Smoke and Mirrors

In a perfect world . . .

Category: Baseball (page 1 of 2)

Prayer for Boston (and all of us)

snow, wisdom, winter, fml, wtf


“Almighty God, who made the green grass on Fenway, the blue waters of Dorchester Bay and the tan sands
on the Cape, we have a simple prayer: enough with the snow already.
Whatever mysterious point you’re making about endurance, or patience or your own awesome power,
we get it: we’ve endured, we’re plenty patient and we get that you can do the snow thing.
And we know that you know the old joke (since you know everything) about how if the Pilgrims landed in Florida first this part of the country would never have been settled, ha ha, but we love it here.

We love the spring, especially on the Boston Common.
We love the fall, especially in the suburbs.
And we love the summer, especially on Cape Cod, on Cape Anne and on the South Shore.
We love all those parts of your beautiful world.
But we’ve had it with the snow.
I mean, have you looked out my window?
So we’d like to ask you to stop sending us the snow.
And, just to be clear, when we say snow we also mean freezing rain, sleet, black ice, any kind of flurries and that new creation of yours ‘thundersnow’.

We promise we’ll be good during Lent, we’ll be kind to one another and won’t ask for another thing, at least until
the Red Sox start to play.”
(Credit: Fr. James Martin, S.J.)

And the choir sang, Amen!

Twoscore and several Baseballs ago

baseball, Little League, old days, sad

Just read a status update on Facebook that shot me back over forty years ago.
The update was innocent enough:
“Just watched a kid hit a game winning home run in a little league game across the street.”

I thought about it for a second and commented, “That could have been me 45 years ago.”

Then I thought, 45 years.
I’m getting old.
Not that I feel old but living life has made me realize that the years are soaring by.

The year is 1968. I played for Police Association.
I was #4, although that may be disputed in Oxford High School circles.
I was a pitcher and catcher, depending on what position I played in the last game.
And this was a time when some kids just didn’t make it on a team.
If you didn’t get picked, you cried like a baby and went to bed hoping to do better ‘next year’.
Learn to hit a ball for cripes sake.
At 10 years of age, opposing coaches hated when I pitched because I had a curveball that no one on their team could hit.

“The kid’s too young to be throwing junk,” some would say,
“The kid’s going to hurt his arm,” others would say.

My coach?

“See you next week.”

I have an old baseball in my closet that I wrote on a million years ago: “Beat Bayer Fuel! Won 6-4! Hit 1 home run!”
That old baseball still makes me smile.
There were no strange rules back then, no town-inspired political agenda to follow, no social media available to crucify a kid because of their lack of natural athletic ability, race or creed.

No Internet.
No Sirius XM radio.
No 9/11.
No Ricin.
No steroids.
No conspiracy theories.
No NSA controversy.
No IRS scandal.
No Global warming.
No Bay City Rollers.
No Boston Marathon bombing.
No Watergate.
No Tim Tebow.
No aluminum f*&^%$g bats (God, they suck and they sound even worse)
There was baseball, pure and simple.
[good times]

Technology has changed us.
Changed everything.
For the better?
You be the judge.
As a 54 year old looking back, waaaay back, these days are the ultimate in suck, the ultimate in ridiculous luxury
and overpaid athletes that we deem Gods.
I’ll take my old-fashioned shitty curveball.
I’ll take the old days.
I’ll even take milk delivered in cold glass bottles left on the doorstep of houses in the neighborhood.
But most of all, I’ll take a steaming hot dog with spicy mustard after the game and a bottle of Coke to wash it down with.
Those days were seriously close to Heaven.
Maybe they were Heaven . . .

Cape Cod (*may not be ready)

It’s always a daunting task starting a new journal; all that virgin white space,
the absence of anything resembling a word or thought, and the cackling cynic inside me all trying to sway me towards more menial things like cutting my lawn (which needs to be done, btw) or re-grouting the tile in the bathroom.
This soft leather-covered journal was made in Italy and given to me by my daughter Jenna.
It’s really gorgeous.
I began to wonder what will be written on these pages by the years end.
In 7.23 days, me, Pamela and the girls will be spending a week on Cape Cod with
Annie, Maureen, Mark & Evyl (and Joyce!)
The location will not be disclosed so please don’t ask.
We’re celebrating Christmas in July because my wife thought
December was a silly time for all the folks involved to visit.
This is going to be one of the most amazing weeks of my life while on this spinning blue ball in space.
There will be many things: laughter, tears, music, incredible food, stories, Rum Swizzle,
bourbon, Guinness and enough fine cigars to smoke out an army of stogie veterans.
Oh, and there will be stories.
I know I already wrote that but it needs to be repeated.
Honestly, where would we be without our stories?
If someone had told me 10 years ago that I’d be spending a week of my life with people I’d never met I’d say they really ‘lost the plot’.
All of us talk on the phone and Gmail chat on a fairly regular basis so no one is a complete stranger here.
I’ve known Annie since our writing days at WVU.
And Evyl has been a true bud since I first started this blogging thing back in 2005.
As far as Maureen and Mark, I’ve known them from some previous life, or so it seems.
I could go on and on about my personal expectations regarding this most special of holidays but I prefer to record some actual memories in this very special journal.
Stay tuned for some truly awesome posts starting around the 18th of July (our first day on the Cape)
We have some blogging hijinx planned as well, actually more of a blog hijacking, so to speak.
All will be revealed in time.
We’ve all waited well over a year for this moment.
What’s 7.20 more days?
And it now looks like my new journal isn’t so new anymore.
Stay tuned.
As far as the post title goes . . .  my dear Pamela is pretty damn sure *she may not be ready.
Just watch her ‘Twitter’
for more details!
Ready or not Cape Cod, here we come!

Jasper Dreams

My father’s dresser stood roughly 5′ high and was made of a dark striped mahogany.
The handles were brushed bronze and made an interesting ‘clink’ after drawer was opened.
The most interesting thing was an item sitting on top of it;
a cast iron piggy bank that weighed about 3 lbs. with a lock on the underside of the belly.
But the strangest thing was that it was painted blue which made no sense to me whatsoever.
Pigs were not blue.
There was a small felt-lined box that held his wristwatch, rings, spare change, assorted cufflinks and an old broken lighter that I assumed had been my cigar smoking grandfathers.
There was a picture of me and my sister Maureen and an old black and white TV kitty-cornered leaning against the wall.
All of this sat on an ivory colored doily of sorts.
Actually the laced doily may have originally been white but discolored with age,
I could never be quite sure.
Dad was an orderly man, maybe even a bit anal retentive when it came to his dresser.
The drawers in order: sox, underwear and t-shirts, cheeno’s and jeans, polos and sweatshirts and in the bottom draw there was an odd assortment of archaic and godforsaken film reels (8mm) that he would never see, pocket watches, old broken wristwatches, pencils, pens, gag gifts from various milestone birthdays, an empty bottle of holy water and a grass stained baseball or two.
Upon opening any drawer of the dresser the thing I remember most vividly was the obvious scent of the man.
Though I find it hard to describe, imagine fresh warm linen with a hint of a melancholy and long forgotten rainy day.
That was my Dad.
One thing that’s baffled me all these years was his wearing of boxer shorts.
Images of him standing in front of the bathroom mirror shaving wearing nothing but boxers, a white t-shirt and stretch black socks are seared in my mind forever.
I distinctly remember the day I cleaned out his dresser for the last time.
With the exception of his boxers and t-shirts, every drawer held a different memory of him.
In his bottom drawer I found a metal ‘bank’ box that contained old bank passbooks, faded photos of people I didn’t know and various documents he had been saving.
Underneath the pile I found a tie tack I’d made him when I was about 8 years old.
It was brushed silver and had a semi-polished jasper stone set in the middle.
I made it at the same time I’d made my mother’s ‘precious stone’ earrings (each earring weighed about 8oz)
Finding the tie clip wasn’t so much of an emotional thing for me.
He didn’t leave it there for me to find.
He just never threw things like that away.
It was one more thing for me to learn about a man I would soon be losing.
The piggy bank is resting comfortably in my cellar right now in a box with all his stuff.
To this day I’m still wondering why the hell it was painted blue.
Maybe someday I’ll still be able to ask him . . .

Little Green Apples

It was my day off today and though I had 1,000 things to do I went to a funeral for a dear family friend.
It was just much more important than those 1,000 things.
JFW has been in and out of my life for as long as I’ve been on the blessed earth.
Now that he’s gone, I really miss him.
I have countless memories of a man that was truly larger than life.
The Walsh family lived across the street from us until I was about 6 years old.
Through the years we never lost touch with them and spent summer vacation’s on the Cape and endless
Saturday nights at my Mom and Dad’s camp in Boylston, singing around a blazing campfire after eating burgers, dogs and oh, so many mayonnaise-laced salads .
Life was so good back then and we didn’t even know it.
My sister and I attended the funeral today and I have to say the service was soooo John.
Believe it or not, there was laughter in the church (respectful laughter), a fitting offering to a man
that always made people laugh.
John loved cigars too and I was fortunate enough to share a few with him over the years.
(and he LOVED my cigars! they were free! Just kidding, J)
At the cemetery, after the family approached his casket and placed yellow tulips on it, I made my way
to the casket and set a Siglo VI cigar in with the tulips and placed my hand on the wood of his casket.
It was a special moment for me and a nice way to say goodbye to John.
Aterwards, my sister and me went to a gathering at a restaurant called O’Connor’s a few towns away.
After an incredible lunch, it took us well over an hour to say goodbye to a family (7 children)
that we consider ourselves to be an honorary part of.
We love you all.
Sleep well and dream of those little green apples, John
Someday I’ll be there and we will once again sing the song.
Actually, you’ll sing and I’ll play.
That’s the way you always wanted it.  :o)


May the raindrops fall lightly on your brow.
May the soft winds freshen your spirit.
May the sunshine brighten your heart
May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you.
And may God enfold you in the mantle of His love.

My father’s hats

On most days my father wears a baseball hat.
Even when he was well if he wasn’t working he was wearing some type of baseball hat.
It was an intrinsic part of his daily get up.
It was usually the Red Sox, maybe the Celtics but NEVER the NY Yankees, God forbid, he would rather die than to be caught wearing one of those.
He still wears a hat these days although he would be hard pressed to tell you which hat he was wearing.
Truth be told, on any given day lately I’d have a tough time telling you what hat I‘m wearing.
I was talking with my sister Moe the other day and
she told me a very interesting story about our father and one of his ‘hats’.
She came down last weekend to see ‘Dad’ and wheeled him down to the quaint chapel in the nursing home for Sunday morning mass. She had called ahead to ask that he be cleaned up and shaved and dressed nicely, the proverbial cherry on the sundae, his baseball hat.
They got to the chapel where I’m assuming my sister knelt and said a prayer or two (thousand) . . .
As she sat back she noticed that Dad’s hat was sitting in his lap.
She swears she did not take it off, she was sure of that.
He took it off himself.
My sister took it as a sign that our father still acknowledges the fact that he is in a place that’s sacred and taking off your hat is something you do out of reverence and respect.
Maybe she’s right.
I took it more as a sign that says she and I will never be alone in this shattered ordeal that’s slowly nearing its very blue end.
Either way, I know that I wanted to remember the moment even though I couldn’t be there.
And though it’s doubtful that our father said one single prayer that morning, I’m confident that he left the chapel with more blessings than anyone else in the place.
And I’m positive he put his baseball cap right back on as he left.

Just Evyl and me

Evyl and I have decided to offer our services to all the gentlemen types currently surfing the web looking for something interesting to read, watch or do.
We’ve started something of a manblog to be sure but it has so much more to offer than that.
At Evyl and Smoke there will be no syrupy sweet posts, no sentimentality and a no holds barred policy; a very different place than here at Smoke and Mirrors.
Oh, and absolutely ‘no bullshit’.
This is a place where I can let my hair down
(funny, so to speak, even though we’re two guys with cueball noggins)
Women, cigars, sports, beer, booze, good eats, guy gripes and chili recipes will rule the roost.
Both of us aren’t quite sure where this thing will go but it’s been a blast so far and we’ve decided to finally go public with it.
We’ll leave it up to you as far as linking to us.
We are, first and foremost, gentlemen. 😉
BTW- We decided on an anonymous system in terms of posting and commenting thinking it might offer a bit of devious fun because you’ll never really know who is who.
I’m honored beyond belief to team up with the likes of Evyl.
He pulls no punches yet you always know where you stand.
For now, I’ll just welcome you to our new abode: Evyl and Smoke
Stop by and at least say hi.
And yes, it’s most definitely a guy thing.
And that’s alright by me . . .


Dirty Water

“Well I love that dirty water;
Oh, Boston, you’re my home . . . ”

Not much more to say except the Boston Red Sox absolutely rocked the Rockies.
I’m going to friggin’ bed! {12:15am}
Oh, and Eric Byrnes? (pre-game host, Game 1)
You really suck, dude.


Sherlock’s Doppelganger

I was sent an email from my good writing friend Deb Woehr.
The email had some truly amazing pictures.
I sent it to many people.
If you didn’t get a copy, leave a comment and I’ll send it on to you.
What amazed me ( and my wife) was the picture above.
I swear to God, it looks exactly like my male cat, Sherlock!
Maybe it’s his identical twin; a feline doppelganger of sorts.
Too cool.
I’m off next week and plan on reading, writing, drinking some beer, smoking some good cigars, watching some movies, raking some leaves and cooking alot.
(a pot of Guinness Chili is already on my mind)
Sarah has been bugging me for Chicken Parm. (on its way, for sure)
I’m off starting Sunday but on Monday I truly start my “vacation” with a massage from my good friend and fellow blogger Yvonne.
Good God, I can’t wait. {and she knows that :0)}
Not sure what’s up for the blog but chances are I’ll be around in some capacity.
Have a great weekend, folks.
Go Sox! Go Pats! Go Celts! Go Bruins!
It’s great to be from New England these days . . .


Bring on the Rockies

Love ’em or hate ’em the Boston Red Sox are the 2007 ALCS Champs.
(Mark must have been wearing his lucky hat)
The game went too late for me. I fell asleep.
The World Series begins this Wednesday at Fenway Park.
Boston is buzzing.
Maybe Australia is too . . .


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