Friday Fodder

Hello readers. I hope this finds you safe and healthy. This is, yet again, another blog that is full of random thoughts in no particular order.

Baseball

My home team, The Detroit Tigers, have not been much to watch in the past. I guess I was spoiled in that I got to watch the magical year of 1984 and a World Series Crown. Since then, they have struggled. “We are rebuilding” has been what us fans have been told for years! In 2006 we went to the World Series and lost. So, in 30+ years, we really haven’t had much to cheer about.

Despite that fact, I really miss baseball. Today in my Facebook memories, a picture popped up that I posted two years ago. The picture is the view of the baseball diamond that is literally behind our house. “One of the things I love about our house is that I can walk out on the porch and catch a good ball game all spring and summer long,” is the caption. Sigh. Not this year. Even the neighbor kids aren’t out playing ball.

I have mentioned in the past that my favorite Tiger from the 1984 team was Aurelio Lopez. Senor Smoke, they called him. There was something about his pitching style that I liked. As a 14 year old kid, I used to pretend I was him. When I was with my dad, or my buddies from school. We’d pitch to each other calling balls and strikes. When I was alone, I had a square I drew on the side of my house that represented the “strike zone,” I used to throw the ball at. There used to be a square spray painted on the wall of our elementary school, and you could stand in the parking lot and throw tennis balls at it – calling your own strikes.

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I miss hearing baseball on the radio. I miss watching it on TV. There is some talk about teams being allowed to play without people in the stands. While it would certainly be weird to just hear the sound of a ball coming off the bat, I would miss the sound of the crowd cheering for a home run. At this point, however, I would welcome baseball in any form.

The Boys

After my self quarantine of over two weeks, I was able to pick up my sons. They will be staying with me for a little over a week. Despite having seeing them briefly when I took my oldest’s birthday gift to him, and their short visit in my driveway, I felt like I hadn’t seen them at all! Sure, video chats helped, but to actually be with them and give them a hug means so much.

My youngest still has school work that he is doing online and will continue to do through the end of the school year. Because he is a senior, my oldest had the choice of continuing with the final marking period or taking the grades he had when all this Covid stuff came down. He had excellent grades, so he chose the latter and is officially done with school. We’re still waiting to see about graduation and stuff. We haven’t booked a place for his graduation party yet, because we just don’t know when we’ll be able to hold it!

We were able to celebrate my son’s 18th birthday here. We made a cake and sang Happy Birthday. Choices were limited, but we told him he could chose what he wanted for his birthday dinner. He chose pizza (no surprise). It was nice to be able to do that.

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They are always on their devices. They have an Xbox, a Wii U, a Nintendo Switch, and countless games on their cell phones. I am trying to get them away from that stuff, but with the cold weather, it hasn’t been easy. At least today it is supposed to be in the 50’s and we can get outside to play catch or take a walk.

Recently, I taught my youngest how to play chess. It is not my favorite game to play, mainly because I suck at it. I decided that I was going to teach him cribbage. My grandpa taught me how to play when I was about 9 years old. We played the game open handed (where you could see each other’s cards) and I walked him through things. He beat me, and I am hoping to play a few more games while he is here. I am also hoping to get my oldest to play, too. It is ALWAYS nice to have something to do when there is a power outage, or when you are bored.

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In preparation for the boys, I made sure to put clean sheets on their beds, and straightened up their room. While I was in there, I raised the blind on the window to let the natural light in. We have a huge tree that is outside their window. The birds were driving Maizey crazy flying back and forth. She sat like this meowing and jumping at the window for about 5 hours!

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I remember a time when parents put their kids to bed and then stayed up and watched TV before going to bed themselves. However, it’s been the opposite here. Sam and I are ready for bed by 10 and last night they were still up at 3:30am!!! What is up with that?!?

Layoffs

As stated in previous blogs, I am off work on doctor’s orders. While I am here recovering, I have been lucky enough to spend it with family. I have been praying for my co-workers and others who are still working at the hospital. The labor pools at hospital continued to grow because of ambulatory sites being closed, and those workers being put in the pool. This meant less hours for those working. To make matters worse, this week hospitals in the state announced massive layoffs and cuts. Some positions were completely eliminated!

Many of the layoffs are temporary and employees can take advantage of unemployment benefits (while keeping their health care benefits). If I am being honest, I wish that this had been an option from the beginning for many of us. It would have been much less stressful (and safer) for people. I know I would have opted to just be home with family, instead of having to go through a the mental breakdown I had to be home.

I continue to pray for my friends who are still right there in the thick of things. I continue to pray for the many healthcare workers across the state, and throughout the country, who are doing what they can to save lives – while trying to stay safe themselves. I just want life to be back to normal. I want to go and do the job I was trained to do. I’m just not sure when that will happen and if I can even do that!

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Skinny Me

I was out in the garage this week looking through a few boxes. I was looking for some notes from some classes I took years ago (more on that in an upcoming blog). I stumbled on something that I had totally forgotten about – an old magazine I was in.

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Mobile Beat Magazine is still around and it is mainly for mobile DJs. I used to get it when I was DJing more. It had great ideas regarding set ups, equipment, contracts, etc… It also put out a top 200 list every year of the most requested songs from that past year. I still look at it when I do get out to DJ (which is rarely ever now). This particular issue did a story about mobile DJ’s who were also radio DJ’s. I was interviewed and I was one of those featured in the article. My ugly mug even made it in the magazine!

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It is funny to see this picture.

  • I am about 100 pounds heavier now.
  • The glasses are gone thanks to Lasik surgery.
  • The hair is gone because of …. natural causes.
  • The station is gone, because of typical radio politics.

The shirt I am wearing was given to me by my buddy Tim, who is now working in major market radio on a morning show. He and some buddies (Doug and Phil) used to have this set up in their basement where they “played radio.” In all honesty, the stuff they did was better than the stuff you hear on many radio stations today. They would make tapes and I loved them. They called it “Fake Radio” and had me voice some liners for it. Making those up were a blast. I loved that shirt and was sad when it finally was so tattered that I couldn’t wear it anymore!

Ella

My baby girl continues to be a source of happiness. It is amazing how much she has grown in just 10 weeks. She is “talking” so much! I could listen to “baby babble” all day! I love how she smiles at me when I talk to her. There is NO better feeling. While putting clothes away this week, my wife slipped on the tutu and bow my friend Margaret had sent. She slipped it on over her PJs and it looked great. Looking at her, I can totally see her wearing something like this for dance classes.

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I am so guilty of taking a million pictures of her. I will totally be “THAT” dad who will drive her crazy with my camera! “Dad! Enough with the pictures!” I will sit and go through the pictures and claim a “favorite,” only to go through them another day and claim another as “my favorite!” My latest “favorite” is this one:

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I love this little girl SO much.

I love my children SO much. Blessings – each and every one of them!

Until Next Time …

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The “Carlson” Boys of Summer

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I took the above picture while standing in my backyard before I left for work.  Baseball practice has begun for our school district.  I always enjoy watching the kids and coaches work on plays.  Today they spent some time working on fielding a bunt and throwing to first base. As I stood there and watched, I was reminded of a post that my friend Andy had posted on Facebook recently.  He said “I wanna go back to when my only problem was if we didn’t have enough guys to play all fields open for baseball.” Those were some of the BEST summer days! Pardon me, while I step back to when I was in elementary school…..

My love for the game.

I don’t really recall when I became interested in baseball, but I remember it always being a part of our summers.  If my dad was out washing the cars or doing yard work, the Detroit Tigers were always on the radio.  The voices of Ernie Harwell and Paul Carey made all the calls.  When we would visit my grandparents, we would often watch them on TV as George Kell and Al Kaline announced the game.  I have been a Tiger fan for as long as I can remember.

I don’t remember when I got my first baseball mitt.  I do remember buying my first baseball bat.  It was a wooden Louisville Slugger with George Brett’s signature on it.  I remember it because George and I were both born on May 15.  I remember using money from my paper route to buy it.  I eventually bought a second bat with Dave Whitfield’s signature on it.

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I remember struggling to throw the baseball.  That’s where dad came in.  If I have never thanked him, let me do so now.  Thanks, Pop, for always making time to go out and thrown the ball around.  He’d call balls and strikes as we played catch.  He would occasionally throw me his “submarine” pitch (which was kind of a side arm pitch like Dan Quisenberry).  We went to the library and I checked out a book that showed how to throw a fastball, slider, curveball, and more.  Dad showed me how to throw a knuckleball, which I STILL love to throw.

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“Carlson Field”

There were two ball diamonds at our elementary school.  One had a backstop and faced the school.  The other was kind of a makeshift diamond that had dirt patches from where kids had made bases.  There was no backstop, and it had ruts in the grass from where kids ran from base to base.  There was also a spot for home plate and the pitcher’s mound was hardly a mound.  This field faced the other diamond and the road.  This was usually the diamond we played at.

One of the downsides of playing at this diamond was that it was that the school was about 10-12 feet behind us.  If you popped a foul ball behind you, it ended up on the roof.  Whether the game continued depended on 1) whether you had someone who could climb up to the roof to fetch it or 2) if you had extra baseballs. A benefit of playing here was there was a little valve on the school that if you had a wrench, you could turn it and get water – perfect for hot days.

Teams of Many Players

I remember during the summer I would wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed, grab my mitt, put it on the end of my bat, grab the baseballs, get on my bike and head to the school.  Along the way, I might knock on a few doors and pick up other players, but it was rarely necessary.  It was a standing appointment every day.  We’d all meet up at the school and pick teams.  We’d do the hands on the bat thing to see who was up to bat first.

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Depending on how many kids showed up, we’d have to alter the rules a bit.  Sometimes we had to have a designated pitcher. If we didn’t have enough fielders, right field was out (unless you had a left-handed batter).  Sometimes we had to go catcher-less.  Many times when there was no first baseman, the pitcher’s mound was “out”! Then there were times where we were so short, we’d have someone hit and run to his base while the person on third base came back in to bat again with the “ghost runner” on the base.  It didn’t matter – we’d find a way to play!  Even if there were only three guys – one would pitch, one would bat, and one would field.  We spent SO many hours playing ball!

Off the top of my head, I remember Jeff, Tom, Bill, Frank, Mike, Steve, Leo, John, Danny, Dave, Carl, Tomlin, Ed, Mike Smith, and so many others playing ball.  If Andy and his brothers Ray and Tommy, were home, they were always there too.  There was a wide range of ages, and we often let some of the younger kids play.  I am sure that my dad came up once or twice to pitch to us and “ump”.

Just like in professional ball, there were amazing catches, close plays at first, strike outs, arguments with umpires, and long drives to left field for home runs.  We often “called” the games like Ernie Harwell.  If we all had a dollar for every time we said or heard “Hey, batter, batter!  SWING”, we’d be debt free!  There were no uniforms, but you could bet that almost every one of us had a Tiger baseball cap on!

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Day after day, all summer long we played ball.  I wish I could remember more detailed stories of our baseball heroics, but most of them have been lost with time.  Perhaps some of the guys I mentioned (and tagged on Facebook) can recall a story or two I can add to this blog.  I do have one memory that I can recall as clear as day….

Big Mike

Mike lived across the street from us and was always up for baseball.  Mike was a big kid.  He had some power when he made contact with the ball, no doubt about it.  I do remember taking away a home run from him once.  At any rate, because of his size, he didn’t really run fast.  The distinct memory I have of him is this – if you were the catcher and Mike was running home, you had better hope to avoid him and get the tag on him. There were many catchers who caught a ball from the outfielder who stood in front of Mike as he charged home, only to get plowed and knocked on their ass!  Mike knew his body was like a Mack truck and was not afraid to use it!  If he could plow into you and make you drop the ball, he was all about that.  I learned that the hard way once!  I can’t remember how long it took me to catch my breath after he had knocked the wind out of me, but it seemed like eternity!!

Looking Back …

I am glad that I grew up at a time where kids actually wanted to play outside.  Today, trying to get my boys to go outside and play is a chore!  There is the Xbox and Wii U and games on their phones that make them want to stay inside.  It is sad.  Both of my son’s played T-ball and Baseball and I was lucky enough to coach each of them.  They never really chose to continue playing, but every once in a while, they’ll be happy to throw the ball around with their old man and that makes me feel young again.

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