Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Baseball Fun in New York - Yankee Tour and Mets-Phillies

So, I'm in NYC for a week. I started off my trip with quite a bang.

(See all of my Yankees Stadium Tour pictures!)

Well, so I arrived in NYC and didn't feel like sleeping, and couldn't come up with anything in particular to do this afternoon, so I walked over to the 125th street stop and took the D train over to Yankee Stadium. I got there around noon, so too late for the noon tour, but bought a ticket to the 1pm tour. Ate lunch at McDonalds, which has a ton of Yankees stuff in it, including a 3-D mural on the wall and a painting on the ceiling. Infact, the entire neighborhood is entirely taken over by Yankees goods, it seems. All the surrounding blocks near the stadium seem to consist of Yankees memorabilia shops and sports bars, many of which are named after famous Yankee players.

I went on the tour. It was awesome. We started behind home plate in the stands, then walked out to Monument Park, where they have all the retired numbers and the monuments and stuff. The original monuments and flagpole used to actually be in the outfield, when the center field wall was 461 feet out, but now the wall is closer in and the monuments are outside it. There are plaques up on the wall honouring many Yankees players and people, including former owners, managers, announcers, etc, and there's also a 9/11 monument.

After that, we walked to the dugout. We were allowed to walk on the field, but not on the grass, just the warning track. I stopped by the left field wall and got someone to take that picture of me. The wall was so low I bet even I could jump up and get over it if I tried. It gets higher though, and by right field it's at least 5 feet taller than that left field wall is. The walls are also padded, and it's just neat to run into the wall to feel it cushion.

There was a mass photo-shooting spree while everyone had to get pictures of themselves sitting in the dugout. It was way cool. The dugouts are also really impressive -- they have these vents in the steps, so during the summer they can aircondition the dugout, and during the colder times they can heat up the benches and the air as well, if needed. The guide made the joke of "And we have this functionality in the opposing dugout too... we heat 'em up in summer and cool 'em down in winter! har har, just kidding." The view of the field from the dugout is amazing. I tried to spend a minute imagining what it would be like to be an actual baseball player sitting there during a game.

After that, we went into the clubhouse. You weren't allowed to take pictures in there, but I can tell you what I saw. First, the area behind the dugouts is an underground maze. I bet the players never go anywhere but the locker room area, because otherwise they'd get lost forever. Second, the locker room is neat. They pointed out all the things like how Bernie Williams has the biggest and best locker because he's the most senior member of the team, and how Jeter has two lockers, one for his stuff, one for his fan mail. They still have a locker in there for Thurman Munson, the Yankees catcher in the 1970's who was also a pilot and died tragically in a plane crash -- the locker is doored off and "retired" for him. We weren't allowed very far into the locker room, but in addition to the lockers, we could sort of see the shower/spa/etc area off to the left (which had the Yankees logo embossed in the glass of the mirrors), and we could see the "rec room" off in the distance, which the guide said has several big-screen TVs and tons of movies and PS2 games and whatnot and big comfy chairs, and you could also kinda see Joe Torre's office through one door. Very neat.

After that they took us up to the press box. The view from there is awesome. They told us some stories about the stadium, about the facades, and the longest home runs hit there (by Mickey Mantle and Josh Gibson, respectively). The funny thing is, the guide shared a lot of trivia all day and I swear that everything he said is something I knew already -- I guess I've picked up a lot of Yankees history along the way. We got to see where George Steinbrenner's luxury suite is, and we got to go by where the organist plays music during the game (it's a Hammond organ, if you care), and by the Voice of the Yankees's announcing station.

Then we went back down to the team store and they let us go. We did get "Yankee Stadium Tour" keychains, I guess to prove you went on the tour if you don't bring a camera. It was neat.

If you are a Yankees fan and you have not toured the stadium, you should! It's well worth the $14 just to sit in the dugout, in my opinion :) That was just a really cool experience. I don't even like the Yankees and I had a blast.

Then to top that off, Nick and I went to the Mets-Phillies game tonight. Despite the 7 train having the wrong mark on it so we got the local when we wanted the express, we got there at like 7:35, for a 7:10 game, which was rain delayed to 7:40. Perfect!

Ishii walked a LOT of people and then Bell and Utley hit a single and a homer to knock in 5 runs and knock out Ishii. Cory Lidle pitched a great game for the Phillies and even went 1-for-2 on the batting. The only thing that really sucked is that it did start raining again in the 4th inning, and was pretty heavy rain from the 4th until the 7th or so, which was annoying for keeping score (I had my scorebook in a plastic bag and I'd reach in with a pen to write down the frames as they happened).

So yeah, it was 6-3 Phillies in the 9th and Billy Wagner came in, and you all know how much I love Billy Wagner. He kicked a ton of Met butt and the game was over pretty quickly, ending with Marlon Anderson just looking at a 99 mph fastball.

Surprisingly few people actually made comments about my Phillies shirt, and there were several others at the park. I picked up a Mike Cameron 44 Mets t-shirt though, which I will wear around Seattle sometimes I'm sure :)

Beltran sucks! Zing.

I'm probly going back to Shea for tomorrow afternoon's Phillies-Mets game... Pedro Martinez vs. Jon Lieber. Should be fun. I'll wear the Mets shirt this time though.

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Name Game Awards

The other day, as a joke, I said I was going to fill out my all-star ballot and go for the "worst names" team, just voting for whoever had the most annoying name to say, in a particular roster spot. Well, this inspired me to go through all the major league rosters and pick out some of the more interesting names of players... so, without further ado, let me give you the Name Game Awards:

The "Causes the Clubhouse Staff No End of Pain Assembling his Uniform" award goes to:

It's a tie! Between these National League long-named fools, all weighing in at 13 letters:

Todd Hollandsworth - Cubs
Tim Spooneybarger - Marlins
John Van Benschoten - Pirates

The "If I were an announcer I'd just hope this guy played all the time so I could say his name" award goes to:

1) Hiram Bocachica - Athletics

If you don't believe me, just say his name out loud a few times. Boca! Chica! Boca! Chica!

2) Jorge Cantu - Devil Rays

I swear, if I was an announcer I would continually make up Star Wars stories about some secret alien army commander named Cantu. Or maybe I'm just weird.

3) Marco Scutaro - Athletics

Not to pick on the A's twice, but between Scutaro and Durazo it's a tough choice. I personally think Erubiel Durazo has one of the most unique names in the league, but Scutaro wins out only because of this time where I was at the stadium and they were playing "Sussudio" on the loudspeakers, and I kept singing "Scu-scu-scutaro, whooah-oh!"

Coco Crisp and Milton Bradley get honorable mentions just because their names make me giggle. So would J. J. Putz, if it wasn't just so easy to make fun of him.

The "If I were an announcer, I'd go to the clubhouse and confirm this guy's name before ever saying it on the air" awards go to:

1) Mark Grudzielanek -- Well, at least they just shortened it to Grud, because that's sure as hell easier to say than Grud-zell-ON-eck.

2) Doug Mientkiewicz -- I can't decide whether it's more painful to watch people try to spell this name, or try to pronounce Mint-KAY-vitch.

3) Mark Teixeira -- Tay-SHARE-ah. I actually think this is a beautiful name, too, but for some reason people always say "Tex-ee-ra".

4) Rheal Cormier -- He's not really more cormy than you'd think, but is infact Ree-AL Core-mee-AY. Damn French.

5) Macier Izturis -- I've been told it's MY-sair Izz-TOUR-uss, but who knows.

6) Rob Mackowiak -- At first glance it looks like a MACK-oh-whack, but Mr. Muh-KOVE-ee-ack would beg to differ.

7) Yhency Brazoban -- Yeeek. I think it's YAN-see BRASS-oh-ban, but...

8) Yorvit Torrealba -- Surprisingly, his name is said the way it looks, but I'd never believe it without confirming it. Your-VEET Tour-ee-ALL-bah.

9) Scott Schoeneweis -- SHOW-en-weiss. Yet I'm not sure I've ever heard two announcers say it the same way.

10) Tanyon Sturtze -- Sturtze is one syllable, but you could have fooled a lot of people. They're probably the same people who think Foulke is more than one syllable.

Other fun ones:
Gagne -- GAHN-yay, not GAG-knee.
Nageotte -- Nah-ZHOT, not Nag-ee-OAT.
Pierzynski -- Peer-ZIN-ski, not hard to say, but hard to spell..
Ledee -- Not LEE-dee, Luh-DAY.
Duchscherer -- From the department of redundancy department, this man has backups of all the letters in his name.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Bobby "Bowflex" Madritsch

From here (and earlier here):

Madritsch said his shoulder is 90 percent healed and that he hoped a magnetic resonance imaging test in a week and a half would show him at 100 percent.

In the meantime, he's having fun passing his free time with a Bowflex workout machine he purchased after watching a late-night infomercial.

"I was flipping the stations at like 3 in the morning and saw the ad and the guy said, 'Call right now,'" Madritsch said. "I was like, 'Yeah!'"

Haha! I'm sorry, but the image of Bobby Madritsch sitting around watching the home shopping network just cracks me up. It's the sort of thing I'd expect out of Bret Boone, looking for new hair dye or something, not Bobby.

More about Bobby and his Bowflex here:

It's 20 fewer minutes that Madritsch has to fight the boredom that's been part of his inactivity because of the injury. He badly wants to pitch but won't anytime soon, so he comes to the ballpark each day to work out and watch the Mariners play.

"It's like when I was young and I saw a cool car that I really, really wanted but I couldn't afford," Madritsch said. "It's there in front of you, but you can't have it."

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Athletics - Baked Zito

I still have not gotten Jason Kendall's autograph.

Worse still, I have not gotten a picture of Jason Kendall at all.

Let me back up a second. I went to the game super-early today, wearing my Pirates Kendall 18 shirt. Hung out on the field watching the A's take batting practice. Chavez signed a bazillion things but stopped a bit before me, as usual, just like Swisher did yesterday. Byrnes, on the other hand, was really funny, he was signing stuff for a ton of people again. I don't have any baseball cards of him, so I got him to sign my ticket, or more like, he scribbled on it. "You playin' today, Byrnes?" I said. "Course I'm playin," he retorted.

Also got Keith Ginter to sign my ticket. He seems like a nice guy.

I went to catch Barry Zito's warmup after that, since he looked like he'd be a fun guy to photograph. He was doing cable pulls and straight arm lifts off of Buckley (#59, whoever he is, I'm assuming bullpen catcher), and then running around playing catch for a while, and then finally warming up in the pen. He has a real fun motion, I think, and it looks almost like he's taking cues from Bronson Arroyo, the way he gets this sort of high kick these days.

The thing is, I figured Kendall would warm up in the pen as well. No dice. But he WAS catching. It's just, he wasn't out on the field at all between when he went into the dugout 10 mins after BP started, and when he had to come out to be leadoff batter an hour later when the game started.


Oh well. Anyway, it was a really awesome game to watch. It really started off as a "duel of the crafty lefties" for quite a while, as it was entirely scoreless for the first 5 innings. The fourth inning was pretty weird, as the A's were up to bat -- Crosby got a triple as the ball was hit towards Ichiro and he jumped for it but missed -- you rarely see that -- and it was almost immediately followed up by Bret Boone making an incredible stop on a Kielty drive up the middle. I mean, when do you see an inning where Ichiro misses a play and Boone looks incredible?

Kendall got on base to lead off the 6th, and he stole second and Rivera made a horrendous throw to second, so Kendall got to third. Chavez doubled him home, straight down the left-field line, a bit later, making it 1-0. Byrnes got a triple in the 7th and was driven home by Johnson, making it 2-0. Richie Sexson hit a super-long home run, 411 feet to center, but it was unfortunately a solo shot, only making it 2-1.

Moyer stayed in for the long haul, making it to the 8th inning again, but they pulled him when he started walking people. Putz actually wasn't terrible, but he did let Kotsay score for 3-1.

The game really started in the 9th inning, honestly. In the top, we saw Putz load the bases and then get out of it with a rare 1-2-3 double play, where the ball was smacked right to him, and he fired it to home to catch Johnson on the force, and Rivera fired it to first to catch Crosby.

The bottom was just a musical chairs of pitchers and hitters. Calero started it by pitching to Richie Sexson, who got a bizarre "infield single" where Crosby first bobbled the ball, then threw it to Johnson who was way off the bag. Calero was pulled for Ricardo Rincon, the treasured lefty, who immediately gave up a hit to lefty Ibanez. Righty Boone bunted Ibanez and Sexson over, and Willie Bloomquist was put in to run for Ibanez for some reason. Lefty Reed struck out, and Lefty Rincon was pulled for Righty "Alphabet Soup" Duchscherer. Righty "Code" Morse was up to bat.

Mike Morse, how do you feel? It's the bottom of the 9th with two outs, runners on second and third, and your team is down 3-1. Any pressure? It's okay, you don't have to let us know.

Why, Marinerdgirl, I feel good enough to bang a single into right field!

Sexson scores. Bloomie scores. While they're scoring, Morse runs to second, and gets there a split second before the throw from Kendall. The crowd goes wild. Duchscherer has infact blown the save, but he doesn't really care because all of those runners and their earnings are credited to the guys in the previous musical chairs. It's now 3-3. and we don't even really care when Dave Hansen pops out to center field.

The 10th inning is a little too close for comfort. Matt Thornton is brought in for about five seconds to let Chavez get a single, and then Mateo comes in. Kielty sac bunts to get Chavez into scoring position, and then they have Hatteberg pinch-hit for Ginter (smart choice against a tough righty like Mateo. It's a real day for the Platoon Network), but Mateo intentionally walks Hatty. It's a close call for a second when Byrnes moves up Chavez and Hatty, but Ronnie The Bear comes in and gets Johnson to pop out and it's all good. Well, except the part where Duchscherer, pissed at himself for blowing the save, strikes out Ichiro and Winn and gets Beltre to ground out to close the 10th.

Ronnie The Bear almost strikes out the entire side in the 11th, getting both Scutaro and Kendall ("K is for Kendall and that's good enough for me! Kendall, Kendall Kendall... starts with a C!") Kotsay sends a line drive right to Villone, who catches it for the inning out. Whooosh. Unfortunately the Mariners batters also spend the 11th inning striking out, so we're still tied at 3-3.

The twelfth inning had some of the absolute wrongest baseball I've ever seen played. Guardado comes in to pitch for the good guys. Chavez, who really wants to go home and see American Idol, gets on base with a single, hoping someone will score him so the game will end. Kielty moves him along with a grounder to short, and then he steals third (nobody, including Pat Borders, seemed to notice, though). "Excellent!" thinks Mark Ellis, who is hitting for Hatteberg due to the Platoon Principle. "I'll just go on an' hit a nice big sac fly so he can score!" Except, well, he walks. Eric Byrnes comes up to bat and Chavez yells, "Hey Byrnes, score me and you can come over and watch American Idol with me after the game." Byrnes thinks this is a GREAT idea and smacks a ball into right field. Ichiro can't get to it, and Chavez scores, whoosh. However, because it's Ichiro, *only* Chavez scores, and Byrnes stops at second, Ellis stops at third, the score stops at 4-3. Johnson pops out for the end of the inning.

"YOU SUCK, EDDIE!" I yell. I feel like, despite knowing he's our best pen pitcher right now, I've still seen him blow too many games like this. It always seems like it's Moyer starts, too.

Morse, hero of the 9th, is the first guy up in the 12th. He promptly strikes out, dropping his average back down to a piddly .397 or so.

Then PAT BORDERS! is up to bat. Borders gets a single! Go grampy go grampy go grampy go! Woo!

Ichiro is up to bat next. Ichiro grounds into a 1-4-3 double play. and the game is over.

Wait a minute, no he doesn't. Ichiro hits the ball to Ryan Glynn, the pitcher, who throws it to second base to nab Borders. Somehow, Bobby Crosby is caught sleeping, and he misses the catch. Borders reaches safely. Ichiro reaches safely. Whoa! I'll take an FC 1-6 E6 for 200, Alex.

Well, now we have runners on first and second with one out instead of a lost game. Cool. What do you think about it, Randy Winn? Howsabout a single, huh? All your friends are doing it! Whoa! Randy hits the ball to left, where Byrnes gets it but fumbles the ball a bit before he throws it in, and is not in time to catch Pat Borders as he runs across the plate. 4-4. It's not over yet.

Beltre, all we need is a single. It's Ichiro on second, you know. He could score if you hit the ball pretty much anywhere. No... dude, that was a pretty big swing. Ack, so was that! Ack! What are you doing! Why are you striking out? Aiiiiee... if Richie strikes out too and ends this inning like this, I'm going home. I swear.

Richie hits the ball to left field. Eric Byrnes *really* wants to go home and watch American Idol, you know, so he gets the ball, makes a throw to the plate, but thinks "I'm not really gonna catch Ichiro, am I?", as he sees Ichiro beat the ball there by a few seconds.

And that's the game, and I am out of here.

Well, except to whine about the stupid mechanics of the win-loss system that make it such that a pitcher can get a blown save AND a win for a game. Eddie, you're a good guy and I'm glad we have you, but you don't deserve today's win, I'm sorry. Honestly, Jamie deserves it, and I feel bad for the guy. I hope he reaches 200 this year. You wouldn't think it'd be so hard...

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Mets -- Sweepy Hollow

Somehow the Sunday afternoon game against the Mets practically sold out. The ticket window people said "We only have single tickets left, for either $35 or $50. Well... what better excuse to sit 26 rows behind home plate? Although the shade didn't cover me for a few innings, it was still a great seat.

The game was really a very good game, lots of fun to watch, high-scoring. The Mariners really hit up Tom Glavine for a ton of runs early on (it was 6-1 as of the third inning). It's kind of weird, since I mean, it's Tom Freaking Glavine, the guy could reasonably reach 300 career victories and is almost a shoe-in for the hall of fame. Meche pitched admirably for the Mariners, but when he hit the 100-pitch mark, he practically just fell over, loading the bases and then hitting Woodward to knock in a run. Well, we put in Matt Thornton to take care of the loaded bases, and all of the people scored. It's ridiculous that it inflates Meche's ERA like that and Thornton gets off with barely anything. 6-5. Fortunately the Mariners countered by exploding for 4 runs in the 6th, mostly due to Mike DeJean walking a bunch of them -- even walking in a run. The final score was 11-5.

The "new kids on the block", Morse and Rivera, combined for 5-for-8 and three runs scored. It's looking more and more like our middle infield next year will be Jose Lopez and Mike Morse, at this rate, given the hitting tear they're both on.

I sat around too many rude Mets fans though, who insisted on yelling and screaming a lot, especially things like "HEY BELTRAN, YOU SUCK, WE'RE NOT PAYING YOU 119 MILLION DOLLARS TO SUCK LIKE THIS, LOSER."

I noticed that Kazuo Matsui and Kazuhisa Ishii pretty much stood together leaning on the Mets dugout rails for most of the game. I guess Ishii pitched the other day and Matsui doesn't get played, so they can just chat in Japanese together.

Whee for the A's this week. Can't wait to go wear my Kendall protest shirt again. And don't forget, Dobbs and Kielty are best friends; shame that Dobbs will be a little too busy with the Rainiers to come hang out again.

So, uh, how 'bout 'dem Mets?

My brother and I went to Friday night's game. Oddly, I mostly remember sitting around chatting with my brother and the people who sit in my section more than I remember specific details of the game (though I did keep a scorecard, and the scorers seemed to be on crack. At one point the official scorers called a ball that Boone missed basically on account of not being five inches taller an error -- and later revoked it. Sheesh). Pat Borders at one point pounded a double that would have been a triple for any player under the age of 40, and my brother's like "So, uh, what's the deal with that slow guy?" and I'm like "Uhh, lemme tell you the saga of the Mariners' catchers. First there was Dan. And Miguel. Then Dan got hurt. Then there was Wiki. Then there wasn't Wiki. Then there was Rene. Then Miguel sucked so much at hitting that he went to Tacoma. Now there is Pat."

Oh, and the Mariners won, 5-0. Jamie Moyer stayed in for most of the game, but he was taken out in the 8th with two down, after he walked the bases loaded. Amazingly, Jeff Nelson came in and struck out Marlon Anderson to end the inning, and he ended up getting a save after also taking down the 9th inning scorelessly.

Dobbs was optioned to Tacoma and Jose Lopez was called up. Lopez played 3B tonight, but it's possible he may threaten Boone into not sucking at 2B, if we're lucky. Ichiro hit a three-run homer, which was pretty sweet.

As far as the Mets go -- Ishii did a pretty poor pitching job. And sadly Mike Cameron wasn't playing. He has a problem with his knee or something. They did have him come out at the beginning of the game and bring the lineup card to the plate, and he got a huge ovation from the Seattle crowds. I was also sad that Kazuo Matsui wasn't playing, because I wanted to see him, but they put him in as a defensive replacement at 2B for the 8th inning, at least. He looks so weird since he cut his hair.

Oh yeah. And let me tell you that no words have sounded more odd than "Centerfielder Willie Bloomquist", but it turned out it didn't matter -- of the pop outs to the outfield, only one went to center; eight went to left field, and two went to right field. I guess it's because so many people were hitting righty against Jamie Moyer, maybe.

Then there was today's game. I didn't go on account of "Well, it's Pedro Martinez, vs. Ryan Franklin, at SAFECO FIELD. Is there ANY reason to go when you pretty much know that Pedro's never lost to the Mariners, and Ryan Franklin never gets run support from normal pitching?

When I saw the score later that day, and saw the Mariners won, I was pretty shocked. And to find that it happened with Hansen playing first, Willie Baseball at third, Lopez at 2nd and Morse at SS... yeah. Crazy stuff.

I think the Infinite Improbability Drive is still in action, so if Ichiro hits four home runs tomorrow, don't be too surprised.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Phillies -- Oh, Billy Wagner, How I Adore Thee

Oh, Billy
We're glad you're a Phillie
Your fastball's like chili
As hot as a stew

Such a great closer
Just like a bulldozer
The "Heat Wave" composer
Can't compare to you.

Before the game, I'd actually commented that if I gambled, I would bet real money on the Phillies winning tonight, because their pitchers (read: Brett Myers) actually know how to strike people out. To their credit, the Phillies pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts in 13 innings, while the Mariners pitchers combined for 6.

The thing is, oddly, it never felt quite like we could tell who was going to win. Infact, as the game dragged on into extra innings, and they left Ryan Madson out there, it almost felt like the Mariners were likely to somehow squeeze a run out of it all. The 9th inning was probably the most gripping thing to watch -- coming into the bottom half, still tied at 2-2, and Ryan Madson on the mound. I'm thinking, "Where's Billy? Why is Madson out there?" And it didn't help that he gave up a single to Morse, who was then promptly sac bunted to 2nd by Rivera. They had Madson walk Ichiro, so now there's 1 out and runners on first and second. Bring up Winn, who bunts, and Lieberthal throws him out at first, but now we've got 2 outs and runners on second and third with Ibanez, the DH, up... and he'd hit a home run in his last at-bat. So they walk him too. Now the bases are loaded, it's tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth, two outs... and up comes Richie "Big Sexy" Sexson. Our big bat, our big slugger.

And what does Richie do? He strikes out on three consecutive pitches, two of which were AWFUL.

Well, I was happy, at least, because it meant a) more baseball and b) the Phillies hadn't lost.

The 10th through 13th innings were really sort of bizarre. Jimmy Rollins got on base with a double in the 10th, and the next Phillie to get on base was... Jimmy Rollins with a triple in the 13th. They walked Lofton and Abreu to get to Perez, who hit a sacrifice fly long enough for Jimmy to dash home.

That was all they needed, though -- aside from Randy Winn getting walked in the 12th, no Mariner reached base either during the 10th-13th. And then Billy The Kid came out to pitch, since it was a save situation. He easily struck out Boone, then Willie Baseball came in to pinch hit for Hansen (who had struck out his last three atbats), and he grounded to short. Morse somehow smacked a 99mph ball out to center for a single, but it didn't matter, as Billy struck out Rivera.

Ahh... I'm not sure who's the boyfriend of the day. It's some combination of Jimmy Rollins (5-for-6 with a double, a triple, and two runs scored) and Billy Wagner, just because he left me with no doubt that the Phillies would win once they'd gotten the 3-2 lead.

By the way, I did see one of the strangest plays I've ever seen out there -- in the 7th inning, Chase Utley singled and got bunted to second. Then Mike Lieberthal was up. He struck out, but the last pitch was a bit wild and got away from the catcher -- but Lieberthal didn't immediately start running, so he barely, barely, barely got tagged out at first, 2-3. Well, in the meantime while this hubbub was happening, Utley had started running from second, rounded third, got home, and got tagged out as Sexson relayed the ball back to the plate! It was a 2-3-1 double play. How odd.

And odder still was Dave Hansen's choice of "Vehicle" by the Ides of March as his at-bat song. I guess even odder is that I knew the song because we played it in marching band. (You know what else is weird? I think I've actually grown to LIKE "Chattahoochee", the song that plays when Jeff Nelson comes in.)

By the way, on another note of "wtf" for the Mariners, the giveaway for the evening was "Mariners Trading Cards" -- but it specifically said on the back:

"Each trading card pack starts with 20 DIFFERENT players' cards plus seven cards ALL ALIKE of an additional player. You must trade six of your duplicates away and get the six other cards needed to complete your full set. Have fun and help each other. GOOD LUCK!"

This would have been fine if we'd gotten to the game before, say, 6:50pm, I think, or if we'd had no desire to actually watch the game. There were huge groups of people blocking the walkways in crazy trading card frenzies, but I decided I'd rather watch the game than try to trade cards. My "additional" player was, sadly, Pokey Reese. I seem to be missing Sexson, Ichiro, Matt Thornton, Wilson Valdez, and Aaron Sele (I traded Megan or Josh a Pokey for a Spiezio). I'm just guessing there, since I have some in my set like Madritsch, Reese, etc who obviously aren't playing now.

Personally, I have thousands of baseball cards in my apartment, and I'm really not worried about collecting this particular set.

Anyway, I'm glad I finally got to see my Phillies win. As an aside -- the last two nights I went to the park wearing Phillies shirts and the Phillies lost, and tonight I went wearing a Mariners t-shirt and a Phillies jersey. Well, as soon as I opened the jersey up to reveal the M's t-shirt, the Phillies started really doing well. Maybe I'm just a big jinx or something. Tomorrow night I'll be going to the Mets game with my brother. I'll be cheering for the Mariners; I'm not sure about him.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Phillies -- Jeremy Reed's Birthday

Yesterday was another fun day down at Safeco watching my new home team beat my old home team. In all honesty, it didn't surprise me that much, since Vicente Padilla is a lot more like a corn tortilla than a Freddy Garcia these days anyway, and Sele's been, well... in his last 6 starts, the guy is 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA. Did you ever expect THAT out of Aaron Sele? Yeah.

I went to watch batting practice. There was a 90-year-old guy there who just moved out here a few years ago from Philly. He was just telling baseball stories, and saying things like "I remember when Chuck Klein showed up on the Phillies. Wow, that guy sure could hit!" And my jaw just drops like "You saw Chuck Klein as a rookie? But that was in like... 1928!" He's like "Yeah... but the team to watch those days was the Athletics. With Connie Mack. They won a ton of championships back when I was a teenager. Had Ty Cobb and everything for a bit there." Wow. That's just so cool.

Jimmy Rollins was signing stuff for a bit by the dugout, and this one guy's got his daughter holding a baseball, and he yells, "Hey Jimmy! Sign one for my daughter? You're her favorite player! She calls you up on her fake cellphone. Dials '11' for Jimmy. When you cut your hair she just went crazy, goin' 'Where'd his hair go??'."

Billy Wagner came out to sign stuff for a bit. I had him sign my Phillies scorecard, and he wrote with his right hand, and I'm like, "Whoa, you're really right-handed!" and he drawls, "Yeah, been a righty all my life." I mean, the guy throws 100 mph left-handed... that's just crazy.

Oh, there was a game, too. The Padilla Tortilla let Ichiro and Randy Winn hit home runs off him, and Ryan Madson let Mike Morse hit one later. It was Morse's first major league home run. He had a pretty good day at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a walk, and a home run.

There were several times where the Mariners reached base just because the Phillies screwed up, though. Sexson got credited with a double when Bobby Abreu dropped the ball early on, and one of Morse's singles went about 2 inches over Chase Utley's glove on a jump. Ibanez got credited with an infield single in the 5th in the ultimate comedy of errors, where he hit a weak grounder and Padilla, Utley, and Ramon Martinez went for it -- Padilla got it, went to throw to first, but nobody was there because everyone else was going for the ball. Oops.

Villone wasn't about to let that happen to him -- later on, when Jim Thome hit a weak grounded towards first, Villone ran over, got it, and tackled Thome. Well, not really, but he did run into him the way you'd expect to see football players run into each other. It was sort of amusing.

Monday I felt like I could blame the Phillies' two stolen bases on Meche's slow windup, but this time they got three stolen bases, and one was just Borders throwing it a little too slowly to second (as opposed to our runners, who have gotten caught every time they've tried to steal against Mike Lieberthal. To be fair, two out of the three steals occured in a double steal on a 1-2-2 pitch against Pat Burrell, who had struck out twice already that day, so I guess they were just running for the heck of it. I'm still a little surprised at the lack of runs created by the Abreu-Burrell-Thome 3-4-5... Bobby was 3-for-4 but the other guys really didn't pick up the slack at all.

Anyway, the Mariners won. As I explained to Conor Glassey, who I ran into before the game started, "I'm rooting for the Phillies so the Mariners will win! Honest!" I guess it worked.

Let's play a game here for a second. We'll call it the "caption game". I'll go first.

"I stole Jim Thome's bat. See this scorch mark here? This is where he hit that big
two-run homer last week."

"Suckers... they don't realize that the magic fire in my bats only ignites if I do this crazy baton-twirling thing with them first."

"I'm Jason Michaels, and I'm too pretty to be benched just because I'm a righty. This sucks."

Burrell: Hey Jimmy, gimme my hat. It's the one that says 'Bad Mother Fucker' on it.
Rollins: Pat, bro, the only thing your hat says on it is 'Pattycakes Strikeout'.

"Been right-handed all my life."


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Phillies - Been Caught Stealin'


I went to tonight's Phillies-Mariners game. It was a really short game. What I learned tonight is that:

1) Bobby Abreu is an extremely nice guy (he signed stuff for like ninety billion people before the game)
2) Jimmy Rollins is an extremely short guy (He stood next to Richie Sexson. It was priceless.)
3) Bret Boone is an extremely poor baserunner (Not just his ridiculous stealing attempt, but when Morse hit that great sac fly, I almost worried Boone wouldn't make it from 3rd to home in time.)
3a) Tomas Perez let Boone have the shortest double I've ever seen (No joke. Have you ever seen a double that barely leaves the infield dirt?)
4) Jon Lieber can throw the ball just fine to first base, unless he's fielding it (Though he did a fine job of rolling it to first, but not in time to get Winn.)
5) Dave Hansen is good, and it was a nice home run, but it's still amusing that he has a higher batting average than OBP
6) Lofton might be an old dude, but he's a fast old dude
7) Meche seems to throw less pitches as the night goes on, not more (We bet on when he'd leave the game, and projected it to be around 6 innings with 110 pitches. He left in 8 with 120 pitches.)
8) Ichiro is awesome, even if Winn has a higher batting average right now
9) Lieber means lover/beloved, Thal means valley. Isn't it great what you learn when you think it's neat that the Phillies have a Lieber/Lieberthal battery?

I'm going to the games on Wednesday and Thursday too. Phillies! Wheee!

By the way, I've adored Mike Lieberthal since he came up to the Phillies a bazillion years ago, but... what are those cushions behind his legs? Do other catchers use those? I don't think I've seen them before, but that looks like it's certainly got to be easier squatting with them on!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Why Rain Sucks

Went down to Tacoma today to watch the Rainiers game with Jeff and Oren. We did manage to catch up with the Lookout Landing guys for a bit, although since I'm super-shy around strangers it was sort of hard for me to talk to them, kinda like at the USSM Pizza Feed last year.

I also had a goal of getting Ryan Rupe to sign my Nippon Ham Fighters yearbook from 2004. I even went up to the dugout and asked if he was around, but the players there were like "Uh, no... he pitched yesterday so he probly won't be out for a while, he'd be over in the bullpen anyway". So I figured maybe I'd try to find him when the pitchers came out -- I mean, honestly, how many people will come up to an AAA player and be like "I saw you in Japan last year, and you pitched a good game for my favorite team! Will you sign my book?"

Of course, that never happened, since it started raining. So I never really got to try to corner any players to talk or sign things. Sigh. They delayed the game to 7:20... then indefinitely... eventually at 8:30pm my friends and I got bored and left, hoping it was a rainout so we could exchange tickets for later.

Sadly, it wasn't. As we found out later, they apparently started the game around 9pm, and the Rainiers won, and Snelling even hit a 2-run homer. I'm really sad about that; I wanted to see him play. I wanted to see Norihiro Nakamura play also, since I never got to see him in Japan before he came here. I guess I could go to the game tomorrow or Sunday, but it's such bad timing, and driving down to Tacoma twice in one weekend would suck.

I guess it was good to stop by and say hi to the LL guys though. I've always liked their site, even when it was Leone For Third, and I'd easily say they and USSM are my favorite baseball blogs in Seattle. And Jon Wells from the Grand Salami magazine was there with his wife and he gave me a free copy of the June issue! So that was cool. Lessee, I guess Jeff and Devin were there, and PLU Tim and PositivePaul, and some Mark guy. I don't remember anyone else, since I ended up not sitting with their group after the stands got all crowded due to rain.

As far as the Mariners go, they seem to have spectacularly managed to lose tonight's game to the Nationals, 9-3. Hasegawa gave up 6 runs in one inning, which must be a record for him. Ichiro went 1-for-5 and Winn went 2-for-4, which means that Randy Winn's .304 batting average is actually higher than Ichiro's .302. The sad thing is how optimistic I was, since in the car, we heard Sexson hit a home run that made the game 3-1 Mariners. Ah well.

The interesting game of the evening, IMO, was the Red Sox vs. the Cubs, meeting to play for the first time since the 1918 World Series (and we all know how THAT ended). However, today they put Maddux on the mound against the Red Sox, and he not only pitched a fine game, he also hit a home run, the 5th of his career. That's really cool.

In other news, the reason why Tomokazu Ohka didn't pitch against the Mariners in DC is that he was traded to the Brewers as the Nats picked up Ryan Drese and Jacobo Sequea off waivers. That's funny, I really was wondering what'd happen to Drese.

Olerud! Olerud is playing again. Olerud is batting .333/.375/.429. Olerud is good. Olerud is on the Red Sox. We won't get to see him this year. Sigh.

The Red Sox were on Queer Eye the other night, and I watched it at a friend's house. It was quite amusing. I actually may very well order the DVD, I'm not sure. It really was pretty good though. I mean, I've never seen the show before but it was just super-funny, especially the part where all the guys got their backs waxed. And Kevin Millar was like, sitting in a spa chair, soaking his feet in flower-petal water, going "What, who ever said being gay is uncool? This is awesome. I am totally gay now!" You'd, uh, just have to see it. Apparently he reported afterwards that he got a lot of phone calls from his friends making fun of him for how silly he was in it. The part where they had the Fab 5 and the Little Leaguers and the Red Sox guys all playing baseball together was pretty comical too. All in all, a good watch.

But, yeah. Rain sucks.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Rambling about the Rainiers, and about Daisuke Matsuzaka

Not that anyone actually reads this, but a few things.

1) Hunter Brown is really tearing it up down in Tacoma. I know that when I last went to a Rainiers game, on May 6, he was hitting .148/.246/.185. Well, a month later, it's June 9th, and he's hitting .266/.351/.409. Dave Cameron took him off the Future Forty with the excuse "Can't hit AAA pitching", but I think the guy's done something to correct that. Not that we need a new 2nd or 3rd baseman on the Mariners right this minute, but I think it's great that he's improving, you know? I'm heading down to the Rainiers game tomorrow, though, and looking forward to it.

2) Speaking of Tacoma, today's game featured Felix Hernandez pitching against Ryan Rupe. You know what the weird thing is? I remember the last time I saw Ryan Rupe pitch. It wasn't in Tampa, or Tacoma, or anywhere over here -- it was actually outside Tokyo at the April 6, 2004 game at Chiba Stadium. He was pitching for the Nippon Ham Fighters as they played against the Chiba Lotte Marines. Really! I took a picture of the lineups on the board before the game started..

See, there he is, I even pointed it out if you can't read katakana. Also notable in this lineup is Matt Franco as the leadoff third baseman for the Marines, Benny Agbayani as their left fielder, and Angel Echevarria as the Fighters' DH.

(It was a good game. The Fighters won 4-1 and I screamed my lungs out in the left field bleachers along with the rest of the F's oendan.)

3) Speaking of Japan, I've been watching the Lions-Swallows games this week, and I'm stymied by Daisuke Matsuzaka. He's looking so good out there, yet everyone sees the wrong numbers and thinks he's looking bad. I mean, take a look at his stats for this year.

(from Yahoo!スポーツ プロ野球)

He's pitched 9 complete games, started 12. Won 4, lost 7. 97 innings pitched, 391 batters faced, 72 hits, 3 home runs, 106 strikeouts, 25 walks, 4 hit batters, 29 runs, 23 earned runs, for a 2.13 ERA. That's also a 4.24 K/BB ratio and a 1.0 WHIP, if you're counting, and a 9.8 K/9, as well as only giving up a home run every 33 innings or so.

The 4-7 record is retarded for someone who's that good. He doesn't give up home runs and he strikes people out like mad. Let's see the games he's been in...

June 7: gave up 5 earned runs, Lions lost 3-7.
May 31: gave up 2 earned runs, Lions lost 1-2.
May 25: gave up 1 earned run, Lions won 4-1.
May 18: gave up 2 earned runs, Lions lost 2-3.
May 11: pitched a complete game shutout, Lions won 4-0.
May 5: gave up 1 earned run, Lions win 10-1.

Hmm... I can't seem to find box scores for earlier games, dammit. But:

Apr 29: Looks like Matsuzaka got the loss, 4-6, but there were several errors.
Apr 22: Matsuzaka gets the loss, Lions lose 0-2.
Apr 15: Matsuzaka gets the loss, Lions lose 1-2.
Apr 8: Matsuzaka gets the win, Lions win 8-2.
Apr 2: Matsuzaka gets the loss, Lions lose 3-5.
Mar 26, opening day: he pitches 7 scoreless innings but doesn't get the win.

Now, wait. Look at some of these losses... aside from this last game where he gave up 5 earned runs, I swear he rarely gives up more than 2 runs if that, but the Lions just aren't giving him run support.

The reason I was looking at all this is that I was trying to figure out how Fumiya Nishiguchi had an 8-3 record when Matsuzaka had a 4-7 record. Nishiguchi is a decent pitcher, but he's not a better pitcher than Matsuzaka by any means. His numbers:

He's pitched 1 complete game, started 11. Won 8, lost 3. 73.1 innings pitched, 303 batters faced, 64 hits, 8 home runs, 63 strikeouts, 18 walks, 5 hit batters, 26 runs, 24 earned runs for an ERA of 2.94. And still an awesome 3.5 K/BB rate, and a 1.12 WHIP. But it's also a home run once per 9 innings, and a K/9 of 7.7.

Now, this isn't awful by any means, it's still good pitching. Infact, if most of our Mariners pitchers were putting up these numbers I'd be overjoyed. But the main difference is the games he's been in. Yesterday's game he won 4-1. On 6/3 he won 6-5 (though he only gave up one run). On 5/27 he lost because the Lions were shut out, 0-4. On 5/20 he won by one run, 3-2, him giving up the 2. On 5/13 he won 6-1. On 5/6 he won 13-4, him giving up the 4.

If the Lions had managed to score as many runs in Matsuzaka's starts as they did in Nishiguchi's and vice versa, Matsuzaka would be like 9-2, and Nishiguchi would be like 5-6.

My brain hurts from trying to read enough Japanese to dig up box scores, so I'm signing off. Still. I'm just weirded out seeing articles saying "Matsuzaka seems to be having an off year with his lousy win-loss record".

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Drafts and stuff

The Mariners picked Jeff Clement as their draft pick, 3rd overall, first round.

He's a lefty power-hitting catcher, and a college one at that. I think that's a good call on the Mariners' organization -- we need more catchers and we need them SOON. A lefty will hit well at Safeco, and a college guy means he could be ready for the majors a lot sooner than other prospects.

The other thing is this. If you were drafted in the Mariners system right now, there are several positions that seem to be fairly locked up for the next few years -- first and third base, most of the outfield, etc. And I can only imagine how anyone would feel as a first baseman in Tacoma (it's no wonder A.J.Zapp left). We also seem to have a bunch of people who think they're shortstops in the system. But catchers? No way. This guy could be easily contending for a starting place in the lineup as early as 2007.

In other news, Queer Eye For the Straight Guy airs their "Red Sox Makeover" episode tonight, and I'll hopefully get to see it at a friend's house. And as far as some other Red Sox go, Gabe Kapler was released by the Yomiuri Giants last Friday for, well, sucking it up. (He was hitting .153/.217/.261, and they had a perfectly good left fielder waiting to step in for him, Takayuki Shimizu, who is hitting .289/.346/.497 and is an all-around good fielder. I hate to say it, but I figured this would happen, especially with the Giants falling to last place in the Central League.

I watched Daisuke Matsuzaka pitch against Yakult last night. He lost, but oh man, this guy is gonna strike out people like nobody's business when he makes it over to MLB in a couple years, I swear.

See, Seibu and Softbank are the only Japanese teams that broadcast their games over the internet, and they're both in the Pacific League, so the interleague play over there is pretty cool to me, since I get to see other teams as well. This is the first year they're doing it, and as far as I can tell, the PL teams really do get about 10-15k more people attending when the Giants play than otherwise, though I just did a cursory glance at attendance. So, it's good stuff all around - I get to see the CL teams over the net and the PL teams get more attendance.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Devil Rays - Don't Come Around Here Nomo

(No, I didn't make up that title, the Mariners beat writers used it in their article. Oh man.)

I had a friend in town this weekend from Canada, and he wanted to go to a baseball game. So we went to today's game because we thought it'd be cool to see Hideo Nomo pitch vs. Jamie Moyer. And oh man, it was. Hideo Nomo was going for his 200th career win (counting his Japan and America professional games) and Jamie Moyer was going for his 198th career win. Sadly, neither of them got it.

Moyer and Borders as a battery are the oldest pair in recent baseball history. Contrariwise, it was Little League day and they had a giveaway of an adorable poster of current Mariners with pictures of what they looked like in little league. (It was for kids 14 and under, but I managed to find a stray one.) The other thing about it being Little League day is that the stadium was oddly packed. 40,000 fans, but most of the View Box section of the upper deck looked empty, and large sections of the Club Level and of Field were also empty. However, all of View Reserved, even up in right field, was packed full of people.

Moyer got into trouble early on, although the thing is, I thought he pitched an excellent game. He threw 126 pitches, 84 for strikes. That's pretty awesome for him, I think. 6 innings pitched, 7 hits, 3 earned runs, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts. The game see-sawed a lot though -- Moyer finished pitching and it was 4-4, then the Mariners picked up a run in the bottom of the 6th to make it 5-4, meaning Moyer might get a win, but Nomo would get the loss. However, Mateo and Nelson gave up a run in the next inning, making it 5-5, so Nomo wouldn't get the loss either. At that point it was a crap shoot.

I noticed the White Sox and Indians were also in a deadlock, going 3-3 into the 10th, and then 4-4 into the 11th. We were 5-5 going into the bottom of the 9th, but then Adrian Beltre got his 1000th career hit with a single to right field. There was an announcement on the board and a stop for applause, and then Richie Sexson came up and hammered a double, scoring Beltre and ending the game right there. Cool stuff. Well, except the part where Ronnie "The Bear" Villone got the win for having been put in for the 9th inning.

The Pat Borders Fan Club notes that Borders scored the first Mariners run of the game in the 3rd inning by getting on with a bunt single (Take that, Devil Rays, you got your asses beaten out on a bunt single by a 42-year-old catcher!) and getting slowly moved around the bases. Richie Sexson struck out with the bases loaded, too, which he didn't seem too happy about.

Randy Winn was 4-for-5 today, but Ichiro was only 1-for-4. Aubrey Huff decided to pretend to be Ichiro and pull off a stupendous catch against the right field wall, except he forgot it's treated with Non-Ichiro-Repellant, and so after he made his spectacular leap and catch, he dropped the ball, allowing Winn his third hit of the day. Whee. However, don't be fooled by that -- those Tampa Bay guys sure can run. A depressingly high number of them got from first to third on any single hit, and there were a ton of stolen bases.

The man, the myth, the legend. I shoulda taken a picture of the 30 Japanese tourists watching him warm up, with their cameras, softly exclaiming "sugoi." as he threw his warmup throws.

This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays kings, brings disorder,
Destroys all, except Pat Borders.
(from here)


So, yeah, a good game.

Since I didn't talk about it, I did go to the Mariners - Blue Jays game on Wednesday, too, which was also good. Gil Meche pitched pretty well, I thought. I hadn't noticed before, but they play "I Can't Drive 55" as his theme song, heh. I've been trying to figure out which pitchers have theme songs -- Jeff Nelson does, and Shiggy does, but those were the only ones I could think of. Pat Borders also looked good on Wednesday, going 2-2 and scoring one of the 3 runs we got, and certainly would have earned the Boyfriend of the Day award from me, if I were Batgirl. I just think he's so super-cool. (Yes, shut up, I know I hated him in 1993. I hated Olerud too, remember?)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Mariners Uno

Yes, I'm a tool. I bought the Mariners Uno card game when I saw it in the Team Store at the end of the 2003 season. I was cleaning my apartment this evening and found it under a pile of stuff.

Anyway, it's pretty funny to look at it now -- let's give you a run-down of the cards, and what happened to the players in question:

1 - Freddy Garcia - Traded to Chicago White Sox, June 2004
2 - Dan Wilson - Still on the team, out for 2005 with torn ACL
3 - John Olerud - DFA'ed July 2004, signed with Yankees, now with Red Sox
4 - Bret Boone
5 - Carlos Guillen - Traded to Detroit Tigers, January 2004
6 - Jeff Cirillo - Traded to San Diego Padres, January 2004
7 - Mark McLemore - Departed via free agency to Baltimore, February 2004, now retired
8 - Mike Cameron - Departed via free agency to Mets, December 2003
9 - Ichiro
0 - Edgar Martinez - Retired, October 2004
Reverse - Mike Cameron - See 8
Skip - Mark McLemore - See 7
Draw Two - Freddy Garcia & Dan Wilson - See 1 & 2
Wild - Dan Wilson - Poor Dan :(
Wild Draw Four - Umpire - Well, some things will never change

There's also an "Open Roof" card which has a picture of Safeco Field, the rule being that it's a wild card but you also can pick a player and look through their hand. Safeco ought to be here a while, I think.

Yeah, so if you bought the Mariners Uno set, you might be looking at it now like "Ichiro... Bret Boone... who are the rest of these guys?"

I suppose it's normal roster movement, but I think the parts that are sadder are looking at how well Guillen, Garcia, etc are doing now. Maybe Seattle's just cursed.