Monday, March 31, 2008

Smart Women Love Baseball

According to this article on !

A really well written piece, and I agree with many of her points. The little details one learns by closely examining a game, for example:
What a woman will see upon careful examination of the game is that what at first seemed arbitrary is in fact, well-orchestrated: a foul ball is not an insignificant annoyance, but an expression of the battle raging between a pitcher and his prey; the left-fielder who once looked to be pacing in boredom in the outfield is not only keeping his blood pumping in the chilly October air but positioning himself to discourage the base-runner on third who is angling for home.
And there's also the visual beauty of the game:
Through close attention to the game, women begin to appreciate a masculinity defined not by muscles or money but by hard work and humility. Baseball players are men, after all, who sublimate the more primitive characteristics encouraged in other sports — aggression, rage, dominance — in favor of something approaching grace...
Thank heavens the Red Sox will begin the season (or begin again?) tomorrow evening. It's a late game from California - we're playing the A's at 10:07 pm - but at least I'll have a box score that I'm interested in reading Wednesday morning. And by the end of the week, they'll be back in the Eastern Time Zone (although not in our own country - they're playing in Toronto!)

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Take Me Out to the Ball Game

CBS Sunday Morning had a great feature about the song, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." I didn't know that what we sing at the ball park is, in fact, the refrain. The song is actually about a young lady, whose boyfriend wants to take her out on a fancy date. She says, no, must take me out to the ball game!

Here's a story from MSN about a recent book about the song:

The original song was written in 1908, and was a huge hit. It was re-recorded in 1927 - here is that version (slightly different from the earlier one)

Nelly Kelly loved baseball games,
Knew the players, knew all their names,
You could see her there ev'ry day,
Shout "Hurray" when they'd play.
Her boy friend by the name of Joe
Said, "To Coney Isle, dear, let's go,"
Then Nelly started to fret and pout,
And to him I heard her shout.

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

Nelly Kelly was sure some fan,
She would root just like any man,
Told the umpire he was wrong,
All along, good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Nelly Kelly knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the game sing this song.

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

Gee, don't know any gals like that!


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Braves vs. Nationals

In honor of the season opener on ESPN - Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals


World Series Predictions

Watching BBTN - several are picking the Chicago Cubs to be in the Series. I kinda hope that's true. I have a colleage who is a HUGE Cubs fan, and I'd love to see it for his sake. Plus, isn't it time for them to lay to rest their two curses - Bartman and the goat.

But these dudes are also saying the Sox won't make it. As a matter of fact, several "experts" even are predicting the JAYS to win the East and the Yanks to get the Wild Card. That leaves the RS out in the cold.

Okayl I remember '05 all too well. Watching the Sox get swept by the White Sox. Sitting in a solitary hotel room in Pittsburgh, drinking beers from Room Service and silently crying at the unfairness of it.

But I dont' see that happening in '08. The Sox are too stacked to end up sitting at home for too many rounds of the playoffs. If we stay healthy, I can't see the Jays (or Baltimore or the Rays or even the Yanks!) beating us.

My dream: Red Sox vs. Braves. I have enough connections to Atlanta (as well as proximity) that I might realize a dream and see a World Series game!


A cartoonist who gets it

Cartoon by Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

How refreshing that our local political cartoonist chooses to focus on our love of the game!


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Great card

My friends know me too well!

Mr. Beckett

To totally get you into the mood for the start of the season (still a few days away, I know), check out this vid of Josh. I know he won't be starting for us for a while yet - maybe a week or so - but I'm so looking forward to seeing his awesomeness in action again!

And, only 7 hours until baseball - Sox vs. Dodgers in the LA Colliseum at 10 pm on NESN.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Happy Birthday to me

Happy Birthday to me! I wish I was able to watch some Red Sox baseball tonight - but apparently, no one is showing this important exhibition game between the Red Sox and the Dodgers. However, NESN IS broadcasting the game tomorrow night, so we've got that going for us...

In the meantime, party on, dudes

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cover Boys

Time for the spring baseball preview issue of SI - and here's a preview of the fold-out cover. How cool to see 2 Sox and no Yanks! I just hope Jacoby & Clay can avoid the SI Cover Jinx!

Sox lost their second game in Japan this morning. The offense looked weak - made the As starting pitcher Harden look like a Cy Young winner. Manny did hit a homerun - I believe it's his 491st career HR.

Right after the game, the Sox jumped on their charter plane and began the journey back to America. They should arrive in LA tonight. Thursday they'll hold optional workouts as the guys try to reset their body clocks. Then they play three games vs. the Dodgers. The Friday and Sunday games aren't televised - yeah GameDay Audio - but Saturday night's game is on NESN.

It is on!!

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Game 1: or Beth vs. DirectTV

Getty Images

The Major League Baseball season is now under way!! The Red Sox opened the season Tuesday morning in Tokyo, with the first pitch thrown at 6:09 am. I was up at 4:30 - wanted to be showered and ready when the pre-game show started at 5. Imagine my (surprise, shock, anger) when I flicked on the tv at 5 - and had the message, "Searching for satellite signal." Okay - I go thru the checklist: weather = clear. DirecTV bill = paid. Connections = checked. Hmm. So I scan through the channels. I seem to have nearly all of them - except NESN and ESPN2, the two channels broadcasting the game!

A quick look at Sox message boards makes me realize this is happening nationwide. Not just DTV subscribers, but some who have Comcast cable are reporting similar problems. Thank Heavens I also subscribe to cable, so I was able to watch the game on ESPN2 there. To have been completely shut out would have made me (homicidal, suicidal)

It turns out there was some kind of national outage. They finally recovered NESN around the 8th inning - long after I left for work. My new DVR lay unused and neglected.

But the important thing is: the Red Sox won! An incredible game: 10 innings, four RBIs for Manny, some very shaky pitching from starter Daisuke and our bullpen. (I keep saying, "it's only March, it's only March.") JD Drew "injured." Brandon Moss' first ML home run.

Manny was named MVP of the game. He's shown above showing off the fruits of that title: One Million Yen (plus a color printer/copier from sponsor RICOH). When asked, he said he was going to spend the check on "gas money." I just hope he doesn't try to cash that check at a bank in Kenmore Square.

I think a Manny in incredible physical shape, plus a Manny entering a contract year, could mean an awesome offensive output for our Peter Pan of Left Field.

Tuesday a.m.: Yes, I actually have my DirecTV today!! However, because the Red Sox are the "visiting team," NESN is blacked out. So, I'm stuck with Steve Philips and that buffoon Gary Thorne. Oh, well...

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Monday, March 24, 2008

T minus 10

I am suddenly incredibly excited. Maybe it's watching all the ESPN programs this afternoon, fuming with indignation that Buster Olney would dare to pick the Yankees to win the division (RS as wild card), and predicting the Indians would go to the WS. Maybe it's been reading all the blogs, hearing what the eyewitnesses have reported from Tokyo. Maybe it's being without REAL baseball for nearly 5 months. Whatever the reason - I'M SO PSYCHED FOR TOMORROW!

Yes, real baseball starts tomorrow at 6:05 am. I know it's stupid that the first pitch will be at an hour when you can't toast it with a Sam Adams. I know it's stupid that it's taking place in a land far, far away. And I know it's all about the $$ - Bud Selig is trying to extent MLB's claws into the Far East, to tap into another $$ market. And yet....

And yet...

And yet...It's baseball! It's our team! It's the start of the 2008 title defense! It's a chance to see Pedie, Youk, Papi, Manny, Mikey, JD, Tek, Jacoby, Julio and the Dice in action!! I've got a brand new scorebook, a fresh page to start the story of the '08 season, ready to fill in the lineups and tick off each ball and strike. And so what if it makes me late for work!! See you at 5am, fellow fanatics!!

LET'S GO RED SOX, clap-clap, clap-clap-clap

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RemDawg goes to Tokyo

As you are aware, the Sox have a huge media contingent with them in Japan (compared to the Oakland As, who didn't even bring a film crew with them). Some of the folks have really taken advantage of the opportunity to experience the culture of Japan. Rob Bradford's blog has been fantastic, and Dan Roche has been pretty good (he did break the story about Papelbon buying a samurai sword!). And it was fun to listen to Joe and Dale yesterday morning on the radio talking about some of their experiences eating marinated raw horse meat!

But some aren't quite getting into the spirit. I ventured into an article by CHB yesterday, and found this buried item:
Like me, Jerry Remy is something of an accidental tourist: Try to replicate a trip to Cleveland and everything will be OK. This means USA Today, air conditioning, ESPN, room service hamburgers. Most of our ugly American needs have been met. Rem-Dawg has been frequenting the Trader Vic's in the team hotel because he knows what he's going to get. Told about a local restaurant he might like, Remy said, "Is it outside the hotel? No way."
Somehow this doesn't surprise me - RemDawg doesn't deal with the travel aspect of his job with a lot of grace. So it was wonderful to see a report on NESN's SportsDesk this morning - Remy venturing outside of the hotel!

Rem said his sightseeing up to that point have been limited to the hotel lobby. But, in the company of new reporter Naoko Funayama - who seems to be doing an extended audition for Tina Cervasio's job - he actually walked around the neighborhood. The sight of Remy trying to recruit two women for "Sox Appeal," trying to get directions to the Tokyo Dome, and attending a makeup demonstration on the street - comedy gold.

It made me wonder why NESN doesn't make this a regular feature on the Sox broadcasts. Why not have Remy and Wally visiting the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland? How about Remy throwing fish at the Pike Place Market in Seattle? Helping Don Orsillo find a tanning bed in Kansas City? Having Raymond give him a tour of Tampa? The possibilities are endless!

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Utter Waste of Promise Unexplored

I've watched two films this weekend that made me angry. Angry over the utter waste.

For several years I've resisted reading Jon Krakauer's book "Into the Wild." It's incredibly popular with my students (as are his other books), but I knew the basic story and knew it would be sad. Yet, the filmed version of it (written and directed by Sean Penn) has been well-reviewed, and I got it thru Netflix this weekend. And it utterly ticked me off.

It's a true story. Child of privilege, Alex McCandless, graduates from Emery. He's aimless, not sure what to do next, but knows he wants to find himself. So, he loads up his car and heads west, not telling his family his plans nor ever contacting them to let the know where he is. He floats through a series of encounters and adventures, eventually ending up living in an abandoned bus in the middle of the wilds of Alaska. He runs out of food, and dies. His body is discovered weeks later, along with the journals of his journey.

So, there he was. He graduated from college with no debt, his parents willing to finance his graduate studies. He blows them off, and basically commits suicide. Actually, it might have been better had he taken some pills or put a shotgun to his head. Instead, he committed suicide in a passive-aggressive manner, leaving his parents hanging for nearly two years with nary a word from him. Oh, poor Alex, he had a really bad time. His parents nearly divorced when he was young, they didn't "understand" him, he wanted to "experience" life in a way he couldn't. Boo-fucking-hoo.

In so many ways, he reminds me of some of my own students. Many have been blessed with a family that values education and has the means to afford them a superlative education. Yet, some don't take advantage of it. They cruise by, making the average grades, not causing a ripple on the surface of life. You hope that they will awaken from their egocentric daze, that they'll see how incredibly lucky they are, appreciate what they've been given, and make the most of it. Unfortunately, sometimes they make that discovery too late. And that's the saddest part.

This coordinates with another movie I watched this weekend. It's an oldie, one I don't think I've watched in 20 or more years. But I recently read an article in "Vanity Fair" on its making, and it's celebrating its 40th anniversary. It's "The Graduate," the landmark film directed by Mike Nichols; the film that introduced us to a young stage actor named Dustin Hoffman.

Looking at it years later, it really is a seminal film, one that reveals the feeling of the late 60s. The unease and disillusionment that generation felt, how many felt rudderless, lost in the climate of Vietnam. And yet, I found myself looking at it from the distance of the years and through my nearly 50-year-old-eyes. Take the last scene of the film: Ben and Elaine are on a bus, having escaped Elaine's wedding, and they're heading out into their unknown future. Once, I looked at this scene with the optimism of youth: they have the whole world before them. Now, I found myself saying, hey, you've got no prospects, no job, how are you going to live? I saw that realization dawn on each them, their smiles fading as they took a good hard look at their choices. Instead of that optimism, I felt sad for them. It seemed to me now that they had set themselves up to repeat their parents' lives, to be stuck in the ennui of suburbia. I can picture them today, in 2008 - they've been married 40 years, they're in their 60s. Ben is popping Viagra, while Elaine is either drinking too much or finding comfort in much younger men - like her mother.

I hate to sound bitter or jealous. My parents never handed me a check for my education - it was up to me to find the scholarships and loans. It took me years to pay off my student loans. And yet, it made me value my education. Every time I was tempted to skip a class - to go out barhopping instead of studying - I reminded myself of what that degree was costing me. Don't get me wrong, I certainly had my share of good times - but it was always tempered with the idea of balance. Yes, I was egocentric like all college kids, but that me-attitude pushed me to excel - because I needed to capitalize on my academic success to support me after college. I had no safety net. Which is what I guess I resent in some of my kids - they have the luxury of failing, of making several attempts to find happiness - knowing that someone is covering their back.

Would I have done things differently if I'd had that kind of support? Would I have tried a different academic major? Would I have done something less sensible, chosen a course of study that wouldn't have guaranteed me a job? I don't know. I do know that if I'd had those choices, I wouldn't be the me of today. And what is that? Someone with a really great, happy life. Able to afford crazy Red Sox vacations, to travel the world. One who can go to the mall and blow $$ on senseless items with no one complaining about the bills! Someone who is sensible 90% of the time, and insane 10% of the time.

Oh, my, I'm getting closer to sitting in a rocker on my front porch, ranting about these kids and their rock and roll music! I didn't intend this to be a manifesto or an exploration of a midlife crisis! Excuse my self-indulgence - but, hey, it's my blog and I'll cry if I want to!

In the meantime, don't bother with "Into the Wild"!

Red Sox 2, Japanese Teams 0

AP Photo/Koji Sasahara

So, the Sox today beat the Yomiuri Giants, 9-2, the highlight of which was a grand slam by JD Drew - pictured above with the 3 teammates who scored ahead of him.

I've said all along that I think Drew is going to have a very different year from last year. He had a lot of stuff going on in his life away from the field - a sick child, for one thing, and another on the way, as well as adjusting to life in the Boston spotlight. But he really started to turn things around in the last month of the season - and his grand slam in game 6 of the ALCS made a lot of fans forget those early struggles.

I think his could be the turnaround story of the year. And I suspect that if Drew is hitting, performing up to both his and our expectations, this could be one of the keys to the Red Sox repeating in '08.

And don't expect this output of posts to continue. I have to go back to work on Tuesday!

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Red Sox Drinking Game

This was from the new issue of "Improper Bostonian" - the one with Mikey on cover. This could be fun to try at 6:05 am Tuesday and Wednesday (not!). Again, I'm just cribbing this from them!

Jacoby Ellsbury: Drink every time NESN shows a "Marry Me Jacoby!" sign or a girl in a "Mrs. Ellsbury" t-shirt.

Manny Ramirez: Drink for every extra-base hit... Double if his helmet stays on.

Kevin Youkilis: Drink for every pitch he sees with a 3-2 count... Double if he walks.

Dustin Pedroia: Double the inning number when Pedroia first gets his uniform dirty, and drink that number.

Mike Lowell: Drink for every shot off the wall... Double if he's held to a single.

Jason Varitek: Order a round of drinks for every Tek strikeout, because at least he's good with the pitchers.

David Ortiz: Drink to calm your nerves every time Papi slides into a base with the grace of a newborn giraffe.

J.D. Drew: Drink for 14 seconds (1 for every million double plays), for every DP Drew grounds into over the next 4 years.

Julio Lugo: Grab a snack every time Lugo fails to get on base (can't do all the drinking on an empty stomach).

Wild Cards: Drink through the entirety of each Remy/Orsillo laughing fit. Kill whatever you're drinking if Kyle Snyder is in before the 5th inning. If the game is on FOX, just drink.


Recipe: Monte Cristo Strata

I made this for Easter brunch. I made a few changes from the original recipe to lower the Points value! Very yummy! And perfect for those mornings when you'd rather listen to the Red Sox play in Japan than prepare breakfast.

Monte Cristo Strata

Serves: 12
6 WW Points according to Recipe Builder
Prep time: 15 minutes (plus overnight)
Cooking time: 40-45 minutes
Level of difficulty: Easy


  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups fat-free skim milk
  • 6 shakes Tobasco sauce
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 loaf reduced-calorie bread
  • 8 oz deli-sliced turkey
  • 8 oz sliced ham, lean
  • 3 cups lite swiss cheese, shredded


Spray a 9x13 inch pan with vegetable oil spray. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, Tobasco and mustard until blended.

Arrange as much of the bread as you can in a single layer in the prepared pan. Top, in layers, with the turkey, ham and half the cheese. Top with the remaining bread, and pour on the egg mixture, tilting the pan to make sure the bread is coated. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Let the strata sit at room temperature while you preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake until puffed and golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes.

Source: Adapted from “Perfect Party Food” by Diane Phillips (via Chattanooga TFP, 3/19/08)


Saturday, March 22, 2008

SI opens its vaults

Sports Illustrated has recently opened up its vault of articles! You can look at literally every article they've ever published - now for free. It's an incredible resource - you can trace the history of so many subjects, or reread favorite articles from the past.

Which leads me to this: one of my all-time favorite columns written by Peter Gammons after the 1986 World Series. It's entitled "Living and Dying With The Woe Sox." It was one of the first articles that gave him national exposure, introduced the rest of the US to his brilliance. I carried a tattered copy of this article with me for years - pasted copies in my scrapbooks and journals, even laminated one. I nearly memorized it. It so perfectly summarized how I felt after that Series. Some of my favorite lines:
I told a friend. "But before we could find out what it feels like to win, we have to be made to suffer one last, excruciating time."...
How will it feel? For years we had asked ourselves, "How will it feel if the Red Sox ever win?" ... How, in God's name, will it feel?
Well, it took another 18 years for us to find out. How did it feel? As I lay on the floor on that incredible night in October 2004, sobbing with relief and excitement, I remember thinking about that line. How did it feel? Damn good.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

They've arrived!

(Getty Images Photo / Toshifumi Kitamura)
So, the boys have arrived in Japan! Looks like the 19 hour flight didn't take much out of Mr. Wakefield!

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A glance at the schedule

Thanks to for spelling out what is in store for the Red Sox over the next few weeks:

To help you make sense of it all, below you'll find the Sox' schedule of games from now until they get their rings at the Fenway Park opener about three weeks from now. All times are Eastern.

March 21: Red Sox vs. Hanshin Tigers, 11:05 p.m. (Exhibition in Japan)
March 23: Red Sox vs. Yomiuri Giants, 6:05 a.m. (Exhibition in Japan)
March 25: Red Sox vs. Athletics, 6:05 a.m. (Regular season opener in Japan) -- on NESN/ESPN2
March 26: Red Sox vs. Athletics, 6:05 a.m. (Regular season game in Japan) -- on NESN/ESPN2
March 28: Red Sox at Dodgers, 10:40 p.m. (Exhibition)
March 29: Red Sox at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. (Exhibition at LA Coliseum) -- on NESN
March 30: Red Sox at Dodgers, 4:10 p.m. (Exhibition)
April 1: Red Sox at Athletics, 10:05 p.m. (Regular season) -- on NESN
April 2: Red Sox at Athletics, 3:35 p.m. (Regular season) -- on NESN
April 4: Red Sox at Blue Jays, 7:15 p.m. (Regular season) -- on NESN
April 5: Red Sox at Blue Jays, 1:07 p.m. (Regular season) -- on NESN
April 6: Red Sox at Blue Jays, 1:07 p.m. (Regular season) -- on NESN
April 8: Red Sox vs. Tigers, 2:05 p.m. (Opening Day at Fenway) -- on NESN

Get out your day planners, people!


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hot D**N!

Stole this from Cyn's blog - but original is on the magazine's website

I can't believe I missed out on picking this up by a few days. He is, indeed, en fuego!

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

On the Road to Tokyo

No, not me, but the Sox. They're loading up the team tomorrow, following their last ST game, and winging off to Tokyo for the season opener. According to the Herald, here's the roster:

PITCHERS (13): David Aardsma, Clay Buchholz, Bryan Corey, Manny Delcarmen, Jon Lester, Javier Lopez, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima, Jonathan Papelbon, Kyle Snyder, Julian Tavarez, Mike Timlin, Tim Wakefield.

CATCHERS (3): Dusty Brown, Kevin Cash*, Jason Varitek.

INFIELDERS (8): Sean Casey, Alex Cora, Mike Lowell, Jed Lowrie*, Julio Lugo, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis.

OUFIELDERS (6): Coco Crisp, J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Bobby Kielty*, Brandon Moss, Manny Ramirez.

60-DAY DISABLED LIST (1): Curt Schilling.

*Non-Roster Invitee

Interesting that Schilling is going along...Live baseball tomorrow at noon!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Review: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Today I took in the new flick "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day," starring Frances McDormand and Amy Adams (pictured above). The story: Guinevere Pettigrew is a governess, well, a bad governess. She's just been released from a very short-lived position, and finds herself in line at a soup kitchen. She begs her employment agency - unsuccessfully - for one more position and, in desperation, steals a job. The position turns out to be social secretary for a would-be starlet, Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams). Delysia is juggling several men and a less-than-pure lifestyle in London in the late 1930s, a situation into which Miss Pettigrew inserts herself. Complicating things for Miss P: an unexpected attraction to the lingerie designer played by Irish actor Ciaran Hinds:

I have to admit to a little crush on Hinds. He's done some great work in "Rome" and "There Will Be Blood" (I love that IMDB describes him as "a close friend of Liam Neeson" - yowsah!).

And Delysia's "true love" is played by Lee Pace (above). He's most recently been seen in "Pushing Daisies" (love that show!) - and is a definite cutie!

The story is your basic formulaic bedroom farce. Lovers and others run behind slamming doors, hide under tables and on window ledges, misunderstandings threaten the lovers. It had a lot more depth than I had anticipated, and some really good performances. Amy Adams is fast becoming one of my favorite young actresses - she totally channels Carole Lombard in this part. Smart, sassy, but seemingly innocent and dumb. She totally inhabits this role, as she has recently in "June Bug" and "Enchanted." Frances McDormand does bland and unattractive so well - yet allows us to see the beauty beneath the surface.

It was a charming film - not overly long, with several laugh-out-loud moments. Enjoyable, not memorable, but fun nonetheless.


Signs of spring

These billboards are right across from the Cask 'n' Flagon. Yeah - the season is almost here!!


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Baseball Rules!

Okay, I know that the Red Sox lost today to the Pirates. But that doesn't squelch my excitement over seeing a baseball game today. Pirates vs. Red Sox, on a tape delay. But - hey, here's Remy complaining about the trip to Japan. Here's Kyle Snyder pitching three scoreless innings and making himself a serious contender for that position as 5th starter. Youk, Oki, Lugo - hip hip hooray!

Cash pitched for Wake today - no passed balls. Phew

And the best news. We're going to get TWO games this week! Tomorrow at 1pm v. Yankees and Wednesday at 12 noon. WOOT!

Other loose ends: congratulations to the Matsuzakas - parents of a new baby boy. Condolences to the Mirabellis, who are now job hunting. And happiness for me - a week of spring break ahead!

AND - I got to make a pilgrimage to the Yawkey Way Store while I was up in New England. I'm thoroughly disgusted that they had no Kyle Snyder shirts available - but I did get a Wake shirt and a Wally shirt. The latter is perfect for tomorrow's St Pat's celebrations. I was also intrigued by an item listed at "Tek's Cup" for $5. Hmmm...

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

In memoriam

Last Wednesday, March 5, my mom passed away. She had been diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1999, and had spent the past 7 years in a health care facility. It's been so hard to watch her slowly slipping away, someone who had been so beautiful and so active. My five brothers and sisters asked me to give the eulogy, and I wanted to share it.

In my upstairs bedroom, sits a small wooden cabinet. Unremarkable at a first glance. But, for me, it is a touchstone to my childhood and to my mom. It’s her sewing machine.

So much of my life is encompassed in that cabinet. When I think of my mom, it’s the sewing machine that first springs to my mind. When I picture her, it’s not as she was this past few years. Rather, I see her sitting at the sewing machine in the second floor hallway. Churning out clothes for me and my siblings. A mouth full of pins as she tailored a dress especially for each of us. Hemming pants to earn her “pin money.” And of course, tearing things apart because weren’t quite as perfect as she had pictured.

The things that came from that machine were the way she showed us her love. It produced three one-of-a-kind wedding dresses. Countless bridesmaid dresses. Several beautiful quilts and teddy bears for her grandchildren. Bathing suits and tailored suits. And many many prom dresses. It was this last that made me hate that machine in my teen years. It was responsible for the altered dresses that passed from sister to sister. It was the reason I could never have a store-bought dress, even for the prom.

And yet when we’ve seen those frocks later – lovingly stored in the basement of our Barrington home for years – we all remark on the workmanship and the care she put into each. The same workmanship and care she put into each of her children.

She tried to teach each of us how to sew, but the results were a mixed bag. I still have vivid memories of exasperated groans from the second floor landing and seeing flutters of material float down outside from the window as Meg tried to conquer a pattern! Of Michael claiming his home ec apron had been stolen rather than having to show Mom what he had produced. Luckily his lack of sewing skills didn’t stop Val from marrying him! Kathy is the one who has most carried on her talent, as has the member of our family that John was smart enough to marry, our sister-in-law Jane. I remember Mom enviously looking at one of Jane quilts and marveling over her tiny stitches and workmanship, sighing that her arthritic hands wouldn’t let her do such work any more.

In many ways she was like that sewing machine. Always ready for work, always ready for action, ready to spring to life at a moment’s notice. How often we teased Mom for sitting on the edge of her chair as family dinners came to an end, ready to leap to the dishes and get on with her work. My sister Martha can most relate to that now, as she chases around her three, active boys.

I think sometimes she was envious of my sisters and me. I think she would have loved to have had a career, to have lived on her own, to have traveled and seen the world. But societal conventions pressured her to marry and have a family – it was just what you did in the post-World War II world. As a result, we always felt empowered by her dreams, always felt her behind us, pushing us to try new things, to live each day fully. When we would come home to visit, she would quiz us on all we did, always a willing audience for photos of our trips. Fortunately, she was able to do some traveling after she and dad retired, and they especially loved traveling with their lifelong friends, Bill and Irene Shea.

Her faith was also important to her. Every Monday she and Dad could be found at Novena here in this church. As a matter of fact, in her final days, I found myself many times silently reciting some of that same Novena prayer: “Oh, Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us with recourse to thee.” And how many times did she say that whatever happened in her life, it was God’s Will. Not to be questioned, just to be accepted and followed. That’s why her final illness has seemed so poignant to us. We all know that she fought as hard as she could but, in the end, we know she would have been accepting of His will.

In the end, I think her greatest legacies – her greatest memorial – are the four strong women and two strong men you see before you today. Each of us is successful in our own field, each has strong and easily shared opinions, each loves and cares for their family in the same fierce fashion that our Mom did. I was talking with a friend recently about losing a parent, and he shared this wonderful bit of insight: "You're here, and you're the very thing that gave your mother's life meaning. That's a lot of responsibility, strangely, but there within is all the joy and mystery of human existence."

As for that sewing machine, it will always by my Mom’s. Just on loan to me. I guess the best way for me to honor her would be to finally learn how to use it – although I could never hope to use it as well as she did.

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Two Generations

Photo by J. Meric

I just had to post this photo. Is it not awesome? Two generations of "pesky" Red Sox infielders. You know that these two must have a great relationship - Johnny Pesky and Dustin Pedroia. Johnny would be an incredible mentor and friend for a young player to have, and Dustin is the kind of spark plug that Pesky would latch onto.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Manny - being Manny?

So, maybe now we're seeing a new Manny. First he came into camp looking buff, having spent a chunk of the off-season at the Athletes Performance Institute in Arizona. He's spoken to the press on several occasions. He's hitting well in ST.

We've always heard that his teammates love him. A little glimpse of that was seen in Joe McDonald's blog over on the Providence Journal:
Manny Ramirez just made Dustin Pedroia’s day.

The Red Sox slugger presented the second baseman with a Rolex watch for winning the American League Rookie of the Year in 2007. Ramirez handed Pedroia a box and then hit it pretty hard with his bat, denting the box. When Pedroia opened it all he could say was “Damn!”

“He’s the best,” Pedroia said before he walked around the clubhouse showing his teammates the generous gift. Along with the watch Ramirez wrote Pedroia a little note, prompting Pedroia to comment, “Now I finally have your autograph.”

And this little tidbit from the Boston Herald
One of the more intriguing sights in the clubhouse was Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez reading the self-motivational bestseller “The Secret” with a highlight marker.
Okay, first we learn that Josh Beckett keeps a journal. Now Manny is reading a motivational book. What's next? Lowell brewing ginseng tea? Papelbon practicing yoga? Pedroia chanting and practicing TM?

I guess whatever works!

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Salsa and cookies

NESN has video from the Mike Lowell Dancing with the All Stars competition. Here he is in all his glory!

I also have to include the video of the Red Sox annual Cookie-Off. Dan Roche from WBZ has done this three years in a row - he lines up four cookies and their sponsors, and gets the Spring Training crew to choose their favorites. Again, Lowell makes an appearance (he was great in the '06 version - "from this ripped physique, you can tell I never eat cookies")

I don't know if it's due to the new contract, or because RS Nation has been demonstrative of their collective love of Mike, but this spring he seems to have emerged from his low-key approach. He's more relaxed with the press, showing his wit and brains. He's appeared at these various events, and always gets camera time. He was one of the three players chosen to appear before the White House Press last week (the others were Tek and Oki). He seems to be one of the faces of the Red Sox - perhaps reflecting how the Front Office wants this team to be viewed. Professional, serious baseball players, with a sense of humor and a sense of history.

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Dancing fools

I knew I could count on Centerfield to dig up the video of Mike Lowell's Dancing with the Stars demonstration last night. At a fundraiser for his foundation, Mike, Alex Cora, Papelbon and Pedrioa danced a salsa number with a professional dancer. I missed the video on this afternoon's game telecast, but TexasGal has it here. Ooo la la!

Review: The Other Boleyn Girl

So, I must admit to being a Tudor-holic. I have always been interested in, fascinated by, and obsessed with Henry VIII, his six wives, and his children - particularly his daughter, Elizabeth - with whom I share a name and red hair. I've eaten up PBS' "The Six Wives of Henry VIII," Alison Weir's many biographies, the many Elizabeth movies, and lately, the works of Philippa Gregory. Recently, I read her fictionalized history, "The Other Boleyn Girl," loved it, and was very excited to see the film adaptation.

The novel is lengthy, delicious in its minute detail of courtly live in the time of Henry VIII. Gregory's descriptions of the clothing, the food, the protocol, is wonderful. I knew that the film wouldn't be able to recreate Gregory's work, but hoped for a reasonable facsimile. Alas, in the interest of time, many details are omitted - some of which were important to the plot (for example, Mary's first husband totally disappears, with no information on his death - she merely remarries with no mention of the unfortunate William Carey)

The story: the Boleyn family is ambitious, and hopes that the unhappily married king will show interest in one of their daughters. While intrigued at first by the elder daughter, Anne (Natalie Portman), Henry (Eric Bana) instead begins an affair with her married sister Mary (Scarlett Johansson). Mary falls in love with Henry, bears him a son, while Anne plots to gain his favor. His obsession with Anne causes him to break with the Catholic Church, begin the Church of England, divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon, and marry Anne. That ends tragically when Anne is tried for treason and beheaded.

The editing on the film is rough - it seems to jump scenes. No mention of Mary's first husband's death. Much fictionalizing about the claim of an incestuous relationship between Anne and her brother George. And the whole story line about George's homosexual relations is omitted. But, gorgeous costumes, good period detail, good performances. Bana is believable as Henry - although Henry was a redhead. Portman and Johansson are good as the sisters - credible accents.

I love a good costume drama, with much melodrama. This satisfies those requirements. It really helped to have read the book and to have been familiar with Tudor history - those who don't have such a background might feel lost at times. But if you want to get lost in 115 minutes of period drama, this is the film for you.

And in other news - my root canal seemed to go okay on Friday. This morning, however, I woke up to a chipmunk cheek and some tenderness. Not sure if this is normal. Off to "self-medicate"