I wish I knew how to quit you

There are three things in my life which I really love:  God, my family, and baseball.  The only problem – once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit.  ~Al Gallagher, 1971

I developed my love of baseball from my dad. I learned very early on that sports was at the core of his heart and if I wanted to spend more time with him, liking sports was the way to do it. And so I started watching sports with him. I remember spending a lot of time cheering and yelling along with him while watching baseball, football, basketball and yes, even professional wrestling. But baseball was his first love and it became mine. I had a blast collecting baseball cards and helping my dad catalog his. We even took ever opportunity to give each other the “Bash Bros.” forearm.

photo by: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Admittedly it’s been a long while since I have been fanatical about sports in general and baseball in particular. When I once was a repository for random stats for just about every player on the Yankees, I slowly saw that blind, rabid fanaticism fade as I began working in sports. While I thoroughly enjoyed the game while I was working, the last thing I wanted to do was come home and watch SportsCenter and be reminded of work. Maybe there are some doctors that like to watch Grey’s Anatomy but I didn’t really like the idea of being at the stadium for 12 plus hours to come home and watch listen to the talking heads spout about whatever else was going on in some other stadium. Every one else got to come home and leave their jobs at the office and the only way for me to do that was to turn off ESPN.

And so I stopped actively watching baseball and ESPN. It was just too much for me and was a necessary move to keep me from getting burned out. I needed that break from the game even though it did cause me to basically become clueless about all sports. I used to be able to name the starting five for every basketball team in the league and hold court in just about any sports debate but now all I can really do is shrug my shoulders. I didn’t really care but I did feel that burning shame when people instinctively asked me for my opinion not knowing that I was no longer as attuned to the sports world has I used to be. I wanted to be that person but my information was just so old that I had to fake it by being vague. Because the more vague you are, the more accurate you can be.

But now that I’m no longer working in sports for the time being, I’m starting to renew my love affair with it. In the past year I’ve been finding myself actually listening to the games on the radio and tuning in to them a lot more than I had in the previous five years and it feels great. While I probably won’t be watching SportsCenter anymore [it's now like E! News with sports than anything else] it feels good to get back to the game I love. So much has changed; I need to reacquaint myself with my Yankees and learn who’s who among the pinstripes. I can’t believe Derek Jeter is 36! Wasn’t he just 30 and incredibly productive and effective? Now he’s arguably getting close to the twilight of his career. We all can’t be Ozzie you know.

Will I regain the extreme fanaticism I once had? No, I won’t. That was me before I peered behind the curtain. I can still appreciate the game for what it is and get swept up in those moments as a fan because, no matter how jaded you are, you can’t help but enjoy the feeling of excitement and/or agony that surges through your body when you’re watching your team compete.

And that is what keeps me a fan.

A league of our own

So last night was our annual company softball game and it was so much fun. I haven’t been able to attend the past few years since it’s usually been on a Wednesday when I had Bible study but since I’m on my one-week break and this year was held on Thursday, I was finally able to attend.

And boy was I missing out all those other years!

Our company is fairly large with a few different offices spread around so we don’t always get to see everyone on an everyday basis but the general rapport between everyone is great. The event is kind of a big deal around these parts: this year there was even an emcee, a National Anthem singer AND photographers [yeah, I know]. But in all, it’s just like any other softball game at the park. There’s plenty of pizza [we had two separate deliveries!] and beer, soda and water [several people took their beers out to the playing field with them] and it was all very casual though still teeming with that competitive vibe that makes things that much more fun. There was even a homerun derby afterwards!

We broke into four teams and played 3 total games: 2 semifinal games and then the championship game. With 17 players on our team, we had to rotate in. I started on the bench but was put in as catcher during the second inning and eventually finished the game after sitting out the next two innings [the other people were lacking in some skills]. I did have a fairly decent showing at the plate, though I made good solid contact, I didn’t get the ball out of the infield [hitting was never my strong suit] and I was just glad and relieved that I didn’t stink up the joint like I did during batting practice when I whiffed on all five pitches.

I know. HORRIBLE.

I was really nervous about playing because I knew there would be a few women out there who really could play. I knew I wouldn’t be able to compete on their level, having never played softball in an organized way, but thankfully I was able to keep up and didn’t let myself down.

Hopefully it’ll be scheduled so I can participate in it next year. I definitely want to do this again. There was so much laughter and good natured teasing going on. One of the interns [on my team] had a bit of a rough night though, after boffing a couple of catches that he was teased about, he redeemed himself with an inside-the-park homerun only to throw himself back into the doghouse after failing to run out a pop fly that the other team ended up dropping. Had he made it to first base, we would have won. Oh well.

I wasn’t too bummed about losing though. At least that meant I was free to leave whenever. I left at about a quarter to 9 and the championship game was not even halfway over.

I am, however, kind of considering picking up a glove to use in the future. I started out using my dad’s old glove, one that’s been around for forever. I think it might be almost as old as I am, but ended up switching with a coworker since the original one wasn’t as padded as I would like. I bruised a finger while fielding throws because of the way the ball hit the glove. Besides, you never know when you’ll need a baseball glove!

Hey, your fan is showing…

Over the last weekend I was kind of half watching the Battle of the Bay: 49ers versus Raiders while working on my Econ midterm [that I got an A- on!] and twittering about it when I got into a fun little battle of words with a Niner fan. The banter went back and forth, mostly about how crappy the Raiders are and my lack of a denial [I mean, they are!] but what stood out the most was this exchange:

tweets

While I am still a huge sports fan, I mainly feel the fanatic part of me has largely been tempered after taking classes at Michigan. I just don’t get caught up in the glitz of things like I used to; I’m just not as emotionally attached as I used to be.

That is a potential side effect but it doesn’t happen to everyone who works in sports. Some people still manage to maintain the complete fan naiveté, others become more tempered [like myself], and still others pretty much have their inner fan completely subdued as if they’re dosing up on Xanax or something.

Anywho, so my secret is out. I’m not that big of a sports fan anymore. I hardly keep up with anything and I’m lucky if I can remember who was drafted when [much to the chagrin of my nephew, who CONSTANTLY likes to ask me about so and so or who that football guy is]. Now compare that to the me in high school when I could recite the starting five for every basketball team in the NBA, the first 15 guys drafted in both the NFL and NBA drafts [oh, and when I actually watched the draft!] and when I was ready to go to death for my favorite teams. My life revolved around Sportscenter, so much so that I wanted to work for them. Yeah, I was ready to move out to Connecticut. Heaven forbid you say anything negative about someone I liked. I complained and moaned like the most seasoned of sports-radio call-in listeners about what I would do if I ran the team or how I would have managed a certain situation.

So pursuing a career in sports was the most obvious of things for me. If only I knew what that would entail. I’ve said it a few times before but I remember my very first day of class at Michigan, sitting in a classroom in the CCRB [Central Campus Recreation Building] above the squash courts and down the hall from the weight room with anticipation, only to be told that I would systematically be destroyed and built back up. Okay, not in those exact words but I’m sure that’s what Dr. George really meant to say.

Who knew that by the end of my four years there I’d turn into a pretty savvy and arguably [by some] emotionless fan. I was effectively groomed for management, which was pretty much the point. You can’t be a raging fan and properly manage a team [or, to be honest, work for a team]. You have to be able to make the proper and necessary business decisions, because after all, it is a business. Looking back, I know I would have sucked as a General Manager because I would have been too caught up in the fan aspect of a player instead of looking at it from a more critical eye. There are many layers that typical fans [not all of them!] miss out behind every decision.

And don’t get me started on trying to reason with a die-hard fanatic [trust me; I used to be one of them!]. Like many things, you cannot have a logical discussion with someone who operates wholly on the emotional side.

I did notice that when I started working for the minor league baseball team, my subsequent viewings of Sportscenter plummeted. It just reminded me too much of work. I wanted to come home and escape everything that happened that day and watching baseball highlights all night was not helpful. Then I began to dread going into extra innings because that meant I would be getting home that much later or that, at one point, didn’t care who won; I just wanted someone to get a run so I could finally go home!

I’ll let you in on a little secret: during the really long extra inning games, most front office staff are no where to be found because they’re in their offices finishing up as much work as possible so they can go home sooner after the game ends.

So in an effort to maintain my sanity, I started branching out and watching and paying attention to other things. I just don’t find it fun to be immersed in something all day and then come home to surround myself in the same stuff. Sometimes you just need a break and figure out how to better balance your work/life.

But I will say that I still have those moments of pure fandom; when you’re kicking back at a game and you’re caught up in the moment. Like how I was always excited when the home team knocked in the winning run in extra innings, or nearly going bat crazy watching that epic Yankees-Red Sox extra inning thriller a few weeks back. Or how much fun I had watching the Mariners’ play in Seattle.

And those moments feel soo good.

The fan in me hasn’t died. It’s just realized that the sun will rise again and the world will continue on whether or not the Yankees win the World Series.

And that, my friends, was a hard lesson to learn.

Take me back to the ballgame!

Yesterday’s game was so much fun. I’m glad the rain broke in time for the first pitch. There were some serious doubts as to whether or not they would actually play it.

But Pat finally showed up in time for the trek to the ballpark where we missed former American Idol winner Taylor Hicks do his thing to the National Anthem. I later heard mixed reviews about the performance.

Though I don’t know what Pat was more excited over, the game or the pound or so of fudge I surprised him with. Considering the way he was protecting the bag as if it were a football, which brought on references to “Necessary Roughness.” Or it could have been the evil introduction to bacon-wrapped hot dogs.

Yeah, I had another one and this one tasted even better, probably because of all the hate it got last time I sampled one. It’s like contraband now. Though at almost $7 a pop [like I guessed] this definitely won’t be an all the time thing. More like once in a blue moon.

hot-dog

Unless Pat ends up having the bbq we discussed featuring our own bacon-wrapped hot dogs. Then it’ll be a twice this summer thing [considering I already have one of those twice this summer dogs hopefully the freak outs will be kept to a minimum this time around].

And what was I most excited by? Catching a glimpse of myself on the jumbotron during a replay of a homerun! I’ve been on the jumbotron a couple times already during the crowd shots [in Detroit and at a Giants game with Jacki, Sally and Nicole] but it’s always a thrill to see yourself up there. Of course with my super bright jacket it’s hard NOT to pick myself out of the crowd.

Hopefully I’ll get the chance to catch a few more games there and in Oakland this year with everyone. We always have such a fun time. And maybe if the bf heads out this way during the summer I can cajole him into taking in a game. Maybe?

Rain, rain go away…

Ahh, it’s time for the office’s annual field trip to Opening Day! Well at least I hope we get to make it since it started raining this morning. I’ll be so bummed if it doesn’t. Everyone else got to have their opening days!

Anywho, I pretty much managed to get my work done leading into today’s office abandonment so I shouldn’t have too much to worry about with catching up for tomorrow. At least I hope so because if the game is called, I won’t have anything to do today since I took care of everything!

Now begins the waiting game on our end. We’ll be heading over en masse in about an hour and I can already feel the restlessness in the office. It’s like the last day of school here. Even the execs are wandering around! Good times.

So let’s figure out what it is that I will eat today. Hmm, a polish sausage? Chili cheese fries? Chicken sandwich?

Or maybe a bacon wrapped hot dog that everyone came down against? Controversy never tasted so delicious before.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Not your ordinary case of the Mondays…

Happy Opening Week of Baseball y’all! I am so glad it’s finally the start of the baseball season. And this time for real. Here’s to an exciting summer of baseball and hopefully a championship for my Yankees.

I cannot believe how busy I’ve been the past couple of weeks. And here I thought it would all settle down while I was on break from classes.

Silly me.

But classes start this week as does the start of our official event season here at work so things are gonna be a little wacky this week too but hopefully not too much because I’ve been experiencing some serious blogging withdrawals.

Though what will be exciting is to see just how my job duties will begin to take shape. My boss and I have been flying along figuring out what it is I exactly do. I’m sure we’ll still be making things up as we go along for another month or so but at least now with the event stuff starting to happen that’ll help us to narrow down what I’ll need to be able to take care of. Because most of the stuff only comes to mind when you have to do them.

Which is exciting because I can really see the potential of turning this job into more than just an “executive assistant” type of position, even though my boss doesn’t consider me to be an assistant…we stick with coordinator. Which I like even more. Oooh, I wonder if I can get business cards. I’ll have to remember to ask him once the new phone system gets put in and I get to move desks. Hopefully that’ll happen sometime before the year is out.

That’s enough work talk though.

So here’s more exciting news: I’m going to Seattle! I’m so excited. I’d been talking about flying up to visit Amalia since she moved there last year or so and after some prodding from Virgin America in the form of a promo code for 30% off, I finally got my butt in gear and booked my flight.

I’ll be going up for a weekend of fun, frivolity and hopefully some good eats. Because y’all know I’m gonna try to make a stop at Cupcake Royale. Forreals though. I think I may have already picked my flavors.

You can never accuse me of not having my priorities straight, that’s for sure.

I’m doing a call for places to visit, things to do and stuff to eat while I’m in Seattle. Anyone?

Oh, and in the spirit of state solidarity: go Michigan State! Win one for the Mitten.

And I don’t even feel dirty for saying that.

Peanuts, Cracker Jacks and Hot Dogs, oh my!

The excitement is starting to ramp up. With the Final Four set that means one thing: baseball is literally right around the corner!

Amazing how I turned a basketball reference into a segue for baseball huh? Skills.

But I’m so glad that baseball is back, and I don’t mean the tune up that’s Spring Training. I’m excited for Spring Training for an entirely different reason: it means that baseball is only a couple of months away. It’s like an early warning system.

I’m getting my ducks in line for the office’s annual trip to the Opening Day game. Wahoo. Pat will be my guest to the game this year since Jacki decided she’d much rather be in London visiting her sister. Puh-lease. Just kidding; she’s already penciled in for next year. I’ve been trying to get her to come for two years now but something always comes up. But I will succeed.

Hopefully this year means a better and successful Yankees’ team. I wanna see another Championship run dudes. I’ll still love you if you don’t make it but, you know, just do it.

I’m sure Lola and Jose would agree with me.

But I’m looking forward to seeing who’s going to be the surprise team this year. There’s one every year. Last year was the Tampa Bay [We’re not using Devil anymore] Rays so anyone have any guesses for this year? I haven’t paid too much attention to Spring Training so I don’t know how any team actually shapes up so far so I’ll just have to wait until the first month or so is finished before I venture to make a guess. But the possibilities are endless! It could be anyone!

Well, except the Nationals.

Ha, that was a joke.

Maybe.

A new definition of “occupational hazards…”

It’s been a few days since HWSNBN has been outed as a steroid user by Sports Illustrated and he’s recently admitted to the claim to Peter Gammons. Adding to the fact that Miguel Tejada is scheduled to plead guilty to lying to Congress today what is a baseball fan to do?

I’m glad you asked. The question now isn’t why should fans care but SHOULD fans care. And the simple answer is: no.

We shouldn’t care that professional athletes cheated the system to find some kind of edge, whether performance enhancers actually do help you focus on hitting a baseball. Why shouldn’t we care? Simply put: it technically wasn’t illegal as according to the rules at the time. And we all know how annoying “technicalities” can be.

Obviously MLB didn’t care that its employees were cheating. Many knew, the Union HAD to have known since they fiercely opposed mandatory drug testing for years and what are unions for? To protect the interests of its members. And in the interests of its members, drug testing had to go lest their secret come out.

So if the heads of the company didn’t care, why should we?

Oh, you say the integrity of the sport is at risk? Since when? Since now? So it wasn’t at risk after the 1919 Black Sox scandal? Or the Pete Rose betting debacle? Or the blatant racism? Or the cocaine mess in the ‘80s? Or either of the two player strikes [1981 and 1994]? Or how about the cold shoulder Curt Flood received when challenging the reserve clause? Or what about the prolific reputations of certain drunkards, abusers, philanders, racists and so forth? They didn’t tarnish baseball’s integrity?

The truth is baseball’s integrity has been tarnished for many years already. The problem surrounding most of the disclosure is people’s unrealistic and misguided belief that baseball is pure. Nothing that is a business is pure and MLB is two things: 1] a business and 2] a game, but mainly a business. I will admit that had these allegations been revealed back before I started college, I would have been DEVASTED just like all the other fans. But now that I’ve studied the field and have worked in it, I see it for what it actually is, not the dream people are trying to sell and I am thankful for my insider’s knowledge. It’s way past time to peer behind the curtains folks.

As a fan it’s hard not to become personally and emotionally tied to your favorite team, the company banks on that because that’s how everyone in the business pays the bills. But that blind devotion always fails and then you’re stuck facing the reality of the situation and it’s never pretty. This is why people are upset and disappointed but they shouldn’t be [that includes you, Mr. President]. This is what happens when we place our full trust and hope on these men and make them to be demi-gods; nothing good ever comes from the realization that they’re but mere mortals like ourselves. Everything that is done in the dark eventually surfaces to the light.

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Oh don’t mind her, she’s JUST A GIRL…

Okay I am here to publicly admit that I am completely addicted to Rock Band. And the worst part is I don’t own a video game system to play it on! Sure I just found out that there is a DS version of Guitar Hero but really? Half the fun is actually holding the real guitar.

I wonder if the bf would play with me if I ever did get it. At least I could pick up Guitar Hero and have fun playing with that by myself. I don’t need a partner for that. And yes I have no idea how I will find the time to do this along with the myriad of other things I want to do but you know what? I still want one. And a Wii while we’re at it. I’m so demanding aren’t I?

Anyway I had an actual idea for this post but I lost it somewhere between when I first started writing this morning and when I realized that the package of cookies I had were expired so now I’m a bit nonplused. Thankfully I didn’t eat any.

But yes so now I don’t know where I was going. Besides knowing that I’ll be throwing away some cookies when I get home.

Okay, I was going to write a quick superfluous blurb about how much I’m looking forward to getting my new checks because I picked a super cute [to me] design [Classic Winnie the Pooh! A step up from the Spongebob Squarepants designs I had been using previously] and at how cheaply I got them [not from my bank] but I just checked on my fantasy baseball team and I’m now incensed because the boys in my league honestly and completely think I’m stupid enough to trade some second-tier players for Hanley Ramirez AND Johan Santana. Sure I haven’t been the most attentive manager [I’m back in the dredges but that’s because I’ve pretty much forgotten about it since I peaked at 5th place and haven’t made any moves since and you know, it’s kind of boring] and I’ve been pretty much picking new players at random, but give me some credit. Granted, I didn’t realize how good Hanley was this season until I received two trade requests and I checked him out and I didn’t know I even had Johan until I got a trade request and then promptly forgot that I had him but I also didn’t realize we had started until like, weeks after the game started. But all those personal faults aside, I know that I’m not going to trade my two best players for some crappy ones. Out of the four or five trade requests I have received, only one of them didn’t involve either one of the above-mentioned players. But they still offered crap ones in return.

I know what they’re doing. They’re trying to take advantage of the fact that I’m a girl with presumably little to no knowledge in baseball. Sure my knowledge has been extremely sketch the past couple of years BUT STILL. I know enough to not trade my best players for inferior ones. Sheesh. I swear if I could hit them I would. Because I definitely don’t hit like a girl.

After receiving today’s trade request I finally sent a message along with the reject notice asking if he thought I was stupid. I’m waiting to hear back.

Jerks.

You mean Patagonia isn’t just a brand of jacket?

Am I the only person who still, from time to time, tries to freeze time by touching my index fingers together? I can’t be. There’s got to be someone else who does this. I know that I’ll never be able to stop time but it’s fun to try every once and again, just like we all did after watching that show.

And yes, I did try that yesterday just for kicks.

Okay, can I say how utterly disappointed I am that HWSNBN is potentially in line to return to the Yankees? I mean, what? After all the posturing…for nothing? He better start producing like, all the time. Even when he sleeps. For all that money [while not near the appalling $350 million floor Boras talked up] he needs to be able to heal the sick and walk on water. For real because if he doesn’t then it’s gonna be another rough go round in the Bronx for him.

And that’s without dealing with me. I was prepared to let him leave and start the “healing process” for the both of us; I’d get over him and he’d move on and regain that killer instinct he once had [not to say that he’ll be made completely impotent at the bat if he stays in New York – I know he has it in him, it’ll just be harder]. But if he insists on staying then Godspeed.

I’m amended my original plan. The gingerbread roll will be made the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The office will most likely close early so I’ll be home with plenty of time to make it. Besides, I would like Lindsey to try it too even though she’s being mean to me right now and refuses to bring home Sprinkles cupcakes for me [or even make crepes while she’s here]. Plus I will be having lunch with Kayli on Saturday so that cuts my baking time. I can bust out the fudge no problem since I plan on getting to the hospital early in the morning [provided I wake up early].

My favorite show started again last night. That’s right folks, Project Runway is back. I completely forgot about it when I got home and just ate, showered and went straight to bed so if you caught it, don’t tell me what happened because I plan on watching it sometime this weekend. I adore Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn but I’m most excited about the bitchy twins, Michael Kors and Nina Garcia. Oh how I love their unabashed comments, even when I think they’re too harsh. They’re fabulous! I was amused to see Santino on The World’s Smartest Model [a.k.a. Lola’s favorite show]. I didn’t watch the episode but I did stop to see what he would do…and for the five minutes I did watch, not much but probably think he got stuck with the two biggest boobs in the world.

With the writer’s strike showing no signs of ending, I’ll be taking the opportunity to catch up on my reruns. I’m sad that the Office only has like, 1 more episode in the can before they’re forced to run reruns [or so I’ve heard] but that means that I’ll be able to catch up on Ugly Betty, which runs during my NBC block. I don’t have Tivo and I can’t remember to make it back to the ABC website to watch the show online [which is great because there’s hardly any commercials! So it only takes, like 40 some odd minutes to get through an entire show]. So I’ll be able to keep myself amused until this all plays out. Maybe I’ll Netflix the Gilmore Girls and catch up on the last few seasons! Or I can figure out more flavors. I’ve got my personal entertainment covered fairly well. Plus, I always have Cartoon Network. All of those shows are reruns anyway so no interference from the strike.