BALTIMORE – Here’s a question:
Say a person is going to Denver, but along the way he has to stop in Dallas to buy a themed snow globe for his sister’s collection, get a drink (hydration is important), shake the weasel and change planes…
Does this count as “being to” Texas?
This is an important question because I have never been to Texas and if a layover on an airplane counts than, yes, I lose my Texasinity. Hey, some Texan is going to take my money and redistribute it into the local economy and I will also use the utilities and the infrastructure.
I say it counts.
However, I can understand how it wouldn’t count. After all, I’m not really visiting Texas, just like I didn’t visit Utah, Detroit, St. Louis, Charlotte or Chicago on various other connecting flights. I’m also unsure if I get credit for being in Arizona when I drove over the Hoover Dam from Nevada.
Oh sure, I’d like the credit so I can tick off another state on my checklist, but I don’t want a cheapie, either. I don’t want it to be like Cal Ripken extending the streak with a pinch-running appearance.
Anyway, the coach of the Baltimore Ravens is sitting directly across from me as I type this. Brian Billick. I actually did a double take when I saw him because I wasn’t sure how I knew the dude – I had the same experience when I once stood in line behind Steffi Graf to see Dracula. I knew I knew her, but from where…
”Hey, how do I know you? Did you go to McCaskey? You look very familiar.”
Yes, I am losing my mind. Steffi Graf is only one of the best three or four tennis players in the history of tennis and she did not go to McCaskey. She did see Dracula, though.
On another note, I once sat at a blackjack table in Las Vegas with Joe Theisman and Sugar Ray Leonard. For a D.C. like me, seeing those guys was kind of odd.I was half waiting for John Riggins and Mark Moseley to show up with his single-bar helmet and straight-ahead kicking style.
I'm not sure why a guy would where a helmet in a casino, though.
Apropos of seeing Brian Billick in the American Airlines terminal at BWI, I also saw about nine guys that almost kind of looked like Rick Dempsey.
OK, off to Texas (or not). Word out of Estes is that my four-year-old son is not much of hiker. Apparently my wife took him to Bear Lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park and he wasn’t too jazzed about it. He only perked up when told about the various types of animals that live in the mountains.
Truth be told, when out for a walk tales of possible mountain cat attacks definitely livens things up.
Today my soon-to-be four-year old told me: "Baseball is boring."
I have to admit that I'm beaming at pride with the intelligence of the boy. After all, he's only ever attended one Major League game (Phillies vs. Rockies at Coors Field in July of 2005), he has never seen a Grapefruit League game and hasn't had to watch a team grind the season to a close when its 10 games out in Septmeber. So in that regard he seems to be ahead of the curve. Baseball's potential blandness is evident in his unwired brain.
His dad, on the other hand, hasn't yet figured it out. After trying to sell the kid on watching the ballgames from Cincinnati in a frozen moment in time that would surely look just like something Norman Rockwell would conjure on a canvas, I gave up. If the kid believed Buzz Lightyear and piles of Legos were more interesting than the Phillies vs. Reds, I wasn't going to argue. It was a lose-lose situation all around and forcing matters would only make it worse, I reasoned. Besides, I have to choose my battles wisely. Let the kid watch Buzz and play with Legos...
So off I went to find another TV to catch a few innings before we rolled down to the Baltimore touristy spots for another Rockwell moment.
"Baseball is boring," the kid taunted as I trudged upstairs to sit in front of the TV by myself.
Clearly the kid didn't get to watch Brett Myers face the Reds on Sunday. There was nothing boring about that particular outing. Are fireworks displays boring? How about watching a chimpanzee attempt to button up an Oxford shirt? Even though the monkey doesn't have opposable thumbs, nor does he look all that stylish in a button-down shirt (though that Lancelot Link was pretty smooth), you still sit there watching with the belief that he'll figure it out.
No such luck.
Against the Reds for a couple of innings Myers' lead shoulder seemed to fly open like a screen door on a windy day every time he threw his fastball. But when he threw his breaking pitches Myers' delivery was more efficient and precise. Look, the only thing I ever really knew about pitching in baseball is that I had no shot at hitting it. Besides, I was just a guy who was about to load up the family truckster and drive an hour to the so-called "Charm City" in order to stare at some fish like a slack-jawed yokel. But I know what I saw in the second inning of the Reds-Phillies game on Sunday.
And if I saw it, what did the Reds see?
Anyway, Myers' line (5 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 HR) wasn't too good, though he says his stuff was improved from his first outing of the season. In that one, Myers also lasted just five innings and gave up four runs. He didn't give up any homers, but said his fastball and curve were, "crap." Yet despite Myers' thoughts that his fastball was located better in his second outing than during the Opening Day loss, skipper Charlie Manuel wasn't so sure.
As the manager told the scribes in Cincy:
"I'm sure he wants to pitch the best he possibly can, but in his last two outings, I've seen him have much better stuff, let's put it like that. I've seen better velocity on his fastball. He was throwing breaking balls, splits, a change-up every now and then, mixing his fastball in, but he didn't have the velocity or the command on his fastball that he usually has."
Needless to say, it won't be boring to see how Myers pitches during his next outing on Friday night against the Cubs.
It also won't be boring to watch the Phillies and Mets go at it for three games at Shea starting tomorrow.
Pat Burrell (3 HR, 9 RBI, .435 BA) is off to a nice start.
The Phillies have not had a winning record in April since beating the Mets on April 18, 2005 to improve to 7-6.
It was fascinating to listen to Gary Matthews and Tom McCarthy talk about Cincinnati's The Freedom Center and the regions' role in the Underground Railroad during Saturday afternoon's broadcast. It wasn't quite like eavesdropping on a conversation between National Parks guides who were talking shop, but it was damn close.
Less fascinating was Harry Kalas' insistence on calling the Reds' Norris Hopper, "Dennis Hopper."But, truth be told, Dennis Hopper would be a fun addition to a Major League Baseball club. Actually, Hopper's Frank Booth from Blue Velvet, would blend right in to any clubhouse.
Speaking of Dennis Hopper and apropos of nothing, a few years ago I had a dream that the Phillies fired then manager Larry Bowa and replaced him with Larry David. A few of the players that I told this to said it would have been a good move.
Last year's top draft pick Joe Savery made his debut for Single-A Clearwater last Thursday and it went fairly well. The lefty allowed just three hits and no runs in five innings with seven strikeouts. However, he did walk five.
The final home opener at Shea Stadium is tomorrow.
 I've said it before and I'll say it again: the old David Letterman bit on the "lost" Rockwell paintings always kills me - "Turn Your Head and Cough." It never gets old.
Yep, the latest addition to the brood made his much-heralded appearance on Saturday morning (Friday night to others) at 2:41 a.m. This came after we arrived at the hospital on Thursday afternoon so that Ellen (my old lady) could be induced with a veritable cocktail of drugs aimed at tenderizing her cervix like an aged piece of Kobe beef.
After more than 25 hours of the midwife administering two different drugs three times like The Candy Man or that groovy purple dude from the psychedelic ‘70s cartoons who drove a microbus and wore high-heeled shoes and a hat with a long feather hanging from the side, they finally decided to go in and break her water. In the biz they call it “breaking the bag,” and when it was ruptured it sounded like a water balloon crashing onto the sidewalk.
Nevertheless, the bag breaking seemed to speed up the proceedings quite a bit and, interestingly enough, when someone says their water has been broken, there really is water… lots of water, in fact – all over the place, too.
Someone had to go and get a mop.
So we sat there in a room up to our ankles in water and caught some of the Carlos Ruiz’s dust-up with consummate sulker Marcus Giles, a whiner of such a high proportion that even baseball players say, “Yo, that dude always has the ass…”
That’s a bit of clubhouse jargon that the scribes lot to trot out amongst themselves and other so-called insiders in order to indicate that they are in the so-called club. It’s not quite a secret handshake, but it might get one into the lobby of the headquarters building.
Anyway, old pal Matt Yallof and I once had a not-too friendly conversation with whiner Giles back when he was playing for the Braves. If I recall correctly, Whiner was upset that Mark De Rosa got a start against a tough right-hander or something. Either way, we weren’t impressed, but then again, I doubt he was either.
You should have seen it the time we tried to chat with Josh Beckett about union issues a few years ago… (insert sarcasm font) what a prince!
After a brief nap and sitting around like we were at Yellowstone waiting for Old Faithful to blow, it was time to push. Well, I didn’t push. I just grabbed a leg and did my best to stay north of the equator. Needless to say it was the fastest, most intense 50 minutes of my life.
And in the end, a big boy (8 pounds, 4 ounces and 22 inches long) with an even bigger name slid out.
Fortunately, Teddy’s big brother Michael is extremely pleased with his new role and his little friend. Teddy’s mother is doing very well considering she pushed something the size of a watermelon out of a passage the width of a crazy straw. Somehow she carried it all out with much humor, panache and grace.
When the Red Sox were three outs away from beating the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series, I woke up my then six-month old son and made him sit there with me to watch it end.
I thought the proper fatherly thing to do was to make sure that my son could say that he watched the Red Sox win their first World Series since 1918. After all, the last time the Red Sox had won the World Series, my grandmother was my son’s age.
But like my 88-year old grandmother, my son was born into a world where the Red Sox were the defending World Series champions.
Tonight, my son is 2½ and fast asleep. I’m not going to wake him even though the Cardinals are three outs away from winning the World Series after Jeff Weaver mowed the Tigers down in the eighth and picked up his ninth strikeout of the game. These days it’s just too hard to get him back to sleep, especially with the threat of monsters moving into hiding places in his room while he watches the end of the game.
Besides, he’s already seen the Red Sox win it all. I’d never seen it until my mid-30s.
Generally, though, I don’t root for teams, but I’ll admit that I’m happy for Scott Rolen. He’s my favorite player to watch and as I’ve stated on these pages before, if my son is ever interested in playing baseball and wants to learn how I’ll tell him to copy No. 27 for St. Louis.
It would be much more fun if I could say No. 17 for Philadelphia.
But there is no sense re-hashing all of that.
St. Louis sits on the verge thanks to eight errors by the Tigers. I suppose that’s how this series will be remembered. The Pirates in 1979 was the last time a team made errors in each of the first five games of the World Series. But unlike “The Family,” the Tigers didn’t have the fire power – or Willie Stargell – to overcome their ineptitude.