Archive for the schmaltzy Category

I Caught a Ball, I Caught a Ball, I Finally Caught a Freakin’ Ball

Posted in Astros, baseball, schmaltzy on 16 June 07 by mikevc

I am so excited about this.  Tonight I went to the ‘Stros game against the Mariners.  During batting practice, I caught a ball hit into the stands.  I will grant that this is not as impressive as a ball during the game.  And it was while the Mariners–not the Astros–were taking BP.  But, I have been trying since I was eight to catch a ball hit by a major leaguer.  And, I want to stress here that I caught it; it was not hit then bounced around and I got it; I caught it.  I felt like a kid again.   Unfortunately I don’t know who it was who hit it–I would like to think it was Ichiro; the hitter was a leftie–since they were all in their warm-up jerseys.

I know this may not seem significant but I have been trying since I was eight to catch a ball in a MLB ballpark.   I remember going to the Astrodome for a game when I was nine or ten.  We were getting there early to see BP and try to get a ball.  I told my dad that I was sure we would get a ball tonight.  He told me not to get my hopes up but he was sure we would get one some day.  And, I don’t mean to veer toward the schmaltzy here or give this some significance it doesn’t have…but it isn’t lost on me that I finally caught a MLB ball on Father’s Day weekend.

Oh yeah, the game was fantastic.  Biggio hit a home run for his 2889th hit (only 11 to go to the magical 3000) and they won their second game in a row against a strong Seattle team.

In-Law Jokes Just Don’t Apply

Posted in family, schmaltzy on 6 June 07 by mikevc

So, I have to say that I have fantastic in-laws. This past weekend the entire branch of the Houston VCs flew to Virginia. The entire weekend was built around allowing me to go to the Graves Mountain Bluegrass Festival, which they gave me a ticket to a few months back. It was hands down the most fun I have had in a long time. The music was amazing and–though different–it reminded me of the sheer joy I used to feel at attending a really great show but magnified from three hours to three days. Also, I was able to bring J and Smollett during the days and they had a blast dancing, swimming, and eating. So, a big, big thank you to my in-laws.

Then, I come back to Texas while the remaining Houston VCs stay in Virginia until I return at the end of the month for a conference. (More on that later). I check my e-mail and discover that my father-in-law has gotten tickets for a Baltimore Orioles game for the end of the month. Not just any tickets, but field level a few rows up from first base. Never in my life have I had such great seats for a MLB game. I am so excited.

Aside from what they have done for me or given me (and I haven’t even mentioned the trip to Florence, the Bose, or the autographed Jimmy Carter Nobel Prize speech), they are just fantastically decent and selfless people and have raised two daughters who reflect goodness and honesty more than any people I have ever met. I am a very lucky guy to be married to one of those daughters and T. and Smollett are lucky to have her for a mom and her parents for grandparents.

Important Note: My mom is awesome too and I count the boys quite lucky to have her for a grandmother. This is definitely true considering the challenges she faced–not the least of which are her stubborn, moody, and temperamental offspring (and I count myself at the top of this list).

As I Age (34 or…)

Posted in banjos, baseball, birding, schmaltzy on 19 April 07 by mikevc

This past week has brought home to me the things that I really enjoy. I–of course–love my kids to no end; I am talking here about hobbies. Arriving a trifle early for a conference in San Antonio I hit a park to do some birding. I have not been birding in almost a year. I forgot how much I enjoy it. I even saw a Golden-Cheeked Warbler. My great regret is that neither my wife or my boys share my passion for birding. In fact, the only person who seems to dig it as much as I do is my brother (or at least he humors me) and he is in the UK. I remember fondly a trip we all took to visit my Ma and Sis in CA and he and I spent the whole trip birding. Oh well, I will see him and the whole family this August as we return to the west coast.

The second thing that reminded me of the things I love was a delivery. I got a banjo in the mail after having been without one for well over a year. I had sold my last banjo to concentrate on mandolin. What was I thinking? There is nothing I have found that produces sheer joy–for me–more than picking a banjo. In my youth I aspired to be a rock star. As fun as that was, I never enjoyed the instrument I played as much as I enjoy playing the banjo. As my wife commented when I got my first one, it is eerie how natural I looked and felt with the banjo around my neck.

So, all of this to lead to the observation that I will fit in quite well when I hit 60+ and find myself in a retirement community sitting on the porch picking my banjo w/ my binos by my side ready to site that elusive species that never made it on my long lifelist. My wife refers to my interests as the b’s: birding, banjos (or bluegrass), books, and baseball (she often adds boring). One thing that I love about my late 20s and now my 30s is the unapologetic embrace of things that interest me without any concern w/ what is “cool”.  Though I claimed to go through my teens and 20s w/ no concern for–and a shunning of all things defines as–“cool”, I was very much concerned with a type of “cool” independent of the mainstream but a “coolness” nonetheless (ENOUGH W/ THE QUOTATION MARKS).   Now, in full embrace of my sheer geekiness, I realize the importance of everyone defining for themselves what is and is not (one more set) “cool”.

Home is where?

Posted in schmaltzy on 19 April 07 by mikevc

I went to a library conference this past week in San Antonio. On the way back, I drove through some of the back roads in the hill country near Austin. I can’t explain it but whenever I am in that part of Texas I feel like it is somehow where I belong. Without sounding new ageish or anything, I just feel at home or at ease or something. (Quite the writer, eh?) Whenever anyone asks me what my hometown is, I persist in saying Austin even though I only got there when I was 15 and only lived there a total of seven or eight years. It just feels like home. I hope to retire to the Hill Country some day.
Not that there is anything (too) wrong with Houston. I love my job and feel lucky to do what I do and–of course–there are the Astros, but every so often, I get that Austin urge. For now, I have a cool picture in my office of the 360 bridge, which–in my extremely fit years–I used to bike across on morning and late night bike rides up and down Capital of Texas, to remind me of all things Austin.

Just Around the Corner

Posted in baseball, schmaltzy on 27 February 07 by mikevc

I can’t wait.  Spring training games start in under two days and opening day at Minute Maid (for which I have a ticket this year) is a short 33 days away.  I don’t know when or where it happened, but somewhere I developedfrom a teenager who knew everything and abhorred sports for its false competitive nature to a raving basketball fan who shunned baseball as the most boring of all sports to–finally–an obsessed fan of the greatest game: a return to my 8 year old self who was a die-hard Phillies fan in 1980 when they went up against my new town’s team in the NLCS. 

I now feel the same way I did then.  My allegiances have gradually shifted to the team the Phillies beat out to go to the World Series and my obsession has broadened to include minor league and college ball.  In fact, though infinitely corny, I cannot describe the joy I felt upon entering Minute Maid Park for the first time in 2007  a couple of weeks ago to watch the 2007 Houston College Classic.  And this was to watch a game between Texas A&M and ASU, two teams I could care less about.  But, it all pointed to a return to baseball and the knowledge that I would be watching the Rice Owls on the next two days. 

And so, in my 34th year, I have become one of those people who will bore you to death singing the praises of a sport–merely a sport.  But, if you think me a bit crazy, I invite you to come out to a game with me, grab a scoresheet, and follow every pitch.  I think/hope you will feel it too. 

IF you think this is over-the-top, wait until I write some posts on bluegrass or birding.