Monday, March 31, 2008

The Roundtable: AL Central Preview, Part 1

The Round Table format has grown quite popular of late, with the likes of Sam Mellinger (Ball Star Roundtable), Royally Speaking and even Royals on Radio Etc. getting into the bit. How could we not follow suit?

The noble knights around IDWT's roundtable are the writers of last fall's AL Central Wraps, plus one Tom A, a local celeb of sorts in Lawrence, Kansas -- you might know him from the jams he picks on KJHK, 90.7 FM, some of which aren't actually crappy.

This thing is a little unwieldy, so we're dividing it into two parts (part 2 here). Hope you enjoy.

Dramatis personae:
Twins - Mike Kinsella
White Sox - Troy Appel (Rangers Fan)
Indians - Jeff Dees
Tigers - Cranston
Royals - Tom Atchity

Why are you a Twins/White Sox/Indians/Tigers/Royals fan?

Twins: Nothin' better than a 75 and sunny day in Minneapolis, and I get to look up at a sterile white roof. And what other major league team so routinely slams into the baggy? The reason I like the Twins is because I moved to the Twin Cities and I like the Cubs. Hence I figured I might as well cheer for one of the Sox's division rivals.

White Sox: Because I hate the Cubs THAT much, their knowledge-less fans, overrated ballpark and losing history. Half-price tickets on Mondays and Tuesdays. Also, I just love the 90-minute El ride. And I love that synthesizer organ they use.

Indians: Because of Brook Jacoby, Cory Snyder, and Julio Franco… or maybe more because of Pedro Cerrano, Willie “Mays” Hayes, and Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn. What’s great about Major League is that Cleveland does NOT win the championship. They made the playoffs!! Hoorah! I only wish the movie had continued on for another twenty minutes, and we could have seen the Angels take out the Indians in a four-game sweep. Now, that would be a realistic movie about a Cleveland team. So close, but no cigar.

...I was born and raised on the west side of Cleveland. Grandma and Grandpa used to take me to day games at an old stadium that had 5,000 people there and smelled like piss. Despite the 11-1 losses and total lack of any good players, I came to love the team… yet over the last few years, I’ve totally regretted that. I mean, seriously, who willfully chooses to cheer on a franchise that has the second longest World Series drought behind the Cubs? Or, a better question: who has two thumbs and loves to cheer on losing teams in ALL professional sports? THIS GUY!

Tigers: I like the script D on the uniforms -- that's classy shit. I also think Alan Trammell is deserving of more consideration for the Hall of Fame. Finally, Wahoo Sam Crawford is the man -- and also classy. Also, I think it's really cool that the Tigers' managers' name is Leyland and the team trains in Lakeland.

Royals: I became a Royals fan because I am from Kansas City, so it's obvious why I made the initial connection. I think if I look into it a bit deeper, I like the idea of liking a really terrible team, and following it closely until it is on top of the world.

Last Twins/White Sox/Indians/Tigers game you listened to on the radio?

Twins: Don't think I have ever listened to the Twins on the radio, though I do love Sid Hartman drooling on himself on WCCO on Sunday mornings. I really love listening to Pat Hughes and Ron Santo -- such a great combination of class and knowledge mixed with crazy and diabetes.

White Sox: Who needs radio when you have "Hawk"? I will listen now that Steve Stone has joined the team for the upcoming season. But Hawk and Darrin Jackson's blatant hatred for each other makes the broadcasts especially fun to listen to, especially the deafening periods of silence that fill every broadcast.

Indians: There is nothing finer than listening to Tom Hamilton broadcast a game on WTAM-1100. While I haven’t listened to many, seeing as I live in Chicago now, I probably went to every day last year during the playoff run to hear Tommy Hamilton’s call of the big win the night before. Nothing can get your blood going like hearing Mr. Hamilton scream, “Hafner, 3-2 count… and the stretch… the pitch… SWING AND A DRIVE… DEEP RIGHT FIELD... A WAAAAAAY BACK… THIS ONE IS GONE!!” You will be hard pressed to find any Indians fan who would say one negative word about Mr. Hamilton.

Side note: The highlight of my broadcasting days during Northwestern came sophomore year. I was working color commentary for WNUR, and Tom Hamilton was doing play by play for ESPN+. With my palms sweaty and my pants wetty (not a result of nerves… it’s a medical condition I have), I went up to Mr. Hamilton and talked to him briefly. It was like meeting an Indians legend, just awesome.

Tigers: Jack Brickhouse has the classiest voice in baseball. There's no reason to listen to anyone else, despite all my respect to the Jim Price and Rod Allen. I actually listened to the clinching game in 2006 on the radio -- it was the last game I listened to in full on the radio.

Royals: I listened to about seven innings of the Royals game yesterday against the Brewers in Spring Training ball.

When was the last time you encountered your team get slandered by the media, and how did that make you feel?

Twins: I think it was after the Santana trade. Actually, yea, it's been coming pretty much consistently since the Santana trade. Just remember what the Twins got back for A.J. Pierzynski...

White Sox: Ever since Jay Mariotti was made to look like a fool in 2005, bashing the White Sox has been a vogue thing to do. Ozzie's tirades, Kenny Williams' mind-numbing trades, the complete and utter lack of a bullpen, the fact that Darrin Erstad was the team's leading hitter for a stretch last season. There have been ample reasons to bash the Sox and, based on their performance last season, the media is right on. [Editor's note: Uh... agree?]

Indians: Hmm… let’s think hard about this one. Last year in the playoffs, the little boys from Cleveland played against the Yankees and Red Sox. I’m sure Fox, TBS and ESPN had fair and balanced coverage on that series. Chip Caray couldn’t even pronounce half of the players on the Indians, let alone tell you how they were owning the crap out of the Yankee pitchers. According to all of the networks, who beat the Yankees in Game 2? Not Fausto Carmona’s dominant 9 innings+ of work, but those freakin' gnats. I would have assumed our collapse against the Red Sox in games 5-7 of the ALCS was part of some Fox conspiracy, but we got our asses beaten so bad that even I know that isn’t true.

The media coverage means nothing to me. All of the networks hate us because we bring down ratings. Yep, I know ESPN, America doesn’t love underdogs and teams that don’t win for 50-60 years. Instead, middle America cares infinitely more about the big Yankee drought of 7 years. I hate the media.

Tigers: All the time, I hear people talk about how the Tigers are among the best teams in the American League and how their offense may be the best in baseball. Bollocks! Why the hedging? The Tigers are THE best team in the American League. C'mon -- Dontrelle Willis? Also, the Tigers offense is destined to score at least 1,050. Getting rid of Sean Casey nearly assures it.

Royals: [No answer] [Ed.'s note: We understand your reticence. Talking yourself into a boil over this isn't good for the health.]

What do you dislike most about your team's city's municipal government?

Twins: No complaints. Only been here for eight months.
EDIT: Ok, City of Minneapolis. You've been playing indoors for 27 years, so I expect you all to forget what Minnesota weather is like for baseball. But as I wake up this morning, March 31, OPENING DAY, it's snowing eight inches. And you want an open air stadium? Enjoy the snow-outs until May! Good for me though, there's going to be about three straight weeks of home doubleheaders in August and September. Also, clean up the embankments along I-94 east of the Lowry Hill Tunnel, that just looks like crapbag.

White Sox: [No answer]

Indians: Cleveland can not be any dumber. While I love the sports teams, I hate my city. What does every major city in America that is on water do with the lovely landscape: they make shops, parks, attractions that bring tourists to their city. What does the great government of Cleveland do: build Cleveland Browns Stadium there!! Oh great, a place used 10 days a year is taking up the entire waterfront on Lake Erie. That will really bring in the tourists and money.

Oh yeah, they also banned drinking in the parking lots outside stadiums. So now, we just do it inside of games and then throw bottles at referees.

Tigers: I dislike that the government hasn't made more rules to limit the number of Arabs in the city. [Ed.'s note: I assure you, dear reader, that Mr. Cranston is making a sophisticated, apolitical, assuredly NON-RACIST joke about the dynamics of Detroit demographics. You have my word on that.]

Royals: I hate KCMO. Plainly put, what the fuck? But I do like the upgrades to the K. Holler!

If you could burglarize anyone on your team, who would it be, and why?

Twins: No one. Torii? He makes big money.

White Sox: Jose Contreras. Because I'm tired of him of him sucking and he's probably used to the Cuban government robbing him blind anyway.

Indians: I would love to rob Paul Byrd because I have this small tumor, and doctors are telling me that HGH could really help to treat it. From what I hear, Mr. Byrd may be able to help me with this situation.

Tigers: I would burglarize the Tigers so I could take Gary Sheffield's coolness. I'd give it back eventually of course.

Royals: I think Jose Guillen, mostly because he is rich, seemingly hilarious off the field, and those two things lead to hilarious possessions.

Your favorite baseball memory or memories as it pertains to a player on your team getting horrifically injured or humiliated?

Twins: Gary Matthews ran into the wall in centerfield last year and hurt himself when he hit a pole. This allowed Mauer to truck his slow catcher ass all around the bases for an inside-the-park home run.

White Sox: "Favorite" is used loosely. The injury that sticks in my mind is Robin Ventura getting his cleat caught in home plate and twisting his foot 45 degrees. With that image stuck in my head, I did not sleep well that night.

Tigers: My favorite is the Tigers acting like the pitchers in Bases Loaded II (for Nintendo) and making fielding throws nowhere near the bases. If you held down one of the D-pad directions and thew, you could make almost any throw an error in Bases Loaded II. I'm sure Joel Zumaya played the game, given his noteworthy success with Guitar Hero.

Royals: Even though he wasn't on the Royals at the time, I always enjoy seeing Damon run headfirst into his teammate. Everyone cringes, yet I laugh crazily. Should have had a better arm, Johnny!

Who would make a better manager for your team?

Twins: Gardy does a great job. Maybe Joe Girardi, but I don't think many people get much better out of as little talent as Gardenhire.

White Sox: Anyone but Terry Bevington.

Indians: There is no one better than Eric Wedge. Who else can manage an AL Central champion by merely chewing on seeds and having the occasional facial twitch? It’s incredible! His calm demeanor really does fit the team well, but if I’m looking for someone better, I’d probably go with a Joe Torre.

Tigers: I would. I could do what Leyland does without smoking so as to set a better examples for the young players.

Royals: Jesus. I really enjoy Trey Hillman. Because of his history, I always picture him speaking like a bad guy in Rumble in the Bronx. You know, completely dubbed by another guy.

If you were a hot dog, what would you rather be smothered in from head to toe: ketchup, mustard, relish or saliva? Please explain your answer.

Twins: Mustard, because Ketchup is illegal in Chicago.

White Sox: [No answer]

Indians: I know how I’m NOT going to be made: Chicago-style. The next time someone in Chicago gives me a look when I put ketchup on my dog, I’m going to kill. A solid ketchup-brown stadium mustard combo (with a few grilled onions) on the dog makes for the best ballpark food. All of that Chicago crap like relish, peppers, and pickle have no place on my buns. (Mind out of the gutter…) [Ed.'s note: Despite the length of this response, it does not actually answer the question, which asks one to imagine he literally takes on the form of a hot dog.]

Tigers: Relish -- just because of the puns it would elicit.

Royals: I really like mustard, and whenever the hot dogs run at the K, I cheer like my life depends on it for Mustard. Pretty boring.

Most hated AL Central sports columnist, and why?

Twins: Mariotti -- all he does is rip on everyone.

White Sox: Rick Morrissey. I can't recall in five-plus years one provocative or remotely interesting opinion. At least the Sun-Times guys have opinions and have a pulse.

Indians: Jay Marriotti. Asshole. Next question.

Tigers: Mitch Albom. Presumably he's one of the five people I'd meet in hell.

Royals: Jay Mariotti. I don't like any journalist who doesn't report from games. Way to mail it in Jay. Also, I hate Around the Horn.

Most hated blog?

Twins: IDWT, easily.

White Sox: [No answer] [Ed.'s note: Presumably because White Sox fans don't read.]

Deadspin, not for the posts but for the comments. Hey, we get it, you’d like to bang Erin Andrews. Why don’t you post “Erin Andrews loves Rock Chalk Jay Cock” another 20 times? Hilarious! And then people get mad when Bob Costas and others say that blogging brings down the intelligence of sports conversation.

Tigers: If You Like It It Must Be Terrible. Only because it's trying to be ironic but instead does the exact same thing as any other blog. What a bunch of losers!

Royals: I read Dan Shanoff every day, but he really makes me mad. I don't understand the point of mindless, self-righteous writing every day. But, I also really enjoy his blog, and I really don't hate it at all.

Most annoying ESPN personality?

Twins: You're with me, leather.

White Sox: Stephen A. Smith. Just read every other sports fan's opinion -- I agree with them all.

Indians: As a Catholic school teacher, I’m tempted to say Dana “F*** Jesus” Jacobsen; but if I had been forced to sit through a Mike & Mike roast, I probably would have questioned if there is a God.

Mike Patrick is TERRIBLE!! If I have to hear how AMAZING or INCREDIBLE another two-yard run is, I’m going to go crazy. I’m not even bringing up the Britney Spears nonsense in the middle of an incredible overtime football game because if I have to relive that experience, I’ll punch a hole right through this computer.

Tigers: Dave O'Brien -- he thinks research is something only Ph.D. students do.

Royals: Jay Marriotti again. Talentless hack.

To be continued... for now, enjoy Opening Day. We'll be back after Gil Meche shuts down those Tigers and beats Justin Verlander.

UPDATE: Proceed to part 2.

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