Wednesday, July 23, 2014

chase's big day

see this guy?  his name is chase headley.  chase had a very interesting day yesterday.  let me tell you about it.

chase started the day in chicago as the third baseman for the san diego padres.  they were in the windy city for a series against the cubs.  at some point during the morning, however, it was announced that he had been traded to the new york yankees.  i can't even imagine what all must go through your head as a ball player who has just been told that you will now be playing with a whole different group of men, and you will now call a different city (on the other side of the country) "home" for the next 3 months.  but whatever goes through Chase's mind, it had to go through pretty quickly, because while i'm sure he wanted to talk to his wife and other family, he quickly had to make sure he was boarding a plane in chicago that was bound for new york city.  somehow, amidst saying goodbye to his teammates, and gathering his belongings, he did just that.

meanwhile, in the bronx, the yankees are playing there regularly scheduled game against the texas rangers.  at some point during the 2nd inning, Chase arrives at the stadium in time to put on his brand new uniform and walk out of the tunnel into the dugout, where he then began the (almost certainly) awkward process of saying hello to all of his new teammates ("hi, i'm Chase...and you are Derek Jeter!").

this kind of thing happens fairly regularly in baseball, so it isn't anything that hasn't been done before.  but Chase's big day wasn't over yet.  neither the yankees nor the rangers could score, so the game was 0-0 as it moved into the later innings.  at one point in the 8th inning, the yankees called upon their brand new third baseman to come into the game as a pinch hitter and try to get something going.  he struck out.

but the game remained scoreless.  it went into the 10th.  still scoreless.  then, in the 11th, Chase came up to the plate again.  and this time he.....grounded out to first base.

but, have no fear.  Chase's moment still hadn't arrived.  he came up to bat again, this time in the bottom of the 12th inning with the bases loaded and two outs.  surely this was his fairy tale moment, right?  nope.  he grounded out to second.

then, in the top of the 13th, with the score tied 0-0, the rangers hit a go-ahead home run.  after not being able to score the entire game, the yankees somehow found a way to tie it up in the bottom half of the inning, so the game continued into the 14th inning, tied 1-1.

the rangers couldn't score in the top of the 14th, and the yankees started the bottom half of the inning with an out, a double and a short single, which put runners on 1st and 3rd with one out for you-know-who, Chase Headley.  and this time, Chase's big day finally came to a full crescendo.

he singled to left field.  ballgame over.  yankees win.  THHHHHHEEEEE YANKEES WIN!

so, he started the day as a padre in chicago, and finished it as the celebrated hero of a yankees walk-off victory in the bronx.  what a day.

and i got to witness it all, into the wee hours of the morning, listening to the yankees radio broadcasters.  amazing.

and people say baseball is boring.  ha!

Monday, July 21, 2014

jackson plays "home on the range"

Jackson provided the special music at church on sunday, playing the not-so-churchy "home on the range."  perhaps if you change the words to "where the deer and the antelope "pray," it would be a bit more churchy.  in any case, he did a great job. check it out!

Friday, July 18, 2014

(a tiny bit) more magic for muggles

attention potterheads:  in case you missed it, j.k. rowling has written a (very) short little vignette as a tasty update on the harry potter stories. it appeared on her pottermore website under "the daily prophet" section, and is written as if that nosy, nebbing reporter, rita skeeter, was reporting on some potter "gossip" at the quidditch world cup. rita writes about harry and ginny, ron and hermione, now in their mid-thirties, with children of their own, taking some time off to get away with some friends (neville longbottom, luna lovegood, etc.) to catch a big quidditch match. the piece offers some tasty morsels and updates on what has happened to the crew since we last said goodbye (tearfully, in my case) to them, and also, at least for about 150 seconds, makes you feel like you are back in rowling's amazing world of magic. finally, the final paragraph of the pice COULD be construed as a hint that there is more harry potter material down the road. one can only hope (or cast a wishing charm of some sort).  

note: to read the piece on, i think you have to register (it's free).  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

nothing but respect

respect.  that's what the captain of the yankees has earned over his career.  just take a quick glance at the message boards across baseball this year, and you'll constantly read things like this (actually quoted from a video of jeter):  "i  *$^%# hate the yankees, but i got nothin but respect for the captain."

nothing but respect.

he seems to have had his relationship problems off the field, but some of the reporting of that seems to be as largely exaggerated as is the human tendency to tear down those who are successful.  he generally stays out of the tabloids, and certainly out of the limelight in new york city, other than when it comes to playing baseball, which is what he has always wanted to do.  since his proclamation as a 4th-grader that he would someday play shortstop for the new york yankees, he has been a driven man, full of focus and determination.  sure he has natural skill, but i don't think anyone would ever argue that he is the most naturally gifted athlete to ever play his position.  but he does have grit and a crazy work ethic and a fierce competitive drive.  and something else, too, which is my major reason for admiring and celebrating him: class.

derek jeter plays the game well.  he plays it with heart.  he plays it with sportsmanship.  he never rips into his teammates (even when he's had plenty of good reasons to do so over the years), at least not in the public eye.  he doesn't taunt.  he doesn't turn his play into a sideshow, (ala puig from the dodgers, just to name one of several), and doesn't make everything all about him.  jeter just lets his play do the talking.

and his play has said plenty.  5 world series championships.  world series mvp.  all star game mvp.  3,000 hits.  over .300 lifetime average.  that jump throw.  that shovel toss against the a's.  that leap into the stands against the red sox.  that home run in november.  and he never throws the bat or points a finger or glares into an opposing dugout.  he just plays, and enjoys playing, and tries to do everything he can to play to the best of his ability and to do anything he can to help his team win.  strange that this seems a novel concept in the contemporary sports arena, but it is.

so, to you, derek jeter, as you play in your final all star game, i tip my cap to you in respect.

Monday, July 14, 2014

we're back!

we've been busy!

a july 4th weekend getaway included a surprise anniversary celebration for shannon's brother and sister-in-law, and then we returned home for one day before leaving for our annual camping trip with shannon's family.  so it has been a full and fun two weeks!  i believe we have about 1000 pictures (that's not an exaggeration) from the last 14 days, but here are just a few that i quickly found from our camping trip, since it is too overwhelming to go through them all at this point.  suffice to say that we had a great time, despite sitting in a tent while waiting out a tornado warning.  other than that, our time was hot, sticky, buggy, dirty, and loads of fun).

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

a sincere confession

i have a confession to make.

while there are very few of you that can really understand what it is requiring of me to write the following words on a public forum, the rest of you will just have to take my word for it:  this is a big deal for me.

i used to hate broccoli.  now i love it.

but that's not my confession.

i used to think that the world was black and white.  now i live in and love the gray areas.

but that's not my confession either.

i used to blast hanson's "mmm bop" as loud as i could and dance around like a crazy fool.

still not my confession.

my confession is this:  i have been watching the fifa 2014 world cup.

and enjoying it.  

look, i am a football and baseball guy.  my most formative sports years were spent falling head-over-heels in love with baseball, and i spent every waking moment throwing and catching any ball i could figure out a way to throw and catch.  and i was pretty darn good, if i do say so myself, at throwing and catching.

so when i was first presented with a sport that almost exclusively banned the use of the hand for throwing or catching, and this was sometime in middle school, i think, i reacted negatively.  plus, i was already committed to baseball and football.  and i didn't understand this offensively-challenged game in which off-sides meant something that seemed to make no sense, at least to a fan of american football.  i had several good reasons for not really liking soccer, but somehow, in a way that only makes sense when you know how dramatic and ridiculous i am, my dislike turned into vehement hate.  i loathed the game of soccer.  i said i would never watch it.  my children would never play it.  and if i ever had to eat my words in either of those two previous statements, i certainly wouldn't enjoy it.

get in my belly, words.

because it's all true.  my children play soccer.  and i have come to enjoy it.  and these last couple of weeks, i have slowly started peeking at the television during these world cup matches, until it finally came to fruition on sunday, and i watched the entire netherlands/mexico match, and then followed up that sweat-inducing, nerve-wracking experience by watching greece lose to costa rica, in an even more extraordinary fashion.  and i loved it.  i couldn't take my eyes off it.

it's still all true: in theory, i resent a sport that barely lets you use the hands God gave you.  i still don't understand all the rules, and it still amazes me that we watch up to 120 minutes of people running around punctuated by one or two brief moments of euphoria.  all of that remains.  but what has changed is that i enjoyed it.   i wanted to watch more.  and not just of the united states team...i mean, of course i will be pulling for them to defeat belgium today.  and i may or may not paint my face to support them.  or even my belly.  i haven't decided.

but that's not what i needed to confess.  it was, remarkably, and quite simply, this:

i like soccer.

there, i said it.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

that's (15 years of) marriage

fifteen years ago today, on the hottest day on record in the northern hemisphere, i married this beautiful woman.  in what turned out to be the luckiest, most lop-sided move ever, i somehow convinced her to marry me, and, now, fifteen years later, we are still discovering what that means.

sometimes i don't feel like getting up from watching the buccos on tv to help with the bedtime ritual for the kids.  that's marriage.

sometimes i want to watch batman begins for the 27th time, and she wants to watch pride and prejudice for the 127th time.  that's marriage.

sometimes i don't want to talk about it.  sometimes she just needs to be heard.  sometimes i want to argue it out.  sometimes she just needs space.  that's all marriage.

and sometimes when we are walking, not to anywhere fancy or special, mind you, she'll just slip her hand into mine, and my nerve endings will somehow send little messages almost instantly through my hand, arm, shoulder to my brain and my heart, and whatever mundane task we are doing or place we are going fades away into insignificance as i realize just how incredibly powerful it is to love and be loved.  that's marriage, too.

and so we have shared fifteen years of those kinds of days.  it's been 5,475 days since our wedding cake nearly melted onto the ground, and there have been huge messes and crushing sorrows and soul-healing laughs, and unthinkable joys.  all of it has added up to something which is far greater than the sum of its parts.  it's marriage.  fifteen amazing years of it.

happy anniversary, baby.  let's hold hands.