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(*Note – this post was originally sent in the form of an annual letter to Doug Miller, a writer for MLB.com)

Miller Time,

Can you smell that? Are your nostril canals clear enough, your de-hybernating brain awake enough to process the sudden, miraculous sinal and mental evacuation of all of that impacted winter gunk — the miserable cold snaps, the dank, depressing sunless afternoons, the hopeless, useless muck just outside your door that even Japanese Afrin can’t burrow through?

Sniff again. Do it this way: Remove all of your clothing save for your stripped stirrups and jock strap. Now go outside, find a baseball field, identify home plate, and lie down on top of it, on your belly. Take each pointer finger and thumb set, apply a strong pinch to the flare in each nostril, and pull them as far out wide and long as possible. Jam your face down like a virgin drowning in the creamy flesh of his first hookers chest onto the chalk line that runs from home plate, down the first base line, and out to the foul pole in right field. Now inhale deeply, deeper than you’ve ever dared to breath. Inhale like a man whose been forced to live underwater for ten years.

Crawl along, inhaling the chalk line. Let the cool, pebbled dirt rub away each of the sickeningly pale dermal layers on your winter-marbled belly until identifiably undigested chunks of Ho-Ho’s and entire In and Out Burgers (Miller Time style – that secret concoction which you invented out of sheer boredom and spite this winter while covering the sweaty business that was underway at Pablo Sandoval’s fat camp – the one with the grilled onions, Spread, and melted cheese in the soda) begin falling away. Get down on that line, Miller, spiritually down, down to bones and blood, muscle and sinew. Feel the pressure of winter release with each massive nasal vacuum.

Are the sprinklers on in the outfield? Good. Go sit on one. It is a well known fact in the proctological sciences that an average human American male compacts his bowels three times beyond their elasticated limits during the winter months, when there is less to do, and more time to eat. What is not as well known is the link between empty bowels and a clear head. Thus, sprinkler head enema. Works every time for me.

Still a bit hazy in the melon? Stroll confidently over to the mound and find the rosin bag. Take a big bite out of it so that the contents leak slowly out, into your mouth. Spend a minute gargling. Maybe even line up on the mound, look into home plate, and give it hurl. Don’t have a ball handy? Use your reporters notebook, the one that you judiciously stuck into the sproingy band of your Bike jock strap, in case a good story idea came to you. Fire it in there. Watch the pages take wing and flutter about, each one taking wing in a different way at once, causing your notebook to go in a totally unpredictable and irreplicable direction – just like each and every baseball season inevitably does.

Take a look around you at the natural wonders occurring on any baseball field in spring: the dizzy bees flitting about, bathing like rich Greek’s in dandelion pollen; the ants traversing the infield, careful to burrow under the chalk line that you have just nasally obliterated. Even the ants no the sanctity of the superstitions. See the worms slowly digesting the few remaining dregs of last October’s stashes of chew spit. Nature has a way of replenishing stockpiles just when her children need it most. This year will be no different.

Ah yes, spring is here, and with it, the Lord of Fun  has decreed that there will be baseball. There will be flashing cleats, splintered pine, spinning leather, stained polyester, bloody teeth, salted hat brims, screaming, yelling, hooting, hollering, “Hey now, throw it around here!” “C’mon Five! Get your cuts up there!” “Throw to the glove!” “Watch the gap!” “Dead pull!” “Peanuts. Beer here. I got pee-nuts!…” Now can you smell it? Then smell THIS!

Corby Anderson’s fearlessly lucent 2011 Major League Baseball predictions:

I’ve noticed that most of these lists start at what many consider to be the nerve center of Major League Baseball, The AL East. So, in part because I am a proud, if weary member of an increasingly rare breed – a stubborn western hippy dirtbag, and as such I abjectly reject the notion that money can buy you happiness, while simultaneously holding on to the old American axiom that the best products are homegrown, where you can monitor the chemical intake, exposure, and potency firsthand, rather than rely on someone else to do it for you. So, let’s start with the NL West, where Champions live.

Fearlessly predicted 2011 NL West:

San Francisco -93-69

Colorado- 90-72

Los Angeles- 80-82

San Diego- 69-93

Arizona- 64-98

NL Central:

Cincinnati 98-64

St. Louis 89-73

Milwaukee 88-74

Chicago 81-81

Pittsburgh 66-96

Houston *0-162

NL East:

Atlanta 95-70

Philadelphia 94-71

Washington 84-78

Florida 82-80

New York 59-103

Now, on to the American League. Starting out West, where active young arms seem to grow on trees…

AL West:

Oakland 90-72

Texas 88-74

Anaheim 88-74

Seattle 60-102

AL Central:

Minnesota 99-63

Chicago 92-70

Detroit 73-89

Cleveland 64-96

**Kansas City 1-161

AL East:

Boston 91-71

New York 90-72

Toronto 89-73

Baltimore 88-74

Tampa Bay 87-75

After a thrilling season, one remarkable for both it’s precipitously declining lack of extra base hits, and an enormous, far-reaching HGH scandal, San Francisco Giant catcher Buster Posey’s 60 game hitting streak, and Roy Halladay’s consecutive no-hitters, and two crazy races in the standings: The first in the AL East, where each team is seperated by but one game, and another, stranger race. The race to win just one game, between the hapless Royals and the hopeless Astros, with the Royals winning their final game at Minnesota, in the process denying the Twins their 100th victory.

The playoffs arrive with three new teams representing the American League and the same teams from the prior year from the NL, though shuffled in matchup due to the Red’s incredible mid-season run of 24 straight victories and subsequent seeding due to their preeminence over the rest of the NL.

Divisional Series

San Francisco vs. Philadelphia (Wild Card)

Cincinnati vs. Atlanta

Boston vs. Chicago (Wild Card)

Oakland vs. Minnesota

League Championship Series

Philadelphia vs.  Cincinnati

Oakland vs. Chicago

Will this iconic, celebratory scene be repeated in the year 2011? You can bet your Red ass it will!

World Series

Cincinnati vs. Chicago

My Fearless and Lucid prediction is that the Cincinnati Reds will win the 2011 World Series in 7 games. Jay Bruce will match his overall NL MVP award with a shiny World Series MVP for his stellar glovework and 8 RBI’s in the World Series. Bronson Arroyo, sporting a nasty looking Fu Manchu mustache, will shut out the White Sox in game seven, winning 1-0, and Ardolis Chapman will save all four Reds victories.

NL MVP – Jay Bruce (.342, 36 home runs, 121 RBI)

AL MVP – Kevin Youklis (.330, 31 home runs, 113 RBI, 101 runs, 201 walks)

NL Cy Young – Roy Halladay (21-4, 2.86 era, 202 K, back to back no-hitters)

AL Cy Young – Gio Gonzalez (19-5 2.80 era, 190 K)

NL Rookie of the Year – Ardolis Chapman, Cin.

AL Rookie of the Year – Chris Sale, Chi.

NL Manager of the Year – Dusty Baker, Cin.

AL Manager of the Year – Terry Francona, Bos. (though Ozzie Guillen deserved it)

So there it is, Dougy Fresh. One gloriously pungent pile of fearless predictions, lucidely conceived, with the omnipotent vision of a crystal-eyed seer. Can you see it? Better yet, can you smell it?

-C

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*This story was originally published a year ago in a start-up sportswriting enterprise called Bleacherreport.com.

At the time, I thought that the idea of everyman having a voice in the sports writing world was a positive situation – that more content would mean a diversity of opinion, new news, etc. But I soon came to find that it was just a barely disguised professional rip-off, where three or four fat-faced nerds raked in multi-million dollar partnerships with major media companies on the backs of writers who didn’t make a dime for their efforts. And what content has made its way to this sham of a “news” wire has turned out to be more amateurish than a clown school.

And yet, for a brief spell, I published there. And what does that say? You be the judge.

** One more point in regards to this story – it is a topical amalgamation of current events as they stood on a particular week one year ago – an attempt to show that I had the ability to draw from a wide sweep of sources to weave a cohesive story line together explaining life as we know it to be. I am pretty sure that, in this case, I failed…

Real Time: Where Shakey, Superman, Rush and Arod Chase The Pig

By Corby Anderson

It’s going to be the year of the sharp elbow and the quick tongue.” – George W. Bush

Marina, California – (August 29, 2009) – Somewhere, out on the morning breeze that flows out of the Pacific towards the impossibly green, rolling coastal strip just south of Point Arena, California, a long slab of fine American metal slides by. Shakey is inside, singing his latest batch of insightful, foresightful songs, in real time.

The term is emphasized several times in the video. Real Time.

Time for reality. Time for instant art, instant feedback, the growling, grungy stuff that the driver has made a partial living cultivating, like bacterial cultures growing hairy in the gleaming works of his guitar apparatus.

The video that Shakey, better known as musician Neil Young, is filming of himself while cruising the California coast in his “Linc Volt”, a 1959 convertible Lincoln powered by innovative hybrid technology, and singing these new songs will make its way to his Garage, a website that has probably done more to budge the American psyche towards the high road than any other music-based site has.

Once posted, this new video will join in ethereal form with the rest of Today, where all manner of strange items await absorption for the curious news seeker.

Odd news items abound today in Real Time, such as the angry elbows of Superman, mild mannered Dwight Howard by day, sinus shattering terror by night. In minutes, he managed to take out two-fifths of the starting lineup for his NBA team, the Orlando Magic during a hotly contested playoff match up with the Philly side.

His first awful act came in the form of a vicious swipe at the prominent cheek structure of Sam Dalembert, who made like a duck and saved himself several months of painless smiles. Howard, whose physique represents the perfect male, had Michelangelo found a large enough slab of marble to carve, came down from a rebound attempt and wiped his diamond-tipped jackhammer elbow across the distressed bridge of Dalembert, who narrowly avoided facial reconstruction surgery.

Howard’s teammate, Courtney Lee was not so lucky. Minutes after the attempted manslaughter of Dalembert, Howard’s elbow caught his own teammate in the face as he fought for yet another rebound.

This was just a glancing blow, but the impact was enough to send Lee home in a facial cast, sounding strangely like an urban Willie Nelson when asked to describe the play that injured him, putting his participation in serious question for the rest of the series. Soon after, Superman was grounded, forced to wrap his pile driver arms in kryptonite for Game 6, which he was told to skip by NBA commissioner David Stern.

But if Superman could fly, it is doubtful that he would. No sir.

Flying is out these days, for a variety of reasons, first and foremost is the Swine Flu, which has grounded most business travel not just to the blue agave flats of Mexico, where the flu reportedly spontaneously combusted, but all over the United States, and the World. Not even Air Force One is in the air today, despite a perfectly clear spring day over the obviously gun-shy island town of Manhattan.

No, the flu has wiped out school tests, and sporting events, drug runs, and illegal immigration. The whole world is holding their breath, hoping not to catch “The Pig.”

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical stocks are strong, and so are those of 3M and other masking agents. Yet doctors are convinced that the masks are worthless, other than to give some semblance of confidence, a shred of hope to a doubly stunned populace that is still trying to figure out how to pay the cable bill with an unemployment check that has yet to arrive.

And on Capitol Hill, the swine are eating themselves, a rare side-effect of the H1N1 virus not seen anywhere other than Washington, D.C. Congressional Republicans are dizzy with welling venom towards their former partier Arlen Specter, who yesterday went full-Brutus on the GOP, switching to the Democratic Party. The Republicans are nearly insane with power-envy, forced to sit in the corner and pout as every hallmark of their failed worldview is dismantled by the “socialists” in charge now.

Rush Limbaugh, who has emerged from the Republican dung heap as the strongest pig standing, is reportedly so furious that he lined up a herd of small ponies outside of his Florida studio and forced himself to pet the whole herd until he could calm down enough to go live again and tell Specter “good riddance,” and to “take John McCain and his daughter Janet Reno” with him.

McCain shot back a Twitter, an astounding event unto itself, that said simply, “Red till I’m Dead baby!” which might have raised a few eyebrows back when McCain’s congressional career was just getting off the ground.

Fox News covered the news by convening a panel of youthful tyrants, including “writer/comedian” Alison Rosen, who, in attempting to criticize Janeane Garafalo for her comments linking Limbaugh to Hitler, told a worldwide Fox audience that “Hitler might have also been a tender lover, bad for the Jews, but…”

And this passes for news coverage these days, in Real Time. It is a magical time, a time when the Governor of the Great State of Texas declares publicly that he might just think it a good idea for Texas to spilt from the union, just two months after their Favorite Son nearly ruined it in just eight years of overt corporateering.

When protesters call themselves “Teabaggers” and see nothing wrong with the term, yet howl in ironic protest over racism allegations when someone suggests that they may as well call themselves “Dirty Sanchez’s.” They seethe with indignation, seeking to find some new way to go with every old way to blame anything at all on the socialists and communists who have taken over their country with the aid of the left-wing media, Sean Penn, and Paris Hilton, who the tittering Republicans seem fixated on for some reason.

Meanwhile the Yankees sit at 10-10. A rough start, punctuated by the foul discovery that their billion dollar stadium is both unfillable, due to the overpriced tickets, several thousand of which they attempt to sell for more than $500 per game, and also uncontrollable, witnessed by the flocks of fly balls that have gone for home runs due to the unprecedented wind-tunnel effect that the new stadium construction inadvertently, and karmically created.

The Yankee winds, which may indeed simply be the ghost of Lou Gehrig giving his opinion of the overwrought economical monstrosity that the Yanks now represent, have neutralized the effectiveness of their new, free-market pitching staff, which cost them over $300 million dollars this off season to build.

And that is on top of the $300 million dollars that they paid Alex Rodriguez last year, just before he was outed for being a steroid user. He countered those allegations by at first denying them firmly in a softly lit interview with Katie Couric on 60 minutes, and then attacking the reputation of the reporter that wrote the now-famous story about A-Rod’ alleged positive drug test in the 2003 season, Sports Illustrated’s Selena Roberts, and finally by donning a Mr. Rogers sweater and tearfully admitting to Peter Gammons that he indeed had dabbled in the juice, but only in 2003.

Back in Real Time, Robert’s new book, A-rod is in the news today, along with Superman’s fearsome elbows, Shakey’s Lincoln, and the continued move to the far right by the Republican Party, as allegations pile up that Rodriguez not only continued to take steroids after coming over to the Yankee’s from the Texas Rangers, but that all the way back in high school he was suspected of doping.

Wherever the third-baseman actually is, Vail, or Tampa, or the Circus (where he was seen recently, narcissistically kissing himself in the workout mirror) “recovering from necessary surgery”, it is likely that Alex Rodriguez is feeling pretty exposed, trapped in the biggest shit storm of Real Time.

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Semenuk scorches field to win Sea Otter Classic Dual Stunt Pro title

By Corby Anderson 

 

Laguna Seca, CA – (April 18, 2009) Canadian rider Brandon Semenuk used every ounce of energy that he could muster to pour on the pedals and shred the competition Sunday in the SRAM Dual Stunt Pro race on an unseasonably hot Central California day.

 

Dual Stunt is a newly named format, which pits riders against one another head-to-head in a timed race back and forth across a 400-foot dirt and wood obstacle course.

 

“Stunts”, per se, are not scored as points and have no bearing on the winners, as each race consists of two separate sprint heats-combining the time differential of each, although there were plenty of random back flips, no-handed landings, and other freeride tricks thrown in to entertain the sun baked crowd.

 

Semenuk, atop his garishly glowing neon green and orange Trek, soaked up the transitions between the dirt and wooden box sections of the Jeff Lenosky and Kyle Ebbott designed course with startling ease, sailing to victory in the final race by airing over the 10-foot high steel shipping container well ahead of second place finished Kyle Strait.

 

Top-seeded Semenuk earned a victory check of $750 for his efforts, which was some solace after the day’s bracket of eight races left the lanky 17-year old exhausted to the point of near collapse due to effects of the searing heat.

 

“The sun was getting to me. I was just trying to reserve all energy, sit in the shade in between races and cool back down. When it was time to race, I just kept my head down and peddled away,” said Semenuk, a Whistler resident who won the first Sea Otter Classic title of his young career in an event that he didn’t even plan on entering.

 

“He was just here on vacation, here to spectate, and I talked him into it,” said Ebbett, who announced and organized the event. “Brandon used that ultra smooth style to his advantage today. He had power, but he used more of his grace and skill to win today,” added Ebbett.

 

The riding styles and physicality of the two finalists could not be more different, as the long and lanky Semenuk deftly poured himself over the course which lay littered with geometric wooden structured known alternately as “coffin boxes”, “nipples”, and “dragon spines.” After negotiating the array of tall and angular boxes, the riders made the turn at the end of the course on an upturned half-pipe known as a “curved wall” and sprinting back through the course to the finish which lay on the other side of the ramped container box.

 

Strait, the defending champion from Costa Mesa, California, was more bull than rabbit as the linebacker shaped rider muscled his way up and over the obstacles in a show of brute strength laced with subtle touches of flow. “This is my third different event in two days. I have been training more for World Cup downhill racing, and I was definitely tired, but I felt pretty good. I raced in the downhill just twenty minutes before this race,” said Strait, who takes home a $500 check for his work on the Stunt Course.

 

“Little movements here and there make a big difference when you are tired, and I sort of lost my fluidity in the end. He (Semenuk) ran pretty mistake free on both runs,” added Strait.

 

Third-place went to course co-creator Lenosky, who celebrated his 38th birthday by competing in a field of fifteen racers (one dropped out after a nasty mountain bike accident earlier in the day) who were still in diapers when he started racing. “The guy I lost to (Semenuk, in the semi’s) I have twenty years on,” said Lenosky. “To hang with any of these racers, I’m happy. I can’t complain!”

 

“Brandon is pretty much showing that he can do just about anything on a bike. The kid is just beyond. He is very impressive,” said Lenosky of the victorious young phenom.

 

Riding their heavily-stickered hard-tail mountain bikes with seats slung so low that it looks like they are riding on the back tire, the dirt jumping Dual Stunt contestants stood out as heavily tattooed, ragged t-shirt, crusty blue jean and studded belt wearing individualists amongst the sea of skin-tight, ultra-breathable logo wearing biking contestants from other Sea Otter events.

 

Semenuk exemplified the laid-back, hard-core style when he was asked to don the yellow victors jersey for the podium photographs. The instant that he left the stage, and with the envelope containing his day’s winnings sticking haphazardly out of his front pocket, and his sprocket shaped first-place medal hanging from a lanyard out of the other, he immediately tore off the prized jersey and jammed it into the back pocket of his rock-star tight, mud splattered grey Levi’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Leipheimer grinds out solo Sea Otter road race victory against powerful Bissell Team

By Corby Anderson

 

Laguna Seca, CA – Levi Leipheimer picked up a close victory Friday at the 2009 Sea Otter Classic road race in a competition that he deemed to be a “training run.”

 

The Santa Rosa resident was racing on his own without the benefit of his world-beating Astana team, but still had the superior fitness and experience to pull ahead of the  otherwise dominant Bissell Pro Cycling team at the top of the long, steep Fort Ord grade that marked the finish line.

 

Leipheimer decided early on that he was going to approach the Sea Otter road race as a robust training event in preparation for the summer race season, and in pre-race comments did not give himself much of a chance to win against the combined strength and cunning of the well-oiled Bissell boys, a commanding group of athletes who swept Thursdays Sea Otter Criterium. 

 

“This is home for me. I came up through the ranks doing these local races and I appreciate them. And I wanted to keep a light spring training schedule.  So, this is what I call free training – to get out there and battle with these guys. And it was tough,” said the three-time Amgen Tour of California champion after winning his first Sea Otter road race title.  “I’m just really enjoying springtime in California,” added Leipheimer, who is widely considered to be one of the top five riders in the world.

 

And indeed Friday was a spectacular one for a bicycle race. Refreshingly warm, with a slight coastal breeze to cool down the riders who might otherwise have overheated on the winding, hill studded 69-mile course that looped through the verdant sage and oak forests of the Fort Ord backcountry, the weather sparkled, but the star was clearly Leipheimer.

 

Using a wealth of world-class experience and a simple strategy – to stick closely with the Bissell team throughout, and then fight it out on the last hill, Leipheimer was able to chase down a series of breakaways led by Bissell standouts Paul Mach and San Jose’s Ben Jacques-Mayne, and Criterium winner Morgan Schmitt, who came in 3rd place in the road race.

 

“We had a pretty good day in the breakaways. We were trying to send as many guys up the road as possible to try and tire him out,” said Mach, who wound up in 2nd place after a spirited sprint up the two-mile long, eight percent grade to the finish. Leipenheimer pedaled away to win by four seconds.

 

Leipheimer proved to be more than up to the task of rabbit-chaser.

 

“We went pretty much into the bottom of the final hill together. Morgan went first, then Ben, and then I went and Levi was on my wheel. I tried to put in a dig at the end to see what would happen. But basically he (Leipheimer) just sat there, and then he passed me. He waited for a long time, and I guess that was payback for all of the pain that we put him through during the race,” said Mach.

 

 

 

 

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Cromwell powers ahead of pack in blistering pace to win Sea Otter Classic road race

by Corby Anderson

 

Laguna Seca, CA – Tiffany Cromwell dominated the women’s field of the Sea Otter Classic road race on Friday, winning by a wide margin after a successful solo breakout from a lively pack.

 

The 21-year old, originally from Australia, and now racing for Colavita/Sutter Home out of Petaluma, paced a field that included  Team Tibco’s Joanne Kiesanowski, who finished second for the second day in a row after missing out on first place by less than a bike length in Thursdays Criterium.

 

The Colavita team continued to own the middle spot of the Sea Otter Classic winner’s podium with Cromwell’s dominant win, adding to teammate Kelly Benjamin’s dramatic victory the day prior.

 

Catherine Cheatley added a third place finish to Colavita/Sutter Home’s haul, a remarkable feat considering that just three months prior she fractured her hip in a brutal Chinese Velodrome accident.

 

The victorious team also placed riders in the fourth and fifth positions, giving Colavita/Sutter Home four of the top five spots in the 49-mile road race that wound through a hilly circuit of Fort Ord backcountry that is as notable for its verdant, rolling oak and sage forests as it is for its undeveloped spaciousness.

 

The sprightly Cromwell took advantage of a gorgeously clear, warm California day, which was a change from blustery, rain-drenched Sea Otter Classic’s of recent vintage, to blaze ahead of the peleton on her own volition 

 

It was a bold breakaway that paid victorious dividends for the rising velo star.

 

With an accomplished team of strong riders to support her efforts, Cromwell found the running easy on the way to a thirty-four second victory.

 

“I looked back, and I was like, well, I’ll just give it a go! I knew I had to give it a good pace. I was pretty certain that I could hold them off, I just had to keep powering through to the end,” the Aussie Olympic hopeful said.

 

“We had a strong team here. It’s not always oriented towards one rider, it’s about which rider is strongest for the different types of circuits,” added Cromwell.

 

“As my husband says, ‘We didn’t come here to lose,’” said Benjamin, who dropped out of the road race early on after expending her energy reserves in the course of the previous days victory, and in anticipation of Saturday’s shorter Circuit races.

 

“Today was like a perfect day almost. I am really excited, a win is a win, and it’s always a good feeling,” added an exuberant Cromwell.

 

 

 

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