Today's thoughts

Category: Chicago Cubs (Page 1 of 23)


Retirement is not without Hassles: More Disruptive than Helpful #2004

Both the Cubs and White Sox won last night and I succeeded at Wordle and Quordle this morning, so it’s shaping up to be a special day. I’m watching Curse of Oak Island where they are dealing with another curse in trying to uncover the Money Pit. It seems to be a constant state of affairs, as the show was aptly well named. Last night we saw another episode of Severance on Apple TV, after immersing ourselves in Van Gogh and gorging ourselves on steak and Chilean Sea Bass at Michaels on East. Today is much less eventful, keeping my eye out for warranty-work repairmen. Yesterday, they were up on the roof to patch some tiles that were apparently “overlooked” after the last inspection. A year ago tomorrow we officially moved-in after a night at a nearby Fairfield Suites. It’s hard to believe it’s already been a full year of being a Florida resident. 

Back in late March of 2018, we were headed home from our Mediterranean Cruise when I wrote about Vincent van Gogh and his Starry, Starry, Night painting that was made into a song by Don McLean. Last night, we experienced his work as a digital video in larger than life form. It incorporated all of his paintings with the most appealing being Almond  Blossom with pedals falling all around us. We, of course, bought a magnet to stick on our garage refrigerator to commemorate the occasion, joining hundreds from other world travels. 

We’ll hopefully hang the outdoor entry light later this afternoon. It will match those on both sides of the garage door and complete our overhead lighting needs. We have then agreed to invest in some outdoor lighting both in front and back of the house that should be installed in the next month. We also looked at tile and stonework for the outdoor kitchen while awaiting delivery of parts. These will be the last two major projects for 2022, with extensive travel on the horizon. My son and grand daughter should be over this afternoon to start this work – she’ll probably be more disruptive than helpful!



Retirement is not without Hassles: Fingers Crossed, Again #2003

Almost every year has its unforgettable moments. In 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas upon re-entry, killing all seven astronauts on board. I watched on a TV in the lobby of an Indianapolis agency, wondering if it was another terrorist strike? It was also the year that made Cubs fan Steve Bartman famous when he supposedly interfered with a potential out against the Marlins in a Playoff game. The Marlins went on to win the World Series and Bartman was lucky to escape with his life. We were coming back from Hawaii and in the airport when I saw the Cubs collapse. We would have to wait another 13-years for the Cubs World Series curse to finally end after a 108-year draught. 

The Cubs are on TV this afternoon as we head to Sarasota for the van Gogh exhibit. I guess I can give up a day of baseball for a little culture, although to me the game is culture. Our 2016 Wrigley Field World Series tickets are mounted on the home office wall next to me, along with the baseball cards of 1908 Cubs stars Tinker, Evers, and Chance, who took the crown in the early years. The cards of Rizzo, Russell, and Baez who were the modern-day version of the double-play trio, are encased next to them. All three of these Cubs stars are no longer with the team in the five years that have passed and most of the current lineup is unrecognizable. 

I did not sleep well last night, although it was nothing in particular that was bothering me. My mind was busy thinking about being gone from home for two full weeks and the preparations necessary. It’s mostly silly things like this that keep me awake in retirement, and most of the things I worry about never happen. We’ll be gone for another two weeks in July/August, a whole month in September/October, and two more weeks in December. We have at least ten weeks of travel ahead in the 37-weeks remaining in 2022. It will undoubtedly be the busiest year of travel in our lives, if not affected by Covid, fires, work stoppages, border restrictions, or cancellations that have plagued our first few years of joint retirement. We’ll spend some time on the beach, fly cross-country, cruise from Alaska to Japan, drive 3,000 miles through the Midwest, and end up in Kauai with family to end this eventful year. I doubt that we’ll ever be this active again, although 2023 calls for a drive to Maine and an adventure down the Nile. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, again! (See Posts #1329 and #1877

Retirement is not without Hassles: #1983

I was baby sitting for my nearly 4-year old granddaughter this morning, as will be the case tomorrow.  I finally got to sit down at the keyboard late this afternoon, after a doctor’s appointment and several errands. With the rain and responsibilities, there was also no time for the usual 5k, but at least I got in the minimum mile, extending my streak to 4,834 consecutive days. As I drove around town, I also picked up our remaining light fixtures for the front entry and great room, so my son can get to work on the wiring. One was in a huge box that barely fit in my back seat with the convertible top down. The 2007 Solara served as a pick-up truck once again, as it approaches 150,000 miles. 

The first mobile phones were introduced by Motorola in 1983. It’s hard to believe that we lived without them and the Internet all those years.  I used a CB radio for communication back in my early days of radio. Pay phones also played an important role in keeping up with client demands. A bag phone soon followed before I got my first flip phone that I could carry on a regular basis. A Palm Pilot served as my organizer once I abandoned Daytimers. Nowadays, everything is on my phone and I’m never without it. 

I’m watching the Cubs play the Angels on TV as Spring Training finally gets into full swing. I’ve already been to one game at the neighborhood Cool Today Stadium, the Spring Training headquarters for the World Champion Atlanta Braves. I have tickets for two more games against the Rays, with Grapefruit League activities extended thru April 5th. I just turned down tickets for the Yankees at Cardinals in August, and plan to go to Tampa in June for the Rays/White Sox series. We also made plans for Cactus League Spring Training in Phoenix next March that may be the next opportunity to see the Cubs live. I doubt that we get to Wrigley Field in 2022, let alone Chicago. I will keep an eye out if the boys plan another Cardinal baseball trip at some point during the season, but I’m sure that we will be exhausted from all our already planned cool travel activities.  

Retirement is not without Hassles: October Action #1828

Another decent run today with my pace slightly faster and motion a little more fluid. Hopefully, I’ve passed through another running funk and can find a way to enjoy the way I’ve chosen to start every single day of my life.  The sunrise is getting later every day, so it’s cooler when I get up with colorful skies. It’s much more pleasant than those hot, steamy summer days that were my first experience with living full time in sunny Florida. The transition from Portland has taken some time for adjustment as we settle into the winter months in our new home. 

We did go see No Time To Die yesterday afternoon and it’s well worth the big screen experience. The graphics are awesome with lots of action. It’s the James Bond finale with lots of options for spin-offs, mostly involving female versions of the character. Perhaps, 007 should have long ago been suspended for sexual harrassment, so it’s time to move on from the male, secret agent stereotype. I will not spoil the surprise ending or any of the twists the story takes, but retirement is not his thing. 

Tonight we’ll watch the season one finale of Only Murders in the Building after delivering some dinner pizzas to my son and his family. The White Sox game was postponed yesterday due to rain in Chicago, so they were not the first team to be eliminated in the Playoffs. The Red Sox took out the Rays, while the Giants put themselves in a position to move past the Dodgers. The Cubs have made a lot of post season noise, at least from their former players. Ryan Tepera has accused the Astros of cheating, additional motivation that could backfire on the Sox in this afternoon’s game. His fellow Cub teammate, Craig Kimbrel, now joins him in the White Sox bullpen but gave up five runs to the Astros in the Game 2 loss. Joc Pederson used Anthony Rizzo’s bat to beat the Brewers, as the Braves can now clinch a spot in the NL Championship with a victory this evening. Kyle Schwarber was instrumental in the Red Sox series win to move on to the AL Championship matchup. Kris Bryant showed his defensive outfield skills and hit a home run for the Giants in his first playoff game with the new team. Only Javy Baez failed to make the postseason after his trade to the Mets, while everyone else who left the Cubs has seen October action.

Old Sport Shorts: Let The Games Begin #1821

Let the Games Begin! The Playoffs are finally underway, while the Cubs have been put out of their misery. It’s hard to believe the late season success of the Cardinals or the fact that it could all for them end in one Wildcard game. My focus is now primarily on the SOX and their 76-year old manager, Tony La Russa. It’s been 16-years since they last won the World Series, but only 10-years for him in the same role with St. Louis. The White Sox lost two out of three to the A’s in last year’s Playoffs while La Russa was still enjoying retirement. Let’s hope for a deeper run in 2021.

I’m starting today in Tampa after four days in Pittsburgh. It’s a Sunday, but I actually wrote this yesterday on the plane, knowing that I would be crunched for time. I will be trading my family for my wife’s over the next three days as we make our way back to Venice. I’m glad the Braves made the Playoffs since we’ve moved into their Spring Training neighborhood. There will be some watch parties at the Stadium near our home, a great way to start a relationship with my new team. Maybe they’ll even have an afternoon game that I can stay awake to watch. Former baseball home favorites have included Chicago, St. Louis, Texas, and Seattle on our moves across the country over the past 25-years. However, the SOX will always be my favorite thanks to Sherm Lollar and the 1959 crew that become my first childhood baseball love.

It took 54-years of my lifetime for the White Sox to win a World Series and 65-years for the Cubs to claim a crown, although they were primarily my dad’s and son’s favorite. My dad originally tried to coax me into being a Detroit Tiger’s fan, that would have been even more frustrating. He did pry my allegiance away from Mickey Mantle like every other kid my age back then, but I chose the White Sox because he insisted that I support someone closer to home. If I hadn’t followed his advice, I could have been an obnoxious Yankees fan.

The Damn Yanks are slipping in the Playoff race, but the SOX are solidly in the field. The Cubs are on the outside looking in, while my dad sadly died before his Chicago team finally won it all in 2016. I’m ready for some Playoff baseball where the SOX will finally face some competition. They’ve been playing most of this injury plagued season with a firm grip on the AL Central. If they can stay healthy, they have a strong chance of winning it all. If they can’t do it, maybe the Braves can, so Let The Games begin.

Old Sport Shorts: Streaks #1815

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. but I had my first Pickle Ball match at the age of 70. I lost of course, but didn’t get hurt. My body could not move laterally and bending over for a low shot was impossible. I can feel some of the strain in my knees this morning, but I’m glad to have given it a try. I’ll practice some before my next match in two weeks. Does practice still make perfect at age 70? During my time on the court, our Fantasy team, the Dolphish, stretched its lead to 134-115 over Aaron Hernandez Taxi Service with one Tight End each yet to play tonight. We have the edge in improving our record to 2-1. 

Today is “Matinee Meatless Monday” with Dear Evan Hansen on the big screen and PB&J for lunch. We saw the Broadway performance on our last trip to New York. Not sure when we’ll ever get back? Pittsburgh is our next stop on Wednesday, with little interest now in seeing the Cubs and Pirates play. After their last two games with the Cardinals, I’m embarrassed to be a fan. The Cards were able to stretch their winning streak to 16 with the 4-game sweep of the Cubbies at Wrigley. The last three games of this “season to forget” will be in St. Louis. There was a glimmer of hope early in 2021, including a 2-1 series victory for the Cubs at Busch in May and a 3-0 home field sweep in June. They tied at one each in July after game 3 was postponed. That’s when the tide started to turn in favor of the Red Birds, taking three of the next four after the All-Star break. Then, the Cubs cleaned house. Believe it or not the New Blue still have a chance to win the overall season series, but regardless the Cards will probably still go on to the Wildcard. They currently have a 6-game cushion over the Phillies and Reds with only six left to play. They can’t possibly catch the Brewers for the Division crown even if they stretch their winning streak to 22 and tie Cleveland’s American League mark for consecutive wins! If they then win that 23rd against the Giants or Dodgers, they’ll make the Playoffs and could challenge the 1916 New York Giants for the all-time record of 26!

Meanwhile on the other side of Chicago, the White Sox are comfortably in the Playoffs. The SOX won the final series against the Indians 3 games to 2 to clinch the Division. They are currently three games behind the Astros to determine which team will have home field advantage in the Playoffs. The Astros have three against the Brewers and three versus the A’s, while the “Good Guys” meet the Tigers and Reds to conclude the regular season. After winning last night, a seven-game winning streak could give the Pale Hose a Playoff edge, but I will assume they will continue to rest their stars during this stretch, while the Tigers have little to play for and the Reds may also be out of Wildcard contention by the time they play in Chicago, especially if the Cardinals continue their record streak. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Root, Root, Root #1794

September is here and Labor Day has arrived. There was a fun exchange of texts and pictures last night among our group of old college buddies, several extending back to high school and even grade school. We’re all mourning the loss of a spouse that has spurred a string of “Big Chill” gatherings and memories. I filled a couple of pages with dates and places where we got together with her throughout the years and sent a card. I’m feeling bad to be so far away in this time of need. A picture of the two of them appeared on Facebook this morning, bringing even more reality to this stunning loss. I was looking forward to their visit in a few months. 

Conditions in Tahoe are still not favorable for travel, so we continue to be undecided on whether or not to go. The resort has only cancelled the first night of our stay with the AQI at 254 – very unhealthy. It was supposed to be a week of family – the two girls and their husbands in Heavenly Valley. The levels are at least down from the 400s that I was seeing earlier this week. Honestly, at this point, I would be perfectly happy staying home and filling out paperwork to claim vacation disruption insurance. Tomorrow will be the last day to cancel airline and car rental plans with penalties. 

Our next travel adventure will be Pittsburg at the end of the month with grandkids in tow. We’re off to see the “New Cubs,” who by the way are on a six game winning streak. The new team is without Rizzo, Baez, Bryant, Kimbrel, Tepara, and Schwarber. Names like Wisdom, Duffy, Ortega, Schwindel, and Alcantara will still take some getting used to in the box scores. Cubs baseball has been a family tradition for many years, and my son and his children have visited many stadiums around the country. Two years ago it was Giants’ Stadium in San Francisco, but none of us have been to Wrigley for awhile now. In fact, I think my last trip there was in April of 2019, more than two years ago. I don’t know when I’ll ever go back to Chicago to root, root, root for the Cubbies – Pittsburgh will have to do for now!

Old Sport Shorts: Sox Bobble #1788

The White Sox struggled in the month of August, but still managed to maintain a 10-game Division lead over the Indians. The only real bright spot was claiming five out of six games in this year’s City Series with the Cubs. The highlight of the month was the Field of Dreams victory over the Yankees, who then went on to win the next two in Chicago that started a 13-game winning streak. I then watched the Sox lose badly to the Rays in Tampa that also launched their hot streak of six straight. In my opinion, August has been a bit of a bobble for the Sox. 

The Giants are currently the winningest team in baseball with 84 victories, with the Rays close behind at 82. They both seem to be on track for a World Series match-up. However, the second place Dodgers also have 82-victories, as they attempt to claim back-to-back Championships. Milwaukee stands at 79-wins while Houston has reached 77. The Yankees and Boston are a game apart behind the Rays in the AL East. Atlanta sits atop the NL East despite only 70 victories. As always, the race comes down to September. Can the South Siders finish strong?

White Sox pitching has been a disappointment this past month while the offense is feast or famine. Lance Lynn suffered the only loss against the Cubs, giving up seven runs, while Alec Mills shut down the Sox sluggers, who erupted for 17 and 13 runs in the other two Guaranteed Rate Field wins. The Pale Hose are a disconcerting 32-32 on the road and 44-24 at home. However, they are not exactly being challenged in the weak AL Central, so Playoff ball may be the incentive they need. They do have a 5-game road series with the Indians that could possibly derail their comfortable ride into October, especially if the A’s take the series in Oakland and the Red Sox and Angels get hot in Chicago. I’m concerned about a September Sox bobble. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Margie #1777

The Cubs finally broke their 12-game losing streak last night with a victory over the Reds. Happ made it happen with a 2-run home as Hendricks earned his league leading 14th victory of the season. The White Sox won their 70th game by beating the A’s. I’m headed to Tampa on Sunday to watch them play the Rays. However, my son may not join me due to a death in the family. We got together last night at Donato’s for dinner to discuss his plans to drive back to Indiana.

It’s difficult after a divorce to decide what is right. I haven’t gotten together with my ex-wife’s family for nearly 23 years. Her father remarried a woman affectionately known as Margie that was always a joy to be around. She had a son of her own but quickly became a step-mother to five daughters and somehow managed to win them all over. She was also very gracious to her husband’s first wife, the girls’ mother, often spending vacation time and holidays with all of them together. Margie made us all feel comfortable. Even though I haven’t seen her in several years, I will continue to miss her, just as I miss my ex-wife’s mother who is still alive. 

The fact that the funeral is so far away makes it easy to avoid. I will probably buy a tree in her honor and have it planted in remembrance. I feel bad that our good relationship ended because of a messy divorce. I haven’t been part of their family for over 23-years but still have many fond memories. The only thing I still don’t understand was why my son, their eldest grandson, was not part of their lives when they lived so close together here in Florida at least half of the year. I doubt that this was Margie’s doing. 

When you divorce your wife you also divorce her family and friends. Sadly, I now live in Florida near the area where we all used to get together every year. None of them came this year, while I watched the Fourth of July fireworks on the beach. They will all now be at a funeral that I will not be attending. This is my choice but I still wish I could see them all. Margie had the last few years of her life taken away by poor health. Rest in Peace. When I last saw her she was still filled with energy. This is the way I prefer to remember her. I’m sorry, dear Margie, you had to leave us so soon and I never got to say good-bye. 

Old Sport Shorts: Hoosiers, Sox and Bears, Oh My! #1774

Oh My! The Cubs lost their 10th straight and the Damn Yankees got even with the White Sox. Da Bears and Justin Fields started what hopefully will become a winning tradition. IU Hoops showed some promise in the Bahamas. All in all, a big day in sports. I even watched a little Cornhole on TV where a woman historically took the title. The Little League World Series is underway and today is the Brickyard – now 200 miles instead of 400 and on a road course rather than oval, while some things in sports never change like the Yankee uniforms.

This morning’s run was ocean front with a stiff wind coming off the Atlantic. I’m sitting on my balcony watching the waves roll in as I write this. It looks like Florida dodged Fred but hurricane Grace is now tracking in our direction. There’s one more Sox-Yankees clash this afternoon and more of IU Basketball, though not televised. I’ll have to get the wrap-up on Inside The Hall because even Twitter updates were hard to find on Friday evening.

The Yankees are having their way with the supposedly unstoppable Sox closers, Kimbrel and Hendriks. This is not a favorable sign of things to come for the SOX despite their huge Division lead. They will certainly make the Playoffs but have struggled against the other top tier teams. They were decisively swept by the Yanks in NY so winning the Field of Dreams game in dramatic fashion was encouraging. Last night, the Pinstripes won in the 10th shutting down Tim Anderson with the bases loaded and avoiding déjà vu. I’ll be anxious to see how The Pale Hose fare against the defending AL Champ Rays next weekend – in person. IU on the other hand, may have rudely awakened the Serbians for today’s rematch. Go Hoosiers, Sox, and Bears… Oh My!

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