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Soup of This Day #307: Thought Control, You Get On Board Anytime You Like

April 29, 2013

Ronald Reagan 1st pitch
President Ronald Reagan throwing out the 1st pitch at a Chicago Cubs game. The young of bears are called cubs. The young of koalas are called joeys, as are those of kangaroos – Photo: White House Photo Office, 1988. The White House Photo Office is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

It feels like it’s midnight in America.

Not metaphorically – Although when you’ve got an Elvis-impersonator sending Ricin poison to the President then it’s surely getting pretty late in the day.

No, I meant it in a more literal sense. As I look around me now, mulling over baseball games played, there are pines arching overhead, creating a cathedral of skeletal outlines, barely visible on this blank night. The moon is obscured by clouds and the glow from the campfire barely stretches to my feet. It hardly warms them too, the cold seemingly intertwined with the darkness. If it doesn’t quite feel apocalyptic then it surely could be those last few minutes before it all goes a little crazy.

Except it’s not midnight at all. And I’m not in America.

Instead it’d be 7:00pm here in Western Australia and therefore 7:00am on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. It is in truth 4:00am out west in that northern country, and a little bit closer to the witching hour, but this post is mostly based around Boston so I’ll go by New England’s Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

So it is in fact morning in America. Reagan was right, at least for the next 5 or so hours.

The campfire talk is at least accurate though, even if my initial timing wasn’t – I’m writing this via a headlamp at a campsite near Dwellingup, a forested town a couple of hours south of Perth. It’s a nice enough spot for the most part – Isolated, but for the thousand or so other campers, some of whom seem to have brought portable generators. And refrigerators.

Hotel resorts have those too people.

We happy few meanwhile have no such tech – Simple tents, camp stoves and water from the creek. There is also no mobile phone coverage and so we’re cut off from the outside world.

So no sport.

This is not good. If it really is metaphorically midnight in America, and assuming that 1 minute past midnight is pretty much the zombie apocalypse, then my final experience of baseball as we know it was this morning’s rain-affected match-up that saw the Oakland Athletics at the Boston Red Sox.

My brain will be imprinted with a game featuring 2 of my least favourite starters. At least until my brain becomes a favourite starter for a zombie that is. And maybe a main and dessert too.

Given that those pitching starters were Bartolo Colón for the visitors and Alfredo Aceves for the home team, I’m not saying that I wouldn’t welcome the undead taking out that particular lobe of memory anyway.

These 2 pitchers make my list by virtue of some suspiciously vague, yet miraculous medical procedures in the case of Colón, and an attitude that is not at all vague or miraculous for Aceves.

Ace is bat@#$% crazy in a disagreeable way.

This morning ended up being a prime example. It was not so much that he imploded control-wise – And he did that pretty comprehensively, giving up 6 runs in the 3rd and earning another 2 in the 4th, before he was pulled having given a stretched pen the kind of lead that they’d surely appreciate.

Nor was it that the Sox gave up another 5 runs in the 5th whilst not managing a single run in reply. I was similarly unfazed by the game being called in the 7th due to rain, meaning that the Sox were denied a chance to regain some of the dignity lost via that 13-run deficit.

Nope, the problem was that after the game Ace had the following comment to make:

‘Also they got hacks. Why do we not hit? Same thing. It’s just bad today.’

To clarify – I think he means that the A’s pitchers are sub-par and therefore the Red Sox bats should have taken full toll, but they didn’t, because they were bad.

To be fair to Aceves, the bats would need to bring something against the A’s, based on recent form anyway. Across the past 11 meetings between these 2 outfits the A’s have notched up 79 runs – That’s a little over 7 per outing (7.18).

Significantly that’s a bit below what Alfredo’s ERA is so far this season – 8.66 to be exact. So Ace is giving up on average almost 1.5 runs more per 9 innings than the Red Sox have conceded on average to the A’s, and for good measure he’s pissed about the lack of run support.

Something, something, glass houses and poorly controlled stones.

So Ace needs some rescuing by the bats and now that he’s publicly called them out he’ll need some rescuing from those same bats. Oakland’s rotation too might have little love for Alfredo – At the time of writing, none of those ‘hacks’ had an ERA as bad as the Red Sox man.

So this would be a test for John Farrell in his 1st year as the skipper for the Sox – He can take a lot of heart though from the fact that in the 2013 Red Sox, Aceves seems to be an outlier. This is a team in more than just name. You only have to watch them play a game or 2 to get the sense that these guys are earnestly pulling for each other and the city of Boston.

A great example occurred during the recent and very emotional Fenway return against the Kansas City Royals. It was the 1st post-marathon bombing fixture at Fenway. That milestone should have been the night before, but the extraordinary man-hunt that shut down the city had also put the series opener on hold. Now Bostonians though could breathe deep and bring back some normalcy.

For almost 8 innings though the Royals weren’t playing to that script. In the bottom half of the 8th, and with 2 outs recorded already, the Red Sox trailed 1-2 when Daniel Nava stepped up to the plate.

He took an 87mph 1 and 1 pitch and knocked it deep, just right of centre, and into the Sox bullpen, where it was caught by 38 year-old middle-reliever Koji Uehara.

Who bounced off in triumph, ball clutched in a clenched and raised fist, like a fan catching his 1st ever game ball. And his unbridled enthusiasm wasn’t unique – The dugout was up to mob Nava as he returned from his trip around the bases. It was a collective display of team spirit and togetherness. This was a group of players at 1 with their club and their city. They were Boston strong.

Aceves not so much 3 days later.

I figured I’d leave this off with another bit of Reagan campaign wisdom, like his ‘Morning in America’ spiel, from the 1984 election run-in. The transcript from this 2nd advert reads:

‘There is a bear in the woods. For some people, the bear is easy to see. Others don’t see it at all. Some people say the bear is tame. Others say it’s vicious and dangerous. Since no one can really be sure who’s right, isn’t it smart to be as strong as the bear? If there is a bear.’

We don’t have bears in Australia. Koalas are marsupials and if you call them bears to their surprisingly grumpy faces they’ll urinate all over you.

Actually they’ll pretty much do this regardless of what you call them as they really can’t understand a word you say, whereas they do understand the symbolism of relieving your bladder.

They’re not bears though.

So we don’t have bears, but we do have marsupials. Like kangaroos. Which are a large marsupial that can out-bounce even the joyful Koji Uehara. They don’t always bounce though – Sometimes they just lope along, levering forward on their great rear feet, silently. So silently that on a dark night, when the moon is obscured by clouds and the glow from the campfire barely stretches to your feet, you can have a young 1, a joey, right next to you but you don’t see it at all.

Sure, some people say the kangaroo is tame. Others say it’s vicious and dangerous. Since no one can really be sure who’s right, isn’t it smart to be tucked up safely in your sleeping bag?

Which is where I’m headed. Night all.

This post was originally written on the night of the 23rd 24th of April.

Thought Control, You Get On Board Anytime You Like

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