Saturday, October 8, 2011

Gratitude



Sometimes I find myself at a loss as to how The Org Kids ever put on an ounce of weight. The oldest one will sometimes go five nights in a row without eating a single morsel of food put before him on his dinner plate. The youngest has decided that it’s quite often more fun put a few bites in his mouth and then allow the partially masticated foodstuffs to tumble, saliva-soaked, back onto his plate. Delightful. At this rate they’ll be Ecksteinian, rather than Winfieldian.

I, on the other hand, don’t recall a time in my life when I didn’t love eating. As a younger man, I’d wear my appetite as a badge of honour, although I realized as I got older that it’s not a sustainable lifestyle if I wanted to, you know, survive until something close to retirement age.

Thanksgiving? Back in the day, Thanksgiving was my World Series. Time to leave it all on the field. Even now, I don’t play around. The Org Wife is pretty much the greatest cook in the world, so it’s no chore to load up plate after plate after plate of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and even the odd vegetable. It’s not quite as gluttonous as the old days, but it’s still respectable.

(If Thanksgiving is my World Series, then my Winter Meetings are those little turkey buns I make with the leftovers. Dinner roll, mayo, leftover cranberry sauce and stuffing, some nice chunks of dark meat, salt and pepper. Repeat until supplies are exhausted.)

I already know what’s going to happen this Thanksgiving. Here’s THE NARRATIVE™: An incredible meal will be prepared. We will provide the tiniest of tiny portions to The Org Kids. They will pick at those portions. I will exhort them, plead with them, to eat. The Org Wife will do the same. I’ll go get a second plateful. I’ll finish that before the Kids have eaten four bites of their meals between them. I’ll get angry that the Kids haven’t eaten. Everyone will leave the table. Then I’ll finish the Kids’ plates too.

Man, it’s gonna be so great.

Since Thanksgiving is ostensibly about, er, giving thanks, let’s do that, shall we? Here’s what I’m thankful for as we watch teams that are not the Toronto Blue Jays attempt to win the actual World Series.

Alex Anthopoulos

The Jays’ wunderkind general manager has barely made a misstep since taking the reins of the team from JP Ricciardi. But forget about the miracle moves that come out of nowhere, the aggressiveness in the draft and in international free agent signings. I’m thankful that my favourite baseball team has a GM who, at the very least, seems eager and excited to please fans like me. He’s always unfailingly positive and upbeat, despite facing perhaps the longest odds of success of any GM in the game. It’s not uncommon for men in his position, in any sport, to come across publicly as smug assholes. He doesn’t – even after he’s done swindling some poor sap like Tony Reagins.

Jerry Howarth and Alan Ashby

I’m not about to invoke Tao’s wrath by pissing and moaning about the eloquence and wit, or lack thereof, of your Tim McCarvers and Buck Martinezes. I also can’t claim to have spent a great deal of time listening to the radio broadcasts of many other teams, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a treat every single time to hear Jerry Howarth and Alan Ashby call a Jays game.

It’s remarkable how easy it is for Jerry and Alan to trade off from play-by-play to colour commentary and back after every couple of innings. It’s unconventional, yet the transition is seamless. If the broadcasters themselves were any less capable, I’m not sure it would work. I can’t think of another regular broadcasting duo that could do it. Tom Cheek would be proud, I think.

October baseball

FACT: Every sport is better in shitty weather. The Tuck Rule game from the 2002 NFL playoffs would’ve been just another referee’s screw-up that nobody remembered if it wasn’t being played in a blizzard. People like my dad still talk about the Ice Bowl from 1967. Hell, you can even get Americans to watch hockey if they play it outside on New Year’s Day.

It occurred to me last week how much I enjoy bad-weather baseball as The Org Wife and I drove past two teams playing what surely had to be a season-ending softball game on a chilly Ontario autumn afternoon. No midsummer tank tops or shorts to be seen, but long pants on everyone and even a toque or three dotted the outfield.

“Damn, that looks cold,” I said, before muttering, “Wish I was out there.”

It’s a mundane detail about playoff baseball, the weather is. But damned if it doesn’t make it just a little more gripping. I love seeing the odd puff of fog in front of a batter’s face as he exhales in anticipation of a pitch, or an infielder wearing one of those goofy headbands that cover their ears. Or a pitcher rounding the bases with a warm-up jacket on. Those things, plus the Blue Jays not playing, really make it feel like the post-season to me.

I’m thankful for a lot more than those things, but I’ve already committed the weekend to brining my turkey. If you know what I mean. Enjoy the long weekend.

6 comments:

gabriel said...

Wonderful post. Don't worry about the org kids: obviously great pedigree, very young on the development curve.

Darrell said...

Fantastic. You should do this for a living.

Ivan said...

Thank you for enlightening me " As a younger man, I’d wear my appetite as a badge of honour, although I realized as I got older that it’s not a sustainable lifestyle " This is how I currently think of my appetite...and it saddens me but perhaps it's best

Kevin Gray said...

Great reference to the Tuck Rule. That was the tipping point in the New England Patriots dynasty.

infieldfly.ca said...

You're 100% right about bad weather and how it makes sports better. I think, for me anyway, that it's got something to do with it making the game seem more important. Any schmuck can go toss a ball around in nice weather, but to do it in the cold, you've really got to want it.

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