From A Goat to A Hero in 148 Pitches

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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.

Much deserved.








Bonus!

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.




The Weekend – In Visuals

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My weekend, told in a few words with iPhone photos to illustrate.

On Friday, The Good Man and I did an early dash away from work and drove up to Napa.




We checked into our B&B and went outside to sit on their peaceful back patio to decompress after a crazy week. And to partake of the B&B’s delicious French press coffee.

Only, we weren’t alone.




This creature doesn’t belong to the B&B. No one is really sure where it came from. Creepy Stalker Chicken seemed to think we were going to feed her. She was especially targeted The Good Man who is used to being shaken down for kibble by The Feline. Apparently we were unable to escape hungry domesticated animals for the weekend.

Which kind of made us hungry. After a fantastic (non-poultry) dinner and a good night’s sleep, we headed out the next day to do what it is most people do while visiting Napa.





A lot.

Oh, and at one winery, we still weren’t alone.





Apparently Creepy Stalker Chickens were the weekend theme. This one was wearing chicken pants.

But no matter. There was still this…





And then more





And a WHOLE lot more





“Heeeeeey, schhhicken, scccchhhhicken, ssssssshicken…”

Then on Saturday night, we headed out to take in some live music at The Uptown Theater. An acoustic Roseanne Cash show (with Shawn Mullins as the opening act).




It was *awesome*.

We slept good that night. Had a kick butt breakfast.

Then sadly it was Sunday and time to head back home.





With a whoooole lotta wine in the trunk of the car.





It’s medicinal. Really.




All photos Copyright 2010 or 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the far right column of this page. All taken with an iPhone 4s and the Camera+ up, except for the Golden Gate Bridge photo which was taken with the QuadCamera app.


A Tribute

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In honor of my beautiful, tolerant, and kind mother who was born on this very day, I present an entry that really, truly highlights just what a kind and tolerant woman she is.

And also the kind of crap my mom had to put up with in my formative years.

She deserves a better child than me, but I’m what she got. Hi Mom!

By the way, my dear mom has had to endure a lot this past week. Her oldest child (my brother) turned 50 and he also became a grandfather.

Hellova a birthday present to my dear Mom to suddenly become a great-grandparent.

And so Happy Birthday to my wonderful Mum! May it be filled with cake and fun!

And perhaps a Margarita or two.


_________________________________

Originally published May 11, 2011

And Then There Was The Time…


So after having a confession yesterday about my snake flinging incident, commenter Andy D mentioned that if I’d slung the snake directly onto instead of simply near my mom, that likely I’d remember the conclusion of that story a lot differently.

Which reminded me of yet another story that took place at that family vacation house near Ute Lake.

My dad was an avid hunter and we always had guns in the house. Since my dad didn’t want us to be either scared or a little too curious about the guns, he made sure we all knew how to shoot each and every one.

On the small bit of property we owned in Cuba, New Mexico, there was a tree that had been felled by lightening. It was a huge tree, and it made a really good location for target practice. Whenever we’d go camping, my dad would bring along guns and each kid (and mom too) all had to take a turn. Dad supervised while we learned to load and shoot the gun.

I was shooting my dad’s deer rifles from a young age. All this is by way of saying that I grew up fairly comfortable around guns.

So ok.

My brother had himself a BB gun when he was a teenager, and when he went off to college, that BB gun was left at the Ute Lake house. For a while, around age 12 or so, I adopted that BB gun as my own. It had seen better days, but it worked fine and there was a big box of BBs available for my “ping!” pleasure.

I liked to shoot the gun mainly for the sound of the BBs pinging off the side of something like the old metal sided chicken coop.

Not the most ambitious of kids, was I.

On the property was a telephone pole. For reasons I still don’t fully understand, that telephone pole was covered in a very thick layer of tar. When the baking heat of a New Mexico summer day would get going, that tar would soften into a gooey mess.

So in my eleven year old mind, I had the brilliant idea that if I shot BBs at the tar covered pole, they’d stick. Wouldn’t that be so cool?

I filled the BB gun full to the brim and got to work out back shooting at that pole from a fair distance. I wanted to make it sporting. Now, hitting a decently narrow pole from a good distance is tougher than you may think. Or at least it was for me. What I lacked in aim, I made up for with single minded focus.

Well, so there I was, pumping BB’s in the general direction of the telephone pole, and my mom, wearing shorts and a sleeveless shirt, was working out in the back yard pulling weeds.

You can see where this is headed, right?

Sure enough, it was only a matter of time before I pulled the trigger, my aim was a bit off the mark and I…

Yes, I did.

I shot my mom.

In the arm.

She was, as the saying goes, mad as a wet hen. Quickly enough, a big red welt began rising on her right arm.

Let me just tell you this: I was no longer allowed the use of that BB gun. I was done. For good.

Flinging a snake? I got off easy. Shooting my mom? My oh my. I was in quite a bit of trouble which included a “talking to” from my dad.

That’s never good.

And so in the course of two blog posts, I’ve created quite the Mother’s Day meme.


(I did not, in fact, shoot my eye out. I shot my mom. Whoops.)



Photo is a still from the movie, “A Christmas Story.”



A Different Kind of Summer Day

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Sigh. It’s a beautiful August day outside.

The sun it out but it’s not too hot. A slight breeze dries the little bit of sweat that springs up from running around on the green grass. The pavement is warm on my sandaled feet.

I miss having summers off. Three months of ease and joy. I miss those lazy hot August days, like today, in the waning hours before school starts again. It seemed like summer would never end and Autumn was a forever away.

I miss dry Albuquerque days with powerful monsoon rainstorms in the late afternoon.

Splashing in sprinklers. Chasing lizards. Riding my bike.

Then dashing inside where the refrigerated air was like heaven on earth and sipping sun tea while watching Guiding Light with my mom and sister and often my grandmother too.

I think I had angst back then. I’m pretty sure I worried a lot. I at least got a little worked up over the latest machinations of Reva and Josh in that soap opera world.

But I had kid worries too. What would school be like? Why didn’t I have more friends? Why was my hair mousey brown and not blonde? When mom and dad talked about money problems did that mean something bad was going to happen?

I know I had a lot of angst back then, but in hindsight it seems so easy. So effortless.

What is that saying? “Youth is wasted on the young.” For me maybe not wasted but certainly not appreciated.

On this beautiful August day, I sit in my hard walled office with one glass wall and gaze out to the park across the street. Kids run and tumble and shout and scream and seem to be having a really effortlessly fun summer.

And I feel wistful.

I know kids today have their own worries and in a lot of ways it’s harder to be a kid today than it was way back when. But right now I am gazing out the window as I prepare for my next conference call where we’ll blah de blah for an hour about something that seems terribly important but really isn’t. Right now I sort of wish for a swimming pool, a soft serve ice cream cone and the time and desire to lay out on a beach towel and just soak up the sun.

For just a moment to have nothing to do and nowhere to be and nothing to worry about other than when to flip over so I don’t get sunburned.

That’s summer vacation to me.

Ah well. Back to the conference call. My boss is pinging my mobile phone and asking if I am attending.

I’m attending. In body only. The spirit is floating on a hot pink blow up mattress in the muddy waters of Ute Lake.


_________________________

This photo is not totally applicable to this post, but I went to my favorite royalty free stock photo site and put “summer” in the search box.

This was the first image that came up and it was too compelling to pass up. So there you have it.







Image by Teresa Howes and used royalty free from stock.xchng



I Hear You Calling

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Oh, Atlanta/I hear you calling/
I’m coming back to you one fine day/
No need to worry/There ain’t no hurry/
cause I’m/On my way back to Georgia

— Atlanta, by Alison Krauss

Last month I typed into my Facebook status, “Holy crap. I’m actually in London” in the awe inspiring moments after I stepped off an airplane.

I considered typing something similar today.

I suppose “Holy crap I’m actually in Atlanta” holds a little less gravitas, but it’s no less sincere.

The holy crap comes to mind because it’s been a really long time since I was in beautiful Georgia.

Flying over the city I love to look out the window and I’m always amazed. Atlanta is so green. So many trees. So many old red brick buildings. Lovely!

I got a good adventure today, too. I picked up a rental car at the airport and got out on Highway 85 southbound. Today I drove across the left half of Georgia. It’s a jaunt that would take many, many hours in New Mexico, but turns out I only needed about 75 miles to get it done today.

The highway was wonderful. Smooth pavement, tall Georgia pines lining the route and well-tended velvety grass on both sides of the road.

I put my favorite Sirius station on the rental car radio and took a really nice drive.

It looked like this.





I love driving on easy open road. It’s very meditative. Some of my best thinking gets done on an uncrowded interstate.

And then after a little over an hour, I slipped over the border into Alabama and found my hotel.

This is the view from my hotel room. That is some big sky right there.




The population of this town is 7,897 and the folks here could not be any nicer. I took a drive around the town just to check it out and marveled at how pretty it is here in this little corner of Alabama.

Something so easy and so pretty about a warm summer night in the South.

And then I stopped off for a little dinner at a local institution.

Haven’t visited one of these in a while.





Feeling quite content, I’m back in my hotel and I’m smiling.

Atlanta may have been calling, but right now Alabama’s got my attention.

I was sort of worried about this trip, about the long drive and the weather and what this little town would be like.

It turns out I’m kind of having fun. On a work trip! Go figure.