Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving...Sports Edition.

What I'm thankful for this year...

* I'm thankful for another World Series win by the Red Sox. You spend your entire life living through heartbreak after heartbreak, wondering if you will ever witness the Sox win a World Series, then suddenly they win two of them in 4 years. Which brings me to...

* I'm thankful for John Henry, Larry Luchino and Tom Werner. They have done the impossible since buying the Red Sox a few years back; they've somehow managed to cultivate a winning mentality in Red Sox Nation without laying waste to the traditions and history. Fenway Park for example - while previous owners have cried that they needed to tear it down and build a state of the art stadium to compete, the new owners simply tweaked it, added seats over the Green Monster, and continued to develop new revenue streams in other places. The fact that Red Sox are on the verge of a mini dynasty if they win it all again next year...well, all of Red Sox Nation has a lot to be thankful for. Speaking of which...

* I'm thankful for young players such as Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz. They are so fun to watch and they give us hope that the Sox will compete for years to come. They are one half of what makes the Sox such a great team - a good blend of young studs and seasoned veterans. And speaking of seasoned veterans...

* I'm thankful that the Red Sox have re-signed my current favorite player, Mike Lowell and one of my all-time favorite players, Curt Schilling. And that they did not make a play for Alex Rodriguez (AKA, "The Cooler"). Things are good in the Nation right now, the last thing we needed was the constant controversy that "Gay-Rod" would have brought. And speaking of controversy...

* I'm thankful for the 2007 New England Patriots. For the new guys like Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth. For the old guard, guys like Bruschi, Vrabel, Brady, Faulk and Harrison. The Patriots were so bad for so long that watching what this year's team is doing doesn't seem real. It's like I'm playing the season on Tecmobowl or something. We're witnessing history. I don't give a damn that the rest of the NFL hates the Pats; I couldn't be more thankful to be a fan and it's all because of one man. Which reminds me...

* I'm thankful for Bill Belichick. I don't care that he got caught doing something that plenty of other teams have been doing for years. I don't care that he dislikes and distrusts the media. What I care about is the way he has molded the Patriots into a juggernaut. How he has won three Superbowls and is on pace for a fourth. How, when many of us couldn't see it at the time, he realized that replacing a pro bowl QB with a sixth round draft pick that nobody had heard of was the right thing to do. How he is able to pluck supposedly "washed up" players off the scrap heap and turn them into valuable cogs in the Patriots Machine. How he has built a team that top tier free agents are actually willing to take less money to join. How he has created a system and atmosphere that can turn malcontents into team players and model citizens. Take your spygate and shove it up your culo...I wouldn't trade BB for anything. He's given Boston fans our first dynasty since the great Celtics teams of the 80's. Speaking of whom...

* I'm so thankful that the Celtics have finally become fun to watch again. I'm thankful for the new "Big 3" of course but I'm equally thankful for the "other guys" who are providing legitimate hope of a 17th banner; Posey, House, Perkins, Allen, Rondo, Pollard, Big Baby Davis...and yes, even Brian Scalabrine. It's a shame that all the focus and credit for the C's hot start has been given to Pierce, Garnett and Allen but I am extremely thankful for the role players as well as their play has been impressive. I don't want this season to ever end! And speaking of seasons ending...

* I'm thankful that Notre Dame's season will soon mercifully be over. I don't think I've ever seen a worse college football team in my life than this year's edition of the not-so-Fighting Irish. I'm thankful that it will all soon be over and we can start looking to the future.

* I'm thankful that my beloved Italy - the Azzuri - are World Champions and have just topped their qualifying group for Euro 2008 next year. During my 6 years in Italy I watched every single match the Azzuri played so it has been great to relish in their current success.

Overall, I am very thankful this year because - Notre Lame aside - I am in the middle of the best hot streaks that any fan has ever seen. This will probably never happen again so I'm enjoying every minute of it.

2007 is indeed a year in which a Boston sports fan has quite a bit to be thankful for. And 2008 is looking like it may be even better...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Grammy is here.

She arrived yesterday morning and the X Man has not stopped playing with her since then. He sure loves his Grammy.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

People I Miss

I started thinking about people I miss; whether they are friends and family from back home or people who I have met in my travels. Although I know I will regret this since there are bound to be people I will forget and who will think that I've snubbed them on purpose, I'm going to spend the next few minutes trying to think of people who have made their mark on my life and whom I miss considerably since I moved to Europe back in 1998.

I'll start with Pepere. The man that I admire most in this world. WW2 vet, sacrificed everything for his family regardless of the cost. I can only hope to be a fraction of the man that he is. They just don;t make men like him anymore and that's a shame.

Eric, my brother. We were born a year apart and spent much of our lives apart for various reasons. But for some strange reason, through it all, nobody understands me more than Eric does. We have a unique bond, as only brothers can have I guess.

My parents, Judy and Dick. Divorced when I was very young but I've learned many life lessons from both of them. Judy in particular, struggled her whole life but still made sure that we had everything we needed. I could never repay her for everything she has done for me in my life. Dad, aka Dick, gave me my love of the outdoors. I miss the conversations we used to have. He married a total sweetheart a few years back named Nancy. She is a wonderful lady and I really regret living so far away and not being able to spend more time getting to know her. Dick has very good taste.

Steve Lester. My love for Steve-O is well documented on this blog. Steve and I became friends in high school but it wasn't until I arrived in Germany in 1998 that our friendship really took off. Since then we have shared so much that I can honestly say he has become my best friend. It is no small thing to say that I - as well as Virginia and the X Man - look forward to his annual visits more than any other. When Steve-O is here, all is right with the world. I only wish he could visit twice a year...

Giampietro e Agnese. Our neighbors in Italy. They really became our surrogate parents during our time in Italy. They often had us often for dinner, taught us so much about Italy, and practically adopted the X Man as their own grandchild. When we finally had to say goodbye, poor Agnese bawled her eyes out and still calls us once a month to talk to the X Man. When I think of how much I miss them, my heart hurts. In some ways, I was closer to them than my own family.

Mike and Jen (Hen) Buczynski. Mike was my best friend for many years before I came to Europe back in 1998. We had so much in common and I used to spend so much time over their house that I probably should have had my own room. We hardly ever talk anymore since I've been in Europe but when we do it's like we never parted. To me, that's the true test of a friendship. Our biggest bond was always the Boston sports teams - especially the Red Sox so the past few years has been really tough since we have had to rejoice in the Sox success alone. But we always make it a point to talk on the phone whenever the Sox are in the World Series.

Dave "Slav" Broussard. Dave and I have been best friends since the 4th grade. To this day we spend hours talking about sports and this and that. Dave is unique among my friends in that he is the only American friend I have whose passion for soccer matches mine. Dave is like a brother to me. Has been since the 4th grade.

Eugene Lynn "Gino" Martin. What can I say about Gino. Those of you who follow this blog should know what he means to me. In a short time, Gino has become like a brother to me as well. If you want tot know how much Gino means to me, consider this; when I went to the States last spring, my hotel offered 60 free minutes of free calling each night anywhere in the US...I called Gino and talked sports with him almost every night for the full 60 minutes. I miss the hell out of that sonofabitch. Gino and I once had a deal in place with AFN in Vicenza to let us host a weekly on-air sports talk show. Unfortunately it never materialized, but it doesn't matter - we would have killed. Gino, I know you're reading this so let me just're the Michael Wilbon to my Tony Kornheiser.

Fausto. Those of you who read my blog regularly know of my Italian buddy, Fausto. He is awesome, a true Italian and I miss the hell out of him.

My sister Tracy. In a way, I'm sort of living Tracy's dream - living amongst the castles and fairytale cities of Europe. Growing up, we didn't get along that well but as we got older we have developed a bond and I often tell my wife how much I wish she could spend some time with us here so we could share a little bit of this place together. Tracy also has a little boy a couple months older than the X Man so it would be so perfect for them to grow up together. Unfortunately, as it is, they only see each other once a year or so.

Mark and Jane Santaw. Friends we met in Vicenza, it was almost like a match made in Heaven. For one thing, Jane is a Filipina (born and raised in the US) so her and Virginia get along swimmingly. Someone in Virginia's family is from the same town in the Philippines as someone from Jane's family but Virginia is in a bad mood as I'm writing this and doesn't want to answer my questions (must be pregnancy hormones, which means it's my fault as usual...) so I'm not sure exactly who, what, where, etc. And in a strange coincidence, Mark was actually a high school classmate of my cousin, Brent.

Steve and Tammy Lentz. My best friends during my first two years in Germany. We shared so much in such a short time. They're back in Philly now and someday I really hope to be able to go to the city of brotherly love to visit them. I'm confident that we could go years without talking and still go out for a pint and pick up like we never left. Steve and Tammy are special people.

Mike and Karen Rayfield. Sort of the Steve and Tammy of Italy for me. I was devastated when they left. I owe so much to them.

Ranger and Simonetta Pitt. Two of our best friends in Italy. Many of the people and places in Italy I came to love, I owe to Ranger (John) Pitt. I often say that were it not for him, I would not have developed the love for Italy that I have. He has such a "joie de vivre", he almost forced me to appreciate everything that Italy had to offer and I am eternally grateful.

The residents of Caldogno. Seriously, practically the entire town of Caldogno adopted us as their own. There are many people I miss there; Sylvia (Bar da Sylvia), Luca, Antonio (Pizzeria Antonio), and so many others.

Danielle and Elisa Rossato. Danielle is the owner of "The Sports Bar" in Caldogno. Elisa is his daughter. I met them during my first week living in Caldogno as they were my local bar. In my 6+ years there I probably spent more time at their bar than any other place. It was my home away from home. They treated me like part of the family and it made my time there more enjoyable than you can ever imagine. When I married Virginia and had the X Man, they both were also adopted as part of the family. To this day, it's free candy and ice cream whenever the X Man goes in there. God I miss that place.

You know...there are so many others that I know some of you are going to be offended that I forgot you. I apologize now for that but I've been writing for too long and I need a break (and a refill of my vino!) so I will end here. Besides, I doubt most of you have even bothered to read the whole thing so far, lol...anyway, if I have forgotten you, please forgive me. There are really just too many of you to remember. Until next post; onward and upward...

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Don't Tase me Bro!

The X Man in his Halloween costume (click on image to enlarge):