MW Mobile Blog

For friends, family and the random search engine visitor. This blog started as an experiment in mobile blogging from my Palm TREO 600, 700, Prē, HTC Evo, Samsung 5, Pixel 3, Pixel 6 Pro. Now it serves as a simple repository of favorite activities. Expect bad golf, good fishing, great sailing, eating, drinking, adventure travel, occasional politics and anything else I find interesting along the way including, but not limited to, any of the labels listed here...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Ten Years Ago - A Seat That Will Live In Infamy

Aisle 4, Row 8, Seat 113
Got bored with Monday Night Football, and stumbled on "Catching Hell" - an excellent ESPN documentary on the infamous Bartman Incident in game six of the 2003 National League Championship Game. Tweeting my appreciation for one of the best sports documentaries I've seen, I learned it was exactly ten years ago:

10 Years Later, Steve Bartman Remains A Tragedy
"For this second, for that moment captured in the screengrab, Steve Bartman thinks the Cubs can still win the World Series. He doesn't quite realize that his life has forever changed. And if I had to wager a guess, I bet, at that second he doesn't actually care. There are runners on first and third, but there's already one out. Ivan Rodriguez hits into double plays all the time. That was quite the little hullabaloo there, hoo boy, but come on, boys, let's get back to business. Just five outs to go. Just five little outs to go...
He's here for baseball. If the Cubs had acted like Steve Bartman, had they put it behind them and concentrated on the task at hand, they might have won that World Series. They should have followed Bartman's lead. Everyone should have.

But they didn't. The Cubs, clearly panicked, had a big meeting at the mound, allowing the crowd enough time to focus solely on Bartman and not on what they were there for in the first place. And Prior stayed in the game.

On a 1-2 pitch, Ivan Rodriguez smashes a hanging curveball into left field for a base hit. On the next pitch, skinny Miguel Cabrera hits an easy groundball to shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who, distracted by Dread, bobbles it. Everyone's safe. The bases are loaded. The die is cast. History is sweeping over. Everyone sees what's happening now. What is on the field is too gruesome to look at. So they look away. They look to Aisle 4, Row 8, Seat 113. They look for Bartman."
The weird thing was this - every Cub fan immediately knew it was over. Everyone at Wrigley. Everyone watching at home. I knew. There was no reason to think it was over. This was game six. Game seven would be played at home with our ace on the mound. But we all knew.

I wasn't blogging then. Instead I  sent out a broadcast e-mail to mostly amused friends and posted it on a board. Found the e-mail in the archives and will reprise it here.  I'll include the continuing thread, because after watching the "Catching Hell" documentary, I wanted to show that I didn't blame Bartman. Not even then.  I blamed Prior and Gonzales.  And Dusty for not pulling Prior.  I didn't blame Bartman.

But that doesn't change the fact that the moment Steve Bartman touched the ball, I knew.
-----Original Message-----

From: Mike Wallach
Sent: Monday, October 20, 2003 11:29 AM
To: Mac
Subject: RE: Cubs and Armageddon

Dusty is still my hero. At least he got them into contention. The real test for Dusty is next year, and whether he brings the Cubs back to the post-season, or (more likely) they revert to their historical mean and fall back to being a .500 team, like the 69, 84, 89, 98 Cubs did.

The real problem that game was the Gonzalez error on the easy ground ball. If it were not for all the media focus on Bartman (The Fan), the Gonzalez gaffe would be sitting on the same pedestal as Buckner ('86 Red Sox) and Durham ('84 Cubs).

Anyway - Bartman is a folk hero in Florida. Jeb Bush offered political asylum, and he is also being offered "lap dances for life" from Florida strip clubs. 
-----Original Message----- 
From: Mac
Sent: Monday, October 20, 2003 10:41 AM
Subject: RE: Cubs and Armageddon

Cubs are f*cking brutal. The least of their problems is the fan. It’s starting to look like Dusty can’t close a series.

- Mac

-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Wallach
Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2003 11:40 AM
Subject: Cubs and Armageddon

Concerned Friends,
I have received several communications expressing concern about my health and mental well-being after the Cubs/Marlins game last night. Please do not worry. As a life-long Cub fan, I am emotionally well prepared to deal with this turn of events.
I will admit that I was overcome with a profound 1984esque dread before game time last night. 
It was an accurate premonition.

Do not be concerned if you do not hear from me over the next 12 hours. I will be dealing with this by going into seclusion, beginning with the ALCS game, and continuing through the expected final humiliation in Wrigley Field this evening. During this time of introspection, I will not be e-mailing, text-messaging, or taking calls. I will simply watch the inevitable denouement of this tragedy play itself out, and accept whatever meaning can be derived from an empty bottle of scotch. 
In preparation for the game, I will re-read The Last Pennant before Armageddon (excerpt below) by W.P. Kinsella. In this short story, the coach of the Chicago Cubs is haunted by a recurring prophetic dream that if the Cubs win the Pennant, it will trigger the end of the world.
For any real Cub fan, The End of World seems a reasonable price to pay for a Pennant. Everyone else should be grateful to the fan that knocked the ball away from Moises Alou. As a result, the Cubs will lose, and the world will go on, as Armageddon is postponed yet again.

I assume that Mark Prior was referring to the Kinsella Prophecy in his quote after the game: 
"... this isn't the end of the world, I think we'll be all right..." - Mark Prior

Excerpt from: The Last Pennant before Armageddon by W.P. Kinsella:
"The sun is finally shining on Al Tiller," read a recent headline in the Trib. For the moment he was the most famous baseball manager in the nation, the man guiding the Chicago Cubs toward their first pennant in half a century; everyone wanted to talk baseball, no one gave a damn about his dreams.  He could picture himself at a news conference, pausing right in the middle of fielding questions about his pitching rotation and his left fielder's Achilles tendon, to say, "Gentlemen for the past several weeks I have been having prophetic dreams. It is my considered opinion that if the the Chicago Cubs win the National league pennant, the world is going to end. " ... It was on the sixth night God spoke. Tiller was certain that Al Capone was one of lobbyists that evening. He had always thought of Capone as a White Sox fan... "I appreciate your interest," God said. "I want to assure you that I hold the Chicago Cubs in highest esteem. I have listened to your entreaties and considered the matter carefully from all angles. I am aware of how long it has been since the Cubs have won a pennant. I think you should know that when the Cubs next win the National League Championship, it will be the last pennant before Armageddon ...." Al Tiller assumed there was more, however that was the point at which he woke up, his sweat soaked pajamas wrapped around him like wet sheets, his heart thrumming. His last sight had been of the lobbyists leaping to their feet with joy as if their favorite player had just homered in a clutch situation."
Mike Wallach | Cub Fan
 That was probably as close as the Cubs got to the World Series in my lifetime. Well... except for 1989, when the Cubs came into Candlestick with 2-0 lead in the NLCS and I watched them get demolished  singlehandedly by Will Clark.  Or in 1969, when the Cubs had a ten game lead going into September and I cut high school to sit in the bleachers and watch them execute the second greatest swan dive in sporting history, eclipsed only recently by the Kiwi choke in the America's Cup last month.

I see we will soon have a new manager.

Next year.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ten easy steps to three perfect days in Gwinn

Get a room with a view
Sigrid arrived late Sunday night at Sawyer International Airport in Gwinn, Michigan. It required 10 hours and three airports for Sigrid to fly here. About the time it would take to get to Paris.  Probably best to not bring that up.

 Sigrid always plans the best itineraries for our far flung adventures.  She proved to be equally adept at planning a short trip to Big Shag Lake and  Three Perfect Days in Gwinn.

1)  Arrange for the weather to be 70 degrees and sunny during the day, 45 degrees and cool in the night. and make sure it rains only at night.

2) These weather conditions will permit  you to  enjoy spectacular sunrises from your room with a view.

3) Your experience will be enhanced by coordinating your visit with the peak fall color change, offering unique photo opportunities.

 4) Hire an experienced captain and crew to be available on demand for private pontoon boat cruises on the lake.

If you can't find an experienced captain, don't worry. Anyone can drive these things.

5) For a cultured evening of musical appreciation, don't miss the Monday night Acoustic Jam at Jack's Hideaway.  Sure it looks like a roadside dive. That's because it is. But when a random group of talented local musicians bring an eclectic mix of instruments just to enjoy themselves and see what happens, you can't go wrong for the cost of a few beers.

 This night Sigrid enjoyed 5 acoustic guitars, 1 electric guitar, 1 bass guitar, two harmonica players, two fiddlers and a mandolin. It was way cooler than it had any right to be.

6) Leave time for quiet contemplation and reading from your private veranda embedded in the north woods canopy.

7) Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the October sunshine and mild weather for which the UP is famous while relaxing at anchor in a pontoon boat in the middle of the lake with your hired captain and crew.

8 ) Take a photographic safari exploring the Lake Superior shoreline and fall color vistas while enjoying local cuisine.

Enjoy Yooper smoked fish...

potato sausage and...
 ... cheese curds!

Okay, the last is not really "yooper", but close enough (A special request for Kenosha born loyal Reader Laurie).

 9) Before discharging your pontoon boat captain and crew, take a sunset cruise around the lake.

10) Finish your trip with one of the most spectacular Northern Lights displays in recent memory. Be sure to insist on an aurora borealis that encompasses at least half of the visible sky from directly overhead to at least 180 degrees of the horizon.

A full sky "fish eye" shot of the Oct 2 Northern Lights from professional photographer Shawn Malone:

 Shawn called it "one of the most intense I've ever seen" - which is really saying something considering how long she has been shooting this phenomena in Northern Michigan.

So simply plan to be in the U.P. on clear moonless night when one of these things is happening and your three perfect days in Gwinn will be complete.