Saturday, December 06, 2008

Virtual Wa Rmup

Today, spring training tickets go on sale. In other words, it's rehearsal day. Next week, we'll all deal with the Virtual Waiting Room for real, but today you can work on your chops. Unless you're going to spring training in March, in which case you're actually buying tickets.

Pawtucket tickets also go on sale today, and since I live a few miles from their stadium now, I'll get some of those games. The best thing about the PawSox is they let you choose your exact seat.

Kate's was fun last night. It was a mob scene. Met some good people. Our next signing is December 20th at the Bookworm in West Hartford at 11 AM.

Update, 11:20 AM. PawSox site was very slow, and most "green" seats were gone, but almost all "red" seats (they all cost 10 bucks, but the green are closer) were available, so I got the games I wanted.

As for ST, the one Yanks game sold out by 11:00, but as of now there are still plenty of good seats at every other game--just the fact that I got in without trying very hard is a good sign. I'm really hoping the bad economy keeps people away in '09, and I think this may be a good sign. But it's only spring training. We'll see what happens next week. Remember this golden rule: Try to save money, be responsible, etc., and you'll only end up going to less games. Spend beyond your means, and you'll be at Fenway a lot in '09! You only live once! But seriously, be responsible. Don't buy baseball tickets. That way there'll be more for me.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Evens & Beginnings

Reminder: Mom and I at Kate's in Cambridge tonight at 6:30. Info here.

And nice job by my mom with this letter to the editor.

Next time I go to Guatemala, I'm totally staying here. Think I could get a discount?

Speaking of hotels, I've been saying for years how unprotected they are. I've walked into a thousand hotels in my life, and nobody has ever tried to stop me, ask me if I was a guest, etc. In the wake of the India terror attacks, people are finally starting to wonder if hotels are safe enough. Now, granted, I kinda like that I can go into a hotel and just screw around without anybody saying anything, but I'd be okay with them stepping up the security a little. Not in an "everybody buy duct tape" kind of way, just a general upgrade in hotel security in major cities everywhere.

Looks like OJ is going to jail for a while. Did I ever tell you about how I missed the white Bronco chase? I taped everything that happened on TV between like '88 and '99, but I completely missed that event. I was in Middletown, NY. My friend Trevor had gotten tickets to the Danzig/Metallica/Suicidal Tendencies show that night. By the way, TERRIBLE job by Metallica for doing freakin' medlies that night, as I'm sure they still do today. God, did they get crappy....

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Board-ers

My book is finally on Borders.com! Click here. I was wondering what was taking them so long.... It lists it as a paperback, which is not true. We'll have to get 'em to fix that, but I'm just glad we're finally listed on there.

Lou Gorman sat at the next table from me today in a restaurant. He was back-to-back from me, so I never got a good look at his face, but I'm 99% sure it was him. He talked the whole time about baseball, as Kim and I eavesdropped. When I say "he talked," I mean literally, he was talking while the guy with him said about five words the whole time. I knew it was someone with connections when I heard him mention Oakland's Matt Holliday signing and then say he'd "have to call Bill and ask him about that move." Between that and the classic Lou Gorman accent, I was almost positive it was him. But when I looked him up online and saw that he's a native of South Providence, I upped it to 99%, since the restaurant we were in was literally right at the border of Providence and Cranston, which is just south of Providence. I won't tell you everything else he said, except that Vladimir Putin was involved. Other than that, it was like listening to a speech about all things baseball and Red Sox since the other guy wasn't talking. Pretty cool.

Taz-mania today at 3:00

10 (+ Plenty More) In 2010 (- 1)

I'm psyched for '09. And today, I got the envelope. The one that allows me to renew my 10-game plan, and, more importantly, tells me which games I'll be seeing as part of that plan. Every year it's two Yankee games, an interleague game, and the chance to buy a playoff game. The rest of it's always pretty predictable, heavy on April and September, with one game in each month from May to August. The big question is always which interleague team we'll get. This year, it'll be the Marlins.

I started thinking, Have I ever seen the Marlins in person? I didn't think so, but I still searched for the post I did about which Major League teams I've yet to see in person. Found it. I wrote it before last season, and mentioned I'd be seeing the D-backs, one of the three I hadn't yet seen. I did do that in '08, and the Marlins were another on that list, along with the Nationals. So after this season I'll just need the Nats. Unless I go down to DC to see the Sox play, which I might.

Looking back at that post, I seemed pretty sure about the Brewers thing, but now I don't know--I need to look at my ticket stubs. If I have seen them, then after this season, I can say I've seen every franchise, since I saw the Expos.

Now I gotta work on getting to every stadium. I think I'm at 14 or something.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

This Dustin

Pedroia signed through 2014!

(Note: As Nick pointed out, a new Pedroia story means the same bogus stat rehashed about Ripken/Howard. In the above article, in the AP release, etc. I decided to write a letter to Amalie Benjamin, explaining the whole thing. We'll see if she responds.)

1981 All-Star Game Program

I got this and the '80 World Series program on ebay a while ago when I saw that they each had articles about the fledgling Baseball Bunch. Some pretty good stuff in here. Click to enlarge.

Here's the logo. (By the way, I don't bother with scanning--it's so much easier to take a picture of a picture. But the downside is you get glare or blurriness sometimes.)

I like this big shot of a full Municipal Stadium.

Do you think this is just one horse/rider team in a race? Or is this just what these two were into? Remember, always "horse around" with a lit cig in your hand.

Joe Castiglione worked in Cleveland around this time but his name didn't make it into any of the local ads. This station went all out with the artwork, eh? Let's take a closer look at that sign:

Where's Detroit? And Minny? They've got Arlington in there. Maybe the artist was thinking there were still 12 teams in the AL at the time of the drawing and only made a 12-sign pole, and then filled in the cities, leaving two out. Still, if you're gonna leave two out, I'd have left out the two teams that entered the league four years earlier, Seattle and Toronto.

Apparently this hotel is trying to attract nude families.

So this company decides to use a jersey for their ad. In '81, the popular style was still the pullover vest. Some teams still had or had gone back to the button-down style. But only the Phillies had the zippered look ('73-'86), and for some reason, that's the style they chose. Maybe in honor of the previous year's World Champs?

Some '81 ASG merchandise. Can Cover!

This is interesting. I loved this shot of Bob Boone and Pete Rose, which Mizuno used for their ad. I knew about this famous play from the '80 World Series, but I wanted to read more about it anyway after uploading the shot. I found this article featuring Boone's take on the play. It was fun reading about how that big phony, Rose, really made the play harder than it should have been, according to Boone. But then I get to the end of the article, and look what I find:

The epilogue to the story, Boone said, is that he and Rose both used Mizuno baseball equipment, and the company was going to use a photo of the famous play with an ad campaign that read: "If one Mizuno doesn't get it, another one will."

"But the photographer wanted too much for the picture," Boone said, "and the campaign never got off the ground."


Ha! Maybe it never "got off the ground," but it did exist! And I've got proof.

It's Harold Baines. He was never Hal. I even saw a minor league card of his and it said "Harold Baines."

Remember these Sears jerseys and shorts? Also note the game was scored by whoever owned this program.

And on the NL side, they used a funny-looking boy model.

Nice shot of crowds heading for the Mistake by the Lake. Note racist symbol at top right.

As you know, I love rain shots, but especially extra-awesome ones like this.

Here's Joe Charboneau in his tennis "separates." If you're under 35, you might not know about the Joe Charboneau craze of 1980. Read a little about it here. (#2, below Fidrych, who you should also read about.)

I cut out the shot of the actual fan so it would be easier to read the text. Poor Cleveland, man....27 years later, they're still waiting.

And on the back cover, this guy. Lighting his cigarette with his marshmallow stick. Come on.

Balls

I submitted a picture of all the baseballs I've snagged at games, and their stories, to Zack Hample's Baseball Snagging blog. Me and my balls are Photo #19 in this post over there. Thanks to my mom for taking the pic--three of those baseballs live at my parents' place so I recently had to tote the four from here to their place to get them all in one place. And thanks to Zack for letting his readers put their pics and stories on his site.

And now, the FULL version of my story of how I caught my six balls. I had wanted to do a post like this here anyway--Zack gave me the perfect excuse. Warning: Long nerdy baseball stuff ahead. Here we go:

I've been trying to catch balls at baseball games since I was a little kid. I've never managed to snag one in a game, but I am proud of the six Major League baseballs I've managed to acquire in batting practice. I should probably have more, since I go to so many games, always there when gates open, but I'm usually busy taking photos during BP.

#1, 8/1/89, Twins at Yankees, Yankee Stadium: I'm 13 years old, and my dad has taken me and two friends to the game. It happens to be glove day, but the three of us leave the free, crappy, plastic gloves with my dad as we stand with our real gloves down the right field line along the fence. Twins outfielder Randy Bush hits a rocket shot right at me. I reach out and snag the liner.

# 2, 6/15/03, Astros at Red Sox, Fenway Park: Incredibly, despite my efforts--all those balls that rolled around the right field corner at Fenway that were just barely out of my reach--I've gone 14 years without a snag. But on this Father's Day, again my dad is up at the seats, while me and one of the same friends that was with me for the Randy Bush ball are along the fence, just past Pesky's Pole. A left-handed Astro hits a hooking liner toward us. It takes one hop and I look it into my bare hands. Somewhere I have a picture of the stitch mark on the meaty part of my left palm below the index finger. I only know the Astro in question had a number starting with 1. I'll never be sure, but I've gone ahead and estimated it must have been Jose Vizcaino.

#3, 5/14/04, Red Sox at Blue Jays, (then) SkyDome: Brian Daubach hits a ball over the right field fence, where I'm standing. The ball hits a seated older woman and lands among the seats, where I grab it. I hear her saying "ow" as I'm about to retrieve it, so as I pick it up a row in front of her, I immediately hold it up for her to take. After BP, I give her a wave as I head to my seat and she mouths a "thank you." As I get to the walkway, the teenage boy she's with runs up behind me and gives me the ball. I ask "are you sure?" but he has quickly run away.

#4, 9/22/04, Orioles at Red Sox, Fenway Park: I'm along the fence between Canvas Alley and Pesky's Pole during Orioles' BP. David Newhan is the closest guy to me, and the college kids right next to me are all over him for a ball. He ignores them until the very end of BP, when he decides to flip a ball in their direction as he's running off. I reach up and make the grab to their dismay. They were quite obnoxious--I'm glad I beat them out for that one.

#5, 9/25/07, Athletics at Red Sox, Fenway Park: Since the Newhan ball, I've become big on taking photos for my blog--ball-chasing has taken a back seat. But going to Fenway so much, I know some tricks, and decided I'm going to spend BP going for balls. I plant myself in the right field bleachers while Big Papi's group is hitting. I'm 20 rows up, with not much competition between me and the people waiting up by the bullpen fence. Ortiz slams one into the section to my right. I had to guess which row it landed in, and I sprint down it. Fortunately, before anyone else gets too close, I spot the ball in the row above, and snag it. This David Ortiz batting practice home run ball is definitely on top of my list.

#6, 4/24/08, Angels at Red Sox, Fenway Park: It's Justin Masterson's major league debut. I know I'll be spending a lot of time photographing him as he comes out for pre-game warmups, so I figure I'll go for balls while waiting for him to emerge from the dugout. I'm near Pesky's Pole as Mike Lowell--still on the disabled list but well enough to take some cuts--loops one to the opposite field. It lands somewhat near me, but to my surprise, the two guys in front of me make no attempt to move for it. I bolt for it, jumping rows of seats. One more guy to beat, and he sees the look in my eye and my manic motions and kind of smiles as if to say, You want it more than me, go ahead.

In the picture (on Zack's site) the balls are placed in chronological order from left to right (with 2 and 3 reversed, my mistake), except for the ball at far left, which is the one ball my dad has caught in his life--an in-game foul ball pitched by the Red Sox' Ray Culp and hit by Frank Baker at Yankee Stadium in 1971. It's cool to see the "Mississippi Mud" on it.

One thing I didn't realize until now is that my team (the Red Sox, or, whoever's playing the Yankees) won every game in which I caught a ball...until the most recent one. So I'm 5 and 1. The Red Sox have also gone at least to the ALCS in every year (and only those years) that I snagged a ball at Fenway, going back to '03.

I also got an NCAA baseball at Nebraska. It was an in-game home run, and Darrin Erstad was on the team at the time. It probably wasn't him who hit it. You know that blooper of the ball hit over a left field fence that breaks the window of a passing car? It was that field! In that spot. Ball went over my head and I ran into some trees and got it. It says "Big 8" on it, which is now the Big 12.

The near-misses:

Dave LaPoint hits a hard line drive right at my dad, and it smacks him in the palm and rolls away. I'm 7 years old and ducking down, though I look to see where the ball went, and never saw it. This was at Shea.

Some older kid at Fenway reaches right in front of me (I was probably 12) to catch a tossed ball and then brags, "I've gotten so many balls that way."

A Pirate player attempts to throw me a ball at Shea, but I'm pretty high up and he doesn't reach me. This was in the post 2000-era.

A few years ago, in the mezzanine at Shea, a foul ball hits off the facing of the upper deck and whizzes past me. If I'd turned the other way, I'd have had it.

In the Wrigley bleachers in the late 90s, a home run comes right at us. Gumby really throws the rest of us off by going for it and missing it. We'd later watch his blunder on ESPN.

At Shea Stadium, around the same time, Gumby screws me again when Trot Nixon throws ME a ball, but Gumby, in his Yankee outfit, gets it instead.

The classic: At Fenway, front row, Jim Rice hits one up over our heads, it hits the facade, bounces back, my Yankee fan friend's dad elbows a baby, gets the ball, has to give it to the baby, and on our way out, the baby's dad gives it back to my friend's dad, who gives it to his Yankee fan son.

The modern classic: At Camden Yards a few years ago, I "predict" where Papi will hit a home run, and am mere feet away from getting the ball when he does it. Full story/video here.

This past season: In BP, Vernon Wells hits a ball 1,000 miles an hour and I, in the Monster Seats, stick out my bare hand, which the ball slams off of and bounces to some other guy.

Also this season: A BP ball lands in the bleachers, and it's all mine...if it doesn't bounce over the fence and down below, which it does. While chasing it, I slam my knee into a seat, and it STILL HURTS. This was from the big comeback game in the '08 ALCS.

And many, many, many, more close calls. So I ended up with 6. So far.

Any ball I've gotten since April '04 was also mentioned here on this blog at the time, too. So if you read it at Zack's, then came here and read these stories, but STILL aren't satisfied, search my monthly archives to see the original tales of getting those balls.

I should also point out that I am against using animal hides for balls, and MLB should change this. But catching a ball that's already been purchased by the league doesn't contribute to the ball-making industry, which is why I'm okay with getting balls.

New ball updates:

7. Fenway, 4/26/09, Papi BP dong to CF, ESPN cameraman flips it to me.

8., 9., 10. Fenway, 6/7/09, BP HR ball hit by Michael Young, BP HR ball hit by Marlon Byrd, and another ball Byrd hit, thrown up by another Ranger, which I gave away. All Monster Seats.

11., 12. Fenway, 6/10/09, BP ball by Papi, tossed by Dice-K in CF, BP HR by Papi to CF.

13. Nationals Park, 6/25/09, BP HR by Tek, thrown up by Masterson, RF second deck.


14., 15. Fenway, 7/10/09, two balls in Royals' BP.

16. 7/22/2011, BP ball hit by Mariners' Adam Kennedy

17. 9/13/2011, BP homer hit by Blue Jay (white, lefty, I think) (My team now 10-3 in games in which I've gotten at least one ball.)

18. 4/20/2012, Fenway. BP homer hit by Yankees' Derek Jeter to Monster Seats on Fenway's 100th birthday (10-4 team record)

19. 4/30/2012, Fenway. BP homer hit by Red Sox' Cody Ross to Monster Seats. Ball has Fenway 100th anniversary logo.

20. 4/30/2012, Fenway. BP homer hit by unidentified Oakland Athletic to CF. Ball has Camden Yards 20th anniversary logo. (11-4 team record)

21. 5/30/2012, 5:11 p.m., Fenway. BP homer hit by David Ortiz to CF. Ball has Fenway 100th anniversary logo. (12-4 team record)

22. 7/16/2012, Fenway. BP homer hit possibly by Carl Crawford on Youk's return to Fenway as a White Sox. (13-4 team record)

23. 9/13/2012, Fenway. Toss-up from Ichiro (now a Yankee). Camden Yards ball.

24. 9/13/2012, Fenway. BP homer by I think Andruw Jones.

25. 9/13/2012, Fenway. BP homer by, again, I think Andruw Jones.
(13-5 team record)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Stereotype Pack

I was just saying to Kim how the Red Sox always refer to their Sox Pax as "the popluar Sox Pax." Like they think without that tag we'll all just go, "oh, that's just some ticket package of low- to normal-level popularity--nothing I'd be interested in." I guess it's a marketing thing. Like when I pick up the cat he starts complaining and I tell him, "you LIKE being picked up, remember?"

Anyway, this year's press release is out, with the usual details about Xmas at Fenway (by lottery again this year as I thought) and the Sox Pax, and they've slightly altered the "popular" line. This year, they're described as the "always popular Sox Pax"! Not just sometimes, people.

There's also a new event, the Great Fenway Yard Sale, held on the 14th (the day after Xmas @ Fenway), where they'll sell ya bricks and things. Another lottery-only event.

And every year, I hold the always popular Make Fun of the Sox Pax Names Event. (Remember the "Boomer Pack" controversy?) This year, they're pretty basic. You've got the "day" pax, like "Sunday Best" for four Sunday games, etc. And in the other category, the "named after opponents" pax, you've got really basic ones, like Tomahawk and Brave pax for ones that include a Braves game, and Yankee and Bomber pax for ones with a Yankee game. But there's one weird one: a pack with a Braves game and an Indians game is called the "Noc-a-homa" Pack. Chief Noc-a-homa (knock a homer) was the old Braves' racist mascot, similar to the Indains' current racist mascot. Noc-i-toff!

Orlando @ Celts, 12/1/2008

I didn't expect to get a metered spot around the Garden, but I gave it a shot anyway...and scored one right off Causeway Street, steps from the building. Kim met me there, coming straight from work, so she had to pay 25 bucks for a lot, unfortunately. The street I was on had a one way sign, cars parked on the left, and a double yellow line. Classic Boston. I had to wait in my car for a little while before paying the meter, and I watched two separate cars come up the road the wrong way, like they did it every day. They should call that road "Subjective Street."

I was happy to see Rondo out there before the game. Usually the starters aren't out there. You can also see announcer Mike Gorman in this shot.

Of the fifty shots I took of Rondo, this was one of, like, three, that ended up being in focus. Something about that Garden lighting, man. Damn indoor sports. But I did play with some different settings and got some better action shots at this game.

Patrick Ewing is a coach for the Orlando Magic. Never thought I'd be seeing that guy.

Extra press area, I guess.

General seats shot.

Never saw these green tables before.

A Celtics-ized Bruin.

Our seats were in row four of the upper deck. 10 dollars each. There were a bunch of empty seats at this game.

Garnett and Pierce in pre-game.

Eddie House, as seen through the backboard.

KG in mid-air.

During introductions.

Paul Pierce.

Magician down (at right).

K, Ray, Rondo-lay.

Perk with the slam. The Celts kicked some Magic butt.

...and Lenny Clarke was at the game! ("This is Warner Wolf....")

Lucky Shot?

video

Kim and I saw the Celts win tonight. I'll post some pics later today, but in the meantime, check out this half court shot by Lucky.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Cinco Ocho

It's 58 degrees in Providence on December 1st. Nice. To celebrate New Month's Day, here are some pictures of two soda cans I bought yesterday:

Graf's Cola must've been based in Milwaukee. Here's their can celebrating the '75 All-Star Game--aka the last ASG before I was born.

I was gonna make a joke about the artwork where it says "Milwaukee Brewers," but then I realized that was their actual logo, as seen here. Barrel Man!

Okay, this is a separate can (Graf's root beer), celebrating The Good Land's "Summerfest '75." They had everything, from (faceless) family fun, to country western, to jazz, to my favorite, "rock."

And here's Amazing Larry attacking a snake.

Note: I ended up looking up Graf's because I could. Here's an old ad of theirs. Check around YT for others. "Everyone's goin'...with Graf's." Turns out I was pronouncing it wrong in my head.

This Week On ARSFFPT

*On Friday, my mom and I will be signing copies of Dirty Water: A Red Sox Mystery at Kate's Mystery Books in Cambridge. This is for Kate's annual holiday party, and will feature lots of authors, including Dennis Lehane. We'll be in the 6:30 slot. Full tentative schedule here. (We're not listed as of right now but I have confirmed with Kate that we'll be there--looks like she'll post the final schedule on Wednesday.)

In other book news, our Amazon page now allows you to buy our book plus the Red Sox '09 calendar together at one low low price. (Or those two together with the new JK Rowling book--apparently it's "frequently bought together" with ours! Huh?)

*I'm going to a Celtics game this week--watch for a photo gallery.

*I'll be posting a gallery from the program of the 1981 All-Star Game, which was in Cleveland. That'll be fun. Remember, "Channel 43 and the Indians "GO" together!"

*Joy of Sox has made the finals of the Best Canadian Sports Blog contest. Thanks for your help in getting him there--now go back and vote for him in the final round.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Taz-Mania

This article says that Tazawa will sign with the Red Sox, but that his chances of playing in the majors next year are "slim." Other sources say he may start at the minors, but will come up to the majors in '09. And some people just assume he's major league ready now. But I think we can finally say we've got him--pitchers who are young and good are key....

Jay, Lowe, Etc.

This Cafardicle has a lot of good stuff--Derek Lowe confirming what we pretty much knew, that he's dyin' to come back; the annual Jim Rice Hall of Fame talk (this IS the year--it has to be); and Jay Payton singin' a different tune about the Red Sox. Suddenly he thinks we're totally great and awesome and rad.

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