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Friday, March 22, 2013

Choosing My Religion. Melvin on Theology

So here we all floating around the universe on what is basically a big blue ball and we all have pretty much one thing in common. We have no fucking clue. Why are we here? How did we get here? What is the meaning of it all? We have no fucking clue. We go through our lives day by day and we have no clue what it all means. Some will tell you with great conviction that they know all the hows and whys of human existence. They don’t. They, like all the rest of us, have no fucking clue.

There all kinds of theories and stories about how we got here. The people of the book, Christians, Jews and Muslims, believe God created the heavens and earth and made man in his own image. Muslims of course have named God Allah while Jews and Christians prefer just the title itself. According to the Hindus we are the creation of a bored lonely god by the name of Brahma. Brahma apparently creates many worlds all the time only to have them destroyed by his alter ego, Lord Shiva. The ancient Greeks though that out of Chaos game Chai who created and copulated with Uranus to spawn a legion of Gods who eventually created we lowly humans as their playthings. There are many stories as to how we got here and all were made up to cover one important fact. We have no fucking clue.

Scientists have a pretty elegant theory to explain it all. The big bang happened and then eventually life evolved into where we are now. There is probably a lot of truth in their theories but there are some things science has not been able to explain. What preceded the big bang and where did the elements that collided and set off the bang come from. What force provided the first spark of life to that first amoeba or whatever it was that first slithered? The math of the big bang and science of evolution are elegant and sensible. They cover up for one important fact. In spite of some seriously well educated guesses, they have no fucking clue.

The meaning of it all is even tougher for most of us. It would be nice to think there was some point to all this. We are born, we live, we die and search for some meaning it to all. Along the way we live, we love, we struggle, we succeed, we have kids, fall in and out of love a few times, we screw, we bleed, we shit, we cry and then it is over. Is our purpose just the propagation and continuance of the species? Is this all just some way station in the path of evolution? Are we supposed to be loving and serving some harsh man who lives in the sky?

This is a question that has troubled man for as long as he has existed. The early Greeks argued endlessly about the meaning of it all, giving birth to the field of philosophy to the horror of undergrads everywhere. Plato and Aristotle thought the meaning of life was to use knowledge to attain a state of being good. Epicurus believed that it was all about using simple and modest pleasure to achieve freedom from fear and a sound body. The Stoics decided that controlling ones harmful emotions and using reason to improve the stat of ones should gave meaning to it all. While they all have excellent points in their reasoning the underlying truth once again is that they have no fucking clue.

Naturally religions have taken a shot at the whole meaning of it all question. Christians believe that our purpose is to glorify and serve God in the form of Jesus. Muslims think that we are here to serve Allah by following the rules laid out in the Koran. The Jews think that we are here to elevate life and connect with God. Hindus think we are here to uncover fundamental truths about ourselves and move onto our next form. The central idea of Buddhism is that we are here to suffer until we can achieve the state of Nirvana.  Again they all have some merit and are worthy of thought but the central truth applies. No matter how pretty or comforting the story the truth is that they have no fucking clue.

Some believe life has no meaning and this is all one grand cosmic accident without meaning or purpose. Douglass Adams tells us in his great Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy that the answer to the question is 42. Others say our purpose is evolve and be part of the continual chain of creation and being. Robert Louis Stevenson once said that the whole purpose of life was to become what we are capable of becoming. Other will tell you that life is all about accumulating possessions giving rise to the adage that he who dies with the most toys win. For the great philosopher Snoopy live is all about dancing. Again there is much food for thought here but I suspect only Snoopy is correct. The rest have no fucking clue.

We are born and we die. In between all sorts of things happen to us. Some are wondrous. Some are horrible. There is joy. There are tears. We all, some of us desperately want to think there is some grand meaning and purpose to it. There may be but we will not know it until the end if at all. Some force or being created us and breathed the spark we call life into us. I don’t know if it was a little old man who sits in the sky, a six legged snake charmer or an accident of physics and biology. Neither do you. Nor does anyone else have anything definitive on the subject. There are some pretty cure theories and ideas but the truth is that even while we search for the meaning of it all at the end of the day we simply have no fucking clue.

This does not mean that your life is without meaning to you or mine to me. It is possible to get so caught up in worrying about the meaning of it all to miss what life actually is and can be. I also see people get so caught up in the day to day mundane slogging that can occupy so much of our lives that they miss the simple fact that life is actually pretty fucking cool. We are here. We have no idea how, why or what is next. Life has some pretty damn magical moments and experiences to enjoy. I think we are all better off if we accept the fact that we indeed have absolutely no fucking clue and just enjoy the ride that is life.

Religion seems a natural path to follow in trying to make some sense of it. At its heart religion is just an attempt to understand who we are and what we are doing here. We look for the answers from whatever version of God happens to be in vogue in our corner of the world. Many of us will try several religions over life time trying them on and discarding like shoe shopping. It would seem if we could just understand who God is and what he expects of us this whole mess would make more sense. Maybe if we understood our relationship with God and out place in the universe we could find some happiness.

The problem with that is we cannot. God is not knowable in the sense we want Her to be. If there is a God , an all knowing and all understanding creator of the universe, He is beyond our scope of understanding. God is just too big for our little minds to wrap itself around. If God really is everything there is no chance we can understand God. Most of us don’t even understand how to program a VCR but we claim to understand God? There truth is that we can believe, we can hope, we can contemplate but at the end of the day when it comes to God we have no fucking clue.

Our attempts to understand God have lead us to make some horrific mistakes along the way. Religions start with an attempt to understand God and end up as something else altogether. As the stories and concepts of God spread folks join up to give the new religion a try. An infrastructure begins to form to spread the new gospel. The leaders of the church quickly figure out two things. First there is a buck or two to be made here. If people think they are giving money to God they tend to be generous. Since god has no need for cash, the leaders end up deciding what to do with the donations of the faithful. Shockingly throughout history the choice has been to keep a whole bunch of it for themselves. The heads of almost all the Worlds religions live in pretty nice pads and want for little or nothing.

The next thing they figure out is that now that they have a group of followers they can use the religion to influence and control the population. I have no doubt that all of these efforts started out with the best of intentions. Divorce is not good for families so let’s pass a law against that in our new religion. Drunk people aren’t very productive and cause a lot of damage in the community so let’s pass a rule against that. Loose women can cause havoc and wreck homes so better have a rule about that as well. If we are going to really help our followers we need to know what is going on with them and where they are falling short. Better make them confess their sins every week so we know how to help them find our new and improved version of God. While we are at it my cousin says the fishing business really sucks this summer. Can we throw something in about not eating meat one day a week? It becomes too easy to make up new rules and interpret old collections of fable and parables in a manner that influences people to behave as the leaders with in order to find God ( I do not claim to have a in depth understanding of God but whatever or whoever She is I am pretty sure She is not lost). 

I have spent a fair amount of time of late thinking about religion. Much of this is sparked by the recent Muslim riots and calls for laws preventing defaming the prophet of their faith. I am not on a first name basis with God but I am pretty sure that no god meant for this be the central faith of the world. I keep hearing from moderate Muslims that Islam is the religion of peace. Excuse me but I sure as shit do not see it. In the parts of the world where Islam holds sway I see violence, ignorance, subjection of women, illiteracy and pure hatred of everyone who does think like the local mullah. This is all blamed on the small percentage of Muslims that are extremists. Forgive me but I do not see anyone who claims to be a moderate peace loving Muslim condemning them or helping to eradicate the so called extremists. Furthermore I have read your books of faith and they seem pretty damn violent to me. I view Islam as serious threat to a peaceful world and cannot fathom how intelligent people can follow such a hate filled and violent faith.  The religion itself strikes me as extreme and harmful to its followers to say nothing of those they would convert at the point of the sword.

The other train of thought is aimed at those who would call themselves Christians, especially those of the conservative version of the faith. For a group whose God gave you the commandment to love one another you sure seem to hate a lot of people. You invent and spin texts to prove that it is right and just to hate everyone who does not share your view of the world. Rather than love, you loathe those who thinks differently than you . You hate gays, women who want to make their own choices in life, doctors who make what they considered to be the most humane decisions, politicians who do not vote the way you want, and pretty much anyone who does not think exactly as you do.  You encourage ignorance and ignore science and discovery. You think we should base our government and society on your narrow minded beliefs. You do not like abortion but think the death penalty is A-okay. All of which given the commandments to love one another and judge not lest ye be judged is pretty suspect.  To say nothing of the central doctrine of forgiving others as God has forgiven you. Not a shit ton of difference between and your narrow minded Muslim Brothers of the book.

I think a lot about Jesus’ statements about money changers and his idea of selling all that you have, give to the poor and follow him. I drive around town, the state, the country and I am in absolute fucking awe of the amount of prime property owned by churches. Then I contemplate how much money pours into the offering baskets every Sunday and I think I have a way to solve many of our social ills. If you sold the trillions of dollars’ worth of property and devoted the tens of billions thrown in the basket every Sunday how many schools could be built? How many people could be fed? How many micro loans could be funded to create small businesses and jobs? How serious are you about this whole love one another thing? Love one another, feed the poor, and forgive. You Christian folks should actually try this shit sometime instead of building impressive edifices from which you may judge and hate the rest of humanity. 

When a religion is big enough to have temples and building along with a seven figure weekly income it is no longer at attempt to find God. It is a business and means of social control. When a religious committee is formed to discuss the meaning of it all what it usually means is they have a new set of rules that someone wants you to follow. If you have canon lawyers and Torah scholars your religion is too complicated to have a hell of a lot to do with God. I just cannot fathom that God would be so petty as to care how you washed your vegetables or your masturbation habit. Something as big as God could not possibly be that petty.

What is interesting to me is that pretty much every religion will tell you that they and they alone have figured it out. They know who God is and everyone else is wrong. How incredibly arrogant for anyone to assume that they and they alone understand the desire, purpose and nature of omniscient omnipotent being? Remember the movie “Oh God”where when asked which religion is right George Burns in the role of the deity said “ I think they are all kind of cute”? How do we know God did not just present Himself to different groups of people in a form and format that would be understandable to acceptable to the various cultures He had created?  Odds are very high that if some unseen being is whispering the secrets of the universe in your ear it is not God. You are schizophrenic. I reiterate my main point. You can guess, you can hope you can even believe but the truth is you have no fucking clue.

I am pretty sure there is a god or universal power. Perhaps this deity did not create us individually but merely allowed the mathematics to develop that allowed us to exist. Maybe He or She was simply bored and created us a celestial comedy channel. But a look around at the world in which we live in convinces me that there is a God that created us and gave us a world of wonderful things to appreciate and enjoy. I think that any God that gave us love, music, literature, sex, sunsets, beaches, mountains, sunshine, rainy days and baseball is going to be highly pissed off when you present yourself afterwards and tell her that you eschewed all that good stuff in hopes you could cut a better deal later.

 You are born into a world of sunny days, glorious oceans, serene lakes, first kisses, 10,000th kisses, the smell of a newborn, the laughter of a child and the love of a parent. To ignore all this is a sin. Along the way you have good cigars, wine, friends, gin and tonic, Miles Davis, Mickey Mantle, Beethoven, Twain, sweaty sex, sleeping in, lazy dogs and long walks at twilight. To spend your days inside a sterile man made building exploring ancient texts for a justification for your prejudices and bargaining with God for a better life banging 72 virgins or playing harp on a cloud seems foolish and downright disrespectful to the god who gave you such blessings.

I have talked about this before but we need a new religion. One that more to do with love, music, books, wines and perhaps baseball. It need to be a religion that embraces sex, and kisses and if not kindness at least a philosophy of leaving each other the fuck alone. We need to embrace the fact that we have no fucking clue who god is or what She wants and enjoy what we have here without fucking up anyone elses life any more than comes natural.  

Let’s start by taking a look at some of the basic tents of our new church. I will start by saying that if you have faith and it fits you and you are happy with your life, I salute you. I am not trying  to change anybody’s mind about anything that makes them happy. I have a few friends who are deeply religious and lead good solid lives and seem to be very happy individuals. To them I say Shalom, Agape and everything in between. If it works don’t fix it.

But that’s not usually the case is it? Most of the really religious people I meet are uptight unhappy assholes who could benefit from an enema and a good blowjob. They do not seem to be for anything except tithing money to the church. They are against everything that makes life even marginally enjoyable for most of us mere mortal. Religions are against drinking, dancing, consensual sex, gay sex, gay marriage,  couples living together without benefit of marriage, coffee, tea, cigarettes, modern music, any music that doesn’t mention Jesus in every verse, blacks, whites, women, and trimming your beard. If you can think of it there is a religion somewhere that is against it and thinks you will spend a lifetime in hell because of it. I really do not want to spend my life being against everything.

  I have had my flirtations with religion. I started out in life a catholic and after my parents’ divorce Mom exchanged some choice words with the local priest over status and left the church. She drug us to the Methodist Church for several years and I have some good memories of that time. It was a great youth oriented church and I still have friends from those times. However as a church itself the Methodists area a pretty boring bunch and it functions very much like the multi-billion dollar corporation it is. It didn’t really matter because shortly past puberty I discovered beer, vagina and general thuggery so the Methodists and I parted company.

I came back to the Catholic Church in my late 30s when I was going through a rough spot in my life. I was going through a divorce and looking for some meaning to it all. I didn’t really find it. There is much to like about the Catholic Church with its history and traditions. At its very heart it is based on a forgiving God who loves his creations. However the Catholics are the poster child for adding man made rules to the basics and being against everything. When they Church tried to defend the pedophilia crisis I was done with them. We went for a bit when it was time for my stepdaughters First Communion but once she accomplished that task of indoctrination we were done. On top of everything else Mass has gone from a great theatrical tradition to a boring ceremony not that different from the Methodists. I never thought it possible but the music is worse than the Episcopalians and other hybrid high white religions.

This is not to say I do not believe in God. In my own way I do. There is so much order and perfection in the world that there has to be a creator. There are just enough miracles to sustain my belief that there is some sort of deity that created this circus. If you can walk the shoreline as the waves roll in and out in an endless dance of motion and beauty and still deny there is a God you think very differently than I . If you can watch the birth of a child and deny a deity you are looking at things far too rationally. Sure it is evolution and biology but it is too perfect in design and implementation to be a grand cosmic accident. Someone or something had a hand in this thing.

Maybe God is just math. After all math explains almost everything and can be used to solve just about every problem known to man. Math is elegant and versatile. It was Pythagoras himself who pointed out thousands of years ago that numbers are everything and rule everything. Math explains much of life and can be used to conquer much of life’s difficulties. I could totally buy that God is pure math expect for one tickling little question. Who created the elegant perfection which is math?

For my own reasons I believe there is a God. I am not however arrogant enough to think I know her name or what She expects of me. God does not speak to me, and with the exception of that one peyote incident I have never had an in depth conversation with Him. I do not think God is going to hand pick the lottery numbers or guide my favorite football team to victory. Likewise God has kept his hand of baseball since Koufax retired I am clueless about God does all day or who his friends are. I have no idea why bad things happen to good people or good things happen to bad people. My best guess is that God created us, gave us life and left us to our own devices for much of this life.

Here is where I think most religions screw the proverbial pooch. Just about every major religion has its heart a philosophy of following the rules in this life to attain a better deal in the next life. We either sacrifice everything may be the tiniest bit enjoyable while we are here so we can be happy in the afterlife or sacrifice ourselves to get a better reincarnation. To hear the major religions tell the story all the really good stuff about life is one giant temptation that must be avoided in order to attain some happiness in your next life.

If we put a kid in a room full of cookies, candy and ponies and smacked the shit out of them every time they tried to enjoy them we would be guilty of child abuse. Let these learned individuals would have us believe that this is exactly what their so called loving God has done. Here we have this vast landscape of sensual pleasures and intellectual delights at every turn but we should avoid these at all costs so as not burn in the fires of hell or come back as a Steelers fan or someone other lower life form. No sex except for procreation and do your best not to enjoy it. No drinking to excess no matter how much fun it is. Put down those Volumes of Galton and Darwin and quit trying to understand how it all works. Cover the breathtakingly beautiful female form in a burlap sack. Turn down the heathenistic  Jazz and Rock and Roll. Keep your eyes in the gutter focused on your sinful deplorable nature and do not gaze skyward to take in the beauty of the stars. Read these books of fables, parables and stories instead of science, poetry and literature. If it feels good stop it. You will be rewarded in some uncertain fashion at some uncertain moment in time after you are dead.

If this is in fact the case then God is one cruel SOB. To create so beautiful and wonderful a world with so many mysteries and lengths and then deny enjoyment and exploration of them would be just flat mean spirited.  Something as magnificent an actual God could not possibly be this petty.

I think the religions with all their rules and sacrifice have gotten all this dead wrong. Whatever God created us GAVE is all this good shit specifically to enjoy.  Here you are and here it is. You can explore the mysteries of the universe like a little boy in the woods behind the house. You can indeed eat, drink and be merry. You can fall in love, you can dance until dawn to this really great shit I made for you called music. You can sleep in on a rainy Sunday and be drowsily aware of the wonder that is life. You can make love in languorous fashion and have wild monkey sex as suits your mood. You can create, you can enjoy you can learn and you can feel all the wonders that is life. Once in a while I’ll send along a sunset, a rainbow or even a wild ass thunderstorm for your enjoyment. This place, this home called Earth that I have given you is full of wonder and beauty and is yours to enjoy. I have given you a brain that is capable of wondrous and incredible achievements and it is yours to use. I have given you bodies that help you not only achieve your needs but can experience intense pleasure form food, from drink and even from the touch of each other. I have given you feelings so that you may know joy and happiness, and even to know sadness as that makes the others even sweeter in comparison. There are games to play, books to read, music to hear, knowledge to share and mysteries to explore. It is all here and it is all yours. I will not tell you what, if anything, is next but I have laid before you a magical world, a place where you may enjoy the life I have given you and the pleasures and happiness to which you entitled by being alive.

My view can’t explain away the bad shit that happens any more than the devout religionists can. The natural world can cause disasters and tragedies as well know and perhaps even God in all His power cannot escape physics or math and natural disasters are just part of the equation of life. Much of the truly bad shit we see is the result of bad choices by us, or attempts to force our will on other or take from them what is theirs. A lot of it is caused by us trying to force someone else to accept our view of the world and even of God himself. I do not know why bad shit happens. I Know that it does. I also know that if we take the time to look around and enjoy all that life can offer there is far more good shit than bad.

I have a suspicion that those who preach avoidance and abstinence may have some explaining to do when they approach that heavenly judgment. I can just here a kind and living God asking for an explanation. “I sent you two tickets to the seventh game of the World Series and you threw them out and instead went to some big old sterile building and sat around listening to bad music and apologizing for feeling urges I gave you?” You made your kids listen to the sappy serenades of Pat Boone instead of dancing with wild abandon to the Rolling Stones?”” I gave you a partner to love and enjoy and you spent your life either avoiding or apologizing for being intimate with each other.” Did you really spend your life criticizing and condemning others for enjoying what I created instead of seeing to your own joy and the happiness of your children?” “I sent you books that could inspire, entertain, teach, and you refused to read them because someone told you they were naughty and evil?” If your religion is based on denial, sacrifice and the condemnation of others I suspect you better hope there is no judgment day. Hell hath no fury like a deity spurned.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Baseball Predictions AL Edition

Lets move on now to the American League. I have deeper connection to the AL since I grew up watching primarily AL teams. I profess my love for the DH but I do kind of miss the ability to ploink an opposing pitcher who has been showing intentional lack of control.  I grew up on Earl Weavers pitching, defense and three run homers and that is American League baseball in my opinion. We will start out West and work our way back.


The Angels’ have the talent to give the Nats a run for best in baseball honors. Texas enters the post Hamilton era and they should get a bite in the ass from the karma Gods for their treatment of Nolan Ryan. There are some good ball clubs out West that don’t get the attention they deserve because of the late start of the games. It takes a touch of insomnia to watch the West Coast games and since I got married I no long sit up all hours with a clicker and a bottle of scotch to watch them all. I probably picked a good time to stop as I do not think this division will be even remotely close. In order of predicted finish here we go

Los Angeles Angels

The middle of this line up has the potential to be a boon for sales at Fruit of the Loom. A lot of pitchers are just going to simply shit themselves if they have to face Hamilton, Trout, Pujols with the game in the balance. Even if you get one of them out you still have to hold it together because 5 hitter Mark Trumbo can make you look pretty stupid as well. If Hamilton stays healthy and Pujols returns entirely to form then they are a serious threat to score 850 runs and just walk away with the division wrapping up the title sometime in late August. They hit 200 home runs as a team last year and could surpass that by 40 or more with the addition of Hamilton and continued improvement by Trout and Trumbo.

The pitching staff is not chopped liver either. Weaver may have slipped a little in arm speed but he is just 30 and won 20 games last year with nasty stuff. CJ Wilson should improve on last years 13 wins with a sub 4 ERA as this team should come exceed 5 runs a game on average. With the chips cleaned out of the elbow he should be a better pitcher this year. Blanton is an innings eater and if he can drop his ERA just a touch will have a solid 15 win or more season . Tommy Hanson is the question mark for the rotation. If he avoids injury and begins living up to his potential this goes form a good rotation to a great one. The bullpen is a potential weak spot but with this offense they may have enough runs to put a patch on the pen.

They have a crappy draw in interleague play. They open in interleague, something that I think should lead to the viscous beating of Bud and his staff with aluminum bats, with a series at the talented and more comfortable in the cold Cincinnati Reds. Their 4 game series with the Dodgers in May has the potential to be some seriously great baseball and is guaranteed to piss my wife off because I intend to watch them from first pitch to final out.

This is a damn good team. No one wants to play these guys. The geeks and degenerates have them at 93 wins but I think they are a little low.

Oakland As

I have a history with the As. I remember the Billy ball teams that were just so damn good and so much fun to watch. As a smallish big mouthed hard drinker myself I have much admiration for Billy Martin and think his Oakland As teams was his best. Before that Charlie Finlay made baseball fun and they had guys like Reggie, Rollie and Catfish running around with huge staches and mutton chops with hair down to their collar. They could play and they were fun to watch as long as they were not playing the Orioles. Even though the Bash Brothers are now widely defamed admit it. You fucking watched them and you loved it.

Although Billy Beane may not really look like Brad Pitt he has put together another squad that can win some baseball games. Cespada is the real deal and will be better this year. After a year around the   league and a hopefully improved Brandon Moss hitting behind him I think we could see.300 plus and 35 long balls.

The rotation is fairly young at least until Colon is done his suspension. They performed well last year and could be improved this year. The bullpen is strong with good young arms so hopefully injuries won’t be an issue and the get the type of performance they had last year when they threw 454 innings with a 2.93 ERA. This team will prove the doubters wrong again this year under the tutelage of veteran baseball man Bob Melvin. 

The protractor set and the lose the rent gang have them at 85 games. I think they get closer to 90 again this year.

Texas Rangers

My Texas born wife and in laws aren’t going to like this pick much but if I could justify it I would pick them last in the league. They are a little too talented for that but I hope that Karma treats them like a Justin Bieber lookalike upon arrival to C block in Folsom Prison. With Ryan running the baseball side of things this team has not had a losing season, won more than 90 3 times and been to the World Series twice. Whoever takes over for him is going to be the Bobby Grich and Charlie Hayes of baseball operations personnel. To suggest one of the game’s best players with a record of winning management needs a new lesser role with the team is fucking with karma and I am hoping Karma fucks back.

Beltran and Darvish are two reasons that the Rangers may be given a chance to fight back against karma but the bullpen is already suffering from injuries and beyond Darvish the pitching is good but not great. The bean counters and dice rollers are saying 86 wins but I am going to lower them to 80 and a losing season courtesy of karma and the Oakland As. An Interleague schedule featuring Cincinnati and St Louis doesn’t help their case much.

Seattle Mariners

I don’t know why I have never been able to get into the Mariners. Its not the city. I love Seattle and have friends there. It’s not the quality if baseball in team history as they have had some great years and  some incredible talent has passed though the organization like Ken Griffey Jr and Randy Johnson. Felix Hernandez is one of the best pitchers in the game right now. I don’t know why but I have just never been able to summon up much enthusiasm for this team.

Maybe it’s the whole grunge thing and affluent kids paying $200 for pre ripped jeans and pre soiled tee shirt and the hideous fucking noise they tried to pass off as music. Maybe it’s the name. I mean Mariners is not very exciting is it? Just a bunch of guys sailing around doing Mariner stuff. Maybe they should have gone with the Seattle Guys with really cool boats with big fucking cannons and swords and shit baseball club. Or maybe just the Seattle Clippers or Battleships. Something more interesting than Mariners. Whatever the reason I am pretty sure that the break from insomnia and scotch fueled late night baseball marathons when the Mariners were on against anybody but the Orioles is one of the chief reasons I still have a liver.

They moved the fences in but since they don’t have anybody that actually hit the damn ball besides Morales and Ibanez during his occasional hot streak it wont matter. Fernandez will sparkle, the rest of the rotation will struggle and the bullpen will flat out suck. They don’t come close to the 74 win projections by the green shade set and struggle to win 70

Houston Astros
Welcome to the American League. This is going to hurt. A Lot. Not going to win 50 games Bo Porter preseason favorite for largest bar bill with no relief of ongoing pain among all active managers award

This division could be closer than some think. Yes the Tigers will probably win the thing but Chicago usually finds a way to hang around and keep it interesting. Cleveland could just flat surprise the shit out of everybody as could Kansas City. Not the Twins however. They just suck at this game.

Detroit Tigers

They have the best pitcher and the best hitter in the game.  Tori Hunter and Prince Fielder are exactly chopped liver either as far as getting on base and driving in runs. Victor Martinez should be back and contributing at the plate this year. This is a potent offense that if healthy all year will pile up some runs and make it easy for the talented pitching staff to pile up some stats.

It is hard to begrudge Detroit some success. The city has turned into the shithole poster child for the economic crisis and its a long way back from the hole they fell into. Having the Tigers playing res baseball can help take your mind off the fact that the home you paid 150k for is now worth $19.95 for a few hours.
Then accountants and poker players have them at 89 wins. If they stay healthy I think that’s about right.

Cleveland Indians

As I said this team is going to surprise some folks this year. I have a soft spot for the Indians as they were the first team I ever watched play the Orioles in my first major league game. It was 1969 , Palmer beat Tiant, Andy Etchebarren hit a home run and Ken “the Hawk” Harrelson, the bane of every little league coach everywhere, made a running basket catch to rob Paul Blair of a certain double. Everyone remembers their first girl their first scotch and their first big league ball game and as a result I have a certain nostalgic fondness for the Indians. That and this is a city that sat their lake on fire on the 70s and dint blink and dresses like over-sized puppy dogs to watch football games in the snow. These are some tough SOBS in Cleveland.

The team made the additions they need to win. Swisher is a solid hitter and Mark Reynolds maybe streaky but when he gets hot it’s a thing of beauty. He may not hit much but when he does hit they stay hit. He also walks a lot and has a respectable .320 on base percentage for a guy that threatens to break the SO record every year. Bourne adds defense and speed tow necessary components of a winning team.

The pitching staff is the  big question mark but if they pull it together and Masterson and Jiminez cut down the mistakes this team contends. They have some talent in the minors that could come out later in the year to bolster the rotation.

Terry Francona is the most important addition. He wants to win, prove the Red Sox wrong and get another really good book deal. To do that he needs to exceed the pundits and pawnbrokers estimate of 76 wins and I think he does it.

Chicago White Sox

The Sox can be competitive but there’s a lot that can go wrong for this team. This being baseball if it can wrong it usually will at some point during the season. I love the Robin Ventura story but after Chris Sale throws the next 4 outings look a little iffy to me. Dunn is unpredictable but even he gets his 40 the team will struggle to get runners in front of him. Konerko is getting to that age where it is tough to go a whole year without an injury no matter how solid the skill set is. The team lives and dies n the long ball and I think production falls off substantially this year.

The adding machines and slots players have them at 85 wins but I think they got some medical mary jane in their machines. The Sox struggle to stay even and win less than 80 games this year.

Kansas City Royals

The Royals are like the economy. They are better but still a year or so away from being really good. They may be good enough to surpass the White Sox but that will depend on Homser and Moustakas playing one heel of a lot better than they did last year. Butler will collect his hits and Gordon is as steady a player as you will finds in the league but is just not enough to turn the corner. Shields is a great addition to the staff but its not exactly a world beater of a rotation once he sits down. If they can get a lead the bullpen can probably hold it but getting a lead will be a problem much of the year.

On the upside this is a young team and will continue to move up the division but unless it goes really bad for the Sox and Cleveland doesn’t jell the way I expect this is not the year.

The cold blooded counters and hot money plungers have them at 77 games. I think that’s about right.

Minnesota Twins

I have nothing against the Twins. They have been a great franchise over the decades and produced some solid ballplayers. Hell five years Mauer and Morneau would have been part of mist dream lineups.Now they are just some older guys who never really hit their full potential as major leaguers. I have spent a lot of time with a family member of one of the former owners of the club doing some serious drinking, boating and talking baseball.  I have nothing against the Twins and wish team the very best in 2013

But holy fuck this is a really bad baseball team.


 This is the tough one for me because I naturally want to pick the Orioles to win the division by 162 games and the scum sucking rat bastard red Sox to finish 162 back in the loss column That’s not going to happen so I have to apply a little realism to the matter. Not much bit a little. This could be a really tight race and my top three picks could be separated by just a game or two as we go into September.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays are the least appreciated team in all of baseball. If they could get out of the contract in St Pete and move the team east along I4 they would be a blockbuster in attendance but there is no sign of that happening. The wins to fans in attendance ratio has to be among the lowest in baseball history.

Shields in gone to Kansas City but they pitching staff is still one of the best in the game. David Price is a Cy Young contender every season he walks out to the mound. Hellickson had one of the lowest ERAs in the league while pitching 177 innings. He was a little snake bit in close games this year and should post a much stronger record this year. Matt Moore should improve this year and lower his walk rate adding to his win total as well. Alex Cobb is having a strong spring and should hold up his end of the pitching cycle.

The offense looks solid as well. Longoria is back and looking healthy so that should add some run production. A healthy Luke Scott is good for some long balls and RBIs as well. James Loney should benefit from being away from Dodger stadium as he hits well everywhere but Chavez Ravine. Desmond Jennings should rebound forma sophomore slump and be a quality leadoff hitter n 2103. Of course there is always a chance we see phenom Wil Myers bring his hitting talents up to the big leaguers and add some additional pop to the lineup.

I will see a lot of Rays games this year as my local cable carries the team and will no doubt venture over to the Trop a time or two but I will be one of the few doing so. It’s a shame because this is a damn good baseball team. The should surpass the suits and zoots estimate of 89 and win in the low 90s this year.

Baltimore Orioles

This is a tough pick for me to make as I am clearly influenced by my love of the team. However if this team stays healthy they will be right in the thick of this things. I know they won a lot of one run games last year and that probably will not be repeated. But they also did not have Roberts, Markakis or Reimold in the lineup for huge parts of the year and that could more than take up the slack if those three guys play all year. If Brian Roberts is really back then the team contends for a title. Jones is a legitimate star, hardy is a decent shortstop with pop in the bat and Chris Davis has the potential to be monster bat over at first base. Weiters is killing the ball in spring training and is one of the best defensive catchers in the game. If Manny Machado matures into what we hope he will this is a very solid baseball team with the potential to make the playoffs again this year.

Pitching is a little suspect but Chen and Hammel at the top of the rotation should be consistent. Arrieta looks to be much improved as does Matuz. Keep in mind we also have Bundy and Glausman both chomping at the bits to get up to the majors. The bullpen was one of the reasons the orioles won so many one run games last year and I think they will be again. I see no drop off there.

We also have Buck Showalter and a solid cohesive locker room going for us. So fuck the experts and their 79 games. The Birds win 90.

Toronto Blue Jays

A lot of people are picking the Blue Jays to win the division because they made so many improvements. It is possible but when I run the numbers they have improved a lot but from a very low base. The all-stars they added give them another 10 to 15 wins and that’s not going to be enough. It’s also worth keeping in mind that many of these guys played together in Miami last year and flat out sucked. If they can get the chemistry and locker room together they may make a better run than I expect but that’s a lot ego and tax brackets in one room.

If they put it all together they will be tough. They have the guys to get on and the guys to knock them in. However beyond Reyes there’s not a lot of great defense behind the pitchers and that could cost them some runs. If you can get to the bullpen early with this team you can beat them most of the time. They improved but there’s a lot of holes in this team the experts are not talking about.

The experts have them at 87 and that about right but not enough to win this division.

New York Yankees

I hate picking the Yankees down here. Unlike many other Baltimore fans I am not a Yankees hater. I would love to have a pennant race with the New Yorkers every year. If they make into the playoffs and we don’t not I rot for them. The evil empire is good for baseball. This is the team that has given us Ruth, Maris, Gehrig, Mantle Ford and countless other stars. A-Rod may be a shithead but Derek Jeter has not only been a real talent but a real gentleman since the first time he took the field. Mariano is a legend and just fun to watch. I wish they Yanks looked better this year but they don’t.

I was ready to stand against all the pundits calling the team too old but the injuries started. Granderson is out. Tex is out possibly for most of the year. Jeter already has a sore ankle. A-Rod is AWOL. The Bombers injury report looks like an all-star team. They have a brutal schedule in April and then an easier May that may allow them to catch their breath but if their stars are not back and at the top of their game June will bury the Yankees this year.

The fill ins and other starters just won’t be enough to keep the Yankee’s in the mix. The pitching staff is adequate but not brilliant and with the injuries they need brilliant.

If Cashman is given free reign this will be a one year condition but I see some signs that bosses sons are not as addicted to winning as their father was during his long successful tenure. Hopefully the learn that the crack pipe that is YES revenues network burns out pretty damn quick when they Yankees aren’t winning and truly go back to being the evil empire and filling seat with haters all over the American League. He experts have them at 85 games. I think 82 or 83 is more realistic

Boston Red Sox

I just love picking the Red Sox down here. I hate this team. I hate the owner, the management and the whole concept of the Boston Fucking Red Sox. Boston fans were hoping the team got better on the offseason and could regain prominence in the division. I do not think they did. Order the chicken wings and beers bitches you are in the cellar. The stats freaks and gamblers picking them to win 80 are high on bad acid. This tram wins 75 or less

That’s my predictions for the 2013 season. Odds are I am completely off base and dead wrong across the board but its fun to do anyway. Its along season and a lot can right or wrong for many teams in both leagues. If life is fair we see the National and Angels in the Series. If God is good is good we see the Orioles and Dodgers in the fall classic. Life is not fair and God probably doesn’t interfere in the baseball season so lets play the games, crack a beer and see how this all lays out shall we?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Melvins Guaranteed To Be Highly Accurate or Completely Supect Baseball Forcecast

It is time for the first annual Melvin non politically correct, barely censored and more than likely mildly controversial baseball season preview. I have kept track of the off season moves and machinations, watched the preseason games, reviewed rosters, tracked the statistical reviews and read the scouting reports. I am now ready to issue my thoughts and predictions about the year that will be which only an absolute fucking moron would use a source for predictions or betting purposes.

There are lots of questions going into this year. Can Trout and Harper reprise their rookie years? Does Pujols return to form? How many games can a healthy unchecked Strasburg win in 2013? Does the Toronto spending spree pay dividends in the always intense AL East? How many more Yankees will go on the injured list? Is it preordained that the Cubs must suck again this year? When does Dylan Bundy come up to the majors? How about Wil Myers? Will the Upton brothers show turn up the heat in Atlanta? Will A-Rod do the classy thing and retire so the Yanks can move on? Please God can Boston suck again this year?

Note that I left out any questions about the alleged use of PEDS. I am tired of it all and wish Selig and the union would just make it simple. Use them and be banned for life. Period, no exceptions. Beyond that I don’t really care. If these dimwits are dumb enough to use steroids and shrink their nads and render their winkies ineffective to wring out a few more hits and homers a year I just don’t give a shit. I’m not sure that testosterone and HGH should not be legitimized or at least heavily researched for injury recovery purposes but gain I don’t really care. Its easy to end it. Quit fucking around and make it a lifetime ban. That will stop in in its tracks in the minors and the steroid era will finally and really be over.

Now onto the game and the year ahead. I am going to start with the National League East and work my way around the AL East and my much beloved Orioles of Baltimore. The NL East may now be the toughest division in all of baseball. There are 3 teams that could win in any other division and even the Mets might look good in one of the other divisions. The Marlins this year might struggle in a good high school league but behind the controversial player dumping is a lot of young talent.

Here we go in predicted order of finish.

Washington Nationals

This may one of the best looking baseball team I ever seen assembled. They have pitching, solid defense and outstanding pitching. Their manager is one of the best in the history of the game. If the Braves and Phillies had not improved so much in the off season I would call this team a guaranteed lock to break the record of 116 wins. If they dominate the series with those two clubs they may make Jason Werth look like a damn genius with his perfection of 120 wins.

The stats services have them at 90 to 93 wins and Vegas has it at 91.5 wins on the over under right now. They are too low in my opinion. There is no real weakness in the lineup. Harper is knocking the shit out of the ball in spring training, Werth looks like he is permanently back to form, Span may hit .300 in the leadoff spot because of who is behind him in the order. They can set the table and clear it quickly.

The pitching staff is solid with Dan Haren the only possible weak spot in the rotations. His strikeout and ground ball ratios have slid the past few years and that could be problematic. However if he can keep his ERA below 4.5 he should still win some games as the Nats averaged 4.51 runs a game last year and that probably goes up next this year. The rest of the rotation is a threat to win 20 games this year. The bullpen is solid and should hold most of the leads they are given.

Its Davys last year and there is a big chance they send him home with a ring.

Atlanta Braves

They got better but not good enough. The pitching staff is formidable as always and should get better when  Brandon Beachy comes back in the second half of the season. Adding the Uptons to Freeman and Heyward should give the lineup some extra pop. In any other division I think they would run away with the title. To top it off they get the shit end of the stick in interleague and have to play the much improved Toronto squad four games in a row at the end of May.

The stats services have them at 86 wins right now and the Vegas total is also 86. I think they may actually win 90 at the expense of Miami, the Mets and the NL central but that still going to be along damn way behind the Nationals. This is a really good baseball team but they are in the division with what may be the best team in baseball right now as well as what could be a resurgent Philadelphia squad.

Philadelphia Phillies

The knock here of course is that these guys are getting old but they have a lot of talent. Utley, Howard and Rollins make one hell of heart of the lineup. If Michael Young can swing the bat as he has in the year past they will put some runs on the board. They were 8thin the majors in home runs last year and averaged 4.2 runs per game.  If the lineup stays healthy they should improve on that a bit especially with a full year of a healthy Ryan Howard. Unfortunately the pitching staff is a year older and will be lucky to match last year’s sub 4 ERA. The stats and bettors line of 81 to 82 games looks solid to me

Miami Marlins

That’s right I am picking the Marlins over the Mets. First you need to understand that I hate the goddamn Mets. These evil fuckers messed up a perfectly good summer for me back in 1969 and I have never forgiven the bastards. The only way I would ever pick the Mets to win anything other than a syphilis catching contest at a roadside whorehouse is if ever they had the occasion to pay those rotten evil masters of fucktardation Red Sox in the World Series again.

Second there is some good hungry young talent on this team. Ginacarlo Satnton is a monster and he will get his hits and homer even with Placido Polanco and Juan Pierre batting in front of him. I think Logan Morrison can revert to form under the watchful ass kicking eyes of hitting Coach Tito “why does this fucker always homer against the Orioles” Martinez. We could see Yelich, Fernandez and Zack Cox up in the majors before too long and this will be a very young very hungry baseball team that can steal a few wins they aren’t supposed to. The odds makers and stat services have them at 65 wins but I think they get closer to 70 with help from playing the Twins in interleague games a couple of times.

The New York Motherfucking Metropolitans

I hate the Mets as I may have perhaps causally mentioned so I would pick them last if they still had Tom Seaver pitching and Davey Johnson as manager. Even my close and lasting friendships with many Mets fans cannot overcome my aversion to this baseball team. However I get an assist with this year’s dire prediction for these rat bastards because this truly a bad baseball team. I feel bad for David Wright as he is a class act and good ballplayer stuck in the middle of a nightmare squad. The team hit just .249 last year and will be lucky to match that this year. Other than Wright the only other power on the team comes from Ike Davis and he lessens the impact by hitting in the low 200s.

Other than Johan Santana the pitching staff is largely untested and I have little doubt the team ERA comes in closer to 5 than last year’s 3.83 for starters and 4.65 for the bullpen. Odds makers and stats types have them at 74 to 76 wins on the year but I think they have their heads firmly up their own asses on this one. They will be lucky to win 65. This is a horrible team and I intend to enjoy every moment of their pain.

NL Central   

This is division with one very good team and some also rans, old guys and want to bes that will provide many extra wins for the rest of the league. The class here is easy to spot

Cincinnati Reds.

This is the class of the division and a very good baseball team. I have ulterior motives for picking the Reds as well. Back in the dark ages the Orioles started the AL season and the Reds the National League with both first pitches allegedly thrown at the same time. It was cool. In addition we kicked their ass in the 1970 World Series turning the Big Red machine into the Toothless Pink Unicorns. Thanks to the wonders of national television the rest of the world finally recognized Brooks Robinson for the baseball god he was back in the 60s and 70s.

They can set the plate with Choo and Phillips at the top of the lineup and that gets better fast if they can get Billy Hamilton up quicker with his .400 on base percentage and minor league record 155 steals. Votto and Bruce have the power to clean the plate at any time.  Ludwig hit 25 bombs last year and that will go up if he stops chasing the up and in heat.

The pitching staff is solid even if they leave Chapman as the closer. That’s the smart thing to because they do not need him and he prefers t the closers role. The guy saved 28 games with a sub 2 ERA last year so just leave him where he is. That’s how Dusty Baker wants to play out and if management has a brain in their cute little heads that’s how they will play it. Cueto , Latos and Arroya got the job done last year and  Homer Bailey looks to be even better this year. The rotation is slid and the bullpen is one of the best in the majors.
The odds say 91 games but this team is a threat to win 100 given the weakness of the division.

Milwaukee Brewers

 They are still paying some bills for their rent a ballplayer gambit a few years back but they have the offensive firepower to get the job done. Braun, Hart and Ramirez can all hit 30 dingers and drive in runs. Hart will miss about a month of the season so they need an adequate bridge in the short run to fill that gap

The pitching is a little suspect once you get past the workhorse of the staff Yovani Gallardo but they have some decent young arms that could surprise some folks. Mark Rogers is having a horrid spring so it looks like youngster Wily Peralta will make the squad and we could see Thornburg up from the minors before too terribly long if performs well in Nashville.

The numbers and gamblers say 77 wins but I think they turn in a winning record with 83 to 85 wins on the year.

St. Louis Cardinals

The smart thing would have been to pick the Cards to finish second but like some other teams in the game I think this is the year that age has to pay the bills. Furcal is 37 and already gone for the year with Tommy John surgery,Beltran is 35 and basically has no knees left. Freese is already dinged up in spring training. Chris carpenter is out at least for the year and said this week he doesn’t think he will ever pitch again. If any of their other regular starters or every day players experiences an injury of any lasting nature this team will struggle mightily. John Jay is probably the most important player on the team right now because the corner outfielders are not exactly speed machines capable of covering much ground. We may see Oscar Taveras in an everyday role in the outfield sooner than many anticipated.

This is a great baseball team playing on one of the great baseball cities in the United States but they just have too many issues to match the projected win total of 85 games. I suspect they will be lucky to turn in a winning season. The may get an assist from what looks to be a very weak interleague schedule.

Pittsburgh Pirates

While it is true that the Pirates beat the orioles in two world series even coming back from down 3 to 1 in 1979 I do not harbor the same hatred as I do for those rat fucking Metropolitans. I was a much more mature man of 10 when we lost to the Pirates the first time and was more capable of dealing with the loss in a mature fashion and not harbor intense hatred and anger for 40 + years and counting. Although I would probably punch you dead in the face if you were to bust out singing We Are Family that was a very good Pirates team we lost to in 1979 and by then I have discovered both girls and alcohol and that took some of the edge off the pain of losing.

The Pirates have their mitigating factors as well. They gave us Roberto Clemente one of the finest ball players and gentleman the game has ever seen. How can you hate a team that produces Willie Stargell, Bill Mazerowski, and Manny Sanguillen? They have also paid a penance of being a really bad team for the better part of the last two decades while wearing some of the ugliest uniforms in the history of the game. Guys ask for trades not to avoid playing in Pittsburgh but to get out of wearing that hideous fucking outfit. Besides ,as Mencken pointed out all sane men from time to time feel the urge to hoist the black flag and comment to slitting throats, so how you can hate a Pirate. You can’t.

The front end of the rotation is solid with AJ Burnett and Wandy Rodrigues and by years end we could see super prospects Cole and Taillon come up to the majors and give the Pirates a strong starting staff. The bullpen shows premise and the staff should be better than last year.

McCutchen has star power and should continue to hit well. If Alvarez develops plate discipline he has the potential to hit 40 this year. This has the makings of a formidable young lineup. This is not the year they come to full potential but they are closer. I think the numbers guys are right with the Pirates winning 75 to 76 games.

  Chicago Cubs

Everybody loves the cuddly Cubs and I am sure Wrigley Field will continue to sell out all summer even as the team struggles to not lose 100 games. Personally I hope the story never ends and my Grandkids are sitting around talking about the streak and making plans to go to Chicago for a day game in the bleacher seats. It’s a damn baseball classic complete with a billy goat. The Cubs find more ways to lose than Lindsay Lohan does to get arrested and is just compelling as hell. Theo will get this team turned around over time but for now this is just not a good baseball team.

I am a huge fan of Jeff Samardzija and admire his intelligence for choosing baseball and his patience in developing into a solid major league pitcher. He has 20 game stuff but he doesn’t play n a 20 win team by any stretch of the imagination. The rest of the rotation is suspect and you can expect offense production to decline further this year. If only someone would take the quickly aging Soriano off the hands or the NL would adopt the designated hitter.

The team will be blessed to hit the prediction of 75 wins and I think 65 is a more likely number for the team. Great Story, bad ball club for now.


This a lopsided division with two very good teams and three so bad they are barely worth mentioning  For the most part I barely mention them

LA Dodgers

For the sake of the game I hope I am right about this one. The game needs the boys in blue playing in the fall. The new ownership group has spent the money to make it happen. The talent is there and I think they have the right manager in place. The rotation is one of the absolute best in baseball with two serious preseason Cy Young candidates at the top. The bullpen was one of the best last year and the main components are returned. If the lineup produces up to capability you could have Murders Row the 2013 version. Lets hope for a close race with their arch rivals that ends up with the Dodgers in the dance. The team should win the 90 games projected with ease.

San Francisco Giants

I have finally figured out the Giants winning ways. They make the exciting look ordinary and the exceptional an ever day practice. They have excellent attention to the fundamentals of the game and have every square inch of their home filed memorized. They do just enough to win and bore the living fuck out of their opponents until they go into a stupor and lose a 1 run game. Its fucking brilliant baseball.
This year I think they will have the rotation once again but bot the bats to take out the Dodgers. With Lincecums haircut and the departure of Brain Wilson they have lost some of their personality as well. They will be just boring enough to surpass the odds maker projections of 86 games by one or two. That's going to be good enough for a wildcard in this league.

Arizona Diamondbacks

These snakes do not have a lot of bite. The best thing they have going for them is manager Kirk Gibson and second baseman Aaron Hill. Beyond that it falls off pretty quick. Kennedy is a solid number 1 pitcher but the rest of the rotation strikes me as questionable although Brandon McCarthy wife has a great twitter count. Gibson is a great manager and his determination and skill will keep them from being a laughingstock but the tools just are not there right now. The math boys are optimistic at 76 wins is closer to the reality.

Colorado Rockies

The stadium is the best player on the team. Walt Weiss may turn to heavy scotch consumption  or possibly heroin before the season is over. 65 wins maybe.

San Diego Padres.

The only real question with this team is when do they trade Chase Headley for some prospects and prayers? The new pope is expected to request team change name t Protestants before the year is out.

Tomorrow we will walk around the American League and see what we find.