STORM OF THE CENTURY – EVIL SQUIRREL’S NEST

This is a great story and it’s also true! This is peak baseball season. Time for some thrills and chills that have absolutely nothing to do with politics! From the inimitable Evil Squirrel’s Nest, I give you …

STORM OF THE CENTURY!

Evil Squirrel's Nest

Mother Nature's always at her worst when I go to a ballgame. Mother Nature’s always at her worst when I go to a ballgame.

If you happen to be one of those weird people who actually keep track of my weekly picture dayfeatures, then you’re probably looking at your squirrel calendar right now wondering if it’s really Wednesday already.  No… calm down.  It’s still just Tuesday.  If you have a stereotypical job, you’ve got another three and a half days to toil away yet before the next weekend.  I decided to run Picture Day a day early this week because I wanted to commemorate the night I had a front row seat to the most wicked weather event this city’s seen in my lifetime… and that occurred ten years ago today on July 19, 2006.

It was just another Wednesday night at the ballpark for me… it was also the one game each year my Mom tags along to.  Which is good, because…

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SUMMERTIME SUMMERTIME SUM SUM SUMMERTIME

Summertime! When all the leaves and trees are green … and the red bird sings, I’ll be blue …

The Jamies were an American singing group
Single Released in 1958
Chart : Peaked at No.26 on The Billboard Hot 100 in 1958

There’s a long, interesting history of “Summertime” and its historic relationship to Fenway Park and the Boston Red Sox. Possibly the oldest tradition in baseball! 

Sherm Feller, who wrote Summertime, Summertime was an old pal of Garry’s as well as the public address announcer at Fenway Park for many years. He was known for playing the song regularly over the speakers at the park.

Read all about Sherm Feller and his song …

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Summertime, Summertime Lyrics


It’s summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime summertime…

Well shut them books and throw em away
Say goodbye to dull school days
So come on and change your ways
It’s summertime…

Well no more studying history
And no more reading geography
And no more dull geometry
Because it’s summertime

It’s time to head straight for them hills
It’s time to live and have some thrills
Come along and have a ball
A regular free-for-all

Well are you comin or are you ain’t
You slow-pokes are my one complaint
Hurry up before I faint
It’s summertime

Well I’m so happy that I could flip
Oh how I’d love to take a trip
I’m sorry teacher but zip your lip
Because it’s summertime

It’s time to head straight for them hills
It’s time to live and have some thrills
Come along and have a ball
A regular free for all

Well we’ll go swimmin every day
No time to work just time to play
If your folks complain just say,
It’s summertime

And every night we’ll have a dance
Cause what’s a vacation without romance
Oh man this jive has me in a trance
Because it’s summertime

It’s time to head straight for them hills
It’s time to live and have some thrills
Come along and have a ball A regular free for all
It’s summertime

It’s summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime

It’s summertime!

BRANDING THE AMERICAN PASTIME

“It’s an exciting afternoon here at Petco,” the announcer says. The Padres are playing the Mets. At Petco Park.

The mental image this formed in my head were utterly un-baseball, totally non-sporting. This whole branding thing is out of hand.

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I looked up from the computer, wondering if we needed more dog food and biscuits. We’re forever running short.

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But next, the announcer points out the pitcher has been, so far, throwing a no-hitter. Never, in Padre history has any pitcher thrown a no-hitter, so this should have been riveting baseball.

Except the announcers couldn’t seem to focus on the game and instead, were busy talking all kinds of nonsense while showing clips of everything but the game in progress. Ultimately, I suppose it didn’t matter since the pitcher gave up three hits but still, they might have at least given the kid his time in the sun.

Finally they pointed out the right-hander, Odrisamer Despaigne “… has a great, boring fastball.”

And this made me wonder if they should be playing any kind of game at Petco, especially if Odrisamer Despaigne’s fastball is boring. I get they are really saying something technical about the pitch. Nonetheless, words matter. Boring has multiple meanings, the most common being dull. So how boring was that fastball?

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And doesn’t Petco Park sound like a dog park to you?

Someone once told me I’m “branding” my photographs by signing them. No, I’m not. I sign my pictures because I’m proud of them. “Branding” would be if I sold the rights to my photographs to Costco, after which this site became Costco Web Thoughts. I would continue to write and take pictures, but Costco would put their corporate logo on all my work. For a price. That’s branding.

Garry points out the Padres not only have a crappy team and awful branding — Petco really doesn’t work as a stadium name — but they wear ugly uniforms. From Garry, that is total condemnation.

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Whatever else is wrong with the Red Sox, at least they have not turned Fenway into Burger King Stadium. Or Walmart Watcharama. And, to the best of my knowledge, the pitchers throw highly entertaining fastballs.

EXTRA, EXTRA! PATS USE INVISIBLE DRONES TO BEAT GIANTS!

LATE BREAKING NEWS! 
Garry Armstrong, reporting

We tuned in the Pats-Giants game with 1:47 left and the Brady Bunch facing a sixth straight loss to New York’s Big Blue. It didn’t look good. The Giants appeared to have the Patriots’ number. Again. Ready to end another New England run at a perfect season.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 15: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates a first down against the New York Giants during the first quarterat MetLife Stadium on November 15, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – NOVEMBER 15: Tom Brady celebrates a first down against the New York Giants during first quarter on November 15, 2015. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Tom Brady was firing bullets under pressure but the clock was ticking down. What magic could the Pats use? 4th down and 6 seconds left. The Pats would try a 57 yard field goal while a stiff wind played havoc.

It was over … unless the New England evil empire had something up its slippery sleeve.

A deflated football? Secret microphones to pick up the Giants’ audio? Nude cheerleaders confusing the Giant coaches? Spies on the Giants bench? Valium in the Giants water?

The crowd roared as Stephen Gostkowski tried what would surely be a failed field goal. The kick was steady. The ball sailed high in the crisp November night.

Photo: Boston Globe

Photo: Boston Globe

It slanted left … narrowly making it through the uprights. The announcers weren’t sure whether or not it was a score … even when replays confirmed the kick was good.

What happened?

drone spy

In a blur, I learned the truth. Invisible Drones using penetrating laser beams had directed the football’s arc. The Pats have pulled off another one.

Stay tuned for more details on “Drone Gate.”

NO SPORTS, POLITICS, OR RELIGION

Some Old World Wisdom, by Rich Paschall

When thinking of blog topics, there is no shortage of subject matter. Some general areas offer a lot of topics.  With a bit of extra thought, there’s an endless supply. Consider well how many areas you can pursue if you are willing to delve into sports, politics, or religion. Each is bound to set some readers ablaze. Would surely bring lots of comments. You do want lively discussion, don’t you?

How lively do you want it?

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Venture into a sports bar well into the evening and you are likely to find plenty of spirited discussions regarding sports.  These ideas should help you out.  Will the Cubs ever win a pennant?  Will the White Sox ever get the love the Cubs get?  Will the Blackhawks win another Stanley Cup?  Will the Bears defeat the hated Green Bay Packers?  Will the Bulls beat the hated ____________ (fill in New York team here)?  There is little reason get into crosstown rivalries. Dissing out-of-town teams only works locally.

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We could always take off after the Yankees and A-Rod, the Patriots and _______ (name your alleged scandal here), or Jerry Jones and the Cowboys. But why alienate readers in New York, Boston or Dallas? Perhaps we should just write about the ridiculous BCS Bowl series or the commissioner of _________ (name your least favorite here).

A good informational, yet rather neutral article might find favor.  Others might concede that you are trying to make some point of view, like promoting someone’s stats for the hall of fame. A discussion of gays in sports or an Olympic diver coming out of the closet, might get up into your politics, so we may have to think carefully about those.  Yes, we will leave the political area of sports alone.

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Speaking of your politics (or mine), perhaps we can find common ground there. I could write short stories with a political theme, or write about a run for office that brings victory, but no win for the candidate. Too improbable?

How about the death of democracy through campaign spending?  Imagine buying an election. Maybe this hits too close to home … or do you think it merely fiction or satire?  Political satire is sure to get people thinking and arguing, especially if you throw in climate change as the kicker. Then again, maybe no one will bother to read this stuff. Maybe a bad idea after all?

How about hitting the topics head-on in a nice well-researched article? We can talk about Democrats, Republicans, capitalists or socialists. On second thought, that could split the audience from the get-go. Better to look at the subjects of the debates and write a well-reasoned essay.

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Where to begin? Abortion? Immigration? Gay Rights? Civil Rights? Gun Control? Campaign reform? Welfare Reform?  Any reform?? National defense?  Can’t we all consider that without alienating people? There’s always alienating the aliens. Can’t go wrong with that, right? Well, maybe not.

If politics is too risky, how about the world’s great religions? They’re all rooted in love, are they not? We could discuss the philosophies that ignite the passions behind our beliefs and thus find common ground. Peace and harmony at last.

Except that so many people believe their god is the only way. Some believe their god is calling them to harm others which sets religion against religious … and alas, there’s nothing new about that. Belief is supposed to bring hope and joy … not more war.

God in on every side of every war, or so they say. Who goes into battle without the blessing of their particular deity? How can I expect to have a civil discussion in such an emotionally charge arena?  I have innocently had to extract my foot from my mouth before … maybe I should let the Dalai Lama write on this topic.

The "Dodge City Peace Commission", June 1888. (L to R) standing: W.H. Harris, Luke Short, Bat Masterson, W.F. Petillon. Seated: Charlie Bassett, Wyatt Earp, Frank McLain and Neal Brown.

The “Dodge City Peace Commission”, June 1888. (L to R) standing: W.H. Harris, Luke Short, Bat Masterson, W.F. Petillon. Seated: Charlie Bassett, Wyatt Earp, Frank McLain and Neal Brown.

Years ago, when one of our favorite innkeepers was still alive, we used to drop by his establishment.  It was a great place for lively discussion. If anyone got a little over-heated, the owner walked over with a wink to say, “No Sports, no politics, no religion!”

Seemingly a strange thing to say when a sports channel was almost always playing nearby, but he meant arguments, not discussions. If arguments got out of hand, he’d say “No Sports, no politics, no religion — or you’re out of here!”

That seemed a good approach to barroom politics. These were the areas of discussion that often ended with unpleasantness. Especially when dialogue was fueled by alcohol. Maybe it short-circuited a few lively discussions, but no doubt he cut off some brawls, too.

Let’s avoid them in the blog-o-sphere and cyberspace too. If Facebook is any indicator, that sounds like a plan!

GOODBYE – BOYS OF SUMMER, 2015

They are celebrating in America’s heartland! The Kansas City Royals are the champs of baseball after defeating the New York Mets to win the World Series 4  games to 1.

The “Boys of Summer” finished the season in frigid football weather.

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The suits of Major League baseball need to rethink this scheduling thing. The faithful fans shivered even though decked out in mid-winter clothing. You could almost see the vapors as they cheered on their teams in “the fall classic”.

Yes, it’s all about money. It’s not about making the post season accessible for more teams. It’s about increased revenue for the networks carrying post season games.

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Cheers to the Royals for playing their splendid brand of contact baseball and winning it all with a modest payroll.

Cheers to the New York Mets for making it to the World Series with a rotation of marvelous young pitchers who hopefully will be around for years to come. It seems strange to peruse the New York sports sections and see little or no mention of the New York Yankees. Not that I mind …

A new order of parity prevails in baseball. Star-studded teams with mega contract rental “guns” are no longer guaranteed success.

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The Cubbies are still waiting for that Frank Capra ending. But they are no longer joke fodder. They have become legitimate, and relevant. Kudos to Theo Epstein and his young Turks who made magic in Boston and moved to Chicago to do it again. 2016 could be the long-awaited “next year” for generations of Cubs fans.

Here in Red Sox nation, we wait to see what will happen. We’ve been through the good, the bad, and the ugly in recent years. We need men. Maybe 7 men. Pitchers who throw hard and accurately.

Til then, we’re just drifting.

FIELD OF BROKEN DREAMS – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Many of you know we recently visited Cooperstown and Baseball’s Hall Of Fame as part of our Silver Anniversary road trip celebration.

The shirt is from our previous trip, 23 years ago.

The shirt is from our previous trip, 23 years ago.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Celebrating 25 years of marriage still leaves me astonished. These have been the best years of my life and all the credit goes to Marilyn who has seen me through some difficult times while surviving several life and death health crises of her own.

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It was Marilyn who had suggested we return to Cooperstown for our anniversary. In a year of many family soap opera crises, Marilyn realized this would be the perfect spot for her husband, the lifelong baseball fan.

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We entered the Hall of Fame with great expectations. This has been a year of baseball disappointment because of our under-achieving Red Sox. We would forget all the bumbling performance of this year’s team as we visited heroes of the past.

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Team loyalty is on hold in the Hall of Fame. You are walking among the greats. These are the heroes of your youth and those who came before them.

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An odd little souvenir shop cum wax museum exhibit down the street from the museum.

An odd little souvenir shop cum wax museum exhibit down the street from the museum. Garry with “The Boss.”

But something was wrong. We had trouble seeing the photos and exhibits in many of the rooms. The lighting was very poor. Non-existent in some places. Exhibits were all behind glass, crammed into tiny little locker-sized cabinets.

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Many of the scenes recalled from our visit 23 years ago were missing. Access to the exhibits was severely limited and most of the interactive stuff has been removed. The intimacy that was so much a part of our earlier visit was gone.

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There were no benches in exhibit areas. The very limited seating was confined to hallways near the exits and elevators. This created a rather hostile environment for anyone with mobility issues and ignored the needs of the older faithful (the majority of visitors) who had come to recapture memories.

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Restrooms were difficult to find and required a guide. No signs pointing to restrooms or signs for the other exhibits. Which is unfortunate since the museum is labyrinthine. If we hadn’t stumbled on exhibits while trying to find the restrooms (then trying to find our way back), we’d have missed everything.

Is this the latest in museum design?

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The final insult was the dreary gift shop. It had been a treasure trove in previous visits, full of unique stuff you could only get at the museum. We still have the shirts we bought there 23 years earlier. This time, it was all the usual stuff.

There’s a better selection at the shop on Yawkey Way across from Fenway Park. Marilyn — who can always find something to buy — couldn’t find anything. Sad.

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Last time we were there, a life-size Babe Ruth with Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s On First” playing in a loop, greeted us on arrival. This time, nothing. It was just a museum with bad lighting and no place to sit down.

It seems like baseball’s main attractions had been scaled down. The museum, in an attempt to cram in more stuff, has lost understanding of what fans want to see.

Major league baseball, with billions in its coffers, is forgetting its showcase. Neglecting the fans who visit from around the world. I’m not sure whether or not this is a reflection of baseball’s internal problems. If so, it’s a crying shame.

There were some nice moments. Hanging out with baseball greats in fantasy sessions. Swapping chit-chat about how the game has changed and thanking them for those memories — frozen in time across the decades.

Maybe I should sympathize with the Hall of Fame as I approach the midway mark of the seventh decade of my life.

Then again, maybe not.

Which doesn’t mean if you love baseball, you shouldn’t go. You should go. Because for lovers of baseball and its history, it is the only game in town.

“It’s ain’t over till it’s over.”


R.I.P. – YOGI BERRA

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Yogi Berra passed away yesterday, September 23, 2015 at the age of 90. His contributions to baseball are too great to even begin to list. He was the last of the living legends.

Yogi, we will always miss you!

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