Don’t Skip The Commercials

“I used to play sports. Then I realized you can buy trophies. Now I’m good at everything.” ~ Demetri Martin

The Baltimore Orioles look like the guys who might deliver a truckload of mulch to your house.

(Did you know that people have truckloads of mulch delivered to their houses? Truckloads. I didn’t know someone would need that much mulch, but apparently there are mulch-mad people out there. I have no idea what you do with mulch. Seriously, I know nothing about mulch.)

The O’s look like the guys who will change the oil in your car, put the gravel on your driveway and push the snow off of it. Ordinary guys.

No crazy, mountain-man beards. (Not allowed.)

No dreadlocks. (Also, not allowed, which was, I’m sure, shear sadness for Jemile Weeks who joined the club fully dreaded in December, but is now the undread.)

No mustaches. (Unless they are “neat.” Yes, that’s the Orioles’ rule. Neatness counts, fellas.)

snidely whiplash

Neat? Not Neat? Close call.

So, no wacky allowed in Birdland. No wacky at all.

I like a little wacky and I know you do, too. (I’ve gotten to know my readers – both of you – and I’ve checked your Facebook pages. I know how you appreciate a healthy dose of irreverence, bad puns, and third-grade potty humor:  What’s the difference between mashed potatoes and pea soup? Anyone can mash potatoes. Really?  Really?)

But, back to the Orioles.

I appreciate Baltimore’s working guy thing. I like that the sports world gives the Orioles no chance … no chance … to do anything in the AL East this season.

As the Orioles will tell you (when they’re not tidying up their mustaches and memorizing the dress code), they like this fly-under-the-radar thing.

No expectations in April will, of course, make their almost-assured World Series championship in October that much sweeter.

Closer Grant Balfour was nearly-almost-thisridiculouslyclose to signing with the Orioles in December. Then, he failed his physical and the deal was off.  But really, I think the deal was off when the Orioles discovered he drove this …

balfour truck

That is not a workingman truck. (And, good luck parking that in Tampa.)

But, back to the Orioles.

They are allowed neatly groomed mustaches, they have a ping-pong table, and on super hot days they get to wear shorts for batting practice.

Other than that, they keep the crazy locked down tight in the clubhouse.

You won’t see any goofy television commercials from Birdland.

(Let’s not blame the team. Let’s blame the team’s PR firm.)

So, check out some new sweet, sassy ads from other teams.

Here’s Minnesota Twins’ legend Kent Hrbek giving playing tips to Joe Mauer.


This Twins’ commercial has a back story. Click here. (Gant was safe, by the way.)

Here are two from the Oakland A’s

The Home Run Tunnel

homerun tunnel

(That’s University of Virginia alum Sean Doolittle with the beard.)

Josh Donaldson’s “Tarp Therapy”

tarp therapy

From the Seattle Mariners

Kyle Seager is Old School

kyle seager

And, Felix Hernandez is King.

king felix

And, from the San Francisco Giants

Mi Amor from Sergio Romo and Buster Posey

buster sergio

The Two Brandons (Belt and Crawford)


“New Guy” Michael Morse

mike morse

The Giants, overachievers that they are, have a bunch more and you can see them all here.

But, back to the Orioles.

They picked up a lot of talent in the off-season. Acting chops, too. Who knew?

Here’s the Orioles’ newest starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez when he was with the Colorado Rockies in 2011.


And, here’s the Orioles’ newest home run smoosher Nelson Cruz when he was with the Texas Rangers in an ad for a video game in 2010.

nelson cruz

Just two days ’til Opening Day …


“Oh, to be 22 …”

“Oh, to be 22 and a Dodger.” ~ Vin Scully

(Describing Dodger Rookie Yasiel Puig after a magnificent throw from right to get the runner at home and end the inning. August 31, 2013. You can see it all here.)

Oh, to be 85 and to see baseball as Vin Scully does.

I’m not a Los Angeles Dodgers fan (though my dad was, in a “I don’t like baseball, but I do like the Dodgers” sort of way).

But, I always like to listen to Vin, the voice of the Dodgers for the past 64 years. (And, soon to be 65 years, as he’s just signed on for 2014.)

He is, quite simply, the voice of baseball. Scully is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, is regularly chosen as the best broadcaster in baseball, and has been calling Dodgers games – on radio and, today, on television — since 1950. Since they were the Brooklyn Dodgers.

When I listen to Vin Scully doing a game today I imagine my dad, out in the backyard in California on a long-ago Saturday, beer in hand in his beloved green hammock, listening to a game on the radio. Vin Scully calling a Dodgers game, same as today. Only the names have changed.

And, long ago doesn’t seem all that long ago.

Whether describing a baby wearing a hat, marveling over a cloud formation, or his regular nightly depictions of the sun setting over Dodger Stadium, baseball becomes richer when Vin Scully is sharing it with you.

The world becomes sweet and timeless and precious.

So, I went to a game on Sunday. And, I took my camera (which is new and foreign and intimidating). I tried to see the things that Vin Scully would see, if he were at the park with me.

Harrisburg Senators (AA Washington Nationals team) vs. Richmond Flying Squirrels (AA San Francisco Giants team). September 1, 2013

(Second to the last game of the AA season. Harrisburg will go to the playoffs. The Squirrels’ season will end on Labor Day.)

Squirrel Autograph Day

It was Flying Squirrels autograph day at the park. Oh, to be 22 …

more autographs

Jarrett Parker

The Squirrels’ Jarrett Parker (UVA alum) … dreaming of the AAA Fresno Grizzlies?

Having A Catch

Having a catch before the game.

upper deck


Every team deserves a mascot (hear that Chicago Cubs?). The Flying Squirrels have two. This is Zinger. He is a giant acorn.



This is not a homerun swing.

Lollis homerun

This is. (The Squirrels’ Ryan Lollis, leading off the first inning.)

cotton candy

Hey, snacks!

pitchers mound

Not a good day to be a Harrisburg pitcher.

man on first

right field

Right field can seem awfully far away sometimes.


The relievers in their bullpen. (Even minor league teams have their candy backpack … it’s over there on the ground on the left.)

old stadium

All you have to do is turn a camera button and your 21st-century game looks like 1964.

older stadium

Or, 1934. (That’s Editor/Husband on the left keeping track of the pitching changes in his program.)


When you get cocky, your camera will change all your settings.


Some clouds for Vin.


And, just as quickly as it started, the minor league season is over. Wasn’t it just Opening Day? Where did the summer go? And, how many days until spring?

(And, Vin Scully would be disappointed if I neglected to give you the final score.  Richmond Flying Squirrels 7. Harrisburg Senators 3.)

“Cricket. Cricket. Cricket.”

More reflections from my “Day with the Dalai Lama”

While His Holiness the Dalai Lama refreshes mind, body, and spirit with the nightly “good sleep” he recommends for all of us, he has a friend in India who, instead, watches television well into the night.

As His Holiness impresses on us how healing, revitalizing, and important a good night’s sleep is, he widens his eyes and laughs and laughs as he describes his friend who enjoys a good cricket match on TV.

“I prefer to sleep, not look at cricket,” the Dalai Lama says. “He can watch cricket all night.”

“Cricket. Cricket. Cricket.”

An average cricket match, by the way, can run about six hours a day – with matches lasting three to five days.  Those lengthy cricket matches are known for their utterly civilized breaks and tea times. No cheap 7th-inning stretch for these fellas.

By comparison, the average baseball game in America runs about three hours (unless you are the Baltimore Orioles, in which case, you could very well go on for 12 or 14 or 18 innings … and rival cricket hours, except no tea time.)

So, I’m wondering … how did His Holiness know that I watch way too much baseball?

Does he know that some games this season kept me up well past midnight?

Does he know that last Sunday’s hours-long rain delay in Baltimore meant I slogged through the next day with less than three hours sleep?

Does he know that a season of baseball is 162 games? That the Orioles (and your favorite team) will play some 500 hours a year (even more if they go to the post-season)? That’s a lot of baseball.

His Holiness doesn’t know my deep dark baseball-watching secret. Well, if he reads this blog, I guess he does now. But, I’m pretty sure he’s sleeping, not blogging.

Oh, sure maybe you don’t watch baseball (or cricket). But, maybe you have your own kind of baseball that keeps you up … reading, or knitting, or worrying, or work, or … reading blogs. 

I think many of us have our own cricket.

Many of my massage clients come in to their appointments tired. They tell me they might fall asleep on the table. Some tell me that the little nap they catch during their session is the best sleep they’ve gotten in awhile.

Some of my Yoga students fall asleep in class during relaxation. They drop right off. And, snore.

We are a sleep-deprived culture. And, we all know it. And, yet, many of us don’t make the changes we need to improve our sleep. (And, by “many of us,” I, of course, mean me … and  maybe some of you, but mostly me.)

So how much sleep is enough? “Eight, nine hours, I think, is good for health,” the Dalai Lama says. Ayurveda and Yoga, which call adequate sleep absolutely essential to healing, suggest seven or eight. Basically, everybody agrees that somewhere between six and nine would be great. My cat Stevie highly recommends 18.

Writing this has made me tired.

Oh, wait, Giants-Cardinals game is about to start.

I’ll sleep in November.

Stevie takes the Dalai Lama’s good sleep advice to heart.

Read Part One of my “Day With The Dalai Lama” … click here.


There’s this saying they have in North Dakota: “Thirty below keeps the riff-raff out.”  I’m sure you may have your own variations out where you are.

For the record, I did my North Dakota time. You may now consider me proof that 30-below temperatures will cause some – call me riff-raff, whatever – to flee.

So, I’m reading the new Rolling Stone (and I highly recommend the interview with Bob Dylan which is delightful and reminds you what happens when a crazy genius like Bob Dylan becomes a crazy, irascible, crabby, unfiltered old man … and I mean that in most reverent way possible).

Anyway, there is also an article about how football became America’s number one sport … and how it has completely dominated television with its constant adrenaline-rush, mad-action, carefully scripted production.

And, in a throwaway to make their point, they call televised baseball “lugubrious and soporific.”  Lugubrious and soporific? Oh my! How erudite and loquacious of you, Rolling Stone.

Sure, if you don’t know how to fill the space within the game, then you won’t enjoy the easeful, sweetly slow pace of baseball. And, with so much noise in the world today, if you don’t know what in the world to do with the blank, quiet, waiting moments, then you’ll probably be, at best, bored … at worst, sound asleep.

But, those spaces of inaction are very much part of baseball. Having the time to watch things unfold – to get into the pitcher’s eyes and his careful windup, to get into the batter’s head – can make baseball riveting.

I’m pretty sure it was the Seattle Mariners who many years ago experimented with editing games for television. Snipping out all the quiet, slow spots. They were left with an hour or so of the “action.” I don’t know how many games this lasted, but needless to say … it didn’t last long.

On the other hand, my Yankee-fan Editor/Husband (hi honey!) reminds me of this:

There were some spring-training games that were telecast with a minimal broadcaster presence. I think they had several players and coaches miked up, but no one really in the broadcast booth. And, it was spring training, so it was a game of not much importance, but there was SO MUCH going on. There was the outfielder singing to himself.  And, the first-base coach talking to the base-runner and the first baseman. And, the catcher talking to the umpire and the batter.  And the manager … and the coach. There were ALL of these little centers of activity and interest and tension, while it might seem like “nothing” was happening!

Watching baseball on television isn’t easy, because it asks you to fall into a simple, slow rhythm yourself. Sometimes, you have to sing to yourself. And, for a world that’s super-charged with energy, for a television that offers continuous wall-to-wall action, that isn’t easy.

But, maybe that’s just baseball’s way of keeping the riff-raff out.

(I’ll sing the praises of the best baseball broadcasters – and there are some great ones out there – another time.)

And, by the way, I really do love Bob Dylan. I even have his brand new one, Tempest. It’s crazy sweet.  (And, as I write this, just a $5 download from Amazon … just click here).

Oh, I suppose some would say that the title track – a 14-minute, 45-verse recounting of the sinking of the Titanic, that weirdly entwines both historical fact and fictional characters from the movie – is, well, lugubrious and soporific. But, maybe Bob just wants to keep the riff-raff out, too.