Five Guilty Pleasures: TIGERS GAMES

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Five Guilty Pleasures
My two Tiger jerseys hang in the closet. Fernando Rodney was born the year after Bill Freehan retired from baseball. I canʼt wear the Rodney one anymore; he pitches against us now for Tampa.

My two Tiger jerseys hang in the closet. Fernando Rodney was born the year after Bill Freehan retired from baseball. I canʼt wear the Rodney one anymore; he pitches against us now for Tampa.

From Dr. Baker: Welcome author Rodney Curtis, a.k.a. The Spiritual Wanderer.
Here is Rodney’s third column …

I should be writing, working out, on the computer looking for jobs, engaging with my family or volunteering out in the community to make this world a better place. Instead, 162 times a year—give or take a few if I’m incapacitated or have read the schedule wrong—I’m checking in with the Detroit Tigers on TV, the radio or online.

In my first book, Spiritual Wanderer, I wrote a chapter about what the Tigers have meant to me throughout my life. I barely understood what was happening in 1968 as the Sock-it To ‘Em boys won the World Series and helped start the healing process in a Motor City that had been ripped by riots the previous year.

I loved them during their Bless You Boys 1984 run. They were unstoppable, beginning their year with a staggering 35-5 record. Part of my soul was bruised by their last-game-of-the-season loss to the Twins in ’87. I can still remember watching from the outfield seats of the old Tiger Stadium as TV cameras illuminated the Gatorade being dumped on Twins manager Tom Kelly.

It was a tough two decades after that. Then 2006 happened. The Tigers went all the way to The World Series.

Instead of Parrish we had Pudge (we also had Placido Polanco and Paws).

Back then, Tom Brookens patrolled the infield. Today, well, Tom Brookens—who looks like he hasn’t gained an ounce and could probably snag a hard liner—still coaches the offense from his box along third base.

Catcher Bill Freehan was my childhood idol and, as I’ve written before, I came literally inches away from shaking his hand until he yanked it back, not wanting to get pine tar all over my hand.

Incidentally, I am convinced my career as a major league catcher was in some small way hindered by my abject fear of round, speeding objects hurtling at me from 60 feet, 6 inches away.

It’s only a game. It’s only a pastime. There is no reason I should be so addicted to the Tigers, but some of my greatest joys in life have been tied to baseball. At least I’m not alone.

Three million fans are expected again to visit Comerica Park this year. And I take no small comfort in the lines from one of my favorite movies of all time (adapted from one of my favorite books of all time) Field Of Dreams. James Earl Jones says these wonderfully poetic words: “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.”

The Tigers made it to The World Series again last year, losing big time. Maybe when they win it all again, the game will lose its allure for me. Maybe that will get it out of my system. Even as I write that, I know it’s not likely. I know I’ll still sneak off to watch, listen or check up on my boys. Especially when we have Cabrera and Scherzer and Verlander and Fielder and …

What’s one of your guilty pleasures?

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Five Guilty Pleasures: COLD COFFEE

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Five Guilty Pleasures
tall iced coffee with Rodney Curtis column photo by Kenny Louie used courtesy WikimediaFrom Dr. Wayne Baker: This week, welcome author Rodney Curtis, whose first two books chart his course from a career in traditional journalism through survival of cancer—and an upcoming third book will cover his life in the crumbling of America’s newspaper industry. Thousands of readers have followed his long-running blog, The Spiritual Wanderer, drawn to his style of laughing even in the face of fear.  As Rodney usually does, this week, he is considering American values from an entirely fresh perspective—looking at those moments of joy that surprise us and keep us going day after day.
Here is Rodney’s first column …

Cold coffee.

Even the phrase instills distrust. Who would sip something icy cold that should—in its natural state—be hot?

I distinctly remember when my wife and I made the conscious decision to jump into the coffee craze. It was the early ’90s and it seemed like coffee was hip and happening (though the phrase “hip and happening” has never been hip and happening). Starbucks had burst onto the scene but since our little town out east wasn’t “sophisticated enough” for one of those joints, we settled on Dunkin Donuts.

First, though, we had to get over the fact that coffee tasted really bad. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but on its own, coffee is bitter and scalding hot. That’s why God invented cream and sugar. Put yourself in our shoes: We were young journalists chasing politicians all over New Hampshire and a molten hot beverage sitting in your cup holder doesn’t always make the best traveling companion. Neither really, did journalist John King—whom I ferried from the airport, all the while hearing nothing but a tapping on his computer—but I digress.

Enter iced coffee. On the very same trip where John King ignored me (something about being on a deadline) we swung through Quikava, a drive-through joint next to the airport. I could keep my eyes on the road while my lips were plastered to a rich, sweet, succulent—chilled—brew shooting through my mouth and veins. Life was incredible.

Then, like a strung-out junkie who finds a full bag of Cheetos, I somehow fell in with an even worse crowd, the chosen frozen. I think it was Coffee Coolattas at first or—wait, no, no, it was definitely Frappuccinos! I catapulted through space and time, ending up first in Midland, where I would actually call ahead at Zero Dark Thirty to the local Dunkin Donuts and order their special homemade version of a Coolatta before work. Then I landed here in the Detroit area, where an evil Cappuccino Blast from Baskin-Robbins was so intoxicating, I devoted an entire chapter about it in my first book, Spiritual Wanderer.

It didn’t stop there, oh no. In the book’s dedication, after mentioning my wife and daughters, I said they were: “The three things in my life better than Cappuccino Blasts!” What the #@! is wrong with me? I openly and publicly admitted to loving my family as much as a caffeinated beverage. I have a disease.

Thankfully, dear reader, my predilections have slightly altered again and the vastly caloric frozen drinks have somewhat given way to the milder, decaffeinated calm of a certain large Tim Horton’s iced coffee. And usually, I walk with my wife down the block to procure one, so there’s at least a modicum of exercise involved.

It’s still cold and it’s still coffee, but for now I think I’ve finally gotten the monkey off my back.

What’s one of your guilty pleasures?

What reliably gives you a moment of joy in daily life?

Share this series with friends. Especially if you’re a regular reader of The Spiritual Wanderer and you want to alert friends to this one-week, temporary home for Rodney’s stories. You know what to do: Click any of those buttons above the cold coffee picture.