Thursday, June 28, 2007

Haiku: Presence

Win two-nine-seven
A gift, precious, from the clouds
Wright serves tea for two

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Crazy Keith's Corner: The Useless Department

A rain-shortened Mets win didn't mean we got less from the mind of Keith Hernandez:

(Keith gives a compliment to Cardinals pitcher Anthony Reyes, then pauses)
Keith: I should clarify, that's Anthony Reyes. I just confused the producer in the truck. He's yelling in my ear screaming, "Jose doesn't pitch!"
Gary: That's okay, you confuse us sometimes too.

(As the rain started falling again, after a rain delay that push the game's start back)
Ron: (To Keith) You're on a hot streak -- two 11 inning games, one rain delay and now this.
Keith: And I got a 76 mile drive to Sag Harbor. (Gary and Ron laugh) Hey, I gotta get up and pack in the morning.

(After a discussion where Keith and Gary talk about Hernandez's brother also being named Gary, Ron chimes in)
Ron: You know, Gar in French means war.
Gary: Well, that's spelled differently, right
Keith: Right, G-A-R-R-E?
Ron: Yes, that's it.
Gary: You guys are a fountain of information.
Ron: We are the Ministers of the Useless!

And I so wished I had been recording when Keith and Ron started talking about having TVs in the clubhouse to watch the game as it was going on. Keith definitely seemed to not be a fan of Tim McCarver.

Crazy Keith's Corner: Look for the Union Label

If Keith goes missing this week, I believe I will have a prime suspect:

(SNY shows a shot of a worker sitting down on a part of CitiField peering into Shea)
Keith: Looks like a union job there..
Ron: Oh no, you want to take on the New York unions?
Gary: I just want the unions to know it's K-E-I-T-H, H-E-R... (all dissolve into laughter)

And Ron isn't slacking in his comments even with Keith back:
(Gary mentions that the Cardinals pitcher Troy Cate, who went to Brigham Young, was suspended twice for steroid use in the minor leagues)
Ron: If ya can't trust someone from Brigham Young, who can you trust?

I will say one thing--you CAN'T trust Scott Schoeneweis.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Best Picture Ever

No further comment needed...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Haiku: Physical Graffiti

Sosa's on early
Green's night flight yields honor late
Streak stands at four games

Haiku: Houses of the Holy

A sweep satisfies
Over hills and far away
The Red Birds are next

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Burn That Feels Good

I went to Shea on this gorgeous Sunday for my first home day game of the season. My long-time friend Molly has a weekend ticket pack in a front row box in the upper deck, so the sun was merciless on me (and I'm sure her as well). As I sit in my apartment writing this, oh how I wished I had used some of my aunt's sunscreen. It was her first game at Shea in 22 years and somehow she was more prepared. Thankfully it was a great game to witness from the moment Jose Reyes scampered around the bases in the bottom of the first.

(Here's a bit of trivia--the game we saw all those years ago was Dwight Gooden's 20th win. Who would have thought it would be the only time he'd hit that mark in his career.)

Crazy Keith should be back tomorrow night, but I'll be rocking out to Wilco instead. The Keith saga will continue Tuesday night.

Haiku IV

A day of running
Streaker graces friend's wedding
Castro brings home win

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Crazy Keith's Corner: Et Tu, Darling?

As my poetic colleague Mike noted below, Tom Glavine's run to that hit gladiator movie finally moved up a notch. I swear that at points Glavine had a look on his face that said, "Screw this, I am going to win this entire game myself." And I loved his post-game comments on SNY--"I was embarrassed by those last two starts."

Of course, this will all be for naught if they can't win one of the next two. A series win would be helpful for the team's (and the fansbase's) confidence.
Still no Keith Hernandez (I assume he'll be back for the St. Louis series), but Ron Darling had a total Keith-like moment when Marco Scutaro was inserted as a pinch hitter:
Gary: Scutaro is a former met, having been a bench player in 2002 and 2003.
(20 seconds go by)
Ron: Hey, didn't Scutaro used be a Met?
I almost spit out my iced tea after that one.
El Duque, we need something good tonight...

Haiku III

Glavine, glacier-like
Approaches 300 wins
Shawn Green awakens

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Haiku II

Ouch, shamed by the Twins
Santana: No K's, no runs
Mets woes continue

(Note: Haiku on a baseball site. Kind of lame, I know. I don't necessarily enjoy writing haiku, yet I've found that my dabblings in the genre can be quite powerful. Last Friday, for instance, just thinking about dipping my toes in the pond of 5-7-5 poetry prompted Oliver Perez's brilliant outing in the Bronx, which ended the Mets losing streak. At that point I thought the Mets were back on track and thus there would be no further need for Zisk-generated haiku. Apparently, however, either my powers have diminished or the Mets suck more than I thought. But we gotta believe, right? Therefore, I vow to write a haiku for each Mets game until such point as they have won two (2) straight series.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Julio Did That?

Boy, that game sucked. The error above happened before we could even sit down. It may be the worst Mets game I've ever been to. Once the Johan Santana no-hitter was broken up, Brian, Dave and I got around to talking music (I found another Young Fresh Fellows collector--yeah!) until Julio Franco came up as a pinch hitter in the eighth. Dave mentioned that the sneaker collector had a long list of interesting credits in his career, which I didn't believe until we used Brian's superduper-not-quite-as-cool as-an-iPhone phone to look it up on All Everything Guide. I mean, look at this list:

2378 B.C. -- Fire (inventor of)
1 A.D -- The Birth of Jesus Christ ("Wise Man # 2")
1286 -- Guttenberg Bible (executive producer, Spanish translator, bench coach)
1608 -- The Mayflower ("Cook # 2")
1878 -- Transcontinental Railroad (cameo as driver of golden spike)
1933 -- The Jazz Singer ("Dancer # 2)
1965 -- The Kinks "You Really Got Me" (assistant engineer to Shel Talmy)
1969 -- Gimmie Shelter ("Hell's Angel guard #2")

Damn, this guy gets around!

Crazy Keith's Corner: M.I.A. AGAIN

A few weeks ago when Keith Hernandez stated on the air that he was "going full bore" in July and August, I guess he wasn't kidding. Once again it was a two man booth of Gary Cohen and Ron Darling. We didn't get to hear anything truly crazy, but we did get to see this:

After all the quad talk, that's a good sight, as was this. I'm going to tonight's game with my friend Brian, his pal Dave and someone else I don't know on our rain delay make-up tix from the Mets-Cubs last month. I must admit, I am really looking forward to see Johan Santana in person.

But I hope he gets his ass kicked.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Crazy Keith's Corner: Rain Delays and Saturdays...

A lengthy rain delay? A marathon AL-like game? Holy crap, get Keith, Gary and Ron a gig at Caroline's!

In the bottom of the 8th:
Keith: What inning is it?
Gary: Bottom of the 8th.
Keith: Ah, I lost track.
Gary: Isn't your color-coding working?
Keith: Yeah, I guess I should have just looked down at the scorecard.
(30 seconds go by)
Keith: Why don't we just zip it for the rest of the game?
Gary: The only problem with that is that they might realize they could do without us.

In the top of the 8th, during a discussion about London:
Keith: I had high tea in a pub once.
Gary: That's not called tea.
Ron: That's called Guinness.

In the top of the 5th, while watching Luis Vizcaino and Jorge Posada not getting together on signs and Vizcaino repeatedly stepping off the mound:
Keith: Man, what is going on?!?!
Ron: He sees dead people.
(All three laugh for a few minutes)

Oh, and fuck you, 2005 edition of Carlos Beltran. Please go away. Let's hope El Duque has some magic left tomorrow.

Crazy Keith's Corner: He's Cold, They're Lukewarm?

Keith came back to the booth and brought along with him a nail biter of a win. I didn't take many notes because I could barely breathe most of the game due to the stress, but this gem caught my ear. After Gary Cohen announced that it was 24 years ago yesterday that Keith was traded to the Mets (a bookend, Gary noted, with another big trade in the franchise's history), a package of Hernandez highlights rolled. One showed him plowing into a catcher at home plate, which inspired Keith to remark, "Ooh, that's when I had a 32 waist."


Also, someone get our hero some Airborne--how does he have yet another cold?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Now We Know Why There's a Slump

I guess this cover has been in the works for the past 10 days:

The jinx strikes again...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Another lead's blown
Birds descend in outfield
Need Ledee in left?

(Note written over the weekend. Snuck past blogger's Kafka-like censors Wednesday.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

We Take a Break From Our Anti-Ledee Strike For This:

Panic (With Apologies to Morrissey)

"Panic on the streets of Flushing
Panic on the streets of Kensington
I wonder to myself
Could the offense ever be sane again?

The Queens side-streets that you slip down
I wonder to myself
Hopes may rise on John Maine
But Willie boy, you’re not safe here."

Friday, June 08, 2007

Crazy Keith's Corner: Keith's Upset and I'm on Strike

Nothing too funny about last night's game either. Fuck.

Well, except this little exchange when Gary Cohen announced that the last three Mets to hit back-to-back-to-back home runs included Keith Hernandez as the third batter. Keith didn't believe he was hitting behind Darryl Strawberry until Gary told him it was 1989...

Keith: Oh, that was my horrible year.

Gary: At the time, you were batting .216.

Keith: Oh, thank you. (Ron Darling chuckles in the background) That computer's not going to be long for this booth.

Ron: Someone in loge, look out!

And now, I am on strike from the blog. If Ricky Ledee is starting, I ain't writing. Maybe Mike might check in for a cameo (hint, hint my compadre), but I refuse to write about this team when Ledee is on the roster.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Crazy's Keith's Corner: Nothing Like Getting LaCocked

It's hard to write down what was the best Keith comment of the year after experiencing what was easily the worst game of the season. This photo gave me a bad feeling about the upcoming road trip:

Now I present the top of the 6th:
Ron Darling had moved down into a little box behind home plate to talk about the game from the fan's level. Field reporter Kevin Burkhardt chimed in about Ron invading his territory. Then director Bill Webb divided the screen into three boxes, proclaiming Gary Cohen to say, "Welcome to Hollywood Squares," to which Ron added, "I'll take Paul Lynde to block." After much guffawing, Gary said that Kevin didn't know what show they were talking about. Kevin turned his mic back on and said that of course he did. Which led to...
Gary: You know, these guys played against Peter Marshall's son.
Keith: What was his name?
Gary: Pete LeCock.
Keith: Yes it was. (Laughs all around.) I'm so sorry folks.
It was the only moment of laughter in a night that proved once and for all that 2007 is not 2006.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Crazy's Keith Corner: He's Been Away So Long...

...that I almost forgot about Keith. I mean, Ron Darling, Ralph Kiner and Gary Cohen were a scream on Saturday, but I miss Keith. Alas, I'm going to miss much of tonight's game dropping off copies of the new issue of Zisk.
Yes, that's right, the two months late print edition of Zisk is done. Here's what the cover looks like:

Copies are going out in the mail over the next week, so subscribers should see it before interleague play is over. Whew. We're still shooting for the next issue to come out in time for the playoffs, so writers get those ideas cracking!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Zisk # 14

Casey at Shea by Mike Faloon

Is This Anyway to Run a Hall of Fame? by John Shiffert

So your favorite Hall of Fame candidate didn’t get elected this time around? Fear not. All is not lost. As is sometimes the case, the 2007 Hall of Fame vote was more interesting in terms of who wasn’t elected than it was in terms of who was elected. Without discussing the relevance of relief pitchers in the Hall, nor the “issue” of Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti, a pretty fair complete All-Star team could be constructed from members of the 2007 ballot who; A) weren’t part of the Steroid Soap Opera, B) weren’t relief pitchers, C) did receive votes, and D) didn’t receive enough votes to get elected. To wit:

C – Dale Murphy .265/.346/.469 121 31
1B – Dave Parker .290/.339/.471 121 26
2B – Tony Fernandez .288/.347/.399 101 3
SS – Alan Trammell .285/.352/.415 110 0
3B – Bobby Bonilla .279/.358/.472 124 3
OF – Jim Rice .298/.352/.502 128 33
OF – Andre Dawson .279/.323/.482 119 11
OF – Albert Belle .295/.369/.564 143 28

P – Bert Blyleven 287-250 .534 118 16
P – Jack Morris 254-186 .577 105 20
P – Tommy John 288-231 .555 111 8
P – Orel Hershiser 201-150 .576 112 20

OK, so this is cheating just a little. Murphy only came up as a catcher. He built his potential Hall credentials as a centerfielder. And Parker was mainly an outfielder… he only played a handful of games at first. Fernandez was a shortstop, although he did play some second base. And Bonilla was an outfielder who was also a terrible third baseman. Still, this is far from a bunch of stiffs. If they were a real team they would win a lot of pennants. (Especially if they had Goose Gossage and Lee Smith in the bullpen—but, as noted, that’s a separate debate.) To put it another way, it’s a pretty good lineup wherein Tony Fernandez has to bat eighth.

Maybe a better way to judge the value of this group of Hall outsiders is to compare them to another team, a team comprised of players who are already in the Hall of Fame.
C – Ray Schalk .253/.340/.316 83 0
1B – George Kelly .297/.342/.452 110 13
2B – Bill Mazeroski .260/.299./367 84 2
SS – Rabbit Maranville .258/.318/.340 82 2
3B – Fred Lindstrom .311/.351/.449 110 3
OF – Lloyd Waner .316/.353/.393 99 10
OF – Tommy McCarthy .292/.364/.376 102 3
OF – Harry Hooper .281/.368/.387 114 0

What do these worthies all have in common? Essentially, they were relatively better defensive players than offensive players. Some, like the double play combination, were outstanding defenders. (In fact, there are several other keystone types who fit this pattern and who could have also made this team—Johnny Evers, Joe Tinker and Phil Rizzuto come to mind.) Others, notably Lindstrom, were merely good fielders. And that’s was this entire team is, good. Maybe verging on great once in a while, but generally just very good players. This lineup would admittedly prevent a lot of runs, but how many would they put on the board? And, does anyone really think this lineup, that averaged just over four on the Black Ink Test, with an average Adjusted OPS that is actually below average (98), would outscore 2007’s HOF rejects, who posted an average Adjusted OPS of just under 121 (and just under 17 in Black Ink)? For that matter, does anyone really think that hitters like Schalk, Maz and the Rab really belong in the Hall? Obviously, someone must have. Schalk, we’ll explain shortly. Maz, well, one swing of the bat in the ’60 Series helped his candidacy a lot. A great fielder, his famous home run apparently led people to believe he could actually hit. He couldn’t. And Maranville himself was famous all right, a famous character. On that basis, Germany Schaefer will probably get elected to the Hall some day. Then there’s Waner and McCarthy. They both got in on the coattails of distinctly better Hall of Famer outfielders they were associated with during their playing careers—brother Paul in Waner’s case, and Hugh Duffy (the “other” half of the Heavenly Twins) for McCarthy.

Then there’s this Hall of Fame rotation:

P – Jesse Haines 210 158 .571 108 8
Eppa Rixey 266 251 .515 115 10
Rube Marquard 201 177 .532 103 11
Red Faber 254 213 .544 119 22

What do these four have in common? First, the BBWAA can’t be blamed for these guys—they were all elected by the Veterans Committee (as, for that matter, were the eight HOFers previously mentioned). Faber, like Schalk, got in largely because he was one of the “Clean Sox,” the 1919 White Sox who didn’t tank the Series. Haines, like Kelly and Lindstrom, made it due to cronyism on the Veterans Committee in the 70s. And Marquard, like Hooper, is a Glory of Their Times selection, their candidacies having gotten a boost from their appearance in Larry Ritter’s seminal book and the attendant “Halo Effect” (to borrow a Jamesian term). As for Eppa Rixey, the record provides no good explanation for his inclusion in this august institution, unless maybe it’s for his unique nickname, Eppa Jeptha. (No, I don’t know what that means, and neither do you.) Each of these pitchers’ also had relatively brief (in Haines’ case, very brief) periods of excellence in the midst of what were otherwise pretty mundane long careers, something they have pretty much in common with Blyleven, Morris, John and Hershiser. In fact, a composite pitcher made up from each group wouldn’t be too dissimilar, except that the guys who are still outside might have been a little bit better.

2007 Candidates 258-204 .558 112 16
Hall of Famers 233-200 .538 111 13

If you could actually put these two teams on the field against each for an extended series, you’d have an interesting matchup. The hitting of the 2007 team against the defense of the Hall team, with two pretty equal starting staffs. Still, you have to think that, if someone were to run a long-term computer simulation pitting these two teams against each other, the non-Hall of Famers would end up on top. Moral of the story—the Veterans Committee has traditionally elected the BBWAA’s rejects. Meaning there’s future hope for 2007’s rejects. (Is this any way to run a Hall of Fame? You decide.)

As the author of the recently-published Base Ball in Philadelphia (McFarland, 2007) SABR member John Shiffert thinks fellow Philadelphia native Harry Stovey deserves Hall of Fame consideration before all of the previously-mentioned worthies. However, Harry wasn’t on the 2007 ballot.

If We Could Vote: Zisk (Sort Of) Picks Our Hall of Fame Members Compiled by Frank D'Urso

After this year’s real Hall of Fame inductees were announced, I asked the Zisk bullpen of writers to compile their own list of Hall candidates. But for our ballots, writers could list up to 10 players, umpires, owners and/or personalities who should be elected to the Hall. Their picks could be from anytime and any team, not necessarily as restricted as the “official” voting (which meant Joe Jackson and Pete Rose were eligible). While Zisk writers had a lot to say, they had no clear idea on who the mighty halls of Cooperstown should induct next. This jibes with the recent Veterans committee vote (for no one…again) and forecasts an interesting 2008 hall vote (no overwhelming favorite in contrast to the no brainer induction of Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn this year) by the “real” baseball writers. Also, there was not one vote for Mark McGwire, so it seems his boneheaded testimony in front of congress in 2005 has stuck in the minds of our voters too. I'm sure that our esteemed publisher will score the writing staff actual invites to vote for the real deal, as soon as we hit ten years of baseball writing experience. [Ed note—Ha! Not bloody likely.] But until then, here’s are our most definitely unscientific results from eight members of the Zisk writing team:

Four Votes
Pete Rose
Goose Gossage

Three VotesJim Rice
Buck O'Neil
Rickey Henderson
Joe Jackson

Two VotesLee Smith
Minnie Minoso
Ben Shibe
Ron Santo
Gil Hodges

One VoteHarold Baines
Luis Tiant
Johnny Pesky
Tony Congliaro
Harry Agganis
Jose Canseco
Harry Stovey
Al Reach
Ross Barnes
Dick McBride
Bobby Mathews
Parisian Bob Caruthers
Roger Bresnahan
Don Money
Jack Morris
Robby Alomar
Keith Hernandez
Don Mattingly
Barry Bonds
Dale Murphy
Joe Torre
Marvin Miller
Walter O'Malley
Dave Parker
Andre Dawson
Jim Kaat

...and “The Doctor who invented Tommy John Surgery”

Now I’ve met one of the authors of Out By a Step, so I know that there are easily hundreds of ballplayers who were as good as some of the players in the Hall of Fame. But if we follow that rule that a player needs to be named on 75% of the ballots—six votes in this case—then no one would get in during our election. Could this be because of general voter dissatisfaction or something far goofier going on in the halls of Zisk? It’s hard to tell. As for our top vote getters, Charlie Hustle won’t likely get in, but perhaps our unscientific vote bodes well for Goose Gossage, Jim Rice, and hopefully the late Buck O’Neil.

(On a personal note, I was honored to have gotten a chance to meet Buck in 1999 at the All-Star Fan fest. And I was in the audience at the Field of Dreams in 2006 for what should have been his induction. The man had class and grace beyond than 99% of people involved in baseball today, and it’s a shame he hasn’t been enshrined in the hall yet. Let’s hope this gets rectified soon.)

Frank D'Urso is a Member of SABR and makes the pilgrimage to Cooperstown each year with Team Galco for the induction ceremony.

Dave Parker: Man or Myth? by Tim Hinely

Since I first saw those yellow and black uniforms on television in the early 1970’s I have always been a diehard Pittsburgh Pirates fan. No, I have never lived in Pittsburgh. In fact, I have never even visited but I have always loved the Pirates. It has been tough to be a Pirates fan in recent years as they have, to put it bluntly, stunk the joint up. At this point I’m not even thinkin’ World Series, I’m just hoping for a winning season sometime in the next decade. But the Pirates did have their glory years and the 1970’s sure were it. The residents of Shittsburgh maybe have had to deal with super high unemployment rates and their steel mills closing all over the city but they had their beloved Pirates. But the fans in the Iron City needed some new young blood to help quench their thirst for baseball and he came.

The year was 1973 and it was a somber one in the dugout of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Roberto Clemente had died the year before and the Pirates team needed some new blood. Sure they had their slugger Willie Stargell (my all-time favorite player, I might add) but even he had been around a decade at this point and the team needed someone to help Stargell put some runs on the scoreboard. That someone came in the name of Clemente’s replacement in right field: Dave Parker (who was originally signed as a catcher). Nicknamed The Cobra, Parker was the answer to their prayers.

Born June 9, 1951 in Calhoun, Mississippi, Parker was the Pirates 14th pick in the 1970 draft. (A draft that also included Dave Kingman, Rich Gossage, Ray Knight, Rick Reuschel, Dale Murphy, Chris Spier, and, of course, the legendary, Barry Foote.) Parker was already a strapping 6’ 5” and at 200 pounds (a weight that would continue to grow throughout his career, eventually getting up to 250 pounds) and he began to strike fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers.

His first two years, only playing part time he hit in the upper .280’s and four home runs each year but he showed plenty of promise and the Pirates organization knew they had a future super star on their hands. Then, the following year (1975) things began to come together as Parker hit 25 HR, 101 RBI and he hit .308. Things got a bit scary on opening day of the 1976 season when playing against the Phillies, Parker scored the winning run but had a violent crash at home plate with Phillies catcher Johnny Oates. Parker was shaken but okay while Oates missed the next two months with a broken collar bone).

The following years were Parker’s best. In 1977 he beat out his teammate Rennie Stennett for the batting title with a .338 average (with 215 hits for the season, 44 of those doubles). He won the National League MVP in 1978 beating out the Dodgers clean-cut All-American boy Steve Garvey (who we would later find out had a penchant for women and weird sex) with 30 HR, 117 RBI, a .334 average, and 340 total bases.

My longest-lasting memories of Parker come from the 1979 All-Star game (July 17, 1979, to be exact). While playing his usual right field he showed off his rocket arm by throwing out two players. He tossed out Red Sox superstar Jim Rice at third base and Angels catcher Brian Downing at home (on a hit by Graig Nettles). In the same game Parker drove in a run and was named the game’s MVP. I am still amazed by Parker’s strength and accuracy. At that time I don’t think any other outfielder could have done that. Parker made me proud to be a Pirates fan. Later on that year the Pirates won the World Series, beating the Baltimore Orioles while all of us happily sang the dopey Sister Sledge song “We are Fa-muh-leeeee”and called Stargell “Pops” like he was a personal friend of ours. Those were the best of times to be a Pittsburgh fan and it was shortly after that that Dave Parker’s star began to fade.

Due to knee problems Parker’s weight began to rise and his production began to fall. In 1980 he hit under .300 for the first time in 5 years (though he did still hit .295) and the fans in the Iron City began to boo. Not only did they boo but they began throwing objects at him from the right field stands (batteries, ice cubes, his own bobble head dolls, an anvil, even an engine from a car). Not that Parker didn’t deserve some hate—he was cocky as all get out and needed to be taken down a few notches. He was making millions while most native Pittsburghers were eating SPAM and toast for dinner. Later on, in 1985 (while was now playing for the Cincy Reds) Parker was one of the players named in the Pittsburgh drug trial (“Cocaine in the Clubhouse”). Apparently it was always snowing when the Cobra was around.

In the 80s Parker had some good years with the Reds, including 1985 when he batted .312 with a career high 34 home runs. He was traded to the Oakland A’s in 1988 and had two decent years. A slight streak of the old Cobra returned in 1990 while playing for the Milwaukee Brewers. He hit .289 with 21 home runs and 92 RBI. He spent his final two years in the majors with the California Angels (1991) and the Toronto Blue Jays (1992) where he only played in 13 games and called it a day.

Of course there is more to Dave Parker than stats. Here are five of my favorite anecdotes:

· One time when Parker hit a long home run at Wrigley Field he returned to the dugout and stated to Willie Stargell, “That has gotta be the longest one anyone has ever hit here!” Stargell replied, “Nope, Clemente hit one that hit the scoreboard in center which is 480 feet away.” To which Parker’s face dropped.

· One unnamed Pirate once said about Parker: “He has gotten so fat that he’s taking his showers in a car wash.”

· Willie Stargell, on finding out he was Parker’s idol: “That’s pretty good considering Dave’s previous idol was himself.”

· On Cobra’s notoriety in Pittsburgh by sportswriter Charlie Feeney: “Dave Parker is so unpopular in Pittsburgh that he could run for mayor unopposed and still lose.”

· And, finally, when Parker mentioned to someone that he might be part of the Phillies outfield of the early 80’s (with Greg Luzinski in left and Garry Maddox in center): “Just think of that outfield, a pig in left, a greyhound in center and an Adonis in right.”

Such was the life of The Cobra, he had it all, MVP honors, a World Series ring, all star games, fights, drugs, insults, weight problems and today Parker is in the Cincinnati area where he owns several Popeye’s Chicken franchises! (Popeye’s Chicken????!!!) You’re still making me proud, Dave!

(Some of the above quotes were taken from Kevin Nelson’s book, Baseball’s Greatest Insults.)
Tim Hinely lives in Portland, Oregon where he publishes his own zine, Dagger. For a copy please write to

The Committe for Statistical Inaccuracy vs. Truth and Beauty!

Or "How I learned to stop worrying and love the most entertaining no-hitter in White Sox History" by Jake Austen

I've had the unusual fortune of missing some pretty historic games by one night. On a visit to Texas I was delighted to see my beloved White Sox drub the Rangers in person, catching the following evening's infamous game on my motel's color TV which allowed me to appreciate the vivid crimson blood drawn by elder statesman Nolan Ryan as he played Ike to young Robin Ventura's Tina. Years later I snuck into great seats at New Comiskey a mere night before two uncouth gentlemen snuck into the same section to launch an unprovoked attack on the Royals' first base coach. And this April I was fondling my tickets for the following night's game as I watched Mark Buehrle pitch perhaps the most impressive game in White Sox history.

(It was a near-perfect no-hitter in which he faced the minimum by picking off his only baserunner, Sammy Sosa, who uncharacteristically drew a walk. I hereby declare a no-hit/pick-off-the-one-walked-baserunner as the third best possible game pitchable, the first being a perfect game, the second being a face-the-minimum, where the baserunner reached on an unforced infield error [relieving the pitcher of blame]. Note that a 27-batter, one baserunner game in which a double play accounts for the minimum batters-faced is less impressive than the pickoff, because the pitcher is not cleaning up his own mess.)

One reason I never feel too bad about narrowly missing history is that I've been lucky enough to attend some pretty memorable contests, including a White Sox no-hitter. Of course you wouldn't know it by the declaration that Buehrle had pitched the 16th no-hitter in Pale Hose history, a total that leaves out the unforgettable game I attended. I intend to end this essay with a healthy rant against Major League Baseball's inane official record keepers, but before I get my berating hat on, let me put on my nostalgia glasses to recall the glorious night of July 1st, 1990.

My brother and I had pretty decent left field seats for this game held during Old Comiskey Park's farewell season. The Sox were playing the Yankees, and pitcher Andy Hawkins was having his way with us. Fortunately Sox starter Greg Hibbard, hirsute middle reliever Barry "Bearcat" Jones, and teen punk rock vocalist-turned eccentric White Sox southpaw Scott Radinsky (who holds the MLB record for most games pitched by a Jew, and who currently owns a skatepark) combined for a four-hitter. Even two errors by the man who was three years and 33 days away from becoming Nolan Ryan's punching bag didn't allow the Yanks to score. Thus, in the bottom of the eighth inning, when Hawkins took the mound with a potential no-hitter alive, it was a scoreless game and Sox fans knew we were only one run away from a possible win against the eternally intimidating Bronx Bombers.

After retiring catcher Ron Karkovice (a good glove/no stick Sox favorite) and shortstop Scotty Fletcher (who once posed for Sports Illustrated in a bank vault catching stacks of cash in his mitt, representing his then unheard of million dollar-a-year contract), Hawkins challenged the then anemic batting-average of Sammy Sosa, unaware of his cicada-like ability to throw monkey wrenches into no-hitters every seventeen years. To the best of my recollection Sammy hit a grounder to third and took off like a Hispanic cartoon mouse, diving headfirst in a display of hustle that would be scored an infield hit any time other than late in a no-hitter. His achievement tainted by the official scorer's generosity, a flustered Hawkins then walked Buehrle's future manager Ozzie Guillen, and Sosa's future Cub teammate Lance Johnson, on what I recall as being eight straight pitches.

The sacks packed with Sox, Robin Ventura came up with a chance to atone for his shaky defense in that game (and suspect martial prowess in a future contest) by standing there with bat glued to shoulder while this Yankee headcase inevitably walks in the winning run. But, of course, in true (pre-pallete cleansing 2005 championship season) White Sox fashion, he swung at the first terrible pitch, launching a can-of-corn popup to Jim Leyritz, the infielder-turned-outfielder positioned right in front of us. What happened next I did not witness with my own eyes, as I buried head in hands, disgusted with Ventura's impatience. The next thing I knew my brother was shaking me, screaming, "He dropped it, he dropped it!" And sure enough, I emerged from darkness to see Leyritz scrambling for the ball as the bases cleared, leaving the Sox up a profoundly unlikely 3-0, despite the no-hitter remaining intact. My eyes were wide open when the next batter, the beloved Ivan Calderon (a two sport man, Calderon trained champion fighting cocks in the off-season; after retirement he was shot to death in his native Puerto Rico, allegedly at the behest of the PR mafia) lifted an easy fly ball to center which Jesse Barfield somehow lost a bead on. Ventura trotted home, then big, pot-smoking Dan Pasqua got out, and when the smoke cleared the Sox had four runs without the benefit of a hit. After an easy ninth, they—brace yourself for an absurd stat—had won a game in which they had no hits by the largest margin any team had ever done so.

To make the incident more bizarre, Hawkins lost his next start against the Sox to Melido Perez (less-storied brother of Pasquel “Perimeter” Perez) who threw a rain-shortened, six-inning no-hitter. At least we thought he did at the time, though a decade later he, Hawkins, and many others, had not done so. Inanely in 2001 the Baseball Commish set up something called the Committee for Statistical Accuracy, that declared baseball would officially no longer consider any no-hitter less than nine innings in length to actually exist. They also declared that if a pitcher pitches nine full innings then gives up a hit in the 10th or later, that is not a no-hitter. No duh! I was always confused as to why the record book noted those particular sad sack pitchers in the no-hit section, as they obviously didn't qualify, considering that they gave up hits. A no-hitter obviously is a complete game in which you don't give up a hit. Excising that clearly non-qualifying category of games that had hits from the no-hitter list seemed to indicate this Committee actually knew the rules of baseball.

Yet in a throw-the-very-healthy-baby-out-with-the-bathwater move they erased all the less-than-nine inning games, despite the fact that they were complete games with no hits. “No-hitters,” if you will. Perhaps these wise old men were unaware that in baseball a game isn't defined by nine complete innings. Assuming that home teams usually win, I'd venture that the majority of games are 8.5 innings long. Hawkins could not pitch a ninth because the Sox were at home and did not bat in the ninth, thus he pitched a complete game with no hits. A no hitter! And though Perez’ 18-out outing is certainly less impressive than Buehrle’s masterpiece, it exists and qualifies. Somehow the term “Statistical Accuracy” translated as “Don't Know Shit About Baseball.” Perhaps Bud Selig will appoint a Committee to Determine the Asterisk-ratio of Suspected Steroid Inflated Statistics, so that he can make the “official” “history” book more “accurate.” George Orwell predicted it, people! Wikipedia is just another covert step in the Man's insidious plan to perennially rewrite history however He sees fit. Beware!

Well, regardless of the record book, under what my lawyer defines as ex post facto, statute of limitations, ignorance of the law, grandfather clause rules, I saw a no-hitter, and I am forever satisfied that I did. And, let's be honest, it was a lot more exciting than Buehrle's gem. I'm sure I'm not the only one who flipped back and forth between the (by-definition) uneventful near-perfect Sox game and American Idol that night. I bet you nobody flipped between Hawkins' debacle and Star Search.

Jake Austen publishes Roctober magazine and helps produce the public access children's dance show Chic-A-Go-Go.

Major League(ish) baseball: DC's Still Got it by Dr. Nancy Golden

Wow, do the Nationals suck this year or what? Don’t get me wrong, I say this with love. Unexpected love. It’s been a couple of years since baseball returned to DC and I thought it was time to check back in and let you know how it’s going.

Year 1 was euphoric. Not only did we have baseball—which would have been enough in itself—but we were actually contenders for half the season. Year 2 was, well, dismal and hopeless, but we got the pleasure of a front-row view (because seats were always available—my favorites were the please-just-show-up $3 ticket nights) to Alfonso Soriano’s 40/40 season. (You know, once he decided for sure that he was going to play left field for us.) Plus, we got to fall for Ryan Zimmerman, a guy who we figured would actually still be here the next year. And Year 3, a week in and the Nationals with a bleak 2-8 record, actually feels exciting again. No, really.

I almost started the season—a beautiful 80 degree sunny afternoon—sitting at my desk working, until my co-worker Dan showed up at my door holding two free tickets that had appeared on his desk that morning. Three hours later we were headed downtown on a packed train, the multitude dressed in their red Nationals gear, with the occasional person like myself playing hooky and still in work clothes. Thank god for the positive influences in life. Arriving at RFK Stadium, times had changed since The Big Opening Day of two years ago, when baseball had first returned to DC. The afternoon wasn’t quite a sellout and President Bush did us all a favor and just stayed home, but the patriotic mega flag was even more mega, and this time there were enough hot dogs to last past the third inning. Our ace was no longer franchise-favorite Livan Hernandez, who we said goodbye to in exchange for prospects, but John Patterson, who earned the title simply by being the only starter on the staff who faced more major league than minor league hitters last year. Seriously, one certified starter—were they for real? Yes, and therein lies the fun.

The fun this year is not for what certainly won’t be, but for what could be. Someday. We mourned when Frank Robinson was not invited back, but then we dried our eyes and a strange thing happened. The Nationals signed Manny Acta, a career manager not yet 40 years old, who had been honing his skills in the minor leagues and on a couple of major league benches. And you know what? It just fit. The Nats ownership had made it clear early in the winter that come Opening Day, we’d be getting acquainted with most of our players for the first time, just as they’d be getting acquainted with the majors. Our old-timers at the plate would consist of catcher Brian Schneider, outfielder Ryan Church, and 22-year old Rookie of the Year runner-up Zimmerman. And as for starting pitchers, spring training would basically amount to an open casting call. Would it be right to subject Hall-of-Famer Frank Robinson to this? Debatable. But Manny Acta? Wouldn’t he just savor every victory, even if they only came on alternate Tuesdays? Sure thing. We loved Frank, but we love Manny in a whole new way. He’s one of the guys, our guys. And we can’t help but to pull for them. Us sentimental-types within our office fantasy league even made sure we picked a representative National or two in the draft just so we could root harder. (Much to the glee of our west coast contingent, who apparently all made sure they picked up a representative steroid-user in the draft. Oh, sorry, no trash-talking in the article.)

Three days into the season, the Nationals got their first win, on a come-from-behind thee-run rally in the ninth. Prior to that, the Nats had been outscored by the Marlins 24 to 9 in the series and their starting pitchers were averaging just 3 to 5 innings per game. So when Dmitri “Big D” Young’s walk-off single dropped just fair, the Nats’ dugout emptied like it was Game 7 of the World Series All-Star Tournament of Champions. Manny Acta sprayed Dom Perignon in the clubhouse to celebrate his first major league “W” and the next day in the office we talked about the game not for any great plays or performances, but for the win itself: “Hey, did you hear? The Nationals won last night!” Over a week would pass before we next enjoyed that pleasure, following a two-hit shutout of the Braves in Atlanta. That victory would mark another important milestone for the 2007 Nats—it would be the first time they had held a lead in the middle of a game all season, which was 10 games old by now. This not being lost on the players, they reportedly kept returning to their same positions in the dugout every play after going 1-0 on the Braves, so as to not jinx the rally. The sports writers quickly picked up on the fact that the 2-8 Nats were at this point head and shoulders above either the 1962 Mets or the 2003 Tigers, who both started their fateful seasons at 1-9. And one broadcaster nearly referred to the team’s one win as a “streak.” In contrast to the unforgiving Bronx fans that I moonlight with, who at this point would have followed the Yankee players home and thrown batteries at them there because it’s illegal to bring them to the field, here in DC we really just want to run up to our Nationals and give them a big hug in celebration of their second win, and possibly bake them cookies. (Or whatever the male-equivalent is of that level of affection—eye contact, a thin hint of a smile, and a nod?) Somehow with that second win, we feel like our guys are in contention now. Not to make the playoffs, of course, but maybe to just not be the worst team in history. Our magic number is now 41—the number of games we need to win to avoid surpassing the ’62 Mets in single-season losses, and we count down on an active tally board. (Although some people choose to count up the number of losses. So negative.)

And then there’s that nagging hope of what could be. Will the Nats’ continuing auditions turn up a sleeper who emerges a hero out of the gaping hole that was the starting rotation? Will the season bring another Soriano to draw us to games when wins and losses have ceased to inspire baked goods? Will Dmitri Young be humbled by his so-called “season of redemption” and lead outings for inner city children on his days off? And will Teddy Roosevelt ever win that damn Nationals Presidents Race? (Yes, I agree that rappelling off the upper deck on Opening Day was, like, totally cheating, but if the Nats were 0 for 77, I would condone similar acts of desperation.) I hope there’s a yes or two in there. With no expectations, all you can be is positive. And if nothing else, when your team is this bad, it really hones your trash-talking skills. Speaking of which, did I mention that the Nats have not had a single game snowed out yet this year? In your face, Cleveland!

Dr. Nancy Golden is a wildlife biologist and lives in Washington DC. She likes rainy days, long walks on the beach, and can be reached at Mailbox 2764.

We're Rockin' Baseball: Musicians and Their Love of the National Pastime

This little publication got started over eight years ago because our founder and publisher Mike Faloon wanted an outlet for the baseball-related ideas (and baseball-related parts of interviews with musicians) that he didn’t think would fit in his long-running music and culture ’zine Go Metric. Yet with Mike and me, music is always lurking there in the background of everything we do for Zisk. When we assemble each issue, we pick out new albums to play for each other while we fold, staple, seal, address and repeat. Both of us have made multiple music references in our blog entries over the past two plus years. We’ve even interviewed a few musicians (Bills both Bragg and Janovitz) for these very pages. And when we set up an interview with one of our favorite musicians (Scott McCaughey) about his love of the game, we had no idea that over the next few weeks the baseball gods would award us the opportunity to speak with three other folks whose passion for the game matches our passion for their music. So what follows are four entertaining conversations with some our favorite musicians talking about our favorite sport. We can’t thank each of them enough for sharing the time and their thoughts with us. —SR

Now That’s a Hit: Hoodoo Gurus’ Dave Faulkner

Baseball has spread its reach around the globe the past three decades, but who knew that it could hook one of Australia’s most legendary bands? I jumped at the opportunity to interview Hoodoo Gurus frontman Dave Faulkner for my day job when the band returned to the U.S. for the first time in 14 years. The Gurus were one of my favorite discoveries working on college radio. Their mix of witty lyrics with garage-rock inspired pop hooked me from the first time I ever heard the opening lick of 1987’s “What’s My Scene.” During our time catching up on the band’s activities, Faulkner was talking about the band doing the theme for the Australian rugby league (“What’s My Scene” became “That’s My Team”) and getting the chance to watch games from a luxury box. That in turn led to this discussion of his love for America’s pastime. (Interview by Steve Reynolds)

Dave: Now are you a Mets or a Yankees fan?

Steve: I’m a Mets fan.

Dave: I’m a Mets fan. Have you ever been to the Diamond Club suite?

Steve: I have been through there, yes.

Dave: I saw a game from the Diamond Club suite, so [seeing the rugby championship game was] kind of like that.

Steve: Well, I have a friend who works for the Mets radio station...

Dave: All right!

Steve: I’ve actually gone into their corporate suite and also where the TV and radio boxes are...

Dave: Not Ralph Kiner? You know Ralph Kiner?

Steve: No, no. But he’s walked by me a couple of times.

(Then I hand him my cell phone to show him the picture of the Bob Murphy radio booth plaque that is the wallpaper on my phone.)

Steve: So when you go to the radio booth you see this plaque. Bob Murphy was the long time Mets broadcaster...

Dave: Oh, okay…

Steve: ...and he did strictly radio for the last 25 years or so, and they put that up right next to the radio booth.

Dave: Ah. I haven’t heard of Bob Murphy. When did he work?

Steve: He was one of the original Mets broadcasters.

Dave: Oh, from 1962 then.

Steve: Yup. Him and Ralph Kiner and Lindsey Nelson. Ralph Kiner and Bob Murphy stayed the entire time. Bob Murphy retired in 2003.

Dave: Oh, I should have known that then.

Steve: And they had a whole big night for him when he was retiring

Dave: So Ralph did the TV and Bob did the radio?

Steve: Yup.

Dave: Well, I think I just proved my actual fandom of the Mets there, knowing that [about Ralph]. And you know there’s a song on one of our albums that is all about the Mets.

Steve: What one is that?

Dave: It’s called “Where’s that Hit,” on the Magnum Cum Louder album. It’s all about baseball. Well if you think about it, it says—the lyrics specify “bottom of the ninth, here you are at Shea” so it’s gotta be the Mets batting. (Laughs)

Here’s the lyrics to “Where’s That Hit?” from Hoodoo Gurus 1989 album Magnum Cum Louder:

"Bases are loaded,
Two out and you're at the plate.
Time to start swinging
"Don't think too hard, son, you'll be great."
You know about pressure.
Two down and you're on the brink.
The stadium's shouting
So loud you can't hear yourself think.
(Strike One!) Let's play ball!
(Strike Two!) One bad call.
Just up from the minors
A kid with potential, they said.
You've dreamed of this moment,
One game you'll never forget.
(Ball!) Ball one: now you spit
(Ball!) Ball two: Where's that hit?
Bottom of the ninth, it depends on you.
You can save the game , you can lose it too.
You could make your name when you get that hit.
Winners never quit waiting for that hit
Remember in high school
The way you could knock ’em all dead?
Now you're in the big league,
A man with a price on his head.
The pitcher is winding
You pop behind third: it falls safe.
You're getting your timing.
Another like that, you're on base.
(Ball!) Ball three, this is it!
(Foul ball!) Foul back: where's that hit?
Here you are at Shea, your hearts in your throat
Will you make the grade? Will you miss the boat?
Hero of the day, hero, or the goat?
Winners never quit waiting for that hit.
Where's that hit?"

Steve: So when you wrote that, had you been to a bunch of Mets games?

Dave: Oh god yeah, I’ve been to millions of them. Cause apart from all the touring—we’d catch Mets games on the road, not just in New York City. I went to Busch Stadium, and in San Diego against the Padres. Also I’ve been here for visits many times as a tourist because I’ve made friends here over the years. My first time in New York City was actually 1979, before the Gurus formed. And I lived here for eight months. Not really living, I just came on a holiday, but I ended up staying eight months. I met people and they said, you can stay on our couch and I somehow turned that into eight months and saw lots of rock and roll and that kind of inspired me to form the Hoodoo Gurus. Particularly seeing The Cramps and The Fleshtones. Those two bands particularly set something off in my brain that years later sort of hatched as the Hoodoo Gurus.

Steve: So you must obviously feel a special connection to the city then?

Dave: Oh absolutely! I’ve been all over it. I spent a lot of time on the Upper West Side, that’s where I was staying mainly. Oh, and on the Upper East Side too, on 91st street was where I first stayed. And then I had friends who lived on 10th avenue and 57th street, so I spent a lot of time up there as well, just between tours or the very beginning or end of a tours I’d spend a couple of weeks and it was great.

Steve: Too bad South By Southwest wasn’t in April, so you could have worked a Mets game into your schedule.

Dave: Exactly! You don’t think I didn’t look at that? I was thinking like, “Ahh, what’s going on?” And when we come back again—we’re talking about coming back again hopefully in October, and the World Series will be on and hopefully the Mets will be in it, but I think it’ll be too late for me to get a ticket or to go to the games.

Steve: Yeah, if the Mets are in the World Series, tickets will be very tight.

Dave: Ha ha, yeah!

Steve: I went to Game 7 of the NLCS last year, and that was the most expensive ticket I’ve ever paid for, for a ball game. Alas, it was that heartbreaking loss to the Cardinals.

Dave: Now here’s a funny one. One of our songs, I think it might have been “Where’s That Hit,” they used it in Boston one year for their end of season highlights thing to show on the scoreboard, which I thought was very ironic. (Laughs)

Steve: And like me, they probably missed that Shea reference and had no idea! (Laughs) And I had that album on vinyl, cassette and CD!

Dave: The song’s kind of like “Casey at the Bat.” It’s constructed deliberately to lead you to a conclusion about what’s going on to the pitcher in the game. It’s meant to be fairly specific.

An Empire State Fan: Guster’s Brian Rosenworcel

If you’ve ever seen Guster perform their darkly melodic pop songs on Leno or Conan (or if you’ve caught the band on what seems to be their never ending tour), then you’ve seen a rather tall baseball fan banging his hands on a huge assemblage of percussion. I first spoke with Brian Rosenworcel about the band’s wickedly addictive 2003 album Keep It Together. It was one of rare times that I enjoyed speaking with a musician so much that I became a fan of the band’s music. I ran into Brian a couple more times at my night job at a Brooklyn bar, eventually discovering he was just as big a Mets fan as I am. I mean, the man took his bachelor party to Shea—now that’s devotion! So it only made sense that I track Brian down one Friday afternoon during the band’s spring tour to talk about his favorite baseball memories. (Interview by Steve Reynolds)

Steve: Did you have a baseball hero growing up? And why did you like that certain player?

Brian: Mookie Wilson. For a while I liked him as much as I liked anyone who could score from 2nd base on a wild pitch. But at some point my dad said something about how he was a "model citizen" and did a lot of "charity work" and the little altruist in me was converted into a full-blown Mookie addict. Poster on the wall, constant prayers for Lenny Dykstra to break a thumb, etc. I even briefly tried rooting for the Toronto Blue Jays when he was traded, but that didn't work out so well. And while I could go on and on about the emotions of Game 6 in the '86 World Series, the most prominent Mookie memory I have was the heartbreak I felt in some playoff game against the Dodgers when Kirk Gibson made a diving (stumbling?) prayer of a catch against a Mookie line drive during a crucial late inning at-bat that would have been an inside-the-park home run if Gibson had missed it.

Steve: Did you play little league? Did you use your height (Brian’s well over 6 feet tall) to your advantage as a pitcher?

Brian: I did play a lot of little league, and for a while it was a smashing success. I was a shortstop and coordinated enough to pitch when I was younger. As we all somersaulted towards puberty my pitching velocity didn't quite catch up to my peers though, and I became a full-time shortstop. That is, until the prestigious President's Cup Championship Game when I was twelve. There was some league rule where no one pitcher could throw more than 9 innings during a playoff week, so Grody Chevrolet turned to me to start and keep our team in the game for three innings, until we were allowed to bring in our overworked ace, Billy Gills. I gave up a few runs and earned a no-decision, but at least I didn't walk everyone I faced. I will always remember watching the game being broadcast and re-broadcast on West Hartford Cable Access TV because one of the announcers mumbled off-mic that "everything this guy throws is an off-speed pitch." I shook it off. You know why? Because we won the motherfucking President's Cup, douchebag-announcer! I scored the winning run on a wild pitch! I'm in a B-level celebrity drummer now and you're still doing color commentary for West Hartford Cable Access sports you prick!

Steve: Since you went to college in the Boston area, did you find yourself becoming a Red Sox fan? If so, was that painful?

Brian: I resisted the charm of the Red Sox, at least until they won four straight against the Yankees in the ALCS a couple years ago, at which point my relationship with that team hit a turning point. But at Tufts I was an unabashed Met fan, and I even snuck a broom into Fenway for game 3 of an interleague series with the Mets where, obviously, I thought the Mets would win and complete a three game sweep. I had the straw end of the broom against the back of my head under a hood, and the broom stick all the way down my leg. I remember being amazed when Fenway security frisked me and found nothing. No one is safe at Fenway. Anyway, the Mets lost that game 5-0 and I was the jackass in the Mets jersey walking out with a broom. People were calling me "janitor" and stuff. Those are the risks you take.

Steve: Guster did the national anthem at Fenway Park last year—what was that experience like for you, considering you are the non-"singing" member of the band.

Brian: The other guys worked out a lovely rendition of the anthem with three-part harmonies. I didn't want to feel like dead weight up there, so I brought a pair of marching cymbals out with me and held onto them the whole time. I thought it'd be brilliantly anti-climactic to never actually hit the cymbals together—like something Andy Kaufman would do, in my mind. This quickly became controversial in the Guster camp, with everyone weighing in “You gotta hit them! You gotta! Why would you bring ‘em out if you're not gonna hit them!?” The worst part is that while my bandmates were doing yeoman’s work next to me, the Jumbotron camera guy was obsessed with not missing “The Cymbal Moment,” so I was on camera, doing nothing, mouthing the wrong words, for the entire length of the song. On our way up to the skybox after the performance, a Sox fan yelled “Good job cymbal-boy!” to me.

Steve: Does anyone else in the band or your crew share your passion for baseball?

Brian: No. They think I'm an alien. I'm the only one out of ten people on my bus who follows sports at all (though everyone in the band plays bocce). And while I suppose it's a bit of an aberration for a musician to love baseball, I'm in good company. Yo La Tengo. John Fogerty. Paul Simon. On opening night a week ago I was getting pumped up for the season watching a Mets preview show on the bus's satellite TV. They flashed back to game 7 against the Cardinals from 2006 and showed the last inning or something. While I was reliving the pain, a fellow Guster member walked in, looked at the television and asked, “Is it the playoffs already?” If they'd been showing ESPN Classic highlights of the 1969 World Series my bandmates might have asked, “Wow are the Mets in the World Series this year?”

Steve: Is there a Guster song you'd love to hear played in between innings, or as a batter comes to the plate?

Brian: Unbelievable timing on this question. This morning on the bus Joe [Pisapia, the band’s multi-instrumentalist] was chopping up a clip of our song “Come Downstairs & Say Hello” for a mystery Baltimore Oriole who requested to use a certain portion of the song for plate appearances. I'll believe it when I see it. I have a hunch it's not Miguel Tejada. [Ed note: We later found out Orioles closer Chris Ray is using it as his 9th inning entrance music.]
As for between innings, I've heard they use "Amsterdam" at Wrigley and Fenway sometimes, but in general any Guster song at a ballpark is just another missed opportunity to play Gary Glitter.

Steve: Is there any Guster song that has a baseball reference or was influenced by the game?

Brian: Well, in one of our older songs that I wrote the lyrics for there's a verse that goes:
"Your love is like Armando Benitez, it's dangerous baby, dangerous. You're like a split finger fastball that never tails away." I mean, no. No baseball references.

Steve: Have you used touring as a chance to work in seeing games in parks around the country? If so, did you have a favorite park you visited?

Brian: I do do this. Funny, no one on the bus gives a shit about baseball but they'll all jump at the chance to spend twenty bucks to see the Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins play in a stuffy domed stadium on a day off. After spending some formative years seeing games at Fenway, I've found most of the new ballparks a little generic and disappointing. Am I the only left who thinks Shea is charming?

Steve: Yes, I think you are. [Ed: Objection, I agree with you Brian—MF] Have you ever taken part in a fantasy league? If so, how much did you obsess over your team?

Brian: I joined an NBA fantasy league a couple years ago, after years of making fun of people who participated in these things. It became a full-time job, a mathematical obsession that threatened to break up my marriage. I began sneaking in statistical consultations with my cell phone during dinner parties and otherwise rejected social opportunities in favor of staying home and rooting for Jermaine O'Neal to get a rebound off a missed free throw. It's not healthy, and it damaged my relationship with the New York Knicks. Well, that and the fact that Isiah Thomas is not exactly Omar Minaya. Anyway, even though I won my NBA fantasy league I vowed never to try the MLB version, out of respect for the Mets (i.e, “I love the Mets except when Adam Dunn is batting—c'mon Adam Dunn!”). And of course out of respect for my wife. And myself.

Steve: So you're one of four musicians we have talking about their passion for baseball in this issue—any thoughts as to what attracts rockers to the national pastime?

Brian: Let me guess. The others are John Fogerty, Paul Simon, and Ira Kaplan. Am I wrong?

Covering All The Baseball by Heath Row

It's Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn, and I'm sitting at my desk in the front room window that overlooks the park. In the springtime sunlight and air, I can hear the sounds of airplanes approaching LaGuardia, of children in the park, and of the Good Humor man as he makes his rounds of the neighborhood. And thanks to my laptop, I'm listening to the Milwaukee Brewers play Pittsburgh at Miller Park in Wisconsin. It's the bottom of the sixth, and the Brewers lead 4-0.

The best way to watch baseball is, of course, outside. That is especially true for lower-level amateur league baseball, even little league. It's true for minor league. And it's slightly less true for major league. True baseball is enjoyed out of doors, with a chain-link back stop and a water fountain standing in a pool of gravel.

But if you can't catch a game outside, what's the second best way to take in the sport? Is it on television? No. Baseball doesn't belong in a box. It belongs in a diamond. In many of the larger stadiums, especially Miller Park, the game is small and far away enough that the box drastically diminishes the experience by containing it and shaving off the edges. Besides, with baseball's pace, do you really want to break it up with TV commercials?

No, the second best way to catch baseball is on the radio. A transistor radio, held in one's hand, placed in a bicycle basket, or propped up against a lawn chair in the yard is the perfect transmitter for baseball. Its small size and portability means that you can take the radio anywhere. That means you can take baseball with you. Some people even listen to the game while at the game. You can identify them because they've got one eye on the field and one finger on their ear bud—or because they cheer when nobody else does.

Additionally, there are ghosts in radio. Spectral hisses, pops, echoes, and audible depth and distance. Memories of clean-sheet summer nights with the windows wide open. Nervous huddles underneath the ping pong table in the basement waiting for the tornadoes to pass by. Even ghosts of games past. When a baseball game is aired on the radio, all games are on—and in—the air.

There's another way to listen to baseball now: Online. In early April, I signed up for GameDay Audio from For $14 a year—a year!—you can listen to games live while they're in play, as well as games from the recent past. You can even listen to about 100 classic games if you'd like to dig even deeper.

Occasionally, GameDay Audio has its own fits and starts. Sometimes, trying to access a streaming broadcast, my browser will get hung up, and I'm forced to quit. I can try an alternate stream source, but every so often, I need to reach for my transistor radio as a backup.

Because one thing I've experienced as I've been listening to more baseball is that I need a backup. I want to listen to even more baseball. It doesn't matter what it is. I don't need to follow the teams. I don't need to pay all that much attention. I just need some baseball. There's something special about radio announcers, the sound of the game in the air, and the ghostly hiss that even seems to come across on GameDay Audio.

That increase in media consumption is a common experience for people who use new media technologies. Last fall, Nielsen found that people who use digital video recorders watch more TV than other people. On average, adults with DVRs watch six hours and 14 minutes of live television a week, as well as an hour and 49 minutes of recorded programming. That turns out to be 29% more TV than that watched by folks without DVRs. Similarly, in 1999, Nielsen discovered that people with digital cable service watch 6% more broadcast, 34% more cable, and 253% more pay TV than those with analog television.

Television limits the baseball experience. While listening to a game online or on the radio, you can do other things. You can read the newspaper. You can write an article for a sports fanzine. You can go for a walk with your girlfriend. You can also connect with a baseball broadcast tradition that dates back to 1921, when Harold Arlin announced the first game on KDKA.

There are ghosts in the radio. There are games in the air waiting to be played. Grab your cap and join us.

(This essay appeared in a slightly different form in the blog Media Diet,

Heath Row is a fair-weather fan, which isn't that uncommon because no rain delay has been identified as lasting 10 or more hours.