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The Perfect King: Felix Hernandez Pitches Third Perfect Game of 2012

“I don’t have any words to explain this…I’ve been working so hard to throw one and today is for you guys.” Felix Hernandez 

Felix Hernandez is beloved by the fans of the mostly hapless Seattle Mariners. The Mariners have fallen on hard times since the days when Randy Johnson led them to the World Series.

Hernandez pitched the third perfect game of the 2012 Season, a record number of perfect games in a season. He joins Giant’s All-Star Matt Cain and Philip Humber of the White Sox. The record had been two perfect games set in 2010, a record which would have been merely tied had umpire Jim Joyce made a bad call that cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game on June 2nd 2010.

This is also the sixth no-hitter of the season approaching the record of seven recorded in 1990.  If there is such a thing as the year of the pitcher, or a pitching era we are now in it. The era of steroid enhanced hitting is definitely over.

In today’s game against a Tampa Bay Rays team that had won 8 of their last 10 games before facing King Felix. However the Rays are no strangers to being victimized by perfect pitchers. This is the third time in the past four years that the hard hitting Rays have been shut down, the previous times against Mark Buerhle of the Tigers on July 23rd 2009 and Dallas Braden of the Oakland Athletics on May 9th 2010.

Today Hernandez threw 113 pitches, 77 for strikes, striking out 12 batters and striking out the side twice. It was a magnificent achievement against a solid team. Hernandez was dominant and in control of the game throughout.

I had the pleasure of watching Hernandez pitch in April 2005 when he was with the AAA Tacoma Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League.  I sat behind home plate as is my custom and was amazed as I watched the then 19 year old phenom dominate.  It was quite a show and I knew that the things that I had read about him were absolutely correct.

The now 26 year old three time All-Star and 2010 Cy Young Award winner has pitched his heart out for his team and the fans of the Mariners. He is revered by them, known as “the King’s Court” at Safeco Field they love him, especially because of his loyalty to the team in signing a contract with the Mariners in 2010 when he could have gone anywhere for a lot more money.

He is a special pitcher and one cannot be happier to see a pitcher like him win a game like this. He was perfect today. Hopefully he will be again.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Perfect! Phillip Humber Joins Legends as He Pitches Perfect Game against Mariners

Phillip Humber doffs his Cap after his Perfect Game (Photo Steven Bissig US Presswire via USA Today)

Phillip Humber is not who you would have expected to be just the 21st pitcher in MLB history.  However, Humber who had the Tommy John Elbow surgery in 2005 and bounced between a number of teams became one of a select group of pitchers including such notables as Jim “Catfish” Hunter, David Cone, Sandy Koufax, Roy Halliday, Randy Johnson and Cy Young. Of course there are others including Dallas Braden who hails from my home town of Stockton California.

The perfect game is the most rare of baseball events. In over 390,000 games only 21 pitchers have pitched the perfect game which is about a perfect game every 18571 games or so, give or take a few since I am rounding the numbers here. As a comparison for hitters 286 players have hit for the cycle in a game.

It is rare enough that only one has been pitched in a World Series, that of Don Larsen who threw a perfect game in Game five of the 1956 World Series for the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Today Humber required just 97 pitches to dispose of the yet again hapless Seattle Mariners who cannot hit their way out of a wet paper bag. Humber struck out nine on the way to the win.  The final out was recorded when Brendan Ryan struck out on a checked swing which was ruled a strike but since the ball got away from Catcher A. J. Pierzynski the catcher had to retrieve it and make the throw out to first base to seal the win.

The South Texas born Humber seemed an unlikely candidate to pitch the first perfect game since 2010. He was a top prospect, the overall 3rd pick in the 2004 amateur draft, being picked by the Mets one pick after Detroit took Justin Verlander after playing college ball for Rice University. He had been struck in the face above his right eye with a line drive off the bat of Kosuke Fukodome on August 18th 2011. Before his career even really began he damaged his throwing elbow badly enough to have to have the Tommy John elbow ligament reconstruction surgery. He had been waived by teams twice and was pitching in only his 30th big league start. He had not thrown a MLB level shutout or for that matter a complete game.

The Kevin Costner film For the Love of the Game (1999) which is based on Michael Shaara’s The Perfect Game which was discovered after he died in 1988 and published in 1991is one of my favorite films and novels and I think captures how special this feat is for any pitcher. For the pitcher cannot allow a single base runner, not just giving up hits, but walks or runners that reach base due to defensive errors even those beyond control of the pitcher. A pitcher must pitch a complete game face 27 batters and get all of them out. It is a hard thing to do at any level and most difficult at the Major League level.

Humber was low key about his feat saying “This is awesome, I’m so thankful.’’ and “I don’t know that I dominated them, obviously the ball was hit at people. I’m thankful for that. It was a well-pitched game. Definitely something I’ll never forget.’’

Congratulations to Phil Humber and the White Sox. I hope for even more success for Humber who I consider a great example of sticking to something you love doing even when things are difficult.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s Top 25 Articles of 2010, some Statistics and a Big Thank You to My Readers

Well we are coming to the end of the year here at Padre Steve’s World and as if you didn’t know from my baseball posts I am a fanatic about statistics.  Last year I published my “Top 10” in order to just get an idea about what my readers were reading and to kind of point new readers to articles that might interest them.

Before I delve into this I want to say thank you to all those people that take the time to stop by my little realm of cyber space and to those that take the time to leave comments, positive and even negative. You help me out a lot both in what I write and making me look at different angles on the subjects that I write about. Likewise various reads comments and suggestions have inspired and sometimes provoked me into writing articles that I might not have written otherwise. So thank you for taking the time to look at this site. Unlike the talk radio hosts that as us to give them 3 hours a day 5 days a week I just hope that you stop by once in a while and if you like what you see to come by more often and recommended the site to friends.

What is interesting to me is the way that some of these essays have almost taken on lives of their own and become much more popular than I could have ever imagined.  Who knows maybe I can actually work on finding a publisher this year and get some of this into print and maybe just maybe actually make a little money for my efforts.  I’ve been looking at the 700 plus posts that now are on the site and I can see a few book possibilities and if you have suggestions please let me know.

So as far as statistics go Padre Steve’s World is coming up on 2 Million total views and should go over that mark late today or early tomorrow.  Of those views about 1,280,000 have come this year, I won’t get an exact count until the New Year but then who but me is counting anyway? With those numbers I am averaging about 3500 views a day with the highest today being on June 17th when I had 9647 views.  I have had readers from almost every country or territory in the world from the United States to Togo and almost everywhere in between.  I think that is pretty cool and shows how the internet can reach almost all parts of the globe and I hope that the people in far off lands are getting something positive out of what I write.

This year I have posted 377 articles of which 169 had something to do with Baseball and 70 were about the military and of the military articles 18 dealt with various types of warships and a further dealt with history.  Another 21 articles dealt with Iraq or Afghanistan in one way or another ranging from historical, operational and theoretical articles interspersed with essays about the human cost of war.  Now the categories dealing with religion were harder to quantify as I posted them in several different categories with some articles listed in more than one category. Of these 24 articles dealt with faith, 29 with the Christian life, 49 in the general category of Religion and 53 fit into the rather amorphous category of Philosophy. I also listed 20 in the Pastoral Care section.  Again many of these posts overlapped so depending on the subject an article might be listed under several categories.

I have also more interactive this year with my readers in terms of the comment section and comments listed on my Facebook page for different articles. If you want to subscribe to the site or a single post and its comments feel free to do so and if you want to be a Facebook “friend” just tell me that you read the site when you do the request.

So this year I am posting my top 25 essays of 2010 as I think it gives me and you a better grasp on what people find interesting on this site.  I have also written a little bit of what caused me to write about those subjects.

Music of the 1970s and 1980s topped my list with 3 articles in the top 25 coming it at number 1, 5 and 9

1. I Miss the Music of the 70’s and 80’s I wrote this because I am went to High School and College in the 70s and 80s and like anyone my musical tastes and preferences were set back then. This year the essay which includes a lot of links to music videos has had over 46,000 viewers.

My article about the Rape of Nanking got me some hate mail from Japan

2. “Revisionist” History and the Rape of Nanking 1937 This article grew out of a research paper that I did in one of my classes for my Masters Degree in Military History. I found the subject interesting because I remember some of the Holocaust deniers when I was in college and the fact that people try to expunge the reality of such crimes against humanity is something for which that I have little tolerance. I did get a couple of nasty responses from some Japanese deniers regarding this article. Almost 20,000 people read this article this year.

3. Padre Steve’s World: Top 10 articles of 2009 What can I say? A lot of people, a bit of 13,000 have found my site and other articles through this post.

4. Halloween Book Burning Update: Bring the Marshmallows Please! I wrote this just prior to Halloween of 2009 on a lark. It was fun but serious and deals with a little church near Ashville North Carolina that publicized a book and Bible burning.  About 10,500 folks read this one.

5. More about Why I Miss the Music of the 70’s and 80’s Obviously I wrote this because I didn’t get enough 70s and 80s songs in the first time. Evidently a lot of people like this one as well as about 10,500 folks read it in 2010 and like the first edition it is chocked full of links to music videos.

The Einsatzgrüppen were a key component of Hitler’s racial war in the East

6. The Ideological War: How Hitler’s Racial Theories Influenced German Operations in Poland and Russia This article also came out of a lot of study and thought. I was a history major in college and my concentration area was in modern German History particularly Weimar and the Nazi Era. In the following 28 years or so I have continued to study and I wrote this essay for one of my Masters Degree classes.  About 10,300 people have read this one this year.

7. Reformation Day: How Martin Luther and Hans Kung Brought Me to an Anglo-Catholic Perspective, a Book and Bible Burning Reaches Ludicrous Speed and Yankees take Game Three 8-5 I wrote this during the 2009 World Series and it was kind of a catch all article for that day. The primary focus was Reformation Day and my journey to a Catholic faith.  It also included an update about the previously mentioned book and Bible burning and game three of the 2009 World Series between the Yankees and Phillies. About 7300 people looked at this article since January 1st 2010.

Star Trek is a part of my spiritual journey

8. Star Trek, God and Me 1966 to 2009 This article came out of my spiritual journey and kind of wove my faith with Star Trek.  I grew up with the original series but find Star Trek TNG and DS9 to be my favorites and I loved the new movie.  When I wrote the article back in May of 2009 I was still struggling with faith and in the midst of a spiritual crisis. Even though it is a relatively old article on the site that it had almost 6000 views this year which I attribute to the popularity of Star Trek and not this site or me.

9. Padre Steve’s Favorite Love Songs…Happy Valentine’s Day! Once again I write about music in this post with many love songs from the 1970s and 80s as well as a few from other eras. Close to 6,000 folks have looked at this since I wrote it in February and it too has a lot of music video links.

10. Can Anybody Spare a DIME: A Short Primer on Early Axis Success and How the Allies Won the Second World War This I kind of wrote on the spur of the moment as I was thinking about the concept of the DIME, or the Diplomatic, Intelligence, Military and Economic factors of national power and how it relates to war, in this case World War Two. About 4800 people read this and though it is to me a rather innocuous post it attracted the attention of a Neo-Nazi White Supremacist who didn’t like it.  The guy would bother me a number of other times and even threaten my life on one of my Norfolk Tides Baseball posts.  Such is the danger of putting stuff in public but the Neo-Nazis can pound sand.

11. Oh the Pain…Padre Steve’s Kidney Stone Naming Contest In February I got slammed hard by a nasty 7mm Kidney Stone that lodged at the top of the bladder and would move. I was out of action for over a month and as I waited for my surgery to get the nasty thing out I had a naming contest. So far about 4600 people have read this and I guess that it is one of the more humorous posts on this very painful subject on the internet. By the way I named him Adolf.

12. Background to “The Pacific” Part One: The Guadalcanal Campaign and the Beginning of Joint Operations I had originally written this article for my Master’s Degree program. When the HBO series The Pacific came out I re-wrote it and published it. Almost 4600 people have read this article.

The Landings at D-Day have always been a favorite subject of mine and this article was written in a more reflective moment

13. D-Day- Courage, Sacrifice and Luck, the Costs of War and Reconciliation This article was written in a more reflective moment before the 2009 D-Day anniversary. It has retained its popularity with almost 4500 views this year.

14. 20 Years: The Fall of the Berlin Wall and the End of the Cold War I wrote this around the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Since we lived in Germany where I was a Platoon Leader, Company XO and Company Commander in the Cold War and having travelled to East Berlin in November 1986 I couldn’t help but write about it. We cried when the wall came down and I have had the chance to travel in the former East Germany on a number of occasions since the fall of the wall. A bit over 3700 people have read this article.

The loss of shipmates and friends like Senior Chief Pam Branum played a big role in my writing since I started Padre Steve’s World

15. Turning Points: The Battle of Midway, Randy Johnson Gets his 300th Win and Chief Branum Gets Her Star This was a catch-all article when I wrote it back in June of 2009. I was thinking about the Battle of Midway, celebrating Randy Johnson getting his 300th career victory and remembering a shipmate and friend Senior Chief Petty Officer Pamela Branum who was posthumously promoted at her memorial service.  A bit over 3600 people had read this article.

16. Memorable Recruiting Slogans and the All Volunteer Force This was a fun article because it took me back to the days when I first enlisted in the Army national Guard in 1981.  About 3600 folks viewed this article this year.

17. Operation “Dachs” My First Foray into the Genre “Alternative History” I wrote this originally for my Master’s Degree when I asked permission of a professor to do an alternative history of the Battle of Kursk.  I write it using actual sources but altering one key fact which changes the story. What sets it apart is that I get to kill off Hitler before the battle presuming that the anti-Hitler plotters bomb had gone off in his aircraft as he returned to Germany following his visit to Army Group Center.  Almost 3600 people read this in 2010.

The Battle of Stalingrad

18. The Anniversary of Disaster: Stalingrad 67 Years Later This was an article that I modified from a paper that I wrote for my Master’s degree.  I find I have sympathy for the struggle of common soldiers in hopeless causes, even when they fight in causes and under leaders that are unjust or even evil as the Nazis were. Just over 3000 people read this article this year.

The role of Jackie Robinson and other African American Baseball Players in helping end segregation and give added support to the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr Martin Luther King and others

19. Jackie Robinson and Dr. Martin Luther King they Changed America I find the Civil Rights movement to be one of the most important parts of American history and Jackie Robinson possibly had as much or more impact in the movement as anyone with the exception of Doctor Martin Luther King Junior. I know a number of former Negro League players and I respect their struggle on the diamond and how they helped integrate America.  Almost 3000 people read this article.

20. Laughing to the Music: The Musical Genius of Mel Brooks Mel Brooks is my favorite filmmaker and I probably know almost every song in his films by heart. Most people don’t know that Brooks wrote almost all the music in his films. Just over 2900 folks have read this article which like my other music articles is full of links to videos of Mel Brook’s music.

The Battleships of Pearl Harbor essay focused on what happened to the great ladies of Pearl Harbor like the USS West Virginia above

21. The Battleships of Pearl Harbor This was the first article about the attack on Pearl Harbor. I looked at the Battleships which were present and what happened to each of them. Almost 2900 people took a look at this article which spawned articles about the ships on the far side of Ford Island and one about all the ships present.

22. Padre Steve’s Decade in Review: Up Down Tryin’ to Get the Feeling Again I wrote this on New Year’s Eve day in 2009. It was kind of a fun but serious look at some of the events of the first decade of the new millennium. Almost 2800 folks read this one.

23. Why Johnny Can’t Read Maps: NCAA Tournament Geography for Dummies and a Solution I wrote this as the 2010 NCAA Basketball Tournament began. I just hit tilt on way that the NCAA names the brackets by geographic areas that have no connection with some of the cities in them. Like when is Seattle in the Southeast? Give me a break. Evidently almost 2600 people agree with me.

24. Mortain to Market-Garden: A Study in How Armies Improvise in Rapidly Changing Situations I wrote this originally for my Master’s degree program a few years back. I thought about it more and took another crack at it for the website. Almost 2500 folks took a look a this article this year.

The French in Indochina and Algeria and how we can learn from their experience especially on how such campaigns affect the men that fight them

25. Lessons for the Afghan War: The Effects of Counterinsurgency Warfare on the French Army in Indo-China and Algeria and the United States Military in Vietnam I have studied insurgencies since before I went to Iraq when I started my Master’s Degree in Military History program.  As I studied it I began to buy all the books that I could on the subject and with my Iraq experience still resonating in me, I wrote about how counter-insurgency campaigns affect the Armies and Soldiers that wage them.

So my friends thank you for your support over the past year. I pray that you have a wonderful New Year and hope that you keep stopping by.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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More Time with the Oral Surgeon, Thank God for Global Warming and Randy Johnson Retires

More Time with the Oral Surgeon, Thank God for Global Warming and Randy Johnson Retires

Back to the Dentist

Well I had my follow up visit with my oral surgeon today and well, it was not a routine “it’s all good go away” kind of visit.  On Saturday night or Sunday morning one of the stitches came out of the site.  I wasn’t bleeding from the site; it was a little sore so I called the resident on call who said that if it got worse to come in.  The day was uneventful although I wasn’t feeling that great and the pain got a bit worse during the day requiring Vicodin before I went to bed.  I woke up Monday not feeling too well but was behind on a bunch of things that I needed to do.  I scheduled my follow up appointment for today but by 1300 on Monday I was feeling bad enough to need more Vicodin so the boss sent me home to take it and get some rest.  I came to work not feeling a lot better and still a bit under the influence of the medication and went in to dental.  When they took me back they saw swelling and the first dentist saw puss and called the oral surgeon.  He immediately went to wore and had the site irrigated and then took me back to one of the oral surgery rooms where once again I was hooked up to monitors, and had an IV placed and was given a bolus of 250 ml normal saline prior to an infusion of IV antibiotics.  He told me that we needed to do this because if the site got infected it might necessitate removal of the implant as well as the bone graft.  After that I was given a prescription for more antibiotics and sent home with instructions to take it easy, take the antibiotics and keep the site irrigated and to return to work Thursday with a follow up appointment for early Friday morning.  It has been weird as I have been pretty wiped out physically by this but doing okay emotionally.  So we’ll see how the sequel to the “Undead Tooth of Terror” continues.  Hopefully it will be a happy ending and I will not have to have the work taken out and have to go through a bunch of time again before I can get it fixed.

Cold Enough to be Thankful for Global Warming

If anyone hasn’t noticed it has been pretty cold across the eastern 2/3rds of the United States as well as many other countries in the Northern Hemisphere.  In fact it has been like record setting cold all over the place, Europe, Asia, North America and even places like Peru.  Trains are getting buried in snow drifts in China, record snow and cold elsewhere and even the little lake in my neighborhood has ice forming on it.  There is no relief in sight.  Forecasters are saying that this could be the coldest winter in at least 245 years.  Back when I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s climatologists were predicting a coming ice age and encouraged folks to dress warm for a long time.  Then in the late 1980s and early 1990s there came a movement saying that everything was getting warmer at an alarming rate.  This has grown into the Global Warming movement and dare I say industry.  We had a very mild summer this year and it has been cold as hell this winter.  Now I am not a climatologist but if needed cold play one on TV.  It is my ersatz climatologist persona that says that I don’t think that some of the real climatologists are telling us the whole truth.  To me it seems that the global warming thing may not be all that it is cracked up to be.  All I can say is that if there is global warming I’m glad that we have it because we would really be freezing our asses off.  Even so I will dress warm and put on my gloves.  At least the dog doesn’t mind the cold so long as it is not raining.

Randy Johnson Winning Game 300

Finally an era in baseball has passed.  Future Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson officially retired from the game today.  The 46 year old Johnson pitched 22 years beginning his career at Montreal with most of the time with the Mariners and Diamondbacks but with stints with the Astros, Yankees and his last season with the Giants.  In his career he won 5 Cy Young Awards, pitched a no-hitter and a perfect game, and was a 10 time All-Star and the 2001 World Series MVP.  Over the years he pitched in 618 games, starting 603 of them. In those games he pitched a total of 4135.1 innings won 303 games and had a career 3.29 ERA and was second only to the legendary Nolan Ryan with 4875 strikeouts.  The batting average against him was only .221.  He was one of the most feared pitchers to play the game almost any hitter who had to face him would tell you that he would rather not have to face Johnson.  Johnson was known at times for his intensity a piercing gaze and at times snarling look at batters, and an at times equally icy relationship with reporters.  What is truly amazing about Johnson is that he achieved what he did against a plethora of players who have either admitted to using or highly suspected of using steroids and other performance enhancing substances.  He pitched his last season with the Giants where he got his 300th win.  The season was certainly not his best and he finished the season on the disabled list, however we saw a man who was genuinely appreciative of the game and those with who he played.  As a person who at times can be testy and give good glares and snarls I understand someone like Johnson who pushed himself hard and came back from injuries to stay competitive well past the age that most other players are ensconced in second careers or retirement. Even more so because I have played on a number of teams within the military and I am now quite a bit older than most people my rank.  Randy Johnson has had a magnificent career and I wonder if we will see another 300 game winner anytime soon.

On a humorous note I had a comment to my “about” page from someone with the ID of “El Cid.”  Seems that Sid believes that I am deceived of course not providing me any help to see just what I am deceived about. His comment “You are so deceived” stuck a chord in me.  So I just had to respond.  Here is that response:

“Cool, don’t know what about but glad to get comments like this. Must be doing something right. The fact that you refer to yourself as El Cid shows me that you fancy yourself a General in the fight against the Moors or have delusions of being Charlton Heston.”

So anyway, as I take my pain meds and head off to bed I wish everyone a good night.

Peace,

Steve+

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Padre Steve’s World: Top 10 articles of 2009

I began Padre Steve’s World Back in February of 2009. I started it mainly as a place to write about my experience in the Iraq War and my struggle with PTSD. It initial was, and on occasion still is a vehicle to help integrate those experiences into my life so that I might experience some measure of healing.  When I began this site I really did not expect it to become what it has become.

Now as anyone knows I am a member of the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park Parish and that the Deity Herself speaks to me through Baseball.  That combined with the fact that I am a historian somewhat of a military theorist means that I love statistics.  I also love to look at facts, data and interesting stories and try to make sense of them. I do this with baseball of course, as well as how leaders can apply lessons of the past to present conflicts and recognize dangers of their possible courses of action.

I am an introvert but writing has helped me get out of myself.  I have ended up writing about people in my life, significant losses experienced at our medical center and how others have made a difference in my life.  As the site matured I found that I was writing less about me and more about other people, history, theory and various social and political events.  Of course the latter frequently stirred up a lot of crap in me so at times, especially dealing with subjects such as “The Lies of World Net Daily” or former Navy Chaplain, defrocked priest, convicted criminal and professional liar Gordon “Chaps” Klingenschmitt.  The site also allowed me to spend a lot of time sharpening my academic research skills as well as writing about baseball.  So this has become something more than a navel gazing site where I pick out the lint of my soul for all to see.  While my experiences pervade a lot of what I write as no one can write in a vacuum one’s experience, training, culture and worldview all influence what we write about and how we interpret events, they are not the central focus of the site anymore.  I think I have about 40 different subject areas that I post on now and who knows if that number will grow.

During this past year I have met a lot of people in person and online and had a good number of people post some very kind comments as well as some very challenging ones.  On the rather amazing side I have had people from my past, like the UCLA Army ROTC “Chief Lord of Discipline” Colonel Bruce Lawson find me and look me up as well as the son of the late Master Sergeant Harry Zilkan who was out training NCO as well as others.  I have had visitors and comments from around the world including the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Singapore, Australia and Russia.  In all I have had over 700,000 views of the site since February and thousands of clicks on individual articles.  The comments that touch me the most are those who comment that what I write has touched them, helped them or provided them added knowledge about a given subject as well as those that in my more difficult times have offered me encouragement and prayed for me.  Through this I have also come across some very good bloggers and writers that I enjoy reading.  It has provided me a new network of acquaintances and associates to bounce ideas off of and have input from.  So I have to say that this has been a very helpful thing for me this past year and has given me ideas that I hope will one day will get published.  I have over the past year discovered some topics that I would like to publish and a I am ruminating on those even now.

My top 10 articles this year are listed here, as you can see they represent a wide range of topics:

Star Trek, God and Me 1966 to 2009

The USS Enterprise NCC-1701 B

I posted this on May 29th 2009 and to date it has 6827 hits.  This was done on a lark and kind of took on a life of its own. There is a reason that Star Trek is so popular after over 40 years.  It is that it touches people’s lives and the stories, though set in the future are about the human condition and people can relate to them even now.   I know I do and that was the point of this article. The post still gets 10-40 hits a day.

The Ideological War: How Hitler’s Racial Theories Influenced German Operations in Poland and Russia

Einsatzgruppen at Work

I published this article on September 14th 2009 and it now has gathered a total of 3649 hits. This article is a revision of an academic paper that I wrote for my Masters Degree in Military History.  I have studied modern German History, 1870 to the present for many years; in fact the bulk of my undergraduate history studies involved the topic.  In particular the period from the fall of the Kaiser in 1918, the German Civil War, the Weimar Republic and the Nazi Period have been my specialty.  When I posted this I expected that it would primarily be read by history wonks like me but it seems to have gained a substantial number of readers and still picks up a decent number of daily hits.

Halloween Book Burning Update: Bring the Marshmallows Please!

Pastor Marc of Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Book and Bible Burner and Heretic Confronter in Chief

I posted this on October 25th as a follow up to an article about a little Baptist Church that was hosting a book burning.  I found the subject fascinatingly terrible and had to write about it.  Humor blended with satire, history, religion, sociology and a bit of dare I say sarcasm created a monster.  This is my fastest growing article.  It’s funny how that “Old Tyme Religion” can get you going.  To date this post has 3292 hits.

The Forgotten Cold Warriors

Icon of the Cold War: The Berlin Wall Goes Up

I wrote this back on July 26th 2009 as a tribute to those who served in a truly forgotten war, the Cold War.  It now has gathered 2906 hits. As a Cold War vet myself like my dad I have felt for many years that the American government and both political parties have done little to recognize those who served, frequently in harm’s way during this conflict that spanned the globe over a period of 40 years.  I imagine that the same is true in Russia and the former Warsaw Pact nations. The article still gets a decent number of daily views, not like the top three but still a good number showing me that a significant number of people have feelings for those who served as well as their own service during the Cold War.

D-Day- Courage, Sacrifice and Luck, the Costs of War and Reconciliation

Omaha Beach at Low Tide

This was published on June 6th 2009 as a tribute to those who served and gave their lives on D-Day and during the Normandy campaign.  It talks about the reconciliation between Allied and German soldiers after the war and I relate it to my own dealings with the Iraqi people and military.  It voices my hope that one day Iraqi and American veterans can have the kind of reconciliation experienced by some of those who fought so hard against one another during the brutal Normandy campaign. To date it has 2887 views. 

Operation “Dachs” My First Foray into the Genre “Alternative History”

Field Marshall Erich Von Manstein

This article was posted on August 9th 2009 and was a rewrite of a paper I wrote in one of my Masters Degree classes.  It was inspired by Kenneth Macksey’s alternative history “Disaster at D-Day.” It was unusual in the fact that I wrote an alternative history as if it had actually taken place using real sources, people, places and events and writing as if the “what ifs” had actually occurred. In this case that would be the success of the March 1943 attempt on Hitler’s life had succeeded.  It has 2314 hits to date and still gathers a decent number of hits making me wonder if it has potential for expansion as a possible book. 

Cowboys Stadium meets Seinfeld: A Scoreboard and a Nose that You Can’t Miss

Cowboy’s Stadium and its Massive Scoreboard

This post combined my twisted sense of Seinfeld like humor into what I think is a pretty witty post about the monstrous scoreboard at the new Cowboy’s Stadium in Arlington Texas.  It seems to get a decent number of hits whenever the Cowboys play.  I wrote it on August 30th 2009 and it has 1570 hits to date.

Turning Points: The Battle of Midway, Randy Johnson Gets his 300th Win and Chief Branum Gets Her Star

SBD Dauntless Dive Bombers at Midway

This article was posted on June 4th 2009 and dealt with three different but for me interrelated events.  The first was a tribute to those who fought at the Battle of Midway, the second future Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson getting his 300th career win as a member of the San Francisco and a fallen Shipmate, Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Pamela Branum who was posthumously promoted to Senior Chief at her memorial service.  To date it has 1449 views and a significant number of comments.

These Boots were Made for Walking: The Navy NWU Suede boots

The NWU and its Boots

This was one of my earlier posts done on April 18th 2009 and provided my review of the new US Navy suede work boot which is worn with the Naval Working Uniform or the NWU.  It has surprised me that it has garnered 1332 hits.  It was a follow up article to a humorous article that I had written previously about all the different kinds of camouflage uniforms in use by the US Military entitled: The NWU- Now we all have different camouflage.

Memorable Recruiting Slogans and the All Volunteer Force


This article was a humorous look back at some of the military recruiting slogans that have been around since the beginning of the “All Volunteer” military in the mid 1970s.  I posted it on May 4th 2009 and it now has 1084 hits.

Other Articles of Interest

Since I have posted well over 300 articles to the site since its creation I have listed some other articles that I thought were significant below:

Baseball in Between Life and Death in the ICU

Mortain to Market-Garden: A Study in How Armies Improvise in Rapidly Changing Situations

The Treaty Cruisers: A Warship Review

Sometimes You Wanna go Where Everybody Knows Your Name

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts-Thoughts on 26 Years of Commissioned Service

You Win a Few, You Lose a Few. Some Get Rained Out. But You Got to Dress for All of Them

Remembering the Veterans in My Life…Memorial Day 2009

Alzheimer’s Disease, Ghost Fleets and Waiting for the End

Reformation Day: How Martin Luther and Hans Kung Brought Me to an Anglo-Catholic Perspective, a Book and Bible Burning Reaches Ludicrous Speed and Yankees take Game Three 8-5

My Brotherhood of War

Connecting…Baseball and Having My Dad Back for a Few Minutes

Lessons for the Afghan War: The Effects of Counterinsurgency Warfare on the French Army in Indo-China and Algeria and the United States Military in Vietnam

The Uncomfortable Legacy of Colonel General Ludwig Beck

A Christian Defense of the Rights of Moslems and Others in a Democracy (or Constitutional Republic)

I like Jesus very much, but He no help with Curveball

Comebacks in Baseball and Life: 27 Outs- the Baltimore Orioles teach us a Lesson in Life

Here’s to you Jackie Robinson

The Demons of PTSD: Abandonment

Doubt and Faith: My Crisis in Faith and Why I am Still a Christian an Advent Meditation

Padre Steve’s World Series Prediction and Book and Bible Burning Update

Dien Bien Phu- Reflections 55 Years Later

Brothers to the End…the Bond between those Who Serve Together in Unpopular Wars

World Series Game Six: Duel of the Old Dogs

The 2009 Season at Harbor Park…the View from 102 a Season in Pictures

I guess that is enough for anyone who wants to poke around on the site.  There is a place to subscribe to this site via e-mail if you want as well as a place to subscribe to comments.

I look forward to a good year of writing as life goes on.  I pray that you have a wonderful New Year.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Crossing the Mendoza Line: It’s not All about the Lifetime Batting Average

Hammock Grand SlamRobby Hammock Crossing the Plate after his Grand Slam in the Bottom of the 6th against Charlotte

When I was playing baseball I hit somewhere around the Mendoza line.  I was never much of a hitter but I made up for my lack of hitting by being pretty solid defensively, a pretty versatile utility player and hustling on every play.  Likewise I would be the guy encouraging other players.   On two different teams in two different sports I was named the “Most Inspirational Player” by my teammates.  Being the most inspirational player does not mean that you are a particularly good ballplayer but rather that you add something else to the team dynamic.  In fact you may not be admired for how well you play, but rather how hard you try and how you get along with your team mates.  I was talking to my dad who is now in a nursing home with end stage Alzheimer’s disease on my last visit.  In a rare moment I had him back talking baseball I thanked him for how he helped me learn to love the game, pitch and field, especially fielding.  I said to him, the only thing that you didn’t do was teach me to hit.  He looked up at me and said “Son, there are a lot of people who can’t hit, it’s a gift.”  So I guess I was doomed to be a Mendoza Line player.

Mario Mendoza played for the Pirates and Mariners.  To be kind he was an amazing defensive shortstop but he as my dad would have said” Couldn’t hit his way out of a wet paper bag.”  His career average was .215 although he often flitted and flirted with the .180 – .200 level. He never played in an All Star game or World Series.  He never hit more than two home runs in a season, in fact one was an inside the park job playing for the Mariners and he hit below .200 in five of his nine major league seasons.   However, despite that Mario Mendoza lives on in baseball, his name forever associated with a low batting average.  In modern baseball parlance the Mendoza line is considered a batting average of .200.  Credit for who coined the term goes depending on your source to either George Brett, the All-Star Third Baseman of the Kansas City Royals or fellow Seattle Mariners Tom Paciorek or Bruce Bochte from whom Brett may have heard the term.  Either way the term stuck after ESPN commentator Chris Berman who used the term in 1988 to describe the hitting struggles of a star power hitter.  Once Berman made the comment it became a pretty standard way of denoting guys who struggle at the plate.  Mexican sportscaster Oscar Soria corroborates the Paciorek and Bochte version referencing a conversation with Mario Mendoza while Mendoza was managing the Obregon Yaquis in the Mexican Pacific League who stated that Mendoza said “that Tom Paciorek was the first to mention the phrase “Mendoza Line” when he read the Sunday paper” and that “then George Brett heard about that.”  Soria then discussed how Mendoza was initially angered by Berman’s use of the term but now “he enjoys the fame of the phrase Mendoza line.”  For a really good discussion of the Mendoza Line see the article in the Baseball Almanac at: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/books/mendozas_heroes_book.shtml, from which the information above is gleaned.

Now my buddy Elliott the Usher and I have frequent discussions about the game discussing pitching, hitting, fielding, base running, prospects, scouting and strategy.  Elloitt is one of those gems of Baseball knowledge, his love and knowledge of the game shows in the way he deals with people including Major League Scouts, players from the Tides and visiting team who are charting the game and others.  I really think that he should be hired as a commentator or color man on some baseball broadcast.  This season we have enjoyed a lot of laughs as well as had a lot great talks amid the joys and sorrows of the season.  One of our frequent subjects of discussion is players on our team as well as the visiting teams who are hitting near or below the Mendoza Line.  We have a few on the Tides who are hovering at or below the Mendoza line.  A couple of these players are former Major Leaguers and a couple career minor league guys.  Last night I decided to venture out for the first time in two days since I was now getting a case of “cabin fever” and my cocktail of Vicodin, Motrin and Amoxicillin seemed to have my pain and swelling a bit more under control.  Judy said my cheek still looks “like a squirrel’s” but at least I wasn’t in too bad of pain, though when I got up in the morning and until 2 or 3 PM I was still pretty sore and tired.  At least for the majority of the game the pain was manageable and of course as soon as I got home I dumped a butt load of meds down me and went to sleep.

Last night the Tides swept a double header from the Charlotte Knights who are the AAA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.  Since the game was rain delayed after a series of severe storms raked the area in the two hours prior to the first pitch it was not well attended.  Because of this I was able to flit between my buddies Barry down in section 102 and Elliott.   It was good to be able in a fairly relaxed atmosphere to talk about the game.  The Tides had lost the last game prior to the All Star Break in Durham and then the first game back from the break.  In those two games their hitting died and they were outscored 16-3.  Last night Chris Tillman was throwing an outstanding game having given up just one run in the first inning.  It wasn’t until the 6th inning until the Tides scored their first run with one out when Michael Aubry doubled to score Justin Turner to tie the game 1-1.  The Tides then loaded the bases and Brandon Pinkney struck out for the second out.  At this point with the bases loaded, Elliott and I gave a mutual groan.  One of our “below the Mendoza Line” batters, catcher Robby Hammock was coming to the plate.  Robby is a good defensive catcher and while playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks caught Randy Johnson’s perfect game in 2003.  However this year has seen Robby really struggle at the plate.  The count went to two and from the way Robby had been swinging the bat tonight Elliott turned to me and said “I can’t look.”  Robby then fouled off the next pitch.  I said “Elliott he’s dragging this out.” Then I yelled “Hey Mendoza! Get a hit!”   At this point Robby who is currently hitting .190 stood back into the batter’s box.  The pitch from Knight’s reliever John Link was a slider that didn’t cut and Robby planted it in the picnic area in Left Center for a Grand Slam home run.  Elliott and I rejoiced, Robby had maybe gotten the hit that would re-ignite the team for the second half of the season.  This blew the game open and the Tides went on to win 5-1.  Robby was quoted in the Virginia Pilot today about the hit “I closed my eyes and put my bat in the spot” and “I felt decent today, I just got lucky and that’s all there was to it.”  Tides fans are not complaining even if it was lucky, I’m happy for you Robby, you helped get us back on track enjoy the moment and keep hanging in there.

The hitting surge continued in the second game.  Jeff Fiorentino and Michael Aubrey, who are .300 hitters, Fiorentino about .325 right now and way above the Mendoza Line each had 2 hits and drove in two runs while our other way below the Mendoza Line players had a good night. Infielder Carlos Rojas was in at Third due to injuries that forced Manager Gary Allenson to reshuffle the line up.  Carlos is a pretty good defensive player with pretty good range.  However he was only hitting .156 going into the game but went 2-3 with two singles in what I think was his first multi-hit game of the season.  Catcher Chad Moeller who has struggled at the plate since coming down from Baltimore when Matt Wieters was called up also doubled and scored a run as the Tides took the second game 5-1 with Chris Waters getting the win.

All in all it was not a bad night for our guys living below the Mendoza line; hopefully they will all get themselves up above it.  As a member of the Mendoza Line club myself I hope that they all do well and that last night is a harbinger of things to come.  Today my mouth feels a bit better than yesterday though I woke up in some pain.  I plan on seeing tonight’s game with Judy as the Tides hopefully will extend their International League South Division lead over the Durham Bulls by defeating the Knights here again.

Coming back to the Mendoza Line itself the way that guys like Mendoza make their mark is by the intangibles that they bring to the game.  Some of the “Mendoza’s” went on in other ways to make a difference in the game through coaching, managing, scouting at the Major or Minor League level, as well as in sports media, announcing or writing.  Some would include guys like Tony LaRussa career .199 average in 10 seasons, Charlie Manuel .198 in 6 seasons, Bob Uecker career .200 in 6 Major League seasons, Sparky Anderson who hit .218 in one season in the Majors and once said “I led the league in “Go get ’em next time.” Tommy Lasorda was a pitcher and had a 0-4 record and 6.48 ERA in three major league seasons as well as Earl Weaver who never made it to the Majors.  All made lasting marks on the game and all were way below the Mendoza line.

The application to baseball players and non-ball players alike when you find yourself at the Mendoza Line is to make the most out of what you have.  Play to your strengths and know that if you do this you will make a mark, even if it is not at the plate.  I figure as a somewhat well trained and experienced theologian, historian, military officer and Priest that the Deity Herself understands bad days, and lackluster careers and still helps us get through life.  So anyway, as a Mendoza Line alumnus I say to all those hovering around the line, find a way to make your mark and do well, I’m cheering for you as are all the other Mendoza’s among the Saints in Heaven.

Peace, Steve+

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Filed under Baseball, philosophy

Turning Points: The Battle of Midway, Randy Johnson Gets his 300th Win and Chief Branum Gets Her Star

Well, here I am finishing day four of a twelve day home stand at the Medical Center.  It has been pretty busy but hopefully in the end it will all be worth it as we care for patients, family and staff, train our Pastoral Care Residents and remember a dear Shipmate.  It is also a day that we remember the gallant few who won the Battle of Midway from 4-7 June 1942.

naval-battle-of-midwaySBD Dauntless Dive Bombers at Midway

Today, for those that are not that familiar with Naval history is the 67th anniversary of the Battle of Midway.  The battle was the point where the U.S. Navy in spite of extremely heavy odds defeated a Japanese fleet far greater than it.  Had the United States lost at Midway the Japanese would have has such an advantage that they could have dictated the terms of an armistice in the Pacific.

The battle was a near run thing for the U.S. Taking the chance that his intelligence service was correct in determining that Midway Island was the target of the anticipated Japanese attack.  Three US aircraft carriers, the Yorktown, Enterprise and Hornet supported by a handful of cruisers and destroyers faced the majority of the Japanese fleet.  Led by the First Carrier Strike Group composed of the carriers Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu and Soryu the Japanese expected to sweep the handful of American ships from the sea. After a strike against Midway Island and turning back abortive American attacks by land based aircraft and the Torpedo Bomber squadrons from the three American flattops it seemed that all was going the Japanese way.  The Americans had suffered heavy casualties.  Most of Midway’s land based fighters were shot down defending the Island.  Land based attack squadrons lost half of their number, and the three American Torpedo Bomber Squadrons from the Yorktown, Enterprise and Hornet were decimated.  Flying underpowered, under armed and under armored TBD Devastator’s they were overwhelmed by the Japanese combat air patrol Mitsubishi A6M2 (Type-21) “Zeros.”  Torpedo-8 from the Hornet lost all 15 aircraft with only one survivor, Ensign George Gay.  Torpedo-3 from Yorktown and Torpedo-6 from Enterprise lost most of their aircraft.  However the sacrifice of the Torpedo squadrons was not in vain.

The Japanese strike group under the command of Admiral Nagumo was confused by scouting reports about the status of American ships in the area.  The confusion led to disorder even as the Japanese were destroying the American Torpedo squadrons.   Finally the Japanese force was ready to start launch against the American task force.  Just as their carriers turned into the wind the American SBD Dauntless Dive Bombers, from the Enterprise and Yorktown Squadrons dove upon the Japanese carriers.  The Japanese combat air patrol was down low mopping up the remnants of the Torpedo squadrons. The Japanese carriers were at their most vulnerable point.  With fully armed and fueled aircraft on their deck and hanger bays and with hastily discarded bombs still on deck the Akagi, Kaga and Soryu received fatal blows.  Admiral Nagumo, stunned by the attack abandoned his dying flagship, the Akagi for the light cruiser Nagara.  Admiral Tamaguchi on Hiryu valiantly continued to fight.  He launched his “Val” Dive Bombers against the Americans.  They found the Yorktown.  Despite grievous losses they scored hits and thought that they had crippled the Yorktown.  The crew valiantly recovered, restored power and propulsion and was back in action.  The Japanese then sent out a squadron of “Kate” Torpedo Bombers in search of the Enterprise and Hornet.  Instead they found a seemingly undamaged Yorktown which they mistook for another ship.  Again despite heavy losses they scored hits and Yorktown was abandoned.  As this played out Diver Bombers from Hornet and Enterprise found Hiryu and hit her with six 500 pound bombs. Fatally hit Hiryu was abandoned.

mikuma

Finally the day came to an end.  On the 6th the Japanese Cruiser Mikuma was sunk by American Dive Bombers and on the 7th the Yorktown which had been re-boarded and was being salvaged was sunk along with the Destroyer Hammann was sunk by the Japanese Submarine I-168 while being towed from the battle area.  In  all the Japanese lost 4 of their best carriers, all embarked aircraft and a Heavy Cruiser.  The loss, especially of trained pilots was devastating to the Japanese.  Within two months the Americans were beginning a counter offensive at Guadalcanal.  Midway was what historian Walter Lord called the “Incredible Victory,” and is known by some as the “Miracle at Midway.”  The Battle was a major turning point in the Pacific War.  Despite the losses the Japanese still held a major advantage over the Americans.  The Guadalcanal campaign would grind down Japanese forces.

Midway is important.  It showed what a smaller and less capable fleet could decisively defeat a larger and better trained and equipped force.  It was also the “high water mark” of the Japanese in the Pacific. Today and for the next three days it is important to remember the heroes of the Battle of Midway.

Giants Nationals BaseballRandy Johnson

Today also was the day that Randy Johnson, the “Big Unit” pitched his 300th Major League win, joining only 23 others who have achieved this milestone.  John scored most of his victories with the Mariners and Diamondbacks.   It was interesting for me as a Giants fan as he won his 300th with the Giants.

Finally, an addition to last night:  Chief Hospital Corpsman Pamela Branum who passed away on deployment will be posthumously promoted to Senior Chief Petty Officer having been selected for promotion by the latest board.  She had worked hard for this and deserved it.  Her promotion will be read at her Memorial Service on Tuesday June 9th at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth.  She will be buried with honors at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.  Senior Chief Branum will be missed by all. I spend most of today with her co-workers and friends.  She was a special person.  I did not know her for long, but both really liked her and was honored to serve with her.  May God bless her and give her peace.

chief branumSenior Chief Hospital Corpsman Pamela Branum

Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Pamela Branum. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming.  Receive her into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light.  Amen.

Peace, Steve+

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Filed under Baseball, Loose thoughts and musings, Military, Navy Ships