brewers baseball and things


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over at salem again

Bus cabins are not designed for sleeping, not with seats the size of pizzas, but they work wonders in a rain storm. Bigger crowds than church pews. All the onions, cheap perfume and cigarette stenches neutralize each other. Messes up the slide show in my eyelids, no more flashbacks.

I stand beside a tree instead, outside the bus cabin and pretend there’s a man inside, the tree that is, with a cane in one hand and a Blatz in the other. I imagine that eight years have passed since we first met and even now I hesitate to say the word “by accident” because I remember when his eyes transformed from barely slits to big bulges. His straight jaw opened so wide I spotted the uvula in the back of his mouth, but there was no pendulum swinging la dee da. It was quivering and spastic and all because I said “by accident.”

I’ve read bits and pieces of Carlos Castaneda, never an entire book, but enough to get the shape shifting drift and maybe I’m wrong, but this imaginary old man appeared on the brink of becoming a bear or vulture.

“Amalekites,” he said and then repeated the word four times, each softer than the previous with the last one a whisper.

I heard him say “a-mall-of-kites,” so that’s exactly what I parakeeted back to him, but I added a lilt to the word kites so he knew I was sincerely confused and not mocking him. My sensitivity worked like a golden key into his city. His eyes became slits again. He sat down and like an old preacher, shared some warnings with me.

“Amalekites are vampires,” he said. “But not suckers of blood. They lower your temperature instead, like fire extinguishers.”  

He spoke so clearly and looked so calm now-the polar opposite of minutes earlier. Made him all the more amazing like maybe his spastic side was a just a ruse to reel me in. He didn’t give me much chance to talk. Maybe that’s why I liked him. He  went on and on about caves and tree houses and how there was nothing sadder than a docked ferry-boat no longer in use, gathering weeds and what not.

“This summer, he continued, “I’m gonna build a tree house. I’m gonna build it with my bare hands. It’s my Eleusinian responsibility.” 

I coulda swore he said Elysian as in the after life or that make-believe field in New Jersey. Was it in Hoboken as in hobo kin? This was an exciting tangent. All the research grants and super smart people who wasted their breath debunking the Elysian Fields as if a believer really cared what a cynic or critic thought.

It was the end of May 2015 and I was no different than anyone else in that a part of my mind was often held up in a desperate panic.

I handed the made up old man an imaginary briefcase and filled it with objects that glowed in the dark. I asked him to bury them like a treasure between the Milwaukee Zoo and Ryan Braun’s restaurant-Braun’s 8-Twelve Bar &Grill which  is now permanently closed. He never hesitated, said it was “part of his Eleusinian responsibility.” The shovel and heave-ho ceremony went off without much fanfare. He staked toothpicks in a pyramid shape on the spot, the kind you find in a club sandwich, the ones with the colorful lace wrapped tightly around the top.

I didn’t bother telling him what we buried or why. The Brewers were 16-31 and he didn’t need to know that either. We never talked about baseball, but I bet he would have liked my why the hell not-nothing to lose intention.

It’s not like the Brewers are really threatening history. Four more wins and they tie the Cleveland Spiders who were 20-134 in 189 and down the road there’s the Detroit Tigers from 2003 to celebrate at 43-119.

The Giants are in Milwaukee and they won the first two games of the series and former Brewer Norichika Aoki is 7 for 9 including a home run on Monday. He has his average up to .320 and OB% at .396. The Giants hit three home runs last night and why am I talking about this like it’s a good thing? Flowers have a wide range of uses for life and death and apparently  there are 42 common edible ones.


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the brewers are 15-27

I feel like an obese person conveniently preaching that beauty is only skin deep. The Brewers lost last night, to the Braves, 10-1, but it’s gonna be ok. It always was ok.

The Middle East and Southeast Asia were carved up by drunk colonizers in the aftermath of World War II or maybe it happened decades earlier? Wasn’t the world once Austria Hungarian Ottoman Persian Assyrian Babylonian Etruscan Hebrew? I should keep my day job, but over there, in some anonymous Idaho stream maybe  there is extra terrestrial dust from long long even longer ago?

Makes me wonder why the Houston Colt .45s included a decimal point before their name and why there was no apostrophe between 45 and s. Was there some drunk grammar colonizing crew that decided exception to the rule or maybe it’s  me who doesn’t know the rules?  Should there be a decimal point before 45?

Apparently there is supposed to be one before .45 but why no apostrophe between 5 and s as in Colt .45s? I guess for the same reason there is no apostrophe between the r and s of Brewers as in Milwaukee Brewers. English is complicated.

The Colt 45s, excuse me the Colt .45s  played in Colt Stadium from 1962-64 before moving into the 8th wonder of the world Astrodome. Colt Stadium apparently featured rattle snakes on the field, horrific heat and humidity and  nasty swarms of mosquitos. Some called it a barn which was maybe generous because barns have hay for rolling around in and smooching and I suspect there was a baby or two conceived at Colt Stadium.

These mosquitos remind me of the black flies of quebec north which apparently drove the native americans on summer vacation to the Atlantic coast. Smart people. They fished for lobster and returned home after the flies were done doing there thing.

Some people think because the Brewers are playing so bad this year, they too should go on vacation, especially since summer hasn’t even started, plenty of time to make a casual escape as opposed to a secret Baltimore Colts sneak out of dodge situation. All the proper disguises could be put in place with minor league brewers replacing major league ones, but the uniform name backs would remain the same name. A little face make up her and there and no one would know the difference. And who would fill minor league rosters? Anyone. Local kids with nothing else to do for the summer. What a thrill for everyone involved. And current Brewer players would be happy as well, catching those lobsters along the eastern seaboard in anonymity.

Early on in the 2014 season way back when there was concern over Carlos Gomez’s swing so hard his helmet fell off or even worse-he dropped down on one knee, but not to pray. It was to keep from falling or maybe both serve the same purpose? But the concern went deeper than Gomez. It stretched up and down the roster. This was a team that didn’t take too many pitches and hardly ever walked.

I was late to OB%, but ode to my strat-o-matic baseball guru. Thank you.  He was the one who ordered Bill James pamphlets from the backs of baseball digests. It took me a long while, but I caught on.  OB% matters.

So April-May-June of last year was an enjoyable drinking binge with all that getting on base and timely hitting. We spiked our next morning coffees with whisky to prolong the feeling,  but we knew it wouldn’t last or the good pitching did, but there were no more ducks on the pond and as a result-no more runs in July-August-September and even fewer this year.

And so home runs are my best friends and that’s OK.  I love the Brewers. Win or lose is beside the point and excuse me while I sound like a fortune cookie cliche, but the journey is what matters and there’s a game almost every damn day and I can watch it if I feel like it and if I had a porch, I’d paint it and listen to a game on the radio and pop a top on a pabst.


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Salmon and sardinas and long balls gallore

There was a Padres Dodgers game a few years back, in LA, Vin Scully with the call. I taped the game on VHS, obsessed at the time to collect at least one broadcast of every team.  The Padres were winning by four, bottom of the ninth and apparently Dodger fans arrive to games late and leave early when the Dodgers are losing.

I don’t know if this is true and have no opinion on the matter except to say that if Detroit Tiger fans or Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRider  fans behaved like Dodger fans-however that is, life would be that much more boring.

I enjoy variety except when it comes to coffee, simple black coffee is good enough for me. So anyway,  the Dodgers were trailing and with every bottom of the ninth strike, another fan spilled towards the exits. One home run. No big deal. Still trailing by 3. Then another and fans on camera stopped in their departure tracks. Another homer followed and those same fans apparently kept their ticket stubs because they turned around and marched back in. And when the fourth blast in a row happened, tieing the game, there must have been fans already in cars and on highways or in buses slamming walls in regret.

Back-to back-back-back home runs and extra innings which ended on yet another home run by a Dodger by the guy originally drafted by the Red Sox and for the life of me I can’t remember his name. Oh well. this old age forgetfulness forces me to delve into detail a bit.

He was an infielder and had a wonderful Hargrovian habit of fastening and unfastening his batting gloves and then doing it again I think before every pitch. He was born in Mexico or had Mexican family and I know this because he talked about it last year in the Red Sox broadcast booth. He had just been inducted into the Sox HOF and was being interviewed by Jerry Remy. He talked a lot about being friends with Ted Williams who also had Mexican ancestry,

Anyway, those four home runs in a row were on my mind Tuesday night in Detroit because the Brewers almost did the same thing. It was the third inning, not the ninth, but three or four runs in any inning feels like Christmas- Braun, Lind and Ramirez kicked off the derby extending the Brewers lead  6-1 and aha! Nomar Garciaparra…that was the Dodger who hit the walk off home run. Why would I forget his name? Funny how memory works. Ignore it for a few sentences and the forgotten one feels abandoned and returns like a billboard.

So after the three Brewer bombs, Khris Davis launched one high and deep, but to dead-end center field at Tiger Stadium or whatever that place is called now, third out of the inning but if Davis pulls it, woulda coulda shoulda been 4 in a row. Anyway, the runs were enough for pitcher Jimmy Nelson who is enjoying an excellent second season.

And shortstop Luis Sardinas is enjoying an incredible debut. Acquired in the Gallardo trade with Texas, called up when Segura hit the DL, he’s 7 for 18, but he’s here for his glove, not his bat and well, he’s been outdueling gravity.

The Brewers are 15-26 and I went to the Costco wholesale thingamadjegee with a friend yesterday and the place feels like a country and maybe I’m naive, but I almost fell on my knees with all the quantity and so cheap, but how does it taste?

My friend scored a huge bag of frozen salmon and they were like steaks, maybe steroid injected, but ignorance is bliss and those huge thick pink juicy fishes were tasty and no bones. Hmmmm, whatever.  I was satisfied and ready to watch Kyle Lohse lead the Brewers to a sweep in Detroit and Lohse did his job, but the 8th inning eluded Brewers reliever Johnny Broxton.

This Brewers team is hitting lots of home runs and no disrespect to those who prefer the sit down meal with three forks and fancy wine glasses and civilized subtle nuance of manufacturing runs, but as for me-I’m a sucker for the long ball and the Brewers have hit 41 home runs  this year, 9th most in baseball. Kind of incredible considering it took them 3 weeks or something to hit 10, but that .284 team OB% is the worst in baseball but as my grandpa used to say, so it goes.


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a million more pilgrims

I don’t remember the White Sox ever following the Cubs into Milwaukee? Or maybe Harry Caray did after he kangarooed from south to north side broadcast booths. I doubt anyone made a patriotic stink about Harry having splintered Chicago loyalties. Seeing him behave like a kangaroo could probably end most civil wars.

Holy Cow was steam.

There were others too. Bill Veeck used to show up shirtless; beer in hand; sitting  in the Wrigley bleachers for a day game and when all was 9 innings over and the Cubs lost again, he’d hop an above ground train to the south side for his White Sox turn; an owner of the people for sure.

And since the mid 1990’s, anything seems possible with the promise land of inter-league play invading our lives. This Chicago followed by Chicago on the Brewers schedule must have been some sort of scheduling leap year magic because there was screaming in top halves and bottom halves of innings for over a week at Miller Park; one Chicago after another; this Cubs and then White Sox; did I already say that? Am I repeating myself. I must be punch drunk from this New York 1940’s feeling; a three team city in Bushville…you betchya!

Lake Michigan is steam. 

The Brewers finished the beer and whisky local dance with a 3-3 record; losing to the Cubs in game 1 and then taking 2 in a row and reversing it all against the Sox; winning in game 1 and losing the next 2.

Chicago (s) are always 90 miles away by bus, train or car until that day when tectonic plates shift or polar ice caps melt or maybe earth’s original inhabitants will return. Time to prepare that spaceship welcome runway with messages cut in our yards saying; “the beer is good and drinks served 24 hours a day.”

I sometimes vow that my next step will be in preparation for that day when petroleum runs out or we revert back to the articles of confederation and say the hell with all this sameness. I don’t like inter-league play; never did and probably never will, but I could get used to this Chicago followed by Chicago Milwaukee thing, barnstorming around by canoe or electric car. Let’s see; two Chicago’s, Detroit, St. Louis, maybe Minnesota, Toronto; Cleveland and Cincinnati; rivers connect to Pittsburgh and that makes 10  teams; enough for a league and another on the west coast and another along the Atlantic sea board-the original league but that leaves out Texas and Atlanta; Seattle and I love a lot about Seattle. 

Ah screw it, everything is fine the way it is, but I miss the 70’s and 80’s when the other league felt like a foreign country or another planet or galaxy and the World Series was really a crashing into other ideologies and teams and cities.

One of the great things about being bad are the fissures forming on the ground a team stands and the steam that pours up; like Hector Gomez at second base for the Brewers this year. He’s played in the majors before; with Colorado in 2011 and a bit with Milwaukee last year.  I didn’t know about him until this year. What an arm! Makes me think he should pitch. He catches the relay throw from Braun in right and throws a perfect missile to Jason Rogers at third for a put out. Shortstop Jean Segura was put on the DL yesterday so Gomez will hopefully find a way into the lineup this weekend.

Brewers had the day off Thursday and now in New York to face I think it’s fair to say one of the better teams in baseball so far; the New York Mets. The Brewers are 12-23 and owners of the worst winning percentage in baseball or at some point does it change names; to losing percentage?


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Ed Halicki rides the bus

The J line ran night and day and Storey Island sat in perfect darkness. There was also mom’s home-made soups and Dad’s steel drums, but everything felt like an incestuous privilege” to Dirk Whipple; everything except riding that J line.

Mom knew a doctor; not the kind with a stethoscope, but one with a knack for palms and moon risings. Stelphus was his name and he and Momma Whipple mapped out a plan to seduce Dirk downtown with a burger and fries as bait. Worked like a charm. Dr. Stelphus sat at an adjacent table and didn’t say a word until Dirk’s mouth slowed down and he began pushing fries around his plate.

Only then did Stelphus make his move; striking up casual conversation and 45 minutes later, Dirk’s palms had been read and time of birth revealed. It was Momma Whipple’s turn now. She handed Dirk a 5 dollar bill and told him to “go and fetch some ice cream for him and his new friend.”

Stelphus put his hand on Momma Whipple’s. “Dirk may never show an interest in your soup or daddy’s steel drums,” he explained, “But don’t you worry about him riding that J train into the dark tunnel and out onto higher ground. All that in and out is good for the boy” and when Dr. Stelphus winked at Momma Whipple, she threw her arms up and raced to get Dirk; regretting she’d ever came.

It was on the J ride home where Dirk found a pack of unopened Topps baseball cards which didn’t arouse any excitement in him, but he opened the pack just the same, hoping one hundred-dollar bills might be inside, but there weren’t and so he flung the cards one by one onto the subway floor until one card sucked his eyes in. The player was kneeling down; looking like a sniper and aiming his bat at someone not even in the picture. Underneath it said “Ed Kranepool.”

Maybe an assassin,” Dirk thought; excited to use a word he had just learned from the scarf dealer on Storey Island and less than a week ago too and now this picture? He flipped the card over and found a number in the upper left hand corner. It said 641. Dirk assumed all the cards had numbers for identification purposes like prisoners of war getting digits branded onto their wrists or forearms. 

Dirk wanted to have more and more of these cards and collect them in a big pile and climb the fire escape of a big building and set them all free. He scanned the subway floor and counted six cards plus the ones still in the pack; “a good start,” he thought. The next morning Dirk walked to Clifton’s Pharmacy and began the ritual exchange of coins for cards.

That’s where he met Simmy Timpkins and learned of the 726 cards needed to complete the 1980 set. Simmy was big around the ankles and had all kinds of connections; stuck his nose in everybody’s business so when the time came and Dirk needed only one more card, Simmy stepped in like a pimp and promised him #217 Ed Halicki if Dirk would do him “just one small favor.”

There was an electric pole at the corner of Palisades and Avenue T and that’s where a gang of monk parakeets had taken refuge. Simmy’s little brother wanted one of the lime green critters for a pet and if Simmy didn’t get it for him than Simmy’s older brother would perform messy justice on Simmy.

Dirk made his way to Avenue T, spotted the hairy nest high above and just before beginning to climb, he said in a whisper,  “screw it” and scanned the neighborhood for a pharmacy not named Cliftons. Dirk spent 40 dollars on cards that day; one pack after another and as luck or destiny would have it; he scored not one, but two Ed Halicki cards. 

Dirk went home and gathered up all the cards, waited till dark and climbed the fire escape of Doogan’s Flour factory. There must have been over 3,000 cards he set free with all those doubles and triples flying every which way; some twirling like helicopter leaves towards the river and others nose diving into backyards and a few even slipping through open windows and onto a moving bus. One of them was Ed Halicki. 


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day night and day

I have two TV’s,  so I guess in terms of world wealth, I am terribly spoiled. One of them is flat screen and that’s where I watch all the baseball games and movies. The other one is so old that it has one of those VHS bellies built into it. I keep it because I have some Brewer games on tape that are not available on You Tube like that game from I think 2005 when Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks both hit their first career home runs.

And that old TV freaking exploded Saturday morning. Thank goodness I reacted quickly; wrapping my arms around my head like Egyptian Mummy strands avoiding what I thought were going to be  flying shards of TV tube, but it was just a dream or I guess a nightmare, but what a loud BOOOOM and bizarre way to wake up on Sa-Turds day. The TV suddenly looked like a still and very peaceful Buddha.

The Brewers almost came from behind in the 9th to beat the Cubs Friday night. Lots of home runs too which may be like an uncivilized messy burger at a greasy spoon to some, but I like greasy burgers at local greasy spoons every once in a while and I ate one of those Saturday and well, the Brewers win when they hit home runs; always did and maybe always will. I like the fight in their fabric this past week.

The subway car is always something to exit; slipping through those Star Trek swooosh doors into an inverted cathedral; the massive cement underground; the up and down escalators way more than myth or metaphor with heaven and hell definite possibilities. I had a burger to eat and the Brewers another game to play. The afternnon passed and so did the evening. I digested that burger and by George, the Brewers beat up on the Cubs 12-4 with three more home runs; one of them the first in Jason Rogers’s career and heavens to Betsy it came as a pinch hit three run blast. Rogers looks a bit like Bill Madlock and he plays third base too.

The Brewers are 10-21 and I just saw a man wake up from under an evergreen tree.  He stretched his arms, yawned and apparently had a good night’s rest on pine needles and under the stars. Today is Sunday.


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and in whisky window smashing news…

Some called him a third baseman; others a bully or temper tantrum waiting to happen and a few added in liberal whispers, “but he comes from a broken family with a troubled past.”  The second baseman went as far as calling him evil and the manager? Well, he could care less. He just loved Gus Pincock for snaring line drives and hitting balls to all fields; “quicker wrists than Chef Rintoga chopping onions.” 

The catcher got sick and tired of all the bicker and started wondering why he joined the team in the first place. This ghost town was getting worse every year with soccer goal posts and drunk umpires, but for 120 bucks, the catcher figured what the hell.

There were 7 teams in the league and Pincock’s team-The Blues was the only one with uniforms; a 3 dollar t-shirt with Thurman’s Bar printed on the back and no one cared about being exploited. Not with drinks being free for players after or before the game or whenever anyone felt like an attitude adjustment. 

There was a professor on The Blues who didn’t play much, mostly as a pinch hitter but he crowded the plate and could work a walk; made all kinds of obscure literary references too; ones that no one knew or cared about, but he did compare Pincock to a Dostoevsky character; said he was bent for hell and had it coming to him and well; that resonated with the team.

The left fielder never shut up. Didn’t matter if he was in the field or on the bench; a non stop babbler; obsessed over Pincock and determined to enlighten the entire team why Pincock was so cruel. He used all kinds of isms and ologies and analysis; even walked out to the bullpen and lit candles, but no one listened; except Pincock. He loved the attention. It satisfied a part of him that had never been satisfied; not even as a child.   

The second basemen suffered a crushed spirit after Pincock cornered him and performed some magic manipulative tongue. Little loud mouthed bastard had met his match in Pincock and what did he do?  He quit the god damn team; didn’t get his money back either, but he did file a complaint with the antidefecation league (ADL), accusing  Pincock of being evil and insisting something be done about it. The ADL told him this was back alley baseball; a free for all. If you want something done; do it yourself. The second baseman was never heard from again.

The few fans who hung around loved the way Pincock kicked dirt around at third base. Kids learned how to shake their ass when they walked; just like Pincock and they felt like sheriffs in town and this proved to be Pincock’s ruin because all that flattery and worship made him soft. All that praise weakened his spirit.

Pincock lost his edge and suffered at the plate. No one man makes a team, but run production dropped out of sight and the losses piled up; put the manager  on edge and into motion; a crab on the prowl seeking revenge on whoever had spiked the town’s morale; making Pincock seem so weak.

The skipper landed outside the Saturn Lounge; doesn’t remember how he got there; probably another whisky blackout, but there he was; out back; beside the river; dropping coins in a beggar’s bowl and that’s when moonlit water blinded him for a quick second and that shimmer seeped into his talk as he reached the rail and the bartender liked his talk and slipped him a whisky. His heart warmed and up through the woodwork came Pincock; looking like a playboy cursed with the looks of Jim Morrison; of the Doors; not the Pirates.

There was no hate in Pincock’s breath or brain and the skipper had no agenda; other than getting whisky fire brained and this coulda been heaven the way they stumble drunked outta there laughing up a noise storm. Pincock grabbed a broom; ready to duel the sky and he failed in his attempt to knock the moon away, but the skipper’s work was done. Tomorrow was gonna be different.

Pincock woke up like a werewolf in a nearby field and didn’t remember a damn thing; and even if he did he wouldn’t have  cared or said sorry. He never did. That made him feel weak and vulnerable. He stood up; shook off the dead grass and felt  invincible again. His ego had returned and so did his edge. He got into a fight with a fan later that day and soon slipped into a hitting streak.

The Brewers split with those world-famous Dodgers; beating Kershaw and then losing to Greinke and then beating someone and then losing to someone else and that’s not bad. Counsell is 2-2 as Brewers manager and 9-20 overall.

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