Sports

Baseball and the BFF

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Safeco Field, Home of the Seattle Mariners, Seattle WA

Do you have one of those people in your life that yo just connect with? Someone who knows what you’re thinking without having to voice it? A friend that you can not see for an extended period of time, but when you’re together you pick up right where you left off as though you were never apart? I hope you do! Because IT.IS.AWESOME.

So, one way I like to celebrate is to take in some baseball. I don’t usually get a chance to actually go to a park during the weekend (usually it is on the radio while I work in the yard) so this was a nice change for once. AND, to top it all off, my best friend was there too! So, it was a weekend of record!

First, let me tell you about my best friend, since that is really who this is all about. We have been friends since we were 7 or 8, not really sure but it has been for a long time (considering we are both 46). We love sports, we love food, we love hanging out together and talking about stuff. He is one of those friends that you can tell anything to and not feel judged and he is one of those friends that you can not see for a long time but when you do it feels like you didn’t miss a beat and you pick up right where you left off. He moved across the state when we were in high school but we stayed in touch and now we meet a couple times a year for baseball games in Seattle. We make a weekend of it since travel is easier to do it all at once rather than many little trips. Anyway, he has been a constant in my life and I love him dearly. He is just like a brother, only better! LOL

The first game, Friday night was fun. The Mariners won a one run game and we saw James Paxton pitch (he threw a no hitter in Toronto not too long ago). We spent the evening getting caught back up and enjoying the evening. The second game was more epic than the first.

Game two, Saturday night, started with early entry into Safeco Field. We get tickets from

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(People you can see, L to R: Daniel Vogelbach, Nelson Cruz, Ichiro, Ben Gamel, Mitch Haniger

a season ticket holder who splits them out so it was one of those occasions where season ticket holders get to enter the park and hour before the regular gates open. That means there are very few people in the park and it gives the possibility of interacting with the team. So, down to the field we went. We watched the team go through their stretches and warm up. Nearly all the starts were there (except Robinson Cano since he got suspended for PEDs). But otherwise, we were real close to the action.

Then came batting practice. Now, one thing we always try to do is get there early enough to see batting practice and hope to catch a ball hit off the bat of someone. I could be anyone, we don’t care! Mostly because it is just something that doesn’t happen and when you are a baseball fan, it is just something that is fun to participate in. So, our regular seats are a the top of the wall in right field but we decided not to go there and instead try for the first base line, near the foul pole in right field…basically to get balls that guys hit foul but just barely. It really is a guessing game because when you watch there always seems to be a part of the park that the teams hit the ball the most and it always seems to be where we have chosen NOT to stand and watch. It is crazy how it seems to work that way.

IMG_4705Mariners legend, Ichiro (#51) was participating in the full pregame workout, so he was in right field chasing down fly balls, line drives, and foul balls. You know, shagging balls like all the other guys on the team during batting practice. On Saturday, he was running to catch a fly ball and it was straight at me as I stood in the stands above him. As he caught the ball I yelled his name, “ICHIRO!” and held up my open glove (yes, I still take it to the park). He looked up, running at full speed, but not at me. He was looking right at my best friend and I am thinking, He is gonna get this ball from Ichiro! Only, instead of flipping him the ball with an ever so slight underhand toss, he flipped it right to me. That sneaky fellow duped us both! I was so surprised, but it was really cool to have a team legend toss me a ball. (You’re probably thinking what a nerd…but it’s OK, I just love baseball and if you do too, then you understand). And, just for a moment, I was the envy of all the people around me. LOL

Anyway, game two got under way and the teams were battling it out. It was a good game that ended up going into extra innings. The Mariners ended up winning that one also, only in the 12th inning with a walk-off HR by Mike Zunino. It was an epic night!

Oh, I almost forgot to mention dinner! One of the great things about going to the ball park, at least at Safeco, is the ballpark food. You really can be a foodie and get good stuff there (despite the prices being stupidly high). So, of course there is the standard hot dog and a beer. I am not sure when I last had that ol’ favorite. So, I like to try new stuff. This time it was an ice cream sandwich, which we saw on Friday night as we were walking to our seats. We had to try it! So, we found the location in the stadium and built our own. (It is kind of the Coldstone-esque style where you tell them what you want and they build it for you.) So, for mine I had a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cookie, Toffee Coffee Chip ice cream, a chocolate brownie, and then everything dipped in Butterfinger and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup candy. Let me tell you, it was AWESOME, and it was only $8!! It was, however, more than I could eat so I didn’t finish it.

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All in all, it was a great couple of days. I love spending time with my best friend and it always go by too quickly. But, we always have a good time and we always look forward to the next time we are together.

Oh, one more thing…this weekend was Memorial Weekend, meaning we took time off from work to celebrate and remember the people who have fallen in the line of military service to protect the freedoms we all hold dearly (and probably take advantage of). I hope you took some time this weekend to pause and reflect on the lives that have been lost so that you (and many others around the world) might live free. They gave all and we owe them a debt of gratitude. God Bless America!

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Companies take a stand on what you think

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If a company can fire you over what you think or an opinion you hold, then wouldn’t they be able to NOT hire you as well?

Recent news of the Colin Kaepernick NOT being hired by teams (especially since there have been injuries to starting QBs) in the NFL because of his actions last season as a San Francisco 49ers  run along the same lines as those employees who are fired because they voiced their opinion, or even as a company decides to refuse your business because of what you believe. These are the same things, aren’t they? Well, that is not the case if you are the PC Police.

There are some who are decrying the fact that Kaepernick hasn’t been signed by a new team because of his actions taken during football games. He is being blackballed they claim. They say the owners want to send a message to football players (or if you really want sinister, the black players) because they don’t want people taking a stand and rocking the boat because it is bad for their brand, the NFL. Celebrities (if you want to call them that, I guess) are jumping on board to support poor Colin and demonstrate against the NFL.

There have been other recent instances where someone’s opinion or belief has caused them to face a backlash for standing up and expressing their opinion. You have a guy at Google who wrote about diversity at Google and he was fired by Google because of his opinion, which happens to create bad press for the company. Google says he violated their “Code of Conduct,” which he may have done. Then, there’s group of people who made reservations at Airbnb locations in Virginia who had their reservations cancelled because the company believes (or presumed) the people may be connected to the controversial “Unite the Right” rally. The Airbnb justifies the cancellations because they don’t support the reservation holders’ opinions or beliefs and it violates their “Community Commitment” terms of service.

Now, the two examples listed immediately above were probably met with cheers by most people because it would seem that justice was being done. I mean, who wouldn’t want a sexist guy at work fired because he creates a hostile work environment, not to mention it soils the image of the organization. Why would an organization want to allow people with offensive opinions or beliefs to be served by their organization or service? If they allowed this to happen they would, after all, be seen as aiding or approving of those offensive opinions and that would just be bad PR, right?

If the PC police have no problem allowing Google to fire a guy over his opinion and they have no problem with Airbnb canceling the reservations of customers with offensive opinions, then why do they question the right of the NFL owners to not hire a guy that they disagree with and would hurt their public image or their bottom line?

To me, these are in the same vein. Google took care of the problem after it occurred. Airbnb is trying to take care of the problem before it occurs. The NFL is trying to take care of the problem both after it occurred and before it occurs again. Why then the outrage?

Another example:

CNN can personality,

 

What do you think? Leave a comment below and let’s talk!

 

 

 

 

Let’s Review…

It is the end of the school year and things around here are pretty busy.

Graduation is only three days away and I am busy wrapping up the year (and high school careers) with seniors that I have seen nearly every day (save summer, of course) for two years. This time of year is hard, but I’ll endure. Then there are all the end of year things to be done and paperwork to fill out and classroom to clean and plans to be made for lesson planning over the summer. The list never ends.

So, in review, I don’t have much time to put something new out. BUT, there are some posts in the archive that might be worth your reading since you may not have been around when they were written. Take a look at these earlier post in my blogging life:

Eject “God Bless America” from Baseball

Pet Perturbed

 

Enjoy!

The Eternal Hope of Spring

How can one not love this time of year?  This time of the year brings forth all sorts of newness and spawns the eternal hope of renewal for so many things.  The eternal hope of Spring comes every year, but rarely lasts longer than a few months.  The joy of this season for me is almost uncontainable and I look forward to it with immense anticipation.  At times, hope swells beyond control and occasionally bubbles to the surface on my face or even in the sparkle of my eyes.  This Spring, nothing has changed.  I eagerly await that which I have yearned for since it last left.

For some, Spring means the chance to get out of doors.  Spring brings forth the desire to shed the confines of the abode and venture to new places, seeing new sites along the way.  The chance to attain mountain highs or the valley’s depths inspire many to don quickly packed clothing and devour hastily prepared snacks as they clamor towards a space of solitude amongst God’s great creation.  I, too, long for these spaces and, in the past, have heeded their call.  I have been fortunate enough to gander upon hidden wonders and soak up rays of sunshine as I traverse among the stately pines on the Northwest.  Again, these spaces are calling to me, but my eternal hope of Spring does not lie there.

For others, the eternal hope of Spring brings forth new growth.  As the sun warms the Earth and the falling rains soak the land, new life emerges from what appears to be death’s grip.  Naked trees begin to clothe themselves in green buds, seeking a rebirth of sorts.  Soon, bare soil comes to life with carpets of green and the grass coats vast valleys with its protective blanket.  Flowers begin their delicate lives from nothingness, it seems.  Suddenly they make their appearances everywhere, shining forth the joy they bring to so many.  Yes, this time of year brings new life and hope.  Nature reminds us that all is not lost and that we can start anew once more.  Again, I find joy in this part of Spring’s emergence.  I am awed at the struggle in which many partake to coax their yard’s landscape to be revitalized.  Can they make the lawn lavishly lush again?  Can they control the warrior weeds?  Will the flowers flounder or flourish?  Yet, while these struggles are calling, my eternal hope of Spring does not lie here.

For still others, Spring brings new and budding romance.  The hope of emerging nature and silent solitude is overrun with fluttering hearts and heals over heads.  Much like the reminders of that which comes with this Spring, we are reminded that companionship is what all humans clamor for.  Shared experiences are better than those of loneliness.  The romance of the season lurks under the surface, waiting to be released.  For those lucky enough to find it, smiles and laughter are intertwined with moments of tenderness such as holding hands, hugs, and kisses.  Sun provides the warmth for the earth, but romance supplies warmth for the heart.  As I have experienced these times in the past, I treasured them for I knew they may only be fleeting moments; however, my eternal hope of Spring does not lie there either.

My eternal hope of Spring lies, like so many other sports fans, with the “Boys of Summer.”  My eternal hope comes with the reporting of pitchers and catchers to warmer climes such as Florida and Arizona.  My eternal hope springs forth as the snap of the glove and the knock of the bat are heard once again.  My eternal hope rises to the surface as anticipation of a new season, a new year, a new chance comes.  For me, Spring is the re-emergence of the greatest sport known to man.  No games have been played and everyone has an equal chance at immortality.  The off-season has come to a close and soon dusty diamonds all over the world will once again ring with the laughter of children learning the game.  Fields of dreams will come alive, daring men to dance upon them.  Fans will gather in homes, in stands, in stadiums to witness delightful deeds of the diamond or witness foolish field follies.  We will yell at men in blue and at televisions as though it will make a difference, believing in “our” team once again.   The eternal hope of Spring gives me and all other fans the chance to dream once more that our team will stand alone in October.  Champions!

The real eternal hope of Spring is . . . baseball.

Eject “God Bless America” from Baseball.

Fireworks are launched during the national anthem. The Seattle Mariners defeated the Houston Astros 3-0 during Opening Day at Safeco Field Monday April 8, 2013. Photo by Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

I hope I don’t come off sounding too unpatriotic for this, but I hate “God Bless America” at the ballpark, or any other sporting event for that matter. It doesn’t belong there any longer, and it most definitely doesn’t deserve the same respect. It had its place and time, but that time has gone and it is now time to send it to the showers. I am patriotic. I love my country. I love the flag. Perhaps that is why I can’t stand this seventh inning disrespect.

My last visit to the ballpark this summer on a Sunday afternoon in Seattle found me rising for the traditional singing of the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” I love this part of the game. I love this part of tradition and I believe that all sporting contests should start this way. And, why not play it before a baseball game? After all, baseball may have started the tradition in the first place, though not at the beginning of the game but during the seventh inning stretch. According to an article I found on ESPN.com, “The Song Remains the Same,” Game 1 of the World Series between the Cubs and the Red Sox in 1918 would establish its place in the sport. Eventually it would be moved from the seventh to the pre-game festivities, as an opening of the contest. I think we can all agree that it belongs there. It belongs there because sporting contests are often referred to as “battles” so the connection to armed conflict isn’t too big a stretch, especially since the origins of the song are centered directly there.

I very much appreciate the significance of the national anthem. I teach American History, Contemporary Issues, and Civics so I know the story well. The song was written by Francis Scott Key to commemorate the battle at Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. This part of the story is what makes the national anthem great – Key saw the American flag flying over the fort after an intense battle and knew that American forces had endured; that America would endure. These facts are set in history. It is also set in history that President Wilson recognized the song for official use in 1916 and it was adopted as the national anthem in 1931 by a congressional resolution and signed into law by President Hoover.

Typical protocol for the national anthem is as follows: when the flag comes onto the field, all stand and face the flag, take off their hats (if they’re men), put their hand or hat over their heart (military personnel in or out of uniform salute), and stand respectfully (quiet and still) while the anthem is played. One part that people often forget is that they should continue this respect until the flag has left the field. This is the proper way to honor the symbol of our nation, one that men and women throughout our history have fought and died for – protecting our own liberties or those in need of some.

The seventh inning stretch gets my American blood boiling. The public address announcer says something to the effect of, “Please rise and remove your hats for the singing of ‘God Bless America’.” What happens? Nearly everyone stands and removes their hats for the singing. However, I DO NOT AND NEVER WILL. I don’t care if I get “the look” from others. I don’t care if people think I am being disrespectful. I sit in my seat, talk, eat, I don’t remove my hat and generally just go about my business as I normally would during the seventh inning stretch. I am not trying to be obstinate or overly obtuse.

Wikipedia tells me “God Bless America” was inserted into our national pastime as a display of solidarity against the tragedy of 9/11. The Padres, in a show of sensitivity to our collective beat down, first thought about removing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” baseball’s anthem, and inserting the familiar tune. But that tradition would have been missed so, instead, they inserted it just before the anthem of frivolity. All of baseball was soon mandated to follow suit.  I understand the reason behind this action. I even participated in it for a while. Although I understood and I participated in it, the more I thought about it the less comfortable I was with it. These days, apparently, it is optional and left to individual teams to decide how or if they want to continue its use.

So why do I have such a problem with it? Well, it is NOT the national anthem!! It doesn’t deserve the same respect! Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful song, but to give it undue significance is disrespectful to the national anthem. It has been artificially elevated to a lofty position and, as a result, it lessens the value of the national anthem. Nothing else should ever be raised to that level. Nothing. The national anthem is enough to remind us of our past, our present, and our future. We don’t need “God Bless America” for that.

Next time you are at the ballpark, please, don’t participate in this now silly and inauthentic show of patriotism. Let the MLB and the teams know that it is time to eject “God Bless America” from baseball and return the game back to the way it was. Please keep and even elevate your acknowledgement and respect for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” After all, it is still there, gallantly streaming, over the land of the free and brave.