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Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Tasing of a Fat Man


Polite society will not long abide the rowdy propositioning of a purposeful young man by a shiftless old tosspot, brain awash in the finest malted barley single-A baseball has to offer.  Polite society will, however, capture this moment on video and post it on YouTube for all the world to enjoy.  Like any proper Florida baseball game, the video below proceeds at a leisurely pace, is rife with catcalls and heckling, and culminates in the tasing of an unmanageable fat man.   
 
The Daytona Cubs website offers this description of the setting:  “The Budweiser Bullpen is located down the right field line. It offers a unique view of the game.”  Yes, on this day it certainly did that.  Oh boy, it did a lot of that.

The Cubs website also details the alcohol policy: 
Fans must be 21 years of age with positive identification to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages. The Daytona Cubs reserve the right to suspend service at any time at the sole discretion of the Cubs management and reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.
Apparently, Cubs management, in concert with the local constables, also reserves the right to suspend the proper functioning of your nervous system should you publicly and loudly offer a “bag of pennies” to see another man’s “heinie”.   Fair enough, I say.   

Witness the long, coiled, crackling arm of the law:



If you’ve already wasted 9 minutes of your life watching the first video, what’s another minute and 20 seconds?



Thursday, January 12, 2012

F**k Yeah Raymond, Do it Like That


The lack of pants suggests confidence.  The steady gaze, almost aggressive in its firmness, suggests a single-mindedness of purpose.  Raymond will arouse you. 


 

Music: "Your Touch" by The Black Keys.  Video by YouTube user DASUAG93.  Juxtaposition, my own.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Collective Memories and First Impressions of Al Lang Stadium


Sometimes rummaging through YouTube can seem like a giant electronic flea market filled with too many odd things.  Things you don’t want, things you certainly don’t want to buy, things you wish you had never seen.  Then, if you’re lucky you might happen upon something wonderful, something unexpectedly pleasing, or something priceless.  The video below is one of those things.


About a year ago, I heard about several exhibition baseball games that were scheduled to be played in February and March of 2011 at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg.  I had heard about this baseball field many times, but had never been there.  They said it was old and no longer used for anything.  They said years ago it used to be the spring training home for one baseball team or another.  Then finally, its last tenant moved on to a modern baseball park for spring training and Al Lang Field was abandoned.   It was a shame, they said.  It’s so pretty there next to the water, with the bay view and the ocean breeze.

So, I decided to go see these games.  Before I entered the ballpark for the first time, I took a look around outside to see what the place was like.  Walking through the parking lot, I surprised myself by appreciating those noisy leaf blowers I usually hate so much.  I saw many puddles of collecting oak leaves, which gave the entrance a neglected feel, unlike the unnaturally clean entrance of newer ballparks.  I saw the many bronzed home plate-shaped plaques adorning the entrance and reminding visitors this had once been a special place.

To the left of the box office was some kind of an alcove, perhaps a service entrance, behind a metal fence which was closed shut.  Through the fence I saw a huge sign just sitting there, with the words “Minor League Baseball” written in that cursive baseball style used on so many teams' jerseys.  On the sign there was an image of a batter in the follow-through of his swing.  At least that’s how I remember it.  I wish I had taken a picture.  I had my camera with me.  I don’t know why I didn’t.  I wondered where the sign used to hang and if any famous ball players had walked beneath it.  Some of those oak leaves formed a puddle around the sign too.

I showed my ticket to the usher and walked up the ramp to the concourse.  There was a sign commemorating former mayor Al Lang and his efforts to bring professional baseball to St. Petersburg.  He looked like a kind man.  Someone had carelessly blocked part of the sign with one of those portable trash bins on plastic wheels that janitors use to collect garbage.  It also seemed like the sign was designed to be backlit from within, but the light was not on for some reason.

On the concourse people were happy.  I overheard one man greet another and ask, “How you doin'?”  The other man responded, beer in hand, “I’m back at Al Lang watching baseball.  I’m doing great!”  He had a big, content smile.

I got my food and walked to my seat.  Its red color had faded from too many years of Florida sunshine.  Everyone was right about the view of the water.  It was beautiful.  Palm trees struggled against the strong winds.  In the distance, parked yachts awaited the return of their owners.  

A group of old men gathered in the infield for the national anthem.  They were dressed all in white.  I didn’t pay attention to the announcer as he described the group to which they belonged.  Maybe they were veterans, or former ball players.  I can’t remember.  I wish I could.  One of the old men took a harmonica out of his pocket and walked slowly to the microphone.  He played the national anthem and it was fantastic.  He went on through the whole song with that harmonica and I remember thinking this was his moment to shine, and he did, magnificently, until the very end when either his lungs or that harmonica failed him.  The missed note wailed sharply through the speakers briefly, but no one thought any less of him.  I hope he is there again this year.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Half-inning

Drunken limey "athlete"
Henry Chadwick, amply-bearded gentleman





















inning, walk, home run, hon run, 4-bagger, grand slam, grand salami, double play, triple play, dinger, tater, cutter, closer, sinker, heater, rubber, liner, soft-tosser, 2-seamer, 4-seamer, no-hitter, front door slider, back door slider, donut, chin music, pick off, shake off, walk off, tag up, choke up, changeup, pop up, pitch out, dugout, circle change, Bugs Bunny change, slurve, fork ball, palm ball, screw ball, curve ball, knuckle ball, spit ball, small ball, dead ball, live ball, fly ball, ground ball, moneyball, split-finger, balk, deec, strike zone, snow cone, bunt, swing-and-a-miss, box score, shortstop, backstop, sweet spot, bullpen, good eye, batter's eye, seeing eye single, pillow, ernie, frozen rope, hose, wild card, blue, ump, slump, slump buster

The list above represents but a loose thread protruding from the rich, baccy-soiled tapestry that is the Baseball Lexicon.  A fundamental aspect of all these distinctive words and phrases is that, once we have agreed on their meaning, using them makes communication more efficient.  For example, saying or writing "snow cone catch" is preferable to "he caught the ball in such a manner as it protruded from the top of his glove".  Therefore, this jargon not only adds to baseball's charm, it serves a useful purpose.

This post furthers that purpose and represents my humble offering unto the Baseball Lexicon.  I tremble before it as I kneel on one knee, with head bowed and with hands outstretched and together.  On my hands rest two words, freshly conceived yet of inveterate origin, either one of which I propose should replace the uninspired and ponderous word "half-inning" forevermore.

Seventy-four years ago, the Veterans Committee of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum elected Henry Chadwick into their ranks.  Despite his regrettable limey upbringing playing cricket, or more likely as a rejection thereof, Mr. Chadwick contributed greatly to the gloriously American game of baseball.  He invented the box score, developed early statistical measures such as ERA and batting average, and popularized the game in the 1800s.

For his noble efforts, the amply-bearded Mr. Chadwick deserves to have his name perpetuated within the game and to be remembered thusly in reference to completion of three sixths of an American baseball inning.  I present to you examples of the proposed new word, so virulent in forthcoming popularity, they are italicized for your protection.
"Hey jackass, I can't see the damn game!  Stay in your seat 'til the chad is over!"


"I know damn well this idiot manager isn't leaving that pitcher in there to finish the chad.  He's getting lit up!"

"Hey, after this chad is over I'm gonna go take a piss.  Watch my beer."
Isn't the monosyllabic "chad" preferable to the awkward and seldom-used trisyllabic "half-inning"?  In the entire history of baseball has no one previously thought of a substitute for this ungainly word?  Furthermore, we may use "chad" to refer to the top of an inning and "wick" to refer to its bottom.  However, we can address that later, once "chad" has swept away this oversight of Baseball Nation, as a mighty wind sweeps clear the shanty planks of poor construction.

Alternatively, we can just replace "half-inning" with "leg", as the Brits used in bat and trap many pints ago, as evidenced here:
"The bowling side waits for the ball behind and between the posts and then hurls the ball back toward the trap to knock down a "wicket," or flap of wood attached to the front of the trap and hinged at the bottom. If the bowler knocks down the wicket, then the batsman is "bowled out." If a batter does not get out, then one run is scored. Once all members of a batting side are out, then the teams switch places. Each turn for a batting side to score is called a 'leg' and one game consists of the best of three legs."
So as to hasten its just and wise decision, I will stop myself here and take my leave of the Baseball Lexicon.  I thank it for its generous consideration of either of these two proposals, "chad" or "leg", equal in worth and, I hope, profound in effect.