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Howie Kendrick and a Place in Baseball History

November 1st, 2019 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

It was getting late for Howard “Howie” Joseph Kendrick.

He had a solid career. Of course he did. No one lasts 14 years in Major League Baseball without being solid. Solid enough to be paid $65 million over those 14 seasons. Good enough to have played in an All-Star Game in 2011 and received an MVP vote in 2014.

But it would not be unkind or unfair to suggest that Howie Kendrick — at 36 and in the twilight of his career — had never done something truly memorable in his baseball career. Nothing that would make a batch of baseball fans stand up and say, “Howie Kendrick? Of course I remember Howie Kendrick!”

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One NBA Fantasy Draft

October 22nd, 2019 · No Comments · Basketball, Fantasy Baseball, NBA

As the NBA season opens tonight, let’s pretend and believe some readers are interested in seeing how it went for a semi-ancient (both the league and the owners) in a six-team league.

Who went first?

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Cruising the Mediterranean, Epilogue

October 20th, 2019 · No Comments · tourism, Travel

We had a fine time. Almost-perfect weather, from Venice straight through to Rome/Civitavecchia, plenty to see and do but also time for relaxation and conversation.

A look back at 10 nights and 11 days onboard the Celebrity Constellation, fixing some oversights and passing on some thoughts about the trip.

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Cruising the Mediterranean, Day 10: Naples

October 19th, 2019 · No Comments · tourism, Travel, World Cup

The final full day on the Celebrity Constellation cruise offered a menu of attractions that pretty much overwhelmed even the most ambitious of shore-going travelers.

Start with Naples itself. One day cannot adequately convey the history and energy and madness of the First World city that most closely resembles a Third World city.

But then you might want to take a trip out of town. One option? The memorable ruins of Pompeii, destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius 20 centuries ago, but leaving behind a ghostly tableau of how Romans lived and played in the First Century AD.

Another option? A boat over to the island of Capri, known for a blue grotto, upscale tourism and the former home of the brutal Roman emperor Tiberius.

How about a bus trip to Sorrento, where ceramics of the sort many travelers adore are made by the truck load every day.

Or a boat ride down the Amalfi Coast, or a gastronomic tour of Napoli?

We went with Topic 1: A bus tour of the busiest, nuttiest, loudest big city in the civilized world. Hey, at least the garbage was being picked up this week. Or most of it, anyway.

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Cruising the Mediterranean, Day 9: Messina

October 18th, 2019 · No Comments · tourism, Travel

This was the catch-all day for things Sicilian.

Want to see bustling Messina? Today is the day. Intent on having a look at the self-impressed cliff-side mountain retreat Taormina? C’mon down. Fancy a peek at a smoking volcano? Etna isn’t all that far, is it?

The voyagers on the Celebrity Constellation awoke today to find their ship tied up at a dock just a few watery miles from the Italian mainland.

Messina is not really a destination; it is a jumping off point for Sicilian food and wine and culture.

I spent a total of about 25 minutes ashore. I saw Taormina once before, and thought it was interesting — till the cruise-ship people showed up in their hundreds and swamped the town.

Which is why I am going in a different direction today: Wondering what goes on below-decks on a major cruise ship.

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Cruising the Mediterranean, Day 8: Malta

October 17th, 2019 · No Comments · tourism, Travel

I became aware of the island country of Malta when I was a kid, reading about how 500 Knights Hospitaller led the defenders against the Ottoman Empire in the Great Siege of Malta, in the year 1565.

It is a wonderful yarn, the story of the few and the outgunned who clung on tenaciously against an empire that had suffered very few setbacks in its push to make the Mediterranean into an Ottoman lake.

That the defense was led by the 500 members of a military order that took its name from running hospitals during the Crusades … made it that much better. The notion of an elite force of fighting men with utter devotion to a noble cause, well, it’s hard for the western mind to resist.

What I expected as we steamed toward the little island midway between Sicily and Tunisia was some sort of way of investigating the battle.

What did I get?

A short day filled with disappointment.

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Cruising the Mediterranean, Day 7: Which Sea Is This, Anyway?

October 16th, 2019 · No Comments · tourism, Travel

We have entitled this travelogue of our 10-day outing “Cruising the Mediterranean”. But weren’t we in some other seas entirely, to get where we are now, headed south for Malta?

It can be argued that the Adriatic and Ionian seas are the only watery areas the Celebrity Constellation has passed over, in the past week.

But we have chosen to think of the bigger picture.

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Cruising the Mediterranean, Day 6: Corfu

October 15th, 2019 · No Comments · Austria, tourism, Travel

This was a city that mattered almost 3,000 years ago, a stepping stone from Greece to Italy. Unfortunately for Corfu, armies seeking to get across the final miles of the Adriatic Sea … aren’t as common as they were in the days of the Greeks and Romans.

Corfu at times made me think of the more battered parts of Los Angeles, from rusting cars parked in junk yards right on through the smog that cast a pall over the horizon.

We went ashore at our only Greek port of call on this cruise and decided, for lack of anything else particularly compelling, to take a cab up the mountain behind Corfu town to a museum dedicated to Achilles, one of the heroes of Homer’s Iliad.

The Achilleion, as it is rendered from Greek to English, at least has an interesting back story.

It starts with the glamorous Empress Elisabeth, taken as a wife in 1854 by Franz Josef, top man in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which at the time was a major player in European politics.

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Cruising the Mediterranean, Day 5: Kotor

October 14th, 2019 · No Comments · tourism, Tourists

The world is full of weird little places. Just have to go out and look around a bit, and you will find one.

Such as Kotor, a walled city of 13,000 people in the Republic of Montenegro, which has been independent only since 2006 — and which I can add to the list of Nations I Have Visited.

From Dubrovnik, a Croatian town with lots of character, we floated down the Adriatic to Kotor, a Montenegrin town with … lots of character, but not refined to occasional boredom, as is the case in Dubrovnik.

Kotor is surrounded by mountains, and is at the end of a winding channel of seawater that bores deep into the hills and provides some fine places to fish or sail or build a walled city.

It also is a very good place to invite stray cats to become semi-members of the family. But more on that in a moment.

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Cruising the Mediterranean, Day 4: Dubrovnik

October 13th, 2019 · No Comments · tourism, Tourists

Dubrovnik has had an interesting century or so. During most of that 100 years it was known for plenty of sun, steep geography, charm and low cost.

Then came a war, in the early 1990s, and a generation later something far less serious, but perhaps more thoroughly advertised, the ultra-popular cable-TV series “Game of Thrones”, much of which featured scenes filmed in and around Dubrovnik — mostly because it has buildings that look medieval.

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