Welcome to another year of MLB Closed Captioning, beginning with Jason Benetti calling it: “Oh, yeah! Jose Abreu!”

And thank God for it.

And so it begins.

#WhiteSox

The Sox color guy is trying too damn hard to pronounce the Spanish names during today’s broadcast. It’s distracting and annoying (and reminds me of this old SNL skit). Kasper’s presence just can’t make up for that.

Had to turn it off. Couldn’t take it anymore.

I really miss Benetti and Stoney right now.

If, somehow, you’ve wandered to this site for the first time today, welcome.

I write largely about random things that often cover one of three topics (in alphabetical order): baseball (though not really in depth), faith, and weight loss.

Nice seeing you.

This makes me so unbelievably happy.

Why do I post and tweet more lately on social media about baseball than about church stuff?

It dawned on me: I want to post about things that make me happy.

Baseball these days makes me happy. Church stuff, with all the Catholic infighting and anger and holier-than-thou crap, does not.

The White Sox on TV!

Real, live baseball!

Real, live fans in the stands!

And as Jason Benetti introduced him, real, live “Steve Stone in a box”!

Life is good.

Silliness and ellipses (possibly first in a series)

In memory of Larry King and his late, lamented weekly newspaper column of random thoughts, boldfaced celebrities, and sometimes ridiculous nonsequiturs, I’m directing my stream of consciousness here and spitting a bunch of ellipses into it. Maybe it’ll be a regular thing, maybe not.

“It Is Well With My Soul” is one of my favorite hymns. I wish Catholic churches worked it into Masses. … The Anglican tradition is so superior to modern Catholic worship practice when it comes to hymnody. … Cardinal Cupich and Bp. Barron had excellent homilies today. … Can the rad-trad crowd please stop picking on Pope Francis?

Took my first Advil (or, in this case, an Advil Dual Action pill with ibuprofen and acetaminophen in it) in almost a week. Trying to avoid taking ibuprofen because I suspect it helps spike my blood pressure. … Trying to think of ways to have an avocado a day. … The keto crowd appears to have all the avocado recipes I could want. But it feels like a cult, and it annoys me. … What’s the Dalai Lama up to these days? … That old Fitbit I dredged up is working, but it doesn’t hold a charge for more than a day. I may need to get a new one.

The Tabernacle Choir has become part of my Sundays. Their weekly “Music and the Spoken Word” program gives me background music and a fine nonsectarian message while I write. … The Temple Square organ concerts are great, too. … I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the Mormons, even though they won’t call themselves “Mormons” anymore. … Gladys Knight, Steve Young, and Ken Jennings are my favorite Mormons. Oh, and that “Napoleon Dynamite” guy.

I’m obsessed with my Vitamin D, potassium, and magnesium levels. I use supplements to help my Vitamin D and magnesium needs, but apparently potassium supplements need to be used with caution. … Since the king of all potassium-rich foods, the banana, is a nonstarter in my new low-carb life, I’m looking at new sources of potassium. Best bets for me: spinach, yogurt, kefir, and avocados. … I kind of miss Herb Caen.

Speaking of San Francisco, I disagree with Kamala Harris on a bunch of things, but I truly like her. … Deleted my fourth “Doomscrolling” list from Twitter this weekend. … Wonder how long the PTSD will last after 4 years of the last administration. … It’s nice to have a regular churchgoer in the White House again. … Fran Lebowitz is my spirit animal.

I suppose I should be watching the NFC and AFC championship games. I’m not. … Not as much of a Blackhawks fan since they fired Joel Quenneville. … Last I checked, no one had nailed down a date when White Sox pitchers and catchers report. Anybody know? … Good lord, the keto cult annoys me. … I need to send Philip Rivers a thank-you note now that he’s retired.

Sadly, There’s no archive of King’s old “King’s Things” column. Jim Caple at ESPN created a long-ago tribute to it that refreshed my memories of those bizarre clusters of brain nuggets.

I’ve become way too enamored of “The Big Bang Theory” in recent weeks. I never saw it during its network run; now I watch clip collections on YouTube and reruns on cable.

It’s light viewing, and it’s become YouTube comfort media in the same way Colbert clips, Conan interviews, and John Mulaney monologues are. Old baseball games do the same for me on the DVR. All of it makes for a fine antidote to the doomscrolling habit I’ve found hard to break.

Reclining at Advent

Advent begins today. I could be in a reflective and meditative mode, setting up our wreath and candles for the season.

Instead, I’m relaxing under a fleece throw, watching random episodes of Ken Burns’ “Baseball,” on my early Christmas gift: an enormous cuddly recliner that I’ve been wanting for years. This is the kind of comfort I have craved for a long time.

I could be holier at this moment. But as this terrible 2020 begins to wind down, my gut tells me I really need this kind of extended hug before I start this new liturgical year.

Chick fil A breakfast. Errands. Baked mini muffins with F. Viewed a few YouTube links from my sister.

Now streaming two archived games from August 21 – Houston-San Diego and White Sox-Cubs – and waiting for my Advil/Tylenol cocktail to kick in. Gonna start assembling split pea soup and baking bread in an hour.

Not an exciting day. But a day of rest I kind of needed.

Just threw 25 bucks at MLB.TV for video archive access to the past season. Self-soothing on this mental health day off by bingeing Padres and White Sox broadcasts.

Baseball always helps when the state of the nation leaves one anxious.

How MLB.com’s closed captioning reads “2-nothing Sox!”

I watch White Sox games regularly, and I was still startled when Jason Benetti casually used the word “legerdemain” in the second inning this evening.

Weekend routine (mid-pandemic edition)

My weekends have fallen into a routine that is neither perfect nor exciting, but it’s comfortable. Much of my off time ends up in the home office, where my personal laptop actually fits into the same dock I use for the work laptop.

It’s probably not a great idea to spend my relaxation time in the same place where I slog through work. But the home office is still my personal space, with a futon sofa and most of my books and arts/crafts materials stashed there. The dogs love the space. Frannie comes in with her gaming and talks Animal Crossing and Pokemon strategy. And I can stream Korean baseball and other video on the big screens. It’s become my happy place, and it helps make work tolerable on rough weekdays.

A typical weekend goes something like this.

Saturday morning: Having biscuits and other breakfast food that C brings home from Chick-fil-A. Then listening multiple times to “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” and maybe other NPR programs either on terrestrial radio or, more likely, the TuneIn Radio app.

Saturday afternoon

** Catching up on Korean baseball, usually with Jason Benetti doing play-by-play, off the ESPN site. I don’t really keep up with the KBO at a detailed level, but I like how the games and the baseball chatter keep me pleasant company while I read or write. Like right now, as I write this. Even when MLB starts up again, I like the idea of having these games on whenever I like.
** Surrounding myself with books, which I may or may not read at length.
** Streaming other video. Sometimes Twitch feeds of Anthony Bourdain shows, Animal Crossing play, or even Bob Ross programs. Other times, YouTube with Catholic videos, Stephen Colbert reruns, or Animal Planet shows; I’ve become fond of “The Vet Life” lately.
** Writing email, snail mail, and/or blog posts. Maybe posting to Facebook (which I’ve done more – weekends only – than I have in a long time, which still isn’t a whole lot).
** Lying down to relax the chronic pain in my lower back (and shoulders and neck).
** Sifting through the piles of printouts and books in the office and bedroom, and filling up the recycling bin.
** Sometimes heading to our parish for confession and 5 p.m. vigil Mass.

Saturday evenings: Dinner, maybe a round of Cards Against Humanity (Family Edition), or maybe a fire with s’mores in the backyard.

Sunday morning: Attending early Mass (if I haven’t gone to the Saturday vigil Mass), then reading/praying through the “Celebration of the Word” liturgy with F when I get home. (F eventually will accompany me to Mass, but not right now.) After that, breakfast – either pancakes at home or hitting a local diner, with the Sunday papers in tow.

Sunday afternoon: Either a Sunday drive for all of us, or a jaunt through a forest preserve for F and C and the big dog while I stay home to relax my back. (See Saturday afternoon activities.)

Sunday evenings: Same as Saturday evenings, plus possibly some catching up with editing work after everyone else goes to bed.

It’s not thrilling or exotic, to be sure, but it works for me. And it’s not like we’re going anywhere this summer, so this is probably my weekend blueprint for a while.

I love that now that I’m following a Korean YouTube feed for baseball, I’m getting a ton of Korean suggestions on my YouTube home page. (And no, I’m neither Korean nor understand Korean. But maybe I should learn the language. Ballgames seem more fun in Korean.)

Yes, we’re all in this together, we’re all hunkering down, we’re all facing down challenges but we’ll pull through. Whatever.

I don’t need more ads endlessly reminding me. Just let me watch my Korean baseball and old Bulls games in peace, Corporate America.

Tony Gwynn would have turned 60 years old today. Tim Kurkjian of ESPN writes about the Hall of Fame slugger’s artistry with the bat.

(I also recall my brief brush with his greatness two decades ago.)

Got the replay of the KBO opening day matchup (NC vs Samsung) on the ESPN app while I fight off some nausea on pain meds at the work station. Korean baseball is totally propping me up right now.

It’s official: ESPN will broadcast Korean baseball games starting at 1 a.m. ET Tuesday!

Time to figure out who to root for. Best primer I’ve found is on the Athletic site, but it’s subscription only.

Unexpected brush with greatness, c. 1998

A friend on Facebook shared a story where he and a mutual friend of ours ran into Willie Mays at a ballpark. He used the anecdote to solicit stories of “unexpected brushes with greatness.” Here’s what I shared.

I was walking down Michigan Avenue with my sister and a friend visiting from San Diego; I think this was in 1998. My sister nudged me and looked over her shoulder.

“I think that’s Tony Gwynn!” she said. I thought she was nuts, but then I remembered that the Padres were in town. I looked behind us and the first thing I noticed was That Laugh – that unmistakable gurgling laugh of his – and then saw him lingering in front of the Nike store, talking to an older guy that I suspect was the Padres’ hitting coach at the time, Merv Rettenmund.

My sister, her friend, and I kept nudging each other to go talk to him, and I finally caved and ran back. Gwynn sighed and didn’t seem thrilled to be recognized, but I still babbled at him about how I was a big fan, that I grew up in Chula Vista but moved to Chicago a couple of years before – to which he replied, “What the hell did you do that for?”

He agreed to sign a copy of a newspaper I had because I didn’t have anything else for him to sign, and this was well before the days of cellphone cameras. And then he went on his way. It was a fleeting surreal moment to run into a hometown hero well out of context of my actual hometown.

Watching the tail end of Mark Buehrle’s 2009 perfect game, now on YouTube, just in time for Dewayne Wise’s spectacular game-saving catch in the top of the 9th.