I Got 99 Problems But A Pitch Ain’t One

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Going to the new Yankee Stadium is an exercise in the megalomaniacal excesses of old money crashing head long into new money and making babies; entitled little creatures whose trust funded silver spoon was upgraded to platinum in the reboot. For a culture stuck in a perpetual hunger for all things next gen, this joint plays a peach melody.

I’m plenty fine with the new digs, really. It’s just that, as a Yankee fan of a certain age . . I adhere to the bargain basement sensibility that asks, “If it’s swimming just fine, why the harpoon?”. Of course, just like Jeopardy whiz James Holzhauer, I know the answer before the question is set into its stone foundation. Yankee Stadium Part 3 is a masterstroke of inevitability run amok. Where sports stadiums have become premium tier caviar cribs, loosing a greed-think philosophy which has turned a day at the ballgame into a Disney vacation replete with fine restaurants and overpriced everything else. Seats have become investments, patrons have become guests and season tickets have turned into catching a couple games a year, maybe.

I miss the Yankee Stadium that was replaced by this one. The history of that place alone should have placed it on the National Register of Historic Places. The names that played its stage define an epoch of sporting accomplishment. From Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio to Mantle, Jackson and Jeter. Not to mention the rivals who graced the coliseum of a golden age: Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Satchel Paige and Hank Aaron. And that’s just the first chapter.

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And oh yeah . . Knute Rockne and Vince Lombardi coached there. Joe Louis and Max Schmeling fought there. The 1958 Title Game (“The Greatest Game Ever Played”) between the Colts and Giants was played there. And Pope Paul VI and later Pope John Paul II celebrated mass there. And that’s just chapter two.

As we’ve seen, Cathedrals do fall and time is an impatient beast when it comes to change. Hell, the game has been transformed into a stat geek’s paradise; what with infield shifts that resemble pileups on the BQE and players who don’t know what a bunt looks like, and feast or famine box scores. But through it all, the game is really still as simple as a pitcher telling a little white pill what to do while a batter tries to talk it into doing something else.

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So it was that I took my son and his young bride to see the Yankees play the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday afternoon, in a battle for first place in the American League East.Β A match-up of team aces, with the Yankees sending out Masahiro Tanaka and the Rays answering with 2018 AL Cy Young award winner Blake Snell. Thing about aces, there are expectations. The crowd expects A plus cooking, so when he starts scribbling B work, the chatter can get colorful. I happen to think there’s a beauty to watching a pitcher negotiate outs from the third rail. And these two pitchers ransomed zeroes from their respective arsenals, as if devils at the wheel. Tanaka’s four seamer was flat lining and his slider called in sick and yet, he was able to muster six scoreless innings before getting hit on the shin and becoming the latest Yankee to hit the injured list, which reads like a Hemingway tally.

His counterpart, Blake Snell, has stuff that’s more wicked than a trigger happy ridge runner. And while his curve ball wasn’t fooling anyone, his Hi-Lo game kept the home team at bay; with a fastball that salted the rim and a change up that tossed them into the drink time after hopeless time.

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One of my favorite things about the game is the down time, with which a writer chisels out Longfellow, Hopper and even a little Seinfeld. I talked with my son about that magical ride of a ’96 Yankees club. And then I studied the iconic facade that wraps itself around the holler of blue seats whilst pitching a Seinfeld skit inspired by the Goombah with the Giambi t-shirt a couple rows south of us that had the kids cracking up. We figured out the Yankees Rushmore somewhere in between.

As is my baseball ritual, I honed in on the infinite ripples of a game. Like how Tanaka stops on a dime at the quarter pole of his delivery. And how Luke Voit plays first base like the most earnest of rugby players. And how Kevin Kermaier of the Rays became my Grand Master of a most favorite baseball funk, with his insane between pitch stretches and his bantering to teammates and that Tarantino howitzer of an arm.

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As is the new age custom, the bullpen took the keys a little more than halfway through and outside of a few hiccups, they made it into extra innings after a Gio Urshela drive to deep right died two feet short of a walk off home run celebration for the Bombers. In Kermaier’s mitt, becauseΒ of course. And then Austin Meadows of the Rays tore a moon beam into those same right field seats two innings later to give the visitors the lead for good.

The 2-1 win gave the Rays temporary possession of first place. And from the looks of it, these guys are intent on being a thorn in the sides of baseball royalty this season. Talent is the greatest equalizer, and when you have the chops to do something about it, you always got next.

Because some things never go out of style.

88 thoughts on “I Got 99 Problems But A Pitch Ain’t One

  1. B,

    You have such a gift with the pen, my friend. Your love of the game shines through in your prose. Change is hard and not always for the better.

    Glad you had a lovely time with your son and daughter-in-law.

    Q

    Liked by 2 people

    • Q,

      Yesterday was a gift from the heavens. And no, this is not hyperbole. The weather was picture postcard perfect. The conversation was bubbly and the game kept me begging for more. And then it gave it to me with free baseball.

      And no way Josie. Change sucks in the opinion of this oldish guy. But what are you gonna do but love it anyway? So that’s what I did. And it didn’t hurt nearly as badly as I imagined it might.

      I don’t know about the gift, but I love you for saying that. It’s just about kicking the thoughts out of my head and onto paper, virtually speaking.

      It was divine.

      B

      Liked by 2 people

      • I am so very happy for you! Honestly, one must grab these moments when they come.

        I know what you mean. We can resist it all we want but then, if we just accept it and enjoy what we can, we are all the better for it.

        It is a gift. The way you kick those thoughts onto paper is magical. Trust me. And if you want to wait until it is
        “hepeated” by someone like John, well, so be it. I’ll know I said it first πŸ˜‰

        Glad it was. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 2 people

        • Now you know me well enough to know I ain’t the Polaroid dude. My daughter in law took the pics and sent them to me. The rest was just how the day swam through my head. Which is better than the voices in my head.

          I’m not nearly as romantic as my words. Which is why I needs to keep making them. It’s how tortured artists work, I’m guessing.

          I trust you. And appreciate it, muchly. I know John is my other groupie. You’re way better looking, but do me a favor and don’t tell him I said that? He’s a writer, and as such, insecure and in constant need of reassurance.

          Me too. πŸ™‚

          Liked by 2 people

          • Funny… I was gonna ask!! As for how the day swam through your head… love that!

            Well. Guess all you want. You may not think you are romantic as your words… oh what’s that? YOUR words.. uh huh…

            Glad to hear it and aww shucks. Stawp. I won’t say a word. I’m starting to understand that whole insecure writer thing.

            Sweet. 😘

            Liked by 3 people

          • I lost the romance before I ever had it, evidently. Which is why I write. To get it back. For the first time, LOL.

            I don’t relate to the insecurities the same way writers do, because I just don’t relate to most of the common things. But it’s all good. As long as I write, run and eat cashew nuts, LOL. Oh, and meditate.

            With some salt. As per.

            😘

            Liked by 3 people

          • Pffft.
            Well. Ya got it back (for the first time).

            I joke when I say I relate coz I don’t either. I still don’t call myself a writer so I just enjoy myself, occasionally spew out something halfway decent and keep on tryin’
            Ummm… write, run, eat cashew nuts and meditate… where’s the bourbon?

            Of course. Always some salt.

            😘

            Liked by 3 people

          • Don’t you Pffft me! LOL

            Writers shouldn’t hold it against me that I don’t relate to them. Hells, I don’t relate to anyone. Which . . wait for it . . is why I write. Ahh, the shit of it all.

            And please . . sans emoji. You’re earnest in the attempt whereas I’m a prickly prick who ain’t caring enough to try. You win.

            The bourbon is defiling my fingers as I type this up. That glorious sonofabitch.

            I was born with the salt that will bury me one day. And yes, Shakespeare wishes he’d written that line. LOL.

            I am laughing my ass off right now. Just saying.

            😘

            Liked by 3 people

          • I’ll Pfffft you all I want. πŸ˜‰

            Don’t tell me you don’t relate to anyone. I’ll have to Pffft you again. And, say what you will, I just enjoy your writing, k?

            Fuggetabout that whole thing. I write I don’t even know why. To pretend to be somebody else.

            Funny you should say that, I bought a small bottle of Knob Creek to try…which I am doing as we speak.

            I can just hear you giggle.

            😘

            Liked by 2 people

          • Hey!

            Pfft was NOT born in Canada? Okay? Michael J was maybe born there and Charlie Sheen, well . . definitely.

            Hey, my brain is an abundance of absurd thoughts marinating with more insane thoughts. I get to be the FCC in the translation. It gives me something important to do!

            It’s why writers write in general, isn’t it? And why actors act. And why politicians politic?

            Knob Creek speaks to you softly, but don’t trust it’s paws.

            I giggle?

            😘

            Liked by 2 people

          • Yeah?

            Pffft may have been born in Canada, along with me and Michael J. and definitely NOT Charlie Sheet.

            Your brain is a five-ring circus that only you can translate so beautifully. Just keep on keeping on.

            I guess. I don’t know. I know some feel the absolute need to write. Not quite sure where I stand on the issue.

            Does it? I’ll let ya know. I don’t think I can trust bourbon in general.

            Giggle? – big time!

            😘

            Liked by 2 people

          • Charlie Sheen is the brother of Pamela Anderson and the son of Richard Nixon. Who is also a Canadian. Where do you think Charlie and Pam got their love of tapes from?

            My brain exhausts me sometimes. But it’s keeping to the on button.

            I don’t know what would happen if I stopped writing altogether. I would probably grow an out of control beard, build a cabin in the woods and just meditate all day long.

            Bourbon is not to be trusted. It’s one of it’s best attributes.

            If you say so, πŸ˜‰
            😘

            Liked by 2 people

          • Buahaha! K… the Bourbon has taken over so I shall have to let this nonsense go…

            I’m sure it does.

            Oh. No. Please, please, PLEASE don’t stop writing.

            It is not. I have discovered this fact. My tongue goes numb after half my glass…

            I do say so… giggle and I don’t know what to call it but I have it in my memory banks.

            😘

            Liked by 2 people

          • You do that. I will consider this a win for the US of Absolut voda.

            Haha!

            If it happens, that means I don’t have a signal.

            That IS what she said, folks.

            Thank goodness just your memory banks and not YouTube. πŸ˜‰

            😘

            Liked by 2 people

          • Are you quoting Sheryl Crow now? Because she is American. You do know that, right?

            Sans signal is like sans ice cream. Okay, that’s not a good comparison since I can do without ice cream.

            Yes, and jes.

            Ayt-E then!

            😘

            Liked by 2 people

          • If it maaakes you happy
            It can’t be that baaaad
            Yeah, she’s yours. You can keep her.

            Seriously. Where the hell do you come up with such an inane comparison?

            Si and si.

            Brava.

            😘

            Liked by 2 people

          • That’s cold. And here you Canadians dress yourselves up as being so nice-like ;).

            I already forgot the comparison I made. Too many hits to the head.

            And Bravo.

            Both.

            😘

            Liked by 2 people

          • Not cold. Generous. We can’t take all the good ones. We’ll leave you a few.

            He he he… let’s just leave it at that, then.

            You’re adorable, yanno that?

            😘

            Liked by 2 people

  2. What a wonderful tribute to the game. Its history, its pace, its characters. And quite a few wonderful turns of a phrase here and there.

    Candlestick Park was where I grew up as a baseball fan. It’s where so much history rests for me as a miserable fan of the miserable Giants of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. It will always be a tragedy for me that the place is no more. PacBell Park, which became AT & T Park, which became Oracle Park most recently, is a beautiful place to watch a game. And you can look out at McCovey Cove and at the bay and watch the sail boats and at the Bay Bridge and everything else beyond the fence. But … it’s supposed to be about the baseball, isn’t it?

    “One of my favorite things about the game is the down time” Yes. YES! This is the thing about seeing a game at the ol’ stadium. It’s a conversation, not a race. Sigh … maybe I need to go see a Giants game this year after all.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mark,

      From one baseball fan to another, thank you for that.

      I know what you mean. I loved watching your Giants teams win it all in those even years- from 2010, 12 to 14. Classic team, with equal parts home grown and store bought talent. One of my favorite World Series performances of all time was the Mad Bum World Series, where he locked down the Royals lineup.

      As for the ballparks, hells yes I agree. Ballparks stopped meaning the same thing once they became three dimensional cable TV. The Orioles used to play in a park that was neighborhood. You literally walked through neighborhoods to get to the game. It was Baltimore, flush. And while Camden Yards is an Instagram perfecto, it’s not Memorial Stadium. And it doesn’t hold the same advantage. At all.

      Shea Stadium was a shit hole, yes. But man, the Mets never felt as right as when they were playing inside those walls.

      And on and on. From ballpark to ballpark, city to city, story to story. Like that.

      The conversation, yes. How can you NOT love that?

      Liked by 2 people

    • I will give you the exterior, which is Ebbetts Field 2K. But as much as I love your Mets (I blame it on my grandfather), I can’t agree with your overall assessment.
      And wait. You went to see a Pinstripe Bowl game? Who was playing?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I like the low squat ness of citi….I like that there’s a good angle and vantage point of the field no matter where you are. I also think the food is better…ok embarrassing to admit, I went to this years pinstripe bowl and I don’t remember who played. My daughter was named a pinstripe /new era mvp scholar athlete for manhattan and was invited to the game. It was cold though this year so w3 only stayed for first half

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great title and as others have said, words. I saw the Texas Rangers as a kid, before the BS new stadium, and even listened to them and mid-late 70’s rock with an olive green transistor radio under my head (and pillow when mom walked in, though she knew). Found it in a box, I still have it.

    Used to play but summer vacations with the grandparents in Vegas squelched that. Knew a guy named Jimmie Porter who played in the Negro Leagues and hung out at a park now named for him in suburban Dallas. Bit I lost interest when Buddy Bell hit a three run Homer and the ball landed in my seat…empty because I was out getting nachos. I was too young and impatient and didn’t really get the poetry of the game. Soccer was my game, so I’m more of a World Cup guy (but not in between) and Tour de France watcher, save for a few years when the Uniballer broke our Austin hearts. We knew deep down he wasn’t super an, but wanted to believe.

    Recently I saw the SXSW sigball game and it took me.back. I cried at Field of Dreams since my dad wasn’t around to play catch anymore after the divorce. I read Shoeless Joe’s, too. There is a mystical magic to the game. Maybe more so in the minors or college.

    Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you… Coo coo cachoo, indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dude,

      There was nothing like that transistor radio. The way it painted you a picture of the game was akin to alchemy.

      Love those memories.

      Hey, you and your dad would’ve had a kick ass game of catch, and I envy you that, I guess. Because my dad and me played catch a couple times before I quit. Forgettable.

      I wonder how Joe D would take the current game?

      Liked by 1 person

        • Yanno, W.P. Kinsella wrote up fathers WAY better than you and me. Just saying.

          Hey, gratis is always better than grouchy.

          I suppose so, cowboy. I suppose so . . .

          Like

          • You’re not wrong.

            I’m an old cowman, from the Rio Grande. Don’t have a cow, man!

            Seeing Mr. William Joel perform at Shea Stadium in and old special I found fer free (is this a theme? Yes?) on Roku. Good stuff.

            And Seinfeld and Hernandez reuniting (and it feels.so good) 30 years after the show left the air and made Keith a household name is priceless.

            Jimmie Porter I guess didn’t play in the NAL for long but he was a living legend in my town.

            http://sites.rootsweb.com/~txccarro/People/P/Porter_Jimmy.htm

            Like

  4. You nailed it my friend – with the way they have ruined sports to make it such an elite event – money-making endeavor- and the greed-think is a good word…
    (Oh and trust funded – needs a dash)

    Glad you were able to have fun with family – and dang – it sure was nice weather here in Va too – and good weather makes everything so much better

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Paying homage to #7 and the rest of his teammates from way back when just isn’t quite the same thing in a stadium taxpayer funded and one that sells $10 beers, does it? Even though Rockies Coors field took its architectural design from Camden Park, the upscale food and craft beer stands seems incongruent. You used to be able to go catch a game for just a few bucks, now you need a second mortgage. Like so much of current culture. 😭

    Liked by 1 person

  6. How did I miss this? I love the old time heroes, says the Queen of Cooperstown who even has The Babe’s bowling ball on display. At least they did…STRIKE!
    Have you ever read the book that the film Field of Dreams was taken from?
    Mr. Imma needs to get a copy….Shoeless Joe, by W.P Kinsella
    It’s right up there with Loiita and Huck Finn…:) Her 2 cents

    Liked by 1 person

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