Thursday, July 29, 2010

Number 44 Not Yet my Facebook Friend

In my world, there's two number 44s which sounds like a church schism. There's the legendary number 44 worn by my friend and former teammate Kenneth Dobyns and then there's the new guy: Roy Oswalt, bringing his small frame but outsized stature, his will to win and the number 44 to play for the team I was raised on, the Philadelphia Phillies.

Keneth44 lives a few scant blocks away from me in South Brooklyn. He's in Bay Ridge and I'm just on the other side of the expressway in Sunset Park. It's a minor distinction. If I had thought about it in advance or been made aware, I might have joined the Westchester Summer League this year because I could have gotten rides from Bay Ridge to SUNY Purchase. It's a haul, believe you me, and the main reason I am not playing summer league this year is that drive-time. But Ken is there and in WUDi, I discovered later this summer. It could have been so easy.

I'm not sure if Ken would say we're friends. Close friends -- certainly not -- but we've spent some quality time together and he has been a mentor to me and many others. I consider him someone to look up to, someone who's seen more of the world and isn't afraid to tell us what the view is like.

We've been in phone contact, email contact, we share close friends on both coasts.

But when it comes to Facebook, this apparently isn't the case. We aren't friends on Facebook. I checked again today. I check everyday, every hour, every time I can, waiting slavishly to get the notice "Kenneth Dobyns has accepted your friend request!"

There's that picture of Ken right there on FB, wearing a fedora at a Yankees game. He always loved the Yankees, was a die-hard fan. I am speaking in the past tense, of course, because I feel I have lost a friend. Next to Ken's smiling visage it says, "awaiting friend confirmation"

We have 37 friends in common, including a certain Jose Invencio who I'm not sure anyone in New York has actually met and whose stated goal in life is to help start a referee-type ultimate league on the East Coast separate from the Mike Gerics/Toad Leber triangle of shame. It's a positively quixotic quest and it's comically doomed to obsolescence.

But I digress. See, Facebook doesn't make Ken and I friends or non-friends. That's a little silly. It's Facebook. I have friends I've never met, Friends of Friends I've never met. I'm a bit of a friend whore, racking up 800 people in my own little niche of the world.

I don't mind the numbers. I like people, I enjoy Facebook, i like stories and seeing snapshots of different people's lives. This entertains, inspires and grounds me all at the same time. It's a simple thing.

My opinion of Ken will not change if he never accepts my FB request or if he reads this post and accepts me tomorrow (ok, honestly, if he reads this blog post and accepts my FB request tomorrow, my opinion of Ken WILL change -- for the worse).

Kenneth44's blog titled "You DIdn't Here It From Me, But..." has long been a great read. I love how his posts aren't just ramblings. They are stories with a beginning, a middle and an end. They are smart, sometimes savage, and they are precise. Reading Ken has always been an enjoyable experience, dating back to the last time I played summer league with him, in the 90s. He wrote insightful and analytical profiles in the WUDi newsletter, a double-sided one-sheet photocopied 60 times and handed out in the parking lot after games.

I wanted to fashion my infrequent blog after Ken's style of writing. I'd like to be clear, concise and sometimes controversial. Perhaps throw in a 50 cent word from time to time and to always have a beginning, middle and end.

With or without that Facebook confirmation. Because in the meantime I have a new number 44 friend in Roy Oswalt, with or without Facebook...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wildwood 2010

You come for the party, you leave with an empty wallet.

You come for the sand, the boardwalk, the walking legions of wiz-made bodies, the SpringShot, the taffy (ok, that's a lie, no one comes for the salt water taffy anymore) the 99 cent pizza, the rollercoasters, the drinking, the mild debauchery, the water parks, the rusty nails, jam bands, monster trucks and this year's top-line shirt (a pinnie, aka a reversible sleeveless basketball-style mesh jersey) that read in big block letters COME AT ME, BRO.

Startin' fights on the boardwalk at Childwood? Naw, too much fun to be had otherwise.

I've had my share of good times and good stories to tell from the annual beach extravaganza that is Wildwood, now with 436 4-on-4 teams this year. My father lives just down the road, i've been to this tournament with two ultimate girlfriends over the years, I've been on near-championship teams and championship beer bracket teams. This year was more of the same, i suppose, but different.

I didn't party much. I played well with the ATL boys and girls, a good bunch of folks. The tournament got a carton of my books, 68 of them, and sold none. I played, i think, in 11 games over the weekend which ties a record for me. The goal, of course, is to play as often as possible. It is sand after all, even if the sand was baking hot (99 degrees in the air on Sunday, hotter on the surface) and my feet got shredded on Saturday so badly that I had to wear tennis shoes, but STILL -- it's Wildwood. It's fun in the sun and it shouldn't end.

But everything comes to an end.

And then when you leave there goes the $200 a night hotel room, minimum 3 nights. The $25 SpringShot ride. The countless dollars spent trying to win a SpongeBob SquarePants stuffed animal at the basketball carney game. The $26 Shrimp Bonanza (George Carlin would call this one out) that had 6 pieces of battered and fried shrimp and 6 naked shrimps from a supermarket platter. The cases of beer, the gas and tolls to spend countless hours on interstates an the Garden State Parkway, the $300 tourney fee split between ten teammates. The money, it goes, usually, but this year I stayed clear of all that.

It's a beach town and a beach summer and you're there for action. The action was had.