My Beautiful Dark Twisted Baseball Season


My Beautiful Dark Twisted Baseball Season

Back in 2009, Kanye West was in a bad place.

His mother had passed away tragically in 2007. He'd broken up with his fianc in 2008, and then immediately jumped into a high profile and volatile relationship with model Amber Rose. On top of that (as well as the general craziness that comes with being Kanye West) he was working himself to the bone and drinking heavily, which boiled over into a laundry list of public disasters most notably the incident with Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs and a canceled tour with Lady Gaga.

By the end of the year, West had hit rock bottom. He was just about the most dysfunctional celebrity on the planet.

So, what did he do?

He exiled himself to Hawaii and created My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which was released in the fall of 2010 and won Best Rap Album at last year's Grammy Awards.

In retrospect, through reading his words and just listening to the music, you can tell that My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was a therapeutic experience for West. Not that it solved all his problems, but it helped him cope, and at the very least, take back a hold of his life.

So, I wondered, if the album was therapeutic for the world's most dysfunctional celebrity, how might it help analyze the world's most dysfunctional baseball team?

Here's the song list (plus links to the actual songs) from MBDTF, with lyrics that tell a story about the Red Sox crazy season.

1. My Dark Fantasy

Beyond the truest, hey, teacher, teacherTell me how do you respond to students?And refresh the page and restart the memory?Re-spark the soul and rebuild the energy?We stopped the ignorance, we killed the enemies
Couldnt be more perfect, because thats what this is all about. Finally turning the page on last season. Making peace with whatever happened in the clubhouse. Accepting the fact that Terry Francona is gone and never coming back. Basically, becoming a new team, building a new identity. And that will only happen if Bobby Valentine finds away to break down the wall and connect with his players.

It looked like there may have been a little progress last night in the ninth. When Valentine went out to visit Alfredo Aceves on the mound, and jokingly asked, Are you trying to kill me? Followed by a chorus of genuine laughs from his team.

It was a bizarre move by Valentine. Can't you imagine him sitting up late the night before in his hotel room and watching Bull Durham on HBO. The candlestick scene comes on and Bobby thinks to himself: You know what? That looks like fun. Maybe well try that tomorrow.

And he did.

And it worked.

Maybe. Truth is we have no clue how Valentines visit affected Aceves, or the outcome of that game. Ill just say it was nice to see him out there in a moment of potential disaster bringing the team together and having a laugh. After the game, it was nice to see him on the field ecstatically greeting his players like a man whod just watched his grandson hit a double in tee ball. Now, if the Sox can just hold onto some of this mental momentum.

Of course, synergy between the manager and his players cant stop all the ignorance and dysfunction in the owners box, but you know what? Screw the owners. At this point, Valentine might as well find a cardboard cut out of Linda Pizzuti and announce: Every time we win, we peel a section! (Or maybe its more motivational to find a cut out of a naked John Henry? Every time we win, we add a section!). The owners may continue to ruin the integrity of Fenway and the Red Sox brand, but from here on out they cant touch the team. Its all about the guys in that clubhouse, and they need to come together.

Last night was a good start.

2. Gorgeous

Not for nothing Ive foreseen it, I dream itI can feel it slowly drifting away from meNo more chances if you blow this, you bogusI will never ever let you live this down, down, down
The biggest myth about Bobby Valentine aside from the one about him parting the Red Sea is that he doesnt care about winning. As if he would even think twice if someone asked him, OK, Bobby. Either we take away The Bobby Valentine Show, your other two paid TV gigs and your two paid radio gigs, or you can win the World Series: Which is it?

Come on. The guy wants to win as much as anyone as much as Terry Francona; as much as Dustin Pedroia.

Theres no question that when Valentine took this job, he had certain visions of what the team would become under his watch. How he would revitalize the clubhouse and rally the players. And obviously, none of that has materialized. Whether thats because Valentine assumed too much about himself, or too little about the mess he was inheriting remains unclear, but despite a few ridiculous suggestions in the media, theres no way hes going to throw in the towel.

This is probably Valentines last chance to manage at the big league level. If things go poorly in Boston, he may never get another job. He may never want another job. His entire legacy as a manager may very well be decided by the events of the next two years.

He wants to win. Believe it or not, even more than he wants to talk to Michael Kay.

3. Power

No one man should have all that powerThe clocks ticking, I just count the hours.
This goes out to Cody Ross and his two dramatic home runs in last night's win (or in the words of Nick Cafardo: His two dramatic jerk outs).

In fact, lets take a second and show some love for a bunch of new faces in the Sox clubhouse. Ross has been solid. Nick Puntos been serviceable. Ryan Sweeneys been out of this world. Kelly Shoppachs won them more games than Adrian Gonzalez. Sort-of-new-guy Mike Aviles has been one of the teams most consistent bats.

Lost in all the bigger problems surrounding the Sox, is that those smaller pieces have fallen into place. The Bellhorns, Millars, Walkers, Kaplers and Mirabellis of this team are starting to reveal themselves, and that will pay dividends down the stretch

As long as the larger pieces get their act together.

After all, you can only get so excited about Cody Ross five homers, when those five are more than the combined total of Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury.

4. All of the Lights

"Turn up the lights in here, babyExtra bright, I want y'all to see thisTurn up the lights in here, babyYou know what I needWant you to see everythingWant you to see all of the lights"
This is for Fenway Sports Group, which could erase a lot of the hatred and anger being thrown in its direction by simply letting us in. By turning on the lights. By becoming transparent. By ceasing to be so cryptic and deceptive about every aspect their business.

As it is now, theres no sincerity in anything they do, and it makes it nearly impossible not to despise everything they stand for. Coming back to Earth and down to everyone's level could go a long way.

If that's not their style or if they have too much to hide they should brace for continued hatred.

Or feel free to sell the team.

5. Monster

I'm living in the future so the present is my past.

It's a shame the Sox can't live in the future, because that will provide a far more realistic view of who they are.

Its easy to forget that theyre currently playing without their closer. Without their should-have-been AL MVP center fielder, lead-off man and all-around catalyst. Without their 19.5 million dollar, super-motivated left fielder. For the most part, without their 21 million dollar, Triple Crown-threat of a first baseman, who apparently hates April as much as he loves God.

Dont get me wrong, the Sox need to do better than they have been. But aside from everything else, they're dealing with some serious injuries right now, and if they can just tread water and stay within striking distance until Crawford and Ellsbury are back, and Gonzalez wakes up from his April nap, this lineup could turn into a monster.

6. So Appalled

"One hand in the air if you don't really careTwo hands in the air if you don't really careIt's like that sometimes, I mean ridiculousIt's like that sometimes, this lifes ridiculous"
Unbelievable how that Daniel Bard situation played out last night. Of course, even in victory, the one thing that could have happened to create more controversy did. Bard succeeded in the bullpen. He entered the game in a HUGE situation, got the job done and bridged the gap to Aceves. Naturally, this will just fuel the firestorm surrounding a potential return to the bullpen and shine a spotlight on one very important piece of information: Bard still wants to start.

I'm sure there are plenty of people out there today screaming about Bard's comments. About how he's a punk for not wanting to join the pen, and just another example of the spoiled brat Sox that are poisoning this team and ruining baseball as we know it.

But I don't mind what Bard said. So, he doesn't want re-join the bullpen? Do you blame him?

The guy just wants some stability. At the end of the day, if they move him to the pen, I'm sure he'll move to the pen, and do everything he can to help the team. But who says he has to be happy about it? Put yourself in his cleats: Wouldn't you rather stay on the path as a starter which he's been prepping for this entire offseason and line yourself up for a better pay day in free agency, or do a complete U-turn and return to your life as a set up man andor a stop gap closer?

It's a no-brainer.

7. Devil in a New Dress

None of the lyrics in this song are "appropriate" enough to relate to the Sox, but the title is a spot on description of Larry Lucchino's costume from last Halloween.

8. Runaway

I'm so gifted at finding what I don't like the mostSo I think it's time for us to have a toastLet's have a toast for the d-----bagsLet's have a toast for the a--holesLet's have a toast for the scumbagsEvery one of them that I know
The 2004 Sox didnt click until they embraced their own shortcomings and drank to their inner Idiots. They then rode that persona to their first title in 86 years.

The 2012 Sox are still looking for their identity, and Kanye offer a few good suggestions here.

Just kidding.

Kind of.

9. Hell of a Life

This is the second of two songs on the album that I'm not going to relate to the Sox, given that the whole thing is about Kanye's relationship with a porn star. But to make up for it, I did track down a photo of the porn star the he's rapping about.

10. Blame Game

"Now who to blame, you to blame, me to blameFor the pain and it poured every time when it rainedLets play the blame game."
The media blame game is pointless. Whose fault is it? Who's reeeeeally to blame?

It's easy. Its everyones fault. And screaming about it in circles does nothing to solve the problem.

Bobby Valentine hasnt found away to connect. The players haven't exactly been open to connection and haven't gotten the job done on the field. The owners are still the useless owners.

This is not an individual, "This is all your fault!" problem. Its a team problem. One that will only be resolved within those clubhouse walls, and only after they can only string together a few good wins. And with their next 21 games coming against the Twins, White Sox, A's, Mariners and Orioles, the time is now.

11. Lost in the World

"Your my Devil, Your my Angel
Your my Heaven, Your my Hell
Your my Now, Your my Forever
Your my Freedom, Your my Jail
Your my Lies, Your my Truth
Your my War, Your my Truce
Your my Questions, Your my Proof
Your my Stress and your my Masseuse"
It's called Red Sox.

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1


STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1

PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh rookie Jake Guentzel beat Nashville's Pekka Rinne with 3:17 left in regulation to put the Penguins ahead to stay in a 5-3 victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

Guentzel snapped an eight-game goalless drought to help the defending champions escape after blowing a three-goal lead.

Nick Bonino scored twice for the Penguins. Conor Sheary scored his first of the playoffs and Evgeni Malkin scored his eighth. The Penguins won despite putting just 12 shots on goal. Murray finished with 23 saves for the Penguins, who used the first coach's challenge in finals history to wipe out an early Nashville goal and held on despite going an astonishing 37:09 at one point without a shot.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissons and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the Predators. Rinne stopped just seven shots.

The Penguins had all of three days to get ready for the final following a draining slog through the Eastern Conference that included a pair of Game 7 victories, the second a double-overtime thriller against Ottawa last Thursday.

Pittsburgh downplayed the notion it was fatigued, figuring adrenaline and a shot at making history would make up for any lack of jump while playing their 108th game in the last calendar year.

Maybe, but the Penguins looked a step behind at the outset. The Predators, who crashed the NHL's biggest stage for the first time behind Rinne and a group of talented defenseman, were hardly intimidated by the stakes, the crowd or the defending champions.

All the guys from the place dubbed "Smashville" have to show for it is their first deficit of the playoffs on a night a fan threw a catfish onto the ice to try and give the Predators a taste of home.

The Penguins, who led the league in scoring, stressed before Game 1 that the best way to keep the Predators at bay was by taking the puck and spending copious amounts of time around Rinne. It didn't happen, mostly because Nashville's forecheck pinned the Penguins in their own end. Clearing attempts were knocked down or outright swiped, tilting the ice heavily in front of Murray.

Yet Pittsburgh managed to build a quick 3-0 lead anyway thanks to a fortunate bounce and some quick thinking by Penguins video coordinator Andy Saucier. Part of his job title is to alert coach Mike Sullivan when to challenge a call. The moment came 12:47 into the first when P.K. Subban sent a slap shot by Murray that appeared to give the Predators the lead.

Sullivan used his coach's challenge, arguing Nashville forward Filip Forsberg was offside. A lengthy review indicated Forsberg's right skate was in the air as he brought the puck into a zone, a no-no.

It temporarily deflated Nashville and gave the Penguins all the wiggle room they needed to take charge.

Malkin scored on a 5-on-3 15:32 into the first, Sheary made it 2-0 just 65 seconds later and when Nick Bonino's innocent centering pass smacked off Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm's left knee and by Rinne just 17 seconds before the end of the period, Pittsburgh was in full command.

It looked like a repeat of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Ottawa, when the Penguins poured in four goals in the first period of a 7-0 rout.

Nashville, unlike the Senators, didn't bail. Instead they rallied.

Ellis scored the first goal by a Predator in a Stanley Cup Final 8:21 into the second. Though Nashville didn't get another one by Murray, they also kept Rinne downright bored at the other end. Pittsburgh didn't manage a shot on net in the second period, the first time it's happened in a playoff game in franchise history.

Nashville kept coming. Sissons beat Murray 10:06 into the third and Gaudreau tied it just after a fruitless Pittsburgh power play.

No matter. The Penguins have become chameleons under Sullivan. They can win with both firepower and precision.

Guentzel slipped one by Rinne with 3:17 to go in regulation and Bonino added an empty netter to give Pittsburgh early control of the series.

Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl


Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

SAN FRANCISCO - An enraged Bryce Harper charged the mound, fired his helmet and traded punches to the head with San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland after getting hit by a fastball, setting off a wild brawl Monday during the Washington Nationals' 3-0 win over the Giants.

Drilled in the right hip by a 98 mph heater on Strickland's first pitch in the eighth inning with two outs, none on and Washington ahead 2-0, Harper didn't hesitate. The slugger pointed his bat at Strickland, yelled at him and took off.

No one got in Harper's way as he rushed the mound. His eyes were wide as he flung his helmet - it sailed way wide of Strickland, it might've slipped - and they started swinging away. The 6-foot-4 Strickland hit Harper in the face, then they broke apart for a moment before squaring off again. Harper punched Strickland in the head as the benches and bullpen emptied.

Giants teammates Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters. Three Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the pack all the way into the dugout, while a teammate held back Harper.

Harper and Strickland were both ejected. They have some history between them - in the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland, and the All-Star outfielder glared at the reliever as he rounded the bases after the second shot in Game 4.