Saturday, April 25, 2015

And Just As I Had Made Up My Mind to Adopt Them Both

The Orphanage closed its doors today.


I didn't get to hear much of the Orphanage or any of the handoffs today, just a few minutes'-worth, unfortunately.  A very few quick hits:

(1) Danny said in a kind of roundabout way at the beginning of the show that at this stage of his life he wants his Saturdays back, and that if they were going to have been fired it would have been done a long time ago.  I see no reason not to believe that the departure of The Orphanage was entirely voluntary, claimed overheard bar talk to the contrary notwithstanding.

(2) Jeff Catlin (stay tuned for more Jeff) has let it be known at The Ticket that he's will entertain proposals from younger Ticket guys to fill the 10-noon Saturday slot.

(3) Mike Sirois said that Cirque was offered that time slot and turned it down.  He said he had no idea what would replace the Orphanage.

(4) He also said that awhile back Cirque had been offered Sunday mornings, now occupied by The Shake Joint.  Cat, he recalled, had tried to sell it as the most desirable of the weekend slots.

(5) He called the Sunday morning show "the little analytics guys" and did not mention the show or its hosts by name.

(6) He also suggested that the ability to attract remotes was important to the profitability of the weekend shows.

*     *     *

I understand why some people didn't care for the Orphanage, but I really liked it.  Are Danny and Davey sort of clinging to an adolescent-to-mid-twenties lifestyle that sometimes fit oddly on men approaching the half-century mark?  Sure -- but geez, I'd like to go back to those times and live like that again myself if I could.  I don't begrudge either of them the time or lifestyle choices to allow them to keep up with current music, hit the clubs, play in bands, open bars (and close them), thumb their noses at critics, and make jokes on the radio. 

And they handled it with enough self-deprecation to suggest that they knew they were in on the joke, in fact, kind of were the joke, and were OK with it.

So I found those two very agreeable company on Saturday mornings.  They're guys I'd hang out with if I were cool enough or famous enough and I'm neither, so what?  I want to be entertained while I'm doing my Saturday errands or working out in the field, and they never failed to do that. 

So I very much regret that when the announcement came, I was not holding my butt.  Orphanage, RIP.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Stay Hard, Donnie

No, Donovan Lewis isn't going anywhere to the best of my knowledge.

During the 5:30 segment this morning -- a woefully underheard segment in The Ticket Day -- The Musers bade farewell to Donnie The Overnight Board Op.

I was in the shower at the time.  They mentioned his last name but I couldn't hear it and I can't find it on the Internets, and I also missed their identification of his new job.  I don't even know if I'm spelling "Donnie" correctly.

He's been doing 10p-6a for the last five-and-a-half years, succeeding the late Joel Jenista and trained by Jake Kemp and the legendary Michael Gruber.

Would one of our Ticket Guy readers please drop a comment with correct information on this Ticket stalwart?

Although Gordon hailed him as "the nicest guy at The Ticket," my abiding memory of DTOBO is one day when he tore angrily into the studio about ready to disassemble Gordon for one or another transgression.  And indeed, Gordon's historical Gordonesque mistreatment of him was mentioned.  All seems now to be forgiven.

Unrelated to text of post.  Just a parting gift to Donnie.
In any event, best of luck to Donnie The Overnight Board Op in his new position.

Welcome to the daytime.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Two Positive Hardline Quick Hits for a Change to Freshen Up the Thread

(1) Loved Mike's rant yesterday on Rangers Opening Day.  I don't understand why we can't get that level of engagement, if not outright passion, much more frequently from him.

(2)  I also enjoyed what I heard of the Corby/Mike Sirois "Masters Preview".  Would love to hear more specialty programming like that after 7 pm.  Did this get any promotion at all prior to broadcast?

Sorry for the undernourished post and otherwise low profile lately.  I hope to be back to a more regular schedule sometime within the next few weeks.  In the meantime, if you have some extended remarks you'd like me to consider, instead of commenting why don't you pop them into an email and maybe I'll feature them in a post?  If I don't I'll run them as a comment.

Thanks for continuing to check in.

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sorry, It's Just Quick Hits

Sorry I've been away.  It's going to continue for awhile.

I teased a coming Scorching Ticket Disquisition in the comments to the last thread.  This is not it.  I'm rethinking it.

I had heard something that made me a little angry but mostly sad and I shut off the radio and didn't turn it back on.  It was a Hardline segment a couple of weeks back.

But I found myself agreeing with one of the later comments on the last thread that there's been a lot of Hardline-bashing on MTC lately.  Too much, probably.  Mostly deserved, in my judgment, but yeah, I am getting a little tired of it.  Although THL seems to be bouncing back in the ratings -- not back to its previous lofty position compared to the competition, but doing better.  However, I have to agree -- while THL has its moments, and it's still my go-to PM drive diversion, overall it is a show in noticeable decline.

So I'm thinking crud-a-mighty, if the show is irritating me to that degree, what's the point of listening?  Who's going to be interested in a blog called "My Muser Confession, with Intermittent Mentions of Norm and BaD?  Not even me.

Having said all that, I decided not to pile on just yet.  And I'm not making any rules about "no Hardline/Mike/Corby shots," but let's try to find something else to talk about.

You can post about T.C. if you want, or Jake, but that's getting pretty tiresome too, unless you have a specific point to make.  I reserve the right to decide that something's just a naked shot or the same jamoke saying the same thing over and over and not worth the pixels.

So for now, I'll just quick hit some notes I've made over the past little while, some Ticket-relevant, some not very, some falling into the "listening/watching too hard" category, which tendency of mine seems to upset this site's Reddit critics.

(1)  For you Twitter followers:  Apologies once again for the hack.  I got infected through a message from one of the founders of this site's success, former Ticket Traffic Twist Barb Smith.  It was a message that some post about me or this site on a linked page was "nasty."  Although it was somewhat surprising to hear from Barb again, it was not a crazy thing to imagine considering the bile directed our way lately on Reddit and elsewhere.  So I took the bait clicked on the link.  And I'm guessing some of you did, too.  Thus completing the hack.

(2)  I love Gordon's Troy Aikman imitation when George's Fake Michael Irvin calls him up.  Very dry, very understated, very Troy-like.  Witty in an understated way, love it when Gordon gets less Keithly and lets the gag emerge from the character rather than the writing.   There are probably some interesting politics there, after Gordon's ill-advised interrogation of Troy on one of his call-ins that got him in trouble.  In any event, it's really good, as is George's Irvin.

(3) As if The Hardline didn't have enough trouble, it is the Musers' car-leasing pals at, of course, D&M Auto Leasing that have won the DealerRater Dealer of the Year Award in Auto Leasing.

(4)  WATCHING TOO HARD:    There's something disturbingly off about that Mark Cuban AT&T ad with the adorable Lily Adams (portrayed by Milana Vayntrub).  I don't think they shot that scene together.  He towers over her and doesn't seem to be looking at her when he's speaking to her, but instead something off in the middle distance.  Could be cue cards, I suppose.  But then at the end, where she tells him what a swell negotiator he is, they reach out to shake hands -- as if to establish, awkwardly, that they are having a real conversation in a single filmed scene.  But before they touch hands, the shot cuts away to behind and to the right of Cuban -- or is it?   It does look something like his profile, but it is far from clear.  Also, in the shots framed from directly in front of them, they're standing much further apart than they are in the shots from behind the Cuban figure.  I'm guessing they shot their parts at different times.  I need a hobby.  Other than this one.

(5)  LISTENING TOO HARD:   There's a Ticket ad where Conrad uses a word that gets beeped out, and the word is "assholes."  But they've screwed it up -- Conrad uses a long "a" before the beep is edited in, and then after the beep you hear the "s" sound.  The problem is that, if The Hardline is any indication, "ay-holes" is permissible, but "assholes" is not.  But the latter has a short "a" sound.  So it makes no sense to pretend to censor "ay-holes."  The beepout would only make sense if the first vowel sound you hear is a short "a."

(6)  George Dunham now mispronounces the names of two shows on The Ticket.  Norm Hitzges (George has said "Hitchges" for as long as I can remember, and I believe we have established that this is not a bit), and now he's calling Mike and Cash's show "Cirque de Sirois."  He's not the only one, but come on -- learn now to pronounce the names of the hosts and shows on your station.

(7) Gordon no longer maintains his blog.  I'm not sure when he quit.  But I clicked over to it the other day.  There's a nice photo of him after the "you are loved" screen.  Check out the threads.  Very interesting that he labels himself "writer, broadcaster," in that order.    And that fountain pen in one hand and some hard copy under his arm.  He's been writing!  And increasingly, I think that's the way he sees himself and where he sees himself ending up when The Musers pull the plug.  He was short-listed -- very short-listed -- for a Pulitzer for one of his News columns, and I'll bet he's thinking that journalism, not performance, is where he'll make his name for the ages when the Ticket run breathes its last.

(8)  All-Pro Foundation Repair is once again claiming it is mathematically impossible for its piers to fail.  This gives me the opportunity to say once again how this concept terrifies me and to link to a post that is one of my personal favorites:  All-Pro and the End of the Universe

(9)  Can Applebee's possibly think that its bar menu has, or will ever, inspire rounds of friendly betting on bar-menu-related games, or that it can persuade consumers of it?

(10) I don't want to get to heavily into the Cowboys cynical signing of Greg Hardy, but I will share this one thought:  Smacking women around is really, really bad.  And something we should all be worried about and condemning.  But if you were a Niffle owner, wouldn't you be a trifle more worried about the fact that the victim testified that Hardy threw her on a bed covered with 30 loaded guns, "assault weapons and shotguns"?  The judge made him produce those weapons, which included a Tavor SAR, L1A1 Sporter, POF P-415, ISSC MK-22, SSAR SBS, ISSC MK-22, Highlander, Century Arms Inc. AK 149, Mossberg 590, and Benelli M-4.  I would be less worried about having hired another Ray Rice than a future Aaron Hernandez. 

There's just something about those old Chevy pickups.

(11)  Anyone else get sad listening to those Dallas Stars ads talking only about Tyler Sagan "putting the league on notice," etc.?  Putting the league on notice of what?  That the Stars only have one notable player and remain pretty much beneath notice as a serious professional franchise?

[Comments to this site are moderated.  

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And look, guys:  If you wonder why your comment didn't make it through, you MUST send me an email.  There is no way for me to respond to comments other than on this site, because I don't have your email.  I will tell you what my answer is likely to be:  Read The Rules of the Confessional.  You probably took a shot at a commenter or group of commenters, probably accused some Confessor of being some other Confessor, or something equally transgressive.  


Saturday, March 14, 2015

bubba begs somewhat to differ

Confessor bubba had some thoughts at variance with Larry in Mowry's.  I'm not sure they're contrary, but bubba does pitch matters a little differently.  He thought they might work as a post, and I did too.

I am delighted to receive proposed posts from Confessors.  However, if you want to suggest some text for a post, please send them as emails and not as comments.  It is easier for me to handle them that way.   If I like your submission but decide not to use it as a post, I'll stick it in a comment myself with attribution if it meets the Rules of the Confessional (link at bottom of this post).  So one way or the other you'll get published.  Thanks.

I'm hopeful to have Larry in Mowry's exegesis on ESPN's offerings sometime soon.  

I have edited bubba's text very lightly for cleanup and clarity.

*     *     *

Back to Larry's main comments re: the Fan/Fail (to be referred to as the ‘F’ in this post for ease) and the way it has so effectively ripped from the Ticket as to make it their own  --  I disagree. And by that I mean no disrespect.

Yes, they have done a decent job of the whole "guys talking guy stuff in addition to sports," but their station totally lacks the thing that makes the Ticket so unique (and nearly impossible to copy):  a steady, long-term relationship with its listeners.

Maybe they will get there at some point, but that rapport takes years to build.

Just look at this blog and others (unTicket, reddit etc) as an example. What other radio station (anywhere) has enough dedicated listeners to put together multiple sites in which all they discuss is all things related to that station? We’re like a bunch of women gossiping about "The Bachelor" or some soap opera for heaven's sake.

And the ways that relationship was built will not be easily duplicated (by the F or anyone). The inside jokes that take months or years to get up to speed on as a listener, the vast library of drops, the way you feel a kinship with each host in some personal way (which requires a steady hosting lineup over long periods of time), the way the hosts and the whole station laugh at themselves and celebrate their own mediocrity.

I truly don’t think we will see another station/relationship like this in our lifetimes. Which I guess is kind of distressing in itself. What will we turn to when/if the beloved Little One is no longer?

Does the Ticket have problems? Absolutely. I don’t disagree with what people are saying about their complacency nor the need for Corby to back off/Mike to step up and for the web site to get out of the 90s. But to worry that the F will be able to supplant the relationship the Ticket has with its P1s seems a bridge too far (though why doesn’t someone at the Ticket use some version of the ‘F text’ during shows? It would be easy to do and it’s a great tool).  

The main thing the Ticket needs to worry about is NOT the F or ESPN taking their place. They need to worry about staying relevant and bringing the next generation of P1 into the fold. Because if they can’t create a relationship with the new P1 like they have with us, then all they have is "guys talking with guys about sports," and THAT’S where the F and ESPN could have an in. In fairness to Larry, he hammers this point home as well.

I am pretty comforted by the fact that BaD could easily take over for THL when Mike hangs it up, and there are several good choices to fill after noon (TSJ, Sirois). Norm is virtually irreplaceable from a knowledge/chops standpoint, but his time slot isn’t as important and can be filled with current talent. But when the Musers hang it up, especially if it’s near Mike’s retirement, then we’ll really need to hold on to our butts. Here’s to hoping things change organically enough that the Little One remains relevant for us and the next generation of P1 long into the future.  

Likely not bubba

Likely not relevant to bubba's post

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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Hello, Larry

A week or so back an Anonymous Confessor who later identified himself as Larry in Mowry (love it) submitted a three-part comment.  (He said he had commented in the distant past, but was recently inspired by the uptick in comment quality.)   Many of his observations will have been made by Confessors from time to time, but I thought the presentation was original and thoughtful and the writing colorful.  I'm going to give you all three parts here, so it will go on a bit.  I have edited very slightly for for clarity.

I was purposely flipping between TSJ and The FAN this morning. Heard an interesting B&S ad: "Two best friends who grew up in Richardson and who relate to you...The Ben and Skin Show." Those weren't the exact words, but damn near. Obviously it's a double-edged sword strike. 

     --  1. "THL doesn't get you anymore, they're too big time." 

     --  2."We're like The Ticket and THL used to be; we live like/where you do, think like you do, have the same problems you do." 

Maybe I'm a sucker, but I thought it was a pretty effective commercial. There was another spot that touted K&C Masterpiece being "guys like you and your buddies," and one more about how The FAN has more local programming than the other two stations. Again, me, a sucker?, perhaps; but I found them effective.

Overall I've tried to give The FAN a fair amount of listening the past few weeks--during all hours of the weekdays/nights and weekend days/nights. In full disclosure, I'm a D1P1, so yeah I'm biased towards The Ticket, even if I'm trying my best not to be. Having said that:

Flat out, The Ticket is better than The FAN across the board where weekdays are concerned. Flat out. "No question," as Corby would say. I'd go as far to say that other than Mike Bacsik (Ticket ex-pat) and AT TIMES B&S (Ticket ex-pats), the shows and hosts are not good to plain awful. GBag, the show Bacsik is on, might be the worst of the lot (though he's solid). Then again New School might be the worst. But.

I can see why The FAN (I'm going to devote likewise listening time to ESPN for the next 2 weeks beginning Monday, so I'm not discussing them) has gained on and in some places tied or even surpassed The Ticket. Moreover I can see why this isn't a trend, why it'll most likely continue, and thus how we are probably witnessing, barring some big gestures by The Ticket, Rome fall. Not go away, mind you, but to no longer be an empire.

     -- 1. The FAN has, on every level, coopted damn near everything The Ticket does. This includes lingo, attitude, aping Ticket hosts, copying promotions and listener-love events such as Ticketstock and Summerbash, and damn near everything and anything else and in every possible way that makes The Ticket, The Ticket. They have been doing it long enough now that, they've gotten really really good at it. To the point that it sounds organic, seamless. It used to not be that way. However, they have hired enough Ticket ex-pats and have done enough homework, and have hired management types such as Gilbert and now Spittle who either helped shepherd The Ticket to its heights (Gilbert), or aped The Ticket to such a degree (and to such a success) in another market (Houston) that that station's hosts and listeners actually get pissed and think The Ticket has ripped them off (Spittle).

      --  2. I also heard the Corby "I love you Jeff (Staubach)" moment last week. That plays right into [the] B&S spot I heard. Frankly, the spot has a ring of truth to it. One thing I didn't hear from any FAN host was the self-promotion for one's band or the kickass concert seats/suite or being in some local celeb's suite for the Mavs or Stars game or about hanging/texting/chatting with local musician celeb A, B, or C. You might hear a sports figure's name dropped. But it's always tied into the sports topic at hand, and not in a personal "my close friend/running buddy"kind of way like we find on The Ticket (mostly THL, to be fair).

      --  3.While the guy talk aspect of the equation is definitely a player on The FAN, sports takes precedence. Other than Norm and to some extent BaD (at least for the B side of BaD), it's the other way around at The Ticket. I know this is going to sound crazy to the bit lovers out there, but the majority of sports-guy talk listeners tune in primarily for sports talk.

      --  4. Signal. Signal. Signal. You can hear The FAN anywhere in the DFW area and even into the vast hinterlands. The Ticket, not so much. The FM signal is not good. It's better in some places, worse in others. Indeed it's the perfect counterpart to its AM sister.

      --  5. "I" know who CBS is, what's a Cumulus Station?

      --  6. Website, apps, and web presence in general. The FAN = solid, industry standard job; Ticket = Y2K disaster did happen, but only to The Ticket -- which never recovered.

Final Analysis: [LiM is engaging in a little theater of the mind here; he's a D1P1, recall.  Sorry for the overexplaining.] I'm new in town/I'm 15-16 and discovering sports radio.   Hmmm. OK. Here's a CBS station called The FAN. I know what CBS is, and hell, it's the station that comes in the best. They have the Cowboys and the Rangers. If there was another station, I've never been able to pick it up where I live, or not very well. Wow. These guys speak to me. They're besties from Richardson who dig what I dig and have the same problems I have (maybe not the young "discovering" listener). They have cool listener appreciation gatherings. Etc. Oh, I finally found out about and gave The Ticket a try. I don't know, their supposedly badass show, THL, does nothing but gossip like my wife or gf with her friends about tv shows and Hollywood and talk out of their asses about everything they have no knowledge on (and about music like a teenager or college student does) .  .  .  and has no interest in talking about what they actually know, or are supposed to know (sports and everyday mundane guy crap). Besides, both stations sound just alike in lingo and for the most part in presentation. Except The FAN breaks at regular intervals and has more content per hour.

Then you have the Ticket listener, from D1P1 to P1 to P2 who, after having been kicked out of the treehouse so to speak by the cool kids, says "I'll try something else for a while," and finds out that yes, The FAN isn't as good on the whole, but the dialogue and language itself is familiar; and you know what? they actually seem to want me in their club. These guys are dealing with the same bulsh I am. We're all sitting in Section 233 at the Stars game, having some beers, having a good time.

The Ticket IS a much better station. But The Ticket is in trouble. Not sure if they can fix it. One thing is for sure, they did it all to themselves.

Not Larry in Mowry
*     *     *

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

LEAKED: From Mike R's Inbox

From a remote Cumulus information technology administrator, exclusive to My Ticket Confession:


TO: (mike_rhyner)

FROM: (jeff_catlin)

DATE:      March 2, 2015

SUBJECT:   Some Thoughts from Bruce

Hey, OGW, hope you're staying warm. 

Listen, you know BG stopped by the station a few weeks back on his "grand tour" of the Cumulus sports talkers.  Great to see him again, hope he got a chance to stop by the show by to shake your hand.  Looks great, dunnee?! 

He told me he was going to have a few thoughts for us after hanging in Dallas and talking to people and driving around listening to the station for a few days, said he'd drop me a line.  Got a note from him this morning.

Turns out, he's got a little homework for you.

He's jotted down a few phrases he'd like you to study carefully and start working them in during the broadcast.  Actually, he used the phrase "tell Mike to memorize and use now."  May want to print this out and use it as a cheat sheet.

Look, man, I know you're the godfather, the founder of the feast, the inventor of sports radio in Dallas.  Gotta tell you, though, with respect, this sort of isn't a suggestion.  You know how a boss can sometimes throw something out that looks like some kind of random shit but you know it really isn't?  This is like that.  Gotta do this.  After these last two books our leverage with the parent to shuck the BS that usually comes from Atlanta ain't what it used to be.   Kinda under the microscope, ya know?

When I drove him back to Love he mentioned he was going to be popping in on iHeart to see how things were sounding. 

So you may want to start with this as soon as you've got them down, like today.

Cut and pasted this from BG's email.  Here are your phrases that pay from Bruce:

"Let me finish."

"Just hold on a minute before you start in."

"Look, I'm talking here."

"Jesus Christ, don't you ever stop talking?"

"Don't interrupt me, I'm saying something."

"This is my segment."

"Let me tell YOU something.  I was rockin' Gertie's and the Longhorn Ballroom all night and doing radio all day when you were just a glint off the bottom of a jigger of your pappy's Old Grand-Dad." 

"My turn here."

"Me taking a breath is not your cue to start talking."

"Here's the deal: I'll talk while you re-check that story you just found  on forty-seven seconds ago so you don't accidentally misreport that Jesus has returned or the sun has exploded or Taylor Swift has married Dwaine Caraway."

"You want to shut your mic off there?"

"You know, it's absolutely amazing to me that What's On Mike's Mind is coming exclusively out of your mouth."

"Christ, even Bob Sturm has been known to let someone else talk for up to 12 seconds at a time."

"This is your quiet time." 

"Please, just  .  .  .  just  .  .  .  let me talk for awhile."

"I want my Hammer back.  That's not a drop."

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Those Lovely Words You're Hearing on The Ticket

There is an ad running now on The Ticket that features a man reading a lovely passage about baseball.  Right, the one about the sun "on the back of your neck forever."

If one of the shows has discussed this, apologies for this rerun.  I haven't heard them talk about the man.

The man is A. Bartlett Giamatti.  He published those words, and many other lovely ones, in the Yale Alumni Magazine in 1977, around the time he became Yale's President.  Later on, of course, he became Commissioner of The Great Game, his tenure cut tragically short after only a few months, and only days after he negotiated Pete Rose's exit from baseball.

He was a lifelong Red Sox fan.

The name of the essay is "The Green Fields of the Mind."  I am probably violating his estate's copyright by pasting it here, but until somebody makes me take it down, I share it with you.   Share it with a baseball-loving friend.  

*     *     *

     It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops. Today, October 2, a Sunday of rain and broken branches and leaf-clogged drains and slick streets, it stopped, and summer was gone.
     Somehow, the summer seemed to slip by faster this time. Maybe it wasn’t this summer, but all the summers that, in this my 40th summer, slipped by so fast. There comes a time when every summer will have something of autumn about it. Whatever the reason, it seemed to me that I was investing more and more in baseball, making the game do more of the work that keeps time fat and slow and lazy. I was counting on the game’s deep patterns, three strikes, three outs, three times three innings, and its deepest impulse, to go out and back, to leave and to return home, to set the order of the day and to organize the daylight. I wrote a few things this last summer, this summer that did not last, nothing grand but some things, and yet that work was just camouflage. The real activity was done with the radio—not the all-seeing, all-falsifying television—and was the playing of the game in the only place it will last, the enclosed green field of the mind. There, in that warm, bright place, what the old poet called Mutability does not so quickly come.
     But out here, on Sunday, October 2, where it rains all day, Dame Mutability never loses. She was in the crowd at Fenway yesterday, a grey day full of bluster and contradiction, when the Red Sox came up in the last of the ninth trailing Baltimore 8–5, while the Yankees, rain-delayed against Detroit, only needing to win one or have Boston lose one to win it all, sat in New York washing down cold cuts with beer and watching the Boston game. Boston had won two, the Yankees had lost two, and suddenly it seemed as if the whole season might go to the last day, or beyond, except here was Boston losing 8–5, while New York sat in its family room and put its feet up. Lynn, both ankles hurting now as they had in July, hits a single down the right-field line. The crowd stirs. It is on its feet. Hobson, third baseman, former Bear Bryant quarterback, strong, quiet, over 100 RBIs, goes for three breaking balls and is out. The goddess smiles and encourages her agent, a canny journeyman named Nelson Briles.
     Now comes a pinch hitter, Bernie Carbo, onetime Rookie of the Year, erratic, quick, a shade too handsome, so laid-back he is always, in his soul, stretched out in the tall grass, one arm under his head, watching the clouds and laughing; now he looks over some low stuff unworthy of him and then, uncoiling, sends one out, straight on a rising line, over the center-field wall, no cheap Fenway shot, but all of it, the physics as elegant as the arc the ball describes.
     New England is on its feet, roaring. The summer will not pass. Roaring, they recall the evening, late and cold, in 1975, the sixth game of the World Series, perhaps the greatest baseball game played in the last fifty years, when Carbo, loose and easy, had uncoiled to tie the game that Fisk would win. It is 8–7, one out, and school will never start, rain will never come, sun will warm the back of your neck forever. Now Bailey, picked up from the National League recently, big arms, heavy gut, experienced, new to the league and the club; he fouls off two and then, checking, tentative, a big man off balance, he pops a soft liner to the first baseman. It is suddenly darker and later, and the announcer doing the game coast to coast, a New Yorker who works for a New York television station, sounds relieved. His little world, well-lit, hot-combed, split-second-timed, had no capacity to absorb this much gritty, grainy, contrary reality.
     Cox swings a bat, stretches his long arms, bends his back, the rookie from Pawtucket who broke in two weeks earlier with a record six straight hits, the kid drafted ahead of Fred Lynn, rangy, smooth, cool. The count runs two and two, Briles is cagey, nothing too good, and Cox swings, the ball beginning toward the mound and then, in a jaunty, wayward dance, skipping past Briles, feinting to the right, skimming the last of the grass, finding the dirt, moving now like some small, purposeful marine creature negotiating the green deep, easily avoiding the jagged rock of second base, traveling steady and straight now out into the dark, silent recesses of center field.

      The aisles are jammed, the place is on its feet, the wrappers, the programs, the Coke cups and peanut shells, the detritus of an afternoon; the anxieties, the things that have to be done tomorrow, the regrets about yesterday, the accumulation of a summer: all forgotten, while hope, the anchor, bites and takes hold where a moment before it seemed we would be swept out with the tide. Rice is up. Rice whom Aaron had said was the only one he’d seen with the ability to break his records. Rice the best clutch hitter on the club, with the best slugging percentage in the league. Rice, so quick and strong he once checked his swing halfway through and snapped the bat in two. Rice the Hammer of God sent to scourge the Yankees, the sound was overwhelming, fathers pounded their sons on the back, cars pulled off the road, households froze, New England exulted in its blessedness, and roared its thanks for all good things, for Rice and for a summer stretching halfway through October. Briles threw, Rice swung, and it was over. One pitch, a fly to center, and it stopped. Summer died in New England and like rain sliding off a roof, the crowd slipped out of Fenway, quickly, with only a steady murmur of concern for the drive ahead remaining of the roar. Mutability had turned the seasons and translated hope to memory once again. And, once again, she had used baseball, our best invention to stay change, to bring change on.
     That is why it breaks my heart, that game—not because in New York they could win because Boston lost; in that, there is a rough justice, and a reminder to the Yankees of how slight and fragile are the circumstances that exalt one group of human beings over another. It breaks my heart because it was meant to, because it was meant to foster in me again the illusion that there was something abiding, some pattern and some impulse that could come together to make a reality that would resist the corrosion; and because, after it had fostered again that most hungered-for illusion, the game was meant to stop, and betray precisely what it promised.
     Of course, there are those who learn after the first few times. They grow out of sports. And there are others who were born with the wisdom to know that nothing lasts. These are the truly tough among us, the ones who can live without illusion, or without even the hope of illusion. I am not that grown-up or up-to-date. I am a simpler creature, tied to more primitive patterns and cycles. I need to think something lasts forever, and it might as well be that state of being that is a game; it might as well be that, in a green field, in the sun.