Author: David Mitchner

Dave loves sports, and is a seminary dropout. He discusses sports and religion all the time. He's also collected autographs since the early '90s when he wrote to a couple of baseball players. He loves Historical Fencing, Mixed Martial Arts, and trying to do his best rendition of effigies possible.
Cubs Baseball: The American Institution

Cubs Baseball: The American Institution

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Cubs Baseball and My History

WGN broadcast Cubs Baseball. This much is certain. WGN also worked a negotiation to be on every cable package across America. That negotiation lead to a young Kentucky kid growing up to be a life-long Chicago Cubs fan. Baseball is one of those things that I love. In fact, behind my family, I would argue that baseball is the thing I love most in life. I love playing the game, I love watching the game. There’s nothing about baseball that I dislike, except how it ends in October. Former Commissioner of Baseball, A. Bartlett Giamatti once wrote:

“It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall all alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.”

A Facebook friend posted that quote earlier, and it set my mind into a whorl about how I feel about what I refer to as the Holy Game on a regular basis.

My response

Over the dormancy, the roots gather strength, and it emerges again in the fair distant warm places in the spring, gathering it’s strength from the very heart and soul of America herself. Continue to be like an amazing perennial bush that blossoms and bears it’s fruit all summer long. The scent lingers, causing you to hunger for more, and during the dark cold nights, you know that soon, as the days begin to grow longer again, the holy game will return. You remember the stories you heard at your grandfather’s knee, of the greats like Paige and Foxx, Doerr or Williams. Of the heartbreak of the Red Sox that so many take enjoyment from.

The game of Doubleday… the double play tandem of Tinkers, Evers and Chance. The game of Ruth, Mays, Aaron, Banks, and Mantle. The game played in the sandlots and the game played in mammoth cathedrals. The game that truly has become a representation of what the dream of America is. This truly American institution. This wonderful and amazing game called, Baseball. And while the gates at 1060 West Addison have shuttered for the final time in 2017 for Cubs Baseball. The ever present spark still burns, lingering as an ember in the hearts of the Cubs Nation, that Next Season is right around the corner.

 

The James Earl Jones Monologue from Field of Dreams

One of my inspirations is Field of Dreams. Specifically, the James Earl Jones monologue truly speaks to me.  In case you’ve never seen it,

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Hard changes – Diet, Exercise, Fitness Week 1 Day 4 Thoughts.

Hard changes – Diet, Exercise, Fitness Week 1 Day 4 Thoughts.

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Sept 27, 2017. 250 pounds on a 5'9" frame.
Sept 27, 2017. 250 pounds on a 5’9″ frame.

The hard changes for working towards a better physical life have been made. I’m trying to move forward and not be this shell of an obese person anymore. It’s going to take persistence, and effort on my part… and I’m 100% okay with that. I had a spark, I knew something needed to change, so I’m doing it. The below started as a Facebook post where one of my fencing instructors made a statement that kinda wowed me. If you’re into it, and wanna make the change, understand that it’s gonna feel impossible, but you’re worth it. To somebody.

“Most people cannot do what you’re doing right now, my man.” – Tora Taka – regarding my new fitness routine.

This galled at me over night, because I’m not special. I’m just a guy who has gotten fed up with the circumstances regarding his current weight, and as such, I made the conscious decision to make the changes necessary to stop being the me whose image I hate when I peer into the mirror.

Yeah, it’s stupid hard.

Yes, it is hard. It’s hard to wake up a little earlier, because, trust me, I’d rather sleep an extra half-hour to an hour. It’s hard to go to bed a little earlier to accommodate. Because I’d rather watch a night baseball game. It’s hard to limit my intake on portions – because I have the inability to feel full and have a constant voracious hunger (THANKS SIDE EFFECTS). It’s hard to make the decision to start the run, or hit play on the HIIT workouts. It’s hard to make the decision to not quit midrun because my lungs are burning, and my heart is protesting that I’m not sitting on a couch.

All this is hard, but it’s hard because it’s contra to what I’ve allowed myself to be accustomed to. As a society, we’ve allowed ourselves to be glutenous. We’ve reached a point where most of us ride a desk when it comes to our jobs. And we’ve reached a point where convenience gives us food that is neither healthy nor truly satisfying deep down.

But y’know, I feel better already, just a week in. Just moving because I can makes me feel better. At the risk of channeling Nike a bit too hard, if I ‘Just Do It’ I feel better all day.

Nike swoosh says just do it.
Nike brand. Obviously their Trademark. I feel that it is used here within the fair use doctrine.

Channel JFK

But all this seems to confirm Tora’s point. That most people can’t do it. They can’t break free of the chains that keeps them with bad nutrition or bad exercise habits. As a society, we have become lazy. I am sure that there are many aspects behind it. I can’t give any reasons why this would be. With hard work, it is possible to move outside this routine. It won’t be easy, far from it. However, we, as Americans, are the people of Jack Kennedy. As Kennedy said in the “Address at Rice University on the Nation’s Space Effort” delivered on September 12, 1962:

“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.”

You can succeed at physical fitness and having a healthier life. Just change “we go to the Moon” to “I will make myself healthier” and then realize it is going to be hard. And it is going measure the very best of you. If you’re willing to take the plunge, come on friends, lets do it.

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Robert McGregor – A Calculus of Color – Book Review

Robert McGregor – A Calculus of Color – Book Review

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Calculus of Color Book Cover
McGregor takes us on a solid journey from race baseball to an integrated game.

Robert Kuhn McGregor is a emeritus professor of history from the University of Illinois-Springfield. He taught among other things, a course on baseball. Using that career’s worth of knowledge, McGregor takes swing at the history behind the integration of the American League. Lesser known than the Jackie Robinson story, it is a story of courage that needed told before it was forgotten. Thus, A Calculus of Color came to be. McGregor begins his book with a brief introduction of the Negro Leagues. He finishes with the integration of the last team to do so, the Boston Red Sox. In taking this monster swing, McGregor hit a grand slam.

Negro League Ball

McGregor begins his book introducing the reader to the Negro Leagues. Despite varied successes throughout history, the leagues did not go forward until Rube Foster took the helm. At that point, the Negro National League grew to have some success. The barnstorming activity of the men (and women) of this league honed the skills of such players as Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Satchel Paige. It is from this league that Bill Veeck signed a young Larry Doby to become the first black player in the American League.

Integration Across the League

The breaking of the long-standing “gentlemen’s agreement” took years, especially in the junior circuit. While Doby broke the color barrier in 1947, it would be 12 years before Pumpsie Green made his début for the Red Sox, completing the integration of the MLB. McGregor’s book takes the reader on a trip describing and discussing each team’s decision to hire its first black player.

Recommendation of McGregor’s Book

I enjoyed the book, a lot. Any fan of baseball, or the history of America’s Pastime should find themselves lost in these pages describing the journey from racially based leagues to a major league system where the best players wind up on a roster regardless of the color of their skin. I rate this book 10/10, and highly recommend its purchase.

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Chapter 1 of the Devil’s Deal

Chapter 1 of the Devil’s Deal

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Greetings friends, I’m taking the plunge and working on my first book, which I hope to publish via Amazon by the end of the year. But to get your taste buds wet, I’ve decided to publish Chapter 1 of The Devil’s Deal here as a taste. Keep your eyes open for the novel just in time for your holiday shopping needs.

The Devil’s Deal is a journey into the Old West where men and women did what they had to do to scratch out a living. Everyone has a story, and for Jack, it’s a long twisted tale that landed him at the crossroads after a bad night at the poker table.

I hope you enjoy it.

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384 – 1987 Topps – Johnny Grubb

384 – 1987 Topps – Johnny Grubb

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The San Diego Padres drafted Johnny Grubb in the first round of the 1971 free-agent draft, with the 23rd over-all pick. Grubb played his college baseball for Florida State University. Previously, he played prep baseball for Meadowbrook High School in Richmond, Virigina. His major league début came as a September call-up on September 10, 1972. He went 1 for 2 with a walk and a single, as the Padres beat the Atlanta Braves one to nothing at San Diego Stadium.

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1987 Topps – Mike Davis

1987 Topps – Mike Davis

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The Oakland Athletics drafted Mike Davis in the third round of the 1977 free-agent draft, with the 69th over-all pick. Davis played his college baseball for San Diego Mesa Junior College. Previously, he played prep baseball for Herbert Hoover High School in San Diego, California. His major league début came on April 10, 1980, pinch-hitting in the ninth for Tony Armas. He continued in the game into extra innings at right field for the As, against the visiting Minnesota Twins at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. He ground out to Doug Corbett in his first at-bat, and again struck out in the eleventh .

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762 – 1987 Topps – Gary Ward

762 – 1987 Topps – Gary Ward

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The Minnesota Twins signed Gary Ward as an undrafted free-agent on August 29, 1972. Ward played his prep baseball at Compton High School in Compton California. He did not play college baseball. His major league début came on September 3, 1979, entering the game late as a pinch runner for Mike Cubbage. He stayed in the game playing right field in place of Hosken Powell. The Minnesota Twins wound up losing the game to the visiting Kansas City Royals at Metropolitan Stadium.

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Let the Bartman Incident Go. Cubs Fans. Let it Go

Let the Bartman Incident Go. Cubs Fans. Let it Go

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Any true blue Cubs fan can remember the 2003 NLCS. The one where the game turned in a blink of an eye when a fan made a play for a ball that was near the stands, or potentially in the stands. A day when the ire of the entire Cubs nation fell upon one lifelong Cubs fan who merely made a mistake. Steve Bartman did exactly what 99% of fans would have done in that situation. In fact, in the photo, there appears to be other fans making a play for the same foul ball. However, one incident, even for a long-suffering fan base such as the Chicago Cubs, should not cause a game to turn the way it did.

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428 – 1987 Topps – Bruce Bochy

428 – 1987 Topps – Bruce Bochy

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The Chicago White Sox drafted Bruce Bochy in the eighth round of the 1975 free-agent draft. He did not sign with the White Sox. The Houston Astros selected him with the 23rd overall pick of the secondary phase of the 1975 draft. Bochy played his college baseball for Brevard Community College. Previously, he played prep baseball for Melbourne High School in Melbourne, Florida. His major league debut came on July 19, 1978, catching the entire game for the Astros, while visiting the New York Mets at Shea Stadium. He went 2 for 3 in his debut games, and caught Lee Mazzilli stealing. His battery mate for the entire game was Mark Lemongello.

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391 – 1987 Topps – Jay Howell

391 – 1987 Topps – Jay Howell

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The Cincinnati Reds drafted Jay Howell in the twelfth round of the 1973 free-agent draft. He did not sign, and the Reds selected him in the thirty-first round of the 1976 draft. Howell played his college baseball for the University of Colorado. Previously, he played prep baseball for Fairview High School in Boulder, Colorado. His major league début came on August 10, 1980, pitching the ninth inning in relief of Paul Moskau. He gave up no hits and no runs in his début, hitting Steve Garvey as his only base runner, as the Reds lost to the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers at Riverfront Stadium.

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