There’s No Crying in Baseball

To All the Ships At Sea

Every once in a while I think I can write.  At least my English professor the first year in college thought I could. I’m pretty sure it’s the only A I’ve gotten (well maybe also in history.)  Then along comes Mark Joseph, one hell of a great writer says the New York Times for sure.  He was on the best seller list.  The man loves baseball!   I’d like to share this piece he sent me the other day.

 

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Adiós Pelota
Baseball withdrawal has been easier than ever this year. After the worst World Series in living memory, I’m scratching my head and wondering how the postseason fizzled. Every single one of my predictions was wrong, which is nothing new, but who could have predicted five errors by Detroit pitchers in five games to hand the series to the worst team ever to win the big banana. The poor TV ratings reflected the low quality of play in damn near freezing weather, and all I can say in favor of St. Louis is that they still have the best uniforms in the National League when they wear red hats and home whites. Why the Cards sometimes wear blue hats is beyond me. I’d like to see the Cards play the Nippon Ham Fighters who won the Japanese World Series. The Yankees and Mets, who could have staged a terrific subway series, both went bust because of injuries and lack of pitching, and the Twins finally ran out of gas. The result: zilch, double zilch and a bullshit pine tar controversy. Egad, what’s a fan to do? Winter ball. Mexico

On Saturday night, October 21, I saw the Venados – the Bucks – of Mazatlán play at home against Los Yaquis of Ciudad Obregón. In a beautiful little stadium jammed to overflowing with 14,000 fans, Mazatlán won 2-1 in a tight, errorless ball game that featured three outrageous calls by the umpires that favored the home team. My friend Larry Banner who lives in Mazatlán bought field level seats ($9) that put us next to the home dugout and behind a chain-link fence within spitting distance of first base. A Yaqui runner beat the throw by a step and the ump called him out. Another Yaqui runner was picked off and was clearly safe, but the ump called him out. And when a Mazatlán runner dashed home on a hit to the outfield, the beautiful throw from right field had him nailed but he was called safe. The visiting manager didn’t make a peep, leaving me to believe that everybody understood that when Mazatlán visits Obregón the calls would favor the home team there.

Mazatlán is an extraordinarily polite city, and the fans were enthusiastic but not rowdy. Noisy, yes, insane, no, considering that before the game guys in yellow vests put buckets of ice and beer every few steps up the aisles in the stands. The Pacifico Brewery, which seems to own Mazatlán, owns the team, and perhaps the league, and you could get a beer by waving your hand, but you had to go to the concessions for a Coke. The baseball was AA at best, maybe good college ball, and no one on the field stood out as a major league talent. Each team in the Mexican Pacific Coast League is allowed 5 foreign players, although the Bucks have 6 (5 gringos and 1 Dominican) and if you wonder why a 32 year old American is playing for Mazatlán, maybe you should watch the film Major League again. The fans didn’t care. The uniforms said Mazatlán – and Pacifico and Señor Frogs and Coca-Cola and Bancomer and Mega, so much advertising they looked like soccer uniforms – but the best part was the end of the game when 2000 kids ran onto the field. The players hung around and signed autographs for 30 minutes until the lights went out to get everyone off the field. This was pure bush-league baseball in a bush-league town, a little time capsule with no million-dollar contracts, no hissy fits, no posturing, and no bullshit except for the umpires, at least on this night, when time stopped and it was 1953 again.

Mark Joseph is an American novelist. He is the author of To Kill the Potemkin, originally published in 1986. As a paperback, it spent four weeks on The New York Times bestseller list in July and August 1987.

He later published the novels Mexico 21 (1990), Typhoon (1991), Deadline Y2K (1999), and The Wild Card (2011).

Born in 1946 in Vallejo, California, he is a 1967 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.

Baseball: An Obsession

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© Joe DiMaggio

To all the ships at sea,

I’ve got some of the greatest friends in the world. Mark Joseph, who’s been on the New York Times Best Sellers list several times, is one of the finest writers of the last third of the century. He’s written Typhoon, To Kill the Potemkin, Mexico 21, and he has a new book coming out on which I am sworn to secrecy. I’ve read it and it is probably his best work. It’s a little known fact that mark has a very serious addiction, which is something that, thank god, I do not share with him (I have my own addictions, and unless you have a Ph.D. for psychology, I’m not going to tell you! But you could probably figure it out.) Mark is addicted to baseball. As a matter of fact, we’ve worked together on a few baseball articles for some magazines. We normally bet 25 cents on games, but because of his devotion and crazy passion for the San Francisco Giants, he’s kicked it up to 100 pesos. It’s all about the playoffs! Attached you’ll find a few notes that have been going back and forth on the internet- they’ll be self explanatory and if nothing else, you’ll appreciate his writing and the fun we have.

“I got one hundred pesos that say the Giants will beat the Cubs in the NLDS. Any takers?

Mark

Egad! I’m heading for the foreign currency exchange this morning to get a stack of 100 peso notes to pay you all off. But wait! There’s another game tonight. Oh, gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands. Is it basketball season yet?

Mark

The 2016 Giants

In the second half of the season, the Giants’ pitching has been brilliant, but their hitting disappeared. They lost more 1-0 games than I care to remember. They could score 12 runs against Arrieta on Monday, but they can’t sustain that kind of run production, not this team this year.  The truth is I never expected them to make the playoffs. It’s a long story, but it starts at third base with the departure of Pablo Sandoval last year. Panda was immensely popular with the fans who didn’t care if he was a fatso, but the Giants got the Red Sox to take him, but it left a hole in the lineup that a bunch of guys couldn’t fill. Then they found Matt Duffy in their own farm system and he was a hit, a gangly rookie that people quickly grew fond of. Apparently, the Giants players really loved this kid, and then in the middle of the season, with the Giants pitching faltering, they traded Duffy to Tampa Bay for Matt Moore. Now, Moore has been great, and he’s done more than expected, but the life went out of the the Giants offense with Duffy gone. It is clearly all weirdness under the direction of the baseball gods, but with Duffy gone, people now view the vaunted geniuses in the upper tiers of AT&T Park – Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean – as maybe not such geniuses after all.

So, making bets in Peso increments is a cruel joke on myself and all Giants fans. Even year? Even Steven, dude. The Dodgers were better, the Cubs were much better. Lots of people feel sorry for the Cubs, and for the good people of Chicago because they keep shooting one another, but as we used to say in the Foreign Legion, tant pis, mon ami. The Cubs will probaly sweep the Giants, but win the World Series? I’m waiting for the quintissential Bartman moment with the Cubs. I’ve been to Wrigley. It’s a dump, a loveable old dump, but a dump nonetheless. Lousy hotdogs, too.

I’m gonna get the Mexican money on Monday, just in case.

Mark”

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