Monthly Archives: May 2016

Here, there, and everywhere.

So, in response to my previous post in March, “Nowhere man, don’t worry…” (which you can refer to here: https://ericparisvangucht.wordpress.com/2016/03/22/nowhere-man-dont-worry/) it’s another travel list, which incidentally shares its name with a Beatles song.

In effect, this is the reverse list of what I had written: places I thought would be terrible, or at the very least not what I would expect, but had pleasant experiences. Here are my five surprisingly pleasant travel experiences.

5. San Antonio, Texas 
I didn’t necessarily think I would hate San Antonio, it’s just more about the circumstances about how we got there that made it worth the while. This was in June 2001, a few weeks before my fourteenth birthday. My brother Nick and I were flying unaccompanied for the first time (It is a little eerie that this was merely three months before 9/11). We met my aunt Paula in Houston, and were planning to spend the whole trip in the suburbs, but Tropical Storm Allison hit us and we were forced to relocate to San Antonio to stay with my uncle’s family. San Antonio promotes much of its history through the Alamo, and rightly so. But so much attention seems to be lavished on it that people forget that there’s more to the city than just that. There was a Busch Gardens, and I was able to overcome my fear of heights and ride a few coasters. As for the Alamo itself, there’s actually a deeper, fascinating history that permeates the building. (Raise your hand if you knew that Texas was once its own independent republic. Everybody? You liars!) In the decade and a half since, I’ve been told it’s upgraded a lot of its infrastructure as well, so it might be worth a second visit.

4. Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida 
I had just turned 21 years old, so this was my first real “college” trip to Florida, and I had an aunt, uncle, and cousin from Belgium come with us. Although I was and still am a Red Sox fan, this was the year the Rays made their World Series run (and it was also their first ever winning season). We watched in awe as Michael Phelps broke the record with eight golds in a single Olympic Games in Beijing. The city itself had a lot of nice places, including a nice little waterfront, and we had rented a house that was literally steps away from the beach. It was a little hot growing a beard (I did it for an audition, which I didn’t get, but was told to keep it for another one, which I did get), but if that’s the one downside, I’ll take it.

3. Austin, Texas 
Say what you want about Texas – a lot of it is deserved – but Austin (at least what I was allowed to see in my sixteen-year-old scope at the time) is almost one of those well-kept secrets that we hear about. Home of the flagship campus of the University of Texas, Austin is actually the second most populous state capital in the country (after Phoenix). It’s even adopted the motto “Keep Austin Weird,” and “weird” in Texas is often frowned upon. In a college town in an atmosphere that doesn’t necessarily cater to it. Lady Bird Lake has some astonishing views, and taking a duck boat tour is rather stellar. Very few things exist in a vacuum, and Austin is another example of this.

2. Musée d’Orsay – Paris, France
I mentioned how the Louvre was on my overrated list. Well, this is pretty close to the top on this list. The art only dates up to 1914, but in limiting the scope, something kind of works about it. Plus, the location is gorgeous – right off the Rive Gauche (Left Bank) of the Seine River. In fact, it houses many of the great works that many of us look at in art history books – Van Gogh’s Self PortraitMillet’s The Gleaners, Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 (a.k.a. Whistler’s Mother), and the one that seems to be the cover of a lot of journals, Bal du moulin de la Galette by RenoirErgo, I think it has a broader variety that the Louvre doesn’t have, or at the very least, doesn’t promote as well, in my opinion. The highlight of it all was that when we went in, it was raining out. We went down a corridor, looked out a window, and there was a gorgeous rainbow reflecting off the Seine. It was magnificent. You can do both, but for comparison purposes, I’d recommend the Musée d’Orsay first.

1. Blenheim Palace – Oxfordshire, England 
This is not actually in Oxford itself (which is the county town of Oxfordshire), but there’s a charm about Blenheim Palace that seems to get lost in a lot of the advertising for England. Best known as the childhood home of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Blenheim remains the home of the dukes of Marlborough. There’s a lovely bridge nearby over water, and although it looks big, it’s managed very effectively. You can take a walking tour, and the organizational efficiency of it (at least when we did it) was very nice. We didn’t do it with a guide, but we still made it through all the rooms at a reasonable places. Other buildings may not have that is all I’m saying. Plus, I was able to buy a Horrible Histories book in the gift shop, which became one of my favorite books for several years after. Sometimes, if you don’t get too gushy, it might work. Can’t think of much else to say, but I think I said enough on this one.

Anybody else who reads this – what would be on your list?

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89th Academy Awards – May predictions

In the four acting categories only.

Best Actor
1. Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea 
2. Bryan Cranston – The Infiltrator 
3. Michael Fassbender – The Light Between Oceans 
4. Will Smith – Collateral Beauty 
5. Mark Wahlberg – Patriots Day

Best Actress
1. Emily Blunt – The Girl on the Train
2. Marion Cotillard – Allied 
3. Nicole Kidman – Lion 
4. Alicia Vikander – The Light Between Oceans 
5. Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

Best Supporting Actor
1. Aaron Eckhart – Sully 
2. Jude Law- Genius 
3. Steve Martin – Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk 
4. J.K. Simmons – Patriots Day 
5. Miles Teller – War Dogs 

Best Supporting Actress
1. Laura Dern – The Founder
2. Anna Kendrick – The Accountant 
3. Rooney Mara – Lion 
4. Helen Mirren – Collateral Beauty
5. Rachel Weisz – The Light Between Oceans

1958 World Series: Positively perfessorial

(Sorry, I couldn’t think of a better title on this one.)

The 1958 World Series was the fifty-sixth year overall (and fifty-fifth played) of the modern World Series, which began in 1903. This year marked a great comeback by the mighty Yankees, and the final title for Casey Stengel.


(Photo courtesy of http://www.bigtimebats.com

1958 World Series 
New York Yankees (AL) over Milwaukee Braves (NL), 4-3 

Managers: Casey Stengel (New York); Fred Haney (Milwaukee)

Series MVP: Bob Turley (New York) 

Hall of Famers 
New York: George Weiss (executive), Casey Stengel (manager), Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Enos Slaughter 
Milwaukee: Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Red Schoendienst, Warren Spahn 
Umpire: Al Barlick 

Analysis
This would be a re-match of the previous year. The Braves had won the title the previous year, and were looking to repeat as champions. The Dodgers and Giants had relocated to the Pacific Coast, truly making the game the “national pastime” geographically. Tragically, for the Dodgers it came at a high price: catcher Roy Campanella was permanently paralyzed in a car accident. The Dodgers were still a year away from bringing a title to the West Coast.

Both the Yankees and Braves finished with identical 92-62 records. It was believed it would be a close series. In Game 1 in Milwaukee, Yankee manager Casey Stengel gave the ball to Whitey Ford; although he had a great 2.01 ERA and a respectable 14-7 record, teammate Bob Turley had won 21 games that year. Still, based on Ford’s record, he got the ball against Warren Spahn. Scoreless into the fourth inning, Moose Skowron homered to give the Yankees the lead and the first run of the series. The Braves took the lead in their half of the inning. Hank Aaron led off with a walk, and a passed ball by Yogi Berra moved him up a base. A groundout sent Aaron to third, and then three straight singles led to two runs. In the fifth inning, with one out, Ford drew a walk, and Hank Bauer homered to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead. The game remained 3-2 into the eighth, when the Braves tied the score on a Wes Covington sac fly, which scored Eddie Mathews. Ryne Duren came into the game to replace Ford, and the game would go into extra innings. Stengel let Duren hit for himself, surprisingly, and he grounded out to Spahn. In the bottom of the tenth, Aaron almost reached after Berra dropped a third strike, but was narrowly thrown out. Joe Adcock singled, and two batters later, Del Crandall sent him to second. Substitute Bill Bruton came through with a single that drove in the winning run, and the Braves had taken the first game.

The Braves jumped out to a 2-0 Series lead the next day. Turley got the ball, and after a first inning run gave the Yankees the lead, disaster struck. Bruton led off the bottom of the first with a home run, and Turley would only get one out in the first inning. The big blows came from Johnny Logan, with a two-run single, and a three-run home run by opposing pitcher Lew Burdette. Seven runs crossed the plate, and the game was more or less over in the first inning. Wes Covington’s single made it 8-1 Braves in the second inning. Despite two home runs from Mickey Mantle, it wasn’t enough as the Braves won 13-5. The Yankees were in trouble.

But the Bronx Bombers struck back in Game 3. It looked as if the Braves had used up their runs in the previous game, as Don Larsen shut out the Braves 4-0. Bob Rush pitched well, but one run in the fifth was all that was needed (the Yankees got all four RBI from Hank Bauer). The Yankees were back in it.

The Braves returned the favor of shutouts, as Warren Spahn shut out the Yankees 3-0. He allowed only two hits and two walks while striking out seven. Johnny Logan reached on an error to give the Braves their first run, and Spahn drove in a run to help his own cause. The final run came on a double by Hall of Fame third baseman Eddie Mathews. Mantle made the final out on a grounder to third. The Braves were up three games to one.

But, one of Yogi Berra’s aphorisms would prove true this year – “it ain’t over ’til it’s over.” Game 5 featured a shutout for the third straight day. Bob Turley redeemed himself from his disastrous Game 2 start. Gil McDougald led off the third with a solo home run. The big blow came in the sixth, when Berra’s double ignited a six-run rally, including Turley contributing on his own. The final score was 7-0 and the Yankees were still alive. But they still had to win two more in Milwaukee.

After trading runs in the first two innings of Game 6, the Braves led 2-1 heading into the top of the sixth. The game would go into extra innings, still tied 2-2. But Spahn had one game too many in him. He gave up a leadoff homer to Gil McDougald. After two outs, three straight singles gave the Yankees another run and a 4-2 lead. It would prove to be crucial, as Aaron drove in Logan to get the Braves within a run. With the tying run on third, Frank Torre (older brother of Joe, future manager of both teams) lined out to second base to end the game. The Yankees had forced a Game 7.

It would be Larsen against Burdette in Game 7 at County Stadium. This time, though, it looked like Larsen might give the Braves the title. After 2.1 innings, he was out, even though he was leading 2-1. Turley came in to relieve, and actually allowed the Braves to tie the game on a solo homer by Del Crandall. It was 2-2 with everything to play for. Going into the eight, it was still 2-2. Burdette got the first two men out. But then the roof caved in for the Braves. A double by Yogi Berra was followed by a single by Elston Howard, and suddenly, the Yankees were back on top. Skowron later followed with a three-run homer, and just like that, it was over. The Braves couldn’t muster any real charge, although they did put two men on in the ninth. Red Schoendienst lined out to Mantle and the Yankees had completed the stunning rally.

Fun Facts 
The ’58 Yankees were the first American League team to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win a seven-game Series, and the second overall, after the 1925 Pirates. (Boston’s rally in 1903 was in a best-of-nine Series).

This was Casey Stengel’s seventh and last title with the Yankees. His seven titles tied him with Joe McCarthy for most all-time.

Del Crandall is the only player to hit a home run in consecutive seventh games.

From 1955-58, there were four consecutive seventh games, the only time this has happened. The road team won all four games.

This was the third time in four years that the winning team rallied after losing the first two games.

This was the first World Series where television broadcasts were done in color.

Stan Musial of the Cardinals got his 3,00th hit on May 13.

Joe Adcock of the Braves would later manage Cleveland in 1967, and was called “the worst manager I ever played for” by Rocky Colavito. He was fired after one season.

The Yankees had been no-hit earlier in the season by Hoyt Wilhelm, then with the Baltimore Orioles.

If I remember correctly, this was the last time that opposing teams threw consecutive shutouts in a World Series until 2014.

Eddie Mathews set a record with eleven strikeouts in a single Series. It would stand until 1980.

Final Thoughts 
The Yankees still had a few years of dominance left in them, but the Braves brief run was coming to an end. They would relocate to Atlanta within ten years, and would have to wait another 30-plus years to win their next championship.

References and Sources 
Baseball Almanac
Baseball Reference
Retrosheet
Wikipedia
http://www.worldseries.com
http://www.bigtimebats.com
100 Years of the World Series (Eric Enders)
The Seventh Game (Barry Levenson)
I Had A Hammer (Hank Aaron)
The Curse of Rocky Colavito (Terry Pluto)

1957 World Series: Brave new world

The 1957 World Series was the fifty-fifth year overall (and fifty-fourth played) of the modern World Series, which began in 1903. It was clear that westward relocation was beginning to pay off, as the Braves won their first title in Milwaukee in only five years.


(A 1957 World Series pin. Photo courtesy of http://www.keymancollectibles.com

1957 World Series 
Milwaukee Braves (NL) over New York Yankees (AL), 4-3 

Managers: Fred Haney (Milwaukee); Casey Stengel (New York) 

Hall of Famers 
Milwaukee: Hank Aaron, Red Schoendienst, Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn. 
New York: George Weiss (executive), Casey Stengel (manager), Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Enos Slaughter 
Umpires: Nestor Chylak, Jocko Conlan

Series MVP: Lew Burdette, P (Milwaukee)

Analysis 
In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik into space. Elvis Presley appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for the final time. President Eisenhower called in the National Guard in response to the protests surrounding the “Little Rock Nine.” And baseball’s guard was changing.

For the first time since 1950, a non-New York team won the NL pennant. They finished 95-59 and beat the Cardinals by eight games. They were led by Henry “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron, who won the MVP award. Lefty Warren Spahn went 21-11, and righty Selva Lewis Burdette Jr., known as “Lew,” won 17 of his own.

The New York Yankees were still the dominant team in the American League, winning their eighth pennant in nine years. They finished eight games ahead of their nearest competition, and came in as slight favorites.

Opening at Yankee Stadium, two future Hall of Fame lefties faced off against each other – Warren Spahn and Whitey Ford. The game featured numerous chances for both teams, but the Yankees finally broke through in the bottom of the fifth inning. Jerry Coleman singled to lead off the inning, and after two groundouts moved him up to third, Hank Bauer drove him in. The Braves had two consecutive walks to lead off the sixth, but two strikeouts failed to score any runs. The Yankees knocked out Spahn in the sixth, scoring on RBIs by Andy Carey and a sacrifice bunt by Jerry Coleman. It was 3-0 and Spahn was done. The Yankees wouldn’t score any more, but the Braves only got one run off of Ford, on a single by Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst. The final score was 3-1 Yankees, and the old guard had drawn first blood.

The Braves would tie the Series up in the second game. The two teams traded runs in the second and third innings. Hank Aaron led off the second inning with a triple and Joe Adcock drove him in. In the third, Johnny Logan of the Braves and Hank Bauer of the Yankees traded solo home runs. Going into the top of the fourth, it was 2-2. But in the fourth inning, three straight singles, the last one by Wes Covington, scored two runs and Bobby Shantz was out of the game. Relief pitchers Art Ditmar and Bob Grim kept the Braves off the board for the rest of the game, but Burdette was even better. He allowed only four more hits, and although he ran into trouble in the ninth, Haney never wavered and he came in and got Bauer on a force out to end the game.

The Yankees took a 2-1 lead with a 12-3 thrashing of the Braves. Bob Buhl didn’t last the first inning, giving up three runs, including a solo home run to Tony Kubek. A throwing error by Buhl led to two more runs, and before the first inning was over, Juan Pizarro came in to relieve. Schoendienst drove in a run for the Braves in the second, but it would only get worse for the Braves. Two runs scored in the third and fourth innings, including a two-run shot from Mickey Mantle. Hank Aaron hit a homer of his own to bring it to 7-3, but a five-run seventh inning, highlighted by Kubek’s second homer of the game made the final margin 12-3. It wasn’t a perfect game for Don Larsen this time, but it was enough.

The Braves rallied back in Game 4. After Gil McDougald drove in a run for the Yankees in the first inning, the Braves erupted for four runs, including an Eddie Mathews double and a mammoth three-run homer by Hank Aaron, which cleared Milwaukee County Stadium. Two batters later, part time first baseman Frank Torre homered and the Braves were up 4-1. Heading into the ninth, Spahn had gotten numerous double plays, but the Yankees had a rally in them. After consecutive singles, Elston Howard hit a devastating game-tying three-run homer. In the top of the tenth, Bauer tripled in a run, giving the Yankees a 5-4 lead. They were three outs away from a 3-1 Series lead. Nippy Jones pinch hit for Spahn, and controversy ensued. Pitcher Tommy Byrne bounced a pitch in the dirt. It looked like it had hit Jones, but home plate umpire Augie Donatelli originally ruled it a ball. Jones persisted, and supposedly found a speck of shoe polish. He was given first and Felix Mantilla came in to pinch run. A sacrifice bunt and a double tied the game, and brought up Eddie Mathews. He crushed a two-run walk-off home run to win the game 7-5. The Series was 2-2, and the Braves had new life.

Game 5 was a classic pitchers’ duel. Burdette had great defense throughout the game. With a runner on, a strikeout and caught stealing led to a double play in the second inning. Later in the fourth inning, Gil McDougald led off with a deep fly ball to left field. Covington went back and made the catch. This would prove crucial, as the next two batters reached base. But a double play ground ball got Burdette out of the inning. In the bottom of the sixth, with two already out, three consecutive singles brought a run in for the Braves. It would prove to be the only run of the game. The Yankees put a runner on in the eighth, but catcher Del Crandall nailed the runner trying to steal. Yogi Berra made the final out and the Braves were up three games to two.

The Yankees would force a decisive seventh game with a 3-2 win in Game 6. Buhl would be relieved in the third after two runs scored on a two-run shot by Berra. The Braves got back to within a run on a Frank Torre home run, and tied it on Aaron’s third homer of the series, which came in the seventh inning. But in the bottom of the inning, Bauer homered off the right field foul pole, giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead. It would be enough, as Bob Turley got a 1-6-3 double play to end the game. For the third straight year, there would be a seventh game.

Warren Spahn was originally scheduled to start the seventh game, but he came down with the flu. It would be up to Lew Burdette on short rest. Facing him was the previous Series’ hero, Don Larsen. Two runners came on in the first inning, but Burdette finished the inning off with no damage. The Braves scored four times in the third inning, after a single and an error. The Yankees would commit three in the game, and this was the costliest. With two on, Eddie Mathews hit a two-run double, knocking Larsen from the game. Aaron singled and a groundout later in the inning made it 4-0 Braves. Burdette kept the Yankees off the board, and in the eighth, a solo homer by Del Crandall made it 5-0. But the Yankees had one last rally in them. There were two outs and a runner on first. Jerry Coleman singled to right, and another single loaded the bases. Suddenly, the tying run was in the on-deck circle. But Burdette got Moose Skowron to ground out to Eddie Mathews at third, who stepped on the bag, and the Braves had their first championship in Milwaukee and first since 1914.

Fun Facts
This year marks the most recent World Series Game 7 played in Yankee Stadium to date; all subsequent Yankee Game 7 appearances have been on the road.

Lew Burdette was the first pitcher to throw two shutouts in the World Series since Christy Mathewson in 1905.

Earlier in the season, Gil McDougald lined a pitch off of Herb Score’s eye, which affected both of their careers – neither recovered after that.

Ted Williams lead the American League with a .388 average at the age of 38.

Braves pitcher Gene Conley was a two-sport star, also playing in the NBA with the Boston Celtics.

Game 2 was the first World Series by a non-New York team since 1948.

This was the first time a team from outside of New York won the Series since 1948.

Final Thoughts
The Braves had affected the capital of baseball. The landscape was about to change forever. With much of the country moving westward, baseball would soon follow.

References and Sources 
Baseball Almanac
Baseball Reference
Wikipedia
Retrosheet
http://www.worldseries.com
http://www.keymancollectibles.com
100 Years of the World Series (Eric Enders)
The Curse of Rocky Colavito (Terry Pluto)
I Had A Hammer (Hank Aaron)

A more updated list – all 501/1001 travel books to date

So, seeing my dad and going through the books was nice, because he pointed out ones that I have done that I never knew. (Apparently, I’ve also been in Germany, though I’m too young to remember it). I figured these lists would change, and will eventually be updated later in the year.

I’ll list in the order in which I got the books, with approximate dates.  I won’t go into as much details as I have on the other ones, but that’s one reason why dads are great – they help you remember information you never knew or forgot. I still don’t think this is entirely accurate, but I at least have updated information, if it’s not entirely accurate.

Also: if there are places that go in multiple countries, they’ll be listed under the country that the books lists them (e.g. Flanders Fields, which are closer to Belgium and have more, also extend into France, and are listed as being in France, so I’ll do that). Others are repeats and will be listed more than once.

All information is updated as of July 23, 2016.

501 Must-Visit Cities 
Belgium (5 of 7) 
1. Antwerp
Times Visited: 2
Dates: January-August 1994*, July 2004

2. Brussels
Times Visited: 3
Dates: February-March 1994, July-August 2004, July-August 2010

3. Bruges 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2004

4. Ghent
Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2004

5. Mechelen
Times Visited: 1
Dates: July-August 2010

* I lived for a semester in Antwerp, that’s why the dates are so long.

France (3 of 24) 
1. Rennes
Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2004

2. Paris 
Times Visited: 2
Dates: July 2004, March 2005

3. Strasbourg
Times Visited: 1
Dates: March 2005

England (2 of 23) 
1. Oxford 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: August 2010

2. London 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: August 2010

United States (8 of 24) 
1. Chicago, IL 
Times Visited: 3
Dates: June 1995, July 1999, March 2006

2. Washington, D.C. 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: June 1998

3. San Antonio, TX 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: June 2001

4. Austin, TX 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: May 2004

5. New York, NY
Times Visited: 1
Dates: March 2009

6. St. Louis, MO 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: August 2009

7. Columbus, OH
Times Visited: 3
Dates: May 2013, February-March 2015, March 2016

8. Boston, MA 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2016

Totals: 18 out of 501 (3.6%)

Inconclusive/Not Enough Information 
1. Cologne, Germany
2. Atlanta, GA, United States (I know I’ve been here, but I’m too young to remember; do you think I should count it?)
3. Rouen, France
4. Memphis, TN, United States
5. Leiden, Netherlands
6. Nantes, France

501 Must-Visit Wild Places 
None

Within Driving Distance, so potentially in the Future 
1. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana, USA
2. Red River Gorge, Kentucky, USA
3. Mark Twain National Forest, USA

Totals: 0 out of 501 (0%)

501 Must-Visit Destinations 
Canada (1)*  
1. The Great Lakes
Times Visited: 1
Dates: March 2006

*Technically, this was in Chicago (at Lake Michigan), but it’s listed in the book in Canada, so I think it’s okay.

United States (6)
1. The Smoky Mountains 
Times Visited: 3
Dates: November 1997, November 1998, March 1999

2. Washington, D.C.
Times Visited: 1
Dates: June 1998

3. The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: June 1998

4. The National Air and Space Museum 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: June 1998

5. San Antonio
Times Visited: 1
Dates: June 2001

6. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: March 2009

Belgium (1) 
1. Bruges 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2004

France (3)
1. Mont-Saint-Michel 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2004

2. The Cathedral of Notre Dame 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2004

3. The Louvre 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: March 2005

Germany (1) 
1. Aachen Cathedral 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: Spring 1994

Netherlands (1) 
1. Keukenhof Gardens 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: Spring 1994

England (5)
1. Stonehenge 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: August 2010

2. Salisbury Cathedral 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: August 2010

3. Oxford
Times Visited: 1
Dates: August 2010

4. The Houses of Parliament 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: August 2010

5. Tate Modern 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: August 2010

Totals: 18 of 501 (3.6%)

Inconclusive/Not Enough Information
1. Cologne Cathedral

1001 Walks You Must Take Before You Die
United States (6) 
1. Appalachian Trail
Times Visited: 2
Dates: November 1997, November 1998

2. Clingmans Dome 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: November 1997

3. Mammoth Cave Park Long Loop Trail 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2002

4. Chicago Lakefront Trail 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: March 2006

5. Central Park
Times Visited: 1
Dates: March 2009

6. Freedom Trail 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2016

Belgium (3) 
1. Waterloo Battlefield Trail 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2004

2. Bruges Historic Center 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2004

3. Comic Strip Trail 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: August 2010

England (1)
The Ridgeway 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: August 2010

France (7) 
1. Mont-Saint-Michel 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2004

2. D-Day Beaches
Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2004

3. Dinan Walled Town Walk 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2004

4. Left Bank, Seine 
Times Visited: 2
Dates: July 2004, March 2005

5Île Saint-Louis
Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2004

6. Alsace Wine Trails 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: March 2005

7. GR-21 Alabaster Coast Trail
Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2004

Totals: 17 of 1001 (1.69%)

Inconclusive/Not Enough Information 
1. Ramparts of Ypres, Belgium
2. Cologne Cathedral, Germany
3. Brooklyn Bridge, United States
4. Alum Cave Bluffs Trail, United States
5. Chimney Tops Trail, United States
6. Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, United States
7. White Horse Trail, Wiltshire, England
8. GR34 Customs’ Officers Trail, Brittany, France

501 Must-Take Journeys 
United States (4) 
1. Appalachian Trail 
Times Visited: 2
Dates: November 1997, November 1998

2. Shenandoah Valley 
Times Visited:1
Dates: June 1998

3. Blue Ridge Parkway 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: November 1998

4. Lower Manhattan 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: March 2009

Netherlands (1) 
1. Keukenhof Gardens
Times Visited: 1
Dates: Spring 1994

France (4) 
1. Flanders Fields* 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2004

*Technically in Belgium, but listed in France (of which there are parts), much to my annoyance.

2. Brittany’s Emerald Coast 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2004

3. D-Day Beaches
Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2004

4. Paris 
Times Visited: 2
Dates: July 2004, March 2005

Totals: 9 out of 501 (1.8%)

501 Must-Be-There Events 
United States (1) 
1. Independence Day
Times Visited: Numerous
Dates: Numerous

Belgium (3) 
1. Pistes de Lancement Circus Festival 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: March 1994

2. La Flèche Wallonne
Times Visited: 1
Dates: April 1994

3. Ommegang Pageant 
Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2004

Totals: 4 out of 501 (0.79%)

Inconclusive/Not Enough Information 
1. Pukkelpop – Hasselt, Belgium

Seen on TV 
England – FA Cup Final, Wimbledon Championships
France – Tour de France
United States – U.S. Open (golf), U.S. Open (tennis), World Series, Stanley Cup, Indianapolis 500, Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Rose Bowl Parade, New Year’s Eve in Times Square

Not as bad as I thought – apparently, I have been to Germany, so I can update that map when and if I can find it. I now have a list of places to go for next time, hopefully. It’s a start.

Compare and contrast

Walking home tonight was a study in contrasts, weather-wise. And to clarify – I will walk home in hot or humid weather. I have done it before, and I will do it again. Tonight was gorgeous – not humid at all, a beautiful view on the walk home from rehearsal. So, yes, I’ll do it. But it’s easier to do in cooler weather. Just take my word on that.

I just think that walking home in the home is a good way to build character, too. I’ve been on my feet all day, both at work and rehearsal. But I had two factors in my favor tonight: the weather, and time. Since tomorrow is a day off from world (and seeing my dad in the few days that he’s back in town in between two trips that he’s taking right now), why not do it? And that’s the point behind these things. There is a method to my madness. It’s just a different madness, and so a different method. Let me do this. If I didn’t think I could do it, I wouldn’t.

As the years have gone on, I’ve come to argue – it may not be logical, or even all that smart to do. But somebody’s got to do it, right? So why not me?

I walk because it’s necessary for me. It’s a soul-searching time. Too many people are in a hurry nowadays – they have somewhere to be, or insist on being done with something so they can move on to the next thing. But tonight, as I reached the four-lane stoplight at the intersection of Tenth and Jordan, I saw no cars or people on the street. Even if only briefly, it was all mine. There’s a power in that.

I’ll take the rain.

As impractical as it is from time to time, I’ve grown to prefer cloudier skies and a little rain here and there. Obviously, thunderstorms are another matter altogether, and I usually try to get out of those. But when done correctly, with a steady rain that doesn’t spread too much, I see nothing wrong with walking home in the rain.

As the Margo Rey song says, “So let them run and hide, I like a cloudy sky…”.” It would make more sense to carpool, take the bus, whatever. It’s less for exercise purposes that I walk (although that is a big part of it, because I’m trying to get into better shape). It’s more that there’s an authenticity in walking that I don’t necessarily find in other modes of transportation. I like the alone time.

It’s a common theme with me – I think very outside of the box when it comes to real life. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again – logic isn’t my strong suit. I don’t use an umbrella, because I don’t have good luck with them. Then again, tying back into the Belgian side of me, it rains an average of 200-210 days a year over there. After a while, you get used to it. If the method you use works, is it really as unorthodox as people think it is?

I’m definitely in the minority here, but I wouldn’t mind if the chilly weather stayed a little while longer. It’s easier to walk in, because it’s not too hot or humid, and I feel like not everything has grown in yet. Plus, I can wear long sleeves and actually not get strange looks. As Bloomington braces itself for another summer with fewer students, the quiet is always nice when you can get it. The city keeps going, as it must. Eventually, the weather should warm up. It’s said to get into the eighties by the beginning of next week. But you’ll forgive me if I want this weather a little bit longer. It’s harder to let go of the chill in the air.

So, if I may say so, rain, rain, stay a few more days. Then it’ll be time to go. But I’ll continue to take the route. If I can make it home on foot in the rain after an 11 p.m. showing of The Fighter, I think I can manage something like a light drizzle.

As the chorus concludes: “…And let the rain wash over me.”

J’ai besoin de la pratique

Although I was a French major in college, I got a little rusty as it. Si vous ne l’utilisez pas, vous le perdez, as they say. (“If you don’t use it, you lose it.”)

So, I’m going to post the following work in French. It’s good practice for me, either to learn it new or to brush up. Never hurts, right?

Mes excuses pour mes erreurs (apologies for my errors). This is talking about several travel trips I took in high school, and during college.

Quand j’avais dix-sept ans, j’ai visité la France pour la première fois. Mais d’abord, avant ça, ma famille et moi, nous avons visité la Belgique. Ma sœur aînée Dinska allait se marier ce juillet-là, et pour mon frère Nicolas et moi, c’était notre première visite depuis dix ans. J’habitais à Anvers pour un semestre académique, mais je ne me souviens pas beaucoup autant que je devrais. Bien que nous ne sommes partis jamais l’aéroport, c’était mon première fois à New York aussi. Le vol est parti de New York à 20h30, et nous étions dans l’air pour huit heures. Je ne me souviens pas s’il y avait des retards avant le vol.

Lorsque nous avons atterri en Belgique, nous visitions mes oncles, mes tantes, et mes grands-parents, Jules et Yvonne, dans la région flamande. Ce serait la derniere fois que je visiterais mon grand-père. (Il est mort en janvier 2005.) Et puis, le quatre d’entre nous – mon père, ma belle-mère, Nicolas, et moi – se sommes rencontrés avec Marc Gyssens, le meilleur ami de mon père. Il a conduit sa voiture en France, et il est venu avec nous. Nous avons commencé le voyage en Bretagne-Normandie. Bien sûr, nous devons voir la plage d’Omaha. Nous avions juste manqué un dévouement qui a souvenu le soixantième anniversaire des invasions par les armées américaines et britanniques. Il était assez stupéfiant, laisse-moi te dire. Les faits saillants inclus Mont-Saint-Michel, la tapisserie de Bayeux, et La ville de Rennes. Pour une autre deux jours, nous sommes allés à Paris. Il est dommage que Paris aie une réputation assez méchante et brute. Nous avons visité la Tour Eiffel, la rivière Seine, les jardins des Tuileries, et finalement, Montmartre et Sacré-Cœur. Il y avait un artiste de rue en haut de Sacré-Cœur. Il a eu un maillet de juge – caoutchouc, bien sûr, et il a grincé  – qu’il a utilisé pour frapper mon père sur la tête. Il prétendrait d’arrêter les voitures qui passaient. Une fois, il a obtenu dans la voiture, et il a dit au chauffeur de conduire.

Eventuellement, nous sommes retournés à la Belgique. On célèbre sa fête de l’indépendance une semaine après la France, le 21 juillet. Le jour suivant, c’était le mariage de ma sœur. La réception suivante la cérémonie était très amusante aussi. Après une autre semaine, nous sommes retournés aux États-Unis.

Le printemps suivant, je reviendrais à la France, dans un programme d’échange avec mon lycée. Cette fois, nous sommes restés en Alsace, près de Strasbourg.  Il y avait neuf étudiants et notre enseigneur dans ce voyage. Les derniers deux jours, nous avons pris le train à Paris. Nous avons vu les mêmes attractions, et aussi la Louvre, le Musée d’Orsay, et enfin l’Arc de Triomphe. Le lendemain, nous avons préparés de retourner aux États-Unis. Un de mes amis, Nik, a cassé la poignée hors de sa valise. Aussi, après l’atterrissage de notre premier vol, une amie avait les difficultés avec les agents douaniers. Elle est néerlandaise, et il n’a pas eu un passeport américain. Eventuellement, elle était dégagée, mais nous avons presque raté le vol suivant. Heureusement, nous sommes arrivés à Indianapolis cette nuit.

Le voyage le plus récent était en 2010 ; ma nièce Zanna était née en juin. Aussi, c’était la premiere fois que j’ai vu l’Angleterre – Oxford, Londres, et le comté Wiltshire (Stonehenge est trouvé là.) Depuis ce temps, je ne suis jamais retourné en Europe, mais au futur, je voudrais. Pour le moment, mon père et moi voyageront à Boston ce juillet. Il est un début, n’est-ce pas ?

Major League Baseball Updates – May 15, 2016

What a season we’ve seen so far. Offense has been higher than a lot of people expected. There’s still no clear favorite in the NL West, the NL East is surprisingly competitive, and we’ve already seen Jake Arrieta fire a no-hitter for the Cubs.

Breakdown 
AL East
Technically, the Orioles and Red Sox are tied for first place, but the Orioles lead by .007 of a percentage point (23-13 to the Red Sox 24-14). Until the Orioles make up those two games, they’ll be slightly ahead for the division lead. The Red Sox have had remarkable hitting so far, and just enough pitching to keep them in it. They’ve been lucky rather than good a lot of the time, but sometimes, that happens. The Blue Jays seem to be falling off a little bit, trying to prove they’re not a one-year wonder. The Rays are sliding down. The Yankees are getting hot, but still remain in last place at 16-20. When they’re hitting, they’re great, but if not, they are terrible.

AL Central 
Both my friend Big Mike and I picked the White Sox to finish last. It’s been totally the opposite right now, as Chris Sale is having an epic season. It’s too early to call, but if they keep it up, perhaps Robin Ventura goes from hot seat to Manager of the Year. They’ve been 5-5 in their last ten games, but the rest of the division is weaker – Cleveland is at 17-17, five games back. The defending champion Royals are third, two games under .500. Detroit and Minnesota are struggling, with the latter having the worst record in the American League.

AL West 
It’s been disappointing to watch the Astros so far. They went from a narrow ALDS loss to last place in the division. The Angels are older, and they might have one last run in them, but right now just seem to be falling apart. Right now, it’s a tow way race between Seattle and Texas.

Current leaders
1. Baltimore Orioles (East)
2. Chicago White Sox (Central)
3. Seattle Mariners (West)
Wild Cards: Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers

NL East 
This has been surprisingly competitive – four teams are within 2.5 games of each other. The Nationals are a game ahead of the Mets and Phillies, and the latter two lead the wild card race. Given their rivalry, that could be a great one. The Marlins are at 20-17 under Don Mattingly, so perhaps they’re back on the way up. The one blemish is the Braves – they’re the worst team in the majors, and are 2-17 at home coming into today. They’re getting a new stadium next year, and it probably can’t come soon enough.

NL Central 
The best team in baseball so far has been the Chicago Cubs. They come in at 27-9, riding Jake Arrieta to a no-hitter and a 7-0 record so far. Things seem to be looking really good in Chicago right now for baseball. Wouldn’t it be something to have a Subway Series after 110 years? The Pirates are hanging tough, but need to catch up soon, or it’ll be over fast. The Cardinals are right behind them, but age is catching up with them. The Brewers and Reds are going nowhere, so I don’t see them making a run.

NL West 
Probably the weakest division, which is somewhat of a surprise. The Dodgers lead on percentage points over the Giants, but neither one is running away with the division. At 18-18, the Rockies are only 1.5 game back of both of them. Even Arizona and San Diego are both within four games. It looks kinda messy right now. For playoff purposes, the Dodgers own the slight tiebreaker over the Giants right now.

Current leaders
1. Chicago Cubs (Central)
2. Washington Nationals (East)
3. Los Angeles Dodgers (West)
Wild Cards: New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies

1956 World Series: Flatbush farewell

The 1956 World Series was the fifty-fourth year overall – and fifty-third played – of the modern World Series which began in 1903. Change was coming fast in Major League Baseball, as it would soon follow much of the country west. But as is always the case, one place’s gain is another’s loss. Brooklyn would have its last hurrah in baseball, and as the saying goes, turnabout is fair play.


(Photo courtesy of http://www.baseball-almanac.com

1956 World Series 
New York Yankees (AL) over Brooklyn Dodgers (NL), 4-3 

Managers: Casey Stengel (New York); Walter Alston (Brooklyn) 

Hall of Famers 
New York: George Weiss (executive), Casey Stengel (manager), Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Enos Slaughter 
Brooklyn: Walter O’Malley (executive), Walter Alston (manager), Don Drysdale, Roy Campanella, Sandy Koufax (dnp), Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider.

Series MVP: Don Larsen (Yankees)

Analysis
1956 would prove to be the final Subway Series for over four decades. It would be the last time Ebbets Field played host to a World Series game. Long derided as too small, owner Walter O’Malley began asking Robert Moses, one of New York’s premiere developers, for a chance to buy privately owned land to build a domed stadium. Moses refused, and the rumors began. In response, O’Malley began playing select games in Jersey City. Whispers of relocation began. Brooklyn managed to win by one game over the Milwaukee Braves, who had only relocated from Boston three years earlier. The Yankees had an easier road , finishing 97-57 and winning the pennant by seven games.

Opening at Ebbets Field, Sal Maglie gave up an early two-run home run to Mickey Mantle. But Maglie would settle down, pitching a complete game. The Dodgers rallied back against Whitey Ford in the second inning; Jackie Robinson homered and a Carl Furillo double drove in the tying run. One inning later, Gil Hodges hit a three-run home run to give the Dodgers a 5-2 lead. Each side got a run in the fourth inning and the scoring was done. The Dodgers won the first game 6-3.

In the second game, both sides scored early and often. Neither starter would survive the second inning, as it turned out. Joe Collins singled home a run in the first to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Don Newcombe, who had won the MVP and Cy Young Award that year, gave up five runs in the second inning. Opposing pitcher Don Larsen drove in a run with a single, and later in the inning, Yogi Berra hit a grand slam. It was 6-0 Yankees and Newcombe was removed for Ed Roebuck. But the Dodgers would fight back in the second, tying the score with six runs. A Roy Campanella sacrifice fly got the Dodgers on the board. Another run scored, and with the bases loaded, Duke Snider hit a grand slam to tie the score. Larsen was out, but his day would come. Don Bessent pitched seven innings for the Dodgers, allowing  only two more runs. It was 7-7 when Gil Hodges came through with two RBIs, giving the Dodgers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Hodges came through with two more RBI, and after a Hank Bauer flyout, the Dodgers were up 2-0 with a 13-8 win.

The Yankees would fight back in the next three games. This time, Whitey Ford would fare better. An early sacrifice fly gave the Dodgers the lead, but a Billy Martin home run tied the score. With the Dodgers leading 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth, it would be Enos Slaughter, a Cardinals holdover, who gave the Yankees a lead they’d not relinquish. He hit a three-run home run. Although the Dodgers got within a run, the Yankees got an insurance (and unearned) run on a double by Yogi Berra.The Yankees were back in the Series at 2-1 with a 5-3 win. Roger Craig took the loss for the Dodgers.

The Yankees tied it at two games apiece the next day, winning 6-2. Tom Sturdivant pitched a complete game for the Yankees. Home runs by Mantle and Hank Bauer proved to be the decisive blows.

Against conventional wisdom, Casey Stengel gave the ball to Don Larsen in Game 5. His method of letting the starting pitcher know was placing a ball inside his cleats. Pitching from an unusual no-windup motion, Larsen set down one man after another, only going to a three ball count on one hitter – Pee Wee Reese. The only hard hit ball came in the fifth inning, when Snider crushed a ball into the infamous “Death Valley” in center field. Mickey Mantle ran down the ball and caught it. Mantle had homered earlier in the fourth inning, and a Hank Bauer RBI gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead going into the top of the ninth. Don Larsen had a perfect game going for eight innings. He got Carl Furillo on a fly ball and Roy Campanella grounded out. Up came pinch-hitter Dale Mitchell. Mitchell worked the count to 2-2, fouling off several good pitches. On the next pitch, Larsen threw it slightly high. Home plate umpire Babe Pinelli called it strike three. Larsen had his perfect game, the first no-hitter in postseason history, and the only one in World Series history. The Yankees had stolen the mojo back from the Dodgers.


(Don Larsen’s unusual pitching motion paid dividends. Photo courtesy of http://www.yanksgoyard.com)

Going into Game 6, the Dodgers were on the verge of elimination. The game was scoreless going into the bottom of the tenth. In the bottom of the tenth, Yankees pitcher Bob Turley gave up a walk to Jim Gilliam. A sacrifice bunt and intentional walk set up an at-bat for Jackie Robinson. In what would prove to be his final career hit, Robinson singled to left field. Gilliam raced home for a 1-0 Dodgers victory and an evened Series. The Series would go the distance yet again.

If only Brooklyn could have held on for one more game. But it was over early for Don Newcombe against Johnny Kucks. Yogi Berra hit a two-run home run in the first inning. It would get worse for Newcombe. Berra hit another home run in the third inning, and it was 4-0 Yankees. The Yankees would get five more runs. A solo home run by Elston Howard knocked out Newcombe. The final blow came in the top of the seventh when Bill “Moose” Skowron hit a grand slam. It was 9-0 Yankees. It was over at Ebbets Field. Johnny Kucks was brilliant, allowing only three hits. In the end, Jackie Robinson would be the final at-bat. He struck out and the Yankees had won the Series. It would be his final at-bat of his career. They were planning to trade him to the rival Giants but he retired instead.

One year later, both the Giants and Dodgers would leave New York. Both O’Malley and Giants owner Horace Stoneham were unable to get new stadiums. Never again would New York City be called “the capital of baseball.” Many say that Brooklyn went into a state of mourning that still lasts. Many gave up on baseball altogether. Who can blame them? The Dodgers and Giants were headed for Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively. The game was now coast-to-coast, but the cost was almost too painful.

Fun Facts
This was a series of lasts: last games at Ebbets Field, last at-bats for Jackie Robinson, last Subway Series until the year 2000; Game 5 was the final game behind the plate for Babe Pinelli.

This was a mirror image of the previous year – the seventh game was the only game won by the road team, and the Yankees became the second team to rally from a 0-2 deficit to win a seven-game series. The previous year, the Dodgers were the first.

Johnny Kucks is the only person to pitch a seventh game shutout with a losing record (54-56).

Don Larsen’s perfect game was tempered when his ex-wife sued him for part of his World Series check after the Series ended.

Before his perfect game, Larsen was known as a hard-drinking party boy. He had gone 3-21 in 1954 with the Orioles.

Pee Wee Reese is the only person on either team to appear in every game of all seven Brooklyn-New York Subway Series.

Final Thoughts 
I can’t say anything. You know the story by now. Not fair to Brooklyn. Ebbets Field was gone four years later, and Flatbush only had tears awaiting for it.

References and Sources
Baseball Almanac
Baseball Reference
Retrosheet
Wikipedia
http://www.worldseries.com
http://www.yanksgoyard.com
100 Years of the World Series (Eric Enders)
The Boys of Summer (Roger Kahn)
Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns 
Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame…Walter O’Malley (ESPN Classic)
The Ultimate Book of Sports Lists (Andrew Postman, Larry Stone)
Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius (Bill Pennington)