brewers baseball and things


keeping it on the one

I was dribbling a basketball in a dream. I was on the court. I was in the game. A lane opened up. So I made my way into the paint for a finger roll layup when all of a sudden I was four inches above the rim and getting ready to dunk the ball. That’s when the hoop and rim became a painting and i crashed into the wall.

I woke up from the dream and laughed. It was like Santa Klaus and the thrill that’s sucked from kid’s minds when they find out. It was like the two greatest baseball cards of my life – Jim Konstanty and Ty Cobb.

I don’t remember how I got the Konstanty card but I remember his face or his glasses. He looked so ordinary and nice. He looked like my friend’s father – the head janitor at our elementary school. Maybe Konstanty was a janitor? Players didn’t make much money in the 1950’s. They had jobs in the off season. Konstanty was the mvp pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. The card was from 1950. The background was blue. I loved it, mostly because of that number 1950. That was old to me. Super old. I had struck gold. I didn’t know about price guides yet.

The other card was Ty Cobb. My brother gave it to me. It was an all time greatest hits card. I didn’t know it was from the 1973 Topps set. I focused on Cobb’s face instead. It was old and mean. It was really and truly Ty Cobb. He had the most hits of anyone. It was was the greatest card in the world, even older than the Konstanty card.

I collected cards for the thrill of completing a set and finding my favorite players. All those stacks lining my bedroom floor were comforting. I also wanted to be rich. My delusion peaked with the wood border set of 1987. I bought 50 cards each of Barry Bonds, Kal Daniels, Rafael Palmero, and Barry Larkin. I figured these rookie cards would net me a fortune one day.

They didn’t. This story had a moral, but I forget what it is? I guess that things don’t always appear as they are. They’re better because now I have boxes and boxes of cards, thousands of them and each one tells a different story or carries some hidden meaning and what’s great is that the meaning or no meaning depends on my mood, my perception so the cards are always new.

_58Take this Rusty Staub 1984 Fleer card. That’s some serious focus going on. He’s probably not thinking about anything but bat on ball there. My neighbor used to call that – keeping it on the one.



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.