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Time Warp: January 14, 2006

Be Prepared

It has been over a week since we landed in Sydney and even longer since I sat down and wrote my list of necessities for the trip. Since our arrival, I have had the need for items I foolishly neglected to pack and have wished for better preparedness in general. All I can do now is make the best of what is available to me and remember to do better next time. The phrase "be prepared" sounds more ambition-driven, as in "The Lion King", than diligent as in the Boy Scouts, so my list of things to watch out for may seem different from most.

Be prepared to be hot. It did not really register in my mind how hot it got here until we got to Cairns. I had packed for a New York summer, which I now feel is autumn in comparison, so short-sleeves and jeans were going to be all I needed. I would suggest that as many light fabric clothes be packed just in case of the occasional cold wave, but I wish more that I had packed lighter pants. I'm still on the lookout for a good pair.

I need to do better at writing listsCollapse )
I don't consider myself an athletic person, and gone are the days when I tried to mirror the affinity to sports possessed by the rest of my family. During the annual sports day at my prep school, the only white first-place ribbons achieved by my household were won by my mother, the ringer in every Parent's Race. Well, OK, my brother won ribbons for himself but I seemed to peak in first grade when I won one race, of the obstacle variety: one where I had to put bean bags in a bucket and get them to the finish line first. I can't remember the name of that race, mostly because it's not the one I'm remembered for most. For "Catch the train", participants had to bring a pair of shoes, pants, a button-down shirt and a knapsack in order to race to get dressed to catch the imaginary train on time. In second grade, my sole attempt in the race resulted in a last place finish and a puddle of tears in the arms of my father -- much like most of  my embarrassing stories. Every time I have to run to catch my train to work now, I remember this race and how picking the wrong shoes can be the difference between getting there first or struggling to get there at all. As far as resolutions for the new year, being prompt for everything is a big one. Here are a few other races I plan to win this year:

The Indy 500
No, I don't want to become a race car driver but I might as well try, considering my trepidation toward getting a driver's license. Plus, driving in a straight line and turning left every half-mile can't be that hard, right? I've had the convenient excuse of living in New York City to avoid getting behind the wheel for years, but I think my avoidance has grown into a stumbling block to moving forward. The license will come in handy if I venture west this summer, perhaps through Indianapolis.

Vroom, vroom...Collapse )

(30) Blogs Hath September

The Glad Game

My summer television staples growing up were primarily anything on the Disney Channel. From fourth grade until the end of high school, that channel could be on from sunrise to sunset, providing endless entertainment. Some of my favorite movies during that time were the classic “Vault Disney” presentations of The Parent Trap and Pollyanna, both starring Hayley Mills. In Pollyanna, she played a girl whose unwavering optimism encouraged those around her to always look on the bright side of life. Much like the song from Spamalot, whenever times were difficult she would suggest playing the "Glad Game" to find the best in the situation. It is not always easy to find light on a gloomy day and sometimes I feel the urge to complain on the days with the clearest skies. The calendar page has turned to September and in reflection of the eight months prior I’ve hardly accomplished anything I set out to do at the beginning of the year. I managed to add to my undone to-do list instead of taking strides to attempt each item, one at a time. On this first day of the month, I’m challenging myself to post a journal entry every day -- a challenge put off since April; my interesting schedule this month should will encourage me to write more. Pollyanna drove the staff of her aunt’s home crazy with her constant glad tidings but when it became necessary for the encouragement to be reciprocated it was clear that they all learned to find the silver lining. With Pollyanna in mind, I’ll disregard all that I have not done for now and tell you what I’m glad about this year so far – with a little help from an online thesaurus.

I’m grateful to God that my family is in good health and that I moved past a rough first week of 2011.

I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work with an organization I’ve wanted to be a part of since high school. That I’m still hanging in there today is a testament of favor that I will not take for granted. The weight loss is an added perk.

I consider myself lucky to be making new friends and want to restore ties with old ones.

I’m pleased to be counted as a witness to Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit milestone and continue to marvel at the rain-soaked game with three Yankee grand slams. I can’t complain that I will get to see baseball’s biggest rivalry fight tooth-and-nail for the division, and I’m praying there will be another meeting during the postseason.

Tickled pink to be serenaded by a Knight of the Round Table for two nights in July, I will never forget how much fun it was to sing "Hey Jude" with 50,000 strangers.

It was gratifying to take my father to his first game at Citi Field, considering it was ten years after he opened the door to baseball for me at Shea Stadium.

Scotty McCreery won American Idol, Kirstie and Maks came second on Dancing with the Stars, and now I’ll get to see both Chmerkovskiy brothers gliding across the dance floor this fall.

Hawaii Five-O, Rookie Blue and the best season of The Office in years. Getting introduced to Hulu was a bigger deal than I thought it would be. 

There are so many things to be glad about and grateful for and their omission from this short list does not devalue them. During a time when it is easy to slip into anxiety over finances, health and job security, I have to take the little gifts as they come. I have no idea what tomorrow holds and it is not my job to worry about it.

The Addendum:
I feel blessed that my neighborhood did not suffer much damage during Hurricane Irene. I think most of the downed trees have been cleared without much trouble. I hope the recovery efforts on the rest of the eastern seaboard continue to go smoothly. On probably the weirdest day I've had in a while I managed to melt some plastic onto my work khakis while ironing them. One good scrubbing should get it out though. I'm glad the bird poop that landed on me a few hours later did not get on my uniform. Unfortunately, the mishap was not a good omen for the rest of my evening.

History delayed

During a week when the humidity has been merciless to my new haircut, this downpour is a blessing -- not to further make my head look like a mushroom, but to cool down the frenzy that accompanies unbearably hot weather. Sitting at home on a Friday night is not a luxury I've been able to enjoy since the first two weeks of the baseball season so the postponement of tonight's Yankees game versus the Tampa Bay Rays brings me here. In baseball, a rookie fielder is classified by the number of at-bats taken in the season, so if they exceed 150 at-bats they are no longer qualified for rookie honors. I'm not sure about the numbers, but rookie pitchers have their own limitations to qualify for fresh meat accolades too. Earlier this year, I used the benchmark of 150 at-bats to determine my status as a veteran in the sport, working in more than 150 games, not including postseason matches. I must be pushing 200 games by now and we're only halfway through the season. I only mention this milestone to highlight the reason I decided to write tonight.

For the last few weeks, Yankees fans -- and maybe baseball fans, in general -- have been in a twitter about Derek Jeter nearing the much-coveted milestone of 3000 hits. Jeter will be the first Yankee to accomplish this feat, which is momentous considering how long the team has existed. With six hits needed, Jeter suffered a calf injury that landed him on the 15-day disabled list a few weeks ago. Due to a rehab assignment in Tampa, he missed the opportunity to make a splash at round two of the crosstown showdown with the Mets at Citi Field last weekend. Excuse me, while I breathe a sigh of relief. This is a milestone that should be reached on home turf, and with a mere two hits needed to get to this plateau, Jeter has two more games before the All-Star break to get it done. This is nowhere near the most hits all-time, as Pete Rose's 4256 is still the high bar. By season's end, Jeter will be rubbing elbows with all of the other greats in the top twenty of all-time hitters. I can understand the excitement better now, as the enthusiasm for #2998 baffled me verily, considering Jeter's double had not scored any runs. This is not my first time experiencing a Yankee milestone chase in person, and if the game tomorrow is the landmark I will only have to reach back to September 11, 2009 to predict its effect. If a crooked number like 2722 could generate enough electricity to power a small town, then New York City will be lit up for days on the smooth shoulders of 3000. I was present for Tom Glavine's 296th career win at Shea Stadium in 2007, while he was still on the Mets, and that was greeted with polite applause as he was still seen by some as an Atlanta Brave. For Jeter to climb this far with one team puts him in the same company with Tony Gwynn, who did the same with the San Diego Padres and played with them for twenty years. In a time when players are as tradeable as their cardboard counterparts, the Yankees have held on to one of their strongest pillars -- tradition -- to have one of their homegrown talents achieve more than anyone could imagine. I honestly can't think of anyone on the list above Jeter with five championship rings. Can you? I'm not knocking teams that give away "franchise guys" to make their group better or cut down payroll, because creating the best results on the field is the ultimate goal. To have the luxury to grow up with the same people is a blessing. An expensive one, but a blessing nonetheless.

Tonight's rainfall is not a delay of destiny but more of a chance to appreciate what is hopefully about to take place this weekend. I get to tell the story for years to come that I witnessed a player reach 3000 hits. If he hits it on Sunday instead, while I'm off, then the story will be a little shorter and may include mundane details like the hot dog I ate for lunch.

Jeff Francoeur on Jerseylicious?

No, not really, but I got a big kick out of seeing someone in a black #12 Mets shirt on the Style Network show last Sunday. Instead of getting swept into the Jersey Shore craze, I decided that watching a show about New Jerseyians with real jobs would be more entertaining. It is. I like when things I enjoy mesh well together so even the meanest Mets reference on an unrelated program only makes me smile. OK, lightly chuckle before cursing the program and changing the channel. How has The Office, set in PA, not made any references to baseball Ryan Howard yet? My dream of a baseball player being featured on Dancing with the Stars is close to coming true now that DWTS pro Karina Smirnoff is engaged to Cardinals pitcher Brad Penny.  "Stars" of Disney Channel, ABC and ESPN -- keeping things in the family -- are usually members of the cast, but the timing of the baseball season does not allow for player participation. This show is mostly a springboard for other projects and, as far as baseball, the person I think should get the lift right now is Bobby Valentine. If I hear that another team has decided not to go with Bobby as their manager, I'm going to be ticked. He has the ties with ESPN to get him in the door of the show, has a great personality and we all know he can pull a costume change if he gets ejected from the dance floor. If his current quest to manage in the majors next season is unsuccessful, I hope ABC gives him a call. I would finally have a reason to pick up the phone and vote again. May need to help out Brandy and Maksim next week though. P.S. Mr. Valentine is lined up to do the ESPN baseball broadcasts so hopefully he'll make those watchable next year. Congrats!

November is already zooming ahead toward December and I have not wrapped up the baseball portion of my journal. That's mostly because nothing of note happened after my last entry, if looking at strike three to end the game and the series means nothing to you. Maybe Alex Rodriguez won't have people talking his last at-bat of 2010 for the next five years because he already has a ring. He paid his dues by being the hero last year and, considering how out-of-reach the game was by the time he stepped to the plate, no one can really give him a hard time about the backwards K to end the Yankees season. I was disappointed that team did not advance to the World Series for my job's sake but I got over it the following night when the Phillies season ended exactly the same way. I watched the game results on MLB Gameday and I was on my feet set to break dance after Brian Wilson struck out Ryan Howard. If there had been one more runner on base, this result would have mirrored the Cards/Mets Game 7 scene in 2006. I was so happy to be wrong about the Phillies winning the World Series, and with that strikeout they wouldn't even get the chance. The last time I picked them to win the whole thing was 2007, after the Mets collapse, thinking such an event would have been the icing on that season's sour cake -- and they were knocked out in the first round. So, you know who I'll be picking from now on. With the Giants in the World Series, I got a new baseball boyfriend and could finally root for the National League again. Nick Swisher's wedding planning is well underway hence he can no longer be my baseball boyfriend, so the eccentric Brian Wilson will be the object of my affection this winter and next season. His interview on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno was listed under Popular Clips on Hulu for the last two weeks. Apparently, Derek Jeter was not the Jeter whose wedding date was set for November 5, but he got himself another undeserved Gold Glove this week so he's a still a winner in November.

I was so happy that FOX and Cablevision finally got over themselves and restored programming in time for me to watch the World Series. I did not expect the Rangers to get shut out twice or to see so many runs scored in the series. The Giants championship parade of cable cars makes me jealous that New York parades don't have anything as cool.

#Frenchtober rages on

I don't have a Twitter page, so this will have to suffice:

You know who isn't in the Rangers team photo in the ALCS program? #Frenchtober

#Frenchtober has his own jeering section at Yankee Stadium

Parlez-vous #Frenchtober?

Shiver me timbers! #Frenchtober is starting to look like a pirate. Will probably be in Pittsburgh next season

OK, that's enough -- I like him, I really do. Keeping tabs on Jeff Francoeur and looking out for the bright orange Conan on TBS blimp have been my highlights of the last three games at the Stadium. After the Rangers split the series at 1-1 with a win in Game 2, everybody knew the Yankees were in trouble with Cliff Lee getting the ball for Game 3. Earlier this season, with the Mariners, Lee pitched a complete game and allowed four runs to Seattle's seven. My thoughts went to that game when the gates opened on Monday afternoon and I figured the Yankees would find a way to hit him again. It must have been the change of uniform that made the difference as the former and future Cy Young award winner shut out the Yankees for eight innings, striking out thirteen batters. To make matters worse, the Rangers had the lead from the first inning on the shoulders of a 2-run home run by Josh Hamilton. Fans started to leave in droves after the fifth inning considering only one hit had been allowed to the Yankees until that point. I was on my lunch break during that inning and saw that Lee had a no-hitter going, having only walked Mark Teixeira, and did a no-hitter jinx dance to deter the event. Jorge Posada got a single immediately afterward, so you're welcome. The only other hit allowed was to Brett Gardner but was of no consequence and the hopes for a late inning rally were shot by the Rangers tacking on six runs at the top of the ninth. Final score, 8-0 Rangers.Read more...Collapse )

How is your bracket looking now?

For some, it has been an interesting postseason so far. One no-hitter, two franchise records in strikeouts -- a lefty and a righty -- and three home runs from a first-timer to October baseball. OK, now that Texas has finally gotten past the first round, the ALCS is going to be even more fun than I thought it would be. Once again, I decided to get into the spirit by participating in the fantasy baseball games on mlb.com. I don't usually have much luck in picking my playoff bracket and in last year's picks, I only got one right. Earlier in the year, maybe during Spring Training, Gillette was sponsoring a contest to decide the playoffs and the season's awards, and the following were my picks:

Phillies (NL champion), Cardinals, Dodgers, Braves

MVP: Jose Reyes [Joey Votto]
Cy Young: Roy Halladay [with two no-hitters this year, of course he won it; should be the favorite for 2011 too]

Yankees, Twins, Angels, Red Sox (AL champion)

MVP: Mark Teixeira [Josh Hamilton]
Cy Young: Cliff Lee [Felix Hernandez]

Boston would best Philly in the World Series, and the total number of home runs for the year would be 5,092. The awards are not going to be announced until after the World Series, so I still have a shot on that front  -- except for Jose Reyes and Mark Teixeira.  The only thing I think I'll get right on the preceding list is that the Phillies will represent the National League in the fall classic for the third year in a row. I added 10 to last year's home run total and, despite Jose Bautista's 54, I overshot the final result of 4613. My selections from January turned out to be a pipe dream, but this year's playoff group is already making me nervous. I worked Game 3 of the LDS against the Twins and it was the quietest postseason game I have ever attended. The score was 5-0 Yankees in the fifth inning when fans started to leave, knowing there wouldn't be anything to buy to celebrate advancing to the next round. Knowing the Twins wouldn't be able to mount any kind of rally at Yankee Stadium.

Of the actual playoff contenders, my selections have not panned out all that well so far, except for one:
Reds-Phillies (Phillies in 3) ding, ding ding!
Braves-Giants (Giants in 5) [Giants in 4]

Yankees-Twins (Yankees in 4) [Yankees in 3]
Rangers-Rays (Rays in 3) [Rangers in 5]

Yankees win ALCS in 6 Rangers win in 6
Phillies win NLCS in 5 Giants win in 6

Phillies win WS in 7 Giants win the World Series in 5!

The LCS will be much trickier with the Rangers instead of the Rays. The first step for Texas will be winning a postseason game at home this weekend. The Yankees have not done too well in Arlington this year but will be grateful for the warmer weather. I shudder to think how cold it will get by next Monday, only because it has been so nice in New York this week. That won't last much longer. In my notes before the playoffs for Texas positives, I wrote "Nolan Ryan is scary," as though the Rangers ownership group could ever be in the same category as the Steinbrenners. We will see who is scarier starting this Friday. My nod is to the Yankees, who have the biggest question mark named A.J. Burnett. Scary! I'm also looking forward to seeing how the Twitter trend of #Frenchtober pans out and seeing how Jeff Francoeur fares the rest of the postseason.
I'm watching Everybody Loves Raymond on TBS and the countdown to the MLB postseason is down to eight days. The Rangers and Phillies have clinched their division pennants and the Reds' magic number is down to 1. The Yankees only need one more win (or a Red Sox loss) to clinch a postseason berth but are still in the running for the division. The NL West still hasn't been decided but my Gillette preseason bracket for the playoffs is already completely shot. So much for the Red Sox winning the World Series.

The boys from Boston came into town ready for a fight and almost swept the three-game series, if not for a tenth-inning, bases-loaded walk to close the home schedule on Sunday night (or Monday morning, if you were hanging out with me). Andy Pettitte didn't last beyond three innings and despite Josh Beckett giving up four home runs, the Red Sox took the first game, 10-8. I had to resist checking the out-of-town scoreboard to see if the Mets were doing all they could to prevent celebration in Philadelphia.

Saturday's game aired on FOX and Jon Lester's performance was worthy of a national broadcast, as he did not allow a hit until Francisco Cervelli's single in the sixth inning. Late home runs by Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez were not enough to mount a rally, final score 7-3 Red Sox. It seems like those two guys hit home runs every other day now.

On Sunday night, Joe Girardi switched out rookie Dustin Moseley in favor of Phil Hughes to salvage the last game and Hughes came up big, allowing only one run in 6+ innings. Unfortunately for him, the Yankees had no solution to Daisuke Matsuzaka, who held them scoreless until A-Rod's two-run homer in the seventh. I really didn't like that the close caption kept spelling his name, "Dice-K". I know it's his nickname, but it was annoying. The slim lead could not be held as Mariano Rivera blew the save, allowing two runs. The Yankees managed to tie the game against Jonathan Papelbon, so we were headed into extra innings. The only good thing about that was getting to rag on the ESPN broadcasters with one of the fans. I'm glad the animosity toward the FOX and ESPN crews is universal. I have enjoyed the FOX ones a bit more though, since Matt Vasgersian recently started sitting in for Joe Buck. So the game ended in a walk-off walk, which was a less-than-glamorous way to end the home games, but a win is a win.

I will have to rearrange the photo album so that all the events are chronological, but that will be done after the season. For now, this year's link is below:

Final Countdown, Three To Go...#78 of 81

Tonight's finale featured the most runs scored of all four games and was less of a pitchers' duel than I expected. Thankfully, the weather was pleasant so there was no worry for another delay. Marcus Thames led off the scoring with a two-run homer, but CC Sabathia seemed to be having trouble getting pitches over for strikes. He walked a couple of runs in and I'd like to see the final count of hit batsmen tonight (all three by Javier Vazquez!). The night got hectic enough that I couldn't follow the game closely, but final score 10-3 Rays.

The Red Sox are coming in for the weekend and I'm sure they'd love to turn the Yankees 0.5 game lead into a deficit since Tampa Bay is hosting the Mariners next. Boston has not been eliminated yet so they'll be fired up to keep themselves afloat. It'll be a fun weekend either way.

The Rangers, Reds and Phillies are getting close to clinching but the NL West and AL East races should go down to the very last game. I was hoping Colorado would make a push to affect the west and wild card but they are currently getting worked over by Arizona. Now there's a team that knows how to play spoiler!

Rain Delay! The Last Five - #77 of 81

Tampa Bay refused to get swept and had the lead against a black-eyed A.J. Burnett from the first inning. The rain delay in the third, lasting two hours and twelve minutes, mercifully ended his night and opened the door to the Yankee debut of my new BFF Royce Ring. Ring had a 1-2-3 inning, striking out his first two batters. Lance Berkman hit his first home run as a Yankee to put them on the board, so can we all start calling him Big Puma again? One run down, Dustin Moseley gave up back to back home runs to Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria in the seventh. Rays hammered in a few more later, final score 7-2 Rays.

Alex Rodriguez also received gifts for his milestone 600th home run and 300 stolen bases. The security guard who retrieved the home run ball was awarded a crystal trophy and $10,000. That's a nice day at work!

Tonight, David Price vs. CC Sabathia will challenge the fastest game played in Florida Marlins history (1 hour and 52 minutes), with complete games by both and at least one home run to determine the winner.