Category Archives: sports

Tuesday’s Tune – O Canada

O my, I am dropping the ‘h’! and it is Tuesday and time for a Tuesday’s Tune, Canada style. I am in Toronto for my 29th baseball stadium. It’s been an adventure.

Yesterday morning, I woke up early and drove from northern Michigan to Toronto, Ontario. It was a six-and-a-half-hour drive, and it was smooth driving, even when I got close to Toronto.

When Major League baseball released the 2024 schedule way back in July of ’23, I began looking ahead. At that time, I had my ’23 trips planned – Colorado, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Miami, and Arizona, which left two teams: the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox. When I planned my baseball trips for this season, I was looking for games when the Houston Astros played the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox to complete my bucket list of all 30 teams. For the Blue Jays, the schedule read four games: Monday July 1 to Thursday July 4. I didn’t realize the significance of the date of the July 1st game, I knew the significance of Thursday’s game – July 4th, but not Monday’s game.

July First in Canada is Canada Day and it’s a BIG DEAL.

It is the day Canada celebrates as it’s ‘birthday.’ But that is an oversimplification. It’s the day when Canada (Quebec and Ontario), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia became a country under the Dominion of Canada within the United Kingdom. It happened in 1867, two years after the ending of the American Civil War and two years before the founding of the first professional baseball league. Canada would add the remaining provinces to become the nation I know as Canada. But they are still part of the Commonwealth of Nations under the British crown. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune – O Canada

W^2 – baseball is back

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, May 8, 2024

NOTE: This post was originally titled “Baseball”, but after reflecting overnight, I changed it to “baseball is back.” Enjoy

Tuesday night baseball at Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois. Tuesday April 23, 2024, 7:09 PM

It’s baseball season, again. Baseball season begins at the end of March and lasts until the final out in late October. Every team will play 162 games, the good ones will play more, and the best teams could play 173 or more. It all depends, because baseball is a funny game.

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game — it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.”

“Ohhhhhhhh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.”
Terrance Mann in Field of Dreams

I made it to my first game of the 2024 season two weeks ago and I am just now making time to write about it. I’ve been to Wrigley Field more times than I can remember. My first game was in 1993. Wrigley Field opened with its first baseball game one hundred ten years ago in 1914. It’s the second oldest ballpark in the major leagues and there is something magic about watching a game there. Continue reading W^2 – baseball is back

What I love about baseball

I am not exactly sure how my baseball bucket list adventures began, but I can backtrack the trail to Homer Bailey’s second no hitter on July 2, 2013.

I am sure you are wondering,

“How in the world can he be certain?”

Well, it started with Maribel, my late mother-in-law. She was up at the lake, and she wanted to listen the Cincinnati Reds game. Unfortunately, neither the Reds radio network nor the Reds television broadcast served norther lower Michigan. That area was Detroit Tigers territory. She was a Reds fan and she watched or listened to the Reds ballgames at home in southwestern Ohio.

 I signed up for MLB TV and we watched and listened to the ballgame using my computer in her bedroom. That night I signed up three times for MLB TV and I didn’t catch my mistake until my credit card billing statement arrived the following month. Thankfully, MLB TV was understanding and cancelled the two additional accounts. I’ve been renewing the package ever since.

About that time, my favorite team, the Houston Astros began to play better and since, I’ve been paying more attention since. Thank you, Maribel.

Since last summer, I’ve travelled to twelve cities and thirteen new ball parks in addition to the two ballparks in Chicago. I’ve met many people in my travels. I’ve attended all but one of those games by myself and each time I sit down to watch the game, I meet new people.

What I love about baseball is that I realize that it is truly America’s game. By attendance it is the most popular sport, but the baseball season is 162 games long and each team plays half of their games at home and the other half on the road. In 2022, over 64 million people watched a major league baseball game in person, attendance is down almost 10% compared to 2018.

the crowd in St. Louis with the Gateway Arch in the background

This past year MLB made rule changes to the game to speed up play and make the game more exciting. At first, I was apprehensive, but with four months (and seven games in a ballpark) into the season I agree. The game is more exciting and on average a ballgame is almost thirty minutes shorter this year compared to previous seasons. This season’s average is 2 hours and 39 minutes compared with the 2022 season average game length of 3 hours and 6 minutes. Continue reading What I love about baseball

W^2 – peanut

W^2, W2, or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Today is Day 23 and yesterday, I took the train from Chicagoland all the way to St. Louis. It was my first real train ride in the United States. Trains in the US were once a BIG deal, but with the advent of the car, a national road system, and air travel trains declined in my lifetime. I don’t recall ever riding a train to go anywhere until my brothers and I visited my father in Europe after my parents divorced. My first rail trip was to Glasgow from London on British Rail. We have a commuter rail system in Chicagoland, but I don’t use it often. However, I did take commuter rail into Union Station yesterday morning.

For this week’s Wordless Wednesday, I have a new peanut image from Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri.

Last night I added to my list of cities where Major League Baseball is played, twenty-three. Every game reminds me of how baseball is an integral part of our culture. I could say sport, but I don’t get this feeling with football, basketball, or other sports and I don’t know why. But last night I sat amongst St. Louis Cardinal fans whom I’d never met and had a great talking baseball and life.

Last night’s seats were the best seats I have ever had for a baseball game. I decided to splurge on these seats when I was planning my trip. To my right were two couples out for the ballgame and to my left was a group of friends, and in front of me were a father and son. None of us were regulars in these seats. The woman to my right was a mom whose thins were headed off to college this fall, JP to right was a graphic artist, and the young man in front of me reminded me who was winning the game – the Cardinals. It was a great night at the ballpark.

I have seven cities left on my list: Denver, Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Miami, Baltimore, Boston, and Toronto.

Today, I have a visit to the Gateway Arch, another baseball game tonight, and a train ride home tomorrow.

Today is going to be an amazing day, it could be a million and six times better than yesterday. So, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the days Count, one day at a time, watching a baseball game, or enjoying the sights and sounds of a new city.

What will you explore today?

the race

It’s race weekend in the town near the lake where we spend much of our summer. Actually, as I am about to press, PUBLISH, the race is complete. If you watch the video, winners are the third canoe to pass and while the canoe in the lead finishes in second place. It’s a long race.

The race creates excitement for Grayling. And for us, too.

Yesterday was busy. Our kids, led by W, decided they were going to scuba dive in the lake. Both are scuba certified but that didn’t make my wife, or I feel any better about diving in the lake off the pontoon boat. But they did and they had a wonderful time.

Afterwards, they spent time on the lake, and we gathered at the table for dinner – ribs, beans, and salads (not pictured, but delicious).

Then it was off to watch the start of the race, the AuSable River Canoe Marathon. Town is only minutes from the lake and the river source is in the highlands north of the lake. Two other rivers have their sources in the highlands around us and all three are known for their trout fishing and canoeing. Continue reading the race

at rest, in peace

I began writing this post two weeks ago in Cincinnati, Ohio and didn’t finish in the time I had. I started writing after the Reds game Friday night and worked on polishing it in the coffee shop Saturday morning. But I couldn’t quite find the right words or flow. It was the last full day of my epic baseball trip and I wanted to make it on time to Cleveland, so I stopped and crafted a different post.

Of all the cities and stadiums, I visited on my trip, Pittsburgh was my favorite. I felt connected from the moment I arrived, I felt welcome, I felt home.

PNC Park and the Pittsburgh Skyline, the yellow bridge is the Roberto Clemente Bridge dedicated after his death in 1973.

Before I left Pittsburgh, I visited my paternal grandparents. They are buried in a beautiful cemetery to the south of the city center. I had intended to visit them before the game, but I was late leaving Philadelphia. The cemetery where they lay at rest, in eternal peace, was in the general direction I was traveling. So, it was a win-win. I could visit them and get closer to Friday’s destination, Cincinnati.

my grandfather with me on the left and my Warren on the right. 1964, Bay City, Texas

My grandfather died in 1971 at the age of fifty-two. I was nine years old and remember the summer evening we learned of his death. He died peacefully on July 17, 1971.

It’s funny the things you remember from your childhood and growing up. Continue reading at rest, in peace

Game 7, done

Saturday marked the end of my seven game, seven stadium, and ten team baseball trip. I was in Cleveland, Ohio for a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Guardians.

it was a Larry Doby jersey night, I got the hat on my own. Larry Doby was the first African-American baseball player in the American League and played his first game July 5, 1947

This morning, I will pack up and head home. It has been a fun time. I will glad to be home, even for one night before I drive to our lake house to spend week and the fourth of July with my family.

I have enjoyed the trip and I’ve loved being in the six cities I had never watched baseball in before. This trip increased the number of my baseball cities to 18. There are twelve cities I have not seen a major league baseball game played and I hope to make it to 30 before, well you know.

Along the way I ran into people who were doing the same thing as me – trying to get to all 30 major league baseball stadiums in their lifetimes. It was fun listening to their stories and telling mine.

I believe we all want to tell a story with our lives, with our passions, and with how we spend our time. Continue reading Game 7, done

Friday night fireworks

It is Saturday morning, and I am in Cincinnati, Ohio. I started to write a post last night, gave up, and went to sleep. I picked up this morning and the post morphed and changed. Writing takes time, especially, good thoughtful writing, it takes time and so does driving. Today I am driving to Cleveland and my seventh and final baseball game for this trip. I decided to shelve the post I was working on and drive to Cleveland. I’ll finish that post later.

the view down the left field line – Great American Ball Park Cincinnati, Ohio

Last night I watched the Atlanta Braves defeat the Cincinnati Reds 9 to 1 at Great American Ballpark on the banks of the Ohio River. It was a close game, 2 – 1, until the seventh inning when the Braves’ line up opened up with their ‘fireworks’ and scored three runs and an inning later scored three more. The Braves added another run in the ninth. The only fireworks the Reds had to offer where the Friday night fireworks after the game.

I enjoyed the game, but it would have been more fun to watch had the contest been closer.

Their fans have a good time and I’ll have to come back the next time the Astros play the Reds in Cincinnati. I have a 249 mile drive ahead of me, Maps predicts it will take 3 hours and 37 minutes and if there is anything I’ve learned on this trip, it will be longer. So I’d better jump, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, always learning.

What is something you’ve learned from experience on a trip or vacation?

Roberto Clemente and the Pirates

Last night, I was in Pittsburgh to see the Pirates play the Brewers. It was the BEST venue yet. Hands down.

I am not sure why, but everything clicked last night from getting to the ballpark to getting back to my hotel room and everything in between. Including an eraser on the pencil provided with the scorecard.

and the peanuts were good, too.

My dad loved baseball. He had two favorite teams; I believe. He loved the Cleveland Indians and the Pittsburgh Pirates. I think. I’ll have to go with what I think because I don’t have anyone to ask, anymore. Continue reading Roberto Clemente and the Pirates

Tuesday at the Mets

Tuesday found me back in New York City for the third game of my seven game baseball trip.

I didn’t plan my drive from DC to NYC very well and I arrived at the peak of rush hour. I was able to make the game on time and I was in my seat with food, beverage, and a scorecard for the first pitch.

 

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A post shared by Clay Watkins (@makingthedayscount)

The Astros began with a walk to Jose Altuve, their lead off hitter and lightning rod for boos in New York City and most baseball stadiums. The next batter, Jeremy Pena, hit into what should have been a double play, but he beat it out on a manager’s review. It was all downhill for the Mets after that. The Astros sent seven batters to the plate, got four hits and four runs in the first inning. They never looked back.

I enjoyed my dinner, Buffalo wings with blue cheese (needed more blue cheese) and a celery stick, kept score and watched the game. Continue reading Tuesday at the Mets