On a Beach Walk: #70 (Baseball – Ballparks)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Today I think about the palaces of the fans known as ballparks to some – baseball stadiums to others.

Ballparks are those places creating a special feeling when hearing the wooden bat hit the ball followed by the roar of a cheering crowd rising to their feet – a bonding moment not only between people and the game, but also between people.

Ballparks are the cathedrals of baseball where people gather to worship with faith and allegiance for their team and yell praise to their cleated heroes. Ballparks are a place where memories are made to be told to the next generation.

I think of places before my time: Cincinnati’s Palace of the Fans, Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, Philadelphia’s Baker Bowl, Cleveland’s League Park, and Washington’s Griffith Stadium.

Many may not remember Los Angeles having a Wrigley Field. Not only the first and one-year home of the Los Angeles Angels, but also the location to television’s Home Run Derby.

There are the classic stadiums of my youth – Forbes Field (Pittsburgh), Connie Mack Stadium (Philadelphia) – previously known as Shibe Park – Sportsman’s Park (St. Louis), Polo Grounds (New York), cavernous Municipal Stadium (Cleveland), Crosley Field (Cincinnati), and others.

All places with their own quirks – yet, places of lore – but these are now gone. Places that may or may not have a sign or plaque commemorating its existence. Places that may be a playground, an apartment complex, a shopping area, a group of office buildings, or something for industry.

Let us not forget Boston’s Braves Field for much of it still stands. Not for baseball, but as a football field for Boston University – today known as Nickerson Field. An old ticket booth remains as a tribute to its past. One can sit in the stands imagining Spahn and Sain, then praying for rain – or slugger Eddie Mathews and other greats who played on this field.

A few teams played in temporary facilities as they waited for their new home – Houston’s mosquito-infested Colt 45 Stadium, Montreal’s quaint Jarry Park, and the Dodgers playing is a make-shift for baseball layout of massive LA Coliseum, which included a temporary high left field fence that made Moon Shots famous.

These ballparks gave way to the circular masses of concrete and steel known as multi-purposes stadiums that hosted baseball and football. Fortunately, most of them had shorter life spans than their predecessors. Not only is Atlanta’s multi-purpose stadium gone, so is it’s replacement.

The current generation of ballparks try to emulate the feel of those ballparks of long ago, but with modern conveniences and design. Yes, New York’s Yankee Stadium still exists, but it is not The House that Ruth Built – yet the city and franchise honors the original location.

For fans of baseball history, fortunately Boston’s Fenway Park and Chicago’s Wrigley Field stand of iconic tributes to the past. One has to wonder how long they will last – but for now, there is no end in sight … and for some of us, that’s a good thing.

No matter if in the old, new, or bygone, ballparks are places where vivid memories are made to be recalled – places where one can close their eyes and recall a past moment – a past hero – a past place as Ebbets or Crosley that stand no more, yet occupies a special place in the minds and hearts of their fans.

Ballparks are a special place – but so are beaches because walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: #69 (Baseball – The Season)

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(Part 2 of 3)

I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Every mid-February while many are in the midst of winter’s firm grip, the time as come for pitchers and catchers to report for Spring Training.

February-March is the time of the year when baseball hearts emerge from the cold ground as those initial shoots of daffodils. A time when interest and hope are in the air as our Boys of Summer prepare for the annual Rite of Spring.

To baseball fans, spring is a time of hope, resurrection, and anticipation – a time for believing this is the year. To some, that hope may be dashed by mid-May, but hearts remain loyal to their team. There’s always next year! Even while languishing in the cellar, hearts still rejoice with each win – and feels low with each loss.

Baseball is a game played by fan favorites – the icons and legends. Lovers of the game can feel the presence of Ruth, Cobb, Gehrig, Hornsby, and Musial while cherishing the Big Train, the Iron Horse, Wee Willie, Double X, and many more. Unfortunately, most if us knew very little about Satch, Josh, and Cool Papa.

Baseball fans know their childhood heroes as Charlies Hustle, Yaz, Doggie, Little Joe, the Say-Hey Kid, Duke, Mr. Cub, and Pops while fearing the Big Swish, King Kong, and Killer.

Baseball fans appreciate generational links as Ken Griffey Senior and Junior – the 3 generations of Boones or Bells.

The successful careers of brothers as the Alous is difficult to comprehend – let alone contemplating that Boog Powell should have been one of them.

Baseball – that national fascination that grew with the Golden Age of Radio. The game causing families to gather around a large box in the living room to cheer their heroes. A game that a future US President would recreate in a studio from a telegraphic ticker.

Every city has revered radio announcers – names that fans elsewhere may not know – but to locals, these are trusted voices who speak for them. Therefore, it is fitting that the hallowed halls of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York has an announcer’s wing – yet each fan prefers the voice of the one from our team.

I grew up in a time when people listened to many more games than watching. The Reds on TV were a rare treat to be savoured and not missed.

There was a time when Opening Day was Cincinnati’s day – a day all of baseball reserved for its first professional team – a day marking the season’s beginning for the entire baseball universe. This was done at a time before baseball sold its soul to cable TV in the name of money – even opening on another continent – but Cincinnatians ignore everyone and keep its traditions by hosting their Opening Day like no other place.

Baseball season is a marathon – not a sprint. The joy of today will be tempered by the sadness of tomorrow – and that tomorrow will provide the hope for another chance at joy.

There was a time when the October classic was fittingly named and didn’t crown a champion on a cold night in late October or early November. The end of the World Series truly meant the arrival of fall instead of the trumpeting of winter. A time when the leaves would swirl in empty stadiums and the ivy on Wrigley’s walls would go dormant – a time when colder temperatures were nearing, but not here yet.

As snows gather on the northern pallacial diamonds – yet we fans wait as flower bulbs below the snow-covered surface for the return of that annual Rite of Spring.

Baseball season is one of the many cycles of life – just like birds flying south for the winter – just like I vacate my northern outpost. After all, walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: #68 (Baseball – The Game)

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(Part 1 of 3)

I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

I think about the national past-time – the grand ol’ game of baseball.

Yes, baseball – that mathematical ballet played on a green diamond found in a variety of geometric shapes.

Yes, baseball – that timeless game often mirroring society.

Baseball –  the game without a clock – which is contradictory to the hectic nature of today’s everyday life – a life requiring time management and electronic calendars.

Baseball – a game that is more subtle than obvious. A game with a ball controlled by the defense; but hitting the ball causes each defender to move to a place of calculated efficiency in order to prevent something from happening. Yes – baseball is chess on grass.

Baseball – a game of definitives – win or lose – ball or strike – safe or out – fair or foul – most, of which, an independent arbiter decides.

To some, baseball is a kids game played by men – but to me, baseball is a man’s game kids play as they dream of becoming a summer icon.

To its loyal fans, baseball is a game of hope designed to break one’s heart – yet the same hope acts as restoration because tomorrow is a new day and the chance to make amends.

Baseball – played on heavenly green cathedrals for the loving souls. From the fan’s and player’s perspective, yes – truly a Field of Dreams. Not the one beside the cornfield, but the ones with the highly manicured brilliant green grass. Every fan remembers the first time their eyes saw major league grass – the green that forever sticks to one’s soul. Mine was Crosley Field in Cincinnati – Reds vs. Giants in the mid 1960s. Yes, my Reds won that night.

Baseball – a game of anticipation, but with anticipation comes waiting. To me, the young focus on anticipation, but as we age, there is a shift to waiting – yet, baseball provides both.

Baseball – a game filled with artistry – the fluidity of a 6-4-3 double play – the athleticism of an outfielder leaping to catch the ball before clearing the wall for a homerun – a catch that delivers relief to some, but heartache to others.

Baseball – the masterfully pitched game that befuddles batters is a work of a master craftsman – a brilliant painter. A few of the best hitters are professional batsmen who actually fail 2 out of 3 times is pure music.

Baseball – whose exclusion of Blacks spawned the Negro Leagues – and whose inclusion closed them – yet, let us not forget Moses Fleetwood Walker.

Baseball – the game that mirrors society. It’s segregated past broken by Jackie Robinson 17 years before Congress passed the Civil Rights Act.

Baseball – a game and a business. Greedy owners and players wanting more is nothing new – actually, close to the age of the professional game. That happens in business – yet today, players act in accordance to their own business decisions. Sadly, the days of a distinguished career in one uniform is slim – but not out.

Baseball – a game that challenges our patience, something that walking the beach does not do because walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On Beach Walk #65 (Blood)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Some may think blood is a gruesome topic because it associates with vampire bats, vampires, and murders. To others, blood is a spiritual fluid – a soulful liquid of life serving as a commonality across humanity regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, and age.

Yes blood – that body liquid that is a noun, an adjective, and a verb; the latter as in to stain, to initiate, to expose.

Blood – each of us have 1.2-1.5 gallons (4.5-5.5 liters) of this precious liquid – a liquid we associate with pressure, cuts, clotting, transfusions, donating, tests, sugar, iron, cholesterol, and more.

Blood – that red liquid circulating around the body within blood vessels – a liquid we link to courage, bravery, tenacity, and strength during times of adversity.

Blood – that red liquid we associate with life with almost 50% of it playing a role of dissolving and transporting nutrients and body chemicals around the body.

Blood – Flooded with enough red blood cells that transport a necessity for cell life – oxygen. Millions of red blood cells occupy a single drop – yet these red blood cells typically live only 120 days.

Blood – that vitally rich substance complete with an identification marking a uniqueness that we associate with blood types and transfusions – yet most don’t know of Karl Landsteiner – the gifted doctor who received a Nobel Prize for his work about blood types.

Blood – our link to family, relatives, lineage, and kinship – our flesh and blood – hence the implication that blood is thicker than water. Yes, blood can tell the family story. Biological blood brothers are related at birth, but other blood brothers are two unrelated males vowing to treat the other as a brother forever and ever.

Blood – the term we associate with courage, strength, battles, tenacity, sweet, and toil – yes – blood, sweat, and tears.

Blood – the temperament or disposition – it boils when passionate or lost with temper, yet can be a cool and controlled for the calm and collective.

Sometimes we associate blood with violence – in cold blood, bloodshed, having blood on their hands, and the blood running cold – even blood and guts to describe a movie or even an all-out effort.

New Blood can signify the young, the fornable, or just the new – but they are different from Blue Bloods – those born to nobility, wealth, privilege, and/or power – but for some, Blue Bloods can be too rich for their blood.

We can make wounds by drawing blood or signifying trouble with blood on the carpet – but we also associate drawing blood with going for victory by probing a weakness when tasting the opponent’s blood – which may not be the team that drew first blood.

Getting blood out of a turnip signifies cheap or trying to get from someone something they don’t have – or having similar difficulty as getting blood out of a stone.

Bull’s Blood is a known Hungarian wine whose name originates with a 16th century legend of Hungarian soldiers gaining strength in their battle with Turkish soldiers from the wine mixed with blood from bulls.

We occasionally see a blood moon, have hostility with bad blood, use blood money as payment for a killing, or simply have something ingrained in their blood.

The blood of lovers may not be the same, but their blood and love pursue each other in an effort to become one. The blood of lovers may not be the same, but it’s the blood that move the love throughout the body spreading the special feel from head to toe.

The blood of love is hot when the love is passionate. The blood of love is the glue during the good times and the bad.

Blood is something to think about on this day. Yes – blood is a simple term, but its meaning is deep and it carries many meanings. Blood is more than a random thought, but it is worth thinking about while walking the beach. Afterall,  walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On Beach Walk #64 (Creativity)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Creativity is a powerful word – so are related words create and creative. These words of similar meaning, but create is the verb, creativity the noun, and creative the adjective – but today I think of these words as a collective.

My first thought is about those creative with their hands – sowers, quilters, crafters, 3-dimensional artists as potters, sculptures, and others. Definitely not my strength, but these are skills that can be learned.

To some, creative people can draw and paint. Whereas some seem to be naturally gifted with this skill, but nope again, not my strength.

I think of an art teacher who once told me that anyone can learn to draw because there are four things to do – draw straight lines, draw curved lines, establish the proper proportions between them along with the correct angles. His words opened the world of drawing to me because I could now see the world through a different lens – a world that I did not know.

Did that improve my creativity? Oh yes, but I still don’t draw well because I didn’t practice, yet, there are times I look at something in terms of straight lines, curves, proportions, and angles – and yes – I see them!

One aspect of creativity is being able to think outside the box. A different way that others don’t. Now that I can do. Some see the solution as choice A, B, or a compromise of the two. The creative thinkers are the ones that find a new solution beyond those choices.

An architect told me that he has to have at least one architect in his office that is creative in his designs. Not necessarily abstract or modernistic looking – but one who finds a creative solution that meets the client’s wants and needs. A skill that not all architects have. But for those who have visited La Sagrada in Barcelona, Spain, Gaudi’s creativity is unique.

Sometimes architects are ahead of their time – but as time moves on, those designs transition into the mainstream. In some cases, even out of date.

Design engineers have to think ahead about future generations of their product. That would be true for a vacuum cleaner – but also for complex equipment as a jet engine. Creativity is an essential ingredient in innovation and improvement.

For scientists as Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, and countless others, they thought outside of the box to develop their laws and theories. In general, physicists have a knack for creative forward thinking.

Trade workers as carpenters and plumbers are always problem solving. They face problems on a daily basis requiring a creative solution – and they seem to do it.

The creativity of musicians is impressive. Mozart’s composed music with many notes that can be too busy for some to hear. Think about how many types, styles, and genres of music humanity has created through the creativity of creative musicians.

Creativity is also a gift for writers and poets. A creativity they share through the novels, short stories, poems, and more.

Let us not forget nature’s creativity. It’s changing shapes and designs to optimize efficiency. The designs in shapes and colors seen in the shells on the beach that I walk. The creative ways different organisms capture food. After all, not all beaks and bills of birds are the same because they are specialized for different purposes. Yes, nature’s creativity at work.

All of us have a creative side – but do we use it? Do we develop it? Do we recognize the creativity of others?

Unlike the beach that I walk, creativity has no boundaries. Nonetheless, I enjoy walking the beach because it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: #63 (Mars)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Good morning. The day is bright. The sky is clear and blue. The only clouds I see are on the distant horizon. Not many hours ago, stars filled the dark sky. Ancient civilizations thought of stars as twinkles attached to a dome that vanished by day, but today we know they are present behind the sky’s blue veil.

Probably everyone has wondered if life is elsewhere in the seemingly vast, endless void we call space. After all, our sun isn’t the only sun in the universe. Earth is located in the sweet spot of our solar system – but with many other suns, other sweet spots exist for life as we know it.

On the other hand, we humans are self-absorbed with ourselves thinking we are the center of everything. Let us not forget that at one time we said the Earth was the center of the universe with everything revolving around us and our planetary home. That was the prevailing thought of the time until new knowledge changed that view – although acceptance took time. Yet, some still embrace this notion.

Yes – today I want to think outside of Earth’s atmosphere. As my feet travel on this soft sandy, I wonder about the surfaces on other planets. Whether looking beyond the wild blue yonder or wondering as we watch the twinkling in the night sky – we wonder.

Although the song is not about this topic, the Moody Blues’ lyrics, “I know you’re out there somewhere” makes me wonder about life elsewhere. Does it exist? If so, is there any commonality with life on Earth? Then again, we could be the only life in the universe, and wondering about space is a gift for being human.

Life as we know it needs food, water, shelter, and something to breathe. Our needs are based on carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, and phosphorous, which are the key substances (but not the only) that compose not only us, but all life forms.

I think about these needs in terms of space travel to a neighboring planet. Venus had water at one time but no longer does. Besides, it’s too hot. Mars is another neighboring planet – and those beyond it are too cold.

Mars – the red planet – a visible star with a reddish tint. Mars – 250 millions miles away – an eight-month journey. The technology to get there exists, and is being further developed. Technology for recycling materials during the journey and on the planet exists.

Technology to use the frozen carbon dioxide of Mars exists – as is protection from the solar radiation. But I wonder: Can the human body endure the journey? Can the human body endure that planet?

Some say the human trip to Mars is inevitable – even by 2040. Others say it’s a dream. Yet, we cannot forget these three important factors: 1) Earth is our most suitable home; 2) Colonizing Mars will not save us from ourselves here; and  3) Exploration is in human DNA.

From our migratory ancestors to early explorers; from the Vikings to European explorers as da Gama, Magellan, Hudson, and others of their time – from visiting the North Pole and the South Pole to climbing Mt. Everest – from diving deep into the sea to landing on the Moon – Yes, humanity wants to explore because humanity wants to know.

While we dream of Earth serving as the home base for that futuristic trip into the sky I see above, let us not forget that we also have the opportunity to appreciate what we have and take care of it.

On this day as I walk the beach, I dream – even fantasize about a possible future. Thinking about Space – the final frontier – “To go where no man has gone before.”

Earth is my home – actually our home. Earth is where we find the flat plains of grain, the rolling hills of green, and the tall mountains with majestic peaks. However, my feet are moving on the fine sand of this coastal community. After all, I like walking the beach for it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: #62 (Food)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Looking across the water is a reminder that life lives below surface. A large variety of fish, shrimp, clams, oysters, scallops, and more. Of course the listed ones are commonly available food for us to eat. So I wonder, “What’s for dinner?”

Is an ongoing question for you? We ask it, but also laugh about this seemingly eternal question. Although our time at the beach is away from the normal routine of home, “What’s for dinner?” ever looms in our midst. So, why not, I’ll think about food today.

All of us have a variety of likes and dislikes. Some of us are risk takers when it comes to trying different foods, others have a limited menu of preferences. So food: What is it? Why do we need it? When it comes to food, what do living things have in common with each other?

Food – that basic need for all life forms. All the organisms of the sea and the beach need food for the same reasons as people – for nourishment – for the nutrients that either provide energy, act as a building block, or assists in a process. Yes – that’s what carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals are all about.

Food – think of all the cookbooks available – let alone online resources of recipes – all forming a collective of bountiful offerings of culinary delights. Yet, most people limit themselves to a rotation of less than 20 recipes.

Food – Think of the times of our settlers when most ingredients were grown in their own gardens or by other locals. The farmer’s markets of today carry on the tradition of locally grown products, which also seems to carry a greater importance outside North America.

I think of today’s large grocery stores – endless aisles of canned and packaged products that are complete with preservatives, fat, sodium , sugar, and more. Therefore, much of today’s cooking is an act of combining various boxes and cans into a final product.

On the other hand, the food industry today provides fresh fruits and vegetables from throughout the world – a luxury less available during my youth – oranges from South Africa – grapes from Chile – after all, bananas are not grown everywhere.

I think of a time when families ate an evening meal together – and even a more grand meal on Sunday afternoon – whereas today our lives are more on-the-run causing us to yield our food preferences to frozen and packaged products or a wide variety of fast-food establishments.

Today’s life offers many restaurants of a variety of styles and prices without a messy kitchen – well, at least not ours. I find it interesting how cuisines differ not only from country to country, but also from region to region within a country. The fried plate of everything and anything is more common in the US South and the US North. The dishes of northern Italy are different from those of the south.

I think of the abundance of natural food in nature – the corn with its husk but without a label because corn is corn. Let us not forget that corn is a plant – a living thing that also needs food just like we do and for the same reasons. Green plants make their own food by photosynthesis because they can’t catch it or kill it. Animals hunt for food because (and unlike the green plants) they can’t make their own. Whether an organism catches food or makes its own, food’s end result is the same.

Light from the sun is the initial energy source driving photosynthesis, but there are also organisms living in the darkness of the deep sea that can make their own food without the presence of light – but they use the sulfur gases venting into the water from Earth’s core as the energy driving their food production process. Nature’s design is so grand.

It seems food is more complex than many realize, but thinking about food makes me hungry. Besides, it’s lunchtime.  But for now , I continue moving toward the condo because walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.