These are paradoxical times that would make George Orwell sit up in his grave and vomit from exhaustion. A man, George Floyd, was murdered by police officers and a city is burning. Donald Trump, meanwhile, only seems upset by the fact that he is being censored by a social media app that took away his platform to blather daily with diabolical malicious intent. I really don’t give a shit if baseball comes back in 2020 at this point in time by virtue of the lying, cheating and money bickering that doesn’t seem inclusive to politics or an average earth dweller’s daily social life.
Greedy BILLIONAIRES (and specifically Oakland A’s owner John Fisher) are refusing to take care of their investments in the minor leagues, most of whom were living hand to mouth. There is an almost schizophrenic pathology in this country that must be addressed before grown men with sticks try to hit a ball and pat each other on the ass. And do we (I’m assuming my readers are vastly working class) really care if the rich get richer as we chase our own tails? Are we not just a clump of self-satisfied, fog shrouded, entitled little shits who cling to technology and the almighty dollar as we regress to the primordial ooze of ethics as a species? You can only take so much before you throw up your hands and say, “enough!” I’ve heard that age deepens all feelings, and I can’t argue with that statement as I have never been more sickened by the actions of this country’s citizens and politicians (left and right) in all of my days.
It’s all about the small things in life and I could only cherish the moment, albeit for mere minutes, as I found a can of Lysol on the shelf at my local drug store. I am officially voting this single, arbitrary can as MVP of the Oakland A’s in 2020: may he forever live in the heart and minds of fans as one of the greatest to ever wear the green and gold.
I woke up late Sunday morning to gallop on down to the local coffee shop when I found a rolled-up cocaine-laden ten dollar bill on the ground. My lucky day, I thought. The neck bearded hipster behind the counter was talking to what I previously thought to be a homeless person about “simulated reality” before the conversation segued into Brad Pitt’s 1999 vehicle Fight Club. I love this violent and political story-(although I find the characters to be juvenile, simplistic and self-serving)-of disenfranchised middle-class masculinity but this wasn’t the time or moment for a conference and debate.
“I highly recommend the movie in addition to the novel. It’s worth the time and it helps put the book into perspective,” said the espresso expert, and moments before I was about to disconnect his head from his flannel wearing body he takes my order of a medium black coffee with a splash of half and half. It was about 1 o’ clock so I headed over to my “baseball buddy” Manny’s house to watch Super Bowl LIV. We decided to play a game of Madden 2019 to kill time and he proceeded to “shart” on himself moments before halftime. Gross. After showering he eventually beat me 27-25. (Did you expect this blog entry to reek of any sort of profundity? The joke’s on you.)
The game itself was a pretty well played, entertaining enterprise and this may be America’s first look at a future super star in Patrick Mahomes. There was laughter at the mostly contrived commercials, debate on the attractiveness and booty mass of J-Lo and Shakira, beer drankin’ and pizza eatin’. Need I say more? The Chiefs eventually pull it out in the 4th quarter in a exciting affair, 31-20. Manny fell asleep and I walked home in a semi-drunken state pondering the game and thinking about the upcoming baseball season with a sort of mild euphoria.
Spring Training starts February 12th.
Mike Norris awoke on New Year’s Day 1986, in bed with a 300-pound woman he did not immediately recognize. He staggered to the Oakland dive where he had spent New Year’s Eve. The bartender was the only person there. The wall behind the bar was mirrored. Norris saw his reflection. It horrified him. Usually a proud dresser, he was wearing the previous night’s clothes. They hung on his thinning frame as sad as sails on a windless day. “Major league ballplayer, my fucking ass,” he snarled at his reflection. Norris was another New Year’s casualty.
People fall into two camps when it comes to New Year’s Eve: they either love the celebration and dish out 100 dollars on a ticket to a party where they proceed to get smashed, or they do something totally low-key – because what’s all the fuss about?
Whether you’ll be celebrating in style this year or snuggling up on the sofa at home (and perhaps even falling asleep before midnight), you’ve no doubt had some shockers of a New Year’s Eve before. Haven’t we all? Here’s one of many horror stories:
New Years 2010. I was the sober driver for some friends until around 11 pm before I headed off to a midnight party in Silver Lake at some sort of McMansion that was supposedly alt-rocker Beck’s house. At the soiree, realizing I needed to catch up, I immediately began pounding Red Bull vodkas. My friend immediately told me to “drink this”, which I did. Pretty quickly. Only later did I discover “this” was a pint of 50/50 Jack Daniels and coke. (The legal kind, although the illegal kind was being passed around in the open by dicey “Hollywood types” and hanger-ons.) By the time 12AM rolled around I was spinning and tanked. As the clock struck midnight, I grabbed a girl next to me (who was a beautiful brunette and a local celebrity on some sort of news program) and we had our midnight kiss – which swiftly turned into the two of us fighting to reach the toilet as we both projectile vomited all over the bathroom. She wanted to make out afterwards and I politely declined. I always wonder if Beck woke up the next morning to find the collaborative technicolor yawn that he no doubt had his maid clean up.
Stay safe out there. Happy 2020.
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.”
People often wax nostalgic about baseball with its poetic and graceful nuances; and I understand the feeling as I often do the same– yet there is a darker, more ominous underbelly that isn’t quite as idyllic or sophisticated: alcohol.
Drinking is just as ingrained in the rich tapestry of the game as hot dogs, Cracker Jacks, bloated payrolls and greedy owners–just ask Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Harry Caray or Cleveland Indians fans on ten-cent beer night.
Before baseball became the voracious, obnoxious corporate entity that it has become today it was just a simple, no-frills place for the working-class to let off some steam and have a beer or three. Baseball represents a lot of different things to a lot of different people; and for some it isn’t always a wholesome night with the family that stands up, yawns and quietly leaves in the 7th inning. These are true fan testimonials:
–I was completely blasted, as well as pretty stoned during Game 20 of The Streak. I sobered up pretty damn quick though when the Royals started coming back!
–I drank a bottle of Jose Cuervo in the parking lot before a game. I was barfing into an empty Gatorade bottle all game and no one seemed to notice since everyone had their eyes on the field.
–My Dad looked out at the field in the 4th inning (we were both about 8 beers in at that point), and turned to me saying, “Holy shit, did you realize there’s a ballgame going on?!” We were still more sober than the girl puking on the subway on the way home.
I miss Opening Night in the late 70’s early 80’s when fans were crazy, there were fights and people going nuts for foul balls. I got knocked down 8 stairs at age 10 from the mob going after a foul ball…good times.
–We were swearing at the umpire and a row of 50-year-old duds told us to shut up. We all sat down, everything settled and we went back to watching the game. That’s when my buddy comes back from the bathroom and spills a beer down the back of one of these guys on accident. I thought it was going to be an all out brawl… They were livid and we couldn’t stop laughing.
Anytime I went with my dad and uncle back in the early 70’s especially the World Series in 74. I was 6. The bleachers were cheap and beer was sold in the stands.
–World Series…can’t remember if it was ’88, ’89 or ’90. I was in the old bleacher area walking back from the bathroom or something. I looked up on the grassy area way up top in the back, and ESPN had set up a place for their crew to sit, with cameras and everything. I saw Peter Gammons, Bob Ley and someone else. A few of us were looking up at them, waving, smiling, etc. Some REALLY drunk dude walks up to me and asks what we are looking at. I pointed up and said, “It’s ESPN, Peter Gammons and Bob Ley!” (I was about 11 years old so I was very excited). Drunk dude, yells up in a drunken slur, “Hey Peter!!!!…..” (who then looks down and smiles) “…Fuck You!!!!….” Drunk dude then hurls his cup of draft beer up right at them! Cops then come and pull dude away. It was pretty funny.
–For my 40th on a Friday night, I had a suite and my friends kept buying me double 7&7’s from the suite bartender and the Irish Bar. I was so drunk and not my usual, respectable self. My sales guy came by to visit and I was apologizing, profusely, for being inebriated. Half of my friends in the suite were Giants fans, the other half A’s fans and one lone Dodger fan. My favorite moment was when a friend walked into the suite stopped and said, “Whoa! There are Giants fans in here…what are they doing here?” I think I was hung over for the next two days but still made it to Saturday and Sunday games that weekend. That was the last time I drank that much at a game. Never again.
–My buddy started making fun of a drunk Giants fan throwing up in the parking lot before the game. We almost had to throw down with his friends when we asked if he “had too much of that championship champagne.”
–Once, I was in the bathroom near gate D and the guy in the stall next to me was plastered. He sang “We Are The Champions” by Queen until he threw up on the floor.
–One time I got kicked out of the bleachers for having a flask, but then came back through the season ticket holder line.
–The last time I went to the Coliseum the bleachers were teeming with rowdy drunkenness, sort of good-natured heckling, pot smoke and “e-smoke.” Strangers were handing me hot links, chicken and pickle sandwiches and falling all over me. Fans kept getting kicked out and booing the staff every time they hauled off some poor fool that was passed out or slugging whiskey. Some guy nodded off and barfed three seats away. I’m a Mariners fan so I was glad the fans would rather have a good time, smoke, get drunk, dance, barf and get thrown out rather than pick on me. And really, why waste your time on anything else–that’s some real shit right there. Beats the fucking Dodgers fans I can tell you this. Salt of the earth.
I have post-capitalist ennui, but it all seems worth it as we drive the long windy road into the mountains. I hadn’t seen snow for almost 20 years. This is one of the disadvantages/advantages of living in California, you don’t have to worry about the weather too much as you go about your daily routines. We finally reach our destination–a beautiful two-story cabin deep in the woods. I had been admiring the look and serenity of the snow during the long trip and could finally touch it. My admiration for the substance quickly turned less poetic and became more biological survivalist theory as I tossed the stuff like a celebrity throwing out the first pitch. My hand was frozen solid.
My girlfriend and I decided not to celebrate Christmas this year–well, at least not in the traditional sense. Life had gotten in the way and the next thing you know we were thrown into the bizarre world of family, gifts of things we didn’t need, overindulgence of food we would never eat otherwise, and drinking copious amounts of alcohol in order to bring the gelatinous madness together. We didn’t even get around to the trivial task of buying a tree. Seems a bit silly….don’t you think?
Joaquin Andujar, who famously supplied fellow teammates Lonnie Smith and Keith Hernandez with copious amounts of cocaine in the 80’s died recently on September 8th, 2015 at the age of 62. In memory of Andujar I’ve decided to pleasure you with some of the best quotes concerning the yayo that Eric Clapton famously crooned about in song.
“If I have a near-beer, I’m near beer. And if I’m near beer, I’m close to tequila. And if I’m close to tequila, I’m adjacent to cocaine.” ― Craig Ferguson
“Happiness lies within one’s self, and the way to dig it out is cocaine.” ― Aleister Crowley, Diary of a Drug Fiend
“It’s not the side-effects of the cocaine – I’m thinking that it must be love. — David Bowie
“This original version of Coca-Cola contained a small amount of coca extract and therefore a trace of cocaine. (It was eliminated early in the twentieth century, though other extracts derived from coca leaves remain part of the drink to this day.) Its creation was not the accidental concoction of an amateur experimenting in his garden, but the deliberate and painstaking culmination of months of work by an experienced maker of quack remedies.” ― Tom Standage, A History of the World in 6 Glasses
“Until you’ve got your mouth full of cocaine, you don’t know what kissing is. One kiss goes on from phase to phase like one of those novels by Balzac and Zola and Romain Rolland and D. H. Lawrence and those chaps. And you never get tire. You’re on fourth speed all the time, and the engine purrs like a kitten, a big white kitten with the stars in its whiskers.” ― Aleister Crowley, Diary of a Drug Fiend
Cocaine is God’s way of saying you’re making too much money. –Robin Williams
(Cocaine) is neither moral nor immoral — it’s a chemical compound. The compound itself is not a menace to society until a human being treats it as if consumption bestowed a temporary license to act like an asshole. –Frank Zappa
If we could sniff or swallow something that would, for five or six hours each day, abolish our solitude as individuals, atone us with our fellows in a glowing exaltation of affection and make life in all its aspects seem not only worth living, but divinely beautiful and significant, and if this heavenly, world-transfiguring drug were of such a kind that we could wake up next morning with a clear head and an undamaged constitution — then, it seems to me, all our problems (and not merely the one small problem of discovering a novel pleasure) would be wholly solved and earth would become paradise. –Aldous Huxley
“Look at everything. Don’t close your eyes to the world around you. Look and become curious and interested in what you see.” –John Cage
I am sitting on a friend’s second story balcony on a humid 95 degree evening listening to the A’s play the Indians on my tiny little portable radio. She lives in a sort of “urban” environment, so I enjoy watching the hobos, tweakers, weirdos, wackos, dog walkers, college students, yuppies, drunks and working class mothers that are usually shuffling by my metal, eagle perch..day after day. An impenetrable mass of prejudices, clichés and trite remarks.
First Inning: Rookie Chris Bassitt gives up 3 runs in the first inning on an error and a Carlos Santana blast to deep center. (Has any musician lost so much credibility so fast in the history of music?) Josh Reddick gives the fans in attendance and listening across the airwaves a small semblance of respect with his RBI double effectively erasing the goose egg and making our desperate fandom seem incipient of a team that could possibly throw a monkey wrench in another team’s plans. The people continue shuffling by, sometimes even looking up and making eye contact with me. An overwhelming feeling envelops me– all of our lives are tedious and pointless and I feel justified as I’m listening to a game that consists of silly boys swinging wood and touching balls.
Bottom 4th: An old man with a cast, wife beater and a mouth that he literally and seemingly can’t close like a gaping, jagged, and putrid cave calls out to a woman who lives in the building. She is in her early 40’s and dresses quite strange– all her clothes seem to be thrifted, yet she mishmashes them together in a way that would put a young fashionista to shame; always changing her clothes multiple times daily. She also walks with her right hand in the air with a sort of aristocratic delicacy, as if holding a tiny cup of tea. Brett Lawrie (who probably wears wife beaters as well.) is doubled off of second to end the inning. The radio continues to crackle over the hum of life and observation.
Top 6th: a group of drunk, reveling young people stroll by with a girl exclaiming,
“I’ve waited 21 years for this!”
The girls are wearing giant, clunky high-heels that seem to be all the rage these days. They can barely walk in them and it seems as if every synapse in their still maturing/intoxicated brains are working overtime during every excruciating step. Chris Bassitt gets out of a jam and is pitching very well.
Top 8th: A mulatto girl with a blond mohawk is talking to the 300 pound fat man who sits in his car for hours blasting house music (a genre of electronic dance music) and staring at his cell phone. The fat man is very meticulous about parallel parking as this simple task always takes over a minute each time. The A’s make a pitching change…R.J. Alvarez, another recent AAA cannon fodder call-up who gets a pop-up on a bunt attempt. 3 drunken girls stumble by with the one in the clunky shoes in the middle being held up by the other 2.
Bottom 9th: Carlos Carrasco twirls a complete game 2 hitter as he gets Josh Reddick to ground out in a moment of anti-climax. The A’s went down quickly and orderly in a game that lasts only 2 hours and 15 minutes which proves the dog days are already here with 2 months left in the season. A girl pees in a bush as her boyfriend looks on, while the man who rides the cruiser bike with classic rock pouring out of a ghetto blaster dangling precariously from his handlebars rides by. I wonder why he is always shirtless.
Final Score: Indians 3, Athletics 1
Reggie Jackson had always gotten along with Bill North, and publicly praised the young center fielder several times for his fielding prowess. Sometime in mid-April, however, Bill failed to run hard to first on a routine ground-out. When he returned to the bench, Reggie harshly berated him in front of his teammates for not hustling. The seeds of The Fight were sown.
“He had crossed me, in some way, a couple of times,” Bill recalls without going into detail. “I tried to set him up for a month.” He gave Reggie the silent treatment despite Jackson’s torrid start, and refused to talk to him on or off the field. He would not congratulate Reggie after home runs. During this period, North lifted his average above .200, swiped seventeen bases in the month of May alone, and played exceptional defense. By the day of The Fight, he was batting .228 and leading the league in stolen bases. Jackson remained hot, batting .390 with a league-leading 15 home runs, and the A’s were first in the A.L. West.
Finally, prior to a night game on June 5, in the locker room at Tiger Stadium, Bill made a remark that infuriated Reggie and ignited the brawl. The superstar, who was not yet dressed for the game, charged North and the two wrestled on the floor, in full view of teammates and sportswriters. Catcher Ray Fosse, pitcher Vida Blue and others were able to separate the two, only to have the combatants tangle again a few minutes later. “It wasn’t a regular clubhouse fight,” said an A’s teammate anonymously. “There was no backing off. They went at it hot and heavy — twice.” When the dust settled, the consensus was that North had won the fight. Jackson ended up with a bruised shoulder and battered ego. Fosse suffered a separated cervical disk in the melee and was out of action until late in the season. Both North and Jackson played against the Tigers that night. Bill went 2 for 3 with a double, run scored and RBI while Reggie went 0 for 4. For the rest of June, the powerful right fielder batted .197 with just three doubles, no home runs and four RBI.
Bill looks back upon the incident with much more humility than braggadocio. “I had extracted my ounce of retribution,” Bill admits, but believes the path chosen to settle their score was from youthful ignorance. The Fight and its aftermath enabled Bill and Reggie to move forward as teammates with renewed respect for each other. Today, North says, they maintain a genuine friendship. Reggie Jackson wrote this about Bill in his autobiography: “North was a feisty little guy with a hair-trigger temper, and one of the reasons he was such a winner on the field was because he had a lot of piss and vinegar in him.”
originally written by Tim Herlich.