Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Burrito Full Of Blues

The sun seared the San Diego skatepark, the SoCal Summer heat no longer just a wisp blown in from the desert mellowed by the surf, but instead an open oven kindled by overpopulation, Al Gore’s flatulence and carne asada burritos.

It was the Mexican version of the cheesesteak that inspired Our Lord and Savior Cole Hamels to visit his old haunt, El Culo del Rico, for some jalapeno-inspired home cooking today after his start last night against his hometown Padres. Not surprisingly, the same old shit happened again. He left with the lead and the bullpen blew the game. His rookie season with Team Schizo so far had left him with a bad taste in his mouth, and El Culo had just the right elixir to cleanse his tainted palate. He met up with an old teacher and brought an appetite.

“Seriously, Tom, Philly is a pit,” Hamels said as he liberally applied salsa and sour cream to the beef delicacy. His pitching mentor, Tom House, listened attentively as the young lefty detailed his woes.

“I mean, like, you know – this team has issues,” the burrito-eater described as he hunkered down and set to work on the fat double-wrapped tortilla tube.

House has handled his share of up-and-coming pitchers from his “school” based in San Diego, the National Pitching Association, most notably Mark Prior, Kevin Brown and Rob Nen -- to be sure, successful pitchers, but nevertheless, consistently injured. House, who has authored three books on pitching mechanics and “BioKinetics,” has a PhD in psychology – but no degrees, not even a bachelor’s, in any of the physical sciences are listed in his biography. He has his critics, not the least of whom is Dr. Mike Marshall, the retired Cy Young Award winner who does, in fact, own a doctorate in physiology. Marshall was known for his durability as a big leaguer and, more recently, what “baseball people” contend are his “unorthodox” methods geared toward avoiding injuries to developing pitchers’ arms. For some reason, “baseball people” think he’s the charlatan, not House.

But so far, the only students with a pattern of injury after instruction have been House’s.

Whether House has already set the stage for Hamels’ ruin is still unknown – Hamels has had arm and back problems, not all pitching-related – but yesterday, he was there just to listen to his student, a convivial, calming spirit; an old “master” with his charge, if you will.

“I made a big mistake with Chollie,” continued Hamels. “After one of my bad starts, I told him I wasn’t motivated, and he, like, freaked out! Told me if I can’t get motivated in the big leagues, there was no point in being here! Can you believe it? I think that shithole of a city is getting to him.”

Young Cole inhaled the last of the burrito and wiped the face that has always inspired big-titted and nitwitted blonde babes to line up for a little beach blanket bingo with him. “Let’s take a walk on the beach, coach, do you mind?” Hamels asked.

“Sure, Cole,” House answered obligingly, “it’ll help clear your mind.”

Once they hit the sand, Hamels reached in his pocket and took a look around.

“Mind if I smoke a bone?” he respectfully inquired.

“Hey, you’re in friendly territory,” House chuckled. Hamels sparked the joint, took a long hit, exhaled, and continued his assessment of Team Schizo.

“Dude, Dubee’s a moron, dude. He is so whack. Do you know he spent most of his career in Double A ball? Never made the majors – and he keeps a flask of hooch in the dugout!”

“You’re kidding me!” said House, who pitched all of 536 innings in the majors, mostly as a reliever in a mop-up role for eight seasons. His most memorable big league moment came when he caught Hank Aaron’s 715th homer in the Braves bullpen. But he never got liquored up in the dugout like Dubee.

“Yeah, can you fucking believe it?” Hamels went on. “And I’m not sure about this, but I think Pat Burrell is doing that trailer trash shit OxyContin, you know, the heroin-like stuff Rush Limbaugh got busted for? I can’t count the times I noticed him nodding off at the plate looking at a called third strike.”

“Holy shit!” House said, feigning flabbergast. After all, his was the era of the greenie, and the team Hamels got drafted into was notorious in the 70s for being crankheads. They all did it. He began to wonder whether Hamels would ever be able to handle Philly, or if the Phillies could handle their drugs.

“Cole, you do realize that team’s going to look completely different next season,” House averred. “I hope they hire my consultant Dusty Baker. He lets pitchers pitch.”

“Whoa, grandmaster dude!” Hamels droned in his native CaliSpeak. “Didn’t the Duster burn out two staffs in San Fran and Chi-town? He, like, isn’t too groovy about pitch counts.”

“Well, he’s not Mike Marshall, either,” House shot back. “That asshole would have you do shit like long toss everyday to strengthen your arm. I’ve laid down the law about that: You don’t need arm strength to throw hard. It’s sequential muscle loading. It’s late torso rotation, it’s…”

“Speaking of torso rotation, check out that chiquita hottie with those hooters, dude! I could stand for a little pinoche. Ee-yah!”

“Ignore the chicks and listen to me, Cole. Thus, I have written: ‘A pitcher must find and keep an upper body spine-to-hip relationship with a constant angle of flex in posting knee at front leg lift, stride and landing -- directing upper body into torso rotation and launch of a baseball.’"

“I never understood all that shit,” Hamels said, gazing at his sensei through reddened eyes. “I gotta get to the ballpark and get ready to watch my team lose again.”

And so the two parted, their relationship fortified by carne asada, ganja and bullshit. They tread similar paths in different eras, pitchers both – and that’s about where the similarities end. For the neophyte Hamels, his road has ended about the sixth inning every quality start, a yanking further irritating his impressionable spirit each time the bullpen blows the lead. Just like last night’s disaster. And things will not change as long as the other pitchers are about as untalented as Tom House.


Anonymous ChuckM said...

Perhaps House, Dubious or *somebody* should tell Cole that maybe a Mike Mussina or Curt Schilling can get away with glaring at an ump when a call doesnt go his way, but rookies cant and Cole is going to continue to get squeezed by blue.

18/7/06 9:49 PM  
Blogger Tacony Lou said...

It's either Dubee or the doobies.

19/7/06 2:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are an idiot, and your words are a waste of bandwidth.

19/7/06 2:38 AM  
Anonymous JG said...

Entertaining reading as always. Anonymous should scoot on over to K-Mart, they have sense of humor on blue light special.

19/7/06 9:58 AM  
Blogger Tacony Lou said...


No doubt the humorless anonymous is among Schwarzenegger's skatepark constituency.

19/7/06 3:38 PM  
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