ESPN is here at the ballpark for one of those national cable broadcasts that any clearheaded person with a normal life and responsibilities finds nauseating. There are a lot of reasons this is the case, but for lack time (and desire) we'll stick with the superficial.
Firstly, a Sunday night game means the game won't start until after 8 p.m. My kids go to bed at 8 p.m. and my oldest boy (he's 4) says "baseball is boring." The reason is because there are never any big games on TV before his bed time. I suspect there are a lot of kids out there who don't say baseball is boring and have a respectable bed time as well. They get shut out, too.
Worse, because Sunday night games are produced by ESPN it means they are overwrought with all sorts of gizmos, graphics, teevee things and general fluff that hinder the natural ebb and flow of the game. When ESPN gets its hands on a game it's just like building a dam in the middle of a free-flowing river. Sure, the water moves a little bit, but there are no rapids. In fact there are times when some production geek jumps out onto the field to tell the umpires to halt the game because all of the commercials haven't run yet.
Look, I'm an adult with a brain who doesn't like to have his chain jerked. Just show me the game so I can get to bed at a respectable hour on a Sunday night because the kids are getting up at the crack and after that all bets are off.
Sleep, as we have written on this site on so many other occasions, is better than HGH.
Another reason why the ESPN game stinks is Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. Truth be told, Miller was brilliant with the Orioles before Peter Angelos destroyed that once proud franchise. These days it seems as if he gets paid by the word. Meanwhile, Joe Morgan was brilliant as a big-league second baseman with that kinetic chicken wing flap that personified all his at-bats.
They say true genius is marked by a little bit of crazy, so in that regard Morgan at the plate was quite a treat.
But listening to Morgan has an announcer is like listening to that old man who slowly drove his big-assed car with the tail fins through my neighborhood a few weeks ago while I was out running. Instead of passing by, the old guy sidled that beast next to me to chastise me for "running on the wrong side of the road."
"You should run on the other side so you face traffic," he yelled through the passenger-side window. "You're going to get killed running the way you are."
"Dude," yes, I called the old man (he was at least 80) driving a powder blue Cadillac with tail fins, "Dude." "It's a one-lane road. There is no other side."
So yeah, that's what Joe Morgan sounds like to me. He's a guy chewing me out because he can... until I turn the channel.
Which is what I usually do.
But not tonight - instead I'm sitting in the press box filthy with New York writers and local TV types who like to get out for a ballgame once in a while. Better yet, the TV hanging from the ceiling right over my seat perfectly augments the action on the field. That's because ESPN games are on a seven-second delay, so if I miss a pitch on the field all I have to do is look straight up to catch what happened.
Thank you, ESPN. And thank you to the folks at the Federal Communications Commission for protecting our eyes and ears from something.
Had I been in better shape during November and December of last year I wouldn't be at the ballpark tonight. Instead, I would be fast asleep in a cozy hotel room with an early wakeup call the night before the Boston Marathon. When I was figuring out my racing plans for 2008 back then, I thought I'd need a good four months in order to get into great shape.
Who would have guessed that I would have been ready to go for Boston instead of two weeks from now?
Nevertheless, the Boston Marathon is tomorrow and like the geek I am I will be glued to the Internet coverage on WCSN.com as well as the television broadcast on Versus.
Is there any way Robert Cheruiyot won't win his fourth straight Boston? I wonder if Brian Sell considered jumping in the race as a hearty warm up for his buildup before the Beijing Olympics in August.
Anyway, this year's Boston had the extra added flair of playing host to the women's Olympic Marathon Trials this morning. It was kind of a doubleheader of marathoning, if you will. But rather than run the regular Boston course from Hopkinton to the Back Bay, the women's trials looped around the Charles River into Cambridge and back a few times before finishing on Boylston Street.
And just as everyone suspected, Deena Kastor won easily by coming from well off the pace to lead a relatively weak field. Kastor is one of the best five or six marathoners in the world as well as one of the best one or two American marathoners ever, so the fact that she didn't take over the lead until 23½ miles into the race wasn't as dramatic as it could have been.
Actually, Kastor made it look kind of easy by rolling through at 5:43 pace.
But when she goes to Beijing for her second Olympic medal, Kastor knows a 2:29 won't cut it, nor will her main competition be the No. 42-seeded and unsponsored Magdalena Lewy Boulet or the No. 17-seeded Blake Russell, the 2006 national cross country champion.
In Beijing it's going to be hot, dirty and intense.
Meanwhile, Joan Samuelson, the 1984 Olympic Marathon champion and former U.S. record holder, finished with a respectable 2:48. That's really good considering that Samuelson has qualified to run in every single Olympic Marathon Trials and will turn 51 next month.
 Actually, I don't know if "they" say that at all. I just made it up.
It’s amazing what 20 ounces of one beverage can do for a person. Almost from the first taste of the coffee supposedly shipped in to Lancaster, Pa. from Guatemala, all of the aches and pains in my head slipped into the ether. Sure, it could be psychosomatic, but the energized feeling – as well as the shaky hands – has to come from somewhere.
Obviously, it’s from my drug of choice.
That brings me to a quote I once read that was attributed to William Burroughs where he once told an audience that, “drugs are an inevitable part of life.”
I couldn’t agree more and I’ve debated with people what exactly Burroughs was talking about. Most seem to think that the beat bard was talking about narcotics and the illicit stuff that he waxed on about in his writing, speaking and in a role in the Gus Van Sandt film Drugstore Cowboy.
That’s obvious, but I also believe Burroughs was talking about everyday drugs, too, like caffeine, aspirin, television, money, and whatever else people need in order to make it through the day. In that regard perhaps Burroughs should have said, “Addictions are an inevitable part of life.”
But that would have been too easy.
I also believe that the human body does not want drugs and that Mother Nature, in her own little odd way, is perfect.
Pretty ambiguous, huh?
Nevertheless, the coffee helped my head and the other fluids – an antioxidant drink and gallons and gallons of water – are helping me stave off the cold that seems to be affecting people in these parts. I’m sure the weather isn’t helping much, either. All week it’s been rather seasonal for mid-November, but today it’s sunny with the temperature pushing toward 70 degrees. Typically in these situations, I like to stay consistent with my clothing choices during my workouts. That means a long-sleeved Nike compression shirt and a pair of Pearl Izumi running shorts for my easy five miler in 30:05.
During the run I felt pretty laid back despite the fact that I ran at 6-minute pace. It didn't seem hard, but wasn't super, super easy, either -- I had to think about running that pace. However, I guess it's my average, uptempo pace which I hope to do for 26.2 miles on Sunday. Actually, I'd like to go 6 minutes for the first 13 miles and 5:30 to 5:50 for the last 13.
That will do it.
On another note, it’s typical for runners to gain a pound or two during the taper period since they aren’t cranking out the miles. For some (like me) this is a cause for concern because weight has a tendency to slow people down, but fortunately, I feel as fit this week as I did last week. Whether or not I gained (or lost) any weight is unknown since I choose not to weigh myself. Instead I gauge my fitness and healthiness by how fast (or slow) I am.
That doesn’t mean I don’t watch my diet, especially this week. But man, there is just so much to think about with this running stuff.