All posts by Ken Arneson

I Can’t Sleep

How can I sleep? I just witnessed the best baseball game I will ever see in my whole life. When my grandkids ask me about the best baseball game I ever saw, I will say “Game 1, 2003 ALDS, October 1, 2003.”

And to think, I was feeling stupid about paying above face value for 3rd deck seats behind the plate. I could have paid ten times as much and it would have been worth it.

I’m gonna be a zombie at tomorrow’s game, because I’m sure I will get no sleep whatsoever. Adrenaline is still pumping throughout my body. I’m finding it hard to sit still long enough to type this. I gotta go bounce off some walls or something now. Later…

Buck the Curse!

The A’s are doomed. The Red Sox are gonna win this series. The Curse of the Buck strikes again.

Every time the A’s have lost a postseason series since 1988, somebody named “Buck” has broadcast at least one game of the series. 1988 and 1990 World Series: Jack Buck. 1992 ALCS: Buck Martinez. 2000 and 2001 ALDS: Joe Buck. 2002 ALDS: Buck Martinez.

No Bucks broadcast the 1988 ALCS or the any of the 1989 playoffs, when the A’s won the World Series.

The only exception is the 1990 ALCS, which the A’s won, where I assume Buck Martinez was calling it for some Canadian outlet, but I haven’t been able to confirm that information.

Anyway, I just found out that calling this series for ESPN Radio will be: Buck Martinez. Aaaaaagh!

I think it’s a conspiracy. The networks dream of having the Red Sox and Yankees play each other. So to ensure they get it, they simply say “Buck you, Oakland!”

Perhaps we can buck this curse. Do not listen to the ESPN Radio broadcast, no matter what. If you’re at the game, do not look at Buck Martinez for any reason. Avoid him like a vampire avoids the sun. Don’t even look up towards the broadcast booth, for you might accidentally see him. If a Buck calls a game and nobody listens, does it make a sound?

Of course, the Red Sox have their own curses. Is Bucky Dent a curse? Are both teams therefore bucked? What happens when curses collide? Which curse is stronger, the Buck or the Bambino? Perhaps it will end up as Billy Beane said in the Chronicle this morning: “Like ‘Rock’em Sock’em Robots,’ where both heads pop off at the same time and no one can continue.”

Either that, or someone will somehow manage to buck their curse. Does the buck stop here? I would like nothing more than to wake the networks from their dreams and tell them and their curse to go buck themselves: “Buck, your time has come! It’s the A’s vs. the Twins! Buck off!”

To Be Honest

I hate the playoffs while the A’s are involved. I want them to win so bad, that I get only a minor sense of relief if they win, and extreme disappointment if they lose. I actually enjoy the playoffs more when the A’s aren’t in it.

I also hate going to games against the Red Sox or Yankees. I hate it because I hate being surrounded by obnoxious fans who think they own the place. For that reason alone, I really don’t want the Red Sox or the Yankees to win the pennant.

So I’m trying to envision these playoffs unfolding, and I keep thinking about playing the Red Sox, and then possibly the Yankees, and then possibly the Giants (whom I would also hate losing to, because they have every advantage over the A’s except World Series championships, and being the jealous guy that I am, I want it to stay that way).

The thing is, that even if the A’s win the World Series this year, I’m probably not going to enjoy any of it while it is happening; I’ll be too nervous. They only way I will be able to enjoy it is in retrospect. Perhaps I should just do as Billy Beane does: don’t watch it until it’s over. I’d save myself quite a bit of money in playoff tickets.

Does anyone else ever feel that way, or am I just nuts?

Jose Guillen is hurt

He heard something pop in his wrist. This could be a serious blow for the A’s. Not only for losing Guillen, but for getting Terrence Long again. If Guillen is out for the year, forget what I said about being optimistic about our offense in the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Long was complaining that Ken Macha didn’t explain to him why he’s been sitting lately. “I feel like they feel they don’t need me to win.”

Well, duh.

Macha’s reply: “Too bad. He’s 2 for his last 19. I’m sticking to what I always say – if you give good at-bats and hustle all the time, that’s what you’ve got to do. Our focus should not be on who’s in the lineup but on winning these games.”

The jury’s still out on how good a manager Macha is, but I like him just for statements like that.

Things Are Looking Up

Tuesday, I went camping with my family at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. My three-year old daughter took one look at the giant redwoods and proclaimed them so tall that even her big sister, age six, could not climb them.

The world is like that for three-year-olds. Everything is huge. You look up to people who, like big sisters, can conquer big things.

That evening, after dark, my wife took the kids to get ready for bed. I found myself alone at the campfire. I looked up through the giant redwoods at the stars. That night, the planet Mars was closer than it has been in 60,000 years.

60,000 years ago, my ancestors probably sat as I did just then, huddled around a campfire, looking up at the stars. Perhaps they saw Mars, brighter than ever, and consider it a god: O, great god of war, grant us victory in our battles against our enemies.

Thanks to the wonders of technology, modern men don’t have to wait long to hear whether their prayers are answered. I got my radio out, put my headphones on, and tuned in to the A’s game. Bill King was telling a story:

Back when he was announcing the Warriors, they had a game in Boston snowed out. They had to get to Muncie, Indiana, to play their next game against the Cincinnati Royals. They couldn’t fly out of Boston, so they took a train instead to New York. They had to wait several hours at JFK Airport for a flight to Chicago, and then they’d take a bus to Muncie.

At the airport, Nate Thurmond ran into a famous midget actor, and struck up a conversation. Bill King came upon them, and the mere sight of a man hardly four feet tall talking to a man nearly seven feet tall was something he’d never forget.

Back to the game: the A’s won a long, twelve inning battle, 2-1. Praise Mars!

And so the universe is like this: sometimes, you’ve got your buses and airplanes , your radios and TVs and computers, your ERAs and OBPs and EQAs and UZRs, and you think you’re big enough to climb every tree Mother Nature puts in front of you. But sometimes, you’re just a small man at a campfire, dwarfed by the redwoods, subject to the whims of the stars.

My Brilliant Interview, or How I Almost Prevented the Career of Dontrelle Willis From Ever Happening

Dontrelle Willis has dazzled baseball fans with his funky motion and charming personality. He returns to the Bay Area tonight for the first time as a major leaguer to pitch against the Giants.

Suddenly, he’s become a huge star. There’s a great interview with him in today’s Miami Herald. The San Francisco Chronicle had a feature article that detailed how he got his unusual delivery playing with some buddies against the wall of his apartment building.

It almost didn’t happen. Because of me. But the events you are all familiar with all unfolded because I, too, once had a great interview.

Unemployed

After we graduated from college in 1988, my girlfriend (now my wife) Pam and I decided to go spend a year in Europe. We returned to our hometown, Alameda, a year later, broke and jobless. Pam’s brother Sam was kind enough to agree to let me stay in his apartment until I could find a job.

After three months, I still hadn’t found a job. Things were looking rough, and then the big earthquake hit. My job prospects, already slow, came to a complete halt.

Sam was nice, but I could tell I was starting to cramp his style. He had a fairly small apartment, and it didn’t look like I was going to be moving out anytime soon. Two more months passed. So when the largest apartment (of five) in the building opened up, Sam considered taking it. We went in and looked at it. It was certainly much more spacious than the old one.

The Interview

That week, though, I had a job interview out at UC Berkeley, and I nailed it. It was the best interview I have ever given, to this day. I was charming and funny. I had great answers to all their questions. I made it practically impossible for them not to hire me.

So I got the job, and I moved out. Sam decided not to move, and instead, Dontrelle Willis and his mom moved in, into the apartment with the wall against which he first learned to throw that weird-looking pitch.

Every little thing you do triggers a great chain of events you can’t even begin to predict. A job interview I had at UC Berkeley set off something that may, in the end, save baseball in South Florida. If my interview had gone poorly, Sam might have moved into that apartment instead of Dontrelle, who wouldn’t have come up with that funky delivery, and Miami would not now be abuzz.

Is your favorite team in trouble? Threatening to move? Give me a job interview! I am currently unemployed, just as I was back in 1989. I need a job, I can write, and I can do magic with a computer. Take a chance! You have no idea what you are missing.