Friday, July 30, 2010

You Say Good-bye, and I Say Hello

Yes, I know that you've missed The Grandstander from the flood of email that I have received stating that fact. Well, actually, it was one email, and all it said was that the sender has noticed that I still wasn't writing anything, but you define "groundswell" your way, and I'll define it my way!

In any event, it has been quite a week for Marilyn and me (quite a six weeks or so period, actually). On Monday morning, we said Good-bye to our home of the past 24+ years, and on Monday afternoon, we moved into and said Hello to what we hope will be our home for at least that long, and, we hope, many years on top of that.

We first looked at this house in Stonebrook Village on June 6, and 50 days later, we were living in it. To call the whole experience a whirlwind doesn't begin to do it justice. When we listed our house to sell, our realtor told us that houses sit on the market for anywhere from 45 to 60 days on average. We expected that we would enjoy our last summer on Field Club Drive and with a little bit of luck we would be moving into our new place in September. Well, we were very fortunate in that we had a lot of activity on our house (everybody loves the North Allegheny School District, apparently) in those initial days and were able to come to an agreement after only four days. That sure shortened our timetable, and after our Outer Banks vacation the work of moving began in earnest on June 27. We had to find a mover (which we did prior to leaving on vacation), get packing boxes (we ended up with close to 100 "packed by owner" crates and boxes), pack up 24 years worth of living in one spot, get rid of stuff we didn't want (have lost track of how many trips we made to Goodwill), and be ready for a closing date of July 26.

Some comments and observations....

  • The entire process of moving is incredibly stressful. Where do you start? What do you keep? What do you toss? And were will it all possible go in your new, smaller home?

  • It had been 24 years since we last moved...the accumulation of "stuff" over that period of time simply blows you away. Why did we get some of this stuff in the first place...and why have we held on to it for so long?

  • We are also 24 years older than we were when we last did this, but that can't have anything to do with the enormity of the task, can it?

  • How could we possibly have done all of this had we still been working and holding full-time jobs?

  • Whatever a professional mover charges, it's worth it. Trust me on that.

  • I now consider myself an expert at packing dishes and glassware. We were told by the rep of the moving company how to pack dishes, china, glasses, and crystal (you pack the dishes on their edges, and you wrap everything in blank newsprint - lots and lots of newsprint, which the moving company is happy to sell to you - and pack them in an extra heavy duty box called a "dish barrel," also available for sale from the moving company. The dishes, glasses, china, and crystal have all been unpacked and not a single item - ZERO - was broken! I was hoping breakage would be less that 5%, but to throw a perfect game was beyond my wildest expectations.

  • Early on in this process I purchased for myself a new cordless electric drill and a new boxcutter. Both purchases have paid for themselves a hundred times over (or so it seems).

  • Many of you reading this are probably by now saying something like "Who is he kidding? We know that Marilyn was the brains behind the planning and execution of this whole process?" Well, if you are saying something like that, you are absolutely correct. Her ability to plan out this entire process and make it work with the sort of efficiency that Presidential candidates have been promising - and failing - to deliver to our government since the FDR Administration has been absolutely amazing.

  • We felt the brunt of how far the pendulum has swung in the other direction in the mortgage industry in applying for and, eventually, securing a mortgage. What a picnic THAT whole process was!

  • Our thoughts often turned to Jim and Nancy who have moved so many times over the years. How did they manage doing that so often?

  • And you might have noticed that it has been REALLY HOT over these last few weeks. One thing we know that we will always remember as we look back upon this little adventure will be the infernal heat.

The entire process was, as I said earlier, stressful and not without its tense moments. We have a ton of stories that can be told, but in the end, as we come to our first weekend in our new house, it has all been worth it. We really like it and know that we have made the correct decision (trust me, there were times during those 50 days when that was not always a sure thing), and we know that we are going to be very happy here in Stonebrook Village.

We can't wait to have you visit!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Signing Off for a Few Days

The Grandstander will be out of commission for a few days as he relocates to a new ball park.

Will catch up with you all sometime mid-week.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Now - We Wait

Movers packed us up today. We sit in a virtually empty house.

Closing and Moving Day come Monday (for all you Jimmy Buffett fans).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Visit to the Rivers Casino

In an effort to get the move off of our minds, Marilyn and I visited the Rivers Casino tonight. Looks like we will have to pay off our new mortgage the old fashioned way, as no jackpots were realized by us tonight. I enjoyed being able to play blackjack without having to travel to Wheeling, WV - and at a $10 table to boot. I was ahead for a little while, but eventually the Commonwealth took fifty bucks away from me.

To all you Pennsylvanians who will be seeing a windfall reduction in your property taxes - no need to thank me!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Countdown: 7 Days and Counting

Only seven more days until we will be in our new house. It has reached the point where there is nothing left to do here in Field Club Drive, and the sight of boxes stacked everywhere is getting tiresome and just a bit creepy. We need to be getting out of the house these final days.

Today, I spent a delightful nine holes on the links with nephew Patrick.
Tomorrow, a trip to the Rivers Casino is planned.
Wednesday, a possible lunch date with former co-workers.
Thursday, taking the car for servicing.

That should kill time until the movers arrive on Friday. We will remain in a near empty 1537 on Fri-Sat-Sun. Then, the Big Day comes on Monday.

Last night, Marilyn and I had dinner and drinks on the back porch and reminisced about Memories of Field Club Drive. A very nice trip down Memory Lane, and knowing who reads this blog, be assured, dear readers, that YOU were mentioned during that conversation.

On another matter, I m declaring a temporary moratorium on Pirates talk. As one Loyal Reader has pointed out, what more can be said? So, barring some major development at 115 Federal Street, Pirate talk will be silent for at least two weeks. But before I cease and desist, I can't help but note that GM Opie was quoted in the paper once again this morning, saying that the Pirates under his watch have succeeded in all goals except for "wins on the major league level." Is it just me who thinks that this means that they have failed?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bob Sheppard's Funeral

I heard last night that no -as in zero - Yankees players were in attendance at Bob Sheppard's funeral yesterday. Can that be true? If so, were there extenuating circumstances? I would bet that this would not have been the case if George Steinbrenner were alive and well and still running things.

Also, if this is true, then it makes The Captain's insistence that a recording of Bob Sheppard introducing him when he comes to bat ring with a bit of false piety.

I know of one Loyal Reader out there who can give us the full lowdown on this.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Pirates Just Continue to Amaze You

In his blog this morning, Dejon Kovacevic reports that one of the reasons for the recent platooning of Lastings Milledge and Ryan Church was that Pirates management wanted to see how Milledge would "handle" it - would he pout, complain, stop working, or cause trouble.

THIS gets consideration when when you set your line-up?!?! In a season filled with Neal Huntington and John Russell screw-ups, this one really takes the cake. I can just see the pre-game strategy sessions:

JR: (silence)
NH: Let's see, since we probably won't win more than two of the next ten games anyway, what can we come up with to show how clever I am?
JR: (silence)
NH: Lastings Milledge has surprised everyone by being a hard worker and a good citizen ever since he came here. Maybe we should try to goad him into causing trouble like he did with the Mets and the Nationals.
JR: (silence)
NH: I know, let's platoon Milledge with Ryan Church, who stinks and can't hit worth a lick. Let's see if that riles up Milledge and causes him the wreak havoc inside the locker room. Gosh, what a swell idea!
JR: Okay.

As Butch always said to Sundance, just who ARE these guys? And why are they running a major league baseball club?


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Another Perk of Being Retired.... being able to watch an entire All-Star Game in I can't remember how many years. Don't have to worry about that alarm clock going off in the morning!

At the All-Star Break.....

If the old aphorism holds true, you know, the one about the teams in first place at the All-Star Break * will win the pennants, then it looks like a playoff season featuring the Reds, Braves, Padres, and Rockies in the NL and the Yankees, White Sox, Rangers, and Rays in the AL.

Interesting. I don't think a lot of people had the Reds and Padres as contenders going into the season.


Can the Reds hold on or will the St. Looie LaRussas overtake them?
Will the Phillies make a run at the Braves...and the Mets?
Only 4 games separate four teams in the NL West.
Do the Red Sox have what it takes to overtake the Yanks and/or the Rays?
The third place Red Sox' record would have them in first place in four of the other five divisions.
Are there enough cigarettes in Detroit for Jim Leyland to overtake the Pale Hose?

As for the Pirates, wow, what a road trip to lead into the All-Star Break. They now sit at 30-58, and only one game ahead of the Orioles for the worst record in baseball and the chance for the #1 pick in next year's entry draft. They are on pace to finish at 55-107. No one expected this crew to be a .500 team, but, be honest now, did you ever think that they would be THIS bad?

For the remaining 78 games, they need to go....

-- 51-23 to finish at .500 (OK, stop laughing now!)
-- 33-41 to avoid 100 losses
-- 21-53 to avoid the 112 loss season of the awful 1952 team

As for the "second season" of 84 games that began on July 1 (see my earlier post on this), the team now stands at 3-7, thanks to that abomination of a road trip to Houston and Milwaukee.

But take heart - Brian Bixler is now back in the Pirates organ-eye-zation. Let us hope to God that he was obtained solely for the purpose of playing at Indianapolis. Seriously, if GM Opie ever brings Bixler back to play as a Pirate, that would be the ultimate slap in the face to the Pirates fan base. I think I'd rather see Jeromy Burnitz back in uniform before Brian Bixler.

* Perhaps the old aphorism holds that the teams in "first place on the 4th of July" will win the pennants, but since I didn't think to do this on July 4, then the All-Star Break it is!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

"We are all accomplices."

So says the Trib's Joe Starkey in a great column about the LeBron James/ESPN sham of Thursday night.

In case you missed it....

Friday, July 9, 2010

"Not A Pretty Picture"

That is the title of a feature story in the current Sports Illustrated (Serena Williams on the cover) about our favorite baseball team, the Pirates. The author, Jon Wertheim refers to the team as "the most futile franchise in sports." Yes, the Buccos have surpassed (if that's the right word) the Clippers and the Lions. What a milestone!!

Despite that, the article does give a pretty fair and balanced picture of the State of the Pirates, although it does fall on the old "fireworks and bobbleheads" cliche. (Every major league team - every team - promotes giveaways and hokey in game entertainment. The Pirates can be criticized for a lot of things; this isn't one of them.)

Anyway, if you are like me and are not an SI subscriber, click here to read the story:

Thanks to Loyal Reader Big Poppy for pointing out this article to Yours Truly.

Thoughts on LeBron

Yes, I confess to succumbing to the hype and watching the LeBron / ESPN extravaganza last night. This was after watching "Wipeout" at 8:00 on ABC. Now THAT is pure athletic competition! Anyway, a couple of thoughts on the entire affair:

* James had a contract with the Cavaliers that took him through the 2010 season. He fulfilled that contract. He had every right to play the field and accept what he feels to be the best offer for him. He owed the city of Cleveland and the Cavaliers nothing.

* That said, after making a big deal for seven years about being a hometown guy and a team guy, he really shit on Cleveland by making this announcement in the manner that he did. A simple, non-sponsored press conference would have been better.

* I take back one thing I said above, he did owe the Cavaliers the courtesy of letting them know ahead of time that he has chosen another team.

* One interesting thing is that, apparently, James will be getting less money in Miami than he could have gotten elsewhere. There is something to be said for that.

* Of course, zillions of dollars in endorsements can make up for a lower salary.

* Sports teams owners are forbidden, rightfully so, from colluding when negotiating with players, but isn't what James, Wade, and Bosch did in engineering these signings also a form of collusion? Just wondering.

* In case you are wondering, I turned off ESPN right after James made his announcement. I didn't watch the entire hour.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What is More Offensive to You?

Is it LeBron James for asking for an hour of television prime time to make his free agent signing announcement?

Or, is it ESPN for agreeing to give him an hour of TV prime time?

I say it's a close call.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Numbers Crunching

It is way too early to start this sort of nonsense, but since the 4th of July is the traditional halfway point of the baseball season, let's do it anyway.

Through the games of July 4, the Pirates' record now stands at 30-52, which puts them on a pace to lose 103 games. With the recent 5 of 7 streak coloring our vision, here is what has to happen for the Pirates....

To finish at .500, they need to go 51-29 for the remainder of the season. Clearly this isn't going to happen, and we'll leave it from consideration unless the current trend continues.

To avoid 100 losses, they need to go 33-47. This is doable, but not a sure thing.

To avoid the 112 losses of the 1952 team, they need to go 21-59. I think that they can avoid this unhappy stat, but a week ago, this wasn't looking like an unlikely proposition.

What might be more fun is following the team that is now in place, the team that all agree will be "the future" (Alvarez, Walker, Lincoln et al). Let's put that horrible June behind us and choose July 1 as the arbitrary Opening Day for The Future, and track it from there.

OK, the team sat at 27-51 on June 30. In the remaining 84 games, what would you consider a benchmark of success for the Future Pirates? 45 wins? 40? 35?

So far, that team is 3-1.

The Grandstander will provide periodic updates as both seasons progress for the Bucs.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


As we are in the midst of packing up our house, the classic "Stuff" routine of the great George Carlin rings ever true.

Old School

While attending the Bucs-Phils game last night, among all the Utley, Howard, and Hamels replica jerseys, I saw one guy wearing a #6 jersey that said "Callison." Now THAT is Old School! I had to shake the guy's hand!

Looks like I picked the right game to attend this weekend. After six tonight, the Phillies appear to be well on their way to balancing the books on the Pirates, leading 11-2. Chance for the Pirates to take the series tomorrow though.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bucs Win and a Comment on Jamie Moyer

It was nice to see a 2-0 Pirates win tonight and silence the hordes of Phillies fans who were in attendance at PNC Park tonight. In all fairness, though, I have to say that those Phils' fans around us, and there were a bunch of them, were polite and good sports. Certainly not of the type that scream obscenities at Sidney Crosby at Flyers' games.

A word or two on Jamie Moyer. He is 47 years old, won the first of his 267 ML wins in 1986, and he continues to pitch well. He lost tonight as a result of two unearned runs by the Pirates (albeit on HIS error). Every time I looked at the pitch speed on the scoreboard, his pitches were clocking in the low to mid-70's, yet he made Pirates hitters look like pony leaguers. Shouldn't major league hitters be able to just bash the s**t out of such junk? Before you say "but these are the Pirates, not major league hitters", keep in mind that Moyer is doing this to most every team he faces.

He will probably never make it to the Hall of Fame, but he surely will be a first ballot entrant to the Hall of Pretty Damn Good.

Two final comments: The Pirates are 4-2 in games that I have attended, and I have been there for the sole victories of Charlie Morton and Ross Ohlendorf (although I suspect that Ohlendorf will not be a one hit wonder now that he has that first one under his belt).

Back in Action

Thanks to the folks at the Google help desk. I have now rectified the technical problem of a few days back, and now all Followers, the Blog Archive, and About Me are once again visible on the left side of the Blog "page."

And you are now seeing a new color scheme on The Grandstander for whatever that might be worth!

Bucs on a Roll; A New Poster; and Moving

A couple of comments to start the month of July...

After a month that can only be described and hideous and pathetic, the Pirates have now won three of their last four games. Not that I'm getting ready for a run at the Wild Card or anything, but perhaps this can be a trend that will (a) keep them ahead of the Orioles and (b) keep them from threatening the 112 loss season of the 1952 Pirates.

A new poster identifying himself as "John Boccabella" as signed in on The Grandstander. Watch for his comments. I guarantee that they will be entertaining to all.

Moving. We have spent the days since returning from vacation packing boxes in preparation for the move to our new home. I never knew how many books we had. If books were dollars, we wouldn't be needing a mortgage! On the other hand, we are learning that great pleasure can be found in throwing something away. Haven't used that widget we've been holding onto for ten years? Into the trash bag! Love it.