don't throw back that ball, keep it

The baseball season is over for Giants fans, but I can still drag out a happy memory from 2002, a season that didn’t end well. It was the third year I had full season tickets, which meant I went to every home post-season game, including Game 4 of the NLCS against the Cardinals, which was played 14 years ago today, October 13, 2002. The Giants were up 2 games to 1 in the best-of-seven series. The Cards’ SS was a future Giants’ post-season hero, Edgar Renteria. The starting pitchers were Andy Benes for the Cardinals, in what was to be his final game as a major-leaguer, and Livan Hernandez for the Giants.

The Cardinals jumped on Livan for two runs in the first, and Benes held off the Giants until the sixth, when two straight walks sent him to the showers. J.T. Snow doubled off of reliever Rick White to tie the game, which is how it stood until the bottom of the 8th. White was still pitching, and in fact had retired six straight after Snow’s hit. There were two outs, with the dangerous Barry Bonds at the plate. You youngsters out there might find it hard to believe, but those of us who there during the latter part of Barry’s career won’t be surprised by what followed. Bonds had been walked 198 times during the regular season. He had been walked four times in five games in the NLDS against Atlanta. The Cardinals walked him seven times in the first three games of this series, and they walked him again in the 6th inning, when he scored after Snow doubled. So here in the bottom of the 8th of a tie game, two outs, no one on base, pitcher has retired six in a row ... and St. Louis manager Tony “The Genius” LaRussa walked Bonds intentionally.

Up came Benito Santiago. Benito had three hits including a homer in Game One, and two more hits in Game Three.

This happened next:

The Giants went on to win, 4-3, and won the series the next day, setting up the ill-fated World Series against the Angels. Benito Santiago was named Most Valuable Player of the NLCS.


throw back the crunch

Checking the shelves at a local chain drug store for some yummy treats, I came across a mini-box of my favorite cereal of all time, Cap’n Crunch. This delicious cereal was introduced in 1963, when I was 10 years old. Here is the very first commercial for Cap’n Crunch, created by former Berkeley resident Jay Ward, the animator who gave us such great characters as Rocky and Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right, Sherman and Mr. Peabody, and George of the Jungle. (A baby-boomer Hall of Fame.)

One sign of the times is that they promoted the cereal as “sugar sweet” ... at least they kept the word “sugar” out of the name, meaning it is still called Cap’n Crunch, just as it was in 1963. (Other cereals were not so lucky, resulting in name changes as times changed ... to the best of my knowledge, you can still buy Sugar Puffs, Sugar Smacks, Sugar Pops, Sugar Crisp, and Sugar Frosted Flakes, to name a few ... you just won’t see those names on the boxes, the word “sugar” being removed.)

The commercial also notes the importance of “crunch”. Cap’n Crunch is true to its name ... it is indeed quite crunchy. The ad tells us that this is because it stays crunchy, even in milk. My wife, who can’t stand the stuff, points out that the crunchiness, combined with the shape of each morsel, means you hurt the roof of your mouth with every bite.

The ever-trustworthy Wikipedia tells us that Cap’n Crunch actually has roots in something almost traditional, despite the aura it gives of being concocted in a lab out of sugar and chemicals:

Pamela Low, a flavorist at Arthur D. Little and 1951 graduate of the University of New Hampshire with a microbiology degree, developed the original Cap'n Crunch flavor in 1963—recalling a recipe of brown sugar and butter her grandmother Luella Low served over rice at her home in Derry, New Hampshire.

And:

Grandma would make this concoction with rice and the sauce that she had; it was a combination of brown sugar and butter. It tasted good, obviously. They'd put it over the rice and eat it as a kind of a treat on Sundays...
—William Low, Pamela Low's brother

All due respect to my own grandmothers, who were wonderful women, but I think Luella Low belongs in the main wing of the Grandmother’s Hall of Fame.

Wikipedia lists more than two dozen offshoots of the original cereal, beginning with Crunch Berries in 1967, but I always saw them as interlopers. My Cap’n Crunch never needed to be tarted up with berries and such.

I had a bowl last night. I was as delicious as ever.


after they’ve seen paree

It’s a story I’ve told before, but it is Throwback Thursday, after all.

My wife and I made our first trip to Europe in 1984. We stayed with Robin’s sister and her soon-to-be husband Peter in England ... I want to say they lived in Little Bookham, but I’m not sure. As I recall (I’m only going to say that once, but imagine I’ve said it before every sentence ... this was 32 years ago, after all), we quickly took off on a car trip. We were staying for three weeks, so time was tight. We drove down through France after taking the ferry (urp, barf), and crossed over into Andorra, which I probably didn’t know existed at the time. Then to Barcelona, where Peter had family ... he was a true European, English heritage but with time spent in Spain and France at least, conversant in several languages. While in Barcelona, we visited the Museu Fundacio Joan Miro, where Robin’s sister took the following photo, which recently turned up on Facebook:

miro 1984

I’m not sure what order we did things, but either going to or coming from France, we shopped in Andorra, which was duty-free. We also spent a night in the Pyrenees at a place Peter’s family owned ... there was a town named La Seu d’Urgell, perhaps it was there. On our way back through France, we spent one night in Meung, a small town on the Loire where I had the best birthday dinner of my life.

Back in England, Peter took me to Wimbledon. I always say I saw McEnroe and Connors at Wimbledon, which is technically true, although it was in different matches. Connors beat a fellow American, Lloyd Bourne, on Court One, after McEnroe had dispatched Australian Paul McNamee. I have long forgotten this, but McNamee actually took the third set in that match, making him the only player to do so against McEnroe in the entire tournament.

What brings all this to mind is a different sport. Euro 2016 is going on right now in France, and when we vacationed in 1984, the Euros were taking place, also in France. Wherever we went as we drove from England to Spain and back again, people were glued to their televisions. Spain made it to the finals, where they lost to France, 2-0. It was then that I discovered my first soccer hero, Michel Platini, who scored nine goals in the tournament (no one else scored more than three). What I knew about soccer in 1984 would barely fill an English teacup, but I have Platini to thank for getting me interested. (Here's a link to all of his goals: https://youtu.be/IU9S9oaa-AU

Platini was indeed one of the greatest soccer players of all time, and after his playing days, he went on to have a significant career in administration, spending eight years as President of UEFA. Sadly, not all stories end well ... he is currently banned for ethics corruption. Not to excuse him, but he was born at the wrong time ... it would seem that every soccer administrator today is steeped in corruption.

I retained a lot from that European trip. It was my first time in Spain (albeit we never got close to Andalucía ... that waited until 2000). When we went to Europe, I had just finished ten years in the factory. I guess it was a case of “How Ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm (After They've Seen Paree)?”, because within a couple of months, I had walked off the job, never to return.


43 years ago today

All of these have been posted before, but let’s put them in one place.

When Robin got home after our first kiss, she wrote herself this note:

first night

One of our earliest dates:

promnight

When we (i.e. Robin) planned the wedding, she had the following budget:

wedding money

The invitations:

Robin & Steven115

The script for the service:

ceremony

Standing around, waiting for my dad to get back from the bathroom so we could begin:

wedding

The ceremony, or close enough to count:

weddingcrowd

After the wedding, ready to go on our honeymoon:

post-wedding

The bill for the motel room:

honeymoon

Among the places we ate on our honeymoon was El Toro Bravo in Capitola:

el toro bravo


throw me back to 2005

On this date in 2005, we saw Bruce Springsteen on the Devils and Dust tour. At the time, I wrote:

Next up was the weirdest version of "Reason to Believe" in history. He stomped his foot for a drum, played harmonica, and sang into some oddball mic that distorted his voice beyond recognition, so even someone like me, who knew it was coming, didn't recognize the song until it was almost over. Try to imagine Captain Beefheart singing Delta blues from the bottom of a swamp ... it was downright scary sounding.

Here he is performing it a month later, to give you an idea:

Two years later, it had morphed into this stunning version:

Seen a man standin' over a dead dog lyin' by the highway in a ditch
He's lookin' down kinda puzzled pokin' that dog with a stick
Got his car door flung open he's standin' out on Highway 31
Like if he stood there long enough that dog'd get up and run
Struck me kinda funny seem kinda funny sir to me
Still at the end of every hard day people find some reason to believe


throw me out to the ballgame

I have no idea what I can say at this point that adds anything to what I’ve said before. I went to my first Giants Opening Day in 1980, and I haven’t missed an opener since. Today will be my 37th consecutive such game. At times, I kinda wish I’d missed a game in there, just so I could just enjoy the game for what it is, and not for the record I am continuing.

Oh, who am I kidding? It’s fun running up such a silly streak.

As I have often done, here are a few of the highlights of the past 36 years.

April 17, 1980. My first opening day. I had a broken foot. The Giants beat the Padres, Vida Blue pitched a complete game.

April 5, 1983. Still probably the most exciting opener I’ve seen. Mike Krukow couldn’t get out of the second inning, the Padres put up 8 runs in the fifth, and when the Giants responded with 3 runs in the bottom of the inning, the Padres got them right back in the top of the 6th to take a 16-6 lead. Yet by the bottom of the 8th, the Giants had the tying run at the plate, Tom O’Malley. That’s when the dream ended, as O’Malley flied out and the Giants were retired in order in the ninth for a 16-13 loss.

April 6, 1987. Chili Davis singled off of Dave Dravecky, scoring Jeffrey Leonard to give the Giants a 12-inning walk-off victory over, yes, the Padres.

April 12, 1993. Barry Bonds’ first home opener as a Giant. Of course he hit a homer. Darren Lewis knocked a walk-off single in the 11th to beat ... the Marlins. The Grateful Dead sang the anthem.

April 7, 1998. Rey Sanchez had a walk-off pinch-hit single in the bottom of the 10th to beat the Astros.

April 8, 1999. The last opener at Candlestick. The Giants rolled over the Padres, 12-4. Barry homered.

April 11, 2000. The first game at the new ballpark. In his first at-bat at China Basin, Barry smacked a run-scoring double. His next time up, he homered. But the story of the game was Dodgers shortstop Kevin Elster, who hadn’t played a single game at any level in 1999. He hit three homers and the Dodgers won.

April 5, 2002. Fourth game of the season. Barry hit his fifth homer of the season, this one a 2-run shot in the bottom of the 10th to send us home.

April 9, 2010. We didn’t know it yet, but this was the year the Giants finally won the World Series. In the opener, Aaron Rowand singled in the bottom of the 13th to win it.

April 8, 2011. The first-ever World Series championship banner raising in San Francisco history. Aaron Rowand singled in the bottom of the 12th to win it.

April 13, 2012. In the top of the 6th, Pirates’ pitcher James McDonald rolled a squeaker past third base into left field off of Matt Cain. He was Pittsburgh’s only base runner. Cain struck out 11.


throw it back, whammer jammer

On this date in 1982, I saw the J. Geils Band at the Civic Center in San Francisco. It was the second of two shows at Civic. I thought it was a fine concert, although I was on psychedelics so I’m not to be trusted. I loved that band, saw them several times in concert.

What makes this concert noteworthy in retrospect was the opening act: U2. Although no one knew it then, this was the last time U2 opened for anyone, other than at festivals. My memory is they kicked ass that night, although stories that they blew J Geils off the stage are exaggerating.

For U2 fans, here is their setlist:

Gloria

I Threw a Brick Through a Window

A Day Without Me

An Cat Dubh

Into the Heart

Rejoice

The Cry

The Electric Co.

I Will Follow

Encore: Out Of Control and 11 O'clock Tick Tock

Here’s "Whammer Jammer" from a show I saw at Winterland in 1977, featuring Magic Dick. (Robert Gordon and Head East were the opening acts.)


buffy and school

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