Thursday, October 28, 2004

Free At Last! Free At Last!!

World muthafuggin Champs. The Red Sox are the World Champs. I'm nowhere near ready to write about this. I'm still too stunned. Thanks to all that participated in helping Reverse The Curse. Red Sox Nation appreciates your support (as do I).

Thank you, Theo. You truly rock!!


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

One More To Go!!



Thursday, October 21, 2004

They Won?!?

Really? Was it a dream? I’ve been avoiding and because I’m afraid that the headline will read - "Cruelest Joke Ever Played on Red Sox Nation, Yanks Win By Forefeit."

You don’t understand. This stuff doesn’t happen to us Red Sox fans. We’re the ones that always blow the huge, seemingly insurmountable leads. We’re the collective butts of the joke. The Yankees are the ones that always seem to rise to the occasion or rise above anything that turns the tides against them. I guess a long-standing tradition of winning and $220,000,000 in payroll will do that to you.

But something funny happened on the way to the World Series. The good guys won. They came in wearing their white hats, guns blazing. They meant business. Here are my thoughts from Game 7.

I was strangely calm before the game. I hadn’t even started mixing my beer with pain killers yet. It’s a weird feeling to be comfortably numb when you’re stone cold sober.

Right before Damon’s hit to lead off the game, I was thinking, he’s right on Brown. No way he makes an out this at bat. After The Passion of the Damon steals 2nd, all we need is a clutch base hit. Manny’s due for an RBI. Waaaaay overdue. When he hit the ball past a diving Jeter, I was thinking, "no way do you send him home on that hit. He’s gonna hold him up." Huh? Sveum is waving him around? Does he have a severe case of vertigo or something? Predictable outcome - Damon hosed at the plate by 5 feet. No sooner did I get done putting a curse on Sveum and his family did Papi come up an hit a 2 run laser into the right field stands. He may look like he’s out of shape, but man can that guy just flat out RAKE!! Papi is clutch and clutch is everything. 2-0 Sox after ½ inning. Nice start guys!!

Derek Lowe on the hill, owner of the "Derek Lowe Face" which is akin to the "Deer In The Headlights" look when things start going down hill. I love D-Lo, but he’s never been a money pitcher. He disappears in big spots. Jeter swings at the first pitch and pops it up. Way to lead your team, Jeter. Keep up the good work. Yeah Sheff, that pitch was inside...what-frickin-ever. Grab your glove and trot your happy little ass out to right field. 2-0 Sox after 1. No, I’m not anywhere near comfortable, but I’m still pretty calm.

Second inning - damn, Kevin Brown is really laboring out there. Someone get him a back brace and some Doans, maybe a walker too. When Torre came out to yank Brown after he walked Cabrera, I said out loud to nobody (since the kids were upstairs watching some DVD), "What is he doing? Damon absolutely KILLS Vazquez. He homered off him twice in a game earlier this season. Wouldn’t it be something if Vazquez tries to get ahead with an inside fastball and Damon deposits it into the bleachers for a grand slam?" No sooner did I get the word ‘slam’ out of my mouth did that VERY thing happen. Not bad times. Good times!! Vazquez tried to get ahead with an inside fastball and Damon yanked it out of the yard. I screamed so loudly that I scared someone walking by my townhouse. I looked out the window just in time to see a guy walking his dog jump straight up in the air as I let out my war cry. 6-0 Sox after 1 ½. MUST.NOT.GET.EXCITED. There’s too much game left.

Lowe is absolutely cruising. No Derek Lowe Face. Cairo was NOT hit by that pitch. The mere fact that he takes first on that shows me how desperate things have gotten in the Bronx. Cairo steals second a little too easily. After Jeter, the most clutch hitter in the history of clutch hitters, gets another RBI hit, I sat on my couch totally calm. A-Rod will make an out here. I knew it in my heart. Up steps a pissed off Sheffield next, however. He absolutely scorched that ball, but right at Mueller (whose name should be pronounced "Mule-er" not "Miller"). Inning over, D-Lo weathers the storm. 6-1 Sox after 3.

Vazquez is officially done. It’s pretty hard to pitch with a giant salad fork sticking out of your back. Cabrera walks. Torre should go get him here. Damon’s gonna tee off again. Thank you Joe for not listening to me. Damon is officially my HOMEBOY!! 8-1 Sox.

The middle innings are a blur. D-Lo cruising, Yanks getting more and more desperate by the pitch. Lowe makes Sheff look silly to end the 6th, striking him out on 3 pitches. He should be good to go into the 8th, just what this team sorely needs. I’ve never heard 55,000 people more silent in all my life. I’m pretty sure most of them are weeping into their MLB Authentic Collection Derek Jeter jerseys.

Ronan Tynan singing God Bless America. Damn, his ears are huge. G-Dogg just pointed out that Dumbo’s ears may be smaller than this guy’s. Did he write a preamble to this song? I don’t think one should take creative artistic license with God Bless America....but that’s just me. Ok, I feel a little better now, I looked it up, it's in the lyrics, that dude didn't just ad lib.

Wait just a cotton pickin’ minute here. Why isn’t Lowe going out for the 7th? Is Francona trying to blow the game here? Why, why, WHY put Pedro in here. The one player you have that will whip this crowd into a feeding frenzy. Yep, here we go. "Who’s your DADDY?" clapclap...clapclapclap, "Who’s your DADDY?" clapclap...clapclapclap. Somebody snipe the organist, will you? Or, at the very least, give me some strong shoelaces so I can hang myself. Matsui-san - double. Williams - double. 8-2 Sox. Posada grounds out, Williams to 3rd. Shoeless Joe Lofton singles. 8-3 Sox. I’m in hell. Shoot me now. Wait! What’s this? Did Pedro just hit NINETY-FRICKIN-SEVEN on the gun? I haven’t seen him throw that hard in five years. Maybe he’s finally gotten pissed off. About time. 8-3 Sox after 7.

Top of the 8th - Bellhorn, I take back every mean, nasty word I’ve uttered about you in the past 10 days. You don’t suck. You are officially CLUTCH! The decisive home run last night and a HUGE insurance HR tonight? You’re rockin the house, dude.

At this point, I knew it was over. Shit like this just doesn’t happen to the Sox in a normal season. In a normal season, Torre would have pushed all the right buttons and Bellhorn’s insurance HR would have went foul. This team is special. And I don’t mean that "they ride the short bus and rub their crotches for fun" special. I mean that in a "you will probably never see another team like this in your lifetime" way special.

When Sierra grounded to Pokey to end the game, I didn’t even celebrate. I didn’t jump up out of my seat. I knew the conclusion already. The thing about this team that the Yankees will never understand is that the Sox are a TEAM in every sense of the word. They’re not a collection of All Stars and former All Stars. They band together and get shit done. When the Yanks were down, they all turned tail and scattered. When the Sox were down, they all came together and made something special happen.

From Papi’s heroics in games 4 and 5 to Schill’s superhuman performance in game 6 to Damon’s 2 HR 6 RBI performance in game 7, and everything in between, they played as a team. They knew it would take all 25 players to win this thing and they did it, as a unit.

Only Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams knew how to lift their team up. A-Rod, Sheff, Matsui, Brown, Vazquez and Lieber disappeared when the team needed them most. That’s almost $90,000,000 worth of choke artists right there, folks. Sheff, Jeter, Williams, Rivera and Torre are the only ones that will be safe from Steinie’s wrath this winter. Brian Cashman (the Yankees’ GM) looked like he was going to cry after the game. I hope he did.

As for me, I’ll watch the Series, but I feel like my team already won the World Championship.


Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Game ON!!!

Ok, if you didn’t see last night’s game, you may have missed the gutsiest performance in the history of baseball. Curt Schilling was simply incredible. The man pitched 7 innings of 1 run, 4 hit ball on an ankle that could have exploded at any time. The media wasn’t quite sure what the Boston doctors did to his ankle as was evidenced by Joe Buck’s announcement that "we’re not sure if that’s blood on his sock or Marcaine from the injections he received." Turns out that the Boston doctors sutured his tendon into place, which required making an incision in his ankle. Curt threw 99 pitches with a tendon stapled into place. He threw hard when he needed to and cruised when the situation allowed it. Superhuman performance, no doubt about it. I’ve never seen anything like it. Balls of steel (no not Buns of Steel, that department he could use a little work on).

The game was incredible, nerve wracking and intense. The umpires reversed two calls for the Red Sox, in Yankee Stadium. Both reversals were justified. They got both calls absolutely right. Bellhorn’s hit was a home run. The difference in the game. Good for him. The fans have been riding his ass since the beginning of the playoffs, and rightfully so. Terry Francona stuck with him, against the media's and fans' wishes, and it paid off.

The second reversal was a bit tougher. A-Rod slapping the ball out of Arroyo’s hand like a little bitch swatting at a pesky bug was bad enough, but then to act like he didn’t do anything wrong exposed him for the cheater he is.

Yeah, A-Rod, feel free to just grab Arroyo’s glove off his hand and chuck it into the stands next time. You whiny little bitch. Go buy yourself some high-priced hooker to bang your worries away. And after you’re done with her, go fuck yourself also.

When Foulke walked Sierra to make it two on, two out, winning run at the plate and a 3-2 count to Clark, my heart was jack hammering so badly that I thought I was gonna go into v-tach right there on my bed. I couldn’t even bear to sit up and watch the final inning.

The only thing I fear is that tonight’s game will be a little anti-climactic. You can only have this much intensity for so long before your central nervous system shuts down. I’ll be watching from my living room, two-fisting and chain-drinking Rolling Rocks and scarfing down Percoset like they were beer nuts.

If I don’t make it, please, when you speak of me to your friends, speak highly. God knows I tried.


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

I Don't Hate Many Things

Really. I don’t. But I hate, hate, HATE (to infinity and beyond! as my son would say) the Yankees. Hate them like they did something wretched to my family. Hate them like I hate paying taxes. Hate them like I hate stepping in doggy dung because some asshole decided that he didn’t need to clean up after his dog shat on the sidewalk. They are too corporate. Too clean cut. Too Steinbrenner, whom I believe is the Anti-Christ. To sum it up, the Yankees are against my religion.

I’ll run down the starting lineup to show you where my hatred lies. I’d do the whole team (yes, I hate every single one of them in their own special way), but, quite frankly, I don’t have that much time and energy.

Derek Jeter - The most likable of the Yankees. And yet I hate him. Dude is clutch in a way that makes you want to jump through the TV screen and strangle him until his green eyes are bouncing around in the dirt. I think this is where my hatred stems. He languishes in total mediocrity all year long, then when the clock turns from September to October, he’s like the second coming of Reggie Jackson (another person I hate). Mr. Jeter, yes you may bang cover models and own NYC, but I remain unimpressed.

Pay-Rod - This was Garrett’s first role model when he played in Seattle. Then, he took the money and ran. Hell, I can’t blame him. I’d have a hard time turning down 1/4 of a billion dollars to play baseball too. What I can blame him for is forcing a trade from the Rangers after realizing that he was the albatross around their collective necks. Mr. Rod, economics is a simple subject. If half of the team’s projected payroll is tied up in one person, then the rest of the team is going to suck. It shouldn’t have taken you three seasons to figure that out. And another thing, if I’m the Red Sox, your ass is getting buzzed up and in at least once an at bat. Maybe it'll wipe that arrogant fucking smirk off your face. Get used to being sprawled in the right-handed batter’s box.

Gary Sheffield - I’d hate him if I weren’t so utterly terrified of him. I tried to swing a bat as hard as he did once and I threw my back out. The thing I don’t like about Mr. Sheffield is that he only shows up when he has players around him to back him up. He cannot be “The Man.” They tried that in Florida, LA and Atlanta and he proved he couldn’t handle it. But if I meet him in person I'm kissin his ass until I can see my reflection in it.

Hideki Matsui - “Godzilla” or “Gardzirra” for all our Japanese readers. This guy never, and I mean NEVER smiles. Why I didn't see his glum mug on the World Series of Poker is beyond me, he's the king of the stone face! Oh wait, he's a Yankee, he already has more money than God, who needs to play poker? Like most Japanese players, he’s completely devoid of emotion as if Torre plugged him in at night when they were done playing. One of the highlights of last night’s game was seeing Pedro deck his ass, sending him sprawling. Most Honorable Mr. Matsui didn’t look quite as comfortable in the box afterward. And I loved every minute of it.

Bernie Williams - Another player who coasts through the regular season and decides to play hard in the postseason. Enjoy it, Bernie, this will be your last season in center. Hell, you weren’t supposed to play there this year. I mean the Yanks did sign Cool Papa Lofton, but then realized that he’s older than the United States Postal Service.

Jorge Posada - I don’t care what anyone says, his name is not “Hor-hey,” it’s “George.” I don’t mind Posada as much because he tends to disappear in the postseason.

John Olerud - I have a hard time hating Oly. He was one of my favorites when he was in Seattle. A quiet presence on the field, a great glove and great teammate. However, since he’s been in pinstripes, I hate him. Just because I can.

Ruben Sierra - The only hitter on the roster older than Smokey Joe Lofton. Huge hitch in his swing. Why everyone doesn’t throw him changeup after changeup low and away, I don’t know. Anyhow, I hate him just because he can’t do anything but DH.

Miguel Cairo - Who the fuck is Miguel Cairo? A .270 career hitter, you put him in a Yankee uniform and suddenly he’s involved in 10 pitch at bats, getting clutch hits and turning key double plays. I don’t get it. I hate him just because he was obviously sandbagging when he played for other teams.

The thing that sucks the most about this postseason is that I know that next year I will have to hate one of my favorite players. Georgie will sign Carlos Beltran to a contract that's roughly the GNP of Belieze. After that, next year, at this time, I will be rooting for him to get decked during every at bat.

Ok, I’m spent. Too much hatred. I have to conserve some energy for the game tonight, after all.


Friday, October 15, 2004

Input Needed

Ok, I'm in the market for what right now will be a third car, but will become my second car when my old 1997 Suzuki Esteem takes a dump on me. That could be any week now.

I've been offered the opportunity by one of my workmates to buy a 1987 Buick Grand National.

Now, if you don't know what that is, let me explain. In 1987, it was the quickest and fastest production car ever made in America. I drove one when I was seventeen and have wanted one ever since. Of course, in 1987, I didn't have the $22,000 to purchase one. Now that I have a little extra cash, I can buy it for $8,000.

The Grand National in question has a lot of pros and cons. The pros are - new $8,000 paint job, very clean, never raced, never smoked in, hella fast, well maintained, about to be a collector's item.

The cons are - 140,000 miles on the engine, needs a tune up, costly to maintain, gas mileage sucks, only takes premium fuel, insurance premiums are costly, mainly b/c they're stolen often, not a practical second car.

This is a hard decision for me because I've wanted one for the better part of two decades now. Do I realize my teenage dream of owning one, or do I go for practicality and/or economy and buy a used Honda or something?

What to do, what to do. Any input you guys have would be appreciated.


Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Random Wednesday

Ken Caminiti died on Monday. The first time I met Ken was when he was a fresh-faced, clean shaven ballplayer just starting his career with the Astros. Houston had just moved to Kissimmee, FL for spring training and my roommate, who pitched with their Single A affiliate, took me to practice one day. Upon meeting Ken, I couldn’t believe how accessible he was. We talked briefly and became friends. Cami was one of those ballplayers that you could see was destined for greatness. Not only was he a great ballplayer, he was my friend. We spent many an evening at Coach’s Corner in Kissimmee knocking back pitchers of Budweiser. Even though he looked scary, Ken was cordial, down-to-earth and very humble. Cami was a good man with a heart of gold. After Cami was traded, which is something he never wanted, we lost touch as San Diego’s spring training camp is in Arizona. Cami’s demons finally got the best of him. Despite his demons, he was a good man. Cami, 41 is much too young. You will be missed and I’m sorry we lost touch.

Red Sox-Yanks. Does it get any better than this? No, it simply does not. Growing up spending my summers on Cape Cod made me a Red Sox fan. The history between these two teams runs deep and intense. Last night’s tilt was no exception. In my opinion, the game came down to two pitches. Both were issued to Gary Sheffield. The first one was in the first inning. Shef had two strikes on him, Schil delivered a near perfect pitch that was called a ball. Shef hit the next pitch into left field for a single. If that pitch is called a strike, inning’s over, no damage done. The ump blew the call (was he counting the bribe money in his head, which caused him to NOT see the little white ball enter the catcher's glove INSIDE the strike zone? Hey, only he knows) and it cost the Sox dearly. The second one was in the 8th inning, same situation, two strikes, two outs (how many zeros was that again?). Timlin this time makes an absolutely perfect pitch, again it’s called a ball. Shef hits the next pitch into left for a single. That led to the two out, two run double over the head of a loafing Manny Ramirez (did Jeter slip a qualude in Manny's fitness water?) to make the score 10-7, a nearly insurmountable lead against Mariano Rivera (did someone say BBQ?). If the ump makes the right call in either situation, it’s a different ball game. He didn’t, so game 1 goes to the Yankees. My Sox hat ended up across the room when Mueller hit into the double play to end the game. Tonight, I will undoubtedly torture myself again because I have to tape the game as I won’t be home. I just wish I could somehow cut out Tim McCarver’s portion of the broadcast. He is absolutely maddening to listen to. He was practically ready to blow Rivera right there on the pitchers mound when he came into the game. Some of the adjectives he used were "incredible, unstoppable, unflappable, historical and sexy as hell." Ok, maybe I made that last one up, but geez Tim, couldn't you just give him a hand job before the game and call it even? On another note, I think a Red Sox fan should market a shirt that says, "Hey Mariano, barbecue at your house after the season?" Yes, I know it’s cruel, heartless and classless, but this is the YANKEES-RED SOX series. Pedro’s up tonight and you know the "Who’s your daddy" chants will last from the time he’s warming up before the game until he goes to sleep afterwards.


Friday, October 08, 2004

Debauchery, Vegas Style

"So, New York, New York?" I asked my buddy.

"Yep, when you see ESPN Zone, you’re gonna wet yourself." He replied.

"I already have," I said. "Did you see that blonde in the bikini? I love this fucking place. Usually when I wet myself the only excuse I had was that I was either too lazy or drunk to make the pilgrimage to the bathroom."

After I took a shower, primped, preened and made myself presentable (ok, all I did was throw some gel in my hair), off we went to become extremely inebriated. On the way out of the Stardust, I stopped by the lobby gift shop and picked up a HUGE fucking can of Coors for the car ride over to New York, New York, open container laws be damned. After all, I wasn’t driving, and the can can double as a urinal should the need arise, and we both know it will.

Upon arriving at NY, NY, we all piled out of our rented mini vans, gave the valet $10 to park them and all 14 of us sauntered through the front doors like we were VIPs. Now, my experience with Vegas casinos to this point has been the Stardust, which looks like the 70's puked and left it on the side of the road for all to see. This place, however, is un-fucking-believable. First of all, it’s so big that you could get lost if you’re not paying attention to where you’re going. There’s no "You Are Here" maps anywhere to be found. Second of all, there’s no clocks on the wall. Third, once you leave the doorway and head past the first bank of slot machines, you cannot see the light from the doorway any further.

We all head back to the ESPN Zone. The place is packed. Filled to capacity. My buddy goes in to see what the deal is and how long it would take us to get a table. First, he was informed that when the ESPN Zone is filled, it costs you $10 per hour, per person to sit at a table. In other words, if you don’t order $10 per hour, per person worth of beer, or whatever, they charge you that much anyhow. Ok, $140 an hour (there are 14 of us) to watch Sunday Night Football seems a little extreme to us. So, we all congregate and try to come up with an alternative plan.

We all decided to go ride the Manhattan Express, the huge roller coaster that’s one of the first things you see and hear when you arrive.

I’m totally into roller coasters. Love them to death. I haven’t ridden one in about 3 years (the last time I took the kids to Disney). So, we all pair up and get in line.We had managed to find some 2-for-1 tickets, so instead of $12.50 each, it’s going to be $6.25 each. Not too bad. I end up sitting with our aforementioned stud female third baseman and her pulled hammy. Well, unbeknownst to me, she is terrified of roller coasters. However, she neglects to tell me this until we’re on our way up the first drop. And when I say she tells me, I don’t mean she verbalized it. I mean she grabbed my hand and torqued my wrist backward until it was facing the wrong way. Great, we haven’t even made it to the top yet and my wrist is broken! This coaster ride is off to a rockin good start.

Once we’re at the top, you can see forever. The sun was setting over the strip. The whole city was bathed in a mixture of orange and yellow sunset mixed with all the searchlights that clicked on to light up each individual casino. After the initial drop, she seemed to ease her grip a little more and relax. However when we got to the loop-de-loop, she wrenched my hand so badly that it made the last time seem like we were just casually holding hands. Fuck! Ok, now I’m totally upside down, but my wrist seems to be right side up. I’m desperately trying to jerk my hand away from her, but she’s got the frickin’ vise grip of death on it, rendering me useless. The rest of the coaster ride was the same - hit a lull, she’d relax, hit a corkscrew, rip JP’s arm out of its socket, lather, rinse, repeat. When we returned to the starting point, she let go of my arm, which was barely operable by now.

As we exited the ride, they have a kiosk that are selling pictures that they managed to snap at some point. I look at our picture. There she is, mid-scream, eyes closed, terrified. There I am, definite look of pain, maybe terror. But not terror in the "I’m scared shitless" way. Terror in the "I'm really going to miss my left wrist" way. I decline to purchase it. My buddy declines to buy his picture as well, since it looks like they snapped his picture while he was taking a huge dump.

After we gathered our belongings from the locker (you can’t take anything on the coaster with you, lest it will end up on the ground at some point), we all decide to go to the Stratosphere and ride the coaster that’s 90 stories up and shoots you over the edge of the building.


However, it’s Sunday and they shut that coaster down at 8 p.m., so we settle for going back to the Stardust to eat dinner. After dinner (Tony Roma’s, not terribly exciting), about 8 of us decide to go to the Mandalay Bay and either go to Red Square, which is an ultra-cool vodka bar that features the top of the bar coated in a thick layer of ice, or Rum Jungle, which is an ultra-cool dance club.


We settle on the dance club. We each pony up the $20 cover charge (although some of my teammates were bitching loudly about it) and went in. I will spare you the details, since it was only us drinking (I scarfing down $10 Sapphire and tonics like they were going out of style), dancing and peeing (where is that Coors can when I need it?). I will say that one of my male teammates can cut a mean fucking rug. So much so that when he was on the dance floor, people stopped and watched him do his thang. I, however, am not so fortunate. Don’t get me wrong, I can carry a beat and shake my ass, but nothing like that dude. We closed the place down. Let me say that it was an absolute blast and I had more fun than I had in years.

We piled back into the van and headed back to the Stardust. Once there, two people had enough. They went back to the room to go to sleep. Two more wanted to gamble, which I most definitely did not. The remaining four of us ended up in the lounge, two fisting Sapphire and tonics along with Jaegermeister shots. This is where the night gets a little fuzzy for me. I do know at some point, I made my way back up to my room, because I woke up on the floor of it. The details of how I got there I really couldn’t tell you at all. I’m pretty sure that at some point crawling was involved.

We all woke up around 8 a.m., having to be at the airport at 10 to make our flight at noon. I spent that day staring at things through my sunglasses, no matter whether I was indoors or outdoors. I paid for my little drunkenness, but I really didn’t care. I’d do it all over again. Actually, I’d love to do it again real soon.

All in all, Vegas is a strange place. However, it is my new favorite place in the world. I will be returning soon. I just hope my next trip there is half as good as this one was.


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Vegas Baby!

The last of my teammates filed out of my hotel room in St. George at 3:30 a.m. We had gone through 2 cases of beer and a bottle of whiskey. The plan was to get up around 10, catch the continental breakfast downstairs, check out by 11 and head back to Vegas for an afternoon and evening of drinking, dancing and debauchery.

The wake up call comes at 10, but it feels like I just went to sleep an hour earlier. We all get out of bed and take turns in the shower. After packing up, we head out to make the 130 mile trek back to Vegas. This time in broad daylight. Let me just say that the trip on I-15 is absolutely gorgeous. More rock cliffs, the beginning of the Grand Canyon and miles upon miles of desert with mountains in the background.

After the road trip which included taking in all that gorgeous scenery, along with another stop for a female ballplayer that had to pee like a Russian racehorse, we arrived on the Vegas Strip. It’s a totally different world there, let me tell you. It oozes seediness and sex. Even in broad daylight. There are people handing out porn. There are others trying to drum up business for the legal whorehouses. There are still more people trying to hustle you for your last penny.

Along the way, some of my teammates were trying to find us rooms, to no avail. We ended up stopping at The Stardust, which is the home of Wayne Newton’s act. We went in to see if they had any rooms. They did, in fact have rooms. We ended up getting three suites, which could hold up to 5 people each. More than enough room and only $120 a night. Very reasonable. Very fun.

We got there fairly early (around 12:45), so only one of the rooms is ready. We have the bellhop bring up all the bags to that one room. Once there, this dude proceeds to sit and chat with us for 30 fucking minutes. If he was making small talk, it wouldn’t have been so bad. But this guy sat there and bitched about everything in his life for a solid half hour (I could have stayed home for that.). Not the best way to elicit a tip. He complained about his marriage, his job, the shitty little car he drives, his fucked up kids, so on and so forth (Wait, was that me or him? It's all a blur.). We all sat there in disbelief. At one point, one of my teammates said to him, "are you STILL complaining over there?" Anyhow, he left with $10 of our hard earned dollars (not bad for 20 bags). He would have gotten at least $1 a bag if he would have just shut the fuck up. Then, to top it off, he came back an hour later with one of my cd cases that he forgot to deliver. Then, while he was in the room, he proceeded to open the case up and look through it. We all stared at him in disbelief. I took the cd case from him and as he was holding out his hand, I gave him a hearty handshake and sent him on his way. After he left, it was discovered that he delivered two extra bags to our room. They weren’t ours. If this idiot would have put as much thought into his job as he did into bitching, he’d be running the fucking casino. We called the head bellhop dude and explained the situation...then we turned this guy in. I hope he lost his job. I mean, it’s one thing to complain about everything under the sun. It’s quite another to go through a guest’s personal belongings. He didn’t know that there were cd’s in that case. It could have been most anything.

After that fiasco was over, we all headed down to the bar to watch some football (it IS Sunday, after all) and drink some beer. We also hit a buffet while we were milling around. Let me just say that if I were to live in Vegas, I’d weigh a metric ton. The buffets are un-freaking-believable. Steak, chicken, prime rib, peel and eat shrimp, Chinese food, full salad bar, etc. All for $10. I stood in front of the dude that was cutting steak saying "Hit me, hit me, hit me; ok, I’ll stick." They got a little upset when I tried to take the whole tray of shrimp back to my table instead of using a plate. Other than that, it was a fantastic eating experience.

After football was over, we joined the women at the pool. All of them were shitfaced already. Let me just say that having six drunken females in Vegas is a great experience. I highly recommend it to everyone. We hung out at the pool for a couple of hours, then retired to our rooms to get ready for a night out on the Strip. The plan was to head to New York, New York to hit the ESPN Zone and the roller coaster and then head to Mandalay Bay for a night of drunken revelry.

The nighttime happenings deserve its own entry, so that’s just what it will get.


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Dashed Dreams In Utah's Dixie

After a crappy night’s sleep, I awoke at 6:30 and jumped in the shower. We have to be at the field by 7:30, so I quickly got cleaned up and went down to the hotel lobby for their continental breakfast (yes, I decided to forego the e-coli ridden food at Shoney’s).

At 7:15, we all piled into our respective rental vans and headed toward the fields. Not much was said along the way, although that could have been because we were blasting Rage Against the Machine. We arrived at the field at 7:25. As we’re warming up, I notice something different about our team. Usually loose and playful, everyone was tight-lipped and uptight. I figured we were all just uber-focused and let it go. The other team, who was from Canada, was laughing and joking around with each other. Looking at them from across the field, they were nowhere near as good as we are. Their men were marginal at best and their best female didn’t appear to be as good as our worst one.

We won the toss and elected to be the home team. Our pitcher, who is usually nails on the mound, walked the first two guys on eight pitches. Eight straight out of the strike zone. This is a guy that won’t throw eight balls out of the zone in a tournament. The problem is that in co-ed softball, when you walk a guy, the girl behind him has the option of walking as well. So, after two hitters, we’re down 1-0 and the bases are loaded. Things got progressively worse from there. After another walk to a female, two hits and an error by our second baseman, the score after ½ of an inning is 6-0. Now, we’re a team that scores a lot of runs. We’re talking an average of 12-15 a game, so six runs isn’t anything to us. Just to prove that, we come back in the bottom of the first and score four runs of our own.

That’s where the bottom fell out. We kept making mistake after mistake in the field while the opposing team just kept taking advantage of it. The Softball Gods were unkind to us that game. They’d hit a 45 hopper somewhere, and it would elude our gloves. They’d hit a Texas Leaguer and it would fall in between our infielders and outfielders as if someone threw it where nobody would be able to catch it. We’d hit a rocket shot, and it would be right at someone. Throughout the game, we had our chances to score runs, but just couldn’t get the big hit when we needed it.

In the bottom of the 7th inning, I came up with bases loaded and nobody out, and we’re losing 14-9. There’s a rule in this tournament eliminating home runs. This is so that you can’t stack your team with a bunch of HR hitters. The rule reads that if you hit a home run, not only are you out, but the opposing team gets a run. That’s the stupidest fucking rule I’ve ever heard in my life. Bar none. So, I come up to the plate, look around the field for the best place to hit the ball and there it is - right center field is wide assed open. There’s a hole in between the right center fielder and the right fielder large enough to drive an Army Hummer through. If I hit that gap, the score will be 14-12 and I’ll be on third with nobody out. I’m a clutch player. If there’s a game to be won or lost, I want the ball coming in my direction. I’ve succeeded many, many more times than I’ve failed in those types of situations.

First pitch comes in and it’s inside. I’m looking for something outside to drive that direction. Second pitch comes in and it’s fucking perfect, up and out over the plate where I can hit it hard into that gap. Crack - there it goes, headed right for the very spot I was aiming. I’m thinking as I’m running to first, ‘we so got this’ when the ball carries over the fence. I was stunned. Literally shocked. Still am when I think about it. Since we were playing at a higher elevation, the ball carries farther than it does here in Portland. If that ball would have circled the Earth and come back and hit me in the back of the head, I would have been less shocked than I was when I saw that ball leave the yard. So, instead of 14-12 with a runner on 3rd and no outs, it’s now 15-9 with the bases loaded and one out. We scored exactly one run in the inning and lost 15-10. Tournament over, for all intents and purposes. All the hard work, getting up at 5:30 a.m. in the winter to hit the gym, extra hitting at the cages in January, February and March, standing on a soppy, semi-frozen softball field in March taking ground balls until my arm was ready to fall off, is all for naught. I thought this was supposed to be ya know, FUN?

Now, it was only our first loss, so theoretically we had a shot to win the tournament. However, since it’s a 32 team tournament, double-elimination format, it’s going to take 14 straight wins to win the damn thing. Not that we aren’t capable of running off 14 wins, but you’re talking seven games on Saturday (including the one we just played) and 8 on Sunday, so we’re going to be pretty gassed by Sunday afternoon.

We’re all a pretty dejected group after what just happened to us sinks into our collective heads. We should win this tournament. We’ve won four tournaments this year and came in second in a couple more. We’ve beat better teams than the one we just lost to in our sleep. We’re a close bunch of friends, who never berate or chide one another. We have fun and win games. We also never say die. We’re close during the winter and even closer during the summer. We party and play together. It’s fucking killing me to see my teammates like this, especially when I had a shot to bring us to the brink of winning that game and I failed. Miserably.

We came out with a "can-do" attitude for the second game, against another team from Canada. We won that game, but we had disaster strike. Our stud female third baseman pulled a hamstring running the bases. Shit. Our best hitter and defender is hurt, but valiantly trying to play, and just like that our chances are a little bit more remote.

We end up running off six straight wins, including a game where we scored 23 runs in the first inning of a game against yet another team from Canada. I swear that half the population of Alberta was in St. George that weekend. In the last game of the evening, we are totally spent. We lose to a team from somewhere other than Canada. I was so tired, I don’t even remember the score. I think it was like 11-7. I made an error in the 5th inning of that game and didn’t even have the energy to get upset at myself. Tourney over, thanks for coming. See you next year.

The coach of our team congratulated us on a good tournament and our never-say-die attitudes. A few of the women were crying because they had sold out. Hell, even I was convinced from day one that we were going to win this thing. I didn’t think it was possible for us to get beat there.

It was about 9:00 p.m. when we got back to our hotel. The day for us had started a scant 14 hours earlier. Being the rational degenerates that we are, we all decided to drink massive amounts of alcohol and pack up first thing in the morning and head to Vegas.

But that’s another story for another day. Stay tuned.


Friday, October 01, 2004

A Boring Friday In Utah's Dixie

After crash landing on my bed at 2:30 a.m. in Utah, I felt like I slept for at least 10 hours. No dice. I looked over at the clock and the time was 7:08 a.m. Dammit! Not even five full hours of sleep. I always sleep like shit away from my huge bed and it appears that this trip will be no different, no matter how sleep deprived I become.

I stumble blindly to the bathroom, jump in the shower and get ready for the day. We don’t play today, so it’s pretty much open to do whatever we want to do. By the time I get out of the bathroom, my best friend is also up and we decide to go to Shoney’s for breakfast. After that, we took a trip down to the fields for a look. It is beautiful in St. George. Towering cliffs of red rock as far as the eye can see. Bright sunshine, very warm, absolutely no humidity. The fields are gorgeous, situated in a valley. See for yourself.


Anyhow, after taking that in, we all decide to head back to the hotel to hang by the pool, drink beer, play cards and get LOUD. Let’s just say mission accomplished and leave it at that. No sense bringing the front desk into this discussion. At about 2:30, I went back to the room and caught an hour of sleep.

The plan was to go to a park and hit at 5:30. 5:15 rolls around and we do just that. We hit for about two hours and then head back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. There’s a little tension among the team for the rest of the evening. Everyone is very excited about the tournament tomorrow. Dinner is rather low key at Ruby Tuesday’s.

All in all a pretty boring day. In the next installment, you’ll see how quickly dreams turn to impossibilities while you stand helpless, unable to stop it from unfolding right before your eyes.


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