Thursday, May 28, 2009

Give Us Us Free

Bruce Paine wrote me an email all about how I should really be writing about this Prop 8 nonsense in California.  For those who don't know, the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, which was on the ballot in November, and which defined marriage as between one man and one woman.  The same Supreme Court had called marriage an "inalienable civil right" one year ago, and legalized gay marriage in the process.  The 18,000 couples who were married between that ruling and the November election are still married, but the rest of us are currently out of luck.

Part of my hesitance to write thus far has been due to the fact that my friend Cate has been here visiting, and now Christine's aunt is visiting us, too.  So I've been hanging out, being the hostess and tour guide on the island.  But I also didn't know what to say after the ruling came down on Tuesday.  I was eating lunch in a cafe in Old San Juan, and Cate had her phone reloading the CNN website, while I went back and forth between and the Los Angeles NBC site. None of these sites were providing us with info quickly enough, so I went to the Los Angeles ABC website, and the breaking news at the top of the page read, "Supreme Court upholds Prop 8."  And that's when I ordered a drink.

Bruce Paine's email mentioned the legal rulings, and the way in which these things have been done in the past with other minority groups.  And I'm sure there are precedents to be cited and cases to be made.  I don't know a lot about the legal intricacies, and I suppose I could learn, but I just can't get over the fact that this has to be discussed at all.  I can't get past the human aspect of all of this, and the fact that it took thousands of motivated Mormons (and others) to convince voters that gays are evil and will molest children if allowed to marry.  I just can't get past all of these people spending so much time and money to work on something that doesn't affect their lives in the least.  I want them to look at these girls here...

...and tell me what it is that is so threatening about them being allowed to get married.  Is it my bandana?  Do you not like our sunglasses?  Do you see our lust for the private parts of children, as well as our desires to destroy heterosexual marriages the world over?  Please, TELL ME WHAT IT IS.

The whole thing seems so simple to me, and so obvious, that it's hard for me to think about anything other than the human angle.  I had a teacher who used to tell me all the time that man is inherently good, and I've always tried to believe that because I'm not interested in being a full-time pessimist.  But having people go on television and yell at me about how dangerous I am for society makes that faith in humanity all the more difficult to maintain.  And when they go to the polls en masse to actually take away my rights, that faith starts hanging off the window ledge by just one pinky finger.  It's almost gone, people.

But, I still have a little bit more to say, particularly about the specifics of the ruling.  This might actually be my favorite part:

Thus, except with respect to the designation of 'marriage,' any measure that treats individuals or couples differently on the basis of their sexual orientation continues to be constitutionally 'suspect' under the state equal protection clause and may be upheld only if the measure satisfies the very stringent strict-scrutiny standard of review that also applies to measures that discriminate on the basis of race, gender, or religion.

In other words, gay couples are exactly equal to everyone else, "except" in this one way.  The court will protect us in other ways, but not when it comes to marriage.  Last I checked, equal means completely equal.  No exceptions.  Someone once coined a term for what this is; "separate but equal" comes to mind.  Another part of the ruling fully solidifies the fact that the court is all about making sure things stay separate but equal:

All three branches of state government continue to have the eliminate the remaining important differences between marriage and domestic partnership, both in substance and perception. The measure puts one solution beyond reach by prohibiting the state from naming future same-sex unions 'marriages,' but it does not otherwise affect the state's obligation to enforce the equal protection clause by protecting the 'fundamental right...of same-sex couples to have their official family relationship accorded the same dignity, respect, and stature as that accorded to all other official recognized family relationships.' ... 

For the state to meet its obligations under the equal protection clause will now be more difficult, but the obligation remains.

Well, thanks for that.  "Let's get this separate but equal thing right, okay?  I mean, we've just made it really hard for gay people to get their fundamental rights, but you still have to do it, okay?"

Oh, and I'll tell you one of the most important differences between domestic partnerships and marriage.  On March 3, 2009, I was officially "domestic partnered" to Christine.  Guess when I'm allowed to be covered under her health insurance?  Not until September 3, 2009.  If she had married a man, he would have been covered as soon as the paperwork had been completed.  But I have to wait six months.  And the insurance company can do this because, as the representative told me when I called to bitch, "domestic partnership isn't real marriage."

But I digress.  The great part about the ruling is that the court seemingly has no problem calling a right inalienable one year, and then the very next year upholding a ballot measure that takes away that same right.  That seems odd, but I'm no constitutional scholar. 

Hey, but you know who is? One Mr. Barack Obama.  Guys, I don't know what to feel about our president right now.  I was all for him before the election, and I loved him, even while knowing that he didn't support gay marriages (just civil unions).  I guess I thought maybe he'd change his mind when he got into office.  He's all about change, right?  And, he claimed he was going to do something about the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, so he's at least somewhat supportive of the gays.

The CA Supreme Court had announced last week that it would be making this announcement on Tuesday at 10am Pacific time.  So an hour before, Obama decided to announce his pick of Sotomayor as his nomination to the Supreme Court.  Confirmation hearings don't start for at least a month, but it was that important for him to make sure the word was out there on Tuesday morning, shortly before 10am.  Seems a little weird, right?  Well, not when you consider what happened for the rest of the day.  Every time I logged on to, the huge front page story was Sotomayor.  It took effort to find the Prop 8 story, and a huge part of me believes that was exactly what Obama wanted.  He wanted to dominate the news cycle and avoid having to tell his base that he, too, believes in "separate but equal."

This is a little bit hard to deal with.  A while back, I posted a video featuring Lieutenant Dan Choi, who was discharged from the Army National Guard because he told The Rachel Maddow Show that he's gay.  People have circulated petitions, Choi has made televised appeals, and still there has been no word from Obama on what he will do about the policy.  The gay community is getting pretty riled up over this, as we should, since we helped elect this guy and now he's acting like a normal oily politician.

Last night, Obama spoke at a DNC fundraiser at the Beverly Hills Hilton.  As you probably know, there is a large gay population in the Los Angeles area, so there was a bit of a protest. Strangely, there isn't a lot of news coverage about this.  Why would there be?  The best I can find is this video on CNN about Lt. Choi, which has a few shots of the protest at the Hilton.  But that's it.  And no word from our president, either.  I can't quite give up on Obama, but I'm getting close.  And I don't think I'm the only one.

I posted this video once before, but I want to do it again.  

(bonus points if you know what the title of this post references)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

On Second Thought...

This was an update to the post below, but it got too long.

I've decided that I'm not irrational to feel offended. There is something legitimately wrong with a Major League Baseball team deciding that the way to cater to a female audience is to tell them that they don't know as much as their male counterparts.  

I realized that this program was part of a press release that I received from the Dodgers back on May 9, 2009.  I hadn't read it because I saw Mark Sweeney's name and could go no further. But I searched my email trash and found the release so that I could learn more about it, and now I really wish I had paid better attention before.  Turns out these broadcasts are part of "DodgersWIN (Women's Initiatives Network)," which, according to the release, is a "network of initiatives to bring women closer to the game and to bring the game closer to their lifestyles."

Ugh!  That is such horseshit!  If a woman doesn't like baseball, then she doesn't like baseball. Same goes for men.  Rick Reilly thinks baseball is really boring, according to his latest column, so why don't the Dodgers focus on bringing the game closer to him and his lifestyle?  I have a real problem with this pandering to women as though they (we) are incapable of learning the game (if they don't already know it) through an "extra special" broadcast made just for them. The implication here is that all women are the same, so Jamie McCourt (who created this "DodgerWIN" thing) is sure to know exactly what we all need.  

Bruce Paine just left a comment on the other post, in which he tells me that it's not shocking that baseball would pander to women like this.  He's right, of course.  It shouldn't shock me, but it does.  I think it's just the overt way in which the Dodgers are saying, "Here, ladies, this little broadcast is for you" that freaks me out.  I can almost see Frank McCourt winking as he tells Jamie she's free to have her little side project.  And the fact that this is run by a woman and handled, in part, by a woman (Zelasko), makes it all the more shocking.  We're not dealing with subtle sexism here.  This is pat you on the ass, send you off to get the coffee while the men talk kind of sexism.

I told two other people about this tonight, both of them women, and before I could even finish my sentence, both of them were groaning.  One of them is my fiancé, who loves baseball.  The other is my friend Cate, who doesn't really care about the sport one way or another.  In theory, the Dodgers think they can win Cate over by having Jeanne Zelasko explain things in a sensitive matter that Cate's extra "X" chromosome will be sure to understand.  I will tell you right now that Cate (and many, many others like her) will not be won over by such a gesture.

What do the rest of my (predominantly male) readers think?  I'm unlikely to agree with you if you think I'm overreacting, but I'd like to hear what you have to say anyway.

Also, I Got My Bobblehead

I may be missing games, but I have my ways of getting what I need.  So I didn't miss out on Casey Blake Bobblehead Night, and here's the proof (thanks to my friends Jimmy and Faith for getting to the game and securing me one of these bad boys):  

I'm Offended, Even If That Offense Is Maybe Irrational

Dodgers to begin female-oriented broadcasts tonight

I found this today at SI's Power Rankings, where they say the broadcasts are "aimed at increasing [the Dodgers'] female fan base."

Jeanne Zelasko, who will be the female half of the broadcasting, and therefore the dumb one, insists that they won't be "talking down" to the audience.  I find this hard to believe when the example she gives is that she and former Dodger Mark Sweeney (ugh!) will help to explain that saying someone is "batting in the six hole" means that they are batting sixth.  Like that's the most complicated inference to make.

Is there a reason they can't say these broadcasts are meant for the casual baseball fan?  Why does it have to be that women are the only ones who don't understand the more "complicated" aspects of this game?  I understand that there are women out there ("pink hats," some people call them) who don't really know what's going on with the game. But I've been to my fair share of baseball games, and I have heard a lot of inanity coming out of the mouths of plenty of male fans.  One guy was trying to tell someone that the Dodgers had "batted around" in the inning, and he said, "yeah, they went around the horn."  

I am not a casual baseball fan.  I am a rabid, maniacal, detail-oriented, obsessed fan.  There are plenty of us like this out there, both male and female.  Maybe the game of baseball, and the teams we love (this is about you, Dodgers, so I'm looking your direction), shouldn't condescend based on the gender of fans.

Look at this chick down here, guys, and tell me she needs a specific broadcast to help her understand this game (yes, it's me):

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Not Long Now

It's official.  On June 5, I will be winging my way back to the United States.  We are scheduled to arrive at LAX at 1:25 pm, and I really can't wait.  Even better is that we have tickets to the Phillies/Dodgers game on June 6, so we will only miss eight of my 27-game plan, instead of the nine that I had assumed we would be missing.  You're crazy if you think we didn't try to plan our return trip so that we would make it for that game.  God, I want to be back at Dodger Stadium.

You know why?  Because this team is something special, with or without Manny Ramirez.  Who said those Dodgers are dead without him?  I may still not know how I feel about the man and his drug use and the impact on baseball, but I know I love to watch the Dodgers play. And I know the other guys on the team are doing their best amidst shitty circumstances, and I intend to support them.  This team can win without Manny, and if he comes back and we win the West and the National League and go to the World Series, I'm going to ignore the "they won because they cheated" crap because it won't be true.  At least that's how I feel today.

But I digress.  A 12-5 win over the Marlins today in Miami, backed by seven innings of no-hit ball from Clayton Kershaw, made the Dodgers 4-2 on this road trip.  They're hitting well, they're pitching well (maybe with the exception of Guillermo Mota, who gave up a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth tonight), and they're winning outside of the NL West.  Series wins against the defending World Champion Phillies and the Florida Marlins will maybe begin to quiet those who claimed the Dodgers' success had relied entirely on the mediocre teams within the division.  

The real test comes now, as they head back to Dodger Stadium to face the red-hot Mets.  The Mets have been kind enough to beat the Giants the last few games, and we'd love it if they could do it again tonight before going into a little slump in Los Angeles.  Hell, the Mets go on to play the Red Sox after the Dodgers, so I would be quite pleased with a week-long slump from those other guys in New York.

As I was writing this, Franklin Gutierrez hit a single to drive in the winning run against the Red Sox.  So I don't want to talk about them today.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dodgers/Angels Tickets

Want to see the Angels play the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium later this month?  Well, you're in luck, because I have some tickets. These are the last few games that I will be missing thanks to this Puerto Rico trip, and I'd really like to sell the tickets so my money doesn't go to waste. Besides, the Dodgers need you to come out and root them on. 

My tickets for the first game of the series are up on eBay right now.  The others might end up on StubHub, but I haven't decided yet.  This is a big series, but I swear I'm not gouging you on the ticket price.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Reality Check

I didn't post yesterday, which means I broke my promise.  You couldn't have believed I would stick to it anyway, right?

This will be short.  Here's a shot of the peacock that lives in the garden at the hotel:

Sometimes when one has spent 50+ days on a tropical island, one can feel a little cut off from the "real world."  I'm not exactly far from civilization, but I'm not on my normal mainland schedule, so it's only natural that I feel detached.  And even though this Manny thing has hit me hard (I told Christine tonight that something like the Manny situation makes me think about what it would mean to give up baseball if the cheating thing gets to be too much for me to handle, and how I wouldn't really know who I am without that part of my personality; melodramatic, certainly, but still true), I know it would be worse if I were in L.A. right now. After all, I'm not looking at newspapers or listening to sports radio down here.  Yes, I'm on the internet and all that, but it just feels far away.  People have wanted to talk about it with me, and I implore them to leave me alone because I don't know what else I can say.

But then, on my way back to my room tonight after a delicious dinner, I saw this, and it all came crashing back:

The Dodgers play on ESPN on Wednesday night.  I might have to mute it a few times because I know they will only be talking about Manny.  How depressing.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Friday, May 08, 2009

So It's the Next Day...

...and I still don't know where I stand on this whole Manny Ramirez thing.  Here's what you need to know as you read this: what you're dealing with here is a person without a solid opinion. I've become bipolar in the last 30 hours or so, fluctuating wildly between outright anger toward Ramirez and sympathy for him because this could truly have been a mistake. There are those out there who immediately jumped to a side of the argument and have stuck there, and I really don't know how anyone can do that. This is complicated, and as a fan, it hurts me, it makes me angry, and it confuses me.  So how can I say that I'm so sure one way or the other about my opinion on the issue?  I don't mind admitting that I'm torn, and I don't mind hearing other people's thoughts because I hope they can help to shape my own.  

Here's what I know now: given everything we've seen in this baseball culture in the last few years, the likelihood of this being some sort of honest mistake is pretty low, wouldn't you agree?  And so I feel like I have to operate under the assumption that Manny Ramirez tried to cheat at baseball, and he got caught. Because if he had a real medical reason for taking this drug, MLB allows for that scenario. He could have gotten permission.  But he didn't.  An embarrassing medical condition is not an excuse, especially in the high-tension climate of steroid abuse and drug testing.  So, if you have a real problem, you tell the league, they allow you to take the drug and they don't blame you when it shows up in your pee.

Ramirez didn't tell the league anything.  And there is debate, as far as I can tell, as to what actual purpose this drug would have for a man in Ramirez's position, other than as an aid to recovery after steroid use.  That makes this whole "the doctor was using last year's list" excuse seem fishy because you don't know why this doctor would ever be describing this drug to someone like Manny Ramirez in the first place.

So now what?  Steve Sax over at Sons of Steve Garvey wrote a really great piece about what this means for Dodger fans, particularly as it relates to our view of Giant fans for the last decade or so.  That piece is good.  You should read it.  I did, but I still don't have any idea what I'm feeling or how I'm supposed to come to terms with what's going on with my team.

If Manny took the drugs for the worst possible reason, what am I supposed to do when he comes back?  Everyone keeps saying, "Oh, he took responsibility, so that should mean something."  But I'm telling you right now, that means nothing to me.  Maybe if this had been a few years ago, and we found out he had a positive test before the hammer started to come down.  But this is a recent test.  The rules have changed, the pee tests are more frequent, the punishments are more severe, and he still decided to do this.  Maybe he thought the rules wouldn't apply to him. Maybe he was naive enough to believe a doctor (bearing in mind that Rodriguez had his "cousin," and Bonds and Clemens had their "trainers," so Manny's "doctor" excuse doesn't hold a lot of water at this point).  Maybe he didn't care about being caught because he's already a multimillionaire.

Or maybe he really needed the drugs for "sexual performance" or whatever, and now he's just embarrassed because everyone knows.  But probably not.

The point is, it's not like the rules are vague anymore.  It's not like this is still a generally accepted thing in the clubhouse to which managers and commissioners and teammates turn their backs.  As ridiculous as it was for baseball to wait so long to do something about PEDs in the game, they finally have done it, so getting caught now is just plain stupid.  It's hard to fathom loving a man who would do something so asinine, especially a man with as much natural talent as can be found in just the pinky finger of Manny Ramirez.

The good news is, I have until July 3 to figure out how I will handle my response to his return. The Dodgers themselves handled it well in the first inning of last night's game against the Nationals, scoring six runs.  Four of those came off of Matt Kemp's grand slam.  But then the Nationals' starter settled down, and after Wolf left the game, the Dodgers' bullpen fell apart. That had nothing to do with Manny, obviously, because the team still scored nine runs, but Dodger fans were just praying we could get this win so that we could say, "See?  This team will be fine."  And it's likely the team will still be fine.  But you could feel last night that we needed to shut up the national media, because they would see a bullpen meltdown and claim it had something to do with a #3 hitter's absence.  And they did just that.  Even the Dodgers' own website had this as the headline for the game:

The win was not to be, and the home streak was broken.  And now the Giants come to town. Winning against them would mean something, and not just in the standings.  I don't know what I will do for (or toward) Manny Ramirez when he comes back.  But I do know that right now, there are 25 guys still playing in Dodger Blue.  This team was not one man, so for now, they need me (and the rest of you) to cheer like you always would, to show up and pray for runs and strikeouts and homers and foul balls landing in your lap, just like nothing has changed.

And as for Manny, well, we'll just cross that bridge when we come to it.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Why Didn't I Think of This?

Bill Simmons has a post up right now that is really breaking my heart.  All day, since the news came out about Manny Ramirez's suspension, I have been focusing on the Dodgers and what they are going to do from here.  I have been dealing with feeling embarrassed that this is happening to my team, and guilty as though I have done something wrong.  And I made a few comments at Sons of Steve Garvey about how the Red Sox fans would understandably have a lot to say on this matter.

But I didn't think about what this news might mean for the World Series the Red Sox won with Ramirez.  Particularly the one in 2004, the one that changed our lives forever, that made it possible for us to, as Simmons said, "die in peace."  Sure, there have been rumors forever about the guys on that team (and many others), but like I said earlier, those were always unproved, and could therefore be ignored.  Ramirez didn't fail any other tests as far as we know, but now this is out there, and it puts a cloud over everything.  This is real.  And it hurts more than it should, considering this is just a damn game.

The Perspective

This was originally part of the post below, but I decided it needed to have its own post, just to make sure you guys didn't overlook it.  So, here you go.

I was feeling sick as hell over all of this Ramirez stuff, and then two things happened that helped me gain a little perspective.

First, Jerry Remy, the Red Sox color commentator, has been out sick lately. There was never really any word as to what his ailment was, and I had started to worry that things were more serious than NESN and other media reports were indicating. Today, Out in Center Field posted this:
In the moments leading up to tonight's matchup against the Indians at Fenway, Jerry Remy and NESN released the news that the lingering illness that's kept Remy out of the broadcast booth off and on since March is the aftereffects of surgery he had in the offseason to combat lung cancer.

I love Jerry Remy; he's a great broadcaster. I hope he's doing well and that he'll be back in the booth by the time I get home and get to watch NESN broadcasts again. Get well soon, Remy!

Something that hits even closer to home for me is a report from The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. Great news keeps coming from states like Iowa, Vermont, New York, Maine, all about the good guys winning the fight for gay marriage. At the same time, the California Supreme Court is expected to rule any day on Prop 8, and I don't think anyone believes it will be a good outcome. And then this, from Maddow:

God, I don't know where to begin with that. This policy from the military is sickening, and there is absolutely no justification for it. Period. Several years ago, I was applying to Officer Training School with the Air Force and Officer Candidate School for the Navy. I was going to be a pilot, because I had been dumb and not gone to the Air Force Academy when I had the chance. I took some tests, and though it turned out I have some depth perception problems that would prevent me from being a pilot, the Air Force was still happy about having me become an officer. But at the last minute, I pulled my name out of the running because I just wasn't interested in lying about who I am. This Lieutenant Choi went to West Point, he served his country in Iraq, and then he suddenly became unfit for duty when the military found out that he likes boys. I can't imagine what it's like to be gay and have to hide in the military; these people are brave, and perhaps even braver when they decide to stand up for themselves and tell the truth.

Choi's firing says awful things about what matters most to our country, particularly those who identify as right wingers. They love the troops, and love their country, and want us all to support the troops who would defend this country to the end. That is, of course, unless one of those troops is gay. Then he's not fit to take a bullet in the name of freedom because he'll obviously be too busy thinking about taking it from some hottie in his platoon in the trenches. Lieutenant Choi is not a millionaire who gets paid to play a game for a living. In the big scheme of things, his job loss is much more shocking and important than that of Manny Ramirez.

Et Tu?

Right now, has the Manny Ramirez suspension as its number one, front page story, linking to the Sports Illustrated synopsis of this fairly shocking news. After I learned about it this morning, I literally felt as though someone had punched me in the stomach. Christine told me she felt guilty, even though she hadn't done anything wrong, and I think that sort of sums up the way I felt, too.

It's been easy to laugh at Alex Rodriguez's troubles with steroid allegations, since he's a Yankee and I'm a known Yankee hater. Plus, he's just an unlikable kind of guy. Same goes for, say, Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds. The rumors have always been out there about players I've liked (Nomar, for example), but they've never come to full fruition, so it's been possible to pretend they don't exist. But now this is hitting as close as possible to home, and I've actually got to face it.

First, there's the trouble with not really knowing how I feel about the steroid issue to begin with. A couple of years ago, I was ready to dismiss any player who was ever accused, ready to completely write him off as a cheater. But being a blogger has opened me up to other points of view, and while I'm unwilling to say that I think it's okay to use steroids, a bigger part of me now has a hard time seeing it as such a big deal. These are multimillionaires who are expected to perform at superhuman levels; it's not out of the question to assume that they might feel compelled to improve themselves through whatever means necessary. This doesn't mean that I think it's right, but rather that I can at least try to understand the impetus.

On the other hand, this is just a game. And the idea that anyone would put crap into his body just to hit a ball a little further is something outside of my level of comprehension. This is particularly true considering we're dealing with professional athletes whose bodies are their livelihood, and yet they seem perfectly willing to risk that livelihood for the short-term glory. I am not an athlete. I do not understand the pressure, and I will not pretend that I ever could. But I like being healthy and alive, and if there's a chance a steroid or other PED could jeopardize that, I wouldn't want any part of it.

Maybe I'm contradicting myself here. I don't know. I've resolved myself in the last year or so to focus on the future--if a guy is stupid enough to still fail a drug test now that MLB has finally cracked down, then he deserves whatever punishment he gets. We can't change the past, and there is no fair way to punish the players who we might assume were using before the policy was officially implemented. And even now, there seem to be questions about the way MLB handles the current policy. J.C. Romero, while pitching with the Phillies, apparently took a mislabeled supplement. He could prove what he took, but MLB still suspended him for 50 games.

Ramirez is essentially making the same sort of claim. He says a doctor prescribed him something without knowing that it was on the banned list, but once that something goes into Ramirez's body, he's responsible for it, and thus the suspension. This is flawed, to say the least. Intention needs to be considered here. The courts do it: to be charged with murder one, you have to show premeditation. Alex Rodriguez has been accused of deliberate, long-term abuse of a steroid. If this report from Yahoo! Sports is true (thanks to SoSG for the link), then Ramirez took something without intending to have it improve his bat speed or hand/eye coordination, or whatever. The punishments for these two can't be the same.

Now, if it turns out that Ramirez took an anabolic steroid, and knew he was doing it, then they should throw the book at him. And that hurts me to say, even though I'm also a Red Sox fan who realizes that Ramirez sort of screwed Boston last year. There will be more reports, accusations, and who knows what in the coming days. I'll try to report on the ones that seem legitimate, because god knows others will be out there trying to have their moment in the sun on this issue. For now, the most important thing is that the Dodgers are going to be without their biggest hitter until at least July 3. The attack from this team has been balanced lately--Manny certainly hasn't been carrying them--but this is still going to be a big blow. On the field it will hurt (since Juan Pierre is the replacement, though Xavier Paul has been called up from the minors), and off the field it's going to be tough for the players to deal with all the attention over this issue. We'll have to see how they come out tonight against the Nationals.

By the way, the Sons are all over this one, so check in with them for updates if I'm not giving them to you.

Holy Crap

Christine just called and said, "What's up with Manny?"  I haven't been to today, but I immediately headed over there, and found this waiting for me:

I feel ill.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Wish You Were Here

It's a rainy day here in San Juan, but the ocean is sometimes even more amazing to watch when it's cloudy and stormy outside. This hotel is unlike any other that I've stayed in before; I've stayed in resort style hotels, but only in the desert (in Scottsdale and Sedona, specifically), so this whole ocean view thing is sort of strange. Granted, I live in Los Angeles and I grew up (partially) in Florida, so it's not like large bodies of water are new to me. Still, it's been a while since I've spent this much time in such close proximity to the water. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've been to the beach in L.A. It's so close, but it always seems so far, you know? Plus--and I hate to disparage Los Angeles here, since I am very homesick at the moment--the beaches in our fair county aren't exactly awe-inspiring. I'm always going to be a white sand, Gulf of Mexico kind of girl, but the beaches down here in Puerto Rico are running a close second.

The Caribe Hilton seems to be big on birds. There's a cage in the open-air lobby that houses a couple of parrots or cockatoos, or something. I don't know what they are exactly, but they talk. I haven't paid much attention to what they say, though I did hear an "uh oh" the first day I was here. The cage for these birds is right next to the driveway and the valet station, so today I walked by and wondered if the birds have learned to call a cab. And then there are the peacocks. And swans. There's a "tropical garden" area, which my room sort of overlooks. There's a lot of foliage, and the birds wander around the area, and often make a lot of noise. Today I saw the male peacock with his feathers fully extended. I was indoors, thankfully, because that probably would have freaked me out if I had been right next to him. Birds kind of give me the creeps, and giant birds with crazy iridescent feathers take the cake.

The garden also has a pond, which is full of fish. But for some reason, they dye this pond green. Really, really dark green, so that you can only see the fish (barely) when they come to the surface for food. And the hotel has "fish feeding time" every night, which just doesn't make sense to me when they're going out of their way to make sure it's nearly impossible to see the fish one would feed. I can only assume they don't want to spend a lot of time cleaning the water, so the green dye keeps us from seeing lots of fish feces floating around or something.

The hotel boasts a small private beach, which I walked along with Christine and Jack (the pup, whose birthday was yesterday) on Saturday morning. Jack is not a fan of the water, but she was forced to at least be in it a little bit because we wanted to walk along the water's edge. So she dealt with it. There is a floating iceberg in the water that you can climb up (not inflated in the picture, I guess because of the weather). I don't know why, but I will give it a shot before I leave here. There is also a floating trampoline that looks like a lot of fun, and I will definitely be jumping on that, perhaps this weekend. There are hammocks near the beach, shaded by a bunch of palm trees, and I hear them calling my name. I wanted to head out there today, but they're probably wet and it's likely to rain again, so I'm waiting for a sunny day. There are also a few pools and plenty of places to lie on chairs and relax in the sun, of course.

This hotel claims to be the place where the piña colada was invented, and Christine thought the one she had on Saturday was pretty good (though I read reviews saying they make it from a mix, which is sort of lame), but the $13 price tag is a little extreme, if you ask me. We ate a little lunch at the pool, and Christine had a burger along with her drink, while I ate a chicken sandwich. My sandwich was fine--just a grilled chicken breast, probably about as good as I could get at a fast food place, without the grease. I believe it was $12.50, and it came with fries.

The burger was inedible. I didn't want to try it after Christine took one bite and that's it, and then asked them to take it off the bill. It's sort of the standard problem down here--decent meat is hard to come by. I'm surprised my chicken sandwich didn't gross me out, because a lot of the chicken has made me wonder. Good beef is nearly impossible to find. We ate at The Palm a couple of weeks ago, and that is a restaurant we love in Los Angeles. Great steak. I don't always advocate eating at chains when I'm in new places, and I have tried plenty of local Puerto Rican places, but sometimes you just want something familiar. It's too bad The Palm couldn't deliver. We split a New York Strip, and I'm still not entirely convinced that it was actually beef that we ate that night. Just not good at all. Luckily for us, the Morton's here at our hotel knows how to make an adequate steak. Too expensive for regular eating, but we've had fun with some friends the last two Friday nights, so I think that will become a tradition while we're here.

I forget that I have my new blog posts set up to appear on my Facebook page, mostly because no one ever comments on them or seems to notice they exist over there. But yesterday, after the post in which I mentioned why I'm down in Puerto Rico, my friend Sean noted that I probably should have mentioned that the movie Christine is working on, The Rum Diary, is a Hunter S. Thompson story. I haven't read the book yet, but Bruce Paine suggested it before he even knew the reason for my tropical relocation, and Christine says there are several copies lying around her office, so it should be next on my list. Oh, and one other thing: Aaron Eckhart is also in the movie, and I met him at a party our first weekend in town. We discussed our homophonic names, and he chatted with me about people who tell us we pronounce our names incorrectly (apparently you can pronounce "Erin" and "Aaron" in distinct ways, but neither of us understands how), and then I found out he's a Yankee fan. This was about two weeks before the season began, so I told him we could only be friends for a little while longer. He laughed, but I haven't spoken to the bastard since.*

I didn't mean to make this a review of the hotel, but I wanted you all to know what it's like down here, so this is what you get. Baseball is, of course, the most important thing on my mind, and I'm so annoyed that apparently does not like any internet signal in Puerto Rico. I thought it was just the bad internet that I had in my apartment, but even plugged into a hard line in the hotel, the signal is glitchy at best and nonexistent at worst. Last night I just gave in and listened to the radio broadcasts of the Sox/Yankees and Diamondbacks/Dodgers games, while keeping the MLB Gameday page open for reference. I'd like to actually see the games, but I'll just have to take what I can get for now.

The Dodgers won their twelfth consecutive home game against the Diamondbacks last night, 3-1, and tied the MLB record, set by the 1911 Tigers, for the best home start to a season. The 7-17 Nationals come to town tonight, and a win against them would give the Dodgers a new MLB record. We absolutely should beat the Nationals, but it's hard not to feel like the Dodgers will stumble, since the Nationals are only the second non-N.L. West team that the Dodgers will face this season. The first was the Astros, and the Dodgers dropped two of three. Kershaw should pitch well, so now we just have to see if the offense can get to Cabrera and score some runs.

The Sox are now 5-0 against the Yankees this season, with a win last night thanks to Jason Bay and some sneaky pitching from Beckett, who had to work around a lot of baserunners in his six innings of work. He scattered ten hits and a walk, struck out five, and gave up three runs, all of which came on a third inning homer from Johnny Damon. The Sox had scored four runs in the first, and those runs held up, though they added two runs in the eighth and one in the ninth to get a little breathing room. Joba Chamberlain pitched like a monster after the first inning hiccup, and ended up striking out twelve batters in 5.2 innings of work. He gave up only those four runs, but ended up with a loss in the game anyway. Which is awesome.

*Maybe this is because I haven't seen him since then, but still.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Trouble In Paradise

Saturday afternoon, I started to feel a little under the weather.  I thought it was just an allergy attack at first, but it soon became clear that I was experiencing what the experts would likely call the "common cold."  It's been a long time since I've been legitimately sick, so Sunday was no fun at all.  I started to feel a little bit better yesterday and early today, but this afternoon it seems the cold decided to take up residence in my chest.  No real cough, but just a general feeling of tightness.  Annoying.  I feel like a moron for coming to a tropical island and catching a cold that's been keeping me in bed, but I guess I should just be grateful it's not swine flu.

As for why I'm down here, to answer berkowit28's comment on my last post, it's all because of my fiancé.  She's working on a movie that's shooting down here, and so we get to spend our spring in "paradise."  I suppose if the basic information is on IMDB, I can at least tell you that it's a movie called Rum Diary, and it has Johnny Depp in it.  But that's about all I can give you.

I decided to finally catch up on this season of Lost, and I'm now four episodes into this season. I'm not a diehard fan of this show, and I actually think that it's unlikely to hold up in the next decade or so, but I guess for a guilty pleasure, it'll do.  I was a regular viewer of the show until a few episodes into season three, when they really seemed to lose their way.  I was convinced to give it another shot, and I'll admit that it improved toward the end of that season, and season four wasn't half bad.  My issue is that I just don't like most of the characters, and I often feel like the show is way too "meta" for my tastes--like it's too self-aware about its place in the sci-fi genre or something.  I don't know how to explain it beyond that.  I am torn about the time travel aspect of season five.  On the one hand, it's as likely an explanation of the island's mysteries as anything else; on the other hand, time travel is confusing.  So, basically, I try not to think about it too much.  If you're a viewer of this show, please keep in mind that I'm still six or seven episodes behind, so don't give anything away.

And, on to baseball.  Thanks to an adequate pitching performance from Eric Stults, and a nice outburst from the offense, the Dodgers won Monday night, and are now the owners of the record for the longest consecutive home winning streak in the National League.  A win tonight ties them for the MLB record, and also would make them the first team in the majors to reach 20 wins.

The Red Sox have a consecutive winning streak of their own going, since they have now won all four games they've played against the Yankees this season.  They made it a little interesting on Monday, after taking a 6-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth. Papelbon faced a one-out, two on situation, but got both Teixeira and Cano to end the game.  The game had started after a two-hour delay, but there were still plenty of obnoxious Yankee fans screaming like crazy, assuming they would win this, no problem. It is an understatement to say that it was nice seeing Cano swing and miss to send all those goons home unhappy.  Tonight, we see if Beckett can pitch like the Beckett we've known the last few years.  Lester figured it out last night, so maybe Beckett can be next

Monday, May 04, 2009

A Liar's Promise

I will be spending the next month or so of my life in this place. There are worse things.  Here is the view out my window:

I'll take a better picture soon, but that one is from the iPhone, so that should explain the quality.  That's the Atlantic Ocean, and between the garden area and the water is the San Geronimo Fort. Less appealing was the view that greeted me when I went to the front desk on Friday:

Before you ask, she is not naked.  She was wearing a thong.  But it still made my jaw drop, and I was absolutely shameless in snapping the photo.  It had to be done.  This is not something one sees every day, so it needed to be documented.  And also shared with the world.

Now, baseball.  The Dodgers have won all ten of their home games this season.  Of course they have.  What else would I expect when I buy a 27-game plan and then leave the country for at least the first nine games of the plan?  Granted, I only technically had tickets for three of the games in this record-setting ten-game run, but still.  I could have been a witness to at least part of it.  Instead, I sold one pair of tickets and gave the other two pairs away to friends.  It's been rough knowing that others are enjoying what I can only follow on (at best) or graphics on MLB Gameday or ESPN Gamecast.  I can't even really rely on Sportscenter, since I watched the first 40 minutes of this morning's broadcast, and the Dodgers weren't mentioned once. This, despite the fact that they're two wins away from tying the MLB record for consecutive home wins.  Something to be said for that east coast bias, I guess.  

As for the Red Sox, I'm happy they're out of Tampa Bay.  I can't discuss the series because analyzing it is depressing, but losing two of three down there is embarrassing, no matter what the Rays did last year.  Now the Sox head to the new Yankee Stadium for a two-game set.  On the one hand, I'm glad it'll be on ESPN because it means it'll be easy for me to watch; on the other hand, I do not give a rat's ass about the new Yankee Stadium, and I'm already over hearing the "this is Boston's first trip to the hallowed ground" crap.  So maybe I'll watch the beginning of the game on mute.  The Sox need to hammer Phil Hughes tonight, and they need Jon Lester to start pitching like we know he can.  It might not matter that it's a fancy new stadium, but beating the Yankees in that damn place sure would feel nice anyway.

In other news, there's this: I'm sick of not being a regular blogger.  I feel guilty even calling myself a blogger these days, and then I get emails from Josh Rawitch of the Dodgers about the "Second Annual Blogger Night at Dodger Stadium."  Remember the first one, and how awesome it was?  Well, I'll have to live on those memories because the second one is this week, and I obviously will not be able to make it.  I have a feeling it will be bigger and better than last year, so I'll have to rely on the boys over at Sons of Steve Garvey--and anyone else who might be there--to give me an adequate account.  I'm trying my best not to be bitter about missing it, but maybe it's my punishment for being such a terrible blogger for quite a while now.

The point is, I'm done with this nonsense of promising more posts, than not delivering.  So, I'm making a real vow, right here, right now.  I will write at least one post a day for the rest of this month, which should get me back into the swing of things for the rest of the baseball season, and beyond.  I'm thinking short term for now, which is why I can promise you only the month of May. I hope that will be enough to at least start to make up for my long absence.

Let me remind you that I have great tickets for each of the three games of the Angels/Dodgers series, which is May 22-24.  Please let me know if you're at all interested, because they will soon be on eBay.  I've given away two of my three pairs so far this season, so I need to sell these to make up for that.  Email me, leave a message in the comments, whatever.  Otherwise, you can bet I'll be posting the eBay link here when they go up for auction.

And, as always, here are the links to my Facebook albums, so you can see what I've been up to down here.  The two in this post are in those albums, so I apologize for the redundancy.