December 13, 2000
Like many other baseball fans, I had to sit down when I heard that Alex Rodriguez had signed a 10 year contract worth in excess of $252 million. At first I thought the announcers had somehow misplaced a decimal point somewhere but no, they repeated the news several times with the same result. I immediately changed the station to ESPN where they were to hold a press conference announcing the signing of A-Rod. I had to hear that. After all, I had believed Alex when he said it wasn’t about the money. He wanted the chance to win a championship. Surely he could explain why he went to the Texas Rangers who have no pitching whatsoever. So the press conference began. First we heard from Tom Hicks the owner of the Rangers who stated this contract was probably even undervalued. My mind was numb at that quote. Next came Doug Melvin the General Manager who claimed that A-Rod would be a dominating force in baseball for the foreseeable future and that this deal would be looked upon as a bargain in the coming years. Melvin was followed by Rodriguez’s agent Scott Boras who claimed that the deal was lower than what they wanted but A-Rod felt this was the right move regardless of the money. Then the press conference ended. It ended? Where was A-Rod? Oh, he wasn’t in Texas at the time, he would be there in a few days. The guy signs a $252 million contract and he isn’t even there? I began to contemplate the contract and tried to understand why Alex wasn’t there. Then I came to the conclusion, he doesn’t have time to attend these types of functions.
Continue reading ‘Hey Buddy, Can You Spare a Quarter Billion?’ »
December 12, 2000
I will eternally be indebted to my Grandpa Olsen. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve times I spend with him. He as a simple man, a man who worked with his hands as a carpenter. I remember watching him work, my eyes filled with wonder as he constructed things with his tools taking a pile of wood and hardware and magically creating order and structure. As I talked with him, I soon realized he was a brilliant thinker. At a time when education was at a premium, he excelled. It quickly became apparent that he needed more of a challenge than what the teacher was able to provide. He was therefore accelerated to another grade and thrived in that environment as well. The one aspect of my grandfather that defined him as a man was his outdoor spirit. From the moment I was old enough to remember, grandma and grandpa would take me camping, fishing, and hunting. His favorite destination was always Yellowstone park. We would make a trip through the park each spring as soon as the snow had melted. He knew more about this area than anyone I have ever met. Although a sportsman, he was also a conservationist making great efforts to ensure that the beauty and majesty was maintained for future generations. Many of life’s greatest lessons came from my interaction with my grandfather. Although he passed away several years ago, I shall never forget him. On this the anniversary of my grandfather’s birth, I wish him well in the life beyond. I look forward to meeting him again in Heaven to reminisce about our times here on this earth and the mysteries of eternity. He was my grandfather but more importantly, he was my friend.
December 11, 2000
It’s funny how your mind wanders when you find yourself in a hopeless situation. For example, I went with Trina tonight to do a little Christmas shopping. I foolishly thought that the crowds would be smaller on a Monday than they were on the weekend. I am not sure where I came up with that theory, must have been the same place as the guy that thought the Earth was flat. Anyway, I sat in the car inching up and down the parking lot looking for a parking place somewhere in the same time zone as the store. Trina of course was talking away, something about the types of gifts we were looking for, how her day went, the chances of nuclear war I’m not sure what she was saying. I was busy listening to the radio. During the sports minute, they were announcing that baseball managers and umpires had met at the baseball winter meetings to discuss a change to the strike zone. Major League Baseball wants the umpires to begin calling the strike zone as defined in the rule book. This means that the strike zone will no longer end at the belt but will move up another 9 inches to across the letters. This is seen as a change that will help the pitchers become more competitive without resorting to raising the mound. This is a huge change for baseball and the managers are fairly worried about what this will do to the game. First of all, if the pitcher attempts to throw a hanging breaking ball above the belt, it may be a strike but chances are it will also be tattooed into the stands. “This can’t be good!” I said. “Yes, you are right” Trina added, “We need to pick up a couple more things for Whitney if Christmas is going to even out for the kids.” Uh yeah, that is what I meant. It would seem the modification of the strike zone is affecting more than just the game. I wonder if baseball envisioned all that could be changed as a result of this announcement. I know Whitney will welcome the news, she just got 2 more Christmas presents because of it.
December 10, 2000
The National League Western Division has always been a fairly competitive division that has been contended by several teams. Whether it was the Dodgers, the Giants, or the Diamondbacks they were hard fought divisional matches. The one team that everyone seemed to write off was the Colorado Rockies. Sure, they were great offensively when playing at Coors Field but their pitching was always near the bottom in ERA and runs given up. All that has changed this winter as the Rockies went out and tried to buy themselves some legitimacy. First they stunned everyone in getting Denny Neagle to sign a contract to pitch in Colorado. My first thought was that he was committing some kind of career suicide. Then this weekend I’m hanging out helping Trina around the house when it was announced that Mike Hampton had been signed. I quickly turned to the television to see whether he had decided to go to Atlanta or to St. Louis. I was guessing the Braves but the announcer said Hampton signed an eight year deal worth $121 million to play for the Colorado Rockies. I could not believe my ears. It was like I had somehow stumbled upon some sort of alternative universe where pitchers actually wanted to pitch in Colorado. I quickly went to the Internet to look at the career statistics Neagle and Hampton had at Coors Field. Just as I expected, they were both around a 6.00 ERA. It is like Bizarro World for baseball fans everywhere. What will be next, Mark McGwire asking to be traded to Seattle but only if they move the fences back because he feels offense is ruining the game? I think I need to sit down, I must be delirious.
December 9, 2000
“There are only 14 shopping days until Christmas” Trina proclaimed. “We need to go and get a few things before they are all gone.” With these words, the longest day of the year began. There are probably few things that bring fear to a man’s heart quite like having to brave the crowds during the peak of Christmas shopping. Immediately, my mind began to develop and elaborate plan in which I would suddenly come down with some rare and near fatal disease that would last for 15 days before I made a miraculous recovery. If I had only paid better attention during that last episode of ER, I would have had the answer I needed but at this moment, my mind was a total blank. I weakly attempted to cough and even added a few sniffles trying out my best “I’m sick” look. Trina of course saw through this ploy immediately and shut me down before I even got started. I am not sure I fully understand the difference between being a hostage and having to go shopping with your wife. I am sure there is some minor legal technicality but I don’t see the difference. After a few minutes of whining and whimpering, I reluctantly grabbed my jacket and headed for the door. After all, how bad could it possibly be? Looking back, I should have known better. Trina drug me to the mall on a Saturday afternoon. All indications pointed to a bad situation from the moment that we couldn’t park in the mall parking lot all the way to the time when we had to wait for someone to leave the mall to make room for us to enter the building. I now have a full understanding of what it must have been like to be aboard a slave ship in the early 1700′s. People were everywhere all wanting the same thing. Each store we went into was packed with people all trying to buy the last car, doll, book, or shirt on the planet. Although I came out carrying a countless number of packages I couldn’t tell you what was in them. All I know is that my shopping is finished.
December 8, 2000
If at the end of last season you would have asked me what was the one position that the Arizona Diamondbacks should not have to fill during this off season, I would have told you first base. It seemed at times last season that the Diamondbacks were trying to corner the market on first basemen. At one point the team had Travis Lee, Greg Colbrunn, Erubiel Durazo, and Alex Cabrera on the Major League roster. So for the Diamondbacks to go out and sign Mark Grace from the Chicago Cubs to play first base was quite a surprise. I really have to question the sanity of this deal on several levels.
Continue reading ‘Say Good Night Gracie’ »
December 7, 2000
To the Baseball Fans of the United States:
Yesterday, Dec. 7, 2000 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by greedy agents and players of the Empire of Major League Baseball.
Continue reading ‘A Day That Will Live in Infamy’ »
December 6, 2000
Wednesday is always an interesting day in the work week. It represents the exact middle of the week. You have usually recovered from Monday and all the trouble that accompanies the beginning of another long week. Tuesday is freshly behind you as you review all the work that you did the day before after barely dragging yourself out of Monday. Thursday is still a day ahead so you can usually push work off from today until tomorrow when you feel more like doing it. Friday of course is a chance to wind down as you begin to make plans for the upcoming weekends. In baseball terms, Wednesday would be the seventh inning stretch. Most of the game is behind you but the most important part still remains. The first six and a half innings seemed to fly by just like the first two and a half days of the work week. The remaining inning and a half seems to take as much time to get through as the first six. There is a lot of strategy involved as you play out your final two at-bats and everyone seems to question the decisions you make in this final two innings more so than the first part of the game. It is the same with Wednesday. Thursday and Friday drag to a halt as you wait for the weekend to arrive. By Wednesday, you can barely remember what you did on Monday let alone the consequences of the decisions made. So it was no surprise that at lunch today I stood up and began singing “Take Me Out to the Ballpark” in celebration of it being Wednesday. Based upon the looks I received from my fellow employees, I am the only one that has made the mental connection of Wednesday to the seventh inning stretch.
December 5, 2000
There are times when Trina is just to optimistic. In her heart, she truly believed that a Christmas tree could be decorated in a day. I tried to tell her that with all the help she was going to get from Dakota and Dog Dot Com, there was no way it was going to happen. Of course she gave me the same look she gives when I tell her that I am not going to buy anything at the Team Shop which meant there was no way she was going to believe me. Still I was right. By midnight last night, the tree was not done. In fact, the lights were not even completed. I took this rare opportunity to tell her I told her so. That was probably not a wise decision on my part nor was it a good idea to do the “I was right and you were wrong” end-zone victory dance around the tree. I can now say without a shadow of a doubt that not everyone is jovial during the holiday season. After picking the Christmas tree branches out of my hair and pajamas I realized I should have been more supportive or at least learn to duck faster. So here I am today, rushing home from work to “do my part” and finish decorating the tree. I also picked up another important safety tip. When I arrived home and found Trina getting ready to go to a jewelry party, I should not have asked, “Aren’t you going to help decorate the tree?” The only saving grace I had was that all the branches had already been placed on the tree making it impossible for her to throw them at me. So, for the remainder of the evening, I worked with the kids to have the tree completely decorated before their mother the Grinch came home. For good measures we decided we should probably have the house cleaned as well. There is no use asking for another blizzard to tear through the house. Until now I never realized that the phrase “It is better to give than to receive” was actually a safety message.