Giving Thanks: The National League Central

6 Comments

We’re getting dangerously low on liquor in the Calcaterra house. And my family won’t even be over here for several hours yet.  This could be a problem.

More of what each team has to be thankful for:

Cincinnati Reds: Whatever spirits came to Dusty Baker in the middle of the night last Christmas Eve and convinced him to change his ways. Which must have happened, because neither Mike Leake, Travis Wood nor Aroldis Chapman were abused by Baker. Then, the next morning, he sprung to his window and called for an Intelligent Fine Lad to go straight to the Poulterer’s on the corner and buy the prize turkey hanging in the window.

St. Louis Cardinals: That the star power — Pujols, Holliday, Carpenter, Wainwright — and the youngins’ — Garcia and Rasmus — form the basis of a team that should have no problem contending in 2011. And that whatever freakish stuff caused them to lose tons of games to really bad teams in August and September — while performing admirably against good teams — is likely a rare occurrence. Like Halley’s comment or something.

Milwaukee Brewers: That Doug Melvin admitted during his introductory press conference for new manager Ron Roenicke that the pitching is the problem. You can’t cure yourself until you know what ails you.

Houston Astros: Brad Mills. I don’t know how much credit to give him — maybe he truly has unlocked mysterious secrets and has become the Brett Myers Whisperer — but there certainly is a sense that he’s running a tighter ship.  I still think there are bleak days ahead, but Mills seems better equipped to deal with them than, say, Cecil Cooper was.

Chicago Cubs: The utter shamelessness of their owners. It has already gotten them a new spring training facility. It will likely end up getting them taxpayer-funded renovations to Wrigley Field too. Hey, you never get anything you want unless you ask.

Pittsburgh Pirates: That there is a practical limit to how many games a team can lose. Sure, it’s possible that a club could go 39-123, but the competitive ebb and flow of Major League Baseball caps it, roughly speaking, at 120 losses.

Madison Bumgarner began his rehab assignment yesterday

Getty Images
3 Comments

Giants ace Madison Bumgarner tossed three no-hit innings yesterday in his first minor league rehab start with the Giants’ Arizona Rookie League team. He struck out two and walked a guy, while sitting in the 88-91 m.p.h. range on his fastball.

Bumgarner, who is coming back from a sprained left AC joint in his shoulder suffered in a dirt bike accident in April, will return to San Francisco to throw a bullpen session and then go back on the road for more rehab games. That’s a lot of traveling, but the Giants obviously want to monitor his progress. At the moment he’s expected to build up his strength for the next several weeks and, hopefully, return to the Giants’ rotation some time after the All-Star break.

Of course, there shouldn’t be too much of a rush. The Giants have lost five in a row and 12 of 13 and currently sit in last place, 24.5 games behind the Dodgers. At this point Bumgarner rushing to rejoin the Giants is like an Australian soldier getting a wound dressed to hurry back to the Gallipoli Campaign.

Is it really that weird that Cody Bellinger does not know who Jerry Seinfeld is?

Getty Images
26 Comments

Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger has been tearing through the league so far this season, blazing a 50-home run pace despite not even making his debut until April 25. His Dodgers are winners of 10 games in a row, sit in first place and have the best record in the National League.

But not everything is rosy in Cody Bellinger land. He’s now at the center of controversy after he revealed on SportsCenter on Friday night that he doesn’t know who Jerry Seinfeld is. Or, at the very least, that he could not put a face with that familiar-sounding name and that in no event did he know why he was famous.

People have been going crazy with this, acting as if he’s from Mars or something for not knowing who starred in one of history’s most popular and influential sitcoms. His teammates, especially, have been getting on his case:

I dunno. On the one hand, sure, the show was amazingly popular and has been in heavy syndication for like 20 years so it would be hard to miss even for a young guy like Bellinger. And, of course, the catchphrases and bits of the show that has seeped into the popular culture have given it a longer shelf life than most TV shows ever manage.

On the other hand the thing ended when he was not yet three years old. For him, “Seinfeld” was like “The Beverly Hillbillies” for someone my age or “M*A*S*H” for someone born in the early 80s. Those shows were just as popular — actually, they got higher ratings and were seen by a larger percentage of the population than “Seinfeld” ever was — and they were just as heavily syndicated for the decade or two after they went off the air. We don’t get on the case of players born in the 70s or 80s for not knowing who Alan Alda or Buddy Ebsen are. And if it’s about the catchphrases, substitute in “Happy Days” and “Welcome Back Kotter,” each of which created a cultural footprint larger than the show itself. Would we freak out if we found out that Jayson Werth — born in 1979 — had never heard the phrase “Up your nose with a rubber hose” or “Sit on it?”

And that’s before you acknowledge how much more fragmented pop culture and entertainment is now. I was 12 in 1985 and back then I had little choice but to watch “M*A*S*H” reruns at 7pm while I was waiting for prime time. It was either that or “Wheel of Fortune” I guess. As a 12-year old in 2007, Bellinger could’ve easily avoided “Seinfeld” reruns. He could’ve avoided TV altogether and just been online. My son is 12 now and he hasn’t watched an actual TV show in years. It’s all You Tube and stuff. The idea that there is any one thing or even a handful of things that, culturally speaking, we can all agree upon or which can serve as a common touchstone is an increasingly obsolete idea.

Maybe “Seinfeld” is different. Maybe this is not the same as not knowing “The Beverly Hillbillies” or “M*A*S*H”. I floated this whole idea on Twitter yesterday and people were outraged, so perhaps something else is going on here that I’m missing. But personally speaking, I feel like we should all calm down a bit about Cody Bellinger and the “Seinfeld” thing. Maybe we should acknowledge that the stuff we like is not going to be culturally prevalent forever. And that young kids like Cody Bellinger are going to be the ones to inform us of this inescapable fact.