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Road Trip to See the Stockton Ports

Bakersfield Blaze outfielder David Paisano slides in ahead of the throw to third in the 1st inning

With my dad’s memorial service now in the past and having done all that I can do in fighting through government and business bureaucracies I went to see my old “home town” team play at Banner Island Park. As you all know by now baseball is one of the few things that help bring order to my world in times of stress, grief and loss which pretty much describes the past week.

My association with the Ports goes back to the days in the early 1970s when they played a Billy Herbert Field and were the “Single-A” affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.  They enjoyed that relationship from about 1958 to 1972.  The fact that they were an orioles farm team and that on “hat day” they gave away Orioles caps caused me to have some interest in the Orioles throughout my life to the point now that I can say that with the Giants and A’s that they are one of my favorite ball clubs despite the fact that they have not had a winning season in 13 years.  The Ports now belong to the Athletics’ organization playing in the California League which along with the Carolina League are consider “High Single A” leagues, so they have some good talented players that do have a legitimate chance to get to the big leagues.  Their new home which replaced the venerable Billy Herbert Field is a marvelous facility that sits on the Stockton Channel with a “splash down” area over the right field wall and concourse. It is a wonderful venue to see a ball game and I recommend it if you are ever around Stockton when the Ports are in town.

Ports Catcher Ramon Soto after applying the tag at home to Andres James in the 2nd inning

Tonight the Ports played the Bakersfield Blaze of the Texas Rangers farm system the first game of a three game home stand prior to the July 4th Weekend. I got to the park a bit early and got my ticket for a seat directly behind home plate in the first row. Like about any minor league park on a really hot day, it was well over 100 today in Stockton, but no humidity, the Monday night crowd was sparse and I sat near some gents that knew the Ports, California League and the A’s system well. I also as is my custom struck up a conversation with one of the ushers as well to ensure that I could move around to get some photos.

Michael Madsen gets a called strike against a Blaze hitter

The game was low scoring; the Blaze scored one run in the 1st inning when John Whittleman singled off of Ports starting pitcher Michael Madsen to score David Paisano from third. They scored another in the second when Andres James doubled to score Doug Hogan who had been hit by a pitch with two outs.  Apart from those two runs the pitching staff of both teams shut down the offense of the other team. The Ports mounted no real threat and scattered only 6 hits scoring none of the 4 runners that reach scoring position.

Ports relief pitcher Scott Deal fields a sacrifice bunt by Andres James in the 7th inning

While I was at the game I found out that former Norfolk Tides infielder Brandon Pinckney who hails from Elk Grove up by Sacramento had just been picked up by the Athletics and signed to a minor league free agent deal with the Ports. At the end of last season Brandon became a free agent and signed with the Phillies who released him on the 15th of June.  After the game I was able to welcome Brandon back to California where while it is definitely hot in Stockton there is no humidity.  Once the sun set tonight the temps were very comfortable.

In Norfolk the Tides dropped the final game of their home stand to the Louisville Bats by a score of 7-2 and in Baltimore, don’t look now but the Orioles have won 4 in a row sweeping the Nationals in Baltimore this weekend and face the Athletics tomorrow at Camden Yards. The Orioles designated First Baseman Garrett Atkins for assignment.

Tomorrow my Road trip continues and I will see the Ports take on the Blaze in a game that will be nationally televised on the MLB Network at 11:05 Pacific Standard Time and 2:05 Eastern Standard Time. I will be wearing my Norfolk Tides black road jersey and hopefully will have a sign to say hello to any of my friends watching the game. I will be attending it with an old high school classmate and retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Tony Melendez.

See you there.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under Baseball, Batlimore Orioles, norfolk tides

34 Hours: Reflections on Family, Service and Baseball amid Life and Death

91788333NM088_New_York_YankJohn Lackey and the Angels fought back to Send the ALCS back to New York defeating the Yankess 7-6 in Anaheim

Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

I’m a bit reflective today after a long on-call duty in the medical center that lasted from about 0615 on Wednesday until 1630 today.  About 34 hours in house with about 4 hours of fitful sleep as I left my sleep meds at home.  It was a busy night and once again it seemed that I was dealing with patients and families similar to mine.  The patients were retired Navy Chief Petty Officers about the age of my father and of course their children, who like me are “Navy Brats.”  I’m pretty tired as the day has been very full complete with me being the acting department head for much of the day and having to deal with a number of situations outside the clinical setting.  It’s kind of funny how “Company Commander Steve” can show back up, and thankfully not in a bad or asshole kind of way. I guess that the Deity Herself has given me a bit of grace to only allow the best of the old company commander to show up.  Thankfully I work with a lot of really great people.

Last night was very intense and there were no easy cases, all took a long time and the work went deep into the night. I did not even get a chance to catch any of the Phillies game against the Evil Dodgers.  I only found out the Phillies had won before I trundled off to the call room about 0200.  Of course for me there was cause for rejoicing as my “anti-Dodgers” wear did not go the waste, which is of course my San Francisco Giants apparel.   What I find interesting is just how many of the players in both the NLCS and ALCS that I have seen play in the minors to include Shane Victorino who I saw a lot in Kinston North Carolina when he played for the Kinston Indians, and Ryan Howard who I saw the first time playing for the Reading Phillies in Harrisburg back on our wedding anniversary in 2004.

It is humbling to be with people who have similar histories to me and my family and to be with them as they “walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.” Of course what goes through my mind is that I would hope that there would be someone there for my parents, especially my dad who still lingers in a nursing facility with end stage Alzheimer’s disease.  My mother seems more introspective and reflective than she has been in a long time. She seems to be preparing for the inevitable with my dad, trying to visit him within the limits of her physical condition and letting him know that she loves him and even tries to be with him when one of their Lutheran pastors when he brings Communion to my father.  Likewise she seems to be preparing just in case something happens to her, asking me to help her decide the disposition of various belongings.  This is a first.  So I wonder what is going on.

Since my dad has held on for many months longer than his physicians expected I will be travelling to California to visit my parents to see them as well as well as take care of more administrative, banking and other matters with my brother and mother.   I’ll be out there about a week.

It is funny too that all of this is taking place during the MLB playoffs and in particular as the Angels are playing the Yankees in Anaheim.   Our time in Long Beach California was probably one of the most magical couple of years in my childhood, and much was due to the time that my dad took in teaching me the game of baseball and taking me to game after game at Anaheim Stadium.

Me and Lefty PhillipsMemories at Anaheim Stadium, Me with Manager Lefty Phillips in 1970

As I looked at the stadium I can see the areas that we would sit when we attended the games.  Since dad always got us there as soon as the gates opened we would get to see batting practice, shag fly balls and meet players before the game.  That really was a special time and really did make a lasting impression on me, so as I watch the game tonight I am more reflective than usual, not in a morose way but in a way that somehow blends appreciation for those that I am honored to serve with in their life crisis, my own family situation as well as baseball and wonderful memories from the “Big A.”

Tonight’s game was full of drama and for the most part free of the egregious bad calls.  The Angels went up 4-0 in the first inning and then in the top of the 7th the Yankees scored 6 runs.  The Angles came right back in the bottom of the 7th scoring three of their own to go back up 7-6.  The drama continued in the 8th and finally with the bases loaded after an intentional walk, a walk and a hit batsman Nick Swisher popped up to end the game. The series goes back to New York with the Angels resurgent after being clobbered by the Yankees in game 4.

Well, I’m tired and it’s time to go to bed.

Peace, Padre Steve+

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Filed under alzheimer's disease, Baseball