brewers baseball and things


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battered bastards of baseball

One of the criticisms of minor league baseball is that teams are under the watchful eye of Big League Daddy. Players are called up to the next level on short notice. What was once a good team turns it into a not so good one. On the one hand, it makes for a unifying force with all affiliates aimed at the big league level like Santa’s little helpers. But how  can a team or a city for that matter build anything under such insecurity?

There were The Milwaukee Brewers of the AAA American Association. They  changed affiliates a number of times, but played from 1902-1952 at Borchert Field in Milwaukee. The major league Brewers of today took their name from that team and their beer barrel chested mascot as well. Only the colors changed.

Some fans opt for the Indy Leagues. There are currently nine Independent baseball Leagues scattered across the USA and Canada including two teams in Quebec. There are three more that play in the winter and a new league – The Southwest League to start up this April. In the early 1970’s the number of Indy leagues had dwindled down to zero. Then something happened in Portland, Oregon. It’s been made into a documentary, Jim Bouton included. It delves into this topic of Indy leagues versus minor leagues and much much more.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s available on Netflix (the internet TV network) and youtube, for the time being. I say time being because many vintage baseball games and programs have been taken down due to copyright violation issues. 

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why i sort of hate history…

game five of the 1982 ALCS
county stadium
milwaukee
i was there
and yet,
I don’t remember a damn thing about the game
not the bark of the vendor, the smell of beer,
or fans running onto the field.
memory is so damn elusive.
nothing but flashes
a dizzy slide show.
only a familiar smell slows it all down,
turns it into an old film
but only for a few seconds.
maybe I don’t want to remember?
maybe I block it out because it’s gone and that makes me sad.
then joe charboneau pops into my head and
just like his name (charbon in french is coal)
there’s fuel.
suddenly, i’m grateful that my memory sucks.
i write this poem.
it forces me to focus on my life right now
that this is all i got.
just this….
the sound of a dumpster flap opening and closing in the breeze,
a walk to work,
some 8-4,
a homeless man begging for a change,
the smile of the post office cashier,
wordpress,
the seasonal discussion of baseball returning to montreal…..


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a visionary dud or?

On a good day after work, I take deep breaths and walk home slowly. It’s paradise. I inhale bus fumes and see amputated trees. It’s been that way for 10 days now….tree stumps on apartment lawns. Makes me wonder if a man in a cape will swoop down at night and turn them into gnomes? Or maybe they’ll be picked up by a shredder truck and turned into pulp?

I hadn’t given these stumps too much thought until I sat down and started to write about them. Maybe the city cut the trees so the overhead electric wires will have more room, in anticipation of freezing rain this winter? Or maybe the trees have been diseased and had to be removed to not contaminate the other trees? Or maybe I’m the chosen one and it’s my duty to gather up all this wood and begin construction on a new baseball stadium? Of course, stadiums aren’t made of wood anymore, but I would be part of a new nation, a chosen nation, that comes together, a nation of warriors, wood gatherers, and millioners….together as one people to get people off their anti-baseball asses. There’s too much culture in Montreal anyway. They already took away our horse tracks.

We wouldn’t be the first to consider ourselves a chosen people. There were the Moonies starring Reverend Sun Myung Moon. He preached that Korea was chosen by god to perform a divine mission. There were also the Tarahumara people of northwest Mexico. You might recognize the name from one of the stories in Dreaming .400…..Running from the Shackles. In it, the main character – Tunis, the one who inspires the test tube baseball babies is part Tarahumara. The story is fictional, but the Tarahumara are real and they believe they are chosen people or “Pillars of the Sky.”

There are many examples of people who believe they are chosen. It probably does wonders for an individual’s self-esteem and potentially propels an entire race to great heights or causes a nosedive into confusion and paranoia. Either way, I like the extremes it begets. With that in mind, what would happen if I heard more voices,

“Collect 18 tree stumps and I will give you a dugout in which to dwell. Collect 7 more and there will be livestock for you everywhere, plenty of cows and pigs to provide an endless supply of hot dog-hamburger-bratwurst stadium concessions, wheat and barley for your beer too, and an endless supply of joy….no more misery, only dancing and joyful noise and screaming and laughing and fun fun fun!”

And then in flash, what if all of it was taken away. What if the 18 stump sacrifices and dugout promises didn’t exist? What if it was all fig newtons of our chosen people’s imagination? Then what? Well, we might look at each other anyway and realize that we had something going on, something good, a dance of sorts, a people, so we might decide under a still standing tree to carry on the tree stump search as a metaphor……..and from there, on that first day, we might find a stray stump and from it, carve out a baseball bat and it may not turn out so good. It may be a bit asymmetrical, but the historians among us might point out that old-time baseball players used bats a little less than perfect too.

 


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let it rain….

Little did I know what baseball cards would eventually do to me. How could I? Do we ever know what a first drink or sniff, shot in the veins will do? I could have invested my newspaper money towards an accordion or a pogo stick and joined a Klezmer band or the circus, made something of my life, but no, I had to fork over bills to the old man dealer at the pharmacy….he wielding his wares with that wicked smile, all under the guise of wholesome American fun, a pastime, an initiation into the way, assimilated and accepted and off with your yarmulke kid and the hell with Odessa!

Little did I know, but it’s true; baseball cards, you are a ghost. You drive me into an obsessive compulsive frenzy, yes a frenzy, and not a disorder, a freaking frenzy, an OCF, an Obsessive Compulsive Frenzy. I pace back and forth in my small apartment because I don’t know what to do with all my cards. I could sell them, if I could find someone who wanted them and I’m sure I could. I have old cards, rare cards, nice rookies, and plenty of complete sets. But something always stops me. It’s…it’s…. it’s……I can’t put my finger on it. Oh how I wish I was a saint like Mother Theresa. Then I could sport a cape, call myself Father Tyrone and roam around town to children’s hospitals and hand out my cards to little Shriner kids. But then those kids would slip into being addicts or maybe worse, wind up like me, pacing in the throws of an OCF.

I could always decorate the sides and tops of a van, turn it into a scooby-doo vehicle, and wander American roads. I’m sure a car company  would donate a van and sponsor my journey. I would need no destination. But there would be no relief, only a bad back from sitting in the car so long. So why not turn it into a cooperative driving exercise with hundreds of card collectors taking turns driving? We would be spread out all over America, Canada too. We would be like a hand-over-the-baton-discover-America baseball card gang. We would have no destination, no ambition, no goal, only driving with baseball cards on our backs like cultural camels.

Or I could invest in a shredder machine, stuff all of my cards into the blades, fill up a bag with all the cardboard scraps, climb city hall’s ladder, roam the roof, and let the shredded cards float and fall. We could all do this, all over America, Canada too, at all the city halls. It would be like every city had won the World Series.


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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.


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elements

our first baseman was tall.
most were
and as they got older,
they had to field and hold runners close to the base.
i don’t know how they ballet did it?
with nomadic hookah hospitality?
nice words trickery?
i never found out,
but i made it to first as a runner and
it felt like a scary desert island.
i admired first baseman even more!

many failed at becoming first baseman.
they drifted to the outfield instead or
across the diamond,
to third base or
they quit baseball altogether and
took up cigarettes, stamp collecting or whatever.

the first baseman i know today is not tall and
he never talks about baseball.
he works in a warehouse.
people go and talk to him.
they get to know each other.


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batter x

little league wasn’t for everyone,
but most kids took their shot at hitting a ball,
back alley dares;
windows were meant to be broken.
i forget the kid’s name,

but it was easier for him when the bat was wet.
he shook the lumber like carney lansford,
all spastic and focused,
certain,
auburn colored hair,
even when he swung and missed,
he screamed and never stopped,
kicked over garbage cans.
he found a way under everyone’s hood.
he took took us from matchbox cars to the moon,
and even now,
so many years later,
i can hear him whizzing as
another pitch,
another day,
heads our way!