Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Fool in the Stands

So it’s Back to the Future Day. The day that the Cubs were supposed to win the World Series against Miami (ironic that the Florida Marlins changed to Miami a few years back). Well, while that obviously is not going to come true this year (though the Cubs still might have a shot), the results of last night’s Kansas City and Toronto game brought a slight smile to my face.
It’s not that I inherently care which team wins the series – though there was a time back when the Expos were still around that I was hoping for an all Canadian World Series when they and the Blue Jays had both made the play offs that year – but if Toronto ends up losing, that would be OK with me, and it’s all a result of the actions of the fans during their game with the Texas Rangers last week. The short of it was that the Toronto catcher was throwing the ball back to the pitcher and instead hit the Kansas City batter who was preparing himself in the batter’s box. The ball rolled into the infield, allowing the KC runner on third base to score the go ahead run in the game. The Umpires ruled it a live ball, after review, and thus confirming that the run was good. It seemed that there were few who disagreed with how it played out – except for the Toronto fans.
As a result, quite a few of them in the stands decided to show their displeasure with the result by throwing things on to the field. Of course, most of what was tossed never made it out of the stands, and in fact, a woman and her baby were nearly hit with a beer can (the baby ended up getting sprayed with the contents of the can as it sailed near them). Needless to say that those types of reactions are a complete disgrace, but unfortunately, it seems to be more the norm in the sporting world – be it the fans acting unruly, or the athletes themselves engaging in a round of fisticuffs (or worse) with someone – usually their significant other of the moment. And it’s not just limited to American sports – heck I think it’s even worse overseas when it comes to Soccer (or Football as is proper for that neck of the woods).
I do give credit to the Toronto players who were trying to get everyone calmed down so that the game could continue. Personally, if I was a player on the team, I would have grabbed the stadium microphone and told those people straight up that they need to stop acting like a-holes and get a life. As a player, I would have been ashamed to have people like that rooting for me.
Maybe it’s me, but I find it hard to understand people who get so involved and worked up in a sporting event that they someone feel that these kinds of actions are an appropriate response when something doesn’t go the way of their team. I’ll root for teams and players, and I have my favorites in a few sports, but ultimately, whether a team wins the relevant championship in their respective sport or not, has little impact on most people’s lives – unless of course you’re a gambler and have money riding on the outcome – but’s a story for another blog perhaps.
My team just won the game?
            Woo hoo … now let me get back to vacuuming the floor. After all, I don’t think Peyton Manning nor Chase Utley are coming to my house to clean my toilet any time soon.
             I just can’t get all that excited over the results of a sporting event in which I am not actually a participant. I couldn’t even tell you more than a couple players at the most who are on any team that I root for. I always find it amusing when someone starts engaging me in conversation about a particular team or other if I happen to be wearing a hat or t-shirt with their logo on it. I just nod my head and try to offer an opinion or two that sound fairly plausible or credible, but I pretty much could not care less about what the franchise management is doing to the team. I still have to go to work. I still have to feed the kids and the animals. I still have to clean the house. Nothing about the outcome of a game is going to change any of that, or make my life any better. For people to act like they do on the outcome of a game or a play is just asinine to me, especially when it escalates to the point that it did in the Toronto game.
             So maybe because of that, I am a little more engaged than I normally would be in the outcome of the series between the Royals and the Blue Jays, and am rooting a little bit harder for Kansas City to come out on top.

Oh yeah – and go Cubbies!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Extra Life

And so another month has gone by in a blink of the eye. The weather is turning, the hurricane became a bust, and Abigail became a 1-year-old, who is already addicted to the sweet stuff. Over the past year, if I give myself enough time before or after work, I’ll drive the highway off which the hospital is located where she was born at the end of last September. I remember thinking how nice and upscale it is and not minding staying a few days there (for good things of course), until the third day after Abby was born and all we wanted to do was get her home and enjoy the new life God gave to us. The shininess had worn off by then. I guess it didn’t help that Erin still had to go to school, and I still had to get to work the rest of the week, and of course the animals still needed food and water. Still, the hospital was a heck of a lot nicer than the one in which Erin was born.

It never ceases to amaze me every day that despite still being a baby just how intelligent children seem to be at this age. That’s one of the few things I remember about Erin at that point in time. Even before Abby started crawling, back when she was in the rolling phase, you could see her look around and set her mind on going somewhere or getting something and heading off in that direction to reach her goal. You can look in her eyes and know she’s up to something. I never thought I would say this when I was younger, but it’s so much fun having a baby in the house … again.

That could be one of the reasons why I’ve gotten involved in a special project the last couple of years. I’ve always been a Gamer, and have always enjoyed being able to escape the real world for a time by heading on an adventure in some dungeon in a Computer Role-Playing Game (CRPG) or building up a small village castle in a game called Stronghold, as well as a more modern city in one of the SimCity games. Never did I think that I would be able to do anything more than that with games (though there were always thoughts about being able to make a living like all those Professional Gamers in South Korea), but that changed when I heard about an annual charity event called Extra Life a couple of years ago when I was playing an on-line game called Defiance.

The developers of the game are one of several gaming industry companies that sponsor the Extra Life event every year that helps to bring in millions of dollars to the Children’s Miracle Network of Hospitals. So I decided to learn a little bit more about the event and the organization that runs it, and after watching the video that gave some background on how the event got started (check it out for yourself with the link below – it’s well worth the 13 minutes to watch), I felt compelled to join in the cause and do what I can to help raise money for the event.

Essentially, the event is a 24 hour marathon – not unlike those annual Jerry Lewis telethons from oh so long ago, where gamers get people to sponsor them as they play games over the course of 24 hours around the last weekend in October or the first weekend in November. The details can be found in the video and on the Extra Life website (, so I’ll spare the words giving them here in favor of why I wanted to help support this event.

As a father, I was brought to tears after watching the video, and it still affects me profoundly every time I watch it up to this day. No parent wants their child to be hurt or to feel pain. Yet every day, thousands of kids across the country spend their days lying in a hospital bed, suffering from a myriad of serious diseases and other ailments. Many years ago, I had a co-worker whose young daughter was one of those kids, and I could see the fear and worry in his eyes every day as he thought about what she had to go through in order to save her life. I could not imagine having to go through that with Erin or Abby, and I truthfully don’t know how I would be able to live every day knowing one of them was hurting and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I am fortunate that this is something I only have to think about and not actually experience, and hope I never have to. However, there are all those kids, and their families, going through those things every day, and thanks to Extra Life, I can feel like I am doing something to help ease their suffering, even if just for a little while.

So starting Friday, November 6th, at 8:00 PM Eastern Time, I will be participating in my third consecutive Extra Life marathon. Every penny that I raise from now until the end of 2015 will go to the CMN hospital that I choose to sponsor, which is the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. It may not be much, but at least I can feel good that I am doing what I can to help the kids in CHOP and their families get some of the care and comfort that they need. I hope that everyone who reads this can share it with their friends and family, and tell them to keep on sharing it as well. Unfortunately, despite the good that Extra Life does, it seems that news organizations are more interested in running stories about gamers shooting up groups of people instead of gamers doing something they love to help children get healthier.

And now for the shameless begging … This year I am hoping to reach a modest goal of $300 raised for CHOP, and I am hoping that each and every person reading this blog, and those they pass it on to, can help me reach that goal. Even if it’s only a $1 donation, every single penny is welcome and appreciated. Everyone is also invited to join me during my marathon as I enjoy one of my favorite hobbies for a great cause. You can watch me via a live stream on and join me in the chat room to root me on - or just keep me awake! I hope to also have some special family guests pop in during the marathon.

Thank you everyone for reading and I hope I can count on your support this year!

To make a donation, visit my participant page:

The Extra Life Video: