Saturday, March 14, 2020

I'm Not Working Today

I live in a north-Madisonville neighborhood of three parallel streets connected in a loop, with a little spur coming off its southern side that dead-ends at a grassy peninsula into Lake Peewee. I think the neighborhood on Google Maps sort of looks like a kite, with the spur being the tail.

Once or twice a day, I take our dog, Ella, around the neighborhood for a walk. Most of the time, I just do the outer loop--that's just short of a mile, but I round up to account for Ella's pulling me toward passing deer or into somebody's yard for sniffing updates.

The walks are a chore that I tend to resist and resent like any other chore, but they are also fun. And, on balance, I'm glad Ella takes me out on them. I often turn up the fun by listening to Tony Kornheiser's fantastic podcast or Jenna Fischer's and Angela Kinsley's different-fantastic Office Ladies. And I frequently play a simple and highly entertaining (to me) baseball game I made up with whatever old tennis or racquet ball I bring along for Ella to sometimes chase.

Here's how the game works:

-- I bounce the ball on the street--pretty hard, but not as hard as I possibly can (unless it's extra innings (more on that later)).

-- If I catch the ball without breaking stride, that's an out.

-- If I have to stop, slow or accelerate my pace to make a catch, that's a walk.

-- If I bobble the ball at all but still catch it, that's a one-base error.

-- If I fail to catch the ball (with or without bobble), that's a hit. The number of subsequent bounces before I secure the ball indicates the number of bases advanced (one bounce is a single; two or three, a double or single, and four or more, home run).

It's pretty easy to get in a full game in one loop around the neighborhood because the games are usually low scoring. This morning, for example, I started the 1974 World Series. Both Ken Holtzman and Andy Messersmith had no-hitters going through the fifth. The Dodgers singled in the sixth, and the A's singled and then had two on after an error (probably Bill Russell) in the bottom of the ninth. The game went to extra innings.

And now here's what I was wanting to say about how the game is played a little differently in extra innings: After nine innings, I make myself really smack that ball on the pavement. I honestly try to bounce it harder to make it a little tougher on both teams' defenses (even Oakland's, honestly). What I don't want to have happen is have some scoreless game go some ridiculous amount of innings that requires me and Ella to do an extra loop, because neither one of us has time or interest in that kind of foolishness.

But today I was starting to get a little worried about Game 1 of the 1974 World Series because we were getting pretty close back to home and not much at all had happened in the 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th or start of the 14th. My guess is that Alvin Dark went to Rollie Fingers in the 10th, and he pitched three or four innings before turning the ball over to John "Blue Moon" Odom.

With two out in the 14th, however, Jimmy Wynn just absolutely blasted a solo home run deep into center field, and the Dodgers were ecstatically ahead, 1-0. I imagined it was Doug Rau coming on to throw for Walt Alston in the bottom of the 14th, but I'm embarrassed to admit that I've subsequently learned Doug Rau did not pitch in the actual 1974 World Series. One would think this would not be much of a suspension-of-disbelief reach for someone capable of transforming Madisonville's little Lakeshore neighborhood into a packed and anxious Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in his mind, but one would be wrong.

Whatever, though, Doug Rau just absolutely mowed down the defending champs in the bottom of the 14th, and the Dodgers are suddenly on top of the 1974 World Series, one game to zilch. I've also subsequently learned that the 1974 World Series actually opened at Dodger Stadium, not in Oakland. But I'm already dealing with my Doug Rau disaster, so I'm just rolling with this one, too.

I am 51 years old!


  1. I taught my 11-year-old daughter today how to read and administer a prescription, and I feel like the greatest father in the world (present company excluded, of course).

  2. Here's a clip from the very first American Music Awards, in 1974. After Helen Reddy's performance, Roberta Flack (one of my favorites) comes on to present the award for favorite pop male vocalist, who explains that her "pleasure in giving this award is tempered by the recent passing of young Jim Croce, a brilliant and sensitive composer and singer who will be sorely missed by us all." Nominees are Croce, Elton John and Stevie Wonder (three other of my favorites), and Mrs. Jim Croce accepts the award to a very touching standing ovation as the orchestra strikes up "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown."

  3. I never was much for Queen, and here's an interesting hit of theirs that I've mostly never paid attention to. It's still not my thing, but it's definitely it's own interesting thing. I decided to give Queen more of a try after finally seeing that amazing Bohemian Rhapsody movie. The scene at the end where Freddie Mercury's father offers snacks to his son and his son's partner is one of the prettiest things I've ever seen in a movie.

  4. Thank you. The Dodgers won again yesterday, in Game 2, and again it was a Jim Wynn solo shot for a 1-0 victory. You might think that sounds made up, but it wasn't--it was the third batter on our walk that homered, and I looked it up when I got home and learned that Jim Wynn was Walt Alston's third batter in real Game 2. Don Sutton had some tough moments but pitched out of a bases-loaded-with-no-out jam in the sixth, and then Mike Marshall soaked out the fire after Sutton yielded a leadoff double to Jesus Alou in the bottom of the ninth.

  5. I don't mean to brag, but, so far, I've won both the Clue and Monopoly National Parks Edition games we've played in my house since things shut down in Madisonville last week. Also, the A's have rallied in Los Angeles to even my 1974 World Series: 2-1 in Game 3 and 2-0 in 16-inning Game 4.