‘Tis the (baseball) season

mattingly

In 1949, SPORT magazine published a poem by Ogden Nash celebrating baseball players from his younger days following the sport.

In that tradition, and as a way to introduce the game to my new son, I’ve used Mr. Nash’s format to present players from my youth to future generations. At long wait, here is “Lineup from My Youth.”

“Lineup from My Youth”

My dear little Franklin,

My bundle of joy.

Let me share a few names

From when I was a boy.

 

A is for Alomar,

Few families were better.

But let’s not forget

The Alous at this letter.

 

B is for Biggio

And Bagwell his buddy.

Together they stuck

Like old silly putty.

 

C is for Canseco,

So powerfully built.

The sight of him made

A.L. pitchers just wilt.

 

D is for Dykstra

With a mouthful of chew.

He played for the Mets

And Philadelphia too.

 

E is for Eckersley,

Who began as a starter.

From the ’pen A.L. hitters

Found few pitchers harder.

 

F is for Frank Thomas,

“The Big Hurt,” they’d cheer.

No right-handed slugger

Would bring out more fear.

 

G is for Griffey,

The Kid had no match.

He could run, he could throw,

He could hit, he could catch.

 

H is for Henderson,

Who sent other teams reeling.

No one could catch him

When Rickey was stealing.

 

I is for Ivan

Rodriguez, or “Pudge.”

He threw out runners

With a personal grudge.

 

J is for Jackson

“Bo knows,” they would say.

Played football and baseball

Both the same way.

 

K is for Kirby,

As in Kirby Puckett.

And kid-friendly poems,

So no Man from Nantucket.

 

L is for Larkin,

Barry’s his name.

Guy never lost

A World Series game.

 

M is for Mattingly,

McGwire, McGriff,

Maddux, and Martinezes

Too many to list.

 

N is for Nomo,

The Japanese star.

They figured him out,

Then they hit the ball far.

 

O is for Olerud,

Blue Jays first baseman.

Two World Series make

Our minds not erase him.

 

P is for Palmeiro,

Quite a lesson he learned.

Did too much juice

As the Feds were concerned.

 

Q is for Quisenberry,

Dan to his friends.

Quipped to Ronald Reagan:

“There you go again.”

 

R is for Ripken

And games never missed.

Few could deny

His place on this list.

 

S is for Sheffield

And Strawberry too.

Both got in trouble

With the boys they call Blue.

 

T is for Tony,

Mr. Gwynn if you’re formal.

To be so consistent

Is far beyond normal.

 

U is for Ugueth

Urbina, of course.

Sticking with U’s

A tough rule to enforce.

 

V is for Viola,

That’s Frank not the fiddle.

His pitches often made

Big hitters look little.

 

W is for Wade,

Not Phillips but Boggs.

As important to the time

As those things we called Pogs.

 

X is for Xavier

Hernandez the pitcher.

Six teams in nine years

Made him quite the switcher.

 

Y is for the man

They call Robin Yount.

He’s got more Brewer records

Than Elias can count.

 

Z is for Ozzie,

The Wizard with leather.

Few men have so brought

St. Louis together.

 

And so my dear Franklin

I give you this roster.

And a love for the game

I hope it will foster.

 

Sometimes it’s just too much

Sometimes the anticipation of an event is simply too much to live up to. Case in point: I finally got around to seeing the movie American Hustle last night (it’s now out on DVD). Eh. That’s about it.

Breathless anticipation for Opening Day, however? That’ll be totally worth it. Stay tuned for an exciting and much anticipated baseball-themed post Friday.

Somehow it’s always right

The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is the most hyped event in sports, with the possible exception of the Super Bowl.

Unlike the Super Bowl, and every other event through the sports year, somehow the Big Dance always lives up to expectation.

Paradise Valley

This post has been coming for quite some time. The end of last year, in fact, when my life was totally different (well, I had one fewer child, anyway).

At the end of August 2013, John Mayer released his sixth studio album, Paradise Valley. I’ll admit two things about the music of John Mayer. One: I’m a secret admirer of the music of John Mayer, have been since the days when his only fans were 12-year-old girls. Two: I’ve not been in love with each album on a first listen, especially his most recent three, and even heading back to his 2005 live album, Try! I came around on Try!, and I came around on Battle Studies (2009), but by 2012’s Born and Raised I thought, this is it, John Mayer has fallen off for me.

Silly me.

Mayer, always one step ahead, gave me a glimpse of things to come with Born and Raised. At the time I wasn’t quite ready for a shift to folk/roots music from an artist I was reluctant to accept as a rocker six or seven years ago. (He’d got me to accept bubble gum, then blues-rock, now this? Too much.) It wasn’t until I heard Paradise Valley, which spoke to me on a second listen, that I began to understand Born and Raised, an album I’d completely dismissed after two or three rundowns. One of Mayer’s early numbers, yet recorded on a commercial album, is titled “This Will All Make Perfect Sense One Day.” Indeed.

Paradise Valley‘s cover shows Mayer, the Western rancher, alone on the high plains of Montana. The music portrays the mood better than this image. A man with a lot of city baggage, heading west, shedding the baggage for his guitar, his dog, and a new outlook on life. Corny? Cliche? Not if you’re sincere, and Mayer pulls it off. Mayer, in his real life, had in fact gone through some rough patches: girl stuff, medical stuff, some PR blunders, and had in fact moved to a Montana ranch. Out of the spotlight, Mayer, I think, was able to concentrate on music and on real life, not the often fake world of pop or rock. Born and Raised does it pretty well. Paradise Valley does it perfectly. Kudos.

Helped, of course, by some of the best in the game (Chuck Leavell and Don Was to name two), the album’s music his all the right chords. Even Katy Perry sounds less silly than usual, and of course, Mayer’s guitar playing is both instantly recognizable and perfectly indicative of mood. He can even make his ax sound funny when necessary.

No radio hits here, no platinum singles, just a really good album meant to be listened all the way through. Maybe it’s advice for your future, maybe it’s a description of where you are now, or maybe, as it is for me, it’s a description of where you’ve been, and how far you’ve come.

I’ve been to my Paradise Valley. Lived there when I had to, sorted some things out, then came back home. Home now is where I like to be. Mortgage, wife, baby: that’s the home I like now. I would’ve never believed it five years ago, yet here I am. I guess you never know. Just that you hope one day it all makes perfect sense.

Out and about

I’m calling this one my Spring Tour.

This weekend I’ll be at two of Loudoun County’s finest vineyards, entertaining patrons and maybe even sampling a sip or two of Loudoun vino. Friday night I’ll be at Dry Mill Winery in Leesburg from 5-8 p.m. (I understand this will be an Irish-themed party… no wonder I got the gig.) And Saturday I’ll be at Vino 9 Market in lovely Paeonian Springs from 7-10 p.m.

Spring Breakers welcome.

Fatherhood

Five days in I’d like to think I’m adjusting to fatherhood pretty well. Drink coffee, move furniture, work in the shed. And of course I spent Sunday watching golf on TV. Then again, by this criterion I was ready for fatherhood at 13.

New man on the team

A few years ago I found in a closet two old school Kool-aid packets of the greatest flavor of all time: Great Bluedini. I told myself I’d drink one on the day I turned 30. Done. The other I’d drink the day I brought my first born home from the hospital. That’s today.

Delicious.