Friday, July 03, 2020

Friday Video: Happy Independence Day

In June of 2019, DJ Bonics became possibly the first DJ to perform the national anthem. The former Pittsburgher and Wiz Khalifa DJ (and University of Pittsburgh graduate) lives in Minneapolis now and performed this at a Minnesota Twins game. In honor of July 4th, enjoy this really unique and cool version of the national anthem.

And here are the behind the scenes of his performance.

Have a safe July 4th weekend!

h/t to the Ya Jagoff! podcast who recently had DJ Bonics on as a guest.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

It's All a Conspiracy

I'm friends with someone on Facebook who posted this:

The birthday cake background is a nice touch! I'm not going to attack or defend Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (or author Tom Wolfe) here. In my opinion, some people must have contracted COVID-19 based on their proximity to others during the protests. I also think it's likely that more people contracted COVID-19 from being in confined spaces with no social distancing in bars. It can be both. 

Back to the Facebook post, someone (we'll call him Danny) posted this comment:

Danny: just a ploy to continue to destroy our economy and hurt Trump.

In theory, I know that there are people out there who believe this. That's part of the "It's my constitutional right not to wear a mask" argument. Still, I hadn't seen this in real life by someone I'm tangentially connected to before. Against my better judgement, I decided to reply.

Me: Wait, so the entire COVID-19 with 123,000+ deaths and millions unemployed is a ploy to hurt Trump?  

Danny: the numbers are padded with the extra diagnosis of "covid-related" whatever that is and also the CDC quit counting regular flu deaths in April so those have been added in also.... and the average person that dies of covid has 3 pre-existing conditions and could have died of any of those but they call it covid because there is the financial incentive to medicare getting 13,000 dollars for each death they call covid…. surprised I had to explain all that to you 

Me:I guess that you need to explain more to me. So the thousands of deaths in May and June should be flu deaths? I didn't realize the US had so many flu deaths in those months.

And going back to the ploy to hurt Trump comment. Based on the significant increase of the number of COVID cases and deaths in Florida, Texas, and Arizona, the governors of these states, who I always thought were on Trump's side, are actually also involved in this plot to hurt him?

Who exactly is getting $13,000 for each COVID death and where is it coming from? Thanks in advance for the explanations.  

I should also add, why is the executive office trying to take away health insurance right now when more people than ever need it? Is that to help make sure that someone doesn't get $13000?

Danny: good question Sean I don't know about the insurance.... I know under Obamacare that the insurance that was known as catastrophic before became the normal insurance with high copays and high deductible.... thx for hearing my thoughts and have a great night brother 

I'm glad that it didn't get any further. I didn't really want to shift to a discussion about health insurance. Still, who is this big conspiracy that is sacrificing thousands of Americans just to hurt Trump? I mean is Trump really going to get hurt by all this? Worse case scenario for him is that he loses the election, but he still has plenty of money and will be able to live just fine as a former President. (Well assuming that he doesn't get charged and convicted on various sexual assault allegations and lawsuits related to financial and tax dealings and then doesn't get pardoned by Biden.) I don't understand how someone can say that there aren't any attempts at voter suppression (Hello Georgia and Wisconsin!), yet there's a massive conspiracy to unleash the worst virus in our lifetimes just to hurt Trump.

I'll end with this picture of the Dippy, the diplodocus outside the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh.

This is ridiculous. This diplodocus died so that we would have the freedom to not wear masks (even though it's in the best interest and the heath and safety of everyone to wear masks).

Photo by The Notorious C.H.U.C.K.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Friday Video: Sir Mix-a-Lot & The Seattle Symphony

I love when symphony orchestras do things that you don't expect. I mean sure they can play Beethoven or Mozart, but I find it cool when they play along to live showings of movies or Looney Tunes or even Baby Shark. So when I recently learned about this video of Sir Mix-a-Lot with the Seattle symphony orchestra, well, mind blown. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Jewish Baseball Draft

I'm going to represent all Jews today and share that we support Jewish athletes and want them to succeed. You know Adam Sandler's Hanukkah Song where he goes through famous Jews, primarily those in entertainment? Well, the same applies to athletes as Jewish sports fans tend to know Jewish athletes since there aren't very many of them. Even though Sandy Koufax retired from the Los Angeles Dodgers nearly a decade before I was born, he's still a legend, not only because he had one of the greatest stretches as a pitcher in baseball history, but also since he didn't pitch game one of the 1965 World Series since it coincided with Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year. There's a sense of pride in Jewish athletes doing well from Shawn Green to Mathieu Schneider to Mark Spitz and even to journeymen quarterbacks Jay Fiedler and Sage Rosenfels. (Ryan Braun is a bit more complicated since he destroyed the Pirates as a member of the Brewers over the years, and he got away with using steroids. But I digress.)

Why am I mentioning this? It's a fun discussion to try to come up with the best all-Jewish baseball line-up. And just recently, a pretty neat group including former MLB players Ian Kinsler, Danny Valencia, Ty Kelly and current Miami Marlin (and former Pittsburgh Pirate) Ryan Lavarnway, held a Jewish Baseball Fantasy Draft. Fantasy sports and Jews? This is basically my dream! All of this was a fundraiser for the Israeli Baseball Olympic team. The full draft is available here or via this video:

I'll admit that I didn't watch the entire draft (yet) since it's 2 hours long. Still, it's cool that Shawn Green shows up around the 44-minute mark, and Danny Valencia's hair is outstanding. Plus, through this draft, I learned about The Great Rabbino website, which I should have known about years ago.

Now we just need some analysis on who won the draft and which team would win in a seven-game series!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The Road To Freedom

Over the last few weeks, I've discovered some very cool online events and videos. I considered putting them all together in one post, but they really don't fit together. Last Friday, my friend Jason performed in "THE ROAD TO FREEDOM: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR & THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT." Here's a description of the show:

Join us for THE ROAD TO FREEDOM – From his first encounter with racism to his immortal speech delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. leads you through the experience of the Civil Rights Movement.

Apparently, this play was performed for several years at New York-area schools, so while this is geared more for kids, it is definitely appropriate and for adults. Except for his role in "Michael Clayton," I don't think I had seen Jason in a show, so I was excited for that aspect of the performance.

Both my soon-to-be fourth grader Pedro Tulo and I enjoyed the show. The hour-long event is available here on Facebook. It starts right around the 4:00-minute mark, so don't get freaked out if you press play and nothing happens for a few minutes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Songs Of 2000

I spent the summer of 2000 studying abroad at Lancaster University in Lancaster, England as part of my graduate school program in higher education and student affairs. I wrote some about my European trip in several Summer of Sean posts. Anyway, while many of my classmates had challenging assignments, my task was to help Lancaster University's Management School determine how international students discovered the school through internet searches. I also compared the school's website to other business schools in the UK. With the exception of interviewing a few international graduate students about how they learned about Lancaster University, I really spent most of my time unsupervised doing web searches at the campus computer lab. (This is 2000, so no one I knew had laptops. I didn't even have a cell phone until late 2001 or 2002.) This may sound a little inappropriate, but I think that university miscounted the number of internship spots and just threw me someplace at the last minute.

With my friends busy at actual offices, I often slept in and listened to the radio while getting ready to start the day. I also discovered Top of the Pops, a weekly music television countdown show. (Looking back, I'm not sure how I discovered this. I don't think I had a TV in my room. Maybe the deserted residence hall had a lounge where I watched TV?) I discovered rather quickly that I really enjoyed the pop music scene in England. You got all of the British hits along with the top songs from America and elsewhere. Plus, I thought I was so cool when I heard songs debut in the US months after listening to them in England.

So today, I'm excited to share some of my favorite songs from my time in England 20 years ago. Some of these might be well known to many of you. This may be the first time some of you have heard others. Enjoy!

Destiny's Child - Jumpin', Jumpin'

Before I left Columbus for the summer, I won a contest where I could select tickets to one of about 15 concerts. Most of the concerts occurred when I was away, so I chose Christina Aguilera's concert at the Ohio State Fair. The opening act for this concert was supposed to be Destiny's Child. As soon as I heard Jumpin' Jumpin' played in England, I knew that they weren't going to be an opening act much longer, and sure enough, they were off the tour by the time I saw Christina in August 2000.

Darude - Sandstorm

Of all the songs in this blog post, I didn't expect this song to be the one still played the most. "Sandstorm" remains in rotation at many live sporting events.

Eminem - Stan


I swear that I first heard this song in England, but according to Wikipedia, this wasn't released until November 2000. Maybe some BBC station played it months before the actual single release?

Craig David - 7 Days 

I really thought Craig David was going to be an international superstar. Didn't quite happen at least in the US. 

Coldplay - Yellow

I wonder what ever happened to this group.

Kylie Minouge - Spinning Around

I remember seeing an interview with Kylie Minouge where she was asked about her backside getting filmed in the video. Her response was something of amazement and that she didn't realize that the director had that shot. Although Kylie never made it huge in the US, she was as big as Madonna in many parts of the world. She knew her behind would be featured in the video.

Madison Avenue - Don't Call Me Baby

Sonique - It Feels So Good

David Grey - Babylon

Love this song!

Five + Queen - We Will Rock You

Yes this song really happened. By the way, who knew that nearly 20 years later, there would be a movie about Five that won four Oscars?

Mary Mary - Shackles (Praise You)

I only learned that Mary Mary was a gospel group years later.

Samantha Mumba - Gotta Tell You

I have a confession to make. I love belting out the chorus and especially the bridge of this song even though I get nowhere close to hitting the notes! 

Billie Piper - Day and Night

Several years after this song, Billie Piper starred in some Cinemax or Showtime show, and I remember thinking, hey, she's a singer!

Louise - 2 Faced

York - On The Beach

Bomfunk MC's - Freestyler

I'm ending with this song since I don't think I ever heard this song or of Bomfunk MC's since I returned to the US. However, this video has almost 197 million views, so lots of people know it.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Right Now

I've been fairly quiet on the blog recently. While I published a couple of posts about the coronavirus, it's been two weeks since I wrote about the death of George Floyd and the subsequent protests. A lot has happened in the country since that post. On the afternoon of that June 1st blog post, police cleared peaceful protesters near Lafayette Square in DC, so that President Trump could take pictures outside St. John's Episcopal Church holding a bible. (I'm using police in general since it seems like it was some combination of the US Park Police, US Secret Service, Washington DC police, Arlington police, National Guard, Bureau of Prisons Special Operations Response Team, and members of the US military.) This Washington Post video details all of this brilliantly. (I also recommend reading this Washington Post article about the early legacy of these events including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley, apologizing for going with Trump on his field trip.)

Mostly peaceful protests continue throughout the country. Statues of confederate leaders have come down. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder (he was originally charged with something less) while the other officers present for the killing of George Floyd were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. A 75 year-old man was pushed down by Buffalo police resulting in brain injuries and Trump blamed the guy for falling. The Louisville officers responsible for Breonna Taylor's death still haven't been charged. Rayshard Brooks was killed by a Atlanta police officer with the Atlanta police chief subsequently resigning.

There seems to be some real discussions about race in America and police reform including legislative actions or at least proposals. The big question is whether real, long-term change can and will happen. You see peaceful protests with people from all different ages and ethnicities, so I'm hopeful.

Since this is my blog, I'm naturally going to share where I'm at right now and how I can help. I want to attend a protest here in DC, but as I mentioned last week, I'm not going anywhere right now especially during the last few weeks with school still in session. I feel like I'm going to regret not being part of these protests in the future. The big thing I'm trying to figure out is how to teach my kids about what's happening. They don't know anything about white privilege or the history of police brutality. They're only 9, 6, and 2, but the 9 year old is old enough to understand some things. We showed them the CNN/Sesame Street town hall, and I thought certain parts were really well done. 

(On a completely different subject, I started thinking about what a Fox News/Sesame Street town hall would look like. It would be much, much, much, much different.) 

If you have any suggestions about books or shows or movies that are age-appropriate, please leave a comment or contact me directly. Now that school is over, we have a lot more time.  Otherwise, I continue to follow the news and read stories shared by others about their own experiences with police or prejudice. 

Again, I'm hopeful that real dialogue continues and change happens. A good start regarding police reform would be if politicians and community leaders read this article by J.J. Hensley, a former police officer and Special Agent with the Secret Service and someone I'm friendly with online.

So that's where I am right now. Still trying to figure out how to balance life and work and being with the kids nearly 24/7 and trying to do the best I can. I can do better.

Photo by Jose Luis Magana/AFP/Getty Images

Monday, June 08, 2020

Why I Stay Home During The Coronavirus

Despite the fact that as of June 8th, we're right around 109,000 deaths and nearly 2 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States, many parts of the country are reopening and seemingly close to returning to normal. This post isn't to say whether this is right or wrong. This post is just about me and what I'm doing.

I live in Fairfax County, Virginia not far from Washington DC. The greater Washington area has been one of the harder hit areas in the country (though nowhere near New York City and New Jersey) and was even labelled as a COVID-19 hotspot last month. Virginia was one of the first places in the country to close schools for the academic year, and the stay-at-home order for Northern Virginia was only lifted on May 29th. As I'm typing this, much of Virginia is now in "Phase 2" while we're in "Phase 1." Basically, there are still too many new cases each day to move us to Phase 2. Fairfax County publishes the number of new cases daily with additional data on cases by age, race, and zip code. I started tracking the specific number of cases in my zip code on May 25th. In the two weeks since then, we're up 51 cases. In case you're wondering, that's 605 cases per 100,000 people. Again, while other parts of the country may have no new cases, that's not the situation here.  

I am fortunate that I have a job and am able to work from home. I know that there are millions of other people throughout the country who aren't in this position. The work at home part is important because of my commute. In normal times, I take the bus to the Metro to get to work, and then the Metro to the bus to get home. My bus route hasn't operated in two months and Metro has significantly reduced service (and now my station is closed for the summer for construction). 

Now the big factor. My kids. Six year old Pedro Tulo had several "dizzy spells" a few years ago. He was too young at the time to really couldn't explain what was happening. I personally never saw him have these episodes, but there seemed to be no rhyme or reason as to why or when they occurred. After going to several different doctors, it turned out that these dizzy spells were actually seizures. That's a scary diagnosis for a parent! He's taken anti-seizure medicine for the last year and a half, and fortunately, he's been seizure free since then. 

The few things I read online seem to show that seizures do not make someone immunocompromised. In addition, according to the Epilepsy Foundation, "the early information from countries where outbreaks have occurred suggests that the risk of worsening seizures with COVID-19 seems low for more people with epilepsy." Still, it doesn't seem like there have been comprehensive studies on this. I should probably mention that Pedro Tulo touches everything and regularly puts his fingers in his mouth. He's the last person I want to take to a highway rest stop, a sit-in restaurant, or anywhere with crowds.

Which brings me to travel and the summer in general. The kids' camps are closed and who knows what will happen with schools this fall. Daycare for two year old Luigi is a question mark too this fall. If his school opens, I assume Luigi will go back. Still, there's no way that the kids can be socially distant from each other. I can't imagine that the kids will keep masks on.  And if one kid in a class gets sick, there's a good chance others will get sick too. In January or February, Luigi stayed home for a week because of RSV (a common respiratory virus for kids) which resulted in a fever that he couldn't shake. Most of the class got RSV. But school and daycare are more than two months away. I'll worry about that then.

For now, I know that my family has been good at keeping socially distant, but my worry is about going outside our bubble. Others aren't being as vigilant. I've seen videos from beaches in Texas, the Ozarks in Missouri and during some of the protests and talked with a friend in beach-town in Florida where you would never know that there was a pandemic going on. This worries me about traveling anywhere. This article from The Washington Post didn't make me feel better:

But a briefing document prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and distributed Thursday to senior federal officials captured the scale of the challenges remaining. FEMA tracks how many days in a row a state records a decline in new daily coronavirus cases. Thirteen states — Arizona, California, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin — had not shown a sustained daily decrease as of Tuesday, according to the document, a copy of which was obtained by The Post.

Here's the bottom line. Until my office reopens, the bus route returns, and there are no new cases in my zip code, why would I feel comfortable resuming life as normal? (And I'm counting wearing a mask as normal.)  And when I see videos of people not being socially distant, why would I want to go anywhere or be near crowds with people who still think this is a hoax? Look, I'm not a fearful person even though it certainly sounds like it after reading this post. I'm just taking the summer off. I'm going to spend more time with my kids than I would normally, and we'll do that from home getting plenty of time outside. I know that we miss seeing family and friends in person, but maybe because of their ages, the kids seem happy which is the most important thing.

Feel free to disagree and do your own thing. This is just what I'm doing.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Mourning During COVID-19: June Update

Let me preface this by stating that this is a bit of an unusual post for me. I get into religion and prayer, but it ends with me trying to be funny. Actually, most of my posts are me trying to be funny, though I'm not sure how often I succeed. 

In tradition Judaism, there is a seven-day period of mourning following the burial called shiva. There is also a 30-day period after the burial, including the seven days of shiva, called Sheloshim, which is observed by immediate family members. You don't work during the shiva period, but you can work during Sheloshim though there are still some restrictions. The restrictions are refraining from attending joyous celebrations like weddings, dances, or parties. Basically, anything with music. If the deceased is a parent, there is a full year of mourning (actually 11 months) where the restrictions still apply. Apparently, there is a loophole here. Let's say that you're a musician who earns a living by playing at weddings. In this case, you can still do your job. The same would apply if you help out at a joyous occasion. Like help clear some dishes or set the table. Anyway, through all of this, you're also supposed to attend services daily to say the Mourner's Kaddish prayer.

Still with me? Thanks!

I wrote a post back in March about mourning the loss of my dad at the beginning of the COVID-19 stay at home period. Over two months later, and just a few days after we started "Phase 1" in Northern Virginia, a lot of things haven't changed. Thanks to Zoom, I've participated in some type of prayer service every day since my dad's funeral with the exception of the first night of Passover since we were doing a Seder. Why is this night different than all other nights indeed! In normal times, I wouldn't attend services daily. I probably would have during the Sheloshim period, but it just wouldn't have been realistic to do this every day for a full year. To be a parent to three kids while commuting about two hours to and from work each day and then driving to a synagogue (or synagogues since mine doesn't have daily services) for a service and then back home? There's no way. Being at home, however, all I have to go to a different room for 30-45 minutes (or more on Saturdays). It's become a constant for me. Some sense of normalcy in these otherwise very abnormal times. I mentioned some of what I just wrote in that March post.

And now to a dramatic shift in this post. 

The Torah portion a few weeks ago was Parashat Bamidbar. Yes, I just included a word with "shat" in it in a blog post! At this point, the ten plagues already happened and the Jews were freed from slavery in Egypt thanks in part to the leadership of Charlton Heston.

We join this story already in progress where a census is taken of the Israelite community. What's interesting is that the census only counted men who were 20 or older. It seems totally unfair that some Israelites were old enough to buy lottery tickets, but couldn't get counted in the census. Oh yeah, they didn't count women either. You can probably predict that every rabbi in America made sure to include the importance of the 2020 census in their sermon. 

A significant part of the portion is then spent naming all of the men responsible for conducting the census. There are a lot of biblical names that are still common today. Jacob, Rebecca, and Sara are at the top of the list. This Torah portion listed some names that I think are due for a comeback. So if you are expecting a boy or have a new pet, I hope that you consider these names: Zurishaddai, Zuar, Eliab, Ochran, Deuel, and Pagiel.

The world would be a better place with more Zuars. Zuar good, Zuul bad!

Monday, June 01, 2020

George Floyd, Mike Pence, and The State of The Country

On Saturday night, I turned on the TV expecting to watch a movie or show. Instead, I watched coverage of protests occurring throughout the country. A few minutes later, 9 year old The Moose, who I thought was asleep, came downstairs and wanted to see what I was watching. His immediate response to what was on the screen was questioning why people weren’t social distancing or wearing masks. I tried to explain the death of George Floyd and the reason behind the protests, but he really didn’t fully grasp what was happening. While it’s good that he understands the seriousness of the coronavirus, he’s still a fairly sheltered white kid living in the suburbs.

On Sunday morning, The Moose in turn tried to explain the protests to 6 year old Pedro Tulo, who was much more interested in breakfast and didn’t listen to his brother. That was probably for the best since I know that Pedro Tulo wouldn't understand anything.

I don’t have much to add to what’s happening across the country. The protests are happening for the right reason to fight injustice. Meanwhile, the looting and destruction appear to be done by people just to create chaos and harm. It seems to have little or nothing to do with the reasons behind the protests.

I’m going on a brief tangent here, and I know that I’m not the first person to mention this. On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence posted this tweet.

I think the vast majority of people are for peaceful protests. This would include the VP, right?

So much has happened in the last few years that it’s really easy to forget this. Mike Pence travelled to Indianapolis to participate in a jersey retirement ceremony for Peyton Manning and to make a scene at a Colts-49ers football game. Everyone knew that players on the 49ers would take a knee during the national anthem. Pence and President Trump came up with a plan that if any player kneeled during the anthem, Pence would leave. How much money did it cost or security was needed for Pence to pull off this stunt? Anyway, he clearly didn't like a peaceful protest then and essentially took the ball and went home.

Anyway, I'm just frustrated with the direction of this country right now. There is no leadership or empathy in the executive office. We're at over 100,000 COV-19 deaths right now and sky-high unemployment rates. To The Moose's point at the beginning of this post, there definitely hasn't been social distancing during these protests. There have also been plenty of pictures and videos in places like the Ozarks and Florida and Texas beaches where people are crowded together like nothing was out of the ordinary. Is there any reason to believe that we won't be at 150,000-200,000 deaths by the November election or that the economy will dramatically improve? So if we didn't make America great again over the last 3.5 years, how are we now supposed to re-elect the current leader and believe that we're going to "Transition to Greatness" after November?

While Joe Biden is not my first (or second or third) choice to be President, my hope is that this country will elect him, so that we can have a grown-up in charge. Someone with empathy. Not someone who urges governors to use force against unruly protesters. We don't need a Tiananmen Square in America! Not someone who will pick fights with anyone who disagrees with him or yell LAW & ORDER or CHINA on Twitter. The only time where it's appropriate to use phrases like this on Twitter is while watching a sporting event and tweeting GOAL or TOUCHDOWN STEELERS! Seriously, if one of your friends or parents did this, you would think they were crazy and probably unfollow them.

I have no grand conclusion here. Our country needs to be better. To care more for each other and to demand justice when needed and necessary.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Friday Video: Shake Break

My kids have been learning online for the last few months. For my kindergartener, Pedro Tulo, this means an hour with his teachers and class Monday through Thursday with separate assignments sent by the teachers online as well as packets mailed by the school district. After a bumpy (at best) start, it's actually gone pretty well. Kids are probably much better at adapting to changes like this than their parents!

Still, sitting for an hour in front of a screen can be difficult, particularly for Pedro Tulo who can struggle staying focused. Fortunately, the teacher knows this is true for most, if not all, kindergarten students, so she mixes things up. One of my personal favorites, or I mean, Pedro Tulo's favorites (fine it's my favorite) is the 1-minute shake break video she often plays when she knows that the kids need a change of pace.

I really need to do this play this video and jump and shake a few times a day myself. It's probably way more productive than checking out Twitter or Facebook!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

A League of Their Own's Terrible Managing

During some free preview recently, I recorded the 1992 film "A League of Their Own" starring Geena Davis and Tom Hanks. I've seen this movie about Davis' Dottie Hinson, her sister Kit (Lori Petty), the Rockford Peaches, and the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League countless times, but I thought my kids might enjoy it. So on Sunday night, we watched it as a family. And by watch it as a family, I mean that I watched the film while my kids paid partial attention to the television while also playing on their tablets or with some other toys or games.

I can't believe that I'm writing this, but there are a lot of spoilers in this post. I mean, this movie is 28 years old and was selected in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry in 2012, so if you haven't seen it, go see it.

During this viewing, I paid a little closer attention to the in-game decisions by Rockford Peaches manager Jimmy Dugan (Hanks) and the Racine Belles manager Charlie Collins (Don S. Davis) in game 7 of the league's championship series. And yes, I had to look up both the name of the Racine manager and the actor who played him. They both made some shockingly poor decisions that deserve criticism.

For a little background, Kit and Dottie were teammates on Rockford, but Kit was traded to Racine near the end of the season. (Feel free to read this Bustle article about why Kit was the worst.) The two teams meet in the championship series, and it goes to a game seven despite or maybe because Dottie misses the first six games of the series to go back home with her just returned home from World War Two husband played by Bill Pullman.

Anyway, in game 7, Kit seemingly pitches an amazing game for Racine giving up no runs and only 3 hits through 8 innings. I mean this is incredible pitcher's duel as Ellen Sue Gotlander only gave up one unearned run (on a terrible, terrible, terrible throw by right fielder Evelyn Gardner in the bottom of the 8th) and three hits herself. The only game 7 performance I can think of that even comes close to this pitching mastery is the 1991 World Series where the score was 0-0 entering the 10th inning. Maybe the screenwriters were inspired by Jack Morris and John Smoltz?

In the top of the 9th, "All the Way" Mae Mordabito (Madonna in her best acting performance) leads off with a routine ground ball to short. Madonna, who turns out to be as fast as Vince Coleman, Billy Hamilton, or Florence Griffith Joyner, beats the throw by several steps. I don't understand the lack of urgency by the Racine shortstop here. It's a 4-team league, so you'd think that the shortstop and the manager would know that you have to hurry to throw out All the Way Mae Usain Bolt here. Have the shortstop play in a few steps. Doris Murphy (Rosie O'Donnell) then follows with a single giving Rockford runners on first and second with no outs. Does the Racine manager come out to talk to Kit? No. Does he have another pitcher warming up? Again no. This is game 7! Racine already seemed to qualify for the playoffs before acquiring Kit, so they must have had at least one other strong pitcher. You're telling me that Racine was going to ride or die with Kit?

Now it's time to criticize Tom Hanks. With All the Way Mae Carl Lewis in scoring position at second and the go-ahead runner at first, Hanks has Evelyn Gardner sacrifice completely wasting an out, but allowing Madonna and O'Donnell to move to third and second respectively. Kit then gets Helen Haley to ground out to first. Despite having All the Way Mae Marion Jones on third, Hanks doesn't have her run on contact.

So now it's runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs and Dottie Hinson coming to the plate. Dottie is clearly the league MVP. She's Mike Trout or Willie Mays, but she also plays catcher. She's Josh Gibson! Why not intentionally walk her in this situation with first base open? Look how focused she is as she stares down Kit walking toward the plate.

Plus, she knows how to beat Kit better than anyone after being her catcher for years. Dottie is clearly in Kit's head. You see that picture of Kit above? That's immediately before she throws a pitch to Dottie. YOU MUST WALK DOTTIE IN THIS SITUATION!!!

Oh, Tom Hanks isn't getting off the hook here. Assuming that Madonna is the lead off hitter, why is Dottie batting 5th? The only plausible explanation is that he worried that she would be rusty after missing 6 games when she left the team. Even then, she's Dottie Hinson! You don't bat her 5th!

Naturally, Dottie hits a 2-run single to give Rockford a 2-1 lead. Kit gets the final out but is a complete mess in the dugout. So much so that she's crying and doesn't even go into the on-deck circle when she is the next batter up. Why doesn't the Racine manager pinch hit for her? The Racine manager was Matt Williams before Matt Williams not knowing what was happening in his own dugout with a fight between Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon!

Look, I understand that there were only 16-woman rosters, so both managers had limited bench options. I mean, Rockford already lost Marla Hooch when she got married, it's unclear who they got back in the Kit trade, and Dottie missed the first 6 games of the series. (She should have never started driving back to Oregon with Lone Star right before the series!)

I'm not going to get Kit's at-bat at the bottom of the 9th and whether Dottie intentionally dropped the ball. (Anne T. Donahue says no in a terrific Cosmopolitan article.) I'll just wrap this up by stating that the managerial decisions made in such a crucial game are maddening and absurd. I can't imagine what sports radio in both Rockford and Racine are saying after this game.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Swastikas In Reston

It's a tough time right now. Over 90,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and millions of people have lost their jobs. Even with much of the country starting to open up, many people continue to stay at home and limit their time going out. I tend to try to keep things light here on Sean's Ramblings and have tried to share stories or observations to make people smile. (I think getting an LOL might be a little much.)

Today's post is a little more on the serious side. On Wednesday morning, spray-painted swastikas were found at the North Point Shopping Center in Reston.

Here's the story from Patch.

Vandals spray-painted swastikas and profanity on the sidewalks and walls of businesses in North Point Shopping Center early Wednesday morning.

Fairfax County Police responded at 6:05 a.m., for the report of a graffiti in the 1400 block of North Point Village Center, according to the daily crime report. Officers found swastikas had been spray-painted on the sidewalk and nearby areas of the North Point Shopping Center. The case remains under investigation.

This really hits close to home since I used to live walking distance from this shopping center, and have been there hundreds of times. We actually drove through the shopping center just last weekend so that the kids could see something other than our street. Of course, the shootings at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue hit close to home since that's the synagogue I attended growing up, and I know people who lost loved ones. And the vandalism that occurred at the Northern Virginia Jewish Community Center in 2017 and 2018 hit close to home since I live in Northern Virginia. And the shooting at a Poway synagogue last year hit close to home since I used to live in San Diego and know someone who knows the rabbi who was injured.

Seeing a trend here? According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), there were more anti-Semitic incidents in the United States in 2019 in at least 40 years. Let's hear from Homer Simpson.

These incidents aren't the fault of one specific individual in the executive office, but blaming people on both sides after the neo-nazi rally in Charlottesville and mentioning Henry Ford's blood lines during a tour of a Ford plant in Michigan on Thursday doesn't help. At a minimum it empowers racists and anti-Semites and gives them the feeling that they have a friend or at least someone who supports their views in the White House.

You know, maybe I'm reading too much into this. Maybe I'm just worried about what's happening in the world right now and am thinking about bigger picture stuff a little more. I'm just tired of seeing stuff like this happen. And this doesn't even include the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and the fact that armed protesters can enter and occupy Michigan's capital building with no repercussions whatsoever.

I'm going to end this on a positive. Maybe the spray-paintings in Reston was just a way to promote the show "Lucifer" which is now on Netflix after several seasons on Fox. Yes, let's go with this. Just a harmless prank to promote a TV show. Now I feel much better!

Photos by Harriet Dunlap and Seth Herald/Reuters.

Update: I want to give credit to Reston Now for continuing to follow this story. There's a bit of a happy ending in Reston thanks to some fantastic work by Chalk Hooligans.

Monday, May 18, 2020

45 Years Old: 45 Questions Answered (Part II)

In honor of my 45th birthday, I created blog posts where I answer 45 questions asked by friends. The first part is available here, and this is part two. Will there be a part three? We'll see.

11. Who is your all time favorite non-Pittsburgh athlete?

Even my all-time favorite non-Pittsburgh athletes who you wouldn’t associate with Pittsburgh have Pittsburgh ties. The two that stand out for me are Jason Taylor and Larry Fitzgerald. Taylor is from Pittsburgh and played football and basketball for my high school, but most people associate him with the Miami Dolphins. Fitzgerald is Mr. Arizona as a member of the Cardinals, but he attended the University of Pittsburgh and is one of the greatest wide receivers in college history. So that rules them out.

Therefore, my favorite non-Pittsburgh athlete who doesn’t have any association with Pittsburgh is Tony Gwynn. What a player and what a person. I wrote a blog post about Gwynn (of course I did), but I’m happy to write about him again. As a kid, I always knew of Gwynn as a great hitter as he regularly appeared at the top of the batting average standings when I looked through the Sunday newspaper. However, I rarely saw him play since it’s not like the Padres were on TV much and their games started after 10:00 PM. When I moved to San Diego in 1997 near the end of his career, I saw how revered he was out there, and how much he was respected by everyone in baseball. During the 1999 All-Star game, baseball and the Boston Red Sox honored Ted Williams only one of the greatest baseball players of all time. What’s amazing about the video below is how all of the players gather around Williams, and how happy Williams was to see Tony Gwynn (around the 3:50 mark). Williams lived in San Diego and he and Gwynn got together and talked about hitting (and presumably other stuff). How cool would it have been to listen to those conversations?

Gwynn also did so much in the community and received the 1999 Roberto Clemente Man of the Year award. After his playing career ended, he went back to become the head baseball coach at San Diego State, his alma mater. How many Hall of Famers to that?

The two biggest travesties of the 1994 baseball strike was that it cost the Montreal Expos a legitimate chance to win the World Series (which presumably would have kept the team in Montreal) and Gwynn was hitting .394 and had a chance to hit .400.

Gwynn died way too young at the age of 54 in 2014.

12. What do you love about living in Northern Virginia?

Opportunities for fun, free events and diversity. There are so many free concerts and events, particularly for kids and especially during the summer. Plus, we’re right next to DC, so we can visit any of Smithsonian museums for free or attend free events for kids at places like The Kennedy Center and The National Theatre. We don’t take advantage of this stuff nearly as much as we should, but I know people in other parts of the country and world don’t have these opportunities. Still, we attend at least one free show or concert a week each summer. We’re also in a very diverse area with people from so many different countries and cultures. My kids’ elementary school had a family heritage night last fall with student and family-led displays, performances, food tastings, and more. It was such a cool event with so many different nations and nationalities represented.

13. What do you hate about living in Northern Virginia?

Traffic and the cost of living. What should be a 20-minute drive can easily take 45 minutes (or more during rush hour). Even when you think there wouldn’t be traffic like on a random Wednesday morning at 11:00, there could be due to an accident or construction. The cost of living is also frustrating. A friend in the Nashville area recently posted on Facebook a real estate listing for the house next door to her. It’s amazing! So much space with 5 bedrooms and a big yard. The cost is around the same as the value of my home, but we definitely don’t have 5 bedrooms and a yard. We have also spent SO MUCH MONEY on daycare, preschool, and before and after-school care for the kids. It’s a good thing there are free community concerts and museums nearby!

14. What is your favorite place on the Ithaca College campus?

What’s funny is my favorite spot on campus is a place where I spent very little time. The Dillingham Fountains. If you’re at the right place on campus, you can see the fountains and Cayuga Lake. The problem is that the fountains were turned off for most of the school year to make sure that the pipes wouldn’t freeze. In Ithaca, New York, that could be October through April or nearly the entire school year. There were also cool lights to go along with the fountains, but I feel like those only came out during special occasions.

15. For your 45 questions: 1975's top three films were: Jaws; The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. Which one would you pick to define 2020?

I really hope that I’m wrong, but I think the answer is going to be "Jaws." In Jaws, the Amity Island mayor decided to keep the beaches open even though there was already a shark attack and seemingly no action taken to ensure that there wouldn’t be future attacks. The beach needed to be open for July 4th! And what happened? More people got attached by sharks. The White House and the Centers for Disease Control created Guidelines for Opening Up America Again. One of these guidelines is that “states should have a “downward trajectory” of cases over a 14-day period before reopening.” What happened? Most, if not all of the states, failed this test before reopening. I also worry that officials will stop counting or under-report COVID-19 cases or deaths in order to make it seem like things are better in their area that it is. This already happened in Nebraska. Or you get Georgia who made it look like cases were going down by putting dates out of order. For example, May 5th was followed by April 25th.

Again, I hope that I’m wrong, but I think there are going to be a lot more shark attacks in 2020.

16. If you could go back in time, would you change anything in your life?

This is a variation of the “what is your greatest regret” question from part one of 45 questions. The only thing I can really think of is that I would have bought stock in Apple, Amazon, or Google or some other company or made big and correct wagers on sporting events. I don’t think I’d be comfortable having Bill Gates or Warren Buffet money, but it would be nice to have been successful in these endeavors so that we’d be comfortable financially. Like really, really comfortable financially. And yes, this answer is basically plot points from the movies Frequency and Back to the Future 2.

17. & 18. If you could time travel, would you go back or forward and what would you be most interested in seeing?

I’m counting this as two questions. It would be cool to go back to game 7 of the 1960 World Series to see Bill Mazeroski of the Pirates hit a 9th inning series winning home run against the Yankees.

Traveling forward, I don’t know if I’d want to go to January 2021 to know the result of the November 2020 election. I mean, if Donald Trump loses, do we think he’s going to handle it well? Will there be a peaceful transition of power? I guess it would be nice to know when there will be a successful COVID-19 vaccine and to see when everything is going to be back to normal.

19. What is your favorite memory of being 23?

In December 1998, I helped organize and create a Kosher Pickle Taste Test at San Diego State University. It was a lot of fun and a huge success and also inadvertently started the tradition of having pickles at Hanukkah. I’m still waiting for this to catch on across the country and the world, and I think this is the year it’s going to happen.

20. What’s the thing you are looking forward to most about being 45?

Since I think I’m going to spend much of being 45 at home, the answer is spending a lot of time with my kids. (This might also be on the list of what I’m not looking forward to being 45.) It will be interesting to see how they grow. I dread doing potty training with Luigi, but it will be so nice not to change diapers anymore. I expect that Pedro Tulo will be reading much more. Maybe The Moose will learn to ride his bike? They’re all going to grow and learn, which should be fun to see.

21. In honor of Michael Jordan and the last dance would you rather be 23 or 45?

I liked being 23. I lived in San Diego, and while I didn’t have much money, I didn’t have many expenses or worries. In normal times, though, I’d still probably go with 45. While my kids can definitely be frustrating and I worry about them, it’s really cool being a dad. However, seeing that I’m probably not going to travel anywhere, eat out at restaurants, or even go the grocery store without wearing a mask for a good part of my 45th year, I’ll go with 23.

22 & 23 What's the age that you liked being the most and the least?

I think 45 is going to be the one I like the least. Again, while it will be exciting seeing my kids grow, I don’t know when I’ll be able to see my mom. Or go out to a concert or sporting event. Or coach my kids’ soccer teams. See a theme here?

The age I liked the most? Probably 25 which is odd to say since I had some tough times then. I couldn’t stand my supervisor at my primary job and often struggled to keep motivated during graduate school. I just wanted to be done. I mentioned “primary” job since I also had at least 2 other jobs at that time. However, as a 25 year old, I went to Israel for 10 days followed immediately (with a 4-hour stop at Newark Airport) by spending the summer in Lancaster, England. I made side trips to Dublin, Edinburgh, Paris, London, and more. Then, after returning to the US, I met friends in Vegas and attended a wedding in Montreal. I also started dating my girlfriend who is now my wife. Just before I turned 26, three friends and I drove from Columbus, Ohio to Buffalo to see the Penguins win game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals (the Darius Kasparaitis overtime goal game) and then immediately back to Columbus. Such a cool experience!

24. Who are your celebrity crushes, then…?

Alyssa Milano and Debbie Gibson. And yes I wrote about both of them here and here.

25. …and now?

This one is much tougher since I don’t know all of the latest stars. I probably would have said Katy Perry a few years ago, but not so much now and it has nothing to do with her dressing up in a Dumbo costume during the recent Disney singalong.

I’ll go with Anna Kendrick who is very talented and also seems to have a great sense of humor. I enjoyed reading her book too. I'm also a fan of fellow Pittsburgh Steelers fan Sofia Vergara.

26. & 27. What do you like/dislike the most about being part of Gen X?

This might be the hardest question on here. I don’t have a good answer. I think it’s nice that us Gen X folks connected to a time with “old” technology (like rotary phones or televisions without remotes) but also know how to use computers. We’re not getting told that we and need to die like Baby Boomers to help the economy, but we’re also not Millennials who are told that we spend too much money on avocado toast. We’re just here doing the best we can trying to help our parents and our kids.

28. What is your favorite blog post?

How can I pick just one out of over 3,000? It’s like picking my favorite child. I mean that answer changes on a minute-to-minute basis. Some of my TMI Thursday posts were fun. I feel like I had some great posts about my kids and being a dad. Interviewing Chris Wright, the former Pittsburgh Spirit and Minnesota Timberwolves General Manager, was a neat experience. Actually, just because of who asked this question, this is my favorite blog post!

29. So what’s been your favorite hockey trip so far?

For over a decade now, a friend and I have taken an annual-ish road trip to see NHL hockey games across the United States and Canada. At this point, we’ve seen nearly 2/3rds of the NHL teams/cities. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve tried to chronicle some of our experiences over the years. While it’s hard to pick a favorite trip since they’ve all been fun, I think I’m going with our 2009 trip to Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto. The negative was that it was freezing in Montreal (temperatures were in the negative teens) and the crowd at the Maple Leafs game was the quietest at any that we’ve attended. Why am I bringing up the negative? I don’t know. The crowds at Montreal and Ottawa were outstanding. We got to see the Hockey Hall of Fame with the Stanley Cup in Toronto, toured Canada’s capital, and ate some really good steak in Montreal. We did so much driving, got stuck re-entering the United States from Toronto, surreally watched the news seeing that Sully landed a plane in the Hudson River, and then I stumbled into people attending Obama inauguration parties when I returned to DC. What a trip!

30. If you could attend any major sporting event regardless of who is in it, what would it be? Super Bowl, World Series, World Cup Final, Masters, Indy 500, Kentucky Derby, Championship fight, etc.?

The “who is in it” is the key here. The Steelers in a Super Bowl or the Penguins or Pirates in a game seven would be at the top of the list. Ithaca College somehow making it to the Division I NCAA Final Four despite being a Division III team would be the dream scenario. Since I don’t have a significant rooting interest in this scenario, I’d pick the World Cup final. Unlike the other examples in the question, this only happens every four years. It has the biggest worldwide television audience of any sporting event, and you’ll have people from all over the world in attendance making it a really unique experience.

31. If you could get tickets to any one Summer Olympic event, what would you go see?

The men’s 100 meter dash but with an asterisk. This might be the most exciting athletic event in all of sports, but I’m also not spending a lot of money on a 10-second race. There needs to be a several hours of qualifying races and/or other track and field events, concluding with this race.

32. If you could get tickets to any one Winter Olympic event, what would you go see?

The women’s hockey gold medal game gets a slight edge over the men’s hockey gold medal game. While I can see many of the men’s players in the NHL, the women’s game is truly the biggest event in the sport. Plus, there’s an excellent chance that the game would feature the American and Canadian teams, and they’ve had quite the rivalry over the years.

33. Your wife tells you that she’s taking the kids out all day and you have the entire day to yourself. What would you do?

To dream, the impossible dream!

Obviously, the answer is before the coronavirus. For most of the day, the answer would be nothing. I would sleep in. Maybe I’d read the newspaper. I’d sit on the couch and watch whatever is on my DVR. At some point, definitely after lunch, I’d probably go out to see a movie since I rarely go to the theater. For the evening, it would go to a trivia night or a sporting event with friends. This sounds like a fantastic day!

So as you can see, I've only answered 33 of 45 questions. I’m still 12 questions short. Will there be a part III? Please ask some questions, so the answer will be yes!

Anna Kendrick photo from her Instagram page.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Friday Video: Pittsburgh Sports Faceoff

I'm a media superstar lately. I appeared on the Ya Jagoff! podcast a few weeks ago. Hundreds of thousands of people are reading my recent blog posts.* And now I competed on the second ever episode of Pittsburgh Sports Faceoff, a trivia game on Pittsburgh Sports Live. Matt Gajtka is the show's host and creator, and I faced off against Alan Saunders. I've read and followed both of their work for many years now (Alan actually wrote a guest post on my blog and participated in my 2020s predictions post), so it was cool meeting them in person (well via Zoom). I'll share some thoughts and spoilers below, but here's the video of the episode:

Based on the final question, Alan clearly deserved to win. With that written, there were several questions where Alan and I said our names at the same time. In all but one of these cases, Matt heard Alan's name first, and then Alan answered the question correctly. Would things have turned out differently if Matt heard my name first? Again, no because of the final question, but I would have got those right. Am I trying to create a fake controversy here? Maybe a little. Okay, yes. With the NFL not in season and the NHL not playing games, I just think we could have called the league offices in New York and/or Toronto for a final ruling!

One final note. After the taping of the episode ended, I stayed on Zoom to talk with Matt and Alan. During this time, I noticed that The Moose and Pedro Tulo were listening in, so I called them over to say hi. In the episode, I proudly mentioned that I'm still a Pittsburgh sports fan and even said that when I attend Washington Capitals games, it's generally against the Penguins, so I go to Pens games not Caps games. Sure enough, The Moose came over wearing a red Caps T-shirt that he sometimes wears to bed and that we got for free at a Caps booth at a local festival last spring. Embarrassing!

If you have a chance, check out future episodes of Pittsburgh Sports Faceoff and follow Matt and Alan on Twitter.

* This number may be off by several hundreds of thousands. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

45 Years Old: 45 Questions Answered (Part I)

I’m 45 today. Happy Birthday to me! I’m going to celebrate by publishing this blog post where I answer 45 questions asked by friends. This is part one since 45 questions in one blog post would be way too many, and I don’t actually have 45 questions to answer yet. So please send me an email or a message on Facebook or Twitter or even in the comments with a question or two. A blog post titled 45 Years Old: 19 Questions Answered sounds awful.

1. What is your greatest regret?

I honestly don’t really have anything major. I should have asked a girl or woman out when I was younger, but I guess I was scared about being rejected or sharing my feelings. I could have met the Pittsburgh Penguins at the airport when they won their first Stanley Cup or attended a Penn State football game once when I was in State College. Maybe the fact that I lived in San Diego and actually decided to leave? Even with that, I wouldn’t have had the life I have now if I stayed in Southern California. Oh, not a great regret, but I lived in San Diego for 2 years and never visited Mexico. Not sure how that was possible. You know, there is one thing. I had a best friend from before elementary school through high school, but we lost touch and it was likely my fault. It would be cool to reconnect with him again

2. What was the best birthday you ever had?

Probably my 13th birthday. I had my Bar Mitzvah the following day, so I got to have a huge party with my entire family and friends. And I became a man and heard lots of fountain pen jokes that I still don’t understand 32 years later.

3. Which professional sports hall of fame has the most dubious standards?

I really don't know how the NHL or NBA Hall of Fames operate, so my answer is the NFL. Except for 2020 where the NFL is having a centennial class, each year a 48-member selection committee picks 5 players for Hall of Fame enshrinement (not including old-time/senior nominees). One of the journalists on the committee argues his or her (I think there's only 1 woman on the committee, so it’s basically his) case why a player should get in. While someone like Troy Polamalu or Peyton Manning are locks to make the Hall of Fame, let’s say that a journalist isn’t prepared or a good speaker to try to convince the committee to elect Hines Ward or someone who may or may not make the Hall of Fame. There’s no public forum or indication of who votes for or against a certain player either. 48 people get to pick. Seems like there should be a better system.

4. What is a favorite place in Pittsburgh, for you?

Well, it can’t be The O anymore, so I’m giving two answers. The first is taking The Incline up to Mt. Washington and staring down at the city. I could just look out at the skyline and the rivers for hours. The second is PNC Park to watch a baseball game. Sure, you can say Bob Nutting is cheap and the Pirates are bad, but I still love going to baseball games and PNC Park is the one of the best place to see one. If you’re on the third base line, you can look at a different part of city skyline and the Allegheny River.

5. Ticked off that you were Government Man rather than Lil Abner?

I made my acting debut as Government Man in the Gene Kelly-award winning Woodland Hills High School production of the musical Lil' Abner. I am completely fine not earning the title role. The biggest reason is that I wasn’t (and still am not) a good singer. I made the musical cast because I did really well in my dancing audition, and I think they needed more guys. In the first rehearsal where I had to say my lines, one of my lines was "Cough, cough water cough" after drinking some moonshine or other awful-tasting product. Instead of acting like I was choking, I actually read out “cough, cough, water cough.” I did this again after the director stopped the scene. It was at that point that the director completely flipped out. Who knew that I was actually supposed to act like I was choking in the first rehearsal? I was just saying my line. There are actually videos of my performance (but not my cough cough water cough line) here.

6. Who let the dogs out?

It was the Baja Men with some help on the inside. Why have only one security guard and post him outside? Plus, someone must have opened the doors for the dogs!

7. Of the cities you have lived in, which one was your favorite?

Going back to the first question, San Diego. I moved there in 1997 for a job knowing basically two people: a distant relative who welcomed me with open arms and let me stay at her house for a month and a friend from high school who chose San Diego for grad school and became my roommate. I mention 1997 specifically since the 1997-1998 winter was a really bad El Nino year (and the first time I ever heard that phrase) where it rained much more than it usually does in San Diego and there were days where the high temperatures were only in the 50s. People who lived in San Diego for years said it was one of the worst winters they remembered. For me, it was fantastic. No snow and some rainy days. After spending 22 years in Pittsburgh and Ithaca, New York, the winter weather was fantastic. I also loved my job and knew that I fell into an amazing experience with the best working environment I would ever have and made some really good friends. I also took a surfing class. I couldn't do that in Pittsburgh, Ithaca, Columbus, or DC!

8. Suppose you had to introduce yourself with something *other* than "Hi. I'm Sean. I'm from Pittsburgh."

Now that I’ve lived in Northern Virginia for almost 20 years, when asked, I say that I live in Northern Virginia. I then say that I’m originally from Pittsburgh!

9. If you were from another place, where would it be, and what sports teams would you follow?

Because of my parents and other family members, the answer would be the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers no matter where I lived. Like many Penguins fans though, I didn’t become a fan until Mario Lemieux joined the team. My earliest memories of the Pens were watching them on WPGH-53 lose to the Islanders with Denis Potvin and Bryan Trottier 8-3 regularly in the pre-Mario days. If I grew up somewhere else in the 80s, I would be a fan of that hockey team. It would be the Red Wings if I grew up in Detroit, the Blackhawks if I grew up in Chicago, or the Capitals if I grew up in the DC area. (Yuck!)

10. What's your favorite BBYO memory?

This was my youth group in high school. I was always a chapter-first guy, so my favorite memory was winning Tournies when I was my chapter’s president. Tournies was a competition between various chapters in our region in all types of events like basketball, bowling, Connect 4, a lip-sync, and a lot more. We were awesome!

I’d like to thank Leah (one of the people who recommended me for the job in San Diego 23 years ago) for giving me the idea for this post since she did it herself.

Please keep the questions coming, so that I can have parts II and beyond. (I already have some questions but can use a lot more.)

Update: Part II is now available here.

Pittsburgh photo by the amazing Dave DiCello.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Random Baseball Players

One of my favorite podcasts is The PosCast featuring sports writer Joe Posnanski and Michael Schur, who you may know better as the creator, co-creator, writer, and/or producer of The Good Place, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Office, and Masters of None, only some of the best television comedies over the last decade. In a recent episode, they talked with Stefan Fatsis and Jonathan Hock about the 2020 Name of the Year Bracket and then transitioned to a draft of some of the first baseball players that popped into their minds. Now that I'm a podcast veteran, I figured that I would share my list, um, on my blog and not on a podcast.

One ground rule here. The player can't be a great player. Sure you can share the time you saw Barry Bonds, Pedro Martinez, Mike Trout, or Nolan Ryan, but what fun would that be. The purpose of this post is to name five random players.

Dave Magadan - I spent lots and lots and lots of time collecting baseball cards and going to card shows in the late 80s and early 90s. For some reason, I had a bunch of rookie cards of Mets 3B/1B Dave Magadan. I thought he was going to be really good and the cards would be worth a lot of money. I thought wrong. Amazingly, Magadan played 16 seasons in the majors. Also amazingly is that Magadan had only 42 home runs in 4159 at-bats. That's a terrible ratio for someone that plays 1B/3B. Actually, that a terrible ratio for anyone playing baseball.

Doug Frobel - I always thought that Frobel was a funny name.

Tuffy Rhodes - I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been in the same fantasy baseball league since 1991. We generally draft a few days into the season, so that we knew who made the opening day roster. In 1994, Chicago Cubs outfielder Tuffy Rhodes hit three home runs on opening day, and we all thought he was going to have a monster season. In our auction league draft, someone got him for like $30, which was a huge amount at that time. Rhodes hit 5 home runs the rest of the year.

Vicente Palacios - I shared this story earlier, but I attended the 1988 Pirates home opener With the bases loaded and no one out in the 6th inning, manager Jim Leyland brought in Palacios who retired the next three batters without allowing a run. And that was just the start to Palacios' Hall of Fame career! Random fact that I just learned from his Baseball Reference page: Palacios pitched in 7 games for the San Diego Padres in 2000 after last playing in the majors in 1995.

Steve Nicosia - Nicosia was the backup catcher for the Pirates in the late 70s and early 80s. I believe that I went to a game near the end of Nicosia's tenure with my family and another family. My memory is a little fuzzy, but before the game, we were hanging out by the bullpen or third/first base line asking for an autograph or baseball. Finally, Steve Nicosia threw a ball to one of the kids in the other family. I didn’t get a ball, and to this day, I still haven’t got a baseball at a game. No, I'm not bitter.

Honorable mentions:

Jose Tabata for breaking up a perfect game with two strikes and two outs in the 9th inning by getting hit by a pitch.

Archi Cianfrocco for being my friend Dan's favorite player. If Dan still reads this blog, I hope he can explain the obsession of over a career -4.0 WAR hitter. I think Dan might have met Archi at an Expos game.

Tuffy Rhodes photo by Getty.

Friday, May 08, 2020

Friday Video: East Liverpool

My mom grew up in East Liverpool, Ohio and most of her side of the family lived there too. She told us stories about how great it was to grow up in East Liverpool, and you can feel the town’s sense of pride, particularly when I attended the all-class reunion in 1998.

However, the town’s population has decreased significantly over the years and the unemployment rate went in the other direction. The hometown of former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz only seemed to make the news because of drugs like when a there was a viral video of parents getting high while their toddler was in the car seat in the back seat.

There seems to be a bit of a revival in downtown East Liverpool as shown by this new film, "East Liverpool, Ohio: My Town."

The film is written, directed, and produced by Kelly Murphy Woodward. It's also narrated by a guy you may have heard of named Regis Philbin. (There's a Lou Holtz/Notre Dame connection there.) PBS Western Reserve is airing this on Saturday, May 9, at 5 p.m.; Saturday, May 23, at 6:30 p.m.; Wednesday, May 27, at 3 a.m.; and Thursday, May 28, at 6 p.m. Of course, you can also watch it above. For more information, please check out the PBS Western Reserve website here and here.

I worry that COVID-19 is going to hurt East Liverpool's revitalization, but hopefully the town will persevere and thrive again.