THE SPORTS PHILOSOPHER: “Anybody Wanna Buy A Stove?” By Brad Eastland

July 25, 2010
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      In sports, as in life, everything seems to even out in the end.

      (It doesn’t, of course.   Just seems to.)

      Take baseball.   There are bad calls by umpires in baseball all the time.   Stands to reason that the good and the bad should even out.   Although Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga probably doesn’t think so.   You may recall that a bad call by umpire Jim Joyce cost him a perfect game a few weeks ago.   Here’s my column on that particular disaster.

      Since that day when the ump screwed Galarraga over, the poor guy has had trouble getting anybody out.   They even sent him down to the minors for awhile.   Perfect games are as rare in baseball as perfect happiness is in life.   Or at least as rare as an In-‘n-Out Burger clerk with clear skin.   No, things will probably never “even out” for Armando.  

      But just last week the baseball gods did even things out a little bit, at least for my favorite team, the ever-beleaguered San Francisco Giants.

      First they got screwed.   Trailing the New York Mets 3-1 in the 9th inning of a game that looked to all long-suffering Giants fans to be both familiar and hopeless, they rallied to tie the score on a clutch 2-run single by pinch-hitter Travis Ishikawa, and appeared to then win it when Ishikawa slid safely into home a couple minutes later….except that umpire Phil Cuzzi called him out.   I was stunned.   It was an astoundingly bad call, even as bad calls by brain-damaged nearsighted umpires go.   The throw to the plate was very high (which should have been Cuzzi’s first clue as to the eventual outcome of the play), Mets back-up catcher Henry Blanco had to jump up like an armored kangaroo just to catch the damn ball, and when he came down with the tag Ishikawa had already clearly and cleanly cleaned off the plate with his cleat.   But Cuzzi called him out anyway.   No one knows why.   Even the grinning Blanco admitted it, effectively mocking the umpire’s gross mediocrity by stating, “Yeah, he was safe all the way.   Good for us!”   Sheesh.   Why is baseball always so much less fair than even life itself is?   You’d think I would be used to it by now.   But I was forced to practice my swearing anyway….

       (It’s tough being a Giants fan.   It’s sort of like getting a speeding ticket every damn day of your life and then complaining about it until you are finally arrested and thrown in the can with all the overnight drunks who then happily sodomize you every damn night until you quite mercifully and happily die. )

      But then wonder of wonders, a couple nights later against the hated Dodgers, the baseball gods and the umpires conspired together to make it up to the Giants.   It was one of those really terrific Dodger/Giant games, an epic, with twists and turns and memorable occurrences that—as the old saying goes—never happened before quite like they happened in this particular game.   Giants ace Tim Lincecum had an off night.   The Dodgers were pounding him all over the ballpark.   He even had one pitch slip out of his hand so comically that it went thirty feet straight up before landing like a poached egg right in front of the pitcher’s mound.   It was the worst game he’d pitched all year.   So Tim eventually did what any self-respecting pitcher having an off night would do; he commenced throwing high and tight to a couple of batters before finally saying what-the-hell and happily plunking Matt Kemp in the ribs.   Both benches were warned.   This didn’t stop Dodgers hurler Clayton Kershaw from retaliating, by hitting Aaron Rowand with his own 90-mph heater, which compelled the umps to throw both Kershaw and Dodgers manager Joe Torre out of the game.   Finally, in the 9th, the Dodgers were clinging to a desperate 5-4 lead, and so they called upon their 305-pound closer, the ox-like Jonathan Broxton (Y’see?   The word “ox” is even shoe-horned right into the middle of his name!), to try to get out of a one-out, based-loaded jam.

      Here’s where it got interesting.   Don Mattingly, subbing for the banished Torre as interim manager, paid a visit to the mound to confer with Broxton and his whole infield to discuss strategy.   When he left the mound, Dodger first-baseman James Loney called out a question to Mattingly, who, having taken two innocent little steps off the pitcher’s mound, went back to answer Loney’s question.   Giants manager Bruce Bochy saw this, and immediately went to the umpires to protest, saying that Mattingly’s stepping back onto the mound constituted a 2nd trip to the mound that inning, requiring that the pitcher, in this case the brilliant Broxton, be removed.   The umps agreed.   Broxton was ordered off the field, some tomato can of a pitcher took his place, the Giants batters, well, battered him, smacked him around like bullies pounding a pasty-faced 97-pound weakling wearing Bermuda shorts at the beach into the sand, and before you knew it they had rallied for three runs and an improbable 7-5 victory.   I loved it.   It’s why we watch baseball, to create sweet memories of victory like this one.

      But it turns out the umps got it wrong.   Yes, Mattingly had erred in stepping back onto the mound, but by rule Broxton should have been required to pitch to one batter and then removed.   Which might have changed the game in the Dodgers’ favor.   But in this the worst year for umpires in recent memory, they had no idea what the rules were and so they blew it.

      As the ballad goes, ‘Where have all the umpires gone?’   Long time passing….

      Anyway, some dumb umps gave the Giants back the game some other dumb umps had cost them earlier in the week.   Everything evens out.   To paraphrase the sarcastic Henry Blanco, good for us.

      I mention all this because I myself experienced a little such payback and “evening out” recently.   As many of you know, I recently went through a divorce.   Now I realize that divorce is accepted and commonplace, and as divorces go ours wasn’t so bad, except that of course we had to sell the house.   That was bad.   Because my house (which I’d already moved out of, of course) wasn’t any ordinary house.   It was a dream house.   Truly one in a million.   A storybook yellow, turn-of-the-century Queen Anne Victorian-Era Cottage that when you first see it it takes your breath away.   Check out the picture below and see if you agree:

     image0015I hated moving out of that house, hated having to sell it, and hated having to walk away from something so special.   Like any divorced guy, I tended to blame my ex-spouse.   That’s human nature.   But something happened last week that evened up the score a little bit.   My ex and I had a little—shall we say—dispute, over who would get the stove.   This was not an ordinary stove, mind you: it’s a beautiful 1950 antique O’Keefe & Merritt stove, a relic every bit as unique and charming as the house itself.   It had been a gift from a very good friend of mine, whose mom used to make breakfast for us on that same storied stove way back before we were even teenagers, over 20 years before I even met my ex.   So naturally I figured my claim on the stove was the stronger.   But she, naturally, had her own point of view on the matter, with her own laundry list of emotional ties to the stove designed to bolster her own flimsy case. 



      I won’t bore you with the details, other than to say that after weeks of tension, negotiation, incredulity, arguing and angst, I wound up getting the stove.   Hooray!   Another sweet memory of victory, just like the Mattingly/Broxton game.

     So did things finally even out for me?   Well, maybe not.   A stove, after all, is not a house.   But as a symbol—a living metaphor for self-respect, if you will—getting that stove meant a lot to me.   It’s hard to explain.

      But here’s the problem:

      Be careful what you wish for.   You just may get it.

      In other words, all of this brings me to the salient point of this column, which I now present to you all in the form of a question: Anybody wanna buy a stove???  

      Anybody?   Seriously.

meet….The Sports Philosopher!image0023

Brad Eastland is an author, historian, sports nut, undiscovered fictioneer, and sentimental old fool— in no particular order.   Brad’s other recent columns for LaVerneOnline can be found in Sports under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’.    Brad has also written 4 novels and over 20 short-stories.    Samples of his best fiction work can be discovered within the fascinating links below:






One Response to “THE SPORTS PHILOSOPHER: “Anybody Wanna Buy A Stove?” By Brad Eastland”

  1. Well put! Poor you. Ah well…………….


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