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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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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Loss of an Icon in an Icon

There is no doubt that Roy Halladay was a legendary baseball pitcher in a city starved for sports heroes.  Although he played 12 of his 16 seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays, the team that drafted him in the first round in 1995 and put him in the minors straight out of high school, every picture of him in the massive news media coverage of his untimely death shows him in a Phillies uniform.

The Halladay Family issued the following statement yesterday:

Our family is heartbroken in confirming that Roy passed away in a plane crash Tuesday afternoon. While many will remember him for his success as a major league pitcher, we remember him as an amazing father, loving husband and loyal friend.

Roy had many accomplishments in his professional career, the memories of which we will cherish forever. He described each achievement as a team effort rather than an individual accomplishment, a true testament to his character and love for his teammates.
Roy grew up with a passion for planes and always had the goal of becoming a pilot. Since retiring from baseball, he has been actively studying, accumulating the required flight hours and obtaining multiple pilot certifications and licenses. Just as he was known for his work ethic in baseball, he was also widely respected by those who knew him in the aviation community for his hard work, attention to detail and dedication to safety while flying.

He treated his passion for aviation with the same joy and enthusiasm as he did his love for baseball.  That passion was also expressed through his tireless dedication to helping his own children and so many others learn to love and respect the game of baseball. He was an amazing coach for many youth teams, always showing patience and encouragement while reminding each child that they all had a role to play, a way to contribute and add value to their team. His love for the game had no boundaries as we often saw him instructing and encouraging the players on opposing teams. Roy was selfless in every aspect of his life.

While we mourn the loss of the core of our family, we choose to celebrate him and remember the man we knew privately on and off the field. We hope that he serves as an example of professionalism, integrity and hard work for all who knew him. For us, we will forever remember his unconditional love, humility and the sacrifices he made to provide for the family that meant the world to him.

On behalf of our family we thank you for respecting our privacy during this time of overwhelming grief. We also ask that you respect the privacy of our extended family as well as the families and children who Roy has coached, taught or worked with. We are so fortunate and thankful for the outpouring of love and support we’ve received from across the world. A celebration of life will be held on Tuesday, November 14, 2017, at 4:00 p.m. at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida. The service will be open to the public.

Harry Leroy Halladay III won’t be eligible for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame until 2019, and it’s likely that he’ll make it in on the first ballot.  But Roy is already a Hall of Famer in the Arizona Fall League.

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Roy was inducted into the AFL Hall in 2006 when he was a Blue Jay.  No doubt if his plaque were re-done today it would add a bullet point that he won 41 major league games from the 2010 through 2011 seasons for the Phillies as well, the two years in which he became a beloved Philadelphia figure while adding another Cy Young Award to his credits.  It’s remarkable to realize that over his 16 years he had only two losing seasons, one in 2000 when he went all the away back to Dunedin and Class A ball to re-invent himself, and his last year when injury ended his career in 2013.

In celebrating their 20th anniversary in 2012, the AFL took a poll to determine the best alum for each year and Halladay won in a landslide.  He had already made his major league debut as a September call up in 1998 for the Blue Jays, but was assigned to the Grand Canyon Rafters that year for further polishing.

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The Grand Canyon Rafters (forerunner of the Salt River Rafters) played their home games in Surprise Stadium in 1998.  Just after the start of yesterday’s game in Surprise, and for several innings, a couple of military jets were doing flight maneuvers and breaking the sound barrier.  As Phillies prospects Cornelius Randolph and Zach Green looked skyward, I couldn’t help but wonder if Roy Halladay and what he symbolized was on their minds.

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Cooper Scooper

I was casually glancing at the program in Surprise, Arizona this afternoon when much to my surprise I noticed a familiar name that wasn’t there previously – Aaron Brown.  But wait a minute … this Brown was listed as a pitcher, and the Aaron Brown we knew from two prior trips to the Fall League was an outfielder.  So I double checked the Desert Dogs website and sure enough it wasn’t a misprint.  The transaction wire shows that Aaron Brown was assigned to the Glendale Desert Dogs as LHP on November 2, 2017.

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I was excited to share the scoop with the Coopers, who are coming out to AZ tomorrow.  Given the Fall Stars Game on Saturday, no game on Sunday or Wednesday, and no appearance on Monday or Tuesday, I figured Brown was bound to pitch this afternoon.  So when I saw what looked like #70 in a Phillies uni begin to warm up in the bullpen in the top of the 7th, I trotted over to the pen for a look, and sure enough!  It was Aaron Brown pounding the mitt of Phils’ catching prospect Edgar Cabral.

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Brownian Motion!  It was a thing of beauty.

No, no — not the movement of particles identified by botanist Robert Brown, but the spin on the ball thrown by Aaron Brown, the re-converted pitcher from Pepperdine.  Aaron waited patiently and as soon as the top of the 6th ended, with the Dogs having a comfortable lead, it was show time!

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Aaron acquitted himself well on his first outing of the Fall League.  After striking out the first batter he gave up a hit and a walk, but stranded them on base.

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