Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Goodnight Saigon

They call it Ho Chi Minh City now, but to thousands upon thousands it will forever be Saigon, a place where they lost their innocence, their wallets, their optimism, their brothers, their families, their lovers, their lives.

At left, the last Marine helicopter leaves the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, April 29, 1975 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sitting here in limbo

Hi, gang.

I'll be in limbo until further notice. I have taken a medical leave of absence from the newspaper to deal with a debilitating, but thankfully non-terminal, illness.

The long and short of it is that I can't read or write for any length of time and, on bad days, can't even listen to the radio or watch television. Being robbed of my hobbies is heartbreaking, but I'm still here to tell the tale.

So, as Jimmy Cliff sang, "I'm sitting here in limbo, but I know (hope) it won't be for long."

You're looking above at the famous Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island near San Diego. It was rumored that Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson met here, which isn't true. They did spend time there, though, and you're seeing it because I wish I was there. I think the timbre of the tides and the salubrious scenery would do wonders for my weaknesses.

As it is, I watch reruns of "Harry O" (filmed on Coronado and in San Diego early on) when I can, and
try to catch Padres games when they're playing on the West Coast and I can't get Vin Scully. I like and have admired the Padres' announcer, Dick Enberg, for years. And I have a huge crush on Fox Sports San Diego reporter Kate Osborne.

Baseball, as it has for decades, has rescued me yet again. It's there, through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, often breaking my heart but a daily presence six months out of the year, beginning in the sweetness of spring when the colors are in sharp focus and the possibilities are as endless as pi.

So, let me say au revoir, because I certainly plan to see you again. I wish you nothing but peace, joy, happiness, fastballs thrown right down the middle of the plate, and the sweet surrender of sunshine on your shoulders.

See you soon, my friends.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Recalled to life

Charlotte, N.C. -- It has returned, this game, this pastime, this soothing balm for the stricken soul.


Four months of illness, pain, winter, and disappointment have given way to springtime, to sunshine, to the melody of sweet, sweet song.

The music is medicine -- ball hitting bat, barkers boasting beer, peanuts, Cracker Jack, chatter.

Last night, on a super Saturday in Charlotte, the Knights came from behind late to beat the Norfolk Tides 4-2. The Budweiser Clydesdales were on hand to christen the new BB&T Ballpark. 10,199 others joined me, and I didn't want to go home.

But, then again, I never want to go home.

Kurt Pickering has made it to minor-league ballpark No. 127. He'll have visited every affiliated park by the end of the year. How about that!

I have a more meager goal -- to get to more than a game or two this year. Migraines keep me home these days. It's OK. I shut my eyes, listen to the Tigers game, or to Vin Scully if he's on, or to Dick Enberg. I like good broadcasters. Few remain.

You can pack up your troubles and leave them elsewhere when you're watching a ball game. Nothing else matters. Not one damn thing.

Like the old man in Dickens, you are recalled to life, connected to that part of you that is still eight years old, when the difference between joy and heartache is measured by mere inches.