brewers baseball and things

knuckleballs for christmas

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Edwin Jackson was born in Germany so I assumed his dad was in the military and I was right, but Jackson’s father was a cook, not a soldier and this confused me because, as wikipedia accurately states in an article from  seattlesportsinsider.com,

“Jackson is one of a minority of MLB starting pitchers who relies almost exclusively on two pitches, a mid-90s fastball and an effective power slider.

A chef for a father, spice holster at his side and his son becomes a two pitch pitcher! So much for nature! So much for nurture! Parents just set the table I guess, but Jackson has packed his bag 9 times, from the Dodgers to the Rays to the Tigers to I forget the rest, the Cardinals and Cubs, a no-hitter, a World Series ring, and now the Atlanta Braves, and that sounds very much like a military lifestyle  vagabond to me and at 32, he has a chance to top the king of vagabonds – Octavio Dotel who packed his bag 13 times-13 different caps. Maybe Jackson will learn how to throw a knuckle ball this Christmas, in some care free, fun-loving moment, he tosses crumpled up wrapping paper beside a breezy heat duct resulting in the ball dancing giggle stick motions and another toss and another and Merry Christmas Edwin!

Russel Branyon packed his bag 13 times as well, but only played for 10 teams. I watched him hit the longest home run in Miller Park history-IBM Tale of the Tape said 480 feet. He hit it off Greg Maddux, but to dead center, thump against the scoreboard. Could have traveled 600 feet and we wouldn’t have known the damn difference. But Rob Deer blasting one into a 20 mph wind clearing the County Stadium left field bleachers 13 years earlier and we had something to stare at and watch disappear and we never really stopped staring either, still soaring in our minds.

But Branyon is 15th on the all-time list for home runs per at bat, tied with Mickey Mantle. And Ron Kittle is 22nd and Rob Deer is 45th and that ties him with Mo Vaughn, but what really yanks my mind is Hank Aaron in 1973, 40 home runs in 392 at bats.

I always assumed Ruth and Aaron were real far apart in terms of age, time period played and what not, probably a consequence of our TV with Ruth coming at us in fast paced black and white reels and Aaron much more modern with full length games on you tube, Fulton County Stadium color, but there were only 39 years between Ruth’s last at bat and Aaron breaking his record, some sort of logic in that they were born 39 years a part on February 6, 1895 and February 5, 1934, three cheers for Aquarius!

I watched the White Sox and Brewers from July 21, 1983, the other day and Tony La Russa managed the same way he later managed the A’s and Cardinals, the long and wonderful way, the slow pace molasses way, Britt Burns recovering from a sloppy start, finding a groove, lasting into the sixth inning, when La Russa enjoyed an idea and then another and so on, replacing Burns with Hickey, Barojas, Agosto and Lamp and Tidrow warming up in the pen and the Sox still lost in a see saw game. Moose Haas started for the Brewers, had just signed a contract extension, a black belt in Taekwondo and practitioner of magic, love that Haas, but he didn’t figure in the decision. Harvey Kuenn was ejected. Fisk and Luzinski hit home runs. Molitor struck out three times, bounced into a double play, but did hit a chopper over Vance Law at third to drive in the go ahead run. Brewers win 7-6. Yount had 4 hits and 3 RBI’s. Jim Slaton with the save.

Only the names change over the years, but you tube is a fortunate peek into both a tree ring past and a tree top future with every player’s vagabond nature disguised by that not so regular season game, each dressed in perfect colors cooperative and utopia, a baseball commune, one from the sea and another land, one rich and one poor, all five continents. Evan Gattis doing his best Greg Luzinski. A poet and number cruncher, all in the same dugout, headed for the same disaster – the 27th out and then what do we do?

 With a Doug Moe approach, anything is possible.

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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.

21 thoughts on “knuckleballs for christmas

  1. Gaylord Perry only played for 8 teams, but I love his Old Timers game uniform which includes the logos from each one. That’s a strange, but admirable, brand of loyalty …

    • Steve, in your factual pieces, such as this one, your writing style is reminiscent of that of that of the better feature writers for the New York Times sports section.

      Glen

      • Thanks Glen. I’ve never really read the NY Times with much frequency, but I sure do appreciate being lumped together with any American daily paper. Those guys and gals – journalists and feature writers have it tough, coming up with topics, day after day after day like I think some of them still do.

    • Great call Baseball Bloggess on the Gaylord Perry! I looked up 300 game winners, surprised to find so few and glad to see that Gaylord’s 8 teams makes him far and away the king of vagabonds among the 300 winners.

  2. Doug Moe! A coach who never required a 24-second clock. One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, and either shoot or move.

    • Defense is probably good for us like vitamins and a good night sleep, but the possibility of Alex English scoring 40 or more against the Bucks was more then enough reason to sneak out the bedroom and flip on the tube.

  3. Jackson was born in ’83, about the end of the Cold War, and so if the Warsaw Pact actually invaded West Germany, the Braves are probably looking for a different 4th starter this season. Funny how it all works out. Andropov to Chernenko to Gorbachev = Mike Minor to Alex Wood to Edwin Jackson. And Braves are imploding like Red Square Soviets on Christmas, 1991.

    http://www.publicpurpose.com/lib-gorb911225.htm

    Happy Holidays, Steve.

    • And a happy holidays to you too Bill. I just took a look at the Braves 40 man roster and don’t see Edwin Jackson anymore? Might there be a 10th suitor knocking soon?

      • The damned Commies must have got ’em!

        • There is that wonderful tale of Trotsky and his Cleveland Indians cap, found somewhere in Mexico I think, after Trotsky got booted from the old Russian country. Robert Elias wrote it for that Journal Nine, called it “The Secret Life of Leon Trotsky.” I had hoped Trotsky might find his way to Milwaukee since the city had a nice run of Socialist mayors, but I’m not sure if that run corresponded with Trotsky’s last years? Anyway, he seemed like a friendly enough guy, Trotsky and so did Frank Zeidler, the kind of guys who might lug a duffle bag of newspapers into a diner and hold court. Or maybe at Denny’s. I think they serve coffee 24 hours.

          • Or he might have one day run in to Jasper McLevy, the socialist mayor of Bridgeport, CT for about half a century in the 1930’s through the ’50’s. Immensely popular, he took the bus and walked around the city, probably grabbing a cup of coffee here and there, but I don’t think there was a Denny’s there yet, probably just the corner coffee shops, baseball box scores lying on the counter from old newspapers.

            • I guess socialism had its hey day about that time? Interesting. Fared better in the USA. A lot less ethnic annihilations thank goodness and more long skirt spin around folk dance pursuits or maybe I’m confusing those with Polka parties at Milwaukee churches? I seen some old couple spin around for 4 hours non stop one night. They musta been 80 years old or maybe older. Workhorses for sure.

              • Socialism may even be making a bit of a comeback, but then again so (it appears) is fascism.

                • Cities will have metal gates like Franco’s Spain. Mandatory curfews, but free rent. Everyone will live inside the baseball stadium and with state owned farms. plenty of concessions. A few Kinks to work out. I’m just an Apeman, but I think we can make it a more attractive option, unlike never before. The symbol of the flag will be modeled after the hammer and cycle, but two bats, a couple of balls, maybe a few donuts and all of it inside the on deck circle.

                  • Especially like the Kinks reference (Apeman.) Speaking of nuclear war…

                    • Dave KingKongman better be integrated into the initial propaganda pamphlet launch.

                    • Ya know, speaking of Kingman. It always seemed like the bat he used was incredibly small? Or maybe it was simply that he was so big? In any case, I was watching the Brewers and Angels last night, a game from 1985, Doug DeCinses. Wow, he provided a new definition to the closed stance and his teammate Brian Downing, a new one to the open stance, but with DeCinses, I don’t know how he covered the outside part of the plate? Kingman’s bat made me think of it, that plate coverage. How did Kingman cover the plate? I guess he didn’t with all those k’s, but I wonder if he struck out more on balls down main street, plain old whiffing or were the pitches more often on the outside corner and out of his reach? Research for another day I guess.

  4. Steve, now that you mention it, yeah. I can see Kingman striking out mostly at pitches that were on the outside corner or outside or whatever. He had a huge swing. But he always looked really clumsy when he swung and missed on those low and outside pitches. Someone (I don’t remember who) described Kingman so accurately! “He’s like a tall man falling out of a small tree.”

    Glen

    • He was a giant too, maybe even started his career with them or maybe not? Either way, I like that description- giant falling out of a tree, like a primordial cave man’s descent with caveman club in hand or in Kingman`s case, more like a twig.