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Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category

Yesterday I received an e-mail from my cousin in Arkansas. She keeps me informed of goings on and I appreciate her messages. She wrote that her husband and brother (another cousin) had gone to “the farm” at three a.m. on a deer hunting foray. The farm she mentioned is owned by her husband and he drives about a hundred miles at least once a week, sometimes more often, to see how things are going and to consult with his manager.

This year, his crops are soy beans and rice. At least one of the rice fields has been harvested but the soy beans were largely destroyed under a deluge of rain that extended over several days and inundated the crop land. Such is the fate of farmers. It’s a risky business.

The farm is large and meanders in and out of stands of woods. The crops are ringed by dirt roads that form a boundary between the woods and the crop land. And running through the crops are a series of smaller roads, small dikes, and irrigation canals. Water for the crops is diverted from creeks and streams that run through the woods by a series of diversion dams between the woods and the crops.

The woods are a convenient home for deer and smaller wildlife, and the crop lands are prime sources of food for them. When my cousin’s husband gave me a tour of the farm a couple of months ago, we saw several herds of deer browsing along the edges of the soybeans, which were still thriving at that time. The deer were easily visible from our ground-level position on the perimeter road, and had anyone had the inclination and a deer rifle, he could easily have shot one maybe two deer before they bolted.

But the accepted method of deer hunting is from a deer stand. For lack of a better description, a deer stand is like a small tree-house constructed on the trunk of a tree about 30 feet from the ground. A stand is really nothing more than a platform anchored to the tree with two by fours as braces.

Hunters access the stand by climbing a wooden ladder. Then, they wait for the deer to appear in their view. If the deer are near enough for a clear shot, then the hunter is likely to kill his limit in short order. If there are two hunters, both may kill their limit before the day is over.

On the day I visited, my cousin’s husband pointed out several strategically placed deer stands. Even from ground level, the crops spread out before me for well over a thousand yards. From the vantage point of one of the elevated stands, a hunter could see much further. A hunter with a high-powered deer rifle with a scope can score a hit easily from that distance.

As we drove around the farm and the woods, with my cousin’s husband explaining the intricacies of farming, I began to think about my own hunting days. I was young then, very young, and a part of the culture of the time and place. My favorite reading material was the Shooters Bible, at that time a flashy publication advertising every make of gun anyone could imagine.

I myself owned four guns, a .22 caliber plinking rifle, a .20 gauge shotgun for small birds and varmints, a .12 gauge shotgun once owned by my granddad for quail, pheasants, and rabbits, and a  bolt-action 7-millimeter Belgium Mauser. This latter gun is a mystery. I can’t remember how I came to have it in my possession. I just remember driving to a gravel pit with friends and shooting cans with it. This was one hell of a powerful rifle, literally blowing a can to smithereens.

Because of my background, I entered the military service quite familiar with guns. I was very accurate with the M-1 Carbine used then by the Air Force. I could easily hit the bull’s eye with regularity, and at one time I was asked to join the rifle team. I declined respectfully. Although I was a good shot, I didn’t want to spend my service time on a rifle range. Competition firing isn’t just a matter of picking up a gun and shooting it when your turn comes. Consistent accuracy takes a lot of practice to achieve. I was too undisciplined then.

After my service time ended, I never returned to the old home place except for brief visits and I never hunted again. It wasn’t that I suddenly became anti-gun. My life following my discharge from the service became filled with family, job, and various other sports, primarily baseball at first but eventually fast-pitch softball. I played in a city league for a few years and hung it up in favor of golf. That’s where my life stands at the present.

When I received my cousin’s e-mail, I wondered what I would do if her husband asked me to accompany him to the farm for deer hunting. I knew that I wouldn’t, so the only issue was how to say no gracefully. I finally settled on a straightforward and honest answer. “No, thanks, but I appreciate the invitation,” I would say simply without embellishment or excuse. If I were pressed further, I would add, “I don’t hunt anymore. It’s merely a matter of my personal preference, but I certainly don’t object to other people hunting,” I intend to avoid a never-ending series of excuses about guns and hunting. It’s counterproductive.

The truth of the matter is, a truth I will never tell my cousin, shooting a deer with a high-powered deer rifle is too easy. Where is the challenge? The process might be fair if the deer had a rifle, too. Besides, I am at a stage of economic independence that I don’t need to hunt to eat. Some people do, of course. Let them. Me, I just trot down to Safeway and browse the aisles, hunting for a can of SPAM.

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This past Saturday, we drove from Annapolis to Philadelphia to scout out Philly’s historic locations, snap a few photos, snack a little bit, and get sunburned a lot. And, we walked our buns off.

Philly’s primary historical landmarks are concentrated amid lots of tall buildings without historical significance at the moment, but though the historic area may be small in size, it seems larger when you just sort of meander around.

And that’s what we did. We meandered through the Liberty Bell exhibit, the Philadelphia Mint, and the final resting place of Benjamin Franklin and a host of other Colonial personalities instrumental in developing the Declaration of Independence and later the Constitution of the United States. The sense of history and of the times made our meandering worthwhile.

However, we weren’t able to tour Independence Hall. Tickets are required for entry, but by the time we arrived, the day’s ticket quota was gone. According to the National Park Service, tickets are used as a means of spreading the visitor flow throughout the day. Sounds reasonable to me, but I was irked nevertheless. I wanted to see where those Colonial firebrands stood and condemned the British to hell, a tradition that still lives when the subject of universal health care arises.

Interestingly, as we waited in a rather long line to enter the Liberty Bell exhibit, a group of people stood near the line and handed out pamphlets about the Falun Gong. This is a religious group whose members have been persecuted in China, and on this day, the group’s message and writings were aimed at those who in appearance were probably Asian. At least, they overlooked us and others who resembled us, probably assuming, and correctly so, that the number of non-Asians fluent in the Chinese language would range from nil to nada to zilch.

Before I reached a point of utter exhaustion, we decided to survey real history. With our trusty GPS activated, we headed cross-town to the Philadelphia Museum of Art where Rocky ran up about a million steps and then, at the top, gyrated around, finally assuming that triumphant pose now enshrined in a statue at the bottom of the steps.

We, along with a few thousand others in line, stood in front of the statue when out turn came, emulating Rocky’s pose for our own personal pictorial posterity. Like the fool I can sometimes be, I stumbled on the damned pedestal and almost fell, much to the delight of the smirking crowd. I didn’t blame them. Hell, I would have smirked, too. But I recovered nicely and pranced around with arms raised just like Sylvester Stallone did in 1976, 200 years after those rugged firebrands of 1776 may have pranced inside Independence Hall. I think George and Thomas would understand Rocky’s triumph if they were around today.

After the picture-taking session, we walked to the flight of concrete steps Rocky had enshrined in modern American cultural lore so many years ago. Four of us ran up them just as Rocky before us. One of us had better sense and sat down nearby, watching the other members of our party run up and then back down. One female member ran back up and down again, and I was surprised that she wasn’t winded in the slightest when she returned.

By now, the hours we had set aside for our sightseeing were about over. We headed back, taking a route through New Jersey and Delaware and onto US-301into Maryland. As we drove, I noted when we left one state and entered another and thought about the differences. Aside from the obvious—Welcome to Maryland, e.g.—are the people different? Do they look different? Do they speak different languages, New Jerseyese, for example? Do they think differently?

These are philosophical questions for another time. For the moment, suffice to say we had a good time and enjoyed learning a little bit about Philly. As my blogging cohort, Alexandra Jones, a native of Philly, might say, “Go Phillies!” In honor of her devotion to her team, I shouted those words as we passed the Phillies stadium on our way out of town.

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A slew of those 25 things clones is making the rounds. The latest is a series of 25 questions we’re supposed to answer Yes or No to without additional comment. The questions are kind of personal, and I have a hunch a sedate housewife or a CEO might be reluctant to answer some of them. Here’s an example followed by my response:

Have you ever held a snake?

Me: That kind of depends on the whether we’re talking reptilian snakes or the human variety, although the similarities are often striking.

The Snake thing is included in a set making the rounds on Facebook. With certain deletions and additions to spice up the list, here’s my version of the game, along with my answers.

Have you ever?

Kissed any one of your Facebook friends? Depends on the kind of kiss we’re talking about. I have relatives who are my Facebook Friends.

Been arrested? YES and spent two hours in the coldest jail in Asia before I was released in the middle of nowhere on a night with the lowest temperature ever recorded in the history of temperatures.

Kissed someone you didn’t like? Well, I liked them before the kiss…..

Slept in until 5 PM? Only when I was too drunk to move.

Fallen asleep at work/school? This is no problem for me. I’ve learned to sleep sitting up with my eyes open.

Done it in the men’s restroom while your friends were dining in the main dining room? At a Jack in the Box in Okaland.

Ran a red light? On Van Ness near City Hall, right in front of a San Francisco motorcycle officer. The son of a bitch followed me into a parking garage and gave me a ticket.

Been suspended from school? YES, for slapping my hand on my desk and accusing the kid next to me of making me hold my nose.

Totaled your car/motorbike? YES, twice, but only one was my fault.

Sang karaoke? Is it spelled right? There’s a Latin melody called Carioca.

Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t? Every day of my conscious life.

Did it standing up while watching a baseball game in Giants stadium? Isn’t that what the 7th inning stretch is all about?

Caught a snowflake on your private parts? Only when caught in a sudden blizzard.

Kissed in the rain? YES. We were riding across the desert when a thunderstorm blew over and forced our lips together. My horse didn’t like that at all.

Sang in the shower? No, but I tuned my electric guitar once. Once.

Sat on a rooftop? YES, but they hauled me away, Santa Claus costume and all.

Been pushed off of a thousand foot cliff while nude? Yes

Broken a bone? A few wishbones, but my wishes never came true.

Shaved your head? NO. The barber in basic training handled my sartorial needs.

Blacked out? Only when my alcoholic consumption rendered me unconscious.

Played a prank on someone? Once signed up a friend for a correspondence course.

Felt like killing someone? No, just waterboarding them for an eternity.

Made your girlfriend/boyfriend cry? A couple of times when I couldn’t pay for dinner and she had to ante up $115.49.

Had Mexican jumping beans for pets? With tortillas a few times.

Been in a band? I was drummed out of my first grade rhythm band on the first day of practice.

Shot a gun? Many times. I shot my best friend in his right leg one day. My mistake devastated me until I learned he had shot himself in the hand with a German Luger.

Tripped on mushrooms? Not sure. Are you talking about those big round mushrooms vegans use as a meat substitute?

Donated Blood? They never explained why I wasn’t qualified.

Eaten alligator meat? This is another “not sure questions.” A cousin worked in a sausage factory, and he told me they throw everything in the grinder, including alligators.

Eaten cheesecake? Oh, God, YES! With blueberry jam.

Still love someone you shouldn’t? My pet pig, Rosie.

Think about the future? Only when someone asks me this damned question.

Believe in love? Occasionally, when under the influence of something.

Sleep on a certain side of the bed? No. It’s all mine.

Now it’s your turn. Be honest now. That’s the whole point of the game. Relationships are built on honesty. Unless dishonesty is called for.

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An interesting game is making the rounds on Facebook. Once you’re “tagged” you’re supposed to write 25 random facts, habits, goals, or whatever about yourself and post them on Facenook. Here is my list.

  1. I have the attention span of a gnat.
  2. I crossed the Pacific Ocean three times on a troopship.
  3. My favorite snack is a Beanie Weenie sandwich.
  4. Carl Perkins’ version of Blue Suede Shoes beats Elvises hands down.
  5. I’m in love with Diane Lane’s legs.
  6. I was an Expert rifleman in the service.
  7. I hate the egotistical practice of beginning a sentences with a freakin’ I.
  8. One of my daughters was a Sears television model for several years.
  9. The same daughter became a firearms instructor for the Homeland Security Agency.
  10. Another daughter appeared on the old television show Jake and the Fatman as a regular background player, handing papers to Joe Penney and the like.
  11. I had brain surgery and when I woke, the world had changed.
  12. My aversion to assholes approaches the intensity of the speed of light squared.
  13. My favorite city is San Francisco, and my favorite major metro area is the Bay Area, although D.C. will do in a pinch.
  14. I want to be a cowboy.
  15. I would never have an operation in Seattle’s Grace Hospital.
  16. I pray that I can finish this list.
  17. My favorite sport is baseball.
  18. Everything I know, I learned from a crossword puzzle
  19. The world is flat. I know. I’m trying to climb back on.
  20. Savory crayfish make me want to gag.
  21. I used to hitchhike all over Washington State, Northern California, Arkansas, and Missouri.
  22. I once rode the back of a garbage truck, slinging 50-gallon garbage cans over my shoulder and dumping them in the truck. Then I would step aside and retch.
  23. The best job I ever had was clearing tumbleweeds away from fences way out yonder in the Eastern Washington prairie.
  24. I woke up one morning and I was a university professor.
  25. Then I asked, “What the hell am I doing here?”

Okay, I’ve shown you mine. Now, show me yours.

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Did you know there is a Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame located on California Street in San Francisco?

It’s a non-profit charitable organization established to honor sports legends to benefit youth sports programs. The entire site is a goldmine of information for those interested in sports.

The section of the Hall of Fame site that intrigued me was its Inductees page. Here you can find the names of many Bay Area sports heroes, the dates of their induction, their sport, and the location of the Plaque awarded to them. You can also click on their names and find pictures and brief biographies. As I scrolled through the list of names, I recognized all of them, but a few were more familiar than others.

The very first name of the list was Frankie Albert. He was a quarterback for Stanford and later the Niners QB. His trademark touch was a leap in the air to throw a pass. When I was a kid, I watched him play in the old Kezar Stadium. He starred in a movie called The Spirit of Stanford.

Then there was flamboyant Max Baer. He was the heavyweight boxing champion of the world who lost his title to the Cinderella Man, Jimmy Braddock. Although born in Omaha, Max grew up in Livermore and began his boxing career in Oakland. He was widely known as a playboy and appeared in several movies, most notably The Prizefighter and the Lady, which coincidentally was on HBO today. Max, Sr. was the father of Max, Jr. of Beverly Hillbillies fame and the older brother of Buddy Baer, also a boxer and a Hollywood actor.

Of course John Brodie is included. John later became a professional golfer and I once met him briefly on the course when a friend introduced us. He is about a foot and a half taller than me. And a better golfer, I might add.

Two of the DiMaggio brothers, Dom and Joe, were both inductees. As a Yankee, Joltin’ Joe, the Yankee Clipper, ran off a string of hits in 56 consecutive games, a record unbroken still. Overshadowed by his brother, Joe, Dom nevertheless was a star outfielder with the Boston Red Sox. A third brother, Vince, also played baseball and enjoyed an outstanding career with the Cincinnati Reds, New York Giants, the Pirates, and the Phillies. He hasn’t been inducted, but one certainly hopes that he will someday.

There are more heroes than we have space to talk about here. Suffice to say, almost all of the sports are represented, Baseball, Figure Skating, Tennis, Swimming, Golf, Basketball, Track, Horse Racing, and Boxing.

The Hall of Fame makes it clear that the Bay Area has produced more than its share of sports heroes.

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So, la Gavaratta spent $139,700 on a bullpen.

He adopted the idea from New York City’s Republican mayor Michael Bloomberg. I wonder what kind of bullpen we’re talking about.

  • A holding cell for irate citizens, nosy, impudent reporters, and ambitious senior staffers who aspire to the status of Alpha Mayor?
  • A place where bored relief pitchers sit on wooden benches, chewing tobacco, and spitting?
  • A rodeo enclosure where the bulls snort and manufacture cow patties as they wait to stomp some dumb cowboy’s head.

I have a hunch Herr Gabermeister’s version is all of these and more, kind of like a zoo with one giant enclosure where ambitious predators and ovine prey warily scope out one another. In politics, ambition trumps friendship and staff advisors are like appendages, useful only as things to blame when something goes amiss. Will self-interest be the ultimate demise of GN’s bullpen? Advisors are ambitious, too.

Newsom justifies his bullpen with interesting rationales for public consumption.

He thinks, for example, that his top advisors will work much better together than in cubicles of their own. Is he in for a surprise. Individuals thrown together in groups don’t work together. They spend a lot of time watching one another. The minute one picks up a phone, silence descends over the room like thick fog as everyone strains to listen.

Newsom also thinks he will have easy access to his assembled advisors, thus facilitating the immediate development of policies without memos flying around like confetti. He’s living in la-la land if he really believes paperwork will decrease. Instead of memos to one another or to Gav, his advisors will fill their desk drawers with ubiquitous “Memorandum for the Record,” an interesting bureaucratic innovation of long standing.

MFR’s, as they are commonly called, are notes to oneself recapping a conversation or a meeting for the purpose of covering one’s ass in case some ambitious SOB resorts to the “sandbagging” strategy. In a bureaucracy, a sandbagger is someone who has played a critical role in a decision or an action and then lies about it or stands silent when the shit hits the fan and some poor soul is splattered.

The story of The Caine Mutiny is a perfect example of sandbagging. Lt. Tom Keefer, a devious wordsmith who aspires to become a world-famous author, incites rather dull second-in-command, Lt. Steve Maryk, into removing erratic Captain Queeg from command without authority, a clear mutiny under Naval regulations. When Lt. Maryk’s court-martial inevitably rolls around, Lt. Keefer denies any involvement in the mutiny. Thankfully, a really brainy attorney gets Maryk off. But that’s fiction. Real life is a mite fuzzier.

If anyone believes sandbaggers like Keefer are rare, they are living in a fantasy world. In every group, at least one weasel absorbs everything and then at an appropriate moment, approaches the boss in private to report the daily doings.

I have a hunch that Newsom adopted Bloomberg’s bullpen idea for unstated reasons, such as a Machiavellian desire to make sure no individual or no power clique emerges to provide advice he doesn’t want to hear. Politicians are, if anything, ever alert for suspicious goings on. In a large, open room, the boss can easily spot who hangs with whom. In private cubicles, funny things happen.

One puzzling angle of Newsom’s move is a return to an ancient practice. The bullpen model of management originated when alpha cavemen squatted around an open fire and decided the fate of their clan. And of course, we all remember those old Western movies in which a hapless hunter, trapper, cowboy, or Army shavetail is captured or staggers into an Indian encampment where all of the chiefs gather around a fire and decide how many ponies the outsider has to ante up for a night with an Indian maiden.

And in the 20th Century, business and government offices often were no more than large, open rooms with everyone in plain sight of the boss who sat comfortably behind a glass enclosure watching his underlings. The concept of offices and cubicles is a recent innovation based on the theory that people simply work better in a quiet environment. In other words, privacy is progressive thinking.

Now, Newsom wants to return to the golden age of yesteryear. What next? A horse-drawn muni?

A last thought: The zoo group isn’t going to work well together for another reason. They’ll spend a lot of time fighting over who controls that giant-sized television screen. Porn Channel 6 or Playboy? God. Decisions, decisions. Get out the MFRs.

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Hulk Hogan’s real name is Terry Bollea. His wife, Linda, has just filed for divorce.

Unranked Arkansas beat top-ranked LSU 50-48. Gah-ah-lay! (Well, I knew that but threw it in because it surprised me).

San Francisco icon Johnny Mathis was born in Gilmer, Texas.

The birth name of Tony Bennett of I left my heart in San Francisco fame is Anthony Dominick Benedetto.

The most famous San Franciscan of all, Yankee Clipper, Joe Dimaggio, was born in Martinez.

The end of a long weekend is rolling around, and that always means fluff and puff and lightheartedness.

Do. Not. Drink. And. Drive. Over. The. Holiday. Season.

Do. Not. Drink. And. Drive. Ever.

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