April 12, 2011

Batting Practice, Bitches: The One with Derek Jeter, Desert Islands, NBA Champions, NCAA Scandals, and Pia Toscano

This is like CDTF's version of Hot Topics, minus Baba Wawa, Tracy Jordan's wife, that cranky conservative bitch, the menopausal liberal, and that Mel Gibson-loving reggae lady. An awkward setting, fueled by mutual animosity/adoration, where we tee up against softball topics and discuss things that do not matter in any way, shape, or form. 
After a week off for important things like graduate school decisions (Carrie) and charity functions (Robin) and dirty dancing at Shooters (Amber) and fantasy baseball scheming (Jill), the girls are back for some morning chatter and sports banter.  They have been joined in the past by stars such as La La Vasquez, Christina Aguilera, Brittney Griner, Jessica Biel, and Laura Vikmanis. This week, however, they are joined by Pia Toscano, fresh off her shocking American Idol upset. 
Hey ladies, thanks for having me here! It’s a billion times better than hanging out with Jenny from the Block, Deputy Dawg, and Uncle Creepy Tongue. Ugh, such has-beens, all of them. Simon never would have let this happen. American Idol officially sucks now, especially with me gone.  I may have acted all gracious and whatnot, but I’m an angry New Yorker at heart. Do you know what they missed out on?  Well, it all started when I was nine, starring in “Jesus Christ Superstar” for my local church. Then, I opened for the Bare Naked Ladies. Like, long after they were actually cool, but still? Kind of awesome.  But THEN, I performed with Josh Groban, who is like the voice of Jesus himself.  I have not even mentioned that I am a wedding singer in a band called “Current Affair,” but then again, I am sure you knew that already.  Regardless, they missed out on a superstar.  Interscope Records already signed me and I already banged Mark Ballas, that hottie from Dancing with the Stars.  I don’t fucking need American Idol.  But who doesn’t need a funny group of friends? 

Pia: So far this season, the AL East has been as crazy and surprising as my exit from Idol last week! I was wondering:

Out of Joe Maddon, Joe Girardi, and Terry Francona – who would you rather be stuck on a desert island with, who would you prefer to have in the dugout during a tied game, and who would rather have…relations with?

Carrie: Oh, gosh, I love ALL of them. This is tricky, I want to be really sensitive about which particular trait I appreciate most about them, and I don't want any hurt feelings. So the thing is, Terry Francona is amazing, and he seems like honestly one of the most fun, shoot-the-shit type of people ever. Also, I learned that he and my boyfriend Dustin Pedroia have regular chess matches, which just indicates a whole extra level of awesome. And even though I don't actually know how to play chess or why people do it, I feel like he could probably teach me. Like I am notoriously bad at Learning, but I bet Tito could make it stick... if given enough time on a desert island. I think Joe Girardi is a little too presh for me to entertain serious notions of dot-dot-dotting with, so I'll take him in the dugout (not "take him"... but uh, you know what I mean). I try not to think of people's families in such hypothetical situations as this, but knowing the adorable story about his braces and his daughter, I don't think I could shake that. Plus? I really admire the calm he shows in stressful situations. Admittedly, sometimes he chokes, but I'll say this - he never panics. So, yes, I'd totally rather have relations with Joe Maddon. Those glasses are dead sexy.

Amber: I literally have NO idea who any of these dudes are. I was like "does she mean Joe MADDEN? Isn't that football? Isn't football over? I thought football was over when it got warm!" Anyway, I am basing my choices off nothing really. The older I get, the more I do that. Isn't it supposed to be the other way? Anyway, I would want to be on a desert island with Joe Girardi. He is the cutest, and his wiki says he went to Northwestern and was president of his fraternity. That COULD make him the grossest, but also the most inventive and fun when it comes to desert-island living. I would also be more inclined to share my cookies with him...both kinds of cookies. Joe M. and Terry seem like okay dudes? I don't know, I don't watch baseball. Does one of them yell more or something? Are baseball 'managers' the same as coaches in other sports? I don't understand. Basically, this has devolved into a rant about which of these old dudes I think is the cutest. I apologize, once again, for my complete and utter lack of sports knowledge.

Pia: Yeah, I don’t know who these strangers are either. I guess I would want to be stuck with whoever wants me to sing to them constantly. And whoever packs the biggest…baseball bat. 

Robin:  Since I have no idea who Joe Maddon is and am really not in the googling mood (the sun is shining in Boston and the Sox beat the Yanks, fuck google (for the next 10 minutes or so)), I've got Joe G. or Tito. AND, obviously if you've figured anything out about me, even if Joe G. wasn't with the Yanks, I'd pick Tito, cause like, how much fun is it to say Tito? I'd never get tired on that desert island cause I'd just be like "Yo Tito" or like "TeTe, tell me how you always stay so calm AND don't chew on all that shit in your mouth during the games.” This would keep me entertained for hours, and what could Joe Maddon – who I still don't want to Google – do for me, and Joe Girardi, like you played when I was a child, so you have little wisdom to give me. So yep, Tito, DUH. (Oh, and his daughter Tara was on the cover of the Brookline TAB (local newspaper) for playing basketball at Brookline High, so obvs local yocal, and local newspapers for the win!). PS. I can't believe I just said "For the Win.” I blame the sunshine.

Jill: I don’t know if it is the hoodie or crazy glasses, that he quotes Einstein and Dr. Seuss, or that he rides a bicycle every day before games to clear his head (he even has a favorite bike route in each AL city).  It may just be that he rocks out to the Stones and is a bit of a wino. But I really think I just love Joe Maddon, because he is a super smart baseball dork who is always quick with a one-liner.  In fact, I would like Joe Maddon in the ninth inning AND on a desert island. But if I had to pick just one? I would go with the island.  I can totally see myself building sandcastles with him, while we wait for our crab trap to work and he tells me stories about his playing days. He would be like McGyver and build us a tree house, just like Swiss Family Robinson.  I sort of want this to happen.  As for the others? I would go with Joe Girardi in the ninth and Tito in bed, I guess.  As a former catcher, Girardi understands pitching staffs and, for the most part, manages them well.  Tito makes me nervous with his bullpen; he is overly loyal to his go-to guys and sometimes it backfires (this could also be said about Girardi, but whatever, I am loyal if nothing else).  I still think Terry is sort of awesome though, bald head and all, so he has an open invitation to visit the Isle of MadHop whenever he wants. 

Pia: I am not sure if you care, and quite frankly, I am not sure that I do, but:

What team will win the NBA championship and why?

Amber: THE CELTICS! I love love love Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. LOVE. Also? Has Ray Allen stopped aging? He looks EXACTLY the same as when he played Jesus in "He Got Game" with Denzel. Anyway, my love for the Celtics will carry them through. But...that's what I said last year.

Pia: I was once in "Jesus Christ Superstar," and if Denzel can make it by starring next to a Jesus, I can, too. Right? That's what Paula Abdul told me, but she was drinking pain killer punch, so I was a little confused. 

Robin: With my Tito love, I could give real Boston lovin' this week, but I mean, with my buddy Rajon still missin' his buddy Perk (and, as a result, not really playing that well due to sulking), and obvs the Nets are out (OBVS) (though my parents went to their last games as season ticket holders after 19 seasons. Real end of an era in my life. Like after you lose your last tooth. What does the tooth fairy do now/what will entertain my parents besides the dog?) (Whoa I am back on a parentheses kick this week. I blame the sunshine). So I'd like to go with the Chicago Bulls, because my favorite former Net AND Celtic Brian Scalabrine warms the bench for them. But more than his bench-warming (which, in Chicago with its frigid temps, those benches need to be kept warm), the man is PURE spirit. First guy up to give you a high five. He is a MANIAC with the towel when something great happens. And his wife drives a mini-van (I saw a local public access special on him when he was still playing in Boston and her mini-vanness really stuck with me). So, based on my favorite Red Headed NBA Italian Player Married to a Mini-Van driver (and in honor of Dennis "Best Hair Ever" Rodman's inauguration into the Basketball Hall of Fame), Go Bulls!

Jill: Duh, the Knicks. I mean, sure – the Bulls or Lakers would be a smarter choice, based on like facts and stats and information.  But this is what will happen, so write it down and call your bookies: The Knicks will be playing either the Giant Greedy Bastards (a future spin-off of Pretty Little Liars set in Miami) or the Boston Nursing Home. The Celtics look, well – they look dead. Not merely struggling, but like full-on zombies.  Miami has little talent outside of the Big Three, they especially lack inside defense, and the pressure to win will be phenomenal. Amar’e will dominate the first few games, finding his pre-Melo touch; then, when the series returns to New York, Melo will drop 50 points in front of a raucous MSG crowd.  Unlike the Heat, we have a true floor general in Chauncey Billups and a glue guy in Landry Fields.  Riding the wave of momentum from our shocking first-round upset, the Knicks will blow through the playoffs until the Finals, where they will beat the Lakers in seven games. Kobe will glare bullets as Amar’e slams his goggles down at half-court and La La comes bolting out of the stands into Melo’s arms. I cannot wait for the ticker-tape parade. 

Carrie: Can I just tell you, it has been YEARS since I have paid attention to the NBA, but this year I actually have, and while lack of information would not necessarily or otherwise prevent me from making such conjecture, I feel really good about answering this question. I feel really bad for the Spurs, since they had a really remarkable run at the beginning of the season and now they're all broken and busted like the Red Sox were last year. Just tragic. You can't rule the Lakers out, but gosh, how boring. And now that I know that Pat Reilly evidently trademarked the phrase "threepeat,” I never want to use it again. I like Pat just fine, but lord, what hubris! The Heat are a non-issue - they can't finish and it's a big problem. No hard feelings, just it's not going to happen this year. So, for me it comes down to the Celtics and Bulls. The Celtics have had their time to shine and obviously, historically, so have the Bulls, but I would like this new generation to get some piece of that pie. Also? Derek Rose is the cutest player in the NBA. So, like, I guess I could have just saved all the sports "analysis" and boiled it down to that in the first place. 

Pia: I get that. That is how I do most of my “analysis” in life.  I mean, I would not be dating a male dancer if it wasn’t for his looks. Let’s be serious.  No, seriously, let’s be serious for a minute:

With all of the scandals surrounding the NCAA, and in particular Auburn and Ohio State, do you think that NCAA athletes should be paid a stipend while in school?

Amber: This is complicated. I think there's a lot of bullshitting when it comes to "student athletes,” and why sports are important to a school community. Coaches and heads of athletic departments (at lots of schools) get paid way more money than presidents and deans, and it's because of the money that they generate for the school.  These kids get recruited to do the same thing. Don't really smart grad students get paid fellowships, and assistantships and small stipends because they teach undergrads and do "work" for the school? I feel like college athletes are providing a similar kind of service. Does that sound crazy?  I just don't know if the value of their free education adds up?

Jill: I clearly love sports and athletes and all that jazz. But there is no way that NCAA athletes should ever be paid to play sports, even a stipend.  First of all, they ARE paid to play sports.  It is called a free education. And to a Duke athlete? That is worth about $200,000 when all is said and done, if not more.  That is a higher salary than a lot of full-time professionals make. My friends and I used to joke around about how we paid tuition to fund some football player’s sociology degree; mind you, it is harder to stomach when your football team is a national punch-line.  Even if we did pay athletes a stipend, it would not curtail the rampant corruption and shadiness going on in the NCAA.  An athlete would earn, what? Maybe a few thousand dollars each semester? It doesn’t really compare when Daddy Newton is asking for a six-figure stipend.  But more importantly, our athletes are making money anyway.  Let’s say that you are a senior. You are given $4,000/semester for off-campus housing, $2,500/semester for food, and like $2,500 for utilities and transportation or whatever.  No one actually uses that entire amount; or at least, many athletes purposely try to live below their allotted means. I mean, we used to give our leftover Duke “points” to our bball friends, so that they could buy food on campus with points and save their allotted meal cash.  Then they used that money on, I don’t know, important academic resources like cases of Coors Light.  If they want to make money, they should go pro; if not, they should be grateful that they won’t have decades of student loans like the rest of us. 

Carrie: I have really strong feelings about this, none of which are particularly funny. I recognize that student-athletes, particularly those that compete at the D1 level, work incredibly hard and under extraordinary pressure to perform for their school's various sports teams. However, I also think all of the "creative suggestions" for how athletes could be "paid" have been pretty well-exhausted. In many cases (but certainly not all, so do not paint me into an over-generalization I'm not making), they take easier classes, with serious support systems in place to make sure they get through even those with passing grades, or whatever. They live like campus celebrities and are often just slightly outside the scope of traditional institutional policy (unless they got to BYU, obviously). I get that there's a lot of money made in college sports and none of it goes to the athletes putting in the work, but I do think they're compensated by the experience they're having. I guess perhaps - and this goes against every fiber of my professional philosophy to say... maybe nicer housing?

Robin: So I actually think the players should get paid a stipend, but only if they have to eat in the normal cafeterias with the rest of the students. None of this “athlete cafeteria” shit. And when I say stipend, I think it should be to cover a large late night pizza every week (or in my case, every night), and some money to walk through the drive-through of Wendy's at 1 am like "normal" college kids. These students bring in tons of revenue to their schools and, yes, they get a free education (which so many of them do not even really take part in), but they also are not allowed to have a job (no work study, no nothing). And if the NCAA and colleges want to pretend that they are, in fact, students as well as athletes, then allow them to be like students. So many college memories revolve around eating delivery late night with friends or doing something nonsensical in the 24-hour Walgreens. And a little bit of money (along with a HUGE culture change of how we treat these athletes) might allow them to act like normal college students. CWebb, UMich may have made tons of money selling your jerseys, but Clark U., my alma mater, never had a prospective student go on a tour with me and not at least apply for admission (so like I was making the college at LEAST the $50 application fee). I got paid $7.25 a tour, you can get paid $7.25 per hour for the game. And then go act like a normal student and order a pizza and shut the hell up about this nonsense. 

Pia: Okay, I didn’t mean to rile you all up.  I don’t even know what the word stipend means. Let’s move on to someone that I have had a crush on since I was a little girl in Howard Beach, New York. 

Will Derek Jeter make a comeback or is he done-zo?

Carrie: Would we call this a comeback year for him if he did? I felt like he was fine last year. I mean, maybe not like In His Prime Fine, but very much like A Respectably Aging Still Valuable and Productive Player Fine. I think it's important that the Yankees understand that they are paying him for something different this year, but no less valuable. I think he's still an incredibly strong leader, a fine fielder and an adequate hitter. He is also the face of their franchise and remains an outstanding one at that. So, no I don't think he'll make a "comeback," but I also do not think he is donezo, nor do I think he should be. He gives me real Cal Ripken Jr. Junior and I would like him to stick around a lot longer and am glad he will.
 

Amber: Done-zo. Right? Derek Jeter has been playing baseball forever, no? Can you really stay like, relevant and at the top of the game for 20 years?


Pia: I plan to be on top of the music industry for like 20 decades. Yes, decades.  My music will still be celebrated when people are living on the moon.

 

Jill:  Sigh.  I am not ready to count out the Baseball Jesus. Not yet at least.  There is no doubt that he is struggling.  He has hit two balls out of the infield.  His average is just above the Mendoza Line.  He gave up on his new swing already.  But he is Derek fucking Jeter. And I will be damned if the man will not keep fighting, working, battling to be the very best he can be.  Because, as much as I (and most of New York) hate this, Derek Jeter hates it more.  Failure is especially bitter when you are not used to its taste.  I think he will catch fire around the All-Star Break, but I begrudgingly admit that he is nearing the twilight of his career.  That said, no matter what he is up against, I will always pick Derek Jeter – even if his opponents are time, history, and mother nature. 
 

Robin: When I think of Derek Jeter, I think of Mariah Carey, and Mariah Carey is all posing semi-nude for magazines as Nick Cannon's Baby Mama. So if anyone is having a comeback, it's Mariah and the fact that Jetesy and Mariah are done-zo does not speak highly for Derek. So yes, DONE-ZO (because honestly who cares about him and his supposed 'cute butt' besides my dead (may she rest in peace) grandmother)? 


Pia: And on that, I think we should call it a wrap.  It is sort of nice to call the shots and not get, you know, voted off of your show. So thank you for that, girls! Enjoy your Tuesdays and tune in next week!  Also? Your granny sounds like a pretty cool chick, so this song goes out to her: 



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