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Welp. Here we are. My favorite time of year. It’s October 11, 2018, and the NLCS is kicking off tomorrow with the Los Angeles Dodgers at Milwaukee Brewers. The ALCS will be putting on its own show with the Boston Red Sox and 2017 Champion Houston Astros.

The purpose of this blog entry is to shake off a few lingering thoughts on 2018’s iteration of my home team for historical record.

Dodgers are my MLB team. I revere the history. I was in T-ball during the Lopes/Russell/Baker/Garvey/Cey/Smith days, and am lucky enough to have those quintessentially American childhood memories of going to big league games with my dad, my friends, and my teammates. While I’ll always be a baseball fan first, I am indeed a Dodger fan in the truest sense of the term. Watching my team brings me joy, and following the individual guys throughout the season is a great way to spend a summer.

I was even ON the Dodgers one year when I was twelve.

But here’s rub:

I’m Team Brewcrew for 2018. 100%.

This will be a surprise to “True Blue” fans, who can’t fathom such a thing. I in turn actually find their surprise what’s surprising. Part of my surprise is realizing how alone I apparently am on this one. I guess I regard the world differently than others. Even those close to me.

To preface all this, it should be noted that it’s not like I haven’t jumped off the Dodger train in the past. Folks in LA are quite aware of the telecast blackouts in town thanks to what was once Time Warner, and now Spectrum. For those who don’t know, the only way to watch Dodger games on television in the LA area — even if you were willing to pay for it — is to throw your DirecTV dish in the blue bin and spring for Spectrum cable. Nah, I said back in 2013 or so. I’ve actually spent the last several years uncharacteristically apathetic to the Dodgers for this reason. But I’ll always tune in for October baseball, regardless of which teams find themselves there.

2018 has been a different year, a big year, for me and my wife M. We’ve moved to a new home, and in getting all the basics sorted out, we broke down and got Spectrum, the cable company that holds the Dodger telecast in a stranglehold. While we really did it for the internet speed, it has consequently allowed us to follow the boys of summer for the first time in a long while. One of my favorite pastimes. We grew attached to lots of the players, catching a great game in Washington back in May. It’s been a blast watching Muncy come out of nowhere, and both Joc and Keek have had fantastic years. There’s lots to like.

Then there’s the Yasiel Puig factor, who has become a household name for even the most casual of baseball fans. And for the record, I understand that opinions on things vary. An animated antic to some is shameless narcissism to others. An emotional outburst to some is disrespect to others. Tossing a ball backward like a circus clown to some is impressive, to others not so much. Bat licking to some is, well.

puige the batlicker

Former Dodger Manager and American treasure Tommy Lasorda has often described a true Dodger as: “Somebody who plays for the name on the front of his jersey. Not the back.”

Yasiel Puig is the exact opposite of this description. On cartoon levels.

At this point, now that we’re deep into the second week of October, my real problem isn’t even about Puig the player anymore. Nor is it about his performance. That’s all old news. It’s much bigger than all that. It’s the perpetual tolerance of him. The nonsense was perhaps amusing at first, especially with Vin Scully tossing in his own observations. But we’re now, what, five years into it? To tolerate it, condone it, make excuses for it, and arguably encourage it has taken all the joy of rooting for my team to win. To make matters sadder, you might even say there’s a new joy to be found in watching them lose.

A player disrespecting a game that’s larger than him is one thing. But when you have an organization like the Dodgers — who I thought was one of the classiest teams in history — continue to include this cancer in the lineup is just an extension of this disrespect. It’s a chump move. It’s an insult to my soul.

I understand how some die-hard-go-blue Dodger fans can’t understand this. But baseball is a microcosm of life itself. It’s what I love about it. The ups, the downs, the streaks, the mistakes, the dog days of enduring, the wins. And, as is in the case of life itself, I’ve found myself in a place where a group of people I’ve loved all my life — the Dodgers — insult me. Really bums me out. If I were a blind religious subscriber to the Dodger religion, I’d probably find a way to rationalize things and make it all fit into something I find palatable, as religious types do. But I can’t. It’s not my style. I must step away. I’m repulsed.

The fan adulation of Puig is its own problem, inspiring in me the kind of urge you get when you realize you can’t stand the people at a party and you want to leave the room. But perhaps more problematic is Dodger manager Dave Roberts, who has positioned himself to receive any blame to be had. While he certainly has his overlords dictating his decisions, he’s still the Dodger manager. And his insistence on starting Yasiel Puig has become akin to a pathetic sales pitch, aiming to create perceived value in an asset the organization has invested in. I can understand that on a business level, but it just won’t go away. And every time the Puig thing becomes an embarrassing scene, like, say, a pointless fight he instigates or a boneheaded self-absorbed base-running stunt he pulls in a GODDAMN PLAYOFF GAME, Roberts seems surprised that he has to pull the tool aside and scold him like he’s nine. Whose fault is that, exactly?

By the way, it’s not like there aren’t other guys to play right field, and bring more value to the lineup. Hell, Puig could be the greatest guy in the world and I’d still start Keek or Kemp over him.

Roberts has also made a number of stupid moves over the season, perhaps half a dozen I could count off from memory. He’s one of these modern managers who use analytics as a crutch as if this is fantasy baseball. I’ve often gotten the feeling he makes managerial moves just for the sake of looking busy. He’s platoon-happy, he manages with an “everybody gets an at-bat” T-ball mentality, he pulls guys out in the fourth inning when they’re 2 for 2, and he won’t even let a starting pitcher pitch the seventh inning with a 4-0 lead and an RBI. The guy has no concept of groove, and wouldn’t recognize his best starting nine if they went out and won 15-0. But this is all for another baseball discussion.

M and I recently watched a cool “Dodgermentary” recently that chronicled the 1988 Dodger championship season. While the world will forever remember Kirk Gibson’s centerpiece ninth-inning homerun in Game 1 of that World Series, there were lots of overlooked moments in that season that made it so special. Bulldog, anyone? Mickey? How about Scioscia’s homerun against the Mets in the NLCS? The documentary’s in three parts, and is a nostalgic celebration of Dodger fandom. A timeless nugget of baseball history. Highly recommended.

I shudder to think that people would want this 2018 Dodger team added to those history books. Really? Is it just about winning a World Series to them? I’ve waited 30 years for the next one, and I can wait 30 more.

Which brings me to the real point of this blog entry:

GO BREWCREW.

The 2018 Dodgers are dead to me. It’s team Brewers from here to the end. Understand that this is not purely out of spite; I’ve been expecting to see the Brewers here in October ever since following them on Facebook back in June when my brother inlaw moved his family to Milwaukee. I’m also rooting for manager Craig Counsell, who was a Dodger himself. My generation. He’s one of us. He’s also no stranger to October, holding the unique record of scoring the winning run in Game 7 in two different and spectacular World Series, in 1997 and 2001. He belongs in this contest, and I’d love to see him win as manager.

I also have a lasting stamp of Brewer fever ever since I was a little kid. My dad’s old teammate Jim Colborn — who coincidentally served as Dodgers pitching coach last decade — pitched for the Brewers back in the ’70s; we went and saw him play the Angels in Anaheim once. They were in the American League at the time. During dinner after the game, Uncle Jim gave me ball signed by the team. I also had a Brewers windbreaker and a Brewers pennant on my wall.

So GO BREWCREW. Don’t forget that they were first seed in all this, by the way. They’re a worthy team.

It’s impossible not to notice some irony here. I’m jumping off the Dodger ship PRECISELY BECAUSE I’m a Dodger fan. Perhaps more so than most, if you want to get classical about it. As I learned by playing baseball as a young boy, it’s not just about winning. That’s the lasting takeaway lesson from playing sports as a kid.

IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT WINNING.

That applies to life as well. There are some things in life that are bigger than winning. Remember that.

So here we are, with the Brewers looking down the barrel of the NLCS, and the cancerous Dodgers their next foe. Of all the teams, right? It seems the stakes for the 2018 NLCS have been raised to unexpected and surprising levels for me personally. Perhaps, after such a sour Dodger season, I’ll be able to experience that joy of watching my favored team win. With a new and profound relevance.

But what if the 2018 Dodgers win? some might ask. What will I do? Well, it’d be a tragedy for the legacy, perhaps irreversible, but sadly I probably can’t think of a more fitting champion to represent everything I hate about what Major League Baseball has become in recent years.

But we’re not there yet. There’s still hope. Go Brewcrew. They’re the team that could literally save the Dodger legacy from irreparable harm. And I suspect other Dodger fans will join me when the Brewers take on the Astros a couple weeks from now in the World Series. How hilarious it would be if they could do what the Dodgers couldn’t. Beat those Astros. Talk about icing on the cake.

FOR 2019: Bring Mike Scioscia up to LA to manage our Dodgers. With Mickey Hatcher. They’ll get it done right, and you’ll notice how much more fun winning will be. Trade Puig for whatever a fool will give for him. Go get some pitching. Play Keek every day. And for the love of God, let your healthy starters throw 120 pitches if they have a lead. They’re big boys now.

#Dodgers

Interviewer: Can you explain jazz?

Yogi: I can’t, but I will. 90% of all jazz is half improvisation. The other half is the part people play while others are playing something they never played with anyone who played that part. So if you play the wrong part, it’s right. If you play the right part, it might be right if you play it wrong enough. But if you play it too right, it’s wrong.

Interviewer: I don’t understand.

Yogi: Anyone who understands jazz knows that you can’t understand it. It’s too complicated. That’s what’s so simple about it.

Interviewer: Do you understand it?

Yogi: No. That’s why I can explain it. If I understood it, I wouldn’t know anything about it.

Interviewer: Are there any great jazz players alive today?

Yogi: No. All the great jazz players alive today are dead. Except for the ones that are still alive. But so many of them are dead, that the ones that are still alive are dying to be like the ones that are dead. Some would kill for it.

Interviewer: What is syncopation?

Yogi: That’s when the note that you should hear now happens either before or after you hear it. In jazz, you don’t hear notes when they happen because that would be some other type of music. Other types of music can be jazz, but only if they’re the same as something different from those other kinds.

Interviewer: Now I really don’t understand.

Yogi: I haven’t taught you enough for you to not understand jazz that well.

Source: internet

Grabbed a solid koa Imua tenor ukulele in Kona last year and have been sitting down with it this summer. Picking up the uke has always been something I’ve wanted to do. Needed to do. We were both born in Honolulu, after all. (Its ancestors can be traced to Portugal.)

Music was my major in college, and all that theory’s still very much alive in my brain, so it’s been fun to revisit the stuff and apply it to this magical little instrument. I’ve never picked up the strings before, so the finger positions are all very new and awkward to me right now. But at least the theory’s out of the way.

One of the first things I’m determined to get into the muscle memory is the classic Hawaiian I-II7-V7-I vamp in all keys. Working through the circle of fifths recently, I read about an exercise that travels clockwise around the circle in a progression that takes you around the thing in logical laps. All you need to do is add the I7 to the end of the main vamp, and it’ll pull you to the fourth immediately adjacent in the clockwise direction, landing on the new I. Modulation via secondary dominant sevenths and all that.

I’ve been doing these types of laps around the circle, using separate diagrams as my finger guide. Yet since I’m still such a uke baby, the roads between my brain and fingers aren’t paved yet. Too much energy is spent just digging through the files in my memory bank and looking for the next finger position.

So I put the thing on grid. It allows you to through the first row, then the second, … all the way down to the the twelfth, then back to the top, effectively cruising counterclockwise around the circle of fifths indefinitely using the Hawaiian vamp. (Study the grid for a moment and some patterns will become beneficially apparent to you.)

Have fun with it. And aloha.

Ukulele I-II7-V7-I-I7 progression for counterclockwise laps around the circle of fifths:

Uke vamp laps grid

Thirty years after the events of the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament, Johnny Lawrence’s life has taken a rocky turn as he tries to forget a past that constantly haunts him. He seeks redemption by reopening the infamous Cobra Kai karate dojo. But the LaRusso-Lawrence rivalry of yesteryear is reignited when their lives become intertwined with the next generation of “karate kids.”

Daniel Larusso’s side of the story – Episode 2 – “Strike First”:

Present day Daniel LaRusso lives a charmed life. That is, until he sees that the Cobra Kai dojo, the source of his teenage angst and rivalry, has been reestablished by Johnny Lawrence. Struggling to launch the business, Johnny starts teaching karate to his teenage neighbor Miguel. Daniel faces his former opponent and old offenses are quickly reignited.

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Secrets to Happiness in Six Words

Secrets to Happiness in Six Words (daily 2018 calendar)

Happy New Year!

My bro Larry Smith just sent me a surprise copy of a 2018 daily calendar called Secrets To Happiness In Six Words: Writers Famous And Obscure On Love, Sex, Money, Friendship, Family, Work, And Much More. Now available on Amazon.

You’ll find me on October 17. A Wednesday. Hopefully the Dodgers will have a lead in the NLCS and be gearing up to kick off a World Series that weekend.

ANGER MANAGEMENT: Get a drum set

ANGER MANAGEMENT: Get a drum set.

For more info on the best-selling Six Word book series and to add yours, visit the Six Word Memoirs official site. And check out Smith Magazine for all things word.

 

I dare you not to smile. (via Thane)