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Ridin’ on horseback and keepin’ order restored.

News item: Gordon Downie, frontman of the Tragically Hip and Canadian cultural icon, is dead at 53.

The Tragically Hip are one of those bands where, if I had a little more free time and a little more pocket money, I’d buy a half-dozen of their records and jump right in.

(Other names on that list: XTC, Richard Thompson/Fairport Convention, Ornette Coleman, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Lightnin’ Hopkins.)

Perhaps it comes from having grown up with my nose metaphorically pressed against the Canadian glass. The Hip always did their best U.S. business in the cities along the Great Lakes, and I knew people in high school who were fans.

The songs of theirs I know, I generally like, except for the one I love.

Bobcaygeon” takes its name from a small town in the Ontario countryside about 100 miles from Toronto — the sort of place where people from Toronto might keep cottages, from what I understand.

It’s a simple song of just a few chords, involving a policeman torn between a career in the city and a lover in the country, with a sidetrack in the bridge involving riots and racism.

It aches with longing and shines with starlight, and is just about as terrific a calling card as any band has yet come up with.

Or, maybe I’m full of crap. If you don’t already know the song, set aside five minutes to do nothing else but listen to it, and let me know.


Two hours with Cinderella.

One thing I thought about doing this fall, after I discovered the collection of old baseball games at, was to listen to and live-blog an entire World Series.

(I was gonna do 1954, which has the dual benefits of (a) being only four games long and (b) being over on October 2. Just imagine the baseball season being done and over on October 2.)

Clearly I didn’t bother doing that. But I am gonna liveblog one game in the archive, hopefully in time to get it posted in time for its anniversary: Game Five of the 1973 World Series, played the night of October 18, 1973, at Shea Stadium.

Why that one? I’m partial to most things 1973, plus I’m partial to most things Mets as a vestige of my childhood.

And, as I’ve said in other settings, Game Five was the high-water mark for the unlikely ’73 Mets.

Their (spoiler alert) win that Thursday night in Queens put the Mets ahead in the Series three games to two — a mere 27 outs away from going from last place to champions of baseball in only two months’ time.

Of course they lost those last two games in Oakland. Indeed, they never held a lead at any point in Games Six and Seven. Which thus makes Game Five the last of a memorable two-month run of shining moments.

Enough. Time to click the play button and hear other people talk …

# # # # #

The broadcast starts with a list of umpires (Augie Donatelli!) and the zesty sound of the ballpark organ. The announcer — I’ll figure out who he is soon enough — explains the different uniforms the umpires wear; the American Leaguers were still wearing those marvelous maroon jackets in ’73.

Jim Simpson takes over as Jerry Koosman — the hero of the ’69 Series, he says, but the goat in Game Two of ’73 — fires two straight strikes to start off Bert Campaneris.

Simpson then rattles off the Mets’ starting infield, including John Milner at first. Damn — the magnificently diffident Ed Kranepool isn’t starting tonight. Hope he strolls in later.

Campaneris promptly grounds to Wayne Garrett at third, and Milner falls off the first-base bag chasing Garrett’s throw; Krane would doubtless have handled it with bullfighter’s grace.

A balloon blows across the infield and Irv Noren, the old Yankee turned Oakland third-base coach, chases it down near the foul line. Dwell for a moment on the image of Irv Noren in the October spotlight corralling a balloon. Simpson doesn’t hit you in the ribs with it the way Joe Garagiola might have, but for a moment it is marvelously clear that baseball is a funny game.

It’s a cold night in Queens – Simpson says it will be in the 40s before the game ends. Brrrr.

Joe Rudi grounds behind Garrett. Bud Harrelson chases it down and makes a long throw that pulls Milner off the bag again, but Milner recovers to stomp the bag before Rudi gets there. OK, maybe Krane wouldn’t have made that play.

Simpson says “we go back to Oakland Saturday” and instantly I hear Tower of Power in my head.

Sal Bando walks on four pitches and bad MF Reggie Jackson (leading AL HR hitter with 32, leading RBI hitter with 117, stole 22 bases, hit .293) comes to the plate. Simpson says Reggie told the media earlier that day that Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley told him Reggie would “live and die in kelly green and gold – I’m not going to trade you.” Half of that turned out to be true, eh?

Simpson points out that the A’s have not hit a home run all Series. He also points out that the Mets are running an ERA of 1.67 in the postseason, and spells it out (“one point six seven”) to make his point. Who’s the real bad MF here? Koosman is — he gets Reggie hacking to end the top of the first.

Garrett leads off against Vida Blue, having hit a rousing .256 all year. (They built baseball lineups differently then, I think.)

“The teams will leave tomorrow … and so will we, for the West Coast and Oakland, California,” Simpson intones. That’s good, Jim. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to watch a silent game on the tube and call it myself. Though that might be fun with enough beer on hand.

Garrett strikes out; Felix Millan grounds out; and up comes banged-up Rusty Staub, coming off a two-homer day in Game Four. The fans remain appreciative of his effort. “He’s not been puzzled by left-handers. Left-handers are puzzled by him,” Simpson says.

(The 1973 World Series entry on Wiki would have you believe that Curt Gowdy and Monte Moore called the games. I hear Monte Moore but I could swear this guy ID’d himself as Jim Simpson. A mystery to sort out.)

While Staub works the count, Simpson (?) notes that the Mets’ Cleon Jones is very weak from a two-day bout with the flu. This does not stop him from playing left field and hitting cleanup. Sounds like the Mets must not have much in the way of bench strength, I’m thinking — and just as I think that, Simpson addresses that very topic:

“They have Theodore, and Willie Mays, and  … Kranepool,” he notes of the Mets’ bench, and he sounds just as appreciative as I do of the true star out of that bunch. “And Cleon Jones said, ‘I’ll take over in left field just as long as I can go.’ ” A brave and knowing man, Cleon Jones.

Staub lines to left — and dammit, whoever digitized this game (or whoever recorded it) left the commercials out! I was looking forward to hearing about Pontiac Catalinas between innings.

Top of the second and Simpson (it is Simpson – his partner calls him “Jim”) is nattering about pitching matchups while the Mets’ organist plays fast and frantic, perhaps trying to keep his fingers warm.

Gene Tenace tries to walk to first on a 3-1 count but Koosman gets it over for a strike. That move is timeless, I guess. Tenace then makes Irv Noren dance with a hard foul ball (baseball is a funny game) while Jim and Monte say hi to everyone listening on the Armed Forces Network.

Koosman K’s Tenace on a curve. Do people still talk about how good Jerry Koosman used to be? He had a couple of miserable seasons but a couple of very good ones, including an off-the-hook rookie year that I’ll pause the game to go look up. (1968: 19 wins, 12 losses, an ungodly 2.08 ERA. How do you lose 12 games with a 2.08 ERA? Meet the Mets, meet the Mets, step right up and greet the Mets…)

The veteran Jesus Alou steps up. He was one of that deep pool of veterans that showed up as part-timers and role-players on those great ’70s Oakland teams. (Don Mincher! Deron Johnson! Mike Andrews! Billy Williams!)

Alou grounds out and Ray Fosse comes up, toting a 1-for-14 line for the ’73 Series. IIRC, Fosse is an A’s broadcaster at this very time — well, not right now, as the A’s are done for the year — but maybe people sit at their computers today live-blogging Ray Fosse broadcasts like I’m doing right now. In the time it takes me to make this remarkable observation, Fosse lines to the busy Bud Harrelson, who throws him out too.

Did Monte Moore just say “Jim Seaver”? Did he? It sure sounded like it.

The ailing Cleon Jones trundles up; Simpson says Jones went 2-for-2 and a walk “against Koosman” in Game Two. (Y’know, you guys are only calling a World Series here; you might wanna get your names right.)

Jones, not apparently bothered by anybody who pitches to him, lines a shot into left field for a double, the night’s first hit.

Augie Donatelli tells Blue he can blow freely on his hand; both managers (neither of whom have been named over the radio yet) have conceded that tonight.

“Milner swings at a Blue fastball,” Simpson says, and it makes me think of a painter, then of a jazz album: Blue Fastball by the Sixto Lezcano Sextet. Blue rondo a la fastball. Kind of blue.

The wind is so strong that “all kinds of material is floating through the air – bits of paper, balloons, napkins, wrappers from hot dogs – it almost looks like it’s snowing in Shea Stadium,” Simpson says. “It’s been going on like this since game time.” And now I’m imagining the underdog Mets doing battle in a snow globe. It is an altogether charming image — probably much more so than this particular vestige of dirty, crappy Seventies New York deserves.

Staking his own claim for the Bad MF mantle, Milner pulls one under Gene Tenace’s glove at first. Jones scores from second and the Mets take a 1-0 lead while cheers rain down like hot dog wrappers. This is possibly the loudest Shea Stadium has been since Mark, Don and Mel.

Grote flies to Reggie Jax and Don Hahn, another of the ’73 Mets’ scrubby outfield options, steps up to face another blue fastball a la turk. “Most of the spectators here – and we are loaded with spectators – are dressed for winter,” Simpson says.

Hahn grounds into a force play at second so he gets a chance to run instead of shivering on the bench. Harrelson follows with a routine fly to left and the Mets take a 1-0 lead into the third.

Dick Green comes up; the A’s slick-fielding second baseman is 0-for-7 with five strikeouts. When announcers point that out, it’s usually good for at least a double. What happens here? He flies to Hahn in center. 0-for-8.

Blue follows and Simpson points out his special ineptitude at the plate. Again, that’s usually foreshadowing. What happens here? Four-pitch strikeout. He does not trouble the 371-foot and 396-foot power alleys Simpson takes pains to mention while describing Shea Stadium as “a big ballpark.”

Campaneris doesn’t reach those distances either, but he fists a blooper over Harrelson for the A’s first hit. Joe Rudi comes up — and Koosman picks off Campaneris to end the inning.

(A’s manager Dick Williams squawks at umpire Harry Wendelstedt, claiming that Koosman balked, and Simpson excitedly tells us that the videotape showed Koosman’s foot moving toward home plate. But there is no replay on the field in 1973, thanks be to God, and we move on.)

Simpson says that “strangely” there’s been no activity in either bullpen. He was expecting it in the third inning of a 1-0 game? Koosman strikes out, anyway. The air dies down, Simpson says (he means wind, of course); the debris stays put for a few; and Blue takes the air out of Wayne Garrett with a called strike three.

Temperature was 50 degrees at 9 p.m. New York time, which was 10 minutes ago, Simpson notes. A plane flies over the ballpark with the ’73 Mets’ slogan, “Ya Gotta Believe.” It doesn’t help Felix Millan, who grounds out to Campaneris. One-third done and the Mets lead 1-0.

# # # # #

Rudi back up to lead off the fourth. Simpson mentions that Reggie Jax, Sal Bando and Gene Tenace combined hit 85 homers in ’73 — the exact same number hit by the entire Mets team that year. Rudi plunks a short fly into right that Millan collects comfortably; one down.

Simpson mentions that the A’s got three-hit in Game Four, and talks at some length about the Mets’ pitching, which Cincinnati hitters described as (his words) “just not that superb.” Makes me wonder how Pete Rose and Tony Perez spent the evening of October 18, 1973. (I never did much care for Cincinnati, except for the chili.)

Bando reaches on a weird-bounce ground ball past/around/through Wayne Garrett. It’s scored a hit. Are the A’s ready to solve the not-superb Mets’ pitching at last? Let’s see what Reggie Jax does: Hard grounder to Millan, toss to Harrelson, throw to Milner at first for the double play! Beauty.

Bottom fourth. Rusty Staub. Simpson says he refuses to wear a long-sleeve shirt under “that blouse of his.” “Blouse,” Jim? (“Everywhere else you look, all of the players have that undershirt. But Staub? No.”)

Simpson also brings up one of the amusing could-have-beens of that wild ’73 season: If Montreal had won the National League East, the postseason night games would have been played in arctic Jarry Park. (The Expos finished only three-and-a-half games back despite having a record under .500.) “Had Minnesota won it, and had they been playing tonight, it would have been 18 degrees,” he adds. (The Twins finished 13 games back in the A.L. West, respectable but not really in the running.)

The bare-armed Staub pokes one past Campaneris for his eighth hit of the Series. Simpson mentions that the planes that usually flock over Shea from LaGuardia Airport have been redirected the other way. What would a game at Shea have been without a mention of jet engines?

Cleon Jones rifles a single into center and the fans sound like a jet eng– er, a throng of 54,000 excited and Rheingold-lubricated throats. Runners at first and second, none out. Will the Metsies bust it open here?

The A’s send Rollie Fingers down to their bullpen. He’s not usually a long reliever, but his presence may be needed to put out a rally before it gets out of hand (as Monte Moore observes, “You put out a fire when a fire starts.”) Using your closer in crucial early-game situations should really be conventional wisdom beyond the confines of the World Series, but nope.

Speaking of stupid conventional wisdom, Milner bunts, and Blue throws to third for the lead out. Yogi, you hack. I dunno how Earl Weaver spent the evening of Oct. 18, 1973, but if he had to watch that, he probably hucked a can of Natty Boh at his Zenith, followed by a stream of salty language.

Grote fouls out to first. Don Hahn (.229 in the regular season!) grounds to Campy who can’t handle it and everybody’s safe. Alas, the rally is in the slap-hitting hands of Bud Harrelson, who promptly pops up to Gene Tenace; the Mets leave ’em full. Goddamn bunts.

(“The wind, and the fans, have taken away much of the bunting that was here when Game 3 began,” Simpson says, apropos de nada. I love the thought of a bunch of nudniks from Staten Island making off with decorative bunting. Seventies New York couldn’t have nice things.)

Fifth inning. Koosman leads off Gene Tenace with “a big, big, big slow curve,” Simpson exults, and suddenly it’s two years later and I’m picturing Bill Lee throwing a big, big, big slow curve to the aforementioned Tony Perez with deeply disastrous results. Will Koosman kill himself with cuteness? Let’s hope not — “back with another one! Strike two!” And then he throws two more — one for a ball, one for a foul. Tenace works the count full and draws a walk. Goddamn slow curves.

Jesus Alou up. 3-for-15 in the Series, but 2-for-2 against Koosman in Game Two. First-pitch foul pop to Grote behind the plate. One out.

Ray Fosse up, 1-for-15. Simpson keeps mentioning that home-plate umpire Russ Goetz is “an American League umpire,” as if that were reflected in his calls in some way. Fosse works Koosman for a bunch of pitches and a full count before flaring a pop to Felix Millan, who makes a sensational over-the-shoulder catch and almost doubles Tenace off first base.

(Simpson keeps comparing Millan’s catch to Willie Mays’ great catch in the ’54 Series. He does not mention that the great man is shivering on the bench in a satin jacket because he’s no longer good enough to start, or even really to play at all. Baseball is a bittersweet game, unless you’re Irv Noren.)

Green flies to Hahn in center field, completing what Simpson calls a 1-2-3 inning before he catches himself and mentions that the leadoff hitter reached on a walk. Quit watching the hot-dog wrappers and get your head in the game, buddy.

Bottom five. Monte Moore takes over the call. I like his style — lively without being forced. (“Some balloon vendor is doing well in this ballpark, only most of ’em are ending up on the field.”)

Blue strikes out Koosman; Garrett works the count full somewhat begrudgingly (“Garrett looks as if he’d just been stuck in the back with a dull knife; he doesn’t like that call at all by Russ Goetz”) before taking a walk.

Blue throws wildly on an attempted pitchout; Garrett takes second; A’s pitching coach Wes Stock goes out for a mound conference. Moore mentions that Blue has never won a postseason game, and suggests he’s pressing too hard. Millan grounds to first; Garrett goes to third; can Rusty Staub come up big? Nope, he grounds to Campaneris. Another wasted chance.

Top six. Simpson recounts the Mets’ scoring chances, then mentions the A’s haven’t had a man as far as second base. Monte Moore takes over again: Blue, Campaneris and Rudi due to hit. Blue goes down swinging. Campy walks.

Moore says there are 2,000 tickets for sale for the Saturday and (if needed) Sunday games in Oakland. He also mentions Billy North, the A’s missing center fielder, who tore ligaments 13 days before the end of the regular season in Minnesota.

Oakland still has not hit a home run in this World Series, Moore repeats, as if he is willing it to happen for the purposes of looking prescient. Nope: Rudi pops foul to Jerry Grote.

Koosman keeps throwing to first to keep Campy close; Dick Williams on the top step watches every throw intently, waiting to crow “balk!”

Sal Bando gets a break on a two-strike checked-swing call (boooooo, goes the jet engine), then bounces a ground ball off the foot of Wayne Garrett, who’s having a tough night …

… and here comes Reggie Jackson, who’s been long, long overdue to do something with the bat in this Series,” Moore announces. Aw, crap. This half-inning has been going on altogether too long, it seems.

Jackson hits a hard ground ball — precisely where Bud Harrelson is playing him, behind second base. Harrelson steps on second for the third out and a massive (and visible) cloud of exhaled breath fills the air above Shea Stadium.

Bottom six. Simpson says Cleon Jones “actually was ill in left field on Tuesday night.” That’s not a euphemism for ralphing, is it? Jones belts one deep to left, but Rudi “MAKES ANOTHER UNBELIEVABLE CATCH” – of the backhanded and crashing-falling variety, Moore explains. General tumult. Thirty-second pause for station identification, which is cut. Damn.

Simpson explains that Rudi nailed a fencepost and took quite a shock, but stays in the game. He also adds that the game is being briefly delayed so the owner of a Mets pennant that is obscuring part of the right-field foul pole can remove it. Rollie Fingers and Darold Knowles both throwing in the Oakland pen.

Milner bounces out first to pitcher. Jerry Grote lines a low curve into left field for a base hit. Moore mentions that one of these teams will go to the West Coast needing only one win for the championship. Gee, wonder which?

The .229-hitting Don Hahn — one of two sets of twins in his family, Moore helpfully explains — runs the count 0-and-2. It’s 48 degrees and windy in New York, “but I don’t know anywhere I’d rather be,” Moore adds. Well played. Then he adds that some of the folks listening on the Armed Forces Radio Network might be someplace where it’s 48 below zero. Did I mention I liked this guy?

“Vida Blue’s been in a lot more trouble than has Jerry Koosman,” Moore says — and a couple pitches later, Hahn hits a gapper into deep left-center for a triple and the Mets lead 2-0.

Dick Williams comes out for Blue, accompanied by a series of boos, or maybe they’re yelling “Bluuuuuuuuuue,” but I somehow doubt that. (Simpson: “Don Hahn, who doesn’t hit for average or for power – either one – has just driven Vida Blue out of the ballgame.” Ouch!)

Simpson mentions that Vida stalked off the mound in a hurry, and that his replacement has not yet arrived in “the little cart” from the bullpen. Remember bullpen carts? Those things were wicked awesome.

The organ player gives it his best Jimmy McGriff for a while, until we finally find out who’s pitching: Darold Knowles, who’s now been in all five games of the ’73 Series. Knowles intentionally walks Bud Harrelson to get to Koosman, who strikes out swinging.

Two-thirds done.

# # # # #

Top of the seventh and the A’s are slumping badly at the plate. They haven’t scored an earned run in 15 innings. With Seaver and Matlack slated to face them in Games Six and (if needed) Seven, Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage is beginning to glow like a crystal.

Tenace leads off. Bud Harrelson jogs in to say something to Koosman, then returns to his position. “He really plays Tenace over in the hole,” Simpson says, and for a second I imagine Harrelson dressed in tennis whites, wielding a Slazenger.

Koosman gives Tenace a leadoff walk. Is he tiring? Tug McGraw, Number 45, begins to loosen in the Mets’ pen while pitching coach Rube Walker strolls out for a chat.

The veteran Jesus Alou up; Koosman bounces the first pitch. So, yeah, is he tiring? Not so tiring that he can’t get Alou, who pops foul to Grote for the second at-bat in a row.

Ray Fosse to the plate; Deron Johnson (remember him from, like, 2,500 words ago?) comes out on deck to pinch-hit for Dick Green. Fosse doubles past Wayne Garrett, who at this point is probably wishing he were eating chili in Cincinnati with Pete Rose, and the A’s have runners at second and third with one out.

Yogi Berra — we are an hour and 44 minutes into the recording and, unless I missed something, this is the announcers’ first mention of the Mets’ manager — anyway, Yogi Berra comes to the mound and calls McGraw into the game. (“How quickly this has turned around,” Simpson intones.)

This is already McGraw’s fourth game of the Series; he’s won one of them. As the heart and soul of the ballclub, he gets a rousing cheer as he arrives. Deron Johnson (19 HRs, 81 RBIs during the regular season) works a 3-1 count, swings at strike two, fouls one off, and works a walk. Sacks jammed, one out. Yeesh.

Dick Williams, making moves on top of moves, pinch-runs Allen Lewis for Johnson and pinch-hits Angel Mangual for the pitcher. (I always thought “Angel” was pronounced like “an-HEL,” but no, it’s “Angel,” like in California.) Moore mentions that a lot of major league baseballs are now made in America but sent to Haiti to be hand-sewn, which seems like an odd tidbit to bring up at a make-or-break moment.

Mangual pops up on the infield, invoking the fly rule; he is automatically out. Big, big, big out.

Argh – here comes Bert Campaneris, who had the game-winning hit the other night. Will McGraw’s nerveless ice-water mojo carry the day? He runs the count to 2-and-2 — with the Mets fans roaring wildly at every strike — and then rings up Campaneris with a called third strike down the middle.

“TUG MCGRAW, THE MIRACLE WORKER OF THE MIRACLE METS, HAS JUST DONE IT AGAIN!” Moore roars. Cut to a commercial break, during which millions of New Yorkers presumably hit the bathroom, get a fresh beer, open a new pack of cigarettes and pick their hearts off the ceiling. (Moore, a minute later: “Boy, that McGraw has been in and out of some scrapes that Houdini couldn’t have gotten out of.”)

Bottom seventh at last. Rollie Fingers on to pitch, Ted Kubiak on to play second for Oakland. Wayne Garrett steps up; he could redeem himself by hitting about six homers at once, but instead he warms up Kubiak with a routine grounder.

Millan grounds to Bando at third; his throw is crap but Tenace digs it out. Staub draws a walk. Cleon Jones, who’s had three good hacks tonight, steps up and some loudmouth under the booth starts mushmouth shouting with particular intensity.

Moore explains that it’s “a rule now in baseball” that the home-plate umpire is required to appeal a ball and strike count if the catcher asks. He quips that first-base ump Harry Wendelstedt has called as many balls and strikes tonight as home-plate ump Goetz.

Jones grounds one through the middle; Campaneris snags and tosses on the run to Kubiak covering second. Dude was an all-star for a reason. Three out.

Top eight. McGraw back out to face Rudi, Bando and Jackson. Chain-smoke city for Mets fans. “This is the golden chance, if there is to be a chance against Tug McGraw,” Simpson intones (I know I keep typing that, but it’s not my fault; the guy just keeps intoning.)

George Stone working in the Mets ‘pen. Rudi crushes a foul to the left side, then grounds to third. “Garrett has this one,” Moore says, his voice rising with disbelief. “Throw to first – he got him!” Blind pig finds acorn.

(Simpson teases a trivia question: Who and when was the last complete game in World Series play, since there haven’t been any this year or last year? Wonder what they’d think of today’s game, where people don’t even think about complete games. They give the answer — Steve Blass, Game Seven, 1971 — without mentioning the career-ending on-the-mound breakdown Blass suffered throughout the 1973 season.)

Bando works 3-and-2 and hits a weak looper into left, but Jones tracks it down for out number two. Reggie Jax up. McGraw works him to 3-and-1 — “the A’s need baserunners now,” Moore says — and Reggie looks down at Irv Noren for something; levity, perhaps? McGraw almost hits him with ball four. Funny game.

“To hit a home run tonight, it will take a line drive to left field,” Moore says; he seems pretty clearly convinced the A’s bats are coming alive any minute now.

McGraw fools Tenace on a slow curve for strike two and the park erupts. He misses outside with a screwball and it erupts again. He misses for his fourth straight 3-and-2 count and consternation rumbles through the park like a subway train … and then McGraw walks Tenace.

The chronically frustrated Jesus Alou comes up (“with a club like this, you’d think something would have to pop soon,” Moore says.) Blue Moon Odom, a speedy pitcher sometimes used to pinch-run, comes on to run for Tenace at second.

Alou smokes one down the third-base line — where Garrett, bless him, happens to be playing, and he snares it knee-high for out number three as Moore and the stadium erupt simultaneously. This is what World Series baseball is supposed to be.

Bottom eight. Milner starts with a single to center off Fingers. Grote bunts (for frick’s sake, Yogi!) and sub first baseman Pat Bourque handles. At least this bunt works as intended, and I imagine Earl Weaver was comatose with beer in front of his TV by this point.

Don Hahn, up next, strikes out. The A’s intentionally walk Harrelson again to get to the pitcher (this guy was, like, 5’6″ and hit two homers a year – I hope he enjoyed every second of this.)

The Mets let McGraw swing the bat; he gets a standing ovation (Simpson: “Mets fans come out, not just in numbers, but in appreciation”) but hits a routine grounder to Kubiak for the last out.

Three more outs to go. Catcher Fosse leads off for Oakland. Of course McGraw starts by working him 2-and-0, because nothing can go easy in Metsland. Fosse spanks a line drive directly at Cleon Jones in left. One out.

Kubiak next. OK, now Tug starts 0-and-2. Can we hope for a three-pitch out? No, a screwball goes high. The crowd is singing “Goodbye, Charlie” to A’s owner Charles Finley; they have more confidence in McGraw than I do (and I know how the game comes out!) Kubiak fights his way to 2-and-2, then watches a called strike three.

White noise.

Another in the A’s cavalcade of veterans, Billy Conigliaro, comes out to pinch-hit for Rollie Fingers.”McGraw allows himself the comfort of a deep breath,” Moore says. (Moore, astutely, also notes that McGraw has not been able to get his screwball over for a strike.)

Two strikes on Conigliaro. McGraw’s in a hurry to pitch; Conigliaro steps out. Moore tells the story:

Listen to this crowd. Here comes the pitch. Screwball – STRIKE THREE CALLED! HE GOT IT! … Putting the Mets on top in this World Series, three games to two!”

That was a moment worth taking two hours and twenty-eight minutes (and 4,730 words) to get to.

They don’t get paid to take vacations or let me alone.

I’ve been listening to pretty much nothing but Cheap Trick’s Dream Police album for the past week-and-a-half.

I wrote a while ago about how strongly I associate the song and the album with this time of year; I guess that’s kicked in lately.

Used to be that a jag of this nature would lead to at least one blog post, if not a series. But I am baffled: I have absolutely nothing to say.

I’ve been jonesing for fresh apples lately too — three of the past four Saturdays, I’ve gone to a nearby orchard to buy more — and I could probably write 500 words on apples if I wanted to. (Today I bought a paper bag of Fujis. Inside and out they are the color of aged linoleum. Their bite and density are reminiscent of pears; their taste, likewise.)

But trying to analyze Dream Police is like trying to analyze a driftwood coffee table or a crosstown bus. There just ain’t nothin’. The entire thing is a slickly produced collection of minor ironies, practiced poses and other people’s riffs.

I can characterize the stages of my obsession easily enough, and maybe that tells the story:

“This is a pretty good album, and Cheap Trick is usually fun. I’ll bring it out to the car.”

“This is a really good album.”

“Bun E. Carlos is the Ringo Starr of the Seventies.”

“This is a great album. I’m even starting to like those two songs on Side One that I always thought sucked.”

“This is officially a great album all the way through.”

“This is such a great album, I’ll even listen to the bonus tracks on the CD reissue, even though I’ve heard the songs from that gig before and they aren’t very good.”

“The album they originally made and released is a great album.”

“Bun E. Carlos is a genius.”

“There’s really kinda nothing beneath the surface here but it’s a very good album.”

“There are eight more strings on Tom Petersson’s bass than are strictly necessary.”

“I wonder what the people Cheap Trick ripped off so insistently — the McCartneys and Townshends of the world — think of their music.”

“I begin to wonder if these guys were running on pure shtick. Sure is catchy, though.”

“At some point soon I’ll probably put something else on. For now I’ll skip over the bonus tracks again to get back to the start.”

“I don’t know how I can listen to something twenty-five times in a row and not be able to identify a single original virtue in it. Maybe I’ll find it on the twenty-sixth.”

Haven’t really found it yet. Still think Bun E.’s a fabulous drummer, though.

Additional small indicators of the continuing flight of time.

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Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch (born May 15, 1974) is the first big-league manager to make the postseason who’s younger than I am.

This has actually been true since 2015 — the first year Hinch’s Astros made the playoffs — but I’m not sure I noticed it then.

Also, it’s unclear whether Bartolo Colon (born May 24, 1973), the last remaining big-league player who’s older than I am, will be back for another year. He says he wants to, but his performance in 2017 (7-14, 6.48 ERA) indicates otherwise.

Carry on.

Outta here.

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News item: Solly Hemus, the first person in New York Mets history to be ejected from a game, is dead at 94.

“The umpires screw us because we’re horseshit.”

Solly Hemus was gone from baseball and working in the oil business in Houston long before I was born.

I know of him only because of his distinctive name, and because of the memorably vinegary assessment quoted above, which is attributed to him in Joy in Mudville, George Vecsey’s excellent book about the 1962-69 Mets.

Other sources confirm what this quote suggests: Hemus was something of a hothead. Or a bench jockey, or a pepperpot, or a fireball … call it what you will.

In his 17 years as a big-league player, coach and manager, Hemus was thrown out of games 31 times — leading the league three times.

That included seven ejections in 1959 alone, the year he took on the unusual role of player-manager with the St. Louis Cardinals. (The playing ended quickly. The managing lasted until July 1961, when the Cardinals sacked him in favor of future World Series winner Johnny Keane.)

On May 6, 1962, scarcely a month into the Mets’ first season, third-base coach Hemus became the new franchise’s first-ever ejection, when future Hall of Fame umpire Jocko Conlan ran him from a game in Philadelphia.

Retrosheet says Hemus got on Conlan’s case about breaking up a meeting on the pitcher’s mound; the New York Times article about the day’s game makes no mention. (Yes, I looked it up.)

Hemus, by Vecsey’s telling, was about the only coach who pushed for effort and improvement among the wreckage of the ’62 Mets. Apparently he still harbored hopes of landing another big-league managing job. Perhaps he was trying to position himself to the Mets’ senior leadership as the kind of energetic leader that septuagenarian Casey Stengel couldn’t be.

Unfortunately, not every crisis is an opportunity. Some of ’em are just crises.

In two seasons with the Mets, Hemus had a front-row seat for some of the worst big-league baseball ever played, and whatever effort he put in seems to have made not the least bit of difference.

His experience with the Mets didn’t end his career — he coached with the Cleveland Indians in 1964 and ’65 — but it didn’t help him get hired as a big-league manager again, either. By 1969, when Major League Baseball added four new managing jobs (and the Mets won the World Series), Hemus had been out of organized ball for two years. He stayed there.

The hard-nosed, spit-and-polish sergeant assigned to the most bumbling unit of raw recruits is a stock comic character. (Many of us have encountered such people in person — at summer jobs, perhaps, or our first or second job out of school. Usually we learn to either throw them the occasional bone, or to altogether tune them out.)

Perhaps there was more to Solly Hemus than that. And perhaps he was right to demand more effort; Vecsey paints some of the early Mets as lackadaisical, more interested in their golf games than their day jobs.

Still, my imagination pictures Hemus the way it would picture an Army major who woke up one day to find himself attached to a circus instead of an infantry battalion.

It’s no wonder, I guess, that an early departure from the proceedings came to look awfully appealing from time to time.

The marvelous archive of old MLB radio broadcasts at the Internet Archive includes the second game of a Mets-Cardinals doubleheader from June 9, 1963, in which Solly Hemus gets tossed by second-base umpire Lee Weyer. Haven’t listened to it yet, but maybe this weekend will allow.

Jazz things.

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Every so often I find a chart in the ARSA online archive of local airplay charts that really makes me wish I could hear the station … and last night I found another.

(Am I instead required, tonight, to write about Tom Petty? Very well: Workmanlike; occasionally quite brilliant; admirably irreverent; supporter of peace in L.A.; possessor of an enviable assortment of delicious vintage guitars; never quite reached through the radio and changed my life, though “American Girl” came closest. Also, his anecdote about taking the stage to an arena full of people yelling “BROOOOOOOOCE” is one of the great rock n’ roll stories, and I’m glad I caught the documentary where he tells it, back in the days when I watched TV.)

So, yeah, back we go to the day after Christmas 1973, where WBJC-FM at the Community College of Baltimore stands ready to recount its “Favorite Jazz Things.”

No, really, that’s what the survey says: “Favorite Jazz Things.” And under that list are smaller lists for Jazz Picks, Jazz Extras and Jazz Singles.

I’m not entirely sure what differentiated the Jazz Things from the Jazz Picks from the Jazz Extras. From this distance it’s all one big groovy goulash.

And a goulash it is, with the playlist freely mixing most of the different flavors of jazz as it existed then.

There’s jumbly post-Bitches Brew outness, like Weather Report’s Sweetnighter … funky/soulful groove (Stanley Turrentine’s Don’t Mess with Mr. T) … way-out free blowing (John Coltrane’s Concert in Japan) … muscular fusion (Billy Cobham’s Spectrum) … Latin (two Gato Barbieri records) … solo piano (Mal Waldron on Steinway)Hammond (Brian Auger; Jimmy McGriff) … guitar (George Benson) and a little rootsy older stuff (Don Byas’s Midnight at Minton’s).

One thing I don’t see a lot of is Ellington or Basie-style big band — though I’m not an expert on that genre, so I’m probably overlooking somebody obvious on the list who fills the bill. Wiki says Maynard Ferguson used a big band on MF Horn III, so maybe that covers it.

Anyway: Take that mix. Add a certain low-budget feel around the edges (this is a community college station, let’s remember.) And then stir in a couple of earnest yet chill DJs, maybe about 7:30 or 8 p.m. some Saturday night.

It’s dark and cold outside. You’ve got nowhere to be (and in any event, you’re trying to make every gallon of gas go further). So you’re comfortably ensconced in your rowhouse, in a room lit only by the glow of your receiver, and probably a cigarette as well.

And the music keeps pouring — smooth and angular and soulful and thoughtful and gentle and throbbing. It’s all different, and yet it’s all connected by … something that’s all good even if you can’t quite give it a name.

It’s the best show in Baltimore, rivaled only by Mike Cuellar … and he won’t be back until April.

I’m going to have to poke around and see if any WBJC jazz airchecks survive; I tend to think not. (The station is still on the air, but specializes in classical now. That’s all well and good, and maybe I’ll take that trip some other day, but not tonight.)

Until then, here’s a taste of what the WBJC experience might have been like, minus the on-air talent. Bring your own smokes:

Deep in the darkest hour of a very heavy week.

Burnt out from the work week — I’m on my third beer, and I almost never have three since I started counting calories. (There was a lengthy walk between Nos. 2 and 3, and three will be all, thanks.)

I can always take refuge in (a) Seventies pop music and (b) anything having to do with upstate New York.

So I’ll pull up a seat and write a few words about the local radio playlist from WBUZ-AM of Fredonia for the week ending May 7, 1971. It’s one of five WBUZ surveys preserved in the invaluable ARSA database of local radio airplay charts.

Where’s Fredonia? It’s on the far western edge of the state, a long spit from Lake Erie and the Pennsylvania border. It’s home to a state college, which I still think of as SUNY Fredonia even though many of the SUNY schools have taken other names since I was a kid. A couple of my high-school running buddies went there.

As for the station, I know nothing about WBUZ, although its Wiki entry and an Associated Press story tell interesting tales about how the station came to be inoperative. I’ll let you scope that out if you choose. (That’s more interesting than whatever I’m about to write, so I won’t fault you if you go.)

Anyway, my impressions of some of the tunes WBUZ was spinning that long-ago week:

31. The Mixtures, “Pushbike Song.” After reading about this one, I felt like I should have heard it before. Apparently it was Number One in Australia (the Mixtures’ home country) and No. 2 in the U.K.

Then I went to YouTube to put it on, and I felt like I had heard it before … because it’s pretty much the spirit and image of Mungo Jerry’s “In The Summertime.” (Mungo Jerry cut their own version of the song. Not sure if that was before or after The Mixtures, but The Mixtures had the big hit.)

Side note: Six years after The Mixtures were filmed riding a bike on the back of a truck through the streets of Melbourne, AC/DC was filmed riding a flatbed truck through the same city.

I can’t help but imagine Malcolm and Angus Young in 1971, seeing The Mixtures on the family telly, probably picking their noses, and thinking: “That’s dopey as hell … but y’know, if we ever get to be famous, there just might be something there.”

30. Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones, “Do It in the Name of Love.” According to Wiki, this was cut on Sept. 22, 1970, at the last-ever recording session of the “original Monkees” — though the original Monkees were down to Dolenz and Jones by that point, following the departures of Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith.

(Papa Nes, wearing his C&W Nudie suit, shows up further along the WBUZ chart at No. 27 with “Nevada Fighter.” It’s charming — the Hammond solo goes over a treat — but not, in my humble opinion, essential. Tork is completely absent; not sure what he was up to in the spring of ’71.)

Anyway, “Do It in the Name of Love” was released under Dolenz and Jones’s names in the States and the Monkees’ name abroad. If Wiki is correct, it failed to chart anywhere.

Which is kinda too bad. In between the Jackson 5ive, the Partridge Family and the Osmonds, ’71 was a vintage year for bubblegum, and this song holds its own pretty respectably in that company.

24. Salvage, “Hot Pants.” The opening lines about the switch from miniskirts to maxis are pretty great … and eventually the tune acquires the sort of bouncy strut that a song on this important subject ought to have.

But, while this one’s pleasant, it’s only the second-best song about hot pants ever … and while the Number One ain’t on the WBUZ survey, I’ve got to give it props here.

One, two, three, uhhhh!

20. Neil Young, “When You Dance I Can Really Love.” I’ve spent a lot of time listening to Neil over the years — even though I don’t blog about him that much, I think some of his albums are absolutely top-shelf essential.

Give me a crate to take to that mythical desert island, and Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Harvest, On The Beach, Zuma, Rust Never Sleeps, Re*Ac*Tor and Ragged Glory are probably all in it. (Time Fades Away might be in there too, if Neil would just re-release the damn thing and let me hear it properly.)

After the Gold Rush is probably supposed to be in that mix too. But while the critics adore it, I’ve never warmed to it. In my listening room, it doesn’t hit the same personal and universal notes that the other albums do.

I’ve always liked “When You Dance I Can Really Love,” though, which sets a classic Neil lyric (is he being Zen in his simplicity, or merely moronic?) against some great chugging-sparkling hollow-body Gretsch guitar abuse.

Who else would write a couplet like “I can love / I can really love / I can really love / I can love / I can really love / I can really love”?

18. Grand Funk Railroad, “Feelin’ Alright.” You might have heard that Laudir de Oliveira died last week. In addition to being a member of Chicago for six or seven years, de Oliveira was also one of the credited percussionists (playing conga, I believe) on Joe Cocker’s “Feelin’ Alright.”

Now, the percussionists on “Feelin’ Alright” aren’t often given credit for great sideman performances. I haven’t seen them spoken of the way that, say, Bobby Keys is revered for “Brown Sugar” or Raphael Ravenscroft is credited for “Baker Street.”

But maybe they deserve that kind of applause. Because, when you get down to it, Cocker’s “Feelin’ Alright” is pretty much a non-song without that churning, sludgy grind going on underneath.

What’s “Feelin’ Alright” sound like if you take the groove away?

Well …. yeah.

17. Stephen Stills, “Sit Yourself Down.” While this strains too hard toward gospel, its opening chords — and Stills’ gentle husk over them — have a warm resonance that draws me in. It sounds like they’re playing in a spare but comfortable wooden room, perhaps with a potbelly stove in the corner.

15. Sugarloaf, “Tongue in Cheek.” Speaking of Hammonds, the organ that made “Green-Eyed Lady” so wonderful does a remarkable disappearing act on this follow-up single. What’s left are guitars playing one of those riffs that anybody with six strings can think up, and that ain’t enough to keep this interesting.

Maybe the single version’s better.

12. Joy of Cooking, “Brownsville.” This simple, rolling-and-kicking shuffle must have made for a nice soulful break after the WBUZ DJ played “If,” “I Am … I Said,” “Sweet & Innocent,” “Put Your Hand in the Hand,” and “Never Can Say Goodbye” all in one long block.

Joy of Cooking is one of those long-gone bands I only know as a name; maybe I ought to investigate them further. (Christgau loved ’em, though what he got up to while the record was spinning ain’t nobody’s bidniss.)

3. Seatrain, “13 Questions.” Tight, zesty, hoedown-flavored pop, featuring a violin player who doesn’t have to play wild glissandos up and down the neck to get attention (though he does it anyway, just a little bit); a lead singer who got hired, at different times, by Bill Monroe and Jerry Garcia; and a producer who worked with the fookin’ Beatles.

I’m not sure why this band of Massachusetts hippies couldn’t crack the Top 40 (apparently this peaked at No. 49), or why “13 Questions” (in my experience, anyway) hasn’t stood the test of time in terms of continued airplay.

Just another failure Seventies America has to answer for, I guess.