Chin Music

by Rich on May 22, 2017

We are full on into baseball/softball season, and viewers and listeners across the fruited plain are being inundated with time-tested, well worn terms and phrases unique to the diamond. And since the game has been around since the early Paleozoic Era, there are plenty of them. Sure, football, basketball and hockey have their own particular vocabularies, but nothing is quite so rich as that vernacular particular to the ol’ ball game. In the interest of general education, public service and writer’s block, I thought today we might look at these terms and phrases and clear up their definitive meanings once and for all. Before we begin, it would be instructive to keep in mind that many of the following originated by 40 year old, mostly intoxicated, single guys, who developed them out of sheer boredom.

Let’s start with the basics: what’s with all the numbers getting thrown around? What is this? Summer school? It’s like every game you watch, your 8th grade math teacher is trying to sneak long division and decimal placements into the deal like your mom hiding peas in a mashed potato casserole. Turns out, most of the a-fore mentioned drunk single dudes where working under the misconception that women were into athletes not for their physical prowess, but their ability to generate stats. So there are a lot of numbers. For example, you might hear an announcer describe a double play as a “6-4-3” double play. These numbers mean nothing. As a matter of fact, this commonly used descriptor was coined by two sportswriters in 1933 who had a bet about when the first double play of the game would occur. The loser had to drink a 6 pack of beer, 4 shots of scotch, and smoke 3 cigarettes. The records from that particular game were lost, as none of those writers survived the 4th inning.

Then there are all the different pitches. Fastball and curve are easy. But what’s a “back door slider”? Sadly, it’s not a free hamburger that you get at the rear entrance of Billy’s Burger Barn if you know the secret password. No, this particular pitch refers to the infamous pitcher and Alcatraz veteran, Johnny “Five Fingers” Carpacio. Seems Johnny like to “slide” the good linens out the back door of the team hotels. This refers to a pitch that steals a strike from an unsuspecting hitter and sleeping umpire. There are tons of pitches like this.

Next, let’s look at some batting terminology. Every hit, every swing of the bat, has been given a colorful label that usually has nothing to do with what’s actually happening on the field. A few of the more common descriptors include, “seeing-eyed double” (from the same game as the “6-4-3”, this was just a radio mic left open when the announcer tried to tell his stats guy that he was so drunk, he was seeing double), “dying quail” (a ball tragically struck a pigeon, killing it instantly. No one knows where the whole quail thing came from. But this was in the 1890s, so we can assume reconstruction was to blame), and the ever popular “dinger”, a home run (from the classic 1904, forty-seven inning classic between the Duluth Sledge Hammers and the Springfield School Bells. I’ll let you figure it out).

Really, we could be here all day, as I have just barely scratched the surface. All you need to know is that most of what you hear is made up junk that makes old guys feel important. And helps them make it to happy hour.

Now, PLAY BALL! (Or bottoms up, cheers…whatever…)

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The OG Soccer Mom.

by Rich on May 14, 2017

It’s Mother’s Day, and since almost everyone has a mother or at least knows someone who does, I think it appropriate to take a moment to talk about them.

What is the deal with moms? Seriously? Have you seen these people? They are completely insane! Especially the so called “Soccer Moms”.

Ok, Ok, I kid. But only sort of, and not in the way you think. Soccer moms ARE crazy precisely because they ARE soccer moms.

Here’s the thing…

First, let’s get this out of the way…the term “Soccer Mom” has become some derogatory description that has been used to paint with a broad brush those women who have forgone a career to raise children, implying some kind of lazy, pampered, “let’s get brunch at Maurice’s before our mani-pedi today because I have to get Tyler to soccer practice before I meet Courtney for margaritas” lifestyle. And that’s just factually inaccurate. Or at least incredibly rare.

Second, sports moms have been around forever, predating the boom in youth soccer. They were Little League moms when I was growing up. Now they are also lacrosse moms, gymnastics moms, cross country moms, pee-wee football moms, dance moms, band moms, swim moms, softball moms, and countless other youth sports activities. And they all have one thing in common: they love their kids enough to be bored/hot/hungry/tired/haggard/angry/late/unkempt/broke just so their child(ren) can play games that they love. Even when they know that after that hour and a half practice that was only supposed to be one hour, they will not have time to get the chicken thawed and in the oven in time for dinner to be ready to eat before kid #2 has to be at his/her game/meet/event. They still do it.

My mom did it. Peggy did it. I don’t know how, but she did. Took me to soccer and watched in horror as our coach told us to go roll in a mud puddle before the game so we wouldn’t be worried about getting our unis dirty, knowing full well that she was going to have wash that *%^&% out (my words, not mom’s. Mom would say “mess” and it would come out sounding like sweet syrup because she’s Ms. McCabe’s granddaughter and wouldn’t be caught dead using foul language. True story: the only time my mother ever struck me was the time my 16 yr old self had the unmitigated temerity to say the word “crap” to her face. And I deserved it. But I digress.)

Mom also took me to wrestling, picked me up from my one year of basketball, my multiple years of baseball and that one unfortunate season of Jr High football. And I never once heard her complain. Not once. She gave rides to other kids too. She sat and watched practices and games that I’m sure she cared nothing about. She didn’t yell at me to try harder or become belligerent with other parents, coaches or officials. She told me how great I was, even when I wasn’t. She washed that mess out of my uniforms and made sure I had my glove before we got in the car. She did all of that. And still found time to keep an immaculate house, cook meals for us, get the household shopping done, and make sure that I actually bathed once in a while. And she did it because she loved me. That’s the whole reason.

So, this Mother’s Day, I want to say a public thanks to my mom, the OG Soccer Mom, who must me crazy. But then, love will do that to you.

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Birthdays And Shotguns

May 12, 2017

My son is awesome. Let’s just start there. I like to think of him as a younger version of myself, but honestly, that’s short changing him. He’s so much smarter and mature than I was at his age. This is the story of his 17th birthday and how blessed I am to be his dad. […]

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Life: Unplugged

May 8, 2017

I love technology. Really, I do. I love the fact that I can watch a baseball game, live, on my phone, from almost anywhere (results may vary depending on your provider). I love that with a touch of my thumb on a screen the size of a deck of cards, I can instantly find out […]

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PFGD (BWAHAHAHAHA!!)

May 1, 2017

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s diabolical (or genius) Plan For Global Domination (PFGD) continued this past week and weekend with the 192 hour (exaggeration), wall to wall, gavel to gavel coverage of the National Football League’s Three Ring Circus and Ouija Board Séance known as the 2017 NFL Draft. As PFGDs go, Goodell’s is pretty all-encompassing. […]

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The Sports Dream

April 24, 2017

I’ve noted here before (much to the surprise of you, the reader, I suspect), that I actually did attempt to play sports when I was young. I throw in the “attempt” qualifier, because, well, I just wasn’t very good at them. I’m still not. Just ask anyone who plays around of golf with me. But […]

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Just Move, Baby! Just Move!

April 17, 2017

So the Raiders are moving to Las Vegas, and to quote a movie that (full disclosure) I have never seen, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” (sidebar: I have tried on multiple occasions to watch Gone With The Wind and can never get through more than about 20 minutes without either falling asleep […]

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A Tradition Like…

April 10, 2017

It’s Masters weekend at Augusta National and I can’t but be glued to my TV. I know it’s cliche’, but it really is a tradition like no other…tradition (I have that part so I don’t get in trouble with Billy Payne). There are a few golf courses around the world that people recognize, even if […]

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Boxes And Bags

April 6, 2017

While it’s true that we all fear change (we do, don’t we? We all agree on that, right?), there is something exciting about new beginnings. I’m moving. Well, not really “I”. The company I work for is moving. Not far, mind you. Maybe 7 or 8 miles by car. 2 or 3 as the crow […]

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The Sports Bridge

April 3, 2017

If cave paintings and hieroglyphics are any indication, sports have been with us for a while. Not like, “Oh, you know Josie, she’s had the hots for Eustice for a while.” But more like, “There have been oceans on the planet Earth for a while.” Some experts estimate that sports have been around for over […]

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