Press Coffee Roasters

Have to put in a plug for my namesake (no relation or financial interest, much to my accountant’s chagrin).   Had a lovely visit to the Scottsdale Quarter location of Press Coffee Roasters on Friday, and great to see them doing so well!

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It Almost Came Down to the Wire

I’ll begin with the ending … the improbable almost happened!  The Championship Game of the Arizona Fall  League pits the team in the East with the best record against the best team in the West, and here’s how the 2017 standings wound up this afternoon:

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The team for which for which the Philadelphia Phillies’ prospects played, the Glendale Desert Dogs, had gotten off to a hot start this year.  Unfortunately when Miriam and I arrived they played mediocre ball for a stretch, but got hot again after the Fall Stars game.  As the start of play yesterday, their record was 14-14 and the team ahead of them in the West, the Peoria Javelinas, were 16-12.  Two wins for the Desert Dogs and two losses for the Javelinas would have meant a tie, and with more tiebreaker points the Dogs would have leapfrogged into the Championship Game.

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After witnessing Phils’ prospect Edgar Cabral help the Dogs beat the the Salt River Rafters 5-4 in yesterday afternoon’s contest at Camelback Ranch, we were scoreboard watching via mlb.com on our devices last night, pulling for the Scorpions’ knuckle balling prospect Mickey Jannis to hold the Javelinas in check.  Unfortunately, Peoria put up three runs in the first two innings, and it proved to be too much for the Scorpions to overcome.

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Mickey’s final stat line shows that even though he gave up three earned runs, he still finished the season with a 2.33 ERA.  Quite a respectable showing in the Fall League for the soon-to-be-thirty-year-old, and the Dogs can’t begrudge him for the loss as they were the ones that went cold mid-season.

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So off to Salt River we went for the final anti-climactic season today, watching the Dogs go out on a high note by trouncing the Rafters 11-3.  We spotted a bright red Phillies T-shirt, and introduced ourselves to Robin Neubart.

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Robin was born in South Philly and after a first stint in Arizona in Glendale, returned 21 years ago to settle in Chandler.  She is accompanied to Fall League games by her husband, Dave, a gracious New York fan of both the Yankees and Mets.

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We posed for a nice Phillie Fan Trio shot today, bittersweet seeing the last game when they came so close to appearing in the Championship show down.

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We bid adieu to Zach Green, this year’s Phillies version of Mitch Walding – yet another 1B/3B in the system.  Nice kid, with some pop in the bat, but a long shot to find a place on the parent club’s roster.

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Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack.  I don’t care if I ever get back.  I root for the Phillies, and it’s a shame they haven’t had a winning season since 2011.  But I still love Fall Ball …

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Simply Three

What a phenomenally instrumental group!  Here are four of my favorite covers, followed by two originals (one with a decidedly Arizona look) from Simply Three.

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Touching Tribute to Roy Halladay

We were sitting in the stands in Mesa, Arizona, together with the Coopers this afternoon, applauding the success of Phillies’ third base prospect (Zach Green) who had just homered for his Fall League Team, the Glendale Desert Dogs.

At about the same time, the celebration of Roy Halladay’s life was just beginning at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida and from that point on we were riveted to our phones, watching the proceedings live.  We were considering the idea of flying from Scottsdale to Clearwater, but it just wasn’t feasible so we settled for the next best thing.  You can watch the entire Memorial Service here:

I suspect that the service took place in Clearwater for several reasons, one of which is that the Blue Jay’s Florida Auto Exchange Stadium is antiquated and doesn’t have a video board on which the opening tribute was displayed.  It was a beautifully done video, ranging from his on-field celebration to his retirement.

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And then the live, on-field tributes, hosted by Phillies announcer Tom McCarthy.

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Among the white chair on-field special guests were Jimmy Rollins who played alongside Roy, and Ruben Amaro Jr. who traded for him, but the camera panned by them quickly so you’d only notice them on a pause.

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The Memorial Service speakers included Phillies owner John Middleton, former Blue Jays’ GM J.P. Ricciardi, ex-Phils’ teammate Cole Hamels, Blue Jays’ Head Trainer George Poulis, ex-Phils’ teammate Chase Utley, ex-Jays’ teammate Chris Carpenter, ex-Phils’ manager Charlie Manuel, Roy’s father, and his wife Brandy.

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Halladay 22 - George the Trainer

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Halladay 18 - Carpenter

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Halladay 20 - His Dad

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Take the Last Train To Clarkdale

Not to be confused with the Last Train to Clarksville

We’re talking about a lovely Sedona Tourist Trap, the Verde Canyon Railroad ride between Perkinsville and Clarkdale.  At the outset, permit me to say that the trip itself was Pleasant Valley Sunday material, though could have easily been condensed from four hours to two.  To be fair the experience is very anti-climactic if you’ve already done sufficient sightseeing that you’re red-rock-saturated, particularly on an overcast afternoon such as it was.  The ride is cyclically scenic and there is some interesting history, though there are no empty seats to be had and if you’re stuck in a spot with inconsiderate yahoos yammering non-stop you’ll miss much of the pre-recorded narration.

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Be that as it may (as they say), one can easily catch up on the history online, and here is a promo video that you can watch in the comfort of your own computer.

I’ll add to that a pile of fun pix from an experience that you’ll want to add to your list of things to do in and around Sedona that require little movement, and even less thought.

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The Paradox of Presbycusis

Added to the list of items accompanying the inevitability of death and taxes, we all begin to lose our hearing at some point.  Some of you, or your best friends have hearing aids, and none of us relish reaching that stage of life.  Presbycusis is the sensory analog of presbyopia, that 40-something and beyond stage of life when adults begin to lose visual focusing power.

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I have written about the parallels between visual and auditory processing, but experiencing presbycusis firsthand is an ear-opener.  The paradoxes that come along with the first forays into sensorineural hearing or mechanical hearing loss are numerous.  Principal among them is the concept of “recruitment“, the fact that as you begin to lose segments of hearing, your auditory pathways find a way to recruit healthy residual segments, boosting their sound to compensates for what you’ve lost.  Recruitment comes with paradoxical costs, which means that you’ll find it more difficult to tune out sounds that don’t seem to present any bother to others around you.  Take for example these women having a conversation at Starbucks standing a fair distance away from me as I’m typing this, which seemed inordinately loud to me:

I can distinctly recall when I was in college spending a weekend at my aunt and uncle’s home in Brooklyn.  My uncle would repeatedly plead with my aunt: “Mummy, please speak up.  I can’t hear you!”  Oddly, when I or anyone else present that weekend spoke to him from the same distance, he seemed to have no trouble hearing us. I thought he might have just been giving her a hard time, though as I became more familiar with cognitive factors in hearing I realized it wasn’t volitional on his part.  The tendency is for spouses literally and unwittingly to tune each other out over time, and it has a scientific basis.

But remember, although there may be cognitive factors that influence auditory processing, that doesn’t necessarily extend to nonverbal communication.

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Knuckle Down!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how Mickey Jannis was opening eyes in the Arizona Fall League.  So when I saw that the Scorpions were on the Desert Dogs schedule today, and noticed that Mickey hadn’t started since before the Fall Stars Game, I calculated that he was due to be on the mound.  Sure enough, when we arrived at the ballpark in Glendale, Mickey was in the lineup as the starting pitcher!

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Of course I wouldn’t disturb Mickey before the game, but smiled and wished him luck from afar as #40 took the stride in from bullpen warmups.

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Seats behind home plate are plentiful in the AFL, providing a perfect vantage point as Mickey unleashed his first pitch for a called strike to the Desert Dogs leadoff hitter, Danny Mendick.

Mickey got into a bit of hot water in the first inning by loading the bases with one out, but escaped without a run by cleanly fielding a shot back to the mound off the bat of Phillies’ prospect Cornelius Randolph and firing home to start an inning ending double play.

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Mickey is known for his knuckleball, but what makes him successful is how well he can mix in a fastball to keep hitters off balance.  His last pitch of today’s appearance was his signature knuckler to whiff Phillies’ prospect Edgar Cabral — so befuddled, that he whacked Mick’s battery mate Tomas Nido on the backswing.

Although Mickey gave up 9 hits and 3 earned runs over 5 innings today, his numbers for the Fall remain stellar with an ERA of 1.64, a K/BB ratio of 19/5, and opposing hitters batting only .195 against him.

And then it happened.  I noticed after the bottom of the first that there was a little cheering section for Mickey with the Mets’ blue coloring and orange lettering that read: “Knuckle Down” with a backwards “K”.  Last year there were Tim Tebow devotees who followed his improbable story swelling Fall League crowds.  Could it be that Mickey Jannis was developing his own cult following? Curious I approached the blue T-shirts who proudly introduced Mickey’s fiancee, Emily (matching Mets hat) and Mickey’s mom under the umbrella.  And guess what?  Emily and Mickey are getting married on Sunday!

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Mickey was all business during the game and all smiles afterward, as the destination wedding entourage made their way down to the field.

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I was asked if I could take a group photo, which I was more than glad to do as family and friends first posed for a traditional shot, and then a group knuckle-down.

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Now, among my prized possessions, is a uniquely signed pre-wedding ball.  If you’re a baseball fan, more importantly if you’re an old Phillies baseball fan, you’ll notice that Emily’s last name is Callison.  I asked her Dad if there was any family relationship to a Phillies star of my youth, Johnny Callison, and he wasn’t aware of any.   As SABR history notes Callison was touted to be the next Mickey Mantle, after whom Mickey Jannis was named.

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Mickey’s Dad and I shared the irony, and I was left with a very warm feeling about the special family bonds through baseball.

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Congratulations to Emily and Mickey, and to the extended Callison-Jannis clan on all counts.  I’ll be rooting for them, and for another reunion – this time at Citi Field or Citizens Bank Park!

P.S. – obviously I’m not the only one noticing!  After posting this, two other nice pieces just posted came to my attention – one from Cut4 and the other from Rising Apple.  For more details on Mickey’s journey, take a look at this piece from the Reno Gazette Journal.

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