Monday, April 30, 2007
My first 21 years were pretty tough. (Cue the violins)
When I was five my two month old brother Derek died. When I was seven my parents divorced. We moved from the projects in Boston to the projects in Northampton. We were poor. My mother struggled with substance abuse, mental illness and health issues. Two days after graduating high school my mother had a brain aneurysm that burst causing her to have paralysis on her left side for the rest of her life. A week before I was supposed return to Westfield State for my second semester my mother had a massive stroke which put her in the hospital for four months. I had to drop out of school to care for my four younger siblings. The following year my Aunt Rosie and my Grandma Norton passed away within four months of each other leaving me without my "Holy Trinity" of maternal figures. As I turned 21 I was struggling to make ends meet living off my student loans, living in an apartment with a bunch of my childhood friends who were dealing with their own struggles.
My better half began the day I met my wife (read the story here under the heading April 29, 1986). Up until the time I met her I had no use for women unless they had beer or drugs or wanted to screw. She was the first person I met who demanded nothing from me. She was self-sufficient and emotionally stable (traits I never encountered in a woman before). I never felt any pressure to impress her or to constantly be in contact with her as I felt with other relationships. After a few months I realized that she was someone I could spend the rest of my life with because we could be happy doing nothing; just spending time in each others company. She liked me for the "real" me and vice versa.
We spent the first 15 years together living what I call "reverse retirement". Double income, no kids, traveling, enjoying life and each other. We've "grown up" in the past six years having kids, buying a house and dealing with some difficult adult issues. I still feel the same about her today as the day I met her.
Last night was 21 years that we've been together. April 29, 1986, Roger Clemens struck out 20 and I started my better half.
Friday, April 27, 2007
I'm jumping on the bandwagon!
Plez from Atlanta had a post on his blog a few weeks ago in which he inserted the SelectSmart.com 2008 Presidential Candidate Selector . It only takes a few minutes, but is entertaining and gets you thinking about the issues.
My results are:
1. Theoretical Ideal Candidate (100%)
2. Barack Obama (74%)
3. Al Gore (72%)
4. Hillary Clinton (70%)
5. Dennis Kucinich (70%)
6. Joseph Biden (69%)
7. Wesley Clark (67%)
8. Christopher Dodd (61%)
9. John Edwards (61%)
10. Bill Richardson(59%)
11. Ron Paul (42%)
12. Kent McManigal (37%)
13. Mike Gravel (36%)
14. Elaine Brown (35%)
15. Mike Huckabee (35%)
16. Tommy Thompson (32%)
17. Rudolph Giuliani (29%)
18. Mitt Romney (26%)
19. Newt Gingrich (23%)
20. John McCain (23%)
21. Tom Tancredo (22%)
22. Chuck Hagel (16%)
23. Duncan Hunter (16%)
24. Sam Brownback (16%)
25. Jim Gilmore (14%)
26. Fred Thompson (13%)
I never liked Fred Thompson on "Law and Order", now I know why.
Cut and paste your results in the comments section if you'd like.
Remember vote early and often!!!
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
As you know from my last post I went to the Sox/Yankees game the other night with my friend Hiroshi. Hiroshi is the owner of Beaver Brook Golf Club where I am a member. I occasionally work for him as a bouncer for various events, mainly UMass frat parties. We have much in common, especially golf. We play a lot of golf together and have gone on a few golf trips. He has been to many Yankees games at Yankee Stadium; a friend of his had season tickets when he was going to Columbia for his Masters. He has lived in Massachusetts for the better part of thirty years and amazingly Sunday night was his first trip to Fenway.
Sunday was one of the best April nights in Boston ever!!
The skies were crystal clear and the temperature was mild. We got into town about 5PM and went to "Game On" for a beer. Hiroshi bought a Matzusaka T-Shirt and a Sox hat at the Souvenir Shop on Yawkey Way. As soon as the gates opened we headed straight for field level and caught Sox batting practice. We stood at a spot between the screen behind home plate and the Yankees dugout in the first row. Manny and Papi were taking their cuts when we arrived. We spent the next hour drinking beer and watching the Yankees take BP.
The game was a classic; as classic as you can get in April. Matzusaka was having an off day, but the crowd cheered his every move. If you are a Sox fan (or watch ESPN) you know that in the bottom of the third inning the Sox hit home runs in four consecutive At Bats tying a Major League record.
Manny, JD, Lowell and Tek.
With two outs in the third Hiroshi decided to beat the "tween inning" rush and headed down to the men's room. As he was heading down the runway he heard the crowd roar as Manny hit a bomb over everything in left-center. He was peeing when he heard the cheers from JD's homer over the Sox bullpen. He watched Lowell's on a TV monitor on his way back to the seats. Just as he got to our seats Tek hit his dinger.
I've been to over 150+ games in my lifetime at Fenway Park including the playoffs.
That series of at bats was one of the most electric moments I've ever experienced at Fenway.
Hiroshi did do some translating for me. He explained that the Dunkin' Donuts sign over the right field bleachers with Japanese characters does not say "Dunkin Donuts" as I thought, but "Welcome to Fenway Park" (He said that they don't eat donuts in Japan). He also translated some signs that folks were holding up and some t-shirts.
Another spectacular, history making night in the Fens. Just me and my translator.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
I am going to the Sox/Yankees game Sunday night with the ultimate accessory for attending a game at Fenway Park in 2007, my own Japanese translator, Hiroshi.
I know, I know you are all saying, "Sully, you follow every trend that comes down the pike. First the parachute pants, then the "Tae Bo" work outs and even the blogging, but now you have your own translator!!"
If "Dice K" can have one, why can't I?
Sully is going international!!
Any fan can go to the old ballpark buy a "Dice K" shirt, a Big Papi autographed ball or Manny's grill (on EBay), but how many can show up toting their own translator to a game with Matzusaka on the mound.
First, I'll use him to try to get us in the Sox clubhouse by having my translator pose as "Dice K's" Uncle Hiroshi who came by to honor him before slaying the "Yankee Devils".
In pre-game warm ups I'll have him to yell out "over here" in fluent Japanese in hopes of getting an autograph.
During the game as I chant "Gaaay Rod" and "Jeter you suck!!" he'll follow in a perfect Tōhoku-ben dialect.
Truth be told, my friend Hiroshi has been calling his friends back in Japan and telling them that he is going to a Red Sox game with a real live "loud , obnoxious, drunken, Irish-American, Boston Baseball Fan".
To him, I am the ultimate accessory.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
When are we going to learn?
If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and acts like a duck....then its a duck.
I have been watching the drama unfolding at Virginia Tech. in the wake of the disaster that occurred there on Monday. The pundits and arm chair quarterbacks have been weighing in on their opinions and asking "how could this have happened?" and "how could this have been prevented?". My thoughts on the matter might be simplistic, but I think I can answer those questions.
How could this have happened?
The real question should be "when was this going to happen?". The description of the shooter by all those that interacted with him is consistent. He was a loner. He had written violent plays and essays posted on thesmokinggun.com and in English class. He reportedly had classmates, who after reading his work in English class, prophetically joke that would someday shoot up the school. High school classmates said that he would not respond to pleasantries and if he did it would be with a distant, far off glare. He would not make eye contact when speaking and would often mumble. He was described by his English advisor as "seriously disturbed" and her attempts to get him help through the counseling department failed. She even notified the police who said that there was nothing they could do.
How could this have been prevented?
This kind of illness doesn't develop over night. It hasn't been reported, but I would bet you dollars for donuts that this man had adjustment problems dating back to preschool. He probably made no real connections, had no real friends in elementary school. He may have even been a bed wetter or tortured animals. These are all classic signs of serial killers and mass murderers. Emigrating from Korea at a young age, looking different from other kids in his suburban Washington home didn't help.
Who are the experts when it comes to assessing children's behavior?
Teachers can tell you which kids will do well later in life and which kids will end up in jail. Teachers know who the bullies are, who the shy kids are and they know who are the class clowns. Teachers look our children in the eye everyday and see their inner-workings. They see how our children interact with the world on a daily basis.
His teachers must have known there was something different about this kid, but what could they do? Teachers have to kowtow to parents (who spend less time awake with their children than the teachers do Monday through Friday) and to principals and school boards who are unsympathetic to their concerns. If a teacher tells a parent that they have observed behaviors that are abnormal, then usually the parents become resentful and view the information as an indictment of their parenting.
We put enough burden on our overworked teachers, but there should be a system in place where our teachers can identify children with potential problems and have serious, comprehensive follow-up.
There was no way to prevent a mentally unstable man, fully armed, unafraid to die from doing what he did, but we need to pay more attention to our children and other peoples children. I am not advocating witch-hunts and refilling the state hospitals and mental institutions with people who have mild or even moderate mental illness. I do think we need to identify children at a young age who show anti-social tendencies and be sure that they are properly assessed and treated.
I am uncomfortable with labels. I have worked for the past eighteen years in the field of mental health and seen the damage that labeling someone at a young age can do. I have had clients who are carrying around diagnoses for decades after they have exhibited any symptomology. Labels have discouraged employers from hiring them, the community from embracing them and perpetuated the alienation that drives them further from inclusion.
In the case of this shooter, 32 lives could have been saved by giving this man a label and a chance of being treated for his illness.
If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and acts like a duck.... then its a duck.
Friday, April 13, 2007
I have gone to many Opening Days in my life. Some things change, some things stay the same. I will now compare and contrast my Opening Day experiences juxtaposing Opening Day 1992 and Opening day 2007.
1992: Nursing a mild hangover I drink 1/2 a pot of coffee while reading the Globe sports section, The caffeine brings me back and within an hour I'm ready to start drinking, again. I call my friends to make sure we have enough beer and weed for the ride to Boston.
2007: For some unknown reason my kids have already been awake for two hours. I feel hungover, but its only the sleep deprivation I've constantly felt since my oldest was born four years ago. I drink 1/2 a pot of coffee, but am still exhausted.
1992: We are already passing Sturbridge. I am driving, as usual with this crew.
Zucher already has two DUI's and gets really sloppy.
Eric has a penchant for passing out (usually on the bar).
Chris smokes about an ounce of weed per week; his eyes are permanently blood-shot.
We have already finished off half a case of Bud Light even though Chris isn't drinking, yet. "You're a bunch of fucking drunks" he wheezes, while blowing out a massive hit off of his bowl.
We get to the toll plaza in Weston and realize we need a light for a joint Chris rolled for our entrance into Boston. His lighter is dead from his non-stop toking. We roll down the window to pay the toll and I ask "Riley", an elderly toll taker if he has a light. He leans over and lights Chris's joint who is leaning over me toward the window. I say thanks and he smiles. He knows whats up. We decide that Riley is the coolest old-guy ever.
2007: We park behind the B.U. bookstore on the street. Its a 50/50 chance that we will get a ticket, which if we get one will only cost $25 compared to $35 or $40 to park in a lot. We roll the dice.
I pee in a bush near the car; my wife is angry she has to hold it until we get to a bar. Its nice to have a penis.
1992: We leave the "Cask" after three beers each and head to "Who's". During the five minute walk we lose Zucher. Chris starts complaining that there are too many people around to spark up. I suggest an alley next to the souvenir shop. He sees a couple of kids down there toking and decides its safe. He is placated for the time being.
2007: We are having a good time at "Who's". We are drinking $6 Bud Lights and we have won a hat and a key chain during some contests put on by some local radio station. Its shoulder to shoulder but people say "excuse me" and "sorry" when they brush by. We drop $30 on beer and decide to head into the park.
There is "Goose" a guy who is perpetually hammered and bears a striking resemblance to Goose Gossage.
Stein, who is always keeping score and pouring over stats. He looks just like Rudy Stein from the "Bad News Bears
(Stein is the third from the left in the back row)
We all head down to the beer line for a few more pre-game beers
2007: We stop behind home plate for a few photo ops then we head for our seat in the bleachers. We grab some beers and wait for my employee Tim to show up. I sold him tickets for the $23 per ticket face value and he offered to buy my beer. That raises the ticket value to $100 per. Tim comes up from underneath the bleachers carrying four beers, all for me!! (and Lori). He has brought his friend Jeff from Oregon. When I think of Oregon I think of green, sticky kind-bud, with purple and red hairs intertwined throughout. I almost ask him if he's got any, then I decide that I don't want to be curled up in the fetal position in a shit-covered stall with dudes banging on the door, angrily, pushing in their turtle heads. I can't smoke weed anymore without chancing disaster, so I live vicariously through Tim who hasn't had a drink in a year, but still partakes. He is living vicariously through my intoxication.
1992: The pre-game ceremony consists of a Marine singing the National Anthem with accompaniment of a band. No real pomp and circumstance, not enough to keep us in our seats. I see the first pitch on TV waiting in the beer line.
2007: The 1967 Sox are the feature of a 20 minute pre-game ceremony which includes the unfurling of an American Flag the width and length of the "Monster", each member of the 1967 Sox taking their position in the field (was that really Tony C.?) and the singing of "America the Beautiful" by Harry Conack Jr. Johnny Pesky even proclaimed "Play Ball". We all stay standing waiting for the National Anthem, but Ichiro digs into the batters box with no "Oh Beautiful..". Did we miss it. Am I that drunk?
1992: Viola is getting pummeled. We are all hammered. Zucher is passed out. Eric is doing the "head bob". Chris is getting bitchy, he wants to leave. I am drunkenly professing my love for Ellis Burks. "Your the best Ellis"..."Ellis we love you" I scream. Some guy a couple of rows down says "why don't you go suck his dick". I say "I will, right after I kick your ass!!". We have a stare down. Then I decide I don't want to be one of the 2 dozen assholes already thrown out and sit down. I am drunk enough that I just might felate Ellis, if he'd have me.
2007: Sox are up 7-0 after three innings. Beckett looks like Clemens circa 1992. Lori is freezing, so I head down to Dunkin Donuts to get her a coffee. The line is longer than the line is for the bathroom, which is ridiculously long. I grab a couple slices of pizza and head back to our seats. Tim has more beer waiting. If it wasn't 25 degrees with the wind chill factor those tickets would be a $200 value.
1992: Zucher wakes up and sloshes down to the beer line. He is shut off. The Sox have tied the game, so Chris is calm (he also took a few hits in the bathroom). Fossas blows the tie in the eighth and Darwin gives up an insurance run in the ninth. Sox lose. On the way back to the car I see the guy I had the beef with in the park. I call him a pussy. He calls me a fag. We go our separate ways.
2007: We are freezing. Its 14-1 in the eighth. We stay because in baseball you never know when you'll see something you've never seen before. We see nothing except for Timlin giving up 2 in the ninth to make the final 14-3. We walk briskly toward Kenmore and decide to hit a bar on Beacon, just to warm up.
1992: We finish the rest of our beers at the car then drive down Brookline Ave to catch Route 9 West. We have to take a leak so I pull over in the Chestnut Hiil Mall parking lot. We wave to the motorists with the hands we aren't using. Eric pukes which makes me puke. We pile back in and decide we need more beer. Zucher remembers that he has a six pack of "Micky's Big Mouths" he put in his nap sack for just the occasion. We crack them open as we head west. After a few swigs I realize that my beer is skunked. I roll down my window and throw the almost full beer out onto Route 9. I immediately realize it was a stupid move and concentrate on my driving. They all think it was hilarious and continue drinking their skunked out beer.
2007: We go to an Irish bar called "An Tua Nua" which means "drink our overpriced beer, sucker" in Gaelic. Tim is still buying, so I order a Guinness and Lori orders a Bud Light. We are there over an hour and I only drink half my beer. I have 100 miles to drive and need to sober up a bit. Just as we finally warmed up we decide to walk the 5 blocks back to our car. We say "bye" to Tim and Jeff who are staying in town to se Matsusaka the following evening. We have a bright orange ticket on the windshield. Craps, Line out.
1992: We get back into Western Mass and decide to hit a stripper bar. We go to Anthony's Gentleman's Club. Zucher pukes in the parking lot and Chris calls us light weights. They have the "B" squad working. No one gets a lap-dance, but a few girls are worthy of some ones. I am 27 and all of the girls look older. We leave, disappointed at the lack of quality girls. A block from the club Chris is mumbling something. I pull over and he runs for the side of the road and pukes for about two minutes. Cars honk at him as he heaves. He gets back in the car and we heckle and chide him for the entire 20 minute ride back to Nothampton.
2007: Lori and I arrive at an Italian restaurant in West Springfield we've been wanting to check out. We enjoy the hour eating casually without the kids. We talk about the game, the kids and gossip about friends.
1992: I am passed out in bed. Safely. I tempt fate once again. Lucky.
2007: We pick up the kids at my sister-in-laws. They are sleeping. We get them home and in bed. We pass out.
The Next Day
1992: I spend the entire day hungover, lying in bed.
2007: I am tired, but not hungover. I drink 1/2 a pot of coffee while reading the Globe On-line and listen to the boys play in their room. I reflect on the game yesterday, opening days in years past and other binge drinking episodes. I decide that I am glad I am no longer 25, but I certainly made the most of it when I was. I ponder how I've made it to 42 in one piece.
I started screaming like a madman. I ran into my bedroom and punched my pillow a dozen times. Two hours of my life ........gone!!
Look for my new post Monday!! :)
Monday, April 09, 2007
What a strange winter.
My kids were playing outside in short sleeves during mid-January. Christmas Day was 50 degrees. Easter Day 35 degrees with snow flurries. Daylight savings ended weeks early, but no one can enjoy sunlight at 6 PM when there is a foot of snow on the ground with a wind chill factor of 9 degrees. This topsy-turvey winter will officially end tomorrow.
Signs of winters demise began 10 days ago when the last of our late March, 15 inch snow storm melted away. A week ago I awoke to the sounds of birds congregating in the arbor vitae that guard my backyard. On Friday I played my first round of golf for the year, albeit in windy, 40 degree weather (I shot a respectable +3). The tulips have started poking through the frigid ground in my front yard. These are all benchmarks on the march toward spring.
No matter how cold it is or how much snow dots the pike from Stockbridge to Boston, winter ends at 2:05 tomorrow when Josh Beckett takes the mound at Fenway Park.
Signs of spring start in early February when the obligatory photo of the equipment truck being loaded for Spring Training shows up on the front page of the Globe. Hope builds when you tune in to a sun splashed spring training telecast and see Remy and Orsillo looking bronzed and refreshed as if they came straight from the pool. Spring is almost here when the Sox open in K.C., Minnesota or some other foriegn locale.
Spring starts when the vendors on Landsdowne and Yawkey Way fire up the sausages and dogs.
Spring starts when the first beer is poured at the "Cask".
Spring starts when I sit down in my seat in the right field bleachers.
Spring starts as soon as the hometown nine jog onto the sod with their home whites gleaming against the green grass.
Spring starts when Variteks's glove pops during Beckett's warm up pitches.
Spring starts when Ichiro digs into the batter's box.
Vernal Equinox? Forget it!!!
Spring starts April 10, 2:05 P.M.
Friday, April 06, 2007
"Every time you sin, you nail Jesus to the cross all over again".
I am not quoting a priest from my childhood or my grandmother. That is a quote from the sermon given by my priest on this past Sunday, Palm Sunday. I have not been in church since last Easter; its been difficult to attend Mass with kids.
Even before kids we attended mass sporadically, but definitely more often than once per year.
The sermon on Palm Sunday was different than those I've heard over the past twenty years. The "fire and brimstone" sermons of my youth have been replaced by sermons consisting of feel good stories, affirmations that God loves us and countless bad jokes. On Sunday my priest went "old school". I think that the sermons purpose is to make you think, so I believe my priest's sermon was effective.
Although I agree with his message, I differ with his words. I would have said "Every time you sin, you nail the person you sinned against to the cross". His message utilized guilt, mine utilizes empathy. There is nothing wrong with a little guilt. Guilt keeps us in line, but guilt puts the focus on you and brings to the forefront that "you" feel bad. Empathy connects your actions to the other persons feelings.
When you sin (I say when "you" sin because I never do, of course not) you shouldn't feel bad about Jesus being nailed to the cross, he asked for it. That was his destiny. At anytime leading up to the events of Good Friday he could have backed out and many of us Christians would still be Jews. You should feel bad about the people you sinned against, they didn't ask for it.
Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
Guilt is good, empathy is better.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Beckett looked unhittable.
How about that Drew!!! Trot who??
Pedroia/Lugo is the best double play combo since Doyle/Burleson.
Schill must have had an off day; he's still the Ace .
Only a half a game behind the Yanks. They are back in the hunt.
Bull-Pen troubles are over. No earned runs.
Those base running errors Tuesday were a fluke.
Varitek looks like the Varitek of 2004.
Dice K going today!!!
What a difference a day (and a win) makes.
Monday, April 02, 2007
I am no psychic. I am great at predicting the outcome of a particular play. For example, with Kevin Faulk as the single back in a spread offense on third down and long, 9 out of ten times it is a draw play.
I can occasionally predict the outcome of a particular game (unless I put money on it). Pick the division winners, ALCS match-ups and World Series Champion? Crap shoot.
Call your bookie, log on to your offshore account you haven't looked at since dropping $200 on the Super Bowl. Hide the women and children. Here are my 2007 baseball picks.
East: Reds Sox
Wild Card: Toronto
The Yankees will fall out of the top spot for the first time in nine years; Torre will be the first manager fired in the Majors this year. Twins win the toughest division in baseball. Toronto sneaks into the wild card benefiting from the bloodbath in the Central. Angels cruise in the West.
Wild Card: Diamond Backs
Mets eek out the East over Florida and Atlanta. Chicago rolls in the Central winning 100+. Dodgers and D-Backs make the playoffs with the "Red Sox West" winning the West. LaRussa will be fired (or in rehab) by Memorial Day.
ALDS/ALCS: Sox beat the Twins; Angels beat Toronto. Sox beat the Angels in six.
NLDS/NLCS: D-Backs beat the Mets; Cubs beat the Dodgers. Cubs beat the D-backs in four.
World Series: Cubs come into the "Series" on fire winning the most games in the Majors having both NL Cy Young Award winner Carlos Zambrano and League MVP Alfonso Soriano. Sox have AL Cy Young winner and Rookie of the Year, 20 game winner, "Dice K" Matzusaka and MVP runner-up David Ortiz (runner-up to position player, Vlad Guererro). Sox win the first two at Fenway behind "Dice K", who is now the number one and Schilling. Cubs win game three and score 10 earned off of Beckett. Wakefield rights the boat in game four. Dice K wins game five, as well as the series MVP, throwing nine consecutive Gyro-balls, striking out the side, to end a complete game shutout. "I save gyro barrl for when rearry, rearry need" he says in a post game interview while being sprayed with Suntory beer, without an interpreter.
Red Sox vs Royals at 4:10 PM. First game in a World Championship season.
Sox: 6 Royals: 1