brewers baseball and things


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geriatrics, paranoia and base hits

Miller Park is too loud and there’s too many carnival activities or maybe I’ve become an old fart. I don’t remember it being like this at County Stadium; win this and win that on the scoreboard, all the people dancing to get on the scoreboard. People watch the scoreboard more than the game and that freaking thing takes up 40 percent of the outfield.

Engineering marvel? Miracle of science? I should love robots and just shut up and appreciate this glorious life and day baseball under the sun. There’s too many statues at this new Miller Park and I say new because it will always be new to me, brand spanking and too squeaky clean new. Way too many statues. Who needs statues. I don’t like statues; attract too many tourists with cameras.

Or maybe i need a beer and a valium. I love Bob Uecker. He’s a funny story teller, but he doesn’t need a statue and he gets two; outside and inside the Park. Maybe i just got claustrophobic in large crowds. There were 40,000 yesterday; kids and senior citizen day.  I enjoyed the pre game warm up on the blue Jays side; Kawasaki-the Jays eccentric second baseman from Japan was playing catch with Jose Bautista and the two of them were playing a simulated game of pitcher; each one impersonating one pitcher or another.

Kawasaki did a convincing Luis Tiant cork screwing his body 180 degrees; eye contact with someone somewhere. Kawasaki threw the ball over the shortstop or third baseman’s head two times during around the horn. Never seen that. He was laughing and so was Bautista and Encarnacion. Don’t see that stuff on TV.

Lots of Bluejay fans at Miller Park.  I yelled a few times; tried to piss them off. It felt good. The first time at Danny Valencia; thanking him for making a throwing error and allowing run to score and thanking the Jays for making a trade for Valencia; their big trading deadline move..big joke.

I yelled loudly about Melky Cabrera being fat and a weak outfielder, but I thanked him for dropping a Mark Reynolds fly ball at the wall. That felt good too.

Blue Jays knuckler RA Dickey backing up the third base on a throw and saving a run. He jumped kind of high to snare Bautista’s wild throw; headed for the lower box seats. That was exciting, but Dickey has a weird motion. If he were a kid at the playground; you’d think he might be better with a microscope inside the classroom.

The game itself was nice; lots of runs and base hits; more like an old American League bash fest between Jays and Brewers. I don’t like inter league play. I hate it and ditto for the wildcards. Now everyone says, “hey, this is gonna be a close race.” Well, no shit it is with 10 teams in the playoffs. Too damn easy.

Anyway, Brewer fans were pissed off about Jimmy Nelson staying in the game too long and pissed about him not having a third pitch. Cripes…Jays batters, especially Dickey’s personal catcher; I can’t remember his name…Josh Toely? musta fouled off 20 of Nelson’s pitches in two different at bats. No put away pitch for him; no curve, no change up; just a 97 mph fast ball and maybe a slider, but whatever..great control and lots of first pitch strikes.

The bullpen sucked yesterday or the Jays are just explosive. Bautista hit a bomb off reliever Zack Duke and in the ninth, Colby Rasmus launched a huge one. Final Score; Jays 9, Brewers 5. Musta been more than 20 hits and there were. i just looked in the paper; 15 for the jays and 10 for the crew.

Pitching greatness is sexy and what not and all the nuances of execution and hitting behind runners and fancy art exhibits and three forks and blah blah blah, but just hit the hell out of the ball, hit it somewhere; poke this joke of a pitcher…I like that…14 runs.

The tailgating parties continued after the game and no one seemed too pissed off, bit one guy walked around like a ghost saying “it’s over. the season is over” I tried talking to him but he just gave me a blank stare and repeated his little mantra or whatever it was. Maybe he got too drunk in the game and his wife told him to hit the road jack.

The weird thing about this season; unlike 1981 and 1982 and 1987 and another season in the early 90’s and then 2008 and 2011…the Brewers have been in first place since April. In those winning years; four playoff years the Crew struggled to reach the top. Cripes, in 82, they fired their manager-Buck Rodgers and brought in Harvey Kueen..Harvey’s Wallbangers.

This year’s Brewers been sitting on top since April. Hope it doesn’t get stale; feeling smug and all, getting lazy or losing that edge. Whatever. Maybe not. Who knows. Maybe that guy outside the park saying the mantra over and over again; Mr. comotose doomsday is getting under my skin. Time to go buy a new pack of gum.


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rocks and birds and beer and things

There were grandmas and grandpas on the airplane enjoying smartphones and laptops yesterday; some in Detroit and some in Milwaukee. Made me feel like a cave man, but I have no complaints about today’s world or yes I do, but not with old people.

I visited my parent’s yesterday; first time in a long time;  glad to see them alive and doing crossword puzzles and word searches and tuned to jeopardy like never before. We took some slow walks, ate dinner, watched the Brewers game on TV. A dragonfly entered their condo and Mom said they usually stay outside. Me too, I was thinking to myself.

I guess one of the tricks to survival is not feeling pissed off all the time. Who the hell can endure that? Anyway, I am pissed about the ecstasy from an airplane window being stolen from us; thank you very much Google Maps, but I can only blame myself. I cheated years ago and enjoyed aerial views of my home town.

Dammit! Wish I hadn’t done it; sneaked a peak that is.  No more orgasm 30,000 feet in the air; seeing my city and stomping grounds like a hawk maybe does, but whatever, it was still kind of cool yesterday; seeing Milwaukee on high, way up above. The North Point Water Tower, Lake Michigan and all the beaches, the Domes and UW-Milwaukee campus, smoke stacks, beer plumes and that strange sci-fi spaceship in the Menominee valley, that old train station with the giant windows thingamagegee….that Miller Park and its retractable dome.

Could only see it for a second between the clouds. Super cloudy yesterday and strange route by the pilot. Flew south of Milwaukee and then over Lake Michigan maybe halfway and then turned around and landed at General Mitchell Airport or maybe I was giddy from being home, messed up internal GPS. Anyway, I thanked the captain on the way out.

On a clear day you can be in the middle of Lake Michigan…in one of these planes; 30,000 feet above and see both side of the Lake; both Milwaukee and Luddington, Michigan. I always thought that was cool, especially because I had no idea as a kid that Lake Michigan ended. It was exactly like that Who song….”I can see for miles and miles….”

One of the many not so strange things about Milwaukee and Wisconsin and Midwest is the trees and squirrels, deer,  rabbits, broccoli hillside lush, and even a few wetlands with frogs and herons and other birds. Not so strange because Montreal and Quebec has the same or is the same. And both have tremendous humidity; swimming through applesauce humidity.

Natural landscapes make a huge difference to me. I like grain silos and pollution and rolling farm fields and cows and lots of green and rabbits and what not. The French Fur traders took those damn canoes from Quebec all the way to the Mississippi river. Milwaukee was settled by French Fur traders; Pere Marquette and Jean Nicolet. A few statues of them around town,

They musta felt good in the landscape and the water…holy mackerel. Lots of water. The Great lakes and rivers and more lakes. Fish, frogs, some gardener snakes and green everywhere…easy to breathe.

I like this Midwest and beer. People like beer here and so do I and almost 70 hours have passed and still not one cigarette. I found Juicy Fruit in a Hubba Bubba type packaging at a gas station on the corner. Salted peanut rolls and whatamakalit candy bars too. None of those in Montreal. The juicy fruit was same size as Hubba Bubba gum and same long lasting explosion of juices. Been chewing gum for like 70 hours straight except when i sleep. My jaw feels sprained. Also bought a big bag of David Sunflower Seeds. Keeping the course. Cigarettes must die.

And Brewers on TV last night….7 doubles off Blue Jays pitching; scored 6 runs; more than enough for Mike Fiers. Him and reliever Brandon Kintzler retired 24 batters in a row. Almost a perfect game right there. They gave Fiers a standing ovation. Holy mackerel….that ovation is gonna be me Wednesday afternoon.

There is no air conditioning in Miller Park; just panels that open; give a little breeze, but that’s ok or not ok not for the pitchers; buckets of sweat, but ok for us fans. I’m gonna wear shorts, sip a beer and well, hope the Brewers add a win to their record of 71-55.


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gum and tobacco and airplanes and what not

The Brewers are still 70-55; had a day off Monday. I haven’t been on an airplane in 3 years; haven’t been to Milwaukee in 3 years and that’s all about to change.

If all goes well and the plane doesn’t run out of fuel or whatever, I’ll be at Miller Park Wednesday afternoon and Saturday night; Brewers hosting Blue Jays and then Pirates and I’ll probably be chewing gum both days and nights.

I try and use dental floss. It’s good for me and kind of strange that the floss I prefer is made in Ireland. It says so underneath the small container. It flows easier than other brands; violin bow between my teeth and not that strange coming from Ireland, but kind of strange because I can’t think of anything else made in Ireland other than beer.

Gum and dental floss go together for obvious reasons, but the gum has become very effective as a cigarette replacement these past 48 hours, but not just any gum. I don’t know when or where gum started to morph shapes, but I’m not that old and remember gum ball machine and all the colorful gum balls inside.

And I remember the arrival of sticks of gum buried inside aluminum foil paper like wrigleys or juicy fruit. And I remember the sudden shrinking of gum from sticks to circles or ovals or squares trapped inside aluminum pods.

And I also remember green square gum; maybe called chiclets? and Big Red sticks and of course, bazooka joe with the comic and people growing up in Spain and Nigeria and England and every freaking country probably have their kinds of gums, but the only gum that rocked my world and still rocks my world is the hubba bubba. It never tried to be healthy or good for your teeth and was close enough to Big League Chew for me. 

Hubba Bubba still comes 5 in a pack. I stuck a piece in my mouth when I woke up yesterday and it stayed there until 1 pm; 7 straight hours and never lost all the flavor or maybe it did; but I slipped in some jolly rancher hard candy to revive the taste and distraction and it worked. I still didn’t smoke.

I prefer big league chew, but it’s hard to find around Montreal…so hubba bubba does the trick. I’m chewing some right now and it’s a baseball chew; a big Terry Francona wad. Makes it easier to assume a batting stance pose in the middle of this room. I can also look around the infield and start up some chatter.

And when the imaginary game’s over and the urge to smoke reappears as it tends to do in 40 minute contractions, I chew that wad and pretend to be a valley gird and I say things like “Oh my gawd, this is so weird. I ‘m actually doing it. I’m kicking this groddy to the max habit of smoking cigarettes.

Also the old stiff baseball card gum stuck in packs; stained the top card too. Way better than its reputation. Yeh, it was hard and you could cut the roof of your mouth, but if you worked it into a ball and got some saliva in there, it was just as good and maybe better than a bazooka.

There was also hamburger shaped  gum and trident and a flood of others is coming to mind..crazy capitalism thing like toothpaste and cars and everything else and uh oh…here comes that urge to smoke again. Off to the airport.

A few more hours…or maybe it’s days and then I’m in the clear or at least in Milwaukee. The Brewers are still 70-55.


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secrets of the universe

If a crow lands on a mailbox, I make up some symbolic meaning and try and go with the flow. I don’t mail the letter. I don’t know jack crap about these natural events and what to take from them. Maybe if I lived outside they would make more sense, but there’s no way in hell I’m doing that.

Anyway, I was in a car yesterday; as a passenger, highway 40 heading towards trois rivieres, quebec. Not the first time being on that road and so not the first time I seen hawks in the sky. No big deal. Lots of hawks all over the place, in the country anyway, but hawks….I like hawks.

They don’t try so hard. They flap a few times and then soar and the thing is, there were 5 hawks and i never seen 5 hawks all together like that or maybe they weren’t together, but maybe they were? Who cares? I care. I wanted some symbolism so I made some up.

Five…of course!!!! the ancient number for something; a perfect day to quit smoking stupid cigarettes. And so five became the symbol to quit smoking. Just a joke between my friend and I, but kind of real too because so far, 17 hours into this experiment, I haven’t lit up a cigarette.

And so that number five was on my mind yesterday, mostly for fun, but Jonathan Lucroy hit a two run home run in the first inning followed by a bases clearing double in the second inning. Add em up and he had 5 RBI and the Brewers won 7-2 and swept the Dodgers at home. And  7-2 is also a subtraction situation, as 7 minus 2 equals 5; that being yesterday’s run differential; the Brewers +5.

Wily Peralta pitched six solid innings and earned his 15th win; another five, but this is all rear view mirror crap; it all makes sense after the fact in whatever way we want it to. Thd future is harder to predict except when the Brewers have a day off and they do have one Monday so this time tomorrow, there record will also be 70-55.

 


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the eggs taste extra good this morning

To fall asleep before 1st pitch is I kind of forgive myself with excuses like western expansion and Chinese laying railroad tracks and stadiums popping up and relocation and by Scully it’s 10:10 PM again in the east and flatlines it’s 5 am all of a sudden. Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun hit home runs; hit em off Clayton Kershaw Kerplunk goes Joe Ace and his 11 game win streak says mlb.com.

All the players are probably sleeping right now. It’s 3:30 AM in LA or maybe not Kershaw. Strikes out 11; a complete game, standing ovation, but a loss; out somethinged by Gallardo; Yovani Gallardo or Yo as we like to call him in Milwaukee. He once was a power pitcher; for a half decade long and we loved the huge K totals; massive pitch counts; 6 inning max; so many walks. We loved Gallardo and never expected any more. Pitchers are hard to come by.

And we love Yo now; these eight inning dances; only 3  k’s, but only 1 little walk and 6 little hits for a final score of Brewers 3, Dodgers 1. The Dodgers are banged up with injuries and Brewers maybe drunk from time zone shifting like staying awake all night and the next day feeling like a cough syrup high. Sunday may be painful.

But the opposite happened last weekend. Dodgers flew into Milwaukee early Friday morning; lost the first two games and won the rubber on Sunday.

This time zone reasoning is word searches in the dentist chair.

Brewers are 69-55.


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home sweet away?

Hard enough to brave the grocery store; the oversized carts and pushy people. Painful to imagine how an emergency might unfurl. Massive trampling and screaming.  Time for a valium and a lemonade. Beam me a southern mansion and an old tree to look at.  How do people stay vagabond into their 40’s and 50’s?

Vinny Rottino was born in Racine; about 40 minutes south of Milwaukee. It was a big deal when the Brewers signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2003 and an even bigger deal when he reached the MLB as a September call up in 2007 and even bigger deal when he hit a walk off single in 2008.  A feel good warm story; local boy makes the show. It never lasts, even Jeter wears wrinkles.

Rottino was traded to the Dodgers, released, signed minor league deals with the Marlins, Mets, and Indians. Then to Japan and this year Korea where he made history;  first ever foreign battery with fellow American; pitcher Andy Van Hekken. He’s 34 years old. Gotta be proud of something.

Rottino hit .165 in 97 big league at bats; 3 homeruns and 11 RBI’s, but he’s living in a new land; Kimchi concessions; enjoying life, back to reciting ABC or the Korean equivalent. He’s not getting old; no need for Gilgamesh related activities; no need for eternal life or driving oneself crazy looking for it. Biogenesis.

Where have all the Ralph Kiners gone, retiring after 10 years or Koufax after 12, but then again if Frank Jobe and his bionic arm procedures were around in the late 1960’s, Koufax maybe pitches 10 more years? And some other bionic doctor fixes Kiner’s back. But there were no medical miracles. Kiner and Koufax slip into new lives and accept death.

Hard enough to brave the grocery story. Players like Vinny Rottino; sitting by the campfire until 4 am; determined to reignite that one ember. Who knows if it’s even there or a fig newton of the imagination; the human will just like Townes van Zandt; throwing  all over board; except what makes him sweat and onward they march….alone.

Easier to do glory days; talking baseball trash at the rail or in the apartment; a little bit eloquent, a little bit gutter, but all the same; spinning and crunching numbers or slamming a fist for another round or both. Yeh, both.

Numbers and words. Rowdy chorus and solitary confinement. That’s the baseball sandwich. The Brewers are in Los Angeles. Messed up schedule. Hard to imagine being in Brewer cleats.  Game starts at 10:10 eastern time after weeks or was it months in a different time zone and then bam, in LA, sunny during REM.

Is Los Angeles a dry river bed of sprawling neighborhoods with a Pacific Ocean companion and beaches after beaches after beaches? Sounds interesting. Birthplace of Valley girl and plastic personality. I don’t get it. Intellectual talk sounds just as empty most of the time. Can’t tell the two apart when the intention is screwy. Shakespeare or Britney Spears. Cross overs like Quincy Jones. Passion is what matters. You can hear it.

Passion gives a human heart that eternal life they long for. Who can blame the steroid people? Snorting ritalin, drinking 12 packs, the Bible, intellectualism, playing victim, cigarette after cigarette, hash, the tv sucks me in, strip tease apparel, anything to remove the sting, prolong youth, eternal life, gilgamesh, not think about death, get a passion, not for sale.

Kershaw And Greinke the 21st century Koufax and Drysdale. The Dodgers are likeable; not just because feel good-tragic Brooklyn story and more than displacing Mexican families in Chavez Ravine. Ron Cey looked like a stomach virus; Steve Garvey constipated, but Derrel Thomas was golden; all 6 feet, 160 pounds; played every position but pitcher; never drove to a gym to lift weights.

Greinke is hard to figure out. Almost quit baseball from his social phobia. Gained cult status because people thought he was clever and ironic and original the way he answered stupid reporter questions. He was just surviving. No pose there. Playing defense to keep people away. Had no choice. Life or death.

Makes KC appropriate for him, Milwaukee too; small media markets, but the Angels and then the Dodgers? Talk about being miscast, but he figured it out I guess; learned how to deal with the media. He calls the shots; talks to the blood suckers only on the day he pitches or at least that’s how he rolled in Milwaukee.

Greinke was on the mound against Jimmy Nelson Friday west coast night and Greinke hasn’t looked sharp in a few starts against his former team-the Brewers. He walked five last night, gone after the fifth inning, but the Brewers didn’t get one freaking hit between the 2nd and 7th inning and The Dodgers scored two off Jimmy Nelson, but only two. Another quality start for the rookie Nelson.

But it was the 8th inning and Lyle Overbay’s two out three run bases clearing double. Five hits and five runs.  Final score; Brewers 6, Dodgers 3. Delirious time zones.

The Brewers are 68-55.

 


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I tawt I saw a Pedro Tat. I did. I did.

The Red Sox Hall of fame bash; all inductees invited into the booth last night; Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra.

Clemens first. I’m no expert on reading body language, but a snake wiggling out of a bag was Clemens and steroids weren’t discussed; pointing that finger again and looking stiffer than a Nazi boot. Clemens thanked ice for prolonging his career. In and out of the booth in less than a half inning.

Pedro stuck around for two innings. Red Sox announcer Jerry Remy didn’t want him to leave. Remy said Pedro’s 17 k game against the Yankees was the greatest pitching performance he’d ever seen; how only Ted Williams could walk in a room and change the climate like Pedro.

Pedro bowed; that wonderful smile and slipped into story telling; about being pissed at manager Joe Kerrigan for so much as hinting that Jeter was batting .300 against him. More smiles. Remy said no Red Sox venue was more intense, more loud than when Pedro pitched. Every regular season game.

“Fenway did sort of become a winter league Dominican atmosphere,” said Pedro who is credited with Boston acquiring David Ortiz from the Twins. Big Papi thanks Pedro every time they embrace; hugging him around the waist, lower, Pedro said , “a sign of respect.”

Pedro is a freaking shaman, a saint, a legend walking among us. More than baseball. He’s biblical long before tv had heroes, long before movies existed. A Zeus of pitchers and at the same time, easy to imagine as a friend… beer at the rail.

Nomar Garciaparra followed Pedro and he too lasted way longer than Clemens. Working for the Dodgers now as a broadcaster. Kershaw’s great, he said, but not at Pedro’s level; not yet anyway.

Garciaparra raves on and on about being a Red Sock, about the Nation, about befriending Ted Williams or vice versa; no easy task apparently, getting past the William’s tough guy edge; always talking hitting like Lombardi football and winning and the right way; embarrassing people in public.

Nomar and Williams share Mexican heritage and southern California origins. Nomar friends with Johnny Pesky too, but not blowing hot ego air and Red Sox hype. Nomar seemed heartfelt humble gratitude for being drafted and raised by the Red Sox..

But Pedro Pedro Pedro; the class and eloquence and humor. I don’t need a time machine to go back. I choose Pedro; lucky to be alive during his time. No baseball story gets me coco puffs crazy like Pedro’s story; scouts saying he too small, Montreal giving him a chance, the total domination and intimidation and that smile and his stories.

Pedro said about pitching, “it was my day to do art so I enjoyed every single aspect….frame like Picasso 2 inches off corner….and once it went away, it went away for good.”

And what timing, this HOF Pedro Red Sox thing. Sherzer struck out 14 yesterday and in the shadows, the Brewer’s Mike Fiers did the same….14 k’s, a new road record for Brewers franchise.

Granted, it was the Cubs, the same team that struck out 15 times or whatever against the Rays last week…but still, at one point yesterday, Fiers struck out 5 Cubs LOOKING; impossible corners, Picasso corners, eh Pedro?

Fiers is lanky, 6 feet 2, 190 pounds and everything he does is long; the wind up, delivery, arm extension, follow through. Rick Sutcliffe without the cupped ball, Location master is Fiers, corner paint jobs, drop dead change up, 29 years old.

The wind was blowing in. Gave Fiers some extra confidence to attack hitters, but Khris Davis  managed to muscle one out in left center; so did Mark Reynolds.

Reynolds is the first player in MLB hisotry to hit 20 or more homeruns in 7 consecutive seasons for 5 different teams. Love hate relationship; power and whiff; have glove will travel. Leads Brewers with 21 bombs and plays a solid first base.

Bob Uecker visited the tv booth in between radio innings. Predicted a drone will soon hover over the infield and replace all umpires. He’s not very fond of instant replay I guess; misses the dynamic of manager and umpire; the grudges and dislike; the season long drama. Final Score; Brewers 6, Cubs 2.

The Brewers are 67-55.

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