brewers baseball and things


diamond therapy

It became kind of clear they didn’t want us there. The little darts came zooming in from every direction and they were loaded with some sort of sedative; knocked us on our ass, out cold. Lucky we weren’t carrying gold in our teeth or we’d be hubcaps in east St. Louis, gone and forgotten.

We woke up in an alley atop mattresses with springs jetting out, stray newspapers everywhere. Bottle caps galore, broken glass too, smell of a cat urine,  a little like Eucalyptus. We all rolled around a while, still recooping from the darts, fell back to sleep, cut my hand on a stray sardine can or maybe it was a dream? Sucked the blood for breakfast. It was real. Everyone else was hungry. It was way past sunrise. We were way behind schedule. Actually, we had no schedule. We had quit our jobs and settled on a life of nothing. This was day one.

Ghetto criteria came into full zoom and bloom…..the trifecta of a check cashing institution, a liquor store, and a holy site, church or otherwise, in this case, Luigi’s Mosque which happened…go figure, to be a former church. The front door had a ram for a knocker; made a loud thump sound. We let it loose five times before someone came to the door. There were three of us. We held out our hands, hoping for a falafel ball or silver coin, something, anything, but all we got was the pork-o-meter, a simple device, much like a metal detector. They x-rayed our ass or rather, read our entrails. We had no chance. The pork rinds and strips of bacon we had eaten lit up like bolts of lightning. The mosque master handed us each a bag of coins and flung us to freedom. 

We spoke with fake Arabic accents, but it was no use. We lacked the royal family gene so we sucked up some air and remembered the rumors about pay phones; how a few still existed at the bottom of Silendro’s shopping mall, and if you tapped the cap with a paper clip, you could win a dial tone, free of charge. I stepped into the booth first and liked the sit down position much more than the walk around, look important cell phone routine.

called the suicide hotline.

“Press one if you’re feeling like an overdose with Valium washed down with Whisky.
Press two if you prefer carbon monoxide poisoning.
Press three if you have a rope and are near a chin up bar or some other horizontal pole.
Press four if you have a bridge to jump from not too far away.”

This went on and on and if I hadn’t thought about suicide before calling, I sure did now, all the recordings and no actual human, but fittingly the reel of spiels ended on the ninth option. Nine…. like nine players on a diamond. I smashed the phone down, not out of disgust or hatred at the world. I did it for the sudden synchronicity over the number nine. I put my arm around my buddy’s shoulders and we walked to the liquor depot. We pooled our bags of coins together and bought a bottle of rot gut wine, Carlo Rossi, so big we needed a wheel barrow to lug it along.

Instead, we cruised by the junkyard and snatched up an abandoned stroller and then…..well….we strolled, a family of four…..the three of us and our baby bottle red tucked nicely in the stroller throne, a cherry king.  We drank and drank and we were lit up when we entered the diamond. I forget who was playing….high school or little league, maybe an Indy league team? It didn’t matter. It was relaxing.

We lived another day.



and happy birthday Harold!!

The sleeping pill-mood stabilizer-tranquilizer-five mile run around the block-glue sniffing distractions to snooze through the Jake Arietta daze are finally over sweet Jesus brotherly love Philadelphia for signing the former Cy Young award winner for three years at 75 million dollars….75 million?

I remember as a  kid trying to count to a million. I quit after a thousand and assumed it wasn’t possible to do in a single lifetime, but apparently it is…..

“If you count every minute of every hour of every day, you would reach 1,000,000 in 6 days, 22 hours, and 40 minutes, almost 1 week.”

But still 75 million is a lot of money. I don’t know where all of it comes from or how it’s distributed to keep everyone happy, from the big free agents to the grounds crew to the peanut vendors, but it happens, one season after another. Baseball isn’t quite the age of an empire, but it’s older than 100 years and that’s something.

Hail hail the chief, a.k.a. Mr. David Stearns (DS), Milwaukee’s General Manager for not biting the bullet and signing big free agent pitchers to dreaded four-year deals. In pre (DS) days we screwed ourselves by signing Jeff Suppan and Matt Garza for way too long. This year we went under the radar and signed Jhouyls Chacyn to a humble two-year contract for 15 million, still a lot, but he apparently has one of the deadliest sliders in baseball. We also invited former Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo to camp along with Wade Miley to duke it out in an old gun slinging wild west shoot out. May the most effective March hurler win a trip to the 25 man roster. I prefer spring training battles rather than short cut free agent signings.

All the experts had the Brewers in the mix for Arrieta, Alex Cobb, and Lance Lynn (recently signed with the Twins) They said the Brewers needed to muscle up their staff after losing ace Jimmy Nelson last year in a freakish pitcher injury. Aren’t all pitcher injuries freakish? No, he didn’t trip over a sprinkler or stub his thumb painting a gutter, but he did mush his shoulder sliding back into first base. Freaky enough, especially for Milwaukee, an American League city for its first 27 years, a place where DH’s ruled the roost. Larry Hisle comes to mind. There were others. I can’t remember them right now, maybe Von Joshua, Dick Davis, Thad Bosley, Joey Meyer, Billy Joe Robidoux, Jeffrey Leonard. What a job; that toiling away all alone, pacing between the dugout and clubhouse…… I did a quick search of all time greatest DH’s and Paul Molitor popped up. I don’t remember if he DH’d for the Brewers, but what a career, so great that….

“He is one of only four players to have 3,000 hits, a .300 career average and 500 stolen bases. The others are Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and Eddie Collins.”

Some argue “but he was a DH.” Others argue “AND he was a DH,” the difference being that a DH is not awarded the distraction of going to the field and forgetting about the previous inning’s K with the bases loaded. It takes a special mind to be a DH.

Harold Baines…he too served time as a DH, a border line Hall of Famer, a hitter with a front leg kick. I’m biased. He’s may all time favorite player; takes me back to my baseball formative years when it – baseball was everything, the only thing. It’s his birthday today….March 15th. Happy Birthday Harold!

In other news, Edwin Jackson pitched OK for the Nationals on Monday – three innings, three hits, two walks, two k’s, one earned run, It doesn’t look like he’ll crack their starting staff, but he could very well make it as a spot starter/long man. He says it’s not about the money. It’s about still having more in the tank. More in the tank…..more in the tank…..more in the tank…….my new every day mantra.



dear sammy the saber toothed metric…

I don’t regret backs of baseball cards being my bible. But I sometimes wish I had studied nuclear physics and/or gotten a better grip on advanced metrics or come to think of it, maybe not; maybe I’m lucky to be so green, so wet behind the ears when it comes to formulas used to evaluate player performance. It allows me to experience all the newness of what must seem so rudimentary to a seasoned sabermetric.

I’ve heard arguments against metrics; that they are the root of all baseball evil; that the real game exists between the chalked lines –  the smell of grass, the dirt in between one’s toes, the chatter of an infield to support his pitcher, the lack of a time clock though this seems in jeopardy too, a topic for another today. But one quick point about the proposed mound visit limitations, pitcher’s clock, and batters not being allowed to step outside the batter’s box.


All of this speed up the damn game because games were longer last year than ever before. Didn’t commercials have something to do with it?

Back to my post. Don’t we live in the best of both worlds, the back alley baseball eternity coupled with studying a stadium’s dimensions and how they impact a player’s performance? Why can’t the two be a dynamic duo?

I love the walk…..not just a walk, but so many kinds of walks? I know of the intentional walk or sort of since the pitcher is no longer required to actually throw four balls in another effort to speed up the damn game. There is also the unintentional intentional walk when a pitcher pitches around a batter. And on the other extreme, there are 13 pitch at bats when the batter fouls off one after another of the pitcher’s best stuff, presumably wearing him down which may or may not weaken him in the next inning or even against the next batter. And then there are so many shades in between these two extremes…..and with that

I bow to Sammy the saber toothed metric.



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.




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.



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.






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.