by West Coast Craig


Ooh ooh ooh, I feel my temperature rising
Help me I’m flailing
It must be a hundred and nine
Burning burning burning
The Angeles Forest is turning
Into a sky full of smoke
But I feel fine

Mount Wilson, CA — Hi there, what’s going on? How’re things by you? That’s great. Here? Oh, not much…except that the WHOLE CITY IS UNDER A MUSHROOM CLOUD OF SMOKE!

There are probably lots of sports to talk about today. The US Open begins, providing some actual excitement in Flushing for a change this summer. The all important third game of pre-season football is now behind us, and fans actually got to watch starters play more than two series…except in Kansas City, where they put all their eggs in the basket of a career back-up QB, then watched as he was squashed to the turf, along with any playoff hopes, before the season’s even started. MTMer Cookie was probably pleased with the reception Jay Cutler got in his return to Mile High…though I imagine less so with his actually decent performance. Also, that giant scoreboard/overcompensation-for-something in the Cowboys’ new stadium has been ruled out-of-play, and any punts hitting off of it are now considered do-overs. What Jerry Jones backroom deal made this possible? I imagine that Tony Romo is already practicing so that when plays break down and he’s on the run for his life, he can just kick the ball off the video screen and take a mulligan.

The Chula Vista (San Diego) California team won the Little League World Series by beating China Taipei (which is a lesson, a team can’t be made up of all “Taipei” personalities). In the final, they didn’t need the long ball that got them there…a record 19 home runs in the tournament before Sunday’s final. What, did they move the new Yankee Stadium to Williamsport? Was the ball juiced? Were the kids? Everybody was juicing in the late 1990s, right? So that means even the moms were on the stuff, and maybe it got passed on to today’s generation of Super Kid? Chula Vista first baseman Luke Ramirez was listed at 6’0”, 212 pounds…he’s twelve and he’s as big as me. He towered over Joe Biden in the pre-game photo-ops. The Veep looked like he was the one getting ready to return to school this fall. Earlier in the week, Jim Rice ranted against Derek Jeter and Manny, putting on his best old-coot voice and saying things were better in his day…and I imagine all the kids who had to listen to this were thinking, what’s he talking about, did they even have Halo 3 back when this guy played? By the way, how bad are the Padres when every other kid on the Chula Vista team names Tony Gwynn Jr. as their favorite player? Hmmm, actually that’s pretty cool.


Here in La La Land, however, the joke is over smell the smoke from all around. Evacuations. School closings. Sports postponed. Air quality almost as bad as back in the 1970s. So what could get me out there yesterday? Pure love, baby. It was the last game of our season, and once again it was deep in the valley, out in what I’ve referred to here as “Hell’s Taint.” It felt around 109 degrees, an oppressive, still heat. Muggy. Sauna like, the kind where sweat pours from your body as if you were a sopping washrag being endlessly wrung out. The fires were miles away, but you actually found yourself wondering if those SARS masks might not be a bad idea. Eventually a little breeze picked up, and the air seemed to clear…good news for us, terrible news for the firefighters as the inferno picked up even more momentum. They say it’ll cross the 100,000 acres burned mark today sometime. Even more ominous, it’s threatening all the satellite towers atop Mt. Wilson, which could truly plunge us into the dark ages here. No cell phones or television? The living will envy the dead!

Fortunately, apart from the tragic loss of a two firefighters, the death toll has been pretty minimal…though Darwinism has a strong pull, as evidenced by a burned couple who figured they could ride out the blaze in their Jacuzzi, and eventually had to be airlifted out of there. There was no need for that out on the field today—though our season could’ve used some air-lifting—and we even got some inspiration from Short Matt, who just flew in from Australia, landed at LAX, needed a way to spend his layover, and drove straight out to the field to get in some ball…stepping right in with a bunch of guys he’d never met and winning them over with his retro Kingman jersey and an enthusiasm never dampened by a jet lag that puts his biological clock somewhere in the middle of tomorrow night. Now that’s love (though after having to sit through marathon sessions of Cricket down under, one can reasonably assume he needed a good dose of American Ball to get his bearings back). As for myself, I even donned the tools of ignorance for the last couple of innings of the season, the first time I’d done so all year…and let me tell you, dear readers, it’s hot as hell under all that crap. As I said, I do it all for love.

(Matt is worried about being seen on here without his Matt-guise on…fortunately for him, his phone pixilated his face. Check out the layer of smoke over his head instead…)

Now you wanna talk about some love, check out my man in Center Field, Phil, still playing hard in his final inning of the season (that’s me catching, and Matt in left field):

So, yes, the hills of Los Angeles are burning, but so is the love, my friends. I’d like to work out a corollary to the Mets’ season going up in flames, and still finding the love for them…but that’d just be patronizing, so I’ll just leave off here. Everyone welcome Matt back stateside.

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About West Coast Craig 226 Articles
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.