New Shoes in the Rain

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The thrill of victory, and, well, you know

Good morning, friends.  Sorry I haven't stopped by in a while, but, well, I've been kinda busy.

A little of it, like yesterday, is the self-inflicted variety, but most of it has been work related, where I've been traveling pretty frequently these last several weeks, and it looks like a week of respite that I had looked forward to is now gone.  So I've been gone at least a night for the past four weeks, and still have three more consecutive weeks of two-nights-or-more-per-week to go before I can back off a bit.

Let me first address the utter collapse of my Cincinnati Reds in the recently completed National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants.  In a one-time scheduling quirk the Reds, who had the second best record in all of major league baseball this year, began their best-of-five series with the San Francisco Giants in the Giants' home park for two games....and won both.  This occurred despite the time difference, the opposition's home field advantage, and the loss of their ace pitcher, Johnny Cueto, to injury one batter into the first game of the series.

So the Reds and Giants moved the action to Cincinnati for game 3, with the Reds holding a 2-0 lead, and then the Reds did something they've not done all year.  They lost three consecutive home games.

Each game was different, the Reds had chances to win all of them.  But they didn't, and after a season where the team had found a way to come back from deficits and win so frequently, this was the real shock to me.  There were other factors, in addition to Cueto's injury that I referenced above, but none of those matter.  The mighty (well, this year, anyway) Reds were eliminated from postseason play on Thursday.

Well, there's always next year, as I told my son.  That's the beauty of baseball.  We can always look ahead to next year.  Or, as the late commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti once wrote, "Baseball is designed to break your heart."

Color me heartbroken.

But I do have a great and funny baseball story to share from my trip last week.  On my way to a conference in North Carolina, I flew out of Lexington and connected in (surprise!) Atlanta to get to my destination.  So I decided to have lunch in the Atlanta airport in the concourse from which my second flight would depart.  I'm standing at a food stand, waiting for my order to be filled, when a man wearing a Washington Nationals baseball jacket walks over, smiles, and in very heavily accented English asks if I'm the father of a man whose photograph he shows me on his phone.  The man who approached me was Latino and so was the man whose photo was shown to me, so I chuckled and simply replied, "Not that I know of."  He grinned, patted me on the shoulder and thanked me.  I glanced to my left and he, the photo subject and two women were sitting together all laughing and kind of pointing in my direction.

Then the two men walked over toward me together (good thing it took a while for my food to be prepared) and the first man explained that the second, who was in the photo, wanted to meet me because we looked so much alike.  I didn't see so much resemblance, but they both did, and the other fellow was wearing a Nationals jacket, too.  So the first man asked if I would pose for a picture, and I readily agreed.  He asked me once more if I were the younger man's father or uncle, and I laughed, saying that maybe we're cousins.  Then the first man produced a business card, and I then saw why he and his associate were wearing Washington Nationals jackets--he's the director of baseball scouting for the Nationals for Venezuela.  Both shook my hand and because I was wearing a Reds shirt we wished each other good luck.

Ironically, the Nationals lost their series in rather disappointing fashion, too, but I sent this fellow an e-mail and he responded last night.



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