Tag Archives: Fall

Spending Summer’s Last Gasp at the Ballpark

Today marks the first day of fall.

By and large fall, or autumn if you prefer, is my favorite season.

I enjoy the changing leaves, and the chill in the air, along with the various pumpkin flavored items that hit the grocery stores and restaurants this time of year to mark the season.

Of course having lived in Florida and Texas for the majority of my life, I usually have to settle on pumpkin flavored ice cream and chilled apple cider since for the most part  temperatures are still too hot for changing leaves and breaking out the fall coats.

But when I lived in Maryland as a much younger version of myself, I would visit the local apple orchard and pumpkin patch each year on school trips and jump into leaf piles that were above my head.

The Sugar Land Skeeters may be the road less traveled in the Houston area baseball scene but word is quickly spreading as the success grows. Photo R. Anderson

The Sugar Land Skeeters may be the road less traveled in the Houston area baseball scene but word is quickly spreading as the success grows.
Photo R. Anderson

I may yet return someday to a land where autumn and other seasons exist but for now I will take part in the two Texas seasons of hot and not quite as hot.

So on the last day of summer with temperatures still in the low 90’s, I decided to mark the occasion with a baseball game.

After all baseball players are often referred to as the Boys of Summer so what could be more American than baseball to mark the end of summer?

When it came down to picking where to catch this fall eve last gasp of summer game I had the choice between the Houston Astros or the Sugar Land Skeeters since both teams were in town.

In true Robert Frost poem fashion it was much like I was standing before two roads, one well-traveled and one less traveled.

Were I to choose the more traveled road of the Astros, I would be watching a meaningless game in a mostly empty air conditioned Ballpark that seats 45,000 or so as the Astros went through the motions of finishing out another losing season that cannot end soon enough for players and fans alike.

Fans Gathered to see the Sugar Land Skeeters play the York Revolution on the final day of summer Sunday. Photo R. Anderson

Fans Gathered to see the Sugar Land Skeeters play the York Revolution on the final day of summer Sunday.
Photo R. Anderson

On the other hand, were I to choose the less traveled road that led to the Skeeters, I would be watching a game outside as nature intended in a much more fan-filled Ballpark as the Skeeters battled to clinch the Second Half division title.

With choices like that it was easy to pick the Skeeters of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball over the Major League Baseball Astros.

That is not to say that I have completely given up on the Astros, but with some of the front office moves made by the team lately it becomes increasingly more difficult to justify spending MLB type money to see a lesser product.

I will continue to wish the Astros well in their rebuilding effort but for now will be voting with my wallet by not supporting them in person until they make more strides towards being a competitive team. That will not stop me from visiting Minute Maid Park next year to see my Orioles and Rays play however.

While many of the recent players for the Astros seem to be in over their heads at times as they try to establish their careers many of the players for Skeeters are just trying to hold on to their careers a little longer.

The Sugar Land Skeeters are heading to the playoffs for the second straight year.  Photo R. Anderson

The Sugar Land Skeeters are heading to the playoffs for the second straight year.
Photo R. Anderson

Players in the Atlantic League for the most part will not be confused with Major League All-Stars, with the exception of Scott Kazmir who parlayed a stint with the Skeeters into a return to the MLB All-Star Game.

Rosters are comprised of former Major Leaguers and other players who could not find a place on an affiliated team roster for whatever reason.

The play in independent leagues, such as the one the Skeeters call home, can sometimes be sloppy with routine plays turning into errors on occasion but for the most part the errors even out as both teams are making them.

But what the players lack in polished skills they more than make up for in heart and determination. That is not to say that there are not Major League baseball players who play with heart and determination but as a whole those seem to be the exception.

Consider this, with entire team salaries far below what a single Major League Baseball player would make the men who make up the Skeeters roster are playing for the love of the game and the chance to put on a show each night for a couple of thousand fans under the lights.

Gary Gaetti has managed the Sugar Land Skeeters for their entire three-year existence. Photo R. Anderson

Gary Gaetti has managed the Sugar Land Skeeters for their entire three-year existence.
Photo R. Anderson

They know that their playing careers are finite but while they can they will continue to play the game that many of them have played as far back as they can remember.

So with these reasons in mind my last day of summer was spent under the sun watching the Skeeters defeat the York Revolution to clinch that division title for a berth in the playoffs.

I will take a game with players giving their all on every play over a game with players going through the motions every time. Also, a reasonably priced concession stand does not hurt either.

Two game diverged in a field, and I – I took the one where the players have the most heart. And that has made all the difference.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some playoff tickets to buy.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson

 

Brief Glimpse of Fall Inspires Fall Food Choices

This morning I was greeted by both the sound of 3,000 government employees returning to work at the Johnson Space Center after the government was reopened as well as a crisp fall morning with temperatures in the 60’s.

With temperatures still hovering in the 80’s and 90’s most days the little taste of fall was a welcome if brief occurrence.

I am sure that the local news crews interviewing all of those returning space workers also appreciated the cooler temperatures as they toiled on their “local impact of government shutdown” human interest stories.

In terms of the cooler weather’s effect on me, I have noted before that fall is my favorite season of the year.

I love the cooler temperatures.

Tis the season for the festive fall scents. Photo R. Anderson

Tis the season for the festive fall scents.
Photo R. Anderson

I love the smells of the season and the changing colors of the leaves.

I love that all of the pumpkin inspired hot and cold beverages are available in the stores.

And of course when I was younger I loved that fall meant that presents under the tree for Christmas were just that much closer to becoming a reality.

Okay, so I still like the fact that fall means December is that much closer.

So while there are myriad reasons why I love fall it is also a season full of memories of things that one just can’t do in Florida and Texas.

When I lived in Maryland I would spend fall days jumping in piles of leaves and going on nature hikes.

Fall was also the time where a school field trip to Butler’s Orchard in Germantown, MD allowed me to pick the perfect pumpkin right out of the field where it was grown and stock up on some tasty apples.

The lack of access to a pick your own pumpkin patch is likely one of the reasons why I no longer carve my own pumpkin. Once you have picked an almost as big as you pumpkin that is still attached to its life giving vine and wrestled it onto the school bus, anything else just does not seem right.

I mean nothing against those pumpkin patches in front of churches and the pallets of pumpkins at the local grocery store or big box store, but I prefer to pick my own pumpkin when given the choice.

As I was walking outside today thinking of pumpkin picking memories of falls gone by, it occurred to me that the cooler temperatures would make for a great excuse to have some warm comfort food for lunch.

So with my appetite in tow I went to one of my favorite local diners and ordered some shrimp and grits. Of course what I really wanted was some Maryland style crab cakes but as I had noted recently with another uprooted Marylander there just really aren’t any places to get good Maryland style crab cakes in Texas.

Shrimp and grits hit the spot during the first "cold" day of the year. Photo R. Anderson

Shrimp and grits hit the spot during the first “cold” day of the year.
Photo R. Anderson

For the record this particular diner where I was having the shrimp and grits makes a pretty tasty New Orleans style crab cake.

When my shrimp and grits arrived in all of its steamy flavorful goodness it felt like fall. There were gray clouds outside and warm food inside. I tried to tune out all of the people walking outside in shorts and told myself that it was cold outside and the clouds were snowy reminders of that.

Several of the diners around me had similar cravings for the flavors of fall as at least one person at every table was ordering soup of some kind.

Of course I did not just end with my warm bowl of shrimp and grits. I continued the fall food bonanza with some warm pecan pie. Unlike pumpkin pie which I can only eat during the fall and winter months, pecan pie tastes good year round. But pecan pie when there is a bit of a chill in the air tastes even better.

In reality it was barely cold enough outside to justify eating shrimp and grits but we are not afforded many cold days in this part of Texas so we have to take advantage of them when we can.

That is also the reason why temperatures dipping into the 70’s can be cause for some people to grab that coat or jacket that has been stuck in the closet all year. After all, one never knows when they will get to wear it again.

I realize that right now all of the readers from parts where it is less than 60 degrees for 7-8 months out of the year are probably laughing at the Sunbelt dwellers and our version of “cold.” It is the same way that someone from Hawaii would get little sympathy for complaining about a cold day of 80 degrees.

Some of you are even saying that if we love the cold so much why don’t we move to areas where we can take advantage of it more?

I can only speak for myself when I say that as much as I enjoy the cold, I enjoy it in the doses that I have now since no one wants to be sitting out on a beach chair when it is 50 degrees out.

So I will continue to enjoy the small tastes of fall and winter as they arrive here to help break up the 10 months known as summer and not as hot as summer.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think it is time to make some hot chocolate before the temperature goes back up to 90 degrees tomorrow.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

Fall’s Arrival More Obvious for Some

Yesterday was the first day of fall, or autumn if you prefer.

Fall is the time when temperatures and leaves both start to drop.

Fall is also the time when pumpkins and nutmeg make their yearly appearance in everything from pies to beverages at various restaurants.

Fall is also a time when the summer clothes get put away and the sweaters and jackets come out.

Of course despite the calendar saying that fall is here and temperatures should be falling it tends to arrive in different parts of the country at different times.

I was recently reminded of this fact over the weekend while watching some college football games.

While the fans in the stadiums of many of the games were wearing their fall best as temperatures were likely in the 60’s I was sitting in shorts and a t-shirt and experiencing 80 degrees outside.

Despite fall’s arrival throughout much of the country for Gulf Coast residents fall does not arrive until late October or early November most years.

As much as I would love to be enjoying the flavors of fall such as soups and pumpkin flavored coffees it is still way to hot to even think about any of that here. With temperatures still forecast to hit the 90’s this week the calendar telling me it is the first day of fall does not really mean anything to me.

So while I still need to wait a bit for the fall temperatures to arrive there is no lack of excitement on the baseball schedule to keep me entertained while I wait for the autumn chill.

Time will tell if DJ Kitty and the Tampa Bay Rays make it back to the postseason for the for the fourth time in five years. Photo R. Anderson

Time will tell if DJ Kitty and the Tampa Bay Rays make it back to the postseason for the fourth time in five years.
Photo R. Anderson

Starting today there are only seven days left in the regular season of Major League Baseball as teams jockey for position to be included in the Fall Classic known as the World Series.

Some teams have already clinched a spot in the postseason while others are still battling for their ticket to the postseason.

Perhaps no where is that neck and neck race more intense than in the American League Wildcard race.

The Tampa Bay Rays hold a half game lead over the Cleveland Indians for the top spot in the Wildcard race. So, if the season ended today the Rays would host the Indians in a one-game winner takes all wildcard showdown at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

Of course, the season does not end today and the Rays have seven games left to play in the regular season. After finishing the series with the Baltimore Orioles today the Rays have three games against the Yankees in New York and three games north of the border against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Indians have six games left in the season with a home set against the Chicago White Sox and a road series against the Minnesota Twins.

The Tampa Bay Rays are seven games away from getting to add to their banner collection. Photo R. Anderson

The Tampa Bay Rays are seven games away from getting to add to their banner collection.
Photo R. Anderson

On paper the Rays have a more difficult schedule remaining over the Indians who were able to pad their push to the Wildcard with a sweep over the Houston “yes, we really are still a Major League team” Astros.

World Series Banners

Photo R. Anderson

The Texas Rangers who were the second Wildcard team until a few days ago will hope that a series against the Astros helps restore their postseason hopes as they have been in a tailspin in Kansas City falling to the Royals on consecutive days.

While the Wildcard round certainly allows more teams to make the postseason it certainly makes for some long fall nights watching the games and pulling for teams to win and others to lose.

So while the rest of the country takes out those fall sweaters and windbreakers I will be rolling out the Tampa Bay Rays rally t-shirts and polo shirts and watching a lot of games on television.

Once the dust is settled and the playoff teams have been identified there will be time to think about all of those fall scents and flavors. Until then it is still time for the Boys of Summer to play a little longer.

Now if you’ll excuse me all of this talk about the flavors of fall has me craving a pumpkin flavored beverage.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson