Saturday, April 30, 2005

The end of my rookie year

I didn't grow up loving baseball--I was an NBA man, a John Elway-era Bronco fan, and baseball was a distant third in my loves. As an adult...well, I've matured. I've traveled to 37 major league baseball stadiums and have had a 16-game package to the Mariners for a few years.

And I noticed over the off-season that my 162nd major league game was imminent. And it seemed to me that I need to mark that milestone somehow. I considered inviting everyone I've ever been to a game with to head up here to join me for a game. But there are problems with that...do I invite them to game 162 or 163? Will the 7 or 8 ex-girlfriends I've been to MLB games with be offended at the invitation? Well, never mind. I've decided to go a different route.

As of this moment, I've been to 159 major league games. Game 162--the end of one full season of baseball--is slated for Saturday night, May 14th (Red Sox at Mariners). I will commemorate this only-important-to-me milestone HERE on this blog. All through these years, I have never, with all the silly lists I've made about baseball, made a list of the best games I've ever been to. I busted out the six-plus scorebooks I've filled and jotted down games I found especially good. There were 22 games on my list. I eliminated two and ranked the other 20.

And, you lucky dogs, I will count down the best 20 baseball games I've ever attended, with a quick note and what I liked best. I'll do games 20-14 tonight, then get closer to the top, Casey Kasem style, until I celebrate the end of my rookie year by writing about the best game I've ever been to on May 14, the night of my 162nd game.

CRITERIA: I have tried to look at the game and only the game. I try not to factor in the disappointment of my Rockies or Mariners losing. A huge playoff win by the Mariners, featuring the longest home run ever hit by my beloved Edgar Martinez has great personal meaning to me. So does the first game I ever went to with my fiancee, after which we waited for a long time at the downtown bus stop, arm-in-arm, and I felt myself knowing I was falling into something very special. (Perhaps I should have given those two examples in the opposite order. Sorry, honey.) But neither of those GAMES were very good, so they don't make the list.

What makes a good game, then? I don't even know for sure. Maybe upon looking at the list, we can figure out what kind of baseball I like.

Enjoy the list.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

My thirties--Part Two

I turn 35 on Friday.

Wednesday, two days before my 35th b-day, standing in my classroom right in the middle of the kids' standardized testing, I suddenly, surprisingly, and vividly realized that I will be forty years old discernibly soon. The moment nearly knocked me to the ground.

I don't know exactly how to communicate this, but I had never in my life really considered the reality of me-as-forty-year-old until that moment Wednesday. It hasn't even been a fathomable concept. All at once, it's more than fathomable. It's possible. Shit, it's imminent. And that's weird. Not scary, not macabre. Just really, really bizarre.

Baffling Apprentice quote of the week

My business-major honey has me watching The Apprentice regularly. (For the record, she's happy that, with Alex's elimination tonight, we are guaranteed that someone other than a white guy will win.) Today, there was a quote that was quite strange. Not as strange as Brian's comment that his opposition was going to be "cut by the juggler", but still bloody strange. For his reward, he got to go up in fighter jets to participate in a dogfight with Kendra, a fellow competitor he particularly dislikes. Fighter pilots fly them (for real) while they man (pretend) guns. Here's his head-scratcher comment:

"I know I could take Kendra in aerial combat today. I could do that without a plane."

Ummmm...Craig...uh....Craig? How???

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Book meme

Alison has tossed me the book meme. She even said she was curious. Curious! About the reading habits of lil' ol' me! Well, golly, that's nice of you, Al. I shall respond.

The embarrassing thing is that, although I'm an English teacher, I don't read nearly enough for pleasure. I think a lot of that is because once I've read everything my 10th graders have written, I kinda want to sit down on the couch and enjoy some sports or reality television (competition variety, not mere voyeurism). But the funny thing is that, once there's a vacation that hits me (like the recent Spring Break), I buy about a billion books--way more than I can possibly read. I usually get to those over the summer.

Okay.

THE FIRST QUESTION:

You are stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. What book would you be?

What would happen if I actually was Fahrenheit 451? Would the meta-book situation cause some sort of crack in the space-time continuum that would lead us all out of Bradbury's dystopia?

Crap. I don't know. I guess I'd like it to be a classic, to help out the society. Wait! I'd like it to be something that challenges Bradbury's society, something that will help lead the revolution that we'd need to get rid of the horrific dictatorship. For that reason, I select Selected Poems: 1947-1995 by Allen Ginsberg. A bit of "Howl," a bit of "America" (my fave)...we'll bring those leaders down, and then we wouldn't have to memorize books anymore.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Yes. My first thought is Julia from 1984. I read that when I was a sophomore in high school. The idea that somebody could be smart, slutty, and want to go to bed with an avowed nerd like me--er, (cough), like Winston--was really, um, intriguing to my adolescent self. When I did the presentation on 1984 for my Sophomore Basic Essay class in Januray of 1986, I didn't see any girls in the desks that met all three of those criteria, believe you me.

What was the last book you bought?

Believe it or not, I bought FIVE for my spring break trip. I am in the middle of three of them; haven't finished any.

God's Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It by Jim Wallis. I am really digging this guy. He's saying stuff that I've thought for some time--about the arrogance of the right for believing they have a monopoly on religion, and the arrogance of the left for pooh-poohing it, viewing religious faith as a sign of low intelligence (one time, I had someone actually say that to my face, believe it or not). What's a non-fundamentalist believer to do? Wallis has suggestions.

The Insistence of Beauty. New Stephen Dunn poems. I'm only a little bit into it, but so far, it feels a lot sadder than his past work. But I still adore Dunn and am enjoying this. Maybe the mood will shift. If you're going to start with Dunn, do Local Visitations or Different Hours first. Read "Grace," a poem about Mitch Williams being interviewed after the 1993 World Series. It's in Local Visitations, I believe.

Speaking of baseball, I went overboard and bought three baseball books for the journey. I know, too many...it would have been great if I'd been taking the train, but one cannot read too much when one is driving 1300 miles in a week.

On recommendation from pankleb, I bought Philip Roth's The Great American Novel. So far, so good, although I'm struggling with some rough portrayals of women and of the emotionally unstable. Still, fun.

And two autobiographies I haven't started: Jim Brosnan's The Long Season (an oft-forgotten precuror to Jim Bouton's classic Ball Four) and Christy Mathewson's Pitching in a Pinch, which looks like it'll be a fun look at baseball in the nineteen-oughts.

Whew. That's what I get for getting five books at the same time...

What are you currently reading?

See Wallis, Dunn, and Roth above.

What five books would you take to a deserted island?

Well, I need my Shakespeare. Set me up with his complete works. That'll keep my occupied...I suppose I may even give Coriolanus a read, and the sonnets will be well worth memorizing.

I have a thing for Ralph Waldo Emerson, so I'll take his complete works as well. His championing of self-reliance will be necessary (I'm assuming I'm alone on the island).

Of the current poets I love most, I think I'll settle on Stephen Dobyns...he's more universal than Jim Daniels, more accessible than Heather McHugh, less sad than Stephen Dunn. I'll grab a copy of Velocities, a collected works that takes us through 1992. This is a good place to start if you want to discover Dobyns. He's had some good stuff since, though, most notably Common Carnage and Pallbearers Envying the One who Rides.

I'll need a Bible to try to sort out exactly what the hell I did to deserve getting stranded on a desert island. King James version. I'll read a lot of Job, I suppose.

And the most recent Baseball Encyclopedia. I can read through the World Series boxscores and season stats and imagine every season in history. Plus I won't have access to my beloved baseball-reference.com.

Who are you going to pass this book meme to and why?

Almost all of my blogger friends have already done this, but not all. I pass this to my charming bride to be, because I want to know, to Jim, because I damn well feel like it, and pankleb, because he recommended the Roth book to me.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Sadly, it's our turn here in Washington

First came Indiana.

Next, Ohio.

A couple of weeks later, much closer to home. Oregon.

Now, alas, it is my turn to write the sad blog. The senate in my state of Washington has voted down a bill that would have added sexual orientation to the list of classes protected from discrimination in jobs, housing, and insurance. 25-24. All 23 Republicans voted that it's just fine to discriminate against gays, and were joined by 2 rural Democrats, one of whom said he really wanted to support the bill, but knew his constituents wouldn't have it.

It remains legal here to say "you're fired because you're gay." There have been stories of a woman who had lived in her apartment for 15 years and was never late with her rent getting evicted when the new landlord found out (a year after buying the building) that the woman's roommate was her partner. Apparently our legislature thinks this is just fine.

I'm angry enough to spit and sad enough to collapse in a heap.

There are a number of side stories to this. Most interesting is that Microsoft, long considered one of the most gay-friendly companies on the planet (benefits to same-sex partners, publicly valuing all kinds of diversity in the workplace, etc.), backed out of its support of the bill and delcared itself "neutral" after a pastor from a local church threatened Microsoft with a national boycott (story here). Microsoft denies this, and says that they simply are reducing the number of issues that they take stands on at the state level.

There are so many places for my anger here. For now, I'd like to focus on the pastor who threatened the boycott, the Rev. Ken Hutcherson of the "Antioch Bible [sic] Church [sic]."

First of all, this isn't gay marriage we're talking about. Gay marriage is a massive, revolutionary change in our society. It is a change that I support, but I can see and understand more conservative folks in our country struggling with that change. I also see that one can interpret one or two Bible verses to say that this isn't right. I reject all of these arguments, but at least they are arguments that I can understand.

This issue? Basic, civil, even human rights. It is not a revolutionary change. It is not supportable through any Bible verse that we should make people homeless, unemployed, or uninsured for no other reason than their homosexuality. SHOW ME THE VERSE, REVEREND. NOW.

Waiting for you, Reverend...C'mon, surely the Antioch Bible [sic] Church [sic] can teach me, a guy who misses a few Sundays at a liberal Episcopal church, a thing or two about the Bible! Perhaps you can look a little bit at Jesus, a character you might be familiar with. Who said "I am the law." Who said that what you do to the lowest of our society is what you do to Jesus.

Reverend, you're advocating throwing Jesus out of His apartment and onto His ass, and taking away His health insurance to boot.

One more thing about the Reverend. I can't find the quote anywhere, but I heard him say something on the radio yesterday that made my jaw drop. About Microsoft, he said (and I'm paraphrasing from memory): "What they do in their own house, I can't affect. But when they want to come into my house and change things, I stand up."

Um, Reverend? Exactly how does this impact your house?

Oh, wait a minute. I get it. You're upset that the legislature would require employers to treat people as Jesus says you must.

Don't worry, Reverend. This wouldn't change your church's [sic] modus operandi. You have publicly said that if you knew of any gay parishioners, you would bar them from your church [sic]. That's not employment. You can continue to go against Jesus' teachings by rejecting people from the house of prayer.

But I do have one request.

Please change the name. I don't want the word Bible in your name. You're only reading a little bit of it. I don't want the word Church there either.

Antioch Leviticus (And Sometimes Paul) Heterosexual Gathering Place.

Go with that, Reverend. Meanwhile, I'll go with Jesus.

Off to Church...

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Postcard from Djibouti answer

The postcard from Djibouti's picture?

A camel. In the desert.

They need a new minstry of tourism.

I have readers I never knew about...

Five days ago, I posted this wacky suggestion that it was Cheers actor John Ratzenberger, not Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who had become Pope Benedict XVI.

The next morning, I heard the morning show DJs use the same joke.

The next evening, Dennis Miller used the same joke on The Daily Show.

Either my joke wasn't that clever, or I am ahead of the curve and the true clearinghouse for humor in the US.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

At the Mariner game tonight

ME: I'd like two garlic fries and a Sierra Mist.
VENDOR: That'll be $14.25, and I'll need to see some ID for that.
ME: For this? Oh, I already bought this. (Although a teetotaller, I had purchased a Bud Light for my brother moments earlier at a nearby beer stand. I was not carded.)
VENDOR: Yes. I need some ID for the Sierra Mist.
ME: Huh?
VENDOR: Yes. Sierra Mist is a beer. I need some ID.
ME: Sierra Mist is a SODA!!!!

(Long, confused pause. Vendor consults with neighboring vendor.)

VENDOR: Oh! I thought you were ordering a Sierra Nevada. That's a beer.

***

So, if you're scoring at home:

Number of times TRP has been carded while buying beer at the ballpark: 0
Number of times TRP has been carded while buying soda at the ballpark (and Mormon-friendly soda, at that): 1

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Interesting choice

Did I hear right? John Ratzenberger is the new Pope?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Jim writes a funny one

His wacky satire is funnier than the Cookie Monster-related article (a real one) he links to.

ESPN...this is very important...

So you're taking over Monday Night Football, huh?

It's time to lose Joe Theismann. It'd time to deep-six Mike Patrick, at least from the NFL. And it's time to GET RID OF PAUL EFFING MAGUIRE. NOW!!!

I watch Monday Night Football every week. I survived Howard Cosell as a child. I put up with O.J. Simpson. I got past Frank Gifford's "Who's playing again?" years. I endured Dennis Miller. But if you dare sully Monday Nights with Paul Effing Maguire, I will be forced to do something. Boycott sponsors, get all my sports news from Fox, SOMETHING. But please, please lose Paul Maguire. I have yet to encounter anyone who thinks he does a good job. Surely you don't think he's worth keeping. Surely you have trace elements of sense. Surely you can lose him. Now. I'll help in any way possible. But do it. NOW.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

I'm ba-ack...

I'm still on Eastern time, so I'm tired, but will offer a couple of non-baseball related observations from my baseball trip:

--I was led to believe that Miami would be a hellhole. While I'm not eager to head back there, it wasn't bad.

--During my 4 non-baseball hours in Miami, I decided to do a terribly touristy thing...take a guided boat tour. It was good to be on the water, although this native Coloradan is a land-lover. Downtown Miami is pretty from the water.

--Vanilla Ice lives two doors down from Julio Iglesias in Miami. I wonder if one has ever gone to the others' house to borrow a cup of milk?

--I tape recorded several conversations about the past with my eldely aunt Dorothy. She is still angry that my family discouraged her from marrying my uncle Cass back in 1942...she wasn't Catholic. "We were married 54 years," she says...gloating just a little bit. Because of this, she threw a party for Charles and Camilla...she feels for Camilla. "They want her to be like Diana, and she never will be...but she still deserves a party," she said. We had meat pie. Mmmm. Aunt Dorothy was concerned she'd start a family row because I taped her saying that another elderly aunt likes alcohol. I stated (delicately) that no family row could possibly be started over saying something so stinking obvious as that this woman who always has wine or whiskey nearby likes alcohol. It'd be like saying "that aunt is female" or "that aunt has you as a nephew." No controversy at all.

--I managed to spend three days in Florida without going to the beach. I'm a bit weird that way.

--Priceline.com rocks. I stayed in the Omni Hotel Atlanta for sixty bucks. I LOVE being pampered. They had treadmills in the fitness room with tiny individual flat-screen TVs with headphones. And a bottle of water on the nightstand that you could open for a mere $5.50.

--Hung with my kid sister for a whole day, just after she got back from supervising the elections last week in Djibouti. She says the Djibouti Sheraton isn't as good as other Sheratons. She also was stuck there for an extra three days after her flight out was cancelled. The only English TV station was CNN, and she rapidly grew sick of 24/7 dead Pope coverage. She was kind enough to send me a Djibouti postcard.

TRIVIA QUESTION: What did the Djibouti postcard have as its picture? Answer in a day or two. Try guessing.

--Orbitz offered me the Regency Inn in Augusta, GA for cheap, calling it a one star. I was ready for a Super 8 or a Motel 6. This didn't rise to that level. Yucky yellowing grout, scratched-up bathroom sink, weeds growing out of the exterior walls...that's not bad. The guy wearing a Harley T-Shirt at the front desk...whatever, maybe it was Casual Thursday or something...no big deal. What's bad is the scariness of the place...I didn't think the car was safe, and the scantily-clad overly-made-up woman sitting on the curb after chatting with the guys in the pickup truck who left her there...well, it creeped me out. So I called Orbitz, and they asked the Regency Inn if they'd refund my money...this a half hour after I checked in. They did not refund my money. I still stayed somewhere else that night. My hope is that I can gain revenge here...that anyone who wants to stay at the Regency Inn in Augusta, GA finds this when they search for it.

The Regency Inn in Augusta, GA SUCKS, guys! Don't stay there! Don't give Harley T-Shirt Guy your money! (If two people decide not to stay there now, the guy will have lost money from not giving me a refund.)

--I honored the NAACP boycott of South Carolina (get the damn stars and bars off of your capital grounds, guys...you can just as easily--and more appropriately--honor your Civil War ancestors in a museum than at the active capital of your diverse state) by not spending a dime in the state. I did drive across Western SC, however, which I found quite lovely.

--I did clamber down to the geographical anomaly--the chunk of Georgia that is east of the Savannah River. Kinda hard to get to, but I've been there now, squishing across the old riverbed, muddying up my shoes and jeans...just to take pictures of a pretty but non-descript forest.

--Asheville, NC is a gorgeous town. The whole area is so lovely that I may take Swankette out there some year to bunk down in Asheville while we wander to ballgames in the Appalachian League every couple of nights. I had no idea that Asheville was a granola town like Boulder or Eugene. Really loved the place.

--While there, you should have the Ultimate Nachos at the Raven Grill That would be vegan nachos with "Raven cheese." Vegan Cheese. It's made from cashews. And damned if those weren't the tastiest things I had all week long. Yum. There was even live music later that night. I'd have gone back, but I don't care for fiddles.

Good to be back! Nine more weeks of school, and barely three more months until the big wedding!

(This post brought to you by the new computer.)

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Greetings from a place you've never been

A shout out to y'all from the Jasper County Library in Monticello, Georgia.

After two days of Braves games, I'm headed out to Augusta to see tonight's home opener for the Augusta Green Jackets (they're facing off against the Savannah Sand Gnats, and you can throw the record books out the window). I could be there in two hours on I-20, but I'd rather take the 4 hours on Georgia Highway 16. Georgia...you need to put "Historical Marker, 1000 feet" signs up. I'd stop at all of them to read about General Sherman or even about some county courthouse, but I need to know they're coming.

But I thought I'd stop and check the email. And say hi to y'all.

The goal is, either before tonight's game or before tomorrow's jaunt to Asheville, NC, to head out to a point just southeast of Augusta that is a geographical anomaly: a small chunk of Georgia that is east of the Savannah river. Clearly Rob and his quest (see the Tri-point page at right) are having too much of an effect on me. So I'm here printing out relevant maps to try to make it to that little hunk of riverside land.

Actually, while I'm here, I'd better print out pictures of poison ivy, too. I'd hate to clamber to that spot and pay for it later.

So a shout out to y'all. SHOUT!!!!

Spoon and Joe: The Nationals are 3-0 in my presence (one win in Miami, two in Atlanta).

Friday, April 08, 2005

Blogger ate a post last night...

and believe you me, it was HILARIOUS!!! Fortunately, it's not a time-sensitive post, so I'll post it again at some point in the future. You won't even notice it's late.

No time now--this teacher is going on Spring Break! Got some baseball parks to get in (Miami, Tampa, Sarasota, Atlanta, Augusta, Asheville). It'll be eight days from now when you next hear from me, so dontcha get impatient, mmmkay?

I am a chronic overpacker. I had trouble selecting 24 CDs to take with me. What will I want to have with me in a rental car going through the South? James Taylor, Indigo Girls, Stevie Wonder, and the usual Beatles and Paul Simon. This is going to be so much fun.

Fun, sure, but you know what? As incredibly fun as these trips are, I've noticed the last couple of years that the best part is the phone call to my baby at the end of the day. I'm ready to be a married man. To her.

But first, BASEBALL TRIP!!!!!

Stay out of trouble this week. Joe, you're the man of the house while I'm gone.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

I briefly channel Bob Dole...

HER: Whatcha doin'?
ME: Blogging.
HER: What about?
ME: My predictions for the baseball season.
HER: Whatcha predicting?
ME: I think the New York Giants won't win the NL West.
HER: Sweetie, a lot of people would be very surprised if the New York Giants won the NL West.

I'm so embarrassed. Where the hell did that blunder come from?

TRP's 2005 MLB predictions

I am a complete nerd. The win and loss totals for MLB have been double-checked to ensure they are equal.

AL WEST:

Los Angeles of Anaheim 93-69 (stupid, stupid, stupid name)
Texas 90-72 (not yet...but they may win the next 3 after this)
Oakland 87-65
Seattle 76-86

AL CENTRAL:

Minnesota 95-67
Cleveland 86-76
Detroit 80-82
Chicago 79-83
Kansas City 66-96

AL EAST:

New York 94-68 (they'll start strong, then fade, but hold off Boston)
Boston 93-69
Baltimore 79-83 (overrated)
Toronto 77-85
Tampa Bay 65-97

NL WEST:

Los Angeles 89-73
San Diego 85-77 (underrated)
San Francisco 81-81 (age will get 'em)
Arizona 67-95
Colorado 53-109 (this is a major league team???)

NL CENTRAL:

St. Louis 97-65
Chicago 92-70
Houston 82-80
Milwaukee 80-82
Cincinnati 73-89
Pittsburgh 61-101

NL EAST:

Atlanta 100-62
New York 85-77
Florida 84-79
Philadelphia 72-90
Washington 69-93

AL PLAYOFFS:

Los Angeles of Anaheim defeats New York. (Sports media weeps uncontrollably.)
Minnesota defeats Boston. (Sports media weeps uncontrollably.)

Minnesota defeats Los Angeles of Anaheim.

NL PLAYOFFS:

Atlanta defeats Chicago.
St. Louis defeats Los Angeles.

Atlanta defeats St. Louis.

You know, I look at Atlanta's lineup, and I just see them scoring more runs than they give up. And although I'm putting my marriage at risk by predicting this, I am picking Atlanta over Minnesota in the World Series.

In my scorebook, what do I put when the Angels are playing? I put the city for every team except for New York or Chicago teams, where I put both city and nickname. But I'm afraid I'll have to put the abominable "Los Angeles of Anaheim" in my scorebooks now. UGH. Arte Moreno is an idiot for doing this.

My fiancee has pointed out that if I put the phrase "VEGAS PREDICTIONS" in this posting, I'll get a lot more traffic. I would never stoop to that level.

PAMELA ANDERSON NAKED.

The plus side of an obituary

I like the tradition/policy of news organizations showing a current picture of a public figure while he's alive, but then reverting to a picture from the figure's prime as soon as he dies. I find it touching.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Time for this fad to end

It's official.

I am tired of televised poker.