Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Can Explain.

Two weeks ago, I was out feeding the dumpster kitties and I just caught sight of this little guy running away from the food. I had startled him. I could tell right away he wasn't moving quite right. Rather than running away, he sort of hopped like a rabbit. I have only one fertile female left (Dixie's mom) and I keep a close eye on her reproductive cycle. So I have no idea when or how he showed up.

When I went to feed I was on my way to pick up some take-out, so when I came home I swung by and sure enough, he was out there eating again. I moved very slowly towards him and got pretty close. Close enough to see that he was dragging his right front paw limply on the ground. My heart sank. He seemed to be a little old to be certain he could be socialized and adoptable. Usually 5-6 weeks its pretty certain, but I pegged him at about 12. It would definitely be a gamble. Not to mention when I saw his poor paw I envisioned dropping huge sums of money to fix him up. But there was absolutely no way I was leaving him to fend for himself out there.

I called a couple of my cat friends, and for three nights we tried to trap him. Finally while Dean and I were at the Rays game last Saturday I got a text message that simply said "Got him!" He stayed at their house until Monday since we didn't want to move him more than once if he was in pain. Dean and I already knew we would probably have to foster since we didn't know how feral he was or even if anyone was willing to take him.

I did get word that St. Francis was going to help me out with the vet bills, which I was expecting to be significant, so I was very grateful to them. Monday morning, I picked him up from my friends along with a large cage and we headed to the vet supplied by the rescue group. After much poking and prodding, it was determined that this little guy has a paralyzed right front paw and arm. It is unclear if it was an "old" injury or he was born that way, but there were no indications of broken bones, all ligaments are in place, but he is devoid of any sensory response in that limb. The vet didn't recommend amputation unless the paw became infected or too much of a burden. There was no point doing an x-ray. But he did recommend a sock or bootie to protect it and stop it from getting scraped up.

So it seems this guy (who I've temporarily named Ray) will live his life as a tripod kitty, with only three viable legs. I guess technically that makes him "special needs", though I have yet to see how he acts any different. The only weakness I've seen in him is that he isn't very good at washing his whole body, which is completely understandable. Unfortunately, since he can't bathe completely and he came to us with diarrhea and fleas, I did the unthinkable and gave him a bath (hence the picture above). That was a first for me!

The very good news is that if he ever was feral (which I am beginning to doubt), he is no longer. He is the sweetest kitten I've ever met, and therefore very adoptable indeed. We are fostering him until he finds the right home. As I said before, he really doesn't need anything special, but since he himself is special I want to make sure the home is perfect. However, I'm not sure how long we can foster before taking him off the market. I am head over heels for this guy, and Dean is getting very close to feeling the same way. He sleeps with us, loves the other cats (he has been taken in as "one of the pack") and generally acts like he belongs here, with us. We know this definitely isn't the right time to take in a new kitty, we are in transition. But I have never been one to believe that you can choose a cat, it is more common that they choose you. We will see what the next couple weeks bring.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Weekend Getaway

Dean and I had a wonderful weekend in St. Pete. Dean booked a hotel room downtown as part of a baseball package through the Hilton for a belated birthday present (my actual birthday was during the Rays' road trip of sucktitude). The package included a room, $20 in coupons for the concession stands (to be used on anything, not specified), a bucket full of snacks and drinks, hats, free transportation to and from Tropicana field, and two free tickets to the breakfast buffet the following morning. Ironically, the actual Rays game tickets were not included, but it was still a hell of a deal. The trip was not perfect, but what it lacked in perfection it completely made up for in humor. And in OUR household, humor, not perfection, is close to Godliness.

We got there around noon and were allowed to check in early. The hotel was quite swanky, more reminiscent of the conferences I go to than the casual overnight trips we usually take. I was giddy over the Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries provided. We walked over to Midtown, our favorite sports bar in downtown St. Pete and had a big lunch. Then we headed back over to the hotel to grab some pina coladas and a dip in the pool. It was only when we were slightly buzzed and still completely stuffed from lunch that Dean announced his wedding ring had slipped off in the pool. He had been treading water in the deep end. So, we mustered all our might and took turns spotting the damn thing and trying to dive under six feet of water to grab it. I haven't opened my eyes under water in a chlorine pool in probably ten years. I think we both tried about four times before Dean emerged, coughing and spitting, victoriously holding the gold ring in the air. I, being more pragmatic and less sentimental, was ready to give up and go buy another. But I'm glad he got it. "All the swimming lessons of diving for quarters finally paid off," he said laughing. There was another couple in the pool and after we caught our breath and wisely headed over to the shallow end, they correctly guessed what we were up to. I'm really proud Deano has lost weight (30 pounds so far!) but I think it's time to get the ring resized.

We freshened up and headed to the game. It was 90s night, which was really sad because at first we didn't realize it, and thought it they were just playing our favorite music. We felt old. We got there early to get autographs, I got Longoria on the program from the last game we attended. I was a little bummed out at the lack of eye contact he made while signing. I always get a smile from C.C. Oh well.

Seeing as though it was Halladay versus Garza, we settled in for a long pitchers duel. By the bottom of the 5th, it was still 0-0 and we were getting hungry again. We got some mini pizzas and as I headed back to our seats (in left field) Dean spotted a high top table and asked if we could stand and eat instead of being squashed into our seats. We started in on a serious discussion on whether or not pizza is ball park food (I am for it, he is against it) when we heard the roar of the stadium. I strained my head to watch the closest TV where I saw the replay of Evan Longoria hitting his first major league grand slam. I told Dean and both of us were quite bummed out we missed it. Not as bummed out as the drunk girl cussing out her friends for having missed "her boyfriend's" first granny, but disappointed nonetheless. And again they played it and I saw it went to left field! I back handed Deano playfully on the chest. We returned to our seats where everyone was anxious to tell us what we missed, as if we weren't aware. AND, it landed in our row. Granted, I would have been freaked out and too scared to go for it, but still.

After the game (Rays won 6-4, the 4 Jays runs coming in the top of the 9th), we geared up for the MC Hammer concert. I made my error of the evening my suggesting we go to the second level to watch, since half of the first level (including our seats) were behind the stage, and the other half was getting crowded. We forgot that the second level is mostly suites and we sat uncomfortably among the older, richer people who were not getting in to the concert at all. We eventually moved to be around funner people. We saw MC Hammer in concert pretty much the only way you would want to, drunk and free of charge. In that respect, it was fun and of course he did his best known songs in between long monologues which we speculated were in place so he could catch his breath. The guy is 46, but he can still move.

After words, we used our free ride back to the hotel, where once again we walked to Midtown for some nachos and a night cap. We were almost the only ones at the bar and we watched the grand slam on SportsCenter. Turns out we could just make out our empty seats on ESPN.

The next morning we enjoyed our breakfast buffet (it was delicious!) and headed home, moving a little slow. All in all it was a fantastic time, a much needed break from everyday life.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

2 Legit 2 Quit

The Rays are legit. Despite their 5-game skid, they are for real and whether or not they win the AL East pennant, they will be playing October Baseball. Here's why.

The casual baseball fan last year saw the Devil Rays as the perennial last place team that in its 10-year history hadn't had a winning season. For those of us that watched many games (not all, as we were still baseball package subscribers last year) , we saw something else. We saw the teams that had more 1- and 2-run losses than any other team. It was obvious there were just a couple piece of the puzzle that were missing. And despite a lack of big name trades, the Rays had the most productive off season in baseball.

Since they also had an embarrassing amount of blown saves due to a horrific bullpen and shallow starters, they went out and got a veteran closer in Troy Percival, who has the confidence and experience to save key games. They also took a chance on a couple of relief pitchers who have since shown their worth.

The Minnesota trade was key and the Rays got the better end of the deal for a few reasons. Matt Garza is doing an incredible job. As a Twins fan as well, I don't blame them for trading Garza. He looked like someone who may or may not have blossomed and could have just needed a different team or pitching coach to fit his needs (not to undercut Rick Anderson AT ALL - Johan Santana has Rick Anderson to thank for his 2 Cy Youngs). But Garza has found his stride in Tampa and is a perfect fit in our rotation. Jason Bartlett, while still anemic at the plate, has tightened up our defense. And getting rid of Delmon Young has had a positive impact on team chemistry. Personally, I haven't heard of any problems he's causing in the Twins locker room, which makes me hopeful he has learned his lesson and his cognizant of his place in the baseball pecking order.

Offensively, the Rays have not improved much, but everyone is contributing. The enthusiasm and clutch hitting from rookie Evan Longoria (also excellent on defense) is palpable. He still has growing to do and is going to be a legitimate star in a few years time. He is already an all-star, home run derby participant, and makes habitual web gem plays.

Even though the Rays are not a team of sluggers (only one player hitting above .300), they have more than made up in the defensive changes and solid starting rotation able to go deep into games. While Scott Kazmir, who is often thought of as the Rays ace, got a late start after being on the DL for a month, Andy Sonnanstine (the number FOUR pitcher) has quietly raked up 10 wins.

Lastly, Dioner Navarro. Named to the all-star team, our catcher has been the most improved player from last year to this year. Last year he straddled the Mendoza line, but this year has the best average on the team (.306). He has also stepped up defensively by calling some fantastic games and proving his leadership, notably by knocking Garza down a peg. Garza's start after the verbal beat down - when decided to finally stop shaking Navy off - was a one hit complete game.

This year the Rays found the pieces to the puzzle. And the best part? No one is going anywhere. They are all thrilled to finally be part of a winning team. Those people who say the Rays are too young and inexperienced to make it to the post season or even win a playoff series could be right even though I don't buy that. But next year, that excuse won't work.

As for the post title. One thing the Rays organization did this year to try to attract fans (even though we have the best record in baseball, the attendance is still a little pathetic) was their summer concert series. Every Saturday home game is followed by a free concert for fans. Next Saturday, after Dean and I watch the Rays play the Jays, we get to stick around for MC Hammer. It doesn't get much better than being a Rays fan right now.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Vote Longoria

This year, Rays rookie Even Longoria is a nominee for the all-star final vote. Show your support for the best team in baseball for voting for him. He's awesome offensively, defensively and pretty easy on the eyes. Go Longo!