Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Most people know I like baseball. I like the seeming improbability of a 22 ounce wood bat, connecting with a base ball traveling at 90MPH, resulting in the ball traveling 400 feet into the outfield.
That is, of all goes well.
I also like the way the ‘Boys of Summer’ look in their uniforms. The baseball player is the male archetype of athleticism and poise. An unattainable standard of masculine beauty to be admired from afar under the the bright summer sun.
Which brings me to the strange case of MLB pitcher, Dock Ellis.
Dock Ellis died Friday in Los Angeles. He was 63. Despite a long addiction to drugs and alcohol, Ellis managed to win 138 games in his career and carve out pennant winning careers with both the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Yankees.
But Ellis was perhaps best remembered for bizarre episodes on and off the field. In his 1976 biography, “Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball,” Ellis wrote while working for the Pirates, he had been drinking before he pitched a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres in May 1970. But it gets even better. Ellis admitted he had used LSD before the game. Not realizing that he would be pitching the opener of a doubleheader, he washed away the effects with amphetamines.
Ellis told The Los Angeles Times in 1985 that he began using drugs as a teenager, started to have alcohol problems while in the minor leagues, and “never pitched a game in the major leagues I wasn’t high.”
So, to the New York Yankees and their $225 million dollar payroll of spoiled brats who can’t seem pitch the team into the play-offs, listen up. Maybe the problem isn’t salary or free agency. Maybe it’s the absence of booze and acid made available to the players in the dugout?