Let’s Play Two …

Arm & Hammer Park, Trenton, N.J.

The only thing I can think of that’s better than going to the ballpark for a game is going for two. So last weekend, while Stacy was celebrating Mother’s Day with her family in South Carolina,  I took advantage of the bachelor lifestyle in the best way I know how…watching live baseball.

With my Mum deceased and my girl away, I pretty much had the day free.  I took in a doubleheader at Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton to see the Yankees AA-Affiliate play the Nationals’ Harrisburg Senators.

Section 103 on the first base side.  Row AA.  Seat 1.  It was ideal.  The Bronx Babies split with the junior Senators from Pennsylvania.  Gleyber Torres, considered by most to be the Yanks’ top minor league prospect, hit one out in game two.  I even got a nice looking shot at the swing when he took Mr. Rawlings deep.

I went full cliche and I loved every second of it.  A hot dog and a beer during each game; in game two a bag of Cracker Jacks and Peanuts…although I didn’t really eat the peanuts yet.  For most of the day the sun shone on the 3,500 of us and when the storm clouds rolled in during game two, most people left.  They wanted to beat the rain.  Candyasses.

You don’t go to a ballgame to leave before it is over.  If you’re going to do that, stay at home.  No.  I stayed.  The rain came.  For about seven minutes it came down relatively hard.  I got soaked but the game continued.  The sun returned,  and some people had straggled back in.

When the crowd left because of the rain I moved left to Seat 10 … the one that was the closest to the dugout and the field.  I just don’t know a better place to sit than up close.  No matter where you are.  First base line, third base line, behind home plate or on top of the dugout.  The closer you get to the field, the better the game.

You may remember I told you back in April how going to Oriole Park at Camden Yards was so wonderful and how the baseball bug has bitten me.  Seeing the Thunder has gotten me even more excited about going to games.  So much so, that two days after the Trenton game I went to see the Somerset Patriots.

I even took a selfie with Sparkee.

Next up?  I go to see the Thunder again on Tuesday June 26.

The following week or so I will be in Charleston, S.C. where I will see the River Dogs (the Yankees A-Affiliate) play the Columbia Fireflies….as of this writing the left fielder for the Fireflies is Tim Tebow.  Yes.  THAT Tim Tebow.  I got me, Stace and her parents tickets on the left field side, front row.  Hopefully he won’t get called up to AA-ball before the Friday July 7 game.

We also have tickets for the July 12 Atlantic League All Star Game at TD Bank Ball Park – home of the Somerset Patriots.

Man, I do love this game.  Pictures from all three games below.

Game 1:  Trenton Thunder 2  Harrisburg Senators 1

Game 2:  Harrisburg Senators 6 Trenton Thunder 4

Somerset Patriots 2  Sugar Land Skeeters 1

Baseball & Hippos? Come On, Don’t Tease

Baseball and Hippos.  Has there ever been anything more right with the world?

hchI absolutely love Minor League Baseball.  It’s pro baseball at affordable prices, each seat is a great seat, there is always an easy going sense of humor in the ballpark and every effort is made under the sun to keep you interested between innings.

Locally we have the Somerset Patriots, an independent league team with a terrific stadium. I love going every year.  About an hour away we have the NY Yankee’s Double A farm team, the Trenton Thunder. In fact, Stacy and I got to see Andy Pettitte make a rehab assignment start there a few years back.

milblogosBut what first got me into MiLB were the names, hats and uniforms of these teams.  It started years ago with the Durham Bulls (because of Bull Durham, the movie). Then, I  found (and fell in love with) the logo of the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Portland Seadogs (a softball team I played on) and now, my newest favorite – The Hub City Hippos.

This Double-A Affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks are actually the Jackson Generals, based in Jackson, TN

It started with a 2016 April Fool’s joke. The Jackson Generals announced they would become the Hub City Hippos for every Friday home game that season. Enough people were on board with the idea last year, however, that the team decided this year to do it for real.

An article on BaseballAmerica.com reads, “We wanted to pay homage to the hippopotamus. Locals know that hippos are a major part of the ecosystem in West Tennessee,” Generals assistant general manager Nick Hall said. “The Generals are honored to be the first organization in the region to rightly honor the species.”

It went on to say “The designs for the caps and jerseys were done in-house, marking a second team’s departure from the two minor league design kingpins—Brandiose and Studio Simons—this season. The Lowell Spinners went to FS Designs for their new artwork.”

So, you know I had to … and I did … but alas, they’re not available online.  So, I contacted the store directly and for the low low price of a partial mortgage payment, I learned that I, too, can own my own Hub City Hippo fitted cap.

Yep.  For only $43.09 I can get the hat.  $58.09 if I throw in the T-shirt.

I’m not sure if you hear/saw that so I’ll just put it out there again.

$43.09.  For a hat.






Naturally I stopped for a moment to think this through, catch my breath and ask myself if this is something I really wanted to do.

Well. Yes. I want to do it.

But then I asked myself if this is something I really want to spend my money on?

Ah.  Now we’re singing a different song.

… and as I ponder the pros and cons of the purchase I remind myself of a mani/pedi that Stacy got from a really nice Spa a week or two ago.  She dropped nearly a hundred on that.  Nearly a hundred bucks to get the nails did.


I take another look at the face of the hippo on the hat.  I LOVE IT.  I really do.  But is it worth the money?

Did I mention it is $43.09?

That’s the price.

Then, I watched this video.   You should totally watch this video.  About five weeks ago The Memphis, TN Zoo welcomed Winnie…  I am serious  It is two and a half minutes.  You should watch this video.

I am SO buying this *&^%ing hat now.


Hoping for an Irish Derby in Kentucky Today

2017 Kentucky Derby LogoI don’t know if there has been a time in which I didn’t know who was running in the Kentucky Derby until Oaks Day.

There have been plenty of years I haven’t been immersed in it, but even then I still had a clue.

2017? I have no clue so I am handicapping like a newbie.  Finding horses I think might have a chance and finding a theme I can get behind.

So, here we go:

I am an avid reader and recently finished reading and listening to a book called Himself by Jess Kidd.  A good ghost story that was wonderfully narrated by an Irishman Aiden Kelly.  

I am now reading Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume.  I had not realized it was set in Ireland until I started listening to the accompanying Audible book.  This is also narrated by an Irishman, John Keating.  The latter a story about a broken down middle aged man and his new yet older broken down dog.  I am only about 30% in but so far it really is a lovely story about two wonderful souls.  

Add to all this, just two weeks ago Stacy and I went into the city to see Sunset Boulevard for what became the single greatest Broadway experience of my life.  Norma Desmond is not Irish, no.  But we had lunch at Langan’s Irish Pub beforehand, the two guys sitting next to us played French Horn in the show’s 40-piece orchestra and our waitress was a lovely young dark haired Irish woman named Jane who hailed from Cork, Ireland.  She had been in the US four months and depending on who you speak to, I may or may not have embarrassed myself a little with my gushing.

All of this points to one thing only – I am going with the luck of the Irish in the 143 Kentucky Derby.  Here are my bets:

$2 Win Bets on 15 – McCraken & 17 – Irish War Cry

$4 Irish Exacta Box:  15 – McCraken with 17 – Irish War Cry

$0.50 Irish Trifecta Box:    2 – Thunder Snow (bred in Ireland) with 15 – McCraken and 17 – Irish War Cry.

I will also put this in black and white seven hours before post time.  I did read the DRF and studied the form.  I like Irish War Cry in this.  I do.  I am hoping that the pace is slow and he doesn’t spit the bit in the stretch on me.  I also fear the #5, Always Dreaming.  My father-in-law (to be) has keyed him and for good reason.

Stace just called out to me as I am finishing this up and said “Just put $10 to win on Irish War Cry for me.”

God, I love this woman.

Happy Kentucky Derby Day friends.  Win lose or draw one thing is for sure … Stace and I have plenty of Bourbon on hand so we have already won the day!!!


Stacy & her Dad, the 2016 Derby glass, Bulleit Bourbon, Eagle Rare (thank you MOB), Woodford Reserve (thank you, GMT) and a personalized bottle of Woodford I got Stacy in Louisville when driving back east from Oregon for good.  The bottle is old but the bourbon in “new.”  Below the booze, Dad and I at Saratoga in 1977.



You Told Him I was Gonna throw a Deuce, Right?


If you are paying any attention to Major League Baseball you know the future of New York Yankees looks more exciting than it has in years. Fortunately, now that Comcast and the YES Network have put their big boy pants on and came to an agreement, I have Yankee baseball in my home once more. Even though it is about damned time, it could not have come at a better time. if it had not, I would be missing out on something special.

The story of the season thus far has centered around right fielder Aaron Judge. I unabashedly join in the chorus of Bomber fans everywhere singing his praises.

image014The man is a powerhouse. He stands 6′ 7″ tall and 282 lbs. To give a better perspective, Yankee Magazine tweeted out this photo of him with our shortstop Ronald Torreyes. Standing slightly smaller than the average American male, Torreyes is 5′ 8″ and 151 pounds.

That is a big boy.

Just last night, in the 25th game of the year he hit home runs 11 and 12 of the season and in the process is becoming the best thing that happened to MLB’s Stratcast since its 2015 inception.

I know. I had no idea either. But since it keeps coming up when people talk about him, I felt it was time to learn. Now it’s your turn.

Statcast is a high-speed, high-accuracy, automated tool developed to analyze player movements and athletic abilities.

With respect to hitting, it measures exit velocity, launch angle, vector, hang time, hit distance and projected HR distance. The latter by calculating the distance of projected landing point at ground level on over-the-fence home runs.

One month into the season Judge is at the top of the list. last week he hit a shot that got out of there in a hurry, exiting at 119.4 MPH. In doing so, he sent Mr. Rawlings 435 feet. No one this season has hit one harder.

Further? Yes.  Harder? No.

When reviewing Stratcast’s Top 50 hardest hit balls of the season, Judge is responsible for nine of them. NINE! Let’s do quick math: 30 teams. 25-man rosters. In the NL, pitchers can hit. This makes a total of 375 potential NL batters and 240 American League batters who are on active rosters.

Of these 615 men, one is responsible for nine of the top 50 (18%) hardest hit basballs in April.  It is the rookie right fielder for the NY Yankees.  Three of those nine were home runs that went 435, 448 and 457 feet.

I have been hearing a lot of comparisons to Derek Jeter lately. That initially gave me pause until I learned these comparisons are with respect to Judge’s mannerisms on and off the field. Polite. Respectful. Professional. Pausing and thinking before he speaks. He does not shoot from the hip. For a young athlete in NYC, that is impressive.

“He’s a little bit like Derek to me,” Yankee Manager Joe Girardi said on Monday. “He’s got a smile all the time. He loves to play the game. You always think that he’s going to do the right thing on the field and off the field when you look at him. He’s got a presence about him. He plays the game to win all the time, and that’s the most important thing. It’s not about what you did that day.

Even Jeter himself is becoming a fan.

“The good thing about him is you can tell from his demeanor and his attitude that he wants to improve,” said Jeter on a video posted on yankees.com “He wants to be better and he handles himself the right way, not only on the field but off the field. So I’m a fan of his.”

Judge’s reaction? He is staying silent.  I think Jeter would have done that, too.

In my limited experience in watching him, Judge comes to play everyday. He comes to win, everyday. That’s also what Jeter did. That’s what all the great Yankees have done in the past and do today.

With a bit of luck, Judge will be one of them. The coming years will tell us yes or no.

But for now, all rise for Aaron Judge!

#             #             #

NOTE:  Judge named American League Rookie of the Month

This Singular Best Performance I Have Ever Seen on a Broadway Stage

In the seven times I saw Les Mis it wasn’t until I saw Ricky Martin playing Marius Pontmercy that I understood and respected that character.  Here’s why:  In A Little Fall of Rain Eponine dies in Marius’ arms.  Shortly after, he has to reconcile this death with the love of his life moving away.  In my experience, no one in film, or on stage, ever pulled this off with delicacy and precision.  Then, there was Martin.  

Martin navigated this sensitive transition seamlessly without ever seeming one-dimensional.  He was extraordinary and successfully awoke an emotion others failed to evoke in that role.

That was over 20 years ago and since that day it has reigned as the single most moving scene I had experienced on a live stage.  

That is, until a week ago last Saturday.

By no means am I an expert on Broadway but I know what I like and I like to think I can hold my own in conversation.  I have made more than 60 visits to nearly 40 different shows and of those I found Martin’s performance the most notable of the lot.

Again, that is, until a week ago last Saturday when I sat three rows from the foot of God and St. Peter in the worst seats I have ever had for a Broadway show.  It was there I witnessed the single greatest performance of any show I have ever seen in my 48 years.


Picture from Playbill.com

It was all because of Glenn Close.

She was extraordinary.  Just extraordinary.  The stage presence, the command, the believability.  She would have startled Billy Wilder and have made Gloria Swanson swoon with envy.

Glenn Close, now 70, revived her role as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard after opening the show in Los Angeles, then NYC 23 years ago.  She had greater than 1,700 people in that theatre in the palm of her hand and there was no place else any of us would have rather been.

From the desperate loneliness of the opening scenes, when she buried her pet chimpanzee, to captivating the attention of a down on his luck Hollywood hack with her spellbinding “With One Look.”  Drilling into the core of our soul her brilliance as an actress, we knew as the last note played she was the greatest star of all …. then had us all beside ourselves with the beautifully dismissive “now, go…”

That command of the stage continued through two acts and believe me when I tell you she owned it.  She owned it all.

Then in Act II, Norma visited the Paramount lot.  Admittedly I looked forward to this scene if for no other reason than I love the song and what it represents.  Then, I was blown away, and it is the very reason I felt like writing a blog about it.  This performance by Close, that I already thought terrific, launched into this unexpected enormity of greatness.

I knew what was to come, but I had no idea what was to come.

When the opening notes of As If We Never Said Goodbye began to play, everyone from the Saturday matinee crowd in the Palace Theatre felt the hairs on the back of their necks rise at once.

I don’t know why I’m frightened. I know my way around here.
The cardboard trees, the painted scenes, the sound here.
Yes, a world to rediscover, But I’m not in any hurry
And I need a moment …

This woman, who 20 years prior was abandoned by the very same 30 million people who gave her life meaning, was again where she was born to be.

Over the past 20 years she has experienced a loneliness that would break us all.  Living the life of a  reclusive and detached former star, Norma Desmond slowly slipped into madness.

I’ve spent so many mornings just trying to resist you
I’m trembling now, you can’t know how I’ve missed you,
Missed the fairy-tail adventures in this ever-spinning playground
We were young together

Then, if only for a few moments, she climbs out of the darkness of this profound sadness and feels a light of joy and euphoria she hasn’t felt in a generation.

We couldn’t be happier for her.  We saw her pain.  We felt her loneliness.  We hurt for her.  It didn’t matter that she could buy and sell half the town with the money she had, she was agonizingly alone and for this one moment she was alive.

I don’t want to be alone
That’s all in the past,
This world’s waited long enough,
I’ve come home at last!

She was home at last and man, did she deserved this.


Picture from Playbill.com

When that last note played I looked to my left and saw my girl wipe her eyes.  I looked to the right, and this stranger sitting beside me was doing the same.  I felt no shame in doing so myself.  Why deny myself?

This has never happened to me before.  Not even 20+ years ago when Marius Pontmercy’s feeling of loss for his childhood friend then the love of his life within minutes tears the heart apart.

No.  Not like this.

Then all at once, all us “wonderful people, out there in the dark” stopped for half a moment, breathed in, and did the only thing we could do.

We applauded.

Then we applauded some more, and applauded some more.  And when it is customary for the applause to subside, and let the show continue, we didn’t.  

We continued. 

It was a show ending applause that happened with 45 minutes to go.

She owned it.  She owned it all and I half wonder if I will experience anything like it again.

When I got home and I thought about it, it was one of the very few times I really and truly wished I was a man of financial means.  I wanted to turn around and buy tickets for that night’s performance, then the next day’s and then next week’s worth.

But, I am not complaining.  If I never experience anything like that again, it will be alright, because I had it at least this once.

All it took was just one look.

Broadway Shows Seen:  42nd Street  •  A Bronx Tale  •  A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum  •  Animal Crackers  •  Beauty & the Beast (2)  •   Chicago (4)  •  Crazy for You  •  Damn Yankees  •  Grease  •  Guys and Dolls  •  Hedwig and the Angry Inch  •  How to Succeed in Business Without Really trying   Jekyll & Hyde (3)  •  Jersey Boys  •  Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat  •  Kinky Boots  •  Les Miserables (7)  •  Mama Mia  •  Memphis  •  Million Dollar Quartet  •  Miss Saigon (3)  •  Moon Over Buffalo  •  Phantom of the Opera (4)  •  Pippin  •  Promises Promises  •  Ragtime  •  Rent (2)  •  Rob Becker’s Defending the Caveman  •  Showboat  •  Sunset Boulevard (4)  •  The Book of   Mormon  •  The Front Page  •  The Producers  •  The Scarlet Pimpernel (3)  •  The Who’s Tommy  •  Titanic  •  Victor Victoria  •