First Draft Horosopes

Today’s Birthday! 

You are exceptionally witty and playful, on account of the Zanax whose street corner prescription means that it’s three right turns and a couple hundred miles south of the calming effect it should be having on you. Psychotropic medications in a brown paper bag are so much more fun, until they ain’t.

The youthful quality to your personality means you’re first in line for climbing mountains and skydiving. Stealing ear buds from the electronics department at Target is simply bonus round. You are highly creative on a mental level. Or is it, you are highly mental on a creative level? Yeah . . the latter, definitely the latter.

You tend to be short on patience, and you also tend to feel that others don’t move nearly as quickly as you do, which . . . tends to mean you have few friends. Since you also tend to express your thoughts on the matter, like, all the time. Maybe you should pop another Zanax and worry about the ramifications after you’ve been fitted with a padded suit.

 

 

I Got 99 Problems But A Pitch Ain’t One

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Going to the new Yankee Stadium is an exercise in the megalomaniacal excesses of old money crashing head long into new money and making babies; entitled little creatures whose trust funded silver spoon was upgraded to platinum in the reboot. For a culture stuck in a perpetual hunger for all things next gen, this joint plays a peach melody.

I’m plenty fine with the new digs, really. It’s just that, as a Yankee fan of a certain age . . I adhere to the bargain basement sensibility that asks, “If it’s swimming just fine, why the harpoon?”. Of course, just like Jeopardy whiz James Holzhauer, I know the answer before the question is set into its stone foundation. Yankee Stadium Part 3 is a masterstroke of inevitability run amok. Where sports stadiums have become premium tier caviar cribs, loosing a greed-think philosophy which has turned a day at the ballgame into a Disney vacation replete with fine restaurants and overpriced everything else. Seats have become investments, patrons have become guests and season tickets have turned into catching a couple games a year, maybe.

I miss the Yankee Stadium that was replaced by this one. The history of that place alone should have placed it on the National Register of Historic Places. The names that played its stage define an epoch of sporting accomplishment. From Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio to Mantle, Jackson and Jeter. Not to mention the rivals who graced the coliseum of a golden age: Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Satchel Paige and Hank Aaron. And that’s just the first chapter.

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And oh yeah . . Knute Rockne and Vince Lombardi coached there. Joe Louis and Max Schmeling fought there. The 1958 Title Game (“The Greatest Game Ever Played”) between the Colts and Giants was played there. And Pope Paul VI and later Pope John Paul II celebrated mass there. And that’s just chapter two.

As we’ve seen, Cathedrals do fall and time is an impatient beast when it comes to change. Hell, the game has been transformed into a stat geek’s paradise; what with infield shifts that resemble pileups on the BQE and players who don’t know what a bunt looks like, and feast or famine box scores. But through it all, the game is really still as simple as a pitcher telling a little white pill what to do while a batter tries to talk it into doing something else.

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So it was that I took my son and his young bride to see the Yankees play the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday afternoon, in a battle for first place in the American League East. A match-up of team aces, with the Yankees sending out Masahiro Tanaka and the Rays answering with 2018 AL Cy Young award winner Blake Snell. Thing about aces, there are expectations. The crowd expects A plus cooking, so when he starts scribbling B work, the chatter can get colorful. I happen to think there’s a beauty to watching a pitcher negotiate outs from the third rail. And these two pitchers ransomed zeroes from their respective arsenals, as if devils at the wheel. Tanaka’s four seamer was flat lining and his slider called in sick and yet, he was able to muster six scoreless innings before getting hit on the shin and becoming the latest Yankee to hit the injured list, which reads like a Hemingway tally.

His counterpart, Blake Snell, has stuff that’s more wicked than a trigger happy ridge runner. And while his curve ball wasn’t fooling anyone, his Hi-Lo game kept the home team at bay; with a fastball that salted the rim and a change up that tossed them into the drink time after hopeless time.

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One of my favorite things about the game is the down time, with which a writer chisels out Longfellow, Hopper and even a little Seinfeld. I talked with my son about that magical ride of a ’96 Yankees club. And then I studied the iconic facade that wraps itself around the holler of blue seats whilst pitching a Seinfeld skit inspired by the Goombah with the Giambi t-shirt a couple rows south of us that had the kids cracking up. We figured out the Yankees Rushmore somewhere in between.

As is my baseball ritual, I honed in on the infinite ripples of a game. Like how Tanaka stops on a dime at the quarter pole of his delivery. And how Luke Voit plays first base like the most earnest of rugby players. And how Kevin Kermaier of the Rays became my Grand Master of a most favorite baseball funk, with his insane between pitch stretches and his bantering to teammates and that Tarantino howitzer of an arm.

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As is the new age custom, the bullpen took the keys a little more than halfway through and outside of a few hiccups, they made it into extra innings after a Gio Urshela drive to deep right died two feet short of a walk off home run celebration for the Bombers. In Kermaier’s mitt, because of course. And then Austin Meadows of the Rays tore a moon beam into those same right field seats two innings later to give the visitors the lead for good.

The 2-1 win gave the Rays temporary possession of first place. And from the looks of it, these guys are intent on being a thorn in the sides of baseball royalty this season. Talent is the greatest equalizer, and when you have the chops to do something about it, you always got next.

Because some things never go out of style.

Heroes Of The Week!

Super Man

Imma try something new this week with my Heroes entry by giving y’all briefs on my heroes and zeros rather than prattling on. I got the idea after reading an article which claimed that readers tend to lose interest if they have to read more than a few paragraphs on a given topic. I forget what the rest of the article said, but I was duly inspired to exercise brevity. I’m sure there will be instances where I will prattle on. Take this explanation, for instance . . .

Mother Nature- The balls on this chick. There was snow in New England this week. Not the movie set Styrofoam shit either. As Lou Gramm opined, head games . . I can’t take it anymore!

Favorite headline from the Globe, or The National Examiner- “It’s not Harry’s Baby!”. Personally, I would have gone with Royal Flush! or Check Mated! But whatevs.

Wise beyond her years- I’ve been a critic of Team Process in Philadelphia, because I think any professional organization that soaks its fans for half a decade and then dresses it up in analytics should be brought up on charges. But the Sixers are fun, and Joel Embiid crying on the court after losing to Toronto touched me, okay?

Leave it to a nine year old Sixers fan named Olivia to sum things up best of all.

Readers ain’t writers (Spoiler Alert)- Palenty of Game of Thrones fans went carazy over how last week’s episode went down, so lemme simplify for the simpletons. Jaime proved you never outrun your past. Dany predicted how this was going to go down ages ago. And all those innocents? Picked the wrong kingdom to buy a house in. War ain’t tidy, kingdoms are won on equal parts guile and brutality and if you want a happy ending, go to Friendly’s. That is all.

A long time coming- Pete Sabedra waited a long time to earn his high school diploma. More than seventy years, in fact. When Pete was in the eighth grade, he had to drop out of high school to support his family. After serving in WW2, he received his GED.

Fast forward to now, where the 92 year old Sabedra was presented with a diploma during the awards ceremony in which his grandson Kace received his diploma. He was named an honorary member of the class of 2019. The moral is, it’s never too late.

Favorite headline from the the National Examiner, or The Globe-
“Betty White’s Wild Life!- Cocktails, Close Friends and Hot Dogs” My God, what a hedonist she was!

When jokes go South(west)- During an hours long maintenance delay on a recent Southwest flight, a passenger’s innocent joke got serious. Quickly. As attendants were handing out water, a passenger remarked “They should be handing out vodka, we’ve been waiting so long,”. Rather than let the joke die a cornhole death, an attendant shot back at the passenger and then informed authorities of an unruly passenger.

The plane did a u-turn and the passenger was removed from the flight, to the protests of all the passengers who had witnessed the exchange. Hopefully, this attendant will visit the website peoplewhoareeasilyoffendedbythestupidestshit.com.

Uncommon strength- Journalist Jayson Greene has written a book Once More We Saw Stars. It’s a memoir which details the anguish of losing a child. Greene and his wife Stacy lost their two year old daughter Greta in 2015 when a brick fell from an eighth story windowsill and struck her in the head. She died the next day.

Greene’s book is filled with painful, sobering images. But it also speaks to the crumbling infrastructure of New York City, and the desperate need for action so that this does not happen to someone else. It always amazes me to find people like this, who contribute to humanity in the face of unspeakable loss. God bless them.

Boycott Alabama- Of course, I ain’t ever visiting the place to begin with. And I don’t know too many folks who are. But it’s time to strike back at legislators who recently signed an abortion bill into law that truly belongs in the dark ages. Shameful.

Favorite headline of the week from the New York Post- “Here Cons The Bride”- ‘Husband’ sues car heiress for faking their wedding

All heroism is local- One minute Duana Owens was sitting outside a Wells Fargo branch minding his own business, and the next he’s getting a Sorryless mention.

Owens watched a man enter and then rapidly exit the bank, brandishing a hatchet on the flip side no less. Undeterred, Owens sprang into action. He ordered the culprit to lower his weapon and to get on the ground. After a few tense moments, he did as Owens had instructed. “(Police) said they really couldn’t find too many citizens like me,” Owens said proudly. No kidding.

Welp, that’s a wrap for this week. Apologies to those who never made it out of the green room, like . . . NYC Mayor DiBlasio turned Presidential candidate #714, the troll who wished cancer on talk show host James Corden’s kid and as always . . Chancellor Trump.

First Draft Horoscopes

Today’s Birthday! 

Just because you are right doesn’t mean everyone else is wrong . . . okay, of course it does. It’s not you, it really is them . . all of them. And don’t let the voices in your head tell you differently. When you are proven correct today, try and resist the urge to gloat or boast. But failing that, make sure you take to social media and really let them have it, the clueless asshats. The most effective way to alienate people and harm your reputation is through arrogance, so remember to really pour it on. I mean, who needs people? Especially this week . . since you haven’t seen Game of Thrones yet and it’s a certainty someone is gonna fuck it up for you. It’s okay to feel proud of yourself, and while you really shouldn’t do so at the expense of others, there are exceptions. Like, sleeping with the spouse of your arch-nemesis. Talk about a dark spirit win! You could be humble, but that comes about as naturally to you as poetry and commitment.

My First Girl

This Mothers Day post is from the way back of time, but it still keeps. To all the Mamas out there . . Happy You Day.

Peace and love

I remember walking you home from school. We’d stop by the park and I’d push you on the swings. We’d fill our faces with chocolate bars so perilously close to supper, because we could. And then we’d laugh at having broken with such frivolous convention. We’d hike to the supermarket and trade knowing winks, as if we had committed high treason on the butcher with our chocolatey smiles.

I’d haul the heavy bags home as we talked about the Beatles and the travails of kindergarten. You were my first girl. Hey, I was rather mature for my age, and you needed a five year old best friend. You needed to know what it was to feel young. God knows you had so much of it stolen from you.

I’d tell you how beautiful you looked and how great you smelled. Compliment your shoes. Hold the door. We’d make dinner. Dad, absent; the hours with him were dissolving as work took him away from us more and more. So it was you and me. You taught me to cook. Give foot rubs. Dance. All the essentials for a boy who was just beginning to marvel at the wonders of a girl.

I was the man of the house whenever he was away, and you made me earn it. Cause a Catholic girl always does. I loved the time we spent alone, because it gave me the chance to steal that amazing laugh you possessed. I wish dad would’ve warned me about that laugh. To this day, a woman’s laugh holds a most deliciously intoxicating mystery for me. Yours was childhood, the one you never got to unwrap because you were too busy growing up, too soon. I knew enough to know too much. It’s why I beckoned that laugh whenever I could. To summon the little girl away from the primitive conclusions of this world for a little while.

Thank you for teaching me how to throw a baseball . . . how to set a table . . . how to love a woman . . . thank you for that silent conversation we shared when you came to visit me in the hospital, a conversation I might never match with spoken word if I live to 100. Thank you for the advice you would impart whenever I went searching for the answers to a woman’s heart, like the time you told me “If it was that easy to figure out a woman, there’d be no need for alcohol.”

My little girl has a middle name that comes from you, but that’s not all she carries of you. She carries your sense of humor, your honesty, your grace. And my son has your persistence and that wholesome sense of purpose that makes him my twelve year old role model.

Because of you, I spend a small fortune on Mothers Day cards. I have my own personal “Mothers Club”, and you are the reason why I lean on them so hard and love them so completely. Because of you.

You taught me that life isn’t about having all the answers. Not when comfortable shoes are so much more important.

There is a thank you in every conversation we share. But here’s one for the hell of it.

Heroes Of The Week

You say Twitter, I say Twatter- This garden variety weed of social media is Darwin’s gift to the technological world. And this week’s “Dumb Shit People Say On Twitter” award goes to . . .

Those imbeciles who trashed Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s beau, referring to him as a ‘bin raccoon’. One of the Twitterati exclaimed in mock horror, “THIS is what AOC’s boyfriend looks like?” . . . After which, I have to think their kindergarten teacher took away their phones.

Riley Roberts and AOC keep things pretty quiet and chill for a reason, this one. But the web developer loves his girl, is fiercely supportive of her and is loved by her mama. So apologies to all those twits who trashed his look for my blatantly mean response but . . .

Who gives a blessed fuck what you think?

And now for a Frank Angle on a few of the week’s heroes. Cincy, from AFrankAngle hit me with a double mint of good stuff this past week. Here then, his twin bill . . .

Back to the Future- Nineteen years ago, DerMarr Johnson’s future was so bright he was investing in Ray Bans and sunscreen. His was the mad game skill set that perched itself inside the NCAA’s “One and Done” system whereby high school stars use college as a revolving door in order to hone their games and get some much needed national recognition. A spring board for the starry studs, with the emphasis on court work over school work.

Johnson attended the University of Cincinnati for his requisite cup of coffee, leading the Bearcats to a 29-3 record before being upset in the second round of the NCAA tournament by Tulsa. It was a blip for the kid whose game was going places, as proven by his being selected sixth overall in the NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks. It was all right there for Johnson; NBA stardom and generational money that would keep him in Ray Bans forever.

And then his first two seasons didn’t produce the takeoff many scouts had predicted. And then he was involved in a car accident that almost left him paralyzed, and then forever started getting lost. Johnson did play again, but most of his service time was spent on the fringes- some spot duty on various NBA teams followed by playing overseas and in developmental leagues.

Johnson never found his star, but this past week all that adversity felt a million light years away when the thirty eight year old earned a degree from UC. He wants to coach, and in order to do so, he needed a degree. So he went back to the classroom, for real. And now he’s got a bead on taking the court once again. Different seat, but it still counts for lots.

“Life is short. My life was almost taken my second year in the NBA. You don’t take anything for granted. You take advantage of all your opportunities,’’

I take back what I said about Johnson not finding his star. He’s simply chasing a different one now.

Running Down A Dream- Shaquem Griffin was born with amniotic band syndrome. The condition occurs when amniotic bands constrict the flow of blood to digits, arms and legs and impair their development. Griffin’s left hand was compromised during childbirth, leaving him in excruciating pain as a toddler. His parents made the heart wrenching decision to amputate his left hand after finding him in the kitchen attempting to cut it off himself.

It never stopped Griffin from visiting all those places in his childhood dreams. He starred in track, baseball and football in high school. He played alongside his brother Shaquill at the University of Central Florida. Among his many achievements, Griffin was named the defensive player of the year for his league in 2016; and in 2018 he scored MVP honors at the Peach Bowl, capping an undefeated season for UCF. In April of 2018, he was selected in the fifth round by the Seattle Seahawks, where he would play alongside his brother once again.

Griffin never forgot where his dreams came from, and so when he heard the story of ten year old Izzy Turkington, he sprang to action. Turkington was born with quad congenital limb differences. He was fitted with prosthetic devices for his legs as an infant. In conjunction with the Challenged Athlete Foundation, Griffin fitted Izzy- who plays several sports himself- with prosthetic runners.

Because Griffin understands as well as anyone that disabilities are not roadblocks to success, they’re simply the challenges you overcome to get there.

The Days of Whine and Poses- The NBA has become a league of girly men. Players are knighted by shoe contracts rather than their achievements on the court. Ya got Kyrie Irving wanting to be Batman when he’s a Robin. The Rockets ‘auditing’ referees calls and deciding they should have won last year’s playoff series against Golden State, which is shamefully weak. There’s Joel Embiid, who has more maladies than a hypochondriac proof reader for WebMD.

It’s quite obvious Michael Jordan has nothing to worry about.

As for the final entry for this weeks Heroes post, it goes to a place I’ve visited too many damned times.

Eighteen year old Kendrick Castillo was all set to graduate from STEM School Highlands Ranch next week. His interests included Computer Information Technology and he wanted to study electrical engineering in college. He was looking forward to this weekend, when he would compete in a “Rods and Robots” event at the school.

Kendrick had done such a great job interning at a manufacturing company that they gave him a part time gig. Post-graduation, he had several internships lined up, because companies wanted in on his smarts. With each passing day, his tomorrows were becoming more limitless.

And then someone walked into Castillo’s classroom with a gun on Tuesday and then the kid lunged at the shooter, saving his classmates by taking a bullet. And then all those tomorrows became the latest theft in a long and hopeless wound of school shootings.

Just like that, gone was the idea of everything. Replaced with stories that will never be told, memories that will never be made, and a life that comes to an end just as it was busy getting started.

His father is left to wish that his son would have run and hid, but he admits that wasn’t his way. Kendrick wasn’t the type to back down, he wasn’t afraid of the world he had grown up inside of. A world where kids go to school and never come home. A world where days like Tuesday have achieved a sick normalcy.

A world gone mad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Birthday!

You are a methodical creature who likes to see all aspects of an issue before deciding which side to join. (Who you kidding? You seriously considered voting for Trump in 2016. Which is akin to choosing an ophthalmologist who specializes in acupuncture. So really, you’re methodically inept. How’s that fit ya?) But just because you are slow by nature does not mean that you are unresponsive. (But it doesn’t NOT mean it either. Hell, you married a woman who confessed to you that she was the lone suspect in the questionable deaths of three former husbands. She made this confession on your first date! After which you figured it would be kitschy if you eloped to Vegas. Your red flag collection is nearing its expiration date . . .) And today, someone will offer you a chance to prove that fact when they come to you for help. (She’s gonna ask you to sign another life insurance policy. And then she’s going to suggest rock climbing. And sometime later, you’ll be the subject of a Lifetime movie. But seeing as how you’ve been played by your wife, the gardener AND your best man Jake . . being played by Chris Pine in a movie ain’t the worst thing.) Faster than anyone else, you will have the answer to a problem that has been puzzling your group for a while. (You’re gonna confess to your closest pals the affair you’ve been having with your secretary. And about how you’re gonna leave your wife for her. They’ll confess their doubts about the wife and you’ll be relieved. Of course, you’re playing checkers while the wife plays chess. Because guess what? She’s sleeping with your secretary as well.) This is a day when you will make a minor but indelible mark on the world. (Because you’re devastated when your secretary breaks it off, so you decide to rededicate yourself to your marriage. You’ll go on that rock climbing expedition. After which Chris Pine will lose out on the starring role to Ryan Reynolds.)