Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the tag “Athletes”

Siss – Boom – Baaaa

HERE WE ARE IN LATE JANUARY and, strictly by coincidence, I have not seen any football – College, Pro, or local High School, this year. Some people might interpret that in terms of over-extended Socio-Economic-Historic-Politico-Religious opining.

Nah.

I’ve just been either sick or busy. Mainly sick. Sick of being busy too. I don’t mix Sports and any Politico-Etc. ideas I may harbor. The Sports part is much too important.

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The Wall

 

I RECENTLY HAD THE OPPORTUNITY to be on the campus of Indiana State University. I was lost. The campus is a mish mash of one way streets, dead ends, and lots of “No Parking” signs. A great place to get an education if you are on foot.

After what seemed like my freshman year all over again I saw a legal parking space and I couldn’t let it go. It’s like stooping over to pick up that dime you see on the sidewalk – you don’t really need that dime, but you can’t pass it up. I hadn’t planned on stopping, but what the heck.

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Throwback Thursday From Feb. 2015 – “But Wait! There’s More!”

As Seen on TV 2

Throwback Thursday From Feb. 2015 – “But Wait! There’s More!”

IS IT ALMOST CHRISTMAS AGAIN?”

It must be because our mailbox is crammed with catalogs every day. Catalogs from places we’ve never heard of are arriving at a dizzying pace and almost all of them go straight into the recycle bin.

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I Can Almost Hear It Now

I KNOW…I KNOW. WE ARE STILL IN WINTER. There is snow on the ground and the first Robin of Spring is still frozen solid, but I just gotta talk about Baseball.

Spring Training is underway as players descend on Florida and Arizona to get into condition and to fight for their jobs against up and coming youngsters and newly acquired veterans holding on for dear life.

Thus has it ever been in the world of Baseball.

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Let’s All Go To The Lobby

                       

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mw91RJ_m_7g

SOME MORNINGS I SHOULD JUST ROLL OVER AND GO BACK TO SLEEP. Getting up too early can be traumatic, but it’s my own fault.

I have learned that in the wee hours of the morning the Classic Movie Channel shows things that stretch the veracity of the word “Classic” and defy everything except the technical definition of “Movie.” I watched a perfect an imperfect example of this a couple of weeks ago.

For some reason my eyes popped open at about 5 AM and by reflex I turned on the TV.

Big mistake.

On the Classic Movie Channel I have watched the greatest films ever made. On this morning I watched the worst. Why? Because, like Mt. Everest – it was there.

FANFARE!

Ladies and Gentlemen!

The Classic Movie Channel in cooperation with My Inability to Sleep

Presents

“The Wonderful World of Tupperware”

 

I kid you not.

 

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside…And Inside

cryotherapySOME DAYS I THINK I AM SO FAR OUT OF THE LOOP that I am in an alternate universe. Today is one of those days.

One of the Usual Suspects handed me a clipping from last Sunday’s paper about a popular therapy being used on athletes to help them heal quicker:“Cryotherapy.” 

We’re not talking about putting an icepack on your head to sooth a headache. Nope. We’re talking some serious cold here.

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Now It Is Time To Stare Out Of The Window

hornsby_rogers_1“PEOPLE ASK ME WHAT I DO IN WINTER when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”

Rogers Hornsby

 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Baseball, its History and its Allure I offer up that quote from Rogers Hornsby (1896 – 1963). He is in Baseball’s Hall of Fame and is considered one of The Greats of the game. He played and managed from 1915 until 1953.

This well known quote about what he did in the off season says so much more than is apparent on the surface. It is more than just a game. It is more than just a metaphor for life. Baseball is a living, breathing superlative.

Baseball season is over now. Over for me, that is. True, there are still the Playoffs and the World Series to be decided, but my team is not there. They have gone home and so have I.

Oh, I imagine that I will watch some of these games, but because I have no one to cheer for, to anguish over, and to call by their first names, I will watch to enjoy the beauty of the game itself.

Someone, I forget who, said that, “Baseball is a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings.” But if your favorite team is not playing it is like watching a ballet covered with dirt and pine tar. It is beautiful to watch, but you know that something is wrong. Where are your players?

Now that the season is over we, I and my wife, the lovely and Southpaw, Dawn, are keeping an ear cocked for any news about trades and player moves. Two of our pitchers have announced that they are retiring. Who will fill their spots in the rotation and bullpen? Who is going to be a Free Agent the day after the World Series ends? How are players recovering from injuries and surgeries? Will they be ready for Spring Training?

Spring Training – the truest harbinger of the changing of seasons. That robin may be frozen to the tree branch outside our window, but if Timmy’s hip surgery has brought him back then can new Black and Orange T-shirts be far behind?

We are not any different from Rogers Hornsby. We are also staring out of the window waiting for spring. But our window gives us a view of more than the snow and ice. It gives us the latest news and rumors.

The “Hot Stove League” is electronic these days with 24/7 talk and analysis as well as wishing and hoping. There will be second guessing until the cows come home and number crunching until it all turns into meaningless babble. That is when we pop a DVD into the machine. We can bundle up and watch Matt Cain’s Perfect Game and the Four Game Sweep in the 2012 World Series. We can sit in awe as MadBum strides in from the bullpen like Paul Bunyan ready to clear-cut the Kansas City Royals once again.

I can’t speak for the people who love football, tennis or golf, but don’t ever try to tell me that Baseball is “just a game.”

A more modern lover of the game than Hornsby, columnist George Will – who never played in the Majors, said, “Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal.” 

Now that the season is over we are also sitting by the window waiting for spring. It won’t be long.

A Trip To Baseball Heaven

Baseball HeavenABOUT ONCE A YEAR my wife, the lovely and totally major league, Dawn, and I take a trip to go see the beloved SF Giants play a few games.

This year we are in St. Louis to catch a three game series with the Cardinals. Last year we were in Cincinnati, which was very nice, but it is hard to beat St. Louis when it comes to putting on a baseball game.

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So Much For That Idea

MeijersJUST YESTERDAY I SHOWED FIRM RESOLVE to not go out to the new Mega-store that just opened. I said that I would wait a month or so.

I must amend that timeline to read, “I’ll wait five hours or so….”

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My Fathers Day

john mom and dad

THE FATHERS DAY Holiday, Celebration, Acknowledgement is hard upon us.

On days like that I really don’t think much about my role as a father. I picked up the honorific in midstream, becoming a “Step-Dad” at the age of 56. I don’t think about my role because it is an evolving thing, changing from day to day – sometimes hour to hour.

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A Thing Of Beauty In Nine Innings

Double Play Giants

IF YOU HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING this blog for very long you would have picked up that I am a BIG fan of San Francisco Giants baseball. I lived there for 25 years and it gets into your blood stream. I’ve infected my wife, the lovely and articulate Dawn, with Giants Fever and we both stay up much too late when the Giants are at home on the west coast.

Last Tuesday night they were playing in New York against the Mets. It was not a good day for the Mets.

Giants rookie starter Chris Heston (no relation to Charlton Heston, the famous actor in many over-wrought, epic, budget-busting, biblical and quasi-biblical Hollywood movie spectaculars.) threw a beautiful, complete game, No-Hitter against the Mets.

Heston gave up no hits and no walks. The defense behind him played flawlessly, committing no errors. Three Mets did get on base when Heston had a pitch or three wander off track and hit the batters. That was it.

We watched the entire game and it was a thing of beauty indeed. Young Heston (27 years old) showed poise, self-control, and laserlike concentration. He completed the game averaging just a hair over 12 pitches per inning. Very economical.

I know, I know. Some of you are going, “Here he goes again on his baseball kick.”

I do admit that, on occasion, I do wax rhapsodic about The Game and talk about it as if it was the most important thing in the world. I know that it isn’t. Coffee is the most important thing, with baseball executing a hook slide into second place.

How does a thing like this happen to an otherwise rational adult? I don’t know. All I know is that it happened to me and I make limited pretense to being a rational adult anyway.

Baseball is a child’s game played at breakneck speed, even though some people complain that it moves at a snail’s pace. It is the only major team sport played without the tyranny of the clock. It is the only team sport where it is the players on defense that control the possession of the ball.

It is the only sport that, as a child, I could play with any degree of success.

Growing up with full use of only one arm and one leg I was no threat in basketball, football, tennis, hockey (Gimme a break), track and field, golf, or swimming.

My skills in the pool are close to that of a blacksmith’s anvil.

Those other sports were beyond my abilities, but in baseball I could make a reasonable effort and get reasonable results.

I couldn’t run worth a damn, but if you hit the ball far enough you don’t have to. Even so, my hitting was marginal, but I was a good pitcher. My one good arm was strong enough for me to scare other kids my age.

My career was limited to games with and against other neighborhood kids. I wanted to play on a “real” team, but that required getting a doctor to sign a form saying that I was physically able – and that was never going to happen. I guess they felt that having me running around the field while wearing steel braces on my leg was not a good idea.

Oh, well. Time passes.

Since those days I have remained an avid fan of The Game, transferring my loyalties from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Cleveland Indians and onto the San Francisco Giants.

When you finally find the treasure the twisting route on the map becomes unimportant.

I love the game for its complexity as well as its simplicity; for its quick as a rabbit speed as well as its 19th century leisurely pace; for its hammering brute force as well as its almost balletic delicacy.

Watching a cleanly executed 6 to 4 to 3 double play is sharing in a filigree of speed, timing, prowess and unerring accuracy – all while avoiding the spikes of a charging runner.

Yeah, so I do get excited by things like Chris Heston’s No-Hitter the other night.  I enjoy watching it and appreciate the skill and hard work it takes to make it look so easy.

On an evening like last Tuesday it was all so beautiful.

It’s Alive! It’s Alive!

Giants Shrine

IN MY SECRET LABORATORY deep within the castle walls and high in the fog shrouded mountains of Terre Haute (That’s French for “What hump?”), Indiana a new San Francisco Giants fan has been created.

When my wife, the ever lovely and perceptive Dawn, first met me she did not know that I was an avid fan and recruiter for the Sacred Fandom of The Giants. I had lived in San Francisco for 25 years and with that long an exposure the infection was inevitable.

I knew that Dawn had been a baseball fan (of sorts), growing up listening to the St. Louis Cardinals on the radio. Little did she know or even suspect that I was a carrier of Giants Fever.

Mwah-ha-ha-ha!

In a similar sense I became a “Texan – in law.” You marry a Texan, pass the oral exam, which consists of mastering the proper pronunciation of the word “Pie” and you become a Texan – in law.

However, becoming a Giants Fan involves a more difficult process. Dawn had to learn such basic tenets of the Canon as – Who was the “Say-hey Kid?” Where is McCovey Cove? Who is “The Thrill?” and, of course, Quote Duane Kuiper’s Home Run Call.

I admit it, gleefully even, that I infected Dawn with Giants Fever. It has taken hold and is now part of her DNA. She and all true Giant Fans DNA consists of the usual Adenine, Thymine, Cytosine and Guanine, plus the additional and key ingredient – Humm Baby.

Dawn’s infection is quite virulent and has manifested itself in glorious fashion. Her favorite colors are now Orange and Black. She dresses in them for every Giants game. She has constructed a lovely shrine to The Boys that is pictured above.

It moves my heart to see her so.

Dawn is also a Minister and she tries to keep her religion and her Church duties separate – although one Sunday, when she said to the congregation, “You may be seated,” she came very close to saying, “Grab some pine, Meat.”

We try to get to a few Giants games each season when they journey east to St. Louis or Cincinnati. When we go we wear our Giants uniform shirts. On the back of my shirt it has my name as “Krafty,” my nickname since childhood. On the back of Dawn’s shirt it proclaims, “The Rev.”

Dawn has stated that her goal is to be named the Official Chaplain for the team.

She makes me so proud.

 The old adage is that, “The family that plays together, stays together.” I’d say that Dawn and I and the Giants are that family. Sure, some members come and go or are designated for reassignment. Sometimes one of the older, retired players is optioned to that Great Dugout in the Sky, but they will always be Giants.

There is no cure for Giants Fever. Who would want a cure when the benefits are so magnificent? Who would not want to rub elbows with Mad Bum, Buster, Hunter, Angel, The Baby Giraffe, Dawn’s favorite – Brandon Crawford, and the rest?

When the game is about to start all of the bobbleheads on the shrine nod in unison as the lineup is announced. They know that The Boys are about to take the field and that a fourth World Series ring is just waiting to be collected.

Dawn has become a consummate fan of the San Francisco Giants.

My work here is done

All I can add is:

“He hits it high! He hits it deep! It is outta here!

Smokin’ In Cincinnati

redsfireTHE GIANTS WERE SMOKIN’ in Cincinnati on Friday night. They beat the Reds 10 – 2 and the Great American Ballpark itself caught fire.

We have been to the ballpark in Cincinnati a few times and it is a prime example of the recent trend in baseball park construction to make it part Sports Venue, and part Disney World. Such efforts usually result in a facility that effectively achieves neither goal.

In Cincinnati the builders attempted to call upon the history of the city, reviving the era when steamboats travelled the Ohio River. How romantic.

The park sits on the banks of the river and the engineers incorporated a faux steamboat into the outfield wall. Twin “smokestacks” soar above the crowd in the bleacher seats like the set from a road company production of “Showboat.” Whenever the Reds hits a home run, or do something spectacular, large eruptions of flames spew from the “smokestacks” to the delight of the crowd below.

Until Friday night.

On Friday the fans began to notice that there were flames and smoke coming from the stacks for no apparent reason. The usually white smoke was decidedly dark and the people sitting underneath the stacks were evacuating the area.

Flames. No Flames. Black smoke. White smoke. No announcement about a new Papal election. At least the game was not interrupted by all of this. Some things are more important than stadium fires, evacuations or calls to the Cincinnati Fire Department.

The Giants were “En Fuego!”

The fact that it was also “Star Wars Night” at the ballpark I doubt had anything to do with the fire. But you never know.

When Cincinnati’s Finest arrived they extended ladders up to the tops of the suddenly all too real smokestacks and poured in what looked like the foam they put on airport runways when there is a plane in trouble.

I’m assuming that the usual fire displays are done with gas jets so dumping water on the fire wouldn’t do much except make it all look like something from The Strip in Las Vegas.

Once the fire was extinguished the entire evening became somewhat dull – if you were a Reds fan. If you were a Giants fan the excitement never stopped. It was the first game this year when the Giants scored 10 runs and merriment and interpretive dancing ensued at our home in Terre Haute (That’s French for “Everybody was Hot, Hot, Hot!), Indiana.

One advantage to having the Giants on a road trip to the Eastern Time Zone is that I can get to bed before the kid delivers the morning newspaper.

When the Giants are at home in San Francisco the games don’t start until after 10 PM our time. Playing in Cincinnati allows the games to begin just after 7 PM and I get to bed by 11. I’m old and I need my beauty sleep.

Unfortunately, after Cincinnati our beloved Giants fly to LA and Denver, so it is back to being bleary-eyed and semiconscious until they head East again. Sadly, most people can’t tell the difference in my behavior.

It is going to be hard to top the “fireworks” at that Reds game.

A couple of years ago in Phoenix they had an actual fireworks show after the game and ended up setting fire to the building across the street from the ballpark.

In Washington they have a “Dead Presidents Foot Race” at every game. Milwaukee does one better by having an “International Smoked Sausage Foot Race.” There is nowhere to go with that.

I can’t think of anything that the Giants could do during games in San Francisco that would not violate any number of laws and the boundaries of good taste. But you never know.

I will keep you informed.

Last Week In A Strange Land

Giants Sweep

LAST WEEK, while in the aforementioned Adrian, Michigan, I was simultaneously in a foreign and alien world: The presence of a serious LA Dodger fan. Don’t worry – I had my shots before going.

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I Gotta Get Some Rest

Giants Shrine

Ever since early November I’ve been getting a good six to eight hours of sleep a day. Now that is all shot to pieces. Baseball season has started.

I can see you scratching your head and saying to yourself, “What the heck is this idiot blathering about now?” Don’t deny it. I know that is what I would be doing if the blog was on the other foot. Let me explain.

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They Will Come

2014-06-24 12.02.43

 

TODAY IS MONDAY, but it is more than Monday. Yesterday was Easter, but it was more than Easter.

Today is the first full day of Baseball Season. Yesterday was the celebration of the traditional Opening Day of the season. The sun is shining and I can smell horsehide and pine tar in the air.

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Strange Things Are Happening

golf ball

SOME DAYS I JUST WONDER what in the heck is going on. If you had read an earlier posting, from about a month ago, you would have seen my rant about the mysterious apple that appeared in our driveway. One minute it was not there and a minute later it was. Spooky, no?

Well, the apple is long gone, spirited away by the neighbor’s snow blower, but something else has popped into its place. 

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Coffee Without A Net

trapeze

HAVING MORE THAN ONE SKILL is a good thing. Having more than one skill that can earn you some money is even better – and much rarer.

This morning I made a short pilgrimage to the Chapel at St. Arbucks to say a prayer or two of thanks for the warmer weather and to get a bagel. Feed the soul and feed the body I always say. Nobody ever listens when I say it, but I do it anyway.

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Somehow I Don’t See This Working Out

Workout

I WENT TO SEE MY DOCTOR the other day. This particular doctor is a Nutritionist. He has a bunch of letters after his name, but I don’t recall the letters “M” and “D” being among them. But he’s a nice guy.

One of my other doctors sent me to see this doctor last autumn. He was all over my case about how I needed to lose weight. I couldn’t very well argue with him about that. I’ve been hearing that same complaint since I was six years old. That was during the Korean War. (For those of you with public school educations – look it up in a book called an Encyclopedia.)

The last time I saw Dr. Nutritionist he gave me a three page printout with the title, “The Seven Minute Workout.” He was pleased that I had managed to lose about 35 pounds, but not pleased that I done that without doing any exercises. He was not amused when he asked me what I did for exercise and I relied, “I stumble.”

He said that he wanted me to look over the printout and see what exercises I could do. Let me tell you right now – I ain’t Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarz…Shwartze…the former Governor of California, or some guy who spends his day working out and lifting weights in the prison yard.

Jumping Jacks: That requires more synchronization of body parts than I can manage.

Wall Sits: The last time I did one of those I was 22 years old and very drunk.

Push-Ups: I’ve seen Marines do that using one arm. I’m not a Marine.

Ab Crunch: No relation to Nestles Crunch.

Step-up: Usually preceded by some nitwit at the Motor Vehicle Bureau shouting, “Next!”

Squat: First thing every morning after I turn on the “Today Show.”

Triceps Dip On Chair: See “Wall Sits.”

Plank: What the f***k? If you see me doing that call 911.

High Knees: With my legs, anything above six or seven inches constitutes “high.”

Lunges: Sounds like an Interpretive Dance move. It refers to my “front and back knees.” My knees are next to each other. I want to keep them that way.

Push-Ups and Rotation: If I am doing a push-up and I rotate – see advice for “Plank.”

Side Plank: Here we go with that Plank business again! I’m sorry, but all my planks are warped.

I know he was disappointed, but I did tell him that once the weather improves I intend to get out there and do some walking. I will. I promise. They are opening a new Meijer Super Store nearby and it will take a heap of walking to get around that place. That counts, doesn’t it?

Oh Happy Day!

spring training 2015

 

I have to admit it – despite the fact that there are several inches of snow on the ground just outside our window – I am walking around with a smile on my face. The first sign of Spring has appeared – Baseball Spring Training has begun.

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