Monday, November 24, 2008

Count the blessings, and the turkeys, too


I lead a blessed life and I know it. And Thanksgiving is perhaps my favorite holiday because I get to celebrate those blessings with the people who both provide them and – most importantly – are counted among them.

This is quite possibly the best Thanksgiving ever, with the largest gathering of those people that we’ll probably ever assemble. I’ll soon offer all kinds of details and photos.

Meanwhile, it’s time for our annual pause to reflect upon some of those blessings. And we’ll look at the turkeys as well, because without them running around making things difficult, we’d forget just how special the good times and people are.

I’m thankful: That I got to experience one last game at Shea Stadium. My awesome cousin Tim and my awesome parents provided the tickets, and we watched Johann Santana almost beat the Yankees in the middle game of the final Subway Series. It was such an emotional day. But I made sure I got one more look from just about every possible vantage point that security would allow – and some that it didn’t. The Mets lost, but that barely detracted from a very, very special day I’ll remember forever.

Turkey! Derek Jeter. It’s known that St. Derek the Intangible manages to appear on this list each year. It’s also true that there is no obvious reason for including him this year. People who get SNY might disagree after watching that Edge ad over and over and over and over. But I regretfully don’t get that station, so I can’t join in their pain. This leaves me to conclude that one of two things is possible. Jeter might finally have learned his lesson and straightened up, living life the Met Way. Or, Derek has finally become proficient at keeping his misbehavior away from our vigilant eyes. I vote for the latter. Don’t let Jeter outside in the rain, because he’s a turkey!

I’m thankful: That I was able to see the Mets four times this season. I actually have many benefactors who look out for me. Long-suffering best friend Will and his lovely sidekick Laurie provided seats at Wrigley where the Cubs got one over on the Mets. That was followed by the weekend at Shea, where, of course, they lost. Then the Baseballtruth.com executives indulged me by making a July 19 game in Cincinnati our annual Executive Game, and, of course, the Mets lost. I extended my trip a little and bought a single seat for the next game. The Mets went up, then allowed the Reds to tie then went ahead in the 10th inning, holding on for a 7-5 win, shattering a 17-year, nine-city personal Mets losing streak. I’ll always be thankful for Robinson Cancel, who had the big hit.” And next time I see the Mets, I can boast that I have a one-game winning streak!

Turkey! Alex Rodriguez. ARod, the reluctant Yankee, was caught leaving Madonna’s apartment. Now, we don’t know for sure what Alex was up to. But it’s fun to speculate. I didn’t notice him carrying his Jenga or Travel Scrabble games in the photo. It was too late in the season to serve as draft consultant for her fantasy baseball team, the Blonde Ambitions. And if the Material Girl had a Wii,, Alex would have stayed longer because the bowling part of Wii Sports is addictive. Beat my high score of 244, Alex! But I digress. Hanging out with Madonna, whatever the reason, does nothing but whip the tabloids into a frenzy and create a distraction for his team.

I’m thankful for: Costco! My camera started to expire in the middle of our Key West vacation, so naturally I went to the Best Store Ever for a replacement. It was pretty cool, too, though I learned the zoom lens was not especially good when my Dad was able to zoom in on Mr. Met taking down the Shea Countdown number in centerfield from our seats in the loge, and I tried to zoom in and had most of the outfield remaining in the shot. But it was still a decent camera. Alas, it was a casualty of the game in Cincinnati. The streak was broken, but so was the view screen. I think someone stepped on it by mistake. But I bought it at Costco, and was still a week away from hitting the 90-day deadline to return electronic items. The store happily accepted the broken camera, and I walked out with an even newer camera with a much better zoom. Costco rocks!

Turkeys! People who drive while using the cell phone. My son is learning to drive, so we are keenly aware of other motorists, especially those with bad driving habits. It’s used to be that when you saw someone ahead weaving and driving slow, you’d see that it was one of our senior citizens wearing those oversized sunglasses that fit on top of their regular glasses. But now, the vast majority of the time it’s some doofus using a cell phone. We’re at the point where we can pick them out from a distance. And this happens every single day. It’s only a matter of time before this stuff gets banned. Years from now we’ll be telling kids, “I remember when you used to be able to use your cell phone right when you were driving,” and they’ll look at us with the horror folks of my generation reserve for people who don’t wear seatbelts. End the call, turkey!

I’m thankful for: Two Mets books, one that was published this year and another that’s on the way. Crane Pooler Jon Springer and Matthew Silverman penned “Mets By the Numbers,” which is a fascinating telling of Mets history through uniform numbers. Turns out numbers are an indicator of a player’s destiny. If you’re handed No. 43, for instance, don’t unpack your bags. I’ve already glossed this tome to be the best book ever, and not just because Jon asked me to submit a photo of my Mercury Mets jersey. Fellow blogger Greg Prince will take a run at that that designation with his “Faith and Fear in Flushing” book that should hit the shelves as pitchers and catchers hit St. Lucie. I can’t wait!

Turkey! Then we have writers we don’t like so much, like Bob Klapisch. Klap’s a known Met hater and was exposed as a Yankee lover when he wrote a column suggesting that Yankee closer Mariano Rivera should start the All-Star Game.

"No, the real way to commemorate Yankee Stadium in what could be its final marquee event is to let Rivera start the game: Allow him to bask in the thunderous standing ovation, and let him know what it feels like to have a million flashbulbs go off in his face upon delivery of that first cut fastball.But Rivera would only throw one inning; that would be the stipulation. One inning, and he gets to stand on the mound and let the ovation cover him like a soft rain. It would be a reminder of better times in the Bronx, back when the Yankees really did rule the world.”

It was the “ovation covering him like a soft rain,” that sent me over the edge. It’s become a catch phrase!

I’m thankful: That I had some very nice students in the college journalism class I taught. I know it was a learning experience for me, and I hope it was for them, too. The students were patient, and one even won an award for a story she wrote for my class, so something good must have been happening. None of them turned in something with soft rain ovations, either. And the tossing-the-baby-sock-at-the-governor incident is now part of college lore.

Turkeys! Mets bullpen, I’m looking at you. All of you. Heck, one of you even screwed up the All-Star Game. Blame Willie’s slots and Pedro’s short starts all you want. But you guys stunk up the joint, especially on the very last day when we needed you to stink less than normal. Tim Lincecum needs to send each of you a slice of his Cy Young Award, because Johan Santana would have won it had you goofballs not blown so many of his games. I suspect that Omar is spending the winter trying to get most of you in a different uniform by spring training. And he should.

I’m thankful: Then again, some of them pitched better than I did in some coed softball games this season. But we still had a lot of fun, taking third place in the consolidation round after coming within one out of ousting the eventual league champs. I am very grateful the church folks allowed me to coach again. I founded and coached our newspaper coed team in Flint for nine seasons, and it was fun to break out the Coach-a-matic 2000 magnetic lineup board and lead a team once again. Well, most of the time.

Turkeys! I’m disappointed, if not openly bitter, at how the Mets and MeiGray are handling the auctioning of Shea Stadium memorabilia. Actually, the auctions don’t bother me because if things get bid up, that’s the way it goes. But it the fixed-price items get my goat. You’d think the Mets would want to have something at every price point so just about everyone could have a piece of Shea to treasure. But bricks are selling for $50, and that’s just crazy.

I’m thankful: Then again, who needs a Shea brick when Cousin Tim honored me with a piece of new Citi Field! The Mets even send a duplicate brick that serves as a beautiful display in the family room. It’s comforting to know that in a small way, I’m right there with the Mets.

And I’m very, very thankful to you, gentle reader, for spending some time here. It’s an honor and a responsibility.

We joke a lot around here, but I do realize and appreciate that the Lord has taken good care of me even though I might not always recognize how he is working. I wish you and your family a wonderful and safe holiday.


1 comment:

JLC 1863 said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family too Dave.

Enjoy,

Mike, Kathy, Conor, Ciara and Liam