Sunday, June 21, 2009

We Can Take The Long Way Home

One would think I have no obligations on this Father's Day seeing as mine passed away five months ago. Too bad that isn't true.

I have the soul responsibility of getting through today in once piece. As luck would have it, Father's Day 2009 not only lacks the presence of my own father but it's my dog Coco's 13th birthday (may she too rest in peace) and my Grandma Irene's 90th.

Today is a day that we should all be celebrating together: brunch at the country club for the humans and vanilla Häagen-Dazs® for Coco -- she deserves a treat, it is her birthday after all!

Then the obligatory exchange of gifts between my grandpa, uncle, and dad (often times these gifts include various sweaters from Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, and J.Crew). The kids watch and wait while catching some cuddle time with the dog. The women sip on coffee and thank everyone for such a "pleasant" afternoon (whether or not it was one). And then -- my favorite part -- the drive home.

The drive home occurs as a result of the hour and a half trek we would take to the Father's Day celebration. You see, us Chicago folk take the day trip to Michigan City, In. It's a small town near the border of Michigan and Indiana (in case you couldn't figure that one out). Just imagine any stereotypical, mid-western small town and you'll come up with a semi-accurate picture in your mind.

The ride back always felt longer than the one on the way to Michigan City. This is because there was always more to talk about after the Father's Day festivities were over than beforehand. Yes ... there were more cars filtering through the Indiana Toll Roads at the end of Father's Day. All the commuters from North West Indiana and some parts of Chicago do make their way back and forth in less time than it would take a family of four plus two dogs in a black Volvo station wagon to get from Michigan City to Wrigleyville, but that didn't matter. Sure ... my sister and I never unpacked the car. Dad did that. And in our defense, the dogs didn't help unpack either.

But I digress...

I could never pinpoint why the car ride home was my favorite part of Father's Day. I never thought about it before. But after some thought, I've come to a conclusion. This might come to some shock or chagrin of a few of my family members since I've made a consistent attempt at never admitting my feelings toward those with a blood relation to me for whatever reason. I enjoyed the car ride home because I was stuck inside a four-walled space with people who didn't care how big of a idiot I may sound like on occasion or would yell at me for how many times I drop the "F-bomb" because it's unwomanly.

I wont lie. I miss being made fun of for constantly asking the word "what". Dad always did do the best impression of me.

The family will not be together this Father's Day. Everyone is spread far and wide: Chicago, D.C., Arizona, Michigan City, Boston, "heaven" ... you know ... everywhere you can think of except for being together. That's no one's fault, that's how the world works. Some years are better than others, some years are worse, but today I will sip some scotch for my dad and eat some ice cream for my dog.

At least we all still have our memories, L'Chaim.

Norah Jones - The Long Way Home (Video, Live from Austin)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Cubs Give Fans Something to Count on

Riddle me this -- why is it that the only thing any Cubs fan can count on these days is a one run loss ... in extra innings?

Pinella and his boys better get it together, otherwise the stretch up until the All-Star break isn't going to be pretty. Fourth place is nowhere for the back-to-back National League Central Division champions ... especially with a solid starting rotation and a healthy roster.

Here's my advice to the Cubbies: Get it together or forfeit any hope of a playoff berth.

On that note, go Cubs go!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Billy Heywood was a Lucky Kid

Billy Heywood was a lucky kid. He's the first and only 12-year-old baseball manager whose team lost to a 300 game winner. So what if 1994's Little Big League is a standard kids sports movie with unknown acting and a predictable plot? At least Heywood's Minnesota Twins stood their ground against a young power duo of Ken Griffey, Jr. and Randy Johnson for the Seattle Mariners. The loss was a foreshadowing of great baseball moments to come.

Enter June 4, 2009. Johnson, 45, became the 24th Major League Baseball pitcher to enter the illustrious 300 win club. This unofficial band of major league brothers serves as a milestone for contemporary players to strive for while upholding the integrity of the game's legends.

Today's win was Johnson's first attempt at 300. The historic game began after a hefty rain delay of around 22 hours in the nation's capital against the team with the least amount of wins so far this season.

The Washington National's faced Johnson and the San Francisco Giants during a rainy afternoon covered by overcast skies to an audience near 5,000.

Spirits were high despite a low overall attendance. There was history to be made after all!

Never has there been such a variety of MLB paraphernalia in one ball park -- with the exceptions of All-Star Games and unique inter-league match-ups. The Giants, Nationals, Mets, Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Pirates, Phillies and many others were on the backs of men or the women wearing caps, the kids were even in on the fun. Some donned Cooperstown commemorative memorabilia while others sported modern staples showcasing the MLB players dress code.

The mock-hurricane holding up the start time of the game set the tone of the evening -- anti-climactic but serious.

There was nothing notable or spectacular about this game. It was a standard outing. Fundamentals weren't an issue. The players stuck it out in the rain. There weren't many hits let alone home runs. Both teams played well. One team played better. And that was that.

The 6'10" pitcher is still as lanky as he's ever been but has a glare that burns through the eyes of batters as if they were staring straight into the sun. I almost feel bad for the National's for having to face him without having a real chance to ruin Johnson's special occasion.

DC's not so beloved Nationals are a group of Average Joe's in baseball uniforms. They have some young talent but, in all seriousness, Johnson couldn't have asked for a better team to pitch against during his first attempt at 300 wins. Although fans had their doubts when the National's had the bases loaded (only to squander that shot), the game was set up for Johnson to emerge victorious.

The crowd was small but the baseball faithful were out. It's reassuring to see that people still devote themselves to a game rooted in the American tradition of good times and family.

Mariner Man Makes History with Giants: The Big Unit's 300th Win

See more about this historic game in "Billy Heywood was a Lucky Kid."

June's One-Liner of the Month

The price of ignorance is far more than denial, your money's better left unspent.