Welcome to the MLB Star Power Index -- a weekly undertaking that determines with awful authority which players are dominating the current zeitgeist of the sport, at least according to the narrow perceptions of this miserable scribe. While one's presence on this list is often celebratory in nature, it can also be for purposes of lamentation or ridicule. The players listed are in no particular order, just like the phone book.
It's transportation week here at SPI. This is the case not by grand design but rather because of accidental tethers that bind together the two players honored in this episode. Nevertheless, yes, it's transportation week. Let us begin.
Major League Baseball reliever/high plains drifter Andrew Chafin has previously graced these pages on account of his being on the look-out for the kind of car that demands you carry nothing more than the state minimum auto insurance coverage. Since last he darkened our door, however, Chafin has been bartered to the Oakland A's, which means he's in need of another mode of conveyance and/or housing. Please witness:
It comes as no surprise that Mr. Chafin has turned out to be an expert practitioner of Sonny Crockett Living. Likewise it comes as no surprise that Mr. Chafin is honoring Busch Light Holy Week…
… by offering up a rack of thirst-tamers as part of the finder's fee.
Mostly, though, we should allow ourselves to be lifted up on gull's wings by the thought of Andrew Chafin kicking all the way back in a nylon webstrap folding chair on the deck of a 28-foot 1971 Nautiline houseboat. Sliding glass door access to the helm? Oak trim on the windows? Rebuilt outdrive, and it comes with a dog? Also included is a case of STP in the head for when the V8 long-block engine requires some care and feeding? After-market poop deck secured with bungee cords? Woo wee, brother, that's some pleasure boating.
Andrew Chafin likes to drop the anchor after he's caught a couple of white sturgeon and drift around on his pool mattress. He runs some twine through the hollow middle of a water noodle and then it ties around the rim of his battered Coleman cooler -- the one with one working hinge, a "Let the Good Times Roll" bumper sticker on the lid, and a decal of Papa Smurf flipping the bird on the side. That way the cold beer floats alongside him. When the sunburn first hits, he knows the fish has marinated long enough in the Worcestershire sauce and Dr. Pepper. He paddles back to the Nautiline.
While one sturgeon cooks on the grill, he shares a beer with the other one. "I appreciate you sparing me. Broadnax is the name," says the sturgeon just before a long pull on his Busch Light.
"10-4, good buddy," says Andrew Chafin. "I'll eat the other guy, then we'll play some cards. Lemme know when you need to be home, and I'll set you on your way."
"Catch and release," says Broadnax, who then crushes the empty can between his pectoral fins.
"You got it, brother."
Just before Andrew Chafin, five-card stud skills on full display, won the last doubloon that Broadnax carried around in his stomach, a storm rolled in from the west. "Hmm," said Andrew Chafin. "Not good swimming weather. You might want to crash here for the night."
"I think you're right," said Broadnax.
Hours later, Andrew Chafin awoke with a roiling hunger that not even half a warm Busch Light and six powdered mini-donuts could abate. He made his way to pool mattress on which Broadnax slept. He nudged him awake with the toe of the checkerboard Vans he always slept in. "I'm hungry," said Andrew Chafin. "Plans have changed."
Broadnax gasped as Andrew Chafin raised the fish bat above his head. "But .. but … what about catch and release?"
"Yes," said Andrew Chafin as he landed a killing blow on the head of Broadnax. "Your soul is now released."
Andrew Chafin, coxswain to the four winds, grilled up Broadnax just right, popped a pair of Busch Lights into his beer guzzler helmet and listened to the waters of the San Francisco Bay lap gently against the houseboat -- the pleasure boat -- that he now called the U.S.S. Broadnax.
Continuing apace with transportation week, please quaff deeply of the bullpen cart recently glimpsed during baseball activities at the Tokyo Olympics:
As you can see, that's former MLB moundsman Jumbo Diaz being swaddled in Corinthian leather sumptuous enough to move Ricardo Montalban to abandon his Chrysler Cordoba under an overpass as blood tribute to the mere rumor of such a bullpen cart. The accoutrements are all in place -- the baseball diamond floor mat in evocative pastoral green, the side view mirror for maximum safety of travel, the call-to-action digital display on the front, and the attentive and professionally dressed livery driver.
Also note that Mr. Diaz quickly upon settling into the loving pocket of the giant glove has adopted a manner of repose that suggests he's fully aware that the weekend is any night that precedes a day in which nothing compels you to wake up at any particular time:
In better days when we were a better people, bullpen carts were a reliable presence within This, Our Baseball, but since then things -- including us -- have worsened. So here's to the nameless paladin at the Tokyo Games who made the decision to place this bullpen car -- this pleasure boat on land -- among us.