Happy Tuesday Everyone!
Sorry for the late posting of this interview, but I promise you it is worth the wait. This week’s guest is a good friend of mine I met during my first stint in grad school at St. John’s University. We started making fun of each other right away and a beautiful bromance was formed. Our friendship really started to take off when he asked me if I wanted to play for the softball team he was on. I couldn’t say yes fast enough. He then informed me it was a gay league. To which I replied, “I don’t care. Yes.” It ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and my first year on the team really got me through some rough times. So without further adieu, here is my conversation with my buddy Chris a.k.a Spud (normally I would say if you have trouble understanding his mumbling and gibberish look to me for translation, but since it’s via text, you shouldn’t have any trouble. I think).
DAN: I, along with our friend Scott, came up with the idea of dressing up as Revolutionary Era historical figures for your wedding. We have you as Aaron Burr, who we’ll come back to later, me as George Washington and Scott as Alexander Hamilton. Has your fiancé warmed to this idea at all and when are we getting fitted for powdered wigs?
SPUD: Kristy is all over the idea of us getting married in Revolutionary garb. Mainly, it’s so she can rock a revolutionary era gown that will probably put me even deeper in the poor house, good times. No, the only issue I have with this incredibly thoughtful plan is Scott coming as Hamilton. I like Scott and do not want to have to kill him because he besmirched my character. I am thinking Scott could be Ben Franklin or, hey, who doesn’t like a John Adams sighting. You as Washington is a horrible casting job. I know you are floating over the MVP award you won last year from our softball team but I am not sure you have the same stature as the original W.
DAN: Growing up, baseball was really something that got my family through a lot of struggles and tough times. What has the game meant to you and why do you think it has such a special place in our culture?
SPUD: Baseball meant summer when the season started. I know school was going to come to an end soon. Also, it meant days of playing the numerous versions of the game we played in the complex I grew up in, from stick ball, waffle ball, fast pitch to, ironically, the occasional softball game. Baseball helped me create a social network when I was a kid and allowed me to meet people I would have never met without the game. I think baseball plays such an important role in our culture because some version of the game has been played since the mid 1800’s and has survived the many calamities that have faced Americans during that time. Baseball was there during the Depression and WWII as a way to forget about the misery for 9 innings.
DAN: We play in one of the more interesting leagues for a couple of straight guys. I said earlier that it was one of the best decisions I ever made to sign up, but I was wondering what you think makes it so special? What do you enjoy most about it?
SPUD: The reason why our league is so special is our team. They always make you feel welcome and treat everyone with respect. I remember my first practice and how I felt like I belonged, even before the practice was over. Once they got to know me and how insane I am (they being Chris, our third baseman), treated me like the baby I was and made the game fun. Regardless if we win or lose there is always a margarita to be had after the game and a Family Guy quote that will have us laughing for hours. Where else can the McNugget song take a team to the championship game? Only in the BASL!
DAN: That being said; how do you like our chances this year?
SPUD: We are going to be fine. We hit well and play the field decently. All we have to do is stop having horrible first innings and we will have a good season. Regardless it is slo-pitch and if we play well at the end of the season I think we can beat any team in our league.
DAN: When I sent you the first draft of my blog entry this week, you were pretty upset about devoting so many words on sweat, but not mentioning what you do to your hats every softball season. Explain to everyone the evolution of your hat funk.
SPUD: The hat funk started when I was younger. I would play games of basketball with a hat on and thoroughly destroy it simply by sweating through them. Know that I am bald and have no hair to stop the sweat, so my hats are doomed from the start. The first hat I wore with the Noreasters had the coolest salt line, almost to the top, until Kristy decided to wash it. Also, that hat suddenly disappeared once the season was over. The Minnesota Twins hat from two years ago was done after the first month and I ruined one of my jerseys from the red dye leaking down my back. I think it had to happen during the championship game we played in the sauna. The Brooklyn Dodgers hat from last year and the hats we bought this year should be fine, simply because every time we play it rains so they will be cleaned by nature.
DAN: We spent a lot of time deciding on what hats we were going to wear this season. We try to select hats that either match the blue in our uniform or have a New York connection. Which hat is your favorite and which one do you think you’ll sweat through first?
SPUD: I love the New York Giants hat and I know that hat will be destroyed first. The Montreal Expos hat has a chance to be a complete mess because of the red dye in the back. Hopefully I can destroy both hats by the end of the season so we can buy new hats next year. I am thinking an old Yankee hat and something from the Negro League. This is why I love the summer!
DAN: So my topic on Sunday was smells of the game. What is your favorite sports related smell?
SPUD: Well, we discuss swamp ass and butter nuts on a weekly basis during the season, but my favorite sports related smell is the smell of the fog and dew before the games we play in Central Park around the Fourth of July. Also, the smell of hot dogs always reminds me of the old Yankee Stadium and my first game with my Pops.
DAN: You basically moved me into my apartment single-handed in a raging thunderstorm, heat wave and a highway investigation. Where does that rank up there amongst your smelliest days?
SPUD: Possibly the worst day I ever had. The funk was so bad I had to throw away every stitch of clothing I wore on that damned day. If I had known about your stairs before I moved you there is a chance I would have feigned illness and not showed up. I have never sweat that bad in my life and then your girlfriend wanted to taked pictures, WTF!
DAN: Obviously, you’re a history buff like I am. What is your favorite era of history? What about that era have you enjoyed learning about?
SPUD: I love colonial era New York history. Ever since I started reading the history of New York, I have loved learning about the growth of the city over the time and how it was formed into the city it is today. The topic I enjoyed the most is the effect slavery had in the development of the city and the lack of knowledge many people have on that topic. The slave revolts are of particular interest to me and I will eventually either write about them further or teach that as part of my history classes.
DAN: Ok, back to Burr. Here is your chance to defend why you like him so much without me interrupting you to make fun of you.
SPUD: I just think he was always fighting for any semblance of respect. During the revolution he actually was a legitimate Colonel and fought in battles unlike Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and Adams. He also ran for President the way one was supposed to during the times. He did not advocate for himself because Washington didn’t and therefore no one should. Jefferson on the other hand always had his minions (I am talking about you James Madison), who would spread the Jefferson gospel. Also, anyone that bothered Jefferson to the point that Burr did is definitely a friend of mine. I am not going to discuss Burr’s attempt to split the U.S. in half simply because he wasn’t the only great American involved (*cough* Andrew Jackson), and he was backstabbed by Jefferson’s best friend and foreign spy James Wilkerson. Finally, he dueled with Hamilton because Hamilton and Burr had aspirations to be the American Napoleon and he was the better shot, plain and simple.
DAN: I know you’re going to take some issue with what I’m about to say. There were a lot of characters in that era, including Burr, Wilkerson (who was an administrator of the Louisiana Purchase and a double agent for just about everyone in the world), Washington, Lewis and Clark, etc. However, I think if you needed to point to one guy that exemplified all the potential and contradiction of that era, I think it would have to be Jefferson. I’m not saying what he did was right or wrong, I’m just saying that he continues to be fascinating because he introduced this bold, Enlightment vision of human freedom, but at the same time was able to justify slavery and keeping minorities (which was really everyone but white landowners in those days) out of that vision. I think Adams’ too had his hand in just about everything and left a lasting mark on the country. I can definitely appreciate you rooting for the underdog though. I’m a big fan of Henry Clay, who never won the Presidency, but was a force in early western politics and in the Senate fighting against James C. Calhoun.
I hate talking to you about the Yankees in April because you are one of the first lemmings to jump off the cliff at the first sign of trouble. You happened to be right last year, but I will reserve judgment on them until at least June. What do you think of their chances this year?
SPUD: To be honest, I am writing this after Chien Ming “Wrong” gave up nine runs in the first two innings Monday night and after the bullpen gave up seven more, so I might be a bit jaded. With all that said, I do like their chances because of CC Sabathia , A.J. Burnett and Joba Chamberlin. I still think Joe Girardi is a bad manager and the bullpen is a lost cause. But they will be in it until the end and hopefully they can get “Wrong” right and find some pen help before the trade deadline. The offense looks anemic at times, but I love Nick Swisher and I think Robinson Cano is going to have a huge season.
DAN: Talk to me about your new big T.V. What did you have to agree to get it and will this be you last upgrade?
SPUD: Good God, I love my new T.V. It is a 65” Sony Aquos and the picture is ridiculous. I watched The Dark Knight on it and I got emotional like I was at a theatre, just with better picture. The games look incredible on it and it fits nicely in my house. I have nothing but great things to say about the purchase and, to be honest, if I didn’t have softball I could easily gain 80 lbs watching the beast. This might be our last upgrade for a while since we are going to be paying off the Tinkerbell bedroom set for a while.
DAN: When you have a bunch of us over to play Madden, how many points do you think you’ll beat me by?
SPUD: If you show up, I will have to beat you by at least 30. Like in our previous game, I will give you hope and then crush you like a bug. Please bring Steve-O [author’s note: Steve-O is my former roommate and future Baseball Sunday guest] over so I can redeem myself. I played so bad against him and it is still bothering me.