brewers baseball and things


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elements

our first baseman was tall.
most were
and as they got older,
they had to field and hold runners close to the base.
i don’t know how they ballet did it?
with nomadic hookah hospitality?
nice words trickery?
i never found out,
but i made it to first as a runner and
it felt like a scary desert island.
i admired first baseman even more!

many failed at becoming first baseman.
they drifted to the outfield instead or
across the diamond,
to third base or
they quit baseball altogether and
took up cigarettes, stamp collecting or whatever.

the first baseman i know today is not tall and
he never talks about baseball.
he works in a warehouse.
people go and talk to him.
they get to know each other.


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batter x

little league wasn’t for everyone,
but most kids took their shot at hitting a ball,
back alley dares;
windows were meant to be broken.
i forget the kid’s name,

but it was easier for him when the bat was wet.
he shook the lumber like carney lansford,
all spastic and focused,
certain,
auburn colored hair,
even when he swung and missed,
he screamed and never stopped,
kicked over garbage cans.
he found a way under everyone’s hood.
he took took us from matchbox cars to the moon,
and even now,
so many years later,
i can hear him whizzing as
another pitch,
another day,
heads our way!


9 Comments

the first breath again

the old barber shop,
with a red, white and blue twirl outside and
a chair i had never seen before inside.
i was too small so the barber laid a board across the arm wrests to raise me up.
there was a mirror in front of me.
there was a mirror behind me.
i could see myself repeating for infinity.
the barber gave me a bazooka joe bubble gum when he was done cutting.
the wind felt right as I walked away.

i don’t look at the mirror much anymore.
it reminds me too much,
of what’s been lost,
baseball’s four divisions
and before that,
the two leagues of my grandpa’s time
all spring summer season long they played for
only one winner per league,
one playoff called the World Series,
all those games for nothing i love that,
no wild cards,
no inter league play,
no money sponsors commercial,
only strange named relievers and hot dog wrappers.

i like the smell of a vagabond.
i like the will of a can collector.
i like the runaway train determination of anyone doing what they love to do.
i cut my own hair these days.


8 Comments

outside

a deck of playing cards is scattered about my route to work
just like it was before the snow fell frozen,
stray numbers,
stray royalty.

i look up instead.

a satellite dish and a crow share a roof top.
makes me long for the order of a baseball diamond,
i go there,
but there are only partially underground dugouts,
3 feet underground dugouts,
abandoned,
a used condom and candy bar wrappers in the corner,
but it’s a kid’s crumpled up 
homework assignment that saddens me the most.

i think about cancer, name calling, depression, stubbed toes and all sorts of woes, but then i think about those cups we used as kids, the ones we connected with strings and communicated with one another and then i think about walkie-talkies and dugout phones and bullpen phones and a manager summoning something ancient from the bullpen ——the menagerie of a reliever, the circus of his hair, a messiah, an assassin, to climb the mound and prevent any further damage, to preserve it all, and in the next half inning,
to give us another chance,
one more chance,
and then one more,
over and over again.


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the impossible possible anatomy of perfection

every once in a while Dennis Martinez’s perfect game pops up in conversation. Gets me wondering how many perfectos there have been. off the top of my head hmmmmm, I start with Len Barker in 1981 and then of course Don Larson in the World Series 1950 something, Sandy Koufax a few years later and Mike Witt on the last day of the 1984 season….Tom Browning, David Cone and David Wells. More recently, Matt Cain did it and so did Felix Hernandez and oh yeh, Dallas Braden and Philip Humber and i’m missing a bunch but the point is Braden and Humber everything suddenly seems possible.


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pop corn seeds and Eric T

A few weeks ago when the Brewers non-tendered Chris Carter, I think they became the first team in major league history to non-tender the previous season’s home run champion. Carter hit 41 bombs in 2016 to tie the Rockies Nolan Arenado for the National League lead.

A few weeks after dumping Carter, the Brewers did something even weirder. They signed Eric Thames to a three-year contract. Thames spent the last three seasons playing in Korea. I listened to the press conference welcoming him to Milwaukee. Manager Craig Counsell admired the journey Thames had taken to play baseball and looked forward to his journey continuing in Milwaukee. Thames said the pitching in Korea was a lot slower and that it would take some time to adjust to major league velocity.

The transaction was very inspiring. I was almost tempted to drag my bat to the nearest batting cage and rig the machines late at night when no one was watching, take some swings, get up to snuff and try out for the Brewers first base job, but instead I’ll just dedicate the next two paragraphs to Eric Thames and his new life as the Brewers first baseman.

The grapes were bigger that summer. The newspapers blamed it on too much rain. Mr. Crimkins said it was all the dogs licking trees and bushes, spitting nutrition into the fruits, he insisted. Eric T stuffed a handful in his pockets,braved the steps in three monster leaps and stole away into the basement. That’s where he enjoyed the next few months of his life, sitting down there among a bat collection. He had all kinds of bats – yellow birch, hickory, ash, maple, all sizes too and all kinds of players – Lyman Bostock, Ned Yost, Pepper Martin, and Rob Picciolo, just to name a few.

Eric T entered into a zone after leaping down those basement steps. It was like incense fumed in his head or a siren sounded. It was a call to attention –  to work out the kinks of his stance – Cooper crouch or spastic Morgan twitch or maybe both and that holy trinity of medicine – spit, swing and swat grapes and popcorn seeds every which way.

Yes, he had popcorn seeds in his pockets in addition to grapes and he spit them both out his mouth; hit them hard too, so hard, that Eric T dreamed up wine and popcorn afternoons, but more importantly was the repetitive motion. It quickened his wrists and smoothed his hip tango gyrations.

Eric T. rose from the basement into the full bloom of the 2017 season and in early April showed signs of swat and being selective too. His on base percentage hovered near .400 for a while and little by little, Brewers fans forgot all about Chris Carter’s 41 home runs.