Free-Floating Hostility

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Hostylefax: I am Very Busy and Important

Here's a quick update from me. I've been on the road for awhile.

I spent half a day Wednesday in Orange County at media day for the conference the schools I cover will join next year. One-day trips carry a special resonance for me. Fritz used to take them all the time from Detroit to Washington, to do various things. So to catch the early flight down and still get to sleep in your own bed feels like a thin slice of heaven. The awkward part is that representatives of the two NorCal schools in the league were doing the same thing. So you're on a plane, but you're not really on duty yet. So my preference is to leave people alone. The format of media day resembles a speed date. The coaches and players sit a table, and you have 45 minutes to talk to any and all of them. The contrivance of the whole thing gets to you a while. I had two problems. I covered the women's basketball team last year, so during those sessions, I had an excellent idea of the continuing story lines. During the men's segment, I just sat quietly and tried to ask follow-ups. Mostly I was just embarassed by my own silence.

Then I spent the weekend in South Dakota. The trip went through Salt Lake City again, but Delta's subcontracter made up for the previous trip. I found that Sioux Falls is not nearly when you don't have a hard-drinking other newspaper guy to show you around. I watched the demise of the Detroit Tigers at a Buffalo Wild Wings, surrounded by a peewee football team that was celebrating something or other. It was a sad defeat, but certainly well deserved. I don't have a championship fetish, in that I still think Detroit's roster was much better top to bottom, but a competition is competition. The game was about 50 miles north, and there is basically nothing along the plains as you go north. The setting of the game was about 43 miles from the Laura Ingalls Wilder home, which is sort of interesting if you're into that sort of thing. I ate entirely too much at dinner at a place called Granite City, which I recommend to anyone. But mostly I spent my down time hiding out in my hotel room.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Collateral Damage

Sometimes you can tell a trend is on its way out, by seeing an article in the newspaper. Google's purchase of YouTube has already rocked my world. Following Tottenham's 2-0 win over a Turkish side in the UEFA Cup on Thursday, I went to a particular YouTube page to see video of the goals (seeing a Spurs goal this year is a rare sight indeed). But the guy who regularly posted the daily soccer highlights from English television has had his user account suspended. With most soccer clubs charging for video content, this has thrown a huge wrench in my plans to follow the sport this season. How frustrating.

1 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at October 26, 2006 8:55 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • FYI, maybe I should be managing the Tigers. From Rotoword

    Placido Polanco-2B- Tigers Oct. 26 - 8:59 am et

    Manager Jim Leyland tweaked his lineup for the rained-out Game 4, dropping the struggling Placido Polanco from third to seventh.
    "I think every once in awhile you post the lineup," Leyland said, "and it looks different and everybody kind of looks back and takes it in, and once in awhile you hope just something like that maybe shakes things up." Leyland put Craig Monroe and Carlos Guillen at two and three, hoping they could set the table for clean-up hitter Magglio Ordonez. We'll have to wait until Thursday night to see if these changes can shake Detroit out of its offensive slumber.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Neil Simon's Got Nothing on this Act

The following dialogue took place as Anna checked her email tonight:

Mike: This is going to be a problem if we have boys.

Anna: What is?

Mike: Once they turn seven they're going to have a more sophisticated sense of humor than their father.

Anna: It's going to be a problem sooner if we have girls.

Mike: Yeah, but they won't be trying to kill me.

Anna: Guess not.

Mike: I have the humor of a two-year-old.

Anna is silent

Mike: I do.

Anna is silent.

Mike is silent.

Anna is silent.

Mike: (chuckles).

Anna is silent.

Mike: Poop. (chuckles again, glances "slyly" at Anna)

Anna is silent.

Mike tries unsuccessfully to fight off a grin.


Mike:(innocently) What?

Anna: It's not that you said Poop. (Mike resumes chuckling) It's that you didn't even say it cause you were trying to force a reaction out of me. You said it to crack yourself up. AND IT WORKED!

Mike: I dunno. I'd say your reaction's pretty funny.

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

It's all Terribly Exciting

Last night around 10:30 p.m., or roughly the 20th time we heard a shrieking Detroit radio broadcaster call Magglio Ordonez's ALCS-clinching home run, Anna looked at me and asked me something to the effect of "Are you sick of that yet?" The answer, unsurprisingly, is no. I have spent the last 23 hours or so trying to put this all into words. The Detroit Tigers are going to the World Series, which is off the charts insane.

The Tigers were the first sports team I ever loved (Fritz explains: I used to take Michael to the Detroit Youth Theater, tickets were $4 each and it lasted an hour. Then I realized I could take him to sit in the bleachers, tickets were $4, but Michael didn't reach the ticket window, so he got in for only $1. I could park for free in the amalgamated something-or-other lot, we were outside in the sun, it lasted three hours and they served beer. It seemed obvious). We usually sat in the bleachers of Tiger Stadium, where I picked up the most colorful language -- Drunken Fan: Ump, yer' an asshole, Me: Daddy, what's a gashole? -- and started to learn about a game I now write about professionally. Later I attended Eugene V. Debs Memorial Kazoo Night, where all the Detroit lefties got together and played old labor songs on Kazoos. And around the end of high school I would insist on taking suburban types to watch games in bleachers, just to make them be in the city, which wasn't always an easy thing to do during my teenage years. The team still competing in that rickety old place symbolized something for me that I haven't quite been able to put my finger on. My last game at Tiger Stadium was with Fritz, just before I left for my sophomore year at college. He bought me a beer. Full circle.

But they were always terrible. I mean, I went to my first game ever in the last World Series season (1984). It was a doubleheader with California and the Tigers, of course, lost both games. The only winning moment I witnessed was being there for the middle game of a three-game series against Toronto on the last weekend of the Jays' epic collapse in 1987. We sat in front of three Blue Jay fans, and were pelted with stuff when those fans started to cheer. A legendary Detroit figure called "The Brau" was there to lead cheers. I even suggested one, "Boo Blue." I was old enough to understand then what was going on.

Since that day, I've seen them lose 100 games four times, including 119 in 2003. I've also seen them flirt with respectablity, only to fall back into the much. Detroit Joel and I used to attend games at the new park during our summers off from college, just because. We'd go to whole series together, which meant we saw tons of the KC Royals, passing the days talking ball. These single days turned into road trips to Chicago (sitting two through days in broiling heat at Wrigley) and Cleveland (sitting in front of the guy who beats the drum). This is how baseball fandom is lived, these little snapshots against the perpetual game.

I have unsure about to react to the Tigers all year.

My work has changed me in a lot of ways. The biggest difference is I have a hard time cheering in public these days. I'm just too self-conscious about it. Friday's game was the first this postseason that I had watched all the way though. I did it in private, hidden away in my house, yelling at fly balls to "get out" and bloopers to "get down." I didn't realize, I think, just how much I wanted Detroit to win.

But I can only express that in private. As much as I've wished I could be in the Comerica Park stands for these postseason games, part of me wonders if I could handle spontaneous hugs from fat dudes and high fives all around. Sports teams, even the teams I love, are now the other. I've tried to start saying "We" when discussing the Tigers, and have found that the word feels wrong on my tongue. I do enjoy watching the exuberance of this team, and believe that this group is probably a pretty solid collection of guys. And it has been great to watch Detroiters celebrate in the stands. Even though I haven't lived in Detroit full-time since 1998, it's still where I'm from, and always will be. After the Tigers bounced the Yankees, Anna asked me if I was happy. I told her, I was happy for the city, for the fact that there would be at least one more week of outside money coming into downtown. "What are you, a beauty pagent contestent?" she asked.

When I cheer for the Tigers, I'm rooting all the other stuff, the days I spent with other people at games or talking about the team. It's my memories, like cutting school for the final opening day at the old park and ending up sitting atop a bus with group of firefighters from Chatham, Ontario. I have written before that I am a sucker for place, that the mere hint of geographic familiarity tends to send me off on Proustian rants. Ballparks do that for me. And more often then not, the Detroit Tigers were there. How could I get tired of that?

1 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at October 15, 2006 8:31 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Modest corrections. The bleachers were $3.50. The kid stayed in the picture for free.

    By the way, Fritz's favorite team in baseball is whomever is playing the Yankees. His second favorite is whomever is playing the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Tigers have passed the Mets for third. Although, if there were interleague, and a Mets win would advance them, and the Tigers were doing nothing, Fritz would root for Mets...Fifth is the Red Sox.

    Fritz has not much negative energy for other sports, other than a strong rooting interest in whomever is playhing the Dallas Cowboys.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Hostylefax: Central Coast

This weekend's game offered a rare thrill, a driving trip, which meant a game I could bring Anna too. We were planning to do that anywhere. But there was an added bonus, Scott and Rachel were attending a wedding that weekend in nearby Santa Barbara. So to sum up: A weekend with Anna in a hotel paid for by my newspaper, Six hours with friends and a chance to be on the Central Coast. It all adds up to excellent. We arrived in San Luis Obispo on Friday, taking the long way down 101, though e.coli, err, spinach country. It was a long day, and we crapped out, eating cheap-o burritos at a nearby taqueria.

We met up with Scott and Rachel in the parking of lot of a Margie's in South SLO. Everyone knows about In-and-Out, but if you ever find yourself with the chance, Margie's is an essential stop. The plates are enormous, but they've actually heard of fresh fruit and vegetables. So if you order a mushroom omelette, you get that, only the mushrooms are fresh and there are about a pound of them. Scott was exhausted from spending the night in a strip club (bachelor party). But he fought through his exhaustion in typical Scott fashion. After breakfast, we drove up CA-1 to Morro Bay. Unfortunately, we encounted a street fair, which hindered our access to the beach. Luckily we battled through that. The beach includes Morro Rock, which is stunning in person. This picture doesn't do it justice. We returned to downtown SLO afterward, enjoying a relaxing day of window shopping and sitting around by the mission gossiping about our friends. We parted ways when work beckoned.

Sunday was spent driving. We passed the site of James Dean's death in Cholame, but didn't stop at the monument. Anna slept through the part where we passed all the dairy farms.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006


Someone invited the head of The Minutemen to speak at Columbia. That wasn't a good idea.

4 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at October 05, 2006 10:20 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • We must fight fire with fire. If they disrupt our speeches, we must disrupt their speeches. Armies did not stop using land mines until their opponents started to use land mines. The only way to stop them, is to teach these people a lesson. Protest the next event held by these groups: the Chicano Caucus, College Democrats, International Socialist Party, African American Student group.

  •   Posted by Blogger Unknown at October 05, 2006 10:58 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Wow. I think someone misunderstood where I was coming from.

  •   Posted by Blogger Form at October 06, 2006 5:11 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I think this bit of Spectator reporting from the articles was cute, "Student protestors said that the demonstration was meant to be peaceful, but when students with the Republicans and other Gilchrist supporters came on stage, the confrontation turned violent."

  •   Posted by Blogger jess at October 10, 2006 2:03 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Thanks Anonymous. Nobody on that side ever thought about being violent and intransigent before.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Game 1: Derek Jeter is a Magnificent Bastard

I'm going to try and keep up with the baseball postseason, although my work schedule won't really allow for that. Today, however, I rudely walked out of a schmooze opportunity around work to get back to my television for tonight's Game 1. I don't know how you Boston fans out there deal with all this postseason stuff. One game in, and I'm spent from the tension. Maybe I just need to build up some stamina. The Tigers have a chance to be pretty good for the next few years, which could help me with that.

I don't expect Detroit to win this series, but I can't help but be encouraged after tonight's 8-4 loss.

Here's why: New York's five-run third started thanks to a missed routine play by Detroit pitcher Nate Robertson. It's insurance runs in the sixth were six inches from being an inning-ending ground out. Beyond Rivera, no one in the Yankee bullpen is at all scary. Even down 7-4, the Tigers brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh against that bullpen. And really, I'm interested to read the rationale for the inexplicable decision to pull Wang in the seventh, which gave the Tigers a chance to get back in the game. Also, the chances of Derek Jeter going 5-for-5 again this series are fairly long.

6 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at October 04, 2006 2:56 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • You can explain away almost anything. I am sure Leyland has a good explanation for batting his best hitter 5th (Guillen) and arguably his worst hitter 3rd (Casey). He probably has a good explanation for not including a better first baseball (Shelton) than Casey on his post-season roster. However, I don't think even he can justify having Neifi Perez on his team!

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at October 05, 2006 6:42 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • The Yankee bullpen is sketchy. Torre has a tendency to go to two (maybe three) relievers all the time, and Proctor has been one of those guys this year. Sooner or later that tactic will backfire. I also thought it was interesting that Torre brought in Rivera in a non-save situation. Was he trying to scare the Tigers? Did Mariano need the work? I know he promised not to use Rivera in the 8th, but dude--using him in a non-save situation at the beginning of the series could amount to the same thing, depending on what happens later in the week.

    Mike, my tactic for dealing with the playoffs sounds a lot like yours. I tell everyone I know I'll see them again when baseball is over, and then I go and cower in my room next to the radio (I can't watch the really close games on TV).

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at October 05, 2006 7:08 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • But he pinky-swore! I think that is legal binding.

  •   Posted by Blogger Unknown at October 05, 2006 8:01 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Dude, Shelton is a below-average defensive first basemen who hasn't hit a major league curveball in four months. I can't explain Neifi Perez.

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at October 05, 2006 11:03 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Defensive first baseman? Where is Mientkiewicz when you need him? Oh, that's right, he's on the worst franchise of the 21st century. Anywho, all I am saying is that Tigers have an uphill battle with their lineup/roster construction that doesn't have to be there.

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at October 05, 2006 10:58 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Derek Jeter is in no sense a bastard. He is a prince of a man, and you know it. Sour grapes.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Take your Mother to School Day '06

Trixie's back in town, and since I spend most of my day in Berkeley, she agreed to come with me and spend another day auditing my classes. Last year, she found the experience sort of interesting. She thought she followed most of the lectures, and when she couldn't that in itself was kind of gratifying because it allows her to say to herself "Hey, look what I made!" I took her around with me on my various morning errands, to work, to a study group that failed to materialize, and then to the computer lab, where I introduced her to the Cookie Man. She was uncharacteristically mellow with him. I thought it she was off her game because she had a cold, but I later learned that she was had been distracted because she was mentally compiling a list of people to fix him up with. Typhoid Yente rides again.

Given last year's episode with the gum and with the ogling of my professors, I decided to prep Mom before taking her to my noon lecture. I checked that her phone was turned off. I made her promise not to unwrap anything. I figured we were alright. About twenty minutes into the lecture, I noticed my professor staring at the seat next to mine with a peculiar expression. I looked over and saw that Trixie had donned sunglasses and decided to take a little nap in the third row. She apparently felt that shades were a good cover. Mariana, one of my classmates who was seated on the other side of Trixie, later said it was reminiscent of the episode of The Simpsons where Homer tries to hide behind glasses with open eyes painted on them while serving on a jury. I haven't seen it.

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  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at October 03, 2006 12:00 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Several of us went to Yom Kippur services Sunday Night and Monday Morning. Union Temple is "high church reform" in setting, a grand sanctuary where Fritz and his brother were bar mitzvah. They make you stand up frequently, even for long periods.

    Nevertheless, there were times when each of us fell asleep during the service. Indeed, once Fritz dropped his prayer book [which actually, Fritz never read from, so it was a sin without a benefit.] Queenie claimed that at one point the Rabbi was either asleep or resting her eyes.

    Three hours to get to the homily is really too many hours.


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