Saturday, October 29, 2005

Until Next Year

This is my last world series post.

I promise.

But I think the toughest part of us losing the World Series is the shaft that the Astros are getting. I'm not exactly surprised by it. But I think its worth pointing out.

We lost by 6 runs. No, thats not in 1 game. Thats total. 6 runs. in 4 games. All headlines read that we got swept. But that hardly tells the story. Each game was a tooth and nail grind it out loss. Heartbreaking losses.

I'm not whining. I'm not complaining. Its frustrating. We had such a great season. We came so close in every single game, just to fall short every time in the end. And yet all of a sudden the bitter fight, game after game, is forgotten. Lost. The astros, their great season, sunk into oblivion.

The White Sox deserve the attention. They're the World Series champs. They earned it. But the articles written on the World Series don't come close to summing up what happened. A four game sweep is usually easy. Not this one.


I visited my friend Cherie last night, who is a huge White Sox fan. She was very simpathetic, she didn't rub it in, but I let her talk about the series and tell me about the parade she went to downtown. But I told her that the crappiest part about the entire ending to the World Series was that its over. Thats it. Go home.

I don't wanna go home. Let's keep playing. Lets play a winter league. different players, different teams. I don't care. But keep the ball rolling. Let's play some baseball.

But nope. I'm stuck with football and (uuggghhhh) the start of the NBA. And don't get me started about Hockey. I've seriously never been this uninterested in football before. I can't tell you why. The Saints are never in it. The Buffaloes will be playing for a Big 12 title just like last year, and LSU is top 10. It's just not there for me. There was something better, but it's gone for the season. I'll just have to wait 'till next year.

Lucky for me, the snow is beginning to fall in the mountains, and my trusty snowboard should make its first appearence here in the next 5 or 6 weeks. It couldn't come soon enough.

-JJ

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Congrats

You know, I'll give the White Sox credit. They played well. But then again, I think that if the Astros had been just a tad better with runners in scoring position, i think this series is tied 2-2, if not 3-1 astros.

We were horrible with runners in scoring position. It seemed like every inning we got the leadoff man on...and couldn't get them in. It was the ultimate frustration.

One of the biggest stories of the series that will be missed out on because we lost is our pitching. I thought it was awesome. Sure, you may say that you rocked clemens, but he injured himself and he's just one of those guys that will have a hard time admitting it.

If we could have just had 2 or 3 timely hits to get some guys in, this is a whole different series. It's not like the sox blew us out...every game except for the first was actually a 1-run game. It's just a shame we got embarrassed like that. I'm really just happy we made it that far. But maybe its a natural progression. NLCS last year, World Series this year, and a Championship next year. Lets do it.

-JJ

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Don't tell me what to do

Don't come into my house and tell me what to do.

As Chris Ewing says "I don't come into your house and tell you not to wash your dishes."

I'm angry. I'm a tornado of anger swirling about, I'm really really angry. Mostly at Bud Selig and the MLB. Actually completely at them. I don't understand them. How do you justify telling the Houston Astros that they have to open their roof?

I know you may not think that its a big deal, but your taking away a huge part of home field advantage. A lot of it is mental. Right now we're losing 5-4, and if it ends a 1 run game, yeah, i'm gonna blame it on that open roof. I've heard that with the roof open, its the loudest stadium BY FAR in the major leagues..and if you think it doesn't matter, think about taking half the fans out of that stadium. You think that will affect players?? Of course it will.

The only excuse I've heard is that Selig thought they should take advantage of the nice weather. Well I'm sorry, this aint a lazy sunday afternoon here. We're not trying to save electricity.

The stadium was built by the organization and the taxpayers of Houston. They should decide whether its open or closed. Not Selig, not anybody in the MLB. I never heard any complaints during the world series in Toronto. I've never heard it anywhere else.

How about if we went to Chicago and told them that because its raining they need to put a tarp over the stadium!!! Sound absurd??? EXACTLY.

I've heard that the closed roof is an "unfair homefield advanage." Home field advantage is what it is. Theres nothing unfair about it. It's homefield advantage, whatever it is.

I'm so angry about it right now that I really don't know what to say about it.

I adopted the White Sox when I moved to Chicago....but as of right now, I don't think I can pull for any chicago team anymore. Can't do it. Maybe in time I'll get over it.

PS After watching our heartbreaking loss last night, I'm beginning to realize that this entire world series has been BULL CRAP. I mean seriously, nothing went right for us in Chicago. Absolutely nothing. We needed to come home. And when we finally do, we can't even get our roof closed!!! Honestly, what do we have to do to get something to go our way???? It's insult to injury, thats what it is.

-JJ

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Ira Comes Home

With all this World Series happenings, my brain hasn't been able to do its usual wanderings. Though I've been asked a lot who I'm rooting for...since I adopted the White Sox when I came to Chicago. I think its pretty needless to say that I know where my heart is....and if you're that dense or you just don't know me...go 'stros.

P.S. I'm watching game 1 right now, and if the Sox end up winning this game, Joe Crede is the MVP of the game. Without him we're up, easy.

But I wanna take this chance to fill you in on Joe Hays' little boy Baby Ira. I wrote about him a while ago, about how he's been in the hospital since birth. But just recently baby Ira got to come home for the first time, and it's quite the touching story. Even for me, the one whos been called "completely dead inside. Devoid of emotion." So I'll let you read it straight from the source.

-JJ

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

MONEY

YYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 17, 2005

UGGGHHH

I'm in need of a counselor...

I don't know where to start...

I just sat through the entirety of game 5 of the NLCS between the Astros and Cardinals. I shared in the Astros joys...and their bone crushing agonies.

As of earlier today we were ahead in the best of 7 series 3-1. 1 more win and we go on to the world series. a place we've never been.

It was 2-1 st louis going into the 8th, when lance berkman hit a miraculous 3 run home-run to put us ahead 4-2. I held my breath through the entirety of the next 2 innings.

I was at my friend Cherie's house, and both of us were on our feet, she doing her dance that seems to work for the White Sox...me telling my bladder..and my heart... to keep it together.

The Astros were created in 1962, and since then they've never even sniffed the world series until last year, when we went up 3 games to 2..and proceeded to drop both in st louis.

Chad Qualls and Dan Wheeler for the Astros breeze through the Cardinal hitters in the bottom of the Eighth inning, and the astros go 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth.

3 outs away and we're in.

Chris Ewing calls me, and I talk for a sec, but since his T.V. signal is 4 seconds faster than mine, I can't stand it and I tell him I'll call him when its over.

We bring in our stud closer Brad Lidge...at first I was wary because he's pitched so much lately..but in times like these I understand you gotta ride your big guns.

First guy strikes out.

Second guy strikes out.

Only one more out to go..i can smell victory...I imagine myself stripping naked and running through the streets with excitement.

The annoying fly in David Eckstein gets up and with 2 strikes on him, slaps a single to left.

My gut clenches slightly.

Edmonds gets up, and I know..I KNOW..that we CANNOT WALK THIS GUY..because right behind him was Pujols..who scares the living doo doo out of me.

Whatdya know, we end up walking him. 2 men on...and albert "i never smile during the game" pujols gets up. I'm reminded of those movies when the big hitter gets up, grits his teeth, stomps at the dirt like a bull, twists his hands on the bathandle so hard that dust falls off...just the meanest looking guy ever..thats pujols in my eyes. I think of maybe walking him..but apparently garner wants to take him head on.

We get him swinging at a slider. strike 1.

only 1 out away.

lidge serves up one of his nasty sliders...except it doesn't slide.

Pujols knocks the rear end off of the ball out into nothingness...it was so far it didn't hit anything. cards 5 stros 4.

I'm stunned. paralyzed. i call chris. he doesn't answer. i call again. he picks up. "I just threw up" he says. I don't know what to say. theres nothing to say. I dont know what to do. I just sit there. disgusted. 5 minutes later i pick my jaw up off the floor.

we go 1-2-3 in the ninth. game over.

now we go back to st louis just like last year. all of a sudden the momentum has changed with one swing. its a whole new ball game. A loss like that is completely deflating to a team. I just hope they players can fight throught it and maybe..HOPEFULLY..PLEEEASE just pull one win out in st louis. we've got to.

Tomorrow I'm taking the entire day to go for a long bike ride out in the forest preserve just to digest it all.

Tomorrow's a new day.

-JJ

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Baseball Glory

Is it just me, or is the Baseball Playoffs truly, truly AMAZING!!!!???....

stop.

If you're from the northeast, I don't wanna hear it. Actually, sure, go ahead and make your case about how your not enjoying it because BOTH the Yankees and Red Sox are out of the race..Thank God. We can go ahead and chop off the eastern part of the U.S. CUZ YA JUST DON'T MATTER.

If you'll notice, the teams that are leading the series' at the moment have on thing in common: Pitching. Straight up stellar pitching. It wins championships. Bottom line. We all know it but some of us just don't listen.

But on to my point.

The baseball playoffs is ABOVE AND BEYOND superior to any other postseason in..ahem..american sports. (I say that cuz the Soccer World Cup is pretty dad gum intense.) But heres my top 10 reasons why I think so:

These are not in order of importance

1: I spoke to Chris about this today. The common man can go. On tuesday, I'm gonna get online and take my chances on World Series tickets. About $150 a pop. Not too bad. Try going to a super bowl. You'll end up spendin' a cool $2,000 from some Large Corporation that has all the tickets. Sure, It's cuz its only 1 game, but I don't make the rules.

2: Any day the tides can turn. Who knew in the Atlanta-Houston Series that Chris Burke... A ROOKIE! would all of a sudden catch fire and win the game. Who Knew?

3: A playoff team is only as good as its weakest link: Case in point 2004 houston astros...good hitting, good pitching, great closer...couple sub-par relievers...the lose in 7 to the Cards. You can trot out a Jordan or a Joe Montana in bball and football...but currently the top 6 HR hitters this year are ALL out of the playoffs.

4: CLASSY PLAYERS/MANAGERS- See Mike Scioscia of the Angels. After a bad call lost them the game after game 2 he says..We didn't play well enough to overcome something like that. We need to play better... He didn't cry, he didn't complain, you take your losses like a man and you move on.

5: NO FLAGS!!!! Is anyone like me and getting sick and tired of stupid block in the back calls in the NFL??? We don't have penalties in baseball! You hit a homerun....YOU HIT A HOMERUN! How ticked off are you when a long play wins a SUPER BOWL and is called back on a penalty. Or when a NBA game comes down to free throws? Baseball runs smoothly..what happens happens..nuthin you can do about it.

6: All bets are off. Wild Card winners have won the last 3 World Series. Doesn't happen anywhere else.

7: No Fakers. None of this "I'm going just to watch the commercials" mess. Real Fans Only.

8: "One of God's greatest gifts is anticipation" as my Dad says. and theres tons of it in baseball. Final batter. Hanging on every pitch. It could happen any time...or could it....watch the runner...can't get the signs...step out...as the fans watch and wait..they can't stand it...

9: A lead is never safe....most super bowls are over by halftime. One swing in baseball and your back in it. When you score, you dont' have to give possesion away. Think you can win it? Go ahead..give it your best shot. It's all yours. A 10 run inning is at your fingertips....

10: Strategy..Houston-Atlanta 18 inning maration. Garner chooses to use all his relievers..it comes down to clemens..theres no one left to pitch. its clemens or no one. Garner rolled the dice and it paid off. You only get so many players on your roster, and once you take him out...thats it..he can't come back in. What would you do?

-JJ

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Homecoming

I got lucky on monday and with about 5 days off I got on a flight bound for New Orleans. Theres only 2 flights a day, and seats were few and far between, but when its meant to be, its mean to be. Since I could only come home during the week (my dad decided that i should just come home when i could, because $100 might not be enough to get me off for the weekend), I basically spent the day on monday with my dad at work. But most of the day he got to basically show me around.

Lunch was first...he took me to the only place in the city still open..a restaurant downtown in the french quarter. As you know, that area didn't flood, but for the most part its deserted as far as civilians. Lots of national guard, firefighters, policemen, and such. But this restaurant was somewhat crowded, seeings its the only place to go eat. And that includes fast food. My dad said fast food places are trying to open, but theres no one to work, and they're even offering $16+ /hr plus a signing bonus just to work.

After that he took me to the ninth ward, one of the most devastated parts of the city, where I could see water lines running across houses up over windows. Streets were littered with debris, stranded boats, tree branches, and the guts of cleaned out houses. All of these houses were probably going to be demolished. Signs were everywhere offering to gut people's houses. The economy here is pretty much being supported by destruction services. We tried to go to the lower ninth ward, which is the lowest income and the most devasted part of the city, but there was a checkpoint and you needed credentials to get in (which we had), but the line was too long. We had things to do.

After that he took me to one of the levee breaches...where we had to four-wheel through sand-covered neighborhoods just to get close to. We had to walk part of it. We found construction crews working on the levee, which still had a trickling stream of water coming through. Houses were destroyed, sand that came through the levee was up to the windows of houses, and the house right behind the levee breach had been ripped from the foundation and thrown 50 yards away. Everything was destroyed. My dad said that on a scale of 1-10, and the lower ninth ward being a 10, this was a 5. No comparison.

The plan for the evening was to cover a high school football team. Theres an inner city ministery called Desire Street Ministries which my dad is involved in, and is run out of the lower ninth ward. The ministry turned into a school, and recently they started a football program thats never actually played a game before. Scrimmages, yes, but never a real district game. Before the hurricane they evacuated to florida with help from Danny Weurffel, a full time employee who happens to be an ex heisman trophy winner at Florida and an ex NFL Quarterback. With his connections, they moved the school to Destin, Fl with the kids (i was informed that after the storm they found some of the kids in other states, and with they're corporate connections, used private jets to go get them). Anyways, that night they were driving in from Florida to play they're very first game.

After my tour of the city, we met the team at a church (we had to four-wheel it around a flooded underpass, following the national guard, to find the place) and my dad took pics of the kids getting ready. We headed out to the field where i just watched while my dad took pics. Danny Wuerffel was there, but his duties have nothing to do with the team. He doesn't coach or anything, he's just there for the kids...and maybe he gives a few pointers every once in a while. He also helps a lot raising money using his name.

Bottom line was, these kids were probably one of the most talented in the state, but they were not a team. They didn't know what they were doing. Refs helped them out, telling them what they were doing wrong without penalizing them. Consistently I heard "Hey coach, you only got 9 kids out here!!!" It was all a learning experience for them, but I don't think they understood that. I've never seen so much drama and emotion left on the field. During a 50-14 defeat to a small white-boy dominated private school, I saw kids cry, refuse to take the field, and just basically give up. They blamed each other. They hung they're heads. They didn't grow up with the concept of "team," but they would have to learn. If they played together and with they're heads, they could've been anybody. But they were just raw talent. After the game ended, at 9pm, they got on the buses and drove 5 hrs back to florida.

We headed home that night where I got to see my mom and just take it easy. The next morning I tailed my dad again as he continued his story and headed to Danny Weurffel's flooded home. My mom told me that i'd get to help find the heisman trophy. Hey, thats somethin i could do!

We met danny, his wife, his dad, and the writer at his very modest home and tried to get in the front door, which wouldn't budge. We went 'round back, past his flooded car, and got in the back. We found a toppled fridge, rotten furniture and mold everywhere. It stunk. The water must have been 4-5' in the house...and there were about 10 steps leading up to the house..it was raised. So i'd imagine about 8' of water from the ground up. They didn't live far from one of the levee breaches. They were in good spirits all things considered...they joked about how they couldn't find the olympic torch he carried in florida, which they found later broken in two. Not much was salvagable, except for the 3 year supply of lotion his wife had.

His wife later told me that my dad called them during the flooding and said he was in their neighborhood in a boat..and asked their address. He found their house and took a picture of it, which they now had and wanted to frame. She said it would save a lot of trouble if the house would just burn down.

Luckily, the Heisman Trophy was safe and sound and his parents house.

Since then I've been taking it easy at my house (parents are at work...don't have transportation). Things around my hometown are returning to normal, except for the traffic that i've never had to deal with. I went to the grocery store last night, and it took twice as long as usual. My dad said our population has gone from 250,000 to 350,000 since the storm. Theres TONS of trees down in my neighborhood, one getting toppled with 2 trees that is pretty much destroyed now.

Stores around here are slowly opening, but the moods have changed. The local news is...well everything about Katrina. Theres no other news to report. Grocery stores are back on their feet, though some items are still unavailable due to suppliers getting destroyed.

So that pretty much brings me to where I am now, where I finally got my dad's internet fixed. I'm heading back home..hopefully...assuming i can get on one of those 2 flights...and gettin' back to work.

-JJ

Friday, October 07, 2005

I LUV my company

I work for the greatest company...EVER. If you don't know who I work for, I'm not mentioning it for saying something stupid and getting fired. I've heard rumors of it happening elsewhere....and...well...i'm just not doing it. I think all of you know who i work for anyways.

About 2 weeks ago I received a phone call from a lady that was one of my supervisors in training, and she was just making sure that my family was ok down in New Orleans. I assured her that everything was fine, but that I really appreciated the call...it meant a lot to me. It may not seem like that much, but when you have 30,000 employees, it takes a lot of work to find out exactly who is from New Orleans, and who still lives there, and who has family there.

But what came next was completely unexpected. This morning fedex came to my door with an overnight package from the president of my company. Slightly scared, I opened up the package to find a letter HAND SIGNED by the 3 top execs in the company, along with a $100 gift card and was instructed to "indulge myself." Pretty much do whatever I want with it.

I was shocked.

I called my parents to see if they "had good use for $100", and after discussing it, we decided I would use it to pay someone to pick up of my 3 days of work this next weekend so I can go home and be able to actually see my family, instead of going home during my off days and sit at home by myself.

So needless to say, I think my company is quite amazing.

-JJ

Thursday, October 06, 2005

You were never wanted

This morning I was pretty sure what I wanted to post today about. Seriously, I could probably post something every day, but I figure I gotta give you guys a chance to read. So most of my ideas get lost. But today I had a pretty good idea, until I turned on the 8am sportscenter.

I had a good day yesterday. Starting at 3pm, my Houston Astros took it to the Braves and completely dismantled them and they're best starter Tim Hudson. Immediately after, Tony Graffanino completely botched a simple double play ball that helped the White Sox score 5 runs en route to edging the Red Sox, giving them a 2-0 lead in the division series.

Wait, theres more.

Immediately AFTER THAT the Yankees fell to the mighty Angels of Aneheim, evening the series at 1-1.

So imagine my dismay when I turn on Sportscenter this morning and see Hockey highlights. you know what? That doesn't even deserve to be capitalized. hockey. yeah. hockey. take that. I was disgusted. We just had 3 specatcular playoff baseball games and you're gonna give me hockey highlights? the only thing hockey does is take up valuable air time on sportscenter.

I could rant all day but I think you've heard this before, so I'll keep it short.

"I love hockey. I love going to the games. They're so exciting!"

I hear it all the time. You go for the fights and you know it. Thats the only attraction. If you're from Canada, thats your national pastime, thats ok. But not here. Not in my house.

Here's an interesting fact: 2 years ago the super bowl ALONE outdrew the entire hockey season in terms of tv viewership.

You're not wanted.

You left last year and never was sportscenter so good.

-JJ

Monday, October 03, 2005

Passing Chance

I sincerily apologize for leaving you with a lackluster informational post that belongs on an information card in the doctor's waiting room. But I've been working and staying at hotels with no internet connection. But plenty of time to brood.

Just the other day I went for a long bike ride along Lake Michigan, which is my usual daytime activity when its 60 degrees out and sunny and I really have absolutely nothing better to do. I get some exercise, plus I get to do some people watching.

On my way back from my ride, I ride pass this attractive girl, and I kinda glance at her, I kinda could tell she glanced at me, and BAM, that was it...OVER...the moment had passed.

And she was one of those where by just looking at her I could tell she was my type..I mean not neccessarily the one I'm gonna marry, but once that I'd enjoy getting to know.

I know what your thinking. "Jeremy, why didn't you go talk to her? Why didn't you do SOMETHING?"

WHAT THE CRAP WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO? I had a split second to figure something out. My only reaction was to screech to a stop, turn around, speed up and catch up to her, and say "hey, wanna go get some ice cream?"

I'm pretty sure thats what they teach self defense for.

Growing up in youth group, I used to love youth rallys and retreats because I could meet someone like that and have at least 24 hrs to figure out my move, how I'm gonna get in a conversation with her. And I like to say I'm pretty darn good at it...But at this moment all I had was a passing glance to go off of and a split second to do something. could you imagine me showing up 3 miles down the road after stopping, pondering on a park bench, then deciding my move and chasing after her? I guess that would make for a good story..or maybe an even better bloody nose.

I feel like that guy on the dockers commercial that sees the girl on the passing bus and jumps off to get on her bus. and finds her waiting for him on the other side of the road. But thats a perfect world. This world is far from it.

But lets be honest..this happens to all of us! At the train stop, at the airport, on the street...it happens all the time! And its kind of depressing to go home thinking you missed a golden opportunity...especially when you've had a couple of hrs to come up with what you SHOULD HAVE done. It's like coming up with that perfect comeback after you've been insulted..only 20 mins too late. Too bad. It's over. Go home and don't come back. You're through.

Am I crazy? Am I doing something wrong? (obviously so) Or am I just a gutless, yellow bellied little boy?

-JJ