It’s officially Friday the 13th as I type this. It’s also 1:37am in the morning. Why am I up so late, well, it was a four hour game earlier tonight and we didn’t arrive back at the hotel until a little after midnight. I’m sure I’ll be sleepy soon, I’m just not sleepy yet.
The season is a little more than a month old and the Senators are a game under .500, but all is going to be okay with the team. When all is said and done, fans are really going to enjoy watching this team all season long.
The season is an interesting time. People in baseball talk about the grind, the day in and day out of being at the baseball park, waiting to play the game that day in whatever city it is.
For those of us in the front office, we point towards the season nearly the moment the previous season ends. All we do is talk about wanting the season to get here so there is baseball again and not the cold winter and somewhat drudgery of the off-season.
So then why does everyone in the game want time to go by so quickly? I’m guilty of it. During games I’ll mention how long it has taken to play five or six innings as if I really have something better to do at 10:30pm on a Tuesday night.
A baseball game, the baseball season, they should be cherished like a fine glass of wine, or a nice thick, juicy steak. It’s not something to rush. A game and the season should be something to enjoy, savored. No two games or no two seasons are alike.
Someone very smart years ago said that if you come to the ballpark every day, you’re sure to see something you never have before. That phrase has been true this season and was true tonight for sure.
Because of my job, I get caught up in the game(s) while I’m broadcasting and I certainly want the Senators to win. But after the game is over, and there is time to reflect, I’m back into my more normal mode of not letting the wins and losses affect me one way or the other. Their are just too many games and too many long days to let one game affect you.
My alarm went off at 6am this morning. The bus left the ballpark for Richmond at 8am. We arrived in Richmond sometime around noon. And then I headed to the ballpark at 3:30pm. The game started a minute early at 7:04pm and finished at 11:06pm. What I just described is why I don’t/can’t get caught up in the wins and losses. The day is too long and there are too many games to worry about one game. In mid-August is when the team will start worrying about a loss.
Tomorrow (Friday), the team leaves the hotel at 10:30am to go workout at a local gym. Then it’s lunch time, followed by a short nap (maybe) and then onto the ballpark at either 2:30 or 3:30pm. Game time is at 7:05pm and we’ll hope for a shorter game than 4:02.
Well, it’s now after 2am and 10am is going to come early. Here’s to hoping the Senators bounce back on Friday night and start a road winning streak.
So here we are, two down and two to go. The Phillies and Yankees have unceremoniously dispatched the Reds and Twins respectively while the Giants are a win away (thanks to Brooks Conrad) and Tampa Bay has returned from the depths to even the series with Texas. There have been a lot of big moments, plays, miss called plays, check swings, and more in the space of 13 games.
- Bill Buckner had a terrific career for the LA Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox and California Angels. He led the National League in hitting in 1980, was an all-star in 81 and had a lifetime batting average of .289. Unfortunately for Buckner, he is remembered for one play. Let’s hope that something positive happens for Brooks Conrad. Unlike Buckner who made the majors quickly, Conrad has played over 1,100 minor league games and less than 200 major league games.
- Are we really going to argue about check swings and think that instant replay is going to solve that? How many times have you watched a game with a buddy and still argued over whether something was a swing or a check swing even with super-duper, double-strength, instant replay?
- And speaking of instant replay, do we really want the games stopped to check on every call? Okay so maybe you are thinking I’m saying this because I’m a Giants fan and Posey was out. Well earlier this year in a game against the Mets they would have won a game they lost if there was instant replay.
- Instant replay discussions drive me crazy because no one gets to actively second guess a football coach or a baseball manager. 4th and 1 and a toss sweep is called instead of pounding the ball up the middle, no one gets to question the coach. And oh my gosh, if a reporter DOES question said coach in the post-game news conference, well, how dare you. Of course the head coach knows more than you.
- Okay, so when players quit making errors and coaches/managers quit making mistakes, then we should have expanded replay.
- Quick, off the top of your head think about the biggest baseball play you can think of over the last 30 or 40 years and then wonder whether instant replay would have helped. Now do the same for football. As I was typing this, I thought about Ed Armbrister and Franco Harris. Armbrister and catchers interference and Harris and the double touch.
- How many random thoughts have I typed before I talk about Roy Halladay? He was one walk, one 3-2 pitch away from a perfect game in the playoffs. That was just about as dominating a no-hitter as I’ve seen in a long time. There was really nothing much close to a hit.
- Speaking of dominating, how about Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum. Baseball has very quietly returned to the past where good/great pitching nearly always beat good/great hitting.
- It’s a shame with all the good pitching and with Tampa and Texas now moving to game 5, that we are collectively spending so much time talking about errors and bad umpiring.
- We learned again last night in the Braves and Giants game just how tough it can be to get 27 outs, especially those last three. With Billy Wagner injured, the Braves relied on a couple of guys that have been lights out in the 7th and 8th innings. So much tougher to get three outs when they are the last three of a game.
- My hats off to Cincinnati and Minnesota even though they didn’t win a game in their respective playoff series. The poor Twins keep getting matched up with the Yankees. And the Reds ran into the buzz saw otherwise known as the Philadelphia Phillies.
- My love to the Giants aside, I can’t see anyone beating the Phillies in a series. Pitching, Defense and Hitting, what more could you want?
1971 – lost to the Pirates 3-1. Ugh!
1987 – lost to the Cards 4-3 and didn’t score in the final two games in St. Louis.
1989 – Beat the Cubs 4-1, lost to the A’s 4-0.
1997 – Lost to the Marlins 3-0.
2000 – Lost to the Mets 3-1.
2002 – Beat Atlanta and the Cards, dropped the WS to the Angels 4-3.
2003 – Lost to the Marlins 3-1.
2010 – ???????
Growing up in Northern California and being a Giants fan longer than I can remember being anything else, those are the years that they have reached the post-season that I’ve been alive. There have been several well-documented near misses (1993 and 1998 among) them, but these are the only years I’ve really cared about post-season baseball.
I’ve been lucky enough to be at the 1987 games against St. Louis, the 1989 games against the Cubs and the A’s (yes, including the Earthquake game) and the one 1997 game against the Marlins.
There’s just something about following a baseball team, through thick and thin, that makes it different than following a football team.
Quick, off the top of your head, when did the Buffalo Bills last win a championship? Okay, how about the Chicago Cubs? I’m guessing that many of the people reading this know the last time the Cubs made a World Series Appearance was in 1945.
So what makes it different following baseball as compared to football, basketball, or hockey? Fans of other sports will argue with this, no doubt, but there is nothing like the opening game of spring training or certainly opening day in baseball.
As a kid in Sacramento, I would mysteriously have a stomach ache or cold on the day of the first spring training game on the radio. It just seemed that the world was right again when I could hear baseball on the radio. It meant the school year was closer to being over than not. It meant that spring and summer were around the corner. And it meant that maybe, just maybe, the Giants would make the playoffs and win the World Series.
Well I’m 47 years old and am still waiting for the World Series win.
The Giants were poised to finally win one in 2002. They led the Angels 5-0 into the 7th inning only to watch the Angels rally and win forcing a game seven. Unfortunately, I, along with thousands of other Giants fans, knew that they had no chance in game seven.
So here we are for the first time since 2003. Seven long seasons of not really caring about playoff baseball have come to an end and this year, I do care.
* * * * *
Now onto our regularly scheduled, albeit short, blog. Seven other teams have made the postseason this year along with the Giants. I perused the season ending 40-man rosters for all eight teams and I came up with the following former Sens on those 40-man rosters that could potentially be on their teams playoff roster.
Yankees – Jonathan Albaladejo & Javier Vasquez
Reds – Bill Bray, Brandon Phillips & Orlando Cabrera (added note, Chris Heisey played his college baseball at Messiah College)
Phillies – Brian Schneider
Rangers – Cliff Lee and Vladimir Guerrero
Four of the eight teams have affiliates in the Eastern League (Giants, Phillies, Yankees, and Twins) so without counting, there are a ton of former EL players and Sens opponents that are in the playoffs.
To me, it’s more fun to watch these games knowing we’ve seen players that have played against the Senators.
Speaking of the Senators, it’s raining on the Island today. We’ve had a great couple of weeks to start our off-season and later this week we head to New Britain for the annual Eastern League Meetings. A lot of great ideas come out of the two days meetings. Next week, we’ll hold our own two day meeting to talk about what went right and wrong during 2010 and then get things pointed in the 2011 direction. I love the meeting process as it is exciting to talk about ideas and to get them started. I’m sure you’ll all be thrilled with what we come up with for 2011!
Coming up in the next few days I’m still going to write a recap of the Sens 2010 season.
I went to see the Nationals and Astros play late yesterday afternoon. It was a rare 4:35pm start which meant, in theory, I didn’t think I’d run into much traffic. So much for thinking that!
Yesterday really hit home why it’s fun to be so close to Washington DC and able to see some of our favorite former Senators. The Nats used four pitchers in their win yesterday starting with Ross Detwiler, then Craig Stammen, followed by Drew Storen and then finally Collin Balester. All four of them have appeared on City Island sometime during the past four seasons.
Offensively, Roger Bernadina and Danny Espinosa both hit home runs for the Nats (along with Mike Morse). Bernadina and Espinosa are both former Senators as well. Joining them in the starting line up was Justin Maxwell in center field. Ryan Zimmerman (a former Sen) was a late scratch.
I don’t know about you, but it’s fun to me to go down and watch them and see players that we’ve seen here. For years and years the Senators were great, winning championships, but fans didn’t much of a chance to see those players in person in the big leagues unless they wanted to travel to Philly, NY or Pittsburgh, when the Expos were in town.
Now you have 81 chances to see these players in Washington DC. Last night driving down, getting into DC, it struck me just how amazing it is to see the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Memorial, the White House, US Capitol, WWII Memorial, and much, much, more on the way to a ballgame! I thought going to San Francisco and seeing or driving over the Golden Gate Bridge was pretty cool, but it’s nothing compared to driving through so much history.
Of the current Nats roster, 13 of them played in the minor leagues for the Senators. several of the remaining Nats players appeared on City Island as part of the Sens opposition and they are: Tyler Clippard – Trenton (2006 & 2007) (he threw a no-hitter at then Commerce Bank Park against the Senators); Nyjer Morgan – Altoona (2006); Sean Burnett – Altoona (2003); Wilson Ramos – New Britain (2009); Alberto Gonzalez – Trenton (2007); and Willie Harris – Bowie (2001). Including Jason Marquis, he rehabbed with the Sens this year, half of the current 40-man active roster either played for the Sens or against the Sens.
Getting back to yesterday, the Nats won 7-2 and are now 65-88 which doesn’t sound great, but, it means the first time in the past two seasons they won’t lose 100 games. And with a decent last week, they could win 70+ games which would represent a pretty nice increase from the past two seasons in which they’ve only won 59 games.
Sometime in the not to distant future, the Nats will be in a pennant race with a whole lot of former Sens, now won’t that be fun!
Have a great weekend everyone! I have two more Nats games to attend… go Nats!!!
So I log on here and see that May 21st was my last entry? Wow. I had no idea it had been that long since I wrote something. Every time I write one of these I say to myself I’m going to write more.
I have been thinking about sharing some random thoughts all season long and now, I can’t remember half the random thoughts I was thinking about, but here are a few:
- When I used to pay money to go to games I paid to watch the games. Since when did things change to the point that if you don’t receive an autograph, the “game” experience is bad?
- Speaking of autographs, when Strasburg was here there was a lot of chatter about how many he didn’t sign. Okay folks, I’m guessing I was around him a lot more than any of you and I’m here to tell you he signed a lot. He signed every day without fail. He didn’t sign at the same time everyday, but he did sign.
- Speaking of Strasburg, he started the season as a 21-year-old with a ton of expectations both on the field and off. Raise your hand if you were mature enough to handle everything he has had to handle at 21? It’s easy to knock a professional athlete because they make “millions” but what does the money have to do with anything? I saw a pretty good guy here for a month that was dealing with a ton.
- Lastly on Strasburg… I expect him to come back better than ever. He is very competitive and is going to work very hard to come back to the Nats.
- Randy Knorr and staff did a great job this year with the baseball team. They went through nearly two completely different teams, yet managed to keep them together and pointed towards the playoffs. And though winning/losing isn’t the ultimate goal of a minor league manager, he also had many players promoted. The Nationals are a much better organization with him around, that’s for sure.
- Troy Gingrich really worked hard this year as the Sens hitting coach. They went from hitting about .235 as a team through most of the first half of the season to finishing at .251, that is quite an accomplishment.
- Randy Tomlin did another solid job with the pitching staff. The Senators used 21 different pitchers to start a game this year. Twenty. One. That is a ton. Several different pitchers were used as closers but no matter what, the Sens kept pitching well. That is a testament to Randy. The Sens lead the league in ERA this year with a 3.51 ERA.
- Atsushi Toriida and Tony Rogowski rounded out the terrific staff by keeping the players fit, healthy and ready to play. It wasn’t an easy year because of all the bumps and bruises
Off the field was amazing as well. The Sens staff led by Kevin Kulp and Randy Whitaker did a great job all season long keeping things together and going. Emily Winslow spearheaded a terrific 2010 Eastern League All-Star game. Aaron Margolis is the man behind the drape when it comes to our game entertainment and video production. I’m going to write more in few days about the rest of my co-workers and what a great season they had.
Now onto some interesting tidbits, or maybe not so interesting. People want to know what it’s like to be a ballplayer, how much time is spent doing things, at the park, etc. Well I took some time last week and came up with the following information. This information applies to me, but it also applies to them as well.
- We spent approximately 185 HOURS this year on the bus. That is nearly 8 full days.
- Approximately 1400 hours at various ballparks
- Nearly 500 hours on the air between pre-game/post-game/game
- There were 157 days from the start of the season to the last day (including playoffs) and there was a game on 146 of those days (147 including the All-Star Game)
- Approximately 42% of our time was spent at the ballpark or on the bus during the season and that does not count the countless number of hours wasting time at the hotel on getaway day
And I wouldn’t trade any of that for another job 🙂 Something can be said for loving what you do and where you do it at. Coming to work at a ballpark sure beats just about anything else.
I would love to hear from you and my email is email@example.com. I’ll be writing my thoughts on the players in the next couple of days and more about the milestones achieved by the organization this season.
I think there’s a reason in the newspaper business someone other than the person writing the story writes the headline. I hate trying to give these a title. Maybe that’s the reason I only write one of these every two months or so.
Can you believe today is the final day of May? Neither can I. We finish a four-game series here in Erie today and then head to Richmond, VA for a three-game weeknight series. The weather here has been warm for Erie, but really, beautiful. I spent Saturday afternoon bike riding with Liz and enjoying the weather before coming to the ballpark.
I think the weather is about to turn for the hot though!
On the bus to the ballpark Adam Carr and Brad Coon were talking about the weather forecast for Richmond and the temps are to be in the mid to high 90s this week with plenty of humidity. Sweet!
Today is getaway day, a day both loved and hated in minor league baseball. Loved when it’s time to head home. Hated when the players know they have to check out and be on a bus by 10:00am, play a game, then have another 8+ hours on the bus after the game. Who am I kidding, it’s not just the players that can’t stand that kind of travel, neither can I.
As for the baseball, things are going okay. If the Sens win today they’ll start June one game over .500. For those of you that remember last season, the Sens are just slightly better today than this day last year. After falling to Bowie a year ago today (and tomorrow to New Hampshire) the Sens were just 13-34. I still get the feeling this team is going to get really hot sooner than later.
That’s it for the baseball part of the blog. Please indulge me while I take a few moments (lines) to move away from baseball.
Today is when Memorial Day is observed. While it is nice to thank those currently serving in the US Armed Forces, that is not what today is about. Today is a day to pause and reflect and to honor those that have given their life defending, and over 230 years ago, gaining our independence. Today is a wonderful day to spend with family and friends, just don’t forget to pause and give thanks to those that made the BBQs and holidays possible.
Okay… so, I say this everytime but I really am going to blog much more often. It has been an interesting two months, to say the least, and in my next issue, I’ll talk about what Strasomania was like.
Exhibition games are in full swing now with the Nats joining the fray yesterday with a split-squad twinbill. As far as winning and losing goes, they didn’t fare well dropping a 15-5 decision to Houston and falling 10-4 to Florida.
Former Sens were all over the place in the games as many of the vie for spots on the Nats. Garrett Mock went the first two innings against Houston allowing just three hits but more importantly, working ahead of the hitters. In the same game, Drew Storen was outstanding throwing seven strikes in eight pitches and retiring the Astros in order. Offensively Roger Bernadina and Josh Whitesell both had nice games as Bernadina went 1 x 2 and scored two runs while Whitesell was 2 x 2. Former Sens Seth Bynum, Leonard Davis, Michael Daniel, and Jonathan Solano all appeared in the loss.
In the other game of the split-squad, former Senator Collin Balester pitched two innings and allowed a run and a hit. Luis Atilano had a tough first outing getting roughed up for five hits and four runs in one inning of work. Ian Desmond started the spring the way he ended the season in Washington, showing the Nats what he’s capable of by going 2 x 3 with a stolen base and playing shortstop and right field. Many former and future Sens appeared in this game as well.
Even though the results of the two games are a bummer, it’s nice to have baseball to talk about instead of snow.
The minor leaguers not already in camp report today and tomorrow and begin working out on Monday. The first minor league spring training game is still a couple of weeks away. I’d love to tell you I’ll keep you posted on those, but spring training box scores are pretty hard to come by, that’s for sure.
Construction Update: Things seem to be moving along quite well. I’m heading up into the construction zone later this afternoon and will have more to report then. The brackets for the seats are being installed in the upper bowl as we “speak” and the finishing touches on connecting the boardwalk are taking place too.
On a related note, we estimate that over 1000′ of the ballpark is connected by boardwalk now! Wow!
So today I listened to my first game this season. It’s nice to think it’s warm and baseball is being played somewhere. We’re six weeks away from games in Harrisburg and five weeks away from games involving the Sens.
Tomorrow the Nationals play their first game this season, actually two games as they’ll be in split squad action. Several former Sens are set to start in the games and slated to pitch.
The starting line-ups for the games tomorrow are as follows:
VS. ASTROS IN KISSIMMEE
Managed by Jim Riggleman
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Adam Kennedy
RF Elijah Dukes
1B Chris Duncan
3B Pete Orr
LF Roger Bernadina
DH Josh Whitesell
SS Alberto Gonzalez
C Wil Nieves
P Garrett Mock
Relievers: Shairon Martis, Matt Capps, Drew Storen, Jason Bergmann, Eddie Guardado, Atahualpa Severino, Andrew Kown.
VS. MARLINS IN JUPITER
Managed by John McLaren
2B Willie Harris
SS Ian Desmond
C Ivan Rodriguez
1B Adam Dunn
LF Mike Morse
CF Justin Maxwell
3B Eric Bruntlett
RF Jerry Owens
P J.D. Martin
Relievers: Collin Balester, Brian Bruney, Logan Kensing, Ron Villone, Luis Atilano, Juan Jaime, Josh Wilkie, Mike Venafro
The players in bold have played for the Senators. The game against the Astros is on game day audio with the Astros broadcasters calling the game.
I’ll try to keep up and post more or less daily the results of the big league games, especially those things former and potential Sens are doing.
Spring training isn’t like the regular season since the “pressure” of building stats isn’t there however the pressure of making the team is there for a number of players.
There’s been a lot of news and quotes out this week about Stephen Strasburg and where he might start the season. I don’t think we’ll find out for a few weeks what city will have his services to start the season but those in the running are Potomac, Harrisburg, Syracuse and certainly Washington. For those of you old enough to remember Fernandomania, you have an idea about what could happen here.
Construction Update: Things are just moving right along. I’ll be going into the ballpark late tomorrow afternoon so I’ll have a better update on Friday. The boardwalk connecting the main seating bowl and the left field boardwalk is nearly done. Visually it looks like all that’s left is some finishing work and hand rails. The seat rails started being installed yesterday and two sections are nearly done.
Until next time, enjoy some game day audio!
Today is the last day with no baseball until sometime late
next October or early November. How great is that? Pitchers and catchers begin
reporting tomorrow and Thursday, with workouts beginning next week. But many of
the pitchers and catchers that are due to report tomorrow have already
reported, so it won’t be long now before there are actual highlights on TV of
Spring is just around the corner!
My enthusiasm is curtailed only by the fact there is over 18″ of
snow on the ground at my house right now. Growing up in Sacramento I never had snow at this time of
the year in my yard. Then again, I think it had only snowed two or three times
in my life. So I’m not really sure how to handle all of these
conflicting feelings. Snow/spring. Snow/pitchers and catchers reporting.
Snow/warm weather in Florida and Arizona.
I don’t know how many emails I’ve received about the snow and the construction
on the stadium, so let me take this space to set the record straight. The
ballpark is going to open on time. The snow is having little to no affect on
the progress of the construction. I’ll touch on the construction more later.
New manager Randy Knorr was here most of last week, thanks to the snow. He was
supposed to arrive here on Tuesday and go home on Thursday, but with the
blizzard that took place last week he didn’t get home until after midnight
Friday into Saturday morning.
He didn’t seem to mind though as I’m not sure how much snow he’s been around,
at least while it is falling. He was able to tour the ballpark and home
clubhouse and he seems genuinely excited about the ballpark. We had a
chance to get to know one another since we spent a lot of time together.
If you want my unsolicited opinion, I think he’s going to be great.
Construction update time… the ballpark is still on schedule. Just outside our walls we can hear the work on the new Senators merchandise store. On a side but related note, I’m not sure what we’re naming the store, but if you have any ideas let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The boardwalk connecting the main seating bowl with the existing boardwalk in left field is nearly finished, which is exciting. Work continues on the luxury suite level and on the main level, finishing the concession stands, restrooms, etc. The clubhouses should be finished by the first week in March and I heard a rumor that the seats should be installed by the middle of March.
I want to personally thank everyone that donated money towards the Haitian relief in hopes of winning a luxury suite for a night. I’ll be announcing the winners later today so stay tuned to the Senators website for that big announcement.
One last note, one of my co-workers, Jonathan Boles, made his TV debut today when he was interviewed by cbs21. The interview will take place this Thursday so if you’re in the area you can see it “live” on the 5pm Thursday newscast. If you’re not in the area, it will be on their website beginning Friday (www.cbs21.com).
I think that’s it for now. I need to go do some digging so I can take some updated pics of the ballpark.
Living in the east means dealing with Snow. When I first moved away from California back in 1998 and to Indiana, the first few times it snowed were pretty cool. Now, well, not so much. Although I must admit it was gorgeous this morning at 7am. Unfortunately, I was shoveling it instead of admiring it.
With snow on the ground and the potential for more this weekend, the thought of pitchers and catchers reporting in less than three weeks is a strange one.
Kids in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and other places throughout the country wake up to snow and either want an “official” snow day, or they just want to play hooky to play in all the snow.
Growing up in Sacramento, we never had a snow day. I had one fog day, but never a snow day. I had to find other reasons to play hooky.
Every year when I was a kid, I would mysteriously be sick sometime the first week of March. Why you ask? Well because sometime during that week was the first Giants broadcast of the spring. What a glorious day that was (and still is). It signaled that spring was just around the corner. That baseball season was just around the corner. And it meant that the end of the school year was finally in sight!
Over the years there were other days that hooky was played as well. If you’re under 35, you probably don’t remember that back in the “old days” the playoffs were just a best of five and there were games played in the daytime. Without looking it up, I don’t think the first weekday World Series game was played at night until the Pirates and O’s played one in 1971.
So in the fall, I didn’t really pretend to be sick, I just stayed home and watched the games. Come on, they were the playoffs! And yes, I’m talking about PLAYOFFS (screeching my voice high and pretending to be in a post-game press conference).
There was also another day that I’m happy I played hooky and that was in October 1978. The Yankees and Red Sox had just finished an incredible division race that ended in a tie. If my memory doesn’t fail me, the Red Sox had a huge lead in August and worked themselves into choking (something they did quite well until 2004) allowing the Yanks to catch them.
My mom wandered through the living room that afternoon and before I could get the channel changed to whatever movie she thought I was watching, she saw the game on and realized I wasn’t sick.
Just drive through Boston yelling the name Bucky Dent and see what kind of reaction that still gets, over 30 years later.
Speaking of hooky, how many of you are going to play hooky on Monday? And how many of you think that the Super Bowl should either be on Saturday, or that Monday should be an official U.S. holiday?
Speaking of the game here’s what I think for what it’s worth… Colts 38 Saints 21. Of course, my World Series prediction was exactly the opposite of what happened.
Stadium Update… things are going very well. Pictures continue to be updated weekly on the Senators website of the construction. Excitement is growing in the offices over the construction and certainly seems to be growing in the ballpark as well.
Until next time, have fun and well, if need be, play hooky for a day and just do something fun (like playing in the snow)!