Come to Camden hun

For the first time since I was a student at the University of Maryland @ College Park, the Baltimore Orioles are in the playoffs.  I’ve had friends that I used to talk baseball with back then re-engage in the past six months that haven’t had the opportunity to have some Oriole pride that haven’t had a chance to do so in 15 years.  Well, they had the opportunity to talk baseball, but usually only into June before they were playing out the string.  A few may remember that Lee Mazzilli had the O’s in 1st place at the All Star break a few years back.  Although that preceded a 2nd half of the season so bad that Mazzilli would be looking to get his Yankees bench coach position back and avoid the unemployment line in October of the same year.  It has not been an easy ride for those fans.  As a Jets fan, I know what it’s like to cheer for a a chronically disappointing team, but this was different.

It was different because the Orioles had an owner in place that didn’t seem like he was trying.  Peter Angelos has been the owner of the club dating back to when such greats as Armando Benitez played “the Oriole way” (Benitez beaning the Yankees Tino Martinez set-off one of the best baseball brawls I can remember back in 1998).  That team competed to win.  You better compete to win if you have Cal Ripken Jr. on your roster and you are the owner.  But shortly after Cal retired, or maybe even before depending on who you ask, the Orioles stopped putting a competitive product on the field.  The once vibrant Camden Yards was now a place in the 2000’s that would be quasi-filled for Opening Day, then sporadically for a few more games as the season wore on, often by Yankees and Red Sox fans that were willing to make the drive down I-95 when their team visited the Yard.  The mediocrity (and that is me being nice to bad teams) that followed the late ’90’s squads was abyssmal.  I have known many a hardened fan just give up on the Orioles.  Why shouldn’t they?  Their owner had!  Not only was Angelos not bringing in the right types of front-office baseball personnel, he was not trying to sign free agents.  Shoot, he even ignored his own potential free agents, like Mike Mussina.  This was the final straw for many fans.  Mike Mussina was a staple of the late ’90’s Orioles pitching staffs.  In November of 2000, he took less money to play for the Yankees.  Mussina cited that when Joe Torre and Derek Jeter reached out to him, it showed they WANTED him.  And isn’t that what we all want deep down?  To be wanted?  That and the $88.5 million he got from Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.  An owner acused of a lot of things but never of not trying to win.

So now fast-forward to 2012 and here we are.  15 years later and guys I know from UMCP are now again fired-up for baseball in the latter stages of the season.  The connections between then and now still are there.  The manager of the Yankees that resurrected their squad in the mid-90’s, just before their string of 4 World Series victories in 5 years, Buck Showalter, is now the manager of the Orioles.  Showalter, the first MLB manager Derek Jeter knew, is aiming to be the last one Jeter sees in the opposing dugout as the teams square off tomorrow in the playoffs.  I’ve seen fans start cheering for the Indians (you know it is bad when you give up cheering for Baltimore for the Cleveland Indians) instead of the Orioles.  I’ve seen others give up on the O’s to cheer for the Nationals as well.  Those fans that cheer for the Nationals now can thank the Orioles manager from those late ’90’s squads, Davey Johnson, for giving them the opportunity to think about a Beltway Series between the Nats and O’s.  For now though, a playoff series between the Yanks and O’s is on tap.  I’m obviously a Yankees fan, but after all these years, I think it’s great for baseball and my old O’s fan friends to see their team compete.  It should be fun…hun.  Go Yanks.

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Deep thoughts

I’ve been a public transportation consumer for a year now.  Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be forced to hear a conversation between a young woman and one of her girlfriends going through a difficult time. 

I’ll spare you all the details but here is the buzz word of the discussion: ointment 

Here’s what was lacking during that conversation: common sense

How could someone consider this conversation be a good idea to have in public? 

When the topic does come up, maybe a muted tone would kick in? 

I looked around and thought I was on Punk’d but remembered I am not a celebrity.

Thankfully I had my headphones on me but I couldn’t help but smile the rest of the ride home.

He’s BACK

I have to start by saluting my former colleagues at the NJ Nets.  Congrats on wrapping another season and a lot longer in NJ.  Good luck in Brooklyn. 

Anyone else get fired up by playoff hockey?  I would maybe watch one game combined during the regular season, but have been following the “Rangez” in their first round match-up vs. the Sens.  Made the mistake of checking in on the game a couple of times last night and just as the Sens forward kicked in the “goal” that made the score 3-2 NY.  The Mrs. was displeased when the screen did not revert to our originally scheduled program of the previous night’s Mad Men in a timely fashion.  1-0 Jenna if you are scoring the results in that argument.

From the “damn I thought I had a large grape” department, look at this guys dome!  Are we sure a bald head is the way to go here?   

Vikings agreed to terms with WR Jerome Simpson, formerly of the Bengals, on a one-year contract.

Would love to see the size of the hat they give him for the press conference.  Over/under 10 and 5/8’s?

Baseball-wise, Rangez (from Texas) and Yanks are all doing well out of the gate.  The Chi Sawx are surprisingly good but the Red Sawx are historically bad.  They needed a rain out so bad Saturday night versus the Yanks after their collapse on Saturday, they may have called Crash Davis to help.  Google it if you have no idea who Crash Davis is and go ahead and apologize while you’re at it.

The NBA playoffs are coming.  Get ready for the most drawn out 2 months of your sporting life.  Please give me a break Ron Artest.  That was a pathetic, bush league move during the OKC Thunder game and you should be banned once and for all from the league.  Anytime you hit double digits in suspensions that should be enough of an indication that the guy is not wired properly to get an 8 figure salary.  It’s sad that that was not even his ugliest moment.

That’s all I got for now, but I’ve been asked to post more often than once every 6 months.  Granted, it was a request from a family member but I’ll take it.  TTYLMFers.

  

I object your honor

I was having such a great week. Then I decided to put the TV on. I cannot watch any news outlet on any network without getting an angle. What happened to “just the facts”?
I get it, the networks are run by folks in a position of power. With that power can come a sense of entitlement. “I don’t care what you think your entitled to” to loosely quote Jack from A Few Good Men. It’s not responsible journalism. It’s why I go to the BBC and Reuters for my news. I used to go to Google News but when every other story comes from the Huffington Post, The New York Times or any other fine establishment, well, I just start to get sad. The international outlets gives me a perspective not native to these parts and is refreshing. Imagine getting your news without a Breaking News cut in to announce, well, nothing. But it is something that allows us to put a cool graphic onleast screen. These outlets have their pros and cons as well, but at least it caters to people with more than a 140 character attention span.
Everything needs to be instant. No breaking news with that statement but come on, when people start talking in text, remember the “lol” episode for all my Curb fans out there, there’s a problem. What happened to just having a conversation? Not being preoccupied with “what’s next” or “what else am I missing out on by talking to you”. I just wonder sometimes. Why can’t we just live more in the moment? Put your phone down, turn off the tv, read a book and talk to the person in the room. You may learn something other than what celebrity may have said something mildly dull that needs to be blown up to make you take a side. I’m guilty of it too so please don’t take this as a speech. Well it might be a speech, but you came here voluntarily so read it or beat it. I’m not here to make you like me. Just to raise some talking points. I’m a tall dude by most people’s standards that lives outside of NYC and works off of Wall Street. I bring this up because recently, I’ve been made out to be the enemy. I guess I’m the establishment since I wear a suit to work. I’m the bad guy since I think our President should unify our country rather than trying to pick sides. What happened to leading by example? Kicking and stomping your feet because the other side won’t approve your policies for fear of the financial fallout from more blank checks in a failing economy may actually help us get out of the funk. Whatever side of the political fence you fall on, we need to change the way we are doing business. For the record, I am fiscally conservative and socially liberal, an independent label has been applied to my set of beliefs. My rant ends here with a final message. Just do some independent thinking. Get rid of the bs someone tells you or what someone heard. Pay attention to the facts and what’s going on around you. It is sometimes a lot better than just tuning in.

Thanks for reading,
SGM

And we’re back

“It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you.”  courtesy of Rakim.

I write to the readers of this blog with a heavy heart.  I’ve done all I could to block it out, but it comes in without warning.  It comes in with a purpose.  It comes in de face.

Not like that for all you perverts out there.  I have been doing all I can to avoid writing but it needs to come out.  I am conflicted by the pain that causes this insomnia.  My friends, family and fellow Americans, I too was affected by that day.  From the “no shit” department, I wish it never happened.  This is some of my story.

My parents had just celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary the day before that sunny Tuesday.  Shout out to them both, 45 years ago now and still going strong.  In the interest of full disclosure, my father is a proud member of the USMC and is the most loyal, honorable and great family man I know.  He was expert rifle classification during his active duty and prior to that day, used those skills several times to his advantage.  He protects his family, loves us with all he’s got, and is part of the reason why I love the New York Yankees as much as I do.  The guy is so loyal, he made sure his son looked like Derek S. Jeter.  Nice shooting on that day too pops.  Hey, from my perspective, it’s better than looking like Nomar.

“Meat” as he has later been known, was married on September 10th, 1966 to my beautiful mother.  They had their first child when they were in their early twenties.  She came to be known as a JAP, but before that she was JAM.   Six years and two months later, I was born.  I came out screaming my fool head off, and some might say, haven’t stopped since.  I was a colicky baby that announced his “presence with authority.”  For those keeping score, the nickname “Meat” and the quote “presence with authority” both come from the movie Bull Durham.  Check it out.  It’s on my all-time classic list.

“The Golden Child” came up next, nearly an identical 6 years later.  This was the start of the time when I saw those sharpshooting skills first hand.  My dad was a supervisor at a NYC airport at the time.  It was August of 1981 and SEM, his third child under the age of twelve, was about to be born.  August of 1981 was a monumental time in the history of our country from my households perspective.  My dad, ever the card player, was entrenched in the highest stakes poker game he played in some time.  He was about to either call President Reagan’s bluff, or live to fight another day.  He chose to fight another day solely to help his family get the best chance possible to live the life he never had growing up.  Are you starting to understand the honor I mentioned earlier?  No?  Okay, well here is some proof.

I was about to turn six years old.  You’ll have to forgive me if the facts are a bit off but I was still learning how to count.  Here is how I “mis-remember” it.  It is August 3, 1981 and my mom is about to go into labor, again.  It was judgement day for air traffic controllers.  Go on strike and get fired or keep your job.  The President was the chips leader and had the upper hand.  Kenny Rodgers said it best, “you gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em”.   My dad went to work.  He faced angry co-workers to put it mildly and knew the shitstorm he was walking into, but he made a commitment to his family and was going to keep it.  Some co-worker(s) did not take too kindly to my dad’s decision.  He committed a “drive-by” before that term came to be popular.  The co-worker drove past our home and fired.  The bullet entered the living room bay window inches from my head as I sat on the couch.  From my dad’s point of view, the Muller’s were under attack and it was go time.  My dad ran and got his rifle.  The car circled back and came back for a better look but before he could get a second shot off my dad was on the front lawn taking aim.  I can only imagine what the driver and shooter was thinking as he saw my dad come flying out the front door.  After seeing my dad mad once or twice, I have a good idea of the terminology in play.  The shots must have rang out so loudly in that quiet neighborhood.  When my dad’s mission was complete, he phoned 911 and alerted them of the make, model and color of the car they were looking for along with the license plate number.  He also mentioned that said car may have a hole in the passenger side panel along with a tail light infraction.  If he wanted, he probably could have told them the name of the person, when they last shaved, and what their favorite color was, but he chose not to.  Who knows what would have become of our family dynamic if my dad let his emotions get the better of him and the results of that night were different.  My dad never tells that story although it is my favorite.  I later interviewed him for a 9th grade English paper for Ms. Rickerby’s class on his military experience and this conversation is one of the most vivid I remember to this day.

After putting in nearly 40 years with the FAA, my dad retired.  He handed in his paperwork on September 10, 2000.  It was he and his wife’s 34th wedding anniversary.  They were retiring on a Lake and going back to the state where they fell in love, bliss.  What, you thought I was going to say New Jersey?  Come on babaganoosh, you should know me better than that.

You know what happened next and I hesitate in retelling my side out of respect for those that lost much more than I.  But Irish Catholic guilt be damned.  It’s after  4am and I am an insomniac with cold feet.  My dad had worked with many of the men who were at the controls on that fateful day.  I had gone to school with folks that passed away.  I played baseball with one growing up and he could not be more top of mind as I write this, watch the games and play them on the field.  I can remember running wind sprints with him like it was yesterday.  I can remember seeing his fiancée on TV when I got home after not going to my appointment in Crystal City near the Pentagon.  The same fiancée whose family took me in during the summer of ’87 when my sister was being read her last rights and I was looking for an escape provided by Donnie Baseball’s home run streak.  Ten years ago, I would walk away from the game.  I knew when I was done.  It was when folks in HazMat suits did anthrax sweeps right in front of me in the buildings I was working in within our Nations Capital.  It was ten years ago and a job just ain’t worth that much to me.  It’s a decision I wish I never had to make, but “you gotta know when to hold ’em…”

My hope is that when you see a service person in uniform, thank them.  You may get the response I did today when Marine Mike said, “thanks for paying my salary”.  You may get a hug, a kiss, or a husband, father, mother or wife out of it.  This post was inspired by my commute to work last week.  I was on the ferry to NYC and passing Chelsea Piers.  It was approximately 8:45 in the morning as the USS NY approached.  The ferry was packed and I lost it.  Openly weeping and in part remembering the innocence lost that day.

Thank you for reading,

SGM

  

This sums it up

I go way back with this team.  My mom and I used to watch Jets games together while my dad was at work.  She loved Joe Namath.  Go figure.  I grew up on Richard Todd, Freeman McNeil and Johnny Hector jumping over the pile for the TD.  Al Toon, Wesley Walker and Mickey Shuler catching passes while the NY Sack Exchange did their thing.  Fast forward to now.  Fast forward through all the agonizing losses, terrible injuries and pain this team has caused over the years.  Now, they’re the team that is playing for the AFC Championship for the second year in a row.  Now they have a chance to make the Super Bowl.  It is not like 1998 when they had to go into Denver against the eventual back-to-back champ Broncos with T.D. and some Elway guy.  Last year, they had a chance, but Peyton triumphed in the second half.  Something changed that day though.  For the first time ever though, I was happily SURPRISED by the team.  I had never had this team exceed my expectations in my life and they did that day. 

Beating Peyton in Indy in the final minute two weeks ago?  WOW!  Sweet revenge.  Even with Peyton missing many of his weapons, it’s still Peyton at home.  That was it for me, great season guys.  You did enough.  No chance in New England.  I really was praying throughout the game, “just don’t get embarrassed guys”.  Tom Brady got picked off in the 1st quarter.  Jets return it inside the 10 yard line.  Nick Folk missed a 30 yard field goal and they walked away with no points.  Oh no, here it comes.   But it didn’t.  The Jets took it to the Pats and won the game flat-out.  Brady looked confused and puzzled.  He was anticipating hits from the Gang Green D and the boys obliged.  He looked like Ken O’Brien back there!  Shocked doesn’t sum up how I felt after this game.  This kind of does http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJshw2Axsqc

I know the talking (see above) from this team gets to folks.  Trust me, it gets to me sometimes.  I know ESPN harps on the talk and portrays the Jets as the villains.  Good versus bad still gets ratings.  I know some people think a coach going out there and saying we expect to win is brash.  What would you like him to say?  Would you like a canned answer or for him to not answer the question honestly?  Would you like him to say, “I think we are going to lose this one!”  Come on.

For those that have played competitive sports, you know the value of confidence on the psyche.  Not even just sports, all walks of life.  Confidence helps.  All you need is the belief and you will go after that much harder.  Rex motivates his players through the media, much like another coach who has had far more success, Phil Jackson.  It works.  Ask Kobe.  I question the amount of talk from some players (Cromartie), but I cannot question the results.  Sometimes I see non-stories made into stories (Tony and Mike on PTI, Speculatecenter is notorious for it) and see how that brings in the common fan.  But don’t lose sight of why Rex does it.  Yogi Berra once said, “90% of the game is half mental” and it still holds true.  Players will use the “haters” non-belief and negativity to build the chip on their shoulder.  The “us against the world” mentality might be one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it still works.

Can it be?  The Jets have a chance to make the Super Bowl again?  And some people are picking them to win in Pitt?  I obviously hope it happens, but won’t know what to do with myself if they do.   Is it Sunday yet?

Enjoy the games, I know I will

SGM

Awesome

Awesome.  That’s the word that best sums up my demeanor from 6:30pm-7:30pm last evening.  You see, my beloved Maryland Terps choked away their 1st ACC game of the year to Boston College at about 6:30pm.  To make it worse, several of my friends went to Boston College.  As my buddy told me just last week, they finally have a coach at Boston College that teaches fundamentals.    That statement stuck in my head as I watched our team miss 3 free throws in a row in the final minute.  They are shooting roughly 55% as a team from the FREE throw line this year.  Yes, the ultimate fundamental shot is lacking for the Terps.  At least it is just 1 game of 30 or so on their college basketball slate. 

Then, around 7:30pm, the Jets game came to a merciful close.  After laughing at how poorly they were playing earlier in the game,  I thought, “just hurry up and get this over with” so I could get on with my sports-related misery.  Dinner didn’t taste as good last night.  My glass half-full mentality did made me think of my buddy who drives to and from Central VA to every home Jets game.  He sat in the rain for hours, then got home at roughly 2:30am Monday morning.  That’s dedication.  Or insanity.  Either way, it could always get worse.  Case-in-point is the next Gang Green opponent.  AT Pittsburgh.  Who said being a Jets fan is fun/easy? 

I’m looking forward to seeing my family this coming weekend as we all get together to celebrate Christmas.  I’ve been excited about it for weeks.  My two young nieces are great and it is so fun to see them live it up during Christmas.  They remind me of when I was a kid, when I didn’t care about the Terps or Jets.  Well, maybe the Jets.  The highlight of the weekend may be that I get to see my little sister who is flying in from Austin.  She will be there, complete with her new engagement ring, along with her fiancée.  It’s still weird to say.  I’m very excited for my little sister and soon to be brother-in-law.  Special shout out to the current Mr. Craig McKinney and soon to be Mrs. Shannon McKinney!  Too bad she couldn’t get a more Irish name…

Have a good week!

SGM

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