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Showing posts from September, 2011

America, heck yeah!

Here is an actual phone call conversation that I had at work yesterday. It works better if, in your head, you speak the “Him” lines in a slow, laboring, Southwest-country drawl.

Me: This is Mike …

Him: Yeah, you the main writer over there?

Me: Are you looking for the editor?

Him: Huh?

Me: The editor. Are you looking to speak with the editor?

Him: I don’t (grumbles) … What’s his name?

Me: Her name is Carolyn.

Him: Well you tell him, I wanna know what “Hispanic” means.

Me: I’m sorry?

Him: I wanna know what “Hispanic” means.

Me: No, I heard you. I mean, what are you talking about? Are you being serious right now?

Him: Welp, ya'll guys did an article here (flipping through papers; I imagine he is licking his fingers as he does so) on some kind of “Hispanic” breakfast, and I wanna know what “Hispanic” means.

Me: Alright, I’m not really liking the tone of this conversation or where it’s going. But I’ll bite—do you honestly not know what the term Hispanic means?

Him: (grumbles) I wanna know what “Hisp…

Classic card of the week

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Benny Distefano, 1987 Topps

Benny Distefano—you are not going to believe this—is from Brooklyn. I know, crazy, right? Breathe that one in. I’ll give you a second.

(In the meantime, I have a theory about life that goes like this: Everyone is from Brooklyn. It’s a pretty self-explanatory theory, based on years of being married to an Italian from Brooklyn and, as a result, finding common ground with many, many others who are also from Brooklyn. It’s such a fail proof theory that there’s not even a question of whether or not someone’s from Brooklyn—only where in Brooklyn. Seriously, take anyone. Off the top of my head … Michael Jordan. From North Carolina, right? Nope—Brooklyn. How about … Mikhail Gorbachev? Brooklyn, originally. I could go on, but the point is that every single person who exists is from Brooklyn. It’s the great common denominator. Really, try it next time you meet someone. I think you’ll be surprised at the results.)

So far, we have discussed nothing about Benny Distefano’s…

The fertile, magic garden of brilliance

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Note: This column appears in the 9/29 issue of The Glendale Star and the 9/30 issue of the Peoria Times

I have done a lot of dumb things around the house. I don’t like to brag, but it’s kind of my thing.

I’ve put stuff together backwards. I once wiped down our stainless steel refrigerator with a damp paper towel almost immediately after my wife told me not to do exactly that. I have placed items on the ledge of our upstairs hallway, thinking to myself, “I really shouldn’t put this here,” and then knocked it off the ledge later after forgetting it was there.

I have spilled water on our laptop computer. I’ve hung pictures on the wall that have fallen down in the middle of the night and scared us half to death. Last year, while putting up Christmas lights and assuring my wife I’d be careful, I carried our ladder out of the garage, but it got caught in the hanging garage door string and caused the unhinged garage door to slam down with the force of a hundred stampeding horses, right in fron…

Classic card of the week

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Rob Maurer, 1991 Upper Deck

I don’t know anything about Rob Maurer, but dare I say he’s got a look in his eyes that reminds me of … I can’t even say it! Am I going crazy???!!!????!!!!????!!!!



Maurer is following in the footsteps of another hot-hitting first-baseman from Evansville, IN,

omg, omg, OMG!

the Yankees’ Don Mattingly.

Rob Maurer grew up in the same town, and played the same sport, and the same position within that sport, and made it to the same Major Leagues. Coincidence? More like the movie, “Single White Female,” if you ask me. Except it’s like, “Single White Female Part II: Married White Male: Footsteps to the Majors.” Wait, was Rob Maurer married? I don’t know. Probably. To Don Mattingly’s wife! What? This is crazy. I am scared. Is Mattingly okay? Has anyone heard from him lately? This reminds me of that movie, “The Talented Mr. Mattingly.”

“Don gave everybody in Evansville something to look up to,” Maurer said. “He gave everybody the idea they had a chance.”

“Follow Me Out Da …

Common decency, attentiveness not playground philosophies

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Note: This column appears in the 9/22 issue of The Glendale Star and the 9/23 issue of the Peoria Times

One of the less-than-fortunate side effects of having a child of your own is being forced to deal with that most unpredictable and confounding of creatures—other people’s children.

I took our 2-year old daughter to the playground last week, where a bunch of kids—all of them older than her—were already playing. On a nearby bench sat three moms, watching the children with the intensity of a hawk that is blind and flies into things. I couldn’t help but overhear portions of their conversation, and let’s just say I was surprised the playground wasn’t surround by ancient Greek columns. She said what? Puh-lease!

Anyway, our daughter loves older kids. She wants to do everything they’re doing. She instantly began climbing the parts of the playground the older kids had traversed, and looked at me for approval. Then she attempted to break the ice with an excited, “Hi!” to one of the older girls, …

Classic card of the week

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Dante Bichette, 1996 Upper Deck

Yo, yo, yo, Melly-Mel, wussup, wussup, wussup, it’s Dante … Bichette, foo! Whatchu think? Stop playin’ … Not much, just sitting here, trying to avoid BP, ya’ know, the ushe … Whatchu mean, ‘How’m I talkin’ right now?’ Ever heard of a cellular phone? Get with the times, bro. Whatchu on a landline or some shizz? Gettin’ wrapped around a curly cord? You crazy. This thing is as mobile as it gets. You should see it—it’s sleek as hell, yo. Only thing is, it’s got all types of invisible, dangerous laser rays popping out of it in all directions. Technology, ya’ know? That’s why I’m wearing my batting gloves and helmet, just to be safe. Anyway, wussup witchu? … THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT! I’m trying to get this day game over with, son! What time are we meeting? … Eight!? What are you like, a grandpa or something? Club don’t get bumpin’ till 10, at least. Besides, I gotta shower and fluff the mull. Takes time, bro. Make it nine. Compro-miz-ize. We’ll do din-din…

Riding high

An edited version of this column appears in the 9/15 issue of The Glendale Star and the 9/16 issue of the Peoria Times

My wife’s cousin moved from New Jersey to Arizona and is staying with us. She is a smaller, female version of my father-in-law. From Italy to the States without even knowing the language, yet acclimating oneself immediately thanks to an unflagging work ethic, ambition, and dynamic and engaging personality, is a story they both share.

It never ceases to amaze us how easily and seamlessly each of them can strike up a friendship with a complete stranger, especially my wife’s cousin; my father-in-law has become at least mildly jaded by the Brooklyn degenerates he deals with on a daily basis. Having lived here for over four years now, we find it increasingly difficult to coerce our own neighbors to wave back. They, on the other hand, are constantly making connections on our own territory, which, for us, is both a marvel and an embarrassment.

In fact, my wife’s cousin had vis…

Classic card of the week

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Jose Oquendo, 1991 Topps

Some baseball players are good at hitting home runs. Some baseball players are good at pitching. Some baseball players are good at playing defense. Some baseball players are good at stealing bases and running fast around the bases and stuff. Some baseball players are good at doing baseball-related things that are intangible and that transcend definition, like clapping and screaming, “Go get ‘em, Charlie!” Some baseball players—and this is the most important quality a baseball player can have—are good at getting to the ballpark before other baseball players.



Jose is regularly the first player at park for game.

Which game, you ask? Every game, I think. For baseball.

Ozzie Smith: Jogs onto field at 5:07 for 7:05 game …

Jose Oquendo: Slept on the field from the previous night in full uniform, been taking grounders since 10:15 a.m. … Glad you could join us, Ozzenthal. Rolls eyes in direction of coaches …

Ozzie Smith: Sorry I’m late, fellas. My kid got sick and we had to …

A part of this

Note: This column appears in the 9/8 issue of The Glendale Star and the 9/9 issue of the Peoria Times

Everyone has his September 11th story, and many of those stories are, to this country’s great misfortune, infinitely more dramatic and heartbreaking than my own. Nevertheless, 10 years passed is a decent time for all to reflect, and so I will.

I was working in customer service at a healthcare products company in New Jersey on September 11, 2001. After everything went down, it was decided that, because our company serviced virtually every nearby New York City hospital, it would be required for some employees to volunteer to work overnight, and field the expected flood of phone calls. After the confusion, fear, and helpless feelings brought on by the day’s events slightly faded, then morphed into an urging to be a part of this, to help out, I volunteered.

I worked throughout the night, only in that I was physically at work. No phone calls came, except one, requesting only body bags.

With no…

When raiding a suspected cockfighting home with Steven Seagal and a tank goes wrong

If you've ever wondered what would happen if Steven Seagal and Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio combined forces to raid the home of a cockfighting -- totally Arizona's biggest problem right now -- suspect with a tank, wonder no more.

“If my deputies—or posse man Seagal for that matter—had done something so awful like shooting a family dog, then where are the photos to prove it?” -- Sheriff Joe Arpaio
He asked this question while discreetly placing several glossy, color documents into a shredder labeled, "Evidence?" Seriously though. Where are the photos? Where. Are. The. Photos. Everything has photos.

Hat tip to the great Don Dykstra.

*Alternate title: "Out of the way animals *gunshot* -- we're trying to save animals!"

Classic card of the week

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Jeff Juden, 1991 Upper Deck

Jeff Juden discussion begins … now!



Jeff was Houston’s first round draft selection in June, 1989 from Salem High School.

Wikipedia, would you like to expand on this?

He is in the discussion of being one of the best high school pitchers in Mass history.. pitcher at Salem High School.

No period to abbreviate Mass., two periods at end of sentence, followed by part of a phrase that belongs God knows where … just when I think I can’t love Wikipedia any more, I read another Wikipedia page. Anyhoo, the point is that Jeff Juden is in the discussion of “best high school pitchers in Massachusetts history,” and that is a discussion I would like to have, if it were up to me, every single day.

The Astros expected to take it slow with Jeff, but his performance for Osceola dictated an early promotion to Double-A.

Astros Exec. 1: Tell me about Juden, Charlie, and remember that we as an organization are fully expecting to take it slow with him, as he is our No. 1 draft pick an…