The Crack of the Bat

As the wind chill makes it feel like the 20s and below, it’s the glow of sunshine that reminds me of a sign of spring: pitchers Clearwater3and catchers report to Clearwater, Florida. The 2013 season rises anew with hopes of good health and lots of ‘Ws’ to cheer about.

Baseball is a fickle game; success comes down to the health of your best pitcher or slugger. Every team balances that hope against the odds. During the Phillies best year in decades, 2008, I went to spring training on vacation; my son got to be bat boy for a day; I got to announce the pre-game show and line up on Mother’s Day and then the amazing season that followed happened mainly because – nearly every key player was healthy. It was a dream come true. Boys and girls, including my Clearwater_20080325_47son,  grew up knowing the Phillies only as winners. It seems the struggles began after the last of the confetti was cleaned up from the World Series parade in 2008.

This year, the roster includes the key – but aging- players we’ve come to depend on: Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz. Already, we know Chooch is out for 25 games for the Adderall suspension. That leaves the team depending on Eric Kratz.

We know there are questions surrounding the health of Howard, Utley and Roy Halladay’s shoulder – not to mention Michael Stutes and his shoulder. While the warmth of Clearwater can be therapeutic, all that can be a waste when it comes to playing baseball in  Philadelphia in April.

Almost like a marriage, I am a Phillies fan in good times and bad. Just like a marriage, you enjoy the game more when things are going your way – but it’s a joy to see the boys of summer back in action. Spring is coming here in the cold north – but summer begins today in Clearwater. Go Phils!

The Loon are Calling

View from the Moultonborough vacation house

 

It has been a long while since I’ve posted a blog. And that’s really a good thing. My business is going well; my family life has been full and busy and I’ve been around friends more often in work and play. I suppose the major delay in writing again has been hip surgery. That has been a big change in my life over the past nearly seven months or so.

Our wonderful weekend trip to San Francisco in January put me over the top when it came to the pain I was experiencing in my right hip. Doctors advise that when your pain becomes so intense that you can’t get through your everyday activities, then it’s time to do something about that pain. In February, I went literally crying to Doug telling him I was going to do something about my hip pain. He barely knew I had any problem. No one knew. I really lived with the pain day-to-day for several years until it got so bad, I could not sleep at night or walk stairs without intense pain.

Fast forward to May 9th for hip surgery at Rothman Institute. While I experienced major surgery and had a difficult time wrapping my head around that, the pain I had for so long was gone immediately. Since I had continued going to the gym leading to surgery – no matter how painful – this helped my physical therapy in many ways. I cannot imagine what it would be like to not be on board with exercise and strengthening and then have a body part replaced. I was never on a walker as most hip replacement patients are for as long as a week; I was on crutches for two days and a cane for a week. I was done with physical therapy after about eight visits and continued all of the prescribed exercises for weeks on my own. I continue to go to the gym three times a week and am about 95% of where I want to be. The remaining 5% is the healing of the nerves in my upper right leg which remain numb. It’s still a little sore around the incision which I discovered last weekend when I batted a fly off my by slapping my leg. OUCH!  So, I’m still careful not to bump into things. The incision itself  is healing nicely.

With that major change behind me (literally), I was back to work for the summer months while Adam began his position as a first year aid teaching archery at Camp Robin Hood. As usual, the summer has been a growing experience for him. It’s great to see him happy and enjoying the transition from camper to staff member and doing well. As usual, the summer has flown by. Doug and I had our summer of dates that included trips to Toronto to see the Phillies; a weekend and a day trip in the Chesapeake, and day trips to Brigantine, Barnegat Bay and of course, the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

But what we all work for is vacation. We are fortunate to be able to adjust our business calendars to have a long vacation this year back in the land that we love so much: New Hampshire. We’ll be spending time with my family, then Doug’s, as well as Adam’s friend, Andrew joining us along with my friend, Donna.

What is it about vacation that makes the few days leading to vacation so incredibly stressful. Not that I have as much stress as I used to in broadcasting, but the “to do” list is crazy. All week there have been so many tasks and chores to do; clients all of a sudden need your help and advice on something or other (no worries..that’s a good problem to have) and I just KNOW I have forgotten to do something critical!

Now, I breathe deeply knowing the fresh, New Hampshire air and the beautiful lakefront house is just a couple of days away. The solitary call of the loon will no longer be a memory – I’ll hear that sound at mornings and at dusk; we’ll visit “S’More” Island once again; we’ll enjoy family and friends. I’ll be writing lakeside to chronicle yet another bucolic respite in the Granite State.

 

 

 

 

Field of Dreams

Adam enjoys opening day vs. Astros

There are little baseball lovers out there who know nothing of the pain and suffering of long-time Phillies fans. These 10 and under children see our boys of summer as champions. They have scratched and clawed; won a World Series and NL East titles. They’ve been going to the ballgames with their parents and grandparents only since Citizens Bank Park has been around. They never had the joy of climbing into  the 63,000-seat Veterans Stadium with maybe 20,000 fans echoing off the concrete that molded the stadium.

No, these young ones are so incredibly lucky. They sit in an outstanding ballpark with their families and friends. They cheer every player – the starting rotation; the “big guy;” Raaauuulll; Chooch; and now even the fill ins for Utley – Valdez and Martinez. The ballpark food is terrific (if

Opening day F-15 flyover using biodiesel fuel

still too expensive). There are healthy choices so you don’t leave the ballpark feeling as though you need to de-tox. (I enjoyed a tasty turkey burger on whole-grain bun with salsa & guacamole.)

Here’s the thing: While the Phils pulled out a 9th inning win in game one over Houston, then two decisive wins to sweep the opening series, we are going to have some tough days; NO doubt about it. Will we see the sports writers and sports-talk loudmouths go into their see- I-told-you-they’d-screw-up mode or will cooler heads prevail realizing that 162 games ebbs and flows; injuries happen, then heal; players are traded and managers sometimes mess up?

Stretching before the first pitch

For me, going to the ballpark is a vacation. This is my field of dreams – the place where  the day’s work and frustrations, the trials and tribulations of life, are set aside. I cheer the great plays; watch the scores from the other games underway; marvel in that new jumbotron; wonder HOW the umpire couldn’t call that slider a strike – then cheer a great call on a Jimmy Rollins steal to second.

It would be great to see more loyal fans than those fair-weather fans who seem to enjoy pouncing on the Phils when they’re down. It would be wonderful to get through a season without more injuries that are already sidelining Chase Utley, Brad Lidge and Domonic Brown. But oh, what we have to look forward to: 159 more games – yes, some losses, yes, some nail-biters, yes, some winning and losing streaks. But, stick with them; revel in the sport that starts on a snowy, cold day and ends in the cool of autumn. Whether you are watching from the comfort of your favorite chair, listening to the radio while you wash the car or are lucky enough to be sitting with 45,000 other fans, this is our game, our team our pride.

Go Phils!

The Best Sound Bites

Summer is traditionally a slow news period. Sure, there are the typical flash thunderstorms that wreak havoc in neighborhoods causing unfortunate damage and injuries, but there have been so many times when producers and editors end up scratching their heads as they ponder the old adage: when in doubt, lead with the weather.

This summer has been dominated by the BP spill cleanup and the fall out for the gulf region as well as the corporate world and the government. Locally in Philadelphia, corruption and sports always top people’s minds and two sound bites have occurred in the past 24 hours that warrant some notice.

Three police officers found themselves at a routine tripped alarm call near Pat’s Cafe in lower northeast Philadelphia’s Frankford neighborhood. Locals recall that the taproom was the site of  the killing of Officer Gary Skerski during a robbery in 2006. This week, officers were called to Pat’s when an alarm at a neighboring business went off in the middle of the night. Pat’s was closed at the time, but apparently a door at Pat’s and the safe were open. While two uniformed officers were doing the right thing at Pat’s and trying to track down the owner (all caught on surveillance tape), the third officer helped himself to $825 in the safe (also caught on videotape).

At a news conference four days after the corrupt act, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey help a news conference where he announced the cop with sticky fingers would be suspended with intent to dismiss in 30 days. It was during this news conference, Ramsey had one of the greatest sound bites I have ever heard:

“The police badge is a symbol of public trust and authority; it’s meant to cover your chest – not your butt.”

Outstanding! You will see and hear that bite all over the local news. Whether Ramsey came up with that nugget on his own or his crack PR staff word-smithed it, doesn’t matter. It’s short, sweet and is outrageously effective in getting the point across: Ramsey and the department won’t tolerate corrupt  cops.

The other great sound bite came from the just-traded Phillies pitcher J.A. Happ. He was the lead player traded by the Phillies in the deal with the Astros to get pitching ace Roy Oswalt. Happ had an emotional afternoon Thursday, saying goodbye to the teammates he won a World Series with and the 2009 National League East Championship (quite a resume for this young pitcher who still has much growing to do). In his post-trade news conference, he showed superb class and smarts as he said, “Baseball doesn’t wait for anybody. I have to turn the page.”

These are the type of sound bites that you can’t make up. But either through keen reporter questions and having a conversation with the newsmaker rather than worrying about getting good sound bites, these sound bites happen naturally.

The Crack of the Bat

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The sound of the bat connecting with a home run ball is like no other. The POP is clear and definitive; the ball is saying, “You did the work, now I’m flying OUTTA HERE!” Ryan Howard connected for a two run blast to the opposite field during the exhibition game opening the 2010 season at Citizens Bank Park. The ball sailed high and long landing well into the crowd in section 144.

Up until that home run, we saw Placido Polanco (welcome back!) slam a double to center. Jimmy Rollins started the game with a double. Later, Kyle Kendrick (getting his chance to start during the season) slammed a double to left shocking Pittsburgh.  Oh my, it’s time for Phillies baseball. Our section buddies in 134, Janet, Roger, John, Betsy and a few others were all like kids at their very first game. Being back at the ballpark after such a rough winter with snow up to our ears, is so rejuvenating. My son and I cheered every hit, reveled in strikeouts, got mildly annoyed when Cole Hamels lost his mojo for a moment and gave up three runs on five hits. No matter – it’s a 162 game season – 81 games at home; I’ll be there for about 15 of them and watching or listening to most of the other games.

After the last two seasons, Phillies baseball has brought out the best in the sport when it comes to family and friends. Seeing dads and young sons sitting together with their gloves ready to catch that wayward foul and moms dressing their new babies in teeny-tiny Phillies outfits and watching the seniors who’ve been coming to games since before Veterans Stadium, 43,000 + people will gather for 81 games at the ballpark; we’ll win – we’ll lose. But just like that unmistakable sound that home run ball makes coming off the bat, people will revel in another Phillies season.

“Field of Dreams” –

Ray, people will come, Ray… They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game, and it’ll be as if they’d dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they’ll have to brush them away from their faces..The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Ohhhhhhhh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.

Finding the Lead

We were buried in snow. That’s my excuse for disappearing from the blogosphere for a while. Really, my mind has been a jumble of topics, some of which I’ll recap. First, we’re much closer to opening day. Baseball, I mean. I snagged two tickets to the Phillies home opener April 12 which my son has been longing for, so I obliged. I just hope we don’t have a resurgence of winter and we’re sitting in our ballpark seats with blankets, hats, scarves, gloves and the like and end up forking out big bucks for a couple of cups of hot chocolate.

As I watched the first two televised Grapefruit League games from Clearwater and Kissimmee, FL, I couldn’t help but wonder how the final lineup will be cemented in the next few weeks. One of the Atlanta Braves commentators during last night’s game commented that the Phillies lineup right now is so solid, that if a player has a shirt number in the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s, they could be stuck in the Phillies minor league system for a long time. One of those guys batting last night looked younger than the ball boy – or is that just me seeing time march on?

With spring fast approaching, it’s been terrific to be outside with just a light jacket. I gave the interior of my car a fabulous cleaning the other day, but had to go to the neighborhood car wash to clean the exterior. My husband is sure (and I agree) that turning on the hose faucets would ensure a deep freeze followed by the chance of a bursting pipe. I do love washing my car in the driveway with the portable radio tuned to Phillies baseball. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s sort of like when I’m at the gym. I absolutely have to have something on the TV when I’m doing cardio. These days I’ll watch the Today Show for a while, then flip to Bravo where episodes of The West Wing run from 8-9 a.m. Before I know it, 50 minutes have ticked by as I sweated on the elliptical.

Finally, my son and his room have been bothering me. You can tell me until the cows come home that it’s normal for a 15-year-old to shove things under his bed (including his one and only dress shirt) and continually put all the stuff he should put away on the other side of his bed (not easily seen from the hallway). But I’ll never understand why at some point, the mood doesn’t strike him to straighten things up. We have tried NOT saying anything; we’ve nagged him; we’ve fallen somewhere in the middle and still, he lives in what becomes a pig pen over time. Yuck. Sometimes I think we should remove all furniture and let him live on the carpet. I think he’d be OK with that.

Connections

You have to believe in networking. A long-planned meeting with the executive director of Sustainable Cherry Hill took place today at a local eatery. We got tons done in under 90 minutes. As we sat there at the table by the window, a woman who I’ve admired professionally for years walked by. She was coming in with her husband for some lunch. I approached the two of them and let her know I’d love to do work with her and her organization. She seemed enthusiastic about being in touch on that.

Just when you think no one is listening, I get a LinkedIn message from someone who I hoped to do business with. Film at 11.

I still have these ideas I need to formulate about connecting my business communications class and/or creating a new class.. to sustainable programs between Rutgers-Camden students and non-profits trying to make inroads in the city of Camden. More ideas forumlate each day. I’m starting to write them down.

Meantime, our Phillies ballpark seat buddies are connecting with us for dinner in Philly in February. It’ll be totally strange to see them in something other than a Phillies shirt, not to mention seeing them in winter.

OK, so this was a stream of conscience kind of writing day, but there’s lots to be done. Sleep is needed.

Good night.