🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Baseball Gear-Grinders ⚾
Sunrise Woes 🌄
Heavy Pumpkins 🎃
There are a few baseball-related indignities in my home that, as the saying goes, grind my gears.
The first is that there is a state championship trophy on the mantel above the fireplace in our Humble Country Home with a gold-plated baseball player, bat in hand ready to crush whatever pitch may come, standing majestically atop the base. It is Wifey Poo’s.
This is maddening because, while Wifey Poo is amazing at many, many things, baseball is not one of them. In fact, so bad is she and has she always been at anything played with a round ball that she played just one season of softball — a season she forgot resulted in a state championship until she stumbled upon the trophy while cleaning out the basement last year!!!!
She remembers nothing about the season and is pretty sure her greatest contribution to the championship was maybe — maybe — earning a walk once.
Her husband, on the other hand, dedicated his young life to the game. He played it, watched it, lived it, gave a tendon in his right forearm for it and carries around a lump of scar tissue in said forearm to prove it. And while he won a league title and was named to several All-Star teams, he never — never — came close to winning a state championship.
This is a sore spot in our marriage made worse by that little gold bastard atop the trophy staring down at me every time I’m sitting on the couch.
The other gear-grinding thing related to the great game of baseball is that, despite my far greater love of the sport of baseball than Wifey Poo, only one of us has ever been to a playoff baseball game, and that person has boobs.
Now, this is not all my fault. Despite growing up a Yankees fan and people thinking that meant I was some front-runner who casually took the latest World Series win as ho-hum as someone ordering a bowl of soup, the Yankees absolutely sucked when I was growing up.
They won the World Series in 1978, when I was 4, then made the World Series in 1981 and were god-awful after that, until I went to college in Iowa.
My father was a fearful sort who eschewed crowds. It’s why, despite the fact that I grew up in the shadow of the City That Never Sleeps, I have seen so little of it and rarely experienced any of the amazing things that happened there. Never in a million years would he have ever considered taking me to a playoff baseball game. By the time I could make that decision for myself — or had friends whose fathers would make such a decision — the Yanks were garbage.
The low point? Glad you asked.
It was July 1, 1990. I was nearing my 16th birthday. En route to a 67-95 record in which they finished DFL in the seven-team AL East, Andy Hawkins pitched a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox. Great news, right?
The Yankees lost that game. And it wasn’t 1-0 on some freak error. It was 4-0. The Yankees allowed zero hits to their opponents that game and lost four to freaking nothing.
In a 0-0 game in the eighth, Hawkins got Ron Karkovice and Scott Fletcher on infield pop-outs to second baseman Steve Sax. Sammy Sosa (yes, that Sammy Sosa) reached first on a fielding error by third baseman Mike Blowers, which, sadly, rhymes with “ow” and not “blow.”
Hawkins then walked Ozzie Guillen and Lance Johnson to load the bases, before Robin Ventura hit a ball into a gusty summer breeze. The ball glanced off converted-catcher-turned-left-fielder Jim Leyritz’s glove for a two-base error. Three runs scored.
Then, to really kick the Yankees fans in the balls, right fielder Jesse Barfield (we had lots of fun with that name as kids), misplayed a ball hit by Ivan Calderon, losing it in the sun before dropping it for another error, which scored Ventura.
Yes, that happened.
So yeah, I didn’t have many opportunities to go to playoff baseball games.
In 2019, Wifey Poo found cheap-ish tickets to a Cardinals playoff game against the Atlanta Braves and took Boy The Younger. It was a thrilling extra-inning affair in which the Cardinals scored one in the bottom of the eighth on a Yadier Molina single to tie the game to send it to extras. In the 10th, Molina hit a walk-off sacrifice fly, and the Cardinals won.
I experienced the thrilling victory by not experiencing it. I was at work.
Boy The Younger is 13. He’s gone to a playoff baseball game. Grrrr.
Even Boy The Elder has been to a playoff game, though it was in hockey. On the day his first real girlfriend broke up with him (I never liked her, so this was good news), he was there for Game 7 of the second round of the St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup run. In that game, the score was tied after regulation.
It was tied after the first overtime.
Then, 5:50 into the second overtime, Pat Maroon tapped in a rebound to send the Blues home a winner in what my son calls one of the best days of his life. I hate him for that.
So in my family, three of the Core Four have experienced playoff happiness. I have not.
That’s going to change.
Yesterday, I got tickets for Wifey Poo, BTY and I to go to Saturday’s Wild Card playoff game between the Cardinals and the Phillies. It’s not the Yankees, but the Cardinals are a fun team to watch, and they’re my hometown team, so I’ll root for them. It will be great to even the score with the rest of the fam in playoff game attendance.
Now what to do about that damn trophy?
I’ve written extensively about how working from home is not going to be a thing that sticks around. My new company is most definitely a work-from-the-office business. I knew that when I took the job. I am not upset about it.
But on a morning in which my half-hour commute turns into an hour-plus commute because people can’t handle the sun rising and it causes an accident or five? Yeah. That.
It is no secret I’m of the very strong opinion that Muricah is faltering and will soon cease to be a superpower of any sort. But I know we’re not there yet.
How do I know? Well, an upstate New York man set a new record by growing a pumpkin that weighed in at 2,554 pounds. What’s the connection? If you’re living in a country where people are recognized for growing heavy pumpkins, you’re in a nation that’s doing a-okay. I’m quite sure no one in, say, Sudan or Burkina Faso is getting hyped for the size of their produce.
WFH 4EVER? Not So Fast
It’s good to be the king.” Mel Brooks, History of the World: Part 1 I am currently sitting in an office that no one else wanted to fill. Two weeks ago, I started a new job with a company that had a zero-WFH (Work From Home) policy as one of the conditions of hiring. That,…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Playoff baseball on Saturday!
- Fall weather — highs in the 60s coming!
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chain Links 🔗”Work” 🧑💼Popular Toys 🧸 After my first son died in December 2000, I spent a lot of time wondering why. Why me? Why Wifey Poo? Why Jacob? Why this level of suffering in a world supposedly created and run by an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God? So I did what…Keep reading
Freezing Fans — Dec. 26, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chiefs! 🏈Indy Tickets 🏎️Bank Visit 💰 When I bought the tickets to the Christmas Eve contest between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Seattle Seahawks as a gift for Boys The Elder & Younger, it was sometime in September and temps hovered around 90 degrees. The thought that the game might…Keep reading
Jacob at 22 — Dec. 20, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Timelines 👶Extinctions 🌋Sin City 👌 As I fall deeper down the rabbit hole learning more about theories on space and time, the concept of alternative timelines comes up again and again and again. Whether it’s the stuff of science fiction or one day will be proven to be the stuff of…Keep reading
Joe(y) the Comedian — Dec. 18, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩’Cousin’ Laughs🎤Improv!?!? 🎭Drake Hoops 🏀 Back when I was a boy, I had a favorite Cousin-Who-Wasn’t-A-Cousin. His name was Joey DeVito, and he was in no way a blood relation to me, though I called his father Uncle Frankie and his mother Aunt Celia. I’m pretty sure this is an East…Keep reading
Doughnut Guy — Dec. 17, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Glazed 🍩Bingo! 🖥️Disappearing Christians ⛪ I didn’t intend to bring doughnuts for my co-workers yesterday morning. It just sorta happened. How it happened and how it played out is a window into my weird mind. First, an explanation: I have a card purchased from Boy The Younger that entitles me to…Keep reading
James and Stinky — Dec. 15, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩STL’s Homeless 😥Snake Hoo-Hoos 🐍That Was Epoch 👴 I found James huddled underneath a blanket as he sat, knees to his chest, head bowed, just outside the doorway of a CVS in the Delmar Loop section of St. Louis. If you’re not familiar with the area, it’s a fun place filled…Keep reading
Paul Silas — Dec. 14, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Knicks Memory 🏀JBM LLC 🧑🏼💼Brain Drain 🧠 My most memorable interaction with Paul Silas occurred when I was a 17-year-old kid with big dreams of being a sports reporter. I’d talked with Paul before — his wife and Mother Dearest were active in the local Make A Wish Foundation chapter and…Keep reading
Humbug — Dec. 13, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Piped-In Music 🎵Astronomy 🔭Fusion ☢️ Here’s the thing about Christmas: I want to love it, and in many ways, I do. I love giving gifts and, to be honest, I love getting gifts. There’s something so cool about the magical times when someone knows you well enough to get you that…Keep reading
Aunt Pauline — Dec. 9, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Familial Reflections 👪Career Rebuild 🛠️Andrea 📱 It’s hard to think of my Aunt Pauline as old, hard to imagine how it is that she’s just about to leave her 80s and, thus, it’s hard to understand how she could be in such poor health right now. Aunt Pauline is Father Dearest’s…Keep reading
Bye-Bye, Zombies — Dec. 8, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Walking Dead 🧟Nose B Gone 👃Turkey Trouble 🦃 I spent Tuesday night watching the final episodes of The Walking Dead. I have always been the type who can get so lost in a good story that I have really strong emotions (shocker, I know) when it ends. It happens with…Keep reading
Redefining Family — Dec. 6, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Who’s Family? 👪Music Speaks 🎵Wedding Websites 👨❤️👨 I was raised as an East Coast Italian, despite being a mixed bag of ethnicities born in Denver, Colorado. That meant that there was this huge importance placed on family that’s not necessarily shared with the same ferocity by others. Yet as I grew…Keep reading
Grief — Dec. 5, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Messy Grief 😔Hear Ye! 👂Die Trump Die 😡 I am acutely aware that I am hardly alone as a 48-year-old man when I say that I am well acquainted with grief. I’m not sure if it was always this way — though I imagine it was — but I don’t think…Keep reading
Human Jewel Beetles — Dec. 3, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beer Bottle Connections 🍺Ear Concerns 👂BTE vs. Deer 🦌 What exactly is reality? Is there a limit to the universe? How can something as heavy as the Earth be just sort of suspended … and what exactly is it suspended in? This is the rabbit hole I’ve fallen down, all while…Keep reading
Be Yourself — Dec. 1, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩A Good Self 👋Urgent Care, Revisited 👩⚕️Slow Down 🐢 I remember this time back in sixth grade when a trusted adult was talking to me as I struggled through what turned out to be a pretty life-defining traumatic experience. The friends I’d grown up with since I was a small boy…Keep reading
Deer Drama — Nov. 30 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shooting a Fake Deer 🦌Time Spent Poorly ⏰Child Support 💸 About midway up my left shin underneath my leg hair is a scar about three inches long and the width of a deer antler. Well, a fake deer antler, anyway. “Deer-antler width” is hardly a standard unit of measurement, I know,…Keep reading
Metallica! — Nov. 29 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Gods of Music Deliver! 🎸Insta-Anger 😠Unpleasant 😓 I was in need of something good to happen yesterday. Desperate need. The gods of music delivered. Metallica is coming to St. Louis in concert in 2023 for a two-day show at the Dome at the America Center. I found out about this at…Keep reading
Double Ear Infection — Nov. 27, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Urgent Care 👂👂Alone Update 😔Rest 🛏️ It’s never a good sign when, less than two seconds after sticking a light in your ear and gazing through the little viewfinder thingy (patent pending), the doctor says, “Oooooooooh.” That was followed by a diagnosis of a “nasty” left ear infection and the question,…Keep reading
Fitting in — Nov. 25, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Alone 😔Christmas Changes🎄My Two Skillz 🔪 I would venture to guess that most of us like the feeling of fitting in somewhere. Even the most self-confident, secure person likes to have a tribe. We’re social creatures, and to have a place we just seem to slide into safely is a blessing.…Keep reading
Spouse+ Subscription — Nov. 23, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Marriage Talk 💑Requesting Money 💰Murder-Free 🔪 If you’ve been married as long as I have (rounding the corner and heading toward 26 years), you understand that conversations between spouses can sometimes be awfully weird. I mean, Wifey Poo and I have known each other more than 30 years now. How much…Keep reading
Coffee Hand — Nov. 22, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Man Cold? 🤒Balloon Analogy 🎈World Flop ⚽ If you want to know how my Monday started yesterday, I poured coffee all over my hand. It isn’t that I don’t know how to pour coffee. I’ve done it a billion times. It’s that, on this particular Monday, somewhere in between the start…Keep reading
Zoo Signs — Nov. 20, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Gorilla Harassment 🦍Brother Love 👨👦👦True Crime 🔪 My love of wild animals was fostered early in my childhood. Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom was appointment viewing for my family. I grew up with scenes of hungry cheetahs chasing down baby gazelles that included what’s not included on nature shows today ……Keep reading
No Slides Allowed — Nov. 17, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Presentation Skillz 📽️No Tribe 😔Fuck 45 🖕 There was a time not all that long ago, cosmically speaking, that the mere thought of standing up in front of a crowd and giving a talk would have made me want to throw up in my shoes. In fact, there has been a…Keep reading
What’s Funny? — Nov. 15, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Boss Kudos 🙌Chill Time 😌One In 8 Billion🧍 It always feels good when the Big Bossman comes up to you and shakes your hand for a job well done. That happened last night when El Presidente of our company congratulated me on the video I wrote, shot and produced for our…Keep reading
Engaged — Nov. 14, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩BTE and Div 💍Brother Greetings 👨👩👦👦Travel Day ✈️ The morning after Boy The Elder was born, I awoke in the hospital to his sweet cooing and his momma’s deep-sleep breathing. Scooping him up carefully and holding him nervously, I sat in a rocking chair in the pre-dawn darkness and talked to…Keep reading
Dying Democracy — Nov. 11, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Election Message 🗳️School Priorities 🏫Tickets Aplenty 🎫 It would seem to me that if a common sentiment from wise people following an election is that it’s a good thing the results were so muddled because it means not much will get done in the next two years, you’ve got yourself a…Keep reading
Fairy Tale — Nov. 9, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stephen King 🕮Legal Weed🌿Public Schools🏫 I read my first Stephen King book when I was in high school. It was summer, if I remember correctly, and everywhere I went, I carried a worn library copy of Pet Sematary. Since that time, King’s words have been a regular companion through every stage…Keep reading
Year In Music — Nov. 5, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Concert Craze 🎵Back Crackin’👩⚕️To-Dos Done🚗 My year of music is over. And, my God, has it been good. It started on a sweltering mid-July afternoon at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in which Wifey Poo and I watched my Backup Wife Jewel do her thing. It ended last night on an evening that…Keep reading
Update: My Favorite African — Nov. 3, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Little D’s Return 🏥Irony 🔨Planet Killer 🌎 Being a host parent to a little boy from Africa (Burkina Faso, to be precise) was one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life. And now, that little boy is returning to the United States. For those not…Keep reading
Mega Billions — Nov. 2, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stupid IT Rules 🖥️The Bend 🚑Is The War Over? ✌️ Tonight, there will be a lottery drawing in which someone could win $1.2 billion. That someone won’t be me, as I didn’t buy a ticket, but it didn’t stop me from thinking about what I would and wouldn’t do with that…Keep reading
Fun Family — Nov. 1, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Family Dynamics 👪New Mattress 🛏️To Share Or Not To Share? ❓ Let’s say the only cracker you’ve ever eaten is a Saltine. You have no experience with any other crackers. In fact, you don’t even know that there is such a thing as other crackers. You might not love the Saltine,…Keep reading
Halloween Haters— Oct. 31, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ghosts of Halloween 👻Wrinkles 👴Words Spawn Action ✍️ Wifey Poo made a bold declaration about her opinion of Halloween on our drive back from Springfield, Missourah, Saturday afternoon: “Halloween is a great time for kids to dress up …” If you think there’s more to that statement, nope. She added: “Period.”…Keep reading
How I Do Me — Oct. 27, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Empath Life 🤗Earthquake 🌎Revolutionary Failure 😶 About six months after I started my career as a professional journalist, I started walking past this job opening in our company every time I walked in and out of the building. It was for editor of a weekly paper routinely ridiculed by those who…Keep reading
School Shooter Match Game — Oct. 24, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Game Time 🎮Family Picture📸Marriage Tips 🪢 I remember when it was simple. Horrible, yes … but simple. There was Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and they matched up with Columbine — which, side note, would have been my high school had my parents not moved to NY when I was 2.…Keep reading
Helping the Homeless — Oct. 23, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Helper Bags 🆘What’s In The Bag?🎒Mini Golf ⛳ I was raised to avoid the homeless. Avoid eye contact. Avoid conversation. And most definitely avoid giving them anything they asked for. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this, which doesn’t make me feel any better. What was instilled in me as…Keep reading
Marcus F’n King — Oct. 21, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Books & Covers 🕮Seeking Balance ⚖️Weirdo🤪 We’re taught at an early age to not judge a book by its cover. If I remember correctly, that was impressed upon me sometime around the first grade. Yet to be honest, I don’t think it’s a lesson that ever really sunk in. I imagine…Keep reading
Political Ads — Oct. 20, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Illegals or Guns? 🤦Scrolling Through Stupidity 🖱️Worst Nurse Ever 👩⚕️ If there’s anything I hate more than politics and politicians, it’s political advertising. Cutting the cable cord has lessened its intrusiveness in my life, yet it still manages to seep in. Case in point: I was watching the Padres-Phillies game last…Keep reading
Chocolateman— Oct. 19, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Passion 🍫Sarcasm 😜Poop 💩 I appreciate people who are passionate about something. Well, except politics. Then I’d prefer it if you’d just keep your mouth shut. But if you’re super-interested in photography, goats, cooking, geocaching, quilting, etching … whatever … your enthusiasm feeds my soul. Which is part of the reason…Keep reading
Top 5 Things From The Past Week: Oct. 10-16 edition
Welcome to Issue No. 9 of Listicles, the feature that presents the Top 10, Top 5, Top 3, Top 100 or Top 1,000,000 of whatever it is you want to know about. Email your Listicle suggestions to email@example.com. No. 5: I pledged to finish something I am a writer. If I’m going to be a…Keep reading
Evolution — Oct. 17, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Monkey Crap 🐒BTY Day 👨👦Incomplete Stories 🖊️ If you’re of the belief that human beings evolved from apes, I’m not here to try to dissuade you. What I am here to say is that, if evolution is true, we sure have come a long way. I say this after a trip…Keep reading
Basement Water — Oct. 15, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Personal Growth 🌱Mad Mom 😠Oh, Jeffrey 🧠 About a year ago, Arti The Wonder Therapist waited patiently for me to finish yet another of my amazing monologues detailing just how I felt about the various situations I was attempting to address in my life at the time and then calmly asked…Keep reading