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The Holiday season is upon us yet once again. I know a lot of people love the holidays, but all the crass consumerism and overcast/rainy weather puts me in a sort of pessimistic mood. Alas, I do enjoy time with my family, as we’re all getting geriatric and slower, and the Christmas turkey smothered in gelatinous gravy is something I could never complain about. There is also something special about watching kids opening presents with a pure jubilation that is hard to replicate at my age and is a much needed recess from the ills that one faces every day on this planet. That being said: I expect to spend a lot of time sleeping, sitting on the toilet and imbibing on spiked egg nog. Sometimes being less than exemplary is the most comfortable narrative.
The World Series seemed like it happened an eternity ago (who won again?) and no one seems to care about anything besides the Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon signings. Maybe these guys will buy a small island or perhaps a third world country with their earnings as the fans cry into their 15 dollar beers. Baseball is getting a bit ridiculous when a guy can pay my rent with the money he made from one pitch. It’s kind of ironic that MLB is promoting baseball in the inner-city but none of these kids could actually afford to attend a live game much less buy a hot dog. Baseball will certainly have a conundrum on their hands when all the Boomers start to become worm food in the coming decades. It’s certainly time to adapt or face the humiliation of antiquity: if you ignore them will they come?
There is no reason to get your panties in a bunch…Rendon and the Angels will continue to lose because of piss-poor pitching and horrible front office decisions, (like the Pujols signing) and Cole will be every Yankee fan’s wet dream until he loses a couple in a row and their fans have a collective idiot brain implosion. This shit-show will be completed with fans calling into sports talk radio with heavy Bronx accents and a million asinine complaints. (why didn’t they pitch Joe Blow in the 7th? ad nauseum.) I mean, who really gives a shit about global warming and plastic pollution when the Yankees are losing!? You dumb hippies.
The A’s lost Tanner Roark and Blake Trienen to free agency, but no one on Oakland seems to be crying in their soup as the fan-base threw up a shoulder shrug. Don’t expect the Oakland ball-club to make any evocative moves this off-season besides signing the minor-league guy nobody wanted and turning him into a star. There were whispers of acquiring second baseman Jed Lowrie but that news was about as exciting as your mother-in-law spending the weekend on the couch or the dog vomiting on the rug.
Baseball, in its never ending quest to mind-fuck, has presented me with more questions than a Jim Morrison midnight acid trip on a Santa Monica beach during the apocalypse of the Four Horsemen while a werewolf rubs salt crystals on his body and howls at the moon.
In the baseball scandal of the decade, protagonist Mike Fiers announced that his teammates, the Houston Astros stole catcher signs electronically during their 2017 World Series title, relegating the team to the moral garbage heap of Pete Rose, Barry Bonds and the 1919 White Sox. Every ill-informed gas-bag has thrown their opinion into the fray, and I suppose I must do the same considering that I subscribe to both.
The above offense certainly slanders baseball’s unwritten rules, and the Astros should be punished accordingly. The coaches that knew about/masterminded the offense should be suspended for life or fired, but the World Series title shouldn’t be taken away (although Yankees and Dodgers fans may disagree) as that would cause even more confusion and would destroy what little credulity the average working class fan has in a large, money-hungry conglomerate such as MLB. Let this be a reminder and momento mori for what little integrity there was in America’s Game. Commissioner Rob Manfred, largely ornamental and as interesting as a piece of blank paper certainly has a conundrum of epic proportions on his hands.
Fiers and the Astros will forever be tangled in a 21st century sociological courtship of slander, deceit and moral ambiguity…until the next scandal. The whole ball of wax is exhausting, tiresome and seemingly never ending. Welcome to big league sports and modern day capitalism.
As I’m typing this I am passively watching John Carpenter’s brilliant 1978 flick Halloween as is my yearly tradition. I am a huge fan of slasher films, but this movie had a sort of “art house” quality that endears it to my heart a little more than the others. There will be no dress up or celebrations, however, as I have gratifying and exciting plans of washing dishes and clothes this evening before a glass of wine and maybe bed before 10:00. Such as it is when you’re middle aged, and I am fine with this. My friends wanted me to go to a punk rock show last night and I politely declined adding to the aforementioned lamentable situation that is my life.
I still haven’t digested this year’s entertaining/bizarre World Series and I think time will tell how we see it from a historical perspective when careers are over and certain players are deemed Hall of Fame worthy. The series started with everyone in the baseball world deeming Juan Soto the next Babe Ruth (one being the “Childish Bambino” and the latter the “Great Bambino”) and ending with Donald Dump being booed, tarred and feathered in D.C., a guy taking a home run ball to the chest so he wouldn’t spill the beers he was double-fisting, (which was turned into a Bud Light commercial and 15 minutes of fame) two models flashing their boobs on national television, (which was done for breast cancer awareness and 15 minutes of fame) and finally ending in game 7 with AJ Hinch being criticized for pulling Zack Greinke in the 7th and putting in a smattering of relievers who proceeded to throw dynamite on a bonfire while Garrit Cole sat in the bullpen acting like his dog had just died. I know it’s a cliche, but you seriously can’t make up this kind of stuff. Stephen Strasburg gets a well deserved MVP, the Nats jump around on the field, some kids in Africa will get their Houston Astros gear, and just like that…baseball season is over.
Farewell, old friend.
These are the dog days of summer. The days when you buy chopped fruit from a street vendor, wear breathable shoes, snicker at people wearing cargo shorts, wear a light sweater at night, and perhaps even kiss a summer fling. There are blasts from boomboxes (cell phones) and people lounging and splashing in the river. There are people sitting on porches with a can of beer and with no hope of ever getting anything done that day. The days are getting shorter and the baseball season is slowly coming to an end, as if a lovely friend was planning a vacation for 6 months. When it ends it would have been a deep and complicated relationship full of thrills, contemplation, happiness, anger, and finally…heartbreak.
Recently my “baseball buddy,” Manny and I decided to take in Game 1 of the Pacific Coast League playoffs this past week with The Sacramento River Cats (S.F. Giants) squaring off against the Las Vegas Aviators. (Oakland A’s) I was particularly interested in this game because Daniel Mengden was on the hill and he and his handlebar mustache had spent a significant amount of time as a starter in Oakland this season, doing a pretty solid job before being sent down. There were, of course, a smattering of A’s prospects that I wanted to see in person although most had been called up when the rosters were expanded a few days prior.
Manny and I did our usual “pre-game” routine of a twelve pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon in the parking lot complete with the musical stylings of Slayer and the Circle Jerks. We stumbled into the stadium right around game time and settled into our seats a few rows behind home-plate. This game was announced around 48 hours earlier and was only attended by 3000 and change making the atmosphere close to a funeral. The catatonic-like atmosphere only got worse as the Aviators took a 6-1 lead in the third inning, turning anyone in the place not wearing green and gold into a virtual zombie. This was quite the opposite of an MLB playoff game in every way possible.
In a desperate attempt to liven up this experience, we had decided to walk around the stadium and take in the game from every angle possible every inning or so. This turned out to be fruitful as I had a moment of kismet when a ball was smoked down the left field line, arching foul and entering my outstretched hand on one hop moments before going over the fence. Manny returned from the bathroom and I told him he looked liked 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag moments before tossing him the ball.
“Can I have the ball, dude?”
Of course you can.
It was time to go. The game was in the bag and Manny had his foul ball. It was a beautiful, breezy night and I walked across the Sacramento River before biking home and immediately retiring to bed.
I was standing in the queue at the local health food store with my basket full of over-priced, organic, local, vegan, cage-free crap when suddenly I was struck by a haze of fog known as boredom reminiscing. This phenomenon, where synapses are sparked by everyday mundane activities, usually takes me back to the 80’s and a much more simpler time before parents were “enlightened helicopters” and kids started bringing guns to school to solve their commonplace problems.
While in this haze I’m begging my mother to buy me Cap’n Crunch, if only because of the 2 free baseball cards inside. She obviously isn’t very modern, (alas, this is the 80’s, stick with me here) so she doesn’t know what the hell organic means, and her idea of a “healthy snack” would be a syrupy granola bar with chocolate chips or a fruit cup. The only reason she’s debating this is because she can buy the very same, generic version at a much, much cheaper price by the hideously uninspired name of Crispy Crunch. Well, this was a complication of epic proportions for a 12 year old. There was no chance of getting a fucking Jose Canseco or Mark McGwire card in a box of Crispy Crunch. What to do?
I’m startled out of this mini psychedelic trip by the impatient, too-cool-for-school checker with dreadlocks and a Nirvana t-shirt. She had been calling out to me, and like an idiot I was standing there, in a daze, thinking about the time I wanted to eat a box of sugar- laden crap in order to obtain pieces of cardboard with the likeness of guys who injected steroids in their ass so they could look like Greek gods, break a bunch of records and hit the ball out of the goddamn stratosphere.
Wasn’t it great?
The Oakland A’s, in their never-ending quest to acquire all white guys named Tanner, acquired Tanner Roark from the Red-Legs at the 11th hour of the trading deadline for a high A prospect. If Homer Bailey is akin to ramen noodles, I would say Roark is the 99 cent kimchi ramen bowl. (I love to add my own kimchi to these, but that is a story for another time.) This is simply a small-market team with a Wild Card shot trying to hold together their pitching staff with duct tape and popsicle sticks in order to appease their fans and try to pull off another ragtag Oakland miracle. And I agree with it. I’ve bought into the future and the farm system, I drank the proverbial kool-aid and didn’t want to give up high-end prospects. Let’s all raise a glass for 2021!
More trade deadline crap: I’m not one to criticize the fans of my own team, but if you are going to be the proprietor of any sort of media platform concerning a baseball team, you should at least know a simple thing like…who is the general manager? I read numerous cases of people slandering Billy Beane about the recent acquisitions/lack thereof with David Forst being the actual GM making the big, important board-room decisions. Are baseball fans really smarter than the fans of other sports? Is it really so difficult to take 10 seconds out of your obviously busy life to google something? And if the answer is “no,” should I even care about what you have to say? That being said, it was satisfying and hilarious to see Yankees and Red Sox fans (probably the best example of toxic masculinity) having tantrums over the fact that neither team made a significant move at the deadline. This probably also means neither team has a shot in the playoffs because, well, you know…pitching.
In 2002 I was living in Los Angeles, being young, doing dumb things, and hanging out with pompous art school kids in my spare time. I was, for the most part, puking in their studios and stealing their beer when I wasn’t attending a gallery opening. I once wandered into a walk-in closet stacked with cardboard boxes and immediately walked out thinking I had made a mistake.
“This is someone’s artwork.” a friend told me.
I’m not sure to this day if he was pulling my chain. Such is life in Los Angeles.
October came rolling around and the Angels and Giants were playing for the WS title…2 teams I just hated with a passion. Whom to root for?
It was gay rights icon Harvey Milk who described Orange County best, in response to California State Senator John Briggs describing San Francisco as “the moral garbage dump of homosexuality in this country.”
“Nobody likes garbage ’cause it smells,” Milk told reporters. “Yet eight million tourists visited San Francisco last year. I wonder how many visited Fullerton.”
–The Angels had the Rally Monkey, thundersticks, (basically inflated plastic) douche-bag and mouth-breather John Lackey, the most boring fans in the league, and they played in a white-power wasteland famous for birthing Richard Nixon: Orange County.
–The Giants had territorial rights over the A’s, were kind of dull, and had 2 cantankerous schmucks in their own right (who hated each other) in Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent.
In the end we all know what happens. The Giants blow a 5-0 lead in game 6, Dusty Baker makes some half-baked managerial decisions, Scott Spezio becomes a legend in Anaheim, and the Angels win their first World Series title essentially denying Barry Bonds his one and only shot and leaving him crying in the locker room.
The only saving grace? At least it wasn’t the Yankees.
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.
“I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms and Isadora Duncan… The only Church that truly feeds the soul, day in and day out, is the Church of Baseball.” —Annie Savoy in the film “Bull Durham.”
Those who’ve paid any attention perceive that taste, values, ideas, style and behavior are dispensable criteria of class. Donald Trump is an instructive specimen in this regard. Overall, class structure is one hell of a thing. It defines who we are from the cars we drive, the television shows we watch, the clothes we wear, the neighborhoods we live in, even the food we eat. I thought nothing about these things as a child, hell, who does? You wake from a slumber, go to school, come home, eat some macaroni and cheese, play baseball until the sun goes down, and then repeat…ad infinitum. ( you can throw a few ass whippings in there for good measure; i was a rebellious spirit)
And like every other red-blooded American boy, I idolized baseball players, never questioning the ethics or morals of my heroes. How could they be so “bad?” I knew nothing about drug use, (Darryl Strawberry, Josh Hamilton) D.U.I.’S, ( Miguel Cabrera, Coco Crisp, Adam Kennedy) wife-beating, ( Milton Bradley, Alberto Callaspo, Brett Myers) tax evasion ( Darryl Strawberry, Pete Rose) or even murder ( Julio Machado, Ugueth Urbina) These things were done by OTHER people who weren’t associated with me and my family, and never the twain shall meet. I learned quite quickly through the buying and trading of baseball cards about the true nature of the human condition. (of which my parents weren’t exempt) These little pieces of cardboard had taught me deceit, unfair business practices, price manipulation, collusion, restraint of trade, extortions, pay- offs, bribes, plagiarism, and false hype. Soon thereafter, as I entered my early teens I started to understand privilege, advantage and wealth as the Yankees had started to define it in ways that were bigger than the world of baseball: my life consisted of old, out of style clothes, pot pies for dinner and late night parental arguments over bills.
I would like to thank baseball for teaching me these valuable lessons. The beautiful game is rich with juxtapositions and historical aspects that go beyond stats, OBP’s, WHIPS, and World Series titles. It is a game that teaches you to slow down, as it can be played in the mind as well as on the field. It is a game of anticipation, a game that erupts in a sudden explosion of action, then slows down again, giving us time to savor what we have seen, and to give us time to think about what we are going to see. It shows you that you are not perfect, and that you don’t have to be. It also teaches you to enjoy your lot in life whether you be a HOF er or a .220 hitter. It teaches you that no matter how much you think you know, you should always learn MORE. It teaches you to love and cherish something that was loved and cherished by a father or grandfather, and that you love and cherish in return. I have long since stopped putting these guys on a gold pedestal, and it has enriched my life in ways no home run ball, autograph, or season ticket could ever match.