Work in Progress

Baseball, Seminary, Wrestling, and the Dreams and Days of one Mike Work's Angeles experience

Monday, January 31, 2005

Royal Rumble Rundown:
The WWE held their Royal Rumble pay-per-view extravaganza (tm) last night, and DAVE Batista, after drawing #28 and tossing six men on the way to the victory, is on his way to the Staples Center, where he'll be main-eventing Wrestlemania.

The mystery element at this point, which may be resolved at tonight's Raw or stretched out over a few weeks, is who Batista is going to face for the world title. With a split roster and two world champions, the precedent was set last year when Chris Benoit won the Rumble and opted to jump from Smackdown to Raw and challenge Triple H. Will Batista do likewise and challenge JBL (provided he survives his Barbed Wire Cage Match on the way), or will he go after mentor-figure Triple H (who fended off a challenge from their former stable-mate Randy Orton last night)?

At this point, I'm vibing with Batista/HHH as the Raw world title bout, and JBL/John Cena as the Smackdown title match, with Cena being the last Smackdown superstar standing in the Rumble, proving his mettle. So we're on the Road to Wrestlemania, and how we're going to get there should be quite fun.

(As for how I'm going to get there, not quite sure: tickets are sold out, and scalping prices are pretty out-rage-ous at the moment. I do plan on making Raw the day after...any takers for a joint venture?)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A word to the wise: check your cream cheese every now and then, especially that in a box/foil wrapper. That stuff can go bad. Really bad.

Monday, January 24, 2005

The stuff you remember in the late nights and early mornings: OO Column: Ric Scaia interviews Raven at the 2000 Brian Pillman memorial, an interview in which Raven turned a puff-piece into a teachable moment, and a link worth visiting. now offers a digital download service, through which baseball fans can download recent and classic games to the tune of $3.95 per game. With a $5 credit on my card which was unused to date, I decided to try it out and download Game 4 of the 1988 NLCS.

October 9, 1988: Shea Stadium
Dodgers v. Mets
John Tudor v. Doc Gooden

And I remembered why I became a Dodger fan, and why Orel Hershiser was my favorite player in that era. The Dodgers came in down two games to one against a Mets team that took twelve of thirteen from them during the regular season. LA took an early lead, which the Mets soon erased, thanks to back to back jacks from Strawberry and McReynolds. Tudor left in the sixth, down 4-2, and Lasorda went to the bullpen, already low on men due to the suspension of closer Jay Howell. Brian Holton, Ricky Horton, and Alejandro Pena held the line through the ninth, when Mike Scioscia, he of three regular season homeruns, took Gooden deep, tying the score and sending the game into extra innings. Pena pitched into the twelfth frame, when Kirk Gibson took an 0-1 pitch from Roger McDowell over the wall in right-center field to put the boys in blue back on top.

Joint Trivia effort from Tim McCarver and Mike Work: Bo Diaz of the Reds was the only other player to take McDowell deep in 1988, in his final year as the everyday catcher for Cinci. Diaz was supplanted in 1989 by Jeff Reed and Joe Oliver, who signed a ball for us when we won tickets to the final two Reds games of that season. McDowell would later spend four years pitching for the Dodgers, and is now the pitching coach for their Triple-A affiliate, the Las Vegas 51s.

Okay, back to the game. Bottom twelve: Tim Leary, normally a starter, opens the inning for the Dodgers, and runs into trouble, putting two men on with one out. The last man in the pen, Jesse Orosco, comes in, and walks Keith Hernandez, loading the bases for Darrell Strawberry, hitting .412 at that point in the series. With Hernandez hitting, Orel Hershiser, who had started game three, began warming up in the pen, having thrown seven innings and one hundred-plus pitches in the rain the night before.

On a 2-2 pitch, Orosco got Strawberry to pop up to Steve Sax at second, and having faced the two lefties in the center of the order, exited the game. Kevin McReynolds came to the plate and Hershiser came into the game. Pretty much a 'must get this guy' situation; a loss would put the Dodgers down 3-1 to the Mets, and with Howell suspended and Tim Belcher at the hotel getting sleep before starting game five in twelve hours, Hershiser was all L.A. had left. Oh, yeah, another stat that flashed on-screen as he came to the plate: in his career with the bases loaded, McReynolds was 5 for 9 with two grand slams. He was good.

0-0: fouled off
0-1: high and outside
1-1: broken bat looper over second base, the type that plates tying runs, and John Shelby comes running in from center to catch it knee-high, game over. Dodgers win, 5-4, guaranteeing that the series will go back to L.A.!

Great ball game, and one of many clutch performances from Hershiser, who would win game seven, as well as games two and five of the World Series, capping a Cy Young year and the most remarkable September in baseball history (six starts, six complete game shutouts). That's commitment, to volunteer to throw in that situation, come in, and get the out when the team most needed it (as detailed in his autobiography, Out of the Blue, which I devoured when it made its way into our house), and I must give props. That sort of performance characterized the '88 Dodgers, who, prior to game four, were termed the weakest lineup in World Series history by Bob Costas, yet beat the McGwire/Canseco powered Athletics, four games to one. In the first game of that series, the injured Kirk Gibson, in his only at-bat in the series, came in to pinch-hit against Dennis Eckersley in the 9th, down 4-3, and takes Eck's backdoor slider into the stands. Those two series, and the individual-for-team performances that we saw against the heavily-favored Mets and A's, made me a Dodger fan, fifteen years before moving to L.A.

Sports Illustrated's article covering the World Series win

Saturday, January 15, 2005

This is when I wish i had done the research in picking out a digital camera while in Atlanta. Oh well, you'll see me soon...hopefully.

This Thursday, the Florida Agricultural Group awarded their Man of the Year Award to John Bradshaw Layfield.

(To be more precise, they bestowed the honor on Tuesday, with the ceremony nationally televised on Thursday; video of the ceremony is available online). The quote-unquote burning question is this: How do I feel about this apparent oversight?

Not too bad, surprisingly enough. First, I have virtually no ties to Florida, apart from some years as a quasi-Gator fan and several week-long vacation trips in my youth. Second, agriculture really isn't a major interest of mine, and i can't really match Mr. Layfield's contributions in the field. Third, I was unaware of this group's existence until this past week. Fourth, the award seems tailor-made for Mr. Layfield, who won a Great American Award earlier this year, and I'd hate to deprive him of his spotlight.

Friday, January 14, 2005

One more update:

The music has also changed, and the break saw Ill Mitch leave heavy rotation, along with those seen with him (Books Died On - State of Things and The Faint - Blank Wave Arcade, Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot), now in level-two play status (albums I really like and will play, rather than new music i'm checking out). In their place? All sorts of live Pearl Jam, Radiohead's Kid A and Amnesiac, A Silver Mount Zion - He Has Left Us Alone but Shafts of Light Sometimes Grace the Corners of Our Rooms, Pedro the Lion's Control, and Busbee's album.

This week saw me sign up for emusic, taking advantage of their 50 free MP3s for potential new subscribers. What did I come home with?
Pedro the Lion - Winners Never Quit
Belle and Sebastian - If You're Feeling Sinister
Owen - I Do Perceive
Pavement - Slanted and Enchanted

11 tracks left: will probably pick up Interpol's debut album with them.

Other music resources have been the Live Audio Archive, Sidewalk Crusaders, and The Sky I Scrape, where a 5 gig torrent of Live PJ has been hosted since the 25th.

Time to do the rounds...
So with the recent revelation concerning my laziness comes the realization that said quality affects multiple facets of my life, within which are multiple aspects of my blog. Among those: the sidebar, both books and music.

What was there this morning shouldn't be there much longer, either because i finished the book or didn't get to the point of opening it. In the interim, what have i read?

Servant Leaders, Servant Structures - Elizabeth O'Connor
Choke - Chuck Pahlaniuk
Beyond Charity - John Perkins
Majority of the essays in Camino a Emaus

Finally, during the transcription project, I read a bunch of old course notes from Clemson. After minoring in speech and communication studies, i either forgot, disregarded, or defied much of what i was taught, and recently realized i had little to show for it. So while in Atlanta for Saturnalia, I transcribed my notes from intro to communication studies, public speaking, mediation/negotiation, mass communication, intro to theater, and post-civil war american lit.

Still to come: Spanish and Education Majors, Judaism, Christian Tradition, Old Testament, Contemporary Literature, Special Topics in US History: JFK and Watergate, Philosophy of Religion, Intro to Sociology, and if I'm really brave, the class where i expect my notes to be the worst: Marriage and Intimacy. A word to the wise: if you have a choice between a class which interests you (History of Constitutional Law) or one which is merely a curiosity (Marriage and Intimacy), both in the same time slot, both meeting the humanities requirement for your major (which you'll wind up officially changing six months after internally doing so), take the one you truly care about. I say this because five years later, I'm reaping the fruits of my laziness, wishing for do-overs.

In writing this, I do remember why i took the soc instead of the history: at the time, i was still thinking law school and criminal justice, in which case the soc minor would have been valuable. That may have been the guiding principle behind the decision, a flawed one because the other class would have been of much greater value for aspiring attorneys.

Friday, January 07, 2005

"Okay, my hair's frozen."

These words came from my mouth today, as i went snowboarding at Mountain High with friends from class. First-time experience, and quite the fun learning endeavor.

My friends are experienced, but were cool with starting on an easier slope so that i could learn, but the 'easy riders' lift was inaccessible, so we went down the nearest available lift. Little did i know that i was learning on a slope that contained a black diamond, which i just happened to inadvertently choose to try.

so i fell.

will spare details of physical pain, largely spread throughout lower body, with some nech aches, but the words i heard were 'you're lucky that the snow's such great powder today.' i take it ice would have led to a concussion, quite plausible when i think of the times i caught an edge and thought, while falling forward, 'okay, i'm about to take another whack in the back from my tied-to-legs snowboard.'

many were the times i felt the ice and snow all over me, especially the ice in the gloves and on my hat, as well as the iceberg-hairstyle that i took on for a few hours. standing up, getting my balance, and staying on my feet while going down a snow-encrusted mountain while navigating the board had a much higher difficulty rating than virtually all daily situations (with the exceptions coming in accompaniment with what is commonly known as a hang-over).

but, damn, i had fun. the first run was quite the beating, but the moments where i thought i got it were adrena-rushes, setting the stage for the second run, where the fall factor was reduced drastically (partially due to the closing of that lift which forced a move to a mostly-blue, or intermediate, slope, partially due to the boarder 'getting it.' Shocked yet pumped, i rode downhill, learning the heel technique and beginning to control my balance, feathering right and left. even the losses of control went better, with several falls somehow averted. i still took a beating, still got my ass kicked, still had those post-fall moments of sitting in the show, feet in front, where the dominant thought was 'okay, get up.' and got up and kept going. the rise to a standing position was a bit quicker this round, with less down time and more complete motions (rather than the multiplicity of 'cannonballs' i went into on the first round.)

the third lift would have been the chance to learn the 'toe technique,' where we face the top of the mountain, backs downhill. however, inclement weather, in this case out-of-control winds, kept james and i at the bottom of the mountain with the chairlift shut down after dave, howard, and carlene boarded. frustrating to have the day on the slopes end so early, with nothing open after 11, but cool in that we can go back later in the season and finish the day. even cooler: we got vouchers not just from the resort, but also from the equipment rental place.

i'll be back.
we'll be back.
rock and roll.