Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Captain

Generally, when reading about a post on a blog that concerns the maritime world you would suspect that a post called “The Captain” would be about the head honcho onboard boats. Generally, you would be correct. Today, you’re wrong.

“The Captain” in question happens to be the captain of the New York Yankees, Derek Jeter. If you happen to follow baseball you are well aware that this is Derek Jeter’s last season in the majors. Even if you don’t follow baseball you are still probably well aware that it his last season. Every stadium that the Yankees have played in this year has been essentially turned into a traveling tribute to one of the classiest guys to ever play the game. 

My wife is a Yankees fan, through and through. I happen to be a member of the Red Sox Nation. As she likes to say, “No one is perfect.”
Which is true. We all have our own faults.
However, throughout a storied 20 year career, Jeter has managed to not just play the game with skill and prowess but just as importantly (maybe even more so), managed to keep his name free and clear by not engaging in any bad behavior which so seems to dominate professional sports.

There aren’t many people in professional sports that I would consider to be a role model, both professionally and personally.
For me, Derek Jeter is at the top of that very select group.
Which is pretty high praise coming from a Red Sox fan.

The other night, Jeter played his last game in the hallowed halls of Yankees Stadium.
I was going to try to describe it in my own words, however I think this video captures the moment better than I ever could.

 To say that it couldn’t have been written by a Hollywood movie maker any more perfectly than it did would be the understatement of the decade.

Alas, the season isn’t over. The Yankees traveled to Boston to play out the final 3 games of their season. The Hollywood version would have had Jeter hitting a home run in the bottom of the 9th in Game 7 of the World Series to win the title. Sadly, for both Sox and Yankees fans, neither team is headed for the playoffs this year.

The silver lining in this story is that the New York Yankees are finishing the season against the hated Boston Red Sox. If there is one team, one group of fans, that respect Derek Jeter as much as Yankees fan do, it would have to be the members of Red Sox Nation.

Boston fans are rabid about their sports teams. They are knowledgeable, dedicated, no holds barred, supporters of their teams. They will let their players know when they are playing well. They will let their players know when they are playing poorly. They will especially let their players know when they downright suck. Boston fans aren’t just fans of their own teams, but also fans of the game itself. They appreciate a good play just as much as anyone. Even if it was against their beloved home team.

If there were ever a group of fans that appreciate all that Derek Jeter has done for the game of baseball (other than Yankees fans) it would have to be the ones from Boston.
Jeter may not get the sendoff that he received in New York, but knowing Boston fans, it will probably be pretty close.

And it is well deserved.

Now I would be remiss if there wasn’t at least one way for me to integrate the maritime world into this baseball post.
So here it is…
Talking with two separate pilots that we had onboard this week concerning Derek Jeter’s upcoming retirement led to the discovery that not just one, but both of them, were planning on attending baseball games this week. One of them was traveling up to New York to attend Derek Jeter’s final game at home. The other one was going up to Boston to attend Derek Jeter’s final game, ever. To say that I was jealous would also be an understatement of the decade.
Bribes were considered.
Instead, we are stuck with watching the final games of Derek Jeter’s career on the boat on TV. Not quite the same as being in the crowd, but we’ll take it.

Congratulations, Derek Jeter!
Enjoy your retirement.
I was a pleasure to watch you play the game as well as you did for as long as you did.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

It's A Small World

Headed up the Mississippi River the other day we were just getting ready to pass a ship that was moored at one of the coal piers that line the river. The ship’s self-unloading boom was extended out over the river and both I and the pilot onboard agreed that passing under the boom would be a poor navigational choice.
The ship in question
Our conversation then shifted to discussing the ship’s particulars and how the pilot had also been onboard that ship for a trip or two on the river.
“It’s a coal fired steam ship. Should the Zombie Apocalypse ever happen they can run the ship with their cargo for like 10 years”, remarked the pilot, “It also has a steam line running from the engine room up to the bridge. The captain has an old-time hot dog steamer up there. He loves hot dogs. In fact, you can’t do a trip onboard without being offered one. Or two. Or ten. They even steam the buns.”
Which I thought was an interesting tidbit of peculiar shipboard engineering. I remarked that a dedicated steam line from the engine room to the bridge definitely showed how different tugs and ships are. Tugboat hotdog preparation methods are slightly less refined.
Complete with bun warmer.
We then shifted our comments from hot dogs to the affore mentioned hot dog obsessed Captain. “He was my roommate at the Academy.”
Turns out, the pilot was a graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Hence, the Captain of the ship was a MMA graduate as well. 
As am I. 
And so is my wife

Graduation years were discussed and it was determined that I had “escaped” (please note that both the pilot and I used the term “escaped” from the Academy when referring to graduating) a few years before he and the ship’s Captain had arrived. However, my wife was in her senior year when the two of them had started school. Consequently, the pilot knew who my wife was. She had made him do pushups and “get in the half” on more than one occasion. 
"The Half" Stay there until your arms fall off.
Based on this information, it was also determined that my wife probably knew the pilot’s roommate as well. Innocently enough I asked, “What was your room mates name?”   
“Shane Murphy.”
For those that aren’t familiar with the name, a quick read of this blog post might refresh your memory (selfless promotion).

For those of you who prefer the Cliffs Notes version…
(Now) Captain Shane Murphy, was previously the Chief Mate on a once little known ship, the Maersk Alabama. Perhaps you are familiar with the book, or the movie starring Tom Hanks, concerning said ship. It featured Captain Richard Phillips (also a MMA graduate) and the takeover of the ship by Somali pirates. The exact same ship that Shane was serving aboard as Chief Mate, at the exact time that the pirates decided to take the ship’s lifeboat and it's captain on a brief joy ride. A joy ride that ended with the Somali pirates meeting up with the sharp end of the Navy SEALs broad reaching sword. Long reaching rifles, in all actuality.
Note to pirates.
So while Captain Phillips was out in the lifeboat with the pirates on a 3-hour tour (It's okay to sing the song. You know you want to). Chief Mate Shane Murphy was therefore unceremoniously promoted to Captain in the previous Captain’s absence.
Shane did not take over for Tom Hanks.
Now Shane has his own ship to command. A ship that is totally zombie proof. Which is good to know. That has a hot dog steamer on the bridge. Also, good to know.

This brings us back to the title. 
It’s a small world. 
You never know who you are going to meet out here. The maritime community is a small place to begin with. Just how small, happened to be highlighted quite nicely this week. 

Besides, it’s nice to know that if I ever want to work on a certain ship I know the Captain’s weaknesses. Hot dogs and the fact that my wife made him do pushups while he was in school.
All good things to know.

It really is a small world.
Feel free to sing this song as well. 

***Those dolls are creepy. Why has no one made a movie with these dolls coming to life and going on a murderous rampage? Perfect, right? If anyone does make a movie I want partial credit. You saw it here first.