Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Blame it on the rain

Scenario: Home Depot in River Park on Saturday

Deanna and I have darted inside, because of course it’s started monsooning. Again. We pick up what we can inside, and then we need to go to the uncovered part to get plants and such. I’m perusing the pepper plants, and it starts raining harder.

Me, yelling at no one in particular: STOP! Make it stop! Can’t someone make the rain STOP??!

Home Depot Lady poking her head around the corner of the aisle: Can I help you dear?

Me: THE RAIN! Make it STOP!

HDL: Oh! I know, I wish I could!

Scenario: I see Kathleen my tenant over the weekend in the backyard.

Kathleen: Could you cut the grass in front? It’s getting pretty long…

Me, thinking about the grass in which jungle tigers or Jimmy Hoffa are probably hiding: Oh SURE, I’d be HAPPY TO, if it EVER STOPS RAINING!

Scenario: Starbucks this morning, after the dog park

I walk in and am greeted as my usual rock$tar self.

Holly: Tasha! Grande?

Robert: Petite scone?

Me: MAKE IT STOP! Make the rain stop!

Robert: We’re working on it, but…

Me: Do what you have to do! PLEASE, make it STOP!

Scenario: Doggy daycare, after Starbucks

Nancy: Hey, how’s it goi….

Me: MAKE IT STOP! Make the rain stop!

So we can see from the above scenarios that yes, Miss Tasha has finally lost her ever-loving mind. April was one of the coldest on record in Chicago. This May was the 3rd wettest on record. Every single time I go out to Skokie to plant tomatoes and anything else in between storms, the monsoon rains move in shortly thereafter. Of course.

This morning I spent hours not planting anything new, oh no, but replanting half of the tomato plants, which had gotten flattened and drowned and killed by the damn massive storms. I also had to replant cukes and zucchini and beans, since the seeds apparently rotted in the rain.

Worst of all…….I have yet to plant the pattypan squash.

This must stop. Now.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Back to Bat Girl Zen

After the pitch, we’re off back to the elevators to go to our seats for the game, with thanks to the Sox for supplying half of them for free (!). We say goodbye to our handlers, and then, as we’re getting off the elevator, my mom is suddenly AWOL. I look back, and she’s chit-chatting away with someone who looks vaguely familiar. She gets off, all a flutter.

Mom: Didn’t you see? That was Governor Quinn!

Cori and I look at each other, clearly thinking the exact same thing.

Me: Damn, I wish I had noticed! I would have asked him what the hell it is with property taxes in Illinois being so high!

Cori: And I would have asked him why he’s bankrupting the state with no pension reform. What the hell, guy?

Mom: I wish I had told him he looks SO much better in person than he does on tv! On tv he looks so old and ugly, but he looked so young and dapper! Nowhere near as horrible as he looks on tv.

Me: Umm, mom, it’s probably better you didn’t have a chance to say that…..

We then repair to our seats to watch the game, and have a raucous good time watching the White Sox kick ass, clearly thanks to my warming up the field for them and all. And thanks to Cori’s Rack. That girl has some amazing powers.

It’s notable, however, that only after he’s sucked down the two margaritas I bought him as a result of our bet, that my brother has second thoughts about the whole thing. Realizing that the Sox didn’t really kind of do anything, that there was no mention anywhere of the whole Breast Cancer Awareness Day, that even the players didn’t know who we were. And that clearly I did win the bet after all. Hmm, sneaky, that one.

NB Andrew: You know, I think it’s because the White Sox didn’t have their home game on Mother’s Day. Yeah, that’s probably it.

Me: Dayna’s game for the Yankees wasn’t on Mother’s Day, and she got to hang out in the dugout, meet all the players, hang out behind the batting cage with the coach – hell, I think they even let her run the bases a few times, just for yucks. Maybe even put her in the starting lineup. Dayna said it was the best day of her life.

NB Andrew: Well, it’s probably because this game is a couple of weeks after Mother’s Day. Too much time in between.

Me: My friend Amy’s game for Detroit was just this past Thursday. She was interviewed on tv, and her and her family were in a suite, and the Detroit Komen people stopped by to greet her, and the announcers kept mentioning her, and she said she was treated like a queen by the whole Tigers organization.

NB Andrew: Well….umm…..hey, how ‘bout them Blackhawks?

We also get into a discussion about the first first pitch vs. second first pitch thing.

Normal Brother Andrew: And you didn’t even get to throw out the first pitch – it’s too bad the Kid went before you.

Me: No, are you kidding? That was perfect! This way the Kid was the warm-up, and I was the closer.

Now, I probably sound like we had a lousy day – and that couldn’t be further from the truth. It was a gorgeous day at the ballpark with my favorite people, and we had the best time. Maybe not because of White Sox management - I mean really, it’s not like they needed to do all that much, and certainly nothing that would have actually cost them any money. As my brother said, this was kind of low-hanging fruit for them. They could have thrown us a few bones, like getting to meet and chat with all the players, and gotten some great PR out of it – you know, kind of like every other team did. After all, how could you NOT love the Yankees after what they did for my friend Dayna?

Not content to let breast cancer survivor Dayna Varano watch batting practice from in front of the Yankees' dugout, manager Joe Girardi insisted she join him on his customary perch right behind the batting cage.

Varano was welcomed by Girardi and the rest of the Yankees as an honorary batgirl before Thursday night's game against the Royals. She had plenty of smiles, but, as she expected, plenty of tears.

Varano said that she and Girardi spoke about members of the Yankees manager's family who had suffered from cancer. In between, Girardi made sure she met any Yankees player who walked by.

Asked who had given her autographs, Varano turned around to reveal a jersey littered with signatures.

"It happens fast and furious, so I'm not positive of everyone that went by," Varano said. "But they're all so great."

"It's an absolute honor for us," right fielder Nick Swisher said. "All of us, we've been very blessed to be where we are. We haven't had to go through the kind of things she's had to go through. So for all of us, she's a major role model."

Besides watching batting practice, Varano threw out the ceremonial first pitch and assisted Girardi in the delivery of the lineup card to home-plate umpire Brian O'Nora. She was joined by her mother; her husband, Steven; and three of her four children, Alexa, Siena and Luca.

And then there's the video of Dayna enjoying her amazing awesome day - I will only note that she did NOT almost get hauled away for getting too close to the dugout.

Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t be the Miss Tasha we all know and…..well, know, if I weren’t curmudgeonly and bitter. So yes, I’m rather annoyed that I managed to win the Bat Girl Contest for the one team that seemed to do less than any of the other 29, from what I can tell. The team that was owned by not just the Yankees and Detroit and all the other teams, but especially the Cubs, for god’s sake. I’m slightly peeved that the Sox didn’t do anything at all for the breast cancer awareness home game – where they usually do something for a whole bunch of survivors, not just the Bat Girl. And they give out pink hats or some such schlock. All my people deserve their pink schlock!

I’m bummed that no one bothered to interview me – not that I give a rat's ass about yet more fame and fortune, but because I didn’t get a chance to say what I would have said, which is this: that breast cancer is deadly. That there is no cure. I would have told them that all the pink is great, but the problem with it is that it can give the impression that breast cancer isn’t as serious as it is. That my friends and I are fierce advocates for moving beyond just awareness – that we need to focus on education, educating not just doctors who continue to tell women that they’re too young for BC, until they’re suddenly stage 4, but also women who have never heard of Inflammatory Breast Cancer, for example, which can be very aggressive. And that we need a damn cure already. Awareness isn’t enough. Find a fucking cure already - our friends are dying.

But I didn’t get to say any of that, because there was no PR associated with this whatsoever, which is a shame for the whole "awareness" part of this. Maybe the problem is that the bar is set pretty high for this event, so anything other than the full court press seems a bit...inadequate. Plus there's some home team pride going on here - we were all kind of sad that our beloved White Sox were basically owned by every other team.

My family and friends though, they cared and they all made me feel like a total rock$tar, though I don’t feel I deserve that appellation. They made the effort to come spend the day with me, and those who couldn’t make it, sent emails and Facebook postings and irate letters to the MLB insisting that I get my first pitch – and, well, pretty much I felt like the luckiest person on earth. One dear friend, Dee from Alaska, cc’d me on the email she sent to Kate Gibson, the MLB woman – and it was so sweet and thoughtful, it brought me to tears. And further solidified my already Zen approach about the whole thing – that no matter what the White Sox did or didn’t come up with, it would be an amazing and perfect day.

But my dark day back in July of 2008, at the Sox game, that was a different kind of day entirely. We’ll recall that my whole goal with all of this was to get my perfect day back, one that wasn’t completely screwed up by my having to leave in the 4th inning to go see my first set of doctors – this was shortly after I was diagnosed – thinking that they’d be the answer to everything and that I could move forward with a treatment plan. Instead, these doctors told me I didn’t have very many treatment options, that chemo doesn’t work on my kind of tumor, that my only option was a mastectomy, and oh yeah, that even with reconstruction, I’d still be disfigured. “Your breast will never look anything like a normal breast.” Yes, they said that.

That was by far the most traumatic day I’ve had of any related to The Cancer. By far. It still has the power to bring me to tears, when I remember the feelings of hopelessness and abject fear and rage at the unfairness of it all.

So I wanted my perfect day at the ballpark back, with my brother, in large part to thank him for everything. In spite of his original “could be worse” faux pas, he’s been one of my biggest supporters, so the fact that he didn’t get to meet the players he most wanted to meet, that bums me out. I would have easily given up the 2nd first pitch if he had had a chance to do that.

But as my brother and I were driving home, I had a bit of an epiphany. That there are no do-overs, really, but that sometimes you come full circle in a way that’s truly satisfying. That I had gone from a very traumatic cancer-related day that was etched in my mind forever, to one a few years later where I was laughing and yucking it up and having a great time with my Cancerchick friends as well as others I had become closer to in that time. With some of these women who I had met only because of BC, but I now feel my life wouldn’t be complete without them in my life.

So in the end, I have to say that I didn’t quite get my perfect day back.

I got one that was even better.

My Bat Girl Odyssey, cont.

I’m walking over towards the dugout and figure I’ll just lean against the fence and get a picture there, and Kristine is mumbling something in an increasingly panicky voice, something about “security” and “can’t go near the dugout” and whatnot. I’m not really paying attention, because really, she can’t possibly be serious. So I get to the stairs and turn around to pose, and KH2 is waving her arms frantically.

KH2: No no, you can’t go near the dugout! The security…..hey, I’m sorry, she doesn’t know…..

A menacing-looking Security person is coming towards me, as I stand there incredulous. Are they fucking serious??

Security: Miss, you…

Me, tersely interrupting: I’m moving.

I try standing at the very end against the dugout fence, but no, that too is verboten. So I stand about a foot in front of it, and look sullen. Which isn’t hard to do, because now I’m a little pissed.

Me, to Kristine: Are you serious? So every other Bat Girl gets to actually sit inside the dugout for their games, and you’re ready to have Security haul me off because I’m too close?

(Please note the pictorial evidence, of Katie Whosiwhatsit, the Bat Girl for the Chicago Cubs, IN THE FRICKING dugout both before and DURING THE GAME.)

KH2: Umm….I…..I’ve only worked here since November! I don’t know! I’m just the messenger!

Me, surly and incredulous: So what do we actually get to do, other than stand here on this little circle?

KH2: Well, some of the players will be coming out soon…

Me: Do you know which ones? Buehrle, Konerko, Prbzbzbzbzbynski?

KH2: I don’t know….

Me: Just out of curiosity, are any of the Blackhawks here?

KH2: Umm…..


Finally some players start heading onto the field, while at the same time, kids are descending on the ballpark, coming down the aisles such that the players are on the field, and the kids are in lines going up the stairs in the stands. Since we’re on the field, KH2 starts taking us on the rounds of the players. Where it becomes clear they have no idea who we are or why we’re there. Breast Cancer Awareness Game? Ha.

This is how it goes. We get to a player, wait patiently, then KH2 taps said player on the shoulder. The ensuing dialogue is as follows:

KH2: Hi Paul, this is our esteemed Honorary Bat Girl that we’re honoring for Breast Cancer Awareness Day, and we’re so excited to have her here with us! Let me introduce you.

Ha, just kidding! This is how it really goes:

KH2: Umm, excuse me…..could you maybe take a moment……maybe just quickly sign her shirt?

Honestly. So I get my shirt signed, my brother gets his ball signed, and Mickey is annoying me because here my brother and I are, trying to be polite and not suck up too much of the players’ time when there are these long lines of kids, and Mickey is having each player sign a ball AND her shirt.

Me: Mickey! Pick ONE, ball or shirt! Don’t be rude.

Mickey: Oh, okay.

She then ignores me and continues to have them sign both. So we make the rounds like this, and are hustled quickly past one side because the Dodgers are practicing their pitches there, and all the players are perfectly nice and gracious – which is cool, given they have no idea who we are – but we don’t get to chat with any of them. Except one, who is my new hero: Gavin Floyd.

Yes, Gavin figures out that we’re somehow “special” – maybe he notices the shirt with the huge pink ribbon on it – and actually takes a moment to chat with us. About the weather, the game, whatever. We’re talking with a real live player! And I get my picture with him! Swoon.

After we make the rounds, we head back to the little circle and meet up with Stacy.

Stacy: Ooh, I like all those signatures on your shirt. Are you going to wear your shirt…..when you throw out the opening pitch?

Omg! Much happiness and exultation! My brother now decides I owe him drinks, and I happily accede. I get my fricking opening pitch!

Elated, we head off to the stands, and are told to come back at 12:15 to go back on the field for some special pre-game ceremony. Not sure what that is, but I know that for other games they’ve had some walk around the field for the Bat Girl and her family and friends, and a coterie of other survivors, all with much fanfare. I call Cori to find out where she is.

Me: Cori, I get to throw out the first pitch! Where are you guys? Are you close?

Cori and my mom are joining me and my brother for the on-field ceremony, yet neither is here yet.

Cori: There was confusion about who was picking up whom – we’re driving like maniacs on the Ike! We’ll be there soon!

Me: Cool, get here in 15 minutes!

My brother and I wander about, I track down margaritas and swig one down, find my mom and her friend Suzanne, and finally get a text from Cori.

“Just jumped out of the moving car, on my way to the gate.”

Sweet! See, this is the definition of a true friend – someone who’s willing to jump out of a moving vehicle for you.

Finally Cori gets there with her family, along with Robyn and Adrienne, and Don’s here already, so the gang’s pretty much all here. Whee! Time for fame and glory!

We head back in and go back onto the edge of the field, and I get the ball that I’m going to throw out. The first pitch! Yay me! Yay…wait, what?

Stacy: Okay, so we’ll have the first pitch, and then you’ll go….

Me: Wait, I’m the second first pitch? Who’s throwing the first one? Patrick Toews? Some kid with cancer?

Stacy: Let’s see……some seasonticketholder (she says this really fast).

It seems that perhaps I’m a last-minute add-on, probably as they realized that they’re having just a season ticket holder trump me on the first pitch. And this Bat Girl thing is supposed to be a big deal – at least based on how every other team has done it. So I chit chat with the kid who’s throwing out the first first pitch.

Me, to kid who’s maybe 17, and whose dad clearly got him this gig: So what’s your deal? Why do you get to throw out the first pitch? (please note that I say this in a friendly fashion – he seems like a nice kid, and this whole day is just kind of entertaining, quite frankly.)

Kid: I honestly have no idea. I don’t even deserve this.

Me: So you don’t have cancer, like me?

Kid: No.

Me: Hmm, well then, you had better throw out a good first pitch. Do you play baseball?

Kid: I do play baseball.

Me: Awesome! So it had better be a fastball over home plate.

Me, adding: No pressure or anything.

I then talk to the coordinator guy, who explains to me the sequence of events.

CG: Okay, so you get to the mound, and you can stand on top of it, or before it…
Me: Oh, I’m definitely standing on top. No guts, no glory, that’s what I say.

CG, looking at me with something akin to respect: Well. Okay then. Good for you!

I have a new fan. And this guy I like – he’s friendly and knows his stuff. But I honestly can’t even say I dislike anyone we’ve met – they’re all very nice, especially Stacy and Kristine, but it’s also clear that their White Sox higher-ups put little thought into this day, at least in terms of what women might like. A guy? Yeah, he'd be excited at just breathing the same air as some White Sox players. A woman? Yeah, we pretty much want to be made to feel special.

Because no, there’s no pre-game ceremony. They sing the anthem. Kid throws out the first first pitch. We high five each other as he’s coming in, and then it’s my turn. I wave to the crowd, and am suddenly nervous – I stopped practicing my pitch 2 weeks ago when I was told I wouldn’t get to throw anything. Damn. I would take my time, but who the hell wants to watch me stand there and dither? I give the ball a little toss, then throw it, and……..close! One little bounce, less than a foot from home plate and Buehrle. Whew, I’ll take it.

As I’m walking up to Buehrle as instructed, I tell him “I think it’s great all the work you and your wife do with dog rescue organizations!”

Him: Oh, that’s all my wife’s stuff.


Talk about a fallen idol. Well, not fallen really, since he's still very gracious and it was cool to get a chance to meet him – but still a bit of a surprise. Though throwing out a pitch? Yeah, freaking awesome.

(Next: why this was the best day ever.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Zen and the art of being a Bat Girl

Before the game

Normal Brother Andrew has come into town from California for the weekend for the game, and I’ve come back early from working very hard at Galena with Miss Nettie also to go the game – since the Sox didn’t have a home game on Mother’s Day, they’ve picked the May 22nd one against the LA Dodgers as their Breast Cancer Awareness Game. Supposedly. At least that’s the idea.

Given that the WS haven't been too forthcoming with any details, I have the strong sense that this will be totally half-assed, in keeping with the spirit of the typical Chicago sports team. My brother thinks the White Sox will channel the spirit of Bill Veeck, he of the promotions centered around midgets and other strange hoopla, and will do it up right. Hmm. We decide to bet on it – mai tais to the winner.

Arriving at the game

We follow instructions and pull up to the parking lot to the south of the stadium. My contact Stacy was supposed to put my name on their list.

Me: Hi, my name is supposed to be on the list. Last name is Huebner?

Parking lot guy: Hmm, no, it’s not there. What’s the name of your contact?

Luckily I had looked up Stacy’s last name - and even kind of remembered it.

Me: Stacy….Tchahaloupoulas, or something incomprehensible like that.

PLG: Okay, can you pull over there and call her?

Me, sighing: Sure.

I start pulling over, and before I can say anything, Andrew pipes up.

NB Andrew: So. I guess I owe you a mai tai, huh?

We decide to go double or nothing, and I call Stacy, who can’t understand the error, but she’s going to call down. In the meantime, we decide to take some pictures, to chronicle the esteemed Bat Girl Journey. I also figure I might as well include all bystanders in our pictorial, so I go to chat with the parking attendant people.

Me: Hey, I’m chronicling our journey here – can we get a picture of me in a pretend argument with you guys?

PAP: Oh no, no arguments! No no….

Me: Umm, I said pretend argument. You know, as in make believe?

They refuse to play along, but Andrew has gotten some pictures of me arguing with them about our getting into a pretend argument, so that works.

Finally, Stacy calls down, and we’re allowed into the parking lot. Needless to say, this doesn’t bode well for any kind of coordinated effort on the part of the White Sox……

Inside, at Guest Relations

Me: Hi, I’m supposed to ask for Stacy Tchihalalaloupoulos?

Desk person: Stacy Tsihlopoulos?

Me: Yes, that’s it.

DP: Okay, hold on.

Stacy shows up a few minutes later,

and after the introductions and my being given a glorious bag of pink schwag AND my Bat Girl jersey (!), I decide to ask the most important question.

Me: So, since I’m not throwing out the first pitch, who is? Someone famous?

Stacy: Umm, you know, I really don’t know? (She looks at her detailed schedule of events for the day.) No, I don’t have that information just now.

Me: So you don’t mind if we storm the field, like the Liggetts, do you? Though of course without beating up any refs. That would be rude. (bright smile)

Stacy, smiling nervously: Ha. Ha. Umm…

Me: Oh, I’m just kidding! We’ll probably just run around a bit, blurs in pink, chased by security. It’ll be fun!

Stacy doesn’t seem to understand my brand of humor, and she goes off for a few minutes – when she comes back, she has another person with her, an even younger woman named Kristine. Or as I think of her, Handler #2.

Kristine Handler #2: Hi! Okay, so I’ll help Stacy if she needs help keeping an eye on…..I mean…..assisting in making sure you all have a perfect day.

We set off, my brother and I and my friend Mickey who has come early and thus joined our little group.

Me: So what exactly do we get to do? Do we get to meet all the players? Do I have to beat any small children? I did put on the foil, just in case.

KH2: The kids won’t be on the field, they’ll be in the stands, so…..

Me: Excellent! That’ll keep the beatings down to a minimum.

Poor Stacy has disappeared, probably to go for a drink.

We get onto the field, and….no one’s there. But the glorious field! I’ve donned my special Bat Girl shirt, so I dump my other bags and start to make a beeline for the field.

KH2: Umm…..can you…I mean….do you mind just staying here in this little area? They don’t let anyone on the field.

Me, frowning: What? That’s….hey, look at those little seats in the front part of the dugout – can I take a picture there?

KH2: Umm…..but…..I don’t think……

I start walking over towards what I'll soon learn is the Sacred Exalted Dugout…..

(Next: whereupon our plucky heroine Miss Tasha almost gets herself tackled by Security)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Of squash and baseball

It has come to my attention that some people are accusing me of nefarious doings, just to get more people to come and read my little blog. Which is ridiculous. (By the way, my 500,000th reader will win a BIG prize! Just sayin.’)

To wit, here’s this comment from Alert Reader Robyn, who believes that I mention pattypan squash incessantly just to bring the pattypan squash aficionados dashing here all willy nilly:

Hmm... so people are coming in for patty pan squash and you post another patty pan squash topic. Heard of keyword stuffing much? At least post a recipe for the poor lost souls.”

Clearly, I have no idea what she’s talking about with this concept of “keyword stuffing” – just because I mention pattypan squash on rare occasion. And who wouldn’t? Who does NOT like, nay love, those bright yellow cheerful little vegetables, known as pattypan squash? The veritable king of the vegetable garden, those little pattypan squash are, yes indeed.

But since we all know that I take every single comment made here to heart, behold, I present you all a recipe on how to use the little sucke….I mean delicacies.

And by the way, the rumor that I’m going to rename this blog The Pattypan Squash Route to Kona is just that, a vicious rumor. I swear.

Pattypan Squash Casserole

  • 3 pattypan squash
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed tomato soup
  • 1 cup water
  • tons of cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (175 degrees C). Grease or spray a 13x9 inch baking dish.
  2. Bring one inch of water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add squash, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, or until a fork can pierce the stem with little resistance. Drain, and slice off the top stem of the squash. Use a melon baller to carefully scoop out the centers of the squash. Reserve all of the bits of squash.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the ground beef, sausage, chopped onion, bread crumbs, and egg.
  4. Throw away the squash. It’s served its purpose, making you feel virtuous for even attempting to use the pesky little things.
  5. Place the meat mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  6. In a bowl, stir together the crushed tomatoes, tomato soup, and water. Spoon the tomato mixture over the meat mixture. Dump a ton of cheese on top, yum.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 45 minutes. You may want to place foil or a cookie sheet underneath the baking dish because it tends to bubble over and splash.
  8. Bask in the glory of eating a truly healthy meal, complete with pattypan squash.

Never let it be said that I don’t give useful information here.

And of baseball – my friends have pointed out that the fact that I’m not getting to throw out the first pitch at the game on Sunday is, well, beyond lame. What with me having cancer and all, and the White Sox probably deciding that one of their Bulls or Blackhawks celebrities will get to do the honors. Which, as I pointed out to someone,, is total bullshit. After all, those guys can pick up the phone any fricking day and say hey, can I throw out the first pitch at a game, and the WS would be all over that. Me, this is my one and only chance.

It is perhaps telling that the White Sox woman never gave me her email address. Hmm. But I do have the email for the MLB woman in charge of all this, a lovely woman named Kate Gibson, who I’m sure would be appalled that the teams may not be living up to their end of the deal. Simply appalled.

Now, far be it from me to suggest that any of my eighteens of readers send Ms. Gibson ( an uber-polite letter telling her how much joy I bring to you all, the little people, and how it would break my curmudgeonly little heart to be so denied. And how that might affect my ability to blog here on anything resembling a regular basis. (Sad sigh.) No sirree (, not suggesting anything like that at all.

Nope, not me.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The White Sox and me: the usual Chicago team blues

So we all know that when the Big Day finally comes about, I’ll have a post about how freaking fantastic the whole day was, what fun we had, and so on, right? Because even though my little schtick here is all about the whining, in reality I appreciate all life has to offer, even as I’m slogging my way through a ridiculous bike ride in 45 MPH winds. The little red fox I see makes it all worthwhile.

But be that as it may, the fun times hanging out with Normal Brother and my friends and family, that’ll come later. For now, I have things to say – so let’s commence, with the understanding that I truly am excited about all this.

So I have some friends who were chosen as Bat Girls this year (Dayna for the Yankees, rock star!), and others from last year, and while there’s some variation in what the different teams have the illustrious Bat Girls do, there’s one constant: we get to throw out the first pitch. Always.

So of course, I in my typical dedicated athlete fashion have been practicing my pitch at the dog park. Throwing random tennis balls way past Kona as he looks at his momma like I’ve lost my mind. Practicing my little heart out, since my pitching arm is also my cancer arm, with all the surgeries and so on (Sad Cancer Face). Practicing day and night, rain or shine, picture it, just me, on a cold blustery day, pitch pitch pitch.

You get the idea.

Then a few days ago I talk to the White Sox woman about what’s going on on that day, and we’re talking about how many tickets I need and when to show up, when I ask the all-important question.

Me: Umm, just wondering, I DO get to throw out the first pitch, right?

Her: No, I’m sorry, but you do get a pink bat and a pink wristband.

Me: …….(stunned silence)

Now, I’m not saying the White Sox are the typical Chicago team who doesn’t know how to do anything right – but, they’re the typical Chicago team who doesn’t know how to do anything right. (Hello, Blackhawks! The ones who had the WWF wrestlers doing the Shoot the Puck contest during their so-called Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night!)

I’ve been despondent ever since getting this horrible tragic news. The gleam has gone out of my eye. Especially when I looked up what else is going on on this game day, May 22nd, to discover that it’s also……their Kid Expo Day?? Seriously?? This too was alarming, until I read the following:

On May 22nd join the White Sox and representatives from Chicago area sports teams, including Blackhawks, bears and Bulls, at U.S. Cellular Field as they celebrate a day of health and fitness. Take part in interactive games such as the football toss, shoot the puck and pop-a-shot for various prizes! Activities also include an autograph session, balloonist, caricature artist, face painter, game day entertainment and more!

Blackhawks?? Shoot the puck? Hmm…..

Scenario at White Sox Park on May 22nd, as our plucky heroine arrives for her Big Day

Miss Tasha arrives with her brother and mom for the pre-game festivities, as instructed. There are massive numbers of children running about, screaming and shrieking their little heads off, and instead of the Pink Carpet of Glory Tasha has been expecting, it’s complete chaos.

Me: Andrew! Hey, Normal Brother! Where’s that pink bat? I need to get some of these rugrats out of the way!

Andrew: But I don’t thi….

Me, snarling: Hey kid, outta my way! Have you had cancer? No, I didn’t think so. SCRAM!

Mom: But I don’t thi….

Me, knocking a few kids who are milling about like angry bees out of the way: I see a White Sox player, let’s go! Onward!

Mom: Oh, is it that nice Paul Konerko? I need to talk to him, I’m sure he’s Ukrainian, with a name like Konerko, a son named Nicholas, a…..

(Andrew and I leave our mom with Konerko, and the last we see of them, he looks like a deer caught in headlights, and my mom is pulling out her map of Ukraine to pinpoint exactly where Konerko’s people are from.)

White Sox Rep: Oh, you’re our celebrated Bat Girl! Okay, so, we have these tickets for you in the nosebleed seats, but we’ll pan the camera in your general direction to acknowledge your existence briefly before the game.

Me: Do we at least get our hot dogs on the house?

WSR: Well no, but you do get this pink wristband that signifies how truly special you are to us.

Me: Do we get free mai tais? I’m feeling the need for a drink.

WSR: Well no, but here, have a pink pencil! I know most Bat Girls get to give the dugout lineup card to the umps, but this was the best we could do.

Me: Bu….

WSR, interrupting: Oh, excuse me, I have to go coordinate the helicopter rides and the catered buffet for the children. Have fun!

Andrew: Well, let’s at least try to meet some Sox players, shall we?

Me: Sigh, okay. I think that’s Buehrle over there – I want to tell him how much I appreciate his work on behalf of dog rescue organizations. Wait. WAIT. Is that…Patrick Sharp? A Blackhawk??

Andrew: I have no idea, bu….

(My brother finds himself talking to a vapor trail, as I beeline over to the Blackhawks table and drape myself over it, wielding a pink bat like a cudgel to keep the little ones away.)

Later on the news: “Next up: Chaos erupts at the ball park, as a woman in pink tackles the Komen representative selected to throw out the ceremonial first pitch!”

Well, at least it’ll be interesting….

Sunday, May 8, 2011


So here on my little Blog That’s Sweeping The Nation, I have a stat counter thingie that I can look at to see where my eighteens of fans are coming from. And there are all sorts of interesting doohicky gadgets and stats that I can look at, which I usually don’t bother with, because to me, well, it’s all about volume. Bring ‘em in, move ‘em out, that’s what I always say. Or something like that.

But once in a while I like to know what brings you all, the little people, to my esteemed blog. Is it a search for “triathlon goddess”? For “triathlon training tips to bring one to the peak of physical perfection”? For advice on “how to become practically perfect in every way like Miss Tasha who I’ve heard so much about”?

Shocking as it may be to hear this, the answer to that would be no. A resounding no.

Because the most popular keyword search that brings people here?

Pattypan squash.

Yes, pattypan squash. Apparently my one-time ode to my little pattypan squash at my Skokie garden plot – and the wailing and anguish that ensued when some cretin STOLE one of said squashes – is bringing people here in droves. I kid you not – it’s not as if pattypan squash slightly ekes out the contenders. Oh no. 20% of people who land here come by way of those precious little squash. Everything else, like “Cheez-its” or “dumbass award” or “everything’s fun and games until the flying monkeys attack” – are all just distant runners-up.

Who knew? Who knew there was an underground wellspring of pattypan squash devotees? Sometimes, even I don’t know what to say about such things.


More fame and fortune for Miss Tasha. Well, fame. Well......something. Whatever, I'll take it! Whee!


Honorary bat girls a Mother's Day tradition

One for each team selected by celebrity panel and fan voting

It's time for one of the most popular and meaningful moments on the Major League Baseball calendar. From the bright pink Louisville Sluggers to the Honorary Bat Girls, the collective pursuit to end breast cancer is a Mother's Day tradition at the ballpark.

In advance of Sunday's big day for moms, MLB and Susan G. Komen for the Cure on Friday announced the 2011 Honorary Bat Girl Contest winners, who will be recognized on the field at MLB ballparks during Mother's Day and breast cancer awareness celebrations.

One winner for each of the 30 clubs was selected by a celebrity panel of judges and more than a half-million fan votes on That campaign recognizes baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and have demonstrated a commitment to fighting the disease.

2011 Honorary Bat Girl Contest winners
Club Winner Hometown
D-backs Connie Marino Peoria, Ariz.
Braves Donna Brantley McDonough, Ga.
Orioles* Brigid Morahan Annapolis, Md.
Red Sox* Amy Seich Canton, Mass.
Cubs* Katie Iannitelli Chicago
White Sox Tasha Huebner Chicago
Reds Cheryl Veigel Canton, Ohio
Indians Beth Ann Vanek Munroe Falls, Ohio
Rockies Alma Hubersberger Lone Tree, Colo.
Tigers Amy Maurice Oak Park, Mich.
Marlins* Alison Pages Miami
Astros Linda Anderson Pearland, Texas
Royals* Susan Krigel Chicago
Angels* Melanie Hansen Orange, Calif.
Dodgers Alicia Manzur Upland, Calif.
Brewers Joan Kamholz Albany, Wis.
Twins Carrie Johnson Stillwater, Minn.
Mets* Linda LaCugna Manalapan, N.J.
Yankees Dayna Varano Wayne, N.J.
Athletics Deborah Mata Orinda, Calif.
Phillies* Linda Camerota Brigantine, N.J.
Pirates* Catherine Brennan Verona, Pa.
Padres* Anitra Rooney La Mesa, Calif.
Giants* Jennifer Solorio Sacramento, Calif.
Mariners* Kathleen Willett Snohomish, Wash.
Cardinals* Alissa Nicks Maryland Heights, Mo.
Rays Shari Elliott Bradenton, Fla.
Rangers* Leslie Sewell Benton, La.
Blue Jays* Joanne Lubansky-Johns London, Ontario
Nationals Cathy Colleli Olney, Md.
* Will play home game on Mother's Day

"Major League Baseball's partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, through the Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer program, represents one of our most significant causes," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "The commitment from clubs, players, and fans alike in the fight against breast cancer is truly special, and we are proud to highlight our efforts and increase awareness through our Mother's Day celebration.

During MLB's annual Mother's Day national day of recognition, each Honorary Bat Girl will take part in pregame activities, be honored during an on-field ceremony and receive pink MLB merchandise and two tickets to the game. For clubs that are away on Mother's Day, another home game in May will be selected to recognize its Honorary Bat Girl.

Commemorative dugout lineup cards also will be pink. Those pink bats used in games and signed by teams are authenticated by MLB and then presented exclusively at the Auction site at a later date to raise additional funds for Komen.

"It's a huge thing," Giants president Larry Baer said of the annual Mother's Day event. "What's wonderful is baseball now has sort of an image and an expectation that on Mother's Day, breast cancer awareness and fundraising is going to come to the fore, and prostate cancer on Father's Day.


"It's critical because we're a cultural institution and Mother's Day is a big cultural event in our society, and baseball being purely a very American cultural experience -- going to a baseball game on Mother's Day and Father's Day -- we want to make sure we look out for that community interest. The pink bats, our players have used them, they make statements with the pink ribbons, and our fans really respond."

The Honorary Bat Girl Contest was introduced in 2009 to raise additional awareness and support for the annual Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer initiative celebrated on Mother's Day. In three years, nearly 4,000 testimonials have been submitted and more than six million fan votes have been cast. Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer is a joint partnership between MLB, its licensed partners and Susan G. Komen for the Cure to raise awareness about the breast cancer cause, while also raising funds to support breast cancer research.

The 30 Honorary Bat Girls were among more than 1,500 entrants that were selected by fan votes and a panel of celebrity judges that included Mrs. Billye Aaron, breast cancer survivor, Komen Global Ambassador for breast cancer and wife of Hall of Famer Hank Aaron; Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, breast cancer survivor and founder and CEO of Komen; Gabrielle Union, actress, and supporter of the cause; Red Sox pitcher and lymphoma survivor Jon Lester; Angels ace Jered Weaver, whose mother is a breast cancer survivor; Twins All-Star Jim Thome, whose mother passed away from lung cancer; Yankees broadcaster and breast cancer survivor Suzyn Waldman; and MLB Network analyst and former pitcher Mitch Williams, whose late mother had breast cancer.

"I have been involved for three years now as a judge, and I can honestly say that every person who sends in their story warrants the opportunity to be an honorary bat girl," Williams said. "My mother battled the disease successfully, before losing her battle with brain cancer, so I am extremely proud to be a part of MLB and their involvement with the Susan G. Komen Foundation to raise awareness and money to help fight this terrible disease."

"MLB's Honorary Bat Girl program is wonderful because it highlights the personal stories of those affected by breast cancer," said Katrina McGhee, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. "The program showcases the everyday heroes who have faced breast cancer bravely and underscores why Komen's work to end breast cancer forever is so important."