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Showing posts from June, 2009

Burden to keep the Coyotes in town falls on you, me*

Note: This column appears in the 7/2 issue of The Glendale Star and the 7/3 issue of the Peoria Times

As the Phoenix Coyotes mess moves steadily along, I am reminded of a paradox that has always fascinated me.

Last week U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Redfield T. Baum (that is a name just begging for a daytime judge show) expressed that fans of the Phoenix Coyotes, if they want to keep their team here in Glendale, need to show their support with “their pocketbook and presence.”

Though I doubt the majority of hockey fans carry pocketbooks, this warning seems to place the blame for the Coyotes’ woes and the pressure to retain them squarely on the fans themselves.

And part of me agrees with this. As a little kid growing up in New Jersey, I was (and still am) a Yankees fan. (Sorry.) It may be difficult to remember now, but my formative years of baseball fandom involved rooting unconditionally for a team that was just not very good. Most of the games I watched on TV featured an array of available seats,…

Classic card of the week

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Ozzie Guillen, 1991 Score All-Star Team

Nothing says “I take my baseball card collecting seriously” quite like owning a cartoon picture of a bobble-headed Ozzie Guillen. This looks like something Ozzie had done at the Seaside boardwalk, after which he publically berated the artist and called him “a homo” for making his ears too big.

From a technical standpoint, this card leaves a bit to be desired. For one, I am trying to figure out the stadium that this game is being played at, which features no buildings or obstructions beyond the outfield seats. Also, the crowd looks like Fruity Pebbles floating in milk. I do however, enjoy the baserunner who appears to be covered in a force field of Saran Wrap, and who is either a) running the bases in reverse, or b) performing abdominal exercises.

But back to Ozzie:



Ozzie, who hustles and chatters all the time

Ozzie, who runs hard to first base on his frequent groundouts and who is also annoying…

had plenty to talk about in ’90.

Didn’t we all? The Hubbl…

A tale of two cities and their utility systems

Note: This column appears in the 6/25 issue of The Glendale Star and the 6/26 issue of the Peoria Times

Note II: If THAT title doesn't grab your attention, then nothing will

There are few things as exciting to discuss as utility bills. Nevertheless, two cities seem to be moving in opposite directions when it comes to energy efficiency and waste management.

It was revealed last week that the city of Glendale will be raising rates beginning in October, and that the typical family –- that is, the family that uses water and produces waste –- will pay around $86 more per year on their water and sewer bills.

The reason for the price hike is simple. The creator of water –- God –- has decided to charge the city of Glendale more to distribute His product, due to, ya’ know, the economy and all. Plus, sewage is gross and smells bad.

Besides these factors, most Glendale residents are confused and upset about the rate hike, especially those on a fixed income. At this vulnerable time, it seems as th…

"Ice, Ice Baby" explained III: The finale

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VERSE 3

For VERSE 1 explained, see here.

For VERSE 2 explained, see here.

Take heed, cause I’m a lyrical poet

Take heed, ye’ merry gentlemen. For I am a lyrical poet. I do not use other mediums for my poetry, such as paint, or steel, or birds, or whatever. I use words, or, in my case as it pertains to hip-hop specifically, lyrics. For example, earlier when I rhymed “bikinis” with “Lamborghinis,” that is what we in the literary field call: poetry.

Miami’s on the scene just in case you didn’t know it

Miami is on the hip-hop scene, thanks in large part to me, Vanilla Ice. I have made Miami proud.

My town, that created all the bass sound

As Wikipedia can attest: "Miami bass (also known as booty music or booty bass, a term that may also include other genres, such as dirty rap), is a type of hip hop music that became popular in the 1980s and 1990s." You can have your emotionally charged blues, Memphis -– I’ll take my booty bass and sexually perverse rap, thank you very much!

Enough to sh…

Classic card of the week

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Domingo Ramos, 1985 Topps

Domingo Ramos choked up sooooo much –- crowd: How much did he choke up??!! -- that the bat needed the Heimlich maneuver. Uncontrollable laughter, wild applause, standing ovation. Thank you, thank you very much!

I hope you enjoyed the Domingo Ramos comedy minute. But like, for serious Domingo -– what the heck are you hoping to accomplish here with this batting stance? Even if you were able to line up a 90-mph fastball right down broadway, there is 0% chance that ball will leave the yard, and a 3.7% chance that ball will leave the infield. Your only hope of actually reaching base safely is a swinging bunt and/or a throwing error. But if you do swing, that bat handle is going to hit you in the chest. Why don’t you just use a smaller bat, Domingo? Why are you so stubborn?

In 1996, Domingo Ramos was inducted into the 1980’s Light-Hitting Middle Infielders Who Are Known Only For Their Defense And Who, If Baseball Used Lineups of 32 Players Instead of Nine, Would Bat …

Local resources prevent foster parents from losing minds, wallets

Note: This column appears in the 6/18 issue of The Glendale Star and the 6/19 issue of the Peoria Times

Every day, it seems, we are discovering more and more about foster care. I have been amazed by the resources available to us.

No matter how many training classes you have taken, and no matter how prepared you think you are to be a foster parent, the fact of the matter is that one day a child –- or maybe two –- will arrive at your door, and then you will be left wondering what the heck you are supposed to do. By the time you are giving one child a breathing treatment while the other child is pooping in her pull-up in the corner and the dog is barking and the phone is ringing, it becomes that much more difficult to find the clarity to hearken back to your training days for guidance.

You feel like you’re on an island sometimes. And you’re always three seconds away from sending out a smoke signal.

But you do settle in. For us, it’s been during this settling in process that we have –- mainly…

"Ice, Ice Baby" explained II

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VERSE 2

For VERSE 1 explained, see here.

Now that the party is jumping

We are at a party now. And get ready because I am going to tell you what is about to happen because we are at a party that is jumping.

With the bass kicked in, the vegas are pumping

“Vegas” are speakers. They are pumping because the bass has kicked in. Also, as I had previously mentioned, the party we are at is jumping, in large part due to the fact that the speakers are pumping. Now get ready for what is about to happen as a result of these indisputable facts.

Quick to the point, to the point no fakin’

Okay, so nothing happened. But let’s move past that, because I would like to inform you of something: When I make a point, I am quick about it. I am to the point about making a point. Also, you can rest assured that I will not fake any point that I am trying to make, as that would defeat the purpose of the quickness with which I made said point. That’s the whole point.

I’m cooking MCs like a pound of bacon

If I am feeling p…

"Ice, Ice Baby" explained

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VERSE 1

All right stop, collaborate and listen

Everybody stop what you’re doing. Then find a partner and work on a project together that has yet to be determined. Then listen to me.

Ice is back

This is my first single.

With a brand new invention

This invention is called “horrible rap.” Take that, Benjamin Franklin. To the rest of you: you’re welcome.

Something grabs a hold of me tightly

Songs such as this one are not entirely my doing, but partly the result of an otherwordly force that urges me to rap about stuff.

Flow like a harpoon daily and nightly

The manner in which I rap “flows” similar to the flow of a harpoon, which is, according to Wikipedia, “a long spear like instrument used in fishing to catch fish or other large marine mammals such as whales.” I flow like this everyday. And also every night, which is different from the day. I do not sleep.

Will it ever stop? Yo, I don’t know

Sometimes I will ask myself a question and then immediately and condescendingly dismiss that question a…

Classic card of the week

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Eric Plunk, 1987 Donruss

I always thought that Eric Plunk had a funny name. Then this card came out and I realized that there was more comedic value to Eric Plunk than I had ever previously imagined.

Believe me I have been thinking about this for way longer than I ever should have, but nevertheless, this is what this card looks like to me: Wait, are you ready? Because here I go. Right now: This card looks like Dave Grohl was asked to star in “Dazed & Confused II.”

There. That is what I came up with. Did you like it? No? I hate you.

Anyhoo, back to Plunk’s name. Isn’t it funny? Plunk. As a kid I could never get over the fact that there was a pitcher named Plunk, and that if and when he inevitably hit a batter, I wondered how an announcer could possibly resist the urge to say “he plunked ‘em.” This was one of the reasons I always wished I could announce a baseball game.

Eric Plunks hits Mike Pagliarula with a pitch...

Me: (emphatically) He plunked ‘em!

Tim McCarver: On an 0-2 pitch, Plunk …

Three summers and melting

Note: This column appears in the 6/11 issue of The Glendale Star and the 6/12 issue of the Peoria Times

Somebody once told me that you can only be considered a true Arizonan once you’ve survived five summers. I am unsure if this is accurate –- both the number five and the term “true Arizonan” seem fairly arbitrary –- but I believe in this sentiment, mainly because I will believe anything anybody tells me if it sounds cool. This is called “journalism.” Look it up.

But this is only one of many, many clichés that pertain to the Arizona summer heat, which include, “it’s a dry heat,” “100 days of 100” and “it is so hot outside that I literally cannot breath.” The reality is that the summer here is hot, oftentimes unbearably hot. And in 2009, we’re just getting started.

I have been thinking about this recently as my wife and I are currently embarking on our third summer here. Judging by the aforementioned guidelines as it pertains to our quest to become true Arizonans, this would be our “hump…

Classic card of the week

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John Hope, 1994 Topps

Where were you when John Hope lost his bid for a no-hitter?

This is the question that every baseball fan of my generation –- “The Greatest Generation…of Baseball Card Collectors,” as we have been popularly referred to –- has been asked a million times, give or take. Personally, I was in the second hour of a marathon three-way phone conversation, in which I was trying to get Rachel to admit that she liked my friend Alex, who sat silently on the other line, unbeknownst to Rachel. Man, I was cool back then. Anyway, I distinctly remember my dad bursting into my bedroom and yelling, “Mike! Get downstairs! John Hope is working on a no-hitter! The game is not on television, but we’ll watch TV until the news comes on at 5 o’clock, and hope that they mention it during sports, even though the game is not local!” I could barely contain my excitement.

The results, however, were disheartening:



John’s hopes for a no-hitter were ruined on 9-16, when he had to leave his hitless game…

You can go home again…but hurry up

Note: This column appears in the 6/4 issue of The Glendale Star and the 6/5 issue of the Peoria Times

We decided to make a last-minute trip back east over Memorial Day weekend to see our families. We even brought along one of our foster kiddos. To say that this trip was amazing and well worth it is an understatement.

The major influence behind us returning home for a few days was that we discovered some of my wife’s relatives from Italy would be there for her cousin’s graduation. On top of that, this was also the weekend of an annual popular Jersey Shore road race that we used to take part in. You may recall that this was the race I collapsed at due to dehydration two years ago. Therefore, this trip served two purposes: 1) see the Italians, and 2) redemption.

First up was the graduation party, where we got to see my wife’s Italian relatives, henceforth known simply as “Italy.” Italy was indeed thrilled to see us. But it was our little one who stole the show, and who, due to all of the a…