First Pitch: Love on the Weekend

I buy vinyl records from a comic book store.

I buy comic books from a completely different comic book store.

There’s something funny about that, and when I get to the point where I can accurately describe it, I’ll be able to accurately describe to you how truly fucked up our late-stage capitalist economy actually is.

Until then, I’ll just say that I feel the need to explain why a niche baseball website will also be writing about comic books and music on the weekends.

*****

“KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell are all owned by Pepsi,” I casually blurted out, as if I was saying the sky is blue.

My classmates looked around at each other as if I said the sky was purple.

They wondered if that was true.

“He’s right,” my middle school history teacher confirmed.

My classmates wondered how I knew that.

I wondered how they didn’t know.

I wonder now how I knew then.

I grew up “gifted and talented.” I was placed in special programs in my Pennsylvania elementary school that allowed me to advance at my own pace. Math was my specialty. I would teach myself entire grades of math in a weekend. By the time my parents moved to a small town in Virginia in middle school, I was way ahead of my classmates in every category, especially math.

I eventually let my classmates catch up.

That sounds like a cocky thing to say, as if it’s older me going back and retrofitting a thought into younger me’s head. But it was literally the choice I made at the time, for that reason.

I wanted to be a kid, for the first time in my life.

*****

You know those tiny towns in Pennsylvania?

The ones on your way to State College or Altoona?

The ones where you can barely think to yourself “Who lives here?” before you’ve already driven completely past the entire town?

I lived there.

I was born in one of those towns.

It had a population of 300.

It still has one stop light in the entire town to this day.

I spent my first five years there.

There weren’t any kids my age.

There were a lot of adults, which allowed me enough attention to feel loved. At the end of the day, adults don’t want a child around all the time, which means I had even more time to myself.

I created worlds.

At first, they were different versions of our current reality.

There’s one story I don’t remember that my parents tell me, where I threw an absolute fit as my dad dropped me off at daycare around the age of four.

My dad got me out of the car, closed the door, and I hit the ground crying.

My dad had unknowingly just closed the entire Baltimore Orioles roster inside the back of his Volkswagen Beetle.

The only thing he could do to stop the crying was to open the door.

Four year old me wiped away the tears, and started listing the players exiting the car.

My parents were concerned that I actually saw the entire 1987 Baltimore Orioles roster in the back of their tiny car.

They had me tested, and it was revealed that I was brilliant, but bored.

You see, the first form of this Earth’s reality that I bent to my will during moments of boredom was baseball.

I did that for years. Baseball was my life. It was my obsession.

I would watch multiple games at a time. I could tell you stats off the top of my head, because I had scrolled through the print database in the newspaper every weekend and memorized the numbers.

My parents moved to the Altoona area when I was five. I found my first friends through baseball.

By the time we moved to Virginia in middle school, I was done with playing baseball. I knew I wouldn’t make it playing baseball, and didn’t really have any interest in playing the sport. I was interested in how the sport was run. I had moved onto a new thing called fantasy baseball. Unfortunately, there weren’t many people in small town Virginia playing fantasy baseball in the late-90s.

I spent a lot of time on the internet, which is how I knew about Pepsi owning everyone’s favorite fast food chains. I was always studying how things worked and how they were run. I was learning corporate structure and vertical integration strategies while my classmates were doing whatever kids in middle school were supposed to be doing as they were bonding over how to figure out the common school work in front of them. I was always friends with older kids in middle and high school, probably because I spent more time in classes with them than the people in my own grade.

I couldn’t explain math to anyone my age, because the answer just inexplicably came to me in my head.

I was reading a book a day, at least, which means I lived off of Book-It personal pan pizzas. It also meant that there was a daily blue line in English class on the top of the reading chart, showing how far ahead of everyone else I was in yet another subject. That line showed me reading hundreds more books than my classmates.

There were two things that made me feel like I was part of the crowd: Music and comic books.

I couldn’t fast forward in those categories. I couldn’t speed ahead and see how the X-Men would defeat Onslaught, and I couldn’t process Chris Cornell lyrics any faster than anyone else.

My database mind became as obsessed with music and comic books as I had previously done with baseball.

Now, I want to turn those into writing outlets, just as I did with baseball.

*****

It’s fitting that baseball became the backbone of my first bona fide career.

When that started crashing down on this site in 2018, I started thinking about what else I could do.

I know what I can do: Anything.

I knew what I wanted to do: I wanted to write.

My life has been a collection of written words on the internet, and at some point in the last few years, a real person emerged from this loquacious-version of ether-variant veracity.

This real person looked at his entire life — past, present, and future — the way Kang the Conqueror would study a timeline to find where things went wrong. Most importantly, the study was to find where, when, and how he could take over the world.

I’m a mad villain in a world that villainizes the virtuous.

All I want to do is give you an escape from your day-to-day grind, while stealing time from your company.

I want Pittsburgh Baseball Network to be an escape.

Baseball is an escape.

It’s the easiest escape to make, because baseball mirrors real life in ways that feel like a simulation is at play.

We’re all here to escape the real world for as long as possible, trying to capture that feeling that we all chase from the day we’re born: the feeling of being a kid.

Some of us have found a way of making a career of it, which is the best way I can describe a professional baseball player.

We all feel the feeling.

It’s the little flutter in your stomach when you watch the ball soar off the bat.

It’s the racing thoughts that go through your head as you watch it take flight.

It’s the build-up of anxiety behind your sternum, exploding out in an involuntary cheer as you watch the ball go over the wall.

No matter whether you’re watching from home plate, the dugout, the stands, the press box, or on TV at home, the feeling is the same.

The great unknown.

Awoken with a big bang.

Tracking direction and potential outcomes.

And no outcome is better than disappearing into the corn field.

Beyond the wall.

Poem of the Week

Just call me Shoeless Bran.

My Three Eyed Raven brain will eventually run this land.

And I’ll pass the duty onto someone who knows how to play the game.

First, making sure they won’t bring us more of the same.

Until then, I’m here to entertain.

Via baseball’s standard deviation step away from all life can claim.

For baseball is one of the things that brings us together.

Allowing us to see the same world in the same way as an entire community.

(Even when we disagree.)

One community is not enough for me.

Growing up with none, I won the ability to slip in and out of any that I see.

Imagine Jason Bourne on a baseball beat.

That’s not my identity.

Bores me when I think of that legacy.

Rest assured, baseball fun remains my number one priority.

But before my brain turns seniority, I want to unload my authority of various information into my own story.

So I’ll spend five days a week writing about the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Taking those final two days to myself so I don’t grow irate.

But my quest for information never satiates.

And when I turn to music and comics, time evaporates.

“Why not create a project out of the thing I love?”

That’s the question that got us all here.

I didn’t know who would want to hear.

Now I’m asking those questions about a different love.

Over the last few years, I’ve seen my destiny.

I’m the gatekeeper that transports you to other worlds from your current reality.

Like Heimdall, directing the Bifrost from Pittsburgh to wherever the minor league teams might be.

I’m really just a cocky asshole who strives to be the best you’ll ever see.

And I think you’ll see that five days of me gives you more if I’m free,

On those other two days to write about the worlds inside me.

It’s a novel idea that will take years to complete, and will make me complete.

It will also allow this site to compete with the billionaire-owned outlets that have the same bad baseball takes on repeat.

We’re all here to escape into the Baseball dimension.

None of you are here to listen to my pretention.

But I believe the greatest project I’ll ever do doesn’t involve baseball, and I need to give it some attention.

I have two other needs: Feedback and the need to entertain.

As my wife told me recently, simple and plain:

“You’ve spent your whole life trying to be the funny guy in the room, so no one will know you’re the smartest guy in the room.”

The smartest guy in the room knows he can spend his life giving you entertaining stories to consume.

We all need an escape.

And sometimes we need an escape from our escape of baseball.

Especially if you’re a Pittsburgh Pirates fan.

So, here’s my plan:

By 2024, I’ll have a book in the store.

Seven novels in total, finished in 2034.

I’ll take the residuals and make this site soar.

Until that first book arrives, I’ll just say,

It’s been two years away,

I can’t wait to watch the minor leaguers play.

It’s all I want to see.

Guaranteeing you’ll see more than a man’s share of baseball writing from me.

Song of the Day

Daily Links

**Game Recap: Pirates Lose Hayes, Game (Update on Ke’Bryan Hayes)

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**Pirates Alternate Site Roster

**The Pirates Can Spend More Than Any Team on Amateur Talent in the Next Year

**This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: April 3rd, Ryan Doumit and the Marvell Wynne Trade

**The 1952 Pittsburgh Pirates and Their Roster Filled with Youth

**1925 Pirate Replay, August 24: Pirates Stomp Giants to Take Series

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