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Cipher Poem of the Day: 1995-2131

Using images from the Pitchrs & Poets Tumblr as a creative launching point, our resident Imagineer Dylan Little has put together a series of cipher poems. Can you guess the ballplayer below, as described using the literary tools of the $ubconscious$. (Click the link at the end for the solution.)

You can follow Dylan on Twitter: @orangehunchback.

Billy will never be
as bald as me.
I’d rather party
with an ’82 Eddie
Murray. If little bro
penned a book
it’d be called Billy:
the Pervert Who Holds The All-Time Record For Most Farts In His Brother’s Pool.

solution

P&P MLB Predictions 2012: Opening Day!

image by Judy Van Der Velden

You thought we’d let the trend of the moment pass us by without offering up our own misguided attempts at humor and/or strangeness? You thought wrong!

Here are the P&P team’s predictions for the now-underway 2012 Major League Baseball Season:

  • Injuries force the Rockies to give up their personal vendetta against Eric Young Jr. and allow him to start 140 games; he puts up a line exactly like his father’s twenty years ago (.270/.355/.355 with 40 stolen bases). – Patrick
  • As a part of their youth movement, the Astros organization fires every ballpark usher over the age of 75. – Ted
  • Roy Oswalt will sign with the Reds in May. In June, Roy Oswalt and the Reds will agree to a 9-year, $273 million extension. -Eric
  • Felipe Paulino uses a new grip on his 95 mph fastball that induces half an inch of movement. He ends up leading the team with a sub-4.00 ERA. – Patrick
  • This will finally be the year America learns to love Bud Selig. -Eric
  • Brandon McCarthy, in an endless pursuit to better himself, rediscovers the gyroball. – Patrick
  • Someone on twitter will leak internal discussions by MLB to run the bases clockwise for one game. -Patrick
  • During a random inning in mid-August, Jamie Moyer throws exactly one 97-m.p.h. fastball, only to immediately resume his normal velocity a pitch later. – Ted
  • Between Colby Rasmus, Kelly Johnson, Adam Lind, Edwin Encarnacion, and J.P. Arencibia, the Blue Jays become the first team to hit less than .230 and slug more than .430. – Patrick
  • Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes become so tight that they agree to play shortstop together. – Ted
  • Billy Beane is fired at midseason and replaced by Bill Bavasi. The A’s turn around, finish .500, and trade all their prospects for Joe Blanton and Brian Duensing. – Patrick
  • Albert Pujols hits a home run so high that it hits an angel on the ass. That angel is Ty Cobb’s third cousin Millicent. – Ted
  • Todd Helton’s back acts up and he gets cut on June 1. He signs on, plays a dozen painful games, and retires with the Arizona Diamondbacks. – Patrick
  • Bud Selig approves a deal in which all 30 MLB teams agree to share bullpens. – Ted
  • Justin Morneau and Brian Roberts collide during a double play in early May. Both of their heads explode like in the movie Scanners. – Patrick
  • Frank McCourt works his way back up the Dodgers ladder to the front office after starting the year in the basement mailroom. Wearing a fake mustache and going by the alias John-Jack Lasorda. – Ted
  • A fan leaps onto the field and tries to light a Miami Marlins jersey on fire. Rick Monday is at the game, but doesn’t move an inch. – Patrick
  • Chris Iannetta is, at some point, sad. – Patrick
  • Ryan Braun finally beats Reggie Miller in a game of ping pong. – Patrick
  • Skip Schumaker accidentally bats out of order three times, but because everyone is so used to Tony La Russa, no one notices. – Patrick
  • John Axford, ironically, trips over a teammate’s novelty mustache.
  • Umpires get together and decide to call the slidestep a balk for a single day. Chaos ensues. – Patrick
  • Someone on Twitter will leak internal discussions by MLB to run the bases clockwise for one game. -Patrick
  • Johan Santana will start 32 games. Over the next four years. -Patrick
  • Josh Beckett will go on the DL with his old blister problems, meaning that the Red Sox will be paying more for injured starters than the Royals will pay for their entire lineup. -Patrick
  • Knucklepuck! – Ted
  • Hipsters everywhere rejoice as the neckbeard overtakes the handlebar mustache as baseball’s ironic facial hair of choice. -Patrick
  • Erik Bedard will look at himself in the mirror and realize that no one will ever call him “a poor man’s Steve Carlton”. -Patrick
  • The new Marlins Park home run feature will eat no more than two center fielders. – Ted

Unleash the Beast by Matt Christman

Matt Christman is a freelance writer, film critic, and exiled Brewers fan living in Brooklyn.

Due to its draconian penalties against excessive celebration and general horsing off, some wags say that “NFL” stands for “No Fun League,” but that’s actually a much better label for Major League Baseball. At least in football, joyless uniformity of behavior is enforced by the Commissioner’s office. In baseball, the players do it themselves.

Over the past few seasons, the Milwaukee Brewers have gained a league-wide reputation as a gaggle of cocky jackasses. It all started during the 2008 season, with the infamous celebratory untucking of jerseys on the field that caused Tony LaRussa to drop his monocle. Since then, Prince Fielder earned a lifetime of beanings from the San Francisco Giants for a choreographed home run celebration. Now the antics of Nyjer “Tony Plush” Morgan, who has turned his season into a piece of fan-interactive performance art, have defined the Brewers and riled up opposing teams.

Over the course of the season, Morgan raised the ire of Giants fans with intemperate hand gestures in center field, and he won the hearts of Brewers fan with stunts like going to Twitter to ask Milwaukeans what he should do with an off day, getting a response of “go fly a kite,” and then going to the Milwaukee waterfront to ACTUALLY FLY A KITE (and posting the photo evidence on Twitter, of course). He’s introduced “Beast Mode” to the vocabulary of Brewer players and fans. “Beast Mode” involves Brewers players signaling the dugout with monster claws and screeching and general boisterousness. This has led to Brewers players celebrating extra base hits with a theatricality usually not found on a baseball field. The Cardinals have, of course, been the most vocal detractors of the Brew Crew, with manager Tony LaRussa tut-tutting about decorum and even complaining about the brightness of the scoreboard lights at Miller Park.

Beast Mode

Yet nothing the Brewers have done on the field would raise an eyebrow in any other team sport. That’s because baseball isn’t really a team sport, it just pretends to be one. When a wide receiver dances a jig in the end zone after a touchdown it’s a way for an individual player to break out of the faceless eleven man herd and assert his personal achievement. In baseball, even standing in the batter’s box for a second too long after hitting a home run is like spitting in the pitcher’s face. Giving up a touchdown is a failure of the entire defensive unit. Even if a cornerback gets completely torched, it’s unlikely he’s the only defender on the field who screwed up. In baseball, the failure is all on one man, standing all by himself on a big pile of dirt in the middle of the field. Any kind of exuberance on the part of a hitter reads as a personal insult. So baseball players maintain the illusion of teamwork in a covertly individual game by protecting their teammate’s egos, marking showboaters for future retaliation.

What folks like Tony LaRussa and other defenders of baseball’s unwritten rules don’t realize is that the high stepping of the Brew Crew has nothing to do with the chump on the mound who just got lit up. Untucked shirts and Beast Mode serve the same purpose for the Brewers that ordering Jason Motte to plunk Ryan Braun does for LaRussa. These rituals are a creative alchemy meant to turn nine individual players with nine individual stat lines and responsibilities into an actual team, just like retaliation, but more fun for the players and the fans. Do any of these team-building shenanigans actually make a difference on the field? Probably not. But it’s a blast to watch, and more importantly for fans, it takes the often remote and characterless assemblage of millionaires that make up a baseball team and gives them a collective personality that’s captivating to watch because it supplies the game with narrative and personal context. In a time when massive player salaries and social networking sites like Twitter have simultaneously make baseball players more remote and more accessible to the average fan, the Brewers approach to the game is the only viable one. If fans can’t relate to baseball players as people, if teams can’t “brand” themselves based on the personalities of said players, then there simply is no future for major league baseball.

This week’s National League Championship series is ground zero for baseball’s kulturkampf. The flamboyant Brewers are facing off against what Nyjer Morgan has called the “Plain-Jane Wonderbreads” of Saint Louis and their skipper, Captain of the S.S. NoFun, Tony LaRussa. It’s hard to imagine that any fan without a rooting interest in either team could look at the matchup and actually prefer the Cardinal’s joyless Mechan-o-Men to T. Plush’s irrepressible cohorts. What’s more likely to capture the imagination of the general viewer: Beast Mode or Albert Pujols’ dead-eyed stare? The key to winning the undying devotion of the sporting public is giving them something to root for other than a uniform color. So my advice for the next pitcher who gets red-assed over some Tony Plush hijinx is this: instead of just grimly plunking the next batter for the effrontery of his teammate, strike him out and make up your own damn celebration.