Saturday, January 23, 2010

Win, Lose, Or Taiwan

When there was a "report" that the Red Sox would be playing in Australia in March, I thought I was hot shit for knowing that it couldn't be true since tickets were already on sale for spring training games, and they wouldn't just blow those off. But now I see the Dodgers will be playing games in Taiwan in mid-March. Sure enough, they already have games scheduled (one at home and one at the D'backs' ST park) for the dates they'll be in Taiwan for, and tickets can be purchased right now for both. I also assume already-scheduled games on the days before and after the Taiwan dates will be affected, too.

So I wonder how they're gonna handle this. And does this mean if the Sox did get the Aussie-invite after other games were scheduled, they would just blow off the original games? I also feel like maybe the Sox will be playing in Australia next year, and that's what that report was supposed to say in the first place. I wrote an e-mail to "Events NSW" and they wrote back and said:

"The prospect of an MLB game being played in Sydney in future years is very much in the preliminary stages"

and, more awesomely,

"Thanks again for your interest. Go the Boston Red Sox!"


Paw Sox party thing was today. Finally met JS of Baseball Heavy in person after all these years! Awesome. Also ran into Mr. Kapstein again and got to chat with him. He told Kim and I he was happy to have us in Rhode Island. And finally I met Jeff Natale, and we talked about how he knows two of my cousins. Pics later. Got home to find more Fenway tix--five tix in this order and again I got Clay and Dustin on every other ticket. So from that and what RedSoxDieHard told me, I think that's how it works this year: every order, no many how many tix is in it, goes back and forth between two dudes.

Fences Can Change

For some reason I decided to pinpoint right when the Red Sox cut down that old wire-screen fence at the front of the bleachers on the bullpen roof. Fans in the first few rows would have to look through it, but now I think maybe only the wheelchair accessible row and the first row of green seats are affected. It also made it hard to stand there during BP, balancing with your arms awkwardly slung over the fence, the top of it cutting into your armpits.

I did mention the cut-down before, but now I know exactly when it happened. From my 6/23/08 gallery:

At far right, under Nikon, you see people hanging over, railing in armpits.

And then from 7/9/08:

Fence now cut down to three-and-a-half grid-squares high. It even looks like the people in the wheelchair/folding chair row are able to look right over it. Here's another view of just how low it is now, from May 9th, 2009:

And two more views of the "old" way, from the 2007 ALCS (see bottom left):

And from April '08:

There were no home series in between those two games, in June and July of '08. So they did it roughly over July 4th weekend, 2008. Your move, Bresciani!

Seems like I was just talking about Conan's first show in his new slot--and it's already over, him going out tonight to Will Ferrell singing "Freebird" with Beck and Conan himself on guitar. I look forward to whatever he does next....

Friday, January 22, 2010

First Tix Of '10 (Spoilers Ahead!)

The tickets look about the same as last year, except for the middle section which now has your area of the park inside a rectangle. Same as usual with the player pics--I got my Sox Pax (singular) and each game had the same two guys for its two tickets, and I got Pedroia and Buchholz. You never know if this stuff means anything, but if they're putting Clay on the tickets, that could be a good sign for him sticking around.

Oh, and same classic gray envelope with white one inside containing the tix (no pocket schedule in mine--but I did get one already, must have been in the letter they sent to me as a 10-game plan holder or something--the little tagline is "162 Save-the-Dates"), and they still haven't solved that problem of the glue on the inside of the gray one sticking to the outside of the white one:

Oh, and the Mets called me! Like, an actual guy from their ticket office left me a message, since I bought tix to Shea-Nouz last season. I was thinking about asking him how they and all the other teams can tell me that it's illegal to resell my tickets but then tell me about their official sponsor, the Internet ticket-scalping agency who tells me to sell them those very same tickets.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Game Of My Life

As you know, I've gotten back into playing Tecmo. Not on the NES, but on a Web site. So I have to use the keyboard, which makes what I'm doing way more heroic in my own mind.

I've been trying to rack up as many rushing yards as possible in one (preseason) game. Even though Okoye is my traditional fave, I've been using Bo Jackson, who mixes power and speed like no other. The discipline: pick a bad opponent, use Marcus Allen to go backwards on one play, then have Bo get as many as he can (leaving room for at least one more first down), before sending Marcus back in the wrong direction again. And on and on.

I finally passed the 1000 yard mark recently. Then I broke through the 1100 barrier. I was 10 yards away from my next goal of 1200. But I felt like I played a near-perfect game to get the 1190, so would I ever get the coveted dozen-hundred? I had to keep shooting for it, so I selected the Patriots as my next opponent.

The Patriots (of 1990) are horrible. Steve Grogan couldn't hit the broad side of a barn from the inside. They also seem to lack a shotgun formation. Guard against the run and you're gold. Sometimes I'll blitz my freakin' safety, I don't care, what's Grogan gonna do, lob one 20 yards over the open man's head? Remember, the better you play on defense, the more carries Bo gets. As for the New England defense, they might as well be trying to figure out the E.T. Atari game out there. A generation of defenders lost in space, with no time left to start again. They rarely even sell out, despite the fact that the Raiders run every time, so you almost always have a chance at a big gainer. Game on.

The Pats won the toss and their tiny captain elected to receive. Under my game plan, my kicker knows to always go for the onside kick. It wastes less time, and even if you don't recover, you're gonna get the ball back with a long field to work with, which is what Bo needs. Well, I recovered. This is the ultimate start to a game. Because now we're starting both halves with the ball, and if a half is played perfectly, you never have to surrender it to the opposition, since the clock ticks so fast. If you're giving them the ball more than two or three times in the game, you're wasting too much time without getting yards.

So I run Bo down deep--you don't go right down to the 1, because then you can't get another first down that possession. You always go to the 22 or the 12. (Keep in mind your strategy also has to include ending regulation in a tie, to get that all-important fifth quarter.) So Bo goes out of bounds (always try to end your runs this way as it stops the clock and eliminates the chance of a fumble) a little bit before the 20 yard line, and then the stoic and under-appreciated Marcus Allen comes in to do the dirty work: go against every competitive instinct in your body and run backwards. Get your ass out of bounds at your own 1 yard line and wait till your name is called again. You think it's easy! Those defenders still try to tackle you! If not for the yeoman's work of the designated Backwards Back, dodging, weaving, and changing directions at sharp right angles, no man would ever sniff quadruple digits.

On this day, Marcus would be lucky--he couldn't get out of bounds, and though he had the ball jarred loose from him deep in his own territory, a Patriots player recovered it and took it into the end zone. This meant I'd get the ball back instantly, in my own territory, and all I'd have to do is score once against the Pats at some point to go to OT. No problem. Had they recovered on the 5, I might have turned off the game, but since they took it to the house, my game plan didn't miss a beat.

So I got the ball back, did my back and forth routine, and finally scored my touchdown in the second quarter. I kicked off, and again recovered the onside kick. Now I knew it was a special game--one in which I would have the ball almost the whole time. I racked up some more yardage, ending the half in a 7-7 tie, with Bo going out of bounds at the Pats' 1 as time expired.

I get the ball in the second half, and continue to play it perfectly. Finally I'm stopped on a 4th and 50 play, and the Pats take over on downs, their first possession of the game. Grogan misfires twice and is sacked once, and the ball comes back to me. Now I know I'm probably going to break my own record, and by a lot, provided I keep the game tied through regulation. I play out the fourth quarter perfectly, again ending with a long run by Bo to the 1. The Pats players, shocked that the Raiders have refused to put them out of their misery repeatedly, actually have a chance to win this thing, despite only three offensive plays and zero positive yards.

But I win the toss. Ran Bo to the 11. Marcus back to the 2. Bo goes 97 yards to the 1 for a first down. Marcus back to the two. The faster-than-real-life five minute clock is winding down. Bo goes to the 1 again, and this time, on 3rd and goal, Marcus only has enough to time to run along the sideline, wait till the clock gets down to 0:01, and step out, setting up Bo for the game's final run.

Now in Tecmo, you don't know how many yards you have as the game goes on, and I'm not gonna add a "remember to keep a rough running tally" note to my wristband. All I knew was that I'd practically played a perfect game, and that Bo had 45 more yards to work with. If the Pats send everybody, there's no escape, and that's it for my yardage. But if they don't, Bo has a chance not only for the 45 extra yards, but the Raiders can win the game. Why would I care who wins, when I'm only going for yardage? Because it's a game. Even Marcus Allen is in that huddle yelling at Bo to keep driving those legs. He did his work, albeit in the opposite direction, now it was time for Bo to finish his. At the end of those 45 yards is not only a sure record, but a sudden death overtime win with no time left on the clock.

Handoff to Bo, same old play (up and A-button)...and around the corner he goes. One little move and he coasts in from the 20. Raiders win, 13-7.

Now it's the moment of truth. I knew I had a new record. And I knew I had 1200, without a doubt. But what would be the grand total?

The stats came up: Bo Jackson--29 carries, 1250 yards. Pats team--no caries, no yards. Raiders passing--no yards. Pats passing--no yards on no completions. Raiders first downs--13. Pats first downs-0. Almost a perfect game. 1250 yards rushing by one man. Zero total yards for the other team. And a win. I could play Tecmo again, but why?

I've looked online for records in this cult classic, but I don't see many individual game rushing records. I may be the grand champion of this stat. Granted, it's "preseason." (The amazing thing about that game was that you could play a full NFL season and it would actually remember where you left off when you shut down the system.) But in regular season, you'd need to play a playoff game to have a shot at unlimited yards, as those games don't end in ties. But you'd be playing against a playoff team. But if you could somehow keep the game tied after every overtime, you could technically play forever, and slowly rack up the yards. Either way, I challenge anyone to beat 1250 rushing yards in one game by one player.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Notes From The Road. Made By Others.

The Red Sox Road Trip began today...and I was at work. But I know people. Meaning I know my girlfriend and my mom. Kim went to Warwick for the first stop. She got there at 8:30. It was supposed to start at 9:00. She said she didn't get out of there until 10:30, because they were late! It was the first stop on the tour! Terrible job. But she got her voucher along with some other stuff. Nice job, Kim. We're now even for the wrap at Cuban Revolution Olneyville and the eggplant parm sandwich at that place that wouldn't take your ATM card.

Then the tour moved to Milford, CT, where my mom was waiting for them. Unlike Kim, my mom had to wait in the cold. And since they were late getting to Warwick, they were late getting to Milford. This time, though, because of the extra wait, they gave everybody two vouchers. Good job, mom. So we'll get six extra summer Sox tickets in 2010. (Unless I go to Vermont or Maine this weekend. Not bloody likely.)

See if your town is next.

Do you think Wally rides in costume? Or does the guy take off the suit and toss it in the trunk at the first rest stop?

On Jeopardy! tonight, there was a contestant named "Bern," short for Bernadette. Her little story was that her parents almost named her after a Red Sox pitcher of the time. Roger? No. Bruce? No. Oil Can! She claimed she would have been "Oil Can" if male or "Oilette" if female. Terribly, the parents backed out at the last second. Granted, Oilette is a ridiculous goddamn name, but to be able to say you were named after Oil Can Boyd? Worth it!

Guess what arrived today? A certain box full of cardboard squares possibly containing some profanity that could be yours! Enter now.

Can I Help You?

Here's one for ya.

Kind of reminds me when that dude in Run, Fatboy, Run took a bath at that party.

You Will Jog For The Master Race

...And Justice For All was one of the first compact discs we owned. My sister's boyfriend at the time was a California transplant. Besides handing me down his "old" snowboard--which was possibly the east coast's first snowboard, not including "Snurfer"--he gifted my sister a bunch of little foreign discs that we had no way of playing. Slick Rick, the Pump Up the Volume Soundtrack, NWA...and Metallica's last underground hurrah, before Bob Rock told Lars to completely overdo those cymbal crashes and James to go ahead and let his "feelings" out, no gun-to-head necessary when you've got the lure of a pop star bank account.

For some reason, an odd thought I had at the time, two decades ago, stuck with me. "This song," I decided, referring to "Shortest Straw," "would be perfect to jog to." Now called "running," jogging was something I'd never do willingly at the time, only when a stubborn old gym teacher or baseball coach would force me to as he stood motionless with clipboard. But still, I knew that song would be perfect for methodically stomping pavement.

For Christmas, which we atheists like to call "More Stuff? Day," I got Kim a treadmill. I dabble in running these days, and while I don't mind doing it outside, Kim prefers a more controlled workout. So after surprising myself by successfully surprising her (have you ever tried to hide a treadmill?) on MS?D morning, I got that thing--and Kim and me--up and running. Twenty years after making my claim, I threw on Metallica's ...And Justice For All, set it to "Shortest Straw," and hit the artificial road.

And I was right.

After wearing out that cd--in these final days of cds, and yes, it's the same copy all these years later--I decided I needed new running music. I figured the Dead Kennedys a good choice, and I was right again. That album with their two biggest, well, their only two songs that your average Josephine would have any chance of knowing, "Holiday In Cambodia" and "California Uber Alles."

So for the last few runs, I've been listening to the great Jello Biafra singing about the horrors of what life would be like under a certain president named Brown.

Senator Brown isn't going to turn you into a drawstring lamp. He won't even send the suede-denim secret police to come for your uncool niece. In fact, today's election wasn't even about Brown or Coakley. But with the Republican taking the seat, this country is headed back in the wrong direction, and I think it's all about race. How do you get a bunch of racist yahoos to vote? You don't tell 'em a black guy's running, you tell 'em a black guy's already in.

Am I oversimplifying? Maybe, but you can't tell me it's not a factor. People can yell and scream about how much they'd prefer to have giant corporations in charge of their health care or how much they want the government to stop taking the money they don't have and the guns they do, but you don't have to read their signs too carefully to realize they mainly want "the opposite of what the black guy wants."

So what do we have here? First, a dead Kennedy. Then, a short straw. And in the end, hopefully justice for all. See what I did there?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

No Last Ups Necessary

I'm watching this show on MLBN called MLBN Remembers, narrated by Bob Costas. Just a bunch of wacky highlights--the type of show that used to be on a lot when I was little. Good stuff, even if most of it is stuff I already know about. But this is the type of shows kids should watch instead of ignoring everything that happened before their memories began.

Anyway, terrible job just now: Costas tells the world that Ted Williams hit his homer of the Eephus pitch in the bottom of the ninth. In a game he just told us was a 12-0 win by the home team. I admit I couldn't have told you which inning of the '46 ASG that home run happened in--but I could have told you it wasn't the one that didn't happen.

Eighth inning, guys.

The Question On Everyone's Mind

I love the headline of this article. (Also note their first line is a question ending in a period.) It would be a shame, Conan without all those characters. But I'm sure they'll come up with new ones. And as long as Smigel stays on board he can voice them.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hail Dummy

Heard talk of Roger Staubach (who I once saw in the food court of the Danbury Fair Mall shooting a commercial) inventing the term "hail mary pass" in 1975. Did a little research and found that it was used before that Vikes-Cowboys game, but I also saw that Staubach himself said it the previous pre-season, so maybe he did coin the phrase. But who cares about that--while researching, I came across this pic of a kicker practicing field goals with a big dummy simulating the defense:

Bronson Arroyo's # Being Retired

It's at his high school, but you take what you can get.

Meanwhile Wily Mo Pena's high school is still promising a world-class theater/gym/biodome but construction has yet to begin. The upside on this thing is HUGE, though, so stay tuned.

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