Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Beach Comes To Day Care

Last week's theme for the Summer picture day at day care was the beach. I told the photographer to say the word "Cowabunga!" a few times to get Benjamin to smile. He learned the word last week watching a video and now he cracks up laughing each time he hears it.

As usual, for a larger picture, double click the picture.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.

His Hall of Fame plaque says it better than I can.

Arrived at the ballpark every day with a burning desire to perform at his highest level. Dedication and work ethic resulted in a record 2,632 consecutive games played from May 30, 1982 through September 19, 1998, earning him the title of baseball's "Iron Man". In 21 seasons, collected 3,184 hits and 431 home runs, and was named to 19 consecutive all-star teams. Won Rookie of the Year honors, two MVPs and two gold glove awards. His Orioles won the 1983 World Series and he hit .336 in 28 post season games.

Baltimore Sun coverage here.

The Man, The Myth by Dave Sheinin

My baseball idol, period. Thank you Cal for all you did for baseball, the Orioles and fans all over. I loved watching him play and felt fortunate to have gone to so many Orioles games throughout his career at both Memorial Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Easily the highlight of my baseball experiences was being able to get to a game during the 1983 World Series in which the Orioles won 4 games to 1 over Philadelphia. Cal caught the final out in that series. I will never forget that.

I do plan to take Benjamin on a Father-Son trip to Cooperstown one day.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

New Home Run Champ Soon

As I write this Barry Bonds has 753 home runs. Henry Aaron is Major League Baseball's all time home run king with 755. I was twelve years old when Aaron hit his 715th homer on April 8, 1974. Hard to believe this record is about to be broken again.

Flashback to April 1974. I was in sixth grade, too young to fully understand all that was going on in the world but I was a huge baseball fan. When Aaron hit number 715 all I could think about was I had seen the greatest sports record fall. The next day I devoured all the sports pages (We had the Washington Post and the Washington Star then), bought all the sports weekly's (Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News) and I even made sure I had every Hank Aaron baseball card that came out commemorating the record. I know I talked a lot about this with my Grandfather, who saw Babe Ruth play when the Yankees came to Griffith Stadium to play the Senators.

Since Aaron's record is going to fall soon, there is an excellent book that has been out for a couple years called Hank Aaron And The Home Run That Changed America by Tom Stanton

This book details Aaron's chase to top Ruth. I picked this up on a whim at a book store while on vacation in South Carolina and I'm glad I did as I've enjoyed Stanton's other works as well.

Hank Aaron And The Home Run That Changed America describes a little bit about Babe Ruth and also little bit about Aaron's childhood, his upbringing and early career accomplishments. The majority of the book takes place between homers #710 and #715 and describes how hard it was for Aaron to mentally survive what amounted to two seasons to break the record. (He ended the 1973 season with 713 homers). It told of all the death threats, hate mail, and concerns Aaron had for his family. After he passed Ruth, Aaron was quoted as saying "Thank God it's over." After reading this book, one can see why he said that.

I'm not much of a Barry Bonds fan but I'm still going to tune in and watch.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Benjamin the Music Critic

Not a whole lot going on this week. My Mom was up visiting and got to spend some quality time with Benjamin. During this time we kept playing over and over Benjamin's favorite song, "The Wheels on the Bus" from his Baby Einstein CD collection.

Last night I decided to add a couple versions of this song from iTunes and I selected Tree House Kids. It's got a nice beat to it and I heard previews of the album and I liked it. With a trip to North Carolina coming up, I may end up purchasing this for the ride to keep Benjamin occupied.

The one version of the song I thought was interesting was this by Roger Daltrey and Laura Hall. Daltrey voices the character named Argon the Dragon, who is the driver of the bus and tells everyone to "Move on back".

I broke these out this morning and on the drive over to Benjamin's day care we listened to them. When we got to day care, he wanted to stay in the car and listen more. So instead of doing that, I explained we had to go but we could go over to see the busses that were in the parking lot. Benjamin was happy and singing each part as I showed him where the wheels, the door and the wipers were.

Tonight when I got home, he was begging to hear his favorite song and I started to play all three versions. When they came on, he didn't want to hear the Baby Einstein or Treehouse Kids version. He was excited to hear the Roger Daltrey version. After we listened to it, I started to play the other versions again and he said "No, No, No! Move on back!".

So I downloaded this tonight:

Benjamin's got quite a music collection with almost 500 songs on my iPod. After he was born, we got a lot of nice children's CD's as gifts which I downloaded. I also went to the public library and borrowed some other children's music CD's. Having his music to go has been great. Between the JBL Soundstage and iTrip gadget, we can hear music and stories anywhere.

Next week I introduce him to Springsteen.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Benjamin's New Toy

In the Summer we usually see rabbits out in the neighborhood during the day and in the evening when we take Benjamin out for his walk. They are harmless, generally hanging out and nibbling on grass and fleeing when people get near them. Since it has been very hot here the last couple days, wild animals will do anything to stay cool. This morning as I was leaving the house, I discovered a small hole with a lot of dirt and mulch moved around. I covered it up and went to work. Today I came home and saw that during the day the dirt had been moved around again. I took some dirt and rocks from the wooded area in the back yard and filled up the hole. Then I went to the hardware store and got a stone ornament to put over area and hopefully this will discourage further digging.

At the hardware store, I saw this plastic owl and since Benjamin loves owls, I decided to get this for him. This is supposed to be used in a garden to scare off animals but it put a big smile on Benjamin's face instead.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Tiger Tournament

A year ago I posted about how the PGA Tour was dropping Washington from its schedule effective this year. Well, four months ago another PGA Tour stop (The International) in Colorado lost its sponsor and the tour said their event would cease to exist without a sponsor. So Tiger Woods and AT&T stepped up and grabbed the open date. The result is we have a star studded invitational event here at Congressional Country Club hosted by the world's best golfer.

Of course I had to check this out and I did so today. There were No Cameras signs posted everywhere, but this didn't stop me from sneaking my little digital Nikon in. I have to maintain the quality that the fifteen daily readers have come to know and expect when they tune in here. As usual, for a larger version of the photo, double click. Here goes:

I got my pairings sheet and decided to follow Tim Herron and Rich Beem. Tim Herron's caddy, Scotty Steele, is a friend of Mike C., who a friend of mine. I briefly met up with Scotty on #11 and chatted with him while there was a break in play. After introducing myself, I told him how I grew up with Mike C. and his brothers. He was telling me he met up with Mike and they went to the Nats game the prior evening. In closing, Scotty said to go back and follow better golfers as at that point they were struggling. I marched on with them and completed the round with them.

One thing I noticed when following this group. The PGA Tour puts a small white mark on the green where the next day's hole placement will be. The caddy who is not tending the pin, walks over and measures the distance where this hole will be to the end of the green. Then he makes a notation in his yardage book. I assume the caddies share this info with one another after the round. There's a ton of money to be won at these events so any advantage one can get out there could mean thouands of dollars to his boss.

Tim Herron and Rich Beem shake hands on 18 green as they finish their round

After Herron and Beem finished on 18, I went over and saw Tiger Woods on the practice green for a bit. I was in a good position to snap a photo but I didn't want his caddy Steve Williams busting me for doing so. Steve's been known to confront pic happy fans and the last thing I wanted was a police escort to the shuttle bus area. You could see the intensity in Tiger's eyes as he was stroking putts. When Tiger was done, I went over to the practice range for a view of the first hole. While Tiger was on the tee there were a ton of people lined up all around the first hole, shuffling around and making noise. At the range to the left of #1 and all the spectators was Vijay Singh, who was bashing practice balls before his tee time totally focused and in a zone. I'm not much of a Vijay fan but I will say he's got one of the sweetest golf swings I've seen.

I did catch Jesper Parnevik practicing on the range.

After Tiger blasted his tee shot on #1, I decided against weaving in and out of people to follow Tiger so I went back out again away from Tiger. Among the golfers I saw were Justin Leonard, Tommy Armour III and Boo Weekley. Weekley has been on Steve Czaban's show on Fox Sports Radio a couple times and I've found it hard not to like this guy. In listening to him, you get the feeling he's just an average guy who just happens to be a very good golfer. He's got one victory on tour this year and lost in a playoff at another. When I caught up to his group, he was stuffing tobacco chew in his mouth, he gets to his ball, looks at the pin placement, spits, then hits his shot to within ten feet of the pin.

Before I left the course, I went to back to hole #13 which is a par three. Why? My father, some of his golfing pals and I were volunteer marshals at the Kemper Open. I joined their group in '82 and was there through the last Kemper in '86. When we marshaled, this hole was #12 and we were on TV a bit as CBS coverage picked up the tournament as the leaders were passing through. Anyway, here is a shot of this hole.

When I got home and was reading the online Post articles, I came across this gem.

Kevin Stadler, who was paired with Tiger Woods in the third round, was 1 over par entering No. 13. The pin was tucked in the far left corner of the green (to the right as you look at my pic I posted), and he went after it with a 6-iron. "I hit it flush, a little left of the hole," Stadler said. "I never expected it was going to go in. It took a hop in the right direction." Stadler never saw his ball land in the cup. He was walking toward the green when the crowd roared.

"It was great," Stadler said. "That was probably the most thoroughly enjoyable round of golf I've had in who knows how long."

Stadler, who's father Craig won the Kemper Open in 1981 and 1982, shot 69 as did Tiger.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day 2007

I took Benjamin to the park early in the morning. He had some fun and made a few friends along the way. We had a nice day off from our regular routine and plan to cook outside tonight and will catch the fireworks from the DC Mall on TV. Happy Fourth of July everyone!