Sunday, July 31, 2005


Take off your rainbow shades

Jason and I are taking a weekend trip to Phoenix in September (actually, we'll be staying in a motel in Tempe), and it's going to include attendance at a Diamondbacks game...

I bought a pair of tickets on Can you believe a season-ticket holder would want to see the D-Backs play the Rockies so little that they'd be selling these tickets for half-price? (Half the single-game price, that is; there's a big season ticket discount that's already reflected in the price printed on this ticket.)

After the baseball game, Jason and I will be heading for the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe to see the ASU Sun Devils play our beloved Northwestern Wildcats in a game that starts at 7:00, but that's more of a topic of discussion for Football-Related Program Activities.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005


I don't have a wooden heart

Don't ask me why I specifically remember this: on July 3, 2003, Levi and I were at Wrigley Field for a Cubs-Cardinals game when somehow the talk among Levi and his season ticket buddies turned to Viagra spokesman Rafael Palmeiro, and specifically, various baseball terms that had now turned into double entendres where he was concerned. I piped up with "He really got some good wood on that one," which was enjoyed by all. Actually, I probably remember it because it's one of those rare times I managed a bon mot at exactly the right moment, rather than 90 seconds later and after the conversation had gone in a completely different direction.

Anyway, slightly over two years later, on July 27, 2005, Bob Costas appeared on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and used basically the same line.

I've got my eye on you, Costas!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Oh, the butcher and the baker and the people on the street

I can't decide if today's "Zippy" is about the New York Mets, the Cleveland Indians, or Judaism...

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Friday, July 22, 2005


God on baseball

Because I like a good Biblical quote as much as--hell, let's be honest: more than--the next nonbeliever, I enjoyed seeing The Pinstriped Blog making use of Job a couple of days ago. For those of you whose joy in Yankee misfortune rivals Satan's joy in Job's boils, you can instead think of this quote as it applies to yesterday's Cubs bullpen disaster.

“Truly I cannot help myself; I have been deprived of resourcefulness.”--Job, 6:13.

The author also, with thanks to Robert Benchley, gleefully takes Hebrews 8:13 out of context:
"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."*

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005


What do players think?

To tide y'all over until I get around to writing about the Sox/Tigers game a couple of us attended Monday night, I'll point you to the blog written by new Cubs outfielder Jody Gerut. He hasn't updated it in a year or so, but I'm impressed with what's there. He's a capable writer, and he gives some real insight into what it's like to be a ballplayer. His piece on why he thought Hideki Matsui shouldn't have been eligible for the Rookie of the Year award (but because he was eligible, it was right that he won it) is more clearly articulated and sensible than many a sportswriter's position on such matters (I'm looking at you, Mariotti!).

I hope he picks it up again now that's he got a new team and a new town. Maybe he can tell us about becoming a Cub despite his childhood allegiance to the White Sox.

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Sunday, July 17, 2005


They come from Anaheim, Azusa, and Cucamonga, too, for the sewing circle and book review

If it's Saturday, it must be minor league baseball. Sorry, Golden Baseball League, but Jason and I drove to Rancho Cucamonga for a California League game: the Quakes versus the Lancaster Jethawks.

The Quakes' ballpark is called The Epicenter, and it's the home of the happy aisles...

No, seriously, here's the view from my seat...

The Epicenter is new enough to have a fancy-schmancy scoreboard...

And another scoreboard with the team name in lights...

There's a mall nearby -- featuring JCPenney, Robinsons-May, and an Apple store -- that Jason swears was not even under construction yet the last time he was here for a game...

Before the game, these folks threw junk to the crowd...

No, seriously, they hopped off the truck onto the dugout roofs and started dancing. Then there were some cheerleader types who also danced...

Later, Jason asked if I noticed that the cheerleaders seemed unusually voluptuous, albeit not with those exact words. Anyway, Tremor the mascot bothered the umpires for a while...

Then he was joined by the other mascot, Aftershock, and if I recall correctly, they did some dancing...

And then some Cub Scouts danced -- no, I mean they tried to keep the flag off the ground during a solo saxophone performance of the National Anthem...

Jason alertly pointed out that you don't often see minor-league players with their names on the backs of their uniforms. Since the Quakes are affiliated with the Angels, it's entirely possible that they're doing this solely to embarrass the Dodgers ("Ha ha, even our Class A team uniforms have names on the back").

A conference on the mound about the mound...

Which led to the landscapers performing emergency mound surgery...

The final line...

And after the game it was time for fireworks...

Yes, everyone loves fireworks...

For Levi, we've saved the best two pictures for last. Waukegan isn't the only place where there's a statue of Jack Benny (although unlike in Waukegan, here in Rancho Cucamonga, the statue is not located in the public way; instead, it's just inside the main stadium entrance gate)...

And, in fact, Rancho Cucamonga has done Waukegan one better. This is the street the stadium is located on...

So now that I've been to baseball games in both Anaheim and Cucamonga, Jason, does Azusa Pacific University have a baseball team?

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Friday, July 15, 2005


The grass is always greener on the other side, they say

The only real comment I have about watching the Devil Rays-Blue Jays game on TV tonight is that when Levi and I saw the Jays at SkyDome last year, the artificial turf was a brilliant shade of bright green; now that the building is known as Rogers Centre, they've switched to the modern-day artificial turf that more closely matches the color of real grass, yet somehow manages to look much worse on TV than real grass does.

Since that wasn't quite substantial enough for a post, I'll also provide a baseball-related excerpt from Bennett Cerf's 1956 collection of jokes and anecdotes "The Life of the Party"...

Two rooters at a ball game were so engrossed in the contest that neither wanted to take time out to march back to the refreshment bar for hot dogs -- and there wasn't a vendor in sight. They finally bribed a kid nearby to go for them, giving him forty-five cents and saying, "Buy a dog for yourself at the same time."

The kid came back with thirty cents change for them, explaining, "They only had my hot dog left."

Actually, this one is slightly more typical of a Bennett Cerf collection of jokes and anecdotes...

Milton Berle discovered Tallulah Bankhead rooted to a radio in her dressing room one day, screaming her head off for the New York Giants. "Gosh," exclaimed Miltie, "I didn't realize you were so interested in the national pastime." "Darling," snapped Tallulah, "I am the national pastime."

Incidentally, Tallulah wanted some new recipes for her chef to try. She called her favorite bookseller and ordered two copies of Fanny Farmer's Boston Red Sox Cookbook!

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Salt of the Game

Today I offer a toast to a player whom you're unlikely ever to have given a second thought to: longtime bench player Mark Sweeney.

Sweeney, a lefty, was born in 1969 in Framingham, Massachusetts, and he attended the University of Maine before being drafted by the California Angels in the 9th round of the 1991 draft. He was traded to the Cardinals in 1995 and made his debut on August 4th of that year against the Cubs, going 1-4 with an RBI groundout in a loss. He remained a Cardinal until midway through 1997, playing outfield and first base, at which point he was traded to the Padres (for, among others, Fernando Valenzuela). Since then, he's been with the Padres, Mets, and Rockies, with 2005 finding him back in San Diego.

His career batting line is .256/.349/.392, and he's never even 200 at-bats in a season. For his 11-year career, he's hit 27 home runs, or five more than Sosa hit in June of 1998. But all in all, a solid major league career, something to be proud of.

And he's always been a favorite for some reason, a player I keep an eye on every season. Why? I'm not really sure. Part of it's his batting eye, definitely. Ever since the first time I read Bill James back in 1990 (when he confirmed my suspicion that all those walks Jack Clark used to take were extremely helpful), I've liked players with a good eye. I've also always had a soft spot for bench players who do one or two things well and seem, by all appearances, to accept their role. And I enjoy rooting for the Lesser Sweeney, forever playing in the shadow of Mike Sweeney, who, though drafted a round after Mark and making his debut a month later, has been a much better hitter (.305/.377/.498) and a four-time All-Star and has made nearly 20 times what Mark Sweeney has made.

But that's about all the reasons I have. Not a lot, really, but even so, every spring when the Cardinals are stocking their bench, I keep hoping they'll pick up Mark Sweeney. And each year I hope his team will make the postseason, and he'll get a chance at a Tito Landrum-Timo Perez-type postseason moment, forever lodging himself in the memories of some team's fans.

So the next time I raise a glass, it'll be to Mark Sweeney.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Things are easy when you're big in Japan

As I've been going through the archives of this blog putting the old comments into the actual posts (almost done, but not quite), I was reminded of a few things. Spider-Man and Dr. Octopus bringing their fight to, for example. Jason's strange obsession with Calista Flockhart eating hot dogs. Oh, and back in March of 2004, I had expressed dismay that a certain page on was unavailable for sponsorship at that time.

I immediately checked its current status, and, well, is now sponsoring's Tuffy Rhodes page.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Get your game on, go play

My thoughts about the All-Star Game, and Fox's coverage thereof...

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Two more reasons to always read King Kaufman

1) Because he watches dreck like the Home Run Derby so you don't have to.

2) Because if you don't read him--or watch dreck like the Home Run Derby--you miss things like this: "'There's nothing better than a home run contest,' Joe Morgan told Berman, indicating that Morgan needs to get out more."

If I started right this second naming things that are better than a home run contest, at the rate of, say, one per second, I would still be naming things when the sun burns out or global warming sets my hair on fire or the Left Behind novels are proven spectacularly wrong. And that's all before I even start thinking about Karl Rove going to jail, and how much better every second of his sentence would be than a home run contest.

A far better question for our legions of fans: what isn't better than a home run contest?

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Our clique is the world, the world is our clique

I find myself not caring about the international baseball tournament next March -- except for the fact that the players who are going to be in it may not get their full spring training regimen of stretching exercises and appearing on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" (I know, I know, the stretching exercises are not that big a deal). Major League Baseball is pretty international as it is anyway, and will no doubt get even more international once all the Cuban players defect during the international baseball tournament.

Also, since I never watched baseball or softball during the Olympics, I can't get too worked up about their absence from the Games beginning in 2012. But then, I haven't been that interested in the Olympics at all for the past couple of summers in which they've been held. Last summer, we were on the baseball road trip for the second half of the Olympics and I only watched a couple of bits and pieces on the CBC in motel rooms in Detroit and Canada; the first week, I watched some of the opening ceremonies, and then later that week was at a restaurant where I had a good view of a TV showing women's beach volleyball. I didn't care who won, but it made me happy to be heterosexual.

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Monday, July 11, 2005


I heart the base mike

In last night's Cards/Giants game, the last game before the dreaded All-Star Break, the 2nd-base mike caught a great bit of conversation among Lance (Son of Joe) Niekro, umpire Tom Hallion, and Mark Grudzielanek.

Niekro attempted a steal of second, and as Grudzielanek applied the tag, the pair got all tangled up, with legs and arms jumbled everywhere and Niekro's head getting intimately acquainted with Grudzie's crotch. They took several seconds to unravel (It reminded me of the way NFL refs pull guys one by one off a pile.), then Niekro said to the ump, "Was I out?"

"Yeah," Hallion replied.

"Shit," said Niekro.

"After all that," said Grudzielanek.

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Sunday, July 10, 2005


Green M&M's in pie form

While I've been editing the old posts here to include the comments from the old system, I have of course been reading a lot about Hostess Baseballs. So when I took a break and went to Ralphs to do my weekly grocery shopping, I took a longing look at the section that includes Hostess, Little Debbie, and other snack pastries. As has been mentioned already here, 2005 is a year without Baseballs; however, I saw a product there that I had never seen before, and I just had to buy a couple...

That's Lemon Creme flavor on top and Vanilla Pudding flavor on the bottom. There were several other flavors available, including cherry, apple, and Chocolate Pudding. They're made by Horizon Snack Foods of Salt Lake City, so I'm sure they're just as sweet as Donny and Marie.

One problem: I don't think the caricature of Johnny Damon on the label quite does him justice. (Also, that doesn't quite look like a home run stroke, but maybe test marketing showed that a product called Bloop Single Pie didn't sell as well.)

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Nothing's gonna touch us in these golden (baseball league) years

I get a lot of e-mails offering to hook me up with various items and people, from Russian mail-order brides to university degrees. But on Friday, I got one that was a little different: it was from Fullerton Flyers general manager Ed Hart, thanking me for this post, personally inviting me to future games and offering to hook me up with tickets.

What he didn't know is that Jason and I were already planning a trip to Saturday night's game; Jason was attracted by a giveaway of bobbleheads in the image of Coal Train, the coyote mascot. Jason managed to get a couple of other people to join us -- Errol, who he knows from a web site/message board he frequents, as well as Jason's and my friend Rachel, who was more or less filling in for Levi, since she's from a small town in southern Illinois (Clay City) and likes the Cardinals, although she has a full head of hair, eats meat, and doesn't take her shoes off that often. Anyway, I spoke to Ed briefly on the phone, he asked me how to spell my last name, and there were tickets waiting for me at the will-call window, although there were a few moments of confusion when I thought the guy behind the window was asking me for my name, but he was actually asking me for the name of the person who left the tickets for me, which I should have remembered is the more important concept at minor-league will-call windows.

The Flyers were playing the Chico Outlaws again, although since the Outlaws were wearing gray shirts instead of black, it was like we were watching a completely different team. And this time, the Outlaws had a couple of big innings and won 8-2. After the game, Ed Hart was standing by the exit gate, so I introduced myself and we chatted a little bit; turns out he'd just been Googling for mentions of the Flyers and happened to run across

Not too many pictures this time; I posted the "no frowns" portion of the sign at the gate last time, and here are more Golden Baseball League rules...

And here's Coal Train with my other bobbleheads (Fernando Valenzuela, Kirk Gibson, and a hidden Tim Salmon)...

Incidentally, something that made Rachel laugh a lot: the Flyers' catcher was Drew York, and I suggested that when he came to bat with the Flyers needing a hit, or a run, or whatever, that the crowd should sing "It's up to you, Drew York, Drew York!"

Thanks again for the tickets, Ed!

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Saturday, July 09, 2005


Commentators ahoy!

Okay, I have now switched things over to the Blogger comment system, so your ability to comment on posts here should be back for good. Unfortunately, for reasons known only to Blogger, it looks like the oldest posts -- May 9, 2004, and before -- don't have comment-ability.

I am now going to attempt to put the comments from the old system into every post, which is going to be ridiculously tedious. And I do it all for you.


Thursday, July 07, 2005


"It's not the prettiest stadium...but it's very serviceable"

Here's an article from the Tampa Tribune about the Devil Rays and why they're going to be playing in Tropicana Field for the foreseeable future.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Enemies's Page 2 columnist, Dave Schoenfield, has a good piece today wherein he posits that each team has its number-one most-hated figure, be it an opponent, an owner, or an underperforming team member. He then picks each team's Public Enemy Number 1. Though I disagree with him on some choices (Smamy Sosa over Steven Bartman?), any article that includes references to Operation Shutdown, the hideous nature of the D'Backs' uniforms, and Kent Hrbek leg-wrestling Ron Gant in 1991 is a good way to start your day.

Original comments...

Jim: I would argue that, with Barry Bonds a non-factor so far this season, current Dodger hatred goes to GM Paul DePodesta (and to a lesser extent the owner and his wife, Frank and Jamie McCourt).

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Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Baseball turns to gold

Last Friday -- I'm only just now posting this because I was waiting for my DSL to be active before uploading the photos -- Jason and I went to see the Fullerton Flyers play the Chico Outlaws. This is the Golden Baseball League, a brand-new independent league with four teams in California, three teams in Arizona, and one team that doesn't have a home. So we braved Fourth of July weekend traffic on our way to the campus of Cal State University Fullerton (yes, we're in the car pool lane, but it was still slow going)...

We liked it right from the get-go, because while we were in the ticket line, we heard the people in line behind us discussing the fact that you could get 2-for-1 tickets if you showed a Vons or Pavilions club card. Jason did so, and so we got two tickets for $8. (The offer on the web site says you're supposed to have a club card and a receipt, but they didn't ask him for a receipt.) They also handed out free full-color programs including rosters and scorecards -- nothing too elaborate, 12 pages, 5-1/2 by 8-1/2.

The name "Fullerton Flyers" is railroad-related, because Fullerton is a railroad town (they even have an event called Fullerton Railroad Days every year). And the theme extended to the front gate...

Incidentally, here's a close-up of the poster at the gate. Notice what's at the bottom of the list of prohibited items. I'm not sure how they enforce it...

And the concessions trailer has railroad heralds stuck to it, seemingly at random (neither the Rio Grande nor the Pennsylvania Railroad ever served Fullerton)...

And the mascot's name is Coal Train, who is apparently a coyote wearing engineer's overalls. I'm not sure what a coyote has to do with railroading, except that there were a few Road Runner cartoons in which Wile E. Coyote got run over by trains...

Because of the train and the coyote, they have two sound effects, the "train whistle" and the "coyote howl," that are played incessantly over the P.A. system. In fact, "Charge" isn't da-da-da-da-da-da, "Charge!", it's da-da-da-da-da-da, howl.

The Cal State Fullerton Titans baseball team has a weird set of retired numbers in right center. Oh, wait, those aren't retired numbers, those are the years they won the national championship...

The Flyers pitch to the Outlaws...

The Flyers' Garry Templeton II -- son of Flyers manager Garry Templeton -- attempts a bunt...

Jason bought the "medium" size of Kettle Korn, so named because the bag could feed a medium-sized European country...

The size of the Kettle Korn is probably why Coal Train was doing exercises with some kids on the field at one point...

It was Wacky Hat Night, but I didn't manage to get any pictures of the truly wacky hats, just this patriotic attempt in front of us...

And this, which isn't so much wacky as it is a souvenir of the Billy Goat Tavern...

Don't you hate people who talk on their cell phones at baseball games?

The Flyers won 3-2 (I couldn't get a good picture of the scoreboard through the netting to prove this), with the difference being a home run by Fullerton catcher Casey Clary; the attendance was announced as 758. The level of play was similar to Class A in the "official" minor leagues, I'd estimate. One plus of the Golden Baseball League: their "competition," the California League, uses the designated hitter; the GBL doesn't.

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Just one more

All good readers (and writers) are going to and casting their ballots for Carl Crawford of the Devil Rays in the last roster spot in the All-Star Game, yes? Sure, he's no Rocco Baldelli, but then, who is?

In other news, it seems the comments aren't working again, thus making me look like an idiot after I made that post a few days ago. I may have to invoke the nuclear option -- actually, it'll be more of a smart bomb -- this weekend.

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