Monthly Archives: October 2007

The Way the Bird Flies

As I was working last Wednesday and talking to Jackie on the phone, a bird smashed into the window directly over my left shoulder. “What was that?!” ByebyebirdieJackie said. “It was loud!” Yea, I replied.  You’re telling me.  I was almost afraid to look over my shoulder.  Was there a band of tough kids throwing rocks at houses? I looked.  Yuck. Bird guts splattered on the glass. And some feathers. I spent the rest of the day avoiding the front of the house where the bird would have landed. It’s no way it could have survived.  Believe me, it was gross. How could he have not seen the side of my house? Dumb bird. That’s right, Deidre, deflect. It was the bird’s fault.

And it was Torre’s fault that he was treated so badly by the Yankees.  Talk about grossly handled. Not that anyone would expect much out of an organization that seems to pride itself on public hostility. And I really want to like George Steinbrenner. I want to think he’s mellowed with age. Maybe it was his association with the Olympics. Maybe it’s the way Seinfeld episodes framed the owner’s bizarre behavior. It was cute. However, just like J. Peterman never really ran off to Myanmar (aka Burma), Steinbrenner really isn’t lovable.

What else was gross this week? It could either be the World Series ticket scandal in Denver or the fans’ handling about the whole thing. The rumor was that the team held back tickets from locals so that the team could sell them to tourists  who would then come to the city, eat out, stay in hotels, rent cars. In general, spend lots of money. Each ticket to a tourist would bring the city far more revenue than a ticket used by some yokel who would go home afterward. Not that there was anything better for locals to do after the games. There was nothing to celebrate. But the fans still lamented the business of on-line ticket sales where seats were going for upwards of $800 a piece. Others wondered why they couldn’t get tickets at the ticket windows at Coors Field. A conspiracy!

And gross displays of rioting? Nevermind that in Denver. There was nothing to riot over. Well, that’s if you discount the fact that the Red Sox out hit the Rockies by 18 smacks, which resulted in 19 more runs for Boston over the course of the four game series. Ugly. And people wanted more of that? As if the Red Sox were to blame.

I was listening to what would turn out to be the last game of the series while I decorated the house for Halloween on Sunday.  I was out front and putting cute little pumpkin stakes into the ground underneath our palm tree. I was reminded that it was about two years ago that we buried our cat, Brooksie (named after Orioles 3B Brooks Robinson) under that tree. As I was feeling all serene and proud of my little plastic pumpkin patch, I saw some fur blow by. Huh? A sign from Brooksie? Weird. Wait, it’s not fur. Feathers are blowing by… I looked around me and saw that I was surrounded by what seemed like a hundred little feathers dancing on top of the crisp leaves in my makeshift grove. Why feathers? My other cat doesn’t chase birds… Ewwww, it’s the bird from my window!!!! Gross.

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From Where I’m Sitting

Now, don’t go thinking that I’m all sad about turning 40 last week, professional athletes have been younger than me for a long time. And I’ve been empathizing with the parents of athletes for a long time. It may have been after my first kid was born but it could have been my knee surgery at age 30 that sidelined my Injured_football_player insatiable appetite for playing soccer several times a week. In a short amount of time I turned from an athlete to a bystander. The next year, I was a mom. It was a paradigm shift for me to think “That poor guy” when I saw a player carted off a football field — especially one of the Cowboys — his bone visibly disjointed. I sat next to an athlete’s mother just the other day.  Some parents and I took my F.C. Dinosaurs team to see a University of Washington men’s soccer team and one of the players was hurt and down for a while.  “Come on baby, get up,” I heard the woman next to me whisper.  I was wondering throughout the day how it was that she knew all of the players’ names and their backgrounds. I figured she was some over-zealous soccer booster. She was the stricken player’s mom. “Come on baby…” 

But it’s not always when a player is hurt. When I watch the Olympics and see the parents in the stands and think of the years of family sacrifice to get their child to that point. I don’t require all of that mushy stuff that the networks thinks appeals to women viewers. All it takes for me to get emotional is to see a dad wiping tears from his daughter’s cheek after she narrowly missed medal contention. Or wiping his own tears as his son stands on the podium. I’m a goner.

And I was a goner on Sunday night when I saw Dustin Pedroia, Boston’s 23-year-old rookie leadoff hitter, play the game of his life in what was probably the game he’s been dreaming about since he was a youngster. His team had been up by three only to see the momentum swing to Cleveland as the Indians cut Parents Boston’s lead to only one run. And it stood there for a few innings until Pedroia’s two-run homer – his ninth of the season – with one out, scoring Jacoby Ellsbury, another one of Boston’s tykes. I cheered the boys as they rounded the bases!

All in all, Pedroia batted .345 for the series.  Not bad for a boy who is earning only $350,000 this year and who, in his senior year at Arizona State, returned his senior year scholarship to the team so that the coaches could offer the money to an up-and-coming pitcher. Now, there’s something a parent could be proud of.

FROM WOODSTOCK TO NIRVANA TO….?

“Man!  Is he still playing?!” I asked incredulously after hearing Kenny Lofton’s name announced during the first round of the playoffs. “He’s old!” Indeed, he is, 1992_nirvana old. Old like me. All 40 years of it. But it doesn’t seem to be bothering either of us very much. Having just turned 40 only last Thursday, I’m still getting used to the idea. Kenny, born in May, has had a few more months to get comfy with his fortydom. But our similarities end there – at 40. Last night he was center stage after hitting a two-run homer off of Boston’s flame throwing “Disco” (I’ve stumped before for a name change for “Dice-K” to my preferred title, Disco. There’ve been no takers). So, there he was wowing the crowd. And there I was. Snuggled under a blanket and licking the wounds left from a birthday weekend in Las Vegas. It’s times like this that I think I should have done more with my 40 years…

But tomorrow Kenny Boy will face off against Tim Wakefield, Boston’s 41-year-old knuckleballer. Lofton didn’t seem fazed. “Just have to wait for the ball to level out” he said in an interview about how to hit the wily pitch. He sounds so calm and collected, now. But he was once green. So weren’t we all? Wakefield, Lofton and I were all starting out in 1992. Nirvana was on the radio As I was saying, Nirvana was on the radio and I was working as a paralegal in a D.C. law firm. Wakefield and Lofton were also embarking on promising careers. Kenny Lofton was the Number Two vote getter for the AL’s Rookie of the Year while playing for Cleveland; Wakefield was Number Three ROY contender in the NL when he played for Pittsburgh. Pat “Who?” Listach was the ROY taker for the AL with 54 stolen bases, 12 less than Lofton. “Who?,” who turned 40 last month, retired with a lifetime batting average of .251 after the 1998 season. He was 29. Sounds like an obit. It is, in baseball terms.

Turning our attention to the 1992 NL ROY race, Eric Karros, who turns 40 next month, took the prize. What promise! He played regularly – mostly for the Dodgers – until the 2003 season. But he was released in the middle of the 2004 season, having never played a position other than first base and having never made an All-star team. What an atrocity! The second place NL ROY was Moises Alou, who turned 41 this past July. He was also third in MVP voting in 1994 and 1998.  Talk about always the bridesmaid… But not in 1997, when his Florida Marlins won the World Series. Who cares about the bridesmaid dress if you have a dandy ring?1967_woodstock

And here’s Kenny Lofton, who’s been to the World Series dance twice, but lost – once with Cleveland (1995) and once with the Giants (2002). I’d really, really, really like to see him get a ring. But not this year. See, I was born in Boston. In 1967. Jimi Hendrix was on the radio. It was Game Six of the World Series when I bothered the family to arrive. It was nearing the end of “The Impossible Dream” season that turned out to be impossible the very next day when St. Louis won Game Seven, 7-2. I’ve been told by my family that it was the worst day of my life. Well, I guess it was nice to get that out of the way…

photo credits: www.rollingstone.com; www.classicrockrevisited.com

A BYGONE ERA

Get your mind out of the post-season! I’m not talking about “Earned Run Average.” I’m talking about and era – as in epoch. Sure, baseball had its dead ball era. And there was the steroid era. How many of you have heard of the MG era? It was from June 2004 and ended last Saturday at 11:30 AM. The MG era is the three summers I spent with my car, the MG. That’s a picture of it, there, overturned. I was in the car when it rolled and, amazingly, I’m not hurt. This tidbit makes me part of a very exclusive club, members of which climb out of a toppled old convertible with nothing but a scratch on their pinky finger.
Mg_crash_1
I’m still not sure how I ended up unscathed but there it is. In fact, I popped out of the driver’s side window and walked over to coach my son’s soccer match. Sure, I was shaking but not as shaken as those who witnessed the accident, such as my husband who didn’t know what to expect as he approached the car. For a few seconds I was the only one who knew I was OK. Maybe that’s why I climbed out so fast. Then again, I don’t remember giving it much thought. When you’re in an upside down car with the canvas top caved in, there’s really only one thing on your mind: getting out. Fortunately, for me it was possible.

Basically, the brakes gave out when I parked the car on a steep hill. As it started rolling forward, I opened the door and reached in to “curb” the wheels but I ran out of curb when the car gained momentum and the curb quickly became a driveway. I jumped back into the car to get it under control but couldn’t. The brakes weren’t responding and, because the keys were out, the wheel was locked. I was screwed. The car gained steam as it rolled off the driveway and into some trees, a bush and a recycling bin. Then I ran out of driveway and the earth under the passenger side wheels turned into a steep embankment. That’s where the rolling happened and where I thought that I could be in big trouble. I was in utter disbelief as the car started to tip over rather slowly. This really did nothing for my state of mind. Fast or slow, I think rolling over is pretty much the same to the person inside. I looked up and saw the canvas top start to buckle and tear and I wondered where this was going to end. Honestly, I was incensed. Oh, and, since I’d just jumped back into the car, I didn’t have my seatbelt on. (I’m not really sure why they have seatbelts in MGs anyway. Decoration?). Anyway, the car settled on a table, which I now refer to as my “lucky table.” A friend who saw the whole thing said the car had barely stopped moving when he saw me pop out the window, snapping the side view mirror off and shattering its glass. That’s how I got the scratch on my finger. I told everyone I was OK and ran over to the soccer field, leaving my frazzled husband to call 911 and talk to the firemen and police who arrived within a minute of the car going down.

(There’s a photo of my FC Dinosaur team. My son, Tony is the redhead in front  –>) Fc_dinosaurs_2 

I suppose it could be said that I left the scene of the accident but I wasn’t far away and it wasn’t long before my husband said the authorities needed to talk with me. I’m not sure that they were more peeved or amazed that I was 30 yards away in a huddle with six 5-year-old boys. And when I asked for nothing more than a bandaid to stop the blood dripping from my right hand, the firemen didn’t do a good job at stifling their smiles. They looked at the underbelly of my car and got the bandaid. How often do they get called to such a grisly scene and not have to do anything? For the record one of the firemen did ask if I felt like I needed to go to the hospital. I’m not sure if it was a joke or if he had to ask that. I wonder what they thought as they pulled up. I wonder what they told the guys back at the firehouse.

In retrospect, I’m sure I was in a state of shock. Evidence? I don’t even remember if the firemen were cute or not. The fact that three fireman were there to tend to me entirely slipped my mind. Instead, I asked the firemen if they had any stickers for the little boys on my soccer team. Sorry, girls, I’ll be turning in my card.

And tomorrow marks the passing of another era: My Thirties. What a week! Jackie and I are off to Vegas with a bunch that, in order to protect the innocent, will be referred only to as “the group.” And, yes, there will be photos. Maybe I’ll get another MG for my birthday…

IF THIS HOT DOG COULD TALK

The hot dog and I enjoyed a playful relationship for much of the night. I would open the warmer lid a few times, eyeball my dog — toy with it, if you may — and close the lid. The first time I surveyed the hot dog, I opted instead for a Safeco_night_group_2 salad starter with a side of hot wings. A drop of Pinot Grigio was a civilized complement. Then I circled back to check on my edible friend. I lifted the lid again and, upon seeing it quivering in its encasement along with its comrades, I decided that, yes, it was time. Alas! There were no buns. As the buns were summoned, I busied myself with another wing or two and a bean salad. Nice food in the Safeco Suite. When the buns arrived, I didn’t hesitate. Opening the warming lid again, the light shone on my glistening dog — it was divine providence. I made my move but nearly dropped the tongs when I realized there were no more onions. Bugger! I shall wait. The last dog of the baseball season needed to be perfect.

Ultimately, it was, as was the evening. As if sponsoring the Savvy Girls Day at the Park on August 28th wasn’t enough, Safeco Insurance generously hosted the last Savvy Girls event of the season. This final shindig was a party in the company’s executive suite, directly behind home plate, and the guests were about 20 women who were the raffle winners from the 8/28 event. For me and Jackie, it wasn’t just a warm setting to relax with these great people but a special way for us to ring out the season. It’s been an emotional one, after all. When Opening Day arrived she and I had been entrenched in our manuscript for six months. As the season rolled on, it was about doing everything we could to make sure the 8/28 event was a phenomenal success. Then we started reaching out to other MLB teams to plan 2008 events. And there was keeping up with our editor in New York and designing our scoring journal. To us, the end of the season is a time to exhale. It’s a time to look back on what we’ve accomplished. It’s a time to be thankful that we’ve met the people we have and be doing work that we thoroughly enjoy. Not to get all sappy, but there it is. Now….back to work, you. And it was a great night.

Along with getting some quality time with other Savvy Girls, it wasn’t lost on me that I was a baseball fan in a suite. It was from here that I watched Ichiro slide into home, his lithe body fully extended sideways, toes pointed to the visitors dugout by third base with only his fingertips on home plate as the throw scorched in from the cutoff man. The play was close but he was safe. It’s a view that I don’t get often and one that I wish more fans could experience. From my season ticket seats, which are also very good, the play woSafeco_night_sosauld probably look like a pedestrian run. I’d color in Ichiro’s diamond on my score sheet and never realize the acrobatics involved in the play. Then again, maybe the play wasn’t that close and Ichiro was just being a hot dog. It’s possible.

We got to see a diminutive Sammy Sosa whose weight was listed at 225 lbs in the program. To me, that number was bloated by 30 lbs. But who are we to quibble? If I could drop 30 lbs by kicking a steroid habit, I’d do it. During this catty mental conversation, I recalled that it was the Texas Rangers who signed Sosa when he was a teenager in the Dominican Republic. And, this year, the team took him back into their embrace, saving him from another humbling stint in the minor leagues. (I wrote about this before when discussing Ken Griffey, Jr. and the home run race of the late 1990s.)

At the end of the night, we were having too much fun to care that the Rangers were losing or get too sentimental about the end of another season. This morning I was awakened too early by the paper boy barreling our Sunday paper off the side of our house like a sack of bricks. I thought of that because last Safeco_night_dj night I was informed that they are scarce in the Midwest. Bricks, that is, not paper boys. I told my husband to roll over and started downloading the night’s pictures in the morning twilight. I cropped and fixed red eye and began writing. Thank you Safeco for yet another great night of baseball memories. And especially for the onions. I think it was the best dog of the season.

Photos: Deidre Silva