Friday, April 28, 2006

Old Buc(ket) Jaw The Crankhead


Jim Tracy reminds me of a craggy biker broad I knew in Buttfuck Tucson, Arizona.

Not that he’s so much rough and wrinkled for wear – after all, he doesn’t work, he’s a baseball manager – but he has the same bucket jaw that my meth-mouthed hog-riding acquaintance sported since birth, a feature I took as genetic mischief because each of her coyote-ugly daughters had the same attribute. And the more crank they ingested, the more that monstrous mandible was in motion. It was the family’s identifying feature, as each was spawned with the help of a different denim be-colored father.

Equally uncanny is that the Pirates manager talks in the same insane concentric circles common to most speed addicts. Maybe it was the “clubhouse coffee,” now banned as sure as steroids. But if you had the fortune to live in Aztlan (previously known as Los Angeles) during his tenure as the Dodgers’ manager, you’d know what I mean. For the uninitiated, there are some gems that still rattle around my cerebral cortex, now cleansed by the clean Philadelphia atmosphere and spared the California Eau-de-Taco.

Who can forget his assessment of the Dodgers 2003 season, which saw the team meekly finish the campaign 15 ½ games behind its mortal enemy, the Giants?

“We didn't fail,” Tracy explained. “We just didn't succeed as much as we'd have liked."

Then there’s the cranked-up conversations he has with himself, such as this tidbit from 2004 spring training:

“Right now those five guys have to be the starting pitchers. Am I completely locked in there? I'm not quoted as saying that.”

I had sincerely hoped that the Phillies would somehow find a way to make Tracy the manager here. It would be a barrel of dosed monkeys to hear him talk it up during the post-game show. The writers would have a field day, Chollie notwithstanding.

Instead, now Pittsburgh gets to decode and uncrank him.

Crank and unload is what the Phils wish they could have done tonight against the Buc’s Ian Snell, a Dover, Delaware native, who, as Voice of God Harry Kalas succinctly described, was “dealing” – and we’re not talking about Nazi dope, we’re talking pitching, the type the Phillies, save Brett Myers, his opponent, have been short in supplying this season.

The starting pitching has chloroformed and handicapped what had been projected as an otherwise decent-hitting bunch of greenie-free ne’er-do-wells. Myers has been better than that, but tonight, he wasn’t good enough, despite giving up a mere three runs against the opposition’s unimpressive lineup, which features, among others, two guys named Wilson who drove in two runs and rapidly-mummifying Jeremy Burnitz, who, if he weren’t suspected of injecting steroids, could be confused with my biker hag friend’s ice buddy, considering he mutters to himself and looks toothless and gummy. Tracy managed him in Los Angeles. He has him once again in the Steel City for comic effect, and saw him kill an early rally tonight by grounding into a 1-6-3 double play. He tongued his chops nervously and sat down.

But Herr Snell was never in danger through seven innings, as the Fightins’ could only manage a droll five hits and one run against him in seven innings, not usually enough to win, even with a Hall-of-Famer on the mound. Further compounding tonight’s woes was Jimmy Rollins’ failed attempt at a steal with one out in the Phils’ eighth inning. Chollie, always the loveable father-type, put his arm around poor JRoll and practically kissed him Goodnight, as our struggling shortstop ran on his own and needed a little cuddling before the team went back to their luxurious digs in downtown Pittsburgh to eat their humble pie and drink their warm milk as they contemplated why they couldn’t beat a team that had only five wins before their glorious thrashing of our floundering Phils.

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