Saturday, September 15, 2012

Still Tied

The good news is the Yanks lost to the Rays. It was like a wake at Yankee Stadium in the bottom of the ninth, as the Yankees, down by only 2, each stepped up to the box and then went right back to his his seat, in a nearly dead-silent building. So Tamps is back within 3 games of New York.

The bad news is the O's couldn't jump into first place by themselves. Another missed opportunity. The A's beat them in a late game in Oakland, 3-2. The O's had two rally-killing double plays in the late innings, and with the tying run at first in the 9th, a fucking caught stealing ends the goddamn game. I really wanted to see the Yanks drop into second tonight. There's always tomorrow. And them losing to the Rays specifically is huge, as I really want two teams battling them.

Red Sox got a win in Toronto in the skirmish for the cellar.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sox, Yanks, Larry David

Lately I've been timing it so I don't have to wait on line for the early entry. I walk up just after the line has gone in, then I walk in, no waiting, and I'm only a few minutes behind. So after getting Anna's Taqueria and parking (they just turned some of my GREAT spots right near the park into resident spots, booooo) for a few quarters, I got inside Fenway around 4:45. And everyone had gone to the Monster, except for these two girls. I had from the camera well all the way to the far end of section 36 to myself. Unfortunately the Red Sox didn't hit any balls to the bleachers. But the Yanks would. More on that soon.

For the time being I could only take pics of Andrew Miller in the late-day sun.

When the Sox finished hitting, the Yanks were still stretching, but their fungo guy decided to hit a bunch of balls out to The Wall for no reason, leaving these guys to eventually go retrieve them.

Granderson appears to be taking a puff of cheeba, as the Yanks are now finally throwing on the field. They started hitting, and a ball went to Ichiro right below me. I yelled down, "Ichiro!" He still was holding it so I gave it one more shot: "Ichiro, up top!" And he turned and lobbed it up!

I made the clean catch. Another Camden Yards ball! I wonder if Ichiro knew he threw a ball to a guy who recently called for his suicide online. By the way, I didn't mean for this pic to be so beautiful, I was just trying to get Ichiro in the background (you can see him all blurry-like just above the ball).

At this point it was still just me and a teenager with his aunt, and they were staying over by 36 while I manned the 34-35 corridor, still with a massive area to myself. Andruw Jones then bombed one toward the camera well. I ran over, easily getting it as it rolled down the stairs between 34 and the well.

Here's ball #2, with the spot I grabbed it in in the background. This was a clean white ball, but, thankfully, no "practice" stamp. I love getting balls with different things on them, but seeing "practice" makes it feel like a lesser ball.

At this point there's another homer to around the same spot, but some guy who may have been a photographer or something got it. He was just sitting there. I could have been way more aggressive and beat him to it, but at that point people knew I was starting to build up a cache, and so I figured I'd advocate for the woman with the nephew. So just as the guy scoops it up, I say "this woman's got a kid who hasn't gotten any...." But then a ball is rocketed toward section 36! So I go flying over there, across all of 34 and 35 and a few seats into 36 and grab the ball just before some older guy.

Giving me this, ball #3. Another stainless new-looking ball. The only discernible difference from ball 2 to 3 in these pics is a little mark on the top right edge of the MLB logo in ball 3. The spot I got the ball is about where my top finger is. As you can see this one went several rows deep. I wanna say it was Jones again but I'm not sure. I got back to my old spot and saw the woman, who informed me that the guy had given her that other ball, and she thanked me.

There were two other near-misses, but believe me, I was fine with a three-ball day. Still, I went to RF for when Ichiro hit, as he's known to pepper that side. All I got though was this pic of everybody shielding their eyes, and more bruises as I lumbered around with three baseballs in my shorts pockets. (I'm up to 25 lifetime balls now. I have been recording them with updates to this post, which I originally wrote when I only had 6 balls, back in 2008. I ended up adding 9 balls in '09 before being shut out in '10, then 2 in '11, and 8 so far in '12. I need one more this year to tie my all-time mark for a single year.)

Got this shot of the Orioles in first place. By this time they had won in 14 innings, so a Sox win would have put the Yanks in second.

Back to the bleachers, here's the blimp from inside the stairway tunnel.

My seat was in the front row of section 35. This sweet spot costs you $28. A concert can cost $100 or more, yet all these parent types keep saying "I can't take my family to Fenway." Fine. I'll take the seats.

I couldn't believe the plane trails. They were so...French Vanilla. Don't overlook that double-trail that runs through the Coke sign.

More trails and the flag.

A sweet vertical one right next to the light tower.

My view on the first batter of the game.

My mom called to tell me Larry David was at the game. I spotted him with my zoom. I didn't know till after the game that Jon Hamm was with him, so the shots I got him in are accidental, but you can see him on the left in his Cardinals hat a little to the left of Larry in the front row.

While everybody stood and clapped for the military guy, I sat and got a better pic of Larry David.

Mid-game I moved to the third base side, and continued getting shots of Larry. Here he is mid-yawn, along with Tom Werner.

The security guy kept opening the door, giving me the perfect full-body view of Larry!

Ellsbury up, as Jon, Larry, Tom, and the dugout look on.

Here's proof I didn't know Hamm was there, as he's half-cut off in this pic of Loney with Larry. Unless you think I cropped it on purpose. But I'm not a psycho.

David cracks a smile next to Werner.

Salty comes up as the tying run with two outs in the 9th, but he grounds out. The final was 2-0. The Yanks scored on a sac fly and a classic Je-turd. So the O's and Yanks remain tied for first.

My 3 balls and ticket. Note the Camden one has a rad grass stain.

And the PawSox are champs! First time they've wont the International League since '84. They completed a sweep of the Knights tonight, and now go on to play a one-game fake "championship" against the Pacific Coast League's champ to determine which team cares less about an exhibition game. Okay, I vote for a parade through the streets of Providence!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Live From Fenway

Got 3 balls in BP! All from Yanks. Look for me in front row, dead CF, directly over the left garage door (Bleacher Bar). A Sox win puts the Yanks in 2nd!

The Producers Volume 6

It's time for another episode of America's favorite documentation of Egregious Jeter Shots, The Producers! Let's watch!

For this one I just let it play out instead of adding wacky commentary or whatever. This is from Monday night. Let's review the scene:

First, keep in mind this is the Red Sox station. It's the ninth. Jeter led off the inning by lining out. Then Swisher singled. They pinch-ran for him, and NESN cut to a scene of Swisher being congratulated as he got back to the dugout. Then A-Rod came up, and had an 0-2 count. So this was a few minutes after Jeter had batted. No one was talking about him. Don went into some game notes about Andrew Bailey as the camera showed him on the mound...then they cut to the batter...and then...

Jeter scratching an ingrown hair on his neck with his thumb!

So let's go back: That cameraman on the first base side had followed Swisher back to the dugout. Fine. Then as the congratulations died down, he stayed focused on the dugout. Almost like a peeping tom in a tree, he opted to film not the game, but Derek Jeter's face in close-up. Or he was told to do this. Because hey, if something happens, they'd like to (for some unknown reason) show us what Jeter and only Jeter thinks of it. That would be utterly ridiculous enough. But on top of that, they also want to show us what Jeter's doing (nothing) if NOTHING happens, which they did, while A-Rod was batting, and the announcer was talking about Andrew Bailey.

I watch a lot of baseball. For the most part, every shot is shown for a reason, usually corresponding with what's going on in the game, and/or what the announcers are talking about. The exception is that our overlord must be shown every so often, or he shall turn us into jack-in-the-boxes. That's the only explanation I can come up with as to why this happens every Yankee game, on every network showing it. (And this wasn't a case of: We're showing a series of close-ups of players to show the drama of the game--every shot was accounted for except the neck-scratch. I almost feel sometimes like it's the cameramen who are addicted to Jeter, and the producer/director will cut to their cam without them knowing just to "catch them in the act" while he laughs at them. That's another theory anyway.)

Bonus Jeter moment: Before the game, during the anthem after the 9/11 ceremonies, both teams were lined up on the foul lines. They cut to a shot of the Yanks, the camera scanning down the line slowly. Jeter became visible, and I said at that moment, "I dare you to keep going down the line and not stop and zoom in on Jeter, I double dare you, motherfucker!" (Imagine a Samuel L. Jackson voice.) Sure enough, that NESN cameraman got to Jeter, felt the electric shock in his Jeter Meter brand TM ankle bracelet, stopped the camera in its tracks, and began a sexy, dramatic zoom into the face of God.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

O's Remain In First, Alphabetically By Team AND City Name

Cook was only Cooked for one inning tonight, but the three runs he gave up had us in a hole. Eventually we would turn 5-1 into 5-4, but with the tying run on first in the ninth, we fell just short. The O's had already beaten the Rays in their last at bat, so they and Yanks remain tied at the top, with Tampa falling 3 back.

I loved seeing Joe Castiglione honored before the game, in celebration of his near-completion of 30 years behind the mic for the Red Sox. Joe is a fellow Connecti-cutioner, and I've been listening to him since he was just that high-voiced "other guy" to my all-time favorite, Ken Coleman. His first year, 1983, was my first year (at age 7) really listening to games on my own (most games were not on TV, just like it still is today in Fairfield County). I mean I've got tapes of me saying "Yankees stink" from much earlier than that, and I was collecting cards starting around '79, and completed the inaugural Topps sticker album in 1981, immediately pointing out that George Brett's picture on the front is reversed as he's actually left-handed, but right around the 1982 World Series was when I started to realize these were actual people running around, not just pictures. Of course I'd been to ballparks before that, but the players looked like ants from my seat. In fact, I learned that expression before I realized what it meant. "Ants? I don't see any 6-legged insects swinging bats...."

The point is, Joe's been a voice of the Red Sox since I started tuning in 30 years ago, so I'm glad to see him get his own day, though he's the type of guy who doesn't want any kind of attention. They had him do a play-by-play of his own ceremonial first pitch, and , in little-kid-in-the-driveway fashion, he called himself as Pedro Martinez.

My mom and Charlie were at the game tonight. They had my 10-game plan bleacher seats, but were able to sit in field boxes all game. In the 8th, when the count went full on Cody Ross (he'd be called out on strikes and lose his shit, along with Bobby V, and several Sox were eventually tossed), they showed a close-up of some fans starting to stand and cheer. As they zoomed out...there was my mom! Right next to the fans who they initially zoomed in on. I got this screenshot after they'd zoomed out some more, as to get Charlie in the shot. They are the two people on the left, with my mom in her red hat:

Finally, the Paw Sox are now one win away from their first International League title since 1984. They went up 2 games to 0 at McCoy tonight.

2013 Schedule Out

The 2013 baseball schedule has been released. (Article; Red Sox schedule.)

The big new thing, of course, is the fact that there will always be an interleague series at any given time, since the Astros will be in the A.L., meaning an odd number of teams (15) in each league. I wrote about the possibilities this would lead to last November, and I kinda nailed it:

So they could do something like: A team plays its interleague games every 15 series, plus have two weekends where EVERY team plays interleague (since Bud obviously likes that). Instead of one interleague series in May and five in June, a team would have, for example, one in early April, one in mid-May, one in late June, one in early-August, and one in early-September. Those would be series where only them and their opponent are playing interleague. Then they'd also have a May and a June interleague series, at which point ALL the teams are doing so (maybe those could be the two "fake-ass rivalry" series).

So my suggestion had 8 interleague series, spread out through the season, with two of them being where ALL teams are in interleague at once, those being the rivalry series. I don't know if they were reading my blog or what, but that's exactly how they've planned it! The two rivalry series will be back to back, home-and-home style. Which is weird as you never play the same team two series in a row in our sport. I guess you do now. And it'll be a total of 20 IL games for each team, four 3-game series and four 2-game series.

I love how they've evened out things for games against your own league. Now it's 19 games against each of your divisional opponents, and two series each (one home, one away) against your non-division opponents, for a total of 6 or 7 games against each of them. So much better than the unbalanced crap.

Looks like our "natural" rival will be the Phils for the home-and-home, but we also get the Rockies twice. Our total IL schedule looks like this:

vs. Phils (late May)
@ Phils (late May)
vs. Col (late June)
vs. SD (early July)
vs. Ariz. (early August)
@ SF (late August)
@ Dodgers (late August)
@ Rockies (late September--2nd to last series of season)

We open the season at Yankee Stadium (Monday, April 1st, unless it's chosen as the season-opening ESPN Sunday night game). The home opener is against the Orioles, and April is a home-heavy month (17 home, 10 away). Of course we'll be playing the Astros twice as they'll be an A.L. team. Our season ends in Baltimore September 29th.

Tonight, Sox/Yanks, 7:10. Get there at 6:30 to see a tribute to Joe Castiglione, who's celebrating 30 years in the booth! (There will also be a special Johnny Pesky thing going on after the Sunday, September 23rd game--you don't need a ticket for that day's game, and you can hang out at Fenway until 9 p.m.!)

Contributing Directly To The Yankee Collapse

Sox win on walk-off single by birthday boy Jacoby Ellsbury. O's tie Yanks for division lead, Rays still 2 back.

This game started with Don telling everybody that the Yankees once had a 9-game division lead. Well, yeah, but they also had a 10-game lead! Why is it important to get this right? Because everyone in the world knows the Red Sox blew a 9-game lead last year (albeit only a wild card lead), and that all we've got left this year is rooting for a Yankee collapse...which would be one game bigger than ours! You have to get that right. That's like saying "the Red Sox came back from a 3-1 deficit in the 2004 ALCS." It's true, but it doesn't tell the whole story.

We also saw Lester get super pissed at the ump along with V early on. But despite getting a lot of baserunners, the Yanks could only put one on the board in the first few innings.

Singles by Ellsbury and Pedroia put us up 2-1 in the 3rd.

Then Lester broke Bruce Hurst's record for most Ks by a Red Sox lefty.

Jeter's cheap-ass bloop ground rule double knocked in two and knocked out Lester. Yanks led 3-2 in the 6th.

Bottom of the inning, Dustin's line drive dong tied it.

Breslow got a huge DP to end the 8th and keep it tied.

Then in the 9th, the Yanks got a man on and pinch-ran Nunez, who was caught stealing. Bailey then struck out A-Rod to send it to the bottom of the ninth in a tie.

After Ciriaco and Aviles got on (Jeter had no faith in his jump-throw, not even trying it on Aviles's grounder), Ellsbury ripped one to right, and Pedro just beat Ichiro's throw to the plate, at which point a celebration ensued, with Jacoby getting kinda pissed at people trying to tear off his jersey.

Tom Caron then started the post-game by belittling the Red Sox and acting like they lucked their way into an ugly win, referring to their late-game hits other than Ellsbury's as illegitimate. So let's review: Yanks score their first run on a ground out, and their other two on a little bloop that even Jeter himself seemed to think was just fouled off. Red Sox score their runs on two three solid singles and a line-drive homer, but just because the two hits in the 9th before Ellsbury's weren't that solid (Ciriaco's went to the outfield. It was a low pitch. If it were Jeter they'd stop the fucking game to present him the clutch-hitting-on-good-pitches-that-you-can't-teach award.), it was an "ugly" win and only Jacoby's hit was "legitimate." After a win like that, it's the time to be happy and complimentary, not the time to be a fucking asshole. I watched the whole post-game waiting for him to refer to Jeter's bloop double as "illegitimate," but it never happened.

Also, the Pawtucket Red Sox took Game One of the Governor's Cup Finals at McCoy tonight. Two more wins and it'll be their first IL title since 1984.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Out For A Morning Spin

Set the alarm for 4:44 Monday morning. By 5:15, as you can see from this picture of my car's radio, it was still nowhere near light out.

I was headed for Lowell, Mass., where legendary baseball snagger Zack Hample would be attempting to set a world record: Baseball caught from the highest point, in this case, a helicopter hovering a thousand feet over the home of the Spinners, LeLacheur Park. He had tried this once before--click here for that story from his blog--and was kind enough to invite me to attend yesterday.

Sweet gas station sign in Lowell.

I got to the ballpark before anybody else, around 6:30 a.m. for the 7:00 stunt. Immediately I was in "pre-updated Red Sox logo" hell. Here's a poem for the uninitiated: "BOSTON in blue, logo ain't new/BOSTON in red, old logo dead!" The big club needs to head out to Lowell and update those. It's been almost four years now. Love that Mystery Machine, though!

Then Mike, the mastermind behind the whole "getting a helicopter and calculating the logistics" aspect of this record-setting attempt, arrived and we got to hang out for a while before Zack and his entourage arrived. Above, Zack on the right, his mom on the left, and two guys whose names I never got in the middle. At this point there was talk of wind, the arch-enemy of helicopter ball drops....

Here we are in the offices of the Lowell Spinners. I'll just get to the big reveal at this point: The attempt was called off. It was just too windy. When you drop something from 1,000 feet over a ballpark in a city with disabled people and babies and disabled babies walking around just outside its gates, you better be sure that object is going to hit the field. When the wind hits a certain speed, there's just no guarantee of that. Mike had to make the call. (I regret not having a photo of Mike--of course I would have taken plenty of him had the stunt taken place. But he can be seen in Zack's post linked above. Mike has done yeoman's work out of the kindness of his heart in these attempts.)

So a decision had to be made about when to re-do the stunt. But first, the more immediate decision to make use of a baseball stadium we had all to ourselves was made.... Above, a sweet wall-sized picture showing the Spinners at Fenway for one of the Futures at Fenway games.

And some Spinners baseballs.

And some offices. It'd probably be pretty cool to work for a baseball team.

And then it was off to....

The field!

Not even the old logos could pry the smile off my face. Fortunately I had my glove in the car, and all of us had a catch on the field, being careful not to eff it all up.

We even grabbed a bat and shagged balls for a few minutes. Of course, I was a little too busy to take pictures at that point, but hopefully some of Zack's pals/mom got some shots of us out there.

But these are some shots I got as we were about to head back underneath. At that point the decision was made to just hold off until next year to try it all over again. Initially Zack wanted to drive back to NY, go to the Mets game, then somehow make it all the way back up to Lowell to try again the next morning. But eventually, to the delight of his mom, the call was made to do it in 2013. But hey, I got to play ball on a real field, so getting up at 4:44 was totally worth it. Thanks to Zack, Mike, the Spinners (fix those logos!), and the whole crew (which included other names you probably know from Zack's blog: Ben Weil (the man with the million jerseys), Zack's girlfriend Robin, Zack's mom Naomi, and his friends Andrew and Dorkys. Was awesome hanging out with those guys. And it actually felt surreal at one point, sitting among all these people who you've already seen pics of in the same stadium but never met in person--it was like being IN Zack's blog!)

Since I was in Lowell for the first time in my life, I had to head up the road to Pelham, NH, to check out the Pinball Wizard arcade, which is fairly new. It was pretty amazing, rivaling the Pinball Hall of Fame in Vegas. Countless (unless you count them) old-school video games and pinball machines. I played Smash TV for probably the first time since 1995, and got 187,010 at a weirder version of Ms. Pac-Man. If you grew up playing all those old games, check this place out. I've never been to FunSpot, so I can't compare, but this place is much closer to Boston/points south.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Thing

That awesome thing I was supposed to witness today? Didn't go quite as planned, but I still had a great time. Pictures and stuff coming soon.

I just got home from the thing, and saw that another awesome thing had come in the mail:

Sunday, September 09, 2012


Yanks beat O's to get split and go a game up. Rays win and stay 2 back. Now the last place Red Sox have to get fired up and do their part to knock the Yanks out of the race, starting Tuesday night at Fenway.

Isn't it weird that the A's have a better record than the Yanks? And the Angels are soaring, too, putting even more pressure on NY to win the division or risk being completely out of the playoffs.

Tomorrow morning I'll be witnessing something awesome. I'll tell you about it when I get home....


Just watched an entire Cornhuskers game I DVRd, a fairly heartbreaking loss, so now, at 2:30 a.m., finally some rain pictures from earlier tonight. Above, weird cloud over Fenway. That bank sign was showing 80 degrees as I recall.

Here's one game shot for you. This was as the rain started to come down.

Gotta hand it to this guy. Sat there with nothing covering his head.

A family sticks around for a while. We had standing room tix but went down tot he front row for the delay. Between the rainy forecast and the shittiness, there weren't many empty seats--until the rain came of course.

From under the umbrella.

The rain got pretty hard for a while there.

More crazy rain.

Got to watch some of Yanks-Orioles on the board.

A lone beer drinks from the sky. And that's pretty much it. Sox lose 9-2, but we were already back in Providence by then. See original post about the experience....

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