Thursday, October 28, 2004

A Brand New World

Holy crap! The Red Sox won the World Series last night in a four-game sweep over the Cardinals. Sox fans were in a happy daze today, with the full impact of it all still to be realized. After 86 years and all sorts of silliness about curses and ghosts, the Sox finally got it done. And in impressive fashion, coming within three outs of being swept by the Yankees in the ALCS last week and then reeling off eight straight wins. After a close game 1 that they won 11-9, the Sox dominated with excellent starting pitching, key hits, and a confidence that never wavered. It's been a long couple of weeks staying up late watching games, although I was hoping the Cards would at least win a few games to make things competitive. In the end, they just didn't have the starters to match up with Boston and their offensive stars were invisible.

I'm happy for all my friends who are Sox fans (including my wife), but it also reminds me of when my chosen team, the Toronto Blue Jays, won back-to-back titles in '92 and '93. Part of the 1977 expansion class, the Jays had gradually grown competitive and won their first AL East title in 1985, my freshman year in college. The Jays were jam-packed with talent that year with starters including Dave Stieb and Jimmy Key, a lights-out closer in Tom Henke and a powerful offense that included the young outfield of George Bell, Jesse Barfield and Lloyd Moseby. It was the first year the ALCS was best-of-seven, and the Jays raced out to a 3-1 lead over Kansas City. Then the unthinkable happened and they lost the next three games, and the Royals went on to win the World Series. For several years, the Jays teased their fans: leading the division in '87 before losing their final seven games of the season and getting passed by Detroit; winning division titles in '89 and '91 before losing easily in the ALCS. But in '92, it all came together. Recent additions like Joe Carter, Roberto Alomar and Dave Winfield solidified an already impressive lineup and Jack Morris and trading deadline pickup David Cone gave the Jays a potent starting five. After taking out the powerful A's in the ALCS, the Jays took on the favored Braves and beat them in six, with Winfield providing the series-winning hit with a double in the 10th. I was living in this very house, renting the downstairs apartment and watching the game with my girlfriend, who normally had little interest in such things. When they won it, a buddy of mine came over with a bottle of champagne to celebrate with me, which was pretty cool.

The following year, I had broken up with said girlfriend and was renting a room in a house in Middleton. It wasn't a fun time for me. I wasn't so much depressed about the breakup as I was about being alone, I wasn't digging my job (which at the time had me working 5 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and I suspected I was getting an ulcer. But the Jays were having another great year; Winfield was gone and replaced by another classy veteran, Paul Molitor. The Jays beat the White Sox in the ALCS and took on the Phillies, a cocky group of hairy goofballs led by Lenny Dykstra and a tough starter named Curt Schilling. It was a wild and wooly series and the Jays led 3-2 going into Game 6. I was up at UNH that day for Homecoming and was invited to a party that night in the area, but I decided to come home and watch the Jays. Good move. Joe Carter hit a historic Series-winning, walk-off homer in the ninth. I was watching the game by myself in my room and when Carter hit the homer, I just started jumping around and screaming. My upstairs roommate called down to make sure I was okay. Hell, yeah. That was the only good thing that happened to me that year.

Of course, since then the Jays have slid, somehow turned into a small-market team after the strike of '94, and this year finished in last place with their worst record since 1981. Oh well, at least I have my memories.

Big loss in the music world this week after British radio DJ John Peel died of a heart attack. Peel was influential in introducing new music to the world, and his live "Peel Session" CDs are legendary. He will be missed.

It's week four since I stopped running to let my Achilles' problems get better, and I'm still sore. I'm just going to wait until they're better before I start running again. It's a real bummer to not be able to run during my favorite time of the year. This sucks.


Friday, October 22, 2004

Red Skies at Night

Wow. So the Red Sox pulled it off. The biggest comeback in sports history. Meanwhile, the Yankees delivered the biggest choke in sports history. Awesome. Red Sox vs. Redbirds in the World Series, starting tomorrow night. There's already a casualty, after a 21-year-old college student out celebrating the Sox win was hit in the eye by a pepper spray ball and died. Boston Mayor Tom "Mumbles" Menino proclaimed there would be no alcohol sales around Fenway Park; he wisely backed off that bold statement today. No booze at a Boston bar with the Sox in the World Series? You'd really see some riots then.

Memo to John Kerry: When you go to photo ops, there tend to be actual photographers there to document any stupid-looking things you do.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Masters of evil

I've been remiss in my blogsterization lately because I've spent most of my waking hours watching the Red Sox battle the Yankees in the ALCS. It looked it was going to be a blowout as the Yankees raced out to a 3-0 series lead, but the last two nights, the Sox won excruciatingly long, epic battles that both ended with David Ortiz providing the game-winning hit in extry innings. Now I'm no Red Sox fan, but it's easy to root for them when they're playing the Evil Empire. They're about to play Game 6 in a little while, so hopefully the Sox can push them to Game 7 tomorrow. That would be cool.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Stranger than fiction

Yesterday was shaping out to be a pretty good day. Deb and her brother Matt had both achieved their goal of running the B.A.A. Half Marathon; for Deb, it was her first long race since having our second baby in three years, and for Matt it was his first long-distance race period. I ran the race last year in the rain, but this year it was a perfect day for a race. Nice and cool, cloudy but dry. I hung out with sister-in-law Tricia, mom-in-law Susan, my girls and their two cousins. Other than cousin Danny wiping out on top of a pile of dog poop, it went very well. My man Briggy had a good race as well. We piled back in our vehicles, Hannah opting to ride with her cousins in Matt's minivan and me driving while Deb got in the backseat to feed a starving Lily her formula. Matt had already turned onto our street and I was waiting to make the left when all of a sudden...BANG! We were rear-ended by an SUV. Lily started screaming but fortunately it was just the shock of it all, not an injury. I turned onto our street, pulled over and got out to see how bad the damage. Turns out we actually know the woman who hit us; she was on the phone and just spaced, I guess. We were stopped and waiting to make the turn, so she really wasn't paying attention to the road. She felt awful about it and we exchanged info and waited for the cops to come. The rear end of our Maxima was totally crunched. None of us were hurt at all; we had Lily looked at by the paramedics who showed up, but they didn't see anything and said we should call our pediatrician just to be on the safe side. Basically, we were lucky it was a big SUV because if the other vehicle's front end had been lower, it would have hit us on right on the bumper and had much more impact. As it was, it pushed in the trunk, which absorbed much of the impact. It's scary to think what might have happened.

It's been a bad year for the Kumar cars. First, we drop a shiteload of cash on fixing a radiator fluid leak on the Honda. Then a doofus from Comcast drops a ladder on our Maxima, damaging the roof and smashing out the rear windshield. Then the Civic dies on me. And now this. Un-freakin'-believable. We took the Maxima to the auto body shop we've been frequenting (it was still driveable...sort of) and rented a Mazda 626 station wagon until the repairs are complete. Today was Columbus Day so we won't know how long it'll take to fix until at least tomorrow, but I figure it'll be at least a week, probably more. We also borrowed a car from a friend of Susan's for me to drive for a little while, so at least I won't have to beg for rides from co-workers. Ugh.

Well, it's Sox vs. Yankees again in the ALCS. Should be a doozy of a series, but this time, I predict the Red Sox will take it in six. They've got better pitching and hitting. Hell, they should have won the series last year, but let's not get into that again.

Christopher Reeve died over the weekend, but not before proving that he really was Superman. Another notable death was that of Ken Caminiti, the 1996 NL MVP who later admitted to taking steroids. The guy was only 41, but was reportedly having problems with drugs the last few years. What a waste.

We watched The Station Agent tonight. Excellent, low-key film with a great performance from Peter Dinklage.

I'm a week into my month off from running. It sucks, especially yesterday watching the half marathon. I did a leg workout at the gym Saturday and I'm still sore from it. But I've gotta stick with the recuperation so I don't make things any worse. Ugh.

Monday, October 04, 2004

At Least That's What You Said

Quite the eventful weekend. Friday night, I hung out with my old homies from Webnoize before attending the Wilco show at the Wang Center, a venue normally reserved for the ballet and classical music and stuff like that. We missed the opener, the Fiery Furnaces, who I was hoping to see, but the headliners didn't disappoint. I like Wilco's latest CD, A Ghost is Born, but the songs really came alive in concert, much like Frampton. They indulged in some sweet feedback-drenched guitar mayhem reminiscent of Sonic Youth and Television, which was due to Jim O'Rourke's influence, as Dr. Doobs noted. Guitarist Nels Cline unleashed some mind-blowing licks and bandleader Jeff Tweedy joined in, although OJ correctly observed that Tweedy's gee-tar was much higher in the mix than Cline's, which is a criminal act. Nevertheless, a great time made a tad stranger by the fact I ran into two old friends I hadn't seen in several years at different points after the show. I guess Wilco brings all us formerly rocking geezers out of the woodwork.

The Applefest Half Marathon was a great time. My buddy Rick and I both ran good races, although his 1:31 was much faster than my 1:43 (hey, it was a fast time for me). The weather was perfect (cloudy in the 50s) and the course was nice. I cranked up the iPod and enjoyed myself, despite the hills at the end that slowed me down a bit. Great spread of food afterwards, including, of course, apple crisp.

On Sunday, I joined my fellow Daily Grind email cohorts in the wilds of Worcester for the filming of Men's Group Massacre, the latest filmic masterpiece from my friend Bob Durling. Bob puts together improvised Halloween short films every other year or so. We filmed in the woods behind his house. The plot, such as it is: A men's support group meets in the woods and is killed one by one by a mysterious figure in a kabuki mask. I played Jay, nerd supreme (yeah, it was a real stretch). I was one of the first killed because I had to leave earlier than everyone else...because I live 50 freakin' miles away. Anyway, it was a blast as always and I look forward to seeing the finished product, which Bob hopes to have edited and ready for a Halloween party in a few weeks. I'll be away that weekend, but plans are to put the film on DVD, so hopefully I'll see it not long afterward.

Did I mention my wife is incredibly cool for letting me do all that stuff? I don't normally have stuff planned every day, it just worked out that way.

The worst Blue Jays season in recent memory (last place finish, the end of the Delgado era) got even worse yesterday with the news that former pitcher and current TV broadcaster John Cerutti died in his hotel room before the last game of the year. From all accounts, he was a classy guy who always took time out to talk to fans. He apparently died of natural causes at the young age of 44. A real shocker. My condolences go out to his wife and kids.