Wednesday, October 25, 2006

DETROIT V. ST LOUIS - for Met fan WW, to help him forget that Randolph choked the NLCS away by not making Cards 3rd baseman Scott Rolen field more bunts on the wet Shea infield.

Tigers vs. Cardinals…they’ve tilted twice before… 1934 and 1968...but first...

2006: I shiver to think that these Cards might win the battle of the Mid-state beiges. I own that this bit-a-rave may read as North-Eastern liberal establishment gripe. I like the NY vs. NY vs. BO or some SF. I prefer the City-States with the extra progressives required to stem the Crimson Tide. I particularly enjoy it when the Yankees get to Sherman’s March all over the Braves. In Rove-world, a Cardinal Win will be that perfectly senseless maraschino cherry atop the rutabaga crisp. Just another team USA that doesn’t feel the need to try much until the gamblers quote points. (Speaking of: Why is Kenny Rogers good now? Always had nice angle on the curvice, but now his Uncle Charlie seems infused with a Rajah Clemens brand of edge. It’s not the pine tar, it’s the HGH rage. Kenny’s jaw now Xtra-lanternish; must need a mouth guard to stop him from rubbing his teeth down to chicklets.)

So if the 83 game winning Cardinal team can be eligible to win the World Series, I say yes, let’s just shorten the season into several shorter seasons with endless semi-demi wild card scenarios to decide who has the tie-breaker for all the rest of the semi-demi western whip-crack dressage. Yes, the yearly All-star exhibition of Men Evolving into Chemical Manimals should keep determining who gets more home games in the Series. Don’t even play the All-star game itself. Just do the homerun derby - NL vs. AL. And make the derby scoring a bit more complicated. Add points for distance. Still more for extremely archy arc. More again for best post homerun pose downs. Then make the loser league run across the infield just in jocks, socks and cleats - while the winners call them small.

The Gas House Gang had its charms, and any town that played a significant role in Blues/Jazz history + gave birth to Yogi Berra can’t be all-bad. That said, I’ve always found St. Lou to be pretty rednecky – and not in a charming Marshall Mathers growing up in a Detroit trailer park kind of way. If not red-redneck, at least the pink-neck of the chubby conventioneer who should use a bit more UV-block before sitting poolside at the Reno Hilton. Pink like the pink inside the White Rat Whitey Herzog’s ears. The pink inside the ears of the whitey who wears the Red premium polo shirt with a logo of the company that owns his ass. Or the Cardinal logo.

But to really dig in, to really get comfy in the box, I’ll relay that St. Louis was always that very southern mid-western town where you could still find 'colored' drinking fountains quite late in the Jim Crow game. When Jackie Robinson broke through in ’47, St. Louis was the town the Dodgers worried about most: Enos 'Country' Slaughter only played against Jack's Dodgers because he was forced to by the surprisingly progressive KT-Commissioner Happy Chandler.

This is all well-well covered in the Burns doc, but it bares re-telling that when Chandler got the job, the owners figured he'd keep the color line that Drunk/Racist Landis had propped in place (Mountain Landis even blocked Bill Veeck from trying to revitalize the perennial loser Phillies in 1939 because rumor had it that Veeck was gonna stock his team-to-be with Negro Leaguers.). Chandler didn't keep his job long -replaced by Babe Ruth's ghostwriter. But Happy was happy because he had soul. St. Louis does too. It’s just hard to see through all that red.

back-back to '34: the cabbage and water year of the Great Depression… Tigers were AL powerhouse: catcher-manager Mickey Cochrane (player-manager hyphenates big in low budge-era), Greenwich Village born 1st sacker Hank Greenberg and the Mechanical Man -2nd sack-superior Charlie Gehringer (“Wind him up in Spring Training and watch him hit .320.”). But the Gas House Gang (rarely washed their uni’s = keep the nut low), led by last NL 30 game winner Dizzy Dean and 19 game winner bro-Daffy, took Detroit in 7. During that decisive game, St. Lou triple crown winner Ducky Medwick (last NL-er to do that) earned unsportsmanlike ire of Detroit by being too damn good; as game became blowout, Ducky was pelted by whatever Tiger fans thought was ripe enough to throw…Commissioner Drunk-Racist Landis removed Medwick from the game just to get the darn thing into the books.

1968Cronkite tells America that the Tet botch was part of the larger ‘Nam botch (not to say good old days were all that great, but I can’t see Couric telling same re: Iraq) …MLK and RFK both lost and speaking of Civil Rights (Civil Rights) : many worried that if Tigers took the title of ‘68, Detroit would redux post-MLK riots…But no re-burning of the Fords Mustangs…Los Tigres were mixed noice by Mayo(Smith): ye oldes like Kaline, Freehan & Mickey Stanley (the centerfielder who subbed at short so that hot Al could get more at-bats ) with new urbans (read blacks) like Downtown Gates Brown and Willie Horton. The Cards blend was good too: Gibson was the best pitcher in the year of the pitcher, Brock broke Series base-swipe records… and the fly-catcher was Curt Flood; in the 70’s, he gave up the end of his HOF-caliber career to challenge the reserve clause. A real baseball fan is, by definition, a humanist. When you add Flood’s unquant-able quals to his above average career quants, you give Curt a Hall plaque. I’m not the first to press Flood’s point. Check out NY Times Sports 10/26.

The Tigers had two raheeeally nice twirlers in ’68: hefty lefty Lolich won 3 in the Series – besting Gibson in the decisive 7th. And Denny McClain won 31 = the last to win 30+ in a season. Denny had one more good campaign in him post ’68 until early-onset of the dead-arm. With too much time on his hands, he took up the organ, got suspended for arms possession, then again for ‘consorting with gamblers.’ Ex-post ball-career, Denny did time for irritating the IRS, but remained popular in Motown – for a time as a radio personality? Detroit has never held time in the pokey against a guy with the major league skillsetz. Ron Leflore was in for armed robbery, then led the league in steals. Levar Burton played Ron in a TV movie based on Leflore’s prison/baseball auto-bio. I think Billy Martin played manager Billy Martin? I weigh in pro- McClain, mostly because he gave the nearly legless late-career Mickey Mantle the heads up on a meatball-grooved into his kitchen so the Mick could advance on the all-time homerun charts (a significant milestone pre-HGH). I like it when ballplayers love like that in a game that’s not pennant race significant. It’s like saying that it’s valid to chuck the rules in order to add happiness. Curing Polio and advancing the cause of Civil Rights = important; late season contest between already AL champs and out of it Yanks? Not quite so much.

This entry is for CBB Jr.

He appreciated things. Crisp things: a perfect sail day and The Elements of Style. But things with shades of grey too: The divine being in the shape of David Cone thinking his way in and out of trouble. On the night CBB Jr. died, Coney really came through. For the rest of the week, we just watched the games.

Monday, October 16, 2006


How did it all get this way? Why are we living in the AGE OF RAGE?

Let's review the timeline.

To begin (with) … The Big BANG: Pre-Man Ape, Sasquatch, and Neanderthal (and Toaster Head) step out of a swirling miasma of moss and dead, chopped-up semi-Amphibians, crossing the Bering Straight before the Ice Age killed the Wooly Mammoth, stuck in the La Brea Tarpit (just off La Cienaga Blvd.).

Man fell when Cain killed Abel so Christ died on the Cross, then rose again from the lions den to fight the Barbarians (Huns, Vandals, VisaGoths, Genghis Kahn) but fell fighting Hannibal's elephants in the Alps, which leads us to…

1066: The Black Plague killed two-thirds of The Holy Roman Empire and 3 point perspective; The Crusaders killed two-thirds of the Ottoman Empire and found the The Dead Sea Scrolls which Guttenburg published as The Holy Bible.

The Avignon Popes fought The 100 Years War to legitimize the Dauphin while DA Vinci re-invented 3-point perspective and Shakespeare invented plot, poetry and philosophy - Shortest Hamlet: "At least pretend you didn’t fuck my Uncle!” Columbus and Vasco de Gama found The Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine, Florida which is the beginning of…

AMERICAN HISTORY. The Dutch leveraged Manhattan from the Indians for a song. The British brought "witchhunts" on the Mayflower, leveraged Dutch, French'n Indians with guns, but were tarred 'n feathered at The Boston Tea Party. Meanwhile back in Europe, Marie Antoinette said "Let them eat cake" while her head fell into the basket. Napoleon: Short three-nippled fascist.

THE HALL OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS. Washington: Our Father. Our toothless pot smoker. (Jefferson: Chocolate Booty-Call.) Monroe: see Napoleon. John Quincy Adams: Toilet slave. Andrew Jackson: broke 93 treaties with Native Americans. Tippicanoe Harrison: did not wear a topcoat to his inauguration and died two months later.

James Polk: gallstones removed without anesthetic. Franklin Pierce: alcoholic ( Abner Doubleday did not invent baseball in Cooperstown in 1839…a Boocock did, in St. Louis, in 1848 - the year that Manifest Destiny killed America's indigenous peoples.).

Abraham Lincoln: shot dead by John Wilkes Booth who broke his ankle while opening the door for Jim Crow - no friend of the Boococks. Ulysses Grant: BIG alcoholic. James Garfield: shot going to college reunion - died a month later after 147 gloveless doctors stuck their fingers into the wound. Rutherford B. Hayes: 1st American president to take office without winning the election. Benjamin Harrison: 2nd president to take office without winning the election.

William Mckinley: also shot going to college reunion…died two weeks later because penicillin was not invented yet. Teddy Roosevelt: first modern President. Teddy's chosen successor: William Howard Taft - fattest President (see above).

RECENT HISTORY TO THE PRESENT . Freud and Picasso ditched the comfort of 3-point perspective forever when in-bred Royalty and The Kaiser replaced the Marquis of Queensbury rules with machine guns and gas (The Great War). Then everybody drank too much because it was against the rules; the hangover was the Great Depression.

Short on guns and money, Neville Chamberlain appeased Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo so Churchill and FDR vamped until the greatest generation (my ass) saved the free world for Uncle Joe (Stalin) and Mao to build a wall around.

Black like Elvis vs. White like Ike vs. Brown vs. Board of Education vs. Fulgencio Batista vs. Fidel Castro vs. JFK vs. Nikita Kruschev's shoe. The Military Industrial Complex, J.Edgar Hoover and Kicked Tricky Dick with the big chip killed Jack, RFK, MLK, LBJ;

Gimme Shelter and Helter Skelter ended The Beatles' Summer of Love, leaving us with an energy crisis that forced Pol Pot to take Cambodia back to year zero and New York Yankees pitchers Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson to swap wives, kids, houses, dogs, boats - giving all of our parents permission to get divorced.

Gerald Ford: 3rd non-elected president told New York to drop dead until Reggie Jackson hit his three World Series homeruns into the hostage crisis and Ronald Reagan gave everybody permission to forget about the energy crisis;

Semen spackled cocktail dress retrieved from the floor of the back of the closet so that we can discredit the brightest president since Jack Kennedy. (Bill Clinton.) Son of that same John Fitzgerald Kennedy dies in a private plane crash twenty years after John Lennon gets shot to death by a "Catcher and the Rye" reading LONE nut so that Ronald Reagan can survive his "Catcher in the Rye" reading LONE nut to destroy 50 years of progressive inroads towards a remotely humane and enlightened world.

That overdue bill is being paid (by what is left of the middle class) to Bush II…the 4th non-elected President, who was appointed by the judicial branch - who were appointed by Bush I, using an electoral clause (written in 1789 and opposed by the Boococks) that said that a slave counts for 2/5ths of a landowner.

Great. Now you know all you need to know about the past (and why there’s so much rage). I’ve left nothing germane behind. Any gaps or cracks in your education have been caulked with this Boocock timeline.