Daily Archives: November 4, 2009

World Series Game Six: Duel of the Old Dogs

Part One: Before the game at dinner in the Food Court after my first set of rounds

“Baseball?  It’s just a game – as simple as a ball and a bat.  Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes.  It’s a sport, business – and sometimes even religion.”  Ernie Harwell, “The Game for All America,” 1955

andypettitte33How Will Andy Pettitte Pitch on 3 Days Rest?

I am a member of the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park Parish.  So I guess baseball is like a religion to me.  It is one of the few things that I can count on that will relax and excite me at the same time that ball parks are among the few places that I can go to find a measure of peace.  To quote Sharon Olds “Baseball is reassuring.  It makes me feel as if the world is not going to blow up.” Baseball has much in common with the Christian faith it has a cycle and rhythm much like the liturgical year, it has its sacraments, law and grace and even its own Communion of Saints as Richard Gilman said:  “Baseball is a game dominated by vital ghosts; it’s a fraternity, like no other we have of the active and the no longer so, the living and the dead.” It is a sport that venerates respects and remembers its greats, and holds them to higher standards than just their performance on the field. It is a game that unlike other sports, those who transgress even if they are some of the best ballplayers who ever lived are banned from the game, in a sense excommunicated.  Pete Rose, Shoeless Joe Jackson and the players involved in the “Black Sox” scandal after the 1919 World Series stand in witness to that fact.  Many of those proven to have taken steroids or suspected of doing so are being shunned by many of baseball’s greats.

pedro-martinez-7001381Old Dog: Padro Martinez, Can He Come up Big?

The crescendo of the baseball season amid its ebb and flow is the World Series.  Players who excel in the Series are venerated by their team’s fans and sometimes the rest of the baseball world.  This year the Series has seen some incredible baseball and some great drama as each game is played and the story, the legend and even the myth is renewed. Men like Reggie Jackson have become known as “Mr. October” for their exploits in the series and almost every year there is a player, great or small who does something that leads to greatness or sometimes disgrace.

Andy Pettitte went to the pitchers mound at the new Yankee Stadium and delivered the first pitch of game six of the 2009 World Series.  In the Philadelphia Phillies dugout another old dog, Pedro Martinez wrapped in his warm up jacket waited even as Jimmy Rollins stepped into the batters box.  It is a drama with another twist, for the first time in World Series history both starting pitchers will be over 37 years old, in other words for their sport old men.  Yes there have been older players but you don’t see many, especially starting pitchers.  Tonight we see two men who are in different stages of the tail end of their careers.  Pettitte may have a few more years left in him, but Martinez began the year not even on a team and was a late season acquisition by the Phillies.

The question for tonight’s game is if Pettitte, pitching on 3 days rest will be able to deliver a solid outing and if Pedro will have as good of stuff as he had against the Dodgers in the NLCS.  The Yankees know Pedro well and if he is the slightest bit off they could make short work of him. If Pettitte is off the Phillies hitting machine may crank it up a notch.

Since I as a Giants, Orioles and Athletics fan have no dog in this fight I did a careful analysis of the numbers and I predicted that the Yankees will win the series in six.  I said that the Yankees and Phillies would split in New York.  I also said that the Yankees would take games three and four in Philly and that Cliff Lee would win game 5, so far so good.  Based on my analysis I have predicted that Andy Pettitte will get the win to close the series but give the Phillies a chance of getting the win and forcing game seven.  This time I think that the Yankees hit Pedro hard and that will be the difference. (to see my complete analysis and prediction follow this link: https://padresteve.wordpress.com/2009/10/27/padre-steve%e2%80%99s-world-series-prediction-and-book-and-bible-burning-update/

mariano-riveraIf the Game is Close Expect Mariano Rivera to Come in During the 8th Inning

I think that Pettitte will do well enough to get the ball to Mariano Rivera in the 8th inning.  Rivera will then have a six out save.  I think on the hitting side of the house that Derek Jeter will continue to hit well, that Johnny Damon will hit and that Alex Rodriguez will have clutch hits.  The addition of the bats of Jorge Posada who came in halfway through game five and Hideki Matsui who showed up in a pinch hitting role in that game will give the back half of the Yankees lineup some extra power which was not present in game five.  For the Phillies I think that Chase Utley and Jayson Wirth have a good game and one or the other may take a Yankee pitcher yard.   In the end I do not think that it will be enough, I think that the Yankees win their 27th World Series tonight.  The only thing to do is sit back and watch, and if by some chance I am wrong about the outcome of this game, know that I am neither the Prophet nor the Son of the Prophet and since I am merely a miscreant Priest and not the Pope I am certainly not infallible.

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I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane…Reflections on the Islands of Unhappy Travelers

The 80’s group Blondie had a hit called “Island of Lost Souls.”  I love that song; it is kind of quirky and fun.  However, there is a time when you run into a place where the song seems more true than not. Airports are one of those places, they tend to be some of the most angst and anger filled venues known to man, excepting of course Fed-Ex Field where Dan Snyder is doing his best to destroy the Redskins and drive off their fans. However, I digress as I couldn’t care a whit about the Redskins because they are a football team, though I have sympathy for the fans that have been banned from bringing signs into the stadium.  With that exception and maybe the U.S. Capitol building and the set of any Cable Television talk show where politics is being debated the airports have to be pretty close to the top of the hate and discontent list.

I had to travel to Florida in the spring for chaplain conference.  Since I came back from Iraq I do travel a lot less well than I used to and to make matters worse conferences of almost any kind at best come close to pushing me to the edge.  Sleep tends to be difficult for me, especially before I travel on commercial airlines and endure the hell of airports.  The night before I travel, I try to anticipate every contingency, going through my packing list and ensuring I have everything that I need. Then after I go to bed I get up an hour later to make sure that I indeed get everything. Once I am sure that I do I go back and check the multiple alarm clocks that I have set just to make sure I don’t miss my flight.  I know why I do this. Before Iraq I traveled a lot and got good at it.  However in Iraq a did a lot more of this and got into a routine of checking, double checking and even triple checking to make sure that I had everything that I needed.  Over there I knew that if I forgot something, even something simple that it would not be available the places that I was going or places that I might get marooned.  I have carried that experience back with me.  I pack and lay out all my clothes the night before I go to work.  I actually use the same pack that I carried on every mission in Iraq.  It is an excellent piece of gear, made by Blackhawk.

Anyway that day was a hellish travel day. The weather across the east coast was crappy.  My first flight was delayed an hour, my second flight as well. If that was not bad enough the good folks at Delta airlines failed to have people at gates and jet ways when gate changes happened, leaving people to miss flights and nearly miss vacation cruises.  On our connecting flight at Atlanta’s Harts-Jackson Field was delayed, in my case that was a good thing as had it been on time I would have missed it.  While in line waiting for the flight announcements were periodically made, each one either delivering a later flight time or excuse for the delay.  The excuses often were inconsistent.  I began to think that they were lying to us.  Now I’m not saying that an airline would lie, but it seemed to my little pea brain that the excuses conflicted and each new excuse contradicted the last pathetic excuse.  I hate bad liars.  Let’s face it, if you are going to lie be consistent and strive to make it believable, politicians, lawyers and TV evangelists are great at this.  Unfortunately the people lying to us were not very believable.  However it may have been that they actually believed what they were saying which would be as George Costanza once said: “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”

As I waited that day I surveyed my fellow disgruntled travelers.  I was deep into a PTSD induced ass kinking anxiety attack.  By the time this was going on time I had taken both of my extra meds as well as my 8 AM and 1230 PM doses of Samuel Adams Boston Lager.  Normally I’ll wait until dinner for a beer, but I knew that I needed a bit more on that trip.  I try not to self-medicate and over the past year have gotten a lot better in not doing this. However there as something about airports and airline travel that almost inevitably pushes my buttons and so I will do this to take the edge off and keep me somewhat sane until I can get to my destination and hide.

I went to a conference in Orlando in the summer of 2008 shortly after my PTSD diagnosis and that about put me over the edge. If you have PTSD the Gateway to the fricking “Happiest place in the world” is the portal to hell.  Thus only a few months after coming out of a combat zone I discovered that Orlando during the height of the summer pilgrimage to Wally World to see Randy Rodent and Doofey is not a fun experience.

Thanks be to God for her good care during this trip.  She ensured that my doctor had given good drugs and the airport pubs provided good beer not to mention a Chili Dog with mustard.  Thus by the middle of the afternoon I was doing far better than most of my fellow travelers.  It definitely sucked to be them.  It was then that the Blondie song came into my mind.  Atlanta’s airport was not the Island of Lost Souls but the Land of Unhappy Travelers.  I listened to some of the folks around me as they lamented their situation and it sounded like “Lemony Snickets: A Series of Unfortunate Events.” Atlanta had become the vortex of very disgruntled travelers who had missed flights, been bumped from flights or delayed endlessly.  If you don’t believe in the Catholic in the doctrine of Purgatory just try Atlanta on a day like that, which is about 362 days a year.  I looked around, and though barely holding on myself I was able to find some gallows humor in the midst of this agony.  I looked around the people around me and said “Ladies and gentlemen it is my distinct displeasure to welcome you to the land of unhappy travelers.”  I actually got a few laughs.  I then made a comment about the airline, which I had not flown in a couple of years, saying “I’m glad to see that some things stay the same, our airline still has same crappy service that they had a few years ago.”  As we started boarding we boarded by zones as some airlines do.  I personally prefer the first come or first signed in first seated way that Southwest does things, unfortunately the government contract was no longer with Southwest. As they announced “boarding zones one through five,” I commented, “Yep, you guys in zone 92 still have a while to wait.  On each flight we had bad weather, turbulence and on one flight the air condition did not start kicking in until we were getting ready to land.

When I got to my destination I heard stories even worse than mine, all focused around the vortex of doom that swirled around Atlanta.  The only place that I thought it could have gone worse was Washington Dulles, where my experiences have been nearly all bad. I survived but by the time I got to my hotel my ass was kicked. At the end of the day I had survived.  A few beers and a bit of wine with good fellowship with friends made things better.

Saturday I get to fly again and make my third trip to California to see my folks.  I am already making my list and getting mentally prepared for the trip.  I get to fly though Chicago O’Hare and on the way back LAX and O’Hare.  Thank the Deity Herself that Atlanta is not on the itinerary. I’ll do my best to at least find the humor as I pass through these islands of unhappy travelers, so pray for me a sinner.

Peace,

Padre Steve

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