Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Seeking Consistency

Predictably, my softball team lost its playoff game Sunday. The season is over, a season of consistency if you consider lack of hitting, lack of fielding, lack of smart baserunning, lack of solid pitching and, most importantly, lack of sound baseball sense, traits to applaud for their game in-game out consistency. But was it fun losing 14 of 17 games? Overall, I’d say it was worth the effort and enjoyable enough to get out of bed early Sunday mornings from April through September. 

It wasn’t pretty watching a reincarnation of the 1962 NY Mets (or the 2012 Mets), but I can’t say my teammates didn’t try. After all, if they tried their hardest, isn’t that all you can ask for? My only real regret is that somehow, in one of the few games we won early in the season, somehow I twisted my left knee and it now pops and cracks every time I exert myself (I’ve self-diagnosed it as a medial collateral ligament sprain). Softball season might be over but last night my indoor tennis season began and I immediately felt constrained by my inability to pivot on my left leg. 

For months Gilda has been telling me I needed to exercise to strengthen the quad muscles surrounding the knee. She’s right, of course. She’s consistently right about the need to exercise and I, unfortunately, consistently resist. Well, I’ve gotten to the point where it’s either exercise or stop playing tennis. I think my exercise program begins the day after Yom Kippur, a day in which I will atone for not listening to her sooner.

Chutzpah: Not sure how many of you read the business section of the NY Times, but if you’d like a real-world example of chutzpah, read this article about the choice of Tim Pawlenty to be the new president of an influential Wall Street lobbying organization: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/09/24/about-face-for-bankers-new-lobbyist/?ref=business

It’s the latest example of a politician’s lack of principles, in this case, how the former governor of Minnesota, who for years consistently criticized the financial industry during his erstwhile run for the Republican presidential nomination, has decided to go for the big bucks and become his supposed arch-enemy’s mouthpiece. We’ve often seen ex-senators and congressmen from both parties become lobbyists, so it’s not a head-spinner that Pawlenty has turned to the dark side. What is news is that almost all his predecessors to the lobbying trough had experience dealing with their new clients through Senate or House committee assignments. Pawlenty has no background in the financial industry. Another example of how politicians consistently never fail to amaze.

Football Frenzy: For years I consistently avoided wasting my money on football pools. I prefer losing money the old fashioned way, in a poker game where I have direct involvement, rather than letting ballplayers or game officials determine the outcome. Nevertheless, this year I joined a Football Frenzy pool, the object of which is to pick as many winners each week as possible. Through three weeks I can say I have been consistent, picking seven winners each week. That record of accomplishment has placed me 20th out of 22 participants. I’m only seven points behind the leader (shout-out to Gregg), but there are 14 more weeks of play so there’s still time to recoup my investment.

Don’t look to me for a definitive call on the last second touchdown or interception on the final play of the Packers-Seahawks game Monday night. I’ve seen videotape of the play and heard numerous interpretations of the rule book. Suffice to say, the replacement refs are consistently challenged to work up to the standards set by the regular officials who are on strike. But like my softball teammates, they are trying, they just don’t have the experience or skill sets to police a game that whizzes by their competence levels. Let’s be honest, however. In the past there have been plenty of controversial calls from regular officials. It’s just easier to complain, and more visible, when replacement refs blow a call.

A Pet Peeve: I consider myself a fairly well educated person, with good vocabulary skills. I wonder, however, why some writers purposely include words that the average, nay, even the elite, would never deem to use in normal prose. Here’s an example from a recent NY Times Book Review by Mark Lewis of “The Fish That Ate the Whale”: “At times, (Rich) Cohen waxes almost Kiplingesque as he celebrates the man and his myrmidons.” 

What the hell are mymidons? Was it the Lewis’ intention to have me put down his review and open a dictionary to ascertain that a myrmidon is “a faithful follower who obeys orders unquestioningly”? After gaining that knowledge, am I supposed to include myrmidon in my next conversation or blog about Assad or the Ayatollah? 

I’d say it is a certain consistent conceit that infuses the literature of some writers. By the way, The Fish That Ate the Whale sounds like an interesting book. It’s about Samuel Zemurray, his leadership of the United Fruit Company, and how “Sam the Banana Man” affected American foreign policy in Central America as much as any elected official.