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:


Baseball 2012

I haven’t been writing any posts about baseball this year.  Reason being, the wheels fell off the Rockies pretty early in the year, and then things just went from bad to worse.  I think I got a few weeks into April before I decided to stop watching, and things got exponentially worse after that.

I don’t know why I still follow the Rockies.  If I had any sense, I’d just jump on the Giants bandwagon, spend twice as much on tickets, and coast into the postseason with no problems.  But I started on this baseball kick when I lived a block from Coors Field, in that magic 2007 season, and now the curse of the whole thing is that I was programmed to like Colorado and hate the Giants and the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks and so on.

Okay, so 2011 ended in a shitstorm, a strong April start for the first damn time, and then the train completely derailed.  In 2009 and 2010, I had the ritual of counting wins and losses and magic numbers, coming out of a movie on a Saturday night and frantically starting up the MLB At Bat app on the iPhone to see if they managed to whittle away another half-game in the standings.  In 2009, they made the wild card; in 2010, there was hope, but they fettered it away.  In 2011, not even close.

Then you enter that period from October to February, where you hope the owners make some changes, dangle some big money out there for the free agents, hunt down some good roster moves with other teams.  Or, in the case of the Rockies’ ownership, it’s more like shopping for used tires in the five-dollar rack behind a shady gas station, picking through the leftovers for a mismatched set with almost enough tread to last you a month or two.  The Rockies almost never spend money on anything big, and this offseason was no different.  They did grab Marco Scutaro to fill in at second base, which seemed like an okay signing.  But the big need was pitching, and they got… Jamie Moyer, who is older than dirt; Jeremy Guthrie, a pop-fly pitcher, which never works out at Coors; and resigned to the fact the rest of the pitching staff would be the various minor-league parts and back-of-rotation pieces they had left over from 2011.

The 2012 injuries have been phenomenal. Here’s a partial list:

  • Jorge De La Rosa tore his arm apart in 2011 and had surgery.  There was talk that he’d be back early in the season; it’s August and after a couple of rough starts and setbacks, he’s just now starting to throw.
  • Juan Nicasio broke his neck last year after he got hit by a comebacker, and miraculously was throwing by spring training and started the season.  He’s now out with a leg injury requiring surgery.
  • Jeremy Guthrie, the #1 pitcher in the rotation, fell off his damn bike on the way to the park and screwed his shoulder.  He came back, had a complete meltdown, and was then pulled out of the rotation and later traded.
  • Jhoulys Chacin hasn’t pitched since May with some nerve inflammation issue.
  • Chris Nelson ended up in the hospital in July with an irregular heartbeat.
  • Jonathan Herrera went on the DL at the same time as Nelson because his arm got infected from his watch.  (Did he buy one of those Ro1ex watches in Chinatown?)
  • Troy Tulowitzki left with a groin injury in May that required season-ending surgery.
  • Christian Friedrich just got shut down for the season with a stress fracture in his back.
  • Jason Giambi’s been out since mid-July with the flu.
  • Todd Helton just had season-ending (and maybe career-ending) surgery on his hip.
  • Add to that a dozen and a half or more trips to the DL for various strains, sprains, and minor problems.

What’s even more laughable is how the ownership and management have treated the problem.  First, the plan going into this year was stupid, this “veteran movement” where a bunch of late-30s/early-40s players got slated for everyday positions.  That alone should have gotten the GM Dan O’Dowd fired and manager Jim Tracy demoted to equipment manager for the way he handled things day-to-day.  But instead, Tracy got an “indefinite contract extension”, and O’Dowd went on and on about how he was the greatest GM in the game.

So, the pitching rotation fell apart.  Only one pitcher (Drew Pomeranz) in the five-man rotation remains.  When everyone got gangrene or anthrax or hoof-and-mouth disease or traded to a minor-league team in Mexico, the powers that be thought it would be awesome to switch to a four-man rotation with a strict pitch count.  That essentially means none of Colorado’s starters will pitch more than 100 innings this year; none of them will be out of the single-digit win range, and what’s left of the bullpen will be majorly overtaxed.  This caused pitching coach Bob Apodaca to cry uncle and quit; he was replaced by “co-coaches”.

The Rockies were neither buyer or sellers at the trade deadline, which was odd.  I didn’t expect them to go hunting for new talent, which they did need, but wouldn’t do much good when you’re 20-some games out of first in your division.  But I also expected them to offload more of their long-term liabilities to get some younger prospects to start rebuilding.  They did trade Scutaro, and inexplicably added Jonathan Sanchez (who then lost three games and… wait for it… moved to the DL.)  But the inaction on O’Dowd’s part was a clear indicator that he thinks everything’s a-ok.

Everyone wants O’Dowd to quit.  And it looked like he would, but then he pulled some half-assed “co-managing” stunt, where he named his assistant the part-time GM or some lame bullshit like that, with him still “overseeing” everything.  It reminds me of when I worked for the university, and there would be these endless re-orgs, but with the same idiots in charge of the same flunkies, just with fancy new acronyms.

And I know running a baseball team’s probably hard work, and probably involves a certain amount of luck and momentum and blah blah blah.  I realize that if you can spend a quarter-billion dollars on salary, everything will be golden, and if you are in a small market, you’ve got to scrape and beg and borrow.  And I know that Coors is hell on pitchers.  But when you have a bunch of Jesus-freaks pushing their “everyone’s a winner” crap and never having the balls to just fire someone or maybe spend a few bucks on some outside talent, this is what you get.

And yet, I’m strangely nostalgic for the bastards.  It’s no fun to watch, and I will only occasionally check a score just to make sure they’re not getting no-hit.  I’m definitely not paying a couple grand to fly out to Denver and watch them drop two or three games to the Cubs or Padres.  And I’m not paying the now-hyperinflated AT&T Park ticket prices to sit in a sea of orange and watch the Rockies lose 16-2 to the Giants.  The season was over in April for me, and I do miss it, but it’s hard to grin and bear it at this point.


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.


20 Facts About Baseball You Didn’t Know

1) PNC Park, home to the Pittsburgh Pirates, was built on what was later identified as an American Indian burial ground belonging to the Shelmikedmus nation. Since its construction, the Pirates have not had a winning season.

2) No player in history at the major league level has had the middle name Xavier.

3) During the filming of his PBS documentary about Baseball, Ken Burns pitched 12 games under the assumed name of George Johnson for the High-A Myrtle Beach Penguins. In 22 innings, he gave up 67 runs and pitched only seven strikes.

4) Hunter S. Thompson worked as an assistant machine operator at the Louisville Slugger factory when he was a teenager.

5) Manny Ramirez did a series of Rolls Royce ads in Japan between the 2007 and 2008 seasons, which can be found on youtube.

6) Under the current MLB Player’s Association Collective Bargaining Agreement, any position player on the 25-man roster of any team is allowed unlimited access to any American Airlines Admiral’s Club lounge in the continental United States.

7) The size of a regulation baseball (between 5″ and 5.25″) was originally set because it was the diameter of an average cow’s kidney.

8) Johnny Damon’s great-grandfather was the first person to buy a Model T Ford in Thailand.

9) Originally proposed names for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays included the Tampa Oranges, St. Petersburg Piers, Florida Mickey Mice, and Pinellas County Sunshines.

10) The Colorado Rockies have an alternate home jersey specifically designed for playing in snow. It has a pullover hood, full-height boots, and a parka top. It’s rarely used because it impedes pitching motion, but they were most famously worn in game 4 of the 2007 NLDS, in which it snowed over 27 inches during 9 innings of play.

11) The MLBPA blocked negotiations in 2004 that aimed at moving the Montreal Expos to Havana, Cuba. The biggest issue was complications with obtaining work visas for players who had previously fled Cuba for the US.

12) Pitcher Randy Johnson is an avid collector of Strawberry Shortcake figurines and memorabilia. In 1998, he paid $650,000 for a rare 1985 Berrykins Strawberry Shortcake doll that once belonged to Kim Jong Il.

13) There is no specific rule banning the use of human-animal hybrids as baseball players, although it’s rumored that the owners collectively came to a gentleman’s agreement limiting their use during the 2006 off-season owners’ meeting.

14) The 2010 version of the MLB At Bat app for the iPhone contains a number of hidden easter eggs, including a hardcore porn viewer available during the 7th inning stretch.

15) Cracker Jack purchased at Giants games at AT&T Park does not contain any peanuts and is manufactured at an alternate facility that does not process peanuts, in accordance to San Francisco peanut allergy laws.  Also, when singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the 7th inning stretch, they change the line “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack” to “Buy me some tofu and Cracker Jack.”

16) In 1986, George Steinbrenner explored the possibility of a ban on facial hair for all fans attending games at Yankees Stadium, but his legal staff eventually convinced him this would not be feasible.

17) Janis Joplin’s younger brother Mike was the bullpen catcher for the Houston Astros from 1971-1973.

18) Billy Martin was the celebrity endorser for Excalibur crossbows in 1981.

19) There have only been two times in baseball history where a position player who was pitching was hit by a pitch during an at-bat, had the game interrupted before they took first base, and then appeared pitching for the opposing team during the makeup game due to a trade in the time between games.  This is the only situation in which a player other than a pitcher can have their own walk credited against them.

20) After becoming a vegetarian, Prince Fielder killed a goose with a line drive at a road game against the Florida Marlins, and refused to eat the dead bird.  This was the first time a player has killed a bird during play and not eaten the carcass, which is a secret tradition held among most omnivorous players.  This dates back to an infamous incident at Bennett Park in 1911 when Ty Cobb killed a homeless man with a baseball bat and ate his left arm during the intermission between two games of a doubleheader against the White Sox.


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.

9 Tips on Surviving Your Fantasy Baseball Draft

Forget Libya.  Forget work.  And forget anything you normally ignore, like family, friends, or the federal agents who have been sitting outside your house in an unmarked Crown Vic for two weeks. It’s time for all of us hardcore baseball fans to become obnoxious assholes and statistics wonks and get ready for The Draft.  Pitchers and catchers have reported to spring training; every lard-assed 5′-11, 330-pound designated hitter has declared that they lost between 30 and 50 pounds this off-season, which drops their body mass index from morbidly obese to obese.  It will only be a matter of time before you are eating $8 hot dogs and drinking $10 beers (unless you are a Phillies fan, in which case you will be vomiting $8 hot dogs and $10 beers onto the kid sitting in front of you.)

You have only matter of weeks to spend untold amounts on every Bill James-related annual book of figures and memorize a decade or more of two dozen statistics for a thousand players (minus the 40-man roster for the Pirates, because seriously, you aren’t going to pick a single one of those fuckers, especially when they’re playing for Clint “every plate appearance is a bunt opportunity” Hurdle.)  Time to try to remember how to calculate the career park-adjusted average cup adjustments per plate appearance (CPAACAP) and why it’s important when picking your second-string utility players.  And don’t forget you’ll need to go to all of the baseball reference sites to argue if MLB rule 7.08 (a) (1) applies if a batter reaches first base and then gets abducted by aliens, which would obviously skew a century of statistics on baserunning.

To some of us, the fantasy baseball draft is more important than Jesus, as it should be.  Because if you’re right about Jesus and the second coming and you’re one of the 16,000 who goes to heaven, it doesn’t mean shit if you aren’t able to rub it in the faces of your friends who get left behind.  Most of the appeal of fantasy baseball, aside from the ability to burn man-years of work at your desk while appearing to actually do work, is its power to humiliate and denigrate your peers when you win a bullshit statistical category like steals or saves by stringing together a bunch of has-been bench players who barely made the team in Kansas City, while your friend who got A-Rod in the first round of the draft gets to mope through the first two months of the season while he is benched for ‘fatigue’.  This is why it’s important to get the edge, to figure out ways to dominate the competition, and how to ridicule your friends by taunting them with pictures of multimillion dollar a-list players with genitals crudely sketched near their mouths and/or anuses in Microsoft Paint.

I’ll cut to the chase.  Here are a few things to keep in mind as you get ready for the draft.

  1. It’s important to remember that while MLB players are scrutinized with constant drug tests that can fire up a false positive if a fan in a five dollar bleacher seat happened to take a cold medication last winter, it’s completely legal for fantasy baseball managers to imbibe in any sort of legal or illegal theraputic or recreational drugs.  There are a whole new breed of powerful nootropic pharmaceuticals available over the internet, although garden-variety street hallucinogenics can do wonders for your memory retention.
  2. If your league’s software offers an auto-draft option that populates your roster based on the picks of every other person using the software, do not use it.  Auto-draft is for pussies and cowards.  You’re also basing your picks on what the majority picks, which is a lot like saying “I’m totally fine with George W. Bush serving another five terms, as long as a majority of mouth-breathers and idiots can agree on it, too.”
  3. Use all of the time allotted for your picks.  For example, if your software allows you two and a half minutes to pick, even if you have the name of a player right in front of you and it only takes a single mouse click to add them, wait until 2:29 has elapsed on the clock.  This makes it much more of a urine retention showdown for the other players, especially if you’re drinking.  (I’m assuming you’re planning on either wearing a catheter or adult incontinence undergarment, which is what all good pro gamblers use when trying to wait out lesser-bladdered players at a casino table.)
  4. Most draft strategies have to do with filling your hitting positions first, then moving on to pitching.  Also, most so-called experts in the field will advise against picking closing pitchers until the end of the draft.  This means it’s typically very easy to fill all of your pitching spots with all of the best closers in the sport at the very start of the draft.  This kind of hoarding won’t help you in offense, but it means nobody else will get a closer, and you’ll be able to deal.
  5. Just like it’s possible for certain AL East teams to buy World Series wins, it’s completely possible for you to buy a fantasy baseball victory.  I was in a league that strictly prohibited monetary bribes, but found a loophole that enabled me to have both Cy Young winning pitchers and an all-Silver Slugger offense, simply by giving away 23 iPads during the course of the season.
  6. If you are in a league in which you don’t know the other players in real life and your main tactic is violence and intimidation, make sure your user ID is not linked in any way to your physical mailing address.  There’s nothing worse than threatening every other owner and then waking up to flaming bags of shit on your doorstep for the next three months.
  7. I publish a weekly newsletter for fantasy players that grades and orders each player’s propensity for going apeshit insane and losing games due to drug use, parole violations, Guitar Hero-related injuries, or DUIs.  It’s a must-have for planning ahead during the season.  Contact me for more details.
  8. For internet-based drafts, it’s absolutely imperative to have a backup internet connection and a UPS or backup generator, in case of any loss of connectivity.  I typically have a second OC-768 Optical Carrier connection installed the week before a draft to ensure I have a constant 39,813.12 Mbit/s connection to all of the statistics, video, and pornography I might need during a draft.
  9. Be prepared to ditch any planned strategy at a moment’s notice and blindly grab every player based on maybe hearing their name once on SportsCenter.  Even the best planned wars involve a complete breakdown in command.

Hopefully, these tips will help you form an iron-clad strategy for survival.  Let me know of any other strategies you may have developed, and I’ll see you on opening day.


I’m a baseball photographer and didn’t know it

I did not realize this until today (when I was googling my own name), but a bunch of the baseball pictures I have posted on flickr (i.e. over here) are being used by a bunch of wikipedia articles.  In fact, several of them are the main image used in the article, which I think is pretty damn cool.  And I was not the person who did this – I just posted them to flickr, set the license to Creative Commons, and forgot all about it; other people found the pictures, cropped them, uploaded them, and put them on wikipedia.

If you go here, you can see all of them that have been uploaded.

Not all of them uploaded are used in articles.  Here are articles that use my images:

With the exception of the first three, all of the pictures I took were used as the top image for the page.  Most of these were taken with my DSLR.  But the Josh Fogg picture was from my old Fuji, and was taken at the very first Rockies game I ever went to, in 2007.  (They won against the Astros.)  And the Tomo Ohka picture, which is pretty horrible, was taken at my first baseball game ever.  (Astros at Brewers in 2006, with the Brewers winning.)

Anyway, these will probably all get edited and replaced at some point, probably in the near future.  But it’s great and a bit humbling to see my work show up somewhere else.


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.


Weekend with Bernie (the Brewer)

Last night I booked the big annual pilgrimage to Denver to catch some Rockies baseball at Coors Field.  We’ll be going August 12-15th, to catch two of the games in the series against the Brewers, which should be awesome.  We’re staying at the Warwick again, which was a pretty decent place, although it’s a little weird staying in an area right by our old default grocery store, our old default Chinese restaurant, our old default Mexican restaurant, and so on.  I mean, it’s weird in general to be staying in a city where I used to live, and I always get weird, conflicted thoughts when I’m in Denver.  It’s usually stuff along the lines of “it would have been really great to stay here, IF…”, with the if part having to do with easy-to-attain stuff (if I found a better job, if Sarah found a better job, if we bought a cool house, if we scheduled more vacations to beat the worst of the weather and to break up the various ruts), and the impossible stuff (if there was an ocean nearby, if I wasn’t floored by allergies, if all of the rednecks packed up and moved to Wyoming and left behind all of the cool people.)

It will be cool to go back, though.  And the baseball part of it – the Rockies are doing well right now.  And I bought the most incredible tickets.  On Friday night, we’re up in club level (239, I think).  But on Saturday night, I bought Coors Clubhouse seats on StubHub.  These are the seats immediately behind home plate, five rows back.  That’s the little “special” section ahead of the field-level general seating, next to the tunnel entrance to the clubhouse areas.  It’s the seats you see when you watch the game on TV, and you’re closer to home plate than the pitcher is.  Also, you go back that little tunnel and there is a private restaurant with a buffet set up, and the whole thing is included in the ticket price.  And the club is air-conditioned.  And the seats are nicer.  And I paid an insane price for these seats, so much that I can’t actually admit how much they cost, except that I think my World Series tickets were cheaper.  (And if you really need to know, I think I have a picture of my WS tickets on my flickr page.)

I am also very excited to bring the new camera rig with me on this trip.  I plan on taking two and a half million pictures while I’m there.  I think I need to plan some other non-Coors side trip while I’m in town to get out and get some good snaps.

I think we’re talking about also booking a long weekend in September or October to go to Vancouver.  Sarah went there for work recently and only got like ten seconds to see the city, but she really liked it.  I drove up there in maybe 1995, but actually didn’t even get out of the car.  Back then, I had a serious On the Road obsession, and spent many late nights with my Rand McNally atlas planning some giant voyage from Seattle to Alaska, trying to calculate how long I’d have to drive nonstop in my Ford Escort to get to the 49th state.  You think Alaska’s like right next to Washington, like you just take a little jog through Canada and you’re there.  But it’s seriously like a 2300 mile drive just to get to Anchorage, which is like two days of constant driving on tiny, shitty, unmaintained two-lane roads.  I also spent almost every weekend thinking about pointing the car north and going to Vancouver.  And several times, I got on I-5, loaded up some tunes in the tape player, and headed north, only to get bored of the whole thing and turn around in like Everett or Mountlake Terrace or Northgate Mall or an exit north of my house.

But one time, I actually did get up there.  I hadn’t eaten breakfast or lunch, and drove straight up on a beautiful sunny Sunday and crossed the border and ended up in Hollywood North.  And I circled around, and listened to some local radio station, and thought it would be awesome if I found some X-Files film shoot or ran into Gillian Anderson at some cafe.  And I was starving and wanted to stop to eat.  And I had to pee.  And I couldn’t figure out what neighborhood was what and where to park, so I just said fuck it and turned around and drove back home.

And here’s the funny part.  I get to customs, and of course they are huge pricks.  I mean, here’s a guy in a new car, nobody with him, been in the country for an hour, and no reason to be there.  Here is the conversation with the customs dude:

Him: “So what are you doing in Canada?”

Me: “Not much.  Just driving around.”

Him: “Just driving around?”

Me: “Yeah, beautiful day, sunny out, nice Sunday drive, you know?”

Him: “Where were you born?”

Me: “Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota”

Him: “You took a Sunday drive from North Dakota to Vancouver?”  (Note: I’ve handed him a Washington license with a Seattle address on it, and my car is plated and registered in Washington.)

Me: “No, I live in Seattle.”

Him: “Where do you work?”

Me: “Spry.  A division of Compuserve.”

(brief pause, look of stupidity.)

Me: “It’s an internet company.”

Him: “Wait are you one of those guys that posts instructions on how to make bombs on the internet?”

Me: “umm….  no?”

Him: “Pull over to bay 1, we need to search your car.”

(Spend the next 20 minutes as four guys dismantle my hatchback trunk, look under my car with mirrors on sticks, pop the hood, and have two dogs sniff every inch of my car.)

Other good news on the Rockies front: Sarah’s group at work got the box at AT&T Park again at the end of August, and it happens to be during the Rockies series there, so I will get to see them again in San Francisco, this time from a suite.  There are only two issues: it’s a Tuesday night game, so I’ll need to hustle to get from Palo Alto after work.  The other problem is what to wear – I probably can’t show up in the suite wearing head-to-toe Colorado gear.  (Didn’t they do a Seinfeld about that?  Also, do you remember a time in our cultural history when almost any event was coupled with the rhetorical question “didn’t they do a Seinfeld about that?”)



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: