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Cardinals-Giants

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

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

Cardinals-Giants 4/25/10

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Opening Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Baseball pictures

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

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jkonrath/collections/72157623497422165/

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

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

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A tale of two balls

…baseballs, I mean.  Calm down.

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

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

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

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A final coda to the season

Oh yeah, I have not updated since the end of baseball season.  People keep commenting about the Yankees buying the World Series, because it’s great to hate the Yankees.  My general opinion on that is, “eh.”  It’s no secret teams with high payrolls have more success, except the Mets have the second-highest payroll and 2009 didn’t work out so well for them (24th place in win/loss); the Cubs threw down about $135 big, third in payroll size, and finished like 7th in a 5-team division.  (OK, it was 16th of 30) The Marlins were dead last in payroll and almost won a wildcard; the Mariners shed almost $20 million, but they still spent more money than the Phillies did to win the World Series in 2008.  Houston is in the top ten money served, but finished 24th.  And my beloved Rockies just barely made the top twenty in the salary department, but were sixth place overall. So more payroll means more success, except when it doesn’t.

I’m pretty neutral about the whole Yankees hate thing, except for the fact that I’m a fan of whoever is playing the Red Sox, and that makes me somewhat happy they were able to win.  But I only passively watched the games.  It seems like it was months ago that the Rockies lost, and I’m starting to get the itch, wishing I was back at Coors Field with AM radio in ear, and a bag of Cracker Jacks in my lap.  I think this will be a tough year, hot stove-wise, since a lot of my favorites from the 2007 series may be going elsewhere.  (Hawpe, Atkins, Torrealba) and some of the big weapons of this year will also wander elsewhere (Beimel, Giambi, Betancourt).  Hopefully, the owners will lock down some good names for 2010.  And hopefully, I’ll get at least one weekend at altitude to see a few games.

Until then – winter ball?  I don’t think the iPhone has an app for that…

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End of another season

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

I am thankful for a few things though:

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

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

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

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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 rumored.com 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 to myself “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.