brewers baseball and things


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close call

The Brewers loaded the bases three times yesterday against the Mets.
They had runners on second and third two other times.
They had base runners in almost every inning in fact, and yet they could only score two runs.
It felt like the wasted opportunities would come back and bite them in the butt.
Then the Mets’ Wilmer Flores smashed a solo home run to lead off the 8th inning and suddenly it was 2-1.

Those wasted opportunities felt like giant 0cean waves roaring closer.
But then Brewers closer Corey Knebel whipped his 98 mph fastball, struck out two and holy mackeral, he now has 46 k’s in 26 innings.

The Brewers won 2-1 and all ocean wave superstitions were tossed out the window.
They head home to play the Dodgers  and well, it’s June 2nd and they’re in first place,
only 4 games over .500, but these moments are worth relishing.

An encouraging sign for the future is how many home runs (45) they hit in the month of April and how fewer (29) they hit in the month of May and yet, they kept winning.

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flick your bic for one more song

It’s 1954, Christmas Eve, in Boise, Idaho and all young Petie Squibbles can think of is the organ he hopes to find under the Christmas Tree come morning. The idea of an organ sort of came as a surprise. It happened in Boston a few months earlier.

Petie and his pops were on a trip out east, to Fenway Park, to see Jimmy Piersall and the Red Sox play and much to Petie’s surprise came the soothing sound of an organ blaring in from the overhead stadium speakers. From that moment on, he dreamed of having one to play in their Idaho basement.

Is this realistic? Did kids really long for organs the same way they did a few years later with guitars, after seeing Elvis or The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show?

Organs are an old instrument, dating back to Ancient Greece. Apparently they were water organs back then, whatever that is, but what gets me pumped is that they were predominately played during races and games as opposed to strictly religious ceremonies. That seems to set the later stage for sporting events.

The first baseball team to have an organ was the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on April 26, 1941 when Ray Nelson played the pipe organ. The following year, the Dodgers made Gladys Gooding at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn the first ever full-time organist.

Other teams soon joined in the organ fun. The sound added to the ambiance of the stadium and even enhanced the experience of watching the actual game. At some point the organists began to mirror the actions on the field, almost like DJ’s spinning appropriate records and in some cases sarcastic ones. They provided musical commentary. One of the more well-known was Nancy Faust of the White Sox. She would play the Paul Leka song ‘Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye’ after the opposing pitcher gave up a home run or was in jeopardy of being taken out of the game.

More than anything else, I find the organ to be a very relaxing sound. I have fond memories of hearing ‘Roll Out the Barrel’ during the 7th inning stretch of Milwaukee Brewers home games. That was back when they played at County Stadium.

The baseball organs disappeared with the arrival of new stadiums in the early 1990’s or maybe it was because of all the commercial music and other pre-recorded noises piped in. Thankfully, interest has revived and slowly, teams have brought back the organ including the Brewers at Miller Park.

I don’t know if kids really dream of owning an organ, but former pitcher Denny McLain once had one and he recorded an album ‘Denny McLain at the Organ.’ I like the tune ‘Extra Innings.’ Every time I play the song’s last notes and think the song is over, I am always surprised when those same notes repeat, a reminder of the beauty of Extra Innings, that once hooked and reeled in by a game, I never want it to end.

The song reminds me of a game I watched on TV. It was the longest game in major league history, a game between the Brewers and White Sox at Comiskey Park. It was suspended on May 8, 1984 and finished the following night. The Sox won 7-6 when Harold Baines hit a home run off Chuck “my bags please” Porter.

25 innings in all.
43 hits.
Tom Seaver got the win.
I love extra innings.
I love the organ.


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the 27 club

It’s just a number, but more than a bit strange that so many musicians, artists, and actors have died at the age of 27. The most well-known are probably Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. I took a look at the list the other day and hadn’t heard of most of them, but was shocked by the number of names including the more recent additions of Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse.

So i got to thinking about baseball, about players who died at 27, in the prime of their career. I counted 18 players, the first one being Charlie Hodes, way back in 1875. I had never heard of him and scanning the list, the only player I recognized was the most recent – Lyman Bostock in 1978, shot and killed by a jealous husband.

Two things that stuck out about Bostock were that his father played in the Negro Leagues for a good chunk of time and as is often the case, there are little, if any stats on his career. That always amazes me considering the development and obsession over stats  in the other league that still exists today, the one we call the major leagues. The other thing that stuck out was that after Bostock signed with the California Angels in 1978, he struggled out of the gate and insisted on returning his April salary to the Angels. When they refused, he donated it to charity.

Bostock is part of my gravatar image. I created it one day when I was bored.  He’s to the left of the watch and baseball, at about 8 o’clock, right between I think that’s a 1972 Topps Ron Swoboda? and definitely a 1976 Topps Dock Ellis.


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johnny finds a rose

it’s an early spring morning.
a pleasant cardinal tweet greets Johnny
but he wonders darkly instead.
if he were stranded in a small boat,
in the middle of a big ocean
with no signs of land,
no water to drink,
and no food to eat,
would he really care
that 37 games into this 2017 season
the Brewers were 20-17,
and had already hit 60 home runs,
most in the majors?
would he care?
maybe more than ever!

 


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no name

He could have been like the others and joined some wilderness retreat and learned a new pitch, become a converted reliever and revived or rather, started his career. Others had done it, most recently, Edgar Warrbins. The Boise teenager could barely hit 75 on a radar gun, but when he dropped his arm down to the side, he won a few onlookers. Then Edgar dropped it even further, to the submarine zone and the Indy leagues came calling. It made his pitch swerve and some say rise and then quickly fall,  a bit like a drunk struggling to a squat kerplunk to the hard earth. Batters would swing and miss. It was all very unorthodox and highly contagious, but he looked down and then around, at the railroad tracks stretching horizon to horizon. He liked where he was and so he kept to the amateur league course, as a mop up man, throwing ho-hum overhand strikes, inducing fly balls, and eating up innings. He said it was better for his well-being, reminded him of the thankless toil of it all.


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the affectionate one

the thermometer hasn’t changed much recently.
makes the odds of a miracle seem low,

but then last night,
the Brewers were in Toronto for the Jay’s home opener.
the Brewers’ Domingo Santana was at bat.
i forget what inning,
but he stood there and took a bunch of pitches and fouled off a few more.
he does that often.
he looks like a bull fighter not the least bit impressed by the bull pitcher.
i forget how the at bat ended up,
but i felt warmer.
the Brewers won 4-3.


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baseball and god

of all the radio broadcasters,
over all the years,
ever since the first transmission way back when,
all of them,
nestled in booths,
owls perched on a branch
overlooking the diamond
describing all the action or non-action;
there must have been at least one
who compared a baseball game to a story
with all its up and downs,
twists and turns,
plots and characters,
but a game is sometimes dull,
so dull
that people fall asleep and
others complain and suggest ways to speed the damn game up,
to make it more interesting and what not
but a story can never be dull or
it’s not supposed to be.
the author struggles to make each sentence sizzle
or maybe they make sentences intentionally boring
as a set up for the ones that explode?
like dissonance and harmony dancing one after the other!
in that case a story can be like a baseball game,
but the author of the game can never be known.