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Baseball Identity Crisis

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yankees

Born in the Bronx, I lived all over New York State until 1988, when I moved to the SF Bay Area. I’ve never lost my New York accent—in fact, it’s intensified—and I never gave up rooting for the Yankees. Until now.

Ever since the firing of Joe Torre and the demise of George (“Evil Emperor”) Steinbrenner, I’ve grown increasingly frustrated, angry, and disgusted with the NY Yankees. It’s not just because their playing went downhill; I am not a “fair weather fan.” It’s because I can’t stand Torre’s successor, Joe Girardi, and disagree with most of his decisions; and because the Steinbrenner kids who are running things don’t give a shit about the team as long as the money keeps pouring in. These changes have resulted in more frequent player turnover: management doesn’t care enough to hold on to good players the way Torre and George S. did. To top things off, during the past four or five years several of the best, most beloved players retired, including Jorge Posada, Andy Pettit, Mariano Rivera, and Derek Jeter (the Core Four, who played together for 16 years, longer than any other group in any sport).

English: Jorge Posada (#20, left) with Mariano...

Jorge Posada (#20, left) with Mariano Rivera (middle) and Derek Jeter (right) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While the Yankees were deteriorating, the SF Giants, post-Barry Bonds, kept winning World Series. They cohered into a rowdy team of individual eccentrics. Bruce Bochy is today considered the best manager in MLB. His core philosophy is like the old Yankee credo: hang on to good players to grow a tight and stellar working team. Living in their territory, it made perfect sense for me to become a Giants fan, and at the close of the 2014 season, with SF once again World Champions, I decided to make the move.

I reiterate: I am not a “bandwagon fan,” or a “fair weather fan.” I made this decision based on logic and geography. Following the Giants, I can see their games and read about them in the local paper, while Yankees’ televised games are few and far between. Because there’s no time change, the games reach me earlier in the day. Another bonus: at the Giants stadium there’s a back fence where they actually allow viewers to stand and watch three innings of the game for free; I’ve done it several times.

So here we are at the start of the 2015 season. I watched the Yankee opener on Monday, mainly to see Joe Torre throw the ceremonial pitch. I listened to the first two Giants games on radio. And I am deeply into an identity crisis. The whole thing feels weird. I am still, after all these years, a displaced New Yorker, a girl from the Bronx, and I’m not sure I’ll manage this transition. But I’m determined to try.

GiantsWin

Intelligent Comedy: The Internship

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The-Intership-300x171An intelligent comedy is hard to find. Despite the fact that most critics dissed The Internship, I found it hilarious, socially relevant, and full of heart.

Vince Vaughn is one of my favorite celebrity guys, and The Wedding Crashers, his first comedy with Owen Wilson, had me rolling on the floor every time I watched it (3). I actually didn’t expect that much from The Internship, thinking they couldn’t pull it off a second time. But this movie is more than a comedy: it’s a hilarious send-up of the way we live now—attached to our technological gadgets—and a way of life—basically, experiencing the world and other people first-hand—that’s rapidly fading.

The critics didn’t think it was funny, and they slammed the movie as being gaga for Google. But in fact, Google probably is the best workplace on Earth—and I’ve known people who work there—with its free food, nap rooms, and other unheard of perks. Of course the place borders on being cultish—but this was clearly on display in The Internship.

My guess is that those trashing The Internship just didn’t get it: either they’re too young to relate to Vaughn’s and Wilson’s aging characters, or they’re older and resent their portrayal as clueless geezers. That these guys are tech and pop-culture clueless is indisputable: but as an even older person, I didn’t understand tons of references thrown out by the Google kids. Vaughn’s and Wilson’s characters were entirely believable to me—and not insulting.

Of course, this is not the first time I’ve been wildly at odds with the critics: Ishtar, a 1980s comedy that’s still held up as the lowest form of film creation, had me laughing my ass off. And in another genre, I recently saw Gravity, praised to the skies for its “amaaaaazing” scenic effects, but which had a totally lame “plot” ; when it was over I thought, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.” (And hey, you don’t kill off George Clooney midway through a movie!)

vince-vaughn-picture-3But I digress; back to The Internship. Just about every movie I’ve seen with Vaughn is loaded with heart—not sentimental drivel, either, but a depth of love and caring that can pull any story through. He not only co-stars in The Internship; he co-wrote the script. On a totally irrelevant note, most people know VV only as a comic actor, but before he became funny he acted in serious films; anyone who has not seen Return to Paradise should. It’s a moving drama about friendship, love, and personal integrity.

I am intentionally saying almost nothing about the plot of The Internship because it’s unnecessary; the movie is two years old and anyone can Google up the story. Just don’t believe the idiotic comments and negative reviews: this film is well worth seeing if you want to laugh and learn.

 

Poverty

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Poverty

 

When you’re poor
you live on the highway.
Every stop
looks better than the last.

You learn to decipher
blessings in disaster,
relate deeds of devastation
in six amusing voices,
cultivate several zany images
and one of deprivation.

Shielding your eyes from the sun
one day, you look down the highway
trying to see the last dangerous curve
you traversed and discover that

the highway has become
your permanent habitat.

English: Typical Indian National Highway.

Wikipedia

 

 

Baseball Players’ Superstitions

baseball heartBaseball just might be the sport with the most superstitious lot of players. Bleacher Report lists the top 50 strangest. Here’s a sampling:

jason-giambi-1-sized

Jason Giambi puts on a gold thong whenever he’s in a slump.

Moises Alou pees on his batting gloves, supposedly to make  them tougher, when he is in a slump.

Mark Teixeira  developed a recent superstition when a sock of CC Sabathia’s  accidentally ended up in his locker, Mark had unknowingly put on one sock with the correct  #25, and one with the #52, and didn’t notice until the game had started; after he had one of the better games of his career—two home runs and six RBI’s—he decided to don two different sox in all future games.mark-teixeira-540x370

Hitters often like to get close to their bats. Occasionally this will occur with pitchers as well. Pitcher R.A. Dickey takes his choice of bats very seriously, naming  each one of them with creative monikkers.

Turk Wendell, who signed a contract with the Mets in 2000 for $ 9,999,999.99,took 99 as his player number.

Tim Lincecum wore the same cap his first five  seasons in MLB.210px-Tim_Lincecum_2008

Wade Boggs would take batting practice at precisely 5:17 when plating at night. He would also take  150 grounders, no more and no less, during warm-ups.

 BaseballFanBy the way, we fans are just as superstitious: I’m not the only one who worries my team lost because I failed to watch them, or is sure when I’m on the case they’re apt to win!

Everything I know I Learned From Art

 

Having just watched No God No Master, a 2012 film about the Palmer Raids of the 1920s and, peripherally, the railroading and execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, it occurs to me that everything I know about history I have gleaned from movies, novels, and song lyrics. Before seeing

Sacco & Vanzetti (Photo: Wikipedia)

Sacco & Vanzetti
(Photo: Wikipedia)

this movie, I did not know that Emma Goldman was deported from the US, never to return. I had no idea what the Palmer Raids were, and though I knew about Sacco and Vanzetti, I was fuzzy on the details (though I knew a bit from Holly Near‘s song Two Good Arms.)

This is not the history they teach in American schools—at least, it’s not anything I was taught.

Thanks to Doris Lessing I know something about colonialism in Africa. I learned about the French Revolution from Marge City of DarknessPiercy‘s City of Darkness, City of Light. I know the history of India from dozens of novels by Indian writers, most notably A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth and A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, and, to a lesser extent, the film Gandhi. Recently I’ve gotten a dose of Nigerian history from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Lest anyone think I’m swallowing works of fiction or Hollywood productions whole, I almost always look up the facts online afterwards; even before the Internet, I did my homework, especially when writing book reviews: I compared Piercy’s details in the abovementioned book to those of historians Will and Ariel Durant—Piercy, who does exhaustive research for her novels, was remarkably faithful to the facts.

When I was in my teens, my twenties, and beyond, I read so many books and saw so many movies about the holocaust and slavery that they no longer fascinated but enraged and depressed me, until I finally swore them off; besides, I could probably write up a syllabus for each. Recently I added domestic violence to the list; having worked in a battered women’s shelter some years ago, I don’t need anymore painful education in that department either.

I don’t listen to music, read literature, or watch movies in order to learn, but because it’s what I love to do. Still, it makes me furious that I wasn’t taught important historical events in school, where they just threw dates of wars and generals at us, not to mention lies about our country. It just goes to show that in the end, as Virginia Woolf noted, it’s the artists who’ll save us.

 

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