Sunday, July 29, 2007

"If you build it..."

My brother and I got a chance to visit a place that was on my "to-do" list before I die. This weekend we went and visited the Field of Dreams. For those of you that live in a cave or are too young to know, it is a famous inspirational sports movie. It was nominated for three Oscars. Kevin Costner starred in the movie and Ray Liotta and James Earl Jones were also in the movie. The field is in Dyersville, Iowa. My brother did not even know there was such a place. He just assumed it was a movie set or something like that.

It was a perfect day and I kept replaying scenes of the movie in my head as I looked at the field, and the the house, from different angles. All the characters were still fresh in my mind as if I was in the movie with them. Ray Kinsella, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, Terence Mann, "Moonlight" Graham, and John Kinsella were all with me Saturday. I don't think the sound, and smell, of field corn on a summer day will ever mean the same to me. My brother and I both commented on the sound of the corn rustling in the breeze out in the outfield. The sound, though kind of ominous, was almost enough to make you think a story like this could be possible.

I have always loved baseball and visiting this field solidified my love of the game. The movie is all about second chances. "Shoeless" Joe Jackson and the the other White Sox players that were banned from the game , get another chance to play baseball on this field. Ray Kinsella gets a chance to play catch with his father, and Terence Mann gets to write about the adventure of a lifetime.

Yes, they built it and we came. Was it heaven? No, but about as close as you are going to get here on earth, for a kid at heart, remembering the game he loves.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Pro Sports Are Turning Into A Joke

Steroids, dog fighting, refs throwing games, oh my!

Tim Donaghy must not have a brain in his head! He was a NBA ref with a gambling problem, which connects him with a bookie who is connected with the mob. He threw games! "Gee, I don't think anybody will notice." Professional sports are really starting to infuriate me! Skill and hard work seem to be valued less and less! Now you can't watch a game in any pro sport without linking it to professional wrestling. I mean, come on, who knows, maybe all playoff series are scripted! Maybe at least one ref, umpire, or official is taking a cut in some way or another. Maybe at least one player is engaging in something illegal to make an extra buck, or recuperate faster, during a series. I don't think in today's professional sports we can ever be sure anymore that these players, refs (officials), are doing what they are doing for the love of the game and the respectability of the sport.

What are people thinking? I do think this story has dried up some of the controversy surrounding steroids and Michael Vick. Good for Barry and Michael. Bad for the NBA. Right now, I don't know if I will watch an NBA game this upcoming season. What is the point? I guess I could call the refs and see if my team (Lakers) is going to come out on top. I have a few words for all involved in professional sports...pride, dignity, love of the game, honesty, heritage, and history. By the way, don't forget who pays your salary, THE FANS! No fans, no salary. I guess what it boils down to is more money= more scandals and controversy.

Growing up I would have played pro baseball for free! I wanted to be known as the kid from the small town that made it big, loved the game, and did everything he could to get there. Unfortunately, I did not have the talent. I think somewhere along the line the people involved in pro sports have forgotten why they are "playing" in the first place!

Friday, July 20, 2007

The School Itch

Well, I'm itchy again! It is that time of summer when my body starts to tell me to get my mind, and body, back into school form. It is time to start getting a routine going. It is time to start the beginning of the school year prep. It is time to get those Powerpoints done for my new class. It is time to get all the summer projects wrapped up. Before you know it it will be the final blowout of the summer. In my case it is the KC BBQ. This is a last chance to get together with friends and cut loose one more time before the school year kicks off.

You might say, "It is only the third week in July!". You are correct! I am, as accused by my students, my wife, and my co-workers, a neat freak, an over organized organizer. It did not take me long in my teaching career to figure out that the sooner you get stuff done the more time you have to handle surprises. Believe me, in teaching, every year there are surprises! This will be my 16th year teaching. I know, I am old. There is just something about knowing you are completely ready for that first day of school. The first few days are less stressful. I feel more at ease. The students feel more at ease. EVERYONE is more at ease! So I am guilty as accused! I am organized, motivated, and ready for the 2007-2008 school year to begin!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Homerun Chase

As of today, Barry Bonds is four home runs behind Hank Aaron. Barry is at 751 and Hank ended his career with 755. What does this record mean? Does it mean the same now as it did 33 years ago when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's record? I don't think it does, for two reasons. First, when Aaron did it there was racial tension concerning the record. I think Hank had to handle more pressure. Secondly, the issue of steroids was not in the picture.

If Barry did (does) steroids I have two thoughts on this. First, I do not condone the taking of steroids for athletic enhancement and quicker recovery. Secondly, that being said, I do think that for any person to reach this plateau in the sports world it takes much more than steroids to get them there. I am saying, in simple terms, that the person hitting the home runs still has to be able to hit the ball a certain way to get it out of the park. If this wasn't the case we would have many body builders, and such, beating the snot out of every home run record known.

I do think, for whatever reason, the issue of steroids will affect Barry Bond's induction into the Hall of Fame. Of course, this is a entirely different issue and I am sure I will revisit it when the time comes.

Will you tune in to see the record broken? I will, simply for the curiosity factor. How will he be received? Will he be booed? Will he be treated as a hero? It is like an ending to a good movie. You just don't know.

Monday, July 16, 2007

More on the Smoking Ban

The smoking ban is now moving to outdoors! I don't think I agree with this particular stance but I am sure that many people have reasons why this is a good idea. I recently got to discuss this topic (smoking ban in general) with my wife's uncle. He is a smoker and really gets fired up on this topic. He is convinced that this is more a freedom issue than it is a health issue. According to an article in USA Today there are now around 1,100 cities and counties that have banned smoking in outdoor areas. Some places where these smoking bans are in affect are parks, cafes, and stadiums. Is this a health concern or is it more a ban on freedoms in the United States? Fire safety was mentioned as one reasons for the smoking ban. I think this is a great reason for the ban. What better reason (other than health) do you need? Some beaches have banned smoking due to litter. The article said that cigarettes were the number one source of debris in global beach cleanups. Both of these reasons, fire safety and litter, were two reasons I had not even considered. I know, some of you smokers are saying that if we ban smoking due to litter then what's next, soda and juice cans? Well, the key to me is that evidentially these are not the number one source of debris. Stanford researchers also published some interesting findings in May concerning secondhand smoke outside. I do think that Big Brother is getting closer? If this spreads across the country, what is next?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Order of the Phoenix

I am a big Harry Potter fan and can't wait to see the new movie"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix". I have loved every one of the movies and have them all in my collection. I think there is something about these movies that takes you back to when you were a kid and didn't know (or at least you weren't sure) that wizards and witches did not exist in this capacity. I think the casting in these movies was right on! It is kind of a shame to see these kids grow up. It will also be sad to see the series end.

How popular is Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe)? He is going to be on Larry King Live tonight at 8 p.m. central! JK Rowling (author of Harry Potter Series) is also estimated to be worth $1 billion dollars!

Who knows maybe she will come up with another unforgettable story!

Monday, July 2, 2007

The American Holiday

Well, it is that time again. It is roughly halfway through summer vacation! Unbelievable! It goes faster every year. It's time to watch the fireworks, eat hot dogs and apple pie, and enjoy a tall glass of lemonade. My family and I were lucky enough to get to watch some good fireworks over the weekend in my wife's hometown. We got pretty close and had a good view. I tried for the first time to take pictures of fireworks and they came out pretty good. The picture above was of the finale. The show was short but there were no delays in between. It also sounds like these spring temperatures are about to give way to more summer like temps. Hey, what do you expect? It is July! Enjoy the rest of summer. Catch fireflies, eat some ice cold watermelon, run through the sprinkler, go swimming, go on a picnic, go to the park, go for a long walk, sit on the porch and enjoy the summer sounds. Why do all these things? You should do them now because before you know it it will be snowing and unbearably cold! Time flies and I think many of us forget how short life is.