Monday, July 31, 2017

Present Tense

Today is the birthday of my great friend, Gracie.  What feels like a lifetime ago now we were partners in crime at the Firm, which partnership ended when she left for a place where the pasture grass grew greener. For an eye blink eight years ago, I did likewise and we celebrated a reunion, which proved to be very short-lived.  As it turned out, what under her feet was greener grass was, under mine, merely painted concrete.  In spite of that failure (mine - not hers) we have remained great friends.  

I often think that had the delivery of her jumbo-size-headed sixth baby and the subsequent asshole he proved to be not sworn Mom off of ever having a seventh child, Gracie could have been my younger sister.  Absence of common DNA notwithstanding, in the almost twenty years I have known her that is the prism through which I have always viewed her.  I know not specifically how she, Joe, and Helen (her mom) shall celebrate her annual journey around the sun but however the occasion is marked, I hope it is feted.  It certainly should be...

...and maybe to honor her, her beloved Baltimore Orioles will win their game tonight.  Given that they are playing the Kansas City Royals, who are firmly ensconced in the game of postseason Musical Chairs (along with the Red Sox, the Rays, the Mariners, the Indians, and, of course, the Yankees) that is presently all the rage in the American League, should they do so they will be giving a great gift not only to her but to her favorite Yankees fan too.  That, after all, is the very best kind of present.

-AK 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Winter in July

There is a neat little feature on the Google "Blogger" gizmo that enables me to see what particular pieces of dreck that have appeared here on a particular date have been read.  It tells not by whom or for what reason. It simply provides an accounting of what has been read - or what perhaps has served as the portal through which someone has popped by here to read today's time-waster. 

Yesterday morning, as I was hanging out stag at our little Paradise by the Sea (well, not stag exactly as I was keeping company with my faithful canine companion), I hopped on here to write something to fill today's version of this space.  As I tend to do, I clicked on the "Stats" link, which provides a template for site traffic, and saw that someone (or perhaps more than one someone) had cast an eyeball at three different pieces that I had written way back when in February, 2014.  Perhaps it was because yesterday dawned rainy and windy (sufficiently so that my morning run happened well after sunrise as opposed to coinciding with its arrival) that the piece that makes its de facto encore appearance here today was the one whose title made me click on it to see what exactly I had written. 

And reading it again made me smile - not for the quality of the prose (for not even I am that self-believing when it comes to my own bullshit - in spite of whatever you might have heard to the contrary) but for the memory it conjured up.  If it brings a smile to yours when you read it, then think of it as perhaps time less poorly spent here today than on other days...

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2014

The Sunset Beckons....

1996.  A lifetime ago.  Not an entire lifetime of course but certainly a year in which the world was a markedly different place than it is now.  The terms "September 11", "Ground Zero" and "Let's Roll" did not yet occupy a tragically important place in the American lexicon. 

On the baseball diamond it was a magical year.  In the Bronx at least.  Led by their brand-new manager, a Brooklynite named Torre, the New York Yankees did something they had not done since 1981.  They won the American League pennant.  Even better, they did something that they had not done since 1978.  They won the World Series.  My son Rob was a little boy.  He turned ten that April.  Derek Jeter was a rookie.

In an era when baseball teams still had "Fan Appreciation Day", Rob made his very-first trip to Yankee Stadium on Saturday, September 21st.  It was the middle game of a three-game weekend set with the Boston Red Sox.  It was a game that would otherwise be lost to the dustbin of history for me but for the fact that it was Rob's first-ever game.  In a real pitcher's duel, the Yankees defeated the Red Sox 12-11 in ten innings.  The eight pitchers Torre used did a slightly better job of scattering fourteen Boston hits than the seven hurlers who toed the rubber for the Sox did that afternoon and who surrendered a whopping twenty hits.  

Boston Red Sox 11, New York Yankees 12
Game played on Saturday, September 21, 1996 at Yankee Stadium
ab
  r
  h
rbi
Bragg cf,rf,cf
5
1
2
0
Frye 2b
5
1
1
2
Vaughn 1b
3
0
0
0
Canseco dh
6
1
1
3
4
2
2
0
  Tinsley cf
1
0
1
0
  Cordero ph
0
0
0
0
  Nixon pr,rf
0
0
0
0
5
0
2
2
Manto 3b
2
0
0
0
  O'Leary ph,lf
1
1
0
0
5
3
3
3
3
2
2
1
  Rodriguez 3b
0
0
0
0
  Jefferson ph
1
0
0
0
  Pozo 3b
0
0
0
0
Maddux p
0
0
0
0
  Gunderson p
0
0
0
0
  Mahomes p
0
0
0
0
  Eshelman p
0
0
0
0
  Brandenburg p
0
0
0
0
  Slocumb p
0
0
0
0
  Hudson p
0
0
0
0
Totals
41
11
14
11
ab
  r
  h
rbi
Raines lf
6
3
3
2
Boggs 3b
5
3
1
0
O'Neill rf
5
2
4
2
  Rivera pr,rf
0
0
0
0
Fielder dh
6
1
1
3
5
1
1
2
4
0
3
0
Jeter ss
6
0
3
3
6
0
2
0
Sojo 2b
3
0
0
0
  Duncan ph,2b
2
1
2
0
  Fox pr,2b
0
1
0
0
  Strawberry ph
0
0
0
0
  Kelly pr,2b
0
0
0
0
Key p
0
0
0
0
  Bones p
0
0
0
0
  Pavlas p
0
0
0
0
  Nelson p
0
0
0
0
  Polley p
0
0
0
0
  Weathers p
0
0
0
0
  Lloyd p
0
0
0
0
  Wetteland p
0
0
0
0
Totals
48
12
20
12
Boston
0
0
0

1
5
2

3
0
0

0
11
14
1
New York
0
0
1

0
3
3

3
1
0

1
12
20
0

IP
H
R
ER
BB
SO
Maddux  
4.0
7
3
2
1
1
  Gunderson  
0.0
0
1
1
1
0
  Mahomes  
1.2
4
3
3
1
2
  Eshelman  
0.2
2
3
3
4
1
  Brandenburg  
0.2
2
0
0
0
0
  Slocumb  
2.0
3
1
1
3
2
  Hudson  L (3-5)
0.2
2
1
1
2
0
Totals
9.2
20
12
11
12
6
IP
H
R
ER
BB
SO
Key  
4.2
8
6
6
2
2
  Bones  
0.1
2
2
2
0
1
  Pavlas  
1.1
1
1
1
1
0
  Nelson  
0.0
2
2
2
1
0
  Polley  
0.2
0
0
0
0
0
  Weathers  
0.2
1
0
0
0
2
  Lloyd  
0.1
0
0
0
0
0
  Wetteland  W (2-3)
2.0
0
0
0
2
1
Totals
10.0
14
11
11
6
6

  E–Vaughn (15).  DP–Boston 1, New York 2.  2B–Boston Haselman 2 (12,off Key,off Nelson); Canseco (22,off Key); Bragg (23,off Bones); Greenwell (18,off Pavlas); Pemberton (6,off Nelson), New York Jeter (24,off Mahomes); B Williams (25,off Brandenburg).  3B–Boston Garciaparra (3,off Key).  HR–Boston Haselman (6,6th inning off Bones 0 on, 0 out).  SH–Garciaparra (1,off Pavlas); R Rivera (1,off Hudson).  HBP–Vaughn 2 (14,by Key,by Polley); Pemberton (1,by Bones).  IBB–Vaughn (19,by Pavlas); Cordero (4,by Wetteland); Strawberry (5,by Slocumb).  SB–Garciaparra (4,2nd base off Bones/Girardi); Frye (16,3rd base off Wetteland/Girardi); Nixon (1,2nd base off Wetteland/Girardi); Raines (10,2nd base off Slocumb/Haselman).  HBP–Key (2,Vaughn); Bones (10,Pemberton); Polley (3,Vaughn).  IBB–Slocumb (4,Strawberry); Pavlas (2,Vaughn); Wetteland (4,Cordero).  U-HP–Jim Evans, 1B–Larry McCoy, 2B–Dale Ford, 3B–Chuck Meriwether.  T–4:45.  A–54,599.
Game played on Saturday, September 21, 1996 at Yankee Stadium
Baseball Almanac Box Score |


The game took close to five hours to complete - due in no small part to the fact that the two teams' pitchers combined to issue eighteen walks.   They needed something to break up the monotony of all those base hits I suppose. 

Had I carried a cell phone in 1996 I am quite confident that Margaret would have called at least once to make sure that we were still alive and well.  I did not.  Therefore she did not.  The game finally ended in the bottom of the tenth inning when with two outs the Yankees plated the winning run courtesy of a single off of the bat of their seven-hole hitter.  A slightly built young fellow with hair on his head and an earnest look on his face who had played shortstop well enough all season to be featured prominently in the conversation for American League Rookie of the Year.  Jeter stroked the hit and as the winning run crossed home plate he rounded first base with his fist raised triumphantly.   After Jeter made his announcement, I found myself ferreting around in the basement.  The day after Rob's maiden voyage to the Stadium I had made him something to commemorate our day.  Given my abject lack of artistic ability, it is not much to see.  Yet seeing that it has survived all these years brought a smile to my face.




In the two decades or so that have passed between that season and this one, I have smiled watching Jeter and his fist pump too many times to count.  Back in the day, before college and then full-fledged adulthood (his, not mine) interceded Rob and I used to watch a lot of those moments in each other's company.  Time passes.  Children are no longer children.  For the past few years we have rooted for the Yankees from two different time zones.  Geography has done little to blunt the passion.   

This past Wednesday, as he awaited the arrival of his teammates in Tampa, Florida to start Spring Training, Derek Jeter announced that this upcoming season shall be his last.  Whenever the Yankees' 2014 season ends - and for those keeping score at home their final regular season series is at Fenway Park - so shall his extraordinary career.  He no longer has the full head of hair he had way back when he was a rookie in '96.  These things happen.  I have a hell of a lot more gray and white hair on my head than I did in 1996 so far be it for me to sound critical of his situation. 

2014.  It is the year in which my once-young son shall take a bride.  It is the year in which the manager of the 1996 World Series Champion New York Yankees....and the 1998 World Series Champion New York Yankees....and the 1999 World Series Champion New York Yankees....and the 2000 World Series Champion New York Yankees, a Brooklynite named Joe Torre, shall be enshrined in the Baseball Hall-of-Fame.  And it is the year in which Derek Jeter shall bid the New York Yankees farewell.  The final member of the Core Four.  The last remaining member of Joe Torre's Dynasty.  

     
The hero of Fan Appreciation Day 1996 - and the hero to a lot of appreciative fans on too many days to count in the years since then.   

For him, now, the sunset beckons. 

-AK