This is Priority Mail?

Way back in March, in this very blog, I maligned the AAA web site because it would only allow a total of eight destinations on the form to have a Triptik made for your upcoming road trip, so I had to make two separate requests, and then all I got in the mail was a Triptik for the final third of this trip; I had assumed that someone saw two requests by the same AAA member coming very closely together and threw away the first request.

Well, all this time, it turns out the AAA and their web site wasn’t at fault. It was the U.S. Postal Service. The Triptik covering the first two-thirds of this trip, it turns out, came in a much bigger box (because of all the Tourbooks that came along with it), too big to fit in one of the package lockers in my apartment complex, as the mailman discovered when trying to deliver it on February 4th (I know this because of a telltale scrawl on the address label). But he didn’t leave a note then, for whatever reason, and the package apparently got forgotten about somewhere in the North Hollywood post office until yesterday, when I finally got a note telling me to pick it up in a hurry or they would return it to the sender on May 3rd.

But now we have the small problem that all these Tourbooks are the 2003 editions, because the updated editions don’t come out until March or April (if I had remembered this, I wouldn’t have ordered the Triptik for this trip so early), and the more significant problem that the route shown on this Triptik doesn’t reflect our current plans, which involve going from Carmi, Illinois, to Detroit via University Park, Illinois, so we can drop Luke off at the Metra station.

So I’m going to go in person to a AAA office soon to get them to make a “corrected” Triptik while I wait, and maybe a big pile of 2004 edition Tourbooks, thus avoiding the Postal Service altogether, and the North Hollywood post office in particular. (My copy of the April 11th TV Guide also seems to have disappeared into a black hole, but TV Guide extended my subscription for two weeks to make up for it.)

Brain delay

Via Jon Solomon, from the Indianapolis Star-Tribune, on yesterday’s Louisville Bats/Indianapolis Indians game:

“The game was halted for 15 minutes after the third inning when Indians first baseman Jeff Liefer accidentally got locked inside the team’s clubhouse restroom.”

Original comments…

sandor: Glad to see the good ol’ Indy Indians get some press, however silly it is. I’ll be the first to admit there isn’t much to see on your way through Naptown, but Victory Field really is a treat. I treated my grandma to a game there a few years ago, and we had a blast. Highly recommended, even when the ballplayers are too dumb to remember how a door works.

(Small point: Last I checked the masthead it’s the Indianapolis Star, no -Tribune. You must be thinking of that -apolis, up north somewhere. Incidentally, the one AAA park that I know of that stands up to Victory Field is that of the St. Paul Saints.)

The Designated Hitter

Steven Goldman, writer of The Pinstriped Bible, a Yankees site worth reading–despite not being a Yankee-hating site–today calls the Designated Hitter “the Free Parking of baseball.”

Aside from the fact that the DH sucks all the time, whereas Free Parking only sucks when your opponent lands on it, I think he’s right on. Finding a good DH should be the easiest thing in the world for a team. That’s why, when the Cardinals (in interleague play) batted Miguel Cairo there a few times, or when the Yankees, this season, have batted Ruben Sierra there against lefties, it has brought sorrow and joy, respectively.

Yet another song

Of course Levi and Steve should coach Little League. It would be the only team with assigned reading every week!

I got another free iTunes song for going to the Ben & Jerry’s web site on Tuesday and pledging to vote in November, so I downloaded “Joe DiMaggio Done It Again” by Billy Bragg and Wilco. It’s a good thing I didn’t have to pledge to eat Ben & Jerry’s, since I tend to stick with ice cream with company names ending in “reyers.”

By the way, the new “radio charts” feature in the iTunes Music Store is surprisingly cool, although they unfortunately don’t list what’s being played on Carmi’s very own WROY. (They don’t seem to list any oldies stations or “standards” stations…and since they also don’t list any satellite format playlists, they only list a handful of AM stations nationwide.)

Original comments…

stacey: jim, did you know that “dreyer’s” is known as “edy’s” east of the rockies? this is akin the “hellman’s” & “best foods” mayonnaise phenomenon.

Jim: Yes, especially since I grew up way east of the Rockies. In fact, I don’t think they had Edy’s in Tampa until, like, the late ’80s or maybe even the early ’90s. By the way, I’m still a little mad at them for discontinuing my favorite flavor ever, Banana Cream Pie, which was banana ice cream with chunks of vanilla wafers. Breyers makes a banana ice cream with chocolate chunks in it, which is okay, but I could do without the chocolate. I like banana ice cream.

A Poll

You can vote in the comments section. I’ll tabulate the votes, without, I promise, the help of Diebold.

Question: Should Steve and I coach a little league team together?

Not that I’ve asked Steve about this before this very moment. Not that I have a team in mind, or have any idea how one goes about getting one together. Not that I know a damned thing about pitching, or coaching kids (except that you can’t talk like Lee Elia). Not that I am even known to be a fan of children.

It’s just a poll.

Original comments…

Luke: Oh, God, yes. I’m imagining something of a cross between “Bad News Bears” and “Dead Poets Society,” or

In my last season of Little League we were coached by a couple of guys from the high school team. We thought they were the coolest — they introduced us to Eazy E and NWA, among other things — especially relative to all the incompetent and abusive fathers we usually got. I’m pretty sure they were only coaching us to work off community service, but still. You guys could be Little League kings.

Can either of you throw a curveball? The greatest terror I’ve ever known was when one of these coaches threw curveballs straight for my head, only to have them break in for strikes. The day I learned to stand in against a curve without hitting the deck is the day I became a man.

(No, wait. I became a man the day I started putting mustard on my hot dogs — I was 24 – but that’s another story.)

How much does it cost to sponsor a team? Schlitzserv Sluggers has a nice ring to it. We could take them all out to Simon’s after the game and buy them soda pop and chocolate cigars. (Unless they have lost, in which case we’d take them to the Y to run laps and lift weights.)

Steve: I don’t know…. I hope you are talking about this Steve. Otherwise I’ll feel stupid.

There was a time when Bloodshot sponsored a little league team. I watched them play a few times. They had this one fat kid who looked just like Fernando Valenzuela. He was so slow that unless he absolutely murdered the ball he would get thrown out at first on hits that would have been singles for other kids. The most remarkable thing about this kid though was that he could hit. Watching him swing was kind of like the famous Simpsons “Ringers” episode. They show Homer in slow motion and his whole gut is shaking with the momentum. This kid would wind up and almost completely extend his arms. The bat would come through the zone in slow motion and he would power the ball mostly to left field (a dead pull hitter). He was about seven or eight but easily had 10yr old power.

One thing I gathered is that if you can instill even the smallest bit of discipline you can seriously capitalize on the other teams errors. There was one team that would just run and run and run. They were kind of like the 85 Cardinals without the base-stealing. If they had a hit they would just keep running to force the fielding team to throw to second base and tag the runner. Many times the ball was late or would land at the second baseman’s feet. Clearly this was the product of adults well attuned to the poor coordination of youngsters. There was this win at all cost mentality that didn’t quite seem appropriate. It sacrificed the notion of fundamental baseball and all the kids were cocky because they were little doubles machines.

There were some drawbacks. A seven-inning game would last about three hours. Three innings were coach pitch and four innings were kid pitch. Kid pitch was excruciating. So many walks….

I’ll strongly consider it if I get to wear polyester softball shorts and have a whistle.

Levi: Certainly I was thinking of you, Steve.

And my vote is yes!

Even though I’m not sure I’m serious about it yet.

stacey: i vote yes, too. this is way better than levi’s plan that i lead a girl scout troop. i’ll even bake cookies and bring them to the ballpark with oven mitts on.

Luke: Why not both? Hell, *I’d* join a Girl Scout troop if Stacey were the leader. You could even swap jobs occasionally: Stacey would coach the boys (and sporting girls) in how to bunt and spit, and Levi would teach the Scouts how to make bread and mulled wine.

Levi: And once in a while, I’d have Tony Becker and his mom come by for a lesson in making Mint Juleps, or Pete Bodensteiner could run a lesson on cigars.

This sounds better all the time.

Tom Ellwanger: Try to get Don Zimmer to coach third base. This is a guy who knows something about baseball.

Levi: But if we get Zimmer to coach third, there will always be the danger of him attacking the other team’s best pitcher!

He’ll at least deliver an honest, hearfelt apology afterwards, though. And kids need to see honest, heartfelt apologies–there are too few examples in public life. Maybe it would be worth a brawl now and then?

sandor: I vote yes. I was about to say, I’d even try to join the team, since I never got to participate in Little League when I was little. But then it occurred to me, what the hell was I thining, I did play Little League when I was little, but it was such a terrible experience — for me and for my teammmates — that I’ve apparently tried to block it out of my memory. So you better keep me away.

If I’d had coaches like Levi and Steve, however, who knows how much better it would have been. Certainly I would have learned the simple lesson of watching the batter when playing right field, instead of watching the planes fly overhead. Such pretty planes…

Tony: Not knowing much about little league, I guess I’d have to say it’s really up to Steve and Levi. I think it would probably afford everybody more opportunities for sunshine, eating hot dogs, and wearing funny hats.

However, if you like the idea of Mint Julep lessons from my mother, you’ll love these pictures that Dad took down at the ranch last summer.

thatbob: I can’t see Levi having more than three minutes’ patience with a bunch of kids – or they having more than a minute’s patience with him – so to me, the proposal is reminiscent of The Country Show, in the sense that it would be a joint venture in idea only, while in reality Steve would be left to shoulder most of the work. Which would be great! Any venture that leaves Steve to shoulder most of the work is worth following closely! But I still have to vote against the idea, mostly because I think I have a better one: Steve and the rabbi coach a Little League team. That way, when Steve is working his ass off, the rabbi can get in a few drinks. And this all makes for a much better movie.

Toby: If you do, Levi, I promise I’ll come up and cover one of your games.

The magic’s in the music and the music’s in me

I assume, Levi, that you’re only referring to songs with vocal accompaniment being performed or played at the ballpark. Because as I see it, anything is fine if it’s being played live on an organ. Especially “Three Blind Mice.”

Original comments…

Levi: You’re right, Jim, And I have to admit a dirty secret: I have a soft spot for “Jump”, played as the Cubs take the field at home. It sounds great, it somehow hasn’t dated, and its message of the importance of taking a leap of faith seems appropriate.

Oh, and a side note. I’m not entirely certain that there is _any_ song that wouldn’t be improved by being sung by Roy Orbison. Just like I think there might not be any movie that wouldn’t be improved by Peter O’Toole’s presence.

Musical notes

1) Ross and I, to warm me up for my first vocal techniques class at the Old Town School of Folk Music (Really. I’m taking a singing class.) sang a falsetto version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Stacey seemed horrified, but I recommend it. Until you try it, you won’t realize just how high those high notes get. But I recommend you try it in the privacy of your own home, unless you’re Wayne Mesmer, in which case I suggest you try it Tuesday, May 4th, which is the next time I’ll be at Wrigley Field.

2) My newest unrealizable music dream is to hear Roy Orbison sing John Fogerty’s “Centerfield.” I agree with Rob Neyer that the only songs that should be played at a ballpark are “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” “Centerfield,” and, when appropriate, “O, Canada.” “Centerfield” is a great song. It’s a song that perfectly conveys much of what’s wonderful about baseball.

But if Roy Orbison had sung it, it would have been even better. See, I don’t actually believe that Fogerty is suffering because he’s on the bench. Sure, he’s antsy and itching to get into the game. He’s pounding his fist into his glove and imagining crashing into the wall. But he will survive if he stays on the bench and the team wins. Just being around the game will, ultimately, be enough.

Roy Orbison, on the other hand, would quickly make clear that he will die a horrible, protracted, sorrowing death if he doesn’t get into the game. Failure and despair will gnaw away at his insides as the innings roll by. There would be no joy in Mudville, no joy anywhere overlooked by his Ray-Bans.

And you know what? He’d get into the game. Ultimately–think of the end of “Running Scared”–the strings would swell and the coach would give in. Roy would be centerfield. The fans might not be able to see him for their tears, but he’d be out there, ready to do his part.

Original comments…

sandor: I’ll be at Wrigley May 4th as well. My first game of the season. Along with Sarah, Adrienne and Syd, storyteller extraordinnaire. If Wayne doesn’t deliver, I bet Syd will be happy to treat you to his falsetto version. With a little hair dye and a pair of sunglasses, he’d probably even be able to do it as Roy Orbison.

thatbob: “Beer Barrel Polka,” dumbass.

Another baseball song

I’m now 3-for-3 on winning iTunes from 20-ounce Pepsis purchased at 7-Eleven. I’d buy more if it weren’t actually uneconomical (they cost $1.23 including the “CA Cash Refund” value), considering I wouldn’t be buying 20-ounce Pepsis if it weren’t for the fleeting fun of this iTunes contest.

Anyway, the song I purchased this time was Jonathan Richman’s “Walter Johnson,” with typically Jonathan Richman-esque lyrics…

All through baseball
He was loved and respected
Was there bitterness in Walter Johnson?
Well, it was never detected

I have seven more baseball songs I’d like to download from iTunes, but I probably won’t be buying any more Pepsi between now and April 30th, the last day to redeem the codes for free songs (i.e., I won’t be buying any more Pepsi unless they run another contest like this, because I like Coke better). If anyone has any leftover codes and has run out of songs they like, feel free to send them along.

Original comments…

sandor: See, if I had my act together, I’d already have built you the addition to this site that would let thankful readers (like myself) donate funds to your trip in any form they like, but preferrably gasoline credits, Pepsi bottlecaps or iTunes Store gift certificates. I’ll get right on that. In the meanwhile, I’ll send 99 cents your way through the iTMS.

sandor: Well, poop. The iTMS only allows gift certificates in increments of $10. The problem isn’t whether I’m willing to donate 10 songs to the cause, which I of course am, but that those sneaky fuckers at Apple will be pocketing the extra 10 cents. Sniff sniff… is that salami I smell?

Jim: Apple wouldn’t pocket the extra 10 cents…the entire $10 would go into my iTunes account, so I would effectively get 11 songs for a total cost to me of 89 cents. Or a full album plus one extra song for 98 cents.

Things, wonderful, about the new Peanuts book, known by Jim, not told by him to Levi

Jim didn’t mention that the best book ever has a Joy of Cooking- or Legends of the Jews-quality index.

For example:

Charlie Brown, insults to, general . . . 1, 9, 10, 27, 33, 41, 65, 102, 116, 128, 131, 171
Snoopy, clothes, depicted in, to disturbing effect . . . 163, 171
Snoopy, dog reference, offended by . . . 13, 41, 81, 118, 120, 130, 200, 209, 236, 257
Snoopy, dog reference, nonplussed by . . . 20
Tricycle, Charlie Brown bullied off by Patty . . . 100, 102, 104, 195

Baseball doesn’t get such a specific breakdown, but it is featured on sixteen separate pages.

In the next few months, Stacey and I will be building the shelf that, in mid-2016, will hold all twenty-five volumes.

Original comments…

thatbob: Is it an index to only the first two years’ encompassed in volume 1? Or is it an index to the whole 50+ years, to be printed in all twenty-five volumes? And if it’s just an index to the first two years, I can’t help but wonder whether subsequent volumes will include a cumulative index (hot!!!), or if maybe each volume will be individually indexed (yawn) with cumulative five or ten-year indices (hot!) or a separate full index volume (hottest!!!). This is something you should try to determine before building your shelves.

Levi: I was thinking about that last night. The Legends of the Jews has a separate index volume, which seems to most often be the way that multi-volume scholarly productions go. But I bet this will just be an index to each volume.

However, I _think_ there’s no law that would prohibit us from making and selling a comprehensive index to all the volumes in 2016.

Hilary Spurling (with author Anthony Powell’s encouragement) did that with the twelve volumes of _A Dance to the Music of Time_, tracking each character. It was called _An Invitation to the Dance_. We’d have to call ours _Peanuts Shells_ or something.

Jim: Assuming they don’t change the format of the books at some point, the last volume is going to be 1999-2000…but the last new “Peanuts” strip was in February 2000. Plenty of space for a cumulative index in that one.

To be fair

Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Craig Wilson has so far gotten insufficient (read: zero) attention at this site for his fantastic new hairdo.

I bet he’s muttering about East Coast media bias at his locker before games as he thumbs through the paper and sees photo after photo of Johnny Damon’s hair and beard.

So here’s to Craig Wilson and his gloriously flowing golden locks. We come from the land of the ice and snow, indeed!

P.S. My friend Downtown Toby Brown says I’m in trouble if, on our trip, I root for the Brewers to beat the Pirates. Toby’s long-suffering Pirates fandom does deserve our support, so I guess I’ll be rooting for the eyepatch and parrot over the suds and brats.

Original comments…

Jim: Ah, yes, now I recall that during the Pirates-Phillies game I watched way back on Opening Day, the Pirates announcers were being effusive in their praise of Craig Wilson’s hairdo, comparing him to Johnny Damon (but also pointing out that with his blond hair, a Johnny Damon-style beard wouldn’t look as good on him).

Steve: Golden locks my ass! As soon as he takes that helmet off you’re looking at a mullet pure and simple. Just be careful if you try to talk to him about his hair or get his autograph on your upcomming trip. He might go Geddy Lee on you.—“Living in a fisheye lens/Caught in the camera eye/I have no heart to lie I can’t pretend a stranger is/A long awaited friend”

stacey: Thing One: Johnny Damon makes my heart swell with love and hapa pride.

Thing Two: Sorry, Toby. Although pirates also make my heart swell, beer and brats and proximity win. At least until I meet an actual pirate, at which point I can reassess.