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Archive for the ‘baseball’ Category

“Imperfect: An Improbable Life” – The Story of Jim Abbott, One of My Childhood Heroes

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by Treadmarkz

I have not read the book “Imperfect: An Improbable Life” but I am well versed in the story of Jim Abbott, the Major League Baseball pitcher who pitched for the Angels, went to the Olympic Summer Games, and later threw a no-hitter with the New York Yankees. His story is all the greater when you consider he was born with one arm. His story surely will be an inspiration to any child with a disability. Any parent who is looking for examples to give their disabled child of proof that they can do anything, please read this book and tell your child all about Jim Abbott. I admired him so much from afar as a kid growing up with spina bifida and wishing like crazy that I could have been part of the little league team.

Could the Chicago Cubs Claim a Permanent Disability?

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by Treadmarkz

The Chicago Cubs collected the most wins in the National League this year and yet they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team that made the playoffs because they won their division, but had the least wins of all NL playoff teams. Why? I’ll tell you why. The Curse of Fred Merkle. Look it up.

Because of this curse, the Chicago Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908. Yes that is 100 years this year. Being the 100th anniversary of the Cubs’ last championship, everyone in the baseball universe thought it quite fitting that they were having their best year in…ever, almost. It was almost a cosmic inevitability that the Cubs would finally shrug of the Curse of Merkle.

100 years.

Almost 100 wins.

It had to be.

And yet it isn’t.

Why? Because the Cubs are cursed.

Couldn’t the Cubs claim this curse as a permanent disability? If they did, think of the benefits they could receive. They could get the National League to pay for all of their expenses, so that they could save up their money for payroll and put together the most unstoppable force that ever took the field. They could get a first round bye in the playoffs. And all seven games of the NLCS and World Series at Wrigley Field so they would not have to travel!

Oh but then if they won the World Series, they would no longer be able to claim permanent disability. So never mind.

Goodbye to Yankee Stadium, and a Tribute to the Greatest Yankee of All, Lou Gehrig

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by Treadmarkz

Tonight, as the final baseball game is being played in “The House That Ruth Built”, I want to pay tribute to the hallowed grounds that is baseball’s equivalent of Soldier Field or Lambeau Field in the NFL, or the Boston Garden in the NBA. Yankee Stadium. Where, since it’s opening game in April of 1923, the Yankees have won 26 World Series, hosted 4 All-Star Games including this year’s game.

Though most of the stadium was renovated in the mid-seventies, and many considered it to be, for all intents and purposes a new stadium at that time, it still sits on the same site where Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra, Ford, Maris, and Jackson worked their magic and became legends.

Of course during the seventh inning stretch of the final game, Ronan Tynan delivered a stunning rendition of “God Bless America.”

Further, I would like to pay tribute to the man who many consider to be the greatest Yankee of them all: Lou Gehrig, who from 1925-1939 played in 2,130 Yankees games in a row. He never missed a day. He never called in sick. Lou Gehrig, who stood in front of a packed house on July 4, 1939 to say goodbye, knowing he would one day be disabled by and die from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the disorder that had begun to attack his body the previous year.

Not much of Gehrig’s farewell speech survives on film, but what remains is a testament to a universal truth in life, no matter what your disability is:

“I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.”

Got a Hangnail? You May Be Eligible For the Paralympics!!!

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by Treadmarkz

Of course you’ve got to be a great athlete too, but…

Does anybody else find it disturbing that to qualify for the Paralympics, all you need is a pair of contact lenses? Yes that’s right, apparently anyone whose vision is a little blurry can be a Paralympic athlete.

Granted, I have spent a good amount of time on this blog and on others reminding people that the definition of “disabled” can be extremely broad, even reminding my readers that, in fact, one could argue that those who wear glasses could be considered disabled. But isn’t the Paralympics supposed to be for athletes who cannot partake in the Olympics with fully functional walking athletes because of their disabilities? That was my understanding.

I was watching the Paralympic Judo and it seemed to me that the athletes who were squaring off in the competition had no visible disability. I thought “Did they add Tourette’s Syndrome to the Paralympics?” Because the athletes in the Judo competition definitely had no visible disability, and they had no ailment or disorder holding them back in any way, that is for sure. And this may sound narrow-minded as Hell, but if it is not a visible disability – if it does not visibly hold one back physically – then it has very little to do with physical competition. So I wanted to know what the guidelines were in the Paralympics. So I looked it up.
There are certainly many genuinely disabled people in the Paralympics, and the categories make a lot of sense, and they make it fair so as not to have a no-armed, one legged blind man with cerebral palsy fencing against a guy who is near-sighted. But contact lenses? Seriously?

Top 11 List of People Who Are More Disabled Than I Am (Bless Their Dippy Hearts)

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by Treadmarkz

Why 11 and not 10? Well…it’s complicated but I think it’s in the Americans with Disabilities Act somewhere. I get 11 automatically because I am in a wheelchair. Anyway, on with the list of People Who Are More Disabled Than I Am.

PS: I’ve got spina bifida, in case you are new to “Leaving Treadmarkz Across The Universe”. Okay, here’s the list, and in no particular order, because I didn’t have the heart to place any higher emphasis on any of these people in comparison to the others.

1. People who find themselves using text message language in legal documents out of habit. (U no wut I mean?) These people just bug me and I wanted to put them on my list.

2. People who begin their fast food order with the word “gimme”. Usually it’s men, but not always. But regardless, I always wonder if they talk that way at home and what it gets them.

3. The two geniuses in the story at this link. Clearly human life means very little to them, and I don’t want to make them out to be representational of their entire generation, so I won’t, but I worry. (Sorry this link no longer valid but it originally linked to a story about two teenage girls who refused to give up screwing around with their cell phones and pagers even though the story they were interviewed for was about deaths resulting from such behavior.)

4. People who have a quote from one literary great or another to punctuate or sum up every conceivable real life situation they encounter.

5. Larry King, for two reasons that come to mind right off the bat:

I. He asked Paul McCartney if he ever wakes up in the morning and pinches himself.

II. He asked Ringo Starr “What’s it like being an ex-Beatle?” Seriously

When is this guy going to retire?

6. People who walk up to the front door of the mall and press that little “Door Open” button with the little blue guy in the wheelchair on it, knowing full well that pressing that button will make getting the door open take about three times longer than it would to just walk up to it and fling that sucker open! Some people who are not in wheelchairs really need to empower themselves by using the physical abilities they have.

7. Jesse Jackson/Don Imus: These guys should have a “Saying Stupid Things In Public” contest. Not that this has anything to do with the conventional understanding of “disabled”, but these guys clearly both have cloudy perception of common sense which holds them back, disables them.

8. This guy has more problems than I am qualified to discuss, not being a licensed therapist.

9. Anyone who puts all the energy of their youth into building up their bodies, at all costs to their mental, emotional and physical health, including the use of steroids. Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire are good examples. These guys are all clearly unstable and willing to say anything that will allow them to continue their lifestyles. These people are like shooting stars and when they burn out, man, it’s gone. They won’t have anything left but a shell of a body with nothing upstairs to back it up. These four men were like the golden boys of Major League Baseball in the late 80s and they did well with it, but, all four ended their careers in disgrace.

10. People who spend more time figuring out what to call themselves than they do being themselves.

11. World leaders who use the word “nucular”. I couldn’t resist. I’m sorry.

THERE…how’s that for self-righteousness!

A Time Machine With Hand Controls, Preview of Episode III

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by Treadmarkz

Be sure to stay tuned in to Treadmarkz.wordpress.com as we lighten the mood a bit for the next installment of “A Time Machine with Hand Controls.” Join us as the four-wheeled rambler leaps across the space-time continuum to 1948. Here, we will drop in on the pioneering days of wheelchair athletics, and the precursor to the Paralympics.

Treadmarkz’s Sociological Study: Brian Sterner vs. Adam Bender

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by Treadmarkz

In just the past four days more people have visited treadmarkz.wordpress.com to read about Adam Bender, the one-legged little league catcher, than those who have visited to read about Brian Sterner, the quadriplegic who you will remember was tossed out of his chair by an arresting officer back in February. That story continues to get hits, and until today was the biggest story in the history of treadmarkz.wordpress.com.

This just goes to show that people do like happy news, and prefer a story about a success and (I hate this phrase) a triumph over adversity, to a story about a person who has been victimized. It’s funny though because even my story about Allen Keita did not get this much publicity and that was awesome what he did!
I guess it is because the sun is out and things are looking up.

Happy Summer, and enjoy your visit to Treadmarkz.wordpress.com!!!

Before There Was Adam Bender, Before There Was Jim Abbott, There Was Pete Gray

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by Treadmarkz

It appears to me that my readership is interested in the story of Adam Bender, the one-legged Little League catcher from Kentucky. Most of you will probably remember Jim Abbott, the pitcher for the California Angels in the late-80s and early-90s. But how many of you have heard of Pete Gray?

Jim Abbott was missing the business end of his one arm, but Pete Gray was missing an entire arm. He played in the outfield for the St. Louis Browns (now the Baltimore Orioles) for just one season, 1945. Nothing magical, in fact he only batted .218, well lower than an “average” hitter. But plenty of lower-than-average batters come and go every season in the major leagues. Having one arm had little to do with it. As you will see from any photo of Gray at bat, having one arm left him able to swing more freely than he would had he had two arms.

And, one could argue that the only reason Pete Gray was given a call-up to the Browns that year was because we were still in the midst of World War II, and many of the game’s greats were still away in the South Pacific or Europe. But if Major League owners were trying to fill the empty spots left by greats like Ted Williams, Bob Feller and Stan Musial, I find it hard to believe that the first place they’d look was toward a one-armed man. No, Gray had to have earned his tryout, and then his spot on the team.

For all of you baseball history buffs, no the Browns were not owned by Bill Veeck yet in ’45, so Gray was not one of Veeck’s sideshows (see Eddie Gaedel), though some have claimed that Gray’s tenure with the Browns was a “gate attraction” and that he was being exploited. This may be true and it may not be. But if he had not reasonably held his own at the plate and had not shown pretty good glove work and foot work in the field and on the base path, he would not have lasted even as long as he did. And guys like Jim Abbott never would have had a chance, and kids like Adam Bender would be a complete side show. Thankfully Bender is far from that.

Adam Bender, Best Little-Leaguer On One Leg, and a Darn Good Player, Period

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by Treadmarkz,

Not long ago, I wrote a little bit about how I couldn’t play little league as a kid being in a wheelchair, so instead I became completely and totally engrossed in baseball history, lore and statistics. I just want to say that this kid Adam Bender has made me regret that I never demanded a tryout. I even wanted to be a catcher just like him, thinking it would be easiest for me. I don’t know if that is true, but it is working for Bender, who was born with cancer in his leg and had to have it amputated.

You can see from the video above that he is not just given a chance because he is disabled. He plays his position and he can leg out a double and slide into second base with plenty of time to spare. And that, after only pausing to grab a set of crutches when he hits first base. And the crutches are necessary only because he refuses to wear a prosthesis.

Already I am seeing shades of the memorable if not great career of Jim Abbott, the one-armed pitcher for the California Angels, who inspired me so much in the late 80s and early 90s.

Why I Like Injured Professional Athletes

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by Treadmarkz

I’ve written a bit about my love for the game of baseball. But I just thought of another reason I love baseball season. Because between April and October (football and basketball pick up the slack from November to March) if you watch the news you can be sure to here stories about players who are on the “disabled list” or the DL.
I love the DL stories. Because it is one good example of a news story where the primary focus is, and should be, the person’s disability. As I have said before, I don’t like stories where the headline is “disabled man performs such and such a feat”. I like to see disabled people in the news, but on their own merits, not on the fact that they are disabled and “look what they were able to pull off!”

So the disabled list for Major League Baseball and other sports, takes the heat off us truly disabled people who are just trying to live our lives and accomplish our goals without being held up as heroes for it, and shows other journalists just when it is appropriate to point out disabilities.