brewers baseball and things


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the parking lot that changed baseball

Dice, jacks, flipping baseball cards, slinkies, silly putty, smart phones. Evolution? Maybe. Maybe not. Stage coaches bumping dirt roads, trains over tracks, automobiles on interstates. Evolution? Maybe. Maybe not

But parking lots, we love you. Frisbee, pickle, and sip beer. Barbecue brats tailgate, and listen to old 8 tracks, The Scorpions, Frank Sinatra, or Cold Play, whatever you want. The lot is big enough for lizards with wet t-shirts too. The sky is our umbrella and first pitch is soon or when the beer runs out or the 4th inning or whatever comes first. Who’s on second. Pass me another Schlitz.

You gotta have a parking lot. Street cars are too old and trains? Forget about em! Too early for spaceships and no one walks anymore unless it’s inside and at a mall and Walter O’Malley knew this way before anyone else or he watched Lou Perini exercise some good old-fashioned guts and Go west and warm the blood of baseball and become the first team to relocate and change baseball forever?

retrocom.com

retrocom.com

Bushville Milwaukee changed baseball forever? Dear Casey Stengel! Ok, maybe it was more Perini than Milwaukee, but it takes two to tango and what great dance partners they turned out to be. And when Milwaukee with its new County Stadium and massive parking lot got those turnstiles spinning and runners scoring on the diamond and Spahn and Sain and pray for rain, well, you bet your Howling Hilda Chester that Mr Walter O’Malley took notice.

But I don’t have the impression that he really wanted to leave Brooklyn. O’Malley really tried to stay and according to a little snippet in the book Lords of the Realm, he even considered a dome long before anyone else even knew what the hell a dome was.

And even the vilified master builder Robert Moses proposed a stadium in Brooklyn, but in the end, it was the Braves in Milwaukee and Calvin Griffith of the Twinkies visiting Los Angeles and apparently discussing his team’s potential move from Minnesota to L.A. Gave O’Malley itchy feet I guess. He wanted in on LA and not no second fiddle so  so he packed up some Perini guts and road his coattails out west, way out west to Beverleeee and Stoneham followed with his  Giants and another Iron curtain bites the dust as snow melts and water races for a homeland; out to sea or something like that.

…..and the Athletics move to KC and then to Oakland and KC is awarded the Royals. The Braves flee to Atlanta and Milwaukee steals the Pilots from Seattle and Mariners are born 7 years later and am I repeating myself? and interstate commerce and speed up the reels and it’s all a blur and and and

now it’s 2014 and the Giants and Royals are in the World Series together for the first time and the series is tied 1-1 and they’re going back to San Francisco but without flowers in their hair thanks to Giant’s big hunk rookie right hander Hunter Strickland…..Hunter Strick Land. What a freaking name! and what a freaking temper and rightfully so.

He served up his 5th post season home run last night; five in 5.1 innings and according to everyone’s favorite, Joe Buck, that’s the most home runs allowed in a single post season since gulp…the Brewers’ Chris Narveson back in 2011. He performed his stunt by allowing 2 to the D-backs in the NLDS and 3 to those lovely Cardinals in the NLCS.


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climbing up and down totem poles

Players worked winter jobs, rode subway to and from games, sat beside fans who also worked winter jobs and said things like, “Hey Hack,why’d you go and swing at that pitch?

There were men mounted on horses policing outfield alleys but before hoofs, fans braved barriers and tore up grass like fanatical dogs we still celebrate burial mounds sneaking peaks free of charge; from Coogan’s Bluff to Wrigley’s rooftop paradise there will be more.

Mockingbird Hill Milwaukee was situated behind the VA Hospital on National Avenue. Fans gathered and looked into County Stadium’s right field…sea gulls soaring in breezes, first the Braves, then the Brewers until the end in the early 1970’s. Ambition was to blame. Bleacher expansion.

But those Braves; from Boston to Milwaukee to Atlanta like Athletics from Philly to KC to Oakland; fantastic eagles wing spread. Totem poles. And then the Brewers like the Royals like the Mariners to replace the ghost of Braves Athletics and Pilots. Totems of the pacific northwest. Totems of our museum minds.

Maybe Atlanta knows nothing of Walt Tragesser and Milwaukee nothing of Ray Oyler but that’s ok in a silent and non invasive tree ring sort of way, barely disrupting the ecosystem; not knowing the totem or knowing is discovering it again.

This fresh autum day all can be brand spanking new; a perfect rite for a vortex and a warp and a time machine to escape these parentheses…..(         ) stuck in the here and now.

To that spring of 1970 when the equipment trucks heading north from Arizona turned left and not right; headed east-not west and reached  Milwaukee not Seattle to become the Brewers and not the Pilots and dammit the Brewers were never an expansion team and neither were the Milwaukee Braves.

Gorman Thomas was the first player the Pilots picked in the 1969 draft and well, if there was ever a player destined to play in Milwaukee and Brew city, it was Stormin Gorman Thomas. He fit the city like a patron saint of bar rails. Milwaukee has more bars per square mile than anywhere in the world if I’m not mistaken more bowling alleys as well.

Gorman didn’t surface in the majors until 1973 and it took a few years but in 1978 he became bigger than Evil Knievel and the love never stopped until it went terribly sour in 1983 when Gorman was traded to Cleveland for Rick Manning. There were others in that trade but Manning was Gorman’s ghost out there in centerfield and we never got used to him.

Manning slashed the game winning hit August 26, 1987…a walk off 10th inning single against his former Indians and Manning was booed by Milwaukee fans because Paul Molitor was on deck and his 39 game hitting streak was in danger of ending and it did. Manning could do nothing right in Milwaukee even when he did right. That game is remembered for Molitor’s streak biting the dust and on a more positive note Teddy Higuera’s 10 inning, 3 hit complete game victory. Rick who?

Stormin Gorman Thomas was the first ever Seattle Pilot. He will always be a forever member of the Seattle Milwaukee double helix totem pole. In that inaugural Milwaukee season, you could see Pilots under the Brewer uniforms. It was fading but it was there. Must have been low on linens back then.


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moondog, rainy nights and did that infield hit really just happen?

I sometimes watch a spider climb a wall and It looks good and right in all its efforts with moondog’s invocation song playing in the back round and the Royals and Orioles stuck in a rain delay.

And people were saying,
“we kept waiting for the song to start but twang went the diving board. Twang twang twang and still no jump, soar and splash or maybe we missed a flash?

“well,” some other people were saying. “it ain’t called invocation for nothing; every moment a virgin birth, especially when you’re inside Rick Sutcliffe’s mind. That guy pretends to know the future, but he’s not pretending. He really believes it,  so damn much that he must be continuously surprised when oops he suddenly doesn’t know the future.

We called Sutcliffe The big red baron and impersonated his cupped ball delivery when he pitched the Cubs to the division title all the way back in 1984 was Leon the Bull Durham and Keith Real Estate Moreland and Jody Davis Eyes and I grew up listening to Chris Ethel Merman Berman and his endless nicknames.

I think Sutcliffe was just about undefeated after the Cubs acquired him from somewhere else, probably in a middle of the season trade or maybe he started the season on the Cubs? I can’t remember but anyway, now the big red baron is in the broadcast booth for game 1 of this ALCS a few days ago and he says “that Billy Butler has no look of infield hit anywhere on his face;” a double meaning to indicate he’s all thunder bird power and no road runner speed.

but then as sure as a morning dew drop is pinned to a blade of grass looking like a buddhist tether ball reflecting the world …Billy Butler hits a ground ball in the hole, gobbled up by JJ Hardy who for no known reason hurries the throw and Butler and his baby fat cheeks are chugging a boogie up the line but coming nowhere near beating out the throw one hops Steve Pearce at first base he swallows it up; the ball disappearing in there rattling around but Pearce can’t hold on and Sutcliffe’s partner-I forget his name he’s mild mannered as always but with a dash of subtle needle says “should be scored an infield hit” and there’s a lilt in the way he says hit.

I mean there was no more words for Sutcliffe to say. Broadcasters like to say “right on cue” when there’s talk of long ball and the player hits a long ball, but this was reverse cue Billy Butler and the infield hit.


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grandma moses, postage stamps and letters to heaven

To live to be 101 years old causes some people to say no way, enough is enough. Maybe some people are born old. Everything always seems to be dying around them. They complain about telephone booths disappearing and wonder where all the coin slot laundry machines go and day dream about spontaneous encounters in back alley pool halls.

Who can blame them? Those were the good old days when individuals lived and struggled and died just like any other time roaming planet earth; including here and now, today 2014. Grandma Moses musta been like Quincy Jones; integrating current happenings into her activities and creations. Miles Davis wrote a hip hop album. That must be the ticket outta here.

No one really says, “I’m too old” anymore. Do they? Are those the same people who say, “Oh, I haven’t played chess in so long. I’m no good at it anyway.” Is that an old psych ploy? a woe is me strategy so no one expects a damn thing or flowers you with praise?

I wanna talk about pound cake because it’s old and so are people greeting you at a door with “What can I get you to drink?” Grandma Moses remembers and there was no Ginkgo biloba available at the pharmacy in her daze. You had to comb Chinese gardens and play chemist and do some extraction and sniffing.

G Moses is part of a pretty long tradition in America; baseball themes on postage stamps. And these are the dying days of the postage industry. Oh shit, here I go with my own swan song charade.

(In a whiny voice) “and there was a time when we would walk to the post office and pass by the dirty river and the root beer billboard painted on the side of the old Woolworth building. The nappy boys would be staring up Miss Lanphiers dress. She had that yellow spinner on; ankle high. Mmmmm, what flesh, so soft and shiny. Turn a choir boy into a daylight sinner.

There were many baseball players on stamps. I remember the Jackie Robins in 1982. It had a yellow background. That was the only one I saved, but according to the article, Generations:Baseball on U.S. Postage Stamps by Robert A. Moss.  there was Ruth, Gehrig, Greenberg, Sisler, Speaker, Trainer, Thorpe, and many more. There was  a mighty Casey in cartoon, anonymous little league and on and on.

I mailed many letter in my day and maybe that’s why I don’t remember most of those baseball stamps. Some sort of government conspiracy; amnesia to the masses, a Khmer Rouge mind freeze. History is officially over. We start at zero every damn day. That’s not a bad idea if we could get rid of the killing fields.

Apparently, there are still thousands of land mines still buried in the Cambodia ground not yet detonated. Anyway, focus focus, focus, on stamps and the ground in front of me. Stamps. Yes,  There were was the legendary stadium stamps issued in 2001. I’d like to get a sheet of those and past em all over a manilla envelope and stuff a letter to my grandpa in there. If he had a mailing address, he would dig the Forbes Field stamp.

I’d address it to heaven. Probably end up in a garbage can somewhere. Hopefully some kid goes dumpster diving and finds it, takes it home and gets a story form his own grandfather..

july-fourthA Grandma Moses painting is included among the baseball stamps. It’s barely noticeable and kind of becomes a Where”s Waldo situation but I know it’s there. Why else would the postage powers include it as one of their baseball stamps?

So I keep looking and wind on down the dirt road. I bump into a horse and admire it’s hair; so long and black and shiny like a Japanese Geisha. People are dancing and screaming and blowing instruments and it’s annoying, but I keep walking  because I’m stuck inside this painting.

The mountains in the distance are encouraging and then  there it is; a bat and a ball and a glove and some kids in a merry-go-round formation or no formation at all; playing pickle? It can’t be. Looks more like a Gas house gang flip game.


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that’s a fine tasting sandwich

It’s amazing what a little vinegar can do to a sandwich. No point in flipping out over nothing, Cheese, bread, lettuce, olives, and vinegar and this is turning out to be a nice playoff season.

One Brewer fan curls up like a sow bug. He can’t bare or bear to watch the Royal surge. It’s not the pimples in the sourdough of adolescence. No, it’s not that. He enjoys the Hosmer Moustakas Gordon Butler; the HMGB fantastic four; the original Royal draftees, the pride and glory, especially G. Gordon Liddy. He was destined to be the next Brett and cheers to him for rising to some semblance of the occasion. He’s a damn good left fielder.

That Brewer fan can’t bear or bare to see all those former Brewers in the playoffs while the Brewers are mourning the loss of their AAA affiliate. Nashville said they were no longer interested, but that’s alright and that’s ok cause Colorado Springs saves the day. They rolled out the AAA carpet for 2015..

I’m enjoying this, but I wished they would have chosen a city closer to Milwaukee so AAA players could be called up on a whim like the Atlanta Braves do with Gwinnett Georgia. I remember the dawn of Julio Teheran’s career. He would pitch one game and be sent back down. And what a glorious tease with his across the body delivery and other worldly confidence a la Pedro Martinez.

Anyhoo, this is a time to celebrate former Brewer’s manager and former Brewer catcher Ned Yost and a time to celebrate the trade that brought Zach Greinke from the Royals to the Brewers in exchange for current Royal’s shortstop Alcides Escobar and current Royal’s starting center fielder Lorenzo Cain; both the pride of the Brewers system.

Then there’s Norichika Aoki. Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin pulled a fast one on the baseball world back during the Yu Darvish auction daze. While the world drooled Darvish, the Brewers signed Aoki for a million dollars. What a steal for two seasons; maybe the most underpaid lead off hitter in all of baseball.

And last off-season, he was dealt to the Royals for reliever Will Smith; a good trade for both teams. I feel like I’m repeating myself. Yes, I’ve talked about the Royals a number of times this season and why not? Ned Yost is their manager and he has been since 2010. The Royals were 55-72 under Yost that year and he still predicted a World Series victory before his time was up in KC.

Yost hit a home run in 1982. No big deal except that it was the only home run he hit all season and for his career he only hit 16, but the most memorable blast was in 1982; September 29-Game 158 out of 162. It was a ago ahead 3 run homer at Fenway.

The Brewers won that game thanks to Yost and had a three game lead over the Orioles heading into the last series of the season…4 games against Baltimore of course..in Baltimore.

The Orioles won the first three games. It was showdown game 162. Don Sutton faced Jim Palmer and Robin Yount happened like he did all of that MVP season. He hit 2 homers and Bob McLure recorded the final out-I think that was Gary Roenicke. That’s the same McLure who was the Royals pitching coach for many years. That was the same day Earl Weaver made his first retirement.

Speaking of coaches and managers, the Royals current bench coach is former Brewer shortstop Dale Sveum-also a former Brewers manager. Fitting that Sveum and Yost are together again. Yost was fired as Brewers manager back in 2008 and replaced by his bench coach Sveum with like one week to go in the season. I feel like I’m repeating myself. I probably am.

Let me sip a little whiskey Friday night and see the blue team out there. It’s kind of blurry, but isn’t that Alcides Escobar ranging to his right at short? And isn’t that Cain in center? Aoki in left? Where am I?


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the end or beginning and why i prefer roasting vegetables

Carlos Gomez was doing hand stands on a treadmill so my interview had to be cancelled with the Brewer’s center fielder, but that’s ok. Plan b interview was right beside me. I’m not a big fan of phone interviews anyway and email interviews? Forget it. So here I am in my underpants, sipping early morning coffee. It’s still dark outside and it’s me interviewing me.

What do you keep in the fridge?

Not much. I’d hate to be hit by car and stuck in a hospital for 4 weeks and have a full fridge of food go to waste. But I plan ahead anyway and always keep a bag of spinach lettuce and a bottle of Soy Sauce in there. Also one beer because I never get to the last one the night before. Drunk GPS and what not.

So what will you be doing now that the baseball season is over?

Get a manicure and a massage. But seriously take in a Sunday movie; ride my bike and cross-country ski when the snow arrives, if it arrives. Watch basketball. I’d like to get a Wolfgang Puck Novo Pro Rapid Bake Oven for Christmas, but it’s too big for a stocking and maybe too expensive.

Will you keep writing on this blog?

Maybe a post here and there every once in a while, but not with the same religious baseball regular season 162 every day devotion.

Will you put messages in bottles or write graffiti on alley walls?

Well, I wrote 4 novels and never tried to get them published. The first one is 10 years old. I’m gonna read em all over and send them to a publisher or self publish them. I got one publisher interested in a collection baseball stories, so we’ll see where that one goes.

How can we track down your writing if we feel like reading some?

You could look for my name Steven Myers or Randall Dybzinski. I used Randall as a pen name for another baseball blog, but I don’t write there anymore so look for Steven Myers; but that’s too common so when they’re published, I’ll definitely put a link on this blog.

So, this is sort of the end with Brewers baseball and things?

Well not really. I’ll just be working on other projects; ya know, finishing up those books. This is a train shooting out of a train station mother ship belly; nice and slow and giddy upping and onward.

And I like train stations too especially the big scoreboards with all those blinking destinations. Hey, what’s your greatest accomplishment in life?

Standing up on two feet, walking, getting potty trained and all that were huge self-reliant rites of passage or whatever,  but I don’t remember any of it; not even riding a bike for the first time and feeling free and vulnerable. Attaching a soup can to a broken muffler and fastening the can with mini baby belts was huge, but maybe my biggest achievement is writing a Brewers’s blog post every damn day during this 2014 season.

Did you tell anyone you were going to do it?

No, I just did it. I’m not too into marketing, but then again, here I am forecasting scattered novels and a 95 per cent chance of baseball short stories precipitation. Oh well. I wanted to see what it would be like to be a play-by-play broadcaster or beat reporter or peanut vendor; doing their baseball thing every damn day.

And how does it feel now that you’ve done it?

Like a Nike commercial.

Like Bo Jackson?

I’m glad  Kansas City is in the playoffs. Lots of Brewers on that team; Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain both drafted and developed by Brewers and Japanese import Norichika Aoki first groomed by Brewers plus Royals manager Ned Yost is  former Brewers manager and that home run he hit against Boston in 1982.

And the 2014 Brewers?

Lost to the Cubs 5-2 Sunday. Finished with an 82-80 record. First time in franchise history. I like 82-80. Reminds of 1980 and 1982.

And why roasting vegetables?

I like the black metal gates of cote des neiges cemetery and finding a way inside and roaming up the hill towards the neon cross; seeing Montreal roll south, those blue mountains and St. Lawrence river winding away for a mouth to touch. Did i forgot to answer your question about roasting vegetables?

No worries.

Because they taste so gooooood.

Opening day 2015
April 6,  1:10 PM Miller Park
Milwaukee Brewers and Colorado Rockies.


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maybe this is my way of saying thank you Lake Michigan

She doesn’t talk about movies or books. She’s more into making beef stews and canning vegetables for the winter. I don’t think she even has a tv. She’s just from the country and never had one.

She would show up at the bar wearing a wet t-shirt and when it was time to go home and sleep it off; she would hold onto us like a buoy.

She could squeeze love from a cold, intellectual turn up. She was an elemental force roaming the Milwaukee night long before books and clever turns of phrases. I think she was a virgin too.

She was clear. We all knew what she liked; a basement of sealed fruits, a chicken roasting in the oven with vegetables caramelizing under the meat and Terminator 2. Yep, that was the one movie she insisted we watch; the one where Sarah Connor escapes the hospital.

She wasn’t very subtle. We preferred it that way; avoiding slippery people as much as possible. We got enough of those suckers swimming in limestone quarries north of Milwaukee in Cedarburg. It was kind of slimy in those PCB infested water, but we dared each other to jump so we did.

Lake Michigan’s water was much clearer. That’s where we loitered beside abandoned boat houses and swam all hours of the day; usually in old tennis shoes to protect our feet from the rocks. Easter Sunday 1987 was cold, but we had just witnessed the Brewers winning their 12th game in a row to start the season and we jumped into the Lake  after the game; cold as a professor’s tit.

And the Brewers won game 82 last night and I took a bike ride beside the St. Lawrence River; clear as Lake Michigan and sort of the same water flowing from here to there; river to river emptying into great lakes into great lakes,  My butt hurts after being on that bike, but  Wily Peralta is a pain killer…13 strikeouts in 7 innings, 5 hits and 1 run allowed.

The Brewers have never finished a season with 82 wins and now they’re sitting on 82 with one game to go. In 2012 and 2007 and 1991 they won 83 games, but never has this team finished a season with 82 wins and that’s going all the way back to 1970.

Teams play 162 gme seasons nowadays. That began in 1961 and also in 1962. The American League expanded with the Los Angeles Angels and the Washington Senators for the 1961 season and added 8 games to the schedule; bouncing the season total up from 154 to 162. Wikipedia makes me sound so knowitable.

The following year when the New York Mets and Houston Colt 45’s were added to the National League, 8 more games were also added to them senior circuit team’s schedules.

One thing I’ve noticed about people who are not really baseball fans and don’t even pretend to be interested by it. They all eventually say…damn that season is long!

Turns level-headed scientists into schmaltzy romantics; waxing on and on about baseball beginning in spring with the resurrection of plant species and slips into endless boring summer and curtains closing autumn’s death dance.

But what about  people living in Flagstaff or Shreveport or Mendocino? What about alligator kiosks along the Tamiami Trail? There is no wax poetic. There’s just baseball 365 days a year.

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