Only Seat in the
by Christopher Dean Heine
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.
and Me (and Scott)
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
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
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.
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.
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.
dare ya,íĒ I said through my teeth, being the older brother
and much more emotionally resourceful with the F word.
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.
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.
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
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.