brewers baseball and things


maybe this will get my turtle to dance

i’ve been sticking to the Ben franklin creed – early to bed-early to rise so i’ve missed all the world serious games, but i caught a bit last night and i gotta be honest…’s annoying to watch a game that’s in atlanta…those stupid tomahawk arm drops look like heil hitlers and the chants that accompany them are more annoying…..the same sound over and over and over, such a mind fuck. why can’t they shut up and let the organ play? i had to turn the sound down and to make it all worse was that trump was there doing the chop and this isn’t some pc rant of mine. i could care less about calling teams indians or braves or whatever. if anything, it should inspire people to look up what braves means or what indians means and if they have half a brain, they’ll quickly discover that there are endless tribes and languages and nations within the usa and if they have any gratitude they’ll thank baseball for being the spark that opened their mind to maybe a part of american history they never knew. i did a journalism internship on the kahnawakee mohawk reservation a few years back and i asked the editor of the local paper there – the Eastern Door what the big deal was about team names, ya know the stereotypes and ooops, he replied kind of angrily – “would you want the yankees to be called the new york jews?” fuck if i care…it might get nitwits to do some research and discover that there was a hillel zeitlin and a baal shem tov and a shlomo carlbach and a moshe dayan and meir kahane and some other jews on the corner sipping brown paper bag beer who could care less about jewish things…….i’m so sick and tired of all the simple answers provided by the internet, the pod casts and blogs and know it alls…..bunch of tsars!!!!!
in my stupid opinion… uneventful series so far. 



the brewers are 15-27

I feel like an obese person conveniently preaching that beauty is only skin deep. The Brewers lost last night, to the Braves, 10-1, but it’s gonna be ok. It always was ok.

The Middle East and Southeast Asia were carved up by drunk colonizers in the aftermath of World War II or maybe it happened decades earlier? Wasn’t the world once Austria Hungarian Ottoman Persian Assyrian Babylonian Etruscan Hebrew? I should keep my day job, but over there, in some anonymous Idaho stream maybe  there is extra terrestrial dust from long long even longer ago?

Makes me wonder why the Houston Colt .45s included a decimal point before their name and why there was no apostrophe between 45 and s. Was there some drunk grammar colonizing crew that decided exception to the rule or maybe it’s  me who doesn’t know the rules?  Should there be a decimal point before 45?

Apparently there is supposed to be one before .45 but why no apostrophe between 5 and s as in Colt .45s? I guess for the same reason there is no apostrophe between the r and s of Brewers as in Milwaukee Brewers. English is complicated.

The Colt 45s, excuse me the Colt .45s  played in Colt Stadium from 1962-64 before moving into the 8th wonder of the world Astrodome. Colt Stadium apparently featured rattle snakes on the field, horrific heat and humidity and  nasty swarms of mosquitos. Some called it a barn which was maybe generous because barns have hay for rolling around in and smooching and I suspect there was a baby or two conceived at Colt Stadium.

These mosquitos remind me of the black flies of quebec north which apparently drove the native americans on summer vacation to the Atlantic coast. Smart people. They fished for lobster and returned home after the flies were done doing there thing.

Some people think because the Brewers are playing so bad this year, they too should go on vacation, especially since summer hasn’t even started, plenty of time to make a casual escape as opposed to a secret Baltimore Colts sneak out of dodge situation. All the proper disguises could be put in place with minor league brewers replacing major league ones, but the uniform name backs would remain the same name. A little face make up her and there and no one would know the difference. And who would fill minor league rosters? Anyone. Local kids with nothing else to do for the summer. What a thrill for everyone involved. And current Brewer players would be happy as well, catching those lobsters along the eastern seaboard in anonymity.

Early on in the 2014 season way back when there was concern over Carlos Gomez’s swing so hard his helmet fell off or even worse-he dropped down on one knee, but not to pray. It was to keep from falling or maybe both serve the same purpose? But the concern went deeper than Gomez. It stretched up and down the roster. This was a team that didn’t take too many pitches and hardly ever walked.

I was late to OB%, but ode to my strat-o-matic baseball guru. Thank you.  He was the one who ordered Bill James pamphlets from the backs of baseball digests. It took me a long while, but I caught on.  OB% matters.

So April-May-June of last year was an enjoyable drinking binge with all that getting on base and timely hitting. We spiked our next morning coffees with whisky to prolong the feeling,  but we knew it wouldn’t last or the good pitching did, but there were no more ducks on the pond and as a result-no more runs in July-August-September and even fewer this year.

And so home runs are my best friends and that’s OK.  I love the Brewers. Win or lose is beside the point and excuse me while I sound like a fortune cookie cliche, but the journey is what matters and there’s a game almost every damn day and I can watch it if I feel like it and if I had a porch, I’d paint it and listen to a game on the radio and pop a top on a pabst.


making songs from broken notes

I rub a granny smith apple on the inside of my shirt every day. I perform some Al Capone on the invisible germ world and at the same time pretend I’m a pitcher removing ghosts from a baseball. It’s always 10:30 AM and  five and a half hours of work remain. I call it the top of the fifth and you betchya, I’m striving for a complete game.

I eat the apple and it’s a damn tasty apple, so juicy and sweet sometimes that I forget where i am. That’s the kind of amnesia and rapture I long for, but I’m not greedy and years have awarded me an understanding. That kind of feeling is fleeting and elusive; ruby rare. Some days are grey and the sky is bruised. Time drags slower than molasses. Losing streaks, but the show must go on.

The Brewers were the coldest team in baseball beginning play Wednesday night; having lost four games in a row; scoring 4 runs in 45 innings. There is concern over a team that swings with cartoon exuberance, but that’s the deal. We expect low points. The bigger concern is the starting pitching. Yovani Gallardo twisted his ankle Tuesday night and had to be removed in the fourth inning. He had already walked three batters.

Wily Peralta walked four Monday and Marco Estrada two on Sunday. All three pitchers worked deep into counts. A walk awards a batter first base. No big deal. But a walk is a ghost that comes back to haunt pitchers. It’s a free pass reeking havoc on the pitcher who under that cool, calm and collected is ready to pull his hair out.

He plays with the rosin bag instead, but his arm is tired; his mind flustered. And the defense behind him may appear to be on their toes, but they are distracted just the same; thinking about everything but baseball.

The Walk; wikipedia

The Walk; wikipedia

A walk is the cash from a botched drug deal found while scavenging on the beach. It’s better than a hit because it has strange purpose. A walk is a mouse that knows no obstacles. Plug a hole with steel wool and a mouse flosses its teeth and plows through. Walks tend to make their way round the bases and score.

And walks are germs that spread quickly through  a pitching staff; one wild outing leads to another. Or maybe I exaggerate under the influence of a four game losing streak, but one thing is certain.

An ace exterminates downward spirals. I like to add the word smear to ace as in smear the climate of woe and misery by throwing a bucket of paint against a white wall and clean the slate of moods.

As much as I would love to say  homegrowns Wily Peralta or Yovani Gallardo were Brewer aces. I have to admit to Kyle Lohse being the one. It’s ironic or something that Lohse’s career leveled into a cruising altitude while visiting the guru ship of former St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach-Dave Duncan with the emphasis on “visiting” because Lohse is a Brewer now.

If this year of 2014 remains a pennant race and the Brewers ride into September as a contender or leader in the NL Central, the Cardinals will be there because the Cardinals play a damn good brand of baseball. Lohse has a hard heart towards the Cardinals; the team that ignored him after the 2012 season; after he helped them win so many games and the 2011 World Series.

Lohse was a master last night. He did to the Braves what Julio Teheran did to the Brewers Tuesday night;. Lohse inspired pop ups and ugly swings. Lohse is a veteran now and capable of reading the pulse of any given day. He knows what will work and what won’t and proceeds accordingly.

Last night was easy because all of his pitches were spot on; painting corners. He struck out 8 and was under 100 pitches through 8 innings, but Francisco Rodriguez finished the game. He needed the work.

Lohse is the book ends to this losing streak; the winner on both sides of 4 defeats. Mark Reynolds hit a first inning grand slam. Gomez added a two run homer in the fourth. More than enough for Lohse who allowed 4 hits in 8 innings and walked 0. I love the way that sounds…zero walks in 8 innings. Final Score; Brewers 6, Braves 1.

The Brewers are 28-19.



mountains crumble into mountains again

IMG_0449There’s a mound of boulders. They sit on a vacant lot; corner of Van Horne and Legare in Montreal. I’m not sure when the boulders appeared or when I first noticed them, but there used to be a house there.

Yesterday I’m walking past them like I always do in route to work and I notice an abandoned leather sofa turned upside down; about 40 feet from the boulders. It was sunny and the shadows seemed to be breathing. I reminded myself to get a camera at lunch. I like the great ruins among all the well-trimmed lawns and flower beds. The boulders remind me of Rickie Week’s and all he’s given me as a Brewer fan.

The expectations for Weeks were incredibly high and why wouldn’t they be! The Brewers drafted him as the second overall pick in the 2003 draft after the team lost a franchise high 106 games. That season was sandwiched between three years of 94 losses. It’s maybe just a coincidence, but that four-year stretch; 2001-2004 was the worst of my life for a variety of reasons.

Weeks was a hitting machine at Southern University with a career batting average of .473; highest mark in NCAA history. Weeks joined Prince Fielder-the Brewer’s number 1 pick in 2002 as the hope of the future.



June 25, 2005 was one of the most special days in Brewer history. In a game against Minnesota, Weeks hit a home run off Johan Santana. It was the first of his career. A few innings later, Fielder joined Weeks and hit his first career blast. Darrin Sutton screamed words that rippled. “Career home run number 1 for the man who is prince, but will soon be king.”

Fielder went on to become the most dynamic power hitter in Brewers history. Over a five-year period he launched 258 home runs and hit for a .282 batting average. He walked. He hit balls to all fields and he became too big for Milwaukee wallets. And so he sailed away into a Flood of free agency riches.

No regrets. The Brewers milked massive  production from the guy experts once called too fat and too slow.

The expectations were pinned on Weeks instead and as a result, no one was ever satisfied. Even in 2005  when he hit 13 homers in 360 at bats as a second baseman, they said his average could have been higher than .239. Or in 2007, when he hit 16 homers and stole 25 bases, once again there was the.235 average. And in 2010 when he hit 29 home runs and hit .266, his defense became the criticism. And on and on and on. But Weeks always got on base and scored runs. Played hard. Bottom line for me.

When his power numbers dropped last season and the batting average nose-dived towards the Mendoza line; there was talk of trading or releasing him and regret over extending his contract. And now that he refuses to play left field, his legacy is kind of messed up.



But those boulders are Weeks to me and I smile at 11 amazing years; a wild card in 2008, Weeks scoring 110 runs in 2010 and playing for the NL Championship in 2011. Maybe I’ll flip that sofa right side up and watch those busted up boulders turn into  Scooter Gennett right before my eyes and feel second base blessed.

Gennett is another drafted and developed Brewer; a gum chewing boy wonder; a rare bird in today’s free swinging times. He’s a contact hitter with some pop. He goes with the pitch; never swings with richter scale magnitude. Gennett will maybe be the Brewer’s second baseman until 2025 and beyond barring injuries. Amazing fortune to have two drafted/developed Brewers play second base for so many years.

Weeks didn’t play Tuesday night. The Brave’s Julio Teheran; a right hander was on the mound;. Brewer Bats were once again shut down. The Brewer struggles to get on base and advance runners nips scoring opportunities in the butt, but we knew this team to be free swinging and young.

Teheran tossed a six hit compete game shutout. That makes five runs in the last 45 innings for the Brewers. I’ve never seen a team pop up more balls than the Brewers did last night. Teheran threw 127 pitches. Good to see him stay in the game and not be pampered. Strengthen his arm and avoid another pitcher injury.

Teheran has the makings of Pedro Martinez; a low 90’s tailing fastball, drop out of sight slider, three quarter delivery. He’s poised and confident and has fun out there. Final score; Braves 5, Brewers 0.

The Brewers are 27-19 and the Cardinals are looking much bigger in the rear view mirror.


coulda been an oldsmobile hanging from a tree

There’s a cement stairwell outside my backdoor; 5 steps to a backyard the size of a miniature golf putting green. An apartment complex with 18 different units and one tiny backyard. People stay on their patios.

I stay in the cement bunker and smoke a cigarette after dinner. I see stray cats chase squirrels up trees. Cars pass on the other side of the fence. Planes fly overhead. Dry dead leaves swirl and crunch their way into the stairwell corner. Normal situations.

Yesterday was Queen Victoria’s birthday. It’s a federal holiday in Canada. The day is Victory Day in Quebec where French is spoken. The bosses are off our back. No slave labor.  But this is Montreal in an immigrant neighborhood; Phillipinos, Jamaicans, Orthodox Jews.  Just the same. British royalty is still not celebrated, not in Quebec anyway.


The Mohawls referred to the early French settlers as “people of the axe” because they knew how to use one. And we stand on the same land now and maybe land has tree ring equivalents hovering like manna in the desert. And as the years pass; the inheritors of land absorb old habits in strange, invisible ways. The French Canadians and Mohawks built canoes from fallen birch trees, bare hands and an ax.

My neighbors build makeshift shacks to house tools. They cut lawns and fix motors. I took this into consideration yesterday when I heard a strange sound. I had the length of a cigarette burning down to figure it out because the Brewers and Braves were about to begin in Atlanta.

Was it my neighbor finally attaching a lawn mower engine to his bike. He says “it’s gonna look pimp.” Maybe it’s my other neighbor who works on his mini van just about every day.

The cigarette reached the filter and the noise got louder. Carlos Gomez was returning after a four game injury/suspension and he would be leading off in the top of the first. I climbed one or two steps and looked around one last time. Swirling lights circled through the backyard; right above the clothes line.

It was an electronic UFO toy and it disappeared. I heard kids laughing on the other side of the fence. Split second enchantment; a mix of UFO possibilities and first pitch Brewers. I was glad to be alive with so many options; UFO toys, lawn mower engines, cigarettes, squirrels, telephone wires, barbecues on Victory Day.

Life is a damn good thing; a fielder’s choice. The Braves and Brewers feature two excellent pitching staffs and two not so hot offenses. Gomez walks to lead off the game and Segura follows with a sacrifice bunt. It makes sense, the bunt that is. The Brewers have scored a measly 2 runs over the previous 24 innings. Lucroy lines out softly to shortstop Andrelton Simmons to end the inning. Chalk up another goose egg.

Brewers starter Willy Peralta sports the third lowest ERA in the league at 2.05; has walked only 9 batters this season; throws a 95 mph sinker. He’s calm and composed, a fine young man, maturing right before our eyes.

The strike zone was tight last night. Peralta walked two batters in the first and catcher Martin Maldonado made a wild throw. A run scored. More walks in the second. More infield singles. More Braves runs.

Freddi Freeman hit a home run in the third that took Khris Davis’s mitt over the fence with the ball sandwiched in it. The Brewers finally bust out in the fifth when the same Khris Davis hits a monster blast fifteen rows up the left field bleachers. Braun follows a few innings later with an opposite field homer.

It’s 4-3 heading into the bottom of the eighth. The Brewers bullpen is in serious jeopardy of a short-circuit from over use. Enter rule V draft Wei Chung Wang who hasn’t pitched in 2 weeks and has never appeared in a one run game. He’s 22 and never pitched above rookie ball.


Overbay on the mound; AP

The Braves bang out five hits and score five runs including two home runs. There’s concern over Wang’s confidence taking a nose dive. And just to make matters worse, but pleasantly UFO bizarre, Lyle Overbay is called on to pitch with 2 outs. The 14-year veteran has never pitched in a major league game. He’s a left-handed first baseman. Yep, he looks like a UFO atop the Indian burial mound.

The first batter is Ryan Doumit; the same Doumit who led off the inning with a home run. Overbay works the count full and gets Doumit to pop up. Overbay smiles. Final score; Braves 9, Brewers 3.

The Brewers are 27-18.


quicker than the human eye

Honk Kong Phooey shakes the seriousness from my black belt of discipline I never had anyway. From the moment I understood what a parody entailed, paradise rolled up and over the horizon where apparently it was hiding.

The effect was similar to reincarnation. The strings loosened and the nurse ratchet clock gave way to infinity. There was no rush; no rush at all. The tropical climate work ethic of “We can do it tomorrow” expanded into “We can do it next life time.”

Hong Kong Phooey was a short lived 1974 cartoon spoof on Kung Fu Movies and similar to Superman in that Penry Penrod Pooch was a janitor at a police station who turned magically into Hong Kong Phooey crime fighter extraordinaire minus the shape shifting phone booth and minus the good looks and prom king hero status. Honk Kong Phooey also had a sidekick cat named Spot and a Phoeeymobile that transformed into just about anything, Honk Kong Phooey was quicker than the human eye. The theme song said so.



And the Phooey had a good run, but now there’s Carlos Gomez. He’s also quicker than the human eye. The Brewers center fielder is the only player I can think of in MLB history that refuses to trot and swag after hitting a home run. He’s a fire drill instead. He sprints. He always sprints. He gives new meaning to the expression ants in my pants. He sprints over walls to rob home runs. He sprints to second base or third on a routine single and often gets thrown out. He sprints to the end of the dugout after hitting a home run where he kisses the barrel of his bat.

I anticipated the Brewers winning 162 games in a row. I do every year. Murphy’s Law, gravity, bar time, and all sober steamrollers in cahoots with reality may one day disappear..they have to..they will…we can make them disappear…oh well, for now, winning streaks to open a season run their course. The Brewers were stopped at one game.

Alex Wood gave up a lead off home run to Gomez, but that was it. He reared back with that southpaw heave-ho motion of his and shut the Brewers down for 7 innings. David Carpenter took care of the 8th and the monster with baby face and red cheeks-Craig Kimbril added to his legacy. He struck out the side in the 9th. That gives him 384 strikeouts in 230.1 innings. That’s…..i think the word around baseball is nasty, retarded, ridiculous, and sick all rolled into one.

Final Score; Braves 5, Brewers 2. The Brave’s Freddie Freeman hit 2 home runs and Jason Heyward hit one, but only Gomez went Honk Kong Phooey. Click the photo and you’ll be taken there.



and it’s still a game

andreltonAndrelton Simmons ranges to his right, bows on one knee, backhands a sharp grounder, and from a squatting position throws an off-balance 98 mph strike to Freddie Freeman at first base. Simmons is 24-years young and plays shortstop for the Atlanta Braves.

It’s easy to imagine him flashing that same grace one hundred years ago as he does today. Memories and  imagination are very kind. They provide instant access.

A common complaint about today’s game is that it takes too long to complete one. In the 1940’s, games finished in just under two hours. By the 60’s that number ballooned to 2:38 and today it’s closer to three hours. There are some good suggestions of how to shorten games, but the only one I can digest is minimizing advertisements between innings.

I enjoy manager’s changing pitchers and batters working a count, fouling off pitches and demonstrating discipline. I cherish the psyche out games; the Mike Hargrove human rain delays and Pete Vukovich herky-jerky around the mound. I guess I have nothing better to do and wouldn’t mind games lasting four hours. I wouldn’t mind at all.

I need baseball like I needed my grandfather. He grew up in Pittsburgh and rooted for the Pirates in the early 1900’s and many years later escorted me to Bradenton, Florida to see Barry Bonds and further south to Port Charlotte to see Toby Harrah. He appreciated the graceful swan that Bonds was and the charismatic personality of Harrah.


Grandpa also spoke about Ted William’s swing with the same gushy enthusiasm as he did Ken Griffey Jr.; slow and easy; almost perfect.

Grandpa watched the Dead ball era give way to a live one. He watched neighborhoods and  stadiums get destroyed. He experienced ugly financial realities, astro turf, domes, free agency.

And none of that cooled his enthusiasm. He loved the game on the diamond where it hadn’t really changed. Yeh, the mounds were lowered in 1969. The American League only DH was added in 1973. The spit ball was supposedly banned and so on. But the bases were still 90 feet apart. There were still three outs to an inning, four balls for a walk and a late inning home run still inspired goose bumps. They still do.

But before my grandpa, before Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb….now that was different; the days of Cap Anson and King Kelly, the Philadelphia Quakers and Cleveland Spiders. But names aside, it was the rules. Nine balls for a walk. Then eight, six, five and finally four in 1879. Pitchers throwing underhand or side arm until 1884 when the modern overhand motion was no longer banned.

And wait a second … what’s that sound? Just over there.. hidden in the tall grass. Men are recreating an old game.2014 VBBA Conference Logo

The Vintage Baseball Association-VBBA plays by 19th century rules and that includes “equipment, uniforms, field specifications, customs, practices, language, and behavioral norms of the period.”

Sounds like a Renaissance Fair situation; part theatrical, part baseball. Good ol’ fun playing a game like it was when we were kids; wasting away entire days and still wanting more, so we pretended the score was tied and slipped past the sunset into extra innings.

That desire to play one more inning, to drink one more beer at bar time has shaped my life as a baseball fan.


home of the braves

Say Boston in a crowded room and Red Sox typically come to mind, but not in Milwaukee. We think of the Boston Braves. We have no choice.

The Boston Braves relocated to Milwaukee and played their games at County Stadium. And a few years down the road, that’s where we learned about drunk brawls and kissing couples under the bleachers and grew to love the Milwaukee Brewers.

There are more bars in Milwaukee per square mile than maybe anywhere in the world. This includes home owners who construct replica watering holes in basements. I remember mirrors with Braves emblems lining make shift rails and wondering.

spain and sainI remember hearing that strange refrain, “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain…“

And I remember when County Stadium was demolished on February 21, 2001 and the ghostly ruins I apparently swallowed because I`ve never lost my appetite for Braves.

The Braves are considered the oldest ongoing franchise in all North American professional sports having played in the first ever National League game in 1876 as the Boston Red Caps. Shortly thereafter, they became the Boston Beaneaters.

The team suffered in 1901 with the arrival of the American League and the crosstown  Boston Red Sox. The Beaneaters changed their name to the Doves, then the Rustlers, and finally the Braves in 1912. Two years later they won the World Series.

But the Braves suffered 15 consecutive losing seasons between 1917 and 1931. Season attendance consistently hovered under the 500,000 mark, but relocation was out of the question. Between 1901 and 1952, there were always 16 teams in the same 12 cities

Then Lou Perini happened. He became the Boston Braves owner in 1941. The team earned a trip to the 1948 World Series and attendance totals topped the one million mark for three consecutive years (1947-1950).

But Perini had other visions up his sleeve; Braves New World visions and when attendance dipped to 280,00 in 1951, he put the wheels in motion and moved baseball`s oldest ongoing franchise from Boston to Milwaukee.

county stadium 1953

Milwaukee had been on baseball`s radar as a major league destination since the 1940’s. The city was hungry and began construction of County Stadium in 1950 with absolutely no guarantees. The risk was unprecedented.

Milwaukee had enjoyed uninterrupted minor league baseball all the way back to the 1880’s as affiliates to a half dozen major league teams. They were always known as the Brewers whether as an A, AA, or AAA team. In 1946, the Brewers became the top farm team for the Boston Braves.

Plans were to have the minor league Brewers move into County Stadium, but then Perini happened.

The Braves move to Milwaukee, for better or worse, ignited a forest fire. The St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles. The Philadelphia Athletics relocated to Kansas City, and then the impossible happened. In 1958, the lovable Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and the New York Giants followed to San Francisco. New York had been gutted of two major institutions.

If there were lucrative lands to exploit, owners now rolled the dice and moved teams where markets were believed to be better.

Milwaukee embraced the Braves like no other baseball city had ever done before or since. In the 1952 season, it took a mere 20 home dates to top the previous year’s season attendance totals in Boston.

The following year Milwaukee became the first national league city to reach the 2 million mark. It was the first of four consecutive seasons with 2 million or more fans.

And on the field, the team did an about-face, wining 92 games or 28 more than the previous season and the most since the 1914 team. The Braves won the World Series in 1957 and lost to the Yankees in 58.

The Braves never suffered a losing season in Milwaukee. For 13 consecutive years Milwaukee enjoyed a winner. But when attendance dipped blow one million in 1962, Perini sold the Braves to Chicago investors.

There were markets to exploit, radio and tv contracts to consider. Atlanta was the gateway to the south and the last untapped US baseball market. The Braves began play in Atlanta to begin the 1966 season.

How does that Neil Young so go? “The same thing that makes you live will kill you in the end.“ Milwaukee had a bad case of the relocation blues, but it didn`t last long.

Thank you Seattle!

In the spring of 1970, equipment trucks heading north to start the baseball season stopped in Provo, Utah and waited word from Seattle. The one year expansion Seattle Pilots had gone bankrupt and a group  led by Bud Selig made an offer.

The trucks went east instead of west and County Stadium became home to the Milwaukee Brewers.