Regular readers of this site don't need to be told that I love coffee. To be more precise, I believe in coffee. Loaded with antioxidants and natural goodness, coffee is one of those little pleasures in life. Sometimes when it's quiet in the house and everyone is asleep at night, I catch myself pining for the morning so I can get downstairs and pour that first batch of the day into a big, blue cup.
Some research indicates that coffee appears to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver and gout. Better yet, because it's loaded with those glorious antioxidants, it stops free radicals from damaging cells.
Better yet, coffee can be a load of fun. Once, for no particular reason other than I was in college and had nothing better to do, I drank nothing but a Colombian hazelnut brew continuously and stared at my face in the mirror until I actually saw the hair on my face grow.
Then we went bowling.
I don't recall what my score was from that outing on the lanes, but I bet it was pretty good. That's because coffee can also be classified as a performance-enhancer. In fact, the glorious caffeine that is the main stimulant found in those roasted beans is classified as a banned substance by the I.O.C. in certain doses. Actually, because of the ban on greenies and other amphetamines in baseball, coffee urns are quite prevalent in big-league dugouts and clubhouses.
For folks that like to train for and run marathons, coffee is very much a part of the training regimen. Speaking for myself, I don't move very well in the morning without coffee chased by approximately 90-fluid ounces of water/electrolyte replacement.
It's a strict drug regimen that helps keep my mind limber.
However, if there is no time for the coffee to settle in before I have to get out the door extra early, a glucose gel fortified with about 100 calories and caffeine does the trick.
After all, the point is to pile up the work in order to make the lungs and legs stronger than Babe the Blue Ox. Because there is no limit to a human's aerobic capacity, strength over a long distances is a matter of piling on as much work as possible. Sometimes it's a balancing act between health and injury, which very well could be the issue with Shane Victorino and his seemingly chronic calf problems.
Victorino, the Phillies' center fielder, is on the 15-day disabled list with a calf injury. Worse, it's the second time the so-called "Flyin' Hawaiian" has landed on the disabled list since last August with an injured calf. The calf muscle, of course, is the engine of the leg. If a person has trouble with their knees, hamstrings or quads, chances are the problem began in the calf.
Meanwhile, calf injuries are largely preventable. Most times they are caused by tightness, tiredness, hydration issues, or weakness. Certainly all sorts of variables could lead to those problems, but usually it doesn't take anything more than a few strengthening and training adjustments to correct the problem.
Then again, maybe Victorino wasn't properly healed before he jumped back into the action last season. Healing, after all, takes time just like building strength does.
Speaking of coffee, I finally got a chance to try out the Pikes Place blend at Starbucks the other day. The much-heralded blend from the uber-coffee shop is an attempt for the company to go back to the old days when it was all about the coffee and simplicity and not all the other stuff it seems to focus on these days.
The hook with the Pikes Place coffee is that it isn't over-roasted like all of Starbucks' other blends. In fact, each shop posts when each particular batch was roasted in order to advertise some sort of bourgeoisie-ness in which the date a coffee is roasted is vital information.
People need to know this.
Anyway, according to a story in Time Magazine the Pikes Place blend is supposed to be lighter and crisper cup of coffee for "people who don't like Starbucks."
I don't know... I guess that's right. Then again it seems as if my palate is ruined from drinking Starbucks coffee too much.
Kind Coffee of Colorado... now that's a cup of coffee.
In other news, Chelsea Clinton dropped into my neighborhood today -- with Ted Danson, too...
Yeah, I didn't see it. I'm too busy watching Michael Bourn beat the Phillies.
Apparently her mom is in Philly doing something on the other end of town.
In the old days, before I went to bed, I made an intricate mix of green tea, honey and lemon juice in an ice-tea machine so it would be ready in the morning before my run. So sure that the green tea made me run better that I lugged that old tea machine with me whenever I traveled to a race or even a pleasure trip.
Nobody knew how to make the tea the way I liked, I reasoned, though a few places came close. If I can recall correctly, the Adams Mark in Clearwater, Fla. had excellent ice tea.
I still have that tea maker and a taste for good ice tea with the right amount of honey and lemon, but I don’t really make it any more. These days, the magic elixir to make me run better every morning comes from Kind Coffee in Estes Park, the stand at Lancaster’s Central Market owned by those guys with interesting facial hair and t-shirts with pithy sayings, or Starbucks everywhere.
On another note, the Gatorade and Red Bull mixture I have been testing on occasional long runs is not only beneficial to the running, but delicious, too. I was extolling the virtues of the sugar-free Red Bull I drink with my sister recently and she was right there with me.
Now it’s a series. Now it gets interesting. Now the pitching match ups will be more meaningful and each and every at-bat that much more nerve-racking. Hands will grip the bats tighter, managers will second-guess their second-guesses.
Now, for the first time since 2003 there will not be a sweep. Are we headed for seven games? How fun would that be?
Here are a few observations from Game 2 of the World Series:
* Let me get this straight… the game was delayed so John Cougar could come out and sing a car commercial? What, did he forget the words to Jack & Diane and Hurt So Good? You didn’t see Bob Seger pulling that crap and he has volumes of songs that double as car commercials. There are generations of people who only know Seger as a jingle writer for TV ads. The Doobie Brothers? Who are they?
Incidentally, when the Inquirer’s Todd Zolecki was starting out in the biz, an old editor thought it would be a good idea if he went by the nom de guerre Todd Cougar. Later it became Todd Cougar Zolecki, to now when he finally settled on the name his parents gave him.
Todd’s just finished the final mix on his new album and it should be out in time for Christmas.
* Kenny Rogers – you know, the guy who beat up a cameraman in Texas – tosses a two-hitter and Rolen gets the hit? It seems to me that the Fox broadcast team believed that Rogers had pine tar on his pitching hand during the first inning because it appeared to be washed off in the subsequent innings. If Rogers doesn’t use pine tar when he picks fights with cameramen, he shouldn’t use it in the World Series.
Pine tar, of course, is a foreign substance that cannot be placed on the ball intentionally. Certainly, foreign substances are “accidentally” placed on the ball during a course of a game, which can cause it to do all sorts of wacky things. I remember a conversation with Todd Pratt in the Veterans Stadium clubhouse where he revealed all of the zanier things done to the ball in a game. That was fun.
When I was pitching for my fifth-grade team, the Lancaster Township Phillies, I used to scuff and nick the ball with the metal tags on the heel of my Rawlings glove. By doctoring the ball in that manner I was able to make it move a little more than the chintzy spinning curve I used to huck up there.
I suppose by revealing this that I am no longer eligible for the Hall of Fame… oh well, I had a good run.
And since I’m coming clean, I guess I should tell all of my secrets. For instance, I bet on baseball in Las Vegas in August of 2003. I would have won some money, too, if the Phillies would have avoided a sweep in Milwaukee during that ugly losing skid that culminated with team meetings, players-only bus rides and meetings, and Tyler Houston’s inexplicable release that strange, strange day at Shea Stadium.
Boy those were the days.
I also use Ibuprofen quite regularly to battle through 100-plus mile weeks, and ingest obscene amounts of caffeine. So obscene that they recognize me when I walk in the door at the local Starbucks and simply pour me “the usual” instead of asking me for my order.
So obscene that similar amounts of caffeine have been known to kill a Shetland pony.
The usual, of course, is a venti breakfast blend with a double shot. Sometimes I have two, like last Saturday when I nearly crashed the car into the hedge lining my driveway because my caffeine-addled hands were shaking so much and my vision was blurred.
In fact, stealing a page from an interview I recently read with Brian Sell, I have begun mixing sugar-free Red Bull with water and Gatorade. I also stopped doing pushups because I read an interview where Lance Armstrong said he quit doing them during his Tour de France winning streak because he was afraid that the extra weight would slow him down during his climbs up the Alps.
I’m not climbing the Alps any time soon, but the less weight I have to carry around the faster I’ll be.
Then again, if Gaylord Perry and Ty Cobb are in the Hall maybe there’s hope for Pete Rose and me…
Uh, maybe not.
* It’s nice to see all-time good guy Sean Casey in the World Series. Casey is one of those guys who says hello to everyone and can remember the name of every person he meets. Whenever I see him around the ballpark he always has a big smile on his face or is laughing with someone.
Here’s another Casey story: A classmate of his at the University of Richmond told me that when Casey received bids to join several of the fraternities on campus, he paid individual visits to each governing body thanking them for the offer despite turning down several of them.
* Back to cameraman thrower Rogers’ dirty hand. After the game, the angry old man said he simply had dirty hands.
“It was a big clump of dirt,” Rogers said, noting that he had his hands all over the rosin bag. “I didn't know it was there. They told me about, but it was no big deal.”
Upon washing it off, Rogers got better, allowing just two hits in eight innings to extend his 2006 playoff scoreless innings streak to 23. Not bad for a 41-year-old lefty whose ERA from 1996 and 1999 with the Yankees and Mets was 9.47.
Besides, according to supervisor of umpires Steve Palermo, dirt is OK. In fact, there is dirt all over the field. Check it out sometime.
“Dirt is not a foreign substance. That's the playing surface. There was absolutely no detection that he put anything on the ball by any of the umpires. That rule regards if he deliberately put something on the ball to doctor the ball. There was an observation, and [Marquez] saw there was dirt, and he asked him to take it off,” Palermo told reporters in Detroit. “It was observed as dirt. [The umpires] have a pretty good idea what dirt is and what a foreign substance is.”
* Interestingly, Kenny Rogers’ Baseball Reference web page is not sponsored. Ty Cobb’s page and Gaylord Perry’s have the same sponsor. Pete Rose and Pete Rose Jr. also have sponsors.
Kenny Rogers? Yours for $70.
Yeah, I know… $70 seems pretty steep for a journeyman 41-year-old lefty with a short fuse. So in searching for a few bargains, I dug up Jim Todd, an alum of my high school – J.P. McCaskey in Lancaster, Pa. – who pitched for six seasons for the A’s, Cubs, Mariners. Todd is out there for $10.
The other McCaskey kids to make it to the Majors are both available for $10, too. John Parrish, the wild Orioles’ lefty rehabbing from Tommy John surgery is available, just like his classmate Matt Watson, who I’m told played in Japan after call-ups with the Mets and A’s in 2004 and 2005.