Saturday, November 15, 2003

Zisk Issue # 7

Stalking Steve Phillips by Brian Cogan

The Year in Baseball: 2003 As Seen by the Faloon Family by Mike Faloon

The Devil Bleeds Dodger Blue by Ken Derr

2003 All Star Game...Behind the Music by Jake Austen

The New York Mess...I Mean Mets: A Special Zisk Report

The Trail of  Tears: Every City I Move to Has a Shitty Baseball Team by Lisa Alcock

The Year of the Braves by Josh Rutledge
Ryne Duren: One Day at a Time by Tim Hinely

Top 10 Games I've Attended by  Kevin Chanel

Batman: Making the Case for the Akron Aeros M.E.P. by Mike Faloon

Why I Think Roger Clemens Is a Weiner by Kip Yates

Bernie, Bernie, Bernie Mac! When Are You Comin' Back? or Yes, He's Our 3,000 Man by Rev. Norb

Bring the Pain: An Epilogue by David Shields

Why I Wear # 44 by Lisa Alcock

The Founding of the American League: Those Were The Days by John Shiffert

Match the Player With the Product Endorsement by Mark Hughson

The New York Yankees Play Two by Michael Baker

The Comedy of Baseball by Steve Reynolds

Stalking Steve Phillips by Brian Cogan

I was going to deliver a spell-binding and heart-pounding account my successful pursuit of Steve Phillips when I accidentally learned how much the other writers at Zisk were being paid.  Steve Reynolds alone gets five hundred dollars a word! 

Clearly this cannot go on.  As of this moment I am engaging in “Operation Shutdown” which will commence now and end when a large packet of cash reaches me on my boat.

Please remember that I am only in this for the kids and the love of the game.






























































Brian Cogan, Ph.D. has probably suffered more for the Mets than anyone else in his household this year alone.  He teaches for Molloy College and New York University, writes for anyone who will meet his outrageous salary demands and bemoans the salary cap recently instituted for Go Metric writers.  In Little League he once hit a double.  He can be reached for endorsement deals at

The Year in Baseball: 2003 As Seen by the Faloon Family by Mike Faloon

Me: What do you think of this article?

My wife, Allie: I like it, but I wonder if other people will get it.

Me: Good point. I hope they do. Here's a sentimental, if somewhat indulgent, look back at the 2003 baseball season through the observations, emails, and conversations of the Faloon clan, a poor man’s This America Life, if you will.


Part 1

While on vacation in July, I got wind of the annual Cape Cod League All Star game. The Cape League is comprised of college players from around the country. I made a compromise with my wife, trading an afternoon of shopping for attending the Cape’s All-Star game. My brother Pat joined us, and I was indulged in a full nine innings.

I try to soak up as much of the atmosphere as possible. My first impression is that this tiny amateur league has developed the “hey, we’re you’re buddies” aura that MLB wants to project. And then some.

The game is held at a local high school field. As we pull into the parking lot, we’re greeted by a sea of hand painted parking signs. Admission is a mere three dollars, and even that is but a “suggested donation.” Making our way to the third base bleachers, I notice smoke from the nearby snack shack. Apparently, the food is cooked on site. What a quaint notion.

The home run contest gets underway while I scan the program, reading over the list of former Cape League players now in the big leagues (there are dozens, including Nomar, Jeff Bagwell, and Barry Zito). Glancing up at the dinger derby, I’m struck by the sight of a patch of Astroturf covering home plate, giving off the putt-putt golf atmosphere that home run derbies so richly deserve.

When the game gets underway, the setting seems too old fashioned to be true. It’s the sort of place that would have Kevin Costner reaching for one of his cell phones and begging someone, anyone, to get “Blitzkrieg Bop” blasting out of the stadium’s p.a. system ASAP. A hush falls over the stadium with each pitch as everyone tunes into the game. There are nearly 6,000 people in attendance, yet it’s so quiet that not only can you hear the ball smack into the catcher’s mitt, but you can also hear the sizzle of the grass as a foul ball burns down the third base line. And each ball fouled out of play sends a pack of kids off in pursuit, even though they know all balls have to be returned. A row in front of us, two grandparents try to coax their grandson into becoming a catcher. (Grandmother: physically it’s the toughest position.” Grandfather: “Mentally too.”) Scanning the crowd I conduct an unofficial poll with the following results: 50% of the fans have white hair and 67% of the fans have Thoreau on their bookshelves.

By the third inning, however, reality has returned. Aerosmith plays between batters, people are talking more during the action, and the grandfather is more Grumpy Old Men than Fields of Dreams (“If I was the dictator of baseball, there’d be no long points. They look like pajamas!”) At this point, I consider reconducting my poll.

Still, most of the evening is a time dash. The stat sheet is littered with Ruthian ERA’s, the highest being Garrett Mock’s 2.42. The West goes up 1-0 in the bottom of the first. The East waits until the top of the ninth before responding, taking a 3-1 lead. No one scores for seven inning and aside from Joey Metropoulos’ RBI double in the first, there are no extra base hits.

While warming up, Mock waves over a pair of 10-year-old boys. Their faces light up with “who, me?” then Mock hands each of them a ball. A grand gesture by any measure, all the cooler when you realize Mock probably has to pay for the balls.

But none of that compares to my favorite part of the game, perhaps of the entire season, which happens shortly after the last out is recorded. The stadium announcer comes over the p.a. with the following: “Plays and coaches, there’s burgers, chip and soda at the concession stand for you.”

Part 2

In early August a large part of my family finally gathered for a long-discussed trip to Fenway. The Red Sox beat the Orioles 6-4 that night and the trek renewed our collective desire to see the Sox stick it to the Yankees.

Through the rest of the summer and into the fall, we kept in close contact as Boston alternately surged and wheezed their way into and through the playoffs, but there were no phone calls following Aaron Boone’s devastating game 7 home run in the ALCS; nothing needed to be said on the subject. That is until my uncle Steve broke the silence with the following email, sent out to the family in the midst of the World Series. (Note: Steve and his family reside in Lowell, Maine. The other character with whom you should be familiar is my 14-year-old cousin Dustin.)

“For as long as I can remember, a fellow named Ned Martin announced Red Sox games on radio. He retired a few years back, and actually passed away suddenly this summer, but he was a great announcer. With an obvious love of language, history, and literature, he would weave these obscure (at least to me) and often funny quotes into his on-air patter which always seemed just perfect for the moment, never pretentious or phony, just a sincere and perfect description of the moment. In signing off the last broadcast of his 30 plus year Sox career, following another season-long 7 month roller coaster ride of triumph and post-season tragedy, he chose this slightly less obscure quote from former baseball commissioner Bart Giammati to say good-bye and describe his feelings for the game. In its entirety it’s really quite wonderful, in part it goes:

‘It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the Spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chilly rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the cold of fall alone.’

“Current announcer Joe Castiglione followed Martin as ‘voice of the Sox,’ and last night continued the tradition (with credit and tribute to Martin) of signing off the last broadcast of the year with Giammati’s quote. Castiglione is a sincere, corny in a good way, non-show biz type whose home run calls, as much as anything, are the soundtrack of summer around here. He’s called a Sox game pretty much every day since spring training started in February, and he lives and dies with this team in a most endearing way. To sit beside the radio in the wee hours of the night, following last night’s game, and finally hear him say goodbye with Giammati’s words, well, it really was the sound of a broken heart. It really was quite a memorable moment.

“Shortly after our trip to Boston, Dustin decided that he’d rather watch or listen to anything instead of those awful, boring, awful, Red Sox games. Because they always suck and lose in the end anyway. The other night he wanted to use the TV to watch a movie rental (which we had for several more days) instead of a playoff game, and got all hot and profane (I’ve actually come to enjoy short sharp bursts of teenage profanity in the home) when I told him I really didn’t have a choice, I had to watch the game. In case you’ve forgotten (which I had) the 14 year-old mind operates in a fairly concrete way. In his mind it was totally ridiculous, I’m sorry, TOTALLY RIDICULOUS!!! That I really had no choice in the matter. I told him that some time between 1967 and 1986 something had happened. Whether it was countless late-night hours sitting with Dad on the porch at camp listening to Ned Martin, or countless crushing defeats at the hands of handsome, talented, but nonetheless evil New Yorkers I couldn’t say, but something had happened. This had become my team. A bond had been created that no man nor judge could break, and that I was certainly powerless to change. I told him that is he showed me a kid at school who claimed to be a Yankees, Lakers or Cowboys fan I’d show him a total phony who didn’t know the first thing about what it’s like to actually care about something other than their pitiful selves (I’ve found this to be an effective method of communicating with today’s young people). I told him this was about DNA, about the stuff that runs in your veins. That this wasn’t choosing the flavor of the week, instead this was about being chosen. And no matter how crushing the end of a season is, you can’t wait to do it all over again next year.

Before last night’s game, Dustin came to me and asked if we could watch the game together. I wept openly and embraced him. O.K., I didn’t weep and embrace, but I do consider that my work here as a parent is largely done. Literally as I was writing this part of the email (truth) Dustin came through the door, home from school saying “I want to knock this kid flat on his ass for talking Yankees all day. I told him his mother and I would support his decision to kick a child’s ass at school even if it took place over a portion of the day, much less the entire day. And why? Because that person is a phony. And deep down even phonies want to be good people, and we can’t help them in their goal to become better people unless we kick their ass and then tell them why we kicked their ass (I think I’m finally getting the hang of this parent stuff). In short, I think there may be hope for our potty mouthed young man.

“From Dustin, to our extended family, to the Red Sox, and ultimately to a theory. 2003 represented the first time this team had won 6 or more post-season games since 1986. 2003 also represented the first year this family sent an entourage of support to Fenway Park to cheer or at least observe their efforts. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I think the data clearly demonstrates a direct connection between the success of the Red Sox franchise and this family’s willingness to share their “essence” (if you will). In fact I will go one step further and extrapolate from the data that had all members of the family attended that August game, a World Series title would have been attained. I’m calling all members, and you know who you are, to join us in Boston next summer. Not just for a game, but a Yankees game. By showing Steinbrenner, and in fact the world, what we think of his little band of evildoers, I believe we can effectively change the legacy of this rivalry. We can no longer dip our toes in the waters of indifference (yes I actually made that one up.) It’s time to gather in Boston as one, and do what we must. If we’re to see the Yankees we’ll need to be on the phone the first hours that tickets go on sale. A simple yea or nay will signal your intent. We have only begun to fight, and I believe we the Yankees exactly where we want them.

Part 3

Over the past two years my brother, Casey, has finally caught the baseball bug. I have been trying to indoctrinate him since the late 70s, but only recently have such efforts taken hold. As two guys who hate the Yankees and love underdogs, we were ecstatic over the prospect of a Cubs/Red Sox World Series. When both of those teams collapsed we considered surrender. We finally caught up by phone while watching game 6 of the World Series, Casey in Syracuse, me in Brewster.

Mike: Were you watching the game while you were out earlier?

Casey: Oh yeah, I was getting shit for it too. I was the only person in the place clapping [for the Marlins]. I got a lot of bad looks because I said out loud, “Bobble head Jeter? No, bobble hands Jeter.

Meanwhile, the FOX TV broadcast of the game shows Josh Beckett striding to the mound to start the ninth.

Mike: Holy cow.

Casey: What?

Mike: Josh Beckett is going to go for the complete game.

Casey: You got that before me.

We realize that our televisions are slightly out of synch, mine being about two seconds ahead of Casey’s.

Mike: It must be that delay again. Oh man, someone’s just shot Jeter!

Casey: What? Jerk.

Bernie Williams comes to the plate.

Casey: This guy’s dangerous. Every time he’s been retired I’m like, go sing me a song, Bernie.

Williams flies to left.

Casey: Did you see Pettite yelling into his glove earlier? He put his glove over his face and you could see him swearing. He’s just screaming. And obviously he might have been saying, “Cheese and rice, golly willagers, hootenanny,” or something like that.

Matsui flies to left.

Mike: Two outs.

Casey: One away, oh my God. How’s that burn in your Cheerios, Steinbrenner?

Mike: Who’s going to make the last out?

FOX cuts to Jorge Posada in the on deck circle.

Casey and Mike: Ooohhh!

Mike: Posada’s going to make the last out. The chinless wonder. He looks like the weasel from the Emmet Otter special.

Casey: [sings “Brothers” from the Emmet Otter Christmas special] Brothers…

Mike: [laughing] Stop, I’m hyperventilating here.

Casey: Brothers….

Mike: Twenty-six outs. The only, the only good thing about the Yankees in the World Series is the possibility of watching them lose.

Posada grounds out to Beckett.

Mike: There it is, how sweet is that?

Casey: Holy crap. Look at them [the Marlins]!

FOX cuts to the Yankee bench.

Mike: Zimmer, maybe you should have run out and tackled Beckett.

Casey: Holy shit. For a club whose farm team had a better attendance last year…I can’t believe Beckett did it. Three days rest and he pitched a complete game.

Mike: A shutout. In Yankee Stadium.

Casey: I would love to be in a fenced-in cage outside of Yankee Stadium right now, telling all the Yankee fans to stick it.

Mike: Like a shark cage?

Casey: Yeah, exactly. But those Yankee fans, they know a guy. Next thing I know I’d be on the back of a tow truck slung around the boroughs of New York City.

FOX shows a replay of Juan Pierre charging in from centerfield.

Casey: Look at that, that is the best look on anyone’s face ever. I could watch that forever.

Mike: Right, and none of the Yankees would react with that amount of joy. For the Marlins, it’s a group of guys winning it for the first time, not a bunch of smug bastards racking it up for the seventeenth time. Sure, the Yankees would be happy, but it’d be more of a sense of entitlement they have.

FOX cuts to a weeping Jorge Posada.

Casey: Poor Jorge.

Mike: And right now the Yankees know they’re going to be in the playoffs next year. There’s no drama.

Casey: I wish I had a DVD-R so I could record this. I’d print it out and put it all over the office.

Cut to the Marlins locker room. Bud Selig readies himself to present the World Series trophy to Marlins owner Jeffery Loria.

Mike: It’s about now that it sinks in: we’re rooting for a Florida team. It’s good, but it could be better.

Casey: Did you see Loria’s shirt the other night? He looked like an Easter basket.

A reporter serves the inevitable “you have to hand it to the Yankees” set up to Jack McKeon.

Mike: What he really wants to say is, “The Yankees and everybody else can kiss my 72-year-old ass.”

Then, after lapsing into a barrage of crass (but obvious) anti-Yankee exchanges, things end on a pensive note.

Casey: You know what kind of depressed me Mike—and I’m sure you’ll be really happy to hear this—I pull into the driveway, and I’m listening to the radio, and I go, “There’s only six more outs of baseball left in the year. Period.”

Mike: Wow, you’re going to miss the season. We can commiserate during the off-season drought.

The Devil Bleeds Dodger Blue by Ken Derr

Tommy Lasorda is the devil incarnate.

Don’t buy it? Let’s check the facts.

Remember that waddle as he ran on to the field to protest a call or hug (and all those hugs—come on, those be reminders to his trading partners that their souls were his) one of his players? Have you ever seen a human move in quite that fashion? All that flesh undulating about, reeking of physical indulgence and defiance of the spirit, wallowing in that ugliest of the seven deadly sins—gluttony. And while we’re defying God, how about pride? I seem to remember a certain commercial in which our malevolent hero sang loudly and often about his reduced pounds via some money-making (can you say greed?) but fraudulent diet. Despite the PR spin his agency liked to play on us, Lasorda was full of anger, often spitting and screaming at umpires in ways that embarrassed children and horrified first row fans. Of course, he was always wrong, because the Dodgers were never safe and they never got anybody out legitimately, but there was Tommy, humiliating his family with unjustified indignance.

His body was also a waddling testament to sloth. No man can eat enough to produce that much gravity. It takes a lifetime of couchdom, in addition to the aforementioned face-stuffing, to generate that much unsightly girth. For the purposes of public decency, I will refrain from illustrating lust, and you, dear readers, can breath a collective sigh of relief.

Now we come to the heart of this man’s diabolical makeup—his envy. Let us go back in time, to that glorious year of 1993, when Barry Bonds first joined the San Francisco Giants and led them to 103 victories. Sadly, in those days, the Atlanta Braves were also in the West Division, and they too had that many victories heading into the final game of the season. Of course, the Giants were playing their dreaded rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers, led by Beelzebub himself. Jump forward to the game, and for just a jot of context, the Dodgers, as always, were hopelessly out of the race. But for Mephistopheles, this game became the season. He did not watch idly as the good and the strong triumph and move forward. Oh no. He used every man on his roster and every pitcher in his pen. To cut a nightmare short, as the Dodgers won the game and prepared to head into the dugout to rightfully mourn yet another losing season, sending the noble and worthy Giants home for the winter (just look at the nicknames—one signifying the great Greek gods of old, and another the sleazy, shifty hustlers of the underworld) El Diablo stormed onto the field in full waddle, short, fat arms doing rings that looked mysteriously like Dante’s circles of hell, speaking in tongues, at least according to eyewitnesses near the spectacle, and radiated a pungent heat that left everyone within a four hundred foot radius suffering from colon trouble within a year.

Think I’m just a bitter homie? Remember what should have been that heart-pumping, fist-in-the-air 2000 Olympic baseball victory from several years back? Don’t you recall sitting on your couch, waiting for the tears to flow that never did? Here were our finest amateurs, in the purest tradition of Olympic excellence, tackling and conquering the pros of the former commie states, and yet there you sat, wondering why it didn’t feel like Lake Placid. And there was Dodger Blue, spouting more nonsense and homilies and tripe, and while you couldn’t digest what was happening within, you simply knew that the appropriate emotional response did not occur. Why? Well, you know why. Because a victory led by the devil is not a victory at all. The fallen angel who rules over the earth can change the laws of physics and push balls further than they ever had a right to go. How else could we ever explain Steve Garvey? That gold medal is beyond tarnished—it is literally dripping with wicked blue iniquity. It has the same credibility as that 1972 Russian basketball Cold War “win” when they put the time back on the clock.

Look, Italians have always been just a little bit closer to sin and salvation than the rest of us. It’s time for somebody to recognize that Jesus may not have come back, but his adversary has. Don’t put Tommy Lasorda in the Hall of Fame. Put him back where he belongs—in hell.

Ken Derr wishes he were Ken Stabler, or Kevin Mitchell, or Jeffrey Leonard, but since he's not, he says: "Let's put these fuckers in the Hall of Fame. Right fucking now." Amen. Good night.

2003 All Star Game...Behind the Music by Jake Austen

Chicago is synonymous with “machine politics” (we used to be synonymous with the broader concepts of political corruption and election fraud...thanks Florida for letting us off the hook!) and the way the machine works is an elaborate system of favors and “hook-ups.” With that in mind I was absolutely shocked when I found myself with 2003 All Star Game tickets in hand acquired through completely legit means. Though I was prepared to work whatever meager connections and "people" I have to get in, somehow the postcard I sent in to the tickets sweepstakes yielded me four seats in the far corner of the towering upper deck. Though they cost in excess of $200 each for the worst seats I've ever had in the excess of 300 Comiskey Park I & II games I've attended, I was thrilled. In the end not having to rely on hook-ups served me well, as I likely would have broke my bank more severely to attend an exhibition game (for example, I ended up sitting next to the Smashing Pumpkins’ audio tech because my buddy who was going to sit with us got a “hook-up” that rewarded him with a lodge seat next to Billy Corgan that cost him half a grand and was within a high school quarterback's throw of our seat).

But that aside, my point in describing the remoteness of my seat is to make it clear that if you watched the game on TV you know what happened better than I. However, I'd love to tell you of some stuff you likely missed on TV...the 2003 All Star Game...Behind the Music!

There were a number of magical musical moments during the All Star Weekend, but the first was definitely the most amazing and I believe the highlight of the entire dozen hours spent at the stadium that weekend. The first night of activities was All Star Sunday, where two exhibition games were scheduled, one between USA born minor leaguers and non-US pre-rookies (“The Futures Game,” which replaced the more engaging and sentimental and superior Old-Timers Game) and one a softball game with celebrities and old-timers teaming up. Though it wasn't too exciting to watch a pitcher's duel between young players we never heard of, the late afternoon was far from unentertaining thanks to presence of nearly EVERY MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL MASCOT! That's right, a couple of dozen giant puppet-headed clowns were gleefully entertaining the fans to the fullest. Some of the puppets were a bit less talented and courser in their humor (the Rockies’ Dinger the Dinosaur and the Expos’ Youppi, for example) than some of the greats (the Pittsburgh Parrot and the classic Mr. Met). And some of the newer, hulking, generic “monster” characters seemed to have been built with pelvic thrusts as their main comedic activity (for example, Cleveland’s Slider, replacing the more offensive Chief Wahoo). But overall these were some entertaining dudes.

Between the baseball and softball games the mascots were introduced and danced on the dugouts while a couple of mini-trucks drove out, each pulling huge trailers with rows of giant amplifiers on them. Following was a large trailer with a rock band setup on it. After the mascots did their dances the band Live was introduced, and from behind the infield they played a couple of their ’90s hits on the rock float. I must say, the band seemed a bit out of place, with shaved heads and mohawks...only the burly, bearded regular-guy bass player looked like he belonged a the ballpark.

Not particularly interested in Alternative Rock as a concept, I spent the band's first song ignoring them and using my binoculars to get good ganders at my favorite mascots. I watched some general goofing, but then I was shocked to see my all time fave, the Padres’ Swingin’ Friar gathering in a couple of his fellow puppets (I believe Boston's Green Monster and Bernie Brewer) and putting their big heads together engaging in what seemed like a serious conversation. When I pointed this out to my wife she conjectured that these guys never see each other, it was like a convention, they were likely happy to see each other and discuss mascot issues. That seemed odd to me considering they were on the big stage, and luckily it turned out to be a bunk theory. For a ripple of a plan was now disseminating from mascot to mascot.

And when Live went into their second song the plan went into action.

Twenty-four giant puppet -headed mascots rushed the stage and formed a sprawling, chaotic, HILARIOUS mascot mosh pit! They were skanking, slamming, pogo-ing and shaking loosely hinged pelvises. Though there were no gorillas (only a lion, a cardinal, a bear and Billy the Marlin), they went APESHIT! It was one of the funniest gags I'd ever seen. They were going nuts, and when the Friar did the Curly/Angus Young lie-on-the-ground-run-in-a-circle move I was sold! This was the most hilarious ballpark rock & roll moment ever.

Notable is the fact that the band didn't seem to appreciate this spontaneous show of support. The lead singer completely ignored the moshers, pretending not to see them and the rockers didn't play to the pit at all. When their dreary song was over they left the stage without even a gesture towards the brilliant physical comics who made their brief set worthwhile. That is, all of them except Beardy, the best Live of them all, who jumped down and hugged the Pittsburgh Parrot.

If anyone doubts that the moshpit was spontaneous, note that when the pop punk band The Ataris played their cover of the hokey baseball hit “Boys of Summer” [Ed note: Penned by satan himself, Don Henley] before Mondays home run contest no such pit was enacted...those mascots had been taken to the woodshed.

There were several other good musical moments All Star Weekend. Brian McKnight matched Dave Winfield for longest softball dinger. Koko Taylor sang the tourist Blues chestnut “Sweet Home Chicago.” Sox legendary organist Nancy Faust rocked a few of her famous rock puns (“Proud Mary” for Scott Rolen...get it, "Rolen on the river...").

And Amy Grant bizarrely signaled for her band to pick up the tempo during “America the Beautiful”...and she was singing to a recording!

But all those paled compared to the punk puppet pandemonium. That marvelous moment proved that those mascots were truly All Stars!

Jake Austen edits Roctober Comics and Music magazine, the journal of popular music's dynamic obscurities, and (with his wife Jacqueline) produces the cable access children’s dance show Chic-A-Go-Go. His new book A Friendly Game of Poker is out from Chicago Review Press this Fall. His work has appeared in The Cartoon Music Book, Nickelodeon Magazine, Playboy, Spice Capades: The Spice Girls Comic Book and Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth. He has attended over 400 White Sox games, even when Gary Redus was the best player.

The New York Mess...I Mean Mets: A Special Zisk Report

Editor’s Note: The past two seasons have not been kind to Mets fans. With many Zisk’s staff of writers based in and around New York, it’s inevitable that the topic of this team’s downfall would be top of mind. So below are three views on the horror reality show that is the New York Metropolitans.

If I Were the Mets’ GM… by Lisa Alcock

Usually, from April to June of every year I take great pride in watching my hometown team, the Detroit Red Wings, play for the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case this year. No, I'm not bitter about that, not at all. I'm not bitter that my team lost to a team named after some lame Disney movie starring Emilio Estevez. Not me, nope.... So now that hockey has ended with the NJ Devils winning the Stanley Cup I feel I can put my full attention towards baseball. My only problem is that I just can’t seem to get into watching the Mets this year. To put it mildly, they suck. They’re in last place in their division. Hell, they’re not even playing .500 ball for crying out loud. As I write this they’ve won 36 games and lost 46. I have yet to get my ass out to Shea yet and it’s July. This is all new for me. Usually by this time I’ve already been to at least four to five games. A little over a month ago the Mets fired their GM, Steve Phillips. My running joke was that I was taking over as the head honcho. Then I thought about it: if given the chance what would I do to bring people back to Shea and how would I make a better team? What follows are some promotional ideas and trade ideas to get people—mainly me—back into the stadium…some of which might be a little unrealistic…but I mean, c’mon, so is my idea of being the new GM.

1) Win a Date with Joe McEwing Night. Ok, I admit, I’m being a total girl with this one. (And why is it my number one idea here? Who knows, maybe it’s my wishful thinking.) But please, he’s such an awesome utility player…and he’s pretty damn cute too. Why wouldn’t a girl want to go out with him? This promotional night is definitely aimed at the 20-37 female age bracket.

2) Bring back RC Cola to Shea Stadium. The appropriate beverages are crucial to any baseball game. I can’t recall when I was introduced to RC Cola, but I love it. I’d heard that it was offered at Shea up until the 1980’s, though, Evan—who claims he’s a life-long Mets fan—can’t give me a definitive answer as to when they stopped selling it at Shea.

3) Let’s get some vegetarian fare at the ballpark. How about a few veggie only food booths? I’d really like it if they had tofu dogs, veggie chik’n sandwiches and veggie burgers. Hey, vegetarians are baseball fans too. Don’t get me wrong, I love the overpriced beer, but that’s not a meal…well, maybe after three or four…*hiccup*.

4) Trade Armando Benitez1…PLEASE! And what the hell is he doing at the All Star game?? I’m so tired of screaming at the TV whenever they bring him in. He’s can’t strike anyone out to save his life. Some might ask me, ‘Was he ever any good?’ I think my grandma can pitch better than Armando. Wait a minute, maybe I should call my grandma...

5) Trade Alomar2, Burnitz3 and yes, Piazza. I like Robbie, but I think it was a bad move to obtain him in the first place. He probably misses Omar in Cleveland. I tell you, those times I did see the Indians, there was nothing more perfect that the Vizquel-Alomar-Thome double play.

6) Fans will get the chance to guess the number of errors committed by a certain position player in a particular inning of the game. Ballots will be available prior to the game and must be submitted before the National Anthem is sung. Fans who guess correctly will win that amount times $100! Example, three errors on the 1st baseman will get one lucky fan $300! The Mets have already proven they have money to throw away by acquiring players who don’t perform, so why not spend a few more dollars on this promotional night?

7) Be the Lead Off Hitter Night! (Right-handers only.). You think you can do a better job? Well, step right up! Arrive at batting practice and a panel of judges will decide who’s the best from a pool of potential hitters. (Note: only the first 100 will be allowed to “try out.”)

8) Be the new 2nd baseman!! Actually, I wouldn’t mind trying out for this position. I need a better job anyhow. And, I feel that my two years’ experience on my company softball team qualifies me to try out for the Mets.

9) Annihilate the “Up with Pepsi” people. (A.k.a. the “Pepsi party patrol”, those annoying, overly-excitable people who shoot crappy t-shirts into the stands directly at peoples’ heads.) One lucky winner will be able to turn the T-shirt guns on the Pepsi people. Kind of reminiscent of a firing line….

If the Mets lose—which they seem to be doing quite often lately—one lucky winner will get to pelt as many rocks as she/he can at the incredibly creepy, giant-headed Mr. Met. This will be a sponsored event…nothing like “Sausage-gate” in Milwaukee.

So, rather than the Mets just throwing in the towel for the remainder of the season I am sending this list to them. Hopefully they’ll take the rest of my ideas into consideration. If not, well, I guess I can concentrate on college football season, which begins before Labor Day. And I think I can get some Red Wings pre-season games on that pay-per-view hockey channel…

1 Author’s note: prior to publication…the Mets did trade Armando to who else? The Yankees. Man, that’ll be quite interesting. [Editor’s note: Benitez lasted less than a month in the Bronx—he was banished to Seattle for former Yankee bullpen mainstay Jeff Nelson.]

2 Author’s note: Also prior to publication of this fine zine yet another wish of the writer of this article came true: the Mets did indeed unload Robbie to the White Sox for three minor league players, an infielder and two pitchers.

3 Author’s note: Yet another trade! Burnitz went to the Dodgers on July 14th. In unrelated news, also going to the Dodgers that day from the Newark Bears: Rickey Henderson. Woo hoo, Rickey!

Mets Thoughts by Mike Bonomo

The Mets finally got the food court that is Mo Vaughn to waddle out of Shea. The Mets get $25 million from insurance for this because he has spent 90 days on the DL. Apparently the only one stupider than the Mets, who signed Vaughn, is the guy who wrote up the policy. I'd love to be his boss just so I could fire him. I guess Mo's knees just couldn't hold up his weight plus the extra pounds in his wallet from the money they gave him. The Mets negotiation: "Oh, you've been out of baseball for a year and weigh over 300 pounds? How much can we give you?" Of course this is the team that traded Nolan Ryan.

On top of Vaughn leaving, whatever it was that had been playing 2nd base went to the With Sox. Watching Roberto Alomar play was the closest thing I've seen to a player taking a recliner and a newspaper to the plate since Bobby Bonilla. Alomar also forgot to pack his gold gloves when he moved to New York.

I was glad to see Benitez on the All Star team because it prepared me for his trip across town. After he blows a few games in tight spots I'm sure Cashman will be looking for a new job.

I would love for the Mets to trade the apple that comes out of the hat, the airplane race, and the three card monte for kids to the Brewers in exchange for the sausage race. When Pittsburgh comes to the Mets again maybe we could get Randall Simon to hit Mr. Met on the head. It would make me happy if Mr. Met would ask Mike Tyson for an autograph if you know what I mean. It's hard enough enduring the team, never mind the constant embarrassment of having such a dumb ass mascot.

I still feel better about this Met team than I have in over a year. Reyes, Wiggington, Phillips and Duncan are showing some guts out there. With Piazza at first and Wilson/Phillips behind the plate, the Mets are much better. The young players on the team are giving me the toughest gift you can give a fan of a last place team, hope for next year. (Or the year after, or the year after that...) All the Mets need is some starting pitching, middle relief and a closer, and they're set.

I have mixed emotions about Detroit beating the Mets '62 won-loss record. Maybe we could loan them Mr. Met for inspiration.

Mike Bonomo is currently playing guitar with his band The Miscreants. He has written for The Teen Scene and PC Magazine. He likes bowling and softball and has been a lifelong Met fan, which may explain his drinking problem.

You Gotta Believe...That It Can't Sound Any Worse by Steve Reynolds

The past two seasons have been painful to be a Mets fan, with botched front office moves, odd injuries, rumors and haircuts stirring up more news than the team’s shoddy play. But what makes watching this team even worse is one single factor—Fox Sports New York and MSG announcer Fran Healy. After many years of watching Mets games, nothing makes me cringe more than the sound of Healy pontificating.

Healy has the amazing ability to take the most glaringly obvious play and somehow repeat exactly what happened and make it sound like sturdy, in-depth analysis. For example, one evening I’m pretty sure I heard Healy talking about the Mets lack of hitting this way: “If you’re not hitting as a team, you can’t score any runs.”

[Pause to let it sink in.]

Really, Mr. Healy? And here I thought the Mets could just buy runs by paying off the umpires and not even bother with that pesky thing we call going up to bat.

Healy has ruined more games for me this season more than any other because he’s been paired with Ted Robinson, perhaps best known as the tennis voice of NBC. Robinson is a fine play by play man, and does a great job with the Mets radio broadcasts. But he’s content to let Healy and his hair-brained comments dominate most telecasts. Howie Rose, Healy’s partner since 1996, has been moved over to the radio side of things for much of the season. The few times Rose has worked with Healy I have let out an audible sigh of relief because I know Rose won’t allow Healy to say something insane like, “Tony Clark is swinging a really hot bat” when the first baseman is batting under .200.

Let me put my Healy hatred another way—I’d rather hear Tom Seaver and Keith Hernandez (two of the biggest egos in baseball) call a game together than suffer through Healy. While Seaver and Hernandez might spend much of their time behind the mic saying how much better they were than today’s players, I’m sure you’d never hear one of them say, “Benitez has really turned it around” when it was obvious to anyone that he hadn’t.

On a non-Healy note, I do miss Gary Thorne on the WB 11 telecasts. He made Tom Seaver bearable (which is a tall order in itself), he made fun of Seaver’s pomposity, he always sounded like he was excited to be at the ballpark and most importantly, he was consistently funny. Thorne’s replacement, Dave O’Brien, is good, but he doesn’t put Seaver is his place enough.

I know many people have suggestions about what free agents to bring in next season to make the Mets winners—personally I think the team should stick with the kids and let them grow another season. Who cares if having a young team robs Tom Glavine of his chance to get 300 wins? If he wanted that chance, he should have stayed in Atlanta. My suggestion for the Wilpon family is to bring in some free agents on the broadcast side of things. Bring back Thorne and Tim McCarver to do the WB 11 games. Many folks hate McCarver, but he’s miles better than anyone else out there. Dump Healy, and rotate Rose, Robinson and Hernandez on Fox Sports and MSG. And then when Al Leiter retires after next season, grab him as your color guy and let Hernandez do Brooklyn Cyclones games instead. Leiter has shown during his brief stints on ESPN in 1998 and 1999 and being miked during games by Fox that he has no problem speaking his mind and has a great ability to analyze baseball in simple terms.

Lastly, thank you Bob Murphy for a lifetime’s worth memories in the radio booth. Listening in the car to a Mets game will never be the same.

The Trail of Tears: Every City I Move To Has a Shitty Baseball Team by Lisa Alcock

To my utter and complete horror, it was recently brought to my attention by a friend of mine that every city in which I’ve chosen to live has had a baseball team with a shitty record: Detroit, Milwaukee and NYC (actually, I live in Queens and am a Mets fan). I can’t believe I’ve had such an impact, but let’s look at the facts.

Exhibit A:I grew up in Canton, Michigan and the baseball team of my youth was the Detroit Tigers. I loved going to the corner of Michigan and Trumbull in Detroit to watch Sweet Lou (Whitaker) and Alan Trammell play. And who could forget the 1984 World Series? I couldn’t have been happier. But, every year after that the Tigers have yet to reclaim any sort of similar record. I got a little excited before this season began because the heroes from my youth: Alan, Lance (Parish) and Gibby (Kirk Gibson) were coming back to manage and coach the Tigers. I moved from Michigan to Wisconsin in 1994, so I cannot be held responsible for their record from 1995 to the present. Though, my parents still live in Michigan. Perhaps it’s their doing that the Tigers have only won 25 games this year and are on track to be worse than the 1962 Mets.

Exhibit B:

In 1994 I moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to attend grad school. I’m not sure I can be held responsible for the abysmal Brewers record though. I never attended a game at County Stadium and I was on hiatus from baseball. There was a period in my life that I didn’t pay attention to baseball [gasp!] on account of being disgusted with the sport. So my friend just might be wrong about my influence on Milwaukee’s horrid record. Though, wait a minute…I was following Cal Ripken’s consecutive game record…which I did watch, on TV. I am not sure if this actually counts as my re-introduction to baseball. Maybe I am responsible for their terrible record. Hmmm…

Exhibit C:

In 1999 I moved to NYC. Let’s see how the Mets have done since I’ve lived here: 1999: NLCS champs, not bad…but they could have gone farther. 2000: Heartbreaking loss to the Yankees in the World Series. 2001: They didn’t make the playoffs. 2002: Acquired very expensive players who didn’t produce, fired Bobby V. and hired Art Howe. 2003: I don’t think I need to comment on their current last place status.

So there you have it. Apparently I really do possess the power to influence a baseball team solely on where I choose to live. Now I think I can put my supernatural powers to work in a more positive fashion. So, I’ve decided to move. Hand me the Village Voice classifieds. You can reach me at my new address in the Bronx…

By day, Lisa Alcock is a copyeditor at a legal publishing company. By night, she can usually be found drinking a pint of Guinness at a local pub, or at home watching Law & Order reruns and SportsCenter. It is her dream job to work at ESPN. The author also admits that she has not read the Chicago Manual of Style in its entirety. Kip says of the author: “When she steps inside the white lines herself, she can bring it!”

The Year of the Braves by Josh Rutledge

It’s my belief that every person on this Earth is endowed with at least one special gift. Some are born with the gift of music. Others are natural athletes. A few are great orators. Many are brilliant artists. A handful can breathe fire. Several can open cans of tuna with their teeth.

And then there’s me.

I, Joshua Blake Rutledge, possess one special gift: the ability to ruin people’s lives. At least in the case of baseball. My endorsement is more like a career death sentence. Go take a look at your Zisk back issues. Read my contributions. Remember my piece on Rico Brogna and how he was so underrated? He retired mere months after I wrote that article. I did him in. I single-handedly destroyed the career of a two-time 100 RBI man. He’s now forgotten, and it’s all my fault. Another time, I similarly cursed Andy Ashby.

Most recently, I jinxed the 2002 Phillies. And then there were my oh-so-brilliant pre-season predictions last year. I probably doomed the Detroit Tigers to 100 years in the cellar.

It’s obvious that there’s a Josh Rutledge Zisk jinx.  Just ask Pete Rose.

Spider-Man learned that great power brings great responsibility. I’ve learned that too, and that’s why I’ve decided to write this piece. Like Spider-Man, I find myself obligated to use my gift to combat evil. And what single evil could be more evil than the Atlanta Braves? The heinous Atlanta Braves! The diabolical Atlanta Braves! Ted Turner’s pact with the devil has ensured that the Braves cannot lose. Key players leave each year, but new recruits always arrive and blossom into stars once they’ve tasted the mandatory demonic juices. Several Braves, I've heard, are actually robots programmed for baseball supremacy. It’s just not fair.

Therefore, I now present my predictions for the remainder of the Braves’ 2003 campaign. As I write this, it’s July 16th, 2003. The Braves are 61-32, which puts them wight-and-a-half games ahead of second place Philadelphia. They’ve got the division locked up, right? Of course.

(You’re reading this in the fall. So by now, you’ll know whether I really possess the “gift of jinx” or am just a baseball ignoramus)

August 1
Polygamy is legalized in the United States. Chipper Jones immediately marries the 33 Hooters girls that have mothered his children. He celebrates by going four-for-four with two home runs in a 7-1 win over the Dodgers.

August 5
In a shocking move, Gary Sheffield holds a press conference and announces that he’s a spoiled, bigheaded jerk. That night in Milwaukee, he homers four times to lead the Braves to a 31-7 victory over the Brewers. Pitcher Russ Ortiz shocks the fans by hitting a pair of home runs and a standup triple. The Braves now find themselves leading second-place Montreal by a full 12 games.

August 12
Javy Lopez’s 35th home run of the season gives the Braves a 1-0 win over San Diego. Horacio Ramirez picks up his 13th win of the year. Jung Bong levitates out of the bullpen, and the crowd goes wild.

August 13
The video for Rafael Furcal’s new rap single, “Sweet Swingin’ Stick”, debuts at #1 on MTV’s Total Request Live.

August 21
The Braves complete a four-game sweep of the Giants with a dominating 7-0 victory. Andruw Jones hits his 43rd home run of the year, and Greg Maddux tosses his second consecutive perfect game. The Braves now lead second-place Florida by 18 games.

August 27
Marcus Giles cures cancer and parts the Red Sea. Later he doubles twice and leads the Braves to a 17-2 win over the hapless Mets.

September 5
Chipper Jones flies to Switzerland so that a team of renowned brain surgeons can remove his massive ego. Darren Bragg takes Chipper’s place in the lineup that night and hits for the cycle. The Braves beat the Pirates 3-1.

September 11
Julio Franco hits two inside-the-park home runs, and the Braves complete a four-game sweep of the last place Phillies with a 5-2 victory. Vinny Castilla tries his hand at pitching and strikes out Pat Burrell twice.

September 13
Gary Sheffield comes down with a terrible case of humility and is immediately placed on the disabled list. Still, the Braves top Florida 8-3. John Smoltz picks up his 62nd save.

September 23
The Braves slam the Expos 12-1 as Russ Ortiz wins his 29th game of the season. After the game, Henry Blanco flies to Iowa and heals seven blind mutes.

September 26
Roberto Hernandez finds out that he’s been cast to play Professor Dumbledore in the next Harry Potter film.

September 28
The Braves wrap up their regular season with a 10-0 win over the Phillies. In order to ensure that the Braves don’t choke in the playoffs, God himself endows every Brave with superpowers. He also arranges for Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi to go down with hamstring injuries.

No jinxing necessary here. The Braves will still choke.

Josh Rutledge lives in southeastern Pennsylvania and edits the on-line rock magazine NOW WAVE. He likes full-figured women, ’70s punk rock, and 20-ounce bottles of Coca-Cola Classic. Contrary to popular belief, he is neither a drug addict nor a Journey fan. His favorite ballplayer is Bobby Abreu.

Ryne Duren: One Day at a Time by Tim Hinely

Baseball and alcohol have always seemed to go hand in hand (at least as much as football and alcohol) and baseball has always had its share of drunks, guys who liked to tip more than a few back during their careers. Mickey Mantle was said to be sloshed on many an occasion while wearing the Yankee’s pinstripes. Old-time slugger Hack Wilson was said to be someone you wouldn’t wanna be around while he was hoisting a brewski and the same with Albert “Mr. Happy” Belle. In 1985 Sam McDowell called himself “the biggest, most hopeless, and most violent drunk in all of baseball.” Then there’s Bob Welch and Darryl Strawberry...well, we don’t even wanna get into those guys.

But what about Ryne Duren? Rinold George Duren Jr.? Who’s Ryne Duren, you say? Well, ol’ Ryne was probably baseball’s biggest AND most hopeless drunk (no, fuck you Sam). Duren’s career last for 11 years (from 1954-1965) and in that time span he played for seven different teams but perhaps his most prominent years were with the New York Yankees from 1958-1961.

For starters, the few photos I’ve seen of Duren made him look like nothing more than a reject from Revenge of the Nerds on a truly bad bender. He didn’t have the brash good looks of a Mantle or a Yogi Berra (snick snick) but what Duren lacked in Mel Gibson-ish looks he more than made up for in his fastball. Duren was known as baseball’s first “truly frightening power reliever.” He wore these thick coke-bottle glasses, probably couldn’t see a damn thing when he was straight, much less schnockered and this guy threw wall to wall heat. Rumor has it Mantle told him he was the fastest ever and even an authority as uh, knowledgeable as Tony Kubek said Duren tossed the ball faster than the Texas Tornado, Nolan Ryan (and Duren’s 87 strikeouts in 76 innings in 1958 and 96 strikeouts in 77 innings in 1959 is no small feat).

But alas, the powers that be in the office of the Yankees decided it was time to get rid of ol’ Ryne after the 1961 season. His game was falling off, his arm seemed to be losing strength, and, as Duren himself puts it, “By that time I was boozing quite a bit and my body was beginning to deteriorate. That’s why the Yankees got rid of me in 1961.” Well, there you have it. But this is no case of a guy quietly exiting the majors for comfy/pickled retirement years of lazing in the Lazy Boy. The life of hell was just beginning for Ryne Duren.

It all came down to self-esteem and Duren had none of it. “All I wanted out of life was for people to like me,” he once said. One time, while trying to impress Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford, Duren got so loaded that both Mick and Ford came over to him and told him he couldn’t handle his liquor and to stop it. So completely hurt and embarrassed by this episode, Duren began to drink all by himself. Back in those days the apparent method of alcohol “rehab” was to trade the lush to another team. And this happened to Duren five more times from 1961-1965.

After hearing how hopeless of a drunk Duren was no team in baseball wanted him and a week after he tried to jump off a bridge he was out of baseball for good. From this point on Duren tried too many self-destructive acts to mention. He passed out with a cigarette and burned his house down. He zonked out while driving and slammed into another car. He blacked out one time and awoke face down in a swimming pool. He eventually was arrested for drunk driving and then, his wife left him.

On New Year’s Eve in 1965 he tried to cash in his own chips once again by parking his car on a railroad track in San Antonio, Texas. He sat there hoping to get creamed by the locomotive but instead the cops came and arrested him before the train could plow him down. If it wasn’t for bad luck, Duren would have had no luck at all. After that incident he hung around with the bums for a while before checking himself into the San Antonio State Mental Hospital. After 82 days there drying out with tranquilizers he went on the wagon for nearly a year, but didn’t have the strength to stay sober.

After a stint at the DePaul Rehabilitation Hospital he tried to kill himself a third time by sitting in a Milwaukee motel room for ten days and attempting to drink himself to death. After lapsing in and out of consciousness for a week, a stroke of better judgment came to him. As Duren puts it, “As a human being I was one big mess,” he said, “But I felt helpless to do anything about it.”

After a few more false starts at sobriety Duren was finally able to make it work with his third try at rehab. Duren finally stopped drinking in May of 1968 and since then he has devoted his life to helping professional and college athletes deal with alcohol and drug problems. In 1972 he became director of the alcohol rehab program at the Stoughton Community Hospital in Wisconsin and he even married a nurse he met there. He worked at that program until 1980. Since then he has written three books about his life, career and comeback from alcoholism (the same disease that apparently killed Mantle).

Today Duren, 73, still lives in his native Wisconsin and still works as an alcohol and drug abuse counselor. He works with a group called Winning Beyond Winning which is a group of ex-athletes helping people prevent the kind of life he (and many others in pro sports) have experienced.

Author’s note: Some of the information from this article came from a book called Baseball Babylon by Dan Gutman and two Internet articles on baseball; one by Chris Olds (entitled “One Baseball Card Can Reveal a lot From the Past”) and one by ESPN’s Rob Neyer (entitled “Loose Cannons Sometimes Go Astray”).

Tim Hinely loves the Pittsburgh Pirates and lives in Portland, Oregon. He has been publishing his own zine, Dagger, for several years now. Send him $3.50 to see a copy to: PO Box 820102 Portland, OR 97282-1102 or write at:

Why I Think Roger Clemens is a Weiner by Kip Yates

I love to root against Roger Clemens. I can't stand to see him win. I didn’t always feel this way. I grew up in Texas pulling for Roger Clemens but all that changed in 1999: the day the Rocket became a friggin’ New York Yankee. I pulled for the guy as he led the Texas Longhorns to a win in the deciding National Championship game in 1983. I pulled for him when he was selected 19th overall by the Boston Red Sox in that year’s draft. I pulled for him as he left game six of the 1986 World Series against the New York Mets because he had done it. He had led the Boston Red Sox to their first championship in almost 70 years. The Rocket had led his team to the promised land.

Boston had suffered numerous midsummer blues and the occasional October collapse throughout their colorful history. All the while, their hated American League rival, the New York Yankees, seemed to win every year. Baseball fans in Boston had suffered a dry spell that saw our grandfathers, long passed, who had rested their hopes on Red Sox teams led by Ted Williams, Dom Dimaggio, and Johnny Pesky, bequeath their suffering to their sons, our fathers, who similarly were wiped out by placing their hopes on Carl Yazstremski’s team and a little later, that of Carlton Fisk. Now, our fathers were gingerly placing their hopes on Dave Henderson, Dwight Evans, an elder Jim Rice, and a youthful Clemens. Their sons would not suffer the same defeat that killed their fathers and was summarily closing their own casket. No, their sons would know the sweet taste of victory. They would know what it was like to thumb their nose at New York and give their own “Bronx cheer”. When Roger Clemens excused himself from the remainder of game six, the Red Sox were only three innings from securing their first championship since 1918...and then all hell broke loose. You know the story. I don't have to rehash it. You know what happened and what didn't happen. What you may not be aware of though was that the Rocket tanked it long before Schiraldi grabbed the baseball, long before Bob Stanley's wild pitch, long before that ball went through Bill Buckner's legs. Roger Clemens was the man in 1986: winning the Cy Young, the MVP and setting a major league record by striking out 20 batters in a game. If there was anyone you wanted on the mound for the final out of the “final game” of the series, it was Roger Clemens; and he couldn't play through the blistering pain for a few more innings. For me that was when the myth of the Rocket started to show some cracks. You have to want to be on the mound when the deciding out is made. Especially if that final out relieves a city, such as Boston, from the long dark shadow baseball had cast upon it. And Roger Clemens didn't want to be there! It looked to me that he was content to watch his mates hold the lead he held when he left. After all, he was young; he had his whole career ahead of him to hoist his hand in the air, a number one gesture springing forth. What a cocky sum'bitch!

So now you know, Boston has not won a World Series in eighty-five years. What is worse, the Rocket has gone on to a Hall of Fame/Player of the Century career. Sure, most of those 300 wins happened while he was with the Red Sox. He continued to pitch reasonably and considerably well, despite what the Red Sox brass had thought. He even won two more Cy Young awards in Boston. However, in the Winter of 1997, Clemens, tired of the verbal abuse heaped on him by General Manager Dan Duquette, took his ball and went home—to Canada. The Rocket went through a rebirth as a Toronto Blue Jay, winning the Cy Young award twice more. Even then, I still had a considerable amount of respect for Clemens. I remember watching the television footage of him glaring at Mr. Duquette sitting in the Fenway box seat as he walked off the mound after a sterling performance against his former team and cheering for him. My respect for Clemens began to falter soon after though and since has continued to fall into an abyss of hatred.

In 1999, Clemens was traded to the (hated) Yankees. The boy who was denied a ring with Boston finally won a ring as an old man for the pinstripers, just one of the many, many, mercenaries hired by George Steinbrenner over the years. My respect for Roger Clemens dwindled slowly like black strap molasses leaking from a pan of southern fried goodness.

Originally, I was excited at the prospect of the hometown Houston Astros securing Clemens from the Blue Jays. Of course that excitement came to a screeching halt when Astros general manager, Jerry Hunsicker, proclaimed that he would love to have Roger Clemens but he was not going to meet the three year, 30-million dollar request that Clemens and his agents, the Hendry Brothers, were asking. Hunsicker held that Roger had a chance to get “Kevin Brown” money two years ago when he signed as a free agent with Toronto and he was not going to let this trade become a trade-and-sign. Good for you, Jerry, I concur. He can't treat a trade like a free agent signing. He missed that boat two years ago. Of course, Steinbrenner gave Roger everything he wanted. My Astros missed out on Clemens and I hated neither Hunsicker nor the grocer (owner Drayton Maclane made his fortune in the grocery business) for missing out on the Clemens sweepstakes.

No, my vitriol was saved for Roger Clemens.

Since the trade to the Yankees, Roger Clemens has done incredibly stupid act after annoying act. If he isn’t making a public spectacle of himself by touching the bust of Babe Ruth in centerfield before starting his home games, then it’s something else. There was the whole bean ball war with the Mets: The beaning of Piazza in an interleague game followed by the bat-throwing incident during the 2000 World Series. This was followed by the continued bad blood between Clemens and the Red Sox. Sitting on 299 wins and needing a victory against his former team for number 300, at the request of the Hall of Fame, he actually tried to wear a glove with a patch with the number 300 emblazoned on it. Clemens did not get number 300 that day and when he tried against the Detroit Tigers, one of the worst baseball teams to put on a uniform, he was denied again. The Roger Clemens number 300 train, sponsored by ESPN, pulled into the windy city and he was outdueled by fellow Texan and 20 strikeout pitcher, Kerry Wood. Woo hoo! Sure he finally got number 300 but it took him almost three weeks and stops in three cities before he joined the 300 club.

Then it got worse. Clemens started blabbing about how when he goes into the Hall of Fame; he wants to go in as a Yankee. But HOF executives claim that he will wear the cap of the team that he became a HOFer in and that my fine friend is the Boston Red Sox. Suck on that Roger! So what does he do next? He releases a statement saying if he is not allowed to go into the HOF as a Yankee, then he won't go to the ceremony at all, probably becoming the first player in history to raise a stink about something that cannot happen for over five full years. So again, he will just take his ball and go home. Well do us all a favor Roger and puh-lease, make an ass out of yourself one more time.

You big weenie!

An actor by trade, Kip Yates decided to give this writing thing a shot. Unfortunately, his wife Jamie refuses to listen anymore about the curse on the Red Sox and cannot bear anymore rants about Astros postseason failures ("He swung at ball four! Did you see that? Why did he swing at ball four...Oh my God Walt Weiss doesn't make that play again in a million chances...I hate you Kevin Brown, I really, really hate you...D-a-v-e- S-m-i-t-h?), so he relegates most of his time hating and consequently writing about the Yankees. Kip would like to thank Mike at Zisk for giving this poor scribe a chance. Oh yeah, Kip is expecting his first child this October and baby Yates will be indoctrinated into the world of baseball at a very young age.