I’m going to stick with viral videos again. They’re just too much fun. I suspect there will be a Part III next week, when I cover the NL West.
The Cubs are Tootin’ Bathtub Baby Cousins.
Don’t watch this video. It’s terrible. Two badly-flash-animated babies dance back and forth and sing a song, to the tune of “A Bicycle Made for Two,” about how they’re farting in the bathtub. It’s possible to make it all the way through this video — I did it! — but it’s not possible to do so without feeling just a bit worse about humanity.
This video, as of this writing, has been viewed 224,294,772 times. Is that even a number? That’s awful. It’s about 2/3 the current population of the entire United States. There’s nothing worth watching here at all, but a whole lot of people, more people than it’s possible to even come close to vaguely envisioning, have seen this garbage.
I bet you already know where I’m going, don’t you? No matter how bad the Cubs are, they do okay for themselves. The 2011 Cubs were out of it essentially on opening day, and the early-season Chicago weather was terrible; they still drew over three million fans. They can do no wrong, and their relative success and failure…matters a little, but only barely. Like every Adam Sandler movie, like the awful video above, the Cubs can be both undeniably terrible and wildly popular.
The Astros are “Rick Santorum” — a [Bad Lip Reading] Soundbite.
I’d really rather not get political here, but Rick Santorum, U.S. presidential candidate, is terrifying. I don’t want to get into the details, but in my opinion, he’s appallingly underqualified to be president of anything, and he’s obsessed with antiquated positions on certain social issues, through which his only goal seems to be to make certain minority groups miserable.
So that’s bad. The video above, however, is good. The BLR folks have been doing this for a while now, and you can find similar videos for just about every American political figure, a few music videos, etc. They take the sound off the video and dub over it with a very approximate imitator who says the words it looks like the speaker is saying. It makes no less sense than most of the stuff Santorum really does say, and the difference here is that it’s not terrifying, but funny.
New Astros GM Jeff Luhnow has been tasked with doing something a lot like what BLR did above: take something terrible, and make it into something good. He’s off to a good start, saying all the right things and bringing in guys like Mike Fast, the pitch f/x expert formerly of Baseball Prospectus. But he’s got a really, really tough job ahead of him. The Astros organization is terrible from top to bottom, and the big-league club is thus likely to keep being terrible for a really long time. It’s not easy to make something as horrible as Rick Santorum into something worth watching, and that’s basically what Luhnow et al. are going to have to do.
The Cardinals are Potter Puppet Pals: The Mysterious Ticking Noise.
This video is pretty damned hilarious, at least if you’re a Harry Potter fan (as I am). It should be kind of awful; it’s a bunch of vaguely Harry Potterish hand puppets, bobbing around and performing a song of sorts, which mostly involves just chanting their own names. But what’s so endearing about it, to me and most of 122 million others, is that they clearly put so much time in this silly thing. It’s incredibly well designed and well executed. They had to compose this song with all these different parts that come together, and they had to choreograph the puppets. It all comes off like clockwork — fittingly, since the shaky premise underlying the video is the “mysterious ticking noise” that plays almost throughout — and that’s what makes it a lot of fun to watch. Even though the song will get stuck in your head for most of the rest of the day.
It feels to me like no one has noticed, but the Cardinals are put together and run about this well. They haven’t finished below .500 since 1999, and in that time, they’ve been to the World Series three times and won it twice. They’ve done it with a hard-working, expertly run and highly analytical front office. They’ve also done it with Albert Pujols, of course, which will make this year a different sort of test, but they made up for some of that by bringing in Carlos Beltran (and keeping Lance Berkman from having to stumble around the outfield again), and should make up for much of the rest by getting Adam Wainwright back. I think they’ll be fine. Well-structured, excellent and fun to watch, like the Potter Puppet Pals.
The Pirates are David After Dentist.
David: Why’s this happening to me???!!
Dad: It’s okay, bud. It’s just the medicine. It’ll wear off.
David: Is this going to be forever?
Dad: [laughs] no, it won’t be forever.
David: [stares blankly, then grunts and drops his head in despair]
You’ve probably seen David After Dentist already. All at once, some father manages to make a hilarious video and give a really bad idea to neglectful, ambitious parents everywhere when he trains his camera on his eight year old who is helplessly loopy from anesthesia.
To the extent that Pirates fans still exist, I assume the majority of them are approximately this heavily drugged. Moreover, the bit of dialogue excerpted above sounds a lot like a conversation you might have with a hopeless Pirates fan. They haven’t won as many games as they’ve lost for 19 years, and this season is extremely likely to make 20. It probably won’t be forever, but it has to feel like it will at this point, right?
The Brewers are Like a Boss.
The above (loud and potentially very NSFW) video is a clip that was featured on Saturday Night Live of a song by Lonely Island, who brought you the probably-more-famous “Dick in a Box” and “I’m On a Boat.” Here, Andy Samberg, as he keeps telling you, is The Boss, telling Seth Rogen what a typical day in his life is like. His tone is very strong and confident, but it’s about thirty-five seconds in to the video that it starts to become clear that he’s putting that on, and he’s a deeply disturbed, sad, probably criminally insane individual. And it’s funny somehow!
Brewers fans are rejoicing now because they were suddenly given Ryan Braun back, fifty games early. That’s a justifiably exciting thing, and probably means an extra 2 wins or so over those first fifty games. But they’re down Prince Fielder, and Mat Gamel doesn’t look like much of a replacement, while adding only one fickle, aging and injury-prone Aramis Ramirez. This is a team that’s got problems that an extra 50 games of Braun are unlikely to fix. The Brewers did win the division by six games last year, and over a team that has probably gotten worse, so they should certainly still contend. They’ve just got problems, is all. The present cockiness is a bit…misleading, like Samberg’s in “Like a Boss.”
The Reds are Justin Bieber – Baby ft. Ludacris.
A sad thing about the current YouTube is that it’s crawling with videos like this. They used to have MTV for this sort of thing, but now if you want to see an expensively produced music video for a pop song, YouTube is pretty much the only place to go. YouTube used to be filled with oddball home videos and extremely illegally uploaded copyrighted material. And it still is, but now you’ve got to dig through a lot of this sanctioned commercial stuff to find it.
But: these sorts of videos are phenomenally successful, and have certainly been good for YouTube as a business. The above video — a song which includes the oft-repeated lyrics “And I was like baby, baby, baby, oh / Like baby, baby, baby no” — was uploaded about two years ago, in which time it’s been viewed more than 710 million times, putting it as the all-time #1. Bieber himself is more of a formula than a person at this point — everything about him, and this video, is painstakingly crafted to appeal as much as possible to the one demographic that obsesses about its entertainment like no one else has the time to, and thus gets their parents to spend a ton of money on it. This might not be artistically…well, it might not be art, at all. But every part of it is perfect, in that it does exactly what it’s intended to do. It’s a well-oiled teenager-gratifying machine.
Here’s how that’s like the Reds: I feel like the Reds are a team that has been exceptionally well put together heading into 2012. Virtually every player on the team has a chance to be well above average, including a stud rookie catcher, the only good first baseman left in the NL, and an outfield that could be great (could also be kind of terrible, but could be great). Their bullpen looks excellent, and the Latos-Cueto-potentially-Aroldis-Chapman rotation could be great.
It might not be terribly interesting to you and me (unless you’re a Reds fan, anyway), but right now, anyway, it looks like it’ll be very good at doing what it’s intended to do (specifically, win the NL Central). Which makes it at least a bit like this Bieber video.
Back next week to wrap up the six-division tour with similar foolishness.