Results tagged ‘ humor ’

“Bip” the player meets “Bip” the cat.

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.

Be nice to your pizza delivery guy!!!!

For those of you who aren’t A’s fans, catcher Bruce Maxwell was arrested this off-season after a delivery driver told the police a highly intoxicated Maxwell answered the door by pointing a gun to her face. Maxwell was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. That being said, I decided to interview a pizza delivery guy in order to figure out the typical responses when knocking on a strangers door:

The customers are generally cool but you have your fair share of lousy tippers and total assholes. There is always the thought in the back of my mind about the guys, a few years back, who called the delivery guy from an abandoned house and then killed him. Sometimes it takes forever on the phone to figure out what stoners want; when we start listing off the toppings we’ve got, they keep asking if they could get, like, Fritos or sandwiches on the pizza. Plus, there are always a ton of calls on hold, and we can get pretty stressed trying to get their order and move on to the next caller. Sadly, for millions of pizzas, interaction with non-stoned humans is simply not an option. Sometimes the customers further complicate things by making five phone made to the pizzeria to inquire about the status of their pizza. I’m like, dude, just chill, your pizza will be there any sec.'”

It’s my co-workers, not the company, that makes me feel appreciated.  They greet me when I come back from runs, they say thank you often and ask how me how I feel. Generally they treat me like a person and not a robot that delivers pizza. I think they’re fully aware that it’s a choice for me to be there.

 

 

Baseball card time travels.

As I pull this baseball card from the pile it takes me on a long forgotten trip back to the 1990’s and the bottomless pit of purgatory known as Jr. High School. Everyone was growing into themselves, girls were getting boobs, fashion was suddenly important, and guys were suddenly sporting the haircut that concocted the term “business in the front, party in the back.”

The mullet was a popular hairstyle in the early 90’s as it was worn by everyone from rock stars, movie stars, wrestlers and even baseball players. With the 90’s being the cultural dreg that it was, it seemed the perfect time for the white-trash aesthetic to finally be embraced by the mainstream. Celebrities who rocked the hairstyle included John Stamos, David Bowie, Billy Ray Cyrus and George Clooney. My cousin had his mullet for YEARS complete with an army style flat-top. I still give him shit for it to this day.

I remember a friend of mine from Jr. High, Michael,  would constantly run a comb through his dirty blond mullet while wearing his ever-present Guns N Roses t-shirt complete with naked girl on the back. (seems a bit extreme for a Jr. High kid today, seemed normal then before Generation X started having children and treating them like snowflakes.) Michael was sort of known as the dick of the neighborhood and would always try to steal other people’s “valuable” baseball cards. He lived in a ramshackle house, his mom was slutty with a new biker boyfriend every other week, and his baby sister always looked dirty with a bunch of dried food on her face. It was depressing. I soon outgrew baseball cards and Michael.

The 1990 Oakland A’s were no exception to the rule as Storm Davis and Jose Canseco had flowy, rockstar-esque mullets. Back up catcher Ron Hassey and second baseman Glenn Hubbard had their weird, curly, seemingly permed neck-fro’s. I’ve got to believe thet the most famous baseball mullet of all time goes to the great pitcher and ultimately most white-trashy looking player of all time…Randy Johnson.  Today’s players, being forever trendy yet always a step or two behind hip fashion sport the hairstyle in a “post-ironic” way; these including Nick Swisher and Tim Lincecum.

Junior High was a crazy, fucked up, depressing and confusing time for me. I got into my second fight (and third),  added the first girlfriend to my repertoire and discovered heavy metal, porn and keg parties. Thank you Storm Davis for bringing it back. I had almost forgotten.

Ben Sheets got me drunk.

 

ben sheets suds artOn January 26, 2010, Ben Sheets agreed to a one year, $10 million with an additional $2 million in incentives, contract with the Oakland Athletics. “Ok,” I thought, “he was hurt last year and this is his comeback.” I knew Ben was injury prone as he had just undergone Tommy John surgery the year before and sat out the entire 2009 season to rehab. It seemed at the time a high risk/reward signing, but I put it out of my mind because of the fact that I had other things to do. You see, it was my day off and I was supposed to meet a nice young lady for some beers and some games of pool at one of those newly opened, posh “gastropubs”. The date goes fine, we drink some nice brews, play some pool and I nod my head at all the crucial moments. Everything is going great until we step out on the back patio to smoke a joint… and then it hits me. Didn’t I see this guy pitch in the minor leagues? 

I can hear the readers screaming, “this guy is having a great time with this woman and he’s thinking about a fucking baseball player!” Well yes, I was, and even worse…I was thinking about the ex-girlfriend that had accompanied me to a baseball game. This is date suicide, I know, but bear with me–all of the thoughts below were fully compartmentalized within two minutes or so. (and it’s not as if it’s an epic, Homer-like story) That’s only about 3-4 head nods and a couple “mmm hmmm’s.”

It’s 1999. I had been wanting to go to a California League game for quite a while. Stockton, Ca. was the closest city to where I was living so it was the logical choice. The Stockton Ports were an (A) team for the Milwaukee Brewers, and I had a little rooting interest for the “Brew Crew;” I thought they were a scrappy, fun bunch. My girlfriend and I hop on the freeway and drive an half an hour south of Sacramento to the murderous, unemployed shit-heap known as Stockton.

Billy Hebert Field was in a sketchy neighborhood in the middle of a park. It was a bit old and had metal bleachers down the third/first base lines. The ballpark had opened in 1953, yet supposedly the land that was/is the field has been used for baseball since the late 19th century, and as legend says, the exact location where the poem “Casey at the bat” had taken place. We grab our beers and peanuts and sit on the third base line. The crowd is sparse, yet I’m enjoying myself.

billy hebert this one

Minor league games tend to have wacky promotions, yet this one was right out of the Bill Veeck hand book. The PA announcer tells the crowd that so and so from the opposing team would be the game’s “beer batter.” This meant that every time the batter in question struck out beer would be half off for 10 minutes. On the mound for the Ports that day was their newly signed “bonus baby,” Ben Sheets. Sheets proceeded to strike out the “beer batter” 4 times; and since there was barely a crowd, I would slowly walk to the concession stand and get a few beers for half off. The first few times were novelty, and then as the innings went by and the suds kicked in it became a sort of a right of passage and celebration of this young man’s talent. I was “three SHEETS to the wind” by the end of the game.

Times have changed. The Ports moved into a new, modern ballpark in 2005, leaving Billy Hebert unattended. They are now an affiliate of the Oakland A’s. Ben Sheets retired in 2012. He couldn’t shake off the injury bug that had hampered his career. I don’t speak to either woman anymore in this story. We had great times, yet that rolling stone keeps on moving. This isn’t a special story….it’s  just another baseball fan’s testament, and a story that will all too soon fade away.

The ‘Fro takes in a minor league game.

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Get off my mound!

 

I’m zipping at 80 MPH down the I-5 freeway from Sacramento to Stockton on a 2 lane asphalt road littered with tomatoes and dead possum. The smell of cow manure is thick and constant as it tends to be in California’s Central Valley. I am on my way to Banner Island Ballpark, home of the Oakland A’s single A affiliate, The Stockton Ports. I had contacted the Ports a week earlier and their representatives were kind enough to give me a free ticket directly behind home plate complete with media credentials. The mixture of early evening and broad anticipation were beautiful, and the sun was burning into my windshield as I daydreamed about life on a farm while they passed by in bunches like failed dreams and time.
Stockton is a city that has dealt with civic bankruptcy, gang-related crime and drugs; and like many other California cities during tough economic times Banner Island Ballpark is incipient of the city’s attempt at downtown revitalization and a catalyst for civic change. Built in 2005 and seating 5,200 the ballpark is a quaint and intimate gem sitting on the waterfront. I was impressed by the amount of fans waiting patiently for the gates to open an hour before the game, many wearing Athletics gear. The fans were lively and animated, a few old ladies were scoring the game and there was even an older gentleman sporting a handlebar mustache with a plastic megaphone heckling the opposing team. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed minor league baseball and was absolutely enthralled by the passion these fans were showing; I half expected Susan Sarandon to waddle by in a tight dress with a sexy Carolina accent and a copy of Walt Whitman.
The past: Dallas “Perfect Game” Braden is somewhat of a legend in Oakland because of his perfect game on Mother’s Day in 2010, but the Stockton native is an absolute God here. The man with 209 (the Stockton area code) tattooed jacobon his stomach had his number retired by the Ports this year and is a dominate presence around the park. I think it’s a shame that his career was cut short due to a “shredded” rotator cuff as he was a solid pitcher and a gamer who once confronted A-Rod for walking on “his” mound. Today he is a talking head for ESPN and the MLB Network and I enjoy him on that platform as well.
The future: Jacob Nottingham, one of two players acquired in the recent Scott Kazmir deal with Houston looks like an absolute stud at 6’3, 227 and despite his baby face has the look of a future big leaguer. (I have read scouting reports comparing him to Mike Piazza) It’s been said that the 20-year-old needs to work on his catching fundamentals but I saw no obvious weaknesses as he seemed in control of the game and the synchronicity with his pitcher, Matt Stalcup, equaled a one hitter through six innings. Nottingham stepped into the box in the first inning and the P.A. announcer told the crowd that everyone in my section would win a free In N’ Out (a California hamburger chain) double–double burger if he, indeed, hit a double. The next pitch was ripped down the third base line for a stand up double and free dinner for me and everyone else on the way home. Thanks, Jacob. You have a new fan here…and will always be known as “Double Double” from here on out as far as The ‘Fro is concerned.
Final score: Stockton Ports 4 Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 0.

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.

A story about another humid summer night.

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“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

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Chris “Hound” Bassitt is still looking for his first win in an Oakland uniform.

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.
clunkyTop 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

40 years ago this month…Reggie gets his ass kicked.

reggie north swap blowsReggie 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.

The most hated Oakland Athletics (according to my readers)

jj

The “winner!”

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. 

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Geren and his perpetual, smug asshole face.

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.

Honorable mention:

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.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on the Ben Zobrist trade.

Hard to understand what Billy is doing in Oakland. Turning over the entire roster and then trading away a top prospect for what? A couple of decent guys with no real upside down the road? This is a very strange trade that somehow makes sense through the fog known as the 2015 offseason. Zobrist is the WAR poster boy–and this blog doesn’t put much stock in a statistic that NO ONE knows how to compute (yet clueless nerds seem to bring up endlessly) and ultimately makes no sense. WAR doesn’t work because it says Ben Zobrist is about as good as Miguel Cabrera or Robinson Cano. Bill James, the ultimate statistical guru agreed with my assessment recently:

“Well, my math skills are limited and my data-processing skills are essentially nonexistent. The younger guys are way, way beyond me in those areas. I’m fine with that, and I don’t struggle against it, and I hope that I don’t deny them credit for what they can do that I can’t.“But because that is true, I ASSUMED that these were complex, nuanced, sophisticated systems. I never really looked; I just assumed that the details were out of my depth. But sometime in the last year I was doing some research that relied on these WAR systems, so I took a look at them, and … they’re not very impressive. They’re not well thought through; they haven’t made a convincing effort to address many of the inherent difficulties that the undertaking presents. They tend to get so far into the data, throw up their arms and make a wild guess. I don’t know if I’m going to get the time to do better of it, or if it will be left to others, but … we’re not at anything like an end point here. I assumed that these systems were a lot better than they actually are.”

Why was he acquired? Because he can do the one thing that gets Billy Beane hotter than a truck stop hooker–play multiple positions.

Yunel Escobar, who is the epitome of a lazy player with little desire, stoked my own desire in the laziest way possible. A shrug. A “who cares?” My desire to drink hot apple cider and return to bed was an infinitely stronger emotion. I barely knew the guy EXISTED. There was also the incident in Toronto where he wore his eye-black emblazoned with the words ‘TU ERE MARICON.’

jaso

John, you will be missed.

The words can be translated to mean “you are a fag” or a “pussy.”

Strange considering one of the players he was traded for–John Jaso–is sort of a poster boy for gay men as the “cutest baseball player.”

You can’t make this shit up. We here at the ‘Fro certainly don’t condone that sort of behavior, and I’m sure most Athletics fans would agree. Paying money and being at rapt attention for a lackadaisical homophobe is far down my list of enjoyable pursuits, right above getting kicked in the nuts after a bad date.

assessment: starting SS with the other horrible acquisition, Marcus Semien being moved to 2nd base.

In the end, this isn’t a BAD trade. We acquired two starters for an often concussed catcher and two minor leaguers that may never even see the AAA level. I may even learn to appreciate Zobrist’s ability to “pick and grin” or run down flies for the ONE season he will be in Oakland. The fans will probably love him for his “gamer” style of play.  On a more personal level this trade just didn’t do much for me because I have no affection for the players acquired or traded away. C’est la vie. The life of an A’s fan.