Summer Rules

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 / Posted by PageOne / comments (1)

It's passing by so fast.


Fernando On His Musical Selections

Sunday, July 25, 2010 / Posted by PageOne / comments (0)

What’s in a Song?

New York Times
May 13, 2009, 4:53 pm

Fernando Perez of the Tampa Bay Rays is out with a wrist injury. But the Columbia University graduate is biding his time, occasionally writing for the Bats blog. 

Rays - Bats Blog
When Lou Gehrig put on the Columbia University baseball uniform to pitch and smash home runs, the school’s ball field was at the center of campus, across 116th Street, near Harlem. After Gehrig’s tenure, baseball was relocated to the northern tip of Manhattan, a 20-minute subway ride away.
The first televised sporting event in this country was a Columbia baseball game against Princeton, and let’s just say that in the 80 years between Gehrig’s time at Columbia and when I attended, there was a decline in sports’ priority. The only folks watching us play Princeton were our parents.

We might have been lacking some athleticism, but we were not short on personality. College is really where I consummated my love for the game, with a great cast of characters perpetrating this superengaging sport when it seemed that nobody but us cared and the rewards were negligible.
For some reason batting music had some inflated status to us. As a sub-.500 season approached, we would talk at practice and in the locker room about our theme music, like Peter Griffin, who sided with something sexy if i remember correctly. There was a former player who, according to lore, made his own remix to be used in what would be his only home college at-bat. He used Eminem’s song “My Name Is,” except he edited out “slim shady” and overdubbed himself saying his own name. I wasn’t there but I don’t think he sounded much like a rapper.

There was only one song that I would choose for myself, and that was the “Price Is Right” theme. The horns are so brave! It’s pretty much as funky as possible, especially the extended edit. But I would come up to the plate during midweek games against more sportsy schools that loved beating up on the geeks and hear the infielders laughing. I distinctly remember a guy playing right field who asked, using language more often heard on a baseball diamond than in The New York Times, who is this guy?!?
I hit a homer. I had no choice. I remember being so embarrassed by the song that I had to lock in and put a good A.B. together. The same sort of psychosis followed our best relief pitcher, who warmed up to “Ode to Joy” before his barrage of slow fastballs, slower sliders and Jedi eyebrow tricks.

Music aside, it’s interesting to contrast all the different feelings players associate with being “ready.” Sometimes it’s an energy potion, with the word “extreme” somehow incorporated into the label. I’ve seen (and love) aromatherapy oils on the bill of the cap. I’d say 75 percent of players square themselves with a pregame shower. When I played in Mexico, the cigarette and beer were the leading tonics.

In the way of “pump up” music, I used Talib Kweli and the Walkmen, but quickly learned it wasn’t advantageous to feel like I wanted to jump or scream about ex-girlfriends.

The California league can be maddening no matter how it’s going for you. The desert has a very confusing energy for an outdoor summer performer, and my music selections were marked by their effect on me. You might just say I was going crazy. I was trying to forge a dialectic that was personal, even climactic — there was experimental electronica (Prefuse 73’s “With Dirt and Two Texts — Afternoon Version), which I used in the throes of heat exhaustion to feel less human, more machine-like at the plate. There were desolate rock ballads to put pitchers to sleep like Wings’ “Band on the Run.” It was a little too decadent, though I was just about the only one listening to really judge.

I continued this indulgence through AAA and began dismissing songs as if the gimmick lost its poignancy or when I suspected that the tunes were not raising my on-base percentage. The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight” went over great, but was dismissed before a string of day games. “Are You a Hypnotist,” by the Flaming Lips, was just too dramatic for baseball. I also couldn’t hit anything. Just like “Milestones” (Miles Davis), it was quickly nixed by my teammates. I tried to use Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up” and Devotchka’s “We’re Leaving” to help get me out of Durham.

When a player uses the same song over a long period of time, the song disappears to the player (which is likely advantageous) and really becomes property of the fans. When Evan Longoria comes up in a big spot and the first few seconds of “Down and Out” by Tantric plays, it cues the crowd to follow in a chorus of excitement and irrational expectations that thrillingly thwart out the announcing of his name. As Evan came up to the plate with the bases loaded against the Red Sox on May 1, this all became so clear. While the staff and most of the players play it cool, you may catch any one of us on the bench rolling our neck into position to play air violin along with the riff.

The crowd wants a six-run homer. Evan hits a grand slam, “breaks the game,” the crowd goes wild and minutes later is similarly frenzied into the same expectations from Carlos Pena as soon as his song plays, which, after a moment like that, never sounded so good. He obliges and delivers a back-to-back homer to seal the victory.

When I got to the major leagues, I went Motown. My friend asked why, and I said it was a diplomatic selection, that Motown, like Chinese food, is one of the few things people of all sorts can agree upon. Ideally, I’d come out to solo Monk or trance-inducing traditional Indian music, but the more I get to be around here, the more I realize it’s all about the fans. This is a circus, and we are the clowns. Nobody boos after Stevie Wonder anyway. But in the event of my signing any sort of deal that includes one of those awkward press conferences, I’m going back to my roots, “The Price Is Right.”

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Durham Bulls Press Release: Fernando Perez

Thursday, July 22, 2010 / Posted by PageOne / comments (0)

Cool little article on Bulls/Rays outfielder, Fernando Perez. I didn't know he was a poet. I do know he's got great taste in music. Like most clubs, players get to choose their up-to-bat music. Over the past couple of seasons, he's chosen quality tracks from Motown to The Walkmen to Camp Lo. Anyway, dig it:

by Diana Holoman

How many people can say that they have graduated from an Ivy League school? Not many. How many people can say that they graduated from an Ivy League school and were a part of a Major League Baseball World Series? Even fewer. But one of those lucky individuals is Durham Bulls outfielder Fernando Perez.

"Just being a part of a team that made it to the 2008 World Series is an experience I am so grateful to have under my belt" Perez said. "There are people who I look up to, like Ken Griffey Jr., who have played for 20 years and make it to the Hall of Fame but never make it to a World Series. For me to get to play in a World Series after just stepping foot in the major leagues a couple weeks prior is just an experience that I feel really, really lucky to have been a part of"

Perez, a stand-out baseball player at Columbia University, was drafted in the 7th round (195th overall) in the 2004 MLB draft to the Rays. Perez was one of six Ivy Leaguers on major league rosters at the beginning of the 2009 season. At Columbia, Perez studied American studies and completed the creative program. He later used his creative writing skills to become the first Major League Baseball player published in Poetry Magazine.

According to Perez, in an article entitled "Para Rumbiar" he wrote for the Poetry Foundation, baseball and poetry have more things in common than most people might suspect.

"Like poetry, baseball is a kind of counter culture. The isolation from the outside world (which I often opt for); the idleness about which - and out of which - so many poems are written or sung" Perez said "I see this state of mind as a blessing. Sometimes, in fact, when I haven't turned on a television or touched a newspaper for months, freed from the corporate bombast, poetry is the only dialect I recognize."

While rehabbing from wrist surgery in 2009, Perez wrote columns for the New York Times and the Rays game-day program. He also participated in "Hot Stove, Cool Music," which benefits nearly a dozen inner-city social programs in Boston and New York.

Although Perez is an athlete with a lot to brag about off of the field, he prefers to stay focused on baseball as much as possible instead of taking the time to chat about his off field accolades.
"I try to keep my focus here (on the baseball field), and yes, there are other things that I do in order to carry on a normal life," Perez said. "But really I try not to think about those things during the season, and I try to just keep my focus on baseball.

Coming off of injuries, it has not been an ideal season for Perez thus far; however, he refuses to let this season get the best of him. Perez is determined to get through this year and to continue to focus on the big picture.

"I have never had to push my self like this before," Perez said. "This year, fighting through injuries has tested my resolve and it has been hard, but my goal is to get back to playing the kind of baseball that I am capable of playing. This year is all about having simple goals."

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LA: (Some of) The Food

Thursday, July 22, 2010 / Posted by PageOne / comments (0)

LA: Days 3 & 4

Tuesday, July 20, 2010 / Posted by PageOne / comments (0)

LA: Days 1 & 2

Sunday, July 18, 2010 / Posted by PageOne / comments (0)

California Pics on the way...

Thursday, July 15, 2010 / Posted by PageOne / comments (0)

Just went thru 300 or so. One for now:

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Los Angeles Bound

Wednesday, July 07, 2010 / Posted by PageOne / comments (1)

I'm heading back after a long hiatus. It'll be great to see good friends and local haunts. See ya when I return.