Padres @ Giants, 5/5/15

IMG_0560.jpgI got tickets to see San Diego play San Francisco last week, via my wife’s work. It was a last-second, unplanned thing, but my first game of the year, so I went to eat, take a few pictures, and eat.

Here’s a quick bulleted list update of the game:

  • I took BART from West Oakland to SF, which itself was pretty fast, but I always underestimate the walk from the subway to the stadium, which took about 30 minutes.
  • I brought my full-sized DSLR, with the usual kit lens and zoom, plus a new 10-18mm wide. I also brought my EOS-M mirrorless with a 50mm prime.
  • I shot a touch of video with the EOS-M. The wide-angle lens didn’t work out. I feel like I keep taking the same pictures of AT&T park over and over again with the zoom. The 50mm and the mirrorless was great.
  • We had a box suite, but went downstairs to the club level to eat. I ended up getting a trio of sliders that were corned beef and briscuit, and a bratwurst. The corned beef was exceptionally good. The bratwurst was a bratwurst.
  • I’m still (allegedly) a Rockies fan, so I don’t like the Giants or the Padres. I won’t say anything bad, except that I think it’s chickenshit when a World Series champion’s fans boo every player’s at-bat, especially when you’re outspending all but three teams in the game.
  • I actually like the Padres’ dark uniforms. I think they remind me of the Brewers’ uniforms, minus the cool caps.
  • The game itself was eh. The Giants jumped ahead fast, and the Padres never scored.
  • It was Cinco De Mayo, and some dude proposed on the kiss-cam.
  • I saw a huge dude with a giant Bud Lite logo tattooed on his hand.
  • The Rockies game that I was going to passively follow was rained out.
  • We left after the 7th inning.

A bit boring, but I do like going to AT&T for the food.

Pictures are up on flickr:


The Agony of Defeat

I’m so depressed about the baseball season right now.  The Rockies have catastrophically failed in almost every aspect, and I don’t foresee it getting much better any time soon.  And if they had a bad start, and continued a slump through May, that would be one thing.  But they were leading the division — they were leading all of baseball for a while.  And now I think they’d have serious problems taking on most AAA baseball teams.

Some facts and numbers:

  • The “ace” pitcher, Ubaldo Jimenez, does not have a single win.  Since he started the all-star game last year, he is 4-12.
  • Jorge De La Rosa, arguably the team’s best pitcher, tore his UCL completely and will be out for the rest of the season.
  • The ace of 2008 and 2009, Aaron Cook, hasn’t thrown a single pitch this year in the major leagues.  He fell apart last year (6-8) and then broke a toe, then messed up his shoulder, then slammed his hand in a door and broke his finger during spring training.
  • Closer Huston Street has given up 5 home runs in his last 8 outings.
  • There’s essentially nobody at 3rd base, and they just fired 2nd baseman Jose Lopez.
  • There are no longer any left-handed pitchers starting.  They have only one lefty in the bullpen.
  • They’ve gone from first to third in the division.  Depending on how the Dodgers do this weekend and how they do against the Dodgers in their upcoming series, they could very easily drop to 4th.
  • Tonight they are starting a pitcher who has never pitched about the AA level in the minors against the team that has the most run production in all of baseball, in a hitter’s park.
  • The team is 7-18 in May, and will most likely finish the month with 20 losses.
  • There are a million other statistics you can look at to make this even more depressing.  (Stolen bases?  0 for 3 in 11 games?)
  • Oh yeah, and the other day, a fan trying to slide down the railing in a stairway out by center field fell 20 feet and smashed his head in, and died the next day in the hospital.  Not only is this horrible for the fan and his family, but I’m sure it’s not helping a) the sagging attendance figures; b) the funk over the team; and c) the team’s finances, because I’m sure the guy’s family will sue the hell out of them because the safety rail didn’t have a safety rail.

It’s gotten so bad that I finally, after last night’s total clusterfuck of a 10-3 loss, deleted the MLB At Bat app from my phone.  Half of me thinks that they will eventually have to come back and start winning games again.  Half of me thinks it will only get worse, and it’s only a matter of time before Todd Helton gets his annual back injury and Tulo gets his yearly leg pull and Aaron Cook comes back from the DL and starts pitching like a batter’s high school coach at the home run derby.  I haven’t gone to any games this year, and I have no desire to drop a thousand dollars on a long weekend to Denver to watch them lose two or three games to the Nationals, or pay $100 for tickets to watch them get demolished in a sea of orange over at AT&T Park.

And it’s still May.  There’s still four months of this.

It’s so hard for me to give up on this, it has become so intertwined with my life.  I mean, I think about the time I spent in Denver and how much I liked it there, and how I loved going to games there.  Granted, I was not 100% happy there; I didn’t have a job for a good chunk of that summer, and I didn’t get much writing done during that era.  But I only remember the good stuff, and it’s odd how memory works that way, how I can smell a certain kind of suntan lotion and immediately think of the times I would slather on that SPF-80 and roast out in the 331 section during a day game.  I sit in my car that I bought back in Colorado and think of all of the times I listened to 850 KOA while driving up and down I-25, trying to keep up with the end of that 2007 season.  Even my iPhone – I think about all of the games I’ve watched on that stupid little app in the last couple of seasons, all of the time I’ve spent trying to follow this team while I was thousands of miles away.

We go to the movies almost every weekend, and it’s become this ritual, how I would get out of a show and flip on the phone and check the score.  And that’s the gotcha to all of this, the way those different disparate sensory inputs all twist themselves together: the wood trim on the mall we go to, the theater’s bright red carpets, the smell of the popcorn, the taste of the same Reese’s Pieces I always get, the design of the little icons on the screen, the feel of the phone in my hand, the look of the uniforms on the pictures in the news recap of the game.  It all fits together in such a perfect storm of pieces, that just taking out my phone now and looking at the hole in the icon screen where the app used to be makes me depressed.

I should channel all of this energy into writing.  And I’m trying to write, but I’m thinking about it too much right now.  And that’s the problem with both writing and baseball: thinking about it is your worst enemy.  If you’re standing 60 feet and six inches from a batter up on a pitcher’s mound, and all you can think about is the number of losses behind you and the ability of that batter and his stats versus your kind of pitching, you have lost.  If you stare at a blank page and think about how much you need to write and what you need to get done and how you need to get that next winning book out there, you will lock up completely.

Could be worse.  I could also be a football fan, and staring down that huge disaster of a lawsuit that’s probably going to derail their next season.  The more I think about sports, the more I miss the days when I hated all of them.


List: 30 Ways to Reach First Base

  1. Hit a single.
  2. Reach on an error.
  3. Walk on four balls.
  4. Get hit by a pitch.
  5. Catcher drops the ball after the third strike.
  6. Fan interference.
  7. Catcher interference.
  8. A pitching infraction that results in a 4th ball.
  9. A pitched ball lodges in the catcher or umpire’s mask on the third strike or fourth ball.
  10. Replacing another player that just reached first base.
  11. Purchase failing MLB franchise, build new stadium, create a ground rule stating that a player with your exact name is awarded first base at each at bat regardless of the strike/ball count, add yourself to the 25-man roster.
  12. Star in a stupid movie based on a British book written about a different sport, run on field to chase romantic interest Jimmy Fallon.
  13. Take a 25% dose of the steroids normally used to hit home runs.
  14. Take 4 train from East Side or B/D train from West Side, stop at 161st St, enter at gate 6.
  15. Hire Uri Geller, learn secrets of hypnosis, hypnotize all defensive players and umpires.
  16. Jet pack.
  17. Time at-bat with zombie apocalypse, wait until all players are infected, have co-conspiritor drop large pile of human brains on the warning track by center field.
  18. Build time machine, send cyborg back in time to kill pitcher’s parents; repeat until you get a really bad pitcher you can easily hit.
  19. If you play first base, you will always reach first base nine times, provided you don’t leave the game early.  (Why isn’t this ever on any of these lists?)
  20. Have fans throw batteries at the head of the pitcher.  (Works best if you play for the Phillies and are at a home game.)
  21. Scout a pitcher born with phenylketonuria; feed him large amounts of aspartame prior to his start.
  22. After strikeout by a pitcher born outside of the United States, petition the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law for arbitration, arguing the pitcher’s work status is in dispute due to paragraph 9 of General Assembly resolution 2205 (XXI) of 17 December 1966.
  23. Up-down-up-down-left-right-left-right-A-B-Start.
  24. Either build a second moon, or move an asteroid into Earth orbit, with enough mass to change tidal patterns and conversely change barometric pressure to alter the pitcher’s ability to locate the ball correctly.
  25. Do not give the pitcher LSD (especially if it is Doc Ellis.)
  26. Start a facebook petition to put you on first base.
  27. Travel to bizarro alternate reality where you get to advance to first base after you swing at nothing three times.
  28. Send a photo of a gun to the pitcher’s cell phone. (This probably works best if you are Elijah Dukes.)
  29. Be the daughter of Bud Selig when he is on first base and suddenly needs it to look like he doesn’t own first base because he took a new job.
  30. Practice.
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Goodbye Bradley

So Brad Hawpe got let go this morning. What a bummer.  I mean, the guy was not doing well statistically, and the Rockies have a deluge of outfielders that are outperforming him, and they need to clear the roster spot to get some kind of pitching relief.  But still, it bothers me.

Hawpe’s one of those ghosts of 2007 that remind me of why I became a Rockies fan in the first place.  The very first free t-shirt I got at Coors Field was a Hawpe shirt.  He used to be an incredible hitter, the kind of guy who always batted well north of .300 and would sky almost any shot that was left up.  Between him and Holliday in right field, you had this incredible one-two punch that would do serious damage to weak pitching.  I went to a lot of lopsided games that were chiefly his fault.

He’s been on a downward sprial, though.  He almost won the 2008 All-Star game with a robbed home run, and now he’s hitting in the mid-hundreds. It’s so strange how all of the 2007 alumni have just fallen apart. Garrett Atkins got released from the Orioles for poor plate performance (just showing up is average plate performance for Baltimore); Kaz Matsui was batting like 0 for 29 for the Astros before getting let go.  I won’t even get into Aaron Cook.

I just saw Hawpe play on Saturday, and didn’t really think it would be one of his last games.  I thought since he made it past the trade deadline, he’d coast until winter.  Guess I’ll have to get used to seeing him in a White Sox uniform, or where ever he goes.

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The first Rockies game of the year for me was today, and it looked to be the pitching duel of the year, with two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum versus Colorado’s ace who may be the 2010 Cy Young winner, Ubaldo Jimenez.  It didn’t end up that way, but it was still a great game, and always good to see the Rockies win.

Memorial Day’s a great day for baseball – a day off of work, nice weather without being too hot, and great crowds.  I scooped up tickets on StubHub,  in 108, row J, which is ten rows behind the visitor’s dugout.  We got there an hour early, which meant I got right up to the wall and took enough pictures to burn through an entire battery during batting practice.  I absolutely love the new DSLR for games, although I get lens envy when I see the pros with giant three-foot long zooms on the field.

They had a ton of veteran-related things going on for the holiday, which was surprising considering the political climate of the area.  But they had a ton of medal-laden vets out before the game. The national anthem was sung by Keni Thomas, who was a Ranger in the battle of Mogadishu; he actually did a pretty decent job of it.  They also did a moment of silence and “God Bless America” plus all of these taped things of various players thanking vets.

So, the game – basically, Ubaldo pitched very well, and Lincecum did well, but there were enough minor gaps to let the Rockies break it open.  Lincecum walked a couple of people in the second, and then Clint “I’ll swing at every pitch you throw at me” Barmes, who never had a hit against Lincecum, got in a two-run single on an error.  There was also a later pick-off attempt where the ball got loose and someone got two bases on it.  There were a few questionable umpire calls that went in the Rockies’ favor and royally pissed off all of the Giants fans, too.  And Lincecum threw way too many pitches, with a 32-pitch second inning.

Ubaldo’s pitching was phenomenal.  The numbers are amazing: he’s the first ten-game winner this year, something that only 15 people have done since 1952; he had nine strikeouts and extended his scoreless streak to 26 innings with the shutout. He pitched a complete game, which is the fourth time he’s done that – and what’s odd is I saw him do that in 2008.  His ERA has dropped to a microscopic 0.78, too.  What’s amazing is that he threw a 128-pitch game, but even well after the 100-pitch mark, he was throwing 99-MPH fastballs. And I wasn’t watching the pitch board the whole game (I always forget where it is at AT&T Park, and reflexively start looking near all of that Levi’s crap in right field) but even his curve ball was touching 90.

The game was pretty boring offensively, with no major bombs hit, except a few that the Giants launched that went straight to Carlos Gonzalez with no effort.  It was all manufactured runs and NL baseball goodness.

I took a ton of pictures – they’re on flickr here:

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Just a quick note on yesterday’s game. We went to see the Cardinals play the Giants at AT&T park, and managed to get seats from Sarah’s work – they have a luxury box and rotate who gets tickets, so we went with maybe a dozen of Sarah’s coworkers and their families. This was the first time I ever had box seats, and it was pretty cool, especially the fact that the food was all right there and catered. I spent most of the time talking to other people, which is also nice, because you can go back inside and sit around there away from the game if you want. I had no real vested interest in either team, although I secretly wanted St. Louis to win, and they did.

Photos are on flickr, and here’s the link below. This was my first run with the new camera, and the zoom lens did great. I expect it to do even better if we’re close for a game – we were up in right field for this one. Good view of the water and the boats and bridges and people in canoes, though.

Cardinals-Giants 4/25/10


Opening Day

Opening Frickin’ Day, 2010.  Today’s the day my iPhone battery life is slashed to a third, because I pull it out ten times an hour to check scores.  It’s when I start leaving work at 6:05 so I can listen to the first three innings of a game in Colorado.  It’s when I start cursing the Montfort brothers for not opening their god damned wallets.  And this year will be even worse, given the fact that I just signed up for my buddy Joe’s fantasy league.  I did this in 08, and it turns out I signed up in 09, but then got in a car accident, so when I didn’t make the draft, Joe put my slot on autopilot.  It turns out my rudderless ship placed 5th out of 10.  So if I can’t do better than that this year, I’ve got bigger problems.

Now I compare every baseball season to the 2007 season, which is when I really fell in love with baseball and started considering myself a fan.  I, of course, greatly miss not being in Colorado right now, not living a block from Coors Field and being able to walk over on a lazy Sunday and pick up a seat in the 330s for twenty bucks, the section where I can look right down at home plate, look straight across at the scoreboard, or look slightly up and see, on a clear day, the majestic Rocky Mountains in the distance.  Coors Field may not have its Green Monster or garlic fries, and it may have other shortcomings (like the low-hanger urinals, which I hate) but the view is one of the best in baseball.

So, roll call – who’s still here, and who’s just a ghost of 07?   Garrett Atkins got non-tendered. In non-baseball terms, this is when your contract expires, and the management decides to say “thanks but no” on getting another deal. This is no surprise for Atkins – he lost his full time spot at third base last year to Ian Stewart, who essentially did a better job at roughly five and a half million dollars a year less salary. But he was a key face in the Rockies’ run to the World Series in 07, and part of me feels sad any time a piece of that team moves on from Denver.  In his case, he’s going to the Orioles, which is the baseball equivalent of being transferred from the head office to the Czech republic.

The biggest blow to that memory was Matt Holiday moving on this year to Oakland (and ultimately St. Louis.) He was one of those big “face of the franchise” players, an all star and home run derby king, and always a welcome face in left field. The Rox never get air time on Sportscenter, but when they did, it was almost always a Holliday play.  I cursed and cursed the Montforts for not giving him a better deal and pushing him away, and my offseason Sabermetric exercise I never got to was calculating how the Rockies would have done statistically with him in left field.  But Carlos Gonzalez stepped up, and Holliday dropped that catch that basically shut down the Cards, so it all works out in the end.

Yorvit Torrealba is gone, which I have mixed feelings about.  I actually named my car Yorvit, because when I first bought the Yaris in the fall of 07, I kept forgetting the name Yaris.  Anyway, he’s gone on to the Padres, which trumps going to the Orioles tenfold in the “step-down” department.

Probably the biggest name I will miss in ’10 is not a player, but announcer Jeff Kingery. He’s called Rockies games since day one on 850 KOA and the rest of the Rockies network. when I started this whole affair back in 07, I went to as many games as I could, given that I worked from home and lived only a block from Coors Field. but on the days I could not attend, I’d tune in to KOA and listen to the games as I hacked away on Ruby on Rails code. Listening to a ball game in the radio has this hypnotic allure to me, something I can do as I work on something else and pull in the dribble of numbers and stats from the AM radio ether. we didn’t have cable back then, and I’d only catch games on the tube if we were at a bar or restaurant where the game was on a flat screen in the corner. but I prefer listening to the games. Now I will watch every Rockies game that’s on TV, but now that we’re out of market and I’m too cheap of a bastard to shell out for whatever premium package you need to see every Rockies game.  Knowing Comcast, I probably have to buy some $70 a week plan that includes professional curling, Lacrosse, and the Kobe Bryant channel, and won’t let me just get MLB TV.  At any rate, I get the At Bat coverage on the iPhone, and can listen to 850’s feed in the car on the way home, which is always weird to me.

Predictions?  Rockies will take the NL west if they can keep together their pitching, which is the big question right now.  If the Dodgers are able to take the division, I have a good feeling the Rockies will get the wild card.  I think the Giants have absolutely everything in place to do stellar this year, but every year that happens, they are beaten, bloody, and fucked by the end of May with their entire offense on the 365-day DL.  I think the Cardinals will take the Central, and there’s no way the Phillies won’t take the east.  And there’s probably no way the Phillies won’t take the NL.  Also in the East, I think the Nationals will enjoy their first season not in the cellar, thanks to the trainwreck of injuries known as the Mets.

AL?  Sort the teams by payroll, take the top four, then the top two, then the top one, and that’s who will win the World Series.  Why again am I not a fan of the AL?

Okay, time to start combing over the numbers to get ready for our draft in 10 hours…

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Baseball pictures

IMG_1317.JPGSo I’m moving photo pages (again) to Flickr.  And in that vein, I have moved all of my baseball pictures into one collection there:

There are 32 sets (30 games, 2 stadium tours) going from the first game I ever went to in 2006 up to last season.

I can’t wait for this season to start.  We’re hoping to plan another long weekend in Denver, and I will have a real camera and a huge zoom lens, so I’m hoping for some good pics.  I will also probably try to get in a game in San Francisco.  The Rockies won’t play in Oakland this year, and they are doing so bad and the Coliseum sucks so much, I’m not sure I will go to a game there, but if I run across cheap tickets or I get insanely bored or really need a fix, who knows.

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A tale of two balls

…baseballs, I mean.  Calm down.

First, here’s a little early xmas present I got myself the other day: a signed Troy Tulowitzki ball. I netted it from eBay for only twenty bucks.  The guy also had Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi balls going for about ten bucks toward the end of their auctions, but I did not splurge as much as I could have.  This is only the second ball in my collection, the first being a Rockies spring training 08 ball that John Sheppard gave me at my wedding reception. I need to avoid getting into this particular hobby, though.  I think the ideal baseball collectible is the stack of plastic cups I have on top of my fridge.  They’re ideal because they always change from season to season and stadium to stadium, and every time I buy a five dollar Coke at the ballpark, I add to my collection.

On the subject of this, I saw this movie last night on Netflix called Up for Grabs. It was the story of the 73rd home run ball hit by Barry Bonds in the 2001 series, and the fight between two men who each claimed they caught the ball.  The story in a nutshell is that one guy caught the ball but then apparently dropped it when he was tackled by a horde of people, and this other dude picked it up in the ensuing melee. Of course, both sides disputed this, especially since the ball was going to potentially auction for a few million bucks.  Spoiler alert: a judge ordered them to auction off the ball and split the proceeds.  Fine, except the plaintiff in the lawsuit ran up something like $650,000 of legal fees and essentially made this lawsuit his full-time job.  When the ball got auctioned off almost two years later, it went for about $450,000, which the two guys split (and then had to pay income tax on.)  So yeah, sucks for that guy. There’s a lot more to the story, but it was an entertaining documentary. If you have netflix, give it a look – it’s watchable online (or on your PS3 or Roku box, if you’re now doing that.)

The moral of the story, I think, had to do with the greed and sensationalism of current-day baseball, which isn’t a good thing to have rolling through your head as you’re cruising through eBay listings looking for Rockies collectibles.  So I’ll stick to collecting the plastic cups for now.

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End of another season

God.  Damn.  It.  I am pissed about the way the Rockies lost tonight.  They were winning 4-2 at the top of the 9th, and then a blown save later, the season was over.  I spent most of the game pissed, thinking for sure they blew it, and then in the end of the 8th, a brief turnaround, and now… well, maybe next year.

I am thankful for a few things though:

  • I got to go to two games in Denver, when I initially thought this would be my first Coors Field-less season.
  • I also got to see a win here in Oakland.
  • I got to listen to a ton of games due to MLB at Bat on the iPhone, and all of them from the Denver-local 850 KOA feed.
  • They made it to the postseason.  After much last-second nail-biting wildcard antics, they managed to make it in.
  • They didn’t get swept in the NLDS.  In fact, they were the only team that wasn’t swept in a division series this year.
  • The switch to Jim Tracy not only got them a club-record number of wins, but they also got a bit of attention in the national media with their winning streaks and race to Rocktober.
  • It was good to see Jason Giambi in the purple pinstripes.
  • At least the Red Sox got eliminated.
  • And more salt to the above wound, at least the Yankees are still alive.

And in the “maybe next year” department, it will be good to see Jim Tracy coach a full season, with that initial two months’ of piss-poor coaching removed from the record.  And maybe Jeff Francis will be back, and Aaron Cook will stay with it for longer, and who knows what other talent will be added to the club.  I’m almost certain Garrett Atkins will move on, given his high salary and crappy year; I initially felt bad about that, given the sentimental attachment of him and 2007, but I’m now convinced that could be for the better.

There are still a few more weeks of baseball left, but I’m ready to close the book on 2009.  Way back before the all-star break, I predicted a Yankees-Dodgers WS, and maybe that will still happen.  I wouldn’t mind seeing the Angels make it, but this is the point where I tune out for a few months until the itch starts to develop again, and I start pulling out the baseball books and yearning for the start of April to roll around again…

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