Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fresno State Baseball has a National Championship

My dad has this tattered briefcase that he keeps in a cabinet in the garage. One day I pored through it and found a bunch of old documents, including his college diploma. Ronald Reagan's signature was at the bottom because he was the governor at the time. After my dad graduated, he joined the military and served during Vietnam. When his service was over, he bought a farm equipment shop with the backing of his uncle Chet.

I really value the few stories my dad has shared about his background, and over the last few years he's given me a few odds and ends from his past. I have a wooden lamp and a chime he brought back from West Germany. On my 30th birthday he gave me a gold pocket watch that Chet had recieved on his 60th birthday in 1947...which was also the year my dad was born.

Something else that he's kind of given me is Fresno State sports. We've had season tickets to football and basketball games since 1988. I still remember the 1989 year. It encompassed the basic story of Fresno State sports for most people. Fresno State was 10-0 in football. They'd beaten teams 52-22, 52-37, 52-0, 34-7, and most recently, 45-5. They had even moved into the national polls. To wrap up the season, Frenso played a non-conference game against New Mexico. If Frenso won, they would have an undefeated record heading into a post-season bowl. New Mexico was 1-10 on the year, and 3-31 over the past 3 years, including a 68-21 loss to Fresno State the year before. But the unthinkable happened. New Mexico won 45-22. Even at 11 years old, I was absolutely sick. Fresno State would beat New Mexico for the next four years, including a 94-17 win two years later, but it didn't matter.

I remember the following year as well. Fresno State started the year 5-0, including winning 3 straight games by a combined score of 111-13. People were starting to get excited about a Frenso State team possibly going undefeated. But the following week they lost to a 2-3 Northern Illinois team 73-18!

1991 was more of the same. Fresno State was led by Trent Dilfer and won their first 7 games. In those 7 games they'd scored 55, 34, 24, 94, 42, 42, and 48 points. On the following week they lost 20-19 to a Utah State team that was 1-6! Fresno even went on to score 59, 38, and 31 points in their final 3 games and finished the regular season 10-1. But, it didn't matter. They'd lost when they weren't supposed to.

And that's not even to mention the the hype that hasn't been met with performance over their tenure with Pat Hill.

In basketball it has been more of the same. I remember watching Ron Adams guide Fresno State to their worst home record (6-9) in the history of Selland Arena...they were 10-19 overall. And thier time with Gary Colson wasn't much better (76-73 over 5 years). Back then the disappointment was each time we played Jerry Tarkanian's UNLV teams so closely before being let down in the second half. In 1988-89 UNLV was 29-8, and Fresno got my hopes up by losing their two games against UNLV by 4 and 6 points. When UNLV won the National Championship the following year, Fresno broke my heart again by losing to UNLV twice, this time by 9 and 5 points!

How about softball? How does Jamie Southern finish her career 4th in NCAA history in shutouts, 10th in strikeouts, and 10th in wins, but NEVER make it out of the regional that was held in Fresno each year she was here? I mean, every year she was here she ranked in the top 3 in in the nation in era! She threw 8 no hitters. She was a 4-time All-American, 4-time WAC pitcher of the year, 4-time All-WAC, 4-time Easton Sports All-American, and 4-time All-West Region. Her teams went 177-74...but never got through a damn regional.

So tonight was really important. Some people think my enthusiasm over Fresno State is silly. But it's just part of me. I'm glad my dad drove over to the coast to watch the game with me. That's just how it was supposed to be. I'm satisfied. Finally, a Fresno State team hasn't left me disappointed when the game was over. I know there are fair weather fans that will latch on to this an try to bask in the summer sun. But it won't be the same for them. And I know Fresno State's critics will still pick at where Frenso State falls short. But for one night they can be quiet. Fresno State won the national championship in baseball. In one month they won 10 games against top level competition. San Diego, Arizona State, Rice, North Carolina, and Georgia all had a chance to show us it was a fluke. But Fresno State showed that, at least for one month, they had the best baseball team in America.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fantasy Baseball

Back at the end of March I got stupid and signed up to participate in four fantasy baseball leagues. Two of the leagues were rotisserie leagues, which I'd never participated in before. The other two leagues were head to head leagues, which I performed in respectably in last year. The only other thing worth mentioning concerning the leagues is that one allows for daily changes (for unemployeed college kids), while the other 3 allow only weekly changes.

Here's how I'm stacking up after 10 weeks (of 23):
If you don't want to read the details, just know that I'm in 1st (of 10 teams) in two leagues, 2nd in one, and 5th (of 12 teams) in the other.

League 1: (Yahoo, Rotisserie with daily transactions...ridiculous)

1. HNIC...........106 points (out of 120)
5. Metropolitans 70 points
I'm just 14 points out of 2nd place. A poor draft, crippling injuries, and a lack of daily maintenance has me hoping to sneak in and take the silver in this one. I'm very disappointed. I just can't keep up with a league on a daily basis for 6 months, and am in way over my head.

League 2: (CBSSportsline, Rotisserie with weekly transactions)

1. Metropolitans3........84.0 points (out of 100)
2. ENT...................76.5
3. terps123..............68.5
I actually spent the first 10 weeks with 2 fewer players than everyone else. I had a strong draft, and have filled any gaps I had. I fully expect to run away with this division.

League 3: (CBSSportsline, Head to Head with weekly transactions)

1. Bonds4President.......8-2........3755.6 points for........2972.8 points allowed
2. MetropolitansII.......6-4........3623.0 points for........3459.3 points allowed
In this league I'm actually in first in my division. The best record belongs ot a team in the other division. I anticipate holding on to one of the two playoffs spots for my division, and then luck will decide which team wins two playoff games. My team is possibly the best team, but I've been matched up against opponents who had huge noted in the fact that I've allowed 500 more points than the 8-2 team.

League 4: (CBSSportsline, Head to Head with weekly transactions)

1. Metropolitans.......10-0........3880.3 points for........3025.2 points allowed
2. Bad Karma............9-1........3549.5 points for........2733.8 points allowed
This league has taken most of my attention. I love my roster and I love my luck so far. I've given Bad Karma his only loss, and my point allowed show that I haven't just been fortunate. The only question in this league is whether I'll drop an egg in either of my playoff games.

Monday, March 24, 2008

lactic acid

Conversation therapy
Your voice prescribed to soothe/
Life inhabits arteries with glass so I can’t move/
So I stand still…
My legs fill dense with lactic acid/
Muscles become flaccid bags of weight that make my back sick/
Hands cohabit shyly in the solace of my pockets/
We calmly talk but mentally I gag my mouth and vomit/
Your look seeks me
I dodge it/
Your touch treats me
My pain’s chronic/
I evict your handprints oiled on my skin/
Shave my exodermis
The breeze draws from me a grin/
Imagine how your kisses drench my tissue
Shelter breached/
See the way my muscles tense because they feel your reach/
It’s symmetry how oxygen’s a poison but we need it/
Mentally I need your squeeze
But constantly you tease it

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Short Story

Required Words: birthday, calligraphy, fireplace, float, fresh, fur, green, magic, picture, scar

For a child, an early bedtime is an effect correlated with some undesired cause. Tonight, however, the most scrupulous abridgment of my actions uncovered no fault on my behalf. As even-handed as my mother was, she had made an oversight concerning my castigation. Through some primordial awareness I knew something was erroneous. Incentive hid where parents forbid my presence. Predisposition led me to one conclusion: daddy was drinking again.

Even before being banished to the confinement of my room, I saw the signs. It was Tuesday, and daddy was on his way home from Calligraphy class. Time wasn’t my confidant, though. On occasion I would plead with the clock for the knowledge it shared with adults. There was no spoken dialogue between either party. Mommy or daddy would look intently at the wall adornment in some sort of silent struggle for information. On each occasion the clock would relent, handing over the desired insight. Apparently, with age and awareness I would accrue the capacity to take time from clock. But not tonight.

My evidence was uncomplicated. Mommy had gathered kindling from the back yard and arranged it within the fireplace. She was wearing her birthday gift: blue sweats with a drawstring waist and a wife-beater. An inch of ribbed fabric draped over her right shoulder. The other fell off of her left arm in a capitulating fashion.

Through the garment her scar was palpable. Superlative skin shrouded a psyche withered from misuse. I had never glimpsed it firsthand. No one had that I'm informed of. But mommy kept the picture in her purse.

I anticipated each outing to the grocery story because I loved watching mommy write checks. There was even an unwritten, highly revered procedure. To start, she must franticly undress her purse in search of a pen. Subsequently, in a merciful show of leniency, the clerk would bequeath the ballpoint reserved for such emergencies. And finally, my mommy would wield the pen with such authority as to make one question the pen's original proprietor. And then it happened.

My drifting eye observed a small photograph. It was rounded at the edges from years or stress. Time had drained the picture of much of its color. Within the photo stood mommy, unmaimed. Adolescent. Discarded of the weight she now seemed to bear begrudgingly. Next to her was a man unrecognizable to me. Around his neck hung the fur of some unknown animal. From the poverty I tasted on a daily basis, I had never encountered a heap of bills so significant. Fresh green seemed to spill from his wardrobe. Behind them rested a float. At the time of the picture, the float was probably making its way through the crowded downtown streets. But within the boundaries of a photograph, movement was arrested. A Polaroid had flooded the parade with guilt, and all one could do was stand still, cloaked in culpability.

“Paper or plastic?” solicited the clerk, unapologetically.

* * * * *

Subtly I induced my door into a silent opening. From my confinement at the end of the hall, I was only able to pilfer a partial view of clandestine events of which my mother forbade me. And the accolade was without value. Daddy was masked from head to toe in black and white attire. He was going to show mommy his magic.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

San Diego

A thousand paths to stamp his fate
His words must take one road/
A grown man thrown upon the tracks
She leaves him weak
Unknown to most
He’s saved one card
One stone cast from the plank/
He’ll thank her for the drink they shared
The evening that they sank/
He hesitates to forfeit her before the scene unfolds/
By God
This dream won’t end the same
He won’t wake up untold/
The scrolls reveal his will:
To tell an honest tale/

I gave you what I thought you wanted
On this trail I’ve failed/
I felt that what composed my being would leave you unamused/
I sought to keep what piece the phone gave me of you/
Untrue or straight out lying
I’d pipe out each expected answer/
Regret it?
But know the words I spoke weren't festive banter/
I’ve stowed the best (or last at least) to cease our treasured journey/
I’ve blurred my notebook with this pen this long to keep you turning/
With fury I recited every love that left me squirming/
For what it’s worth
For you I lit my lines and let rhymes burn me/
Finally I’ve found a worthy fate to fall my quill/
Failing to elicit youI’ll let my scrawl lie still/
Well, bye dear Friend
I’m emptied out
Now leave me squeezing air/
In all my life
One night I’ll keep
Is when I shared your stare/

Sunday, February 3, 2008

conversations traded

Let your mouth move
With words tie their attention/
Swiftly cast glance
At last our “cat and mouse” commences/
Like a pad on pen the friction strips my well of black disgust/
I lack the trust to nudge your touch
You brush its dust/
Inside I rush to tuck the wind struck hair that masks your cheek/
My vivid imagery depicts my hand
The skin it seeks/
I reconsider chances bleak
If real at all/
I stall
It dawns we’ve never met
Yet in my head we craw-/to any refuge from the structure
Culture’s way/
They seek to fold the image that I’ve molded from your clay/
For gain or not I’ll toss my inhibitions when I call/
When hopes and false pretensions fade
I’ll take the thankless walk/
The lost (through being inept) gives depth and value to the warfare/
Aware we’ve never blended breath
Yet still I crave your air/
That every night envelops
Till you’re etched on canvas/
I curse the land that separates
The space that means to span us/
Distance and time unhand us
These distractions can’t discount/
The way I’ve missed your voice
The noise it drowns out when it sounds/
I recount every conversation traded behind darkness/
Daily I discard you
Time misused
By night we’ve started-/
Re embarking on our portion of the play/
It weighs on me
That any given scene our paths could sway/