Tag Archives: baseball

A serving tray for pitchers (or fans of pitchers)

Remember that decoupage project I mentioned this past weekend?

It started out as this, an unfinished wood tray:


I painted the whole thing “Star Spangled Blue” and decoupaged a number of vintage Twins baseball cards into it. Here it is now, several coats of paint, glue, Modge Podge and sealer later:

finished trayIt’s not perfect by any means, but it’s one-of-a-kind. It’s a gift for a benefactor who is lending us his condo. In Florida. Where the Twins play spring training baseball.

Play ball!


This book is out in left field and over my head

My name is Monica, and I am a Chronological Reader. In this club, according to the Atlantic Wire, “you buy a book, you read it. … You might discard a book, but only if there is very good cause, and it will bring you a sense of deep unease, so you’ll probably pick it back up and finish it anyway.”

Despite this confession, I can. Not. Finish. Chad Harbach’s “The Art of Fielding.”

It’s crap.

Art of FieldingI picked it up because a friend recommended it, and it’s March, the season of spring training. I’m enduring a drip, drip, drippy rain that may turn to snow at any moment in northern Illinois instead of soaking in the sunshine with a beer while watching the Minnesota Twins practice baseball in Fort Myers, Fla. I thought a book about a baseball player might be a good antidote.


I tolerated the repeated references to another, apparently fictional book named “The Art of Fielding” by Aparicio Rodriguez. I managed a plethora of last names (baseball teams have nine players, you know, and that’s nine characters with nine first names and nine last names). I sighed heavily when the author illogically jumped scenes (wait a minute, did Henry ride with Schwartzy to the hospital or did he linger in the outfield feeling bad? I’m so confused).

Then Guert turns out to be not only gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but a 50-something-year-old guy crushing on a 20-something baseball player. Gross.

When Pella is introduced in Chapter 10, and the point of view switches from third person to first person, I quit.

I’m bitter about it, too.

See, I’m trying to read a book a week, and this dumb book halted my meager progress with a screech and a blotch of smoking rubber.

The New Yorker liked “The Art of Fielding,” so I must just be a dumb country bumpkin out here in the sticks, but I am not going to finish it.

I’m moving on.

To Tina Fey’s “Bossypants.”

Tomorrow begins today

The strangest email showed up from the Minnesota Twins in my In Box today. Here is part of the message:

Sometimes you get thrown out at the plate.

Sometimes you throw it over the first baseman’s head.

Sometimes you hit a long fly ball, only to see it get caught at the warning track.

That’s baseball.

It humbles you.

But there’s something else about baseball. Something great.

And that great thing is that tomorrow is a brand-new day. With a brand-new game. With brand-new at-bats.

Strike out one day, grab a 34 oz. piece of redemption, get back in the batter’s box, and whack it out of the park the next.

That’s baseball too.

And that’s our attitude.

Yes, we made errors and struck out.

But our tomorrow begins today.

I wish I cared about one of the teams in the playoffs because one of the best things about October is the World Series. But I just can’t get excited about any of them.

Still, the thought of a new at-bat in a new day with a new piece of redemption reminds me why I like baseball in the first place.

If you can wade through the rant against the White Sox, you’ll be rewarded with news you can use. Promise.

The mailbox will have to be fumigated after this unwelcome intrusion.

Look what I got in the mail today.


Part of my profile for this blog clearly states I root for the Minnesota Twins and any team playing against the White Sox. “The Ultimate White Sox Experience” for me would include a thorough butt-kicking of the Sox by the Twins, followed by a fireworks show celebrating the Twins division championship.

Alas, that’s not going to happen this year. But the last thing I need is the White Sox rubbing salt into the wound. Ouch. (I managed to catch the end of the Twins game on Tuesday when they beat the Indians in extra innings. In front of an almost empty stadium. It was that or Oprah Radio at that time of night. That’s the high point of Twins games lately.)

But I have recourse!

It’s a cool app called MailStop.

Pick up your cell phone and look for it now.

I’ll wait. It’s that cool. Go ahead.

It’s free. You really have no excuse.

Got it?

With this app, all you have to do is take a picture of the mailing portion of your junk mail, and MailStop — via Catalog Choice — will automatically notify the sender that you don’t want to receive their junk anymore!

Amazing, huh?

I downloaded it and set up an account a couple weeks ago in order to stop the increasing influx of baby-related mail addressed to my Beloved (he loves his adult children, but he doesn’t want any more of them!). Somehow last summer, Someone Who Knows got tipped off that my husband was [looking side to side for eavesdroppers] expecting. We started getting fliers from Best Baby Registry and magazine from Baby Talk. I wrote about this surprising and somewhat disturbing development here.

Let me emphasize: My husband is not pregnant.

And neither am I.

And we have no intention of taking that step.


So when I heard about MailStop, I seized on the opportunity to end the flow of car seat- and lactation-related mailings to my house.

And I got my first email today from Catalog Choice, a forwarded message from Carter’s, “the makers of clothing essentials for children”:

Thank you for contacting us about your mailing list information.  We’ve updated your record as you requested, but you may receive a few more emails/mailings from us until the change goes into effect.  If we can be of any further assistance, please let us know.  Thank you!

Is that a clever app or what? Less annoying junk mail. And all it takes is a few seconds to take a picture before you pitch it away.

I can hardly wait for the White Sox to send me a deferential email about removing me from their mailing list. Keep your smug winning record to yourself, thank you.

I hope the White Sox like what they got, whoever he is

Watching Francisco Liriano pitch is like living in a dysfunctional family.

As a fan of the Minnesota Twins, I never knew which Frankie was going to show up on the mound. The stellar strike-out pitcher I respected and appreciated? The hit-and-miss thrower who would get himself into a bases-loaded nightmare and then clean up everything with pinpoint accuracy and a shrug? Or the flaying mess that melted down in the first (or third or fifth) inning, making me wince and want to sneak quietly out the exit?

I was at the Metrodome watching him pitch when he got injured in 2006; eventually, he had Tommie John surgery. When he finally returned to the mound, he was never the same.

I always hoped for the young phenom but in recent years (and especially weeks), I didn’t know what to expect and I just prayed he performed well enough to be picked up by another team.

I couldn’t be happier for the despised Chicago White Sox, which now lay claim to the craziness and take on the Twins again this week. Liriano may actually pitch against his old team. That’ll be entertaining — either Liriano will hurl a perfect game against the Twins or he’ll walk in the winning run.

How White Sox general manager Kenny Williams thinks Liriano will be able to withstand the withering scrutiny of rabid Chicago fans, I don’t know. I suspect this trade will turn out more like Chuck Knoblauch, the impressive rookie second baseman with the Twins who couldn’t hack it with the Yankees and ended up in left field, than David Ortiz, the designated hitter who was mediocre with the Twins but turned into “Big Papi” with the Boston Red Sox.

Whatever happens, I’m glad the Twins dumped Liriano. I couldn’t take the unpredictability, and there’s no Al-Anon for fans of dysfunctional pitchers.

Baseball pitcher’s memoir flutters into one’s consciousness

While Oakland pounded away at the Twins last night, I read most of R.A. Dickey’s memoir; the baseball in the book was better than the baseball on the radio for this Twins fan.

R.A. Dickey is the Mets pitcher who throws mostly knuckleballs, a difficult pitch to master, at least for strikes, I learned in “Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball.” The knuckleball is not thrown for speed but for its erratic flight, which confounds hitters.

Among other teams, Dickey pitched briefly for the Minnesota Twins in 2009. I vaguely recall seeing him pitch during spring training that year.

He pitched in the All-Star Game last week, but until recently, he’s the sort of Major League Baseball player who can ride the subway to the stadium and not be recognized. I diverted from my summer reading list to check this one out electronically after the furor of his All-Star appearance.

His book is interesting for a baseball fan, of course, but his story has compelling value beyond his struggle to break into the major leagues. His mother is an alcoholic, he’s a survivor of sexual abuse and he’s a devoted Christian, all themes which play major roles in his story. As it turns out, he studied English literature in college and he’s a good storyteller (his memoir is written with newspaper reporter Wayne Coffey). I appreciated some of his hard-earned life philosophies, pertaining mostly to living mindfully and authentically, a daily struggle for me:

  • “Being here reminds me of one of the enduring challenges of living on this side of eternity: how to live fully in the pain of a moment as well as the joy of a moment.”
  • “Don’t repress your feelings. Be honest with your feelings. If you are present with them now, they’ aren’t going to come back later in much more pernicious form.”

I won’t tell you R.A. Dickey’s memoir is literary or lyrical, but it’s a great read, especially during the baseball season. Being a fan of memoirs and redemption stories anyway, this one satisfied me.

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack

So rife with advertising, Major League Baseball’s All-Star game was barely watchable.

There are the regular commercials, of course, and the ads on the backstop. The announcer’s lead-in ads are nothing new, but the picture-in-picture ad for the new “Ice Age” movie was more than I could take.

So I turned to Twitter. Ah, yes, I know, hardly a space with less advertising, but I heard the Sports Tax Man was worth following.

Ray Raiola was profiled on National Public Radio this morning. He’s an accountant — a “financial quarterback” — who advises big names on their sports contracts and dishes about sports from a money perspective.

Prince Fielder is being paid $125,000+ a day? Wow. It’s no wonder there’s advertising on every square inch of the All-Star game’s TV screen.