Friday, March 29, 2013

7 Questions for the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates Season

1. Which James McDonald will show up? The first half James McDonald or the second half James McDonald?
If the confident first half James McDonald takes the mount every fifth start, the Bucs have a shot at cracking the .500 mark. If the mentally disturbed second half James McDonald shows up, fans might need flak jackets. Sports psychologists generally agree that McDonald, despite his raw talent, lost his mental composure after the All-Star break in 2012. If this condition parlays itself into 2013 the results could be disastrous. “Mental imbalance worsens if left untreated,” said one expert. If McDonald gives up a few runs early in a game and is not pulled, some fear he may become completely unhinged.  The result could be a full-blown psychotic episode. “He could explode like Bruce Banner being locked in a closet with Flo the redheaded chick from Progressive,” said one anonymous source. “The pierogies would be racing…for their god-forsaken lives.”

2. Will Bucs fan miss Rod Barajas?
Rod Barajas had such an unproductive year in 2012 the decision to let him walk was easy. Russell Martin was signed to provide competence at the catcher position. But will fans miss Barajas? Possibly under one condition: Martin loses his right leg in a wheat thrasher incident, wears a 65-pound medieval full plate suit of armor behind the plate, bats with his head stuffed in a bucket, and is a reanimated corpse.

3. Will Jeff Karstens survive the season?
How many times has it been said: Jeff Karstens is an effective pitcher when healthy. Unfortunately, he’s made out of crepe paper. Is this the year that a stiff breeze or a hearty slap on the ass literally kills Jeff Karstens?

4. Will Bucs’ batters be set aflame before stepping into the batter’s box?
The novelty of fireworks is abating. Fans are demanding more winning, and less post-game theatrics. Rumor is that Pirates owner Bob Nutting is contemplating dousing Bucs’ hitters in gasoline and setting them aflame whilst their name is announced as batter. During the at-bat, some shitty band like Creed or Blues Traveler will play a "Fan Jam" live set on a raised stage in center field. Meanwhile, a pack of starved rabid hyenas wearing retro ’71 Pirates jerseys will be released from both dugouts.  “This should draw attention away from the scoreboard,” Nutting was overheard as saying.

5. Which fictional character will the Pirates summon amid a winning first half, who will turn against them after the break?
Remember early last year when a Pirates’ batter slid safely into second after a double and flashed the Zoltan Z (of Dude, Where’s My Car fame) to the bench? Zoltan got sick of being summoned and extracted revenge as the season wore on. If the Bucs string together a few wins in May, who will the player choose to conjure: Beebop or Rocksteady from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Balki from Perfect Strangers? Alfalfa? Maybe the bigger question is will any player slide safely into second base at any point in the season?

     6. When will highly touted pitching prospect Garret Cole tank?
Cole was taken as the number one draft pick in 2011. He’s the Steven Strasburg of the Pirates organization. However, he isn’t Steven Strasburg. Scouts differ on exactly when Cole will tank? We can reasonably assume he will be called to the majors in June. Many scouts believe Cole will put together a few decent starts before hitters adjust, and then tank monumentally in mid-July. Others predict he won’t begin to tank until later in the season when the fan base predicts a playoff berth, when every other player tanks in unison. Either way, the Pirates front office is committed to giving Cole “every opportunity to tank royally in every conceivable way in excruciating fashion.”   

 7. Will PNC Park be bombed during the ceremonial opening day fighter jet flyover?
Each season of consecutive losing compounds the misery. After 20 losing seasons, perhaps a higher authority will authorize an end to the veritable hell that is Pirates baseball. Will a top US military commander order the fighter jets to unleash a payload of explosives on the long-suffering fans at PNC? I’m not asking readers if this will happen, I’m begging whoever can make this happen to please blow it up. Blow it all up.
Talk about a rebuilding effort for 2014.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Facebook Is Not A High School Health Book...I Feel Slimed

Whenever I log onto to the Facebook homepage I’m afraid to scroll down. Sure, I expect to witness all-too-personal photos that I, personally, would never reveal to the online world under any circumstances or via any medium.  If I happen upon a snapshot of someone’s French poodle dressed in a Captain America outfit I sigh and move on. If I come across a picture of some fraternity dude passed out on a pool table and swathed in pornographic hieroglyphics I shrug and continue scrolling. 

Now, I realize that by maintaining a Facebook profile and accepting “friend” requests without prejudice that I am susceptible to a bounty of virtual shameless whims.  But for Pete’s sake, there are some oddities I shouldn’t ever have to witness on Facebook and one of them is close-up high definition photos of foot-and-mouth disease.  But low and behold…YOU, sir, have shaped me into a more hard-boiled web surfer in one fell swoop.  I understand that you want your photos to go viral, but this is ridiculous.  

Whenever I post something—no matter how seemingly trivial it is—I think long and hard about it before I click “post.”  Regardless if it’s a harmless picture of me posing with a largemouth bass or if I’m simply writing “Can’t wait to see the Dark Knight Rises” I consider any possible divisive interpretations.  But you!?  You obviously considered those close-up high definition photos of you foot-and-mouth disease and thought “People need to see these.  The world will be a better place if I post these.  I’d put these pictures on a billboard if I could but Facebook will have to suffice.  Behold my awesome infection!”  And another thing, aren’t you breaking some kind of reverse HIPPA law?  If not, the regulations should be rewritten to protect innocent people who might inadvertently wander into your photographic foot-and-mouth disease bear trap, of sorts…WHAMMO!  Foot-and-mouth disease!  Once ensnared in your gross device I felt like a presenter on Nickelodeon’s Kid’s Choice Awards, having a laugh, when all of the sudden a bucket of slime showers my head—only the slime was close-up high definition photos of foot-and mouth-disease and my head was in fact my soul. 

Although I am too afraid to investigate your Facebook profile further I can’t help but wonder what other dreadful cyber surprises I might unearth: Before and after photographs of the lanced boil on your tailbone? A virtual diary chronicling every ward, scab or skin tag you have ever had, complete with removal date and gardening tool used for said removal? A 3-D You Tube Video of your gall bladder surgery? 

Since the advent of Facebook, I have acquired the notion that some users would leapfrog boundaries of tastefulness.  Your close-up high definition photos of your foot-and mouth-disease have skyrocketed over that boundary.  Whatever you do please don’t “poke” me, “tag” me or virtually touch me in any fashion.  It’s not that I’m skittish about your disorder I just don’t want your misguided sense of social networking candidness to rub off.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

We Are The Good Guys

We are the good guys.

We are the merrymakers dancing among the fires of the apocalypse. We are the heretics screeching from the bell tower above the smoke plumes. We are the carousers laughing while the pharaoh chokes.

I’d spent nine months imagining my reaction the moment you counted as a tick on the census. I thought I’d smile with my lips sealed and nod my head once; “Damn right that’s my boy!" Instead, I gasped and covered my mouth. My neurons ceased firing for 13 seconds. Tears swelled. I fought them. Your mother and your grandfather and the doctor and the nurses would’ve witnessed your father’s breakdown. I fought harder. The tears in my eye creases evaporated; they went up instead of down. I won.

We are the stargazers gawking at the beautiful abyss of godless chaos above. We are the soulless not waiting for the light but sparking our own flame. We are the missionaries en route to an immaculate wasteland.

I slept on the hospital couch that night (after swallowing two Benadryl pills). The nurse brought you in the room around two thirty in the morning. I know because I awoke resting on my right shoulder, facing the door and the wall clock. You were crying. I hadn’t heard you cry yet. My own tears amassed again. I flipped to my left shoulder. This time I surrendered unconditionally to the emotion, in the darkness and facing away.

We are the nomads happily adding sand to the desert and spitting on the mirages. We are the wanderers burning the map. We are the travelers puncturing our tires and raising our fists in celebration—we have arrived.

You stopped crying when the nurse handed you to mom. Silence overcame our spec of the world as though a ghost had walked through. But this was not the ghost of a departed, rather one of a life yet to be lived.

We are the good guys.