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Padre Patrol

Black Coffee

Does anyone drink black coffee anymore?

I learned to drink coffee black in college after I poured what can only be described as month old cottage cheese into my cup when I failed to check the expiration date on some cream.

It doesn’t hurt that I make the best coffee from only the finest handpicked beans. My French isn’t very good but I believe the brand of coffee that I drink exclusively is called, “Folgers.” It comes in a red tub with a black lid—I think. Nonetheless the calorie count on a cup of black Folgers coffee is 0, zilch, nada, nothing. A White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino has 550 calories.

Just for fun, here is Starbuck’s calorie chart. In fairness it’s really not that bad considering for lunch I’m going to eat three In-And-Out Burgers in my truck.

Padres Patrol

I was born in the eastern part of San Diego in a small town called El Cajon. My grandparents, Hazel and Tom, had this wonderful home with a tennis/basketball court, huge swimming pool, a casita with a dedicated ping pong room and around five acres of avocado and citrus trees.

It was an absolute idyllic location to spend one’s childhood.

My grandfather was a big baseball fan and because I was a big fan of my grandfather, I too became a fan of the San Diego Padres. I guarantee I have written at length about both baseball and my grandfather but it’s always nice to think of Tom Devlin during the first week of the regular season.

At the age of 8, I was obsessed with two things: baseball and Raiders of the Lost Ark. So, I did what anyone of us would do—I combined both my passions into one grand experiment called Padre Patrol. With my SD ball cap, a homemade canvas sack filled with a rusted pocketknife and a pen, and a bullwhip I fashioned out of a jump rope, I would walk my grandparent’s house looking for intruders.

Looking back, it was borderline criminal that my parents would let me trudge through fields filled with rattlesnake and drifters during the twilight hours with nothing but a dimmed flashlight and a little something we like to call grit. How I avoided being kidnapped by a Chupacabra is beyond me. I should have been the subject of a 60 Minute segment or an episode of Magnum PI, but somehow I survived.

I was thinking of Padre Patrol last night when I watched Andrew Cashner give up three homeruns to former SD, now Los Angeles Dodger Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzo is the first player to have five homeruns in his first three games. As a retired Padre Patroller, I’m getting pretty darn tired of San Diego being associated with records at our expense. We gave up more homeruns to Barry Bonds than any other team (87), we’re the only team left in baseball without a no-hitter (Hell, even Miami has 5), we’ve been no-hit NINE times (ugh!) and last year, they set the worst single season batting average at .210 (breaking the 1910 Chicago White Sox average of .211).

Watching San Diego play a crummy game against LA was tough but thank goodness there is a lot of baseball to be played. Last night’s 4-7 loss with Cashner giving up 6 runs on 8 hits, 3 walks and a beard that needs to be trimmed is bad. But on the brightside, Justin Upton and Will Middlebrooks both got their first HR of the season and Derek Norris is proving to be a tough SOB behind the plate (he went 2-4, with a run).

Ian Kennedy and Tim Hudson face off tonight at Petco Park—time to whip a Giant.

Canvas Chairs

My new desk at work is a lovely cubicle on the top floor of a snazzy building. I have a fancy computer and an expensive phone that I don’t know how to use. For the life of me, I can’t remember if I am supposed to dial 9 to make an outside call. With the exception of not having a garbage can (I’ve taken to hauling all of my trash into the bathroom and flushing it down the low-flow toilet), it’s a killer work environment.

Best of all, I have a really comfortable chair to hold my ample bottom. It has a woven canvas back that breathes really well and a lovely cushion. It’s the kind of chair you’d want if you were going to sit for eight hours writing.

Because there is a dress code at work (don’t look like a bum), I’ve taken to wearing button down shirts with a tie or at the very least a nice sweater. Because I am not used to sitting in a dress shirt, I forget that sometimes they pull up out of my pants and ride around the small of my back. Because that ample bottom is doing the equivalent of a knife-fight with my pants, I realized to my horror yesterday that my vertical smile has been flashing to those that walk behind me.

Not the best way to endear oneself to the new coworkers.

To quote GI Joe, knowing is half the battle and I’ve decided to invest a very professional muumuu.

Meth Head Neighbors

We live in Sugarhouse in a beautiful 1918 craftsman bungalow house. Across the street is Forest Dale Golf Course and off in the distance is an unobstructed view of Mt. Olympus.

It is arguably one of the neatest houses in the valley with the exception of my neighbors to the north. I affectionately called the dilapidated, trashed home The Hills Have Eyes House because one of the 13 people living there looks like an irradiated mutant. There is nary a day I can’t smell them smoking pot on the front porch or hear their barking dog chained to a post howling. The matriarch wears a casual muumuu (nothing like my Brooks Brother one) and cigarette butts litter the entire property. There is literally an air conditioning unit dismantled on their porch and the common uniform of the residents is a combination of a Raiders jersey, Dickey tan shorts, knee high white socks and shower shoes.

Leaving the house this morning on my way to work, one of the riffraff was having an argument with his girlfriend who was trying to leave in a weather-beatened green Camry with a garbage bag doubling as a window. He was chain smoking at 7:57am and sweating bullets. Part of me wanted to intervene (not stop the fight but get both of them to a barber and a job fair) and the other part want to just keep driving straight back to Las Vegas where the world makes sense.

While I technically live in Sugarhouse, there is no denying that I honestly live in the Sugarhood.

The Fiver

1. The Padres have signed a wheelchair-bound ex-pitcher for 20 straight years. Matt LaChappa has been a Padre for the last 20 years and he will be one for life. Yet another example of why San Diego is the greatest ball club in the Universe or galaxy or MLB.

2. Here’s another plug for Episode 47 of Trib Sports Radio. I spent an hour interviewing Salt Lake Tribune columnist Kurt Kragthorpe. Dynamite interview and I definitely recommend anyone interested in checking out the podcast to start with this one.

3. Man kills himself after being lifetime lifetime buffet privileges revoked. There but for the Grace of God. I do like that Yelp calls the buffet “off the chain.”

4. Changing the $20 bill. I like Andrew Jackson but the guy was a stone cold murdered. If I could change out his mug on the $20, my vote goes to Nevada’s own, Sarah Winnemucca.

5. Classic wrestling. WWE Intercontinental Championship Match with Champion “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig against my third favorite wrestler of all time, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. IT went down January 25, 1991, with some of the best officiating I’ve ever seen in the squared circle.

Ben Raskin writes, podcasts and bartends. Follow him on Twitter @BennyRaskin. Be a mensch and tell a friend.

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About Ben Raskin

Born in El Cajon, raised in Las Vegas, educated in Reno and living in Salt Lake City. I bartend, write, box and live in Sugarhouse UT.

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