Rockies @ A’s

I got a late start this year, but finally got to my first baseball game of the season. Last night, we made the trek down the East Bay to the Coliseum to see the Rockies play the A’s. So here’s my usual bulleted list recap of the game:

  • This is the first game I’ve been to in Oakland since we moved to the bay area, and my second time visiting the coliseum. (I went last year for an A’s-Phillies game.)
  • I got tickets in the 116 section, which is the first section just to the right of home plate. There was a small section of suite boxes between us and the field, and we were slightly up, but otherwise we were extremely close.
  • We drove, which was no sweat – just a couple of miles down the 880 from our new place. Parking was $15 and no difficulty. The parking lot is set up for football games with three times the attendance, so there was no problem getting a spot.
  • Against better judgment, I wore a Rockies jersey, and was waiting for the sea of tailgaters to beat the shit out of me like it was a post-Iranian election riot. But amazingly enough, nobody gave me shit at all for it.
  • The promotional night was Beer Fest – one of the clubs was open with like 30 different microbreweries, and for $10 you got a free mug and three “tastes” of beer. (Given that a regular beer costs $8, I would guess a “taste” would be like a shot-glass.) All of this started at 4:00, and the game started at 6:00. We didn’t go to the beer fest, given that neither of us drink. See also the thing about getting beaten to a pulp by a drunken Oakland fan.
  • We got there a bit after 4:00 and headed right for our section, to watch batting practice. When we got there, Oakland was batting, but most of the Rockies were sitting in front of the dugout, and doing stretches with those big rubber band resistance things. Our section was pretty damn close to where they were exercising, although not as close as it would be at AT&T park in San Francisco.
  • The tunnel ran right under our section, so if you were standing at the front of it (our seats were 17 rows back), you could watch players go in and out of the clubhouse. Unfortunately, that meant that all of the pro autograph seekers were hogging this space, and they piss me off. It’s impossible to talk to a player before a game, because you’re going to get shut down with a pushy guy holding a binder of crap that’s all going straight to eBay. But I did at least get to see pretty much every player up close, and I got some good pictures.
  • During BP, Troy Tulowitzki came up and talked to a bunch of the people at the rail. He’s a lot taller than he looks on the field, and his voice is a lot deeper than I’d expected. Also, he has one of those stupid lines-shaved-in Brian Bosworth haircuts right now, which is hilarious.
  • The Rockies played their own music during BP, including their unofficial theme song, “Streetcar Symphony” by Rob Thomas. That one song instantly brings me back to every game I saw at Coors Field in 2007, which I absolutely love.
  • The Rockies are on a pretty decent run right now, enough that even SportsCenter (ala “The Red Sox/Yankees and occasionaly maybe another team News Hour”) is even giving them a split-second of coverage. (Although Sabermetrics genius John Kruk said something to the effect of “Well, winning 17 out of 20 games doesn’t really say anything.”) The A’s are currently last in their division, and with the trade deadline looming, they’ll probably start parting out their entire team in short order. I’m glad we got to see them play before the deadline, because in August and beyond, it’s going to be nothing but Jason Giambi and a bunch of fourth-string freshman prospects.
  • There aren’t many people going to A’s games. We watched Friday’s game on TV, and large sections of the stadium were empty. When we sat down before the game, there was virtually nobody in our section. Then a guy came up and had the seat right next to me, and it turned out he was from Colorado and a Rockies fan, so it was good to see him there. He was in the Air Force, and worked tracking space junk on radar. We ended up talking quite a bit during the game, and he was pretty up on his stats, so it was good to have an unofficial scorer for the game.
  • I had my iPhone and the new MLB At Bat app, which lets you listen to the away team’s radio broadcast, but I spent the whole game talking to the guy next to me, so I didn’t listen. I did use it to check a few scoring details during the game though, which was handy.
  • The game got broken open early, with a Rockies home run in each of the first four innings. I had worries that De La Rosa’s pitching would be all over and give them A’s a chance to catch up, but by the 6th inning, it was 11-2. Also, every Rockies player ended up getting a hit by the end of the night.
  • Because the game started off fast, I did not go explore for any food. Sarah went back and got me a bratwurst, which was pretty decent. (Of course, it’s not as good when you don’t get to see them run in a footrace first.)
  • This was the second game where Matt Holliday, the former Rockies MVP, was playing against them for Oakland. He’s not doing a stellar job with the A’s, and probably won’t remain there long. The play that got the biggest number of boos was when he tried to get home from third with two outs on, and got thrown out at the plate by Carlos Gonzalez (who was one of the A’s traded to Colorado for Holliday.)
  • After De La Rosa left the game in the 6th, it looked like they would lightly graze the bullpen and not use a closer. But three bullpen pitchers ended up blowing it, and by the 9th, the score was 11-8.
  • After the 7th inning stretch, the strangest thing happened – this plague of little bugs descended on the stadium, all over the stands. They were these little gnat-like fly things, and they were EVERYWHERE. I looked up, and everyone in the lower deck was madly swatting away at these bugs. I had just bought a diet coke a minute before, and of course it had no lid, so it quickly became a $5.50 soup of bugs.
  • Said plague came while they were playing a Michael Jackson song. The guy in front of us was joking that the TV announcer was probably looking at everyone swatting away bugs and said “look, everyone is dancing to Thriller as a tribute to the late Michael Jackson!”
  • Huston Street came in once it became a save situation and quickly shut down the 9th. But it never should have been that close of a situation.
  • The announced attendance was 18,624, but about half of that left before the 7th inning stretch, and many more left during the 8th inning plague of locusts. We had no problem at all getting out of the parking lot and going home. The only big issue was that I felt like little bugs were crawling all over me when I got home, and had to take some Benadryl to get to sleep. In fact, I *still* feel like bugs are crawling on me.

And that’s the game. We just booked a trip to Denver for a long weekend in August, and we have tickets for two of the Rockies-Cubs games, which should be a lot of fun. I will eventually get around to posting some of the photos, although I am currently in a quandry about where to put photos these days, because is bouncing against its quota, and my accounts on dreamhost, despite having no quota, are not that speedy.

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Rockies @ Giants

I’m in San Francisco right now. I went to my (probably) last baseball game of the year, Rockies versus Giants. This was both a really great game, and a bit of a bummer, especially since the Rockies lost, and it really summarizes the so-so year the team had.

Okay, so I walk to the stadium, and there’s an area at the right field wall that looks out at this small cove and the water, and it’s a nice little place to walk and get some water and nature and bay views in before you go into the game. And this wall has a metal gate where you can go up, even during a game, and look into the field for free. Granted, you’ll have to fight off a thousand other people for a look, but it’s one of the only ways to get a free glimpse of major league baseball without investing in a helicopter.

I went up to the gate, and it was Giants batting practice. But, right against the gate, throwing catch with the bullpen coach, was Jeff Francis. He was literally 20 feet away, throwing and throwing, all of his motions perfectly aligned for each pitch. I stood there for a while and watched, because it was almost hypnotic. Also, at the open bullpen was Jason Hirsh, throwing full-speed to a geared-up catcher. The first thing I noticed about him, is he’s a monster – he’s 6′-8 and 250 pounds, and is pretty fast-moving for his size. He pitched low, and his giant gangly arms hurled the ball like a medieval siege weapon. But he was erratically off target and out of rhythm. He ended last season with a broken leg, then ended this one before it started with a messed up shoulder. Looks like the shoulder is healed, but he’s out of sync. Oh well – the Rockies could use another good pitcher.

For this game, I bought a dugout club ticket, which was $75, but something I probably wouldn’t do again, so it was worth it. At AT&T park, the first level of seats extending up from the field have no concourse behind them. You can go up to the first concourse for a drink, but the concourse behind the first level is actually the cinderblock access tunnel that connects up with laundry rooms, equipment storage, the press room, and the two clubhouses. To alleviate this, there is a large club area hanging off of this concourse, which you can access if you have dugout club tickets. And the first part of the experience: this section has its own entrance, its own line, and it’s own access, so you don’t have to go through the main gates with the rest of the savages.

I got into the club area, and got to work on dinner. The club has a half-dozen restaurant stations where you can buy food and drink. I thought there would be some eclectic choices, but it was pretty basic: burgers, hot dogs, fries, chinese, tacos, BBQ. I got a bratwurst and the signature garlic fries, which are supposed to be a big deal. The first Rockies game I went to this year, I got a bratwurst from the Sandlot brewery, so it seemed like a natural bookend. This one, not that great. I also wasn’t into the garlic fries, and only ate a few of them. I don’t know if it was the garlic, or the fact that I never eat fries. I found a place selling fruit salads and got one of those instead.

When I got done eating, I went toward my seat, and I had to go through one of those tunnels, the kind where players run through when taking the field at football games. When I got through this, the Rockies were taking batting practice. And… I realized I could go right up to the field and watch. Normally, I always wonder who those people were, who sat at the rail and talked to the players. And now, with my magic ticket, that was me. I went right up to the front, and was a dozen feet away from the plate. All of these players that I’d been watching for the last two years were all right there, like the distance from my desk to my fridge, and they were all joking around, warming up, and hanging out.

I noticed a lot of little stuff. Troy Tulowitzki is a lot taller than you’d think. Omar Quintanilla is really short. Matt Holliday doesn’t look as huge as he does on TV. Ian Stewart, who just took over third base from Garrett Atkins, now has grown his hair out and sortof resembles Atkins. Yorvit Torrealba was eating a sucker while he was playing catch. Brad Hawpe spent a lot of time batting, popping up, tuning how hard he could hit and the angle he could catch. Matt Holliday hit a homer high into the bleachers in the deepest part of center field. I thought everyone would congratulate him, slap high fives, or whatever, but nobody even acknowledged it.

The weirdest part of all was that I saw someone playing catch, and realized it was Todd Helton. He’s on the 60-day DL for back problems, but he was still out there in uniform pants and a warm-up jacket, lightly tossing back and forth with Chris Ianetta. And then as he walked up to the cage to talk to Clint Hurdle, he saw me standing there in a Rockies jersey, probably the only one there, and he sort of half-nodded a “hey” to me as he went by. So to see him made it worth my $75. Plus I got a shitload of pictures.

So the game started, and all I can say is that it went slow, totally shut out until the Rockies manufactured a single run. And in the 7th, the whole thing fell apart. The game dragged on from there, and it ended at 4-1 Giants. And then I had a one-mile walk home.

Anyway, that’s the baseball season. Maybe I will get some damn pictures up now.

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Brewers @ Dodgers

This weekend, my sister-in-law was here from Wisconsin, and we all hung out and saw LA and saw Hollywood. And then on Saturday, we went to Chavez Landfill and saw ten innings of Mannywood. Here’s the bulleted list:

  • Aside from the Rockies, the Brewers are one of my favorite teams, and although you miss a lot of the fun when you’re watching them at an away game at Dodger Stadium (sausage race, Bernie Brewer, Miller Park, indoor plumbing, a stadium that doesn’t suck complete shit) it still stood to be a fun time.
  • Our seats were in the Loge level, first base side, just a bit over from the plate, and a couple rows from the top. For Loge seats, they were pretty good. But of course, the rip-off at Dodger Stadium is that you can’t touch seats closer than that for under $200 or so.
  • I had a three taco plate at the Mexican food place. They were those little tiny tacos, which I hate. Tasted okay, but I wanted another nine of them.
  • There was an endless parade of pre-game crap. Anthony Kiedis, of all people, threw out a pitch. Then some random bank employee threw out a pitch. Then a bunch of little kids came out. Then, a group of 25 doctors from a cancer research place came out and all threw first pitches, Then a dozen Dodgers players from the 1990s came out. Then Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon came out with his entire band in center field and played a horrible few songs. Then, 50,000 people wondered aloud, “where the hell am I?”
  • One of the former Dodger has-beens was Tommy Lasorda. I decided if I ever met him, I would try to get him to sign a can of Slim-Fast. It would probably be better to get a signed jar of his spaghetti sauce, but I think they landfilled that shit when the company went bankrupt.
  • There were a LOT of Manny shirts. A couple of people had Manny wigs. I went to the t-shirt booth and they had a ton of stuff, so I bought one of the Mannywood shirts. I don’t know why – maybe it will be a collector’s item when he leaves LA and goes to play for the Yankees, in like 15 seconds from now.
  • When Mr. Ramirez did make his appearance, he got a HUGE reaction. HUGE. I knew he was like the savior to the NL West, but it’s amazing how quick everyone in LA embraced him. It’s also weird to see him in a brand new Dodger blue and white uniform – I’m so used to seeing him in Boston garb.
  • It was good to see the Brewers on the field. The Fresh Prince is still pushing 300, even after the vegetarian diet. I still enjoy watching him play defense and run bases – it’s like watching a stampeding boar.
  • The Dodgers led most of the game, but as far as pulling further ahead, they got robbed by some very astounding catches. Gabe Kapler went over the rail and into the seats to catch what should have been a home run into left field. But there were also some astounding errors on the Brewers’ behalf.
  • The Brewers pulled ahead, and then Manny pulled a sacrifice fly in the 9th to tie it. In the top of the 10th, J.J. Hardy added a run. Then at the last at-bat, Manny struck out, and the game was over, 4-3.
  • I should add that people were LOUD. People have this annoying practice of beating the seats in front of them, and getting way too charged up. Sometimes I think Dodger stadium should stop serving alcohol after like the 3rd inning or something.
  • After the game was a fireworks show, which I think was the first time I’ve been to a game where the home team lost and they had fireworks, but they plan these things out months in advance.
  • Because they were letting people on the field for the fireworks, we ran down there and I walked out onto right field. I’ve never been on the turf of the field of a baseball stadium (just the warning track) but there were so many people, it wasn’t much of a photo op. We started heading back out as the fireworks started, so we could get a jump on traffic.
  • Lots of guys selling bootleg Manny shirts in the parking lot.

Anyway, sorry for the boring report – not working on much sleep here. Once again, photos… someday.

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Mariners @ Angels

I headed on down to Anaheim to see the Angels play the Mariners last night. Here’s the report:

  • I bought these tickets mostly to see two teams I’d never seen, in a stadium I’d never seen. I had almost no vested interest in either team, except maybe a minor interest in the Mariners, because I lived in Seattle for four years and never saw them.
  • The drive to Anaheim took about an hour, and had its moments, but wasn’t horrible. It’s always nostalgic to be back on the I-5, where I spent a good chunk of my life in the mid to late 90s, except on the other end of the country.
  • Parking wasn’t hard, although it’s still weird to me to have to drive to a baseball game and then park. I’m still used to walking.
  • The outside of the stadium has two giant baseball caps suspended above the ground, maybe a hundred feet around. The front entrance to the park is very Disney, decorated in an overly esthetic manner. It’s not the typical brickyard ball park, but it doesn’t look like a generic cookiecutter stadium either.
  • I got inside, and my general impression is that Angels Stadium is a really nice old park. It was built in 1966, which is weird for me, because almost every park I’ve seen was built in the 90s or 00s, except for Yankee Stadium (which feels like it was built right after the Civil War), Dodger Stadium (which feels older than that), and McAffe (which is multi-sport hell.) But, because of rennovations, it doesn’t feel like a 42-year-old park at all.
  • Angels Stadium used to be a multi-sport arena, when the Rams played football here. After they left for St. Louis, they tore out the back wall again, and opened up the view to the mountains.
  • The stadium is not bad for food. There’s a lot of restaurants on the ground concourse, but the big attractions are the food places on the large patios outside of each base line. There are a bunch of kiosks and bigger open-air barbeque places. Add to that the palm trees and nice weather, and it’s a pretty cozy place to hang out before a game.
  • I had seats in section 349, which is the club level, back in front of the foul pole, in the front row, middle of the section. These were $40 seats, which I think weren’t bad for the price. (Although $50 at Coors Field gets you the same seats right at home plate. But at Dodger Stadium, $40 gets you seats in a strip mall five miles from the park.)
  • The club level was lined with doors that were entrances to the suite boxes, alternated with stairways that went down to the club sections. That meant all of the ushers in the section were exceedingly nice and friendly, and you saw a lot of the corporate suit types that were like the meta-ushers, helping out the box owners with finding a good place to service their lear jets or something.
  • As the stadium filled, there were lots of people wearing red. LOTS. It felt like I was back at IU again. One of my regrets about the Rockies is they have such a stupid color (purple) that they can never get people to pull this off.
  • Going into this game, the Mariners were the worst team in baseball, and were something like 30 games behind the Angels in the division. The story of the 2008 Mariners is pretty brutal: starting with a promoted bench coach for manager, an almost-complete coaching staff change, the dismissal of their general manager, another manager fired and replaced with a bench coach. Add a good list of players designated or released, and you have a team with a $117-million dollar payroll that’s facing possible sale in the near future. (And in a town that just lost their NBA basketball franchise to Oklahoma, that’s got to suck for a Seattle sports fan.)
  • And going into this game, the Angels have the best record in baseball, with their nearest divisional rival being over a dozen games back. What’s always weird to me is that the Angels have a huge local following, but they are not a national brand across the country. They’re probably the best baseball team that nobody gives a shit about.
  • Oh, and to add to the lineup, the Angels recently nabbed Mark Teixeira from the Braves, and he has been doing monster work at the plate, driving that lead in the division even higher.
  • The game started, and was boring as hell. Seattle up: three down. Angels up: three down. Seattle up: etc. It was like watching a minor league game. And since the Seattle team was basically the Tacoma AAA team plus Ichiro, it was a minor league game.
  • In the third, the Mariners managed to connect together five singles to drive in three runs. I almost had to check my ticket stub to see if I was at a National League game. It was deathly quiet for the whole half inning, and for some reason, I really started hoping the Mariners would pull it together for the game.
  • Then in the fifth inning, both Juan Rivera and Vlad Guerrero hit monster home runs, bringing in a total of four runs. The park has this fake mountainy thing in center field with fountains on it, and with each home run, they launched off a barrage of fireworks. They also shot them off in the national anthem, and at the end of the game. I guess Disney gets a bulk discount on fireworks.
  • I forgot to mention, the food in the club level wasn’t great. There was a big restaurant/bar/club just over from my section, with a patio, lots of glass, a nice bar, higher-end food. But everything was way out of my calorie range, and expensive. I ended up going to California Pizza Kitchen, which sucked.
  • There was another home run later in the game, I forget who, but more fireworks.
  • With the game down to the last out, Mark T (I can never spell his name) fucked up a completely pedestrian out at first base, by just dropping the ball out of his hand as he went to the base. Everyone was ready for the game to be over and more fireworks, but it was a total putz move. Not like they would have scored four more in a 2-out ninth, but man that sucked.
  • Last out. Final score: 7-3. More fireworks.
  • When I left my car, I noted “it’s right in line with this huge pile of construction dirt outside of the parking lot.” I got outside and realized every parking space looked like it was in line with that pile of dirt, especially at night.
  • The drive was my first long(ish) trip with the Yaris and the ScanGauge. My mileage for the 40-mile drive: 43.5 MPG.

That’s it. I have one more game this Saturday, my 10th of the year, and probably my last. It’s Brewers@Dodgers; I want to see the Brewers win, but I’m pretty sick of seeing the Dodgers, especially at Chavez Landfill.

I will eventually get pictures posted – I am trying to redo all of my baseball pictures into one place, which I will probably finish in 2047.

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Crippling gout and the bookcase swap

I had a dream that I had a crippling case of gout, and that my toes were completely out of alignment – like my pinky toe was at a 90 degree angle outward. When I woke up, my feet were really hurting. I hate when shit like that happens.

There must be a low pressure front moving in. I have four barometers in the house. Two are attached to my ankles and are size 11. The other two are chasing each other around the house like mad. If I want to know if it rains, I check my feet, and then see if the cats are insane that day. Works better than any mercury in a tube.

I finished moving Check it out and let me know if you find anything’s broken. There’s a lot of work to do, and I need to set up the blog and start posting news there.

I have to go to Denver next week. Highs in the low 90s, lows in the upper 50s. It’s bad enough that they are getting militant about carry-ons and luggage and I will have limited room, it’s worse when I have to pack both shorts and a jacket. I also realized last night that every single piece of dress clothes I own does not fit me whatsoever. All of my dress pants are 38s, and now when I wear a 34, it’s loose and needs a belt. I was also buying 2XL shirts, and now I’m right on the verge of going down to L. And 90% of the shirts I have are long-sleeved. I think there’s no way around a trip to Old Navy today to get a couple of shirts and a pair of pants.

I am not excited about a 6:20 AM flight Monday. I am getting excited about going to a game at Coors Field on Tuesday. The Rockies have really slid going into the All-Star break, but they were playing good last night, so maybe they’re over the hump and there will be some good baseball. They are playing the Dodgers though. The only advantage is that the Dodgers are currently a second baseman and two outfielders away from having an entire baseball team on the disabled list. Juan Pierre, Scott Proctor, Brad Penny, Mark Sweeney, Tony Abreu, Rafael Furcal – and Takashi Saito is probably out for the season. Fingers crossed.

I have lots to do on the gas book. It’s going well, but I am scrambling – I hoped to get a draft done by the end of the month, and that’s not looking as well as I thought.

My other project was swapping two of my bookcases, so there’s a shorter one next to my desk. I had this monsterous tall bookcase on that wall, and when I was at my desk, it made the room look darker. Now there’s a smaller one made of light wood there, and it does make it brighter. It really ties together the room. (No wait, that’s a rug.)

OK, off to read about natural gas cars.

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Phillies @ A’s

Hello, still from San Francisco. Things are going well here, although I am still thrown for a loop by the cold. But last night, A met up with us and we went to dinner at some freaky Pan-Asian place. It’s always good to see A, and the food was pretty decent, although I had great paranoia that I would ruin my diet for the rest of the century. When I got home and added it up, I actually should have stacked on another satay or two.

Today, I went to see Oakland host Philly, and as always, you get a nice bulleted list.

  • For the record, I have not previously been to Oakland’s coliseum, and I had never seen the A’s. I saw the Phillies last year at Coors Field twice; once for the infamous tarp incident, and once at Coors for the final game of a 3-game sweep in which the Rockies won the pennant.
  • This is the first game I’ve been to where I’ve used public transportation since a Yankees game I went to in 2006 when I still lived there. I walked down a few blocks to the Powell Street BART, then walked from the train to the stadium on the other end.
  • After riding the NYC subways, the BART is hilarious to the point of absurdity. There’s carpet on the floors, the seats are padded and upholstered and nicer than most plane seats, and nothing smelled of piss. Nobody asked me for money (within the train), and they have digital message boards telling you when the next train is arriving. And cell phones work in the trains. If you magically transported a BART line to New York, it would be destroyed in 17 seconds. I don’t understand how it works here, but it was nice.
  • I wrote in my journal and then read a book, and couldn’t remember the last time I did that on a subway. It was a real throwback.
  • A lot of Oakland reminded me of some Chicagoland stretched-out urban sprawl, but with water and shipping cranes, and that’s not so bad. I always imagined it would have entire city blocks on fire and bodies hanging from lampposts and laying in gutters, but maybe that’s just because of the Raiders.
  • After I got out of the train, I had this weird jog where I had to go down the stairs to the main level, and then go up a set of stairs and over to a huge half-mile long ramp that led to the stadium. I got there at 11:00 for a 12:30 game, so there weren’t any people on the walkway.
  • The McAfee Coliesum is used for both the Raiders and the A’s, so as I walked in, I got all of the usual propaganda for both teams.
  • The will call window is set up so that if you ignore all of the signs and walk about a hundred feet to the right, you are there. If you follow the signs and go left, you have to walk all the way around the entire stadium complex, which is about 47 miles in circumference. Guess which one I did.
  • This was another geriatrics and pediatrics game, and a fleet of buses showed up with summer camp kids, all dressed in identical-colored shirts. And of course, the Taliban could cause as much terror as ten school buses of fourth graders, even if you spotted the jihadders a dozen crates of stinger missiles. As far as the geriatric part, there were more Rascals than an Our Gang marathon. But I mind the old folks a lot more because it’s easier to beat a kid until they shut the fuck up than it is to beat a parapalegic until they can miraculously walk again.
  • There were a lot of Phillies fans. A LOT of Phillies fans.
  • Complaint one about the mixed-use stadium: the concourse looks like a maximum-security prison built to riot-proof specifications in the 1960s. After seeing AT&T Park yesterday and then seeing this, it was a lot like touring Frank Lloyd Wright houses, and then taking a tour of a high-security mental institution built by a county government where a board member had a brother-in-law that owned a concrete plant.
  • My seat was not bad; I was 15 rows up and in the middle of the section immediately to the first base side of the backstop net. These would be seats only available to dugout club members at a lot of parks, but I bought mine for $50 online. I had a pretty excellent view of the game, and if I walked up to the front of the section, I was directly on top of the visitor’s dugout.
  • Complaint two about the mixed-use stadium: the seating is really fucked up. First, things are a lot steeper than they are deep, which is standard for football, but it made things weird. Also, the outfield has two little clips of section at the club level on either side, but no ground seats, and this huge blank spot of no club seats. Then there are two levels of suites above that. The whole thing makes it look like they started with a 14,000-seat minor league field, and then added layer after layer of decks above that to pump it up for football.
  • The only A’s I know are either retired, traded, or dead. If I was playing a video game where I could pick Jason Giambi and Catfish Hunter and Cory Lidle, I would know what was going on, but I didn’t.
  • The national anthem had a flyover with a Coast Guard helicopter, which was weird.
  • There were far more hipster doofuses at the game than I’ve seen anywhere before. I guess if you’re going to be stylishly ironic and get all tatted up and wear an undershirt only and thick glasses, Oakland’s a good place to do that, and the A’s are a good team for you.
  • The game started, and this was very much an AL game, where everything was either a strikeout or a homerun, and the term “manufactured run” draws a blank stare.
  • Complaint three about the mixed-use stadium: as this is a football stadium, they added a shit-ton of seats to make it gigantic, including a giant deck of seats across the outfield at high altitude that increased the capacity to 60,000. The attendance at this game: 17,000. To “alleviate” this, the upper deck seats are all covered with huge vinyl banners with various logos and years of championships in giant letters. But still, when you look across at this gigantic section of 20,000 wall-to-wall seats, it’s pretty depressing.
  • There was an inning when I almost thought they would have a grand slam, but it didn’t happen. Someone did have two home runs. There were a lot of strikeouts. Are there other things that can happen? Maybe they can just flip coins from now on.
  • I do have to say the weather was pretty decent. It touched the 70s, and I was in the uncovered area, so I got some sun. The wildfires have been kicking up a lot of wind and soot, which has been on-and-off screwing up pitching at both parks, but it didn’t bother my eyes or anything.
  • The big screens and scoreboards were football-type, so there was one small video screen, and one Dodgers-style amber monochrome screen, and another set of two on the other side. They weren’t as good as Coors field, but they weren’t as bad as Dodger Stadium. There wasn’t any walkup music, and the announcing was at a minimum. I listened to the game on the local AM, and the announcers were not that colorful, but they did have a lot of stats and history, and talked a lot about the historic Phillies-A’s rivalry when they were both out in PA.
  • The game was FAST – just over two hours. Oakland shut out the Phillies, and scored five.
  • One more complaint about the mixed-use stadium – it was NOT designed for egress. It took forever for the mass of people to slowly leak out of there. I don’t know what would happen if 60,000 drunken Raiders fan were leaving at the same time

So they game was eh, the stadium was not great, but I did have a pretty good time of it anyway. And I’m glad I went, because allegedly the As are getting a new home in four or five years, and I’m still pissed that I never went to Shea Stadium, and now I never will.

Gotta go wash off suntan lotion now.

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It appears I will be in San Francisco next week. I don’t remember, other than A, who does or does not live there these days, so if you do, ping me. I am not sure what I would want to do there, other than maybe go to Alcatraz, and I am not sure you still can. It will be interesting to see the city again. I was in the area in 2006, and before that in 1996. Maybe I should get a map this time.

I just bought a ticket to the A’s-Phillies game next week. I was going to go to a Giants game, but they’re on the road. I really don’t care about the Giants, but I would like to see their new park. I don’t know much about the A’s, and I’ve never seen their stadium, so that crosses two things off my list. And maybe I can catch a park tour at AT&T and see it that way.

I got a fairly okay seat for the game – a couple sections over from the plate, 15 rows up, in an MVP box. $50, plus fees and delivery on a ticket I pick up and convenience charges, so $672.87. I have this other pet peeve about all MLB-related sites – when you fill out their giant form and there is a flashing thing saying “FINISH THIS IN 90 SECONDS YOU DOUCHEBAG” and you finish it and submit, and it bounces back with “ERROR – THE DIGITS IN YOUR PHONE NUMBER MUST BE SPELLED OUT IN LETTERS”, so you hurry to finish it. But meanwhile, all of the checkboxes you cleared for “Put your name on a mailing list and get 50 piece of spam an hour for the rest of your life?” are all RE-CHECKED! And if you don’t catch it, they sign you up for some promotional crap forever. I think they do this on purpose. Just like how the MLB media player page has “save your login” checkboxes, but forces you to log out and log back in every time you listen to something. Fuck!

I went to Home Depot yesterday to get the torx screwdriver. There’s an entire village of Mexicans camped out exactly 100 feet from the entrance, waiting for day labor work. It’s pretty disconcerting – I wonder if any of them get work, or if this is some kind of Grapes of Wrath thing. There is a McDonald’s in the Home Depot, which is also weird. And a quick check showed no Nibco PVC fittings, but plenty of ABS and copper. I don’t know if that ABS is made in Goshen where me and my dad worked. I know the copper isn’t made in Elkhart where I worked, because that plant is long gone. The box labels only have the elkhart corporate address. It’s always funny, because if you look at enough boxes, you will always find a crudely-sketched map of an entire plumbing system freehanded on the back of a box, from a plumber mapping out what he needed to buy.

I’ve got to get moving. I still want to get those widgets going, but they are all insanely stupid looking. I ditched the Amazon one, which seemed to be causing the most problems, though.

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Beavers @ 51s

I went to a minor-league game last night, the Portland Beavers versus the Las Vegas 51s. Here’s my bulleted list synopsis.

  • The 51s play at Cashman Field, a 9300-seat park built in 1983. It’s located in North Las Vegas, just a few minutes north of downtown.
  • I thought the park was way north, so I ended up getting there way too early, and was probably the first person there.
  • It’s a nice little park, very well-kept and modern looking, and resembles a college field in size and general feel.
  • I got my ticket and waited at the gate, as a group of hyperactive t-ball kids quickly drove me insane.
  • The 51s are a Dodgers farm team, the Beavers a Padres team. So wearing a Rockies jersey, and even more, a Torrealba jersey, was a big mistake on my part.
  • Inside the park – there’s no upper deck, other than the radio booths. There’s also no seats other than those on the first and third base line. Past the outfield wall is nothing but desert. There are no bullpens; teams warm up pitchers in a widened area where a warning track would normally be. The whole thing gives an illusion that it’s a very small park, but the field is as big as a regular MLB field.
  • My seat was about four rows up, directly behind the plate. They were $12. Also, they were real seats, and the ushers brought you to your seat.
  • Wandering around, I stopped at this table pimping the new Mike Myers movie, and the woman working there talked to me about the Rockies. It turned out she lived there before, and I should have been able to tell, because she had that leathery tan that made me unable to age her at 20 or 40.
  • The gift store was decent, although they had a lot of Dodgers stuff and not enough 51s stuff. I picked up a t-shirt after arguing whether it would be worth it or not to get a windbreaker or warm-up jacket. Also, the store was air conditioned.
  • The heat – it was a high of 108, which is a temp so hot, that even when the wind picks up, it’s more like standing in front of a blowdryer. The seats under the press box had those water-misting coolers set up, but I did not sit under there. After a while, it slowly cooled off, or maybe I just got used to it. It went from unbearable to pretty bad over the course of the evening.
  • There were only a couple of places for food, so I got two hotdogs.
  • The game began, and I realized I did not know or care about either team, which changes things considerably.
  • I was close enough to clearly hear the umpire’s calls, and hear the ball hit the glove on each pitch, which was cool.
  • Kerwin Danley, the umpire we saw get hit in the throat with a pitch in a Rockies-Dodgers game, was first-base umpire, on a rehab assignment.
  • I can’t even remember the play-by-play much, since I didn’t know anyone. There were some spectacular errors – if you popped it back close to the wall, in a place that any MLB player would catch it, you’d most likely drop it for a base hit, because nobody could field well. Both pitchers were also pitching an incredible number of balls, although there was some speed there.
  • One player – Chip Ambres – managed to hit a home run over the left wall in his first two at-bats. Then someone in our section started yelling “COME ON CHIP! LAY A BUNT DOWN! BE A TEAM PLAYER!” What was weird to me is that this wasn’t a giant stadium, and we were like 30 feet from him, so you know he heard everything people were yelling.
  • Our row won tickets to the aforementioned Mike Myers tickets in a random drawing. Actually, the row in front of us won, but nobody was sitting there.
  • The guy sitting next to me was an umpire for high school and junior college baseball. He knew a lot of the other umpires, and it was also interesting to hear his commentary on “that’s a tough one to call” sorts of things.
  • The mascot came out, “Cosmo”, who looked like a large Jar-Jar Binks in a uniform. When he was in our section, he gave me shit about my Rockies shirt.
  • In the 6th inning, a rally started when a pitcher walked something like ten people in a row, and then they started driving in the people on base. That ultimately meant 13 runs in the inning for Las Vegas, which entitled everyone to a free shrimp cocktail at some shithole casino downtown.
  • The game went downhill from there. Things started so slow, and then got fast at the end. The big thing in AAA is that teams are so mismatched, and that means uneven games.
  • They put me on the “jumbotron” because of my Rockies shirt. I put that in quotes because you can buy a bigger screen than their scoreboard at your local Best Buy.
  • They sold about 2000 tickets, but I think 2/3 of those people left by the 6th. By the 9th, it was absolutely quiet between pitches. At the end of the game, maybe a couple hundred people remained.
  • Final score: 14-8. Playing time was a bit shy of four hours.

OK, I need to find a swimming pool.

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Cardinals @ Dodgers

I think most of the kinks are out of the new journal improvements. They should be largely invisible, but the backend of the system is much simpler, and most of it is now written in PHP. I still have not gone back through the old entries, but I will get there. Another change is that individual entries will no longer have a time on them, just a date. I used to do it this way back in the 90s, mostly so I could write at work without getting busted.

And yes, all of you in the “blogosphere” who are celebrating your one year “blogoversary” – my first entry here was ELEVEN YEARS AGO last month. I think most bloggers were still playing with their Blues Clues toys eleven years ago. (To be fair, I am sure some of them still are.)

We went to another game on Saturday – Cardinals at Dodgers. Sarah and I went with Julie, and here’s the bulleted list:

  • We got to the park with a few minutes to spare, and did a million different things to mentally denote where the car was. “Under the 10 globe, next to the biggest tree, across from the US Bank building on the horizon” and so on.
  • The parking lot “sorters” were completely useless. We wanted to ask where we could park to be close to our section, but anyone we asked either told us to ask someone else, or just screamed “GO GO GO GO GO!” while waving around a flashlight wand.
  • We were at 154 Loge, which is a deck back and slightly back from first base, about 3/4 up. They were OK seats, but these are $50 seats, and would be $30 seats at almost any other park except Fenway or Yankees Stadium.
  • Julie went the night before, and the game was half-rainy and cold all night, then started to pour rain in the last inning. Dodger Stadium is a no-umbrella stadium, and we forgot our other raingear. It was cool and dreary when we got there, so we expected the worst.
  • There were a lot more people in Cardinals gear than I expected. The people sitting next to us were from St. Louis.
  • Brad “I almost killed an umpire” Penny was pitching. He immediately started fucking up, and in the third inning, gave up four runs.
  • I did not listen to the game, because Vin Sculley has gone completely sideways, and not in the fun, drunk grandfather way like Harry Caray. (example. And while we’re at it, go check out
  • I brought a bunch of popcorn, and then ordered a pita plate, which was not as good as the one in San Diego, but I avoided Carl’s Jr. and Dodger Dogs, so I did good.
  • Some douche in the deck above us was dumping food and drink from the balcony, which was hitting about ten rows in front of us, causing some guy to get up and scream at the people. Eventually, one of them was so stupid that they dropped their phone, and the guy grabbed it and started screaming “COME DOWN HERE AND GET IT, YOU FUCK!”. Eventually the cops caught the guy, and the whole section cheered.
  • The Dodgers always do this “match up” video thing where they have one outstanding fact about each team, and they’re getting stupid. Like “Cardinals Fact: Albert Pujols killed a pitcher the other night with a 674 MPH line drive. Dodgers Fact: Dodger Dogs no longer contain trans fats.”
  • After the game was 4-0 for a few innings, it got fairly boring, and most people were more concerned with playing with the beach balls going around the stands.
  • The torture cells in Guantanamo have better bathrooms than Dodger Stadium. Seriously, just have some dignity and piss your pants. Or wear Depends.
  • It got really cold, and we hoped they would not call the game. But it eventually petered out with the Dodgers not scoring, and the Cards not tacking on any more, so 4-0. The Cardinals got a game closer to the Cubs, and the Dodgers dropped a game, which always helps those of us with favorite teams struggling at the bottom of the NL West.
  • We actually found the car and got out of the stadium in record time, which was the real victory.

There’s another ship on Mars, which is pretty freaky. I forget the URL, but there are pictures. It’s on the North Pole, so they are either looking for water or the Martian Santa Claus.

Gotta go celebrate Memorial Day now…

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Cardinals @ Padres

Last night I went to a Cardinals game in San Diego, my first time down there for a game. I have been to San Diego before; I went to a conference for a week in 2000. But aside from the Denny’s by my hotel, all I did there was read books (I guess I did find a Border’s) and I made one trip up to LA for an evening. On this trip, I went with my NY friend and former AITPL contributor Julie, who drove. We also picked up a college friend of hers in Carlsbad for the game. Anyway, here is the beloved bulleted list:

  • We had no traffic problems whatsoever getting there, and made the trip in about two hours, thanks to HOV lanes.
  • The area around the stadium is all entirely new, and exactly resembles the townhouse apartments and condos that have magically appeared around Coors Field in the last few years. It seriously looked like they ordered the same buildings from the same catalog, with the same colors and even some of the same names.
  • I was looking at one apartment building thinking “damn, that looks exactly like our place in Denver”, and then I realized it was on the corner of Market and Park. Our old place was on the corner of Market and Park. And our place overlooked a parking lot used on game day, and so did this.
  • PETCO Park was built in 2004 by HOK Sport, who has designed many of MLB’s parks, including Coors Field. It’s one of those throwback-yet-super-modern designs that are all the big deal in baseball.
  • Things I liked:
    • The park is very integrated into the surrounding area. There’s an Omni hotel that is connected directly to the concourse, and it has its own box for guests. There’s a city park that’s connected to the back part of the concourse. It slopes above the furthest part of the outfield, and for $5, you can sit out there during a game. Also, they saved a hundred-year-old building that was supposed to be demolished (the Western Metal Supply Co.) and restored it to use as offices and a store.
    • There’s a lot of food, and a lot of weird food, like a fresh seafood place.
    • There was “Fielder’s Choice”, a restaurant of just healthy food.
    • The bathrooms were excellent, with honest-to-god full urinals. F the Dodgers and your stupid waterless trough urinals!
    • Good (but not great) scoreboards and signs.
    • The fans were fairly civil (but I didn’t wear Rockies gear.)
    • Parts of the stadium are these weird angular buildings that look like something from Total Recall.
  • Things I really didn’t like:
    • Not a big fan of the Padres.
    • We were in fairly good seats at the top of the field level, and a bit behind third. But our seats partially blocked the scoreboard.
    • I still think Coors Field has the best dimensions and position of stands around the field of any park out there. PETCO is smaller, but it appears splayed out more, and I think that’s because of the illusion of the outfield not being perfectly symmetrical, and dodging around the existing structures and park in center field. It just seems like the close seats are further out from the field; Dodger Stadium is like that, too.
    • There was a really close Giants-Rockies game at the same time, and I spent the entire game glued to the other games scoreboard, which gives you no info but the score and the inning, and it was like watching a clock with only an hour hand. The Rockies lost by one point.
    • I brought my AM radio, but the announcers were fairly horrible. They were both mumblers, and emotionless mumblers at that.
    • They didn’t really have a lot of walk-up music, or at least it wasn’t that loud.
    • The one exception was when Trevor Hoffmann, the closer, came out, they played the start of Hell’s Bells really, really, really loud. I’ve seen him fuck up enough that they shouldn’t make a big deal out of him. It’s like if you tried to film a Beatlemania-type movie about Dick Cheney.
    • There’s a lot of strange Catholic imagery (Padre => Father => Friar.) Their mascot is this weird friar guy, which is even more odd when you see him playing air guitar on the sidelines or whatever other weird shit mascots tend to do. Everything goes along with the friar theme, like Friar Dogs, Friar Fries, etc.
    • Getting from point A to B on the concourse was more involved than it should have been; it wasn’t all on the same level, and there were a ton of zigzag ramps.
  • Not good or bad, just different:
    • There was a lot of nautical themed stuff, like scoreboard graphics of sailboats and piers and fishermen. I think baseball teams should do a lot more of this to make each park bring out the unique aspects of each region, instead of just looking like yet another HOK-designed park.
    • The Padres are HUGE about the military. There were a lot of Navy and Marines folks at the game, although not in uniform. (Sometimes, entire sections are in uniform.) There were a lot of Navy propaganda stations on the concourse, including a big scale model of the aircraft carrier Midway.
    • Traffic was a little clogged getting out of the immediate area, but once we got to I-5, it was open throttle the rest of the way home.
    • They had the camo jerseys, which I wanted to buy, except I don’t like any of the Padres, I don’t want a Padres jersey, I don’t want to spend money, and someone else doesn’t want me to get a camo jersey. Fair enough. I’m saving for that Nolan Ryan throwback jersey anyway.
    • I managed to stay with my diet for the most part, save two regular Cokes at the game. I figured I would go 4000 calories over, but I think it was about 450 over. I’ll go for a long walk today.
    • Cardinals lost. I was indifferent about this one, but Julie is a huge Cards fan and I don’t like the Padres, so I was rooting for them. It’s also good to see Pujols play, unless it’s against the Rockies.

Anyway, I’m going to Cards @ Dodgers on Saturday. Should be fun!

Other news, I have been filling up my iPod with free music, and maybe I will review some of it, or at least provide links. Until then, I need to get some writing done.

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