Thursday, December 31, 2009

Lester Rodney: He Helped Get Jackie in the Game

Lester Rodney, the sports editor and columnist for the American Communist Party newspaper the Daily Worker who crusaded to end segregation in major league baseball in the 1930s and '40s, has died. He was 98.

Mr. Rodney died Sunday December 20th at his home in a retirement community in Walnut Creek, Calif., said his daughter, Amy Rodney.

Beginning in the decade before Jackie Robinson suited up with the Brooklyn Dodgers and broke baseball's color barrier in 1947, Rodney began pressing for the desegregation of baseball via columns and stories in the Daily Worker's sports pages. By joining with the black press, Rodney was able to implement a plan to get a black player on a major league roster.

He called the ban against blacks in the major leagues "un-American" and "the crime of the big leagues."

During World War II, Mr. Rodney served as an Army combat medic in the Pacific. But he was back home in New York to cover Robinson's debut as a Brooklyn Dodger on April 15, 1947.

"It's hard this Opening Day to write straight baseball and not stop to mention the wonderful fact of Jackie Robinson," Mr. Rodney wrote. "You tell yourself it shouldn't be especially wonderful in America, no more wonderful, for instance, than Negro soldiers being with us on the way overseas through submarine-infested waters in 1943."

Clare, Rodney's wife of 58 years, died in 2004.

Writing for the Daily Worker: “I ran the entire sports department, including laying out the sports section and then I had to get my ass to the ball games, and so on and prove myself as a sportswriter. At first, my main objective was to show that we were a real sports section. Then, the one scoop we had never covered smacked me right in the face. No other papers would talk about the amazing fact that halfway through the 20th century in the land of the free, qualified and over-qualified baseball players couldn’t participate in our national pastime. And it was our national pastime back then much more than it is today. There was no NBA or NFL at the level it’s at today. There were no video games, no Internet, no cable TV. If the Dodgers were playing in Brooklyn and a truck pulled up next to you, it would be unthinkable to not hear Red Barber on the radio or people would find it peculiar. Baseball was huge back then. No other paper said anything about the fact that the black players were locked out of major league baseball. If the Negro leagues had a game in town, you could read about the game, but nothing was ever mentioned that these players were not allowed to play in the majors. Did this mean that all of the sportswriters in New York during this time were racists? No, they were ordinary people, but they knew what they could turn into their paper and if they wrote something saying things like, ‘why aren’t these guys playing in the big leagues?’ their editors would have asked them something like, “why are you bringing this stuff up here?’ That was the culture of the times. Racism was accepted. And that was one of the things that attracted me to the Communists. What the Communists were going down in the South was working for black voting rights, putting their bodies were their mouths were.”

The Ban: “I talk to my granddaughter’s friends and I try to make a connection to what happened back then compared to now. I tell them ‘look at Barry Bonds today’, the superstar (this interview was in 2004 right before the steroids hearing). Supposedly everyone knows how great he is, just the same way that people back then knew how good Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson were, but they weren’t allowed to play. Unspeakable! It’s dastardly and un-American. Ridiculous! But that’s the way things were back then. Josh Gibson, the greatest catcher who ever put on a uniform, never played an inning of big league baseball, and he died in a bitter, drunken wreck. You know, we’ve really gotten off the hook a little light about this time in our history. And so this is what motivated me to write for the Daily Worker. People will ask me, ‘were you doing this to get the Negroes to join the Communist Party?’ No. I was doing it personally because basically I wanted the ban to end. I was a baseball fan since I was six years old it was the game I loved. I wanted the best players in the game to show their stuff to America. I never met a black player who told me he wanted to stay in the Negro Leagues. That’s ridiculous. If you feel you’re the best violinist in the country and you live in Paducah, you don’t want to stay in Paducah. Of course, you want to play at Carnegie Hall, for the money and the acclaim.”

Jackie Robinson: “Oh, the things Jackie had to go through, you can’t imagine. First of all, he was hit by pitchers twice as much as any other player in baseball. He was called all kinds of names. The first time they played in Philadelphia, they threw a black cat out of their dugout. Why didn’t he say, ‘hey, who needs this, to hell with it, I’m outta here.’ Some people are thrust into historic roles without their understanding, but Jackie was an intensely bright guy and he knew exactly what he was doing. He knew what his role was and that’s why he took all this stuff. It has to be the single most heroic act ever performed in the history of sports in this country. I think I can say that. He made a real difference in America.”

The Best Managers He Ever Saw: “Stengel and Durocher are my top managers. They’re the only ones I saw that really know how to manage in the World Series. They wouldn’t hesitate to yank their ace pitcher in the fourth inning or to use an ace in relief. They knew it was a different ball game in the postseason. Charlie Dressen was a good regular season manager, like Dusty Baker, who hasn’t yet shown that he can win a World Series, but managing successfully in the big games defines the great ones.”

Leo Durocher: “I was talking to the Lip. I was chatting with Leo before a game and he suddenly turns to me and says, ‘you know, Rodney—for a #@%!# Communist, you sure know your baseball.”

Don Newcombe: “Newcombe was a corporation guy and he still works for the Dodgers today. But, he knew what what’s going on. His father was a union organizer. He didn’t beat the Yankees often in World Series play and that haunted him. The first time he pitched against the Yankees in his rookie year in ’49, it was a 0-0 game until the bottom of the ninth, when Tommy Heinrich hit one out and beat him.”

McCarthyism: “They didn’t go after me, because I was right out in the open. Many of my friends went down, but I wasn’t a screen writer using another name. As a baseball writer, they didn’t go after me and probably didn’t think of me as a serious Communist. They would kid around it jovially, say things like, ‘hey, does Marx follow the box scores?” Writing about baseball wasn’t perceived as doing politics. They didn’t see me as a threat.”

Joe DiMaggio: “He was a different guy. During his first two years up, before the aura of superstardom socked in on him, he was more convivial. After that, he was very closed-mouthed. You know he never certainly joined in with the rowdies like Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford, but importantly, he was always curt and monosyllabic with reporters and he became mean-spirited. He was known to be a cheap sonofabitch, a notorious note tipper, and at the end he was over-selling his signature, all that stuff. But, I remember a different DiMaggio. During his first year, I was asked to take Joe down to see a bunch of kids from the International Workers Order, a left wing group. But, Joe agreed to show up and throw out the first ball for their tournament. And he enjoyed it and he really mingled with the kids. He was great. So, something happened to him somewhere along the way. He changed.”

Inside Secrets of the Great Monsters

When I was a kid I used to dream about being the Werewolf of Frankenstein. When other children worshipped heroes like Superman of Batman, I admired the scary monsters of Hollywood. I imagined being in their paws or enormous boots, frightening young virgins and terrifying everyone in town. But, later I found all the real facts--the secrets of these cellulite monsters. For instance, the Werewolf had skin problems and had to spend most of his fortune on under eye cream. And Frankenstein was fleeced by his accountants. In the end, he had to sell the posts on either side of his neck on eBay to pay his bill with the IRS. Just another couple of meaningless factoids from Life On the Edge! Have a Great New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

My Shut Your Pie Hole Anti-Diet

As of today, I’ve lost approximately a total of 100 lbs. within a 26-month period, which roughly means a drop of 3.84 lbs. per month. What took me so long, some people have asked me? Losing the weight slowly by gradually changing my diet and lifestyle has helped me keep it off, because now I’m confident that the poundage will stay off forever. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to lose it, because you’re changing your life and in my case, I saved my life. Now maybe I can possibly live into my 70’s or 80’s. How many old people do you see walking around at more than 300 lbs. plus? Not many.

For the first time in 30 years I can wear jeans that aren’t so large that they don’t look like they came from the interior of an old Pontiac. I can sit in the middle of a row at the movie theater, because now if I want to get up I don’t have to worry about stepping on everyone’s feet and sticking my formerly huge ass in their faces during the film.

Back in my obese days, the neighbor kids used to enjoy watching me getting into my 1976 Corvette Sting Ray. I’d have to completely lay down sideways perpendicular to the car while grabbing onto the steering wheel column to hoist myself into the vehicle. It took me five minutes each time and I eventually bent the steering wheel to the point where it required an expensive repair.

My three-decade battle to lose weight consisted of an unending series of false starts and bad endings. When I do the math, I can honestly say that from 1976-2006, I lost an average of 20 lbs. per year, but the problems occurred when I gained approx. 25 lbs. back, like clockwork every year. It’s called yo-yoing and it’s worse for your body than actually keeping the weight on.

My seasons were like this—I’d start off the year with a great push, but I’d lose the weight too quickly. When the weather got cold, around Halloween, I’d start eating like a bear preparing to hibernate. Buffets and happy hours in my town closed down during this time of the year--because of me and a couple of my fellow fatty friends.

So, if I look at the numbers, I can see that in 1976 I weighed roughly 180 lbs. Gaining five-six lbs. per year over 30 years means I gained a total of 150 pounds, to the point where I weighed 340 lbs. So, I know exactly how I got there. Suddenly, the health problems that were predicted became real, including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a wide assortment of other health issues.

Over the years, I attempted several different diets. Actually I think I tried most of them. Many failed immediately while others worked initially, but eventually I gained all of the weight back. I’ve done it all—from the pineapple diet to Atkins all the way to South Beach and back.

From my personal experience, I can tell you that many of these diets are ineffective, while several are actually dangerous. Here is a quick review of some of these:

NutriSystems is a rip-off for many reasons. The main one is the food tastes nasty. In addition, after you’ve purchased a month’s food, you still have to go to the store to buy fruit, vegetables and dairy. They don’t provide complete meals.

If I’m already going to the store, why can’t I buy all of the healthy food I will consume there? It tastes better and costs less overall than what they’re selling me. Some people say that they will lose weight more easily by eating pre-measured controlled portions. If you don’t have enough will power to determine portions on your own, how will you do after you go back to eating normally? Will you live the rest of your life eating out of these little TV dinner trays? The failure rate with NutriSystems is logically high.

Weight Watchers is a little better, but the meal substitutions are still not a great idea. You need to learn new eating habits if you’re going to keep the weight off and this is essentially not the way to do it. The food with Weight Watchers is bland, but at least edible. The meals contain a lot of sugar and fat. And the customer service is terrible. If you do get somebody on the phone, it’s usually someone clueless. Once I asked one of their reps about how much one particular entrĂ©e contained cholesterol and she said, “I just looked at the ingredients listed on the side of the package and there’s no cholesterol in it.”

Both of NutriSystems and Weight Watchers make money by selling you sub-par frozen food. Everything else—like counseling or support—is weak or non-existent. Weight Watchers promotes group counseling, which really wasn’t effective for me. Sitting around with a bunch of overweight people talking about food is an exercise in frustration. One time several of us left a counseling session to go to In ‘N Out. It was more enabling than anything else.

Jenny Craig is the worst of all of these types of diet programs. They’re so hard-sell that if you agree to buy all their food, management tapes and extras, you’ll end up broke. It’s the timeshare program of the diet industry. And once they’ve got you hooked, they’ll try to sell you anything and everything. It’s the ultimate “turn and burn” program and I can’t recommend it even remotely.

I’ve also tried things like Isagenix, Atkins and The Zone. All of these have admirable aspects, but in the end you have to change your life gradually. The diet might give you a good start, but in the end replacing meals is a formula for failure. Losing 60-80 lbs. in 8-10 months will make you look and feel good, right up until you gain every pound back.

Atkins was popular until people realized that meat-heavy diets lead to heart attacks. High-protein diets with lots of red meat and very few carbohydrates are not healthy. Evidence proves that these types of diets will eventually result in atherosclerotic plaque build-up and cardiac arrhythmia.

So, what’s my diet technique? After all my research and hit and miss experiences, I am the ideal guinea pig for how do lose weight right.

So, here it is. I call it the Shut Your Pie Hole Anti-Diet. And it’s simple. The ideal amount of weight to comfortably lose and keep it off is in increments of 10. That’s right, 10 lbs. You slash your calories by cutting out dairy (sorry, no cheese and ice cream), bread and sugar. Then, you limit eating red meat to a maximum of twice per week.

Then, start with physical exercise 5 times per week. Start off walking for 20 minutes twice per day. Do it at your own pace. Soon you will feel better and within no time you’ll be running, biking or whatever you prefer. I like swimming. It’s a gradual thing, but the more energy you get, the more you’ll want to do work our harder. When I started, I couldn’t make it to the corner without panting. The old bag ladies in my neighborhood were racing past me on these insane San Francisco hills, but now I lap them and they don’t like it.

Then, I joined Club One on Fillmore Street in San Francisco. The people there are so supportive and they really inspired me to get into a workout regime that I can stick to. Physical exercise is the key, because if I cheat and eat a chili dog or a few slices of pizza, it's not a tragedy!

Why lose only 10 lbs. at a time? Here is the logic. If you lose 40 lbs., for example, in three months, your body freaks out. It starts asking you what happened. It feels like you’ve starved yourself and soon your body will try to re-gain that weight back any way it can.

If you lose just 10 pounds, your body is not shocked. Lose it and maintain that weight for 5 months. Then, go lose another 10 and do it all again. You can only lose 20 lbs. per year with this system, but you’ll keep it off using this technique.

The problem is that most people want to lose the weight fast, just like everything else. And many folks don’t want to work out on a regular basis. How many of you bought club memberships that you never used? All of us have probably done it.

Regular exercise is the key. If you embrace physical exertion of any type, it will allow you to treat yourself to your favorite foods once in a while. If you feel deprived, you won’t succeed. My theory about food is pick your spots and enjoy a decadent, unhealthy meal as an exception. Just because you’re trying to lose weight doesn’t mean you can’t live it up now and again.

So, that’s my plan in a nutshell. The 10-lb. set point concept makes a lot of sense. It took me a long time to find the right approach to shedding pounds and this is it. The one thing to remember is that it’s a complete lifestyle change. If it takes four years to lose 80 lbs., so be it. You’re not in a rush, because you know you’ll eventually get there. And the best thing is you’ll never gain it back.

Many folks have helped me in my quest, including of course my wife, who implemented a healthier diet and Greg Hubbard at the Haight Ashbury Clinic, who has been so supportive and has given me nothing but great advice.

Make 2010 the year you do it. It will change your life in so many different ways. And living is the best part of it!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Our Dogs of the Holidaze!

Ratdog got into the egg nog and Shelly is telling me what she wants for Christmas! She whined and shed the entire year and Ratdog just stunk and ate everything in sight while licking the floor incessantly. Merry Xmas from Our Dogs of the Holidaze!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I'm HUGE in the St. Petersburg (High School) Times

I received this e-mail today:

"Hello, I edit a newspaper for high school students published by the St. Petersburg Times. We are on deadline for our last issue before winter break and needed a little holiday fun, so I found your site and Ed Attanasio's tips for fledgling santas....below is the little item I have written that excerpts his piece and credits your Web site....To make sure I don't get any lumps of coal I wanted to make sure the excerpt is okay by you and that I am crediting your site correctly.
Thanks for your prompt reply...Gretchen Letterman"

I wrote back to give the school the okay to run my article. I made some dumb remark like "I'd love to run a few of my projects past your father." It was a bad David Letterman joke, but I couldn't resist. Then, I got this e-mail back:

"Ha, Ed!

Thanks much. We ended up having room to use only ONE tip, the hilarious one about dealing with insulting teenagers (our audience, those insulting teenagers). Tomorrow the print link will be up at, go down a bit to print edition on the left side and look on page four. We had photo of a local santa but needed something funny to run with it. I think I googled santa and teenagers and voila, there it was, the perfect item. If you'd like a print copy, send me an address and I'll drop it in the mail.

No one's ever asked me if Dave were my DAD, that's making me laugh. I actually am his younger sister but if you could see the color of my hair, you would not have made that mistake. Fortunately I have a staff of 30 or so high- school age writers who keep me young enough to do this job (I hope).

Thanks again, happy holidays. Gretchen"

After some negoitations, my Santa article will be appear in their school paper. For the excerpt, I will recive six Pee Chee folders, two macaroni & cheese mystery entrees from the school cafeteria, three deflated dodge balls and a lifetime all-access hall pass. I do believe I made out like a bandito!

Now after this incident, I've thought about making St. Petersburg my adopted high school. I did a little research about them and their mascot is called the Green Devil (?!)
What is a Green Devil? Is that like an Evil Al Gore? Why is this demon green? Is he green with envy because the kids at Manatee High School (who beat them in the 5A football playoffs a few weeks ago) have a better mascot called the Hurricanes. I have never understand why teams are named after bad weather! Maybe Manatee knew that their mascot could never be a Manatee, because a Manatee is like a bloated seal and not very threatening.

At least they have a good football program at St. Peterburg High School. They went 10-2, and had a good year right up until they run head first into Manatee.

But, I'll need to clarify the whole Green Devils mascot thing before I get onboard with this school. A goofy mascot could be a deal breaker

The Latest Poo on the Economy!!

In these supposedly post-recession times, I’m looking for any positive economic indicators that I can find. Well, I found a very promising one the other day and I’m enthused. The news is good and we’re on our way out of this slump…finally! And my information is 100% solid.

Let me explain. I was walking my dogs this weekend when one of them dropped a stinky package on the sidewalk. Suddenly I realized that I didn’t have a poo bag with me, which means I’m stuck. I pride myself on being a responsible poo-picking-up dog owner. Many people just leave their mutt’s feces on the ground and walk away and give dog owners in general a bad reputation.

So, what did I do? With no newspapers in sight; no leaves around large enough to work for the job; no litter to use, I was in a desperate moment, so I pulled a dollar bill out of my pocket and used it to pick up the offending deuce.

So, now I’m holding dog crap nestled in a dollar bill. What should I do with it? I decided to place it in the gutter and walked away. That was Saturday and the dollar is still there! Amazing! It’s a good sign. A year ago that dollar would have disappeared in minutes. And today it’s still there!

Move over, Alan Greenspan. I don’t need to study figures and economic forecasts until my face turns green to know that the recession has turned around. I’ve got news from the street and that’s more valuable than any spreadsheet analysis you’ll ever encounter.

Enjoy Christmas and run up your credit card balances, because we’re out of this mess and I was the first to tell you!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Tough Interview

I was looking for a writer's assistant to do research for me and take some dictation. The first few prospectives seemed like decent candidates. And then this clown strolled in. His resume said that his name is "Hitler Bacon". That must have been a very good sign that meant I should abort this interview.

"What are your strengths?" I asked this guy. It's a stupid question and I hate it whenever an interviewer asks this, but I was in shock looking at this individual, so I resorted to this question as default.

And his answer was more bizarre than I anticipated.

"I help people because I am a people person. People like me and I dig them and everyone just gets real warm and fuzzy around me. They feel at ease when I talk to them, because I eminate a sense of confidence."

"What's with the bacon on your head?" I asked.

"This is bacon, yes--but what it represents is the fact that I won't live in a box. I'm an innovative, unique person who doesn't dance to the same band others enjoy."

"This interview is over. Don't call us, we'll call you."

(Thank God there's a thing called pre-employment screening.)

Mrs. Claus Wants Gifts Too!

Here is Mrs. Claus's Wish List for The Big Day:
1.) Beard clipper

2.) Lots of spiked Egg Nog

3.) Reindeer poo picker upper

4.) Sedative to give to over-hyped elves

6.) Easter Bunny Chia Pet

7.) Victoria Secret gift certificate

8.) Ice trays

9.) Vodka

10.) 420 stocking stuffers

11.) New glasses

12.) A Bugatti Veryon

13.) A $6.4 million mansion in Malibu next door to Madonna

14.) A good divorce attorney

Did Santa get caught cheating like Tiger? At least he was probably smart enough to avoid texting!

Happy Christmas!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Grace White: A Standup Who Stood Up!

I've written a lot of things, but this is my first obit. I am proud and flattered to write this about a great person, comedienne and my favorite surfer hippie chick in the world.
Karen Grace White (1950-2009)

Karen Grace White, age 59, of Colfax, California, passed away on December 3, 2009. She died from complications from a two-year bout with lung cancer. She was born on February 11, 1950 in National City, California. One of two children, she was raised in the San Diego area.
Karen Grace White was preceded in death by her father Robert Lee White and her brother Paul White. She is survived by her mother, Velma Kathleen Swafford, age 80, her daughter, Alisa Kathleen Cook-Shaffer, age 30 of Colfax, California, two grandchildren, Brandon Christopher Cook, age 8, and Olivia Julienne Shafer, age 4, both of Colfax, California.
Karen Grace left the San Diego area after graduating from San Diego High School in 1968. She moved to San Francisco in 1969, during the Summer of Love, where she became a member of the Big Top commune with Dennis Peron, a well-known political pro-marijuana activist. In 1974, Karen Grace White left to buy a piece of land in Colfax, California, where she resided up until her death.
Karen Grace was a standup comedienne/show promoter for 13 years and helped so many comediennes defending the rights of female comics in a male-dominated industry. Her Woman Who Kick Comedy Butt shows throughout the country were very well-received and helped careers for comediennes including Beth Schumann, Reannie Roads, Rebecca Arthur, Gayla Johnson, Grace Fraga and Jovelyn Richards. Others that performed in WWKCB shows include Sandy Stec, Tina Allen, Jackie Kashian, Maria Bamford, Kira Soltanovich, Tissa Hammi and many many many more. White promoted the theme that women work hard on stage and are just as funny and cutting-edge as their male counterparts.
As a comic, Karen Grace opened for such musical acts as 3 Doors Down, Starship, Edgar Winter, Leon Russell, and Jethro Tull, as well as comedians Kevin Pollack, Jack Mayberry, Rocky LaPorte and Father Guido Sarducci. Her television credits included appearances on "Good Morning America" and the "Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon," and made her film debut in "The Independent," starring Jerry Stiller and Janeane Garofalo. She also made thousands of fans laugh in Golden Gate Park from the stage of San Francisco's long-running annual "Comedy Day" celebration.
White, who had been given three months to live by doctors in November 2007, defied the odds and launched on a campaign to educate and raise money to fight the deadly disease, through the Bonnie Addario Lung Cancer Foundation. She also started Laugh Prescriptions, writing jokes to cheer up cancer patients--a concept that will hopefully live on for many decades to come.
During her amazing life, Karen Grace worked as a paralegal, house cleaner, waitress, legal secretary and an entrepreneur, as well as a comedienne. In the 1970’s, she owned and operated Cook’s Pastries in Colfax, California and ran a cookie business in the 1960’s.
Karen Grace White’s greatest pride and joy was her daughter Alisa, her son-in-law Chris Shafer and her two grandchildren, Brandon and Olivia. The family was raised with love and was always there for each other. Everyone who met Karen Grace never forgot her—for her incredible energy and a positive attitude that never waned, right up until her final days.
Karen Grace loved surfing and was adept on a long board; she was known as a “hippie chick” and coveted the nickname. Her interests included traveling, great food, art, literature, theater, movies, gardening, music, cooking and her family.
Karen Grace White’s daughter Alisa will be planning a celebration of her mother’s life in the spring in her hometown of Colfax, Californ

Monday, December 07, 2009

Perry Solves the Case...Again

"I didn't do it! I didn't do it, I swear!"
"On the day in question, did you fall on the floor?"

"Well, no...I..."

"Don't stutter, ma'am...tell us the truth and nothing less."

"No, I did not fall!"

A hush came over the court room. The judge exclaimed,

"It's time for lunch."

But, they ignored him.

"Tell us why you didn't fall, Miss Pearles."

"I don't remember, I..."


"I can't recall, I..."


"I...I'll admit it. The floor was made out of high-quality glass tiles. They were not those cheap, low-end tiles, these were top notch, top-tier, head of the heap, premium grade, true craftsmanship like this really..."

"Quiet, Miss. You'll wake the judge."

"Oh, I'll whisper."

"Thank you. We don't want the judge to get in the way of justice. Case dismissed!"

"But, I was guilty as heck and you didn't even try to prosecute me."


Saturday, December 05, 2009

I Meet the Freak

As a rule, I don’t like to bother celebrities when I see them in public, but every once in a while I’ll run into someone and I can’t resist. I’ll always approach them very respectfully, asking them like royalty if it’s okay to spend a moment with them and usually it’s a 50/50 proposition.

I’ve encountered some athletes in the past who were less than a pleasure to meet. Barry Bonds was considerably less than nice, to say the least, and other people like golfer Greg Norman, sports announcer Jim Rome, HOF pitcher Goose Gossage and of course, Willie Mays (who I tried to interview in 1999) were legendarily rude and fulfilled stereotypes about pro athletes acting boorish.

But, when I ran into double-Cy Young award winner San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum the other day at a Starbucks in the Fillmore of The City, it was a thrill and a refreshing chance encounter with a smart, engaging individual pausing to talk to an avid fan. (Even though I am Dodgers die hard for 40 years).

I approached Lincecum and told him that I was pro-420 and he instantly replied in muted tones. But what he said was off the record, so I can’t say anything more. (If you didn’t already know, he got busted for having a small amount of marijuana a few weeks back.)

While I was chatting up The Freak (one of Lincecum’s nicknames) and bombarding him with questions in rapid succession, I just got the feeling that Tim plays baseball just like he’d ride his skateboard or bicycle. Here I was, a supposed grown man drooling to talk to him and the impression he gave me was “it’s no big deal.” I even sensed a little sympathy from him for a middle-aged guy enthralled by a kid who can throw in high 90’s and make all-star hitters look like little leaguers.

My overall impression is that Lincecum sees himself as basically someone who just got really good at throwing a ball, but somebody who’s not even 100% onboard with the lore and wow surrounding major league baseball. When a 51-year-old male walks up to Tim and starts treating him like the Pope, Lincecum is amused, but no longer surprised anymore. Two Cy Youngs will do that.

I asked him if he gets noticed in public more all the time, especially now after the two Cy Youngs. “It’s so random. I’ll be at places where I’d think I’d be noticed and no one knows who I am. Other times I’ll be walking down the street and people will come out of their homes to talk to me, which is strange. But, it’s all cool.”

In one word, Tim is just cool. Wearing a wrinkled t-shirt, flip flops and shorts, sending texts on his iPhone and drinking one of those caramel, whip cream covered coffee things. (I call those concoctions “dessert camouflaged as coffee.”)

I did tell The Franchise (another one of his nicknames) that he only has to win three more Cy Youngs in a row to set the record. “Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson won it four times in a row,” I said. “So that’s the benchmark, I guess.” “Cool,” Lincecum offered.

Then I decided to show off and run some other baseball factoids by him. “Koufax, Palmer, Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens have all also won the Cy Young back-to-back like you,” I offered. “Nice,” he said. (Later I looked it up and I was correct, although I did miss Denny McClain, who won it in 1968 and again in 1969, a co-owner with Mike Cuellar from Baltimore—the only time there have been two co-winners.)
In summary, Lincecum was so open and forthcoming that is was a breath of fresh air. I sure hope he keeps that great attitude over the years, but it might be tough if he wins a couple more Cy Young awards.

In the end, I gave Tim (we’re on a first-name basis all ready) an official baseball hat from, my baseball history web site. He didn’t don the cap when I presented it to him, probably because he didn’t want to mess up the do, but hopefully in the future I’ll see him wearing that hat out in public. He’s that type of kid.

Friday, December 04, 2009

My Post Stroke Mind

The Rolodex in my head gets mucked up once in a while and I scramble things like names, for instance. I was asked to write about Toto sinks, the best sinks in the industry by a large margin, from what I've read and heard. But in my brain, the first things that entered my conscious were the dog Toto (Wizard of Oz) and the band Toto. Instead of sinks, I'm thinking about a little mutt and a pop band. Life sucks initially and gradually gets worse. That's my new mantra.

Thursday, December 03, 2009