retire wahoo

chief-wahooIs it possible? The Cleveland Indians currently, as in now, as in 2014, have a logo that belongs in the history books under the heading “Americans Sure Used to be Racist, Right?” Turns out Americans are currently racist, as well. This horrendous smiling insult is emblazoned on the uniforms of the Cleveland Indians, a Major League Baseball team. As though white people have not done enough to Native Americans (née Indians), they continue to use these awful images as mascots for their sports teams.

Partner blogger Stabbone and McGraw has made numerous pleas over the years to eliminate this terrible stereotype which mars his favorite baseball team, but the public has turned a deaf ear. I thought I could pitch in with an idea, just to get the gears turning. To satisfy those fans accustomed to Chief Wahoo’s trademarked grin, but to eliminate the racist overtones, I have turned the Cleveland Indians into the Cleveland Lizards. Presto! Ernesto as major league mascot:
ernesto-over-wahooAs part of the deal, if Cleveland’s management agrees to my changes, I will lend them Ernesto’s likeness for the lifetime of the ball club. All I request in return is a small fee to be paid to the Shawnee Tribe, formerly of Ohio but now residing in Oklahoma. Much like the story of the University of Oregon’s Duck, this is a deal that could outlive its creators.

Blog friday robot

friday robots

Friday Robots are here again:

This week’s robots are dedicated to the baseball-playing robot featured in The Twilight Zone episode “Casey.”

Casey the robot didn’t need steroids to win; he was pure baseball through and through.  Here’s to the robots who help win pennants!  Happy Friday everybody!

autobiography Blog

bye bye Beavers

pge-park  As I write this post, it is Monday night in Portland and baseball is dead.  Today, The City That Works lost its minor league team, the Beavers, with nary a tear.  Oh, give it time.  People will comment next April when PGE Ballpark, soon to be converted to a soccer stadium, stands empty the majority of the time.  With no daily baseball games to liven the park, it will sure seem a waste of such beautiful, meaningful space.

This blogger stands ready to help the owner of the Beavers, Merritt Paulson, bring baseball back to Portland.  If you’re serious about it then so am I, Merritt.

On Saturday evening, me, my wife Isis, and our friend Nick went to the Beavers’ third-to-last game, against the Las Vegas 51s.  I’m not going to mince words: the Beavers did not bring it that night.  Losing 9-1, the Beavers may have been feeling deflated.  Two bizarre errors were definitely indicators that the Beavers were not “cooking the bacon,” “bringing it to the table,” or “serving the bacon to the visiting team.”

At least Lucky the Beaver was in good spirits.lucky-beaver

You’re looking at one of Lucky’s final performances.  On Tuesday he’ll be sent to the Mascot Retirement Home in Sun City, Arizona.  There he will live out his remaining days in obscurity until Jack Death grips his fragile figure and carts him off to the Great Game in the Sky.

PGE Park was a lovely way to spend an evening on this late-summer day.pge-park2

The first pitch:first-pitch

By the end of the game, with darkness beyond the big lights and the the 51s having proven their superiority (at least for the day), the crowd showed its devotion by staying until the last pitch.  I don’t think I’ve ever been to a game when the home team has been down by as much in the bottom of the 9th and the crowd has not thinned a bit.  Everyone wanted to stay a little longer in that park, watching our team.

The last pitch of the game:last-pitch

After the game was over, Isis, Nick, and I sat for a few more moments, soaking up the century-old atmosphere of PGE Park.  There will be no more baseball fans parked in those seats, no more baseball hats sold in the team shop, and no more sound of the crack of a bat sending a ball skyward while the crowd watches in anticipation.sad-josh

The city of Portland has allowed this travesty to happen.  Why, in a city so full of good things, is there not room for baseball?  Are the hipsters too cool for it?  Well, probably.  But for those of us whose favorite bands play to crowds of more than 12 people and put their albums out not just on vinyl, baseball is still one of the best ways to spend a summer evening.  I hope that whatever town gets the Beavers treats them with respect and gives them a stadium at least half as good as PGE.  There is a baseball-team-shaped hole in my heart tonight.

Good night, Portland Beavers, and good luck.

autobiography Blog

2009 AAA All-Star Game

L1010058  On Wednesday, July 15, 2009, Adrianne and I had the pleasure of spending our evening at PGE Park with 16,637 of our fellow Portlanders for the AAA All-Star Game.L1010059It was a real treat to see the best of the minors from across the country. These guys are the future of baseball, and they played like they meant it. Unlike the major league All-Star Game, the Pacific Coast League and the International League players wanted the crowd to know why they were selected for this game. It was not merely an exhibition for them, a break in the middle of the season. It was the try-out of all try-outs.

Portland was represented twice in the game. Pitcher Scott Patterson and outfielder Chad Huffman both did Portland proud. Huffman ignited the crowd when he cracked a bottom-of-the-ninth double that almost led to extra innings. Sadly the Pacific Coast League fell to the International League 5-6.chad+huffman_03
Credit must be given to one of the International League’s pitchers, Pawtucket Red Sox’s Jose Vaquedano. With one of the weirdest sidearm deliveries this blogger has seen, Vaquedano retired Pacific Leaguers with style.jose+vaquedano_02This being the All-Star Game, the leagues brought out baseball’s most distinctive and legendary mascot: the San Diego Chicken.san diego chicken
The Chicken certainly brought his A Game on this warm Wednesday night. He mocked the umps with deodorant spray and eye charts, and he pelted the International Leaguers with water balloons (they got him back, hurling water balloons from the dugout).

There was a moment of tension when the Chicken met Portland’s mascot, a beaver named Lucky. Fortunately for all of us, the animals got along winningly. Friendship won out.

It was extremely fortunate to be able to enjoy such a game in such a beautiful park. Baseball as it was meant to be experienced.L1010063Game day photo credit (Huffman, Vaquedano, Chicken):

autobiography Blog

A Good Day for Denver

rockies win
The Rockies brought it home last night against the Arizona Diamondbacks. They’re in the World Series. As much as I don’t want to veer too much into sports talk for this blog, I have to say how happy I am right now. I watched the Rockies for years when they were absolutely terrible. I knew they were getting better, but the surprising thing is, the rest of the baseball world wrote them off.

I wish I could be back in Colorado right now.

Go Rockies.

autobiography Blog comic history

The Number 42

Ernesto the unusually large lizard wears a baseball jersey with the number 42 on it. 42 is a significant number.ernesto-welcome-panel

I follow baseball because I love this country. That’s right, I’m a patriot. I love baseball and I love bald eagles and I love a national anthem that is nearly unsingable. When I’m a retired old man I firmly intend to buy season tickets to whatever team (major or minor) is closest to my home. I will attend the ball game with a bald eagle, buy him a beer if he wants one, and we will sing along to the national anthem. It will be a glorious end to my accomplished life.

There is one retired number across all of baseball: 42. It was Jackie Robinson‘s number. Ernesto, therefore, is wearing a number you’d never find on a jersey today. Actually, Mariano Rivera, who was wearing the number when major league baseball retired it, has been allowed to keep it as long as he is an active player. When he retires, the number will too.Jrobinson

I like using 42 as a tribute, but also as a bit of ambiguity. What team does Ernesto root for? The Brooklyn Dodgers? Does he even like baseball, or did he just find the shirt stuck in a Palo Verde tree? Is it an original jersey worn by Jackie Robinson, or a reproduction?

42 is also the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, according to noted author Douglas Adams. When Douglas Adams died (sadly young, at age 49), Darby Conley devoted an episode of his strip Get Fuzzy to his memory.getfuzzy14

Ernesto wears the number 42 either in homage to those two great men, or simply because it was the only shirt he could find. Either way, I like having the number in Falling Rock. It reminds me to strive for excellence, or at least ambiguity.