Why Some of Us Love Baseball


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Grind: Extra Fine (Small Circles & Effect: High Contrast), Brew: Color Gels (1/2 Pic & Full Blended Circles), Serve: Stirred (Flash Burn Tone & Brown Bag Texture)

Great playoffs already.

Starting with two thrilling Wild Card games, moving on thru the losses of my beloved Sox and adopted Nats in their Division series, and to Indians and the Cubs deserved wins in the Championship series, we’ve already seen wonderful playoff baseball.

And tonight to the World Series, where along with the rest of the baseball world — except those who live in Cleveland and those who are related to the players and staff of the Indians — I too hope the Cubs win it all and give relief to all those who have suffered for the past 108 years.

(I know something about what it means to win the WS after decades and decades of failing to do so. Among so many other things, it means that no matter what happens in the next decade and beyond, the Cubs fans will not have to put up with the albatross any longer. The constant failure will be over, and they will never again have to be careful of sharp instruments and high places when/if the Cubs don’t make it to or through the WS. Although my wife would not agree, I find it much easier to ‘accept’ a Sox loss or failure to win throughout the playoffs — tho the fact that they won two more WS in the decade following their 2004 win may also have some impact on that ‘change’ in my behavior.)

If the baseball Gods are paying attention, then the Cubs should win because they’re the best team in baseball this year, and not (just) because of their long and tortuous drought.

And since baseball is about the fans as much or even more than it is about the players who come and go, then the time the Cubs fans have spent caring about their team will make this World Series win even sweeter than the Sox one in 2004 if that is possible. (Shades of the Little Prince caring for his rose.)

The Crowd

PS – After writing the above, I happened to see that one of my favorite sports writers, Thomas Boswell, has a good column in today’s WaPo on this very issue where in he writes the the Cleveland fans know about this too, having spent decades, 68 years to be exact, without a WS win. See: Cubs-Indians World Series Shows What Fans Long Have Known. Life Is Suffering.

“We Need to Have Our Stories Told”


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Thanks to a Facebook post last night by Anna G, I’ve read and reread an article by a woman from Kansas, Sarah Smarsh, published in The Guardian which makes a case that “Trump supporters are not the caricatures journalists depict.”

In her article, Smarsh urges readers to “be aware of our class biases…as we discern who they are.” She believes that the media has largely missed this story and writes:

What we need is to have our stories told.

It’s not a short article, but I believe it is worthy of the time it will take you to read it:

Dangerous Idiots: How the Liberal Media Failed Working-Class Americans.

28 Hours & 34 Minutes


After she carefully watched us grand parent her sister’s three children for almost eight years, daughter Elizabeth decided she could leave her almost eight month old Samantha with us over night (28 hours and 34 minutes as it turned out). She was scheduled to run in a half marathon a couple of states away, and her husband, son-in-law Brandt, was scheduled to be away in California during that time for his work (with the Kansas City Chiefs).

Thus, we found ourselves in KC this past Friday, reviewing Samantha’s schedule and receiving instructions from both Elizabeth and Brandt as to what we could expect and what they expected us to do. Actually, they both seemed remarkably calm for first time parents leaving the first born overnight. True, we had raised our own children with minimum of damage, but that was more than three decades ago. And, we had ‘taken care’ of Samantha for up to 12 hours, but never overnight. Still, compared to the “Miller Bible,” the 22 page outline we had drawn up for my sister 35 years ago when she was taking care of our daughters, Elizabeth and Brandt’s instructions seemed almost derelict. Other than a 12-step process to be followed for putting Samantha to bed at night and an outline of what and when we were to feed the child prodigy, it only took about an hour of instruction (with shorthand note taking).

The big day was Saturday, and we weren’t the least bit nervous. The only concern we had was about something called the “Nest,” which was a video camera in Samantha’s room that both Elizabeth and Brandt could access from California and Nebraska via wifi. They could check on Samantha (and us?) for at least 20 of the 28 hours we were in charge — that was the estimated time she would be in her room, in her crib. No way we could pretend or fake it and claim everything had gone well — if it didn’t —  with that kind of surveillance. We knew both Samantha and her grandparents would be watched carefully by both Elizabeth and Brandt.

11:30 AM – Elizabeth finally left after assuring Samantha she would return the next day. Samantha didn’t seem concerned. Actually, she was more concerned with trying to hold the bottle I was trying to encourage her to do.

11:45 AM – We put Samantha in her fancy stroller and took her next door to our apartment (together with Samantha’s other grandparents, we’ve rented a small apartment two doors down from where where she currently lives with her parents). We left her  (36 inches away) in her stroller out on the balcony while we hung pictures. She seemed quite interested with the goings and comings on Main Street.

12:45 PM – While we were trying to feed her spinach, potatoes and some tiny cut up chicken (like putting toothpaste back in its tube), we both clearly heard her say, “No!”  A few moments later she said, “Mama!”  Then she said it again. These were her first words, tho we couldn’t get her to repeat them. Nor was it clear that she had any idea of what they meant! But it did lead to the following text messages (lightly edited) between us and her parents:


12:47 -1:30:

Brandt: Is Samantha walking yet?

Us: That was going to be our surprise.

Brandt: We expect her to achieve a growth milestone while we are gone…reading would be nice.

Elizabeth: High SAT scores.

Us: No problem.

Us: Guess what S’s first word was? Said very clearly.

Elizabeth: Chipotle?

Us: Next guess.

Brandt: Four letters? Begins with an F.

Elizabeth: Chiefs.

Us: That’s six letters. Think smaller.

Elizabeth: Are you saying Samantha is not advanced?

Brandt: No.

Us: Father knows best.

Brandt: I have a feeling she’ll be saying that a lot.

Us: We were feeding her and told her to “open,” and then very clearly we heard, “No!”

Us: She’s advancing very quickly since you left. Not supposed to get into the no’s until she’s two years old.

Brandt: Need her to start reading…I’m tired of always reading books to her.

Brandt: Her being Elizabeth of course.

Us: Second word, also very clearly?

Elizabeth: Chipotle.

Brandt: Go Sox.

Us: Next guesses. Repeated several times.

Elizabeth: Chiefs.

Us: “Mama!”

Elizabeth (on her way to Omaha): Turning the car around.

Us: Think she was trying to tell us something: No Mama.

Us: One “technical” question. Do we use both sound machines in her room for her nap as well as bedtime?

Elizabeth: Yes please!

Us: Got it.

Us: She went to sleep without a peep.

Brandt: You’ve scared her enough that she wants to be alone…that’s my strategy too.

Elizabeth: She knew I wasn’t coming back and was too depressed to fight it.

Us: Neither. She was just tired from our outing and her time on the balcony at our apartment.

3 PM. Following her nap and a bottle with Grandpapa, Ellen took her for a stroll and to a modern art gallery around the corner, where she seemed quite taken with the huge colored canvases. Then to a local coffee shop where Nonna instructed her repeatedly to “Wake up and smell the coffee!”

Then another texting exchange:

Ellen: Just FYI, you left us with a damaged baby. Diaper rash. Attending studiously to it, just sayin’.

Elizabeth: Seriously? Use triple paste

Ellen: Yes. Am doing that with all changes.

Elizabeth: Is she upset?

Me: Not in the least.

Ellen: Sorry to report not at all.

Elizabeth: OK good! Poor tushy.

Ellen: She doesn’t seem to notice.

Elizabeth: Great. Can I get another picture?

4:11 PM: Down for another nap (her mother is convinced that for a healthy start in life Samantha needs a lots of naps, a sleep schedule, and 12 hours of sleep at night). We followed instructions.

4:59 PM: Samantha didn’t seem to see the need for this nap, but she managed to entertain herself and so we left her for the requisite time. She seemed delighted to see us when we rescued her. And we spent 30 minutes unsuccessfuly trying to teach her to sit up.


5:15-6:20 PM: Another stroll, including dining alfresco, for both Samantha (pears, sweet potato and peas) and us. We got back home just a bit late for starting “THE NIGHT TIME RITUALS,” which include in the following EXACT order:

  1. Bottle (8 oz.)
  2. Diaper change and triple cream
  3. Leg massage.
  4. Discussion of what Samantha and we were thankful for today.
  5. Clean PJs.
  6. Two songs (Twinkle Twinkle and Five Little Monkeys (both rehearsed on Friday night with Brandt). Note Brandt sometimes sings different songs
  7. Reading a story.
  8. Turn on both noise machines.
  9. Wrestle Samantha into her ‘sleep sack.’
  10. A few more gentle words.
  11. Lights out and all the blackout curtains properly in place.

There was a 12th step, but whatever it was, we failed to do it.

6:53 PM: Only 23 minutes off Elizabeth’s schedule. Then we were out of the room, watching on the “Nest” to see what would happen.

7:07 PM: No further movement. High fives between the grand parental unit.

8:11 PM: We head to bed.


4:30 AM: I think I hear some squeaking, but the Nest is on the other side of the bed where Ellen is sound asleep (similar to what use to happen when we were raising our own kids).

5 AM: Not able to sleep any longer, tho I don’t hear anything further from Samantha’s room, I move to the living room and read. (Later, Elizabeth tells us she ‘observed’ Samantha up briefly in the 5:30-6 time range.)

6:53 AM: First clear signs I hear that Samantha is truly awake (EXACTLY 12 hours from the moment we left her room the previous evening. I guess she’s got the message from her mom that she is to sleep for 12 hours.)

The rest of Sunday was a breeze, although we almost forgot to dress Samantha in her Chiefs’ outfit for the afternoon game against the Raiders. Fortunately, Brandt realized that mistake as he was looking carefully at the “Nest,” and we were able to correct that terrible oversight prior to the 3 PM kick off. (Ellen had been planning on that as the next outfit she would wear, seeing as how every two hours she thought that Samantha needed a change of clothes.)

Elizabeth returned a little after 4 PM, clearly having missed Samantha more than Samantha had missed her. But once Samantha realized her mommy had returned, she ‘followed’ her with her eyes for the next two and a half hours before her 6:30 bedtime, almost as if to say, “I’m not letting you out of my sight again.”

Oh. And importantly, the Chiefs won, beating the 4-2 Raiders in a well played and well coached game. And Elizabeth and her friend successfully completed the half marathon in Omaha.


“How Trump Happened”


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How Trump Happened by Joseph E. Stiglist

NEW YORK – As I have traveled around the world in recent weeks, I am repeatedly asked two questions: Is it conceivable that Donald Trump could win the US presidency? And how did his candidacy get this far in the first place?

As for the first question, though political forecasting is even more difficult than economic forecasting, the odds are strongly in favor of Hillary Clinton. Still, the closeness of the race (at least until very recently) has been a mystery: Clinton is one of the most qualified and well prepared presidential candidates that the United States has had, while Trump is one of the least qualified and worst prepared. Moreover, Trump’s campaign has survived behavior by him that would have ended a candidate’s chances in the past.

So why would Americans be playing Russian roulette (for that is what even a one-in-six chance of a Trump victory means)? Those outside the US want to know the answer, because the outcome affects them, too, though they have no influence over it.

And that brings us to the second question: why did the US Republican Party nominate a candidate that even its leaders rejected?

Obviously, many factors helped Trump beat 16 Republican primary challengers to get this far. Personalities matter, and some people do seem to warm to Trump’s reality-TV persona.

But several underlying factors also appear to have contributed to the closeness of the race. For starters, many Americans are economically worse off than they were a quarter-century ago. The median income of full-time male employees is lower than it was 42 years ago, and it is increasingly difficult for those with limited education to get a full-time job that pays decent wages.

Indeed, real (inflation-adjusted) wages at the bottom of the income distribution are roughly where they were 60 years ago. So it is no surprise that Trump finds a large, receptive audience when he says the state of the economy is rotten. But Trump is wrong both about the diagnosis and the prescription. The US economy as a whole has done well for the last six decades: GDP has increased nearly six-fold. But the fruits of that growth have gone to a relatively few at the top – people like Trump, owing partly to massive tax cuts that he would extend and deepen.

At the same time, reforms that political leaders promised would ensure prosperity for all – such as trade and financial liberalization – have not delivered. Far from it. And those whose standard of living has stagnated or declined have reached a simple conclusion: America’s political leaders either didn’t know what they were talking about or were lying (or both).

Trump wants to blame all of America’s problems on trade and immigration. He’s wrong. The US would have faced deindustrialization even without freer trade: global employment in manufacturing has been declining, with productivity gains exceeding demand growth.

Where the trade agreements failed, it was not because the US was outsmarted by its trading partners; it was because the US trade agenda was shaped by corporate interests. America’s companies have done well, and it is the Republicans who have blocked efforts to ensure that Americans made worse off by trade agreements would share the benefits.

Thus, many Americans feel buffeted by forces outside their control, leading to outcomes that are distinctly unfair. Long-standing assumptions – that America is a land of opportunity and that each generation will be better off than the last – have been called into question. The global financial crisis may have represented a turning point for many voters: their government saved the rich bankers who had brought the US to the brink of ruin, while seemingly doing almost nothing for the millions of ordinary Americans who lost their jobs and homes. The system not only produced unfair results, but seemed rigged to do so.

Support for Trump is based, at least partly, on the widespread anger stemming from that loss of trust in government. But Trump’s proposed policies would make a bad situation much worse. Surely, another dose of trickle-down economics of the kind he promises, with tax cuts aimed almost entirely at rich Americans and corporations, would produce results no better than the last time they were tried.

In fact, launching a trade war with China, Mexico, and other US trading partners, as Trump promises, would make all Americans poorer and create new impediments to the global cooperation needed to address critical global problems like the Islamic State, global terrorism, and climate change. Using money that could be invested in technology, education, or infrastructure to build a wall between the US and Mexico is a twofer in terms of wasting resources.

There are two messages US political elites should be hearing. The simplistic neo-liberal market-fundamentalist theories that have shaped so much economic policy during the last four decades are badly misleading, with GDP growth coming at the price of soaring inequality. Trickle-down economics hasn’t and won’t work. Markets don’t exist in a vacuum. The Thatcher-Reagan “revolution,” which rewrote the rules and restructured markets for the benefit of those at the top, succeeded all too well in increasing inequality, but utterly failed in its mission to increase growth.

This leads to the second message: we need to rewrite the rules of the economy once again, this time to ensure that ordinary citizens benefit. Politicians in the US and elsewhere who ignore this lesson will be held accountable. Change entails risk. But the Trump phenomenon – and more than a few similar political developments in Europe – has revealed the far greater risks entailed by failing to heed this message: societies divided, democracies undermined, and economies weakened.

(Joseph E. Stiglitz was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001 and is University Professor at Columbia University. The article above was published today in Project Syndicate.)

I Voted ‘Twice’ Today


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I voted today (absentee ballot) for Hillary Clinton for President.

As I wrote in an earlier post about the DC Primary, this choice was an easy one to make. She is by far the most prepared, most serious, most competent, and most experienced of the two candidates. This vote is not simply a “lesser of two evils” choice. While I see and know her weaknesses and ethical challenges, putting this country’s future in her hands is the only rational choice to make.

In voting for Clinton, I am also actively voting against Donald Trump. If you look at his supporters, he has clearly tapped into an unrest that pervades this country. He has correctly identified that the political establishment — Democrats and Republicans — have largely chosen to serve the interests of those who have access to power and influence in government and not to those who are struggling.

However, Trump has also demonstrated, in so many ways, that he is both unprepared to be President and that he would be a dangerous choice.  Without going into detail (no doubt the reader has his/her own list), it is clear that he has both traded upon and unleashed hatred, intolerance, and encouraged violence. We cannot afford to have a man with Trump’s temperament entrusted with the powers delegated to the leader of our country.

Not voting or voting for one of the two third-party candidates is not an option as I believe that simply throws away a vote. See my earlier post on this point, There’s No Such Thing as a Protest Vote.

For me, and for our country, Clinton is easily the best choice. And to back up my vote, I will go to Ohio from Nov. 4-8 to help with a Get Out the Vote campaign.

This Comment Deserves Responses


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davis_st2232_spts-15912-8840Sports Fans,

Long time contributor David Price (not the Sox pitcher) recently left a Comment on MillersTime website that I think should to be taken seriously and deserves considered and considerate responses.


David wrote:

I wasn’t going to write anything to prevent controversy but, being the conscientious Yankee fan that I am, I decided that perhaps now is a good time to remind the Red Sox diaspora and followers of our nations pastime, a ‘home truth’ or two concerning your beloved Big Papi.

As Mr. Ortiz finally enters the twilight of his controversial career and audiences around the country pay homage to his 24 years in the big leagues, the following post from CBS does present a valid argument which (I believe) still remains unanswered?


By contrast – and as everyone will remember – Alex Rodriquez, who was annihilated by MLB, supporters of the game and in some respects, his own management for alleged misdemeanors relating to PED’s. Time was served – the rest is history.

Amusingly at the time of Alex’s downfall, MLB’s self-imposed regulators of the game (i.e. Boston Red Sox fueled by their biggest ally – the infuriatingly biased and unwatchable ESPN) acted as Judge, Jury and executioner to what he had supposedly done. Who can forget that lowlife Ryan Dempster being instructed to pitch ‘behind’ Arod in 2013 with only Joe Giradi getting ejected for protesting? I recall the deranged Kurt Shilling broadcasting something along the lines of ‘Arod deserves what’s coming to him’!

So why is nothing EVER said by Sox fans about Big Papi being guilty of ‘juicing’? He owned up to it for goodness sake! Are sports fans – especially those in Boston – that fickle to believe what they want to believe regardless of fact? I just don’t get it? Aren’t these double-standards or am I losing my sanity?

As ever, it would be interesting to hear what those along ‘Yawkee Way’ or from the depths of despair in Southie have to say in response to my question. A reply of ‘Oh C’mon man – its Big Papa!’ will not suffice.

Sadly in this life, whoever you are, you can’t have it both ways.

Things to See & Do


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A bit of a hodgepodge of activities that might be of interest, both in DC and beyond this beltway.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time*****

the-curious-incident-of-the-dog-in-the-night-time-limited-edition-official-opening-night-playbillThis outstanding play, based on a wonderful book, is about to open in DC at the Kennedy Center (Oct.5-23). We saw the original production in London and then a second one in NYC. Though there were some differences, both were terrific theater, and I suspect the DC production will be worth your time. It not only tells an engaging story, it also gives you an understanding of what it can mean to be autistic. The NY production won five Tony Awards in 2015 including Best Play.

The National Book Festival*****

Nationa Book FestivalAnother event in DC. I wrote about this earlier (see Save the Date). It’s a one-day celebration of reading and writing, with events for everyone in the family and anyone who enjoys books and authors from the young to the old. It’s only here for one day, Saturday, September 24. Over the years this festival has grown, been moved indoors from the Mall, and now covers several floors of the DC Convention Center.



09sully-master768This film is now in major movie theaters around the country. It’s the story of Chesley Sullenberger’s “Miracle on the Hudson.”  ‘Sully’ was the pilot who landed the USAirways Flight 1549 in and on the Hudson River in 2009 with no loss of life to the 155 passengers and crew. What’s best about the film is Tom Hanks’ performance as Sullenberger. (Aaron Eckhart’s’ portrayal of Sully’s co-pilot Jeff Skiles is also quite good, as is the re-enactment of the emergency landing and the rescue of all on board). What’s not so good is director Clint Eastwood’s exaggeration of the role of the National Transportation Safety Board. In an attempt to create tension and add to Sullivan’s role, Eastwood plays up a conflict  that was not really as central as its made out to be (dramatic license gone awry?). Still, a film worthy of being seen at a time when there’s not much else out to see. See the contrasting reviews of the film for yourself.

The Trump Card

This one man show by Mike Daisey (of The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs) is returning to DC’s Woolly Mammoth Theater for the third time, Oct. 25-30th. (Disclosure: The Trump Card is directed by Isaac Butler, the son of good friends.) It will be at this DC theater from October 25-30, and tickets go on sale to the public on September 26th. See A Dark Theory of Trump from One Performer to Another and Mike Daisey Plays the Trump Card.

Survival Expo & Gun Show:gunshowOn a morning ‘walk’ with our seven-month old granddaughter today in Kansas City, I noticed a large billboard touting “Survival Expo & Gun Show, Oct. 1-2 at the KCI Expo Center.” Googling it reveals this is only one of a number of Prepper Shows on this theme around the US. The Expo includes “100s of booths of survival and preparedness gear” and seminars on these topics.

Where’s Waldo Now?


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This time, you’re going to have to work harder to find me. (In a previous post, it was ‘quite clear’ where ‘Waldo’ was.)

A MillersTime Baseball Contest Winner T-Shirt to the first person who backwinner-150x150finds me in the crowd at last nights Sox 5-2 win over the Os at Camden Yards.

Ortiz hit a three run homer (after missing one by a few inches in his previous at bat), and the Sox fans, including yours truly, raised their arms and cheered once again.

Update: 9/22/16:

Not surprisingly, I suppose, my daughter Elizabeth spotted me within four minutes of the posting, accurately saying, “Middle left. White shirt, beard, grey hat. Too easy…Your bracelet gives it away.”

She was followed shortly by her husband Brandt who, first got it wrong, as did many of you when he said, “Right fist in air wearing blue and red striped shirt.” But he quickly recovered and wrote, “White t-shirt with the right side of your body cut off.”, adding snarkly, “That’s an unfair question. Waldo was never cut off by the end of the page.” He then demanded I send the T-shirt prize as a onsie for his six month old daughter Samantha (She’s actually a few days from being seven months old.)

And then I heard accurately from my other son-in-law, Edan, who somehow circled the picture and drew arrows to it (how’d he do that?).

Of course, it would not be fair for any of those three to win, being so called family.

The next accurate sighting was from Steve Feldman of Beltmont, MA who wrote, “Upper left of the photo – the right half of your body is cut off.”

So a prized MillersTime Baseball Winner T-Shirt will be on its way to Steve shortly.

Thanx to all who participated.

Dear Samantha


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Processed with Snapseed.

Dear Samantha,

From time to time I’ve written a ‘letter’ to your oldest cousin, Eli, usually to tell him something about an obsession of mine — baseball — which is a game that has many similarities to life (more about that another time).

While I know you can’t read just yet, as you’re not even seven months old, I still think it’s never to early for me to begin talking to you about some of the important things a grandfather has learned and can pass on to his grandchildren. (You may remember in the first week of your life I talked to you about the importance of pitching over hitting, another subject to which I will return to in the future.)

This letter today, which I trust your good mother or good father will read to you, is similar to one I wrote to Eli in April of 2015 (see Letter to Eli: Never Leave Until It’s Over). What prompts me to write you at this time is something that happened last night in Boston.

Our heroes, the Boston Red Sox (also known as the Sox) were on the verge of losing to our most despicable opponent, the New York Yunkees. The odds makers said that the Sox chance of winning this game was now less than 2%. It was an important game as the Sox were barely in first place in the American League East Division, and the Orioles, the Blue Jays, and the Yunkees were closing in on them. (Ask your parental unit about any of these details that you don’t totally yet understand.)

The Yunks were ahead of us 5-2 in the bottom of the ninth, and there were two outs. One more out and we’d lose and our grip on first place would be in further jeopardy. The Yunks had their closer in the game, a guy who throws the ball at 100 miles per hour. Things looked dire for the Sox.

Then, David Ortiz (ask your cousin Eli abut him) got a hit and drove in a run, but  the Sox were still behind (5-3 now) with two outs. Mookie Betts, (Eli knows about him too), the young Sox phenom, then got a hit, and the score closed to 5-4.

Still, just one out would have clinched the game for the Yunks.

With two men on base, and with a batting count of two balls and one strike, Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez crushed a 99.3 mph fastball 426 feet to straight away center field, and the Sox walked off (ran off) the field with a 7-5 win.

An amazing comeback and probably the best win of the year for the Sox and a disaster for the Yunks, who now, rather being only three games out of first, were five games behind our heroes. (See this article if you want more details about the game.)

The lesson, of course, that I want to emphasize about this victory is that the Sox didn’t give up, even when everything looked hopeless. The Boston fans (the game was at Fenway) all stayed until the very end. And of course I stayed with the game hoping for a miracle come-from-behind-win.

So, never, ever, leave a game until the final out, no matter how bad it seems. Even with two outs and facing a flame throwing pitcher who is good at getting strikeouts, there is always a chance for victory.

(I know, when you were two months old, your mother dragged you away from your first baseball game in KC after the second inning because she was concerned about the effect of loud noise on your ears. So it’s probably OK, if on a rare occasion, for reasons beyond YOUR control, you may have to leave a game early. For example, there could be a medical emergency in your immediate family that only you can solve. You may have promised your spouse that this time you’d be home before midnight. Or your presence might be required at some other emergency involving your child or your work. Those may be understandable and partially excusable reasons for leaving a game early.)

But never, ever leave because you think the game is all but over and your team doesn’t have a chance of winning.

The game, in baseball, as in other areas of your life, is not over until the final out is recorded.



Where’s Waldo?


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jn3_50761473893470Washinton Post Photo/Check out the crowd.

I was too busy watching the pitcher’s duel in DC yesterday between the Nats’ Tanner Roark (who has thrown seven scoreless innings nine times this year) and the Mets’ Robert Gsellman to watch the one between the Sox Ric Porcello (20-4) and the O’s Kevin Gausman.

Both were terrific games, both won on one mistaken pitch (or just good hitting), and both final scores of 1-0.

So the Nats’ magic number’ is seven (combination of Nats’ wins/and or Mets’ losses) for winning their Division and heading to the playoffs.

The Sox are currently in first place by just one game and are in a four way race with the Os, Blue Jays, and Yunkees.

Still, for a team that was in last place in their Division last year, 15 games out of first, the Red Sox Nation has to be pleased with their being in the race this late in the season.

I love baseball (beisbol).

A Seven Year Olds’ First Trip to Fenway Park


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This trip to Boston and Fenway Park with my seven year old grandson Eli was not my idea.

You may not believe that, but you can check with his parents (my daughter and son-in-law), and they will confirm that Eli raised the idea with them, asking, “When is GrandPapa going to take me to see Fenway Park?”

It is true that I had introducedimg_0025 him to baseball with a trip to see the Washington Nationals when he was seven months old. And it’s true I talk endlessly about the Red Sox around him, and we did complete a 500 (or was it 1,000 ?) piece jigsaw puzzle of Fenway Park.

But it’s also true he has become a Nats’ fan first, and the Sox are only his second favorite team.

I don’t care about that. I just love having him sit in my lap and talking nonstop to him at any game about what we’re seeing.

And tradition’s important in my life and in our family. So, of course, I needed to take him to Boston.

Background: At least 60 years ago, probably closer to 65 years, my grandfather took me to Fenway Park and introduced me to that temple and to what became my obsession with the Sox. In fact, the best week of every year for me was when school let out in June in Florida where I lived at the time, I’d go to Boston for a week prior to going to camp in New England. Pappy would take me to Fenway for batting practice before the game. He had wonderful seats a few rows behind the Sox dugout. And as I ‘remember’ it, sometimes players would say to him, “Pops, where were you last night? You weren’t here.” That’s pretty heady stuff for a 7-10 year old, especially when it was likes of Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, Billy Goodman, Jimmy Piersall, etc. who would be talking to my grandfather.

(Aside 1: My sister recently reminded me that on one of those early trips I held a ball out to Ted Williams when I was at Fenway with Pappy, and the Splendid Splinter refused to sign it. Somehow, I got over that disappointment and have admired Williams’ ability to hit a baseball all my life.)

(Aside 2: I had good practice for the trip with Eli. Ask either of my daughters, who attended many games with me in Boston, some even voluntarily. And if you haven’t  read this email that my daughter Beth/Elizabeth wrote the night the Sox won the World Series in 2004, stop now and check it out.)

elidcThus, with no reluctance and a good deal of advanced planning, Eli spent the night with us last Monday so we could catch an early flight to Boston on Tuesday. I had arranged a room at the Commonwealth Hotel, which has recently added rooms overlooking the back of Fenway and the Green Monster. Additionally, I got seats for two games, one directly behind home plate, just below the press box, and those tickets came with access to the field for batting practice and time up in the Green Monsters seats. For the second game, I got seats as close to where Pappy had his seats 65 years ago behind the Sox dugout.

(Aside 3: When I told Eli we were going to sit where my grandfather had taken me for my first trip to Fenway and now I was taking him to the very same place, he said, without prompting, “And I’ll take my grandson there too.”)

Tuesday didn’t turn out quite the way I had envisioned it, though it started off well enough. Eli was eli-hoteldelighted with the big picture window overlooking Fenway, loved jumping endlessly from one of the double beds to the other in that room, and enjoyed lobster for lunch. I took him to my favorite store in the world, the enormous Red Sox Team Store across the street from the ballpark on Yawkey Way. Despite telling him we wouldn’t buy anything until we had walked through the entire store, he began pointing out things he knew he wanted within 30 seconds of entering this overwhelming collection of must have Sox paraphernalia.

But then things began to diverge from my carefully planned agenda. About 4:30 PM we were walking to where we were supposed to gather for our pregame Fenway tour. I stopped to ask directions, and, unbeknownst to me, Eli kept walking. When I turned around, he wasn’t there. Thirty seconds later (it seemed much longer at the time) I found him being comforted by two street program sellers. Eli and I were both relieved to have found each other. (Don’t tell his parents about this part of our trip please.)

Anyway, back together, Eli and I met our tour leader, and he took us up to the viewing section on top of the Green Monster. Eli had his glove, but the closest batting practice ‘home run’ was one section away. He was disappointed not to have gotten a ball. When an usher pointed out that one of the ‘home run’ balls had gone over his head had broken a windshield in a parked car across Landsdowne Street, Eli forgot about his disappointment and kept talking about the broken windshield and how far the ball had gone.

Next, we went onto the field and were able to stand just behind the batting cage. We had brought a number of items we hoped we could get signed by David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts and any other Sox players we saw. Unfortunately, there were no Sox players anywhere to be seen. It was the Tampa Bay players who were taking batting practice as the Sox had completed their batting practice already and were in their clubhouse. No signatures for us, and no chance to meet David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, or Mookie Betts.

bricksBefore the game actually began, I took him to the patio inside Gate B where there were bricks ‘inscribed’ by fans who donated money for a resurfacing of the patio and to support a charity. It took a few minutes, but I found the two bricks I had purchased, one saying “Thanks Pappy, Love Richard” and a second one saying, “Beth, Keep the Flame Alive, Love Papa.” I don’t think Eli was particularly impressed as he was hungry and ready for the game to start.

Finally the game. Great seats, directly behind the catcher and high enough that we had a ‘bird’s eye’ view and could see if the umpire was right or wrong in calling balls and strikes. First inning Tampa Bay got a run. The Sox later tied it and went ahead, only to see Rays get two runs and tie it up. I had told him there would be a message on the scoreboard with his name after the fifth inning. But that time came and went, and we didn’t see any message. In the eighth inning, just seconds after I mentioned to Eli that Tampa Bay’s best player was coming to bat, Evan Longoria hit a ball 434 feet over the Green Monster and out of the park to put Tampa Bay ahead by one run. Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts, and David Ortiz couldn’t get the run back, and Eli’s first game at Fenway was over, a 4-3 loss.

(Aside 4: I’ve chosen not to burden Eli with the Red Sox pessimism and realities with which I grew up — 48 years of never winning the World Series and the fact that my grandfather never saw them win a WS at all. Yes, the Sox finally won the WS in 2004 after 86 years of not doing so and went on to win two more WS within the decade. Nevertheless, Red Sox fans, myself included, have yet to overcome the pessimism and fatalism that those 86 years instilled.)

The next day I drove Eli to see where I had lived on Beacon Street when I was born, just a stone’s throw from Fenway and to see where my father had lived in Brookline when he was Eli’s age. We also saw where his mother had lived after college, amazingly, just across the street from where my father, her grandfather, his great grandfather had lived. We went back to the Sox store, our third trip, and then headed to an afternoon game where we had seats near where my grandfather had had his season tickets. We were three rows off the field and just behind where the Sox players waited ‘on deck’ to bat. Eli seemed pretty tired (he had stayed up almost to midnight the previous day), and when the Rays again scored a run in the first inning and two in the second, he said something like, “Here we go again.”

He revived when David Ortiz, from the on deck ‘circle’, picked up a foul ball, looked into the stands, spotted Eli, and flipped the ball to him over the screen. Unfortunately, a guy just in front of us grabbed the ball and gave it to some other kid. As the game went on, the Rays went ahead 4-1, and Eli had been unable to get a used ball, despite everyone around us trying to help. I told him not to give up, and shortly thereafter, the ball boy flipped ball over the screen to him, and with his glove on his left hand and sitting on my shoulders, he caught it.


eli-fingerWe probably could have come home then, but now Eli was lit up. The Sox loaded the bases, and Hanley Ramirez hit one over the Green Monster, making the score 5-4 Sox. Then ‘we’ got another run, but the Rays tied the game, 6-6. I saw a second loss coming, but not Eli. He was rewarded for his optimism and hope as the Sox scored two runs in the eighth and held firm in the 9th inning.

Eli had his ‘caught’ baseball, seen a Sox grand slam, and had his first Fenway victory. The loss from game one was forgotten, as was his not getting autographs or seeing his name on the scoreboard. (We later learned, thanks to the very helpful Reservations Manager at the hotel, Evan Somma, the message had indeed been posted, just not on the main scoreboard. See the picture at the top of this post). On the way out, I challenged Eli to show me where the two ‘family’ bricks were, and he led me right to them.

At dinner, he told me his five favorite things over the two days: 1) seeing his first game in Fenway, 2) catching a ball, 3) spending time with grandpapa, 4) seeing a grand slam over the Green Monster, and 5) seeing Fenway Park. (Sure I loved number three, but actually I loved them all!)

Assuming Eli keeps his word and takes his children and grandchildren to Fenway, that will make for seven generations and well over 100 years of Sox support in our one small family.

How’s that for keeping the flame alive?

One of the Best Nonfiction Books of All Time (NYT) ?


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If Ellen hadn’t continued to rave about this book, I would not have read it. The title, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson (2010), didn’t seem to be something that would interest me.

Fortunately, I followed Ellen’s advice and read and listened to the 640 page nonfiction story of the southern black migration to the Northeast, Midwest and West Coast. I couldn’t put the book down. I found I was learning something on virtually every page I read.

The book covers the exodus and migration of six million blacks within our country between 1915 and 1970. In what was actually an ‘internal migration’ that had significant impacts on both where they came from and where they went, it is a story and a look at history that largely differs from what has previously been written about this movement out of the south and across the country.

In many ways Warmth of Other Suns reminded me of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. As he told the story of the Joads, an ‘Okie’ family that left the Midwest because of the dust storms and ‘moved’ to California, he not only told their story but in what is called ‘interchapters’ explained the history of the times. Just as that book has stayed with me ever since I read it in school, Wilkerson’s book will stay with me.

Wilkerson takes three individuals and follows them from their southern roots to their new homes, giving us an understanding of why these individuals needed to leave the Jim Crow south despite their families having lived there for generations. She follows them on their ‘escape’ by overground railway and, in one case by car, to their new homes. She then tells what happened to each of these three and their families over the next 50+ years of their life.

In preparation for writing Warmth of Other Suns, Wilkerson interviewed more than 1200 individuals before she settled on the three stories in this book. She traveled to each southern home, followed their paths north, and continued to interview the three individuals and their families for many years in their new homes. And similar to Steinbeck, she incorporates what she learned from the 1200 interviews as well as her exploration of census data, newspapers, historical records, etc. into ‘interchapters’ that put these three stories in context.

I’m not sure I’m qualified to agree or disagree with the NY Times about The Warmth of Other Suns being one of the best all time nonfiction books. However, it will certainly be at the top of my list of favorite reads in 2016.

Save the Date: National Book Festival


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Nationa Book Festival

If books and reading are important in your life and if you live anywhere near Washington, DC, mark your calendar for Saturday, September 24, 2106. That’s when the Library of Congress National Book Festival takes place at the Washington Convention Center from 8:30 am to 10 pm. There is no admission charge and all of the activities are free.

Now in its 16th year, it’s a day filled with author talks, children’s story telling, thematic programs, panel discussions, family friendly activities, author signings, and book sales (DC’s Politics-Prose is again the official bookseller!).

To get a quick look at what is happening when, see this Schedule, or to read about all of the activities, go to the Information Page of the Festival. For an alphabetical listing of all the authors who are attending the Festival, see the Author’s List.

(Note: The National Book Festival has become immensely popular, especially since it is now held indoors and is limited to one day. Many of the children and family activities start at 10 AM and get quite crowded as the day progresses. In fact, the entire Book Festival gets crowded as the day progresses. It makes sense spending some time reviewing the program before heading to the Festival so you can plan your time there and know where to go once you enter the Convention Center.)

ICYMI: Best/Most Popular Summer Posts

I haven’t done too much posting over the summer months as travel, family, baseball, and reading have been more prominent in my wonderful freedom to choose each day how I spend my time.

Still, there have been some posts, some of which you may have missed because of your own summer activities. And so, below are links to various posts from the last three months, organized generally by topic.

Travel & Photography – mostly photographs with a bit of my writing about trips to Spain, Louisiana, and Ireland:

*Andalusiai: Thru Ellen’s Eyes

*Thru Ellen’s Lens: The Alligator Blinked First

*Ireland Thru Ellen’s Lens

Family – some thoughts, photos, and musings about family

*She Died too Soon

*The Importance of Fathers

*More Things I Never Knew or What I Learned Last Weekend

Books – not wanting to wait a whole year, I’ve posted what books I’m enjoying and what some of you have reported to have enjoyed in the first part of 2016:

*I’m Reading What You Recommended, Part I

*New Reads, Recent Favorites, Part II

*Books MillersTime Readers Are Enjoying

*More Mid-Summer Recommendations by MT Readers

Films/Theater – nine films and a play:

*Movies: Three to See

*Six Movies to Consider

*Writing at Its Best – (Joe Posnanski on the play Hamilton and his daughter)

Baseball – surprisingly (to me), I haven’t posted much about my obsession with the Red Sox and baseball, tho I’ve spent many hours on this important matter all summer. (Note: as of this post, the mighty Sox are tied for first place in the AL East.)

*Join Me for a Nats’ Game in Sept./Oct.

Articles of Interest/The Outer Loop – attempts to pull from other writers understandings of what is occurring in our political world, along with a simple statement on why I voted for Hilliary in the DC primary and will do so in the general election:

*Trump Voters: Strangers in Their Own Land?

*“I Want My Country Back”

*I Voted for Hilliary Today

It’s not too late to add your voice, thoughts, comments to any of the above posts.

Join Me for a Nats’ Game in Sept./Oct.


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Empty seat

It appears the Washington Nationals will once again make it to the playoffs, perhaps this time with a better opportunity of not being eliminated immediately.

In the meantime, I have a number of games available, either for you to join me or to get two tickets for yourself. No cost to you if you join me, and no cost if you take two tickets and agree to take a kid. If the two tickets are just for yourself, then that will cost you the face value ($60 per ticket).

The seats are terrific, between home and first, close to home, about 20 rows off the field. In some cases, I have parking next to the stadium.

Let me know if you’re interested and give me an option or two so I can juggle various requests. Email me: samesty84@gmail.com

Wed., Sept. 7, 7:05 vs Braves

Sat., Sept. 10, 7:05 vs Phillies

Tues., Sept 13, 7:05 vs Mets

Mon., Sept 26, 7:05 vs Diamondbacks – two tickets (I cannot attend)

Tues., Sept 27, 7:05 vs Diamondbacks – two tickets  (I cannot attend, and these seats are just four rows behind Visitors’ dugout)

Wed., Sept. 28, 7:05 vs Diamondbacks

Sat. Oct. 1, 4:05 vs Marlins

Sun., Oct. 2, 3:05 vs Marlins, final game of the season

I will wait a few days before deciding who gets what tickets in case of people wanting similar dates, games. So if you read this post and respond by Sept.5, I’ll try to make duplicative requests work.