Monthly Archives: July 2009

Say It Ain’t So Papi

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[DISCLAIMER: I know ESPN's Bill Simmons wrote something similar to this a few months ago. However, I had the idea before I even read his column. If you don't believe me, well...I don't really care. This is what I'm feeling and if I come off as a Simmons clone then so be it]

FENWAY PARK. SPRING 2016.

It’s Opening Day of the 2016 Red Sox season. An excited, blonde-haired boy bounds along the concourse of America’s Most Beloved Ballpark with his father. The boy just turned 8 years old on April 3, and as a special birthday present, his dad bought two box seats. The boy’s name is Will and today is his first game.

As we walk up the ramp on the first base side, the interior of Fenway Park explodes in front of us. The green, lush grass, the crisp white chalk of the base lines. Pesky’s Pole juts up in right field and the Green Monster looms over everything in left. While Will’s eyes hungrily scan everything in sight, his father is focused solely on his son’s slack jawed look of amazement at seeing the ballpark live and in person for the first time. It’s a feeling he knows well.

As the usher dusts off their $600 seats, they begin talking baseball. Dad points out the retired numbers hanging in right field. 1 (Bobby Doerr), 4 (Joe Cronin), 6 (Johnny Pesky who is also throwing out the first pitch), 8 (Carl Yastrzemski), 9 (Ted Williams), 14 (Jim Rice), 27 (Carlton Fisk). All the greats.

Then Dad points out center field where Fred Lynn ran into the wall. He reminds Will of Tony Conigliaro (Grandpa’s favorite player, cut down in his prime). He relives the excruciating days of Bucky “Fucking” Dent in 1978. Game 6 in the 1986 World Series and Buckner’s 5-hole. Game 7 of the ALCS when Aaron “Fucking” Boone broke our hearts.

But then…then Dad starts talking about 2004.

DAD: “Buddy, you have no idea. The Red Sox were dead. They were down 3 games to none in the ALCS against the Yankees and on the verge of elimination in the bottom of the 9th inning with the best closer of my generation on the mound. But then Millar walked. Roberts pinch ran and stole the most famous base in Red Sox history, then Mueller knocked him in. And then in extra innings…”

WILL: “Dad, you’ve told me this story 1,000 times…”

DAD: “Shut up. This is my moment and you’ll sit through it again. So…and then who strides to the plate but David Ortiz. Big Papi himself. And what does he do? He promptly smashes a homer to right to win the game. The place went nuts. And if that wasn’t good enough, less than 24 hours later he came up again with the game on the line. And what happened?”

WILL: “He loaded up on steroids and got the game winning hit?”

DAD: “………..”

WILL: “Dad? You OK? Sorry, I was just kidding.”

DAD: “Don’t ever joke about that Will. You’re young. You have no idea what that world series win meant. After 86 years they finally did it. Church bells rang, graves were decorated, grown men wept. It was a life changing moment son, and I’m not exaggerating. And it was in large part to Big Papi. He was as clutch as you could ever imagine. Walk off after walk off. The expectations for David Ortiz were sky high, yet he met and exceeded them every single time from the second half of 2003 to 2007. He was Superman. A cross between Jesus Christ, Ghandi, and Buddha. He was…”

WILL: “On steroids dad. He was on steroids. Same with Manny Ramirez, World Series MVP. Right?”

Yesterday Ortiz and Ramirez were linked to the steroid scandal. According to a New York Times article, their names (which were supposed to be kept anonymous) were among 104 major league players who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs during the 2003 season.

It wasn’t unexpected, but that doesn’t minimize the impact being felt around the region today. Some of you are probably saying “So what? Everyone was on steroids. Look at A-Rod on the Yankees. He used them. Just get over it.” However, those people don’t understand.

A-Rod is an asshole. He’s a hired gun. And he hasn’t led the Yankees to anything except the biggest choke in sports history. While NY fans admire him for the great player he is, he will never be beloved like Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Scott Brosius, Tino Martinez, etc. So when A-Rod tested positive for steroids it really had more of a negative effect on baseball as a whole than Yankee fans specifically.

But Papi? Papi was OUR guy! He was goofy, determined, amicable, a great clubhouse guy and he single handedly lifted Boston fans to a higher place than we had ever experienced before. We gave ourselves to him. Management deemed him the greatest clutch hitter in Red Sox history, a history that includes Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, etc. And unlike some Boston stars, he returned that love to us. We felt like we knew him. When he flashed us that goofy smile we melted.

When the names in the steroid scandal started to come out we held our breath, hoping no Red Sox players would be on it. But mainly, we all crossed our fingers for Ortiz. “Anyone but Papi,” was the collective thought going through every Sox fan’s head when the Mitchell Report was released. And thankfully the hammer didn’t fall. Papi was clean. Our hero was still a hero.

That’s why yesterday’s news hit like a hammer.

You have to be from here to understand what 2004 meant. It meant permanently giving the finger to obnoxious Yankees fans who taunted us unmercifully all our lives. It meant vanquishing a hated rival in unprecedented fashion. It meant no more gravestones would have “Never saw the Red Sox win it all” carved into them. It meant we could die in peace. No matter what happened from then on out, we had 2004. Nothing could take that feeling away.

Except this.

Now I feel betrayed. I love Papi, but when he hit a go ahead homer today I felt funny. Instead of leaping to my feet in joy and celebrating, I started to celebrate and then stopped suddenly. Because I wondered if he was juicing. I wondered how many of his other majestic game winners were the result of PEDs. I wondered if 2004 would have happened if not for Ortiz and Ramirez cheating their way through the season.

All of a sudden my “Faith Rewarded” dvd has lost some luster. My World Series 2004 Champions T-shirt doesn’t give me the same amount of goosebumps. I cringe at the thought of Ortiz walking into Yankee Stadium with chants of “Cheater, Cheater!” wafting from the balcony. I hate that I can’t make fun of A-Rod for cheating anymore.

I just hate it. I’m angry and I’m disappointed. Maybe Ortiz has a rational explanation for all of this, but even if that’s true it won’t matter. His reputation has been permanently sullied, along with our memories. And, most unfortunately, our future.

WILL: “So dad, did Papi use steroids? Did we win the World Series by cheating?”

DAD: “I don’t know son. Probably. But you have to know that even despite the steroid stuff, it was such a magical time. That team did something no other team in baseball history ever did, come back from a 3-0 deficit. They won four in a row against the Yankees! The Yankees!!! They were absolutely magnificent that year.”

WILL: “But…their best players were cheating right?”

DAD: “………..”

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So This is What Breastfeeding is Like??

It is often said that no matter how understanding a man is, he cannot relate to new mothers. We can’t give birth, sure, but I’ve heard the pain from passing a kidney stone is comparable. And we don’t have a baby growing inside of us, but many men gain “sympathy weight” and get nice and fat during a woman’s pregnancy and then have to lose it.

And today, I am sorry to say that I too know what it must be like to breast feed. Allow me to explain…

I was reading our beloved Cape Cod Gal’s blog and noticed that she’s got herself all fit and buff. She’s training for a triathlon and so she’s been running in a bunch of local road races. I, on the other hand, have not been doing anything that even remotely resembles exercise. But her post about her recent race stirred within me the desire to get off my fat ass and start running again. After all, I’ve lost 12 lbs since I last went jogging and that can only help the running.

The only problem is, I never ease into anything (that’s what she said!) and so when I saw Cape Cod Gal is running a 5.2 mile race on Saturday, I told myself I would run it too. However, that leaves me four days to train. Less than ideal. But hey, it’s just 5 miles right? I ran cross-country 12 years (and 50 lbs) ago and I’m pushing 30 years old, of course I’ll be able to immediately run 5 miles in sweltering heat and humidity. How can you question that logic?

And so I did it when I got home from work. I mapped out a 5.1 mile course, stretched a little bit and off I went. I made it the first 3 miles without stopping, but then I hit hills and lots ‘em. All in all it took me 1 hour and 2 minutes to complete the course. Hardly a blistering pace, I know. But after no training, I’ll take it and now I ready to kick ass on Saturday.

The only problem? MY NIPPLES ARE KILLING ME!

Yes, that’s right. My nipples. You see, it was very hot and muggy out today. And I’m a fat guy who decided to run 5 miles. And even though I didn’t realize it at the time my man boobs were bouncing around inside my soaked cotton T-shirt, there was much chafing going on.

When I got back home and MJ had to help me up off the lawn because I nearly passed out jumped in the shower, that’s when I noticed it. As the water cascaded down my flabby excuse for a body, it felt like 1,000 little pins were ferociously stabbing me in my nipular area. At first I thought it was an errant mosquito. But then I looked down and saw little spots of blood on my right man nipple.

The pain was unbearable. Sure I may be a huge wuss, but I had to spend the rest of the shower covering my nip. And as I winced at the searing pain coursing through my chafed nipple, I realized this is likely 1/1000th the pain that breastfeeding moms go through.

Seriously, I’m bitching about a chafed and slightly bloody nipple from 1 hour of running. Moms who breastfeed have a ravenous human being continuously gnawing on theirs. Every two hours, the baby chomps on the nipple and probably turns it into ground meat. And I realized, right then and there, that I will never partake in a breastfeeding debate ever again. Because if I were a woman, I’d go for the formula right from the start. There’s no way I’d offer up my nipple to that kind of pain and degradation. I can’t even deal with chafing, nevermind someone else chewing on it.

So all you breastfeeding mamas out there who gave it up, I’m with you. You won’t get any criticism from me, only a renewed appreciation of your efforts. For I have felt your pain and I understand your plight. Soldier on. We, fat men who bite off more than they can chew while jogging, are on your side.

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My Noisy Wife

I love MJ, but sometimes she drives me nuts.

You see, today is my day off. And this week, it happens to be my ONLY day off. So as you might imagine, I want to sleep for as long as possible. But my wife, who I love to death, doesn’t make that easy. Her morning routine is exasperating, and it means I almost always wake up when she does. Here, see for yourself:

6:15 am: MJ uses her cell phone as an alarm clock. Thankfully I’ve gotten her to put it on vibrate, but the vibrations on her wooden nightstand still makes a considerably loud noise. It never fails to wake me up. She rolls over, turns it off and goes back to sleep. I stay awake.

6:20 am: Just as I start to drift off again, the cell phone starts vibrating. Again, she rolls over to turn it off and promptly falls back asleep. I lay awake stewing in an increasingly angry fog.

6:25 am: Same thing.

6:30 am: The alarm goes off for the final time and she mercifully gets up to take a shower.

Now I should note that Will is a notoriously light sleeper. Sometimes the combination of the cell phone vibrating and us moving around in bed is enough to wake him up. But if we’re lucky enough for him to sleep through that, he almost always wakes up when the timeline continues:

6:31 am: MJ gets up to take a shower. She walks over to the bathroom door and because she is the world’s worst morning person, she just flings it open. Then she turns on the light, which doubles as a fan. Basically that means it sounds like a jet engine during take off in our bathroom. At this point she either sleepily leaves the door open so the fan wakes Will up, or she closes the door in a huff and the sound of the slamming door wakes him up.

6:40 to 6:50 am: I’m not sure exactly what MJ does during and after her shower, but I know it’s LOUD! I swear she’s not just placing her make up, brush and hair products on the counter, but slamming them instead! Then there’s the industrial strength hair blower which I assume doubles as a back-up generator should the electricity go out. Next comes the ironing board. And since we have the world’s oldest ironing board, its rusty hinges squeak and squeal like a cat being tortured.

6:51 am to 7 am: More noise of all kinds. She slides open the closet door, stalks around the bedroom, etc. She’s an attractive, petite woman yet if you were blind you’d think an army of elephants was traipsing around the house. I don’t know how she manages it.

Now when I have to get up before her, I am decidedly more considerate. When I open the bathroom door I twist the handle silently all the way to the right, open it without a sound, and then close it quietly. I don’t use the light that doubles as a fan, but the vanity lights over the sink to minimize noise. If you ask me, I think she’s subconsciously trying to wake Will up just so she can see him before she leaves for the day. Which is fine, I understand wanting to see him before heading off to work. But just wake him up yourself! Don’t go stomping around the house passively aggressively making noise until he wakes up himself!

So at some point in that process, Will starts crying and that means I’m up for good. I almost yelled at her today but I thought better of it and just told her I loved her. Which I do. But I’ve learned you can love someone and fantasize about strangling them all at the same time.

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South Beach Update

So I’ve finished my two weeks of hell the South Beach Diet’s Phase I and I’m slightly disappointed.

I lost 7 lbs in two weeks. I was pretty good about sticking closely to the diet, but I did cheat twice. I had half a small cup of ice cream and one small pizza with breadsticks. But I don’t think that’s straying too far. Otherwise I ate rolled up turkey and roast beef, celery sticks with Laughing Cow cheese, mozzarella string cheese, nuts, and lots of lean chicken, beef and fish. Granted I didn’t get to go to the gym or work out at all, so I guess 7 lbs in two weeks is OK.

That puts me at 224 lbs, meaning I’ve lost 12 lbs total since I started this whole weight loss thing a few months ago. Hardly impressive, I know.

But now I’m entering Phase II of the diet which looks tricky. I can incorporate whole grain bread back into my diet and along with a little bit of whole wheat pasta and some wine, but I think I’m going to stick a little more closely with Phase I for awhile. After all, I’ve only got 3 weeks until I turn 30. While I’m not going to reach my original goal of losing 30 lbs, I’m hoping I might be able to scratch and claw to hit 20 lbs lost. But we’ll see.

Either way my pants aren’t as tight around the waste, my man boobs have receded slightly and I’m feeling better in general. More energy and I’m not craving junk food all the time (just some of the time). I wish I had started this at the outset instead of so close to my birthday.

Have a good rest of the weekend everybody.

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FF: Sex Before Marriage: Is It Worth the Wait?

Fatherhood Friday at Dad-Blogs. Go ahead and click it…you know you wanna!

I was bowled over recently when a group of parents I converse with online took a poll, and it was discovered that nearly half of them have only had sex with one person: their husband/wife.

No sex before marriage. Complete abstinence until the wedding night. Months and even years of dating, followed by an engagement for additional months and years, with no sex. And even more bewildering to me, vowing to spend the rest of your life with someone with whom you haven’t determined sexual compatibility!

But before I get into my own personal views, I want to make a couple of things very clear.

First of all, I actually have a great amount of respect for people who make this choice. I cannot even fathom the kind of restraint and self discipline it takes to pull this off. I’m in complete awe. Not to mention there are obvious benefits. First of all, you are and always will be each other’s first time. That’s romantic in and of itself. And let’s face it, the risk of catching some venereal disease or worrying about past sexual history is pretty much moot. After all, no one like herpes. And to be honest, I think that knowing I was a woman’s one and only for all of eternity would be a pretty big turn-on.

So I get it. I recognize the benefits and I can totally see why someone would make this choice. But what I don’t understand is how they can do it!!

I’m sure we can all remember what it was like when we first met and fell in love with our significant others. For me personally, it was exciting because I had known my wife for many years. We actually met in the 6th grade, but we weren’t friends. She went to a different high school out of state and we didn’t see each other or talk for five years. And then randomly, we went to the same tiny college in western Massachusetts. But even through four years of college we never dated or hooked up (although I was always attracted to her). In fact it wasn’t until May of 2004 that we had our first drunken kiss outside of a house party, and from there love blossomed.

Actually, it exploded more than it blossomed. Because for years, I had smoldering feelings for her that turned into a bonfire when she reciprocated. And let’s just say chastity wasn’t really an issue from the get go. We just had raw, animalistic passion for each other and there was no way that could be contained. I think the beginnings of most relationships are like this: filled with raw emotion and dripping with sexual tension to the point where you eventually end up ripping each other’s clothes off in a frenzy.

So I have no understanding of how people can tame that feeling.

But more than that, here’s the biggest reason no sex before marriage was a complete no go for me.

I had long vowed that when I did finally ask a woman to marry me, I wanted to know it was the right choice. Not just know, but be absolutely certain. Would we get along? Do we share at least some common interests? Will she be able to put up with my sports habit? Is she independent? Does she want kids? After all, if you’re planning to spend eternity with someone don’t you want to make sure you know as much about that person as possible? I think so.

And whether anyone wants to admit it or not, sex is a big part of it. Not the biggest or most important, but it’s up there on the list.

So can you imagine dating for years, being engaged for another year, never having sex and having it all lead up to the wedding night? You’re alone in your hotel room and you realize that you have no idea if the sex is going to be good or bad. And hell, if the two people are both virgins it’s almost guaranteed to be awful. No one’s first time is good. Guys don’t know what we’re doing and we’re apt to prematurely lose it in a matter of seconds initially. And from what I hear, the first time for women is rather painful. And do you really want to be dealing with that on your wedding night??

And then what if it’s bad after that first time? Now you’re newly married and you’re stuck with an awful lover. Again, sex can be improved and it’s not the end all be all. Some arranged marriages worked in the past and they never even met, let alone have sex. But sex is still very important to a relationship and I truly believe everything that’s important should be addressed before making the ultimate commitment.

I know it’s a cliche, but you don’t buy a car without test driving it first right? It might be a great car, but just not for you. But you don’t know that just by looking at it, you have to test things out first right?

And I can’t speak for others, but what about getting out there and experiencing things? I went a little crazy in college and while I won’t disclose the number of sexual partners in my past, I will say it’s more than a couple. And sure, I’d like to take some of them back (or remember them at all) but I’m glad I went through a little man whore phase. I truly believe, for me, if I hadn’t gotten that out of my system I would’ve never been able to settle down. And without experiencing some of the bad parts of sex, I’d never realize how lucky I am to have my wife if I didn’t have some negative experiences to compare it to.

But like I said, I honestly do have the utmost respect for people who make this decision and I’m sure there are some readers who have. And I’m truly looking forward to hearing your stories if you’d like to share.

But for me, well…I’m glad I took the test drive route. There are enough speedbumps in a marriage without having to worry about sex.

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