Monday, October 22, 2012

Three Items

Sometimes, you find things to write about. Other times, things find you. Two of the items below fairly jumped off the pages of my extremely part-time employer, The Boston Herald, and begged for me to type a few words about them. The other assaulted me while I sat in my La-Z-Boy (and was also brought to my attention by my Uncle Jimmy, who loves me and shares my outrage.)

Item 1: Sunscreen Recalled After People Who Applied It Caught On Fire

To quote from the story in The Herald:

The maker of Banana Boat sunscreen is recalling one of its spray-on products after reports that a handful of people have caught on fire after applying the lotion. A spokesman for Energizer Holdings said there have been five reports of people catching fire after applying the UltraMist sunscreen in the past year.

“Come on, Jim, we’re all going swimming!”

“You know how badly I burn in the sun. I need to put on some sunscreen. OK, I’m spraying it on and… AUGH! AUGH! AUGH!”

It would be hard to imagine a more surprisingly unintended consequence of applying sunscreen. It would be like putting on a condom and, instead of preventing pregnancy, your girlfriend instantly went into labor.

(I have to assume there was another source of flame involved; perhaps cigarettes. I doubt that folks have spontaneously combusted when applying the stuff. It’s much more fun to imagine it that way, however, and if that IS how it happened, it makes me doubly sad that The Weekly World News ceased publication a few years back because this would have been the stuff of front-page headlines.)

Item 2: Eddie Yost Is Dead.

Most of you (heck, maybe all of you, with the exception of Craig and maybe Skip) have no idea who Eddie Yost was. Let me rectify that. Eddie Yost was a major league baseball player. He played in the big leagues for 18 seasons, plying his trade with the Washington Senators, Detroit Tigers, and Los Angeles Angels. After his retirement from playing, he coached for another 22 years. Among the teams he coached was the Boston Red Sox.

So far, I’ve told you about a nice career in sports, but now I’ll tell you why I care. Eddie Yost was one of my all-time personal heroes in baseball. Why was Mr. Yost my hero? Because he made the drawing of bases-on-balls his particular specialty. He was so good at it, he gained the nickname “The Walking Man”. He led the American League in bases-on-balls for 6 of his 18 seasons. Of his career 8,960 plate appearances, 1,614 resulted in walks. If he played in today's On-Base % conscious days, his .394 lifetime OB% would have made him a millionaire.

When I first heard about Eddie Yost, I was a kid. I immediately knew, upon hearing of his specialty, that he had to be the smartest man in baseball. He made a career out of standing at the plate and taking advantage of mistakes made by the other guy. He let his fellow batters have the ups and downs of hitting slumps, the mental anguish of trying to figure out what pitch was coming and then a less than one-third chance at successfully getting on base when they tried to hit it. Eddie learned that you could stand there, look at the ball coming, and then just let it go by four times (if it was high or low or inside or outside) and they had to give you first base just the same as if you had stroked a frozen rope. Not only that, you got to WALK down to the base instead of running.

Eddie was a genius. And not only did he turn NOT swinging the bat into an art form, he also cashed another 22 years of paychecks for coaching third base, another form of standing around. While young macho idiots sweated their nuts off running, he told them to stop at third base or keep on going.

For FORTY YEARS, Eddie Yost got to stand in the sun on green grassy fields, collect a good paycheck, and know all the while that he was the smartest son of a bitch on the field. Hard to beat that.

And, since I admired him so much, I made a career out of imitating Eddie Yost on a softball diamond. I hold the Bomber team record, by a wide margin, for drawing walks (926 plate appearances, 173 walks.) There are no league-wide stats to which I can refer, but I have no doubt whatsoever that I hold the lifetime league record in that category. I might also hold the lifetime record for The M Street SoftballLeague in South Boston. I’ve led every league I’ve ever played in, at least once, in bases-on-balls. It has probably extended my playing days a good five years, maybe ten. And I’ve had the great joy of pissing off more pitchers than just about anybody who has ever stepped onto the field. There probably isn’t a pitcher alive who hasn’t believed, in his heart of hearts, that he could get me out every time I’ve stepped into the box to hit. I’ve beaten them over 50% of the time.

God bless you, Eddie Yost. The example you set for me - never run when you can walk - is one I’ve tried to apply in every aspect of my life. I hope we meet someday in Heaven. We can have a nice walk together.

Item 3: Christmas Advertising In October

I saw the ad while watching “30 Rock” last Thursday. My Uncle Jimmy phoned the next day to alert me to it.

As most of you know, I'm all about Thanksgiving Coming First. The wretched over-commercialization of Christmas, and most of it at the expense of a truly lovely family-centric holiday such as Thanksgiving, has been a major pet peeve of mine for many years. So, allow me to congratulate this year's prime offender. Here is my reaction, arrived at after much deliberation and considered thought.


And your little dog, too.

That is all.

Soon, with more bitter vitriol.


Ami said...

LOL... 'and your little dog, too'.

Yeah, I was in sprawlmart last week looking for something in the hardware aisle and thought at first I must be mistaken... but no. There were Christmas carols playing in the already filled up and running 'Christmas Store'.

Holy Crap.

I make a living sitting around quite a bit doing craft projects. Although I don't make much of a living at it, I do get to be lazy and get paid.

But don't call me Eddie.

Happy Monday, Suldog. (which I typoed 'Slugod' TWICE.)

messymimi said...

Item #1: Ouch.

Item #2: Mr. Yost was indeed a smart man, and talented.

Item #3: Your Thanksgiving Comes First campaign cannot begin too soon; let me know, because i'm in.

Michelle H. said...

I remember Yost from your story of meeting him in that restaurant and you asked him what the breakfast of champions was.

No Christmas advertising as of yet. Only more toy commercials geared up early.

Suldog said...

Michelle - Actually, that was Kevin Youkilis (but it's an easy mistake to make, since the last names are somewhat similar and Youkilis is also known for drawing lots of walks!)

Jackie said...

I read the news article about the sunscreen a day or so ago thinking spontaneous combustion 'cause that's what the headline implied. Yep, takes a spark or fire for the "burn" to occur. Duh...who'd 'a thunk it!
I'm pleased to have read about Eddie Yost through your blog; otherwise, I would've never known anything about him. After reading Michelle's comment, I smiled...remembering that blogpost. So glad you got to meet him...and the reverse.
I haven't shopped at Target in well over a year. Now, it will be another year. (I'm sure they'll survive without my business, but it's a decision I've made.)
Sending smiles to you my friend,

Daryl said...

I told Toonman he could use Fuck You in a toon and he whimped out .. wait til I send him here .. ha!

Michelle H. said...

Oops! My bad. It also explains why you didn't mention the restaurant story or link to it ;-)

Tabor said...

I saw the sunscreen story and wondered when we were going to stop living better through chemistry and just use common sense. (Based on the antics of this election I will be dead before we do.) Anyway keep out of the sun. And as you commented on my post we are on the same wavelength about TG.

Uncle Skip, said...

Vindicated... I never did like sunscreen.

Did you know that Mike Ilitch played second base for a minor league team coached by Eddie Yost back in 1955?

I decided to wait for you this year. There's no way holiday shopping should be advertised before the start of the World Series, Halloween, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, or the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

Craig said...

Well, I suppose that a sunblock that sets you on fire might hasten your way into the water. . .

I had to laugh at the image of Eddie Yost as that cowardly kid who was always tryin' to cadge a walk out of the pitcher, rather than try to, you know, actually swing the bat. When I coached Little League years ago, I used to talk to the ump before the game, and urge him to have as big a strike zone as he could, in good conscience, and I told my players that I was doing that, just to get them to swing the bat, instead of just banking on the likelihood that the pitcher probably couldn't throw three good pitches before he threw four bad ones. That only gets you a couple years, as a strategy, before you've gotta come up with a more, uh, proactive approach. Anyhow, I'm guessin' that drawing as many walks as Eddie Yost did, might have involved a bit of skill at fouling off good pitches to get the pitcher to throw you more bad ones.

Anyway, I'm impressed that your percentage of BB/PA is pretty darn close to Mr. Yost's. That's emulation of a pretty high order.

I dunno, tho; it seems sorta like peeing in the pool to point out that Ted Williams had way more walks than Eddie Yost, in not that many more plate appearances. And nobody ever accused the Splinter of cadging for easy walks (tho he was open to criticism for refusing to swing at borderline pitches that, had he hit them, might've done his team more good than a walk did).

Does Target get some kind of 'Yahtzee' award for being the first into the Christmas-schtick pond? (I guess I'm sorta fixated on water imagery for the time being. . .)

Craig said...

And Skip raises an interesting question - how many major-league owners have been farm hands for the team they would later own?

But - was Eddie Yost really managing a minor-league team in '55? He was 28 years old, and playing for the Senators that year. A Winter-League team, maybe?

Suldog said...

Craig - Well, many of Williams's walks were produced via the fear he struck into pitchers and opposing managers. Not having actually been alive during most of their respective careers I can only speculate that Yost had to work a bit harder for his share.

Uncle Skip, said...

Maybe I was suckered by something I heard?

joeh said...

Apparently sun-screen testers are non-smokers.

Of course I remember the "Walking Man" who also played a prety good 3rd base. And yup Williams walked because pitchers feared him. Pitchers tried to throw strikes to Yost. And if he had to, he could put the bat on the ball.

Anonymous said...

Rest in peace, Eddie Yost. Truly brilliant!! And oh, my gosh, the commercials have already started? ugh. (I don't watch much TV, and never commercials.)

lime said...

i saw the sunblock news item too and thought how bizarre it was.

thanks for introducing me to eddie yost. i see why you admire him so much. perhaps if someone had taught me that trick and how to make my strike zone small i would have saved some sense of dignity in gym class as a youngster when i was forced to play softball as i have absolutely zero skill at making a bat come in contact with a ball.

though i am a fan of target i was quite irate to see all th3e christmas merchandise go up before it's even halloween let alone thanksgiving. of course they are not the only offender in my area. it's ridiculous. the only stores i can forgive are the craft supply stores as people who make their own christmas gifts may need a bit more lead time than folks who just buy everything.

Anonymous said...

I saw that same commercial last week and both my wife and I swore at the TV. Thought of you as we did it.

The Broad said...

Ah, Ted Williams! He was my baseball hero -- even though I didn't get to see him play until the end of his career. Yost I remember though not very well, but I've enjoyed reading about how he influenced your game.

Stephen Hayes said...

Like you, I prefer Thanksgiving arriving before Christmas ads. But in this troubled economy I'm just hoping retailers have a banner year to help pull us out of this economic stagnation.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Suldog, I always adore your take on life! I love it, don't run when you can walk and fcuk the big brands!

We don't have Thanksgiving in the UK, of course, so don't have the same problem, but when I saw the Christmas kibble arriving in the supermarkets in September this year, I knew we were in for a hard slog...

Bless you for having proffered some lovely words for Moannie. She is a sad loss and our lives were the richer for knowing her, just as we feel about you, (even with the sweary words!) <3

Buck said...

And your little dog, too.

Heh. I didn't snicker, I laughed right out loud.

Lowandslow said...

It just seems like Labor Day was yesterday. Christmas already? No way. I'm 100% with you on this one.


Juli said...

My husband reads the Herald every day. He also knows who Eddie Yost is.

I had no idea. :)

Matt Conlon said...

"It would be like putting on a condom and, instead of preventing pregnancy, your girlfriend instantly went into labor."

Much to the surprise of one's WIFE.

SueAnn Lommler said...

Congrats on your record!! Nice to meet your childhood hero too
I give my award to Hobby Lobby!!

i beati said...

Yes I do know Eddie Yost and help on the sunscreen 90 here today and Dollar General has more Christmas aisles than Halloween. I read yesterday the average American will spend 750.00 That will not be me $150 maybe maybe not hahah What about the Cards surprise to me

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

I didn't want to upset you by telling you before but about 2 weeks ago (yes, early October) I went into the local Hallmark store as it has an attached Post Office, which I needed that day, and the line is usually very short. They were already taking Halloween items DOWN and Snoopy Christmas ornaments were going UP - in the front window. First I thought about running into them and knocking them over as a statement. Then I thought of you. But I didn't want to tell you, like I said, for fear you'd snap at how much earlier it even seems this year. Is it earlier because everyone's afraid of that whole silly Myan calendar 12-21-2012 thing? (And wouldn't the better numerological phenomenon happen on 12-21-2112? I think everyone's 100 years off personally).

But that's still no excuse for starting Christmas now. /reply-rant

Sorry about Yost. Congrats on the articles!

flutterby said...

People catching on fire, you say? That is ker-azy!!! I know I have some Banana Boat products -- going to check them right now and see if any of them are the "Ultra Mist" variety. yeesh.

Michelle H. said...

Hate to say this, but I was just in the Walmart today. Tons of Halloween candy out in front, but there where Christmas trees out to one side. And they were piping Christmas carols through the PA system. (I must admit, I went there to get some early Christmas shopping in --toys-- for the Overlord.)

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

I'm thinkin' anyone who'd smear bananas on themselves to prevent sunburn should probably expect the worst

Now here's an interesting fact: asked who was his favorite Red Sox of all time, John Kerry replied, "Eddie Yost."
Asked about his favorite current Red Sox, Senator Kerry replied, "Manny Ortez."
At least he didn't say Bill Buckner

I saw the Target ad, too
Then I saw a Bugger King ad
I am beginning to realize why some folks don't compromise

Hilary said...

I rarely use sunscreen figuring that all those chemicals just can't be good for us.

I'm sorry that one of your baseball heroes passed. That was a nice tribute.

I fear Target's imminent arrival here in Canada. They are soon to take over our Zeller's stores - which have been around longer than I have. I hate seeing them go. A similar thing happened about 20ish years ago when Walmart arrived.

Uncle Jim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Uncle Jim said...

So pleased I could be the bearer of this pre-Christmas advertising news.

Three Hundred Sixty Five said...

As a past & present supporter of "Thanksgiving First", I had to laugh at your Target bash.....perhaps we should send the marketing managers there some of that flammable sunscreen, in hopes that they live somewhere sunny.

Ruby said...

Hate the big chain supermarkets and their sneaky selling strategies. Too bad about the sunscreen. Great post!!

Shammickite said...

The local dollar store is full of Santa hats and sparkly decorations already.... even more than skeletons and ghost outfits, and hallowe'en's not even over yet! I hate it. Just like you.
But I have to admit to having Christmas thoughts already, but only because we have been planning our annual Christmas Community Variety Show and rehearsing some of the songs already. BTW it's on Saturday Dec 8.... want a couple of tickets?
Remind me never to buy that sunscreen.

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

A little insulted to not have been included as an exception to the "never heard of Eddie Yost" theory. I saw the title, and immediately thought "That's the guy who coached third base for the Mets in the 70's." Don't worry, I'll get over it.

And now you have to start writing "Halloween Comes First." I'm equally pissed, believe me. Theresa and I were at Target last week, and without turning my head, I had Halloween, Christmas, and Thanksgiving items in my sight line. Pitiful.

Paula Wooters said...

I'll meet your vitriol and raise you an outrage, Jim. Pitiful indeed.

Shammickite said...

Did you know that Target is coming to Canada?