I never liked playing golf. It’s a sport that breeds frustration, even for those who are more-or-less consistently good. Unlike baseball, a sport in which I was able to make on-the-fly mechanical adjustments—and then excel—to me, golf presented a horse of a different color; I was never able to wrap my head around how fickle the sport could be despite its simplicity. How was it that on one day, I could par a hole, but the next—and on the very same hole, no less—I could shoot a double or triple-bogey? It is still unfathomable to me.
My father was very supportive of me playing golf, despite how its in-game bipolarity took a toll on my enjoyment and eventual “retirement.” He’d offer little pieces of calm advice, which would often become go-to soliloquies when I’d contemplate tomahawking my seven iron into the ravine.
Here were some of my favorites:
"It’s a good sport to know, for business-sake."
"Don’t worry about that shot, just move onto the next one."
"Try to develop a rhythm. This game is all about rhythm."
"Just give yourself an eight on that hole."
My father wasn’t trying to push me to become a professional golfer or anything, but rather, he felt that I had potential to be a good golfer, and that I might find joy in a sport that I could play into my twilight years. He was right, of course. I stopped playing baseball after high school, and while a bunch of my college buddies attempted to turn tag football and basketball games into a bi-weekly tradition, the idea fizzled out when we realized how white and Jewish we all were. Alas, future old people need sports, too.
And even though, in my non-golf world, I am a very even-keeled person, the lack of “control” I felt while handling a golf club made me prone to angry outbursts on the course. At a certain point, my father stayed mum; no longer bestowing his harmless advice upon my once willing ears. It was unfortunately no longer of use. In my darkest course moment, I told off an elderly lady when she claimed I hadn’t yelled “fore” loud enough, and suggested that I work on my “golf etiquette.” In retrospect, perhaps I should have. But at the time, I called her an “old bitch.” My father had to slip the country club starter a twenty dollar bill to defuse the situation.
Over time, fundamental parts of my golf game deteriorated, and with it, went my pain threshold. While I, at one point, had a pretty steady drive, suddenly, I wasn’t able to hit the ball remotely straight with a driver anymore. Dumping my powerful one-driver for a measly three iron didn’t setup my approach shots, which forced me, psychologically, to make up for it in other ways. Imposing this type of approach on oneself is poison, and thus, my game became poisoned.
What’s odd about golf is that there really is no exterior pressure: it’s just you, your club of choice, and the ball. There’s no defenders in your face, or ninety-five mile-per-hour pitches being hurled in your direction, or any noise, for that matter. The only pressure one feels during even the most casual game of golf, is oneself. And that, for me, was too much.
It doesn’t take much to leave a lasting impression on a little kid. Some of my closest friendships, for instance, were forged on early-life idiosyncrasies like diverse sticker collections, hilarious hand-puppet skills, and even just being tall enough to reach out-of-reach things. Ah, to be young.
But while the kids I knew idealized astronauts, fire fighters, Superman, and even George H.W. Bush (there’s always one eight year-old Republican in every class), my hero was Tim Bogar.
Tim Bogar was a mediocre reserve infielder on the early-to-mid-1990’s New York Mets teams. From 1993 to 1994, his first two seasons in the Major Leagues, the bench player owned a combined .226 batting-average with just five homeruns. But my fandom wasn’t based on statistics. No, I wasn’t that vain back in the 1990’s. Tim Bogar was my hero because he saved my life. Well, sort of.
It all started during Mets Spring Training in the 1995 pre-season. Like all semi-affluent Jewish grandparents, mine had a house in Florida, so our family decided to pay both them—and the New York Mets—a visit.
My dad, who was a big Mets fan in his own right, bought us all Spring Training tickets, and drove the entire Berkon clan to St. Lucie to see some live, pre-season baseball.
Aside from the usual little-kid lure of Carvel soft serve in a miniature, plastic Mets cap cup, I was specifically obsessed with collecting player’s autographs. Unlike most fans who yearned and beckoned for the likes of Todd Hundley, Rico Brogna, John Franco, or Generation K (Bill Pulsipher, Jason Isringhausen, Paul Wilson) to put sharpie-to-baseball, my prerequisites were a little more simple: a person had to be wearing a New York Mets uniform. I swear I have higher standards for things now.
We arrived at the ballpark early to watch some batting practice, and to ensure I would have ample time to retrieve my precious autographs. Unfortunately, the Mets players were being particularly stingy in the signature department that day. They instead seemed more concerned with their pre-game stretches, hot babe ogling, and pranking each other in the hot Florida sun.
My hopes of adding more Mets autographs to my collection appeared as bleak as my now-soup-textured Carvel. Yet, as I began to retreat up the stadium steps, Tim Bogar poked his head out of the Mets dugout. My disappointment quickly turned to jubilation. By gone it, this was my chance!
I rushed back down the stairs, and towards the Mets infielder, who had already begun to sign some memorabilia for fans. Unbeknownst to me, and perhaps realizing this was too their only chance at nabbing any John Hancocks, hordes of fans followed my tiny footsteps in pursuit of the career .228 hitter’s autograph.
As I eagerly stretched-out my baseball and sharpie towards Bogar, a swarm of older fans bum-rushed the front row. Now pinned up against the bannister—and unable to turn to my older brother or father for support—I did what all scared eight-year olds would do. I began to cry.
Despite my pitiful tears and shrieks for help, the autograph-hungry fans didn’t relent. To them, the quest for retrieving Tim Bogar’s autograph was a classic case of survival of the fittest. And I, unfortunately, was Piggy.
But just when I thought no one would notice my terror and angst, and I would surely be trampled to death in a very mediocre part of Florida, one person did notice: Tim Bogar.
Bogar quickly sprung to action, like a true hero always does, and shouted: “Hey, everyone, can’t you see you’re hurting the kid!”
Bogar’s words had an almost antidote effect on the crowd. The once-crazed fans immediately stopped pushing and shoving, and calmly let me back to the front of the line, where the concerned infielder stood.
"Are you all right, kid?" Bogar asked.
"Yeah, I’m all right," I said, as I wiped some errant tears from my face.
Bogar, now smiling, took my baseball, signed it, and thanked me for being such a big fan.
I can’t recall if the Mets won that game, or really anything else about that Florida trip. But as long as I have my marbles, I’ll never forget how Tim Bogar, who really had one of the most subpar baseball careers in history, saved my life.
- Donate a sizable chunk of my bi-monthly paycheck to the Westboro Baptist Church
- Drink Rogaine on the reg as if it’s a tasty new Snapple flavor
- Read up about euro shams, and subsequently become a “euro sham snob”
- Genuinely inform prospective employers that my favorite film is Air Bud, and demand that they would also have to hire my wheelchair-strapped sister, Jess (pronounced: YES)
- Eat Panda Express for every meal, and consume it while using an elliptical machine at Equinox
- Wear ill-fitting penny loafers with very thick socks
- Celebrate Hitler’s birthday like it’s Christmas
The hurricane has struck, most if not all of your loved ones are dead, and the civilized society we once knew has subsequently been overrun by zombies. While this is all new and quite scary, it doesn’t mean that you should just let yourself go from a health perspective.
Below are five tips on how to eat healthy and stay fit during a post-hurricane/apocalyptic world:
(1) Not all human protein has the same health benefits. For instance, Korean females contain the lowest amount of cholesterol, while African-American males contain the highest. So be sure to set your cold-blood murder targets accordingly if you want to look tight at the beach.
(2) Portions are the key to a balanced, cannibalistic diet. After you slaughter your best friend, who willingly let you into his/her home, you don’t have to eat the whole body in one sitting. You will surely be full after eating his/her arm, leg, or breast meat, so don’t let the memories of your early-childhood sleepovers, Summer teenage trips to Jones Beach, and best man/woman wedding speeches send you into a binge-eating frenzy.
(3) Contrary to mainstream rhetoric, light snacking of bodily extremities throughout the day is perfectly fine. Aside from the nuts, seeds, and fruit one might find along the way, a new study from the Zombiatic Ministry of Health asserts that human toes, fingers, hands, and feet are just as nutritious as the “usual suspects” and are far more fulfilling to boot.
(4) Use human oil for cooking purposes. Believe it or not, the oil one can extract from the skin of a recently butchered human body is more healthy than grapeseed, walnut, and avocado oil combined. Also, be sure to check out this delicious human blood vinaigrette recipe from Zombie Food Network.
(5) Eat kale.