“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.”
I am trapped in my own thoughts–trapped in a no man’s land between feeling and articulation. The air is stale and dry. I’m watching the Athletics and the White Sox on the tube when Brandon Moss strikes out on a wicked “Uncle Charlie.” (Hitting coach Chili Davis didn’t see Moss as a “Punch and Judy” hitter, taught him to open up his hips and the power came naturally. Now he’s a dead pull hitter and one of the better home run hitters in the A.L.)
“Goddamn it!” I say as the remote hits the ground with an uncommon zeal. Why do I care so much? Is this a character flaw? I know that the owners are egregious little shits that want to extort the most money they can from municipalities. (and nothing is worse than the person who magically becomes broke the second they have to spend money on something that isn’t to their immediate and unequivocal satisfaction) I know that stadiums don’t return their investments to their communities. Yet, despite my contrarian attitude…I still care. Perhaps because adult life consists of boredom, routine and petty frustrations that I enjoy this form of entertainment and escape. Perhaps I am like most Americans and I like to celebrate the inane. Perhaps I am just bullshitting myself to give this one-sided conversation some “lather.” I get tired of these tedious romantico-absurdist soul-searchings and it makes me feel like an incorrigible sack of shit.
I watch this game because it makes me feel safe for a moment. No amount of information regarding ice melting in Antarctica can faze me. (and no amount of dipshit Republicans denying it either) This game brings back memories of people that I have lost. Some people feel like they don’t deserve love. They enter empty rooms and close the door of the past behind them.
Daric Barton is the player every Athletics fan loves to hate. He was put on waivers TWICE in one week and not ONE team claimed him! (not even the Mets) Welcome to the first installment of Daric Barton, churro vendor:
I pull into the parking lot, pay my 1.50 for parking, and proceed to fill my large cup with some vodka and orange juice. I finally park after 15 minutes of driving around and about 15 minutes of arguing with complete strangers. Welcome to the West Wind Coliseum Swap Meet in Oakland, Ca. Everyone loves the swap meet, yet I don’t know whether to love or hate this place. It’s dirty, many of the vendors are lacking in English language skills, and I haven’t really found anything useful here. It’s an interesting cultural experience, to say the least. If you want cheap slutty clothes, funky gaudy jewelry, electronics that may or may not have “fallen off the truck” or strange kitsch from south of the border, you may find yourself in heaven here. Personally, I go there for the vintage video games and baseball memorabilia (and the big booty mannequins). When it comes to selling junk (or clutter if you prefer) most of the stuff here looked like leftovers from a dumpster. This place was reminding me of a Daric Barton at bat on a sunny day: the only thing you’re going to leave with is a sunburn and a little less dignity than you had before.
On the positive note, they also have multiple booths throughout, selling beer or micheladas at reasonable prices. I’m done with the vodka and purchase a Dos Equis from a vendor. The day is reasonably cool and I’m getting a slight buzz on. After a couple of puffs from my vape pen, I’m feeling rough and ready. I’m stumbling around at a slow pace and trying to ignore the constant yammering from the vendors. It sort of reminded me of “the alleys” in downtown Los Angeles. This conversation between a kid and her grandma had me snickering all the way back to my car:
Abuela: Do you want it? I’ll buy it for you. I had one in my room when I was your age.
Kid: Uh…who is it?
Abuela: Whaddya mean, who is it? Don’t you know who the Virgin is?
Kid: Oh sure. I know who she is.
Abuela: (Turns to vendor to pay for portrait)
Kid: (Turns to me shrugs her shoulders and mouths ‘Who is that?)
Daric Barton, churro seller season stats: 48 AB’s, 0 HR’s, .146 average.
. I woke up excited and elated about game number 162 and the fact that the winner between the A’s and the Rangers would be the champion of the A.L. West. Not being the superstitious type, I, for some peculiar reason decided that if I listened casually, the A’s would have a better shot at winning as my stress level would somehow cosmically relax my guys into some quality AB’s. My incredibly unscientific theory was working as the A’s scored a run in the bottom of the first while I was barely paying attention and reading books on 80’s hardcore and Dadaist theory. The baseball gods, however, didn’t think much of this and took it out on poor A.J. Griffin in the top of the 3rd as he was knocked around for 5 runs (4 earned) while I’m screaming (and paying full attention now) at Bob Melvin for hooking him 2 batters too late. “At least we still have the wildcard spot,” I say to myself as I’m reading about Henry Rollins working in an ice cream shop pre-Black Flag. I had told my friends that this was a team of destiny, and felt righteously ashamed as the A’s put up a 6 spot in the bottom of the 4th on Ryan “The Dumpster” Dempster and Derek “Pubic mustache” Holland (2 of which came on a lazy Yoenes Cespedes popup to center that Josh “I can’t hit during the day because I have blue eyes” Hamilton dropped in the blazing California sun. I’d like to imagine it was because he was bothered by the pot smoke billowing from the bleachers. (He had complained about this during the 2010 World Series in San Francisco, and didn’t see it as compassionate because of his ex- drug addict status.) Little- used Evan Scribner and the rest of the ‘pen shut down the bad guys the rest of the way as the A’s piled on 4 more runs in the 8th, sending Oakland fans into a delirium and a place long forgotten… A.L. West champs. Did my theory work? Fuck it…. who gives a shit! I love these guys! Bring on the Tigers!