Yakkin' About Baseball: Poisoned Orange Juice, Haunted Yankees, Fictitious Reds

A frank discussion of the first month or so of baseball, touching upon the psychopharmacological effects of Bartolo Colon, jowly athletes, and some losing teams.

by David Roth and David Raposa
May 5 2016, 7:59pm

Photo by Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

David Roth: I have found, embarrassingly, that my mood has improved along with the Mets' play. I would love to be more complicated or adult than this, but it appears I am not. My serotonin levels are pegged to Neil Walker continuing to play well above his career norms. I can't think of a single way this could ever go wrong for me.

David Raposa: If my team was making CitiField look like Flintstones Chewable Park or whatever they call the little league field in Williamsport, I'd be stoked, too.

Roth: Right now my mental health is being buoyed by the fact that they keep playing bad teams. The Braves are a sinus headache with a bullpen, but they have definitely helped me stay positive.

Raposa: I picked up Jhoulys Chacin in fantasy and started him against the Mets just in time to see his Gus Van Santian shot-by-shot recreation of Mike Foltynewicz's start against the Mets earlier this week. I am living in that sinus headache.

Read More: Neil Walker, Switch-Hitting, And Multiple Personalities

Roth: Bad teams are bad teams, but I have to give the Braves credit for taking some time, doing the math, and coming up with the most depressing possible version of a bad team. It's not just having a lineup that could pretty much entirely have been pulled off the waiver wire in a 16-team fantasy league. It's the details, the little ways of saying, "We are obviously not trying and do not care even a little." When the Mets played in Atlanta, the ball was taking these crazy hops because the infield is in crazily shitty shape. Like they just let Gravedigger practice crushing Dodge Neons there when the team's on the road so they can make a little money on the side.

Raposa: You'd think the money they'd get from the Truckasauruses of the world would allow them to sign someone that can hit a home run, though.

Roth: I didn't think Freddie Freeman's brows could be more knitted, but I was wrong.

Raposa: Thank god the Phillies still have Ryan Howard to albatross those unknowns. Kids these days need to be reminded constantly about the fleeting joys of youth and the frailties of the flesh.

Roth: I agree that Millennials have much to learn from the Phillies lineup. Besides Howard and Maikel Franco, the lineup when I saw them was all guys I wrote baseball cards for eight years ago and forgot about. The good news is that Emmanuel Burris is apparently doing fine. He has long hair now. I thought Jeff Francoeur was still on their roster, but he is apparently back in Atlanta. He's in that part of his career where he'll just be passed between those two teams every year as needed.

Can't criticize this defense, really. Photo by David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Raposa: I thought he was giving pitching a go?

Roth: He was, for a while.

Raposa: You'd think his aversion to walking would be a benefit on the mound.

Roth: More so than in right field. But we're kind of scouting the stats/obvious orthopedic facts on the ground here. There are intangibles to consider.

Raposa: Testicular fortitude, ass-slap-to-hot-foot ratios, sunflower seed shell exit velocities, things of that nature.

While we're vaguely chatting about the Mets: What is up with Harvey's velocity? Is he hurt, or is he getting orders from Scott Boras to "take it easy" for the next few months?

Roth: Sources high up in the Mets front office tell me that "it's because he's very selfish and bad, and Jeff Wilpon should be the one kissing the pretty girls and going to good restaurants."

Raposa: Weff Jilpon, always coming through with the most accurate dirt.

Roth: Honestly I don't know. It's also hard to tell because he's one of those elite athletes who naturally tend toward resting hangover face and double-chinned jowliness. He is a great pitcher and I want nothing but the best for him, but he's always going to look like a junior associate at a big law firm who is being kept alive entirely by flavored Keurig coffees and those peanut butter-filled pretzel nubs. Also, in the baseball sense, his curve looks pretty OK, but without the fastball he is...what his numbers presently say he is.

Raposa: At least the Mets have the silly starting depth to withstand some un-Harvey-ness. More teams wish they could point to someone of Zack Wheeler's caliber as their key "trade deadline acquisition."

Roth: Harvey does make a decent third starter, that is true. He and Chris Archer are pitchers I like, and on whom I have longish fantasy positions. In the baseball sense, I don't want to—they're both very handsome men, is what I'm saying, and they also are not really pitching very well. Have you seen Archer at all?

Raposa: No, but I've seen some of Archer's pitching lines, and they aren't really something I liked looking at. I thought he was pitching better of late?

Careful with the circuitry, guys. Photo by Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Roth: He is. There wasn't a lot of room to get worse. I still have no idea what's going on in Tampa. I know they're a real team, but they seem to be sort of evolving into a purely algorithmic enterprise at this point. I'm not sure I could tell you who's managing them. Kevin Cash? Franklin N. Bash? Kevin Nash?

Raposa: I think it's actually Fox News contributor/Clueless goodwill ambassador Stacey Dash.

Roth: Mrs. Dash if you're nasty.

Roth: Their starting lineup is Kevin Kiermaier, Evan Longoria, and six platoon spots. This is the future.

Raposa: I think Logan Forsythe is full time.

Roth: Well yeah, I get that. You want, uh, Logan Forsythe's bat in the lineup every day. I presume.

Raposa: I'm not invested enough to bother looking at actual statistics before spouting off some nonsense (#TeamFirstTake), but Longo should probably be platooned at this point, too.

Roth: That's a drag, but true. Man, the rest of this lineup. Logan Morrison flexing the rare -21 OPS+ with 25 strikeouts. Exquisite.

Raposa: It takes a certain something to make a team regret moving James Loney, but LoMo has that something.

Roth: I don't feel like I'm paying less attention to baseball than usual, but there are more names I don't recognize in the league than I'm comfortable with. This may have something to do with like 20 percent of the league actively and unrepentantly tanking, but there seem to be a lot of placeholder names on rosters this year.

Raposa: "Mallex Smith" definitely has that "Baseball Stars" feel to it.

Roth: The Braves are all dudes I sort of remember for their marginal roles on American League wild card teams during George W. Bush's second term. The Brewers, on the other hand, have a lot of people I think were just made up. Lot of alliteration, some kind of Mad Lib-y [Masculine Noun] [Whimsically Adjectival Compound Surname] types. That's how you get Shooter Porkman, or Paver Greenland. Although, credit where it's due, Create Player 2 has actually been a pleasant surprise for the Braves this year as a Rule 5 pick.

"Hey, uh congratulations guys. Please remember to wear your nametags." Photo by Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Raposa: At least, he was before he was charged with assault and battery.

Roth: There's no room for that in this clubhouse. That is why he has been suspended and replaced on the roster by, uh, Arealman Rodriguez.

Raposa: Hopefully, he's better than his brother, Arealhumanbeingandarealhero Rodriguez.

Roth: Actually playing very well in Korea, as it happens.

Raposa: My Drive jokes are evergreen.

Roth: Are they? Are they, though?

Raposa: The scorpion jacket I've been wearing to job interviews says, "Fuck yeah they are." In other news, I'm still unemployed.

Roth: Well, I hope Albert Brooks calls you back about that gig. It sounds like a great opportunity.

Raposa: I've got my big-ass fake head ready to go and everything.

Roth: We ran a thing about the Yankees the other day that actually bummed me out, and I don't care when they're bad. I kind of like it, in the same way. But they are on some 1990 Danny Tartabull and the Funky Bunch shit right now, and not in a "disreputable but vexingly danceable" sense. In a "Steve Balboni isn't walking through that door" sense.

Raposa: All those high-paid midlife crisis-ing chickens coming home to roost, and occasionally pop out to the catcher.

Roth: Just how George would've done it. Except somehow Lou Piniella would be managing them by now and threatening the pets of the Daily News beat writers, and they would have traded for Billy Butler.

Digging the youth movement. Photo by Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Raposa: How many times do you think Cashman has keyed a Steinbrenner's car over the Teixeira and A-Rod contracts? I am assuming those deals were the product of some Steinbrennerian meddling, either in person or from beyond the grave.

Roth: You have to assume they were. It's kind of hard to come up with a compelling baseball reason for paying A-Rod through 2046.

Raposa: So many compelling non-baseball reasons, though.

Roth: That is true. The Steinbrenners have a long position on the international market for white carpeting. Paying A-Rod all that money basically keeps the industry afloat.

Raposa: In actual bummer news I give a shit about, the Astros are looking very un-Astro-like. Or very Astro-like, if you're of the opinion that last year was an aberration.

Roth: Yeah, it's a drag. That lineup was kind of weird for a playoff team overall, but they were the Astros so I was just going with it. When a team improves its record by, like, 30 wins, you tend not to question their reliance on Colby Rasmus. But yeah, they are not so good. Collin McHugh was putting up some VERY ROBUST stats early, too. WHIPs that looked like ERAs. ERAs that look like the precise age of Carlos Correa.

Raposa: Keuchel's doing similar work, it seems. If the Astros' long-term plan is to make their starters look appealing to the Reds and no one else, it's working. Also, that Ken Giles trade is aging about as well as the carton of orange juice I left out on the counter overnight. It was OJ from Whole Foods, too. One of these days, I'll remember to bring my own suit, tie, and jacket before going shopping.

Roth: This improves the metaphor. Because you paid a lot for it and thought it would be good but it turns out that it's actually extremely unsafe for human consumption.

Raposa: I actually almost tried the juice, after the internet said it might still be good. When I opened the bloated carton, it smelled like my foot had been soaking in it all night.

Roth: The metaphor has now improved to the point of unimprovability. I'm glad you didn't die from OJ poisoning. I am sorry, and honestly a little worried, that you apparently came so close.

Raposa: As a great drink peddler once said, thank you for your support.