One more day off. I promise. Things are settling down, but I need another day to get my head right to write.
Sorry, folks. I know I've been inconsistent lately. Things have been topsy-turvy as of late, between job interviews and the whole funeral thing. But, I should be able to find an hour out of my day to write on here, so that's no excuse for the schedule slippage as of late. Oh well. You get what you pay for, I suppose.
Anyway, on the home front, I've submitted to a background check and a drug screen, so I think I'll have a job offer soon. That might further screw with the schedule here, but at least I'll be drawing a real paycheck again.
On the sports front, I had a conversation with my dad a little while ago while watching the Dodgers and Phillies on MLB. He's a pretty big fan of Matt Kemp, and really, who isn't? Besides Rihanna, anyway. The conversation actually started with James Loney and his lack of power. That seemed awfully rare from a first baseman, especially in this era. Then I made the comment that the Dodgers get more than their fair share of homers from center field, which most teams don't get.
That got us thinking, what happened to power hitting center fielders? Right now we have Kemp and Josh Hamilton,* and that's all we could come up with right now. There are some guys who can hit homers, like Shane Victorino, but it's not really a feature of their game. What happened to the power hitting center fielder? The last time I can really think of one was Ken Griffey, Jr., before the injuries mounted. But think back a little further, and you'll come up with quite a few through history. Heck, all three New York teams had them in the 50's and 60's. You know the song. "Willie, Mickey, and the Duke." It's a long way from my favorite baseball song, but it's iconic nonetheless. Or at least Cooperstown thinks so.
*Hamilton, though, is probably more a left fielder these days after injuring his ribs last year. So then we're just back to Kemp.
I've thought about it a little more, and I did come up with Jim Edmonds in the interim between now and Griffey, but that's been about it. I did some searching around, and apparently Andruw Jones had more home runs than I remembered. I remember him hitting some home runs when he was younger, but I seemed to remember that power dropping off before he left the Braves. Which, I suppose might be true, but he still packed more punch than I remember. Other than that, there seems to have been a real dearth of power in center. I suppose that just goes to show that you put defense up the middle and offense on the corners.
That, then, got me thinking about another lacking field: Hall-of-Fame third basemen. It seems like an unenviable job. I know third was probably my least favorite infield position to play. I liked first more than third. And it seems to get back to that idea of how you structure your team. It seems that many times you have a third basemen who hits for power, but not as much as the first baseman or a left fielder. He will typically field pretty well, too, but not as well as your middle infield. So third base seems to fall into that "jack of all trades, master of none" zone that leaves them out of Cooperstown. Much like many fifth hitters in a lineup. Sure, they have some pop, but they typically aren't nearly as feared as three or four hole guys.
Building a baseball team is something you could (and I'm sure people have) write volumes about, and maybe it's something I'll have to learn how to do even better. I've spoken to the commissioner of the Prospect League, and he desperately wants a team in Lafayette as well. Now we just need to find somebody who's willing to commit somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000 to buy a team and cover the initial costs (equipment, travel, me). As much as I think I will like this IT job, running a team would be a dream that I would have to pursue if the opportunity came up. Wish me luck!
A few orders of business. First off, the good folks at Weebly have been hard at work upgrading, well, everything around here. The editing format is much improved, and the new autosave feature has been a godsend. Those trials and tribulations have been well-documented. Also, you might have noticed there are now social media buttons at the end of every article. Weebly graciously added those without any prompting, which I do appreciate. I didn't really want to dig through a year's worth of nearly (week)daily posting adding those buttons.
Also, before, I get going today, let me welcome Japan into the AP Baseball international fold. Also, while India has been previously welcomed, I have noticed more hits coming from that region. I'm not entirely sure why, but I'll take it. Maybe it has to do with a growing baseball scene in India. I'd read a bit about it before today, but it still surprises me. I figured cricket had a stranglehold on ball-and-bat sports there, but I suppose when you've got over a billion people in a relatively small space,* there's room for variety.
*I know, India is the seventh largest country in the world, it's not small by any means. But to cram a billion people in there? Not that big. For comparison, the US is just over 3.5 million square miles. India is 1.1 million square miles. The US population is listed at 313,674,000 on Wikipedia. India is at 1.2 billion.
Anyway, I think it's more than overdue to get back to sports. Baseball in particular. We're going to ease back into things here and just reset the season through the first 55 games or so.
First, in baseball the way God intended it in the National League. In the East, the Nationals are much improved. This wasn't too hard to see, but you would be forgiven if you thought the Marlins were the real story of the East from following big media. I've actually been surprised the Marlins have done as well as they have. I knew that would be improved, but I thought the Nationals would outclass them. I suppose that could still happen, but they find themselves tied atop the division right now. On the other end of the spectrum, you knew age and injuries would catch up to the Phillies eventually. It seems to have hit this year. They're still sitting at .500, but that's not going to be good enough in a surprisingly strong division. The real surprise there? The Mets. Terrible last year, and didn't make any huge changes. Abracadabra, they're seven games over .500 and finally have a no-no in their franchise history. Who would have thought? Nobody from what I read.
In my home division, the Central, things are pretty much like you'd expect. The Reds are not a surprise leader. The Cardinals and Pirates are in the hunt. I've been harping on people who still don't see Pittsburgh as a good baseball team. They had a pretty rough second half of the season last year, but don't forget that they were only a game out of first at the All-Star Break last year. They're going to put two halves together here, sooner rather than later. To that point, the Indianapolis Indians are leading their division right now with the second best record in the International League. Help is on the way to Pittsburgh. Again, on the other end of the things, the Cubs have pretty well confirmed my worst fears and fallen deeply into last place. The Astros, currently in fifth, are almost closer to first than they are to last. I'm afraid if you give it a few weeks, that will be the case.
Out West, the Dodgers have been slumping, but they still have the best record in baseball, so it's hard to feel too bad for them. I do feel bad for Matt Kemp, though. Dude is a stud, but can't stay on the field this year. Hopefully he'll take his time and heal up right this time. Better to miss extra games in June and July than in October. Of course, October might not matter if the Giants keep charging. I started to write how I wasn't sure if the wild card would come out of the East or West, but then I remembered the Bud Selig tossed history to the wind. Now I'm sad.
In the American League, well, I don't pay too much attention. Have I mentioned how much I hate the DH? For what it's worth, your division leaders are no surprises. Rays, White Sox, and Rangers. The Angels are coming back a little bit after getting off to a bad start. The East is all being played within three games. The Central's big surprise is how the Tigers have done jack squat. Cleveland is off to another good start, and I want to believe in them. I'm a bit gun-shy after last year, though. But, it's whatever. All I really want out of the AL is for Toronto or Baltimore to make the playoffs. Or both. But, I have a feeling the playoffs are going to come down to "Can anybody beat the Rangers?"
That's it for today. Maybe something a little more thought out tomorrow. I'm thinking maybe Josh Hamilton related, though that story seems to have died down a bit during the short (and unexpected) hiatus. Now I have to go pee in a cup to prove I don't do drugs. I'm hoping that means a job offer is coming. Keep your fingers crossed.
Things have been awfully busy as of late, and it doesn't this week will be any different.
I'm hoping to have a job offer here in the next few days, which is very good news. Very overdue. But, more to the point, my home town,* Covington, received some terrible news late last week. One of our local Marines, Lance Corporal Josh Witsman, was killed in action.
*The whole home town business can be awfully tricky. You can take that a few ways, and if your family moved a lot, it can get really murky. There are a few cities I feel some deeper bond with. Covington is where I grew up, and where I will typically tell you is my home town. I also feel a connection with Crawfordsville, as that's where I went to college and live now. I also feel that way about Lafayette, having lived there and spent significant time in. To a lesser degree, I feel that about Indianapolis, but I didn't really live there. I spent a summer with an uncle in Carmel, but that's about it. I've spent quite a bit of time there, sure, and it's where I'd consider myself from on a national stage, to put it as best I can. But, at the heart of it all, I'm a product of Covington.
I'm sure you will have no problem picking Josh out of that picture with his family. If you're curious, pictured there are Adam (his older brother), Kayla (his mom), and Tom (his dad). As a product of a small town*, I can certainly tell you there are some disadvantages. But, one of the nice things is the ability to know everybody. Almost everybody in town of a certain age has some sort of memory with Josh. When something like this happens, it really does make the community even more tightly knit. The town has really come together to mourn Josh and support the family. Which is great. But, there are some things I need to get off my chest.
*Covington was counted as 2,645 at the last census, which is a bit bigger than my heyday there. Not a much, but a couple hundred or so.
First off, let me reiterate this. This is a horrible tragedy. I can't say I was best friends with Josh, but I did know him fairly well. I knew Adam better, just being closer in age and having more similar interests. But, even better than that, I knew his parents. Kayla has been friends with my mom pretty well from the time she moved to Covington from Danville. I grew up around them and for longer than I probably should thought Kayla was my aunt by blood.* We camping with them, we spent quite a bit of time at their house and they spent quite a bit of time at ours growing up. I remember Josh being an awkward kid who spent a lot of his younger years being picked on. Then he grew into a strapping young man, as you can probably see, and that changed.
*Part of that is having a pretty big extended family. My mom has eight brothers, my dad has ten siblings. With that many aunts, uncles, and cousins, you just start assuming everybody is relation as a child.
Credibility established,* here's the first thing I need to get off my chest. I always meant to apologize for this to Josh's face, but now I'll never get that chance. Like I said, Josh spent a lot of time being awkward. But, being a family friend, my dad got him on our little league team, and that was fine for the most part. As good as Josh got to be at football and wrestling, though, baseball just wasn't his sport. I remember one instance where we were all warming up for a game, and Josh didn't have anybody to warm up with. I don't know how hard he asked around to join in and go three-way, but that's not the point. He just sort of milled around until Tom finally came down from the bleachers and played catch with him himself and chewed out the rest of us a little bit when he left.
*Trust me, that's going to be important.
I've felt bad about that pretty much since it happened. I know not everybody makes the most mature decisions at twelve or whatever I was at the time, but I was old enough and definitely knew Josh well enough I should have stepped up and had him warm up with us. The only excuse I might have had was I spent an entire season catching in little league, so I might have been warming up the pitcher. But, I don't think that was the case, at least not at that time. Because I remember feeling bad about it at the time. I think that was a life-changing moment, actually. I usually go out of my way to be inclusive now, and I think some of it is guilt over that incident. This will just amplify things.
As bad as I feel about that, it's still something that happened when I was twelve. A much more major issue is with the town itself. Like I've said a few times already, I love that the community is rallying around Kayla* and her family. The problem comes in when it comes off as so phony. I've watched as the entire town has fallen over itself to make a big deal over how close they were to Josh and his family. It's a little infuriating when you were close to Kayla before Josh ever considered the Marines. If you were involved in the discussions about joining the Marines, or when he decided to marry a girl pretty quickly, or when a surprise baby was born.** No, instead, so much of the mourning seems to be for appearances. You have to look good and look like you were close to the situation so you can feel good about yourself, feel included.
*Kayla was, by far, the most active in Covington, having coached youth soccer for years and working at the court house until just a year or two ago.
**I was not, but my mom sure was. And just to make it clear, I'm more pissed for her than I am for myself. Just in case the point became muddled. Ranting tends to do that.
There was a candlelight vigil for Josh last night. It was awfully touching, and thanks to Adam, I'll never be able to listen to Foo Fighter's "My Hero" the same way again. Kayla and Tom came back into town* in a bit of a surprise move. And they, especially Kayla, were mobbed after the vigil with people trying to get hugs. But, while we were waiting to get a turn with Kayla, all sorts of snide and "socialite" conversation going on, and so many people trying to get somebody to get a picture of them hugging Kayla. So much "mourning" all for show. When we finally got to her, our little group made a little circle around her so she could just get a break and finally take a few drinks of water, which she was still holding unopened. To many people barging in right after another so they could get their chance to make face.
Like I said, infuriating. We'll see who's still there in six months to listen to Kayla while she tries to piece her life back together. I'm sure we all know somebody who has lost a kid. Our family just went through this a year or so ago when I lost an actual cousin to cancer. It takes years to get back to something resembling normal. Who will still be there when the story goes cold?
Anyway, agree, disagree. I don't care. I had to get that out there. Now, for Josh.