Caray Barves Turner 2016

Game 70 // Eighth Inning, Atlanta // The No-Hit Bat Around

TOP OF THE EIGHTH: PHILLIES 9 (5) – 3 BRAVES

 

The plate appearance statlines for the Phillies, in tonight’s 8th inning in Atlanta:

0-0, 0-1, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1, 0-1, 0-0, 0-1.

Four runs came across with that. And a lead bumped up to 9-3. They batted around (or nearly around), without a single hit. No slugging. A team average lower than it had been. But four runs. And the strangest, least skilled, most lucky, peculiar, pathetic, goofy, slow, inane big inning of the year. Continue reading “Game 70 // Eighth Inning, Atlanta // The No-Hit Bat Around”

Jake Lamb Diamondbacks Homer Scully

Game 69 // Seventh Inning, Los Angeles // A Silent Gift, for Vin Scully

Sketch by Henry Gustavson


TOP OF THE SEVENTH: DODGERS 3 – (0) 7 D-BACKS

 

Beachballs in the bleachers at Dodger Stadium. Popcorn-eaters in the front row. Palm trees. Hollywood. Vin Scully alone in a broadcast booth, talking by himself, talking to us. Assuring the world that all’s well in Dodgeralia. Calm. Composed. At home, in a park he’ll depart at season’s end. Handpicking his words, off endless branches, branches’ branches, in a deep memory he builds, maintains over many years, keeps polished like a jewel. He seems, and I quote from Ogawa Yoko’s “Transit” here, to speak words into the palms of his hands, and then present them to me one by one. Continue reading “Game 69 // Seventh Inning, Los Angeles // A Silent Gift, for Vin Scully”

Ricketts Theo Jed Maddon Cubs

Game 68 // Eighth Inning, Chicago // Release the Chapman!

TOP OF THE EIGHTH: CUBS 2 – 1 WHITE SOX

 

Oh man. Oh man oh man. This is the night, the first of many to come, when Aroldis Chapman will stride before our eyes, assuming a mantle the Chicago Cubs have never had: a closer. A dominant closer. A lights-out force of baseball nature, a Sidd Finch come to life out of April Fools’ fictions, a magician with fastballs for spells, shooting out faster than ever recorded. A piece of the paranormal. Oh man. A great steep step-up from Ohman. Oh man. Chapman. He’s here.

Wrigley Field is electric with hype. Continue reading “Game 68 // Eighth Inning, Chicago // Release the Chapman!”

Francisco Lindor Walkoff Single July

Game 67 // Ninth Inning, Cleveland // The Summer of Wahoo

TOP OF THE NINTH: NATIONALS 6 (5) – 4 INDIANS

 

The Nationals had this one won. Then they had it more won. Up one run. Up to two runs, too. Then, they had it lost, and lost it they did. A National nightmare, prolonged and Papelbonned, a team asleep with the lead, awoken with the house on fire. Someone check on Dusty Baker, he’s had a rough go of it. He got rally-monkeyed in ’02, billy-goated in ’03, chaperoned a string of heartbreaks in Cincinnati, and now he’s back—to the great-team/tough-break blues, unsure of whether the hump will finally be surmounted, waiting for October to find out. Continue reading “Game 67 // Ninth Inning, Cleveland // The Summer of Wahoo”

Anthony Rizzo jersey sketch Cubs win

Game 66 // Seventh Inning, Milwaukee // Rizzo Clears the Bases

TOP OF THE SEVENTH: CUBS 6 (1) – 4 BREWERS

 

The mountains making up the seating decks at Miller Park huddle up with the deep blue of the Great Smokies at sunrise, a monochrome grouped in uniform for the away team—a militia of smiles, armed with beers, invading with cheers and the proud feat of a fanbase that travels better than any of the greats. Marco Polo. Ibn Battuta. Ferdinand Magellan. Cubs Nation, A.D. 2016.

They swarmed Anaheim and Phoenix, sieged St. Louis and stamped a bruise on the seats of Cincinnati. Whispers from city to city, This is the year, is it not?—on a mission from god, crusading ahead in big strides, careful not to wake up the jinx. Continue reading “Game 66 // Seventh Inning, Milwaukee // Rizzo Clears the Bases”

Cardinals Dodgers Bunt Busch

Game 65 // Third Inning, St. Louis // The Dodgers’ Infield Sneak

TOP OF THE THIRD: DODGERS 4 (0) – 0 CARDINALS

 

Dave Roberts is looking out at Busch Stadium from the top step of the dugout, a Brooklyn “B” on his cap—the revived emblem of a team gone for California a quarter-century before his first birthday. The backs of their jerseys still have names, the helmets still read L.A., and the era we’re meant to revisit feels lost in the HD online stream of digital 2016ity. Cousin to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Brooklyn Dodgers of Los Angeles. Continue reading “Game 65 // Third Inning, St. Louis // The Dodgers’ Infield Sneak”

July Fenway Sox Boston Inning

Game 64 // Third Inning, Boston // Great Fenway in July

Sketch by Henry Gustavson


BOTTOM OF THE THIRD: RED SOX 8 (3) – 0 GIANTS

 

Look at Matt Cain on the mound, readying his next pitch, holding up a yellowed glove in front of his mouth like the beak of a strange orange bird. Stirrups. Elastic. Uniforms from the early ‘80s. Not the Orioles in town, but the Giants—a rare interleague trip to Fenway Park, the two teams sharing half the World Series wins this past decade, teams with no history of big-time matchups.

Look at Xander Bogaerts strolling to the plate, “Who’s been chilly with the bat,” per the Sox’ TV crew, his metal cleats digging into the dirt. Continue reading “Game 64 // Third Inning, Boston // Great Fenway in July”

Jarrod Dyson Kansas City

Game 63 // Eighth Inning, Kansas City // The Butcher Boy

BOTTOM OF THE EIGHTH: ROYALS 7 (0) – 2 INDIANS

 

Behind home plate at Kauffman Stadium are three words that I’m sure are the result of some great prank, pasted into the ad space on the backstop by a group of middle-school gigglers, paying homage to the gods of sophomoric genius:

“Steaks With Hos.”

Steaks with hoes?

If I’m reading it right, the sign is like a remixed reprinting of the centerpiece at the heart of Will Ferrell’s last great film, the takeaway theme song from Step Brothers, two 40-year-old fictional siblings aboard a stolen yacht, realizing their delayed dreams of hip-hop stardom. Continue reading “Game 63 // Eighth Inning, Kansas City // The Butcher Boy”

Padres Giants Balk

Game 62 // Tenth Inning, San Diego // Padres Balk It Off

BOTTOM OF THE TENTH PADRES 7 (5) – 6 GIANTS

 

We start tonight in the perspective of two bespectacled eyes behind home plate, peering out at the mound with all-seeing supervision, gazing with some literary quality out at the weirdest story of the major-league night. Dr. TJ Eckleburg—migrated across miles and decades, sign to sign, from fictional billboard to the rectangular ad space on the Petco Park backstop:

The eyes of the Tough Turtle Turf turtle are white and tiny—their retinas are one inch wide. They look out of no human face, but, instead, from a pair of circular white spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose. Continue reading “Game 62 // Tenth Inning, San Diego // Padres Balk It Off”

Game 61 // Ninth Inning, Cleveland // Yankees Ballet to the W

Sketch by Henry Gustavson


BOTTOM OF THE NINTH: YANKEES 5 – 4 INDIANS

 

There’s an occasional sense watching baseball, that what you’re seeing steps into another category altogether, into the absurd, the cartoonish—where sport falls behind spectacle, the score and standings go blurred out and silent, for a moment, and you’re left only with an image.

Prince Fielder belly-flopping onto the Fenway Park dirt, a beached fish some 20,000 leagues short of third base. Continue reading “Game 61 // Ninth Inning, Cleveland // Yankees Ballet to the W”

Game 60 // Fourth Inning, Houston // The Thin Yellow Line

Sketch by Henry Gustavson


BOTTOM OF THE FOURTH: ASTROS 5 (1) – 2 MARINERS

 

Taijuan Walker’s on the mound for Seattle against the Astros, wearing striped socks, high stirrups and carrying 2016’s trophy for Best Given Name That Is (or Sounds Like) a Country. In the pantheon, you’ve got the retired Chili Davis, former long-time holder of the title, and the several Jordans and Chads of current and past MLB rosters. And beyond those? You can scroll, for as many hours as you can bear, through Baseball Reference’s database and find the real heroes of the category—the overlooked, nation-named afterthoughts now enshrined in stat sheets and pixels. Continue reading “Game 60 // Fourth Inning, Houston // The Thin Yellow Line”

Game 59 // Eighth Inning, Toronto // Blue Jay Way

Sketch by Ed Chee


BOTTOM OF THE EIGHTH: BLUE JAYS 9 (6) – 9 INDIANS

 

Unbridled swagger has come home to roost in Toronto, Ontario. A municipal token of cultural pride, soon to be distributed at retail establishments: an a-side image of Drake at a Raptors game, the b-side the hybrid mullet-‘do of Josh Donaldson, pocketed and hung like medallions, in a city-wide fad—from Centre Island to Bloor Street, Oshawa to Mississauga. Continue reading “Game 59 // Eighth Inning, Toronto // Blue Jay Way”