Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving is a time to pause to give thanks -- and confront turkeys

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!

I’m blessed. I know it. I appreciate it. And every year I remember to pause on this day – and on most others, to be sure – to take a moment and reflect on all the good things going on amidst the challenges we all face.

Some of those challenges are identified here as turkeys, and maybe this constructive criticism will lead them back onto the proper path.

Certainly I can never express enough thanks for my family, who stick by me and encourage me – and guide me back on the proper path when I go astray. Some of us are separated by a considerable numbers miles, but we’re only a phone call or e-mail – or Words With Friends app turn – away.

I’m thankful for my job. I don’t take this for granted anymore. I’ve been able to survive several rounds of cuts and can continue to do the job I’ve dreamed of doing since I was a kid, a job that I think allows me to meet new people and experience wonderful things and some not-so-wonderful things and, on a day when everything goes right, to make a difference to some people in some places.

Turkeys: Big league managers and coaches, who, for reasons unexplained, voted to give Derek F. Jeter a Gold Glove as the American League’s best shortstop. I’ve made my peace with Jeter after the epic booing I bestowed upon him at U.S. Cellular Field. So the beef here is with the voters who clearly must have forgotten that the role of the shortstop is to actually get to the ball, catch it and throw it to first base, not watch as it skips all the way to the left fielder while basking in the glow of undeserved praise.

I’m thankful for my buddy Will, who this year realized that we’ve known each other 20 years. He’s been by my side through thick and thin, and knows when to have my back and to get on my case. Our baseball adventures account for many of the tales on this blog, all of them true and most of which we could never have imagined. Thanks, man!

Turkey! I spent a wonderful Thanksgiving with my in-laws. But Francisco Rodriguez probably did not. Punching the father of your children’s mother – technically not an in-law, I know – after a bad game is not a good thing to do unless you are actually trying to bring shame to your team and send the Yankee hacks into a frenzy.

I’m thankful for my awesome coed softball team! After several years of come close, and hoisting some nice consolation round trophies, we finally took a league championship! I confess there were moments of doubt, as we only won a game or two during the regular season. But everything came together for the playoffs, as we started hitting and fielding like champs. As the coach, I was a wreck during the final game, where we dispatched our rivals with a tidy 7-1 victory!

Turkey! Ian O’Connor of ESPN New York is a Jeter-loving Yankee hack of the highest order, even penning a glowing book about Mr. Intangibles while supposedly objectively covering him. He also wrote a crazy column allowing Reggie Jackson to spout off about how if Andy Pettitte beat Cliff Lee in an ALCS game, he’d punch his ticket for Cooperstown (despite his 3.80 ERA and steroid confession.) But the column that earned O’Conner his turkey designation came in April when he asked Johan Santana if he regretted signing with the Mets. When O’Connor didn’t get the answer he wanted, he wrote what he claimed Santana really thought and would have said had he been injected with truth serum.

I’m thankful for R.A. Dickey and Mike Pelfrey (Start and end of season). I sheepishly reveal that I was not excited when Omar announced that he signed the 30-plus knuckleballer. But he sure became the Mets’ feel-good story of the year as he went on to finish 11-9 and a 2.84 ERA. And he would have enjoyed Mets immortality with our first and only no-hitter had bleeping Cole Hamels not got that little chip shot to fall in. Pelfrey was so fun to watch early on, absolutely dominating in so many starts. We all thought he’d get 20 wins for sure.

Turkey: Mike Pelfrey, middle of the season. Whatever Big Pelf figured out in the beginning of the season, he somehow forgot it by the All-Star break. He did seem to get things back together by the end of the year, finishing with a still-impressive 15-9 record.

I’m thankful for my awesome students at both Cornerstone University and Kuyper College. Each year I teach, I think that I’ll never get such cool kids again. Yet each year I find there are more wonderful students eager to learn about being a reporter. Watching them improve through the semester is almost as fun as a big front page story that gets everyone riled up. And sometimes we go on field trips.

Turkey: Puerto Rico. I went to Puerto Rico in 2005. We walked around Old San Juan, toured the historic fort, and found some really special handmade Christmas ornaments that remind me of our time there. If only the Mets had visited the fort instead of playing the Marlins when they visited San Juan in late June. Riding high when they arrived, the team proceeded to fall apart, losing the opener 10-3, and then giving away the second game after a late rally. The team won the final game, but Jose Reyes got hurt, everyone else got the flu, Frenchy apparently spent way to long in the casinos, and some of the families got into a fight in the stands. The promising season spiraled out of control, and everyone seems to think the visit to Estadio Hiram Bithorn was the turning point.

I hope this holiday finds you happy and healthy and in appreciation of the blessings the Lord has given us. Even in the toughest of years on and off the field, may we never forget what is special about our lives, and the people we get to share them with.

1 comment:

Liam, Summa Contra said...

How about thanks for a turkey?

Ian O'Connor did write a laugh-out-loud funny comment this year.

Regarding Jeter: "Despite all the sabermetrics, there is a hell of a value in Jeter's ability to turn every ball hit right at him into an out."

This value clearly offsets the negative value in Jeter's ability to allow every ball not hit right at him into a single (at least).

How, I don't know. Must be intangible.