Brandon Moss, the underdog.

moss“In the end, each life is no more than the
sum of contingent facts, a chronicle of chance intersections, of flukes, of random events that divulge nothing but their own
lack of purpose.”
Paul Auster

I always go for the underdog — hell, always have. I was one myself. You don’t get many opportunities growing up in a single parent home. Dad left us when I was around 5 and was never around, so we had many dinners of pot-pies and vinyl cheese on white bread. I have strong memories of watching cartoons while my mother would pace the room, chain smoking Marlboro reds in her Kenny Rodgers tour 1982 t-shirt. Even at such a young age I knew she was stressed about the rent– and probably even had regrets about her children (my sister and I) because we were born while she was still a teenager and was left holding the bag. These kind of things make you tougher than a bulldog in a junkyard and my cousins and random kids took the brunt of it. I would spend a lot of my time alone, and liked to hide my pain and confusion in comic books.

Brandon Moss was an underdog until he became one of the best power hitters in the A.L. (and unlike that human turd David Ortiz, can actually play multiple positions) I know that it’s difficult to compare one’s economic background to that of the the career of a sports figure, but to me it’s a reminder of the memories that could possibly fall into the abyss because you get so wrapped up in what you are doing now…and the passage of time had stored them away in the deepest, darkest recesses of your mind. Mr. Moss was let go by the Red Sox, Pirates and Phillies, never really getting the chance to excel despite putting up great minor league numbers. He once even contemplated retirement in order to work for the Fire Department. He has since excelled in Oakland and is great in the club-house, respects the game, his teammates and fans (who have deemed him “Boss,” the perfect fit) I now hide my pain and confusion (now non-economic) by reading comic books AND watching Boss hit soaring ‘taters; his Oakland teammates proving that you don’t have to use “unwritten rules” as an asshole tactic by being GOOD. A refreshing approach to the crybabies that the rest of the league embraces…an approach that turns a mild-mannered individual like me into the bulldog that I thought I had left long ago.

Time sometimes hurts

gdawg

I’m surrounded by Dodgers fans! That’s me on the far right with the A’s cap and Mr. Castro in the middle.

The last couple of days have been pretty rough for me.  My girlfriend’s dad passed away unexpectedly on July 18th, and through the tears, laughs, memories and funeral arrangements it has been quite the stressful ordeal. Carlos was extremely knowledgeable when it came to World History; I also immensely enjoyed his conversations on conspiracy theories, U.F.O.’s, and yes….baseball. Carlos was a Dodgers fan since he was a young boy who migrated from El Salvador at the age of 11. He would talk excitedly about Mike Piazza and Steve Garvey, and it wasn’t too long ago that we chatted about Clayton Kershaw’s no-hitter over some pupusas. His favorite player was Roberto Clemente because of his grace on the field, giving heart, and courage to face the racism against Latinos that was prevalent in baseball at the time. I will miss his baseball talk and infectious laugh. R.I.P. Carlos Ernesto Castro

Time travel….1910

10258640_510189719103131_8560875975986433485_nDuring the first decade of the 20th Century cartoon ads from Underoof Bourbon and Rye Whiskey appeared regularly in Chicago newspapers. The image above is referring to pitcher and future Hall of Famer “Chief” Bender’s win in game 1 of the 1910 World Series. Bender gave up 3 hits and one unearned run as the Philadelphia Athletics beat the Chicago Cubs 4-1 in a mind-blowing one hour and 54 minutes. The Athletics would eventually go on to win the World title beating the Cubs in 5 games. (back then it was the best of 5) I find it interesting to note that the attendance for this particular World Series game was 26,891. We should contemplate and consider the fact that if a modern team averaged that many paying customers they would be threatening to move to Montreal.

Welcome to another edition of virtual time travel. Imagine the possibilities! Your father wakes you up, drunk as a skunk on Old Underoof Whiskey and asks you if you would like to take in the first game of the World Series that afternoon. ticket(You can tell because his eyes are blood-shot, and he stumbles a bit on a toy train you had left on the floor; unlike other drunks though, he is happy and generous when on the drink.) Oh boy! You throw on your knickers and knee socks, comb your hair and you feel like the king of the world. Mom has breakfast ready and you take a sip of Ol’ pops coffee and immediately regret it. Mom had been getting on Pop’s case for drinking too much so he simply put the hootch in his coffee thinking that this would pacify her. She knows what he’s doing, of course, because of the overwhelming whiskey stench. (and secretly hoping that his generosity will carry over for purchase of that suit she saw in the window the other day- although the 22.50 price tag was a bit steep.) No matter. He is having none of this nonsense because today we are taking in a ball-game.  The eggs and toast are quickly gorged and after giving Mom a kiss on the cheek, out the door you go. You both walk a couple of blocks, hang a left, Pop gets a shoeshine for a nickel….and there it is…Shibe Park!

number 1 song

a very popular movie of the time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Bob Lacey

bob

1978 Topps

1) 1979 was obviously a horrible year for you and the Athletics as you had bursitis in the heel and the A’s lost 108 games. How did you deal with the difficulties?
I fractured my left thumb on my pitching hand early in the 1979 Spring training in Palm Springs, CA. I know I did because I received in the mail a copy of the bill from the insurance company the diagnosis from the doctor which state I had a probable fracture of the left phalanx. Needless to say I altered my pitching motion which brought on the bursitis in both Achilles tendons especially the right heel. It was a miserable year after having two good prior years.
2) You were once involved in a brawl with Darryl Porter who later called you a “crazy, immature punk.” Can you talk a little more about the situation and how it came to be?
Our team was on a ten or twelve game losing streak, I told my team mates that I was going to start a fight. Darryl Porter hit a grounder to Dave Revering which he took it unassisted. When I saw that Rev was stepping on first I did a George Atkinson on Porter while he was running down the first base line. I did the act in a very discreet manner which didn’t draw any attention to myself. Porter became enraged an attacked me which allowed the whole Royal team to jump on top of me. Needless to say Porter got thrown out, Tony Armas hit a three run homer, and I got out team back on a winning streak.
3) You struck out Reggie Jackson twice in your 4th M.L. appearance. Is it true that he was enraged at the situation, and what was your approach?
​I was a punk, Reggie was classier, after striking him out I yelled a colorful expletive at him which went like this. “Take that MF.” The next day my pal Michael Norris acted as a liaison between me and Reggie.
4) Did you have friction with manager Billy Martin? Why did he refuse to use you in spring training, and is it true that he barred anyone from playing catch with you?
The articles were correct concerning my interactions with Billy Martin. Darryl Porter was correct I was an immature punk and I didn’t handle my interactions with Billy very well. After saying that I will say that Billy was one of the best managers that I ever played for.
5) You are an educator in Arizona today…what do your students think about your playing career past?
They like it, having the opportunity to tell them stories gets their attention. I don’t teach my students’ I promote benefits on being a learner. Once a person realizes that they can do it on their own then I look for more benefits to promote.

Sean Doolittle and the hesher.

doo2Q: “Hey, what’s up?”
A: “Oh, ya know, ripping apart, severing flesh, gouging eyes, tearing limb from limb.”

Q: “Hey, why won’t the red light change?
A: “Hmm, gods of the throne must be watching from hell.”

Hessian = West coast name for a heavy metal fan

by John Quittner

Halloween 1991 was my first Halloween in Olympia, Wa. and I didn’t have any plans, so I was spending the evening cold kickin’ it with my roomies Brent and Maia watching Star Trek.  As I went to the kitchen to fetch the wine, my confident strut was interrupted by a knock at the door. I opened up and found myself staring at two young hessians no older than 13 , who wore no costume except that of their normal hessain selves– sleeveless denim jacket with Guns and Roses headband and curled lip etc.

“Fuckin’ trick or treat.” they said.

quit

your esteemed writer.

‘We don’t have any candy or anything.”

“Got a cigarette?” one asked hopefully with a snarl.

“I don’t smoke.”

“Got any alcohol?” They were quite bold.

“Well,” I pointed to the liquor store “they’ll probably sell you some over there.”

“Aww dude, do I look 21 to you?”

“Sure.” I didn’t know what else to say.

“Yeah fuckin’ right.” They didn’t look like they were going anywhere.

I got an idea. “You guys want a Judas Priest record?”

Their eyes got all big…” Fuck yeah!” they said in unison.

“Well hang on a second, ” I started digging through my old hesh records.

“Fuck, man. Do you have PAINKILLER?”

‘Uh huh,” the last Judas Priest record I had bought was DEFENDERS OF FAITH, but then it occurred to me that budding heshers were more into speed metal, not standard early 80’s viking striking stuff.

“Who wants Anthrax FIST FULL OF METAL?”

“Me! Me!”

I handed them both over and let them fight it out.

“KILLER! Thanks man!”

They ran off into the night, and I slept easy knowing that I had pleased two young heshers on their most special night of the year. How stoked would King Diamond be!?

Shrink Logic

billy martinnnnn

HELP!

“The tears I shed yesterday have become rain.”

–Marlon Brando

A psychiatrist analyzes Billy Martin: He acts out our own anger. The athlete in America is a hero figure because we can sublimate our anger through his action. It wouldn’t be socially acceptable to slug somebody at a bar. It would be socially acceptable conduct to sit in the stands and egg Billy Martin on against an umpire; an authority figure. He fights our battles for us with no loss of status and with no pain. Heavy alcohol use directly affects brain function and alters various brain chemical and hormonal systems known to be involved in the development of many common mental disorders (e.g., mood and anxiety disorders). Thus, it is not surprising that alcoholism can manifest itself in a broad range of psychiatric symptoms and signs. Alcohol abuse can cause signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, psychosis, and antisocial behavior, both during intoxication and during withdrawal. At times, these symptoms and signs cluster, last for weeks, and mimic frank psychiatric disorders  As Freud believed, conflicts are part of the human condition and certain ego functions may become conflicted by aggressive and libidinal impulses, as witnessed by conversion disorders, speech impediments, eating disorders, and attention-deficit disorder.

 

Brad “Dolla Dolla Bill” Mills

brad By now every Oakland A’s fan has heard of the acquisition of Brad Mills from the Milwaukee Brewers for one dollar. Mills supposedly had a contract with the Brewers stating that he had to be called up from AAA Nashville (where he was doing great–Mills was 4-2 with a 1.56 ERA, lowest in the Pacific Coast League in 14 games including 12 starts for Triple-A Nashville.) by June 15th or be traded.  While the transaction is unusual, Mills isn’t even the first Brewer to be traded for a buck. Wil Nieves was shipped from Milwaukee to Atlanta for $1 in 2011. Third baseman Wes Helms was traded by the Marlins to the Phillies in 2008 for the same sum.

A one-dollar bill. Fluttering there on the sidewalk, yet miraculously motionless in the early-morning breeze; flapping just enough to attract his attention without flying away…..

His foot clamped down upon it, hard; he squatted down fast and dug it out with greedy fingers; crushed it into a ball and stuffed it deep in his pocket. depositphotos_1377137-Empty-cup-of-coffee-and-dollar

It was barely past dawn. Nothing was open. Brad wondered who had dropped it, who had been benign or foolish enough to toss away one whole dollar as if it were nothing, as if it meant nothing. Perhaps they just simply dropped it. It’s only one dollar. It’s not life or death. Brad didn’t think of himself as himself as a temporary collection of atoms with fractionary memory collective. He also didn’t think of himself as worth a dollar. Life is funny that way.

He smiled as he reached his local coffee shop. The curtains hadn’t been drawn yet, but the familiar sign still stood in the window. Coffee, one dollar. He sat down on the sidewalk, waiting. It smelled of stale vomit, the product of the golden hammer of gentrification that had not yet been brought down.
There was a click and the door opened behind him. He was glad to get out of the Oakland rain.

Jason Kendall and his new book, “Throwback.”

kendall21) Let’s start off by promoting your new book, “Throwback.” (I read it…and it is definitely one of my favorite baseball books of all time.) Talk a bit about how the book came about and why you decided to do it.
First, thank you for the compliment.  I never had any intention of writing a book, it actually just fell in my lap.  I started playing for the Royals in 2010 and noticed this sports reporter named Lee Judge who was different than any other media guy I had seen over the past 15 years in the locker rooms.  Instead of focusing on the negative when interviewing guys, he was actually asking questions trying to get into the players heads and understand the game play by play.  One day, I jokingly said, “Hey, you should write a book.”  He said, “Yeah, you should write one with me.”  The next thing I knew we had a book deal.
2) What are your impressions on the Oakland organization and how does it differ from other teams?
It’s a low-market team, but Billy (Beane) always finds a way to get the right people despite the low payroll and every September they seem to be in the thick of things.  If you have listened to any of my interviews, any time I’m asked where my favorite place to play was, I always answer Oakland.  It was the first time in my career I made it to the play-offs and that is what I used to dream about when I was a kid playing wiffleball with my brother in the backyard.
3) What are your first thoughts when you see this picture? (below)
Talk about throwback.  That’s a 16 year old punk.  And they don’t make Pony-fucking spikes anymore.  I was a junior in high school and knew I was going to make it in the big leagues somehow.

kid

16 year old punk.

4) Can you get into more detail about the John Lackey confrontation? 
The A’s and the Angels had been going back and forth all year and we didn’t like them and they didn’t like us.  It became a pretty good rivalry.  It was a 2-1 count, bases were loaded, we had 1 out and I had a free RBI out there.  To give you some background, I got hit a lot and started getting a lot of contusions on my bicep so my trainers had me wear an elbow pad.   Lackey threw a curveball and I got out of the way.  I was getting ready to step back in the box and I heard, “You mother-fucker, take that elbow pad off you fuck!”  Nobody is going to speak to me that way.  I have a hard time when people yell at me, but those words really set me off and I went after him.  The next thing I knew, we were on the bottom of the pile and my arm was around his neck and I wasn’t letting go.  Every time I heard, “I can’t breathe” it made me squeeze harder. The pile broke up and that was it.  He wasn’t going to hit, so I was going to take care of it then.  We were a tough team and nobody was going to disrespect us.  That all being said, he’s a great player and I have a lot of respect for the guy.
5) How did you adjust after your horrific ankle injury, and do you think your thumb injury in Pittsburgh took away your ability to hit for power?
The ankle ended up being fine, but I may have lost a step or two.  But, tearing my thumb apart was definitely when I lost my power and had to change the way I hit.  That’s what the game is about: making adjustments.  Your hands are everything in this game.  I became more of a situational hitter and couldn’t grab the ball the way I used to.  It was 10 times worse for my baseball career than my ankle injury because every hit I took or ball I caught felt like someone stabbing a knife in my hand.
6) What was the biggest moment in your Oakland Athletics career?
Going to the post-season.
7) Since 1920 you have the most stolen bases by a catcher with 189. Can you talk a bit about your approach?
It’s not how fast you are, but knowing how to run the bases  Baserunning is a huge part of the game, even the slowest players can steal a base if they know how to and put in the work. It was part of my game and I took pride in doing it.
8) You come from an old school baseball background, so what was your impression of the run being scored as Alex Rodriguez cried like a little baby?
 Don’t get me started on him.

 

Matt Chapman will now buy lunch for his future teammates that will make considerably less dough.

The Athletics newest “bonus baby.”

I usually don’t pay much attention to the MLB draft. By the time most of these guys even sniff the Majors I will probably be a different person physically, financially, mentally and perhaps even mortally. But, in this day and age it’s practically impossible not to hear some sort of information, and that’s exactly what happened as I was sipping a Corona and seeping in a hot tub. The media was lauding this as Bud Selig’s last draft (his desperation to go down in history was all but sealed when he became the first commissioner to unveil his own statue; a horrifically tacky move. I can’t imagine that sour-faced racist Kenesaw Mountain Landis doing such a thing….and really, did anyone in the history of man self-aggrandize themselves more?) when the Athletics drafted a kid out of Cal State Fullerton with the 25th pick.

“Holy Shit”, I thought, “I went to high school right across the street.”

That’s right…Fullerton, California.

( as the pot smoke clears….cue dream/reminiscent music)

I was sitting in class one day when the surfer kid with long, blonde flowing hair told me about a free concert at the college. (We had many “deep” conversations about how the Keanu Reeves movie, Point Break had bastardized surfing culture, and he knew I was highly involved in the local punk scene which consisted in playing in bands, setting up shows, putting out fanzines, making out, committing petty crimes, talking shit, and hanging out.)

“Dude, it’s Firehose….you remember Mike Watt right? The fucking Minutemen!”

Yep. We got some homeless guy to buy us beer, skipped school and saw an awesome show. (all before Matt Chapman was born in 1993!)

Obligatory ‘Fro scouting report: Mr. Chapman was undrafted out of high school, but seemingly grew into himself in college. Scout.com’s National Baseball Analyst Kiley McDaniel had this to say about Chapman in a recent scouting report: “I loved his infield and batting practice for Team USA, flashing huge raw power….. along with a plus-plus arm that some call an 80 and has hit the upper 90’s on the mound, though he’s thrown just a handful of innings in the last few years. Chapman is at least an average third baseman, so the only question is the bat. His performances haven’t been terrible, but he basically hasn’t shown the ability to hit and hit for power at the same time at any point in his career.”

The Athletics, always thinking ahead, know that this guy can be converted into a pitcher if he can’t hit professional pitching. He sees himself as a hard-nosed, scrappy player and that will always be of value in the Oakland system. I am going to give this pick a B minus….and now I am going back to the hot tub. Cheers.

 

 

Bonus Baby

billy The Oakland A’s took Billy McKinney with the 24th overall pick in the 2013 draft making the then–18 year old an instant millionaire. Billy is now 19 and playing for the class A Stockton Ports in beautiful Stockton, California. (that was tongue in cheek…Stockton has one of the highest unemployment and crime rates in the state of California. Read: dump.)

I recently took the time to send an interview to Billy expecting Annie Savoy and what I got back was Crash Davis:

I’ve always had a strange obsession with the minor leagues. Can you tell us a bit about it?

The bus rides are a grind for sure. Feel long.

How is the pitching different in the Cal League than in high school?

Pitchers are more consistent and have better “stuff.”

Do you enjoy California?

Cali is very nice, great weather.

In the end I am glad the young man took the time to answer my request and even send me an autograph. Mr. McKinney has a supporter here at the ‘Fro, and we will be keeping a watchful eye on his progression throughout his minor league career.

 

 

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