My travel buddy and I decided to take a break from the incessant driving to pause for a moment and take a look at the ominously beautiful and deadly Joshua Tree National Park. The sign at the entrance gave you the true indication of what the desert landscape had in store when it read, “no gas for 42 miles.” The lack of water and an eerie feeling of peacefulness seemed to envelope me, but in the back of my mind there was also the thought that human life in all its totality is not needed and scarcely wanted in this section of the world. It’s almost as if humans take some sort of sadistic pleasure in their environment slowly trying to sap the life out of them. We soaked in the atmosphere while hiking a small trail and enjoyed the lovely desert flora for awhile before heading to Phoenix.
Phoenix was 105 degrees in the shade, and the downtown streets were a veritable ghost town as we searched for Chase Field, home of the Arizona D’Bags. There was obviously no baseball due to the Rampant ‘Rona, but we decided to check out the stadium at any rate so I could cross it off my bucket list since I had never been to Arizona and scarcely had any desire to go to Chase Field before this trip. The park had a very nice early 20th century brick facade but was a little boring besides that and had a noticeable lack of any sort of player statue. (Luis Gonzalez?) I took the opportunity to take a photo with the over-payed, fake tough guy and infamous red-ass, Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner, unarguably had some great and damn near epic World Series moments, but will always be known by this writer as a guy who screamed at another player, Max Muncy, who apparently didn’t run the bases fast enough after crushing a ball into McCovey Cove. Muncy’s response? “Go get it out of the ocean.” Muncy was apparently so intimidated by Madison “Fake Tough Guy With a Girl’s Name” Bumgarner that he had t-shirts printed of the above response and wore it to the ballpark the very next day.
In 2002 I was living in Los Angeles, being young, doing dumb things, and hanging out with pompous art school kids in my spare time. I was, for the most part, puking in their studios and stealing their beer when I wasn’t attending a gallery opening. I once wandered into a walk-in closet stacked with cardboard boxes and immediately walked out thinking I had made a mistake.
“This is someone’s artwork.” a friend told me.
I’m not sure to this day if he was pulling my chain. Such is life in Los Angeles.
October came rolling around and the Angels and Giants were playing for the WS title…2 teams I just hated with a passion. Whom to root for?
It was gay rights icon Harvey Milk who described Orange County best, in response to California State Senator John Briggs describing San Francisco as “the moral garbage dump of homosexuality in this country.”
“Nobody likes garbage ’cause it smells,” Milk told reporters. “Yet eight million tourists visited San Francisco last year. I wonder how many visited Fullerton.”
–The Angels had the Rally Monkey, thundersticks, (basically inflated plastic) douche-bag and mouth-breather John Lackey, the most boring fans in the league, and they played in a white-power wasteland famous for birthing Richard Nixon: Orange County.
–The Giants had territorial rights over the A’s, were kind of dull, and had 2 cantankerous schmucks in their own right (who hated each other) in Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent.
In the end we all know what happens. The Giants blow a 5-0 lead in game 6, Dusty Baker makes some half-baked managerial decisions, Scott Spezio becomes a legend in Anaheim, and the Angels win their first World Series title essentially denying Barry Bonds his one and only shot and leaving him crying in the locker room.
The only saving grace? At least it wasn’t the Yankees.
I don’t have the affection towards Jeff “Shark” Samardjiza that I do for other former Athletics–he simply wasn’t in a Oakland uniform long enough for me to care, netting only 5 wins for the Green and Gold. Besides, once you slip on the pajamas with San Francisco stitched on the chest all bets are off. Affection can burn away as quickly as a love affair in a cheap Tijuana hotel room after coitus, an early morning coke hangover and a head full of regrets. I slop mustard on my hotdog and wash it down seconds later with carbonated, gut-wrenching goodness.
This is game 2 of the NLDS.
Samardjiza, long and lanky with long flowing hair akin to a 1980’s Sunset Strip hair metal band, the archetype of a “tall drink of water,” sauntered with that loose and easy gait toward
the bump with mythic and ghostly dimensions whispering through the ballpark–1908— and this former Notre Dame football star was standing in the way of mental and historical catharsis for Cubs faithful. Their celestial recognizance hanging in the balance of a 5 ounce sphere with a Catholic boy twirling it; their fathers and grandfathers never getting to see what they are hoping to see in the near future: a homo-erotic dogpile on the mound (say that once again without innuendo) and a lifting of the gold trophy.
Their collective vision crystallized after 6 months and 2, 106 games. Babe Ruth and his “called shot” be damned.
Samardjiza’s line: 2 innings, 4 runs, 6 hits, 1K, 1 BB…a clunker, a stinker, a garbage pile. Ex Red Sox pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee used to say that sex robbed you of your stamina: “If you let a woman drain away your life’s essence you’ll never be able to go nine.” Does this mean Samardjiza had spent too much time in a Tijuana whorehouse? or was it simply that he couldn’t getting his breaking stuff over?
Top 4th: Baseball giveth and baseball taketh away. Starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks has to leave the game with forearm stiffness after an Angel Pagan (this is the best example of a dichotomy in the baseball universe. Both names butting heads against each other with the former in a perpetual battle for the souls of the denizens of earth and the latter practicing polytheism and prancing around the forest in their birthday suits.) line drive nails him. Travis Wood, the reliever, proceeds to hit a home run in the bottom half of the inning. Baseball giveth again. The rest of the game is filled with a menagerie of relievers shutting down the Giants dreadful lineup, shots of Bill Murray chuckling and partying with fellow fans, and Bob Costas struggling for a heart-felt metaphor. He even mentioned beloved (well, excepting Pete Rose) commissioner Bart Giamatti’s “elegant” poetry at one point.
“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 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.
Baseball doesn’t always follow a Hollywood script and neither do baseball seasons. This past season, for me, conjures up the old baseball adage: we came, we saw, we went home. It was a quandary from the beginning that lent itself to flaccid penis. We as Oakland fans simply knew we weren’t going to be contenders a month deep, and it can be tough watching games day after day, month after month with no hope for the immediate future and a bullpen that resembles something my dog leaves on the ground after a brisk walk. The A’s pitching has been at its worst since the mid 1990s and it makes me cringe at how they would look without Sonny Gray and half a year of Scott Kazmir. This team reminds me of the crummy baseball team on the Twilight Zone episode “The Mighty Casey.” Perhaps the Oakland ball-club should sign a robot as well or maybe Kelly Leak from the Bad News Bears. Hell, the alcoholic manager of the Bears (played by the late, great Walter Matthau) could probably hit as well as Sam Fuld. The rest of the team (except for a few players) left me cold– like a disease but with a prescription that includes strychnine along with the penicillin.
This past Saturday gave Bay Area baseball fans something to talk about (besides provincial animosities) as the A’s and Giants faced off with 2 of Oakland’s “Big 3” facing off in Barry Zito’s first ML appearance since 2013 and perhaps the final appearance of his career. (obviously my local A’s radio affiliate couldn’t care less as they decided to carry a Division 2 football game instead.) The game echoed the year to date: much to do about nothing as Zito and Tim Hudson were knocked around and each left before the 3rd inning. The fans gave each a heartwarming standing ovation as they skulked off the field in perhaps the most ultimate display of nostalgia and a desperate attempt to cheer about ANYTHING in a season of despair, disappointment and the worst record in the A.L. Is there any way to smirk on paper? Fans were actually excited about a dumpster fire… but at least this one had an explosion at the end compared to the many others we’ve experienced that were just slow burning tire fires. I just refused to bring out the marshmallows.
The “Los Angeles” Angels clinched the Western division last night, finally living up to their “potential” and bloated pay-roll. Their mellow, almost boring to the point of tears fans were given kudos for sticking around after the game and watching the Athletics’ Sean Doolittle achieve a karma-like implosion on the big screen as the Rangers scored 6 in the 9th to take the game 6-1. I think it is pertinent to understand that Doolittle had just come off of the disabled list a few days earlier but seeing that the A’s bullpen had decided to smear feces on its collective faces the past month or so, his comeback was seen as just slightly below the second coming of Jesus Christ himself. Mike Scioscia, who has the character of a stoned sloth summed it up this way, “Guys are aware that this is one little milestone that we need, and I think they’re proud of that, but we have a long way to go. I think these guys know the bigger prize that we need to keep our eyes on.” Well said, but let’s not forget that their pitching staff would be/and will be considerably worse than any team in the A.L. playoffs. Now the baseball world will be able to see the owner of the worst contract in Angels history, Josh Hamilton, do what he does best–swing at virtually everything, and look bad while doing it. His MVP season of 2010 feeling like decades ago as he is now just an average player at best when they can get him on the field. A’s fans also have no love for outfielder Kole Calhoun who complained about the Oakland fans in RF being “too loud” in Anaheim and actually had a few ejected. Perhaps I am looking at this with a jaundiced eye, but besides Mike Trout, Howie Kendrick and maybe Jeff Weaver this team just isn’t very likable. They are as homogenized as the city they play in. Here’s to hoping they choke on a giant chicken bone in the playoffs. Godspeed.
This post is just a reminder of all the “fun” that some readers of this blog are missing on the Facebook page. These are just a few of the nasty comments I receive daily from mostly *cough* Giants fans. (After bringing up the fact that Giants owners are treating territorial rights over San Jose like they were bestowed to them at birth. The truth is, former A’s owner Walter Haas gave the Giants ownership rights of Santa Clara County when it appeared that the team might move to Florida. He felt it was in the best interests of baseball (not his wallet) to have two teams in the Bay Area.) All the misspellings were left as-is so you could enjoy the comments in their most pristine form of expression.
***Wow really relevant going back 25 years to make a point. It must suck always being #2 behind the giants if you have to go that far back. Try to win a world championship sometime this decade then run your bitch ass mouth. By the way the team that last one a title for you was all roided up. They were called the bash brothers cause they bashed each other in the ass with needles. Kiss our more recent rings you little bitch
your the reason why the a’s and their so called fans are a joke in the bay. Get a life you queer. So what if I’m on a a’s page I like to laugh at all the stupid shit you don’t know. Plus I’m standing up for my homie who made you look stupid and you went and became a little bitch and banned him. This has nothing to do with my name or profession so that shit ain’t fading me. This is about you Brian a bitch ass a’s fan that don’t know shit and runs and hides when he can’t take a beating from real fans that have rings from the 2000’s. Keep hating you punk ass bitch. No skin off my balls that by the way were in your moms mouth last night
***You are an embarrassment to As fans. Your crude comments just show how unintelligent you are. They have no substance rooted in actual knowledge of baseball. This is Facebook and your picture and comments are circulated on more than just As fans news feeds. I did not seek this page out. Dont flatter yourself. Btw Coco cut his afro….bye Felicia
***Does anyone remember the Giants fans of Candlestick Park? You almost had to sign a waiver if you bought bleacher tickets because there undoubtedly would be a fight at least twice a game. The Park sucked and the fans were a bunch of hippies and deadbeats. Look at the Giants and their fan base now and you wouldn’t even know it was the same team. But that’s not what bothers me. What I find offensive is that If you asked the current crop of fans, they’d act as if those fans never existed; that the Giants of today and PacBell Park, with is aristocratic food menu and fascist ushers, have always been the image of the Giants organization. This is typical SF limousine liberalism that disavows its past if that past is ugly.
*** They are having an amazing season for a team of relative nobody’s. still plenty of baseball left for them to sputter out and choke. One last quick thing…. How many A’s players are all stars this year and last year? What’s that, close to none? Ooooops. Great fans over there in the war zone called Oakland.
***oh please…are you finished…since when does anybodys fan base get up on theyre collective feet and start chanting after losing…don’t you forget coco the giants are still the world champions stick that in your big mouthed chant and smoke it..since when did the a’s turn into a bunch of fucking babies..no wonder you choke at the end of the year..good luck losing
***Although Donald Sterling and Michael Sam make for good human interest stories, it’s important to remember that basketball and football are games designed for children, and all sports are irrelevant.
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.
I recently made a trip to Anaheim Stadium to catch the A’s play the Angels in a “must win” game for both teams; a place I hadn’t been to since I was a young boy living in Buena Park with my grandparents….a span of 20 plus years. My grandfather and I were A’s fans, yet we enjoyed quite a few games at the “Big A” in the days of Wally Joyner, Lance Parrish and Mark Langston. The old cowboy and Hollywood legend Gene Autry still owned the team, and 80 something year old Jimmie Reese, who was the conditioning coach, was still roaming the field. The old man was called up to the Yankees in 1930 and was Babe Ruth’s roommate on the road, or as Reese explained, “I roomed with the Babe’s suitcase.” Reese coached the ball- club for 22 years until he died in 1994.
Times had changed. All three of the old men in the paragraphs above were long dead, and I was back in the ol’ ballpark not ready to re-live memories, but to watch the Elephants kick some ass and take no prisoners. (there’s a playoff spot at stake for fuck’s sake) The stadium was vastly “improved” since I had been there; from the large idiotic Disney-esque rock formation in center field to the gigantic Jack in the Box sign beyond that. My girlfriend, (a Dodgers fan may I add) thought that the crass commercialism on the Jumbotron between innings was off-putting. “Even the hotdogs are better at Dodger Stadium,” she said. I agreed that this display of capitalism and homogenized commerce in the county known for its conservative Republican values was indeed off-putting. “Yes, but we hit more in this league,” I answered.
Yoenis Cespedes, the young Cuban who has one of the quickest bats I’ve ever seen hit a miraculous, long soaring jack to left center. The brilliance was confounded by super-rookie Mike Trout, and his attempt to rob him. Angels fans rose en masse, ready to see their new hero pull odd another amazing feat. He came up short. The wind went out of the stadium. The score was 1-0 and the desperation rose quickly. “How could a bunch of NOBODIES be doing this to us with our 126 million dollar payroll?” Angels fans seemed to be saying. By the time Brandon “The Boss” Moss hit a two run jack to left center in the 5th, we knew it was over. The fans were pleading for the man who had caught it to throw it back, but to no avail. Coco Crisp even added an inside the park job as creeky kneed, 35 year old, over- payed Torii Hunter couldn’t fish a ball out of the corner and it skipped passed him while Mr. Crisp jack-rabbited around the base paths to make it 6-2. Triple and E-9. Grant “The cardiac kid ” Balfour did his best to blow the game even yelling a few obscenities at the umpire on his way out with a 6-5 lead and a man on first and 3rd with no outs. I was yelling a few at Balfour myself and quickly felt vindicated as I had told a buddy of mine before the inning had started that Balfour was like a hooker at a truckstop… always getting rocked. The crowd stood the rest of the game as Jerry “Clutch” Blevins (as he will now be called) nailed down the game by striking out Kendrys Morales and getting Howie Kendrick to ground out 5-4-3 for the victory. There was no joy in Mudville that night….. nobodies indeed.