brewers baseball and things

post traumatic wild card syndrome and the sizzle relief of U.L. Washington

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The Pirates are not exactly an east coast team, not on the Atlantic coast anyway. They’re somewhere in the mountains, not that it really matters, but for whatever reason, most media mob scenes swarm the coasts, New York and Boston in the East and San Francisco and Los Angeles in the West. Maybe the reception is bad where it’s hilly? But a camera crew could wear hiking boots, no?  And with wires crisscrossing all across North America, anywhere can be the capital, no? Even Casper, Wyoming which just so happens to be the birthplace of three former major leaguers, one of whom tossed a perfect game – Tom Browning. The other two are Dan Spillner and Mike Devereaux.

Maybe Oakland and Pittsburgh are related? Both the A’s and Pirates enjoy great regular season records, this year an exception for the A’s, but typically come playoff time, they bow out early. Granted, Jake Arrieta is Pedro Martinez circa 1999-2000, against the Pirates. I enjoyed Joe Maddon’s attitude leading up to their wild card game. They could have sat Arrieta down and not started him against the Pirates a few weeks ago just in case the teams faced each other in the playoffs. Little League teams do that…so I guess hitters don’t discover a secret grip or motion, glitch in the pitcher and sock it to ’em. But Arrieta could shutout the Pirates blindfolded, so what does Clint Hurdle do? He inserts Sean Rodriguez into the starting lineup. I guess because Sean hit 12 doubles in 224 regular season at bats? But he was playing first base? I’m not a stereotyper, but Freddie Patek was small and played second base. Jose Altuve too.

Having said that, I’ve come to expect first baseman to be long and tall and usually left-handed. Short hair is not requirement, but any hair dipping shoulder length, I think of shortstop and wonder if hair sometimes gets in the way of an acrobat play? Inevitably, I then dream of U.L. Washington’s afro which had some symmetry or planet like sensibility where as Zane Smth’s hair was everywhere, but then again it worked wonders for Randy Johnson who really did resemble an Eagle. Anyway, U.L. Washington  and the toothpick he wore while picking balls in the hole at short…well I like thinking about that from time to time. Makes me feel better.

But where was I? Oh yeh, the camera during the Pirates-Cubs game panned around first base or maybe I was imagining this? But all I could see was long black hair and it wasn’t Michael Morse and there was no smile and first baseman are supposed to be nice like a congenial host serving tea in the Bedouin desert. Sean Casey nice. I hear he was the nicest guy on planet earth and he was tall and played first base for the Reds, but this guy on the TV looked small and wasn’t smiling, but was wearing a first baseman’s mitt. I was confused. Something amok in Allegheny County?

As it turned out,  I was wrong. Rodriguez is 6 feet tall. Maybe his socks were jacked up to his knees and that evoked an illusion? Were his socks jacked up that high? I don’t remember, but I do remember what he did to the Gatorade coolers in the Pirates dugout and I have to admit. It was cool. He sent out a right left flurry that looked a hell of  a lot like Sugar Ray Leonard.

Francisco Cervelli wears his socks up high. He’s the Pirates catcher and before that he was the Yankees catcher. Is he riding Russel Martin’s shadow. Next year on the Blue Jays?

The Canadian commentary between innings comes from retired catcher Gregg Zaun. I don’t know if he lives in Canada or just works here? But he sits in the booth for every Blue Jays game and he understood why Rodriguez not only beat up the coolers, but attempted to knock out Jake Arrieta in the bench clearing brawl. I think he was aiming for Arrieta when he launched a paunch in a hockey goon sort of way? Rodriguez never batted in the game. He was replaced before he had a chance so Zaunn says he had a right to be pissed off.  OK.

Anyway, Jake Arrieta looked like a pumped up Schwarzenegger after the game  picking up teammates and hugging them and not really looking the least bit tired and this after tossing a complete game, 4 hit shutout. He beaned a couple of batters and so the Pirates beaned him and hence the soft core brawl. Rodriguez got ejected and Arrieta said that the Pirates hitting him was justified after the game. That kind of accountability struck me as rare or maybe it’s like an  obese cashier at a hamburger joint preaching that beauty is only skin deep.

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Author: Steve Myers

I grew up in Milwaukee and have been a Milwaukee Brewers baseball fan for as long as I can remember.

15 thoughts on “post traumatic wild card syndrome and the sizzle relief of U.L. Washington

  1. Any day that begins with a good cup of coffee followed quickly by a random mention of Mike Devereaux in a blog post has got to be a good one.

    I’m enjoying the post-season so far (or as far as I can when my team’s not in it).

    • When I first saw that name Devereaux, I thought it was Rod Dedeaux, coach of a college somewhere in California for a long time. I think he won a bunch of College World Series as well. Anyway, about the playoffs, I’m with you on enjoying this so far. The Wild Card games and all the do or die involved is intense and seeing the Astros playing the Royals is well…incredible. Enjoy the weekend!

      • He was the coach at USC. Among the many major leaguers that were under his tutelage was Tom Seaver.

        Glen

  2. Unless I’m mistaken, U.L. Washington only had the toothpick in his mouth while batting. I could be wrong. But he could have had a Tony Kubek 1960 World Series situation if he chewed on the toothpick while at shortstop. Then again, it wasn’t so safe to do at home plate, either. But he was cool! A very colorful player! I like quirks like that. A shortstop chewing on a toothpick while at bat, John Wockenfuss (both his name and his weird batting stance. His name sounded to me like a bizarre and rare animal, like a sloth), Gary Matthews in the 70s and 80s with his keeping the bat on his shoulder and then shaking it bizzarely and uncontrollably; the way he did that with the shaky bat, it reminded me of the shaky wire coat hanger radio antenna we used to have on our car waving around as it drove into the wind. (Back in the 70s, there was no use having a real car antenna in New York City; they’d always get stolen. After our’s radio antenna was stolen on our ’68 Dodge Dart, a wire coat hanger did just as well.)

    Glen

    • Glen – I love the image of the ’68 Dodge Dart with the wire coat hangar.

      • Well, it was a gold-colored ’68 Dodge Dart with a wire coat hanger two-door sedan. A really good car that lasted us for years. They don’t make cars like they used to, Bruce.

    • Thanks Glen. I never really used a toothpick, not even after eating corn on the cob which seems to be the most likely food to get caught between teeth and anyway who would be brave enough to wear one on the field? Kind of unique, almost a stunt, somethign kids would dare each other to do or maybe I’m a chicken. Cripes, I was scared of being on a skateboard. Anyway, this conversation has me all toothpick crazy so I looked up some toothpick trivia and came across another guy who wore a toothpick while playing. This was before both of our time. It was Sam ”toothpick” Jones and get this…he was part of the first ever African American battery mate in the American League – 1951. Quincy Trouppe was the catcher. Cleveland Indians. Come to think of it wasn’t Larry Doby the first ever African American – American League player and wasn’t Bill Veeck behind that? Maybe Veeck was behind the first ever African American battery mate as well? Bil Veeck should be in the HOF if he isn’t already.

      • I would have loved to have met Bill Veeck! What a character.

        I have some bottom teeth that didn’t come in too well, and therefore have problems when I eat a mango without slicing it first. In other words, it gets caught between my bottom front teeth and it’s a million times harder for me to get out from between my teeth than corn on the cob will. But if you slice it, it’s good. It tastes great, is great for your health, and it actually has properties that help in lessening the inflammation of a bad back, arthritis, etc. Scientists are finding more and more things about the mango that can help humans in many areas of disease. Blueberries, too. And cherries. (real cherries, not the maraschino cherries.)

        Glen

      • You are absolutely right Glen!! about these Mango incidents with the threads of fruit fiber getting caught between teeth and then more teeth, but we keep eating them cause they’re so good. Ya know what else is troublesome about Mangos…the seed. It looks like a space ship and is almost impossible to pin down, mainly because it is slimy from the fruit and juices covering it. Mangos are hard to cut because of that giant seed, but they are truly one tasty mother of a fruit and I hope you’re right Dr. Slater about the health benefits.

        I’ve been to one and only one Mets game in my life. It was against the Expos and was very memorable for all the wrong reasons, but once outside Shea and walking towards the US Open stadium, in that open field where people play soccer, I was hit up by a MANGO PEDDLER. He had ’em in a cooler attached to the back of his bike. I don’t remember how much they cost, but he delivered them in small plastic bags sprinkled with paprika. PAPRIKA? Yes, paprika. It was tasty as can be, but the paprika didn’t seem necessary. He was speaking Spanish, not sure from what country, but maybe paprika is the tradition there?

  3. Steve – I pulled out my 1984 Cubs jacket for 2015 October baseball. I put it on to start my very long commute back from work Wednesday and do my part to protect the 4-0 lead the Cubs had at the time. That morning, in preparation for the evening commute, I added three or four apps to the cell phone to make sure that I could get the Cubs radio announcers broadcast for the game later that day. All of them were worthless and I was in the office parking lot yelling at the cell phone and all the tech guys who promise us the world. As good fortune would have it, I received a call from someone who wanted to talk about this very odd outburst from Rodriguez. He knew exactly which radio app would give me the game – the inferior national ESPN booth, but I was not in a position to be selective.

    When later reviewing the game results, I came across the bout between Rodriguez and the water cooler. Very odd, but we’ve seen it before. The very best part of it may be the nonchalant attitude of C. Hurdle and the coaches on the bench as Rodriguez landed his punches.

    I don’t think we’ve seen an apology like his. Have we?

    I’ll be packing the 1984 Cubs jacket today. Who’s afraid of the Cardinals?

    • I like your Cubs jacket Bruce. I would throw my Cardinals baseball cards out the window if it would guarantee a Cubs win. This is the ultimate rivalry – Cubs versus Cardinals or maybe it’s no rivalry at all since it seems like many fans who grew up Cardinal fans became Cubs fans later in life or the other way around. Or maybe my sample size is too small? Anyway, when I think of Cubs and Cardinals, I think of Lou Brock and Harry Caray since they played or broadcasted for both. That was probably one of the not so good trades made by the Cubs, getting rid of Brock, but I just looked at his stats and holy mangos, did he ever get caught stealing a lot!! and he didn’t get on base that much. Maybe I shouldn’t say anything because I never really saw him play except later in his career on TV.

      • You wrote “Holy Mangos!”, and I just read it now. I had just written a comment in which I commented on how good mangos are good for various ailments. Is it a coincidence, or is it proof that great minds think alike? Or is something more than that, like a full-page photograph of me playing basketball being in your favorite book of all time, a photograph that you had probably seen a million times over the years, and you didn’t even know that that photograph was of me? And you saw the photograph long before you met me.

        By the way, where did you get that expression from? “Holy Mangos!”

      • When I found out that picture was of you Glen in the one and only IN Your Face Basketball book, well, I just about blew a gasket and screamed – HOLY MANGOS! Yes, that was definitely a holy mangos moment. I think I made up that expression, sort of like Mashed Potatoes which is one of my favorite foods and something I like to say instead of swearing. I find that it serves a similar purpose.

  4. Jake Arrieta this year reminds me a lot of Mike Scott of the Astros in ’86. Basically, a guy no one is going to want to face, under any circumstances.

    • That’s a great comparison! Arrieta is closing in on 30 years old and Great Scott was over 30 I think, both of them kind of overlooked earlier on in their career, but wasn’t Scott something else, almost out of this world the way he learned that split-fingered. I like thinking there are adults who still dream of learning how to throw a split-finger or some other pitch so they can give up their 9-5 and become a big league pitcher.