My Mondays

Ah, Monday. Dreaded date of the Western world.

One of the nice things about working every day and recognizing very little difference among spots on a calendar is that Mondays for me hold no sensation of gloom. No worries, no ruin, no fear. Just another day at the office.

Ha!

Baseball’s next inning

baseball

I’ve been following baseball for 25 years, most of it while the game was under the watchful eye of Allan “Bud” Selig, acting come actual commissioner since 1992. Bud’s retiring as of January, and as of yesterday his replacement has been named: MLB’s current chief operating officer Rob Manfred. Not exactly “new sheriff in town,” but a new sheriff nonetheless.

It’s no secret that Major League Baseball has been on a bit of a decline over the past, well, any amount of time you’d like to choose. I’ve been thinking this week not about the game’s new commissioner, but of what occurred 20 years ago this week: the players’ strike which cancelled the remainder of the regular season and, for the first time in 90 years, the World Series. In 2014, if the rest of the season were called off today, would as many people care? Those who did would certainly be older, as we hear constantly about baseball’s aging fan base. Aging and whiting, somehow, too. How many more articles do I need to read this summer about how few blacks there are in the game and how such a small number of black kids (I refuse to say African American) play the game today? Oh, but don’t worry, baseball has hired Bill Bean as its Ambassador for Inculsion “to assure all MLB stakeholders of an inclusive and equitable workplace and provide awareness and educational resources that help mandate the league’s workplace code of conduct.” Bean, a former player and current homosexual, “will focus not just on sexual orientation, but also intersections of race, gender and other issues of diversity.” Yes, baseball is saved.

If baseball has some real fundamental changes to make, I doubt Manfred (Selig the Second) is the man to do it. But I’m biased; I already like the game. There’s only one rule change that really would make the game more accessible and enjoyable for the average fan, and that’s to shorten the game to seven innings. Let’s face it, most people leave after the seventh inning stretch anyway. But with 140 years of playing nine, that’s just not going to happen any time soon. And what do I care about pleasing the “average fan”?

In the era of Twitter, Facebook, iPads, and movies and music on demand, maybe a pastoral 19th century game just doesn’t play anymore for the tech savvy and violent. I really don’t know what the future holds for the national pastime. The black eye of the strike was healed by Cal Ripken Jr. The black eye of steroids, still somewhat lingering, was healed in part by a national movement behind the post-9/11 New York Yankees and the benefit of a few good World Series matchups in a row. The slow bleed of today’s maladies? Football, soccer, too many online distractions? No immediate remedy in sight.

The game still works for me as is.

Legends will fall

Unless you’ve been on the planet Ork for the past 48 hours you have no doubt heard of the passing of comic legend Robin Williams. Robin Williams thrilled audiences for decades, spanning generations and, indeed, often several generations simultaneously (see Aladdin or Hook), with a style uniquely his. I use the word unique with purpose, as in one of a kind, not merely unusual. He truly was a unique talent, and by all indications, a genuinely nice person as well.

That Robin Williams was only 63 when he passed is tragic. That he died by his own hand even more so. The last time I heard the name Robin Williams was a few days before his death, when I read that his estate in Napa Valley was listed for nearly $30 million. Thirty million dollar estate. I guess you never know about someone’s inner demons until it’s too late.

Sad news last night as well to hear of the passing of the great Lauren Bacall. Ms. Bacall was 89. Fifty-seven years after her movie star husband, Humphrey Bogart, left us much too soon, Bacall’s death shows that at any age, legends will fall, and it will always seem too soon.

I guess one should be thankful for the legends themselves.

A trip to the country

Yesterday I took a drive out to Bel Air, Maryland, for a wedding at the Liriodendron Mansion. The Liriodendron was at one time the summer home of Dr. Howard Kelly and his wife, who needed to escape the Baltimore heat in those pre-air conditioned days. Dr. Kelly founded the hospital at this little college down the road called Johns Hopkins.

Bel Air is one of those once quaint Route 1 towns now overrun by shopping malls and chain restaurants. But the Liriodendron does not disappoint. Unlike other homes turned museums, the Liriodendron (it’s unclear whether I should include the article before the name) really does feel like a home. Great food and a well-tuned piano help.

It’s worth a trip to the country.

You’ve got to try harder than this

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/01/us/gop-candidate-for-california-governor-spends-week-being-homeless.html?_r=0

At least our friends at the New York Times seem to recognize this as the publicity stunt it was. Funny that fifteen years ago they trumpeted one of their own in such an “experiment”: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_14?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=nickel%20and%20dimed&sprefix=nickel+and+dim%2Caps%2C235.

Two things: one, try harder if you’re the experiment subject in this scenario. Two, don’t try this if you’re a Republican. They won’t like it. Trust me.

Instant Classic

Even when fielding less-than-great teams, the Yankees and Red Sox somehow still manage to produce amazing games when playing on national TV. Ever wonder why they play on ESPN so often? Me neither.

Silent treatment

Day five of no voice. This sucks. As someone who relies on his voice and furthermore loves the sound of it (so I’ve been told), this is doubly bad. The best analogy I’ve heard so far is “like seeing Fred Astaire in a wheelchair.”

Indeed.

Of which I speak

An unpleasant side effect to a nasty cold I had this weekend, I was barely able to speak yesterday and the day before (welcome relief to some I’m sure). Luckily I live in 2014 and rarely need to actually speak to anyone at all. Ha!