At last! Part 6 of my tour through the divisions. I’ve had a lot of fun making up tenuous connections between the teams and viral videos, and I hope they’ve been at least a little entertaining to some others. This week’s offering includes the funniest sports-related video in internet history, the only good use of auto-tune in auto-tune history, a really perverted and foul-mouthed puppet, and a pre-teen Justin Timberlake singing bad country music. Enjoy!
The Diamondbacks are Auto-Tune the News #11: Pure Poppycock.
Actual footage from the floor of a U.N. meeting, Katie Couric and Glenn Beck, tied together by some amateurish hip-hop singing by nerdy white dudes. Automatically hilarious, right?
Well, no, not at all. It sounds terrible, actually. But the folks who do this are really, really good at it. They use auto-tune to kind of unintentionally force their subjects to sing, cutting and pasting bits together and adding in their own signing (and, in this one, a dude from Good Charlotte’s) to put a really loose kind of story or theme together, and it’s really entertaining, even almost two years after the events discussed here took place. It helps that Katie Couric’s voice, it turns out, is naturally sing-songy, perfect for something like this. Maybe people would’ve watched her national news show if they’d auto-tuned it into a nightly 30-minute hip-hop epic?
The 2011 Diamondbacks were kind of like this — a collection of uninspiring pieces that somehow came together to make awesomeness. They won 94 games and the division, me doubting them all the way. And this year, well, they’re kind of unimpressive again. They got breakthrough performances by Justin Upton and Ian Kennedy, and have some underrated additional pieces in Chris Young, Miguel Montero, and Daniel Hudson, among others. But they’ve got some big question marks, too. Josh Collmenter and Joe Saunders are two pitchers who had superficially very nice seasons whose underlying components just didn’t support that kind of success at all. Stephen Drew and Aaron Hill form a potentially excellent middle infield that could also give them absolutely nothing, and they went out and got Jason Kubel for some reason, pushing Gerardo Parra, probably the better player, to a fourth-OF role. The D-Backs outplayed their Pythagorean record by six games last year — their runs scored and allowed were those of a team you’d expect to go 88-74 — and I think you have to expect the run differential to take a downward turn this year. They’re going to have to find a way to spin a pile of mediocrity into gold again, like the Auto-Tune the News people do.
The Dodgers are Boom Goes the Dynamite.
You’ve seen this one, right? We’ve all seen it. Some poor kid, filling in for his friend as sports anchor on the college news program, just completely falls apart on camera. It’s a mess of awkward pauses, inaccurate descriptions, and one incredibly terrible catchphrase. It’s so painful, it’s entertaining. Start it and try to look away, I dare you.
That’s what the Dodgers’ offseason has been like. The situation with the McCourts has been like a soap opera, and the ramifications of it (and the fact that Ned Colletti is a terrible GM) have kept them from doing anything to significantly improve a team that was basically one great player, one great pitcher and nothing else. They weren’t terrible on the field last year, but with the divorce and whatnot, the season had a very train-wreck feel to it, and I expect 2012 to be similar. It’s a perversely entertaining disaster, like this video.
The Giants are Facebook Parenting: For the troubled teen.
This is the most popular YouTube video of the moment, having been viewed nearly 31 million times since it was uploaded three weeks ago. A very upset dad reads a post his 15 or 16 year old daughter had put up on Facebook, complaining about him and his wife. He rants quite a bit and takes a while to get to the point, but what he’s building up to is this: he pulls out a handgun and puts a bunch of bullets into the daughter’s laptop, to teach her a lesson.
I’m a bit conflicted about this, as a lot of people are. On one hand, his daughter sounds truly awful, ungrateful, making garbage up about her parents to impress her friends. She had something coming, to be sure. On the other hand, I’m not sure how I feel about how he chose to get back at her, at all. He seems a bit crazed, unstable. Not the kind of guy you want owning a handgun. And then putting it on Facebook, and on YouTube, with what appears to be his real first and last name? It all seems a bit (or, a lot) extreme to me. I assume it’s an effective way to get his point across, but it strikes me as all a bit much.
Brian Sabean is a favorite sabermetric whipping boy, and for a lot of good reasons. They’ve got a very old-fashioned approach to the game as current front offices go, and Sabean has made a ton of really, really bad deals (and foreseeably bad ones). But they won the World Series before last, with a winning record in each of the past three years, and they appear to be in pretty decent shape entering 2012, too. It’s not an approach most of us would agree with, and it might have some serious consequences down the road, but at least for now, it’s been effective. Like Facebook Parenting.
The Rockies are The Count Censored.
Nearly 11 million people have watched this video, using an idea that’s been popularized by Jimmy Kimmel’s “unnecessary censorship” bits. It’s a pretty solid concept, if it’s done well (and this one is, I think): take something totally innocent, like a song by Sesame Street‘s The Count about how much he loves counting, and add a few carefully placed bleeps, making it sound like something really filthy. Here, Count is no longer a creepy old vampire who lives alone in a giant mansion and really loves counting, he’s a creepy old vampire who lives alone in a giant mansion and is apparently also a sex freak.
My question is: how does someone even think of something like this? Obviously, the basic idea is just something that’s out there, but how do you land on this particular video and think “yeah, that totally innocent line could sound really horrible if you replaced that word with something dirty”? It takes a very strange and potentially deeply disturbed sort of person.
Which is like the Rockies, in that I just don’t have any idea what they’re thinking. The Common Man describes my own position pretty well here: you just can’t make any sense of the Rockies right now. They’ve made some moves that suggest they’re in a rebuilding phase, but they’ve also gone out and added a 36 year old second baseman (Marco Scutaro) and a really overpriced, 33 year old outfielder (Mike Cuddyer). They’ve added a number of extreme flyball pitchers, who you’d think would be the worst fits for Coors Field. I’m incapable of thinking like the kind of person who would make the “The Count Censored” video, and I’m incapable of understanding what the Rockies have been up to this offseason.
The Padres are like this video of Justin Timberlake on Star Search.
It’s really easy to say this from a 2012 point of view, but I think you can tell a lot from this video. The first contestant on this episode of Star Search from 1993 — Anna Nardona, age 10 — is an awfully pretty kid and has an amazing singing voice. The second, though — Justin Randall [Timberlake], age 11 — sings a kind of silly country song and does a silly dance, and you can see why Nardona won the contest. But Randall/Timberlake has just a ton more confidence and poise. He’s completely fearless up there. We know now what happened, obviously. Nardona kept at it for a couple more years, then went back to normal life. She could be doing literally anything now, but as of this report (which appears to be from about 2003, despite the date), at age 20, she was working at a day spa. Timberlake, at age 21, was already a superstar. You might not like his music (I don’t), but he’s an incredibly gifted entertainer, and I think you can see it already in the video above.
This year’s Padres, like Timberlake here, aren’t going to win. They’re probably not terrible, but they’re certainly not great. But: smart drafts and good trades have put them in a great position for the future. Keith Law ranked their farm system #1 heading into this season, and John Sickels has them at #2. The fact that so much of their talent is still on the farm, and that much of the rest is in big-league position players, who their mid-sized sovereign nation of a park will make look a lot worse than they are (think of Petco as Timberlake’s ugly shirt in this analogy), will make it a bit hard to see in 2012, but in a couple years, this team could be really, really good.