… and hold the phone

About a week ago it hit me, and I just started smiling. 

I remembered back to a day in October 2004.  It felt the same.  I was driving down bridge street in maine to pick up my lovely girlfriend (she’s now my wife) to bring her to the airport.  I was blaring a few songs on the radio – the crucial first half of my 2004 playoff mix.  I was overcome with the sense that something special was going to happen.  You see, my plan was to take Nicole to the Airport, then go to TGI Fridays with my parents to watch the Sox complete a sweep of the Angels.  An old man at the toll booth asked me if they were going to do it (he saw my hat).  They did it.

When I realized that we were going to the playoffs, I mean when it really set in, I think I just sat there smiling like an idiot for a good 15 minutes.  I always say that April baseball is full of hope.  For some people, October is the same way, and for me, it’s that way again.  For 2007 nothing short of a title was the goal when everything was lined up.  This year, I do not know if we are going to win or lose.  I’m cautiously optomistic, and cannot wait for 10:07.  Optimism is a fun thing, and we should all use it more.

The mix CD tradition metamorphisized into a laptop playlist for 2007, and, well, that worked out pretty well.  The trick is to play the right songs at the right time.  Let me take this time to share this year’s version with you:

1: Duke Ellington’s Star Spangled Banner from Newport

2: Center Field (John Fogarty)

3: For Boston (Dropkick Murphys)

4; Surrender (same) – and by the way, this has to be one of the best new songs to come out to inspire sports fans.  Listen to it, and play a montage of Celtics clips from 2007/2008 in your mind and tell me it is not tailor-made for this sort of thing.

5: Warrior’s Code (same) – This one I’ll play for Lester’s starts

6: Gyro Ball – for Dice

7: Rockstar (Nickleback) – for Beckett’s starts

When a 4th starter is clear, I’ll add his song in.

8: State of Massachusetts (Dropkick Murphys) – for any in-game situation that requires anger

9. Movin on Down the Line (Black Crowes) – If things are going well

10:  Street Fighting Man (Crowes cover) – see #8, also good for a bruhaha or a donnybrook

11: SOS (Aerosmith) – need an Aerosmith song

12. Take Me out to the Ballgame (Buffett version) – you know when

13. Sweet Caroline – you know when

14. I’m Shipping up to Boston (Dropkick Murphys) – you know when

15. Dirty Water (Standells) – you know when

16. Tessie – you know when

17. Beautiful Day (U2) – a hard addition to make, but it reminds me of Superbowl 36, and that one felt pretty damn good.

 

Enjoy, and play along when the moment is right, and GO SOX.

 

Medical Fact of the Day – Impaired fasting glucose is more of a component when the A1C is greater than 9 or so, while 6-9 is more likely due to postprandial glucose spikes.

 

 

At least the wings were good

I was in a car accident once, and the only way I know how to tell the story begins the night before, at my friend Justin’s house.

 

It’s Saturday night in the coastal town of Beverly, Massachusetts.  The sea air filled my friend’s home.  I do not remember why he was having a party, but I do know that the Patriots were having their first preseason contest in defense of their miraculous first World Championship, and that he had ample beverages remaining from his brother’s wedding.  Actually, I think that’s why he threw the party … because he could.  Anyay, I’d already decided to make it an early evening, so I abided by his rule that more than one drink meant I had to stay the night. 

 

My plans changed, however, when I learned that some other friends of mine may be coming, and hell, I had met a pretty girl anyway, so I cracked my second beer with kickoff.  It turns out that my other friends could not make it, the pretty girl was only interested in talking football, and the Patriots lost to the (… gimme a minute to look it up …) Giants (… gimme a minute to consider the cosmic implications of all that … gimme a minute to be sick … ok, we’re good).  Well, I figured, a night out is a night out, so I should make the most of it and go out to the porch, where I was stung by a yellow-jacket resting on the ledge.  I was able to locate him, look him in the eye and squash him, but only after he put a small hole in my forearm, and made me the center of attention for a couple of minutes.  The night progressed, I had fun, and have vague recollections of my buddy’s girlfriend vomiting and cursing at him. 

 

I awoke with a sizeable erythematous patch on the inner aspect of my left forearm.  Throughout the day it grew larger, and I figured that I needed evaluation, especially in the light of recent news reports of infections on the coast from similar circumstances.  Unfortunately, I needed to go to the emergency room at my local hospital for this because it as Sunday and walk-in clinics were closed.  I was treated for a mild cellulitis and sent on my way. 

 

I then was making a left turn onto my street, the same left turn I made nearly every day of my life, against an oncoming car making a left turn to the opposite side.  We waved each other on, and as I made my turn, GMC towing a fishing boat with a cooler in it (no accusations, but let’s consider that for a second) speeding in the breakdown lane tagged me on my passenger side, lifing the car slightly, thrusting my leg out the window (somehow) and sending me idling nearly into a furniture store until I found the good sense to throw it into park.  I was ok (and comically brought right back to the same ER from which I had just been discharged), but Little Bandit was dead.

 

I recounted all those events in my head leading up to the precise moment when my car and his were attempting to occupy the same space and time.  Why did I go to the party … I was invited.  Why did I stay … friends, football (gonna be sick again), pretty girl.  Why did I get stung by the bee … I was resting my arm on the ledge.  Why did I go to the hospital … stung by the bee.  Any number of things could have happened differently … hospital waiting time more or less, pharmacy waiting time more or less, one more or one fewer red light, stopped for a snack along the way, dog in the road, anything. 

 

Because of all these variables, for a while I was in absolute disbelief that my car had been britalized.  When that faded away, and after the policeman who for some reason was in my backyard had given me a citation for reasons I still cannot comprehend, I was left only with one feeling – I wish that hadn’t happened.  It was one of the first times that I had no control over something that did not go my way in such a profound manner.  A million little things came together.  There was no way to prevent it, no way to have “tried harder” to avoid it, and nobody with pins in a likeness of me trying to make it happen – what happened, happened, and I wish that it hadn’t happened.  There was nothing I could have done differently.  It happened. 

 

Obviously, life went on, and good things and bad things continued to happen.  I’m sitting under my screen porch writing this on my day off 6 years later, no bruises or any other sequellae from the incident, although I am more cautious when turning onto my parents’ street.  I drive a nicer car.  I married a prettier girl.  That feeling, however, I’ll never forget.  It was worse than the sound of metal crunching and tires squeeling.  It cast a shadow.  It was palpable.  It hurt.

 

Sunday morning was the culmonation of 7 long months of waiting.  Football could not return to me quickly enough after the, um, unpleasantness.  I went to work, but had plans.  To commemorate the occasion, I was even going to try a new twist on my Never-Fail-Best-around-and-I-Dare-You-to-Prove-Me-Otherwise Hot Wings.  I just wanted, more than anything, to see Tom Brady throw a pass, maybe a slant route to Welker, or a 20 yard bullet to Moss.  Unfortunately I was working, and needed to finish a few things prior to lighting the grill.

 

My lovely wife gave me the bad news when I called to tell her I would miss the first quarter.  My brother and I had spoken at length on this very topic, as recently as last month.  Everyone gets injured, even someone with a 3 rings, even an MVP, and especially someone with a bull’s-eye on him for having done all that and nearly run the table on a remorseless wrecking machine of a football team.  He was due.  It was due.

 

“You’re not going to want to watch this,” she said with a fleck of trepidation in her voice.  “Brady’s hurt.”

 

Stage 1 – Denial – Well, it can’t be that bad.  Paul Pierce looked like he was done and was hitting 3s from the locker room in no time.

Stage 2 – Anger – They must have done that on purpose.

Stage 2b – call from Nick while I was going home – Why is Matt Cassel in the game?

Stage 3 – Bargaining – Well, if he needs 4 weeks off, one of them is the bye, and we can lose 3 of those games and still be a 10-6 or 11-5 team, win the division and make the playoffs and get that 4th ring.

Return to stage 1 after watching the play for the first time – No not that bad, he’ll be back.

Stage 3 again – Right?

Stage 4 – Depression (after seeing it from another angle) – this is bad.  We’re screwed.

Return to stage 2 again after seeing that little hiccup lunge from what’s-his-name into Brady’s legs – I swear loudly, forgetting that the windows are open, and my wife reminds me that it’s Sunday.

Stage 4 again …

…for a while …

 Stage 5 – Acceptance – We can still make some noise this year.  He can rehab, and come back even stronger, sure, not with quicker feet but with a stronger and sharper arm, and his eyes will be the same, right?  Yeah, next year, and this year will sure be interesting to watch. 

Stage 5a – run the list of free agent QBs

Return to stage 4, and then back to stage 5.

 

As you can see, Sunday was a busy day for me.  By the end, after I hurt my arm punching my heavybag, I had that same feeling from a Sunday 6 years earlier – I wish that hadn’t happened.  It was just as heavy, and I felt just as powerless.

 

The sun rose and set, and rose and set, and rose again.  Life will go on. 

 

There is a lot of hatred out there on the internet.  A computer screen and a million miles of cable separating people make them think they can spew whatever they want.  True or not, people who do not watch this man play every week seem giddy about it.  Karma, they say.  A certain Herald writer wrote today of losers on couches not knowing what to do with themselves (I hope that was intended to be satire, although if it was, it was so poorly executed that he really needs to find another line of work).  I can understand not rooting for him if you were born under the star of the Steel City, but to hate the man?  To quote Josephine from Tombstone – “[He was] Better than all of you  … I don’t understand any of this, I only know it’s ugly.  You’re all ugly.  And he was beautiful, he tried to put something fine into your ugly world and you killed him for it.”  Not exactly a perfect fit but you get the idea.

 

Here’s why I like Tom Brady – he’s the best ever (wait 10 seconds for Colts fans to get mad and curse at me … 4 .. 3 .. 2 .. 1 … we good?  OK) but he does not care.  His favorite thing to do is play football, and he does it better than anybody.  He keeps trying to better himself.  He says that all we can ask for is an opportunity, that’s all that can be given to us, and we need to do the rest.  He made the most of his opportunity.  He has more talent than anybody and does not waste a drop of it.  It is a pleasure to watch him do his job, then something happened, and I wish that it hadn’t happened.  A million little things could have gone differently and number 12 would still be throwing for us, but there is nothing we could have done differently.  It happened. 

 

We have a new team to root for.  We’re back to where it all began.  We are underdogs again.  This time, however, we know what winning feels like, and how to get there.  Before, it seemed impossible, and now we know that it is.  This season will have more twists and turns, and will likely leave us without that shiny silver trophy again, but that’s no guarantee.  A million little things brought us to this moment, and now we have to deal with it.  We still have an opportunity, and that’s all we can ask for.  

 

Medical fact of the day:  The mechanism for a Terrible (or Unhappy, or O’Donoghue’s) Triad is an outside force inflicted onto the lateral aspect of the knee affecting the ACL, MCL, and medial meniscus while the foot is fixed on the ground in external rotation.

On Rituals and Wrestling Rings

When you get a chance, try to catch A&E’s "The UN-Real Story of Professional Wrestling."  You get a glimpse into why the form of entertainment is so popular.  Even if you hate the though of muscle heads pretending to punch each other, you should check it out.  I had seen it years ago, but on re watching it I was drawn more to the ending, where it is compared to the competitions watched in Ancient Rome, and parallels are drawn to the idea of rituals in society. 

We all need them, in fact I was able to be part of one this weekend, and I have to say I got a little misty-eyed.  Easter falls early this year, and, of course, Palm Sunday does too.  With that, I was able to go home to the 4pm service, have my palms blessed, and hand one to my mother exclaiming "Happy Palm-a Sunday."  The "a" is crucial, a phonation placed onto the word’s tail by my great grandmother.  A little misplaced vowel conjures up memories, smiles, and a comforting air of home.  Palm notwithstanding, there was another reason my wife and I drove the 60 miles last night post-call.  March has always been Birthday Season in my family.  In the span of 4 days, you can celebrate the births of my father, brother, and grandmother.  There has always been one cake with three names and 3 sets of candles in a warm house with a warm (usually Chinese) food buffet.  Traditions get lost sometimes, and I cannot remember the last Big Cake we had, until last night.  We’ve taken a few trips around the sun since the last one, but there we were all again, like the many people in church, sitting in the same place since my last visitation upon the ritual.  There’s nothing wrong with an occasional orbicular path, as long as you’re not just wearing out a path in the carpet as you go.  I return to it a married physician, my brother with one on the way.  Growth and change is celebrated during these rituals alongside familiarity – that’s what it’s supposed to be about.

Another ritual that is upon us is the Madness – 63 (plus one play in) basketball games to determine whose college reigns supreme.  It is among my favorite sports rituals.  I’ve already set up my Bracket league, my wife having urged me to get it done (props to Mrs Jumper for being the first to join … her bracket name reflects her first as a Mrs).  Why are we drawn to this tournament?  I think it is because we can have a part in it.  I cannot tell you who won the last 3 championships without a quick Google search, but I can tell you that I buy a new highlighter every year for my bracket, and that last year I lost despite having accurately predicted the entire Final Four (I just picked the wrong team to win).  I have a strategy, I stick by it, and I believe that it will prevail as friends and I watch intently.  Why else would my buddy Agersta call me to watch basketball games at 4pm on a Thursday afternoon at some bar in Maine, followed by a brief trip to a casino, followed by more basketball games at 8pm?  I’m just not that interested in George Mason – I don’t even know where the school is located and I never knew anybody who went there.  We watch because we become a part of something.  We become connected not only to a bunch of 20-year-olds dribbling a ball with whom we will likely never have any other encounter, but to each other.  That is why we have ritual in the first place.  That is why a priest blessed palm leaves so that I could give them out.  That is why I went home to eat cake.   

Before the ritual of opening day comes this ritual of the close of a college basketball season so get a highlighter and a bracket and become part of something.  I like Yahoo’s setup personally, but as long as you do something by Thursday, you’re cool.

I must double my efforts though if I want to get the baseball ritual on track again, so here it goes:

2 nicknames to add to the list:

Josh "Silvertrain" Beckett

Sean "Obviously Hiding Something" Casey

As usual, they are always up for debate.

No medical fact today, but instead, I’m going to leave the link for the old 90Feet, which should satisfy your hunger for tasty medical tidbits.  Just don’t click the "next blog" icon up top.  Sometimes you get baby pictures, and sometimes you get stuff that, well, is more than objectionable.  That’s why I left that organization – too much unpleasantness from accidental clicking.  You have been warned. 

90feettohome.blogspot.com

I know that will not happen here due to the censorship that my blog has already received.  Note the last entry, they ****’d out a word that begins with q and sounds like steer.  I was not using it in a disparaging way, just to name a certain TV show in which men get a makeover from certain individuals.  That’s all, MLBlogs, really.

Colon-oscopy

This post will start what I hope to be a long line of posts that will reveal the starting lineup of nicknames for the 2008 Defending Champion Boston Red Sox.  First, a little introduction.

The problem with the 2004 season and Championship is that the entire offseason was treated like a post-prom party.  The season had a senior year feel to it – all those free agents ready to leave, a now or never feeling, the idea that you needed to do something special to get to the future.  It was actually the middle season in a championship trilogy of seasons.  Think about it.  2003: the preamble, the initiation, the stark reminder of the world we lived in and the need for change (ahem, game 7 Grady Petie Boone Wake pre tapeworm Giambi).  2004: triumph over tragedy.  2005: the aftermath, the free agents, ***** eye, things looking good on paper (ahem, Rentawreck).  When we lost to the White Sox in a series in which Schill never even took the mound, I was actually ok with it.  To me it ended a long three years, and somehow allowed me to become a real baseball fan, no longer a lovable loser, and not a vindicated championship fan.

That’s what makes the 2007 title so cool – nothing to prove, it just happened.  We won by being the best, wire to wire, and even glaring mistakes ended up going as planned (see the 14 million dollar grand slam.  Funny story, I dial my brother’s phone number about 6 seconds after the ball clears the center field wall, and he answers saying "I still (ahem) hate the b*st*rd.") 

Now a quiet offseason, with most of the personalities returning, we had plenty of time to watch the 3 Time Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots go 18 and 0.  I liked this offseason, despite the whole thing with our closer wanting more money.  I’m watching a little spring ball here and there, it’s rejuvenating.  Well, with the occasional injury here, our big fat acquisition has gotten a little bigger, and a little fatter.  And you know what, it’s about **** time he’s here, ladies and gentleman, put your hands together for The Man, the Big Chalupa, The Next President of the United States, Bartolo "Last Stop" Colon.  This is one of those things you dream of … or used to dream of, you know, 10 years ago.  I’m looking at it like a rejuvenation, like what we did with Seau, who now needs surgery … again.

The fact is that the Repeat Bandwagon seriously needs Last Stop’s chubby right arm to stay on the tracks.  I’m predicting 14 wins, 8 losses, a 4.12 ERA, and a whole lotta huffing and puffing. 

Medical fact of the day: bone mineral content, not bone cross sectional area, is increased by high intensity resistance training.

The Day After

Welcome to version 2.0: a rebirth, a renewal, and a return.  I hope you enjoy it.

I will start this post with a little vignette from the old 90feet.  The human ear is an incredible structure.  Within it are not only direct connections to the brain that begin the absolute miracle of processing sound waves, but also the bits and pieces that form a little gizmo that senses balance.  Did you ever wonder how you can lie on a couch and not think your TV is sideways, or how the world feels like it’s spinning if you move your head too fast?  In short, it’s a pool of fluid with little tiny hair-like cells in it.  They sway with you, and the fluid, and send signals help you determine where your noggin is in space.  There is one catch – it is organic, and subject to laws that govern all organic structures.  One in particular is the transport of fluid across a semi-permeable membrane.  Remember that one?  The salt goes one way, the fluid goes with it.  My whole life seems to deal with fluid gradients.  Well, when you drink enough alcohol, that fluid in your ears has a small change in its solute concentrations.  This causes a shift across the membrane, and fluid flows.  The Creator gave us backup, though, as long as the system is not too overwhelmed – our eyes looking at objects and our feet on the ground also send signals to the brain, and they come together to form our complete picture in space.  Ear gizmo notwithstanding, two can beat one, and we don’t fall over when the see the bottom of our third Sam Adams.  There is one catch – we go to bed feeling well, but our concentration gradient is still altered.  The room is dark, and we are lying flat.  We no longer have our backup in place.  That is where the old college lore of "I felt fine, but went to bed too soon" after drinking comes into play, the fluid shift makes the hair cells sway, and gives the impression of motion.  Suddenly, you feel like you have been drinking much more heavily than you had been, and you need to stand up or do something.

I have experienced that myself in the past.  Last night was just the opposite.  As the last pass sailed over Moss’s outstretched arms, I stood up, and thanked my guests for coming.  I packed food for my brother’s wife and made sure that everyone took some leftovers.  This was the first Superbowl we watched together in years – in fact, the Sox ’07 World Series was the first title we ever watched happen together.  We hugged, and did not need to speak.  I let the helium out of my football-shaped Patriots balloon (do with the symbolism what you will).  I opened the first champagne that I ever bought in a losing effort and poured it down the drain.  My lovely wife hugged me, and I had to take some time to explain to her that I did not mean what I said when I called it "the worst thing ever," but that such hyperbole is a necessary part of the life that I live.  We washed the dishes, and quietly reassembled our apartment.  I passed a vacuum and took a shower.  I went to bed, not too soon after a night of drinking, but too late.  The Double Bock and White, the Old Fez and the Cranberry Lambic were starting to wear off as I rest on my pillow.  It was there that I began to feel the punch to the gut.  I had forgotten how this felt.  I was very tired, but remained awake for a while.  There had to be some more time on the clock.

This was not like the AFC Championship last year, which rendered me silent for 36 hours.  We were playing with borrowed money.  We were not the best team the week before that, and we pulled it our.  I can trace the entire game to one pair of wide open eyes, and a 3rd and 4 when EVERYONE went the wrong way.  Not as much was at stake, and I have on good authority that there were temperature shenanigans going on in the dome.

This is different.  Our team, MY team could have done something that nobody else has done, but they did not.  I cannot trace it back to one bad call, or one bad play.  It happened.  We got so consumed by everything that this season stood for, and now it will forever stand for something else.  It is the epitome of the 60 minutes philosophy, but it is the 19 games philosophy.  Our team, MY team was not the better team.  Our team, MY team, get this, deserved to lose and they did.  You could argue that they deserved to lose several games this season but did not.  Like an overzealous security guard told me when he though I was sneaking beer at Greatwoods (I was 25 at the time dammit) as I was producing my ID and change fell out of my pocket, "you’re dropping pennies soon you’ll be dropping dimes," I, um, I still don’t know what that means, but it seemed to fit this season.  Something did not seem right, and that other shoe was looming.

My friend Gary told me that there are no words.  I disagree.  I called my father on my way to the dentist.  Mind you, during the third quarter, he and I spoke briefly and he anticipated a loss based on their play and did not seem too broken up about it.  I asked how he was doing, expecting his usual speech about how these athletes do not care about me, so I should not get so wrapped up in them.  The older I get, the more true it feels.  When I had difficulty with the boards, Tom Brady didn’t come running.  My father always has a way of bringing me down to earth when I need it most.  He would have the answers.

"How you doing dad?"

"I didn’t sleep last night."

I could have wept right there. 

"That guy had glue on his helmet or something.  One play, they had his jersey."

They got him too.  Everyone I know was wrapped up in this entire season.  Give whatever reason you want, it happened.  This season had a special feel to it.  We picked up two important role players in Wes and Donte.  Then we got Adalius, who HATES Peyton Manning … he just hates him, for some reason, like how dogs hate cats for some reason.  The best footage of our first-round draft choice clearly shows him kicking someone in the head.  Then we got the biggest, baddest thug to be our deep threat.  To paraphrase Val Kilmer’s Doc Holiday, this was not a revenge, but a reckoning.  We wanted to destroy everything in our path, and for 18 games, we did just that.  Then it all ended, and that’s that.

We have not felt this in a while.  Papelbon’s last strikeout in the World Series seems like a lifetime ago, but it happened, and I have the DVDs to prove it.  Remember, the days like these make the good times what they are.  "Ken Walter will hold, Lonnie Paxton will snap, 48 yards angled to the left for Vinatieri" mattered as much as it did because of the years of pain that came before.  "Back to Foulke" had millions of tears before it so it could have millions more tears of joy after it.  I am not saying that we are being reborn into the loser fans of years ago, but we are being reminded of where we came from.  This has all been too easy.  We have taken too much for granted.  We are sports fans through highs and lows, and there will be lows. 

I ran some errands and got my teeth cleaned today (under the gums under local anesthesia, try it sometime).  I told my dentist that he did not need the local anesthetic.  He knew what I meant.  I looked strangers in the eye today, and we exchanged the most heartfelt how-are-you-doings I have ever exchanged with strangers.  The streets are strangely quiet.

I called my friend Justin, who is one of the best fans I know.

"I didn’t sleep last night."

We feel this badly today because we are a part of something bigger than ourselves.  We fall as they fall, and we will rise as one together. 

This is the life we chose, and I am still **** proud to be a part of it.

Pitchers and catchers report soon, the draft is coming, mini camps will start, and it’s cool to wear green again.  The sun came out today.  Things are going to be alright.

Medical fact of the day: normally I write my own, but this one is just a straight abstract post with some interesting findings:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18234752?ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

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