brewers baseball and things

Leave a comment

let it rain….

Little did I know what baseball cards would eventually do to me. How could I? Do we ever know what a first drink or sniff, shot in the veins will do? I could have invested my newspaper money towards an accordion or a pogo stick and joined a Klezmer band or the circus, made something of my life, but no, I had to fork over bills to the old man dealer at the pharmacy….he wielding his wares with that wicked smile, all under the guise of wholesome American fun, a pastime, an initiation into the way, assimilated and accepted and off with your yarmulke kid and the hell with Odessa!

Little did I know, but it’s true; baseball cards, you are a ghost. You drive me into an obsessive compulsive frenzy, yes a frenzy, and not a disorder, a freaking frenzy, an OCF, an Obsessive Compulsive Frenzy. I pace back and forth in my small apartment because I don’t know what to do with all my cards. I could sell them, if I could find someone who wanted them and I’m sure I could. I have old cards, rare cards, nice rookies, and plenty of complete sets. But something always stops me. It’s…it’s…. it’s……I can’t put my finger on it. Oh how I wish I was a saint like Mother Theresa. Then I could sport a cape, call myself Father Tyrone and roam around town to children’s hospitals and hand out my cards to little Shriner kids. But then those kids would slip into being addicts or maybe worse, wind up like me, pacing in the throws of an OCF.

I could always decorate the sides and tops of a van, turn it into a scooby-doo vehicle, and wander American roads. I’m sure a car company  would donate a van and sponsor my journey. I would need no destination. But there would be no relief, only a bad back from sitting in the car so long. So why not turn it into a cooperative driving exercise with hundreds of card collectors taking turns driving? We would be spread out all over America, Canada too. We would be like a hand-over-the-baton-discover-America baseball card gang. We would have no destination, no ambition, no goal, only driving with baseball cards on our backs like cultural camels.

Or I could invest in a shredder machine, stuff all of my cards into the blades, fill up a bag with all the cardboard scraps, climb city hall’s ladder, roam the roof, and let the shredded cards float and fall. We could all do this, all over America, Canada too, at all the city halls. It would be like every city had won the World Series.



when life turns us into piñatas

baseball often gets accused of not being a sport. i guess because it lacks the bravery that say, oh i don’t know, tackling a tiger with one’s bare hands does as if anyone but ernest hemingway actually tackled a tiger with their bare hands. the debate over whether or not baseball is a sport is probably as useless as debating the existence of god or having an abortion. you either think it is a sport or you don’t. i’m not here to sway you one way or the other, but i am here to tell you that scraped knees happen often in baseball or they did when I played, and well, they suck, mostly because they take so long to heal. It takes days, sometimes weeks to build up that protective scab and even when it arrives, it often splits and cracks when you have to slide again and well, that starts the bleeding all over again. Of course, it’s not a life or death situation or maybe it is? Yeh, maybe the scraped knee or the stubbed toe or the dizziness from a hangover or a stomach cramp or a scratchy throat or a paper cut…..maybe any one of these seemingly minor ailments could be the beginning of the end and yet, at some point during the slow demise, ideally a ‘so what’ feeling will kick in followed by an abracadabra hammock sensation of swinging into nothing.


rabbi nachman and charles bukowki drink beer in heaven

There are exactly 1,346 excellent movies in the history of cinema. Just kidding. But there are a lot and even bad movies are good because they’re like three shots of whiskey. They suck the anxieties out of me. I don’t think about yesterday or tomorrow, about work or death, for a short while anyway.

I love the The Bad News Bears, the entire trilogy including Kelly Leak’s soft side revealed in Japan. Another one of my favorites is Papillon starring Steve McQueen. There’s a scene, early on, where the warden of the penal colony discourages the prisoners from masturbating. He says it drains strength or something like that. I thought about the passage for a long time. I even wrote it down in the back of a book.

I remember wondering at one point in my life if the look of someone in the tornado of an orgasm was the same as someone praying to god?

“It may be, but the hang over from masturbation was far greater,” I concluded. “In fact, there was no hang over at all from prayer,” I continued. “There was elevation.” Am I quoting myself? Is this masturbation?

At some point I stumbled on Rabbi Nachman from the Breslover Hasidim sect of Orthodox Judaism. He lived a long time ago. He not only acknowledged wet dreams and masturbation, but he offered a remedy for them. It was nothing more than the recitation of 10 specific psalms and heartfelt prayer to god, but what balls to promise that doing the deed wouldn’t make you go blind.

I like it when Joe Blow on one side of town with one set of values meets up with Frank Toe from another side of town with another set of  values. With that in mind, I considered Charles Bukowski for a second and his stance with regards to prostitution. He said it almost always ended up as a sort of masturbation and so he therefore discouraged prostitution, preferring good old-fashioned romance with another.

Nachman offered an alternative to masturbatory lust… god.
Similarly, Bukowski offered an alternative to prostitution aka masturbation……love someone else.

In both scenarios, there is reported to be lots of wrestling involved.


tv dinners



it’s not that i forgot to watch the world series or most of the regular season. i just didn’t care. it didn’t interest me. I got bored. but i did watch the short 1959 film pull my daisy and the narrator jack kerouac at some point asks if baseball is holy? i would say no or as holy as a stick of butter or a protractor is? i’ve heard of kids looking at a fenced in backstop and calling it a prison, and those same kids getting tired of rounding the same damn bases over and over like a monk getting tired of being reincarnated over and over again if you happen to believe in all that as opposed to retiring from the cycles and settling into a life of…..? what do most baseball players do when it’s all over? anything but play baseball. they hunt or fish or needle point or do whatever.


close call

The Brewers loaded the bases three times yesterday against the Mets.
They had runners on second and third two other times.
They had base runners in almost every inning in fact, and yet they could only score two runs.
It felt like the wasted opportunities would come back and bite them in the butt.
Then the Mets’ Wilmer Flores smashed a solo home run to lead off the 8th inning and suddenly it was 2-1.

Those wasted opportunities felt like giant 0cean waves roaring closer.
But then Brewers closer Corey Knebel whipped his 98 mph fastball, struck out two and holy mackeral, he now has 46 k’s in 26 innings.

The Brewers won 2-1 and all ocean wave superstitions were tossed out the window.
They head home to play the Dodgers  and well, it’s June 2nd and they’re in first place,
only 4 games over .500, but these moments are worth relishing.

An encouraging sign for the future is how many home runs (45) they hit in the month of April and how fewer (29) they hit in the month of May and yet, they kept winning.


flick your bic for one more song

It’s 1954, Christmas Eve, in Boise, Idaho and all young Petie Squibbles can think of is the organ he hopes to find under the Christmas Tree come morning. The idea of an organ sort of came as a surprise. It happened in Boston a few months earlier.

Petie and his pops were on a trip out east, to Fenway Park, to see Jimmy Piersall and the Red Sox play and much to Petie’s surprise came the soothing sound of an organ blaring in from the overhead stadium speakers. From that moment on, he dreamed of having one to play in their Idaho basement.

Is this realistic? Did kids really long for organs the same way they did a few years later with guitars, after seeing Elvis or The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show?

Organs are an old instrument, dating back to Ancient Greece. Apparently they were water organs back then, whatever that is, but what gets me pumped is that they were predominately played during races and games as opposed to strictly religious ceremonies. That seems to set the later stage for sporting events.

The first baseball team to have an organ was the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on April 26, 1941 when Ray Nelson played the pipe organ. The following year, the Dodgers made Gladys Gooding at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn the first ever full-time organist.

Other teams soon joined in the organ fun. The sound added to the ambiance of the stadium and even enhanced the experience of watching the actual game. At some point the organists began to mirror the actions on the field, almost like DJ’s spinning appropriate records and in some cases sarcastic ones. They provided musical commentary. One of the more well-known was Nancy Faust of the White Sox. She would play the Paul Leka song ‘Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye’ after the opposing pitcher gave up a home run or was in jeopardy of being taken out of the game.

More than anything else, I find the organ to be a very relaxing sound. I have fond memories of hearing ‘Roll Out the Barrel’ during the 7th inning stretch of Milwaukee Brewers home games. That was back when they played at County Stadium.

The baseball organs disappeared with the arrival of new stadiums in the early 1990’s or maybe it was because of all the commercial music and other pre-recorded noises piped in. Thankfully, interest has revived and slowly, teams have brought back the organ including the Brewers at Miller Park.

I don’t know if kids really dream of owning an organ, but former pitcher Denny McLain once had one and he recorded an album ‘Denny McLain at the Organ.’ I like the tune ‘Extra Innings.’ Every time I play the song’s last notes and think the song is over, I am always surprised when those same notes repeat, a reminder of the beauty of Extra Innings, that once hooked and reeled in by a game, I never want it to end.

The song reminds me of a game I watched on TV. It was the longest game in major league history, a game between the Brewers and White Sox at Comiskey Park. It was suspended on May 8, 1984 and finished the following night. The Sox won 7-6 when Harold Baines hit a home run off Chuck “my bags please” Porter.

25 innings in all.
43 hits.
Tom Seaver got the win.
I love extra innings.
I love the organ.