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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
For those of you concerned about my last post (#1765), an admission to poor child sitting skills, I have a more positive outlook today. Both girls were very good and the oldest cooked us a pancake and egg breakfast. I was the sous chef and clean-up crew, plus we all had a good time together watching cartoons and playing with the pets. I’m now ready to go back for more, with a little more confidence. I was indeed a good grandpa. Our next outing is the Tom & Jerry outdoor movie on the big screen of the neighborhood Braves stadium, Cool Today Park, next week.
When my son came home from work yesterday to reclaim his children, he had two good stories for me – close encounters of the baseball kind! He had just met the father of new White Sox catcher, Seby Zavala, who make history this past week by hitting his first three major league home runs in the same game, including a grand slam. He played again yesterday, going 2-4 in an extra inning game against the Cubs. Despite the conversation, my son the die-hard Cubs fan was frustrated with me, his father, the White Sox fan, as I continued to text him about the game. He also recently met on the job one of the upcoming Braves, who was suited up for the Rookie Game we went to watch a few weeks ago. This poor son of mine is also going with me to see the Sox play the Rays in a few weeks, so I can continue to give him a hard time about this year’s Sox success and the downfall of the Cubs. Baseball is one of our big bonds.
My granddaughter’s name is Maddux, after Hall of Fame Cub pitcher Greg Maddox and the youngest is Nora Grace, for former Cub first baseman Mark Grace, so you can begin to see my son’s allegiance to his team. Somehow his son, the oldest of the three grandchildren, was named Gavyn. There was not a single baseball player on any team in history I could find with that spelling, although Gavyn his been to a Cubs game every year of his life up until the pandemic. We’re taking him to Pittsburg, along with the girls, in September to watch the Cubs vs. Pirates and fulfill this year’s annual attendance goal, as he enters high school in a few days. He doesn’t care that much about baseball but someday maybe he’ll share the same interest as my son and I. In the meantime, I’ll try to learn more about his technical interests in attempting to be a good grandpa.
After the run and swim this morning, I got back under the covers, taking advantage of my blog-cation. It was dark and quiet, with hours to go before our time with relatives. I thought of how the world of baseball had changed so quickly yesterday. (See Post #1759). Rizzo was now a Yankee as I watched him slug his first homer in pinstripes. Kimbrel got his first save in a White Sox uniform, although his fellow Cub transfer, Ryan Tepera, did not fare as well, giving up a game tying home run. Javy Baez was on his way to New York to join his new Met teammates while Kris Bryant was taking a Giant step to San Francisco. Manager David Ross patched together a new Cubs lineup that fell short of our the Nats. It was supposed to be a D.C. reunion with Kyle Schwarber but he was now in Boston, with the 2016 World Series now scattered all over the country.
The weekend is once again upon us. Here we are at the beach, at the most northern point of Florida. Tally dipped her paw in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time, having already done the same thing on both sides of the Gulf and in the Pacific. She’s a well traveled schnauzer, living her life from coast-to-coast and even seeing the fringes of Canada. We dined on the beach, The Sandbar & Kitchen, and stayed at the Springhill Suites/Courtyard by Marriott, once again paying more for Tally than ourselves. We’ll now venture into Jacksonville and spend some time with the twins, the main purpose of this adventure. Tomorrow, my wife will reunite with long lost Rochester, Indiana neighbors.
I was thinking about some of the travel opportunities that we’ve missed over the last year-and-a-half due to the pandemic. We may now never get to the Prince of Wales Hotel, the Bali or Kauai beaches, Finland, Norway, or the Russian rivers. Egypt can be made good in 2023, but these other destinations may have to be reserved for another lifetime. At least the virus did not take our health or our lives, as has been unfortunately the case for too many others. We live to travel, but the clock is working against us! Tick, Tick, Tick!