Archive for the ‘The Sporting Life’ Category

I Should Be…..

Washing the dishes.  Watering the garden. Any number of things.  Instead, I’m thinking about how Pedro Martinez reminded me of Yojimbo last night. ( One of my all time favorite movies, that and Sanjuro, of course.)  But:  That merest flick of a backward glance while walking off the mound.  And since Matsui was the only one who, initially at  least, seemed to figure out what was going on, the–er–motif got firmly fixed in my pliable little brain.  Oh, baseball.  As long as I can watch it, just watch the game, watch the people moving, and not think about all the money and owner weirdnesses and all, I am happy.  There is a kind of discipline to the game that is like a martial art, in the way one has to devote oneself to the skills and techniques until they become second nature.  And nature always has the last word: Luck, chance, weather, so many things enter into what happens in a baseball game.  It is really like life.  In that, you never know, sort of way.

And indeed, one never DOES know.  I went to see my client in the nursing home today and everyone was dressed for Halloween.  I didn’t recognize anybody, they’d costumed and switched up wheelchairs and all sorts of things.  Werewolves! Goddesses! Border Patrol Agents! And everyone was having a fantastic time of it as a result.  Slipping off their identities and entering into the spirit of the holiday- which, being about the bridge between the worlds of “life” and “death”, is actually appropriate for such a locale- with great humor and joy.  The ability to be anonymous lent everyone an energy and …an abandon.  A freedom.  Which is precisely the point of it all, really.  Entering into life with one’s heart.  No guarantee of a win or a good ERA or success OR failure.  It just IS and you might as well jump.  So it was pretty amazing to see all these people, who live lives many  would consider totally impossible, being collectively happy and, actually,  powerful, in a funny way.  The werewolf scared the hell out of me, to be honest.  It turned out he’s one of the people who don’t speak, but I finally recognized him from his particular laugh.  Oh, he thought it was hilarious sneaking up on me in that infernal wheelchair!  I of course, being the mature person I am, laughed so hard I got the hiccups, which made everyone else giggle even more.  Dude.  Always a source of entertainment, we are.  At least I didn’t fall down.

There is a kind of piercing, yet suspended, sense to things today.  Maybe it’s the weather- warm, actually, blindingly clear.  The intensity of the colors of things against the sky.  We’re on the Pacific Flyway so there is always something amazing flying around–I saw a flock of small birds wheeling through the air earlier, watched them in a clustered group, then a circle, then a long line, constantly forming and reforming.  Sometimes you could see them and sometimes the sun hit their wings and turned them so white they disappeared.  Finally they expanded from the clump to the long sinuous line and all of a sudden: They were gone.   It’s really all quite something, isn’t it.

The Last Straw

I read an article in today’s S.F. Chronicle by Ray Ratto (LOVE HIM) concerning my beloved baseball team, the Oakland Athletics.  I’m sick at heart but the mounting sense I’ve had that something is deeply wrong but maybe I’m crazy finally emerged from the murky realms of not knowing.  Darkness is indeed afoot.  I am dumbfounded by the perfidy of it all.

The A’s are having a rotten season.  Rotten.  The Partner and I, and many of my friends, have been watching them, feeling uneasy, wondering what on earth is going on.  Well, NOW I KNOW.  Ratto’s article prompted me to do some research on the A’s owner, John Fisher.  Whaddaya know.  This guy is a conservative Republican from way back, part of the special group of people who have, whether you want to admit it or not, brought us to this freefall into the toilet we’re calling the economy, and the society.  Take the money, provide nothing.  California has been being run by these people and you can see, if you read the news, where that has gotten us.  It is ugly.  I am a native Californian and can not believe my eyes.  Anyway, this guy even abuses the land he owns up north and logs.  Take the logs, take the money.  Retreat to your multi-million dollar home and spend, spend, spend.   Meanwhile, the team is without guidance and foundation, because it has an owner who thinks about one thing.  Money.  He has had some idea (using the term idea very loosely) that they should move to San Jose.  Why? Those high rolling money days are over…but perhaps he doesn’t know that, being one of the few hundred richest people IN THE WORLD.   The team has been in Oakland for a long time.  Had a marvelous history.  Has a great and loyal fan base.  But, uh oh.  The fans aren’t rich! OOOOOOOOH.  They are, alot of them, what used to be called middle, and also working, class people.  ‘Cept excuse me, that doesn’t exist anymore much around here.  I guess he reckons that, well, Silicon Valley! Rich people! and some other things I’m not going to go into, but….Oakland! Poor people!   No brainer! Move the team to the rich people place! yesssssss! 

Except, no.  The A’s are rapidly becoming one of the worst teams in the Majors.  They don’t deserve that.  We don’t deserve that.  My vote? We need new ownership, new leadership, new management.  Meantime, the owners we do have need to try and learn how to be human beings and have respect for the game of baseball and those who play it.  And for the fans, who basically keep them, the owners, in the chips.  Lest we forget.

Solar Storms

The Fourth of July is always quite the thing here.  We live right on the parade route.  Our next door neighbor has his major party of the year on the Fourth, too, complete with Enormous Professional Musician Sound System and lots of people and vodka.  This year, besides the extra fun of the Fire Arts people doing their explosion performance (where? Must you ask, Gentle Reader? WHERE DO YOU THINK THEY DID IT? ) in front of the Driveway From Hell, aka My Driveway,  we also had The Guy In Back deciding to put in his two cents about the decibel level by pointing HIS “sound system” directly at our fence and thus indirectly at Party Central, and cranking it all the way up.  Let me tell you, it was special.  But, once I did enough deep breathing to realize that there was indeed a spot on the driveway where I could stand and just be vibrated through by all the sound, it was really fine and actually a lot of fun. On with hearing loss.  The street is closed for the major part of the day so unless we want to leave at 5 a.m. which we always vow to do and then don’t,  we’re kind of stuck in wall to wall people and cacophony.  The two year old next door decided he didn’t care a fig about the parade either except the brief horse appearance, and spent most of his time pottering around our garden with the Partner, having discovered how to work our water hose and also the joys of watering cans.  He’s already mastered the garage door opener and we spent quite some time watching him open and close the door.  We assumed he was cackling with laughter as usual in these cases: It looked like it, but  since you couldn’t hear yourself think, there was no ability or need to talk.  It was oddly restful.

However, we did see two solar flares.  Split second huge brightness followed by a blast of blistering heat.  Nobody but us seemed to notice.  But I think there WAS something to it, as the day was oddly enervating and I didn’t see a single person without a sunburn, which is somewhat unusual among this sunblock conscious crowd.

I made couscous (nice! sweated shallots and bell peppers before adding the water to boil the couscous in) among other things for dinner that night, which…well.  I was quite happy with the unintentionally lovely shape the leftovers took on, unmolded the whole thing onto a plate last night to reheat in the microwave.  And? voila.  It exploded.  So that’s how I know a) there WERE solar flares and b) try as I might to improve myself, nothing has really changed.  Tootles.

While I’m At It I’m Still Mad

Who will police the police?  as Juvenal asked centuries ago.  To whom is Major League Baseball responsible: To whom do they answer and who makes the rules?  The MLB is sort of the OG of baseball now:  It’s like they cruise around the game in black Navigators with tinted windows.   

You never hear their actions being discussed or questioned.  Heck: They’re WAY more untouchable than an Umpire.  Top down and that is it.  ( No wonder George Bush still wants to be Commissioner of Baseball.  Perfect for him: No supervision, no rules, no questions. Lots of power and no vehicle code. )  I can’t help but think there is more to the Manny situation than meets the eyeball.  And the people who are bringing him to task don’t have to provide any answers on their end.  I don’t like it.  It just feels wrong, and it’s not altogether clear which part of it smells the worst. 

It may seem strange, Gentle Reader, that your Humble Herbalist gets completely and entirely torched off about this.  I didn’t really appreciate Manny much initially until I started paying attention to how he played the game.  Baseball is a game I really love- and I am most definitely not a sports fanatic.  Almost everything else, ho hum.  But baseball.  Baseball is like life, it’s zen like in a way.  Anything can happen , things go as they go.  Concentration and focus in the now is what counts.  Plus dedication, preparation, loving it.  For all that I respect Manny.  For mucking around with the one thing besides cooking that saves my sanity every year, that first crack of the bat is like the ice thawing on a river for me, I don’t respect MLB.  They could have dealt with this without humiliating Ramirez, if indeed a problem even exists.  But they chose to do something that punishes him publicly, to my mind for who he IS as much as anything.  It’s bad for baseball if you ask me.  Even if you don’t.

OK Now I Am Really Mad

I’m sorry, Gentle Reader, but this suspension of Manny Ramirez for 50 games is just not right.  I think, really? It is a big case of sour grapes.  An example of the stabbing hand coming out from behind the curtain.  Manny is, essentially, an example of the better ball player all around, over all, period, and has been since he was a kid.   He works hard.  He doesn’t dance to anybody’s tune, particularly.  He loves baseball.  People are jealous.  This suspension totally stinks.

He tested positive for a “prohibited substance.” Which we found out after alot of blather and malarkey from commentators was linked to elevated testosterone.  The commentator said, one, he’s playing better than he has since his late 20’s as though that was indicative of wrongdoing.  JEEEEZ.  Maybe he’s just happy? Ever think of that?  Out of the grip of the Red Sox Nation at last, in California, playing for a  great Manager?  Another commentator said, there’s no real reason a man would take this drug.  Again, wrong.  Many men actually DO supplement their testosterone.  Do your research.  It isn’t just to pop the seams on your shirt, it is to maintain proper over all hormonal and organ function.  Further, two other players take this same stuff, but since they Asked Permission, it’s OK.  I guess Manny just went to his doctor all by himself, without having anybody else in the room with him.  Hooooo boy. Naughty.  The fact that he didn’t issue a torrent of words about this is damning, according to these guys, too.  Manny is not a stupid individual.  He wouldn’t take something that could wreck his career; he also knows how the deck is stacked, I’m betting.  He went to school in Boston, after all.  Since he didn’t say MLB may I? the result is no mystery, and to me his response was gracious, dignified,  and clear.  And enough.  The whole question of the use of pharmaceuticals in sports is far from clear, but this is no way to provide clarity.  If it’s OK to take this if you tell someone, then it’s OK to take it.  It’s nobody’s business, really, if you are taking things that actually can support your body.  Things that give you temporary “advantages” should be screened for and dealt with.  Manny’s record speaks for itself.  He is someone who plays great baseball.  He doesn’t NEED to give himself an advantage.  He’s a natural.   In keeping with that, he’s a different breed of cat, for sure.  That doesn’t mean he’s dishonest and it doesn’t mean he’s a cheater.

To me, this is a witch hunt.  Los Angeles baseball fans? Get up and let these people know loud and clear the Dodgers will prevail regardless of this ridiculous episode.  I guess if it has to be, July 5th is a good day to come back, Manny:  Fireworks.