brewers baseball and things


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only the cracker jack gets old

It’s never easy to walk on snow, especially after it’s been smoothed over by a hundred human feet. It’s a cartoon nightmare, being chased and forever slipping, going nowhere. Time for sedation. Time for Number 9 on Internet Audio ArchivePhil Rizzuto’s play-by-play from Fenway Park, Yankees-Red Sox, August 16th, 1958, 10 years to the day Babe Ruth passed away.

“Baseball names fade away,” Rizzuto says, “But the Babe will be one of the last to go.”

Fade away? If I forget Von Joshua, Kent Tekulve, Bob Galasso, Dick Davis, what is the porpoise of a GPS? Who needs a destination! I’ll sit in the dark.

“Williams struggles against Don Larsen,” Rizzuto explains. It’s apparently a timing issue and I trust Rizzuto. He says Larsen never pitches from the wind-up, but with a runner on base, he has to slow down, come to a complete stop, sneak a peek at the runner, keep him honest. Larson gets real deliberate and so the timing of Williams returns and so does the law of averages. The splendid splinter drives in the first run of the game, a deep sac fly.

It’s 4:30 pm. I’m not really walking in the snow, more like sliding, I’m almost home, but don’t really want to be there.

Jimmy Piersall dances off first base a few innings later and keeps dancing. Rizzuto takes notice and so does Larsen, his mind so messed up that Casey Stengel screams from the Yankees dugout, “Get the batter. Forget the runner.” But Larson doesn’t listen.  He walks the opposing pitcher – Tom Brewer on four pitches. It’s the third inning. 

Radio is radio. Probably hasn’t changed since August 5, 1921 when the Pirates beat the Phillies 9-5 and Harold Arlin of KDKA Pittsburgh brought fans not really there…….there.

Teleportation?

It’s getting dark and I wish Jarry Park was still in Montreal and some guy named Billy Eau Claire would drag a fold out lawn chair and AM transistor radio up St. Laurent Street and recline where first base once was, for 2-3 hours and move to a new spot the next day and continue counter-clockwise every successive day, around an infield that didn’t exist, an outfield too, a place for pinch hitters as well, defensive subs, a starting rotation, set up and long man, closer, and every 25 days, a cycle of recline would be complete and Billy Eau Claire would start over….a Jarry Park Mirage,
root root rooting for the tree,
for the home team, 

a beggar with open palms.

And local kids would find out about Billy Eau Clair like they would find out about death and they would brave bad weather to go and see this curiosity sprawled out on a lawn chair. Billy would be glad to see them and talk about extinct teams and his favorite kind of donuts and the swimming pool on the other side of right field at Jarry Park. 

“where Willie Stargell performed magic tricks,” Billy would explain. “Every time Stargell stepped to the Jarry plate, the pool emptied of people, scattered ’em like roaches.”

The kids would move closer to Billy’s lawn chair and Billy would feel energized, a vampire with new blood.

“Stargell was already part of the city’s collective DNA by that point,” he would continue to say. “After hitting a few bombs into that pool, swimmers were scared, bump on the noggin cartoon scared.”

And the kids would forget why they came in the first place. Billy would read it on their faces like braille.

“Why not replay entire seasons,” Billy would then suggest or insist. “Blast broadcasts from megaphones rigged up on street corners, game after game, a serial summer in the middle of winter, in the middle of now here or there, time melting in the wind.

The kids would know this to be impossible. Billy would too. There would be 154 games to collect, 162 from 1962 onward, too many, but the obstacle would be delicious, activate their Hunter and Gatherer gene. There would be back alley trades.

“Give you the first five innings of Rizzuto 1958 for a Bob Uecker 1986 – Danny Darwin’s complete game against the Angels.

I eventually made it home. Recharged my MP3 player and somehow fell asleep. Morning arrived. I didn’t feel free. I never do. There’s a river to cross. I forget what color, but there is number 12 on internet audio archive…the first ever Mets game, a cockadoooodledooooo to another day,
April 1962,
WGY Schenectady,
Sportsman’s park, St Lewey, Mizoooo-eeee. 
Bob Murphy calling the action, the first inning anyway.Roger Craig is on the mound for the Mets. Don Zimmer at third and Richie “put the cigarette out before bed so your Ash don’t burn” Ashburn in center field at the definite twilight of his career, his 15th and final year and what a year it would be, at 35 years young, almost 400 at bats, a .306 average and .424 OB%. I love expansion.

Minnie Minosa is in the batting order, for the Cardinals and Chicago is in Houston to “play the Colts,” says Bob Murphy. I guess he forgot about the .45s. They never had an apostrophe. It’s only the bottom of the first. The left field fair pole is 350 feet away from the plate. Right field pole only 310. How many home runs did Musial hit at Sportsman’s Park? Solly Hemus is a coach for the Mets. He used to manage the Cardinals. What a name….Solly Hemus….like the name of hamburger. Give me a Hemus with all the toppings.

This could go on forever. I gotta get to work. It’s never easy to walk on snow but it does seem easier with headphones.

 


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before and after the oscar mayer factory

A sniff of whiskey never did the trick. He needed a sip or swig, to ease back into his body, feel good in his skin. He never owned a pair of combat boots, but after a half pint of whatever, he felt cock sure just the same, in Wal-Mart Velcro sneakers, always ready to help an old lady across the street or drop coins in a panhandler’s hat. And when the untouchables – sexy types with strut and cleavage looked him over, he had no idea it was because his zipper was down.

His name was Dirk. He loved tall buildings. I loved baseball. We became friends. His parents were immigrants, from Düsseldorf and Dirk’s English still had a lot of German in it, sounded like Spock, real robotic, with no intonation or lilt. He was destined to be a leader. We sat together on his apartment patio and set fire to all his doctor diagnoses – OCD, manic-depressive, border line personality, and prescriptions galore. We burned it all, a bonfire with all the screaming, dancing, and spontaneous chanting of any ancient ritual. The booze helped too.

We walked to the bus station the next day. Dirk was heading west. We planned the bonfire send off as a feather plucking ritual. That’s what we called it anyway, to toss burdens over board and sail on a little less top heavy or so we hoped anyway. His parting gift to me was a Brewers seat cushion from around 1976.  He said it was Barrel Man looking nice and fat, with a beer barrel for a chest, oooomph in his swing. I had no idea he knew about Barrel Man or oooooomph in a swing. I didn’t say a thing. I just knew I would miss him, Dirk that is.

There’s nothing lonelier than a bus station at midnight when your best friend is suddenly gone. I learned a lot in that moment, maybe more than I ever did at school, that friendships are mine fields, intimacies a nuclear war. An amusement park is not always amusing, a merry-go-round not always merry and well, sometimes it’s better to be a voyeur. It’s safer and less painful to be under a tree, on a bench pretending that the horses on the merry-go-round are baseball player’s heads bobbing up and down and moving so soft and silk like satin sheets passing in the night, slipping each other notes in some endless sequence, connect the dot, cause and effect trailing backwards to some big bang or magic beginning and who really knows what happened at the intersection of blueberry and 3rd avenue this afternoon, so Stengel gets fired by Lou Perini in 1943 or 44 after he took over the Boston Braves and Stengel goes on to manage the Yankees and Lew Burdette winds up on the Yankees too. I don’t know if he was drafted or signed or picked up hitchhiking, but Stengel didn’t like him, Burdette that is and made damn sure the Yankees got rid of him and so Burdette winds up on the Braves who were in Milwaukee at that point because Perini moved his team there and lo and behold the Yankees ride the train to Milwaukee in 1957 because the Yankees and Braves were getting ready to play in the World Series together or not really together because Stengel called Milwaukee “Bushville” and it had nothing to do with George W. Bush because he was only 11 years young at the time. Stengel was making a funny at Milwaukee’s expense and they got hot under the collar. Brew city went ape shit and Burdette went 3-0 with a minuscule era in the series and the freaking Braves beat the Yankees and won the Series.

But before any of that happened, the Oscar Mayer factory was founded I think in Chicago in the early 1900’s and it’s current headquarters are in Madison, Wisconsin and at some point an Oscar Mayer Weinermobile was built and then a series of Weinermobiles were built and this has nothing to do with Stengel-Perini-Burdette and the 1957 Series or it does, but there are some dots missing in the cause effect sequence.

 


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How Bill James taught me to love again

No one told me about Darrell Porter, but it wasn’t like he was a secret, certainly not in Milwaukee. The Brewers made him the fourth overall pick in the 1970 draft. He made some noise as a rookie in 1973, was an all star in 1974, again in ’78 and then 1979 happened.

I had Porter’s 1980 baseball card, all star strip across the top, autograph print in the middle, Royals banner along the bottom with a nice action photo, Porter in pump mode, ready to hit the ball.

It was like any other card in my collection; from the Jackie Jensen 1959 to Jim Brewer 1975, in that I turned it over often, and stared mindlessly at all those numbers and details about a player’s life, sometimes accompanied by a cartoon like the 1981 Harold Baines, “Was first noticed by White Sox as a 12 year old playing Little Lg. Ball.”

I later learned it was Bill Veeck who noticed Baines, but back to Porter. I never noticed that he walked 121 times in 1979, but then again, how could I? The 1980 Topps was like any other Topps set, from 1952 to 1980;  walks were never included. Only in 1981 with Donruss and Fleer flooding the market were walks given their due, and by all three companies too.

But in 1980, walks were nowhere to be found. Still, no excuse. I should have known, since I subscribed to The Sporting News and the paper must have praised Porter’s 1979 season all summer long – the walks, 112 RBI’s, 100 runs scored, 20 home runs.  Crazy numbers for a catcher, maybe one of the best seasons ever for a guy who also caught 157 games. I could have gone all Darrell Porter Puffs Crazy over those 121 walks, but I didn’t and Bill James didn’t help matters.

His annual abstracts were no longer back of baseball digest mail order specials. They weren’t mainstream either, but his wisdom was out the bag, flood to soon follow. I should have been ashamed for not knowing, for not caring  about walks. My Little League coach turned the third base coach’s box into a podium to preach, “Good eye. A walk’s as good as a hit,” but I didn’t listen. I was too in love with all the pennants and posters plastered across my bedroom wall and UL Washington’s toothpick, the submarine delivery of Tekulve and Quisenberry, flamingo front leg kick Harold Baines, one flap down Jeffrey Leonard, and so on and so on, a Mickey Rivers bat flip, Cooooooooop, all the colors of baseball.

My strat-o-matic guru tried to convince me. He praised Porter’s 1979 season and preached walks, home runs per at bat, right-lefty splits as keys, but I didn’t listen. I was still in love with what I wanted to love and sure, every so often I got lucky and Rob Deer, one of my favorites happened to crush lefties, walk a lot, hit home runs efficiently and what a throwing arm so his strat-o card reflected this, but that was no way to run a strat-o team or my life, bowing to luck and love, but the duo worked wonders, melted time and removed boredom.

But one year, I must have looked in the mirror one too many times because a cold breeze hit me, to the bones. I took a stance, became an anti-sabermite, nay saying statistical research as somehow not human or not what baseball was really all about, an us versus them world I lived in, but bubbling up from the ground came more than Bill James. There were dozens and hundreds of number crunchers who could also write with flare and a sense of humor and so life became a pigeon’s neck – grey with a turquoise and berry shimmer, a best of both worlds with numbers and instincts twirling together a barber shop pole, love fueling the machine.

I joined SABR, discovered there was more than statistical research there and signed up to write the Gary Roenicke BIO, as part of the massive SABR Bio Project undertaking, to preserve every player, coach, executive, mascot, organ player, anyone involved in baseball since the big bang, I guess Ross Barnes blast on May 2, 1876?

The Orioles front office provided Roenicke’s phone number and a breakthrough happened midway through our conversation. I pointed out that he was never platooned, that most of his home runs were hit against righties and Roencicke perked up and agreed. I felt so damn smart, sabermetrically smart. What a boost to my mathematically challenged mind. Of course, my insight was in reality no insight at all, just a baseball reference observation under home run splits, but still, my strat-matic guru, would have been proud.

I think the entire interview is posted on this blog somewhere. It’s also on you tube. I finally got around to writing the full Roenicke BIO and last week, it was accepted and published on the SABR site, http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/1b9f0200

 


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cactus sour

The odds were stacked against him, arriving out of Momma’s dugout, feet first and all. “Backwords birth” is what the crossword puzzle people declared, doctors too. And those wearing capes looked east with a blank stare, wondering.

The government issued stacks of coupons to the newborn’s Sabermetrically inclined adoptive parents. Too proud to smile from the windfall received, they picked up a pencil instead and checked a box indicating, “maybe a second baseman, but definitely a right-handed batter.”

It was a slap in the face to the birth parents who were still on hand, sipping from Vodka flasks at this point, perturbed from the smell of certainty and  ready for fisticuffs, but no such luck. The world was nose to the grindstone, in books that is, measuring the baby’s forehead dimensions and comparing it to the moon phase and size of the wind and what not, with algorithms and formulas, calculators in holsters, curtains still not raised.

Johnny Laws surrounded the room, kept the peace and the biological parents were scooped up, bear hugged, gagged, handcuffed and escorted out of St. Tekakwitha Hospital. They were doomed, forced to see their own immortality/offspring/son slip like water between their fingers. They watched with blurry eyes from the back of a paddy wagon. They kicked and screamed like their newborn was supposed to be doing, but he was already sedated, with the sound of papers crunching and sweet sweet, oh so sweet numbers, secure.

And so Mom and Dad set fires to dry logs from afar. The slept under the stars, listened to the wind and heard what maybe they didn’t want to hear, that to bat left-handed was lightning, almost divine, but right-handed? That was a hack saw hanging in a garage, dusty against the wall with no shadow to style one’s stance or swing.. A life like that could send a kid down a switch blade path or even worse, a glue sniffing, wrist slitting dead-end.

But Mom and Dad never lost hope, turning their hearts and hands and rhymes towards the right side of the street, towards Hornsby and Harmon-Killebrew that is and, Clemente, Aaron, and Madlock. Molitor, Biggio, and Lansford with a Cap and a Downing to wash it all down. They were feeling ALL RIGHT and so they sat by candlelight, so serene, hoping their kids’ breath hadn’t gone foul. They bought seeds of all sorts and dropped ’em like guerrilla rebels do ideas – everywhere – whispering and begging to the wind for someone to knock on their estranged kid’s door, with magic potions, of love and hitting streaks.

Years passed without a peep, but  Mom and Dad never lost hope. They took to dancing and singing around camp fires and forgot all about the misery when one day, as sure as a last chance saloon and a bottom of the ninth rally all wrapped into one, a letter arrived, sounding like trumpets too. All the notes were there, of hydrogen making water and unfortunately, a bomb too. It was a senior dance, something about Sally Fappafore.

She had swept the boy off his feet, became the object of his desire, but she wore a shower curtain for a dress, the see-through kind and her every step persuaded the others along the runway, raccoons and cats too, so the boy slipped out the armory dance hall and crossed back to the other side of the tracks, to the only friend he ever had, the one who had quit high school and found a 9-5 warehouse gig and apartment overlooking the cemetery.

And together, they did what they always did. They bowed down to the vodka blue at moonlight and with the wind pouring in from the cemetery, they rolled strato-matic dice. And all the odds and possibilities were as vast and spicy as an Arizona desert and the kid felt at home and so he was.

 


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boxscore whispers with orchestra

Cal Tjader sounds especially groovy when staring at a Mark Fidrych baseball card in my hand. Maybe it’s the colorful percussion, the rap tap tapping vibration and echo into forever. Cripes, I could clean a million toilets to this sound. Or Maybe it’s Fidrych, his hair like golden vines and that smile. Maybe he helps all music sound the way it’s supposed to sound, when all the instruments and minds and hearts and personalities merge and click in that amazing same zone, flying wherever it’s gonna flow, be it a band, a baseball team or the heave-hoe gang, 9-5.

This time of year inspires all kinds of addictions/delights in me. I used to try and fit them into some nice, neat seasonal explanation of slips, blame it on mythical northern beasts twirling ice cranks or something, lowering us real slow, into a deep well, 30 feet beneath the surface and our eventual cold winter death resting place. 

“Sun sets before 4 PM!” screams the beast in moooohahahaha voice.

“Deal with it!”

And so that’s when the surrender and subsequent binge really kicks in. Pass the glue or bible, both. I shut the blinds and open a book, read a few lines of James T. Farrel’s “My Baseball Diary” and G-d I love that book and I can’t wait to read it again, page by page, word by wonderful word,  but I need something more instant right now and so the dream of far away mental places, the one awarded when reading is kicked into a snowed in future. I turn on the computer instead and download everything, regular season games galore. Forget hunting and gathering. This is hoarding season all over again. I feel nine years old, satisfying that previous desire satisfied by baseball card collecting, then records, then books, back to baseball cards, baseball only books, records again, round and round, surrounded by a kingdom of materials with all existential doubts squashed, and now it’s downloads, you tube regular season baseball game downloads.

USB sticks lack the same luster as baseball cards sprawled Japanese hand fan across a table, but the earth probably looks like a dirty marble when spitting sunflower seeds adrift on Pluto.

I could use a beer or forget that, I know what’s best for me – Tiger Stadium, June 28, 1976. Mark Fidrych on the mound. ABC Monday Night baseball. The Pirates Bob Prince and Milwaukee’s own, Bob Uecker with the call.

In the pregame intros, Billy Martin says, “Born in Berkeley, California, died in New York,” kicking things off with a comical bang! Alex Johnson in the Detroit lineup, so is Ron Leflore and Rusty Staub, all players we have previously discussed here and now I get to see them in the flesh.

And for the Yankees, Mickey River’s motion inspires more than any painting or symphony. I’m open minded to a Thelonius Monk or Mozart ensemble I may have never heard, but for now, that bat twirl, hunchback and herky-jerky groove of the other Mick….Mickey Rivers, well, he defies all the hubalooo in sports about grace in motion and yet, Mickey Rivers was fast, real fast and certainly graceful, in a Mickey Rivers sort of way.  I love his name too, a Mickey in the River as in a spiked drink floating down stream, hurdling the hubaloooo of an astrological prison.

The game itself was billed as America “Meet the Bird,” for the first time, after a month of May and early season fevers and he didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t so much his sinking fastball, the speed of those pitches and their location or maybe it was? But it was also and will always be, of course, those delicious mannerisms and his contagious enthusiasm – his love of pitching, love of his teammates, love of life, TO LIFE, LeFidrych!!!! Forever, may you never rest!

A big high-five thank you to you tube uploader – MLB11 for his never-ending kindness, sharing all the great moments with baseball fans all across the time warp.

 


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knuckleballs for christmas

Edwin Jackson was born in Germany so I assumed his dad was in the military and I was right, but Jackson’s father was a cook, not a soldier and this confused me because, as wikipedia accurately states in an article from  seattlesportsinsider.com,

“Jackson is one of a minority of MLB starting pitchers who relies almost exclusively on two pitches, a mid-90s fastball and an effective power slider.

A chef for a father, spice holster at his side and his son becomes a two pitch pitcher! So much for nature! So much for nurture! Parents just set the table I guess, but Jackson has packed his bag 9 times, from the Dodgers to the Rays to the Tigers to I forget the rest, the Cardinals and Cubs, a no-hitter, a World Series ring, and now the Atlanta Braves, and that sounds very much like a military lifestyle  vagabond to me and at 32, he has a chance to top the king of vagabonds – Octavio Dotel who packed his bag 13 times-13 different caps. Maybe Jackson will learn how to throw a knuckle ball this Christmas, in some care free, fun-loving moment, he tosses crumpled up wrapping paper beside a breezy heat duct resulting in the ball dancing giggle stick motions and another toss and another and Merry Christmas Edwin!

Russel Branyon packed his bag 13 times as well, but only played for 10 teams. I watched him hit the longest home run in Miller Park history-IBM Tale of the Tape said 480 feet. He hit it off Greg Maddux, but to dead center, thump against the scoreboard. Could have traveled 600 feet and we wouldn’t have known the damn difference. But Rob Deer blasting one into a 20 mph wind clearing the County Stadium left field bleachers 13 years earlier and we had something to stare at and watch disappear and we never really stopped staring either, still soaring in our minds.

But Branyon is 15th on the all-time list for home runs per at bat, tied with Mickey Mantle. And Ron Kittle is 22nd and Rob Deer is 45th and that ties him with Mo Vaughn, but what really yanks my mind is Hank Aaron in 1973, 40 home runs in 392 at bats.

I always assumed Ruth and Aaron were real far apart in terms of age, time period played and what not, probably a consequence of our TV with Ruth coming at us in fast paced black and white reels and Aaron much more modern with full length games on you tube, Fulton County Stadium color, but there were only 39 years between Ruth’s last at bat and Aaron breaking his record, some sort of logic in that they were born 39 years a part on February 6, 1895 and February 5, 1934, three cheers for Aquarius!

I watched the White Sox and Brewers from July 21, 1983, the other day and Tony La Russa managed the same way he later managed the A’s and Cardinals, the long and wonderful way, the slow pace molasses way, Britt Burns recovering from a sloppy start, finding a groove, lasting into the sixth inning, when La Russa enjoyed an idea and then another and so on, replacing Burns with Hickey, Barojas, Agosto and Lamp and Tidrow warming up in the pen and the Sox still lost in a see saw game. Moose Haas started for the Brewers, had just signed a contract extension, a black belt in Taekwondo and practitioner of magic, love that Haas, but he didn’t figure in the decision. Harvey Kuenn was ejected. Fisk and Luzinski hit home runs. Molitor struck out three times, bounced into a double play, but did hit a chopper over Vance Law at third to drive in the go ahead run. Brewers win 7-6. Yount had 4 hits and 3 RBI’s. Jim Slaton with the save.

Only the names change over the years, but you tube is a fortunate peek into both a tree ring past and a tree top future with every player’s vagabond nature disguised by that not so regular season game, each dressed in perfect colors cooperative and utopia, a baseball commune, one from the sea and another land, one rich and one poor, all five continents. Evan Gattis doing his best Greg Luzinski. A poet and number cruncher, all in the same dugout, headed for the same disaster – the 27th out and then what do we do?

 With a Doug Moe approach, anything is possible.


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grandma molasses and the eternal tangent

I figure seven out of ten baseball fans once upon a time believed in Abner Doubleday and a few years later, the same seven out of ten denied ever believing in the Santa Klaus equivalent, but the post office still keeps decent hours. I pulled a single sheet of paper out of the mail slot and printed with blue letters was,

“The alternate route to Finland is through the Panama Canal.”

I had hoped to establish contact with an arctic resident, but received the Arctic Institute’s inaugural pamphlet instead. So much for sending Brewers cards to the north pole, increase the odds of a World Series. The mailman might freeze, but if there’s a zip code, they promise. But it wasn’t meant to be. I looked away, stared at a spider making its way up the side wall of my bathtub or trying to anyway, getting very close to the ledge and then falling back down to the bottom, to start over again. Happy? Hard to tell, but definitely motivated.

I looked back at The Arctic Institute pamphlet. It was a travel agency disguised as a think tank. The polar ice caps were melting and trade routes would be opening. The detour through the Panama Canal would not be necessary. There were winter amusement parks to construct. Families would be Arctic bound vacationing real soon.

There was also a small box at the bottom, also in blue letters. “Baseball was invented in Baker Lake, Nunavut, population 1,872.” Maybe there was some Nordic pen pal activity going on and this was his way of communicating?

Baker Lake is in the Kivalliq southern region and July high temps are a surprising 63 degrees, making baseball plausible. But one month can’t turn 1,872 people or a decent percentage of them junky-eyed over a bat and ball game. Or maybe it can? Maybe it only takes one day or one  hour or a mini second flash with the right gust of wind.

Baseball is slow and life in Nunavut must be slow too. Both places like chess boards with scarecrows arranged in nice, pleasant-looking patterns, dancing every so often with pinball  precision, but not all at the same time. Turtles. Patience. Long life. Packed into DNA capsules disguised as tumbleweed and blown across time, landing inside Civil War participant’s brains as a compatible counter to all the bloodshed, a great gift to weary travelers – some Nunavut-fueled baseball.

Ten balls for a walk and then 9 and 8 or 7 and eventually 4. Many attempts to speed up the game, scar Mike Hargrove’s legacy. Ditto for his pitcher equivalent – Pete Vukovich and his popscickle stick dirt removal routine (s). Long live the cat and mouse. There seems to be some sort of internal device within baseball’s subconscious that rises up and destroys  any attempt to speed up the game. Nunavut in origins.

These political rallies to speed up at bats arrived around the time of instant replay, when umpires handed over their deity badges and final judgments to the machine. They gather in coffee clutches instead, wearing headsets and waiting word from New York, for all the angels to be seen. Time ticks. Games stretch. And maybe umpires grow empathy wings towards batters with a new understanding of what it’s like to be a turtle and go slow, let batters do whatever they like in and around the box. Time ticks. Games stretch some more. Nunavut in origins.

I wonder what it would be like to have no expectations and only some seal blubber or a caribou kill to hope for. A rebuilding season. The breathing probably mellows. Care for some AM radio with your evening? Yes I would and “Josh Collmenter’s overhand motion is rooted in him throwing tomahawks as a kid in Homer, Michigan.” I’m suddenly more satisfied than I was after eating a hamburger.

Animal furs in Nunavut were maybe fashioned into reliable uniforms, the bones as bats to blast ice balls over stalactite ledges. Games played all blinding blizzard long, to pass the time, until melt season and more baseball, of a different sort because of  puddles and pick off moves, runners slipping. A spike in errors. Runs galore. Defense on everyone’s mind.

I remember Rain delays. We slipped into County Stadium’s lower box seats and stared at the tarp, and sometimes didn’t say a damn thing. We were just glad to be so close to the field I guess and years later loitered at Greyhound Bus Stations, no ticket or destination. We just soaked up all the hellos and goodbyes.

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