Monday, February 25, 2013

Challenge Blog

by Bill Holmes

So I was quietly celebrating my recent birthday when a long-time friend challenged me on Facebook to write a blog about certain subjects. I accepted the challenge so now I have to deliver or forever be ridiculed by that friend.

First a little history. This long-time, now also old, friend and I have numerous shared experiences. We were drinking buddies before we could legally drink. We shared many exciting adventures as well as many quiet times. We went through multiple relationships together starting with puppy love girlfriends and progressing to serious relationships and finally to marriages. At times we probably helped each other in those relationships and at times we probably hurt them. Nevertheless, we remained close friends through it all. My parents would ask about this friend through the years even up until their deaths. So you see, even if I couldn't stand the guy, my parents liked him. I was stuck. We helped each other in the beginning when we were trying to become adults. That didn't happen when we turned 18 or 21 or even 25, it took a little longer. Some may say we never achieved adulthood. Eventually family, work, distance and time changed the relationship. We spent less time together, not on purpose or for any particular reason. It just happened. Sometimes we'd lose touch for a year or two and eventually it was probably over ten years. There was no internet or email or Facebook. It was easy to lose touch either by accident or on purpose. I moved, he moved, he had a new job, I had a new job, he had a new family, I had a new family. Stuff happens. We stumbled upon each other again about five years ago. Like with any true long-time friend we still share at least much of that one time connection.

So, I have to ask all of you, what kind of a son of a bitch would put forth the following challenge?
What? Another birthday? I'm looking forward to your blog on this one. Have a great day!”
Followed by my reply -
Not sure such an old man has the energy or memory for another blog.
Followed by his reply -
“Well maybe you could just do a Facebook post detailing your contributions to the world of sports, your preferences in adult beverages, and your outlook for the Rangers since Josh Hamilton sez that there are no true baseball fans in Texas.”
Then stupidly I accepted the challenge -
A certain long-time, not old, friend challenged me to a blog or FB post tied to my recent birthday. He suggested I talk about my contributions to sports (none), my adult beverage preferences and my views on the Rangers upcoming season since there are no real baseball fans in D/FW. He also snuck in a memory test of a 1964 event. I will accept and do my best in the upcoming days to meet the challenge and the test. This comes from the 1st ever FWC. No one can take that title from me. Hoping the statutes of limitations have expired.”

I accepted because I had to. This won't take too long.

1. My contributions to the world of sports

Minimal – I think my sports career peaked when I was 12. I was one of only two sixth graders to make the boys varsity softball team (Catholic elementary schools went from K through 8th grade). I didn't play much but I was on the team. Because I was probably only 4'2” I was the designated walker. Go to bat, take every pitch and hope for a walk. I was not allowed to swing. Because I was a sixth grade softball prodigy, I was one of the few three year letterman in school history. Oh wait, we didn't have lettermen. I was a decent ball player. My problem is I wasn't a decent grower. That's a sports disadvantage. I played Little League, Babe Ruth and American Legion baseball until I was 16 or 17. No colleges or Major League teams called. As a youth I also played some fast-pitch softball in what were adult beer leagues. I was part of a City Junior  championship team (maybe under 15 year olds) that thought it could compete with the big boys. We could hit and run and field but as any fast-pitch softball aficionado knows it is all about the pitcher. We didn't have a pitcher. A little later in life I badly played some college (dorm/frat) intramural touch football and basketball. Later a few beer league slow-pitch company softball teams. My most significant sports contribution is that for a few years I coached youth baseball. That was a lot of work some years but a lot of fun. The kids are great, sometimes the parents aren't. There are also politics involved. I don't do politics very well. There was a little golf and bowling through the years. Now I'm just a sports fan. So you see there is no doubt the Baseball Hall of Fame is preparing a spot for me.

2. My preferences in adult beverages

In a word - beer. I have always preferred beer. When I was growing up my Dad mostly drank beer around the house. That may be because it was hot in Florida and beer is quite refreshing or because it was pretty damn cheap way back then. He drank Scotch, Rob Roy's or some mixed drink when out socializing or when some friends stopped by. He was a bartender in his youth and prided himself on having the ingredients and know-how to make whatever his guests wanted. If it was just the family or one of the neighbors it was beer. Once I was big enough, I was the designated beer boy. I was in charge of getting and opening the beer for Dad. At one time, the opening part wasn't that easy. Beer cans were made out of heavy steel and there were no pop-tops or twist off caps. Everybody carried a can/bottle opener (church key). Well, Little Billy began taking payment for the butler service by taking a sip of Dad's beer before it was delivered. Before that, Dad would give me a sip if I asked (and Mom wasn't around). I can't remember ever not liking beer. Well, the sips got bigger over time and pretty soon Dad got half a beer and I got half a beer. He knew what was going on but didn't care. He sometimes would tell me to get him a FULL beer. It was OK to drink Dad's beer but I was also the designated TV remote control. That task was not negotiable. On time and on the station. No way Mom and Dad are going to miss a second of Ed Sullivan or Lawrence Welk. Because I became a beer drinker early in life I never drank much liquor. When I have it has not always worked out well. I think it's a quantity problem. You can drink 12 or 24 or 36 or more ounces of beer over time and still be OK. You can not drink 12 or 24 or 36 ounces of Scotch without being a little impaired. I almost never drink hard stuff out in public anymore. A bottle of Irish or Gin or Vodka at home will last a few years. I normally only drink wine when I have some left over from cooking or go to a fancy restaurant. So, here's the bottom line, 98.5% of the time I drink beer (anything but Bud products). I'll sip a little Jameson Irish on rare occasions. I have vermouth, vodka and gin around in case I want a Bloody Mary, Screwdiver or Martini. I think I last had a Martini in the 1990's. Now a spicy Bloody Mary is delicious. You can use some of the above mentioned beverages in your cooking too. Bottom line – I choose to drink beer.

3. The Rangers

I fully realize that D/FW is not a baseball town, a super star told the world, so I can not be a true fan. Despite that, I am going to express my opinion on the upcoming Rangers season. My take is that it will be just fine. I have absolutely no regrets that Josh Hamilton and Michael Young are gone. Michael is an excellent person, unfortunately he is now a very mediocre baseball player with a big salary. At one time he was maybe the best Rangers player. As the team upgraded their talent he became one of their worst players. He was a pretty good 2nd baseman whose hitting improved. He was then a very average shortstop but his hitting again improved. He was a much below average 3rd baseman whose hitting fell off. Finally he became a poor designated hitter and a pretty bad 1st baseman. Both of his assets, fielding and hitting, deteriorated. A once barely adequate fielder got worse and his batting average, run production and power declined. If you watch those who have replaced him and caused him to change positions you will understand. Young at one time played 2nd, short and 3rd. He was replaced by Kinsler, Andrus and Beltre. Kinsler is better, Andrus is very much better and Beltre is the best. All those guys are on the Rangers roster. Young's funk as DH/utility guy sealed his fate. There is too much talent in the farm system to keep a mediocre old guy around. As for Josh the Jerk, good riddance. He has a bushel of physical talent and less than an ounce of psychological ability (for those of you on the metric system that would be 27 kilograms and less than 28 grams). His physical durability is also in question. In his five years with the Rangers he missed the equivalent of a full season with injuries, some very bizarre. I don't think the players or the organization will miss the Josh drama. We're not exactly a Kardashian kind of town. I don't often wish bad times on any player but in this case I'll make an exception. I hope Josh hits about .198, hits seven home runs and drives in 22 runs. I also hope he misses 57 games with an energy drink/coffee/caffeine/dip adverse reaction. Then let God tell Josh he wanted him to have a bad season. The bullpen had some significant personnel loses but the Rangers seem to rebuild that from scratch every year. The replacements will do fine. It should be another post season appearance by the Rangers.

4. Memory Test

I'm not sure how well I did on the memory test. I think I got a majority of the answers correct. I am pretty sure that the test giver isn't positive of the correct answers either. I've decided this is not the time or place to tell that story. It was an adventure that took place almost 50 years ago. There are too many lost brain cells to accurately detail it without much more thought, maybe some research and collaboration.

Well I didn't keep it short. Once I get started I tend to ramble. I'm not sure if my challenger will find this blog acceptable. If he doesn't I will hate him forever and never speak to him again.  

PS - The font size and color shift has something to do with problems between LibreOffice Writer, were most of it was originally typed, and Blogger. I can't easily fix it so I left it. I may correct it before I submit this blog for a Pulitzer Prize.  

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