|Edition No. 13||
July 14, 2011
Tuesday nightís midsummer classic (won by the Senior Circuit by the score of 5-1) marked the unofficial half-way point of the 2011 season. The Hot Stove League standings at the All-Star Break are as follows:
The season is shaping up as one which will be hotly contested for all three of the money positions, with fewer than 150 points separating the first place Chiefs from the fourth place Wahoos after 27+ weeks of play. It looks like the seasonís finish could be a real Donnybrook, going down to the wire.
AND OTHER THINGS
At the risk of being seen as sacrilegious, I would like to compare notes with the rest of you about the Gods of Baseball and of other, less important things that affect our lives. Evidently, I am not the only one who believes that the Baseball Gods‒‒not drafting skill or managerial acumen‒‒have the greatest impact on how our players and our teams fare in our Hot Stove League competitions.
While chewing the fat with B.T. last Friday, he informed me that Underbelly steadfastly refuses to watch any baseball game which features any of his HSL Tribe members, for the fear of jinxing them by angering the Baseball Gods. Moreover, U-Bob reportedly will not even sneak a peek on the computer screen at a game in progress if one of his Tribesmen is participating in said game, again, for fear that he will upset the apple cart and cause a pox to be visited on one of his pitchers or everyday players by viewing his performance in real time. While B.T. lamented Bobís inability to enjoy the fruits of his playersí labors during the course of an active game, especially during the thick of a four-team pennant race which actually involves a competitive Tribe team, I agree in toto with Bobís approach. Too many times, I have tuned in to a game, whether by television, radio or internet, and immediately sent a winning pitcher into a tailspin from which he would not recover, or cursed a hot hitter into grounding into a double play, through what can only be seen, rationally, as the direct involvement of the Baseball Gods.
B.T. expressed some surprise that I bought into Underbellyís theory on this, so I pointed out to him that itís not only applicable in the fantasy baseball arena, but in many other facets of our lives. For example, I am almost daily visited by the Locker Room Gods, who become extremely amused at the sight of my exasperated self, as I have to elbow my way to my locker midst a beehive of activity in whatever row of lockers I choose to utilize in an otherwise cavernous locker room. I swear to God that every time I go to the health club, this is what happens to me: I walk in, pick a row of lockers at random, but usually one which is essentially vacant, put on my workout gear, and head upstairs for my workout. When I come back down to shower and change into my street clothes, I almost always find that the locker above mine, below mine, to my left and/or to my right, and usually all of the above, are not only occupied, but that the person who is occupying it is sitting buck-naked on the bench right in front of my locker, dressing or undressing at the speed of a sloth on Darvon, packing, de-packing, or re-packing his freaking duffle bag a thousand times in Shamu-style, and preventing me from accessing my locker. It is absolutely uncanny how often this happens to me, no matter what spot in the locker room I choose, no matter what time of day or night I choose to go in for my workout. Perhaps it is a corollary of Murphyís Law, but I firmly believe it is the Locker Room Gods who are entertaining themselves at my expense.
Back to the Baseball Gods for a moment. This past weekend was a perfect example. I got busier than heck with the boysí baseball, household chores, work, life, etc., and forgot to check to see if I had any pitchers that needed to be promoted. Then, later in the day on Saturday, when I saw that U-Baldo had a nice outing for Colorado, I had a sick feeling that he was still in my minors. When I got to my computer and checked, of course my sick feeling proved to be on the mark, as I left behind a 37-point performance by failing to promote U-Baldo. My sick feeling was compounded the next day when I saw that I also failed to promote Chris Volstad, who had a 23-point pitching performance on Sunday. Many of you might simply say that this was a case of mismanagement on my part (it was, mea culpa), but where the Baseball Gods come into play is the fact that whomever I failed to promote was absolutely guaranteed to have a strong pitching performance, not a negative-point outing that would have allowed me to dodge a bullet. For the same night that U-Baldo left 37 points on the bench, another of my pitchers, Kevin Correia, had a negative-9 point performance. So why is it that he wasnít the pitcher that I failed to promote? It never, ever works out that way, does it? If you donít believe me, just ask my friend Underbelly.
If those cruel Baseball Gods donít stop picking on me, Iím going to stop going to services at their holy green cathedrals. Well, maybe not.
Bill Kloefkorn, a long-time faculty member at Nebraska Wesleyan University, our former State Poet, and our former neighbor two doors down on North 63rd Street, died on May 19, 2011. Bill was one of my dadís best friends, and I spent innumerable hours around the Kloefkorn bonfire on countless summer evenings in the í70s and early í80s, listening to Bill, Mel Berka and my dad philosophize about some of the most significant and insignificant issues of our times. Some great conversations.
One of my favorite around-the-bonfire memories is of the these three good men sipping from glasses of whiskey cut with water believed to be from the springs of Sycamore Springs, Kansas, a favorite camping site of theirs, and their going on and on about the marvelous, mystical, inexplicable healing powers of the Sycamore Springs water, and the vivacious states of their respective health as they sipped from same; only to have my mom, Phyllis, completely debunk their medical theories by informing them that the jar of water which Jack took from an Ernst kitchen countertop to the bonfire for mixing with the spirits was actually a jar of downspout runoff rainwater collected by her for use in doing her ironing‒‒and not the miraculous, marvelous, mysterious healing H2O from the Springs of Sycamore.
Ol Main, on Wesleyan campus, where Bill lay in state
In any event, the memorial service that they had for Bill was held at the main auditorium on the Nebraska Wesleyan campus, and the large auditorium was filled with friends, colleagues, neighbors, former students, readers of Billís poetry, and admirers. During the nearly two-hour service, there were many great stories told, lots of country and bluegrass music played and sung (with Billís son Robert on the banjo), several wonderful poems read, and not a single Bible verse or prayer uttered.
It was truly a joyous celebration, one that Bill himself would have enjoyed immensely, if only he had not been the center of attention. Bill was, above all, humble and unassuming, despite his stature as one of the great poets of our time.
There were a dozen or more good stories that would be worth sharing if I could remember them all, but the three that stand out the most came from his grandson, Willie, whom I had not seen in probably twenty years:
1. Billís perspective on Heaven. ďI believe that if Heaven is a place that you go if you have done more good than harm; if you have spread more love than hate; then I do believe thatís where I will be going. And if Heaven isnít such a place, then I donít want to go there anyway.Ē
2. Billís advice to young people on how to be successful: Pay attention, and donít be afraid to ask why.
3. Vintage Bill: ďIf somebody throws a bucket of shit at you, be sure and close your eyes!Ē
Willie: " .. he had a voice that made ordering off the menu an event ..."
I came away from Billís memorial celebration feeling so damned good about life, and afterlife, old neighbors, and friends, that I thought to myself, that was the best two hours I have spent doing anything for a long, long time. Bill Kloefkornís life was truly an inspiration for me, and for all of us. May his poetry and his memories last for a long, long time. R.I.P., Billy K.!
NO. 1 IN YOUR HEART
I just came across an old picture of some fine fellow at a NASCAR event. See below. My only question is: Shamu, what was your uniform number in high school?
Two questions: 1. How does Tricko always get the best seats, no matter by whom he is employed? And 2: Are Big Guy and Tricko wearing the exact same shirt, and was it planned?
That will do it for this issue of From the Bullpen, men. However, before I sign off, please join me in wishing a very happy 53rd birthday to one of the best friends that any of us will ever have, my brother-in-law, Scott, but known to all of us more affectionately as Baby Trumpetfish. Enjoy the day, Brutha!