brewers baseball and things


a temporary cure

I was reading the book Miracle at Fenway earlier this month. It’s about the building of the 2004 Red Sox team that won the World Series.

The one thing I remember about the book is that Larry Lucchino almost single-handedly saved Fenway park. He decided that it should be renovated rather than knocked down. Another thing I remember is something that happened to the Red Sox’ Kevin Millar. He was in a hitting slump. He turned on the TV. I think the ESPN highlights were on. He noticed that the Mariner`s Miguel Olivo had made a change. He was batting with an open stance.

Millar decided to do the same and he started to hit again.

That reminded me of being in a Burlington, Vermont Motel. I couldn’t sleep and so I slipped into the bathroom. I was reading the book Nausea at the time. The bathroom lights were bright like the cosmetics section of a pharmacy. I stumbled on the passage or the sentence where the writer realizes he could will himself happy.

That struck me as an important kind of revolution. I didn’t actually believe it. How could anyone simply decide that they were going to be happy? That seemed impossible. I hadn’t thought about that book or that passage all that much until discovering earlier this month what Kevin Millar did.

I’m assuming there will be bad days ahead; depressing ones, angry ones, sad ones. I have no magic cure, but I do have a 29 inch aluminum Worth baseball bat and so I might take a few swings in the early morning before I start my day, with an open stance of course….nothing to lose, worth a try, and so on.


3rd and roundtree

He was no different from most in that he had two ears, a nose and mouth. He also walked on two legs. But his eyes were different. One was burgundy –  the color of dinner wine. The other eye was silver – the color of lone ranger’s shirt. His eyes switched in the PM of most days with the burgundy eye bleeding silver and the silver bleeding burgundy. Caused beautiful confusion and melted notions of north and south or left and right.

There was only sun and moon, up and down, and roll away.

I bumped into him on the corner of 3rd and Roundtree. He stood there and spoke his peace and when he was finished he put a feather behind his ear.

I returned the following day and I wasn’t alone. There was another guy and together we listened to him speak his peace and add a second feather behind his ear. This went on for seven consecutive days with a new person joining us each day and a new feather being added behind his ear.

We were suddenly seven eager ducks and since none of us had smart phones we looked all around at the leaves falling and at traffic lights changing colors. We looked at birds, railroad tracks, clouds, and roads – how those roads dominated the landscape looking like dragon tongues weaving every which way, how the automobile ruled the roost. The headlights were beautiful. They looked like orbs at night insisting on the future.

I felt kinda drunk, but I hadn’t drunk anything, other than water. I rolled away on the eighth day and felt a bit gloomy with those feathers and those people no longer near. I was caught up in a swirl of leaves, some of them shaped like helicopters heading home, heading down, suckers to gravity, all 162 games, all of ’em  once upon a spring surprise offering so much sudden promise were now gone to the sewer grate, gone again, again, again round and round the big break up of seasons, the loud silence, the amputation.

OK, maybe I exaggerate, but night, terrible night is the end of the world and then abracadabra, there’s morning and with some coffee and rocking back and forth, the beginning of a new world. 



anonymous breath

i’m sure Honus Wagner’s hands were huge and it would be cool to sit around and shoot the shit with him. Eat a steak with Boog Powell too. Talk public transportation with Kent Tekulve. Visit an airport with Luis Tiant, slip into lounge, and sip some beers.

I bet my upstairs neighbor has plenty of stories to tell too and I bet if I lugged a bottle or two of something upstairs we’d have a good ol’ time. Who knows? Maybe once upon a time he traded two Willie McGee’s and a Kent Hrbek for a pack of smokes?

I once traded three beers and an airplane size flask of whisky for my neighbor’s St. Louis Cardinal hat. I put that hat in my freezer. It was in 2011. The Brewers were playing the Cardinals in the NLCS. The Brewers lost, but the cryonics fever I was under seemed to bloom.

I ran into that neighbor more frequently.
He smiled.
So did I.


fish knuckle sandwich

in this stationary period between glaciers and glaciers melting, i ordered a filet-o-fish at McDonald’s and wondered about natural disasters and momentum. I thought about all the home runs the blue jays have been hitting in the american league division series. it pisses off my neighbor. he says the blue jays aren’t that good, hitting wise anyway. he says it’s because they don`t steal bases and manufacture runs, but he was nowhere to be found last night when broadcaster Brain Anderson referred to James Donaldson as “dashing Donaldson“ after Donaldson scored the winning slide-off run from second on a potential 6-4-3 double play.

maybe the best team doesn`t win? the hottest team does! the Blue Jays hit two more home runs last night as well.

i finished my filet-o-fish in less than five bites and the bun was incredibly soft and maybe this has nothing to do with……or maybe it has to do with the Blue jays finishing off the Rangers so fast? three game sweep and Roughned Odor making the throwing error allowing Donaldson to dash in with that winning run. the fish smells good or the sauce does. Odor was suspended earlier this year for punching the Blue Jays`s Bautista in the face.


mantle or someone else

Andy Binzler didn’t use deodorant. He had three or four chins by the time he was a teen. He wore his plumbers crack without really knowing it was a plumbers crack. He was a special species. We knew it. He wound up in the Ethan Allen school for boys in Delafield, Wisconsin. We visited him. He spent a few months in prison too. I think we visited him there as well. The other prisoners whistled at his man boobs. But this is all back of the baseball card details. The height and weight, birth place and so on. It’s easy to forget.

What isn’t easy to forget is all the baseball cards Binzler had. He was like the candy man. I was too naive to wonder how he got the cards or maybe i didn’t care? They were always stuffed in his front pockets and wrapped with rubber bands. I remember his fat fingers.

He traded me the oldest and best card i ever had in my collection. I remember that 1955 Bowman Mickey Mantle. It was creased and the corners were rounded, but the design was still a TV and it was still Mickey Mantle who wasn’t as untouchable and god like as Babe Ruth, but close enough or maybe Mantle and 1955 didn’t matter? Maybe it could have been any old card on my shag red carpet bedroom floor that I traded for?

I remember staring at the card and then picking it up, manhandling it, probably rounding its corners some more. The sky changed colors back then. Lighting cracked. Thunder sounded. I thought about death. That card was a buoy.


twins versus white sox

i hadn’t watched a game in a long while when one stared me in the face Sunday. i was cable clicking around the stations. The Twins were hosting the white sox. it was the bottom of the ninth; 11-11 was the score. there were two outs and david robertson was on the mound. I thought he threw much faster? Maybe he did when he pitched for the Yankees? i was surprised by the large crowd considering the twins are so bad this year or they were the last time i checked. i think they had the worst record in baseball or maybe it was the braves?

there was about 25,000 people at the game, paid attendance, the announcers said. i like minnesota especially since they now play on grass and outdoors. it’s more than tolerable to stare at the grass cutting formations. It’s actually pleasant. i didn’t slip into a coma of relaxation but watching the last two or three innings must have dropped my stress levels. Byron Buxton looks like a great hitter, but he sure holds the bat kind of weird. The White Sox announcer Ken Harrelson said it’s all in the chin, that you can always detect a great hitter by the chin. He said Buxton had a great chin, not in a Milan fashion runway sort of way or at least i don’t think so. It’s in some other way, maybe having to do with his head on the ball, chin being still and what not.

The other Sox announcer – Steve Stone coined the game’s curtains as the immaculate Deflection. The white sox had scored two runs in the top half of the 10th or 11th and then sin of sins, their pitcher walked the two first batters in the bottom half. With two outs and the tying runs aboard,  the batter hit a sharp ground ball that ricocheted off the pitchers shin or leg right to the shortstop who bare handed it and threw to first for the routine 1-6-3 immaculate Deflection and final out of the game.


one foot in front of the other…..

He said the trees told him everything he ever needed to know. It was the way a fallen branch took root and grew on its own, “as sure as a bullfrog or bumblebee” he would say.

We were walking away from a Salt Lake City Hotel room when we heard him whispering,

“cola, cola, cola.”

He was on the other side of the street. There was plenty of traffic between us, but we could still hear him. Made it kind of amazing.

“cola cola cola,” he said again.

His voice never grew softer as he got closer so we kept on hearing him and he kept on saying “cola cola cola.”  He must have said it 30 times. It was a soothing contrast from our previous night – all that screaming and stage diving from the hotel room’s upper floor. We had never been in a room with two levels. We burned pages from the bible and pretended we were on a West Coast Rock and Roll tour.

“cola cola cola.”

He didn’t fold up his arms or lean against the hotel lobby wall. He didn’t shove his hands in his pockets either. He just stood there, arms at his side, steady. He had dark beautiful beads for eyes – infinity eyes. I was both terrified and put at ease. He extended his right arm and squeezed my forearm. He pulled me closer very gently. He said it was the Apache way of greeting someone and that cola meant friend in either Apache or Lakota language. I forget which.

We had spent our last dime on that hotel room. All we had left was a bus ticket to San Rafael, California. We also had jobs lined up and a place to stay. Our new friend had lost his mother and he needed to walk. He wasn’t Apache. His mom was Northern Cheyenne and Dad a descendant of a beer baron family from Hamburg, Germany. Dad escaped the baron fate as a stowaway aboard a Krumshaka ship back when the Northern Cheyenne were living in what is now Minnesota, east of the Mississippi. He made a name for himself killing buffalo, but lost his taste for pillage and hides when he met Blue Bridge of the Northern Cheyenne. He lost his head. His heart opened. He took to her way of life.

This walk our friend was on was not an around the block walk. It was a walk with no destination. He called it a Kiowa walk to honor their neighbors to the south who took to many migrations in their history.

“Not many more migrations these days, only the inner kind,” he said, “To see with hobo freshness.” He smiled after saying that and I suddenly felt guilty about what we had done to the Bible the night before. All those animal sacrifices of the Hebrews condensed into today’s ritual prayer and yet, we decided to burn pages from the bible? Oh screw it! We were on our own journey.

We walked with him. I noticed that the cars in Salt Lake city were covered with stickers that either said “praise the lord” or  “Mormons on drugs.” We walked in the direction of steeples and spires, of the Great Mormon Church or maybe they were pointy hills up ahead. It was hard to tell with the sun’s glare so strong. Either way, the horizon looked like zigzagging vital signs. We walked on and a perfect blue day turned into a perfect black night. The fringes of that horizon were still burning orange and purple when cola stumbled on a pile of clothes that could have easily been a bag of cannibalistic heads. Our minds were tricking us. Cola felt around the bag with his feet. One of those abandoned lives most likely. There were shoes beside the bag as well. Freaked me out. It was as if a spaceship had dropped in and beamed someone up.

Cola removed a few socks from the bag and tied them together like someone trapped on the fifth floor of a burning hotel room – a sock ladder of descent. He said it was a hoop and then we walked some more. He collected large fallen branches along the way and when he had enough branches, he stopped again and began to whittle away the tops and make them sharp. He used the force in his fingers and a rock he had also picked up.

He said we were gonna play the hoop and pole game.

He gave an explanation of the game’s origins, about a young virgin impregnated by a spirit named Sweet Root. The virgin abandoned the child. An old woman found him and named him Sweet Medicine because it was where medicine roots grow. The kid became a great hunter but no one cared about him because he lived with an old lady grandma in a tepee. 

Cola then counted out steps in the direction of the sun rise. Musta been 30 or 40 steps. Then he continued to talk of the game’s origins.

The kid told his grandma to make a hoop wrapped in buffalo hide and to prepare four cherry sticks. Old lady grandma did just that and so he began to throw the sticks through the hoop and people gathered round, interested in this new game. He threw the fourth stick and when it went through the hoop, it changed into a fat buffalo calf, a magical calf too because there was always meat to eat from then on. The game became a promise…playing it ensured an abundance of buffalo.

*Thanks to that great big wonderful coffee table book The Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Indian Mythology for details on the Hoop-And-Pole Game.

**And thanks to baseball reference. I took a quick look at the all time leaders in fewest walks per nine innings. Candy Cummings tops the board with 0.4731. He’s followed by Tommy Bond, Al Spalding, and Cherokee Fisher and well, I can’t help wondering if they ever walked into the hoop and pole game?