Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Sports: Beisbol

The last ten days have been so hectic that I haven’t kept up my diet of pulp fiction and old movies.

To relax – and to prepare for the start of the season – I’ve been watching the inaugural World Baseball Classic. This in spite of the fact that ties are allowed, a ten-run ‘mercy rule’ is imposed, and the tournament’s last two rounds are single elimination. These affronts must make purists like Bob Costas want to die so they can turn over in their graves.

Still, there have been some good games, and it’s been fun to get a sense of baseball’s international flavor. Japan took the title thanks in part to a bravura display of leadership by the Seattle Mariners’ Ichiro, a man I aspire to emulate in every way. Here’s hoping he brings some of that fire to the AL West pennant race this year. I plan at least one trip to Safeco Field, which has its own share of international flavor. There’s nothing like eating sushi in the hot sun.

Miscellaneous: I’m Your Employer, Fly Me

Thanks to the travel boom, the days of airline employees and their families flying for free are numbered.

My father spent more than thirty years working runways, so I know firsthand how prized that perk is. Using it was always a little complicated. You’d have to dress up when you flew in case the only available space was in first class; the company wanted you to look like you belonged there. To this day I can’t wear casual clothes when I travel, even though it would make the extended security checks easier.

Flying home from college meant waking up at 4 AM to catch the first plane out of Boston’s Logan Airport, then spending the rest of the day in St. Louis waiting for a connecting flight. Sometimes two or three would take off before my name was called, but I was always home in time for dinner.

That fringe benefit made attending an out-of-state college feasible. It also allowed our family to spend part of each year in Ireland visiting relatives. One of my few regrets is that I didn’t take advantage of it to see more of the world.

Now when my father flies he has to pay full fare, and the planes belonging to the airline he worked for only take to the skies in The Aviator. Truly the end of an era.