Final At Bats……and Much More: Ted Williams & Derek Jeter

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On September 28, 1960, for his final at bat in Fenway Park, Ted Williams hit a home run in the 8th inning of a game the Sox eventually won. Fifty-four years later, for his final at bat at Yankee Stadium, Derek Jeter hit a single, driving in the winning run for the Yankees in the bottom of the 9th.

Neither of those at bats could change disappointing seasons for the Sox or the Yankees.

Yet both of those at bats will long be remembered.

John Updike, a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, described what happened in Fenway in his superb Hub Fans Bids Kid Adieu. If you’ve never read this piece, you’re in for a treat. If you have read it and chose to reread it, you’re also in for a treat.

And although there has been massive coverage of Derek Jeter’s final Yankee Stadium at bat and retirement in general, I offer an equally wonderful and worthy essay about Jeter, The Final Walk Off, written by another Pulitzer Prize winning author, J.R. Moehringer, that was published just a few days ago by ESPN.

Interestingly, neither Updike nor Moehringer are sports’ writers, tho both are sports’ fans.

Both articles recount these final (home) at bats…and much more.

Both articles will tell you things you’ve never known about Williams and Jeter.

And both articles will put things you may have known (or sensed) into words and into perspectives that will explain why these two ball players were among the best, in different ways, of their generation.

When you have some time (the Jeter article is long):

Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu, by John Updike, The New Yorker, Oct. 22, 1960.

The Final Walk Off: Derek Jeter Plays Last Game at Yankee Stadium, by J.R. Moehringer, ESPN The Magazine, Sept. 26, 2014.

(J.R.Moehringer won the Pulitzer Prize for newspaper writing {2000} and is the author of three books — a wonderful memoir, The Tender Bar, one of the best sports’ biographies I’ve ever read, Open, and most recently, a novel, Sutton, based on the life of bank robber Willie Sutton.)

(John Updike won Pulitzer Prizes for both Rabbit Is Rich and Rabbit at Rest and wrote 18 other novels, numerous short stories, poems, and children’s books, and was both a literary and art critic. He also wrote for The New Yorker.)

Our Increased Life Expectancy: Two Views

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The October 2014 issue of The Atlantic has two articles that focus on the issues raised by our increased life expectancy. Though they seem to come to different conclusions, each author and article gives the reader much to consider:

Gregg Easterbrook: What Happens When We All Live to 100:  If life-expectancy trends continue, that future may be near, transforming society in surprising and far-reaching ways.

Esekiel J. Emanuel: Why I Hope to Die at 75: An argument that society and families—and you—will be better off if nature takes its course swiftly and promptly.

This Is Discouraging…Unless You’re an O’s Fan

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Last night I was looking through the submissions for the 2014 MillersTime Baseball Contests (I really need to get a life) and came across these predictions, sent in on Feb. 25, 2014 by someone named Chris Eacho:

#1 – Red Sox in last at the AS break and trade 4 of their opening day starters at the deadline.

#2 – Orioles 103-59, World Series Champs

#3 – Nationals 92-70, lose to Os in WS

#4 – Yankees 66-95, Red Sox 65-96, series split 8-8. 19th game is rained out and not made up

#5 – Chris Davis .287, 119 RBI, 43 HR

#6 – Orioles over Nats in 6 games; Chris Tillman MVP with 2 complete game shutouts

Actually, I think I know the individual who submitted these outrageous and amazingly prescient (lucky?) predictions. He’s an Orioles’ fan (obviously), a Sox and Yankee hater, and belongs to the millennial generation (I think). I hope he’s wrong about the WS, but he seems to know something the rest of us don’t.

Harumph.

Sluggers’ Slump: What’s Going on Here?

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(Jacob deGrom Ties MLB Record, Strikes Out 8 Straight. Pix-USA Today)

Have you noticed how it seems hitting has been trumped by pitching in baseball, not only this year but for a number of years now?

With Red Sox in last place, 26 games behind the AL East winner Orioles, I have had a good deal of time to think about more than just my beloved team and their miseries. While I have enjoyed the Nats’ good season, it’s not the same as rooting for Boston.

Looking at some box scores a few weeks ago, I was struck by what seemed to me to be low batting averages, even of the best players for the best teams in baseball. In fact, when I looked at the six leading teams in all the MLB Divisions, only two clubs had anyone hitting over .300 (one of those two teams just had one player hitting .301, and he is now below .300).

I began looking at other statistics, going back as far as 2000. Here are just some of the things I found when I looked at every year from 2000-2014 (being retired and having a losing baseball team allows for spending time on such matters):

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“Last Days in Vietnam” – Mesmerizing

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Last Days in Vietnam ****1/2

Like many people of my generation, the Vietnam War was a major part of my late adolescence and young adulthood. For at least 10 years, rarely did a day go by without it occupying some part of my thinking about politics, about war, about my country, about my own role vis-a-vis the war. (I chose to go into the Peace Corps as a way of serving my country and followed that with high school teaching.)

Thus, I thought I knew a good deal about many of the aspects of that war, including the final days of the conflict.

And so I was quite surprised recently when I saw Rory Kennedy’s Last Days in Vietnam.

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Three Dilemmas. Please Advise.

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unnamed(Not shown: Multiple Red Sox tickets to win the 2014 Pennant & World Series.)

Dilemma #1:

The Facts: The Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles secured playoff positions last night in their respective MLB Divisions (NL East and AL East). Thus both have a shot at winning the 2014 World Series. I have been a Nats’ fan (a distant second, of course, to being a Red Sox fan) since they arrived in DC. I have rooted against the O’s for years, except when they play the Yankees. I hold two Las Vegas $10 bets. One for the Nats (payoff $110) and one for the O’s (payoff $260).

The Dilemma: Whom do I cheer for to win the World Series?

(Note: I also hold three $10 tickets for the Nats to win the 2014 Pennant. Total payoff for the three tickets, $145.)

Dilemma #2:

The Facts: On my Orioles’ WS ticket, I have written the name “Nelson” in the upper right hand corner of the ticket. Nelson is a friend who roots for the O’s and rubs it in when they beat the Sox. Nelson does not know I bought this ticket with him in mind.

The Dilemma: Do I inform Nelson I have the ticket, and do I give it to him?

Dilemma #3:

The Facts: I also bought a bunch (I’m embarrassed to say how many) of Sox tickets for them to win the 2014 Pennant and World Series. (If either the Nats’ or the O’s win the World Series, I can recoup the cost of most of my foolish Sox bets.)

The Dilemma: What do I do with all my useless Sox 2014 tickets.

Please advise.

 

DC Shorts – Film Festival

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Sundance, Toronto, Cannes, DC.

Which one doesn’t belong?

“DC,” you say?

True. But…

If you have interest in short films (two to 30 minutes), then you might know that Washington, DC is in its 11th year of holding a Film Festival dedicated to these kind of films. And the one in DC is beginning to make a name for itself, specifically, called “the coolest short film festival” by Movie Maker Magazine.

Alright. Perhaps I overstate, but if you like short films, which sometimes are precursors to film makers’ longer works and which sometimes are just delightful in and of themselves, then you’re in for a treat next week.

From September 11th-21st, you can see choose from 135 films (chosen from 1400 submissions) from 25 different countries. The 11-day fest is spread out through five venues in the DC-Virginia area. You can choose from 17 different 90 minute programs where each showing will screen between 7-9 short films.

Plus, you can watch 100 of these online if you prefer that method of viewing.

See the press release announcing the DC Short Film Festival for more details.

Recently it was dubbed as the “Coolest Short Film Festival” by MovieMaker Magazin – See more at: http://www.pamelaspunch.com/dc-shorts-film-festival-heads-into-its-11th-year-september-11-21/#sthash.nfBvBELA.dpuf
Recently it was dubbed as the “Coolest Short Film Festival” by MovieMaker Magazin – See more at: http://www.pamelaspunch.com/dc-shorts-film-festival-heads-into-its-11th-year-september-11-21/#sthash.nfBvBELA.dpuf

Also, check out their Website to learn about the various films and activities. Be sure to see the How to Guide if you want to plan to see some of these short films.

*                   **                   **                   **                   **                   *

Two films recently seen:

100-foot.119909_galThe 100-Foot Journey ***

Audiences apparently are enjoying this film more than the critics (Rotten Tomatoes 85%/65%). It is one of those ‘feel good’ movies, an adult fantasy of sorts.

Following the loss of their Mumbai restaurant, an Indian family settles in a small town in southern France where they open a new restaurant, Maison Mumbai. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, there is a Michelin one star restaurant just across the street.

I won’t say more about what unfolds, somethings are predictable, some are not, but there are good performances, led by Helen Mirren (Madame Mallory) and including Om Pur (Papa) and Manish Payal (Hassan Kadam).

If you’re looking for a movie to see before heading to an Indian restaurant, then you might enjoy this film as long as your expectations are not too high.

Actually, I think another film built around food, Chef ****, was more satisfying.

Richa Hill. 120124_galRich Hill ****

This documentary won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

It portrays the life of three adolescents in a small mid-western town over a period of a year and a half.

It is depressing.

It is probably also an accurate portrayal of what happens when you mix poverty, family dysfunction and a failing economy.

I also suspect it is a portrayal of a portion of our society that many of us never see or don’t really know.

But these are three adolescents I found ‘stayed with me’ after I left the 91 minute documentary, even though the film at times seemed long and unsatisfying.

Books & Reading: Alive and Well

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(Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post photo)

From what I saw and experienced on Saturday at the Washington Convention Center, books and reading are alive and well, at least in the DC area.

The Library of Congress’ National Book Festival, first started in 2001 and held on the Mall until this year, moved inside, and all indications are that it was a terrific move.

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If You Love Books…

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poster_enlarge…and if you are in or near Washington, DC this Labor Day weekend, you’re in for a treat.

The National Book Festival will take place this Saturday, August 30th, from 10 am – 10 pm, though doors open at 9 am.

And it’s all free.

Since it first began in 2001, it has been held on the Mall, but this year it has moved indoors to the Washington Convention Center.

The list of activities is impressive and includes more than 100 authors, book signings, lectures, panel discussions, activities for children, and the opportunity to meet some of your favorite writers.

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Three Movies to Consider

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I enjoy movies as readers of MillersTime no doubt know. Of late, however, there haven’t seem to be too many ones to recommend for your consideration.

Here are three, however, that on various levels I found enjoyable:

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“Ever Since Columbine…”

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A friend sent me the article linked to below.

Since many of you who ‘read’ MillersTime are (have been) teachers or have worked in education and many more of you are involved with schools in one way or another, I thought I’d pass along this wonderful example of what one individual is doing in her classroom.

It should only take you a few minutes to read.

Feel free to pass it on to others.

One Teacher’s Brilliant Strategy to Stop Bullying, by Glennon Doyle Melton.

Why Is President Obama Such a Polarizing Figure?

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My daughter asked me last weekend, “Don’t you think {President} Obama should go to Ferguson?”

I immediately said, “No. I don’t think he should.” And I talked briefly about the issue of local and state control. Although there was increasing tension and violence (on both sides), I didn’t believe it was the President’s role to go to the scene of the turmoil in that city.

But I also felt that Pres. Obama could not go, even if he wanted to.

For a variety of reasons, he has become a polarizing figure in our country. (See Why Obama Won’t Give the Ferguson Speech His Supporters Want).

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NYC in August

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It was Ellen’s idea.

“Let’s plan a trip in August to NYC,” she said. “It’ll be similar to our one-week-a-year trips to a foreign city.”

I was skeptical: “NYC in August?”

But then I”m a married man, and so we headed to NYC last Friday, returning home today, five nights, six days later.

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