Thoughts from an old man

From the when I was a kid series…

School never started until after Labor Day. Teachers returned the day after Labor Day (Tuesday), then students arrived Wednesday. Somehow without the Internet or e-mail or social media or anything like that they got it done.

Today starts a marathon of preparation for students who will arrive eight days from now, 20 days before teachers of my parents’ era would walk through the schoolhouse doors after two and a half months of being totally disconnected.

Wow.

This is just embarrassing

The Yankees and Red Sox play the ESPN Sunday night game often because, well, they put on a great show.

Case in point last night, though I could have imagined a more victorious outcome for the Bronx Bombers.

The team of my youth was shut down by none other than Michael Wacha.

Michael Wacha, seriously? Guy’s having a great season, having found in Boston the groove he had long ago as an ace for the Cardinals.

He’s been around forever, gotta be around my age, right?

Oh, wait, he’s nine years younger than I am.

Ouch.

Still dreaming

Two things happened in the spring of 1989, just a few weeks apart as a matter of fact.
April 3, 1989… Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season. This was the day I became obsessed with sports, aided by a young Ken Griffey Jr. and these things called baseball cards.
May 5, 1989… the movie Field of Dreams opens. Now everyone is a baseball fan.
And Griffey? Still doing things. Still around to have a catch with the old man.
Kudos to the folks at the “real” Field of Dreams for setting that up for us to see last night.

Back to civilization

You may have wondered where I was Monday… no post, no forwarding address or anything like that. If you’d listened to Math and Musings you knew I’d been Binghamton bound, and probably figured I was lying in a ditch somewhere.

Yeah, but only for a little bit, and now I’m back.

Made it to the old country, made it back in one piece.

And for a further description, tune in to MAM this Friday.

Report from the road: Williamsburg, Virginia

My travels this week took me to Williamsburg, Virginia, a city founded nearly 400 years ago that I had somehow never been to.

Williamsburg was capital of the Virginia Colony and later Commonwealth for more than eight decades, its land and residents playing important roles in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, among other things over the past few centuries.

They also have an ice cream stand called Sno-to-Go, which puts all that history to shame.

If you’re ever in the neighborhood skip the monuments and historic reenactments and all that jazz and get you some Sno-to-Go. The hook? Shave ice and soft serve ice cream in the same delicious bowl.

Yeah, other places probably do it too but these guys do it right. They’ve got a million flavors of milkshakes and sno-cones or slushies or whatever you want to call them, thrown together by some evil genius to whom we should all pay tribute.

Peanut butter and jelly, mashed potatoes and gravy, Shaq and Kobe… shave ice and soft serve. No wonder people decided to settle here.

Nats defy logic again

They trade Juan Soto and they have to face Jacob deGrom. Of course my hometown Nats, owners of the worst record in baseball, would emerge victorious over the first-place New York Mets.

Makes about as much sense as anything else in 2022.

Great book(s); bush-league error

On Friday’s podcast I referred to a book by an incorrect title, an embarrassing error with an unfortunate corollary in my own life. The name of the book is Bushville Wins!, the story of the early days of the Milwaukee Braves. (The full subtitle is The Wild Saga of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and the Screwballs, Sluggers, and Beer Swiggers Who Canned the New York Yankees and Changed Baseball.) On Math and Musings I couldn’t even remember the two-word title, mistakenly referring to the work simply as “Bushville,” rather than “Bushville Wins.” Small detail, I know, but when someone calls Wallpaper Jam simply “Wallpaper” I’m mildly upset they miss out on the clever (IMO) pun.

Long-winded way to come around to saying the book is great, and though now 10 years old still a timely read. The “Bushville” in question is the aforementioned Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and its baseball team, a band of country rubes compared to the sophisticated fans and stars of the New York Yankees. (They sip Manhattans and they live there too.) Even though the team of my youth is the villain in the story, the story is compelling nonetheless. And I now have a soft spot in my heart for the Milwaukee Braves, a team that existed for only 13 major league seasons.

Which brings me to book #2 on my summer reading list: Clayton Trutor’s Loserville: How Professional Sports Remade Atlanta–and How Atlanta Remade Professional Sports. The “Loserville” detailed is in fact Atlanta, a city that was the beneficiary of the Braves’ move from Milwaukee in 1966. This was the first major league team from Atlanta among the “Big 4” of American sports; by 1972 they had teams in each league.

Much of the financing and professional wrangling to secure these teams (Braves, Falcons, Hawks, and Flames) went through public funding sources. As in, like, the government was responsible for building the arenas and securing the dough. Kind of the first time it occurred on this scale, though now it’s standard procedure. Basically before the Atlanta model it was rich guys building stadiums themselves; now it’s corporations in league with state and local governments. Trutor goes into a bit more detail (the man does have a PhD and teaches this stuff at the college level), so the book is therefore several hundred pages of kind of weighty reading. There are side plots of racism and public accommodations regarding such, of course, and thoughtful cost-benefit analyses of public investment in entertainment. If you can handle more than just sports, the book is for you. And Loserville? Well, Losers for a long time in pretty much every sport, but the Braves did win 14 straight division titles in non-strike years from ’91 to 2005.

Not as cool as Milwaukee in the ’50s, but they did win the World Series last year.

“TV” bringing it this summer

Remember when we were growing up, when television in summer was an endless string of reruns? Maybe a “replacement” show or two if you were lucky.

Like so many things now accepted as givens, we didn’t know what we were missing.

I find it funny that in an era in which we speak of TV “seasons,” they don’t really follow the seasons at all. “Season Two” or “Season Eight” or whatever you want to call your new set starts and stops whenever you want to start and stop it. It doesn’t match the school year as programs did in the 20th century. (But we didn’t call them “seasons.” I know that in September 1985 a new set of Cheers episodes began, but did I call it “Season Four”? Now I do, but back then it just would have sounded pretentious.)

All this to say that good things come in all seasons. There are at least two on “TV” right now, broadcast over the next month or so, that are worth your investment. One I mentioned last week. That would be ESPN’s The Captain, a new documentary on the life and times of Yankee legend Derek Jeter.

The other is a little more off beat, but no less interesting or worth your time. It’s Nathan Fielder’s The Rehearsal, and it’s on HBO.

Don’t know the name Nathan Fielder? Remember How To with John Wilson? Fielder is one of Wilson’s guys behind the scenes, and from what I understand it’s actually Fielder who’s the spiritual guide and mentor of the younger Wilson; I just happened to find Wilson first.

The Rehearsal? Like How To it’s actually better the less you know going in. So no spoilers here, just a hearty endorsement from a TV-watching devotee.

Whatever the season.