The perfect adult weekend: ideal weather (sunny, highs in the low 80s, just a hint of humidity but not enough to make it truly sticky), an entire day in the yard, another day spent out on the back deck listening to baseball, and the wife has been in Florida the whole time. Wait, that last part isn’t ideal, don’t quote that line ever. But pretty much everything else about the weekend was perfect. I’ve got a few more hours before I head to the airport to pick S. up, so I’m holed up in our sun room (although it’s truly lovely outside, it’s extremely windy and each new gust loosens another wave of dead limbs and leaves towards me; I need the protection) with the Old School Rap Music Choice channel cranked, enjoying the last couple hours of sun. It’s about a month early, but it would really be great if they slipped DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s “Summertime” into the mix.
I’ve slept with the windows open the last four nights, the ceiling fans have been running the past two days, and I nearly turned the air conditioning on today (it was 85). The trees are starting to bud, so we’re seeing less and less of our neighbors behind us. The squirrels and birds are going nuts. A few more weeks and the night air will be full of the masses of cicadas predicted for this year, and other night time performers. But for now, the nights are warm, breezy, and silent.

While I was cleaning up after my yard work yesterday, blowing leaves and clippings back into our tree grove, I decided to aim the leaf blower under the deck to give our friend Mr. Opossum a welcome to spring. Forgetting the fact he/she may well have moved on by now, I didn’t take a second to think, it’s an opossum! It’s not going to come running out because I aim some high powered air in its general direction. It’s going to curl up and act dead until I leave it alone. I need to remember the facts I picked up while reading my National Geographic animal cards when I was a kid.

The Royals are quickly transforming from exciting to depressing. Can anyone on this team hold a lead? This is getting to be reminiscent of the 1999 team, except that team was supposed to be awful so 11-10 losses seemed like hope for the future instead of a failure of the carefully assembled talent. Proving it’s something to do with me, I listened to my first Indianapolis Indians’ game today. Each Indians lead was met with an immediate Richmond Braves answer. Finally, the Braves won in 10 innings (I think, I turned it off by then). Luckily, there were two other baseball stories this weekend. First, the first Yankees – Red Sox series. I can pretty much echo my comments from the UNC-Duke game in March: we know it’s a great rivalry, do you really have to hype it so much? In the grand scheme of things, this series was totally meaningless. If Boston had won Sunday and gotten the series sweep, it would have absolutely no bearing on a possible playoff series between the two teams later this year. That’s what’s great about baseball: in a 162 game season, while rivalries are important for fans, they don’t make or break a team’s season. Settle down, people, we’ve still got 150 or so games to go before they really matter to franchises like Boston and New York. Second, Barry Bonds’ revival over the weekend. The whole steroids in baseball thing is hard for me to work with. On the one hand, performance enhancing drugs should be strictly policed and banned. But as the old saying states, the hardest thing to do in sports is hit a baseball. I find it hard to believe Barry hasn’t used something less than savory to improve his performance (I think the same about Mark McGuire). Whether it was true steroids or not, I won’t hazard a guess. However, any “supplements” either player used may have turned 425 foot home runs into 450 foot shots, but neither guy hit a lot of cheapies. And they still had to hit the ball. For all his surliness, inappropriate actions, and outright hostility to fans and the media, Barry is arguably the greatest player ever. It’s been a joy to watch him perform over the course of his career. He’s really the one baseball player that commands your attention at each at bat. I hope he stays healthy and can give the Hank Aaron record a run.

All that said, Yankees suck!

I did watch a pretty good chunk of the Fox broadcast of Friday’s Sox-Yanks game. One of my favorite things about Tim McCarver is how he is always trying to prove how smart he is. He has a unique method of pronouncing the names of foreign born players to attempt to show his worldly knowledge. What I love about it is how he almost always does it wrong, pronouncing them as a New Yorker would rather than how a fluent speaker of Spanish (most often) would pronounce them.. Example: Friday he kept referring to Enrique Wilson of the Yankees as “on-REE-kay”. As anyone who’s ever taken Spanish knows, the letter E is always pronounced the equivalent of a short E in English, “eh”. So it should be “ehn-REE-kay”. Give him credit for being consistent, though. Joe Buck always came back quickly with the correct pronunciation, which was a nice victory for those of us concerned with such things.

Some of you might wonder what I think about Roy Williams’ comments in Sunday’s KC Star referring to KU fans assuming he was some how behind David Padgett’s decision to transfer. Listen, I don’t think he was directly responsible in any way. I think it’s fairly obvious that David’s father has a different idea for how his son should play than Bill Self does. No biggie, that happens all the time in college sports. David did plan on coming to KU and playing for Roy, so it’s understandable that there may be some lingering issues from last year’s mess. But once again, Roy is proving he has either an extremely limited or selective memory. A year ago at this time, he was shocked when someone asked him about his promise to not have another press conference about his coaching status until he retired, despite making that statement on a night 20,000 of us went to Memorial Stadium to listen to him say exactly that. Now, he’s somehow incredulous that anyone would find it likely that David Padgett might end up and North Carolina. Apparently Roy has forgotten how he teared up just about a year ago and talked about how hard it was for him not to be able to coach Padgett and Omar Wilkes. Perhaps he has forgotten how he, for the first time ever, came out strongly in favor of letting recruits out of the letters of intent when there is a coaching change. It was well into last summer when he finally acknowledged his “press conference” comments. Maybe he’ll finally remember him referring to Padgett being “stuck out there” (Yet never once mentioning the names Wayne Simien, Keith Langford, or Aaron Miles) in a couple months and understand why some people are still pissed and him and North Carolina for ruining what should have been a great ten days for the players on the 2003 KU team. The only good thing about the end of the basketball season was the first year was over. There will always be comparisons between Roy, Bill, and Bruce Snyder by fans of North Carolina, Kansas, and Illinois. But once the first season is over, people can settle down and not fixate on those comparisons. Roy, perhaps in an attempt to make sure he’s not forgotten in Lawrence, is doing his best to not let us move on.

I was out driving around Saturday and passed the local high school sports complex. I noticed the parking lot was full of cars and busses, so assumed there was a track meet or something going on. On my way back later, I saw it was actually a tennis tournament that was going on. Does it make me a dirty old man to have noticed, while passing roughly 1000 feet away at 55 miles per hour, that high school girls are wearing shockingly revealing clothes on the tennis courts? I swear I saw a couple navel rings even from that distance.

When I was a kid, I thought dandelions were kind of cool. Now, they’re public enemy #1 in this household.

Why was it news that Emeka Okafor was declaring for the NBA draft? Didn’t UConn already retire his jersey? Wasn’t that kind of a hint that he wouldn’t be back next year? It’s bad enough that Duke has taken to retiring jerseys on worthy senior’s final home game. UConn did it for a kid with a year of eligibility left! Not that he wasn’t deserving or that he doesn’t carry himself on and off the court in a manner other players should aspire to, but what if UConn got upset early in the tournament? Is his career tainted? Until UConn beat Georgia Tech, he was just another very good player who happened to play on the east coast, and thus be considered an all-time great prematurely. Would UConn have looked silly for hanging his jersey so soon? What if he decided to come back for his senior year? Would they quietly have removed his jersey from the rafters for another year?

I’m in the middle of a baseball reading project. I just finished Daniel Okrent’s Nine Innings, which is supposed to be an explanation of the anatomy of baseball as told through the nine innings of a real game. In addition to relaying the on-the-field happenings and strategies of a game between Baltimore and Milwaukee in 1982, it also explains the then relatively new concept of free agency, minor league systems, ownership groups, managerial concepts, and on an on. I bought the book in 1986, but don’t think I ever read it all the way through. I found two rather interesting bookmarks. One was the wearing schedule for my first pair of contact lenses. It appears as though I picked them up on July 21, 1986, so I believe that confirms details of a certain letter also written that summer that was exposed publicly last year. Seeing the card certainly brought back memories of trying to get my finger into my eye to put in/remove my lenses. It took about 150 tries each time I put them in, took them out. Second, I found a McDonald’s Dick Tracy scratch off game from 1990. Looks like they still owe me a cheeseburger. I started Michael Lewis’ Moneyball today, which is part two of my reading project.

While we’re talking about projects, I have a very special one lined up for later this week that I hope you all will enjoy. Not letting it out of the bag yet, in case I don’t get around to it when I plan. But it should be something of interest to all.