Archive: September, 2023

Brief update

8085 bleh

I'm mostly over the probably-COVID bug, but not entirely. I thought I was done with it all last Wednesday. I felt generally OK. COVID test was negative. Still a little more snot to drain from the head, but otherwise normalish. Which was good, because, among other reasons, I had my final umpiring shift of the year that night and I had already missed two shifts; I didn't want to go out with such a whimper.

So I went. It was OK. None of my favored teams were involved and, since it was a playoff championship night, players were a little extra ready to complain about things. Eh. I had to go early, too, because it had rained the night before and I needed to do some groundskeeping before we could play. Thus I was hauling heavy bags of Turface out to the field and dumping them in standing water puddles and such, then raking and digging around base posts to get wobbly bases secure, and chasing off soccer players and such before we even got to the standard game prep. With all that, by the end of the first game I was wiped out. By the time I was done—in anticlimactic fashion, as the championship game ended in a tie and no extra innings could be played because the lights went out on a timer—I was rather exhausted.

And I'm still tired. Despite the series of negative tests, I have to assume this was a COVID infection because no cold has sapped my energy like this for so long a period. I dragged myself out to a social thing yesterday afternoon with some of my softball teammates, over an hour late because I just couldn't get going, and today I'm dragging again.

Anyway, it's pretty much in the just-annoying-not-really-debilitating stage except for this fatigue thing. I hope it runs its course soon.

Meanwhile, it's the last week of the baseball regular season and I have tix for three games this week to watch the Mariners blow their chance at the playoffs in person. Let's hope I have the energy to be properly animated in throwing hands up in the air in disgust when the M's fail to score some more easy runs from third base.

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It finally got me...probably


I was supposed to be on an airplane right now, headed down to southern California to attend my step-nephew's wedding and spend a couple days with my dad & Marty. Instead, I am sitting at home, blowing my nose every 5 minutes and downing NyQuil. Well, I was doing that, but I ran out. I may have to pop up to the Walgreen's drive-through later.

Tuesday morning I woke up with a fever and a sore throat. By Tuesday night I could add a congested head. By yesterday the congestion was as irritating in the third component of the ENT triumvirate as well. Add in a headache and general lethargy and you start to get an idea.

Colds don't usually knock me around quite so badly, so I took an at-home COVID test Tuesday and it came back negative. So I still thought, well, it's a couple days yet 'til the trip, it should be fine. But yesterday afternoon I wasn't any better and still running a temp. I took another COVID test and it also was negative, but given how old these test kits are—and since an in-clinic test wouldn't give me results until Sunday or Monday anyway and isn't free anymore—and how this feels unlike prior colds, I am proceeding under the assumption that I've got the dreaded C19.

The last time I remember feeling worse than this with a virus was quite memorable, because it was October 1995. I had the flu and was unable to use my ticket to Game 6 (and the potential 7) of the American League Championship Series at the Kingdome. That really didn't sit well with me (but my friend Brett got to go in my place, so good for him). This isn't a flu, there's no nausea involved, but otherwise it's sapped me pretty good.

Today, day four of symptoms, I feel some improvement. Fever's down. Throat's more scratchy than sore. Mucus isn't draining continually. So this should be a thing of the past in another couple of days (for this instance, not for COVID more generally; we as a culture have been really stupid and cavalier about this whole pandemic thing). Fingers crossed.

Sadly, Alaska Airlines won't refund me anything on my airfare purchase because I deigned to use their lowest fare option. I guess it wasn't enough to prohibit checked baggage and refuse a seat assignment and require extra fees for in-flight snacks as a trade-off for the lower ticket price, they also wanted to be able to thumb their nose at me for getting probably-COVID. I'd say shame on Alaska Air, but it's not like they're any different than any other airline operating today. Oh, well, as we say on Earth, c'est la vie.


I'm really tired of this, baseball edition

JP's expression says it all

Last night I attended the Mariners game with my good friends K & E, hoping for a nice pick-me-up for the team after their lousy road trip to Cincinnati and St. Petersburg. You can almost excuse dropping three of four to the Rays, they're a really good team. But now they were playing the Angels, who are, let's see, what is the technical term... oh, yes, they're bad.

Having fallen out of first place and clinging by a thread to a Wild Card position, the M's needed to come out strong. And so they did: a three-run first inning, and with Logan Gilbert on the mound, things were looking good. Until the Angels' catcher, promoted from the minors 2½ weeks ago, clubbed a home run to make it 3-1. OK, still not bad. His next time up, that same newbie hit a nearly-identical home run, this time with a runner aboard. Mariners 3, Logan O'Hoppe 3. Meanwhile, after that first-inning performance, the Seattle lineup could do nothing against the suddenly formidable Reid Detmers, who was 3-10 with a nearly 5.00 ERA. It was beginning to look like extra innings.

Then came an interesting ninth. The M's brought in their supposed closer, Andres Muñoz, who was somehow named AL reliever of the month for August. Seems to me whoever made that decision didn't see him pitch; I mean, a 1.4 WHIP isn't exactly stellar, but OK. Which isn't to knock Muñoz. I like Muñoz, but in my opinion he's not ready in the head for the pressure of the closer role. He's still pretty raw; someday he could be an elite reliever, but right now he's still learning on the job. E and I were talking about how Muñoz makes us nervous these days, and I mentioned that he's got great stuff but doesn't make good choices when he has a batter on the ropes.

A retro view of the game last night, as we sat in row 3 of section 337, one row forward of what had been my original Safeco Field season seats for several years. Though I'm happy in 327 row 9, I've missed you, 337! Especially the distance from the PA speakers there. Much less of an aural assault.

Mike Moustakas led off with a smart base hit against the limited defensive shift the M's were employing, just chopping a grounder toward third where nobody was playing. Not Muñoz's fault, his manager's, but OK. Then that O'Hoppe jerk is up again. Muñoz gets to a 1-2 count despite some poor home plate umping, but then tries to be cute. Does he buzz in that 100mph fastball above the letters? No, he throws the same pitch he just threw for strike two, which is nearly the same pitch he threw for ball one (it was in the strike zone, I could even see it from up high), and O'Hoppe said "thank you very much" and blasted it into left for a double. Next batter, Eduardo Escobar, gets in the hole at 0-and-2, but again Muñoz doesn't realize he's in charge. Escobar is a .230 hitter with a high K rate, at 0-2 he has to protect the plate. Muñoz can reach 102mph, but instead he throws the same slider he threw to O'Hoppe and Escobar hit it hard on a line, but the M's were lucky: it was hit right at Jarred Kelenic, who was shallow enough that the guy running for Moustakas at 3rd didn't try to tag up and score. Muñoz then hits the next guy with a fastball to load the bases. Now Brett Phillips and his .188 average is up. Could still get out of this if nothing goes wrong, and Muñoz has seemingly learned from his mistake and is pounding in 100mph+ fastballs. Phillips takes two quick strikes, then a third—except, no, called a ball. Next pitch also called a ball, but looked good from where we were. The next pitch was certainly strike three—except this umpire had dirt in his eye or something, because it's called ball three, and now the crowd is letting the ump have it. Phillips has gotten better timing on the fastball, but he's still fouling them off. Finally he swings and misses and there are two out. Next guy grounds out harmlessly to short and we're still tied. Whew.

Bottom half started out nicely. Cal Raleigh leads off with a base hit. Geno Suárez follows with another single. With Raleigh now at second base, manager Scott Servais smartly elects to replace him with a pinch-runner in José Caballero. Not the ideal choice, but the best one available. Ty France then lines a hit into left-center field and this looks like it! A walk-off victory! Except, what's this? Caballero is being held at third base??! Wait, didn't he just get put into the game for this exact scenario? Run, go for it, make them make a play at the plate. But no, Servais and third-base coach Manny Acta play it conservatively because, hey, there's nobody out and now the winning run is at third with no outs and that's easy to drive in, right?

Well, yes, unless you're the Seattle Mariners.

As I pointed out a while back, the M's suck at this. They only convert that runner at 3B with 0/1 out into a run scored about 40% of the time. Because they strike out. The team's overall 26% K rate actually gets worse with a runner at third and 0/1 out. Worse! Insanity.

To the surprise of no one in the stadium, Jarred Kelenic struck out. And the next guy up was Dylan Less-is-Moore, who despite playing above my expectations of late is still not a good Major League hitter and tapped a weak roller to the shortstop playing shallow, easy forceout at home. Now it was up to Dom Canzone, who just missed squaring up a pitch and rolled it to first. Extra innings. K & E both groaned in unison and I did a riff on the old Cars song "Moving in Stereo": M's are the same, we're groaning in stereo/M's are the same, they can't score from third...

I expected that to be that. The Angels would score their Manfred Man and the M's would not and it'd be over. And indeed, the Angels belted a homer to score two. Bottom 10 would surprise me when Julio Rodríguez crushed his own 2-run homer (his 30th of the season, congrats, Julio) to retie the game. Did we have hope? Not really. The Angels singled their Manfred Man to third in the 11th, then singled him home to go up 6-5, then Geno Suárez made an uncharacteristic error on a hard grounder that scored another run, then another hit and another run before Servais goes and gets Isaiah Campbell from the bullpen, who throws one pitch to end the frame and stop the bleeding. But the M's went down 1-2-3 in the home 11th. 

Was this the game that effectively ends the Mariners' postseason hopes? We'll see; given the struggles the Astros and Rangers have both been having, and given that there are still a bunch of games to play against them, there's still a way to pull it out. But after this, my belief that the M's will never win a title so long as Scott Servais is their manager is solidified even more.

The "V"s were, perhaps, premature.


Bright spots

Gifts from the field

Though my climb back to stable orbit continues, it's been slow going and I've not gotten a lot accomplished of late. But there have been a few highlights that perked me up a bit:

  • Mizuki went in to see the vet yesterday and was a champ. Scared out of her little kitten mind, but bravely got through being groped and stuck with needles and she's now had all her shots until next year. She was very popular with Dr. S and the whole staff at Cats Exclusive and I have to admit I liked it when she ran from the technician back to me when they were done with the shots. Don't worry, Tiny Moon, I've gotcha.
  • I umpired a playoff series the other night, three games, and when one of the guys playing in the second game showed up early he saw I was the ump for the night and texted his teammates: "We got Tim tonight!!" It did me good, I wasn't feeling too well before heading to the park. That team won their semifinal but lost the championship game to a squad that also knows me by name now. The softball season is coming to a close soon, but meanwhile it's nice to be appreciated there.
  • Relatedly, last week (or sometime? The days have all melded together lately) I umped another game with The Leftovers, who presented me with a team-branded beer cozy. I don't drink beer, but it functions as a Coke cozy just fine and I discovered they name-checked me on the thing:
    That's pretty great. Many thanks to Neal and the rest of the team.
  • Lower Decks is back! The new season got off to a pretty good start, not the best but still fun. I guess if you're a Voyager fan you'd appreciate it more, but that to me is the bad Trek. On the other hand, they made great fun of some of the goofiest/dumbest things about that series, so that's a plus. I see this LD ep as less of a "valentine" as a well-deserved mockery of some really terrible Star Trek.

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Gaining altitude


Hello, world. Apologies to those who've left me messages or texts or whathaveyou over the past week or so. Between out of town visitors prior to the holiday weekend and an episode with my nemesis The Black Hole, I've been more or less incommunicado. Fortunately, this particular Black Hole experience has not been one of those full-blown depressive sucker-punches, rather one of the milder ones that remind me how much energy I expend to keep my normal stable orbit.

I don't know what, if anything, was the trigger event this time. Doesn't always have to be one. That's what makes it a relapsing/remitting clinical depression rather than a truly emotionally-based one. Well, one of the things, anyhow. So nothing "happened," though we did pass a couple of sad anniversaries that might tangentially connect—we passed what would have been my grandfather's 102nd birthday, shortly thereafter the anniversary of my mom dying. But really, I don't think those were key, I wasn't thinking about them much. It's just my fucked-up brain chemistry.

As I've said before about this, most of the time, thanks to good medicinal intervention, I do OK. My depression is tethered to me, visualized as a black hole with an unescapable gravity well, but usually I keep a good orbital distance. Maintaining it takes energy. And if I slip a little, it takes more energy to try and climb up again. And, sooner or later, it seems, whatever engine that powers that orbital thrust breaks down. Or overheats or something. My metaphor starts to collapse here, but I just get tired. The brain realizes how much effort its been putting into not-crashing and just needs a break.

Which means gravity pulls harder. Which means when I'm ready to come out of rest mode I have to work a whole lot harder to get back up to stable orbit. Which is tiring. You see how this can be endlessly frustrating.

Now, in this case—and again, I thank the makers of Sertraline for the generally effective assist—I didn't get pulled down all that far. I'd like to orbit at, say, moon level but I got pulled down to GPS level. Sucks, but way better than ISS level. Or atmospheric. I need these metaphors to help it make sense in my head.

Anyway, I've been tired. Sleeping a lot. Screwed up my already nocturnal tendencies to be downright vampiric. But it's better today, I can tell I'm gaining some altitude, and it's a good thing because I've got to be out in the world with the Daywalkers the next few days and then in a little over a week I have to take a quick trip to California, which I'm not really looking forward to but neither am I wishing wasn't happening. I'll take that, at this point.

Meanwhile, I have been keeping up with my and Erik's Substack about the Immaculate Grid. Because no matter what, there is always baseball.

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Maintenance issues


The comments problem appears to be fixed now. Apparently there were enough spam comments getting through that the server security put up a block. We'll see how it goes now; if spam gets bad again, I may have to institute some kind of member login procedure for commenting. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, in fixing that I ended up inadvertently resetting the URL for the RSS feed, so if you've subscribed to email notifications via Feedrabbit (the button up top there), you may need to do it again. If you get email notifications via zapier, I've adjusted it for you already. And if you actually use the feed in an RSS reader of some sort, hats off to you, I wish more people used such self-curated things rather than depend on social media links to navigate the web. But you'll also need to update the URL in your reader: We thank you for your patronage.

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