February 2012

Pitchers and catchers are busy reporting to camps all over Florida and Arizona.

Lots has happened during the off-season — Bobby Valentine is now managing the Red Sox, Robin Ventura is managing the White Sox, Manny Ramirez has re-activated himself and will try to make the A’s roster, Brian Cashman’s wife is divorcing him because of a string of dalliances, and The Kid, Gary Carter, died from brain cancer at the age of 57.

I admired the way Carter played the game. I respected the way he lived his life, and I loved how he helped my favorite team win a World Series.  He wasn’t one of my all-time favorite Mets, but I am very, very saddened by his death. I was at his first game as a Met, when he won the game with a home run in extra innings.  His enthusiasm was infectious, and I never understood the way people ripped into him for loving life as much as he did.  He was sincere in his love for God, his family and his profession.  He played the game the right way, and a lot of today’s prima donna players could learn a lot from him.  He was way too young to go, and he will be missed.

Rest in peace Gary.

Downton Abbey paper dolls!

I cannot take credit for finding these.  A fellow denizen of the Republic of Pemberley called my attention to them.  I have two words: Bloody.  Brilliant.

Something else that is brilliant is Vulture’s episode-by-episode synopsis of the series.  Check it out — it’s not quite as funny as the one from the Telegraph, but it’s still highly entertaining.  Here is their take on the Christmas special.  I only need to add one thing — the author of DA is not “Sir Fellowes,” he’s “LORD Fellowes.”  One never uses “Sir” with a surname.  NEVER.  These people need to be added to the ever-growing list of writers who desperately need to check out Debrett’s.  The information is out there — USE IT.

But I digress.  Anyone in North America who has wanted to watch DA has now seen it in its entirety.  Even I, who have problems with the way PBS treats the material, could not resist watching it last night (despite the fact that I own the Region 2 DVDs), and Matthew’s proposal was as beautiful as I’d remembered. *sigh*

and the Super Bowl??  Or, rather, the “Super-Proper Bowl.”

I just found this at YouTube and simply had to pass it along.  It’s very clever.  Enjoy!

My friend Baboo was in town to play baseball with a group called “Play at the Plate.”  This offered me the opportunity to visit Pirate City, which houses the Florida headquarters of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.  I had passed by on more occasions than I can count, and have seen it transform from a scary-looking dump to a world-class operation worthy of being the headquarters of a major-league ball club. The weather was so much more pleasant than it was at Port St. Lucie last month, and a fine time was had by all, players and spectators alike.  And, speaking of Port St. Lucie, there were a lot of Mets fans at the tournament; there were 8 teams, and it looked as if each team had at least one man dressed in the blue-and-orange.

Here is the main entrance to the Pirate City complex:

The complex pays homage to 100+ years of Pirate history.  Pretty much everything is named for a famous Pirate.  Such as

Pie Traynor Field:

and Willie Stargell Field

and Roberto Clemente Field

and Honus Wagner Field

and Bill Mazeroski Field

My personal favorite was, of course the Ralph Kiner batting cage.  Here’s the sign:

and here is the best picture of the interior that I could get:

When I saw this, I thought that maybe they’d gone a bit overboard on the Pirates décor:

It’s a faucet in the ladies’ room next to the fields.

As for the games themselves, Baboo played for the appropriately named Pirates. The Pirates ended up being the oldest team in the entire tournament, and they finished smack in the middle — 4th of 8.

In case you don’t believe me that he is indeed called Baboo, here he is in his custom-made Mets BP jersey:

And here he is, on the mound in his Pirates gear:

As always, just click on the pictures to enlarge them.

After the tournament ended, every one went their separate ways, and I ended the day at my neighbors’ house watching the Super Bowl.  They are Patriots fans (as were most of the guests), and I was pulling for the Giants (there were a grand total of 3 guests who were rooting for the G-men).  But it was a great game, regardless of who you were rooting for.  We were all on the edge of our respective seats for the entire time.  This was one Super Bowl where the ads were not better than the game.

My most recent trip to the library was a disappointment. I took out 2 books for which I had high hopes, and brought both of them back unfinished. In fact, I barely got through 50 pages in each of them before bringing them back to the library.

First is The Lost History of the Canine Race: Our 15,000-Year Love Affair With Dogs by Mary Elizabeth Thurston.  I recently rented a documentary about dogs from Netflix, and Ms. Thurston was one of the interviewees.  I thought she had a lot of interesting things to say in the documentary, so I decided to take out the book.  Unfortunately, I did not find the book to be as interesting as the documentary.  I found it to be very dry and I quickly lost interest.  I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but this was not it.

Second was American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson.  This is another book I had high hopes for, but they were quickly dashed when I discovered that Ferguson’s primary means of getting laughs was through the almost non-stop bashing of George W. Bush.  The insults weren’t clever or original — they were merely gratuitous.  They also got really old really fast, so I put the book down after a chapter or two with no regrets.

Mom and I were at Books-a-Million the other week and I picked up the first 4 books in a mystery series I’d never heard of before.  The author is Rhys Bowen, and the books are in her Royal Spyness series.  The series focuses on Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie Rannoch, 34th in line to the British throne and totally penniless since her brother Binky, the Duke of Glen Garry and Rannoch, cut off her allowance because his dukedom isn’t worth quite as much money as it used to.  I just finished book 1, Her Royal Spyness, where “Georgie” finds a dead body in her family’s London home and sets out determined to prove that Binky didn’t kill him.  I suspected “whodunnit,” but I still found the book to be entertaining.  I am about to start Book 2, A Royal Pain.

I also just started a book I bought a while back, The Cello Suites, by Eric Siblin.  I love Bach and I love the cello, so I am really looking forward to this one.