Three Balls, No Strikes, and Lots of Yelling
Me and My ‘Buds — August 30th
Now, to preface, I’m not an avid baseball fan.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, there are few better ways to spend a summer evening than at a ballpark with some friends, some beers, and a half pound kielbasa; I just never connected enough with the sport to follow it religiously, let alone binge videos of it online. Technically I’m a San Francisco Giants fan by virtue of growing up in the Bay Area, but in reality I feel much closer to the San Jose Giants, a Minor League affiliate of the team up the peninsula. As a kid, my parents would often grab a handful of free admission tickets that were given away in the checkout at Home Depot or Lowes because, when you’re a seven person family, going out becomes much easier when it’s free. A few days later, we’d all pile into a 1999 maroon Chevy Suburban to go watch a game. Home improvement stores, an 8-seater SUV, and baseball; We’d hit Americana bingo at least four or five times each summer.
Somewhat tangentially, minor league baseball is by far the superior baseball watching experience to “The Bigs”. It’s easier to get in and out of the ballpark, the food is cheaper, and there is a higher chance of seeing home runs, errors, or catching a foul ball. This doesn’t even start to address the best parts of minor league baseball which barely involve baseball at all, but are things like base-running competitions between small children, “Smash for Cash” between-innings, which is a game where a home-team player throws baseballs at the headlights of a truck to win one lucky fan a gift certificate, or, most importantly, the Beer Batter. The Beer Batter, by the way, is perhaps the greatest invention of San Jose minor league baseball. Before each game, an away-team batter with an iffy hitting percentage is designated to be the Beer Batter. If he strikes out at the plate, it’s half-priced beer until the bottom of the inning. Cue a mad rush of people to the Gordon Biersch booths. As a kid, it was rarely exciting to me, but upon revisiting Municipal Stadium in San Jose this past summer, I truly appreciated the genius of the Beer Batter. Not only does it mean cheaper beer and happier fans, but it also means a rowdy home crowd with more enthusiastic home team support. In short, it means yelling. Lots of yelling.
Yelling and baseball have an interesting relationship. This again, brings me back to the night spent on YouTube. I will less than proudly admit that this started from a binge on “baseball fights” videos, but my Massachusetts-born mother will be proud to know I mostly watched Red Sox-Yankee ones. Now, these ejections are fascinating to watch because there is nearly always a part where we get to watch some face-to-face yelling. Usually it’s a between a coach, incensed at the idea his player has been tossed from the game, and the umpire who has tossed him.
Now this yelling isn’t your normal yelling. It is neither the across-the-living-room yelling of siblings arguing over a remote, nor the let’s-test-the-echoing-potential-of-this-giant-hole-in-the-ground yelling of a tourist at the Grand Canyon. This is two-drunks-bumping-into-each-other-in-a-dive-bar-under-a-highway-overpass-and-at-least-one-of-them-is-wearing-an-Iron-Maiden-t-shirt-and-possibly-a-Hell’s-Angels-Jacket-nose-to-nose yelling. It’s two “grown men” with their faces centimeters apart, spraying spittle and phlegm across the short divide, with throbbing veins and red faces, moments from aneurism, screaming about… a game.
I don’t say this to criticize- I was kicked out of at least two soccer games in high school for being too critical of the referees as a fan, and was penalized in many a volleyball game for criticizing calls made by refs. But, it seems to me that baseball is a little different when it comes to these interactions. I can’t think of another sport where referees and coaches, or players for that matter, get so up close and personal, or, most interestingly, let it go on that long. In football, they flag you then get you off the field. In tennis, the judges have what looks like a high-chair with an umbrella to avoid the face-to-face interactions. In soccer, you walk off the pitch after a red card. Volleyball? Another high chair. Basketball might be closest, but even then there tends to be restraint pretty quickly. But not in baseball. Someone gets tossed, and then the umpire will stand there as someone screams right into their face.
I keep trying to figure out how to feel about it, which is a great way to use brainpower when you’re looking for a job, but alas…
Part of me thinks it is ridiculous- You’re a grown human being. And not that there aren’t good reasons to be screaming into someone’s face, but I can’t help but think that a baseball game isn’t one of them. It’s pretty rude, disrespectful, and a really shitty thing to do to another person. No one wants to have to wipe flecks of someone else’s saliva off their face.
But the other part of me can’t help but laugh. In a sense, the umpire is treating the coach like a small child, and letting them cry themselves out. Sometimes they’ll even let them “get their money’s worth” by marching around the field to each umpire to voice their displeasure. And the umpires just stand there, and take the abuse. They’ll let the coaches stomp around and scream. They’ll even let them throw their hat in the dirty and kick it, which is really the glory move by the coach and is always rewarded by cheers from a home crowd. Umpires let these coaches keep going until they exhaust themselves and retreat back to the clubhouse behind the dugout. Then, with little fanfare, everyone gets back to playing their game.
Sometimes I think we should all be more like the umpires, and just let the stupid and angry people in the world shout themselves hoarse and stomp their feet until they are too tired to continue. And then I remember that people who behave like those coaches are pretty awful people who should not be allowed to behave that way, and they usually have guns.
This is week two of Me and My ‘Buds. The playlist is down below, with ten new songs that were not on last week’s playlist. We’ve got some techno-adjacent music, and some soft tunes. So get your headphones out, turn your speakers up, and enjoy! As always, you can find the playlist at the bottom of the page.
While I was sitting and editing this week’s post, there was this odd moment when traffic began to drive at a green light at the same time a UPS truck backed up in front of the window. For just a moment, it seemed like the world was getting torn apart at a previously invisible seam. Regardless, this song samples Tony Robbins, rain, and a door closing; It’s a fantastic ride that is best enjoyed with some sort of snack. I recommend kettle corn.
Local elections are coming up in New York this year, and the primaries happen to fall on my birthday. There is no better gift than that of Democracy, so make sure that you go and vote!
If you are registered, you can find your polling site, see a sample ballot, and find more information about the candidates (under the Expand Tab) go to: http://whosontheballot.org
If you are not registered:
- Shame on you. Seriously, use it or lose it.
- 2. It’s too late to register for the primary, but you can register for the general election at https://dmv.ny.gov/more-info/electronic-voter-registration-application or in-person at your county board of elections (http://www.elections.ny.gov/CountyBoards.html) or a New York State Agency-based voter registration center. (http://www.elections.ny.gov/NVRA.html)
- 3. Go register right now.
If you are not sure if you are registered, you can check at https://voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us
Really quickly going back to the baseball theme from above, this song would 100% be my walk-up song if I played professional baseball. It starts pretty fun, keeps up the fun, and also has some implications that I’d be good at hitting and could potentially help psyche-out the pitcher. Of course, for the brief two weeks that I played intramural baseball in elementary school, hitting was the thing I was worst at. We don’t have to tell them that though. When they’d see me come up to the round, they’d know they were flirting with the devil, and they’d hope they didn’t get burnt.
This song is nice and synthy, but not in an overbearing way. Grizzly Bear is a band from Brooklyn, in case how their music sounds didn’t tip you off to the fact that they are dripping in hipness. Regardless, the psychedelic folky feeling of the song is great for a rainy day spent in a coffee shop, or speeding around on your fixie, or whatever the hip young kids do these days.
Disclaimer: I’m a 22 year old who lives in Brooklyn.
For some reason, this song feels like it could have been on a soundtrack for a Zach Braff movie a-la Garden State or Wish I Was Here. Braff has a real knack for tunes, and even helped out on Tony Goldwyn’s The Last Kiss soundtrack, which is fan-fricken-tastic. So go listen to it, but after you finish this.
Also, I looked it up, and, in a conventional freezer, moonshine will not freeze.
Listen to this song, but please don’t laminate a cat. It won’t go well.
A nice and cheery way to end this week’s playlist with some upbeat acoustic finger picking. Please note, always call it “finger picking” and not “fingering” because the latter sounds like something you:
- Should not be doing at a party in a group of people
- Should not be doing to a guitar
- Should not title a YouTube tutorial
Upon watching the music video, I do realize he is playing an upright bass, but I already wrote the jokes so I’m not changing it.
Note: From now on, Me and My ‘Buds will come out on Wednesdays. Sorry for the false flag of a Monday on the first one.