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.
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.
I drag my Dodgers loving girlfriend down to Anaheim once a year to see the A’s play the Angels because, well, the A’s are the greatest team on the planet, so fuck you. We do our usual pre- game routine of buying bottled water, sunflower seeds and other assorted bric-a-brac and then we’re off on the 45 minute drive south of Los Angeles to a place known as Anaheim. I’m not going to get into it here about my feelings on the O.C. (we get into that later) but let’s just say I think it’s homogenized crap.
We get to the stadium rather uneventfully and I say to the gfriend, “hmmm…the parking is much easier here than at Dodger stadium.”
“That’s because it’s in the middle of a city, this is a suburb!” she shoots back. Fair enough.
It’s 80 degrees outside. A perfect California night, and I’m feeling good as we begin to take the escalators to our upper deck seats. Now, there is a back story here. (Although readers Scott, Katrina, and Don “the cheese” will make fun of me unmercifully for this one.) I almost ALWAYS buy the cheap seats, wait the unwritten baseball rule of 3 innings, and then move to a better seat of my mood and choosing. (this has worked in Seattle, Oakland and San Diego) So I do this, buying 5 dollar seats off of some cynical asshole on stub hub and then pat myself on the head for a job well done. Dear readers, for future reference….THIS DOES NOT WORK IN ANAHEIM OR LOS ANGELES. These stadiums are not as “fan friendly” when it comes to common sense. Ahem. So my plan failed. Fuck you.
The game starts and the A’s scratch across 2 runs in the 2nd, and then a Howie Kendrick jack in the bottom half of the inning makes it 2-1. Ok, we got a ballgame.
gfriend: (who is proud of her Salvadorian heritage, mind you.)
” The vibe is different here, and the crowd is so…..white. All this red reminds me of Republicanism.”
No doubt, sweetheart. I hate the Angels and John McCain too.
Top of the 3rd: Jed Lowrie golfs a three run tater off Garrett Richards that barely clears the out of town scoreboard in left center for a 5-1 lead. I notice then that the Red Sox aren’t playing tonight. Tommy Milone does his best job of fucking it up in the bottom half, giving up a bases drunk double to Howie Kendrick to cut the lead to 5-4. I’m upset and even say a few un-choice words about Tommy boy under my breath, but I want to seem cool in the enemies ballpark, so I let it go. A few innings go by, and we make fun of everyone around us who seem to be checking Facebook on their phones.
Top 7th: “Boss” Moss hits one of the HIGHEST jacks I have ever seen into the Angels right field “shit dump,”
(I have no idea what it is…but it looks ghastly) to make it 7-4. I don’t know about you, but to me, this guy will be long remembered as one of my favorite Oakland A’s. Raw power and passion with a fucking red George Michael beard = bad ass mother fucker. The A’s bullpen effectively holds the Halos down, and they scratch together a few more runs to make it 10-5 as the Angels fans leave en masse to our delight (parking issues,dog!) Grant “gives me a fucking heart attack or puts me to sleep” Balfour comes in, walks a couple of guys, throws a shit load of pitches (his innings always seem as long as the first 8) and finally ends the game by striking out Hank Conger. There was a strange feeling that Angels fans had conceded. Even the victory was sort of bitter-sweet as I couldn’t wait for the playoffs, ergo the passion to start. We pass the strip club down the street and listen to oldies the rest of the way as the gfriend asks me about who I think the Dodgers will play in the playoffs.
sidenotes: Angel dogs are infinitely better than the Dodger dog. I will fight you if you disagree.
Tommy Milone has 12 wins. I can’t remember a pitcher who had so many wins and received so much criticism because he had “lost it” so quickly. The baseball gods are a fucking trip, man.
Howie Kendrick with a jack and 4 RBI’s. Always thought that dude was solid.
Josh Reddick has 55 RBI’s in a year that was a DISASTER with injuries. He’s going to be a special player when he gets right.
Daric Barton hasn’t been Mr. “look at a bazillion pitches” lately and he’s a better hitter for it.
A.J. Griffin was supposed to start this game. I was disappointed when he didn’t.
Two words: NO YO. bummer.
When the Rally Monkey crap started on the scoreboard, 2 Angels fans behind me said, “yeah, we’ll start our rally….in spring training next year!” Hilarious.
Mike Trout K’d 3 times. I’m lovin’ it.