Game Three TeeVee

I was disappointed when the Cardinals got smoked in Larry Walker’s last chance for a Series ring in 2004. My friend The Don has been a Cards fan at least since Tony LaRussa got there – he’s a fan of coaches more than of players, although he wants eligibility requirements rewritten so that Albert Pujols can go straight to the Hall of Fame this week. So as St. Louis is reborn after their Undead stagger to “winning” their division, it was time for me to actually watch a game. Regular readers will know that, for a guy who loves sport, I have an atrocious television. I depend on the kindness, well, not of strangers (though I have picked up a few games in restaurants), but of whatever friends I can impose myself upon.

I went over to the Sélégers’ place, where my Haitian-born buddy Fanfan required only slightly more basic education in baseball than his Canadian-born wife and brother-in-law. Mind you, he didn’t wander downstairs until about the sixth inning, so I wasn’t able to get too much wisdom in between pitches. He has the athletic eye, though. At first, he didn’t know how a pitcher even got a hitter out – or even know what “out” meant (or retrait in French) – but it didn’t take long before he realized that Chris Carpenter was dominating the Tigers. I don’t mind watching the game alone, but it was fun to help a new Canadian with one of the essential aspects of autumn living, not to mention his blissfully baseball-impaired family.

Good game. Baseball rocks. (Slowly, but it rocks.) Fox’s telecast is good, if a little too busy, and I love some of the inventive camera angles, especially the one embedded in the turf in front of home plate. I don’t have much patience left for commercial television, though. Maybe I take life too seriously, but when one of the major sponsors of an athletic event is a video-game maker, I draw a curmudgeonly line. Sure, there’s always been the irony of sporting excellence being underwritten by performance-decreasing substances (greasy foods, cigarettes in the bad ol’ days, beer forever). But something about sitting through an ad for a thumb-friendly entertainment called “Kill All Humans” made me feel dirty, and a little worried about the mental hygiene of some of my fellow viewers. What kind of audience are they aiming at? How did I get in? Not long after came another promo for a zombie chew-em-up game. Yecch. Makes me yearn for Skoal and Copenhagen commercials. At least there, the fantasy was of killing only yourself with style.

ODY: 26/365. Tenacious D.

Hmm. “Got” the Bonanza theme might’ve been pushing it a bit. I thought I’d run through it enough that I’d remember how the innovative part ends, but I had to work it out all over again. Maybe tomorrow the tumblers will click into place. I’m now at the point where I could polish it and “A Blues Riff”, especially the latter, to sound pretty good with an hour or two of concentration. That’ll be for the weekend. But here’s the thing that might actually be interesting. (And there’s no accounting for taste, yours or mine, so here goes.)

Discipline might be a viral thing. It seems to leak beyond the boundaries of the thing being practised (and, sometimes, can be caught from the person doing the practising – this is why running backs used to go to the sand dunes for savage off-season workouts with Walter Payton, why ambitious ballplayers ought to make friends with Albert Pujols). In more youthful times, I often noticed that regular prayer and meditation were somehow easier during the days (or longer periods) where I’d worked out physically. Among other things, this puts the lie to the I haven’t got time excuse. It’s like when pro athletes publicly say “It’s not about the money”, which nearly guarantees that it most certainly IS. “It’s just that I don’t have the time”, without fail, means “I don’t really want to but I’ll never admit that to you or myself.”

So it’s 26 straight evenings on the Guitar Diet. And since I do my practice in our tiny downstairs library, I’m noticing (and getting excited by, even reading) the great books that I insulate my basement with. Furthermore, my dumbbell set has been leaning dustily against one of those bookshelves. Somehow, virally or otherwise, the I WILL of playing guitar has been transmitted to the Well, Alright of a quick set of lifts and stretches, even when I enter the library Old Dog Tired and as motivated as a plump squash. Fulfilling one promise makes the next one easier. One workout leads to another. Well, except for tonight. (And, ah, last night.)

Tomorrow should be sensational, though.

According to Albert

I came across a brief and simple meditation on the virtue of humility this morning. As ammunition for my argument that you can find spirit everywhere if you’re willing to look, I’ll point out that this exercise in quiet virtue was found in the on-line version of Sports Illustrated magazine. It was an interview with the Cardinals’ monstrously good batsman, Albert Pujols. Alongside other things I’ve read about the great Dominican, I think we can take this straight up, no grain (or mitt-full) of salt required.

Albert’s Law:

As long as you don’t get caught up thinking you are better than the game, or you think that you’re better than everybody else, as long as you don’t get caught up in that, you’ll be fine. If you stay humble, you’re going to survive to play this game — if you stay healthy — for 15-20 years. That’s what I want to do. Stay humble before God. Stay humble before my teammates. And just have fun out there and play the game.

It might not sell too much beer or get a Manly Personal Fragrance named after him, but it makes it all the easier to appreciate Mr. Pujols.