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2005-05-05 - 11:27 a.m.

I SWEAR I'm not a teenager. SWEAR.

On the el this morning, I took the last available seat in the car. (A side-note -- if you want to piss me off, step in the train ahead of a huge group of people, then STOP completely and stand in the doorway so you'll get the spot where you can lean on the wall. Because none of us actually wanted to enter the car, we just wanted to stand here and view your LOVELY FAT ASS the whole time.)

It was next to a small, middle-aged Hispanic guy reading the HOY! paper. My huge bag with the heavy laptop smushed his paper a little, so I apologized and started reading my book. Sadly, I finished the book as we entered the Loop and had to go to the Clark/Lake stop, so I was staring around and looking out the windows at the pretty views.

Begin conversation
Small Middle-Aged Hispanic Guy: So, are you going to school?
Me: No, I'm going to work.
SM-AHG: Oh, you look too young to be going to work.
Me: A lot of people say that, but I'm old enough.
SM-AHG: How old are you?
Me: (getting creeped out, wondering why he needs to know this) I'm 25.
SM-AHG: No you're not.
Me: (starting to get annoyed) Yeah, I am. I know I look young, but I'm 25.
SM-AHG: I thought you were 17. 18 maybe.
Me: Well, I'm sure it'll be nice when I get older.
SM-AHG: HA HA! Yes. It will. Do you have trouble getting into nightclubs?
Me: I have to show my ID, if that's what you mean.
SM-AHG: Wow, that has to be hard.
Me: (getting off at the Washington/Wells stop so I don't have to ride with him anymore) Yeah.

What the hell? I realize I look young. But this guy was crossing the line and was fast becoming creepy. Why was he so interested in (what he thought was) a 17 year old? I have a freaking wedding ring on.

It reminds me of the time I was 22 and flying out of the Denver airport. Going through security, the guy by the metal detector asked me how old I was. "22," I said. He replied, "Oh, good. You have to be at least 15 to be able to go through the metal detector without a parent." So I look UNDER 15? I look 14?

My biggest fear, that I try to keep in the back of my head, is what people will say to me when my husband and I decide to have kids in a few years. If I really do look 14, will I look like a pregnant 14 year old? Will people tell me to stay in school? Will people stop me on the street to lecture me about teen sex?

Oh, and if you want to see me, to judge for yourself, send me an email telling me that you're not a stalker and I'll add you as a friend in flickr. Then you can see me in all of my creepy-guy-magnet glory. Ick.


I'm really sick. I'm at work, and am pretending not to be, but I'm sick. My throat hurts, I'm coughing, my head feels like it's in a different state. But I feel like I've stayed home too much (last Monday, for crying out loud!) this spring because I've been sick all the time. So if I'm less than able to pay attention, do I still get a cookie for being here?

Though I'm not here just out of the goodness of my heart and my rampant professionalism. My husband and I had planned to go out today to celebrate his being OFFICIALLY DONE with two thirds of law school. One year left to go! We're going to Rock Bottom Brewery State Street location to have a beer or two. And yes, this is a chain, but each location has a unique brewmaster with control over the beer recipes. And Pete Crowley is a magician with beer. I had a Whiskey-barrel-aged Imperial Stout there that makes me drool even today. Then after that we're going to Pazzo's for dinner. To use the $50 gift certificate I won from Sportsradio 670 The Score. Hee. Am amazing WINNER-type person. Though I will not be held responsible for kicking shins if I see any management-types. (I'll be dragged away by security, shrieking, "But I LOOVE J. Hood! Why is Telander still on the air?!? HAAATE YOU ALL!")

So as you can see, I can't stay home sick today.

Baseball for Casual Fans: Installment #7
A Few Hints and Tips for Enjoying Baseball

How to tell which is the home team:
Have you ever been sitting on the couch, half paying attention to the game on TV (maybe it's a team you're not particularly interested in or you have other stuff you're in the middle of as well), and had someone walk in and ask, "Oh, you're watching the White Sox/Indians game? Where are they playing?" It's not fun to look confused at that point when you're doing your best to be a Real Sports Fan. But there are a couple of things that will immediately tell you which team is at home and all you have to do is glance at the screen.
-The home team is always listed last because they bat in the bottom half of each inning. This means that they get the last chance to score in the 9th inning (the perk of being in their home park). So if you can see the little icon on the TV that shows the score (sometimes it's a bar across the top or bottom, sometimes it's an icon in the corner) the second team listed is the one playing at home.
-Look at the players' uniforms. The home team wears white pants (and shirts, usually, but with the proliferation of third jerseys, that's not always clear) and the away team wears gray pants. Also, the away team nearly always has its city (for instance, Chicago) written across the front, while the home team has its nickname (for instance, Cubs). Some teams (the Yankees, Red Sox, and now the Cubs as of this year) also forego the names on the back of home jerseys. It looks all old-school and uncluttered. I like it, even though I'm a number IDIOT and can't remember anyone's number.*

*Gordie Howe (best hockey player ever) was 9. Steve Yzerman took 19 to honor him and Wayne Gretzky took 99 for the same reason. Ron Santo was 10. Corey Patterson is 20. Ryne Sandburg and Michael Jordan were 23. Nolan Ryan was 34, and both Kerry Wood and my husband wear that number out of respect for him. That's about where I stop though. I wish it were automatic for me like it is for so many other people, but I just can't do the number memorization.

How to understand a conversation that consists almost entirely of acronyms:

We've all been there. In a conversation with a few other people that suddenly sounds like a completely different language. In my experience, it happens mostly with government employees, military people, and baseball fans. Here's a brief rundown of the most common ones so you're not quite so lost the next time:

RBI - Runs Batted In - This is one of the more important stats for any player. It counts how valuable your contribution to the team is better than hits or home runs, because you get an RBI anytime you cause a teammate to score a run. If you get a solo home run, you get one RBI because you caused yourself to score. If you hit a sacrifice fly, you're out but you get an RBI for the guy who scored from third base.

ERA - Earned Run Average - The number of runs a pitcher gives up per 9 innings. Most starters end up in the 3 - 4 range, which means that every 9 innings, they're likely to give up 3-4 earned runs. sometimes you'll see a reliever with a ridiculous ERA like 27 because he gave up 3 runs in one inning and has only pitched that one time. The other oddity is that pitchers sometimes have infinite ERAs because the game is divided up as 9 innings, with each out defining one third of an inning. If the pitcher gives up a run (or 12) without getting an out, there is no way for anyone to calculate an average.

OPS - On-Base Percentage + Slugging Percentage - This is pretty confusing and isn't really something that the average fan needs to worry about unless you're in a few fantasy leagues. Suffice it to say it is a good indicator of offensive numbers. A HUGE OPS = a great player. Or one with good hand-eye coordination but average home run power on steroids. Usually.

WHIP - Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched - this is a great way to judge a pitcher. The ERA is far more simple, but this is a stat the PUNISHES a pitcher for walking people. So, for instance, when Roberto Novoa WALKS IN THE WINNING RUN against the MILWAUKEE BREWERS, his WHIP will go up. And I will have to be physically restrained from going after him with my own little version of the WHIP. Seriously, people. I would rather see a grand slam than a walk at that point. MUST KILL.

Ahem. Anyway.

When dealing with acronyms, use a little logic (can you find a way to use Runs, Walks, Pitch, Earned, Base, Inning, and so on?), and if all else fails, write me.

Want to use some of your new skills?

If you've been faithfully reading the Baseball for Casual Fans series, you may want to try out some of your newly acquired/refreshed knowledge.

Try this fun little game, and let me know how you do! I won 10-3, but there were some difficult decisions to be made. I would love emails telling me how you did, as well as asking me questions about why things happen the way they do.

And as always, your questions are welcome to fill out the series. I have plenty of topics, but I would much rather cover the ones that are bothering you! Also, the less time I have to watch the Cubs right now, the better. (It's only May! How am I this mad already?)

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