brewers baseball and things


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day night and day

I have two TV’s,  so I guess in terms of world wealth, I am terribly spoiled. One of them is flat screen and that’s where I watch all the baseball games and movies. The other one is so old that it has one of those VHS bellies built into it. I keep it because I have some Brewer games on tape that are not available on You Tube like that game from I think 2005 when Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks both hit their first career home runs.

And that old TV freaking exploded Saturday morning. Thank goodness I reacted quickly; wrapping my arms around my head like Egyptian Mummy strands avoiding what I thought were going to be  flying shards of TV tube, but it was just a dream or I guess a nightmare, but what a loud BOOOOM and bizarre way to wake up on Sa-Turds day. The TV suddenly looked like a still and very peaceful Buddha.

The Brewers almost came from behind in the 9th to beat the Cubs Friday night. Lots of home runs too which may be like an uncivilized messy burger at a greasy spoon to some, but I like greasy burgers at local greasy spoons every once in a while and I ate one of those Saturday and well, the Brewers win when they hit home runs; always did and maybe always will. I like the fight in their fabric this past week.

The subway car is always something to exit; slipping through those Star Trek swooosh doors into an inverted cathedral; the massive cement underground; the up and down escalators way more than myth or metaphor with heaven and hell definite possibilities. I had a burger to eat and the Brewers another game to play. The afternnon passed and so did the evening. I digested that burger and by George, the Brewers beat up on the Cubs 12-4 with three more home runs; one of them the first in Jason Rogers’s career and heavens to Betsy it came as a pinch hit three run blast. Rogers looks a bit like Bill Madlock and he plays third base too.

The Brewers are 10-21 and I just saw a man wake up from under an evergreen tree.  He stretched his arms, yawned and apparently had a good night’s rest on pine needles and under the stars. Today is Sunday.

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not really an atheist

Lionel-groulx-montreal-metroAn old lady hands out Pentecostal Christ Pamphlets beside the subway escalator. She’s there every night looking like an owl or gate-keeper, pretending to be some sort of spiritual border guard. She never stands on the side where passengers descend.

She’s bundled up in a babushka to keep the Arctic draft from attacking her exposed flesh or maybe it adds to the holy shtick. I don’t have the heart or guts to turn her down. I take a pamphlet and smile.

I lean beside a payphone and mentally erase the words God, sin, and heaven to make the reading a little more digestible. It could be worse. She could have handed me a Jeep Cherokee pamphlet. I’d be left thinking about Cherokee once being a Native American tribe. I read on.

The gist is we’ve apparently fallen short of some great ideal.I can see big letters getting closer and already know what’s coming-ETERNAL LIFE CAN BE YOURS. This is where I turn the volume up on my MP3 player and head outside to face the cold. I make sure the old lady isn’t looking and place the holy pamphlet in a bus cabin. Maybe the homeless can start a fire with it later that night.

I look into storefront windows and see 10 varieties of chewing gum, a rack of hair gels, and who knows how many kinds of bread. Everyone has a god damn solution to sell. The babushka lady just adds to the slutty kaleidoscope crusade.

I’m convinced there’s a solution for everyone, but not for a baseball team. No science, religion or billion dollar payroll guarantees anything. The Oakland A’s and their innovative player analysis didn’t win a World Series. Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers drank Mountain Dew, prayed to Jesus and lost back to back World Series. The California Angels bought the same Hamilton and Albert Pujols and finished six games under .500.

This gives me hope for the Milwaukee Brewers who have done next to nothing this winter other than trade baseball’s most underrated lead off hitter the last two seasons in Norichika Aoki for an unproven LOOGY named Wil Smith.

But I’m being too harsh. The Brewers also signed perennial bust Zach Duke- to a minor league contract and this past week, nearly stole the spotlight from the Tanaka sweepstakes by signing two more players to minor league contracts. Their platoon potential will no doubt drown the boos for Braun into laughter.

Player one is the all time leader in single season strikeouts, but unfortunately he’s not a pitcher. He’s a third baseman and if all goes well, he will win the Brewer’s vacant first baseman job. Mark Reynolds broke historical ground as an Arizona Diamondback in 2011, striking out 223 times in 578 at bats. He also hit 44 home runs. He’s now a Brewer, assuming he makes the team out of spring training.

Player two is former Brewer Lyle Overbay. The Brewers were so relieved to let him go when Prince Fielder arrived in 2006 that they’re bringing him back to recapture his doubles glory. Overbay hit 87 doubles over 2 full seasons with the Brew Crew and for his career has a respectable .348 OB%.

The Brewers are young. The average age is 26.8. They weren’t interested in throwing first base prospect Hunter Morris to the wolves. Overbay is 36; Reynolds 30. They could potentially hit 25 homeruns and drive in 80-90- runs combined.

They could, but it hardly matters if they do or don’t. The Brewers don’t need excuses. They draft from the same pool of amateur players as any other team and they control those players just like any other team for six years. That’s a good chunk of time to rock the boat and be competitive. Make a few trades, sign some under the radar FA’s and things can happen.

There is no temptation to spend 190 million dollars because the funds simply don’t exist. I love walking into the salvation army and sunwalking out with a coffee table sized Expos book for 75 cents, filled with colored photos of all Expo players; large and small.

The Brewers traded Aoki and moved Braun to right field to make room for Khris Davis who quickly become legend last season after hitting 11 home runs in 136 at bats. He’s a Brewer for five more years and that has fans drooling and dreaming before alien markets snatch him up.

Spring training begins in 24 days and unless the sun suddenly rises in the west, it will be followed by 8 months of baseball. The Brewers play 162 games like all other teams and that’s close enough to ETERNAL LIFE for me.


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there musta been a time

Nostalgia can be such a bitter dance, longing for what we think were simpler days while the river of today rolls right on by. Yeh, I do it all the time.BushvilleWins

Take me back to 1957 County Stadium with Milwaukee on the brink of its first and only World Series victory . Or take me back to July 23, 2009 and Ireland’s Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) celebrating its 25th year. Or take me across the Atlantic on that same day when a different kind of train rolled into Philadelphia’s 30th street station.

The St. Louis Cardinals boarded an Amtrak in Washington DC headed for Philly. It was the first time the Cardinals had traveled by train in 40 years.

But there musta been a time before charter flights when train travel was the quickest way to go from Pittsburgh to New York and Detroit to St. Louis and back to New York and then to Chicago. There musta been a time when the only team west of the Mississippi was the Cardinals. There musta been a time about to change.

LSU-TrainWhen Lou Perini relocated his Boston Braves to Milwaukee the in winter of 1952, he knew what was coming. He knew “fly the friendly skies” was already here.”No more scrunching into a sleeper car from New York to St. Louis and up and down the Atlantic Seaboard. Yeh sure, it was quaint and romantic, but it was headed for the scrap-book. Baseball was an expanding universe. There were profits to be made.

The sacred dominoes were leaning. The Brooklyn Dodgers packed up the truck and moved to Beverly, Chavez Ravine that is. Palm trees, movie stars. The Dodgers in the city of Angels and the Giants copy-catting with a move to San Francisco.

In 1882 the maximum distance between major league parks was 430 miles. By 2005, the number had skyrocketed to 1155. Walk down a ramp, secure your carry on luggage, stuff headphones in your ears and next thing you know; touchdown.

But there musta been a time before expansion and chartered planes. Oh, there musta been a time.

I thought teams began flying the friendly skies in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, but the origins go much further back. The Cincinnati Red’s Larry Macphail chartered an American Airlines DC-2 on June 8, 1934 and 19 of his Reds flew to Chicago for a game against the Cubs

Twelve years later Larry Macphail did it again, this time as General Manager of the New York Yankees. He chartered a DC-4 during the 1946 season and the “Yankee Mainliner” became the first team plane to fly on a regular basis.Mariano6-small-1024x768

But there musta been a time when players sat together on trains and played cards, carried out pranks, slipped into the bar car at 3am. Oh, there musta been a time before private jets.

I wonder if players and fans will wax and whine nostalgic about airplanes when teleportation slips into our lives like all transportation revolutions tend to do.

Oh, there musta been a time.