Sunday, April 21, 2013

Baseball and More

The email said, and I quote, "You MUST go see 42. Incredible movie". It was from Brad my myeloma friend in New York.  I planned to see it, but I wasn't sure when. After his email, I decided I should see it ASAP.  I saw it this morning and it was awesome. I knew the story, generally. Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play in the major leagues. But how it all came about and what he faced was new to me.

But what's also interesting is how things fall together in patterns. I've always been a football fan first and foremost. We know about my healthy obsession with the Minnesota Viking.  But growing up I was a bit of a baseball fan. I never played a second of little league, although my best friend growing up, Chris, played through high school and even a couple of years at San Diego State. (see related post about my San Diego college career). Lately, though, I'm being pointed towards baseball and I am becoming a fan again.

Chris was an Astos fan. He loved Joe Niekro (knuckle ball throwing younger brother of Phil). I was a Phillies fan. Greg Luzinski was my favorite.  Chris and I went Dodger games once in a while. We even went to a World Series game in 1976, Dodgers vs Yankees. We sat jut above the visitor's dugout. Chris's step mom was the executive secretary to Chuck Barris of Gong Show fame. With her in that position, Chris and I got a lot of perks. Rose Bowl games, Dodger games, Palm Springs weekends. Not so bad.  When I left UCLA the first time (see related post about my San Diego State college career), I got a job for Chuck Barris as a gopher for his production company, followed by a promotion to being his personal gopher. Did I mentioned the ooga horn story or drug dealing auto mechanic?

Anyhow, Chris and I went to several Dodgers vs Phillies game. We'd sit above the Phillies dugout and yell for first baseman Dick Allen to toss us a ball. He never did. Usually Chris and I rode the RTD bus to games, until we got our driver's licenses. Fairly long bus ride from West LA (well Beverly Hills if you want to be exact) (South of the tracks to be even more exact). I knew those Phillies teams by heart.Tonight I tried to remember the lineup from those hey days, and 30 years later, I think I got it.  Bob Boone behind the plate. Dick Allen, Dave Cash, Larry Bowa and Mike Schmidt in the infield. Luzinski, Gary Maddox, and Bake McBride in the outfield. Quirky lefty Steve Carlton was the number one starter and Tug McGraw came out of the bullpen.  They won the World Series in 1980 with a slightly different lineup

In school, during classes, I'd keep track of the Phillies won/loss record and scores. The old fashioned way. Newspaper, pen and paper. The morning paper didn't always have the late night scores, so sometimes I'd be a day behind.  Chris's Dad, Nick, got the afternoon paper however, the Herald Examiner, so often I'd go to Chris's house after school to get caught up on scores.  If you are ever on the 300 block of South Bedford Drive in Beverly Hills, my name should still be scratched out in the sidewalk. I spent a lot of time there during my senior year of high school. In fact, on prom night, Chris borrowed my piece of crap yellow Vega, while I stayed with Nick watching tv and slowly sipping some kind of drink.  Nick was so cool. He'd take us to the horse races and could talk sports all day long.  I ran a lot back then and he dubbed me Matt the Scat.

Before getting back to the topic of baseball, one quick Chuck Barris story. His daughter was a year behind us in school. But when I began working for Chuck directly, I'd often run errands for her. I liked her. Somehow I got her to agree to have a drink with me. But in my cords and my Converse, I was over matched. One and one date only with her. I sent her flowers once. She later reconciled with her old boyfriend.

Back to baseball.  In Seattle for the Big Climb, we all went on a tour of the Mariners Stadium.  I love stadiums. Stadiums and airports, both rank right up there for me. Oh, as do casinos.  Anyhow that Mariners stadium tour was right before this season started. It got me fired up for baseball in a way I hadn't been for decades.  I joined a fantasy league this year. I do fantasy football every year. Baseball I had done once before and it wasn't fun. Too much work. But this season I wanted to play again. I think it gives me something to think about, to focus on. I can check scores on my ipad, I can listen to radio broadcasts for any team. It's soothing. Baseball in the background it turns out is relaxing. I think it is good for my healing process. Tonight  I had to take a bath, hopefully my last for a while. I've had to take baths to keep the port operation site dry.  Tomorrow though, it is back to showers and I can remove the dressing. No more pain, no more swelling though, so that is a good thing. Thursday this week, I do chemo in the arm again. Hello bruise. During my bath tonight, I listened to the last few innings of the Phillies/Cardinals game. It was the only game on. Phillies won.  Interesting note...Philadelphia was one of the more difficult places for Jackie Robinson to play. The manager and the team tossed a lot of racial insults at him.

I want to go to some games this year. We may go to New York this summer. If so, I am for sure going to a Yankees game. I've never been to a game at Wrigley in Chicago or Fenway in Boston. That must change. A Twins game in my virtual hometown of Minneapolis is in order. I better get to these places while I can.

Also of note, I am hosting another Cure Talk Panel talk on June 20. Again the focus will be on myeloma, working and stress. How to manage it all.  I just got an email while writing this that the Arizona Diamondbacks batting coach, Don Baylor a myeloma survivor, has agreed to do the June 20 event. Don is a former league MVP and I believe Manager of the Year. He won the MVP playing for the Angels in 1979 and in fact Chris and I saw him play against the Orioles in the playoffs, driving up from San Diego. Well we left from Poway to be more exact. Chris and I had a roommate, also named Chris, from the SDSU baseball team. Chris number two was from Champaign Urbana, Illinois, but had family in the San Diego suburb of Poway. Chris and Chris once spent Thanksgiving there. I stayed down south at our apartment to go to the crazy family of a girl I was dating. It sucked and I left. In the darkness, I made a 30 mile trip on my scooter that topped out at 25 MPH to Poway.  Mind you it was almost all freeway. Ah, the things we do as kids. Chris number two had a cousin named Kelly, a beach blond. We became friends, but never went out. A couple of years after leaving San Diego, I was visiting Chris number one. He still lives in San Diego. On my drive back to LA I stopped and visited Kelly. She lived on her own and had a young baby.  She was my age. Maybe 22 at the time. I went to the store with her and remember feeling so odd, like folks were looking at us, wondering why such young kids had a baby already.

Don Baylor has agreed to do Cure Talk. Awesome. I'd say going to a Diamondbacks games needs to be on my schedule as well.

How about my myeloma? Well, that's all fine. We saw Berenson Friday. It was a quick visit. He said I am doing great and to keep doing what I am doing. The bad protein in my urine, which is created by the myeloma, is at its lowest point since this journey started. That is good. We also saw the kidney doctor, Dr Levine (I had been going to Doc Zoller, but switched due to her dire predictions for me).  Dr Levine was also happy with my status (and weight loss) and just relaxed some of my dietary restrictions. That is fantastic. Per a suggestion, that means I can have a Blizzard from Dairy Queen on May 2, my two year cancerversary.

Tonight I also read a few other myeloma blogs. Interesting stuff. I learn a lot. I feel stupid at times, I really am not as in tune with the technical aspect of myeloma, as perhaps I should be. But I must be careful reading other blogs. If I over do it, it's like a slap in the face. Reminding me of the power of myeloma and the potential for it to come back. Which is why I need to get to some baseball games It's soothing, healing and will give me something to focus on. Must keep my mind occupied.

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Berenson Oncology Success Rate

 Some reading about my myeloma specialist's success rate. A press release and an article from Targeted Oncology.