Sunday, August 29, 2010

First Place version 5.0

It is 92 degrees right now and the trees are still awesome summer green, but the afternoon light is waning and there's a rustling through the leaves that whispers August's impending death. One more month and I won't be sitting outside in shorts, a tank top, and flip flops. This beer I drink is Sam Seasonal, but it has changed from the fruity summer ale to the Oktoberfest variety. Oh.

But what a festive Oktober it will be.

For the last month, I've been writing about how I can't believe this is happening, how I expect it all to collapse like it always does. But it persists, this thing large cities call "first place," and it is swelling into something that can bring us immense pleasure. There is a whole generation of first place virgins that have been waiting for...I, uh, should leave this metaphor before I am excommunicated from this holy church...

Five games. Thirty-two games remaining.

Five games.

FIVE games.

We're talking magic number territory here, and today I have never appreciated the number 29 so much. I am right at this moment recalling a feeling, a vague childhood memory of the Reds smiley face on the front page of the Dayton Daily News with a quotidian reading of magic numbers. I am remembering the feeling of newspapers, Hal McCoy articles in his prime, turning my hands black with newsprint. I can feel the first cool nights, the crispness that accompanies pennant races, playoff baseball sans Tim McCarver or Fox or tea parties or terrorism when mudslinging wasn't laced with toxins and Americans were just Americans and not "real Americans" versus whatever the opposite of "real Americans" is. I have just experienced a return to childhood in my head, when the Cincinnati Reds Baseball Club was a respected franchise, families sat down together for nightly dinners, you could arrive at airports and just get on your plane, and the internet was not yet a weapon of mass destruction.

Ah, the times they are a changing. Good thing, because if time weren't changing, it'd mean we're dead.

The excitement - or whatever is the chemical in my brain that reacts to the success of my tribe - is pumping through my body, producing physical sensations unknown to me or forgotten, unknown to all of us for a long, long time. I don't pine for the innocent days of childhood one bit, however. Innocence = ignorance, and ignorance, while perhaps producing a state of temporary bliss, only compounds our troubles in our lives. I, for one, would rather know and work towards solving the problems of the world rather than ignoring them and then fearing things I don't understand when they begin to affect my life. And though not being ignorant can result in worry or sadness at times, we have things like the beautiful game of baseball to give us respite.

What better way to experience that respite than to enjoy the fruits of the divine favor of the baseball gods who have finally forgiven Pete Rose for his transgressions and have ended our long suffering.

Unless they are just playing a cruel joke...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mike Leake and Shoulder Fatigue

I get it, Mike, I really do. A Major League Baseball season is so very long, and you have never pitched this much in a year. Believe me, I understand the lack of endurance, for I, too, am not used to this much baseball in a season.

See, for the past decade, the Reds have stunk. By the time late July or early August came around, they were done, and so was I. For the last few weeks, I have been suffering from season fatigue, from burnout.

Not all of it can be contributed to baseball. Politics, the internet, Washington DC, the United States – I’m kind of sick of everything. All I want to do is go back to Beirut and spend my days on the beach and my nights in Evergreen Pub and roam the streets of Hamra in the wee hours of the morning until the sun comes up and forget the whole stupid world. I hate this time of year, the end of summer, when the shortening days remind you of the cold wet misery that is just around the corner.

But back to baseball – I was a bit sad because I haven’t been able to be as excited about the first place Reds as I thought I’d be if this moment were finally ever to come. I suppose I was just waiting for the collapse. I had baseball fatigue, but I've had my rest.

In all of these losing seasons, though, September comes around and I start to be interested again, and I’m starting to feel that come back; I’m starting to feel recharged. You will, too, Mike, after you get your two weeks of rest and the crispness comes into the air and the word October becomes magic.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Baseball = Not Important

Some morons shot up Beirut last night and now the Army is patrolling the streets. They're having funerals for three dead idiots and there's concern that more violence might be on the way, especially considering a Hezbollah moron was involved in the conflict, which began over a fight for a parking space. Damn idiots better not mess up my trip to Beirut next month.

Meanwhile, we have idiots here stabbing cabbies (sounds like a great name for a white supremacist band) because the American idiots, who aren't much different than the Hezbollah idiots, have stirred up anti-Muslim hatred. It's only a matter of time before someone dies thanks to GlennBeckology. Trying to decide if the racist rally on the Mall this Saturday is safe enough to go to. I wanted to witness the zoo animals creep out of their cages, but I'm not sure it's a wise thing to do in light of rising tensions here.

So Joey Votto's on the cover of Sports Illustrated? Is that SI's way of collaborating with Fox so the small market Reds don't get into the playoffs because they would bring poorer ratings? Remember the SI curse?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

So after the sweep...

I stopped watching the Reds. And they haven't lost since. Now I'm afraid to watch.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Gone fishing in the Mediterranean of my mind

So I checked my Blackberry (that people probably died to make) this afternoon to discover the Reds had swept the Fish. I watched exactly zero of the games in this series. I had exactly zero interest in watching these games. I blame Arcade Fire. And a bartender in Beirut. And the St. Louis Pigeons, who crapped all over last week, crapped out the trash they eat, those giant rats with wings.

First, the Arcade Fire album (number one in the USofA.) Something so amazing shouldn't send a person spiraling into the mire of depression and despair. But a hundred years from now when Chinese and Indian scholars are studying the demise of the American empire, they will make this album a big part of their research, because it says exactly what is happening now with nice music to go along with the narrative.

As for the bartender in Beirut, well two phone calls from Lebanon in a weekend and a homesickness for a place I don't belong and have no business longing for has plagued me to the point where I'm shaving days off my trip to Paris, a city I have pined for over the last decade, to go to a city where war could break out at any time, a filthy city where I can't breathe from the smog and the smoking and that gave me food poisoning five times in four months because of a lack of health and safety regulation enforcement, a virtual anarchy...but the human body is 75% water, and my slowly aging body is 75% Mediterranean water. Oh, this is a place where you can see snowcapped mountains next to the most beautiful body of water on the planet, a place where you can ski and go to the beach in the same day, a place where there is a bartender who drinks his Almaza beers with a Cincinnati Reds jersey coolie. Hmm...I wonder how that got there...

And the freaking Deadbirds, well, where's Dickhead Cheney when you need him? That series just made me realize how much making the playoffs and then NOT winning the World Series is going to stink. Because I really believe we are going to the playoffs. But I don't believe we are going to get to the World Series. I just don't think we have that extra It you need to win it all. They couldn't step it up when it mattered. But hey, at least I'm developing that little shield thingy around my heart so it won't hurt so much when we Paul Keels over. And hey, it's a heck of a lot better than Paul Keelsing over in June.

Isn't it?

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Second game in a row I'm not watching. Still reeling from the sweep. They couldn't step it up when it counted.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Even more voodoo

More Voodoo

For tonight

In case you hadn't heard, a couple of weeks ago Kings of Leon canceled a concert in St. Louis because they kept getting crapped on by pigeons as they were playing. Well, being as juvenile as I am, I've run with the whole Pigeon Poop thing for anything dealing with the Deadbirds. I wanted to have this graphic done in time for the series, but didn't finish. Maybe tomorrow. The voodoo just needs to be put out there now.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Friday, August 06, 2010

In Dusty We Trusty?

If you had asked me in April or even May if I thought Dusty Baker should be given a contract extension, I would have said no before you even finished the question. Three years ago, I was pretty happy when the Reds brought Baker in due to having followed the Giants in 2001-2002 when I was in California. But 2008 happened, and 2009 happened, and I had all but given up hope for 2010.

But now it seems like Baker will be back. And I feel ok with that. I mean, why shouldn't we be? We're in first place on August 6th.

Today, he put together the best possible lineup he could (Phillips, Heisey, Votto, Rolen, Gomes, Bruce, Hannigan, Janish, Arroyo) for the first time in maybe ever. Old dog, meet new tricks? It was shocking for me to see Heisey in the two hole. Folks, your 2010 National League World Series starting lineup? We can dream...

It's funny how winning can change your outlook.

Next year, we pretty much get everyone back. Harang will be gone, but he hasn't been missed this year. I hope Arroyo's still on the team. Cordero can go away, for all I care. Cabrera and Gomes? Well, I don't know what to think about them. They seem to be integral parts of clubhouse chemistry (vastly underrated by statheads who were never good enough to play on competitive teams), but Cabrera doesn't contribute anything on the field (despite announcers drooling over his shadow), and Gomes is really bad when he's bad.

This club is in it for awhile. Our decade of suffering is finally over. And I don't mind Dusty controlling the reigns.

As long as we're winning.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

No Sweat

Psst…it’s August. August 4, 2010, to be more precise. The bank sign says 99 degrees. I’m pretty sure it’s wrong, though, because aside from the sweat rolling down my back, it’s pretty comfortable. What? You don’t think sweat rolling down your back can be comfortable? You’ve been spending too much time inside air conditioning. Here’s a little secret: sweat is your body’s very own built in cooling mechanism. Without it, we would have died out a long time ago, like the dinosaurs and the dodo bird and common sense. Here’s another secret: if you don’t use your air conditioning all the time, hot doesn’t feel so hot. Honest.

Hot doesn’t feel so hot. It’s August 4, 2010 and the Reds are in first place. But it doesn’t feel like first place. I mean, yeah, we’ve gotten kind of arrogant and expect to win every game now and we’re filling up a baseball stadium, but the seesawing is like sun then thunderstorms then sun then thunderstorms then light drizzle then partly cloudy then night then day then a rain delay. Oh sure, it’s fun and we can write real time comments with a lot of exclamation marks every time a Reds player does something good, but the minute Caca Cordero walks someone, it feels like someone has bombed the Promised Land.

The Deadbirds are panicking. They’re only half a game out but they’re already juggling their rotation with a couple of nice round juggling balls and a few sticks that are on fire. They just trashed their not-as-potent offense for a little pitching. (I vaguely remember a certain team trashing a quarter of their offense for a little pitching a few years ago…that didn’t turn out too well.) And why are they panicking? Because they know what winning is like and we’ve forgotten and so even though it’s enjoyable and the sight of Cincinnati atop the standings and Votto atop every offensive category is orgasmic, there’s always that nagging thing in the back of our minds wondering when it’s all going to end.

I asked my Phillies phan phriend about the first year the Phillies started winning and he told me much of what I am feeling is the same as what he felt back then. The logical part of my brain knows this team, even with its holes, is good, maybe better than the Deadbirds (without Pujols, they aren’t that great.) It also knows we play the Padres in San Diego during the last week of the season and that we have another West Coast trip a couple of weeks before that. The emotional part of my brain can’t handle even the thought of the disappointment I will feel if we don’t go all the way. And disappointment is something we know a little bit about.