A is for the Houston Astros baseball team

One guy who played in Troy was Houston right fielder George Springer, the 2017 World Series Most Valuable Player.

Having no New York State team to root for in the World Series, it was easy to support the Houston Astros. The baseball team started off as the Houston Colt .45’s in 1962, the same year the New York Mets also joined the National League.

The current name, reflecting the city’s role as the control center of the U.S. space program, was adopted in 1965, when they moved into the Astrodome, the world’s first domed sports stadium. They now play their home games in what is now Minute Maid Park in 2000.

But while the Miracle Mets won the World Series in 1969 and 1986, and lost the Series three other times, the Astros had only gotten to the Series once before, losing to the Chicago White Sox in four straight games in 2005.

After that, the team got pretty bad, losing over 100 games out of 162 in 2011, 2012, and 2013, the latter the year they moved from the National League Central division to the America League West.

I had another reason for supporting the Houston Astros. Major League Baseball teams have minor league “farm” teams at various level. The short-season single A farm club for the Astros is the Tri-City Valley Cats, who play in nearby Troy, NY.

Five of the former Valley Cats played for Houston in 2017, and one, Enrique Hernandez has been with their Series opponent, the Los Angeles Dodgers, since 2015. One guy who played in Troy was Houston right fielder George Springer, the 2017 World Series Most Valuable Player.

Coolest of all, the Astros flew a teacher of English as a Second Language, a colleague and friend of my wife’s, from Albany to Houston to attend Games 3 and 4 of the World Series. She had tutored many of the Valley Cats players who came from other countries.

I didn’t ask her specifically who she worked with, but I wonder if one of her students had been second baseman Jose Altuve, who was born in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, played in Troy in 2009, and was named the American League MVP for the 2017 regular season.

The Houston Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4 games to 3.

Pirate music throwback: We Are Family

Rodgers and Edwards suggested that they write and produce a song for the label’s least established act

The family was going to the movies. I got out of the car and walked a little bit ahead, hoping unsuccessfully to to exchange an old Spectrum Theatre card to get into the entity run by Landmark. They stopped taking them at the end of 2016, alas!

But the Daughter said that I had to wait. She asked, “And do you know why?”

“No”

“Because” – and then she sang “We are family.”

I asked her how she knew it; she’d heard it from some school mates. Did she know who sang it? “Sly and the Family Stone?”

“Sister Sledge. But a good guess, actually.”

I’m reminded of the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team, who used the song as the team’s theme song that season. It went to #2 pop and #1 r&b on the Billboard charts. It also went to #1 in Canada, and it was Top 6 in the UK, Italy, New Zealand, and Switzerland.

The Pirates had stars such as Willie Stargell, Dave Parker and Bill Madlock. They got to the World Series but were down three games to one in a seven-game series. Then I did something uncharacteristic: I bet a couple dollars on the Pirates in Game 5, which they won. I did likewise for Game 6, in which they were likewise successful. But I chickened out on Game 7, when they won the Series.

From the Wikipedia:

“We Are Family” was the first song that Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards wrote for any other act than their own band Chic… Atlantic Records President Jerry L. Greenberg wanted the pair to write and produce for other acts on the label, which Rodgers and Edwards considered far too big and established, e.g., The Rolling Stones, Bette Midler… The pair suggested that they write and produce a song for the label’s least established act, and that if they got them a hit record, then they could take the challenge of writing for a bigger act.

There’s a We Are Family Foundation, which “amplifies the world’s most influential, creative young people who are positively affecting our planet to power their work and ideas forward.”

Listen to We Are Family here or here or here (12″ version)

Cubs, Cronkite, and Halloween

Wet leaves on wooden inclined plane = nearly horizontal person, somewhat in pain.

chicagocubsI swear I read a number of people who treated the baseball World Series win by the Chicago Cubs as, “Oh, that’s nice,” rather than the astonishing event that it was. Heck, even Arthur wrote about it, not once, but twice. He noted that “Some things transcend all of that, and sport can, for some, be one of those things.”

And the stories I read about fans remembering parents, or grandparents, who loved the Cubs, but never had the joy of seeing them win the National League pennant (last time, 1945), let alone the whole enchilada (1908, 108 years ago; 108, like the number of stitches on a baseball). This was touching, for example.

I was rooting for them, once the New York Mets were quickly eliminated. General Theo Epstein, who got the long-suffering Boston Red Sox fans a pennant in 2004 and 2007, may be a miracle worker.

Apparently, there were a number of people who predicted the Chicago Cubs would win the Series this year.
***
Today would have been the 100th birthday of Walter Cronkite of CBS News. I’ve remembered his natal day since about 1980 when I realized it coincided with the date the hostages in Iran were taken a year before.

So much in the news has changed since his heyday, the 24-hour news cycle, and competing with the TMZs of the world, not to mention Facebook and Twitter as news sources.

I read his autobiography and reviewed it here.
***
Monday, I decided to ride my bike to work. But the front tire was light and failed to inflate, so I stuck it back into the shed, locked the door, turned around, and, as I wrote in Facebook about 45 minutes later:
Wet leaves on wooden inclined plane = nearly horizontal person, somewhat in pain. I’m hobbling to work now…

Managed to hit my head to the right of my left ear, and my left shoulder, and my back (wearing the backpack), and turned my left ankle. It happened so fast, I didn’t have a chance to put out my hand to try to save myself, which, I suppose was a good thing. No lasting damage, but I was sore for a couple of days, especially my back.

Got a very angry IM on Facebook that evening about something I wrote which a person believed was a mischaracterization of their feelings, and was quite possibly friendship ending, which made me both sad and exhausted, as I tried to explain my POV. I had a nice IM exchange from an old friend about something else I had written.

The highlight of the day had to be, when I was handing out Halloween candy, a half dozen College of Saint Rose students Halloween caroling of this Thomas Tallis piece. I even sang along on the repeated section.

That’s when I could still sing because subsequently, I’ve lost my voice; hope I can shake whatever bug is irritating my vocal chords, or my vocal cords.

Different take on the news

I need to get a different take on the news for a while.

You start writing a blog post, and sometimes, at some point, it just loses its joy.

Yeah, I was going to write about the lying Ryan Lochte and the other Olympic swimmers, and how he particularly was the Ugly American abroad. And Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada downplaying their actions may be a case of white male privilege– OK, probably is, while the black girls’ hair is analyzed.

And I was going to write about the Louisiana flooding and whether there was enough media coverage – the New York Times acknowledged it was slow on the story, but I saw it daily on TV – and which politician should visit when, and whether Obama was responsible for Katrina.

And there’s this story about Donald Trump’s health report that was released in December of 2015, when most people thought it was bogus. So why is it a big news story only NOW? Because there are folks with a conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton’s health, which Trump has helped spread, which the Democrats are contradicting.

Plus stuff about Paul Manifort and the Russians, and California fires, and explaining that this story about Obama banning the Pledge of Allegiance is bogus. I had thoughts on all of it. But then I realized something, that was just for a while, a little more important to me.
llws
That is: a team from Maine-Endwell, NY is in the Little League World Series, after going 19-0. The hamlet of Endwell is in Broome County, where Binghamton, my hometown, is the county seat. “It’s the first time in over 35 years that a team from anywhere other than New York City has represented the Mid-Atlantic region in Williamsport.”

M-E won its first LLWS game on Thursday, 7-2, over a team from New England, Warwick North (Rhode Island). The team will play today in the double-elimination tournament, which means that, if they should lose today, they’re not yet eliminated.

I need to get a different take on the news for a while and may take a hiatus from the cares of the world, especially on Facebook. Instead, I will concern myself with fastballs and turning the double play, for a little while. Well, except for the stuff I’ve already written, and if something REALLY big happens…

Baseball on PBS

Still, the series may be more enjoyable for those less familiar with recent baseball history, or those with lousy memories. And I have to think that if I watch it a decade or more from now, it’ll become more interesting.

I’ve been watching Baseball recently. Not baseball, which I have viewed from time to time, but the TV “two-part, four-hour documentary film directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick,” BASEBALL: THE TENTH INNING. I’m a big fan of the original nine-part series and have even borrowed the expansive coffee-table book associated with it.

For me, I think the problem is that much of the information was a bit too recent, and the conclusions drawn generally unsurprising, which is to say, I noted to myself, “Yeah, I thought that, too.”. I remember watching, in real-time, the Braves vs Pirates NLCS, 1992 game 7 with former Pirate Sid Bream beating the throw from left fielder Barry Bonds. I recall well the 1994 strike, and how it almost destroyed the sport.

I remember the 1998 home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, which revived the sport; I’m sure I watched, again in real time, probably on FOX Sports, McGwire hit home runs 61 and 62. In fact, when I saw the show, I said, “Number 62 goes right down the left-field line, just over the fence.” I DID forget that at least a sports writer tried to blow the whistle on performance-enhancing drugs, but was ignored; and, of course, I do remember the steroid scandal. Don’t know if I’m projecting, but I sensed a bit of, if not sympathy, then at least understanding about what drew Barry Bonds to steroids. It makes the interesting, if unoriginal point, that by Roger Clemens sullied by the scandal, it made going after Bonds more palatable; Bonds is black, a position player from the National League, and sullen, while Clemens is white, a pitcher from the American League, and at least more civil.

My favorite parts involved, unsurprisingly, the information I did NOT know: the exploitation of the players from the Dominican Republic, and background on Ichiro Suzuki of Japan.

Still, the series may be more enjoyable for those less familiar with recent baseball history, or those with lousy memories. And I have to think that if I watch it a decade or more from now, it’ll become more interesting. Also, for those largely unfamiliar with baseball, the website does contain a great deal of information from the past 20 years. The Tenth Inning will be rebroadcast on November 8 and 15 on PBS.

I did not know this: former Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams has played with Bruce Springsteen.

Speaking of the Yankees, I will definitely have to watch the broadcast of Game Seven of the 1960 World Series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Yankees, when it will be broadcast on the MLB Network. Film of the game was recently discovered in the wine cellar of the late Pirates’ part-owner Bing Crosby.