Saturday, July 28, 2012

midsummer night's clams

Another cool, overcast morning today--like 90% of the mornings here.  Oh well, it’s the weather in this part of the country. What am I going to do, have a protest and sing Woody Guthrie songs?  

Last night we made a fine dinner--steamed clams in a broth with pernod, garlic, and lemon zest, and fennel and chard grilled with lemon chicken sausages.  We also grilled bread from Pasta Works in Portland, and had the rest of a nice white wine from the Provisions wine club--I forget what it was, but it was French, it was from the Loire Valley, I think, and it tasted like apples and sunshine.     

Then we watched the zany Olympic opening festival--spectacular at first and then a little tedious.  Kind of a sustained epileptic seizure of the culture of overstimulation. One thing that blew me away: The Jam was not just chucked into a pop music pastiche--they were prominently featured.  “Down In The Tubestation at Midnight” blaring at 2 billion viewers--surely a victory for quality rock and roll.  An hour of the parade of nations gave way to an episode of Game of Thrones

I plan on watching more of the Olympics this year--maybe it was the excitement of having the Trials in town again this summer, or maybe it is that my favorite baseball team is again a total bust this year, sixteen games under .500 with no shot at the postseason or even “respectability.” When half of your starting pitching staff goes under the knife, and the pitcher for whom you traded the NL all-star game MVP is a neurotic bust...well, it is going to be a long couple of months dragging ass to the end of this season, at least with the expectations I had at the beginning.      

I'm thankful I get to see Billy Butler hit, and Alcides Escobar field, on a regular basis.  And with starting pitching that rarely gets past the fifth inning, we enjoy a parade of smoke-throwing relievers who sometimes keep us in the game long enough to catch up.  Plus Louis Coleman, throwing side-arm, angly off-speed junk, bouncing between KC and Omaha like a yo yo.  I like to imagine he has his real estate license, like Paul Splittorff did, and writes poetry, like Quisenberry did, and takes none of it for granted, like all of us should.  


I’ve hit the surrender point, again: to remain a baseball fan, I have to be a fan of all of baseball, not just my team.  I bleed blue but if I don’t admire the season Trout is having, or Cabrera, or R.A. Dickey, then I’m missing out.  As adults we have to be citizens of the globe, with international sympathies.  And as adult baseball fans we can’t throw in the towel because our team is mired in its third decade of bad luck, bad ownership, and crap-ass losing baseball.  So what if I own one of the only Royals sweatshirts on the entire West Coast, and I want to leave it in one of the bike underpasses for an alcoholic mendicant to wear? You have to “eat bitter” as they say in eastern spirituality, greet each small precious victory and each crappy start with equinimity and kindness. And if the team moves to Sacramento or Oklahoma City, maybe that will be good for it.  The Glass ownership group can invest in things that are more their speed, like Big Lots and The Dollar Store.

At the end of every three or five year cycle, we’re just a talent mill for teams with money.  That doesn’t make the players who get to play for teams with money any less interesting or fun.  They just don’t wear the uniform that I like, they don’t live in the city I grew up near, they don’t eat at the restaurants I like to eat at when I go there.  It’s arbitrary, right? Some piping on a sleeve, the color of the bill of a cap, and a few hundred million dollars more or less to procure quality left-handed pitching.  

My nephew Henry loves the Nationals; they’re his team; that kind of makes them my team too.  My father, who cared about the Royals about as much as he did the Kansas City Symphony, is now a Cardinals fan.  He has more time to be a Cardinals fan but cares about them about as much as The St. Louis Symphony.  It’s the national pastime.  It connects us to our nation.  That’s what I’m telling myself, watching Guthrie give up a three-run homer in the bottom of the first.  He’s the guy we traded Sanchez for.  His two starts have been just as bad as Sanchez’ starts.  It was a fair trade.   

And finally, my nephew Jay, a lifelong Cardinals fan, has pledged to throw some support to Kansas City.  His favorite AL team has always been the A's.  I was touched by this, and warned him he might need anti-depressants and a copy of Alan Watts' The Wisdom of Insecurity.  How can I not take an interest in what's going well in St. Louis?  At least it is close to Kansas City, and close to people I care about.
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