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Monthly Archives: March 2009

El Hombre

A nice story about St. Louis Cardinals superstar Albert Pujols in today’s USA Today.

I hate playing against Pujols because he’s so damn good. But it was nice to read about his off-the-field activities, which include raising money and awareness for kids with Down Syndrome and delivering supplies to poor countries. He’s very much involved with his church, too.

Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez is quoted in the story, saying Pujols “is the best hitter in both leagues.” Truer words have never been spoken. Pujols, known as “El Hombre” in St. Louis, is so consistently good, it’s scary.

I hope, for Pujols’ sake and the sake of the game, that he’s done it all without performance-enhancing drugs. If he has, what an amazing athlete. He’s the best hitter I’ve seen in 25 years of watching baseball closely.

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Countdown to Opening Day: 5 days. Braves at Phillies on ESPN2 Sunday night, then a full slate on Monday.

The Dodgers open at San Diego for four games, then three at ‘Zona. It’s a tough opening month for Los Angeles, with only seven games at Chavez Ravine.

June is filled with home games, though, so of course it all evens out.

And September includes three games with Washington, six with Pittsburgh and the rest against NL West teams. Gotta like our chances if we enter the final month healthy and within striking distance of first place.

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Lake Show coming off a loss tonight will play at Charlotte. L.A. has lost six of its last seven against the Bobcats. Weird.

NBA.com tells me that I get to watch the game for free tonight. And I’m off, so what a nice surprise!

The Lakers clinched home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs a few days ago. Cleveland appears to be a lock for the overall home-court edge. Hopefully L.A. will finish with a better record than Boston.

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Maisa has her 6-month checkup today. She has a cough, so the doctor might decide to postpone her shots for a few days.

My family is having a heckuva time in the health department lately. Two of our in-laws are in the hospital, and of course Jill is still battling her back pain and related problems.

Hopefully the springtime weather and prayers can make everyone feel a little better very soon.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

Jack

NOTE: “100 Things I Love About Baseball” can be found below…

I watched “Chinatown,” a 1974 film starring Jack Nicholson. It’s considered by some to be one of Hollywood’s finest productions.

I enjoyed it, but felt it dragged a bit in spots. I love movies about pre-1960 Los Angeles, though, so I can’t complain.

Oh, by the way, Jack Nicholson is, and always has been, the coolest guy in the world.

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My mom made my day yesterday. She said I was a “good writer” after reading my “100” list.

That made me feel great.

What would we do without moms, anyway?

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Is it April yet?

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

Odds and ends

I’ve neglected keeping up with Dodger happenings this week as I worked on my “100 Things I Love About Baseball” list, which you can find below.

A couple notables…

  • Manager Joe Torre says Manny Ramirez will bat third come Opening Day. Amen to this decision, which I consider a no-brainer. Your best hitter should bat third, not fourth.
  • The Dodgers play 10 (ten!) four-game series this season. That’s a huge number, and I’m wondering if it’s because teams are trying to save money in this bad economy.
  • Dodger third baseman and Iowa native Casey Blake left camp to be with his wife, who is having the couple’s third child. Congrats to them.
 
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Posted by on March 28, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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Spring fever

How can you not have it?

I’ve had a lifelong love affair with baseball. I love everything about it, and year after year I find more ways to appreciate the game. Baseball, to me, is so perfect that it’s proof that God exists.

I love how a baseball smells. I love how hot dogs and beer taste better at a ballpark. I love the crowd rising to its feet. I love watching how effortlessly big-league infielders can throw a ball across the diamond. I love the rhythm of a radio announcer calling a game on a July evening. I love the one-on-one dual between a pitcher and a hitter that occurs more than 200 times each game. I love double-plays.

But more than anything, I love how baseball infuses February and March with a burst of energy. 

With two weeks to go before Opening day, I want to share a couple of baseball poems that I love. Find them below.

Play ball.

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“The Green Fields of the Mind ” by A. Bartlett Giamatti 

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart.

The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.

You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.

Today, October 2, a Sunday of rain and broken branches and leaf-clogged drains and slick streets, it stopped, and summer was gone.

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“People Will Come” by W.P. Kinsella (as told by Terrance Mann in “Field of Dreams”)…

Ray, people will come Ray.

They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom.

They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it.

They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past.

“Of course, we won’t mind if you look around,” you’ll say. “It’s only $20 per person.”

They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack.

And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes.

And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces.

People will come Ray.

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by it like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.

This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good … and it could be again.

Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

Cool-down period

Whew, I’ve been swamped at work the last few days. Glad to have the next two days off.

Where do I begin? How about a random thoughts list…

  • Iowa was lucky to win the NCAA wrestling title this weekend. The Hawkeyes had one good session (Saturday morning) and that was enough to win the title. Every other session was a disappointment for the Hawkeyes, who could have won the championship by 20 or 30 points instead of 4 and a half.
  • Villanova showed UCLA how much work it needs to do to get back to the top of the college basketball world. Saturday’s second-round game was a massacre in every way. Recruit hard, Ben Howland.
  • The Lakers had a monster fourth quarter on Saturday night in Chicago and beat the Bulls by about 10 points. Chicago was in control of the game for the entire first half.
  • My two favorite shows are on AMC tonight: “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men.” Yay!

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And finally, an ode to the world’s greatest Web site. It’s been around for a while, but it’s never a bad time to sing the praises of Baseball-Reference.com.

I bet I log on to Baseball-Reference.com at least 10 times a month, to answer burning questions such as “How many games did Ricky Horton pitch for the 1988 Dodgers?”

Sometimes I even turn to the Web site for more serious questions such as “How old was Wes Parker when he retired from the Dodgers, and what was his fielding percentage in that final year?”

There is something for everyone on that Web site, including box scores for essentially every game in baseball history.

Check it out. You can spend hours on that site. It’s the Cooperstown of Web sites.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

Feeling yucky

I picked up the flu in the last few days. Even had to call in sick to work on Tuesday — something I rarely do.

Monday night and Tuesday were rough. I’m feeling a little better today and plan to go back to work.

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Anyone who picks four (or even three) No. 1 seeds to advance to the men’s Final Four is insane. Do you know how many times the top-ranked team lost this season?

I haven’t filled out my bracket yet, but I guarantee I won’t have more than one No. 1 seed in the Final Four.

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Lakers lost to Philly last night at home. Terrible defensive play by Trevor Ariza. The Lakers had a two-point lead and a foul to give, but didn’t use it. Instead, they let a Iguodala shoot a game-winning 3-pointer.

Mercy!

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Anyone care about the United States’ big win in the World Baseball Classic last night? I didn’t think so.

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

A nice visit

Mom and Dad Kramer and Dan came to Ankeny on Sunday and Monday to visit with Maisa, Jill and me. We had a really nice time. Many thanks to them for making the trip.

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I hope Manny’s hamstring injury is just a product of him not wanting to play spring training games. We need him to play at least 140 games this year.

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UCLA draws a difficult sixth seed in the East regional. If the Bruins beat Virginia Commonwealth on Thursday, they’ll likely face Villanova in Philly. Talk about home-court advantage. Mercy!

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The Lakers put a helluva scare into their fans Sunday, blowing a 15-point, third-quarter lead. Dallas led by 5 midway through the fourth, but the Lake Show rallied to win.

Whew.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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