This space has been left in the wilderness while other, perhaps more important things, have usurped its spot in the routine. Work has typically been a place where I am able to keep focused, keep my head down, and keep crossing days off on the calendar. For most of August however, it has been a source of frustration and disappointment and seemingly never-ending stream of problems and mystery. I won’t bore you with the details since neither of us are metallurgical experts.
Because every day here is seemingly the same and days and weeks bleed into one another, it makes it difficult to keep track of time. And with that, it becomes difficult to choose what should be made priority. It is hard to justify spending a Sunday afternoon doing laundry when it can be spent much more enjoyably on an outdoor adventure. And why should I struggle in a cramped, outdated kitchen crafting an amateur meal when I can find a variety of different restaurants within walking distance? Many nights it is easier to prioritize a public dining experience over network TV and mac & cheese.
What remains a top priority and base of my weekly routine is Sunday Night Pizza. Last night was a surprisingly fantastic food experience despite the nondescript location and sketchy parallel parking situation. P3 Artisan Pasta delivered the goods, even if the service was leisurely and awkward. The simple Margherita pizza with added homemade sausage was as good as any pizza I have had in California or Chicago or anywhere else. But I’ll keep it a secret in this tiny corner of the internet. Another recent SNP experience was at Me-N-Ed’s which offered a friendly reminder of home, laid-out very similarly to Barnaby’s. Food is ordered at one window with drinks ordered elsewhere. The dining room is dark and wooded with outdated furniture and the kitchen offers a viewing area for curious kids to appreciate the pizza-making process.
There is a lot to cover since the last time I posted on LONG BEACH:
- Mid-August featured a pilgrimage to St Louis to reunite with the Supermen and celebrate Young Davey’s beautiful wedding. Times for the whole crew getting back together are now few and far between as we are spread out across the country: Two back home near Chicago, two soaking up the California sunshine, and one relishing his perfectly private life near Washington DC. We goofed around, we played cards, we drank too much, we lost money at the casino, we dined like princes, and we congratulated Davey as he made the leap into adulthood.
- Part of the St Louis extravaganza was a Cardinals night game at Busch Stadium against the Pirates. It was 7-0 in the top of the first inning before we took our seats, but we still enjoyed the festivities. The game in St Louis was the first of three I witnessed in August, also seeing games in Anaheim (against the White Sox) and Los Angeles (against the Cubs) where we missed seeing a no-hitter by one night.
- I enjoyed a work dinner that felt more like an awkward date. I wasn’t sure whether or not we would order a drink, and I certainly didn’t consider the possibility of him being a vegetarian. Regardless, I enjoyed my FRIED CHICKEN & BISCUITS before we walked down the pier sharing conversation over and ice cream cone and oceanside sunset.
- I tagged along to an LA party that was the most “LA” function I have thus far attended. There may or may not have been an NBA player or two in the club, as well as part of a major Division I football team. I was introduced to a variety of people who soon forgot my name and wondered why I was there. I kept my drink near-full and a spot close to the bar and steered clear of the dance floor. I was able to walk off my whiskey Sunday morning along the beach.
- Other than the weekend in St Louis, I haven’t missed a week of golf since May. We have continued the routine of playing further inland at discount prices and soaking up plenty of quality time and sunshine. While my game not be in California-shape, I can take comfort knowing that golf season doesn’t actually end on the West Coast.
Where did August go? Do the leaves start to change colors in September in California? Stay tuned…
Fernando Valenzuela Anguamea is a Mexican former Major League Baseball pitcher. During a 17-year baseball career, he achieved his greatest success with the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1980-1990, and went on to pitch for five more major league teams.
In 1981, the 20-year-old Valenzuela took Los Angeles (and MLB) by storm, winning his first 8 decisions and leading the Dodgers to the World Series. That year, Valenzuela became the only player in MLB history to win the Rookie of the Year award and the Cy Young Award in the same season; he was also awarded the Silver Slugger Award and the Dodgers won the World Series that year. With his youthful charm, devastating screwball, “Ruthian physique”, and a connection with Los Angeles’ large Latino community, Valenzuela touched off an early ’80s craze dubbed “Fernandomania”.
Valenzuela was a Dodgers mainstay throughout the 1980s, winning 21 games in 1986 and pitching a no-hitter in 1990, though he was injured during the 1988 championship run. However, he faltered because of injuries in the 1990s, pitching ineffectively for several teams. After one last effective season with the San Diego Padres in 1996 and a short stint with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1997, he retired from MLB.
Valenzuela in 1981 was named the opening day starter as a rookie after Jerry Reuss was injured 24 hours before his scheduled start and Burt Hooton was not ready to fill in. Valenzuela shut out the Houston Astros 2–0. He started the season 8–0 with five shutouts and an ERA of 0.50. Punctuating this dominance on the mound, Valenzuela had an unusual, flamboyant wind-up (looking skyward just at the apex of every pitch). It was a habit which he claims to have developed spontaneously, although not until joining the Dodgers.
An instant media icon, Valenzuela drew large crowds from the Los Angeles Latino community every time he pitched and triggering high demand across the country for his rookie baseball cards. The craze surrounding Valenzuela came to be known as “Fernandomania.” During his warmup routine at Dodger Stadium, the PA system would play ABBA’s 1976 hit song Fernando. He was also the first rookie to lead the National League in strikeouts. The Dodgers won the World Series that season.
Valenzuela was less dominant after the 1981 player strike wiped out the middle third of the season, but the left-hander still finished with a 13–7 record and a 2.48 ERA. He led all pitchers in complete games (11), shutouts (8), innings pitched (192.1) and strikeouts (180). In the post-season, Valenzuela became the youngest pitcher to start the first game of a series and pitched a complete Game 3 of the 1981 World Series against the New York Yankees. In total, he went 3–1 in the post-season as he helped the Dodgers to their first World Championship since 1965.
At the 1986 All-Star Game, Valenzuela made history by striking out five consecutive American League batters, tying a record set by fellow left-handed screwballer Carl Hubbell in 1934.
In 1987 his performance declined; he earned a 14–14 win-loss record with a 3.98 ERA. In 1988, a year in which the Dodgers won the World Series, he won just five games and missed much of the season. He improved slightly in 1989 and went 10–13, and went 13–13 in 1990. He had one last great moment on June 29, 1990, when he threw a 6–0 no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals just hours after the Oakland Athletics’ Dave Stewart had thrown one against the Toronto Blue Jays. According to teammate Mike Scioscia, Fernando and many Dodger players watched Stewart, who was a former Dodger, throw the no-hitter on TV. Afterward, before his game, Fernando said to his teammates, “You just saw a no-hitter on TV, now you will see one in person.”