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Today two of the best guys to ever play baseball, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tony Gwynn were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. It's a good moment for the sport as lately there hasn't bee a lot of talk about the good guys. In the next few days we'll see one of the people that I think is a bad guy tie, and then pass the all time record for home runs in a career. It's a sad statement that shows that baseball in general doesn't have it's house in order.

Although I'm still happy to go across the USA traveling to ballpark to ballpark, I'm finding that I'm not keeping up with the sport as much as I used to. When I was single it was easy to watch a game on television on some night. It was easier to keep up with the team when I had friends who loved sports.

Heck, to speak to my friend Hans, you had to talk sports. He loves all sports, keeps up with everything and even works for Fox Sports Net these days. It was easy when I played fantasy sports. Now I find it's not a big part of my life. I can talk to coworkers about this and that, and occasionally keep up with their conversations, but I really don't know the players like I used to. I don't know basketball at all, so that's a conversation I stay out of, and the guys in the office are all Cowboys fans, and I really loathe the Cowboys.

Heck I was talking about David Beckham the other day with Hans over email and he though it would be a big deal, and I told him that he's too immersed in sports to see that the USA still doesn't care about soccer, and this does little to change it.

My parents were Cowboy fans too, back in the day. Being from Dallas it just seemed the natural thing to be. Back then it was easy because Tom Landry was the coach and the team was made of solid winners. I remember many Thanksgiving days where we cleared out the dinner table just in time to watch the Cowboys.

When I was about 7 or 8 I was given a Roger Staubach uniform, complete with helmet. I don't remember wearing it for much, and I grew out of it quickly as my weight expanded in those years. Years later I bought a Texans jersey when the new team moved into Houston that is now too big for me. I shouldn't buy football paraphernalia.

Still, football never became my number one sport. The Cowboys got a new asshole of an owner and the Houston Oilers would only break your heart. It wasn't until we moved to Houston that I started watching baseball.

Baseball had a couple of things going for it. One was the slower, methodical game. there was a difference in the way it was played, not a brutal sport by any means, it's slow, paces and leaves time to ponder the what-ifs. What if he threw a slider instead of a fastball, what if he chose to throw to third instead of second. There there were the stories. A good baseball announcer can weave tales of days gone by while still giving you the balls and strikes. It's a dedication to the history of the game that you don't get with other sports that seem to mostly live in the now. Baseball seems to relish in it past.

It's also a sport that you can easily read a book in, or study through and not miss anything because the voices get louder and there's plenty of time for an instant replay.

As I grew older, there was another aspect of the game I enjoyed, the men. In football you don't really get to know most of the players because they are kept in the helmet and pads. You can see the face of a man in baseball, and they seemed accessible. Heck, I've talked to baseball players, even interviewing a few in my brief stint as a sports reporter in college. I think I knew more about them than other athletes because their stories were told every night.

of course, some of them were hot - damed hot. It was worth watching the games to see them come up to bat.

It's been good being an Astros fan for the last several seasons. There were several division championships and good teams. There were players like Nolan Ryan to watch. I got to watch several seasons with two good players, Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, both who played their entire career with the Astros, both who should go to the Hall of Fame (Biggio is a lock, Bagwell more on the bubble) Two players who don't have the questions about steroids that many of their peers do.

Sadly there was also Ken Caminitti, the guy who started with the astros, went to the Padres and became a star for a while, but eventually revealed his steroid use. I found it sad that he eventually died of a heart attack helped along by the steroids, but fueled by his use of cocaine. I met him a couple of times...hot as hell and dumb as an ox.

That's part of losing interest. The Rangers are as they were when my grandfather followed them, awful. It's harder to get interested in it when the astros are only on certain nights here, and it seems like the team is about to go into a rebuilding mold as the older players retire. Chris isn't gung ho, so we don't watch together. this and the sport seems to be making some really bad moves as we all watch Barry Bonds take the other most celebrated record in the sport. Sadly he already has the most homers in a single season, and there's still a cloud over his head.

Football lost me when the Oiler's left, and we went for a few years in Houston without a team, and now it's easy to not care about football fever here. Basketball sucks, and hockey tickets are too expensive. I no longer find myself watching ESPN SportsCenter to keep up with Hans. I'm definitely losing interest in sports, especially when so many new sports are trying to take the spotlight - like mixed martial arts.

It's funny, people think I'm strange for loving baseball, and now I guess I'm becoming one of those baseball fans that loved an era of baseball, that time when you fell in love with it. It seems like the era is ending, I'm doubtful, with current leadership that means the steroids era is ending, but hey, that's their own implosion to deal with. It can't be any worse than the way wrestling and cycling have been handling their drug problems, right?

Still, I like going over to BW3 and playing some trivia and watching the sports here and there. Today, sadly they had NASCAR on, but off in a corner were Ripken and Gwynn (and actually, Tony Gwynn, always a little chubbier than the average player, was hot, too) showed that there were some good guys in sports, and that should be rewarded.
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It's Friday night, and I'm tired, and I really would like to be able to take a short vacation. Unfortunately all my time for this year is devoted, most of it to the Alaskan Cruise coming up in september (spaces may still be available!). Still, I often think of many places I'd like to visit, if not stay for an extended length of time.

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time you know one way I'm working on seeing more of the country is to take in a ballgame at each Major League Baseball stadium. I've hit 10 of them so far, so I have several to go. I'll pick up a game in Seattle as a part of the Alaska trip this year. I'm thinking of making New York City my primary destination next year as I've never been there, it would be good to see Mikel again, and I'd love to see Yankee Stadium before they tear it down.

I also have to go back to St. Louis someday as they built a new stadium there, and I still need to go back to Chicago to see Comiskey Park and to Oakland. I really don't have a problem with visiting either city again.

I'm trying to convince Chris to do a baseball and coasters tour of Ohio, seeing the parks in Cincinnati and Cleveland, and then going to King's Island and Cedar Point. If were really daring, that would be a good time to pick up Pittsburgh as well or Detroit.

The ballparks I've see are, from west to east, San Francisco, Texas (Arlington), Houston, Kansas City, Chicago (Wrigley), St. Louis (old Busch Stadium), Baltimore, Philadelphia, Montreal and Boston. Lots more to go, and my rule is I actually have to see a game there, not just do the tour. This means I'll have to go to Phoenix again sometime.

This means there will have to be a Southern California tour eventually, and a trip to Miami, Tampa Bay and Atlanta (not necessarily together), and some sort of stretch that may include Minneapolis and Milwaukee. Somewhere there also needs to be another visit to Washington DC, and a trip to Toronto, and Denver. It's a lot of criss-crossing the country, but I'm hoping I can have it all finished before my 50th birthday. 20 stadiums in ten years - given if they don't add any more teams.

like I said, I've seen some of these cities, like washington DC, without hitting the stadium. I'm trying to decide if I want to wait until the new one is up, but since my sister's in the area, it's always easy to drop in.

I've been to San Diego and Los Angeles (and Anaheim) before, but that was when I was five and my grandparents took me to Disneyland, Sea World and Knotts Berry Farm. That's three more places i wouldn't mind seeing again as an adult. I've been to florida too, but the only cities I've visited were Orlando (Disney again) and Pensacola due to some family ties. I've not visited the other cities, and I hear Key West is an interesting place to visit.

Of course, not every dream of travel is ties to baseball, but it does define the closer to home, more affordable travel. If money weren't an object, and I had the time to really get out there, I'd love to visit Australia and New Zealand, Great Britain and Germany and possibly Japan. Those are much longer range goals, but hopefully I'll get to his some of them before I get to old to really enjoy them.

It's not something that I can do all at once, but it does me good to have a goal in mind with my traveling, and getting to discover so much more, beyond the baseball field, about the cities. I find it really life changing to travel and learn. My trips have involved getting to know people, like my trip to chicago a few years back, or my first trip with Chris to San francisco. Heck, one of the trips - to Montreal was the one to see baseball in the city before it lost it's team, but ended up being the trip I went to my first gay bar, and my first pride parade - safely far from home - that led me to where I am today.

Who knows where the next trip will take me? Still, I'll be happy to know the words "Play Ball" will probably be a part of it.
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My mind is everywhere right now.

*First, I'm watching Kathy Griffin tonight, and she's gone to the GAYVN's (though she never call it by name) and they show a shot of the audience and I say to Chris, "oh, there's that porn star that killed himself last week." I suddenly thought...wow, why do I now so much about porn stars?

*We ran out of dog food last night so I thought, on the way home I'll pick some up at the pet store where the attractive guy works. He was there, and I'm lugging the 40 pound bag of food around, and nothing. He lets the girl check me out and that was that, I'm carrying a 40 pound bag of dog food to the car.

Well, I text Chris to say I got the food, and he doesn't see it before he goes and gets a 40 pound bag of dog food as well. So he gets home, sees that we now have 80 pounds of dog food and proceeds to tell me that the cute pet store guy (Pet Shop Boy?) actually said hi to him. *sigh*

*Hmm, I kind of missed the Baseball All Star Game tonight, didn't I? I saw a little bit of Home Run Derby last night when we were over at Michael ([livejournal.com profile] mikeybeartx) and Michael's ([livejournal.com profile] starzcub) house, but there really isn't much reason to watch all-star games in any sport.

*Why is there such a big race for president right now? Because we want these guys, almost any one of them, to take over right now. Every day it's more denial, more corruption, more riding roughshod over laws. A majority of American's want the Vice President impeached, almost as many want the President, too. I do have to say I'm glad to see that American's are realizing that Cheney is the more dangerous of the two.

*Alright, now the thing that has me on edge right now. I have an interview on Thursday within the company, and it's in the form of a demonstration. I'm to demonstrate my skills as an instructor in a class room setting. Today I was given my assignment and I have to come up with a lesson plan and actually teach the subject for my interviewers.

The plans aren't that difficult, but i've been given a lot of time, 45 minutes to teach something that's basically rejecting a request, so I'm trying to find things to fill the time without over padding it. I'm unfamiliar with their training production region in the imaging system (paperless office, so they say), so I'm trying to figure out how I can best explain how to get the work into the system, and even better - out of it when they go to do practice items.

In the screen-out interview I told them that I've done training before, and I've written curriculum for my old company, but right now it feels like years since I've done that (six to be exact). I'm finding myself to be a little rusty on planning.

Still, I sold myself well, I thought, so they won't be the only one with expectations to meet. I want to wow them and show them that I deserve this position much more than someone who only has seniority on me. I have to show them that my skills as a trainer trump their knowledge of the companies policies and procedures.

I'm nervous. There's six other candidates (down from 12) going for this and none have my skill, but I feel like I have something to prove here. I feel like I have to crap a rainbow out of my ass or something.

Now if they'd only give me some time on the clock to prepare for this crap!
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A week ago I was coming home from Baltimore after being dropped off at BWI airport by my parents and my sister. It was the most family-centric thing I've done in a while, and I felt really odd about it.

Things started out badly as American Airlines decided to cancel my 6:25 am flight, and we found out about it as I was trying to look up the gate for the plane on Chris' Trio as were were driving out to DFW. By the time I could get an agent on the phone to reschedule, we had already gotten to the terminal. we turned back and tried to sleep for a couple of hours at home before again making the trip out to the airport for the 10:50 flight.

By the time I land in Baltimore, and my sister, Laura, picks me up, it's really to late to do much besides pick up her still-finance (6 years now) Ed, from work and go out to dinner. As I love to do when I'm in Baltimore, I love to go to Little Italy and have some of the best food. Sure, some people will tell you about crabcakes and seafood, but give me a bowl of tortillini and I'm in heaven.

Laura then tells me the little thing that sets me on edge for the entire visit. My parents are coming out, and yeah, it's been a hard year for them, with some medical issues. my dad's been in recovery from his chemo treatments for a while, and this is there first trip away since then. First laura tells me that my Dad got so weak that he had to be hospitalized and almost could have died. no one had told me this, and it happened two months ago. Secondly, she tells me that he's had a lot of downtime to be thinking about things, and he's come to the conclusion that he's really bugged about my being gay. I thought this was the case, but my family doesn't talk to anyone directly about anything, and in fact, Laura said I should probably not talk about it at all over the visit.

Let's be real here, I'm not going to shut up about what's happening in my life to please my dad. Yeah, I won't outline what happens in the bedroom, but if I'm talking about going to bed, at night to sleep, yes, I'm going to say "we went to bed". I'm going to say Chris' names, and say wee, to say that we're going on a cruise to Alaska. I won't edit Chris out of my life to please my dad.

In a way, I wish Chris could have been there, for one thing, we would have all been in the same bed and breakfast, which could have been real interesting. (Being on my own, I saved by sleeping on my sister's couch.) The Bed and Breakfast is owned by the parents of Laura's hairdressing couple. My parents seem to like the innkeepers, so it's probably the closest thing to a PFLAG meeting I would ever be able to get them to, if they would actually get on that subject. I'm guessing that they didn't, though.

Well, My parents didn't land until late on Sunday, so Laura, Ed and I went out for brunch where Ed and I had our usual political debate (I think he likes Guliani for Pres right now - *shudder*). Laura sits by and waits for us to have it out. Ed gets all blustery while I usually calmly counterpoint. Chris hates this, and my Dad would be on Ed's side, so it was good that neither were there at that point.

We went out to the B&O Railroad Museum that day in the rain. lots of old trains, a few models and some other memorabilia in a large roundhouse once used by the railroad. the B&O is long gone now, merged out of existence by several steps now. There were large diesel engines and small horse-drawn carriages of a long-gone era.

Once my parents got in, it was off for another Italian dinner. We all talked, but mostly things stayed on the safe topics of my parents medical issues and what new buildings were going up in Conroe, Texas since I left a year and a half ago. Can you believe that they have two Best Buys now?

On Monday Laura and I dropped Ed off at work and took their car up to Philadelphia to see the Phillies play at Citizens Bank Field. Laura and Ed only have the one car, so we would have to come back to pick him up after the game. It had been raining for the last few days and I was worried that the rain would call the game, but as we travelled up I-95 the rain ended and we settled for an overcast day of watching the Phillies and San Francisco Giants.

The field is nice, another somewhat retro park with lots of steel beams and brickwork. Different from the more modern Eagles' Football stadium across the parking lot. Our seats were high and in a corner, but still had good views. Except for the Philly Phanatic, we really couldn't see him except for when the big green mass was on the Jumbotron. The Phanatic is probably more famous than any of the Philly players. of course the whole thing was overshadowed by Barry bonds coming up and the crowd booing, hoping that he wouldn't get any closer to Hank Aaron's home run record. Luckily he went 0-4 for the day, but the Phillies lost.

Otherwise, we had a little bit of time to kill to let the main rush hour, so we went downtown and out to Penn's Landing which was pretty much deserted. Back home we went to meet Ed and the parents who had been on the inner harbor of Baltimore most of the day. We went out to Pei Wei where my parents had never been, and I paid, because it looks good.

On my last day we went out to a new hanger in Fairfax, Virginia where the Smithsonian puts it's very large collection of Air and Space vehicles that don't fit into the building in DC. the building is next to Dulles airport and it's huge. They have hundreds of aircraft in there, including the Enola Gay, A 747 and the Concorde. They also have the Space shuttle Enterprise there, the one the fans of Star Trek named. Of course, if they waited a ship or two, they could have had one that actually went into space. You can go up several leves, which is good because they have many of the planes hung like they were model aircraft in a kids room.

Now we had to get from Dulles Airport to BWI so I could get on my 6:25 flight back to Dallas, so it's time to get on the never ending parking-lot of the Washington beltway. luckily my dad was driving, so i slept. i had been getting a cold, so I was on corisidan and was out of it. luckily the traffic was so bad that we couldn't go to my Dad's destination - the NRA museum. it would have only been good if Charlton Heston was stuffed in it.

i hadn't seen my parents in a year, and it was remarkable the changes. they are both in their mid sixties, so I wouldn't necessarily think of it as old - that's more like 70's and 80's now, but they were looking old, and moreso, frail. My mother has developed a pronounced stoop, and my dad's hair had fallen out from the chemo and was now coming in white. I guess I'm coming to grips that they won't be here forever, but it seems like it may be coming faster than i thought.

I would have liked to talk to my dad a little more about my life, and let him know I'm OK, and I'm very happy to be who I am. I guess it will have to wait until we can actually have some time apart from everyone else, but I feel like I'm going to have to have that talk with him soon. I don't like him telling my sister things, and not coming to me as well, especially when it's serious.

Well, Laura said that she sees herself staying in Baltimore for another year. Last year she seemed to think that she wanted to move back to Texas, but now see sees some other opportunities on the East Coast, so i may get another chance to get up there and see a National's game up in DC. For now, I've got another park crossed off my list.


If you want to see a few pictures I took, take a look at this flickr page. There's a couple of pics of my parents in there.
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In the morning - the very early morning, mind you, I fly off to Baltimore. I'm going to see my sister and her fiancee again, but this time will be strange because on Sunday my parents will be flying in. I haven't seen them in over a year, and of course we all have to fly halfway across the country to see each other, rather than staying in the state.

This will be the first time I see my dad since he started chemo treatments for prostate cancer. I've been told that he's lost all of his hair, which will be very odd since the Edwards men aren't really bald guys. Mom's supposedly got a big sightseeing schedule for them, so it will be interesting to see if my dad can keep up. He hasn't been as active as he used to be. Dad goes under the knife for the final cut out of the cancerous cells this fall.

Most of what they'll be doing will happen after I'm gone. I'm flying back Tuesday night, and the parents will stay for about 10 days. I'm sure Laura's thankful that they will be staying at the bed and breakfast, and not in her house. I'll be futon surfing again - keeps costs down.

We don't have much of an agenda. We're thinking of going into DC for a bit. and I'd like to stalk Duff, the Ace of Cakes at his Charm City Cakes store. We'll see if that happens. the only thing that's confirmed is going to Philadelphia on Monday to catch a game at their new ballpark. It's a day game, so we'll probably be baking in the sun a bit (reminder, bring sunscreen).

If anyone has some good ideas for what to see on a quick jaunt to Philly (we did the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall last year), just let me know. If I was smarter I would have asked [livejournal.com profile] murphy or [livejournal.com profile] anglicub earlier. If anyone's in the area, baltimore, Philly or DC, just leave me a note here, or text me using the link on the user info page!

Otherwise, Chris will be all on his lonesome for a few days. Not to worry, he just bought Paper Mario for the Wii, so I think he'll be busy. Once i get home I have to take him off for his flight to California next week. Separate vacations now, a big one together this September (there's still room on the cruise for you!)

I'll check in from time to time here, but it's more about rest, relaxation and family this weekend. I'll catch you all later.
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While Chris and I were playing trivia at BW3 tonight I noticed an interesting poll on ESPN News. It's Mark McGwire's first opportunity to be on the ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame, and of the Baseball Writers (those who vote on the Hall of Fame inductees) only 25% said that they would vote for McGwire on this ballot.

So 75% of the voters surveyed would say no to McGwire...at least on this round. I think it's a shame because I think McGwire (and Sammy Sosa) re-kindled America's interest in baseball for a short time that few players have. Watching the chase for 70 was thrilling and fun.

Of course the fact that the muscle-bound McGwire was frackkin hot is a whole 'nuther addition to his greatness in my book.

The fact that I was rooting for him when his St Louis Cardinals were playing in the same division as the Astros means that I really respected his talent...or something. Ok, so I was horny in 1998, not like that's anything new.

Unfortunately, McGwire will always be placed in with the drug-enhanced bunch, even though the evidence is a little shaky. Yes, he copped to using Andro to build muscle, but at the time the supplement wasn't on the banned list. (It is now.) Neither was creatine. Perhaps his leaving baseball in his prime was to get out before more could be found, or a test would come up with something, we'll never know. The fact is, the writers are assuming that he used illegal substances without their being empirical proof.

What some point to as proof is that the pictures of McGwire as a rookie show a much less developed man than he was playing for the Cardinals. Sammy Sosa also went through this transformation at about the same time. During this time supplements and strenght training took leaps ahead, so it's not completely out of place for this to be "natural", but again, I'm not sure we'll really know.

McGwire's record of 70 home runs was surpassed by Barry Bonds, a many with even more allegations against him, and an ongoing investigation. Given that Bonds may surpass the record for career home runs will really question if he's Hall of Fame worthy.

in many cases, holding a record, or being on the top ten of a major record (let's say, number of doubles for a career) would get you in pretty easily, but sadly, in this era anyone who has a record season, or record career is automatically suspect.

Is the question to just go ahead and allow substances, and allow everyone the opportunity to go big, or do we try to keep the sport clean...as much as it can? Always there will be those who will try to get an edge, something that might keep them in the game a little longer, or propel them to the stratosphere.

You look at a story of someone who did come forward, who did say that he was taking steroids, Ken Caminiti, and you wonder it it was worth it. Yes, he did win MVP one year, and he was able to play hurt, but in the end, it was a middling career. His admission cost him the Hall, and his own personal demons eventually cost him his life.

So what price fame and glory? McGwire has his head on a little better than Ken Caminitti, so the snub probably won't affect him as much. McGwire has rarely done interviews or appearances since he retired. You're more likely to see disgraced star Pete Rose on the baseball card circuit than you are McGwire.

Still, I would put McGwire in the Hall, all the while I'm rooting against Barry Bonds...perhaps it's hypocritical, but I think much of it just has to do with the man himself. McGwire always seemed appreciative, confident and likable, while Bonds comes off as an arrogant prick. Bonds was never the teammate that McGwire seemed to be despite the sideshow.

Perhaps McGwire will get in on a later ballot, but it looks like for now, the baseball Writers are going to use him to make a statement, that players of the "juiced" era aren't going to be thought of as highly as others. Integrity? Perhaps, but it's sad that it comes down to a man with character to be the sacrificial lamb.
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❅ It's been a strange weekend. For most of it, I've been watching Chris playing The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I have to admit, it is intoxicating. There's a lot going on and I'm enjoying trying to solve the puzzles and get through the rather lengthy story.

He's playing this on our new Wii. I played the Wii sports, and I really liked it. Making the moves was pretty easy, but then again, you're only using one controller. Zelda takes two controllers with a lot of moving of them, slashing for the sword, moving the other for your shield. In a way, it's even more difficult than using the XBox controller, but it looks to be more intuitive, too.

I'm enjoying the fact that we're starting to see some other Mii's in the parade. It's stupid, and overly cute, but it's something that makes the Wil different than the other game consoles.

❆ I hate that the NFL games throw off my watching of the Amazing Race finale. Could we please move the show off Sundays?

❄ We went last night out to one of the largest Christmas parties that I've seen in someone's home. I'm guessing there were at least 250 people in the home and there was booze and a full catered meal. Anyone who follows my journal knows that large crowds creep me out, so i ended up leaving, leaving Chris and Mikel there fro a while while I worked on calming down.

I freaked when I was left alone as Chris and Mikel went off to the hour-long line to get booze. I just stood by myself and felt that everyone was looking at me for being ugly. I was in a house full of hot men, and didn't feel like I could talk to any of them. Why can't I even try talking to someone? Maybe if I didn't feel like I needed to run of to the fringe, and stay out of the crowd.

❃ Enough of that. Here's something about a crowd I hope to do better with. Chris and I have decided to go on a cruise. I said that the one cruise I'd be interested in going on is an Alaskan cruise, and lo and behold, next year's RSVP/Lazybear Out to Sea Cruise is going to Alaska in September.

I have to say, I'm actually more excited right now of getting to go to Seattle, and after the cruise I'll get to cross Safeco Field, the Seattle Mariner's stadium, off my list to have seen a game at.

Still, the cruise is the main thing, it's a seven day cruise on the ms Amsterdam going up to the Alaskan panhandle and making a stop at Victoria Island, BC - so I'll have to get my passport renewed. Given the pictures that Chris came back from his last cruise with, if even half of those guys came on board it would be a pretty hot crowd.

Of course, that's why I'm mentioning this now. I'm hoping that several of our LJ friends will join us on the cruise. Come on and get on the boat with us!

❉ Wow, 2007 is just three weeks away, and i haven't done my christmas cards. Why can't I multitask, filling out cards and saving Hyrule from the forces of darkness?
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I've been writing this for days...and something was keeping me from finishing, after travel blues, I suppose, but I regained some inspiration watching Fever Pitch - the movie about the Boston Red Sox fan tonight. It brought back a lot of the feelings I have for Boston.

On Monday I had only one real objective, go see a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. I had the concierge at work find the ticket for me, and I must say that she did a great job. I paid about twice the original value for it, and seeing that the game had been sold out prior to the beginning of the season, that was a pretty good price. There were several times during my trip that people were surprised that I even got a ticket, including the guy who sat next to me, who was a longtime fan.

I jumped onto the T line and went out to the nearest stop, crossed over the Mass Pike (with it’s Pilgrim hat logo), and stepped into the neighborhood which was crowded with people, some Yankee fans, many Red Sox hopefuls, all wondering if the Sox could stave off a five-game sweep. There were plenty of food venders and musicians in the street. I walked around the entire perimeter and entered under the banner on Yawkey Way, the same entrance now immortalized in that picture of Owen and Dave kissing.

The Red Sox have taken over the street with food vendors and a store, so no longer do you have to enter in the small gates that are actually part of the building. They make it a great street party atmosphere there with people talking and eating. I grabbed a pizza slice. I never got around to eating a Fenway Frank. I went into the stadium, down into the small concourse that was actually named the Big Concourse. Given the food and restroom areas I’ve seen in other stadiums (except for tiny Wrigley Field) this was like stepping into a prairie dog’s hole. The bathrooms were pretty much as advertised, cramped, for sure, but they had individual urinals…not the troughs as some had said.

I then went to find my seat. I knew it was out in right field, and at first I thought it was located on the upper deck, but once I went through the walkway and out into the bowl, there I was, just 20 rows up from the field. The seat was amazing, and luckily on the aisle, so I only had to hold one arm over my body and cross my legs to stay in it. People kept walking up and down the aisle during all parts of the game, but luckily it was on the right side of me and didn’t disrupt my view of the game. I looked right over to the famed “Green Monster” in left field, now decked out with seats of it’s own, which looks very strange when you’ve seen the stadium for so many years on TV. My seat was plastic, which I was glad for when after the game I looked up another couple of rows and saw that the seats were even smaller and made of wood. Old wood. I’ll have to thank the concierge again for that.

A highlight of the event was seeing the beefy David Wells warm up in right field. He threw a pretty good game, too, but alas, the Red Sox lost the game 2-1 and the Yankees swept the five-game series. It was a pretty bad blow for Red Sox Nation, and pretty much dropped them out of the playoff hunt this year. The fans held on to hope for the entire game…though there were some Yankees fans off in the bleachers who got rowdy and were kicked out of the stadium.

Sitting next to me was a retired man from Florida who was formerly a native of the area. He had brought his son to the stadium, and his wife, daughter and granddaughter had seats in another area, as they couldn’t get tickets all together. We got to talking about the Sox and the stadium, and it sounded like he had seen a lot of games here. He lamented that he used to get bleacher seats for $2 and beer for 50 cents. He was happy to talk about the bygone eras and talk about seeing Ted Williams in his later years of his career. That’s one of the unique parts of Baseball, and it’s great to find someone like that to talk to in such a storied place…and we all booed Johnny Damon together.

After the game I tried with much futility to find the “Big Papi” shirt that I saw in the stadium, but it wasn’t something the official store carried. Then I decided to walk back in the rough direction of the hotel. A false sense of distance had taken over when over the weekend I was able to easily walk from Long Warf to the Back Bay, or when we had quickly circled the city by car. It was different coming from Fenway. First you have to circle around the Back Bay Fens, then go through the Christian Science Center and Copley Square into the Back Bay. From there I chose to go up to the Charles River Esplanade. By the time I reached the Hatch Shell, my legs were really hurting, and it was still a ways to the nearest T stop.


More, non Red Sox memories behind the cut )
eggwards: (Uphill Climb)
Well, that's it. The World Series, the baseball season, and the Astros season are all finished in one last out. It becomes really sad to be swept in this way, close games, yes, but so many frustrations where there were opportunities missed, runners left stranded, and pitches lobbed into the stratosphere that were simply heartbreaking. Last night's game, the 14 inning, five-plus hour nightmare was much harder to take than tonight, where defeat just seemed more inevitable.

You would hope that the Astro's first time to the Fall classic in franchise history would have gone better than this. Still, you must congratulate the Chicago White Sox for really barreling through all of their playoff opponents and showing what it takes to be a champion.

I have to wonder if the Astros will get back to the World Series anytime soon, as the veterans, like Biggio, Bagwell and Clemens are aging rapidly and are closer to retirement than title games. Still, it was exciting seeing this, and I'm glad we got here, but my heart is broken.

Because Hans didn't want to sit around watching the game tonight, he suggested we use the free passes he had to see the sneak preview of The Legend of Zorro. Here's a mini review. It's hammy. It uses every action cliche you can think of. It lasts way too long. The villains talk too much-because no one cares, and lastly, everyone's upstaged by the kid and horse.

We left the movie and the game was still in a scoreless tie, but it wasn't long before the White Sox got the one hit they would need to win.

It's done. the story is that the White Sox join the Red Sox in ridding themselves of long droughts while Houston gets labeled as "just happy to be there". Well, we had our hopes and dreams too. Now we'll put them away for yet another season.

Perhaps that National League Championship T-shirt will be on clearance now.
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Somehow this has become sports week in my journal.

Years and years ago, there was a football team in Houston...not the one we have now, who can't win a game, but one that fit the Houston sports scene more by just getting far enough to choke in a big game. They wore powder blue, which didn't seem quite so effeminate back in the sixties and seventies, and in true Texan spirit, fans seemed to Love 'Em, despite the fact that the never quite kicked the door down.

For some reason, someone thought they needed a fight song. Now high school and college teams have fight songs, but pro teams are usually above the fray, but when the Dallas Cowboys got a set of Cheerleaders, suddenly teams had band and mascots and all the other trappings of their nonprofessional brethren.

Houston's fight-song didn't sound like a regular fight-song, something that would be played by a marching band and sung at a pep rally by the students that cared, or actually remembered the words. Houston's fight song sounded something like a honkey-tonk bar song mixed with a New Orleans funeral march. The words, were worse, and seemed to be written by someone who was lucky enough to be given a rhyming dictionary for Christmas.

What was worse is that the Miami Dolphins were given the same exact song, with a change of the team name. Both songs claim that the team is "the greatest football team." So who's right? Given that the Dolphins won Superbowls, I'd have to say it wasn't the Oilers.


Here are the lyrics to Houston Oilers #1 )


Now if that wasn't bad enough, because the Oilers had a song, then the Astros had to have one. This was back in the 1980's, when the team still wore the uniforms with the big orange stripes across the belly. Certainly the most flattering look a baseball player has ever worn (of course the White sox did have the shorts that one year).

Unfortunately I can't find the lyrics to this total abomination, but one of the phrases is: "Here come the Astros, Burning with desire, Here come the Astros, Breathing orange fire." It's no wonder those Astros teams ended up losing.

Now, in this modern age such songs are passe. I'll admit I've played my share of fight songs in college and high school, and trust me, few people really cared in college if we played the fight song or the latest Gloria Estefan ditty. fight songs are silly, and often poorly written, but in a way, they are tradition for the school set.

The professional athlete comes to the plate to the latest rap song, or to some old classic rock song. Nothing revved up a crowd at Enron Field like seeing the closer coming out to the strains of Metallica's "Enter Sandman". Certainly no one would get excited about a rousing chorus of "Orange Fire" again.

Then again, baseball is the sport that trots out "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" every night.

Still, what's the song now? Besides the pulled together montages of a song with baseball calls produced by local radio stations, we have a version of "Turn It Up" by Chamillionare, some Houston rapper that I know nothing about. Of course I'm not sure if Drayton McClain, the Astros' owner quite knows what "crunk' is, either.

So maybe fight-songs are just a little out of date these days. They are a little too "patriotic" in this grey world. Just a little hokey where we have decided that the struggle between millionaires is just not that important.

Still, we could just go back to just claiming that we're number one. What's the harm in a little bit of boastfulness. Heck, the entire rap world seems to be built on it. So I guess that we can sing to the fact that our millionaires are number one. Fight, Fight, Fight.

Apple Pie

Jul. 12th, 2005 08:27 am
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I watched a little of the Home Run Derby last night as I was eating dinner at Chili's (alone *cries*), and I think that this once cute sidebar to Baseball's All-Star Game has really fallen into being a real bore.

The biggest problem was that there was no star power. Now I haven't been following baseball as much this year as usual, but I still have a pretty good idea who the big sluggers are, and - they weren't there. Sure, there was Pudge Rodriguez, the hometown guy there in Detroit, and the longest playing guy in the exhibition, but where was Sammy Sosa? Has getting off of steroids finally showed that he's not a natural homerun hitter?

A few years ago, you would have seen Sammy, and Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire bashing the ball in this competition, and it was worth watching. This year they tried to manipulate the competition to have each player from a different country. Nice gesture, but it just showed that the big names bowed out. There was also something about some gold baseball that they would try to hit out of the park, trying to avoid making the last out. I didn't understand what it meant, and I don't think anyone else did.

They try to make this more interesting by having them play for people who will win a house if their player wins the competition, so the commentators, who are struggling to find enough to talk about during the long competition, are talking to these regular folks as they root on the unknown players. We at home, not winning a house for watching this, don't care.

This competition goes on for two and a half hours. About the length of a real game. It's way too long. And to think last year, when the game was in Houston I waited outside the stadium watching the balls sail out of the ballpark. Last night, I didn't even watch the end of it.

As for tonight's game, the All-Star Game, well, I'll probably catch a little of it, but it's still a game that means just a little more that the Basketball All-Star game, and I still think it's stupid that they make home field advantage for the World Series contingent on this. Why would the Tampa Bay player even care? He won't be going to the World Series.

Baseball's a crazy game.

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