Tag Archives: baseball

Turn Out The LIghts…The Party’s Over

I had no misguided delusions of this team winning the division at the beginning of the 2021 season. The past few days I have read various comments comparing Sergio Romo to a white flag, but you’ll see that I wrote on this very blog some months ago that I saw the Romo and Elvis Andrus acquisitions as a white flag with no implications of competing before a single ball was hurled or a single bat was swung. It’s not practical for a team that is tip-toeing the paper-thin line between “good” and “average” to lose two All-Star caliber players (Marcus Semien, Liam Hendricks) and supplant them with two decrepit, below average players who are barely ML caliber. Who was relegated to pick up the slack? Because no one on this roster did–or was even capable–and the numbers to be replaced were insurmountable. The fact that either player stepped on the field wearing pajamas with Oakland stitched on the front was a middle-finger to the fans. A ruse. The same tired and time-honored baseball front office hoax of getting the fans interested by virtue of a “name” player who “did it in the past” rather than the ability to put up numbers for your team today–and the uneducated, fringe fans fall for it…every…single….time.

We as fans are supposed to “trust the process,” but where does a team go with a 29th ranked minor league system and zero ability to sign high profile free agents? Are we as Oakland fans to forever wish upon a star with the likes of Skye Bolt or a myriad of AAAA players? To dig through the trash to find somewhat capable players with obvious flaws and then leave it to management to disguise said flaws? Make no mistake about it, the contention window has closed with this current team, and with the threat of a move to Las Vegas imminent–these are times of high anxiety for fans of the green and gold. We are staring into the void of the baseball universe and having an existential crisis while the front office is trying to prove their craftiness by playing a glamorized version of Strat-O-Matic. Dare I say the Devil Rays have surpassed the A’s at their own game in this respect? A World Series appearance, the best record in the AL, and a stacked minor league system tells me…. hell yes. Humbled and surpassed at our own Moneyball game as a billionaire con-man (burn in hell John Fisher) hiding behind the scenes uses the team, the city of Oakland and MLB in order to extort and develop hundreds of acres of publicly owned land posing as a “stadium project.”

These are disparaging times with no foreseeable reprieve.

Author Almost Swallowed by the Pacific on a Perfectly “Sonny” Day

Pirates Cove, Malibu

I remember that day well. I had almost drown while surfing in the hidden cove. The waves took me under and I was thrashing around at the bottom and had no idea which way was up and which way was down. It didn’t matter, as I was being pummeled mercilessly and told myself not to panic or I’d start sucking in water.  I suppose there are worse ways to die, but while it’s happening you are never really ready to concede no matter the aesthetic. It’s like a surprise birthday party in all the wrong ways. 

There is nothing like the sensory pleasure of falling off a surfboard into the cold Southern California ocean as you tumble under the surface  for what seems like an eternity and surface gasping for air. I was reborn as I violently broke the surface–blind luck and another bullet dodged. I dragged myself across the sand, chest heaving heavily and astonished to still be in one piece as the sky was making that brief transformation that comes every evening at twilight.

“Did you know that most “friendships” are only reciprocal 53 percent of the time?” said the scantily clad girl. 

My girlfriend had brought the New York Times, a large umbrella and a few adult beverages. She looked amazing in her bikini, and I was jealous of the sun glistening off her light-brown cocoa skin like a forbidden sanctum while my own pasty coating was sucking up skin cancer like a flophouse on future consignment. My lust was transparent. We were hanging out mere feet away from where Charlton Heston filmed the iconic scene with the Statue of Liberty in Planet of the Apes. It was well known to locals, but you had to climb a small stack of sharp, craggy boulders to enter the VIP room. 

“Whats new, pussycat?” I asked, still gasping for air.

I sat for a minute quietly thinking about my own life and the relationships that had come and gone. I supposed that I had never seen any sort of friendship as “forever” because of my own abandonment by my father. Because of this thought, and the anxiety of the inevitable, perhaps I never put the time or the effort into friendships that I should have. I simply exhausted all avenues and then quietly moved on with little care. Funny how that happens–one minute you’re dying, and the next…disastrous self-scrutiny

“Looks like your favorite player was traded,” she said.

“Sonny Gray!?”

 “Those damn dirty apes,”  I thought. They went and did the inevitable –so how could I be shocked or angry? “They’ll love him in New York for about, oh, 15 minutes.” (Gray was 15-16 over the lower part of 2 seasons before being exiled to Cincinnati for a package of hot dog buns)

Echoes of the past rumble through my head as I gazed upon the murderous waves crashing in deadly syncopation. I loved to tempt the laws of probability as a reaffirmation of existence. I dragged the surfboard slowly to the water and the previous thoughts disappeared as suddenly as they came. I didn’t like revisiting the past– and the way the waves were looking today, perhaps I didn’t have a future either.

note: if you want to watch free baseball, simply click on Alfred E. Neuman’s face in the upper right hand corner.

2 Dudes Talk About Baseball Movies

 Gary Trujillo: I watched that Field Of Dreams game, and it was really cool from an aesthetic standpoint… and what an ending! I’m not a big fan of the movie though, it’s way too cheesy for my tastes. My favorite baseball movie would have to be Bull Durham because the writing is smart, funny, romantic, sexy and raunchy. And Susan Sarandon! Meow. 

I met BD writer Ron Shelton at the Burbank Library in 2010 and he was a cool guy. Jim Bouton (RIP) was there that day too as was Greg Goossen (RIP)

Brian Kingman: Yes! Bull Durman is more realistic and my favorite too. When I watched the movie I was interested to see who wrote it because it combined a high level of understanding of what it was like to play the game professionally, as well as an awesome job of capturing the personal interaction between teammates (Mostly Costner & Robbins) as well as what it is like to be a naive rookie or a seasoned pro. My favorite scene is when Costner tells the hitter what’s coming and he hits the home run off the bull. It so accurately depicted the feeling and interaction between an experienced catcher and rookie pitcher who thinks he is invincible. 

I think almost every young pitcher has been in that situation. I remember the first time I faced Reggie Jackson, it was 0-2, no one on base and I shook off a curveball twice! because I WANTED TO ANNOUNCE MY PRESENCE WITH AUTHORITY.…..with a fastball of course. Well, that ball ended up 30 rows deep in the right-field stands. If the Durham bull had been there it might have knocked its head off!  Jim Essian, my catcher came out to the mound with a smile that said, I told you so  and said, “Now there’s something to remember.”

Anyway, Ron Shelton should be in Baseball’s HOF for writing (and directing) that movie! 

Field Of Dreams is different. Less realistic and requires the suspension of disbelief. It would be awesome if old-time players could emerge from a cornfield! Not sure how many would be available or where it might happen. Maybe in a parallel universe there is a schedule of old-timers games for everyone that ever played. Like (the novel) The Wax Pack you could catch up with your favorite players. Unlike Wax Pack it wouldn’t matter if they were still living …well at least not in the here and now. 

With everyone theoretically available, my list would be very long. I would like, of course, to meet Dolf Luque. August 24th was the 99th anniversary of his 20th loss – the last pitcher before me to lose 20 for a winning team. Jack Nabors, who suffered through a 1-20 season and of course Pud Galvin. I’d want to get Babe Ruth’s opinion on today’s homerun glut, but more importantly the highlights of his nightlife. I’d ask Rube Wadell why he chased fire trucks, and I would ask Casey Stengel to tell me all he knows about Billy Martin. I’d like to meet Anthony Young to hear his frustrations of losing 27 consecutive decisions. I would hope that the power of walking through the corn isn’t limited to just the diamond. I want to meet these guys in a bar so we can sit down and talk for hours. I know Babe would feel right at home. I also know that Luque and Stengel don’t like each other, and as the night wears on a plastered Billly Martin should appear to make things even more interesting.

An Interview With Oakland A’s UK

Although much of what I do here is the literary equivalent of digital fish wrap, I recently decided to go a different direction and did a cool and very interesting interview with Matt from Oakland A’s UK. I despise long intros, so I’ll let the interview do the talking…also, do yourself a favor and check out the link above if you get a chance! Enjoy.

1. Let’s start with the genesis of this love affair. How did you discover baseball in a football-obsessed country, and why did you choose the Oakland A’s as your favorite club?

In the late 1990s and early 2000s two MLB games per week were shown live on British TV in the early hours of the morning. As a big sports fan, I thought I would give baseball a shot and so I recorded a game and was hooked straight away, despite not having much of a clue what was going on at first. My first game was in mid-1998 so I lucked into the whole drama of the ‘Run for ‘61’ (slightly tarnished in retrospect!) that season and also quickly gained a healthy dislike of the Yankees due to them being annoyingly good in that period!

I thought it would be more fun to have a team to root for, but had no geographic or family reasons that might pick a team for me, other than not wanting to jump onto the bandwagon of the usual big-name teams. In the end, it came down to the colors. I come from a small city called Norwich and our soccer team plays in yellow and green, so when I saw the A’s green and gold caps that was as good a reason as any.

I’d say I’ve properly been following the A’s since 2005, as that was the first year when MLB.TV was really starting up and I was able to watch or listen to lots of games rather than just reading up about them online. 2005 really isn’t all that long ago, but the way MLB.TV has developed over the years since, and streaming in general, is pretty remarkable. Add on social media and wherever you are in the world you can now feel like part of the fan base. We’ve been incredibly lucky that so many A’s fans have been so welcoming towards us, both online and on visits to the Coliseum, and I think that speaks to the unique spirit that A’s fans have.

2. Considering the time change, you and your crew have to rise at ungodly hours to watch these games. How do you suffer through it?

We are 8 hours ahead of Pacific Time so day-games are our friend! A typical 12.37pm or 1.07pm start in Oakland is 8.37pm/9.07pm here in the UK, and that means most weeks there are at least 2 if not 3 games we can watch live at a convenient time.

The night-games are usually a 2.40am or 3.07am start for us. With the best will in the world, watching those live every day, combined with a full-time job and other commitments, often isn’t feasible. So we don’t tend to watch ‘working week’ night-games live and instead either just settle for watching the highlights or watch the game back ‘as live’ the following day. That’s been made easier over the past 18 months due to Covid lockdowns and the increase home-working where we can have it on in the background! 

The other silver lining of the Covid period has been the wide adoption of Zoom calls as a way for us to watch games together despite living apart, in different parts of the UK and also friends out there in the States joining too. That helps to get us through late nights when the game is dragging on a bit.

3. Are you invested in the decision regarding the Oakland City Council and the A’s potentially leaving Oakland?

Definitely. We don’t come from a sporting culture of franchises and the very idea of picking up a team and moving it somewhere else is completely abhorrent to us whoever the team is, let alone the one we love. I know the A’s moved from Philadelphia and KC to get here, but the team has been in Oakland since 1968 so by now I think everyone has the right to consider the A’s as being Oakland’s team. I guess Fisher and Kaval see the Vegas flirting as standard business practice for US franchises, but it’s just the latest kick in the teeth for a fanbase that has been treated terribly for years and deserves so much better. 

Clearly the Howard Terminal plan is complicated, but it feels like it has got further along the line than any other plan for a new ballpark in Oakland, so I view it all with cautious optimism. All of us in the AUK group would struggle to follow the team to a new location, especially one out of the Bay Area, so we all desperately hope that everything works out and Fisher and Kaval actually come good on their ‘Rooted In Oakland’ talk.

4. Who are your favorite players and most hated? (Any Jim Johnson hate would be appreciated)

Jim Johnson certainly is on the bad list, with Billy Butler being the other name that comes up most in our discussions of recent flops. 

In terms of favorites, I think I loved everything about Coco Crisp, from his name to his batting stance, and he was a rare player who stuck around for quite a while. Cespedes was like a comet who shone with us briefly, but he felt like a star player when he was here, and one who genuinely seemed to enjoy being in Oakland. 

Most recently, Marcus Semien and Liam Hendriks were players you had to love because we saw their struggles and how hard they worked to become excellent players, and again both had a lot of respect for the A’s fan base. That made the past off-season really hard, but there are always new players to emerge or existing ones to step up. Right now, my vote would be for ‘the starting rotation’! I love the way that they clearly enjoy being in each other’s company and drive each other on. Here’s hoping they can keep performing as well as they have up to this point.

More Ranting About a Dumb Kid’s Game

Bow at the feet of Dick Mountain, he of the perpetual blister and fellow jizz user.

“Baseball opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one and most of ’em stink.” — Harry Caray

Baseball “agitprop” continues as the Houston Asterisks became yesterday’s news, (bad timing for the hot new book exposé, Cheated) and the new squabble concerned pitchers using a goo/sunscreen/coca-cola/spider-tack jizz concoction on their fingers to have better control and higher spin rate. Of course, MLB was impartial until the media fired shots about baseball being “boring” due to the 3 true outcome trends, no-hitters becoming run-of-the-mill and baseball’s collective batting average dropping quicker than a high school girl’s panties on prom night. It wasn’t uncommon to hear the game’s old coots/heroes spewing nonsense about “going the other way” and “choking up” when they never had to face the otherworldly velocity and wicked breaking shit day to day that the modern-day players have to face, essentially making their points void and out of context. (Ty Cobb floated the same criticism Babe Ruth’s direction, and on and on and on…ad nauseam

It’s the stale old case of baseball being better “back in the day” when in reality it probably wasn’t. The strike zones in the 70’s/80’s were more horrendous than today with the zone changing arbitrarily from AL to NL, and pitchers getting called strikes a foot off the plate from East to West. Banjo-hitters were playing daily and barely batting above .220 with little power, and pitchers were also proving their “toughness” by losing games in the later innings when it was obvious to everyone in the ballpark that they were barely throwing above 90 at that point while a bullpen guy who could throw peas sat on his ass and stared at a blonde in the front row. (Tony LaRussa is now hearkened as a “genius” for being able to compute basic math and daring to challenge the norms) These same standard-bearers are also nostalgic for .300 batting averages (a stat that is not as relevant as it used to be) even though Tony Gwynn, he of multiple batting titles, didn’t score a seasonal 100 runs after his 27th birthday. Do you smell what I’m dishing here? The key to winning is runs, not hits, and being stuck in the Mesozoic Era doesn’t necessarily mean better unless you enjoy beating the shit out of a dinosaur with a bone and dragging your significant other by the hair into a dingy cave. 

In the end, organizations are trying to win, not look aesthetically pleasing to old farts who should probably take a trip to the ballet if they are looking for dainty and pleasing visual cues that remind them of their younger years–which begs the question: if baseball is a dying sport, why has attendance averaged (roughly) 30.000 asses in the seats when it barely reached 15-25 in the ’70s and ’80s? The “get off my lawn” argument just doesn’t hold water and sounds just as ridiculous, pious, and nonsensical as a wrinkled, childish, dunderhead spit-spewing while wearing a red cap that states, “Make Baseball Great Again.” These people want the facade without the meat and potatoes even though they claim to want both. They hate the numbers just because they’re not the right numbers. Didn’t we just endure a blazing hot point of discussion about moving the mound back a few months ago? Or banning the shift? Quit tinkering! Leave the goddamn game alone! This game was here long before you and your cultural heroes were enjoying their lives and the fruits of their labor and will be here long after this generation and the next are in the ground rotting aeternum

 

Asterisks Beer Review While Vaxxed as F*ck

Bang. Bang.

I know the threat of the Oakland Athletics moving to a different city looms in the shadows, but it would be inconsequential to comment here until the Oakland City Council votes on the matter on July 20th. The readers of this blog already know my feelings concerning billionaire flim-flam artists and John Fisher is no exception. 

***

I finally got my second vaxx shot, so I commended my new precursor to freedom and the ending of covid-induced hibernation by buying a few beers and a new collectable Skeletor as my companion and I drove through the winding, craggy hills singing Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” at the top of our lungs. (Subsequently, I was confused by her public animosity of the Eagles, but love of a few choice Henley songs)  It’s scorching and humid and we are glistening as a result. There was an excursion to Taco Bell, a food I hadn’t eaten in well over a decade, and I felt as if  I was eating toxic sludge with notes of acidic regurgitation, but I needed sustenance before we went to a party bursting at the seams with a certain titular clique of Southern socialites. Not my cup of tea as a breezy West Coaster, although I was looking forward to imbibing on the Southern Belle, The Alabama Slammer, and The High Noon Old Fashion  which would perhaps loosen me up for the plethora of “ya’alls” and stiff posturing that would be heaved my way. How did I end up here?

“Did you ever notice that Donna Summer looks like Rick James without a mustache?” she said.

 ***

Are my readers tired of the pseudo-intellectual baseball pundit gibberish constantly shoved down their throats? Perhaps, but if you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance, then baffle them with your bullshit regarding “pre-gaming” and cliche sports blog financed beer reviews– but color me naive as I have not received one thin red dime for my efforts here. 

And as I was standing in the store aisle, blankly staring, and confused by the dizzying array of choices, I  gave in and decided to try the Houston Asterisks sponsored Crawford Bock, and my immediate impression was that it reminded me of a sort of piss-infused Newcastle. I found it to be rather bland for an attempt at a bock, and about as safe and by the books as you can get without going the dreaded “light beer” path. This is an attempt at making baseball fans that are used to drinking traditional lifeless, stodgy beer feel sophisticated by drinking a trendy, “craft beer” when this is the farthest thing from it. It’s a damn good metaphor for their baseball team–style over substance and pure surface trickery. I felt in the end I was paying for the can with its retro-rainbow Nolan Ryan era motif more than anything, and in the tradition of the organization, felt cheated. Not Recommended. 

It’s the day before Opening Day, day

Now that’s a beautiful lineup. Nine out of 10 shirtless guys agree.

I was watching an A’s /Twins game from 1988 on YooToob and it was a blast from the past and a chopped up line in the bathroom of nostalgia. Bob Welch was on the hill for the good guys and it was sort of sad to see him facing Kirby Puckett as both shuffled off this mortal coil way too soon. I was enjoying the game and settling in, but I was distracted by all the shirtless guys, carrying their wax cups full of Budweiser, happily fluttering around in the crowd like social butterflies with blindingly glistened oil-soaked bodies and Tom Cruise approved knockoff Ray-Bans.

When did it become socially acceptable for guys to walk around shirtless at the ballpark in the ’80s? I’ve seen this sort of exhibitionism in many 80’s movies, (maybe it was because gay culture was influencing the mainstream on the down-low, hence the straight guy mustache trend of the era which made baseball players look like leather daddies and was a disco-hangover) but was it art imitating life or vice versa? Although the apotheosis of shirtless guy movies, Magic Mike, came out in 2012, it still didn’t inspire a vomit-inducing public movement. Guys in the 2000’s just decided it was better to leave their shirts on. I’m not saying an individual should wear a suit and tie à la the 1920’s Babe Ruth era, but please leave the “beach bod” (which isn’t always the case) at the beach. It’s goddamn distracting as most of the time the person committing the atrocity looks less like Arnold and more like he was squeezed out of a tube. Is this is a California thing or an 80’s thing? Inquiring minds want to know.


It’s (the day before) opening day and you would like to watch your favorite team, but you can’t due to blackouts. Bummer. Here’s the biggest misconception about MLB blackouts–teams are not blacking out games to make you go to the stadium, they are doing it to ensure they don’t piss off the regional sports networks, which are established cash cows to the tune of 2.1 billion. Like most of you, I couldn’t care less about what billionaire has the biggest dick and just want to watch my local team. Here is a gift for the dedicated readers of this site: (all 10 of you) simply click on Alfred E. Newman’s face to the upper right (or at the bottom if you are reading this on a phone) and free baseball! Burn it all down! Fuck Rob Manfred! Destroy the system! …Although you’ll probably want to *ahem* return tomorrow since there are no games today.

The A’s are caught, once again, digging through the trash

Is there any more pitching in there? We need bullpen help.

I’m sitting on the toilet regretting last nights consuming of toxic sludge and listening to the Minutemen “Shit You Hear at Parties,” and it is 1 minute and 11 seconds of pure L.A. South Bay punk rock gold. Immediately after, I had an ex-girlfriend randomly text me to talk about this, that, or the other and I sort of had to stifle a chuckle. There was a time, long ago, that my sister had bought Tears for Fears tickets for just the two of us, and I couldn’t magically conjure a third ticket from the already sold-out show from thin air or my asshole so an argument and an unsubstantiated break-up ensued. (So much for “Sowing the Seeds of Love”) Pleasant reminiscing quickly turned to anger and I scatter-brained a quick click on the “block” button and let out a sigh. Disaster averted and personal level of Zen attainment unchallenged. Let’s check the news…shall we?

Nothing can gloss my eyes over quicker than billionaires arguing over revenue sharing and salary caps, yet I see that the Brokeland Pathetics continue to “piss in the ocean” and threw the fans into a fervor by acquiring pitcher Cole Irvin from the Phillies on layaway, (cash considerations) essentially doing their yearly dumpster diving and claiming to be cash poor, virtually homeless and small market. According to Forbes, owner John Fisher is currently worth $2.9 BILLION and thus is one of the richest owners in all of baseball. (Where’s Walter Haas when you need him?) As of this writing, the team currently sits $121 million under the luxury tax and has yet to sign a single free agent. This team is essentially banking on “Moneyball” rhetoric to pacify nitwit, short-sighted sports fans as close-fisted owners continue to profit off unprecedented increases in MLB revenues. In the end, sadly, my main concern and desperate priority concerning the A’s for the next decade isn’t winning, but their commitment to staying in Oakland.
As the world turns…

This Cole Irvin kid has had a terrible pro career but he absolutely tore up AAA for some team called the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. This leads to more confusion. Why would the Phillies give up on a guy that had an iota of talent for cash? And what exactly is an Iron Pig? In the end, we have become what Cubs fans used to be (without the idyllic ballpark): happily skipping to the yard to have a hotdog, beer, some sunshine, and a good time with the kids or grandpa, but ultimately having no delusions about a chance to win the “worthless piece of metal.” (Hello Rob Manfred!) It’s certainly disheartening when you see a young, fun, and razzle-dazzle “small market” team like the Padres signing big-time free agents, but that’s been the life of an A’s fan for the past 30 years or so. We are simply and inexorably the Ramen Noodles of pro sports, and Irvin settles nicely into that “cheap” and “organizational depth” category that the Oakland front office will happily pluck off the swap meet scrap heap. In the end, what do I know?… I’m just an ill-informed gasbag who is now stepping off his soapbox to happily one day put more money in the pockets of the grifters known as MLB. It’s a disgusting and hypocritical cycle and proves that the opinions of sports fans are often silly and redundant.

Vida? Is that you?

Wanna hear a cool song? Check out “Vida Blue” by Jimmy Bee

I know I have a predilection for visual art to be easy on the eye, but if it isn’t easy on the eye then at least it should be meaningful and thought-provoking. I tend to look at modern art the same way I look at a pop star: with tantalizing wonder, mild bemusement, and with a sense of ironic detachment. Despite my supposed bone of contention and love/hate relationship, the visual arts are a nice refresher for my mental highways and quite inspirational in my life on a daily basis. I adhere to that annoying cliche that makes art critics want to gouge their eyes out: I see art in everything.

The Orange Menace Plague has demonstrated the value of the visual arts, while also threatening it–education, entertainment, and escapism are just some of the benefits the arts have provided during these bleak and confusing times and we should do everything we can to give value to something infinitely more important than simple monetary worth. (all this was typed as “Do the Hustle” wafted serenely in the background. Can you ever mistake the first 3 seconds of that song for anything else? What a lovely, crappy song.)

One morning I was mindlessly scanning the internet (Help! I need a salve from doom surfing!) on a typical day of rampant cognitive dissonance when I stumbled upon this 1975 Topps Vida Blue oil painting manufactured by the artist John Kilduff. Kilduff is (well?) known for painting while doing acrobatics, like running on a treadmill or riding an exercise bike, during a public access show in Los Angeles. He is sort of seen as the punk rock version of Bob Ross and some critics have deemed the show “ironic performance art.” In my opinion, the best part about the show is that it lacks caller screening and a lot of bored stoners take advantage of this by making surly comments, cursing, accosting members of the show, and making derogatory comments about rival gangs.

Of course, this type of off-kilter, aberrant content was a calling card for the late-night drunken denizens of a city that took pride in its ability to mesh psychedelia and reality. It is the type of show that perfectly defines the human condition and would be one of the first things I’d choose if there was a mutual exchange of cultural artifacts with an alien species: you know…the ones that constructed the space laser/death star that created the forest fires in California.

You can buy the painting above for 340 dollars if that sort of thing floats your boat.

 

Ken Phelps is ready to rock your world

OK, Boomer.

“How do you trade Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps!?”–Frank Costanza, Seinfeld

Ken Phelps has the look of the quintessential “80’s dad,” and reminds me a bit of my cousin’s father, my uncle through marriage who was known to wear a beat-up, snap-backed San Francisco Giants baseball cap, and on special occasions a cowboy hat with a feather band not unlike a member of Charlie Daniel’s raucous honkey tonk band. Now every time I see this archaic piece of Americana I can almost imagine the beer bottles breaking against the protective fence set before the band in some small, backwoods shithole in Texas not unlike the scene in the brilliant Patrick Swayze flick, Roadhouse.

I had been to his dad’s home on a few occasions and we would play Nintendo or try to quench our biological imperative and devilish curiosity by looking for his porn stash in the grease-caked garage. When bored of that, we would play baseball among the cow patties in the fields. (His father lived on a farm in a very rural area) My cousin would get a kick out of this idiot touching the electrical fence, giving me a sudden jolt, although I would balk at “pissing on it” to his dismay. I was always a bit saddened to disappoint his infectious and sophomoric sense of humor, but an electrified dong just didn’t sound appetizing.

When you take a look at the last 2 N.L. MVP’s (Bellinger and Yelich) you see a couple of baby-faced guys who you might partake in a doobie with at a keg party; they look nothing like Phelps, who looks like he should be either dishing out benevolent fatherly words of wisdom while gutting a fish or arresting fratboys outside the kegger for possessing said mar-eee-wanna. He doesn’t look like he survived in the league on any sort of pure talent, just the ability to use “grown man strength” on the occasional fastball.

Phelps had only had 12 hits for the Oakland ballclub as he was an aging DH who was nearing the end of his career (until being sold to the Cleveland Indians for a bag of nickels) and had lost the only valuable asset he had–occasional power. Phelp’s baseball life was coming to an end as my pre-teen years were just beginning, and until now was relegated to a baseball card that was never really examined or loved and tossed into a box. Forgotten until unearthed.