Category Archives: Sports

The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.

Pay It Forward

[Suck Creek Mountain]

Today, Sio and I went to a Chattanooga Lookouts game at the new (to me) BellSouth Stadium. The Lookouts took on the Jacksonville Sun, and lost. That, though, isn’t the part of the day worth retelling.

We got to the stadium early — hat front row seats for a midday game — and watched the players stretching and throwing, preparing for the game. We had some obnoxious kids sitting one section over from us, and all they did all day was yell at the players, calling them names, and then asking for baseballs, bats, helmets, etc. Pretty ugly from my perspective. They appeared to be there with their grandfather, and he was doing nothing to reel them in. I go through a whole year without hearing as many racial slurs as I heard from those two kids during the game. And they only stayed until the fourth inning! 🙂

Midway through the game, the Lookouts first baseman, Travis Wilson (#41), caught an inning ending foul ball ten feet in front of us, and tossed it to us… much to the dismay of the redneck kids one section down. Proof to me that quiet and cute (as Sio is) works much better than obnoxious and loud (as those kids were). That was Sio’s first game ball (mine too!) and she was thrilled!

A couple of innings later a foul ball was hit our way, between us and a group of guys watching the game. Sio ambled up for the ball nonchalantly, as did one of that group. Sio basically let him have that ball, but his buddies chided him into tossing it to Sio. Two game balls! That was thrilling for both of us.

As we started to leave after the game, Sio asked where the second ball was. I pulled it out of my camera bag, and gave it to her. She promptly walked over to the fan that threw her the ball, and gave it to him. She told him that he really deserved it. He tried to have her keep it, but she insisted. I think he and I both were bowled over at the generosity of my child. We talked for a bit, and he introduced himself as Chris Thompson.

Sio contends that him giving it to her in the first place was one of the nicest things a stranger has done for her, and she felt like that should be rewarded. She says that “you just don’t see that kind of kindness in the world anymore.” Such profound wisdom from the mind of a ten-year-old.

Chris, wherever you are, enjoy your baseball. We both saw something very special today. Pay it forward.

All-Star Day

Today was the All-Star Game, and I watched the National League take it on the chin early on, and eventually go down in defeat. The Cards had the infield mostly covered, and made a good showing, but it was not enough. Who’da thunk Roger Clemens would look so bad?!

The thing that was really impressive to me was the appearance of Muhammed Ali to assist in the throwing out of the first pitch. This was amazing. It was fun to see that, despite his illness, he was able to still play and have fun with the major league players on the field with him. I’m not a big boxing fan, but I truly believe that his bravery in facing his illness exceeds any he ever exhibited in the ring.

Home Run Derby

I relish the home run derby the day before the All Star game. It is, to me, one of the most awesome displays of power in sports. It’d be like a bunch of quarterbacks throwing 70 yard touchdowns… over and over and over.

The game’s in Houston this year in the ex-Enron stadium (Tropicana, now?), which is a cool looking place. However, I had no idea you could actually hit a ball out of the stadium until I saw this year’s home run derby participants doing it repeatedly. What a show!

Leading up to the All-Star Break

So today, the Cards had a chance to increase their lead over the Cubs to eight games by winning their ninth in a row. A chance.

As chances sometimes do, this one didn’t pan out, and my Cards got pummelled by the Cubbies in front the country on the day before the All-Star break. Ugh.

However, it looked *great* in HD. ESPN-HD carried the game, and it was marvelous! My amazement has not yet ceased where the quality of HD broadcasts is concerned.

During ESPN’s broadcast, they reflected back to the home run race between McGuire and Sosa in 1998, touting that that race saved baseball and brought the fans back. Truthfully, I think Cal Ripken’s “iron man” streak was probably the beginning of that, but the home run race, I’m sure, helped considerably.

I was in St. Louis when McGuire broke the record, and shortly before the end of the season, went to England for three months on company business. As I discovered, they love American football there, but baseball is almost totally lost on them. The office I worked in would ocassionally get the previous day’s USA Today, and there I could keep up with the herculean numbers both McGuire and Sosa were putting up. The papers in London, if they mentioned it at all, would put it on the last page of the sports section.

It’s interesting to see how the end of that race played out, through almost fresh eyes, given that I didn’t experience it first hand, and see the impact that it has left on folks.

It’s funny to me that, with Bonds holding the single-season record and closing in on the career record for home runs, we collectively seem to think instead about the race between McGuire and Sosa six years ago.

Cards on Fire

Sio and I scored some tickets to the Cards-Cubs game for today. Kelly got some from a client of her’s, and was unable to go — our gain! This was the third time I’d seen the Cards-Cubs play at Busch this season, and tickets for all those games were free to me. I must be living right!

We trudged down there, and realized that it was as hot as the sun inside that stadium. We sat in the front row of the upper deck, and felt some nice updrafts from the luxury booths beneath us, but that wasn’t enough to cool us off. Four innings of 95+ degrees, upper deck, no shade, no breeze, and blazing sun just flat took it out of us, and we were ready to fall into heat-induced comas. 🙂 We headed home and watched the finale on tv after we got home, and as it ends up, the Cards didn’t need us, and beat the Cubbies 5-2. That’s eight in a row, and puts us eight up over the second place… Cubbies. We play ’em again tomorrow, and have a good shot to be nine up before the All Star break.

I’m still impressed that MLB has continued with the tradition of singing God Bless America before each game. I think that is such a fitting tribute to our country, and is such a rallying cry for all of us. Somehow, it just feels as though we are one people, striving to make this the shining city on the hill.

Field of Dreams


The 15th anniversary edition of Field of Dreams was released this week on DVD, and naturally, I picked it up. I still believe this to be the best baseball films out there, although The Natural is an awfully close second.

I still can’t believe how much this film can inspire me, even after all these years. We should each be so lucky to find something to passionately believe in and strive for, as Kevin Costner’s character does in the film. I continue to listen to…. whatever…. and hope to find some kind of passionate calling out there. Some folks have told me that they believe I’ve already found it, but haven’t really acted on it. They may be right.

I hadn’t thought about it until now, but it’s rather appropriate that we finished this up in the wee hours of Father’s Day. Ulitimately, this film is about fathers and sons. Ray sacrifices everything, without question, unknowing that his actions would bring his father back, for one brief instant in time.

Like Costner’s character, I’d give it all up for one more afternoon in the shop with Dad. One more afternoon, not to ask what Heaven is like, or details of his life, but just one more afternoon of doing projects around the house, and being his helper one more time.



[San Francisco, CA]

BEA, HP and Intel took us all to the Giants-Diamondback game tonight at SBC Park (formerly PacBell Park). We had a tent full of free food, free beer and loud music before the game…. that was tough to live through! 🙂

Our seats were on the first base side, waaaaaay up in the nosebleed section. This was fortuitous, as the view from there was amazing. The sun had set, the bay was dimly lit, and you could watch the ships go by. Truly a beautiful sight!

I’ve got to get back out there for a game again, and enjoy it with a little less alcohol in my system!

Cubs vs Cards

Kurt and I went to the Cubs vs. Cards game down at Busch tonight.

Rain. Cold. And a loss. Blecch!

I think it rained the whole time we were there. I tried to take some photos, but didn’t have much luck, as the rain started coming down pretty hard midway through. We even had to retreat to the ramps to watch the last two and half innings — it was just too miserable out there!

Despite all the rain, the game wasn’t slowed down or delayed, and the Cards almost pulled it out.

As is always true, it’s fun to watch the fans of these two teams. It’s kinda like siblings — always razzing each other, and sometimes just on the verge of violence! I did, however, get to witness a wedding and a proposal at the statue of Stan the Man.

Stan was pretty busy today!


Tonight was the opening salvo of the NASCAR season — the Bud Shootout at Daytona. For the record, Dale Jarrett pulled off the win.

For me, though, the opening of NASCAR season (the Nextel Cup — that’s gonna be hard to get used to!) marks the awakening of the world from winter, and hints at the arrival of spring, and Sundays spent watching 43 drivers turn left a lot (except at the road courses) at exceeding high speeds (except at Bristol).

It also means that Frank and I need to figure out what race we’re gonna hit this year. It was ‘Dega last year. My vote is for a night race at Bristol (if there is one this year). Something about the night races that just appeals to me. However, it’d be a better photo shoot at a day race.

And I’ll need a bigger lens. At ‘Dega, I shot with a 75-300 slooooow Canon lens, and for the overcast days we had, it wasn’t a great shoot.

So c’mon NASCAR — I’m ready!

Blue Thursday


Tonight, Frank and I went to the Blues game. The game was abysmal, with only a few sparks of life from the hapless Blues. They had the best record in the league for much of the first part of the season, but have fallen off significantly since then, and just can’t seem to win a game. Tonight was no different.

What was a mess was my shooting some photos at the game. I checked the Blues and Saavis Center web sites. Everything there indicated that still cameras were allowed — like the other sports venues I’ve been to, they just didn’t want video. So I went, camera and long lens in bag, to Saavis.

I entered, opened my bag for inspection. No complaints.

I shot the whole first period. No complaints.

During the first intermission, “Jesse” from Security came by and asked if I had a shorter lens. I didn’t — didn’t think I’d need it. Now, at this point, I thought someone had complained that maybe I was in their way, although I couldn’t see how.

Jesse let me know that I would have to check my camera in with the Customer Relations folks, as “professional” cameras like mine weren’t allowed.

What it finally boiled down to was this. Despite a policy that allows still cameras, they seem to get nervous about long lenses. Jesse said that had I a shorter lens, I could’ve continuted to shoot with that, despite at another point in my ten minute conversation, him telling me that they shouldn’t have even let me in with my camera.

I haven’t decided how far to pursue this. It’s really not worth a big fight, but I know I was in the right, and they were just freaking out over something that on the big scale of things was chump change.