brewers baseball and things


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there’s always larry dierker

I could always scream “A CHANCE” when my eyes open and breath and voice return in the morning, but I escape into my own thoughts instead. I slither in the sheets and eventually get the courage to sit up; rock back and forth; shake dust from my mind.

Then it’s off to the computer and before that, it was off to the tv and before that my mouth-watering for cereal and before that; where’s my mommy?

I flee to the bathroom or coffee pot nowadays. I’m on auto pilot I guess; maybe even brainwashed by hope because I could have said Booo and stayed under the blanket; played games all day, but I go to work.

I’d like to see or hear or smell the world like it was on the first day of big bang creation way back when and I know my desire is impossible and dangerous because of the potential lusts and addictions rising from the ruins of my frustration.

Snow mounds on the local baseball field look like incurable diseases.

I love coffee in the morning and the chocolate Danish and second coffee during my 15 minute work break and beer after work feels like summer vacation when I was 13 years young and just bought Combat Rock.

I loved Winkie’s Variety Store store; the racks and rows of toys and board games and aquariums filled with fish; mostly goldfish but exotic enough. And the entire front section devoted to candy and bubble gum and Topps, Donruss, Fleer and magic tricks and perfect rubber baseballs to play strikeout.

But the windows were thick cubes and you couldn’t really see through them; only colors all smeared and distorted and if you squinted or shifted to the right or left, the distortion got worse or better; depended on what you wanted; a carnival mirror or reality; maybe the same thing.

It always felt a little suspicious to me because you couldn’t see inside; could never know what was going on in there and that’s exactly how I feel now. I can’t look back inside and see what’s going on in there. I’m cut off from the past and it depresses me. I’m stuck in the prison of now, but if I accept it like death, maybe gratitude rushes in like buffalo and Larry Dierker comes to life again and it feels like the first time.

It’s not the inside of Winkie’s Variety Store. It’s not the first day big bang creation either, but it is September 1964 and that’s close enough.

Maybe everyone had a friend resembling Lawrence Edward Dierker or maybe that’s just me trying to sound clever, but Dierker did have perfect teeth and a smile on crash course with squinty eyes and freckles; a recipe for rabble rouse always the first to do; always the most outlandish.

Larry Dierker turned 18 on September 22, 1964. He also appeared in a major league game on that day; as a starting pitcher for the Houston Colt .45’s. There were younger ones; maybe Bob Feller? and definitely Joe Nuxhal who was 15 I think, but any teen on the burial mound blows me into the next state of mind and Dierker struck out Willie Mays in his first inning.

His overall debut wasn’t so good; but he pitched 2 more times out of relief in 1964 and didn’t allow a run in 6 innings. 

Maybe the Colt .45’s were desperate with nothing to lose; not afraid to make asses of themselves; no reputation to uphold or preserve.

The Brewers traded Yovani Gallardo this off-season. He was up for free agency after 2015 anyway but there is still a year to fill and Gallardo was drafted and developed by the Brewers; appeared as opening day pitcher the last 5 or 6 years. He probably won’t appear on a stamp, but he was the ace and he is gone.

Move over Yo and let drafted and developed Jimmy Nelson take over.

Nelson endured a roller coaster debut in 2014; 82 hits in 69 innings and this year could be a flop or fantastic; and so could today and that’s exactly how I like it; the unpredictability keeps me from looking over my shoulder into those window cubes.


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maybe i heard a train

I’ve been working on an opera; can’t get past the first line, but I sing it anyway in my morning shower. Ichiro has a hammer. He wakes up way before the dawn.”

The stage scene is all dark during the repetition of these two lines. I sing them 5-7 times in high and low voices. Then the light crawls across the scene and a low baritone narrator voice sounds,

“As wind stirs the tall sugary grasses of Toyoyama, a father begins to play xylophone with Japanese soup spoons. The eyes of Ichiro have opened.”

Then I say things like “Mangos and mandrakes and manchurians” and  shut the computer down; deciding to ration my search engine to one every 72 hours or so; ya know that chaotic infinite arrow; beginning with wonder about a garlic skin’s waterproofosity and meandering four searches later to early Aryan Indus valley plumbing genius. Those pre-Hindus knew how to get rid of human waste. Incredible engineers.

I slide over to the bookshelf; time to get hen pecked by some books; maybe Survival of the Birch Bark Canoe by John McPhee again; hijacked by Henri Vaillancourt’s bare hands; building a canoe from scratch it must be spring.

Or screw it. There’s Jim Brosnan’s two books; both of them written in earshot of On The Road and Dharma Bums. Tickles every bone in my body. Brosnan passed away this past June. Damn Shame! I mean 90 years old happens, but strange timing because Brosnan promised to write a third book after the Cubs won the World Series. He was a big Cubs fan and well, the Cubs have all the fixings for an October stew; haven’t had one since 1906 and we’ll see what happens right there.

I walk outside and the damn mountain in Montreal is no mountain at all; more of a mound at 700 and some highest peak feet, but a mound is a mound and could be a burial mound dear Jim Brosnan and the parking lot behind my apartment complex is a shopping mall and well; consumer craze revenue spin the economy and what not so the snow plows arrive early in the pre Ichiro morning and they’re big and loud and holy Gestapo boots I wake up and there’s awe out the window. The snow is pushed into incredible mounds transforming the lot into Alps.

Kids forfeit culture’s first gift of dance and song and mount the mounds and play king of the hill and chicken. They do it every morning. Doesn’t matter when the the hills get crusted with pollution streaks and strewn with abandoned shopping carts. The kids are still there. I stop and stare and wonder how those carts get there? Set free from sidewalk gravity; tumbling to wherever ever land? Fly away parachutes crashing into a tree canopy; these strange and wonderful fates. Shoes dangling from overhead wires like feet dangling over a summer camp pond; maybe love for the first time or maybe love always feels like a first time.

Dontrelle Willis retired in Brewers camp a few days ago, but we never fall off our horses; just the scenery changes. The Brewers did very little this off-season; signed K-Rod to a 2 year contract, traded Marco Estrada to Blue Jays for Adam Lind, traded Yovani Gallardo to Texas for three up and comers.

Hot damn! We can sit on a park bench this apocalypse season and enjoy  sweet lemonade and consider the marination plan in full effect; the wisdom of Kyle Lohse seeping into still green minds of Wily Peralta and Jimmy Nelson. Lohse with stories and pranks and pinpoint control and don’t worry. Matt Garza in hoodie looks like Lohse’s Druid sidekick.

And The Great Walking  Path of Algonquin Ojibwe speaking people is still in full effect; just transformed into roads and highways and maybe tracks for trains and the colonizers saw the genius of birds and built runways and planes and there’s one right now floating across a perfect morning sky; so slow in its descent or ascent I can never tell. There’s a bunch of chimneys blocking the view; spitting smoke into all kinds of impossible shapes.

 


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manic spring fling

I’m sure the only way to a thunder clatter tongue is to read, read, and read some more. My certainty comes when ice chunks gather in gutter clusters and race one track tornado down the mountain side back home to sea.

Or maybe the urge or urgency to read arrives in any season after manic google searches; garlic skins to Basque boats; not staying long enough  to enjoy any particular view. Damn screen! 

The back side of a hand soap does me better; meditating on the ingredients and singing the manufacture town name; Minnetonka, Minnesota in exaggerated slow down syllabic flare. My head sizzles, feet tap, heart starts.

My lack of focus returns; easily transplanted to my bed with five open books, but a few sentences later it all starts again; that sizzle followed by more certainty.

I’m falling in love with Rico Carty for the first time. The declaration pins me against a wall, not quite head shaved and hare krishna, but what’s the difference!

probably do this every spring; falling in love with some Carty equivalent; not consciously; more like a silent reflex, to keep some ancient myth within me from being completely choked out of existence.

In Fidrych; Charboneau and JR Richard I trust.

I never knew Carty as a player, only as a name I liked and I’m not sure if it was the Rico or Carty part; probably just a baseball card flash. He comes to me later in life; in books; as the man who rattled Hank Aaron’s diplomatic cage. I don’t know the details, don’t know how he did it; how he crawled so far under hammering Hank’s perfect skin, but he did; maybe them two getting dirty and rolling around; maybe them two despising each other for a while, but rolling around some more and you forgive me and I forgive you and the superficial pierced and there’s a bridge called trust to come a little closer.

Milwaukee fans made a banner with Carty’s name and hung it from the top of the left field bleachers, not because he fought with Aaron who took Carty under his wing-roommates in Milwaukee but because back in 1964, the last of those miracle Brave embers was sizzling and Carty was the party. 

Spahn was tired and refusing to retire. Joe Adcock and Lew Burdette had already been traded; all the other ones sold off; typical clean house situation with new owners, but there was still Aaron and Mathews and no duo hit more home runs than them two.

But the same thing that brought the Braves to Milwaukee was taking them away; a new and potentially lucrative market; from Boston to Milwaukee and now Atlanta; the business side of baseball; the slash and burn blah blah.

The people never get blamed, but Milwaukee attendance fell from an all time National League high of 2 million in 1958 to 500 thousand in 1965.  

There’s banana peels everywhere; cemeteries on both sides of the street and crops go fallow with or without money, but before that trumpet player blew taps at County Stadium there was Rico Carty. He only came to bat two times in 1963 and no one probably noticed, but in 1964, he hit .330 with 22 home runs and almost won the batting title; almost won the rookie of the year too.

That banner hanging from the top of County Stadium’s left field bleachers said, “Rico Carty Our Rookie of the year!!” That possessive our sticking out more than the 2 exclamation points.

And who could blame them! Their Carty, their Braves, their baseball team and each and every home game spilling down aisles and ramps into parking lots and bars and bed time stories and one last beer and dreams and box score sunrise was under threat of extinction. They were doing the flat lines dance, the ghostly amputee shuffle; enjoying Carty like the last day of their lives because it always could be.


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first pitch park (s)

A few degrees turn on the internal compass; in either direction and a trumpet sounds or maybe it’s Them Bones by Alice in Chains. Either way, certainty hits me like a crusade. I fake some throat phlegm and trust my mucous membrane music.

I call in sick to work. Black and white fades. I can think about colors for maybe the first time. 

I always considered colors to be man made; invented; a new fashion. I must have watched too much TV and one or two glimpses of those old reels got stuck in my head; the black and white ones with everyone moving so fast. I figured that’s how it was back then; black and white and fast. I didn’t know colors were a divine or natural or evolutionary gift to us all.

But a Cro-Magnon knee scraped on a cave floor must have been blood red so Oyster Burns and any other random baseball player I find from a 19th century list and into the Babe Ruth next century; all of them in their baggy pants and fast forward legs spinning around bases in trick of the black and white camera eye. Even they were surrounded by green grass and purple skies. Technology stumps me with its apertures and millimeters.

But players must have been pissed off and angry in those old days and I bet some innings they didn’t want to play baseball at all and I bet fans thought they were bunch of spoiled brats and other times I betchya those players were feeling care free and wouldn’t want to be doing anything else but playing baseball, just like players sometimes seem to be feeling today.

And some kids like villains and other kids liked their fathers.

I bet those old time players had a bipolar connection to baseball; an ambidextrous emotion (s) like the sun and moon sharing the same sky; just like players do today.

So many colors up and down Ron Hunt’s forearms; so much pride in simply standing there, being there; alive; here; yesterday and today. 

Last year at Miller Park Milwaukee, I watched The Blue Jays Jose Bautista and Munenori Kawasaki impersonate pitchers in the pregame warm ups. They were doing full 180 degree exaggerated leg kick wind ups; laughing their asses off.

Here are two more baseball paintings from colorsetbrushes with me adding the words. The original ones we posted on her blog with different titles. I changed the titles because in their own way, each feels like First Pitch Park to me; 120 years ago or 30 days from now.

First pitch park one
firstpitchpark2
we were so tired, but still
befriending vultures and
loving without a compass.
god, i hope to always notice
the caboose kid slipping in and out of Remo’s junkyard;
like a tree ring set free from the stump;
yoked and ready to climb down the blue;
to stretch in Saguenay mawning

 

 

First Pitch park twofirst pitch park
we met behind the oscar mayer factory;
beside the river that had a name,
but we just called it wetlands because
our socks always got wet.
the smell was awful;
not from our socks,
but from the surrounding air,
but the hot dogs always tasted good.
i guess everybody came from somewhere.
we just happened to come from the wetlands
behind the oscar mayer factory;
beside the river.


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thanks bazooka joe

Skylab launched in May 1973 and 6 years later NASA announced the space station was reentering earth’s orbit, but they had no idea where. 

The sky was gonna fall on us. Paranoia reigned. T-shirt were printed. I was at summer camp in Northern Wisconsin; a three hours drive from mom and dad and I missed my bedroom and baseball cards.

We all knew the odds of a human being getting struck by skylab debris was like 1 in 600 billion, but we also knew about people buying lottery tickets. The anticipation and sweat felt the same. 

I don’t think I ever stopped dwelling on the end of the world and my own disintegration. I just toned the fears down or my survival instinct shoved them into a far away file called subconscious. They escaped when I got sunburned and my skin peeled and I refused to take a bath. I was afraid of being sucked down the drain. 

Seems stupid now especially since I was willing to let some stranger stand behind me with two knives criss-crossed together and chop chop chop cut my hair. But he did give my brother and I Bazooka Joe bubble gum and there was more good news.

People were struck by lightning and didn’t die. Holy cow! Amazing. I guess it had to be the perfect amount of voltage shooting down from the sky but a right-brained person could turn into a left brained one; a baritone into a soprano, a Duane Kuiper into a Ralph Kiner?

I watched Kuiper in action the other day; thanks to the you tube/mlb agreement signed a few years ago; liberating games from MLB locked vaults; full games-original broadcasts.

It was a long overdue paradise; but an old fear emerged and slowly crystallized into an irrational certainty. A copyright glitch or government takeover or a nuclear bomb was gonna tear down this Alexandria library of baseball games. I had no choice. I went Al Capone on my separation anxiety.

I downloaded over 100 baseball games, especially regular season ones that turn out to never be regular and so there was and is and always will be Wrigley Field in early May, 1984. 

Duane Kuiper and his 1 career home run in over 3,000 at bats pinch-hitting for Giants pitcher Matt Williams in the top of the 6th. Cubs announcer Harry Caray mentions something about the wind and right on cue, the camera flashes to the Ernie Banks retired number 14 flag waving atop the left field flag pole and Harry goes silent for a second and Kuiper grounds out to shortstop.

Bill Veeck is at the game; sitting in the center field bleachers of course; with the people and Harry reminds us that he’ll be broadcasting games from there when the summer sun arrives.

Harry’s color man sidekick during the 4th-5th-6th is Milo Hamilton and he remembers. He points out that Cubs manager Jim Frey’s wad of chew is in the Danny Murtaugh class of Tobacco pouches stuffed in one human mouth. The paid attendance is 4,625 but rounded up to 4,861 with the walk ups.

Leon Bull Durham is going for his 7th homer in as many games. He doesn’t hit one but Bob Brenly does and Ron Cey hits a grand slam for the Cubs. The wind is blowing out. Jeffrey Hack Man Leonard does not play.

Dutch Rennert is the home plate umpire and that deserves its own line.

He calls balls and strikes with vaudeville enthusiasm; turning 90 degrees with hop and giddy up; takes a massive inhale while screaming Strike and during the exhale lowers to the ground; arm on knee pointing towards the dugout and screaming 1 or 2 depending on the count and if it’s the third strike,  take cover; fireworks finale; the arm comes down like a sledgehammer at a county fair high striker strongman game.

The Cubs won 11-10 and I feel incredibly refreshed; more like a time machine than nostalgia.


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match box field

I don’t know what makes a stadium a stadium and not a park, field, yard or even an alley or a way, but in this world where the painter colorsetbrushes asks me to add words, there are no rules. I love this painting; hits me like trying to exit a hot shower; but 5 more minutes.

match box field

i walk along a street that probably has a name,baseballfieldpalmtrees 001
but this is the edge of the world and that’s all it ever is.
could be anywhere.
the trees are naked.
all my steps virgin;
the breezes too
if i say burning-palm-tree-mirage over and over again
the trees might dance and
it just might.

 


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stormin soon park

How did I get here is a question I don’t ask too often; not anymore. Maybe I should? I used to keep a daily blog called “broken bats.” It wasn’t about baseball or maybe a little; but mostly just an idea written in a spurt explosion. It was easier or maybe not, but just as satisfying with a last word and clicking publish.

Last week, a painter asked me to add words to her paintings; “keep them from looking naked,” she said and I agreed; to add some words that is and she offered to paint imaginary baseball stadiums. Nice winter trade I thought and then wondered what she might dream up or envision or whatever it is painters do. 

She calls the painting and words a gang bang. There are trees, deserts, flowers, firey moons, mountains, and all kinds of skies; four baseball stadiums too including this one today. All of her paintings can be found at colorsetbrushes

stormin soon park

the bullpen latch creaks barn animals.beforethestormbaseballfield 001
there’s so much time here and so many clouds;
a cave painting sky.

the public address announcer sounds gravity,
explaining everything;
fiber by fiber.

something shoots from the dugout cannon;
creation’s first fireworks; 
a 9 piece ensemble feeling Roberta Flack again.

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