Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Phones Blew Up

The initial intention was a simple re-animation of Game Six of the 2011 World Series.  So, I tagged my some of my fellow compadres regarding that day in a group text message.  I included my brother in El Paso.  This was right before first pitch this Friday last, as the Texas Rangers visited Busch Stadium for the first time since the 2011 Fall Classic.

Well, the thread continued for the hours that netted a W for the Rangers -- yes -- at the hands of Nelly Cruz, who drove in the decisive two runs in the 9th.  In short, my brother and I "blew up" this thread with animated (at times too colorful) conversation reminiscing what we felt in Game 6.

October 27, 2011

There was a place called, Woody's.  There was a scheduled meeting at Woody's, but mostly there was a Game 6.  All the superstition and lore regarding baseball was in place by Yours Truly.  When the meeting adjourned, we focused all attention to the flat screen. 

Just a year before, Game Six of the 2010 ALCS was completed by Neftali Feliz.  A-Rod was caught looking at the last strike, which sent the Texas Rangers to their first World Series in franchise history.  I cannot deny I stormed to a nearby corner of the ballpark.  With one of my flags in hand, I was able to be part of the celebration, as fans were slowly making their way out.  Arlington was electric that night.    

Fast forward to our evening at Woody's.  Ear buds broadcasting Nadel's radio call in my ears (I always have the radio on for baseball). 

I won't relive the entire grueling, but fascinating game.  That's plastered all over the Internet.  But, after Beltre and Cruz hit back-to-back HRs, to give Feliz a 6-4 lead in the bottom of the 9th, and with one strike away from winning the 2011 Fall Classic, Freese, like Aaron "Bleeping" Boone did the Red Sox in 2003, put a ball out of Cruz's reach in RF.  The commentary of why and how he missed that ball has been discussed ad nauseum.  Nelly was compared to Buckner.  Yes, Knight turned third and scored in 1986 for the Mets from a routine ground ball missed by Bucker at first.  Yes, Freese turned this ball into a triple and tied the game in the bottom of the ninth.

Extra innings.  When Josh "This Isn't a Baseball Town" Hamilton put a different ball in the RF bleachers in the very next inning, I left the contingency at Woody's, and went home to my ladies.  We were sure the ghosts of baseball had left the Rangers dugout.  This.  Had.  To.  Be.  The.  Moment.

Feldman replaced Feliz, and also had one strike left for all the marbles.  Freese, however, had other ideas.  The St. Louis area native put that pitch in the center field grassy area over the wall, and Joe Buck in a very timely manner said, "We will see you...tomorrow."  I'm not a fan of Buck, but he nailed that call for baseball fans.

I knew it was over.  I didn't even watch Game 7.  I know, "What kind of fan are you?" 

The emotional toil from Game 6 was enough for me.  I couldn't watch Game 7. 

So, today, on this beautiful Sunday in Arlington, the Rangers find themselves at the cusp of sweeping the top-ranked Cardinals at Busch stadium.  Nelly's RBI on Friday made us feel a lot better about that fly ball. 

What this series means this season, who knows?  There's still a lot of baseball to play. 

Ooooh, but if feels so good! 

Where were you in Game Six?



Monday, June 17, 2013

The Case of the Tooth Fairy

**On advise of counsel, and because part of my sentence did include a probationary period to abstain from speaking of this event, I caution you of this:  If the Tooth Fairy still visits your home, please be weary of who reads this story...

 Aytana Najera, plaintiff


Javier E. Najera, defendant

Ordinarily, a Tooth Fairy visit is mostly a private family matter.  It brings joy in the way of money to the loser of the tooth, and memories for parents who see their children grow and mature, unless of course the Tooth Fairy failed to leave the ransom under the pillow.

I was served with a lawsuit from my youngest, Aytana, when such an oversight occurred.  I was accused of usurping the Tooth Fairy on two different counts, 1. By placing the money under the pillow myself to cover for Tooth Fairy, who seemingly had better things to do, or 2. By actually being the Tooth Fairy myself and flat out lying of its existence.

Exhibit A.  Aytana is questioning her first witness, which actually should be the other way around, 'cause if memory serves, Itzayana  was her attorney.  The Honorable Lizbeth Moreno presided, while the court decorum did not mind Antonio wearing shorts.  The doggy?  Well, it is after all family court, and if one can wear shorts to court, then surely a canine spectator is OK.

Yes, mom and grandma were sworn-in witnesses to the case at hand.  Don't mind the casual dress of the court bailiff.

Preparedness was key to this case. 

Judge Lizbeth on the bench.

Straight out of court reporting school.
Evidence presented was very weak on my behalf, and technology was not cooperating. 

Though the judge found in favor of the plaintiff Aytana, mock family court was a lot of fun!

So, you see, on hot summer afternoon in 2010, on the way to the first Rangers pennant, the case of the Tooth Fairy was resolved in the eyes of justice.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

El Gato, 1930 - 2013

Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico -- Don Pedro "El Gato" Aguirre, 82, died peacefully at his home.  He loved three things: Baseball, his family and baseball.  Don Pedro “El Gato” Aguirre, a most outstanding citizen, a longtime veteran of his city’s police force passed away the 13th day of March, 2013, shortly after the white smoked was seen in Rome.

Mass of Christian Burial  was held at 7 a.m. last Friday at Casa de Jesus de Cuidad Juarez, where he was also in state on Thursday.  Interment followed on Friday at Recinto de la Oracion.  Family and the Sisters offered several rosaries and prayers for him.

What we never know about death is the day or the hour.  The faith of the Christian believer should give us – his survivors – peace that our loved one is now in the presence of God, free of imperfection, free of suffering and free of mortality.

If it could only be that simple.

For some, this fateful day comes only as the result of many, many years of suffering and pain.  For El Gato, it came with Alzhiemer’s and more than 12 years of steady decline, until the illness took with it every ounce of his being.

They are years and years my grandmother, mother and aunts toiled with day after day, giving him the care he needed. 

He is my maternal grandfather, but he made it clear he never wanted to be called, “grandpa” or “abuelo”.  He didn’t like the sound of that word, and in many ways, my childhood is filled with countless memories with him -- more as a friend -- than a grandson. 

Most importantly, he was a prominent member of the city’s baseball lore, inducted into Ciudad Juarez Hall of Fame some years ago.  He played when “peloteros” kept their athletic build with hot dogs and beer.  He played when salaries in baseball were nothing, and being part of the magical game was truly for love of the game.  The likes of Mickey Mantle and Jackie Robinson covered the airwaves in Major League Baseball in that era, but in his world the name "El Gato" made constant headlines as the city’s best catcher and clean-up hitter.

El Gato suffered a career ending injury during his playing years as a catcher, which led him to a 30-year career as a police officer.  However, during that time, baseball was never far away.  As he was enfrocing the law on the streets, he was also making his name known as an umpire on the weekends.  The blue uniform suited him well.  He was part of the umpire corps, who protected themselves from pitches with a large foam shield behind home plate.  God help those who disputed a call with El Gato!  He would become the president of the umpires association for the city.

He gave us many memories, memories riding in that brown four-door Ford LTD always on the way to a bullfight or a ballgame with the 1911 .45 under the seat.  His influence in the city was such that we never paid at any gate.  We always had choice seats, and it seemed everybody in town knew, El Gato.

He is one of the last from The Greatest Generation in my life.  He exemplified dedication, character, and a no-nonsense way of doing things, which has left a permanent impression to those of us who remain behind. 

The last time he recognized us was in 2001.  I can’t say when he stopped understanding baseball, but I sincerely hope it has come back to life for him in some way, somewhere.

He will be able to enjoy Opening Day in 2013 from the best seats in the house.  

He was preceded in death by his daughter, Martha Aguirre Felix in 1983.

He is survived by his wife, Amalia Aguirre Guevara; daughters, Agustina Aguirre Najera and husband Jose, Sister Aurora Aguirre and Dora Aguirre; grandchildren, Javier E. Najera and wife, Idaly, Jorge L. Najera and wife, Minerva and Monica Najera-Tellez and husband, Andy; great-grandchildren, Itzayana and Aytana Najera, Israel and Galilea Najera, and Ilianna Hernandez; and a host of extended family and friends.