Wednesday, October 31, 2007



Love of each other, love of the fans, fans' love, love of the game, love as one gigantic baseball family - love was the theme of this 2007 team and season... love is what got us here:

...And that is all I have to say. It doesn't feel any less good the second time around, especially with a team like this.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

like "high fidelity" for jocks

Still victory-high from last night. Like Jackie said, "Basically, Josh Beckett can get sex whenever he wants now, huh?"

In other news, Goddamn Maggie linked to a Deadspin post this morning and so help me God, I'm reading again. This is like a relationship of abusive neglect. Christ.

Anyway, that's important because Deadspin's where I picked up this link:

Cleveland Indians' greatest hits, Cleveland Plain-Dealer, 10/2/07

We asked Tribe in-game entertainment manager Annie Merovich to pass along what your American League Central Champion Cleveland Indians (we know, we know; we just like hearing that) want to hear when they step to the plate.

Most of it is fairly predictable rap-metal eardrum-searing shit, but apparently, pitcher Jeremy Sowers enters to Wilco's "Pot Kettle Black." I barely know who Jeremy Sowers is and his picture makes him look like a Victorian poet in the late stages of consumption, but the fact that he enters to a song off Yankee Hotel Foxtrot makes my coal-black indie-bitch heart simply soar. The fact that he actually completed his poli sci degree at Vanderbilt doesn't hurt, either; what can I say, I'm a big snot about higher education.

Anyway, Chickball's way ahead of everyone else, as usual, because Back In The Days Before We Had A Website And Just Talked At Each Other A Lot, everyone had to pick their own personal MLB at-bat song because my sophomore-year AIM away message told them to. The playlist was lost when my old IBM, Screwball, died an inglorious death in December of 2005, but both Pam and Beth picked Cake's "The Distance" off Fashion Nugget. Hey, we have good taste.

A few years ago, some obscure website did a feature on entrance songs around baseball, and I'll always remember that Barry Zito insisted on coming out to Incubus' "Megalomaniac," but only if it was cued up exactly 37 seconds in. I might not have a Cy Young award, but I am arrogantly bizarre, so I've always maintained that my at-bat music would be a minute and four seconds into Ben Folds' "Rockin' the Suburbs," right after the first major percussion crash. But these days, I don't know. I was twenty then, and I'm twenty-two now.* I mean, it's still a good option, but part of me wishes I played right field for the Boston Red Sox just so I could walk into the batter's box to the tune of Bikini Kill's "Strawberry Julius." There's something delightfully perverse about juxtaposing my outer baseball fan and my inner riot grrrl that appeals to me. Plus, if I didn't tell Papelbon that it's part of an overarching latter-day feminist manifesto, he'd probably mosh to it.

It's a delicate balance to strike -- something personal, but something that fires you up simultaneously. You can't go on heart-pumping cardio music alone; otherwise, I'd be entering to the sweet sounds of Electric Six's "Gay Bar," to which I choreograph elaborate dances while enthusiastically cleaning my kitchen. At the same time, I totally agree with Bono that the string arrangement on The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" is fact and proof of angels in Heaven above, but I don't want to be getting emotional goosebumps before I try to crush a Chien-Mien Wang change-up into the bullpen. It's hard, y'all. I totally get why Varitek's been entering to the same shitty Three Doors Down song for, like, seven years now.

That said, I think I've got a Top 5:

"Rockin' the Suburbs," Ben Folds
"Strawberry Julius," Bikini Kill
"Talk to Me, Dance With Me," Hot Hot Heat
"Mass Romantic," The New Pornographers
"Time Running," Tegan and Sara

(Yes, I know I have the musical tastes of a stereotypical thirtysomething lesbian. I am okay with this.)

So how about you, dear readers? What are your batting songs?

* -- everyone who understands this reference gets a weekend pass to Motherboy XXX and a coupon for one free frozen banana

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Thanks for my childhood, Biggio

Craig Biggio played the final game of his 20-year, three-position, 7-time All-Star (at two positions), 4-time Gold Glove, 5-time Silver Slugger, 3000 hit club, first in 8 club records, exclusively Astros career today.

And thus ends my childhood. I know it sounds ridiculous and just plain silly, but Biggio was a huge part of my life for the last 17 years. I started watching baseball because of a set of Mother's Cookies Special Edition Astros Baseball Cards that I won as a prize for good behavior in the second grade. Biggio was one of the cards in that pack. My mom had watched the Tigers with her mom some when she was growing up, and now the tradition was passed on as Astros baseball became a mother-daughter activity in my own home. My mom and I have a lot in common, and she's like my best friend anyway, but that baseball connection definitely only strengthened our relationship. I'll never forget watching all those games with her, and going to games with her, and then the really cool days when it would be "girl's day out" and my grandma, my mom, and I would all get to go to the game.

I went to my first game against the now-defunct Expos in 1992, and Biggio immediately became my favorite player. Even as a seven year old, I could tell that this man played the game right. He ran out everything that hit the bat, he was ready for anything that came at him in the field, and he just projected goodness onto the whole team. I collected every baseball card I could get of him, and my dad's friends sent me cards and memorabilia related to him. I had posters all over my ceiling of Biggio, Biggio, Biggio. I sound like a kid again.

When I started playing softball the following season, Bidge was my role model and inspiration - I modeled my field stance after him, even though I didn't play second base until many years later (and even then for only one season), I asked for #7 for my uniform number every season, and I ran down that first base line like my life depended on it every time. Bagwell was cool too - I modeled my batting stance after him until I realized I was already really short and didn't really need to squat that much, nor did it help me much to do so. But Biggio was my hero. He WAS baseball.

I watched Biggio and the Astros through the rainbow uniforms years, the Astrodome years, , the beginnings of the "Killer B's," the "we can't beat the Braves" years, the '97-'99 division titles, and the Enron Field/Astros Field/Minute Maid Park swaps. I wrote a college essay about/that included Biggio. Then I left the state, but in '04, I failed a couple midterms while living and breathing the Sox and 'Stros at once for the NLCS and ALCS. In '05, I cried for the first time in professional baseball - tears of pure joy - for the look on Biggio's face when they finally got to the World Series.

Today, I cried again. I made certain to glue myself to the downstairs couch in my house today so that I could grab the TV with cable to watch Biggio's final game. Ironically (and thankful, for once, for TBS), it was against the Braves. I sobbed every time the man came up to bat, every time the crowd gave him a full standing ovation, and every time a player hugged him or shook his hand before they left the field. I started flat-out really sobbing when 'Bidge left the field for the final time in the 7th.

He played the game right to the very end. He hit a signature Biggio double to start the game, and he scored in the same inning. He made a sliding play at second. He was wearing his dirtiest of helmets. And he ran out all his balls that didn't end up being hits.

No one else probably cares about this post, because it's not witty, and it's not relevant to a large part of the baseball world, but this is the one place that I could find to express myself with at least some hope that someone might get it. Get that feeling of your entire childhood, flashing before you, living, and breathing, and dying, and loving that player, that team, and that game. There are times when you can't even express it anymore, but you feel it, and you can feel it ripping out your soul while still giving you that same stability and devotion that drew you in as a seven year old kid.

My childhood is over now, and technically (and realistically) has been for more than a couple years. But today was the end of my metaphorical childhood, in that from this day forth, baseball will not be the same for me. I've never had another player that stayed with one team for practically my entire life, and all of my coherant baseball life. I've never loved another player like I loved Biggio, the way he played the game, and the work he did for the community. And I will never be able to dedicate myself to the following of statistics, standings, and the individual watching of games like I could when I was either a kid or in college. The world calls me now, and life calls me now, and although baseball will always be a part (a pretty big part, I would even venture to claim) of my life and my passions, I won't even begin to pretend that it will ever be the same for me again. It's time for other things to matter now. Biggio even managed to show me that, too.

So goodbye, Craig Biggio, #7, Mr. Astro, and Houston's hero. You were my hero, and you will be missed immensely.

There may be no crying in baseball, but there was on your behalf today.

breaking up with a famous blog

Okay, I realize that I'm the sort of woman who looks at everything through cynical eyes, always on the lookout for the sort of endemic cultural misogyny* that makes me roll my eyes, crack my knuckles, and shut the TV off before I throw the remote straight through it. That said, when something draws my ire, I shut my eyes, take a step back, and wonder if I'd be taking as much offense if I hadn't spent four years immersing myself in gender theory monographs and Sleater-Kinney records. I'm perceptive, and I'm opinionated, but I try to pick my battles, y'know?

But this one? I've taken deep breaths. I've paced around my apartment. I've consumed half a mug of herbal tea. I've looked at the clinching-celebration photos of Jonathan Papelbon in his underwear. I've done everything in my power to distract myself, and it ain't working.

Deadspin? We're breaking up.

I've professed my love for Deadspin and the other branches of Gawker Media many times over the last few years. I used to love the weirdly creative blend of snarkery and analysis that seemed to jibe so well with my own perspective on sports fandom. But what's the problem with Deadspin, you may ask? Shit like the entry I've linked to above.

Translation: "Omigod, you guys, I'm just, like, this really complicated girl, and you wouldn't understand that because you aren't me. And that's just who I am. So, like, don't criticize us, because what I have with my teammates is, like, soooo special. I luv u chickas forever! [Amy Grant song lyric snippet]"

Riiiiiiiiight. USA soccer goalie Hope Solo makes a MySpace entry about the brouhaha surrounding her recent benching, and this is what Deadspin turns it into. Sure, everyone, let's infantilize and mock an athlete -- who could probably drop most of the Deadspin bloggers with one kick to the head -- because she expressed her opinion on the internet... wait, just like everyone involved with Deadspin.

Like it or not, MySpace has become a bizarrely viable form of communication between the famous and the anonymous. I cringe at the blinking ads and unexpectedly awful music, but Hope Solo's not the first quasi-national figure to make a statement via MySpace and she won't be the last. It's weird, and I'm not quite sure I like it, but we're gonna have to roll with it.

But at the end of the day, what does this all boil down to? That's right, folks, say it with me: Endemic! Cultural! Misogyny! Within the confines of middle-class America, there's no more difficult place to be a woman than within sports fandom. Men who wouldn't dream of sexually harassing a co-worker will scream at a woman in the stands for not lifting her shirt on command, and -- as we see here -- men who are educated, sensible, and fair-minded will mock, infantilize, and harrass a woman who's apparently done nothing more than dare to play a sport while being female and express an opinion about it.

"But Suzie," you say, rolling your eyes because you've listened to my vitriolic rants against everything from The Parents' Television Council to Axe Body Spray commercials, "she was asking for it! Come on, she talked about a team matter in public! She should be soundly mocked!"

Ahem. How many times have we seen players fighting in the dugout? (Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent on the '01 Giants being the most obvious example, to me.) Players fight with managers, players fight with coaches, players fight with each other -- it all gets media coverage, and most of the time, those involved never say a thing about it, leading to bizarre speculation and trade talk. If you read Hope Solo's MySpace blog, it's a simple thing: she didn't want anyone to think she was taking any shots at her teammates. She tries to properly articulate herself, issues apologies, and generally seems to be trying to act more mature than 95 percent of the athletes we see on ESPN every day.

But of course, none of that matters, you guys. Women are just catty bitches, right? None of them ever mean what they say! Hope Solo's no better than the archetypal (not typical) 14-year-old girl with complicated friendships and an internet connection! All women are the same, don't you know? I mean, we might call Bonds a self-absorbed nutbag, but we never pretend that he's got the same emotional range as a 13-year-old boy, because that would be wrong. Infantilization and patronizing speech is reserved for the women who dare invade the sacred male sanctum of sports fandom, regardless of their capacity as either athletes or fellow fans.

It's hard to be a woman, it's even harder to be a feminist, and it's damn near impossible to be a sports fan, too. I used to love Deadspin, but I'm beginning to see it for what it really is underneath the flashy snark -- the new-school version of the old-boys' club where otherwise respectable men "let down their hair" and allow their inner Neanderthals to crawl out, make blowjob jokes, and hoot at Erin Andrews, while the women involved play by the boys' rules and accept their ordained status as second-class citizens in order to gain acceptance. It's enough to make a girl vom.

So it's going to be hard, but Deadspin's coming off my Bookmarks Bar. I don't know what I'm replacing it with yet -- Surviving Grady? Joy of Sox? Plain ol' ESPN? -- but I just can't read the blog entries and comments anymore. It's a total affront to everything I stand for, as a sports fan and as a woman, and I can't keep on reading these posts every single day and wondering what, exactly, is wrong with me that I don't find racist, misogynist humor funny.

After all, I've never been one of the cool kids. Why start trying to fit in now? And anyway, no one quotes Amy Grant lyrics anymore -- this is not a Tennessee high school circa 1995.

* -- I overuse it, but it describes SO MUCH, you guys

Friday, September 21, 2007

where's our damn record deal?

If blues is the music of pain, then the recent co-opting of Amy Winehouse music by certain Red Sox fans has to fall into that category.

The last single was a collaboration, but credit for this goes to Jackie Chretien alone. By posting it here, I think that makes me her producer or something. (She's the Justin Timberlake to my Timbaland.)

They tried to make me watch the Red Sox, and I said no, no, no /
Yeah, they've been great, but now, as of late, it's been "ohhhh, no. no" /
'Cuz I ain't got the time, and though Tom Caron says they're fine /
If you try to make me watch the Red Sox, I won't go, go, go

I’d rather be back there in May /
At least before the All-Star Break /
'Cuz there’s nothing, nothing you can tell me /
That I can't learn from 1978

Those Yankee fans don't have much class /
And I know they won't be nice as they pass

They’re tryin' to make me watch the Red Sox, I said no, no, no /
Yes I been jacked, but they don't come back, and it blow, blow, blows /
I ain't got the time, and oh, that bullpen's less than fine /
Don't try to make me watch the Red Sox, I won't go, go, go

ESPN said, "Why you think you here?" /
I said, "I got no idea" /
They're gonna, they're gonna lose the division /
So I always keep a bottle near

Said, "I just think you’re depressed" /
Fuck this, these Red Sox /
Let me rest

They're tryin' to make me watch the Red Sox, I said no, no, no /
Yes I have faith, then Gagne blows the eighth, I'm so low, low, low

I don’t ever wanna care again /
I just, oooh, I just need a win /
I'm not gonna watch this week /
Even though we have the D-Rays again

And it’s not just my pride /
It’s just 'til this rage subsides

They tried to make me watch the Red Sox, and I said no, no, no /
Yeah, they've been great, but man, as of late, it's been "ohhhh, no, no" /
'Cuz I ain't got the time /
and though Tom Caron says they're fine /
If you try to make me watch the Red Sox, I won't go, go, go

By the way, if Beckett doesn't win this, I'm breaking up with him and making an effort to find a boyfriend who's more invested in our relationship. And by "more invested in our relationship," I mean both "willing to sacrifice his entire right arm to the Sox cause" and "aware that said relationship exists."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

postgame - cy young shoo-in

TAKE ME, JOSH BECKETT. TAKE ME NOW. I don't care that you spit and that you sneer at everyone and that you're probably a Republican. We'll work it out. Just TAKE ME NOW.

That's all.

Actually, no, it's not.

*as Ross Ohlendorf enters the game*
SUZIE: Ohlendorf... wait a minute.
JULI: What?
SUZIE: Didn't Harry Potter defeat him a few months ago?

Please, kids, feel free to issue the same snicker-groan that Juli did.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

immediate no-no reaction

"Buchholz," an original number by Suzanne Brown and Jacqueline Hendries-Chretien, set to the tune of Amy Winehouse's "Rehab":

They asked me what happened at Fenway, and I said, "No-no, no?"
Yes, I been pissed, but when Markakis missed, I yelled, "Go, go, go!"
The O's didn't get a hit, and thanks to Pedroia's mitt
The rookie pitched like Nolan Ryan with that no-no, no?

I still can't get over Theo chest-bumping and man-groping Jed Hoyer immediately after strike three; Josh Beckett jumping over the dugout barrier and screaming "I'M SO PROUD OF YOU!"; Varitek straight-up lifting the kid like a blushing bride; Buchholz being completely unable to form complete English sentences; and the fact that the kid just pitched a friggin no-hitter in his second major-league game.

(Theo's being interviewed on Extra Innings as I type this, and I think he's kind of drunk, because he's acting like the organization just won an Oscar for this and he's in charge of delivering the acceptance speech. He just tried to name off every person who talked to Clay Buchholz before he was drafted and he definitely said "Ben Cherington" about four times before throwing off about five more names after a long, awkward pause. If he says the word "development" one more time, I'm going to start doing tequila shots. Sorry, Boy Wonder General Manager; you get married to someone who's not me, you lose snark immunity. Them's the breaks.)

...I'll take Buchholz over Joba Chamberlain every day and twice on Sundays. Can't we just sneak him onto the playoff roster, God willing?

Monday, August 20, 2007

well, on saturday, i did my best and swore at him en français


I could lie and say that we were taking a planned break, but really? It was more delayed senioritis than anything else. The five of us have all finished up our last years of undergrad, and have wound up in the Big Bad Real World as scientists, management trainees, publishing professionals, news producers, and -- in one notable case -- a rudderless, scatterbrained legal assistant who careens wildly around downtown Boston and manages to get a stiletto heel caught in a sidewalk grate at least twice a week. One of us has moved across the country, one of us is practically living in Canada, and the rest are scattered in post-college apartments around the Boston area. We're growing up, to be blunt about it, and our responsibilities to the seven people who read us sometimes get left by the wayside.

But enough of that.

SUZIE: I know. I'm the one who told you.
JEFF: Hey, do you know why I'm calling him Gag-Me? It's because he SUCKS! And it makes me want to GAG! Get it? Huh?
SUZIE: Tell me something. When you clean your ears, do you just jam the Q-Tips into the canal and leave them there?

Honestly, I was psyched about the trade, and I'm still not sure it was the shittiest idea in the world. Seriously, you guys, it's like Theo Epstein walked into Best Buy with an empty Coke can and a coupon for $1 off Hot Pockets and came out with a big-screen TV. And even if the TV goes fuzzy every damn time you try to do something really important, like watch your Arrested Development DVDs, you're still only down a Coke can and a coupon, and who knows what the expiration date on that thing is? Damn thing could only be valid on every third Wednesday of the lunar month on Arizona time or something. In other words, you still make that trade Every. Damn. Time.

When that AL East lead gets anorexic, I'll start worrying. For now, I'd suggest that the rest of you back off the ledge of the Zakim -- damn bridge is broken, you know.