The ‘Fro gives the week in review.

A's jonesy

My buddy, Jonesy chillin’ and listening to Prince.

We’re all excited
But we don’t know why
Maybe it’s ’cause
We’re all gonna die
And when we do
What’s it all for
You better live now
Before the grim reaper come knocking on your door
–Prince “Let’s get crazy”

It was truly a sad day when Prince died last week. In an era of cookie cutter, soul-less music he stood out as a mega-talented musician with magical song writing ability. Like every other human being I saw his death as a chance to reminisce about a moment, long forgotten, in my own life. The memories came rushing through, synapses released, and suddenly I remembered the first time I had seen a Prince video–it was in 1984 and I was nine years old and playing with a few cousins at my grandparents house. All of the sudden “When Doves Cry” came on the television and it was as if the world had stopped and my tiny brain was shattered. I had never seen anyone so ethereal and androgynous. He was calling the world “cold” and criticizing his parents as fallible human beings. I was instantly infatuated and intrigued by this new possibility of undermining expectations. Prince was something different, something refreshing in an era of faux reggae, (The Police) misogynist “cock rock,” and Phil Collins-esque waiting room music. A friend once told me that the movie “Purple Rain” scared the shit out of him when he was a small child. That is pure genius as far as I’m concerned. R.I.P. Purple One.
COGHLANThe A’s sweep of the Yankees last week was beautiful but the moment was a bit sweeter because of the fact that the Bronx Bomber’s telecasters had the pretension to call the Athletics a AAA team. I thought it particularly funny because of the fact that the Yankees lineup isn’t all that impressive and quite a few couldn’t even start over the regular players in Oakland. New Yorkers have been delusional about the Yankees for quite some time and seeing them as contenders this season is a bit laughable in its tedium. They drank the proverbial Kool-Aid.  Most people root for laundry but Yankees fans root for dissipated ghosts. Chris Coghlan hit a two run jack in the 8th inning in game 3 giving the A’s a 6-3 lead and all but insuring an A’s sweep. The cameras then panned to a kid about 8 years old crying in the stands. I am not one to enjoy seeing kids cry but this bratty Millennial (or whatever the hell kids are called these days) was crying because his delusions were being destroyed. Seemed fitting for a Yankees fan…here’s to hoping they have many terrible seasons ahead and the fans keep crying because of their own self-imposed importance.

Brian Kingman talks about his career and his troubles with Billy Martin.

kingman customCCA: On page 209 of Nancy Finley’s new book “Finley Ball,” she writes that manager Billy Martin started dating Jill, who he eventually married. (She also was called “the devil” by his children from another marriage by refusing to give them any memorabilia and selling it all after Martin’s death.) Is it true that she was dating a player who asked you “how do you complain to the manager who is hitting on your girlfriend?” Are you comfortable naming this player?

REVISITING 1980 – BILLY MARTIN’S DOG HOUSE & SOAP OPERA

“Billy first laid eyes on Jill Guiver in 1980 before a game against the California Angels. She had a camera on her shoulder. Though she didn’t work for any organization, she was telling everyone she was a free-lance photographer. At one time she had dated one of the Yankee players, Reggie Jackson. According to ball players who knew her at the time, her photography was her way to get to meet them. The way she looked, an introduction was all she needed. She liked to wear tight-fitting clothes and short shorts. She was very sexy. Jill asked Billy if she could take his picture. Billy asked her if he could take her for a drink after the game. They began dating, which threw a scare into at least four of Billy’s players who were also seeing her. These players feared that she would reveal to Billy that they were also going with her and that Billy would take it out on them. They were praying that Billy’s relationship with Jill Guiver would soon end, that she was only a phase, in part because they feared Billy’s wrath and also because as long as Billy was with her, they couldn’t be.” ~ Wild, High and Tight: The Life and Death of Billy Martin billyjill1

BK:I don’t know if it was the day Billy met Jill, but it had to be close to it. All the players had noticed an attractive woman with a camera near our dugout during batting practice. Billy spent an abnormally long amount of time in the clubhouse during the game that day. This was extremely rare. Billy was always watching the game from the dugout. I wasn’t pitching on this day and happened to be in the clubhouse when I saw Billy emerge from the manager’s office with Jill. Most of the players had noticed Billy’s unusually long absence from the dugout,and a few knew that Billy was interested in the “girl with the camera”. I don’t think any of them knew he was alone with her in the manager’s office during the game.

Well I don’t know about four players on our team dating her, but I had heard of one that was. During the game I mentioned to him that I had seen Jill in Billy’s office. His response was “How do you complain to the manager who is hitting on your girlfriend?” Maybe he was just wondering what those other guys mentioned in Wild High & Tight were going to do about it?

CCA: There was also an instance mentioned in the same book where Martin tells you to walk a guy and the guy reaches out and slaps a single on pitch that was meant to be ball and Martin apparently charged out of the dugout screaming, “you motherfucker…I told you to walk him!”

BK:There were actually two games where Billy really surprised me with the way he handled things. The first one is the one you asked about, where Billy came out of the dugout yelling at me. It was against the Cleveland Indians. The second game was about two months later against the Toronto Blue Jays. Both are described below:

THIS IS THE HORSESHIT MOTHERFUCKER GAME AGAINST THE INDIANS (MAY 7, 1980)

On May 7, 1980 I pitched a game against the Cleveland Indians in Oakland. It was a day game and there were maybe 5,000 fans in attendance. I didn’t give up a hit until the 5th inning, but in the 6th I gave up two hits and when Mike Hargrove came to the plate, Billy Martin came to the mound.Billy told me to throw Hargrove four straight pitches high and away. “Maybe we can get him to pop up”. The first two pitches were shoulder-high and a foot outside. The next pitch was a little higher, but maybe only 9 or 10 inches off the plate. Hargrove managed get a hit and Billy came out of the dugout screaming obscenities (“You horse shit motherfucker”) at me. With such a small crowd his voice carried, and could be heard throughout the stadium.

My catcher Jim Essian couldn’t believe that we didn’t just walk Hargrove. Which is the same thing Hargrove told our first baseman.

I didn’t pitch again for two weeks!horseshit card

It turns out Hargrove knew that Billy had told me to throw him high fastballs up and away. He said he had seen it before several times when Billy was his manager in Texas.

THE STUPID PITCHER GAME: JULY 21,1980

In the game above, against the Indians, Billy had called me a horseshit motherfucker. In this game, about two months later, I apparently had progressed enough to just being called stupid, which some may see as an upgrade from horseshit motherfucker.

Toronto Blue Jays 1 Oakland Athletics 0

Pitching IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Brian Kingman, L (5-10) 9 9 1 1 2 8 1 3.41

Billy was a great manager. He knew the game, and all of its nuances, inside out. If he had a weakness as a manager it was in how he treated players. He was especially hard on pitchers, especially LOSING pitchers. The last straw for me was in a game he insisted I throw a fastball to a hitter (Alvis Woods) who hit a home run. I threw a complete game and lost 1-0. When the reporters came up to me after the game, they told me that Billy said I was a stupid pitcher because I threw a fastball hitter a fastball behind in the count. My reply to the reporters was: ‘How stupid can I be if Billy is the one who called the pitch? The next day the headline in the sports section was:

KINGMAN RIPS MARTIN

Well, that might not have been the best thing for my career. The old proverb “The truth shall set you free, suddenly turned into “It may be the truth, but the truth shall make Billy mad” I had no idea that would be the headline! I realize that reporters have to make a living, and headlines sell papers, but after this happened, I knew Billy hated me. He was a very small man in that way – holding grudges, always looking for revenge for things real and imagined.

CCA:Nancy also talks a bit about how you were going to get married but Billy Martin was dead set against it. You lost 9 in a row after the marriage. What was going on there?
Was it a psychological issue? Rebellion?

BK:The short answer is that It wasn’t a rebellion. It was just the cumulative effect of a very toxic situation. The combination of poor run support combined with a manager who unless you were winning, was one of the hardest managers to pitch for. Instead of looking forward to my next start, I began to dread it. For the long answer read on:

The games above preceded my 9 game losing streak. Before the losing streak my record was 7-11 and my ERA was 3.41. I easily could have been 11-7, except for the fact that I was getting less than 3 runs a game in offensive support.

The 2.50 runs per game the A’s scored in my 20 losses are deceptive because 11 of the 50 runs scored were in one game.
If you take out those 11 runs and that one game, I got a whopping 2.05 runs per game in my other 19 losses. If I had been 11-7 with a 3.41 ERA I believe I Billy would have found someone else to pick on. Everyone is happy when they are winning. Losing was like a small piece of death for Billy,and I was losing at an alarming rate.

In order to get married I was going to have to miss a game. I told Art Fowler about my plans and he said “You’d better ask Billy, he usually doesn’t like guys getting married during the season because it’s a distraction” I told Art that I would ask Billy, but I was thinking there could be no bigger distraction for me than Billy. My first goal when I stepped on the mound was to win the game. My second goal, unfortunately had become to avoid incurring Billy’s wrath.

Billy “granted” me permission to miss a game and get married. When I returned I threw 3 straight complete games, but lost all three by the scores of 3 -2, 4 -3 & 4 -2. I pitched well in those games. I think my era was around 3.5, yet my record now stood at 7-14. The main reason I was losing once again was a lack of offensive support. One of the most devastating factors to a pitchers won-loss record is a lack of offensive support. It the difference between winning 5-4 instead of losing 3-2.

“As for Kingman’s run support, it was literally historically bad. I’ve gone through the game logs at retrosheet & figured out the run support (adjusted for park & league)for 1096 different seasons in which a pitcher started at least 25 games. Kingman’s 1980 is the 13th worst of that bunch. His run support was only 68% of league average when adjusted for park & league.”

future starsI read this about 10-12 years ago on line. It was written by a blogger called Dag Nabbit. It was from one of those baseball Sabermetric sites that are often a challenge to read, but he did a good job of translating my misery and explaining it numerically. I have always want to thank Dag Nabbit, so maybe he will read this. I am positive that very, very few fans, or even players pay attention to a pitcher’s long term lack of offensive support, and even fewer appreciate how utterly devastating it can be.

In the remaining six games of my losing streak, I pitched less effectively than I had up to that point in the season. There is no doubt that the psychological burden of losing was becoming more and more of a factor. Constant, long term losing erodes confidence, which is crucial to success in all sports.The lethal combination of poor offensive support and playing for a manager who hated to lose perhaps more than any manager in baseball history took it’s toll on me. There was an increasingly pervasive sense of futility that you think you can overcome by being mentally tough, and to a certain degree you can. However it is still a burden, an additional obstacle, for which the only remedy is to win. It felt like I was the only one losing, since all the other starters were winning. After losing nine consecutive games my record stood at 7-20.

“Brian Kingman was a pitcher who was very frustrating to Billy because Billy could see he was probably the most talented of the five of us as far as stuff went. Brian was a very intellectual guy. If Brian and Billy had a problem, it was because Brian would not talk to Billy about things that bothered him or about personal things” ~Matt Keough Wild, High and Tight: The Life and Death of Billy Martin

If you look at the history of 20 game losers you’ll see that virtually all of them were on teams that lost at least 90 games, and quite often 100 games or more. On those teams with 20 game losers almost all the starters have losing records.They say misery loves company, well I was all alone in 1980. In fact the last time a pitcher lost 20 games on a winning team was in 1922. His name
was Dolf Luque. Ironically I was a winning pitcher in 1979 (8-7) with a team that lost 108 games.

Giants continue to pilfer bandwagon fans.

“We tend to think of true fandom as a virtue and of bandwagon jumping as a vice. But why? What’s so great about parking suckspulling 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 Disney-fication of baseball. It isn’t the fact that their two biggest stars, Willie Mays and Barry Bonds are self entitled assholes that simply played a boy’s game well. It isn’t even the obnoxious, loudmouthed selfie-taking “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 if their lives depended on it.

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 using group-thought as a facade of wealth.) This self-vindication has led these rubes 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…and, according to the photo above, much more poverty-stricken as well.

Dodger Stadium and the “all you can eat” section.

 

me hot dogI’m not sure if I believe in chakras or not but mine certainly weren’t aligned Friday night as I stepped into Dodger Stadium to watch the Blue Crew take on the hated Anaheim (I refuse to call them Los Angeles as they don’t play in the city or even the county!) Angels. We sat in the right field all-you-can-eat section and loaded up on hotdogs, peanuts, popcorn and nachos. I immediately spilled nacho sauce down my shirt.
Strike one.
Japanese import Kenta Maeda was on the mound for the Dodgers so there were large groups of Japanese walking up and down the aisles with the men mostly wearing suits and ties and the women looking “smart for the office.” At one point a tiny Japanese girl walks by and spilled a hotdog right into my lap. My leg is now completely covered in mustard and relish. She apologized profusely in scant English and I felt really terrible for her. I told her everything was ok and went to clean myself off in the bathroom.
Strike two.
The Dodgers can’t do a darn thing and eventually lose 5-1.
Strike 3.
It was fun watching the drunk guy in front of me entertain the crowd with some well-timed jokes, “Angels suck” chants and profuse booing of Albert Pujols. His wife cackled at every spectacle. A girl a few seats behind me vomited everywhere. My girlfriend was trying to get center fielder Joc Pederson to wave at her which he eventually did. She was smitten, and he just might be one of her new favorite Dodgers. (She’s a Dodgers fan.) I’ve always been a bleacher-creature kind of guy and the free food thrown in made this a really fun, yet grimy game. We got home around 11 o’ clock and I immediately threw my clothes in the washing machine. trash aftermath
Opening day is on Monday. Let’s go Oakland!

Goose Gossage proves the term “douche bag” has no age limit.

goose douchbagDear Goose:
I’m going to make this short and sweet. Are you kidding me? Dude, you were a CLOSER, arguably one of the most over-rated positions in the sports world. The starting pitchers of the early 20th century are rolling over in their graves with laughter–in their day a reliever was a scrub who couldn’t start and barely got into the game. They also would have called you a “punk” because of your facial hair. You know who invented your position? Statisticians–or “nerds” as you so eloquently called them.
You are in the Hall of Fame for 3 reasons:
A) you were a Yankee (ugh…probably the main reason as you only have to be really good instead of great if you spent most of your career in pinstripes.)
B) You had a handlebar mustache and a dumb nickname.
C) The closer position and statistics hadn’t been established yet. There are guys with almost double the saves that you compliled in a career who aren’t in the HOF and will never get in. You were simply in the right place at the right time.
Jose Batista’s batflip: This was one of the most iconic homeruns in ML history in a ALDS game 5. It put the BlueJays ahead and had (possibly) put an end to a very emotionally charged game that would put Toronto in the ALCS. Topps decided that it was so important that they immortalized it on a baseball card. It was an exciting moment. Jose Bautista is one of the most exciting sluggers in the game. Excitment brings in fans. Fans bring in money. Money is the bottom line. Bautista is in the entertainment industry, not the “raise your kids for you” or “act like you want me to act” industry. I doubt many fans were going to games or sitting in front of the tube clamoring for you to hold a 3 run lead in the 9th in order to pad your bogus statistics while sitting on your ass the whole game. Now that’s entertainment!
This blog is tired of arguing the bat flip and its racist connotations. Latin players do it all the time and it isn’t a big deal; it’s just as ingrained in their culture as live bands and vuvazelas. Latin players are more pervasive in baseball than ever before so they are going to bring their culture with them. Japan, a traditionally rigid country, embraces the bat flip. Baseball culture changes with the world and the world has always changed, physically and theoretically. Perhaps there is a racial component to some of your criticism, perhaps not, but I do know one thing: you would have been one of the players that refused to play with Jackie Robinson because that would mean embracing change.
To put it simply….you are a punk.

Ex-marine uncovers reptilian aliens who turn out to be A’s fans.

alien A's fan

Ubbesk seems harmless enough.

Ex-marine Kyle Odom was arrested on Tuesday after shooting a prominent preacher twelve times in Idaho after claiming that the padre was in cahoots with reptilian aliens from Mars that have been here “long before us” have technology “millions of years ahead of ours.” These aliens had been harassing him for about two years after he contacted one during a meditation session. These hyper-sexual, paranoid aliens rule the Earth and have made President Obama their sex slave — a species of “amphibian-humanoids” that include dozens of U.S. politicians.

“The Martians came to Earth here before humans, live underground and bred humans so they can walk among us,” Odom wrote.

This blog was contacted by Ubbesk, the supposed leader of the alien species who wanted things to be cleared up.

“We have never contacted this man, Ubbesk said, and I have 4 witnesses that can tell you I was at a spring training game in Mesa on the day I supposedly contacted Mr. Odom.”

Ubbesk then went on to say that he has high hopes for the team this season and he is highly disappointed in the play of Billy Butler.

“The guy is a disgrace to the human species…I will never figure out why humans feel the need to consume so much pre-packaged crap.”

 

Hippy Harry and his Oakland A’s Spring Training report.

hippy harry cardHarry was one of those flower children from the 60’s who hitch-hiked to Height and Ashbury from an Iowa cornfield and never left. The pull of drugs, sex, music and the radical politics of the time were an overwhelming factor for someone who loved people and having a good time. He met a girl named Darlene who was 19, had long blonde hair and was so with it that she could quote Karl Marx and roll a doobie at the same time. Harry and Darlene were on and off for about 5 years until she split with a Hells Angel from Lodi. This turn of event was an eye-opener for Harry and he realized that sub-cultures consummating into capitalistic entities do what they normally do–die off. Charles Manson hadn’t helped matters much with his shenanigans in Los Angeles and the hippies of the 60’s that had survived drugs and prison were blossoming into tax-paying citizens and looking for something else to do. So was Harry.
Harry eventually moved to the much cheaper Oakland side of the Bay and got a square job working at a Co-op grocery store. He also started going to baseball games at the Oakland Coliseum in the 70’s and the timing was perfect to mold him into a life long A’s fan. The A’s won 3 straight World Series and had great players like Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson and Sal Bando. He liked that these guys were brash, outspoken and had long hair and afros. These were his guys.
Harry is now 67 and lives in Petaluma, California in his “Château Relaxo.” I recently sent him to check out the A’s and the Royals during a Spring Training game in Mesa. Here is his report:
Mesa is an uncultured bubble community with no sense of inspiration–it is flat, hot, dusty and the only thing to do is eat, get drunk or cook meth. I checked into my hotel and decided to eat at “Connie’s” the diner next door. Now I know why I never see dead animals on the roads, they’re all in the restaurants. Talk about the heat. The damn pool water gets as hot as the outside temps. I met a sweet Mexican girl named Lola who was going to the game the next day. We drank rum, listened to the Eagles and talked for most of the night. She gave me a kiss on the cheek and promised to buy me a beer if she saw me the next day. You’d be surprised how easy it is to find someone like me in a crowd of only 5,000 people.
The next day I was a tad bit hung over, yet giddy as I took a couple of puffs off the pipe and downed a few beers in the parking lot. My Prius was gasping for air. Hohokam stadium is a smallish park that seats about 10,000 and has a majestic view of the sky. I live in a part of California that is so lush with greenery and downcast that anything wide open and infinite like this is a bit strange, yet it was pleasant. I have been an A’s fan for the better part of 40 years and had never been to Spring Training. Bucket list.
The vibe and weather were very relaxing and the mixture of baseball, sun and the night before had me falling into a sort of meditative slumber, and then I would jolt awake during every crack of the bat. I imagine it would have been quite hilarious from an outsiders perspective. Around the 4th inning I felt someone shaking me from behind. It was Lola. We went and had a few beers while walking around the stadium. She was a beautiful brown-skinned girl from the 70’s that came from a traditional Catholic family and didn’t look a lick like her age. She had strength, wisdom and a beautiful smile.
Oh, yeah. The A’s won 6-4 as my favorite player Stephen Vogt went yard twice. This vacation was turning out to be quite nice. That is all from my Spring Training report. Harry over and out.

Khris Davis, noodles and Los Angeles.

khrid davis noodle cartoon

“Noodle Arm”

The man sits regally and casually; wearing old style European clothing. Perhaps I felt this way because I was sitting in a park that reminded me of Spain– buildings towering around us in order to block out the sunlight. A couple of hummingbirds zip by me; connected in a seemingly sexual position. What a strange sound. As my attention span carbon copies the urban wildlife I notice that the “European” man is staring at me. (This is also known as the “devils” work of double–sense deluding.) The man rises and quietly opens an aluminum walker. And it is a woman. She was simply waiting for her granddaughter in the outside smoking section of a train depot in the middle of Los Angeles.
I rub my eyes and grab a newspaper to pass the time; a rare and tragic event that I enjoy and makes me look like a moth-eaten antique.
FRONT PAGE: More cosmetic culture. An American culture that cultivates an idea of a free destiny within a firmly imposed but imperceptible and uniform attitude. Most people are confused by this dilemma and just choose the easy way out: make money and fuck everyone else. Who am I to judge? I’ve done the same with impunity and thought I was better for it. We learn to sleep at night with no guilt. Sometimes that sense of peace and safety is all we have to hold on to.
ENTERTAINMENT: Idiot hip-hop artists and their self-importance; a soon-to-be-dead genre because of its chichi and an unrealistic approach to self-impressions as well as economics, actors schlepping terrible movies that will be forgotten within weeks, the occasional mass-produced book review, artists trying to make money from David Bowie’s still fresh corpse etc.
SPORTS: The A’s have acquired Khris Davis from the Milwaukee Brewers. Left fielder with some pop and a noodle arm. So– the only weakness is that we wont get a 7-5 tag-out during a dink base hit; and at least I am slightly reassured that Beane (or whoever the hell the new G.M. may be) is at least trying to put a competitive team on the field in 2016 and not tanking like many other teams……although everyone knows if they start slowly, the FOR SALE signs will quickly go up again.
I fold the newspaper and lay it on the bench for future travelers. The thought fades as soon as it appears.

My mother hated Brian Fuentes.

fuentes cc use“Goddamn it, they put his dumb ass in there again… I’m going to bed!” my mother says as she jumps out of her La-Z-Boy and tosses the remote control at me.

“He might do it this time,” I say as he meticulously blows another tightly contested/hard-fought contest in the ninth. There is nothing worse in the baseball world than a closer who embodies a dumpster fire.

Mom by no means is a knowledgable baseball fan, but she knows what she doesn’t like…and she didn’t like Brian Fuentes. I knew how she felt. It got to be frustrating sitting there for 3 hours and change just to see this big-eared, goatee’d goofball with a lame-duck delivery and an inflated contract desecrating your team’s chances of winning. It hurt even more to know that he was forsaken by the Angels, the terrible team from Orange County that famously sticks with terrible closers. If that smug blockhead Mike Scioscia is fed up with a reliever than there is reason for panic.

I had been to the Oakland “Mausoleum” merely days before, proudly sporting my green cap with the gold, gothic “A” on the front. The night began with a few nips from a flask at the BART station and ended with fans staying after the game to verbally try to rip Fuentes a new asshole as he blew yet another save; becoming the physical incarnation of our dwindling hope as fans. I sat there stunned, giving in to shikata ga nai: the japanese habit of surrendering to fate. When the A’s finally released Fuentes (STILL paying that contract off by the way) my mother could only say with a dismissive wave, “Well, you can’t make chicken salad outta chicken shit.”

More self-absorbed baseball reminiscing.

I'm assuming the penis and cigarette has lowered the value quite dramatically.

I’m assuming the penis and cigarette has lowered the value quite dramatically. Perhaps done by a jilted Reds or Dodgers fan?

At 12 years old my interests were the same as your average kid from the 80’s era as I enjoyed playing with Star Wars toys with friends, re-creating scenes from Return of the Jedi and eating the latest sugary cereal concoction that hit the market. Seeing that we were boys and enjoyed rough-housing, there was also the random broken window from a baseball being batted which is decidedly why my friends and I began making balls with newspaper and duct tape– in retrospect this was a genius move as we couldn’t care less if we lost the ball and there were no more broken windows and the inevitable grounding and ass-tanning that came with it.

This was the year I went to my first Major League Baseball game which was on September 26, 1987. I know this because my Grandfather took me because it was “Reggie Jackson Day,” and Reggie being his all-time favorite player made this game matter-of-course. The Oakland Coliseum wasn’t the out-dated monstrosity that it has become today and back then you actually had a view of the Oakland hills behind the bleachers, a view akin to Dodger Stadium today. The details of the actual game have been blurred through time, yet I remember being disappointed that Reggie batted only once (on his day!) in a pinch hit role, popping out. After a bit of research what had once been in my mind’s-eye, indeed, the above date held true. Ol’ Reg had stepped in the box once–popping out with runners on second and third in a 3-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox and their new pig-tail “C” caps.

After the game Reggie was in a bad mood.

“I’m not into talking about how wonderful things are for me when we’ve lost four in a row,” he said. “I’m embarrassed.”

“If we had won, it would be different. But right now, my esteem is low. My self-importance is microscopic.”

The box-score is interesting to me as I remember my 12-year-old self wondering, “Who in the hell is Walt Weiss?” (Regular short-stop Alfredo Griffin must have been hurt or taking the day off) Weiss was in his third month in the league, and went on to win Rookie of the Year the next season. Long time Oakland A’s pitching coach Curt Young started the game, pitching 7 strong innings and giving up 1 run. (This wasn’t part of my memory, as the only one I remember is Reggie batting once and popping out which probably destroyed my belief in predestiny and prepared me for the heartbreak and disappointment of being an A’s fan for years to come) Overall, I don’t remember much as far as feelings or any other waxing “ball park details”, except the expansiveness of the field, my grandfathers chain-smoking of Marlboro “Reds”, and pissing in a trough for the first time. Yet, I must liken this experience to a crack head’s first hit as it led me a life-long obsession that still exists to this day.

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