(T)GIF – In Memory of Hank Conger

The Angels traded catcher Hank Conger on Wednesday to the Houston Astros in exchange for a young pitcher and minor league catcher. This gif is for him.

Conger, the Angels first-round pick in 2006, is a local boy. He attended Huntington Beach High School and grew up an Angels fan. I’m pretty sure he’s going to go to Houston and find the bat that made him a top pick now that he’s out Mike Scioscia’s “catchers only catch” grip (see Mike Napoli).

Also, this happened last year…

Good luck in Houston, Conger. I wish the Angels gave you the at-bats to succeed offensively in Anaheim.

gif hank conger

(T)GIF is a regular Friday feature at Smiling Through Tearz. Know of an animated gif that makes you tinkle with laughter, cry or cringe that you think should be featured at STT? Let me know at seth@smilingthroughtearz.com.

Angels Knicked, Soaked Sorrows and Scary Farm – How Was Your Weekend?

Friday

I went to Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals. The one where the Angels lost in extra innings. When a left-handed Royals player slugged a game-winning home run. Um, the second one! Not the 3-2 game (which the same thing happened) but the 4-1 loss.

My friend Sam and I soaked up the parking lot scene under the Big A and they atmosphere and game was great. Until the end.

biga

There’s not a lot I have to say on the Angels getting swept. It’s a huge disappointment and it’s kinda embarrassing. Just remember this: anything can and will happen in the MLB playoffs. Nothing can be taken for granted. Remember the Los Angeles Dodgers 1988 World Series run? They shouldn’t have beaten the New York Mets and Oakland A’s, both far superior teams. But they did, in consecutive series. Anything can and will happen. This doesn’t mean the Angels are a bad team, or that their players choked. Simply, the Royals had better luck in those first two games, the Angels’ bats froze at the worst time of the season and the team that played better in three games (SMALL SAMPLE SIZE!) deserved to advance.

angelparkinglotsunset

And the sun sets on another Angels season. (So poetic, I know).

Kudos to Kansas City. I’ll be rooting for you in round two.

angelstadiumsunset

View from my season seats.

After the game Sam and I soaked up our sorrows with suds at a dive bar in Orange. On the way home I grabbed a box of shame to munch on at home, because I was still hurting at 1 a.m.

large_HellapenoBurger

Beware, as it’s even more shameful the next day.

the-knick-s1-key-art

As I temporarily filled my aching heart with fatty oils and indigestion, I watched Cinemax’s series The Knick. It’s my favorite show on television. I can’t get enough of Dr. John Thackery’s ego, his genius or his opium den. I sure as hell hope he can find some more cocaine soon.

If Rotten Tomatoes is your thing, then you should be watching this.

theknickrottentomatoes

Saturday

The CHOC Walk is on Sunday already! Holy crap that came quickly. We are short of our raised funds from 2012 and 2013 for team Iron Jax and can use all the support we can get to approach those figures. If you can walk with us, great! If you can’t and would like to make a donation, please do so! One dollar, five bucks or $33,000, it’s all good! You can view our team page and sign up/make donations at:

http://choc.convio.net/site/TR/CHOCWalk/General?team_id=2739&pg=team&fr_id=1080

My wife worked, so the twins and I drove out to the CHOC Foundation headquarters to take care of some Iron Jax business. Afterwards, we watched Peter Pan, which Gray borrower from my parents so that I could watch it, not him. I told him I hadn’t seen the movie since I was a kid, and he made it a point for me to watch it. Afterwards, we had to sword fight. Which, for Gray and I, is always a friendly, mellow joust.

And then Ellie got involved. She’d prefer to just shred every one to bits.

Sunday

Sam and I hit up another dive bar, this time in Tustin, to catch the start of the Angels’ final game of the season. After actually winning for half an inning following Mike Trout’s home run (and only hit of the series), we watched the Angels poop themselves and left for earlier plans.

Those plans being Knott’s Scary Farm! I haven’t been to Scary Farm in 11 years, so I was excited. I don’t really have anything to add if you’ve been there ever. But here are a few random thoughts, followed by my cheesy pictures, which, if you follow me on Instagram (SethTearz), you could have viewed in real time as I snapped them.

  • Elvira looks amazing. She’s 63-years-old and looks like she did in 1987. Her Big Top show was entertaining enough. I just wish it had more of her and less of the dance team from Sonora High School.
  • Go on a Sunday night. We barely waited for any maze or ride. It was fantastic.
  • The Log Ride is just the regular log ride – not scarified. It’s been spruced up, and is far more interesting than it used to be, but holy crap that was the best platform for Scary Farm. So if you decide to ride, just know this.
  • Take a Valium before riding the Silver Bullet. I wish I did.

scaryfarmhauntedmuseum scaryfarmsign scaryfarmgreen scaryfarmhouse scaryfarmpumpkins

An Open Love Letter to Matt Shoemaker

This was intended for bugsandcranks.com, but apparently the Eastern European hackers really like the hits for their pharmacy website, because it’s been hijacked. Rather than waste my efforts, I’m going to post it here until Bugs is back up and running. Matt Shoemaker is a pitcher for the Angels, by the way. 

mattshoemakerangelstadiumwife

My Handsome Matthew David Shoemaker,

You never stop surprising me. After you signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2008, our paths never crossed. How could they? You, undrafted out of Eastern Michigan, and me, only paying attention to real baseball prospects. But this year. Oh, Matty, this year. The stars brought us together.

Somehow you broke Spring Training and made the Angels’ 25-man roster. You pitched serviceably out of the bullpen, fulfilling the role of a versatile long man. Honestly, I didn’t expect you to last. In May, however, you returned. In my birthday month, no less! I just love how you knew that. Anyway, you returned, and you returned for good. Your boss, Mike Scioscia, handed you some starts once Hector Santiago shit the bed and lost his spot in the rotation.

Rotoworld treated you like another one of their hussies.

shoemaker rotoworld

But you showed them. And me, darling. You caught my interest. But I kept my distance. I didn’t think it could last. In June I swooned as you struck out a career high 10 against the Indians. You aroused my faith. So much that the stinker you tossed against the Kansas City Royals on June 27 (4 IP, 11 H, 8 ER) did little to dissuade me.

I never told you this, my man stallion, but what I saw in you, that thing that gave me hope, was your strikeouts. We all know you’re not a bombshell. Radar guns aren’t shorting out from excitement when you step on the mound. You weren’t the kind of guy that was ever going to make the cover of Baseball America. But you figured out how to succeed with the tools that God gave you.

How does one, armed with a measily 90-mph fastball, manage to strike out more than a batter per inning pitched? It’s because you know how to use your tools.

Your splitter makes me tremble inside. But it’s your ability to hit the right spots with five pitches (splitter, four-seam fastball, two-seamer, slider and knuckle curve) that puts these batters to bed to the tune of 8.86 whiffs per nine innings.

Everything changed for me on August 9. That’s the date I fell in love. The Man Crush was born. It was at home, in Anaheim, and you guys were hosting the Boston Redsox. I was laying in bed. Cemented in a 4-4 tie in the 17th inning, you entered the game in relief. Just three days before you pitched well in a 2-1 loss to the Dodgers (6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 5 K). You twirled three perfect innings with four strikeouts until Albert Pujols’s walk-off home run ended the marathon and sent your aching arm to chill in a bucket of ice until the clubs in Downtown Santa Ana turned the lights on and made the hood rats go home.

I bragged about you to my friends. I wish I could’ve massaged that right shoulder of yours.

My honey, that is when you stole my heart. To pitch that long in relief – that well – on short rest was heroic. Gutsy. And thrilling. But you weren’t done.

When super model Garrett Richards tore up his August 20, many considered the Angels’ World Series dreams in jeopardy. Even after an 8-3 victory in that game, the clubhouse was silent. No one celebrated the victory. Everyone was crushed about losing Richards.

Baseball media based the rotation. They wondered whether you and your buddies could keep the Angels in a pennant race without the bombshell. That very next night you showed them. At Fenway Park you entered the seventh with a no-hitter until the “butthole” Will Middlebrooks ripped a double down the left field line. You finished the 2-0 victory with 7.2 IP, that one hit, just one walk and nine strike outs.

You lifted the Angels when they needed it the most, my precious. You ooze humility, grace and class. And you’ll need to do it again tonight against the Miami Marlins. That trashy Wade LeBlanc, filling in for Richards last night, was bombed in a 7-1 drubbing and you’re tied again with the Oakland A’s for the Western Division lead. We need you to keep us in the this game. To pitch well. To win. And I know you will.

My beloved, I’ll be there tonight to root you on. Look for me in the suites behind home plate. Watch for my fluttering baby blues. With butterfiles in my stomach and my heart at your mercy.

Eternally Yours,

Seth Tearz

Caliente Conger Cowboy – How Was Your Weekend?

Friday

Friday night fireworks at Angel Stadium. Yep, we were there. Since we’re in the midst of Potty Training Boot Camp (I made this up, it’s not a real thing. Well, maybe it is. But we’re not doing anything official. And I’ll share more about how it’s going in another post), my wife brought Ellie’s Minnie Mouse potty. The twins took turns sitting on the throne in the back of our minivan in the parking lot.

elliepotty

graypotty

Originally posted at my Facebook page here and Instagram (sethtearz) if you want to follow me.

The Angels won. Like anyone cares anymore.

Earlier in the week, I shared Ellie’s first crush on Twitter @SethTearz:

In case you don’t know, this is Hank Conger:

conger

He should be the Angels starting catcher, but manager Mike Scioscia hates me and my ideas.

On the way home another minivan in the 91 Express Lane decided to make a lane change right into us. I saw the bastard, braked and honked heavily, which prompted a classic Ellie line.

“Hold on, cowboy!” she said with a tinge of excitement. I have no idea where she picked that up from.

Saturday

After holing herself up in our house with naked 2-year-olds, my wife got a well-deserved break from the twins and potty training. She shopped with her mom during the day and met up with friends at night. So I assumed the role of potty training drill sergeant. And holy crap is it tough.

My head was on a swivel looking for signs that one of them had to pee or poop. I read more books this day than I had the previous two months. To steal a line from my wife, I’m tired of seeing penis and vagina.

For lunch I grabbed the Caliente Burger from Tommy’s. It came with fries and a super-sized side of shame.

calienteburger

Sunday

We attended the final sermon of Saddleback’s “How to Get Through What You’re Going Through” series. Rick Warren’s wife, Kay, spoke about finding treasure concealed in darkness. In short, going through life’s pile of poo and finding a diamond. Those are my words, not hers. My heart is not open to searching for that right now. Hopefully one day it will be.

We grabbed some lunch after church and then picked up Halloween costumes at Old Navy. You’ll have to wait until Halloween to find out what they are.

The NFL’s first weekend of football is in the books. And I’m already booted from my office’s pick ‘em/suicide pool because Lavonte David of the Tampa Bay Bucs did this.

H8 you, Lavonte.

Twins See Their First Movie – How Was Your Weekend?

Friday/Saturday

Despite the breakup letter I wrote to the Angels at Bugs & Cranks last week, the Angels dominated our television Friday and Saturday. Sure, they swept the lowly Houston Astros over the weekend, but remember that those Astros won six of nine against the Angels, including a four-game sweep in their last series. So for the Halos to wake up and win games they’re supposed to is a big thing. Since I wrote that letter, the Angels are 6-0. I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’. 

I really have no idea what I did the rest of the weekend. That’s not a good thing. Frickin’ aspartame. I didn’t know increased gray chest hair was also a side effect of too much Diet Coke.

Sunday

Five months after Jax’s second birthday I took a day off and, along with my wife, took him to see his first movie in a theater. He obsessed about everything Toy Story, so we took him to see Toy Story 3. His blue eyes blew up like hot air balloons when he entered that huge, dark space. He sat on my lap when the movie started, his face concentrated and serious and he didn’t budge once for the entire movie.

The twins, now a month younger than Jax was, witnessed movie magic for their first time with Monsters University on Sunday. They have seen enough commercials to know about the Monsters, Inc. franchise, however they haven’t seen the movie.

Ellie & Gray outside the movie theater.

Ellie & Gray outside the movie theater.

Ellie, the more cautious of the two, hesitantly walked in to the theater with her brother and my wife as I grabbed some nachos to snack on and a Diet Coke big enough to bathe in. When I arrived she was sitting on her mom’s lap and Gray proudly sat perked up in his own seat. He was loud, excited and ready for the experience.

The previews were too long for a children’s movie, but I at least came away with this ingenious nugget.

I wasn’t a Lego kid, but holy crap that looks great. Gray had moved to my lap by this time, so I whispered that we needed to see that. He agreed.

By the way, we learned with Jax, who had very sensitive hearing, to bring hooded sweatshirts to the movies since the volume is generally loud enough to melt ear drums. So while it was 97 degrees outside, Gray and Ellie bundled up to soften the noise.

I was two minutes away from jumping into that fountain.

I was two minutes away from jumping into that fountain.

They did great. Ellie sat on my wife’s lap the entire time and only grew restless in the last ten minutes. Gray’s tush must’ve gotten sore so he stood for a bit while munching on Teddy Grahams. They stayed quiet, they were engaged and it seems they’re ready for more movies. It helps that Monsters University was cute, well-paced and had some laugh-out-loud moments.

My parents watched the twins over night so my wife and I went on a hot date. To Ruby’s. And that’s it. I kind of felt like the 80-year-old couple in the booth behind us. Including the gray chest hair.

Ruby's chocolate banana shake. It o-w-n-s.

Ruby’s chocolate banana shake. It o-w-n-s.

We did talk about our upcoming Chicago trip, though. If anyone has any recommendations, please let us know!

While I was off of work for eight months I caught up on a lot of television. Specifically, I watched the entire The Wire series and Dexter, since my dad would ask me at least once every other week during a season if I had Showtime and if I saw the last episode. AND HE DOESN’T EVEN DRINK DIET SOFT DRINKS.

Dexter-Season-8-Teaser

My wife thinks I’m nuts.

“How can you watch that?” she asked me last night as she played on the iPad while we sat in bed and I watched the first episode of Dexter’s last season. The Miami Metro Police Department had just come across a dead body with the victim’s skull split in half and a chunk of brain removed.

It’s a fair question, since the thought of death is forever changed for us now. The show is so over the top that it’s just a way for me to escape life for an hour. Plus, have you SEEN Dexter’s nanny?

Chow, Brunch and BBQ – How Was Your Weekend?

Before I get to the weekend, if you missed Bugs & Cranks posts from last week:

This is a real promotional item.

This is a real promotional item.

  • Mike Trout hit for the cycle and I broke down every Angels cycle in franchise history here.
  • I gave some alternate Angels giveaway ideas, since this Mike Trout hat looks so stupid.
  • You can find all of my Bugs & Cranks posts here.

Friday

Drinks + a movie starting after 8 pm = Sleepy Seth. It’s a formula that never fails, no matter how much I fight it. From what I could tell, The Hangover III was meh. It sure wasn’t enough to keep me awake, but I’m also the guy that slept through Jurassic Park III in its entirety. Really, all I saw was the first ten minutes, if that. Surround sound and fierce dinosaurs be damned. I didn’t wake up until the credits.

Meh

Meh.

I mostly stayed awake for The Hangover III but head-nodded my way through the middle. Basing a script around Chow pretty much kills any chance that I’d enjoy the movie. He’s a good bit character, but that’s it. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that each movie in the series got worse as it increased Chow time. David Blaustein at ABC News is right on with his review of Chow and the movie.

Seth’s Review: Wait for it to hit Netflix or HBO/Starz/Cinemax/Showtime, or borrow someone else’s copy.Just don’t pay for it.

Saturday

Lazy day. Ran some errands. Took a nap. Went out to eat since Gray and Ellie begged “to go for a ride.” Two families shared a table directly behind us with the parents on one side and kids at the other. A 7-year-old played with her parent’s smart phone and Gray picked up that Mickey Mouse was somehow involved. So for the next 15 minutes I had to keep him from turning around to watch the show. Which is irritating. Our food was out and it was time to eat but his back corkscrewed towards the hypnotizing glow. A fork finally brought his full attention to his chicken strips.

I use my iPhone a lot. My wife hates it. So I’m not one of those purists against technology or anything. Maybe it’s just the old guy in me coming out. But does a 7-year-old really need to watch a show or play a game in the restaurant, especially when she’s there with other kids her age? Say it’s a toddler or two with just mom and dad. I can kind of get it, since there’s a decent chance that toddler will scream and yell and distract other patrons in the restaurant. But a 7-year-old? It irked me.

Earlier in the year, Henry Yates, a British journalist wrote the following in The Telegraph as he questioned the use of iPads at the dinner table.

“I reckon we’ve got to fight against the easy option,” he writes. “As work’s tentacles encroach on our family time (tentacles facilitated, it has to be said, by on-the-move access to emails), our mealtimes are becoming one of the few isolated chances to really connect with our kids. You know, the old-fashioned stuff: talking to them, listening to them, asking about the school cake sale, humouring their daft little stories punctuated by endless ‘ums’ and ‘ers’. Strengthening your family’s foundations for the buffeting to come.”

The phone/tablet is the easy option. That struck a chord with me. Give your kids the chance to enjoy eating out, talking, coloring and people watching (Gray’s favorite). If that doesn’t work, then light the beautiful brats’ faces up with your gadget. Note to self: weave “daft” into my writing more often.

Sunday

A day date for the wife and I. We brunched it up at Goodfella’s Cafe in Corona and followed that with a viewing of The Great Gatsby. Two movies in three days crushes my previously projected figure of two in one year. Now Gatsby is a movie to spend your cash on in the theater, as the visuals and experience are that good. Plus, Lenardo (Hi, Munky) DiCaprio is super dreamy. Did his orange face look like it was rubbing off to anyone else?

That is, unless you have a Blu-ray and a kick-ass HD TV (which I don’t). Or weed (which I don’t). Tom Long summed it up nicely.

I completely agree.

I completely agree.

Memorial Day

We went to my wife’s grandpa’s place in Pico Rivera for a barbecue (burgers and ‘dogs). She had to work at night so my mother-in-law kept the twins over night at her place so I could get to work on time in the morning.

The Angels and Dodgers began a four-game freeway series at Dodger Stadium and this guy blew a 6-1 Angels lead to snap an eight-game win streak.

 

Isn’t it always a bad time to have a bad game, C.J.? In a pissy mood the rest of the night, I wandered around the house aimlessly. My grand ideas of a night home alone evaporated. I just wasted three-plus hours to watch the Angels blow that game. Shit.

With work on the horizon, I’ll go nod off to Mad Men and dreams of Joan Holloway throwing airplanes at my desk.

Soooooo so hot.

Fireworks, Resumes and Shit…How was Your Weekend?

Friday

My buddy Sam hit me up with two extra suite tickets for Friday’s Angel game against the Tigers, courtesy of his lovely new bride’s employer. My wife had a rare Friday night off of work so we dumped the twins at my parents, drove through Del Taco and joined 5,000 other cars trying to enter the Angel Stadium parking lot.

Angels Stadium suite

Angels Stadium suite

Did you know there is a parking lot solely for Lexus vehicles? It’s fucking awesome. We rolled right up in their Lexus and parked away from those dirty, classless Ford, Honda and Hyundai’s. Peasant pigs.

Our view from the Angel Stadium suite.

Our view from the Angel Stadium suite.

Torii Hunter returned to Anaheim for the first time since leaving the Angels this past winter as a free agent. Hunter is Jax’s favorite player. My odd brain often wonders how Jax would have handled the news that Hunter left the Angels. I’m confident he wouldn’t have cried. Short of Captain America leaving Marvel to “find himself” in a temple on a South American mountain, Jax wasn’t going to cry about anything. But would he just like Torii on the Tigers now, or pick a new Angels favorite?

Big Bang Fireworks

Big Bang Fireworks

We were still walking to our suite seats when Hunter came to bat. Angel fans gave him a warm standing ovation, Hunter scored the only Tigers run and the Angels won the first of three games against Detroit. And as they do every Friday night for Big Bang Fireworks Night, the Angels organization treated us to a show.

Saturday

Ellie's coach is a big dude.

Ellie’s coach is a big dude.

Gray and Ellie played their first t-ball game as Team Black against the dastardly Team Burgundy. Ellie broke out of the statue act from last week and had a good hit in her second at-bat and flashed grit and a gun in the field. Gray, meanwhile, stroked two hard ground balls up the middle and refused to wear a glove while playing first base. He even chased down grandma for a water break in middle of an inning.

Breathe, Seth, breathe.

While the twins “napped” I tweaked resumes and cover letters and applied to three jobs. The Fortune 100 insurance company I work for decided to centralize its operations and our charming Ontario office is closing in August. Dopamine shot through my body from the sense of accomplishment. But that will fade fast when no one calls.

Sunday

My church is closing within the next three weeks as a result of financial difficulty. My parents left a mega church in the ’80s to follow a friend and pastor who established the church I grew up in. At this church I:

  • Broke out of my shy shell in my early teens
  • Met the girl I kissed for the first time
  • Met some of my best friends
  • Met my wife
  • Had the pastor marry my wife and I
  • Had my children dedicated

Jax’s memorial service was held at this church. It’s the only church he ever knew. It’s the last place I saw his physical body. He was breaking out of his shy shell here, too. This church body has showed so much love and support to my family I know I will never feel again. What breaks my heart the most is not having that same support to surround Gray and Ellie. I’m on the verge of sobbing as a type this. The more I think about it, the more I can’t handle it. I sensed it coming, and I thought I’d be okay with it. But I’m totally not. 

At night, as my wife prepped herself for a night at the hospital, I took Gray and Ellie to my parents for dinner. First we met at a baseball field for some t-ball practice. I had this fantastic idea that letting them run around on a real field with bases and grandma and granpda and no other distractions would increase their short attention span. But that backfired. They had more fun using plastic bats as telescopes in the dugout.

But then something strange happened. Something eye opening. Gray grabbed a small soccer ball some friends gave the twins out of the bag of bats and wiffle balls. He started kicking it around, moving from the first base side out into left field. He dribbled the entire time. And he dribbled like he’s been doing this for a while.

Neither my wife or I like soccer. Neither of us played as a child and we don’t push the sport, so his performance today is completely natural. Which means I’ll probably spend my 40’s driving him to club matches (games or matches? WTF SOCCER!) throughout Southern California every single weekend. Shit.