Thursday, December 28, 2006

A few thoughts that are not my own.

For Christmas, my family got two baseball books. One was The Baseball Book from Sports Illustrated, which was the greatest thing ever, and the other was Home Plate Don’t Move, a compilation of baseball-related quotes. Here are some of my favorites.

“Any ballplayer that don’t sign autographs for little kids ain’t an American. He’s a communist.” –Rogers Hornsby

<----Angel Berroa is apparently not a communist. But wait! He's not American-born, either. Is there a third option? Either way, I suppose he's not a jerk in Hornsby's book.

“If you don’t think baseball is a big deal, don’t do it. But if you do it, do it right.” –Tom Seaver

“It ain’t bragging if you can do it.” –Dizzy Dean (Dizzy Dean, shown at right, sure could do it.)

“A hot dog at the ballpark is better than a steak at the Ritz.” –Humphrey Bogart

“Correct thinkers think that ‘baseball trivia’ is an oxymoron: nothing about baseball is trivial.” –George Will

“A man once told me to walk with the Lord. I’d rather walk with the bases loaded.” –Ken Singleton

“Just take the ball and throw it where you want to. Throw strikes. Home plate don’t move.” –Satchel Paige

“It’s not what you did last year. It’s what you’re going to do this year. That’s more important.” –Albert Pujols (and people wonder why I WORSHIP this guy, despite my hatred of the Cardinals)

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” –Rogers Hornsby

“All winter long, I can’t wait for baseball. It gets you back to doing the stuff you love and makes you wish the youthfulness of life could stay with you forever.” –Tommy John

“Baseball is dull only to dull minds.” –Red Smith

“I can never undertand why anybody leaves he game early to beat the traffic. The purpose of baseball is to keep you from caring if you beat the traffic.” –Bill Vaughan, columnist for the KC Star

“Baseball’s most delicious paradox: although the game never changes, you’ve never seen everything.” –Stephen King

“The losing streak is bad for the fans, no doubt, but look at it this way. We’re making a lot of people happy in other cities.” –Ted Turner

“The fans like to see home runs, and we have assembled a pitching staff for their enjoyment.” –Clark Griffith, an executive for the Twins

“They give you a round bat and they throw you a round ball, and then they tell you to hit it square.” –Willie Stargell

“The two most important things in life are good friends and a strong bullpen.” –Bob Lemon

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Last night, just a few nights after I got home for my first college Christmas break, a soft rain fell throughout the wee hours of the morning. The rain froze as soon as it hit any cold, solid objects, thus coating the entire town in over a half an inch of ice. Icicles line each cable of our clothesline out back; they run across each diamond and along the top of our chain-link fence.

The ice is beautiful, but it's a sinister beauty. The fact that there's a half-inch of the stuff means it weighs a ridiculous amount. My neighbors have a grand and quite mature tree in their front yard, which is at least 70 years old and stands over 35 feet tall. Well, not so much anymore. A great number of the tallest, grandest branches are now upside-down in the yard, and missed impaling the house's roof by only a few inches.

All day long, my dad's fire department radios have been squawking about power lines down all over town -- we considered getting out a map of the city and sticking pushpins in each location where a downed line or even pole was reported. I think that by now we'd have run out of either pins or space on the map.

To step outside is to subject your ears to a frighteningly loud chorus of sirens as crews scurry from one downed line to another, and of creaks and groans of branches and their coats of ice as they sway in the breeze. We have lost a few minor limbs and a bush in the backyard, but that's all so far. It's honestly a little scary knowing that at any second, my front porch could be crushed as a heavy branch above it succumbs to the weight of the ice.

Please pray that the rest of my family -- my Dad and my three older brothers -- can make it back to McCook safely tomorrow as planned, and that my front porch can be in one piece when they get here.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Short note for Sunday

It's Sunday, which means church, naps, football, and PostSecret. I'm sure you've already heard of this site, but if you haven't, please make it a part of your websurfing every Sunday.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

On Christmas

In my previous post, I briefly mentioned my cheery Christmas mood. All I mentioned there was the surface stuff -- music, shopping, decorating. But to me, the very best thing about Christmas is the giving.

In today's fast-paced, self-centered society, it seems that most people spend at least 11 months of the year thinking about only themselves. Maybe this view is a little cynical, but it really seems that way. People stare straight ahead in stores, totally unaware of their fellow shoppers also trying to navigate the aisles. Kids in school hallways don't always take the time to hold doors or pick up things that others dropped on the floor. Moms let their kids scream and scream everywhere they go. And all that is a shame.

But then comes December. Is it just me, or does everyone really seem nicer around Christmas? Yes, I do hear the horror stories about mad shoppers who try to kill each other. But aside from those incidents, it does seem like people are willing to take a little less time for themselves, and a little more time for others. If you need proof, look at the Salvation Army's donation tree in your community, where they add more lights as people donate more money. I've been watching the one in Lincoln grow brighter. I've seen the one in Omaha too, and by the time Christmas finally arrives, the tree is so full of lights you can't even tell there's a tree under them.

On my floor, we had a "Secret Santa" with a $10 limit. Nearly every girl I've talked to has gone over that limit, because they like to give. I agree; giving is way better than receiving.

The beauty in giving is that you can keep doing it forever; there's always someone who can receive what you have to offer. And the beauty of giving in today's society is that it's easier than ever. A few mouse clicks at the Child's Play website can give a sick kid something to do while in the hospital. (While you're at the Child's Play site, read some of the stories of the struggles they've had in making room for all the donations. If you ever wonder about whethere there are good people left in the world, these stories offer plenty of hardcore evidence that the answer is a resounding YES.)

I love the way Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated talked about charitable giving in his December 4 column:

It was the alltime no-brainer. Skip lunch; save a life. Buy the Top-Flites instead of the Titleists; save a life. Don't bet on the Redskins; save a life. Nothing to research. No government to topple. No warlords to fight.
He was talking about Nothing But Nets, a campaign started by SI last year to fight malaria by giving mosquito nets to kids in Africa. And he's right about the giving -- many of us have a ton of ways we can get rid of some expenses and add a tremendous amount of happiness to someone else's life, or even save lives directly.

And with the power to give that much, how can I help but to feel a tinge of Christmas cheer?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A few new things

So it's been a while; my bad. A few things since last posting....

The Big XII Championship game:
The game was last night in Kansas City. As you probably already know, Nebraska lost to Oklahoma, 21-7. Talk about underachieving on the offense. Man, that was a disappointment. However, it was a heck of a fun trip, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat, if for no other reason than the pregame atmosphere.

It was a lot like a Husker home game, with Nebraska fans outnumbering Sooners at a ratio of about 6:1. We got to the parking lot at around 3:30 in the afternoon and the lots were already packed with massive RVs and people who obviously spend a lot of time tailgating. Barbecues, TVs, tents, and space heaters were everywhere, and everyone was in a pretty swell mood. I think that Husker fans were for the most part kind to the poor outnumbered Okies, because that's just how Husker fans roll.

It's funny how easy it is to get free stuff when you're a college chick. In order to be offered free beer, for example, we merely had to stand around for about 2.6 seconds. Some older folks near us actually fed us their barbecued wares for free, which was great because of course, food in the stadium costs about a million dollars.

The weather was pretty nippy, but really it wasn't bad. Some people would say we got bad seats -- only 10 rows from the top -- but I think they were absolutely awesome. We could see everything on the field very clearly...there's a good reason people put press boxes high up rather than at field-level! Our feet got pretty cold, but we survived without the loss of any toes, so it couldn't have been that severe, right?

Turns out Nebraska will take on Auburn in the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day. I'm unbelievably psyched for that. I don't know if I ever mentioned it here, but I got sick to death of the way ESPN drooled all over Auburn all season, when they're really not all that amazing. If Nebraska brings their A-game, they can smoke 'em easily. So basically, the defense can play like they did in the 3rd quarter last night, and the offense can remember what they did all season rather than do like last night.

Other Husker happenings:
The volleyball team rollllllled in their game last night, with a 3-game sweep over Northern Iowa to get into the NCAA Sweet 16.
The Nebraska men's basketball team didn't fare so well, taking their first loss of the regular season at Rutgers, 75-73. They'll be fine, as long as they pick up a win in Oregon this week!

Happy yummy Christmas feelings!
I love the Christmas season. Now that it's finally Advent (for all ye non-Catholics, Advent is the 4 weeks before Christmas in which we prepare for His birth), I can really get into the music, the decorating, and the shopping! It's a wonder my finances ever recover from Christmas; I love to give presents, and I've never met a charity drive I didn't love. But I always bounce back somehow.

I always love the first Sunday Mass of Advent, though. We get to bust out the Christmas music, and it always makes me giddy. I can guarantee I'll be in an unflappable good mood tonight. Off I go to go put up our room lights!!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Nebrasketball is BACK

Well, as outlined in my previous post, I was all psyched up for Nebraska vs. Creighton. Sure enough, when I went to leave the dorm at just before 5:00 (for a 7:00 game), people heckled me. "Minda," they said. "Why are you leaving Michigan/Ohio State so early? Who cares where you sit, because Nebraska is just going to get stomped?"

We went anyway. The Devany Center was sold out, and by tipoff the place was ROCKIN'. Many, many, many Creighton fans filled the seats, but they were nowhere near me, as I was in the exact middle of the Red Zone. The atmosphere was exactly as a college basketball game should be: Electric.

And guess what! Nebraska beat Creighton. Read that again, and again and again. I could never say it enough. Here's the thing: Nebraska is a football school, a volleyball school, a baseball school, a soccer, wrestling, track school. We're NOT generally thought of as a basketball school.

Creighton, on the other hand, has been a mainstay in the top 25 for the last couple of years. They routinely make appearances in the Big Dance, and they were by all acounts supposed to absolutely embarrass my Huskers tonight.


Because it's 3:30 in the morning, I won't go into too much detail. But basically, every man in a Husker uniform brought his A-game tonight. Maric was quite quiet in the first half but it was fine because everyone else stepped up. As for the Bluejays...Nate Funk is exciting to watch, despite his somewhat douchey hairstyle. And he was solid tonight, scoring somewhere around 28 points. But his teammates couldn't really sink much. Hence the result.

Nebrasketball is back. Same ball, new game.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

An almost sad relience on sports

So here's the thing. My life -- nearly every aspect of it -- revolves around sports. I guess that's a good thing, given that I want to write/talk about sports as a career someday. However, it does create some problems. For example, what am I to do when 5:00 rolls around this afternoon?

I'll certainly be watching Michigan vs. Ohio State; how could I not when ESPN has been counting the minutes down to this game for over a week? However, today is one of the biggest games for Nebraska basketball this year, and I need to be in my usual seats (standing on the floor in front of the first row of student section bleacher seats) by 5:30 for the 7:00 tipoff. That means leaving my dorm around 5:00. Do you see where this is going?

If Michigan/OSU is a close game...what do I do? Do I stay here and risk losing my amazing courtside position? Or do I duck out of here as planned, and risk missing a great game of football?

Therefore, I'm hoping for a blowout this afternoon. That will make it much easier to leave.

EDIT: This has nothing to do with anything, but I want to point it out... in case you didn't already know...I'll be in Kansas City to watch my Huskers in the Big XII title game on December 2. I honestly think we can win it. Go Big Red!!!

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Finally. Mark Grudzielanek has won a Gold Glove!!!

Grud is one of my favorite Royals of the last 10 years. I love how hard he plays, and I love how you can watch him and know that he loves baseball. He doesn't complain about anything, ever, except the occasional knock on announcers for misprouncing his name. The man deserves this honor. I'm so excited he'll be back on board with us next season!

On another Royals-related note, one of my all-time heroes in broadcasting, Denny Matthews, is up for a prestigious honor as well. Voting for the 2007 Frick Award has begun, and you can bet I'll be pulling for Denny. He is as big a part of my childhood as Nintendo, Little League or Legos. The one-two punch of Denny and Fred for the Royals was always a treat. Go Denny!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Golf, rather than baseball

If this blog is to be about 'Baseball & Other Things,' this is one of the other things. I miss golf. In high school, I played varsity golf all four years. That meant spending every glorious fall day on the driving range, the putting greens, or playing a quick 9 before heading off to work. It also meant free golf all year whenever I wanted and however often I wanted. No tee times; just show up and go for it.

Sadly, those days are gone. I haven't played at all since moving to Lincoln, since I'd actually have to fork over (lots of) money to do so here. And boy do I miss it. Every time I use the trunk of my car, my clubs are right there. They almost seem to be calling out to me, begging me to hold them, swing them, carry them, clean them, love them. But nay. Instead, I have to slam the trunk lid shut and pretty much pretend I didn't see the clubs, because I know full well I won't get to use them any time soon.

Today in the cafeteria, a show on ESPN was an acute reminder of how much I miss my golfing days. Unfortunately I couldn't watch much of it because I had to go to class, but I wanted to because it was about Tiger, whom I admire immensely. The show's title was something like Tiger Woods: the Best Ever? Whether or not he's the greatest golfer of all time might remain to be seen, but what I can tell your right now is that there is no better model of work ethic and desire for improvement than Tiger.

A few years ago, back in McCook, our golf pro, Lee Maiden, held two pictures out to me. They were both of Tiger setting up to take a shot, but were taken on different days. "Minda," Lee said to me, "What is the difference between these two photos?"

Well shoot. Tiger's approach to the ball looked exactly the same to me in both shots, so I was left with only the obvious difference: "He's...uh...wearing different shirts?"

"I know; that's all I could find too," Lee replied. "But Tiger is disgusted with his form in the picture on the left, so the one on the right is the product of weeks of meticulous work."

Let me say again that the pictures looked identical. Even a pro couldn't spot the difference. But to Tiger, there was a world of difference, so he worked hard to refine his approach until it came closer to his impeccable standards.

Lee's point in showing me those pictures was to show me how I should practice. All the range balls in the world weren't going to help me if I was just out there hitting them to get to the bottom of the bucket. Every yellow range ball I hit was to be an attempt to make my game better, my swing more sound.

In the summertime, I'd go out to the driving range at what I thought was an ungodly early hour -- 8:00 or so, and oftentimes I'd stay there until at least lunch. I'd hit bucket after bucket of range balls, using the yardage signs as targets. Then I'd spend time down on the ludicrously hard putting green, chipping and putting from impossibly difficult locations and slopes. And of course, I shot out of the bunker. While I was practicing, I was not a social creature. I'd say 'hi' to folks as they passed me by, but mostly I kept a laser-sharp focus.

The sad thing is, after all of that practice, I'm still just an average golfer. So even if I try to focus and practice like Tiger, I'll never ever play like Tiger, or even like...someone who doesn't suck. :-(

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Drawing a bit of a blank

Heh. When I used the blogging feature at MySpace, whenever I'd sit down to write, I'd only be able to think of baseball. I felt kind of bad, knowing that of my MySpace friends, only a few actually cared about baseball. Now that I have a place to write mostly about the sport, I can't come up with as much. Weird.

Or maybe it's because the season is over. Boo Cardinals! (I'm a good Royals fan; it's in my blood to hate the Cards...) Also, shame on Detroit. After the way the AL dominated the NL in interleague play and in the Stupid Crappy (All-Star) Game, I had hoped that the league would be well-represented when it came time for the World Series.

That said, I still think Jim Leyland is an awesome manager. The turnaround he authored in Detroit is nothing short of miraculous. I love his style; he doesn't take crap from anybody, and he holds his players responsible when they mess up. Excuses are not allowed, and that is the way it should be.

And I'll admit it; I had my doubts about the Tigers. If you look back on my posts from early into the season, and my midseason 2nd-half forecast, I thought they'd fall from grace way sooner than they did. So kudos to you, Detroit, for proving me so wrong.

I really do take comfort in the Tigers' turnaround, given that their fans know very well how it feels to be dead last, and they've had that feeling very recently. Now I just have to wait the excrutiating five months until the Royals begin a similar revolution.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Barry B*nds

This is another one I wrote for a journalism class. I don't know what kind of grade I got it, because I don't have to turn it in for another hour and half. Anywho, here it is:
****EDIT: I got a 95%. The only things for which points were taken off were nitpicky grammatical errors, but I got all possible points for content. Go me!****
Before that one ball was pitched, it was just a ball. It was off-white with stitching in waxed red string, just like any other. It was made of cork and wound yarn, was covered in leather, and weighed the same five ounces as all balls used in Major League Baseball. But after it was thrown, Barry Bonds launched it out of the park for his 71st home run of the 2001 season, breaking Mark McGwire’s single-season record.

The moment that ball went over the wall, Bonds’ critics have protested his record and questioned its legitimacy, saying his alleged steroid use propelled his batting performance. They’ve said he does not deserve to have his name in the hallowed record books next to greats like Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron. Those critics are absolutely correct.

The record books are for men who defied the odds and did what was not possible for any other man before them. Records are set by players who have that extra something special that propels them to greatness. In most of these players, that “extra something” came from within; it was something natural and God-given. For Barry Bonds, the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative supplied that extra boost, and Bonds’ legacy should not survive without a footnote stating exactly that. An asterisk next to his name would not undo the damage he did to Major League Baseball by cheating; nothing could ever do that. But it would help ease the minds of the fans who realize what an injustice his steroid use was and still is.

The bottom line is that Bonds can not go unpunished for the disservice he has done for baseball’s purity. Thanks to him, ‘America’s pastime’ is tainted, and everyone is suspect. Even the tiny mark of punctuation next to his name would show the next several generations that our generation does not reward cheaters with glory, but instead shames them with negative distinction.

Until someone else comes along and breaks the bonds of the Bonds record, this generation of MLB fans must stand firm in this. Otherwise, future players might be tempted to follow the same path to hollow glory that Bonds has. If cheaters can prosper now, what’s to stop someone from cheating in the future? Bonds’ malfeasance must not be sugar-coated or glossed over; if it is, up-and-comers of the future may bask in the apparent ease of the ‘cream and the clear.’ They may shun the high road and rely on banned substances. What’s scarier than that is the fact that taking those paths of darkness might actually work to win over legions of fans, just like Mr. Bonds.

Surprisingly, many still support Bonds and the legitimacy of his home run record. Some of them say that he is more talented than any other hitter of the last 25 years. They argue that his swing is so very solid; it was only a matter of time before he broke McGwire’s single-season home run mark from 1998. That certainly begs this question: if he could have done it without the aid of steroids, why didn’t he? Baseball would be much better off if today’s children and teens had a drug-free home run hero. Instead, they have asterisks, BALCO, Victor Conte and testimony before Congress getting in the way of their enjoyment of baseball.

If the name of Barry Bonds goes unmarked in the MLB record books, this generation of ballplayers is damned to a lifetime of negativity. Folks will look back on this era and only remember steroids and scandal. They may not recall today’s greats who have worked and done things the right way: sluggers like Jim Thome, and the all-around amazing Albert Pujols. Future generations might forget this era’s excellent pitchers like Johan Santana and Roy Halladay. Men like these have labored for years to perfect their performance, and they may be overshadowed in time because Barry Bonds gave into the temptation to cheat his way into the records.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

In defense of defense

I wrote this for one of my journalism classes. I like it, so I thought I'd share here (and on MySpace). Enjoy!

Where has all the defense gone? by Minda Haas

ESPN is and always will be the number one source for all things related to sports. They have cemented themselves in the annals of sports and entertainment lore for generations to come. But even they come up way short when it comes to covering the most wonderful and important aspect of baseball: defense.

On ESPN's Baseball Tonight, they often choose to devote more time to home runs than spectacular defensive plays. I've never understood that, because when you get right down to it, watching highlights of home runs is boring. Sure, Baseball Tonight features Web Gems, but that isn't enough. I think that of the 30 or so teams playing on a given night, more than five defenders make solid plays.

They're not alone, either. Major League Baseball's website,, constantly pays more homage to home runs than web gems. The headlines in major newspapers trumpet news of another Bonds homer, even if the Giants went on to lose that night's game.

The headlines from Opening Day 2006 speak mostly of home runs. Of the 15 wrap-ups from the first full day of baseball this season, eight mentioned homers in the headline or in the story's first sentence. Only three stories were headlined with mentions of pitching, and just headline contained reference to a team's defense.

The coverage of Barry Bonds' quest for home run records is particularly sickening. I know nothing of his teammates or how the Giants are doing overall, because all anyone cares to show me (and the rest of the nation's sports news consumers) is how Bonds is doing. Yawn. One day during Spring Training 2006, the Cubs' pitching staff combined to take a perfect game into the 9th inning. I thought that was fairly news-worthy, so I tuned into ESPN that night to learn more. Instead of that, I got what basically amounted to a 30-minute analysis of Bonds' physical health.

This overwhelming obsession with home runs worries me as a true baseball fan and a future sports journalist. I fear that today's young baseball fans don't know how to truly appreciate the many wonders baseball has to offer; they'd much rather see the condensed version of a game with just the home runs and maybe the fights on SportsCenter. I have personally coached young boys who try to swing for the fences but have no idea how to cleanly field a routine grounder.

In glorifying the long ball and ignoring defense and pitching, sports news outlets are pandering to the lowest common denominator, and it's contributing to a sad decline in a healthy following of baseball. Gone are the days when kids are willing to listen to a ballgame on the radio or even watch a whole one on TV, and that's frightening for the future of the sport. Granted, I'm an old-timey fan. I know how to use a score sheet, and I listen to games on the radio obsessively. I don't expect that level of fandom from everyone, but a basic appreciation for the finer elements of the sport shouldn't be too much to ask.

I'm starting to feel that the only way to see all the stellar pitching and defense in a day of baseball is to watch every inning of every game. It's not too hard to see why that's not a possibility – I'm a full-time student with a part-time job as well. So I guess I just have to miss the truly great parts of baseball, and instead settle for 20 nightly highlights of a ball going over a fence.

A short Royals note

From Sept. 25
This is the most singularly awesome column I've read all season. In this moment, in the afterglow of reading this, I'm more excited for 2007 than I've ever been.

Screw the winter; it needs to be April '07 right now.

Still a believer!

Originally posted Sept. 21, from the depths of Royals despair.

This is just getting to be too much. God really really really hates them, and I don't know why. So, today in class as I dreaded going out in the freezing pouring rain, I wrote this.

OF Reggie Sanders
1B Doug Mientkiewicz
3B Mark Teahen
2B Mark Grudzielanek
OF David DeJesus
Mgr. Buddy Bell

The list reads like the Royals' best possible lineup card, capped with the name of manager Buddy Bell.
Power and timing from Sanders and Teahen. Spark and energy from DeJesus and Grudzielanek. Performance under pressure from Mientkiewicz. Leadership and poise from the whole group.
But it's not KC's dream team lineup. Instead, it's a list of men being poked, prodded, tested, sutured, mended, rested and rehabbed.
Sanders' season ended in August due to a bum knee. Mientkiewicz had bad nerves, literally, and needed an operation. Teahen played through a shoulder problem all season before announcing on September 8th that he'd undergo season-ending surgery as well. September 19 spelled the end for Grud as he pulled a groin in the third inning. The next night, the team took a double shot of bad news: DeJesus has a potentially season-ending thumb contusion, and, worse yet, manager Buddy Bell's doctors discovered a growth near his tonsil, and he will miss the season's final ten games to undergo testing in Arizona.
Whew! That's quite a list for a struggling ballclub, or any team for that matter. This cavalcade of injuries comes as the Royals are trying to achieve two major goals: avoid losing 100 games, and play spoiler for contenders like the Twins and the Tigers.
The KC pitching staff has also been working short handed, with inexperienced youngsters being tossed into the mix to fill the gaps left by the likes of Scott Elarton, who has missed the entire 2nd half due to a shoulder surgery. The bullpen right now can be likened to a fishing boat with a hole in the hull: sure, it kinda sorta floats, but it's nothing you'd trust your family -- or your ballclub's future -- with.
So what's next for the downtrodden Royals? I don't know of any team who can lose five major offensive producers who also have excellent leadership qualities, and still succeed. For them to continue to battle as they have been in the last month would be the noblest struggle in all of baseball this year. The fate of the AL central rests entirely in the hands of a young, scared, inexperienced, and leaderless team.
100 losses? Maybe. But that's not what the Royals Nation needs right now. Instead, they need new leaders. Ryan Shealy. Andres Blanco. Luke Hudson. Shane Costa. Paul Bako, for that matter. They all need to step forward and show that this team has not thrown in the towel. I, for one, have not either.

Something for everyone, and why I hate sorority chicks

From Sept. 18, 2006.


Random musings for the week:

College football. I'll keep this short, though I could go on for hours. A lot of crazy awesome stuff happened on the college football stage this past weekend. I always love seeing Oklahoma lose, so the Ducks' wild comeback and finish was fantastic to see. It was even more fun, given that I was in a TV lounge full of people who were also passionately rooting for Oregon.

Obviously I'm upset at how Nebraska played. Aren't we all? (well, except Gary. I know he's thrilled about it.) Anyway, the Huskers completely underachieved out in LA. What I've been trying to understand is, why run the ball when you've got a QB who can pass as well as Taylor has been this season? And that LSU dude hurting his leg was GROSS. And yet, I could not look away.

Boston College beat BYU in 2 overtimes. Go Catholics!

I loved the LSU/Auburn game. Some people (mostly girls) told me they thought it was boring, but I can think of nothing better than a low-scoring battle between two highly ranked teams. The one touchdown Auburn scored was the first one LSU had given up in 16-plus quarters this season. Viva la defense!

Sorority chicks:
I have it up to here with sorority chicks. Now, don't get me wrong: there are plenty of perfectly cool chicks who happen to belong to sororities. But you know the kind I mean...the stereotypical "Sorority Chicks" who think they are so goddamn much better than everyone else. They dress as though they're trying out for a bit part on Laguna Beach or some shit, with their tacky giant sunglasses (which, by the way, look as if you're just trying to hide the black eyes your boyfriend gave you, so you had to run to the Dollar Tree and pluck up the first pair of big granny shades you could find) and (horror of horrors!) leggings.

See, every day on my way to journalism classes, I have to walk by a whole row of their houses. And they act like they own the damn sidewalks, weaving back and forth across the walkway so no "normal" people can't pass by without contorting in crazy ways, cutting through the grass, stepping out into the street gutter, or just lowering the shoulder and pushing those bitches right on down. Wait, sorry, that last one only happens in my brain. And then they scoff to some invisable other bitch on the other end of an unceasing cell phone conversation, completey astounded that someone has dared to use their sidewalk.

I don't know what they have to be so snobby about...I have something huge that they will never have: the ability to make friends without paying for them. There. I said it. Sorority girls are the biggest social disasters in the whole goddamn world.

And of course, Baseball!
The American League is looking unbelievably exciting in the next week or so, and I daresay that my Royals will be the deciding factor in who takes the Central division. We've got Detroit at home this upcoming weekend, followed by a 4-game series at Minnesota, and then another series against the Tigers, this time at Detroit. I think Minnesota has said "fuck it" to the Wild Card...they're going for the gold. And they're only one game behind the Tigers right now. Even without Liriano and Radke, they might just have what it takes to surge in the remaining games of the regular season.

This is the heavenly time of year when every single game of the season matters. This is when players truly do have to play every out like it's they're last, because every play is another one closer to their end unless they play their hearts out. This is when I don't leave my room for hours on end, because there's a game on, and there's no way in hell I'd miss it.

Incidentally, the Royals are once again out of the MLB basement, as Tampa Bay has produced that extra amount of suck to become the official "worst team in baseball." Kansas City might actually be able to avoid losing 100 games, which is absolutely astounding when you consider how April and May went. It's the biggest baseball turnaround that nobody is talking about.

One last thing...My roommate and I suck at life.
I've named us "The Strikeouts" because we both officially failed at life this week. Things can only get better though...I hope.

God. HATES. The Royals.

From September 8, 2006 on my MySpace blog.

Mark Teahen's season is over. He needs shoulder surgery

My thoughts:
1. I guess I'm glad he didn't wait. That would cut into next season, which would be dangerous for the team (Next season will be a huge turnaround, by the way). They defnitely need him in as many games as possible next year. This season's a throwaway, essentially, which is hard for me to come out and say, but I've been feelin it a while anyway.

2. What a champ! He's been playing through this pain for SO long, and never once complained or asked for a day off. The dude has got balls. And heart. And that's exactly what a struggling team like KC needs. Mark Teahen essentially has been carrying the team on his back, while suffering shoulder issues.

3. I will never ever ever declare a player as my favorite Royal again. Every time I do that, they have to have season-ending surgery. (side note: when I say "favorite Royal," I obviously mean "favorite Royal other than David DeJesus." Y'all already know he's my favorite.) Right after I declared Teahen and Shealy to be "the awesomest corner infielders," this has to happen.

4. As my brother Brad so carefully pointed out...It could be worse. "At least it wasn't in a playoff season, like all the Red Sox players getting lymphoma, heart cancer, death, etc," he said. Very true.

5. I would like to wish Mark Teahen a speedy recovery. I'm trying to find out where I could send cards and whatnot. GET BETTER SOON, MARK! We're SO screwed without you buddy!

MLB first-half thoughts

From July 12, 2006. It should be noted that I despise the All-Star break.

The first half has ended. Actually, the All-Gay Break is almost over, and I'm just now posting my first-half thoughts. Naughty me.

Still surprised: I still feel weird seeing Detroit atop the AL Central, and indeed with the best record in all of the majors. Am I the only one who still finds this strange? Honestly, I figured Chicago would be back in the running for a shot at a repeat. (Of course, the Sox are closing in on the Tigers, but more about that later...)

No surprise in the NL Central: Who else but the Cards would head into the break with a 4-game lead?

Weakness and Power in the Wests: Okay, sure, they're the 2 weakest divisions (at least based on their leaders) but I do like how tight things are in both the AL West and the NL West. It provides a nice balance for some of the divisions that are way out of hand (like the AL Central).

Not the fucking worst anymore: I'd like to thank Pittsburgh for sucking just a little bit extra these last couple weeks. It really makes me feel better about being a Royals fan (also more about them later...). I also think it's silly that the worst team in baseball played host to the All-Star festivities.

Pujols: I just love him. If it weren't for that damn stint on the DL, he'd be sockin' more dingers than anyone, and more importantly, the single-season record would be all his. Maybe next year.

And now, a couple quick predictions for the 2nd half:

The Royals won't suck: Seriously. With DeJesus back and hitting pretty hot, the new GM, and most of all the new hitting coach, KC has been playing some pretty respectable ball. They'll keep doing it in the 2nd half, especially with Greinke and MacDougal coming back. (Sweeney's coming back soon too, but I don't really know what to think of that. Where the fuck will they put him?) It would be neat if KC can hang on to Grudzielanek for the rest of the season (his contract is for 1 full season, but there are rumors that he'll be traded by the July 31 deadline...and with his 1.000 fielding percentage, I could see why other teams would come knocking for him).

Everyone's been hitting better (the team has hit at least one double in the last 30 consecutive games, woo!), and the defense has been tight as a nun--have you seen the way my boys have been turning every single double play lately? That's golden. Mark Teahen will continue to improve both offensively and defensively, and Tony Graffanino will continue to be quietly AWESOME. (I nominate him as the best utility player ever!)

The Tigers will cool off: I'm not exactly saying they won't make it to the playoffs, but there's no way a non-dynasty type of team can hang on to a lead like this forever. I expect the White Sox to close in on them very soon, and make waves for them in the postseason.

Jim Thome is awesome: Well, that's not really a prediction, but it usually end up happening anyway. He's one of my favorite non-Royals players ever.

Movin' on Down: Angel Berroa is now just 5th in the majors in GIDP (he used to be 3rd). Scott Elarton no longer leads the majors in homers allowed. I take these as good signs. Also, the Royals do have more wins than they are games behind--that took a while to do, but dammit, we got it now.

All in all, I just can't wait for the 2nd half to hurry up and start. The all-star break is the longest freakin 3 days of every year!!

Neo-Nazis and freedom

Originally posted on my birthday (July 3) on my MySpace blog. For some reason, this entry got more hits than almost any other I've ever posted.

Last night, I was channel surfing, trying to find some Law & Order. Well, Hell must be freezing over because there was a two-hour window without any episodes on anywhere. But when I got to A&E, they had a documentary about a group of skinheads in Alabama. So I watched that instead.

Racism is stupid. I'm just going to get that out of the way right now. I think that, next to Anarchists, Nazis are the most backwards, ill-informed group of people in the world. All these skinheads did was sit around and talk about how white they are, and how good it is to be white, and how great Hitler was, and how much all non-whites suck. YAWN. Seriously people. Grow up and find some rhetoric that isn't laugh-out-loud stupid.

But anyway, while watching the documentary, I actually felt vastly grateful that groups like this exist...they are living proof of the extent of our freedoms. Even though it makes my stomach churn to see rallies in Hitler's honor (with children in attendence, no less!) I am glad to live in a country where that's allowed.

Same goes for flag-burning. I don't like to see it, but I'm glad the Senate didn't pass the bill that would make it a crime to burn an American flag in protest. Free speech is very important to Americans, and it shouldn't be taken away--even if the speech protected is that of people with bad ideas.


Originally posted on Fathers' Day 2006 on my MySpace blog.

It's Fathers' Day. I want this one to be better than last year for Daddy. He was in the hospital and in horrible pain last year; this year he's at home relaxing with his wife and (some of) his kids and watching baseball. And me and Matt baked him a looks like a baseball and it's just pretty awesome.

I hope I can find a way to really show him how much he's my hero. He always has been. My dad is everything--a firefighter, a paramedic, a teacher, and most importantly, he's a damn good husband to my Mom, and the best father any kids could ever ask for.

Sometimes, like this afternoon when I was reading this week's PostSecret entries, I see how lucky I am. Dad has never spoken unkindly to any of us, he's never treated my Mom badly; he treats everyone with kindness and equity--often way more than these people deserve.

My whole life, I've been accused of being a "Daddy's girl." I've never denied that, and I never will. I hope he knows how much I love him.

To any fathers who may read this, or any stepfathers, or even guys whose girlfriends have kids...happy Fathers' Day. To some young life (or lives) you are an absolute hero, better than Superman, Batman, and Hulk combined.

Memorial Day

From Memorial Day, 2006:

I'm leaving town in like 14 minutes, so I don't have as much time as I'd like to expound on this idea. I'll do my best.

The way many people have decided to celebrate Memorial Day bothers me. A lot. Why has it become just another excuse to drink copious amounts of beer and fire up the grill? Or an excuse to buy a new car or hot tub or outfit because those things are all on sale?

This morning I got to continue my yearly tradition of putting flags on veterans' graves. What a humbling experience that always is. In McCook's cemetaries, we are fortunate enough to not have any veterans of this war as of today, but Mom and I always find veterans of just about every United States war. Just this morning, we found a WWII KIA who I had never known about before.

The sight of the cemetary, decked out in hundreds of flags gently blowing in the breeze, is a humbling and beautiful one. It's incredible to stop and think about the sacrifices all these men and women made, and the way those sacrifices helped shape the landscape of my town, my state, and my country today.

I guess I just want everyone to remember why Memorial Day even exists. It's not just another three-day weekend. It's something so much bigger; so much more important than the majority of people today seem to realize.

To everyone I know who has served: Thank you. You are incredible.
To everyone I know who will serve in the future: Thank you. The United States could use more people like you.

And to everyone who doesn't think veterans are worthy of every ounce of respect we can work up: Please move to France.

Great video--the true meaning. I dare you to get through this without shedding a tear.

No Pants Day!

This was from the bestest holiday EVER, No Pants Day. Originally posted May 5, 2006 on my MySpace blog.
Hi gang!
Today is No Pants Day!! I gotta say I am psyched for this, and I've been hella hyper all day! A lot of people in school participated, and we took a bunch of group shots. I was kind of afraid when the announcement came over the intercom: "would everyone who is celebrating No Pants Day please report to the commons area...."

At this point I was pretty sure they were gonna finish with "...because you're all in Big Trouble!" but instead all they wanted was to take pictures. Whew! A few brave souls who didn't know about the holiday before school actually dropped trou in the commons area to join in on the celebration! Gotta love that!

Anyway, if you haven't celebrated this day before, it's definitely worth doing. Just a fun day of leg liberation, and getting heckled by dumbasses who are too insecure to join in by taking off their pants.

On a pretty much unrelated note, I will finally have my senior pictures (the good ones with my guitar and stuff, not the gay formal ones) in on Tuesday morning. So if you want one, holla at me this weekend and I'll get it to you Tuesday or Wednesday. Especially baseball guys..let me know if you want one, and I'll get you yours first since *sad face* you'll be leaving so soon!


Addendum: The NPD people commented on the original post, voicing glee for my school's support of the holiday. Score!

Random thoughts on baseball

This was originally posted on May 3, 2006 over on my MySpace blog.


Here's my random thoughts on the Major Leagues as of the afternoon of May 3. I will write more thoughts later, when I've got the time.

Not a surprise: Albert Pujols leads the Majors in RBIs, with 32. In fact, Pujols is in the top 5 in a ton of categories, including (but not limited to) on base percentage, runs scored, homeruns, total bases, walks, and slugging percentage. None of these things surprises me at all.

A couple of surprises in the AL Central: Detroit is still on fire, just a half a game behind the Sox. What's almost as surprising is the way Minnesota has been playing, as they're a full 8 games back from the 1st-place White Sox.

Random stats: Three NL teams and one AL team have yet to crack double digits in numbers of wins.

Upcoming milestone: Elmer Dessens of the Royals needs just 6.2 IP to reach 1000. I say, they may as well just pitch him in whatever situation, because the team is statisically not likely to be in any kind of position to ever win again. :(

P.S. The Royals lost again tonight. GRRRRRRRRRR.
P.P.S. They are also using their 3rd-string center fielder, as BOTH David DeJesus and the refreshingly impressive Shane Costa are on the 15-day DL with left hamstring strains :'(

The Anatomy of an Irrational fan

This is one of my favorite musings, originally posted on April 16, 2006 over on my MySpace blog.
What makes a fan, a fan? What inspires a person to put their ass in the bleachers week after week, even when there are other things that could/should be done? When your team is successful, it's easy to answer those questions. In that case, you go to watch your team do well, you go to say you were somehow a part of their successes. You go because it's easy to enjoy wins.

But what about me? As you might know, I'm a huge Kansas City Royals fan. I was born that way. So what is it that makes me listen to games when they're not on TV, or even watch that pitch-by-pitch ticker that has? What makes me make that eternal drive across Kansas to go catch a Royals game in person, even though I know there's a good chance I'll be seeing my team lose?

I've been asking myself this for years. I've never wavered as a Royals fan. Ever. But I don't kid myself, either. I know the club has done some stupid, stupid things over the years. The last few seasons have seen an endless shuffling of various managers, and it's been a mess. I swear, if they don't keep Bell for at least 8 seasons, I'm gonna flip. But that's not the point. The point is that, despite all these shortcomings--last year's dismal season, some god-awful trades, constant mocking from everyone--I'm still a hardcore KC fan. I bleed blue.

I guess, if you look at it from a non-sports-fan's perspective, it might be a little silly. Why keep following a team that isn't successful? Maybe it is irrational, but since when has love ever been tied to reason?

Since I was little, I learned to fall back on the line, "there's always next year." Is that a bad thing, to have to utter it year after year? Maybe. But what separates the fair-weather-fans from the Mindas of the world is whether or not we do it anyway.

Go Royals!

DKM: so much more than great music...

This was originally published October 19, 2005, over on my MySpace blog.

DKM: so much more than just great music...but Oh what GREAT music!

Because I'm poor, it wasn't till a couple days ago that I was able to buy the Dropkick Murphys' latest album, The Warrior's Code. I promise, I'm not writing a review or a shameless plug for the album; I just want to shard something inside the liner notes that makes me want to sing high praises for the band off of every rooftop in the world.

Track 13 on the record is a song called "Last Letter Home." The concept was that it was to be based on general letters to and from soldiers serving in Iraq. There's a note from the band in the lyrics section regarding this song:

"We had already finished this song that was based on general correspondences to and from the soldiers serving in Iraq, when we were contacted by the family of St. Andrew Farrar who had recently died while serving there. The family wanted to tell us he was a big supporter of the Dropkick Murphys. They also passed on a letter that he had written to his mother shortly before his death in which he thanks her for sending him a Dropkick Murphys CD & said that if anything should happen to him while in Iraq, he would like one of our songs played at his funeral. He also left behind a wife, Melissa and two young boys Tyler and Liam. His tour of duty in Iraq was coming to an end & he was due to come home & renew his wedding vows with Melissa to another song of ours, "Forever." Sgt. Farrar died on January 28th, his 31st birthday. We were present at his funeral to grant his wish and played "Fields of Athenry" as his casket entered the church. This song was re-written to include excerpts from that letter."

I have long respected DKM as a band who does way more than just pay lip service to causes they believe in. This is one of many examples of how they do this. They've even released a ballad version of "Fields of Athenry" that they recorded for Sgt. Farrar's funeral. 100 percent of the proceeds from this CD go to a memorial fund in Sgt. Farrar's memory. (See the band's website for more info.)

In an age where bands hop on bandwagons for causes in which they don't really believe, DKM is a shining beacon of hope for humanity. They know, through their upbringing, that people are obligated to use their gifts to help others; they employ the power of music to make life better for their fans. This is from their website:

"In addition to hopefully bringing people together for a good time, we hope to share some of our experiences and beliefs in working class solidarity, friendship, loyalty and self- improvement as a means to bettering society (i.e. You can preach till you're blue in the face but if you're lying in the gutter no one's gonna listen. If you pick yourself up by the bootstraps and live your life to the best of your ability you may set an example that others will follow) THE POWER OF YOUR EXAMPLE IS FAR GREATER THAN WHAT YOU SAY!"

I'm out.