…and I’m still alive to write about it.  Of course it’s off now that they’ve been eliminated from the playoffs. Still, it’s risky business to live in Boston and root for any baseball team other than the Red Sox.

Don’t get me wrong–you’re allowed to hate our home team with unmitigated passion as most of Red Sox Nation did this past season.  But root for another one?  A New York team?  That’s flat out blasphemy.

So be it.  Had the Sox been in the playoffs, I would have rooted for them.  They are my hometown team and I’ve spent my entire life loving the one I’m with.  Problem is, I’ve lived in a number of cities long enough to have genuine affection for teams in those ports.

Before moving to Boston I lived in Chicago and rooted for the White Sox even though I lived near Wrigley.  The White Sox had Ritchie Allen and a manager, Chuck Tanner, I respected.  When given shit by the Chicago press about Allen’s habit of not taking batting practice, he shrugged it off and told reporters to watch the guy hit in games.  Allen eventually went on to win the American League’s Most Valuable Player.  Tanner knew what he was talking about and I had my new hometown team.

But the New York thing is an enduring love that has to do with my roots.  I grew up in Carteret, New Jersey (Exit 12 off the Turnpike) where, as I’ve previously written, it was possible to see the New York skyline on non-factory induced smog days.  New York had three teams–the Dodgers, Giants, and Yankees.  My childhood babysitter, while my parents worked the tavern, (it was a working peoples’ town so the bar was open from early morning until, well, early morning) was a huge Dodger fan so my first infatuation was with Brooklyn.  And my first gut-punching betrayal–when the Dodgers moved to California.

But by then I was allowed to hang at my dad’s bar where my mother’s sister, Aunt Jeanette, was working.  She was a die-hard Yankee fan and I became one too (though I spent many an hour under my covers with a transistor radio listening to Les Keiter recreate Giants games with recordings of crowd noise and sticks he knocked together when the ticker tape said “hit or “foul.”)

The complaints–even back in the days–that the Yankees just bought championships (often using the Kanas City team as an extension of their minor league franchises) didn’t bother me.  I’d already become enamored with my new favorite players: Yogi, Gil McDougald, and especially Moose Skowron since I played first base in Little League.

I traded baseball for politics when I entered The University of Wisconsin.  I hadn’t gone underground; I still knew the stars although I no longer followed any particular team.  It wasn’t until I landed in Chicago that my love for the game reignited and I renewed my vows–forever.

Yes, I’m a Red Sox fan.  But I still have affection and appreciation for all my past teams–other than the Dodgers.  So wearing the New York cap was simply a reflection of that fondness.

But now that they’ve been bounced from the playoffs I have another cap to wear–one that has a fancy D on it. Sue is from Detroit and has a fierce loyalty to her hometown.  Doesn’t care that much about baseball, but can still recite the Tiger line-up in the 1968 World Series.  In 2006 her mom was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer.  Tsiv decided against extreme measures preferring a limited but better quality of life with home hospice.  Sue, Jeff (Sue’s brother who also lives in Boston) Donna, his wife, and I took shifts flying out to be with her during the final six months.  Sometimes each of us went there alone, sometimes together.  The Tigers were in the playoffs that season and I got Tsiv into baseball.  We watched the games in her bedroom and rooted them on.  The night they advanced to the World Series, Sue and I were both there.  She and I danced around Tsiv’s bed as she chanted along with us. “Go Tigers, go Tigers!”  It was a wonderful moment in a sea of sadness.

So I’m happy to don my Tigers’ cap now as they enter the 2012 World Series.  And it comes at a great time since Sue and I, after thirty four years of living together, are getting married next Sunday.

This year I’m looking forward to rooting for Detroit in the midst of celebration rather than sadness.

Rehctaw from Rawrah http://rawrahs.blogspot.com/,  has graciously offered to pinch hit for me next Monday.  I believe you’ll enjoy his writing and I’ll visit with you all again on November 5th.

Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered


It was mid October 1967, the Wisconsin air chilly, the sun bright.  The long drawn out discussion was over—those who wanted to be arrested inside the commerce building would block the Dow recruiters’ doors and those who didn’t would line its corridors.  Or protest outside.

I quickly realized that any distinction about committing civil disobedience was moot.  We were stuffed inside the building like sardines in a can.  No one could tell who was blocking a door and who wasn’t.

A university rep gave us a chance to leave before police would be called in to clear the building but no one made a move. I guess we thought that, at worse, they would push us outside—if we thought anything at all.

Then the tear gas bombs hit and the sardines, blinded and choking, began pushing and pulling each other in a deteriorating meltdown of rage and confusion.  Facemasks lowered, a phalanx of riot geared cops descended, indiscriminately swinging clubs in every direction.  We were red meat in front of Dobermans. Men, women, it didn’t matter. Blood flew in all directions.

They cleared the building with brute force but as we stumbled into the sun, eyes tearing, coughing, gagging, we saw the enormous swell of the crowd—many of whom had come to watch or were simply going to class but had now joined the ranks of outside protesters appalled by what they had seen.

Hundreds and hundreds were politicized that day including folks who’d never paid any attention to the anti-war movement.  And now actually began to listen.  It was a seminal moment, not only at the University but nationwide as people were stunned by what they had seen on television.

There are those who believe the anti-war movement of the Sixties failed.  From where I sat it was the genesis of long lasting social change: women’s rights, gay rights, poor peoples’ rights, and a vision of a world no longer built on the “survival of the fittest.”

And now, 42 years later I watch Wisconsin’s protesters, relive my memories, my beliefs about our lasting effects, but wonder whether  this year’s Madison augurs well for Amerika’s political direction or a losing stand against the country’s dark march.


Detroit just announced that it is closing half of its schools and firing one half of its teachers.  Providence, because of “budget” rules, fired all their teachers. Boston’s school superintendent is trying to unilaterally close about half a dozen schools and you can pretty well imagine the neighborhoods she chose.

Health Insurance companies are creating hospital tiers. You want to go to a “good” one, you pay extra.  Virginia’s General Assembly passed legislation requiring abortion offices, clinics, and centers that perform first-trimester abortions to be regulated as hospitals—arguably the strictest requirement in the country.

Texas has committed 466 of the 1,239 state-sanctioned murders (executions) that have taken place in our country since 1975. And it’s Texas, by virtue of population, that designs much of the content of our nation’s social studies textbooks—content decided by a committee that includes a real estate agent and a dentist but no historians or economists. Corey Booker, a mayor I respect, makes it clear in Brick City, a TV documentary series about his administration, that he’ll cut everything possible to keep police and firemen happy.  And a couple of years ago The Boston Globe presented a pie chart that indicated almost 70% of the country didn’t believe in evolution.

I could probably write on forever, but would prefer, love it, if people would fill in their own blanks.


It was Wisconsin who voted in this governor.  Who voted out a fairly progressive senator.  Am I really surrounded by seven out of ten people who refuse to incorporate fossil evidence into their world view?  Have we totally given up trying to break the cycle of poverty that causes crimes to simply rely on catching and jailing those who commit them?  I know we’ve turned our backs onany notion of rehabilitation in our prisons.

And yet, and yet, there are people on the street fighting for the right of collective bargaining and unions in general.  People on the street struggling for a woman’s right to choose.  People on the street championing gay marriage and the actualization of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”  People on the street demanding decent housing and food for the poor and disenfranchised.  Honorable lawyers working every day to keep innocent people of color out of jail.

I’d like to believe.  I hate the idea of doing a lemming into the sea but I smell the salt.  I hope it’s fucking age.

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” -Robert Frost