brewers baseball and things


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the four fling jiggarooo

I was reading a collection of poems last week. They were part of a contest. It had all the winning poems and runner ups and what not. I felt pretty stupid because only one of the poems made any sense and to make me feel even more stupid, it was written by an 11 year old. The poem was about genocide. The kid wondered why so many people had to die for such dumb reasons?

I feel the same way about baseball games these days, the ones on TV. I watch and instantly feel very stupid, like I should study astrophysics or something to better understand all the analysis, graphs, and charts on velocity, trajectory, first step, and what not.

Maybe I should study more science?

Nahhhh….I’d rather contemplate the wonderful world of John Kruk, impersonate his batting stance in the mirror and then invent my own little dance and perform it around my apartment. It’s the middle of November and it’s raining outside.

 

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the 27 club

It’s just a number, but more than a bit strange that so many musicians, artists, and actors have died at the age of 27. The most well-known are probably Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. I took a look at the list the other day and hadn’t heard of most of them, but was shocked by the number of names including the more recent additions of Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse.

So i got to thinking about baseball, about players who died at 27, in the prime of their career. I counted 18 players, the first one being Charlie Hodes, way back in 1875. I had never heard of him and scanning the list, the only player I recognized was the most recent – Lyman Bostock in 1978, shot and killed by a jealous husband.

Two things that stuck out about Bostock were that his father played in the Negro Leagues for a good chunk of time and as is often the case, there are little, if any stats on his career. That always amazes me considering the development and obsession over stats  in the other league that still exists today, the one we call the major leagues. The other thing that stuck out was that after Bostock signed with the California Angels in 1978, he struggled out of the gate and insisted on returning his April salary to the Angels. When they refused, he donated it to charity.

Bostock is part of my gravatar image. I created it one day when I was bored.  He’s to the left of the watch and baseball, at about 8 o’clock, right between I think that’s a 1972 Topps Ron Swoboda? and definitely a 1976 Topps Dock Ellis.


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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.

 

 

 


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not really a book review

I’ve been reading Arnold Hano’s, A Day In The Bleachers. It’s about one game, the first game of the 1954 World Series, between the Cleveland Indians and New York Giants. Hano doesn’t hide his love for the New York Giants. They are his team, but the book is much more than the game itself, much more than the famous Willie Mays catch too. It’s a meandering river of Hano’s thoughts about baseball.

He subscribed to a few superstitions, one of them having to do with batting practice home runs. The more home runs a team hit in batting practice, the less likely they would hit any during the game. Made me wonder who is the all time leader in batting practice home runs? I guess we’ll never know because batting practice home runs is a stat even baseball fanatics never kept track of and probably never will.


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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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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?