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Free at Last! Summer Is Here!

Hook ’em Horns

I dragged myself to one of those fancy movie premieres, and it was an experience that was embraced as a heroic poem and not just a regular, boring Saturday evening–this was a communal, but at the same time extremely individual moment that felt like an atonement of sorts. I had not been to the movies in over a year (since the short-lived and limited re-issue of Alien) and it was the longest I’d gone without being in a cinema since I sat down to watch Return of the Jedi in 1983 as a little devil child. There was the nostalgic, yet forgotten hint of popcorn mixed in with the notes of cleaning spray and faux-butter sludge to welcome me with open arms. I was a tad bit leery about being around so many skin-sacks, but calmed myself on a few occasions by telling myself that the world was a different place– and it was as simple as breaking free of a routine, and a miserable one at that. In conclusion, the movie sucked, but I enjoyed it nonetheless as a free flowing, maskless and anxiety-free critic unperturbed by low-brow cinema. 

The after-party was at the Flamingo Cantina, and their mezcal margarita hit me straight behind my third eye. Matthew McConaughey was making his rounds, flittering amongst the packed club and making benign conversation, but as an ex-denizen of Los Angeles, we just aren’t that impressed by fame. We are used to seeing our screen heroes at the grocery store buying jarred pickles or matzo ball soup and shrugging it off with an, “Oh,”  after getting a 10 second cheap thrill. I can enjoy the craft of acting (some would say the basis of the craft is to act like a disingenuous, self-satisfied prick with a set of veneers, tendencies to show-off, and a healthy case of nepotism) without caring a lick about their social life or even trying to be near them to suck their “aura.” And in the end actors simply don’t impress me as much as athletes (or musicians) as most of them are smaller in stature than even the average person on the street. (Hola, Tom Cruise) Size matters–am I right ladies? 

Noted Austin-ite and former Oakland Athletic Huston Street was standing in the corner nursing a Bud Light and wearing some vintage-aviator-style Jeffrey Dahmer glasses that are all the rage with Generation Z hipsters and dads in the 80’s if you happen to have access to a time machine. I’m not sure if he was there for the after-party or if he was just hanging out, but the bartender told me he is now a coach for the Texas Longhorns and I had no reason to believe he was being untruthful. Street had a few excellent seasons as a closer in Oakland before moving on to greener pastures and giant sacks of money elsewhere. I remember being impressed at the time that he was a 21 year old rookie who had to learn how to “piss standing up” with very little minor league experience. Mr. Street had been relegated to oblivion in my mind, and now it all came rushing back with a sun-baked bang. I suppose we didn’t know how good we had it considering we had to endure and agonize with the likes of Jim Johnson and Brian Fuentes since his departure, which now seems as if it happened so many moons ago. 

Ex-Oakland Athletic Brian Kingman Talks About Books, Baseball Cards, and Mortality

(Author: Brian Kingman)

Ok, so what the hell does Don Mossi have to do with Billy Martin, Cal Ripken Jr. Durwood Merrill, Rickey Henderson? (editors note: the Cal Ripken incident will be discussed in a future post.) I want to say absolutely NOTHING, but I would have been wrong. As it turns out, Mossi was traded to the Tigers, along with his good friend and roommate, Ray Narleski, in a November 1958 deal that sent Billy Martin to Cleveland. No that’s not the reason for Mossi’s appearance here either. 

The reason I posted Don Mossi’s baseball card is all about the book someone mentioned, The Wax Pack. After reading their description of the book I was intrigued and checked out a couple of reviews. I then ordered a copy that should arrive next week.

It appears that The Wax Pack covers several of my favorite subjects: The afterlife, the loss of innocence, and of course, baseball. Impermanence is just a more sophisticated way of saying  “Nothing lasts forever” or ‘A constant state of change”. Impermanence only becomes a “gift” when we learn to understand and accept the constantly changing, fleeting nature of life and appreciate what we have. All things good and bad eventually come to an end.

The Afterlife

Is there life after baseball? I am going to say yes, mainly because I am currently living it. It has been said that athletes die twice so I presume I’ll be dying at least one more time. Athletic careers imitate our life span. The life span of an athlete’s career is an accelerated version of our real lives. It mimics the process of development and decay we experience throughout our lives at a faster pace. As we age our performance declines  It’s the curse of mortality, a symptom of impermanence. You spend the first portion of your life learning, growing stronger, polishing your skills, then your body begins to fail. You remember yourself in your prime and wonder where that person went. The wear and tear of training and competing, combined with the physiological changes that naturally occur as we age, conspire to slowly diminish our physical skills…..nothing lasts forever and careers come to an end.

Then in “real” life, you repeat the process only at a slower pace. If you have come to terms with the inevitability of impermanence then you will be better prepared to cope with it. I guess you could call it a gift as the L.A. Times review did, but I think if you have managed to come to terms with the inevitability of impermanence, you likely earned it the hard way.

The Loss of Innocence

As it pertains to baseball the loss of innocence for many of us the transition from the joyful innocence of playing the game as a youngster to professional baseball where it was much more of a business than it was a game. Then there comes another transition from doing something that you had worked hard at and has been a major part of your life since childhood quickly deteriorate and leave you facing a fate that apparently can be the equivalent of death! This is why they say athletes die twice because for some, getting a job in the real world after living in a fantasy world can be very traumatic.

Back to Don Mossi

About 10 years ago my friend Steve Ashman (High school & Senior league baseball teammate) was staring at Don Mossi’s baseball card commenting about the size of his ears and said “You know we should go visit him, he only lives a couple of hours away” It sounded like a good idea to me. We made a list of players we wanted to meet in addition to Mossi. I added a pair of 20 game losers, Don Larsen, Roger Craig, and Vida Blue even though he only lost 19–never mind being an MVP, and Cy Young award winner! Steve added Alex Johnson and Willie McCovey to the list along with Rusty Kuntz. Rusty Kuntz? I asked Steve ‘Why Rusty Kuntz?” He replied “I always wanted to ask him what his parents were thinking when they named him Rusty”

So we planned a trip for “sometime in the future” and as you might imagine we never got around to making that trip. Life got in the way. Alex Johnson passed away in 2015, McCovey in 2018, Mossi in 2019, and Larsen in 2020. They were victims of impermanence as we all will eventually be. 

 

R.I.P. Lew Krausse. Old twirler for the K.C./Oakland A’s

“I went to three Royals games this year, but when I go there I come home and I dream about it for two weeks. And my dream is crazy. It’s that I am going to pitch, but I can’t find my hat or my glove and that I lost one of my shoes. I never throw a ball in a dream. I went to see a shrink about it, and that dream was defined to mean that I left the game before I was mentally prepared. I left because of an injury, rather than for a lack of ability. It’s a dream of frustration.” –Lew Krausse

I was saddened to hear of Lew Krausse dying last week, and it gave me the initiative to look into the ol’ cigar box to retrieve a creased and beat-up autographed 1969 baseball card of the legendary twirler. Lew had played and retired long before I was born, but I had read about and enjoyed his exploits in the various books published about Charlie Finley’s Kansas City/Oakland A’s. In another random and very odd twist, I was invited by an unnamed source in the Athletics organization (send me more free stuff!) to watch his Livestream funeral service (Feb. 24) on Vimeo. I’m not sure if I’ll partake in that quite yet, but it would be nice to honor the man in his final send-off.

Here are some facts about the pitcher:
–Lew was one of the first “bonus babies” in pro sports, signing at that time for a record $125,000 bonus by A’s owner, Charley Finley.
— pitched a 3 hit shutout against the LA Angels in his ML debut at the age of 18. (!!!)
— A legendary drinker who would give Wade Boggs and Mickey Mantle a run for their money, Lew shot off a handgun from the window of his hotel room in KC and kicked down a hotel room door in Anaheim.
— Starting pitcher for the Oakland A’s in their inaugural game in 1969, and also did the same for the first Milwaukee Brewers game in history.

For anyone interested, you can watch Lew pitch 3 innings of relief against the Red Sox in 1969 on Youtube. (relieving Jim Nash and earning the save. Reggie Jackson also hits a homer in this game.)
And In an added bonus, Lew also singles off the Green Monster with Yaz taking the carom and holding the runner. Link: A’s/Red Sox 6/15/1969. 

Interview with artist Daniel Kearsey

 

I was surfing through the internetzzz one day when I stumbled across the really cool baseball card inspired artwork of Daniel Kearsey. I’ll let the interview speak for itself as it’s pretty darn good and chock full of baseball tidbits. If you’re interested in more work, check out his website at sixtyfirststreet.com

1) Talk a bit about how you gravitated to the game of baseball and who were your favorite players growing up?

I remember attending baseball games at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in the late 80’s/early ’90s. You’ll hear this from a lot of people, but I remember there being a lot of obstructed views. I can’t tell you many details about the games I saw there, but I do remember being at the stadium. Both the Indians and the Browns shared that stadium. My dad, who was a Cleveland police officer, picked up security gigs for extra money and he would tell us about working the last Browns game at Municipal and how the fans literally tore seats out and either took them or threw them onto the field. What a disaster. Once Jacob’s Field (Progressive Field) was built, I’ve been to countless games since. Baseball was always a thing in my house. My dad really didn’t care about sports, but my mom would watch the Indians and the Bluejays. Why she watched the Jays has always been odd to me, but because of that, they were always another team I would follow. Back in the mid-’90s, our family took a trip to Toronto and drove by Rogers Centre. I was bummed to find out there wasn’t a game that night. I do, for some odd reason, even to this day remember the smell of Kentucky Fried Chicken while we drove past it. Crazy isn’t it?

My grandpa was another one who had an influence on me when it came to baseball. As a kid, I honestly thought he played major league ball because I saw photos of him with other guys in uniforms. Turns out it was a church league! Regardless, his love of the game shaped me into who I am today. He taught us grandkids how to play in a park that was just diagonal from my grandparent’s house. I know I’m changing the topic but he’s also a huge part of why I even create art. Before WW2 he went to art school in Cleveland and his occupation was a printer. I have some of the metal plates he used in the print shop. It’s some super cool stuff. Cleveland (Tremont) was and still is known for its art community. I would say he was one of the “founding members” of artists in the area. His next-door neighbor, a former priest, would participate in monthly art walks. He taught kids how to draw too. While our styles are completely different, between him and my dad, I wouldn’t consider myself an artist if it weren’t for them. While touching on the subject, I think it’s only fair to mention my dad from an artistic perspective. My dad painted, but his passion was in woodworking. My childhood home was seriously condemned. He bought it in the late ’60s, gutted it, and turned a house that could have been torn down, into a charming, gingerbread looking house. Until he passed away in 2009, the house was never complete. It could have been, but in the way I create art to make me happy, his happiness was remodeling the house. His precision to detail is where I think I get my OCD from. I’m not perfect, but I won’t release something if I don’t like it.

Alright, changing the topic to my favorite players as a kid, I’d have to say that most of them played for Cleveland. Players such as Vizquel, Alomar, Belle, Thome, Baerga, Nagy, and Hershiser were a handful of my favorites. I also had a few others I’d follow such as Griffey Jr., McGwire, Sandberg, Canseco, and Molitor. I’m sure there are others if I really sat and thought about it. Once I got a little older, I watched players like CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Cory Kluber, and Grady Sizemore. I worked at Jacobs Field for a season and seeing players like Jeter stroll by smiling with his Louis Vuitton luggage was super awesome. We weren’t allowed to talk to players, but man, if we could I would have such an awesome collection of autographs. While he didn’t have a huge pitching career, I saw Jeremy Sowers talking to the guys guarding the doors of the clubhouse on his first day. I honestly thought he was a reporter or something given his suit. Later I heard being announced, “Making his major league debut, Jeremy Sowers.” I was like, what?! I just saw that guy! Last I heard he’s working for the Tampa Bay Rays. When he played for Cleveland, he was a personal favorite of mine. Even today, I follow a lot of players over actual teams, except the Indians. They’re my home team, so I don’t think I’ll ever stop following them. Three of my favorite players I follow right now are Clevinger, Lindor, and Bauer.

2) When did you start collecting baseball cards and why did you decide to focus on them?
I can’t really be 100% accurate here, but I think I got my first pack of baseball cards at a Kay Bee toy store. It wasn’t really a pack per se, but a box of 1989 Fleer’s Baseball’s Exciting Stars. It is a set of 44 cards that came with 6 logo stickers. I went down into my basement and grabbed that set of cards. I guess as a side note, you could say I am pretty organized. I’ve only got 24 of those cards and none of the stickers. If I REALLY wanted the set, I could pick it up on eBay for $10. In 1989 I was only six years old, so I didn’t really have favorite players. Number 25 of 44 in the set, Danny Jackson of then the Cincinnati Reds was my most prized card because as a kid, everyone called me Danny. I collected cards throughout the ’90s and only here and there during the early 2000s. Once I had to work to put gas in my car, pay car insurance and pay my cell phone bill, if I were to buy anything, it was usually a new CD.

In 2006 I got a job working for the Indians. It was still Jacobs Field at that time. I worked in various team shops and began collecting again. I started collecting everything from cards, bobbleheads, apparel and really anything you can think of that was Cleveland Indians related. This was the only season I worked at the ballpark and sadly it wasn’t a great one. They “almost” made the playoffs but almost doesn’t get you anywhere. At one point, I stopped buying packs and only bought what I wanted. Nowadays I do the same, but I also buy packs just because of how much fun it is to see what you get. That being said, it’s also a bummer getting a pack full of duds. Now that I’m creating my own cards, both illustrative and hand-crafted, it makes me even more excited to go on a hunt for cards either in a store or seeing what other artists are doing online. I’m also really curious to see how Triston McKenzie progresses. I guess I have a thing for pitchers.

 

3) What is Sixty-First Street and what is the inspiration behind it?
It’s a pretty simple story where the name of Sixty-First Street comes from. I grew up in Cleveland on West 61. I honestly had the best days of my life on that street. It was where I spent my childhood. Most of my best memories come from that street. It’s where I made my first friends, learned to ride a bike, and where I played baseball and street hockey. I could honestly write a book about living on that street, but I know this interview isn’t about my life story! You might be wondering what Sixty-First Street is exactly. I started it as a creative outlet. Professionally, I’m a graphic designer. I love my job. I work at Kent State University where NFL players Julian Edelman, Josh Cribbs, Antonio Gates, and Jack Lambert hail from. Sadly, it’s also where the famous Kent State shootings took place on May 4 of 1970.

While I love my job, I needed a way to show MY art. It started off with me selling vectorized images of Cleveland and Pop Culture related illustrations, which can still be found on Etsy. I then started participating in art gallery shows, so while I still worked on my vector series, I also began painting again. Later I started experimenting with more mediums. When I picked up an iPad Pro that is basically when things really started to change for me. I would dabble with the Procreate app for a while, but one day I was sitting down watching Self Made on Netflix. It’s a movie about Madam C.J. Walker. For whatever reason, that night I thought I would try to illustrate one of her vintage products. After that, I started illustrating other packaging designs. I jumped from that to baseball. I did a set of AL and NL Stars of the 1990s. I know that I’m rambling on from what question was asked, but it kind of tells how my creative outlet went from creating illustrations on my computer to creating baseball art. It’s kind of funny how things progress. But really, that’s what Sixty-First Street is. It’s a creative outlet/brand that came from the street I grew up on. I’ve been loving every minute of watching it progress to where it is today.

 

4) You are showcasing a piece titled, “The Curse of Rocky Colavito” at the Phone Gallery in Cleveland. Talk a bit about that.

There’s this little gallery in Cleveland and I mean LITTLE. It’s actually an empty phone booth located in a really cool part of Cleveland. Right down the road is The Beachland Ballroom; a music venue where I’ve seen some really awesome acts such as Brian Fallon, The Dead Boys, The Mowgli’s, and a bunch of others. Anyways, this gallery is super cool. Being such a small space, you really need to create your artwork to fit the booth.

Played one season for the Athletics in 1964, hitting 34 taters and making the All-Star team.

The actual “curse” of Rocky Colavito goes back to 1960. It was said that because the Indians traded  Colavito to the Detroit Tigers for Harvey Kuenn, that they would be prevented from winning the World Series, reach the postseason or even get into the pennant race. Colavito denies ever placing such a curse on the team. (A little side note: it was also said that when the Indians fired their manager, Bobby Bragan back in 1958, he walked out on the pitcher’s mound and placed his own curse on the team, saying they would never win another pennant. He of course denies this too.) I’m not exactly superstitious; at least to the extent that a person can put a curse on a team like that, but the stories are definitely fun to read. I’m creating this piece based on the idea that Colavito really did place a curse on the team. The piece isn’t completed, but besides an illustrated piece of Rocky, it will be displayed in a custom black frame where I’ll make it a bit more ornate with things such as skulls and other odds and ends. It’s one of those things that I can see how it will look in my head, but it’s really hard to explain. I’m also thinking of paying an homage to Bragan by placing a small illustration of him in the background, spitting on the pitcher’s mound, or something like that. In no way do I mean any disrespect to Mr. Colavito or Harvey Kuenn. I’m doing this piece for fun and just as a representation of stories told of the curse. My mom used to go to games at the old Municipal Stadium. She and her friends would wait for him after the games to get an autograph or just say hello. She only had positive things to say about him, so Mr. Colavito, if you’re reading this, no disrespect and you’re a huge inspiration!

Chief Wahoo is now dead.

5) Where did you watch Game 7 of the 2016 WS and how did you deal with the pain without jumping off a cliff?
Don’t even get me started. My wife and I had standing room tickets for that game, and we got there early and took a spot at the Home Run Porch in left field. Before this game began, I honestly prayed for the series to tie, just so we could attend a World Series game. It was an experience I will never forget and probably the best ball game that I will ever attend–that is unless I get to attend the game when Cleveland actually wins the series. Let me tell you, we stood there through it all. We took turns getting beers and were absolutely surrounded by Cubs fans. That night, I really began to give their fanbase respect as they were totally cool. At least the people around us. Ok, that’s not 100% true. There was this guy in front of us who was “that guy.” EVERY and I mean EVERY time the Cubs did something worth noting, he turned his head to the side, slowly smiled, and slow-clapped while nodding his head. At certain times my fandom was taking over and I REALLY wanted to knock him out on more than one occasion. There was a point when Cleveland (in my opinion) was NO DOUBT going to win the game and then you know what happened next? Yep, the rain started. When the game started back up, I felt the momentum was gone. Long story short, we know what happened…the Cubs won. The jackass in front of us did his thing, but while I had anger in me, I just watched him walk away. The couple next to us who were Cubs fans wished us well and I wished them a safe trip back to Chicago. We stood there for what seemed like hours. I watched the Cubs celebrate on the field and I tried looking for Bill Murray, who I knew was in the crowd. I never did see him.

Well, it was time to go. This part hurt almost as much as losing the game itself. We stopped in the team shop and you know what was to the right of us? TONS of sealed boxes of what would have been our World Series Championship apparel. Trust me, I had plenty of cash put aside to buy whatever they had. Instead, we walked out of the ballpark and called an Uber. $100 to take us 2 miles!? Yeah, right…We walked back to our car in Tremont. As we walked over the Bob Hope Memorial Bridge it started pouring. How did I deal with not jumping off that bridge? While not the cliff you mentioned in your question, I’ve got to say, being at such a game is something I will never forget, and you know what? The night wasn’t even over and I was already okay with it being the Cubs who beat us. I know, I shouldn’t even admit it, but trust me! I didn’t WANT them to win, but they seriously went 108 years without winning a championship. Plus, I’m a diehard Cleveland fan. I grew up less than ten minutes from downtown, so being a Cleveland fan, you’re used to upsets. I just know that if it happens in my lifetime or my son’s lifetime–one of these days–Cleveland is going to have its moment.

 

6) Is Albert (Joey) Belle a bonafide asshole or just misunderstood?
Oh man, this is a tough question. As a kid, Belle was a favorite player of mine. He averaged close to 40 home runs and over 100 RBIs a season from the early 90s until 2000. I’m not sure you can really say he was just misunderstood. From everything I read about him, he leans more towards being a bonafide asshole. I’ll never forget the game he lifted his bicep and pointed to it. I’m pretty sure I still have the newspaper that says something along the lines of, “Here’s the cork!”. He obviously had a bad temper, “probably” used corked bats, but I also get not wanting to talk to the media. Some people just aren’t into that type of thing. Could he have dealt with it a bit better? I would have to say most definitely, but unless I’m in his shoes, I can’t really speak for him. We’ve all got our own demons we deal with. I’ll let the writers and reporters write about “Mr. Freeze.”

 

The Asterisks may have the can, but the A’s prove to be the garbage

“Baseball is visceral, tragic, and absurd with only fleeting moments of happiness; it may be the best representation of life.” –Adrian Cardenas

Sorry, baseball world. It was up to this ball-club to exact some sort of small revenge for the inadequacies against the universe and they failed. This was a demoralizing series, as the swingin’ dick Asterisks, in a perpetual climate of contradiction, proved that cheating without repercussion or self-reproach is the new American way of life. This approach is celebrated in the White House (and politics in general) and has trickled down into the muck of the baseball world as the catalysts bounce back and forth from “powerful” to “victim” at the drop of a hat or whenever it is convenient to benefit from said situation. When did we become a bunch of cowards? Even as a child I knew that when I did something terrible I felt remorse without trying to rub it in the victim’s face. That basic and humanistic concept is way over the heads of these “men.”

Am I being dramatic here? In the end, despite the unmitigated disaster, my friend (who doesn’t give a toss about baseball) and I toddled down to the local art museum after the game, (don’t judge, we wore masks and the tickets were very limited) and afterward, in the suburban slob tradition, we scarfed a bunch of fast food, coddled in blankets while embracing auteur status of gory B-grade camp/crap horror movies. (Only because there were no more Cobra Kai episodes after binge-watching the shit out of the first 2 seasons) Very sophisticated stuff. This led me to forget about millionaires prancing around in pajamas and playing with balls. Embracing the important things in life. And we all need that in these trying times of pandemics, assholes, liars, cheaters, and pricks that surround us every day lacking any sort of compassion, justice, or truth that ultimately corrupts their blackened hearts.

The Asterisks won this series fair and square and undoubtedly have a powerful lineup, but in the playoffs pitching is always the Prom Queen and they have a noticeable lack of it. (So did the A’s but that is another story) How good is this team? Perhaps they stumbled upon a “playoff hot streak” à la the 2019 Nationals. Ahh, except that team had– you guessed it–pitching. Their shit-smudge dream will inevitably end, although, regrettably not by our hands, and their classless fans will crawl back under the rocks from whence they came. Go Rays! or Yankees? (I can’t believe I actually said that) 2020 can you please burn in hell? Now if you’ll excuse me, I am off to go put my head in a cheese grater while searching for early signs of senility.

A baseball player no longer

In 2012 Adrian Cardenas was a 24-year-old Chicago Cubbie, had 11 career hits, and publicly decided to quit baseball to drape himself in more intellectual pursuits. He wrote about his decision eloquently in a piece for The New Yorker garnering admiration from some and dismay from others. “With every semester that passed, I loved school more than I loved baseball, and eventually I knew I had to choose one over the other,” Cardenas wrote. Never wavering, Adrian went on to major in philosophy and creative writing at NYU and eventually obtained a master of fine arts degree.

Although Cardenas never played in an Oakland uniform, he was a top 10 prospect at one time, and I remember watching him quite often in the summer of 2011 with the AAA Sacramento RiverCats. I stumbled across his film, El Artesano (The Artisan) a few days ago, and found it to be quite touching with dazzling cinematography and an artistic touch without pretension. In a world of disposable media, I found myself reflecting on the short film even a few days after watching it. If you have 12 minutes of time I would like to petition you to click on the link below:

https://www.shortoftheweek.com/2020/08/25/el-artesano-the-artisan/

A’s defeat Asterisks under surreal, Dali-esque sky

“People talk about escapism as if it’s a bad thing…Once you’ve escaped, once you come back, the world is not the same as when you left it. You come back to it with skills, weapons, knowledge you didn’t have before. Then you are better equipped to deal with your current reality.”–Neil Gaiman

By now everyone has heard about the tragic fires in California, which have been said to be the worst in recorded history of the state. These fires have given the sky a surrealistic orange hue, giving anyone who already had anxiety about the trials of modern-day an almost apocalyptic view on the vile calamities we now face as Americans in 2020. Our souls are in purgatory crying out for mercy…from ignorance, racism, destruction, greed, loneliness, economic uncertainties, pandemics, and a certain orange creature who leads the influx of oblivious humanity.

I thought it to be in the tradition of the Surrealist, and conjured in my mind the following Salvador Dali quote: “Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision.” These shackles were indeed broken and destroyed above the Coliseum on a tepid Wednesday night as solid objects transmogrified and clocks melted.

I needed a moment of escapism….even for three hours and change, with a few gin and tonics as my only company. One of the sponsors, strangely enough, was called Planet Orange, a Bay Area eco-friendly pest control. What in the world is happening? Announcers Glen Keiper and Dallas Braden made a comment that this would be the first MLB game played on Mars. (Or Tatooine?) In the end, the good guys defeat the Asterisks in a highly contested fistfight, 3-2 as the bats awaken from their slumber in the later innings and the ‘Stros closer brings a bucket of gasoline with him to the mound. All seems normal and exciting for the moment. All is well in the world and there is consolation, if only for a very short moment.

A simple, yet inquisitive letter to former baseball player Brian Kingman

History was unearthed for a few bucks.

Hey, dude…I bought this little pin at a garage sale, and it just happened to be attached to a ticket stub. After some research on the Baseball Almanac, you actually pitched that day! You tossed 7 innings giving up 2 earned, but unfortunately lost to Dave Steib who pitched a CG giving up only 1 in a game the A’s eventually lost 3-1. Do you have any additional information? I had apprehensions that you would remember a Monday game from the Coliseum in 1982, but I thought I’d give it a shot.

I do remember the game, but as you mentioned there was really nothing notable about the game itself, that I can recall. What I do remember about the game is that it was a scenario I was too familiar with. Dave Steib was sharp that day, and although I was pitching well enough to win most games, this wasn’t going to be one of them.

The game was played at a time when the players already knew Billy would not be returning to the A’s, but it was not public knowledge. These were the waning days of the Billy Ball Era, which was a bit of a phenomenon, but that time had now clearly passed. The game was played about a week after Billy had demolished his office. Rumors had been circulating for a few weeks that Billy wanted out of his contract with the A’s and apparently the A’s did not want to let Billy go. So Billy tore up his office, made some insulting remarks about the owners, and got what he wanted, which was a chance to manage the Yankees again. Steinbrenner had seen his success with the A’s and Billy could see from the way the 1982 season had gone that he had pretty much run his pitching staff into the ground. The future looked dim for Oakland and the grass looked much greener in New York.

I think Billy had been considering his departure from the A’s for a few months prior to the office incident. By mid-season he seemed less focused and intense than the previous years. I believe one of the symptoms of this can be seen in a game of June 23rd of the 1982 season. Billy picked a lineup out of a hat in a game we were playing against a division rival (KCR) Turns out he has done this before, but it seemed way out of character for the Billy Martin we knew. (ed note: Kingman lost that game as well, giving up 1 in 8 innings, but the terrible Oakland club managed only 4 hits and lost 1-0.) 

How did Bob Welch invade my stream of conciousness?

The most ubiquitous Welch baseball card of my childhood. I must have owned dozens of them.

If you do an impromptu internet search on Bob Welch Death, the information wave catches your surfboard and guides you to the former guitarist for Fleetwood Mac and his shocking suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot in 2012. Remember that song, Ebony Eyes? Neither do I, but apparently Bob scored a top 20 hit with it in 1978. The song is painfully repetitive, is derivative of Fleetwood Mac’s worst songs, (and that’s being generous) and could possibly cause one to scratch their eyes out…I hope I never have to hear it again. In the zeitgeist of “good” late 70’s music, this turd should stay safely sound on a piece of old vinyl relegated to grandma’s attic or the local town dump. Believe me, I’m sighing on the inside as I write this.

The death of Bob Welch, the baseball player was just as tragic, and even more so, as poor Bobby slipped on what I’m assuming to be a tile layered with condensation in his bathroom and broke his neck. The University of York Department of Physics recently hosted a presentation titled, “5 Ways the Universe Is Trying to Kill You,” and I felt that this applied to the unfortunate and freakish situation. There are typhoons, hurricanes, asteroids, cancers, plagues, nuclear meltdowns, the sun and its inevitable enveloping of the earth, and, of course…a slippery tile. They all want your existence as nil. And this is just the tip of the iceberg of proposed cataclysmic events, although I suppose everything isn’t all that terrible on this planet considering 99 percent of the places in the universe would snuff out any life instantly if it had a chance to exist at all.

I’m not even sure why Bob Welch invaded my cranium this morning as I sipped my coffee and flipped through an old Playboy from 1969 with an extended pause at the Brigitte Bardot layout. Sometimes feelings are hard to pin down, with so many subclauses and digressions. Maybe it was because I was thinking about an ex-girlfriend and how she had dropped me off at Dodger Stadium on a a perfectly lazy, brilliantly blue Los Angeles summer afternoon. Larry King pulled to the side of her car in his Mercedes and asked her if he could cut in line. (I learned later that he was in a hurry because he was throwing out the first pitch, which was just as horrible as you would expect.)

There was an “Old Timers Game” before the real contest, with the Dodgers facing the Yankees, and Bob Welch was on the mound for perhaps his final outing on a big league field with his marvelously exaggerated wind-up and leg-kick. All these memories coalesce and swirl and there is little attention to any small fragment of detail as I pull them from the blanket of obscurity: except for my questioning and confusion of Billy Crystal playing Short Stop for the Yankees that day which now seems as if it happened a lifetime ago.

A’s kick the crap out of the Asterisks and send them packing with tails between their legs

Elephants never forget.

What a perfect Sunday. I woke up early, had some coffee and went for a short walk to the little patisserie a few blocks away for some pastries. A friend and I then went to have some breakfast before checking out a legal graffiti park that had some amazing artwork. We found a can of yellow spray paint and added our own legacies to the mass of hodgepodge. “It’s getting a little hot today. Are you ready to go and watch the game?” she said. Why, yes. I was.

The retribution: It all started a few days before the Astros skulked into town on their “Revenge Tour” and former Oakland pitcher Dave Stewart said he couldn’t believe the Astros had traded Ramon Laureano to the A’s. “Thanks, cheaters,” he mocked. The Astros complained about the cardboard cutout of their mascot hanging out in a garbage can à la Oscar the Grouch which was promptly carted away by league officials. Some rascal in a plane flew above the Coliseum before the first game with a trailing banner that read: Houston Asterisks. Announcer Ray Fosse made buzzing sounds during a Jose Altuve AB which was a subtle nod to him wearing a buzzer during Game 6 of the ALCS.

Still, I wasn’t satisfied.

For his sacrifice/inevitable Manfred scapegoat suspension, Ramon Laureano will go down as a legend in the Green and Gold, and every baseball fan should thank him for some momentary, albeit small, semblance of making the baseball gods smile. Did the average fan win? Probably not, but sometimes your pride and integrity is all you have, and when a team of smug assholes try to take that away…you fight back. After the game the formerly unapologetic fake tough-guy Josh “We have nothing to apologize for” Reddick was trying to garner sympathy, saying he hoped there is not a carry-over of anger when the Asterisks play the A’s again. ‘We don’t want targets on our back as big as we already do now.” Too bad and too late. Not too smug are we now, eh, Mr. Reddick?

Am I satisfied? For the moment. And that moment ended just…about….now.