Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ubaldo Jimizez, I Salute You

After a late breakfast at Golden Bear and a quick trip to a few stores, I headed home with my fiancee just in time to catch the White Sox broadcast on Fox. I saw the Sox lose another close game. I turned off the television and thought that my sports day had ended. It's never over until all the games are over.

I spent the rest of the night with the television and radio off. I was on a mission to find stickers of bald eagles to help my family ease a difficult date coming up in the next few days. Each anniversary of my uncle's suicide is a tense time for the family. It's gotten a little easier each year, but it's still a bit fresh in our minds.

Bald eagles and Harleys were the things that he loved. His daughter was the thing that he loved the most. I can't begin to imagine what she goes through every time the date rolls around. I don't pretend to know.

I start to remember the concerts that we attended together. Aerosmith. Ted Nugent. John Mellencamp. John Fogerty. Black Sabbath. Page & Plant. Every time a classic rock or blues artist hit the Chicagoland area, we would have a discussion on whether or not to get tickets. Sometimes we would go. Sometimes not.

Since he's been gone, I've tried to appreciate the simple joys in life. Let go of the complexities and complications of life and see things for what they truly can be. I keep coming back to the same things; life, love, friendship, music, writing and baseball. I can tie almost everything in my life to one or more of those basic elements.

The last time I saw a no-hitter, it was a perfect game from an easygoing southpaw by the name of Mark Buehrle. I didn't even see Ubaldo's no-hitter. I haven't bothered to check for highlights. I just heard about it a short while ago. I've seen them before. I don't need to rush to see the last out. I can already feel it. It is a symphony of joy and I am so happy for him.

This leaves three teams that have not had a no-hitter. I'm not surprised by the Tampa Bay Rays. They are still a relatively new team. I'm a bit surprised by the San Diego Padres. I would have thought that somewhere down the line, someone would have thrown one for them. I'm not shocked though. The New York Mets? That surprises me. Everyone knows that the pitcher who threw seven no-hitters started his career with the New York Mets. Not everyone realizes that he didn't throw one of those seven with the Mets. He only spent parts of five seasons with the Metropolitans.

Ubaldo's gem had everything. It could have fallen apart by working from the stretch due to six walks, but he took advice from his pitching coach and continued to work out of the stretch, as he had for most of the game. It was working so far, so why mess with what works? Sound advice. It had a game saving catch by the center fielder. Buehrle's gem had that too. It's funny how that works out.

I can remember rooting for Jiminez in the 2007 playoffs, all the way to the World Series. The Rockies were the team I latched onto, when they entered the league in 1993. The Marlins were cool, but the Rockies were a bit cooler. Along with my assortment of White Sox shirts in high school, I'd wear a Rockies shirt too.

My allegiances may have decayed, due to a strike and a downsizing to just the Sox, but I still have a soft spot for non-White Sox teams I followed pre-strike. When it comes down to it, I'm really just a fan of baseball in general. I can appreciate good baseball, wherever it comes from. I live for that. I breathe it in like a newly opened can of Perri-air on Spaceball One.

When I see or hear of amazing accomplishments like Ubaldo Jiminez's no-hitter, I think of my uncle. I think of everything he's missed in the past three years. I think of what he will be missing in the next few years. All this thinking makes me reach one conclusion. Enjoy these moments while you can. Relish in the fact that you can enjoy and appreciate these little slices of pure happiness. You never know when the next one will happen and that's part of the attraction.

When your team accomplishes a no-hitter, everyone who identifies with that team celebrates. When your team gets no-hit, you tip your cap and acknowledge that you were part of something historic and are happy for that privilege. When a no-hitter happens, every fan of baseball pauses and smiles. They know something special just happened.

Enjoy your accomplishment Ubaldo. You deserve every moment.

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