Kidologist.com: Karl Bastian's Personal Site and Blog
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As I have bragged before (here, here and here or when he got me a Frank Thomas ball) my little brother is a beat reporter for MLB.com as the Blue Jays reporter. While I enjoy baseball, I’m nowhere near the avid fan my little brother is – which is why I marvel at his writing. As I blogged about once before, I am impressed at how his writing transcends mere baseball reporting. I’m not a Blue Jays fan (technically he isn’t either), but I follow his blog as I because I enjoy his writing and I don’t want to miss when one of these “beyond baseball” masterpieces comes through.Well, he did it again! He has written another “baseball article” that demonstrates that his ability to articulate LIFE and not just baseball, and is what makes him such a masterful sports writer.
Before you read his article about how Blue Jays top prospect Travis Snider has dealt with several deaths recently, including his mother, it might interest you first to realize a few things not mentioned in the article about Jordan’s personal connection to this story. First of all, Snider’s mom Jordan’s and my mother both have the same name, though spelled slightly differently, his Patty, our Patti. Secondly, our mom passed away in 1996 while Jordan was still in middle school, and so he has experienced much of what Travis shared with him. As you read this article, you learn not only how Travis Snider has dealt with loss, but you get a glimpse into the understanding that this writer has, that perhaps others would not.
You can read the article here: Snider Finding Solace on Diamond.
And in case that link ever breaks, here is a link to download the article as a PDF file: Jordan Bastian Snider Article PDF preserved through Y3K on my server. You may send him feedback if you wish.
OK, I am officially still a Sox fan, but who can turn down free tickets to a Cubs game, especially the FIRST PLACE Cubs, and on Build-a-Bear Day! I got to be a good uncle and take my niece when travel plans and other conflicts prevented her family from getting to all go as originally planned when they got the tickets way in advance. Poor me.
Headin’ to Wrigley in Style!
My wife saw my “Do the Dew” hat as I left and said, “You don’t have a Cubs hat?” (um, I’m a Sox fan!) But I answered, “I will when I get back!” We went to pick up some friends (see below) and were on our way to root on the Cubs! I should mention that my niece is the only Cubs fan in her family, the rest are Sox fans, but she is loyal to her other uncle, (my brother), who is a serious Cubs fan.
My first pleasant surprise was that that there is FREE PARKING at a Cubs Game! Granted, we were there early to get a Prebuilt-a-Bear for the girls, but we parked right on the street just a few blocks away from the park, only one hour before the game. Hmmmmm. Can’t do that at a Sox Game.
A reason to switch back to being a Cubs Fan?!??
Then I saw it, a Taco Bell across the street from Wrigley Field! With a Cubs hat on the sign AND they let you take your Taco Bell into the park! Hmmmmm, maybe I should rethink this whole switch to Sox thing….
The Force is with Me
THEN I finally get to see one of the R2-D2 Mailboxes, right across from the park. I haven’t even gotten to the game and already… free parking… Taco Bell you can take in with you… R2-D2…. hmmmmm
Sprained? Strained? Twisted?
Call 1-877-Athletico! Save this number!
We finally got to the park, found our seats up where the birds fly, and settled in. With my extra two tickets I brought Master Ron, a new kids pastor, and his daughter, made our balloon hats, and settled in for the game.
It’s always fun with Master Ron around!
It’s fun to watch the fans… like these girls who kept holding their sign upside down, even after looking at it from the top (looks right to us!)…
Upside Down Fan Sign!
I did buy a hat, but I got a Wrigley Field hat since anything with a red C on it was $10 more! But I do like Wrigley Field. It just feels more like baseball than Sox Park which feels so commercial. (excuse me, US Cellular Field.. even the name, yuck!) Wrigley has little food and sourvenier shops tucked in every available spot, and a fun atmosphere. Our girls were squirting (well, misting) people who walked by our seats, since we were row 1 in front of a walk way, and it was 96 degrees out, and everyone was friendly, even the Phillies fans… which there were a LOT of there!
House Top Bleachers!
Plus, it is cool to see the skyline and the houses across the street that have bleachers set up on top of them!
Close up view of the house top bleachers.
We had a great time, despite the intense heat… at least we were in the shade. But by the time we got to the end of the long game, I remembered why I am no longer a Cubs fan… they lost, and I’ve never been to a winning Cubs game, even when they are supposedly in first place. Oh, well.
Uncle Karl with his any team baseball shirt on and niece
Like I said on Sunday night, GO SOX, GO CUBS, GO ANY TEAM someone gives me free tickets too… anyone got any Bulls tickets? I haven’t been to a Bulls game since Phil Jackson was there! I’d even go to a Bear Game!
You may remember when I bragged that my little brother went to the Major Leagues! As an MLB.com beat reporter that is. Well, he was in town this week for the Blue Jays vs. the White Sox series. But the first thing he did when he arrived was the Presentation:
The Presentation of the Frank Thomas Ball
In April I went to visit my brother in Dietroit and got to meet Frank Thomas. The highlight wasn’t meeting this famous ball hitter, it was hearing my little brother (who I taught baseball to) say, “Hey, Frank, I’d like you to meet my brother.” Of course, I wanted an auto-graph, but since we were in the clubhouse, and I was there with a temporary press pass, that is prohibited. So I had to settle for a hand shake. Even my brother, because he is press for Major Leage Baseball is not allowed to ask for autographes. So how did I get this?
My autographed Frank Thomas Ball!
Well, I also got to meet with John Gibbons, the Blue Jays manager, and after I left, he went and asked Frank for an autographed ball, and gave it to my brother and instructed him to give it to me. It must have pained him to hand it over, but he’s a good brother, and he obeyed the manager. He told me about it then, but I had to wait until the next visit to get the ball. So now I have it. Cool, huh?
But auto-graphed ball or not, the highlight is still getting to see my bro! Especially, when he calls in a favor to the White Sox beat reporter and scores me four tickets to Sundays game! I took some friends along and had a great time.
Is that a Cubs shirt with a Sox hat?!?!
I did where all White Sox to the game, but it was very hot, and so I wore my Cubs sleeveless shirt under the warm black WS jersey… which I had to shed until the shade finally covered us. But I promise, I am a Sox fan! Unless I go to that Cubs Game on Thursday. I guess I’m still conflicted. After questioning my Cubs fan status two years ago (when the Sox went all the way) I officially switched so I could cheer on the White Sox as a fan. But in the end, I guess I am a Chicago Fan! I’ll accept free tickets to either team!
Frank a Blue Jay?
It was kinda weird seeing Frank as a Blue Jay hitting against the Sox. But he’s not the first Sox to wear Blue Jays at Celluar Field. I did it at great risk last year!
The “Big Hurt” hurtin’ as he struck out at all at bats.
It was great to see my brother again, it’s never often enough! We even got a visit with Gramma in:
Me, Gram, and Jordan.
and I just have to include a picture of Luke with the shirt and Jordan and Auntie Kelly got him:
Born to be Blogged!
Is that not a perfect shirt for him? He is probably the most blogged boy in history!
Luke and his Great Grandmother, Maggie
(photo by Jordan, edited by Karl)
It’s been a fun two days, I got to hang out with my MLB beat reporter bro, have full access to roam behind the scenes and on the field at a major league ball park, hang with Frank Thomas in person, but BAH… the highlight, was spending a day with Flat Stanley! What?!? You’ve never heard of Flat Stanley? Well, I’ll get back to him…
Major League Grass!
These are my feet on the grass at Comerica Park, home of the almost-world-series-champs Detroit Tigers, the day after their opening day against the Blue Jays, who my little brother covers for MLB.com. (look for his name right on bluejays.com) I drove to Detroit to hang with my bro for a few days and watch him “in action.”
Karl and Jordan in the Dug Out
My one day media pass gave me access to the whole park. I entered the stadium via the “tunnel” on the visitor side after passing through the clubhouse. Sorry, but no pictures were allowed in the clubhouse. This was a day off, between opening day and a game today, so the park was empty but there were players there to practice, work out, etc. Among several Blue Jay players I didn’t recognize I saw Jim Leyland (tigers manager) getting into an elevator, Justin Verlander (rookie of year last year for the American league) walk by and get into his SUV, Gregg Zaun (blue jays cather) walking around, and got to visit a little with John Gibbons, the Blue Jays manager. Then guess who walked by?
The Big Hurt
One of my little brother’s friends
Yup, Frank Thomas! It was very cool to be in the clubhouse and have my little brother say, “Hey, Frank, can I introduce you to my brother?” The Hurt says, “Sure, Jordan.” and turns and talks with me. I’ll never wash the hand he shook… or wait, I already did at dinner last night! ahhhhhhh. Oh well. I said “hanging out” above as a lead in teaser… that’s probably stretchin’ the encounter which was less than a minute, but hey, I met Frank Thomas, and the highlight for me wasn’t meeting him, so much, as being introduced to him by my little brother who I at one time taught about baseball! This little kid I used to play catch with now works the MLB.com and introduces me to 18 million dollar players and professional coaches. Makes a big brother proud! The picture above Jordan took and is part of his MLB.com blog Spring Training photo gallery. He is really a good photographer! If the reporting gets old in time, he could switch to being a sports photographer. I’m serious, check out his pics. (for additional online fun, check out this very funny new tv commercial about Frank Thomas on the Blue Jays: download. mp4)
But like I said, Frank wasn’t the highlight… it was Flat Stanley.
Flat Stanley in the Press Box
Many Aunts and Uncles have probably heard of Flat Stanley. I’ve had many adventures with Flat Stanley from all the various kids and nephews and neices who have mailed him to me. Perhaps you’v been so lucky? Kids mail out his story and him and ask you to take him somewhere, take pictures, and mail back for them to share in class. My latest relative to send me Flat was my nephew Michael in California, so I took Mr. Stanley on this trip with me. (No, I did not ask Frank to pose with Flat Stanley, though the thought did cross my mind, but no pics in the clubhouse anyway.)
As you can see, Flat Stanley was a member of the 1968 World series team…
And has been immortalized in the statues of hall of famers around the park… (That’s Flat Stanley with Ty Cobb)
But even still, he is ready and eager to play on the field…
Or just go and pose on the infield grass…
But I’m sorry to say, he came to a sad end, when my brother, getting tired of all my Flat Stanley pictures (many not posted, but being sent to Michael) fed him to the giant Tiger outside the stadium!
It was a great bro hang out time. Truly, the highlight for me wasn’t Flat Stanley, or even Frank Thomas, it was getting time with my little brother who I am so proud of. We don’t get much hang time these days, but if family is first, sometimes you just have to go to where they are to invest in the relationship, even if you must hang out with them at work. It was a great trip, but I have to get home! Today is Sara’s birthday!
You can send her a birthday greeting at sara @ kidology.org (no spaces, those are to prevent email snagging online spam bots!)
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As I’ve posted before, my brother is a writer for MLB.com , and specifically as the beat writer for the BlueJays. (see me endangering my life to show my support this past season)
But with all the senior writers being busy with the World Series, my little brother Jordan, got to cover a major article, about the death of Joe Neikro.
I wanted to post the link to the article on my blog because I wanted to show off how great a writer my brother is.
I enjoy do enjoy baseball. If you drop by my house in the afternoon, you may find me tossing a ball at the pitchback in my backyard, a recent new habit when I just need time to think. I’d like to claim credit for teaching Jordan everything he knows about baseball since I AM his big brother, but he and I both know better. But I’m not a huge fan or follower of baseball, though I do really enjoy championship games, and especially when they are Chicago teams!
But I am always amazed how my brother can take a subject that usually isn’t of great interest to me, especially the death of a player I’d never heard of, and mingle in a bunch of otherwise unrelated facts, and craft it into an article that gets me engaged.
Now I have all these questions about this Niekro family. I learned about a dad who taught his boys a knuckleball pitch that he developed when he injured his pitching arm. A pitch that the older Niekro, Phil, used to build a very successful career, and one that he tossed his little brother during a game in 1976 so that the younger Joe could have his only home run in his twenty-two year career. I liked imagining the big brother, setting aside team rivalry when Joe came to the plate, to toss his little brother the “secret family pitch” so he could get that home run. Not that Joe wasn’t a good player, but his records were to be made on the mound, not at the plate. Then I learned that just oever ten years later, Joe’s eight year old son, Lance, a bat boy at the time, got to ride in a post-season celebration convertible with his dad…. and must have caught the baseball bug too, as he would later follow his dad and uncle into the major leagues.
All that to say – a good writer pulls you into a story that you otherwise would have no interest in, and leaves you wishing you knew more about the characters within.
Way to go little brother!
I wish I could say I taught him all he knew about writing too.
Go ahead, read the article yourself!