Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fan Interference Episode 2 is up!

Check out the second episode of our new podcast by clicking here!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Fan Interference Podcast Episode 1

You can download our new podcast now! Just click here!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fan Interference Review...and Podcast!

We've been away for a bit this fall into early winter, but we've come out of hibernation to share a couple of things.

1) Razorcake did another review of Fan Interference. Thanks for the support folks!

2) We're launching a new podcast called Fan Interference on Wednesday, December 11th! Episode 1 will feature co-editors Mike Faloon and Steve Reynolds along with contributors Brian Cogan and Dan Dunford. The podcast will be posted at We hope you have as much listening as we did recording it. Look for new episodes on Wednesdays.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Hear Mike on the radio today!

Our founder/my co-editor Mike Faloon will appear on 92.9 The Ticket in Bangor, Maine today at 5:15 p.m. to talk baseball with Rich Kimball. Mike and I had a great time on Rich's show this summer on our book tour. Listen online here:

Monday, September 30, 2013

Zisk # 23

Nine Proposed Baseball Rules Changes by Jake Austen

My Top 10 Favorite Baseball Nicknames by Tim Hinely

Thirty Ballparks: Our Life in the Major Leagues by Abby and Jesse Mendelson

How Don Zimmer Saved America by Rev. Norb

The July 20 Pirates/Reds Game Has to Be Great (or, The Top 10 Things About a Midwest Mid-Summer Ballgame That Helped Me Forget Merrillville, Indiana) by Mike Faloon

Foul Weather Fans, or Why I Missed Zisk in Chicago by R. Lincoln Harris

A Headlock to Forget: A Robin Ventura Story by Brennan Jones

The Decline of Baseball Card Collecting by Jeff Herz

The Whistler by David Lawton

Nine Proposed Baseball Rules Changes by Jake Austen

Baseball’s new instant replay rule is probably the most substantial rule change since the DH. It changes the roles of the umpires and the rhythm of the game.  And in its current form (though I wouldn’t be surprised if this changes) managers are no longer allowed to come out and quixotically, dirt-kicking-ly argue with umps. While we’re throwing that time-honored tradition out, maybe it’s time to get more radical. Here are some rule changes I’ve been tinkering with to make the game a little more fun, fair, and funky and to help get things back to the spirit of the sandlot.

1. HAT TRICK: Currently, it is against the rules to catch the ball in your hat, or anywhere but your glove. That is why there are no baseball-playing Harlem Globetrotter teams anymore. (There used to be a bunch of them.) This is probably why Deion Sanders kept going back to football. You would be a dick if you caught a ball in your hat, but dickishness should not be outlawed. Plus, it’s harder than catching it in a mitt!

2. THE SAN DIEGO CHICKEN EXEMPTION: Obviously it makes sense that team mascots are not allowed on the field during play. However, if a baserunner falls victim to the Hidden Ball Trick during a major league game the team mascot should be allowed to run out and pants the trickery victim. Sad trombone sound effects are optional. For teams without mascots, keeping a clown on staff for such an occurrence is allowed.

3. ALL-STAR LAME: Commissioner Bud Selig’s embarrassment over a tie in the 2002 All-Star Game resulted in the winning league earning home field advantage in the World Series. This was the diametric opposite of the correct solution. Instead of making this glorified pick up/exhibition game more serious, ties should be decided by throwing a bat in the air, one team captain catching it, and then he and his counterpart doing that hand-over-hand thing until someone palms the knob. Then the winner gets to choose the deciding contest, either a one-on-one homerun derby between each league’s top slugger, a footrace between the two fastest dudes, or ideally, a winner-take-all game of running bases. Why not remind America’s children that baseball is fun?

4. THE EEPH-WORD: An eephus pitch that arcs over 20 feet and is swung upon and missed or lands in the strike zone counts for 1.5 strikes. However, if it misses the zone it’s 1.5 balls.

5: BONDS BAILS, MAN: The current punishment Barry Bonds is receiving for his presumed steroid abuses is appropriate and should be made official: MLB should declare that his records stand and he is the single season and all-time Home Run King, but nobody should ever mention it, think about it, or remember how many dingers he hit. His numerical achievements have been, and in perpetuity shall be, denied the historicity of 715, 755, and 61. However, if A-Rod surpasses him, that guy gets erased from the record books. There ain’t enough asterisks in the library to acknowledge that chump as King.

6. ULTIMATE SACRIFICE FLIES: Rule 2.0 indicates that a caught ball only counts as an out if the “release of the ball is voluntary and intentional.” Therefore, if you catch a fly ball and cannot take it out of your glove under your own power it is not an out. (I once saw Andre Dawson get an inside the park homer after Dave Martinez severely injured himself making a diving catch that he could not remove the ball from his glove.) This means that if you die making the third out it’s not the third out! I am not advocating that baseball is worth dying for (that’s what the NFL is for!) but c’mon, if it does happen are you gonna let that guy die in vain? Give a stiff a break (or a second one, if a cracked neckbone was the cause of death).

7. GARTERLESS GARNISHMENTS: There has to be some way to reward players for wearing high socks and stirrups! While a team could certainly impose a dress code I feel a player should have a choice, but should also be genuinely compensated for making baseball look like baseball. Since sabermetric wonks would sizzle if the reward actually gave each player a free point on their batting average or off their ERA, it should be an across the board/all team financial bonus written into every contract, thus not forcing the useless faux-garters upon those one who find it an affront to their personal style, but making such players pay for their vanity.

8: WHAT PART OF “COMPLETE GAME” DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND?: Longtime Zisk readers will recall my disgust with Major League Baseball negating all no-hitters pitched by either losing pitchers on the road (which would mean only eight innings pitched) or hurlers in rain-shortened games, seemingly declaring that a minimum nine-innings constitutes a complete game (even though I assume hundreds of pitchers have been awarded complete games for losing road games). This implies that a rain-shortened official game that is done and counts in not complete, which demonstrates a poor working knowledge of the dictionary. No-hitters change the fabric of baseball reality.  Only counting no-hitters of a certain length is a rule crafted by people who profoundly do not understand baseball.

9. NO INSTANT REPLAY! Ever! Unless it benefits my team.

BONUS: Not so much a rule, but a rule of thumb, that is one of my most deeply held baseball beliefs:

THE EIGHT GAME RULE: Because of pitching quirks, everyone on the field being a major league player, baseball’s weirdness, and the On Any Given Day maxim, any team, no matter how good or awful, can win or lose eight consecutive games without it standing as a testament to true greatness or awfulness. But if you win or lose nine games in arrow, get ready to celebrate/rebuild!

Jake Austen is editor of Roctober magazine and co-author Playground, his forthcoming collaboration with Paul Zone of the Fast, a coffee table book of photographs and stories from New York’s early 70s pre-punk scene that comes out in February. As of 9/4/13 he still has not given up on the 2013 White Sox. (24 games out with 25 games left...but only 20 out of the Wild Card!)

My Top 10 Favorite Baseball Nicknames by Tim Hinely

Many athletes have nicknames as each individual sport has its share of characters. In football, we had The Juice for O.J. Simpson. In basketball, we had Earvin “Magic” Johnson for what he could do on the court (pass, man, pass).  Hockey? How about Bobby “The Golden Jet” Hull?

My dad? Pernel Hinely? Ok, he was no athlete, but he was always known as Whitey for his blonde hair. (The only person I had ever heard call him Pernel was his mom, my dear old grandma.) But I digress.

Let’s face it though, folks, baseball has the best nicknames! Babe Ruth was the Sultan of Swat while Ted Williams was The Splendid Splinter. Moving on into the 70’s there was Orlando “Baby Bull” Cepeda and my all-time favorite player, Willie Stargell, known as Pops, the elder statesman on a young Pittsburgh Pirates team. There have been so many characters in our fine sport. Here are my ten favorite nicknames. (I’ve left Pops off the list as I’ve already mentioned him.)

1) Don “Stan the Man Unusual” Stanhouse: Played in the majors for a decade for several teams (A’s, Expo’s, Orioles, etc.) but always had a crazy ‘fro and his clubhouse antics (shrieking for no apparent reason). Apparently Earl Weaver used to call him “Fullpack” as Weaver used to burn through a full pack o’ cigs with worry while Stanhouse was on the mound.

2) Al “The Mad Hungarian’ Hrabosky: Played from 1970 to 1982.  Hrabosky earned his nickname due to his unusual last name as well as his antics on the mound trying to psyche batters out, walking around the mound and slamming the ball into his mitt. The fu-manchu moustache certainly didn’t hurt either.

3) Steve “Lefty” Carlton: Four-time Cy Young award winner played for several teams in his 20-plus year career, though most of his acclaim came with the Phillies. He was a southpaw (duh), refused to speak to reporters and had some unusual ideas about the U.S. government. Yup, he was a weirdo all right.  Let’s always remember, 27-10 with a 1.98 ERA for the last place ’72 Phillies.

4) Ron “Louisiana Lightning” Guidry: A Yankee for his entire 13-year career Guidry was slight in build (most of his career he hovered around the 150 pound mark), but man the guy could throw heat, thus his nickname. Who could forget his 1978 season: 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA! Great ‘stache, too.

5) John “Blue Moon” Odom: I always thought this Oakland A’s ace was nicknamed as such because he could only get the ball over the plate “every blue moon” (not true) but later found out it was a grade school classmate’s nickname. I hope he has his life together now (he had a few arrests in 1985). He and Vida Blue made a formidable duo for the A’s.

6) Bill “Spaceman” Lee: Undoubtedly one of the game’s most colorful characters and true oddballs. Spaceman only played for two teams, Red Sox and Expos, in his 13 years career (I thought it was more). He often talked about population control, Greenpeace and sprinkling weed on his pancakes. We need more guys like him in the majors.

7) Willie “Stretch’ McCovey: McCovey played the beginning and end of his career as a San Francisco Giant (with the Padres and A’s between) but hey, the water behind right field in the Giants ballpark is called McCovey Cove so that means something, right? His nickname? Just because he was so darn tall (6’ 6”).

8) Harmon “Killer” Killebrew: A big, corn-fed boy from Idaho (lots of potatoes, too), Killebrew, was a Minnesota Twin, used to frighten opposing pitchers for his home run frequency (he’d hit ‘em a mile too), thus his nickname. He left us in 2011 at age 74 but not before they named the street in front of Mall of America Killebrew Drive.

9) Carl “Yaz” Yastrzemski: Yaz may have been Long Islander of Polish descent but to Red Sox fans he was a Bostonian through and through (playing all of his 21-year career with the Bosox). Ever hear folks utter “Carl Yaz” in one a thick Boston accents? It’s a gas!

10) “Stormin’ Gorman Thomas: Oh sure, he may have looked like a Hell’s Angel for part of his playing career but Thomas was just a good ol’ boy from South Carolina. Apparently he used to walk around the clubhouse mimicking The Fonz before he finally settled down and began blasting home runs. 45 of them in 1979. Yup, this guy was the real deal.

And what the hell…one more.
11) Ross “Scuz” Grimsley: Apparently he would not shower during winning streaks.

And here’s five I did not know when I was growing up:

1) Johnny Bench: The Little General
2) Lou Brock: The Franchise
3) Don Drysdale: Big D
4) Al Kaline: Salty
5) Juan Marichal: The Dominican Dandy

Perhaps next time we’ll discuss Greg “The Bull” Luzinski, Ken “Zamboni” Reitz, Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, Dave “The Cobra” Parker, Dave “Kong” (or “Sky King”) Kingman, Rick “The Whale” Reuschel, Mick “The Quick” Rivers, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Marty “Taco” Perez, Ron “The Penguin” Cey, Bill “Mad Dog” Madlock and a few others.

Tim Hinely has called New Jersey, California, Oregon and now Colorado home. He has been doing his own music zine, DAGGER, for 26 years. Check it out at

Thirty Ballparks: Our Life in the Major Leagues by Abby and Jesse Mendelson

When we had done it once, then done it a second time, seen a game in every major league baseball park, Jesse had contrived to have our names put on the Marlins' scoreboard, June 2013. Hail to the two of us, father and son, who'd made the journey of many thousands of miles once, then made it again.
Years before Jesse was born, Abby thought it a worthy goal to see a game in every major league ballpark—an idea so outrageous that it seemed prohibitive. Though Pittsburgh is uniquely positioned within a few hundred miles of nearly a dozen stadia, who would reasonably travel the 2600 miles from Pittsburgh to Seattle or California for a ballgame? In the ’70s, not many people.
Nevertheless, there was always the lure of the ballparks. At their best, they represent baseball's majesty and grace. At their worst, they’re dank warehouses where baseball seems an afterthought.  But with baseball being the only sport where the parks are permitted differences within the field itself—indeed, each has diverse dimensions, design features, views, approaches, and playing surfaces—they were all worth a look, all worth a try.
Then time and opportunity presented themselves.  And after Jesse was born, and grew into a baseball fan, we found reasons to go—planned family vacations around visits to ballparks, setting the pegs into place one by one.
At first, Jesse was not yet five. Within a year, he was holding up baseball cards of each batter. By the end of that summer, he was noting ballplayer idiosyncrasies, imitating their swings. Before he was halfway finished with elementary school, he was keeping his own scorebooks.
By 2000 Jesse had graduated college and had time and talent on his hands. Why not make a swing through the South and Midwest and knock off a bunch of ballparks? And the following year cheap flights took us far west. A drive to Milwaukee's new Miller Park did the deal in 2001. All 30! En route, we celebrated that the retractable roof meant the game must go on; in seat, we celebrated over Leinenkugels.

Almost immediately, cities from D.C. to San Diego built new ballyards—unceremoniously knocking us from our perch, requiring more travel. One by one, we filled those in, too.
Accomplishments like this take time and timing.  A willingness to pay the price—and a willingness to spend a great deal of time on the road. And in each other’s company.  Clearly, such journeys are not for the faint of heart or quick of temper.
Journeys like this take the ability to stare at endless mountains, prairies, and oceans white with foam—not to mention deserts—out of car windows.  But such journeys also promise a great deal of value added—sights like St. Louis’ Gateway Arch, Colorado Springs’ Garden of the Gods, San Francisco’s Alcatraz, Seattle’s Space Needle, and New Orleans’ French Quarter, among others.
But even with all those delights, they require deliberately ignoring burrs under saddles that are the inevitable part of any relationship in close quarters—and closer DNA.
One fellow, whom we ran into in Kansas City, said he could see himself driving the same 7,000 miles with his father—assuming they didn’t leave the driveway.
When Jesse was too young to drive, Abby did all the steering. Later, we shared the chores, Jesse generally acting as navigator. In the pre-GPS era, we relied on AAA maps—and Jesse’s trusty pretzel log to measure distances.  (It was just about 20 miles, as the road wound, and delivered us to Dallas’ Dealey Plaza in precisely the time the pretzel said it would.)
Eschewing expensive hotels, we stayed with friends or at nearby Motel 6’s—where, yes, they left the lights on for us. The rooms were clean, comfortable, and equipped with hot showers and ESPN. We didn’t need anything else.

Somewhere along the endless ribbon of highway we decided that we would rate the ballparks on a five-point scale.  Ones were the lowest, with nary a speck to recommend them as places to take one's ease and watch a ballgame. Fives, on the other end of the scale, all had a touch of genius—some incredible visual or experiential treat that was wholly unexpected, wholly unique.  In between were the serviceable (2), fine (3), and very good (4).  We never permitted a 4, no matter how inviting, to morph into a 5. (My, how Coors Field tested that statement.) A true 5 has something extraordinary about it.

People ask us if we ever fight about these ratings. Our answer is no—except Olympic Stadium.  Facing Montreal's earth-shatteringly hideous dungeon, which baseball has mercifully abandoned, Jesse gave it a Zero. He argued that irrespective of the fact that they played baseball in the building, Stade Olympique had not one redeeming quality. Abby argued against that rating, claiming on the basis of intellectual honesty that if we have a five-point scale, and if they play ball in a stadium, then it deserves at least a one.
It remains an unresolved dispute.

Cast, in Order of Appearance:
Although we began going to ballparks together in the early 1980s, and so saw many that are no longer in existence, for this accounting we pick up the narrative in 1984, when we saw our first still-extant ballparks.  Visiting friends and family in California, we laid hands on tickets up and down the coast.
We begin in Oakland; throughout, for continuity, we call the ballparks by their names when we visited.  (Oakland, for example, changed names four times since we first saw it, Miami five, and so on.)

Oakland, Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, 1984
Sadly recast as a multi-purpose stadium (the last of its kind in either baseball or football) when the Raiders returned to Oakland in 1996, they turned a solid 4—for its open vistas, and view of Northern California’s gentle, rolling hills—into a dull, enclosed, concrete-heavy 2.
Our first visit was on Jesse’s seventh birthday, our second on the West Coast Tour, 2001. Our first visit was on a sun-drenched Sunday. Our second introduced us to Ichiro. Both memories still bring smiles.
Rating: 4/2
Don’t Miss: The All-You-Can-Eat seats, upper deck behind Home Plate. Simply scrumptious.

Los Angeles, Dodger Stadium, 1984
Once touted as America’s most beautiful ballpark, and now one of the most senior, the old girl has aged well. Open to the sunny Southern California climate, it retains all its old glory.
Rating: 4
Don’t Miss: Dodger Dogs, the picnic area behind left field, and the celebrities.

Anaheim, Anaheim Stadium, 1984
First open, then closed, then opened again, now it’s just big.  When the fans get going, they’re the main attraction.  So try to see the Angels when they're winning.
Rating: 3
Don’t Miss: The size 649 ½ size hat outside the main gate, California Spectacular.

Baltimore, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, 1993

We simply fell in love with the retro atmosphere.  The intimacy of the park, the closeness of the adjacent—and indigenous—warehouse, made us rate Camden Yards as our overall favorite. Adding a level of dramatic tension, like Boston’s Green Monster, the warehouse—looming over the rightfield wall—seems to challenge hitters to hit the bricks— or take out windows.  (When we were there, a star marked the junior Griffey’s home-run derby clout that scarred the surface.) Clearly, this was the stuff of genius.
Rating: 5 (#1 overall)
Don’t Miss: Eutaw Street, the olde time city street built into the ballpark environs. Hall of Fame plaques, cold beer, and Boog’s BBQ. Is there more to life?

Cleveland, Jacobs Field, 1994
Having friends in Cleveland got us to The Jake in its premier season. Although the confines are close, the pitch of the seats was a bit much for us. As was the incessant marketing—a harbinger of things to come, as, these days, seemingly every available inch of every ballpark is dedicated to selling somebody something.
Rating: 4
Don’t Miss: Heritage Park, an homage to all things Indian, behind center field.  Also, the flagpole on the concourse behind left field.  Don't think we’ve ever seen one bigger.

Boston, Fenway Park, 1997
The second-highest four in our evaluation, Fenway Park has everything to recommend it: scale, size, setting, history, quirkiness. Like everyone else on the planet, we loved everything about it.

Having said that, no, we didn’t swoon over the huge pillars throughout the lower deck, and the Green Monster, less a clever design feature than an architectural afterthought.  Something had to keep the balls out of the street, even when a long hit in the deadball era went 100 feet.
Rating: 4 (Proof that ballpark atmosphere doesn’t count in the rankings)
Don’t Miss: Anything—so go at least an hour early and take it all in.

Toronto, Skydome, 1998
Hitting Canada on July 5th, we were just in time to see now-disgraced hurler Roger Clemens toss his 3,000th K en route to his second consecutive Cy Young as a Blue Jay.

While we were duly impressed with that achievement, we were less taken with the cavernous ballpark which looks out at—no, into a hotel. Granted, Toronto’s frighteningly variable weather wreaks havoc with baseball schedules, necessitating some sort of roof or dome. Nevertheless, the sheer size of such structures, here and elsewhere, make for something less than an aesthetically pleasing experience.
Rating: 2
Don’t Miss: More than $500 million worth of artwork positioned around the stadium.

Chicago, Wrigley Field, 1998
Our second-favorite ballpark, Wrigley Field seems the perfect place to watch a game. The neighborhood, the legendary ivy, the friendly confines—they did everything right with Wrigley Field, and never did it better.
Rating: 5 (#2 overall)
Don’t Miss: The upper deck. Walk up, look out at Lake Michigan. There’s nothing like it in baseball.

Chicago, Comiskey Park, 1998
Hailed as a modernist masterpiece when it was built, the so-called New Comiskey quickly foundered in the tide of Camden Yards-style retro parks.  While such revisionist critiques are inherently unfair, we were not overly impressed with any single thing but it was nice enough.
Rating: 3
Don’t Miss: The Chicagoland Plumbing Council Shower, and the eight sculptures honoring retired such White Sox greats as Minnie Minoso, Nellie Fox and Frank “The Big Hurt” Thomas.

Detroit, Comerica Park, 2000
Our Midwest Swing began with a day trip to Detroit, the first of 7,000 miles we put on our then-new little blue Mazda Although Detroit is pretty much of a wreck, the view of downtown is rousing, and there are lots of things for kids to do, notably climb on the outsized tiger statue and ride the carousel (where every seat is a tiger, too.)
Rating: 3
Don’t Miss:
The action monuments behind the outfield.  It’s worth the trip just to see Hall of Famers Ty Cobb, Charlie Gehringer and Hank Greenberg back in action again, frozen in time.

Tampa Bay, Tropicana Field, 2000
Granted, you have to play indoors in Florida, at least if you want to draw more than mosquitoes. But the dull, dark Trop felt like nothing so much as a warehouse. Attention, K-Mart shoppers!
And baseball on a carpet still looks stupid.
Rating: 1
Don't Miss: When we went, they were still called the Devil Rays and the parking lot had lights swirled and made manta ray shadows. They were neat—and are probably gone now. Inside, the Cigar Bar is unique and worth a stop. A new feature, absolutely worth the trip, is the Ted Williams Museum/Hitters Hall of Fame. We saw it in its original, now bankrupt, location in Hernando, near where Teddy lived.  It moved, en masse, to the Trop, in 2006. Give yourself plenty of time. It’s grand.

Arlington, The Ballpark at Arlington, 2000
There’s all those urban myths about everything being bigger in Texas—and it’s the case at the Arlington Ballpark.  Everything about it is HUGE—the field, the stands, the T-ball field and office façade behind the outfield.  Brilliantly designed, it all works magnificently.  It's all Texas, and all terrific.
Rating: 5 (#4 overall)
Don’t Miss: The frieze atop the outer walls tells the tale of Texas. It’s a grand history lesson in relief, and completely unique across baseball.

Houston, Enron Field, 2000
Feeling honored that we saw it when it was still called Enron, we were less honored when we walked in. Sadly, they tried to be oh-so-clever—everywhere. Here’s a rising outfield like Crosley Field. There’s an in-play flagpole like Yankee Stadium. Here’s pinball-like Dr. Pepper advertisements—in left center field. Here’s a short left field like Fenway. And bleachers like Wrigley! To top it off, literally, there’s a moving train to remind the unwary that the site once housed Union Station.

Of course, it’s a story of architects overdesigning by half.  The best ballparks—Wrigley Field, for instance—simply, quietly, gracefully tell their story and step aside to let the game take center stage. Instead, Enron, now Minute Maid, keeps shouting, hey, look at me!

The enormous retractable roof is overwhelming and oppressive, making a relatively intimate ballpark into a huge edifice. And all the dojiggers in the ballpark are enormously distracting. We were exhausted before they played the game.
Rating: 3
Don’t Miss: Union Station Lobby—the park’s main entrance—complete with Roman columns and vaulted ceilings. 

Kansas City, Kaufmann Stadium, 2000
For our money, it’s the best of the modernist ballparks—open, easy, sunlit and serene. Great long lines, great views, great use of a fountain, and the nicest fans in the country.
Rating: 4
Don’t Miss: A stroll around the perimeter before the game—a ritual we always perform. The view from the outfield, including aforementioned fountain, is as lovely and restful as the view out of the park to gently rolling Missouri farmland.

Atlanta, Turner Field, 2000
Hightailing it from St. Louis in one day (by pretzel or Google, it’s still 555 miles, and one time zone change), we were thrilled just to get out of the car. Since Turner Field began as Olympic Stadium, it used to be larger by 36,000 seats. It’s still noticeably big but pulls off a very difficult feat: it feels intimate.
Rating: 4
Don’t Miss: The Fan Plaza behind the outfield, which inhabits the area where the rest of the Olympic Stadium once stood. Also, what feels like 363 pennant and division champion flags around the stadium.

Pittsburgh, PNC Park, 2001
Three Rivers Stadium (1970-2000), hailed in its time as an engineering marvel, was a cold, uninviting, multi-purpose monstrosity. Imploded in early 2001, it was replaced by PNC Park and Heinz Field, two infinitely better ballyards.

For its part, PNC is a splendid bandbox of a park, 38,000-odd seats, open to Pittsburgh’s compact downtown, magnificent skyline, Clemente Bridge, and the shimmering Allegheny River. While we disagree with what some say, that it’s America’s best ballpark—because we believe PNC lacks a touch of real genius that the other five stars enjoy (e.g., the outer façade is uninteresting, and it hardly takes a genius to open to the skyline and river)—it remains one of the most satisfying places in America to watch a baseball game. And to date we haven’t found a bad seat in the house!
Rating: 4
Don’t Miss: A walk to the park across the Roberto Clemente Bridge. Strolling high above the Allegheny River, you see the entire expanse of the park open before you. We don’t know of a prettier sight in baseball.

Denver, Coors Field, 2001
The best of the four-star ballparks, Coors Field. Truly a gorgeous place to watch a game. However, hard as we tried, we could find nothing amazing about it. Nothing, Jesse said at the time, age 23, about which he would tell his grandchildren.

An added bonus is, given the thin air a mile above sea level, man!, that ball really motors!
Rating: 4
Don’t Miss: The glimpse of the Rockies out right field, and the First Tribes vendors outside the stadium selling pees-TAH-choze.  They’re wonderful.

Phoenix, Bank One Ballpark, 2001
Oh, that desert sun. Hard to remember the strike count when you're wilting in the heat.

Of course, the ballpark formerly known as The BOB has a retractable roof. But between the black interior, and the huge panels in the outfield, it feels as though the structure was originally built to house a squadron of B-52s. For those of us who love baseball for its intimacy and subtlety, gigantic indoor ballparks like Phoenix simply defeat the purpose.
Rating: 3
Don't Miss: The pool! At least somebody was cool.

San Francisco, Pacific Bell Park 2001
When the Giants moved west in 1958, they constructed one of the worst baseball parks in baseball history. Candlestick was justifiably infamous—and woefully unpopular—for its impossible winds and frigid temperatures.

Brilliantly, the Giants replaced one of America’s most dreadful ballparks with one of the best. With respectful nods to the past, Pac Bell is an old-style park with some modern amenities—such as a two-tier open-air outfield walkway, the single best outside approach in the majors, and a startling, jaw-drawing view of San Francisco Bay. This is a beautiful, brilliant addition to the canon of American ballparks.
Rating: 5 (#3 overall)
Don’t Miss: A peak in from the knothole section at McCovey Cove. Lovingly, it reminds us of a time when, one way or another, fans could see games for free.

Seattle, Safeco Field, 2001
The Saturday we were in Seattle, it was gorgeous. The Sunday, aka game day, it was classic Pacific Northwest: rainy and grey. Who said retractable roofs have no place? Certainly not us, though they make parks like Safeco quite a bit less pretty. Inside, out of the rain, there was a bit too much dark and dread. Feeling as if we were somehow in an Edgar Poe story, we checked under the seats for mossy things growing out of control. While we didn’t find anything, we did enjoy Ichiro in all his rookie-year glory.
Rating: 3
Don’t Miss: The baseball bat chandelier and the Bainbridge Island ferry docked down the road.

Milwaukee, Miller Park, 2001
En route to the park, another domed edifice, Jesse proclaimed his everlasting love for retractable roof parks, since it didn’t matter if it hailed outside—inside we’d be completing the cycle! That said, The Beer Keg is big and brassy and domed, and from a distance looks like some alien spaceship in the Wisconsin dairy lands.  But we’ll always love it. That said, it’s no more than OK as a ballyard.
Rating: 3
Don't Miss: The Teamwork sculpture honoring the three workers who died in the stadium’s construction; the Sausage Race (this is the original—every other team has copied the Brewers); Bernie Brewer’s slide after a Brew Crew blast.

Cincinnati, Great American Ball Park, 2003
The first new ballpark to open after we completed our first go-round in ’01, Great American really isn’t. Down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh, this park is a whole lot of nothing special. The Queen City's Labor Day fireworks, however, are the best these reporters have ever seen. Viewed from the Ohio Riverwalk, adjacent to the ballpark, it’s a truly wondrous, Earth-shaking event.
Rating: 3
Don’t Miss: The Gap, the 35-foot hole between home plate and third base, through which you can see the gleaming city skyline.

Philadelphia, Citizens Bank Park, 2004
As ballparks opened in the new millennium, we found them even more a lot of nothing special. The Philly skyline is too far away to be appreciated, and the stadium parking lots are positively airport-like. However, the park does boast the best team hall of fame (Ashburn Alley) this side of the Yankees' Monument Park—as well as a famous and passionate fan base.
Rating: 3
Don't Miss: The Liberty Bell. No, it’s not in the ballpark, or anywhere near it, but there’s not much else to recommend at the Philly field, and this monument to American freedom is worth a tip of your cap.

San Diego, Petco Park, 2005
Taking a page from Camden Yards, they incorporated an adjacent warehouse into the park, which seemed a bit too precious for us. In fact, everything seems to intersect the park in San Diego, including the adjacent hotel and the outfield berm. What bothered us most, though, was the lack of approach, since the front of the ballpark actually faces the river, where no one enters. It earns its high ranking largely as a neighborhood piece to rival Fenway, and as an architectural success—one can tell how hard it was to build this.
Rating: 4
Don’t Miss: The views from the grandstand, which include the skyline, Balboa Park, and San Diego Bay.

St. Louis, Busch Stadium, 2006
It’s hard to argue with the appellation that the Gateway City is the best baseball town in America.  If it’s not, we’d like to see one better.
To celebrate the game, and to replace the old multipurpose Busch Stadium, the new Busch Stadium features more red (seats, brick, concourse signs) than seemingly anywhere else on Earth, and a spectacular view of the Gateway Arch hovering above center field.
Our visit this time reminded us of one made a half-dozen years prior, in the good old PED days, when the balls flew out of the yard at an alarming rate and velocity. On our ’00 visit, 40,000 people showed up to see Messrs Bonds and McGwire take BP.  Bonds, hitting lefty, shattered lights on the scoreboard.  Not to be outdone, Mac parked ’em in the fourth deck.  This time, things were understandably a bit more subdued.
Rating: 4
Don’t Miss: The eleven statues around the outside of the park. Even more, take a trip to the Gateway Arch and the Lewis & Clark Museum underneath.  Not in the ballpark, of course, but if there is another indication of the size and scope of the American Dream, we haven’t found it.

Washington, Nationals Park, 2008
With baseball back in the nation’s capitol, the Nats moved out of the cavernous and ugly RFK Stadium and into a ballpark very much in the vein of Comerica, Citizens Bank, and Great American. A nice enough place to watch a game, but special is not a word to describe anything in this park.
Rating: 3
Don’t Miss: The stunning view of the U.S. Capitol building from the left field upper deck. It’s far, but worth the trek.

New York, Citi Field, 2011
Don't get us wrong: we like Citi Field. We just think it’s wrongheaded. Designed as an homage to Ebbets Field and Jackie Robinson, the Mets, as a franchise, never had anything to do with either of them.  (But owner Fred Wilpon grew up a Dodgers fan, so…) Yet #42, and the old Dodgers home, are everywhere, in outsized photos and excessive overdesign. Worth nothing is that only after the team received innumerable complaints did they add Mets history into the building, which makes Citi Field more palatable, but not enough.
Rating: 4
Don’t Miss: Shea Bridge and the Mets Hall of Fame.  Rightly, the latter recognizes the Mets’ many great players, from the Terrific Tom Seaver and Tug McGraw to the severely troubled Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry.  Somehow they managed to stuff all that greatness into New York uniforms without the Yankee bombast. Makes you think of great baseball feats and gives you hope for humanity.

New York, Yankee Stadium, 2011
Well, it’s New York, New York, and it has to be bigger than everything else (yes, even Texas).  This, the third iteration of the House that Ruth Built, is simply massive—it seems to dwarf the entire borough of the Bronx.
Not warm, the antithesis of inviting, nevertheless this Yankee Stadium, with the trademark fluted facade, is sufficiently majestic to say baseball.
Rating: 4
Don’t Miss: OK, they tout their own mythology endlessly, to a fault.  We mean, how many more tearful memories of Mickey Mantle can we tolerate?  Having said that, the newly recast Monument Park is the best of its kind by a mile, if for no other reason than it celebrates some of the game's greatest players. Worth the long lines, it’s a fitting tribute to guys like Whitey, Yogi and Joe D who really earned it.

Minneapolis, Target Field, 2012
In some ways, the perfect way to shoehorn a contemporary ballpark into an urban setting, Target Field feels so comfortable in Downtown Minneapolis it’s hard to believe it wasn't always there. We especially liked the retro sign in center featuring the original Twins’ logo!
Rating: 4
Don’t Miss: The Metro Ride right to the ballpark. The train runs all the way from the airport, and is quick, inexpensive, and loaded with fans talking baseball.

Miami, Marlins Park, 2013
By now, it’s a familiar refrain: indoor baseball simply doesn't feel like baseball at all.  It certainly doesn't in Miami.
Replacing the bloated and grossly unpopular Joe Robbie/Pro Player/Dolphins/Dolphin/Land Shark/Sun Life Stadium, at the Sunday afternoon interleague tilt we witnessed in 2000, we counted a mere 52 empty sections.  Marlins Park puts forth a nice effort, but ultimately isn't much better.
For openers, the park—in just its second season—is so underused, unwanted, and huge that the club has permanently closed the upper deck. With a chance to create a baseball-themed interior, the art gallery owner chose nauseous green and stark white walls, which seem more antiseptic and alien than interesting.
OK, the lights of Downtown Miami make a nice display out of the outfield windows, and the steel and glass views from the outside are unique, but the feeling is less of sitting at a baseball game than sailing on a bilious cruise in choppy waters.
And the Red Grooms sculpture in centerfield is more silly than stirring.
Rating: 2
Don’t Miss: The bobblehead display case—quite possibly the best value-added of any stadium in the majors.  Jiggling like an old Buick on a stretch of bad road, your favorite ’heads from every team dance before your eyes.  Makes you want to be a kid again. 

The Next Act:
The major leagues seem to have taken a well-deserved building breather.  Although the A’s are talking about moving from Oakland to San Jose, the turf wars down there in the Peninsula aren’t comforting.  The Giants claim the territory is theirs.  The A’s say they’ll open San Jose's proposed Cisco Field in 2016.
Will they?
We have no idea.
But our bags are packed and sitting by the door.
We’re ready.

Abby Mendelson is a writer and educator in Pittsburgh whose books include histories of the Pittsburgh Steelers, studies of Pittsburgh neighborhoods and houses of worship, among others.  Jesse Mendelson, his son, is a healthcare consultant in Washington, D.C., inveterate baseball traveler like his dad, and skilled fantasy player.

How Don Zimmer Saved America by Rev. Norb

“There’s a full moon over Miller Park tonight. Kinda looks like Don Zimmer.”
—Bob Uecker, 2013

September 20, 2001. Yankees at White Sox. My first post-9/11 baseball game. A mere nine days removed from the cataclysmic events of the previous Tuesday, I was attempting to drink away my nerves with about twenty-two thousand other brave souls in a just-over-half-full Comiskey Park. Just prior to opening weekend that year (which now seemed like it happened about half a lifetime ago, in a world inhabited by sparkly unicorns and marshmallow Peeps®) the Milwaukee Journal released a special section previewing the upcoming season (as well as touting the opening of brand-new Miller Park, and the can’t-miss heart of the Brewers order: Geoff Jenkins, Richie Sexson, Jeromy Burnitz and Jeffrey Hammonds. World Series tickIIITTTS!!! Getcha World Series tickets hyah!!!), into which they managed to cram agate listings of the entire schedule of each of Major League Baseball’s thirty teams. I had taken inventory of every single MLB game I’d seen in the past (which, admittedly, wasn’t a huge amount), and, after some fairly intense figgerin’, came to the conclusion that if I made judicious use of a few three-day weekends in order to travel to places like Cincinnati and St. Louis and Cleveland and Detroit and also hit Comiskey Park and the Metrodome a few times (in addition to regular pilgrimages to Miller Park, of course), I could, by season’s end, lay claim to having seen all thirty MLB teams play in my lifetime. The Yankees were—somewhat fittingly, I guess—the last team on the checklist, thus the Yankees-Sox game was to be my crowning achievement—the cherry on the top of a whirlwind, drunken summer—no band to tour, no skirts to chase—just interstate highways, cheap hotels, overpriced beer, and BASEBALL. With the cancellation of the prior week’s games, however, the Yankees slid up into the penultimate spot, team #29 of 30, collect ‘em all, as the Brewers-Marlins game for which I had tickets was one of the games scuttled due to Osama bin Jerkwad’s heinousness. Far from being a celebration of the baseball season (and of my own lunatic charge at a relatively meaningless personal goal), the Yankees-Sox game was, instead, an exercise in white-knuckled tension. They’d just started playing games again that Monday, and, as if the attacks on New York and DC weren’t enough, who knew what the hell else these bastards had up their sleeves? We still felt like we were taking our lives in our hands venturing out into mass gatherings like this. I had phoned my brother to let him know where I was going that night, and left him explicit instructions to NOT tell our father where I was going…unless, you know, something happens. In which case, please tell him that I died happy, having seen twenty-nine out of thirty major league baseball teams, and who’d count missing the Marlins against me, anyway?

There are worse places to be than Comiskey Park if you fear terrorist intrusion. Even the guys who wave your car to your parking spot lack necks and have handguns tucked into the back of the waistbands of their pants. I figure if there are any religious wackos raising hell in the parking lot of the Baptist church where I always park, they’ll probably be terminated with extreme prejudice in short order, or else they’ll fit right in. Yet, as I sit among my fear-faced counterparts twenty rows behind the plate—the atmosphere electric for all the wrong reasons—I am well aware that the guys with guns but no necks aren’t going to keep me safe from an incoming plane or a bomb or anthrax in my Comiskey Meal™ or toxic Joker Jelly spewing forth from the bathroom showers. Still, we gather together this Thursday night, huddled in the uncomfortably comfortable mid-September breeze, because, in some way, shape, or form, deep within our reptilian forebrains, we know we must. Some of us go because we believe it’s our patriotic responsibility. Some of us go because we believe it’s our duty as a fan. Some of us go because we believe that, if we don’t, the terrorists have won (no one is sure what the terrorists might, in fact, win, if lapses in our national recreation habits cede this match to them. However, we are certain they are assholes, and, therefore, MUST NOT EMERGE FROM THIS VICTORIOUS!). Me, I’m just going so I can say I saw the fucking Yankees once in my life and be done with it. In any event, here we all are, righteous Americans at the ball park, scared shitless. Play ball.

    After what seems like interminable preparatory fol-de-rol, the singer of our national anthem emerges from whatever bulletproof shed in which she was stored. It’s our time to shine—our time to give throat to our bloodied-but-unbowed collective spirit—our time to beller our national theme song forth, twenty-odd-thousand strong, with a voice so powerful—so indomitable—so resonant and righteous—that Osama bin Numbnuts, half a world away, will surely take note and quail in whatever hole in the ground he’s taken his cowardly refuge. Like Dr. Seuss said, it’s good for dusty, musty throats to let out lusty, musty notes! It’s good for people, frogs and goats to open up and sing! Take that, jerkface!

    The national anthem is a shameful flop. The singer sings it like she’s auditioning for American Idol™. The crowd starts out singing in unison, but can’t follow this dipshit’s vocal hotdogging for more than a few bars, and begin to drop out, en masse. By the end of the song, the crowd—fiercely committed to a patriotic sing-a-long just minutes prior—are now mostly silent, mumbling the remaining words arhythmically, like a half-hearted recitation of a prayer known by heart at church when keeping silent would be preferred but known to be unacceptable. Everyone applauds long and loud, of course, and makes a big deal out of things, but, given the circumstances of the past nine days, that’s sort of a foregone conclusion and doesn’t mean a hell of a lot. In point of fact, the crowd now seems even more skittish and despairing: If singing the Star-Spangled Banner together nine days after 9/11 wasn’t our Big Fix, what WILL be? Will anything? Jesus, Mary and Joseph, how fucked are we???

    No bombs, planes, or toxic effusions of Joker Jelly interfere with the game before Chuck Knoblauch steps to the plate for the Yankees, facing off against Kip Wells on the mound for the Sox. The Neckless Wonders have done their job: I have officially Seen The Yankees. Kip Wells sends Knoblauch down swinging, and repeats the process on Derek Jeter. The crowd roars its approval at each strikeout, sorta like a World Series game where half the fans were out getting liver transplants or something. Bernie Williams, the number three guy in the Yankees’ order, strides to the plate. The crowd settles in, ever-so-slightly: Wells’ two K’s right off the bat (so to speak) is an interesting enough start that the game has started to grab people’s attention ever-so-slightly, with the hellish events of the past nine days temporarily compartmentalized off to the side. And then, it happens: Without warning, Wells uncorks a fastball that drills Bernie Williams right in the noggin, sending the Yankees’ center fielder down in a heap like a discarded puppet. This wasn’t a mere brushback pitch, nor one that got away, nor a routine plunk on the shoulder meant to square accounts for some other routine plunking that happened two weeks ago Tuesday, this was a fucking kill shot—a laser beam right to the batting helmet. The crowd—having seen all too many images of senseless violence over the course of the last nine days—freezes, open-mouthed. I start thinking about how the pitch that killed Indians’ shortstop Ray Chapman in 1920 rebounded off Chapman’s head with such force that Yankees pitcher Carl Mays, thinking it was a bunt, fielded the ball and threw to first. What Wells was thinking, I have no clue: The Yankees pitchers hadn’t hit any batters during the prior two games of the series, and it seemed like an awfully odd time in our nation’s history for one American to go randomly drilling another American (okay, Bernie Williams was actually Puerto Rican, but still) in the head with a weaponized sports projectile. Williams is still lying in a crumpled heap as the dugouts empty. The White Sox charge in from the third base side! The Yankees charge in from the first base side—and who’s leading the charge? THAT’S RIGHT!!! DON ZIMMER!!! Don Zimmer! DON SON-OF-A-BITCHING ZIMMER!!! Don Zimmer, seventy years old and 300-odd pounds! Don Zimmer, Joe Torre’s right-hand man! Don Zimmer, a septuagenarian baseball lifer who’s sported four metal screws in his head since getting bonked with a pitch in 1953! Don Zimmer: Charlie Brown’s head on Fat Albert’s body!!! Incalculably—improbably—impossibly—Zimmer is indeed leading the Yankees’ charge to the mound, running at full sprint (bearing in mind that “full sprint” for Don Zimmer is actually something akin to a swift waddle), yards ahead of the able-bodied millionaire twenty-somethings that comprise the remainder of the Yankees’ roster. Numerous flecks of spittle are flying out of Zimmer’s mouth as he charges the mound, waving his arms around in a histrionic pantomime similar to that of a pro wrestling referee who knows his words can’t be heard beyond the first few rows of folding chairs, and has to use his body language to convey the story to the saps up in the mezzanine. Zimmer’s comical fury is the catalyst that performs the function the national anthem was supposed to, but didn’t: To a man, the crowd jumps to their feet, screaming wildly. RAAAAAAAAGGHHHHHH!!!! The Sox fans are screaming RAAAAAAAAGGHHHHHH!!! The Yankee fans are screaming RAAAAAGGHHHHH!!! Everyone in the damn stadium is screaming RAAAAAAAAGGHHHHHH!!!, screaming it at the top of their goddamn lungs!!! WE DON’T EVEN KNOW WHY WE’RE SCREAMING RAAAAAAAAGGHHHHHH (after all, sure, Yankee dominance at that time was getting pretty tiresome, but, really, what’d Bernie Williams ever do to us?), BUT DAMMIT, WE’RE SCREAMING RAAAAAAAAGGHHHHHH!!! AND IT FEELS GOOD!!! Somehow, the sight of roly-poly, white-haired, blubbery Don Zimmer hollering and gesticulating and charging pell-mell into the fray sets everything briefly right with the world (although one supposes that last point could be argued by Bernie Williams, who leaves the game and is held out of Friday’s game against the Orioles as well). For a few glorious hours, we are united as one at the Rival Tribal Rebel Revel of sport, catalyzed, in a way on which we can’t quite put our collective finger, not so much by Kip Wells’ unexpected beaning of Bernie Williams, but by Zim’s completely predictable comic reaction towards it. In retrospect, what made the moment so unspeakably awesome—so cathartic—so healing— so frickin’ thanks-I-needed-that—was that, a little after 7 PM Central Time on Thursday, September 20, 2001, Don Zimmer became the first guy in America to forget (albeit briefly) that there was any such thing as 9/11, and, even if he dimly remembered it as he charged the mound, looking to play buck-buck with Kip Wells’ scrawny neck, he couldn’tve given a shit less about it at the time. As such, Don Zimmer takes his place in my heart as one of Earth’s Greatest Americans, ever.

By the time I had completed my quest at the rescheduled Brewers-Marlins game at the end of the season, my jokes to the beer vendors that it took four major terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, but the Brewers were finally playing October baseball again were almost funny.

As frontman of Rev. Norb & The Onions, Norb is currently on his 33rd year of being in insignificant punk bands. He's the author of THE ANNOTATED BORIS: DECONSTRUCTING THE LYRICAL MAJESTY OF BORIS THE SPRINKLER ((AND OTHER TALES AS THE NEED ARISES)), which he really hopes you'll buy someday. His collection of low-grade 1959 Topps baseball cards is 51.9% complete, but his 1976 set is all present and accounted for.

The July 20 Pirates/Reds Game Has to Be Great (or, The Top 10 Things About a Midwest Mid-Summer Ballgame That Helped Me Forget Merrillville, Indiana) by Mike Faloon

#1 – TV Show Theme Songs Were Better When They Were Longer
We’re driving into Cincinnati, southbound on Route 75. Steve and I grateful for two things: we have tickets for that afternoon’s Pittsburgh/Cincinnati game, and we’re hours removed from the Superfund toxic waste site that is the Deluxe Inn in Merrillville, Indiana. 

Something in the Cincinnati skyline catches my eye and reminds me of the WKRP theme song. The mellow one that opened the show and told us the story of Andy Travers, the station’s program director, the new guy in town. I miss TV show theme songs that were long enough to include lyrics and exposition.  I like a little backstory at the top of the show. Town to town, up and down the dial…Baby, just think of me once in awhile.  Such a tender, plaintive plea. Who doesn’t want to be remembered? Certainly Andy did.  Beneath the silly, feathered hair, tight jeans, and cowboy boots was one sensitive dude. (How is that he and Bailey never got together?) 

I’ve never been able to decode the lyrics to WKRP’s closing theme song, the upbeat rock tune that represents Dr. Johnny Fever’s frantic lifestyle. Something about a one-toothed bartender and cutting loose tonight.  I could be wrong.

#2 – Unofficial Team Merchandise Is More Amusing
I always look forward to the t-shirt stands outside a ballpark.  The ones that present themselves as fan-friendly renegades. Our shirts will likely fall apart after two washings but our slogans are cheekier! Cincinnati comes through with this gem of a Pete Rose shirt: “I’m with Pete! Gimme $200 on the Reds!”

 #3 – The “Deluxe” Nature of the Deluxe Inn in Merrillville, Indiana Is To Be Doubted
This trip to Cincinnati comes at the tail end of our book tour. Last night we read at Quimbys in Chicago. We opted to drive east after the reading and find a motel along the way. Merrillville, Indiana boasted several motels. We approached at least six. No vacancies.  Then we found the Deluxe Inn. They had one room left.  Thirty-six bucks for the night. The room smelled like a hamster cage. The floor was wet. There was no light in the bathroom. The pillows were pancake-flat. Neither of us had any fight left and we needed sleep, so we settled.  And by settled, I mean lowered our standards to sub-Mickey Rourke on a bender levels. There was no relaxing involved. Steve noticed that neither of the door locks worked, so he calmly propped a chair up against the door knob. I noticed that there was no lamp on the bedside table. I had a fit.  Being able to read until you fall asleep is a staple of the motel experience. 

#4 – Excessive Pre-game Tension Doesn’t Always Lead to a Good Time
A few weeks later my wife and I went to a Tigers/Mets game in New York.  Taking the hill that day were Matt Harvey and Max Scherzer. What a match up.  Matt Harvey, the future of Flushing, the second best pitcher in baseball versus Max Scherzer, a guy who vaulted from being one of the Tigers “other pitchers”  (trailing Justin Verlander) to 18-1 (and owner of baseball’s goofiest and most endearing grin).  Plus, a revived Ike Davis, Prince Fielder, and the best hitter of the day, Miguel Cabrera, in pursuit of his second straight Triple Crown.

We hatched our plan about one in the afternoon.  The game started at four. Within an hour we’d scored tickets, lined up a babysitter, and hit the road. Without traffic the trip would normally take an hour. But it was a Saturday and the U.S. Open had started. We figured that tripling our estimated travel time would suffice. We were wrong. Wrong in ways that were embarrassing. Wrong in ways that led me slamming the steering wheel and cursing everyone from the Mets to Robert Moses to whatever manner of physical laws and/or financial limitations prevented me from owning and operating a jet pack. 

We arrived in the second inning and stewed well into the fourth or fifth.  A few days later came the news that Harvey was done for the season and probably wouldn’t pitch again until 2015.

#5 – Muttonchops Age Well
Despite its cash grab moniker, Great American Ballpark is terrific. Even from the outside, images of Reds history saturate my field of view. I pass statues of Johnny Bench and Ted Kluszewski. Even better is “Reds Legends,” statues of former Reds Frank Robinson (batting), Ernie Lombardi (catching), and Joe Nuxhall (pitching) playing an imaginary game. 

Steve is meeting a former co-worker for the game. I explore the park while he waits at the gate. I step into the Reds Hall of Fame, but they kick me out because there’s an additional charge to get in which I decline to pay. Seems Scroogey to me, but that bit of lameness is eclipsed once I enter the park and the Reds history lesson resumes. Photos and quotes adorn every wall (in stark contrast to Citi Field, which could easily be mistaken for a Brooklyn Dodgers museum). Best of all is the 50-foot mosaic of the 1869 Cincinnati Reds. 1869? That’s just five years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Mark Twain was two years away from his first book. I look at the mosaic for a long time, slackjawed. It’s like staring up at a starry sky or gazing to the horizon at the beach, that calming sense of being lost in something much bigger than myself. It helps that I have a stupid big pretzel in one hand and a cold pint in the other.

#6 – Suddenly It Feels Like Yankee Spring Training Circa ’72
It’s late July and both the Reds and the Pirates are in contention. That alone could wash away the stink of the Deluxe Inn, but pretty much everything about this day is rolling our way. The only factor that will threaten to dampen the experience, figuratively, is the couple seated to our left. They’re broadcasting the kind of personal information Anthony Weiner would consider keeping to himself.  Before long everyone in our section knows that a) they’re married but, b) not to each other, and c) he was in the wedding party at her nuptials and she returned the favor at his. 

#7 – There’s No Crying in Baseball, But, the Supply of Nachos Is Endless
Along with the rich baseball history on display, the stadium offers a steady stream of conspicuous consumption—food, drink, merchandise; we’re ravenous.  The most popular item this afternoon seems to be the batting helmet sized servings of nachos. Not the cute little batting helmets in which they serve soft serve ice cream.  I’m talking about full-scale, wide-as-your-palm, big-enough-to-wear-in-a-game helmets overflowing with mountains of nachos and deep pools of cheap cheddar. Stereotypes of Midwestern living flare up, but they’re held in check. The Reds may serve Everest size portions of their snacks, but they also make a token tip of their nacho helmets to healthy living, with a prominently placed fruit stand, field level, right behind home. 

Also on the quasi-progressive tip, the Reds have a lady mascot, Rosie Red. Granted, she’s wearing a skirt that harkens back to the days of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (think A League of Their Own), but still, how many lady mascots are there?

#8 – Zisk Proudly Endorses the Use of “All Right” Rather Than “Alright”
Reds management loves a good first pitch.  That’s why they have three of them this afternoon. The public address announcer tags the third one with a reminder to “call group sales for your chance to throw the first pitch.”
Then the public address system breaks out the tunes. They choose Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.” It’s an odd song to play at the onset of a sporting event, with thousands of people gathered, most of them imbibing booze, everyone—regardless of age—ready and willing to place emotions before intellect.  (Odder still is hearing Elton John as the joyous voice of such fisticuffs.) If Sir Elton’s call to drunken arms didn’t deliver the message that the call of “play ball” is imminent, then leave it to Rosie Red. She’s on the field air guitaring to a Jack White tune (“Sixteen Saltines”). She struts. She kicks. We’re ready for baseball.

#9 –  Merrillville Is Fading Rapidly
Reds’ starter Matt Latos pitches out of a jam in the top of the first, but the real show is Reds’ second baseman Brandon Phillips. The other infielders are motionless as they anticipate each pitch. Phillips barely stops moving. He’s jittery, fidgety. He takes off his glove between pitches, leans back, adjusts his belt, kicks the dirt with his cleats, chats up the umpire, thumps the pocket of his glove a couple of times. 
With a mere three outs in the books, gusts of wind sweep in. Clouds of dirt kick up. The temperature drops with the humidity in tow. Reds’ leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo steps into the batter’s box with a look of “What the…?” The home plate umpire halts the game, players jog in, and out come the tarps.

#10 – Rain Delays Mean More for Your Money
During the rain delay we walk to the drink stand behind section 111. They boast the ballpark’s widest array of beers, most of which are Midwestern microbrews. We stand around. We talk. We joke. We drink. We lose track of time. Apparently, I also lose track of my grip on my plastic cup. I drop it, without provocation, top-down to the ground. Just as I’m feeling every inch the confused doofus I feel a tap on my shoulder. 

It’s the woman standing behind me in line. “Go up and tell them you dropped your drink. They’ll give you another one.” 

I have no idea who she is, but I want to believe her crazy claim. “If you’re willing to say that, then I’ll buy your drink,” I respond.

She says that she usually works at the games and that her gambit will work.

“Simone,” she says to the manager on duty, “someone knocked his beer. Can you give him another?”

With an apologetic tone Simone asks for my empty cup. She gives me a refill. No further questions asked.

Steve reminds me that we’ve been at the park for two hours and it’s only the bottom of the first.  So long, Merrillville.

Mike Faloon is the co-editor of Fan Interference, a best of Zisk collection available through Blue Cubicle Press.

Foul Weather Fans, or Why I Missed Zisk in Chicago By R. Lincoln Harris

I recently got my hands on a copy of Fan Interference, and having not been aware of Zisk before, I have to say I’m enjoying it a great deal. I’ve loved baseball ever since I was a kid in the 1970s, and I write about baseball quite a bit online. A lot of the baseball writing that I see, though, is either analysis of current players for their fantasy value, or stories based on sabermetric mumbo jumbo. What makes Zisk so great, at least to me, is that there isn’t any of that on their pages. They write the kind of stories that I like to write, and the type of stories that I want to read, too.

I had planned to make it to Quimby’s bookstore in Chicago on July 19th, in order to meet the creative forces behind the magazine. On the night before the event, though, opportunity knocked in the form of an old friend from grammar school. He had an extra ticket on the field for the Pearl Jam concert in Wrigley Field, and wanted to know if I could make it. Since Pearl Jam played on the same stage that the Grateful Dead used for their last concert in 1995, it’s quite appropriate to think of this as a miracle.

I send my humble apologies to the good people at Zisk, as well as to Quimby’s in Chicago, for missing out on their event on July 19th. And to make up for it, I humbly offer the following report on a competing event just a few miles to the north.

Pearl Jam playing at Wrigley Field was a homecoming for Eddie Vedder. Although he played there last summer for Bruce Springsteen’s two shows, this time it was his stage, with his band. While the band may play other shows at Wrigley in the future, the first one will always stand out from the others.

All of us who were on the field, or in the grandstand, or just hanging out along Sheffield and Waveland Avenues, were there for an event. We wanted something to validate the months of waiting for the date to arrive, and for standing in long lines at the merchandise tents in summer’s oppressive heat. It would be something special, all right, but exactly how would it all turn out? Nobody knew for certain.

The rains came about six or seven songs into the show. Like the characters in Bull Durham said, “Some days you win, some days you lose, and some days it rains.”  Other acts playing outdoors in Chicago left their stages (like Phish at Northerly Island and Bjork at the Pitchfork Music Festival) and did not come back.  But this band—playing in this venue—was not to be denied. The fans wanted something special, and the band was intent on delivering it to them.

We took cover when the rains were announced from the stage. The first storm to come through was a whopper, and the interior concourses at Wrigley Field became a hot, crowded mess. But the beer kept on flowing, and everyone made the best of it.

A second storm was also coming through, on the heels of the first one. The decision was made to let people leave and come back, which doesn’t happen when ball games are going on. Around that same time, the band tweeted out their intention to come back and deliver a full show once the rains were gone. In other words, the show wasn’t over yet.

The rains finally passed through, and the band returned to the stage at a few minutes before midnight. Eddie Vedder—the man of the hour, as far as everyone was concerned—welcomed us back by strapping on an acoustic guitar and invoking the name of Ernie Banks. Thus began the payoff we had been waiting for.

Ernie Banks’ catchphrase, the one that’s carved into the base of his statue along Clark Street outside the ticket windows, is “Let’s play two.” Eddie Vedder twisted that phrase a little bit, and turned it into “Let’s play until two.” Nobody in the park minded that at all, and Alderman Tunney was nowhere to be found. In Wrigley Field, at least, the show went on.

From the first notes that were played on Eddie’s guitar, it was clear what the song coming out of the rain delay would be. The band had hours to plan out the rest of the show, but the emotional home run was coming at us right away.

You can’t relate to “Go All the Way” unless you’re a Cubs fan. If the origins of the song were a mystery before, Vedder—wearing a Cubs jersey with #1 in honor of Jose Cardenal—set the record straight. It turns out that he wrote the song at the request of Ernie Banks, who wanted a song that reflected the experience of being a Cubs fan. The task seemed overwhelming at first, but he agreed to do it because, in his words, “When Ernie Banks tells you to do something, you do it.”

As the song began, with Eddie Vedder singing the song that he wrote as a gift to Ernie Banks, a montage of video highlights played on the screen: Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Rick Sutcliffe, Ron Santo clicking his heels together and a time capsule of what the Cubs mean to those who call themselves fans.

I had spent a good part of the rain delay speaking with my friend, who grew up where I did in Springfield, Illinois. It’s much closer—both physically and culturally—to St. Louis than it is to Chicago. Had I remained in Springfield’s cultural fold, as he did, we could have passed the rain delay remembering Cardinal baseball glories of years gone by. Instead, I tried my best to relate to him as he told me about how spoiled he has been as a Cardinals fan.

But being a Cubs fan isn’t really about winning championships. Cardinals fans will shake their heads in disbelief, and White Sox fans will pull out their old 2005 World Series sweatshirts for the umpteenth time, but none of that really bothers me. As much as I’d love to see a winner someday, forsaking the game itself is not an option, nor is transferring my loyalties to some other team—from Chicago or someplace else—simply because they win more than the Cubs do.

Cubs fans are an intensely devoted bunch. We have to be, in order to keep coming back to the ballpark year after year after year. It gets very hard sometimes, watching all the other teams in MLB do the things that my own team hasn’t done, at least not in my lifetime.  But you soldier on, and keep repeating the cycle for as long as you’re allowed to do it. Once you’re locked in as a Cubs fan, there isn’t any going back. It’s as if the Rubicon itself flows along Clark, Addison, Sheffield and Waveland.

When Eddie Vedder brought Ernie Banks onto the stage, and a few more rounds of the chorus were sung, it was a moment unlike anything else I’ve experienced as a Cubs fan. I needed a full week to wrap my mind around it, and put it into words that I hope will do it justice.

When it comes to success on the field, Cubs fans are easily the most deprived in all of baseball. But when it comes to love, both for the game itself and the team that we follow, Cubs fans have it in spades. The truth is, I was the one who felt spoiled in that moment with Eddie Vedder and Ernie Banks. As much as I’d love to see a winner on the field, I don’t feel the need to have one.  Just being able to understand what Eddie Vedder means is enough, at least for this Cubs fan.

R. Lincoln Harris has been a Cubs fan since the mid-1970s. He writes the Addison Street Blues column at, as well as his personal blog at

A Headlock to Forget: A Robin Ventura Story by Brennan Jones

I can remember as a child growing up, we used to always say “my dad could beat up YOUR dad!” and living in my neighborhood, we used to actually see if that statement held any truth. I recall seeing a few dads walking with their sons with tails tucked between their legs, as little Timmy’s bold prediction was soon found to be false. Another memory I am fond of, was my undying love for the Chicago White Sox. Every kid on the block LOVED “The Big Hurt” Frank Thomas, a hulk of a man, and an amazing ball player. As a kid I was never fond of rooting for the clear cut favorite. I was more of a Knicks fan than a Bulls fan, Eagles over the Cowboys, Pippen rather than Jordan...and because every kid on my block was after every Frank Thomas jersey, baseball card or any collectable, my guy was Robin Ventura.

At the sandlot everyone had their favorite player in mind as they pretended to emulate their hero on our beloved dirt diamond. The USA baseball team, fresh off of their Olympic gold medal in 1988, had an up-and-coming youngster who at the time had the longest hit streak in collegiate baseball history. He played the same position I often found myself playing (third base), wasn’t a “power” guy but had the knack for having a solid bat, not the flashiest glove but could play solid defense, and was drafted by the Chicago White Sox.

While everyone seemed to fall in love with this team—and who couldn’t with the likes of “Black” Jack McDowell, Ozzie Guillen, Bobby Thigpen, Tony Phillips, Frank Thomas and even eventually Bo Jackson—I rooted for the quiet guy in the corner of the infield, Mr. Robin Ventura.  The White Sox were so popular even Dr. Dre would put his “chrome to the side of your White Sox hat” and in 1992 that actually was a good thing. Everyone had the black hat with the white sock insignia on the front, even in Boston. Simply put, Frank Thomas singlehandedly made Red Sox fans forget what socks to put on in the morning.

One of the main reasons I was drawn to Ventura was the way he carried himself both on and off the field. He was not an exciting player, but heading into his third year he was already an All-Star and Gold Glove winner.  Ventura was never the most outstanding player, but he was a ballplayer’s ballplayer. He would get dirty and had a way of always coming up with a timely hit or clutch defense. He was a surefire up and coming player and already drawing comparisons to Mike Schmidt. A 90 RBI a year third basemen with a cannon arm, gold glove, and placed nicely in a batting order chalk full of promising talent. What more could you ask for?

Well, August 4, 1993 is what you could ask for. I honestly wonder if a six-year-old Robin Ventura would ask his 26-year-old self, “Do you think you could beat up YOUR dad?” I only ask this because the day after the tike Ventura turned six, Nolan Ryan had just pitched his second no-hitter. SECOND NO-HITTER!! Now everyone knows how the events turned out. Most still consider the beating Robin took at the hands of a man who was almost twice his age as the best (one-sided) brawl in baseball history. Funny thing about baseball fights is, it hardly EVER turns into an actual fight.  Usually it’s just a bunch of guys running from the bullpen and maybe a few pushes, but rarely is a punch thrown.

I remember the highlight (lowlight) like it was yesterday. I recall all the flack and teasing I took as a child.  It was like my own father got his rear kicked by some other dad down the street. I can see the slow motion headlock as Nolan reared his fists back driving them into the skull of a seemingly unassuming
Ventura. (I shouldn’t say unassuming seeing as HE is the one that charged the baseball LEGEND.) I just thought it was a joke, like they were in on it together, but sadly no. The joke was on me.  My hero was simply pummeled by a man twice his age. Not just any man either. This was an icon, a man who pitched seven no-hitters already before issuing the beat down Ventura rightfully disserved. I felt cheated. It wasn’t as if Ryan was head hunting, or he meant to hit Robin...the pitch just got away from him and hit Ventura in the worst spot, his ego.

That fight changed a lot for me. It made me look at my one time hero, like Timmy must have looked at his poor father. Left wondering why? Why would a young player with so much potential and such a quiet demeanor, charge a man who is in baseball terms, larger than life. Why would a 26-year-old ever pick a fight with a 46-year-old? Why did I idolize a person who would not only start a fight, but get his ass handed to him on the biggest of all venues for all the world to see and ridicule. That day, I threw out all of that highly sought after memorabilia. All the Rated Rookie cards, the Upper Decks, the Topps, the Donruss...all of them. My dad got his ass beat. And I wasn't going to walk home with him.

Brennan Jones has been writing slam poetry since his sophomore year of high school. A native of New Hampshire, he’s an avid sports fan with a distaste for the home team (minus the Bruins).

The Decline of Baseball Card Collecting by Jeff Herz

There was an article in the New York Times on July 1, 2013, which talks about the decline of people investing in baseball cards. The shame of the situation is that the remaining card companies (Topps and Upper Deck) are not making it easy for adults or kids to collect baseball cards anymore. They are not easily accessible, and the market is so saturated with different products that it is impossible for a person to know what to collect. For instance, a quick search of Cardboard Connection lists 39 different sets of 2013 baseball cards that you can buy and collect, 25 which are branded Topps. That does not even take into consideration the other sports and trading cards that are available, further confusing the novice collector and deterring them from possibly making their first purchase. Yes, it was supposed to be a better investment than the stock market in the 1990’s when cards were flooding the market, but then there was a sharp decline, and now the card companies are complaining that the market is not returning, yet they seem to be doing everything they can to kill demand, and continuing to produce more supply than is probably needed.

When I was a kid, you could get baseball cards everywhere. You could not walk into a gas station, drug store, department store or any other major retail establishment and not find baseball cards.  I used to make treks to different stores across town, just to find an elusive Johnny Bench or Ozzie Smith card, because my local haunts were not producing the cards I needed to complete my series.  Little did I know that I needed to go somewhere like Tennessee or Montana, light years away from Binghamton, New York to find those missing cards, but I was on a mission and boy was it fun. Today, my kids don't understand baseball card collecting and don't understand why I still do it to this day.  And neither do I, really.

A few years back I was speaking to the owner of a local convenience store and he happened to have a box of basketball cards. I asked him why he had them, and why he does not regularly carry trading cards. He said he got this box at a deep discount, not telling me what he paid, so it was worth putting them on his counter so he could move them. He said there is simply not enough profit in trading cards as a whole to regularly give them any space in his store. This got me thinking. My town, like many others, has had a recent influx of super drug stores, huge stores such as CVS or Walgreens or Rite Aid or whatever, that have aisles and aisles of all the crap you could ever need. As my wife was shopping for something I started wondering about these aisles, figuring one of these huge stores might have baseball cards. While they had three different aisles for candy, not a single trading card could be found and this leads me to the final reason why the industry is in a decline, the product is simply hard to find and not at all cost effective. It’s almost as if they don't want you to buy cards and if you do, they don’t give you a lot of value for your hard earned money.

The Stamford, Connecticut area is a fairly large community with a population of close to 120,000 people. However, the only places where I have been able to find cards regularly are at the Target and the local comic book shop. If you go a little further north there are two Wal-Mart's in Norwalk, Connecticut where you can get cards as well. However, in both Target and Wal-Mart they are located off in the corner near the cash registers. And in one Wal-Mart the cards are actually next to the cigarettes, which makes them seem almost forbidden when you need to ask an associate for assistance in selecting your pack of cards. All the cards are thrown together on the wall in a singular display so finding what you are looking for (in my case the plain old regular Topps Series 1/2) is especially difficult.

Then if you are lucky enough to find the set you are looking for, there are additional choices. There are the small packs of 8-12 cards, for about $1.99 each. There are 30-36 cards for $5.99. And there are 81 cards for $9.99.  Why 8-12 cards you may ask? Well because in every pack, there may or may not be a special insert, which ultimately means even if you choose to collect a particular set, then you are also getting additional inserts that you might not even want (like me). So if there is an insert you might only get 8 cards, which actually increases the base cost ranges from $0.17 to $0.25 per card, when the secondary market for the majority of these cards goes for between 5-10 cents, especially when you can buy the complete set of 660 cards for $49.99 (or $.08/card) at the end of the year. It really seems to me that is the real goal for the companies.

Back in 2007 I started reading Ben Henry’s baseball card blog ( and decided to start buying individual packs again for the first time since 1982, when my original collection ended. I really enjoyed opening them up, seeing who I got, eyeing a few stats of a key players, and ultimately (mild case of OCD?) putting them into numerical order to determine which cards were outstanding.  At the end of the season, I would find online shops like or that would sell me individual cards to help me complete my sets.

Each year since then, I find myself buying less and less individual packs simply because it feels like I am getting less cards, less value and more crap, plus my wife keeps telling me I am wasting our money, which might be true too. It is a shame, because as my kids gets older, I am seeing none of their friends interested in pursuing this hobby, I see only a few of them actually following the game itself (but that is a whole other story), so unless the card companies drastically change their strategies in how they are pricing and how they are marketing to their consumers, then this article is accurate and there will continue to be a shrinking market.  Eventually it will just be my friend Lee Goldinger and I trading cards back and forth.

In the meantime, I am still looking for a 1984 Jim Beattie (#288) and the Toronto Blue Jays Team Card (#606). So if you have an extra one of these laying around hit me up and let’s see if we can work a trade so I can mark that set complete.

Jeff Herz is a baseball loving, Card Collecting, Jeffersonian Libertarian, who is interested in protecting privacy and civil liberties.  A loving husband and father to 3 kids in Stamford CT, where the Board of Education works really hard at not listening to him while he tilts at windmills to make the entire education landscape more successful.

The Whistler by David Lawton

Jackie Gutierrez was a free born Colombian
Cartagena de Indias’ pride
Through the streets of The Mother City
He learned how to run, play and ride

From a family of Olympic athletes
In a country where futbol is king
Jackie started taking infield at shortstop
Hit the cages to work on his swing

        You never know until you try
        You never know how high
        A dream can fly
        Like a white tern soaring
        Over Cartagena Bay
        Or a blast clearing the Monster
        At the Park de Fenway

Jackie followed his dream to the states in the minors
Worked with his dp partner to turn two
Because he never had learned to speak English
His shrill whistling became his cue

The Whistler became a fan favorite in Boston
He could throw that pill through the wall
But a big leaguer can never stick in the majors
If he never learns to hit the curve ball

        Nunca sabras hasta que trates
        No sabes a que altura
        Tu sueno puede volar
        Como una golondrina en alto
        Sobre Cartagena Bay
        O una explosion sobre El Monstro
        En el Parque de Fenway

Dave Lawton is a Red Sox fan living in New York City His poetry collection, Sharp Blue Stream, was published this year by Three Rooms Press. RIP George “Boomer” Scott, who played the game with joy. Thanks to Nubia Guzman for the Spanish translation.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Zisk #23 is Out!

Our latest issue is out! If you're a subscriber, it should hit your mailbox this week. And don't forget you can also pick it up at Quimbys, Atomic Books and through Razorcake.

One of our new contributors, R. Lincoln Harris, blogged about getting his copy of the issue at his personal site:

Thanks to all the contributors and new subscribers we picked up this year. The fact that more people discover us each year makes all the (literal) paperwork worthwhile!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Issue # 23 Coming, Plus a Look at Fan Interference in Chicago

Hey all,

Things have been quiet on the Zisk front since our last Fan Interference reading in Trenton, New Jersey three weeks ago. But that's about to change as Mike and I are gearing up to assemble issue # 23 in just over two weeks. If you have a story idea, email me at and I'll add you to our list.

As for Fan Interference, you can still order a copy through, our friends at Razorcake and at Amazon. Our long-time contributor Jake Austen had our reading at Quimby's in Chicago on July 19th filmed for posterity and now it's up on YouTube. Watch it below!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Trenton on Saturday, Plans for the Fall

Well, Mike and I had a great time as the Fan Interference tour made its way through the MidWest. Well, except for the hotel we stayed in in Merrillville, Indiana and the hydrochloric acid spill on I-70 in Pennsylvania that added about 90 minutes to our trip back from Cincinnati.

Mike is on a well-deserved vacation, so I'll be handling our final summer event for Fan Interference this Saturday at Classics Used and Rare Books in Trenton, New Jersey at noon. I'll be joined by one of the contributors to the book John Weber, who wrote a piece about Tug McGraw.

As for the fall, we're discussing doing another print issue in September since we met so many great writers on the tour (and already have some contributions in hand). We're also hoping to do a couple of podcasts based around the book as well as another reading or two.

Mike and I would also like to send a hearty thank you to all the readers that joined us in all 12 cities on the tour as well as all the folks that helped set them up. You made it a great experience.

Oh, and if you haven't gotten a copy of Fan Interference, order one now at or through Amazon.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Pittsburgh & Cleveland Rock

We couldn't have asked for a better start to the Midwest leg of the Fan Interference tour. Thanks to East End Book Exchange in Pittsburgh and Mac's Backs in Cleveland for hosting great events. Next stop is Quimby's in Chicago tonight at 7:00 p.m.!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Fan Interference hits the MidWest this week!

The Fan Interference book tour rolls on this week through the MidWest! Come see us at the stores below:

Wed July 17th - Pittsburgh, PA - East End Book Exchange 7:00 p.m.

Thu July 18th - Cleveland, OH - Mac’s Back’s Books 7:00 p.m.

Fri July 19th - Chicago, IL - Quimbys 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Baltimore Tonight!

The Fan Interference Tour continues tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Atomic Books in Baltimore. Joining Mike and I will be two contributors to the book, Nancy Golden and Charlie Vascellaro.Join us tonight!

And don't forget you can order Fan Interference online at or at Amazon.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Fan Interference Interview

The folks at Amazing Avenue were kind enough to do a piece about Fan Interference. Check it out here!

And if you haven't bought the book yet, buy it online here!

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Fan Interference Tour Starts Today!

Mike and I are hitting the road today in support of Fan Interference. Come see us at any of the dates below. Or order Fan Interference online here.

Fri June 28th - Easthampton, MA - Flywheel 8:00 p.m.

AUTHORS: Mike Faloon, Steve Reynolds, Michael T. Fournier, Duncan Wilder Johnson, with David Lawton (Three Rooms Press) & music by Bugs Bunny

ADDRESS: 43 Main Street (In the Old Town Hall), Easthampton, MA 01027

Sat June 29th - Cambridge, MA - Papercut Zine Library 7:00 p.m.

AUTHORS: Mike Faloon, Steve Reynolds, Michael T. Fournier, Duncan Wilder Johnson


ADDRESS: Lorem Ipsum Books, 1299 Cambridge St., Cambridge MA

Sun June 30th - Portsmouth, NH - Riverrun Book Store 5:00 P.M.

AUTHORS: Mike Faloon, Steve Reynolds, Michael T. Fournier, Duncan Wilder Johnson

ADDRESS: 142 Fleet Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801

Mon July 1st - Portland, ME - Word at LFK 8:00 p.m.

AUTHORS: Mike Faloon, Steve Reynolds, Michael T. Fournier, Duncan Wilder Johnson

ADDRESS: 188 A State Street, Portland, Maine 04101

Tue July 2nd - Bangor, ME - Main Street Music Studios 7:00 p.m.

AUTHORS: Mike Faloon, Steve Reynolds, Michael T. Fournier, Duncan Wilder Johnson


ADDRESS: 49 Main St Bangor, ME

Thu July 11th - Baltimore, MD - Atomic Books 7:00 p.m

AUTHORS: Mike Faloon, Steve Reynolds Nancy Golden, Charlie Vascellero


ADDRESS: 3620 Falls Rd. Baltimore, MD 21211

Fri July 12th - Philadelphia, PA - Brickbat Books 7:00 p.m.

AUTHORS: Mike Faloon, John Weber, Mickey Hess


ADDRESS: 709 South Fourth St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

Wed July 17th - Pittsburgh, PA - East End Book Exchange time TBD

AUTHORS: Mike Faloon, Steve Reynolds, Abby Mendelson


ADDRESS: 4754 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224 

Thu July 18th - Cleveland, OH - Mac’s Back’s Books 7:00 p.m.

AUTHORS: Mike Faloon, Steve Reynolds, Susan Petrone, Scott Longert


ADDRESS: 1820 Coventry Rd, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

Fri July 19th - Chicago, IL - Quimbys 7:00 p.m.

AUTHORS: Mike Faloon, Steve Reynolds, Jake Austen


ADDRESS: 1854 W. North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Sat August 3rd - Trenton, NJ - Classics Used and Rare Books 12:00 p.m.

AUTHORS: Steve Reynolds, John Weber


ADDRESS: 4 West Lafayette St, Trenton, NJ 08608