“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.
Most of the Athletics sights in internet-land played the typical baseball writing game of follow the leader and were frothing at the mouth at the signing of Barry Zito. We here at the ‘Fro, however, felt a keen sense of bafflement and confusion. Zito, A) didn’t play last year and B) had ERA’s of 4.03, 4.15, 5.87, 4.15 and 5.74 his last 5 seasons. To put it bluntly–he sucked.
And as much as we admire Charlie O. Finley and Bill Veeck for their “circus like” candor, I just didn’t see Billy Beane, the paradigm of rational thought, as nostalgic, a clown-enabler or the type to give into Zito’s sense of entitlement to waste a Spring Training spot that a young player could desperately need to further his career. Zito, although once an Athletic, had erased any positive emotion from my mind when he signed with the Giants–all but stoking provincial animosities and spitting in Oakland’s face. Due to popular belief, emotions still exist in baseball, although the numbers-crunchers would tell you otherwise. They try to rationalize the signing with “low risk-medium return” hyperbole to the point of vomit inducing fervor, all but erasing the “gut feeling” that made Earl Weaver so successful. Perhaps the Athletics would have been better off using the 1 million they gave Zito to hire some people who actually NEEDED the money to help promote and to get “fringe fans” to buy tickets. It is common knowledge that their promotional representation in the Bay Area is a mockery to the fan base that is consistently criticized in the media for lack of support….
Jason Giambi retired, finally ending his reign as a PED user, MVP, lovable lug, Yankee, douchbag, party boy, laughing stock of New York and finally, grizzled, useless DH. (The above sentence bringing to light Tina Turner’s “We don’t need another hero” in my synapse hell.) Oddly enough, Giambi was quoted as saying, “I’ve done everything I can in my career.” Touche, Jason. In the end Giambi was seen as sort of a rascal despite his Yankee short-comings…and I’ve always had a soft spot for rascals…what would life be without them? Now Giambi can finally experience what other baseball retirees had to go through– the life of an Average (albeit wealthy) Joe, where no one knows who you are and no one cares until you show up at a fan-fest or baseball card show in a lonely, trash strewn strip mall. Good luck, Jason.
1.) Jim Johnson –This one doesn’t surprise me as it’s still fresh in everyone’s mind. I disagreed with the signing from the very beginning because A) I don’t believe in giving closers big money B) despite having 50 saves in Baltimore the year before, (hands down the most overrated statistic in sports) he still managed to blow 9 games…a horrible percentage. C) He just looked like a creep.
I was spot-on as the fans quickly grew tired of pitches that had zero movement and blown saves in bunches. Eventually he was run out-of-town until signing with Detroit who grew tired of him as well and sent him to AAA Toledo to waste away in the city known for unemployment and the smell of shit in the air…a fitting ending to the season for Johnson and perhaps an omen.
2.) Daric Barton — This guy never had a nickname, yet as far as I was concerned it should have been “The Cockroach.” (He was deemed “Churro Vendor” by this blog because readers thought that it would be a better suited job.) Barton was acquired in the trade with St. Louis for Mark Mulder (Dan Haren was also acquired in the trade supplying 43 wins and an All Star appearance, so the trade worked out pretty well overall.) and was slated to be the Athletics first baseman for years to come. The only problem was that he couldn’t hit a lick, but for some reason stuck around for EIGHT seasons, being shuttled back and forth to Sacramento (AAA) so much that he sort of became their unofficial mascot. The cherry on top of the shit-heap was when he was put on waivers twice in one week and not one team claimed him.
3.) Brian Fuentes/Bob Geren — Yet another closer that didn’t live up to his deemed position. His goofy face, big ears and screwy delivery added to the fire when the blown saves started to add up. Things got so bad that my mother, a neophyte baseball fan, would storm out of the room whenever he came into the game. A reader of this blog summed it up perfectly when she sent this response: I hate Brian Fuentes with a passion. He is a horrible closer. He blew 4 saves in eight days when he was with the Rockies. I cried a little when I had found out we picked him up in 2011. My dad kept trying to say he was good, and he was briefly, but I just told him to wait. It quickly turned into “OH (f-bomb)! Fuentes is coming in. There goes the game.” The only saving grace was when he criticized then manager Bob Geren’s (probably the least liked manager in Oakland history and an ex-Yankee, so who really gives a darn!) “unorthodox managing”, handling of pitchers and “zero communication.” Then ex-closer Huston Street piped in saying of Geren that “he is the least favorite person I have ever encountered in sports.” Ol’ Bob was let go after the 2011 season leading to the signing of another Bob (Melvin) and Fuentes’ career was over soon there-after.
Arthur Rhodes (yet another stinky closer.)
Luis Polonia (not sure about this one as he was busted for raping a woman as a Yankee. Perhaps the reader hated dripping jheri curl mullets.)
Nick Swisher (was sort of a lovable hick/douchbag until he got Yankee-itis and then began thinking he was a much better player than he really was.)
Jon Lester (more Yo hangovers)
Jeremy Giambi (strip clubs, drunkenness, a scolding by Brad Pitt in the locker room and the prancing “non-slide.”)
Bobby Crosby (a high pick that couldn’t do much of anything after his rookie year and even had his dad criticize Billy Beane in the media.)
Buddy Groom (dumb name, psycho looking face, and one of the worst LOOGY’s of all time.)
“We needed to do something that wasn’t timid.”
Billy Beane waltzed into the saloon again with guns blazing as he traded Josh Donaldson to the BlueJays for Brett Lawrie and 3 prospects, 2 of which are supposedly ML ready. I saw this coming when Kyle Seager, an inferior third baseman, signed a huge contract with the Mariners–all but pushing the A’s out of the picture for an extension during arbitration. Donaldson also had endeared himself to his already rabid fan base by calling owner Lou Wolff a cheap son of a bitch on Twitter, or in his own words, “they have plenty of money, my friend. they just tell everybody they don’t.
The fans are predictably upset and tired of the Oakland owners playing with MLB’s piece of the profit-share pie for ultimate profit. There is an underlying stench of betrayal, lack of loyalty and an overall disregard to the fan base. Donaldson was the Athletics most popular player and maybe the most popular 3rd baseman in franchise history. (sorry Chavy!) J.D. was very likable with his defensive hustle, power when the game was on the line and awesome trademark mullet/mohawk/rat-tail combo. He was visibly shaken and spoke to reporters about the trade: “I’m so shocked, I just got off the phone with Billy Beane, and I guess they got an offer that they couldn’t resist. I’m definitely a little emotional about it. Oakland is my home. At the end of the day, it’s a business, as much as it hurts emotionally. The guys in that clubhouse are my brothers.”
I was/am a huge fan of J.D., and although I’ve analyzed the trade with a heavy heart, I am trying to stay positive and see the pot of gold through the rainbow, or as the Dalai Lama says, “In order to carry a positive action we must carry here a positive vision.”
1. It is no secret that Beane loves pitching, and the two minor league pitchers we received in return (Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman) put up some good numbers last year. You can be positive both of these gentleman will start a handful of games in an Athletics uniform next season all but assuring Jeff Simardizija or Scott Kazmir will be traded in a packaged deal for oh, say….Justin Upton.
2. Brett Lawrie plays 3rd base with a little bit of second sprinkled in…the dude has a shit load of tattoos and epitomizes the word “bro” more than anyone in my own personal life. The ladies might see him as a “sexy scumbag.” As far as on-the-field he is much younger than Donaldson (25) and is just a notch or 2 below J.D. on the offensive and defensive side. A major concern is his history of injury. He is definitely serviceable with the talent to be really good.
In the end Donaldson says this to the fans of Oakland:
“To the fans of Oakland: Thank you for all the memories on and off the field I truly am blessed to have been part of it. We have had a lot of great memories together and the memories I will have will always hold a special place for me. Everyday I wore that uniform with pride, and gave you all that I could. Thank you again!!”
Strap yourselves in Oakland fans….this is just the beginning.
As longtime readers know, I like to incorporate different facets of life into this blog, mostly from the realm of modern art and literature. It tends to get a bit tedious talking about baseball players and stats and free agency and Bud Selig’s ego and PED’s and Hall of Fame voters and the widening strike zone until I’m blue in the face. We’re getting closer to the Christmas holidays, I drank too much Crown Royal and I’m feeling a bit silly.
John Kilduff was a loco personality. He hosted a “painting show” that I would watch late at night here in Los Angeles while sucking on the hash pipe. I was supposed to be writing a thesis on “Modern Art and Capitalism,” but this show seemed more interesting and vital at the time. I couldn’t tell if the guy was gifted or if he was a charlatan looking to make a buck, (he turned out to be both) and I loved it. Some of his work had titles like, “Hot dog eating a hot dog,” and “African-American titty burger.” All this talk is meaningless, you simply must see for yourself…
The air is getting more crisp in the mornings and I’m looking forward to Fall and sweaters and hot coffee in the early AM hours. I walked the dog in the wet air, and after peeing in his preferred spots I came home, made my girlfriend a bagel with cream cheese and then sat down for some light reading. I found this to be a rather funny excerpt from the current book on the “devour list,”Billy Martin’s 1987 book, Billyball:
…Mickey Mantle and I were in (the club) and sitting across the room was Elizabeth Taylor. She was with Michael Todd, who was her husband at the time, and Rock Hudson. Ed Wynne came over and asked if Mickey and I would pose for a picture with the three of them. I said we’d be glad to.
We went over and Ed makes the introductions all around, and let me tell you, I looked at Elizabeth Taylor’s face and it was like looking at the face of an angel. Her features were perfect. She was simply lovely, the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life. I just couldn’t believe a woman could be that beautiful. And she was wearing a low-cut dress. Oh, my God, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
So Ed introduces us and she’s very nice and sweet although I’m not even sure she knew who we were. And we pose for pictures and that was it, the whole thing took no more than a few minutes. Now Mickey and I return to our table and I just can’t get over how beautiful Elizabeth Taylor is. I’m talking a mile a minute.
“Mickey”, I said, “Did you see that face? Did you you ever see such a face? That is the most beautiful face I have ever seen in my life.”
“I ain’t seen her face,” Mickey said. “but did you see them tits?”
By Colonel Harland Sanders
Process over results every time. All. The. Time. Process is how you sustain success. Process is how you give yourself the best odds to avoid baseball being “stupid.” It’s how you become the horrible, awful, infuriating (if you’re not from St. Louis) Cardinals. This is not to say sabermetrics are always right. Actually nobody EVER says that except for people complaining about advanced stats who seem to rest their entire argument on that particular straw man. Advanced metrics simply improve your odds and give you a better chance.
The really crazy thing to me is that this isn’t specific to sports, but it seems to be the only place where people think it’s a bad thing. Let’s say you went to the doctor because you were sick and were given 2 options; a treatment that’s been around for 20 years that is supported by all of the research and gives you an excellent chance, or a medical technique that was popular in the 50’s but has since been shown to be flawed. Would anybody pick the treatment that gives them worse odds just because that’s how “old school” doctors would have done it? Of course not! And if for some reason, you did pick the statistically flawed and it worked…that doesn’t mean you made a smart decision, it means you got lucky.
Don’t misunderstand me, I am genuinely thrilled for Royals fans. They deserved this win!* but you know who didn’t deserve this win? Ned Yost. Dayton Moore. They made poor decisions and were rewarded with dumb luck. Their victory doesn’t change that.
*you know who DIDN’T deserve that heartbreaking loss? A’s fans. These people support a club that has been trying to leave town for years. It has a crap payroll. It has a dilapidated stadium. They have lost every do-or-die game they’ve played in this millennium (0-7). And they lost the Wild Card game LIKE THAT? In a season where they really went all in? Yuck.
Even a “genius” can make mistakes. Nikola Tesla made bizarre contraptions such as an earthquake machine and a death ray. Thomas Edison wanted to make entire houses out of concrete. Einstein said that the universe was eternal (apparently he thought the Big Bang Theory was hooey.)….and Billy Beane traded Andre Ethier for Milton Bradley.
At the time the trade seemed to make sense. The Athletics needed a big bat and they acquired one in Bradley. All they had to give up was their minor league player of the year and Texas League MVP in Andre Ethier. The trade worked fine for a while as Bradley helped the A’s get to the 2006 ALCS where they were eventually swept by the hated Detroit Tigers. Bradley, however must have forgotten to take his meds the next season as he became the violent schizophrenic that he had been in Los Angeles and was traded to the Padres after only 19 games (with cash…now THAT is desperation) for forgotten relief pitcher Andrew Brown.
Ethier, on the other hand became the poster boy of Los Angeles. He is one of the most beloved Dodgers to ever put on the uniform and will forever be seen as a heart-throb (right up there with Menudo!) to the female contingent of 20 and 30 somethings in the City of Angels. He is a two-time All Star, won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award. Ethier also gave the Dodgers 145 career HR’s and 628 RBI’s, compared to Bradley’s 16 and 59 for the Athletics. Ethier is class–personified while Bradley is quite the opposite. The psycho burned every bridge in every city he played in until everyone finally gave up and he wasn’t re-signed after the 2011 season (he even took to wearing earplugs to drown out the heckling fans)….and it didn’t end there. Bradley was facing 13 years in prison for spousal abuse and even threatened to kill his wife on more than one occasion. Strangely enough, she died on September 14, 2013 of unknown causes. (this was swept under the rug…perhaps I might get a notice from a lawyer or 2 after this is posted.)
This was a trade of disastrous proportions and will probably go down in history as one of Mr. Beane’s worse, and to save subjective judgment is diametrically opposed to what “Moneyball” was supposed to be about in the first place. This is but the first installment of “The Billy Beane failure chronicles.”
Here I am again, sitting by the poolside with a screwdriver, one of my favorite adult beverages. You may think that I’m trying to be a braggart, but L.A. summers are hot, man. I’m not having the time of my life or anything. Mind you, I live in a post WW 2 bungalow (L.A. is known for these….look for them in just about EVERY movie) so I don’t have air conditioning. Yep….tough times.
OK…OK….on to baseball. As you may or may not know my answers are unfiltered and to-the-point, often poignant but always unsentimental, not rude but refusing to infest the garden of honest human communication with the Victorian-seeded, American-sprouted weed of pointless politeness. What was the question you asked?
Well, the A’s sucking major ball-sack lately.
The A’s hitting has been anemic since “the trade”. They are 7-10 since trading the “Cuban Missile” and have currently lost 7 out of their last 8. They got a great ace in Lester but traded their 4 hitter to get him. Losing Cespedes has an effect on your 3 an 5 hitters and, ultimately, your entire lineup…..and that’s fine. There is a philosophy at work here. And that philosophy is based on “gamers”, L/R matchups (the baseball du jour) and amazing starting pitching.
I’ll take the above mentioned any day of the week over a guy who had an OBP of barely .300 and would make a great play every now and then. This is baseball…it takes patience, articulation and grittiness to win. If I know anything about this team….we’ll be alright. This is a desperate plea to all the nerds out there in internet land….CALM DOWN! I DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING! ENJOY BASEBALL! SOMETIMES YOU LOSE! LIFE GOES ON! QUIT BLOWING UP MY INBOX! …..and now…..back to my screwdriver.