Tag Archives: Coco Crisp afro

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

“You’re under arrest, son.”

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

Ken Phelps has the look of the quintessential “80’s dad,”  bringing to mind 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 that sticky-page endeavor got boring we would play baseball among the cow patties and various livestock in the fields. (His father lived on a farm in a very rural area) My cousin would get a kick out of me slightly touching the electrical fence, giving me a sudden jolt whereas 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 in any event.

When you take a look at the last 2 N.L. MVPs (Bellinger and Yelich) you see a couple of baby-faced guys who you might partake in a doobie with at a keg party–they bear no resemblance to Phelps, who looks like he should be either dishing out benevolent fatherly words of wisdom while gutting a fish, flashing ass crack while under the hood of a classic car, or arresting fratboys outside the aforementioned kegger for possessing a bag of recently purchased purple kush strain of 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 mislocated 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 thus far was relegated to a baseball card that was never really examined or loved and tossed into a box. Forgotten until unearthed.

It’s time to give 2020 a good, swift kick in the ass

An appropriate metaphor.

The specter of 2020 is almost over, and this baseball writing interloper must take pause and perhaps a deep breath in order to reflect. I’m going to refrain from giving you a redundant frame by frame analysis–as I’m assuming you haven’t reawakened from a coma–but I don’t think I’m reaching when I say that damn near half the population of the U.S. doesn’t care about logic, science, or even high-minded economic interests. (unless you’re raking in over 400,000 dollars a year) No, my friends, the major motivation was simply contempt. An eye opening and disturbing influx of psychotic persecution seemed to rule the day as high minded intellectuals scramble to try to figure out how to baby-sit/pacify the brains of the gullible as they are keenly aware that the singular vote of an idiot counts just as much as the singular well-informed in a demented and ironic twist of a democratic process that the former seems to disdain.

I have no light suggestions of benevolence as I am largely apolitical, and this is, alas, a simple baseball publication, and I’ve largely tried to keep it just that. The World Series was a light-hearted escape from the madness and then Justin Turner pranced around the field in celebratory mode with a case of ‘Rona and kicked everyone in the nuts with a dose of reality. No Bueno. But if anyone understands how misguided any sense of certainty is, it would be a baseball fan. History will largely scoff and turn a blind eye to the suffering and trials of the pathetic humans and when all is said and done, it will still be there in black and white on the written page (paper?) Dodgers 2020 World Series Champions.

I’ll probably have a few stiff drinks tonight in full celebratory mode as my friends and I watch pop stars prance around in confetti and the newest rendition of Dick Clark feigns having a good time in Times Square with his cajones in full refrigeration. There will be Bloody Marys, Chateau Pink Gins, and of course, the lethal Velvet Hammer ready to sweet talk you into staying in bed on the first day of the year as you watch episodes of Three’s Company with ironic detachment and weep into your pillow at the inhumanity of it all. I will be properly blitzed and locked into my fucking groove as the crescendo happens, and 2020 will still be there to scoff, “too bad you’re not double-jointed so you could bend over and kiss your ass goodbye.”

R.I.P. Joe Morgan

I have an old cigar box where I stash my autographs, baseball cards, and other assorted bric-a-brac. Today I was looking through it for the first time in eons when I stumbled upon this Joe Morgan pin. I didn’t really get to watch Joe play, as he had retired before baseball was part of my stratosphere, but I know he was a fine second baseman and a damn good leader on some star-studded Cincinnati Reds teams in the 70’s. He was also a Hall of Famer, a label that hasn’t been treated kindly in this demoralizing year of 2020.

I suppose when people die an individual always reminisces and then takes the inevitable look at their own mortality and wonders: When is my time? Where do we go? Is it just nothingness? So here I am raising a glass for you, Joe. Let us all acknowledge the fact that no matter race, economic status, or popularity that we will all end up in the same place. And that enough should be reason alone for us to try to figure out how to end oppression and bigotry so we can all live a better life, and hopefully achieve a more peaceful existence on this spinning rock that we call home.

Bring on the Sox

R.I.P Eazy

When I think of the White Sox I immediately think of N.W.A., Bo Jackson, Bill Veeck, Charles Comiskey, goofy softball uniforms. Carlton Fisk, Disco Demolition Night, Frank Thomas, Shoeless Joe Jackson, “Black” Jack McDowell, Tony LaRussa (this one is confusing), and last but not least….a completely wasted, living and breathing trailer-park-cliche father and son materializing from the stands to beat the shit out of an umpire

There’s a largely uncelebrated and rich history on the South-Side of Chicago, but much like the Oakland A’s, they hone their craft on the more working-class (black) side of town with “derelict” followers, so they get very little national screen time or respect from anyone in the baseball world but the rabid fan base that supports them. They are considered the plucky little brother from a city that can hardly pull their eyes away from the bourgeois North-Side Cubs that are synonymous with a large fan base of drunken college kids lurking in the bleachers, throwing up on themselves (and others) and not even bothering to at least go to the restroom to urinate when they’re not harassing and hurling death-threats at an innocent, headphone and turtleneck-wearing nerd.

Alas, there is a wealth of young talent on this exciting Sox team that would surely be household names if they played for the Yankees, with the likes of Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, and Jose Abreau swinging the sticks, and Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease taking the hill for the Medias Blancas de Chicago. And in an abrupt topic change, I would also like to take this time to thank the Sox for letting us defraud and embarrass them in the Jeff Samardzija for Marcus Semien and Chris Bassitt trade. We didn’t care much for Jeff in the East Bay anyway. Ribbing aside, I have much respect for this team and their history and I am looking forward to an exciting, highly competitive series that should be a treat for all baseball fans.

Hot Dogs, Mustard, and Mr. October

The Dalai Lama walks up to a hot dog vendor and says, “Make me one with everything.” Heyoooo!

“There isn’t enough mustard in the world to cover Reggie Jackson.”Darold Knowles, Oakland A’s, 1973

Once a year on the 4th of July weekend, the world focuses its curious attention on the freak show known as Coney Island for the formerly Japanese-Dominated, highly anticipated athletic event known as Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Half-drunken crowds watch with glee and mouth-foaming fervor as contestants literally cram voluminous amounts of the mystery food down their throats like a starving 2-year-old child to the tune of a 10,000 dollar prize and accolades that only a B-movie actor or 3rd rate hip hop artist could receive.

On a whimsy, I attended this event with my then bikini-clad girlfriend in the summer of 2006. She had short blond hair akin to cliche-80’s-movieruskie Brigitte Nielsen of Rocky 3 fame, and turned her nose up at the event. And I, like much of the crowd, was pleasantly buzzed and was absolutely tranquilized by the spectacle. This prototypical American shit-show was a much more desirable choice than loitering on a dusty and windy East Coast beach while old, perverted chess players eyeballed the thin, blonde California Girl. Ever the narcissist, she had been turning heads and inheriting carnal thoughts since she was a pre-teen princess growing up in a leafy-green small town tucked away in the north side of the Golden State. Soon thereafter, our relationship inevitably passed from this world as painlessly and quietly as a good death. 

And in my hazy state on that sunny New York day, I started wondering how eating hot dogs was a gluttonous spectacle, and “being” one in the baseball world was to be the same: an all-encompassing, excessive consuming force who craves attention, and Reggie Jackson certainly was emblematic of this. The parallels were astounding–similar to the hot dog eating affair, New Yorkers voraciously consumed gossip newspapers, amassing some sort of love/hate affair with controversial NY Yankee Jackson in a similar manner–the “grotesque” that lovingly had a sprinkle of S&M around the edges. Pure, unadulterated spectacle display for a boorish native culture that prides itself on vulgar personality and shoving mass quantities of filthy odds and ends down its own throat for the sake of a story and cheap titillation. A sort of Coney Island of the viscera. 

Pass the mustard.

Sometimes life is the Pitts

Card courtesy of whentoppshadballs.blogspot.com

Is hitting zero home runs in the big leagues like being a writer who was never published? Or is it about the experience? The tactile thrill of putting pen to paper and seeing jumbled thoughts form on the page in a cohesive unit without fan-fair, without a record of speech.

Done with love unrequited.

There is a collective, who? from the crowd and a lot of head-scratching. The pitcher sneers, why are you here? this refugee from the bush leagues. The player goes through automated motions before digging in, slicing dirt and skipping pebbles; stepping into the box without adulation. No one scurries from the beer line to watch your at-bat. Persona Non-Grata. No one writes about and examines your life and travels, quoting you endlessly. You are no Joe DiMaggio or Ernest Hemingway or any other black and white face on a postcard. 11 career base-hits. I’ve had more lovers than that. Every one categorized and resonated in my mind’s eye with a dying quail, a check-swing squib, a flare here and there, or a hotshot that juuuuust went foul. Our struggles happen concurrently with everyone else’s — and sometimes done with love unrequited.

Trades, psychobabble, etc.

Through a shroud of cloudy-fogged smoke I had a constellation of ideas, but the major thought proposed in this imaginary world was a Franklin Barretto for Taijuan Walker trade, because….pitching. I am a proponent of pitching and more pitching. And when you think you have enough, you need more. It worked out that way….somewhat. Never in my wildest dreams of weed-induced narcosis did I think GM David Forst and I had some sort of non-verbal state of consciousness, and that we could just vibe together through time and space, but baseball appeals to the fanatical personality, so why not?

As of this writing, Barretto has exactly ONE at-bat for the Halos, so there is no reason to think “Mad Genius” Joe Maddon has any faith in baseball’s most hyped pinch-runner since Herb Washington aka Josh Donaldson’s little brother aka Mr. Nashville. Alas, baseball seasons (and careers) represent an indefinite cloud of future potentialities, so perhaps this kid from Venezuela can learn to lay off the two-strike slider in the dirt and become the superstar Brad Pitt had imagined when he made perhaps the worst move of his exemplar model of decision making. (Let’s leave Milton Bradley for Andre Ethier out of this)

I read somewhere that coffee has the same neurological effects as cocaine, and I have my doubts as I sit here this beautiful morning, typing this, with absolutely no desire to dance all night to 80’s New Wave or have crude sex with a stranger in a public restroom. Although the psychobabble, apparently, still applies, because here I am: howling into the abyss of the Internet. The narrative here is that the A’s made “A’s trades” when they acquired Tommy LaStella and Mike Minor. LaStella is synonymous with OBP, and there is nothing that gets the Oakland brass hotter than a truck stop hooker than being a regular on the base paths. Mike Minor was acquired for a couple bush leaguers because (good) starting pitching is at a premium. Give us 5 frames a game and call it a day.

Billy Beane famously said that the baseball playoffs were a crapshoot, so lock and load, boys. The dog and pony show is over. The A’s have entered the casino, fresh-cut, wearing suits, and they are ready to roll.

Don Baylor, Johnnie Taylor, and the 13th Floor Elevators

1979 A.L. MVP and some schmuck.

Austin, Texas has a city-wide mask mandate as the Orange Menace Virus has attacked and spread in the state of Texas unlike few other states. When I visit a new town I feel an innate, almost compulsive desire to explore the area on foot. I roamed through the humid and uninhabited downtown on a admitted futile mission, trying to find a specific rock and roll bar-The Thirteenth Floor-named after one of my favorite 60’s psychedelic bands, The 13th Floor Elevators.

The bar was closed, per regulation, so I stood in front of the joint for a moment trying to cool off in the shade and listened to Johnnie Taylor’s “Running Out of Lies” that was slowly pouring out of a ghetto blaster hoisted by a black dude loitering at an abandoned bus stop bearing a resemblance to Bo Diddley. I knew it couldn’t be Bo Diddley as he been dead for well over a decade, so I took a swig of water, enjoyed the song and the beauty of the offbeat and the unflappable for a moment, and was on my way. I realized that I should be referring to GoogleMaps for information, but I like my quests to be visceral and in the tradition of the flâneur, which means “stroller,” “lounger,” or “loafer.” A defining characteristic of the flâneur is that he doesn’t have any practical goals in mind: he isn’t walking to get something, or to go somewhere specifically, and neither was I.

I was enjoying being a “slow observer” and soaking in the local murals, eccentricities, food and flavor; and this random synchronicity eventually led me to a massive cemetery where by some stroke of luck, I stumbled upon the grave of Don Baylor. I paused for a moment and lamented this man who was not only a great hitter, but was also seen as one of the refined gentlemen of the game. Here are some random facts about Baylor:

— one of four ML players to be named MVP and Manager of the Year. (Kirk Gibson, Frank Robinson, and Joe Torre are the others)
— was the major component in the infamous 1976 Charlie Finley garage sale/Reggie Jackson trade with the Orioles.
— was on the star-studded 1988 Oakland A’s team that lost to the Dodgers in the World Series. (Baylor had 1 AB in that series.)
— Don was hit by a ML record 267 pitches (since broken) and his credo was “never rub” which he only broke once when drilled by a Nolan Ryan fastball.
— he hit a HUGE home run in game 6 of the 1987 World Series leading a comeback against the Cardinals ace John Tudor which helped lead the Twins to the crown.

I sat and visited with Don for a moment, soaking in the awesome greatness and somber mortality of the situation before continuing with my amble. So long, Don. Maybe I’ll see you again sometime.