They had warned him. Had they warned him? They had said it would be different from what he had known. But until this day, this moment, as Doug Fister stood before the first post-practice spread of the spring, he had not known what they meant. The plastic tablecloth – honestly, probably a shower curtain – had seen better days, but the faded seashells of this rickety altar were lost beneath the starkness of the paper plates and their meager offerings. Uneven slices of bread, stale like marriage, were left in stacks without ceremony. There was a plate of bologna. And a second plate of bologna. All of it was the deep pink of a colonoscopy. Tepid lettuce of no earthly green sagged in a pile – leaves of species unknown, that even the rodents that dwelt amongst the discarded furniture that littered the bullpen would reject. Where was the fresh fruit? Where were the fancy sausages and exotic cheeses? Cheese product, still in the wrapper and orange as his uniform, was presented in such scarcity as to suggest decoration more than consumption.
When one has tasked oneself with the production of original content, the mind can become a contentious place, finding contentment only upon arriving at a new idea that rings distinct to one’s own self. Such an idea that may have been produced by, say, a cat, like “meow” or “purr”, or elseways a robot, like “beep” or maybe “boop”, fails to stroke our need for connection and stimulation through the record of complex, creative thought. Likewise, a human-signed idea that fulfills the previous criteria, once conceived, can bedevil the writer who did not conceive it first. It is in this position I find myself, caught with figurative and literal pants down in a close-but-cigarless attempt to bring holiday cheer to the reader who, like myself, is deprived of yuletide festivities; for alas, my gift to you, Ryan Braunukkah, has been signed, sealed, delivered already:
— Fresh Brewed Tees (@FreshBrewedTees) December 8, 2015
However, lacking the novelty of the thing itself, please accept in its stead 8 Days of Braunukkah: 8 gifts Ryan Braun might give to other MLB players if he behaved like a character representation of himself written by me.
Day 1: A falcon for Chris Davis. While on suspension, Ryan found that anything at all reminiscent of baseball left a bad taste in his mouth. Something that could not be more different is what he sought to occupy his time. Through circumstances unexpected, remarkable, and too long to elucidate here, he happened upon the practice of falconry. The kinship it produces with animal so grand and beautiful, so emblematic of the determined nature that defines a professional athlete at the highest level, was something Braun had never experienced before. It excited him thinking about it, even removed from the open fields and the hunt as he was when considering the purchase.
In Chris Davis he saw some of himself. Davis had also been suspended for a drug violation, and in particular, a drug that suggested it was the slow burn of the season that he needed help with. After Adam Lind was traded, Ryan, who usually doesn’t pay too much attention to roster construction, was unusually concerned that first base would turn back into the black hole it was during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. First base is supposed to be a position of strength on the team, and he saw Davis as the perfect man to fill the role, and he had the perfect idea of the gift to get Davis excited and energized for the upcoming season. Any persuasive effect the gift had on Davis’ choice of team was purely incidental, perhaps. Continue reading
November 30 – Offseason continues to bore me. Finished Theologico-Political Treatise. Now I must move on to the lesser works of Spinoza.
December 2 – Long phone chat with Noam Chomsky. Asked him about Wittgenstein’s beliefs on the relationship between physical and metaphysical. We confided in each other our doubts as to the existence of the universe. Brief chat on the centennial of relativity theory. He asked what spray-tan I use.
December 3 – Saw New York Philharmonic orchestra play Giacinto Scelsi, Boulez’s …explosante-fixe…, and Mahler’s Das klagende Lied. Met Boulez afterwards. Tried to give him a bro hug but the French don’t do bro hugs.
December 5 – Some days I curl up in bed all day, watching reruns of The Bachelorette and wishing I could have met Jacques Derrida. He was born before his time, or was I born too late for mine? Today was especially bad. Had my agent create a picture of me with Derrida. Helps the fantasy. Continue reading
Ed. note: Owing to an inordinate number of early-season injuries, one big-league club recently needed to dig deep – very deep — into its farm system to call up an available player. What follows is that player’s diary entry regarding the experience.
So my skipper calls me in and he says, “Listen, kid, you’re goin’ up to the big club.”
And I says, I says, “Aw, c’mon, Skip, dry up! That’s phonus balonus! I’m just an old Double-A palooka, and you’re telling me I’m puttin’ on the Ritz?”
And he says, he says, “I’m not takin’ you for a ride here, Patsy!”
That’s my name, by the way: Patsy. Yeah, I know it sounds like a dame’s name, be she a Sheba or a Mrs. Grundy or a moll, but on the level here, that’s my name. Patsy.
So I says, I says, “Gee, Skip, that’s swell! It’s also the cat’s pajamas!”
And Skip says, he says, “I agree, kid! It’s the berries!”
And I says, “And how!”
And he says, “Now, I don’t know from nothin’ about life on the big club, see. I’m just an old palooka myself. But all I can tell ya is this, kid: Don’t take any wooden nickels.”
So I says, “I won’t, Skip. Everything is gonna be Jake!”
And he says, “That’s what you say now, Patsy, but when you got all that big-league jack in the pocket of your glad rags, you’re gonna hit them juice joints full of flappers and gold diggers, see, and you’re gonna wanna get in the ol’ struggle buggy and start necking with them dolls, and before you know it, one of their ol’ dappers is gonna come out and bump you off. You gotta be careful out there, Patsy. I don’t want you in them gin joints full of bearcats and bad hooch. I want you hittin’ on all sixes, see?”
And I says, I says, “I ain’t no flat tire, Skip. I do see!”
And he says, he says, “Now you’re on the trolley!”
I want to add here that I ain’t no piker. I might be a palooka, sure, but I ain’t no piker. So I take a jitney up to the big club like I’m some fly boy, see, some swanky sheik with all the mazuma, but I guess it don’t matter to the fellas if I look like a big egg.
No, it don’t matter at all. The minute I walk in, they hand me a pink backpack.
And I says, I says, “What’s this, fellas?”
And they says, they says, “It’s a pink backpack, rook. What the hell does it look like? Now put it on.”
And I says, “Aw, fellas, that’s applesauce!”
And they says, they says, “What?”
And I says, “It’s horsefeathers, fellas. Horsefeathers!”
So they just look at me like I’m on giggle water, like I’m zozzled on the jorum of skee. So I says, I says, “Look, fellas, gettin’ called up to the big club is a real sockdollager for me, see, and I don’t understand no need to wear a pink backpack like I’m some kind of Dumb Dora. I don’t mean to be wurp here, fellas, but this is bushwa!”
And they says, they says, “Bush what?”
And I says, I says, “Bushwa, fellas. Bushwa! I ain’t no dewdropper, men. I’m here to play ball like anybody else, and play hard, but I ain’t takin’ any wooden nickels here!”
And they says, “This isn’t a wooden fucking nickel. It’s a pink fucking backpack.”
And I says, I says, “Tell it to Sweeney!”
And they says, they says, “Tell it to who?”