Tag Archives: oakland a’s

Baseball Cards With Curious Stories to Tell

“No artist tolerates reality”–Nietzsche

My girlfriend told me that a man had tried to hang himself in the tree out in front of her house with his tie. Apparently, he had decided that his life was to be consummated right then and there in front of her 1940’s white bungalow (perhaps lacking an identity, a lover, money, or maybe even a neuron misfire) until someone called the proper authorities and he was taken away wearing what I’d imagine was a starched shirt and a face full of confusion. 

“Look, the tie is still on the branch,” she said. The culprit was gray with blue vertical stripes and dancing in the breeze as the sunlight glinted off the fabric. (eventually, the tie created a life and mystique of its own, ceasing to be an inanimate symbol of economic good faith and encouraging me to acknowledge it–as I did almost every time I walked by.) 

I pointed out that the branch (which was about 8 feet off the ground) was inadequate for such an undertaking as it would break instantly under the weight of even an average-sized man.  The scenario was like trying to hang a piano from a piece of string – it’s a fool’s errand and doomed to fail from the start.

“How would I know what he was thinking…just another weirdo.” 

We were headed to the Mexican swap meet where I was to find myself as the only gringo who had even bothered to show up that broiling day. The girlfriend was tickled by this. She bought an elote (corn) with chili powder, and I bought a random, mysterious, and seductive box of baseball cards and a Mexican League (Toros de Tijuana) baseball cap from a large, sweaty, ungainly man who clearly didn’t want to be there. He grunted in an undistinguishable language, too remote to be interpreted. I wasn’t sure if we were in accord with the price so I just held up a 20-dollar bill and he nodded in agreement. I took a cursory glance at the cards and then shoved them under my arm. 

Later that night we were at home watching a Charles Bronson movie when I decided to thumb through the dusty, frail cardboard. 

“Will you look at that…a Rickey Henderson rookie card!” I said, startled that dizzy with excitement is no mere phrase.

“Is that good?” 

She didn’t even look up as Bronson blasted another scumbag in the chest with his metaphorical cock, a .475 Magnum. I was elated to discover the all-time greatest thief as the other thief on the tube was getting his life snuffed out by a chain-smoking germophobe.

“Yeah, it’s good I’d say…real good.”


Hey guys…please give Disaffected Musings a look if you get the chance. it’s an interesting blog written by a “Moneyball” pioneer with a focus on baseball, cars, and opinions on other various topics.

More Baseball Stuff That Makes Me Lose My Mind

“I opened my eyes and saw the real world, and I began to laugh and I haven’t stopped since.” — Kierkegaard

Statistical guru Bill James recently laid bare that Tony Phillips has a higher career WAR than Braves poster boy Dale Murphy in a shocking (to me at least) expose. To be fair, James has said that the WAR statistic has its problems (personally, I think OPS is a far superior stat) stating that “the REAL problem with WAR is that it is a Comparison Derivative—thus, highly sensitive to small errors. The problem is that when working with Comparison Derivatives, a 1% error can manifest itself as a 20% error, a 50% error, a 90% error, or a 200% error.” It’s like the old saying: a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. A single error in the statistic can have a huge effect on its overall accuracy. Nevertheless, I found it cool that Phillips was on James’ list of highly underrated players and I agree that he didn’t get the recognition he deserved. To whom it matters: Murphy had a higher career OPS– .815 to .763. and no, I don’t think he deserves to be in the HOF despite seemingly unending arguments to the contrary.


Oakland Pathetics Rookie Mason Miller tossed 7 no-hit innings against the Mariners a few nights ago before being pulled by numbskull manager Mark Kotsay for, and I kid you not, Dick Lovelady, (recently plucked from the Braves shit heap…but he’s CHEAP!) who tossed 5 pitches before giving up a game-tying homer to .113 hitting AJ Pollock–essentially blowing the game and all the positive free-flowing, rolling in the mud, hippie vibes. Talk about a buzzkill! And so it goes with the A’s bullpen aka “The Gas Can Squad” as Oakland fandom continues with this maudlin (thanks to carpetbagger John Fisher) baseball season. I guess the saying still holds true: You get what you pay for.


My insomnia and existential terror returned the other night (go figure) so I decided to watch some NPB and lo and behold, there was the recently disgraced Trevor Bauer on the hill pitching his first game in just over 22 months! The social media creep scattered seven hits in seven innings, allowed one run, struck out nine, and threw 98 pitches in the Yokohama Baystars‘ 4-1 victory against the Hiroshima Carp. I guess it’s safe to say that I didn’t get much sleep and was kicking myself as I wearily watched the post-game Bauer interview before a board of corporate sponsors and clutching a stuffed animal in the Japanese kawaii tradition. I’ve got to say, Bauer definitely had the “Bear” necessities to get the job done. (and there it is…I’ve been reduced to dad jokes. I’m not sure if this blog is uncharacteristically and abstractly cool or increasingly uncool and mentally ill) Sweet dreams everyone!

Mutts Sweep the Pathetics

I spent most of my weekend in a hoppy, sudsy, comatose state on the couch watching the Mutts of Queens take out their brooms and sweep away the proverbial trash. The comedy/capitulation of the situation hit an apex when a recent call-up, “Hulk” Hogan Harris (who had a sparkling 6.23 ERA in the minors) was inserted into the game and gave up 5 walks, 6 earned runs and was promptly put back on the bus to the desert with a benign pat on the ass and a denigrating 162.00 ERA. To make matters worse, Hogan Harris was heard grumbling under his breath, “I guess this means I’m not getting my signing bonus!” 

A friend called me to discuss the matter and the conversation turned to Terry Steinbach.

“Greatest A’s catcher of all time,” he said, noting that he was a three-time All-Star and won the 1988 All-Star Game MVP Award.

“Well, probably the Oakland era,” I interjected. We often contradict each other–mostly politically–but the details aren’t of importance, and I’ve forgotten most of the arguments. I’m just convinced my ideas are more fundamentally beneficial to the general public and to the historical truths of the game. Our conversations are often like a friendly game of chess; we move pieces around, discussing and debating our opinions, but at the end of the day, we still remain friends, no matter the outcome. (and the correct answer would be Mickey Cochrane)

Strangely, I had watched an A’s/Red Sox game from 1992 a few days prior and they were interviewing Steinbach concerning pitcher Dave Stewart’s slow start and he mentioned something about not having control of his forkball (who was taught the pitch by none other than Sandy Koufax) in that delightful, thick Minnesota drawl.  He explained that the forkball is a difficult pitch to control and that Dave was struggling to keep it in the strike zone. This was likely the cause of his slow start.

Back to the present….There was a moment where the ball broke a gnat’s ass off the plate, and the inept umpire (according to StatCast) called it a ball, infuriating the Coliseum crowd who chanted in unison “Bullshit!” Bullshit! Bullshit!” The crowd’s reaction was similar to an erupting volcano, with rage and frustration spewing out in various directions–mostly towards the perpetually unoccupied owner’s box in a moment of glorious ennui fraternization. Suddenly, a brave soul from the stands yelled out, “Hey ump, you suuuck!” and the crowd roared with laughter. They were, alas, still conscious of their own reality (whether real or imagined) and breathing oxygen on this beautiful, sunny day under a cornflower-blue sky, and that’s all that really mattered.

The Oakland Pathetics are now a mind-bending 3-13.

Let’s Face It, the Oakland A’s Are a Grift

“Let them eat cake”–Marie Antoinette

How it looks: the Oakland A’s are a pathetic franchise that plays in an archaic, crumbling, feces-strewn, possum-infested stadium, only draw about 3,000 fans per home game, and have a squad of no-talents and nobodies that expect to lose 100 games. 

The reality: According to Forbes, the A’s were the fifth most profitable franchise in MLB last year raking in 62.2 million dollars, which I’m assuming was garnered through revenue share (aka baseball welfare, which ironically was put in place to supplement teams, not morally bankrupt owners) and insane parking fees. This would make them more successful than the World Series-winning Houston Astros since the bottom line is a lion’s share of profit under the smoke and specter of poverty–only the naive fans are concerned about nonsensical things such as wins, losses, and (chuckle) winning a “worthless piece of metal.”

How it’s going: I will, like last season, watch this dung pile for about a month or two –with a measured detachment–until the losses pile up and I inevitably lose interest and decide that other summer activities are more pragmatic and worthwhile. (The Opening Day starter, Kyle What’s-His-Name, has THREE career wins, let that roll around in your noggin for a minute) God forbid I ask to be actually entertained by a ball club because that’s just not going to happen here. I would be wasting my time by essentially rooting for laundry as my emotional ties, affection, and nostalgia slowly die in a terminal collapse of the baseball spirit under this Machiavellian scheme.

Besides, if I didn’t make it perfectly clear above…this team doesn’t need my hard-earned dough. In theory, you are supposed to go to a sanguine ballgame to lose yourself and forget about your daily dramas and labors, but the fantasy isn’t even safe there as the ineptitude on the field will be a constant and harsh reminder that your time and money are being extracted from what the organization sees as a self-deprecating simpleton without dignity. Unrelenting exploitation. Then you must proceed to eat that pile of shit over and over with a bovine, blind allegiance–licking your lips fervently and saying, “Yessir, more please.”

Owner John Fisher and his chief enabler, team president Dave Kaval, deserve shame and scorn for as long as they infect the sport. Burn in hell Fisher, you deplorable, awful, unsightly trust-fund baby.

I Fought for Sleep and Law Won

“That man is rich whose pleasures are the cheapest.” –Henry David Thoreau

I’ve been dealing with a minor case of insomnia and had finally fallen asleep (I’ve written about this affliction on this degenerate blog before) when I was awakened by a couple of alley cats knocking over some plants on my porch. I knew I was screwed. There was no chance of embracing slumber again, so I layed in my bed for a while staring at nothing and dancing in synapse limbo before deciding to watch a random baseball game–in this case a contest between Oakland and Cleveland in 1991.

Five hours earlier I was half-assed watching the Schwarzenegger flick Commando, falling asleep just as our protagonist was chopping off the limbs of South American mercenaries with garden tools, and now Vance Law was stepping into the box on an early 90’s casual and freewheeling July evening in a city known for polluted river fires, rock n’ roll baseball riots, and other naughty examples of human depravity. 

The announcers made a joke about the spectacled player looking like an Australian golfer, and how he had played in Japan a year earlier. Unable to find a job due to lack of power or anything else valuable to a ML squad, (scratch that–he could play multiple positions) Law went to Japan to play for the Chunichi Dragons, hitting well and being rewarded with a minor league contract. In a moment of desperation, the A’s recalled Law from Tacoma when regular third baseman Carney Lansford (a favorite) went on the IL–and he proceeded to play terribly hitting .209 in 134 AB’s before deciding to hang ‘em up. 

The successful Japanese season was fugazi so to speak. 

What does all this add up to? Well, two happy-as-hell gatos tearing up the neighborhood like a couple of coke-addled Hells Angels, and me witnessing the highlight of Vance Law’s Oakland A’s career–an RBI single down the right field line. So,….not much.

 (I feel the need to mention that Law made a mind-boggling and bonehead (genius?) play when the very next batter grounded to first and instead of trying to break up the double play at second–per usual–he pirouetted and returned to first, interfering with the relay throw. An attempted 3-4-3 penciled-in instead as a 3-4. Alas, there was some squawking and stomping from the Cleveland manager, but no interference was called. Law was released 3 months later.)

Small Portraits of Everyday Things

We passed through the iron gates for what seemed like the thousandth time. I hadn’t seen Cheech for over 2 years, and we agreed to meet at our lucky cemetery (we’re obviously individuals with an aversion to group activities) on a soggy, overcast day for some beers and conversation. I walked the 15 blocks there for some fresh air and to reminisce, and lo-and-behold my hometown of Sacramento was still trashy and rough around the edges. A homeless-enclave-hellscape with a Cheesecake Factory and a state capitol. 

“Man, we haven’t been here since you were dating Alice,” Cheech said as he took a long, sudsy swig from his expensive craft beer while leaning against the ornate headstone of some guy who had died of tuberculosis in the late 1800s. Oh, the brevity of existence.

It was true, and I remembered Alice very well even though she was galaxies away from my everyday thought process. She was Nordic pretty like the blonde in Abba: same nose, toothy smile, and almond-shaped bedroom eyes. On one particularly boring Sunday, she asked me if she could read my horoscope. Out of all the things to structure personal identity around, the random date you were born on seems the most boring, I said flippantly. We had good times together, but It’s funny how you only seem to remember moments that have the earmarks of being insignificant in the long run.

We stumbled out of the land of the dead before I mentioned that there was a baseball card shop a few blocks away where I impulsively spent 25 dollars on a Jose Canseco rookie complete with a pre-pubescent mustache encased in hard plastic. It’s really, really minty, I said over and over. And it was. It looked as if it had never been touched by greasy human meathooks–a pristine piece of Americana.

More cardboard treasures were purchased, and we proceeded to Cheech’s house where we decided on a lark to eat some “magic mushrooms.” Maybe it was the booze talking, or maybe it was because we were becoming less young and more old, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. I’ve been told that psilocybin cures emotional conditions and anxiety–and I refuse to argue with that analysis as we sat there for hours talking about hair metal videos (Stryper sucks and that is nonsubjective) and just laughing hysterically at nothing in particular.

A Few ‘Graph Stories

I’ve got some time to kill on this chilly Northern California morning, so why not dig into the ol’ cigar box and tell some ‘graph stories? As you may know, my brain is a repository for worthless baseball stats, history, and mythos. Also, please keep in mind that these cards have a very strong and luscious scent of cigar stank that has slowly permeated the cardboard and will now follow them everywhere in perpetuity.

Most people envision Astrogate and the 2017 trash can-banging WS “Champions” when they think of AJ Hinch. I, on the other hand, will always remember him as being the starting catcher for the 2000 Sacramento RiverCats. This was an amazing time in the Capitol City as we hadn’t had a professional team since the Rangers-affiliated Solons (AAA) went the way of the dodo in 1976. The unveiling was a dream come true in every facet because our cultureless little burg had baseball again and they were an Oakland affiliate! Heaven. I showed up on a soggy and gray opening day (the stadium hadn’t even finished being built) and watched the starting pitcher warm up in the bullpen with his battery-mate Hinch as I stood there, drenched and confused about my emotions. I should be having the time of my life, I thought, but I’m just cold, and even worse…wet. I’ve been to many, many games since then and am still an avid fan of the team even though they switched affiliations to the hated cross-bay Giants. There are just way too many debaucherous 2 dollar beer nights, and sneaking into VIP boxes to speak of. Precious moments. 


Canseco was close to divinity in my neighborhood as a kid, and his cards were hoarded like Scrooge McDuck hoarded gold. (The A’s were a powerhouse then, and if you were alive the last time they won a WS–it’s time for a prostate exam) My grandfather took me to a card show st the time, and we met the superstar and had him sign a ball for 20 bucks or whatever the price was. Now I just think of him as a guy who blew his finger off while cleaning a gun, and maybe even the hombre who saved baseball from eating itself. (Brady Anderson anyone?) A tarnished man, but relatable and simply human–albeit, a human whose reach far exceeded his tenuous and fingerless grasp.

In his book, Canseco exposed the hypocrisy of MLB–and maybe even the hypocrisy of capitalist and empirical grifting entities as admired cultural signifiers in a sort of off-hand, metaphorical way–consequently spitting in the face of naive fans who romanticize “fair play” instead of seeing the Selig Era as a money-making, numbers institution at ALL COSTS. Canseco simply wanted to say, everything you know is a lie. George Carlin summed up my feelings astutely on the matter when he said, “Bullshit is the glue that binds us together as a country.” The only problem is that some people actually like the bullshit and will oppress and belittle anyone who even remotely tries to debase their fantasy.


Alyssa Milano of Who’s The Boss fame has banged many, many baseball players…and at the height of his career, Barry Zito was one of them. I sent this card to him when his baseball life was all but over and he was chucking horsehide for the A’s AAA affiliate in Nashville. At this stage in his journey, he was playing for the love of the sport and was cynical and dismissive about the money-making machine trappings of fame, sports cars, and chopping lines in swanky Hollywood discotheque bathrooms with supermodels.

Zito had found religion and started creating his own music, essentially taking it back to humble beginnings. That’s something I can really stand by. I am not a religious man by nature, but the worship of money and status can’t be all good and it was refreshing to hear that from someone who had experienced the fast lifestyle and then proceeded to rise above it. His last Coliseum outing was against Tim Hudson and the Giants and everyone in the joint knew that this was their hardball swan song. The mound masters still had remnants of youthful vigor, but now with an essential veteran powder keg of wisdom and tricks. Alas, two-thirds of “The Big 3” didn’t have their “stuff” and got shelled that day, but it was a wonderful time and both left the field to a standing ovation. Pure nostalgia dopamine.

Oakland, hola de nuevo

I hadn’t been to Oakland in almost a decade due to living in Los Angeles for what seemed like a lifetime. This visit reminded me that I once knew a girl who lived here with short, blonde, finger-wave style hair done with a sort of Mae West flair… a precious time of pre-internet and seemingly pre-insanity seen through the lens of a murky jar.

This girl lived above an Ethiopian restaurant on Telegraph Ave. and the smell of the food permeated the hallways. The memory must have happened in 1999 because I remember being kind of tipsy in her room while she was at work, and the A’s were playing on a broken, tiny black and white TV she must have found in an alley. (This was common for the young and destitute in the 80’s and 90’s) There was a babyfaced phenom rookie pitching named Tim Hudson, and I watched him toss a colorless complete-game gem before I dilly-dallied the 15 blocks or so in a rainstorm that was vertical and polite to the record store where she worked. Floating and ignoring beggars with dead eyes and an empty, automatism hustle, while mingling with the outlandish and counter-cultural. The break-up happened soon thereafter and was concluded quickly and quietly with a mutual shrug.

We remained friends after breaking up, but I haven’t seen “Mae West” in about 15 years after inevitably drifting apart. We both grew older and created new myths, and reflecting and jotting these moments down on paper is a state of autobiographical surrender to the void. Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’… Thanks, Steve Miller Band…I’ve always liked that song.

I now have horizontal creases on my forehead that I noticed beginning to develop years ago but only recently started to recognize as the onset of my inevitable material decline–as such, the sensibility of myopic, youthful indifference has been liberated and humbled. We spend our time in a dream, don’t we?

Tigers, Trees, and Oiled Bleacher Creatures

“To me, the golden era of baseball is whenever you were 12 years old.” –John Thorn

Lazy Sunday. There were men outside my house audibly cutting a tree into pot belly stove-sized pieces and annoying me in the process. The massive tree had fallen in the night, destroying 3 cars, and almost killing a neighbor who was standing nearby, which must have been quite tempting to the tree. She ended up going to the hospital with only minor head wounds and escaping relatively unscathed. What better way was there to toast the cruel, cold universe and its magnificent indifference for a fleshy speck in the cosmos than by cracking open some cheap, tasteless beer, scarfing down some pretzels, and watching a ball game?

Since the latest incarnation of the Oakland Athletics has stumbled through the throes of helplessness and confusion, and could possibly be the worst in team history. (challenging the 1979 team–who went 54-108–a distressing cross to bear) I decided to take a pass on that dumpster fire and sashay down memory lane, instead choosing to embrace a time when a young boy’s love for the game was genuinely all-encompassing and untarnished. The talisman from the past with horrible picture quality and incipiently watched in a room with cheap wood-grain paneling? A’s vs Tigers, May 3rd, 1987. 

This was an afternoon game where every fly ball was an adventure with fielders losing their regular big-league swagger and desperately shielding their eyes while staring into the blistering light-blue void…completely helpless. The A’s end up scoring twice–once on a manufactured run that started with a Ron Cey single (“Stan Javier pinch runs for Cey, and The Penguin waddles off the field.”) and the second on a Canseco bomb to left-center that scattered a sea of shirtless, oiled, and clearly intoxicated sunbathers who fell over themselves while inadvertently knocking over their buzzing radios and wax cups of beer. 


Well, yours truly has finally been published…actual ink on paper. Albeit, it’s just one short story in an anthology of 100’s, but I’m still pretty excited to have a tangible piece of evidence documenting my madness, and even more elated that I didn’t have to deal with agents or manuscripts–no song and dance–in order for this to be actualized.

Backyards to Ballparks has a simple concept behind it, asking authors, “What is your favorite memory connected to baseball?” The stories are all different, but the heart and soul of the book are the same. What these “distilled snippets” all have in common is that tribute as to why baseball remains the American pastime–how it connects friends, families, and communities. These memories, often more human interest than play-of-game in nature, all have baseball as a setting, but speak to how The Great Game provides joy and anguish, nourishes family traditions, creates friendships, and can profoundly affect the ambrosia of the mind.  

Huston Street Is a Street

She just bought some bitchin’ clothes/Tosses her head/And flips her hair/She got a whole bunch of nothing in there–Valley Girl, Frank Zappa

I used to live on Huston Street. I’m not shuckin’ and jivin’ you here–look it up, it’s an actual street.  It’s a quiet and unassuming stretch in North Hollywood right off the 101 freeway, and it’s pronounced hyoo-ston just like the former ballplayer. I always had a hunch that it was named after Walter Huston, who had won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1948 for his role in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Huston was considered one of the top character actors of his era–but I couldn’t state as a fact that the street was actually named after him, it’s just a half-baked theory. 


The temperature is hotter and the architecture is sun-bleached and dull on the north side of the Hollywood Hills, which is generally seen as a cultural wasteland by the denizens of Los Angeles proper, and depicted as dusty, marginalized, lacking stimulus, and utterly hopeless in movies and pop culture. Lame. I mean, shit, the Bad News Bears were from the San Fernando Valley, and wasn’t coach Buttermaker considered an alcoholic has-been? Wasn’t the film narrative rowdy, working-class, profane, and consciously avoiding the cheap theatrics of a triumphant finale? The perfect metaphor for a place that breeds and exports scumbags with reptilian instincts for self-preservation. America in delirium.

Despite the negative reputation and mockery from friends,  I loved that street. I lived two blocks away from a gorgeous park filled with “brown-bagging” cholos with time aplenty, and trash-talking basketball players. There was also a tiki bar a block away that had a time-worn, paint-battered sign saying, liquor up front and poker in the rear that apparently had never been thought to be re-touched. Proud of its crumbling state was a tiny fish and chips stand next door for conveniently sopping up the booze and chatting with girls when the bar was too loud and bursting at the seams with out-of-work actors from bum-fuck-nowhere letting off some steam. Another favorite of mine was the dark and smelly comedy club on Vineland Ave, and sometimes the patrons standing out front, and even the comedians themselves would give you cigarettes or free drink tickets as you sauntered by, searching for the next sliver of excitement in the humid jungle.

Although I haven’t been back in many years, the Valley will always make me think of lime and salt Tecate, the most beautiful, iridescent, smog-choked sunsets, getting drunk on Boone’s Farm in skate parks, abandoned strip malls, double-D bottle blondes in their 60’s, book stores with cats, screaming schizophrenic bums in a Ralph’s parking lot, and Mexican street parties with illegal fireworks and cumbia pouring from the speakers when the LA Lakers won the title (Kobe’s last)  And, of course, Huston Street.