New Shoes in the Rain

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

RED October!

They did it.  Earlier than anyone thought they were capable.  The Cincinnati Reds are the CHAMPIONS of the National League's Central Division.

Thank GOD!

It's been difficult to watch this team play well most of the year, swoon a bit recently (only to have their archrival the St. Louis Cardinals swoon even more) and get tantalizingly close to their goal.....but not that quickly!  But they got there last night, in dramatic fashion with a walk-off home run by a homegrown player, Jay Bruce.  Fitting, I think.

And I also think that a lot of teams don't really want to play the Redlegs in the postseason.  Why?  Here are a few reasons:

1.  Joey Votto is supernatural at the plate, and seems so often to come up with a big, run producing hit just when the Reds need it most.

2.  Defense...the Reds are at or near the top of the National League's standings when it comes to defense.  And you can certainly do yourself a lot of good when you catch the ball consistently.

3.  Clutch hitting, which has been somewhat AWOL lately, has been a hallmark of this team all season.  And most opponents know that.

4.  Pitching.  Starting and relief, the Reds are solid up and down in the pitching department, and we all know that good pitching wins games.  PERIOD.

We don't know when the Reds will play in the postseason, but what does it matter?  They WILL be playing postseason baseball games for the first time since 1995.

How about that?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The vagaries of blogging

I work for a company that has a policy specifically written in reference to blogs and other online commenting mechanisms (Twitter and the like, I would think).  This policy expressly prohibits employees of the company from mentioning or speaking about the inner workings of the company on personally maintained weblogs or other online journals.  Funny, I find the very act of blogging to be a nice departure from thinking about work, so the last thing I'd want to do is blog about work.....

And in the year-plus I've blogged here, I can honestly say it's been fun and a real pleasure and something of a creative release for me to post my thoughts and comments here, regardless of the limitations my company places on me and my fellow employees.  And I don't think I've yet posted anything just because I felt it was time to put up a new entry, or that I owed it to my readers (whomever and however many you are) to blog.  If you sense that to be happening, call me on it.

I read numerous other blogs, too.  Most are from folks far more professional than I, or those who have insights on some of my favorite subjects that I do not have.  And I think those authors follow the same rules of thumb that I do.

That said, I also have a Twitter account, and my postings there are almost always one of two things:  1) a link to this blog, and 2) a response to something posted by someone whom I follow.  But I suppose one could consider Twitter a microblogging vehicle, though I've never used it as such.  Perhaps I should.

I looked back at some of the more recent posts I've made here, and the subject matter is pretty diverse.  More diverse than I am, probably.  Hope that keeps things interesting for those who read it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sports of all sorts

This is a great time of year to be a sports and professional football are both underway with their new seasons, while major league baseball is heating up its various divisional races.

All the more exciting for me this year, since my beloved Cincinnati Reds are closing in on their first divisional title in well over ten years, and my Kentucky Wildcats are now 3-0 on the football field.  That's the first time a new Kentucky football coach (Joe "Joker" Phillips) has started his tenure with three consecutive wins since the legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant did so WAY back (NOTE:  most who are not Bryant historians or Kentucky football fans would not have known that the Bear began his collegiate coaching career at the University of Kentucky).

Back to baseball for a son and I participated in an interesting phenomenon Thursday, as we partook of "all you can eat" seats at the Reds' Great American Ball Park.  Simple premise:  for the price of your ticket ($20 for this mid-week day game promotion), not only do you get a seat for the game, but all of the hot dogs, chips, popcorn, peanuts and soft drinks you care to enjoy.  There were three sections set aside for this in the further reaches of the left field corner, all in the upper deck, and they were sold out.  LONG food lines for those who wished to indulge.  But the crowds were well behaved, the food was good and as the game progressed the lines became a little shorter and more manageable.  Fun to try this once.  Most parks are going to this on at least a limited basis, so if you love major league baseball but not the prices of admission and concessions, this could be a good deal for you.

And with the Reds approaching postseason play we did something else last week that we've not done in some time--purchased post-season tickets.  I know, they're not there yet, but the Reds were permitted (along with a number of other teams) to begin selling conditional tickets, which, of course, would be refunded if through some quirk the Reds did not qualify for the playoffs after all.  First time I had bought any postseason tickets since 1990, when my son and I attended the first game of the World Series (won in four consecutive games by the Reds).  We went through a lottery process, and finally had the chance to buy two lower-level tickets in the right field corner for a LOT more than regular game tickets.  But we aren't going to miss way!

Do you follow the NFL?  As a fan, or as a fantasy league participant?  Either way, hard to figure anything out right now.  The "good" teams are not all playing that well yet, and there are teams that weren't expected to be competitive who won their first games.  Give it four more weeks to see who's who.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A handful of little things

Funny, when I have a few odds and ends to post, I have the hardest time deciding what title to use for that particular post, and today's is no exception.....

My Cincinnati Reds are not having much fun on their current business trip.  After winning many games in a row, they visited St. Louis Friday through Sunday and came away with one win.  Better than some trips, but I was hopeful that their play would be a little better.  But a win's a win, no matter how you slice it.  Then they traveled to Denver, a city near my heart because our daughter and her family live in that area, to face the Colorado Rockies for a four game set.  No better.  The Reds have not won in Colorado since 2008, and the futility continues.  Most of the Reds regular players aren't hitting, except all-universe first baseman Joey Votto (so much for the Sports Illustrated jinx), and the pitching has been less than great, too. One more game out yonder, then the boys head home for the healing salve of playing the Pirates and the Diamondbacks over the following few days.

My son and I will be present in Cincinnati a week from today to indulge in what I'm terming a social experiment.  As other teams have done, the Reds last year began offering 'all you can eat' seats in a specific part of the ballpark (i.e., a part of the park where they seldom sell the tickets).  For the princely sum of $20 per person, we receive a seat (aisle seats at that, the ticket agent told us!) and a wristband which will entitle us to visit the designated concession stand and enjoy all of the popcorn, peanuts, hot dogs and soft drinks we desire.  Anyone who knows me is well aware of my love of popcorn, and if you give me enough soft drinks to wash it down, that could be monumental.  And peanuts and hot dogs, too!  Thankfully, beer isn't part of the promotion, else we'd have to get hotel rooms and a cab ride to them!

I'll report back here after the festivities.

I have XM Satellite Radio, which I know now to be part of the Sirius/XM system, and have had for about five years.  I have a unit on my desktop, and both of our cars are thusly equipped (that's what started it).  And, true to my profile's mention of me liking a lot of music but seldom by performers younger than I am, I stick to channels that will play stuff I like.  There's a Bruce Springsteen channel which is kind of my go-to channel, and I also like the '60's and '70's channels, too.  Once in a while a channel I listen to will play something I've never heard, but I'm never moved to go out and buy a CD (or download it, in the current parlance).  Suppose that's what my subscription replaces---the $20 or more per month I used to spend on recorded music.

Anyway, I was thinking about this because in my iPod recently I happened upon a great old song by Elton John called "Roy Rogers," from the "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" album.  I suppose that you could say no one's writing songs like that (written by Elton and his lyricist, Bernie Taupin) anymore, and more's the pity.  Go check it out if you're unfamiliar.

Speaking of iPods, I don't do playlists.  Ever.  I like to put an album on, like I used to do when I owned albums or as I do if I pop a CD into the car player, and listen to it.  But I'm a pretty good DJ when I feel eclectic, so I suppose I could invest some time in that playlist assembly process, but why?

The University of Kentucky is looking for a new president, as of yesterday.  Our outgoing president set his goal for UK to be in the top 20 in the country.  Last rankings I saw, we still hadn't cracked the top 100.   Hmm.....could our inability to retain staff due to budgetary reasons have something to do with our lack of progress?

Seen any good movies lately?  Last one I saw was "Inception," so good I saw it twice.  Read an article about how few movies come out that appeal to adults, and isn't that the truth?

That's enough for now.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Here's what constitutes a "good" weekend

Morning, all.....just a few comments about this and that today.....but mostly revolving around the recently completed three-day Labor Day weekend, the unofficial signal that summer is over, for all intents and purposes.

Our weekend started with a nice dinner out at a favorite restaurant, and a trip to Target that didn't blow our budget (always a nice surprise).  Then on Saturday, Kentucky played football at the University of Louisville's newly expanded stadium.  Both teams had new coaches on display and the weather was absolutely perfect--mid '70's, breezy and sunny.  In other words, the kind of day you want to bottle and save for later.  Anyway, Kentucky played masterfully during the first half, not so much the second and came out on top.

Sunday we had our granddaughter for the afternoon, then her parents had dinner with us when they came to retrieve her.  Again, another nearly perfect day weatherwise, so great weather for grilling.

Yesterday I was scheduled to play golf with some friends, but my sports announcer friend asked if I could instead join him at the radio station from which his daily radio program originates for some on-air banter and companionship.  His show is fairly new and he wanted to try out the dynamics of having a second voice in the studio with him.  The larger net effect, though, was that instead of being gone for five hours or more yesterday I was free by 10:30, which meant I could treat my wife to a day of running around and dining out, or what she refers to as a "Rick day."  We went and looked at paint samples (about time to repaint the house interior and the exterior trim), got some shoe insoles and socks, had a sandwich out and picked up a couple more things.

Wound up at home watching my Reds go down in defeat to Colorado 10-5 (third loss in the last four games, all against top-shelf pitching), and then we ordered a pizza.

Just about perfect.  So good, in fact, that I want to do it again next week.  But we can't, as we'll only have two days.