Saying Goodbye to the Reason I’m a Baseball Fan

The first time I ever heard of Ichiro was while eating breakfast with my family during a spring break trip to Seattle in 2001. My dad pointed out a boy sitting near us who was wearing an Ichiro jersey t-shirt. He explained Ichiro was a rookie who had just come over from Japan but hadn’t done so well in the previous night’s spring training game. I must have asked what his first name was because I remember my dad explaining the first-name-on-the-back thing and thinking that was weird.

We all know the 2001 Mariners went on to have a dream season, winning 116 games. The guy with his first name on his back won the AL MVP and Rookie of the Year awards. The Mariners were a big deal.

I don’t remember every detail of following that team, but I know I was in love with them. Dan Wilson, Bret Boone, Edgar, Mike Cameron, John Olerud – they were all the greatest. And Ichiro was the greatest of the greatest.

I could go on about my favorite memories of being a young Mariners fan, but more important than specific moments of that 2001 season is that the 2001 season happened in the first place. If the Mariners hadn’t been a big deal, or hadn’t had an exciting player, or not been broadcast on Portland-area TV and radio, I probably never would have become a big baseball fan. My dad’s love of the sport may have rubbed off on me, but I think there’s something about having a team distinctly “yours” that makes it easy to develop an obsession.

As the years wore on, the Mariners became pretty bad, and I didn’t follow the team as closely as I did in the early 2000s. But Ichiro was always there. Sure, Felix is exciting and the Cy Young was awesome, but that’s not the reason most people my age became Mariners fans in the first place.

Until today, Ichiro had been a Mariner longer than I’ve had my braces off. Longer than my family’s lived in the house I’d consider my childhood home. Longer than one of my siblings has even been alive.

This trade is obviously not the kind of life-altering event that shifts your whole world, but for me – and I’m guessing for many other Northwest natives my age – it’s surreal. I thought it would be weird to hear Mariners games without Dave Niehaus behind the microphone; it’ll be weirder to hear them without Ichiro in the lineup.

When news of the trade broke on Twitter this evening, no one knew how to react. There had been talk he wouldn’t stay a Mariner forever, but he’d been so constant in our lives as Seattle baseball fans it didn’t seem like he would actually leave. I wish him the best and I’ll root like crazy for him to get a World Series ring someday, but right now I’m sad that the one remaining constant of my life as a baseball fan is gone. At least he stayed longer than my braces.

College Football Weekend Recap (Week 3): “Go Army!” Edition

After a weekend spent between Portland and Eugene (with one trip down I-5 remaining in my moving process), I didn’t have a chance to sit in front of my computer and read as much as I wanted. Additionally, much of that reading dealt with realignment: a topic that makes my brain hurt. The way I see it (which probably isn’t a good indicator of how most people see it), this is all going to shake out in the next couple weeks, and it won’t matter whether I stayed on top of every rumor. That’s no excuse to be uninformed, but at some point I just can’t read any more words about the Longhorn Network.

On a lighter note, since my sister is in her “plebe” (freshman) year as a West Point cadet, I’ve taken an interest in Army football. I don’t know a ton about the team, but quarterback Trent Steelman is getting some national attention, and they beat Northwestern at home on Saturday. Greg Laughlin from The Wiz of Odds blog took in the game and posted some great photos. West Point’s beautiful campus was really feeling the Twitter love on Saturday; it even got a shout-out from the Twitter god himself, Darren Rovell.

Speaking of shout-outs, it’s not often that you see the Seattle Mariners mentioned in a college football blog. I guess it wasn’t technically a shout-out, but Paul Myerberg from Pre-Snap Read contrasted Washington and Nebraska with the Mariners and Royals, saying it was common for the latter two teams to meet three times in a year, but not so common for the former to do so. This has no real significance, but I was glad to see my Mariners written up in a post that had nothing to do with how much they stink.

Lastly, I’m not the only one tired of realignment talk. Chip Kelly is, too. His quote in this story by The Oregonian’s Lindsay Schnell is classic Chip: “I checked my voicemail, and no one’s calling and asking my opinion (on expansion).” He’s focused on preparing for the Arizona Wildcats, whom the Ducks play Saturday in Tucson. Chip, I wish that’s all we had to focus on, too.

There are a host of other realignment-related news items I could include, but as I said…I’m not smart enough to understand it all. What were your favorite reads from the weekend?

Anticipating, Doing, Ending.

No matter how long you anticipate something – a wedding, a birthday, a vacation – that thing always comes to an end. And the end always leaves you with a “where do I go from here?” feeling. Such is the case with my internship at Sports Illustrated, which ended yesterday.

My Oregon-centric cubicle decor (with special guest appearances by a Michael Pineda picture from a recent SI, and two photos of my sisters).

Working at SI had consumed my thoughts from the day I got the internship in mid-March. I remember receiving a call from a lady in Time Inc.’s Human Resources department. She told me that I had been accepted to Sports Illustrated’s internship program, and I think she laughed at how enthusiastic I was while accepting the offer.

When it’s mid-March, “August 5” sounds like lightyears away. It still felt lightyears away when I started work at SI on June 6. But now it’s just another “X” on my calendar (a figurative calendar; Oregon Ducks day-by-day calendars don’t have X’s). The day carried a surreal, last-day-of-school feeling, and leaving was bittersweet. As excited as I am to return home and get back to school, I absolutely loved working at SI. Every day was different, and I was able to diversify my public relations experience. I grew as a person and as a professional, and was lucky to work with a wonderful group of people who graciously offered their support in the future.

From a PR perspective, I learned more at SI than can fit here, so I’ll probably write a few posts over the coming weeks that dive deeper into my experience. I will say, however, that I learned a tremendous amount about social media (and took my first foray into the world of social media analytics) and have a fresh outlook on how to creatively approach media relations. More to come on those subjects and others, but I’m still processing everything.

My friends and I are also in denial about the fact that we only have one week left together in the city. (One of my friends, Chase, has already left. And he gave me a hard time about never actually calling any of my “New York friends” by name on my blog. So, Chase, I hope you’re happy.) Every day, we add five or ten items to our “to-do list” even though we inch closer and closer to our departures. We’ll leave with unfinished business, but it’s an excuse to come back.

Just as I have too many PR lessons to fit into one post, I also have too many good NYC photos/stories/recommendations. So expect a few posts on my favorite places/foods/sights/etc., too.

On that note, it has been two weeks since I last posted. I think pictures could tell the story better than I could (plus I’m feeling too lazy at the moment to write all those stories) so here are three glimpses into the past several days. (And yes, I know one of the pictures is the one of my cubicle, which is also posted earlier. When it comes to WordPress quirks, I pick my battles. And I didn’t pick that one.)

As always, thanks for reading. There’s a lot more to come as I continue processing all I’ve learned and accomplished this summer.

*Also, you should check out my cousin’s band, Brave Chandeliers.

Getting Way Too Excited About Michael Pineda as an All-Star

It happened. Michael Pineda pitched in the All-Star Game, to rave reviews from the only critics that really matter – the people of Twitter. Tweets from casual fans and respected writers came flooding in, praising Pineda’s performance.

But don’t take my word for it.

ESPN’s Buster Olney:

Olney later tweeted that Pineda made the “biggest first impression” of any player at the game.

Fox’s national baseball writer, Jon Morosi:

The Mariners’ official account:

The three hitters Pineda faced in the second inning went 1-2-3: Troy Tulowitzki flew out to center (side note: I secretly wish Curtis Granderson was a Mariner), then Pineda struck out Scott Rolen and Rickie Weeks.

And no, I’m not ashamed to admit that I took a picture of my TV to commemorate this momentous occasion.

That’s my boy. Here’s to many more All-Star Games for #36.

Three for the weekend (and week ahead)

Ahhhh, here we are again. Another Sunday night, another blog post. I’d like to blog more consistently, so I feel a twinge of guilt every Sunday night when I realize that I haven’t posted in a week, but I remind myself that my time spent not blogging was spent working and exploring NYC. Both good things, I would like to believe.

I will make a concerted effort to post more this week, but for now, you’ll have to live with this random post detailing three great things about this past weekend and the week ahead:

1) Rainy day movie viewings

While my walk home from work on Friday was dry, the skies opened up later in the evening and the idea of going out wasn’t very appealing. So, we settled for a trip to Pinkberry and headed back to our building to watch the greatest romantic comedy of all time, “When Harry Met Sally…”. It’s definitely one of my top 5 favorite movies (trust me, I’ve ranked them). I LOVE it. Everyone was annoyed impressed with my ability to recite whole scenes from memory.

Michael Pineda sporting the best alternate jersey in baseball.

2) Michael Pineda as an All-Star

My new favorite Seattle Mariner, rookie phenom pitcher Michael Pineda, was named to the American League All-Star team today as a replacement for Justin Verlander. The guy is a freakin’ stud, outpacing King Felix as the team’s ace. I doubt he’ll get much playing time in the All-Star game (who does?) but it’s cool to see him named to the team so early in his career.

The All-Star game will be on FOX at 8 p.m. EST on Thursday. This year it’s being played at Chase Field in Phoenix, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and I think we can all agree it’s a real shame that the park can no longer be called the BOB (a nickname the park enjoyed during its years as “Bank One Ballpark”).

3) Bananas

I hate bananas. I haven’t eaten once since maybe age four (and even then, I probably just ate the chocolate off of a chocolate-covered banana). But, my dad sent me this interesting Wall Street Journal article on banana consumption in New York City, and it’s worth a read if you’re interested in bananas and/or the economy and/or New York. Apparently, New Yorkers are banana-crazed. This article takes a look at how the NYC banana business runs, how much they cost at different locations and what types of bananas people want to buy.

Well, I hope you enjoyed three bullet points about three completely unrelated topics. If you have three (or one or two) funny comments, links or thoughts to share about your weekend, please share; I’d love to read them!

Photo credit: NBC Sports Hardball Talk

My Sister, Future Leader of the Free World

Before launching into the real purpose of this post, I must make one comment: supporting a West Coast baseball team while living on the East Coast is awesome. It’s almost 11 p.m. and the Mariners and Marlins are only in the third inning. I’ll be in bed before it’s over, but in Oregon, you don’t get to fall asleep listening to the M’s. (Of course, I understand that this is a double-edged sword, because it’s this same phenomenon that helps perpetuate the “East Coast bias” in sports – East Coasters don’t give West Coast teams [see, “2010 Oregon Ducks”] the credit they deserve because they’re rarely awake late enough to watch them play. But that’s for another post.)

Now that we’ve got a sports reference and parentheses-within-parentheses out of the way…

One of my favorite pictures of Hope and me - at the 2010 Civil War football game.

One of my favorite pictures of Hope and me - at the 2010 Civil War football game.

It was a big weekend for the Landsem family, as my sister Hope and my parents traveled to New York to drop Hope off at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where she’ll soon begin her first year. Tomorrow is known as “R-Day” in West Point-speak. It stands for “Reception Day,” and it basically means Hope’s first day as a West Point cadet. (I’m probably messing up some of the terminology, because I don’t think she’s officially a “cadet” until she finishes basic training, but you get the idea.)

Anyway, it’s a huge step. Most of my sister’s friends are still basking in the glory of summer vacation, but for the next several weeks, she’ll be acclimating herself to West Point life during BEAST – that’s an acronym for something I can’t fully remember, but it’s cadet basic training. On “A-Day,” or “Acceptance Day” in the middle of August, she’ll become a full-fledged cadet and begin her academic endeavors at West Point.

Hope is fully prepared for this: she was Student Body President this past year at her high school, was a Valedictorian, wants to be a chemical engineer, went to a Summer Leadership Seminar at West Point last summer…she was even a contestant on the kids’ edition of “Jeopardy!” in 2005. (No joke. She even has an IMDB profile because of it.)

I feel very lucky to have had some one-on-one time with my sister this weekend. She arrived in New York on Friday night (our parents didn’t come until Saturday) so we spent Saturday in the city.

A view of Manhattan from the Roosevelt Island Tram

We took the Roosevelt Island tram to um, well, Roosevelt Island. I don’t know how many people generally ride the tram, but it seems to be a hidden gem of New York City tourism. Tram fare is no different than a regular MTA MetroCard fare, and you get a pretty solid view of Manhattan. It’s not as impressive as an observation deck like Top of the Rock, but for a few bucks, it can’t be beat. The island itself also has nice walkways along the East River.

After meeting our parents last night, we drove to Newburgh, New York – a town near West Point. Escaping the city for the first time since I arrived was relaxing, but strange. We were only 50 or 60 miles outside NYC, but it felt like lightyears. Where were the skyscrapers? The smells? The subway stations? Here, people drove their own cars and lived among rolling hills and the Hudson River. I’m making it sound more idyllic than it really was, but the contrast between West Point and the city was astounding. My New York bubble had been popped.

We made a quick tour through the West Point campus (just in the car) but the place is stunning. You can just feel the history. I’m so proud of my sister for earning admission to the academy and for securing her place at an institution that’s taught some of our nation’s most important leaders. I mean, just read this sentence from West Point’s website:

From the day of its founding on March 16, 1802, a favorite expression at West Point is that “much of the history we teach was made by people we taught.” Great leaders such as Grant and Lee, Pershing and MacArthur, Eisenhower and Patton, Schwarzkopf and Petraeus are among the more than 50,000 graduates. Countless others, following military service, have had distinguished careers in business, medicine, law, sports, politics, and science.

Words fail me. How can you not be impressed?

One aspect of my sister’s West Point experience that I find especially cool is how her graduating class of 2015 will mark the 100th

The entrance to West Point welcomed new cadets.

anniversary of “the class the stars fell on,” West Point’s class of 1915. That class included many of the most important leaders of World War II, like Omar Bradley and Dwight D. Eisenhower. This is cool for obvious reasons (“Oh, yeah, my fellow West Point alumnus, Dwight Eisenhower…”) but also because I’d assume there’d be a high likelihood of someone super important speaking at graduation (which I plan to attend).

While the weekend was bittersweet – I won’t see Hope until mid-August, and can only communicate via written letters until then – I am grateful for the time we had this weekend. The transition to military life likely won’t be easy, but I know she’ll do great. And in a few years, she’ll probably run for president.

What’s a Weekend Without an LLM?

Let us take a moment to review one of the most important concepts in the English language: the Liz Lemon Moment.

Liz Lemon Moment, n. – a situation one might find him/herself in that involves embarrassing, awkward, absent-minded or otherwise culturally unacceptable behavior. The name comes from 30 Rock main character Liz Lemon, aka my hero, who often finds herself in such awkward situations. Editor’s note: “Liz Lemon Moment” was actually the winning word in the 2007 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The idea of an LLM is best described by these 30 Rock clips:

I am inclined to define the Liz Lemon Moment because one of the greatest LLMs of my lifetime just occurred.

I’m in my dorm’s laundry room. (Note to self: never do laundry on a Sunday night again. That’s when EVERYONE does laundry.) I’m carefully sorting my clothes, making sure all the whites are together and ready for detergent. Then, I realize my little bottle of Tide is sitting in my room, eight floors up.

Detergent in hand, I return to the laundry room. I’m halfway to dumping a cup of Tide into the machine when I hear a voice behind me.

“You know that’s a dryer, right?”

Oh, um, yeah, I just usually put soap in with my clothes when I put them in the dryer.

I moved my clothes to the proper machine and scurried out of the laundry room as quickly as I could.

Embarrassing? Yes. But Liz would have been proud. If Liz Lemon can survive a day with lettuce in her hair, surely I wouldn’t let the dryer incident ruin all the great moments from the weekend.

Our Tuesday crew at the Met. (Photo credit: Jonathan Knight)

I’ve been lucky to have found a great group of people in my building who want to explore the city. This weekend, we took a stroll through the recently opened High Line Park in Chelsea, a converted freight train track that’s now a walkway offering views of nature (flowers and plants line the path) and the city (gorgeous views of the Empire State Building). We also saw Super 8 (definitely worth your money) and made a couple of visits to our local Pinkberry.

On Saturday, I went with a couple of friends to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is stunning. If you haven’t been, you MUST go on your next trip to New York. I actually went twice this week (we went for an hour on Tuesday night but had to go back for a longer stay) and still didn’t see nearly enough. I’m no art connoisseur, but these were a few of my favorite pieces:

This ad encouraging people to buy war bonds in 1918 was printed as a supplement to "Electrical World"

Edgar Degas, "Dancers, Pink and Green" (ca. 1890)

James Ensor, "The Banquet of the Starved" (1915)

It should also be noted that, in the midst of museum-hopping and Pinkberry-eating, the Mariners (1/2 game back in the AL West!!) took two games of three from the mighty Phillies, including a complete game shutout from Jason Vargas. It’s still mind-boggling that the M’s are good this year (knock on wood) so I have to give a shout-out whenever I can.

That’s about it for the weekend – relatively low-key, but a lot of fun. S’pose I should go put my laundry in the washer…I mean, dryer.

(Credit for the black and white Met photo goes to Jonathan Knight of JKNIGHTPHOTO.)