Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Stolen content - Otherwise I would be captioning photos, lol

The Ugly Party vs. the Grown-Up Party

By Michael Gerson
Wednesday, June 30, 2010; A17

My political friendships and sympathies are increasingly determined not by ideology but by methodology. One of the most significant divisions in American public life is not between the Democrats and the Republicans; it is between the Ugly Party and the Grown-Up Party.

This distinction came to mind in the case of Washington Post blogger David Weigel, who resigned last week after the leak of messages he wrote disparaging figures he covered. Weigel is, by most accounts, a bright, hardworking young man whose private communications should have been kept private. But the tone of the e-mails he posted on a liberal e-mail list is instructive. When Rush Limbaugh went to the hospital with chest pain, Weigel wrote, "I hope he fails." Matt Drudge is an "amoral shut-in" who should "set himself on fire." Opponents are referred to as "ratf -- -ers" and "[expletive] moronic."

This type of discourse is an odd combination between the snideness of the cool, mean kids in high school and the pettiness of Richard Nixon rambling on his tapes. Weigel did not intend his words to be public. But they display the defining characteristic of ugly politics -- the dehumanization of political opponents.

Unlike Weigel, most members of the Ugly Party -- liberal and conservative -- have little interest in keeping their views private. "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh," Ann Coulter once said, "is he did not go to the New York Times building." Radio host Mike Malloy suggested that Glenn Beck "do the honorable thing and blow his brains out." Conservatives carry signs at Obama rallies: "We Came Unarmed (This Time)." Liberals carried signs at Bush rallies: "Save Mother Earth, Kill Bush." Says John Avlon, author of "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe Is Hijacking America," "If you only take offense when the president of your party is compared to Hitler, then you're part of the problem."

The rhetoric of the Ugly Party shares some common themes: urging the death or sexual humiliation of opponents or comparing a political enemy to vermin or diseases. It is not merely an adolescent form of political discourse; it encourages a certain political philosophy -- a belief that rivals are somehow less than human, which undermines the idea of equality and the possibility of common purposes.

Such sentiments have always existed. But the unfiltered media -- particularly the Internet -- have provided both stage and spotlight. Now everyone can be Richard Nixon, threatening opponents and composing enemies lists.

But the Internet is also a permanent record, as Weigel found. His reaction to exposure was honest and admirable. He admitted to being "cocky" and "needlessly mean" -- the kind of introspection that promises future contribution. But when members of the Ugly Party are exposed, generally they respond differently. Obscenity? The real obscenity is an unjust war, or imposing socialism or devotion to Israel. It is an argument that makes any deep policy disagreement an excuse for verbal violence. Or an offense against taste and judgment is dismissed as humor and satire.

The alternative to the Ugly Party is the Grown-Up Party -- less edgy and less hip. It is sometimes depicted on the left and on the right as an all-powerful media establishment, stifling creativity, freedom and dissent. The Grown-Up Party, in my experience, is more like a seminar at the Aspen Institute -- presentation by David Broder, responses from E.J. Dionne Jr. and David Brooks -- on the electoral implications of the energy debate. I am more comfortable in this party for a few reasons: because it is more responsible, more reliable and less likely to wish its opponents would die.

Many of the entrepreneurs of the new media, on left and right, are talented, vivid and entertaining. Many are also squandering important things they do not value. They are making politics an unpleasant chore, practiced mainly by the vicious and angry, and are feeding dangerous resentments in a volatile time.

Eventually, all edginess becomes old. Obscenity reaches the limits of language. People read yesterday's hot blogger, watch yesterday's cable star, roll their eyes and say, "Not again." And maybe then the Grown-Up Party will prove more enduring and interesting after all.


Let's start with a little something funny shall we? Yeah, there will be plenty of time to get into all of the suckiness that has been the month of June, but I begin with a story of something a little more light hearted.

Friday we had another of our employee forays to the 110 bar across from work. Given how long it has been since we went out, it seemed like a good time to just unwind, plus there has been plenty of crap going on at work, so a little stress relief was in order. So much so that I went ahead and picked that most dangerous of poisons to drink, the Long Island Iced Tea. They really should rename that drink, like Minderaser or something (yes I know, there already is a drink called that) because of the gaps that get left in my memory after imbibing too many of them. Friday was no exception to that rule, I drank many and they were good, but I will be honest, I am not sure just how the hell I got home. I have no recollection of getting on the bus, but I must have because I have a small recollection of getting off of it and staggering my way into Arby's, where I ordered some sort of roast beef value meal. I vaguely remember eating the sandwich, presumably on my walk home because when I woke up the next day, the only evidence that my mind was not playing tricks on me was that the beverage that came with the meal was sitting on the kitchen counter, so I either ate the food on the walk home and dispatched of the rest of the evidence or I was so drunk I went ahead and ate the bag and wrapper as well.

If that would have been my only problem I would have considered Friday a no harm, no foul sort of evening, anything you can walk away from can't be all bad and all that jazz, save for the fact that my glasses came up missing. So I am blind as a bat, or close to it and I still have to go into work Saturday and try to place an order, when movement was one of the last things on my mind, even less so with no vision. I figure the most obvious place to look for my glasses are under the bed. See, I have this bad habit where I will often go to bed with a book or magazine and do some light reading, then take off my glasses and set them at the head of the bed. If I roll around too much I have a tendency of knocking them off the bed, so I was hoping that in my drunken stupor I would have at least followed pattern and set them there and just knocked them off. But after foraging under my bed and through my stacks of reading material near the bed no glasses were forthcoming. Now I used to have a backup pair of glasses but one of the lenses broke and I never went about getting them repaired, so my option was either wear a pair of glasses where I could see out of one eye, or navigate a very blurry world. I opted for blurriness, but took my broken glasses with me to work so that should there be anything I actually did need to see, I could slip them on real quick, get a visual confirmation and then throw them back in my pocket before I looked like a complete and utter moron. It worked and I managed to get the order in and hop a bus back home in short order but it still didn't solve the problem of where my glasses were. I looked in all of the places I could think of that might have been logical, and even some that weren't. I knew when I got home that night I apparently undressed as I went through the apartment, shirt in the kicthen, pants in the bathroom, wallet here, keys there, just a complete and utter clusterfuck and my lack of memory wasn't helping matters. It wouldn't be for another day before I would find my glasses, and they would be half buried in a hamper of clean clothes. Apparently I took them off when I got it Friday night and laid them on top of it, maybe assuming I would get my next days clothes from there in the morning, but it was drunken logic so who can really be sure, anyway they sort of slid down the side and became lost, or were just planning their escape.  After all, they didn't do me any good Friday when I ordered a round of Long Islands for our table, 6 in all, only to realize there were only 5 of us there.

Okay, story's done, which is good because by and large the rest of this month has pretty much sucked.

It all started back with the closing our store downtown and subsequent moving of inventory from the one store to our other locations that I blogged about a mere month ago. Well it turns out there was more fallout from that little project than me getting to do more work. Apparently, as well as the cigarette problem I had mentioned previously, there were some discrepancies with the lottery in that store as well. I know very little of the details, so I can't lay out for you the exact problems as they pertain to tickets and money, only that the books didn't balance. This, on top of the over ordering of cigarettes, led to Ed firing the manager at that store, Patty. I am not going to get all finger pointy here, because I like both parties and like I said, I really don't know enough about the particulars to make an informed opinion one way or the other, so I will just stick with the simple fact that the end result was Patty was let go. Thankfully I wasn't asked to take over, I am quite content with the amount of work I have already, though I did find myself meeting with reps for that store, as Ed was trying to get everything back under control there, including doing everything in a uniform fashion amongst all the stores. That is something I can agree with, all of the paperwork should be the same, we shouldn't have three different stores doing things three different ways, but really I have enough problems with one store without taking on the ordering of another one.

Next was Ed missing time from work, he was going in for eye surgery, he had a detached retina or something along those lines. I was hoping this would give me a chance to blow through some of the back stock that is once again cluttering up the basement at work, between the excess inventory from the store we closed and more bookings Ed signed up for I am finding we are stuck with more crap that we just can't sell. It seems like I spend 6 months out of the year getting everything organized, followed by 6 months of finding room for excess stuff that I will spend the next half year trying to get rid of again.

If work were the only problem then I would guess that life would be okay, but my grandmother has been having more health issues, bouncing everywhere from the ICU to a temporary assisted living place and back and forth for the better portion of a month now. Things go bad, they admit her to the hospital, they start to get better so they release her to supervised care and then the process takes on a whole wash, rinse, repeat aspect. Right now she would like to be home, but at this point unless there is going to be someone there with her 24 hours a day I can't see how that is a plausible outcome. Whether it be a family member or a live in nurse, there is no real practical way she can be home alone anymore. I'll be honest, if it were me I don't know how long I would keep fighting the battle she is fighting, after all, all of her kids are more than grown, hell all of her grandkids, myself included, are almost all grown, yet everytime she is potentially on the brink of something catastrophic there she is fighting back yet again. It is an amazing almost force of will which I question whether or not I, if in the same position, would have. 

I was also kind of bummed out that I wasn't going to spend my birthday with my friends this year.  Not that I make a big deal out of birthdays to begin with, after all I have had 41 of them so far and other than last year's surprise party, celebrating them has been a hit and miss thing, usually miss.  I can remember maybe three of them, and one of them was my 21st, one I shouldn't be able to remember if I have lived up to my newly minted legal drinking status, but by and large, save for a card or two, they really are just another day on the calendar for me.  That being said, this year my birthday was going to fall on a Friday and I was hoping to spend the day with some coworkers having a few pops as the old timers like to say, but as luck would have it, with my grandmother's unsure medical condition, and the fact my cousin Brandi was having her graduation party the following Saturday, so I decided to instead make a trip home for the weekend. 

My mom and her husband picked me up and we decided to venture out to dinner, they wanted to show me a new Mexican restaurant that had opened since the last time I had been home.  Now my family are not much along the lines of cultural eaters, more bsaic American fare folks, so the idea that they wanted to go out for Mexican intrigued me.  There are plenty of foreign places to go in Indiana, PA, but I rarely get to sample any of their concoctions.  I have suggested places in the past, but the cuisine didn't agree with somebody in the party and we would end up getting somethging simple like pizza instead.  So we pull up to this place called Tres Amigos, in a place formerly occupied by a Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchise, and are seated in the dining room and I opted for a steak burrito offering and what do they get?  One gets a chicken breast and french fries, the other gets a chicken salad.  Yes, we went to a Mexican restaurant and then they didn't even eat any Mexican food.  As for what I had, it was okay, certainly nothing special, I wouldn't reccommend them over other places I have been, save for maybe Taco Bell, but it wasn't god awful either.

Saturday we go to the graduation party, being held in my hometown, dot on the map, known as Elderton PA, specifically at vthe Elderton-Plumcreek Area Park, also known as the Jack Quinn Sports Complex.  The thing is, as a kid I actually got to watch the park be built, and it is named after the man who did most of the heavy lifting in getting it done, Jack Quinn.  Mr. Quinn was the phys ed teacher at my high school, as well as the man who started the boy's soccer team, as well as started and coached the boy's volleyball team for the school.  Originally an area that used to be an overgrown weeded area that some people had used to dump garbage, through Mr Quinn's tireless work, both in securing funding for the park and overseeing its construction, he turned it into sort of a jewel for a town that has very little.  It currently has a playground, softball/little league field, playground, two pavillions, 5 outdoor racquetball courts, three tennis courts, a basketball court, a nature trail and a horseshoe pitch. 

Usually I would take the time at a family event like this to take some pictures of the family getogether, but instead I figured this time I would take my camera and take pictures of my hometown instead.  After all, it isn't that big so a quick stroll of some picture taking wouldn't take all that long.  So, let the picture taking begin,

This would be one of the pavillions at the park, the one that the family was gathered under for the most part.  Many of the parts of the park, like this pavillion, were named after people that had a hand in the park's construction, either via contribution, actual labor or both.

Here is the softball/little league field, and probably the crown jewel of the park.  It has played host to playoff games for girl's high school softball and little league baseball playoff games as well.  Originally the fence was actually abot a foot further back, but the outfield wall was only three feet high, as opposed to its current height, which is probably closer to 7 feet or so.  The thing was, the original wall as it neared the left field corner, had a large hill but the hill was held back with with a reinforcement of staggered railroad ties, so if a ball did go out of the park, (any ball that hit above the three foot mark was technically a home run) it could end up getting caught up in the ties, and the ties didn't offer enough support for the hill so eventually they went in and just replaced it with a concrete reinforcement and moved the fence in a foot so no one would go running full speed to catch a ball and slam into a cement wall.   Now I am not much of a baseball player, I played maybe one year of minor league ball (the classification under Little League, not the professional minors by any stretch) and during some summers I would play on some softball league teams that used the field.  The thing was I had never hit a ball out of that park, maybe I was never much of a power hitter, maybe I had a mental block about it.  It wasn't something that ever weighed on my mind all that much, but during the graduation party some of us brought ball gloves.  We didn't play any organized game, mostly just lobbing balls into the kids so they could get some swings and then making half hearted attempts to tag them as they ran around the bases.  Later my uncle Will and I went out to shag some fly balls, each of us taking turns at home plate just tossing the ball up and knocking it skyward in hopes that the other person could get under it and catch it.  The thing is I haven't picked up a bat in about 8 years and yet the first time I tried to hit him a fly ball I accidentally hit it out, smacking it off of the concrete beyond the left field wall.

This would be the playground area of the park and probably my biggest heartbreak to see it had changed.  See, originally the swings at the left side of the sandy area were not there and the playground equipment was.  Where the playground equipment was was actually a sandlot volleyball court.  I know, a podunk town in the middle of nowhere having a sandlot volleyball court.  Even better, the court had lights and there were many a summer night where a bunch of us would show up and start playing a game, no real rhyme or reason to it, there wasn't a phone tree or anything to call people and say show up at such and such a time and play until whenever, we would just kind of show up, I guess there was a little planning involved in when we would get there, but we would just start playing, teams changed in number as people came and went and we would play until 10 or 11 at night, fiuring up the lights when we needed to.  It is sad that there aren't enough young people left in town to continue to do fun things like that and that even if there were there would now be no place to do it.



This would be the park's concession stand.  I am not sure how often it is open anymore, I imagine it would only be when there is a Little League or softball game scheduled.  I do know it wasn't open when I was there for the party, though we had plenty of food so it wasn't like I would have needed it to be open.  There is a press box on the top floor of the stand, which overlooks the baseball field where an announcer can sit, though I can't imagine anyone making a living calling games there. Just beyond the concession stand are 5 outdoor racquetball courts, another unique feature in that racquetball is usually played indoors, on one of those box type, 6 sided rooms.  The difference with an outdoor court is that there is no wall in the back of the court, and the side walls only come halfway down, just to the end of the server box, so while in the indoor game there are no areas that are out of bounds, on the outdoor courts you can hit a ball wide, long, or even too high since you can hit a ball over the front wall of the court as well.


And this would be some of the tennis courts, sadly like some of the park they are falling into a state of disuse.  Unlike the ballfield, there are no tennis teams or leagues in the area that would use the courts.  In fact, while when originally built there were 4 tennis courts, they were used so little that one of the courts was replaced with a basketball court.  I admit that I wasn't much of a tennis player even when I lived there, I like the game and can enjoy watching it, but lack even a modest skill set to compete at it.    


This would be Elderton Jr Sr High School, where I spent all of my educational youth.  Since it is connected to Elderton Elementary, I spent all 13 grades, kindergarten through 12th in either this building or the elementary school, which if it fit in the photo would be just to the right of the high school.  The school was closed last school year, as part of a cost cutting plan of the Armstrong School District, of which Elderton is a member.  The school district covers a large area, roughly 436 square miles, or almost all of Armstrong County itself, and many of the communities like Elderton are small little out of the way hamlets like Rural Valley and Dayton to name two and has many schools like Elderton with smaller enrollments where a question of the cost of keeping the school open is a question that has to be asked.

This sign was actually a project that was started during my senior year of high school by our student council, of which I was a member, though I have to admit that I had little to do with it being erected.  I did many things while in student council, I chaired the most successful canned food drive in school history, chaired a successful hosting of a district student council conference, pulling a joint venture between us and Homer Center High School, where our former principal had become superintendent, attended two distict, two state and two national student council conferences, including presenting a workshop at the 87 conference in Buffalo, New York with my friend and coconspirator, Bob and even lobbying to get the first soda machine installed in the high school, thus beginning my long war against nutrition that I fight to this day as I smoke a cigarette while I type this blog.  All that being said, I did relatively nothing when it came to having this sign installed.  'Nuff said.

This would be Main Street in Elderton.  No real particular reason to take this photo, save for the fact that you can notice some of the flags that were made mention of in the Fox News video posting I made a while back. 

This would be a prime example of what I mean when I suggest that all politics are local.  Say hello to HERO, a rather cool name for a group if ever there was one.  The group, Help Elderton Remain Open, was founded when the Armstrong School District opted to close Elderton High School as a group that would try to find a way to get the school board to keep the school open.  Originally their plans fell on deaf ears, the next option for HERO was to see if another school district might take over Elderton.  After going to court against the Armstrong School District, HERO won the right to see if Elderton might be absorbed into another school district.  While there was some interest. mostly from the Apollo Ridge School District, those plans fell through as well due in large part to money, the cost of operating the school and absorbing its current debt load versus the incoming money from the Elderton area as a tax base was not a financial win for anyone else, so nobody opted to take over the school.  The third and most successful venture to this point was the recent school board elections, you know, those elections that get no press coverage because they aren't pretty and don't have the glamour candidates of say, presidential elections,  but where by and large, a huge amount of your tax dollars are spent.  Well the proponents of HERO were able to get enough people to the polls to vote for candidates that wanted the school reopened that when the newly constituted school board revisited the issue, a 5-4 vote determined that for the coming school year the high school would be reopened.  The sad can of worms here is, after seeing this happen in Pittsburgh, is that now this will end up becoming a recurring theme, every election wil result in an open/close/open/close back and forth based solely on whoever gets their people to the polls, and not on an actual realistic and definitive assessment on whether the school should be open on not.  Yeah, you would think a blog like this would escape politics and yet you would be mistaken.


Say hello to Elderton State Bank.  This is the epitome of small town banks, they have two or three total branches and were one of the last banks I know that joined on to the whole ATM craze, waiting until well into the 1990s to adopt early 80s technology. That being said, I did have an account with them for years, one that just sat there for ages with little to no money in it, it was a trust account set up when I was a kid, where I could only have access to it if I had my mother's approval, I was not allowed to take money out of it othertwise.  Needless to say, I wasn't about to dump money into an account I couldn't access, especially when I couldn't use an ATM card for it and I didn't want to have to drag my family to the bank when I wanted some cash, so I just let the account fall into disuse until they finally sent me check for the balance that was there after years of inactivity.

This would be the Elderton Post Office, where I was the proud holder of box #23 for many years, probably too many truth be told.  I would pay the rent on the box, something like $5 a year, even though I was living in Pittsburgh and had rarely checked the mail there.  On the bright side, on those few times a year where I did get my mail I always had plenty it was like Christmas morning of the junk mail set.


If ever you had a doubt about how small of a town I used to live in, consider that this dirt road is in the middle of town, running parallel to Main Street.  Much like the bank not adopting ATM technology, the town hasn't fully grasped the concept of asphalt either.

Elderton Country Market, formerly Grey's Country Market was the winner of the grocery store battle of my childhood when the town tried supporting two stores, this one and Aiken's Market.  Aiken's had it's charm, it had a candy case and lots of penny candies which are always cool when you are a kid, but didn't have the overall selection of Grey's and eventually would lose the store battle, existing for a while as a hardware store instead, but that veture also failed.  The building sat vacant for a while and is now remodeled and being run as a restaurant, though I question how well a restaurant will do in that small of a town, especialy with two other places already in town and plenty of choices well within driving distance, but at least it is something in a town that has little.

With that being said, you have seen pretty much all of the sites that are to be seen in my hometown, leaving just this picture on the camera, my uncle Fred throwing horseshoes back at the party.  As it turns out, there is a horseshoe story as well.  As you can see, the typical pitch has two pegs, one on each end and running between the two, where the players are supposed to walk are two strips of cement.  Well, later in the day I decided I would throw a few shoes, I am not that good and I really wasn't playing anyone in a match, I was just tossing a few here and there more as a way to pass time when my cousin, Ethan, decided to join me.  Again we weren't keeping score or anything, just tossing them to see if we could get a ringer or two, when Ethan threw one of his horseshoes and it hit the concrete strip, short and to the left of the pit.  The thing was, and I don't know how it happened, but the horsheshoe split literally in half, with one half shooting more or less forward and the other jutting off to the left.  It was the certainly the craziest horseshoe related thing I had ever seen, considering that the shoes are usually made of a cast metal, so if you tried breaking them it would be problematic at best, yet by sheer circumstance it just happened anyway.

And thus concludes my trip to my hometown.  I spent another night and the next day with my family, spending some time with my grandma at her assisted care place and going out to eat at an Italian restaurant where, surprise surprise, my family actually ate Italian food as opposed to ordering something completely different. 

Wow, this is really long, yet I don't think it would be complete without me pointing out that June did prove I was right in one regard.  Earlier this year I had mentioned that the local baseball team was doing a smoke and mirrors act, that while remaining within shouting distance of a .500 record, none of the numbers involved with the team suggested that pace could be expected to continue and after June I think I can say with certainty that I was right.  The Pittsburgh Pirates took to June like I take to relationships, winning 6 games and losing 20 in the month.  Interspersed in that mess of a month were a 12 game losing streak, a 17 game road losing streak and some stuff that would make Comedy Central proud.  See, when you start stacking losses up, the obvious questions start being brought up about whether the team is taking the right direction, if not who is to blame, so naturally questions about the future employment status of the general manager Neal Huntington and manager John Russell were bound to be asked.  Would they stay or would they go?  No comment had been forthcoming from ownership, no vote of confidence one way or the other and with what was believed to be just one year remaining on both of their contracts it seemed plausible that they both could be lame ducks.  Except that apparently ownership extended both of their contracts for an additional year last October and didn't bother telling anyone, hell they even made Neal and John keep a veil of silence about the issue, so that when they were asked about it they couldn't say anything.  Only because someone who works for the Pirates leaked the information to Fox Sports was it actually put out there that the contract extensions were made at all.  To make matters worse, the Pirates run a gimmick during their home games called Pierogi Races, where 4 people are dressed in pierogi costumes (Jalepeno Hannah, Sauerkraut Saul, Cheese Chester, and Oliver Onion) and they race around the field once a game between innings.  It has become a little bit of a tradition, and on the scoreboard they keep a running tally of who wins the most races each season.  Sometimes they are regular races, sometimes the Pirate Parrot or someone else will comedically influence the outcome of the race and it makes for a nice distraction, certainly better than what is taking place on the field most nights.  Well, after the surpise announcement of the contract extensions of the general manager and manager, one of the persons who dresses up in the Peirogi costume wrote on his Facebook page soemthing along the lines of that guaranteeing a 19th consecutive losing season.  The result was, despite the actual team losing 20 of 26 games, it was the Pierogi that got fired.  Of course that didn't sit well with the locals, people called the offices of the Pirates complaining so the Pierogi was then rehired, proving the old adage that you can't keep a good Pierogi down, but a baseball team can be kept down in perpetuity.

Okay, I have officially blathered longer than is enough, and hopefully this makes up for not captioning the photos that I previously posted.  If not, oh well, my fingers are too tired to go fix the pictures now.

Monday, June 28, 2010

T I T I T #3 The World Cup edition

This one is so easy it almost writes itself, but really it is the "why soccer sucks" edition.

1)  No instant replay - Just how many blown calls does there have to be before instant replay is actually used in this sport anyway?  I watched very little of the action and saw two blown goals by the referees, one which cost the US a goal, another which cost England.  And let's not forget, save for a blown hand ball call in France's favor they may not even have qualified for the World Cup.  If this is the world's most popular sport, as I have had drilled into my head time and time again these last couple of weeks, why the fuck don't they care if they get the calls right or not?  And it is not just blown calls, but the absolute lack of accountability after the fact.

2)  Injury time - Just what the hell is this?  Some guy just arbitrarily guesses how much time is left in a game based on assumptions of how much time was lost due to injury.  Here's a novel concept, if there is no action taking place, just stop the fucking clock.  This isn't brain surgery here, when there is action taking place the clock runs, when there isn't it stops and at the end of 45 minutes play is halted, rather than having the clock run out, but it really didn't run out and no one is sure exactly how much time is left bullshit.

3)  No scoring - I'll admit I am not one of those people who needs to see a ton of scoring to have an enjoyable sporting experience.  Some of the best games I have seen have involved little scoring, like a baseball no hitter, or a shut out in a hockey game.  The difference being I am actually seeing something there, a rarity as it were.  I may see a dominating pitching performance or some great defensive plays, or a hockey goalie make 20 to 30 saves, in soccer I may see the goalie make three saves with a goal as wide as a fucking barn door.  That's not cool, that is just boring as sin.  I sat through half of a 0-0 tie and the only thing I thought was that was 45, 46, 47 48, 49 minutes (who really knows, they just make that up) of my life that I will never get back.

4)  Skills competition - As bad as ties are in pool play I can almost tolerate them (though the 0-0 games are mind numbingly boring) and I understand the need for a winner once you get the field down to a 16 team single elimination format, but let me see if I understand this correctly, if a game remains tied after regulation and a 30 minute period of extra time, we then turn it into a skills competition which has almost nothing to do with actually playing soccer, but instead involves the great skill of standing in front of a net as wide as the side of a barn and kicking a ball into it without missing it?  Hey you want to have a "friendly" and use a skills cometition to determine a winner, by all means go for it, heck the NHL uses a shootout during the regular season, they just aren't foolish enough to do it in the postseason, the winner is determined on the playing field.  This is akin to determining the Super Bowl winner based on a field goal kicking contest.  But yet the best soccer team in the world can be determined using a process that has less skill than the dunking booth at the local carnival.

There are plenty of sports out there that I actually enjoy watching, everything from football, baseball, basketball, hockey here in the states to curling, rugby, Australian Rules Football, tennis, etc. that I can't be bothered with this boring as watching paint dry nonsense. 


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I share because my blog entry isn't done

I know, technically I haven't really blogged in almost a month now, well for me it has been a month.  Sure I threw some things on the page, but while they may pass for blog entries I do not consider them as such.  For me a blog entry is something about me, a stream of consciousness rambling that I throw out there with little idea of where it will go.  I am not one that stands over his computer plotting out each and every word, looking for the right turn of phrase to elicit a reaction, if one comes from it great, but that isn't the objective, it is more about me just unloading all of the crap that has built up in my cranium and there is a lot there right now, one of the reasons I haven't blogged.  Another reason I haven't blogged is that I do enjoy other pursuits, like reading and spending time with friends and family, this page is far from the be all, end all for me, it is just a small piece of the entire package. 

Okay, before this turns into a blog entry I thought that I might share one of my distractions instead, reading.  I have mentioned a couple of times, either here or on Facebook, that I was reading Andre Agassi's autobiography and rather than just talk about it, I thought I might steal part of it and throw it out to the masses to see one of the things that does keep me from actually blogging.  So if reading isn't fundamental for you, turning around now is probably the best option, for the rest happy reading, but be warned I am not going to print the entire book here, if you want it you have to go out and buy it.

About the Author

Andre Agassi played tennis professionally from 1986 to 2006. Often ranked number one, he captured eight Grand Slam singles championships. Founder of the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, he has raised more than $85 million for the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy for underprivileged children in Las Vegas, where he lives with his wife, Stefanie Graf, and their two children.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


I open my eyes and don’t know where I am or who I am. Not all that unusual—I’ve spent half my life not knowing. Still, this feels different. This confusion is more frightening. More total.

I look up. I’m lying on the floor beside the bed. I remember now. I moved from the bed to the floor in the middle of the night. I do that most nights. Better for my back. Too many hours on a soft mattress causes agony. I count to three, then start the long, difficult process of standing. With a cough, a groan, I roll onto my side, then curl into the fetal position, then flip over onto my stomach. Now I wait, and wait, for the blood to start pumping.

I’m a young man, relatively speaking. Thirty-six. But I wake as if ninety-six. After three decades of sprinting, stopping on a dime, jumping high and landing hard, my body no longer feels like my body, especially in the morning. Consequently my mind doesn’t feel like my mind. Upon opening my eyes I’m a stranger to myself, and while, again, this isn’t new, in the mornings it’s more pronounced. I run quickly through the basic facts. My name is Andre Agassi. My wife’s name is Stefanie Graf. We have two children, a son and daughter, five and three. We live in Las Vegas, Nevada, but currently reside in a suite at the Four Seasons hotel in New York City, because I’m playing in the 2006 U.S. Open. My last U.S. Open. In fact my last tournament ever. I play tennis for a living, even though I hate tennis, hate it with a dark and secret passion, and always have.

As this last piece of identity falls into place, I slide to my knees and in a whisper I say: Please let this be over.

Then: I’m not ready for it to be over.

Now, from the next room, I hear Stefanie and the children. They’re eating breakfast, talking, laughing. My overwhelming desire to see and touch them, plus a powerful craving for caffeine, gives me the inspiration I need to hoist myself up, to go vertical. Hate brings me to my knees, love gets me on my feet.

I glance at the bedside clock. Seven thirty. Stefanie let me sleep in. The fatigue of these final days has been severe. Apart from the physical strain, there is the exhausting torrent of emotions set loose by my pending retirement. Now, rising from the center of the fatigue comes the first wave of pain. I grab my back. It grabs me. I feel as if someone snuck in during the night and attached one of those anti-theft steering wheel locks to my spine. How can I play in the U.S. Open with the Club on my spine? Will the last match of my career be a forfeit?

I was born with spondylolisthesis, meaning a bottom vertebra that parted from the other vertebrae, struck out on its own, rebelled. (It’s the main reason for my pigeon-toed walk.) With this one vertebra out of sync, there’s less room for the nerves inside the column of my spine, and with the slightest movement the nerves feel that much more crowded. Throw in two herniated discs and a bone that won’t stop growing in a futile effort to protect the damaged area, and those nerves start to feel downright claustrophobic. When the nerves protest their cramped quarters, when they send out distress signals, a pain runs up and down my leg that makes me suck in my breath and speak in tongues. At such moments the only relief is to lie down and wait. Sometimes, however, the moment arrives in the middle of a match. Then the only remedy is to alter my game—swing differently, run differently, do everything differently. That’s when my muscles spasm. Everyone avoids change; muscles can’t abide it. Told to change, my muscles join the spinal rebellion, and soon my whole body is at war with itself.

Gil, my trainer, my friend, my surrogate father, explains it this way: Your body is saying it doesn’t want to do this anymore.

My body has been saying that for a long time, I tell Gil. Almost as long as I’ve been saying it.

Since January, however, my body has been shouting it. My body doesn’t want to retire—my body has already retired. My body has moved to Florida and bought a condo and white Sansabelts. So I’ve been negotiating with my body, asking it to come out of retirement for a few hours here, a few hours there. Much of this negotiation revolves around a cortisone shot that temporarily dulls the pain. Before the shot works, however, it causes its own torments.

I got one yesterday, so I could play tonight. It was the third shot this year, the thirteenth of my career, and by far the most alarming. The doctor, not my regular doctor, told me brusquely to assume the position. I stretched out on his table, face down, and his nurse yanked down my shorts. The doctor said he needed to get his seven-inch needle as close to the inflamed nerves as possible. But he couldn’t enter directly, because my herniated discs and bone spur were blocking the path. His attempts to circumvent them, to break the Club, sent me through the roof. First he inserted the needle. Then he positioned a big machine over my back to see how close the needle was to the nerves. He needed to get that needle almost flush against the nerves, he said, without actually touching. If it were to touch the nerves, even if it were to only nick the nerves, the pain would ruin me for the tournament. It could also be life- changing. In and out and around, he maneuvered the needle, until my eyes filled with water.

Finally he hit the spot. Bull’s- eye, he said.

In went the cortisone. The burning sensation made me bite my lip. Then came the pressure. I felt infused, embalmed. The tiny space in my spine where the nerves are housed began to feel vacuum packed. The pressure built until I thought my back would burst.

Pressure is how you know everything’s working, the doctor said.

Words to live by, Doc.

Soon the pain felt wonderful, almost sweet, because it was the kind that you can tell precedes relief. But maybe all pain is like that.

MY FAMILY IS GROWING LOUDER. I limp out to the living room of our suite. My son, Jaden, and my daughter, Jaz, see me and scream. Daddy, Daddy! They jump up and down and want to leap on me. I stop and brace myself, stand before them like a mime imitating a tree in winter. They stop just before leaping, because they know Daddy is delicate these days, Daddy will shatter if they touch him too hard. I pat their faces and kiss their cheeks and join them at the breakfast table.

Jaden asks if today is the day.


You’re playing?


And then after today are you retire?

A new word he and his younger sister have learned. Retired. When they say it, they always leave off the last letter. For them it’s retire, forever ongoing, permanently in the present tense. Maybe they know something I don’t.

Not if I win, son. If I win tonight, I keep playing.

But if you lose— we can have a dog?

To the children, retire equals puppy. Stefanie and I have promised them that when I stop training, when we stop traveling the world, we can buy a puppy. Maybe we’ll name him Cortisone.

Yes, buddy, when I lose, we will buy a dog.

He smiles. He hopes Daddy loses, hopes Daddy experiences the disappointment that surpasses all others. He doesn’t understand— and how will I ever be able to explain it to him?—the pain of losing, the pain of playing. It’s taken me nearly thirty years to understand it myself, to solve the calculus of my own psyche.

I ask Jaden what he’s doing today.

Going to see the bones.

I look at Stefanie. She reminds me she’s taking them to the Museum of Natural History. Dinosaurs. I think of my twisted vertebrae. I think of my skeleton on display at the museum with all the other dinosaurs. Tennis-aurus Rex.

Jaz interrupts my thoughts. She hands me her muffin. She needs me to pick out the blueberries before she eats it. Our morning ritual. Each blueberry must be surgically removed, which requires precision, concentration. Stick the knife in, move it around, get it right up to the blueberry without touching. I focus on her muffin and it’s a relief to think about something other than tennis. But as I hand her the muffin, I can’t pretend that it doesn’t feel like a tennis ball, which makes the muscles in my back twitch with anticipation. The time is drawing near.

AFTER BREAKFAST, after Stefanie and the kids have kissed me goodbye and run off to the museum, I sit quietly at the table, looking around the suite. It’s like every hotel suite I’ve ever had, only more so. Clean, chic, comfortable— it’s the Four Seasons, so it’s lovely, but it’s still just another version of what I call Not Home. The non-place we exist as athletes. I close my eyes, try to think about tonight, but my mind drifts backward. My mind these days has a natural backspin. Given half a chance it wants
to return to the beginning, because I’m so close to the end. But I can’t let it. Not yet. I can’t afford to dwell too long on the past. I get up and walk around the table, test my balance. When I feel fairly steady I walk gingerly to the shower.

Under the hot water I groan and scream. I bend slowly, touch my quads, start to come alive. My muscles loosen. My skin sings. My pores fly open. Warm blood goes sluicing through my veins. I feel something begin to stir. Life. Hope. The last drops of youth. Still, I make no sudden movements. I don’t want to do anything to startle my spine. I let my spine sleep in.

Standing at the bathroom mirror, toweling off, I stare at my face. Red eyes, gray stubble— a face totally different from the one with which I started. But also different from the one I saw last year in this same mirror. Whoever I might be, I’m not the boy who started this odyssey, and I’m not even the man who announced three months ago that the odyssey was ...


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

And now a word from our sponsor

If all commercials were this clever I would be less likely to flip channels.  Then again this spot could probably replace most of NBC's lineup and there would be no noticeable difference in ratings whatsoever.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Why I don't have to watch the World Cup

Because the fine people at Hasbro can keep me updated, as evidence by this


and this



Saturday, June 12, 2010

History will be made

Just putzing around online and ran into this, compliments of CBC and the NHL channel on Youtube.  Congrats to the Chicago Blackhawks, your Stanley Cup Champions for 2009-2010.



Friday, June 11, 2010

7 days and counting

That's right, you are down to your last 7 days to get your shopping done for my birthday.  Not one to shop at the last minute, unless it is Christmas, I went ahead and bought my presents early.  I also bought them for free compliments of Swagbucks, but that is another matter.  Two books that I wanted to read, a couple of autobiographies, one being Andre Agassi's book, the other being, well let's just go to the tape shall we



Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Stolen Content - Not in the book

Since his book was self published a couple of months ago this wasn't in it, had he waited to finish it then maybe it would have been.  But since he didn't wait, it falls on me to share for free rather than for you to go out and buy.  Then again, you should probably buy his book anyway.

Your tar balls are in my junk shot

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Here's something I bet you never thought you'd hear coming out of your own luscious mouth in this or any other of your million slippery existential lifetimes, more or less:

"Oh my sweet capitalist god, I wish the top kill had worked after the useless top hat and that botched junk shot, because now the tar balls are rolling in, and the tar patties are collecting into glumpy gloops all over the beaches, and you can see the sheen stretching for 100 miles in all directions, all because the damn blowout preventer jammed and, of course, now they've dumped a million gallons of toxic dispersant on the gushing plume since the relief wells aren't nearly complete. We need more skimmers!"

Quite a mouthload, is it not? All sorts of joyful burden to roll these new and oily words around on your tongue, like candy-coated gunpowder? Like little cubes of raw demon blood? Verily.

It's yet another example of a fascinating little phenomenon: For every disaster and global heartbreak, for every world-altering mindf-- of a toxic event, so evolves new verbiage, new frameworks, new structures of meaning, mouthmoves and tongue lashings, lip gyrations and glottal stops to contain it all.

In other words, other words. Every war, every devastation, every invention and advancement lets us further mutate, mingle and shapeshift our mindmelds, bedazzle the dictionary and upflip the lexicaldingle as we reconfigulate the snugglemodes of the metaverbalizer. You follow me? Of course you do.

So it goes. Alongside the flagrant and heartbreaking evil that is the BP spill, a whole swarm of not just strange and wonderful, depressing and cool new words, but also new implications and insinuations, layers and ideas promptly installing themselves into the American heartsong -- at least for awhile, at least until the next big thing comes along to knock those words to the back nine of our collective unconscious, recycled back into the fertile madhouse topsoil that we call modern communication.

So then, what phrases and ticks from this particular epic meltdown do you think will stick to the roof of the cultural maw? What BP-themed verbiage will permanently penetrate the vocabulary, the American identity forevermore? Top kill? Tar balls? Deepwater Horizon? How has this event reshaped the American lexicon, and, by extension, our wonky understanding of just who the hell we think we are?

Maybe it's "BP" itself. Really, is it not quaint to recall how, not a mere few weeks ago, those two benign initials used to represent so many harmless and sweet ideas?

Aside from British Petrol, there was "beer pong" and "buddy profile," "blood pressure" and "bill pay" and even "bowl pack," as in a nice fat, bowl of marijuana to be smoked so as to enable the imbiber to recline and chillax so as to not to buzzkill the vibe and concern oneself with the utter and ongoing devastation of the planet. Ah, simpler times.

No longer. Oh BP, have you seen what hath become of your two tiny, nefarious initials? Here, let some of my brilliant Facebook fans/readers offer you some humble suggestions for a new interpretation. Maybe something like:

Bastard Polluters. Brutally Pollutive. Beyond Pollution. Bitch, Pay! Big Pricks. Bringing Poison. Bilderberg Perps. Brown Pelicans. Black Poison. Black Plague. Beyond Pathetic. Blundering Pissants. Bio-Philistines. Buncha Pinheads. Bloated Parasites. Blatant Profiteering. Bush Policy. Bush/Palin. Bitumen Prostitutes. Bitter Pill. Barbarian Pigs. Bariatric Pillagers. Blatant Plunderers. Biohazard Plumes. Better Payup. Beyond Prosecution. Bitch, Please. And (my personal favorite) Beauty's Pedophiles.

Of course, as any good cunning linguist will tell you, all such shapeshifting phraseologies are merely markers, symbols, stand-ins for things meaty and chthonic in our psyches, verbal representations for how many pins can dance on the head of an angel.

All language is just a slippery system of symbols and glyphs meant to point somewhat specifically toward some oily idea of what we think it might mean to meander down this wayward path of whothehellknowsuntilyoudie.

Let's be clearer, but still more ambiguous: As shifts the language, so shifts perceptions, minds, hearts, reality. Is that obvious? Maybe. Have you considered it in relation to our most vile admonitions? As we all observe the black wall of petrodeath as it poisons the very waters that sustain the vast majority of life on the planet, something happens, deep down, to our collective understanding, something oily and dark and not at all related to the happy ending to the story we're all trying to tell each other.

Like the top kill, like the junk shot, like the blowout preventer, the words we create ultimately fail, fall short of stopping the gushing plume of tragic meanings, the feeling that something is enormously wrong with how we're going about eating and screwing, singing and dying on this pale blue dot.

Put it this way: Our words, our media, our storytelling try to capture it all -- the spreading sense of dread, the glooming doom, the hope for a quick and healthy fix despite the sinking feeling that one ain't coming anytime soon -- to keep it in check and keep it from poisoning the pristine waters of life and love surrounding it. The oil is poisoning the ocean. The meanings are poisoning the soul.

So we try to speak about it. We try to joke about it. We try to add catchphrases and puns, action verbs and punch lines. Then you see the photos, grasp the scale of the horror, feel the blackness invade your heart, and it hits you: There simply are no words.

Monday, June 7, 2010

T I T I T #2

I think the thing I like about "I think I think" blogs is that they allow me the freedom to bounce from topic to topic with relative ease. Since I don't feel like blathering on and on, this seems like as good a time as any for another one.

The NFL allowed Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to return to off season workouts with the team, though his suspension of 6 games (which could be reduced to 4 or increased, depending on his future behavior) remains once the season starts. Commentators and pundits galore are talking about the hard work Ben will have to do in order to get back in the league and team's good graces. Excuse me if I don't find this particular task all that sisphyean in nature. Basically he has to do two major things; 1) Don't rape women and 2) Don't whip your cock out in public. Let's not mistake common sense for hard work here. The rest takes care of itself, if he plays well after the suspension all will be forgiven and if not all will be magnified. Michael Vick served real prison time for fighting (and killing) dogs, yet for all of the clamor of groups, such as PETA, protesting his games he was welcomed back into the league with open arms.

I have been watching with great interest the blow up over the White House offering Joe Sestak a position in order to get him out of the Pennsylvania Senate primary against Arlen Specter, a primary that Sestak would eventually win, setting up a Senate race against Republican Pat Toomey. The funny thing, for all of the bloviating that is coming from the right on this issue, they got the weaker candidate in the general election. Specter would have still had a little bit of sway with moderate Republicans in a general election, something Sestak will not pull off. Toomey is far from an attractive candidate for most Democrats, so the race will boil down to which party gets more people out to the polls in November, as opposed to Toomey being forced to make sure his own constituency stays in line. If I am a Republican I am touching myself with glee, not because I can make an issue out of something that occurs with a certain amount of regularity, that being the party trying to get someone out of a race, but because the odds on winning that Senate race have increased dramatically with the Sestak win.

Once again we are in TV's offseason, where shows are put to bed for the year and shows that didn't make the cut are trotted out in hopes of catching some footing. I have thankfully only caught a couple of these shows, though what I caught I haven't been all that impressed with. America's Got Talent is back again, and while the show is tolerable enough, save perhaps Nick Cannon, who I find incredibly annoying, but I think my biggest problem with the show is the number of kids that are trotted out on it. The winner of the contest is supposed to get two things as a prize; 1) one million dollars and 2) to headline a Las Vegas show. Far too often I wonder if the parents of these kids aren't trotting them out there in hopes their kid will also become their meal ticket, because I would argue the second half of that prize is not even part of the equation. When I am watching, which I admit isn't that often, one of the criteria that runs through my head is would I pay to see this act for an hour to an hour and a half as Vegas show, versus being a 2 minute novelty act and far too often I am left thinking no I would not.

As much as I complained about America's Got Talent it is Shakespearean theater compared to the other off season replacement I caught, 100 Questions, which was just a god awful comedy where the person in control of the laugh track has to be on crack, because any time any of the characters spoke it was followed by piped in laughter, and very little of it was funny. Those parts that were supposed to be were diluted by the fact that the laugh track was cued up on every other word. If NBC ever wants to learn how it became the 4th network, all they need to do it take their executives, lock them in a room and have them answer the simple question (as opposed to 100 of them) of how the hell this show ever made the air to begin with. This show isn't even worthy of public access let alone primetime on a network.

If you ever want to see an example of sheeple I suggest you check out the number of people that parrot statuses (or is that stati?) on Facebook. In the last couple of days I have seen a number of people repeat as their status that Pepsi was introducing a patriotic can with the Pledge of Allegiance on it but leaving out the words "under God" in it, and I have also seen a number of people throw out the same complaint about how there are no concerts for the Gulf oil spill but there were for the earthquake in Haiti. For the former, well that rumor has been out there since 1992 so I would suggest you get with the program and actually do a bit of research before looking like a complete and utter assclown by throwing up some moronic forwarded message as your status, unless you want you status to be "I am a fucking retard who doesn't have the ability to a) get things right and b) think for myself. As for the latter, the differences are many, for starters the earthquake in Haiti was a natural disaster whereas the Gulf is very much a manmade one, one that will come with significant financial culpability for BP in both terms of clean up and in damages. Now collecting may be a problem, Exxon after all still hasn't paid for the Valdez disaster, but there is still a place where the fault or blame lies as opposed to a natural disaster, unless of course you are Pat Robertson, then earthquakes are the work of God, therefore God would be responsible for making good on the damages done though your chance of getting him to write a check may be less than that of getting Exxon to. The second difference of course is the loss of human life. That isn't to say that what has happened in the Gulf is insignificant, or isn't a disaster because it most certainly is, but there is a higher priority place on the loss of human life, as well there should be.

So the news is on at work today and apparently Jordan van der Sloot is suspected of killing Stephany Flores in Peru. For those who have a short attention span, van der Sloot was the primary suspect in the previous disappearance of Natalie Holloway a while back. Apparently the reason he is the primary suspect in the current investigation is that he was the last one seen with Ms. Flores while she was alive and that was in the very room where her body was found. Now I am not one to excuse Mr. van der Sloot's behavior, but a very simple question came to mind, what female in their right mind would willingly be alone in a room with a man who very well may have murdered someone previously? At what point do you have so little respect for your own well being that this is even remotely an option?

I have made mention of a few blogs in the past, some of them have made my links page, others have either been copied into the text of a blog entry or linked to. One of my recurring sports themes here has been how god awful the local baseball team (Pittsburgh Pirates) has been in the past 17+ years. Thankfully the kid's at Modesis House have put together a detailed list, in a far more comical fashion than I could have, of the 31 most embarassing moments of the last 17+ years. Some days it takes little to make me smile, this worked wonders today.

And really, is there any better way to end an entry like this than on a high note? Therefore I proclaim this entry to be done.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Stolen Content - Perfection

Nobody’s Perfect, but They Were Good

A blown call occasions a lesson in civility and honesty.

Peggy Noonan

The Wall Street Journal: June 4, 2010

We needed some happy news this week, and I think we got it. But first, a journey back in time.

It was Monday July 4, 1983, a painfully hot day, 94 degrees when the game began. We were at Yankee Stadium, and the Yanks were playing their ancestral foes, the Boston Red Sox. More than 40,000 people filled the stands. My friend George and I had seats in the upper decks, where people were waving programs against the heat, eating hot dogs, drinking beer and—oh, innocent days—smoking. In fact it was the smoking that made me realize something was going on.

Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando GalarragaThe Yankees’ pitcher, Dave Righetti, who’d bounced from the majors to the minors and back again, was having a good game, striking out seven of the first nine hitters. The Yanks were scoring; the Red Sox were doing nothing. Suddenly, around the sixth or seventh inning, I realized the boisterous crowd had turned quieter. George was chain-smoking with a look of fierce intensity. “What’s happening?” I asked him. “Don’t say it,” he replied. “If you say, it you jinx it.” He said some other things, talking in a kind of code, and I realized: This may be a no-hitter. We may be witnessing history.

Now I’m watching not only the game but everyone around me. Fathers are with their kids, and you can tell they’re starting to think: “I have given my son a great gift today.” Just down from us was an old man, 75 or so, tall, slim and white-haired. I never saw him say a word to anyone, and throughout the game there was an empty seat beside him. I thought: He’s got a wife in the hospital and she told him to take the afternoon off; he’d bought the tickets before she got sick, and he’s here by himself. He was so distracted and lonely-looking but inning by inning the game started to capture him, and the last few innings he couldn’t sit down.

Everyone else in New York was at the beach for the three-day weekend, but around us were regular people, working people who didn’t have enough to be at the Jersey Shore or out on the island, but who had enough for a baseball game. Also there were die-hard fans holding their game cards. Meaning everyone who was there deserved to be there, everyone who got the gift deserved it. It was one of those moments where life is just.

Perfect GameTwenty-five years later, on July 3, 2008, Anthony McCarron of New York’s Daily News wrote of the final moments of the game. Righetti is facing the final batter, Wade Boggs, and is worried he’ll tap the ball toward first and beat him to the bag. At the plate, Boggs is thinking, “If I get a hit here, with two out in the ninth inning, and break this thing up, I’m probably not getting out of here alive.” As Mr. McCarron wrote, Righetti “snapped off a crisp slider, Boggs struck out swinging,” and Righetti flung his arms out in joy.

The crowd exploded, they wouldn’t stop jumping and cheering, and later they filled the bars around the stadium. It was raucous, joyful. Everyone acted as if they were related, because it is a beautiful thing when you witness history together. It’s unifying.

Only later would it be noted that it wasn’t only Independence Day, and a home game, and the Red Sox, it was the anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s 1939 farewell speech. So it was fitting everyone left feeling like the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

I bet you know where I’m going.

It was Wednesday night of this week, and it was a heartbreaker, and you have seen the videotape. Comerica Park in Detroit, the Tigers vs. the Cleveland Indians, and on the mound is Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga, 28. In his brief Major League career, he has not pitched a complete game, never mind a perfect one but here he is. He’s retired 26 straight batters. It’s two outs in the ninth with just one to go, one out between him and history. Indians shortstop Jason Donald is at the plate. Donald hits a grounder between first and second. Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers first baseman, fields it as Galarraga sprints to first. The pitcher takes the throw from Cabrera and steps on the base. Donald crosses it just a step later. Galarraga gets this look of joy. And the umpire blows it. He calls Donald safe. Everyone is shocked.

It’s everything that follows that blunder that makes the story great.

When Galarraga hears the call, he looks puzzled, surprised. But he’s composed and calm, and he smiles, as if accepting fate. Others run to the ump and begin to yell, but Galarraga just walks back to the mound to finish the job. Which he does, grounding out the next batter. The game is over.

The umpire, Jim Joyce, 54, left the field and watches the videotape. He saw that he’d made a mistake and took immediate responsibility. He went straight to the clubhouse where he personally apologized to Galarraga. Then he told the press, “I just cost the kid a perfect game.” He said, “I thought [Donald] beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw until I saw the replay. It was the biggest call of my career.”

Galarraga told reporters he felt worse for Joyce than he felt for himself. At first, reacting to the game in the clubhouse, he’d criticized Joyce. But after Joyce apologized, Galarraga said, “You don’t see an umpire after the game come out and say, ‘Hey, let me tell you I’m sorry.’” He said, “He felt really bad.” He noted Joyce had come straight over as soon as he knew he’d made the wrong call.

What was sweet and surprising was that all the principals in the story comported themselves as fully formed adults, with patience, grace and dignity. And in doing so, Galarraga and Joyce showed kids How to Do It.

A lot of adults don’t teach kids this now, because the adults themselves don’t know how to do it. There’s a mentoring gap, an instruction gap in our country. We don’t put forward a template because we don’t know the template. So everyone imitates TV, where victors dance in the end zone, where winners shoot their arms in the air and distort their face and yell “Whoooaahhh,” and where victims of an injustice scream, cry, say bitter things, and beat the ground with their fists. Everyone has come to believe this is authentic. It is authentically babyish. Everyone thinks it’s honest. It’s honestly undignified, self-indulgent, weak and embarrassing.

Galarraga and Joyce couldn’t have known it when they went to work Wednesday, but they were going to show children in an unforgettable way that a victim of injustice can react with compassion, and a person who makes a mistake can admit and declare it. Joyce especially was a relief, not spinning or digging in his heels. I wish he hadn’t sworn. Nobody’s perfect.

Thursday afternoon the Tigers met the Indians again in Comerica Park. Armando Galarraga got a standing ovation. In a small masterpiece of public relations, Detroit’s own General Motors gave him a brand new red Corvette. Galarraga brought out the lineup card and gave it to the umpire—Jim Joyce, who had been offered the day off but chose to work.

Fans came with signs that said, “It was perfect.”

It was.

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