Random musings on a writer's life & times, with occasional input from acquaintances


Saturday, November 16, 2002

This just in from T-Model Tommy Goodloe:

Went to the Central Catholic-Jesuit high school playoff football game at PGE Park last night. Central won, 42-35. If either team could play defense, it’d be dangerous.

This Ryan Gunderson kid who quarterbacks Central is the real deal, though. Six-five, 220, a cannon for an arm, runs a no-huddle offense by calling plays at the line of scrimmage and makes it work despite formations that sometimes look like a Chinese fire drill (or is that an Asian firedrill in today’s politically correct palaver?). Threw for three TD’s and ran for one. He’s committed to Oregon State. Too bad for the Duckinis, because he’s going to be lighting them up in 2-3 years. He looks like the next Joey Harrington, who also played at Central. UO picked a Seattle-area kid named Durocher as this year’s recruiting-class quarterback and didn’t pursue Gunderson, who has proceeded to throw 45 TD passes this season so far (he gets to play at least one more game, a playoff quarterfinal against Lake Oswego).

Last night’s contest looked like a victory for the pluggers over the thoroughbreds. Aside from the statuesque Gunderson, Central’s players run to the sawed-off, squatty body types -- dimensions like 5-9 & 195, 6-0 & 260. Jesuit’s players, on the other hand, look like athletes. They tend to go 6-3 & 205, 6-2 & 180 and they can run. Jesuit’s kids look better in a football uniform, if you know what I mean. The thing about Jesuit is, a lot of those Secretariat bodies return next year. Aside from Chris Peerboom, a smooth senior quarterback who threw for four touchdowns, most of Jesuit’s studs are juniors. If the Crusaders turn up a quarterback for next year, look out!

The Central students were pumped about winning. This game was hyped in The Oregonian as “The Holy War,” since it involved the two biggest private Catholic schools in Portland and the state. Central’s kids were bummed when they lost their opening game this season to Jesuit 61-59 in double overtime. So for the Rams, it WAS fargin’ war, to quote “Johnny Dangerously.” Central gets pumped when it plays Jesuit in any sport, partly because of an inferiority complex. Jesuit is the pricey westside suburban school with a fancy athletic plant, including a nice football stadium. (Nike richboy Phil Knight, whose corporate headquarters sprawl in Jesuit’s Beaverton back yard, donates big bucks.) Central is the eastside urban school with no stadium at all. Its football team practices on the lawn behind the school and plays “home games” way downtown at PGE Park, which is really a baseball field. Kids who go to Jesuit claim to be mystified by Central’s animosity. Jesbians don’t care about Central Catholic, they say. Too busy polishing daddy’s Lexus, I guess.

Gunderson was only mildly sharp Friday, partially because of those good Jesuit athletes flying around, so the story of the game for Central was 5-11, 178-pound senior wide receiver/defensive back Nick Miller. He ran the opening kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown. Moments later, playing cornerback, he got beat like a drum by Jesuit receiver Zach Tarver for a 68-yard touchdown pass. Moments later yet, Tarver --who is 6-5, 189 and runs like a cheetah -- beat him again for a 54-yard touchdown after Miller dove, slapped the ball up in the air and saw it land in Tarver’s waiting hands. Miller then proceeded to return THAT kickoff for 99 yards and another touchdown. All of this in the first quarter.

Miller caught several Gunderson passes in the second quarter with a pair of really sticky hands as Central went up 28-14, then got torched by Tarver again in the third quarter for an 80-yard touchdown pass. (At least I THINK he was the one who got lit up -- only two defenders were within 15 yards of Tarver when he caught the ball, and he had started out on Miller’s side of the field.) After another Jesuit touchdown tied the score 28-28, Miller returned THAT kickoff for about sixty yards before fumbling and setting off a wild, twenty-yard chase of the ball that ended with Central claiming it around the Jesuit twenty. That set up a Central score than made it 35-28. Somewhere along in there, Miller intecepted a pass in his own end zone. Then Jesuit tied it 35-35, and Central ended it 42-35, but only after Jesuit twice drove to the Central twenty yard-line in the last minute and a half of the game. One drive halted on a fumble and the other with a fourth-down incompletion.

All in all, the game reminded me of watching the UO football team play. Maybe Nick Aliotti is tutoring coaches at both Central and Jesuit in his patented matador defense (step out of the way and wave as pass receivers go by). The night ended happily for Miller, at any rate. I’ll bet he got a good night’s sleep. He needed it.


On another matter: I see Seattle’s Mariners have hired Bob Melvin to replace Lou Piniella as manager. Since he spent ten years in the majors as a sub catcher with a career batting average of .233, I’m sure Melvin will be able to share all kinds of wisdom and insight on how to play the game. Plus, his players will be hot to listen, because his name is Melvin. I always listen up when a guy named Melvin speaks. Same deal for Adelbert, Wally and Cecil.

Friday, November 15, 2002

Ray (Slice & Dice) Cutter left this missive under a flowerpot on my front porch this morning:

Dave dude. . . .

My worthless ex-wife wouldn’t let me use her office computer to set up a weblog, so I thought I would donate this to you. You can post it on YOUR blog, verdad?

guns & roses,

by Raymond S. Cutter
Cultural Arbiter

Went to see/hear Dorianne Laux read her poetry at Reed College last night. Interesting.

Laux is one gutsy broad. Lots of female poets may call a spade a spade, but not many will call a penis a cock, in print or out loud before an audience of 92 people (I counted ‘em). Laux does. She writes about her sex life with frank sensuality. She writes about other things, too, of course, but what sticks in my head is the sex. Especially after spending 45 minutes listening to her read while sitting in an audience that was 70 percent female and under the age of 22. And some of them, including the black-haired girl in the seat next to me, were actually attractive. Who knew they had babes at Reed? I thought female Reedies all wore overalls and braided their armpit hair.

Laux (pronounced lox, as in bagel) teaches creative writing, your basic modern poet’s I-don’t-wanna-starve gig, at the U of O. She’s published three books of poetry -- “Awake,” “What We Carry” and “Smoke” -- and I had copies of all three of them until my ex-wife, Sierra, that bitch, claimed they were hers and took them when she moved out. I like the poems a lot. They’re accessible but not flat-line stuff, and just as often piquant or reflective as sexy. “Fast Gas,” which she read last night, is one of my favorites. It tells of her days as a 20-year-old gas-station attendant and manages to turn being doused with gasoline into a beautiful metaphor for falling in love the first time. Another favorite, the one that always occurs to me when someone mentions Laux, is “Ghosts.” An account of feelings triggered by sitting on her front porch watching a young neighbor couple paint their apartment, it goes, in part:

My hip aches against the damp cement,
I take it inside, punch up a pillow
for it to nest in. I'm getting too old
to sit on the porch in the rain,
to stay up all night, watch morning
rise over rooftops.

Too old to dance
circles in dirty bars, a man's hands
laced at the small of my spine, pink
slingbacks hung from limp fingers. Love,
I'm too old for that, the foreign tongues
loose in my mouth, teeth that rang
my breasts by the nipples like soft bells.

I want it back. The red earrings and blue
slips. Lips alive with spit. Muscles
twisting like boatropes in a hard wind.
Bellies for pillows. Not this ache in my hip.

I want the girl who cut through blue poolrooms
of smoke and golden beers, stepping out alone
into a summer fog to stand beneath a streetlamp's
amber halo, her blue palms cupped
around the flare of a match.

Yeah. I want it all back, too. A guy’s version of it, anyhow. I’d quote more of Laux’s stuff, but I don’t want to get my butt in a sling for copyright swiping or whatever. If you want to read more, call her up on the Google search engine. Or, better yet, buy one of her books! I like “What We Carry” best.

Laux is 50 years old and has lived life hard. She likes to joke about her pre-poetry career, which included -- besides pumping gas -- jobs as donut holer, sanatorium cook and maid. Her poems speak sometimes about those jobs, and about the trials of single motherhood. She began living a different kind of life after she found poetry, like some people find Jesus, I guess, and boot-strapped her way through college in the 1980s to become a poet-professor. The first time I heard her read, a couple of years ago, I thought she had a cold, but she admitted last night the rumble in her voice is a smoker’s hack. She’s about to try acupuncture in a last-resort attempt to quit cigarettes.

Laux married Joe Millar, another Eugene poet with a working-class background (he was a telephone lineman), a few years back. I’ve met Millar several times, and he seems a good guy and a good poet. I have to wonder, though, how he feels about his wife’s sensual poems. Some -- including one she read last night -- are about their shared sex life, which would be weird enough, but several concern other men. And they don’t call a penis a spade. Man, if Sierra ever started publishing poems about sack-time with me, or with the guy she left me for or any guy from her less-than-prissy past, I would freak. It would be gutsy for her, as it is for Dorianne Laux, but being relegated in print to a mere supporting role in her sexual biography would be tough, tough, tough.

Just remember, we're all in this alone.

--Lily Tomlin

Thursday, November 14, 2002

“I’ve got a new business card,” Ray Cutter said. “Check it out.”

He slid a small white rectangle toward me across the table at San Felipe Taqueria, where we were eating burritos. Printed on it was “Raymond S. Cutter, Cultural Arbiter,” followed by Ray’s address and phone number.

“Cultural arbiter?” I said. “What is that?”

“Critic of all things cultural. Literature, movies, theater, music, painting. If it’s cultural, I critique it. And I don’t just assess the merits and demerits of a work of art, I judge how your appreciation of it reflects your worth as a human being. Kind of like Jack Black in ‘High Fidelity,’ only with more range. You love ‘The Catcher in the Rye’? You are a wise soul, perhaps deserving of the title Mahatma. You actually read ‘The Bridges of Madison County’? You should be dragged out on a Baghdad roof and shot, and your body should be heaved into the street.”

“You’re qualified to pass this kind of judgment?”

“You doubt me?” said Ray, drawing himself up to his full 6-foot-3 and jamming his hands into the hands of his black trench coat. Because he weighs only 148 pounds, the effect was less than intimidating.

I shrugged. “Well, a failed disk jockey who clerks in video store at age 32 doesn’t exactly seem like a heavy hitter on the culture scene.”

“Come on, Dave,” Ray replied, adjusting the collar of his black turtleneck. “You know I’ve done dozens of theater reviews for Street Roots. And I had that cash-register job at Powell Books until they decided to start being polite to customers. I’ve got wide-ranging cultural experience.

“Besides, I didn’t exactly ‘fail,’ as you so crassly put it, as a disk jockey. It wasn’t my fault the station changed format from ska to Christian rock. It was a freedom of religion thing. I’m a devout hedonist. I stuck to my beliefs and sacrificed my job. You should be treating me as a persecuted hero, like one of the Hollywood Ten.”

“Spare me,” I pleaded. “KRZY radio is hardly the House Un-American Activities Committee. And Ray ‘Slice and Dice’ Cutter, boy hero, is a bit much to buy.”

“Mock me if you must,” Ray said, “but I know you’re just afraid I may butcher a few of your sacred cows when I cut loose.” He took off his Oakland Raiders cap, flicked a speck of lint from the one-eyed pirate logo, and returned the hat to his head with the bill pointed backwards, as usual.

“I don’t have sacred cows,” I said.

“Oh no? What about your affection for ‘You Never Can Tell’? That is possibly the stupidest movie ever made. Dick Powell playing a dog reincarnated as a private detective? Give me a break!”

“No, no,” I said, “It’s a great movie! When Powell scoops the kibble out of his suit-coat pocket and munches as he snoops around the scene of the crime? That’s priceless. And the scene where his secretary, Goldie, the reincarnated race horse, chases down the bus after the driver doesn’t stop for her is a riot. ‘You Never Can Tell’ ranks up there with the best. ‘Citizen Kane,’ ‘Rashomon,’ ‘Raging Bull,’ ‘You Never Can Tell.’ They’re on a par.”

“Oh, my man,” said Ray, “you are in severe need of guidance. This is the kind of service I intend to provide. Brittany Spears? No. Venice Shoreline Chris? Yes. Norman Rockwell? No. René Magritte? Yes. Edna St. Vincent Millet? No. Charles Bukowski? Yes. ‘Titanic?’ No. ‘Taxi Driver?’ Yes. Andrew Lloyd Webber? No. Mel Brooks? Yes.”

“From what platform do you intend to dispense this cultural wisdom?” I asked.

“I’m in negotiations with editors at The Nickel Saver and the Sellwood Bee -- I’ve been offering them critical essays for free, and they’ve been telling me to go away. And I’m still hooked up with Street Roots. As long as I peddle it two days a months at Tenth and Burnside, they’ll print my reviews. I may decide to get on the web, set up a site people can access with a credit card and distribute my invaluable judgments that way.”

“The ‘Slice and Dice Site?’” I said. “Sounds great.”

“Has a nice ring, doesn’t it?” Ray stood up, polished the toes of his black engineer boots on the legs of his black jeans, and headed for the door. “Catch you around the grille,” he said. “I gotta go to my ex-wife’s office and see if she’ll let me use her computer to dial up Blogger.”

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

I hope everyone has noticed that “Get Fuzzy” is the best thing on newspaper comic pages these days. It has its ups and downs, like all strips, but ongoing it is the funniest of the funnies. It’s the current link in a chain that began with “The Far Side” and ran through "Calvin and Hobbes.” Thank god Darby Conley emerged to rescue the comic pages from the blah-osity into which they had sunk after Gary Larson and Bill Waterson retired from the daily fray.

Not that I begrudge Larson and Waterson their withdrawals from the scene. Better to quit early than hang around years after you ran out of anything to say. No point in joining the drones who still flog the corpses of Beetle Baily and the Wizard of Id. (Was that wizard EVER funny?). I feel a kinship with Larson and Waterson, in fact. I wrote a weekly newspaper column for about three years, and by the time I came up with an excuse to quit (my wife wanted to move to Portland and go to chef school) I had sorely depleted my storehouse of ideas. It was actually a relief of sorts to surrender the column, although I sometimes do miss writing it. Nostalgia for my column-writing days, as much as anything, probably explains the existence of this blog.

Well, anyway, “Get Fuzzy” is a hoot. Bucky B. Katt is my man (or, more precisely, my cat). He and I share many traits -- aloofness, sarcasm, lack of compassion, arrogance, volatility, a sense of style (did you see Bucky when he dressed as a lawyer and went to court?). And my wife, Cookie Jean, is a reincarnation of Satchel the soft-hearted, do-gooder dog. Our household lacks only a mature referee like Rob Wilco.

Aside from “Get Fuzzy,” which we all admire, the residents of our southeast Portland hovel have split loyalties on the comics page. My wife, die-hard liberal that she is, likes “Doonesbury” because of the way Garry Trudeau portrays Republican George W. Bush as an asterisk in a cowboy hat. My 14-year-old son, Andy (aka Android, the Droidman, Lefty, Ralph), thinks “Zits” portrays the reality of his life, especially the strips dealing with clueless parents. And I appreciate “Adam.” The comic is rarely a laff riot, but Adam’s work-at-home routine resembles mine. The strip last week where his kids watched him snore on his office couch, rise to pound on his computer keyboard for a few brief moments, then slouch back to the couch was a classic. Many of us serve the muse in just such a manner.

So, if you were wondering what to give me for Christmas, I have a most excellent suggestion. Go to the “Get Fuzzy” website and order a coffee mug with that picture of Rob Wilco clutching a squirming Bucky B. Katt while Satchel hangs from his coattail. I’ll think of you (and Bucky) with every sip I take.

Received this e-mail message from T-Model Tommy Goodloe:

Who the hell is Miguel Tejada? One of the guitarists in “El Mariachi?” And how did a “small-market” team like the Oakland A’s come up with the money to pay off the sportswriters who vote on American League most valuable player? I guess the Texas Strangers spent so much money to HIRE Alex Rodriguez, they couldn’t afford to counter-bribe the voters.

Oakland should have run out of bucks after buying that Cy Young Award for Barry the Zit. As one scribe who’s vote went elsewhere wrote: Who would you rather have start for your team in the seventh game of the World Series, Barry Zito or Pedro Martinez?

And don’t get me started on Barry Bonds. In the National League, MVP must stand for most valuable prick.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Buford A. Chase, an acquaintance from my newspaper days, summoned me to a press conference.

“I don’t do press conferences any more, Buford,” I told him when he telephoned. “I quit journalism. I’m an artiste now.”

“Don’t matter, son,” he assured me. “This will be an event of historical import. You won’t want to miss it.”

Buford is a politician. When we met years ago, he was a member of the Oregon Legislature and I was a reporter.

He’d begun his career by getting elected mayor of his home town, Dufur. He had a dynamite slogan: “Ask not what you can do for Dufur, but what Dufur can do for you.” You know Dufur, right? Eastern Oregon ranch country. Right down the road from Wamic.

Well, old Buford served a couple terms as mayor -- it brought more business into his TV repair shop; all those people who wanted building permits okayed by the city all of a sudden had a crying need for repair of Zenith 13-inch portables -- and then got ambitious. He ran for state representative as a Republican. He won, too, and descended on Salem to do for Oregon what he had done for Dufur.

When I met him, he was chairman of the House Logrolling and Pork Barrelling Committee. I covered hearings on his bill to build a six-lane freeway from Portland to Dufur. It cleared the committee and the house, but was shot down in the Senate by a gang of metropolitan Democrats who claimed nobody in his right mind would ever leave Portland for Dufur.

Residents of Dufur (known locally as Dufuses) were impressed by Buford A. Chase’s gumption, though, and they re-elected him three times before an organization of Willamette Valley liberals called A Dozen Friends of Mud recruited a lawyer who had recently moved to Dufur from Lake Oswego to run against him. (I guess they didn’t care that he was insane.) The lawyer, whose name was Len Baumberg, took a potful of money the Mudders gave him and bought billboards all over the district showing him sharing a cigar with Bill Clinton. The billboards were such a hit, Baumberg knocked Buford right out of his House seat.

Buford disappeared for a while. Then came that telephone call saying I shouldn’t miss his press conference at the Imperial Hotel, where Eastern Oregonians traditionally stay when they wander into Portland to get lost and pickpocketed. Of course, I was the only person besides Buford who showed up.

He stewed about irresponsible journalism for a while, then went ahead with his conference.

“Today I announce,” he said from behind the podium, “that I am a candidate for President of the United States on the ticket of the Greed and Indifference Party.

“My personal agenda is the GIP’s public agenda.

“First, greed -- after the people elect me, I will do everything I can to line the pockets of Buford A. Chase with greenback dollars. I promise not to make any pretense of cutting taxes, saving money, conserving resources or any similar horse manure. I promise to be upfront about all manner of graft, influence peddling, expense-account padding and general looting of the public treasury.

“Second, last and equally important -- after the people elect me, I will be indifferent to any and all problems that pointy-headed liberals and heart-on-your sleeve conservatives claim cry out for government involvement. I pledge to offer government help to no one. You need a job? Look in the want ads. You want free food? Get down to Safeway and rifle the garbage bins out back of the produce department. You want respect for your ethnicity? Haul your butt back to Mexico or Russia or whatever cesspool you crawled out of before you wiggled under the fence into this country.

“Together, my fellow Americans, we can make this country a great place for Buford A. Chase to live, and we can do it with a minimum of government effort. I thank you for your support.”

Buford stepped away from the podium and mopped his sweaty face with a large white handkerchief. Powerful oration is draining, you know.

“Are you taking questions?” I asked.

“For my friends in the press, I always have a moment,” Buford answered, stepping back to the podium.

“Well, I’m not part of the press any more and I’m not sure we were ever friends, Buford,” I said, “but I thought you were a Republican. What is this GIP stuff?”

“Well, sir,” Buford responded, “after the Dirty Dozen -- as I call those alleged ‘friends of mud’ -- and that pinko carpetbagger Bagbalm bought my legislative seat, I returned to private life. I resumed my career as a television repairman and, in all truth, came to enjoy being away from the tumult and the shouting. However, my many supporters beat a path to Dufur and begged me to return to the fray. ‘You’ve got a message to share with the nation,’ they said. ‘With the world! Run for president and spread the word, as you did in Dufur and Salem. Government by and for Buford A. Chase, that’s what we need! Pure greed, pure indifference. None of this phony I feel-your-pain stuff. Give them the truth -- I see your pain, but I don’t give a damn as long as I’m getting my share of the loot.’

“I saw my duty, and I accepted it. That brings me here today to make this announcement.”

“But what about the Republicans?”

“Too liberal these days. Jesse Helms was the last good Republican, and he’s retiring.”

“Uh huh,” I said. “Very interesting. Who’s going to run for vice president with you?”

“Well, I’m trying to take into consideration various demographics. I have contacted Winona Ryder, because she could be very helpful in carrying the wealthy female shoplifter vote. She is considering joining my ticket as a way of satisfying her court-ordered community service requirement, assuming she doesn’t land in jail.

“I’ve also had some talks with Barry Bonds. He could speak for the rich, arrogant, me-first athlete populace. He told me he’d have to consult his political advisor, Jeff Kent, before giving me an answer.”

Since I was the only and, thus, senior sort-of correspondent present, I rose and said: “Thank you, Mr. Candidate.”

“You are quite welcome,” said Buford A. Chase. “Oh -- and remember, I have a new slogan: ‘Ask not what Buford can do for you, but what you can do for Buford.’ Catchy, huh?”

Monday, November 11, 2002

Have you ever seen a Van Gogh painting up close and personal, as it were? It’s a strange and fascinating experience.

I was reminded of this Sunday when I spent a big chunk of the afternoon surfing the web looking at paintings. (What can I say? It was a slow day for football on TV. ) I called up sample after sample of Van Gogh’s work, from “The Bedroom” to the self-portrait he painted with his head bandaged after cutting off his own ear, and from “Paul Gauguin’s Armchair” to “Wheat Field With Crows” (which some claim was the last painting he finished before killing himself). The paintings are interesting when viewed on a computer, but the web just can’t do justice to Van Gogh’s achievement. The heavily daubed paint and swirling brushtrokes of his later works aren’t visible enough. When you stand in front of a Van Gogh painting, especially one of the later ones, such as several he did of olive groves, you can actually feel the man’s emotional pain emanating from the canvas. It’s something about the seeming desperation of the heaped-on paint and the violent brushstrokes, as if he’s working very quickly because he hears death’s footsteps coming closer and closer and he wants to finish before he is yanked away.

When I was a young man, I read in Ernest Hemingway’s memoir “A Moveable Feast” of how he haunted art museums in Paris as a fledgling author in hopes of learning to write by studying how painters captured emotion. I have zero skill as a visual artist, and growing up in such places as Valdosta, Georgia, and Cottage Grove, Oregon, I never saw paintings other than Hadacol ads on the sides of barns and Burma Shave ditties on fence posts. So when I read Hemingway’s account of his museum trips, I had no idea what he was talking about. I thought he was spewing pretentious bushwah. But I ran across an Impressionist art show in Los Angeles during the 1984 Olympics, visited the Louvre and several other art museums when my wife and I vacationed in Paris in 1989 and I went back to Los Angeles about three years ago to see a Van Gogh collection on tour. Now I understand what Hemingway was saying.

Van Gogh, in particular, captured emotion on canvas. I look at one of his paintings and marvel at the torment the man endured and conveyed with paint and brush. Pain vibrates off the rippling textures of his work with a physical force, even when his subject is an iris or a mulberry tree. If I could write as he painted, I would be a fine writer indeed. It’s something to shoot for, I suppose. Maybe someday, after I die in obscurity, fat cats will pay millions of dollars for manuscripts that went unpublished in my lifetime. Then old Vincent and I will have that in common.

Sunday, November 10, 2002

So my old buddy T-Model Tommy Goodloe calls me up and says: “Did you hear the Boston Red Sox hired Bill James to work in their front office? You know Bill James, right? The computer nerd who makes a living by crunching baseball stats? Involving him in management of an actual baseball team is like hiring the guy who designed the spell-check system on your computer to be editor-in-chief of your publishing house. He’d make sure all the writers spelled their words right, but would he know a good book from a lousy one? Would he know Jack Kerouac from Jackie Susann? I doubt it.”

Baseball is one of the unhealthy interests T-Model and I share. We both spend way too much time watching, reading about and talking baseball.

“You’re just jealous, T-Model,” I say. “James is the one couch potato in history to succeed in turning his potato-ness into a career. If the Red Sox offered you a job because of the way you analyzed hits to walks ratios, you’d be hitchhiking to Boston in ten minutes.”

“Nah,” he answers. “That’s just the point. To work for an actual team, you have to deal with PEOPLE. It’s not just numbers or shooting your mouth off over a beer about bad decisions to bunt a runner to third base. That’s why I wouldn’t take a job like that, and why James shouldn’t, either. Can you imagine him counseling Nomar Garciaparra about hitting better in late-inning situations with runners at second base and two outs and his team down by one run? Garciaparra’s gonna whop him upside the head with a Louisville Slugger and say ‘crunch that, Einstein.’ ’’

“You could have a point,” I admit.

“Damn straight,” says T-Model. “You want somebody to manage a real baseball team, hire Mike Scioscia. The Dodgers won’t give him the time of day when he wants to manage, so he goes across the road to Anaheim and wins the World Series with a collection of nobodies. It’s almost enough to make me ashamed to say I’m a Dodger fan. The last time the Dodgers got within sniffing distance of a World Series was when Scioscia PLAYED in it for them in 1988.”

“Maybe you’ll have to switch allegiance to the Angels,” I say.

“Nah, I can’t do that,” T-Model answers. Those guys are so nondescript, it’d be like rooting for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. I saw Tampa Bay lose to the Yankees when I was in New York last year. It reminded me of watching the Harlem Globetrotters play the Washington Nationals, only the Nationals are more entertaining -- and have a better chance of winning.”

“Tampa Bay’s going to win now,” I say. “They hired Lou Piniella away from Seattle.”

“Yeah?” says T-Model. “Let’s see him win with Tanyon Sturtze as his number one pitcher. Steve Cox is no Ichiro Suzuki, either. If you ain’t got horses, you don’t ride.”

“Well, maybe the D-Rays will sign Greg Maddux,” I say. “He’s a free agent this winter.”

“Inside word is that Arizona is going to pay Maddux the big bucks,” T-Model says. “Can you feature that? Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling and Greg Maddux in the same pitching rotation? It’s like Little League, where there’s always that one adult manager who bends the rules to stockpile all the 6-foot, 200-pound twelve-year-olds so he can stomp the teams with normal kids.”

“Yeah,” I agree, “the Braves could look different next year. Rumor has it Tom Glavine is thinking about jumping to the Mets.”

“I saw that in USA Today,” T-Model says, “New York is after Glavine and Leo Mazzone, the pitching coach. I’m up for that -- old Leo doing his goofy rocking chair routine on the bench at Shea Stadium. Put an empty guitar case by his feet and the fans will throw coins into it like they’re in the subway.”

“Mazzone is supposed to know his stuff, though,” I observe.

“Well, at least he’s practiced it on real people,” T-Model says. “That’s more than you can say about Bill James.”

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