Farewell Ken Griffey Jr.

Back in the late 80s, like most boys my age, I was cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs about baseball. I enjoyed Little League immensely, my dad didn’t have to push me into it, I sincerely loved it.

In turn, I also loved MLB. Back then I could tell you who was the starting shortstop for any team in either the National or American league. So naturally I fell into collecting baseball cards, a past time which has since gone the way of Mark McGwire’s credibility (he along with fellow Oakland Athletic and cheater, Jose Canseco, were 2 of my favorite players).

As anyone who collected back then, the golden fleece, the unobtanium, the crown jewel of any young boy’s collection was Upper Deck’s 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card.

If memory serves me correct it was priced at (for the time) a whopping $100. Now, according to this well-crafted piece, you can get it on eBay at “prices ranging from $15 to $300”.

Sadly, I was never able to “pull” one despite purchasing numerous packs. Elation surely found me when I did “pull” the less-valuable Donruss version.

I was also pretty geeked to pick up Upper Deck’s 1990 Griffey Jr. card for a few bucks at a local store. Needless to say, before I saw the man play in a Major League game I knew this guy must be something special.

And he was and this week he announced he is retiring from the game he loves. Due to a variety of factors, I didn’t get to watch him play very much but the few times I did, his fluidity and grace were clearly evident. The boyish zeal and perpetual smile on his face was infectious.

Not to mention his eye-dropping and freakish abilities at the plate and on the field.

Griffey’s star shone brighter as the years passed and the McGwire’s, Sosa’s, A-Rod’s and Canseco’s of the baseball world besmirched the game with their tainted feats.

Here’s to you, Mr. Griffey and the mirth you brought to the game we and for navigating clear of the lures of performance enhancing drugs.

Here’s a great piece on Griffey Jr.’s retirement from the Seattle Times:

The joy was gone, and now so is The Kid

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A Mexican’s World Cup Primer

No, it has nothing to do with Tequila shots or other such truck but rather a historical retrospective.

Mexicans get soccer fed to us in our baby bottles

I made this statement to an American friend a couple of years ago. Many will say that it is a generalization and perhaps be insulted by it. A Mexican-American chap who heard it certainly was and let it be known just how offended he was. The fact that he neither was born and spent most of his childhood living in México made his overreaction a little bit less credible.

My native land hosted the 1986 World Cup and I remember it vividly. Anyone remember the borderline offensive mascot, Pique?

[found the pic at:  http://degenerasian.blogspot.com/]

The memories are bittersweet because while Manuel Negrete’s strike made an indelible impression on my mind, the loss against ze Germans in the quarterfinals broke my young Tri-loving heart.

Over the years, we moved to America and my interest in soccer waned as it had to compete with American football, baseball and basketball. Yet every four years I was drawn to the world’s biggest sporting event, The World Cup. I have soaked in every WC since ’86, and followed especially close those in which my beloved Tri took part of. (All of them since ’86 except for Italy ’90).

I pined in ’94 to go watch them live but alas it was not to be. We are but 2 weeks away from the start of South Africa 2010 and like many of my compatriots living in all corners of the world, I am giddy with excitement.

Yet this anticipation is tempered by the ghost of México in World Cups past. Like many Mexicans I take a hopeful pessimism approach into each World Cup. Yes, the squad is a solid one with great potential but let us not set our sights too high.  Otherwise we will be disappointed if El Tri comes crashing down like cadet Juan Escutia at the Battle of Chapultepec.

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On Cinco de Mayo

Here we are again, May 5th and people throughout these United States will hold “Cinco de Mayo” celebrations. Some will ignorantly believe it is México’s 4th of July or even believe that this date means a great deal to us Mexicans, it doesn’t.

In all fairness, México doesn’t really have a “4th of July”. Yes, its “Independence Day” (September 16) marked the end of Spanish rule but only to be followed by subsequent American seizure of large tracts of land such as Arizona (isn’t it ironic?), California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Texas, as well as a brief French occupation.

On May 5th, 1862 near the city of Puebla, an inferior Mexican force beat a superior French force. It was significant due to the “David-Goliath” aspect of it and because my people were victorious in a battle. The only problem is that the defeat only delayed the inevitable French occupation of my native land and subsequent appointment of a hapless Hapsburg (Maximilian I, pictured below) to the throne of the newly minted Mexican Empire. In other words, México won the Battle of Puebla but lost the war.

(Museum of History, Chapultepec)

For this reason, most of México doesn’t make a big deal of this day. After all, who celebrates a victorious battle in a war which was ultimately lost? Not even my peoples, who look for small victories to revel in especially over hegemonic entities, have the non-sense to do this. It’d be akin to making a national holiday over the Battle of the Alamo. Yes, México won that “battle” but lost the war and Texas.

Emperor Maximilian I eventually was overthrown and to make a statement that foreign governance wouldn’t be tolerated, was sentenced to death by firing squad.

Perhaps as some sort of twisted joke, 139 years later, another Maximiliano, Maxi Rodriguez, would fire a shot (see vid below) that would avenge his namesake’s death at the hands of Mexican authorities, break the heart of the Mexican people and make the name “Maximiliano” reviled once more throughout the land.

The Vatican Commits Cardinal Sin

Back in college, I knew a guy who was a huge Beatles fan. On numerous occassions, I cheekily compared the Fab Four to a then-upstart Oasis. If looks could kill, his glare would have rendered me asunder.

Of course I made the comparison in jest because let’s face it, Oasis is nothing more than a Beatles tribute band with “original” material.

Which leads us to the Vatican’s cardinal sin, likening Oasis to the Be-uhls. At least according to the following slideshow (see slide #5):

Vatican’s Top 10 rock albums

In case you’re wondering, here are the Vatican’s top 10 albums to have in case you’re shipwrecked:

1. Revolver by the Beatles
2. If I could Only Remember My Name by David Crosby
3. The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd
4. Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
5. The Nightfly by Donald Fagen
6. Thriller by Michael Jackson
7. Graceland by Paul Simon
8. Achtung Baby by U2
9. (What’s the story) Morning Glory by Oasis
10. Supernatural by Carlos Santana

My only question is, where’s Sinéad O’Connor? If you remember, Ms. O’Connor wasn’t too kind to a picture of Pope Benedict’s predecessor,

How many Hail Mary’s do you get for ripping up the Pope’s picture? Or do you just get to sit in timeout?

La Virgen de Guadalupe on the Can

People have seen the face of Jesus and His mom in a variety of settings. The list of items is diverse but oddly enough stays mostly within culinary confines. Toast, tortillas, and spaghetti are but a few examples.

Oddly enough, some people turn these items into objects of veneration (at best) or worship (at worst). Don’t know what happens once said items succumb to one of nature’s most inexorable forces: mold. Relic, heal thyself, maybe?

Well one “relic” that doesn’t have to worry about mold is a trash can in our lunch area at work. Is it just me or is the object of my native land’s idolatry etched into the plastic?

Virgin Mary in Trash Can
[Photo credit: me]

This post was em, inspired by the following slideshow:

“Religious Sightings”

I like how a crying “Mother Nature” made it into the slideshow. Cue up Mr. Goah, “The planet has a fevah…”

And the only cure is more cowbell!

Cadaver Synod Redux?

I know that artists who are cut down in their prime, somehow, someway continue to release new tracks if not albums (see Tupac, Kurt Cobain et al).

Tupac
♫ Son, she said, have I got a little story for you ♫

This phenomenon whips their devoted fans into a frenzy, leading them to believe that the object of their devotion faked his/her own death so as to jettison the Atlas-like burden from their pampered shoulders. Presumably so as to lead the quiet life “fate” denied them, all the while perpetually perfecting their art in a bunker somewhere.

Admit it, Nirvana’s “You Know You’re Right” would have passed by with nary a whimper had Cobain been alive.

So we come to another famous but troubled soul, Ana Nicole Smith, a woman who has been dead for almost 2 years. Apparently, she is being investigated. For what you may ask? Let’s go to the tape:


AP: Anna Nicole Smith investigated in murder plot

Since dead music icons keep making music, let’s not rule out any impossibilities. Let’s say the investigators find that yes, Smith really did plot her son-in-law’s murder. What are the authorities going to do about it? Recreate a modern-day Cadaver Synod?

Formosus
[That’s Pope Formosus on the right, they disinterred the poor chap and dressed him up in his Sunday best and brought him to trial.]

Probably not, I don’t think you’re going to find someone as unstable as Pope Stephen VII (the man who brought Formosus’ corpse to trial) to do the deed.

One thing is for sure though, if this happened, Smith’s greasy “companion” Howard K. Stern would try to find a way to make a buck from it.

Cougar Town

It has been an observation of mine that there are a lot more University of Houston students/alumni who root for the Texas Longhorns than the other way around.

This has been particularly evident after the resurgence of the UT football program under the tutelage of furniture/snake oil salesman Mack Brown. It has been my policy to look down on the bandwagon jumpin’ crowd, after all they weren’t there for Rout 66 back in the day.

Of course, one is willing to be a bit more forgiving when one catches oneself jumping on a bandwagon. I grew up in H-town and fascinated by the run-and-shoot of the UH teams of the late 80s. I remember Andre Ware winning the Heisman (more on this later) and the heights which the Cougars scaled back then.

UH

St. Gregory, Inventor of the Cougar Paw

Never in my lifetime, did I think that the UH program would jump back into the national spotlight. Especially after being left out of the emerging Big XII superconference due in part to the wishes of a capricious Governor Richards.

Being left out of the Big XII and being relegated to the Siberian exile that is C-USA wasn’t enough. Back in 2001, under Coach Dana Dismal er, Dimel they managed to run the table in reverse (0-10), thus hitting rock bottom.

Fast forward to the year of our Lord 2009, and the Coogs are #12 in the AP poll due in large part to a win over then #5 Oklahoma State in Stoolwater and last Saturday’s dramatic vic over Texas Tech. Here’s the last minute of the Tech game,

The kids on campus are following Jack Buck’s sage advice and going crazy (won’t go into the missing helmets) and the Coogs are getting some national love in the form of:

  • An appearance by Coach Sumlin on the Jim Rome Show of all places.

Even though I bleed burnt orange, I hope the Coogs run the table and make it to a BCS bowl at the end of the year. I’ll be rooting for them then unless they’re playing my beloved Longhorns in said bowl game.

I don’t know why I’m getting behind this team, it’s not a sudden onset of civic pride or anything. Maybe it’s because UH’s success takes me back to a simpler time, when Astroturf and flat tops (wait for it…) reigned supreme.

Not really sure, but what is for sure is that though neither Stifler’s mom or Stacy’s mom live in H-town, it’s beginning to look like College Football sure does. Right, Andre?

Andre Ware