For the last seven-plus years, Bill Simmons has been writing for ESPN.com on many sporting topics. Since the Sports Guy is taking a full-summer leave of absence, many of you may be going through a bit of withdrawal at this point. So, what could be a better tribute than to rip off one of his best shticks, the one where he tenuously matches quotes from a particular movie to their sports equivalent? Here’s my favorite example. I’d like to link up this year’s events in the American League Central with a bunch of quotes from one of my favorite movies, O Brother Where Art Thou. It’s eminently quotable, and, as I hope you will see, surprisingly relevant to the task at hand.
1. “Damn! We’re in a tight spot!”
To the Cleveland Indians, who went from a game away from the World Series last year to solid cellar-dwellers this year. Everett salvaged his situation by being driven out of a burning barn, while the Indians tried to salvage theirs by trading free-agent-to-be C.C. Sabathia.
2. “Vernon here’s got a job. Vernon’s got prospects. He’s bona fide. What are you?”
To Josh Fields of the Chicago White Sox, who was the starter almost all last season at third base in Joe Crede’s absence, only to be left to rot in Triple A while Crede beefs up his free agent credentials in his walk year.
3. “Pete, the personal rancor reflected in that remark I don’t intend to dignify with comment. But I would like to address your general attitude of hopeless negativism. Consider the lilies of the goddamn field or… hell! Take at look at Delmar here as your paradigm of hope.” “Yeah, look at me.”
To my fellow Minnesota Twins fans, who started the season in rebuilding mode after trading ace Johan Santana and losing veterans Torii Hunter and Carlos Silva to free agency, but have stayed in contention to this point through a combination of luck, clutch hitting, chemistry and luck. We’ll see how well that mix serves them in the second half, but it’s certainly much better than expected so far.
4. “Well, ain’t this place a geographical oddity. Two weeks from everywhere!”
To Minneapolis, which is hosting the Republican National Convention this August, which will keep the Twins on the road for two solid weeks.
5. “Hot damn, we gotta find them boys and sign ‘em to a big fat contract. Hells Bells, Mr. Lund, if we don’t the goddamned competition will.” “Ohhhh mercy! Yes we got to beat that competition.”
To the Detroit Tigers, who broke the bank this offseason to bring in Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis, and Edgar Renteria, but still have a crummy pitching staff and a .500 record.
6. “You seek a great fortune, you three who are now in chains. You will find a fortune, though it will not be the one you seek. But first… first you must travel a long and difficult road, a road fraught with peril. Mm-hmm. You shall see thangs, wonderful to tell. You shall see a… a cow… on the roof of a cotton house, ha. And, oh, so many startlements. I cannot tell you how long this road shall be, but fear not the obstacles in your path, for fate has vouchsafed your reward. Though the road may wind, yea, your hearts grow weary, still shall ye follow them, even unto your salvation.”
To the Kansas City Royals, who had zero expectations at the beginning of the season, blasted out to a hot start, endured a 12-game losing streak, and rebounded to come into the break ten games under .500.
7. “He said we wouldn’t get it. He said we wouldn’t get the treasure we seek on account of our ob-stac-les.”
To Ozzie Guillen, who spent most of the first half complaining about the crummy roster he was saddled with, but whose club sits in first place at the break.
8. “Well Pete, I figured it should be the one with the capacity for abstract thought. But if that ain’t the consensus view, then hell, let’s put it to a vote.” “Suits me. I’m voting for yours truly.” “Well I’m voting for yours truly too.” [Everett and Pete look at Delmar for the deciding vote] “Okay… I’m with you fellas.”
To the Pale Hose, for the silly controversies last week over Pablo Ozuna’s release and Jermaine Dye getting into it in the dugout with Orlando Cabrera. It’s something different every day with these guys, and sooner or later they might have to start acting like a team.
9. “I’m not sure that’s Pete.” “Of course it’s Pete! Look at him!... We gotta find some kind of wizard to change him back.”
To Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano, who looked a lot like a toad in three early season starts coming off Tommy John surgery, but seems to have found a wizard at Triple A.
10. “Since we been followin’ your lead, we ain’t got nothing but trouble.”
Pete’s repudiation of Everett’s leadership goes to Livan Hernandez, who was signed by the Twins to be the “ace” of their staff. After a few solid starts to begin the season, Hernandez has been terrible. Hopefully, the Twins can find a gullible trading parter to take him off their hands to make room for Liriano on the staff.
11. “So you’re against me now too? Is that how it is boys? The whole world, God almighty, and now you.”
Everett’s disillusioned, as are Joe Borowski of the Indians and Juan Rincon of the Twins, released because of crummy performances.
12. “Well, as soon as we get ourselves cleaned up and we get a little smellum in our hair, why, we’re gonna feel 100% better about ourselves and about life in general.”
Everett is back in the saddle, and so were the Tigers as soon as Curtis Granderson got back to full health after a stint on the disabled list to start the year. After a 24-36 start, they’re 23-11 since to get back to .500.
13. “Thank you boys for throwin’ in that fricassee. I’m a man of large appetite, and even with lunch under my belt, I was feelin’ a mite peckish.”
To the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, who continues to overeat and underperform.
14. “Seems, Mr. Stokes is the kind of fella who wants to cast the first stone. Well, I’m with you folks. I’m a forgiving, Christian sort of man. And I say, if their rambunctiousness, and misdemeanoring, is behind them. It is, ain’t it, boys?” “Uh, yes sir, it is.”
To Jose Guillen, making the most of his latest chance in Kansas City on the field, and quickly wearing out his welcome off of it, by getting into a fight with pitching coach Bob McClure.
So, there you have it, everything summed up by 14 carefully chosen quotes. I can see why Simmons needs to take a couple of months off—that copying and pasting is exhausting. It’s been a fun first half, and I’m sure there will be more surprises waiting after the break.