Just a few random thoughts……The A’s bullpen has stunk this season. The Jim Johnson fiasco and Luke Gregerson’s 7 blown saves has given a crap team like the Angels a chance to compete. (and let’s face it, Bob Melvin has enough on his plate– worrying about 3 platoon catchers, Brandon Moss’ slump, where to play him and all that jazz.) There are the people who think the ‘pen is fine based on BABIP and SIERA , (no, not Ruben!) but I tend to go with my eyes rather than a bunch of stats conjured from thin air by numbers-crunchers and the jobless. It gets so ridiculous at times that you wonder how they could ever cross the street until they figured out the Pythagorean projection of success. (A note to the ladies…they are most likely bad in bed.)….
…Is former Athletic and current Astro Chris Carter the new Dave Kingman? His stats suggest so. He has amazing power, low batting average, strikes out a lot, yet throw a hanger and that fucker will have its own stewardess. The only difference being that Chris is a soft-spoken “good guy” and Kingman was known for being one of the game’s biggest assholes…so much so that after hitting 35 round-trippers no one signed him….and he NEVER PLAYED AGAIN…
…The vape pen is the best thing to ever happen for all you low-key weed smokers/baseball fans. It’s compact, and you can get your smoke on without any of those corny ass, nosey, do-gooders getting in your face for no good goddamn reason. It’s the perfect ballpark accessory. (this works extra well late in the post-season and early summer when the “on the cusp” bring their kids and ignorantly see the ballpark as Disneyland.)…
The season is slowly/quickly and sadly coming to an end.
Here I am again, sitting by the poolside with a screwdriver, one of my favorite adult beverages. You may think that I’m trying to be a braggart, but L.A. summers are hot, man. I’m not having the time of my life or anything. Mind you, I live in a post WW 2 bungalow (L.A. is known for these….look for them in just about EVERY movie) so I don’t have air conditioning. Yep….tough times.
OK…OK….on to baseball. As you may or may not know my answers are unfiltered and to-the-point, often poignant but always unsentimental, not rude but refusing to infest the garden of honest human communication with the Victorian-seeded, American-sprouted weed of pointless politeness. What was the question you asked?
Well, the A’s sucking major ball-sack lately.
The A’s hitting has been anemic since “the trade”. They are 7-10 since trading the “Cuban Missile” and have currently lost 7 out of their last 8. They got a great ace in Lester but traded their 4 hitter to get him. Losing Cespedes has an effect on your 3 an 5 hitters and, ultimately, your entire lineup…..and that’s fine. There is a philosophy at work here. And that philosophy is based on “gamers”, L/R matchups (the baseball du jour) and amazing starting pitching.
I’ll take the above mentioned any day of the week over a guy who had an OBP of barely .300 and would make a great play every now and then. This is baseball…it takes patience, articulation and grittiness to win. If I know anything about this team….we’ll be alright. This is a desperate plea to all the nerds out there in internet land….CALM DOWN! I DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING! ENJOY BASEBALL! SOMETIMES YOU LOSE! LIFE GOES ON! QUIT BLOWING UP MY INBOX! …..and now…..back to my screwdriver.
In some ways, the home run is like the bright colors in a modern painting. They immediately attract attention, and for those not schooled in viewing modern art, they may overshadow other more subtle tones that are of equal or greater interest. But for those who appreciate the variety of baseball strategies and skills, the home run is not required. And importantly, the walk is not inherently disappointing. The walk opens up new tensions, new aesthetic possibilities, new kinds of drama, new story lines. – R. Scott Kretchmar
Coco Crisp was the singular player that made my mother fall in love with baseball. What makes it an interesting, even head-scratching affair was that she was in her 50’s when this happened. (A testament to his likability and edge of your seat playing style.) Perhaps it was his strange batting stance– bat held high and chin resting firmly on shoulder in an almost exaggerated motion. Or maybe it was simply because he always had a smile on his face and looked like he was actually having fun out there. (Hello, Mark Ellis!) She loved the tension in the ballpark when he was on the bag and eagerly awaited the eventual stolen base attempt. (surprisingly, he has only led the league once, with 49 swipes in 2011.) “He’s like a little flea!” she would exclaim.
As much as I love home runs, for me the most exciting plays in baseball are the triple, the stolen base and the bench clearing brawl. And as Coco could conceivably achieve 2 of these 3 in any game, he became one of my favorite players as well. (I digress– Crisp did actually charge the mound as a member of the Red Sox. James Shields had come up too far and inside buzzing Coco’s “junk.” Crisp ran at Shields at full speed, side-stepping a wild, girly haymaker before throwing one of his own. He was eventually tackled which gave current teammate Jonny Gomes the opportunity to pummel the now incapacitated Crisp. After the fracas Crisp had a smile on his face whereas Shields looked like he was going to cry.)
“We tend to think of true fandom as a virtue and of bandwagon jumping as a vice. But why? What’s so great about pulling for a team even when it does poorly? And what’s so bad about pulling for a team even when it does well? Humans rightly value loyalty. Being a loyal friend means being a friend even in bad times. Fair-weathered fans are like fair-weathered friends. They display a culpable lack of fidelity. Conversely, one who exhibits genuine fan-hood displays the same exact virtue of a good friend. For the good friend has a reasonable hope and expectation that the friend to whom he/she is being faithful to in the tough times would do the same for them.”
–Thomas D. Senor
I despise the Giants. It isn’t the panda hats and the Disneyfication of baseball. It isn’t the fact that their two biggest stars, Willie Mays and Barry Bonds are crotchety assholes and everyone knows it. It isn’t even the obnoxious, loudmouthed “fans” who couldn’t tell you why you would want to hit a ball to the right side of the infield with a man on second. These same fans use the Giants World Series victories as a sort of personal bourgeois self vindication. (“We live in San Francisco, a world-class city…Oakland sucks.” Whether they be educated and wealthy or not– a typical, though not uniquely American way of group-thought.) This self-vindication has led to some serious deep-rooted racist and classism issues. (seeing Dodger Stadium or the Coliseum as “dangerous” and “full of gangsters” read: blacks and Latinos, while ignoring the multiple murders and beat downs that have happened outside of Pac Bell, which are strangely swept under the rug.)
Baseball is a business, but it’s one made possible by the illusion that each of us has a personal connection to their team and its place. Apparently, this “illusion” has made some fans blind as well. Most Giants fans refuse to acknowledge the territorial rights given to them (for free) by the Oakland club when the municipality extortionists/owners threatened to move the Giants to Tampa Bay in 1992. (once again–loyalty issues.) The Athletics thought it would be in the best interest of baseball to have two teams in the Bay Area. Conversely, over a decade later when the Giants had a sparkling new ballpark of their own, they refused to even sell the rights back to the Athletics ball club, no doubt secretly in cahoots with commissioner Bud Selig in order to get the Oakland ball-club to leave Northern California for good. I will take my leave with a quote from Homer when he wrote The Odyssey some 3000 years ago; “Home is all the sweeter when you’ve braved adventures to get back to it.”
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.
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
During 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. (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.
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.
“The tears I shed yesterday have become rain.”
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.