Why I don’t go to major league baseball games

American-League-2010-First-Half-Average-Ticket-Prices1-600x298My wife will tell you that it’s not so much that I love baseball as much as it is part of my DNA. The soundtrack in my car from late March to late October because is whatever baseball game I can find on the radio. On May 20th, 21st and 22nd The Chicago Cubs – a team I have loved since growing up in Chicago – will play The Boston Red Sox – a team I have loved since I was 9 when we moved to Providence, RI, and I decided that it wasn’t cheating on your 1st team if the 2nd team was in a different league – will be playing each other at Fenway Park.

Here’s how much I am devoted to the two:

  • I am still upset that Ernie Banks never got to play in the World Series.
  • When someone asks how long I’ve lived in Boston I reply, “Since the spring after the ‘86 [World] Series.”

Until 2004, I reveled in loving the two most ill-fated teams in baseball. While that had its charms, I am quite content that only one of my beloveds is a constant reminder of the fickleness of probability.

Because of all this and knowing full-well that tickets were absurdly expensive, I went to see if maybe I could afford one in some far-distant bleacher seat with nearly totally obscured view of the field. The least expensive price for just such a seat: $99.

Out of curiosity, I went to see the cost least expensive ticket I could find for any game Red Sox at Fenway. So I looked at the cost for tickets to a Wednesday day game vs. The San Diego Padres, a team that will be lucky if it finishes above Baja this year. $46 for a seat in that weird little triangle in the center field bleachers.

Meanwhile, 45 minutes away in Pawtucket, RI, the best seats in the house for the Sox AAA farm team go for $11. For the AA team in Portland, ME: $9. For the single A Lowell Spinners $10. For the independent league Brockton Rox: $15 and that includes waiter service. If you want basically the same seats and are willing to get your own damn snacks: $9.50.

brockton-rox-main-logo1I’ll see you in Brockton. Bill Buckner, whom I have truly always admired, is managing and I’m pretty sure he’ll give me an autograph for no extra charge.

The joys of the writing business or, would you pay your plumber $3.50 per job?

Two ads found on Craigslist:

Professional Writers for Book Proposals (Harvard Square)

Prominent Anthropologist and Family Therapist seeks professional writers and journalists in the Boston area for Book Proposals.
Confidential Titles are:
1. Woman Unite! Does America need a Lysistrata like Ancient Greece to stop our Economic and Military Insane Wars?
2. God’s Last Call! Stop Patriarchal Original Sin Insanity; Return to Matriarchal Original Innocence so Earth does not become Planet Necropolis!
3. The Lost Art of Sacred Love- Making! Common in Primative Cultures of Polynesia , Hawaii and Eastern Goddess- based Religions!
4. More Oxytocin Please! Catch and Embrace the Spirit of Honeyfire and Enjoy the Blissful Miracles of an Oxytocin High!
Applicants must share a deep " Reverence for all Life ", and deep passion for the Well-Being of our childrens future!
This represents a great opportunity for the right candidates! Please send a letter of interest and a resume!

If they’re confidential then why are they on Craigslist? The right candidate being anyone dumb enough to respond.

and No. 2:

Writers Needed for News & Current Events

We are seeking talented and qualified writers to join our news team. Writers that are approved for the program will be assigned topics for their articles. This position gives you the opportunity to work from your home or anywhere else you have an Internet connection. Writers will be paid $3.50 per article and we anticipate most writers will earn roughly $10-12 per hour.
Writers that enter the program will go through a brief training process to outline our process and requirements for approving articles. All articles will be at least 250 words long and must be void of any errors.
This is a part-time position with many time slots available and the opportunity to progress into a full-time position with the company.

If the $3.50 per wasn’t bad enough, this is what pushes it over the edge: “We anticipate most writers will earn roughly …” And I anticipate The Cubs will win the World Series.

 

10 things a satirist gives thanks for

  1. The Bush Administration
  2. GM’s “leadership” (What’s the difference between the cub scouts and GM? Adult supervision.)
  3. Sarah Palin and her handlers sarah-palin-turkey-slaughter-big
  4. The voters of Minnesota. Jesse Ventura! Al Franken! (someone’s spiked the 10,000 lakes).
  5. Jaguar Land Rover for applying for a bailout.
  6. Barney Frank: “These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis. The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.
  7. The Chicago Cubscub curse
  8. Alan Greenspan
  9. The phrase “too big to fail.” Econ speak for: About to bite the dust.
  10. Joe Biden: “When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on the television and didn’t just talk about the princes of greed. He said, ‘look, here’s what happened.’”

Penguin seal

If Mark Cuban is guilty …

The multi-millionaire sports team owner and sometimes amusing loud mouth is under investigation for insider trading. If he’s guilty I say force him to buy The Cubs (something he’s already trying to do). I can think of no more fitting punishment than a task which would make even Sisyphus tremble in horror.

Cubs stay true to their brand

I would like to take this opportunity to thank every member of the Chicago Cubs organization. From Sweet Lou Piniella on down to the lowliest trainer, one and all really worked hard to make sure my poem 2008 (On The Impending Centennial Of The Cubs’ Futility) did not become an anachronism before being republished in the upcoming Lovable Losers Literary Revue anthology. Many teams would have ignored the fate of a single poem in the pursuit of money and/or a championship. Fortunately the Cubs are not such a team. They know that life is fleeting but art is not and that true immortality awaited them among my stanzas not in any ballpark. Thanks guys!

Tinkers to Evers to what’s the chance
a hundred seasons could come and go
so fast you wouldn’t celebrate even one

Next year isn’t a mantra
it’s an elegy for wasted time,
wasted efforts, wasted hopes
and, for all those losses,
nothing is really lost
no one died from
heartbreak, no child went
hungry because Ernie Banks
never got his pennant

Instead we grew up
with hopes stunted
or getting ever larger
believing tomorrow will always
hold what today never can

Still going down to that damn
old park because we take defeat
as our due and know the team’s
reach never exceeds our grasp

Their wish – like our dreams – is
not of brazen prizes and spoiling
success but noon on a July day
when the breeze off the lake
might be just a little bit cooler

Three Fingers Brown, someone
asked you once if you could
have pitched better with all five fingers
I’ll never know, you said
So, what’s it like
to win it all?

(Originally published in Elysian Fields Quarterly)

In a time of worry and woe, at least we still have The Mets.

It is reassuring to know that no matter what happens in the world, The New York Mets are working hard to cheer me up. For the second straight year they have committed one of the most impressive chokes EVER. This year they managed not only to lose the division but also blow the wildcard race — ALL IN ONE WEEKEND!

Please forgive my evil chortle over this but you have to understand that The Mets were on the winning end of two of the biggest heartbreaks of my sporting life: The collapse of the ’69 Cubs and the ’86 Red Sox.

Why is this man smiling?

Why is this man smiling?

Although I am the son of two Mets fans (former Dodger/Giants fans who refuse to let their allegiance head west when their teams did) this is in no way a knock at either parent. (Although in the winter of ’86 my mother did make a point of wearing her Mets jacket way more than might have been supported by the weather. My father at least had the grace to say, “If the Mets are so good how come God had to give them the Series?”) Nope I just hate the Mets. It would seem to me that the time is perfect for someone to write a sequel to Jimmy Breslin’s wonderful book on the ’62 Mets, Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game? That team at least had the charm of being really really bad. (And wouldn’t that be the perfect title for a book about the Fed?)

On an intellectual if not aesthetic level I am sorry to see the end of Shea Stadium. As Breslin put it:

And now it hits you. Now you realize, for the first time, what this is all about. All of it, all of the workers risking their lives, and all of the huge payrolls and all of the political wrangling. There is a reason for it all:

They are building a brand new stadium for Marvin Thronberry.

Thank you to the Mets for giving me cheer on a gray day when the news continues to be supremely unnerving.

As to the playoffs, here is my prediction: Angels vs. Cubs in the series. What happens then is anyone’s guess.

What do Democrats and Cubs fans have in common?

…they assume that something will go wrong until proven otherwise. Great line by Nate Silver over at fivethirtyeight.com.

Despite its unabashed (and clearly announced) pro-Democratic stance, this site is my source of information about political polling. They survey all the polls, weight them for a number of factors and come up with results that to my eyes are the best out there.

The riches of poetry

Got an email this morning asking me if I would be willing to let someone republish one of my poems:

Hi Constantine, This past baseball season, I’ve been running a Cubs literary series at a Mexican restaurant down the street from Wrigley Field. It’s called, “Lovable Losers Literary Revue.” (www.lovablelosersliteraryrevue.com). I’m now putting together an anthology that arises out of the reading series. We’ve had a lot of great guests–Sun-Times columnist Dave Hoekstra, American Skin author Don De Grazia, mystery authors D.C. Brod and Robert Goldsborough, iconic pop band The Cleaning Ladys, WGN Radio’s Rick Kogan, WXRT’s Lin Brehmer, best-selling biographer Jonathan Eig (Jackie Robinson and Lou Gehrig books), humorist James Finn Garner (Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, etc.), Stuart Shea (with Garner, a founder of Bardball.com), and many others. They’re all contributing to the anthology. We’re looking for one or two more excellent additions before deadline and Tom Goldstein alerted me to your Cubs poem that was published in Elysian Field. I was hoping you’d grant us permission to use it in the anthology. It’s a tiny press publishing the anthology (State Street Publishing), and there’s no budget to pay contributors; instead, the press will make a donation in all the authors names to a Cubs’ charity, something that involves giving tickets to underprivileged kids.

I have made no money on my poetry and nearly none on my fiction, yet the joy it gives me is so great that I don’t really care. I was amazed when it first got published, the idea that someone read it and liked it enough to remember it makes that payment exponentially greater.

BTW, Don — any kid who follows the Cubs qualifies as underprivileged.

I must admit that I am having mixed feeling about this year’s Cubs as a result of writing 2008 (On The Impending Centennial Of The Cubs’ Futility) in 2006. I wrote it full of the confidence learned from a life of following the Cubs that they would not win. Now this year they have the best team in baseball and a brilliant manager. It is still concievable that the Cubs will not win it all. The Brewers are incredibly dangerous in a short series and the Angels are nearly as good as the Cubs. But to think that it is the beginning of September and Cubbies are odds on favorites to go to the Series. Part of my entirely self-centered heart thinks that this is yet another way in which the Cubs will thwart my dreams. I know there is a ways to go yet. I remember the collapse of ’69 all too well.

But … but …

And while my other beloveds, the Red Sox, are also good this year, I do not see them getting to the 2nd round of the playoffs. Although a Sox-Cubs series would probably have the highest baseball ratings ever.

Anyone wishing to read more of my poetry can find it at the bottom of the page marked My Writing: Samples.

A final Cub memory:

I moved to New England when I was 9 and so suffered a dual allegiance to the Cubs and the Red Sox. The last time I was at Wrigley (which is a better park than Fenway) was 1988. The Cubs vs. The Mets. The Cub starter was former Sox closer Calvin Schiraldi. In the 9th inning with the Mets up 5-3, Al Nipper (another survivor of the ’86 Red Sox) was brought on to relieve Schiraldi. I got up and headed for the exit. Someone asked me how I could leave. I shook my head and said, “I know how this one turns out.”

As I got in the car I heard Nipper giving up a 3 run homer.

Mebbe Next Year: On The Occasion of The Chicago Cubs’ Impending Centennial of Futility

 

Tinkers to Evers to what’s the chance
a hundred seasons could come and go
so fast no one would celebrate
even one of them

Next year isn’t a mantra
it’s an elegy for wasted time
wasted efforts wasted hopes
and for all those losses
nothing is really lost
no one died from
the heartbreak no child went
hungry because Ernie Banks
never got his pennant

Instead we grew up
with our hopes either stunted
or getting ever larger
believing tomorrow will always
hold what today never can

Still going down to that damn
old park because we take defeat
as our due and know the team’s
reach never exceeds our grasp

Their wish — like our dreams — is
not of brazen prizes and spoiling
success but noon on a July day
when the breeze off the lake
might be just a little bit cool

Three Fingers Brown someone
asked you once if you could
have pitched better with all five
I’ll never know, you said
So what’s it like
to win it all?

(originally published in Eleysian Fields Quarterly)

“To know for sure,
I’d have to throw with a normal hand,
and I’ve never tried it.”
— Mordechai Centennial “Three Fingers” Brown
Career
Win-Loss: 239-130
ERA: 2.06
Strikeouts: 1,375

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Cubs & Red Sox in the playoffs: 2 of 5 seals of the apocalypse approve!

Frankly, I have a better chance of winning the World Series than the Cubs.

seals

The other seals are all waiting for herring.

Or maybe they are two of the four ponies of the apocalypse?

ponies

Never has famine looked so cute.

OK, if they did somehow both make it to the series? Highest. Rated. World. Series. EVER!

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The boy who wishes he was named Sue: “Cubs fans name baby Wrigley Fields”

Wrigley Alexander Fields was born Sept. 12 at an Indiana hospital. … His parents are Paul and Teri Fields of Michigan City, Ind. They are — no surprise — fans of the Cubs, who have played at Wrigley Field since 1916. The Fields planned the name for years before their son’s birth.

Someone call child protective services, cuz this is wrong.

This kid will turn the 40-year-old virgin into a reality.

Here’s why I don’t wear funny t-shirts: They’re only funny the first time you read them.

My parents’ names: Ann & Nick. Youngest kid’s names: Aristodemus & Constantine. Further proof that people with normal names have no idea exactly how un-fun these names are in grade school. My kid’s name: Greg. He’s lucky it wasn’t Bob.

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Put down the celery and come out with your hands up: Footie club warns of vegetable threat

In what has to be the oddest security precaution ever, UK soccer team “Chelsea warned their fans on Friday against throwing celery during matches, saying it was a criminal offence and that anyone caught lobbing the popular salad vegetable could be banned.

The quotes only get better, of course.

The UK Football Association said in a release:

“The throwing of anything at a football match, including celery, is a criminal offence for which you can be arrested and end up with a criminal record. In future, if anyone is found attempting to bring celery into Stamford Bridge they could be refused entry and anyone caught throwing celery will face a ban.”

While the incidents of assault with a deadly-yet-nutritious vegetable are recent, celery has been stalking the team for more than 20 years (sorry, I couldn’t resist). That’s how long fans have been fans pelting each other with the stuff as well as singing what Reuters calls “an unprintable song about the vegetable.”

Actually it’s a chant. And quite printable:

“Celery! Celery! Well if she don’t come I’ll tickle her bum with a lump of celery”

While this is an odd tradition, it is certainly less odd than the Cub’s tradition of going at least a century between championships.

It’s award season … the worst of the worst

Got an email asking, “Who do you think should be Pierce Mattie’s Publicist of the Year?” This was actually asking me to vote for someone on the staff of this firm I had never heard of before. Elsewhere, Brandweek has its “Best + Worst” issue out this week and PRDisasters.com is seeking nominees for its annual award. Some places have had the temerity to suggest that Dick Cheney, Michael Richards and Mel Gibson are in danger of sharing the prize. HAH! (And although this is a late addition, you’ve got to at least give a nod to former Wal-Marter Julie Roehm.)

One PR gaffe was so big this year that it should take the Gold, Silver & Bronze and these others just get honorable mentions. This year’s Chicago Cubs of Public Relations: Judith Regan for the OJ Simpson “I Did It” fiasco. From horrible idea to horrible product to horrible spin control no one else even came close. Richards and Gibson at least both admitted after the fact that they were assholes.

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