Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Good Day

Yesterday was a good one. Here are the components that made it so:

**The Royals selected Alex Gordon, third baseman for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, with the number 2 pick in the MLB draft. The general consensus is that he's the best hitter in the college ranks and could be contributing to the major leauge club as early as next summer. There were murmurs that they might select another player based on signability, but, thankfully, they went with the best player available. As a Nebraska kid, he would attend several Royals games per year with his family and has the humility and work ethic of a stereotypical Midwesterner. Hopefully those traits will be evident in the contract negotiation process.

**I purchased the latest offering from Coldplay. I had heard nothing but good things about it and "Speed of Sound" has been playing on the radio. One comment equated some of the songs to "lost tracks from U2's 'War' album". I found "Square One", the opening track, to definitely be reminiscent of that sound. The rest of the album is quite good, though I don't see many other similarities to U2 quite yet. I'll listen to it a couple hundred more times and then pass judgement. Also, it was fun "cracking the code" of the album cover with David. The cover has a strange sequence of colored blocks and in the liner notes there contains a "key" to the code. David and I enjoyed figuring it out and deciphering the message on the last page of the notes.

**I've been playing on my church's co-ed indoor soccer team this past session and enjoying it very much. Unfortunately, the girls never show up and we have to forfeit the official outcome, but we still play anyway. It has been an enjoyable way to fulfill my competitive spirit and have fun at the same time.

Well, a couple of days ago some of the guys on our team asked if I would be willing to play on their all-guys competitive team. They didn't have a true goalkeeper (which is what I play) and they hoped that I would join them. I figured my competitive spirit would help make up for the coordination, agility and quickness that I once had.

We played our first game last night and I'm not sure my spirit made up for any of my inadequacies, but we won regardless, 5-3. My head was swimming having come from an environment where girls were playing (no offense to girls. It's actually a compliment. You all are generally much more civil than us male-folk) and the games didn't count and everyone was going at about 3/4 speed. These guys were young, fast, strong, competitive and, in some cases, mean. It was great! I let in the first two due to misjudging speed and angles and the last one bounced off my chest, between my arms and into the goal, which royally pissed me off. But we hung in there and I made some decent stops and the guys played a great possession game and we won.

And in game recaps circulating via email today, three guys thought I had earned the game ball. Either I did a lot better than I thought or they were just buttering me up so that I would keep playing and they wouldn't have to get between the pipes. Either way, I was quite pleased.

**Finally, the Royals played the Giants last night in San Francisco and won 8-1. D.J. Carrasco, a replacement level starter if ever there was one, pitched a complete game. The only run that scored against him came in the first and at one point he retired 16 straight batters. I don't think Buddy Bell is the long term managerial solution, but one thing is clear: the Royals are playing focused, crisp, pressure-free baseball since he came on board. I'm sure this is just a function of the players reacting to the "new guard", trying to make a good impression and realizing that the gravy train era of Tony Pena is over. I have nothing personal against Buddy Bell and I hope he succeeds but his track record is overflowing with losses, losing and losers. Of course, Joe Torre had a lousy managerial record before signing on with the Yankees. But then, he has had the highest payroll and best players in the land to work with.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


My first trip to the state of Florida was fantastic. But it had absolutely nothing to do with the state of Florida.

Don't get me wrong; I thoroughly enjoyed the pseudo-tropical feel of the palm-lined streets, walking along the most beautiful stretch of Atlantic Ocean I have ever seen, meandering through the art deco-themed streets of Lake Worth and the near-perfect weather.

No, it was the people who were most delightful. And I don't mean your average Joe walking down the street. (Not that there was anything wrong with Average Joe. By the way, are there any actual "native" Floridians living in Florida? It sounded to me like everyone was transplanted from New York.) No, the most delightful people in Florida are now a part of my family.

You see, the reason for the trip was quite significant. It was a celebration/wedding ceremony for my little brother, Seth, and sister-in-law, Kira, and a baby naming ceremony for my niece, Ella. This brought together the majority of my small family and a large contingent of Kira's. My parents flew in from Hawaii and my Aunt Vicki and I traveled south from Kansas City. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford to bring my kids, David and Samantha. Nonetheless, it was great to be in the same room with my mom, dad and brother for the first time in several years.

In stark contrast to my tiny little Christian family was Kira's large, Jewish family. Our hosts for the weekend were Kira's parents, Stephen and Lisa. Stephen is a rabbi whose personality can best be described as "gregarious" while Lisa is his more subtle and complementary wife. And while they have very opposite personalities, they both share a warm heart and hospitable spirit.

They not only welcomed us into their home, but allowed us to participate in several of their Jewish customs, which I found to be quite fascinating and enjoyable. We were witnesses to the wedding ceremony that Stephen presided over, shared a Shabbat meal and were invited to the temple for Ella's naming ceremony. The only other Jewish tradition I had been involved in was my buddy Alex Pearlstein's bar mitzvah and the only thing I really remember about that was that it was the first time I ever wore a pair of loafers.

Being a Christian myself, I was greatly interested in learning more about these Jewish customs and was especially pleased when Stephen involved everyone in the Seder dinner. He stopped to explain why we were doing what we were doing (to the dismay of some who have celebrated this meal every year and must have been weary of going through the program one more time) and involved everyone in the readings. I was highly impressed, not to mention stuffed to the gills.

And while all the traditional and formal things were wonderful, I probably enjoyed most of all the time I got to spend with Seth and Kira splashing around in the pool; staring at Ella much the same way one stares into a campfire, mesmerized; and talking in brief, frequently interrupted bursts with Kira's brother Seth about baseball (it's gotta hurt that the Royals have taken two in a row from the Yanks).

At the end of the trip Stephen and Lisa invited us to come back and visit and Seth Pinsky and I made loose plans to get me out to New York to visit and see a game at the Stadium and I definitely plan on doing both.

After all, they're family.