Championship Tennis

In the last year I’ve been fortunate to get into tennis, learning to play and enjoy the game.  A little over a year ago I had never even touched a racquet or watched a whole match of tennis, never mind played one.  Now I’ve taken three rounds of lessons, love to play, and seen some of the legends play tennis….  Jim Courier, Pat Cash, Todd Martin, and Pete Sampras.  Living close to Newport, RI gives me the opportunity to not only visit the Tennis Hall of Fame, and for this weekend, see the  Outback Champions Series Tennis.

I was amazed that the place wasn’t 100% sold out – this is a chance to see legends of the sports play great, competitive tennis.  This isn’t an old-timer’s league where things are slow and easy – they play hard, fast and smart, with a lot of good, old-fashioned serve and volley, with smart play and fast rallies.

It is probably one of the best values in professional sports out there – thirty bucks to see great players playing great tennis. 

Take Me Out to Ye Olde Base Ball Game

Sometimes you vaguely hear about a trend happening – just know that it is out there – and then you get a chance to experience it first hand.   I’ve heard of teams who play "vintage base ball" (space intentional, as that’s how they do it), but got chance to see it this weekend – at the Vintage Base Ball Federation World Series

This is more than just a baseball game – it is part theater as well, with people dressed up in period (1860-1870) costumes playing various roles: hecklers, entertainers, women’s suffrage movement activists (a particularly clever way to get people to register vote I thought), and the programs being sold by old-timey looking newspaper boys and girls.

The baseball is played well enough to be interesting and the differences spice it up: 7 balls for a walk; a hit batter only gets a called ball, not a first base; there’s one ump who can appeal to the players and/or crowd for help on a call; if a ball is caught in foul territory on one bounce, it is an out.  That is probably a good rule, since the players can’t wear modern baseball  gloves, which means that catching is hard.  And hard on the hands.  No one dives for a line drive here and it makes you appreciate how important defense is (the game we saw had over 25 runs scored) to modern day baseball. 

The event in Westfield is unique, with a combination of local groups selling items as a fundraiser, only $5 admission, and a beer garden with good local beer overlooking the field and the hand-painted, hand-operated (by four guys…) scoreboard.  It is a relaxing, comfortable atmosphere, and one that almost seems more focused on the game at times than professional Major League Baseball, even though technically it is meant more as entertainment than MLB.  Gone are the 50+ signs always visible at even a small park like Fenway, the grandstanding players, the high-fiving and kissing of jewelry (actually forbidden according to their rules of conduct) and quite possibly best of all: even though representative of a more chaste, religious time, the post-game speeches bear absolutely no mention of "I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus" when we all know that the power(s) that be have far more important things to do than making sure a long ball goes to the right side of a foul pole.

To be fair, there is another group out there called the Vintage Base Ball Association (as opposed to Federation).  The Federation is a for-profit group that bends a few of the historical accuracies to make for a better albeit less historically accurate game, while the Association is a non-profit group of clubs who are dedicated to playing games that are only extremely historically accurate.  However, as is often the case, the volunteers started it, the corporation is monetizing and popularizing it, and hopefully the non-profit will benefit from that in the long-run, regardless of any animosity between them now.

I’m sure that the couple hundred people who experienced the games on Sunday will tell people about it and next year there will be a few hundred more people and soon after that, I’ll be looking back, grateful I made it to the first World Series!    

As they say at the end of the game: Hip! Hip! Huzzah! 

Fun With Hyperlinking

You gotta love the way that the Web works, especially the joy that is Wikipedia.

This afternoon at lunch I was doing my usual reading of comics online and The Comics Curmudgeon, when I read this post from Sunday.  In the discussion of the Curtis comic, a link to Omphalos theory was provided.  I had to follow it, since I had never heard of it, and felt… well…. stupid.

Turns out it is a pretty heavy duty theology theory that can be basically boiled down to the question of "did Adam and Eve have belly buttons or not?"  What really caught my eye was in the "See Also" section of the article however, which provided a link to an article on the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which turns out to not be a reject from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, but a brilliant and hilarious religious parody.

However, I am clearly a little late to the game (though probably still ahead of most people), since there is already a Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and, of course its own web site

The best part about this?  It lead me to a "scientific" report on Pirates vs. Ninjas.

Doctor, Doctor, Find Me a Cure!

So I’m trying to find a new doctor since my current done drives me nuts.  I hate going there because he always asks me the same stupid, and sometime scary questions.  He has my entire medical history in front of me and proceeds to ask my date of birth.  And every time I’m there he asks if I’m still working at a job I haven’t worked at in over two years.  I’m far from one to be racist, but he’s Filipino, and I find it hard to understand him, he basically yells everything and answers most questions with "HUH!?!?" at first.  I also hate the way he says my name.  He manages to trill the "r" in "Derek."  I can’t even do it.  And his receptionist isn’t much better – I can usually hardly understand her. 

The last time I called for a prescription refill he told me he couldn’t call it into the pharmacy directly because it was a refill and that I had to come pick up the prescription. Since I couldn’t get the time to do that, I had someone go for me, and when they got there, they said that they had already called it into the pharmacy. 

I injured my right foot last year and he sent me to the hospital to get xrays and nearly sent me with a sheet to have them xray the wrong foot.

Every time I go there, I’m the only one in the waiting room, but it always takes at least 20 minute to see him, most of the time because I can hear him chatting (remember he shouts, not talks) with either a drug rep and/or an attractive female patient.  If it is an attractive female drug rep, I hunker down with the entire stack of outdated magazines from the waiting room.

Basically, the only thing I’m confident about with him is that he may be a moron, which isn’t the thing that you want to be confident about in a doctor!

So today I started looking online for a new doctor.  I figured that at this point there must be tons of places to search for doctors and get current patient’s feedback on them. 


You see, apparently you can look up the for the 105 reviews for the new White Stripes album or the nearly 1000 reviews of Tuscan Dairy Farms milk, but you can’t really find many reviews of doctors online.  Oh yes, there are sites that supposedly offer reviews, but there aren’t many actual reviews – they are just left blank.  I guess it is more important to review pencil sharpeners than it is to review doctors.