Feb 27, 2013

Nik Turley

Summer of 2011

My Gia is visiting her family in Charleston. The Yankees' Low-A affiliate, the Charleston Riverdogs, have a home series against one of the other teams in the South Atlantic League. Nik Turley pitches the first game she attends and he pitches well. A big lefty with a great pickoff move similar to Andy Pettitte.  The next game, she's sitting next to a young guy keeping score and tracking pitches. Turns out it's Nik Turley. Down at that level of the minors, the starting pitchers all take turns doing this on their off days. Was a real nice guy, and someone that we decided was a new favorite of ours in the Yankees organization. We've been keeping tabs on him ever since.


Nik Turley is now an interesting prospect in the Yankees organization. Not much of a commanding fastball (despite his 6'6" 230lb frame), but great control of all of his pitches. Recently was made a member of the 40-man roster. And at 23 he's making a Spring Training start for the Yankees against the Orioles at 1PM. I'm going to be watching. And not only for young Mr. Turley. Another favorite, Slade Heathcott, will be manning CF for the Bombers. Heathcott has had an up and down minor-league career thus far, but he had a tremendous showing in the Arizona Fall League. And he's got a troubling but inspirational backstory. Someone that I'll be rooting for. Especially today.

Good luck, fellas!

UPDATE 1:12PM - Turley is NOT impressing right now. Walked the first batter, threw wide to 1st base on a pickoff attempt (runner reached second officially on interference from Dan Johnson), got behind the second batter before giving up an infield single. Then an RBI single to CF to give up his first run. All before getting an out. Yikes!

UPDATE 1:19PM - Nothing has gone right for Turley or the Yanks. Still no one out. 5 runs in for the Orioles. A few wild pitches for Turley. He and we may just want to forget about this one. HEY! He just struck out Lew Ford. In other news, Lew Ford sucks. Ugh. Turley is out of the game.

UPDATE 2:01PM - Heathcott reaches base in his first at-bat on a fielder's choice. Not a particularly great at-bat, but it was nice to hear Singleton and Flaherty rave about the potential for the AA Yank's outfield of Heathcott, Mason Williams and Tyler Austin. 

Feb 26, 2013


Yeah, I know. I'm not there when you wake up in the morning, and you hate that! Actually, I'm under the bed. Just waiting for you to leave for work so I can do nasty things with your underwear drawer.

Now do you feel better?

Anyway, this happens to me every Spring Training. I just don't care about anything except baseball. Well, I still care about bourbon. And food. And The Walking Dead. Oh, and Gia...crap, almost forgot Gia. You see what baseball does to my brain?

Speaking of baseball, it brought a big ole' smile to my ruggedly handsome face to see some people actually care about February baseball games on Twitter the past few days. Sure, it's February. And if March baseball doesn't fucking matter, then I don't know what the hell we are supposed to do with February baseball. Me? I'm taking it out behind the junior high and gettin' it pregnant. That's how much I love me some February baseball.

Speaking of Gia, we've both been doing well with our diets. Well, we are trying hard not to call it a diet because we don't plan on it ever ending. It's more of a healthy life-style change. A Live-it, if you prefer. Ugh...I really don't prefer that. In fact, I fucking hate that term. Purge it from your mind, forget that I ever mentioned it. Here's what we are doing; controlling portions, limiting caloric intake, fresh ingredients, lotsa water, weekend splurging. Lather, rinse, repeat. It can be a little boring, but I'm trying to keep things interesting in both the bedroom (heyooo!!!) and the kitchen. That's how I roll.

Speaking of The Walking Dead, it's been fucking fantastic this year thus far. Haven't watched this past Sunday's episode yet, but I'm sure I'm gonna dig. Maybe they will finally do something interesting with that great big black hole of suck that is Andrea. Right now, I just want a spin-off where Carl roams the country just shooting fucking zombies in the fucking head.  That's it. That's all I want the show to be about. It's faint praise that annoying, little Carl has become my favorite character on the show. Everyone else needs to take a big step up...RIGHT NOW!

Speaking of food, Gia's sister is still rocking her food blog. Her latest installment detailed a Hobbit-themed party that she threw for her son's birthday. You gotta go check it out. I helped a bit with the preparation of the menu, but that's all. And since it happened in warm SC while we were stuck in cold NY, I'm more than a little jealous. Sigh.

Speaking of bourbon, I've got a new inexpensive favorite. Old Grand-Dad 100 Proof. I never gave it a try because...well, the bottle looked so cheap. Bad orange label. Bad orange plastic cap. It's around the same price as Jim Beam, maybe a couple of bucks cheaper. And I recently found out the Old Grand-Dad himself is Basil Hayden, a founding member of the bourbon expansion into Kentucky back in the 1700's.  There is another, more premium bourbon eponymously named after him as well. And the two share the same mash bill (oooh....getting me hot with all these fancy bourbon terms!). Just aged 6 years instead of 8. It's delicious! A bit more rye than your normal bourbon, which is something that really appeals to me over some of the wheated bourbons on the market.  Needs a bit of ice to mellow it, but that's how I drink bourbon anyway. So it works out perfectly. Don't judge the book by it's awful cover and give it a try.

And I'm spent. Bye!

Feb 14, 2013

Rock it!

Honestly, you should celebrate your holdiays anyway you want to celebrate them.

We went out for a wonderful dinner tonight. Came home with a rose for Gia, which Wolowitz was all over from the get go. He jumped into my arms as soon as we walked into the door and started messing with it.

It was most awesome. Look at that fucking tooth!

We have some wonderful pictures of the two of us from the night. But fuck that. Wolowitz playiing with our rose was and is so much more fun. Rock it.

Oh, and this was waiting for us on the chalkboard at our favorite local restaurant when we went out for dinner tonight.

I'm so lucky.

Feb 12, 2013

The War of the Roses

Here's a little baseball fact-nugget that I gleaned from Bill Veeck* today on Twitter.

Back around the turn of the last century, a bitter rivalry began between two Pennsylvania minor-league baseball teams named after historic cities in Great Britain. York and Lancaster. The York White Roses had been around in some form or another since 1884. In 1904, they joined the Tri-State League and changed their name to the York Penn Parks. Which is horrible name. So in 1905 they changed it back to the White Roses.

One of their rivals in that league at that time was the Lancaster Maroons. And prior to the 1906 season, the Maroons changed their name to the Red Roses. Just to piss off their rivals from York, or so it would seem. The manager of the White Roses immediately denounced the name change as an insult and a copycat maneuver. He also predicted they would finish last in that league in the upcoming season.

As things happen, the two teams met each other in the season opener in 1906 and the upstart Red Roses beat the White Roses by a score of 9-6. An even more bitter rivalry ensued.

The two teams moved around a bunch of times over the years. York moved to Atlantic City for a while, and then to Lancaster where they oddly called themselves the Red Roses during the middle of the 1914 season. How the hell does that happen?

Both teams (same team?) folded after the 1914 season, but they both returned later on. The York White Roses joined the NY-Penn League from 1923-1936, went dormant for a few years because of the Great Depression, joined the Interstate League in 1943, the Piedmont League in 1953 and the Eastern League in 1958 until calling it quits in 1969.  The Red Roses were dormant until 1940 when they joined the Interstate League. Then the Piedmont League and the Eastern League until 1962. All the while playing their other half of the classic British war on the baseball diamond.

Baseball's own War of the Roses. A rivalry that kinda exists to this day between the Revolution of York and the Barnstormers of Lancaster. Eh...I prefer the old nicknames.

Pitchers and catchers reported today. I'll take all the baseball content I can handle, frankly.

*Not really Bill Veeck. He's dead, ya know.

Feb 11, 2013

Earl's Favorite Film Scenes: Vol. XI

I haven't done one of these in well over a year. How is that possible?

Anyway, I was thinking about Moonstruck the other day. Gia and I consider it a classic. Just so funny with such great performances. We disagree about Olympia Dukakis. I think she was fantastic, while Gia didn't really buy her as the matriarch of the family. But we do agree that she is in many of the great scenes from the film. Mostly filmed in the household kitchen.

So, naturally, I picked a clip from the film that doesn't feature her. See? I'm whimsical that way.

The bakery scene/introduction to Nic Cage's character has become one of my favorite scenes of all-time. I remember not being able to stand Cage in this film when I first saw it. But he grew on me, like a cancerous mole. And this scene, in particular, is one that lets him fly his freak flag in a glorious way.


Bring me the big knife!

Feb 8, 2013

The Sandy Effect

UPDATE: There was no false hype. This was a killer storm. We had around 2 and 1/2 feet of snow, at least where I was shoveling. We need the plows to come by before we can even think of getting the cars out. Holy shit!

And, honestly, it's been going on for a lot longer than Superstorm Sandy* back around Halloween. But the hype and (over)reactions to the predictions for this nor'easter, Nemo** to be specific, is a bit out of control. Earlier in the week I heard talk of a coastal storm that we would need to watch, but the meteorologists weren't too worried about it. Then a few days ago, it was upgraded to a major snow event, and Snowpacalypse was nigh. Predictions of over 3 feet of snow in New England with up to 2 feet of snow or more here on Long Island. With blizzard conditions resulting from hurricane-force winds to boot.

It's the end of the world as we know it.

As I write this at 1PM on Friday, it is snowing here on the north shore. Something I wasn't expecting. The latest forecast called for rain all day turning to snow sometime after sundown, which is when it is supposed to get crazy. So maybe we are in for some significant accumulation. Or not. Because we are right on the line of the storm where it is snow to the north and rain in the south. I have no doubt that we are going to wake up to a bunch of snow tomorrow, but how much is anyone's guess. And that's all it seems to be. A guess.

Back to the Sandy Effect, however, and it seems like perception and dire predictions are all that matters for a portion of the population. I had to go out for supplies.  For us, that meant a trip to the liquor store. We are stocked with plenty of food, but we were running low on happy juice. And while I was out, I saw something I couldn't believe.

Gas lines.

That's right. Some people, at least in my neighborhood, are waiting on long lines to fill up their SUVs just in case we get a repeat of the gas shortage associated with the power outages that came with Sandy.  And the gas stations are feeding into it. They have closed off entrances and have their workers directing traffic and it looks exactly like what happened back in early November.

People, it's a snowstorm. Yes, we may get some significant snowfall. Yes, some people may lose some power. Yes, it's gonna be cold over the weekend. But an all-day rainstorm and 48 degree temperatures on Monday virtually guarantees that it will be all gone by Tuesday. And while the potential for extended power outages does exist, I believe that it just isn't going to be the case here on Long Island. I'm sure things are going to be bad for our neighbors across the Sound, and I wish them the best. But I'm still of the opinion that it's a winter storm. Something we have gone through a hundred times in my lifetime.

But we have been spoiled by the past two years. This is shaping up to be our first significant snow storm in around 3 years. But we all grew up with it. We should be tougher than this.

Ah...I probably just jinxed myself into 5 feet of snow and 3 weeks without power. I'm an ass.

And I don't even drink vodka. Seriously.

*I'm not making light of Sandy here. It was truly a horrific storm that affected millions and is still affecting thousands.

**A part of this hype is the current trend of naming winter storms. This one is Nemo. Really? We are naming snowstorms now? This has to end.

Feb 7, 2013


So y'all know that we have four cats. A couple of pure-bred snot-noses, who are really lovely. They both do some remarkable things as well. Bennington, since he has been a wee kitten, does this weird begging/clapping thing when he wants something. Could be food, could be one of the other cats sitting up high on something. Could be angels. We aren't sure. Then there is Bootsy. He's an asshole, but we have to give him some credit. He has been getting really creative with waking us up each morning. He's learned an entirely new cat vocabulary, or so it seems. Brilliant, autistic animal.

But for truly unique behavior, you have to observe one or both of our rescue cats for a while. The brother and sister duo of Wolowitz and Gogo.

Gogo, always our most vocal cat, has this habit of just yelling at us. Out of nowhere! Usually it's when we've disturbed her sleep by sneezing or, ya know, breathing loudly. But she also does it every time we walk into the bathroom. She follows, yelling at us, wanting to be brushed either in the sink or near the tub. She knows that the hair brushes are in that room, and she ain't no fool. Apparently.

And she's famously skitchy. Doesn't sit still ever. Always a blur of motion. So this makes this next trick  something truly unexpected.

After more than four years, she has become a lap cat. An insistent lap cat. A cat who needs to be on our fucking laps all fucking day long. It's both wonderful and annoying. Wonderful, because we were used to lap cats with Sydney and Sammi before they passed away, and our current pride of four have been anything but lap cats. Annoying because she's still as skitchy as all hell. In a given day, she will settle in on my lap, rest for a few minutes, then hear a noise in another room and run like hell to see what it was. Then do it all over again. Ad nauseum. All day long. And she gets pushy if you don't seem interested in actually having her on your lap. Odd fucking cat.

Then there is Wolowotiz. Dr. Wu. Mother-fucking Wu. This guy bristles with intelligence. I often think of that line in "Jurassic Park" when they are talking about the velicoraptors. One of the characters says something to the effect of being able to look at them and see that they are figuring things out in their heads. That's Wu. Saw him once try to open a closed door by putting his front paws on either side of the doorknob and attempting to turn it. If only he had those opposable thumbs he's always wishing for. He'd rule the fucking world!

He's funniest, however, when I'm cooking up something in the kitchen. He loves leafy greens and herbs. Mint, fresh basil, romaine lettuce...anything with a leaf and a bit of a scent, preferably. He generally will leave me alone if I'm making something without any fresh herbs or greens. Just not interested.

So I thought it was funny that he was so intent on watching me cook up a batch of New Orleans-style red beans and rice today. Lots of aromatics in there in the form of dried herbs and spices, but no fresh herbs. And he came into the kitchen to watch right away. Just as I was preparing all the ingredients and starting with the chopping of the veggies. Then when I picked up the celery, he got super-excited....ah that's what he wanted. But just the leafy ends, of course. Smart fucking cat.

Wolowitz and his greens. Herb.

Feb 4, 2013

Saturday in NYC

Hi! Remember me?

So we went to NYC this past Saturday to see some friends, eat some food and listen to some jazz/pop standards courtesy of John Pizzarelli. John's a super-talented jazz guitarist and band leader, and he and his brother Martin (bass) are friends with friends of ours. That's a clunky statement. Whatever. Anyway, they are also the sons of jazz legend Bucky Pizzarelli. Which is interesting because Gia's two uncles, also big names in the jazz community, worked with Bucky quite often. So when our friends found out that he would be doing a week-long engagement at Birdland (nice joint), they arranged for this little get-together. It was a blast. Something that I probably wouldn't have wanted to do if it hadn't been for the personal connections. But I'm so glad that I did. The band was awesome, and John does a great job with the banter in between songs. Funny, smart guy.

Some time during the evening, we started talking about famous people we have run into in the city. Gia told us how she and her sister basically stalked Phillip Seymour Hoffman one afternoon. They saw him walking around Times Square and they just followed him for a half-hour or so. Never spoke with him. Just followed him around like psychopaths. That's my woman.

After the show, we headed back to our friend's apartment as the womenfolk were a bit tipsy. The manly men decided to stay out and do manly things like drinking more brown, manly liquor at the restaurant downstairs. After sitting at the bar and having many manly discussions, our friend looks up and says "Hey, Phillip Seymour Hoffman just walked in." To which I replied "fuck you..."

But goddammit, Philip Seymour Hoffman was there meeting some folks for dinner. How freakin' weird is that? Gia, of course, was upstairs falling asleep. Kinda glad that she wasn't there. A restraining order might have been necessary.

Oh, and on my way to the bathroom I gave a quick howyadoin nod to a familiar face having drinks and dinner at one of the back tables. It was Chris Noth. Mr. Big himself.

Weird nite. Weird, but fun.

Let's let John and Martin Pizzarelli play us out.  Cheers!