brewers baseball and things


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Chuck “my bags please” Porter

No, this is not about the Brewers reliever who suffered the loss in what still is the longest game, time wise, in MLB history, 8 hours, 6 minutes. The game took two days, May 8th and 9th, 1984 and was played at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. The White Sox won in the 25th inning when Harold Baines hit a homer off Porter.

Porter, by definition is someone who carries luggage and loads, hence the Chris Berman nickname. He’s helping someone on the go and that someone is Edwin Jackson. This is an update, a glorious one in honor of Edwin Jackson. A few posts ago, I discussed the starting pitcher in the hopes he might be called back up to the Nationals and win a spot in their starting rotation or bullpen. Unfortunately, the Nats released him, but the A’s picked him up and sent him to AAA where he pitched well enough to earn a call up.

Yesterday, he got the nod to start the game and did well. (6IP, 7K’s, OBB’s, 1 ER) A no decision, but he showed that he can still pitch in the big leagues. He’s only 34 years young and here’s the kicker……he is now tied with Octavio Dotel for most franchises played for in the history of baseball – 13. What makes his traveling ways even more remarkable is that he’s a starter, not a LOOGY.

If I added a photo to this post, it would be a 13-sided collage.

Dear Edwin! You inspire me. Maybe you’ll one day pitch for the Brewers. If not, it doesn’t matter, I will always remember you, especially if one day I lose my job. I will never get too down.

Your friend and fan,
Steve

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sort of a prayer

So Tony Horton gets traded from the Red Sox to the Indians for Gary Bell and he’s probably wondering why since Ted Williams had called him a natural in 1963 at Spring Training. Or maybe he didn’t wonder why. Maybe he witnessed George C. Scott (yes the Boomer’s middle name was Charles) on defense and knew he wouldn’t get a chance at first with the Red Sox. Sure, Scott could hit home runs, but he could also play great D. He even won a few gold gloves according to baseball reference. He musta been a big part of the Brewers. I don’t remember that far back, but a friend of mine from Milwaukee who now lives in Vancouver, Washington was in the south, in Mississippi, and he stumbled on George C. Scott, yes the baseball player and he took some pictures. He was manning a Hickory Smoked Pig House. This was before he passed away or at least I think he passed away?

I did get to witness the guy we traded Scott for….Cecil Cooper and he well, we impersonated his stance all the time, Carew like without the continuous alterations, just a consistent crouch that Cooooooooooop. That’s formative baseball years substance, comes back to mind when I catch a spring summer smell. The nose is a powerful organ, wonderful at times remembering pleasantries, but wicked other times when the opposite is true.

So there Horton goes to Cleveland in exchange for Gary Bell. Maybe Horton got bummed out about the Red Sox being so good the year they traded him? That was 1967, a couple of years before divisions were born. There was some last day significance between the Sox, Tigers, and Twins that season and the Sox finished tops and Horton in Cleveland? I don’t know where the Indians finished in the standings, but it wasn’t first. Still, I doubt that bothered Horton too much. I mean he went on to have some pretty decent years. He hit 10 home runs with Cleveland the year of the trade, slumped a bit the next season, but then bounced back in 1969 with a Charboneau year…. 27 home runs and I think that was the pitcher’s year, no? The year they lowered the mounds to give batters a chance against Bob Gibson.

Come to think of it, after doing some minimal research I discovered that he had a decent swan song season too, 17 homers and oh forget it. What good are stats! I think his method of termination was slit the wrists, but he failed and sort of lives on in mystery, but so do most suicides and almost suicides unless they are very good at vocalizing things or writing things down, but even then, as Lori Anderson sang……”Language is a virus.” I guess she meant to say it’s limited at best and doesn’t get to the eye of the storm. There is a Police Song that cites the limits of language too. It’s about love……”de dooo dooo doooo de daaa daaa daaa.”

Today’s billboard – Let Your Inner Self Scream Out.

I sometimes sit on my sofa and stare into space and wish players like Tony Horton had given themselves a break more often and then I realize I’m wishing the same for myself and everyone else.

Sun Ra would sell these types of singles out of the back of a car at shows. Often times they had homemade art work on the cover. Many of them had no record label. This one happens to be on Saturn Records. I believe that’s June Tyson who opens the chant with “Lightning, darkness” and then Sun Ra kicks in with the chant and the Arkestra follows like a caravan….on and on and on.


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take me out to the church organ

David Letterman’s band leader, Paul Shaffer was a master at speaking through the music he played. He sent subliminal messages to portray the nature of Letterman’s guests. Were they being pompous or humble, sophisticated or a louse. He had a song for everything. Nothing comes to mind right now, but the sport of DJ-ing about a person took root in baseball as well. I think the White Sox organist got the ball rolling by playing that NAH NAH NAH NAH song when the opposing team’s pitcher got taken out of the game…..HEY HEY HEY GOODBYE.

With that in mind, I love sun ra’s music, his fans too. They keep posting material on you tube….this one from 1948…church organ music…super rare i assume and maybe some of his earliest recorded works and well…i enjoy imaginging i’m at a Brewers game and there’s a pitching change or better yet, a rain delay when this comes on to pass the time….


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two strikes and you’re out?

There ain’t much worse than booger freeze winds, but there is a solution. Stay inside and watch old Brewers games uploaded onto YouTube.  I stumbled on County Stadium’s last home opener back in 2000. The new Miller Park hovers over it like a giant spider. The Park’s opening was delayed because of a tragic crane accident. This game was the seventh of the young season for the Brewers, the first for Davey Lopes as the skipper.

1:14:23 into this game, a funny thing happened. The Brewer’s Jose Hernandez had just begun his at bat. It was the second pitch, a swinging strike, less than fifteen seconds into the plate appearance when he seemed to mistake his swinging strike as the final one of the at bat.  The announcer said,

“The cold weather can freeze your mind up.”

It was cold that day, something like 38 degrees with a minus 16 windshield, but what the announcer failed to point out was that Jose Hernandez struck out 140 times with the Cubs in 1998 and another 145 times in 1999. Of course, the announcer had no way of knowing that Hernandez would struck out another 125 times with the Brewers in that 2000 year or that he would establish the Brewer’s all- time single season record with 188 k’s two years later.

I’m no logician, but him walking away from the plate at 1:14:23 seems to suggest that either A) He was freezing his ass off and wanted to get back in the dugout or B) He was so used to striking out that he just assumed the second strike was the third or C) All of the above. In fairness to Hernandez, he did hit an outside pitch on the line, for an out to end the inning, but still pretty well struck.


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post apocalyptic baseball starter kit

I had no idea what the rumors of Jose Abreu being traded to the Red Sox might do. I mentioned it Thursday morning as a work warm up and the lone Red Sox fan in our Montreal warehouse smiled a David Ortiz smile and then added,

“Wasn’t there another Abreu in baseball?”

“Yeh,” I said. “Bobby Abreu.”

“For the Cardinals?” he asked

“No, a couple of other teams, but mostly the Phillies,” I said.

“Oh yeh the Phillies,” he responded. “He was an Expos killer.”

I had no idea about Abreu being an Expo killer but I related to the horror because Reggie Jackson murdered the Brewers at County Stadium. I told my co-worker this. He paused and then said,

“We’re going to an Expos game one day.”

He might have been referring to the annual spring training games held at Olympic Stadium between the Blue Jays and some other team, but he said Expos. I could have asked him, could have made clarification my top priority, but I prefer riffing off someone any way I like, delusional as it may be.

So one day we were going to an Expos game. Hmmmm. Of course things would have to change. Typically baseball arouses ire rather than awe in Montrealers. They seem to use the sport as a springboard to deconstruct society and all its woes, maybe understandably so considering the Expos were stolen from Montreal and moved to Washington D.C.

Then there is a group that welcomes the idea of baseball back here, but only if there is a new stadium. They know exactly where to put one too, how much money it would generate, and so on. No one liked Olympic Stadium. No one does. This is nothing new. Even the Expos management didn’t like it back in 1975 when they promised major league baseball it was a temporary solution while a new stadium was built. We’re still waiting. But a new stadium wouldn’t solve Montreal’s problems. Sure, if you build one, people would come, but only for a year or two and then what? The newness of the fashion would fade.

I say forget the new stadium mentality. Start over. Take a new road. Mind you this is very much a work in progress. I’m no urban planner, but as a baseball fan in Montreal I can only tolerate so much Bobby Wine-ing. Here’s my nine cents…..

1) revive Montreal’s lost rivers from before the automobile highways aroused a strange desire in cement.
2) create blue prints to carve canoes from fallen trees, paddles too.
3) 
build real simple baseball diamonds all over the place, river to river.
4) organize teams according to old parish neighborhoods
5) open bars and diners near the diamonds.

6) organize baseball games.
7) don’t keep score.

8) stop the games at random moments and have players and fans breathe, feel the wind, make games longer.
9) make batting practice a city-wide every day holiday and let fans take batting practice after every game.


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flick your bic for one more song

It’s 1954, Christmas Eve, in Boise, Idaho and all young Petie Squibbles can think of is the organ he hopes to find under the Christmas Tree come morning. The idea of an organ sort of came as a surprise. It happened in Boston a few months earlier.

Petie and his pops were on a trip out east, to Fenway Park, to see Jimmy Piersall and the Red Sox play and much to Petie’s surprise came the soothing sound of an organ blaring in from the overhead stadium speakers. From that moment on, he dreamed of having one to play in their Idaho basement.

Is this realistic? Did kids really long for organs the same way they did a few years later with guitars, after seeing Elvis or The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show?

Organs are an old instrument, dating back to Ancient Greece. Apparently they were water organs back then, whatever that is, but what gets me pumped is that they were predominately played during races and games as opposed to strictly religious ceremonies. That seems to set the later stage for sporting events.

The first baseball team to have an organ was the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on April 26, 1941 when Ray Nelson played the pipe organ. The following year, the Dodgers made Gladys Gooding at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn the first ever full-time organist.

Other teams soon joined in the organ fun. The sound added to the ambiance of the stadium and even enhanced the experience of watching the actual game. At some point the organists began to mirror the actions on the field, almost like DJ’s spinning appropriate records and in some cases sarcastic ones. They provided musical commentary. One of the more well-known was Nancy Faust of the White Sox. She would play the Paul Leka song ‘Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye’ after the opposing pitcher gave up a home run or was in jeopardy of being taken out of the game.

More than anything else, I find the organ to be a very relaxing sound. I have fond memories of hearing ‘Roll Out the Barrel’ during the 7th inning stretch of Milwaukee Brewers home games. That was back when they played at County Stadium.

The baseball organs disappeared with the arrival of new stadiums in the early 1990’s or maybe it was because of all the commercial music and other pre-recorded noises piped in. Thankfully, interest has revived and slowly, teams have brought back the organ including the Brewers at Miller Park.

I don’t know if kids really dream of owning an organ, but former pitcher Denny McLain once had one and he recorded an album ‘Denny McLain at the Organ.’ I like the tune ‘Extra Innings.’ Every time I play the song’s last notes and think the song is over, I am always surprised when those same notes repeat, a reminder of the beauty of Extra Innings, that once hooked and reeled in by a game, I never want it to end.

The song reminds me of a game I watched on TV. It was the longest game in major league history, a game between the Brewers and White Sox at Comiskey Park. It was suspended on May 8, 1984 and finished the following night. The Sox won 7-6 when Harold Baines hit a home run off Chuck “my bags please” Porter.

25 innings in all.
43 hits.
Tom Seaver got the win.
I love extra innings.
I love the organ.


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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.