It’s 104 degrees outside as I’m typing this, and it seems like an irrefutable idea to sit around the air conditioner and watch a few horror films meant for the garbage heap while drinking copious amounts of iced tea. I’m still not comfortable being in large groups of virus puppets, and shame on the people that decided to congregate in large groups Memorial Day Weekend. Ezra Pound was quoted as saying,”Stupidity carried beyond a certain point becomes a public menace.” and he was absolutely correct on that account in more ways than one. The major component in this logic can only be seen as self-serving and uncaring; so don’t expect compassion if you are one of the revelers who just happens to acquire a healthy (or unhealthy. yuck yuck.) case of The ‘Rona. As you can probably tell from the former sentence, I am seemingly a huge proponent of retribution, and you wouldn’t be wrong. More than likely, as life is always unfair in this way, one of the “party animals” will probably give it to someone who dies while their own case remains dormant. I still have to repress the inclination to punch someone in the face who stands right next to me in the grocery store while blathering on their phone with spittle flying everywhere but, hey, nobody’s perfect.
At any rate…the internet wormhole strikes again! I stumbled across a photo of a barely clad Rickey Henderson for Playgirl in July 1984, and I thought, “Gee, that was an interesting year in pop culture.” I was in elementary school and I absolutely adored Michael Jackson. The biggest topic on the playground was: would you bang Madonna? and what Garbage Pail Kids would you trade? Of course, we were all virgins and wouldn’t know what to do with our peckers even if Madonna was a pedophile who was attracted to small town Catholic school knuckleheads who carried aluminum lunchboxes with Luke Skywalker emblazoned on the lid. I stared at the photo of Rickey for a minute and his powerful legs seemed to stand out in the photo for, oh, about 1,406 reasons. The photo was meant for a different gender (or not?) and maybe even a different race (or not?) but it still resonated from a baseball standpoint. Is this what happens when there is no baseball? Are you relegated to watching games on MLB.TV from 2019, playing fantasy games on your phone and staring at photos of Rickey Henderson’s legs?
I think I need to get outside. (with 6 feet of social distancing, of course)
Recently, a friend and I were walking to the corner store on a bright-sunny-day-beer-trip, lazily immersing ourselves in conversation about Glenn Danzig‘s new album of Elvis covers. My opinion was that I found the album to be trite, self-serious with no irony, and it ultimately garnered a shrug and a yawn; but even more hilarious and interesting was the almost universal frothing at the mouth by the gate-keeping reviewers who saw it as rock and roll anathema and a retrograde head-scratcher. Besides, couldn’t I just listen to Elvis himself? Is there any reason why I shouldn’t? Danzig, in all his glorious, visual hilariousness could never surpass a fat Elvis doing a rhinestone studded, scuzzy Las Vegas, word-slurring, pill popping rendition of “In the Ghetto.” There is, alas, only one “King,” and Mr. Danzig is just the former lead singer of a band whose t-shirts have been relegated to the scrapheap of clueless millennial teenage rebellion. This album only exists to create more landfill.
We passed the “Rickey Henderson” statue that I noticed that someone had (lovingly?) bestowed a mask, no doubt an attempt at humor or perhaps a micro-aggressive reminder to Trump fans (and every cro-magnon attempting to adopt the modern human sleeve without internal logic) that surely no amount of patriotism or amendments can stop a virus or even death. These are surreal and almost hilarious times and I couldn’t help but suppressing a snicker as I put on my own mask before entering the store, per new regulation, to an absurdity that can only be seen as the “new normal.” I seemingly can only wonder and perhaps dream of a world without The ‘Rona and maybe even Glenn Danzig for good measure since wondering and dreaming seems to be the only pastime that makes sense these days besides drinking and hand washing.
Poised between going on and back, pulled Both ways taut like a tight-rope walker, Fingertips pointing the opposites, Now bouncing tiptoe like a dropped ball, Or a kid skipping rope, come on, come on! Running a scattering of steps sidewise, How he teeters, skitters, tingles, teases, Taunts them, hovers like an ecstatic bird, He’s only flirting, crowd him, crowd him, Delicate, delicate, delicate, delicate – Now! –
People wax nostalgic about Ty Cobb and the other dead beat- dead ball honkies….but make no mistake, if my man Rickey was around and even ALLOWED to play with those bigots he would have stolen 2000 more bases. Now before anyone gets crazy about an era they’ve only READ about, let me explain–In the dead ball era it was damn near prerequisite for someone to steal. If you had less than 50 in a season, you just weren’t that good. (apparently they didn’t give a shit about sabermetrics, as in 2010 in the American League there were 1505 stolen bases and only 540 caught stealing. A success rate of 73.6% which is almost 22% higher than in 1927. And 1927 was a high year as the success rate for a SB in that era was usually well under 60%…. Ty Cobb’s stolen base percentage for his career was probably around 67 percent.) Of course, there is always the argument that the era that I speak of had a lackadaisical attitude towards balk calls and other mound chicanery… and that is true, yet I find it hard to believe that an inferior athlete such as Babe Ruth, whos home run trot is famous for its daintiness can actually have 123 career swipes…a mere 77 behind Jose “robo-athlete” Canseco. What the fuck is going on here? This sport makes as much sense as a 40-year-old divorcee in Ibiza….entertaining, wealthy, fun to look at, yet ultimately a head shaking affair.
Ahhhh…but isn’t life itself a head shaking affair? How can you make sense of the serial killer, religion, black holes, or the time I vomited on the subway.
….and by you I mean YOU…the reader. You don’t know shit. Admit it. You will want to fulfill your need to be “the correct party” and regale me with NUMBERS. I don’t need numbers….I’ve seen the greatest base stealer of ALL TIME in my life time, and until they put robots on the goddamn field that will never change.
Rickey Henderson Quotes
1) Rickey, on referring to himself in the third person:“Listen, people are always saying, ‘Rickey says Rickey.’ But it’s been blown way out of proportion. People might catch me, when they know I’m ticked off, saying, ‘Rickey, what the heck are you doing, Rickey?’ They say, ‘Darn, Rickey, what are you saying Rickey for? Why don’t you just say, ‘I?’ But I never did. I always said, ‘Rickey,’ and it became something for people to joke about.”
2) In the early 1980s, the Oakland A’s accounting department was freaking out. The books were off $1 million. After an investigation, it was determined Rickey was the reason why. The GM asked him about a $1 million bonus he had received and Rickey said instead of cashing it, he framed it and hung it on a wall at his house.
4) Rickey once told a cleaning lady that cleaning his room was bad luck.
5) This one happened in Seattle. Rickey struck out and as the next batter was walking past him, he heard Henderson say, “Don’t worry, Rickey, you’re still the best.”
6) Rickey once asked a teammate how long it would take him to drive to the Dominican Republic. 7) Moments after breaking Lou Brock’s stolen base record, Henderson told the crowd – with Brock mere feet next to him – “Lou Brock was a great base stealer, but today, I am the greatest of all-time.”
8) Henderson once fell asleep on an ice pack and got frostbite – which forced him to miss three games — in mid-August.
9) A reporter asked Henderson if Ken Caminiti’s estimate that 50 percent of Major League players were taking steroids was accurate. His response was, “Well, Rickey’s not one of them, so that’s 49 percent right there.”
11) On being Nolan Ryan’s 5,000th career strikeout: “It gave me no chance. He (Ryan) just blew it by me. But it’s an honor. I’ll have another paragraph in all the baseball books. I’m already in the books three or four times.”
12) San Diego GM Kevin Towers was trying to contact Rickey at a nearby hotel. He knew Henderson always used fake names to avoid the press, fans, etc. He was trying to think like Rickey and after several attempts; he was able to get Henderson on the phone. Rickey had checked in under Richard Pryor.
14) The Mets were staying in a hotel less than a mile from Cinergy Field in Cincinnati. While some players walked, most took the team bus. A few minutes after they arrived — again it was less than a mile – the last players off the bus noticed a stretched limo that had just pulled up. Of course, Rickey emerged from the back seat.
15) A reporter once asked Rickey if he talked to himself, “Do I talk to myself? No, I just remind myself of what I’m trying to do. You know, I never answer myself so how can I be talking to myself?”
16) According to both parties involved, this one’s not true. But here is is anyhow. The story went that a few weeks into Henderson’s stint with the Mariners, he walked up to Olerud at the batting cage and asked him why he wore a batting helmet in the field. Olerud explained that he had an aneurysm at nine years old and he wore the helmet for protection. Legend goes that Henderson said, “Yeah, I used to play with a guy that had the same thing.”Legend also goes that Olerud said, “That was me, Rickey.”Henderson played with Olerud on the Blue Jays and the Mets.