Monday, October 6, 2008

Baseball, No Ballentine

I like the Milwaukee Brewers, but it looks like the Phillies will knock them out. The Phil’s are up two games to none; the Brewers are winning game three but that’s a tough three games to win in a row.

I haven’t seen any of these teams before. The Brewers have a first-baseman with a great name, Prince Fielder, interesting guy, he’s huge, you’d have to say that he’s fat. He can really play, though, runs like an athlete, a big, fat athlete, and, no surprise, he can smack the ball good. They also have a guy with the wildest batting stance/routine that I’ve ever seen. He bounces up and down at the knees, and he holds the bat as far over his head as it will go and flicks it powerfully towards the pitcher. It’s a trip, looks like a giant bird trying to get laid.

Tampa Bay, the Devil Rays, they seem to have more of a chance to advance. They’re a very young team, youngest in the post season, fourth youngest roster in the majors. They look like a college team, a giant, talented college team. They have a pitcher who makes Mark “The Bird” Fydrich look like a dignified professional. He never stops talking, and a lot of it is offensive to the opposing players. You can’t really make it out, but it looks like a combination of instructions to the ball, jibes at the hitters, comments on all aspects of the proceedings, thanks to his teammates and to the deity, and quite a bit of “take that motherfucker.” I saw him in one game, things almost came to blows a couple of times.

I like the Dodgers. They’re having a “Frankenstein” season. The first half, they were just laying on the table, dead. After the lightning hit them they started raising holy hell and they’re still going. Good for them. Los Angeles is a good baseball town, they deserve a good showing.

Chicago has interesting fans. Not entirely positive, but not entirely negative either. I only saw one game against the Dodgers, and the fans were admirably supportive in the beginning. They became sullen and uncommunicative as the game went south. They did, however, applaud the late entry into the game of a Dodger pitcher with a long and distinguished career. But then again, they booed their own team for losing. They should be used to it by now. The Cubs are a choke team, and it is October after all.

If the series goes more than four games I’ll probably miss the end, I have a funeral to go to up in the stix, the land of “No ESPN.” Not a real funeral, I missed that, this is a “one hundred day memorial service/party.” I don’t really care who wins anymore, it has been a long time since I was attached to one team as a “fan.” I love to watch these guys play though, important games especially. Watch the pitcher’s mechanics, how is he using his turn, his front leg, how is he putting the tension in his arm, how is he releasing it. Watch the fielders move in response to the ball. See the swings, mostly those new Charlie Lau style throw-the-bat-into-the-strike-zone-and-hope-for-the-best swings, some of the old school big arch two hands all the way Joe DiMaggio style. I love the hard hit ground ball to the bag at third, the long throw. I want to see outfielders who have good arms, like the old days, good range for the catch and the throw, hit the cut-off man, and there’s nothing like a long, accurate throw to home plate.

Ballentine was good beer. My uncle Bob drank enough of it to float a battleship. Ballentine was the sponsor of the New York Yankees for many years, decades probably. Nice song, “baseball and Ballentine, baseball and Ballentine . . .” Channel 11, if I recall, WPIX. Mel Allen. Those were the days. God, did I hate the Yankees.

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