brewers baseball and things


the little i know about samurai

I’m not much of a movie buff, but i love movies. I love being swallowed into one, really escaping. Then when the credits roll and the post movie music quiets down, I have to face the other music…the crud in the corner of the kitchen, cobwebs on the ceiling above the bathtub, that annoying co-worker, work in general, anxiety, depression, then a smidgen of joy, bills, writers block, the thought of dying, of having to be there when we die, the thought of family members dying, of having to endure that. This brings me to my point or to that movie – Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.

At some point during the film, it says something to the effect of imagine your being eaten by dragons, falling off a cliff plunging to your death, being hit head-on by a speeding train….imagine any other assortment of tragedies, …this is apparently the way of the Samurai. You go beyond being ready to die; and actually die, sort of, I guess, I don’t know or maybe it’s only a movie? But I like it.

His name wasn’t pencilled into the line up card. He wasn’t even listed on the roster. One of his cleats was missing. There was spray paint on his locker spelling out “stupid faggot.” There was a notice to see the manager. He was being sent down to A ball, not AAA or AA, but A ball, to work out some issues with his swing. Things would be reassessed in September when rosters expanded.

Vegetables were where his jock straps usually were. His suitcase smelled like a compost bag. He took the bumpy bus ride to Hammy Point, but the manager there knew nothing of his reassignment. He had no space for him on the roster and kindly asked him to leave the premises. Hammy Point had outlying farms, mostly apples and pumpkins, good timing for the season neared. He walked close to 15 miles, not that anyone was counting. He had time on his hand and as he walked, he shed his previous dreams and aspirations and stared out at all the nothingness.




but we need our monster

His needs were the same; food, shelter, and a sense of belonging. Only the means to get them had changed; from a luxury vagabond lifestyle of servants and leer jets, 7 star hotels, paparazzi lights to fishing for crunchy bugs in back alleys to liven up his sewer soup.

He was unaware of the great fall he had endured and in many ways, nothing had really changed for Spuds Dembrooke. He was still self-absorbed, still hated, and still hoping to piss people off. It was his way of receiving affection and love. The packed stadiums of hysterical boos had turned to itinerants with blades, oily puddles behind saloons, but the emotion sounded the same to Spuds. He worked the crowd.

He once had it all; was a hero to everyone. He defied specialization as the first pitcher since Babe Ruth to also bat clean up. He enjoyed no rest days between starts, playing right field instead. He led both leagues in every offensive and pitching category. He inspired the mathematically inclined to invent new statistics in an attempt to find a flaw in his production. But even the godless were forced to bow and surrender to his greatness.

All the popcorn went black when it was discovered that Spuds Dembrooke wore a prosthesis for a right arm. The world felt cheated and understandably so. Physicists, astronomers, bio-chemists and all the world’s most brilliant minds joined in hands of hate against Dembrooke and he in turn, ate up the attention. It was fuel for his ego fantasy. His throne grew sturdier and brighter with every rotten vegetable tossed his way.

He stuck around long enough to shatter all existing records and then walked away with a smile and a pot of gold. He stepped down from the palace media men had created for him. And it wasn’t long before those same media men began to search frantically for a place to put their hands.

A great peace could be heard across radio and tv land. There were minor scandals and corruptions, but nothing like Dembrooke. The nation grew bored or scared waging wars within themselves. They preferred pointing their plastic fingers at other people so they brought Spuds back, but it wasn’t easy. Spuds was enjoying his new and still very unenlightened life, reeking havoc in lower brow places with the same turmoil, just on a smaller, not so paparazzi scale.

Spuds feigned dilemma when the dog catchers came round to gather him up. But his indecision was just a ruse; to wake up the media monster again. The more he waited, the greater the suspense, the greater people’s desire for the nation’s “most wanted criminal.”

He played a new hand for his old game. He had been wronged, treated unfairly. The nation’s marketing gurus flocked to his side, begging to take up his case. Spuds wanted a public apology for “look how far I have fallen,” he told the paparazzi. “Eating bugs and living in dank alleys. You did this to me.”

And the fans booed with greater intensity. The chants changed from prosthesis cheater-PC to hypocrite and ego maniac, liar, sinner. There were public gatherings and protests, crosses were held high and Spuds made uninvited guest appearances; behind bullet proof limousine windows.

Hatred returned. TV and radio waves became vital signs again. Young and old joined hands. The nation regained some balance.


i love extra inning games

When the sky bruises, arbeit macht frei glows on people’s faces and fingers scrounge through pockets for a rabbit’s foot, ritual, anything to avoid the punch clock is a liar and a cheat. The 6 hours of indentured servitude was only 90 minutes. It’s the curse of perception.

But when it comes to baseball, I trust the any which way of black holes and tangents. Bring on the Cardassians. I’ll serve some tea and us enemies can chat about Pa’nar Syndrome.

Baseball is 90 feet between bases. It’s bullpens, shin guards, double plays, three strikes, and 27 outs. There’s enough cosmo physic pseudo explanations to wet dream Spock into neglecting the enterprise.

I like reaching the tip of my nose and almost escaping body and mind. I do my best to shoo away the bullet proof umpire vest calling me back into body with false promises. If I would just walk back into my mind, it says, and break up the coffee clutch.

Fat chance. I know better.

I know baseball fans want it all and nothing slips through their fingers. There’s Cuban defection, Bill Lee’s brownies, Pedro Borbon’s curse, Wade Bogg’s chicken,  Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich swapping wives, Dan Quisenberry poetry, Fernando’s screw ball. One soggy match is all it takes.

Baseball is a run on sentence and that’s a relief from the horror show.


getting the heave-ho

Tenzin Gyatso-the 14th Dalai Lama seems like a mellow dude in his red robe and wide open eyes, but even he admits to options when a mosquito lands on his arm. If mood happy, he gives blood. If mood impatient, he blows. If mood more impatient, he flicks it away.

Anger management is a nice concept, but there are moments. Oh, how there are moments when the only thing we can do is rage.

Lou Pinella ranks 11th all time in manager ejections with 63, but he’s probably 1st for intentional ones. Pinella slipped into tasmanian devil mode to jump start his team when in need of a spark.

In August of 2010 Pinella retired as manager of the Chicago Cubs. He wanted to take care of his ailing grandmother. Take note umpires. Sweet Lou isn’t such a bad guy.

The all time leader in heave hoes is Bobby Cox with 161. He also retired in 2010. Cox completed his work in 4508 games.That averages out to one boot per 28 games. Not bad, but a notch below Paul Richards who got tossed 80 times in 1837 games or 1 every 23 -the all time record.

Richards managed the Baltimore Orioles from 1955-1961. Seven years later, Earl Weaver took over the reigns and what a trip it turned out to be. In addition to winning a hell of a lot of games, Weaver entertained Oriole fans with a steady dose of screw the umpire. He got tossed 94 times in 2541 games or one every 27. Weaver passed away January 19, 2013

Of active managers, the Tiger’s Jim Leyland ranks 8th all time with 68 ejections and the Twin’s Ron Gardenhire has 65. Also on the top 10 list are former skippers Tony Larussa, John McGraw, Frankie Frisch, and Leo Durocher,  but no one will ever do it like Earl Weaver.

In the following video clip, Umpire Bill Haller was wearing a mic as part of a documentary. He called a balk on Orioles pitcher Mike Flanagon. Weaver took care of the rest.

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my grandma could be in the baseball hall of fame

So could Ben Oglivie. He hit long home runs and didn’t wear batting gloves or a long sleeved shirt under his uniform and he played outdoors in Detroit and Milwaukee during April and September and a few times in October when it’s cold. Don’t forget he was born in Panama.

Oglivie could also do the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle in record time and oh yeh, he invented his own school of sliding that no kid should ever follow. He hit 235 career home runs for his career and that’s not a lot, but he could still be voted into the baseball hall of fame (hof) if the Baseball Writers of America decided so.  There’s no all powerful, know it all Oz machine that decides on these things, not yet anyway.

Sometime in winter, baseball announces the players on the HOF ballot and sometime a little later, the writers vote and sometime later on during the summer, there is an enshrining ceremony in Cooperstown New York.  And as a result, the debate between fans rages all year long with small breaks when the season launches in April and ends in October.

But all the other months are filled with arguments because Ben Oglivie could never be in the Hall of Fame.

But then again, Bill Mazeroski is and that pisses off a lot of fans. And that pissed off is a good thing, especially in today’s debate. You can’t just say because or play devil’s advocate troll to call attention to yourself. Baseball fans will mount you on the bar rail and stone your ego to death.

Nowadays, you gotta have WAR (wins over replacement player) and BABIP (batting average in balls in play) and that makes for more criteria to consider. The debate is even better. The machine has no chance.

Can you imagine how dull the ceremony would be in late July. There’d be a guy in a white suit  sticking note cards of stats into a punch clock machine and a few seconds later 23 results would spit out. There’d be no pilgrimage and picnic and of course, no more different opinions.

I hope my favorite factor stays in the equation. That would be the SMOBIML stat-So Much Of Baseball Is Maybe Luck stat.



The last baseball player who did double duty as the team’s manager was Pete Rose. He did it for almost three years between 1984 and 1986 and then he got booted out of baseball for gambling. There have been 221 player managers in the history of baseball.

Ya gotta figure it saved a team lots of money with one less salary to pay and yet in today’s supposedly greedy game, the prototype is nowhere to be found.

The industrial revolution lured people into slaughter houses and crowded apartments. Everyone got assigned a rivet to send home or whatever and specialization eventually thrived, in baseball too. The LOOGY (left-handed one out guy) is my favorite example. He sits in the bullpen day and night and then emerges to face one batter and then it’s shower time.

Paying a million bucks or more to a guy who works 5 minutes is a good deal for a LOOGY. Every kid should dream of being left-handed reliever. His arm stays strong and his career endures into Darrin Oliver grey. I vote for teams to be cheaper, especially small market teams.

How about a LOOGY records a strikeout and then changes places with the shortstop who then pitches to the right-handed batter and then back and forth like that for a while.

Yes, I’m talking about having a left hander play a position he’s not supposed to because of those shortstop pivots and arm angles and what not. Shortstop is for right handers only.

But the thing is, teams wouldn’t need 25 players on the roster and while we’re at it, get rid of the manager too. That would save teams not called New York or California three salaries to spend money on? I don’t know. The search for extra terrestrial baseball talent?


all or nothing

Some kids choose curve balls and skip the romantic interlude. Parents sigh, worry, and wonder why us? Why can’t our kid be normal, have a girlfriend, work at the mine or go to school, get married, have kids? It’s probably the same for Jimmy and his Mustang and Sandra and her songbook. They’re already married.

So what if the majority of the over 1500 high school and college baseball players drafted every year experience nothing but anonymous toil on a shoestring budget? Throw in hundreds of international baseball teenagers and there’s enough blues for a music festival riding Cesar Chavez coattails.

Draft day in baseball is the peak of many a baseball player’s existence. That’s when the phone rings and a soiled voice says your name followed by, “We want you.  We want you in the Gulf Coast, low level, shortened season and if you work hard and do what you’re told, you’ll rise the ranks and earn 1100 bucks a month.”

I hold a huge soft spot for the ones who keep their nose to the grindstone and invert the bumpy bus ride Minor Leagues into chalk em’ up as “oh well, tales for the rails.” They’re not in it for the money because there is no money unless you get that other phone call, “Son, they want you in the big league show,” but winning the lottery is just the dream, the fairly tale, and no one whines when it doesn’t come.  There’s a colorful line up of people to enjoy.

You gotta be coco puffs crazy and when you are, time no longer exists.