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A leap day is observed because a complete revolution around the Sun takes slightly longer than 365 days. It compensates for this lag, realigning the calendar with the Earth’s position in the solar system; otherwise, seasons would occur in a different time than intended in the calendar year. — Wikipedia
On my way into work today, I was listening to whatever morning radio station was not running commercials and landed on a crew of three djs discussing facts and trivia about today, February 29th. Better known as Leap Day.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, we all know the deal. The Gregorian calendar is nice and all, but doesn’t *quite* work. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, as the saying goes. And, apparently, calendars.
While I have a degree in finance, I am not a finance person. Humorously, the work I do is slotted under the Finance organization, so I can confidently say that in the parlance of the Finance industry, Leap Day is better known as a fudge factor. A plugged number. A “what do you want the numbers to say?” kind of adjustment.
Let’s just call it a rounding error.
I work in contracts and we have something similar. It’s what one of my first and favorite bosses called “weasel words.” This is where the person on the other end of the contract (usually a lawyer) is being petulant and you can’t quite give them the language they want. Instead you can appease them with something in the vicinity of what they want. Words like “reasonably attempt” and “in accordance with best practices.” Leap words, if you will.
Not to digress, but baseball has something similar. Called a “neighborhood play” it roughly means that the second baseman doesn’t have to actually touch the base or runner to get the out as long as they are near to the base and in control of the ball.
Second basemen tend to stay a bit off the bag because lead runners like to come barreling in trying to disrupt a potential double play. The topic of the neighborhood play came to a head during the playoffs last year as a player got seriously injured.
So in this Leap Year, baseball looks to be changing up the rules. Which will likely make for a lot more leaping shortstops trying to stay off the DL.
In the spirit of both Leap Day and my favorite sport of baseball, I present to you my favorite Giants shortstop of all time, Omar Vizquel, doing what he did best.
Happy Leap Day!
Leaping Omar image found here.
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How does one eulogize a legend? I’m certainly not qualified, but my sincerity, hopefully, will win the day.
Over the weekend Major League Baseball lost a Hall of Famer, and it’s given me quite a few moments to pause and reflect.
Lon Simmons didn’t play the game but is as integral to the sport as any home run champion.
Simmons started out calling San Francisco 49er games in 1957 and then also began calling games for the San Francisco Giants with longtime partner Russ Hodges in 1958. This was just after the Giants had moved west from New York.
Lon’s deep resonant voice is iconic in its own right as is his very dry sense of humor. So dry that occasionally athletes and other broadcasters didn’t quite get it when he’d lay down a quip. In my opinion that sometimes led to awkward encounters, but Simmons was so affable that he could always save the moment.
Any baseball broadcaster worth a damn also has a signature homerun call, and I believe Simmons’ call is the foundation for any good call you hear today.
It went something like this *crack of the bat* “…that ball is way back, way back….tell it good-bye!” and he said with a rising inflection that built the tension, made you clutch the steering wheel in your car, hug a loved one or just squinch down waiting for the payoff. Then yesss! Tell it goodbye! Now that’s iconic.
In the early 2000’s Lon was still broadcasting pretty regularly for the Giants. I have a confession to make, back then I was starting to get pretty frustrated with Simmons. He was of course legendary but his game calling had lost a step. Perhaps it was the impatience of youth, but I used to turn it off if he was calling the game and listen a different way. Sad but true.
When he retired from the Giants broadcasting, I was relieved. I believed then as I do now that it was time. There are other legends, Jon Miller among them, ready to carry on the legacy that Lon Simmons began.
Over the last decade or so, Lon could often be seen at the ballpark and we’d always give him a hero’s welcome. Retirement seemed to suit him and when he’d come on the air, I was a lot more forgiving of his slow style and sometimes awkward pauses.
His voice, his storytelling, his homerun call, they are all a part of the fabric of the game that I love so much.
So on this second day of the 2015 Major League Baseball season and the first day of the San Francisco Giants season, I salute Lon Simmons for his service, for his style and for bringing baseball to life for me with his voice and his words.
I tip my cap to a great man. May he rest in peace.
Russ Hodges (l) and Lon Simmons (r)
Image found here
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“Baseball is a lot like life. It’s a day-to-day existence, full of ups and downs. You make the most of your opportunities in baseball as you do in life.”
— Ernie Harwell, Hall of Fame Broadcaster for the Detroit Tigers
As a longtime baseball fan, I’ve often spent time pondering this very notion, that baseball is an awful lot like life. I have even written yards of stories and words on this very topic. After watching thousands of games, I personally believe that across the nature of nine innings of baseball, in each and every game, a story is told.
One of the most curiously fascinating concepts to me is that a player can make a terrible error in one inning (thus making him the goat) and then be the hero of the game in the very next inning.
Local broadcaster Mike Krukow has often commented that it’s just an unwritten fact of baseball, the guy who bobbles the ball in one inning is going to be at bat the next inning. Or, the guy who made a spectacular catch will also be up in the next inning.
It’s an odd philosophy but I’ve observed that it is pretty spot on. Baseball with all of its flaws and issues is an awfully democratic game. Second chances are given. Third, fourth and fifth chances too. The player who is a super star can slip into an 0 for 42 slump. That guy who can’t seem to hit a damn thing can suddenly make a key play that propels him to a 40 for 42 streak.
You just never know. And that is pretty much like life.
It was with this in mind that I joyfully watched a guy on a real bad downswing named Tim Lincecum, who plays for the San Francisco Giants, complete a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres on Saturday night.
Tim burst on the baseball scene in 2007 as a first round draft pick. Everything about him does not scream baseball. He is a very small person, running about 5’11” on a day he’s standing up very straight and clocking in at maybe 170 pound soaking wet. He is an unlikely pitcher compared to the usual broad shouldered and well over six-footers that dominate the mound.
In addition, Tim’s delivery style is rather unique and eyebrow raising among followers of Major League Baseball. In order to get speed from his small frame, he contorts and twists his body back and delivers a pitch with a whipsaw motion. This delivery and his ability to baffle quality hitters has earned him the nickname “The Freak.”
As no major league batter had ever seen this kind of delivery, Lincecum dominated MLB for his first several seasons, racking up two Cy Young awards, several trips to the All Star Game, and much respect.
But as baseball is the great equalizer, major league hitters began to get used to how Tim pitched. They watched hours of tape and they started to work him out. Suddenly the phenom fell to earth and his pitching was not so freakish anymore. He was, as they say, getting “touched up” pretty regularly.
Over about three years, Lincecum has struggled mightily, and last year in the post season leading to the World Series, he was taken out of the starting rotation and placed in the bullpen. This is an ego bruiser for even the most easygoing of pitcher.
But Tim took it in stride, pitched well in relief and helped the team win the 2012 World Series.
This season, Lincecum has been showing marked improvement, but his teammates are batting so poorly in support of his outings that his record looks dismal. His quality outings have been a bright spot in a pretty terrible season for the San Francisco Giants.
Recently everyone (especially this Giants fan) has been wondering if this is the end of the era of Tim Lincecum.
So it was unlikely to see our small Mr. Lincecum on the mound pitching for his life on Saturday night. He worked his way through all nine innings and threw 148 pitches to close out his first no-hitter.
To be honest, I felt certain he’d throw a no-hitter in the first few years of his career, his stuff was that baffling. But in many ways, it has to be almost more satisfying to have been a phenom, then struggle, then battle back to show Major League Baseball that maybe the era isn’t ending, but simply starting a new chapter.
What a great story. What an amazing game. What an accomplishment.
Lately I have been wavering a little in my allegiance to the San Francisco Giants, as they have been playing sloppy baseball and embarrassing themselves left and right. I was becoming bored with this season’s story. Saturday night I turned the page and a new chapter filled with twists and turns greeted me. I’m now back in the game.
Thank you, Mr. Lincecum, for winning back my heart and mind and for telling me, a storyteller in my own right, one hell of a tale.
Another priceless moment from that no hitter game: A pitch accidentally hits the umpire in the gut, right at the bottom of his chest protector. Ow. Watch Lincecum’s reaction. Awesome.
Image from Wikipedia and used under a Creative Commons 2.0 licensing agreement with attribution.
Footage belongs to MLB, .gif was found here.
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Sometimes, you have to revisit your demons to understand how far you’ve come in the healing process.
Originally posted August 17, 2011
Ok. I’m going to be strong here. : deep breath :
They say that talking through your feelings after a tragedy helps lessen the pain. I’ve kept this pent up inside for almost a week. I thought I could feel better. I thought I could forget.
But the nightmare. Oh the pain. It continues.
So I think it’s time I opened up and discussed my feelings. I need to get closure.
This is going to take all my courage.
Here we go.
Last week, it was Tuesday, and I was at the ballpark with The Good Man and some of our friends.
It was a clear, warm August night. The San Francisco Giants were playing baseball against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the crowd was full of anticipation.
My vacation was just beginning and we couldn’t have asked for a better night. A cool breeze played over the outfield and the laughter came easy.
It was the middle of the fourth inning. The Pirates had been sat down and the Giants were up to bat. No hits in the game so far, so I decided to get up from my seat and use the ladies room.
Evidently I wasn’t the only one needing a stretch break in the 4th inning because the line to use the ladies room was really long. But the line moved fast and thankfully, I was able to get my business done and get out of there.
Feeling a growl in my tummy, I walked the length of the third deck of AT&T Park to find a vendor with the shortest line. No luck this night, the food sellers were hopping.
So I just got on line. All you can do is wait. I had nachos on my mind. If you go to the right vendor, they’ll serve you up this tray with two reservoirs. One holds cheese. One holds salsa. Chips line the middle. It’s perfection in a non-recyclable plastic rectangle.
The key to this whole delicious thing is the liquid cheese dispensed from a cheese machine. The nice lady behind the counter pushes a button and cheese comes out.
When the cheese is flowing, you know all is right with the world.
I waited in a long line while some dude in the front bought eight thousand hot dogs and had to contact the International Monetary Fund to get the transaction done. I watched the game on the in-house monitors.
Jeff Keppinger doubled and the waiting crowd sent up a cheer.
Still, I stood in line.
What got me through the drudgery was the thought of the ballpark nachos. So happy. So good. Cheese AND Salsa? Can it really be true?
Finally Hot Dog Boy walked away and the line moved up. The next guy only wanted a beer, and was done fast. One more step forward.
But wait. Something was wrong. Something was amiss.
Something was…out of order.
I noticed one of the ladies who vend the sweet mystery of life that is ballpark nachos was holding a big silver bag and wringing the life out of it.
She was extracting every last morsel of the orange cheesy goodness.
And then I realized. The truth came to roost.
The Cheese Machine had gone offline.
Oh dear god! The humanity!
What will become of us? What can be done?!
I saw a guy come out from the back to install a new bag of cheese into the machine. Then I heard a lady tell someone “It’s going to take a few minutes, the cheese has to warm up.”
I panicked. What should I do?
You are never prepared for an emergency when the terror strikes. These type of situations call for clear, calm thinking.
I considered moving over to another food vendor, but the lines were outrageously long. I’d only have to wait and wait for the dispensary of another cheese supplier. And what if THEY ran out too?
No. Now was the time to be a grown up. I had to become Zen. I had to stand my ground. By god I’d wait for that freaking fake cheese to warm up.
The minutes ticked by at an utter molasses pace. I couldn’t watch the game I was so heart rended by the fear and worry I had. What will become of the nachos?
Finally, after an eternity, I saw one of the vendor ladies tentatively try the button on the now silent machine. Sweet molten cheese flowed like lava from an active volcano. The night was saved! The cheese rides again!
The crowd parted and I stepped right up to the register. “One nachos, please, the kind with both cheese and salsa.”
“That’s a deluxe nachos,” the Goddess in a Green Visor behind the counter informed me as she filled the reservoir with the sweet fake orangey manna from the gods of processed cheese food.
She even gave me a swipe of cheese across the top of the chips.
Yes. Deluxe. My destiny.
I paid the tab and turned away, comforted by the crispy cheesy salsa-y treat.
I vowed to eat every morsel, my spoils in the victory over the thronging masses that night at AT&T Park.
I am a survivor. I am stronger than my fears.
I grew up a little that day.
Image from The Fun Ones.
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Yesterday was a pretty monumental day for me. So much important stuff happening on just one little ol’ Wednesday in October.
First off, it was Halloween. All Hallows Eve. The day of costumes and candy and belly aches and trick or treat. For many people, Halloween is their Christmas.
Being the old scrooge that I am, there was no costuming going on for me (or for The Good Man).
But that’s ok, I celebrated by watching “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and eating dried cherries instead of candy since we don’t get any trick or treaters. How grown up of me to make that choice. How unlike me to make that choice! Sugar is *awesome*.
But pumpkins and goblins were but one of the big events of the day.
Yesterday was also the big huge spectacular parade down Market Street in San Francisco to celebrate the World Series winning San Francisco Giants.
I wasn’t able to attend in person, but I was able to watch it all live on TV and on the ‘net and wow, what a fun day!!
And THEN when all of that crazy happy fun celebration was done, The Good Man and I went to visit our local County Elections Office. Such a solemn follow up to a happy confetti party! But here’s the thing, when we moved this year, I changed all of my address info with the DMV and nicely asked the DMV to update my voter records.
As we got closer to the election, I noticed that I didn’t get my sample ballot in the mail and I didn’t get my vote-by-mail ballot either.
So we dropped by the busy office and got that all sorted out. Turns out they had my new address properly entered, but for some reason I wasn’t listed as “active”. So she ticked the box, clicked save and I was good.
Then we figured, hey, while we’re here, let’s go ahead and vote.
I felt sort of weirdly proud and a bit patriotic and awfully grown up to be standing there in a polling booth with The Good Man right next door as we cast our respective ballots. There were a few of the crazy California propositions that I could have gone either way on and heading into the polls, The Good Man joked about us voting exact opposite of each other to simply net-net our votes.
Ok, ok, we didn’t do that but it certainly seemed like a good solution. Voting in California is a strange, wacky and time consuming process. Anyhow, we used the electronic voting machines and made our selections and I cast my ballot.
Now that it’s done, I think from here on out I shouldn’t have to see any more political ads, be subjected to any more smarmy politician faces on the local, state or national level and I shouldn’t have to read any more politically driven internet crap.
Am I right? I think I am.
In other words: I’m out! : brush hands together :
Or in the immortal words of Doris Day, whatever will be will be.
But hey, what a day. Celebrated America’s pastime, voted in America’s big election and then danced around by the light of the almost full moon on all hallows eve.
Wait…I chose fruit over candy and I voted? What the hell is happening to me!?!?!
Costume photo found at Sanitaryum.com.
San Francisco Giants parade photos from the SFGiants Instagram stream.
Voting sticker photo Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page, and taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.