brewers baseball and things


When a Bull Head Dreams

Joyous Glashkins never attended “How to be cruel” summer camp. He never needed to. He learned how to jab pencils into playmate’s forearms and feel no remorse, all on his own. And as peach fuzz began to gather on his upper lip he used words to manipulate his way into people’s minds and found where they were weak and gonged away until individuals lost their voice.

Joyous’s Mom and Dad were never around. No brothers or sisters either, but a cousin took him on long walks and called him Wick and the name kinda stuck. Wick spoke in superlatives, about the best band, greatest book, biggest dumb ass and if you didn’t agree with Wick, he made you feel stupid and small.

Wick remembers the day dad took off for good. The local library hours had loosened, sometimes staying open till midnight and other nights not closing at all. The days of being book smart had become fashionable so Wick loitered at the library, copying down big words most people had never heard. He collected them like weapons, to show off and when the time was right, he said mawkish instead of lovey-dovey and his peers oohed and aahed. 

The only bandwagon Wick refused to hop on was baseball. He hated the game ever since the local little league made wearing spikes illegal. Sheerskin’s Bluff was where the old Steel Mill League used to play and Wick loved the place because there was no grass or diamond and no reminders of baseball other than above ground dugouts, but they were covered with what Wick called “an incurable disease of tree root whiskers.” 

He wandered among the bluff’s ruins with stick in hand atop old furniture limbs and piles of dirty clothes. He was a vulture in need of a carcass to conquer. Wick was chained to this routine like a couch potato to a couch or a runner to the road.  

Sheerksin Bluff was not a popular destination. It was a place for lovers or junkies to hide out. The sound Wick heard one day was too many voices. Something was not right. He poked his head through a fan of leafy branches and wished he hadn’t because what he saw disgusted him. There were bats and balls and two teams and to make matters worse, a freckle faced girl playing keystone combo flip with a man wearing a patch over his eye and was that a cigar dangling from his mouth?

Baseball returning to the Bluff was bad enough, but this church choir girl impersonating the gas house gang with a man blowing a blues harmonica sent Wick over the edge. Too much east and west dancing side by side. Wick’s lips began to move on their own. 

He slid quietly to the bottom of the hill and stared at the Enstant River rippling in the sun. The reflection looked like glass shards and it soothed him, but the sound of leather smacking leather up above was fingers down the chalkboard. Wick curled up like a sow bug, surrendering to sleep’s sweet escape.

But there was no way out. Wick dreamed of a floating camp fire log and when he awoke, the image lodged in his mind. Was it a relic from a forgotten people?  A sirloin steak? The burnt foot of a bear? 

Wick’s mind had turned into a buffet table of possibilities. His certainty had vanished POOF! Poisoned by choice! He felt like a ghost in his own life. He curled back up and begged for more sleep. The Wick had been snuffed out.

If only Wick were real and he was in Minnesota this past weekend. The Brewers may have the worst record in baseball, but their fans were louder than the first place Twins fans. Wick would have loved to hear them muted on their home turf.

Target Field may be spacious, but the Brewers keep hitting home runs, three more Friday night and one on Saturday. Two wins in a row. A Sunday shutout by Mike Pelfrey spoiled what would have been the Brewers first sweep of the season.

But Monday brought a win against Pittsburgh, a combined 2-0 shutout after two long rain delays. The Pirates struck out six times with runners in scoring position, but details aside, the Brewers are 21-37 and officially over the Cleveland Spiders 1899 hump of 20 wins. Next up the 1890 Pittsburgh Allegheneys and their 23 wins. 



Arnold, i hate you i love you

Arnold McRease refused to tie his shoes inside; only on the sidewalk or the street, the grass, beside a porta-potty….wherever the odds were higher of someone bumping into him. There were no accidents. Arnold always threw the first punch.

bostockThe locals called him a demon, but Arnold didn’t call himself anything except pissed off. He pulledclemente the trigger sending a love jealous bullet into Lymon Bystock’s right temple.He nosedived the planes carrying Roberto Clemente and Thurman Munson to their death. He moved the pen banning the Black Sox, banning Pete Rose. He stopped the heart beat of then commissioner A. Bart Giamatti, just 8 days after Rose was banned.

Arnold McRease remembers it all, remembers it like saline solution shooting through his veins. He’s haunted and tormented, but the feeling won’t stop.

He cut the lines of cocaine sniffed by Keith Hernandez and Paul Molitor. He waved the machete of Uguethe Urbina attacking five Venezuelan farm workers. He was the doubt in Dan Thomas’s prison cell on June 12, 1980 when the former Milwaukee Brewer hung himself.

haddixArnold McRease was the run that didn’t score for Harvey Haddix at County Stadium on May 26, 1959. Arnie was the 45 consecutive hitless at bats for Craig Counsell in 2011. He was the tarp that swallowed Vince Coleman during the 1985 NLCS.

Arnie didn’t mean to do any of it. He had no idea he was a demon. The real ones don’t. Same thing for the saints. But Arnie was there during every god damn gash in the milk and honey of baseball innocence. He was there pouring black tea on the fire. He couldn’t help himself. No one could help him.

But of all the despicable acts Arnold McRease committed, he was proudest of the Montreal Expos. It wasn’t their best record in baseball during the season ending strike of 1994. It wasn’t the fire sale of players that followed. It was in 2002 when baseball’s owners voted unanimously to sell the Montreal Expos to major league baseball.

Arnie was there the following winter to remind the artificial brain trust led by Omar Minaya that Puerto Rico loved baseball and so the MLB sent the Expos on the road to play 22 of its home games in Hiram Bithorn Stadium-Puerto Rico. Oh, but of course. The well dressed men promised Montreal might break even with additional revenue. In reality, Montreal was the perfect guinea pig for the MLB to test its product in the Caribbean.logo


Hiram Bithorn

No one in their worst nightmare expected the Expos to be in serious contention for the Wild Card as late as August 28, 2003. But there they were in a five way tie for the last playoff spot.The same team that won in 1981 during baseball’s first strike and again in 1994 during its second was winning again while playing on the road, 1,926 miles away from home. Can you say exhausted?

But what perfect timing. It was almost September 1st. In baseball that’s an important day. Rosters can be expanded from 25 to 40 players. But not the Expos. Bud Selig and the MLB handed down a decree saying “Sorry, our team-Montreal can not afford the $50,000 to call up players and so they didn’t. The Expos went 12 -15 the rest of the way. The following year was there last in Montreal.

I remember Arnie in 2003. I bought tickets before the season to see the San Francisco Giants, second row down the left field line, Barry Bond heckler seats. Major league baseball rescheduled the series and sent it back to San Francisco; three more home games on the road.


2001 Bonds Attack

The fake owners promised we could trade the tickets in for any regular season game. But it wouldn’t be the same. I had a plan and Barry Bonds was a big part of it. He was gonna sign his 2002 Strat-o-matic baseball card-the greatest card in the history of strat-o-matic after the greatest season of any player all time.

Barry was already under the hecklers curse at that point so I would have had to do something outrageous, but pleasant and calm to convince him I wasn’t another self-righteous prick throwing stones from my glass house. I never got that chance, but what the hell, it probably takes just as much temptation and trespass to tango this crazy world round and round as it does discipline and love, this crazy baseball world.
Happy New Year Arnold.