Where in the world is Tom Walsh?

Day 169

 

Something I didn’t realize I would come across before I undertook this adventure was waking up in the morning and wondering, “Where the hell am I?”

It happened again today. Opening my eyes and coming out of a slumber, I had to ask myself where was I. Like the hourglass on a computer, telling you there is processing going on, I flipped through all the places I could be and realized I was back in the 5280 (Denver). What a crazy feeling.

I drove back from Chicago Monday and got into Colorado and Coors Field Tuesday just in time to see the Rays punch my Rockies in the face and snap the amazing win streak they had been on. Oh well, had to end sometime but I can’t explain how good it felt to be back in the heart of Coors. Home sweet home. But, let me get you the reader caught up as I have been absent in the blogosphere.

Chicago

I can understand when old Franky Sinatra sang, “My kind of town Chicago.” What a blast. taking time off to make a pit stop in this city was a great thing to do and I recommend it for anyone. Here’s a quick pictorial of a few things to see.

DSC07897.JPGCheck the “bean” out if you want to see some cool art in downtown Chicago.

 

DSC07925.JPGTake the red line up to the beach and laugh at how they bring in palm trees to give you the feeling of a beach on Lake Michigan. The beach is awesome, but think about how palm trees would not grow in the Chicago winter.

 

DSC07927.JPGSit down at a beach bar and have yourself a weekend lunch before you jump back on the train.

Look who I found!

Chicago has some famous people in it’s history and it’s present. Maybe not as famous, but always near the top of the blogging world- Jeff Lung of RSBS. Yep, had to touch base with this blogger while in the windy city.

 

DSCN0484.JPGJeff was awesome enough to not only recommend an awesome Chinese restaurant, but also whip out that crazy Chinese fluency. Allen was not kidding when he said Jeff is more fluent than most Chinese. Watching the man in action was impressive.

After a very good meal and some great conversation, Jeff indeed lived up the quality he puts on every blog. I would have liked to have seen him in action, live on stage doing some standup, but that leaves something else to do in Chicago when I make it back.

Thanks for the meal Jeffrey and the book, I look forward to reading it. This guy is the real deal and MLBlogs is lucky to have him in the community even if he isn’t a Bud Selig apologist…

The long and winding road

Heading out of Chicago would mean at least 15 hours on the road heading to Coors Field. A little bit of rain in Iowa, a nice drive for the most part, and Chinese food leftovers beginning to smell up the Rockies Roadster, the trip was pretty good.

If you have never hit up a truck stop shower you should at least once in your life. Nebraska was the perfect place for that and low and behold they had a sign I had to take a picture of.

 

DSCN0485.JPGSays it all.

Coors sweet Coors

Driving in to the Mile High city I saw the rain clouds looming and I thought what a way to welcome me back nature.

 

DSCN0486.JPGNature would not be the only soggy moment as the Rays would welcome themselves into the confines of Coors with a homerun fest that would equal 12 runs in a 12-4 beat down of my boys.

 

upton.JPGThe final score hurt but it was so nice to be back in the familiar territory of the Rockies.

 

DSC07957.JPGWatching the sun set on Coors and the clouds begin to roll out, I had faith the Rockies would come back strong the next night and they did, taking the game 5-3. Today they took the series and look strong as ever. That run was no fluke.

So back in Colorado for now, but the road beckons yet again next week as the Rockies take on the Pirates at home and then on to Los Angeles for more interleague play versus the Angels and then Oakland and the A’s.

I’m sure while out there, I will have the same feeling of waking up and asking, “Where the hell am I?” I’ll just answer I am everywhere I need to be : )

Who knew Chicago would be so live…

Day 165

 

You ever think in your life that you should have a soundtrack like a Hollywood movie? Like when the lead character is walking down the street and some cool and catchy song is summing up the scene. Waking up on a Sunday morning two blocks from Wrigley I have a tune in my head.

Remember the song in Slumdog Millionaire “Paper Planes?” The gal from MIA singing the catchy phrases and you can’t help but bob your head with a rhytmic swagger.

“Sometime I been sitting on trains. Every stop I get ’till I’m clocking my game.Everyone’s a winner we’re making our fame. Bonaifide hustler making my name.”

My boys are working on a 10 game winning streak and with a confident swagger walking into stadium bars across from Wrigley and seeing the repeated highlights, I like what I see. Not on top of the division but all of the baseball world is looking to see what got into these guys. Rockin the purple and grey I have a permanent smirk.

 

DSCN0352.JPGWalking into Wrigley with $15 standing room only tickets and getting $200 worth of tickets from a fan who gave my friend Nick and I seats 12 rows up from the field near homeplate…for free. Paying more for the Old Style then the tickets…

DSCN0365.JPGSeeing what I thought I would never see, another teams fans take over Wrigley. How many cities had I seen Cubs fans take over opposing stadiums and here I would be watching Twins fans dominate the friendly confines.

 

DSCN0370.JPGLike a blur with moments of clarity and chaos thrown in, the days in Chicago have been as live as I could have ever thought.

 

DSCN0355.JPGWho knew Chicago would be so live…

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The food and the drink and vibe is all pretty incredible. Depending on where you go, you can get lost in any direction you’d like.

 

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Nobody should ever go hungry in this city.

So much to do so little time. Where to get lost now?

 

Shortest post ever

Day 162

 

Let me just enjoy this. There’s nothing I could write or say. I asked for it before I left Colorado. I was hoping for a win.

Me, I can’t get out of town fast enough. Not because I don’t love Colorado this time of year, but because I am looking for any reason to see the Rockies first put together a win, then maybe a second. Who knows, with enough luck I may get to see a winning streak.

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I got it. Two sweeps in a row…I’m gonna think about what I should want to see next : )

I love Milwaukee!!

Day 161

 

That’s number 7! Yep. I cannot say it any better than that. The Rockies are on fire and I don’t see a water hose anywhere in sight. Winning back to back series, who knows where this train is going to end.

So needless to say I love Milwaukee!

My friend and I sat next to some very cool but intense Brewer fans. They were great for all kinds of information and they even clued me in on who this guy is still coming in to close games playing “Hells Bells.” I wouldn’t get to see him these first two games and although I’d like to see how crazy the crowd supposedly gets when he comes in, if he doesn’t we have a lead going into the ninth and I like it that way.

 

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     Trevor Hoffman by Tom Walsh

Scoreboard baby scoreboard

 

DSCN0270.JPGAfter the game we had gotten the word on a place to check out. I’m always up for an adventure and sure enough we would find one of the coolest bars ever. So cool even some scenes from Major Leagues had been filmed there. Being the nerd I am, I had to ask the waitress to take the photos recreating them. What a blast.

 

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majorleague.JPGIt was 1989 when it was filmed so some things had changed, but the bar was still pretty much the same as the movie.

 

DSCN0286.JPGThe waitress was very cool and even enlisted another one for a “stand in” role.

 

majorleague2.JPGSo I’m not sure what statue makers are thinking these days and I came across a staute of the “fonze.” It was pretty terrible so I had to give it the thumbs down.

 

DSCN0307.JPGWell, the day grows longer and I am off to track down some Laverne and Shirley. Milwaukee has far too much to see before another night game.

Go ROCKIES!!

.

 

What a difference a little confidence can make…

Day 160

 

I watched with my own eyes, about 100 feet from Huston Street in Minute Maid park, as he got touched up and fell apart only to regain himself in time to head into extra innings. We would end up losing that game. What a difference a little bit of confidence and a five game win streak can make. Make that six with the win tonight.

Tonight, warming up in the bullpen, I saw a different Street. Hungry and confident he did his own thing and I knew it was going to be a different outcome.

 
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     Huston Street by Tom Walsh

That’s the face of confidence. Hell that belongs on a Wheaties box.

Lake Michigan was cloudy this morning and the water was freakin cold, but I knew the Rockies would continue to stay hot. They are hitting on all cyclinders and tonight was not the night for it to end.

 
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DSCN0251.JPGSome old faces joined the team. Ianetta, done with his rehab start, looked to make an instant impact. I asked Phillips if he knew if he was going to be getting any regular playing time since Chris was back. I just got a who the hell knows look. I told him I hope he got some good backup time because he was swinging a good bat. We’ll see.

 
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     Chris Ianetta by Tom Walsh

The bullpen was relaxed and you can see an overall feeling of things could be getting better with the guys. You see a few more smiles, but nobody is thinking the team is out of the proverbial woods. Although watching Manny find a walkie-talkie and mess around with it made for some in between innings amusement.

 
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     Manny Corpas “the general” by Tom Walsh

The walkie belonged to a Miller Park crew member, but I’d would have loved to have heard the response from the person on the other end! Tell me I’m not the only one with that photo : )

I was rocking my old school Colorado Springs Sky Sox hat and some really nice folks from Pueblo, Colorado who had flown in for the game, decided to chat me up.

 
DSCN0259.JPGT.J. and Tyler took a day to fly in and I let Tyler in on a secret to get a ball. Score. It worked and he had a very nicely used warm up ball to show all his buddies back in Pueblo.

 

DSCN0258.JPGI am always pumped when I meet fellow Coloradoans on the road who are travelling to games. Another gal chatted with me and we realized we had been sitting rows away from each other in St. Louis. Cool thing was she is a New York Rockies fan!

Six wins in and I know it can stop at any time, but for this Rockies fan, this streak is some sorely needed water in the parched dessert landscape.

 

Baseball junkies here’s your fix.

Day 159 1/2

 

Ah ok, this post will be dedicated to the Rockies and the triumph that was the first sweep of the season.

This guy pitched and I got the ticket of the day he pitched autographed and chatted with him to say great game. Seven innings, 108 pitches and dominance. I hope to see more of it amigo. I have been praising you for quite a long time and I will be framing that autographed ticket.

 

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     Ubaldo Jimenez by Tom Walsh

This word that came up on the scoreboard at Busch seemed to sum it all up.

jackpot.JPGWhat can I say? I saw this guy get his first hit with the Rockies and make one hell of a play on a put out.

DSC07607.JPGYes it was a great play and after the dive they are still there Gonzo.

 
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     Carlos Gonzalez by Tom Walsh

This guy couldn’t get a hit to save his life but I had no problem with that.

 
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     Pujols strikeout by Tom Walsh

This character looked a little creepy. I’ll think I’ll take our big smile dinosaur anyday.

 

FredbirdbyTomWalsh.JPGThese two were chirping it was time for the fat lady to sing.

 
cardinalsbyTomWalsh.JPGEven a rainy day at the ballpark is better than a day at home!

 

DSCN0231.JPGFinally, adios Busch Stadium you were the friendliest confines to my boys the whole season eventhough you are a complete rip off because you can be. Damn you supply and demand and the fact you can charge $22 for the cheapest seats in the house. Shame. Don’t you know we are in a recession and beers should not be the most expensive I have seen anywhere – $7.75! Ridiculous, although it is cool you let people bring their own food and drink (minus beer) into the stadium.

 

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       Busch Stadium by Tom Walsh

 Speaking of stadiums, I really need to get caught up on my stadium reviews. I am sooo sorry : ( The road can be tough to get wifi and post as much as I would like. I owe you the reader Arlington, Minute Maid and Busch. I will find time. Promise.

And

Yes, Emily I know I haven’t posted Helton’s 2,000th hit but I keep coming up short on the autograph. I am trying and I am confident I will get it soon and I’ll post the pict. Thanks for your patience.

 

 

Step out of the box

Day 159

 

I left Houston saying, “The Rockies won. The Rockies won.” I’m leaving St. Louis saying, “The Rockies sweep. The Rockies sweep!”

Had someone told me driving into St. Louis, the Rockies would not only dominate the Cardinals, but that they would sweep, I would have chuckled. I saw the win in Houston that started the streak and saw the confidence in the hitting. I couldn’t help but think it was a hiccup or a fluke.

Everytime the Rockies had scored a ton of runs, the next game they fell flat on their faces. Not one or two, but five games the Rockies looked solid all around. I didn’t care it was 42,398 to 1 in St. Louis. I didn’t care I was the only Rockies jersey the eye could see. I cared that this was the team I knew was always there. The pitching that I had seen masterful and the hitting to back it up. Guys were smiling again in batting practice. The sky wasn’t falling anymore. Breathe…just breathe..

Here I am getting ready to make my way to Milwaukee and the Brewers. For the first time since driving out of Arizona, opening series, I am absolutely confident in the Colorado Rockies. It’s a nice feeling, expletive it’s a really nice feeling.

There’s a another nice feeling too. One that I have gotten away from in this blog but one I want to touch on before I leave the Arch and the city of St. Louis. When I asked you the reader to come along on this experiment, I asked you to come along as a neighbor and as a friend.

As a friend I’d like to tell you to get out and meet some people. You don’t have to go across the country jumping to various ballparks, but just meet some people. Hear their story. Let them hear yours. Hence the title of this blog “step out of the box.”

I’ve been humbled more than a few times in the weeks I have been travelling by the people I have met and the lessons I have picked up on or maybe even reinforced. Never judge a book by it’s cover. Open it up, read a few pages and you just might be blown away.

The next time you are at your local ballpark strikeup a conversation with a willing stranger. You might hear how they have moles in their backyard or how they saw the light on the scoreboard get blown out by a homerun ball. Invite a new friend to your home for dinner or run an errand with someone who seems fun. You might end up driving around late at night singing bohemian rhapsody at the top of your lungs laughing with someone you just met and may never meet again.

Human beings, in my opinion, have stopped slowing down and just listening to others. You might hear how this person dressed like a floozy is actually a graduate student heading to India to live among the local population to study the socio-political ramifications on the local music and how it’s spread. Yeah that’s what I said.

Heading into Milwaukee I am excited for the Rockies, but I am even more excited to meet even more of a population I know little about. It doesn’t take much. Just a hello or how are you can be the start of a story even more potent then any Hollywood imagination.

It doesn’t have to be across the nation or in the next state. Try someone nearby. Everybody has a story and if you don’t ask you may never hear it and sadly they may never be able to tell it. Some people are locked like tightly hidden safes. With a little smile and genuine interest in your neighbor, you just might be able to crack it and enrich two lives.

I don’t know where I am staying in Milwaukee or outside of a good friend, who I may even meet there. That’s what get’s me most excited.So that’s my advice neighbor. I say it because I care and I’d like to spread the information that maybe some people choose to overlook. Step out of the box..

For the baseball junkies I will post twice today and yes put some pictures in : )

The mystery of the lucky pj pants…

Day 156

 

The Rockies win. The Rockies win. Oh how nice it feels to say that.

Thursday night at Minute Maid Park was the breakout I’ve been hoping to see. Homeruns all over the place and the Rockies were the offense juggernaut so many, including myself, know they can be.

I’ve worn all different types of outfits this season in hopes of finding the right combination. This game was not anything I wore though. Sitting with Kylie of Blake Street Blogger fame, we had a secret weapon- the lucky pj pants.

There was one mystery about them. They refused to be taken in a picture correctly. For whatever reason, the camera which would pick up every other color perfectly, would not take a picture of the purple pants. They came out blue every time.

 

DSCN0206.JPGIt had to be the pants I told Kylie. They wouldn’t come out in camera purple like a vampire doesn’t show up in a mirror. Magic.

How nice it was to see one Mr. Garrett Atkins taking the plate. I like to say I called it when I said homerun here Garrett, left field. Not once but twice he would oblige. Sitting in the front row of the stadium watching Garrett run the bases, I couldn’t help but yell, “It had to turn sometime.”

 

Garrett Atkins by Tom Walsh.JPG

     Garret Atkins by Tom Walsh

Back to back Brad Hawpe-Atkins solo homeruns. It was beautiful to see. After talking to a Rockies insider very close to the team, I found out Atkins had been on the trading block the entire winter but nobody was interested. It hurt to hear because I am a big fan, but it’s the game I suppose.

Outside of the hitting, the pitching was just as impressive. Finally I saw confidence and an outing worthy of applause.

 

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     Jason Hammel by Tom Walsh

Jason Hammels shut down the Astros and the 17 game hitting streak by Miguel Tejada came to an end.

Kylie, Ozzy and I decided we would just take the seats no one had been sitting in while we were standing during batting practice. If those people didn’t want them we would gladly take them. First row field level for $7, you wouldn’t hear any gripes from me.

 

DSCN0211.JPGKylie is more than happy to smile for the camera but I apparently tend to be more serious. I don’t think we were winning by too much at that point, so maybe I was just focused.

 

DSCN0205.JPGKylie was cool enough to make sure she got me the free food at the juice box she had offered when I told everyone I would be wandering around the country.

 


DSCN0213.JPGAfter commenting on how I never “really” smile in pictures Kylie took the retake with my free grub. Ok maybe I need to smile more.

Smiles all around. The Rockies were winning and handily. Just then I turned around and there were new people sitting behind me. One was wearing a “happy” shirt. Could this be? Could I be meeting a “happy youngster” groupy in real life. I asked this gentleman where he got his shirt and I would find out not only was he a fan of happy but also a snagger himself.

DSCN0215.JPGLonestar from the MLBlogging community himself, had a very productive night at the ballpark. Happy may have some competition. This was the second time I had met two bloggers in the same park in the same night. It’s awesome to meet people within the blogging community.

I was happy to meet Kylie and I hope she keeps the lucky pj’s rocking until we are in first place. If they keep up, she needs to take them to college with her when she leaves for Colorado. The Rockies fan base would be happy to get that luck in the mix.

Ozzy and I had a great time and the Rockies took one to keep the sweep from happening. Hopefully this can keep up into St Louis. With a quick detour I hope to catch at least two games of that series. Wish me luck. Houston was good to me and it’s time to move on.

 

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“We’re gonna try”

Day 155

That’s what Rockies closer, Huston Street, said when I asked him if we were going to win tonight

Huston, everybody knows what Yoda said in Star Wars. “Do or do not. There is no try.”

This is not going to be a post bashing Street or any other Rockies player for that matter, but I did see something maybe I have never seen with the Rockies-no confidence.

In the beginning of the season, batting practice looked like a bunch of happy guys who were determined to win every game. Now it looks like a lot of serious faces taking frustration out on balls flying deep into the bleachers.

But these are serious times in Rockies land. Just last week the skip was let go and anybody I suppose could be on the chopping or trading block. I saw Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd in the stands last night and I couldn’t help wonder if he was feeling maybe a little less insecure about his position.

The Rockies had the lead by a run in the ninth and just needed Street to close it out. A few hits later and he was visibly shaken on the mound. You knew it was coming but would it reach extra-innings or the game over. Extra innings and my heart went out to Street. It was easy to see he was upset at himself. I personally think Street may be one of the nicest guys on the team. Hell if I had a sister or a daughter, I think I’d be fine with her going out with him just from how I’ve seen him act all these many games and how he has interacted with me. Class act and a gentleman he is.

But letting the lead go in the ninth is not getting it done. I’ve seen him pitch masterfully and no closer is perfect, but this could be the worst time to falter.

The closer wasn’t the only thing faltering. Leaving men on base has been killing the Rockies. In ’07 they knew the guy behind them was going to bring them in. Now it looks like they are clutching to win the game themselves. No confidence breeds bad results.

Josh Fogg, the once mighty dragon slayer, may even be weary himself. This is a picture before he threw the ball that would go as a walk off homerun. You tell me if he looks confident.

 

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     Josh Fogg by Tom Walsh

Before the game I had to joke with Garrett Atkins about the slump buster ball he signed. I told him I hope it’s helping because I did promise him it would break him out of his slump to sign the team ball and I didn’t want to be made out to be a liar. He smiled and said “It’s gotta turn sometime.”

I’m hoping not just for Garrett but the team as a whole it turns quicker than later.

 

Rockies and Astros and Kylie the Blake Street Blogger? Oh my…

Day 154

 

I had high hopes walking around the outside of Minute Maid Park that the Rockies would be able to pull out a win Monday night. They were down 2-1 in the season series versus the Astros and I wanted to tie the series.

Not to be.

I was pleasantly suprised walking towards the third base gates when from out of the distance I hear “Tom?” Normally it’s not unheard of me to think I hear Tom, but it’s usually someone saying mom and I ignore it. Today’s Tom was actually meant for me and I was lucky enough to meet the Rockies/Astros blogger Kylie. The Blake Street Blogger herself was decked out in a Holliday Rockies shirt and ready for the boys to win.

After the game I realized I had not taken a picture with Kylie, so this is a must do at tonight’s game.

I did manage to get a picture with a weird looking statue of Biggio. Or at least I think it was Biggio. They were intense looking statues but I had to offer a hand.

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I’m sorry but this statue just looked scary. Reminded me of the faces in Indiana Jones the Lost Ark when they faces are melting off and they turn to skeletons.

 

scary statue.JPGA really nice usher, Ozzy and I stopped to talk to, gave us all the info and maybe not publicized info about the park. I appreciated it and would not mention his name here because he may have said some info the management would not want out. Nothing serious, but most appreciated as a visiting fan on a low budget.

I had a good feeling for the outside of the park and I was ready to check out what Minute Maid had to offer.

We had great seats for the game and extended the offer to hang out to Kylie. Any Rockies fan in enemy territory is automatically a Rocky Mountain Way favorite, except for one pretentious idiot who will go unnamed here, who thinks he must be a gift to the Rockies. I pointed him out to Kylie and she agreed his comments were not the coolest. Oh well there’s always one.

I tried to get Todd Helton to sign my photo and would have been able to had an usher not come over and backed me up. Oh well, I pointed it out to him and told him there was a copy at Coors if he did not already have it. Don Baylor was cool enough to put his signature on the team ball. Space is running out, but the team ball is impressive at this point.

Cook was on the mound for the Rockies and didn’t pitch all that bad. Matter of fact he should have won the game. A few hits a few feet here or there and runs score. He pitched well and I was sad to see him get the loss.

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     Aaron Cook by Tom Walsh

Oswalt was on the mound for the Stros and although he had seven strikeouts he put seven men on. I wouldn’t say he had his A-game but he did what he had to getting the win.

 

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     Roy Oswalt by Tom Walsh

I’m beginning to not like Carlos Lee. El Cavallo hit a two run homer to up the score to 4-1.

 

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     Carlos Lee by Tom Walsh

This train is supposed to make it’s way across the stadium after a homerun but it did not. Maybe with the recession they had to lay off the conductor or fuel prices are too high to get it across? I was ready to catch it moving, but it just stood there.

 

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     Minute Maid Express by Tom Walsh

The Rockies would make some poor defensive plays and strand too many runners on base.

A familiar story and with a sad ending. As I sat up and readied myself to leave the stadium I  turned back and looked down. Some Astro fan had been nice to leave me $25 on the floor. Maybe they felt bad and wanted to refund any money I had spent. At least it was a free night at the ballpark.

 

DSCN0195.JPG And if you wondered how it looked to take a ball to the nads..

 

BalltothenadsbyTomWalsh.JPGIt was not pretty…

 

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     Bejeweled by Tom Walsh

Notice two players were holding the jewels? Common reaction from other men, sympathetic gesture to the hurt man.

Headed out to game two. Go Rox!!