The World According to Keitho

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Archive for November, 2010

Is this what baseball has come to?

Posted by keithosaunders on November 30, 2010

Today, on my way to checking my fantasy teams, I happened upon a yahoo article that I found to be one of the most cynical pieces of journa-ma-lism ever.  The article is about the Rockies having locked up their all-world shortstop, Troy Tulowitski, to a long-term, big-money contract.  The reporter, Jeff Passan, opines that Tulo was foolish not to pursue more money, as well as championships, with different teams. [read large-market]

What could’ve been, though. Oh, what could’ve been. On one hand, Tulowitzki played things safe. He was reasonable. And on the other, he lacked the fortitude to chase the greater glory that awaited him elsewhere. The money he could’ve gotten and the championships he could’ve won had he simply played out his current contract with the franchise that can’t help itself from taking a blade to its jugular.

So this is what it has come to?  Remaining loyal to one team throughout your entire career shows a lack of fortitude?!  I didn’t realize that Ernie Banks had such little gumption.  According to Passan we should look up to people like Alex Rodriguez, Cliff Lee, and Roidger Clemens — athletes who follow their dreams of glory through inevitable championships.   

Passan goes on to write

If this deal is bad for Tulowitzki, it’s ill-conceived and unconscionable for a Rockies team that knows what long-term, big-money contracts do to franchises with middling budgets: cripple them. 

So as the Rockies celebrate Tulowitzki’s new deal, they do so knowing that Ubaldo Jimenez is now likely to leave after the 2014 season. And that Carlos Gonzalez, a Scott Boras client, is certain to do so. And that rather than waiting until 2014 to figure out where to spend their money, the team went all-in on a player who has missed significant time in two of his four seasons because of injuries.

In Passon’s cynical world the chief function of teams such as the Rockies and the Washington Nationals is to serve as petri dishes for the serious contenders.  The temerity of the Rockies, to lock up this talented player, thereby denying the large-market teams the chance to tweak their already over-stuffed lineups. 

My dreams scenario for 2011:  The Rockies win the NL West by 10 games and breeze to the Series by beating the Cards and Phillies in the playoffs.  In the Series they sweep the New York Yankees on the strength of Troy Tulowitzki’s 4 homerun, 10 RBI performance. 


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And now for some Thanksgiving weekend taping foibles

Posted by keithosaunders on November 29, 2010

My friend, Jeff Mazzei, and I have spent many a fine afternoon recounting taping foibles; that is failed attempts at setting the VCR timer.  Yes, you read correctly, VCR.  I’m old school, baby!  Some of these anecdotes were recounted here.  As a kind of coda to the Thanksgiving weekend I present to you two more taping foibles of a most recent vintage.

Today I awoke to the good news that my New York Giants were getting some Bay Area television play.  This was a by-product of the hapless Raider’s inability to sell out their stadium.  The Raiders had a late game against Miami.  If that game had sold out it would have been televised in this market, thereby necessitating an early FOX game.  (the Giants were at home vs the AFC Jacksonville Jaguars which put them on CBS)  Instead we were treated to an early CBS game, the Giants, and a late FOX game, the Eagles vs da Bears.

I had an early brunch gig in San Francisco so I quickly sprung into action, setting my DVR (yes, I have moved into the 21st century) to record the Giants.  I checked and double checked and everything seemed to be in order.  I went to the gig without a worry in the world.

I arrived at the gig to find that there was a TV in the bar showing the Giants game.  No worries.  We were playing in a different part of the restaurant and the other musicians didn’t seem to sports fans.  Wrong.  The trumpet player arrived and quickly announced that he was the first cousin of David Girard, the Jaguar quarterback.

What are the odds?  You tape a game and end up playing a gig with the cousin of the quarterback of one of the teams you are taping!  Needless to say the trumpet player kept going into the bar to check on the score and he was not shy about letting us know that the Jaguars were kicking butt.  (they had an early 17-9 lead) 

By the first break I had abandoned all hope of avoiding the score so I happily joined the trumpet player in the bar for some third quarter action.  The Jags had the ball and were driving when the Giants D came up big for a stop.  A punt pinned the Giants at their own 10 and I boldly announced that they would drive 90 yards for the tying touchdown and two point conversion.  And they did.  We had to go back to work and by the time we finished the Giants had a 24-20 comeback win.  I wish I could have seen the entire game but at least I had a brush with greatness. 

Now for the rarest of rarities:  A taping non-foible!  Here it is in Jeff Mazzei’s own words.

Here’s my taping tale.  I opted to not tape any of the Thanksgiving games on the assumption that I’d hear or see the scores anyway, and I was getting back Sunday for the live games.  [Jeff was on vacation in Cape May, NJ]  I wound up seeing the 2nd half of the Dallas game which was real good.  I decided I’d just try to find the Jet highlights or read about it in Friday’s paper.  To this moment in time (Sunday), I have not been able to find out a thing about that game.  The taping gods mock me.

 This is the bitter irony that befalls the taper.  When you try to avoid the score you end up playing a gig with the quarterbacks’ cousin , but when you really want a score it is nowhere to be found.  Good day.

Posted in football, jazz | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Let’s talk turkey

Posted by keithosaunders on November 26, 2010

I spent Thanksgiving with my father in Las Vegas.   We had our “dinner” at 1 in the afternoon, which I initially thought to be way too early of a starting time.  In effect, however, it dovetailed perfectly with the NFL schedule allowing us to see most, if not all of the three games. 

The Lions were blown out in the early game but they did us the favour of jumping out to a big lead.  True, they gave us false hope of an improbable upset over Bill Belichick and the hated Patriots, but hey, they kept it close until the 4th quarter thereby giving us more joy than we had a right to expect from this ill begotten team.

We were finished with “dinner” by 2:30 which allowed us to repair to the living room for the  Dallas-New Orleans contest.  By the time we got to it the score was 17-0 Saints leading us to believe we were in for a long afternoon.  Not that either of us are Dallas fans — far from it — we just craved a competitive matchup while we digested our food.

Lo and behold the game turned around and Dallas actually went in front 27-23 late in the 4th and had the ball to boot.   When Roy Williams caught a breakaway pass late in the period it looked as if they would ice the game, but all of a sudden a defender, Malcolm Jenkins, snatched the ball away from for the turnover.  The Saints then drove 89 yards for the go-ahead score.  The game was not over, though, and Dallas actually got into position for a tieing 59 yard field goal.  The kick had the distance but went wide left.  Ballgame. 

The announcers couldn’t get over the brilliance of Jenkin’s takeaway.  To these amateur eyes, however, it looked like Williams could have covered the ball up more than he did. He has to know that even if he doesn’t score, as long as he keeps possetion, the game is probably over.   At worst it would have ended up tied going into overtime, allowing for more Thanksgiving day football!

Full disclosure:  We didn’t watch most of the Jets game.  The Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster film, Seven Days in May came on TCM and once we flipped to it during a break in the Jets game we couldn’t turn away.  It’s a tense, political thriller that seems just as relevant to today as it did in the cold war ’60s.

So there you have it.  I heartedly recommend the early Thanksgiving dinner.  It is the sports fan’s best friend.

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You can’t go home again

Posted by keithosaunders on November 25, 2010

I’m writing from Las Vegas where I am visiting my Dad.  I was happy to able to avoid humiliation at the hands of the TSA by driving down instead of flying.  The road is where I thrive and if I never had to fly again it would be OK with me.  

Funny thing about driving from San Francisco to Las Vegas;  there is no direct route.  You have to drive miles out of your way because there isn’t a road that cuts through southeast through the San Gabriel Mountains.  You end up driving around the horn and it is a 10 hour trip.  On my way, in order to break up the driving, I stopped off in my hometown of Los Angeles and had dinner with some old friends at a restaurant in Sherman Oaks.  (I couldn’t believe that Hamburger Hamlet is still there right around the corner on Van Nuys blvd!) 

I could not resist stopping off at the house on Runnymede street where I grew up in Van Nuys.  It was my first time seeing it since my folks sold it in 1993.  Driving down Sherman Way was jarring and sad.  Almost every store is different.  I don’t know why I would have expected otherwise.  In New York I lived on Broadway and 108th street from 1987-90.  Ten years later almost every store had turned over.  
The first thing that struck me about my old block was how wide it seemed.  Isn’t that odd?  Things are supposed to appear smaller to you once you’ve grown up.  This was probably due to having lived in the east for so long where streets are narrow.  The street itself was still pretty with lots of large, leafy trees and plenty of flower gardens.  The upkeep of the houses were hit and miss.  Some were surprisingly nice looking.  Mine wasn’t.  In the front yard, where once had been a rose-bush, were overgrown weeds.  The house had been painted an ugly shade of dark brown.  Brown!   Once, during a storm, a tree fell on the side of the house.  We had replaced it with a baby tree which had thrived and tripled in size by the time we moved out.  That tree had been cut down. 

The ivy at the neighbor’s house across the street, where we lost dozens, if not hundreds of baseballs, was gone as was the ivy next door.  I guess the California ivy craze is officially over.   I went to the back where our basketball court had been, where once I had listened to Vin Scully announce June Dodger games while shooting free throws.  I still remember the radio sponsors —  the Olympia beer jingle and the Farmer John slogan are forever embedded in my psyche.  There was a cement wall which still exists but it looked pretty run down back there.  No one was home so I didn’t get to see the inside.
Then I went two houses down to see if our neighbor still lived there.  It looked like nobody was home but all of a sudden a car pulled up and there she was!  She didn’t recognize me at first but she was surprised and happy to see me.  She invited me in and made me breakfast.  Her house looked much as I remembered it — the back yard almost exactly.  The best part was that even though she must be 80 she appears to be vibrant and in good health.  

 Here at my Dad’s we have been looking at tons of old photos.  I have seen several of old school friends, as well as family photos taken years before I was born.  Some even go back to the turn of the century.  How amazing to see old New York addresses on the photo paper — addresses I knew well from my years in that city.

There was a photo of my 6th grade class at Hazeltine Elementary School with Mrs Willet.  I couldn’t remember the names of most of the people but I recognized, Nancy Weiss, Peter Martin, Jim Ararian, and Richard Docherty.  My Dad, though he is 83 and cannot remember what he ate for dinner last night,  puts me to shame in the memory department.  When we looked at the photos of his boyhood Camp Mohaph he remembered almost every name.  
So it’s been somewhat of a melancholy trip for me.  It’s great to see old friends, as well as my father, but sad to think of the time that has elapsed and all the people who aren’t in our lives any more. 

No matter, it’s time for turkey.  Happy Thanksgiving!

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Just say no to air travel

Posted by keithosaunders on November 20, 2010

Enough is enough.  The TSA has made it clear to us that they will have their way with our bodies, whether it be by radiation exposure or excessive groping of genitalia.  Let’s face it, the experience of air travel has long ceased to be anything approaching glamorous, let alone tolerable.  Let’s exercise our last line of recourse and vote with our pocket books.  

If enough of us refused to fly the airlines would feel compelled to offer incentives as a way of drawing us back.  Number one on their priority would almost certainly be expunging the TSA from the airports and replacing them with private security.   

Since that alone would not be enough to entice this jaded traveller to return I am offering my own list of incentives.

1)  Elimination of charges for checking luggage. 

2) Ability to fully refund my ticket up to 7 days prior to flying

3) A guarantee that when I purchase a ticket that I will have a seat waiting for me.  This means that when I purchase my ticket I immediately have an assigned seat.

4) Price of in-air food decreased by 50%.

5) Two in-air drinks for the price of one.

6)  In case of flight delays exceeding 30 minutes passengers receive a $50 voucher which can be used towards future flight purchase.

7) In case of delays upwards of 60 minutes passengers receive $80 in airport VIP lounge script and lunch with John Elway. 

I’m negotiable on point 7.

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I have a dream: A world without booth reviews

Posted by keithosaunders on November 19, 2010

Sometimes it feels like I’m on an island.  I am the only one I know who would be happier if the NFL did not use instant replay.  For years we got along without it and we did just fine.  In fact, if you asked to name one important game that was lost due to lack of instant replay I would be stumped.

To be honest I don’t care if the refs get it right or not.  All I want is for the game to keep moving.  I have confidence that the refs are professional enough that they will call the play called correctly over 90% of the time.  That’s enough for me.

How many times are you enjoying an exciting game only to have it interrupted to decide whether or not both of the receiver’s feet were inbounds?  Not only does the game come to a grinding halt but we are then subjected to at least a half-dozen replays.  Not to mention the mind-numbing speculation by the announcer as to the ruling.   By the time the ref gets his ass out from behind the curtain I don’t even care if the call is reversed.  I just to see more of the damn game.

Worse still is when the game gets down to the final two minutes of the 2nd and the 4th quarters, at which point the refs upstairs decide if a play is reviewable.  They always err on the side of caution;  they will call for a booth review if the left tackle so much as sneezes. 

Under the current system it stands to reason that half of the time the call is going to go your way, meaning in favour of the team you’re rooting for, and the other half of the time you’ll be disappointed.  Wouldn’t it be exactly the same without replay?  Sometimes a bad call will go your way, sometimes it won’t.  The only difference is that without replay the game moves at a much faster pace. 

Human error is part of life.  Sometimes imperfections give it character.  I don’t care if Max Roach speeds up and I also don’t care if Chad Ochocinco is inbounds or not!

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Fear of flying

Posted by keithosaunders on November 17, 2010

Just in time for the holiday rush the TSA has rolled out the nude body scanning machines, allowing security officials to see through clothing.  Passengers may opt out of the scanners, but up to this point less than 1% have done so.  This is not surprising since opting out means enduring an invasive  pat-down complete with genital groping.  You get the feeling that if the TSA  had the technology to do it fast enough they would go ahead and submit us all to full cavity searches.

There is nothing easy about airline travel, which is an ordeal on par with root canal.  For me, the biggest indignity is being made to feel like a criminal simply by my possession of an airline ticket.  With every security breakdown we travellers are subjected to more and more nonsense.  From taking off our shoes and belts, not being able to bring water into the terminal, to having to endure groping by high-school graduate, would-be jack booted thugs.  Can that retina scanners be far in our future?

Today I read of a passenger named John Tyner who opted out of the scanners.  During the pat-down, when it became clear that the agent was about to touch his groin he said, “If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.”  This kicked off a series of consultations with supervisors that resulted in Tyner not being able to fly and being ejected from the airport.  His ordeal is detailed in his blog post and is worth reading. 

Most disturbing of all is what I read yesterday in Salon in Glenn Greenwald’s column.   He wrote,

 …the TSA called a news conference to announce that it was formally investigating Tyner to determine whether to impose $11,000 in fines on him.  

Nothing about Tyner’s protest was threatening, violent, or belligerent.  This kind of reaction makes me wonder if we are living in a proto-fascist state.  The message is clear:  Do not make waves if you know what’s good for you.


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After three months

Posted by keithosaunders on November 15, 2010

This year should have been known to me as the year I turned 50.  Instead I’ll always remember 2010 as the year I moved from New York City to San Francisco.  The first half of the year was filled with stress and tension.  In January we knew there was a good chance we were going to have to move and by the middle of March it was definite.  The remaining four months in New York were spent vainly attempting to rent and sell our apartment, packing up, and most gut-wrenchingly of all, saying goodbye to our friends.

Finally August 7th arrived and we were off on our cross-country trip.  That trip was one of my great experiences and it was well documented on this blog.  (all done on my iphone from different motels across the country)  For me it was like an enormous load off of my shoulders to have the buildup and the goodbyes over with and life on the road felt light and carefree. 

Now that I’ve been in the Bay Area for a quarter of a year and have my sea legs I have to admit that I’m enjoying life here.  It’s a beautiful part of the country — we’ve got hills all around us with plenty of places to hike, and San Francisco is a 20 minute drive or BART trip away.  I have begun to gig and am meeting more musicians each week.  I’m enjoying the newness of it.  Unlike the first half of the year when almost everything I did was for the last time, now I do things for the first time. 

Finally I have some use for all of the years of dues paying in New York City.  They seasoned me and toughened me and the result is that I am not intimidated easily.  I am still, by nature, shy and introverted, but never when I’m playing.  It’s a lot different than when I first moved to New York at which time I was unsure of myself and filled with anxiety.   

So far so good.

Posted in life, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Cliff Lee sweepstakes

Posted by keithosaunders on November 14, 2010

…or as it is known around the Bronx, a date with destiny.  Frankly, I don’t get it.  Why would Lee want to go to a franchise where it is a given that he will collect a ring?  It strikes me as a lose-lose situation for him.  Either he helps the Yankees to win a championship, in which case he simply did what was expected of him, or he fails and can take his place alongside Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown, and Carl Pavano in the pantheon of Bronx bums. 

If he stays with Texas and brings them a championship he will be a hero for the ages.  Like Tim Lincecum.  He would be the man instead of one of several stars.  In this sense the Yankees are like the Borg —   Lee can be 1 of 9. 

There is nothing new about this — we’re seeing it with LeBron James this year in Miami.  But here’s the thing:  People root against these teams.  Nobody I know is rooting for LeBron to pick up his ring.  On the contrary, we want Cleveland to (improbably) beat them in the playoffs! 

From the Yankee fan standpoint it becomes even more perplexing.  The Yankee fan will never get to experience the unbridled joy of a Giants fan.  I don’t understand where the fun comes from.  If you root for the Yankees you know that, for the most part, you are going to acquire the best free agents, and that year after year you can book your October ticket.  Sure you won’t make the Series every year but you’ll get your share of them.  Yes, they are playing within the rules, but to me, when winning becomes inevitable  the game becomes boring.

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Still some Giant steps to take in 2010

Posted by keithosaunders on November 12, 2010

So far this season the New York Giants look like the class of the NFC.  They have been relatively injury free and their defense looks like night and day compared to last season’s porous mess.  Eli Mainning is having a dream season, and in Hakeem Nicks he’s found a target to replace Plaxico Burris. 

We will soon find out just how serious the Giants are.  They have yet to play the Eagles, who now feature a healthy and lethal Michael Vick.  Also remaining on the schedule are dates with the Vikings, who at appeared to be revitalized last week with a dramatic come-from-behind win over the Cardinals.   They also play the Packers which very well could decide who gets home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  Throw in two dates with the Redskins, and one with Jacksonville and you have one tough second half of a season.  Ironically, the only gimme on the schedule is this week’s home game against the feckless Cowboys. 

Fasten your seatbelts.

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