Texas Rangers: 2010 AL West Champs

I'd let Darren Oliver pour champagne on me.

I’d be remiss not to comment on this achievement. It’s been 11 long years since the Rangers were in the playoffs.

I was 11 then.

Things have changed a lot since then. We started a new war. We elected a black president. We learned that a pitching staff headed by Ryan Drese is a terrible idea.

None of that seems to matter right now. We’ve made it back. I’m sure a lot of people in traditional baseball towns like New York or Boston made fun of the Rangers for going crazy in the clubhouse after clinching the division, citing the act-like-you’ve-been-there-before corollary in the Book of Baseball.

But that’s the thing: The Rangers haven’t really been there before. Just three postseason trips and a whopping one playoff win in their 38-year history–or 49 years if you include their time spent as the Washington Senators.

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It’s been a while (cue Staind)

So my promise to have our Colombia trip all blogged and ready in a hurry didn’t exactly work out. That may have had something to do with the fact that I had a week upon returning to find a place to live in and move to San Antonio. In case you didn’t know, I got a full-time job with the San Antonio Express-News. I cover high schools and the University of Incarnate Word. It’s pretty cool so far.

In the mean time, I’ve been working, obviously, and adjusting to a new city and living on my own. It’s different, that’s for sure. I plan on blogging about my adventures in this new city. I’ve got my first one already planned about a recent trip to a great BBQ place here in town.

But before I can do that, the Locker must deal with this Colombia situation. So, how about a slide show? It will be quick and dirty and photos are much more interesting than my rambling writing, right?  I couldn’t figure out how to add captions, but the order of photos are Villa de Leyva, Rio Claro, Medellin, Cartagena and Santa Marta. Have a particular question/comment about a place? Comment!

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The Great Colombian Adventure: Bogotá

Amanda and I on top of Monserrate, overlooking Bogotá.

So we made it. Colombia wasn’t a land full of coke-snorting outlaws and deranged guerrillas. Well, at least we didn’t run into any during our 16-day, cross-country trek. Overall, the country was everything we thought it would be.

We quickly realized that this wasn’t a vacation. We didn’t spend all of our time lazing on the beach and zip-lining. A ton of time was spent waiting for buses/planes, on buses/planes and trying to figure out where the hell we were going. But that’s what made it not a vacation, but an adventure. Our airline went bankrupt. One of our Colombian airline’s planes crashed. A car bomb went off in Bogotá when we were there. And it was one hell of an experience.

And trying to put all of this short trip (believe me, we met dozens of travelers along the way, and none were traveling for less than a month) into a neat and tidy blog post is pretty impossible. There is no way I can get in every detail/observation without writing for six hours straight and sounding like a douche in the process.

So to avoid being a douche (always a priority in my daily life), I’m going to try to capture the magic of this Colombia trip in a brisk form. I’ll give my thoughts on all of the cities we saw and end it with a list of some casual observations about Colombian life over a few blog posts over the next few days. Just click on the pictures for larger views.

At the end of the day, I realized that traveling needs to be a big part of my life. There’s just too much world out there to stay in one place your whole life.

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En vísperas del viaje

Fly Mexicana: The fun is not knowing if your return flight exists!

T-minus 9:40 until we depart DFW for Mexico City and then Colombia and I’ve got a lot racing through my mind.

I think I’m done packing but I’ll never feel like that’s completely done. Did I pack to much? Am I forgetting anything? Will there be enough room for the cocaine?? (joking…) But seriously, that little backpack seen in the previous post has swelled to more than twice that size like a tick full of all things travel related. And yet I still wonder, will I be OK with less pairs of underwear than there are nights of our trip?

Hopefully I won’t smell too bad.

We’ve got 90 percent of our hostels/hotels booked but still feel like things are pretty up in the air. I’ll call it my fear of things being lost in translation. Getting responses like this don’t make you feel all that confident that things are actually set up: “I confirm that I have taken are booking.” And that’s the one reservation I actually did in Spanish. Well, at least I know that they are using Google Translate, too.

And then there’s the matter of our airline declaring bankruptcy and suspending the majority of its international flights indefinitely the week of our trip. They canceled half of their normal flights to Bogotá, but ours are still operating…as of now. But I think as long as we get there, we’re good. We can always find a way home, and Mexicana assured us that if our return flight gets canceled, they’ll arrange for us to take another airline.

Other than all of that nervousness/uncertainty, I’m pretty dang excited. So excited, that I’ll share with you our complete itinerary so that–if you care enough–you can play the “Where are Amanda and Blake in Colombia today?” game. Try it! All the cool kids are doing it.

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Travel prep enters overdrive

I plan on smuggling a small Colombian child into the U.S. in that 75-liter pack. (Photo credit: Mama Hurtik with Blake's recently purchased camera, the first of his life.)

Things are happening, my friends.

Amanda and I leave for Colombia in a mere eight days, and I’m doing my best not to freak out. It helps when you have a seemingly endless amount of things to plan for: reserving hostels/hotels, figuring out what all we have to buy, pacifying an eternally worried mother, combating scary diseases and the like. So we’re entering crunch time here and I’m learning a few things.

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“Colombia?! Why in the hell Colombia?”

This photo came from "cocaine.org," no lie.

I’ve been getting this question a lot lately. In case you didn’t know, from Aug. 11-27, Amanda and I will be traveling to and around Colombia for a vacation/graduation trip (gotta squeeze all we can out of that achievement before joining the real world, y’know?).

So naturally I’ve been spending a lot of my time explaining to well-meaning, concerned friends, relatives and the like. But I’ll be the first to tell you that I can get my thoughts across in writing much better than with my voice. Hence this blog post explaining why the hell we’d decide to go to a country known by most Americans for cocaine, cocaine-related murders and as “that country where Johnny Depp buys all that cocaine in ‘Blow.'”

Yes. That’s where I’m going. But it’s not 1988 anymore.

So to all my concerned friends/relatives/whomever, here’s why you should be more than excited for our trip while, naturally, still keeping a healthy dose of concern for our well-being:

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Today is Bengie Molina Day

Bengie "Freight Train" Molina.

True baseball history occurred last night. Bengie Molina, the self-described “slowest man on earth,” hit for the cycle AND had a grand slam to carry the Rangers to an 8-4 win over Boston. While I didn’t get to see the game after the rain delay, I take some sort of karmic responsibility for spurring on this amazing feat. Just look at the text message exchange I had with Austin Talbert as history was being made:

AT (6:23)- My name is Vlad Guerrero and I am the worst base runner ever. (After Vlad was thrown out trying to take third).

Me (6:40)- Hello my name is Bengie Molina and I’m the slowest human being alive. (After Bengie barely made it to third).

AT (8:59)- Bengie!!!!!!!!!!!!

Me (9:00)- What happened?

AT (9:00)- Grandslam

Me (9:00)- That’s impossible. We’re talking about Bengie Molina.

AT (9:03)- Don’t look now. But he’s a triple shy of the cycle.

Me (9:03)- OK now that’s impossible.

AT (9:54)- Triple. No joke.

Me (12:11)- I take sole responsibility for this miracle.

AT (12:12)- You had nothing to do with it.

Let’s agree to disagree. Regardless, the call by Josh Lewin and Tom Grieve may be my favorite call of all time. “Pigs have flown in Boston, Massachusetts!” Simply brilliant.

Again, sorry for doubting you Bengie. Now keep it up.

So go celebrate Bengie Molina Day appropriately: eat six cheese enchiladas and then run the bases four times.

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