Monthly Archives: October 2012

Hurricane Sandy, and other things

It’s Monday morning here in Southern New Hampshire. Hurricane Sandy is spinning and moving in towards land in the Northeast. School has been cancelled here in our town today. All youth hockey practices have been cancelled today/tonight for our youth program. As hockey players/parents know, hockey never gets cancelled. Needless to say, this is HUGE.

I have a son at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, which currently, is further from the storm than the rest of us. This storm is massive and will affect thousands of miles of land in the U.S. and Canada. Activities and classes are running as scheduled at Dartmouth today.

I have a son at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, CT. Classes and activities there have already been closed for today and tomorrow. They are expecting wind gusts as high as 65-70 miles per hour today and into tomorrow. Naturally, I’m worried. He’s just upset there’s no team weightlifting for baseball today.

My wife is at work, unfortunately. Fidelity, like hockey, rarely, if ever, gets shut down. Hopefully she’ll return safely to us very soon.

Here, we have things tied down. We have prepared as best we can. I’m worried about the two oak trees closest to the house in the back yard. They’re both going to be blowing toward the house as today’s wind patterns intensify.

These things are visible, tangible, and only so much of it is within our control. So, I pray as I can only control so much. As much as I worry or share concern here, some 600+ miles from here lies another concern. My uncle is in the hospital, recovering from a knee replacement, and two days later, a heart attack. He’s been hanging by threads, many of which we cannot see. He has his family with, and around him. They are the threads we can see. Thousands of prayers for his recovery and God’s will, continue to be prayed. Please get well soon.

Hurricane Sandy 10-29-2012
(photo by University of Wisconsin)

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Hurricane Sandy
(Courtesy the Wall Street Journal)

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Hurricane Sandy
(photo by University of Wisconsin)

Figure it out!

As the baseball season winds down and new names are written into the great history of post-season baseball, I can’t help but grow increasingly upset with the NHL. After all the momentum hockey has seen in recent years, with HD TV, original six teams winning Cups, TV contracts, and young stars emerging, they shoot themselves in the foot…again. Three work stoppages under one regime? For all the positives, players playing the game of hockey is whole reason there is a league. C’mon guys! Figure it out! Under Bettman there has been the equivalent of 1.5 full NHL seasons not played, cancelled, or otherwise lost. It starts at the top, with leadership, or at least the people in leadership positions. I know these professional leagues are a business. Remember, without the games itself, there is no business.

So, as baseball’s Fall Classic moves into the home of Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, and Nicklas Lidstrom, I will continue to enjoy our national pastime, trying not to think of the NHL season that isn’t. If, there is a hockey season, I will watch my Bruins, maybe. I love hockey that much. I won’t be buying the NHL Center Ice package, I won’t go to any games, nor will I buy any NHL merchandise. For now, it’s still baseball season and I hope this series is epic, while reminding Detroit and every other NHL city that within the competition of sport greatness is achieved.

It’s a new day

Just give up, tis okay when times are tough
Unless of course, the sun does come up

Closer to the truth?

Let me start by saying that I am a life-long Red Sox fan. Watching post season baseball this year makes me wonder how the Red Sox even won as many games as they did this season. The teams still playing, and I stress the word T-E-A-M, look like they’re head and shoulders above and beyond the Red Sox especially when it relates to competing for World Championships.

Anyways, this isn’t about the Red Sox, I wanted to comment on the 2012 Yankees. The Yankees won more games than any other American League team. They slugged their way to 95 victories while belting 245 home runs. They lost their soon to be Hall-Of-Famer closer, Mariano Rivera, just a month into the season, they struggled some in the second half, and lost more 1-run games than they won. I’m not a Joe Girardi fan by any means, but I think he deserves a lot of credit. He managed his team, arranged his personnel, utilized his pitching staff, he worked through the ebb and flow of 2012 Yankee baseball, and won the AL East with 95 wins. After watching the debacle that was the 2012 season for the Red Sox, it was apparent to me that Joe Girardi was an integral part of Yankee success this season. Going a step further, I would dare say that the three strongest managers in the AL East are, by far, Girardi, Showalter, and Maddon. They all won 90 or more games this season, more wins than the Tigers or Cardinals, who are still playing ball. I wonder if John Farrell will join this group of top-notch managers by signing on with the island of misfit attitudes in Boston.

Honestly, listening to the press conferences after games, I was often impressed with the way Girardi handled questions. His cut-and-dry answers were honest, accurate, and rarely snide. He reminded me of Terry Francona when, at his best, he didn’t talk it up, but answered questions within the personal comfort of his baseball brilliance. Girardi managed. He made in-game decisions, as he should, and wasn’t afraid to make the move he thought was best for his club, regardless of popularity. And, until another Hall-Of-Famer to be, Derek Jeter, went down with a broken ankle bone in Game One of the ALCS, it seemed like Girardi and the Yanks would make every right move, wiggling out of trouble time after time. The Jeter injury, from here, appeared to be the official unplugging of the life support that the Yankees were clinging to. I know it was only Game One, but the Yanks were fortunate to have beaten the feisty Orioles.

Unproven, super closer of 2012, Jim Johnson, of the Orioles, assisted the Yankees to the ALCS almost as much as any of the Yankees own pitchers did. Johnson did convert two of three save opportunities in the series, but even that’s deceiving. In the other appearance that was not a save opportunity, he blew up, lasting one-third of an inning, allowing FIVE runs, and earning the loss. In the series, the Yankees battered the AL Saves leader (51) by hitting .316 against him and drove his series ERA to 10.38. What really stuck out to me was the gross lack of execution of pitches in so many of those at bats. I know guys get hits on high quality pitches from pitchers at times, then there are times when hitters would be at fault for not hammering pitches that were blatantly served up mistakes. In the last 20 seasons only two MLB Saves leaders have gone on to win the World Series in the same season that they led the MLB in saves, Brian Wilson with the Giants in 2010, and the great Mariano Rivera with the Yankees in 1999.

When we think of baseball, we think of numbers. When we remember baseball, we remember numbers. When we argue baseball, we argue numbers. So, here are some numbers. These numbers, in my opinion, show (contrary to Yankees GM, Brian Cashman) that the 2012 Yankees were closer to the second half Yankees, and the post season Yankees that we saw. During the season, the Yankees averaged an AL leading 3.32 extra base hits per game. In the post season that number dropped to 2.33 per game. Okay, maybe not earth shattering, but the teams’ post season leaders in XBH (extra base hits) were Raúl Ibañez, part-timer, with four; Ichiro Suzuki, signed as a part-timer, with three; Eduardo Núñez, part-timer who wasn’t even on the original ALCS Roster, with three. More numbers. The Yankees struck out 7.2 times per game in the regular season. In the post season that number jumped to 9.2 times per game. That’s two-thirds of an inning more per game that they didn’t even put the ball in play, and when they did it was with one less XBH than they were getting most of the year. In regular season play, the Bronx Bombers averaged 9.02 hits per game, or one an inning. In the post season they averaged just 6.67 hits per game. Ichiro had as many XBH in the post season as Robinson Canó and Mark Teixeira combined. Curtis Granderson followed up a stellar season of batting .232 while obliterating his own Yankee Team Record with 195 strikeouts by batting .100 with 16 strikeouts in the playoffs. Twenty, yes, twenty times a Yankee has hit more than 43 homers in a season, but with regard to whiffing, not even Danny Tartabull, Alfonso Soriano, or Jesse Barfield ever came close to the degree of swinging and missing that Granderson has each of the last two seasons. I wonder how Austin Jackson and Phil Coke are doing. Anyhow, the Yankees were playing post season baseball when most others were not, and numbers, or not, Joe Girardi should get an awful lot of credit for their run. I mean, he didn’t even come to bat in the post season, and still had as many XBH as A-Rod and Eric Chávez combined.

The Yankees won 95 games, which in the old days, would have been good enough to win the AL Pennant and an automatic trip to the World Series. In one seven game series, maybe the Yankees would have been good enough to win title number 28. Over the last 43 years, the Yankees are 7-4 in the Fall Classic, which is still impressive. Compared to the previous 48 years though, when the Yanks went 20-9 in the World Series, the last 43 years look pretty thin. Even so, this year they played in the ALCS, to me, it was through the ‘dog days’ and into the post season, that these Yankees looked a little closer to the truth.

A day of fall baseball at CCSU

Yesterday was the last day of fall baseball scrimmages at Central Connecticut State University. I went down to see Ryan (my 19-year old son) play. He caught all 12 innings of the intra-squad contest, as he has done in almost every game this fall. He was 1 for 3 at the plate, including two sacrifice flies (each ball traveled more than 380 feet), was hit by a pitch, stole a base, knocked in two runs, and scored two runs. His final at bat, the only one I didn’t photograph, was a base hit. He ripped a line drive double off of the top fence in right field, just to the right of the 375 foot sign. He came around to score the deciding run, and five hours of batting practice and scrimmage came to an end.

The sun was warm, it was bright, and the day was perfect for baseball. Every once in a while a nice breeze kicked up out of the south and made matters that much more comfortable. The field is all turf, enclosed by fences and nets, and it sits at the north end of campus. Trees line the right field fence and continue as a backdrop even out past the scoreboard in center field. It’s not the most intimate field I’ve ever seen, but it’s a nice facility for a quality baseball program.

I enjoyed sitting in the bleachers watching all the details unfold before me. One of my favorite pastimes is our national pastime, and I added five more hours of taking in this great game while sitting in the sun on a gorgeous fall morning. Ryan had a great fall of baseball, hitting well over .400 in more than 60 plate appearances. I am so glad I was able to see Ryan play and spend time with him last night and then again this morning. It some small way it seemed like old times, watching Ryan on the ball field, completely in his element, playing in a day of fall baseball at CCSU.

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The view while walking up to Balf Savin Baseball Field at CCSU.

001 Stitch

A panoramic view of sorts.

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Ryan about to make contact on a sac fly that was caught on the warning track by the 400 foot marker.

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Ryan gets set to throw down to second base between innings.

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Ryan unleashes his swing.

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This breaking pitch hit Ryan in the back foot and almost bounced into hitting position.

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And the runner goes …

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… The runner slides …

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… He’s safe! Ryan steals second base.

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Getting a secondary lead off of second.

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Ryan pulls a ground ball foul.

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Another foul ball.

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Ryan elevates the ball, trying to get a run home from third.

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The stance becomes interactive.

The Twins want their pictures taken

After I changed their overnight diapers, and put on the clothes that mommy picked out for them, Theodore and Jacqueline wanted me to take their pictures. They raced into the other room, as apparently, this was where their pictures were to be taken. They picked out a couple of spots where they could pose for the pictures. So, they stood against the wall, sat in a chair, and stood in front of chairs. At one point they were so pleased with the progress of this grueling five-minute session that they clapped their hands and did some jumping. Between pictures they would run over to me and look at the display on my camera as if to proof the shot right then and there. This was completely random and then they were done. I laughed during the entire thing because they were funny, random, selective, and unpredictable all at the same time.

Twin photo request

The twins, inspired by the earlier photos of the deer, wanted to get in on the fun as well. Jacqueline asked me to take her picture, while Theodore had no interest in moving from his play spot.

Jacqueline went around the corner, to get out of my line of vision, so she could remove her pajamas. She reappeared with this lovely ensemble that she picked out herself. She then asked if I could take her picture, which of course, I did. Theodore, hollering “Dad! Dad!” from the other room, said he wanted his picture taken too. Although he would only peak around the corner and not remove himself from the big bucket he was sitting in. Either way, I took their pictures and have shared a couple of them here. Enjoy.