Archive for the ‘Baseball’ category

Go Matsui! Go Yankees! Go Elephants!

November 5, 2009
Elephant Inspired By Hideki Matsui

At Bat - Elephant Inspired by Hideki Matsui

Yeah!

All rights reserved, Karin Gustafson.

If you like elephants, check out 1 Mississippi  by Karin Gustafson at Amazon, or link from ManicDDaily homepage.

Mariano!

October 29, 2009

The great thing about Mariano Rivera is the way he manages to be both human and super-human at the same time.    Pretty amazing.

 

Speaking Out on the Number 4 Train – Greed, Girls, Yankees

October 29, 2009

Writing a daily blog can do strange things to you.  One of the more dangerous is that it strengthens the propensity (already outsized in most bloggers) to openly speak your mind.

This was brought to my attention last night when I  was jammed on the Number 4 train heading for Game 1 of the World Series.  The guy squeezed next to me had a slightly pudgy face that was decorated by half-there facial hair (some form of beard or goatee, probably intended to better define his face shape.)

He noticed, in the mass of people clumped around the  subway pole, a tall pale guy, whom he recognized.  The tall guy held the hand, knotted around the pole, of a young woman who looked up at him with eyes thick with make-up, shiny with adoration. (It turned out these two had only been married for a month.)  But I digress.

The pudgy guy, clearly hoping to impress the tall guy, told him about that big things had been happening in his life.  He’d gotten married the previous year; his business, four years old, was doing great; he was employing his brother; his wife was expecting.

After asking the tall guy where he lived, he revealed that he’d “closed” on a place in mid-town Manhattan last week.

Finding out that the couple had just married, he asked the tall guy where they’d honeymooned.  “Nice,” he said appraisingly.

They talked of a mutual friend who was also doing great, the pudgy guy said.  This friend had had a student loan business which he sold for $150 million dollars last year, then, “two weeks later,” the pudgy guy went on, “the government changed the regulations for, you know, student loans, and the place literally closed its doors.  Busted.”  He grinned widely.

(For government “changing regulations”, the blogger in me thinks “cracked down on corrupt business practices.”)

“Beautiful,” a third guy said.  I don’t know if this third guy, young, short, bristly, was a stranger or friend.  It’s hard when everyone is cheek by jowl, arm by guy, to know who’s with whom.

Who was going to the Yankees’ game and who was just headed up to the Bronx was a bit clearer.  For example, a very slight Hispanic girl, just opposite me, who had worried eyes, a  worried complexion, a small stud below her lower lip, and a large rumpled SAT prep book under one arm, looked like she was probably not going to the game.  (In fact, she got off in the Bronx, but before the stadium.)

“Well, you must be doing okay,” the pudgy guy said to the tall guy, “if you can buy Yankees tickets.”  He rubbed middle finger to thumb, moola-style.  (He had season tickets himself.)

(I should note here–yes, to make myself look virtuous–that my ticket, the most expensive single ticket, other than for a flight, that I’ve ever held in my hand, was given to me.)

Trying, I think, to change the subject, the tall guy at the pole asked the pudgy guy when his baby was due.  The pudgy guy pulled out a cell phone and directed it to an image of the baby’s sonogram, which he pressed across multiple limbs to his friend’s face.

This might have been a touching gesture.  But he kept saying, “you can see he’s a boy, right?  I mean you can’t miss it, right?”

The tall guy tried to say something about how amazing it was that the pudgy guy had a sonogram on his cell, but the pudgy guy wouldn’t let go of the fetus’s penis. “Look at the size of that.  You know what that is right?  I mean, how can you not see it?”

The tall guy said that he knew what it was.   “You’re happy then, with the baby coming?”

“Oh yeah, sure.  I’m just so glad it’s not a girl.  I’d just hate to have a girl.”

The blogger in me could suddenly no longer control myself.  “I think you’re horrible for not wanting a girl,” I said loudly.  “And I think your friend who made the 150 million for selling his worthless company was horrible too.”

As silence descended over the car, I was glad I had not added anything about the guy’s obsessing over the size of his son-to-be”s genitalia.

No one looked at me, except the third guy, who sneered.  “No, it wasn’t horrible.  I don’t want girls either.  And what that guy did was great.  That’s what capitalism is all about.  That’s what the Yankees are all about too, that’s why we’re all here.  To beat these guys from the start.”

I, thought about the incident repeatedly during the game.  It was a game in which one had a lot of time to think about things (such as, will anyone ever hit one of Cliff Lee’s pitches?)

I really do like the Yankees.  Despite their ridiculous pay scale.  But when you go to the new stadium, when you sit in a large crowd many of whom have paid hundreds of dollars for this ticket (and have a season of them) , beneath the bright lights, in the freezing cold,  surrounded by $10 special hot chocolate cups,  $8 beers, and small private suites which have crowded full bars, big TVs and a real Las Vegas feel, you become conscious of a few things which are both obvious and, to me, unpleasant;  (i) sports is a big, greedy,  business; (ii) the players are highly-paid, highly-skilled entertainers, and (iii) many fans, particularly now that the prices have gotten so high, are demanding consumers, some of whom look to the highly-paid, highly-skilled players to act out their own (slightly impotent) macho instincts.

You can’t blame the players for the business aspect, and you really can’t blame them for taking advantage of the big bucks.  Many of them grew up in poor or working class families and have worked incredibly hard to hone their skills.  (Mariano Rivera apparently practiced pitching rocks as a child.)   In fact, it’s amazing to me that so many players are so genuinely devoted to the game, so genuinely excited by their victories, so seemingly tolerant of their team members.

You can’t blame the fans (or at least some of them) for acting like consumers, getting irritated not just when their team is losing, but because the show is not up to the high admission price.

But because the amounts of money involved are so large, something  has gotten very out of whack.  And strangely enough, it almost makes the TV experience feel like the truer sport experience, simply because the audience there hasn’t paid hundreds of dollars for its seat and doesn’t have to look at signs that say things like “Make Noise,” and “Win It For the Boss” (meaning George Steinbrenner.)

The game can also be watched on TV even by those folks getting off in the Bronx, before the stadium is reached.

Go Yankees! Going to Game 1!!!!

October 28, 2009

I was going to write about re-watching movies tonight, BUT I was given a very generous gift of a ticket to the Yankees’ game, Game 1 of the World Series.  The WORLD SERIES!

I’ve never been to a world series before; (I’ve only been to a couple of live baseball games); and I understand that elephants are not allowed to play.

Accordingly, the pictures below are not really accurate depictions of what I hope to see and not see tonight.  But in the interest of keeping true to the name of this blog (ManicDDaily), and in the hope that my good intentions (at least) will bring the Yankees good luck…..

 

What I Don't Plan To See 1

What I Do Not Plan To See Tonight

What I Don't Plan To See 2

What I Also Don't Plan to See Tonight

Sabithia

Go Sabithia!

Elephant Baseball

Go Yankees!

All rights reserved.  Karin Gustafson

Go Yankees! Hoping For Luck.

October 25, 2009
Go Yankees!

Go Yankees!

Top of the Ninth, Yankees ahead, Mariano on the mound, hoping for luck, continued luck.  (And pennant.)

If you like elephants, with or without baseball, check out 1 Mississippi, by Karin Gustafson, at link on homepage, or on Amazon.

Go Yankees! Go Sabathia!

October 21, 2009
Go Yankees !  Go Sabithia!

Elephant Baseball.

A masterful job by Sabathia.  (I’m sorry–I think  I draw elephants better than people.) 

Though if you like elephants,   check out 1 Mississippi, by Karin Gustafson at link above.

Yea Mariano! – Go Yankees!

October 19, 2009
Go Yankees!

Go Yankees!

Just got home to see Mariano pull Yankees out of tight spot, Angels everywhere.   I’m posting for good luck!  Sorry for the repetition (but if Yankees repeat winning….)

Baseball and Life – Yankees-Angels Game 2 – The Blink Factor/The Not-Blinking Factor-Boom Boom Boom

October 18, 2009

My good luck tricks seemed to have worked once more for the Yankees—i.e. last night during the second Yankees-Angels game, I posted my elephant baseball picture AND, at a certain critical juncture, stopped watching.   (See earlier post re good luck “Talismans” and my personal effect on Yankees’ baseball.)

I won’t take all the credit for the victory—there was also Jeter, Cano, and Mariano, Jerry Hairston, Jr., A-Rod, and Damon (who made some really terrific catches), Melky Cabrera, Phil Coke, and Joba (who still seems a little pudgy boy to me especially when he celebrates), and Molina, who had a really hard job as catcher for A.J. Burnett, who also, as starter, deserves some credit, despite the way in which his wild pitches can drive a fan crazy.  (The frustration he causes is frankly not completely redeemed by the whipped cream pies.)

Then, there was just the Yankee grit, that somehow, so frequently, manages to just hang on and on and on.

Watching the videos of the end of the game this morning made me think (yes, it’s a cliché) of baseball as a paradigm of life.  Yes, again, yes, it’s a cliché.  Still, it seems somehow a more appropriate paradigm than a lot of other big sports.  (Which I have to confess don’t interest me enough to know much about them.  Still, I hate to think of any sports in which (i) people are repeatedly tackled and concussed, or (ii) forced to chase around constantly with little chance of achieving many goals, as better paradigms.)
What is unusual about baseball is simply how fast everything moves when it does, finally, move at all.   The replays of the last moments of last night’s October 17th game against the Angels are particularly striking.  On the Yankees’ site, they show footage taken from nearly every angle, even one that simply shows Cabrera running, relatively quickly for a big guy, to first.

In case, you didn’t follow the game, in the thirteenth inning, with a man on first and second, Yankee Melky Cabrera hit a ball that bounced between first and second.  The Angels’ second baseman, Maicer Izturis, stopped the ball, then, trying for a double play, threw it hard and fast to Angels’ short stop Erik Aybar, who stood at second, and who frankly seems like a really a surly, cocky sort of guy (if you are a Yankee’s fan), who missed it.  The Angel’s third baseman, Chone Figgins, stopped Izturis’s throw, but bobbled the ball.  In the meantime, Hairston Jr., who’d been holding on third before Izturis’s error, dashed towards home. Hairston was immediately overrun by the rest of the Yankees’ team and quickly assumed a fetal position on the ground as they all energetically patted him.

The long and short of that detailed explanation is simply that, although it takes a long time to write it all down, the play actually happened in an incredibly short period of time:  boom (Cabrera connected with the ball), boom (Iztura stopped and immediately threw it), boom (it slid below Aymer’s glove), boom (Figgins bobbled it), boom (Hairston slid into home).  When the footage that just focuses on Cabrera is shown, you see from the way that he turns, delighted, that the run has already been scored even as he makes it to first base.

The speed of it all is especially amazing because most of baseball is so slow.  The pitcher stands and postures, eyes narrowing and re-narrowing, with little shakes or nods of the head to the catcher, the batter (if Jeter especially), re-tightens his gloves (two or three or four times), re-squares his shoulders, gently sways the bat,  everyone constantly repositions their stances (usually spitting or blowing a bubble at the same time in a sort of homage to old-time multi-tasking).  Everyone, pitcher, batter, catcher, batter, in and out fielders, both wait and prepares.  Even the audience waits, though it doesn’t prepare so much as eats and drinks, crosses its fingers and yells. So much waiting, so much preparation, so much eating and drinking, finger-crossing  and yelling.  And then, boom, boom, boom, boom.  The moment arrives and players are suddenly expect to act, react, not just to make decisions, but to carry them out – boom boom boom.

Okay, you get it.  This is where the paradigm part comes in. There are obvious parallels to situations in the marketplace–buying and selling on the stock market, buying and selling anything, anywhere.  And also to moving around a potentially dangerous world–driving a car, for example,  especially in, or around, an accident.  The way action unfolds in baseball parallels many emergency situations actually; an emergency, a threat, that can also turn into an opportunity (i.e. the near double-play that becomes a winning score for the opposite side.)

So many parallels:  the need to be able to act even in the midst of a mouthful! The need to keep a mouthful going in order to be able to act!  The blink factor!  Or, maybe it’s the not-blinking factor!  The waiting, the planning, the practice, and then the OMG moment, which never takes exactly the shape anticipated, and frequently involves both a solo effort AND team work, and if not exactly team work, at least the avoidance of collision.  (A-Rod and Mariano were a great example of that in the tenth inning when they both ran towards a flying bunt, which was then caught by Mariano.)

Ah, Mariano….

Go Mariano!!!

October 17, 2009

There’s nothing else to say at 11:01.

(Bottom of 8th, second game against Angels, October 17, 2009)

Just in Case – Go Yankees!

October 17, 2009
Go Yankees!

Go Yankees!

I’m posting this just in case.  (See post re Talismans and Yankees.)  But it may take more than a picture tonight.

If you’re too nervous to watch the Yankees in a jam, try 1 Mississippi, by Karin Gustafson, at link above.