Saturday, July 4, 2015

The American Pastime

I'm a baseball fan. Grew up watching the Detroit Tigers with a passion. Grew up with former Tigers pitcher Hal Newhouser as my next-door neighbor. And with the sons of former Tigers outfielder Al Kaline in my Little League. The Tiger Stadium bleachers were like a second home for me.

I'm not alone.

Baseball has, for decades, been ingrained into the American fabric, and on July 4th in particular. Independence Day has been the traditional midway point of the season, the "measuring stick" for who will go to the post-season, for who will be buyers and sellers at the end of the month.

So on this Independence Day, I thought I'd list my 10 favorite baseball movies:

10: A League Of Their Own - "Rogers Hornsby was my manager, and he called me a talking pile of pigshit. And that was when my parents drove all the way down from Michigan to see me play the game. And did I cry? No! And do you know why? There's no crying in baseball!"


9: The Natural - "It took me sixteen years to get here. You play me, and I'll give ya the best I got."


8: The Sandlot - "But it was signed by Babe Ruth!" "Who is she?"


Worthy of a parody by The New York Yankees!


7: Eight Men Out - "Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player who throws a ball game, no player who undertakes, or promises to throw a game, no player who sits in conference with a bunch of crooked players and gamblers where the ways and means of throwing a ball game are discussed, and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball again."


6: The Bad News Bears - "Hey, Yankees - you can take your apology, and your trophy, and shove 'em straight up your ass!"


5: 42 - "You think God likes baseball? It means someday you're gonna meet God, and when he inquires as to why you didn't take the field against Robinson in Philadelphia, and you answer that it's because he was a Negro, it may not be a sufficient reply!"


"Maybe tomorrow, we'll all wear 42. That way, they won't tell us apart."


4: Moneyball - "The problem we're trying to solve is that there are rich teams and there are poor teams. Then there's fifty feet of crap, and then there's us. It's an unfair game. And now we've been gutted. We're like organ donors for the rich. Boston's taken our kidneys, the Yankees have taken our heart. And you guys just sit around talking the same old 'good body' nonsense like we're selling jeans. Like we're looking for Fabio. We've got to think differently. We are the last dog at the bowl. You see what happens to the runt of the litter? He dies."


"He hit a home run, and didn't even realize it."


3: Major League - "Ball four. Ball eight. And Vaughn has walked the bases loaded on twelve straight pitches."


"Here comes the 1-1 pitch ..."


2: Bull Durham - "You lollygag the ball around the infield! You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you? Lollygaggers!"


"Goddamn, I hate when people get the words wrong!"


1: Field of Dreams - "The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again."


"Hey, dad? You wanna have a catch?" "I'd like that."


THE FINE FIVE - JULY 4, 2015:

(1) I've never watched the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. Ever. Nor have I ever had an interest in doing so. I don't watch The Food Network, either (well, it's on at Planet Fitness, but I have my glasses off when on the elliptical, so if it's in my visual path, it's a blur.)

(2) My iPhone 4s batter is bad. The phone dies way too often, way too suddenly. (It died during my 2.5-hour mall walk today, right in the middle of listening to Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band's "Hollywood Nights" - gah!) My two-year contract with AT&T expires in a month. So I'm trying to decide between a new phone and a new battery.

(3) I've decided over the next few weeks to start going through my CD collection, cleaning it up, and donating several hundred to the Palm Beach County library system. I donated about 75 VHS movies earlier this year, and Phase II of the media cleanup is on the horizon. I'll probably keep a few select CDs, but for the most part, all of my music will be digital (stored on two separate external hard drives).

(4) Back to baseball for a second. About 4-5 years ago I was given the movie "Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story" as a birthday gift. Today, I finally unwrapped it and watched it. (This shows how far behind I am on watching movies and reading books; there's a ton of each I've had for years and have yet to sit down to absorb.) It's a documentary, and a very-well done documentary at that. It has an all-star lineup (Shawn Green, Hank Greenberg, Ron Howard, Larry King, Sandy Koufax, Marvin Miller, Al Rosen, Bud Selig, Norm Sherry, Kevin Youkilis, and narrator Dustin Hoffman). It's historically deep and accurate. And, seriously, how can you go wrong with a film about Jews and baseball?

(5) Speaking of books, among the baseball-centric literature begging for me to open the pages include Cobb: A Biography by Al Stump, Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life by Hank Greenberg and Ira Berkow, Eight Men Out by Eliot Asinof, The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship by David Halberstam, The Bird: The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych by Doug Wilson (I've actually started this one!), and the 491-page-deep American Jews & America's Game: Voices of a Growing Legacy in Baseball by Larry Ruttman. (My two favorite baseball books are Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy by Jane Leavy and About the B'nai Bagels by E.L. Konigsburg.)

FOODERCIZE
Weight: 246
Steps Taken: 14,315
Miles Walked: 7.58

STUPID NEWS OF THE DAY:
From The Washington Post: "Alligator kills 28-year-old Texas man during late-night swim" - not a shark!

FLORIDA NEWS OF THE DAY: 
From Deadspin: "Woman Alleges Permanent Neck Injury Due To Marlins' Shark Attack" - land shark!

WEIRD NEWS OF THE DAY:
VIDEO OF THE DAY:
The Muppets Take America!


MUSIC VIDEO OF THE DAY:
"Saturday in the Park," Chicago
(I think it was the Fourth of July!)


Friday, July 3, 2015

Flags of Our Fathers

Three weeks ago was Flag Day. Tomorrow is Independence Day. And smack-dab in the middle of these patriotic celebrations was Ditch the Confederate Flag Days.

Last month, in the wake of yet another "random" event that seemingly happens regularly - the killing of nine people in a shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., allegedly by an individual with strong racist viewpoints, the author of a manifesto targeting blacks, Jews and Hispanics on his Web site - a national push to remove the Confederate flag from public sites in southern states not only gained momentum, but resulted in said action.

State leaders across the south took up the debate over the prominence of the Confederate flag in their states following a sudden swell of support for removing the Confederate flag from the State House grounds in South Carolina. Heck, South Carolina Republican State Sen. Paul Thurmond - son of longtime U.S. Senator and segregationist Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond - looked past his own ancestry and said the "time is right" to remove the symbolic flag from above the statehouse one day after Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Lindsey Graham called for its removal.

In Mississippi, GOP House Speaker Philip Gunn said it was time for his state to change its flag, which includes the Confederate insignia - a sign of the slave-holding South. And in Alabama, Gov. Robert Bentley ordered four Confederate banners taken down from a large monument to secessionist soldiers outside that state's capitol.

"This is the right thing to do,” Bentley said. “We are facing some major issues in this state regarding the budget and other matters that we need to deal with. This had the potential to become a major distraction as we go forward. I have taxes to raise, we have work to do. And it was my decision that the flag needed to come down."

The action to remove the flag was as sudden and unexpected to observers as was the dismantling of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Both came after years of debate, discussion and inaction, and when they did come down, it was sudden, swift and celebrated by the masses.

Well, most of the masses.

It's still a volatile situation. The KKK has scheduled a protest rally for Charleston on July 18th, two weeks from now. People are upset the campy 1980s TV show The Dukes of Hazzard has been removed from syndicated broadcastWalmart, Sears, Amazon and eBay are among the national merchants that have removed the Confederate flag from their shelves. And southerners are still trying to cling to whatever elements of "pride" they have from a Civil War lost some 150 years ago.

Here's a novel idea: You lost. Get over it.

THE FINE FIVE - JULY 3, 2015:

(1) Less than 15 hours after I posted my comments about the Detroit Tigers - specifically, this part:
If anyone can explain logically why Joba Chamberlain and Tom Gorzelanny are still on the roster, please tell me. 
guess who was DFA (designated for assignment) by said team? Yep, Joba and Gorzo. {No, I don't believe for a second that my blog post last night led to today's decisions.} A pair of young guns are coming up form the minors to replace them in the bullpen. We'll see what happens.

(2) There is nothing in the world like a good massage.

(3) June 30th was the six-month anniversary of my purchasing a 2015 Toyota Prius. It was my second car purchase (specifically, my second Prius purchase) in the 18 months after my beloved 1997 Toyota RAV4 died. The move was unconventional for me in many ways - I had never before traded in a vehicle that was not paid off in total; I had never purchased a car whose model year was after the year in which I purchased it; and I had never negotiated so adamantly. The final sales price was where I wanted it to be, not including the extended warranty I added on (I felt it was worth the investment). Because it has the Detroit sports icons on the rear window, it's still relatively distinctive in Palm Beach County. So, "Let's Drive Red Things" ... for another 15 years or so would be nice!


(4) It's weird not being "actively active" with high school debate for the past three weeks. Next week, I start contacting incoming first-year debaters, and I've spent a few hours since returning from Dallas working on debate paperwork. But for the most part, it's been a debate-free block of time. No, I'm not complaining.

(5) My Twitter followers @MotownStrong jumped by around 30 today. (Partially by political pundits who saw I started following every presidential candidate.) I see you, 1,000 mark!

FOODERCIZE FOR JULY 3, 2015
Weight: 246 (down three from Sunday, June 28)
Steps Taken: 8,359
Miles Walked: 3.78

STUPID NEWS OF THE DAY:
From Reuters: "Meditating Portuguese actor mistaken for terrorist on Paris plane" - I hate when that happens.

FLORIDA NEWS OF THE DAY:
From The Miami Herald: "Dwayne Wade, Miami Heat reach one-year, $20 million deal" - Only one. Not two, not three, not four, not five ...

WEIRD NEWS OF THE DAY:
From ABC News: "Hot Air Balloon Mishap Shows Pigs Can't Fly" - They're hitting the ground like bags of wet cement! Oh, the humanity!

VIDEO OF THE DAY:
Remember Chernobyl?


MUSIC VIDEO OF THE DAY:
"One Step Up," Bruce Springsteen

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Truth Is Out There

THE FINE FIVE - JULY 2, 2015:

(1) Book it. The Detroit Tigers will not be heading to the World Series this year. They will not win the American League Central division for a fifth straight season. They won't even make the playoffs as a wild card. After being swept at home in a three-game series by Pittsburgh this week, they now stand at 39-39, have a minus-14 run differential, and are next-to-last in the AL in runs allowed (352; only Boston has allowed more). Detroit has hit into 80 double plays, easily the most in the major leagues (and the Tigers are threatening to break the MLB record). Their starting pitching, after David Price, is lethargic, and their bullpen may be worse than last year's fiasco of a relief corps. If anyone can explain logically why Joba Chamberlain and Tom Gorzelanny are still on the roster, please tell me. I'm a die-hard Tigers fan, but I am also a realist. The window of opportunity has closed.

(2) Having said that, there is a nice young core of Tigers who are playing well. On the mound, Alex Wilson has been a godsend as a trade throw-in last year. Blane Hardy has pitched effectively. Catcher James McCann will earn some Rookie of the Year votes. Jose Iglesias has a lethal glove and a slick bat. Nick Castellanos has improved as a second-year player, but isn't quite there yet. And J.D. Martinez will earn some Most Valuable Player consideration if the Tigers can at least remain competitive (and will earn more than consideration if my initial argument above ends up entirely wrong). But the lineup is inconsistent, and if things don't turn around in the next two weeks, I'm wondering if Detroit will be sellers instead of buyers at the trade deadline.

(3) I'm now following all of the major announced Democratic and GOP 2016 presidential candidates on Twitter (plus a few rumored to be running as well). Why? Because I'm a glutton for punishment.

(4) You can follow me on Twitter a few ways: my Detroit sports account @MotownStrong; my personal account @debateislife; and the Wellington Debate account @RedDawnDebaters. Most of my tweeting is on the sports account (hooray for live-chirping during sports events).

(5) I also highly recommend following my brother, Charles Gaba, on his Twitter account @charles_gaba. He's the dude who has essentially tracked the Affordable Care Act enrollment (and all things ACA) better than anyone in the White House or Congress (or even the mainstream media), and he's on top of things politically as well.

FOODERCIZE FOR JULY 2, 2015

Weight: 249
Steps Taken: 10,012
Miles Walked: 4.52
Calories Consumed: 1,910
Daily Calorie Goal: 2,873 (2,010 + 863 earned through exercise)

STUPID NEWS OF THE DAY:
From The Atlanta Journal Constitution: "Sister of accused Charleston shooter asks for donations" - for her wedding. Which was postponed due to said shooting. To help cover the costs of postponing. But hey, she'll tithe 10 percent to the Emanuel AME, which is nice ...

FLORIDA NEWS OF THE DAY:
From Bay News 9: "Unaccompanied minors left at baggage claim after Allegiant flight issue" - if corporations are people, children are baggage.

FLORIDA NEWS OF THE DAY - PART 2:
From News 13: "Jail time now possible if you have a fake service animal" - because justice is blind, and the Group W bench needs more hippies.

WEIRD NEWS OF THE DAY:
From The Mirror: "World UFO Day: The five most mystifying extraterrestrial sightings of the past year" - This calls for an X-Files marathon, because The Truth Is Out There!

VIDEO OF THE DAY:
Distracted Florida driver jumps open drawbridge. Jake, Elwood unimpressed.

MUSIC VIDEO OF THE DAY:
"Still In Love," Taxxi


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Back Like a Bad Nightmare

THE FINE FIVE - JULY 1, 2015:

(1) Hey, I'm back. Miss me? (Probably not; I've been active on Facebook and Twitter. But here I am, after about a two-year absence, to do this here blog thing.)

(2) Today would have been my dad's 82nd birthday. Happy birthday, dad. Hope you're enjoying the 2016 presidential campaign. I think I'm the only one not officially running for POTUS. Yet.

(3) No, seriously - Chris Christie is in the race now. I think that's 14 viable candidates on the Republican Party side of things. I need to get a scorebook. I can't keep track of everyone.

(4) Last week, I rescheduled the carpet cleaning for July 18. Turns out, that's the same day as the KKK rally in Columbia, South Carolina. Seriously considering rescheduling the carpet cleaning again and road tripping. It's a Prius; I can do this on the cheap!

(5) I think if my dad were alive - no, I know if he were alive - he'd be tickled pink about the past two weeks. The demise of the Confederate Flag on government property. The right for same-sex marriage to take place. The Affordable Care Act being upheld. I'm not sure how thrilled he would be with the actual ACA as a physician (most of the medical community despises it for various reasons), but I know he believed that everyone should have health care of some sort. I'm sure he'd grudgingly accept what the government created and hope they could fix Obamacare's inherent issues.

FOODERCIZE FOR JULY 1, 2015

Weight: 249
Steps Taken: 10,041
Miles Walked: 4.54
Calories Consumed: 2,340

Daily Calorie Goal: 2,958 (2,030 + 928 earned through exercise)

STUPID NEWS OF THE DAY:
From Alabama.com: "Gun-shaped iPhone case an 'idiot invention,' police say" - The owners probably have gunshots as ring tones.

STUPID NEWS OF THE DAY - FLORIDA:
From Thrillist: "The Definitive and Final Ranking of All 50 States" - Dead. Freaking. Last. #NoShocker

WEIRD NEWS OF THE DAY:
From The Los Angeles Times: "Woman gives birth, fights off bees, starts wildfire in Northern California" - And you thought you had a rough day!

VIDEO OF THE DAY:
Stephen Colbert, in Monroe, Michigan, wsg/Eminem.


MUSIC VIDEO OF THE DAY:
"My Town," The Michael Stanley Band



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Affirmation

As we approach the end of the 2014 calendar year, many of us take time to reflect on our misdeeds the past 12 months, on our perceived negative personality issues, and make resolutions to change the way we do things, to become better individuals and members of society.

I have done this on occasion, and like many I usually end up losing my way and reverting back to those negatives. Often it happens relatively quickly, sometimes it takes a while.

It's difficult to change our nature for the long term, even if it's a matter of life and health.

Nevertheless, while in the midst of my two week sabbatical from the education profession (what is commonly referred to as "Winter Break"), I continue the long-term process of rethinking my life. I am reflecting on who I am, what I do, why I do what I do, and on ways to improve myself - physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, philosophically, professionally, ethically, morally.

And I realize, without going into intense details, that aspects of my life are a sham.

When I was active in the Boy Scouts of America - of which I am a proud Eagle Scout - I lived by an oath and a law. Regardless of your (or my) thoughts about the Scouting movement today, the words I and my fellow scouts recited were strong, and proud, and true. And over the past 30 years or so, as I have gone on to undergraduate school, the world of professional radio and newspaper reporting, back to graduate school, and the education field, I have strayed. I remain true to some of the tenets; I have chosen to violate others. I look at my life, and in many ways I am ashamed and embarrassed on how I act and how I present myself, whether alone, among close friends, or in large groups.

I am not perfect, nor have I claimed to be remotely close. But I have the personal power to hold myself to a higher standard of conduct than I have over the years. And as I approach the end of my 50th year on this planet, I realize I not only have this power, but I can use and control this power, instead of being used and controlled.

This is not a pity party. This is not a personal bashing of self. Many of you know I have ridden the emotional roller coaster for years, often dipping into the valley of sorrow over the most minute and often irrelevant of details, that my moments of real happiness are vastly overshadowed by angst and personal depression.

I am a deeply flawed human being.

I WILL NO LONGER LET MY PERSONAL DEMONS DICTATE WHO I AM.

I REFUSE TO LET MY NEGATIVE PERSONALITY TRAITS CONTROL ME ANY LONGER. I AM BETTER THAN THAT, AND EXPECT BETTER OF MYSELF, DAILY.

Thus, I pledge - to myself, my family, my friends, my coworkers, my employers, my students, their families, and all others, that I, Paul Gaba, WILL be MORE trustworthy, MORE loyal, MORE helpful, MORE friendly, MORE courteous, MORE kind, MORE obedient, MORE cheerful, MORE thrifty, MORE brave, MORE clean, and MORE reverent; that I will be MORE helpful to other people at all times, MORE physically strong, MORE mentally awake, and MORE morally straight.

THIS STARTS TODAY.

THIS STARTS RIGHT NOW.

This is an affirmation of who I am, and what I choose to be, now and in the future.

May each of us take the time to legitimately look within ourselves, realize where our faults may lie, and strive to make positive changes for our respective futures.