Thursday, April 28, 2022

A Perfect Game

 It is the rarest of feats. One in which expectations meet the wildest of dreams. Where magic and the moment collide. A perfect game. 

April has been a schizophrenic month. Some days inviting visions of summer. Others reminding us not to put the thermal underwear away quite yet. This morning the good won out, the sun promising to accompany me on my journey, the wind but a whisper. 

I have not been to a Yankee game since 2019. I have not been to virtually any of the old familiar places since then. The world has come to a crashing halt in the intervening years. Our horizons diminished to the barest of bones. Our field of vision limited to the far too unspectacular.

I turned 70 last week. And though I gave my family, and anyone else within the sound of my fingers on my computer, the distinct impression that I needed more than anything else to be feted, what I truly wanted most was to feel my life returning to me. What I had taken as a given, now given back. And nothing felt more natural, or intimate, to me then attending a Yankee baseball game with 40,000 of my closest friends. But most importantly, with my family.

My son and daughter have spent their lifetimes following my passion for baseball, and for my team. And while their interest may have waned as they reached the stage of their lives where other matters consumed their focus, they have always humored their dad, finding time to sit next to me on occasion, listening to my insights on what is, or should be occurring on the field below us.

In recent years, my son in law has joined the cast. But today, as my very special birthday treat, there was one more in our entourage.

My granddaughter is three years old and wouldn't know a Yankee if his name was Aaron Judge and he shook her hand. Her interest at present runs more to Chase from Paw Patrol.

But there she was in the pink Yankee shirt her mom had worn as a little girl. As the five of us headed into the Stadium my expectations were that we would enter a universe that was, to her, loud and more than a little bewildering. That we would remain an inning or two, until her belly was full, her bag of presents was stuffed, and her mind cried out for more welcoming environs and an episode or three of the adventures of Chase and his friends. The game itself would pass unnoticed.

Her mom bought a Yankee hat even as we navigated the line outside the ballpark. Intended for an adult sized head, it soon, and permanently, was situated precariously on top of a three year old noggin.

Once inside, the pre-game music and announcements were set at far too jarring decibel, the concourse enveloped by virtually deafening noise. We anxiously awaited signs that this would be an extremely short afternoon.

But we weathered that storm and settled into our seats. Even before the first pitch was thrown, father and grandfather, with a small child in tow, scoured the stadium for the perfect ice cream, with sprinkles of course. We made it all the way back to our row before the cup overturned onto the ground, not a bite having been taken. But with the five second rule in place and a quick removal of the top layer or so, a crisis was averted.

The game, like the weather, could not have turned out more favorably. In the home team half of the first, there was a screaming two run homer. Maybe, a bit too much screaming for a little girl who has no idea what all the fuss was about.

This led directly to mom, daughter and uncle looking to acquire a suitable stuffed animal to soothe some jangled nerves.

A half inning later they returned with a very fine looking llama dressed in Yankee gear. Its name, so she informed us, was Papa Yankee. He spent the rest of the afternoon clinging tightly to his new best friend. 

A funny thing happened on the way to this being a truncated day in the sun. It turned out not to be that at all.

As the innings came and went, and the home team's lead grew ever larger, so did a three year old's comfort level with being there. She settled in happily, eating her snacks, chatting or playing with us, even once in a while sneaking a peek at the field or the scoreboard. Not with interest, but then again not with disinterest.

By the fifth, with the home team comfortably in the lead, we began to ask our smallest member if she wanted to go. We didn't want to press our luck.

We asked again in the sixth, and then before the seventh. She said she wanted to stay until it was over. And then she said it again. To me, it was like staring at the most beautiful rainbow one could ever imagine. I have been coming to baseball games in the Bronx since I was not much older than my granddaughter is today. Echoes of my dad still reverberate inside me. To see my granddaughter so glad to be in this place, words can't do justice to the level of joy that washed over me.

We left in the middle of the seventh, telling her the game was over (a small fib, as it was for all practical purposes).

On this day I recaptured a bit of what for the longest time had escaped me, as we all have struggled mightily in our terrible collective battle against Covid. And I bathed in the utter, unadulterated pleasure of the presence of those I hold so dear. Including a little girl who held Papa Yankee close to her heart all the way home.

Today, I was at a perfect game.


Anonymous said...

A BD celebration and precious memory to treasure!
She’ll be ready for a double header next year - and at 4, she’ll surely know if you cheat her out of any full 9 inning game!


April 25, 2022 at 6:13 AM 
Anonymous said...

I loved it. Kids can surprise you.


April 25, 2022 at 7:18 AM 
Anonymous said...

The best!


April 25, 2022 at 7:29 AM 
Anonymous said...

Tears are flowing. Thinking of you and your precious family, remembering Saturdays at Yankee Stadium with my dad learning how to keep a box score. All the sights, sounds, smells are so vivid-and the bliss of time with dad and the Yankees!!!
Thank you for sharing a truly perfect game.


April 25, 2022 at 9:18 AM 
Anonymous said...

I am happily surprised that C enjoyed a Yankee game as much as she did. Sounds like you had an A+ day.
Really really nice experience


April 25, 2022 at 9:20 AM 
Anonymous said...

I loved the story


April 25, 2022 at 9:21 AM 
Anonymous said...

Excellent! Thrilled you guys had such a perfect day. Can’t wait to bring M this summer


April 25, 2022 at 9:22 AM 
Anonymous said...

Sounds like the perfect day to me. Can't believe she made it that long...amazing! Wondering if she was one of the people who threw beer onto the field though :)


April 25, 2022 at 9:23 AM 
Anonymous said...

Nice. Sounds awesome!


April 25, 2022 at 9:27 AM 
Anonymous said...

So special to share something you love with C.
It's nice to have some things return to "normal"


April 25, 2022 at 9:48 AM 
Anonymous said...


Very beautiful.


April 25, 2022 at 11:04 AM 
Anonymous said...

A man after my own heart.


April 25, 2022 at 11:06 AM 
Anonymous said...

Great post, looking forward to being able to do the same with L in 3 years


April 25, 2022 at 3:15 PM 
Anonymous said...

Don't think much of your 40,000 "friends" after their treatment of the Cleveland outfielder.


April 25, 2022 at 5:31 PM 
Anonymous said...

It was certainly one for the books!


April 26, 2022 at 5:44 AM 
Anonymous said...

Sounds like a truly wonderful family day, and anytime you wish to go for 2 innings only, I am more than happy to join


April 26, 2022 at 6:37 AM 
Anonymous said...

She LOVES this Papa Yankee.

Her exact words: "I want to stay until its DONE"

When pressed again by A, "We are staying until nighttime"


April 26, 2022 at 6:38 AM 

Post a Comment

One Character At A Time (A/K/A Wheel Of Fortune)

 "I'd like to buy a vowel." Elon Musk just bought the whole alphabet.

Mr. Musk's universe of free expression a boundless receptacle for the most vile, damaging cesspool of thought. 

Twitter has heretofore been predicated on its limited number of characters. Thanks to Mr. Musk's money, anyone will now be set free to say whatever happens to fall out of their brain.

One character at a time. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

On Failing Memory

What I do remember is what I don't remember

What I don't remember is what I do remember

What must I remember and what can I forget

And if I forget to remember what I must remember

And only remember what I can forget 

What then

What then becomes of me

If all I am is what I can forget

Then what I am is forgettable

If what remains of me 

Is but the remains of me

Then what remains of me

If I am what I recall

And I do not recall what I am

Then what am I

If memory fails then so must I

That much I remember

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Should Wimbledon Bar Players from Russia and Belarus?


("Wimbledon Plans to Bar Players from Russia and Belarus")

Are athletes, not performing under the flag of their country, to be banned from competition by reason of their place of residence? What sin have they committed?

Are we to treat these men and women as a mere extension of their nation's failings? Arguing that the number two male tennis player in the world or the number four woman's player is not permitted to perform because it might be considered a point of pride for their homeland should they prove victorious?

This is not 1936 Berlin. Not a black American, Jesse Owens, winning four Olympic gold medals and making a definitive, defiant statement to Adolph Hitler and the Nazis. Wimbledon may be a most prestigious event, but don't pretend it is more than that.

Let the players play. And don't make it a condition that they swear an oath against Mr. Putin. Echoes of Joseph McCarthy "are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist party" a scathing indictment of the question posed. Don't treat a tennis match as a battle of good vs evil, of right against wrong.

Don't make these athletes symbols. They don't deserve our  reprobation or denunciation. They should be permitted the right to win or lose on the court.

Not off it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

It Is Time for the Democrats, and the President, to Wake Up

 ("A Biden Blood Bath?")

Mr. Blow frames his opinion piece as an "either or" proposition. I suggest it is both that the Democrats are bad at messaging and Joe Biden is a bad messenger.

It has been a forever lament that the party on the left may have the right ideas but the wrong way of expressing them. Too wordy, too nerdy. The message getting lost in the weeds. Too many messengers like Elizabeth Warren or Hillary Clinton. Too smart to convey complex issues in easy to comprehend bite size nuggets.

Meanwhile, the Republicans with their red hats, their Make America Great Again, their pitchman President who spoke in hyperbole unrelated to reality, captured the attention of friend and foe. Like them or hate them, you could not ignore them.

But Joe Biden can be ignored. With none of the flair of Obama and none of the showmanship of Trump, he seems, for many Americans to have simply disappeared. His quiet dignity  insufficient answer to the challenges of making the public believe in him or his policies.

So with the mid-terms a looming disaster, the Dems have double trouble staring them in the face. And they must both find better talking points and wake up a slumbering President if they are to have any hope of surviving a November debacle.

Otherwise, this tune now running through my worried mind may prove tomorrow's sad truth:

Where have you gone Joseph Biden 
Your party turns its troubled eyes to you
Woo, woo,woo
What's that you say you Republicans
Sleepy Joe has left and gone away
Hey, hey, hey
They'll make hay

Monday, April 18, 2022

On Turning 70

 I just had the perfect surprise party. 

So maybe it wouldn't technically qualify as a party. Or a surprise. I mean there was no one present. And actually no one was invited.

But this is 2022 and so the definition of what constitutes a party has to change with the times.

You see, all I was ever really angling for in a birthday celebration was for people to shower me with praise, to tell me what a wonderful person I am, to remind me of all the terrific qualities I possess. Or if I was unable to beg and plead for that level of lying, at least a reasonable facsimile would suffice.

This morning I received two documents. The first was a beautiful lengthy poem from my daughter which brought me to tears (to be honest, the Donna Reed show used to have the same effect on me). The other was a series of responses from my closest friends (each of you being at the absolute top of my list) all providing some real insight into what makes me so remarkable. Ok, maybe remarkable is too strong a term. You can fill in that blank with your own term (but I can read your mind, so don't be too snippy).

Anyway, it was an unexpected way to begin my 8th decade wandering aimlessly around the planet. Everyone far too generous in their assessment of me, all the blemishes hidden beneath the kind words. Yes, I know you are all well aware of my deficiencies and some did surface like weeds in the cracks in the sidewalk, but generally I was handled with the utmost care. 

I love all of you who have wished me well today, and even the one of two who may have somehow forgotten to join in the celebration. It has been, in the words of Jimmy Stewart, a wonderful life for these first 70 years, and I am honored and humbled by the fact that so many have tolerated my eccentricities.

I hope to be writing to you at 80 with as much gratitude as I feel now. Of course, at 80 I hope to still retain most of my teeth, much of my hearing, a great portion of my vision and at least a hint of a sense of smell. You see, what constitutes a passing grade definitely changes through the decades.

The GOPfather

 ("Mar-A-Lago Machine: Trump as a Modern Day Party Boss")

He is the GOPfather, the political Marlon Brando.

The heads of the houses (McConnell and McCarthy) not strong enough to take him on, those underlings who have attempted to depose him finding themselves in Republican Siberia.

And so he continues to dispense his blessings from his throne in exile, his coffer filled to overflowing by contributions from those most grateful to find themselves in the Don's good graces, even if his blessing may be ephemeral.

When, in recent American history, has defeat done so little to diminish political value? Nixon dusted himself off from his loss to Kennedy to capture the title, but that was eight years later, with certainly some difficult intervening times. The last one term Presidents, Ford, Carter and George H.W. Bush, clearly did not retain the clout of Mr. Trump once they left office.

Donald Trump in refusing to cede power has somehow turned political straw into gold.  A Svengali continuing to dominate a party that by all logic should have abandoned him last November 

Instead, they still line up to kiss his ring.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

The Shot Felt Round the World

 ("Photographing Hell")

It is the picture taken as the bullet enters the head of its victim during a point blank execution on the streets of Saigon in 1968.

It is the 1972 image of Kim Phuc, the "napalm girl", 9 years old crying and running naked down the road.

It is in the mass grave sites, the workers loading body bags into the back of a truck, entire towns and cities now seeming but a pile of rubble in today's Ukraine. 

It is in these photos that war is distilled to its essence: horrifying and terrifying in its indiscriminate brutality and unthinkable atrocities.

Photos that capture far more than a moment in time.

Photos that scream at us not to turn away.

Photos that are our most powerful weapons, moving nations to tears. 

Photos that do not start wars but, in the pictures most remembered,  ask us to open our eyes and end them.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Wordle (Today It Is a Four Letter Word)

 I lost today. But my defeat is under protest..

On guess number 3, I got all the letters correct and in the right order, save for 1. How was I to know there were more than 4 five letter words in the language I have chosen to speak (a/k/a the only one I speak) with the same first, second, third and fifth letters? But the inventor of five letter words knew it.  

For more than a decade, when it has been far too early to call, my first thoughts have been directed towards entertaining others with my pearls of wisdom. Ok, maybe more bombarding than entertaining and possibly more scraps of nonsense than pearls of wisdom, but you get the idea. But no more.

Now I have been kidnapped by this seemingly simple game. I am not one of those "I use the same first word every day" people. I am far too complex an individual, with far too many 5 letter words at my disposal, to resort to that trick. After all, I graduated from a private high school (ok, maybe in the bottom half of my class). And no, I don't always pepper my first word with as many vowels as can fit in a phone booth. Although, possibly I should.

I am given a Pavlovian treat on those rare early mornings when I am able to uncover the secret of the universe in but two tries. "Great" or "impressive" or some other superlative my reward for my act of pure genius. 

But as I move down the food chain, with attempts 3, 4, 5 and, on occasion, the dreaded 6, my ego sags and I begin to question the value of my life. If the last effort should fail, it feels as if I should be reciting some dark Shakespearean sonnet.

Each day, upon completion of my task, whether ending in ignominious defeat or glorious victory, I announce the results to my children, my son in law and two friends whom I have chosen worthy of the honor of being advised as to the level of my brain power. I am quite sure they are thrilled to get this information as the first thing to greet them when they awaken.

I could never figure out a Rubik's cube. I am far too limited a person to succeed at crossword puzzles. I watch Jeopardy every night and the lack of information swirling around my head never ceases to astound me.

But I have a fighting chance at Wordle. It is like the perfect bed in Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Just right. Five letters reaching the absolute limit of the capacity of the cells in my cerebral cortex.

So when I lose in the manner as I did today, it stings. Badly. My running stats show my win streak is now broken (I still count as victories those two times earlier this week when I had to call on my wife to bail me out on guess #6, because I had obviously "teed it up" for her, and I was just a bit too weary to climb that last hill). I must begin again, from the bottom rung, next morn.

"Tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace." "Alas poor Yorick." "To be or not to be."

My son has just reported back that he succeeded in but 3 tries today. And my daughter is guilty of piling on as she now has advised she too required but 3 efforts to hit paydirt.

Like daggers to my heart.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

What Elephant?

 ("The Unbelievable Stupidity of Ending Global Covid Aid")

We're done with this pandemic." Unfortunately, the pandemic disagrees.

You see the pandemic can't be reasoned with, can't be bribed, can't be advised to respect borders. It refuses to be intimidated or interrogated. There is no way to merely request it to retreat, no method of demanding it just magically disappear (as one person suggested it would).   

The pandemic charts its own course, makes its own decisions unless we compel it to do otherwise. It has spent two years teaching us lessons of battle that we ignore at our continued peril.

Denial of the elephant in the room is simply not a defense. It just means there is a $15 billion dollar mess in the middle of the House floor that needs to be cleaned up.

Monday, April 11, 2022

My Job Application to the New York Times

Frank Rich. Bob Herbert. Frank Bruni. Nicholas Kristof. Now Jennifer Finney Boylan. 

What is going on at the New York Times? Why are the opinion writers (f/k/a Op Ed writers) jumping ship with such metronomic regularity?

I am sure it is mere natural attrition but then again....

All I know is that I have been writing to the Times (if not for the Times) for nearly a decade and a half. They certainly have adequate sample of my work to determine if I am now worthy to fill this latest void.

You have found reason to publish my thoughts political and personal, on the state of our nation and the state of my Yankees, on matters of great weight and some as light as air. I am a man for all seasons, except maybe mud season for which I have little regard.

While my words don't hold a candle to the likes of those "recently departed", I trust there may be a flicker or two of light emanating from my thoughts. 

As with all the others who have left the fold, I will sorely miss the perspective on the world given by Ms. Finney Boylan. And I wish her the best of luck wherever her journey next leads.

But as they say, when one door closes ....

Please consider this my formal application. I await your reply.


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Opening Day

 ("Baseball Is Dying. The Government Should Take It Over")

Shame on you. So baseball is a 19th century sport dressed up in 21st century garb. So it does not run on a clock. In fact since Rickey Henderson it does not run much at all. So it has overshifted, pitch counted and relieved itself (that doesn't sound right) into a game where straddling the Mendoza line has become almost acceptable, where K has become the most important letter of the alphabet, where manufacturing a run has seemingly gone the way of the Edsel. So what.

Don't tell me it is dying, not on the very day it is being born again. Don't tell me what it is not. I already know that. I will tell you what it is. Baseball is in my blood and has been since I first smelled the leather of the mitt in the mid 1950's. It is in my belly since Mickey Mantle smiled that Oklahoma smile and hit a ball farther than it was ever intended to travel. It is in my ears since I imagined what Red Barber was broadcasting on the radio. It is in my feet as I legged out a double in my first Little League game. It is in my father's eyes as we sat together in the Stadium. It is in my soul and will remain there until I am no more.

So do not report to me that baseball is but the walking dead. Not now, not when the first pitch is so near. It won't kill you to let my dream survive. Even if baseball is not America's game anymore, it is still mine.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Coach N

 I have this far more than annoying little habit of inserting myself uninvited into other people's business as they attempt to master the intricacies and nuances of some sport at which I pretend to be proficient.

For decades I lectured my wife on how she could improve her skiing, despite my awareness that my incessant pearls of wisdom must have been to her ears as fingers scratching across a chalkboard. On the hill, on the chairlift, even as she wandered into sleep at night, there was no place for my wife to hide. Her thanks but no thanks drowned out by the jarring sound of my constant instructions.

My children's friends, my own friends, even strangers possible subjects of my objectionable behavior. I have through the years found no barriers or limitations to my commitment to my unassigned task. Not only in skiing, but virtually any endeavor that I have stumbled upon in the process of living.

Last weekend, I appeared at my son-in-law's birthday bowling party. I watched the assembled struggle in their attempts to make a ball with three holes respond to their commands, the pins seeming at times to mock their efforts.

I selected one of the guests as my target du jour. "You are throwing around your body. Your release point should be out front." No matter that I hadn't picked up a bowling ball in years and that my glory days as a mediocre participant in a league were nearly six decades in the rear view mirror. Or that I had only the faintest notion of what I was saying. Or that no one had sought my attention or requested my directions, least of all the person on the receiving end of this lecture. 

But listen she did. And that night the fates treated me kindly. For, after one less than satisfactory throw, the second brought a hint of success. In short order, both my pupil and her husband offered me hearty congratulations. As if I had discovered the cure for cancer. And they further reminded me how, years earlier, I had improved this same young woman's ability to navigate on the slopes. OMG this poor person had been my victim twice!

While I left the party shortly thereafter, the victory was not yet complete. For my daughter sent images of the scores and I noted with swelling pride that my student's score had risen past 100 in the second game. And then the birthday boy messaged me a note of congratulations on a job well done.

A word of warning to anyone reading this. Any positive feedback on my efforts only increases the likelihood that you may be next in line for dissection. If I were you, I would just grin and bear it. Because neither rain, sleet, polite request to stop, nor restraining order will keep me from my self appointed rounds. 

By the way, I think you are swaying a bit in your backswing. 

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Self Checkout

 My task is a simple one. Pick up a dozen eggs at the grocery store. Bring them home.

I am given explicit directions as to the aisle in which the one item can be found, even though I have shopped with my family here a hundred times.

I am more than a little anxious and  perplexed as I stand looking at all the choices. I have to be price conscious, so I reject the $6.49 option. But the $3.99 alternative must have some defect of which I am wholly unaware. Finally, $4.49, organic. I hope I can't be faulted for this selection.

Now comes the hard part. It is Saturday morning and there is only one cashier. There are three people on line, two with full carts. The self checkout line is empty. There is only one problem.

I can only imagine what the others must be thinking. Why is this idiot standing here?

I have 19 years of schooling. I have spent nearly 70 years wandering around this planet. How challenging could it be to walk ten feet to my right and do what millions without my sterling pedigree have done? Yet I stood immobile, frozen by my astounding incompetency.

I witness without seeing is the best way I can explain it. I have often been at this very self checkout spot while my wife or son performed their duet with the machine. But I might as well have been staring into a hole in the ground for the amount of information that entered my cerebral cortex.

Five minutes pass and I have moved up one position. Suddenly, it is announced that another cashier is opening up. I rush over, only to be too slow to capture the lead. The man behind me says "why don't you use self checkout?" 

Without thinking I blurt out "I have never done it before."

"Someone is there to help you" he advises.

And so I find myself in foreign territory, explaining my uniqueness to the nice lady. "You just do this and then that, put this here, take this from there and you're done." She might as well have been speaking Japanese.

When I walked in the door my son said he was proud of me. I had make a good selection and, wow, I had even used self checkout.

He should only know. But I am quite certain he already does.

Saturday, April 2, 2022


My computer rests quietly in the other bedroom. Normally I would now be in that room, printing a copy of the New York Times crossword puzzle for the person resting next to me. But not today. Not this morning. For in that room is something to be prized and protected, coddled and cherished. Today we have company.

Finally I can be a little annoyed that I have to be quiet and speak in a whisper at 6:45 AM (the middle of my day). Finally I can be slightly bothered that I had to remain awake until almost 11 PM (the middle of my night) to keep our guests entertained. Finally, I can be concerned about planning my day around the pleasures of someone else and leaving my own desires to the side. 

So what if I have to wait my turn for the bathroom. So what if I will not be in control of the remote this weekend. So what if I am starving right now but can't eat breakfast because I have to wait for the three Rip Van Winkle's who will remain asleep for God knows how long this morning.

It is now 7:21 and still no noise. Who sleeps this late? How long do they intend to remain in their state of unbeing? I don't think I can take this much longer.

Life is beautiful this morning.

For we have company. 

Friday, April 1, 2022

Oink (a/k/a The Art of the Steal)

 ("She took the White House Photos. Trump Moved to Take the Profit")

Picture this. Donald Trump with his hand in someone else's piggy bank. Oink.

This is a man who robbed with impunity (Trump University, paying back $25 million to duped students), who left creditors in his wake (a half dozen corporate bankruptcies), who used his foundation to play personal shell games (paying $2 million to 8 charities to settle claims against him), who licensed his name on steak, wine, vodka and countless other products.

A man without a moral compass  except to be forever pointed in the direction of unquenchable greed. Someone who has spent a lifetime taking financial advantage of others.

This latest effort, monetizing the work of his White House photographer is just one more example of Donald being Donald.

But certainly not the last.

The art of the steal.