That’s Not My Name (x4)

Miscellaneous

Do you ever dread ordering things over the phone because of your name? How about introducing yourself to a stranger at a loud bar? No? You have no problem with this? Your name must be something hip, like, “Purple” or “Cucumber”. For us po’folk who have a name that sounds similar to another name, introducing ourselves can be quite aggravating, whether it be over the phone or via face-to-face confrontation. You’ll either have to spell it out for the other person or simply sit through a long list of them spitting out names before you go all, “CONGRATU-FUCKIN-LATIONS! YOU FINALLY GOT IT RIGHT. BYE.” on them. And, with a name like “Manny” you can only imagine which ones I get called (actually, some of them are pretty unbelievable). I’ve been called Danny, Mandy (do I look like a fucking Mandy to you?!), Randy, Manti, probably Aaron or Chris; it’s stupid. My name’s been misheard so many times, I probably should just make up a name the next time I order something (“What’s that? You want my name? Oh, yeah, it’s Ambulance”). Every so often, when my name is heard and spelled correctly, I want to give the other person a couple bites of my meal as a trophy, but then I think back to the pain and depression I get when people mess it up and I rescind my offer. Up until a couple weeks ago, when I was given a nice surprise…

It was a brisk, fall Sunday morning in Northern Virginia. The birds were chirping, the leaves were falling, and one of my roommates and I were on our way to a local Wingstop (the perfect way to ease the pain of being a Redskins fan). Now, kids from my high school have been going to this place for years, so we’re pretty much one big’ole wings loving family, but there have been some new employee additions, which meant the girl at the register didn’t know me. Seeing as how I hadn’t been to Wingstop in quite sometime, I wasn’t going to let the chances of her mishearing my name spoil my 100% grass-fed, certified-A chicken wings. I swallowed my pride, placed my order, was told it would take 14 minutes, folded up my receipt and sat down.

14 minutes later

At this point I’m starting to get antsy. I take my receipt out of my pocket to see what time I placed my order (don’t give me a time and not stick to your word, god damn it), already embracing myself for the “MANDY” I’m going to read at the top of the receipt, and that’s when I saw it. I froze. My eyes got wide, like the first time I ever saw a naked woman in the movies (not like when you’re watching said movie with your parents, that’s usually when you pull the, “is someone at the door?” card). I can’t believe what I’m reading. Right under the time of the order, which was MORE THAN 14 MINUTES AGO, was a name. A name I’m well aware of. A name I have never seen before in these situations. A name that almost brought a tear to my eye: Manuel.

No, Charlie Day, that IS my name! Can you believe it?! I certainly can’t!

After my excitement wore off, I started to freak out a little bit. Was this a woman I met in another life? How did she know my real name? Did she travel back in time to let me know everything was going to be alright? So many questions left unanswered. I didn’t even care that I told her my name was “Manny” and she put “Manuel”, so, technically speaking, she still got it wrong. I was in complete shock, yet it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Yeah, I’ve graduated college; witnessed the Red Sox win the World Series not once, not twice, but three times in my life; traveled to islands off the coast of Portugal; but, this? This is what dreams are made of.

I learned a pretty valuable lesson that day: when people ask for my name, I should use “Manuel”. That, or seek out the Spanish people when placing my order. They almost always get it correct.

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Traitor…

Baseball

Those of you who personally know me may have witnessed my undying love (and maybe uncanny, but who’s to judge?) of the Boston Red Sox, and my hatred for anything that negatively affects them. Whether these witnessed occasions have been me pouring my feelings out via Facebook posts/Tweets, or if they were in-person outbursts, I just want to let you know: if you’re seeking an apology from me, you’d have an easier time finding an ugly girl in the neighborhood The Stepford Wives lived in. And, with the deal made between the Skankees and Ellsbury, let us embark on a magical journey where I shall continue the streak of you seeking an apology.

On Tuesday night the Evil Empire and ex-Red Sox Center Fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, struck a 7-year $153 million deal, with a pending option year to boost that lovely income. But, for some reason I wasn’t as emotional as I thought I would be. Could it be because Sox fans saw this coming after they won their 8th World Series title in October? Perhaps it’s because the Sox have a top prospect in University of South Carolina standout Jackie Bradley Jr., who is waiting to be called up to take on the tricky confines that come with playing the outfield in Fenway? Maybe it’s because Ellsbury has been riddled with injuries the past two seasons? Still shocked he would sign with a rival? Most likely it’s a combination of all of that, and more. I can’t really come to a conclusion. But, nonetheless, we have to move on.

Now, I don’t want it to sound like I’m bashing Ellsbury, or making it look like he isn’t a good fit for the Yankees, but is he really worth $153 million over 7 years? That’s almost $22 million a year, making him the 3rd highest paid outfielder in MLB history. He’s had one great, and I mean GREAT year in 2011 (30+ HR’s, 30+ steals, 100+ RBI, .321 batting avg., 158 games played), and everybody was so high on him – he would have won the AL-MVP had Justin Verlander not had a great year of his own. But, since 2010 he’s played in an average of 96 games, due to injuries (some of them minor). Do you really want to invest in something that risky? By all means go for it, Yankees. It may come back to bite you in the long run, like much of your other risky investments.

Not only did this deal shock the baseball world, but the Yankees may not have enough money to bring back perhaps the best second basemen in the Show, Robinson Cano. (I say “perhaps” because I love my boy Pedroia, and that guy is a warrior.) With the Yankees wanting to stay under the $189 million luxury-tax threshold, it may be hard thing to do having signed Ellsbury and catcher Brian McCann ($85 million). But, they’re the Yankees; if they wanted to hire some grave diggers to bring back Babe Ruth and sign him for $94 million a year, I wouldn’t be surprised…

Enough about that, it’s totally impossible; unless you’re Ellie Goulding *que’s Anything Can Happen*. I can honestly say I’m truly terrified whenever Robbie Cano steps into the batters-box against Lester/Buchholz/Lackey/[Insert Red Sox pitcher here] and the game can change with one swing of the bat. So, if you’re telling me I won’t have to deal with the feeling of terror some 19 games next year, and in place deal with Ellsbury hitting one of his bloop singles? Shiiiiiit, that’s the greatest early Christmas gift a man could ask for (kinda…not really).

Let’s wrap this thing up, I’m starting to ramble. Stemming from many different statistical tests and years of research, I’ve come to this conclusion about the Yankees logic: If you can’t beat ’em, buy their players until you can (Ellsbury, Youkilis, Damon, Clemens, RUTH).

Boston Strong

Baseball

And the winner of the 2013 World Series is…those bearded-beauties: The Boston Red Sox!!! Does that banner (pictured above) on Yawkey Way look immaculate, or what? The fact there are two other red ones – red indicating World Series wins – behind it makes it that much better. I have a man-crush on every last one of those players, even Clay Buchholz – the guy my dad thinks looks like a homeless WWII veteranAfter 95 years, a streak that started way back when the Great Bambino wore the beloved Red Sox jersey, the Boston Red Sox clinched a World Series in their home park – Fenway. There are fans who not only didn’t get to see this day happen, but also may not have gotten to see the Sox win a world Series at all! I’m talking about history here, people!

Now, here come the interesting stats provided to us by ESPN and the Elias Sports Bureau: Manager John Farrell joined a prestigious group by winning a World Series in just his first season as a manager of a team. The last manager to do that? Terry Francona, ex-manager of the Red Sox in 2004. Koji Uehara, perhaps the most dominating pitcher in all of the MLB this season, became the first Japanese-born pitcher to record the final out in a World Series clincher. He also has one of the cutest kids you’ll ever see. En route to his comeback after Tommy John’s surgery, John Lackey became the first pitcher to win multiple World Series clinching games for different teams. All of Fenway Faithful, including myself now love him. David Ortiz reached base in 19 of 25 (76%) plate appearances, second to Billy Hatcher in 1990. He also drank from the largest champagne bottle ever seen by the naked eye. Although the Red Sox won the World Series despite a .211 batting average, the lowest by a World Series winner since the 1972 A’s, their pitching was simply amazing – a team ERA of 1.84, the lowest by an AL team in a single World Series since the 1983 Orioles. I guess that just adds more evidence to the saying “defense wins you championships”.

Enough about stats, even though I can go on about those for quite some time, but I figured I would spare you from reading numbers. I do, however, want to talk about one thing that got under my skin from reading comment-boards after Wednesday night (it has to do with the Boston Marathon Bombing). And, before I share my thoughts and opinions on this matter, in no way, shape, or form does it change my views on the Boston Marathon Bombing, because that was one of the most horrendous, disgusting terrorists attacks on this nation. My deepest condolences went out to the families and individuals who were affected by this attack, and it still goes out to all of them. With that being said: the 2013 Boston Red Sox didn’t deserve this World Series win because of what happened on the afternoon of April 15th, 2013. They deserved this World Series win because they fought off pitches, got key hits, made run-saving plays on defense, held runners stranded in scoring position, played the game of baseball. Even if these individuals meant no harm in making that comment, they – most of them fans of other teams, and claim to “hate” the Red Sox on any other day – should be ashamed of themselves for saying it. Yes, the bombing played a role in motivating the Red Sox, and the Red Sox did so much for the community after the attack, but don’t say they deserved this title because of it. It’s kind of insulting to both the Red Sox and the city of Boston.

To end on a lighter note, congrats to the Red Sox again for proving doubters and experts who stated this year would be a rebuilding year wrong. Red Sox nation throughout the world couldn’t be more proud of the heart and soul this team has. I’ll leave you all with two quotes from the two of the more vocal players of the 2013 Red Sox; Big Papi and Jonny Gomes:

  • “When we started rolling, nobody ever stopped the train.” – Papi
  • “As soon as we went to Fort Myers, the movie’s already been written. All we had to do was press play, and this is what happened.” – Gomes

Here’s to a long, yet celebratory off-season!

Rewriting History

Baseball

Photo Cred: Boston Red Sox Official Instagram

Late into the fall-night of October 19th, 2013, the Boston Red Sox continued to pile up historic stat after historic stat. After Shane Victorino (The Flyin’ Hawaiian), having looked like he didn’t know how to swing a bat in his previous 23 at-bats (2-23), took advantage of an 0-2 curve ball from Jose Veras that caught too much of the plate, the Sox became the first team to hit two game-tying/go-ahead grand slams in the 7th inning or later in a single post season (ESPN Stats and Information). Putting more and more distance between them and and the down-right disgusting season they had a year ago, their game 6 win over the Detroit Tigers marked only the 7th time since 1990 that a team made the world series after finishing in last place a season before (ESPN Stats and Information). Granted, those other 6 teams to do so are a combined 1-5 when it comes to winning the whole thing, I dare you to tell those beards that history is against them. You know what they’ll do with those comments? Besides laugh at you and move on to the next task at hand, they will do the same thing they did with those comments made at the beginning of the season, stating 2013 will be a rebuilding year; use it as motivation.

I don’t think I’ve seen a closer group of guys in my life. In my opinion, one of the biggest driving forces behind the 2013 Boston Red Sox is “team chemistry”: almost every player on the team has a beard; the pitchers (including some position players) have three lines cut into their hair at the bottom of their hairline on their neck; they have a statue of a Native American (called The Chief) that pitcher Jake Peavy bought from a cigar shop while on a West Coast trip in August that is taken with them everywhere. These things may seem irrelevant to some people, but it plays a huge role in the clubhouse, in the dugout, in the bullpen, and on the field. The team chemistry the Sox have developed allows one player to pick the other one up when they strike out/don’t move a runner over/botch a play; it allows the catchers to call the game no matter who is on the mound; it allows the fielders to know the range of one another on balls put in play. Of course, a lot of these things develop over time, but team chemistry allows them to develop at a much faster rate (i.e. the 2013 Boston Red Sox).

So, here’s to hoping the 2013 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals will be as attention grabbing as the ALCS, with the Sox prevailing in no more than 5 games (my poor little heart won’t be able to take more than 5 games of stress related activity). It’ll definitely be a family-divided time period for my dad and me, seeing as how he is a Cardinals fan (sorry if I call you some bad things, dad; it’s for the love of the game).

Is it too much to ask for a repeat-sweep, similar to that of 2004, Sox? Thanks a bunch! Smooches XOXO!

Beardy Beard Beard

Baseball

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Photo Cred: USA Today, FTW

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. IS THAT NOT JUST THE GREATEST EFFING MASCOT PICTURE EVER?! This picture made me smile like that of a 14 year-old high school freshman girl, who was just asked for a pencil by the All-State Varsity QB, Mikey Football (no relation to Johnny Football).  I mean, seriously, I challenge you to find a more awesome picture of a mascot than this one (just a forewarning, I probably won’t like your suggestions because I’m biased). By the way, this picture doesn’t give Wally’s beard justice. Here’s a link to view his full beard, basking in all its glory.

Anyways, how did I come across this ravishingly, stunning photo? Well, it all started when I arrived at work this morning. I was going about my normal routine: putting my phone/wallet/keys/sunglasses on my desk, powering up my laptop, making my water (I haven’t hit the coffee stage yet), etc. After checking my emails and warming up from being outside (the mornings are getting pretty chilly here in DC), I went to ftw.usatoday.com, a website dedicated to funny/odd/crazy stories involving sports. That is where I saw the beautiful image above – in thumbnail form – with the title “Red Sox offering $1 tickets to fans with beards”. Red Sox + Beards = Manny will be clicking this link, no questions asked.

The story was about how the wonderful people that make up the Red Sox Marketing and Promotions team were running a promotion where, well, fan’s with beards got $1 tickets, just as the title said. Even those who do not have the privilege of growing the greatest feature of hair on one’s body were able to get these tickets. All they had to do was wear a fake beard, or simply draw on a beard using face paint. How awesome of a promotion is that? Well done, Red Sox. I applaud thee. (Also, I wish I would have known about this promotion before it happened! I totally would have driven up to Beantown to see my Sox play for $1.)

With all of this talking about beards, you may be asking yourself, “Manny, why are you so obsessed with them?” Let me tell you: beards are like a nice flannel button-up to keep your face warm during those brisk, fall afternoons; beards give you something to stroke when in deep thought about your next big idea (this may or may not be happening as we speak); beards give off the sense that you’re not one to be messed with, especially for tall lanky guy’s lacking massive muscles like myself; beards are your best friend, they look after you by keeping snacks easily accessible at all times of the day. What’s not to like about any of that?

I don’t really know how to end this, so I’m going to make it as awkward as possible – like the awkward “turn around” when walking on the beach in a big group. Where is the turning point? Should we all do it at once? One-by-one? In couples? Quick turn around vs. looping turn around? Ummm…uhhh…errr…ehhh…AHHH…FIN.

**No beards were taken advantage of in the making of this post.

From Point A to Point B…and Everything in Between

Skateboarding

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Photo Cred: Rocco Castiglione and The Berrics

Could there be anything more beautiful? If you answered “The Boston Red Sox and their grizzly bear beards”, I’ll take that answer as a close second.

Just take a minute, sit back, and compare the movement between a pedestrian and a skateboarder. Notice how static a pedestrian moves; searching for a way to get from point A to point B in the shortest possible time, and we all know that’s a straight line (shout out to my high school geometry teacher for that one!) But, take a look at the movement of a skateboarder. It’s almost as if this image should come with a “Warning: Image may cause seizures” sign before being able to view it. I dare you to start at the beginning of one of these lines and try to successfully follow it from end-to-end, without messing up. These lines are as chaotic as a drunken frat-boy “rumblin, bumblin, stumblin” (Chris Berman, every football highlight ever, 1990-present) his way through a college-town bar looking for his next victim…I mean, “girlfriend”.

This is what makes skateboarding so unique: the creativity. In this one spot alone, the artist shows 10 different lines a skateboarder could take to complete his/her (because skateboarding isn’t sexist) run, and that number is this low because there was probably a dimension requirement for the picture. I could add upwards to 25-30 more lines to this picture, but all you would see is a blue sidewalk, and that would be a poor representation of the point.

Having the “eye”  to visualize one of these lines is pretty remarkable in and of itself. The visual preparation to nail down a line can take up to 15-20 minutes before you actually start skating. Take into consideration it’s not just about what route you’re going to take, but also what tricks you’re wanting to throw down in the line.

Thinking of a way to prevent a skater from completing his line? Nahhh, not possible. The “creativity” and the “eye” skaters have is remarkable. Throw anything into the middle of this plaza-type drawing, and we will find a way to skate it. A fire hydrant? We’ll flip over it. Skate stoppers? We’ll slide over them. A tree? We’ll go up it.

(“Really? Up it?”)

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Photo Cred: Transworld Skateboarding

YES. UP IT.

There aren’t many things a skater won’t try to skate, which is why, in my eyes, skateboarding is one of the most unique sports out there.

Buchholz Back in Beantown

Baseball

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Soooo, this is my first ever blog post and why not make it about the greatest sports team EVER?! But, before I go on a rant about how amazing, and studly these BoSox are, I want to give a shout out to my Muva (Mother), my Fava (Father), my Sistaz (Sister’s), my friendz (friends), my puppiez (puppies), and all the crazy-catz (crazy-cats) out there who have influenced me in my life. This blog is for you, and uhhh, yeah…I hope you enjoy it.

If you couldn’t tell by the title, CLAY BUCHHOLZ IS BACK FROM THE DL AFTER BEING ON IT FOR 94 DAYS!!! And, if you couldn’t tell from the caps, I’M REALLY F#%!@&$ EXCITED!!! I meannnnn, it’s not like he was 9-0 when he went on the DL, or he gave up 16 earned runs in 84.1 innings pitched, equating to a 1.71 ERA. It’s not like he held opponents to a .195 batting average against him, or had an 81/29 strikeout/walk ratio. “Wait…you mean he actually did all of that before he was sidelined with a shoulder injury? Wow, they must have really suffered with out him.” Nahhh, homie. The Sox have the most wins in the MLB and they are currently 1 percentage-point behind the Braves for the “best record in baseball” (Sox: 87-58, .600; Braves: 86-57, .601). They hold a 7 1/2 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East, and can further extend that lead with a 3-game series win (or sweep) against said Rays starting tonight, which just so happens to be my mans’ Buchholz’s first start back.

This news just makes me…*tear*…so excited for my Sox. They had a season to forget about last year (2012) after going 69-93 due to the Bobby V-disease (for those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a disease that basically eats away at team chemistry and causes severe pain for said team’s fan-base). And then who can forget about the collapse in 2011, when the Sox went 7-20 in September only to miss out on a playoff spot by losing the last game of the season to the O’s? (Ugh, now I’m really bringing tears to my eyes). But all is well in 2013. A team, dubbed by the media to have a “rebuilding year”, is proving everybody wrong and are poised for the playoffs, just like the old days. Getting him back is just more cushion for the rotation, and help to solidify a playoff berth for these Boston Beauties.

Oh, yeah, before I forget. How beautiful are the 2013 Red Sox? Let this lovely slideshow, prepared by the NY Times show you just how beardiful they really are:

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/09/09/sports/baseball/Red-Sox-Beards.html