Results tagged ‘ oakland a’s ’

Bill McNulty and the Summer of Flying ‘Taters

“Baseball is an orderly universe, and that appeals to people who see disorder in the universe.” –Bill James

Got his only knock off Nolan Ryan.

Breezy night. Moths fluttered and slammed against a lonely streetlight in the massive, darkened parking lot next to an antiquated football stadium. Earlier in the evening I had attended a photo exhibition/art show which was a prelude to the sanctity of the parking lot to smoke a joint with my friend, Bret. We had been invited by an ex-girlfriend with emotional wreckage and psychological traumas  from places I would never go; or care to. Life is always a shifting cast it seems, and here she was again, always cold and ever-present with a sexually ambiguous haircut. We gobbled up the free food and drinks eagerly. It all had the veneer of a high school graduation with proud parents hovering, shouting, drinking cheap wine and making congratulatory post- show dinner plans. These are the nights that crawl by at a snail’s pace. This being a community college, far from academia, there was the obvious “mystic chatter,” theatrical hand motions, and desperate attempts at narrative. Taking a break from this thing was imperative.

***

“Thanks for dragging me out of there. I felt like I couldn’t breathe.”
“No problem and no shit.”
“I suppose no man is impervious to the charms of a beautiful woman, despite their…fallbacks.”
“No judgement here, my friend,” said Bret as he spit out of a tiny bit of wayward reefer.
“This is Hughes Stadium, right? Didn’t the Sacramento Solons play here?”
“Yeah, 1974. They converted it into a baseball stadium and it was sort of a joke. I used to come here a lot with my dad…yeah, I’m old you sonnuvabitch.”
“You’re practically an antique,” I said jokingly. “Your only goal in life should be to outlive the national mortality rate.”
“Some guy hit a bunch of homers that year, over 50 I believe.”

***

When I’m stoned I tend to get bleary eyed, staring at everything but nothing, and here I was entering the wormhole and researching this mystic “50 homer guy.” Turns out his name was Bill McNulty and in 1974 he had an impressive 55 ‘taters, although most of them were “cheapies” because of the converted football stadium and the 233 foot left field line: perfect for a right-handed pull hitter. This wasn’t a “band box,” it was by my estimation a toddler’s crib. McNulty was also born in Sacramento, as I was, and writer Joan Didion before us. Interestingly enough, there was a also a stint in Hollywood as he had a bit part in a movie, 1985’s No Big Deal, starring Kevin Dillon, (Matt’s little brother) as typical of his brother in a “tough-guy with a heart of gold who got a bad rap” roll, playing a troublesome teen getting out of juvie and dealing with an alcoholic mother while trying desperately to get his shit together.

****

Mr. McNulty had exactly ONE major league hit: It was for the Oakland Athletics and it was off of some guy named Nolan Ryan, a soft single in which none other than Reggie Jackson was thrown out at the plate. And just like that, another ball-player is ripped from the “blanket of obscurity” and breezes into the catacombs of my mind as legend. There are so many beautiful things surrounding us if only we would take the time to look around every once in awhile.

There ain’t no cure for the quarantine blues

Wash them thangs!!!

Spiritually and morally, everything in life is a compromise. These are the kind of revelations that clank around your grey matter when you are experiencing day 15 of quarantine. I know what you’re thinking: tell that to the people hoarding everything. I haven’t showered in 2 days and my hair can only be described as “putting your fingers in an electric socket.” You can only read books, watch movies or scroll through social media (where the practitioners of uppity, hollow slogans are having a field day) for so long before tediousness stalks you like a hungry coyote. These days are a like a horror movie for a hypochondriac. The stores are out of bread, rice and toilet paper. We must distrust our natural inclinations to go out to eat or drink and socialize. I go for evening strolls and the streets remind me of Vincent Price in Last Man on Earth. And even though, by my estimation, we are all experiencing existential distress on some level or another, I thought I’d share a bit of the media that I’ve been digesting. For some reason or another.

Music: Duran Duran “Rio”– this album is silly, poignant, sexy and stupid. I haven’t listened to much music but this seems just about perfect because of its ability to see life the only way someone who has eaten the red pill can. And palm trees. Lots of palm trees.

TV: The Muppet Show– The jokes are corny and it feels like a psychedelic trip, but damned if you don’t forget that a pandemic is happening as you’re watching 70’s has-beens interact and sing with crazy animals, monsters and umm…Gonzo. Jim Henson was a genius.

Movies: Bad News Bears– Billy Bob Thornton plays the alcoholic, washed-up, ex-baseball player coach of a bunch of misfit kids on a little league team. A decent, funny remake of the 70’s classic  starring Walter Matthau. Disappointingly, BBT never did ask for some french fried potaters mmm-hmmm. (Slingblade will forever be his best role) Highlight of the movie is when coach passes out on the mound while pitching BP.

Green Room– A touring punk rock band gets talked into playing a gig at a nazi skinhead shithole club in the middle of nowhere. Highlight of the movie is when they cover the Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” throwing the crowd into a hissy-fit. One of the band members stumbles in on a dead skinhead girl and all hell breaks loose in a bloody mess of punks, skins and random weaponry. Patrick Stewart stars as the leader of the fascists in a strange roll that really works for him at this junction in his career– strange that Captain Picard doesn’t anymore.

***

I was sad to hear about Kenny Rogers floating to the Great Beyond a few days ago. My mother loved “The Gambler” and would proudly wear his tour t-shirt when I was a child. His death was sort of a revelation as I had forgotten about the baseball player Kenny Rogers. My friends and I would always snicker whenever we came across his card in a wax pack. Rogers had a solid season with the Athletics in 1998 going 16-8 and pitching a workhorse-like 232 innings before being shipped to the Mets the next season for Terrence Long. Long, of course, turned out to be a bust while The Gambler (the baseball player) went on to play 9 more seasons before retiring at age 42. Rogers most famous moment on a baseball field came in 1994 when he pitched the 14th perfect game in ML history against the Angels. Kenny Rogers most famous moment came when he did the duet “Islands In the Stream” with Dolly Parton. R.I.P. Kenny. (the singer)

My Corona

“My, my, my, my Corona.” –sang in the vocal stylings of the Knack’s “My Sharona.”

These are fantastical times. This Corona virus has run the full gamut and has completely taken over my life. I’ve been washing my hands upwards of 30 times a day, and like everything else that becomes an obsession in my life, it is imperative that I know every single detail about the origins and life of this villain. Listening to NPR and reading the NY Times has been vital in comprehensive avoidance and genuine insight to this fiend. This is a time of high anxiety.

All of the major sports have been cancelled and college and high school students have been sent home. I went to the library today and it was all but deserted, the only homeless person within eye-shot was wearing a mask. I went to the grocery store to stock up on food as to not leave the house for at least a few days. We are all pariahs, avoiding each other at all costs and giving anyone a side glance if they so much as come within 3 feet of you.

Whatever you do…don’t. touch. your. face. Donald Trump, notoriously obsessed with germs refuses to shake anyone’s hand, as does anyone in this time of trial. I listened to Trump’s presidential briefing (for the first time in his term) and his bravado and positivity seemed like more posturing even though he called for a national emergency in what can be seen as a hushed tone. After a carousel of “geniuses” were paraded on the mic (each one talking an average of 45 seconds, and included a representative from CVS) VP Mike Pence didn’t hesitate to put Trump on a pedestal in an embarrassing display of window dressing obviously written by someone who understands the President’s psyche. There were many hollow slogans of strength, patriotism and resilience in a fairly standardized ending.

I feel better already. (eyeroll) Let us not forget that Trump once downsized this virus comparing it to the flu and even went so far as to call it a “democratic hoax.” It seems to me that we as the people are going to have to fight this together by learning as much as we can about this virus with our elected officials having very little credibility or competence. Good luck to the readers of this blog and to us all, and as Tom Hanks famously said, “There is no crying in baseball.”

Spring Training is here! A’s to win the A.L. West in 2020.

I didn’t even shell out the six bucks for a copy of Baseball Prospectus.

It’s not important that I bring to task a Spring Training update; personally I find them to be tedious, but I suppose I must write something considering that this humble dissemination has over 2,500 followers and people actually read the thing for crissakes.

After last years embarrassing one game playoff loss to the Devil Rays, the following remarks swirled in my mind: pointless, not again, now what?, same old shit…who in the hell is Yandy Diaz? The ever graceful and future ace Sean Manaea blamed himself for the loss although it was a team effort as the offense was anemic and made to look bush-league. Watching the game was every bit the “Babylonian” experience.  This squad, however, isn’t a “soft reboot” as the youngsters have aged a year and have playoff experience with the following players expected to have a breakout year: Matt Olson, Sean Manaea, Mark Canha and Ramon Laureano. Little was added or subtracted this off-season because of the aforementioned. The template for most prospective playoff teams is a daily set lineup, (depending on L/R matchups, of course) and this team doesn’t have many question marks. Bob Melvin should only have to  do a bit of airbrushing here and there.

No Spring Training review is complete without a contrarian view and the second base/bullpen situation must be addressed here. Second base: Franklin Barreto has proven to be impotent, still can’t lay off the slider, and has spent more time in Nashville than Johnny Cash. He has two things going for him: he is young and the A’s front office refuses to get fleeced in the Josh Donaldson trade. Sheldon Neuse should get a look at the position as well because of the big season he had in the desert for Las Vegas. Bullpen: This was definitely a weakest spot as the ‘pen blew more than 25 saves last year with most of the guys being question marks except for Petit and Hendricks. I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of non-roster guys made the team. Melvin will be working with patchwork and will be criticized many times this year for how he handled it whether it be his fault or not.

I see no reason why this team can’t pull together, win a roll of the dice in the playoffs and haul the “piece of metal” as Ron Manfred so elegantly called the WS trophy. I think the Nats of 2019 proved that miracles can still happen when you have strong pitching and a lineup that works together without one self-absorbed prick mucking up the works.

Josh Reddick is a douchebag

Fuck off forever.

The Astros pathetic and chicken shit apologies for cheating yesterday were more awkward than teenagers trying to have sex in the backseat of a car after too much drinking at the prom. It was inevitable but ultimately there seemed to be little earnestness and the “apologies” seemed to be the hubris of the entire organization.

But at least it was something…anything.

Josh Reddick, however, in one of the most sanctimonious interviews in baseball history, felt that it was “unnecessary to apologize.” What a douche-bag move and the worst decision of your career. Cody Bellinger told the media on Thursday that the Astros “stole the ring” and that “Altuve stole the MVP from Judge.” You think the players aren’t pissed about this? Do you think it’s going away and people will forget about it? Your legacies are tainted forever. The narrative here is that you’re a self-indulgent prick who doesn’t give a shit about the fans or even your peers–so why should we give a shit about you?

Reddick was a popular and likable player in Oakland at one time, (and this blog) deemed “Spiderman” because of his defensive theatrics, he then became an overpayed afterthought in Houston and now he’s become a completely worthless (still overpayed) ass hat. Take away the ridiculous contractual obligations and it’s debatable that he should even be in the league. The guy couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat.

I don’t know who will lead the league in home runs or RBI but I have a sneaking suspicion that this guy may lead the league in hit by pitches. Here’s to this guy picking himself up off the dirt while grimacing on his way to first base. Many, many times. The guy should have a panic attack every time he steps in the box. You dug your own grave, dude. Now it’s time to jump in.

Super Bowl shit show (literally)

“Shakira’s ass is amazing.”

I woke up late Sunday morning to gallop on down to the local coffee shop when I found a rolled-up cocaine-laden ten dollar bill on the ground. My lucky day, I thought. The neck bearded hipster behind the counter was talking to what I previously thought to be a homeless person about “simulated reality” before the conversation segued into Brad Pitt’s 1999 vehicle Fight Club.  I love this violent and political story-(although I find the characters to be juvenile, simplistic and self-serving)-of disenfranchised middle-class masculinity but this wasn’t the time or moment for a conference and debate.

“I highly recommend the movie in addition to the novel. It’s worth the time and it helps put the book into perspective,” said the espresso expert, and moments before I was about to disconnect his head from his flannel wearing body he takes my order of a medium black coffee with a splash of half and half. It was about 1 o’ clock so I headed over to my “baseball buddy” Manny’s house to watch Super Bowl LIV. We decided to play a game of Madden 2019 to kill time and he proceeded to “shart” on himself moments before halftime. Gross. After showering he eventually beat me 27-25. (Did you expect this blog entry to reek of any sort of profundity? The joke’s on you.)

The game itself was a pretty well played, entertaining enterprise and this may be America’s first look at a future super star in Patrick Mahomes. There was laughter at the mostly contrived commercials, debate on the attractiveness and booty mass of J-Lo and Shakira, beer drankin’ and pizza eatin’. Need I say more? The Chiefs eventually pull it out in the 4th quarter in a exciting affair, 31-20. Manny fell asleep and I walked home in a semi-drunken state pondering the game and thinking about the upcoming baseball season with a sort of mild euphoria.

Spring Training starts February 12th.

 

Mike Piazza sounds off on all the young whipper snappers

Prefers the heavy metal over the hippity hop.

The following was taken from Mike Piazza’s autobiography, “Long Shot.”

…I wouldn’t have felt (my age) at all if the music in the clubhouse weren’t hurting my ears the way it did. When it comes to music I feel like I’m as open-minded as anybody out there, but (the A’s) had a young roster and, well, man. I like rap just fine–hell, I was wearing gold chains back when Olivia Newton-John was getting physical–if it’s classic rap, or even the new stuff when there’s a strong rhythm to it. As a thrash-metal guy from way back, I feel like I can handle some rough language and graphic lyrics; but some of the more contemporary rap is so blatantly hard-core that even an old Slayer and Anthrax man like me has a tough time dealing with it. I guess it’s a matter of age and tradition both. You have to understand, I came up with the Dodgers when the stadium music consisted exclusively of Nancy Bea Hefley at the organ. When that was cutback to modernize the atmosphere–to make the ballpark sound like every other ballpark–they turned to entrance music, with each player picking a theme song. With the Mets, I recall Tony Tarasco coming to the plate to an X–rated, in your face rap number that had the whole stadium sounding like a bad-ass clubhouse.

Can’t say I cared for that.

Houston, we have a problem! (Did Mike Fiers save baseball?)

He’s on Fiers!

“You better get your head and your ass together or I will take a giant shit on you.” –Full Metal Jacket (1987) or Rob Manfred to the Astros (2020)

The scandal involving the Houston Astros has been disputed and pondered more than all the John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories combined and I’m just about to put it to bed with a lullaby and an Ambien. The waltz of the heart and mind just wont let me contemplate ostentatious behavior for too long before the disappointment of the inevitable keeps me looking elsewhere for a more positive spin on things. Baseball, with its cult of the masculine hero-worship all but cold and lifeless should think about robot players…never mind the umpires. We will cease to worry about self-centered, money hungry, skin-sack douche-bags–at least until the robots rise up and destroy humanity a la The Terminator.

Where’s Kyle Reese when you need him?

Alas, no one really cares about baseball too much until football season is over and it looks like (at this point in time) former baseballer and pitcher Pat Mahomes’ son is going to showcase his unique skills in the Super Bowl. This is the time of year to huddle inside, watch some gridiron, avoid the cold, crush a few man-sodas and eat pounds of meat off the party tray after expertly picking around the gherkins and radishes. A friend of mine laughs at the new Budweiser “hard seltzer” commercial and compares it to Zima. He has no idea that these things are all the rage with college kids. Ok, Boomer.

That’s all I got for now…I’m off like a dirty shirt!

One hell of a New Year’s!

Had one hell of an ending to 1985, which may or may not be remembered.

Mike Norris awoke on New Year’s Day 1986, in bed with a 300-pound woman he did not immediately recognize. He staggered to the Oakland dive where he had spent New Year’s Eve. The bartender was the only person there. The wall behind the bar was mirrored. Norris saw his reflection. It horrified him. Usually a proud dresser, he was wearing the previous night’s clothes. They hung on his thinning frame as sad as sails on a windless day. “Major league ballplayer, my fucking ass,” he snarled at his reflection. Norris was another New Year’s casualty.

People fall into two camps when it comes to New Year’s Eve: they either love the celebration and dish out 100 dollars on a ticket to a party where they proceed to get smashed, or they do something totally low-key – because what’s all the fuss about?

Whether you’ll be celebrating in style this year or snuggling up on the sofa at home (and perhaps even falling asleep before midnight), you’ve no doubt had some shockers of a New Year’s Eve before. Haven’t we all? Here’s one of many horror stories:

New Years 2010. I was the sober driver for some friends until around 11 pm before I headed off to a midnight party in Silver Lake at some sort of McMansion that was supposedly alt-rocker Beck’s house. At the soiree, realizing I needed to catch up, I immediately began pounding Red Bull vodkas. My friend immediately told me to “drink this”, which I did. Pretty quickly. Only later did I discover “this” was a pint of 50/50 Jack Daniels and coke. (The legal kind, although the illegal kind was being passed around in the open by dicey “Hollywood types” and hanger-ons.) By the time 12AM rolled around I was spinning and tanked. As the clock struck midnight, I grabbed a girl next to me (who was a beautiful brunette and a local celebrity on some sort of news program) and we had our midnight kiss – which swiftly turned into the two of us fighting to reach the toilet as we both projectile vomited all over the bathroom. She wanted to make out afterwards and I politely declined. I always wonder if Beck woke up the next morning to find the collaborative technicolor yawn that he no doubt had his maid clean up.

Stay safe out there. Happy 2020.

 

Happy Holidays from The ‘Fro

bah-humbug.

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.