Monday, July 22, 2013

My place in baseball history

I celebrated my 53rd birthday on Saturday (that reminds me, I need to update my profile for accuracy!) and must say that it was a very memorable occasion!

My wife, son and daughter-in-law and I agreed that we should spend Saturday and part of Sunday in Cincinnati.  We had decided it would be fun for us all to attend a Cincinnati Reds game, but the weekend series with the Pittsburgh Pirates was experiencing high demand for tickets, and it was difficult to find a way to get all six of us (their kids, too, of course) into the ballpark into good seats.  So we initially decided to postpone.

Then I learned that there was something special planned and that we all had to be AT the ballpark but not necessarily IN the park.  For the life of me, I had no earthly idea what that meant, but we determined that tickets for my son and me would be sufficient, and my wife, daughter-in-law and the grandchildren would do other things while we were at the ballpark.

So we traveled north Saturday afternoon, took a shuttle bus from Newport over to downtown Cincinnati and to Great American Ball Park, home of the Reds.  We made it to the concourse outside the park that's "protected" by a statue of former Reds catcher Johnny Bench (my son and I were there the night the dedicated it two years ago) and my son then produced a very heavy but not very large package for me to open.

My God, I thought, there must be a brick in here, it's so heavy!  The grandkids helped me open it, and, would you believe that there WAS a brick inside?  Here's how it's inscribed:

Richard C. Smith
Love you Poppy!
Let's Go Reds
--5--

I was STUNNED.

Then my son explained that this was mine to keep, and one just like it was imbedded in the grounds surrounding the Bench statue.  After a little searching and some help from a Reds employee we found it, just out in front of the statue's base and to the right.  Wow.  So I'm now somehow a "part" of the Cincinnati Reds.  I'm sitting here at my desk looking at my "copy" of the brick and getting a little misty thinking about this.

Our daughter and her family couldn't be here, as they'd all traveled some earlier in the summer, but sent a video for the occasion.  Turns out that this has been in the works since February, when the Reds announced a commemorative brick program to raise money for the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, which I have toured on several occasions.  There had been some uncertainty as to when the bricks would be installed in the concourse and the Reds apparently confirmed that they'd be in place following the recently completed baseball All-Star break, so that meshed well with my birthday.

Pretty hard to keep a secret from me, but my gang did a great job!

Wow.  That's about all I can keep saying.  Wow.

Wow.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Great comebacks

Greetings, all....here we are, halfway through July already.  I suppose I'm showing my age in saying this, but the time certainly does seem to fly lately.

Are you excited that Twinkies and other Hostess products are making their return to store shelves?  "The greatest comeback in the history of....ever!" is their slogan.  Not sure if I agree, but I'll pick up a package sometime soon.  I never loved Twinkies, but was a little nostalgic when it appeared that the brand was going away forever.

Not a comeback, but how about Kentucky's own Kenny Perry, winning his second consecutive major golf tournament on the Champions Tour.  He was the winner of the U.S. Senior Open, played in steamy Omaha, Nebraska.  I didn't watch a great deal of it, but, as he often does, he looked pretty cool despite the weather and the pressure of the competition.

My Cincinnati Reds could certainly use a comeback.  As it stands now they'd qualify for one of the two  playoff spots available to "wild cards," but based on the way they've played in the past four or five weeks it doesn't feel like it's been going that well.  The boys need to start hitting to pick up the slack and start winning some games, so here's hoping those bats come back.

Do you pay attention to what's happening in the movie business, even when you're not motivated to go to the theater to see what's new?  Somehow I started paying attention to the "scoreboard" of ticket sales, and am continually amazed at what people do and don't go to see.  For instance, I would NOT have thought that the animated movie "Despicable Me" was so popular as to prompt a sequel, but it was and it did.  And that picture is mopping up at the box office.  Kid friendliness counts, I would think.  Another surprise sequel, "Grown Ups 2," also did very good business at the box office last weekend.  At the expense of some other pictures, it would seem.  We made it out to see "Iron Man 3," "Star Trek Into Darkness," and "Man of Steel," all of which were either sequels or revamped existing concepts (or both).  That's the way the movie business is, I guess.  Nothing wildly original sees the light of day among major studios anymore.  And that's a shame.

Finally, I have a bit of personal news in the way of comebacks....after being separated (I really don't like that word, but it's accurate from a legal standpoint) from my previous job in mid-June, I received an offer of employment late last week from a very good organization.  We're working out the details but it looks like I'll join that organization sometime late in July.  How about that?


Monday, July 8, 2013

Questions without answers


Let’s spend a little time today posing some questions to which perhaps none of us knows the answer, but that doesn’t stop them from being at least somewhat interesting....

Does the media like reporting a potential scandal more than the facts of a given situation, particularly in Washington?

How do Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson and Adam Sandler continue to work in motion pictures?

Why is GOOD customer service so rare as to be considered exceptional, regardless of the industry?

Can we ever successfully get money out of college athletics?

Why are the long-term unemployed so insignificant to our representatives in Washington?  Is it thought that these people, or those close to them, do not vote?

Does baseball really need instant replay, as exists in professional football?

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced that she’s running for the U.S. Senate, and will oppose incumbent and Senate Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell.  Does she have a chance to win?

Who’s the greatest superhero?  I have my own preferences....

Will you see the forthcoming new “Star Wars” movies?

As a friend mentioned to me yesterday, is reality TV representative of any sense of reality?

What’s the last really good show you watched on traditional network TV (HBO, Showtime, AMC and FX don’t count)?

Which would you rather pay for, auto maintenance or car payments?

After learning about the 777 plane crash in San Francisco over the weekend, did you wonder, as I did, exactly how much training is enough for an airline pilot?

Have you received one of those spam e-mails from some entity posing as Amazon.com, confirming an order for something you didn’t buy?

Why do some restaurants handle a small order customization better than others?

If you’re in the southeastern U.S., aren’t you glad it finally stopped raining?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Independence

Happy almost-Independence Day to all.

Tomorrow has added significance for me, because it's my wedding anniversary!  27 years ago tomorrow, my lovely wife agreed to BE my lovely wife, and my life has been immeasurably better since then!  She does not read this blog, but she'll hear this from me in other ways tomorrow (and the next day and the next....).

Have I mentioned our next-door neighbor?  He's a retired Kentucky state trooper, a great guy and very exacting about how things should be around his homeplace.  So he's a good fit for us, as we're kind of particular about the appearance of our home, too.  We have this running gag about our trash cans....every Tuesday night we put our trash cans out for collection the following morning, and then it becomes sort of a contest to see who will get to them first to bring them back up to our respective houses.  I happened to "win" this morning and that prompted a phone call from our good neighbor, mainly to josh me about beating him to the punch.  I don't manage to get there first all that often, but today I did, and we had a good laugh about this.  He's also a good neighbor when I travel for business, as he always seems to know when I'm gone, so I feel some assurance that he's keeping an eye on our place while I'm away.

I went with a friend last night to see the local minor league team, the Lexington Legends (now, there's a presumptuous name) play a doubleheader caused by rain the previous evening.  The young pitcher for the Legends in the first game pitched a seven-inning no-hitter!  His teammates mobbed him when the game was over, as you'd expect, and there was much celebrating when the young men (these are beginners in professional baseball, all of them 18 to 22 years old) were making their way to the clubhouse for a break between games.  One can imagine the winning pitcher talking to the teammate who was scheduled to pitch game 2, and him saying, "I got mine, so get yours."

Homer Bailey of the Cincinnati Reds did just that last night, pitching his second no-hitter in nine months in Cincinnati last night, blanking the San Francisco Giants 3-0.  Bailey apparently narrowly missed a perfect game by walking one batter.  Funny how these things work out!

I can't decide which is funnier, the initial Republican reaction to Democratic Texas state Senator Wendy Davis and her filibuster on the Senate floor last week to block some unpopular abortion legislation, or the "truthers" who are so desperate to smear this woman that they've dredged up college photos of her and implied something untoward in the evolution of her appearance over 25 years.  I mean, really, do YOU look as you did 25 years ago?  I didn't think so.

The job hunt continues, although I have lost a significant amount of momentum this week due to tomorrow's holiday.  Much less activity than the past two weeks, but I've continued to make progress on a couple of fronts.  I have some things scheduled next week and am optimistic that one or more of these will bear fruit.

So when you're celebrating the 4th tomorrow, think of how our country got to where it is, and what keeps it there!

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