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.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Notes From Home: Volume 4

It’s time for another update of my life at home!

* The Moose (9) needed a haircut, so we attempted to give him one with some clippers we bought recently. It went poorly.

Fortunately, a neighbor was able to salvage his hair. It’s better but still not great.

I actually think the hairstyle is perfect if he was a member of Color Me Badd or EMF (you're unbelievable!) or some other musical group from the early 90s. While it will grow back, I have no idea what we're going to do with his hair in 4-6 weeks when it does grow back!

* We don’t have any type of a sleep schedule for the kids. In normal times during the school year, the two year old (Luigi) would go to sleep between 8:00 and 8:30 and we would wake him up around 6:30. He did not like waking up this early. He also got a 90-minute to 2-hour nap in the afternoon. Now, he goes to bed after 9:00 PM and wakes up around 9:00 AM. We don’t even try to give him a nap. Overall, he probably gets the same amount of sleep, but I’d rather that he went to sleep and wake up a little earlier. Meanwhile, I’m typing this at 10:38 PM on a Tuesday evening, and The Moose is still awake creating some kind of bank or something.

* Pedro Tulo (age 6) has started to notice the expiration dates on milk and other products. When seeing me wear a 2017 Penguins Stanley Cup Champions T-shirt recently, we had the following exchange.

Pedro Tulo: Your shirt is going to expire.
Me: I have shirts that are 20 years old. It will be fine.

* Since we’ve been home 24/7, I’ve noticed that Ziggy sleeps a lot. A lot a lot. He’ll be 12 this summer, so I know he’s getting older, but it just seems like he sleeps all the time.

(Apparently, this picture of Ziggy is brought to you by Intel.)

* The Moose is learning about Ancient Greece. While it seems like he’s interested in the portion about Olympics, he only seems moderately interested in any of the other parts. However, The Moose really enjoys trivia. He regularly asks me to ask him questions and wants to know how my team does when I play trivia with my friends. So I mentioned to him that there always seems to be questions about Ancient Greece and Greek gods. Sure enough, there was a category on Jeopardy! last week about Greek gods. Thank you Jeopardy!

* I mentioned this on a previous blog post, but the last time that I bought gas continues to be March 15th.

* Finally, sadly, a significant number of restaurants aren't going to recover from COVID-19 and being closed. Restaurants are a tough business even in good times, so it's not like the majority of them have huge amounts of cash reserves in case of an emergency. With that written, Chick-fil-a isn't going anywhere. The kids really like their food, so we went through the drive through for lunch as a treat for them. The line of cars was at least 30 deep. And it moved effectively and efficiently. Chick-fil-a is going to outlive us all!

For more of my "Notes From Home" during the COVID-19 crisis, please click here.

Friday, May 01, 2020

Sean Does a Podcast

I've listened to the Ya Jagoff! podcast since its inception several years ago. For me, it's a fun way to stay connected to my hometown of Pittsburgh and to hear about some of the fun activities and events happening and people of the 'Burgh. John and Rachael invited me to come on when I get back to Pittsburgh, but we haven't been able to connect. However, with most people stuck at home, this was the perfect opportunity for me to join them.

Before I get any further, the podcast is available here on the Ya Jagoff website! Now for the behind the scenes stuff. This was the first time I’ve ever been on a podcast, and I was much more nervous than I expected. The plan was for my wife to take the kids outside just before I was scheduled to talk with John and Rachael. Of course, my older two kids (ages 9 and 6) decided that they didn’t want to go outside. The next plan was that I would be in the kitchen while the kids were in their bedroom. Naturally, they started arguing about something, so you can hear some screaming (or at least my acknowledgement of the screaming) very early in my part of the podcast. As a result I raced up to my youngest son's bedroom and locked the door. When I finished the podcast, they were standing right outside the door trying to hear what I was saying and wanted to know all about it. I should probably mention that my 6 year old has no idea what a podcast is.

Based on the order of when I appeared on the podcast, I got top billing over WPXI's Mike Holden and the musical guest, The Whelming Waters. (This is completely untrue, but it sounds good.) Just for fun, I'm including the promo video I made.

And here are the outtakes!

So that's my podcast experience. Now I'm ready to be on Marc Maron or any other podcast!