Tag Archives: baseball

When Your Fake Teams do Better Than Your Real One

The regular season is over, and so is the World Series. As an Oakland Athletics fan, my season was over earlier than the final week of the regular season. And being an A’s fan means losing talented players to Free Agency about every two or three seasons. Then, without the money to buy or keep the talent, the team drops in the standings and doesn’t make it past September.

So I wasn’t surprised that the A’s winning percentage was .370 at the season’s end was the worst in the American League and the second-worst in all of the majors (the Washington Nationals finished with a .340 PCT). John J. Fisher had a fire sale that gutted the team of nearly all of its talent. When the season started, the only noteworthy players were: starters Frankie Montas and Cole Irwin, utility players Elvis Andrus and Tony Kemp; and catcher Sean Murphy. By the end of the season, only Irwin, Kemp, and Murphy still wore the green and gold.

If you are not a baseball fan (and have hung on so far), watch Brad Pitt as the visionary Athletics GM Billy Beane in Moneyball below to get an idea of what it is like to be in the Oakland A’s organization and what it is like being a fan.

“…there are rich teams, and there are poor teams, then there’s fifty feet of crap, and then there’s us” that sums up many of my Oakland A’s teams over the years. I dread to think what the organization would be like without Billy Beane. Now with one foot out the door and in English soccer, it’s only a matter of time before Beane will be gone, and there will be no one who cares about the organization or, at least, no one who has the vision that Beane has/had. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been the GM for many years now, and the people who have taken his place seem to care less about the team than he does. Although to be fair, I’m a sycophant regarding certain people in public life.

Three of the season’s most notable moments didn’t occur on the field or with any players. One was in May at a Las Vegas Golden Knights (NHL) playoff match where Oakland Athletics President Dave Kaval sent a gushed Tweet video of the match–the seats filled to capacity. Kaval later said it was a way to let the Oakland City Council know that the A’s executives were shopping around. Naturally, this did not endear him to A’s fans, but he was already a divisive personality to many of the A’s faithful.

The second event was in July when the Oakland City Council voted 5-2 against the $12 billion Howard Terminal development that would include a $1 billion Oakland A’s ballpark. Ironically, I learned about the vote while traveling on a bus heading for a San Francisco Giants game. No, kind readers, I am not a Giants fan, but there was a major league ball game playing at Oracle Park, and my mother asked if I wanted to go. I don’t care much for the Giants or their opponent on that day, the Los Angeles Dodgers, but I couldn’t beat the company, and Oracle Park is a beautiful place to see a game. The news about the vote depressed me, though.

On the other hand, I am aware that Oakland and the greater Alameda County have many problems with the homeless and others living under the poverty line, so I can’t afford to be selfish about the vote since I don’t know any of the details. Municipal parks rub against the socialist in me: billionaire team owners demand taxpayers to foot the bill for a team they own, and they will charge a chunk of change to gain admittance into a park the local citizens are paying out of their taxes. It’s something I try not to think to dwell on. Maybe all professional teams should be like the Green Bay Packers, where the city owns the club, not some rich prick like John J. Fisher. However, if that were the case, the A’s would have to move out of Alameda County.

The last event was a reoccurring one that happened nearly every home game: the Coliseum’s poor attendance. Any A’s fan will tell you, mainly after Walter Haas sold the franchise back in 1995, that the A’s organization has struggled to fill the seats in the Coliseum, but this season is, by the numbers, the all-time worst. When I went to my only game this year, the aisle monitors with their fancy straw hats were long gone, and it was festival seating unless you wanted to sit in someone’s legitimate seat. Even some of the more devoted A’s fans were not showing up to the run-down Coliseum to watch their team of strangers lose, as noted in the New York Times’s aptly titled piece The Loneliest Team in Baseball.

One last point to make before I move on to my other two teams that fared better but still played under .500 ball. Before the A’s moved from Kanas City to Oakland in 1968, I liked the San Francisco Giants and always wanted to go to a game. My Dad didn’t want to go. He complained about how Candlestick Park (the Giants’ home) was a wind tunnel located way out near the San Francisco International airport. When the A’s came to Oakland, my Dad got excited, talking about how the shiny new Coliseum was a short drive on I-880 just past Berkeley. We started attending A’s games when I was ten and continued every season. We all liked to tease the Giant-loving kid next door by poo-pooing his team, their horrible stadium, boring radio announcer (Lon Simmons), and aging team (Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, and Gaylord Perry). The A’s were the opposite: they had one of the best boutique stadiums in baseball and an excellent radio personality. (If Lon Simmons put you to sleep announcing a McCovey grand slam, the Athletics’ Monte Moore could keep you glued to the radio as he read the local Pennysaver. Finally, the A’s lineup was the future (quite literally).

I stopped going to games with the family around 1978 when I had disposable income, a car, and friends who were into going to concerts–not sporting events. I continued following the A’s, but I rarely went to games, only checking the standings in the newspaper now and then. I knew I was out of it when–while reading my favorite Bay Area rock critic commenting on an upcoming concert at the Coliseum–he told his readers to be easy on the grass in left field, “you could be breaking Ricky Henderson’s ankle.” I had no idea who Ricky Henderson was. My father told me.

By the time I started following baseball again, my family had of them now followed the Giants. The change in allegiance rubbed me the wrong way, but I think there were logical reasons for this change. My brother, many years back, started work selling lumber, and the owners were big Giants/49ers fans. They bought season tickets and took clients to these games. I imagine he just got used to liking them.

I don’t know why my sister switched, or maybe she never was a baseball fan until she started attending spring training with her friends, who were all Giants fans. Then, some years ago, my mother told me some years ago she and my dad started going to Giants games, not because they preferred that team over the A’s but because the stadium was a lot nicer. The Giants moved from the horrible Candlestick Park to the gorgeous Oracle Park. Like most MLB parks, it was called something different when it opened and had changed corporate sponsorship three more times before receiving its latest name.) I may have the sequencing off above since I am a poor family historian. As for the A’s home, the Oakland Coliseum had been slowly disintegrating along with many other problems.

I got along with my family after this divorce, though. I once came close to blowing a gasket during a family party in 2014 or 2015. San Francisco had just announced the trade of Pablo Sandoval to the Red Sox. One of the most significant subjects in my Giants-loving family that dinner was the absence of Kung Fu Panda from The Family Team. A few members acted as if someone in the family had died. I kept my mouth shut but wanted to say, “Aww, you poor babies. You lost Pablo; you lost a great player. Gee, I wonder how that feels? Wait, let’s see. Oh, that’s right, my team gets gutted every two or three years, ‘organ donors for the rich’ (to quote Brad Pitt as Billy Beane). I know exactly how that feels, times ten. So stop crying in your mashed potatoes and pass the rolls!” I was surprised the family didn’t have a Welcome Back party for Sandoval when San Francisco signed him back a couple of years later. (Then again, maybe they did, but no Oakland A’s fans were invited.)

As much as I want to bitch about my family switching their allegiance, the regular 2022 season showed I’m probably not as big of an A’s fan as my family members are Giants fans, plus my family has always closely followed baseball. I can’t say the same for myself. I attended only one A’s game, lost interest in watching the A’s on TV during the last two months of the season, and have shown little interest in the postseason. Except for the remaining players I mentioned above and a couple of others, I didn’t know any of the other players–I couldn’t tell you four of the five starters nor five or six of the top position players. On the other hand, if you asked me who’s on The South Land Park Crows and A Triple, He Hit a Triple! I could give you more information. (Even then, I didn’t consign many to memory since I could quickly look them up on their respective websites.) Of course, these are fantasy baseball teams.

I ran the two fantasy ball clubs, and they did better than my pathetic A’s. This is due to great starters like Gerrit Cole, Corbin Burnes, Walker Buehler, Shane Bieber, Joe Musgrove, and Dylan Cease, and a couple of good relief pitchers in Gregory Soto and Martin Perez. I also had some good hitters in Nate Lowe, D.J. LeMahieu, Alex Bregman, Tommy Edman, and Jurickson Profar. Too bad these are players from both my fantasy teams and not one UberTeam. You must try hard not to have a few franchise players on fantasy teams. In other words, except for a few remaining players (Sean Murphy and Tony Kemp), only a glutton for punishment would draft the 2022 Oakland Athletics on their fantasy teams. I had both of these players on different teams. The A’s catcher worked out exceptionally well for my A’s and one of my fantasy teams. In fact, as of this writing, Murphy has been named the best player on the Oakland payroll (which isn’t saying much) and a Golden Glove nominee, which is significant. Alas, in fantasy baseball, there are no metrics for defensive play: it all comes down to pitching and hitting, so excellence in fielding is not counted directly.

Joining the South Land Park Crows of The Musial Suspects fantasy league and A Triple, He Hit a Triple! from the Dead Seagulls Baseball Association were my first attempts at drafting and managing fantasy baseball teams. I used to think fantasy sports were a colossal waste of time and a little embarrassing. It reminded me of when I was at a hamburger joint and what I thought were members of a band seriously criticizing their band’s drummer. I cringed when I found out a few minutes later they were not in a band but playing Guitar Hero at someone’s house. That was lame (unless you have Heidi Klum over to play with you). Now in my 60s and retired, I thought I would find this silly activity relaxing. Instead, it was a little more time-consuming and required much more knowledge of the game than I expected.

I recommend an ESPN Fantasy league if readers are interested in dipping their toes into a fantasy sport. While I can only compare ESPN with CBS, I get the feeling that ESPN, being in the sports reporting business, offers information like real-time reporting on which one of your players is starting and when someone on your team has been placed on the Injury List (IL) or have been suspended. This makes fielding your team using the ESPN Fantasy website a breeze.

Before the regular season begins, you participate in the online draft, where you will assemble your team. You can either actively participate in the draft or select auto-draft. ESPN analysts rank the payers, and you can leave the list alone, or you can do what I did: pick twenty-five of the best starting pitchers from the National and American leagues and push them to the top of the list. Then walk away, and you will see your team when you log on the following day. Of course, you will probably have a few trade requests from fellow teams who want one or more of the pitchers you snagged.

This season I tried staying logged on and making last-second adjustments when my auto-draft was in process. Finally, I determined what I didn’t benefit from logging on during the draft. So next season, I’ll return to what I did the first season: set it and forget it. Either way, my South Land Park Crows were ready to play the day after draft night.

I can’t recommend CBS Fantasy to any newbies who are like me:

  • Who doesn’t know baseball or whatever sport you want to “fantasy” in very well
  • Who doesn’t want to log into the site and other sports resources numerous times each day to ensure the player you have on second base is actually starting.
  • Who doesn’t like busy websites that only confuse the neophyte: Too Much Information. I prefer the Keep It Simple, Stupid approach.

There’s a fourth bullet point that might apply to some people and applies to me, but I think I can overcome this next year: the CBS site does not run the draft. The draft is done in person with all the managers in the same room simultaneously. We showed up at someone’s house, and each had a turn calling out an American League player (for whatever reason, this fantasy league used AL players only) and an opening bid. The better or more promising player, the higher the bids would go. Since each manager was given 60 credits, they had to use them wisely to ensure they could afford an entire team.

I was surrounded by guys who had been in this league for years. They followed everyone’s bids and balances to outbid someone purely on how little the guy next to him had in his kiddy. It was cutthroat, and I wasn’t prepared for it. I noticed two of the managers joined us via Zoom; looking back on it, I would have loved to have a desk in front of me for all the materials I brought (we were sitting on couches and comfy chairs with all our materials stacked on our laps. The veterans didn’t have a problem with this, but I was lost. Next year I’ll video in!

Dear reader, I know I wrote too much about my fantasy baseball experiences, and you don’t know how much I edited out–especially the CBS/Dead Seagulls Baseball Association. How did I get involved with each fantasy league? Who were the two guys who invited me into these leagues, and how do I know them? And specific events leading up to the draft in the CBS Fantasy league. This part of the post was getting ridiculously long for a subject not that many people find interesting. It must have been miserable for you, even at this edited length. And speaking of misery, there is my A’s.

Recently, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred cast doubt on the A’s getting a new home in Oakland, saying, “It’s dragged on so long. Frankly, in some ways, we’re not sure we see a path to success in terms of getting something built in Oakland.” Also, AthleticsNation.com recently said that after the World Series, the A’s are expected to announce a list of finalists among potential locations in Vegas. So, it’s a waiting game now. Not enough fantasy baseball wins can remove the sting of my team moving.

Big head. Balding big head. Overweight with a balding big head. Overweight with a balding and graying big head: My life in a few unflattering pictures

As a toddler, I might as well have worn a hat that said, “C-Section Baby” to remove all doubt from anyone who cast their eyes upon my giant head and thought, “How did mom birth that kid?” On second thought, I would have to wear a T-shirt–they wouldn’t be able to find a hat large enough for my gargantuan grape. My small mouth only accentuated the problem. Growing and keeping my hair longish helped for a while until I began to lose it. Then, after I got married, I began to gain weight followed by my receding hair graying. So the images below are not intended to impress. “There but for the grace of God go I,” I suppose.

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Is this 1963? Close. That is me on the left next to my sister, Michele. It is amazing my neck could suspend that gigantic head!

 

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The early 60s. After my grandfather got the donkey and told my brother to get off of it, we settled down and watched 8mm home movies on my forehead.

 

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Two hopelessly square conservatives and one swingin’ progressive in or around 1966.

 

1967 3rd Grade

1968, Third Grade class picture. I nearly flunked out of this one–as I actually did First Grade. I hate to say it, but I credit my promotion to Fourth Grade to my teacher’s serious car accident. Mrs. Pickett was replaced by a long-term temp who had more patience with me. Geez, look at me! I was a hot mess.

 

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Eighth Grade yearbook pic, I think. Check out the wave in those bangs!

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Sometime in the mid-70s, we saw Rich Little at a casino in South Shore or Reno, Nevada. Rich Little inspired me to become an impressionist, but like everything else, once I found out it took a lot of practice and hard work, I dumped it. Leasure suits? Good God! Were my brother and I feigning senior citizens?

1975

Because my father built boats for a living, I spent a lot of time on the Sacramento River in the mid-1970s. This pic might be from Folsom Lake, though. What a ham!

 

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1977 trip to Alcopoco, Mexico. Here my brother and sister and I pose for a picture.

 

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Senior Year Homecoming. I rarely went to school dances. I was as out of step with my schoolmates–and my date–as that leisure suit was in the fashion of the day. I should have seen it coming! Sorry, Jerri.

 

1976

I spent two seasons trying to shoot pheasants from the sky. On the last day of the 1977 season, we bagged three drakes. I never hunted after that. I don’t mind eating fowl; I didn’t like the feeling I got standing over mortally wondered birds lamely flapping their broken wings, then having the unenviable task of breaking their necks.

 

1980

This 1979 lad is beginning to bald, but can still rock a Calvin Klien oxford, Newman jeans, and a YSL belt.

 

1984

Party time after hours at the Tower Theatre. The year is 1985 because that was the release year of “Cocoon.” That’s me on the ground, my boss Gerry above me, my best friend and fellow floor staffer, Paul on the couch. Randy and Anne are the attractive lovebirds. They met at the Tower, fell in love, got married, and became successful in the film business in SoCal.

 

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This photo appeared in the now-defunct Sacramento Union in the mid-1980s. It was the main image in an article by Mick Martin about college students opting to stay home. (And, presumably, leave the housework to their mothers.) The picture was a big hit with the ladies. You missed a spot, Mom.

 

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I think this was taken in 1985 during my one-year relationship with Judi. My best friend, Paul is on the left. I don’t know what party we all went to that required name tags.

 

Tower Gang '86

1986: The end of my five-year stint as part of the Tower Theatre floor staff. I got a job working for the State of California. When I was put on furlough, I came back and worked for a couple of months. This photo was one of the last nights working with the old crew.

 

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In 1987 one epoch came to a close, and another one began. I graduated from California State University, Sacramento. (The Ten Year Plan.) Here I am with my mentor William A. Dorman. The new epoch started within a month of posing for this photograph: I got married.

peteI’m not sure if this was taken in 1987 or 1988 since I lived with my future wife and her kid, Peter, for a year. Call it a test drive. Of course, it worked out swimmingly. This is one for the images from a photo booth at either the Pizza Hut or the Time Zone arcade across the street in Old Sacramento. I spent countless hours and quarters on Peter at the Time Zone. First Pizza Hut then, when Ely was a toddler Chuck E. Cheese’s. I was once a pizza snob before this time in my life. Now, it was whatever Peter and later Peter and Ely wanted no matter how shitty the pizza. Parenthood.

1989

In 1988 we bought our first house. Here I am amusing my father (kneeling) and my father-in-law with my sophisticated jocularity while we installed tiles in our new kitchen.

 

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Then came Ely. I think this was when I started to gain the weight. A lot of time resting, followed by eating, then more resting.

 

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1989, I suppose. Ely is young enough to ride on my back. I don’t know where we are, but I like the look on Ely’s face, asking himself what the heck is his big brother Peter is doing.

 

1990

Christmas 1989, I think. I’m trying to figure out my kids’ Christmas toys.

 

sutters fort

So in 1992 I messed up and didn’t do any of the parental hours I was supposed to perform during Peter’s Magnet school year. I was told I could make it up by spending the night at Sutter’s Fort with my kid and his classmates (and other slacking parents). We had to rough it: wear period-looking clothes, even sleeping on the ground at night. It’s strange hearing total strangers fart in their sleeping bags! My job was the class photographer. See that twine around my neck? Below it dangles a period Asahi Pentax K-mount SLR with a 55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. Very rustic! This is one of my many pre-smartphone selfies. They did that back in the day, no?

 

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In 1994/5 my wife and I took separate vacations. She went to Chicago and came back an ardent Cubs fan to this day. I went to the D.C. area where I stayed with our friend Mad Dog and became a passionate hockey fan–for well, about two years. (I’m not good at sticking with things.) I saw all the Smithsonian museums, and on the weekend Mad Dog and I  went to Gettysburg and Baltimore where we took in an Orioles game at the beautiful Camden Yards, John Water’s old apartment complex, and visited Edgar Allen Poe’s monument.

 

another meth problem

My brother and I have always had to share birthday parties since our dates are only about two weeks apart. I used to think that was a ripoff. Since my youngest son, Ely, has a birthday within a month of my brother and me, my mother makes a big deal of celebrating “The Keaton Kids” birthdays together. I like the idea and other family members’ birthdays are celebrated in a like manner. Here is one of the dozens of Keaton Kids Birthday Cake Blowout pix my wife religiously takes. This one is from the late 1990s. Ely’s big brother, Peter on the right. Since his birthday is near Thanksgiving we celebrate his with Tommy Turkey’s death day.

 

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At the cabin owned by my parents and brother and his wife sometime in the 1990s. That’s my dad in the background probably saying something like, “Cut that selfy shit out!”

 

Jack & Peter

Not sure when this was taken, the early 00s, I suppose. I’m either in mid-laugh, mid-fart, or just trying to pull my now gigantic ass out of the chair. This time was also Peter’s long, unkempt, “What’s a rubber band?” hair phase.

 

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We’re at the in-laws here, Peter, Grandma Peggy, Ely, Grandpa Bob, and me. This was probably taken in the mid-00s.

 

2006

Martial-arts leaves grabbing in 2006. My all-time favorite pet, Casey is giving himself a bath on the hood of my neighbor’s Beemer in the background. I miss Casey.

 

2007

2007 Playa del Carmen, Mexico. I remember thinking. Boy, am I going to lose weight in Mexico! Last time I was there (1977) I got a severe case of dysentery and things aren’t supposed to be much better as far as the water goes. As it turned out, we stayed at an all-inclusive resort that had it’s own water filtration system. Outside of the resort, I drank nothing but cerveza and diet soda, so I ate like a pig and hit my all-time high in weight: 235!

 

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We took an Alaskan cruise in 2008. Best vacation I’ve ever had. The cruise part wasn’t all that great. Like the previous year in Mexico, I pigged out on the ship. What else do you do on a cruise? It was all the ports of call that made the trip fantastic. I’m not a hiker, but this glacier hike was great! To all readers of this post: Go on a glacier hike quick and remember to take plenty of pictures so you can tell your grandkids what they were like.

 

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This one hurts. Yes, there was a time I liked Obama, and I believed in all that Hope and Change shit. The wife and I had left a restaurant in East Sacramento and noticed an Obama 2008 campaign office near our parked car with this standee inside. There was a short line for people wanting to pose with this chunk of cardboard. The time was obviously magical for more people than just me. Then the man was elected, and he called in the arsonists to put out the fire!

 

Flag

I took this selfie in 2009. I was in a church in Elk Grove, California and about to join a Bible study session. In the 1980s the right wing hijacked patriotism, the flag, the National Anthem, everything short of apple pie. I never had a flag to put out on Flag Day, but after all this shit I never wanted to be misunderstood! So, no flag on Flag Day or July 4th. Also, conservative churches began to associate themselves with the Republican Party and its candidates. I found this flag hanging in a hallway near the room where the study was being held. What’s a flag doing in a church? Where does it say to worship Ceasar? This selfie was intended to be slightly irreverent–as if to say, “This the way I salute the flag, my fellow Christians!” But after posting it on Facebook, a few of my conservative friends dished out some patriotic tripe. “Hell yeah! America!” and the strange, “All you need now is a cowboy hat, and you’re Toby Keith!” Huh?

 

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Me and my wife’s little mistake. We are cat people, but in 2009 Ely, her baby boy moved in with his girlfriend. I suppose my wife felt she needed a replacement–something more responsive than a cat. Enter Vivian, somewhat equal parts labrador, beagle, “Canine from Hell.” We were not prepared for this kind of dog. Nor were the two trainers who kicked my wife and her unruly dog out of each of their training classes. My wife says she will cry hard when Vivian dies. Then, after a respectable time of mourning passes and we’ve vacuumed the last hair of dog from the property, she’s going to get a litter of kittens and become “That crazy old lady with all the cats.”

 

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Keaton Boat Group, Stockton Ski Club, 2009. I’m in the floppy hat talking with Dennis Payton, a long-time family friend. My dad is in his boat. For decades we never had a boat of our own, always taking demonstration models and clients’ boats out for family outings on the Sacramento River. In his retirement, my dad bought a used Keaton from someone who most likely bought it from my dad. Then he modified it into a fishing boat with the ability to troll. Still, he complained he had to settle for a small block. We’re talking about fishing, and my dad still wanted to go fast! I miss him dearly.

 

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2010: The Year of the Scooter. I got a Vespa GT 200L in 2010. I launched the blog BurgerScoot and rode around town reviewing burger joints and dipping my toes into the local scooter subculture. Turns out you really should know how to cook if you want to write decent, informed reviews on restaurant food. Alton Brown, I am not. I had fun and officially ditched a diet that I was unofficially failing. I discovered food trucks around this time. MY GOD, FOOD TRUCKS! Here I’m at REI where Krush Burger (nee Mini Burger) parked.

 

Boring

In 2011 we vacationed in London, Oxford, Bath, and Paris. All fascinating places, especially London which I won’t mind seeing again, but I have found over the years that I like to stay close. Close like North America. Is Hawaii considered North America? What about Iceland? I’d want to go to those two places, too. Wait, Ireland, and Scotland! Oh, the Scandinavian countries, also…

 

2012

Springsteen at The Jewel, Oakland, CA., 2012.  Thanks to Annie and her brother Karl!

 

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One of the most exciting finds in recent years here in Sacramento is The Moon Lecture Series hosted by St. Mark’s Unified Methodist Church. St. Mark’s is a progressive-minded church and the Moon Lectures, which occur during the last four months of each year, features some of the most interesting progressive voices in the country. I have seen Morris Dees, Chris Hedges, Angela Davis, Michele Norris, and recently Jim Wallis (see below). I am very sorry I have missed past guests like Rev. William J Barber II, Amy Goodman, and Daniel Ellsberg.  Here I am with Advocate Dees, co-founder of the monumental Southern Poverty Law Center, doing my very best Jimi Hendrix impression.

 

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In 2014 I was diagnosed with Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a terminal illness–you’ve got it until your bones shatter like glass or you die of some other age-related disease, or you get hit by a truck. The closest thing to an Rx for the condition is staying limber. My physical therapist recommended yoga. It was one of the two most important pieces of advise I have received in my advancing years. The other being “Lose at least fifty pounds.” I’ve taken the first piece of advice very seriously and am struggling with the second piece.

 

2015 Rogers Centre Toronto

In 2015 we vacationed in Toronto. It is a beautiful city. Here I’m in the CN Tower. By the scowl on my face, you would think I knew that the A’s would get their collective ass handed to them by the Blue Jays later that evening. No, that’s how I usually look. If you get a chance, visit Toronto and don’t miss taking in a game at the Rogers Centre. It’s a great ballpark, even if the otherwise amiable people of Toronto turn into complete assholes when they are in that massive stadium!

 

2016 A's v Pirates

2016: A’s host the Pirates. Guess who won?

 

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Late in 2016 my mom and I saw Anthony Bourdain in San Francisco. It was a fun night. The chef turned author, TV personality, and activist along the way was funny, crude, and gracious. I realize this addition may come off as obligatory after hearing of the man’s death especially considering I never watched his shows on a regular basis. Still, his Kitchen Confidential is one book that I think of every time I walk into a restaurant, glance at a menu, take a slice of complimentary bread, and use the restaurant’s bathroom. Bourdain has been called one of the greatest storytellers of our time and one of the most influential cultural figures of his age.

 

2017

Last year Mom took me to a Giants vs Nationals game. One condition, though: I couldn’t wear my A’s colors. I couldn’t abide by wearing anything with the Giants on it, so I met her halfway and bought a River Cats cap. The Sacramento River Cats is our local AAA team and, alas, a Giants affiliate, so purchasing and wearing the headgear stung a bit. When I pulled the cap out of the shipping box, I frantically perused it to ensure it didn’t have any Giants markings or that “Stronger Together” bullshit slogan on it. I enjoyed the crab sandwich, a dugout-clearing fight, the Nat’s shutting out the home team, and the excellent company!

 

Mom's 85th 1a

June 23, 2018: My mother’s 85th birthday party at Raley Field, home of the Sacramento River Cats. My mom popped for a corporate suite! Sweet…

Another Moon Lecture at St. Mark’s Unified Methodist Church in Sacramento. This one on
November 2, 2018, with Jim Wallis: preacher, activist, founding editor of the independent news and faith magazine Sojourners. Wallis is also the author of many books including his latest America’s Original Sin. I went with my co-worker and friend, Tom. I think he liked the political activism of the man but wasn’t crazy about the Christianity part. To me, Wallis embodies the best of both worlds, and as you can see by the selfie, he’s quite a sport! Chris Hedges wasn’t so amiable when I asked for a picture together here a few years back.

Baseball, booze, and sacrifice zones

IFC’s  Brockmire

IFC‘s new comedy Brockmire is the perfect storm of raw comedy, baseball mythology, rust belt economic depression, chronic substance abuse, corporate malfeasance, desperate sex, and–ultimately–redemption. I can’t get enough of it. And considering there are only eight twenty-two minute shows in this first season, it is very frustrating. Hopefully, IFC will increase the number of episodes next season, if there is a Season 2. I can only hope.

Jim Brockmire, played by Hank Azaria, is a baseball announcer who is fired after a profanity-filled on-air meltdown after discovering his wife was having an affair. Brockmire returns to the broadcasting booth ten years later in a significantly smaller market and–at least initially–in a more minor role. Amanda Peet is Jules, the owner of the Morristown Frackers who hires Brockmire. She is battling the local shale oil company that want’s the team gone so it can expand its enterprise. Tyrel Jackson Williams plays Brockmire’s assistant, Charles–an introverted geek who, by comparison, seems the only ordinary person in the town.

Azaria’s has been developing the Jim Brockmire character for six years. It is based on baseball announcing style like baseball Hall of Famer-turned announcer Phil Rizzuto, but his folksy, down-home delivery reminds me of Monte Moore sans the booze talk. The Kansas City/Oakland Athletics radio announcer from 1962 to 1980 was a familiar voice in my house when I was growing up in the 60s and 70s. I learned such lines/terms as “donnybrook” (a dugouts-emptying fight) and “arson squad” (a chronically unsuccessful bullpen). I remember his home run call “There she goes!” and how he called the A’s “the good guys in the white shoes” (referring to the A’s iconic white cleats).

The socio-political commentary is simplistic and direct: the desperation of Morristown (meth labs and pervasive alcoholism) that have been sacrificed by free trade agreements and mining, the manipulative and evil shale oil company that can’t have a business meeting without sinking into debauchery, and the baseball players who are hardly the image of “the boys of summer,” all of this is delivered with dark humor.

I haven’t seen the whole series yet, but I’m about half way through the far too short Season 1 and wish there were more episodes in front of me.