The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Joe Carter’

Billy goat begone!

Posted by keithosaunders on November 3, 2016


For the first time in my life — for the first time in anyone’s life – the Cubs have won the World Series.  On the way they overcame a  3-1 deficit in games, the last two being on the road, and a delicate genius, hands-on manager who did everything in his power to sabotage his team’s victory.

This was the worst managed Series deciding game I have ever seen.  Joe Maddon is one of these managers, from the Tony LaRussa school, who likes to let you know he’s in the dugout running things.  He pulled starter, Kyle Hendricks, out of the game too soon, attempted a squeeze with two strikes and one out where a fly ball would have scored a run, and had burned Aroldis Chapman needlessly in game 6 so that he had nothing left for game 7 when he really needed him.

Terry Francona, on the other hand, stuck with his starter, Corey Kluber, too long.  Kluber, who has been pitching on short rest throughout the series was running on fumes.  Francona had fresh arms on the bench – Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer — and he chose to stick with Kluber.

Still, it was one of the great Series games, packed with drama and tension and I was glad to have seen it. In fact, I stumbled into a windfall.  When I arrived at my solo gig I found that the game was on their TV.  The owner asked me if I would mind waiting for it to end before beginning to play.  Suppressing a grin I said, “Well…I suppose,” while thinking, ‘Oh baby!’ By the time the game ended my gig was over.  I ended up playing three and a half tunes during the game’s rain delay.

Years ago I had missed the greatest World Series ending of all time while at one of my gigs – the Joe Carter walkoff home run in 2003.  I was prepared to miss another classic, telling myself I could take it and that nothing could be as bad as 1993.  But the truth is I would have been upset to miss this game.  It was a great game despite the momentum-killing booth reviews, the incessant droning of Joe Buck, and the perpetual pitcher-changes.

Now  on to football!

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Of the Saints, 49ers, and Joe Carter.

Posted by keithosaunders on January 16, 2012

It’s been a great playoff season.  Who could have predicted that when the smoke cleared there would be two coaches named Harbaugh in the Championship game, as well as a Giants team who on December 4th had lost four in a row, and at 6-6 looked like an afterthought.  The Patriots success could have been predicted, but on the other hand, they have one of the more porous defenses in NFL history to have advanced this deep into the playoffs.

On Saturday I settled into my living room to watch the 49ers/Saints game.  Living in the Bay Area and being a sports talk-radio devotee, I had spent the previous week being hyped into a frenzy, and by midday Saturday I was frothing at the mouth awaiting the game.

The radio hosts and the callers had confounded me with their near unanimous confidence in the 49ers ability to take down the scoring machine that is the Saints offense.  To me it seemed like homer-ism run amok.  Their team has a mediocre quarterback and had played a soft schedule.

In New York, even when the Giants have great teams, this kind of blanket cockiness never exists.  There is always a healthy dose of skepticism and people more or less expect the worst to happen.

I have a theory about this.  New York has largest Jewish population of any metropolitan area in the world.  Nobody knows suffering like the Jews do, and the feeling of facing insurmountable hardships seeps into the collective psyche of the city.  Every gentile in New York knows a little Yiddish.

The Hebraically challenged Bay Area does not know from such suffering, ergo they are blithely spared such bouts of negative thinking.  They can’t imagine anything bad happening.

Contrarian that I am, I was quietly savoring watching the ‘Friscans being served a generous helping of humble pie.  The game began and you could see immediately that the 49ers defense was all that it was advertised.  Still the Saints defense held their own, shutting down the Niners offense for most of the second and third quarter.

By the fourth quarter two things were painfully apparent:  First, it was going to be a great ending, and second, because of my Saturday night gig, I would have to leave sometime during the fourth quarter.

I left with the 49ers ahead with six minutes to go in the fourth quarter.  By the time I had reached the Bay Bridge the Saints had taken their first lead of the game.  Midway across the bridge the 49ers grabbed the lead back with a brilliant Harbaugh call of an Alex Smith bootleg.

By now I was beginning to do the slow burn, grinding my teeth and muttering the name, Joe Carter under my breath.  (In 1993 I missed the one of the greatest World Series ending of all time — a Joe Carter walk-off home run)

I was over the bridge and driving south on Folsom when the Saints retook the lead on a 66 yard Drew Brees pass to tight end, Jimmy Graham.


By now I was desperately searching for a bar where I could pull over and watch the final minute and a half of the game.  The sports gods rewarded me with a bar and a parking spot, and I ran in to see the winning 49er drive.  At least I can say I saw the end of what will surely be remembered as one of the greatest playoff games of all time.

I was unprepared for what would happen next.  It was more of a delayed reaction, really, as if the city was on seven second delay.  It was as if the city took a collective deep breath and held it for five minutes.

Then bedlam.  People began streaming out of bars shouting with delight, cars were honking and drunk girls were screaming like banshees.  This went on for two hours.  It was like V-J day.  I realize it was a game for the ages, but come on,  San Francisco, act like you’ve been there before.  It’s not even the championship game!

The thing is, they have been there — THEY’VE WON FIVE SUPER BOWLS!

Now the 49ers will face my team, the Giants.  I have no doubt that every Bay Area resident is rubbing his or her palms together in glee, thinking, “Oh baby, it’s in the bag!”  But unless I miss my guess, I think they’re in for a rude awakening come Sunday.  Talmud, after all, is a dish best served cold.



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Hall of shame: A gig that will live in infamy

Posted by keithosaunders on July 25, 2010

And now for one of my all time gigging lowlights.  The year was 1993.  America had just elected a president from Hope, Arkansas, gas was $1.16 a gallon, and a little corner of the internet known as the World Wide Web was born at CERN.  In sports, the Dallas Cowboys romped over the Buffalo Bills in Superbowl XXVII while the Chicago Bulls completed their first 3-peat of the decade with a 4 games to 2 victory over the Phoenix Suns. 

Back in those halcyon days I played in a club date band led by an eccentric drummer named Ronnie Allen.  Club date, of course, is a misnomer.  East coast musicians refer to any gig that is an affair — wedding, bar mitzvah,  or party —  as a club date.  West coast musicians call these gigs casuals, (equally misnamed) while Canadians call it “jobbing.”

Ronnie was a nice enough guy but he was a nickle and dimer.  Your check would arrive in the mail [late] and it would invariably be five or ten dollars short.  You would have to call him and ask him to make up the difference, which he would, but in the meantime you had expended a lot of needless energy. 

Ronnie had these corny catch phrases that he would employ at the end of various songs.  If it was a lively tune he would shout out, “That was better than a Jane Fonda work out!”  After a latin song he would say “Schaeffer is the one beer to have when you’re only having one.”  In Spanish.  If you were playing a 50s song he wanted to make sure that you knew what the ending was.  Right before the completion of the song he would look at you and scream in rapid fire, “Bah-bah-bah-bah-bah-bah!”  This was his universal signal to play a triplet ending.  He looked like a Mongolian psychopath but it seemed to work for him.  Suffice it to say there was nary a dull moment around Ronnie.  You couldn’t turn around without finding him beside you, telling you what to play or do next.

All of this was fine.   These were his gigs, and apart from shorting us on the money he could do with them what he pleased.  As it happened I was on a gig with Ronnie and his big band on October 23rd, 1993, the day that the Philadelphia Phillies played the Toronto Bluejays in game 6 of the World Series.  

We were at a private club in Princeton, New Jersey playing a black tie affair for their alumni association.  By the way, don’t think that this is impressive.  As a musician you have to wear a tux at almost every club date you play.  All it means to us is that it will be harder for to get at the hors d’oeuvres since the uniform brands us as band or waiter.   

Upstairs from where we were playing there was a lounge with a TV tuned to the Series game.  During our breaks we would go upstairs and watch what we could until we had to retreat back to the bandstand.  In the 7th inning the Phillies fought back from a 5-1 deficit to take a 6-5 lead.  I can recall seeing most of this comeback on one of our breaks. 

On our final break we went back upstairs to see if the Phillies could close it out to force a game 7.  God did I want them to hold on to that lead.  I would have been able to watch the deciding seventh game from the comfort of my living room sofa without a bandstand in sight.

The Phillies brought in their erratic closer Mitch Williams to pitch the 9th.  He allowed a walk and got the next hitter to fly out before giving up a single to Paul Molitar.  Each pitch seemed to take minutes to deliver.  I stood in silent agony and endured endless meetings at the mound with catchers, infielders, and coaches.  I knew that our break was close to ending — I was just praying that Ronnie would let it go just two more minutes.  Just…two…more….minutes….

“Gentleman.  It’s time to grace the bandstand.”


Couldn’t he, just this once, have taken a longer break?  We went downstairs and played to an empty room.  The entire party was watching the game.  Of course they were.  WE WERE ONLY 35 DAMN MILES FROM PHILLY!! 

So I’m thinking OK, Saunders, you missed the end of the game.  Fine.  Be cool.  Just let Williams get the last two outs.  Just go down nice and easy, Toronto.  Like the man says, “nice and easy does it every time.”  Just two outs.  Niiiiice and eaaaasy.  Easy does i….

Just then people began streaming down the stairs and I’m thinking, please God, no….please…

“What happened?!” I screamed at a passer-by. 

“Joe Carter just won the game with a two run homer!  It’s the greatest ending of a World Series ever!!”

And there you have it.  I missed it.  To this day I can’t hear the name Joe Carter without grinding my teeth.  My best friend has since given me a video tape of the game, but 17 years later I am unable to bring myself to watch it.  I’m not there yet.  

But you know, as much as I would like to, I cannot blame Ronnie.  You can’t fault a guy for doing his job.  These days, if I was leading a band I would do the same thing.  Notice how I say these days.  In those days I would have lost the gig before missing an ending of a World Series game.

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