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Posts Tagged ‘Arizona Diamondbacks’


Pitch In For Baseball logo

Every Ball Helps!

The 2011 Major League Baseball season is now officially underway, so I would like to get this off my chest now before going further . . .

My Diamondbacks won their season opener, beating the Colorado Rockies 7-6 in 11 innings!

On the whole they’re not expected to fare much better this season than last, but Opening Day is sorta special, so I was excited to see them get off to a good start.

Back to the true reason for this post . . .

Zack Hample is ballhawking for a charitable organization (no, not the Democratic Party) called Pitch In For Baseball, and yes, they’re completely legit.

Depending on where you grew up you may have participated in Read-a-thons as a child, or pledge walks. In such cases you would get people to pledge a certain amount of money for each book you read or mile you walked. Zack is doing something similar but with baseballs.

PIFB provides baseball equipment to underprivileged children the world over. Take a minute or two and read about what he’s doing.

I am pledging .10 for each baseball he gets this season. Based upon his productivity the last two years that’s going to result in a pledge—for the whole season—of probably less than $60.

You can pledge a penny per ball if you like.

It’s super easy to participate. Do please give it a look and consider participating. Zack would thank you as would all those kids who will receive gear so they can enjoy our national pastime, too.

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Arizona Diamondbacks logo
I don’t get the chance to do this much–at least I didn’t last year. The 2009 MLB season is mercifully over, and as of last night we’re now off and running in a brand new season; America’s Pastime is back. It was good to hear the roar of the crowd and the crack of the bat.

Being a fan isn’t near as much fun unless you can balance out support for your team with passionate opposition to another team . . . or two.

I’ll make this a brief post:

My Arizona Diamondbacks had their Opening Day this afternoon, and beat the San Diego Padres 6-3 at home. My ‘guy’, Stephen Drew, hit an in the park home run. We’re off to a better start already!

Our division rivals, and perhaps a team second only to the reviled New York Yankees in my book of utter distaste, the Los Angeles Dodgers lost to the team with the longest losing record in baseball history – the Pittsburgh Pirates; they took it in the shorts, 11-5. Go Pirates!

I loved watching my Dbacks win, especially on Opening Day, but almost as sweet was watching the Boston Red Sox hand the Yankees their season opening loss, 9-7. As my friend Kenzie would say, that is made of AWESOME!

Any day the Dodgers and the Yankees lose is a grand day indeed. You can’t argue with a higher authority (see below):

Even Jesus Hates The Yankees

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lucky_sevens

I have made mention before that I consider myself a “Realist,” which could be convoluted, upon occasion, to infer that I am negative at times. Negativity is toxic and punishing—as if life weren’t challenging enough. Life is chocked full of challenges and obstacles, and the Dark swings a big stick.

Sometimes life is just plain ugly.

But sometimes there is basis in fact for “negativity,” although the mere mention of a dark thing based in fact surely falls under the category of Reality. I submit to a candid world two such facts:

One: I am—until such time as I publish again—a first-time author. With such a pedigree comes the responsibility of proving oneself on a number of levels, not the least of which is the hearts and minds of readers. Readers tend to be a little more forgiving of freshman mistakes, but the more critical among the literate turn up their noses at the offensive stench of unproven writers.

Two: My Arizona Diamondbacks are in the midst of one of their worst seasons ever. Individual team members are having a statistically sound year (like my guy, Stephen Drew!). They’ve lost—no lie here—almost a full three-quarters of the home games my son and I have gone to watch at Chase Field.

So going into Saturday, July 25th, 2009, I began the day with the factual deck stacked against me. But as I’d alluded to in a previous post, regardless of the outcome I would spend a day with my son living amongst the comfort of books and steeped in the great American pasttime of baseball.

In all honesty I was quite alright with coming out of the day with an ‘L’ in both columns.

First up, my book signing at Changing Hands in Tempe. They had set up for a full blown ‘talk’ instead of just a book signing. I was under the impression I was doing a simple signing, so I was haplessly unprepared. Fortunately there was a podium I was to stand at while I winged it—fortunate because I think better standing up, not because I’m in any way speech-friendly.

I’ll spare you, kind reader, with all the minutiae, but it went far better than I thought it would. I had no acquaintances or family show up for the speech-on-the-fly, but I did have seven complete strangers sit patiently and listen, then ask questions I could easily answer (phew!).

I signed seven copies of my book, and no, not one to each person. To put that in perspective, a lot of book signing authors I’ve read about have typically sold (on a good day) two, maybe three, copies, after sitting at their table for three to four hours. I was there an hour-and-a-half.

I must also thank the staff, who were unspeakably supportive and accomodating, and a genuine pleasure to work with (thanks Jamie!).

A quick note: Lest you think this was some small-time neighborhood used book store I’ll have you know that Changing Hands was Publishers Weekly number one independent bookseller in 2007.

“So what?” you say, incredulous.

At the end of this month alone they will host J.A. Jance, and next month are hosting Garrison Keillor. In the past they’ve hosted Stephanie Meyers (Twilight series), Christian Lander (Stuff White People Like), and a Who’s Who of other notable and hugely popular authors. Joey Kramer of Aerosmith will even be there next week to sign copies of his book!

What’s not to like about being included with company like that . . . win or lose!

I finished up there, thanked mom and dad for showing up too (yes, they showed up as well, but got hung up in traffic on the way), and then my son and I went to take in the Dbacks vs. Pittsburg Pirates. Now, they’d won the night before, but given their ability to crash-and-burn at will this season I wasn’t holding out a lot of hope for a ‘W’.

Guess what — they WON! And the score . . .

7-0

It’s way too cheesy and coincidental for me to have made up. A day of sevens, and I got two W’s for the day!

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One of the best things about having your own blog is you get to dictate the content—it’s your party and you’ll cry if you want to . . . or whine, rant, make fun of others, or indulge in a touch of shameless self-promotion.

So this post won’t contain any breathtaking prose on politics or current events, no mental wanderings on things in my little corner of another summer in Hell Arizona.

See, I’m fast closing in on my first book signing ‘thing’. Next Saturday, July 25th, at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, from 2:00-3:30pm. Should be a good day. I’ll have all new experiences in anxiety and stress at the bookstore, and then afterwards my son and I are going to a Diamondbacks game; the way they’ve been playing chances are I’ll come up bigger at the bookstore than they will in front of a stadium half-full of fans.

Doesn’t really matter. I get to have a bona fide day to carefully tuck away in memory.

In anticipation—and because I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t do so—I stopped by the bookstore to see if my book was on the shelves ahead of the signing:

The Author Events section

The Author Events section

In case you missed it . . . my books . . . on the shelf!

In case you missed it . . . my books . . . on the shelf!

Any questions? OOH-RAH! If nothing else I get to see my book on a bookstore shelf. I may not sell a single one that day, but I got to experience something I never thought I would. It was a moment of quiet intensity.

I’d like to ask for your indulgence one moment more. I wanted to share this review—not because it’s another glowing review, but because of something better than that. About three weeks ago I’d sent out a press release and receieved almost thirty requests for review copies. For one in particular, I visited her blog, only to discover she’d very recently had a death in her family. Along with the book I sent a note expressing my sincere condolences. I figured she wouldn’t get around to reading the book, much less writing a review, for quite a while given the circumstances . . . and that suited me just fine. However, within about two weeks she’d written me back stating she had, in fact, read it and done the review. First, here’s the note she sent:

I want to first thank you for the nice note you included with the book you sent for review. Your expressions of sympathy for the loss of my sister were very kind. I am thankful you sent the book when you did. It was wonderful and I needed to read it.

Nice, indeed, of itself. Next, the review she wrote:

The Light, The Dark, & Ember Between is beautifully written, and is an uplifting, thoughtful, intelligent, and heartfelt collection of short stories. Fifteen stories in all, each is so very different and from different points of view. All of the stories bring the message of hope to the reader. This is a book that lives up to what it promises – the message of hope as the “Ember Between.”

I have to say that this book came to me at just the right time. I needed to read it because it reminded me that hope doesn’t just happen. We have to keep our eyes open and watch for it. This is a lovely book that I recommend for personal reading or as a wonderful gift.

By the way, on Amazon she gave it 5-stars, and entitled her comment “Better than 5 stars.” (Remember, this is my blog!)

Her review, of course, is wonderful. But I submit that the higher reason for basking in it isn’t because of what she thought of the book, rather because of what it did for one person—a complete stranger. Should there ever be any doubt or argument about the power of angels? I have the warmest suspicion that the timing of my press release was guided by a power far greater than any visible entity I know of.

Every so often, if we listen very carefully, closely, without remission of heart, we may hear the whisper of an angel telling us we’ve done well. I like her review (of course) but am far more fond of what she’s said between the lines. I managed, in some small way, to make a difference—and I have to say it feels exceptionally good.


If you’d like to see the rest of the Amazon reviews you can find them here.

I have all the reviews (Amazon’s included) posted at my site, Avomnia.com.

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Recently I read an article about Thomas Jefferson, the subtext of which was a take on heroes. Interesting, because I’d say it’s a safe bet that the majority of American society knows little about Jefferson removed from his authorship of the Declaration of Independence. My intention here isn’t to bore you with a common man’s interpretation of Jefferson’s life or accomplishments. Actually I wanted to speak to the subject of heroes.

You think I threw you a mental stumbling block, don’t you? How in the world does Jefferson, or any other founding father, become construed with something like heroism?

Glad you asked.

When you read or hear the word hero the immediate thing that likely comes to mind is probably the hero of comic book or movie variety: Superman, Batman, Capt. Jack Sparrow, Robin Hood, Luke Skywalker, etc. We associate so easily with these fictional heroes because we feel endeared to some trait or traits they possess. These characters perform all manner of super-human feats in the name of justice, revenge, love, or plain old self-interest.

But true heroes, as this article pointed out, are not those who punch, shoot, pummel, vaporize or otherwise vanquish their enemies in the name of fulfilling a storyline. They are genuinely men and women of profound moral convictions.

Sure, Superman battled for justice, as did Batman; those are pretty moralistic things, right? They put themselves on the line for some greater good, not for their own posterity or personal glorification. Men, such as our founding fathers, believed strongly in what liberty and freedom meant. They all agreed upon the concept of Natural Rights. They all had deep seated convictions about how power should be handled and how a new nation should be governed.

These were indeed men of profound moral convictions. And we assuredly have people like that among us today—if you give it even the faintest shred of thought energy you’ll find they’re closer than you think.

Let’s first bring distinction between a hero and an idol. Using the definition above, even including the additional criteria of consistent courage. These qualities engender admiration and inspire us to follow a worthy example. To wit:

    • The men and women of our Armed Forces . . . heroes
    • Good teachers doing everything in their power (and sometimes at their own personal expense) to teach our children . . . heroes
    • The aforementioned founding fathers . . . heroes
    • Law enforcement officers, firefighters . . . heroes

Again, you’re stuck on the founding fathers bit, aren’t you? Understand that these men (not to exclude the troubled Continental Army) put their very lives at stake by commiting treason when they declared independence from the British crown. The Declaration of Independence itself was a blatant form of sedition. Tell me that doesn’t take some serious cajones.

So perhaps we’re in agreement on my meager list of heroes. Here’s a quick list of idols:

    • Britney Spears . . . idol (sorry GBU)
    • Athletes and popular sports figures . . . idols
    • Rock stars, television and movie celebs . . . idols
    • Dare I say that even President Barak Obama, given those who look at him through the filter of celebrity . . . idol

Look, anyone who has read my blog for a while knows I’m a fan of the Arizona Diamondbacks . . . yes, I know they suck this year. My favorite player, my ‘guy’: Stephen Drew. I don’t idolize him, but I appreciate his hustle and solid play. I certainly wouldn’t say he’s a hero of mine. But given my definition of hero, and completely subjective categorizing of heroes and idols, he falls under the idol category.

Let’s be clear here—idol worship is something I don’t condone or recommend, and I assure you there are but three entities I worship, and that’s that.

My heroes are people I didn’t know were heroes until I could completely grasp the concept. People like my parents, who did everything within their power to make sure my brother and I were provided for. That takes courage, moral conviction, and sacrifice; sounds like heroism to me. Other unsung contributors like nurses and daycare people. The doctors, and especially pediatricians, who don’t shuffle you off to an answering service in the middle of the night, but answer the phone when their patients call. I’d say that takes strong moral conviction and sacrifice, too.

And while I’m here, I’d like to take one more dip in the pool of controversy. Idols do not role models make. Can I put that any more succinctly? If you ask me, parents should be role models for their children, not some person whose likeness or voice travels upon the airwaves. It’s absolutely positive for a child to look up to someone because they may represent something good, maybe even something they find inspiration in. But it’s flat out wrong for a child to look up to someone because of the lifestyle they lead or the money they make.

I truly doubt anyone reading this blog has any issue with that. Typically speaking, well informed, well read, educated people lean far more towards being heroic than anything else.

Heroes are people of admiration and noble qualities. Look around you, and I bet you’re sure to find some close at hand.

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