Wednesday, June 30, 2004


There goes the smuggling operation

From the "Returning to the United States" portion of AAA's "U.S.-Canada Border Information" handout: "Articles considered detrimental to the general welfare of the United States are prohibited entry. These include narcotics and dangerous drugs, drug paraphernalia, obscene articles and publications, seditious or treasonable matter, lottery tickets, hazardous articles (e.g. fireworks, dangerous toys, toxic or poisonous substances) and switchblade knives."

Lottery tickets are detrimental to the general welfare of the United States? Have the various states been notified of this fact? Many of them seem to be depending on the sale of lottery tickets for a major portion of their budgets. (Hmm, maybe they specifically mean Canadian lottery tickets are detrimental to the general welfare of the United States.)

I guess this means we won't be able to blow any remaining Canadian cash on lottery tickets near the border. Guess we'll instead have to stock up on candy that's not available in the U.S., including Nestle Smarties and Aero bars. (Because we'll be in Canada less than 48 hours, we'll be able to bring back up to $400 worth of candy, or anything other than lottery tickets. If we wind with anywhere near $400 worth of Canadian money with which to buy candy, it will either mean an ATM went crazy somewhere or we were surprisingly successful buskers.)

Original comments...

Levi: Jim, if you buy anything in Canadia, the terrorists win.

maura: you can buy aero bars at the deli around the corner from my apartment.

Jim: Along with poutine, Kraft Dinner, caffeine-free Mountain Dew, and Anne Murray CDs?

(Yes, yes, I know Kraft Dinner is readily available in the U.S. under the name Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, or, if you prefer, Cheese and Macaroni. Leave it to the Canadians to just assume that dinner will involve macaroni and cheese.)

Levi: Also, $400 Canadian is equal to about $.28-$.35 American, depending on the prevailing exchange rates. We just might end up with that much money.

Jason: Don't forget to pick up some ketchup-flavored potato chips.

On second thought, I think you've tried them before, so, forget it, after all.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2004


Seligian Shenanigans

The Washington Post just wrapped up a series on how DC or Northern Virginia is about to be the newest area to be screwed over by Major League Baseball. After the All-Star Game, Bud Selig is going to announce where he's going to plunk down the team he stole from Montreal.

The series is in three parts. The first looks at the remarkably shady dealings that brought us Miller Park. I knew the dealings for that stadium reeked of corruption, but the Post's writers get all the details in order, and it's even worse than I thought.

The second looks at the remarkably shady dealings that brought MLB ownership of the Expos.

And the third looks at the shady dealings still to come, as Selig and his cronies arrive to loot the local treasuries of the DC area to the tune of around $350-400 million.

These articles are some of the first mainstream articles I've seen to argue strenously against Selig and his stadium-building boom. They're well-researched and well-written, and if they don't make you mad about the tax money being funneled into the pockets of billionaires, then maybe you should go here. The other thing this article does is make me more impressed with Peter Magowan of the Giants and the Cardinals ownership group. Magowan built the first privately funded stadium since Dodger Stadium (Which, it's important to remember, was built on land that was basically given to the O'Malleys after the low-income people living there were booted.); the Cardinals ownership is trying to do the same, getting some assistance, but not much.

The Post requires you to register, but I bet you all can figure out what to do.

Original comments...

Levi: This doesn't belong here, but I liked it so much that I had to put it somewhere. From E.J. Dionne, "The plural of anecdote is not data."

He's using the statement as a clause to introduce a bunch of anecdotes that he's using kind of like data, but it's still a succinct, sharp way to pinpoint what's wrong with reasoning from anecdotes.

Steve: Thanks alot, Levi. Just when I've really been enjoying this baseball season and the tight divisional races you go and dig this up. Grrrrr.

Well back at ya! How about that little league blooper that lost the game for the Cardinals last night? And my grandma can throw harder than Matt Morris.

Levi: Fortunately for my soul, I wasn't able to see the game last night, and by the time the radio broadcast came in, all I heard was Mike Shannon saying, "Totals and highlights in a moment."

I think that probably should have been "highlight," since Suppan's pitching seems to have been the only one.

But we're back at 'em tonight. And how many times--apologies to Toby--can the Pirates beat you, really?

Jason: If any other business were run like Major League Baseball, it would be bankrupt and OUT of business.

Levi: Like will soon be the case with the NHL, which seems to be run kind of like MLB, but with worse hair.

Steve: "And how many times--apologies to Toby--can the Pirates beat you, really?"

Apparently at least three times.....

Levi: Thank god tomorrow's an off day. This team sounds like it badly needs a day off.

And John Mabry might have had the worst day ever. He hit into two double plays, left ten men on, and managed to make six outs if you include the DP outs. Poor guy.

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Sunday, June 27, 2004


There are no longer any tentative items on the itinerary

The Triptik arrived from AAA. Actually, it's a 3-volume Triptik because of how many pages they had to try to stuff into it, including a full-page explanation of how much the toll is on the Tappan Zee Bridge, even though we're traveling in the toll-free direction.

I've changed the driving times on the itinerary to reflect what the Triptik claims, and added the distances. The total distance, which I didn't list on the itinerary, is calculated by them to be 3259 miles. Some say that's a long way to go for a few baseball games. Others say it's not long enough. (Should be interesting to see what the actual mileage ends up being.)

I have also made reservations for the final two hotels. In Detroit, we will be staying at the Holiday Inn Express downtown, which is half a mile from Comerica Park (and I'm told that downtown Detroit is reasonably safe to walk through at night).

In beautiful Galesburg, Illinois, the four of us will be staying at the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson, which I guess is named for Gordon Jump's character Arthur Carlson on "WKRP in Cincinnati." A suite wasn't too much more expensive than a room, so I got one of those, which is supposed to have three beds and should keep people from tripping over each other. I assume Levi and Stacey don't have a problem sharing a bed.

This is all reflected on the itinerary, of course.

Original comments...

Levi: For some reason, Thursday the 26th is missing from the itinerary. That means no Boston.

I know Jim's incapable of making a mistake, so I assume this is the fault of the Internet.

Jim: Are you familiar with "Brigadoon"? Boston's like that, except that instead of regularly disappearing for 1,000 years, it occasionally disappears for a few hours. Thats's why it's taking so long for them to finish the Big Dig.

Jason: Hopefully today's earthquake hasn't destroyed any of Galesburg's accommodations.

Dr. Otto Octavius: If the earthquake hasn't, then I certainly will!

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Saturday, June 26, 2004


Here's something you don't see every century

Yes, I know I claimed I wasn't going to post any more Devil Rays updates until they put another long winning streak together, but Maura practically ordered me to post this...

At one point this season, the Rays were 18 games under .500. Now they're 1 game over .500.

As of Friday night, they became the first team to claw their way back up to .500 after being 18 under since the 1899 Louisville Colonels.

Original comments...

maura: this run has also inspired some excellent google searches.

Jim: No wonder the Rays are doing so well; Lou Piniella seems to have gone insane. A potential bikini wax is supposed to motivate the team? And between him and Tony La Russa, that's too many people from Tampa that I've been forced to picture nude recently (yes, I know La Russa wasn't the naked one in the Steve Kline incident, but that's still a little too close for comfort). The only people from Tampa who I want to think about being naked are Alesha Oreskovich (Playboy's Miss June 1993) and both Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and Laura Harring's characters in "The Punisher." I don't even enjoy picturing myself nude.

Jason: If you check the 2nd link from Maura's google search, you might find some pics of me floating around there.

Jim: Jason's secret other life revealed!

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Thursday, June 24, 2004



All right, last Devil Rays update for now, at least until their new winning streak reaches double digits.

I always enjoy how two teams can play completely different games on consecutive days: 2-1 in 10 innings on Wednesday, and then 19-13 on Thursday. So I hope we see examples of both types on our trip.

Original comments...

Jason: Tampa Bay pitcher Dewon Brazelton had a no-hitter going until the 8th in the Devil Rays' 2-0 win over Florida. It's their 12th straight interleague win.

Maybe they should trade places with the Marlins.



"That strike zone [stunk]"

The Cardinals and Cubs played a wild game in St. Louis last night, a game which the Cardinals won 10-9, scoring the winning run on a passed ball by catcher Paul Bako, who entered the game in the 9th after starting catcher Michael Barrett and relief pitcher Kent Mercker were thrown out for arguing about the poorly-called strike zone. Midway through that inning, when Mercker didn't get the call on what should clearly have been an inning-ending third strike to Reggie Sanders, I had thought to myself, "Mercker's going to get thrown out at the end of this inning." Lo and behold, Mercker got thumbed after he shouted "Fuck you!" while striding off the mound, followed immediately by Barrett's shouting, "That's bullshit!" as he threw down his mask, then repeating it for emphasis as he threw down his glove. The second thumb flew.

They were right. Umpire Sam Holbrook's strike zone was bullshit. More than any game I can remember since the days of Eric Gregg, the umpire made this game what it was. His strike zone managed to be both tiny and inconsistent. Fortunately, the Cardinals got the best of it.

But there was much, much more to the game than that:

1) The Cubs made three errors. I like to think that is karmic payback for Chip Carey's constant harping on the Cubs low error totals, which leads him to say "The Cubs' defense is far and away the best in the league." And a fantastic play by Scott Rolen to open the ninth was further payback for Chip's statement Monday that "Sure, Rolen may be slightly outhitting Aramis Ramirez, but Ramirez is having the better year defensively, with X errors to Rolen's Y errors." Ramirez has played surprisingly strong defense this year, but the difference between him and Rolen is still like the difference between a speech by Bush and a speech by Clinton.

2) The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a story today about something I didn't catch, though apparently it was shown on the broadcast. Steve Kline warmed up in the 6th, but when he wasn't summoned to pitch, he flipped the bird at Tony LaRussa. According to the story, when informed of this post-game, LaRussa got steamed and broke off the press conference, saying "Give me two minutes and I'll be standing on top of his chest kicking the (bleep) out of him."

We all have a pretty good idea what LaRussa said that is being bleeped. But what about what Kline said later: "If he doesn't want me to get mad, then don't (lead me on)."

I don't know (Toby, Scott, Baggarly, Dan: care to weigh in?) exactly what the policies at most papers are on when and how to elide or replace swear words in quotes, but I've always enjoyed reading the results. The one rule I've always wished would be followed in those situations, though, is this: the person reading, if a mentally competent adult, ought to be able to read the sentence and,without missing a beat, replace the replacement with the original swear word. Kline's statement doesn't allow for that. "(lead me on)"? What, I wondered, could everyone's favorite nasty-hatted nutcase have said?

Fortunately for readers of BRPA2004, the folks at Redbird Nation--though they don't give a source for their information--have the answer. And it's a good one. According to them, Steve Kline said: "If he doesn't want me to get mad, then don't dry hump me."

But who cares about a little clubhouse strife after a win like that?

Oh, and while we're on the subject of newspapers printing swear words, you all might enjoy this article from the Guardian. Not only is it full of swear words, abuse (personal and general), and absurdity, it also includes accusations of Nazism!

Original comments...

Luke: Everything I know about this game I learned from the ESPN running game update, so I didn't catch all the machinations, but I hope dusty sits Barrett and Bako down and reminds them how important it is for them to stay in the game when there are only two catchers on the roster. In this case, maybe Barrett catches that pass ball, and maybe Hollandsworth is available to bring his .600 pinch-hitting average to the catcher's spot with two out in the ninth.

2. Similar words -- "If you don't want me to get mad, then don't dry hump me." -- came up in my last performance review, too.

Sports departments I think do the most -- and the most creative -- ellisions, because of the foul-mouthed nature of their sources and because sports enjoys the least oversight from the style and policy czars at a given paper. You'll often see things like "He (upset me)" instead of "He pissed me off," "that (jerk)" instead of "that asshole" or "(Selig)" instead of "lying motherfucker."

Levi: I'm sorry, Luke. I should have included you in my list of journalists who might answer my question. I am astonished at how many journalists we have as readers. What are we, Romanesko?

Jim: Why can't the St. Louis Post-Dispatch be more like the Guardian? "Mr Kline's mention of dry humping last night is not the first time he has shown an interest in simulated sexual activity."

But I bet the Guardian doesn't have Weatherbird!

Steve: Where to start deconstructing these outbursts.... Sounds like someone is wearing his stirrups a little too tight. The implication of Kline's remarks is that if Tony LaRussa had indeed humped him, he wouldn't have been angry. Apparently, getting into the game involves a full on "wet" hump. And who has the blue-balls Kline or LaRussa? These men are bringing new resonance to the term "fantasy baseball." Apologies to those would rather see something along the lines of [sexual-frustration] instead of the more colorful term. This also reminds me of an incident last year over in the NFL where Lions GM Matt Millen called former Lion receiver Johnnie Morton a "faggot." The only difference is that I saw the derogatory remark printed in more than a few places.

Levi: The last bit of the Post-Dispatch article is also great. Kline, asked about the confrontation--which, remember, took place in the shower, so you have to picture LaRussa in uniform, Kline nude save for his nasty hat--said, "He yelled at me like he usually does. Hopefully, he'll get over it in about three weeks and we can move on."

Levi: Last thought on this topic. I think.

Is this not easily the best naked man/not naked man confrontation we've heard about since Dale "The Demon" Torborg chased Antonio "El Pulpo" Alfonseca down a hallway and into a broom closet?

Toby: Levi, Sorry, I've been out of the loop for a couple of days.

I was watching the Midwest Sports Report live after that game Thursday night and heard LaRussa's comments live on the air. Fox Sports Midwest suddenly cut back to the anchors after he said "shit" and the anchorwoman--with a giant grin on her face--apologized to the viewers.

As far as our little town paper, I don't know if we have a policy for disguising curse words - I would say it would probably be right along the line of what the Post-Dispatch did, though,

That article from the Guardian reminded me of a recent column on that got Hunter S. Thompson in some trouble. He wrote something to the effect that the prison abuse by American captors in Iraq was worse than anything the Nazis did. As you might expect, that didn't go over very well with many people.

The reason I bring that story up is that I have been desperately searching for a DVD copy of "Where the Buffalo Roam," the movie where Bill Murray portrays HST. I have been watching it on my 20-year-old VHS copy, but would like to get it on DVD. The problem is it is out of print and goes for around $40 or $50 on ebay. I don't remember you ever mentioning it, but I would peg you as being a Hunter S. Thompson fan, Levi, so I thought you might have some insight on where I can get a DVD copy without having to pay $40 or $50.

Levi: Toby-- I don't know where you can get that DVD, but I'll do some looking around and see if I can figure out. I do remember once seeing part of Where the Buffalo Roam on TV, not knowing it as about HST, and being really confused until I figured it out. Bill Murray really was born to play that role.

Oh, and one last note on dry humping: as some of you know, someone some of us know (That part of the sentence was a lot of fun to write!) introduced us to a term her set in high school used to use for dry humping. They called it "Doing simulation." After a date, a girl would ask another, "Did you do simulation?"

The Post-Dispatch could have gone with, "If he doesn't want me to get mad, then don't [do simulation]."

Luke: Puts Kerry Wood's [simulated] games in a whole new light.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2004


The big letdown

So much for the Devil Rays' win streak. If there's any consolation, it's that they didn't go out quietly, since it took the Blue Jays 10 innings to win tonight's game.

Tomorrow, the new streak starts!

Original comments...

thatbob: Well, no. Technically the new streak started the night of the loss. Perhaps tomorrow (ie. today) the streak will continue, 2L?

Jim: No, I meant that a new winning streak would start tomorrow. And it did!

thatbob: Oh.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2004



I guess the Devil Rays can continue their winning ways, even against the AL! Or maybe the problem is too many zombies in the Blue Jay lineup.

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On one of my favorite non-baseball topics

Some sharp person at McSweeney's has answered all of those lingering questions we've all had about
what we could expect were we to add a zombie to our fantasy baseball team. In doing so, he gives a fairly good overview of what a zombie would bring to (or take from (hint: it's gray)) a real team.

Thanks to Luke for pointing me to this important information.

I think the only city we're visiting where we'll be in real danger of finding ourselves in the midst of a zombie attack is Detroit, because, well, what other cities have more downtown hiding places for enterprising zombies?

Original comments...

thatbob: Nonsense! You'll be in Pittsburgh, zombie capital of the world!

Jim: "All you zombies, hide your faces."

You want us to bring you back some Iron City beer from the 'Burgh?

thatbob: BEEEEER!!!



His Life

If the index is correct, Bill Clinton's new book only mentions baseball once. It's on page 620, at the start of a discussion of what a tough time the fall of 1994 was. He opens the chapter by noting that Bud Selig had just announced that negotiations with the Major League Baseball Players' Association were at an impasse, and that the 1994 postseason would be canceled.

He talks about sending David Lindsey to try to bring the two sides together, and about how he invited both sides to the White House for a talk, to no avail.

I wonder if there's a reference librarian out there who'd like to research where the amount of baseball talk in Clinton's book puts it in the ranks of presidential memoirs. I read Grant's Memoirs last week, and they don't mention baseball, despite its reported popularity among soldiers in camp.

Original comments...

Steve: Doesn't he talk about getting to third base?

Levi: Now that I'm twenty pages into it, I have already found another mention of baseball, albeit a very brief one. On page 19, he talks about being taken to a St. Louis Cardinals game by his stepfather. They stayed overnight and Bill loved the game and the trip. I assume the Cardinals won.

Jim: But the real question, since you obviously turned to the index first: anything along the lines of "Clinton, Bill, depicted in clothes, to disturbing effect"?

Well, I guess the effect would be a lot more disturbing if Clinton, Bill were depicted out of clothes, but you get the idea.

Levi: On page 34, baseball is mentioned again. The Clintons get a new TV and Bill enjoys watching baseball, especially Stan Musial.

Think maybe this was indexed in a hurry?

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Monday, June 21, 2004


Back in the lineup

Following a mostly baseball-free trip to Lake Tahoe, I'm back in the world of the Internet (and, that means, the office). But because I have a fair amount of work to do this morning, I've got just some disjointed thoughts to offer.

1) Here are some things that people I overheard on the trip (at restaurants, airports, in the gondola at Squaw Valley) are more concerned about than I tend to be: Property values, cars, gas prices, commercials, and traffic. Oh, and there was the woman at the airport who was detailing to everyone in earshot the degree to which she always gets sick on airplanes. The short version: not quite sick enough to barf, but very close.

Things they are less concerned about than me: public transportation, bicycles, and baseball.

I'll take my set any day.

2) We did get to see one game while we were on vacation. The last night of our trip we spent at Stacey's aunt's house in Sacramento, where I got to watch the Cardinals beat the Athletics on the Bay Area Fox Sports Network. And I got to feed Aunt Sherry's pair of pet bunnies. It was a great day.

3) The flag at Wrigley Field at Saturday's very chilly game was still at half staff. The Most-Loved Terrible President Ever has been dead more than three weeks! Isn't it time to reflect his American optimism and pull that flag back up?

4) Speaking of honoring the dead, if I had been Commissioner of Baseball, "The Star-Spangled Banner" on the day Ray Charles died would have been played by solo organ or trumpet in every ballpark. It's not like anyone is ever going to sing it better than he did at Game 2 of the 2001 World Series. Watching that performance, I was astonished that any such carefully staged moment as the pre-game National Anthem at the World Series could be so moving. On a song and in a situation where most renditions don't even reach the level of craft, Ray Charles on that night produced art.

5) Jim's posts recently have now doubled the amount of non-Maura-created Devil Rays content on the Internet. The infinity symbol no longer quite expresses the porn/Devil Rays ratio on the Web. Congratulations, Jim. The D-Rays will have your season tickets in the mail this week. Hope there's room on that fast-rolling bandwagon.

6) Ron Santo and Pat Hughes on Friday had this exchange:
Ron: "Patrick, have you ever thought of writing poetry?"
Pat: "No, not really, Ron."
Ron: "I think you should."
Pat: "Well, I think I might just stick to broadcasting."
Ron: "I really think you should write poetry."
Pat: "Thanks for the vote of confidence."

It's good to be back.

Original comments...

sandor: Re: #3. I (regrettably) didn't take any pictures, but in our short jaunt through southern Wisconsin this weekend, we saw an inordinate number of flags at half-mast. Probably more at half- than at full-. In fact, the larger the flag was, the greater chance it was halfway down the pole. It was astonishing.

Jim: They're supposed to be at half-mast (or half-staff) for 30 days after a President dies. I seem to recall that 10 years ago, flag proprietors were pretty good about keeping them halfway down (or up) for a month after Nixon died, so if he can get that kind of flag cooperation, it's no wonder Reagan is doing even better.

Levi: Wow. 30 days?

Stand me corrected!

But it still seems like an odd relic of, say, Victorian-style mourning, when you went through several specific stages of mourning with their accompanying public displays.

Toby: Levi, At Sunday's Cardinals vs. Reds game (in which Junior hit his 500th homer), a kid from your hometown named Landon Bayley threw out the first pitch. Just an FYI.

Levi: How'd he manage to get to do that? And was it faster than Matt Morris's fastball these days?

Toby: His grandfather is the Bayley in Martin & Bayley - the small Carmi company that built Huck's into a major chain in the Midwest. It was Huck's day at the ballpark. He got to meet Lou Brock, who, I believe, also threw out a ceremonial first pitch.

I've never clocked Landon so I don't know if he's faster than Morris, but I know he's a good kid.

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Actual trip-related content

The Devil Rays have an off day, and since I've got the AAA Tourbooks piled up around me, here are some questions for Levi et al. to ponder...

1. After the game in Davenport, when there are going to be four of us, do we want one hotel room or two? One room would be somewhat cheaper and would be a fun slumber party, but two rooms would mean two bathrooms.

2. How is Stacey getting from Detroit to Chicago -- Amtrak? Greyhound? Teleportation device of some sort? The answer to this question may determine where we stay in Detroit, or perhaps I should say the greater Detroit area. (The one hotel that's definitely within walking distance of Comerica Park is quoting what seems like a ridiculously high rate, so I'm looking elsewhere.)

3. Does either potential laptop have an Airport card (or other wireless card)? At least one potential place of lodging I'm looking at advertises free wireless Internet access.

Original comments...

sandor: 3. My available laptop does not, but perhaps you could borrow a card from someone else. Or buy one and return it a week and half later.

Levi: Ours has wireless Internet capability, if I understand such things properly.

thatbob: No, I don't think you understand correctly. You'll still need an Airport card. Which you might have, you should just ask Tony. But "wireless Internet capability" is a little like saying that my computer is "printer ready," I would still need a printer.

Luke: One hotel room would be fine for this frugal hanger-on. More money for bowling.

Levi: Like, I mean that I've used it with the wireless internet here at work.

Does that mean I have an airport card?

sandor: Yeah, that means it's wireless ready. It means it'll pick up any wi-fi network it finds and allow you online, assuming it's a free network.

stacey: monroe (our computer) will pick up any available network. also, i'm not sure if i'm going to go all the way to detroit yet . . . i was thinking maybe of just heading back from carmi. luke, want to travel together? which do you prefer?

Jim: Heading back to Chicago from Carmi with Luke will involve getting shoved out of the car at the University Park Metra station, so be aware of that. Unless you're trying to keep your teleportation device secret from the government, wink wink.

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Sunday, June 20, 2004



The Devil Rays have now set the MLB record for longest win streak of the 2004 season. Too bad they have to play an AL team on Tuesday.

Original comments...

maura: yeah, but it's the blue jays. who are without both vernon wells and carlos delgado.

i have faith. i mean, sheesh, mark hendrickson got out of that bases-loaded jam today, and i thought he was TOTALLY SCREWED at that point.

maura: not to mention: rocco baldelli WALKED today. when does he ever do that?!?

(rocco, if you find this via google, i still adore you! and your bobblehead is right next to my powerbook)

Levi: You know, when they were talking about moving the Diamondbacks to the AL a few years ago, maybe they were talking about the wrong team moving. I haven't looked at the standings today, but I bet a 70-0 record would lead any National League division.

Steve: Eleven in a row is pretty awesome. But I would think that after 11 straight wins less than 1/2 way through the season the team would be a little better than 10 games out. Wasn't Lou Pinella going around Tampa during the off-season touting how well the D-Rays were going to do. I heard something about how in the course of a week in front of three different audiences he said they would, "not finish last," "finish third," "challenge for a playoff spot" Paraphrasing of course.....

Levi: Also, I would think that after five seasons of finishing in last place, with almost no signs of progress, D-Rays GM Chuck LaMar would have been fired six or seven times.

maura: if they were in the al west, or al central, or nl east, they'd be less than five games out. the yankees (sigh) are running away with the al east, and boston, who the rays are now six games behind, has a better record than both those division's leaders (and the nl east's phillies, too)

thatbob: Gee! If I were in the al west, or al central, or nl east, maybe I'd be less than five games out, too! Gives a boy a chance to dream...

maura: :P



I hope this is anxiety, not premonition

I just dreamed that we overslept and then dawdled and missed the second stop on this trip. However, I clearly don't have our itinerary locked in my subconscious, since the dream was set at my aunt and uncle's house in the Philadelphia suburbs, and we were late to Toronto. But what my subconscious did get right is that after I said to Levi something to the effect of, "It's 4:00, so it's too late for us to get to Toronto," he swore loudly.

All was not lost, though, because I then grabbed the laptop and started looking up the NY-Penn League schedules. The dream ended before we made it to a game, but I'd like to think we did get to see some baseball.

The worst part of having this dream is that it was disturbing enough that I'm wide awake way too early after going to bed late last night (for those who don't have this entire blog memorized, the posts here are being stamped in Central time, but I'm living on Pacific time).

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People in the Tampa Bay area are so shocked by the Devil Rays' winning streak, they're hitting the wrong pedal even more often than usual!

Oh, yeah, Levi wanted me to write about the Cardinals, didn't he? Well, they're only 8-2 in their last 10 games. And they may have only four losses in the month of June, but the Rays only have three losses this month. I repeat, they're making people want to pick up their baggage at the Tampa airport really fast so they can get home to watch the games on PAX 66!

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Saturday, June 19, 2004



Maybe the Devil Rays suddenly realized that the possibility exists for them to win the World Series in the same year that their hockey counterparts, the Lightning, won the Stanley Cup.

Or maybe the thought process is, "Well, we're never going to see these NL West teams again, because we'll probably be contracted out of existence before they come around again in the interleague rotation, so let's make the most of it."


Friday, June 18, 2004


More Tank McNamara, TiVo, and baseball

Whoever colorized today's "Tank McNamara" strip has apparently never seen a TiVo remote. The buttons are in a variety of festive colors, not just red, assuming you consider gray and black to be festive colors.

Also, the colorizer has made everyone but the main characters orange, but that's less of a problem.


Thursday, June 17, 2004


Foul ball etiquette

Someone at the Dallas Morning News web site had a little too much time on his hands.

Original comments...

thatbob: Five of those six graphics should have been framed in the big red circle/slash element which signifies to "DON'T" do something. I hope these unadorned graphics don't find their way into stadia nationwide and wreak havoc with foul ball etiquette. (I couldn't notice that title, "Foul Ball Etiquette." Apparently all rules are off when you're trying to catch a Barry Bonds homer.)



AAA update

Things keep happening to thwart me from going to the AAA office on Monday, my day off, so today I went after work to get the Triptik and the various ancillary items, which I can't get from the AAA web site because this trip has too many destinations for it to work correctly.

They're going to mail me the Triptik, but I had, at one point, two AAA employees rummaging through filing cabinets looking for maps and Tourbooks for me. So now I have two plastic bags stuffed full of materials, including a map of Chicago and vicinity, just in case you don't know your way around in a car, Levi. In fact, it may annoy you to discover that the AAA cartographers titled one of the inset maps, with Lawrence and Ashland at the upper left, "Lincoln Park."

Original comments...

Jason: They might have been more helpful if you were going to any AAA parks, like Memphis or Albuquerque.

thatbob: And everyone knows that baseball-related Chase Park is actually at the corner of Lawrence and Ashland.


"In 1920, the Lincoln Park Commission converted a deserted semi-professional baseball field into Chase Park. Known as Gunther Park, the ball field was home to the Niesen-Gunther team beginning in 1905. The facility went out of business in 1913, during the construction of Chicago's north side professional baseball field, Wrigley Field. A community member suggested the conversion of the old ball field into a park in 1914, and several years later the Ravenswood Improvement Association and some local officials petitioned for the park. The Lincoln Park Commission finally began land acquisition in 1920. Within the next two years, tennis courts, a playground, an athletic field, a wading pool, and a fieldhouse were constructed in Chase Park. In 1934, the Lincoln park commission was consolidated into the Chicago park district. The Park district demolished chase Park's original fieldhouse and replaced it with a new building in 1976."

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A note about our, um, colleagues...

So far, I've only found one other baseball trip similar to ours going on this year, and Andrew and Ben's trip starts tonight in L.A. They're doing 9 games in 6 cities in 11 days, including -- and here's where Levi starts drooling -- all three Cardinals-Royals games in Kansas City from June 25-27. Also, their web site looks nicer than this one, and they even have an actual logo. So, Levi, if you'd rather go on their trip than the one we have planned, I guess I'll understand.

Original comments...

Jason: They seem like a couple of Normal guys.

But on their web site, it looks like fog is rolling into Bank One Ballpark. Or maybe it's smoke from all the peyote Arizona folks do.

thatbob: There site *looks* good, but is lacking in content. And, more importantly, places for me to comment. So far they are no threat to you for my readership/commentship.

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Today's dialogue from "Tank McNamara"

Man #1: So that's your new TiVo?
Man #2: By jumping past pitching changes and the commercial blocks between innings, you can watch a whole game and save almost an hour.
Man #1: What would I do with another hour? Look, I have these unwanted periods of consciousness. I use TV sports to get rid of them.

In other news, the Devil Rays have won a franchise record seven straight games, so clearly, Levi needs to go on vacation more often. Alternately, perhaps the Rays could be switched from the AL to the NL.

Original comments...

thatbob: What is a Tank McNamara? Is it related to the Simon and Garfunkel song?

Jim: There's a Simon and Garfunkel song called "Tank McNamara"?

"Tank McNamara" is a sports-themed comic strip. The title character is a football player turned sportscaster, although many of the strips don't include him at all, such as today's. Many newspapers run it in the sports section instead of on the comics page, including the Tampa Tribune during the 1980s, which is where I first became aware of its existence.

thatbob: "Many newspapers run it in the sports section instead of on the comics page,"

In the sacred space customarily accorded to Gil Thorpe?!? For shame!

Epacris: That particular day's strip is one of my top favourites.

(My all-time favourite is Calvin & Hobbes, 2nd June, 1983 aka 'The Big Picture')

I have TMcN on "My Yahoo" front page. Since I'm from Australia & (somewhat unusually) quite uninterested in sport, a lot of the strip doesn't make much sense, but it can be quite fun about universal sporting foibles.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2004


I have no desire to be the biggest jerk in the park

If we're going to go after foul balls on the trip, we'd better make sure there aren't any kids in the way, unless we know for a fact that the kid has a lifelong dream of being on "Good Morning America." Personally, I've always preferred the "Today" show.

Original comments...

Steve: Whatever...It's not like the kid even got trampled. Who among us hasn't pushed a four year old out of the way. They often show up at the most inopportune places. At least its nice to see that baseball is falling all over itself to make amends. For what I don't know but it's pretty clear that the media in this country is dying for some "feel-good" stores. Well, off to rescue some puppies and kittens.

Eric: Let's not idealize 4-year-olds. A lot of 4-year-olds are selfish little jerks. A 4-year-old's mom tried to take my seat on an airplane, as the stewardess explained, "because they want to sit together." "Tough shit!" I told the stewardess. "I want to have sex with Jennifer Connelly, so I guess that makes two of us aren't going to get what we want." I mean, come on. A 4-year-old can't sit quietly on his own for a two-hour flight? They have to push me out of my comfortable, front-of-the-plane aisle seat into a middle seat at the back of the plane? What bullshit. Being 4 years old is no excuse for anything.

They didn't even ask if I would voluntarily give up my seat. The stewardess just put them there and told me I had to move. United, man. "Fly the airline where all the employees hate you."

Luke: If a foul ball comes our way at Busch, feel free to trample all over me, if it might send some swag our way.

Dr. Octopus: I push 4-year-olds out of the way all the time! Even when I'm not at the ballpark! And with all my tentacles, I can push down numerous 4-year-olds simultaneously! Ha ha ha ha!


Tuesday, June 15, 2004


We could be sleeping in the flowers

I now know what I'm going to be doing the night before leaving on this trip: seeing They Might Be Giants at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip. I only wish this had more to do with baseball; unless I'm forgetting a track, I don't think they've got a baseball-related song as a group. With his solo side project Mono Puff, John Flansburgh has a song called "What Bothers the Spaceman?" about Bill "Spaceman" Lee, which I may or may not have mentioned here. (Yes, it's in the baseball song collection on my iPod.)

By the way, Jason Kaifesh suggests that some kind of "farewell dinner" get-together should be held in Chicago before the trip, on the evening of Friday, August 20th. Sounds like a good idea to me, especially if I don't have to plan it from afar. What do you think, Levi (or others)?

Original comments:

Jim: Thought of a semi-baseball-related lyric, from "Purple Toupee," off the "Lincoln" album: "I shouted out, 'Free the Expo 67!'" The Montreal Expos were named after Expo 67. I can already predict that they are not going to play that song at the House of Blues.

thatbob: Are you taking odds?

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Monday, June 14, 2004


The follow-up

As it turned out, the Angels decided to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the game I wrote about yesterday by playing a 15-inning game with the Cubs.

They used five pitchers. The Cubs used eight.

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Sunday, June 13, 2004


My arm hurts

There is an article in today's L.A. Times about the 15-inning Red Sox-Angels game on June 14, 1974. The winning pitcher was Barry Raziano of the Angels, who threw two perfect innings in relief; it was his only major league victory.

But more importantly: Luis Tiant was the Sox's sole pitcher, going 14.1 innings until he gave up the winning run. Nolan Ryan started for the Angels, and went 13 innings, making 235 pitches. But then, in 1974, he averaged 160-180 pitches a game. The Times reporter asked Bill James about it: "It obviously ruined his arm because he had to retire 19 years later."

Original comments...

Toby: Ah yes... back when baseball was played by men and ruled by an impartial commissioner, not played by ridiculously overpaid prima donnas and ruled by agents and accountants.

Back when baseball players were your heroes, not celebrities.

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Thursday, June 10, 2004


What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, unless there's a souvenir cup involved

Hmm, Levi and I should have coordinated our vacations so we didn't have weeks where only one of us has to carry the blog load.

Anyway, potential guideline for the baseball trip: no drinking "beer by the yard," even if it's really only 18 inches, because once you've consumed one of those things, it's pretty hard to get up the next morning and drive somewhere. Trust me.

I meant to check out for Levi what the current odds were on the Cards winning the World Series, but I was too busy collecting my winnings on a certain non-baseball bet I placed at the sports book on Monday afternoon.

Original comments...

Steve: So did you drink a "yard" or a "half yard?" A yard is about equivalent to 40oz of beer. After sitting by the "beers of the world" stand at Comiskey the other night and paying $5.50 for 16oz PBR, I think the yard of beer is your most economical beer selection at the ballpark. I don't endorse you drinking a yard of beer a day becuase I wonder what that would do to your diet of Hostess Baseballs. It could get ugly.

Jim: I drank a full yard (of Dos Equis amber, this being a Mexican restaurant, which was primarily pushing margaritas by the yard, but you could get any drink that way). It was $13.95, but that's Vegas hotel pricing, not ballpark pricing.

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Non-baseball vacation. It's sad, but such things do exist.

Stacey and I are off on vacation with her family for a week, starting tomorrow. So I will be away from the Internet (Unless one of Stacey's sisters has one of those magic internet phone-watch-missile-defense-system-thingies, which would probably terrify me so much that I couldn't use it even if I wanted to do so.) and not posting to BRPA2004.

In my absence, I hope Jim will at least impersonate me for a post or two. It's not like it's that hard. You mention Johnny Damon, lament a Cardinals loss or cheer a Cardinals victory.

Or you could post something about Raul Mondesi--whose nickname is "The Buffalo"-- and Operation Shutdown: The Sequel, which he pulled in Pittsburgh, the home of the original, unmatchable Operation Shutdown.

And you could link to this silly picture, from the game where Mondesi, now an Angel, tore his quadriceps.

There. Now Jim will be able to impersonate me with ease. See you all when we return.

Original comments...

thatbob: I have no idea what you're talking about.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2004


One of these things is not like the other

1) Damon claims in this article that it took him only three weeks to grow the beard. But then he goes on to say that he will have it back in about ten days. Maybe that means he's getting better with practice?

2) According to an article Stacey found, which I can't find right now, Damon's been shaving since he was six. That's what she says.

3) And just to leave you all warm and fuzzy, here are Damon's reasons for choosing tutoring program at the Boston Public Library and a city program, ReadBoston, as the beneficiaries of his charitable act:

"I didn't read well when I was young," said Damon. "They help kids do that. My parents were always working. I never had help on my homework, so it just related a lot with my life and me growing up. I think it just helps out everybody. It brings awareness and hopefully, they can get a lot more donations and help out a lot more kids, and that's what Boston's about. We have all these colleges here. We want to try to make each kid smart enough to go to these colleges.

"We're going to have even more 'smahtah' kids here in Boston."

You all know what to do.

4) In today's non-Damon note, I noticed something interesting that recent Cardinals call-up the Third Molina was doing last night while catching Chris Carpenter. In the late innings, as Carpenter tired and his pitches started to float up a bit, Molina began dropping his target all the way to the dirt. He'd set up, then hunker down and more or less lay the open glove in the dirt. The tactic seemed to work: Carpenter started aiming at the glove, and the pitches, when they didn't drop as much as they should have, ended up around the knees rather than around the belt. Does anyone know if this is a trick that Jose Molina or Bengie Molina uses?

Original comments:

Bengie Molina: I use that trick all the time. I also have the picture of a fly painted on the inside of my mitt, which the pitcher attempts to squash. It seems to help, unless a real fly lands on the end of the bat.

Levi: The real question, though, is how the hell a family produces three major leaguers at one position?

Were there no pitcher or shortstop genes in their family? Or did those all go to the gals?

sandor: Smart idea, Bengie. Been to Amsterdam lately?

Secho: What we do know is that Mr. and Mrs. Molina were pretty quick to get their groove back on after Bengie was born. His birthday is July 20, 1974, while Jose's is June 3, 1975. So they are, at this moment, both 29 years old, and not twins. So I guess itt's not too surprising that they share common talents and interests, though you would think one of them would've been pitching to the other one all those years.

Who were the last set of 3 brothers to play major league ball simultaneously? The Alous?

Levi: I think it's the Alous. The only other trios I can come up with off the top of my head are the DiMaggios and the Boyers. I know there have been at least a couple more.

I really like what I've seen of The Third Molina so far, although he does still look not quite ready for a full-time job in the majors.

stacey: did the third benes brother never make it out of the minors? they were all pitchers, i believe. maybe they grew up down the street from the molinas.

Luke: Pat Hughes and Dave Otto were discussing this during last night's game -- Ron Santo was taking the series off, so there was much more talk about actual baseball and much less about hairpieces, sweaters and funny names -- and they said there have been 19 sets of brothers, the most recent being Jose, Hector and Tommy in 1977. Here's a complete list.

Cluke: And I think it goes without saying that the awards for best names go to Clete, Cloynd and Ken Boyer.


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Monday, June 07, 2004


Down on the farm

Honorary hanger-on Jason Kaifesh called me Sunday afternoon and asked if I wanted to go to a minor-league game. Of course I said yes. The California League-leading Lancaster Jethawks were playing the Inland Empire 66ers (San Bernardino) in a game with a strange 6:00 start time, perhaps because the temperature can get quite high up in the Antelope Valley. First, the best of my attempts at an action shot. Note the ball seemingly frozen...

Since Lancaster is near Edwards Air Force Base, they have two space shuttles on either side of the message board, albeit space shuttles that look more like NASCAR vehicles, with the advertising. Hmm, didn't the idea of having NASA raise money by selling advertising space come up at some point during the Reagan administration?...

Speaking of which, note the flags, and the fact that the wind was blowing very strong towards right field throughout the game, although there was only one home run hit in that direction (quite a few fly balls to the warning track, though). Is there some kind of mailing list you can subscribe to, if you have a flagpole, to let you know when you're supposed to have your flags at half-mast?...

This being the minor leagues, they let a kid race the mascot around the bases while the game is in progress (I mean, between innings, but still...). I can provide witnesses to corroborate the fact that Kaboom the Jethawk took a dive, by the way, in case any federal prosecutors interested in a RICO case are reading this...

Lancaster Municipal Stadium, a.k.a. The Hangar, is fairly new, which means they have a manual scoreboard. Yes, that is a ridiculous contradiction, but we live in ridiculous times. At least the manual scoreboard's numbers are readable (when they remember to put them up), unlike certain electrically-operated numbers that are hard to read when the sun is shining directly on them and a third of the light bulbs are burned out...

Final score: 66ers 7, Jethawks 3. One of the best things about the game, by the way, was the noise the crowd made when the P.A. announcer announced that the Lakers had lost Game 1 of the finals to the Detroit Pistons. It was the noise of several thousand people simultaneously making a noise that meant, "But the local media has been leading us to believe that the Lakers are the team of destiny for months now!" I know, I know, that's not really baseball-related.

Now I'm headed to Vegas for a few days. Unfortunately, the Las Vegas 51's won't be in town while I'm there, so I guess I'll have to find something to do other than watching minor-league baseball.

Original comments...

Levi: I'm surprised, Jim, to see you refer to the flag as being at half-staff.

As this site shows, lowered flags on ships are at half-mast, but lowered flags on land are at half-staff.

There recently was a story in the Tribune about a woman who contacted the head office of McDonald's to inform them that they were not, by flag codes, allowed to lower the flags at their restaurants in tribute to their CEO, who had died suddenly. According to her, a government directive had to go out. She was backed up by the reporter and by a government official, whose name and position I've forgotten.

Anyway, it's the first I'd heard about it. Anyone know anything more about these rules?

And were the flags down for Reagan, or for the Lakers?

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Sunday, June 06, 2004


The cross-wits

The title of today's Merl Reagle crossword puzzle is "Bawl Game," and the theme relates to Tom Hanks's line in "A League of Their Own," featured as 111 Across ("THERESNOCRYING") and 119 Across ("INBASEBALL").

As it turned out, since there's no crying in baseball, all the theme answers were missing a "WA" somewhere, including 35 Across ("Ex-Boston-N.Y.-Tampa player with over 3,000 hits"), 85 Across ("Grassless area on a diamond's perimeter that lets a fielder know the wall is near"), the long one, 66 Across ("Post-home run comment"), and the one that took me the longest to get, 88 Across ("Try to fool a batter, perhaps"). Answers in the comments section.

Original comments...

Jim: 35. DEBOGGS
88. THROCURVE (unlike all the other theme answers in the puzzle, the missing "WA" letters weren't both removed from one word)

Luke: No wa? But you gotta have wa!

thatbob: Japanese fighting spirit!

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Saturday, June 05, 2004


What a trip we could have had

What if we had chosen Itinerary Number One for the trip? Well, I'll tell you...

Saturday, May 22: Reds 8, Astros 7. What a game to start off the trip with!

Sunday, May 23: Brewers 2, Pirates 1. This one was much easier for Levi to score.

Monday, May 24: Blue Jays 6, Angels 5 (10 innings). They must have heard about our trip, because they keep having one-run games for us.

Tuesday, May 25: Expos 3, Braves 1. I knew I shouldn't have said anything, because there goes the one-run game streak. But the Expos won a game! And we had plenty of elbow room at Olympic Stadium, with attendance only 4,237 (including us).

Wednesday, May 26: Red Sox 9, A's 6. Hooray for Johnny Damon! Not because he was the star of this game, but just on general principles, even if he did shave his beard just a few days ago.

Thursday, May 27: No game. We had talked before about maybe seeing the Red Sox or the Phillies two days in a row, but ended up not doing that, and both teams were blown out by the visitors today (A's 15-2 over the Sox; Braves 6-1 over the Phillies).

Friday, May 28: Phillies 3, Braves 2 (10 innings). Another one-run game, featuring a walk-off homer.

Saturday, May 29: Indians 8, A's 6. Hmm, the A's seem to only be able to score 6 runs -- no more, no less -- when we're in the stands.

Sunday, May 30: Orioles 7, Tigers 3. A four-run game? Inconceivable! Not to mention the fact that one of my favorite-named players, Ugueth Urbina, fell apart.

Monday, May 31: Cubs 3, Astros 1. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that it was a little chilly in Chicago for Memorial Day, since I remember that it was that way in 2002 as well. Anyway, a good game to end the trip, even if we're now sick of the Astros. And the Braves. And the A's.

(Will I remember to start doing a day-by-day posting once we get around to July 17, the start of Itinerary Number Two, the way I should have done for this itinerary? We'll find out together.)

Original comments...

Levi: This trip clearly would have been inferior to the one we are going to take, because this trip has no Cardinals games.

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Thursday, June 03, 2004


Look what looks can do

In the early balloting for the starting outfield for the American League All-Star team, Baseball-Related Program Activities 2004 favorite Johnny Damon is a strong third.

Now, much as I hate to admit it, Johnny Damon is definitely not the third-best outfielder in the American League.

While he was on the All-Star team in 2002, he has never come close to being voted to a starting berth. And it's not like he's off to an extremely good start this season. His .282/383./400 line is perfectly acceptable, but it's not like he's setting the world on fire.

Not with his bat, that is. We all know why Johnny Damon might make the All-Star team: Who doesn't want to have the coolest-looking player in baseball representing the American League at baseball's coolest position? Well, aside from a few silly Yankees fans, that is. Even without the beard, he deserves the starting nod.

Internet voting is allowed. Vote early and often, and this might be the best All-Star game since the one Bud Selig ruined--which happens to be the one in which Johnny Damon went 1-3.

Original comments...

maura: you can only vote up to 25 times! so don't vote too often, there.

Jim: I punched out a lot of all-star ballots for Johnny Damon, among others, at the Devil Rays-Rangers game (because my father dumped a bunch of them in my lap, and there was nothing else to do). No wonder he's running third!

Steve: this is only partially related but on Wed night, Vladimir Guerrero (leading AL outfield vote getter) had 9 RBI in a game. I looked around a bit for the single game record to no avail. Jim? Levi?

Jim: According to the chart that was in Thursday's L.A. Times, the record is 12, held by both Jim Bottomley of the Cardinals (who did it on September 16, 1924) and Mark Whiten of the Cardinals (September 7, 1993). The A.L. record is 11, held by Tony Lazzeri of the Yankees (May 24, 1936).

Levi: I was listening to the Mark Whiten game. It was something.

His feat is impressive because he drove in all 12 on home runs. Four of them.

Secho: I was thinking Whiten was probably the worst player ever to hit 4 HRs in a game (and this is a category that includes Mike Cameron); despite hitting 25 homers and driving in 99 in 1993, Whiten had only a .746 OPS. How do you drive in 99 while slugging .423? Hell, even Kevin Elster slugged .462 when he inexplicably drove in 99 runs. Okay, Johnny Damon's only slugging .416 with 31 RBI, but I'll grow a mullet if he's sitting at 100 RBI with his current line at the end of the season.

Anyway, I thought Whiten was the worst 4-homer player unil I stumbled upon Pat Seerey, who did it for the White Sox in 1948. He was a career .224 hitter who only played 4 games in 1949 before being cut and never played again. This after leading the Sox with 18 homers and 64 RBI in 1948. Even Seerey had a .768 OPS that season, though, so I may be switching my vote back to Whiten.

Levi: Whiten really was a bad hitter, a mistake hitter who would flash such impressive power on those few bad pitches he hammered that he'd have you scratching your head.

Whiten somehow only hit 13 doubles in 1993, which goes a long way (with his lousy batting average) to explaining his low slugging percentage. And the RBI were (Here's where I wish Dan Rivkin was reading this blog regularly), I'm guessing, about 40% Gregg Jeffries (.342/.408/.485), 20% Ray Lankford (.238/.366./.346), 20% Bernard Gilkey (.305/.370/.481). God knows where the other 20% came from.

Oh, and Jim Bottomley was known as Sunny Jim Bottomley.



Perhaps they realize I'm onto them

The Dodgers have dropped their mascot plans. They say they're still looking at other options to improve the entertainment experience at Dodger Stadium.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2004


Stocking up, part 2

I thought I'd put this in the main body of the blog instead of in the comments to Levi's post, since it's important...more important for me, in fact, since it will be more inconvenient to turn back if I leave something behind before heading for the airport than if Levi leaves something behind before heading for Davenport.

You can't get a car that runs on biodiesel and is comfortable for four people, or so Hertz claims. However, I believe every state we'll be passing through will have cheaper gas than California, even Illinois, so I'll claim it's cheap every time we fill up. Ontario and Quebec will be more expensive, but it'll still seem cheap because the price will be listed in Canadian dollars per liter.

I tend to have stomach problems for unexplained reasons, not after eating things like the Schmitter. When I do have them, though, Tums doesn't cut it. I'm bringing Pepto-Bismol.

I'm pretty sure there is going to be a Canada-U.S. translation chart of some variety in the materials I'm going to get from AAA, if I ever manage to make it to their office.

Other things I should remember to bring:

1) The Red Sox and Phillies tickets for me and Levi.

2) Printouts of the hotel reservation confirmations.

3) My iPod and its various accessories, including the cigarette lighter charger, the AC charger and cable, and the cassette adaptor (on the off chance we get a car not only with a cassette deck, but with a cassette deck the adaptor will work in). In addition to the music (not solely radio station jingles), my iPod also contains my address book, and I'm going to put text files on it giving exact driving directions to the various places we'll be staying, plus public transportation directions to stadiums (where applicable), and anything else I can think of that needs to be on there.

4) My digital camera and its battery charger.

5) My cell phone and its charger.

6) A bunch of nickels and dimes I have lying around that may come in handy for paying tolls.

7) My passport.

8) Sunscreen, since I have a giant tube of Coppertone Sport that's still pretty full.

9) A rain poncho (which I need to buy unless I can find the one I thought I had).

10) Not directly related to the trip, but a videotape of television programming from a channel or channels that Levi and Stacey don't receive, since they'd be disappointed if I didn't show up with one. I've already got a 2-hour selection on my TiVo, although I have to get a working VCR between now and the trip. All I'll say is that it's not game shows.

Original comments...

maura: you are so organized! i started packing for my trip to seattle an hour before i had to leave my house, and i left my cell phone charger at home.

i did get to safeco field on monday night, though. it's a very nice park; the roof was closed over the field, but there were gaps providing vistas into the city. unfortunately, we weren't seated near the healthy food area, so we didn't have the veggie dogs or ichirolls -- we ate jumbo hot dogs. note to self: NEVER EAT JUMBO HOT DOGS AGAIN. not only were they, er, indelicately unwieldy, they were way too big. the garlic fries were great, though, and i had an iced latte as well (oh, whatever, it's seattle, it's okay there). also, i bought an action cam at archie mcphee, and i tried to take some photos of the game with it. we'll see if they came out soon, i guess.

semi-related: that night, joe and i were sitting in our hotel's bar/lounge area (we stayed at the w), and who should come walking into the lobby but: the entire blue jays team! i wonder if all the teams stay at this hotel, or if richer teams stay at the fancier places downtown.

Jim: You don't think the W is fancy? The only reason I've ever set foot inside one is because that's where Donna Cochener stayed when she was in L.A. for Maggie's wedding, and Levi and I visited her there. You know she's not going to stay anyplace non-fancy.

Did lots of trains go by while you were at Safeco?

maura: i saw donna on tuesday! we had lunch at noodle ranch. she is living in seattle now. anyway, the 'fancier' places i was thinking of were the boutique hotels with in-room jacuzzis and stuff. a-rod's gotta soak!

only two trains went by while i was at safeco. both were freight trains.

Jeremy: I used to feel stupid for not owning a VCR that works, until I just found out Jim doesn't either.

stacey: no game shows?

Jim: Sorry, Jer, I just bought a VCR on EBay. Of course, I still might not own a VCR that works, although the seller swears it's an open-box item returned to the manufacturer because it didn't work with RF cables, but it works great with RCA cables (which is all I need). Stacey: GSN, the channel formerly known as Game Show Network, has been very disappointing recently, even in the months before they shortened the name. I don't know, maybe they'll surprise me, or maybe some other channel will come up with some exciting game show(s), and I'll have to bring two videotapes.

Donna Cochener: Always strange to find your name on the web... especially in a post on a baseball site regarding your proclivity to stay in hotels that provide a greater number of creature comforts. Jim, just so you know, I've stayed in some truly awful places. I even have photographic evidence -- mushrooms growing from the ceiling of the bathroom, things like that.

If anyone has a desire to watch the Mariners lose a few games, you're welcome to come visit me in Seattle. Hotel Cochener has one small room available -- with en suite facilities, but no pool.

Jim: You can't fool me...only the most upscale hotels have mushrooms growing in the bathroom. That's the in-room salad bar.

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Stocking up

A discussion Jim and I had in the comments to the previous post led me to start thinking about what Jim and will need to bring on our trip. I'm going to leave out the obvious items (like clothes, money, and a toothbrush so that I can annoy Jim by brushing my teeth in the car, hotel room, and the stadium) that anyone would bring on any trip. So, off the top of my head, here are the items specific to the BRPA 2004 trip that I think Jim and I will need.

1) Our two iPods, including the snug St. Louis Cardinals iPod Cozy that Stacey crocheted me for my birthday.

2) Hostess Fruit Pies, because Doctor Octopus has already shown some interest in our trip, and neither Jim nor I is a superhero, so distracting Doc Ock is our only hope.

3) This collection of old radio shows about baseball, either on CD or on my iPod.

4) This collection of Jack Benny programs, to break up the nonstop radio station jingles coming from Jim's iPod.

5) My score book, pencils, and a sharpener. Because keeping score is one way to keep sane on a long baseball trip.

6) Several gallons of biodiesel from one of Uptown's greasy diners, because I'm sure the rental car Jim has booked can run on bio-diesel. Jim wouldn't let me down that way.

So what else do you think we need?

Original comments...

Jason: -A camera

-Some green, black & teal yarn for Jim to knit himself a Tampa Bay Devil Rays iPod Cozy

-Milk to wash down the Hostess Fruit Pies

-Spider-Man Underoos to further frighten Dr. Octopus away

-A Canada-U.S. translation chart, so you can convert from miles to kilometers and from saying 'about' to 'aboot'


Steve: -Tums (for Jim if he dares tackle the Schmitter)

-American dollar bills (because I hear Windsor has awesome strip clubs and American money is worth more than Canadian Money so you are more likely to be popular with the dancers)

-Stamps (to send postcards because even though digital cameras are cool and make for instant photos its hard to put a blog up on the fridge--don't forget the address book)

-Peanuts (cheaper outside the park)

sandor: Are either of you bringing a laptop? Or are you planning on doing all your updates from the road through some bootleg blog-by-email set-up? I'd love to see what kind of shorthand l33t-speak you come up with for, say, Albert Pujols.

In addition to a laptop, you'll need an account with some kind of nationwide ISP, so you can plug in in your hotel room and make a local or toll-free call. That's how we did it on our trip. The alternative is hoping for either a) free wireless access in stadium (which I hear exists someplace [probably SF] but which use I can't for the life of me see you condoning) or b) business centers in your hotels or c) extraordinary luck in finding Internet cafes. I actually have an extra, old laptop laying around if you don't want to bring yours on the road, Levi. You're welcome to borrow it.

Or are you planning on doing all your road blogging by postcard? I can see that. It'd be a good way to break up the tedium of all those miles: writing the same post over and over and over again on postcards and USPS'ing them to all of your fans.

sandor: Oops. I meant to say "... bootleg blog-by-phone set-up."

Jim: As far as I'm concerned, we'd love to borrow your extra laptop. My plan was going to involve writing down all the posts longhand while on the trip and then back-dating them when I entered them into Blogger after I got back, then pretending they were there all along.

I happen to be on the Internet via Earthlink, which could not possibly be more of a nationwide ISP (in fact, I'm pretty sure they have numbers in Toronto and Montreal as well). It's a DSL account that includes 20 hours of free dialup per month, which should be plenty for making posts to this blog, but the amount of time Levi spends looking at Cardinals-related news sites and blogs will have to be carefully rationed.

But I do like the blog-by-postcard idea. Hmm...

Levi: I was planning to bring our laptop, if only for the 9,000 or so songs on it.

But if Stacey thinks she'll need it while we're gone, I'll take you up on your offer.

Toby: Here's a shot in the dark, Levi - maybe a CAMERA??!!??


Jeremy: Thanks for posting a link to a website dedicated entirely to Hostess ads in comic books. I blew an entire afternoon at work before I knew what had happened.

Levi: Jer- If you want to waste more time and laugh Coke through your nose, open a can and check out that same guy's site about the comic Mr. T. and the T-Force. His commentary is a bit obvious, but the T-Force comic itself is hilarious.

spidey: I'm coming on part of your trip, so you needn't worry about Dr. Octopus until after Detroit. Also, I recommend Hostess Crab Pies. Dr. Octopus loves those.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2004


Dodging the trolleys

Two recent pieces of news from the Los Angeles Dodgers: their organist Nancy Bea Hefley is playing a lot less than she used to, and they're considering adding a mascot (no link available, but there was a story in today's L.A. Times that, if today were April 1 and not June 1, I would have thought was fake).

I'm wondering if new Dodgers owner Frank McCourt doesn't have some kind of "Producers"-style scam going on that depends on low attendance at Dodger Stadium. Raising ticket prices would have been too obvious, so he raised parking prices and concession stand prices, but that didn't work too well, because people still keep showing up to the games. There were no spectacular free agent signings in the off-season, just a troublemaker acquired at the last minute. Yet the Dodgers are doing pretty well, so people still keep showing up to the games. Perhaps when the no-organ-plus-annoying-mascot plan doesn't work, McCourt will make every night Free Beach Ball Night, in which every fan will get a free pre-inflated beach ball and will be encouraged to bat it around in the stands throughout the game. Oh, wait a second...

By the way, the Major League Baseball organist situation isn't quite as dire as the Seattle Times column makes it out to be. Their list of organists is incomplete. For example, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have a live organist, believe it or not, to name one team they didn't mention. His booth is next to, but not inside, the press box, and I was just a few sections over from it at the game last month. I only realized afterwards that I should have gone over there to see if he took requests.

Original comments...

Levi: Hey, don't knock Milton Bradley.

As he said last year when sent down by Cleveland, "There seems to be one set of rules for Milton Bradley, and another set for everybody else."

thatbob: Oh, see, I have a deep and profound love for annoying mascots that I'm surprised you don't share, Jim. But at least if they get a Trolley Dodger, they'll have to get a trolley, no? Wouldn't that make you happy! LA hasn't had one of those since, what, the 1940s?

I hope it's a big pink and green trolley made of balloons and glitter that runs back and forth across the backfield. Isn't that the kind you like?

Jason: Bernie Brewer was never annoying.

Levi: If the Dodgers get a mascot, who's next? A big, stinky Red Sock? A plastered Trixie named Cubbina?

We can only hope.

Jim: The Red Sox have a mascot: Wally the Green Monster.

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He's back

With hit after hit after hit over the last week, Albert Pujols appears to be back, having shaken the slump that had dogged him all season. He's now got an on-base-percentage of .404 and a slugging percentage of .612, very close to his career numbers. Kind of out of nowhere, he's now leading the league in home runs, too. And you can tell just by watching him on TV that he's hitting like the Albert Pujols we're used to seeing, no longer getting off-balance and out on his front foot.

What's funny about it is that, according to Buck Martinez on ESPN yesterday, Albert broke out of his slump when his wife, Deirdre, pointed out to him while they were watching tapes of his at-bats that he had spread his stance out too much. She talked to Albert about it, and also to hitting coach Mitchell Page. Now, I have always heard that the general philosophy of most hitting coaches is to use whatever works (Walt Hriniak and Charlie Lau excepted), but don't you think that would be a bit irksome, to have a player's wife come tell you what to look out for? Even if she's right--and even if you hadn't noticed the problem yourself, your pride would surely suffer a bit.

This led Bob and me to a discussion of whether maybe Deirdre is as a good a hitter as Albert, but she stays home with the kids because it's good for a kid to have a parent at home. Bob suggested that maybe she's Polly Ann to Albert's John Henry. Let's just hope that Albert never has to test himself against an electronic hitting machine.

Although it sure would be fun to hear the fans scream, "The upper deck's caving in!", and Albert respond, not losing a beat, "That ain't nothing but my bat sucking wind," as he drives another ball over the Arch.

Original comments...

Toby: It doesn't really have anything to do with Pujols, but happy birthday, Levi.

thatbob: Pujols is probably worth the ink, don't get me wrong. But in the coming years, try to be careful not to fall into a Bob Greene or Bob Costas wanting-to-slobber-all-over-Michael Jordan's-(well, let me try to keep this family related)-NBA-championship-rings kind-of relationship. It's a fine line to walk, I know, but as a married man, it's your job to walk it.

Jason: I'd like to see what Mrs. Jose Lima has to say about this.

Actually, I just like to see Mrs. Lima.

Levi: Well, Pujols did go 5-5 last night with two doubles and a home run, and he cured cancer during the seventh-inning stretch, but your point is taken, Bob. I won't mention it.

Oh, and it's not ink: it's bytes.

Levi: And thanks, Toby. Back in the day when you could buy ten or twelve tickets to a Cubs night game without planning very far ahead, I would have had a birthday party at the ballpark, and brought a cake. But this year, we just had some people over for barbecue Monday and watched the game on TV last night.

It was a pleasant birthday.