Thursday morning I remembered one of the first emails I ever received and slipped it into an omen; hoped for the best. Matt Garza was pitching later that night and fanaticism has no reason; just rhyme and that’s why I do it.
The email asked “How bout a little fishing off the porch?” We used to do that as kids. It was a regular fishing pole with a spinning toy top for bait. We would cast the thing off a second floor porch. The line often swung around and shattered a window below. Garza might need this. He’s been struggling to escape the first inning.
I took the email as an invitation to come hang out in Oakland so I hitchhiked from Montreal. It took close to 14 days. I got stuck in Thunder Bay, Ontario, but eventually made it. My friend was a bit surprised. I had misinterpreted his message. Communication breakdown.
The next day I took the subway-BART to the Coliseum. I saw a saxophone player sitting at the end of the caged walkway connecting the carpeted world of Bay Area Rapid Transit and Oakland A’s baseball.
A simple King Curtis rendition of Take Me Out to the Ball Game is all he played, but it was sexy like only a saxophone can be. I don’t remember who won the game.
I retraced my steps; heard the same sexy sax, took the Bart to MacArthur station. I walked along 45th avenue, towards Broadway and into a Breakfast in America restaurant on the corner. I sat at the half moon diner and probably drank some coffee.
I retraced my steps along 45th avenue. The sun was still shining. It must have been a day game. I walked past Clint Eastwood’s high school and reached Telegraph Avenue and spotted a flat-iron building.
I remembered what some lady at the Oakland Historical Society told me; that the buildings were flat-iron because they were sitting on tracks from the old street car days or something like that.
One of the buildings on Telegraph was Kasper’s Hot Dog’s stand. It was right smack in the middle of the avenue, probably still is. Musta been a flat iron. I sat down and talked to the owner. It was actually the owner’s son. He was wearing a plain white t-shirt and had a wild set of hair; copper, grey swirls in every direction. I don’t remember what we talked about.
Then I went to McDonalds and met an old couple. They gave me a cassette of some radical leftist. I think it was Michael Parenti. I gave it to my friends’ roommate. He was studying at Berkeley to be a political science professor.
So many useless wanderings; back and forth, east coast-west coast, north and south, going nowhere; following clues that maybe didn’t exist, but believing in all of them and promising to make more mistakes.
Matt Garrza had allowed 11 of his 33 runs in the first innings so he changed his pre-game rituals and came out throwing strikes in the first inning Thursday night. I was hopeful. Freddie Freeman did foul off 6 pitches for a 9 pitch at bat, but a soft liner later and Garza pumped his fist. No runs, no hits in the first inning.
The Brewers were cruising. The most underrated catcher in baseball-Jonathan Lucroy hit a 2 out, run scoring double in the first and added a 2 out, run scoring single in the third and then in the fourth, Logan Shaefer executed baseball’s most perfect play; the suicide squeeze.
Brewers were leading 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh when Dan Uggla battled Garza for 9 pitches and then lined a single to left field. Garza to the showers. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke called for a lefty. Zach Duke emerged from the bullpen. He reached the infield and then stopped.
Roenicke wanted Will Smith, not Duke, but Smith hadn’t been warming up. Communication breakdown. Both the bullpen coach and pitching coach were not in uniform. They were attending graduation ceremonies for family members. Communication breakdown.
But Smith entered anyway and made do with 8 warm up pitches. Smith was cold. It was noticeable. He allowed the go ahead, two run single. Roenicke absorbed the blame after the game; called it a communication breakdown.
Ooooops. My talisman backfired, but it might be just what the Brewers need. Who knows. I sure don’t.
Final Score Braves 5, Brewers 4. The Brewers are 28-20.