The All Star Break is a long and punitive horror show to someone like me. The All Star game itself was a snooze fest (I was bored by the 5th) and the home run derby was was like watching paint dry; but with people sitting on couches, giving inane, contrived interviews and then slapping each other on the ass at different intervals. (Sponsored by T-Mobile)
I loved the All Star game as a kid but let’s face it– baseball players just aren’t all that interesting as humans. I love your athletic prowess dude, but don’t really give a shit about or have time for a Crash Davis inspired buddy-buddy interview with Jack Buck and John Smoltz leaving everyone uninspired with their deadpan deliveries. It’s like talking to your dad about safe sex while mowing the lawn.
Evidently I wasn’t the only one that was uninspired/would rather do anything else, as the ratings were at an all time low. Are you telling me that skits of baseball players pretending like they can play musical instruments and acting like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is cool and edgy didn’t stoke the imagination of the “youth of today!?” Thanks, Cleveland, but I think the answer was a resounding “no.”
After all the sickening schmaltz and corporate fuck-fest was over the reality of a pennant race kicked in.
I usually listen/watch games while typing and straightening my tie at work. I’ve got withdrawals that give me flu-like symptoms, anxiety, depression and restlessness. I need to drink a lot of water because there seems to be a thirst I can’t quench. I have to feign interest in Netflix shows or dating sites in order to chat with my co-workers around the water cooler. This seems to be an ample time-killer. Staring at a lap-top screen gives you headaches after awhile. My boss saw me dragging the other day and told me this: “the calm lake is a mirror.”
Did I mention staring at a lap-top all day gives you headaches?
It’s the All Star Break and I’m not really sure if I will watch the HR derby tonight even though A’s favorite/clandestine in the baseball world Matt Chapman is competing. I have unadulterated “pachyderm pride,” I just don’t care too much about one of my guys winning a home run contest. That being said, I did enjoy watching the old black and white 1960 episodes of Home Run Derby as a kid with Mickey Mantle, Duke Snyder and Willie Mays so perhaps I will tune in tonight just out of curiosity. These kind of things can be tricky, of course, because by my estimation if I’m not entertained within the first 5 minutes than I will give up all together and move on to another activity. There was just something cool about guys from the 60’s hitting dingers in an empty, creepy stadium rather than into a mosh pit of “ooohing” and “ahhhing” fans biting and clawing at each other for something they unrealistically think they can sell on ebay to put their kids through college. Plus, you know, Cleveland. Yuck.
I was reading random blogs when I was thrust into a magical internet wormhole, stumbling upon whentoppshadballs.blogspot.com and a write-up on the anomaly known as Mark Williams. I have always been intrigued by the more eccentric side of baseball and it’s players, and here is what I found: Mark Westley Williams is a former professional baseball outfielder. He played in three games for the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball in 1977, going 0-for-2 with 1 RBI. Born in Elmira, NY the last of three children for Virgina and David Williams. Retired in 1977 after losing interest in baseball after finding out that he suffered from anti-social disorder and allergic to egoistic inflation. Later attended West Point Military Academy, and Elmira College receiving a masters degree. Now can be found hiking numerous trials in upstate New York under trail name “Let Me Be!”
If anyone denies the “baseball is juiced” conundrum one just has to look at the career of Eric Sogard who had 11 career home runs in over 1,500 AB’s entering this season and 9 this year alone. More home-runs were hit in June than any other month in baseball history, including the steroid era. If MLB wanted to put this “shameful era” on the back-burner it sure isn’t displaying remorse as I’ve read numerous accounts of the baseball and its inner core being compromised after scientists with way too much time on their hands x-rayed and analyzed two different sets of baseballs, one of modern day and one before 2015. It seems like 40 home runs, once a milestone, will be humdrum, and which begs the question–who will be the next Brady Anderson? Shall we also judge and slander modern day players for HOF consideration because they played during the “juiced ball era?”
The baseball season can be summed up by the opposite theater masks of tragedy and comedy and the Yankees/Red Sox London Series was quite the definition of both. I watched the first game out of curiosity and was instantly turned off by both teams scoring 6 runs in the first inning. What some people see as an exciting, high-scoring game I just saw as bad pitching and a clown show. The first half of the first inning took 27 minutes alone. I’m not sure what kind of individual wants to watch a game with numerous pitchers entering to throw gas and dynamite on an open flame over a 4 hour period but I certainly don’t. I watched about 2 innings before the novelty wore off and I immediately changed the channel in order to watch old Twilight Zone episodes which were infinitely more interesting. I suppose the Yankees and their fans will be on the tongue of baseball fans everywhere until their eventual elimination by the Astros, the Twins or some random Wild Card team. The last sentence garnering a resounding “touche” or “you suck” with little discernible sway.
The Oakland Athletics ball-club, in a perpetual battle to dazzle, put Blake Treinen on the injured list Saturday essentially digging up 33-year old journeyman Brian Schlitter from the searing Nevada desert to red-carpet onto the Oakland faithful. The move was so immaterial it is rumored that the Las Vegas Aviators clubhouse boy didn’t even notice that Schlitter was gone.
“You mean the guy with the beard?”
–He played in Japan in 2017, learning the art of tidy minimalism and sushi rolling among other things only used in conversation at cocktail parties. His season with the Seibu Lions was solid, and after having a strong start to the season, Schlitter struggled in the final six weeks and finished 2017 with a 1-5 record, 32 holds and a 2.83 ERA.
–He showed up to Dodgers spring training in 2018 throwing the media into a fervor for about 5 solid minutes until they realized he wasn’t Jake Arrieta. “What kind of shit is this!? I just thought I had a front page headliner and now I got the page in the back next to the sporting good ads,” one reporter was overheard saying.
–While with the Cubs he was sent to the minors for drilling notable douchebag (just ask the Astros!) Carlos Gomez in the head. Ok, well maybe this Schlitter guy isn’t so bad.
–Schlitter was the closer in Las Vegas and is a ground ball pitcher who relies heavily on his sinker. When the brain trusts and scouts were sitting around and discussing free agents his name popped up in the conversation as “cheap” and “organizational depth” which are the two comprehensive attributes of the organization. To put it simply: He is the perfect Oakland Athletic.
Yankees fans are the new defrauders and ballot box stuffers of the idiotic All Star Game fan voting system (hello Royals fans!) by voting their entire infield into the finals; including 3rd baseman Gio Urshela who I had no idea existed as a baseball player until yesterday. I’m not trying to say I have a busy life of wine, women and tropical beaches or anything of that sort, but the day that I make a mental note of a career .249 hitter that the Indians and Blue Jays threw in the dumpster is the day that I enter the attic with a noose in hand. (Oh, wait. I just did.) Why don’t we all just give up now and have the All Star game be a contest between the Yankees and Mike Trout vs. the National League!?
Isn’t it time that the A’s sent down Lou Trivino and his solid 5.00 ERA? Every time he enters a game I immediately turn off the television knowing that the game is lost and that I probably have something better to do; namely watch Neil Tyson DeGrasse talk about how humanity is more than likely a simulation created by a “snot nosed kid in his parent’s basement.” Goddamn, these aliens are hyper-advanced! Which begs the questions: Do the Athletics care about their sponsors? How many potential viewers are the Athletics losing when Trivino steps on the mound? Are the aliens the least bit concerned about Trivino’s WHIP?
I haven’t posted on this site for about a year due to my laptop being stolen and I simply couldn’t remember the password. I must have had a moment of clarity this morning after a few cups of coffee because I was futzing around with random e-mails and passwords when lo and behold….here I am. For you new readers, (and as long time readers know) this is a baseball site that is ripe for psychiatric scrutiny, and I am every inch the eighth dimension.
I watched the A’s last night and it was an exciting affair with Frankie Montas pitching a gem and Matt Chapman hitting a 3 run walk-off for a 5-4 win over the Rays. Chapman is the best defensive 3rd baseman in baseball and should be an All-Star. Montas is having a solid season and is looking like the ace of the team; the absolute glamour queen on a stage full of ugly cretins who wouldn’t have a chance in hell of answering the cliche pageant question of, “How could we accomplish world peace?” The bullpen is a ticking time bomb and has caused much heartbreak and frustration so far this young season; an absolute atrocity that leaves me scratching my head in so many fits that one would think I had a case of head lice.
Reading is one of the few things that calms my mind for any given length of time as concentrating on any one thing for long moments poses some serious problems. Losing yourself in a book is a fantastic escape from everyday trials, and I also find myself being lost in the wordplay and turn of phrase by any writer with significant skills. I was recently going through some boxes when I found a dusty copy of Slaughterhouse Five with a baseball card tucked inside and I had to take pause.
I’ve dragged this “bookmark” around from mezcal soaked Tijuana watering holes where the prostitutes would whisper “primo” at me in an attempt to extract a few American dollars for an escort, extravagant Palm Springs hotels where I once kissed a model with a zit on her chin, and a hash-smoke laden Barcelona beach where a Muslim kid tried to steal my passport while I was sleeping. It has ceased to be a simple piece of cardboard to be merely used, thrown away or disregarded; now it is a dear friend full of memories with hilarious anecdotes to share.
I know very little about the player on the card and have certainly never seen him play. Tommy Harper was born in Oak Grove, Louisiana, was a central figure in the troubled racial history of the Red Sox, and had a long but rather unremarkable career with 8 teams. (although he did hit 31 home runs for Milwaukee in 1970, making his only All Star game.)
Around Fall 2001 I was moving in to a new place with my girlfriend at the time; she was 21, petite, had short red hair, a great sense of humor, loved to eat cheese and watch the X Files. We moved to a studio in a dodgy urban area, but it was ours and we loved it–we were young and still trying to understand the internal world of our hearts and minds among punk rock music, modern art, drugs and used furniture.
One night we were behind our apartment building taking out the trash when we saw a small gray and white cat running around. After chasing the little rascal around for a while, we caught it and decided to adopt him, but we couldn’t decide on a name.
“How about Bip?” I said.
Leon Joseph “Bip” Roberts hadn’t been in the league for a couple of seasons, but at the time was announcing for the local AAA Sacramento River Cats and this predicated the name. Besides, the player Bip was sort of smallish and an underdog who only hit 30 homers in his career. (One for the Oakland A’s!) The cat “Bip” was smallish and an underdog as well. The name stuck. Bip is probably gone now and the relationship is long over, as things tend to do, but the memories will always last.
No word yet as if Bip (the cat) has hit any homers in the Big Leagues.
My middle school science teacher was a die-hard Giants fan. Our class listened to the ’89 NLCS game 5 clincher against the Cubs and Mark Grace on a portable radio while she scored the game on the chalkboard. (do these specimens of archaic learning still exist? and does anyone actually score a game anymore?) I pretended to read about black holes and sun spots while my eyes glossed over, staring at absolutely nothing with a slack-jawed bovine expression. Someone had drawn a heavy metal logo on page 237. Perhaps they were enjoying my current landscape of foggy faux-meditation when they had a primal urge to draw something, anything.
“Yesterday we explicitly agreed to quietly do our work as long as we could listen to the game.” she said.
We knew that this was a faulty agreement as she was going to listen to the game regardless of whether we agreed to the shoddy terms or not, and besides, some of us weren’t Giants fans. I couldn’t give a toss about the Giants or science at that time as I was more interested in girls and boobs; not necessarily in that order.
We had spoken about Carney Lansford a few days earlier and his time with the Red Sox. Her boyfriend was a “Southie” from Boston; a second generation working-class, red-haired Irish Mick from a long line of drunks, thieves and lowlifes. He had escaped the sludge and went to some long forgotten East Coast university and he and his stoner buddies would go to Fenway Park on weekends where they had acquired an affinity for Lansford. Of course, she thought all of this was cute and clever and was terribly pleased by it.
“No offense Mrs. Cleveland, but besides Will Clark your team just isn’t very likable. Rick Rueschel looks like a fat, middle-aged divorced dad and Scott Garrelts looks like a skinny nose-picking dork.”
It was true. Both starting pitchers looked like the antithesis of an athlete but the perfect working-class early 20th century farm boy baseball player. Some fans, probably the nerdy, isolationist type can get behind that “average joe” persona and root for them passionately, but in the era of super athletes like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders I would always inexplicably choose the latter over the former.
“Let us not forget that your friend Carney Lansford looks like an accountant,” she said as she swallowed what was supposed to look an aspirin to the general viewer. A few classmates had theorized that she popped vicodin on occasion because of her seemingly more “relaxed” state as the day wore on. This wasn’t a great choice as it ultimately led to bouts of throwing up in the garbage can.
Childhood often walks the fine-line between the blissful and boring, and Big League Chew was an integral part of the blissful “baseball experience” that my friends and I so desperately wanted to be part of as young boys. We would scan our stacks of baseball cards and see players like Lenny Dykstra and Tony Gwynn with a not-so-subtle, chipmunk-like slab of tobacco stuck in their cheeks as they posed, bat skillfully wielded in the lazy, sun bleached spring training summer–and we wanted to emulate that with pink, shrouded shreds of sugar-coated goodness. We were hip to the insider culture that only the pros knew about; at least in our own minds.
My parents were insanely cheap; and this didn’t seem to be strange at all as most parents of the 80’s seemed to adhere to this doctrine. My friends and I decided that we would have to be enterprising, so we would knock on doors and ask the neighborhood psychos if we could have the pleasure of raking their lawns for 5 dollars. The riches would be immediately spent a mere four blocks away at the appropriately named Happy Market for some Big league Chew and a couple of packs of baseball cards. The leftover dough would be used to rent a movie that was skillfully chosen in VHS form from the Movie Hut down the street for 1.99 a day, and if we were lucky had the name Schwarzenegger or Van Damme on the box. The solitary zit-faced teen wearing an Iron Maiden shirt at the counter would look up my mom’s rental information on the ancient IBM computer and oblige out of boredom or indifference.
I recently walked around the old neighborhood for the first time in over 20 years. The houses still looked the same, as if time had never happened. There’s where I used to wait for the bus. That’s where I got into a fight with Tim Crumrine. There’s where I used to shoot hoops for hours. That’s where a kid’s dad told another kid to “fuck off” and ran over his skateboard. It was a quiet neighborhood and I was hoping my younger self would walk out of my old house so I could tell him about all the wonderful adventures he would have in the future and warn him about all the mistakes he was going to make. I would tell him to forget his anxieties concerning adulthood and to enjoy the simplicity, lack of corruption and absolute wonder of his life at that moment.