Wild Pitch: How a Book, a Baseball Card and Nolan Ryan Helped Fulfill a Childhood Dream

Nolan Ryan taught me how to pitch.

I learned every move he had, from the way he held his glove as he started his windup, to the high leg kick, to the explosion off the pitching rubber as another 100 mph-plus fastball hurdled toward the plate. 

Oh, I had everything he had.

Minus the 100 mph fastball.

Or any fastball, really. Continue reading

Wilco, the Project

A friend recently came to me with an interesting little project: his girlfriend, who usually has stellar taste in music, just can’t get into Wilco (who, I should note, is a band my friend I both count as a personal favorite). Oddly enough, she’s digging Tweedy, which is the side project of Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy.

So, my friend asked me to compile a tracklist designed to get her to love Wilco, or, at the very least, appreciate Wilco. I thought about the options, and what I sent is below. In the meantime, I ask any fellow Wilco fans to weigh in on what I included or, more importantly, what I left out.
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No clever headline needed: AT&T sucks

Late last week, I started experiencing some connection difficulties through my AT&T U-verse internet package, something the rep at the time assured me would be easy to fix. We scheduled an appointment for sometime between 4 and 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27, with a promise to call about an hour before arriving to allow me to get home for the technician.

I should have known things wouldn’t end well when the tech, Nathan, called at 1:30 p.m. to say he’s on his way.
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As I explained that he was quite premature in our scheduled time, he said the problem likely existed in a cable outside so it’s doubtful he’d even need to access my house. Sounds great, I told him. Check it out, and call me with any questions.

Around 3, he left a message saying the problem was fixed in the cable and that he’d leave a note in my mailbox.

At the time, I was willing to overlook that federal offense, seeing how I didn’t have to be home between the broad hours of 4-8. By the time I got home, though, it was clear that wasn’t the only personal space that had been invaded.
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Go Royals, for KC

It’s really more than just a hat.

Earlier this year, Cory Graham and I, in an effort to pay some sort of tribute to our old friend KC Jones, who had unexpectedly died, decided we should probably become Kansas City Royals fans. The reason was purely superficial: the Royals’ cap featured the letters “KC,” and we’d had more than few conversations over the years that our KC should be a fan of that KC. Not only would he have personalized caps (or shirts or jackets or whatever piece of Royals memorabilia he desired), he’d also be rooting for an obscure small-market team in an area surrounded by fans of the Yankees, Cardinals, Braves and Reds. Basically, our friend would stand out.
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A salute to my graduating nephew

Matthew Brooks was not a pretty newborn.

unnamedOh, come on — we all know it, are all probably thinking about it right now and agreeing with the statement. This came as quite a bit of a surprise. His parents are both nice-looking people, and he obviously shares some DNA with non-trolls (again, obviously), so when he arrived looking like someone had crossed an alien monkey with a prune, well, we didn’t know what to think (other than perhaps a mix-up in the nursery). It’s OK because he turned into an adorable baby, but those first few weeks were touch-and-go looks wise.
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Springsteen creates special bond with nephews

It is the hackiest way to begin a story (“It was a dark and stormy night”), but in this case, the night truly was dark and stormy, so I guess it’s fair to say a cliché led us to this moment. So, if you’ll indulge me, I want to share my own version of that time-honored story, the one of how a truck ride in Haiti led to a musical night in Nashville.

It will, of course, involve Bruce Springsteen.
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The 2014 Great Oscar Predictions Blog

This past year proved to be one of the best years for movies in recent memory. Of the Best Picture nominees I’ve seen, almost all could, in any other year, make a strong case for being the front-runner. This was also a year with so many incredible acting performances that Oscar stalwart Tom Hanks didn’t even get nominated for his devastating role in Captain Phillips.
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