You know this thing I do where I make fun of people who write stupid things about baseball? Well, today we have a fun spin on that old favourite. I’m going to do the same thing, except that the sportswriter in question happens to be the president of the United States. President Obama rambled aimlessly for seven minutes the other night, and in the process managed to declare that the Yankees won the World Series specifically to help poor children get government jobs. At least, that’s what I think he said. It’s hard to tell sometimes. Let’s take a look!
As you can see, we’ve got a few Yankees fans here in the White House — (applause) — who are pretty excited about your visit. I want to actually start by recognizing Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner, who is here — (applause) — and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
I love how Tim Geithner gets applause and Ray LaHood doesn’t. That’s a snub and a fucking half. Actually, wait, no — I just love how Tim Geithner gets applause. Must be a lot of Goldman Sachs execs in the crowd.
I want to congratulate the Steinbrenner family, Brian Cashman and all the folks who helped to make this team what it is.
George Steinbrenner is so senile right now he gets chauffeured around in a buggy. I mean, when he’s on the field. What it takes to make the Yankees what they are: a bunch of old crazy.
And I want to thank all of the members of the New York congressional delegation.
Yeah, good plan. The Yankees wouldn’t have won shit without Jerrold Nadler and his awesome comedy name. I wonder if he knows my friend Barrold Bonds.
And I noticed a couple of Connecticut and North Dakota guys showing up here, too — (laughter) — all of whom take credit for the Yankees’ success.
Hey, if people consuming tax dollars to pass laws preventing us from salting food are getting credit for the championship, I reckon it’s open to anybody.
Now, it’s been nine years since your last title -– which must have felt like an eternity for Yankees fans. I think other teams would be just fine with a spell like that.
The Cubs, for example?
The Cubs, for example.
Yeah, fuck you, Barrold. At least I can name some of the players on my favourite team. I can also pronounce the name of the ballpark. So, hey.
But this is a team that goes down to spring training every year expecting to win it all — and more often than not, you guys get pretty close.
That’s not so much a compliment as I think you think it is. "More often than not, you guys get pretty close [to winning]" is relatively equivalent to "more often than not, you guys only lose by a little." But I guess that’s like what the great Herm Edwards once said.
Of course, if I had Rivera, I’d get pretty close, too. (Laughter.) My White Sox would get close every year.
And you’d be able to name one of them. Well, last name, anyhow. For all you know, his first name is Three-Finger Brown.
That attitude, that success, has always made the Yankees easy to love — and, let’s face it, easy to hate as well. (Laughter.) For a White Sox fan like me, it’s painful to watch Mariano’s cutter when it’s against my team, or to see the Yankees wrap up the pennant while the Sox are struggling on the South Side.
So painful, in fact, that he has to block it out from his memory, along with the names of all the defeated players.
Okay, I promise I’ll lay off that joke for a while.
Although I do remember 2005, people -– (laughter) — so don’t get too comfortable.
I know I promised, but… damn. What a setup. He remembers 2005, but do you suppose there are any little details about it he doesn’t remember? Anything at all? Hmm. It is a mystery.
But for the millions of Yankees fans in New York and around the world who bleed blue, nothing beats that Yankee tradition: 27 World Series titles; 48 Hall of Famers — a couple, I expect, standing behind me right now.
This part of the speech actually confused me. I expect it made a bit more sense if you were actually watching the speech instead of reading the transcript, but the way it’s put here makes it sound like he thinks Yogi Berra, Dave Winfield, and the ghost of Frank Chance’s 1913 season are sneaking up behind him.
From Ruth to Gehrig, Mantle to DiMaggio, it’s hard to imagine baseball without the long line of legends who’ve worn the pinstripes.
It’s also hard to imagine baseball without Manny Ramirez falling on his ass trying to catch a lazy fly ball.
But what people tend to forget -– especially after watching their teams lose -– is that being a Yankee is as much about character as it is about performance; as much about who you are as what you do.
Which is why the Yankees signed legendary character guys A.J. Burnett, Randy Johnson, Gary Sheffield, and Jason Giambi. Don’t be fooled by their cartoon numbers — they were solid-gold stand-up dudes.
It takes a certain kind of player to thrive in the pressure cooker of Yankee Stadium -– somebody who is poised and professional, and knows what it takes to wear the pinstripes.
Poised and professional. I couldn’t have described Paul O’Neill any better.
It takes somebody who appreciates how lucky he is, and who feels a responsibility for those who are less fortunate.
You mean like somebody who would change positions to accommodate a new teammate who plays the same position and is much, much better at it? Because the Yankees don’t have anybody like that.
That said, we know goddamn well what you’re about to say. So get it out of your system already.
So it’s somebody like Mark Teixeira.
We know, we know. Jeter’s the bestest. He’s the greatest, smartest, most sexiest — wait, what? Teixeira? Are you going off the script? You seem not to be following the Official Yankees Praise Guide.
Before he was a three-time Golden Glove winner, Mark was a 21-year-old kid fresh out of Georgia Tech. Shortly after signing his first Major League contract, Mark visited his old high school and asked how much it would cost to set up a scholarship in the name of a friend who had been killed in a car accident. And when he was told it would cost $75,000, he wrote a check on the spot. He’s been funding that scholarship ever since -– helping to make the dream of college a reality for students in his hometown.
That’s adorable. But did you just say "Golden Glove?" Because that’s a boxing tournament. You’re really hilariously bad at pretending to be a baseball fan, Barrold.
Someone like Jorge Posada. The first time I met Jorge was with his wife. Where’d Jorge go?
Of course, I’m being wildly unfair and taking this exerpt out of context, but I think it’s hilarious. And I can’t help but imagine the president — who has never heard of Jorge Posada — trying to fake an acquaintance at that first meeting. "Well, I’ll tell you, when I was a kid, I liked all kinds of players. I’ve been a fan of Mexican players my whole life, but I grew up in Jakarta, where of course we followed Asian players a lot more closely. But when I moved back to Illinois, that’s when I started being a serious Mexican player fan. Especially Yor-jee."
Five-time All Star, one of the emotional leaders of this team, but he’s also the father of a son born with a rare birth defect that has required numerous surgeries and expensive treatments. And Jorge and his wife have made it their mission to reach out to families who aren’t as fortunate as they are -– offering resources, providing a support network for parents, helping children who suffer from the disease live healthy and happier lives. And so we’re very proud of the kind of work that Jorge has done.
Derrek Lee did the same thing, which is why he is also such a big part of the Yankees championship.
And of course then there’s Jeter.
Sportsman of the Year, according to Sports Illustrated, and you can see why — passed Lou Gehrig to become the all-time Yankee hit leader.
Also because he’s a fine piece of manflesh.
And then somebody like Joe -– a proud son of Illinois, I want to note.
Unlike Barack Obama, who is from Hawaii.
As the youngest manager in Yankee history to win a World Series, Joe is still in better shape than some of the players.
Are you hitting on Joe Girardi?
I just want to — he looks good.
Uh. Okay. That’s… a little creepy there, Barrold.
But what makes Joe proudest is HOPE Week — a program where the Yankees help make a difference in the lives of folks in need. Last year, Joe put out a sign-up sheet for anyone who wanted to participate. And when he checked the next day, every player, manager and coach had written their name down. The team ended up winning all five games that week -– a fact that Joe doesn’t think was a coincidence.
I kind of do. Am I alone on this one?
In the end, that’s what makes the Yankees special. It’s not simply the names on the roster or the size of their trophy case -– it’s the people underneath the pinstripes that set this team apart. It’s the players and coaches who shoulder a legacy unlike any other, but who share a belief that anybody blessed with first-class talent also has an obligation to be a first-class person.
I love what a fuck-you that is to everybody else in baseball, very much including the president’s professed own favourite team. It’s not just that the Yankees are good at baseball, guys, it’s that they’re inherently better human beings than you. Which is why they don’t ever drive drunk and then act like frat boy shitheels when they get arrested.
That’s what being a Yankee is all about.
What, being a frat boy shitheel? Yeah, I suppose it kind of is, huh.
Now. As my good friend Barrold Obama would say, let me be clear. The president mentions four players from this championship team by name: Jorge Posada, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, and "Rivera." Can you believe that there’s actually a scandal erupting because he didn’t mention A-Rod? Hey kids, there are twenty other players on the 25-man roster he didn’t mention either, including World Series MVP Hideki Matsui. And as much as I like the president’s total ignorance of baseball, even I would not allege that he doesn’t know who Alex Fransisco Benedict Rodriguez is.
Here’s the deal. I like to make fun of president Dum-dum as much as the next guy. But, really, this isn’t a deliberate slight against A-Rod. He named four guys, about three of whom he had quasi-inspirational stories to tell. Does he have an inspirational A-Rod story? "The thing I like about Rodimus is that he took steroids, lied about it, blamed it on his no-good shit brother, got a really shitty fake tan, and then ditched his wife and kids for Madonna. That’s what it means to be a True Yankee!"
I mean, that kind of is what it means to be a True Yankee, but it’s not as positive.
I’m playing Secret Armory of General Knoxx right now; skipped right the hell over Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot because, hey, the Ring of Blood bullshit in the original game was awful, and I have no desire to pay ten bucks for basically a whole lot more of that. So how’s General Knoxx stack up?
Well, the game parts are good — fighting bandits,
Space Marines Crimson Lance, and alien beasties in pretty much the same general encounter setup as in the original. It even adds a bunch of new mobs, like the Dreadnought Devastator! So if you liked Borderlands, hey! You’ll probably like this too. The problem is that they hide those game bits at the ends of long fucking roads. So you get in the stupid car, drive for four years, and then you get to shoot some mobs for a while. As an added bonus, General Knoxx continues the design philosophy of Dr. Ned and only contains one New-U: right at the beginning. So you can’t even fucking fast-travel past the awful driving bits to get to the game bits. This is especially annoying when you need to get to the Sunken Sea, which is at the end of a long roadway with a long detour through a scaffolding area full of mobs. You can’t skip it, and you can’t fast-travel over it, so it takes like a half an hour to get through. And there’s no fucking excuse for the game making me spend a half-hour getting to the level. This is especially a problem for those of us who are grown-ups and only have a couple of hours to play. And it’s just goddamn insulting how, the first time you zone into the Sunken Sea, the game alerts you to new quests that have just become available back in the hub area.
The story is about… something. I didn’t really pay attention; I mean, it’s Borderlands. The story is "shoot mans and get hepix." I guess the Crimson Lance is trying to kill me, which doesn’t qualify as a new development in my book. To prevent them from killing me, I’ve come up with this ingenious plan: kill them first. But apparently I’m not too bright, since I needed some other chick to think of that for me. Just like in everything prior, General Knoxx’s mobs have no idea I’m a woman, and keep referring to me as "him," which leads to the most entertaining story bit in the game: the one I make up where I need to bust some heads to get some recognition in this misogynist border colony. What’s a super-powered ninja assassin girl gotta do to get over on this hick planet, anyhow?
In slightly more seriousness, I kind of miss the over-the-top camp of Dr. Ned. General Knoxx goes back to the original formula of mostly-gritty-with-touches-of-badly-done-humor. Seriously, Gearbox, maybe Valve will give you a favorable rate and you can rent Chet and Erik for a week to punch up your dialogue.
So is General Knoxx worth your ten bucks? Depends on your tolerance for the driving bullshit. Personally, I hope the actual gameplay gets a little bit thicker as I go along; I’ve had the thing for a while now and I’ve barely put a dent in it, since half my play time goes toward driving to the zone I need to be in. Have I mentioned how much that blows?
Playing more Borderlands; I just did the first DLC pack, the Zombie Island of Dr. Ned. It’s pretty good. The thing I liked the most about it was that the environments weren’t goddamn brown — everything was green and orange and spooky. And dark. Really, really dark. Dark to the point where it could be difficult to see the mobs, which, I think was part of the point — it’s taking a bit of a cue from survival horror and surrounding you with zombies, see. And making them hard to see makes them scarier, right?
The zombies are pretty fun. Being zombies, they’re very melee-centric (though they can vomit on you at short range, and a few types can throw barrels). And they come in big waves, so you better be goddamn ready to press A. As a siren, I found myself at a pretty sharp disadvantage, since speed and mobility are pretty much my whole game, and the zombies spawn all around you and mob you so as to limit how much you can move. Really, it’s a totally different style from the ranged-combat-centric mobs that dominate the original Borderlands.
The game’s humour is right about on par with the original, which is to say: it’s stilted and not very good, and the actors oversell it. Marcus does the intro and outro narration, and he’s still fairly funny when the dialogue permits, but, outside of that, the only funny bits that are actually funny relate to the titular character, Dr. Ned, and how he’s exactly the same as the original game’s Dr. Zed. He uses the exact same model and skin and voice, except that he has a giant outrageous fake mustache stuck to the outside of his surgical mask. That’s pretty funny. And there’s recurring dialogue about how he’s totally not the same character, which isn’t bad either.
The scenario’s not very long — maybe six to eight hours, which isn’t a ton — and there’s only the one New-U station right at the entrance, so any time you save and quit you’ll pick up right at the beginning (location-wise; it saves your progress through the quests, of course). The quests are mostly pretty standard, with one big goddamn annoyance; there’s a series of quests to bring some brains to this friendly zombie, and you can collect brains from any zombie you kill with a headshot. You can even pick the brains up if you don’t have the quests, which is nice. But there’s a cloud on the horizon: they don’t accumulate. So you can collect a whole shitload and think you’re doing great, and then you pick up the quest and your counter says goddamn 0/10. One or the other, Gearbox. Either I can pick the brains up and they count, or I can’t collect them at all. This is just obnoxious.