16 July, 2009
The Cubs are in town. This year they are here for four whole games, which is a lot to attend (two is no problem, three is a bit much). I haven’t done four in a while. OTOH, 3/4 of them are at night, which is not true for weekend four-game series in Wrigley. So I got that going for me. Less heatstroke.
I don’t buy tix in advance in DC. I show up, decide how much to spend, and spend it. It feels so reckless to show up without tickets! It’s not, of course, considering that the Nats are suck and DC does not give a rat’s ass about baseball and the only sellout ever was one of the nights when the Red Sox were in town. But to Cubs fans, who need to secure their tickets over the winter, it is bizarre.
Since DC thoughtfully acquired an NL baseball team before I relocated here, I can mark my DC time by Cubs series. In 2006, I had gone to Chicago for Opening Weekend, and my friend and fellow Cub sufferer Jake came to DC for their series in July. We went to all three, I think…two at least. My strongest memory of those games is that the Cubs sucked. I took my favorite “agony of defeat” photo:
hee hee! God, I love that photo. It actually made me feel better to look at it last fall when…well, you know. (and if you don’t, look back a few posts on the blog.)
I don’t remember 2007 too well, I didn’t make it to many games that year. It was the Nats’ last year in RFK, that I do recall. On July 4, I went down for a last-minute ticket and happened to run into my friend the LA native and Dodgers fan. DC is like that–go out relatively often and be relatively social and you will see people you know everywhere.
2008 was memorable in many ways:
1) I made a “baseball friend” a week or so before the series. She was selling me shoes and happened to have a team bracelet on, which began a conversation, etc. Our chats helped me psych myself up for the series.
2) After a game I ran into Len Kasper and Bob Brenly in the Metro. They didn’t want to wait for the bus, they said, because “the guys take forever in the showers.” (In case you are wondering, the team stays at the Mayflower Hotel.) I thought of something intelligent to say to them about 10 minutes later.
3) What with ballpark food and tickets, I had budgeted myself a pile of cash for the weekend, and on Sunday found myself with a lot left over. Hmm…why save what you can spend? I bought myself nice seats right next to the visitors dugout.
So all in all, last year set a high bar for Cubs series awesomeness. My materialist goals for this year are:
–Have Carlos Zambrano sign my hat.
–Have Aramis Ramirez sign something. My hat? My Ramirez jersey? Not sure…
–Spring for awesome seats again at least once.
But it’s the intangibles that count, and in that department I am already on track. Tonight: I bought good seats in my favorite area and jumped to even better seats in said area. I was surrounded by the best kind of fans: knowledgeable enough to respect the other team, chatty but not overbearing, and hilarious. The Cubs won handily, D-Lee hit a nice home run right to our area of right field. And on the way home, despite us leaving at different times and taking different trains, I ran into the same fans! DC is like that. We had a lovely chat about the Nats’ patheticness (too easy a target), the President’s skill in sports picks, and general Chicago baseball fandom–they had grown up as near Comiskey as I had near Wrigley. (They weren’t the hating kind of Sox fans, but there was something odd about them. “I’m a Sox fan,” one said, “but I root for the Cubs when they’re in the playoffs.” …huh?)
OK…better get to bed, I have a long evening of baseball tomorrow.
5 October, 2008
What’s there to say, really?
…hmm, a lot, actually. I’ll spare you the 2003 reminiscing and just ask my question. Someone, please, answer me.
So in ’03, we choked in Game 6, big time. GAME 6…of a SEVEN GAME SERIES. What stopped us from winning Game 7? No, seriously. WHAT? I still don’t really know. “Because we’re the Cubs,” blah blah blah, spare me. That’s not an answer. WHAT. STOPPED. US?
2008. October 1. OK, Dempster got in a spot…in GAME 1. We fell behind and got demoralized. IN GAME ONE. HELLO! 4 MORE GAMES TO PLAY! What was stopping this team, the best Cubs team in my memory and my father’s memory and his father’s memory, from just, you know, PLAYING? Believing in themselves? I’m serious, WHAT? Can someone please tell me?
You know, though? Here is the even more real question. Was it the same thing? In 2003 and 2008? Who cares, losing is losing, you say. I disagree. The answer matters, and I’ll tell you why. 2003 was a gift. Everything came together in that lucky once-in-a-blue-moon way, and it was magical, and it woulda been magical if we’d gone all the way, but something happened. In immediate hindsight the Game 6 choke seemed easily explained: lack of playoff experience, lack of big-game experience, tripped players up. And as chokes do, it spread, in a series of bad decisions and bad luck and Golden Glovers misplaying ground balls and coaches not taking out finished pitchers and spazzy outfielders and ugh, ugh!
Sorry. Note, though: the failure was contained. Contained within the game–the NLDS was thrillingly fought, the NLCS until that point was also. If you like, you can further argue that the failure due to inexperience was contained, within the season. It didn’t say anything about the Cubs as a franchise, despite what people thought. It was just a year. Disappointing sure, but it was just what sometimes happens to teams that improbably fight their way to the playoffs. The Marlins did the same, and just got a little farther. It happens–that’s why we have a postseason at all. Right?
2008? This year was different. THIS YEAR WAS DIFFERENT. We were plain good. We clinched over a week before the end of the season. Best NL record. Most runs in NL. God knows how many other bests, firsts, best since’s; I’m bad at keeping track of that stuff. But it was a Cubs team like none of us have ever seen. And that team just didn’t fucking show up for the most important series of the season. Here’s what freaks me out, here’s what kept me up last night: if THIS team couldn’t pull it off, what Cub team can? How good do we have to be to make this happen?
(Maybe making it happen isn’t about being good. Maybe it was too easy. Maybe you need to fight all the way, like in ’03. ?)
Here is the emotional doublethink that defines my Cub fandom*. Deep down I have a core of hope and belief that they can do it. But I also have a core of doubt and resignation to loss. And I never know which one is deeper. Which is the core of which? I can’t tell. Maybe I should call it doublefeel.
*Maybe it’s everyone’s fandom, for all teams. But I don’t remember feeling this way about the 1990s Bulls and I doubt Yankee fans feel this way.
Maybe that’s the difference between 2003 and 2008. I was at the 2003 NLCS Game 7. Not 24 hours after the Game 6 choke, I made and carried a sign to the park that said just “I BELIEVE”. Why COULDN’T we win? WHY NOT come back from a bad game? That was the day before! That’s why it’s not a one-game playoff, the postseason, because a bad inning, an off day, can happen anytime. I believed. But that was the heart speaking. In my head, I could see us being outplayed, in slow motion. You knew that a debacle like that wouldn’t happen to the Marlins. And, doublefeel-wise, when the loss finally came, it felt both shocking and inevitable.
This year was the other way around. Rationality was on the side of optimism. For once, for ONCE, we were just that good. Look at the numbers! But you can’t turn off that emotional side that is keeping you on the edge of cynicism and defeat.
So this is mostly just shocking. No, really. “Durr, it’s the Cubs, what do you expect” people will say. Well, I’ll tell you. More. I expect more. Because it’s expecting less that makes people think jokes about lovable losers are acceptable. This looked to be the year we left all that bullshit behind.
OK, you know? I was feeling maudlin. I couldn’t get to sleep last night til 2:30 (apparently neither could Mark DeRosa). Today, I had listened to the Steve Goodman song I linked to up there, I sat down to write this, catharsis, etc…and now I’m just pissed. This year WAS different, goddamnit.
Postscript: As usual, Al says it better. Wanting it too much…is it that simple?
5 April, 2008
Damnit, you can’t read that at all can you. What it says is: at one location, you can get a plain ol’ hot dog, a “Nats dog value pack,” a Hebrew National, AND a Ben’s half smoke with chili. That’s right, no need to stand in line at the one Ben’s stand in LF. And hilariously, NOT ONLY are these “Nats Dogs” badged stands everywhere, there is one AROUND THE CORNER from the Ben’s stand.
Lotsa snapshots of the stadium coming up. I am so psyched.
27 January, 2008
Faboo Cubs blog Bleed Cubbie Blue is whiling away the dark winter of the baseball fan’s soul (19 days left!) by counting down the top 20 Cubs home runs. Here is BCB Al’s number 18, a dinger I remember very well. You can find my stories about it in the comment thread for his post (search the page for techne). Non-baseball-y readers can click through to this picture’s flickr page for a shorter, less technical version. (Note to all: “Twitchy” is Sammy Sosa.)
In this photo Jake (l), Paulo (r), and I are sporting rally caps, a baseball technique. Some background: there’s a lot of superstitions in baseball, and one large subset of the superstitions involves changing or not changing things. You don’t change things if you are streaking–eat the same meal, sit in the same place on the plane, shave or don’t shave, do what my die-hard Cub fan middle school math teacher did during the 1989 playoff race and don’t change your socks. Likewise, if you are slumping, you need a slump-buster of some kind, from dietary to sartorial to, er, sexual.
This is the theoretical basis of the rally cap. Is your team behind? Do you need a rally? Clearly, what you have been doing in the game thus far is not working. So you mix it up and wear your cap backwards and inside out. Laugh all you like, but look at the picture and read the post/comment, people: rally caps WORK!
“But Techne,” you say, “I am still skeptical. And you are just a fan, anyway, shouldn’t it be players who would have to wear rally caps?” OK, smartass. You want more evidence? Listen to this! An internet (Wikipedia) tells us of two situations where players allegedly used rally caps:
- New York Mets, 1986 World Series
- Detroit Tigers, 1945 World Series
15 April, 2007
So today Major League Baseball celebrates the 60th anniversary of its integration. If you don’t know the story, yet would like to call yourself an American, go read about it ASAP.
At the 50-year mark, MLB retired the number 42 for all teams, but apparently Ken Griffey Jr. had the idea for players to honor Robinson today by wearing 42. The idea has spread around the league and morphed into either “one dude on your team wears the number,” “a few dudes on your team wear the number,” or everyone on your team wears the number.” Personally, I prefer the last of these options, and think the position stated by the Twins’ Torii Hunter in the article — that it somehow dilutes the tribute to have too many people wear the number — is ridiculous. If only one or a few players get to wear #42, it’s then about those players — but it should be about Robinson himself. Here’s a shout-out to the teams that are all wearing #42 today:
Astros: All players
Brewers: All players
Cardinals: All players
Dodgers: All players
Phillies: All players
Pirates: All players
(Ahem. All National league, thankyouverymuch.)
I’m glad I don’t have tickets to any such games, because seeing 18 or 22 guys (if the coaches wear it too) all wearing #42 would make me ridiculously choked up. Things DO change here. Just ask Don Imus. Call me an idealist and/or a moderate, but it’s nice to pause every now and then from the struggle and take a measure of how far we HAVE come. Yeah, I know the changes are incremental (“with all deliberate speed”), often oddly motivated (women and the Civil Rights Act of 1964), and often have harmful unintended consequences (affirmative action and black students’ self-confidence). But as a member of a group that benefitted from the last century’s civil rights advances, it’s my opinion that one should take what one can get and turn it to one’s advantage, even if the motives of the givers are suspect. Half a loaf, and all that.
One suggestion I heard last season sometime about what to do with #42 is to begin a Jackie Robinson award for…I dunno how to phrase it, some sort of public antidiscrimination service/work undertaken by a baseball player or coach. It needn’t be awarded every year, just when the league/voters felt someone deserved it. Said person would get the honor of wearing 42 for the year. As nice as a day of remembrance like today is, that seems a deeper one: a daily reminder of the debt we owe to those who came before. Of course I’m also the person who thinks the DC baseball team should have been named after a Negro League team. But I guess more influential folks feel that systematic racism wasn’t SOOOOO bad of a sin that we need to be reminded of it every freaking DAY.
(OTOH, perhaps such measures would fade into the background. Hmm.)
Here’s an even more community-minded idea for honoring Robinson, from Forbes magazine. Maybe the league could honor the player who gave the most money to this fund with the right to wear #42. Even more interestingly, they could honor the player who gives the highest percentage of his salary, which would give a better chance for a younger player still under salary caps to give back and get recognition.
1 August, 2006
A year ago this week, I was packing my Chicago life. A year ago next week, I was starting my DC life. Not sure how to celebrate this yet. Since finishing my degree I’ve never been so busy, and there’s no end in sight. Oddly, realizing this — that I have no experience having this much responsibility — has made it easier to handle.
And that’s why no posts, these last two weeks have not given me the chance. And when I do I have little to say that seems of interest. Maybe it’s time to go more photoblog — I’ve been feeling good photo-wise lately, although it may all be because two weeks ago I took what instantly became my most popular picture ever. Someone actually managed to cheer me up from an 11-hour day of science and heat exhaustion simply by mentioning it.
Oh and in other obsession news, the Cubs totally kicked Cardinal ass this weekend. Another sweep, like the one I saw in April but better because it was a 4-game series and weirder because in the real world of baseball it’s the Cubs who suck and the Cardinals who are good. Hey, I will take the weekend of endorphins any ol’ way, thanks, and you’ll do well to not remind me that Maddux got traded to the Dodger.
How about some kid stuff? That’s for sure an obsession after a weekend with them. Here’s some advice from my nephew D. We went bowling yesterday (god, was it only yesterday? I was up at 5 today to fly back and am putting a full day in at the moment). D. and I were chatting in the car on the way over in that “I’m-almost-10-times-your-age” way that one chats with kids. I forget the topic. Whatever it was about it had nothing to do with bowling. “We’re here!” called his mom as we pulled into the parking lot. “Yay! We’re here!!” said D. Then, he pointed at me and said very sternly, “And DON’T EAT THE BOWLING BALLS!”
The extended form of the rule is: I cannot eat bowling balls, or I’ll turn into a, a, a, a bubble, er, a bubble gum man. No not a bubble gum WOMAN, bubble gum MAN, and and and I’ll *pop*! and be dead, so don’t do it. I might also turn into a bowling ball. As those of you who know 3 year olds know, in this are the seeds of a great way to drive them crazy all day, as you pretend to eat bowling balls in front of them, or to be a bubble and blow up, or ask if you can eat cars, or guitars, or the man from Mars. That answer was no, you can only eat food, but later that day we had Mexican for dinner, and I was told if I ate a tortilla, I will turn into a tortilla, and they will eat me and then I’ll be dead. Even though it’s food! What’s an aunt to do?!? “It’s OK, you can eat it,” says his older sister J. reassuringly. “You can just come back to life.”
A clinician labmate described psychosis to me recently, in minute detail. Talking to children can really be bizarrely similar.
(Not the funniest kid-ism ever, but it cracked me up. D. is very much the vehicle-obsessed type of little boy. Although he’s moving onto dinosaurs now, his first love, the ambiance, will always have his heart:
We taught J. how to leave voicemail messages. I think it opened up a whole new world of phone fun to her. Right now at home I have waiting for me a message of her singing “twinkle twinkle” to my cats. I had to leave so early this AM I decided not to wake her up to say goodbye — mistake! She was … sad to have missed me. I understood the whole scene — the bursting into tears at the empty Aerobed, the incomprehensible sobs from which one can manage to pick out maybe “aunt” “bye” “left” between the gulps for breath, right down to Daddy making it all better (Mommy was taking me to the airport) — when I deplaned in Detroit and received this text message.
From: (J.’s Dad’s email addy)
Subject: Miss you already
Body: Hi (Techne), sorry I missed you this morning, I hope you have a safe trip. I really miss you already. There are a lot of itches on me, maybe they are from the sky. Maybe the bugs from the sky have itches like me. Maybe the trees have the itches too. I had a really fun time with you. Love J.
(I called in, the freak-out report was confirmed by Mommy who said she came home to J. sitting in her dad’s lap at the computer, gulping out “wan” “say” “bye” “one” “more” “time” “aunt” “techne”.)
I’m not so much with the biological clock (see above re responsibility; can barely feed MYSELF, yo) but being an aunt really suits me. It’s sad that all the kids I know are back in the Midwest. I have absolutely no kid outlet here (‘course I have a ton of things here I didn’t there, which we won’t get into.) At home, I am that friend who becomes honorary aunt to a slew of friend’s kids, and who at times prefers the kids’ company. Here, I take pictures of strangers’ kids on the bus to get a smile out of them. Sigh.
Exhibit 295 or so in “super-wide is the kid portrait lens” is below. D. is also showing us his tongue color, but has not yet realized that white popsicles don’t do fun things to your tongue.
3 July, 2006
In baseball, a player “hits the cycle” if he gets a single, double, triple, and a home run all in one game (in any order). All it formally means for the game is that someone got 4 hits, 6 extra bases and at least one RBI, but it’s rare and noteworthy if it happens, as a sort of interesting sideline. Even if it almost happens, as it almost did for Cubs 3rd baseman Aramis Ramirez on Saturday. (He missed the single, which is odd because it’s the easiest to get…usually the triple is the hardest one.)
I think in metaphors, so that’s the one that leaped to mind when I found out tonight that my Friday Metro musings ALSO got linked by Michael Grass over at the Express local blog log. And I thought, if there were a “cycle” for the DC blog-munity, what would it be? Might I propose:
Opinions? Maybe the Express is like hitting a home run (online only) vs. hitting a grand slam (The Blog Log graphic in the dead-tree version). Likewise, I nominate DCist as the equivalent of a triple since it doesn’t have an explicit “other blogs” roundup (although photographers have more chances to get on DCist than other bloggers. Maybe this is the equivalent of batting left-handed). (See what I mean about metaphor girl?)
I’m hanging with the parents in CT this weekend, where I haven’t visited since Thanksgiving. There are a lot of pictures to take, I tell you whut, and I haven’t even started on their house yet. For now, though, straight from the carnival to you via Rita with only the briefest of stops in a photo editor for format conversion, I humbly offer for your enjoyment: duckies.
29 June, 2006
My interest in the baseball season has been minimal this year. I’m finding it hard to follow a team that’s not “mine,” and I know no Nats fans whose energy I can feed off of to develop that interest. That’s basically how I became a real baseball fan a few years ago, after a history of weak and generalized rooting for the home team. I had spearheaded a family effort to get Cubs season tickets for my stepfather, who IS a life-long serious fan, and so was attending a lot more games than usual, being the partner of choice when my mom didn’t feel like sitting in 55-degree winds for hours at a time.
I thought I’d go to soooo many Nats games as a DC resident — it’s so much cheaper, for one, and a more casual vibe than I’m used to from Wrigley which really appeals to me. But I’ve only attended a handful. Partly this is because work got hot as the season started, but also, I’ve been more into taking pictures when I find myself at RFK. I’m still new enough to photography that I haven’t been to a whole lot of different types of space with my offboard mechano-electronic eye, and stadia are just dripping with subjects. I have a good-sized backlog even from the few games I HAVE attended.
The game at which I took these photos suffered from a series of rain delays, and — horrors! — I didn’t even stay to the end. Nats won tho. Which is more than I can say for my beloved Cubs, who have been stinking up the north side so badly I think I can smell from here. Yes yes, I know; there’s no need to leave “Of course they are stinking, they’re the Cubs!” comments. The unfortunate thing about them is, it’s sort of a wolf-crying situation in their bad years. Because of their rep it’s hard to tell what’s normal suckage and what’s burn-the-house-down-start-over suckage.
So it’s been tough to keep up lately. On the flip side, all praise the internets. At home, when I had the choice, I’d listen to games rather than watch them on TV (a topic on which I could post another several screens). Thanks to MLB Radio, I can do the exact same thing here. Come home from work, turn on the game, putter around doing chores and making dinner. I can listen on the laptop, quiet-like, or amuse my neighbors by plugging into the stereo. All that’s missing from the experience is the commercials and WGN station IDs. Lucky you, you might say, but this is actually a cloud inside a silver lining. No “hey hey, holy mackerel” song. No “everybody loves the Cubs” song — the first thing I hear is Pat’s “Chicago Cubs Baseball is on the air!” I miss the songs. I will admit this to you right here and now: I would often sing along to them. With feeling. There may or may not have been a little dance involved.
I even miss the incessant Old Style ads — I do! They were funny, the first few hundred times, and then after the first few thousand times they became funny again as you pondered just how many resources your brain had devoted to unconsciously memorizing every teeny tiny little detail of them. I could probably perform them for you, 2003-2005 regular season versions. I like the one about the guy who claims plague infection to go to the game (The boss’ “Feel better!” always sounds like “have fun storming the castle!” to me). I was even in one once — one of the playoff ones for 2003. I had a line, I think, in addition to my cheering-member-of-crowd duties, but my mom had a starring role. That one I don’t remember, understandably, but nevertheless ironically.
So, alas. No Old Style Guy for me. But! Inside THAT cloud is another silver lining, a pretty damn thick one too. They leave Pat and Ron’s mics live over the breaks, so instead of completely dead air, you hear all the sounds of the stadium. Cheering, PA announcements, the organ, that background hum that crowds of thousands of people generate…it’s really an awful lot like being there. It’s subtle — there’s just enough detail in it to elevate it above white noise. It just sits there in the background of my consciousness, being comforting. It was an unexpected discovery, and more than I’d hoped for from 700 miles away. Yep, thank you internets. MLB Radio is one of the better $15 I’ve spent on baseball. Thanks to it I can hear every last detail of the carnage that is the 2006 Cubs.
9 June, 2006
He Should Go Back to "Dude"
White guy: Nigga, please.
White girl: That's not okay. Don't say that.
White guy: Nigga, thank you?
What an interesting week it's been. The data has been pouring in to such a degree that yesterday, when we heard that a particular long-awaited chunk was finally ready, we all groaned "nooooo!" I've only been in the lab a year or so, but for the lab this is the culmination of years of work. Several disparate strains of work are coming together
all at once. And as the fellow I'm RIGHT IN IT. I've been at the lab until 9 or 10 every night–because I WANT to be, which is odd for me Things are also coming together for me as far as learning all the programs and analyses I need to know. I had been feeling bad because I hadn't really been on top of it, but this is why: I can only learn when I have actual data I care about to learn on.
It's been a decent photography week too. I rescued my gala pictures:
(Will you look at that hair? I only discovered this year that I had curly hair. It's been fun to play with–it has to be coaxed into it, but boy is it worth it.) (also this is my favorite dress ever, I think.)
I've also been pretty happy with my going-around-town sort of shots:
And this weekend promises to be teh awesome, as the flickrites descend on HonFest and Roller Derby. Yes, it's a Very Baltimore Weekend for me. Were I seeing the Orioles tonight instead of the Nats it would round it out nicely. But these should be a lot of fun to shoot. AND THE WEATHER IS STILL HOLDING! HALLELUJAH!
Well, off to it! Today my boss and I meet with BB to discuss our awesome data. We also met with another bigwig this week over his data which we are analyzing and it's supporting ours. And after the meeting on Monday I blogged about, these people know who I am, because I apparently made an impression at one point by talking about the work in terms of patients and how the results would help them. Let's all try not to think about why that would be such a memorable thing to talk about at these levels. (Well, OK, y'all know me….I was also gesticulating in full "I'm trying to convince you with my passion" mode. That's a fairly memorable thing, esp for bigwigs to have it done to them by a lowly fellow. But I've never been known for my ability to be inhibited by status when the true yardstick in the room ought to be ideas. And now they all know that.)
6 June, 2006
– DC LIFE I don't know what I did to deserve this amazing, fabulous, lovely perfect weather which would be nice even for a temperate city much less a Southern one. The summer misery is my only real problem with living in DC. (Well, that and disenfranchisement.) Even when it was hot last week I was not too upset, figuring I had had my lovely perfect spring and it was OK for summer to start now. So getting ANOTHER nice week….hell, I was CHILLY when I got home tonight. Chilly! In June in DC! Hallelujah!
– BASEBALL I've been neglecting one of my obsessions. Why? Because the Cubs had an incredible May…an incredibly BAD May. Their worst May ever and close to their worst month ever…they went 7 and 22, and they pretty much deserved it, too. It was painful even from here. Add that to the fact that I was out of town a lot in May and so couldn't get to any Nats games until Memorial Day — and that their month wasn't so hot either — and baseball's been on the back burner. I expect to be going more now that I'm in town for a few solid weeks. I have not even scored a game all year. I kinda miss it, I'm done with taking bad ballpark shots from my seats.
I do have a sorta-baseball story though, from my friend's wedding in MN. One night at a bar I found myself being wingmanned while a groomsman put the moves on a bridesmaid. Now, the wingmen were married, but had not told us this yet, instead preferring to go to their buddy's wedding alone and ringless and flirt with cute girls. When we found out, we were tres amused and almost started a side bet on how long they could go without mentioning their wives.
Anyway, the bar: I was bored but baseball was on the TV, which made up for it. Wingman and I watched the day's late games finish, and then the recap of the MLB day, all the while talking that nice relaxing baseball chatter. After a bit I found myself double-teamed (heh) as the baseball talk had lured Other Wingman away from his bridesmaid to join our convo. Blah blah, Dusty, Nomar, Barry Bonds (they were from LA)…after about 3 innings of this, the lured one exclaimed, "I don't get it! How is it that a cute baseball fan like you isn't married??"
I should have pointed out how a wife who talked baseball all the time might not be the boon he imagined, but I was laughing too hard. If I had a nickel for every married guy who's swooned over me cause of baseball….well that's about how cheap talk is, cause I'd still be single! Sheesh. I do not have this availability problem with fans of other sports. Maybe I just don't know other sports as well? (A few hours later, the wives got a shout-out, but the kids remained unmentioned.)
– PHOTOGRAPHY I would love to show you pictures of me at the high-class function I was getting ready for last Saturday when I posted. I took pictures of myself right before leaving with my SLR, and brought my p&s camera to the event itself. But the card from the small camera is showing up blank and the card from the big camera is flaking out because I was playing with shooting in RAW again for a few days, which for some reason is causing all kinds of odd behavior I've never before seen. I'll try photorescue tomorrow, but grr. Grr!!
– SCIENCE Remember my stressful presentation, which had to happen even though I was underprepared, and for which many bigwigs including my boss' boss (BB) showed up? Today was odd, because I got to see my PI go through the EXACT SAME THING.
PI has a massive presentation to give in two weeks. In 20 minutes he has to justify his last 5 years of funding and make a case for his next 5 years of funding. Today was the only day one colleague could attend a run-through, so he presented an early draft, and I think it's when he referred to its roughness that I started to see the similarities, because I had said almost the exact same thing. He availed himself far better than I did of course (he had all weekend to prep!) but still, it was disorienting to see him stand in the same spot I had stood in and have the same experience I had had — even in front of the same people. Yes, BB was there, as was Hilarious Iconoclastic Brit, Deceptively Quiet Guy, and a few other less colorful people.
It got even weirder when I realized that the process he was about to go through was JUST like a thesis defense. "Stand up in front of a critical panel of people senior to you, present the story of the last 5 years of your work in support of the document you submitted to them a bit ago, and defend your own value as a researcher; if we like what we hear and how you respond to our grilling, we will give you a cookie." He's an MD, the closest he's been to a defense was probably mine, a year ago, when he sat on my committee.
And I am right in the middle of this, my friends. Oh yes. We fellows will also appear before the board, to speak to his mentoring abilities. More directly though, we've been analyzing some data that just came in, along with some data which has been sitting around for a while, and damned if they don't point in the same direction. This is, er, not the norm for the field. So a lot of this very recent stuff is going in the presentation.
This has been a good science week, because I've finally figured out how to use the specialized, legacy, poorly documented and quirky software programs we use for analysis. Oh, and? The direction it's all pointing in? I called it months ago. "There is a smoking gun!" I said. "It's right there!" I said, pointing. "I'd bet the farm it's the XYZ gene!" I said, "although I am glad I don't have a farm to actually bet!" So the TOLD YA SO! song is going on in my head a lot lately. (Not that anyone argued with me, but they were scientifically, that is to say appropriately, skeptical.)
24 April, 2006
I've had them.
At home waiting to go pick up my sick cat from the local vet. This would be the vet that I used to hire an employee of to catsit, and once came home to two angry underfed cats and a bed that had been used as a litterbox for at least 4 days. Despite the litterbox 2 feet away from the bed, which she checked daily and DID notice was empty, she did NOT notice the ACTUAL location of the excreta, which makes me question not only her intelligence and vision but her sense of smell and her malicious tendencies. This extracurricular cat activity undoubtedly happened because she had been feeding them only half of what they were supposed to be getting. I'd probably shit on a bed too. Being a genius, I had already paid her (in my defense she had watched them before without incident). So I detest, mistrust and hate this vet, but in their column they are 3 blocks away. Curses, foiled by convenience again!
I'm at home still cause I'm procrastinating carrying my 15-pound cat (and a bag of prescription food) uphill those 3 blocks towards my apartment. I would just drive my CAR, but it developed a very exciting vacuum-leak-type problem on the drive home from errands in MD last night. Yay for manual transmissions, without which I'd probably have had a far worse weekend: the car only worked above 2000ish rpm, and would die if I tried to move from a stop at lower revs. Eventually I just adopted the starting-on-a-hill trick, and trained myself out of changing gears when I normally would. A little humorous that I'd need a solution like that after paying $3.25 a gallon.
Why's the cat at the vet? Because when I came home Friday night from a pleasant evening marred only by the L'Enfant Plaza Metro stop and the Cubs' shellacking by the Cards at the new Busch Stadium, the floors were covered in pee stains and the cat (Sue) was covered in pee. He was walking around, stopping every few steps to pee again, and being just successful enough to wreak havoc on my floors/carpet, but not successful enough to count as healthy. Luckily for me I have some familiarity with cat urinary problems — the OTHER cat developed them last March while I was writing my dissertation, which was really a far worse experience. So I knew that 1) if stuff was coming out at all, it wasn't an emergency and 2) I should be thanking my lucky stars that he was peeing on easily cleaned floors and not on beds, chairs or couches. Locked him in the bathroom for the night, canceled Saturday Flickr plans to take him to the vet, and spent the day scrubbing floors while listening to the Cubs get shellacked AGAIN.
After that things got better. Well, except for the car almost breaking down on Sunday. But at least Greg Maddux continued his hot streak with a win on Sunday, and we avoided a sweep. (His ERA is 0.99. He's fricking 40 years old!)
Oh wait! No things didn't get better! Because Sunday night, when I planned to go through the week's photos and post to flickr, I sat down to discover that a bunch had somehow vanished. My workflow is to dl them off the card, go through them in a preview application and delete the ones I don't at all want, and ul the rest into the editing app. The editing app has been running slowly so I'd just been dl'ing and doing the initial cull, and the plan on Sunday was to load into the editor all at once….but the saved pics were nowhere to be found. The ones I'd deleted were safe and sound in the trash, but the ones I wanted, from last Saturday until Tuesday? poof. (Thank goodness I had done the culling on the CF card from Wednesday night onward, so everything from the blogger meetup and the Falun Gong protest was still there.)
A photo that survived, from after the blogger meetup on Wednesday. I need a word for the pictures I take by accident that are nevertheless better than the ones I take consciously.
(I think the Falun Gong thing may deserve its own post. Stay tuned.)
So that happened.
This week betta go betta.
8 April, 2006
The squeeze play, when a runner breaks for home with the pitch and a batter must successfully execute a surprise bunt or the runner will easily make an out, is often called the most exciting play in baseball. I would not argue with that, although to be fair, nothing really hinged on this one, which came in the fourth with the Cubs already well in the lead; when people call it that, they're thinking of late-inning game-determining situations when a high-risk play can really pay off. Honestly, this time, it looked like Dusty called for it just because he could, and thought it'd be fun. And there is a history of LaRussa liking this play, and also of course a rivalry between our two clubs, so….
The bunt wasn't completely perfect–the play failed because the ball rolled foul (baseball novices, note that the pitcher is not going for the ball in the middle pic–he sees what it's about to do and is waiting to touch it until after it crosses the foul line). But Pierre then hit a single which scored Cedeno anyway. Oh, we like having Pierre on our side. I once saw him get two bases on the first three pitches of a game: when the Cubs hosted the Marlins on the Wednesday before my graduation last year, Pierre surprise bunted the first for a hit, and then promptly stole second. Cubs lost that one by, I think, two touchdowns.
…I had forgotten the setup, the Sun-Times sports page reminded me: Cedeno got a leadoff double his second at-bat (his first being an RBI triple thankyouverymuch), and after showing bunt, Maddux grounded out to the right side, which advanced Cedeno to third. Re baseball narratives, there are stories even within that, about Cedeno and Maddux and the kinds of players they are…but this is enough baseball rhapsody for one post, no?
8 April, 2006
Damn, was it ever cold….but it was a very enjoyable game. Exciting, and watching the Cubs outclass the Cardinals is a rare treat that I hope we're in for more of this year. They really played well, and got a good share of lucky breaks. The wind blew in, which helped Maddux (who easily got the win), and it messed with their fielders but not ours. With Pierre batting (boy is it nice to have a leadoff guy, esp one who can bunt for hits) Dusty called for a suicide squeeze — against a LaRussa team, haha! It got away from everyone and eventually rolled foul, but Cedeno scored before it did, so while it didn't count, there is some satisfaction to be felt over the play. "Neener," I believe is the appropriate term. Thanks to wolfhead, the heir to my family's season tickets, for taking me today, and to his hilarious dad for not insisting on his paternal rights to opening day seats!
Dusty and LaRussa shake hands during the Opening Day festivities.
Took a ton of pictures — had trouble getting in the groove at first, though. I've been anticipating shooting Wrigley for a long time, but also anticipating that when I'd actually get there I'd have trouble seeing shots because of all the baggage I was bringing. Lensbaby to the rescue (thanks dcjohn!). Using it did the trick of pushing me outside the familiar way of seeing things, and after that I had no trouble seeing cool stuff. I became crazy lens-changing girl, changing lenses all the time, trying to keep up with the ideas and the action. Good times. I missed keeping score, but only a little.
I did run into trouble though: I'm an idjit who didn't bring her spare battery to the game. Luckily, I had learned some tricks on our NYC blizzard weekend for extending battery life in cold weather (thanks f1.4 and epmd!). Despite hitting low battery levels before the game even started, I managed to squeeze shots out of Rita until the ushers kicked us out afterwards. Wolfhead let me use his new Nikon and its spiff-o-matic 24-120 if I desired (thanks again!). (I got some awesome action shots with it that I'll be posting later.) Also, I get a second chance: I'm going to Sunday's game, which will be a 7pm start (thanks noptys!). Hooray for a possible golden hour–it was bright and cloudy today, meaning pure white near-blown-out skies alla time. Not pretty for the panoramas I've been planning.
Yay Chicago! I'm staying at the apt I used to live in. I've had stuffed pizza, oh god, was it ever divine, fresh spinach from Edwardo's. I've had Julius Meinl, I miss that place a lot…Tryst is nice and all, but Meinl is more "mine." Seen old friends, seeing more tomorrow, sister arrived a bit ago….
So things are going as I hoped they would on this trip to the Midwest. I have not yet seen the Cubs bullpen blow a lead, but there's two more games this weekend for that! Looking forward to Big Z's start tomorrow.
6 April, 2006
No doubt about it!
Techne's on her way!
Going to Chicago this weekend for Opening Day at Wrigley! Damn will it ever be cold….but I'm looking forward to the game anyway. I'll be staying at the apt I used to live in. I'm gonna have stuffed pizza. I'm gonna have Julius Meinl. I'm gonna see my oldest friends and even family. I'm gonna see the Cubs bullpen blow an impressive lead. Oh, I'm ready. The shuttle leaves in an hour. As you can see I'm using my last hour at work wisely.
(I just realized I forgot my scorebook. Not my camera though, not even my 256MB CF card that lives in my p&s….)
1 April, 2006
It happened just as I thought it would, tonight at the Nats-Orioles exhibition game. Scorebook in hand, camera across torso with largest lens on: a configuration not sustainable, and more than faintly ridiculous. In fact, highly ridiculous. Which interest, each with its own incomprehensible-to-outsiders numeric code, will prevail?? The old? The new? The left brain? The right brain?
It was a rout. One completely stomped the other and carried the day. Here's the numbers that did it: 200*1.5, f/2.8. Hells yeah. The other didn't even put up a fight: Game #0, 9-12-0 vs 6-11-2. Yeah I wanna score that shit, what a great use of my time. Instead I caught a lot of deliveries, a few swings and a play at the plate. Flickr buddy bsivad is rule for dropping by and sharing his press pass-inspired largesse.
17 March, 2006
I usually send out emails, but I think this might be more efficient.
As an NIH employee I have access to some group tickets to Nats and Orioles games at very reasonable prices. Too many to list the dates, but the prices are $10.50-$26.50 for the Orioles games vs White Sox, Phillies (the two over-$20 games), Red Sox or Yankees and $14-$17.50 for nats games vs Orioles, Phillies, Yankees, Cubs or Cardinals. These are “lower level box seats.”
(As youse know I was going to try for season tickets, but there was not enough interest and I was assured by several peeps that they are not a necessity. So yay.)
Email me if any of this intrigues you (or if you don’t have my email addy and can’t find it through clever poking about, post a comment).
1 March, 2006
I don’t think I can swing being on this baseball team. I enjoy it, but I do NOT enjoy the hour of transit each way that it can take to get to and from practices/the batting cages. And once games start it’s going to be the same problem, they won’t be any closer in, if anything they’ll be farther. (I missed a practice on Sunday, and will miss a few nights this week too because the effort it’d take to make it to those things would/would have taken over my day.)
Two things I hate: having to spend time in the suburbs, and being stuck in a car when I don’t choose to be. Baseball combines both those things right now for not a whole lot of positive (it’s positive enough, but not earth-shatteringly awesome; the people I’ve met are not the types to become close friends, and it’s not quite enough to count as exercise).
Still, this really bums me out. I had to back out of a softball league in Chicago a few years ago and it didn’t feel very good either. It reminds me that I’m not the most dependable person, which is a suck thing to have thrown in your face–by your own actions, no less.
21 February, 2006
1) I went to Baltimore on Sunday for a photowalk with some flickrites. Now I own me three lenses, strictly speaking: the Rebel’s kit 18-55 EF-S, the Canon 50mm f/1.8, and a lensbaby (the “strictly speaking” . Basically from the minute I got the camera, the 50 has been on (with occasional lensbaby fun); I do a lot in low light and I avoid built-in flashes generally and it’s perfect for those things. One of my favorite shots with my new camera is still one I took that first night:
After using my A85, having control of depth of field and the ability to pull off low light without stabilizing the camera on something was a treat. I love how that picture’s focus is the hands holding the camera (not even the camera itself). That DOF (with the implicit knowledge that I had to have had a camera to MY face at the time too) achieves the creative goal of the picture for me.
But that’s a digression. I mention this because I figured that in Baltimore for a true “out and about” day, a zoom would be a good idea, 18-55 is a good range, it duplicates my 50 anyway, and it was so damn bright the lens’ slowish speed shouldn’t matter. But you know what? Not only is cheap glass usually cheap for a reason (which I had already heard about the 18-55, to be fair) but you don’t need to be doing this all that long or be all that picky a human being to be able to see the difference. I was surprised how soft everything was when I dl’d the day and started culling.
I think I’d been analogizing photography to aural-based hobbies (audiophilia, cars); it is often difficult for me to hear things that audiophiles/gearheads can easily hear, and I figured it’d take time for me to learn to see and judge lenses in the same way as more experienced people. Not so much. (I’ll grant you that you would be hard pressed to find a pair of lenses with a wider quality difference at their focal lengths, and that the 50mm is optically exceptional generally. Still: today I went around with a 17-40 f/4L, and I STILL NOTICE a sharpness difference.)
2) My hobbies — baseball, and now photography — are easier to do with contact lenses than glasses, so I went and got an exam today. All was well until the sun went down, and now I am seeing something I never saw before: in my right eye only, lights like stoplights and streetlights have a halo, which vanishes only as the source gets closer. Ah, I must have slightly the wrong prescription, thought I, and indeed the optometrist covered her bets by giving me two sizes for each eye to try out. But this is a new one on me after wearing contacts for 15 years. After just one year of wearing only glasses, I have a new appreciation for their better quality (for me at least, and when clean).
…And this is why I blog, because only as I was writing did I see the connection here. Glasses are at a fixed position and permit the eyes completely normal function and you get better acuity (or I do anyway), but they are cumbersome and only a small part of your visual field is covered by them. Contacts provide complete coverage and eliminate gadgetry that gets in the way of normal life, but at the cost of being in your eye’s personal space screwing up their function, even when they are working perfectly and not perceived by the wearer.
Hmm. Convenience vs quality. Contacts vs glasses. Zooms versus primes. Digital vs film. Blockbuster vs. local video store. Macy’s vs Marshall Fields/Hecht’s. It’s a theme in this blog, isn’t it?
3) Walking around today with an L lens on Rita (I picked a name for my camera, did I tell youse?) is totally a retread of my first week with Rita and how uncomfortable I was with such a big piece of equipment that nevertheless represented a lot of value in a small, non-palmable, non-pocketable package. I got over that right quick with the 50mm on, but this lens is 3 or so times bigger. And I have to remember that not everyone knows what a red stripe means.
4) I keep trying to push my glasses up my nose when my vision blurs. And then I feel like a dork.
5) I almost bought a 40-year-old, 150-page book about depth of field today. It was a bit more than I wanted to spend but I am attracted to the optic theory behind photographic lenses and this book had diagrams a gogo (I love diagrams!). (The bookstore also had 2 of the 3 Ansel Adams Photography books, of course not the one most relevant to digital photographers, the first one.) It’s a very me thing to do to study like that and use that very book-based knowledge to further my own empirical understanding. On the way back from NYC for example, we were discussing a lens f1.4 had tried out on his full-frame 5D at B&H, a softball-sized lens that was, IIRC, an 85mm f/1.2. Discussing how fricking WIDE the thing is, I thought: yeah, it makes sense, 1.2 is a ratio of the aperture to the focal length and if you need a 7cm aperture, that will necessitate a pretty damn wide lens opening. I was the least experienced person there but I think I was the only person to think along those lines, so clearly this kind of thinking has nothing to do with skill. It’s just there to make me the girl with all the annoying questions.
16 February, 2006
So, Sammy Sosa has refused to accept the Nationals’ offer of a chance at their roster and is (presumably) retiring. I have little love for the man — by the time I became serious about baseball, he was pretty much done, and more of a drag on the Cubs than anything else — but I wanted to direct my 2 readers who care about baseball to this lovely post by excellent Cubs blog Bleed Cubbie Blue about Sosa’s career.
Sure, I nicknamed him “Twitchy.” Sure, I dissed the man every time he came up. Sure, I complained loudly to all and sundry when he’d swing too early at three pitches in a row. But I cannot scoff at his slugging accomplishments — steroids don’t help you see better, and it’s judgment, not just strength, that makes a hitter good. That post sums up my “but what do you really think” opinion of Sosa. As far as I am concerned his tragic flaw was merely not handling his diminishing skills with grace.
Interestingly, BCB notes two head injuries that he thinks played a role in Sosa’s decline, and it’s a compelling argument. I didn’t know about the 2002 collision, but I hope never again to see a helmet shatter like Sosa’s did in that game in 2003. It was absolutely chilling to watch someone avoid death by centimeters for the sake of my entertainment.
This is what I love about sports, and what I never seem to be able to explain to non-fans. They ARE the human condition, simplified, with jerseys and logos and referees to blame and a finite end to each game. But all the emotions and struggle with self and others is there, just waiting for observers to use it in an onion of metaphor for anything they need. When I take a person new to baseball to their first game, I get tongue-tied about where to start: the history of the club, what this season means to them, how it’s going? their relationship with the particular opponent, what kind of month they are having and why? Where the game fits in the pennant race, where the teams fit in the league? Each player, where he is in his career, how he’s doing this year or this month and what it means for his future? The (often surprisingly many) ways in which the game/team/moment intersects with the wider world? There are more stories than I can wrap my head around, much less explain, and that’s before the purely techne-cal joy I get out of the game itself: understanding how it’s played and judged, participating by scoring it and predicting it as it happens.
(That’s plenty for now, be assured there WILL be more of this sort of musing as baseball season progresses…)
8 February, 2006
One day last spring, I was in a field box singleton seat at Wrigley on a beautiful weekday afternoon. An older gentleman took a shine to me (the scorebook impresses ‘em) and we chatted a bit. Then he gestured at my book and Cubs hat and asked, “So, who did this to you?”
Hello everyone. My name is techne, and I’m addicted to baseball.
Funny how baseball withdrawal gets worse throughout the winter, not better as a real withdrawal would. I think it’s because the bad memories of the last season fade and are replaced by that spring hope…
Saw the Panthers crush the Capitals tonight, which despite the outcome was a good time, the company being good and the experience being novel. It was my first pro non-baseball sporting event in…um…wow. Ever?
1 February, 2006
ARGH!! I typed half of this post, and lost it pre-save. Figures, esp since it was about the frustrations I’ve hit this week with two of my current interests, baseball and photography.
baseball first–more positive. It was so unbelievably beautiful on Saturday–a perfect day for my first outdoor practice. It was me, my team’s organizer/coach, the guy she is friends with who coaches another team, and a woman from that team, who has coached herself. Started at the tee where I felt pretty much OK about how my swing is coming along. Then the guy got a fungo bat and me and the other player went to the outfield to shag flies. This was the first time they’d seen me in the field and I was DETERMINED to be as perfect as possible on fielding fundamentals, figuring that unlike throwing and hitting this would be the same between baseball and softball. And that’s just how it happened, my friends. I fielded all but the toughest stuff. I got a few beautiful grabs (nothing like catching a line drive to impress everyone, even if they should know better–it’s the easiest thing in the world, but looks SO DAMN awesome.) When he hit me a few grounders, I took a deep breath, reminded myself I had no runner to beat and to take my time, and set up far back to give myself time to scoop it up as cleanly as possible. (One thing I was NOT GOING TO DO is have a ball go through my legs in my first practice.) I could hear my aunt shouting from 22 years ago about the importance of fundamentals at every level of play.
My throwing, though. UGH. I wish I knew what I was doing wrong. I totally throw like a girl and can’t figure out what has changed from what I used to do, and how it’s supposed to feel. At one point, the three of them stood around and we had an intensive all-me-focused throwing lesson where every motion I took was analyzed and constructive-criticized. It was useful and next time I’ll find I’ve internalized a lot of that (as happened with my batting). It should have felt awful, though. I should have been nervous, felt incompetent and klutzy. But, as my social-life persona has changed here in DC (bars? talking to strangers? dating? my Chicago friends barely believe my stories), my physical self-image needs updating to jive with how others see me. They look at me and see someone lithe and fast and flexible and athletic, and figure my bad throwing is just something I’ll learn, not some reflection of how crappy I am at learning things. They were so patient with me. None of the frustration with me that I remembered from past coaches, which would make me so much more nervous and so much less competent. If not for that I’d likely have quit by now in the face of all the new things that I suck at.
On the “I can’t believe that’s how people see me now” tip: at one point I threw the ball in, and asked the other people in the field for feedback on what was wrong with thatthrow (as I’d been doing each time). Nothing, they said; just underpowered. Then the coach yelled “Next time, put all 103 pounds into it!” !!! a skinny joke? Me?? I had to laugh. On the next throw, which I whipped the fuck out of, I yelled back “I’ll have you know, I weigh 1*10* pounds!!” ha ha ha. (actually 140. Which I haven’t weighed since I was 17.)
Going for a far-to-my-right bouncer, I got hit in the right hand. I so wish the bruise were photographable, at the time you could see where the SEAMS had made their impression. hehe! And I’d thought that my nice-bruise days were over now that I’m not playing rugby anymore…
15 January, 2006
…or let’s hope, anyway.
There’s a women’s baseball league in Montgomery County, which borders DC. I’d been to the batting cages once with its coach S. and a few other players, all more experienced, and learned that not only do I seemingly lose all ability to throw a ball in a straight line when it’s 3 inches smaller in circumference, but everything I ever knew about hitting mechanics is wrong. It was an ego hit to say the least, although I did get called “athletic” (pause for laughter of years of gym teachers) and a quick learner.
Well apparently it’s not a joke, cause I went back today, having practiced not at all since before Christmas. This time instead of ad-hoc instruction I got a full session with a more experienced baseball dude and learned the swing and the throwing motion from scratch. We started at the tee, threw some, and finished up in the cages, where I got “remember to (do thing I learned an hour ago)” at first, but by the end was pretty much only getting “watch the ball as it hits the bat” (which coaches have been telling me for nigh on 20 years). I consider this progress and was feeling very good about how it was all coming together.
I wish I could feel as good about throwing. I’ve been throwing softballs for, again, 20 years, and thought I knew what I was doing. How could baseball be that different? But it is. Apparently one does not cock and then snap one’s wrist, as I was sooo carefully taught year after year in softball practices. That change changes the arm’s trajectory and results in me throwing shit into the WALL instead of in a straight line. Then I get gunshy and get told to throw harder. argh! Of course, one problem may be the space we’re using which is about 8 feet wide and 60 feet long. I know I’ll be more accurate outside. At the end, I was so pissed off at how hard this previously instinctual thing had become, I picked up the ball and whipped it against the back wall as hard as possible a few times without thinking about mechanics at all, just to have the feeling of a happy throw in my arm. Worked, but I wish I could figure this out.
HOWEVER. The best part was when S. was practicing her pitching. I got to stand in the batter’s box and just….look. The pro was catching her and we talked the whole time. He had me judge each pitch when it was 10 feet in front of the plate, show him where the ball had crossed the plate, we worked a few counts….basically it was the session I’d been waiting for for, yes, 20 years. I was never known for my eye (pause for laughter of old coaches) and would panic when batting and pray for walks. Back then I couldn’t judge stuff below my waist to save my life, which is half the softball strike zone and 2/3 the baseball zone. I knew my eye just needed training and feedback, and today it got as much as possible. (I have a new problem now–I see the ball a foot higher than it really is, likely because baseballs are dropping as they come in and softballs are rising. Totally screws me on the high stuff, which I already could never lay off….) I couldn’t IMAGINE a more useful exercise for myself. And it was lots of fun to put my three years of intently watching and studying baseball to direct use in working counts!
I also learned that you can “oil” your glove with shaving cream. That should be fun!
10 January, 2006
Corey Patterson has been traded to Baltimore.
He was interesting to watch. I was at the game that tore his ACL in 2003 (the opposing first baseman was being an ass and Patterson basically jumped over him, you knew things was bad before he even landed). And I was at god knows how many games where he underwhelmed in 2004 and 2005. If ever one needed convincing that skill in sports is strongly dependent on mental outlook, Patterson’s Cub tenure was exhibit A. I could relate to him in that way; when I played team sports, I would often follow up brilliant moves with bonehead moves. But I wasn’t getting paid.
He’s also an example of how talent can be a curse. He got to the majors on his tools, but never learned to hit with his mind AND his body (the batting equivalent of the pitcher/thrower difference), and he couldn’t really get sent back down for seasoning. I have hoped for years that he’d get traded to some team where the pressure’d be off him, I think he could really get good in a noninsane baseball town. And away from Dusty will probably help too (although I know nothing about the Orioles’ manager). I’m still a teeny bit bummed about the waste of Hee Seop Choi. Loved that guy.
In completely unrelated news I just heard a great band name (Fungible Blatanality) and a great name for a coffeeshop (Sufficient Grounds). (This is what happens when I multitask while writing blog posts.)