DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – I haven’t waxed romantic about the-once-national-pastime in a while, but as we get into the dog days, baseball’s pretty much all to herself.  As many of you know, I play in an old guy league and that goes for some of the blue [umpires] as well.

One of the old timers is Charlie.  With his distinguished, bushy gray beard and aviator sunglasses, he’d be as at home on a jazz cruise as he is calling a game.  Everyone knows Ol’ Charlie well…and it’s not always fondly; there’s usually a groan that goes around when he walks out of the parking lot and onto the field.  Charlie’s going to call his game…and you’re up there to swing.  Today our pitcher races across the dugout waving his arms.  “Shut up, shut up…me and him are good, don’t piss him off.”  He rushes out on deck, prostrates and bows as Charlie walks up smiling and attaches his thermos of cold water to the chain link fence.

It’s hot time summer in the city downtown, the hazy air thanks to the original four level stack interchange nearby, and on my way to coach first, Charlie gives me a fist bump; me and him are good too.  Personally, I’m a fairly passive player, it’s a big reason why I’m a terrible base runner, but it also plays well with a guy like Charlie.  This isn’t everyone’s game, of course…and Charlie don’t truck to a guy who  starts heading to first on a full count, ringing them  up with a “Hooowaaaaah!”  It also doesn’t fly if the catcher leaps up and heads to the dugout as the pitcher throws a two strike bullet, only to hear an indifferent “Ball.”

The Man.

That happened to our catcher today.  His next time up a big curveball (an Uncle Charlie) bounced off his helmet…so he starts trotting to first only to get called back for not doing enough to get out of the way.  Our man was incredulous, to say the least, and when he got plunked again three pitches later, he turned to pointedly ask if he could now take his base.  That may be a righteous showing-up, but it’s still showing-up.  Charlie was still explaining as I warmed up the pitcher before the next inning.
“He ducked right into it.”
“But Charlie, nobody wants to get hit in the head.”
“I know that,” he admits, but there’s no room for conflict in an umpire’s mind and what’s done is done.
“You’re gonna get an ear-full,” I warned as the catcher approached, still furious.
We had a nice lead at this point, but that next inning was Charlie not in his “swing” mode, but “throw a strike” mode, and our pitcher’s pre-game bows were but a distant memory.  The other team hung a seven on us that inning, and made it a game.  Charlie’s point was made.

We hung on to win, so this is all just a funny anecdote for my post.

Grote2DMax with Grote’s Gripes, tomorrow.

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West Coast Craig reports from Hollywood with an endearingly laid back style. A happily married father of two little boys, WCC has an avocado tree in his yard, plays the hot corner in a "Valley" hardball league and always manages to take cool sports-related mini road-trips, often with his immediate clan. He hails from Oneonta, NY but has been "So very L.A." for twenty years, so his sports teams are the Yankees AND the Dodgers, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the L.A. Lakers and the Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques. WCC loves bacon-wrapped hotdogs and can touch his heel and his ear... with his hand.
  • Anonymous

    Craig, that field looks like the sun’s anvil. You guys should be circling the bases on camels.

    • Cookie

      The sun’s anvil was beating down yesterday.. just in time for a 10k run.  BLECK.   Sorry i was out of the fray this weekend kids.  Hope everyone had a good one and glad the site didn’t blow up.

      • Anonymous

        out of curiosity, how fast do you run those?

        • Cookie

          As just a 10k… not very?  As part of a Olympic triathlon… even slower.  You want a speedy runner.. Angry Ward is your man.

    • Anonymous

      Afternoon games are killer, the sun isn’t just beating down from on high, every pop fly is lost in it.  The place I call the Devil’s Taint is deep out in the valley, where it’s at least ten degrees hotter.  

  • Doc Diz

    It’s hotter than two nekid women in a pepper patch down here right now.  Let’s see if the Rangers can hold on to their lead an not melt away.

    Always am amused by the difference in reaction to pain in baseball versus futbol.  In baseball, you get hit by a 90 mph heater and make believe it does not hurt.  In futbol you cry like an infant when someone stubs your pinkie.  Perhaps a cultural difference.

    Football practice has started..in college and pros.  Wonder how the Big East teams will react next year when TCU joins their league…coming down to play in 90+ degree weather in October might be tough on them and an advantage for the Froggies.  We shall see.

    Nice to see Plaxo got a job.  Hope he does not shoot his mouth off too much.  Or his foot.  Especially since his head coach does seem to have a thing for purty feet.

    • buffalobilly84

      Random thoughts? The heat gets to you come up here.

    • Anonymous

      Is it the Big East Texas conference now?  

    • Anonymous

      Doc Diz!? Welcome home!!!

  • Anonymous

    I guess Charlie don’t surf.

    • Anonymous

      …and you know that it ain’t no good.

      • Anonymous

        Though we think he should.

  • downtown

    Your catcher is an idiot. But the ump is like Brando in Apocalypse Now.

    • Anonymous

      I think he said “I swallowed a bug” at one point.

      • Anonymous

        Great reference Craig. The best reason to watch Hearts of Darkness, Apocalypse Now doc.

        • Sams A Fan

          I think that the best reason is to watch megalomaniac Francis Ford Coppola say “Marty isn’t dead until I say he’s dead!”  And also pissing and moaning when Marcos takes his choppers to fight the rebels (which I guess were Mr. Corey Aquino and pals?).

          • Anonymous

            Let’s bring Dennis Hopper into this situation, he’ll calm everything down.

          • Dude

            you can’t land on a fraction man

          • Sams A Fan

            What’re they gonna say about him when he dies, when it dies, when it all dies? He was a kind man, he was a wise man, he had plans, he had wisdom? Bull-tile!

          • Sams A Fan

            Now why does my comment come before Dude’s comment? I don’t get that, and dang it, it don’t work for me.  My comment should’ve come after Dude’s.

          • Dude

            sam, at the top of the comments there is a sort by button… then you can see the postes in order that they were received… and to continue the thread…

            zap ’em with your siren… americans… boy those monkeys sure do bite!

          • Sams A Fan

            much better, thanks Dude.

  • Anonymous

    Was  ‘Ol Charlie hittin’ the Ol’ Grandad, WCC???

    • Anonymous

      You must remember this guy, right?

  • Anonymous

    Charlie looks like he could be related to Bleeding Gums Murphy.

  • Sams A Fan

    Sounds to me like some Hot Fun in the Summertime.  Also sounds like I’m going to do what blue says because “Mr. Charlie told me so.”

    • Anonymous

      But what would Cosmic Charlie say?  Go on home your mama’s calling you.

  • olbique outlook

    Murphy’s Law. Out for the season. Stock market crashing. Reyes hurt again. The only sure thing is that Rex Ryan will predict the Jets winning the Super Bowl.

    • Anonymous

      Mets fans can take solace that Beltran hurt his wrist for the Giants.

    • Junior

      Broken clock and all that…

  • SentFromMyBlackBerryWireless

    Penn State coach Joe Paterno suffered injuries to his right shoulder
    and hip when a receiver ran into

    him during practice Sunday. Joe Pa was “blindsided” by a player running a drill during but
    “walked away after the collision,” according toa statement released
    Monday by the team. Paterno sustained at least one hairline fracture, a source told ESPN’s Joe Schad.

    The 84-year-old coach was not expected to require
    surgery, said Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, Penn State’s director of athletic
    medicine. A team spokesman said he would likely be released by Tuesday

    Paterno was taking notes when receiver Devon Smith, a 5-foot-7, 157-pound junior, ran into the coach.
    Paterno walked off the field at the end of practice but was cornered by physicians who insisted he be examined.

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