Saturday, April 7, 2012

Oh, What the Sun Can Do...

Today is a beautiful day in Seattle! It's days like these that help me to remember why I moved to Washington in the first place. When I visited Seattle in the summer of 2009, I knew that the sun and clear skies were not the norm of the Pacific Northwest, but it still roped me in. Walking through Pike Place Market then was just as beautiful as it is today.

I realize now that I never really wrote in this blog about that trip. I came to Seattle with one of my best friends, Scott "Tiger" Kelly, to visit our recently-married friends, Jenn and Ron. The trip was right before I started graduate school at Pitt, so it was the transition into a new chapter in my life. I began writing in my favorite journal during that trip, which I filled up over the course of a year, so my thoughts that week remained mostly private. The NW provided a new perspective, a new place, possibilities. When I returned home from that trip, I knew I wanted to head west someday.

It's been pretty surprising that heading west happened so soon. When I left Seattle in 2009, I felt like I would finish my graduate program and relocate here. I really thought I'd wimp out and stay in Pittsburgh, yet here I am sitting in a coffee shop in Ballard, listening to the Pirates game online, thinking about how this is close to home now. Not close enough, though, because I certainly prefer Seattle to my actually home of Tacoma.

Tacoma is blue collar and reminds me of where I've come from in Beaver County. For that reason, though, it's unsettling. Walking down 6th Avenue on a weekend night or having to shop in the Tacoma Mall reminds me so much of Beaver County that it feels like I've never left, in a lot of ways. My experience in Tacoma is a lot like how I would feel if I lived in Beaver County again now. Satisfied with some good people around and a lower price tag than the nearby metropolis, but still not exactly in the center of the action like I'd want to be. Living in Seattle is not a feasible option, so I don't dwell on it much. But I do think this adventure would have a different feel if I were living here.

In the end, though, it's all about perspective. The sun is shining today and I would love being anywhere with weather like this. I love spending days like this walking around with Sam (and, this weekend, her BFF Emily), but I'd probably enjoy this relaxing Saturday with her anywhere that it's sunny. My perspective is different today because the sun is shining on everything we see.

That's the way things should be with Jesus in our hearts. When we remember God's love in our life, everything feels sunny. My life so far from home often gives me significant homesickness, but I do acknowledge that God brought me here. Through a serendipitous series of events, I landed in Tacoma without having experienced much anxiety during my job search this past summer. This was God-driven, which gives me peace.

Tomorrow we celebrate the resurrection of Christ on Easter. Christ's love reminds us that even though death appeared to have won at one point, life and love do eventually prevail. Christ will overcome death on Easter. Sunny days are ahead.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

2012 Pittsburgh Pirates, At-a-Glance

For the superstitious one still existing in my brain, I'm hoping a different home for me means a different result for my beloved Pittsburgh Pirates.

Opening Day is certainly still a holiday for Pittsburghers without any particular reason why. The team has been bad for years and doesn't seem to be turning the corner hard enough to think this year will be significantly different. The difference this year? They know what it feels like. A division lead in July was a real thing last year. One friend of mine suggested he'd buy my plane ticket home for the NLCS if the Bucs got there. Those sort of conversations were really happening last summer. Pittsburgh reminded the league that they're a baseball town. I'm no expert, but let me get into my thoughts on this season.

You could easily consult Joe Starkey or Dejan Kovacevic to reference the stats, the scores, the streak, the reasons why the Pirates will or won't succeed this year. That's not really my gig. However, I will consult some facts. The Pirates have a superstar in Andrew McCutchen. He's a strong defensive CF with some power and a lot of speed. He's young and becoming more disciplined. That could be said of several other important players, like Alex Presley, Jose Tabata, and Neil Walker. Those four together give Pirates fans hope of an entertaining day at the ballpark every day.

Pitching? It was a lot better last year. Karstens, McDonald, Correia and Morton showed some promise that showed their potential. Add the injury-prone Erik Bedard and the currently-injured AJ Burnett and the Pirates rotation has some more depth and promise than it has had in recent memory. I've been one to suggest the Pirates have needed a veteran, like Burnett, to join the team with some experience in winning (World Series with the Yankees), so his leadership in that rotation should show as the year goes on. The bullpen is also pretty talented, led by Joel Hanrahan.

So there are some things that are promising. I won't pull out the numbers because I just don't have time, but I'll say the Pirates will flirt with .500 this year. I don't see them breaking it yet, but if some things fall into place, like Pedro Alvarez erasing his abysmal Spring Training or AJ Burnett regaining his top-of-the-rotation form in a low-pressure environment, then they could easily compete with a weaker NL Central. The 1997 Freak Show Pirates didn't have as much promise as this team and they came close to breaking the streak (79-83, 5 GB in the divison). With that in mind, anything can happen. Let's go Bucs.