Monday, October 2, 2017

A day of rest to depress

Today is an eerie precursor to that dreadful, sinking feeling we all get once the Fall Classic concludes and we are faced with only one cold fact: no more baseball.

Yesterday, all thirty teams played their final regular season game of the year at roughly the same minute -- ostensibly to prevent gamblers from persuading players to perform dishonestly or something like that -- which enabled me to watch four games simultaneously on a single computer screen, while tracking my fantasy team unexpectedly capture the championship trophy for the second time in three years. We even had baseball practice in the cold wetness of Copenhagen's grass fields. It was a good day.

But today it pissed down all day and killed my poor cannabis plants. It was too windy and wet to bother trying to save them -- covering them up would only hasten their demise, as the mold grows too fast to fight here at sea-level -- so I watched that new Grateful Dead documentary instead: Long Strange Trip.

And therein lies the concept linking both the interminable quality of a baseball season and the bizarre fascination with fantasy baseball (a hallucination) which often seems more real than the "on-field product" sold and distributed by mlb (and dutifully performed by its christian-player-products).

A bunch of other horrible stuff is going on in the world at the moment to add to today's depression: mass shootings, mass ethnic deportations, a president continuing to exacerbate institutionalized racism, climate catastrophes caused by humans who reject their own involvement, and so on.

Baseball is a distraction from all that. As is the Grateful Dead. They both share many qualities, the Dead and baseball, such as a wistful longing for simpler lifestyles based on play and fun, the sense of a community supporting a group both adored and akin to themselves (I could play second base for the A's! Jerry seems like a kindred spirit!), the promise of an alternative reality of belonging, and that strange amalgamation of the sacred and profane, of becoming a religion, but one that has a healthy sense of humor.

The road to the fantasy baseball trophy is also a long strange trip. You gotta be dedicated and zealous and shrewd or you might end up a half-game back of the standings and miss out on the playoffs; all because you had to attend some damn wedding or birthday or funeral and forgot to set your lineup. Persistence pays off, just like the Grateful Dead will tell ya.

But today is shomer-fucking-shabbas. A day of rest. And in that Grateful Dead documentary, Jerry Garcia's daughter laments about her father: "I just wish he would've fucking rested"

Rest up, dear readers: the Rockies play post-season baseball tomorrow night!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Super Moon, Open Mind

                       Midnight: Largest Supermoon Since 1948

Leonard Cohen died this morning.
Last month he said “I’m ready to die.”

Today the sun shined for a change.
Blue across the sky,
Clouds low and wispy.

The Cleveland ballclub lost to the Cubs
last week in that great Game 7 everyone
forgot all about.

The Cleveland ballclub last won it all in 1948.
But this year the city hosted
the Republican

The Cleveland ballclub lost to the Cubs,
who last won it all 108 years ago.
Old Judge Taft defeated William Jennings Bryan
in that year’s presidential election.

Nighttime frosty grass crusts glittering
under a few constellations
following a glowing supermoon.

Waxing and elliptical, tilting down to the right,
The moon hatched liked an enormous egg.

Daybreak: Remembering the Deep Moonquakes of Late 2016

And the moon hatched like an enormous egg

All along we thought only about its surface. But!

‘Twas to be the center of her – the yoke – ya see!

The moonshell cracked and cracked again.

We call them lobate sharps.

You could see all these lines and fissures from here on Earth.

And the moon hatched like an enormous egg.

The moonshell broke in two,
then into three
fragments all falling away at an amusingly
………….“O! ……….. Nooooo……oooooo..oooooo..oooooo..oooooo..ooooooo

The moon hatched like an enormous egg.

And the moonshell fell apart.
A sudden palliative cure for our planet’s auto-immunity disorder  – a.k.a. humans – arrived in the form of an inexplicable force of energy enveloping the Earth;
initiating from what used to be called:
“the core of the Moon”

The energy evaporated into the skies, and eventually soaked into their skin and sank into their water supplies.

                  And the humans opened their minds

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Yessir's a Baseball Fantasy

A crazy day in baseball...


Prince Fielder, only 32 years old, will no longer play baseball due to a life-threatening risk of severing his spinal cord after successive neck surgeries...

Interesting statistical note: Cecil and Prince, father and son, both end up with 319 career homers.


Ichiro passes Clemente with hit 3001...


And King Felix toes the slab against Los Tigres in a matchup with enormous fantasy implications in that lovable on-line league known as The Danish Spliffs and Denver Stiffs ...

But it's the Pads vs. Pirates game I've got on the machine now. And some disturbingly intrusive camera surveillance on the part of the SD broadcast: Solarte was benched for dogging it up the line on a sure pop-out, or so the commentators encourage us to speculate, and the dugout camera persists in pointing its gaze upon the player from behind, over his shoulder, as if eavesdropping on his conversations with coaches and teammates. He does look a bit sheepish and bewildered, like any kid busted for something lame, so...are we meant to laugh or cry upon hearing old Dick Enberg pronounce, "it doesn't matter if you're the star or not, you gotta show some punishment and make a point...You hear about a young guy being the son of a military man and automatically say: 'Oh that's why'...'yes sir!'... and, 'oh that's why he seems to carry himself a little differently', and so on." 

I'm sure the players union will come to regret having ever even allowed cameramen in the dugout in the first place, there to ostensibly advertise the player's corporate brand, but also to better "promote" each player who earns attention by giving the audience a sneak peek into all the fun and fury and foibles of dugout life as a baseball man. The more screen time a player gets, the more familiar he seems to the viewers, the greater his popularity becomes, which he may argue gives him greater value to the franchise or to the sport in general. All this attention most certainly doesn't hurt the player. Or...? That is, until the camera's critical eye exposes its negative bias by lingering through uncomfortably long looks into the very souls of these young men, ultimately inverting the innocuous image of an everyday athlete into an exposé on the essence of what it means to be a man. In this case, it means a military man who busts his ass up the line on every infield pop-out, no matter how trivial, even on a last-place team in mid-August, because he is the kind of man who says, "yes sir."

Hilariously, old Dick Enberg later runs on about his disdain for the lack of honesty (integritty?) in public American pleasantries, like, "how we all go around asking each other how we're doing --  'Oh, I'm fine thank you' -- when in fact I'm doing awful. I'm cranky."

And suddenly the stereotypes converge: the cranky oldwhiteguy broadcaster bitching about life and the dejected latino ballplayer who lollygagged his way up the line are one and the same in having exposed similar shades of their vulnerable, human frailties and failures in front of thousands of strangers who probably couldn't care less.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Harold Reynolds: the Antidote to Your Baseball Announcer Pains

Bucking the trends on social media and other baseball blogs, I'd like to introduce a genuine defense of baseball broadcaster Harold Reynolds. Let's cut to the chase and you can read my diatribe afterwards.

The Harold Reynolds' Quirkycool Perspective of the Day:

Oct.28, 2015
World Series -- Game 2
NY Mets @ KC Royals

Commentator Scorebook:
(Fox telecast)
Joe Buck (JB)
Harold Reynolds (HR)
Tom Verducci (TV)

Top 1st, two outs
Cueto pitching to D. Murphy

TV: Yeah, those orchestrations, the quick delivery, the shimmy shakes, the delays... They shouldn't bother the Mets lineup that much. Really, Lucas Duda is the only one with a timing mechanism -- the high leg kick. Most of these Mets hitters get set very early (Ed: not true of Granderson, who has that hitch in his giddy-up). 

JB: I think sometimes it bothers Cueto more than it does the hitter (Ed: speculative drivel)

HR: You know, I just think he's very unique. For a guy to be able to throw strikes and do that? You just don't see it. I love the creativity. I think our game can be boring at times... So I love seeing this. But I think he's very... To throw strikes: I don't know how he's able to do it. Let's just put it that way. I think it's pretty fascinating. (Ed: goddamn right!)

JB: His teammate Edinson Volquez tried it; couldn't do it (Ed: what the fuck is he referring to exactly? I don't recall Volquez ever doing a shimmy on the mound. Enough with the negative criticism of things you neither enjoy, nor appreciate, Joe!!)

Daniel Murphy, on the very next pitch, proceeds to strike out looking at a tailing two-seam fastball from Cueto, in the upper part of the zone, drawing back to the inside corner of th plate...on the black! Murphy, in 2015, was the most difficult player to strike out in the majors. There's no mention of this astounding and quite interesting fact, nor of Cueto's achieving the impossible by a) not allowing Murphy to homer b) striking him out while he's on fire c) catching him looking at a pitch that ended up in the strike zone, to end the first inning of Game 2, a must-win for the Mets, which set the tone early: not tonight, bitches.

As I wrote my brother-in-law, "not sure how can you so quickly cave into the Harold Reynolds criticism? This is only his first or second year in the booth; The insufferable Buck and MacCarver were given thirty years to destroy all of baseball's best moments, now preserved in digital archives for eternity. Cultural criminals! Back to Reynolds: the guy has a great voice, he's fantastic on the mlb network, eloquently describing the subtler movements of the game. Yeah, ok, he doesn't know shit about geopolitics, some observations come off as way too obvious (though there seems to be a more subtle sublayer to a lot of these cliches), and has a tough time shutting up. BUT, the dude's enthusiasm is contagious and so are many of his insights. Good sense of humor. Bold enough to take over the Fox booth and bust it open from the inside! Joyfully opinionated about baseball minutae (and almost always right, according to my commentator scorebook). And was one helluva replacement player, to boot (a teammate of Uncle Vic!). If only there were more announcers like him (actually, A-Rod has been surprisingly succint and articulate, if only a bit too robotic in his emotional detachment)"

In an older post on this blog, I'd danced somewhat psychedelically through hypothetical conversations with a similarly resented commentator, Joe Morgan. While the racist overtones of major league baseball are obvious to any of us with heightened sensitivities to conscious and subconscious forms of such institutional racism, it's more difficult to assert a collective racist consciousness on behalf of baseball fans (outside of St. Louis, at least). But the aftertaste feels undeniable here: popular sentiments about players, and in this case broadcasters, dominated as they are by white opinions, are often times tinged with a familiar-tasting poison that just so happens to be mixed in with other, more innocuous flavors. Anyone who knows me knows I'm highly susceptible to even the slightest trace of poison.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fan reactions to ALCS Game 5: the Toronto tragi-comedy

What a circus! Canadians chucking beer cans at babies in the front row! Oh the humanity! I texted my sister at the time that "no one can be held responsible for anything at this point. Fans or players. It's the baseball apocalypse!"

Regarding the fluke throw back to the pitcher that somehow hit Choo's hand in the box, Wes wrote: "A real horsholm move by Texas. Seriously? Fuck this shit. Going to bed. Worse or just as bad as the Gallaraga call. Baseball is ruined." But he later clarified that it was the home plate umpire calling "dead ball", not knowing the rules, which ruined baseball.

And leave it to Tulo to ensure the craziest inning of all time ends with a whimper, popping out to the catcher, with the emotionally bruised Texas reliever brushing past him, talking shit, even after giving up Joey Bats' majestic bomb. Tulo probably replied like that dork in Half Baked, "hey! I'm somebody's BITCH!"

I'd cursed that fucktard Goins all series for going 0/18 with 9 k's, stranding a dozen, but the dude saves the ball game with two fine defensive plays late in the game; especially in the 6th with a tremendous sliding backhand up the middle on an Andrus grounder, stranding the guy at third, ending the inning. A perfect segueway for E2 and his titanic blast into the upper deck to tie the game at 2. God that was gorgeous.

Poor Andrus, though. Robbed of that hit. Caught stealing third to end the 3rd inning. All three errors in the 7th involved him and then he misses out on his chance at redemption by stranding two guys on base making the final out in the 8th via the K. He'll probably hang himself at some point this winter, if Beltre doesn't strangle him to death first.

Lost in all the mayhem were the six brilliant, quick innings of mound artistry from Stroman and Hamels. Both lineups are fulll of swagger and spice and everything un-nice, but those guys were in the groove. It was also the most consistent strike zone in recent memory. Crazy shit also went down and the umps kept their cool, met together to confer on important matters, and even though the home plate ump botched the deflection call he took it to replay to make sure his crew got it right. So many close pitches, nibbling at the corners, impervious to the furious crowd, the home plate ump was still able to resist getting emotionally pulled into the Toronto vortex or give in to the pitiful Texas dugout bitching. Fair play to ye, sirs!

My sister asked if Tulo actually cracked a smile at the end of the game amidst the jubilation. I told her The Glass Man actually cracked a rib while hugging Pilar. His status for the ALCS remains up in the air.

Friday, September 11, 2015

2015 Potential Playoff Teams -- The Fun and the Infuriating

In spite of my childhood admiration of the Blue Jays (to the point of performing imaginary 9 inning wiffle ball games as each member of the Jays and the Padres alone in the backyard, keeping stats, imitating stances, running the bases, etc) I actually think there are lots of teams to like in this year's possible playoff picture:

-Royals: augmented their Cain-driven coolness by acquiring Cueto, the coolest cat on the bump

-Orioles: Buck Showalter, Adam Jones, and a lava-like mass of deadly force that just keeps on moving give the O's a fluid, though not fast, team of liquid hot magma.

-Astros: Yes, even the "fucking" Astros are impossible not to like with all those young kids playing fast and free. Once Springer gets back, this team is gonna soar.

-Mets: The Amazins suddenly got some serious swagger with Uribe and Cespedes backing up that brilliant starting rotation. The fans in Queens are going crazy again.

-Nats: If this team ever gets its shit together, it'll make for some beautiful baseball. Harper's transfiguration into the Crucified last fall, and his Second Coming this season as the Redeemer is kinda like The Jesus...Quintana, that is, from Lebowski. There's a literal connection there.

-Pirates: How can you not root for these Buccos?!?! If only so we can get more glimpses of that glorious ballpark and dip once again into Pittsburgh's magical history of baseball perfection (Homestead Grays, Pittsburgh Crawfords, Clemente's '71 Pirates, The '79 Family), I'd like to see the black and gold in the World Series.

-Giants: Nothing banal about the Bay area eccentrics, even sans Timmy the Freak. Gotta love that outfield of Aoki, Pagan, Pence, and Blanco! Perennially underappreciated, I owe everything that I am as a believer in baseball to the SF Giants and their victory over evil (Bush and Texas) in 2010 and again in 2012 and 2014 (against the St. Louis slime).

On the other hand, there's a very real fear once again that the most loathsome teams might make it the worst year for baseball playoffs in a long, long time...

-Rangers: now trailing the Astros by only a couple games for the NL West lead and looking like a strong Wilder Card contender now that they have an ace up their sleeve in Cole Hamels. Never cared for the dude, ever since he beaned Bryce Harper because "I'm old school" and then promptly allowed Harper to steal home on his old-school ass. Ron Washington was a cool manager, as cool as they come, and he wanted to get the fuck outta there so fast he said he cheated on his wife, which for some reason rendered him incapable of managing a baseball team (?). Something tells me it was for other reasons. Even Jabba the Hut himself, Nolan Ryan, flew the coop. And fuck Texas.

-Dodgers: Too much money, too much bling, too much Hollywood without enough Manny Ramirez to make it seem like a self-parody. They've killed the joy in Puig and continue to constrain a man who triumphed over unfathomable obstacles just to get to the damn country, and his play has suffered for it. They can buy anything, but they can't buy backbone. Puig was the only dude who could've given them that, but with all the trade rumors circulating his name this season it's no wonder he looks disinterested out there.

-Cubs: Misery loves company, so I'm sure everybody will moan and groan together in an orgy of agony and secretly love every minute of it once these young guns lose the inevitable Wild Card game against Pittsburgh because Theo Epstein forced Maddon to pitch Lester instead of Arrieta. Nobody probably minds seeing the Cubs win it all when they think about that 108 year curse, but then again, what are the Cubs without that drought? Just another big market team who fucked with the sanctuary of the Friendly Confines to such an inexplicably stupid degree (big scoreboard? who gives a shit! more ads? oh, great. no more rooftops beyond left field able to see the game? how fun.) that winning the WS this year would seem to vindicate a lot of lame billionaire decisions.

-Yankees: For some reason this team always seems to hang around the top of the AL East, even when their rotation and lineup looks mediocre at best. A-Rod's reemergence as a real force at the plate shouldn't have been a big surprise to anyone who studies the game, neither should his sudden acceptance among the Bronx bourgeoisie in that bullshit new ballpark. The whole mandatory grooming policy is so repulsive, reeking of big business bullying practices and the discriminatory days of Steinbrenner, not to mention the GM's name is Cash-man, and oh yeah, it's the fucking Yankees. Blech.

-Cardinals: The only team more loathsome than the Yankees, the Redbirds have become an automatic qualifier for the playoffs every fucking year, even this year with a bunch of injuries to key players and the indignity of the whole Ferguson fiasco solidifying the city's reputation as a slimy, segregated city of injustice and shame. Up in flames with ye!