Treasure or Trash is a Matter of Perspective

The other day I rescued a lovely wooden hutch from next to a dumpster in my neighborhood.

Now to be 100 percent clear the hutch was outside of the dumpster so no “dumpster diving” was involved in the recovery of the item.

In fact the dumpsters in my neighborhood are often a place where people will place items that they hope will find another home.

There are often bookshelves, aquariums, televisions, couches, chairs, washers, dryers, etc. placed next to the dumpsters for the taking.

While many of these items are not reclaimed and end up on the one way trip to the landfill occasionally someone like myself will drive by and determine that the items still have some useable life in them.

This wooden hutch was given new life or at least new purpose when I saved it from a trip to the local landfill the other day.  Photo R. Anderson
This wooden hutch was given new life or at least new purpose when I saved it from a trip to the local landfill the other day.
Photo R. Anderson

I first noticed the hutch when I was returning from the store. After a couple of drive by inspections I decided that it was worth a closer inspection so I got out of my car for a hands on inspection.

Much as I thought the hutch was solid wood and in fairly good shape.

I stood over the hutch for a few minutes trying to decide if it was worth claiming as my own to give it another chance at usefulness.

As I was trying to secure the item in the back of my Jeep someone else walked by and seemed to be checking out the hutch.

Such is the case of dumpster treasure recon. Some days you get the prize and some days you watch it get loaded into someone else’s Jeep.

Speaking of Jeeps is it just me or do they really not offer a lot of room in terms of storage space?

With the hutch hanging out of the back of my Jeep secured by bungee cords I slowly drove home with my treasure still not sure how best to utilize it but proud of the results of my exploration.

Over the years I have recovered several items from near dumpsters. I have also fell short of items that either needed an extra hand to load or items that I waited too long to decide that I needed.

There was a homemade work bench that I missed out on a few years ago that still haunts me to this day.

Of course my love of looking for treasures beside the trash is nothing new.

In college I recovered a huge foam Marvin the Martian head that was a central theme in my living room décor until I decided to place him near the dumpster for someone else to enjoy.

A few years back I rescued this multimedia spinner from alongside a dumpster. Since then it has served my DVD collection well. Photo R. Anderson
A few years back I rescued this multimedia spinner from alongside a dumpster. Since then it has served my DVD collection well.
Photo R. Anderson

I also recovered a DVD carousal that is still part of my décor today.

For the most part I tend to gravitate towards solid wood items or has cousin Eddie would say, “good quality items.”

Couches, chairs and items that have clearly already seen their best days are things that I pass up on. But a solid wood item that is well crafted is something that deserves to be spared from a landfill burial.

I am not yet sure what I will do with the latest acquisition but it was determined to nice to pass up.

The “upcycling” of the hutch got me thinking about the similiarity between what I was doing and the waiver wire in baseball which is also a second chance of sorts for players.

Teams place players on waivers and they can either be claimed by others teams and continue their careers or in many cases they find that there are no longer any suitors for their services and they are forced to go in another direction with their life and career.

Sometimes a team will find a gem on the waiver wire that could be the missing piece that brings them to the playoffs.

The Tampa Bay Rays are a team that has made a name for themselves by finding players that other teams have discarded and finding a little extra something in them that has put the Rays in playoff contention year after year.

Other teams have not been as successful with their waiver claims and often find themselves giving the players back at the end of the year after finding that they were not a good fit after all.

Just like with a piece of furniture found at the side of a dumpster, one does not really know how well a player will fit until they get them inside the organization.

Scouts can run all of the reports they want but every situation is different. Just look at All-Star caliber players who have fizzled after being traded to a new team. Players are not plug and play and every team dynamic is different.

With spring training approaching teams will soon have their sights set once again on finding those players let go by other teams that will fit their dynamic and help the playoff runs instead of hindering them.

Of course chemistry is built over time which is also why players are added and subtracted from rosters throughout the season.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am off to see what other treasures I can rescue from certain demise.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

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Superstitious Day for Some, One less Shopping Day for Others

Today is Friday, December 13, 2013.

For some people this means nothing more than the fact that yesterday was the 12th and tomorrow is the 14th.

For others it means that there will soon be less than 10 shopping days left until Christmas.

For the superstitious among us today means all of the things above in addition to it being an unlucky day all the way around.

While many may think that the Friday the 13th craze started with a certain movie character named Freddy the roots of Friday the 13th actually run much deeper than late 20th Century cinema.

Since the 19th Century Friday the 13th has been considered an unlucky day in Western and Eastern superstition.

Friday and the number 13 were considered unlucky by some on their own so it was only logical that both occurring at the same time would be even unluckier.

In fact fear of Friday the 13th even has a name; friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga being the name of the Norse goddess for whom Friday is named in English and triskaidekaphobia meaning fear of the number thirteen).

Personally I have never feared Friday the 13th although I do fear not finishing my Christmas shopping in time.

Astros at Spring Training
Baseball players can be some of the most superstitious in all of sports. Players on a hot streak will keep wearing the same clothes or eating the same food just to keep the streak alive.
Photo R. Anderson

But the arrival of Friday the 13th made me think about sports and the superstitious rituals that many players seem to follow.

There are players who will eat the same pregame meal because they feel that to eat anything else would risk certain disaster on the field.

Hitters on a hot streak in baseball are notorious for continuing whatever “routine” it is that they feel is behind their streak since they feel any deviation will likely mean the end to the streak.

The movie Bull Durham did a very good job showing the superstitious side of baseball through chants over bats, breathing through one’s eyelids, chicken, and of course a garter belt where the rose goes in the front.

Baseball is of course not the only sport with superstitions. Across all level of sports there are athletes who have a lucky shirt or other article of clothing that they can’t go onto the field of battle without.

The link between superstitions and sports can start at a very early age.

Back in high school I did a feature article on the goalie of my school’s woman’s soccer team, Kris Arnetta, who attributed her on-field success to a lucky argyle sock that she wore during every game.

Granted it was not a pair of socks but one single sock that took over when her “magic shoes” fell ill. Perhaps it is best just to let her explain in her own words.

I once interviewed a soccer goalie who had magic shoes and a lucky Argyle sock. Photo R. Anderson
I once interviewed a soccer goalie who had magic shoes and a lucky Argyle sock.
Photo R. Anderson

“I used to have magic shoes but they got cancer and now they have to stay home all of the time,” Arnetta said. “Now I have a lucky Argyle sock. You can only wear one Argyle though because they cancel themselves out, sort of like fractions.”

And for those wondering, as I was back at the time I did the interview, how a pair of shoes gets “cancer” it was from her having to remove two of the cleats in the same way that a doctor might remove a cancerous tumor. I also learned that the shoes did not like concrete prior to them falling ill.

Throughout my career I was around many other superstitious athletes and I am sure I will meet many more but to date a single Argyle sock has been the most memorable superstition I have encountered.

Of course athletes are not alone in their superstitions. Anyone who has ever watched the History Channel show Swamp People will no doubt have noticed that one of the alligator hunters, Troy Landry, always wears his lucky shirt whenever he goes out into the swamp.

Logically speaking there should not be any link between eating the same food or wearing the same shirt and performance.

But is the mind thinks that there is there could be some potential for heightened success and the continuation of the superstitious activity.

So on this Friday the 13th beware of those around you who are extra cautious of their surroundings. On a positive note perhaps they will stay home which should make the lines at the stores a little shorter for those last minute shoppers.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some Christmas shopping to get to. I wonder if anyone on my list would like some Argyle socks.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

Mount Rushmore of Managers Gets Hall Invite

The other day it was announced that Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre, who rank third, fourth and fifth, respectively, on the career list of Major League Baseball managerial victories, were elected unanimously to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the expansion-era committee.

La Russa, Cox and Torre combined for 7,558 wins and eight World Series championships. Individually each of them surpassed 2,000 wins. No manager with at least 2000 wins has ever been excluded from admittance to Cooperstown.

Until this week Earl Weaver stood alone on my Mount Rushmore of Hall of Fame managers. Bobbie Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre will soon join the late Earl of Baltimore.
Until this week Earl Weaver stood alone on my Mount Rushmore of Hall of Fame managers. Bobbie Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre will soon join the late Earl of Baltimore.

With their election to the Hall of Fame each of the three managers earn a place on my personal Mount Rushmore of managers joining former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver, who until now had been a floating head of granite awaiting the arrival of some companions in the mountain of my mind.

Granted placing imaginary heads of granite on a mythical “Mount Rushmore” is a purely subjective exercise. A case could be made for many other worthy managers to be included.

Arguments can be made about the various eras of baseball and how to weigh the accomplishments of managers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the managers of the modern era.

Even the actual Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, which features larger than life busts of presidents Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, is occasionally the subject of revisionist desire.

There was a time when people thought the “Gipper” himself Ronald Reagan deserved to be forever etched in stone on the side of a mountain.

Some folks even went so far as to say that the “Roughrider” himself Teddy Roosevelt could be surgically altered and transformed into the face of Ronald Reagan.

In the end Mount Rushmore was left as is and an airport and other things were named after President Regan instead.

So with the understanding firmly established that the Mount Rushmore of managers is in the eye of the beholder, or in this case the eye of the writer, I will make my case as to why I feel Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre deserve to be on my Mount Rushmore.

For starters it should be noted that until 2011 all three men were managers during my awareness of baseball.

Granted there were a few years where I was alive and they weren’t managing but from my earliest baseball memories to my earliest baseball cards all three men were in the dugout guiding their teams.

In fact each of the three men began their careers as managers within two years of each other, between 1977 and ’79, and concluded their stay between 2010 and 2011.

It has seemed odd the last few years without having at least one of them managing. The absence of Lou Pinella in a Major League Baseball dugout is also taking some getting used to as he was another manager that just always seemed to be there along with Jim Leyland.

Adding to the granite worthiness of Cox, La Russa and Torre is the fact that each of them managed in both the National and American Leagues showing adaptability to the nuances of the two styles of play.

Bobby Cox spent 25 of his 29 seasons with the Atlanta Braves in the National League. The other four seasons were spent with the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League.

Bobby Cox spent 25 of his 29 seasons with the Atlanta Braves in the National League. The other four seasons were spent with the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League.
Bobby Cox spent 25 of his 29 seasons with the Atlanta Braves in the National League. The other four seasons were spent with the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League.

Under Cox the Braves won 14 consecutive division titles from 1991-2005 and one World Series title in 1995. Cox also led the Toronto Blue Jays to their first AL East title in 1985.

As I have mentioned before my grandmother is a huge Atlanta Braves fan so whenever I would visit we would watch the Bobby Cox led Braves play. I also had the opportunity to see Cox and the Braves in person a few times at Minute Maid Park when they came to town to play the Houston Astros.

I also was able to see Tony La Russa on many occasions at Minute Maid Park when he was manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. In total La Russa managed for 33 seasons with 17 seasons in the American League and 16 seasons in the National League.

In total Tony La Russa managed for 33 seasons with 17 seasons in the American League and 16 seasons in the National League. Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson is the only other manager to win World Series in both leagues.
In total Tony La Russa managed for 33 seasons with 17 seasons in the American League and 16 seasons in the National League. Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson is the only other manager to win World Series in both leagues.

La Russa seized the opportunity to go out on top when he retired shortly after guiding the St. Louis Cardinals to their second World Series title under his watch in 2011. In addition to his two titles with St. Louis La Russa also won the World Series in 1989 with the Oakland Athletics and joined Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson as the only managers to win World Series in both leagues.

Of course one could also say that Sparky deserves a spot on the Mount Rushmore of managers based on his stellar career as well but let us not muddy the waters before getting to the last candidate for granite infamy.

Joe Torre managed 17 seasons in the National League and 12 with the Yankees in the American League. Like Cox Torre managed the Atlanta Braves, and like La Russa Torre managed the St. Louis Cardinals.

Although Torre’s success with the Braves and Cardinals was nowhere near the level that Cox and La Russa had with those organizations he did eventually find a favorable situation in New York.

Joe Torre began his career as a manager with the New York Mets and had an 894-1,003 managerial record over 14 seasons with the Mets, Cardinals and Braves when he joined the Yankees. During a 12-year run with the New York Yankees that started in 1996 Torre’s teams earned four World Series titles in his first five seasons, six American League pennants in eight years, and compiled a record of 1,173-767.
Joe Torre began his career as a manager with the New York Mets and had an 894-1,003 managerial record over 14 seasons with the Mets, Cardinals and Braves when he joined the Yankees. During a 12-year run with the New York Yankees that started in 1996 Torre’s teams earned four World Series titles in his first five seasons, six American League pennants in eight years, and compiled a record of 1,173-767.

Torre began his career as a manager with the New York Mets and had an 894-1,003 managerial record over 14 seasons with the Mets, Cardinals and Braves when he joined the Yankees.

During a 12-year run with the New York Yankees that started in 1996 Torre’s teams earned four World Series titles in his first five seasons, six American League pennants in eight years, and compiled a record of 1,173-767.

Although I was never able to see Torre in person when he was with the Yankees I did get to see his team in action when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers where he won two NL West crowns before retiring after the 2010 season.

So there you have it, three newly minted Hall of Famers and three former managers who careers are worthy of carving into stone.

Let the arguments continue over the Mount Rushmore of managers. For me my mountain is set. One might go so far as say it is written in stone.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to start planning the next group of people that should be etched into granite. Quint, we’re going to need a bigger mountain.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson