A Full Rich Wednesday

A lost dog wasn’t really lost, I guess that was the highlight, really.

I got up early like the good boy I’ve been all summer, did some work and then did my daily 3-4 mile walk before it gets too hot out. After some more work, shave and a shower, I figured I could run my afternoon errands.

Had a nice bean & cheese burrito for lunch in front of the bar screens covering the baseball trade deadline. The Yankees stood pat, which I guess I can admire given their pitching and strength of the prospects they did not give up… but at the last minute Zach Greinke waved his no-trade clause and got dealt to the Astros, joining a starting rotation already sporting Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander. I really don’t see anyone in the AL beating them in post season series now.

I mean, you never know… but deep down, I think I do know.

Did some grocery shopping and got yelled at by some dumbass in weird pants who walked in front of my foot-on-the-brake but not totally stopped car and thought I was gonna run them over. I probably should have. Suffice to say it’s a good thing my windows were closed since my commentary on them and their wardrobe would not have been taken as constructive criticism.

But then the drama – I get home, pull into the garage, shut the door… and hear a noise outside. Crying maybe? I light up suddenly and think it’s a cat meowing.

No cat. Just a little kid from down the street yelling for her dog. He’s gotten out before, and I’ve seen him run around the street before they corral him. I vaguely remember what he looks like. So I ask her if she saw where he went, and she says no and tells me about the last time he got out (which is SUCH help). Although the last time he got out, he walked too much on hot pavement and messed up his paw pads. I thought the same possibility existed today with the heat. The kid’s home alone with grandma, she says. I tell her I didn’t see the dog wandering around when driving home just then. Grandma comes out and seems able to walk around. I had images of grandma wheeled to the window wondering what a dog was, figuring she’d be no help, but she starts calling the dog loudly in the street.

I put my groceries in the fridge and go back outside to see if I can help them find the dog. They’re both still yelling “DUKE! DUKE!” Grandma assures me the dog comes when he’s called.

So I walk down the paths into the nearby woods, figuring if Duke felt like a smell odyssey, he’d take that route instead of wandering through peoples’ yards.

I go walking early in the morning before the temperature climbs past 80. Now it’s mid-afternoon high 90s time with the sun beating down. I really don’t want to walk 3-4 miles to find this dog or fight a coyote for him, but as I go further into the woods, I don’t see or hear anything.

Then I see a woman walking a dog who looks a lot like Duke. But a lot of people have brown bulldog mixes, don’t they? I ask her if she’s seen any other dogs running around. She says no.

Then she hears Grandma yelling “DUKE! DUKE!”

And we walk back out of the woods to Grandma. Evidently no one told her or the kid about the professional dog walker the parents hired to come get the dog out of the backyard. The walker thought someone had been yelling “DUDE! DUDE!” and wondered why the dog responded, pulling on the leash.

Duke certainly enjoyed all the attention. He was the only intelligent participant in the entire exercise, when you think about it. Glad he wasn’t lost, but how the hell do you not know/forget a professional dog walker has been hired?

Back inside, A/C on. Looking forward to cooking the salmon fillet I bought for dinner, along with a nice drink.

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These Are The Times That Try Fans’ Souls

Watching the Yankees the past week has been an emotional chore. They’ve set a team record by allowing more than 73 runs in their last 7 games, not exactly the sort of record you want to set.

They can still score runs, if not enough to win, and they had some nice comebacks against the Twins, early on in this ongoing slog. But the Red Sox decimated them.

The pitching? Awful. Just awful. No one consistently pitches effectively. While sporting a weak starting rotation all year, they managed to finesse a wonderful record by a stars-all-align combo of people like German stepping up, across-the-board solid performances by overused bullpen names, and a lot of breaks going their way.

But these are the sorts of things that catch up with a team down the post-All Star break stretch, through August, when team pitching strength really makes the difference in which teams fade, collapse, or get to the finish line strong, ready for October battles between strong starting rotations.

Every team I can think of that started out the first half or 2/3 of the year looking amazing and then falling apart and collapsing by the end of the season all have the same thing in common: weak pitching. The ’64 Phillies overused their 2 main starters and blew a 6 1/2 game lead with only 12 to play. The ’69 Cubs, ’78 Red Sox, ’07 Mets, ’11 Red Sox… all cruised along early in the season, only to wither and fall by the wayside during the August-September stretch, all because of mediocre to poor pitching.

This week makes me think the 2019 Yankees could be added to this list – they got a 9 game lead right now, flirted with the best overall record in baseball, looked good against likely October competition like Houston, Tampa or Minnesota… but this past week… ugh. They look like crap.

CRAP I TELLS YA!

They have no stopper in the starting rotation. You won’t find a Guidry to chalk up a majority 25 wins after a Yankee loss like in ’78. When the bullpen door opens, Rivera will not appear to ensure the game is over, victory secured. Their best starter, German, seems effective but his win-loss record is a tad deceptive since they’ve come back in a few games where he got blown out early. Guidry he is not.

I thought they might stand pat before the trade deadline, but now it’s looking very likely they deal before the stroke of midnight July 31 for a starter, and the other teams know the price is going up for the Yankees when they’re playing like this. They’ll most likely give up some of the younger players and prospects I like just to get some above .500 pitcher with an ERA below 5, and that’s not good.

Severino, Montgomery and Bettances might come back before season’s end… but the odds of any of them being in top form after being injured so long are slim.

Can they rebound from this week’s doldrums? Sure, anything is possible. Signing some solid starter who rallies a clubhouse might happen. Standing pat, getting players back from the IL and coming together might happen.

I might also win the lottery. You never know. But in the meantime, Houston, Minnesota and Cleveland must be licking their chops.

Friday Art: Hot Sun by Stephen Etnier (1966)

It’s 105 out today and I just got back from driving around and running various errands. I think I feel more like the horse in this painting than the guy driving the carriage.

Etnier, a Maine-based American realist, specialized in outdoor scenes using vibrant sunlight, so the way that he captures the heat of the day with his colors alone in this work is particularly good. All those yellows and oranges on the road surface, as well as that hazy golden glow along the horizon give you the sense of a hot day by the beach. Someone get that poor horse some water.

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Halls Of Fame Exist For Guys Like These

While sports heads constantly argue back and forth with hot, cold and lukewarm takes on who-was-better-than-who, it’s practically unheard of for someone to pretty much be unanimously accepted as the Best EVER at their particular position in the sport.

I can’t think of anyone making a serious argument for anyone other then Mariano Rivera as the best closer of all time, both in the regular and especially in the post-season. When the bullpen door opened and “Enter Sandman” blasted over the speakers at Yankee Stadium as Rivera took the mound to protect an 8th or 9th inning lead, you could see the opposing dugout simply shrug since they knew the game was over. The man was practically unhittable.

Yeah, I know… he’d been gotten to in a few key games in the post-season, like in the ’97 playoffs, ’01 series and ’04 against the Red Sox… nobody’s perfect. The Yankees winning championships in that period boiled down to whether or not Rivera got saves, and he most often did.

Most closers don’t last as long as he did, unless they’re knuckleballers like Hoyt Wilhelm. 18 seasons of consistency from closers is just unheard of – most of ’em have a few stellar seasons and then blow their arms out, or fail to fool hitters, or just lose control. The history of baseball is littered with guys who had one to a few amazing seasons as a lights-out closer and then vanished – I can think of all the ones I remember over the years – Bill Campbell, Eric Gagne, Tom Niedenfuer, Rawly Eastwick… the list goes on. And then there were the ones who had the staying power, the ones who most often made in into the Hall like Rivera: Eckersley, Sutter, Hoffman… but even those guys weren’t as good as Rivera.

Practically every other position in baseball presents a debate over who was the best ever: Catcher? Berra or Cochrane? Wait, what about Bench? Fisk? Maybe shortstop is easier… Wagner? Jeter? No, no… maybe Ripken. How can you compare different baseball eras, some will say. Even the greatest ever gets debated, by those in the Ruth camp and those offering various alternatives for assorted reasons.

Continue reading “Halls Of Fame Exist For Guys Like These”

Friday Art: Wonderful landscapes by Peder Monsted

Monsted (1859-1941) was a Danish realist painter of landscapes. He used the sorts of light and color techniques of the old Dutch masters applied to the subject matter of nineteenth century pastoral romantics and the results are quite striking. You get some wonderfully real lines and shapes, beautiful bright colors, and hints of fuzzy-impressionistic pastel effects in a lot of his work. He was the most successful Danish landscape painter of his time.

I like “The Forest Path” since it’s the past-century version of my daily walk. Where I live, there are paved and fenced pathways all interlocked between wooded areas called paseos that had been planted in between housing developments. You can actually walk anywhere in the city using them, but mostly they’re nice for the three to four mile walk I’ll try to take every day, partially through the neighborhood and partially through the paseos. It’s all planned and irrigated, but I’ll still see rabbits a lot, and occasionally a hawk, bobcat or coyote, since they probably see rabbits a lot too.

Continue reading “Friday Art: Wonderful landscapes by Peder Monsted”

Catzilla

I may have to create an Instagram just to follow Indonesian artist Fransdita Muafidin on it since his entire account is devoted to photoshops of giant cats in various scenes.

Here’s a video compilation of some of his work.

Why can’t the bad traffic I deal with daily be caused by giant cats? At least then it’d be worth it.

Friday Art: The Cheese Vendor by Eduard-Jean Dambourgez (1844-1890)

Dambourgez was a French engraver and painter of the late 19th century who loved painting grocery stores. He painted pork butchers and fish shops and dairy merchants… and this cheese vendor. The date of the painting can only be traced to a period. I doubt it took him over 40 years to paint this, although I’d like to think it did. It’s the workaholic in me.

He painted other impressionist riverscapes around Paris and Venice, but he really liked painting fatty foods.

I just got my cholesterol numbers back, and it looks like the closest I should be to an assortment of cheese is this painting. Cholesterol numbers going up is mapped into my genes, alas… I’ve been trying to avoid meds to control it as long as I can via diet & exercise, but the genetic destiny seems stronger. We’ll see what my doc says. In the meantime, I’m sure Dambourgez’ cheese vendor can find other customers.

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