ATLANTA BRAVES: In the dark and humid recesses of a dark and empty locker room, A.J. Pierzynski crouched in the shadows, his loins quivering in anticipation. He’d spent the off-season pacing and yearning and trying to forget, but now the agony of denial was over: He was on his way. They’d never started so early in the year before, generally preferring to let their lust simmer on separate boilers until erupting in some nameless hotel room, but now he was leaving and it was time for an unexpected goodbye. Pierzynski was desperate—feral, even. His cock jumped when he heard the door slip shut, flushing to his elbows at the familiar footfall and jangle of keys. Wrapping his arms around a bench for stability, his knees protesting the pressure of kneeling, his pale white ass glowed in the dark. An offering, to him, to baseball, to staving off the inevitable. The footsteps stopped, swiftly followed by the tinkling metal sounds of a zipper coming down, a belt coming off.
“Don’t move,” the voice behind him said.
The belt crackled the silence, licking the flesh into puffy, pink ribbons. Pierzynski bit his lip, trying in panting desperation to still his hips.
“You’ll always be B.J. to me,” he said with a whimper, his mouth watering at the proximity to such a treat.
Melvin Upton grunted. “And you know what A.J. means to me.”
“I think you mean RJ?”
“Shut the fuck up, A.J. That mouth ain’t for talkin’.”
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: Having won three World Series in the past five years, the Giants have completed their transformation from quirky underdogs to obnoxious evil empire. Led by podunk, plum-simple farmboy Madison Bumgarner and America’s most boring face, Buster Posey, the Giants are sure to charm their fanbase of old white guys with goatees more than the addition of another wine tour near the center-field kale garden. The fans’ll be sipping smuggled bottles of Hess Collection Cabernet Sauvignon through orange and black facepaint all summer long, but, come November, they’ll put down the stemware long enough to riot through the burning streets of San Francisco.
TAMPA BAY RAYS: After his Woodstock-themed road trip ended in brown acid, water riots, and a disastrous rescue attempt by the National Guard that killed three players (though, unfortunately, not Josh Lueke), the Rays decided they’d had enough of manager Joe Maddon, opting to replace him with a baseball-managing app for the iPhone on which they’ve put some kooky glasses and a Hawaiian shirt and placed a glass of red wine in front of—a huge boost to team morale, and accoutrements integral to bolstering the myth that the app is some sort of wacky genius.
CHICAGO CUBS: Having replaced their baseball-managing app for the iPhone with Joe Maddon, the Cubs look to become the new youthful threat to civilization, decency, and good old American values like hard work, endless suffering, and goat-based curses. This team, which, for over a century, has always found fascinating new ways to lose, might find a way to win! But beware the new dark age of authoritarian coach worship and the outright deification of executives such a victory would usher in. Picture it: a precocious alabaster statue of Theo Epstein erected outside the hallowed grounds of Wrigley Field, where all batters’ walk-on music has been replaced with obscure Pearl Jam B-sides. There are worse things than 106-year-long curses.
NEW YORK METS: Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a giant named Bartolo Colon. The undisputed king of fat baseball, Bartolo ruled with a meaty, jovial hand. Once-retired, then magically rejuvenated with a non-FDA-approved injection of his own stem cells, the 40-year-old BFG of the game is scheduled to pitch opening day for the Mets, a team that kicked off spring training this year by having its veteran leadership lecture its youngsters about the deadly seriousness of lunch etiquette. But even if you aren’t one of the New York faithful afflicted with the very particular strain of Stockholm syndrome that inspires some measure of hope in this club year after year, to ignore the wonder that is Colon is a huge mistake, for the way Bartolo the Giant recklessly swings the bat around his robusticity represents everything that is good and true about baseball. (Sometimes his helmet falls off.)
KANSAS CITY ROYALS:
that bunting looks like pooping
but we bunt to win
OAKLAND ATHLETICS: At the end of the 2014 season, Josh Reddick’s ultimate white-boy scrotum made a special appearance in a team photo to celebrate clinching a wild-card spot. Truly, the image of the outfielder with his legs spread and over his head, taint hiding behind an upsettingly thin layer of multi-colored cotton, would have been enough, but to complete the look with a healthy portion of testicle escaping out the side was an unexpected gift to us all. This season, however, the team is struggling to contain what clubhouse sources have dubbed “the peeker.” Reddick’s testicle has been spotted hanging out all over the place, like under home plate, or hitching a ride on the brim of Brett Lawrie’s hat. There are concerns that the nut has started taking unnecessary risks, anxieties that only intensified after it was found floating in the water cooler. God help us if it learns to wink.
TEXAS RANGERS: The state of Texas prides itself on the relative largeness of its objects compared to the rest of puny America, and baseball is no exception. Manning first base in Arlington is Prince Fielder, an exquisite mountain of a man, so large as to inspire many a folk song describing his physical prowess and unlikely ability to both run and turn, often simultaneously. The man looks like a truck could run into him and total itself. Baseball bats crumble like chalk between his fingers, and legend has it that from the concrete that fractures beneath his footsteps sprout the most beautiful Texas roses. Sure, he may look like a soft, husky child in the adult pajama uniform of his chosen profession, but be not fooled by those soft pleats: his naked cover for ESPN the Magazine’s “The Body Issue” removes all doubt as to his god-like stature in a state already defined by its abundance.
I met a ball fan from a northern land
Who said: ‘A team with meaty legs of stone
Squat in the clay dust. Near them, on the grass,
Half foul, a shattered ball bat lies, whose wood,
And splintered shaft, and crack of cold command,
Tell that its hitter well those pitches read
Which yet survive, stamped on these useless fouls,
The hand that swung them and the ump that called.
And on the jumbotron these words appear—
“We are the Philadelphia Phillies, team of teams:
Look on our runs, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing besides remains. Round the bases
Of that colossal field, boundless and bare
The lone and seldom runs stretch far away.’
Apologies to Shelley.
COLORADO ROCKIES: They sell pot brownies at the stadium.
MONTREAL RAYS: Soon.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS: Some high-profile acquisitions and can’t-miss prospects are sure to excite Jays fans for at least a few weeks until the green turf turns red with blood and the ligament-leaching husks of multiple players are carried from the field before the eyes of hundreds of onlookers who will raise the cry of “I TOLD YOU THIS TEAM SUCKED” before their poisonous spirits rise screaming towards the heavens only to be blocked by the roof, which has been stuck in the closed position since a cloud was spotted in mid-May. The remaining players will fall helplessly under the pernicious influence of the locker-room cult led by Jose Bautista, whose poor leadership has often made local sportswriters question his commitment to hockey.
SAN DIEGO PADRES: No one ever paid much attention to the Padres. Well, we can think of another person who no one ever paid much attention to. A young man who also liked camouflage and seemed pretty unsure of his place in the world. But one day he decided he couldn’t take it anymore and, boy, he sure got everyone’s attention. Do you know who that young man was? That’s right. It was Lee Harvey Oswald. And while the Padres haven’t assured themselves of a page in the history books just yet, they’re well on their way.
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: After giving up on their plan to build a team around grit, hustle and nevergiveupativeness, the Diamondbacks have cleaned house and replaced the roster with a sad Republican pony, three mangy dogs, and a feral sewer cat, all of whom had to provide their own jerseys. But don’t count the D-Backs out just yet: the state-mandated policy of forcing any visiting Latino player to present their papers to the umpires at each base before being allowed to touch or pass it and again after the call is made and then again between plays is sure to give the team a home-field advantage that may make their losses slightly less of a foregone conclusion.
NEW YORK YANKEES: All eyes will be on Alex Rodriguez. This consummate sportsman took last season off to avoid distracting people from the Derek Jeter retirement orgy, and instead spent his time urinating on rugs and working on a chapbook of erotic science fiction-themed poetry, tentatively titled “Tears of a Yankee.” But now he’s back, and although he’s already caused spring-training controversy by refusing to wear a shirt while playing third base and pants while batting or anything except his mime makeup while running the bases, A-Rod seems poised to have a bounce-back season. The Yankees will have to swallow their pride and wash it down with the $61-million that seemed like a good idea at the time. A-Rod, meanwhile, will keep swallowing whatever he wants—deer antlers, horse hooves, dog whiskers. Anything for that edge.
BOSTON RED SOX: World Series champions one year, last place the next, no one is quite sure why to hate this team anymore. Luckily, their fans are there to answer that question. Noisy, misguided, and defined by a totally false sense of being persecuted underdogs, this fan-base remains one fedora away from becoming a men’s rights organization.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS: Fans who were concerned about the Church of Scientology’s secret acquisition of the club from the Source Family have had those fears put to bed. Pending litigation has been quietly dispensed with, and now they’re happy. We are all very happy. And why not? Intense off-season work with the conditioning staff has given the Dodgers the only all-Operating Thetan outfield in baseball, and a stadium refurbishing means this is the only ballpark offering a free audit to every single fan upon entry. (No exceptions, consult the back of your ticket.) Fans arriving before the third inning will also receive a completely free Mark Ultra VIII E-Meter, which will only cost around $89.99 and can be paid for in seventeen easy installments of $48.65. Make sense? Of course not! Stick around until the seventh inning to find out why, and you’ll also be eligible for a window in your Sea Org sub-basement tranquility pod! And those lucky fans who can sit patiently in their seats until the ninth … never mind. The Church of Scientology knows its limits.
MILWAUKEE BREWERS: The Brewers added Adam Lind. He used to play in a dome. He called it “the Dome.” Its real name was “the Rogers Centre.” That always sounded a lil’ fancy to Adam. So he called it “the Dome.” Now he plays in Milwaukee. Wherever that’s supposed to be. Just follow the bus, Adam. It’ll take you there.
WASHINGTON NATIONALS: Like the free market, the Nationals look great on paper. In the real world, though, occasional high-profile successes mask creeping infrastructural decay and Stephen Strasburg never pitches in the playoffs. But before fans of these fat cats in Washington burn their flags, grow their hair long and finally pick up their dirty clothes and move to every zoned out drug addict’s pipe dream of “a nice farm up north” they should … actually, Plan B sounds pretty good. I hear that farm is peaceful.
HOUSTON ASTROS: This team turned a lot of heads when they looked to the baseball blogosphere to repopulate their front office, but that excitement quickly turned to disappointment when the Astros had another terrible year, in spite of a superb fielding value of utility infielders to dollars spent on concessions ratio (FVUI$SCRAT). A subsequent gambit to recruit their scouting department from the ranks of Weird Twitter fell similarly flat when half the team was put on the disabled list after a colony of angry bees poured from the mouth of the team horse during the first subsection of a nonexistent inning played in the static of a radio station no one has ever listened to. In response, the Astros have turned to Tumblr, quickly replacing their entire coaching staff with a coven of topless, tweencore, gothic health witches. The team is still terrible but now the hill in center-field glitters and has skulls.
SEATTLE MARINERS: Now featuring as many as two hitters, Seattle is projected to score upwards of 0.74 runs a game, well above the -0.07 total “King” Felix Hernandez and the rest of the pitching staff actually need to win, and a huge increase over the -0.04 runs per outing they managed to ride to a 87-75 record in 2014. The big question this season is how this strong pitching team will adapt to MLB’s new hitter-friendly rules, such as a run clock that alters the score based on the time the batter and pitcher spend staring lovingly into each other’s eyes, and the assignment of walks based on the frequency and care with which the catcher adjusts the pitcher’s jockstrap. All of these rules are subject to slow-motion instant replay and are best enjoyed with soft music, a glass of red wine, and the coffee-infused lubricant of your choice.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: The Cardinals find themselves home to one of the last living Molinas. More important than winning games is convincing this strange and endangered creature to breed in captivity—a feat that no team has yet accomplished. Should the Cardinals succeed in pairing up this notoriously shy catcher with a quick-footed and stocky mate, they might just have a shot at repopulating the minor leagues with another generation of these cuddly and slow-moving catchers. Sadly, though, even in the event of successful reproduction, most Molinas die of injuries sustained in the crib while blocking their first 80 mph pitches or are skinned by poachers to make catcher’s mitts, which many big-leaguers believe to be lucky. The Molinas may be beyond rescue.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM: They have sunshine, a beautiful ballpark, the best player in the game, a good chance to win their division and, yet, Josh Hamilton can’t keep his shit together, and plays for an organization that won’t even bother to pretend it’s on his side. Eighty-three-million dollars buys a lot of cocaine, Josh. The Angels owners know that. That’s why they want it for themselves. Just think about it: Eighty-three-million dollars buys enough Red Bull to make your eyes turn to stone, enough juice to make your intestines turn to water, and an exclusive audience with Texas Jesus to turn it all back to normal again. Just put in your time, wave away at whatever pitch you want, and GET. PAID. After you cash those giant checks—after they clear and the money is all yours—then, and only then, do what you want. Snort the baselines on Old-Timers’ Day for all we care. As long as the Angels aren’t paying, they’re not going to preach about it. Just smarten up, pal.
PITTSBURGH PIRATES: The Jolly Roger will rise again, just not in Pittsburgh. Federal authorities recently raided the team’s offices after receiving claims of copyright infringement from Disney over the unattributed and illegal use of images and intellectual property associated with the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride and movie franchise. Agents also seized the Caribbean Sea all printed materials containing the words “the,” “jolly,” and “roger.” Among the confiscated works was a little known but highly regarded Oscar Wilde comedy of manners set on the high sea entitled The Jolly Rogering. (Variety reports that Disney plans to adapt the play into “a family-friendly movie and theme-park ride for children of all ages.”) In the meantime, the Pittsburgh team is rumored to be in Costa Rica or something.
MIAMI MARLINS: The Marlins made news this offseason by signing All-Star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton to a $325-million contract. Only moments after the deal was done, though, Miami-Dade County officials—all of whom have denied to the Securities and Exchange Commission ever having met Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, or even hearing of him, or the Marlins, or baseball—agreed to pay most of the contract and quietly passed a law that would make Stanton financially responsible for any damage he inflicts upon the Marlins’ publicly funded stadium and its staff. These costs should be astronomical. Last year, in just a single game, Stanton maimed two exotic dancers in center-field with a three-run home-run and fatally electrocuted a dolphin when a foul ball knocked one of the neon palm trees in the stadium’s famous club district into a black-light swim-up bar, where it also damaged two animatronic statues depicting the famous South Beach knife-fight between Pablo Escobar and Don Johnson. The combination of Stanton’s liability for property damage, medical bills for wounded staff, and responsibility for replacing any deceased sea creatures with new ones of equal or greater value is projected to result in the outfielder owing Loria upwards of $100-million—which is, of course, a fraction of the amount Miami-Dade County itself has already paid the owner.
CLEVELAND INDIANS: Yup, they’re still calling themselves that.
BALTIMORE ORIOLES: 2015 is the year that historians commonly view as the end of Buck Showalter’s baseball career and the beginning of his political career. Buck the Bloody, as he later became known, rose to power on the strength of his Seven Nation Army during the Terror Ebola Danger Crisis and ruled the eastern seaboard for sixteen years before being assassinated by his infamous Orange Guard during a private orgy at the November Bacchanal. His severed head was displayed on Baltimore’s Cathedral of Doom (formerly the Baltimore Convention Center) and stayed there until he was posthumously absolved of his crimes by priests of the Worm God Zero shortly before the Diet of Crabs and the reformation it addressed. A time traveler will attempt to assassinate Buck during the All-Star break, but, rather than thwart his rule, this plot will set into motion the events that guarantee it. Subsequently, all future time-travel murder vacations will be banned throughout the empire. Except for one.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX: This team continues to be the Schrödinger’s Cat of professional baseball franchises. Good? Bad? Neither? Both? Just flip a coin, release the radioactive particle and open the season. It’ll be something. Probably a dead cat.
MINNESOTA TWINS: The wind blows cold in Minnesota and it blows hard. A grizzled old man stands near first base. He lights a pipe, shivers, and picks some frozen snot from his yellowed beard. “I’m Joe Mauer,” he says. “You might remember me. I used to be Buster Posey.” You stop listening.
CINCINNATI REDS: Well, I hope you’re happy. You don’t have Ol’ Dusty to boss around no more. And you saw where that got you last year. Nowhere. But Ol’ Dusty was willing to let bygones be bygones. Waited all offseason by the phone, just waitin’ for that call. And it never came. So now it’s your turn, Cinci. Just you wait. You wait until the end of this September. Wait ‘til Joey Votto takes a walk with one out and a man on third in the ninth inning and the next hitter hits right into a double play and you’re sitting there, looking at your calculator instead of watching the Cubs pour champagne all over each other and you’re tryin’ to figure how you lost the division by only one little run. You wait and you remember: You got no one to blame but your own damn selves.
DETROIT TIGERS: The season opens with a shot of of a partially burned down house in Detroit. There’s a NO TRESPASSING sign on the door. Inside, ailing Tigers owner Mike Illich lays in his bed. He whispers “World Series.” No one has the nerve to tell him. A baseball drops from his hand and rolls across the floor.
Until he dies
the magnificent endlessly rolling ovens will pour out pizzas for him, the whirring everygame pitchers will spit and scratch for him,
a Little Caesar grown old with spending
never man enough to cross the Rubicon.