Are Strike Outs Overated?

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Strike out

What really matters in determining how well a baseball team is performing?

Isn’t pitching supposed to trump (excuse me) hitting?

Didn’t the Sox spend gazillions of dollars to beef up their starting pitching and their relief pitching?

And aren’t strikeouts important?

So it’s only 22 games into the 162 game season, but a few things pop out if you follow the Sox:

  1. Their record is 12-10 which has them in second place in the AL East, 1.5 games behind the surprising Orioles.
  2. They are next to last in ERA (4.43), giving up 103 runs (98 earned), only Houston is worse in these pitching categories.
  3. They have struck out the most hitters in the AL, 223, but have also given up the most walks, 88.
  4. They only have six saves.

However,

  1. They have the highest hitting average in their league (.278), the most hits (218), the most doubles (63), the most triples (7), and the most RBIs (107).
  2. Most important in this area is they lead the league in runs with 114, 18 more than the second place Tigers and 19 more than the Orioles.
  3. So maybe their record of fewest home runs so far, 17 vs the Orioles 33, isn’t hurting their run scoring.

Plus,

  1. Their fielding has been pretty good as they are near the top of the league with a FPCT of .987 and only 10 errors.
  2. Their record in stealing bases tops the league, 20 (out of 22 attempts), and they’ve thrown out six of nine stolen base attempts.

It sure seems that hitting is trumping pitching, at least so far as the Red Sox are concerned in the early going of this season.

Actually, the most interesting thing about the season so far for me is something that Joe Posnanski, one of my favorite sports’ writers has highlighted — teams are striking out almost one out of every four times they are at the plate, the highest rate in the history of baseball, and, he writes, that’s not a bad thing.

Teams seem to believe, he says, “Hit the long ball. Steal bases at a high percentage. Draw walks. That’s still the winning formula.”

Strike outs overrated?

See Posnanski’s article Teams Are Striking Out More and That’s Not a Bad Thing.

Good Theater in DC

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Those of you who read MillersTime with some regularity may have noticed that I have not reviewed many movies of late. Because of extended grandparenting joys and duties, lots of travel, and the wonderful return of the baseball season, we have missed most of our 2016 Sunday morning Cinema Club films, the Miami Film Fest, the Jewish Film Fest, and the DC Film Fest. Plus, we haven’t even made it to a regular movie theater in what seems to be forever.

However, we have somehow seen a number of theater productions and want to draw to your attention two plays — both at Arena Stage — that might be of interest to those living in or coming to the DC metro area. The first is closing soon (May 8th), the second has just opened and will be here until May 29th.

All the Way ****

All the Way

Whether you see this play as a history lesson or because you were in someway ‘around’ during this time in our country’s history, you will not be disappointed. While I have some reservations about the play (see below), none of those have to do with the accuracy of this one year in the life of LBJ.

The play opens as Lyndon Johnson becomes an “accidental president” in Nov. of 1963 with the assassination of John Kennedy. It ends one year later with the landslide election of LBJ as president in his own right.

In between, we see all aspects of this 36th president, and playwright Robert Schenkkan, director Kyle Donnelly, and actor Jack Willis get LBJ just right. For those of you who were in Washington, I suspect the LBJ you see on stage will be the one you ‘knew.’ For those of you who know some of our country’s (recent) history (especially if you have read Robert Caro’s wonderful LBJ bios), you too will recognize this LBJ. For those of you who know the name LBJ as largely an historical figure, you’ll be treated to an engaging history lesson. For all of those who see All the Way, you will leave the theater with a better understanding of the man, how our government works, of the presidency, of politics, and of a particular time in our history.

The one year in the life of LBJ captured here portrays this president at the height of his power, at the most successful time in his life. In the process, it also explores the other players of the time – Martin Luther King, Hubert Humphrey, J. Edgar Hoover, Lady Byrd Johnson, Walter Jenkins, Richard Russesll, Robert McNamara, and others – and how LBJ used them both to hold the country together and to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (There is a second play, The Great Society, by the same playwright that portrays LBJ as he ends his presidency and returns to Texas, a time and a result very different from the successful portrayal here.)

This 2014 Tony Award (Best Drama) is both history and biography at its best.

I did have difficulty (physically) seeing Jack Willis as LBJ. So too with most of the other actors playing their roles as historical figures. (Others have told me they had no problems with that at all.)  Also, even though the Arena Stage production goes to great lengths to deal with the round stage (as opposed to a proscenium one), I found myself struggling to see and hear well when a particular actor had his or her back to me. And for me, not all of the actors were as effective or as skilled as Jack Willis in their depictions of the roles they were playing.

Nevertheless, if you can get to Arena Stage before May 8 (it will not be extended), consider doing so. The play is long (2 3/4 hours), but it nails that time in our history.

Disgraced ****1/2

Disgraced

When I first read Disgraced was coming to the Arena Stage, I read about it being a Pulitzer Prize winning play (2013) and about it being the most produced play in 2015 (30 theaters around the country and the world with another 20 theaters planning to produce it also).

Then I read on Arena’s Stage website the play was “about the clash between modern culture and ancient faiths. The son of south Asian immigrants, Amir has worked hard to achieve the American Dream — complete with a successful career, a beautiful wife and $600 custom-tailored shirts. But has he removed himself too far from his roots? And when a friendly dinner party conversation rockets out of control, will the internal battle between his culture and his identity raze all that he’s worked so hard to achieve? Hailed as “terrific, turbulent, with fresh currents of dramatic electricity” (New York Times), this incendiary examination of one’s self and one’s beliefs will leave you breathless.”

So it caught my attention, but somehow I did not realize that it was about being Muslim in America. I’m glad I didn’t realize that, as I might have chosen not to see it. And that would have been a pity. I would have missed so much.

Briefly, there are five characters (two couples and a younger man) who for 90 minutes (no intermission) on one set explore who they are below and beyond what they have already become. One, Amir, is the son of a Pakistani Muslim immigrant and has passed himself off as a Indian-American who has become an extremely successful lawyer in a Jewish law firm in New York City. His wife, a White-Protestant-American is an artist who is exploring Islamic imagery in her emerging, successful work. The second couple is an African-American woman, also a lawyer in the same law firm as Amir, and her husband who is a Jewish curator from the Whitney Museum. The fifth character is the young Muslim-American nephew of Amir.

As is often the case in stories set around a dinner table, there is much below the surface, and with that as a setting, the audience usually is witness to an unraveling in varying degrees. In this case, the playwright, Ayad Akhtar*, says Disgraced is “actually a melodrama-slash thriller-slash-agitprop-slash-tragedy.”

It’s all that and much more. While it’s primary focus is on Amir and who he really is, it is also about the other characters and who they are. It is about assimilation, about ethnic and identity confusion, and about losing your religion and your community. Additionally, it is about unintended consequences and about where our discourse and rhetoric can lead us.

It’s an intriguing play that grabs you both emotionally and intellectually and deserves discussion.

If you see Disgraced and want to spend an evening over dinner discussing it with us and others who have also seen it, let me know.

(*There is an excellent interview with the playwright that perhaps is best read once you’ve seen the play.)

Some Days Are Better Than Others

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Hats

Sometimes it’s a particularly good day for Sox and Nats fans…and not so good for Yankee and Orioles’ fans.

Sunday was one of those days.

We were at a Nats’ afternoon game that was mostly without excitement for the first eight or nine innings. Strasburg pitched well, except for one pitch (isn’t that often the case for pitchers?) where, although he struck out 10 batters over 7.1 innings, he gave up a three-run homer that broke up a tie game and put the Nats in a 4-1 hole.

Mostly the game was a pitchers’ duel (I enjoy those, but my wife, a fair weather fan — she only goes to games if the weather is fair — prefers more ‘action’). Then the Nats scored two in the 8th to come within one run of tying the game. In the 9th, boy wonder Bryce Harper, who was being given a day of rest (really necessary for a youngster like him?), pinch hit and of course slammed one out of the park to deepest center.

Tie game.

Extra innings.

We had to leave the park for grandparent duties but listened on the radio (still a wonderful way to follow baseball if the announcers are good) and later followed the action on our smart phones. The game went 16 innings before a mostly unknown player, Chris Heisey, who had replaced Harper after the 9th, hit a game ending home run, almost six hours after the 1:35 PM game had started.

GoNats.

As if that wasn’t enough baseball for one day, after we got home, I checked in on the Sox who were playing a Sunday night game. And that was almost a repeat of what happened with the Nats, tho the Sox game only went 12 innings and lasted a mere five hours.

The Sox were ahead 5-1, then 5-3, which they held from the end of the third until the bottom of the 9th, when their new, expensive, and highly touted closer, Craig Kimbrel, got two outs before giving up a double and then a home run.

Another tie game.

More extra innings.

Finally, in the bottom of the 12th, Sox back up catcher Ryan Hannigan had a 13-pitch at bat/walk before Jackie Bradley drove in Hanley Ramirez for the Sox lead. (Hannigan scored an insurance run when he then made it home on a wild pitch.) Sox used an unheralded reliever, Heath Hembree, and held in the bottom of the 12.th

Sox win.

Now it was just after 1 AM (I had moved from the bedroom to the study around midnight in order not to cause my fair weather wife any more loss of sleep and to preserve what was left of my marriage), and I was a bit hyped up. So of course I checked in on the Evil Empire Yankees and was pleased to see they had lost 8-1 and were now in last place. Plus, although A-Rod drove in the Yunkee’s one lowly run, he was now hitting a mere .148.

Then I checked on the current AL East surprise league leaders, the Orioles, and was delighted to see they had lost to the Royals, 6-1.

All in all, about 12+ hours of baseball, and all good.

Some days are simply better than others for obsessed baseball fans.

The Best Ethnic Restaurant Guide for the DC Area

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What does a professor of economics know about ethnic food?

Actually, this one, Tyler Cowen, is someone you should know about and follow, particularly if you live in the DC-VA-MD area (tho many of the things he has to say about eating out are applicable to cities and suburbs around the US).

Three years ago I blogged about Cowen on MillersTime (here and here), writing, “For those of you who know of Cowen, you are familiar with his penchant for seedy, small, ethnic restaurants in the DC area. How he finds all of them and still keeps his day job as an economist at George Mason University and his prolific writing output is beyond me. But he is a treasure, despite (or perhaps because of) his sometimes over enthusiastic reviews or his opinionated posts.”

If you don’t know about him and his Ethnic Dining Guide, you’re in for a wonderful find. Forget the Washington Post, the Washingtonian, Trip Advisor, or Zagats. Cowen is a one man eating machine who simply loves finding and reporting on local restaurants and grocery stores and has been doing so for almost 30 years.  I don’t think he earns any money from this love (his day job is at GMU where he’s the Director of the Mercatus Center for economic policy), but if you’re looking for the best, the most comprehensive guide (free) to ethnic restaurants in this area, check him out:

Tyler Cowen’s Ethnic Dining Guide* – April 2016. Start with this.

Tyler Cowen’s Ethnic Dining Blog – April 2016.  Also, check out this blog version because it often contains Cowen’s latest passions or finds.

Six Rules for Dining Out – Atlantic Monthly, May 2012. An article Cowen wrote a few years ago that contains some of his thinking about approaching eating out in general, ethnic, trendy, ‘top rated’ restaurants, etc.

(*Note. If Cowen gives a phone number for a restaurant, call it before you head out. In some cases, a restaurant may be closed or may have gone out of business and that is not always reflected in his massive list of area ethnic restaurants.)

PS – Update 4/26/16. I was reminded by a reader that one of the strengths of Cowen’s list is that he not only leads you to a restaurant you might not know, but he also gives advice about particular dishes to order. He believes it’s not just about choosing a restaurant but equally important is knowing what to order at that restaurant. His guide is certainly helpful in giving suggestions about what he has liked at particular restaurants.

Also, because Cowen has so many restaurants on his list (and he has a day job not related to food), he does not always have the latest info (Mixtec, in DC, for instance has now been closed for almost six months, and Masala Art, the Indian restaurant on Wisconsin Ave. in DC has gone down hill, perhaps a victim of too much success and the distraction of opening a second restaurant near Arena Stage.). That is a reason to check his blog and not only rely on the massive guide. He adds new ‘finds’ (check out his “Current Favorites” list on the right hand side of the home page of the blog), and he also sometimes updates reviews of previously recommended restaurants.

“The Secret History of Tiger Woods”

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tigerheadPhoto Illustration by Richard Roberts

I’ve never been too fascinated by golf and have often used the snarky quote, “It spoils a good walk,” to express my view of this ‘sport.’ (Mark Twain is quoted to have said, “Golf is a good walk spoiled,” although that quote apparently precedes Twain.)

But I have always been interested in the best players in any sport and will read about or even attend events other than baseball to see the likes of a Michael Jordan, Andre Agassi, Pele, etc.

Tiger Woods fits (or once did) into that category of best ever, and when he seemed to self destruct a few years ago, I wondered what the ‘back’ story was, why someone of his great abilities could fall so precipitously.

A long article I read several days ago about Tiger Woods — The Secret History of Tiger Woods by Wright Thompson — gives some insight that I had not previously had to this fallen, ‘best ever’ athlete.

Check it out: The Secret History of Tiger Woods, by Wright Thompson, ESPN, 4/21/16.

What do you think?

Sanders vs Clinton vs Democracy

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So much time, energy, and money is being spent (wasted?) on the primaries (and then the presidential election itself) that it’s tempting to tune out and perhaps not even participate in our elections at all.

Everyone I know and talk with is unhappy in one way or another with the candidates, with Congress, and with our political system. But if we don’t participate in some way, then we are part of the problem.

So for Democrats, what to do? There are legitimate arguments to be made for supporting either of the two candidates now vying for the nomination. Here are three recent articles that to me are worthy of the time it takes to read them.

Voting Without Illusions by Micah Sifry. For me, the strengths of this article are Micah’s points about the attention that must be paid beyond the presidential race.

Hilliary Clinton and the Complex System by Jack Danger. Choosing Clinton over Sanders.

There Is No Bernie Sanders Movement by Jamelle Bouie. For those who support Sanders, the need to be engaged beyond this campaign.

Your thoughts and comments are welcomed.

Grandparenting a New Born Is Exhausting

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Everyone knows about how tiring it is to have a new born in the family, what with sleep schedules that really are not schedules at all. Everyone has sympathy for the poor parents, especially the mother of the new born.

But what is it like for the grandparents? No one talks much about that.

In my continuing effort to inform readers of MillersTime about this ‘new’ station in life, see the two pairs of pictures below, taken in the middle of the day.

SLT.3            Grandpapa’s Eyes Are Open, but ten seconds later they are closed.                                    SLT.2Ditto for the grandmother.

Nonna’s Eyes Are Open, but ten seconds later they are closed too.

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PS:

And what about the newborn?

Despite her mother’s attempts to instruct her in the necessity of walking 10,000 steps a day, the one-month old chooses muscle building exercise.

SLT.5

Note to new mother from Grandpapa: Your precious princess told me she didn’t know what “walking” was nor did she know the word “steps.”

 

 

Watching Grandchildren

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I was reminded recently of how much fun it is to simply watch the little ones experience life.

We had taken our seven and five year old grandchildren to see the play Annie. They had seen the movie and had mixed feelings about going to the play. However, once the play started, they were captivated, and it was more fun watching them than watching the play.

theatre

The seven-year old was mesmerized, and you could see his emotions play out as the play progressed. The five-year old was seeing it differently. She was intensely focused and seemed to be trying to figure it all out. Her questions at intermission confirmed that, as she asked, in her own way, what was real and what was pretend.

The evening reminded me of two previously evenings.

About 30 years ago we took our daughter, the mother of these grandchildren, to see Annie when she was about the same age. At one point in the play Sandy, the dog, became separated from Annie, the orphan. As Sandy was wandering alone on the stage, our daughter started crying so loudly that we had to take her out of the theater. With some help from her mother, she was able to return after the intermission for the remainder of the play. We all remember that night vividly.

Then about 20+ years ago, there was another evening I will never forget. Our younger daughter was with her dance group in Moscow, and my father and I were traveling with the group also. One evening we were at the ballet, and my daughter and her friend were entranced by the dancers in Giselle. But what was even more memorable was watching my father watch his granddaughter. There were tears streaming down his face. And soon down my face too (son watching father watching his granddaughter, my daughter, watch the ballet).

E.S.

Now I have the wonderful pleasure of watching that same granddaughter (my daughter) with her new born, talking softly and soothingly to her child of one month. And once again, let me extol the virtues of watching one’s child become a parent. That’s even better than watching the new grandchild enter the world, which is pretty terrific too.

Plus, yesterday, I also had the pleasure of watching both the seven-year and five-year old hold the one-month old while my wife, grandmother to both, looked on delighted.

A.S

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And then lunch with the almost three year old:

Ryan

So many good memories from the past and ones being made today.

Two Things to Always Remember When Watching Baseball

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Of course there are many more than two things that baseball fans need to remember when watching the greatest game ever invented.

But, taking a ‘page’ from Art Buchwald’s wise reprinting each year of his le Jour de Merci Donnant, I want to remind those of you who pay attention to more than just the home runs and final score of games about two articles I have posted in the past:

Read This and You’ll Never Watch Baseball the Same Way Again

The Three Thoughest Outs in Baseball

And since I have your attention, once more let me remind you:

Don’t forget to get in your 2016 Baseball Contest Picks. Deadline is approaching One Week away as I type this.

I know most of you who have not sent in your predictions yet are simply waiting for Spring Training to be over so you’ll have all the information you need to make wise, judicious decisions. None of you, I’m sure, are procrastinators.

(Your next reminder will be a personal email from me with a few choice remarks.)

(Also, for those who may have missed it, this year, at the urging of several of you, I have made and posted my predictions for these Baseball Contests. I’m not eligible for any of the prizes, which is probably not an issue once you see my picks.)

Are You Sure You’ve Seen Them All?

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I initially chose MillersTime as the title of this website because I thought it described my newly retired status and defined what I wanted to write about — my varied interests and activities. (If you are want to know more about my interest in writing, see an earlier post, Why I Write.)

In my mind, “MillersTime” was a singular endeavor (Although I couldn’t figure out the mechanics of putting an apostrophe in the title, I like that it sounded a bit like my own newspaper). As it developed, I began to include, along with my travel writing, photos that Ellen (my wife) had taken of the trips.

For some of you, Ellen’s photos are one of the best aspects of MillersTime.

For those of you who have enjoyed Ellen’s photos from one or more of our various trips, I’m posting below a list of and links to all of her photo slide shows (in case you might have missed one or two).

Remember to use your largest possible screen (laptops and desktops are much better for these photos than smartphones, for example). Also, once you click on the link to a particular slide show, be sure to click on the tiny arrow inside the little rectangle at the top right of your screen to start the slide show.

Enjoy.

                                                  Thru Ellen’s Lens

Myanmar/Burma

Winter in Iceland

The Balkans

Weekend in Maine

Japan

Easter Island

Antarctica

Vietnam & Cambodia

India

England *

Scotland *

Slice of Sicily *

Peruvian Amazon *

Brasilia **

Santa Fe **

Berlin & Prague **

Warsaw & Krakow **

*Slide show work only on laptop or desktop computers.

**No slide show, just photos in the post.

H is for Hawk – Taming Grief?

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9780099575450-1-edition.default.original-1

(One of 10 Best Books of the Year, NY Times, Time Magazine, The Oprah Magazine, Library Journal, Amazon (20), etc., and also recommended by three MillersTime readers. Additionally, it was the winner of a number of prizes, including the Samuel Johnson Prize, the annual British prize for the best non-fiction writing in the English language and the Costa Book Award, one of the most outstanding books of the year written by authors based in UK and Ireland.)

I recently finished and was fascinated by the book H is for Hawk. Written by Helen MacDonald, it is a memoir about her grief at the loss of her father and the unusual way she ‘grieved’ in the year following his unexpected death.

Memoirs have always been a favorite form of non-fiction for me, especially well written ones, such as MacDonald’s. Generally, grief memoirs seem to take one of two forms: one written during the immediate time following the death of a spouse, parent, child, or friend or one written after the period of grief has passed. (One of my favorites of the first category is Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. For the latter category, and even more a favorite, I have read and reread Kay Redfield Jamison’s Nothing Was the Same.)

Written five years after her father’s death, MacDonald’s memoir falls into the latter category and recounts the extraordinary period of time in which she both lost and found herself.

H is for Hawk is actually three interwoven stories. It recounts the famous author T.H. White’s unhappy and unsuccessful experiences in trying to train a goshawk; it recounts MacDonald’s experiences with training her goshawk (Mabel) and attempting to deal with her grief, and it also tells the story of Mabel.

Of the three narratives, I found myself only moderately interested in White’s experiences, although they do give a good framework for MacDonald’s own experiences. Nor was I quite as absorbed in Mabel and the intricacies of falconry as some readers seem to be, although that is a large part of the H is for Hawk. For me, the most fascinating part of the memoir was MacDonald’s struggles with her grief, how she handled (mishandled?) that, and what she did and didn’t learn about herself and about her loss of her father.

As I usually do, I will leave the details and discoveries in the book to those of you who may yet read it.

HM.1I will add, however, that Ellen and I spent a wonderful evening last night at Politics and Prose Bookstore listening to and getting to know more about MacDonald. It was perhaps one of the best book talks we’ve attended. Within that one hour, we were treated to a wonderful summary of her book and numerous insights into MacDonald’s life, writing, and personality.

Some things we learned in the question and answer period:

  • Mabel has died. MacDonald now owns a parrot.
  • MacDonald is not currently ‘falconying,’ although she hopes to have time to return to it in the coming year.
  • Movie rights have been purchased to the book.
  • MacDonald was shocked by the wide spread response and success of her book and never dreamed it would have interest beyond a small audience.
  • It took her four days, which she described as very long, tiring, and emotionally draining, to make the audio recording of the book.
  • Writing about Mabel, even though done five years after the events recorded in the book, was the easiest part of the writing for her (and her best writing in my estimation).
  • MacDonald purposely left out the stories of her still living mother and brother, and even details about her father, as she didn’t want to tell their stories for them. The memoir is her story and her way to say goodbye to her grieving self.
  • H is for Hawk is a “language centered” book, in MacDonad’s words and also her way of telling the world about hawks and falconry.
  • MacDonald told the audience “Although they are killers, goshawks have no guile nor deceit and are honest and solitary.”

Much the same could be said of Helen MacDonald herself.

An Abuse of Power

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I suspect most readers of MillersTime, as well as most individuals who are concerned about the nomination and confirmation to the Supreme Court of Pres. Obama’s selection, have already settled in their mind where they stand on this issue.

My two cents is not so different from what I read in an Open Letter to Mitch McConnell by Kate Geiselman, someone I have never known. They key part of her view is toward the end of her very short, six paragraph letter:

The purpose of the confirmation process is not so you can wait for someone from your party to take office and pick a nominee you like better. No, the reason checks and balances exist is so that one branch of the government cannot abuse its power. By design, the system slows government down, and that’s as it should be. But deliberately forestalling the confirmation process of a moderate, qualified nominee who would likely sail through were it not an election year is not “checking” the executive branch. It’s ugly partisan politics.

Actually, I would take it a bit further.

It’s not just partisan politics. It’s obstruction, something Sen. McConnell has perfected in the last seven years.

It seems to me the bottom line is that the Republican Senate, because of their numbers, has the power to wait to advise and consent until a new President is elected, despite the fact that there are nine months remaining in the current President’s term (his second term).

But because someone or some group has a certain amount of power, that does not mean that exercising that power is the right thing to do. To deny the President and his nominee a hearing and a vote is an abuse of that power.

It’s that clear and simple to me.

Join Me for a Washington Nationals’ Game

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Below you’ll find a series of Washington Nationals’ dates and games available, either to join me or to get two seats to a game I cannot attend.

If you join me, your seat is free, but you’ll probably have to listen to my baseball chatter and maybe even buy me a bag of peanuts.

If it’s a game I can’t attend, then if you agree to take a kid (broadly defined) for one of the two seats, then both seats are free.

If the two seats are for two adults, then you can reimburse me at my cost, $55 per seat.

The seats are good ones, either in Section 127, between home and first behind the Nats’ dugout, 20 rows off the field or in Section 117, four rows behind the visitors dugout.

Let me know (Samesty84@gmail.com) as soon as you can what game(s) you are interested in attending (the more choices you give me the better). I will try to fit everyone in.  If nothing works out for these games, I’ll have another set of offerings (later in the season) with a number of seats for July, August, and September.

Update: Opening Day – Thursday, April 7, 4:05 PM – One Ticket, without me

  1. Sunday, April 10, 1:35 vs Marlins. Two seats. (I can’t attend).
  2. Wednesday, April 13, 7:05 vs Braves. One seat with me.
  3. Thursday, April 14, 4:05 vs Braves. One seat with me.
  4. Friday, April 22, 7:05 vs Twins. Two seats. (I can’t attend. Passover.)
  5. Sunday, April 24, 1:35 vs Twins. One seat with me.
  6. Wednesday, April 27, 7:05 vs Phillies. One seat with me
  7. Tuesday, May 10, 7:05 vs Tigers. One seat with me.
  8. Wednesday, May 11, 7:05 vs Tigers. One seat with me.
  9. Sunday, May 15, 1:35 vs Marlins. Two seats. (I can’t attend.)
  10. Tuesday, May 24, 7:05 vs Mets. One seat with me.
  11. Tuesday, June 28, 7:05 vs Mets. One seat with me.
  12. Sunday, July 3, 1:35 vs Reds. Two seats. (I can’t attend.)
  13. Sunday, July 17, 1:35 vs Pirates. Two seats. (I can’t attend.)

If there’s another/different game anytime in the season you have interest in that’s not listed here, let me know as I can possibly trade some parking passes with a friend to get that game and to go with you if I’m in town.

PS – Don’t forget to get in your 2016 Baseball Contest Picks. Deadline is approaching (see below). Submissions will not have any effect on getting one of the above games.

(Also, for those who may have missed it, this year, at the urging of several of you, I have made and posted my predictions for these Baseball Contests. I’m not eligible for any of the prizes, which is probably not an issue once you see my picks.)

My 2016 Baseball Predictions

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I avoided doing this ever since I began the MillersTime Baseball Contests for fear of showing my ignorance. But several of you have said I should stop hiding and show my baseball knowledge, or lack thereof.

Don’t take any of these predictions too seriously, and certainly, don’t be foolish enough to repeat them in your own 2016 predictions.

Speaking of which, we’re only about two weeks away from Opening Day and the deadline for your own submissions. Get to it.

Of course, I am not eligible for any of the prizes, but in the unlikely event that any of my own predictions would have won, I will send a MillersTime Winner T-Shirt to the next two contestants who send in their predictions following the posting of my predictions (March 15, 6 PM).

Contest #1: Predictions about a favorite team:

A. The 2016 Red Sox win-lose record – 88-74.

B. They will make the playoffs and lose in the ALDS.

C. The positive factors for their season will be outfield defense and bullpen efficiency. Starting pitching, although better than 2015, won’t get them to 90 wins.

Contest #2: Prediction about something in the 2016 MLB season:

No MLB player will play in all 162 games.

Contest #3:

A. The top 10 MLB players’ Batting Average will be .319, lower than the .322 in 2105.

B. The top 10 MLB players’ OPS Average will be .924, lower than .931 in 2015.

C. The top 10 MLB pitchers’ Earned Run Average will be 2.33, lower than 2.38 in 2015.

D. The top ten MLB pitchers will win a total of 188 games, higher than 183 games in 2015.

Contest #4.

A. Two teams with a combined won/loss record closest to .500 – Philles & Cubbies.

B. Team with the most won/loss improvement – White Sox,

C. Pitcher with most relief wins – Mark Melancon will edge out Craig Kimbrel and Trevor Rosenthal.

Contest #5. Who will get the most AL & NL All Star Votes:

AL – David Ortiz and NL – Giancarlo Stanton who will edge out Bryce Harper.

Contest #6. What 10 teams make it into the playoffs, which two to the WS and who wins it all?

AL – Kansas City, Houston, Chicago, Boston, Toronto

NL – Chicago, San Francisco, St. Louis, NYM, Arizona

Cubbies beat Royals

Extra Credit: Make up a question for the 2016 season and answer it:

Last year the total number of stolen bases in the MLB was 2,505. Will that number increase, stay the same, or decrease?  What will that number be?

Decrease – 2,412.

Respectfully submitted on The Ides of March, 2016 at 6:00 PM.

To see all contest details, go to 2016 MillersTime Baseball Contests

It’s Never Too Early…

Tags

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…to get them started.

(Turn up the sound on your computer and click on the headline below; you won’t be sorry.)

                              Grandson Knows What’s Important

Actually, on further reflection, I guess sometimes it may be too early to start the grand kid’s education. As can be seen in the photo below, when Grandpapa attempted to introduce three-day old Samantha Lauren to the importance of pitching over hitting, she slept through the entire lesson.

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Now, before you get all upset and consider calling Child Protective Services, know that I did something similar with my own daughters. And read what the mother of our newest grandchild wrote when she herself was 21 in 2004 (when the Sox won the World Series for the first time since 1918):

I guess it started with Mike Greenwell. And Roger Clemens. And Wade Boggs. Two of three of whom went on to serve the evil empire in their quest for baseball domination. Not an auspicious beginning, I’ll admit.  I’d come down for breakfast to study the previous nights scores because I knew I’d probably be quizzed on the box score on my way to school. It was my father’s fault. Some would call it indoctrination; hell, it’s probably a form of propaganda. But I didn’t care. I just wanted them to win. And sometimes I’d watch them win; sometimes I’d watch them lose. As long as they played, it didn’t really seem to matter to me.

But I soon realized that by virtue of being a Sox fan I’d have to accept heartache. And not just in an “oh our team sucks every year” kind of way, but in “oh our team is so close every year” kind of way. Trust me — it’s a lot easier to finish 15 games out of 1st place than watch Aaron Boone clock one of the left field wall.

It’s hoping you never have to say “next year”.

It’s not being comfortable with a six-run lead in the 7th inning.

It’s knowing that bullpen by committee was dead from the start.

It’s knowing when vintage Pedro comes to pitch, he will fuck you up.

It’s knowing that the most contentious issue in your parents’ relationship is the fact that your father listens to the game full blast in the study late at night.

It’s checking bostondirtdogs.com every day in the off-season.

Being a Sox fan prepared me for disappointment; it taught me that there are some things that no matter how badly you want something, sometimes you just can’t make it happen. I think my perspective on life has truly been shaped by the virtue of my fanaticism for baseball. It’s taught me that life isn’t fair, you don’t get what you want, and other people can just be downright heartless.

So this year, can I finally rejoice in our successes? (And I say “our” because I feel as though I’ve truly deserved a spot on the roster). Yes, but I couldn’t do so without a little acknowledgement to my father. It would not be an exaggeration to say I owe it to my father. I mean I blamed him for the heartache for all the years right, so if I don’t give credit now, I probably never will. If it weren’t for him, I’d probably be like every other girl, trying to figure out the difference between a curve ball and a change up. Or not be the kind of girl who gets into arguments with strangers on the 4 train about why Jason Varitek is a better catcher than Jorge Posada. I’m glad they won it for me, but deep down I’m glad they won it for him.

More than anything, my father taught me to believe. And not just in the Red Sox, but in myself. Because if my team can come back from down 0-3 to the Yankees, and sweep the Cardinals in the World Series, really, there is no such thing as never.

I guess in the end, my obsession ultimately taught me that good things do come to those who wait. So I sit back and say to the rest of Major League Baseball, sit down; wait ‘till next year.