Friday, July 27, 2007

Stitching, pitching, packing, etc.

I'm still alive. I went to the game tonight (with a bunch of female friends for a change), and the Mariners lost (also for a change, making my record 16-5). I'm really sorry. My guess is that my magic didn't work because I was sitting in row 25 of a 300-level section -- my first time ever sitting that high -- and I actually knitted four rows of a scarf -- and hey, something else I just realized, the Mariners haven't actually won a game on Stitch'n'Pitch night in the last three years. I have some pictures which I'll maybe post later if I have time. Right now my USB cord is taken up with backing up files to a portable hard drive, and I forgot to get pictures off the camera first.

I've been frantically getting rid of stuff all week and/or packing things into boxes, or trying to do last-minute random shopping and such. I'm leaving town on Sunday. I have a ticket to Saturday afternoon's Mariners game, but I'm not sure whether I'll go. I was thinking I'd drop by at Churchill's party on Saturday too, but it also depends on how frantic things are by then. There's a chance I'll get to see the Aquasox play while I'm in Vancouver for training, actually...

I hope the Mariners aren't losing because I've been ignoring them the last few days, or we're all in big trouble, because I'm not sure how much I'll be able to keep up with baseball per se for a while. And then none of them will have any hair left. I heard Weaver has to shave his head for not getting a win tonight, after getting left out of the initial hairdo party...

I watched part of the Hawks-Marines game a few nights ago. It bugs me that I can't come up with a pitching matchup in the MLB that intrigues me the same way a Kazumi Saitoh vs. Shunsuke Watanabe matchup does. Funny part is, that might actually be more because there's just no equivalent of Watanabe right now -- a true submarine starting pitcher. Or am I just totally out of the loop lately?

(PS - If you know me in person and haven't gotten to say goodbye to me and want to, drop me a line in email. I'm having a non-goodbye non-party on Saturday night, and there's also a chance that I'll go to the game on Saturday afternoon.)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Knockdowns and coneheads

(Just an excuse for me to post some photo links.)

Last Tuesday there was a scuffle during the Buffaloes-Marines game; it seems that in the first inning Greg LaRocca got hit by a pitch and wasn't too happy about it, and when he grounded out to first in the next at-bat, he clipped Naoyuki Shimizu, the pitcher who was covering first. Next at-bat is Tuffy Rhodes, who gets a ball high and inside, and somehow ends up trying to beat up Tomoya Satozaki, the Lotte catcher.

Photo here. You know, I like Tuffy and all, but nobody punches my Satozaki and gets away with it.

Anyway, the second picture to share is from the all-star game. I'm sure everyone wondered exactly what Hichori Morimoto was going to be up to this year, after dressing up as Piccolo from Dragonball Z at last year's all-star game. It appears that this time around he dressed up as a Conehead of some sort, shown there posing for a picture with LaRocca. I get the impression he didn't keep this costume on for the whole game this time, though.

Third picture: Nobuhiko Matsunaka shaking hands with Randy Bass. I don't know why I found this funny, I just did.

As for the All-Star games themselves, if anyone's curious, the Central League plastered the Pacific League in both games (english boxscores provided via my translation scripts!):

Game 1: Central 4, Pacific 0
Game 2: Central 11, Pacific 5

This is kind of odd, because the Pacific League has been owning in interleague play AND in the last several Japan Series, so you'd sort of expect them to win the All-Star games too, wouldn't you?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday Foto: Just One of the 10,000

Yeah, I know, I still haven't written up last Saturday. I suck. I've been buried in stuff and trying to pack or toss everything I own. Does anyone want a bunch of baseball cards?

Anyway, while going through old stuff I found a few old photos and scanned them in. They suck, but in honor of the Phillies losing their 10,000th game a few days ago, I felt like contributing a story to Celebrate 10,000, from just one of the many losses I saw:
It was 1993, and my friends and I decided to go to a Phillies game together for the heck of it. We were all in high school, and in that obnoxious phase where we all wanted to be on the big screen. So we bought a bunch of GA tickets for $2.50 or whatever they were back then, and sat way up in the 700 level, and painted up a big sheet that said "PUT US ON TV AND THE PHILLIES WILL WIN".

They didn't put us on TV. The Phillies didn't win.
And here's the pictures from that day, which I just found:

I wish I knew what game this actually was, but alas. All I remember is that it was late 1993; and the seats are yellow and the stadium's crowded, so that'd make sense.

You know, I'm not actually sure I've ever brought signs to the park aside from that game and this past week's Raully Fries. I must be forgetting in my old age.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Game Report: Mariners vs. Orioles - Raully Fries of London!

I don't even know where to start when talking about this game. It was another BECU night, which made it another LL Night. The original plan was to go for Section 340, Row 15 again, which was a nice empty patch of seats during the last LL Night, another Orioles game on a Monday at the start of June. However, that was before the Mariners had started to win games -- or more like, before the rest of Seattle actually noticed. This time, preliminary reports coming in from people buying tickets were that the middle rows of section 340 were actually already full. I even ended up with a ticket in row 17, so it seemed imminent that we'd be moving back a bit.

In order to facilitate people finding the LL group, I figured I'd make a sign. Paul suggested I make a Rally Fries sign. I'd called the game "LL Nights of London" as a joke since Graham, our esteemed colleague from the UK, would be at the game, and people on LL append "of London" to various things during Ibanez at-bats. I ended up making a sign that said "AH-OOOOO, RAuLLY FRIES OF LONDON", thus combining about three silly jokes into what I thought was one decent joke.

It turns out I got on TV not once, but twice! Watching the broadcast, it seems that they first showed me at the start of the bottom of the fourth inning (at about 1:37 on the broadcast), just with the announcers laughing like "A-ha... Raully Fries of London?" and you can see the top of my head.

The second time was during the bottom of the 5th inning, when Raul Ibanez was up to bat, at about 1:57:30 on the broadcast, and the announcer's like "Raully fries! You betcha. That's playing off the Warren Zevon classic, 'Werewolves of London'..."

And they said they'd give out the rally fries in the next half inning, and sure enough, I didn't get them. They went to a cute little kid in the lower deck. I can't feel too bad about losing to a little kid.

So, rally fries aside, it was pretty crazy hanging out with our LL group. Besides me, there was Gomez, Marc W, Matthew, Graham, Bretticus, Etowncoug, Twolsandtwors, PositivePaul, jtopps, and marinerschas2. Rather than try to recount all of the stuff we said, especially since I missed a bunch, I'll first link to the pictures/videos thread about the game on LL.

Horacio Ramirez started for the Mariners, on his way back from the DL, and a high-socks-wearing lefty-throwing Brian Burres started for Baltimore.

As expected, we started off the game by heartily booing a high-socks-wearing Brian Roberts and yelling things like "E-4!" and "Hit him for JJ!" The Orioles went down meekly in their half of the first, and the Mariners scored a run when a DHing Ichiro doubled to lead off, stole third during Raul's at-bat after Jose Lopez failed to bunt him over and scored on another groundout by Raul. 1-0 Mariners.

In the top of the second, after Aubrey Huff grounded into the first of his double plays for the day, Ramon Hernandez hit a 345-foot home run to left field. It really didn't look like a home run at first, and the guys were all yelling "ADAM JONES WOULD HAVE GOTTEN THAT" and so on, but really, the ball landed in the lap of some guy in the bullpen. That tied up the game at 1-1 as Horacio Ramirez made a diving snag of a grounder off Jay Payton and threw the ball to first from a prone position on the ground.

Nothing much happened in the rest of the second or in the third, aside from Jason Ellison showing more why he is the master of the infield single, and then getting tagged out stealing second.

Amidst cheers of "Gomez sucks! I mean Chris Gomez, not you," Chris Gomez led off the 4th inning with a triple to right which just sort of bounced all over the corner eluding Jose Guillen. Nick Markakis hit a "single" to first, by which I mean he hit a single towards the right side of the infield, and Richie Sexson came in to get it, and Horacio Ramirez didn't go cover first, so Markakis was safe and Gomez scored. 2-1 Orioles. Kevin Millar also got a single, but then Aubrey Huff grounded into his second double play of the day, this time a 1-6-3. Ramon Hernandez hit a long fly ball to left rather than another home run.

The Mariners tied it up in the bottom of the 4th, Jose Guillen doubling and Richie Sexson singling him in, to make it 2-2.

The game stayed tied until the bottom of the 6th. Jose Guillen led off with a single, and then we all got up to do the Rally Dance for Adrian Beltre's at-bat. It was a drawn-out at-bat and we even had these little kids a few rows down doing the dance along with us. (They seemed to think we were going to get on the big screen being goofy, and I don't blame them.) Unfortunately, the rally dance only induced Beltre to ground into a double play. I like to think of this as a weird form of karma though, because right after that Richie Sexson walked, and Johjima singled, and then Yuniesky Betancourt BECAME THE YUNI-BOMBER except not. He hit a looooong fly ball to left field, which bounced off the top of the yellow line at the top of the outfield wall. Now, I mean, I think that's a home run, but apparently the umpires didn't. Either way, it was a double, scoring the other two guys, and making it a 4-2 game.

Nothing much happened on the field for the rest of the game, but plenty of silliness happened up with us. We all cheered a ton when Sean Green came out to pitch the 8th, and when George Sherrill came out after that we started a big chant of "GEORGE. GEORGE. GEORGE. GEORGE." and so on. JJ's appearance, of course, had us all yelling things like "Putz wooooooo!" and "Putz in, game over!"

Which, of course, was the case, as JJ easily retired the side in the 9th so the Mariners won the game 4-2. And this brings my Mariners-watching record to 16-4!

I was actually on the big screen at the stadium in the 7th when Raul singled inbetween the rest of the side striking out. And of course as soon as Brett realized it, he jumped up and put his "Free Adam Jones" sign in front of mine, and they immediately stopped showing us, of course.

We all stuck around for a while after the game and chatted. While I haven't really gone into great detail about all of the silliness -- the Rally Dance in the 6th inning had me laughing so hard that I was crying -- it really was a blast hanging out with the gang. It figures that we'd start having these great semi-regular meetups right before I leave the country, but hey, that's the way things go. In some ways, though, it's nicer to move away on a high note rather than a low note. But it's going to kill me if the Mariners actually make the postseason...

I still need to write up Saturday's game and the cafe, I know. Sorry, I've been sort of going crazy getting my act together here.

Oh, a funny little tidbit: when I walked up to the ticket booth to get my ticket for the game, I noticed the guy had two stacks of 2002 Topps baseball cards, and the top of one stack was of Ryan Rupe. You probably haven't heard of Rupe because he's not a particularly good pitcher, but I actually managed to see him pitch in Japan in 2004 in one of the 6 games he played for the Fighters, and he only gave up one run in something like 6 innings (but got a no-decision, the Fighters didn't get ahead until the 8th inning). Anyway, I see the top card and I'm like "I know I'm not a little kid, but can I please have that Ryan Rupe card?" The guy's like "Who?" and I'm like "Ryan Rupe! He's not a great pitcher, but I saw him play in Japan!" The guy's like "Uhhh, okay, whatever" and gave me the card and my ticket. So now I have a Ryan Rupe card, for whatever that's worth, which is probably very little.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hit it Here Cafe Photo Tour

Panorama of the view from our table in the Hit it Here Cafe.

I'll have a fuller game report about Saturday night's game up sometime later today/tonight, with more details about the cafe (which I'll probably add to this entry too), but for now, enjoy my Hit it Here Cafe pictures! They include things like a picture of the drinks menu and food menus, too.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Game Report: Mariners vs. Tigers - Slide and Seek

It occurs to me that if I listed all of the players that I've seen JJ Putz strike out to end a game, it'd really be a pretty impressive list. Barry Bonds and A-Rod immediately come to mind, of course, and today Magglio Ordonez also joined that list.

Still, this was a pretty crazy game overall, and a good way to get back to Mariners baseball. Plus, now I'm 14-4 in games I've attended! It was also a fantastic night weather-wise, cool and in the 70's, especially after that 96-degree day on Wednesday. On the other hand, due to two extremely crazy plays, this may have been a better game to take in on TV, just so one could see replays and hear the commentators. I'll explain in a second.

I didn't show up for batting practice due to finishing things up at work -- my last day is tomorrow -- but I did show up to see Andrew Miller warm up. He's really tall, and his motion is pretty swift, it's hard to pick up specific parts of it at first glance. After watching Miller, I also watched field warmups from row 1, and what do you know, Curtis Granderson came over to sign stuff for some kids, so I went over too and got his autograph, and said "I really like your web page, Curtis!" and he smiled and said thanks. To be honest, I actually only check his blog out every now and then, but I know what a pain in the ass it is to write in a baseball blog all the time, and so I feel an obligation to let players who do it know that their efforts are appreciated. Curtis seems like a pretty decent guy.

Andrew Miller
Some tall lanky kid who's still almost a year older than Felix.

Short version: Curtis Granderson was batted in by Magglio Ordonez in both the first and third innings, but those were all the runs that the Tigers could get. The Mariners had trouble getting anything off of Andrew Miller, and scored all of their runs in the 5th inning on a play that people at the ballpark couldn't really make heads or tails of, but essentially Adrian Beltre managed a bases-loaded bases-clearing "single", and that gave the Mariners a one-run lead over Detroit, which they fortunately kept all the way until JJ Putz struck out Magglio Ordonez to end the game with the Mariners winning it 3-2.

Long version: Well, let's see.

Right before the game, there was a highlight reel shown of Ichiro's All-Star appearance on the big screen, and they had him take a curtain call for the Seattle crowd. I thought that was a pretty nice gesture.

There was a female announcer doing the game as part of "Girls Night Out", whatever the hell that means. Being as I don't come to the park to get my nails done or have a makeover or whatever -- I come to watch a goddamn baseball game -- I really have no clue what the promotion was, other than that they had some random women come out onto the dugout near the 7th inning like "Lookee at our makeovers wheeeee!" Whatever. I liked it better last year when Girls Night Out involved a free pastel blue Mariners visor, which was actually nice enough that I've worn it several times.

The Tigers got off to a hot start with Curtis Granderson singling, and running to second base on Thames's grounder, so that even though I have it as a 6-4-3 play, it wasn't a double play as Granderson beat Lopez to the bag. Gary Sheffield stole a base (hell, later he stole another base. I think he wants to prove that he's not old), and Ordonez grounded out, scoring Granderson.

In the Mariners' half of the first, Jose Guillen managed something that was scored as "singled to catcher", and my friends even asked me about it later since they were late to the game, and I had to explain that it meant the ball was on the ground and buntlike in front of the plate, but Andrew Miller fumbled fielding it. Not sure why they called it to catcher, honestly.

That error aside, Andrew Miller seems like a pretty good pitcher, with a nice mixture of 96-97 fastballs and lots of random breaking stuff. I see now why people made such a big deal about him.

Third verse, same as the first -- Granderson doubled, hitting a hard line drive to centerfield which Ichiro ran after and did a leap for but missed. Sheffield walked, and Ordonez hit a Baltimore Chop which bounced high over the left side of the infield, and by the time Beltre fielded it, Granderson had scored.

Beltre's first taste of the WTF factor surrounding the evening came in the fourth inning, when he first struck out, but the ball got away from Pudge and it was ruled that he advanced on a wild pitch. After Johjima struck out, Beltre stole second during Yuniesky Betancourt's at-bat. Or more like, they threw a pitchout of sorts, except Pudge Rodriguez threw the ball over Omar Infante, so Beltre was safe at second, and then also ran to third. Which would have been the end of it all, except that Pudge started arguing that Betancourt was in his way of the throw, and wanted the umpire to rule that it was interference, except the umpire wasn't having any of that and tossed Pudge from the game, and so Mike Rabelo had to come in spontaneously to take over behind the plate.

Mike Rabelo
When I took this picture I didn't know who he was.
Imagine my surprise when he ended up in the game.

Seriously, I had no clue who Detroit's backup catcher was, because Pudge is so well-known and plays in so many games anyway. I knew it wasn't Vance Wilson anymore, at least. Funny thing -- do you remember who Detroit's backup catcher was before Vance Wilson? He's definitely someone you've heard of, but you've probably forgotten that he was a catcher back when the Tigers were abysmal.

Rabelo came out and the rest of that half-inning passed without any further strangeness, and aside from Sheffield stealing another base, the top of the fifth passed uneventfully as well.

Then came the bottom of the fifth, which involved a lot of weirdness.

The fifth inning started off the same way the first and third had -- with Ichiro making an out and Jose Vidro getting a single and Ibanez making an out. Fine. But then rather than singling, Jose Guillen walked. And then Richie Sexson also walked (right after my friend asked "does he ever do anything besides strike out and hit home runs?"). So with the bases loaded, Beltre hit a single which scored Vidro, and Ordonez threw the ball home not in time to catch Jose Guillen scoring, and then all hell broke loose.

As far as I could tell, Rabelo threw the ball to second to try to get Beltre, who advanced after the throw home. Beltre, for his part, slid so far into second that he ended up almost in the outfield, and when Carlos Guillen came up with the ball, Beltre started playing a game of cat and mouse, evading the tag. In the meantime, Richie Sexson scored as well, making it 3-2. After Carlos Guillen failed to tag Beltre, who had been called safe at second, Beltre broke for third, and was called safe there for real. Which pissed off the Tigers again. Kenji Johjima started to come out to bat, but then Carlos Guillen went with the ball and stepped on second base and appealed to the umpires, saying Beltre never touched the bag. Which, on replays several hours later, I can totally believe. So the inning was over, but the runs scored. I gave up on trying to score it and just wrote a single to right and a "?!?!?!?!" for the out designation.

And yeah, that turned out to be the game. Miller came out after 5, and Felix came out in the middle of the 7th -- while a whole bunch of idiot fans were doing the Wave. I took great delight in telling my friends about Sean Green's Magical Sidearm, and we actually took some great delight and amusement in watching Macay McBride strike out the Mariners' side in the 7th for a 1-2-3 inning. I explained why we all think George Sherrill is cool, right as he got taken out after one batter due to Craig Monroe pinch-hitting for Sean Casey.

I also explained the bullpens, and one of my friends ran down there to watch; he got to see Zach Miner, Eric O'Flaherty, and JJ Putz warm up. Since he's a Yankees fan, he doesn't usually get to see pitchers warm up so close, so he thought it was awesome. It got me thinking about how there's a lot of things I really take for granted at Safeco Field, and that I'll miss once I move away.

JJ Putz pitched the ninth, and he rules, and that was that.

The buses got majorly messed up and we ended up waiting for a good 40 minutes for a bus back to Ballard -- yes, we took a shuttle uptown, before you say anything, I've been bussing to/from Mariners games for 5 years now, I know the routine. Either way, another thing I was thinking about was how crowded this game seemed -- all of Box was filled, most of Field was, the bleachers were sold out, so the only majorly empty area was in the upper decks. Pretty crazy. I know there are a lot of Tigers fans, sure, but you know, the Mariners are actually winning games, which means that a lot of people may actually start coming back to the stadium.

It's funny, because I actually like a nice empty stadium where I can run around and do whatever I want, and it's never tough to get tickets, and so on. So part of me is glad that I'll be moving away before the late-season crowd madness starts, especially if tonight's proliferation of loud drunken people and The Wave were any indicator. On the other hand, if the Mariners do make the postseason, it'll just prove once and for all that my presence in a city is ultimately death for a team. No, I can't really explain my 14-4 record there this year -- though even in the worst of their losing years, it's still seemed like my personal record's been over 50%.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Dodgers and Dragons, Part 2: Improved Unarmed Strike

Sunday, July 8th. Mariners 7, Athletics 3. Continued from part 1... kind of.

"It's really nice of you to take over running the campaign from Grover, Mac," Willie was saying as he grabbed the bag of chips. "He never let my character come along for any of the good adventure hooks."

"That's because Bloomquist of Bremerton isn't actually USEFUL for any of the good adventure hooks," muttered Richie.

"Anyway, where were we?" asked Jason. "I think I was, you know, kicking ass and taking names?"

"Sadly, Friar Feierabend fell to -10 hit points a few rounds ago," replied McLaren. "So he's out of the campaign for a few days until you find someone who can cast Raise Dead. Let's see... right, you guys are still fighting the evil demon Cupcakes, Destroyer of Worlds."

Willie giggled. "I'm so glad we've levelled up to the point that this thing isn't hard to beat anymore. Remember those sessions last year when he totally owned our party?"

Jose nodded. "Lopez Lightbringer has such a big bonus to his sneak attack damage now that he just waits for the right moment to strike big rather than trying to chip away."

"Yeah, that was a nice shot you got off against him earlier, dude," said Jason. "Was that for full damage?"

"I think so. He's probably getting low by now, a couple nice cuts should finish him off."

Jason picked up the dice and rolled. "I know I've been rolling really well today," he said, looking at the result. "Good thing I've got that +2 Mace of Demon-Slaying! I just barely hit again."

Ichiro nodded. "My wizard casts Scorching Ray and sends one out to the right."

Jose took a d20 out of his bag. "I'm going to try to sneak attack again, okay?" he said. "Hmm... I succeeded on the hit, but I rolled really horrible for damage. How's the Cupcakes Demon looking? Not dead yet? Still hurling white spheres at us?"

McLaren looked at the notes behind the screen, and grimaced. "I can't say anything," he replied, "but you have definitely pissed it off."

Raul pondered this for a minute. "Okay," he agreed, "I'm going to try a Power Attack for 3 points. That should take it out."

"Roll it."

The die landed on the table. "YES!!!!" shouted the whole party. "Nice hit, Raul!"

MacLaren rolled some dice behind his screen and scribbled a few things down. "I have good news and bad news for you guys. The good news is, you've disarmed the Cupcakes Demon's supernatural powers..."

"...the bad news is?"

"The bad news is that it's charged down in a blind rage and is attempting to engage the party in unarmed combat. He shoves Ichiro's wizard for," he paused to roll, "2 points of damage."

Jason stood up and banged his fists down on the table. "No way," he said. "No. Way. Ellison Elvenmoon does NOT take that sort of shit from anyone, even overweight puddles of green and gold goo. I shove it back."

"Nice, dude!" said Richie. "I totally back you up here!"

"Cupcakes is summoning help," said McLaren, "and a whole horde of green and gold goblins appear and come to his aid." He rolled some dice. "He also shoves back Ellison but does no significant damage."

"Bah. I'm not afraid of him. I shove his ass."

"Uh, okay, you get a bonus to hit for the size modifier when a Small creature attacks a Large creature, but you take a penalty for the unarmed attack..."

"I attack a goblin too!"

"Yeah, me too!"

"I've got improved unarmed strike! Let me smack it!"

"What do you mean I'm small?"

"When's it my turn to hit? Sexson Stormblade wants to mash!"

"Guys, guys," said McLaren, "Settle down. I can't run this game if you're all jumping all over the place at once."

"But I swung my fists at the--"

"I wanted to attack a--"

"AAAACK SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP." McLaren stood up. "An Umpire Spawn materializes and casts Mass Domination on the entire melee. He points a Finger of Death at Cupcakes, who immediately falls over, and is carried off the battlefield by the green and gold goblins. Meanwhile, you all need to make a will save or also immediately start walking off the battlefield."

"What? That's so unfair."

"Will save. Now. Also, the Umpire is starting to point at Ichiro's wizard."

"Uh, crap, we can't have Ichiro die," said Richie, as the whole group failed to make their saving throws. "Can't you do something about that?"

"Well, okay, I guess it'd be really bad for the campaign storyline for that to happen. How about Batista the Brainy? He's pretty useless."

"WHAT?" said Miguel.

"Yeah, sounds good!" replied Willie.

"Okay, so Miguel dies, and the party is victorious. I'll total up your XP and give you numbers next time we play. How's Thursday for you guys? Can everyone make it?"

"Yeah, I think so," said Richie. "It's back at your house, right? Who's bringing the chips and salsa?"

"I'm pretty sure it's Felix's turn," said Jose.

"Someone tell him to bring some mild stuff to go with the hot chipotle, okay?"

All-Star Game Undead Unblogging

[Deanna gets home from work, turns on TV]

"Whew, it's only the third inning? Cool. Aw, National League is up 1-0 already."

"Oh, it's that Bonds guy. Hahaha... look at the way he thinks that's a homer. Sit down, dude."

"Yay! Cole Hamels!"

"Hmm. Prince Fielder is big."

"Chris Young is tall and he is throwing at people's feet."

"Oooh, Eric Byrnes! On a boat! Whee! Wow, he just threw his dog into McCovey's Cove on national TV. That's pretty funny. He's so awesome. I wonder if--

"--uhh... uhh... wait, did Ichiro just..."

"...holy crap! An inside-the-park home run! How awesome is that? That was the first one ever in all-star history? Wow! I think I'll turn off the TV and go run errands now, because nothing in the rest of the game is going to be as exciting as that was." [leaves]

[gets home, turns TV back on at 8:45pm or so]

"It's JJ. That must mean it's the end of the game. Wait, it's the bottom of the 9th, 2 outs, 1-2 count on Dmitri freaking Young. Woohoo! Better watch this one end..."

"That was lame. Jose Lopez would have made that play. Brian Roberts sucks. WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT ISN'T AN ERROR?"

"Hmm... despite that I want the game to end, I think I would be really amused to see JJ Putz pitching to JJ Hardy..."


"Of course those aren't strikes, Posada's setting up somewhere in the vicinity of Haight-Ashbury. Sheesh. Poor JJ."

"K-Rod is such a freak."

"*Such* a freak."

"COME ON ALREADY, THIS IS RETARDED. Throw a strike dammit!"

"WOOHOO! Suck it, National League!"

[ponders whether her presence jinxed JJ but helped Ichiro]

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Book Review - Roger Maris: A Man For All Seasons, by Maury Allen

In preparing for my transpacific move, I took a box of (non-baseball) books to Half Price Books the other day, and during the 15 minutes I had to wait for them to decide to give me a whopping sum of $8 for the whole box, I stumbled on this book, which I started reading in the store and then decided to just go ahead and buy. It was $5.50, which after tax left me with a remainder of about $2 to put towards a Chipotle burrito for dinner.

But I digress.

Roger Maris: A Man For All Seasons, by Maury Allen

I've read one or two other books about Roger Maris, but this one was actually written in 1986, for the 25th anniversary of the 61 in '61 year. Sadly, it was also written right after Roger's death, which means that a lot of the interview quotes in the book talk about what the speaker was thinking or doing when Roger died, or at his funeral, and so on.

About 70% of this book is straightforward history and prose, and about 30% is sections of text transcribed from interviews. I thought that this style of writing would grate on me after a while, but I actually enjoyed a lot of the short vignettes related by the different people, who ranged from Roger's friends and family to his teammates and opponents from various points in his baseball career. Most of the time there's a few paragraphs of lead-in, then a short blurb introducing the next speaker, and then several pages of prose that follow from whatever the speaker had to say. It's very different than just reading a lot of prose with various one-line quotes thrown in from interviews, and there's often funny little things that come out, like the guy who gave up Roger's first home run in 1957 (Jack Crimian, who only pitched in 4 games that year, and went to the same high school as my dad) describing it, or Jim Bouton relating how when he first came up to the majors, Roger gave him a new glove, or the story about how Mantle sent Roger a wooden carving of a hand extending the middle finger, which Roger would keep on his chair when he didn't want to talk to reporters.

There's some pretty sad parts -- I was on the bus home from work reading the chapter where former Yankees and fellow pallbearers Moose Skowron and Johnny Blanchard were talking about Maris's funeral in detail, and I nearly started to cry. I had to put the book down for a bit to make myself stop sniffling, which was sort of embarrassing on the bus.

If there's any failing of this book, it might be to provide the reader with some more details of Roger's life away from his baseball career. The bulk of the book is about Roger as a baseball player, though to its credit, it evenly covers his entire career, not just the 1961 season that everyone knows about. In a 12-year career he played in 7 World Series and got 3 rings -- and 2 of those series (one win) were with the Cardinals after he left the Yankees. The author was just getting started as a sportswriter during Maris's career, so he has some interesting quotes and observations from Maris's games and postgames, especially from the later years.

And really, given how Roger wanted to be a private sort of guy and keep the media and public away from him as much as possible, it's not surprising that a lot of details about his life either don't exist or aren't that interesting. "Roger worked as a beer distributor in Florida for 20 years" probably isn't that great of a story anyway. And in all fairness, after I got so freaked out reading Luckiest Man and the details on Lou Gehrig's medical condition, I'm actually kind of glad that Maury Allen didn't make a point of going too deep into Maris's condition and how it deteriorated from the lymphoma.

Anyway, this was a pretty good read, and a relatively good bus book as well. If you're interested in borrowing/buying my copy and local to Seattle, let me know, as I'd feel silly putting such a good book into indefinite storage.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Friday Foto and some catching up

I went to last Saturday's Mariners-Jays game with Bretticus and ETownCoug from Lookout Landing, but I never got around to writing anything about it, mostly because I suddenly went into high-gear "OMG I'm moving to Japan" mode. I have some notes about various plays that happened, but it seems silly to try to write it all up a week later. I will tell you that the AM-PM "too much of a good thing" was 75 boxes of Junior Mints, which they estimated to be about 3857 candies. The other weird moment of the night was when they decided to replace Miguel Batista on the mound in the 7th inning -- so they said on the speaker, "Now pitching, Eric O'Flaherty," and they put his stats up on the board, and he even ran about 30 feet out of the bullpen, and suddenly he stopped and ran back to the bullpen and Sean Green ran out instead, and they put his stats and stuff up instead, and it was just pretty bizarre. Green pitched an inning and O'Flaherty replaced him after that. I don't think I'd ever seen that before -- I thought that once you put up the info and make the announcement, you have to have that guy come out to pitch, but, hey, whatever.

Anyway, we sat in the upper deck so I didn't take many game pictures, but I did catch some batting practice, in-between desperately trying to get a full set of trading cards. (I was missing the end of the alphabet and had dupes of the Mariner Moose, which of course nobody wanted. Eventually I was doing my usual walk-back-and-forth-taking-pictures thing and saw that someone had left an extra set of cards under a seat, so... I picked them up. They were missing the beginning of the alphabet and had extra Jamie Burkes, so that worked out well, and I completed my set and gave the rest to Coug later on.) Many Jays players came out and signed stuff -- I got Shaun Marcum -- and then I watched Roy Halladay warm up and do bullpen throwing. I've been sort of fascinated by him for a while, so I was glad to see him pitch in person. I was also, of course, glad that the Mariners won, bringing my personal record to 13-4.

Roy Halladay
Pitching over the Halladay weekend.

In theory, the real "picture of the day" from that game was when we met up with legendary LL mascot and Beltre worshipper "Red", but I thought it might be weird to put that one up on the front page here.


Mariners vs. Blue Jays, June 30, 2007

Mariners vs. Red Sox, June 26, 2007

All-Star results:

Hideki Okajima and Chris Young. I wish Pat Neshek had made it, and I voted for him a few hundred times, but as I said... Okajima! Fighters pride!

NPB All-Star Rosters in addition to the ridiculous fan vote. (English) Yakult's Seth Greisinger got a spot as a CL pitcher. The Yokohama pitching reps are sideweirder Atsushi Kizuka and closer Marc Kroon (I sort of expected Hayato Terahara to get a spot, not that Kizuka or Kroon are bad choices). Someone also finally noticed that Baystars catcher Ryouji Aikawa doesn't suck. And Dragonbutt got selected for his first all-star team too! an infielder. I believe he was on the ballots as an outfielder though.

In the PL, Lotte's Naruse got his first spot, but Shunsuke Watanabe didn't get a spot? Hiroyuki Nakajima and Tsuyoshi Nishioka go with Munenori Kawasaki to give the Ikemen Infield. As deserved, the Fighters' outfield of Atsunori Inaba and Hichori Morimoto got spots on the roster as well, so look forward to Hichori pulling some kind of grand stunt during the games. (Last year most people remember him dressing up as Piccolo from Dragonball Z. Today, a bread company made a life-sized loaf of that for him. You could call it deadpan.)

Fantastic article by Jim Allen about the ludicrous Pacific League all-star ballot. He says it even better than I ever could in a million rants.

Some links that I meant to post at some point:

Shannon Drayer wrote a pretty interesting entry in her blog about why Mike Hargrove left, which may shed some light on things. Either way, it's an interesting read.

Kazuhiro Kiyohara's season is over. Possibly even his career...

Fun website put together by 7 members of the Yokohama Bay Stars: 55 Sports. Shuuichi Murata, Katsuaki Furuki, Naoki Mitsubashi, Masaaki Koike, Takeshi Tsutsumiuchi, Shougo Kimura, and Yuuki Kohno, all of whom were born in Showa 55 (or 1980, aka the Matsuzaka Generation Year). The players have blogs on that website, and in addition plan to use it to put together some baseball clinics and charity events. It's kind of neat that Yokohama's doing this well and so some of the good young players are getting recognized.

Kevin Youkilis mentioned on his blog that he set a record going 120 games without an error at first base during the Mariners-Sox series last week. "I'd never really heard of Stuffy McInnis before this week...."

CJ Nitkowski is updating his site again, but even more awesome, he has been putting up videos on YouTube of what it's like inside the Softbank Hawks clubhouse (and in the team bus, and out at Karaoke, and so on). This is so incredibly awesome that I can't even begin to describe it.

There's a really neat best athlete for each uniform number article in SI -- even if it's pretty football-heavy. I'm sad that Mike Schmidt was just the runner-up for #20 and that they didn't even bother mentioning Ichiro for #51. Still, I've actually been trying to collect shots for another numbers series sometime in the offseason, so I think it's neat to think about the different players who've worn different numbers.

Oh yeah, and the Phillies are up to 9997 losses as of this writing.

I'll probably edit in a few more links as I remember which ones I wanted to share.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Vote Early, Vote Often, Vote Neshek

Pitch in for Pat.

Vote vote!

Regular content will resume here at 6pm EDT Thursday :)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

All-Star Lame

The All-Star Rosters for MLB have been released, finally. Ichiro and JJ Putz are representing the Mariners. There are some sort of bizarre choices in the ranks, perhaps partially due to the requirement for every team having a representative, but whatever. I think I'm most surprised and sad that Eric Byrnes didn't get on the team -- he's having a monster year, and he's from the Bay Area and lives there and would get to be in the ASG in front of friends and family and all. And besides, he's Eric Byrnes, which is worth even more entertainment value on its own. Alas.

There's a Final Vote for the last two all-stars, and while all of the choices are legitimately guys who should or could be all-stars, I'm going to go ahead and say that I'm fully behind voting in Pat Neshek, even though my Fighters pride says I should be behind Hideki Okajima. Why? Because Pat Neshek is really goddamn cool. As he put it:
"I really don't know how to describe this, but I'm the fan/collector/guy that somehow managed to get to the big leagues. I seriously wake up each day and can't believe how I got here and am thankful to even touch the uniform! Basically if I wasn't playing baseball right now I would probably be the guy who was coming home from work and planning a night around baseball... planning what games to go to, which minor league teams to get autographs at, which guy to take on my fantasy team and which guy to trade in MLB The Show... heck this is what I do in the off-season, no lie! Basically I'm a fan of baseball, if your team wasn't represented in this final 5 Vote I would love to represent you and all the fans of the game. I can tell you right now that nobody in the world, no other player would appreciate this more than me. So if you want somebody that is a fan of the game, a guy just like you, a guy that would probably pass out if elected to the ALL STAR game then you can help me out by voting here!"

And if that wasn't enough, Pat had a contest for someone to make YouTube videos advertising his campaign, and one of the guys on his forum made this parody song for the campaign, which is awesome. I'm the queen of baseball parody lyrics, dammit, so if I say it's good, it's good. Go vote for Pat.

Now, on to some not-so-starry all-starness. The fan voting results are in for the NPB All-Star game, and it's completely retarded in the Pacific League. Now, I'm all for cheering for the Rakuten Golden Eagles because they're the crazy underdogs -- it's like being a closet Mets fan back in the mid-1960's -- but EIGHT ALL-STARS? WHAT?

Central League Pacific League
SP Hiroki Kuroda (HC) Masahiro Tanaka (TRGE)
RP Masanori Hayashi (YG) Akira Matsumoto (TRGE)
CL Kyuji Fujikawa (HT) Kazuo Fukumori (TRGE)
C Shinnosuke Abe (YG) Motohiro Shima (TRGE)
1B Kenta Kurihara (HC) Nobuhiko Matsunaka (FSH)
2B Toshihisa Nishi (YBS) Yosuke Takahasu (TRGE)
3B Michihiro Ogasawara (YG) Hiroki Kokubo (FSH)
SS Hirokazu Ibata (CD) Munenori Kawasaki (FSH)
OF Tomonori Maeda (HC) Koichi Isobe (TRGE)
OF Norichika Aoki (YS) Teppei Tsuchiya (TRGE)
OF Kosuke Fukudome (CD) Tuffy Rhodes (OB)
DH Takeshi Yamasaki (TRGE)

Now I mean, there are a few bones I could pick with the CL -- Hisanori Takahashi is by far the best starting pitcher in the CL so far this year, but he only finished 5th in the voting, even behind his teammate Tetsuya Utsumi. I like Kenta Kurihara, but Tyrone Woods is a monster. I'm bitter about Ogasawara, of course, but as usual he's fully deserving of an all-star spot. Hirokazu Ibata is the best shortstop in Japan, so no complaints there. I'm amused that Tomoaki Kanemoto didn't place in the top 3 in CL outfielders, but since the rest of the top ten in voting are Kanemoto, Yoshinobu Takahashi, Tani, Morino (!!!!!), Akahoshi, and Alex Ramirez, I'll let it slide. I can't imagine that the rest of those guys don't end up on the roster.

You may notice that I actually listed only 6 more for the top ten, and that's because there's one outlier that doesn't really make sense -- Koichi Ogata, who's been on the DL for the last month or so, and wasn't doing so well before that. Maybe someone's stuffing the ballots for both Rakuten and Hiroshima?

The most obvious of the "WTF" choices for Rakuten are catcher Motohiro Shima (currently batting .168 and not all that great at calling a game; Lotte's Tomoya Satozaki is still the best catcher in the PL), and middle reliever Akira Matsumoto (currently with an ERA of 6.10 and has walked 14 guys and struck out 17 in 28 innings; the Fighters' Hisashi Takeda IS the best setup man in the PL (1.96 ERA, 31 K, 11 BB, 41 IP, 4-2 with 2 saves). Those are the awful choices. The "Err, OKAY" choices would be Isobe and Teppei in the outfield over Tamura and Hichori, and to be fair, much as I hate to say it since I like him, Kazuo Fukumori as closer over the unreal Takahiro Mahara, who has been just plain fantastic this year as the Hawks' closer. I mean, the guy's converted all 22 of his save chances and has allowed ONE EARNED RUN in 27 games (32 IP). I thought he was amazing last year and he's gotten even better this year.

I'm not going to comment on Masahiro Tanaka. I don't have a problem with him getting the popular vote, a la Matsuzaka, and he's been pretty damn good for an 18-year-old kid. I also have no problem with Takeshi Yamasaki getting the DH vote because he's been an absolute monster this year. But the rest of the Eagles? Uhhh, no.

Fortunately, I'm pretty sure that most of the rest of the guys who deserve to be all-stars will get chosen for it by the managers and all. But this is just seriously seriously screwed up.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Bigger news!

Mike Hargrove resigned as manager of the Mariners.

It's pretty weird for it to happen in the midst of a winning season, I guess. It's even funnier timing after trading card day yesterday, where I'm wondering how many people were fighting over trading for a Mike Hargrove card.

I'm personally one of these people who thinks managers don't have THAT much effect on a team winning or losing, so while I was never one of those super-negative "die in a fire, Grover" types that permeate the blogosphere, I'm also not like "oh no! Don't go!"

John McLaren will be the Mariners manager for the rest of the year, starting Monday.