“Could you pick up Thai noodles at the store?” she asked while absentmindedly fixing her hair and periodically snapping the panties out of her ass.
She lives on the 3rd floor in an old building with elegantly crumbling plaster and no elevator. I would have to walk six flights and ten blocks. Then there would also be the obligatory chit-chat with the stock boy about semi-obscure bands that had mostly deceased members. Of course, I would have to stare at the cereal, in a daze, for about 5 minutes before making the “mature” decision and buying one with less sugar.
“Is it dire now? Spring Training started today and I just wanted to catch a few innings.”
(I was interested in seeing how the new, extra large, clown-car bases affected the game)
“It’s just that I’m really craving Thai curry.”
She was listening to French Caribbean music which was making me feel euphoric with its bouncy, tropical vibe. En Fuego. The record was horribly scratched so I assumed she picked it up secondhand.
“I understand completely, it’s just that I’m taking a sabbatical from your taste buds for about an hour…or a few innings.”
I loved her because she was this and that and a million other euphemisms, but the current situation, as Elvis would say, “needs a little less conversation.”
Oh yeah, A’s beat the Snakes 12-7.
Mark over at Retro Simba, ever the generous spirit, sent me some more cardboard gems in the mail. What a guy! There were some vintage cards mixed in with some modern-day players–some of which with the 1973 borders. I’m excited to send out the Dick Green (doesn’t that sound like the effects of an STD?) to be autographed. There were some Rickeys, Carney Lansfords, Dave Stewarts, Terry Steinbachs, and even a Reggie Jackson KMart card. (Man, I used to love those slushies from KMart.) The 1973 team card that was included is hanging on my wall at this very moment. I love that card.
These cards conjure up so much nostalgia and give me the butterfly feels in my stomach…so thank you, Mark. I will always cherish these little pieces of my past.
We passed through the iron gates for what seemed like the thousandth time. I hadn’t seen Cheech for over 2 years, and we agreed to meet at our lucky cemetery (we’re obviously individuals with an aversion to group activities) on a soggy, overcast day for some beers and conversation. I walked the 15 blocks there for some fresh air and to reminisce, and lo-and-behold my hometown of Sacramento was still trashy and rough around the edges. A homeless-enclave-hellscape with a Cheesecake Factory and a state capitol.
“Man, we haven’t been here since you were dating Alice,” Cheech said as he took a long, sudsy swig from his expensive craft beer while leaning against the ornate headstone of some guy who had died of tuberculosis in the late 1800s. Oh, the brevity of existence.
It was true, and I remembered Alice very well even though she was galaxies away from my everyday thought process. She was Nordic pretty like the blonde in Abba: same nose, toothy smile, and almond-shaped bedroom eyes. On one particularly boring Sunday, she asked me if she could read my horoscope. Out of all the things to structure personal identity around, the random date you were born on seems the most boring, I said flippantly. We had good times together, but It’s funny how you only seem to remember moments that have the earmarks of being insignificant in the long run.
We stumbled out of the land of the dead before I mentioned that there was a baseball card shop a few blocks away where I impulsively spent 25 dollars on a Jose Canseco rookie complete with a pre-pubescent mustache encased in hard plastic. It’s really, really minty, I said over and over. And it was. It looked as if it had never been touched by greasy human meathooks–a pristine piece of Americana.
More cardboard treasures were purchased, and we proceeded to Cheech’s house where we decided on a lark to eat some “magic mushrooms.” Maybe it was the booze talking, or maybe it was because we were becoming less young and more old, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. I’ve been told that psilocybin cures emotional conditions and anxiety–and I refuse to argue with that analysis as we sat there for hours talking about hair metal videos (Stryper sucks and that is nonsubjective) and just laughing hysterically at nothing in particular.
I’ve got some time to kill on this chilly Northern California morning, so why not dig into the ol’ cigar box and tell some ‘graph stories? As you may know, my brain is a repository for worthless baseball stats, history, and mythos. Also, please keep in mind that these cards have a very strong and luscious scent of cigar stank that has slowly permeated the cardboard and will now follow them everywhereinperpetuity.
Most people envision Astrogate and the 2017 trash can-banging WS “Champions” when they think of AJ Hinch. I, on the other hand, will always remember him as being the starting catcher for the 2000 Sacramento RiverCats. This was an amazing time in the Capitol City as we hadn’t had a professional team since the Rangers-affiliated Solons (AAA) went the way of the dodo in 1976. The unveiling was a dream come true in every facet because our cultureless little burg had baseball again and they were an Oakland affiliate! Heaven. I showed up on a soggy and gray opening day (the stadium hadn’t even finished being built) and watched the starting pitcher warm up in the bullpen with his battery-mate Hinch as I stood there, drenched and confused about my emotions. I should be having the time of my life, I thought, but I’m just cold,and even worse…wet. I’ve been to many, many games since then and am still an avid fan of the team even though they switched affiliations to the hated cross-bay Giants. There are just way too many debaucherous 2 dollar beer nights, and sneaking into VIP boxes to speak of. Precious moments.
Canseco was close to divinity in my neighborhood as a kid, and his cards were hoarded like Scrooge McDuck hoarded gold. (The A’s were a powerhouse then, and if you were alive the last time they won a WS–it’s time for a prostate exam) My grandfather took me to a card show st the time, and we met the superstar and had him sign a ball for 20 bucks or whatever the price was. Now I just think of him as a guy who blew his finger off while cleaning a gun, and maybe even the hombre who saved baseball from eating itself. (Brady Anderson anyone?) A tarnished man, but relatable and simply human–albeit, a human whose reach far exceeded his tenuous and fingerless grasp.
In his book, Canseco exposed the hypocrisy of MLB–and maybe even the hypocrisy of capitalist and empirical grifting entities as admired cultural signifiers in a sort of off-hand, metaphorical way–consequently spitting in the face of naive fans who romanticize “fair play” instead of seeing the Selig Era as a money-making, numbers institution at ALL COSTS. Canseco simply wanted to say, everything you know is a lie. George Carlin summed up my feelings astutely on the matter when he said, “Bullshit is the glue that binds us together as a country.” The only problem is that some people actually like the bullshit and will oppress and belittle anyone who even remotely tries to debase their fantasy.
Alyssa Milanoof Who’s The Boss fame has banged many, many baseball players…and at the height of his career, Barry Zito was one of them. I sent this card to him when his baseball life was all but over and he was chucking horsehide for the A’s AAA affiliate in Nashville. At this stage in his journey, he was playing for the love of the sport and was cynical and dismissive about the money-making machine trappings of fame, sports cars, and chopping lines in swanky Hollywood discotheque bathrooms with supermodels.
Zito had found religion and started creating his own music, essentially taking it back to humble beginnings. That’s something I can really stand by. I am not a religious man by nature, but the worship of money and status can’t be all good and it was refreshing to hear that from someone who had experienced the fast lifestyle and then proceeded to rise above it. His last Coliseum outing was against Tim Hudson and the Giants and everyone in the joint knew that this was their hardball swan song. The mound masters still had remnants of youthful vigor, but now with an essential veteran powder keg of wisdom and tricks. Alas, two-thirds of “The Big 3” didn’t have their “stuff” and got shelled that day, but it was a wonderful time and both left the field to a standing ovation. Pure nostalgia dopamine.
“To me, the golden era of baseball is whenever you were 12 years old.” –John Thorn
Lazy Sunday. There were men outside my house audibly cutting a tree into pot belly stove-sized pieces and annoying me in the process. The massive tree had fallen in the night, destroying 3 cars, and almost killing a neighbor who was standing nearby, which must have been quite tempting to the tree. She ended up going to the hospital with only minor head wounds and escaping relatively unscathed. What better way was there to toast the cruel, cold universe and its magnificent indifference for a fleshy speck in the cosmos than by cracking open some cheap, tasteless beer, scarfing down some pretzels, and watching a ball game?
Since the latest incarnation of the Oakland Athletics has stumbled through the throes of helplessness and confusion, and could possibly be the worst in team history. (challenging the 1979 team–who went 54-108–a distressing cross to bear) I decided to take a pass on that dumpster fire and sashay down memory lane, instead choosing to embrace a time when a young boy’s love for the game was genuinely all-encompassing and untarnished.The talisman from the past with horrible picture quality and incipiently watched in a room with cheap wood-grain paneling? A’s vs Tigers, May 3rd, 1987.
This was an afternoon game where every fly ball was an adventure with fielders losing their regular big-league swagger and desperately shielding their eyes while staring into the blistering light-blue void…completely helpless. The A’s end up scoring twice–once on a manufactured run that started with a Ron Cey single (“Stan Javier pinch runs for Cey, and The Penguin waddles off the field.”) and the second on a Canseco bomb to left-center that scattered a sea of shirtless, oiled, and clearly intoxicated sunbathers who fell over themselves while inadvertently knocking over their buzzing radios and wax cups of beer.
Well, yours truly has finally been published…actual ink on paper. Albeit, it’s just one short story in an anthology of 100’s, but I’m still pretty excited to have a tangible piece of evidence documenting my madness, and even more elated that I didn’t have to deal with agents or manuscripts–no song and dance–in order for this to be actualized.
Backyards to Ballparks has a simple concept behind it, asking authors, “What is your favorite memory connected to baseball?” The stories are all different, but the heart and soul of the book are the same. What these “distilled snippets” all have in common is that tribute as to why baseball remains the American pastime–how it connects friends, families, and communities. These memories, often more human interest than play-of-game in nature, all have baseball as a setting, but speak to how The Great Game provides joy and anguish, nourishes family traditions, creates friendships, and can profoundly affect the ambrosia of the mind.
The following is an excerpt from Ron Darling’s book 108 stitches:
Big pimpin’ (that’s Toni in the middle.)
My time in Oakland introduced me to some of the game’s greatest characters, Cassanovas, too. High on both lists was Jose Canseco, who’d already been a perennial All Star and was MVP by the time I joined the club. This was back before the time of steroids tarnished Jose’s reputation– and with it his fellow “Bash Brother” Mark McGwire, who followed Jose’s 1986 Rookie of the Year campaign with one of his own in 1987. The two sluggers were like princes of the Bay Area who could do no wrong in the eyes of the A’s fans, who loved to watch them bash the shit out of the ball, then bash the shit out of each other in celebration each time one of them bashed another of their mammoth home runs.
What a lot of folks forget about Jose Canseco is that he had a twin brother named Ozzie, who briefly played for the A’s as well. I’ll never forget it though–not just because Ozzie was bouncing around the Oakland organization during my time with the club, but because of the particular ways he and his brother bounced…or, guess I should say, because of the particular ways they rolled.
My first wife, Toni, and I stepped into the elevator at the team hotel one evening, just as Jose and Ozzie were stepping off. We greeted each other on the fly, they were in some kind of hurry–off to paint the town Kelly green and gold, I guess.
As the elevator doors closed behind us, Toni looked at me and asked if those two guys were twins.
I was standing in the queue at the local health food store with my basket full of over-priced, organic, local, vegan, cage-free crap when suddenly I was struck by a haze of fog known as boredom reminiscing. This phenomenon, where synapses are sparked by everyday mundane activities, usually inwardly projects me back to the 80’s and a much more simple time before parents became enlightened helicopters and kids started bringing guns to school to solve their commonplace problems.
While in this haze I’m begging my mother to buy me Cap’n Crunch, if only because of the 2 free baseball cards inside. She obviously isn’t very modern, (alas, this is the 80’s, stick with me here) so the term organic isn’t part of her everyday verbiage, and her idea of a “healthy snack” would be a syrupy granola bar with chocolate chips or a sludgy, faux-cherry fruit cup. The only reason she’s debating this is because she can buy the very same, generic version at a much, much cheaper price by the hideously uninspired name of Crispy Crunch. Well, this was a complication of epic proportions for a 12 year old. There was no chance of getting a fucking Jose Canseco or Mark McGwire card in a box of Crispy Crunch. What to do?
I’m startled out of this mini psychedelic trip by the impatient, too-cool-for-school checker with dreadlocks and a Nirvana t-shirt. She had been calling out to me, and like an idiot I was standing there, in a daze, thinking about the time I wanted to eat a box of sugar- laden crap in order to obtain pieces of cardboard with the likeness of guys who injected steroids in their ass so they could look like Greek Gods, break a bunch of records and hit the ball out of the goddamn stratosphere.
The following was taken from Jessica Canseco’s book, “Juicy: Confessions of a former baseball wife.”…we kissed for awhile and I relaxed a little, but then I looked down and saw his weiner. It didn’t look like any weiner I had seen before. It was big and uncircumcised, and I thought it was one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen. But as soon as it got hard all the skin pulled back and it looked pretty magnificent. I don’t remember much about the sex. We made love in the standard position. I’m from a farm in Middle America. We didn’t get a lot of Latinos with uncircumcised wieners there. I also thought about his testicles, but it seems Jose’s were unusually small. (editors note: this is called testicular atrophy and can be linked to steroid use)
This is a short piece of fiction inspired by a very poignant moment of reality.
God, I love Leila.
Sounds like she is feeding the dogs right now. Jesus, those tits are amazing.
They are talking about ebola on the radio. I’ve been feeling feverish lately. I need to get that checked out. Ebola….that sounds funny.
Leila wanted to go get a”falafel” earlier. I had no idea what she was talking about. “Middle Eastern food,” she says. I wanted a Cuban sandwich.
The dogs are barking. Neighbor is fussing around in her backyard. I wonder if she knows I’m famous?
Puma puntu…or is it Punku? I just know that it fascinates me. Wow. How’d they do that?
“You’re a lot to handle…sometimes I just give up. But I’m all you have. You don’t have anybody else in your life.” Leila told me this earlier. She’s probably right. I need to call my manager about that autograph session later this week.
I do not think Mr 50/50 is born or conceived yet. God, I love Leila….her ass is amazing. Yummy.
I would love to be the hitting coach of the Oakland A’s. I love Oakland; the fans made me feel wanted again at the reunion.
Leila is cooking something. God, I love her. Wow. I made my Major League debut a year before she was born.
I think I need to clean my guns. I was the first man to achieve 40/40…perhaps I can be the first man to clean 4 guns at one time…..