MLB

MLB Star Power Index: Javier Báez embraces hate of Amir Garrett; Tommy Pham knows Kung Fu

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.

In 2006 — when we still believed in at least one out of three commonly acknowledged American dreams — the rock and or roll ensemble Yo La Tengo released an album titled, “I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass.” Pitchfork gave the avant-pop effort a lofty 8.3 rating and declared it to be among the best new music of 2006 — when last our prayers and sacrifices to Goat-Pan, god of the wild and escort of nymphs, showed any evidence of being heard. When it comes to the album title “I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass,” this scribe gives it, on the five-star scale, all the stars of the firmament available for sale on the internet

Relevant to our purposes, the origin story of “I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass” highlights the nexus of music and sports, which is best exemplified by Deion Sanders’ 1994 rap album “Prime Time.” That origin story has it that the album title came from Tim Thomas’ solemn admonishment to Stephon Marbury when the two were Knicks teammates. Here and now this space shall wander loins-first into that nexus and claim-jump “”I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass” for This, Our Baseball. We do so in honor of chaotic good Padres outfielder/warrior-poet Tommy Pham

Drink deeply of the remarks Pham made to reporters pursuant to an unsolicited engagement with fans in Cincinnati: 

“When you start cursing at me, it’s one thing. It’s different from ‘Pham sucks.’ That’s perfectly acceptable. The curse words, I have a problem with because that’s not something you would say to me face to face. Where I’m from, in the state of Nevada, it’s labeled as assault. Someone comes up to me, cursing at me like that, I could defend myself. I’m a very good fighter. I don’t do Muay Thai, Kung Fu and box for no reason.”

Emphasis mine, but it’s also yours, too, whether you like it or not. Now let’s highlight the relevant portion of that quote again in the service of fitting urgency: 

“. . . Kung Fu . . .”

Normally when we think about Kung Fu we think about the peaceable deflections and parries, via hand-carved white oak staff, of a blind-from-birth Shaolin monk and the cackling malefactors who have tragically underestimated him. If we don’t think about that, then we think about the pantomimed chops and leg sweeps of the Rock Steady Crew. What we likely do not think about is Tommy Pham finishing off the likes of you with ghastly haste. 

You see, you made the fated decision to take your Tommy Pham grievances to his realm of the corporeal, where you do not belong. You brandished the overbite that you typically reserve for dancing at weddings or straining on the commode at Carl’s Jr. and, wee baby doll fists raised, charged him as he made his way through the players’ parking lot. He heard the floppy slapping of your second-hand sandals behind him, set down his duffle, and tended to business with an expression that betrayed nothing beyond a by-rote fidelity to the quotidian. Your piteous “war cry” — identical to the trilling of a runt goldfinch unable to provide for itself — transitioned seamlessly into sobs of pain after Tommy Pham thrust-kicked you in the solar plexus and roundhoused your ears and each public-facing buck tooth individually. He then delivered textbook palm strikes to all five of your quarter- to half-clogged major arteries, dusted off his Stefano Ricci Men’s Swarovski Hidden-Placket Formal Dress Shirt, and left you in a bloody, flatulent heap. Looking down from the distant heavens you shall never ascend to, Gordon Solie recoiled from the sight of you. 

You, now dead, forgot that Tommy Pham — No. 28 in your programs and on your tombstone — has been stabbed before. He lived to tell about not only it but also his working mastery of Kung Fu. Woe betide those who didn’t listen to him. His nickname, you see, is “I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass.”

Naturally enough, this brings us Players Weekend and the customized jerseys thereof, which it seems will not be a part of the 2021 season. On these pages, however, we shall leverage Tommy Pham’s new nickname, his avocational pursuits, and his mighty will and his clinched fist of a heart to provide the reader with glimpses of the Players Weekend jerseys and related apparel that by rights ought to exist. Forthwith: 

Obviously wearing these in sequential order is essential, and we trust that Mr. Pham has enough investment and faith in the message that he’ll do just that. 

In righteous conclusion: 

Behold the purifying contempt that Cubs infielder deluxe Javier Báez holds for Reds God of War Amir Garrett

That’s a pinch-hit walk-off single by Báez at the expense of his blood rival, and that’s also a cherishing, a savoring typically reserved for at last being able to devour the fallen corpse of Mayor McCheese. Note the blood-lust, the exuberance at the sight of an over-slaughtered rival, the journey to first base that is equal parts ticker-tape fêting and idle wayfaring.

Ancient sacred texts teach us that thunder is the sound of two terrible people marrying each other. It is also, however, the sound of human hatred being fully achieved. When the next permafrost thaws, it shall reveal Messrs. Javy Báez and Amir Garrett locked in righteous combat, suggestive of the melee that will still be carried on by their spectral presences: 

The final freeze frame of Rocky III or what the next permafrost hath revealed? Yes, is the answer. 



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