With no baseball, you’d think winter was simply a waste of four otherwise perfectly good months.
You could be right. But, I spent this past off-season productively – reading stuff and learning stuff.
Now, with just two weeks until Opening Day, it’s time to share some of my newfound expertise.
I’m here to answer questions with that declarative I-am-right-and-you-are-wrong decisiveness that comes when you’ve learned stuff (or think you know stuff, or can talk faster and louder than your friends at dinner).
Some of these questions came from real readers of this blog.
I made the rest up. Which is the prerogative of an expert.
Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?
But, is Animal House still the greatest movie of all time? Sadly, probably not.
For years I’ve said that Animal House is the greatest movie ever made. And, I meant it. Trust me, I’ve watched it a lot.
That the San Francisco Giants remade its greatest scene in 2013 only made it greater.
(None of those Giants – not even Hunter Pence – had ever seen Animal House. Sad, really.)
I watched Animal House again last week and, in light of the horrible fraternity news that’s been spewing out lately like vomit at a college kegger, it sort of ruined it for me.
(This? Still funny.)
But, drinking too much, degrading women, sadistic hazing, racism? Not funny.
Leave it to the frats to ruin this movie for me. Losers.
When are you going to finish War & Peace?
I started Tolstoy’s War & Peace as the off-season began.
I read it because I wanted to know if it was really the greatest book ever written, as literary experts say … and if it’s so great, why haven’t any of my friends read it?
My goal? Finish the 1,200-page book by Opening Day.
I’m often a last-minute slacker … but, guess what?
I finished it last Tuesday.
The whole thing.
The booky part.
Both Epilogues. The Appendix. And, all the footnotes. Hundreds of them, from two different translations.
I don’t think I can be much done-er than that.
It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.
You should read it. Then, whenever someone asks you a tough question – about anything – you can pause thoughtfully, then say, “Well, as Tolstoy reminds us in War & Peace …” and then just answer the question however the hell you want. Who’s going to know?
Let’s try it.
Is Animal House the greatest movie of all time?
“Well, as Tolstoy says in War & Peace’s second epilogue, the present can color our view of the past. So, despite all the dreadful recent news from fraternities, it should not color Animal House’s overall cinematic greatness. After all, 1978 was a very different time.”
You can make up all the crap you want. Chances are the person you’re talking to hasn’t read War & Peace, so you’re in the clear. They’re going to think you’re really smart. (And, a little annoying. They’re probably right about that.)
(Tolstoy would agree with me about Animal House, by the way.)
Waffles or Pancakes?
Waffles. Those little squares are absolute perfection … each one waiting to be turned into a delicious little syrup pond.
Waffles perfected the one fatal pancake flaw … “syrup slide,” where your syrup slides off the pancake and onto the plate, making it useless.
When we start eating ice cream out of “pancake cones” you can argue with me.
Until then, waffles.
This next question comes from WebMD – the popular health website – which really sent me this question by email:
(See how easy this experting thing is?)
This post is just pretext to get us to ask about that tweet you sent last month, isn’t it?
I’m so glad you asked!
Here it is …
Orioles All-Star outfielder, and crossword puzzle clue, Adam Jones saw my tweet, proclaimed my puzzle “coo” (baseball, hip, twitter-speak for “cool”) and retweeted it to his 168,000 followers.
I was viral in a very small, but satisfying, way, for nearly an hour.
When not tweeting, Adam Jones plays center field for the Baltimore Orioles.
Yes, I ultimately finished the puzzle, but I needed brainiac Editor/Husband’s help to do it …
Finally, two baseball questions.
Should Pete Rose’s lifetime ban from baseball be lifted?
Of course not.
Rules are rules.
In 1989, Pete Rose accepted a lifetime ban from baseball because of his gambling.
In 2007, he admitted publicly that he bet on the Reds “every single night” when he was manager of the team.
Here’s baseball’s Rule 21(d) that is posted prominently in every major and minor league clubhouse:
“Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.”
I think we’re done here.
What will Hartford’s Minor League team be called?
Earlier this month, we got to vote on a new name for the Rockies’ AA affiliate. I came around on Yard Goats, because it refers to the little engine that shuffles cars around in a rail yard.
Just think, a steam whistle can blow for every Hartford home run!
Tolstoy coined the term “Yard Goat” in War & Peace, you know. Crazy isn’t it?
But, he did.
I mean, hey, prove me wrong.
And Tolstoy was a Dodgers fan (It’s in “War and Peace”).
Great stuff. And I actually did read “War and Peace” (and “Anna Karenina”). Tom Clancy it ain’t.
Yes, I believe you’re right about Tolstoy being a Dodger’s fan. Mainly, of course, because he believes the Yankees are as repugnant as Napoleon. He was, however, an early proponent of the designated hitter rule … and he may have mentioned “Oriole Magic” early on in War & Peace, but that was a thousand pages ago so I’m a little fuzzy on the details.
Page 12, I think. :-)
“Do you mind if we dance wit yo dates?” Watched a replay of the Saturday Orioles/Twins game; keep Manny and Steve Pearce healthy; I’d be concerned about catcher in the early season. I know, you can reference Kevin Bacon from Animal House, “ALL IS WELL! ALL IS WELL!”
“Wait til Otis sees us! He LOVES us!” Fun fact: I HAVE used Fawn Liebowitz as an alias over the years.
Great blog Jackie!
The important question here is “What did Tolstoy think about waffles?” (Hint: It’s a well known fact that the maple is a delicate animal. The syrup maple, from whose urine maple syrup is extracted doesn’t do well in the Russian climate. Thus, the Russian penchant for using jam in applications where syrup is more appropriate…)
C., who sees verdun2’s WaP and AK, and raises “Crime and Punishment” and “The Idiot”.
My math could be off, but I think one Dostoevsky equals just one-half Tolstoy … so your raise is a little puny. Add in The Brothers Karamazov and one dozen Chekhov short stories and you’ll win by a mile.
Such a funny, random, entry. But, the Germans didn’t bomb Pearl Harbor. Unless Tolstoy said they did.
Bluto Blutarsky was based on War & Peace’s Pierre Bezukhov. The similarities are striking.
Loved the blog and the comments.
Thanks, Gloria … I’m going to miss toting War & Peace around with me. Good times.
Excellent – cheered up my Monday morning! Regards Thom (now time to read Crime & Punishment!)
Thanks, Thom! No better way to fight off “cheery” than a hearty dose of “Crime & Punishment”. I’m done with Russian literature … at least until next Winter! :)
Sounds like a productive off-season. Nice work ;)
Thanks! I’m now ready to give up Russian literature for some brand new box scores! :)
Too funny! Reading your blog and drinking this Starbucks Verona (it is black – but not orange – unlike both of our favorite baseball teams) is a nice break in my day! Thanks!
I’m so ready for Birdland baseball! :)
Animal House and waffles are both great things. I’ve never read War & Peace, but I have trouble keeping focused on an Archie comic. I agree with you on the pee, but not sure about the Pete. I don’t really care if he’s in the HOF or not, but on the field there wasn’t too many better. I also think it’s a good move for the Rock Cats to move to Hartford to become the Yard Goats. I’ve been to a game in New Britain, and the crowd was so quiet I thought that I was in church (not that church is a bad thing, just you’d expect a different atmosphere for a ballgame). I hope you’ve made it to a few college games, we got our first one in last weekend.
The University of Virginia had to cancel or move their first 14 “home” games this season (they played them in North and South Carolina). They finally played at home this past weekend, and we got to the Florida State series. It’s finally warming up here in Virginia and it felt so good to be “home” in the bleachers again. It must have still been chilly at your games!
Hey! How’s it going? I love your answer about Rose: “Of course not.” Love the surety. Missed you over the winter. My bad. The sun is shining on the Jersey shore. Talk to you more soon. Nice job on the tweets!
Yay! It’s nice to see you back in Blog-Land!
And, just a few short days ’til Opening Day … :)
waffles for sure. So much better than pancakes. Oh and Pete Rose should totally be allowed back into baseball. For a couple of reasons: Number One, after everything we have been through with PED’s, is gambling really the worst thing? I’d argue that I’d rather have someone in the game gamble than take PED’s or beat their wife. Plus, he’s served over 20 years, right? Even murders and rapists don’t serve that much time in a lot of cases. Number Two, didn’t he say he always bet on the Reds to win, and didn’t they never find any evidence to the contrary? If that’s the case, that’s totally insane, and therefore also awesome at the same time. Someone that crazy deserves to be in baseball, sharing his hitting knowledge with the next generation of ballplayers. (that and every time I am in Vegas, I see him signing autographs for money in that baseball card shop, and it makes me really sad).
Jason … You’re back! Yay!
I know, it’s very strange that major league baseball is so clear in its enforcement of gambling, but not so much in their drug policies. Still, just because they’re unacceptably weak in their drug policy and enforcement, doesn’t mean they should dumb down their gambling policy.
Pete Rose manned up and accepted the lifetime ban. He acknowledged he bet on baseball. He acknowledged that he knew that betting on baseball was not allowed. End of story. And, really … it’s not like he’s in jail. He’s just been banned from baseball. We haven’t taken away any of his civil rights. You could give him a plaque in Cooperstown tomorrow and I bet the next time you’re in Vegas he’d still be sitting there signing autographs for money.
Joe Jackson’s lifetime ban for something he may not have actually done is what’s sad to me.
But, how about this … Philadelphia Phillies owner Horace Fogel was permanently banned from baseball in 1912 for saying that he thought the umpires favored the Giants during Phillies games. Now, THAT’s crazy.