Tag Archives: Albert Pujols

Thoughts from a 7-year-old’s Little League game. The biggest Nintendo question ever, answered! And the magazine correction of the year

I went to my 7-year-old nephew’s Little League game on Saturday, and man did it bring back memories.
Painful ones.

Like most of you, I was not exactly Miguel Cabrera or Albert Pujols in Little League. I spent a lot of time in right field; lemme tell you, you have lots of time to think out there in right field.
I also struck out a lot, and got hit by the pitch a lot (I was really small and pitchers had trouble throwing to me), and sat on the bench a lot while the “good” players played most of the game.

So yeah, except for postgame trips to Friendly’s for ice cream sundaes, Little League wasn’t always so much fun.

But Saturday I had a blast watching my nephew Benjamin, falling in love with the sport for the first time. He also played “right field,” but since these kids were 7 and 8 and it was a “coach pitch” league, right field was basically a deep second base.

He’s got a good eye at the plate, and seemed to really have fun while occasionally looking over at his mother and me and my Mom, making sure we were watching.

A few other musings from my first Little League experience in a while:

— Best part of this age group baseball is that the kids really don’t care so much who wins or loses. They go out, have fun, and five minutes after striking out they’re still pretty happy in the dugout. Despite losing 11-1, a kid on Ben’s team exclaimed “I can’t believe we got a run!”

— Apparently there’s a softer version of a real baseball that these kids were using. Man, wish we had that when I was playing, those bruises would’ve hurt a lot less.

— Most interesting thing that happened was the behavior of a kid on Ben’s team. This boy was clearly a player, fielding grounders well and totally on top of the fundamentals. Problem was, his teammates were, you know, little kids who were still learning.
After about the fifth error by another kid, Ben’s star teammate stomped off the field, threw his glove down and allegedly muttered “This team stinks.”
Thankfully, this brought a strong rebuke from said boy’s father, who said loudly “You want me to throw all this baseball stuff in the trash? That’s not how you behave!”

The boy didn’t play the rest of the day. Good to see.

–Few things funnier than a kid fielding a ground ball, not sure which base to throw to, so he just starts chasing the nearest runner or base to him. Parents yelling “Throw to first!” didn’t seem to have an effect. Pretty cute.

It really was a fun couple of hours, a brief reminder that pro athletes at their heart are really just little kids who never grew up and stopped playing.

** OK, I guarantee you that if you’re a kid like me who played Nintendo in the 1980s and ’90s, at one point or another when a game wasn’t working you took it out and blew on it, then put it back in and it worked.
Why did this work? I have no idea. How did anyone know to do this? Again, no idea. I probably heard it from a friend once and started doing it and it worked, and so I kept trying it.

But finally, the great people at Mental Floss (a really cool brain-teaser type website) have investigated the burning question: Did blowing on games really work?
Seriously, this article is fantastic. If you don’t want to click, they talk to scientists and say no, actually, all our blowing didn’t do anything. But check out why…

**Finally, you know how much I love newspaper and magazine corrections. This  beauty was in Vogue this month; apparently they called an assistant Secretary in the U.S. State Department an “interior designer.” Love it!

The silver anniversary of the Buckner game. More proof life in 2011 is awesome. And another disgraceful newspaper exec

There was a great World Series game Monday. Texas beat St. Louis 4-2, and I have to admit I was captivated during the final innings, partly because I so enjoy watching Tony La Russa overmanage and ruin his team’s chances on a regular basis (I hate La Russa. Probably irrationally so. But I just think he’s a pompous ass who’s nowhere near as smart as he thinks he is. Also anyone notice that all-world superstar Albert Pujols has only gotten a hit in ONE of the five games played so far?)

But today I want to talk about a different World Series game. One that happened 25 years ago today.
Game 6. 1986. Mets. Red Sox. Bill Buckner.
I don’t think I have to say anymore. Even though I’ve always been a Yankees fan, I remember where I was that night. I was watching the game with my Dad in my parents bedroom (I was 11), and when the Sox took the lead 5-3, my Dad gave up on the game and went to sleep, while I stayed in the room to watch (my parents’ room had the good TV back then).

As the Mets started to come back, I woke him. When the Mets tied the game, I think all of New York was awake and screaming. And then poor Bill Buckner let the ball go through his legs, and became a totally unjustified goat all these years (Why don’t Sox fans blame Calvin Schiraldi and Bob Stanley just as much for the loss?).

It was one of the greatest moments in New York sports history.  You’ve all seen the Buckner clip 1,000 times, so I put the next best thing up above: An RBI Baseball re-creation of the inning, synced perfectly to Vin Scully’s wonderful play by play.
And Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal wrote this excellent piece on memories from 25 years ago.

And of course, since Keith Hernandez is involved, how can I not show this? Maybe the funniest “Seinfeld” scene ever.

(And while we’re talking about Bill Buckner, a chance for me to plug books by my boy Jeff Pearlman (who’s on the NY Times bestseller list this week for his Walter Payton bio, whoo-hoo!), who wrote this fabulous tome on the 1986 Mets a few years ago. If you know a Mets fan or are one, check it out if only for the story about Rafael Santana peeing on a teammate’s head while passed out drunk on a bus. Truly epic.)

**So my sister calls me Monday night. She just got Verizon Fios cable TV service, which I’ve had for a few months.
“Did you know you can order from Cherry Valley (an awesome local deli where we live) through the TV?”
“No way” I shouted.
I then checked it out and within five minutes I was able to order a pastrami on rye (if I was hungry, which I wasn’t).
You can order food through your TV remote control and have it delivered to your door. Screw the iPhone, this is better!

Can’t wait until mid-December when it’s -12 degrees out and I order food through my TV.

**You know, I thought once I was out of the newspaper business full-time, stories like this would cease to anger me so. But nope. There are a lot of reasons my beloved journalism industry is dying, but sheer corporate greed is often overlooked.

Yet check out how the ex-CEO of Gannett made out upon retirement. This is a man, Craig Dubow, who fired thousands of employees and single-handedly helped ruin some wonderful newspapers.

Just despicable.

My main man Shaq


A note on tonight’s post:

So I was pretty overwhelmed with emotion earlier; I got a letter back from my 10th grade English teacher, Mr. Gehrhardt, after I’d written him six months ago and wondered if I’d ever hear back from him. He inspired me to do what I do. I want to blog about him but feel I’m too exhausted to tell the story properly. Tomorrow night, me and Mr. G.

Tonight?  Shaq.

I love Shaquille O’Neal. Really. I find him endlessly entertaining, and I’m not 100 percent sure why.

But I have a good idea. The guy just seems to have fun in everything he does. He doesn’t seem to take life too seriously, or anybody else too seriously. He has a perpetual grin on his face, he loves children, and he goes through life, mostly, trying to make sure everyone has a good time.

People say he’s incredibly cocky, but I think it’s mostly for show. I think he’s got a lot of Muhammad Ali in him, bragging so much about himself with his tongue firmly in cheek, all to get a rise out of people.

Here’s the thing, though: I don’t really love watching Shaq play basketball. I’m bored with that. I like watching him do stuff on TV.

I actually watched several episodes last year of Shaq’s Big Challenge, which was a show about Shaquille trying to help overweight kids lose weight, by inspiring and working with them.

And I’ll admit that I tuned into ABC last night for the debut of “Shaq Vs.”

It’s a show where Shaq challenges some of the best athletes in all of sport in their respective fields (OK, so it’s not “Masterpiece Theatre.” Sue me.)

Shaq will swim against Michael Phelps. He’ll try to out-homer Albert Pujols. Last night he played quarterback against Ben Roethlisberger.

I was fairly riveted last night, only because of Shaq. The show is mostly terrible; the “announcers” for the challenge make me want to stick knives in my eyeballs, and there was more “padding” in that one hour of TV than in a hundred Sumo wrestling suits.

But Shaq was funny. He teased Ben, he harassed him, and he showed off some impressive athletic ability.

I don’t know, the guy just seems to get it: He was blessed with some incredible genetic gifts and tremendous ability, and he uses his privileged place in life for good.

So many athletes take themselves so seriously. Shaq seems to get that it’s all a big game. He’s the biggest real life cartoon character we’ve had in sports since, well, since Babe Ruth.

He says goofy stuff and makes crazy threats and says he wants to be sheriff one day.

And I love him for it.

As usual, the great Rick Reilly can sum up Shaq better than I could. Check out this terrific column on Shaq from SI in 2000.