Worm: You know what always
cheers me up?
Mike McDermott: No, what's that?
Worm: Rolled up aces over kings.
Check-raising stupid tourists and
taking huge pots off of them. Playing
all-night high-limit Hold'em at the
Taj, "where the sand turns to gold."
Stacks and towers of checks I can't even
Mike McDermott: Fuck it, let's go.
Worm: Don't tease me.
Mike McDermott: Let's play some cards.
High-limit Holdem. Thanks in part to the World Series of Poker, and to a lesser extent, the World Poker Tour, Poker has seeped its way into the nations consciousness and derailed the college careers of many young men who have the dubious privilege of attending a school that is located near (or even 2-3 hours) away from a casino of any sort.
Still, many people forget that todays poker craze would not be possible without the 1998 release of one of the classic gambling movies and perhaps, one of the most underappreciated films of our (yours and mine) time. No, not Mystery Men. Im of course talking about Rounders.
Why anyone wouldnt love this movie baffles me. Matt Damon (one of his best roles to date) Edward Norton (arguably the best young actor around today) and the best crazy bad guy since Chris Walken in Wild Side, John Malkovich as Teddy KGB? Surefire hit! Add in the fact that it's a movie about gambling, which lends itself to shady characters, double crosses, and more money exchanging hands than LT's daily trip to the crackhouse.
(For the record, let me just state that John Malkovichs accent in this movie was the most hilariously over-the top Russian accent since Dragos wife in Rocky IV. You amurricans tink you are so berry, berry good, and dat we uhr so berry berry bad. Also on this list would have to be Tony the Goose Sirigusas performance in 25th Hour, which in my opinion could be the worst film acting job by a 400 pound former quasi-athlete ever.)
Anyway, this movie started it all, and there is no way that Amir Vahedi or Chris Moneymakers would be household names without it.
Which brings me to my point. This baseball off-season (the hot stove season if you will) is being hailed by many sports writers as the most exciting ever. (between pending trades in the MLB and the annual BCS fiasco, most havent churned out an original piece in about 3 weeks) But the fact is, it IS exciting. These GMs, most notably Theo and Cashman, are all involved in a figurative game of No-Limit Holdem, using guile and strategery to load the deck in their favor.
So now, I give you the best of the MLB off season so far, with a little help from Mike McDonald, Worm, and the incomparable Teddy KGB.
1. "Hanging around. Hanging around. Kid's got alligator blood."
To the ongoing war between Theo and King George the 1st. The way these guys have been going after each other, their relationship is not dissimilar to that of Mike McD and Teddy. Theo, the young brash prodigy is moving in on Georges turf, and starting to rile the old man up a bit.
I think that Bravo should have a special night of Celebrity Poker, with Billy Beane, Theo Epstein, George Steinbrenner, and old Sox GM Dan Duqette. It would be the Highest of High Comedy. Duqette would sit there motionless, unware that he was, in fact, at a poker game, then after 15 minutes of that, would get up, and aimlessly wander off the set, thereby disqualifying himself from play. Beane would get to the table, sit in on a few hands before realizing that he was more suited to play at a lower-stakes table with Minnesota and Chicago. That would only leave Theo, and a somewhat insane Stienbrenner hunched over the table, muttering to himself in Russian, and playing with Oreo Cookies (sorry, couldnt resist).
Im not kidding, this needs to happen.
2. "They all know me as small-time. But that's about to change."
To all of the small market teams in the MLB, who will supposedly be helped by the Seligs enforcement of the leagues debt policy. Yea. I expect Detriot to make a pennant run next year . . . .
Let me just reinforce that I am sick of all this parity crap. I hate the Yankees, but I do admire the way they go about things. They throw as much money as they can to put a winner out on the field. Teams like Tigers and Expos all have the money to throw around, but instead choose to hang on to it, and put it into side ventures, generating more revenue. My feeling is that other teams (I include my Sox in this statement) should not be penalized by the unwillingness of some owners to shell out money for big name players.
Look at what its done to football. Pre-Season rankings dont mean squat anymore because every team is just about equal, and nobodys very good. Ive got to say, I miss the days of Dynasties, such as the 70s Steelers and the early 90s Cowboys, cause its a hell of a lot more fun to watch them lose, than to watch Quincy Carter look like a premier NFL quarterback for two weeks because NFL defenses are so depleted, they have more holes in them than the plotline of a Shannon Tweed movie . . . . (taking deep breaths, getting kind of angry) . . . .ok on to the next one, before I break my keyboard.
3. "Ain't a good idea to add insult to injury. That (crap) will come back to haunt
To the one move that Theo has made that I whole hartedly disagree with, deciding to trade for A-Rod, without discussing it with Nomar, then publicly badmouthing Nomars agent . . . he might as well pull a Vince MacMahon and hire the Undertaker to kidnap Mia Hamm, just to ensure that if the A-Rod trade falls through, he will be left with an unhappy, shortstop begging to get traded.
Let me go on record by saying that Nomar needs to stay in Boston. Is he going to put up A-Rods numbers? No. Is he on the downside of his career? Yes. Will he ever be the 2000 Nomar? Defenitley not. But Nomar, along with Pedro, is really the backbone of this Red Sox team. Fans love him, and he has continually said that he loves Boston right back.
I think fans will quickly warm up to A-Rod, and if he gets Boston their first World Series Ring since 1918, that would be fantastic. But I cant help feeling that Nomar not being there would somehow cheapen the feeling. Its kind of like listening to an Audioslave album. Audiolave (formerly Rage Against the Machine) is a great band, and Chris Cornell is one of the legendary frontmen in all of Rock and Roll history, but its just not the same without Zac de La Rocha. While the music is pretty much the same, and Cornell has a fabulous voice, its just not . . . important.
My point is this Nomar deserves to be there. Hes worn the Sox jersey since his rookie year in 1997, and in that time, he has become as identifiable with Red Sox as anyone in the clubs history (barring maybe Lou Merloni). Let him stay.
Besides, is there anything better than hearing Boston people say No-mah? A-Rawd just doesnt work that well.
4. "I learned it from you, Mike. You always told me that this was the rule -- rule No.
1 -- throw in your cards when you know you can't win. Fold the hand
To the Expos. Since Vlad Guererro will be headed to greener pastures this winter, the Expos will be left with Vidro, Cabrero, and what is, apparently the cast of Major League three. Expos management (if it exists) should relocate permanently to Puerto Rico, sell the franchise off to a wealthy Puerto Rican corporation, and spend the rest of their days on the sunny beaches of San Juan, sipping daiquiris and listening to Jimmy Buffet.
I dont think either of the Montreal fans would mind too much.
5. "Listen, this is one time I don't need you to tell me how I (expletive) up. I (
(expletive) up. What I need from you is money."
To A-Rods failed stint with the Rangers, which appears to be over. He thought that the Rangers organization would build a winning club around him and his 200 Kajillion dollar salary, but he missed something. With all the money the ball club was throwing at him, they could only afford players like Mark Teixiera and Shane Spencer. Not a veritable murders row at all. All of last year, A-rod was playing with the Id better be getting paid in cash look on his face. Well, looks like hes about to get out of there, with his stats and his money intact.
6. "Call me if you need a lawyer."
"I will. And I will."
One of my favorite lines in the movie has to go to one of my favorite off season plots that doesnt involve a hot stove or Pete Rose.
Yes . . . it seems that a Atlanta based-con artist named Jason Woodward is being sued by 1st team All-Idiot All Star John Rocker, for scamming him out of over 100,000 dollars in a shady real estate deal.
My question is this, how did Rocker ever realize the money was missing? After a long day of bashing homosexuals, blacks, jews, and Black-Jewish Homesexuals, did Rocker actually stop throwing his own feces for long enough to have someone read a bank statement to him? Yea, I thought so too.
7. "You take this money, and you get yourself out of this trouble. You hear me? I
know that you can."
This one goes to the Mets, who recently signed highly coveted Japanese rookie Kaz Little Matsui to a 3 year, 20 million dollar deal. Look, Ill put it this way. Jim Duqette already has the third highest payroll in baseball and one of the leagues worst teams. Adopting a strategy of thrown copious amounts of money at anything that moves hasnt worked so far, so why should this time be any different? Kaz is unproven against American pitching, and will undoubtedly hit .240 this season, while soaking up quite a bit of capital. Of course, it goes without saying, if the Yankees had signed him, hed hit .300 with 15 hr and 72 stolen bases. But then again, thats just the way things work in New York. Mets fans, my heart is with you.
8. "He plays the part of a loser to perfection."
Sorry Grady, but I cant think of anyone else who applies.
9. "You're right, Teddy. That ace didn't help me. I flopped a nut straight."
To My Buddy Selig. To cap off one of the most exciting post seasons in recent history, a talked about hot stove season can only improve what is already rising fan interest in the sport. To anyone that said baseball was dying . . . we just flopped a nut straight.