brewers baseball and things


more kosher hot dogs

I used to wonder how baseball might alter the political climate of the Middle East. The props were all in place – Great Wall, sunny skies, plenty of sand to be used as dirt for base paths, a pitcher’s mound, warning tracks. Suicide bombers could be converted to suicide squeezes, etc etc. Lion lays down with lamb. Easy as ABC. I figured if they can play in sun dry Arizona, they can play in Tel Aviv with water from the Mediterranean Sea keeping the grass green or maybe it’s too salty? Is it salty?

Anyway, the Civil War in America was apparently the bloodiest of all wars America has been involved in. I like to think that baseball was an effective opium elixir to calm everybody the fudge down. The civil war finished in 1865. The World Series began in 1901. There were no teams in the south at that point, but people knew about the game and played in peach patches and farm fields and what not. I like the odds of baseball doing some similar wonder work in the Middle East.

I forget how I tracked down Peter Kurz – Secretary General of the Israeli Association of Baseball (IAB), but his response included a phone number and a thumbs up for an interview. This was way back in 2009. The experience sort of spoiled my idealism of the Algerian Grounds and King Tut Stadium and what not, but opened my mind to a grassroots baseball scene that has been happening in Israel for almost 30 years.

Israel failed to get into the 2013 World Baseball Classic. They lost to Italy in ten innings in a qualifying game. But they beat Great Britain this past September to qualify for the 2017 WBC which begins in early March. If you’re bored and have 10 minutes, here’s my interview with Peter Kurz.



face lifts and Kimchi

The Brewers have been emptying the cupboard of everything except Ryan Braun. He’s the only player that remains from the 2011 team that reached the National League Championship. This is nothing out of the ordinary. It’s what teams do when they decide to rebuild. Trade players before they become free agents. Trade them when their value is high and get some prospects in return who very few fans have ever heard of.

Khris Davis, Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy, Mike Fiers, Martin Maldonado Jean Segura, Jeremy Jeffress, and Wil Smith are all gone, so is Chris Carter. The Brewers signed him last year and he did everything they expected and more. He hit 41 home runs, tied for the National League lead. He also led the team in RBI’s with 94, but he struck out a whopping 206 times and hit .222, but then again the year before in Houston, he hit .199. People say he is a friendly, good clubhouse kind of guy and on TV he looks like one,  but friendly doesn’t win pennants. Eric Thames does. Eric Thames? Shortly before or after the Brewers handed Carter a pink slip, they signed Eric Thames.

Thames spent the last three years playing in Korea where he hit a ton of home runs. He said in the press conference that he would need a little time to adjust to major league pitching because it’s so much faster than the Korean League. The numbers Thames put up as a member of the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball Organization are whiffle ball high. He hit .348 over the three-year span with a .450 OB% and a .720 slugging %. In addition, apparently the stadiums in Korea are very hitter friendly.

It’s a crazy move, not quite Sidd Finch, but compelling enough to make opening day 2017 seem even more interesting.





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.



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.



seasonal affective delight

A tint of magic in those naked trees over there,
an OK signal to dream again,
of Rowland Office and his long gone ilk.




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.



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.