Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.

30 July 2007

Welcome to the Hall Gentlemen

For some, yesterday was one of the biggest days of the sporting year, if not the biggest. It was the day that 2 of the classiest guys in baseball, much less sports were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown NY. A record crowd of over 75,000 descended upon this quaint little town in Central New York to see one of the few things that baseball has done right lately. Forgotten for an afternoon were Michael Vick, Tim Donaghy, Barry Bonds and everything else that is wrong with the sporting world. And while this might be more directed towards Baseball fans, it should be impressive to for any sports fan to see the 53 hall of famers on stage behind the newest inductee's. It should be impressive that 2 men who spent their long and entire careers with one team and are easily not only the best guys of their generation but of all time reach the pinnacle of any sporting career. I know I was impressed. For the first time it hit me. These are the guys I grew up watching. These are the guys I pretended to be when my friends and I grabbed our gloves and went off to play baseball. These were the guys who helped shape and define my love for the game of baseball.

Being on the East Coast, I never got to see Tony Gwynn play as much as I would have liked. Luckily Baseball Tonight and Sportscenter helped bring his game to the masses, but there is no doubt in my mind that had he played for the Mets, Yankees, Tigers, Cardinals, Braves, Red Sox etc. his legend would be even greater. We're not going to find a man more dedicated to his craft. A player who was never complacent and was always learning, always trying to improve right up until the day he retired. He is a man who is as big a hit in the community as he was on the field. And he was a guy who never made headlines for the wrong reasons. A great player and a great man I hate to cut things short on Big T, but I need to get to Cal as he has always been one of my favorite players.

Every baseball fan around owes Cal Ripken . No, we don't owe him money, a first born kid, we owe him our respect and our admiration. I grew up watching Cal Ripken Jr. I was fortunate enough to actually see him play when I was a little kid and he spent one year as a Rochester Redwings . Of course then I had no idea what I was watching, but now that I know its something I can always look back on and be thankful I did see it. Because the Wings were Baltimore's top farm Team at the time, I grew up watching the Orioles, even though I was a Mets fan. I grew up watching Cal play. I remember hoping that the Game of the Week would feature the Orioles every week. I remember vaguely the World Series winning team, the pain of the late 80's team, and the resurgence of the 90's teams. As a baseball fan, I also remember the devastating strike in 1994 and I remember everything that Cal Ripken did to get baseball back in the good graces of the fans. His chase and eventual record breaking streak in 1995 of Lou Gehrig's consecutive games streak is legendary in its own right and it's timing helped to pull baseball from the strike burned memories of the fans. And whether it was Cal taking a lap around the entire stadium shaking hands with fans or the fact he would never turn down an autograph request, he did more than anyone to bring it back. I don't think I could name one player right now that would come out and sign autographs for 2 or 3 hours after playing a 3 hour baseball game at one of the most demanding positions. He did not want to disappoint the fans...and Cal never did. Cal was about the game. He understood the game existed because of the fans and his HOF induction speech was the same way. Cal didn't talk much about himself. Instead he made his induction speech, on his day into the HOF, about the game, about everyone else. From his dad, to his brother, to his wife and kids and mom, to his teammates, to the fans especially Oriole Fans he made it about them. He talked about how great baseball is and he talked about teaching it to today's youth. He talked about how every mistake he might have made he learned from and never repeated. He talked about being a role model whether players like it or not. He talked about baseball being his job so playing everyday was just what he did whether he was hurting or not. His sort of tribute to the fans of the game who work hard all their lives. With his speech he gave fans like me one more glimpse at being a kid watching baseball, and he also gave all fans hope that players do exist that care more about the game and fans than about the paycheck. When my kids are growing up playing baseball and beating up those that play Soccer, they will know all about Cal Ripken. Who he was, what he stood for, everything he was and is. The biggest injustice we could do it to forget about Cal and to not keep his memory flowing always.

I cannot thank Cal, Tony, the HOF and baseball in general for giving me as a baseball fan one pure day. Like I said, yesterday wasn't steroids and tainted records. Allegations and conspiracy's. It was about the games greatest players being honored, inducted, and remembered. I'll be down to see Cal's plaque in Cooperstown real soon.

23 July 2007

Departure From The Ordinary - Sorta

I'm a regimented person. I love routine, and when my routine gets altered...I hate it. Maybe its a product of my military experience, maybe I have always been like that and the military only solidified it. Either way, I am what I am. This applies to pretty much everything across the board in my life, including things like the beer I drink to the places I eat at. This past weekend, I took 2 departures from my routine. One was successful, the other was a horrible abomination.

This past Friday, I was at Costello's. I little Dago joint here in Fairport that has some killer food. Despite the fact they are pretty small, they even manage to have a decent beer selection on tap. Now good to me is good because among those available is my friend Coors Light. A staple in my beer drinking diet. However this Friday night I was feeling a little froggy...so I jumped. A new selection was offered...a Brooklyn Brew. Ordinarily I would have bypassed that right up while selecting my frost brewed goodness, however for whatever reason, I opted for the Brooklyn. Probably because when my pal Mark isn't giving brain to Joe Mcbane, he can be found pimping beers of this nature. Upon first drink of my Brook Lager (I think it is a lager, what the fuck do I know about beer...I like Coors Light after all!), I I thought why did I order this dark, bitter tasting beer. By the time my pint was a half-pint, it was going down almost as well as a 2 dollar hooker (and there's nothing wrong with that). By the time I had finished my beer, it was a surprisingly tasty departure from my norm. I didn't order another one, and it might be some time before I order another one down the road, but it was nice to try something different and have it work out it my favor.

Continuing with my weekend of expanding horizons, I rolled Friday Nights success into another departure from the norm on Saturday. Saturday Evening I headed down to a local Target (tar-gjaaayyy) so I could pick up a new Nerf Football to play catch with, with my dog (and yes, she catches better than Peerless Price). This Target happens to be right near the greatest fast food restaurant of all time, Taco Bell! Bren had decided to take the ride with me, and was hungry since we hadn't eaten dinner yet, however her idea of dinner was not pulling into the TB Drive through (and I thought she loved me too). Of course we had to have a mini-argument of where or what to eat. You'd never guess it, but I'm a picky bitch when it comes to eating. On top of it, when it comes to places to eat, I'm all about the bug chains that litter the suburban countryside. You know, Applebee's , Chili's , Friday's , Ruby Tuesday , etc. Tonight though, I didn't want any of that, and the Cracker Barrel was too far away. So while we couldn't decide where to do I just started driving. Despite not being a fan of the small diner's or Family Restaurants, I pointed my car East and started heading into 315 land. You know, the land of inbreeding, shanties, cars on blocks, its like having a country from Alabama transplanted right here in Western NY (and yes Syracuse...you're 315ers). After about 10 minutes or so, I pulled the car into the Log Cabin Family Restaurant. Bren and I had been talking about eating there for over 2 years but just never made it. All I have ever talked too have always said how good the food was etc. Well, seeing as 315ers and Bikers are the main frequenters of this establishment...I should have known better. Upon entering, a chickie babe with a jacked up grill seats us and gets us some drinks. Water for my misplaced Brighton Resident of a wife and an Ice-Tea for me. We were seated on one side of the dining area separated by a wall that one could somewhat see over when seated. While this kept us away from the necks in the building, it also seamed to keep up hidden from our waitress. After about 10 minutes Granny Smith rolled up to take our order. Bren got the Italian sausage and peppers with pasta and I had a burger (cooked well done) with fries. Bren also landed a garden salad while I clocked a Cesar salad. I was thirsty so my ice-tea was going down nicely. Brenna mentioned that I might want to ration the tea seeing as I might not be getting timely refills. Bren's salad came, but the chef was still putting mine together. Really? It takes a chef to dump romaine lettuce into a bowl then dump parmesan cheese and croutons on it? In 315 land it does. So, my salad comes with dinner. Whatever, by this time I could care less as I am pretty hungry. Before we start to eat, Granny asks if we need anything else. Well right under her nose is my empty glass of ice-tea. Apparently I'm not getting a refill without begging. That's alright, she aint getting a big tip either, and I am a very good tipper. My tea comes and Bren and I dig in and my first bite of burger reminds me why I usually eat chicken and turkey. Little chunks of gristle litter my first bite as well as the fact the my burger is far from well done. I look at the bite mark I made in my burger and the mother fucker is so red it looks like its menstruating. After composing myself, I have to decide what to do. Look, we all know that food that gets sent back has unspeakable things done to it (look, I've seen "Road Trip"). Well, I decide to flag down Granny and send it back. She agrees that its not well done so off the burger goes. After a few minutes, it comes back. Beautiful, it was dropped in the microwave for about 2 minutes with the Kraft Singles piece of cheese on top and bacon and the Catsup I put on it. I inspect the burger while Granny said the chef was apologetic and also said that its hard to tell how cooked the meat is in the center. Really? So the chef doesn't know how to cook a burger, or how to tell if one is cooked all the way through? Now I'm not Bobby Flay or anything, but I can throw a burger on my grill at home and I know when that sumbitch is well done all the way through. Granny leaves and I take a bit...it still sucks. Matter of fact, I think this bite exposed a tape worm! So, I ate around the outside of the burger. I wasn't going to send it back again either. To Granny's credit, she came back to find the burger still sucked and asked what I wanted to do. Send it back again, order something different. At that point I was really turned off to the place, so I just said it was fine. In an effort to make it up to me, so offered up a free piece of pie. I hemmed and hawed and said sure. Brenna and I can split it, plus I had been craving cheesecake for a while. Well, no cheesecake, but she had a piece of chocolate something or other with chocolate frosting, chocolate chips, chocolate all kinds of shit. Well, I'm not into chocolate that much, so of the other few selections, a piece of Banana Cream Pie was the best option. Granny drops the pie off with the check and leaves us to eat. The first thing Brenna notices is the UPS colored brown slices of banana on top of the pie. Sweet! I love pie that is like 5 days old!!! Needless to say, the pie sucked, my meal sucked, and Brenna's pasta with a piece of sausage and pepper (singular and small) sucked too. The service was horrible, even with Granny trying to make things better. All I know its next time, I'm going to Chili's - in the 585!

11 July 2007

Origins of the Irish Flag, CNN, and the Buffalo Bills

Not that long ago, a buddy of mine asked me about the colors of the Italian Flag and if they are similar to the Irish Flag. My buddy's wife is very proud of her Irish heritage (why I don't know), and while they were out one time they drove by Delmonico's restaurant here in Rochester and the flag out in front was red, white, and "orange" instead of red (which is the color of the motherland's flag). I've spent a lot of time making fun of Kathy's Irish heritage over the years, so the fact the Iti flag in front of an Iti restaurant was looking like an Irish flag because a great source of amusement for her and a topic for my buddy to make fun of me over. It was at that point I shared the history of the Irish flag with them and I will do the same with you good people. You see, the Irish people are not the most creative people around. I mean no disrespect (well maybe a little), but when the Irish cuisine revolves around boiling everything...creativity just isn't in abundance. Because of this, Ireland was without an actual flag for quite sometime. It wasn't until Shamus Patrick McO'Malley (a direct descendent of St. Patrick) was traveling Europe and found himself in Italy that he was struck with the idea for an Irish flag. See, he happened upon a proud, hard working Italian who was replacing his Italian flag outside his humble home. Shamus asked the man what he was doing. The Italian showed shamus that his red, white, and green flag that had been hanging for a few years now was faded from its time in the hot sun. The red had been faded as such that it looked like it was a red, green, and orange flag. Shamus asked what the Italian was going to do with the spent flag. The Italian mentioned that was going to properly dispose of the flag after he hung up his new one. Shamus seeing an opportunity here, asked the Italian if he would be willing to give him the flag as he liked the faded color look and would like to bring it back to his own country to display. (Its too bad that Shamus didn't also ask for the Italian's book of recipes here too). The Italian thought about it, and in a good faith gesture offered Shamus the flag as long as he took care of it. Shamus promised and was on his way. When Shamus returned to Ireland he present "his" flag to the King and to the people. He said he had a "flash" of brilliance and that these 3 colors represented Ireland to its fullest. The King and the people were dazzled by Shamus' bullshit and the flag was incorporated and became the national flag and still stands today. So, whenever you see a faded Italian flag, just know there is some Mick around the corner just waiting for it to be replaced so he can have his "own" Irish Flag. So, every time you see an Irish flag hanging, just know that it was a recycled Italian Flag. Oh, and contrary to the rumors, Italians throw out their trash in clear plastic bags so the Puerto Ricans can window shop, not the Irish.

Now that I have the humor out of the way, lets get down to my bitter rants. First off, CNN . I get a lot of my news from CNN.com. I check other news sites, but spend most of my news related time on CNN. For the most part, CNN is a decent place for news. Its not perfect, but its not Fox news and its not NPR news either. However, going beyond their regular section for entertainment news, CNN has been putting direct links on the main page for people like Paris Hilton and Clay Aiken. Are you fucking kidding me? Look, everyone knows that Paris was in jail, that she is a skank, that she is a bitch, and that she is fake. I don't need a direct link that is placed next to the dow jones report to continually tell me that. I don't need a direct link to Clay Aiken letting me know he limp wristed some loser on an airplane placed right next to a link talking about global warming. Look, lets keep the news real and leave stories like this for the National Enquirer. You wanna put some direct links to people, how about some politicians like HRC , Rudy G , J McCain , Obama ? God knows the voting public can all use some edumacation when it comes to this subject! How about some links to people who do lots of charity work, or who donate time and money to good causes? To people who are supporting America's Veterans ? Would that be too much to ask for instead of Paris Hilton? If I want my fill of skanks and sex I'll pop in a porn where I can handle my business as well.

Buffalo Bills . I was reading in the Rochester D and C the other day that the Buffalo Bills are going to raise the price of parking in their stadium lots. Currently it is $15. While exorbitant, its not bad comparatively. However for this upcoming season they are raising the price by 60% to $25, well above the league average. You cannot tell me that the Bills are hurting so bad for money that they have to soak fans for that much money just to park a game. I know there are other parking options there that cost less, however lets face it...if we buy a couple tickets for the game for a hundy and a half we want the convenience of being able to actually park at the stadium and not have to walk a half mile each way. All sports are fleecing fans. MLB, NBA, NCAA, NHL. However the NFL is a fucking juggernaut that is making money like the Gambino Crime Family in the '70's and '80's. Surely they could do something to help make the game more cost effective to the fans! Surely the league could kick a few extra dollars back to the teams to help keep something like parking a bit more affordable. The NFL needs to be careful because they will eventually start pricing out fans of the product then the good times will no longer roll! In the meantime, between this, the threats of the Bills moving, Ralph Wilson's apparent lack of concern of the future of the team after he kicks all has me pretty down on the Bills currently. Since Ralph seemingly doesn't care about the fans that are supporting his team, I'm less inclined to give him my hard earned dollars as well. Guess I'll just keep hoping that Bills games aren't blacked out on Sunday's.

04 July 2007

Happy 4th of July!

Just a quick message to wish all of you a Happy 4th of July, and I also wanted to say this. Set aside your politics for this day and give the respect deserved to our country. You can hate the president, the regime, the democrats and republicans, war all of that, but set it aside. Paying tribute to the great land we all live in has nothing to do with politics. It’s this great land and all that have come before us and all that are here now that allow us to have the opinions we do. Do the things we do. Afford us the opportunities we have. We live in a land of wide open spaces, a land with large metropolis’ and immense beauty. We live in a land that is diverse, that works for us, that supports our way of life. Don’t take that for granted. Don’t take for granted all those that have served this country and have helped shape this great land. Enjoy the 4th. Enjoy the great land we live in. And don’t take it for granted.

03 July 2007

NYC, The Mets, The Daddies, Marky Mark, Hockey its a Corucopia of Topics For Your Reading Pleasure!

The past week was a pretty busy one for the Don. On the 24th, I celebrated one year of marriage, or as I saw one year without having to go O.J. on the wife. To celebrate, we took a quick overnight trip to New York City baby! We had tickets to watch my favorite team the Mets play at home against her favorite team the Cardinals. We got an early start on the 25th and made good time to the big city...right up until my directions had me going across Manhattan...which added another hour or so onto the trip time. All in all, we made solid time once we got to our hotel in posh Jamaica Queens. After checking in and unloading the car, we headed for the subway for some good ole Americana cuisine in the heart of NYC. Actually we ended up in the artsy-fartsy Greenwich Village to get some good ole authentic Fish 'N Chips from A Salt and Battery . The wife and I had been looking forward to trying this place ever since we saw my man Bobby Flay challenge the owner in a "Throwdown" on the Food Network. I ordered some Haddock and Bren had the Cod. We actually split an order of large Chips, since surprisingly enough there wasn't an actual "Fish 'N Chips" combo on the menu. I tried to understand that, but then again these are the Brits. You know, the ones who brush their teeth with a BBQ Grill brush and have no idea what a dentist is. Either way, a can of Coke for me and a Ginger Beer for Bren rounded out our lunch. Grand total...30 bones! Welcome to NYC! 30 bucks for 2 somewhat small pieces of fried fish, a "large" order of glorified french fries and 2 12 0z. cans of pop. Luckily the fish was phenomenal and so were the chips! It was worth the price for the food, the experience and to say we have been their.

After I got done washing dishes to pay for lunch, Bren and I head back out into the city. The last time we were there, we hit almost everything from Little Italy North to Central Park. This time while we had time to kill before the game we headed South. Brenna wanted to at least be able to see the Statue of Liberty so we jumped on the train and headed South. We got off at the World Trade Center. It was a humbling experience looking out into a big empty void where 2 of the largest buildings in the world once stood. It was good to see construction on the new Liberty Tower going on though. After touring the area we headed down to Battery Park where we got to see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and enjoy the park itself. From there we rounded the tip and headed back north to the Fulton Fish Market and the 17th Pier on the South Street Seaport. From there we headed back into Central Manhattan until we decided to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. A very cool thing to do. Had some great views of the city while suspended over the middle of the East River! Once we finally got off the Bridge walkway in Brooklyn we hit the Subway looking to head to Queens to go to the game. Well, there was no Direct line between Brooklyn and Queens which was bullshit so we headed back into Manhattan where we transferred to the now famous from John Rocker Number 7 Train . Our stop, Willets Point - Shea Stadium!

It was good to be back in a Major League Park again. I was looking forward to chowing down a Nathan's Famous. The only place a hotdog tastes good is in a baseball park. Unfortunately, Nathan's just wasn't up to par. I guess I gotta give Joey Chesnutt more credit for eating 59 of those fuckers in 12 minutes. However the beer and peanuts were good and so was the game. The Mets offense forgot to show up scoring 3 hits in the game while the Cards had 8. At the end of 9 innings though, it was tied at 1 as we entered free baseball! In the bottom of the 11th Shawn Green stepped to the plate for the Mets and launched a shot to right field. Looking for a walk-off, the crowd of 40K plus was disappointed as the ball sailed foul. No worry because just as we all had sat back down green sent an offering soaring into the night air hitting the score board in deep right field for a walk-off home run victory!!! Tough break for Brenna, but I was happy at least!

After the game it was back to the hotel and the next morning we made our way back to Rochacha. Made great time getting back and in all had a great time.

Keeping the busy week going, on the 28th, my favorite band the Cherry Poppin' Daddies hit Rochester for a concert in the High Falls area. The Hesh in me was ecstatic because not only could I see the Daddies, but the concert was free as well. Steve Perry and the boys put on a great show playing for over 2 hours. Not bad for a free show. Keyboardist Dustin Lanker was classic on the board. My man was a spazz and great to watch. The Daddies hit just about every song I wanted to hear and then some. The best part about the show was the fact the Daddies didn't dick around with the music. Its not a secret that I as a rule I despise live music, especially concerts from well known artists. Too many times the singers or bands invoke their "artist creativity" to completely fuck up a song. Listen asscan's...I'm at your concert to hear the music that made me like you in the first place. When you start changing shit around in a live environment 99% of the time it sucks. This goes for rappers, hair bands, country artists, legends, rock 'n rollers, everyone. Thankfully The CPD's didn't do this. It was a hell of a show and one of the best concerts I've been to in a very long time. Hopefully the boys from Eugene Oregon make it out to the East Coast more often!

Through the wonder that is Netflix, Bren and I watched the movie "Shooter" last Sunday. While the plot may not be entirely plausible, the movie itself was very good. This got me to thinking...Mark Wahlberg (of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch "Fame") is a damn good actor. In pretty much everything I have seen him in, especially recently dude has been solid. From "Three Kings" to "4 Brothers" to "Shooter", even in that horrid movie "The Departed" he was excellent. I remember being in High School and horrified every time "Good Vibrations" was heard. All he was was Vanilla Ice who didn't get worked over by Suge Knight. Another white rapper who gained fame with the teenage girls of the time, but not with true rap music fans. Somewhere along the lines he dropped making records and started acting. Thankfully for us and to his credit he hasn't used his fame as an actor to return to the mic and drop another "album". I mean in a time when Paris Hilton is making records, it has to be tough not to hit the studio and cut a new record. As long as Dirk stays out the studio, I'll continue to see his movies and give him the credit he now deserves.

This past weekend was a bad one for all Buffalo Sabres fans. Despite the Sabres choke job this year in the playoff's, the team was poised to matter for a long time. The HSBC Arena in Buffalo is sold out for every home game and there are another 10-15,000 fans watching on a big screen in an overflow area as well. Canuck teams don't even get that. A town sick and tired of watching their football team get mismanaged right into the ground finally had something to cheer for...until as I said this past weekend. Buffalo's co-captains, both free agents left for greener financial pastures with the Rangers and Flyers. Pretty sad actually. All the Rangers can offer is a shitload of cash and not much chance of a Stanley Cup. Philly offers a ton of cash and the ability to get mercifully booed by Philly Fan after a bad night. Stanley Cup not in their future. Buffalo however had everything going for it. While they are a small market team that doesn't generate the revenue that the bog boys do, they have been turned into a solid team by Owner and Rochestarian Tom Golisano . He has turned the team into a winner from a team that was on the verge of bankruptcy and a move to some southern U.S. city. He helped to create something we can all be proud of. Even Hockey's year layoff didn't kill support for the Sabres like it did in several other cities. But this is bad news for the Sabres. Losing 2 of the best players on the team weakens the team. They might still be a playoff team, but they are no longer a Stanley Cup team now. Sports fans are fickle. Things like this will turn off the casual Hockey Fan such as myself. Like with the NBA, I was a big NHL Fan back in the '80's and early '90's, but the game changed...for the worse. It just didn't capture my interest like is did before. Almost all Hockey teams are facing this, and this is why they are struggling to hang onto major sport status. Baseball, Football, even the NBA with its 30 plus million a year players can get away with this. Hockey can't. It's too bad that the players don't realize this. If they don't, fans like me will dry up and the diehards that are left won't be enough to keep things going. At that point there will be no more 52 million dollar over paid contracts being handed out. Soccer on Ice will dry up, and NASCAR will officially replace Hockey as one of the 4 major sports.