The Let's Play Archive

The Closer: Game of the Year Edition

by TheMcD

Part 4: Update III - It's Just A Seinfeld Reference. That's All It Is.

Update III - It's Just A Seinfeld Reference. That's All It Is.

♪ BGM: Moose

Alright, so, last time we questioned the foundations of society itself and decided we need to do some crossword puzzles, and to do that, we hit the subway.

I wanted to change clothes before we went out in public. I knew that people would recognize me if I was wearing my uniform. The last thing I wanted was to be recognized. Because of me, the best case scenario was that the city would have to wait one more day for its championship. The worst case scenario... I'd cost New York the World Series. Someone out there would want my blood. Someone would want to make me pay. Moose said there wasn't time. So I braved the dangerous subway car in my pinstripes. Fortunately, no one tried to kill me. I got a number of dirty stares, and one guy called me "The King of the Retards." He and Moose got into an argument about the use of the word "retarded", and somehow that distracted the man enough to keep him from beating me until I was retarded.

Oh come on! Did you hear anything I said on the subway, Bobson??
Something about normalization? Shit, I don't know.

That was Moose. He was always trying to improve people, even when they didn't want it. Though I guess on that night, I had to appreciate it.

♪ BGM: Closer's Theme

They're a selective bunch.
A bookstore can afford to be selective these days?
Just shut up and let's go.

And here we are in the city. Let's go talk to some people, I'm sure that won't end badly.

Wait... You look familiar.

Oh, great...

Good vibes all around.

Hiding in an alley we find this shady character offering us a new pitch. I'm sure there's no catch to this at all.

Yes, actually! That's why we're here. This is amazing, Moose! I had no idea it would be this easy.
I don't trust this guy.
Nah, bro, it's simple. You just smear some vaseline on the ball and suddenly it's moving around all crazy-like.
That's a spitball. It's an illegal pitch.
Did that stop Gaylord Perry? Don Drysdale? Kenny Rogers?
Kenny Rogers put vaseline on his fried chicken?
Not that Kenny Rogers!
You don't want to do this, Bobson. If you throw a spitball, you'll be branded a cheater for the rest of your career.

TheMcD's Baseball Stuff posted:

So here's one of the pitches that falls under the "others" category - the spitball. The spitter is a very interesting pitch. Like our mysterious friend described it, pitchers would either use some sort of petroleum jelly like Vaseline, or their spit, or a similar substance to manipulate the ball. This messes with the ball's aerodynamics and makes it behave in unpredictable ways.

The original king of the spitball was probably Ed Walsh, a legendary pitcher that played from 1904 to 1917. He's notable for having the lowest career ERA amongst qualifiying pitchers ever at an insane 1.82, aided by the fact that the environment he pitched in was low-scoring, being an excellent pitcher, and throwing a pitch so good that it was eventually banned.

The ban of the spitball was decided to start in the 1920 season, allowing teams to only have two spitballers on their team, and outright banning the pitch for the 1921 season with the exception of a select few pitchers that were grandfathered in. With that, the last legal spitballer, Burleigh Grimes, retired in 1934.

Of course, that doesn't mean pitchers just stopped throwing it. They just had to get a bit more creative with it. Our friend here mentions Gaylord Perry and Don Drysdale as other users. He also mentions Kenny Rogers, but he's not important. Sorry, Kenny.

Don Drysdale was a pitcher with the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Los Angeles Dodgers (the team moved from Brooklyn to LA). He pitched from 1956 to 1969 - covering most of the Sandy Koufax era. As such, he ended up winning three World Series titles with the Dodgers, and also took home a Cy Young award. Drysdale was also known for hitting batters with pitches to make a point - he led the league in hit batters five times in his career.

Gaylord Perry was a pitcher for many teams, but he primarily pitched for the San Francisco Giants. His career went from 1962 to 1983, and he pitched until he was 44. Perry ended up winning two Cy Young awards, but no World Series titles. Perry was perhaps the most notorious modern spitball user. Things got quite ridiculous at times - at one point, an opposing manager used a bloodhound to sniff baseballs to try and find out if they were tampered with. However, Perry never admitted to any wrongdoing on the spot - he did write a book entitled "Me and the Spitter" in which he detailed how he threw spitballs, but then said that he only cheated in the past and was clean now, and then even made some indications that the whole book might be a fib and that he's actually still saying he never threw an illegal pitch in his life. Perry is quite a character.

And because I brought him up, here's something on Sandy Koufax. Koufax's nickname was "The Left Arm of God", and he earned it. He started out as an about average starting pitcher, notably plagued by wildness and high amounts of walks. He did this from 1955 to 1960. And then, he figured it out, and the league collectively shit its pants. Within the course of 1960 to 1963, he went from "average starting pitcher" to "strong starting pitcher" to "ace of the rotation" to "hitters run in terror when he shows up". In 1963, he won both the Cy Young award and the Most Valuable Player award (the MVP going to a pitcher is incredibly rare and means that pitcher put up a performance that was just so incredibly good it can't be ignored). The next season, he only placed third in Cy Young voting. Then, he won it again. Then, he won it again. At that time, the same pitcher winning the Cy Young three times was unheard of, especially because at the time, the award wasn't split up by the NL and the AL yet, so Koufax had to beat out the entire league. Koufax also pitched four no-hitters (games where the opposing team has no hits, so essentially a weakened form of the perfect game), one of those four was a perfect game. And then, after the 1966 season, which was his greatest season yet... his career was over.

Yep, just like that. Turns out that Koufax majorly fucked up his arm - he ended up with traumatic arthritis that could just not be contained, and he was forced to retire. But still, that short period of time during which he was the god of baseball will stand forever as a special period of absolute dominance.

In the end, Koufax is one of the few Dodgers I tolerate.

...oh, right, I guess I should explain that real quick. I am a fan of the San Francisco Giants, formerly the New York Giants. Back when the Giants were in New York and the Dodgers in Brooklyn, they had a fierce rivalry. Then, the Giants moved to San Francisco, and the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, and the rivalry got even worse. As a result, grudges run incredibly deep between the two fanbases. As a result, it takes some historic skill for me to tolerate a Dodgers player. Beat LA is serious fucking business.

...fucking hell, that got longer than I thought it would. Anyway, we don't want the spitball, because we're no cheaters. What it would do is remove one ball from the count, so essentially, you could cheat your way through encounters where you find yourself losing by giving up walks. So...

Fuck that! I'm no cheater.
That's the spirit, Bobson!

Now, let's get to what we're actually here for.

Hold up there. You recognize me, right?
Moose? Shit, that is you. Sorry about that. I couldn't see you behind this meathead.
Hey! What did you call me?
Settle down, Bobson. He didn't mean anything by it.
Like hell I didn't. Who's this guy, Moose?
He's a friend. He pitches for New York. I'd assume you'd know all about him by now, what with everything that happened tonight.
I don't watch sports.
Well, your loss. Can we come in?
You can come in, but this guy has to stay outside. He hasn't paid his dues.
Come on, now, don't be ridiculous. Do you know how much money I've spent in this book store?
The rules are the rules. Only members may enter.
Okay, how do I become a member?
You must donate a rare book to the collection. It's simple, really.
Where the hell am I going to find a rare book at this hour? We're here because this is the only non-adult bookstore that is open at this hour. Wait... Will you accept a rare adult magazine?
Do we really need to do this? You know who I am, and this is Bobson. He's the closer for New York and he really needs to get inside.
Ah, so you're a pitcher like Moose? Well, I'll make it easy on you, then. Strike me out and I will let you into the store.
You're the gatekeeper to a weird obscure bookstore. This should be easy!
Not so fast, Bobson! All you have is your fastball. This might not be as easy as you think.
Are you kidding?
If he figures out that you can only throw a fastball, you're in trouble. I'm sure you *can* strike him out, but trying to do so would be a risk. We should investigate other options first.
So, what do you think? Are you ready to pitch?
If you're going to do this you should save your game. This could go bad.
Just let me know when you're ready.

Yeah, we're not going to be doing this. I think the spitball would make this fairly possible, but we don't have that. If the batter ever ends up looking for a fastball, we'd be fucked, since throwing a pitch a batter is looking for is an instant loss.

Instead, let's check out this place.

A bar of some kind. Let's talk to some people.

Why would you think that?
You're both wearing jerseys.
Huh, fair enough.
That game tonight was fucked up. If we have the lead tomorrow night, they better leave Bobson on the bench where he belongs.
I don't know about that. You can't just go sitting your best relief pitcher because of one bad pitch.
That wasn't just one bad pitch! That was the god damn World Series!
The World Series doesn't stop a pitcher from making a bad pitch! It can happen any time! Sometimes you lose your grip on the ball. Sometimes you trip on the mound. Sometimes your best pitch is actually very hittable and suddenly everyone can--
Let's go, Bobson.
Wait, did he say Bobson?

Maybe we shouldn't draw too much attention to ourselves.

Probably a good idea. Anyway, the jukebox nearby lets us change the music between three tracks. So...

♪ BGM: City Theme

Beer and a plate of nachos, please.
We don't have time for drinking, Bobson!
No, I think right now is a pretty good time for drinking.
If you're interested, we're having a trivia night. Sign ups are just about to close.
Trivia night, eh?
So we don't have time for a beer and a few nachos, but we do have time to participate in a trivia competition?
Let's be fair, you were going to eat a lot more than a *few* nachos.
The top prize for the trivia night is a first edition copy of Thomas Pynchon's seminal novel, Gravity's Rainbow.
A book? That's a terrible prize. Why not just make me take a class or something.
Wait, Bobson, your lack of culture aside, this is perfect. We need a rare book to get into the bookstore next door. If we can win the top prize at the trivia night, then we will have our ticket in.
This seems awfully convenient...
What do you mean?
I don't know, Moose. We find out we need a rare book to get where we want to go and suddenly we happen to find one as a prize in trivia? Doesn't that seem a little off to you?
Well, yeah, but are you going to look a gift horse in the mouth?
Yeah, I am! I never liked that phrase. Of course I'm going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I don't know anything about this horse. Why does its owner want it gone? Who just gives away a horse, anyway? The whole thing is suspicious.
Well, if someone offers us a horse, we'll investigate. But what do we have to lose from participating in this trivia night?
Nothing, I guess.
All right, the entrance fee is $20.
Uh... We don't have any money on us.
Yeah, sorry about that.
Well, the way things are going, I bet we can find $20 in the next building by... I don't know...killing rats or something.
No, we don't need to do that. I have a plan. Bartender, do you know who my friend is? He's Bobson, the closer who just blew game 6 of the World Series.
Shit! Bobson? I thought I recognized you! You look smaller than you do on television.
Here's the deal: if you cover our entrance fee, and we don't win, the winner gets to punch Bobson in the face.
That sounds like a good deal... I'm sure I'll get a few more teams to sign up if they are playing for the chance to rough up Bobson a little.
I don't agree to this. I don't agree to this!
Listen, we're not going to lose.
How do you know that?
I've done a lot of trivia nights in my time, and I've never lost one.
But if this is the first time, I'm going get punched in the face!
Eh, being punched in the face isn't that bad. If we lose, and you have to get punched in the face... Then you can punch me in the face.
I mean, that *will* make me feel better, but I don't see how it gets us any closer to our goal...
Then we'll just need to win the trivia competition and we'll never have to go down this dark path.
Fine, if this book gets us into the book store, I'll do it. But we better win.

The bar filled up and the bartender passed out the score cards. I'd never done this before, but Moose was an old pro. He took the lead on most of the questions, but would occasionally ask for my input.

♪ BGM: Transcend

So, trivia night. We get some questions, and we get to answer them. Let's pick Rembrandt, that was a painting of his.

Rembrandt. I don't know how to spell it. Spell it like the toothpaste, that's close enough.
You're correct, that's probably what the question is looking for, though I can't help but disagree with how it is phrased. All right, next question...

That would be The Color of Money.

The Color of Money.
You're right, I think that is what the question is looking for. Though, I admit it isn't quite right... Seriously, I don't think this bar is taking its Trivia Night very seriously. All right, next up...

That's probably the Great Wall.

The Great Wall of China.
Yeah, I suppose that's what they're looking for. I mean, it's not necessarily true, but it's "accepted", at least by people who don't know better. There really aren't any man-made objects visible from space... And that's without going into how vague "space" is. But we'll go with that. It's the safe answer. All right, last question...

That must be the Moors, then.

Ha! That's a joke. The Moors.
You're right, but I feel like there is something more to this question.
How so?
It feels out of place. Like there is some secondary meaning to it. Though ultimately, I suspect that this secondary meaning is about nothing. I'll put down "the Moors". It's unquestionably correct. All right, that's it. Let's turn in our answer sheet.

♪ BGM: Spirits Among Us

Moose and Bobson!
They win this first edition copy of Gravity's Rainbow!
Oh... I forgot. All we won was a book.
But we need this book to continue our quest!
And our quest takes us into... a bookstore. You can see why I'm reluctant to get excited.
No, I can't. I think book stores are awesome.

Bobson received a copy of Gravity's Rainbow!

Let's talk to that guy again, I have the feeling Moose has something to say.

This was a terrible trivia night and you should be ashamed of yourself.
What the hell, Moose?
I'm just telling it like it is. Those were bad questions.

Now, here's the thing. This game has friendship values. And one opportunity to boost Moose's friendship value is here. How do we do that? Well, if you agree with Moose that there was something wrong about those questions, then you would be right. Let's rewind, and this time, give the right answers. Or, rather, the right answer.

♪ BGM: Transcend

Fuck that.
Bravo! I knew you weren't as dumb as the other pitchers say you are.
Wait, what?
Whoever prepared this question obviously wants us to answer "Rembrandt" as evidenced by the use of the word "artist". Otherwise, there might be some question as to whether Sergei Lukyanenko or Ole Bornedal were in play as possible solutions. However, "The Night Watch" is not the proper title of the work that is perhaps Rembrandt's most famous painting. The proper title would be "The Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch Preparing to March Out". "The Night Watch" is an acceptable alternative, but in the interest of an absolutely consistent Trivia Night, such a question should not be asked.
You lost me at "Bravo".
It doesn't matter! I am very impressed, Bobson. I had no idea that your tastes were so refined.

Fuck that.
Damn right!
Huh? I don't understand. Why are you responding positively to me?
Impressive, Bobson. Even I almost missed this one. Paul Newman won an Oscar for The Color of Money, and that's undoubtedly what the answer is supposed to be. But that wasn't his first Oscar. He actually received a lifetime achievement award the year prior. Thus, the correct answer would truly be that Paul Newman received his *first* Academy Award for *all* of his films.
Yeah, that's totally what I meant.
You're really quicker than I gave you credit for, Bobson.

Fuck that.
I know! There aren't any man made objects visible from space! Who the hell came up with these trivia questions? They're all terrible!
psh... Yeah. I know.
It's a popular conception that the Great Wall of China is visible from space, but it's simply not true. While the Great Wall is an incredible achievement in *length*, there's really nothing special about its *width*.
Yeah, and all the girlfriends I've ever had say that it's really width that's important.
...For seeing from space?
Yeah, I've dated a lot of geography majors. What did you think I was talking about?
You can major in geography?
Uh... Of course you can. Where do you think maps come from?
And to think I was starting to get impressed with your intelligence...

Fuck that.
Yeah, I know. A Seinfeld reference? Pathetic. I remember when Trivia Night had standards. It wasn't just an excuse to get drunk. It wasn't infected with the taint of sour pop culture. I remember when it meant something. This... This is no trivia night. Full of meaningless questions with even more meaningless answers. Topped off with an inquiry that serves no purpose but to reference a dead television series from a dead era. What has the world come to? I know what they want to hear but I don't want to give it to them. I'd rather burn my answer sheet, and show them what I think of their questions. Alas, I know we need the book that is the prize of this particular offense against the sanctity of trivia. I realize that to win we must play by their rules, and give in to their decision to prioritize referential humor over the truth. So with that in mind, what do we answer?
I don't even know what you're talking about.
Then I'll take it from here. I will take responsibility for quietly providing support for this atrocity of trivia. It's just a Seinfeld reference. That's all it is. That's all they care about.

And that's all the answers. In the end, it actually doesn't matter what you pick, since if you pick something wrong, Moose will just pick the right thing instead. Or, rather, the "right" thing. So we always end up with the book.

Anyway, that'll be it for this update. Next time, we'll take a look at the wrong answers from this trivia round, because they've got some fun dialogue as well, and we'll step outside the building.