I Got 99 Problems But A Pitch Ain’t One

10114_1558318092320.jpeg

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.

10123_1558318113368.jpeg

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.

10125_1558318120713.jpeg

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. 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.

10137_1558318150749.jpeg

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.

10142_1558318161622.jpeg

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, because 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.

My First Girl

This Mothers Day post is from the way back of time, but it still keeps. To all the Mamas out there . . Happy You Day.

Peace and love

I remember walking you home from school. We’d stop by the park and I’d push you on the swings. We’d fill our faces with chocolate bars so perilously close to supper, because we could. And then we’d laugh at having broken with such frivolous convention. We’d hike to the supermarket and trade knowing winks, as if we had committed high treason on the butcher with our chocolatey smiles.

I’d haul the heavy bags home as we talked about the Beatles and the travails of kindergarten. You were my first girl. Hey, I was rather mature for my age, and you needed a five year old best friend. You needed to know what it was to feel young. God knows you had so much of it stolen from you.

I’d tell you how beautiful you looked and how great you smelled. Compliment your shoes. Hold the door. We’d make dinner. Dad, absent; the hours with him were dissolving as work took him away from us more and more. So it was you and me. You taught me to cook. Give foot rubs. Dance. All the essentials for a boy who was just beginning to marvel at the wonders of a girl.

I was the man of the house whenever he was away, and you made me earn it. Cause a Catholic girl always does. I loved the time we spent alone, because it gave me the chance to steal that amazing laugh you possessed. I wish dad would’ve warned me about that laugh. To this day, a woman’s laugh holds a most deliciously intoxicating mystery for me. Yours was childhood, the one you never got to unwrap because you were too busy growing up, too soon. I knew enough to know too much. It’s why I beckoned that laugh whenever I could. To summon the little girl away from the primitive conclusions of this world for a little while.

Thank you for teaching me how to throw a baseball . . . how to set a table . . . how to love a woman . . . thank you for that silent conversation we shared when you came to visit me in the hospital, a conversation I might never match with spoken word if I live to 100. Thank you for the advice you would impart whenever I went searching for the answers to a woman’s heart, like the time you told me “If it was that easy to figure out a woman, there’d be no need for alcohol.”

My little girl has a middle name that comes from you, but that’s not all she carries of you. She carries your sense of humor, your honesty, your grace. And my son has your persistence and that wholesome sense of purpose that makes him my twelve year old role model.

Because of you, I spend a small fortune on Mothers Day cards. I have my own personal “Mothers Club”, and you are the reason why I lean on them so hard and love them so completely. Because of you.

You taught me that life isn’t about having all the answers. Not when comfortable shoes are so much more important.

There is a thank you in every conversation we share. But here’s one for the hell of it.

John the Baptist

The memories are sketchy. I was maybe seven years old and the teachers had arranged an Easter egg hunt for the class. We filed down the stairs to the yard in the back of the school, lined up against a wall that was bleeding paint chips. The structural integrity of the school left a lot to be desired. It was decades removed from any kind of worthwhile maintenance. The yards however, they were quite lovely from what I remember. We were told it was because the yard was tended to by local parishioners of the church that bordered us, not that we really cared.

All that mattered were the monkey bars, the swings and the see saw which sat in a lonely corner of the yard, away from the plush gardens; almost as if an afterthought in spite of the utility of recess.

The only part of the hunt I remember was finding an Easter egg tucked at the base of a tree. I pretended I didn’t see it, in spite of the bright infusion it threw inside the pale dirt. I was waiting for Patty, who in spite of my best judgment, had become my school girlfriend. Truth be told, outside of the thunder claps of blonde hair that sprouted from her pigtails, we shared no kismet. She thought me a ‘bad boy’ for cursing all the time, and I found it repugnant that she couldn’t do a better job of wiping her nose. Yet somehow, we had forged a strange alliance. We looked out for each other, as if we knew there were struggles we had endured far beyond the walls of a school.

So when I found that Easter egg nestled inside the veins of a big old tree, I waited for her. She hadn’t found an egg to that point, and I felt badly for my gal pal. I remember just standing guard, waiting for her to arrive when a teacher came up to me, bent down and picked up the egg and said something to the effect of,

“Oh for God’s sakes! It’s right here!”

I don’t remember the teacher, but I do remember hating her for killing my moment. And I remember carrying that hate with me for the rest of the day. The world was full of adults who wanted to steal your dreams before they got started.

After school, I was ushered back to the yard with the other kids whose parents schedules conflicted with the end of the school day. For the span of an hour or more, we would entertain ourselves with war games and marbles and school gossip.

Me? I usually just wanted to run, until I got to anywhere else. This entailed scaling a tall, chain link fence that surrounded the yard. After which one of the Baptist kids who volunteered to watch us would have to give chase. My legs were filled with rocket fuel on this particular day, and if memory serves me right, I made it a couple city blocks before being caught.

The kid’s name was John. A tall and lanky, clean cut high school student who never lost his cool. No matter how hard I tried. He must’ve chased me down dozens of times, and never once did he utter a bad word or flash me a disjointed look. He would simply walk me back to the school yard, every single time.

There we were, sitting in exhausted heaps on the cool concrete sidewalk, not saying a word to each other; simply trying to get back to even before returning to the yard. I was a kid who hated adults and Jesus and anything that ever tried to tell me the what’s what, but try as I might? I couldn’t hate John. We walked back to the school in silence as I tried to find a reason to believe in the world.

It was years before I realized I’d already found one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Zen of Katharine Hepburn, Dragons and Tigers and Canada’s Best

I was watching Bringing Up Baby earlier today and thinking to myself that Katharine Hepburn possessed the rare ability to play opposite any leading man. No matter how aloof (Cary Grant), scene stealing (Jimmy Stewart) intense (Bogart) or intimidating (Spencer Tracy) the personality, Kate made ’em look like pups once the director yelled ‘Action!’ and the match got lit.

For some . . it be that way.

It got me thinking about how damned comfortable some people can be in their own skin, while others spend a lifetime searching for that precious real estate. We’re adaptations whose chapters are constantly being written and re-written. Here on solid ground, we’re graded on the shit. But I like to think the cosmic plan is a tad bit more understanding. As I watched her nail the landing in scene after scene, chasing her pet leopard as well as the man of her dreams, it felt as if Kate and the Universe were on a first name basis. Handling her lines the way Ted Williams used to hug a curve ball. Smiling in a way that made you wish you were the reason for it. As if the secret to life truly was black and white.

Those thoughts of mine begat more thoughts . . .

  • Like, I plum forgot what last season’s Game of Thrones was all about, so it was a good thing I watched the two minute catch-up before tonight’s season premiere.
  • It was an ayt first inning, with plenty of table setting shit happening. And even still, I was literally gawking as I watched the first few minutes with the gang all there. It was like a class re-union, if my class was full of really cool ass kids whose drug of choice was Valyrian steel.
  • The best part is, I didn’t even need my special edition Oreos to enjoy it.

GOT Oreos

  • Just a couple, three fingers of Knob Creek and cold Sams on demand.
  • Oh . . what? Like you don’t treat a season premiere as if it’s a sporting event too? Puhleeze!

Sansa Stark: What do dragons eat anyway? 

Daenerys Targaryen: Whatever they want . . .

  • Yup . . they still got it.
  • Hey, Tiger won a major for the first time since Trump was bossing around interns and not an entire country.
  • I don’t watch much golf, but when my son texted me that Tiger had won the Masters, my official reply was Holy fucking shit!! I missed it??? I mean, I behaved as if I had a set of golf clubs. Imagine that.
  • Oh, and do yourself a favor? Don’t be like me and go chasing Gypsy Blanchard documentaries with Chris Watts documentaries on YouTube. Lest you find yourself watching Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem at one o’clock in the morning whilst taking communion with an Italian sub. I do not recommend it . . .
  • Of course, that YouTube spell also introduced me to Billie Eilish, whose wicked hatchet of a voice sings songs of death. Gloriously.
  • And Pluto TV should be called Satan Woo. Which is my way of saying I likey.
  • Every time I see someone vaping, I feel as if I should tell them to donate their lungs while they still got ’em.
  • So the lesson for all the kids out there is to stay in school, and if you’re gonna smoke . . go with nicotine. At least you know how that’s going to work on your insides.
  • I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t know that vines were a big deal until they were no longer a big deal.
  • I had a sausage McGriddle sammy for breakfast last week, and as far as best inventions of all time go . . it’s right up there with the wheel and the light bulb in my book.
  • As you can probably tell, I’m not a tough grader.
  • My new running playlist includes Grandmaster Flash, Salt ‘N Pepa, Public Enemy, Queen Latifah, the Sugarhill Gang, N.W.A, Dr. Dre, and MC Lyte. Its like I’m pumping morphine into my dogs whilst French kissing a turbine. Chill fixed, plunge ready . . coo.

And last but most certainly not least, is a shout out to my blog pal Dale Rogerson over at A Dalectable Life. I call her Q, and she calls me all sorts of names. But I leave her to that, because she’s usually spot on in the doing. And while she doesn’t have maple syrup running through her veins- that’s an urban legend- she is still plenty sweet. And totally real.

She happens to think Les Habitants will one day rule the hockey world again (I hope she’s right), and that George Ezra can sing the daylights out of a full moon and that every kitchen has a soul and that the Universe believes in her, most days. Which gives me a leg up on the great big forever, because I believe in her . . like, all the time.

Today marks the birthday of our Queen to the North. Who celebrates her life, one cup of Joe at a time. With a smile that lingers, and a laugh that prospers and a heart that beats to a rhythm that is contagious and true.

Here’s to Canada.

What’s In A Name?

I am Michonne.

I know, it ain’t the level of bad ass Poe when compared to the likes of Negan or Alpha. But I took a Walking Dead quiz in the hopes I wasn’t found to be their kind of Poe-try in motion. Because let’s face it, once you get past the rock a bye cool shit sounding fascination of saying I am Negan, all that’s left is a frustrated ballplayer who also happens to be a sociopath with PTSD.

Negan has tremendous value as a character, even if Maggie and the gang would beg to differ. It took Angela Kang to flesh out- pun intended- the complicated layers. Here’s a guy who doesn’t flinch when it comes to turning people into mashed potatoes with a baseball bat. And here’s the same guy who goes out into a blizzard to save the little girl of his arch-nemesis. I for one am glad we get both sides of Negan . . . now, and for whatever time he has left. But I’m also a little bit glad I’m not him, from here.

Alpha, on the other hand . . is more evil than an insider trader with a getaway villa. And her backstory tells us she didn’t need no zombie apocalypse in order to become this bitch on wheels. She was already there. She’s more hell bent on fucking people’s shit up than a frustrated Seventh Day Adventist in a shit marriage living in a double wide. The post apocalyptic Alpha harbors not a wit or a wiggle of difference from her previous existence as a serial killer in hiding. She ain’t ever cared. Which makes her the most frightening WD villain yet.

As for these personality quizzes that foretell your apocalyptic self, let’s face it, they’re only collecting intel on a control basis. Because you cannot possibly predict what kind of individual you will morph into once Kraft mac and cheese becomes five star cuisine and prescription drugs replace dead presidents as ching. I relate to Negan in lots of ways- from the leather getup to finding wit in the macabre. And the idea that I might fill out into a sadistic fucker if humanity’s thermostat goes on the blink? I can’t say I would, because I just can’t say.

As for the character quiz I took, I’m Michonne. Which makes total sense from where I am standing presently.

I’m loyal, I keep to a very tight circle and I will cut you loose quicker than Liz Taylor if I feel like you’re messing with the rug that centers my room (Big Lebowski reference). I don’t care what your opinion of me happens to be, until you add dimension to it. After which, we can throw down and I’m sorry, not sorry about that.

My previous iterations were unconventional and yet, there was an abidance to those staples (relatively speaking) just the same. Not anymore. And I dig the fact we can change in such a piecemeal metaphysical fashion as that. Wearing so much more than the one person we were born into. And I dig the idea that we Zen with the one personality, eventually. If we’re lucky.

And if we’re really lucky, we might be good at the one that matters most of all when push finally comes to shove. Because as far as names go?

I like Michonne just fine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chasing Rushmore: Women’s Edition!

So me and Q were having a beer debate on favorite all time female comedians, and it was feeling every bit the same way as when you go shopping at Target. Yanno . . . you go in for a travel sized toiletries bag and some condoms, and you walk out with a High Def TV, a six month supply of cheesecake bites and Joanna Gaines’s cell number? You know exactly what I’m talking about . . unless you were born yesterday. In Canada.

The debate as per the funniest female on the planet runs longer than a red carpet show on the planet Venus. And truth be told, I’ve always been a fool for the the double X chromosome way of doing funny business. There is nothing quite like a dame who can steal the keys to your smile. And the double down comes when she cashes in your smile for a laugh that hurtles the planet Mars.

If you were wondering what a ‘beer debate’ is all about . . it’s really quite simple. Drink beers whilst texting a favorite comrade, and then throw a fun and sexy debate into the mix. I assure you, it beats the hell out of most any other debate you’re ever gonna involve yourself in.

So we debated our Mount Rushmore of female comedians as I was venturing into the first couple minutes of The Long, Long Trailer on TCM, with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. If you’ve never seen it, get to stepping . . like right now. Because it’s an hour and forty three minutes worth of the most wonderful science experiment known to humankind. These two kids from different sides of a ninety mile train track worth of oceans, they were a brilliant complication whose arrangement nested into our hearts and stayed put.

So Lucille Ball is my George Washington of a Mount Rushmore arrangement of female comedians. Q had no problema with that assessment. What’s not to love? Lucy was sexy and beautiful with comedic timing that could have talked Dante Alighieri into writing the best Goddamn sitcom ever.

So from those heights, we chiseled out some more of this rock of funny sages and we came to an agreement on Carol Burnett (That was Q’s get). Burnett’s comedy skits were of an age that hasn’t even arrived here quite yet. She introduced me to the kind of drug I’ve been in the market for ever since.

We arrived at the intermezzo with one hell of a situation on our hands. Because the talent that was spilling out of our texts was akin to a garden hose inside the dog days of summer.

Next up, I went for Ellen. Because I remember some of her early stuff, before she got ABC. And lemme tell you, I would have been her groupie if that had been her thing. No questions asked. She hit me that way. Hard and sublimely. I still quiver, yeah . . it’s like that. But man, the brilliance of her stand up act was worth a mighty intoxicating platter.

So here we stood, ninety feet from home plate with a harem of laugh makers that had to be cut. Which is why you choose beer for such a debate, kids. For the hops it gifts you.

We had Joan Rivers, whose balls were mighty and whose sacred cows were always missing in action; because she spared no one and nothing, ever. And damn if that isn’t what comedy is supposed to feel like. There was Tina Fey, whose politics were so fucking smart that she made you feel as if she was swimming three olives inside a perfectly constructed martini. And so what if Amy Schumer can’t be political to save her life? She does everything else spot on, including vagina (pun intended).

Lily Tomlin is first ballot Hall of Fame, and if you go with her . . you gotta bring Bette Midler along, because she is mirror image (Big Business reference). And speaking of mirror besties, you can’t leave Vicki Lawrence out of the Carol Burnett discussion if you stayed up to watch those two light up the screen. And if you were of that certain age, you watched Betty White, Phyllis Diller and Mary Tyler Moore do the same damned bit of wonderful. And then you watched Goldie Hawn make fun of the armed services without so much as a trip to the President’s office.

And of that certain age, when Saturday night at home wasn’t a complete waste of time because of SNL . . you remember Jane Curtin and Gilda Radner. Mightily. After which Amy Poehler, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Kristin Wiig did the seats just fine.

And Whoopi did stand-up with the kind of hold you can’t teach, and then she doubled down on a cinematic career whose carom made Ghost one of the best movies. Ever. And there is Kathy Griffin, who seems a bit lost in space excepting for those NYE installments with her girlfriend Anderson (They are one of my favorite couples). But she is still all that, when she’s not beheading Trump. And speaking of women who don’t need a dude prop, Melissa McCarthy. Why she ever did that sitcom with the unfunny guy? I’ll never understand.

So me and Q debated ourselves into one last round as Lucy and Ricky gave way to Bing Crosby in Top ‘O The Morning before Q hit oil with a winner.

Wanda Sykes. Of course.

The gal throws the kind of heat that will leave you shuddering. She has worked with so many of the very biggest in the biz; from Larry David and Eddie Murphy, to Chris Rock and Homer Simpson. And her talent never played second fiddle, to any of ’em. You just can’t upstage a five alarm fire such as hers. And not for nothing, but she’s a masterful comedic writer to boot. Signed. Sealed and delivered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Morning Post

My pal Jen called me yesterday, out of the deep blue sky of forever since we last spoke. It’s been like, almost an entire calendar year and none of it mattered once we got down to giving each other shit. We somehow became solid friends in spite of ourselves.

Last fall, me and Jen engaged in some horizontal shenanigans. I blamed it on my inability to untangle myself from a married woman who chose her sides based on which social media platform she was using. Jen blamed it on the wine. We both agreed that the holidays would play our foil.

So when the gal I once played human Rubik’s Cube with dialed me up almost an entire calendar year later (Read: More than nine months hence), my mind wandered to a place no dude wants to be entertaining on a lazy Saturday. Until she hit me with the what’s what of her matter of fact.

“I’m engaged!” She coughed.

“What in the blessed fuck girl?! You? Miss . . . I’m never getting married again?”

“I changed my mind, okay? Jesus!” She laughed.

“It’s a damn shame because you were worth WAY more on the market,” I laugh. “But seriously, congratulations,”

“Yeah well . . the market is depressed,” Jen laughs back.

“So I’ve heard,”

“And get this, he totally understands dipping pizza in Nutella,”

“Oh shit, he’s retarded?”

“Fun,”

“As long as you’re both retarded, you will live happily ever after . .”

“Hey, what’s doing today? Wanna grab some coffee and I can show you the rock?”

“Hey . . yeah! Maybe we could go for manicures and chat up The Bachelor too!”

“Fuck you, seriously though. Coffee?”

“Let’s change it up a little bit. I wanna see Aquaman, so bring coffee and I’ll get the tickets,”

“Ooooooh! Jason Momoa, mama likey! Okay . . you got a deal. But they’re not gonna let us bring coffee in . .”

“First of all, you and I both know that some pimply faced ticket attendant is no match for your sweet talking ways . . and besides, not a concern if we get there early and catch up. That way we’re not being those people who chatter over the movie, yanno?”

“Those people suck,”

“Exactly . . .”

So we met up with plenty of time to spare. Jen gifted me a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup hot chocolate, which is way more sinfully stupid than it sounds. After she showed me the ‘rock’, we got down to the business of giving each other shit.

I asked her if Ryan has any kids, and she said he has one son from his previous marriage. “But he’s fifteen, which is kind of a big deal for me since every time I hear some bratty six year old throwing a tantrum in public, I think there’s no way . . .” Jen said.

“That’s very mature. I usually just think that dad’s penis was evil and mom’s vagina was broken,”

“I am at peace with being a selfish bitch,”

“You know what I’m at peace with? The idea of a meteor crashing down to earth while the world is sleeping,”

“Well more than half the world would not be sleeping, and it would be kind of horrible . .” Jen said.

“Yes, and I am at peace with the idea that I would be on the sleeping side of the planet when it happened,” I said.

“I would want to be awake, and at a Dave Matthews concert or something,” Jen said.

“Oh my fucking God,”

“Why do you hate Dave Matthews?”

“I don’t. Because to hate infers an emotional investment, and I don’t invest myself in pretentious monkeys who believe their lyrics should be amended into the ten commandments,”

“Nope, no hate at all . .”

Jen’s phone chimes and it’s Ryan. She puts it on speaker so that introductions can be made in the new old fashioned way. The dude sounds just like a movie star, and Jen’s eyes light up when he speaks.

“My man, first of all . . . condolences. I would like to tell you things will get better but I’m a horrible liar . . .” I say.

The two of them crack up in unison, like little kids who share a secret no one else in the world is privy to. Jen’s face scrunches up and when it irons itself out I can see the little girl she used to be. The one who believed in fairy tales and princes and happy endings. And inside this wonderful moment, flowers are blooming in the middle of winter and the world is making sense. I am smitten with these two, and it turns me into a ball of mush and it steals my snarky retorts.

I hate when that happens.