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Some sportswriter called my mom and I have done nothing since

On GamerGate, Art, and Anger

Social media has been buzzing for the past week or so, inundated under a stream of pure bile being spilled under the GamerGate hashtag. In case you missed it, it’s the true 21st century love story of boy meets game developer girl, girl cheats on boy with games journalist, boy vents frustrations  on girl extremely inappropriately and painfully publically, girl receives threats of physical and sexual violence, and we’re now in the realm of anger and frustration about the state of games journalism and the place of social justice in gaming. It’s an intense and overall frustrating battle between those interested in social justice, those interested in removing impropriety from the state of games journalism, and a third group who are more interested in trolling and vitriol than positively contributing.

The second group claims that that the third does not represent them in a meaningful way. However, the defense of “these are the actions of a few bad apples” ignores the conclusion of the phrase “spoils the bunch.”

For whatever reason, gamers are an oversensitive bunch about the wrong things. Years ago, famous film critic Roger Ebert made the blanket statement, right or wrong, that video games aren’t (and can never be) art. Despite the fact that Ebert has been dead for over a year now, this chicken is still being plucked because for whatever reason gamers seem to be somewhat desperate for validation. I understand why – I used to be a gamer in my teenaged years so I understand what it feels like to want mainstream acceptance for  a hobby I loved so much. But things are different now – games are indelibly a part of the cultural zeitgeist; it is a multi billion dollar industry equally as valuable as film and television and other mediums that have reached an artistic threshold of value. Millions watch youtube videos of people playing video games. Twitch, an online streaming service catering to gamers, just got bought for over a billion dollars.

To dismiss gaming as anything but a part of our society and unworthy of critique is absurd.

However, going back to my original point about gamers being angry about the wrong things – this is exactly what they want. To be critiqued by an outside group, those who aren’t a part of these communities, the “social justice warriors”, the feminists, those on the outside looking in and exposing problematic themes and issues within the community and games as a whole, is a part of mainstream cultural acceptance as more than simply a hobby.

My educational background is in film and philosophy so I love to ponder and watch moving pictures but I especially seem to hate money. Film and gaming are honestly very similar, with the quality of the acting and writing and graphics the only major difference at times seems to be that the player gets to control the action on the screen. What is lost, however, is that video games as a serious medium is still in its infancy – if Atari was Thomas Edison and Mario and Luigi were the Lumiere brothers, then perhaps the parallel we have to make between film and games and the evolution of the medium is DW Griffith.

Born in 1875, DW Griffith was a famous film director perhaps best known for his landmark silent film Birth of a Nation. It was a groundbreaking film in the sense of it being one of the first films to actually tell a cohesive narrative in feature-length. It is a remarkable spectacle and I highly recommend tracking it down, but the movie itself was not without controversy. It was a deeply racist film, portraying African Americans as animals, unionists and anti-slavery advocates on the wrong side of history, and advocated the need for the Klu Klux Klan and overall was a pro-slavery film. In today’s society, the best way to describe Birth of a Nation is problematic. It was boycotted and highly controversial still to this day, however, it is still an important lesson in the history of film.

Birth of a Nation was the first time where outside societal critique of the medium became mainstream thereby legitimizing it as a form of expression beyond simply pure visceral excitement.

In a similar way, video games are beginning to head down that path. With GamerGate, there is, in a roundabout way, a serious sociological look into gaming beyond simply it being a game. There is a discussion, an analysis, a critique into the very nature of the medium itself and how it is reported and disseminated by the public and to be honest this is not a bad thing. If this medium wants to be taken seriously it needs to be analyzed beyond the scope of it just being a game to play.

Here-in lies the contradiction. Gamers are angry that there is an outside look into their world. That social justice and feminism have no place in gaming. How can that possibly be the case? If video games can’t stand up to the vigorous critique of those outside of the community, those looking objectively within what is quickly becoming an echo chamber of angry gamers, how can the medium possibly grow in any meaningful way?

Art evokes emotion, both strongly and negatively. Everything inherently in art has some sort of meaning or it stands for something. This is a part of storytelling; it is metaphor, saying one thing while meaning another. If games can’t do this, if they can’t be analyzed in a way that questions the very foundation of the medium, then what is the point of even trying? If gamers want critics out of gaming then the very form itself is not worth discussing or improving.

My three favorite games are Grim Fandango, Half-Life, and Grand Theft Auto Vice City. These are considered by many to be seminal works in the oeuvre of gaming. But Grim Fandango is a retelling of Casablanca in a world based on the Day of the Dead. Half-Life is a decent science fiction story but one in which the protagonist adds absolutely nothing to the story other than fixing everything for reasons. And Vice City, as the rest of the Grand Theft Auto series, is a mish mash of pop culture satire told through tales already written in Scarface and other gangland movies.

If gamers want video games to be taken seriously as an art, they have to mean something beyond gameplay and graphics. They have to contribute to society in a way other than being a game or a distraction. If you can’t critique the state of games under a microscope of differing opinions, than video games are nothing more than high tech board games. Would we consider Monopoly to be “art”? Probably not. All because something looks good doesn’t mean anything if there’s no soul behind it.

Inherently, this is the issue with GamerGate. If the medium wants to be taken seriously, those who want it to be have to understand that not everyone will agree with your personal opinions. That’s completely fine. But to threaten physical and sexual violence because there is dissention is not a way to be taken seriously. The line between hatred and trolling is tact and it’s clear that the majority of these people lack that.

If you want to prove Ebert and others wrong, act in a way that proves that gaming is a worthwhile endeavor worthy of analysis. If you can’t do that, then you have proven all those who doubt the validity of your medium absolutely correct. 

Depression

Let’s chat about mental illness. Not the typical Hollywoodification of the mentally ill, nothing of that sort. Let’s talk about the real mental illness that eats away at the very soul of human beings. The monster inside that can’t be controlled, that can’t be kept at bay — the one that constantly gnaws away and is a grindstone whittling down to a broken stump. Making human beings not unique beautiful creatures but fleshy bags that would just as soon embrace nothingness before beauty.

After Robin Williams’ suicide, I had a whirlwind of emotion about such a wonderful and brilliant comic, a man I had never met but was most certainly a part of my life. I knew that he had his demons — he spoke very openly about them — but I always felt that comedy was the key to keep them at bay. But once one perceives that the coping mechanism no longer works, it seems to be very easy to give into the darkness.

Humor is such an interesting beast. The more jokes I make, the more detached from the pain I become. I am depressed. I have suffered from depression for as long as I can remember. And the only way I can cope is with humor. Detachment and humor is the easiest mechanism to cope with sadness and while there’s nothing wrong with that, I wonder if that is the refuge of the exhausted or if it actually does help.

There is something to be said about bringing joy to others. Legitimate joy, as in making someone laugh so hard they cry. In a way, that crying is cathartic. If I can’t cry myself and let that out, making other people cry laughing is a release. 

I’ve done some pretty horrible things to myself recently that I don’t really can get into. I know what triggered it — my car was ran off the road on the Garden State Parkway and I lost control, crashing into the woods. My car ended up okay with a big old dent in the bumper, and while I was physically fine, something wasn’t quite right. As the car was spiraling out of control (a great metaphor! I should write that down and use it for a story or something) I felt absolutely nothing. In that moment, I was okay with dying. And it scared the ever living hell out of me when I realized that. 

At the same time, though, it woke me up. Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom before making your way back to the top. At the very least, you get too exhausted to continue digging.

That’s where I’m at. 

I was told once that humor is a way for people to be loved without actually being loved. In other words, it is an attempt to gain hollow acceptance with your peers rather than forming real bonds. I do not feel that this is true, but I can see where that opinion could be formed. For all the wonderful people who suffer from depression who are also funny and cannot see the goodness in themselves, perhaps there is something to that. Like the class clown in school, always making people laugh but also always getting in trouble. 

I like to think when I’m really depressed that I’m playing life on a higher difficulty level. That the game is harder for me and all the other people who suffer from depression and that makes us stronger. For all of our relationships that have suffered and opportunities that we have missed because of our disease we still truck on and survive. There is an honorable strength to that, a sort of meaning despite feeling meaningless and passed by.

A lot of people I know posted on social media after Robin Williams’ suicide that if you are feeling sad or depressed to get help. But why does the discussion have to happen only upon viewing tragedy? If you see someone suffering or dealing with internal anguish, why don’t you tell them to get help out of legitimate concern for the person rather than platitudes after the fact? 

But that’s fine. Many will never be able to understand what it’s like. And that’s okay too. Because everyone has their own battles and struggles and in the end the only thing that matters is that we end up getting through it. 

the journeyman and the bottle

two poems.

for fifteen years he went up and down
the journeyman reliever
a frequent flyer and rider
on buses and in planes
traveling across the vast American plains.
number 58, 25th on the depth chart
lefty, lanky, an elder statesman
he was never truly good
but he stuck around, tried as hard as he might
never won a ring but still was here
which to him, might as well have been a ring
as he threw in a tin of Cope
he reminisced upon his career
viewing each and every strikeout
from low A to here
his delivery like a whip
with a fastball that didn’t crack
a slider that slid which is all I can say about that
as he sat in the pen
spewing little brown streams of hate
he looked back
reminisced
which is all a journeyman reliever could do
he remembered his love
not of the game but of a woman
the one with the late autumn hair
but the distance one travels
could not make up for the distance
that two former lovers feel
why would anyone love a veteran journeyman reliever
when there are so many other all stars and superstars
out there in the world
as his name gets called to start warming up
it’s time to mop up the mess
so the reliever grabbed his glove and started hurling
getting ready to perhaps not save the day
but at the very least stop the bleeding
and as he ran to that mound
his favorite song fills the atmosphere
he remembered at once of those days
as a kid
long tossing with his old man
never imagining that one day his left arm would bring him here
the first batter steps in he’s ready to go
and the journeyman winds up
as he releases that first pitch he let’s go
a pop, a stab, a knife in the arm
at once he knew he was done
the trainer came out and examined his arm
the witch doctor saw his pain
and the reliever knew that tommy john was soon going to call his name
as he walked off the field one final time
there was a small sense of relief
he would be back, he knew that
maybe as a coach or
as a dad bringing his son
to a ball game
maybe he could have more success
but as the reliever went into the clubhouse
he knew that the journey was done

i went into the bottle
and i said
it’s comfortable
in here
it’s warm
and it’s cozy
finally I belong
somewhere
slowly i broke in
rap tap tap
the things that
one person who
can’t control
anything
but inside i sit
a genie inside
the lap which will never
be rubbed
by anyone
because i don’t want them to
maybe it was the blue
angel that was
sent to me
who I thew away
maybe it was
the first one
who i carelessly stole
maybe it was you
but who knows
you may say
please come out
there is happiness
somewhere in the world
that you
can experience
maybe
not with me
you say
but with someone
else
one day
if you work
hard enough
and
try hard enough
to see it
but i have
never seen it
or believed it
enough
to be
or be willing
to sell
this amber home
which has claimed me
to be nothing but
most importantly
feel nothing
at all

In less than a week, I will be turning 27 years of age. With this turning of the clock, it signifies my mid twenties gone, the good times never to return; I am closer to my 30s than my roaring and uncaring college years. To my 22 year old post graduate self, I am now the old creepy guy at the bar. I am by no means an old man – 27 hopefully isn’t even half as long as I will live – but I have lived hard so I hope that my insight, while insignificant and generally rambling, will be of some use to someone.

Throughout my life, there have been two topics I have refused to discuss in public. Politics and religion. I allow others to speak to me about them – to be honest, it’s nearly impossible to avoid it in any public gathering – but I will not divulge the way I feel about them. I have lived in bliss this way. With seething anger on the inside as someone explains to me the value of trickledown economics, I would swallow my pride and calm the beast inside me who wanted to strangle the very throat that was espousing the words directly off the pages of Atlas Shrugged.

I have always been frustrated, angry, disappointed even, whenever a close friend of mine would begin to talk to me about their far right leaning attitudes. I used to be a conservative, way back in high school, borderline naïve at a small all-boys Catholic preparatory school. Hell, my mom regales me with a tale of when I was small child, I asked her to buy me a small stuff animal and she refused. I started ranting about Clinton’s taxes and how unfair it was that a young rotten child like me couldn’t get exactly what he wanted. My dad, at the time a staunch conservative, was blamed for this. “Genetics…” my mother would mutter under her breath as she dragged me out of the toy store.

As I have gotten older, however, I have seen what far right conservative attitudes have brought us. It’s not very far. And it’s terrifying to see how so many have been brainwashed by those with the power to do so and have bought into the narrative.

We live in strange times. Every generation says this but at this point I firmly believe it. We’re advancing further and further both scientifically and technologically to a point that had previously only been imagined in fiction. We will live longer than any other generation on earth. We will, in theory, be healthier and will have the ability to (but sadly, probably not the access to) have treatments for ailments that would have ended our lives just a few short decades ago before I was born. At the same time, we live in a society that, despite all the advancements, has regressed to a point not seen since Upton Sinclair.

Unemployment is down, but part time employment has skyrocketed. 40 hours plus with no benefits, no future, no pension, no real ability to save. Almost every person I know, myself included, is trapped within this area. But we’re all scared. I may not implicitly state when talking to people in general “I am terrified for my future” but goddamn it I am absolutely terrified. I have no student loans mind you, imagine what someone with actual legitimate oh-fuck-I-have-to-hand-over-one-hundred-and-fifty-thousand-goddamn-dollars issues has to deal with on a daily basis. We are derided and mocked for still living with our substantially more successful parents in my generation yet there is very little way to escape the nest without good luck or extreme poverty. In the eyes of the right, this is what we should be — slaves to the free market. Unable to think or breathe or act as independent individual human beings, instead drones to capitalism paying our dues to the God of the Dollar so that we too can have a little bourgeois family and a four door bourgeois sedan and a little bourgeois white picket fence. We’ve been told that we should just be happy for work in general and not complain – take what you’ve been given. So we do. We deal with it and we survive.

This allows the corporations to increase their bottom line – look we’re hiring! But the positions are now part time. The recovery is a fraud. Once a worker outlives his usefulness as a part timer and eventually makes too much hourly he will be let go and replaced by someone younger, less experienced, but equally hungry and willing to learn and after a little bit of training will be substandard to the original employee but close enough that no one will notice any more than a slight drop off in quality. Meanwhile, the right has shoveled the bullshit down our throats that if we simply work hard enough and prove their worth, they will succeed. Straight out of the playbook of Rand. We’re living in John Galt’s wet dream and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it. They’ve sold us the idea that we’re all just one or two breaks away from making it big and that by rocking the boat we’ll ruin our chance at winning that lottery so don’t upset the status quo.

We’ve been taught that the only way to make money in this world is to do something practical. STEM. Be unable to critically think as an individual or a human being and instead only be able to look at the bare bones bottom line of just about everything. What good is critical thinking outside of abstract mathematics? If you can’t provide anything of real value to the world via your degree you are worthless. What value is that? What are we teaching everyone where this is okay? That someone is sub-human for entertaining the thought of becoming a part of the humanities? Because people literally cannot think for themselves without appealing to the authority of Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or some other dingus who is only famous because they can talk louder than other people?

I’m angry. And I’m scared. And there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.

Perhaps most despicable of all, the right has co-opted religion as their excuse for this control. They are using religion to push their regressive agendas to keep the rich in power and numb the general masses from the fear that they are feeling every day. The evangelicals promising damnation for all those who do not follow the strict path that a thousands upon thousands of year old book set forth for our culture. It is humorous to me that conservatives appeal to the authority of ancient thinkers like those who wrote the bible and our country’s forefathers when they had no concept of what society would become, no understanding of the scientific majesty of the cosmos – these people didn’t even know what a fucking germ was for Christssakes – but yet these are the people we should turn to for our understanding of the universe and how we should treat others.

I’m a fan of God, don’t get me wrong. I was born Catholic and survived almost 20 years of Catholic education. I am also now an atheist. But I am willing to admit, that if I am wrong, and God does exist, I will accept the punishment of whatever non-believing will bring me. But I can be a good person without the existence of God. The Bible exists as a foundation to tell us how to act as human beings. It is nothing more than a social contract so we don’t kill each other (which, shocks of shocks, we do anyway). As Galileo said, “The Bible is a book that tells us how to go to heaven, not the way the heavens move.” In other words, learn your ethics from Jesus but don’t believe that some dingus built a giant boat and then saved two of every animal you fucking moron.

But yet we’re too interested in picking and choosing based on our own agendas than believing the whole of what the Bible tells us. Gay people are bad, the Old Testament says so. Well guess what, the Old Testament has some choice things to say about women on their period too. Or that you shouldn’t eat pork or shellfish. Or that you shouldn’t even have a single sexual thought for a women unless you’re married and if you are married and think someone else is sexy hoo doggy man are you screwed. The framers of the Bible didn’t understand human nature because they were closer to goddamn Neanderthals than human normal contemporary human society. This was not a brain trust here.

And yet, somehow, the right wants us to believe a book rather than science. And people fall for it. People believe that the earth was legitimately built in 7 days. I’m not trying to disparage anyone’s personal beliefs here but in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, to sit there and go “This isn’t true I don’t care” I hate to say it but you aren’t noble, you’re just ignorant. This is where conservatives really get me. In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary of nearly all of their beliefs, they can sit there and go “Well I have the right to say that.” You don’t. I can’t look at the sky and go “Guess what guys, the sky is green.” No Andy the sky is blue. “I don’t care, that’s my beliefs.” Are you kidding me? How absurd is this?

The left isn’t free of blame either. Where are the balls on the left? Why isn’t there a single person who stands up and calls these people out on their ignorant and wrong opinions? What are we so afraid of that no one can stand up for themselves? I see suffering every day working in Manhattan. I have watched homeless people die right in front of me. But yet we can’t have social programs because some people can abuse them. We should “drug test people on welfare.” This is really great stuff. If we judged people based on gaming the system, what about all the rich people who ship all their money overseas to avoid paying taxes. Where’s the anger about that? We can only use gaming the system to dog whistle? We can’t use it to expose the fraud that these other people pull?

Why doesn’t anyone stand up and say this is not the way the world should work? Why is there no voice that is there that tells the right that acting like a victim does not mean that you are a victim?

The left’s reform voice is suddenly Occupy Wall Street, which is either trolling us with Justine Tunney or doing absolutely nothing. Instead, we have trolls like Tunney telling us that unions are evil? That technology is the future for the value of society? It’s the same hidden bullshit that the right feeds us about work and worth. Tech workers are wage slaves just like the part time workers are – all because you get fed Fillet Mignon at lunch and get personal shuttles and nap rooms don’t make you any more of a wage slave than the rest of us.

Obama offered us change and nothing changed. And the right hates him for even trying. What do we do with an entire political movement not based anywhere in reality?

To which I ask: why isn’t anyone else fed up with this? How are none of us not mad as hell? How do we take this anymore?

Drunken Prospectus: DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus

I headed out to the Bottle King liquor store by my house today after returning from my former home of Scranton, PA, in search of something strange and delicious. After a night of getting faded with one of my best friends and previous star of an earlier Drunken Prospectus Random John, slinging bottle after bottle of Southern Tier Creme Brûlée at impossibly low Northeastern Pennsylvania prices, and drunk texting my entire phone book how much I loved them, I needed a second round. Upon entering the craft beer section, the angels trumpets themselves sounded from the heaven as apparently today was delivery day and the shelves were stocked with delicious, delicious craft brews. It was a beautiful sight.

DuClaw brewing, located in Baltimore, has probably not watched The Wire because it is a brewing company and it therefore cannot watch television. Hidden in the six pack section which I never really venture, was a container that proclaimed “Sweet Baby Jesus!”. My friend Tim, “The Beer King” himself, told me about it and I greatly respect his opinion when it comes to beer. The bottom of the six pack proclaims that for buying this beer I have awesome taste as well as both “wise and incredibly physically attractive” which is all very much the absolute truth, confirmed by beer.

The beer is a chocolate peanut butter porter which was a sweet change of pace from The Bruery’s Oude Tart which was a bitter masterpiece. DuClaw claims that “one sip and [I’ll] be saying Sweet Baby Jesus”. After a couple sips I have not ejaculated that yet; however I am very confused.

It’s tasty, eminently drinkable. Sweet, chocolately, peanut buttery. If you love Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups like I do you will adore this. It’s a liquored up version of that. The smell is enough to kill someone with a peanut allergy, it instantly hits your olfactory nerve with an overwhelming Skippy aroma. It’s dark, heavy, delicious, but not something you want to drink a lot of. Maybe it’s my old age, maybe it’s my crippling hangover, but after two of these all I want is something different.

Dessert beers are always a little too much. Last night with Random, we both agreed that we needed something to switch things up after slinging down the Creme Brûlée. And after the second bottle each and we almost brawled with some dingus who decided to act tough in front of his girlfriend who later dramatically broke up with him in front of us, all I could think was that 9.5% alcohol is a little heavy and also that the girl at the bar missing a couple teeth (the NEPA smile) was looking more and more attractive with every sip.

Anyway, while I am enjoying this beer, like the Creme Brûlée, it is a little much. I like chocolate. And I like peanut butter. But would I spend all night drinking both? Probably not. At least not without something in-between. If something can be too delicious for it’s own good, a beer like this would be an apt example. It makes me long for hops and beer flavors and things that actually taste like a real beer instead of candy.

At least now I don’t have to raid the leftover Halloween candy.

On Sanctimony, Drugs, Revenge, and the Hall of Fame

Now that the Hall of Fame fallout has settled and three warm bodies will actually be attending an induction ceremony in Cooperstown, the sanctimonious hand washing can come to an end. Score another victory for the morality crew (but not Jack Morris, thank the good lord); the ones who were too silent to speak up when the problem spread like cancer and all too eager to make a mockery out of The Process. In order to honor the game, those deemed the best need to be respected and the fact that certain players have been cast under the induction threshold due to whispers and rumors is completely unacceptable.


There is an inherent impotence to sports writing. Writers love the game but couldn’t play it; media members with access to teams have to play nice and be non-confrontational in order to provide the best information possible. As a member of the media, you can’t fight back and stand up for yourself when you get mocked by an overgrown adolescent jock who went 0-5 and is taking it out on you.

I took a sports writing class in college, when I was younger and naive and had hopes and dreams that one day I could be a distinguished and talented writer instead of a disgraced former blogger, and one day the adjunct professor taught us about confrontational interviews. We watched tape of hilarious outbursts, you know, “I’m a man! I’m 40! Come after me!” so on and so forth. Then it was our turn; the teacher made believe he was an asshole coach and had a mock press conference. I came in completely unprepared, asked a very stupid question, and got absolutely buried much to the enjoyment of my peers. This was a fake exercise and I was completely embarrassed. This wasn’t even real; I can’t even fathom what it feels like in a real world setting.

In 2011, after I said some nasty things to Jeff Pearlman on twitter and he called my mom, I met him at an event in NYC. He was speaking at some Deadspin sponsored sportswriter symposium at some bar in Greenwich Village. He spoke about a player who, when he was first starting out as a writer, made fun of him and refused to talk to him during a Spring Training many years ago. I didn’t strike me until years later that perhaps all of the steroid sanctimony could have nothing to do with taking a stand or doing what was right, but instead being a revenge fantasy toward the players who treated these writers wrong.

Everyone knows that there is an extreme inconsistency to how PED users have been treated by the members of the media. Some guys get vilified while others get a pass, no questions asked. Barry Bonds was a huge well established jerk. Probably still is. But he’s also the greatest of all time. A-Rod, Clemens, Sosa, McGwire, Manny — guys who did steroids but were also, for a lack of a better word, douchebags. These are the guys deemed unworthy and evil, while guys like Andy Pettitte, David Ortiz, Jason Giambi, well, you never really hear too much about their useage. They’re all considered nice guys, good clubhouse guys, fan favorites who are engaging and played nice with the media.

Mike Piazza and Craig Biggio, I have no idea what kind of people they are. Both have been surrounded by the idea that they cheated. Piazza has had whispers forever about his personal life and he’s probably a jerk. If you work long enough in sports, you know that there are plenty of stories about players that get whispered but can’t get reported because they can’t be verified. Go to the Winter Meetings or talk to someone who has worked directly with a team, be regaled  with tales of players buying bar tabs at 3 am, infielders sleeping with their team’s sideline personality, recreational drug use, stories of unbelievably mean behavior. By extension, all these rumors and half whispers, there has to be a reason why these reporters feel the way they do and can’t come out and say — there is certainly an opportunity and possibility of bias. It appears, at least to me, that poor treatment lead to the desire for revenge.

Jose Canseco tweeted earlier something to the effect that the Hall of Fame voters have already inducted PED users. While I have no idea which player he is insinuating used, I think Canseco is a poster child for this bias. The man is a clown. Clearly. His twitter account is an embarrassment and the way he acts, while not my business, is not the way a serious person conducts themselves. This being said, he has been absolutely right in almost every name he has provided and has been laughed at, derided, and mocked despite the fact that his accusations have been far from baseless. In a sense, the way that he has conducted himself toward others has ruined any chance he has at being a legitimate source of information.

This bias has festered and bled into the unchecked voting practices of the BBWAA and the obnoxious proselytizing that the Hall of Fame voting season inevitably brings. If we don’t — and can’t — know the full story but we do know that certain players who have been kept out and forced out due to inconsistent voting practices have been not necessarily the best of people, I don’t believe this is a difficult conclusion to jump to. 

The name of the game has become revenge — that these cowardly scribes can’t come out and exactly say why they dislike a certain player but also couldn’t fight back at the time of the original indiscretions. Years later, in a passive aggressive attempt to make up for this, they have used an easy excuse to attack, tarnish, and bury these players.

No wonder the print media is dead.

Subway thought 12/31/13

I know why you don’t smile
anymore
not like you did
in all those old photographs
of better times
and immature bliss
of brutal nights
and broken hearts
love found and love lost
searching for one for the night
but as you look
watch as the room is drawn to you
fine china skin and hazel eyes
and a sadder world
without you flashing that smile
the one that doesn’t show
anymore
no matter how ugly you
thought it was
I wish that I could
you know
give you the answers to all this
raise my hand
and hope you’d finally pick me
but I know why you don’t smile
anymore

Bonus Subway Thought 12/22/13

I had a lot of free time today. Maybe I’ll make this into a regular thing if people actually like it.

11)
the muscles slightly rip
and tenderly tear
upon the pounding of the 200 pound truth
of metal and steel
it was supposed to be easier
I thought to myself
as the blood and tears and sweat
mingled into a primal cocktail
intended to get me drunk
on my own self worth
certainly ive had my handful
of one night last stands
but the terrifying banality
of meeting someone new
just doesn’t speak to me anymore
im older, wiser
more cautious
more afraid of your carefully laid trap
you’re falling into it now im afraid
so while the muscles grow and swell
and the heart is a muscle right?
a muscle that has been exercised too hard, for too long
from the jealousy of your love
it’s not your fault
that my anger gets the best of me
and im too impatient for you to come to me
but that’s fine, it’s just an exercise
for when the game actually begins
the more you protested
that you were different
from all the ones that came before
the more I knew you
were the same
kindred spirits are never meant to be, i understand
and while the one muscle
I didn’t exercise
should have made the decision for me
i look at what I chose to do instead
while looking at myself in the wall length mirror
I feel a little regret growing
underneath these taut muscles
and the half baked dreams of my mid 20s
wash away with each drunk mashing
of that cursed send button
scorching the earth
and salting the plains
making sure nothing grows back again

Subway Thoughts 2013

Over the past year or so since I’ve started working in the city, and in an attempt to overcome to overwrought internal angst I feel sometimes, I began a small project to start writing every day in the notes app on my iPhone. I would share them every once in a while with close friends and such but I never imagined that it would become enough to be either able to be posted or worthwhile.

I’m not sure if any of it is really any good, but I’m posting it in more of a cathartic releasing sense. I hope you enjoy

1)

to my old friend johnnie,

my colorful friend

who each night is there 

to listen

to hold

to warm

my amber restorative

for a moment, just a moment of clarity

run through it all

as we slowly drift apart

reminding me of my

lies

loves

failures

dreams

loss

and as he slowly gets up to leave

i plead with him not to go

but hey, you can always stay

i can restore what’s left

and top him off

to my dear johnnie

my colorful friend

please don’t ever leave

2)

pale skin and late autumn hair

a natural beauty that none possess

a world that is blessed

not only to have you in it

but for you to have yourself

for all of this was made for you

at least in these sad eyes

a muse, a kind but lost soul

searching for meaning in this dictionary of life

but finding no definition on the page

how much it pains me 

that you cannot see it for yourself

with the cunning objectivity you desire

do not wander the earth

like the blind beggar

there is magic in your heart

the greatest gift of all

3)

if all art is stealing

then what of mine?

are the feelings real?

or are they something else

that i picked up

over time

from the other miserable visionaries

who came before

was it a warning to know

that heart breaks

life changes

that there is emptiness

that there is fear

or was this all stolen

taken

for the sake of being worse?

4)

man stands alone by the railroad tracks

waiting for a train that will never come

warm december rain splashes against his face

washing away years of frozen tears

he listens to every sad song 

that were written about you

he said some terrible things about you, didn’t he

that you were disingenuous

a liar, a thief, a user, a loser

is that all true?

his heart says yes but something in him feels no

was he projecting his inadequacies onto you?

or were you really taking advantage of him?

he misses you sometimes but every day will get easier

just add you to the timetable

of trains that never came

that could have delivered him

to somewhere, anywhere

but this broken down town of abandoned factories and shattered dreams

he’ll give in one day, when that train arrives

but that isn’t today

5)

two planks crossed in this pit

meeting again, maybe anew?

a flick, a flash

the match head burns

and for an instant the heat

but how quickly it burns!

illuminating the hollow emptiness of her soul

that you used to fill

which you will now replenish with 80 proof 

to accelerate that final spart

when the match has burned

to singe your fingertips

and to remind you

to feel alive again

6)

the battle of self-improvement rages on

two great ships fire their cannons at each other

until their shells are depleted

the captain looks out

war torn, weary

two dark brown pools of lifeless mud

thousand yard stare ahead

will it get better as more shots ring out overhead

zinging, singeing the air

tracing all the way back to the past

seeing her face in his lost minds eye

asking, pleading, begging

will things be different now?

but the battle will rage on

until the final shot rings out

that ends it, but just for him

7)

on the first day of class

i thought

47 more years to go

basement party drinking game

ending tonight in walks of shame

but the next thing i knew

there was only 40 years to go

on the morning of my first commute

i thought

37 more years to go

shuffling weighted feet

across the dirty concrete

when the novelty wore off

there was only 30 years to go

that afternoon she broke my heart

i thought 

27 more years to go

i’m seeing someone else for the best

you need to leave the nest

by the time i got over it

there was only 20 years to go

when the last of my friends got married

i thought

17 more years to go

their endless bliss

could i know none of this?

maybe there was time to avoid this fate

but there was only 10 years to go

when i knew that my story had been told

i thought 

7 more years to go

rose colored film kept memories nice

i wished then i could do it twice

but the only thing i could think

if only it was 47 years ago

8)

stray cat laying in the alleyway

the moonlight glistening off her matted pelt

licking her scars from fights

she knew she would never win

reminders of times much worse than this

but she tries and survives day to day

because what else is there to do?

other cats have been adopted

and others put down

while all you want is to feel loved

to feel a warm fireplace

and snuggle up close, purring in contentment

i bring the stray warm milk

and she looks at me and asks

why is it like this?

i don’t have a real answer for her

as hard as i try

but all i know is stray cat

i can see the beauty in you beneath the matted fur

and decades old scars

when you do leave

like all stray cats do

all i ask is that you see the beauty i see in you

i hope you know

i’m a stray cat too

9)

after a couple bottles of wine

you lean in for a kiss

but she recoils like a .44

kicking like a mule

"i won’t ever love you"

she says to you

on a frigid cold night in the city

not like the way you do

or the other boys who have come

before you, the ones who

turned her into the person

she is today

she is afraid, hopeless

damaged?

as much as you are

if not more so

and while in that head of yours

that painted a beautiful picture

of white picket fences

and fruitful love

and the happiest life you’ll ever know

the truth is

that you never will

not with her after all

but with someone

who will replace her

you will meet the person

who will glue everything back together

and if that person never comes

you are at least a friend

and that’s better

than being nothing at all

10)

baseball is the greatest sport you know

where else can you fail seven out of ten times and be a superstar?

certainly not in this life of ours

where everything is magnified

imagine if your life

was analyzed, quantified

i can understand the pressure

of call-in shows asking

"why did that bum see that girl?"

"why does he keep on screwing up?"

and everyone picking apart 

for not being successful more often

maybe we should all be more like baseball

and laud our few successes

try to forget the times

we grounded out, popped out, struck out

and focus on our home runs

and runs batted in

that could make everyone happier

like the beginning of spring

playing pepper, fresh cut grass, the crack of the bat

the pitcher delivers and you swing

can you get on base?

or is it time to just retire

There Will Come Long Dingers

In the Stadium the PA announcer sang, Tick-tock, seven o’clock, time to play ball, time to play ball, seven o’clock! as if it were afraid that nobody would. Yankee Stadium lay empty. The clock ticked on, repeating and repeating its sounds into the emptiness. Seven-nine, baseball time, seven-nine!

 

In the clubhouse, the breakfast stove gave a hissing sigh and ejected from its warm interior eight buckets of Big League Chew, eight cans of Red Bull, and sixteen tins of Copenhagen.

 

"Today is November 1, 2013," said a second voice from the back of the clubhouse, "in the city of New York, New York." It repeated the date three times for memory’s sake. "Today is the day after Game Seven of the World Series."

 

Somewhere in the walls, relays clicked, highlight reels glided under electric eyes. Eight-one, tick-tock, eight-one o’clock, off to the game, off to the at bats, run, run, eight-one! But no bats slammed, no carpets took the soft tread of groundballs. It was raining outside. The weather box on the front door sang quietly: “Rain, rain, go away; rubbers, raincoats for today…”

 

And the rain tapped on the empty Stadium, echoing.

 

Outside, the parking garage chimed and lifted its door to reveal no waiting cars. After a long wait the door swung down again.

 

At eight-thirty the tarp was wet and the outfield was a puddle. A lone groundskeeper swept the rain into a drain, where cold water whirled down a metal throat which digested and flushed them away to the distant sea. 

 

Nine-fifteen, sang the clock, time to clean.

 

Out of warrens in the wall, many employees like mice darted. The stadium was acrawl with the small cleaning crew. They thudded against the statues in Monument Park, sucking gently at hidden dust. Then, like mysterious invaders, they popped into their burrows. The House the Ruth Built was clean.

 

Ten o’clock. The moon came out from behind the rain. That House that Ruth Built stood alone in a city of rubble and ashes. This was the one stadium left standing. At night the ruined city gave off a radioactive glow which could be seen for miles.

 

Ten-fifteen. The outfield sprinklers whirled up in golden founts, filling the soft morning air with scatterings of brightness. The water pelted the bleacher seats, running down the charred right field  where the outfield walls had been burned evenly free of its blue paint. The entire west facade of the Park was black, save for five places. Here the silhouette in paint of a man celebrating a victory. Here, as in a photograph, a woman hoisting a beer over her head. Still farther over, their images burned on concrete in one titanic instant, a large man, hands flung into the air; higher up, the image of a thrown ball, and opposite him the shadow of another player, hands raised to catch a ball which never came down.

 

The five spots of paint—remained. The rest was a thin charcoaled layer.

 

The gentle sprinkler rain filled the garden with falling light.

 

Until this day, how well Major League Baseball had kept its peace. How carefully it had inquired, “Who ruined baseball? How could these bastards tarnish the legacy of such a great game?” and, getting no answer from the fans or the players themselves, baseball had shut up its windows and drawn shades in an old maidenly preoccupation with self-protection which bordered on a mechanical paranoia.

 

It quivered at each suspension, MLB did. If there was an amphetamine suspension, the media snapped up. The player, startled, would never cheat again! No, not even any player can tarnish this House!

 

Yankee Stadium was an altar with forty thousand attendants, big, small, servicing, attending, in choirs. But the gods had gone away, and the ritual of the religion continued senselessly, uselessly.

 

Twelve noon.

 

A lone sports writer whined, shivering, at the main gate.

 

The security guard at the gate recognized the writer’s voice and opened the stadium. The writer, once loving and optimistic, but now given in to being jaded and constantly waxing poetic about “the good old days”, moved in and through the stadium, tracking mud and spewing bile. Behind it whirred angry fans, angry at having to listen to the vitriol, angry at what has transpired in this game.

 

For not a program from game seven blew under the door. The offending litter, seized in miniature steel

jaws, was raced back to the burrows. There, down tubes which fed into the cellar, it was dropped into the sighing vent of an incinerator which sat like evil Baal in a dark corner.

 

The writer ran upstairs, hysterically yelping to anyone who would be stupid enough to listen, at last realizing, as the ghosts of the stadium realized, that only silence was here.

 

It sniffed the air and reminicided about what transpired yesterday. The highlights of last night were playing. “It is high… it is far!! It’s is gone!! It’s an A-Bomb from A-Rod!!” 

 

The writer frothed at the mouth, lying now in the promenade, sniffling, its eyes turned to fire. It ran wildly in circles, biting at its tail, spun in a frenzy, and died. It lay in the parlor for an hour.

 

Two o’clock, sang a voice.

 

Delicately sensing decay at last, the regiments of those who read PED articles hummed out as softly as blown gray leaves in an electrical wind.

 

Two-fifteen.

 

The writer was gone.

 

In the cellar, the incinerator glowed suddenly and a whirl of sparks leaped up the chimney.

 

Two thirty-five.

 

Beer taps sprouted from the vendors carts. The gates rose to show overpriced merchandise. Martinis manifested on an oaken bench with an all you can eat buffet in the Legends Club. Dubstep played.

 

But the buffet was silent and the drinks untouched.

 

At four o’clock the buffet folded like great butterflies back away into the walls.

 

Four-thirty.

 

The scoreboard walls glowed.

 

The players profiles took shape: Ichiro, Rodriguez, Jeter, Pettitte. The walls were glass. They looked out upon color and fantasy. Victory films docked through well-oiled sprockets, and the walls lived with happier times. The infield grass was woven to resemble a crisp, cereal meadow. A highlight of a game winning walk off home runs and there was the patter of feet and the murmur of a crazed crowd. A still image of A-Rod thrusting the World Series Trophy above his head. Now the scoreboard dissolved into distances of home runs hit into the Autumn endless sky. 

 

It was victory’s hour.

 

Five o’clock. Over 24 hours ago, the fans poured into this stadium.

 

Six, seven, eight o’clock. The memory of last night faded like magic tricks, and in the dugout

a click. In the metal stand opposite the bullpen phones where the space heater now blazed up warmly, a champion’s cigar popped out, half an inch of soft gray ash on it, smoking, waiting.

 

Nine o’clock. Fans who were here wished that there was heat as nights were cool here.

 

Nine-five. A voice spoke from the study ceiling:

 

"Baseball fans, which poem would you like this evening?"

 

Yankee Stadium was silent.

 

The voice said at last, “Since you express no preference, I shall select a poem at random.” Quiet music rose to back the voice. “Sara Teasdale. As I recall, your favorite….

 

"There will come long dingers and the smell of the ground,

And Alex Rodriguez circling the bases with the loud crowd sound;

And the fans cheer in the bars at night,

While wearing their pinstripes, black and white;

But sadly the love of the game was consumed by a fire,

News of suspensions coming over the AP wire;

And not one will care of the winning of the game, not one

Will care at last when the witch hunt is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,

if baseball perished utterly;

And Selig himself, when he woke at dawn

Would scarcely know that the fans were gone.”

 

The fire burned on the dugout ground and the cigar fell away into a mound of quiet ash on its tray. The empty seats faced each other between the silent walls, and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame played.

 

At ten o’clock Yankee Stadium began to die.

 

The wind blew. The sanctimony of A-Rod’s World Series victory was too much. Baseball was ablaze in an instant!

 

"Fire!" screamed a voice. The fans tried to ignore the sanctimony, many blogs were written about the greatness of the Yankees 28th World Series title. But the writers continued to write, licking, eating, destroying the legacy of this victory, while the BBWAA took it up in chorus: "Fire, fire, fire!"

 

The game tried to save itself. The league suspended A-Rod immediately after the victory but the inaction simply sucked upon the fire. The brand new corporate stadium gave ground as the fire in ten billion angry blog posts moved with flaming ease

from section to section and then up to the upper deck, where the real fans sat. While more intelligent fans squeaked from the recesses of the internet, pistoled their well reasoned arguments, and ran for more. 

 

But too late. 

 

Somewhere, sighing, the first fan shrugged to a stop. The tide of celebration had ceased.

 

The fans who knew that there was never any halcyon days was gone.

 

The fire crackled up the stairs. It fed upon the legacy of the game in Monument Park, like delicacies, baking off the history of Yankees baseball, tenderly melting the statues into unrecognizable blobs.

 

The fire backed off, as even an elephant must at the sight of a dead snake. Now there were twenty snakes furiously trying to explain how awesome it was that the most evil heel in contemporary baseball lead the Yankees to a title, killing the fire with a clear cold venom of embracing PEDs.

 

But the fire was clever. It had sent thousands of tweets and articles to simply say that baseball was ruined. An explosion! The loudness and constant medium to proselytize had simply beaten down those willing to fight the good fight.

 

The fire rushed back into the hearts of every casual fan. Yankee Stadium shuddered, A-Rod’s clutch hit bruising the game’s soul, its bared skeleton cringing from the backlash, its wire, its nerves revealed as if a surgeon had torn the skin off to let the red veins and capillaries quiver in the scalded air. 

 

Help, help! Fire! Run, run! 

 

Heat snapped the victory banners like the brittle winter ice. And the voices wailed Fire, fire, run, run, like a tragic nursery rhyme, a dozen voices, high, low, like children dying in a forest, alone, alone. And the voices fading as the reality of what the writers — not the players — had done to the legacy of the game finally began to set in. 

 

All of the voices eventually died.

 

In the Bronx, the Stadium burned. Ichiro, Jeter bounded off. The players ran in circles, changing sports, and ten million animals, running before the fire, vanished off to watch the National Football League….

 

All the voices were dead. In the last instant under the fire avalanche, other choruses, oblivious, could be heard announcing the score, saying that the game was safe, that A-Rod’s victory did not hurt the game. It was a scene of maniac confusion, yet unity; singing, screaming, a few last fans trying to shout out the horrid opinions away! And one voice, with sublime disregard for the situation, announced the game, remembering the better times until all the ability to care about the sport of baseball burned, until all the fan’s will withered and finally, the pro-PED crowd cracked.

 

The fire finally engulfed the stadium and the game had burned, puffing out skirts of spark and smoke.

 

In the Stadium, an instant before the rain of fire and timber engulfed the legacy of the most storied franchise in baseball history, preparing for a game which will never happen again at a psychopathic rate, eight buckets of Big League Chew, eight cans of Red Bull, and sixteen tins of Copenhagen, which, eaten by fire, started the writers into a frenzy again, hysterically hissing!

 

The crash. The upper deck coming down into the Legends seats. The Legends seats into the infield, infield into

the clubhouse. The World Series title, the legacy of the sports, A-Rod’s walk-off, and all like skeletons thrown in a cluttered mound deep under.

 

Smoke and silence. A great quantity of smoke.

 

Dawn showed faintly in the east. Among the ruins, one wall stood alone. Within the ruins of Yankee Stadium, a last voice said, over and over again and again, even as the sun rose to shine upon the heaped rubble and steam:

 

""An A-Bomb! From A-Rod! Ball game over! World Series over! Yankees win! Theeeeeee….""