Friday, September 11, 2009
Congrats to the truest gentleman to ever play the game. Thanks for giving me years of enjoyment in my little world that is 1500 miles away from all your fans. You always played the game the right way, and set an incredible example for everyone around you. You're the best...
...and I kinda secretly need to ask you a favor. Can you throw all that nice guy shit out the window for me for just 2 seconds and kick Stockton in the balls for me? I hate that guy...
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Things I learned on my summer vacation.
1) Salem pretty much rules. This bookstore (pictured above) and Harrison's comic shop are pretty much the coolest two stores ever. You pay for your books at this bookstore through a six inch break between books that are piled ten feet high. You actually can't see the entire face of the person ringing you up. Part creepy, part complete nerd-cool. And Harrison's comic shop could easily kill four hours of my day at least once a week. And that lady in the picture above? She pretty much rules too.
2) The Red Sox are really boring this year. But they are also kinda funny too. So that makes up for it.
3) Scooter digs his naps more than he did when he was a kid. So do I, for that matter.
4) Lloyd Cole is an amazing songwriter and arranger.
5) Cracking a rib is so not fun. Don't make me laugh.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
It is only because of things like Facebook that I have any idea that this was even said. And anytime that two of my close friends have any sort of exchange it can be kind of fun. Especially when, as in this case, I was responsible for their introduction to each other. I noticed that you recently posted a response to our friend Abby's status on Facebook. Her post, I believe, was the name of a tennis player that she was cheering for. Your response was, and I quote:
Abby-you know how much I love baseball-but tennis might be THE perfect sport.
Believe it or not, I am not about to go haywire on you. Just the opposite, really.
Golf is great. I have really come to enjoy the sport. I enjoy the completely baffling notions behind it. The ball isn't moving but I only know where it's going 1 out of every 3 times I hit it. I still don't understand how people can be good enough to make the ball spin backwards etc etc. I love the outdoors in the spring, summer and fall. Spending 4 or 5 hours with just a good friend (or 2 or 3) in the green, green sun. I love the fact that you can be competitive but never really piss anyone off with it. Because you should truly only be competitive with yourself in that sport. I love stark white shoes with brown stripes. I like visors. Yes. Visors. I even enjoy watching it on TV from time to time. I hold professional golfers in the highest regard. Do you have to be an athlete to be a golfer? Not really. Athletically inclined? I suppose. But it still takes an incredible amount of dedication and practice to reach their level of expertise.
Tennis is cool. In fact, I could totally learn to love playing that game. I dig the raw elements of it. Dirt. Sweat. It's a primal workout in alot of ways. And it does take a massive amount of stamina, coordination and serious athletic ability. It's competitiveness can also be self contained more than some other sports. Most days I am sure that your biggest enemy in tennis isn't the person on the other side of the net, but more the little person in your head. And, like golf, it has stupid outfits that are fun. Headbands. All white at Wimbledon. I admittedly don't 'get' tennis like you do. But that's completely fine. I definitely give you tennis all day long. No sarcasm there. I would hope that you would give me golf for the same reason.
However. There is one reason and one reason alone that baseball is the only perfect sport. Just one reason. Hold on to your racket here.
Yes, there are funny moments in tennis and golf. John McEnroe's courtside fits. John Daley's smoke dangling from his mouth while he putts. And sometimes these guys/gals even say funny things. And in the NFL you have the brilliant comedy of people like Plaxico shooting himself in the leg and Leon Lett storing half of Cuba in his ass. The NBA, as we both know, lends itself to more funny moments than any of these aforementioned sports. Stephen Jackson and Ron Artest are the best examples. But it's truly more Porky's than it is Royal Tennenbaums. I am sure that you could tell me quite a few funny stories about the NHL (a sport that I very admittedly know next to nothing about). But there is nothing like the humor in baseball.
Sure, we all have these stories. Stories of legend and emotion and histrionics. I wept in my Father's arms when the Sox won it all in '04. And you wept in his arms the day the trophy made its way into our very own Brass Cat backyard. We have shared all of the rage, blinding anger and fury that only the Yankees can bring. We have experienced the nearly excruciating excitement when one of us stops and says The wolves are gathering...the wolves are gathering. We've endured soul pummeling losses and the simple and quick elation of the walk off home run. And of course, there's the game itself. So simple. So complex. So painfully slow. So explosively fast. Like a stand off at gun point. Serene, vast and peaceful. Loud, small and devastating. And we all know that it's the most difficult thing to do in all of sport. Having a bat, that small in circumference, hit a ball that small at a rate of speed between 65 and 100 miles an hour without knowing which speed or which way the ball will break. Being able to stab that ball without any more than a fraction of a second to react. Being able to throw that ball by one of the most skilled hitters on earth. Running the bases quickly and well. We all know that it is, quite literally, the most complicated sport there is from a mental stand point. Mickey Mantle once said "It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing all your life." And it's pitch perfect. It's the grandest of theater. Ever morphing and bizarre. Even when the teams are as boring as the '09 Red Sox, it is still the most entertaining drama on TV.
Given all of those things, the one thing that still makes baseball the perfect sport is comedy. As aforementioned, there are funny moments in other sports. But in baseball?
On the field.
Milton Bradley catching a routine flyball and then striking a pose for the crowd before he threw the ball into the stands with only two outs. Or the pitcher who just last week rolled a ball to the dugout expecting a new one from the ump who never gave him one, allowing a run to score. Who can ever forget Manny Ramirez (and if there's a comedic bible of baseball to be written, Manny would get his own section) diving to cut off a ball thrown from center? Or listening to his Ipod during an inning. Or not being able to zip his pants fast enough and barely make it out of the monster in time for the first pitch of the inning. Back to back walk off home runs by Jeff Frye and Darren Lewis. Did that really just happen? Izzy Alcantra's best Bruce Lee imitation to that AAA catcher's chest (and then what's truly lost in that footage is Izzy charging the mound and then turning to take swings at literally anyone near him. Including his own teammates). Pedro Martinez swinging a bat or flinging a Zimmer. Mark Grace, pitching relief in a blowout doing his best, hilarious imitation of the Diamondbacks then closer, Mike Fetters. Mariano Rivera at the opening day ring ceremony in 2005 received a standing ovation at Fenway and thereby solidifying himself as one of my favorite people ever when he couldn't stop laughing like a 12 year old.
Off the field.
Where to start?
Ozzie Guillen saying that the Little League World Series teams are better than his White Sox.
Tommy Lasorda's take on catcher Mike Scioscia's wheels "If he raced his pregnant wife he'd come in 3rd."
Or Leo Durocher's classic "God watches over drunks and third baseman."
One of the masters, Casey Stengal saying "The trouble is not that players have sex the night before a game. It's that they stay out all night looking for it."
Harry Caray and his glasses once said "What does a mama bear on the pill have in common with the World Series? No cubs."
The legendary Vin Scully on Andre Dawson "He has a bruised knee and is listed as day-to-day. Aren't we all?"
Dizzy Dean speaking about his head injury "The doctors x-rayed my head and found nothing."
Or reliever Lefty Gomez' worries "A lot of things run through your head when you're going in to relieve in a tight spot. One of them was, 'Should I spike myself?'"
Of all the Bill Lee gems, this one best sums him up "I think about the cosmic snowball theory. A few million years from now the sun will burn out and lose its gravitational pull. The earth will turn into a giant snowball and be hurled through space. When that happens it won't matter if I get this guy out."
Roger Craig on catcher Choo Choo Coleman's smarts "He would give you the sign, then look down to see what it was."
And my all time favorite, when Yogi Berra once failed a high school science test with the score of 23 his teacher asked him "Yogi, don't you know anything?" His response? "Sir, I don't even suspect anything."
In America, and I suspect that New England is the hub of this, there is no sport that will continually make a set of friends gathered at the local watering hole, or in a living room, laugh as continually and as hard as baseball does. Just think of the times where you and I have almost had to have stomach surgery because of this game. Just last week, King Hewsie yelling "Can't throw a curveball from your knees, bitch!" at Pena's kid warming in the bullpen. Or my Dad turning to one of several hundred people and saying "I've forgotten more about baseball than you'll ever know." Or Toonz once pontificating on Craig Grbek's DL status "I'm pretty sure that he's not hurt, I think El Guapo ate him." Levels needing an oxygen tank after laughing himself to the floor with the thought of "that old Sox reliever that looked like he had cancer every time he took the mound." Jimy (one m) Williams? Good Lord. That guy made us all laugh for 24 hours a day. Andy Sheets, Morgan Burkhart, Creighton Gubanich, Enrique Iglesias or whatever. I could write about this for 8 hours a day for a month straight and still have tons of moments that I have forgotten about.
Tennis is funny. As is golf, basketball, football, hockey and soccer. No doubt about that. And they are all really fascinating and exciting games in their uniqueness.
But baseball is fucking hilarious. And THAT is what makes it perfect.
Funniest movie ever? No question about it.
The Bad News Bears.
Love you like a brother.
Saturday, September 05, 2009
So we're off for a couple days. The Mrs. and I are disappearing for a little day and a half 2nd anniversary excursion. She doesn't know where yet. Can't wait.
I will return to writing on Tuesday. I have an idea to start writing completely fictional short stories about 6 random friends on facebook. You know how it always shows 6 random photos of your selected friends on the lower left hand corner of your page? Well, I was thinking of taking whomever that may be on any given day and write an intertwining fictional piece. If I started today, for instance, the story would contain a best friend from back in the day, a musical comrade of current times, my first girlfriend's college roommate, one of my oldest friend's Dad and two people that I don't really know much about. Could be fun. Think I'll call it "6 degrees of Facebook." Yeah, sure. That works I suppose.
Hope you all have a great holiday, and thanks so much for checking in with me!
Thursday, September 03, 2009
I was walking barefoot down the damp sidewalk outside of the old Rt. 20 home of Platterpus Records. I never walk barefoot anywhere other than in my house. And even that doesn't happen very often. I arrived only to find out that it was closed. Scooter was with me. But not on a leash. I was pleased to see that the Rite Aid was still there. I was dying for a snack. I noticed that my feet were slightly damp from the sidewalk. The sky was an ominous gray, but it wasn't raining. Still there was the overwhelming feel of wet. The kind that you can smell. Scoot and I shuffled into the fifty by fifty foot Rite Aid that only seemed to sell diapers and other plastic, sealed items that were anything but edible. There was a soft pink/yellow hue just behind the first racks of less than desirables. So I told Scoot to wait there while I checked to see if there were any food products in back. There's never actual food in places like that. Just food products. As I rounded the corner I noticed three men in doctors shawls. Facing away from me. Their heads down towards their patients. Concentrating. They each had dark hair and white robes to the knees. I could see the legs of what appeared to be very young children on all three lily white space age tables. It was as if these little legs jettisoned from the doctors stomachs like some languid version of the film Alien. The doctors were all moving very slowly. At the counter, to the left, stood two women. They were perfect looking. And by perfect I don't mean attractive. They looked like flyer models. Not Victoria Secret. More like Sears. One was handing a brochure to a man who was very shiny and also perfect looking. He was probably from the Marshalls weekly. Turns out that the back of the Rite Aid had turned into a place for body waxing for toddlers. Of course it did. Three bored mothers sat in waiting chairs flipping through magazines while their six year olds were having their bodies waxed. I was hardly surprised to see the shallowness of Hollywood making its way to Wastefield, MA. I can only assume that body waxing six year olds is more common than baptisms in LA. I told Scooter to stay inside and wait while I continued to search for food.
I was hoping like fuck that no one would wax him.
In the parking lot outside of the Rite Aid sat a twenty five foot high, bright yellow vehicle. The windshield was no more than an average length and height, but it sat at the very top of the vehicle's giant frame. The front end moved sharp and distinctly to a triangular point at the ground. It resembled an oversized Boba Fett helmet painted the most vain of yellows that I had ever seen. Even in the gray murk of the wet sky. A window opened from far above and Lesa Beso leaned out. She already knew I was about to ask for food. She simply pointed down the road towards the bridge and said
You're never going to believe what's over there. Finger pointing due East.
Really? What is it?
You'll see. She answered. I could see Henning in the passenger seat. He was reading something.
I took no more than two steps to my right and there was Miranda Brown. Her hair was shorter and kinda hip-ly greasy. And it was much darker than I had ever seen it.
I'm wicked psyched. She said without the slightest sign of being so. I am fucking starved. It was obvious to me at that point that Miranda had moved from Austin, TX to somewhere in shithole Jersey. And she had been there for quite some time.
Whoa! When did that get there? I asked Miranda.
Standing in front of us, just across the street where there used to be a Roy Rogers there was a brand new Arby's. But this was no ordinary Arby's. It was at least twice the size of your average Arby's. It was encased in ground to ceiling pillars. The entire building was painted a bland yellow/brown earth tone. The lights inside were dim. A giant, script-printed sign bearing the name of the restaurant hung alone in a deep green pool against the yellow/brown castle. A stark beam of sunlight hit the top third of the building. Wastefield's new Mecca.
I just drove by here last week to play golf with my Dad and that wasn't here. I announced to no one, really.
There was drool. I could feel it. I rolled slightly to my left and my ribs screamed at me for a second. I grazed the side of my lip with my right hand to clean the spittle from my mouth.
I was now on the top step of my parents basement. I closed the cellar door behind me and was greeted by a fake elbow punch to the stomach by JJ O'Connell. I stood for a moment, somewhat unsure.
He laughed. Oh relax! It's not that fucking bad.
I felt my whole soul relax.
C'mon. Spouse is playing up here tonight.
I followed him into an attic room in my parents house that doesn't exist. There was a round table in the middle of the room. There were three people seated at it. Jose Ayerve and a guitar. Abby Barlow. And one other woman that I can't seem to recall. I sat down at the table and took in the room. It was littered with an old rock/folk club vibe. Somewhere between Bruce Tull's old haunt on Woodmont and CBGB's. There were nameless show flyers covering the walls. Ashtrays and old beer cans covering the table. Cables and amps and guitars covering the floor. Abby and the other woman I can't recall were talking. Jose was encased in a lucite tee-pee. It was half Boy-in-the-bubble and half Cindy Crawford Designs presents See-Through-Bed-Sheets. He began to play an announced "new song." I looked away from him for a moment to find that Abby was gone, but there were several photos of her still on the table. A framed 5x7. A couple of cut out high school photos and some old Hospital news clippings. Peter Davies was now talking with the woman I can't recall. He was showing her pictures of Abby. He had one of them that he had ripped and placed around his left ear like we used to do with 45's when we were kids.
Everyone starting singing along with Jose and his new song. Jose seemed to be donning a tattoo on his left arm that was barely visible due to the tacky white silk shirt he was wearing. And it was hard to see things too clearly from the outside of his Cindy Crawford/Boy-in-the-bubble cave. The song was so lucid. So deeply arranged and produced. There were several more instruments audible but oddly there was only the one guitar. The song itself was pretty bad. I remember wondering if this might be the first time I had heard Jose write a bad song. He kept singing the same refrain over and over again.
Release me...release me...release me...
More drool. From the other side this time. Jen is up. Maybe I should get up too. And maybe I should remember to dream more often.