More self-absorbed baseball reminiscing.

I'm assuming the penis and cigarette has lowered the value quite dramatically.

I’m assuming the penis and cigarette has lowered the value quite dramatically. Perhaps done by a jilted Reds or Dodgers fan?

At 12 years old my interests were the same as your average kid from the 80’s era as I enjoyed playing with Star Wars toys with friends, re-creating scenes from Return of the Jedi and eating the latest sugary cereal concoction that hit the market. Seeing that we were boys and enjoyed rough-housing, there was also the random broken window from a baseball being batted which is decidedly why my friends and I began making balls with newspaper and duct tape– in retrospect this was a genius move as we couldn’t care less if we lost the ball and there were no more broken windows and the inevitable grounding and ass-tanning that came with it.

This was the year I went to my first Major League Baseball game which was on September 26, 1987. I know this because my Grandfather took me because it was “Reggie Jackson Day,” and Reggie being his all-time favorite player made this game matter-of-course. The Oakland Coliseum wasn’t the out-dated monstrosity that it has become today and back then you actually had a view of the Oakland hills behind the bleachers, a view akin to Dodger Stadium today. The details of the actual game have been blurred through time, yet I remember being disappointed that Reggie batted only once (on his day!) in a pinch hit role, popping out. After a bit of research what had once been in my mind’s-eye, indeed, the above date held true. Ol’ Reg had stepped in the box once–popping out with runners on second and third in a 3-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox and their new pig-tail “C” caps.

After the game Reggie was in a bad mood.

“I’m not into talking about how wonderful things are for me when we’ve lost four in a row,” he said. “I’m embarrassed.”

“If we had won, it would be different. But right now, my esteem is low. My self-importance is microscopic.”

The box-score is interesting to me as I remember my 12-year-old self wondering, “Who in the hell is Walt Weiss?” (Regular short-stop Alfredo Griffin must have been hurt or taking the day off) Weiss was in his third month in the league, and went on to win Rookie of the Year the next season. Long time Oakland A’s pitching coach Curt Young started the game, pitching 7 strong innings and giving up 1 run. (This wasn’t part of my memory, as the only one I remember is Reggie batting once and popping out which probably destroyed my belief in predestiny and prepared me for the heartbreak and disappointment of being an A’s fan for years to come) Overall, I don’t remember much as far as feelings or any other waxing “ball park details”, except the expansiveness of the field, my grandfathers chain-smoking of Marlboro “Reds”, and pissing in a trough for the first time. Yet, I must liken this experience to a crack head’s first hit as it led me a life-long obsession that still exists to this day.

Gettin’ slammed at the ol’ yard.

vintage beerPeople 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.drunk A's

–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.

Happy Holidays!

XMAS FROHope you experience a most pleasant celebration of your planet’s winter solstice…and a most logical New Year. –Mr. Spock

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?

 

The slider was a psychedelic nightmare for Bobby Crosby.

crozz2For the readers of this blog that don’t follow the Athletics closely–Bobby Crosby was a super-stud prospect who was called up to the big club, won Rookie of the Year in 2004, and then just….disappeared. I’m not a huge fan of poetry, but I believe that this one sums up Crosby’s and hundreds of other players careers that have come and gone throughout the decades.  Poem by Sam Yam.

 

It looks so straight, but ends up slicing
If pitching were a cake, it would be the icing
There’s nothing in the world so enticing
as the slider low and away

It feels like the pitcher is just showing off
I’ve tried to get the runners to tip me off
But however I try I just can’t lay off
of the slider low and away

Fastballs and changeups? I don’t do ’em
Curveballs and sinkers? I eschew ’em
Strikes in general? I say screw ’em
for the slider low and away

They wish that I could hold up and stare
But quite honestly, I just don’t care
Because nothing will end my love affair
with the slider low and away

 

 

Brett Lawrie, I bid you adieu.

 

2015-TU-265-Brett-LawrieIn the news: Donald Trump and his xenophobic rhetoric and unrealistic, infantile threats of massive bombing have been dominating the attention span of talking heads recently. I am a member of one of the most pessimistic and ironic generations that has ever roamed the earth–Generation X — so all of this is difficult to process as I can’t get past Trump’s silver-spoon-since-birth shitty bourgeoise attitude and makes me laugh/makes me want to kill someone psychedelic hairpiece. It’s also offensive that the man is using death, suffering and a public existential crisis to further his own political agenda; not caring a lick about working class struggles or fears. Truly a sickening individual with no ability to conceive the reality that average Americans face everyday. “Condemnation without investigation is the highest form of ignorance.” – Albert Einstein

 

MLB’s alcoholic circle jerk known as the Winter Meetings took place in Nashville and new Oakland G.M. David Forst harkened back to the early days when teams would try to find the drunkest guy in the room and then proceed to pilfer him for great players on the cheap. Forst recently lived up to that generalization when he traded Brett Lawrie to the White Sox and in exchange the South-Siders sent minor leaguers RHP J.B. Wendelken (AAA) and LHP Zack Erwin (A) to the A’s. Neither was on the Sox’s list of Top-30 prospects. This trade was a head-scratcher because of its insignificance.You would think that the Oakland ball-club would try to squeeze something more appetizing out of the Sox because of their desperate attempt to pick up ANYONE better than Mike Oltdave justice pepsi dollar at third base. Let us take a pause… we’ve now traded Josh Donaldson for 3 minor league pitchers, 1 major league pitcher, and a very young (albeit in theory future superstar)short stop. Forst just pushed the button on the evaluation of the that ill-fated trade even further. Lawrie? who knows…he probably called out Beane for not stocking the vending machine with free sodas. (this may be an inside joke to the clueless, hello Dave Justice!) Joking aside, the trade may have been a desperate attempt at dumping “Tweaker” as there have been whispers about Lawrie being a clubhouse nuisance after not one teammate stepped up when was drilled early in the season by Kansas City.
Something tells me the A’s will be okay without Lawrie, and that moving on was the hard-boiled thing to do. Lawrie will always be seen by this blog as a hard-nosed player with a serious hitch in his swing, horrible plate approach and is partial to tattoos and copious amounts of energy drinks. With Lawrie you see the sweat, blood, tears, screams, anger, defeat, triumph, joy, sadness and a .299 OBP. (probably the real reason why he was traded.) You see every bit of it. But unfortunately individuals with freakish athleticism don’t always translate well to the baseball field. Just ask Michael Jordan.

The dumpster fire known as the 2015 season.

The 'Fro agrees with this fans assessment of the "split caps."

The ‘Fro agrees with this fans assessment of the “split caps.”

Baseball doesn’t always follow a Hollywood script and neither do baseball seasons. This past season, for me, conjures up the old baseball adage: we came, we saw, we went home. It was a quandary from the beginning that lent itself to flaccid penis. We as Oakland fans simply knew we weren’t going to be contenders a month deep, and it can be tough watching games day after day, month after month with no hope for the immediate future and a bullpen that resembles something my dog leaves on the ground after a brisk walk. The A’s pitching has been at its worst since the mid 1990s and it makes me cringe at how they would look without Sonny Gray and half a year of Scott Kazmir. This team reminds me of the crummy baseball team on the Twilight Zone episode “The Mighty Casey.” Perhaps the Oakland ball-club should sign a robot as well or maybe Kelly Leak from the Bad News Bears. Hell, the alcoholic manager of the Bears (played by the late, great Walter Matthau) could probably hit as well as Sam Fuld. The rest of the team (except for a few players) left me cold– like a disease but with a prescription that includes strychnine along with the penicillin.
This past Saturday gave Bay Area baseball fans something to talk about (besides provincial animosities) as the A’s and Giants faced off with 2 of Oakland’s “Big 3” facing off in Barry Zito’s first ML appearance since 2013 and perhaps the final appearance of his career. (obviously my local A’s radio affiliate couldn’t care less as they decided to carry a Division 2 football game instead.) The game echoed the year to date: much to do about nothing as Zito and Tim Hudson were knocked around and each left before the 3rd inning. The fans gave each a heartwarming standing ovation as they skulked off the field in perhaps the most ultimate display of nostalgia and a desperate attempt to cheer about ANYTHING in a season of despair, disappointment and the worst record in the A.L. Is there any way to smirk on paper? Fans were actually excited about a dumpster fire… but at least this one had an explosion at the end compared to the many others we’ve experienced that were just slow burning tire fires. I just refused to bring out the marshmallows.

The puzzling relationship between Reggie Jackson and his adoring public.

reggie puzzlePALM SPRINGS, March 23rd 1985 — Reggie Jackson and Brian Downing were involved in an altercation with an unidentified man following the Angels’ 8-1 exhibition victory over the Cleveland Indians at Tucson Friday.
The incident took place in the parking lot at Hi Corbett Field as Jackson and Downing were preparing to return to the Angel training base at Mesa, Ariz.
Jackson, reached by phone Friday night, said he was merely responding to the man’s belligerence by trying to restrain him. He said no punches were thrown and that the man ultimately apologized as he and Downing left in Downing’s car.
Witnesses told the Arizona Daily Star that the man had heckled Jackson throughout the game and continued to do so in the parking lot. They said that while there were no punches, the heckler suffered a cut lip, apparently in the jostling near Downing’s car.
by Brody D-Bag (name changed to protect the “innocent.”)
My buddies and I took a trip to Palm Springs in 1985 to get away from our wives, kids, jobs and the everyday hustle and bustle. I was working in real estate at the time and had the persona of a world class douche-bag. (hey, it was the 80’s!) We had been partying voraciously all week and had all downed a few “hair of the dog” bloody marys that morning before Dave looked in the newspaper and found that the Angels were in town for Spring Training.
“I want to see that .220 hitting son of a bitch play!” Dave screamed as he buttoned his Hawaiian shirt.
I knew who he was talking about– Mr. Hot Dog himself, Reggie Jackson.
We all climbed in the car, eyes bloodshot and ready for some beers, sun and some good times. Of course, we parked ourselves in the right field bleachers and proceeded to heckle Jackson mercilessly, as only 10 year olds can. FINALLY in the 8th inning, he turned around and gave us the finger. It was a triumphant moment of immaturity.
After the game I approached Reggie in a drunken stupor in the parking lot and tried to shake his hand.
“You and your friends were the assholes in the bleachers!” he said as he grabbed my wrists and shoved me to the ground.
Jackson then jumped in fellow player Brian Downing’s car and they sped off. It was later reported that I was shoving kids and offered him cocaine…in Spanish. I am not proud of my actions and have always regretted every moment, but that statement simply wasn’t true.
I don’t even speak Spanish.

Coco is back!!!

coco crisp topps archivesForgive me for acting the role of a withered old man and opening this conversation by talking about the weather, but the days are getting noticeably cooler and downcast and I am embracing the respite from the sun. When the sky is cloudless with a light grey hue it tends to dismiss humans and their petty vocations because its less violent and talkative creatures need vital H20. It gives me the feeling of ennui that I embrace like a long forgotten friend who ignites and inspires my creative energies with truthful exuberance. I imagine it’s the same feeling of animated sprightliness and mischievousness that caused Phillies fans to boo Santa Claus. They claimed he was drunk, skinny and beardless and who can blame them?
There is a sushi restaurant less than a block away from my house that I like to patronize on occasion. Today I stopped in for a few .99 cent sake bombs and there was an interesting article in the newspaper (now printed with soy ink!) concerning stat guru Bill James. According to James and his own Pythagorean formula the A’s should be 7 games over .500. I’m not sure whether it was Billy Martin or Earl Weaver or every other manager in the history of baseball that said your team can only go as far as their bullpen; but whoever it was they were certainly correct as far as the 2015 Oakland A’s are concerned.
Coco Crisp returned from the D.L. on Monday accounting for 2 hits, all but doubling his season total and raising his average to .082. Although the aforementioned feat happened at the hands of a 9-2 drubbing by the Orioles, this seemed to be a special moment because of Senior Crisp’s injuries and dwindling ability to help this team. I would compare the moment he stepped into the box to a Rolling Stones concert–very expensive, way past its prime, and incipient of a moment that should be enjoyed presently because it will be over before you know it. Perhaps Mr. Jagger, he of the peacock candor, can tip his cap to that.

More fictional adventures from baseball scout Bob Hale!

scout bob haleThe 5 tool prospect I was looking for was a disembodied spirit who lived in the clouds of my imagination. Those fluffy clouds have taken me from the deadlands of Northern Texas to the swamps of Louisiana. 100’s and 100’s of miles driven on black asphalt turned gelatinous by the unrelenting ball of fire in the Dixie sky.
My name is Bob Hale– Southern baseball scout for the Kansas City Athletics.

Scouts like to pride themselves on the prescience of finding a “stud” or a highly touted prospect. I, on the other hand, am a realist– I believe our lives are no more than the sum of manifold contingencies, and no matter how diverse they might be in their details they all share the same essential randomness in design: this, then that, and because of that, this. I was an expert in what it was that I was searching for, but like a gold prospector, finding it was a matter of luck and timing. And as you may or may not know, most prospectors who headed to the Wild West in 1849 ended up broke or dead.
Bouncing around from mosquito infested small town to dusty shit hole becomes unnerving after a while. Scouting isn’t a typical job where you must dress nice, smell good, be charismatic, be a team leader or have excellent communication skills. This isn’t academia and no one wears tweed. Most of us can’t do anything else–this is all we know. This leads to many lonely nights in hotel rooms with nothing but an orchestra of empty bottles. Most of us can’t even afford a truck stop hooker. Eventually the alcohol hits the blood stream and you stare at the dirty sheets…reminiscing about a girl who you once loved and who loved you in return. The ghosts of youth are always hiding around the corner, and since loneliness and time are your only consistencies the ghosts visit often. It is easy to be hard- boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing.
Baseball men are naturally superstitious; and I am no different. I wear a gold chain around my neck given to me by my grandfather–St. Christopher, the patron saint of travel. There was no stronger bond with my grandfather than the baseball bond. I was the first grandchild, and since I was virtually fatherless he must have felt some sort of sense of nurturing. My mother was overwhelmed by the prospect of a small child with no job prospects in her future so my grandparents molded me in their own image. Those early days were pleasant for me as I was a curious young man with a shit load of piss and vinegar. I ran hell and high water around my Chicago neighborhood with my buddies; experiencing the world with fresh eyes and a zeal only a youngster could have. My mother, on the other hand, was a bit tyrannical and not educated or patient enough to converse or understand someone ready to devour the world so I didn’t see her all that much.
Grandfather would take me to the old Cubs Park in those early days. (They didn’t name it Wrigley until 1926.) I loved outfielder Max Flack in the way that only adolescents can love an unobtainable celebrity-object even though he was considered the “goat” of the 1919 World Series. The 1920 season on the field was disappointing—the Cubs tied for fifth place with a 75-79 record but I didn’t care. Max Flack managed to hit .302 to lead the team, but the real bright spot was the reemergence of Grover Cleveland “Ole Pete” Alexander as the pitching leader. My future was all but written.
I lay here with a battered copy of Playboy spread across my chest, and I wonder where all the days, hours, minutes and seconds went to die forever. Sometimes I embellish my existence and tell myself that I bring happiness to millions of fans and dreams to hundreds of young men. “Let go or be dragged.” That’s how the Zen proverb goes. I remembered that I had read this in a small china shop in San Francisco as I drank my second cup of oily coffee with just a nip of Old Crow and slowly drifted away…
The ‘ol banged up Chrysler started with a bang and a plume of smoke. The morning air is sticky already. I heard there was a young man with one helluva fastball in Baton Rouge and I always seem to have a rousing time there. The Yankees are interested as well so I’ll have to drive like a bat out of hell through the night to get there before they do– just to watch a teenager throw a five ounce sphere of cork, rubber, yarn, and horsehide. Let the chase begin.

The namesake of this blog has lost his position.

burns all star rookie As much as we here at The ‘Fro enjoy Coco Crisp and his exciting style of play, it seems as if the Athletics may have found a new center fielder. Every baseball team seems to want to get younger, and it just makes sense to play a 25 year old over a 35 year old with a potential career threatening neck injury and a .044 average. 

Billy Burns is superior to Crisp at EVERYTHING at this point in his career. Crisp had 19 stolen bases in 126 games last year. Burns already has 13. (and this blog  thinks he need to run more!) There is nothing more to convey, baseball fans. This is a no-brainer and a (near) ending to an otherwise great career for the man who once sported a giant afro and punched “Average Game” James Shields.

There has been a bit of controversy lately about Kansas City fans voting in 8 position players for the All Star Game. Kansas City fans have taken it upon themselves be didactic about their “passion” for their team by telling other fans to vote for their own teams and even appalling others by calling it a “popularity contest.” The average baseball fan doesn’t know Lorenzo Cain or Omar Infante from Jean-Paul Sartre, so that is an almost idiotic response to the detractors. As far as “voting” is concerned, all it comes down to is glorified “click-bait” by the MLB brass to get people to go to their website. This is capitalism mzojodisguised as democracy which means only an idiot would sit around making hundreds of fake e-mails in order to sit around pushing a button 35 times (the most you can vote per e-mail) in order to see their favorite player/s in an exhibition game. It all comes down to what cities have the most unemployed/unsophisticated/bored fans.  

I have no problem with the game deciding who has home field advantage because the league used to arbitrarily flip-flop it between leagues before Bud Selig decided to step in and make it just as arbitrary. My question is this–why didn’t K.C. fans vote for the players who deserved it? As a child I would sit in the ballpark during batting practice meticulously punching the paper chads, all the while still voting for the deserving players as I wanted to see an exciting All Star game which didn’t include Mike Gallego starting at second. I’m not saying your average American sports fan is a moron, but then again maybe I am. Alas, even a child had a better sense of democracy and fair play than a bunch of adults with an inferiority complex. Let’s hope commissioner Rob Manfred does what Ford Frick did before the start of the 1957 game. Another boring, Midwestern town, Cincinnati, stuffed the box and had 8 players starting. An investigation launched by Frick found that over half of the ballots cast came from the local newspaper, printing up pre-marked ballots and distributing them with the Sunday edition of the newspaper to make it easy for Reds fans to vote often for their favorite players. Frick then decided to appoint Willie Mays and Hank Aaron in the outfield positions they righteously deserved, all but deeming provincial hubris irrelevant and ultimately outing the so-called “voting democracy” as a farce that still exists today in electronic form. It may have been just as “easy” to stuff the ballot box using paper back in the old days, but having to use a pencil to punch tiny chads seems a whole lot more indicative of “fan loyalty” than spending 25% of a lunch break to exploit a ridiculously low-security voting web site.