brewers baseball and things


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antarctica baseball

i was watching the last game of the 1980 regular season, white sox hosting the angels at Comisky park. The turquoise seats stuck out. They looked so sea dreamy mermaid.  Jimmy Piersall stuck out too. He shared the broadcasting with Harry Caray, at least the first three innings of it. They had a soft core spar about who was the mvp for the 1980 white sox . Harry had interviewed Jim Morrison before the game and decided on him. Piersall disagreed. He voted for Mike Squires due to his great defense at first base.

I was initially attracted to the game because Harold Baines was in the lineup. 1980 was his rookie year. He hit a double to drive in a run in the bottom of the second inning and then scored on a passed ball all the way from second base. He was fast back then. Had a healthy set of knees.

Max Patkin,the clown prince of baseball, appeared in the top of the 4th inning. I had no idea he performed his various acts while the game was sort of going on. He stole the glove of the Angel’s first baseman’s while he was tossing ground balls to the infield between innings. He even did a few routines after the inning had started. Someone from the Comiskey crowd tossed a roll of toilet paper on the field and Max stuffed it under his shirt and pretended to have breasts. The White Sox won.

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dear candlestick park

i didn’t know about you until watching Cubs at the Giants games on WGN, sometime in the early 80’s, but I was immediately struck by something. Back then we called it 20,000 leagues under the sea. that was our code word for exotic or out of this world. the spaceship by the water, the orange uniforms, the hot dog wrappers in the wind, Ed Halicki.


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a temporary cure

I was reading the book Miracle at Fenway earlier this month. It’s about the building of the 2004 Red Sox team that won the World Series.

The one thing I remember about the book is that Larry Lucchino almost single-handedly saved Fenway park. He decided that it should be renovated rather than knocked down. Another thing I remember is something that happened to the Red Sox’ Kevin Millar. He was in a hitting slump. He turned on the TV. I think the ESPN highlights were on. He noticed that the Mariner`s Miguel Olivo had made a change. He was batting with an open stance.

Millar decided to do the same and he started to hit again.

That reminded me of being in a Burlington, Vermont Motel. I couldn’t sleep and so I slipped into the bathroom. I was reading the book Nausea at the time. The bathroom lights were bright like the cosmetics section of a pharmacy. I stumbled on the passage or the sentence where the writer realizes he could will himself happy.

That struck me as an important kind of revolution. I didn’t actually believe it. How could anyone simply decide that they were going to be happy? That seemed impossible. I hadn’t thought about that book or that passage all that much until discovering earlier this month what Kevin Millar did.

I’m assuming there will be bad days ahead; depressing ones, angry ones, sad ones. I have no magic cure, but I do have a 29 inch aluminum Worth baseball bat and so I might take a few swings in the early morning before I start my day, with an open stance of course….nothing to lose, worth a try, and so on.


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3rd and roundtree

He was no different from most in that he had two ears, a nose and mouth. He also walked on two legs. But his eyes were different. One was burgundy –  the color of dinner wine. The other eye was silver – the color of lone ranger’s shirt. His eyes switched in the PM of most days with the burgundy eye bleeding silver and the silver bleeding burgundy. Caused beautiful confusion and melted notions of north and south or left and right.

There was only sun and moon, up and down, and roll away.

I bumped into him on the corner of 3rd and Roundtree. He stood there and spoke his peace and when he was finished he put a feather behind his ear.

I returned the following day and I wasn’t alone. There was another guy and together we listened to him speak his peace and add a second feather behind his ear. This went on for seven consecutive days with a new person joining us each day and a new feather being added behind his ear.

We were suddenly seven eager ducks and since none of us had smart phones we looked all around at the leaves falling and at traffic lights changing colors. We looked at birds, railroad tracks, clouds, and roads – how those roads dominated the landscape looking like dragon tongues weaving every which way, how the automobile ruled the roost. The headlights were beautiful. They looked like orbs at night insisting on the future.

I felt kinda drunk, but I hadn’t drunk anything, other than water. I rolled away on the eighth day and felt a bit gloomy with those feathers and those people no longer near. I was caught up in a swirl of leaves, some of them shaped like helicopters heading home, heading down, suckers to gravity, all 162 games, all of ’em  once upon a spring surprise offering so much sudden promise were now gone to the sewer grate, gone again, again, again round and round the big break up of seasons, the loud silence, the amputation.

OK, maybe I exaggerate, but night, terrible night is the end of the world and then abracadabra, there’s morning and with some coffee and rocking back and forth, the beginning of a new world. 

 


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one foot in front of the other…..

He said the trees told him everything he ever needed to know. It was the way a fallen branch took root and grew on its own, “as sure as a bullfrog or bumblebee” he would say.

We were walking away from a Salt Lake City Hotel room when we heard him whispering,

“cola, cola, cola.”

He was on the other side of the street. There was plenty of traffic between us, but we could still hear him. Made it kind of amazing.

“cola cola cola,” he said again.

His voice never grew softer as he got closer so we kept on hearing him and he kept on saying “cola cola cola.”  He must have said it 30 times. It was a soothing contrast from our previous night – all that screaming and stage diving from the hotel room’s upper floor. We had never been in a room with two levels. We burned pages from the bible and pretended we were on a West Coast Rock and Roll tour.

“cola cola cola.”

He didn’t fold up his arms or lean against the hotel lobby wall. He didn’t shove his hands in his pockets either. He just stood there, arms at his side, steady. He had dark beautiful beads for eyes – infinity eyes. I was both terrified and put at ease. He extended his right arm and squeezed my forearm. He pulled me closer very gently. He said it was the Apache way of greeting someone and that cola meant friend in either Apache or Lakota language. I forget which.

We had spent our last dime on that hotel room. All we had left was a bus ticket to San Rafael, California. We also had jobs lined up and a place to stay. Our new friend had lost his mother and he needed to walk. He wasn’t Apache. His mom was Northern Cheyenne and Dad a descendant of a beer baron family from Hamburg, Germany. Dad escaped the baron fate as a stowaway aboard a Krumshaka ship back when the Northern Cheyenne were living in what is now Minnesota, east of the Mississippi. He made a name for himself killing buffalo, but lost his taste for pillage and hides when he met Blue Bridge of the Northern Cheyenne. He lost his head. His heart opened. He took to her way of life.

This walk our friend was on was not an around the block walk. It was a walk with no destination. He called it a Kiowa walk to honor their neighbors to the south who took to many migrations in their history.

“Not many more migrations these days, only the inner kind,” he said, “To see with hobo freshness.” He smiled after saying that and I suddenly felt guilty about what we had done to the Bible the night before. All those animal sacrifices of the Hebrews condensed into today’s ritual prayer and yet, we decided to burn pages from the bible? Oh screw it! We were on our own journey.

We walked with him. I noticed that the cars in Salt Lake city were covered with stickers that either said “praise the lord” or  “Mormons on drugs.” We walked in the direction of steeples and spires, of the Great Mormon Church or maybe they were pointy hills up ahead. It was hard to tell with the sun’s glare so strong. Either way, the horizon looked like zigzagging vital signs. We walked on and a perfect blue day turned into a perfect black night. The fringes of that horizon were still burning orange and purple when cola stumbled on a pile of clothes that could have easily been a bag of cannibalistic heads. Our minds were tricking us. Cola felt around the bag with his feet. One of those abandoned lives most likely. There were shoes beside the bag as well. Freaked me out. It was as if a spaceship had dropped in and beamed someone up.

Cola removed a few socks from the bag and tied them together like someone trapped on the fifth floor of a burning hotel room – a sock ladder of descent. He said it was a hoop and then we walked some more. He collected large fallen branches along the way and when he had enough branches, he stopped again and began to whittle away the tops and make them sharp. He used the force in his fingers and a rock he had also picked up.

He said we were gonna play the hoop and pole game.

He gave an explanation of the game’s origins, about a young virgin impregnated by a spirit named Sweet Root. The virgin abandoned the child. An old woman found him and named him Sweet Medicine because it was where medicine roots grow. The kid became a great hunter but no one cared about him because he lived with an old lady grandma in a tepee. 

Cola then counted out steps in the direction of the sun rise. Musta been 30 or 40 steps. Then he continued to talk of the game’s origins.

The kid told his grandma to make a hoop wrapped in buffalo hide and to prepare four cherry sticks. Old lady grandma did just that and so he began to throw the sticks through the hoop and people gathered round, interested in this new game. He threw the fourth stick and when it went through the hoop, it changed into a fat buffalo calf, a magical calf too because there was always meat to eat from then on. The game became a promise…playing it ensured an abundance of buffalo.

*Thanks to that great big wonderful coffee table book The Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Indian Mythology for details on the Hoop-And-Pole Game.

**And thanks to baseball reference. I took a quick look at the all time leaders in fewest walks per nine innings. Candy Cummings tops the board with 0.4731. He’s followed by Tommy Bond, Al Spalding, and Cherokee Fisher and well, I can’t help wondering if they ever walked into the hoop and pole game?