I used to think Toby Harrah and I would be friends. My reasons were bundled up in Strat-o-matic chance and reason; rolls of the dice. Harrah walked 113 times after returning to the Texas Rangers in 1985 so I drafted him on my Strato team and as luck would have it, our family took a trip to Florida that same year. I met Harrah in Port Charlotte and we got along real well, talked for almost an hour, but I was like 15. What was I supposed to do? Invite him for a beer underneath the water tower?
Now it’s Saturday night in 2014 and a friend is a friend. I sacrificed my Brewer fanaticism for a night because we can’t really pick our friends. They just sort of spin our way and if all the factors conspire and there’s a spark and luck strikes and we share some experiences, develop a common language and what not, we might build a bridge of trust. It’s rare.
Saturday night I watched a movie. It was my turn to choose. A few days ago I listened to former Brewers closer John Axford reveal his secret to picking all 18 Oscar awards; a perfect Oscars game for the Axe man; 18 for 18. Towards the end of the press conference, Axford also unveiled his all time favorite move; “Children of Men.”
I had never seen or heard of the movie, but I like when people gush about movies. especially when it’s a baseball player. I gave up my Saturday night Brewer’s game.
Axford was originally drafted by the Mariners, but accepted a scholarship to Notre Dame instead. He earned a bachelor’s degree in film, television and theatre. Then the Cincinnati Reds drafted him, then the Yankees signed him, then they released him.
Axford was a bartender in Hamilton Ontario, sold cell phones in Toronto. A Brewer’s scout spotted him throwing at a gym. An invite to spring training followed. Brewer fans enjoyed Axford as much as they did Rollie Fingers with the mustache cult once again taking shape. It was a big bummer when the Ax man was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals; of all freaking teams, but we wished him well anyway. I’m glad he got the hell out of there and joined the Indians. He now has 108 career saves and two already this season. I guess he’s the Indian’s closer.
Axford hopes to direct his own film one day, but in the interim he shares his picks and pans. “Children of Men” took my friend and I on a past, present, and future trip; from London Streets to Nazi Germany to Guantanamo Bay to completely “over the cuckoos nest” of one side versus the other. After being thrown into that cruel samsara valley of us versus them-Children of Men rather than God; round and round chasing our tails, we were removed and found ourselves in a rickety boat on an ocean filled with fog waiting for a bigger boat called tomorrow. There was Canterbury and Huxley; King Crimson, Pigs on the Wind, Michael Caine smoking Ganja. There was jihad; the war within. Thank you John Axford.
I would definitely like to hang out with you at a corner store, on a bench leaning against a wall with posters announcing local bands. We’d be sipping coffee; watching the street scene and talking about everything except maybe baseball. But oh well, we can’t really pick our friends.
The Brewers played into extra innings with the Red Sox, so when the movie ended, there was still life at Fenway Park. One problem. I was not at home and my friend does not have the cable tv package for baseball. So I picked up the action in the top of the ninth on mlb.com’s game day. It’s free and provides up to the second information; sort of like the old scoreboards planted in down towns with a man standing there shuffling beads of an abacus; balls, strikes, runners on base and what not.
The suspense is probably the same. I waited and watched the pixels change; 1920 style. The electric banner scrolled DOUBLE when Khris Davis smashed his fourth hit of the game in the top of the 11th. I guess his slump is over. The electric banner scrolled DOUBLE again when Logan Schafer drove in the go ahead run.
And the electric banner scrolled STRIKEOUT three times in the bottom of the 9th when Francisco Rodriguez struck out the side; Napoli-Boegarts-Gomes. Hot damn. The Brewers are 3-2.
Meanwhile Axford had the night off. The Indians lost 7-3.