clear about this: this song is great, and the Cardinals are the worst.

11

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OF Andrew McCutchen

Bad Blood by Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar

81.7

This is the most entertaining combination of dope song-great player in my opinion, but this list ranks only how good the song is, not how well it lines up with the player. It’s difficult for me to admit that you can add Kendrick Lamar to something and make it slightly worse, but just like Star Wars and the National League, the original is better.

10

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P Josh Collmenter

Blank Space by Taylor Swift

83.0

I’m not sorry about this at all. Everyone that says they don’t like Taylor Swift is a liar. If you’re one of those people, let me tell you something, guy: It’s not that you don’t like Taylor, it’s that you don’t like the part of yourself that loves her. You’ve got to look inside of yourself and just come to terms with exactly who you are.

9

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1B Mark Teixera

It’s Tricky by Run DMC

83.3

Once upon a time, the Yankees signed Tex as a free agent, formerly of the Los Angeles Angels of Anahiem, a couple of weeks after signing C.C. Sabathia, most recently of the Milwaukee Brewers. Based on a completely-not-transparent ranking system, Elias ranked Teixera as a slightly better player than Sabathia, who almost won the dang NL Cy Young even though he didn’t join the league until mid-July (they were the top two ranked free agents that year). Based on those rankings, the Angels received the higher compensatory round pick from the Yankees in the 2012 MLB Draft. The Brewers, rumored to be interested in Mike Trout, watched the reigning MVP go to the Angels at No. 25. Scrambling to find a plan B, the Brewers ended up taking Indiana senior Eric Arnett, who was released in 2013 and finished his career with a 5.18 ERA while failing to ever progress past A ball. What does this have to do with Run D.M.C.? Not a damn thing. But it has haunted me for years, and I needed to get it off my chest.

8

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SS Brad Miller

Big Poppa by The Notorious B.I.G.

84.7

Obviously, I have a thing for dorky looking white dudes using gangsta rap as their walk-up songs. This is one of Biggie’s best and most famous bangers. Dope choice.

7

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P Ian Kennedy

I Knew You Were Trouble by Taylor Swift

87.7

In 2011, Kennedy, then with the Diamondbacks, led the league with 21 wins, tallied a 2.88 ERA with 198 strikeouts, and finished 4th in Cy Young voting. It was the only year that he posted a sub-3.60 ERA, and he’s basically been pretty pedestrian otherwise. He’s struggled with surrendering home runs his entire career, allowing an average of 25 per 162 games (source: Baseball Reference). So, he’s certainly trouble when he walks in, but more so for the hometown fans than opposing batters. Yes, it was a long walk to that one. Thanks for sticking around. Reading this column was a voluntary act.

6

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OF Hunter Pence

Circle of Life by Sir Elton John

88.0

This is the most Hunter Pence walk up song of all time. If you don’t love Hunter Pence then I don’t love you. It is my belief that all Hunter Pence Signs are made out of love and respect. Sort of like when you’re pallin’ around with your mates, just funnin’ with them. More players should be using Disney songs as their walk up jams.

5

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OF Charlie Blackmon

Your Love by The Outfield

89.6

VH1 really donked this one up when they ranked what was easily a top three one-hit wonder of the 80s FIFTY NINTH on their highly suspect rankings. “Mickey” at #9? MICKEY!? That song is wet garbage. “Your Love”, on the other hand, is a masterpiece, and has the benefit of a tangential baseball reference. Other players that use this song: Gordon Beckham, Chicago White Sox; Grant Green, Los Angeles Angels

4

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3B Nick Castellanos

Ignition (Remix) by R. Kelly

89.7

Oh man, oh man, oh man. This song is FOURTH?! The top of this list is basically just a collection of the world’s greatest bangers then. The only reason you would hear this song come on at the club and not immediately start dancing would be if you literally had died.

3

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OF Jay Bruce

Shake It Off by Taylor Swift

90.0

Not only is this one of Tay’s greatest and catchiest songs, it is universally recognized, and everyone who isn’t a liar loves it. I wonder if Jay chose this song so his manager would stop saying “Shake it off” to him after his at-bats, since he’s never had a season in which he didn’t have more strikeouts than hits. The only issue here is Jay breaking my number one rule: never trust a man with two first names. Other players that use this song: A.J. Ellis, Los Angeles Dodgers

2

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P Kenley Jansen

California Love by TuPac

90.5

While doing research for this piece, I noted early on, because of how the alphabet works, that Baltimore Orioles outfield Adam Jones was using this banger, one of hip hop’s greatest collaborations. Answering my silent prayers, Jansen allowed me to give this song to a player from the correct state, which added five bonus points to the score and nearly lifted the Dodgers’ closer to the top spot. Other players that use this song: Jones

1

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3B Joey Gallo

Pony by Ginuwine

91.3

Look, I know he was optioned down to Triple-A Round Rock a couple of weeks ago and I do not care. He represents the Rangers and tops this list anyway because A) This is a top-five all time song and B) the rest of the Rangers have truly awful taste in music (basically have the league is vibing dang Fetty Wap right now, including Rangers rookie Delino DeShields Jr.). I couldn’t leave Ginuwine off the list and I apologize for nothing. Hurry back, Joey.

FAQs for People Who are Trying to Argue With Me on the Internet

Hi.

I am not a laid-back individual.

This is something you may have noticed about me. If I disagree with someone, I will usually tell them. Loudly, bluntly, and without reservation, whether you’re an acquaintance or a dear, personal friend. For both of those types of folks, I have created this FAQ about my feelings about certain things. I will add to and subtract from this FAQ periodically as things become more and/or less relevant to the realm of current events. If you have been directed here by a link that I posted, please refer to the number that I mentioned in posting the link — but feel free to browse the entire FAQ if you wish.

1) It’s fine if you do not think it is a good idea for Milwaukee to build an arena for the Bucks. It might be a good fiscal move, and it might not. I do not know because I am not an economist and I do not have all the facts. Neither are you, and neither do you. I want them to build it because I want my basketball team to stay in Milwaukee. That is the only reason, and it is selfish. There are all sorts of things that I don’t use/care about that I still pay for with my tax dollars. We all just have to deal with that, because we live in a society and that’s the way it is.

2) I am not saying that all police are bad. To echo Donald Trump’s views of the Mexican population in the United States, “I’m sure some of them are good people”. When I say things like, “Hey, maybe that police officer shouldn’t have shot that unarmed black person because he might have committed an non-violent crime,” or “Hey, maybe it was wrong for that policeman to wrestle that woman to the ground and arrest her because she didn’t want put her cigarette out,” please stop setting up the Straw Man argument that I hate all police, that I think your friend Paul the Nice Police Officer Who Never Does Anything Wrong is a jerk,  that I am condoning violence against police, or anything of that nature. Please take my anger at face value, and stop projecting my frustration with the actions of the police officer(s) directly involved in the incident on the population of law enforcement as a whole. Your weird position of defending a murderous and/or out of control police officer in the name of protect the good names of some nebulous group of people that I’m not disparaging is discomforting and I would like you to stop.

3) Yes, I do think the Cardinals are the worst and that all of their fans are also the worst. This also applies to Seahawks fans and anyone from Boston. If you don’t like it then quit being a fan of those teams because they are objectively the worst and that is a fact.

4) It doesn’t matter that the Bible says that being gay is wrong, because it doesn’t matter what the Bible says about anything ever when it comes time to make some laws. If you don’t think it’s “right” for gay people to get married, then don’t go to their weddings, don’t let them get married in your church, and you can’t wear any clothes from anywhere except Farm and Fleet from now on. It doesn’t affect you. Most of the gay folks don’t think it’s “right” for you to cut your hair like that but they aren’t trying to make your mullet illegal because they aren’t jerks.

5) No one should have any guns. I don’t think all gun owners are bad or irresponsible. But facts tell us that other countries that have banned and/or restricted guns have significantly decreased their crime rates. In Japan, where it is nigh impossible to legally obtain a gun, they have a 0.3/100,000 murder per capita rate, and no one has been shot by a police officer since 2012. That is the 5th lowest of all countries for which such information is available. By contrast, the United States has 4.7 murders/100,000 people, which ranks them among Niger, Yemen, and a host of other third world countries. Unfortunately, we have to make laws to protect us from the few people who do use things inappropriately, which is why we also have to ban and/or restrict alcohol, drugs, etc.

6)I don’t care about your baby, I don’t care about anyone’s baby unless the baby is related to me. Babies are useless. They can’t carry on any kind of decent conversation, they don’t even know how to work a toilet, you have to carry them around everywhere because they can’t feed themselves or even walk and they’re always crying. It’s really good that you care about your baby, because someone definitely should care about it and I am not going to. Just don’t  be offended if I don’t want to see 12 videos of him doing some super easy shit like rolling around on the floor. Everyone can do that. Now if he’s doing some cool shit like drilling threes while blindfolded or playing the piano really well, definitely show me that video.

7) It doesn’t matter what [Skip Bayless/Colin Cowherd/Jay Mariotti/Other Old White Upper-Class Sports Talker] said. He said that so that you would get upset and talk about him for several days, and now that is what you are doing. If you stop paying attention to him he will go away.

8) Just because I disagree with you about something doesn’t mean that I think you are a jerk. I might think that you are a jerk, but my disagreement with you probably doesn’t have anything to do with that. I think sometimes people aren’t jerks can act like jerks, either because they get carried away with an argument and end up saying something they didn’t really intend, or because they just aren’t that well informed. I love you even if I think that you are wrong.

The 2014-2015 Brewers: A Tale of Two Aprils

Let’s run the clock back a year. It’s July 21st, 2014, and the Brewers are frantically trying to hold off the storming Cardinals, having regained a half game lead in the division with a 5-2 win over the Reds. Brewers fans, nervously scoreboard watching as the Pirates sit just 2.5 games back as well, are wondering what sort of moves Doug Melvin plans to make to bolster the pitching staff and find a left handed hitter to plug holes that have allowed the rest of the NL Central to climb back into the race. Brewer Nation is nervous, having watched what once seemed to be a healthy division lead evaporate, but fears of missing the playoffs haven’t yet begun to take hold for even the most cynical fans; the shade of the horrors of the oncoming September collapse is creeping but remains in the shadows, just beyond our peripheral visions.

Now bring it back to the present. The surging Brewers have won 16 of their last 22 games, but at 41-52 still find themselves decidedly out of the playoff picture, and are one of a small handful of teams universally regarded as sellers at the trade deadline. After a decade-long commitment to winning now that resulted in only two playoff appearances and only one series victory, the farm system is weak, and the Brewers are expected to make a big push to trade most of their veteran players for whatever they can get in an effort to further bolster a recovering minor league system.

The Brewers rather famously got off to a 20-7 start last year, the best start in team history and one that put them in the driver’s seat for most of the year in the NL Central race. This season began just slightly worse, when they all but obliterated their playoff hopes with a disastrous 8-19 start over that same span.

But what about after those aberrational starts? Let’s take a look:

2014 Milwaukee Brewers 2015 Milwaukee Brewers
First 27 Games: 20-7 8-19
Next 66 Games: 32-34 33-33
Final record: 82-80 ???

So the difference between a solid World Series contender looking to buy at the deadline and one of the worst teams in the league due for a fire sale is … a month’s worth of games in April? It seems silly to judge these teams based on a number of games that amounts to about 16% of the season. More likely, last year’s team was significantly worse than we may have thought early on, this year’s version is quite a bit better than their record has shown to date, and the true talent level for both years is right around that 82-80 mark that the 2014 squad wound up with.

None of this is to say that the Brewers were wrong to go for it last year, or that they shouldn’t be sellers at the deadline this year. Often, all it takes is for an average team to get hot for a month to find your way into the playoffs. Remember the 2007 Colorado Rockies? They sat just four games over .500 on September 15th  and were just another NL West also-ran, but went on to win 20 of their next 21 games, including a walk-off win over San Diego in game 163, to find themselves in the World Series. On the flip side of that coin, as we’ve seen this year, a disastrous stretch of bad play like the Brewers experienced this April is more than enough to knock a borderline team out of contention.

That being said, if you thought the Brewers were a legitimate threat to win the World Series in 2014 (and we did), then there is little reason not to believe that going forward under the right circumstances, because it’s essentially the same team. For that reason, and especially given the Brewers recent surge, do not be shocked if the Brewers hold on to their assets that could help them win in the very near future at the trade deadline. Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gomez, Mike Fiers and Adam Lind – the Brewers’ four most valuable trade chips outside of the blistering-hot Gerardo Parra – are all under team control next year in one way or another: Gomez and Lucroy are on team-friendly contracts that run through 2016, Lind’s $8 million club option next year is almost certain to be picked up by whatever team he’s playing for at year’s end, and Fiers won’t even be eligible for arbitration until 2017. All of this give Mark Attanasio and Doug Melvin the flexibility, if they so choose, to make one last run with this core in 2016, and should the fall flat again, trade them next July for a smaller but still substantial bounty.

There are holes that would need to be filled if the Brewers’ meant to compete as early as next year. Matt Garza remains under contract through 2017 (with a vesting option for 2018 that bears discussing sometime soon if he remains with the team), but he isn’t likely to offer a ton of value to a contender going forward, and his contract will make him difficult for the Brewers to move. Kyle Lohse is a free agent after this season, and he’s clearly outstripped his usefulness as a major league starting pitcher. The Brewers have some young talent in Wily Peralta, Jimmy Nelson and Taylor Jungmann in addition to Fiers, but that’s certainly not the kind of rotation that wins you a playoff series. The Brewers will also have to find a third baseman Ramirez retiring after this season, a position at which their farm system is totally bereft of talent. This is neither an endorsement nor a denouncement of a potential effort by the Brewers to try to reload for next year; I present this as a mere statement of fact. If they wanted to fill those holes, they would need to do so through free agency – to gut the already thin system again for an outside shot at a wild card spot in a spectacularly tough division would be a franchise-crippling mistake that I’m willing to trust Attanasio won’t make, no matter how great his drive to produce a team that can fill seats on a yearly basis.

Are the Brewers really, truly done this year? Probably, yeah. They were sitting at about the same spot they are now back in 2012, when a seven game losing streak left them 10 games under .500 and 10 games back of the second wild card spot. That late July slide forced Melvin’s hand toward selling, and Zack Grienke was dealt to the Angels. The Brewers, however, would rally all the way back to get within a game and a half of the Cardinals for that last playoff spot on September 21st before finally fading away. So there’s a slight gasp of hope if you feel like holding onto something, but the NL Central was a lot weaker in 2012, when the both the Cubs and Astros lost 100 games and the Pirates were still a year away from breaking their long streak of losing seasons. So the best case scenario, if you’re the impatient type, is a quick reload (though the free agent third baseman class for next year looks downright brutal) for next year.

What will the Brewers do at the deadline this year? At this point, who knows. It’s been a slow starting trade season across the league this year, but with so much parity throughout the league, the Brewers man be one of a very small amount of teams willing to toss in the towel and sell assets over the next week and a half. If you were hoping for a home run return for the likes of Gomez or Lucroy, the promising signs the Crew has shown over the past month has probably wiped that possibility out, if it ever really existed at all. Parra is the Brewers best and most obvious piece, and were he to still be on the team on August 1st, it would not only be shocking, it would be a grievous mistake on the team’s part. Ramirez may be traded, if he wants to be and if they can find a buyer. The Brewers would love to offload Lohse and/or Garza, but will find it difficult to find a contender that believes either can offer value down the stretch. For anyone else on the roster, the Brewers would really need to be blown away to consider moving pieces with multiple years of team control left. Whatever the Brewers choose to do, I would expect the big league team to look substantially different come August 1st.

Being An Idiot On Twitter: A Tragicomedy in Three Acts

I did not have a very nice morning.

I woke up tired and sore after a weekend mini-vacation to the Wisconsin Dells to celebrate the wedding of a college roommate. Two days of carefree fun in the sun had been replaced with five days of weirdly patterned cubicles, fluorescent lights, and a lot of decidedly un-fun things like spreadsheets that aren’t about baseball statistics, making phone calls to people who do not want to talk to me, and capitalized interest. I didn’t not drink fully 126 ounces of tropical-themed drinks with names such as The Kings of Rum Poolside Punch and Wild Blue Yonder on Sunday out of a giant margarita glass large enough to fit a women’s basketball into, so I was dealing with the aftermath of that as well. I was cranky, and I needed to take it out on someone. I decided to take it out on you, Brewers Twitter.

Oh boy. Oh no.

But wait. Assuredly, there’s no one out there that would take such a preposterously hot take seriously, is there? 10.5 games back is a LOT of games to be back. Orlando Arcia is super NOT going to be traded. I mean, this is @PFTCommenter done very poorly. You have to be a BIT more realistic, right?

Well, look. Brew Crew Ball has upwards of 8,000 followers, and it’s just not reasonable to assume that some portion of them are awe-inspiringly stupid. This is Twitter, after all. They don’t check your official transcripts before they let you join. It’s reasonable for them to assume my reply was in earnest.   Let’s take it up a notch.

Alright now wait just a gosh darn minute. Now, not only am I implying that a single at bat during a meaningless exhibition game in any way affects a prospect’s value, but I am making this claim based on an at bat that I didn’t even see, I only read about it. This is very obvious trolling, and anyone who doesn’t see it just doesn’t want to and feels like havin’ an argument. Definitely, the rest of y’all aren’t fooled, right?

This phrase is trademarked by Elsa you will need to sent $3.99 to Disney to use it

BUT DID YOU SEE THE AT BAT IT WAS BAD CHRIS IT WAS SO BAD

Another $3.99 in the coffers for Disney. Pay the man, Eric

Heh! You an me both, pal. Who wants to be a part of a team that gives up on a season because of silly things like “reality” or “because there isn’t any hope of us competing this year” or “the long term health of the franchise”

“Math” is on to me, you guys. PLAY IT COOL

A stunning development in our story. This is brand new information to me!

So anyway, the experience of pretending to be the world’s worst Brewers fan this afternoon gave me the chance to blow off some steam on my lunch break, while simultaneously making a few folks feel real nice about themselves for being so right in an argument on the internet. Imagine the gift I’ve given these folks! All of them won an argument on Twitter today. What a treat. And my imaginary beef with whoever runs the Brew Crew Ball social media accounts ended with a nice talk about sandwiches.

Happy Monday, everyone.

Five Thoughts: Please Help Build Milwaukee’s New Arena

Voting on the Wisconsin State Budget takes place this month, which is normally something that ranks between “What occurred on this week’s episode of The Bachelorette?” and “How many strands of hair does my friend Jon have on his head well let’s count ’em and find out” on my List of Things I Care To Devote My Attention to. The state budgeting process is both boring and complicated, so it’s something I don’t really understand and don’t care to learn about, and politics in general only serves to make folks mad or depressed so why bother getting worked up anyway.

This year, however, we’ve got something to talk about. The push to get approval for public funding for a new Milwaukee arena that will house the Bucks is nearing a crucial point as the NBA’s deadline of 2017 to either put the Bucks up in nicer digs or lose them forever rushes ever closer. There’s all sorts of fiscal policy, politic-y type of nonsense surrounding the issue, and if you want to read about all that in depth from a bunch of sportswriters and bloggers who have a highly questionable grasp on it themselves, you can find it elsewhere. Here I’m just presenting five common sense arguments in support of the plan, and before you place me on one side or another of any political spectrum, you should know that it absolutely horrifies me to be on the same side as Scott Walker on any issue more complicated than, “Should I wear shoes today?”

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Unf so pretty I want it

1) If you are a taxpayer outside of Milwaukee County and are opposed to the Bucks arena on principle because “Why the heck should I have to help pay for it?” well, just stop it. Under the currently proposed plan, the state’s portion of the bill would cost taxpayers about $4 million dollars per year, while the state would collect at least $6.5 million dollars per year in tax revenue from NBA players (h/t Wisconsin State Journal); keep in mind that that figure is literally certain to go up, since the average salary for a big four professional sports league has decreased exactly zero times, and NBA salaries in particular are set to explode when their new TV deal kicks in after next season. That revenue will be gone if this arena deal is not approved — there is no alternative under which the state could retain that revenue while refusing to support the arena funding plan.

2) If your main argument is “Well, the Bucks owners should just pay for the arena themselves, they’re all billionaires and they can afford it, so just what the heck’s going on here anyway, guys?” then well, you’re right they could afford it, and that would be swell if they’d pay for it all, but they aren’t going to and that’s that. Is it silly that we have to help line billionaires’ pockets with our tax money? Sure it is. But we do that on an hourly basis in every facet of our lives every single day anyway for things that are a lot less cool than a brand new sports and entertainment district which would serve as the home for a group of 12 of the best basketball players on planet Earth. If you’re intent on making sure none of your tax money goes to greedy billionaires who shouldn’t need your help to subsidize their businesses, well I hope you’ve taken some survivalist courses at the Y because it looks like you’re headed to Montana to find a piece of land in the woods where you’ll just have to hope that no one finds you to collect their 14.5% of the rabbits y’all trapped for dinner. Get real, people.

3) In truth, we should be glad that Mark Lasry, Wes Edens and Senator Kohl have offered to contribute as much as they have to the building of a new arena for the city of Milwaukee. Kansas City, Seattle and Las Vegas are all in an absolute lather to acquire a major league sports team, and one of those three cities would almost certainly be the landing spot for the Bucks should they fail to find a new Milwaukee home. Kansas City has already built their arena (one that was almost entirely publicly funded), and Seattle and Las Vegas are set to break ground on theirs in the very near future. The fact is that the city of Milwaukee has absolutely no leverage in this supposed battle against the bully NBA and it’s billionaire owners, and yet the Bucks’ new and former owners have given a ton of ground anyway.

taylor-swift-iheartradio-fest-2014-billboard-650

Build it for HER

4) One thing that a lot of people seem to be unable to grasp is that this is not the “Bucks new arena”. This is Milwaukee’s new arenaThe Bucks will use it 43 to 59 times every year (hopefully skewing toward the high side of that scale). This leaves around 300 other days during which the Bucks will not be occupying the space, and Milwaukee can make money off of its investment. Marquette’s men’s basketball team will likely lose a lot of games in it, and will pay rent to do so. The Admirals will likely move in, and will pay rent to do so. Y’all like the NCAA men’s basketball tournament? The Bradley Center has hosted first and second round games a bunch of times; how about we bring a regional final to the Brew City? UFC and WWE and the WBA and other acronyms for folks punching other folks in the head will bring their events; Anna and Elsa will come through with Disney on Ice; maybe Taylor Swift will come to town. TAYLOR SWIFT Y’ALL. You think the #1989WorldTour would have skipped past Milwaukee if we had a shiny new arena for her to be the damn queen in?

5) Having things costs money. You don’t buy a nice couch for your living room because it makes fiscal sense and the debt incurred by the purchase of the couch will be more than offset by the revenue generated from the people who are going to use your new couch. You buy a nice couch because living rooms should have couches and having a nice looking spot to sit down and watch a basketball game (on your nice television which you also didn’t buy because it was a sound financial decision) is really nice. You buy a nice couch because when folks come over to your house they expect there to be a couch there because you’ve always had a couch before, and if there isn’t a couch they’ll start to wonder just what the heck kind of dummy would have a living room with no couch in it. They probably won’t want to come visit anymore since it’s boring at your house without a couch, and they’ll wonder why anyone would want to live in a house with no couch in it.

Look you guys, we can all make all the arguments for and against this dumb hyper-political state budget plan that we want. Ultimately, I don’t care about any of that nonsense. It boils down to one simple truth for me: I don’t want to lose my basketball team. Not now, after suffering through a lifetime in which I’ve experienced three playoff series wins, two of which came in the same year and the third having occurred while I was still in diapers. Not now, when it seems the Bucks finally have some sense of direction, and finally seem to have a core worth getting excited about for the first time since the Bucks passed on their current coach to take Glenn Robinson in 1994. Not now, when I can finally proudly say that, “My favorite NBA team is the Milwaukee Bucks.” Build the arena. Vote yes. #SaveOurBucks

Chris Heston, And Other Strange No-Hitters

Good afternoon folks,

Many of my friends here know that I’ve just recently started writing with Crooked Scoreboard, a sports and humor website. I’ll still be posting some of my own stuff here, but when I write for them, I’ll still post links here so you can find anything I’ve written in one spot. Below is my debut there, about Juan Nieves, the only Brewer to ever toss a no-hitter, and the pack of jokers that have done so for other teams since:

Crooked Scoreboard – Chris Heston, and Other Strange No-Hitters

Game of Thrones Has Lost Its Way

Note: I followed the 48-hour rule in posting this, but know that there are some significant plot points from Monday’s episode discussed below. If you haven’t seen the latest episode of Game of Thrones (which is not necessarily something that I recommend you do), then SPOILER ALERT ahead.

So, I guess we need to have a talk about this, y’all. I’m going to go ahead and dive right in. I want to focus on two things from last night’s episode, and we’ll start with the least obvious:

The first is Ser Loras Tyrell, the Knight of Flowers. In the books, he is famed all across Westeros as one of the most skilled, ferocious and fearless knights and battlefield leaders in the Seven Kingdoms. He’s also universally adored by the women of Westeros – he’s basically the George Clooney of King’s Landing. Like, if everyone would stop murdering each other long enough to let someone with half a brain invent the printing press, Ser Loras would be on the cover of Westerosi People magazine as The Seven Kingdoms’ Sexiest Man Alive. Women throw themselves at him. He is a god: not only is he brave, strong and skilled, but he’s the most handsome man most of them have ever seen. We know this becasue the women of King’s Landing line the streets as Ser Loras rides out to assault and capture Dragonstone, a task bestowed upon him by the crown because A) he can fucking do it and B) Cersei is scared to death of him because he’s a dang superhero, and she hopes that he’ll be injured while he’s off slaughtering fools in The Reach.

If you haven’t read the books, this probably doesn’t sound like Ser Loras to you at all. We don’t really ever see Ser Loras in combat, since 90% of his scenes are in the dang bedroom, and he’s certainly not accompanied by a bunch of ladies in there. That’s because very contrary to Goerge R.R. Martin’s subtlety with Loras and Renly’s sexual preferences, Game of Thrones trotted him out there wearing a Lady Gaga T-Shirt and an iPhone loaded with every episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I mean for pete’s sake they basically stamped “I’M GAY” across his forehead and had him bash all of our heads in with a rainbow colored, cock-shaped foam hammer. Do you know there were people who read all the books and didn’t even know Loras was gay until the watched the TV Show? Seriously.

HBO has turned Ser Loras, a bad ass new god who might just happen to like a nice cock every now and again, into a mewling gay cartoon character who needs his effing grandmother to save him from the lunatic mother of his 13-year-old king. Martin’s Ser Loras wouldn’t have been meekly arrested for fornication by the Sparrows and the High Septon, mostly because Benioff and Weiss have made that entire damn storyline up: there is no homosexual witch hunt in George R.R. Martin’s books since Loras is busy, you know, being a knight. HBO made it all up, ostensibly because they can’t have a gay person running around being dope and kicking ass. Even if the Loras HAD been there, there’s no way he’s going to let a bunch of bald, self-mutilating weirdos take him without a damn fight, and if he were to be taken by the Sparrows (not bloody likely), he certainly wouldn’t have sat there crying and screaming “YOU’RE A LIAR!” at some whore during his farcical trial. Get the eff real.

And now we come about the 1000 lbs. direwolf in the room. What in the ENTIRE HELL was that ending? Let’s just get one damn thing straight: this wasn’t some terribly horrific scene that the show had to get through because it’s a major plot point in the novels and you just couldn’t tell the story without it. Ramsay and Sansa never get within 500 leagues of each other in any of GRRM’s fiction. This entire storyline, like 75% of what’s going on in the show now, is, if not a complete departure from the source material, certainly a major change in direction. So if you’re thinking that maybe Benioff and Weiss did the best they could with a difficult subject … nah. They chose to go there because they effing wanted to.

Part of the lure of Game of Thrones has always been the brutal, unfeeling way it’s main characters are treated in the show. This isn’t a place for tidy happy endings or on-time UPS deliveries of justice, and it’s part of what we love about this show. But there is a limit to the patience of your audience as far as what they’re willing to put up with. For me and lot of other people, Benioff and Weiss blew past that limit with “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”. Nothing about about that scene was necessary, and the argument that “it’s how the show is, it’s how it’s always been, if you don’t like it don’t watch” doesn’t hold any water. If the show’s direction requires that Sansa endures that, there’s a way you can do it without making it feel gratuitous. I felt sick to my stomach watching and hearing that last scene, and I’ve never been a victim of any sort of sexual violence. I can’t imagine the horror those who have might have gone through as we watched Sansa face pushed down into the bed, saw Ramsay tear her clothes, and listened to her screams as the camera zoomed in on Reek’s horrified face.

Andy Greenwald over at Grantland sums up my feelings better than I ever could when he says, “Five seasons in, Game of Thrones is long past the point of earning gold stars simply by showing us the worst possible thing. There’s a fine line between exposing the dirty truth of the world and wallowing in it.” Again, Benioff and Weiss blew past that proverbial line on Monday night. It was horrific, totally unnecessary, and it has me seriously considering walking away from a show that I’ve spent the last five years falling in love with.

One would have hoped that after the backlash the show received in response to the overly rapey scene between Jaime and Cersei a year ago, HBO had learned it’s lesson. Obviously that wasn’t the case. As Jason Concepcion, also of Grantland, points out in his mailbag posted today, it doesn’t seem like they’ve learned anything this time, either: they were dismissive of the outcry, painting Sansa as “a hardened woman” doing what she felt she had to, and suggesting that Littlefinger didn’t know what sort of monster he had promised her to. Uh, is that the same Littlefinger that orchestrated the deaths of Jon Arryn, Ned Stark and Joffrey Baratheon without lifting a damn finger? Nope. Tear that one out of the playbook, son, it’s a loser.

Where do we go from here? Can we trust them not to put us in that position again? No. Does that mean it’s time to walk away? I don’t know. There is so much awfulness in this fictional world to focus on: dragons, slavers, murderers, zombies, the fact that no one, NO ONE has punched Cersei in her awful, awful face, etc. Let’s try looking in on some of that bad assery for a while, and maybe the showrunners can work through their rape fantasy issues on their own time.