Why baseball is like life: reason 392,018

Chances are that you’ve already seen what should have been the final out of last night’s matchup between the Detroit Tigers and the Cleveland Indians. It was a perfect game, though it could be argued that Miguel Cabrrera should have stayed home and let Carlos Guillen make the play. In that scenario, the umpire only has to watch for one thing: the catch. Joyce had to call both the catch and Galaragga’s foot. Joyce missed the call. Those are the vagaries of baseball.

But did you see Austin Jackson’s catch earlier in the inning? I think i’m most disappointed that the highlight reels aren’t focusing on that. On the run, a step into the warning track, in the deepest corner of one of the biggest parks in baseball: one of the best catches you’ll ever see on what would have been a home run in any other park. And it preserved Galaragga’s perfect game.

As a life long Tigers fan, i’m sorely disappointed. I’m also incredibly proud.
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The no-longer-Forbidden City

Part seven in a series

When his majesty Yongle, third emperor of the Ming Dynasty, decided he wanted a new house, he wanted to do it up big. Really big. From his palace in the southern capital of Nanjing, he set one million peasants and 100,000 artisans to work hundreds of miles to the north, in Beijing, where he intended to move the capital. The year was 1406.

Fourteen years later, in 1420, Yongle finally moved north and took the seat of power with him. Some 120 million people—more than the entire population of Europe—were ruled from the new palace, which was so huge and so off-limits, that it was called the Forbidden City.

So huge in scope and scale was it that Emperor Yongle might have well called it the Imposing City. Or the Overwhelming City. Or the “Big, Just Like Everything Else In China” City.

But it’s not so forbidden any more. Continue reading

Bye, Ken, and Thanks

Ken Griffey Jr., who may or may not be the best player baseball has ever seen (cue arguments), but has certainly been one of them, is retiring. He announced it yesterday in Seattle. In an age dominated by steroids, screwing around and other kinds of abuse, Griffey Jr. seemed to embody the best attributes of baseball—playing for the love of the game. Pretty much just like his dad. He was great to watch, was the perfect team player, and accumulated all sorts of records—and would have accumulated even more if he hadn’t suffered some serious injuries along the way. His career overlapped with that of his father, Ken Griffey Sr., who was part of those Cincinnati teams in the 1970s (which I disliked at the time, because of Pete Rose, mainly, but also because of the 1976 World Series, good as it was). In fact, both Griffeys played together for Seattle at one point. So for the first time since 1973—nearly 40 years—organized baseball will be without an actively playing Griffey. The game is the worse for it.

And while Jr may have been a slightly better all around player than his dad, including as a fielder, I still remember that one catch his dad made when he was playing for the Yankees when he literally ran up the left field wall to make the catch. Too bad I can’t find a video of it. Of course, neither had anything on this.

Reading, writing, and doing good works

Retired people in China do many things during the course of the day to keep themselves occupied and physically fit. One especially interesting form of exercise is sidewalk poetry. A writer will use a special self-wetting brush to draw poems on the sidewalk. It is a deliberate, artful process.

“Doing good makes people happy. Reading is even better.”

(My thanks to my friend Sabrina Sun for the translation help.)