ISSUE #2          NOVEMBER, 2000
page 3 of 8

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Only Seat in the House
SPORTS by Christopher Dean Heine

editor's note: CDH will be writing a sports column every month for Blastitude from his tiny studio apartment in the rough-and-tumble East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. The apartment is so small, that outside his bed, the chair in front of his computer is indeed the only seat in the house.


Roger and Me (and Scott)
NEW YORK--One day when I was 12, my younger brother Scott, who emerged from Momís womb by landing a right-cross in the doctor's Mr. Hooper glasses, was growing tired of our somewhat passive-aggressive venue. We were arguing.  Like crazy. Spit cascading off our tongues and into one anotherís faces. The subject was a foul call that had just occurred during one of our innumerous,  two-on-one basketball games that were always set at the end of our long Nebraska farmerís driveway. One of my other younger brothers, Kent, still just a roly-poly squirt, was playing all-time offense. He backed one of us up during the argument. Who? I donít remember. He was still too small to truly matter.
         Scott and I reached a zenith that day in terms of intense, competitive gall. We were livid. Both absolutely right and reveling in the pockets of hatred all brothers hold for one another.  The pockets that can turn inside-out at any time, producing the kind of loud human drama that distracts cows from eating grass.
         You traveled. No, you traveled. Chicken shit! That was a clean block pussy! Oh yeah, what about that illegal pick you DIDNíT call just before? How many times are you going to push me in the back? Yeah . . . nice damn shot . . . why donít you fricking take it at me? Always shootiní outside like a girl.
         We would have said anything, done anything to piss all over the otherís ego.  Even if that meant retarding our own. After all, we were out for one anotherís blood. May the best brother win.
         However, after we had been yelling for minutes, Scott, holding the ball all the while with both hands, finally placed it in a single claw.  He felt it with all five finger tips, thinking and thinking as I screamed something over and over again . . . And then he cocked the ball back to the side of his head and over his right shoulder.  He had the look of an executioner who had just pulled the hammer back on his rifle. We stood toe to toe.
         ďI fucking dare ya,íĒ I said through my teeth, being the older brother and much more emotionally resourceful with the F word.
         Scott pulled the trigger almost immediately. My hands flung upward, but not in time. The ball concurrently smashed off my nose, eyebrows and lips before falling back into Scottís hands without ever touching the ground.
         Blood dropped out of my nostrils. I covered my face and heard him dribbling off. In my fatherís household, the oldest boy did not lay a finger on the younger ones, so Scott ran off dribbling and laughing hysterically in this melancholy high. He, deep down inside,  feared I would unleash an angry retaliation despite the wrath of Dad. I knew better. And so there I stood in the middle of Godís country, both hands on my bloody face, cursing with a head full of bees, thinking: Game fucking over. Dammit, I thought, somehow he just beat me.
          I tell you this little story because of --ha-ha -- Roger Clemens, who recently dredged up so much angst among the sporting press that one might guess Marlon Brando and Bobby Fischer had found smashing plastic surgeons and the two had reinvented themselves as sports columnists. Here's the windup....and the pi--hey, that's not a baseball!
          In case you missed it, Roger threw a severed baseball bat at Mike Piazzaís feet in Game 3 of the World Series.  The bat tumbled by, and outside perhaps a few splinters, missed him by two feet. It was the most emotionally clumsy moment in World Series history.  The broken bat someday will reside in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. In a glass case will sit the batís handle and its head, relics of post-modernismís widespread psychodramatics, a little Hell trophy in a mausoleum of gods.
          Piazza didnít know what hit him after the head rolled by. Roger went on to willingly strike him out. When Piazza walked away after gettiní Kíd, he looked spooked, beaten by a bigger power. His name was Roger, pizza head. After the game, Piazza said the bat incident ďwas almost surreal.Ē Yep.
But the larger story here lied in the fact that the Mets were down 2-0 and desperately needed to beat Roger. He responded with pure mastery and won.
          Who cares about the broken bat and Picassoís boyhood? Just look at that painting! He made the Metsí offense invisible for eight innings that night. It was all him. A self-portrait. He didnít give up a run. The Mets didnít ever feel like a threat. Rogerís fastballs sounded like they were coming out of an electric hammer. PICK-A! Strike one. PICK-A!  Strike two. PICK-A!  Yer out! By the fifth inning, the Mets could barely see a crack of light as their coffin door was getting sealed from head to toe. And of course, the Yankees went on to win the World Series rather easily.
          Please know that I hate the Yankees. And normally I donít really care one way or the other about Roger. But it bothers me that the New York papers and the national press spun him into the unforgivable prick next door. The ass hole we all know.  The guy who will do anything to win.  They made the bat THE STORY while largely choosing to ignore his great performance on the mound.
          Even with his history of beanballs and dumb demeanors, the editorial lynching of this great athlete was weak. So he threw a hairy baseball bat like your workmates usually throw jokes around. Recklessly and in bad taste. Big deal. No one got hurt. Heck, I didnít think it was fair at the time that my little brother threw the basketball in my face. But the Red Coats werenít particularly fond of the revolutionaries hiding behind trees either. Those wankers respect us now, donít they? Roger desired to win Game 3 more than anyone on the field that night. What a fine pitcher! Game over.
          At least thatís the way it looks from where I sit. The only seat in the house.



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