Wednesday, February 18, 2015

How Can We Conflate Baseball and Lent?

Here's what I found in my e-mail inbox today:

Despite my past cynicism about pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, I'm pretty excited about it this year. The Yankees don't open camp until Thursday, but since members of five teams reported this morning, we'll call today the official start of Spring Training.

Coincidentally, today is also Ash Wednesday, which begins the Christian season of Lent. And since God created baseball to make us happy, I've decided to conflate the run-ups to Easter and Opening Day. One of my Lenten resolutions is to blog about baseball each day for the next 40. Feel free to make the sacrifice to read all my convoluted ideas about the upcoming season.

To kick things off, let's talk about Alex Rodriguez's apology letter. We're not going to analyze the letter itself but Frank Caliendo's reading of it. As he did with LeBron James' redemption letter last summer, Caliendo begins A-Rod's letter with Morgan Freeman's dulcet tones. As Caliendo says "I'm sorry", you can almost hear Red from The Shawshank Redemption as he tells the parole officer that he wishes he could travel back in time and tell his younger self to stop acting so foolish.

So, yes, the Morgan Freeman impression works to highlight A-Rod's regret (whether it's real or fake). However, as he finishes the letter, Caliendo moves on to channel Jon Gruden and Chris Berman. I really can't figure out why Caliendo chose those two ESPN personalities for this bit. Caliendo's "Night Before Christmas" voiceover featured both those impressions and people loved it, so he must have just decided to run it back. Instead of using his Gruden and Berman impersonations, here are three other well-known voices that Caliendo could have used to better effect.

Jim Carrey (Liar Liar)
In one of Carrey's underrated performances, he plays Fletcher Reede, a dishonest lawyer* whose son wishes that his dad would stop lying. This impression could work for the A-Rod letter because most people still don't trust him. I know that I don't believe him, and thirty-plus home runs is probably the only way A-Rod can change my mind.

*Yes, the phrase "dishonest lawyer" is redundant.

Jack Nicholson (Real Life)
Did you see how old Jack looked on the SNL 40th Anniversary Special? He was born before World War II so I guess it's to be expected, but it's still a little jarring. Well, A-Rod's going to be 40 in July and he's got tons of old-man ailments: bad hips, graying hair, weak knees, and poor bowel control (probably). Basically every trait except for the cuteness that many old geezers develop.

Ian Michael Smith (Simon Birch)
Ian Michael Smith is the 3-foot-1 actor who plays Simon Birch. There are many parallels between Simon and A-Rod: love of baseball, self-esteem issues, and feelings of remorse.

Again, A-Rod's not nearly as cute. Caliendo could have read the end of the letter in Simon's adorable little voice and everyone would have forgiven A-Rod immediately. On second thought, it's probably better that the comedian chose to mimic the irritating Gruden and Berman. That way, people are reminded of just how annoying A-Rod is.

Please check back tomorrow for Day 2 of baseball talk.

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