Saturday, January 29, 2011

Look at his leg; Look at his leg

No. 3 is snakes. Creepy, creepy snakes. No. 2 is death. Oh, death isn't so scary. It's kind of peaceful. And the No. 1 thing that scares people the most is speaking in front of a crowd.
Not to my Riley. He doesn't blink an eye when it's time to speak in front of folks. Yesterday, he took on all the 4th and 5th graders and had no problem with it. He even got a standing ovation at the Jump Rope for Heart assembly.
But all this does is bring back bad memories. It was time for my seventh-grade speech in front of the class. STAGE FRIGHT!
My voice was a little shaky but not too bad. And then my leg started to move. And it picked up speed.
A kid listening (well, sort of), exclaimed out loud, "Look at his leg, look at his leg!"
By this time my leg was dancing. I reached down to try and tie it down but by this time, the class was not listening at all but watching the freak show.
My friend Mark told me the tale that he witnessed another kid's speech. This person's hands were shaking so badly that the speech got loose and flew under a piano. Mark recalled what a sad situation it was to see this person flat on her stomach reaching under the piano for the fallen speech.
Hell, it's not that easy. But for Riley it is.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Just for a cup of coffee?

At Pioneer Press, I covered the College of Lake County baseball team especially in the golden years of that newspaper. Those Lancers had some good clubs. One season, my neighbor Mark Ledinsky and teammates Brad Dodge and Tim Unroe starting clobbering home runs on a regular basis. Flash forward to the year 1995 and there is Unroe now wearing the jersey of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team. How fun. So I took the trip up there and got my press pass. I had never interviewed Unroe but he knew I was a local reporter who knew about his past success. The talk went well but I knew full well that my boss wanted another source for the Unroe story.
So I wondered across the locker room and spied infielder Mark Loretta. He would go on to play more than 1,700 games in the Major Leagues. After eight seasons in Milwaukee he hit the road to Houston, San Diego, Boston and Los Angeles. He looked like a nice guy so I slipped over to his locker and told him I was from Pioneer Press and was doing a story on Unroe.
"Why don't you do a story on me,'' Loretta barked. "I went to Northwestern."
Ooops. Sure the Evanston Review was a big paper but I didn't work for that edition.
I told him that fact and he reluctantly gave me some quotes on Unroe.
Believe or not after I forget about Unroe, he went on to hit 3 Major League homers. His so-called cup of coffee saw him get 195 Major League at-bats. Take that Mark Loretta.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

It hit the stupid wire up there

OK, I did write about this on that work blog before those yahoos shut me down. I was always about baseball, football and basketball. I don't think I even tried any other sports. But here I was living in Laurel, Maryland and bored out of my mind. I met a friend in the neighborhood, Roger White, and we began to experiment with golf. I think I must have gone to Zayre and purchased a five-iron. We also had some plastic balls. So we went around the neighborhood hitting shots through trees and bushes. Believe it or not, we got pretty good at it.
So what was next? Yes, a real golf course. It wasn't expensive but we had to rent clubs. I took my first tee shot of my life and the ball soared high and deep. And then it hit a wire and came straight down. What a disappointment. It began a very difficult day. Our scores vaulted over 100. Naturally, we ran out of golf balls quickly. But in better news there were plenty of balls on the driving range.
Our round finally concluded and so with it any dreams of a career in golf. And then the pro in the office asked his wife to come close to us. "Take a good look at these boys,'' he said. "They are never allowed to play here again. They have been taking balls off of our driving range."
Now that was adding further insult to our sad day. So, I said, "Come on Roger, we don't want to play here anyway. They don't have any greens. They only have browns."
I did rediscover golf later in life, hence the picture of some of my tournament players, and enjoy the game very much.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Terror at Mountain Lake Camp

Marie got me thinking back. She's sending her only children to far away Minnesota for French camp. She noted on her blog that she never went to camp.
Yeah, well that didn't happen with me. I went a few times. Now in my day, I was a very good fielder and a weak hitter in baseball. But at Mountain Lake Camp in West Virginia, I was a baseball star. The kids there were awful players and me the non-pitcher just blew them away.
That was the good news. Some of the guys in the camp decided to broadcast a fake game and we kept on taking turns. I took the fake microphone out a kid's hand and the sadistic camp counselor caught me. He said this kid and I would have a fist fight later in the day in front of the camp. That would be followed by the counselor fighting me.
Does that sound fair? Of course I was petrified. Later in the day, I found the kid I was supposed to fight. He wasn't mad at me. So we agreed not to hit each other when the fight came up. And then the creepy counselor said the camp wouldn't allow it.
Finally it was time for the camp picture. I posed like everyone. And then all hell broke loose. The woman who ran the camp screamed a curse word and came charging at me. Oh, my God. She grabbed the kid next to me and pulled him out of line. She then kicked him in the ass as hard as she could. I wondered if I was in some sort of a mental institution. I saw the photo later and the kid had made a crazy face.
Remember these stories Marie when its time to drop your kids at camp far, far away from home.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hot time at the basketball game?

Let's see now, I've reported on basketball games for about 23 years. Times that by about 20 games a year and that's approaching 500 hoops games. It's a pretty simple task. Just watch the game, about 1.5 hours, talk to some folks and go home. Not on Saturday though. Just minding my own business when an alarm went off at Stevenson High School. An announcement went up to vacate the building. Well, I didn't smell any smoke so took my time getting outside. We all moved like cattle away from the building. Heck, it was cold outside but it wasn't a blizzard so no serious complaints.
It was a broken water pipe. The girls basketball players came back in and warmed up again. And then it was halftime so there went more time. In the second half, the alarm went off again. This time, we weren't chased so far away. I can say one thing for sure. I never got so much exercise watching a basketball game.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Another Aunt Judy story

How old is this story? Oh, never mind. It's Aunt Judy now living in Florida who is holding up young Brady. She recently celebrated a birthday.
So let's go back to her little apartment in Brooklyn, New York. Aunt Judy is my mom's only sister. We used to visit her from time to time from our house in Virginia. One time, she held a heck of a party. Invited everyone possible. And it was a two bedroom apartment.
I was a young teenager at the time and watched folks run into each other at this party. For some reason, I followed some man as he carried a plate of chow mein to find a spot to eat it. He had a heck of a time dodging folks. Finally he settled in back of a sofa. And then he was hit again.
This time, the chow mein flew off his plate and landed square on the shoulder of an older woman sitting on the sofa.
And she didn't notice anything.
She kept on running her mouth and never notice the entree on her dress. I was howling by this time and called my older brother to watch the activities. The man himself was in shock. He couldn't believe what had happened to his meal. I was practically crying by this time. He was looking around to see if anyone was watching. And then, get this, he took out his fork carefully and started to pick off the chow mein off her dress. She still didn't notice a thing.
I have the movie rights in my head so don't run away with this story, please.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

To Twitter is to what?

I was happy emailing, texting and blogging. But resisted tweeting. What is all this about? I'm tweeting now. On my twitter account comes ESPN, Epicurion, Huffington Post, Hardball Talk, All About Beer, Magic Hat, Dan Connelly Sun, Barack O'Bama (yes, the President of the United States), G DeLaurentis (fine cook and drop dead gorgeous), Drink Craft Beer (great!), Beer Advocate, Dogfish Beer (super micro brewery in Delaware), Chuck Todd (MSNBC), Camden Crazies (Orioles stuff), Boulder Beer, BFlay (love the Throwdowns on Food Network) and Imbibe.

Oh, me? Writing Sports. While the President discusses foreign policy, I go on about my favorite salad dressing (Garlic Expressions), a number of girls basketball tweets, my fried chicken recipe, Orioles thoughts, and some favorite beers and food magazines. Does the world really care about that? Do I have to have some standards? There are three folks following me. Why?
It is kind of fun though.