Thursday, March 29, 2007

maybe baseball

This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. Think about that for a while.
the movie "bull durham" wasn't about parenting. it was about sex.

but quite often there's a correlation between sex and parenthood.

it's true. you could look it up.

i've been a parent for going on nine years. despite the insistence of some, parenthood is not always a jar of chocolate chip cookies. sometimes it's more like a pot of pickled beets. good for you, perhaps, but they leave an awful taste in your mouth.

i digress.

my son is playing baseball. for the first time. i mean, really, he's totally baseball-naive. because i'm a bad parent.

i played baseball for many, many years. sometimes well. i played until my junior year in college, in fact. at that point shoulder tendinitis and marginal talent combined to turn me into a spectator.

despite all that baseball experience, i never cajoled my son onto the field. didn't even try. we urged him into other activities, of course. karate, swimming, gymnastics, indoor climbing. he's quite good at all of them.

but no baseball. what kind of father doesn't encourage his son to play baseball, for gawdsake? that's what fathers and sons do, isn't it? go down to the local park, bat and gloves in hand, and learn some fundamentals?

nope. never happened. until this year. suddenly we're playing catch-up as much as we're playing catch.
the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.
turns out the boy has some baseball skills. he fields ground balls smoothly, and throws hard to first. he swings the bat and makes contact. he smiles at me, and i smile back. i tell him, "nice job," and "stay with it," and "just make contact." and he does, most of the time. when he's not turning his hat sideways, and digging in the dirt with his new cleats.

if it were important, i could teach the boy a lot about baseball. i could teach him things about the game that i never knew until long after i stopped playing. i could, maybe, help him appreciate being in the zone, the feeling that no matter what the pitcher offers up, you're going to hit it a long way the other direction.

if it were important.

baseball is simple. life is complicated. there's so much to learn.

and so little time.
Walt Whitman once said, "I see great things in baseball. It's our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us." You could look it up.

* * * * *

update: game one in the boy's baseball career is in the books. game-time conditions were wet and cold, with temps in the low 40s. but the boy still wouldn't wear his coat in the dugout.

his line was one hit in three at-bats, several pitches hit foul, one pop-up almost caught, one knee abrasion from sliding into first on a ground ball.

his team won, 7-4. it was magnificent.

Monday, March 19, 2007

i'm born again

it's in me.

the kool-aid, i mean. i have drunk deeply, and i proclaim to you that i believe in the bush administration.

my faith is strong. yea verily, it is born again (okay, for the first time), because condi asks it of me.

"be patient," she beseeches me. "for the sacrifice is worth it."

most importantly, sister condi insists, "we will start to know relatively soon whether the Iraqis are living up to their obligations."

how soon is soon? according to our great leader, "...the Baghdad security plan is still in its early stages and success will take months, not days or weeks."

okay, that doesn't seem particularly soonish.

but to whom much is given, much is expected. i don't know how this fabulous dogma applies here, but i like the sound of it.

y'all believe me, right? that i'm all born again in the church of george?

is anybody buying this?

sigh. yeah, me neither.

i guess i don't have whatever "it" is that enables such magnificent leaps of delusion...

it just ain't in me.

Monday, March 12, 2007

you're with us or you're with the asteroids

About 20,000 asteroids and comets orbiting close to our planet could deliver blows ranging from destroying cities to ending all life.

this is a funny, funny story. well, not the destroying cities part. or that "ending all life" thing. those would be bad. often i'm fuzzy on the whole good-bad thing, but there seems to be very little ambiguity in this case.

no, the funny part is, our government doesn't have a billion dollars to spare for tracking killer asteroids. as one rocket scientist put it, “Should one nation, the United States, be responsible for the entire planet?”
William Ailor of the Aerospace Corporation, a not-for-profit Air Force research group that sponsored the planetary defense conference, said the problem of finding killer asteroids could be solved more easily if more countries were involved. Interest is growing, he said, noting that the European Space Agency is considering a mission called Don Quijote to test ways to deflect an asteroid.
don quixote, as some might innocently observe, was disparaged for tilting at windmills. that analogy segueways into the existence of an actual industry devoted to tracking and deflecting imminent meteor strikes. they even have their own trade show:

The objective of the conference is to develop a white paper that assesses the current state of our ability to discover and track near-Earth objects (NEOs—objects that could possibly impact Earth) and our ability to successfully deflect a threatening object should one be detected.
and there, literally, is the money quote. it will be significantly more challenging to deflect a "threatening object" if it is detected only after striking the earth. it'll probably cost more, too.

but that is SOP for our "we hate government" government. global warming? no such thing. hurricane katrina? never heard of it. some schmoe in the middle east with a slingshot? here's $100 billion for a fun-filled year of wanton slaughter. yay, government!

meanwhile, there's an asteroid out there with the name of every earth inhabitant on it. can we detect it and deflect it? we don't know, because the price is just too high to find out.
Building a dedicated observatory for finding and tracking hazardous bodies and launching a spacecraft to observe the space around Earth would cost more than $1 billion that the agency does not have.
this plea is not addressed to republicans, who don't believe in science anyway. note to democrats: peel off a billion dollar bill and get busy...quick.

Friday, March 09, 2007

more than a feeling

"We've just lost the nicest guy in rock and roll."

that's all it says now on the official boston website.

because brad delp, lead singer of the 70s band, died today.

i used to think boston's music was pretty cool. i tried to sing along with delp, because as a kid i had some pretty good range. he went way past me into the stratosphere with those high notes. that's why he got the big money.

i had a girlfriend at the time who could really hit the high notes. make of that what you will. i'd sit there and listen, rapt, as her voice climbed, higher, higher...then we'd kiss a lot.

word was, back in the day, that delp was a relentless perfectionist. he'd mix and remix the band's tracks until they met his standards. his perfectionism allegedly kept the band from releasing new material, more material, any material. which i thought was a shame, as i recall. they had a couple more successful releases, but it always seemed like there shoulda been more.

in the summer of '78, i think it was, i played on a pretty good baseball team. we were state champions or some such thing. it seemed like a big deal at the time. on the way to games, a buddy of mine and i used to listen to an 8-track of boston's first album. it became kind of a soundtrack to the season, and it still brings back warm, summertime memories.

i used to think boston's music was aging well. then came the day i noticed, "damn, this music gets a lot of airtime."

now when i hear it, it'll seem like something's missing. something that was important to me, a long time ago.

* * * * *

update: turns out delp wasn't the stickler for detail in the band. that was guitarist and cofounder tom scholz. the band's first album sold 17 million copies, still the most-ever for a debut.