Friday, September 30, 2005


Today's game was the first time the attendance was ever under 20k in Safeco Field.

And Ryan Franklin even got a win, most likely his last win with the Mariners.

Dan Appreciation Night should be interesting.

I hope Jeremy Reed's wrist turns out okay.

I'm really glad they're having Harris start Saturday and maybe having Meche do bullpen duty again. This is a great move.

Next year's schedule looks kind of sucky. We get two weekend series against Boston, but other than that... we only see Minnesota once, Cleveland once, the Yankees once, and instead we get a lot of Tampa Bay and Detroit. Oh boy. I mean, I'll still get a 16-game plan and all, but I bet I'll be planning a lot more baseball road&plane trips next summer.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Rangers - It's not his destiny to be the King of Pain

(another late game report. I apologize. This is about the game on the evening of September 27th)

You know, there's precious little to be excited about on the Mariners in these waning days of the 2005 season. Namely, we have "King Felix and the Curveball of Doom", and we have "Yuniesky Betancourt and the Arm of Darkness". And yet, only 22,739 people came out for the game yesterday. Not that I really blame anyone, after all. Texas is long out of the running, and we're even further out.

Me, I was attending the game with my mother and my stepfather, who are both in town this week. Now, I have learned precious few life lessons from my mother -- but for the first fourteen years or so of my life, my mom had Sunday season tickets to the Phillies, and I learned a very important skill then: how to sit through tons of agonizing sucky home games with a pathetically bad team, and still enjoy it for the sheer love of baseball.

Unfortunately, in the last ten years, my mom has gotten slightly senile, and she's also gone slightly deaf, which means that not only does she talk a lot, but she repeats herself constantly, and says a lot of stupid things. Loudly. Things like asking me ninety times how to pronounce "Beltre", or "Teixeira", or "Yuniesky", or even "Ichiro", which she pronounces like "Itch hero".

But, this is a blog about baseball, not a blog for whining about Deanna's mom, so I'll stop there.

Firstly, I just want to congratulate Jimmy Rollins for now having the all-time Phillies hitting streak. Jimmy is rolling at 33 games as I write this, but note: despite this, Jimmy's line for the year is still only .288/.335/.429. Now, Michael Young is having a heck of a year. By going 2-for-5 last night, he upped his current hitting streak to 23 games (and now 24), with his line for the year standing at .334/.388/.521, for a full 150 points higher on the OPS scale than Jimmy. Hmm.

I digress. The Rangers actually got off to a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning with a single, a double, and a grounder, but that was it for them for a very long time. Felix settled down and started striking them out, picking them off base (Matthews in the third, caught sleeping), etc. Although he hit Hank Blalock with a pitch - and I can't imagine getting plunked in the shoulder by a 97 mph fastball can be much fun - he was doing pretty well placing his pitches, and even, dare I say it, pitching to contact, making the guys hit those grounders.

Fortunately, Yuniesky Betancourt was, as always, up to the challenge of making sure those grounders were fielded properly. I mean, even when he doesn't have it, he has it. It's crazy. On one play in the 8th inning, the ball was hit hard towards second base, a hit which would normally go into center field for a single. However, Betancourt dashed over, dove into the ground to stop the ball, spun around slightly, and then hesitated on his knees for a second as Rod Barajas barrelled towards first. It seemed he wasn't going to throw the ball - but then, BOOM! still kneeling, he fired it to Richie Sexson just in time for the out. Buck Showalter came out to argue about it for a while, and the umpire ejected him. My stepfather came back up the stairs shortly after that -- he'd been outside smoking or something -- and he says "By the way, he WAS out. Not by much, but he was. They showed it about ten times on the TV screens back there."

Now, the Mariners did manage to get a few hits in edgewise, don't get me wrong. Jose Lopez was 4-for-5 on the night, and Betancourt was 2-for-3 with two walks. Ichiro was 0-for-3... with THREE INTENTIONAL WALKS. The crowd booed louder and louder with each subsequent one. It was almost like having A-Rod at the park.

Rangers leftfielder Jason Botts really must like the Mariners, since he gave us a ton of help. First there was the time that Jeremy Reed was standing on second following a ground rule double over the Nikon sign. Ibanez came up to bat, and he hit the ball to left field. It was a clean single, but as it rolled to Botts, he couldn't quite get his glove on it, so in the meantime, Reed managed to score. Then, a few innings later, Jose Lopez hit the ball out towards left field as well. The ball flew, flew, flew... and Jason Botts leaped up! And caught it! Wait... no he didn't! The ball fell out of his glove. Lopez stopped at second. There was some argument over whether it should have actually been a home run, but apparently the umpires decided against that. (It makes sense to me. If the fielder managed to get the ball back into the park, they should get some credit for that.) Not that it mattered, as Ichiro was intentionally walked and Jeremy Reed struck out to end that inning. (This is also what happened in the 9th. It's sad.)

I went up and watched the bottom of the 5th and top of the 6th innings from my usual seat (this game was on my season ticket plan, but I'd traded in my tickets to get 3 seats together with my parents), so I could say goodbye to the guys I have season tickets next to. It turns out the reason they hadn't been at the games in a few weeks was because one of them went off to Italy for a month to finish his degree in some UW exchange program. How cool is that? Anyway, they're talking about switching seats next year, and I'm thinking of switching too, so I may never see them again. Weird.

By the time the dust cleared at the end of the 5th inning, the score was 2-1 Mariners, where it would stay until the top of the 9th inning. Felix came back in for the 9th, having thrown 95 pitches so far. And he was still pretty good - it was down to two outs, with a guy on second, and Kevin Mench was up to bat, and they put the usual "UP ON YOUR FEET!" thing on the board. I pondered standing up -- since there have been so many heartbreaking times where I've stood up only to have the game get prolonged past that at-bat, or worse, have the game tied up or something. But, I stood up anyway, figuring, what the heck, it's Felix, no problem, right?

Wrong. Mench hits a single to left, and Esteban German, running for Hank Blalock, dashes home as Ibanez can't quite throw the ball in quick enough. The game's tied at 2-2 as Adrian Gonzalez strikes out.

We did manage to load the bases in the bottom of the 9th -- I'm sure the entire team wanted to score a run for Felix, they really did - but again, like I said, Ichiro was intentionally walked yet again to more booing, and then Reed came up to bat and struck out. Now, at least this time he fouled off like five consecutive pitches before doing so, but still. Actually, I didn't realize Brian Shouse pitched sidearm, but he was pitching lefty sidearm to Reed, which was kind of cool. I suppose what was even sillier was how they brought in Dave Hansen to pinch-hit for Torrealba, so the Rangers switched pitchers from Joaquin Benoit (my mom COULD pronounce that name) to Shouse. So Hargrove had Rene Rivera (!) pinch hit for Hansen.

Anyway, if you were one of the 300 people who actually stayed until the end of the game, or were watching it on TV, you know what happened. It went into extra innings, Mateo came out to pitch for the Mariners, and the Rangers pushed ahead a run in the 11th to make it 3-2. Their Cordero (since my mom was wearing a Nationals shirt, she thought it was absolutely hilarious that some other team has a closer named Cordero) came out to close. And while Jose "On Fire" Lopez got a nice double, and Yuniesky "Glove 10, Bat 3" Betancourt hit a single to put him on third... they had Shin-Soo Choo come in to hit for Rivera. And I swear the guy acted like he'd never seen a 98 mph fastball before, as he struck out on three of them in a row. With two outs, they actually pitched to Ichiro, and he grounded to first, and they came out to tag him. He dodged the tag for a bit -- and Jose Lopez ran home -- but then Teixeira stepped on first base, and the game was over.

It was pretty disappointing.

By the way, if you care, the Rangers have a 13-5 win-loss record against the Mariners this year. I'm not kidding. That's terrrrrible.

I'm sort of torn about this whole season-ending thing. On the one hand, what am I going to do for the next 5-6 months? On the other hand, I'm really running out of momentum here; while I had some personal goals about attending games, writing game reports, seeing some new stadiums, etc this season, I'm sort of looking forward to a break in the off-season. I have various things to review, and Blogger stuff to play with. Also, who knows, the postseason could be pretty entertaining, and there'll be lots of stuff to discuss once the winter contract fun begins.

Though to be perfectly honest, right now, I actually couldn't care less for offseason speculating... and sadly, that seems to be what everyone wants to do these days, which is understandable, since the season's been effectively over so long and they want to look to next year. It's interesting if people have any real scoop on who the front office is going after -- and that's why USSM can be fun -- but I personally just don't feel like making the effort to try to guess about who or where the Mariners will be spending their money in the off-season. And it's not like they'd be listening to a nerdy baseball fangirl like me anyway, so why waste my energy hoping or dreaming? I'm sure Bavasi has some good ideas and will do the best he can. Besides, any speculation I would do would undoubtedly be things like "We should sign Jarrod Washburn, because he has dreamy blue eyes. And Kevin Millwood, because he's my hero. And trade for Eric Byrnes because he's so hyper-dorky-cute." You know, high-quality evaluations like those.

There's this great scene in Fever Pitch where Ben is telling Lindsay why he can't come see her family at the end of March, and her reaction pretty much sums up exactly how I feel these days every time I see another post about free agent signings or offseason trades:

Ben: I figured it wouldn't matter, but every year during Easter vacation, uh, me and my friends, we go down to Florida.
Lindsay: You and your buddies go down to Florida for spring break? At your age?
Ben: No, no, no, not spring break. Spring training with the Red Sox.
Lindsay: Oh, you get to train with the Red Sox? Are you allowed to do that?
Ben: Well, we don't actually - we watch the games.
Lindsay: Aren't those just practice games?
Ben: Yeah, yeah, but there's more to it than that. We scout the players. We.. We say which players they should keep... and which they should get rid of.
Lindsay: And the Red Sox ask your opinion?
Ben: Well, not yet! But if they ever do... uh... (is at a loss for words)

Anyway, that's beside the point. I looked at my scorecard and figured out that I have three pages left in it. Which means that I'd like to try to get to all three A's games this weekend to fill it up. We'll see if it happens.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Nicknames Post

I guess that if I really can't escape this whole "Seattle's wannabe Bat-Girl" thing, one of these days I was going to have to make a requisite "Nicknames" post. (Not to be confused with the Name Game Awards post, which honors baseball players with crazy names.)

Nicknames that I semi-regularly use around here:

Mariners / Ex-Mariners

Bobby Madritsch - "Bowflex"

Greg Dobbs - "Dobby the Bench Elf"

Dan Wilson - "Danny Boy"

Pat Borders - "Uncle Rico"

J.J.Putz - "John Jacob Jingleheimer Putz"

Jarrod Washburn - "J-Rod the Washburninator", Blue Eyes

Jeremy Reed - "Bearemy Reed"
Eddie Guardado - "Teddy Beardado"

Gil Meche - "Meche Assault"

Ron Villone - "Ronnie the Bear"

Chris Snelling - "Doyle" (from USSM)

Hunter Brown - "Hunter Brown For Third"


Chase Utley - "Chasey-at-the-Bat", "An Ace Homers Cutely"

Pat Burrell - "Pattycakes" (sometimes "Pattycakes Strikeout", if I'm pissed off at him).
Left field at CBP: Burrellville, Pattstown

Ryan Howard - "Cerrano"

Jimmy Rollins: "J-Roll", "J-Roll from the Bay" (after his rap song "Wish List" on Oh Say Can You Sing)
Jason Michaels: "J-Mike"

Cole Hamels: "Holy Camels", "Old King Cole"


Randy Johnson - "Big Ugly"

Orlando Hernandez - "El Dookie" (also from USSM)

Miguel Tejada - Mister-Swings-At-Everything (from Moneyball)

"Alphabet Soup" - refers to a lot of guys with long last names, but particularly Justin Duchscherer and Dougie Mientkiewicz

Mark Grudzielanek - "Grudzilla" (from the back of his Topps 2005 baseball card)

Jason Marquis - "Marquis Mark"

Joe Crede - "Shoeless Joe from Jefferson, MO" (sorta like Joe Hardy in Damn Yankees), "Speedy Crede", "Crede Clearwater Revival"

Rob Mackowiak - "Whack-o-Mack", "Mack Daddy"

Craig Wilson - "Mullet"

Kevin Youkilis - "The Greek God of Moneyball References"

Bobby Kielty - "The Heatmiser" (from MSB)

Joe Blanton - "Cupcakes" (from Athletics Nation)

Albert Pujols - "Pujols At The Bat"

Brad Wilkerson - "Bluegrass" (picked up from Ball-Wonk), "Wilkie" (picked up from my brother)

Roberto Petagine - "Eeny Meeny Petagine" (just like Eeny Meeny Morandini!)

Japanese baseball

Michihiro Ogasawara - "Guts" (it's just the nickname he already has), "Clean-Shaven Doppleganger"

Shunsuke Watanabe - "Sub" Marine

Hiroyuki Kobayashi - "The Other Kobayashi"

Tsuyoshi Nishioka - Boy Wonder Nishioka, Speed Star Nishioka

Tsuyoshi Shinjo - "Darth Shinjo"

Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi - "Old Man Shimoyanagi", "Teddy Bear"

Tomoya Satozaki - "Dorkozaki"

Tomoya Yagi - "Papa Yagi"

Kei Igawa - "Dappe", "Lord Igawa of Mito"

Satoru Kanemura - "Kanemoron"

Masahiko Morino - "Dragonbutt" (and thus Tatsunami is "Dragonbutt Senior")

Monday, September 26, 2005

Chase Utley, Boy Wonder

Chuck Klein has recently had his butt kicked in the records department twice. First, by Jimmy Rollins's streak, now up to 30 games. Klein had two 26-game streaks for the Phillies in 1930.

Second, by Ichiro's hit counts in the last 5 seasons. Chuck Klein formerly held the record for hits in 5 consecutive seasons with 1118, and Ichiro just broke it.

I actually compared Jimmy Rollins and Ichiro as leadoff hitters in a comment on Beerleaguer a month or two back. And for a while there, I was worried that J-Roll was going to make me look really bad for the comparison. But instead, he's exploded for the last month -- between him, Ryan Howard, and Chase Utley, the Phillies have been nothing short of amazing.

According to MLB stats, Jimmy has the best average in the MLB over the last 30 days, for a .398/.444/.618 line. What makes me sad is the #4 guy on that list... former Mariner Randy Winn, coming in at a .375/.407/.732 line with 9 home runs. And of course, there's nobody on the top 50 from Seattle. Go figure. We are slumpichrudinous.

Anyway, the real reason I wanted to write something today was because of CHASE UTLEY, BOY WONDER. Now, I've had a bit of a crush on Chase Utley for quite some time now, to the point that when I was at a few Phillies-Mets games at Shea this summer and a bunch of Mets fans were like "Oh, who's this kid? Chase UGLY, is he?" I retorted, "He's better-looking than Piazza!" But, does anyone else play baseball with the same intensity as Chasey-at-the-Bat? He's really a joy to watch in the field whether he's having a good day or a bad day.

Chase Utley got an inside-the-park home run during yesterday's 6-3 win against the Reds. No, really! Go look at the game wrap page and watch the video. How cool is that?

I realized that I was pretty sure I'd never seen an inside-the-park home run at any game I've been to, or really even heard of many. So, I searched around and found SABR's "50 Years of Inside-The-Park Home Runs" page, about guys hitting ITPHR's to end games. There's also the page of Inside the Park Grand Slams. But I'm trying to figure out how you'd find out how often they happen in general, these days?

Baseball Almanac lists a whole bunch of people who hit a lot of inside-the-park home runs. And they're pretty much all from 1920 or earlier. It makes sense -- ITPHR's are really a relic of history, from the time where ballparks were huge and irregular, and fielders were more error-prone, so a hard-smacked ball could easily get lost in the corners of a vast 400-foot right field, or roll into a doghouse, or deflect off a flagpole, or what have you. I mean, Utley's ITPHR was deflected off a fielder into the corner, after all.

(Trivia for you: Ty Cobb won the triple crown in 1909 with a whopping 9 home runs, all of which were inside-the-park home runs.)

So, these days they are a pretty rare occurrence, though. I'm betting they're about as rare as a triple play. Or, dare I say it, almost as rare as the Phillies making the postseason? We're one game behind in the Wild Card with 6 to play. Anything could happen. (Though I worry that Bobby Abreu might fall apart soon.)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Strange things are afoot at the Circle K

I know, I know, I'm supposed to be writing about the Mariners, but sadly, I find it so hard to care about them this week. I'll be better next week, I promise. I'm even going to the games for sure on Tuesday and Friday. Maybe Sunday, depending on what happens with Danny Boy.

Well, wait. Let's see, what happened to the M's this week? They went to Toronto, where they got to hang out with the Boo Jays, a team which is distinctly better than the Mariners, in that they're actually almost playing .500 ball. Also, they're in Canada, which of course makes them cooler, except the part where they lack real Canadians. The player with the most French-sounding name, Gustavo Chacin, is actually from Venezuela. I suppose they've got Cordel Leonard Koskie, the pride of Manitoba, though, so it's not an entirely lost cause.

On Monday, Richie Sexson hit a grand slam to win the game. On Tuesday, the highlight was getting to see Gil Meche bullpenning it, despite a loss. On Felixday, he pitched a heck of a game, and while Eddie tried to lose it, he couldn't, quite. The highlight of that game, of course, was seeing Brandon League come out and replace Dave Bush. The jokes write themselves this late in the season, y'know. Today, we had the father-to-be Pineiro out on the mound, and while it was nice to see the M's weren't going to take the first inning 5-0 deficit lying down, someone decided it'd be a good idea to leave Pineiro in the game into the 8th inning, where he promptly gave up two runs. (Not to totally diss his performance - 8 K in 8 innings is better than we see from most of our staff.)

So, we split the series with the Jays. It could be worse. If we hadn't, they'd be at .500 now, and we'd be tied with Tampa Bay for second-worst team in the AL.

Speaking of the worst team in the AL, for some reason we're now going off to face our AL Central rivals, the Detroit Tigers. They have just come off a wonderful four-game series, where they were, um, swept by Kansas City. Yeah. You know the Royals, right? That team that lost to Cleveland tonight for their 100th loss of the year? Yeah, them. I hope the Tigers are ashamed of themselves.

But, hey, more improbable things have happened. Why don't I talk for a minute about a team I actually care about right now -- the Phillies!

Yes, I'm young (relatively, that is). But I've been properly taught to shudder at certain things. I mean, if you're a diehard Phillies fan, you have a haiku tattooed on your soul that goes a little like this:

Six games up, with twelve to play
Why should we worry?

41 years ago yesterday, September 21 1964, was the day where the Phillies started the legendary ten-game slide which caused them to finish in second place, despite that there should have been no way it could happen with such a great team. My grandfather even had his World Series tickets ordered. I wasn't there. I don't know. But what I do know is, it started with the Cincinnati Reds. It also ended with the Cincinnati Reds. Guess where the Phillies are off to this weekend to play? Cincinnati. And we NEED to win. Despite the Pirates' best attempts -- and they really tried, even putting Zach Duke up today -- the Astros took 3 out of 4 games from the Buccos.

Now, it's true that the Cubs aren't completely awful -- and actually, so far this season the Astros are 4-5 against them -- but, of the Astros' 9 games left to play, 7 are against the Cubs, 2 are against the Cardinals. Even if the Cards whomp 'em and they don't win all of their games against the Cubs, if the Astros go 5-4 in their last 9 games, the Phillies would have to go 7-2 to even tie them for the wildcard. It's not impossible, but it's a long shot by all means.

The really sucky part is that this really all comes down to that series against Houston at the beginning of the month. The Phillies needed to win, and they didn't. It was inexcusable. Especially the part where they didn't win either game that I attended. Bastards.

But let's look at the bright side. Jimmy Rollins, bless his heart, has come back from his slump that made everybody go "What sort of lead-off hitter is this chump?" and instead is in the midst of a 27-game hitting streak, which is the best hitting streak by a Phillies player since Ed Delahanty in 1899.

Ryan Howard, in an equally-improbable event, slugged a grand slam to win Wednesday's game. What's improbable about it? It was off a lefty. Infact, it was his ONLY home run off a lefty this year. But it came at a great time. I can almost imagine him stepping up to the plate, going "I asked you, Jobu, to come help me hit the lefties. I give you rum. I give you cigars. But you no come. Fuck you, Jobu. I do it myself."

Jon Lieber, who I wrote a despondent "Dear Jon" letter to a few weeks ago, has really stepped up this month. He is 4-0 with a 1.32 ERA this month. And while today's game was a nailbiter, still 0-0 into the 9th, the Phillies decided to see if they could get a win for Jonny. And what a win! The first career home run for Shane Victorino couldn't have come at a better time. V is for victory, Victorino, and Vicente Padilla, who takes the mound tomorrow. LET'S GO PHILLIES!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Game Report: Twins vs. White Sox - A Sweet Tune by Johan Santana, Wedding Singer

This is really a report about a wedding/ballgame on September 17th, 2005.

I got up super-duper early, at like 7:30am CDT, and got all dressed up for Laurel and Kevin (and 82 other couples') wedding! ...meaning I put on a Mariners shirt and jeans. Hot damn, it's cool to go to a wedding and not have to wear a dress. I got a ride to the light rail, and whoooshed down to the Metrodome.

Matthew LeCroy wearing a white bow tie, coming
back from the Matrimonial First Pitch.

Showed up at the stadium at about 8:50ish, and found Peter, who had a baseball ticket for me, and some other friends of Laurel's whose names I have forgotten or never quite caught. Apparently we were actually there BEFORE the stadium opened! So when they did open it finally at 9:10am, we plodded in. I went around for a while taking pictures of the place (metrodome shots: 1 2 3 4 5), since I hadn't been there before. My impression of the Metrodome is that it reminds me of the Tokyo Dome, but smaller. I don't think I'd really like seeing games there on a regular basis, but it was fun to be in a new place for once. Everybody was extremely friendly and nice.

It turns out that they actually discriminate between the two levels of the place, though, and you can't just go to the lower level if you have an upper-level ticket. However, since I was so early, and my ticket did say "Multiple Matrimony" on it since Laurel's parents bought the group tickets for it, I found a very nice stairway guard lady who said she'd just let me go down, but I'd have to talk the ushers down there into letting me go in to take pictures of the ceremony. I went downstairs (and bought a long-sleeve Twins shirt because all their t-shirts were sold out except in M and XXL), and snuck into the lower field section by 115 or so where there were no ushers guarding it. There was no batting practice, but pitchers (read: Francisco Liriano) were out throwing, and some fielding practice was going on, so eventually I got Scott Baker to sign my ticket, and Matt Guerrier and J.C Romero to sign my Twins program. That was pretty cool. They were very sweet about signing stuff; it seems like the players are in general. There was a gaggle of teenage girls who kept shouting out "JOE!!!!!" "JOE, COME OVER HERE!!!!" and Joe Mauer would just look at them and wave and smile like "Oh god, not another bunch."

Eventually, there was a wedding! They led 83 couples onto the field from inside the right field stadium bowels. It was really interesting to see all the different couples. Some were getting married; some were renewing vows. Some were extremely dressed up - there were some traditional huge white wedding dresses, and a few guys in tuxes, but there was also a lot of people in Twins clothes, and what was kind of cool was how each couple was *unique* -- like, there were a few of 'em where the women used Twins homer hankies as veils; some where they weren't dressed in Twins apparel at all; some where just in jerseys and jeans; one or two couples renewing vows where they had a son or daughter with them; some hybrids where the guy was in a Twins jersey and shorts and the girl was wearing a gigantic white dress.

I spotted Kevin and Laurel as they came out and were greeted by TC Bear. Laurel was wearing a red camisole and a white floofy skirt and a Torii Hunter Twins jersey, and she had baseball Keds. Kevin had a black suit on, but with an all-black Twins jersey as his vest. It was very cool. (Later on, they had "Bride" and "Groom" baseball caps, and their parents had "Father of the BRIDE" and such baseball caps.)

The ceremony was about 20 minutes long. They had the processional where everyone came in; then they had this reverend guy speaking for a while, and they had a lady come out and sing "We've Only Just Begun", and then there was more speaking, and some vows, and they put on rings, and kissed, and waved to the crowd, and all that stuff. To be honest, it was a (not unexpectedly) generic wedding service. The funny part was that the Twins were stretching and running out in left field and the White Sox were in right field, while the ceremony was going on. As Laurel commented later, from her position near third base, she could see players signing stuff by the dugout. (Laurel: "Look! Little Nicky Punto is signing stuff!" Kevin: "Dear, we're getting *married* right now!") A few of the players stopped to watch the ceremony, though.

They had one of the couples throw out the matrimonial first pitch. Matthew LeCroy caught it. He was wearing a bowtie. It was PRECIOUS.

I snuck back up to the second level and found my seat. I was sitting in a row with Laurel and Kevin and some of their friends. We were all in section 228, rows 7-10, or so. Batling PJStP stopped by for a while. Some people down our row had a whole bunch of signs since they had held up "CONGRATS LAUREL AND KEVIN!!" during the ceremony. (Here's a picture of that someone else took.) So, anagramming, they figured out that we could also use those letters and spell out "SANTANA!!" since Johan Santana was pitching the game. So we did that a few times. It was funny.

The game itself was ABSOLUTELY FUCKING AMAZING. I am totally in awe and fear of El Presidente, Johan Santana. No, really. He was mowing the White Sox down. He had a perfect game until the 5th inning when Aaron Rowand smacked a single into center. And through the course of the first 8 innings, the White Sox only got two hits off Santana, and struck out 13 times. That's THIRTEEN STRIKEOUTS. I joked later that it was a shame he didn't get fourteen -- then you could say it was a 14-K-Rat wedding game! He ran into a little bit of trouble in the 9th, and I'm sad they even put him out there since he was up to 102 pitches. He loaded the bases, and they brought in Joe Nathan, who promptly struck out Everett, Rowand, and Dye, to win and save the game and shutout. It was amazing. I almost think I need to go buy a "Don't blame me, I voted for Santana/Nathan" shirt after that performance. The Twins' offense also didn't totally suck, and Morneau and Cuddyer both hit home runs, to boot.

(As an aside, the Twins have a LOT of really good-looking guys playing for them. Why don't the Mariners? Sigh.)

Actually, the thing about the game is -- there isn't much to report, since my entire White Sox scorecard looks mostly like "K K K K K K K" with occasional other things. Such as Johan Santana running down Pablo Ozuna at first and diving to tag him out. It looked cool, but crap, it's a good thing he didn't get injured doing that.

Oh yeah, and El Dookie sucks.

Somewhere in the 4th or 5th inning, a guy proposed to his girlfriend and it was up on the big screens. Now, normally that wouldn't be so weird, but the fact that he was proposing on the day where 83 couples were there getting married seemed just a bit like his timing was off, eh?

Later in the evening Laurel and Kevin had a wedding reception at a hotel, which was pretty fun. They had two wedding cakes (and plenty of peanuts and Cracker Jacks!), one of which had a baseball diamond on it. Nobody seemed to actually want to cut into that part. I suggested that L & K should save the baseball diamond -- much like you normally would save the top layer if you had a multi-tiered cake -- and freeze it and eat it in a year. I also suggested they should go to Twins Spring Training for their honeymoon. Man, Laurel is totally living my dream wedding :)

Monday, September 19, 2005

I'm back from Minneapolis!

So, yeah. I'm back from Minneapolis, where I went to a wedding at the Metrodome. It was before an AMAZING Twins - White Sox game, where Johan Santana racked up 13 strikeouts, and when he loaded the bases in the 9th, Joe Nathan came in and racked up 3 more (consecutive) strikeouts for the shutout and save. The score was 5-0 Twins as unlikely (but adorable) heroes Morneau and Cuddyer came through with home runs. I'll post more of a report when I have pictures off my camera and whatnot; I got back to Seattle after midnight last night.

In the meantime, the Rainiers lost the PCL championships to Nashville, getting swept 3 games to none, their final game being a 5-2 loss in 13 innings on Friday night. I guess I don't have to feel bad about being away this weekend after all. The Timber Rattlers are done with their season as well, losing 4-0 against South Bend. They still fared fairly well, getting through three rounds of playoffs.

A guy on USSM posted a link to an article about Hunter Brown, which was pretty cool. I'd really like to see Brown up in Seattle as another utility guy next year, to see if he can do better than Bloomquist. As some of you know, I joked about changing my blog name to "Hunter Brown For Third", and I've been quietly cheering the guy since the time I went down to Tacoma to see Felix pitch back in May. I dunno, I thought he looked like a much better player than his rep at the time indicated (like when he was unceremoniously removed from the Future Forty for being "unable to hit AAA pitching"; obviously he got a lot better, as he finished the year at .291/.366/.448). So, yay.

The Phillies took the weekend's series against the Marlins, outscoring them 29-19. In Friday's game, it was 2-0 Florida when my plane took off, and when it landed I checked the score, saw the 13-3 Phillies win, and yelled "YES!" which got me a lot of funny looks on the plane. Saturday, I was at the Twins game and it was like 2-0 Florida again, 7th inning on the out-of-town scoreboard when we left. I checked the Phillies score a few hours later and saw the 10-2 with the 10 runs scored in the 9th inning and just said "WHAT?" Man, that is a crazy 9th inning. Lots of errors, lots of implosions. 10 runs. Holy crap, that's awesome. No 22nd win for you, D-train!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Wince Shares and other stuff

1) Tom G of the awesome Phillies blog Balls, Sticks, and Stuff forwarded me a great link this morning. Based on a comment I made on Tom's site, a writer at the Hardball Times took my idea for "Wince Shares" seriously and actually came up with a metric for it, involving the least Win Shares for the most money paid. This is good, as I'd wanted to write about it but wasn't enough of a stathead to come up with a good metric. Also, he agrees that Scott Spiezio was wince-tastic.

2) Along with yesterday's wholly satisfying blowout against the Braves, the Phillies have managed to score FIFTY runs in the last week, doubling the amount they scored the week before. Yes, Phillies phans, from Sep 1-7 the Phillies scored 25 runs, and from Sep 8-14 they scored 50 runs. And that's with a day off on September 8th, even. They are ON PHIRE!

3) Thanks to Houston beating the Marlins yesterday and the series going 2-1 towards Florida, there's pretty much a virtual three-way tie for the NL Wild Card currently. I love it. And kudos to the Mariners for winning their 64th game yesterday, ensuring they will finish better than last year's 63-99 record even if they blow the next 17 games.

3a) Speaking of which, I have a lot of respect for Roger Clemens for taking the mound the day his mom died, and in addition, totally kicking butt. Eat that, A.J.Burnett!

4) Friday night I'm flying to Minneapolis to go to my friend Laurel's wedding, which is at the Metrodome before Saturday morning's Twins-WhiteSox game. El Presidente is pitching against El Dookie. I had been meaning to mention it at some point, and I'll certainly write a game report, but now Bat-Girl has a link to it, along with the invitation text. Isn't that awesome? I don't think I will ever get another wedding invitation with the text "root, root, root for the home team" in it, nor mentioning the wedding venue as being at 34 Kirby Puckett Place. Wheeee!

5) I have to commend PositivePaul of Mariners Morsels for a hilarious team affinity rating, the PISTL (pronounced like "pistol"), or Pleasure-In-Seeing-Them-Lose stat, mentioned recently in a Lookout Landing thread. I shall have to write a more indepth personal PISTL index sometime, both with my favorite and least favorite teams and players.

Rather than making a new post to say like, one thing, I'm just editing this in (at 1pm on Friday). I'm not bringing my laptop to Minneapolis with me, but I will have my Sidekick. Chances are this won't get updated again until Sunday night or Monday morning. I don't know if I really have enough readers for it to matter anyway (do I? hello, readers!), but I figured I might as well leave some sort of parting note before I take off. I promise there will be some creative funny stuff next week. Honest.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Angels - Dobby the Bench Elf Works His Magic

I didn't have time last night to write this up after getting home from the game. I'm backdating it so I'll know it was the September 13 game, though.

In honor of Noche de Béisbol, Steve Finley will be playing the part of the piñata.

My friend Nick was visiting Seattle this past week, since he'd never been out here before. We'd gone to a bunch of Mets and Yankees games in New York back over the Fourth of July, so I owed him some Mariners games. Would you believe, he didn't get to see the Mariners actually win a damn game until his last night in town? (Though, we only went to three games.) If I had said, "We're seeing a Jeff Harris start, a Felix Hernandez start, and a Ryan Franklin start," would you have picked the Franklin one as the only winning game? Yeah, neither would I.

I got to the game during Angels batting practice, and hoped to get some of them to sign my poster (it's been a goal all year for me to try to get Donnelly or Washburn, but oh well). Of course, most of the guys that actually came over were people I already had on it, like Bengie Molina and Scot Shields... but then Tim Salmon came around signing things! I didn't even know he was doing well enough to work out with the team, so it was good to see him. Final poster signature tally: 9 - B.Molina, Shields, Gregg, Mathis, Bud Black, Salmon, Kennedy, DaVanon, and Quinlan.

(Something I noticed: Shields signs stuff with his left hand, but he's a right-handed pitcher...? I wonder if he has a story behind that like Billy Wagner does?)

I saw the crazy Mariners stalker lady I met at the airport a few weeks ago. She was sitting with her other crazy stalker friends, and she waved me to come over and chat, so I did. They were actually pretty funny to talk to. After BP ended, I also ran into Conor and his dad yet again. I swear, Conor goes to more games than I do!

There were a bunch of pre-game things for Latin American night. There were various bands and dancers, most of which I missed while waiting in line for food. They sounded pretty good from where I was, though. And then throughout the night, they had an announcer who would introduce all the players in Spanish after they were introduced in English. There was also a small baseball card giveaway with a set of 9 cards in English and Spanish - Beltre, Betancourt, Eddie, Felix, Ibañez, Lopez, Mateo, Piñeiro, and Torrealba. I studied Spanish back in highschool a billion years ago, and I'd never learned words like "campocorto" for shortstop, "lanzador derecho" for RHP, etc. So that was kind of neat.

The game started at 7:05pm. The 9th inning started, I kid you not, at 8:54pm. And to be fair, I could sum up the first 8 innings by saying: Franklin pitched to contact, didn't walk anyone, and Jeremy Reed and Yuniesky Betancourt stepped up to the challenge and did a SUPERB job of backing up a Franklin start. Of course, the run support was a problem as always, but it worked out okay.

Betancourt was just all over the place, starting with an awesome barehand 6-3 scoop to end the first inning, all the way to a bucket catch of a foul ball that almost landed in section 147 in the seventh. He makes the most difficult plays look so totally easy and graceful. And for once, he also hit well enough that I didn't feel I had to defend his lousy bat with his awesome defense, going 2-for-3 with a run scored.

And Jeremy Reed got himself onto a bazillion highlight reels by making this huge running diving catch of a Garrett Anderson drive into short center. It looked like there was no way he'd be able to get there and then WHOOOOOSH, he leaped and dove and slid and THUNK, there was the ball. He was also 2-for-4 on the day, screwing up one bunt early on (it popped so far up it was caught by Chone Figgins), but he got on with a bunt single in the 9th and scored the game-winning run.

So, yeah, that 9th inning. Franklin and Byrd were both still in at that point, with a 1-1 tie game, and neither of them being over 90 pitches. Franklin kind of lost it there in the 9th, but the team totally saved his butt. Orlando Cabrera led off with a single to left that literally shot into Adrian Beltre's glove and then deflected hard into the outfield. Then Garrett Anderson hit a ball that I still didn't quite follow - to me, it looked like it went up the first-base line and Richie Sexson didn't quite snag it, but I thought it was foul. Next thing I know, Anderson's on second and Cabrera's on third. I guess the ball must have bounced into the stands on the foul line for a ground rule double? Laaaaame. Anyway, Franklin intentionally walked Vlad Guerrero to load the bases, and then Hargrove pulled him for Sherrill.

I kind of expected Franklin to go ballistic at this point, since all three of those runners would count for his ERA if they scored, *and* he'd get the loss, but then most of the people in the stadium stood up and gave him a huge ovation, and he just kinda walked into the dugout and high-fived everyone.

Anyway, the coolest play of the game happened right after that. Darin Erstad hit a grounder straight to Adrian Beltre, who was about five feet from his bag, so he ran over and tagged third, getting Anderson on the force-out, and then he threw the ball to home plate, also snagging Orlando Cabrera in a rundown for a double play. It was pretty damn awesome. J.J. Putz came in to pitch to Bengie Molina and got him to ground into an inning-ending 5-3 play.

Paul Byrd also stayed in to pitch the bottom of the 9th inning, which started at 9:07pm. Jeremy Reed led off by hitting a bunt single between Byrd and Kennedy, which he easily beat out, making up for his bunt blooper in the 3rd inning. Ibanez singled to right, advancing Reed to third. At this point, Scioscia came out and did a bunch of managerial hocus-pocus. First, he pulled Byrd and put in Scot Shields. Second, he pulled Finley and put in Maicer Izturis... as an extra infielder. The weird thing is, I swear to god I didn't even notice. It looked to me like there was some weird shift going on, but I didn't really see what it was, so when Richie Sexson grounded into a double play from what looked like short to second to first, I wrote it down as 6-4-3, but later on I discovered it was actually the oh-so-common 4-8-3 double play. I looked up at the lineup on the board like "Where'd Izturis pop out of?"

With Jeremy Reed standing on third, Shields got up to a 2-0 count on Beltre and gave up and intentionally walked him... to get to Dobby the Bench Elf? Hmmm. Well, okay, whatever. Beltre "stole" second. Well, wait, is it stealing if the guy just kind of runs to second base and nobody covers or seems to actually care? I suppose not -- Gameday has the play marked as: "With Greg Dobbs batting, Adrian Beltre advances to 2nd on defensive indifference." Nice. Anyway, Dobbs hit a single into center field after that, and you know the rest. The entire team erupted in celebration, which was actually pretty damn cool. The moose ran out with the big Mariners flag, the Mariners all jumped around hugging and high-fiving and stuff, and they flashed the big "MARINERS WIN!!" all over the place.

I was wearing a Phillies shirt, a Burrell #5 one, and a Mariners hat. In the middle of the game, shortly after the Phillies winning score became final, a beer vendor in our section yelled "YEAH PHILLIES!" and came up and high-fived me and stuff. Said he was from Norristown, has also been out here for three years or so, is going back east for an Eagles game in December. That was pretty funny.

The last time I attended a Mariners game where they won was on August 15th, when Felix beat the crap out of the Royals. Heck, aside from one AAA game, I hadn't seen a team I was rooting for actually win since then, either. In the last month, I'd seen the Rainiers pound the Grizzlies, the White Sox pound the Mariners, the Yankees pound the Mariners twice, the Nationals beat the Phillies, the Astros beat the Phillies, and the Orioles beat the Mariners twice. I was beginning to feel like a bad-luck charm.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Old baseball cards are fun to find :)

I was going to finish the next chapter of the Bullpen of Secrets tonight, but I'm feeling pretty creatively shot.

Instead, I worked on verifying some other at-bat music and whatnot. The Mariners fan staff actually wrote back to me with a couple at-bat songs -- but they didn't have the lists of music for the newer players! I did update the page, though, with the new information.

If you haven't looked there lately, it's become not only the At-Bat Music but also all sorts of music you will hear at Safeco Field.

Ah... just for kicks, I was sorting through some baseball cards and thought I'd scan in a few for amusement value. I give you your 2005 Mariners coaching staff (and one bonus):

(now linked because of some problem with the images showing up)

Manager: Mike Hargrove, Indians first baseman, Fleer 1985
Bench Coach: Ron Hassey, White Sox DH / Catcher, Topps 1987
Hitting Coach: Don Baylor, Red Sox DH / 1B, Topps 1987
Bullpen Coach: Jim Slaton, Brewers RHP, Topps 1981
Third Base Coach (DL): Jeff Newman, Red Sox Catcher, Topps 1984
Ancient Mariner: Jamie Moyer, Cubs LHP, Donruss 1989

Wheeeeeeeeee. I love looking through old cards! (Maybe I'll scan in some old Borders / Edgar / Buhner / etc cards sometime when I'm bored, if people want.) And no, these aren't rookie cards, just random ones I found in my collection. It's still neat to see the old pictures.

Danny Boy

Oh Danny Boy, the fans, the fans are calling
From seat to seat, and down the first-base line
The summer's gone, and pennant hopes are dying
'Tis you, 'tis you must go and we'll be fine.
But come ye back when summer's high at Safeco
Or when the mood is hushed and scores are low
'Cause we'll be here in sunshine or in shadow
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, we'll miss you so.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Orioles - Froemming Fumes; Felix Fries

It seems that with football season started, people can't even come to Safeco to get excited about a Felix start anymore. Attendance for the Orioles games this weekend: 27,429 on Friday; 30,408 on Saturday; 30,212 on Sunday. It was a depressingly empty stadium yet again today -- I was sitting 12 rows behind home plate, in section 127, and our area was pretty full, but anywhere not behind the plate? Totally sparse.

Actually, seriously, I don't have much of a game report to write, but you should totally go look at the pictures of the game I took. This time, due to lack of attendance, I was able to take better Felix warmup shots, at least, and I got a lot of foul-screen game shots.

On the way into the park, I got a ton of comments of "I LOVE YOUR SHIRT! WHERE DID YOU GET IT?" from people. Perhaps a Cafepress version is warranted after all.

So, yeah. We got there super-early. I had actually expected to take pictures of Orioles batting practice and get a decent shot of Walter Young, and hopefully get to annoy Eric Byrnes a bit, but instead, when we arrived at 11:30 or so, the Mariners were taking batting practice instead. Huh. So I took some pictures, was walking along to the other side of the infield, when I hear someone yell "DEANNA!" Well, it was Conor Glassey, who was there with his dad. And sure enough, Conor also had a super-cool Vote For Felix t-shirt! We rule!

I really wanted to try to get the attention of someone on the team to show them the shirt -- mostly because I think a lot of the Mariners guys would get a big kick out of it after their whole Napoleon Dynamite phase, but also just because I wanted Felix to know that we went to the trouble to make the shirts. But, eh, I wandered around a bit -- the closest I probably got was to Eddie Guardado while he was signing stuff for some kids near the outfield, but he took off before I could say anything to him. Oh well.

I finally bothered talking to "Moose Man", who told us how he buys a little moose keychain before every Mariners game he attends -- and if the team wins, he adds the moose to one of the long lines of moose keychains he wears, and if the team doesn't win, he gives the moose keychain to a random little kid, in the hopes that they'll bring it back sometime and give it better karma. Neat.

We went down to the bullpen to see Felix warm up. Surprisingly (at least, compared to his first couple home starts), there was like, nobody there, even like 10-15 minutes before warmups would start. So, I got to watch warmups and take pictures. Felix was in a pretty good mood, and he was grinning at people behind the fence a lot.

There was a whole bunch of 9/11 festivities, but unfortunately we couldn't see them very well from behind the bullpen. Also unfortunately, we ended up trapped down there until 1:02pm, which freaked me out, except then the game didn't end up starting until 1:10pm anyway. I hear that Bruce Froemming, the home plate umpire, was pretty pissed off about that -- and it sure seems like he was calling a lot of questionable pitches against the Mariners for most of the day, too.

There were two innings of note, really. The first inning for the Mariners saw them scoring three runs. Ichiro led off with a bloop single, and then Jamal Strong got hit by a pitch (it was hard to tell at first whether the ball hit his hand or hit the bat). Ibanez grounded to short, moving them up, and then Richie Sexson walked, loading the bases.

Beltre came up and hit a short hit down the third-base line, and Bruce Chen fielded it somewhat poorly. He threw home, but it wasn't a very good throw and Sal Fasano couldn't hold onto the ball, so Ichiro scored.

Lopez lined out, and then Jeremy Reed walked with the bases loaded, scoring Strong. With Yuniesky Betancourt up, a wild pitch allowed Sexson to score, but then Yunie popped up to end the inning. Still, things looked hopeful -- with Felix on the mound, a 3-0 lead should have been enough, right?


The top of the second inning saw Greg Dobbs playing for us in left field as Jamal Strong left the game with a fractured hand. It also saw an INSANE strike zone, as Froemming didn't call a single borderline low ball a strike. It was ridiculous. Gibbons singled, but then Surhoff and Freire both walked on questionable walks. Newhan hit a sac fly to score Gibbons, okay. Fasano struck out. Yay. But with two outs, Brian Roberts also appeared to be struck out, but instead walked as well due to the questionable low ball calls, so it was another bases loaded situation, and Bernie Castro hit an annoying almost-foul double to left, which Greg Dobbs gathered up reasonably fast, but his arm doesn't really scare anyone, so Surhoff and Freire scored. To add insult to injury, Melvin Mora singled to right, scoring Roberts and Castro, though he then got caught in a run-down between first and second, so he was the third out, but the runs had already scored. Bleh.

By the time the bottom of the second inning started, it was past 2pm, and it was also 5-3 Orioles.

Now, here's the annoyingest thing about the rest of the game:

In the remaining 7 innings, only the 7th (where they scored another run) was not a 1-2-3 inning for the Orioles, helped by a sweet double play in the 3rd by Betancourt, who snagged a line drive from BJ Surhoff and doubled Gibbons off the bag at 2B.

In the entire game, the Mariners never had a 1-2-3 inning on their side. They always had at least 4 batters come to the plate. Unfortunately, they couldn't get the streaks of hitters on base *together* -- and as such were shut out for the rest of the game. It might have helped if they didn't keep getting called out on third strikes that shocked them. Even Ichiro argued with the ump, which says something, although nobody got thrown out of the game today.

Sal Fasano swung for one strike so hard that his bat flew out of his hands and bounced off the Orioles' dugout and onto the field. If it had been about a foot higher, it could have probably decapitated someone in the first row of seats behind the dugout.

In the 9th inning, with a vaguely hopeless situation out there, and Greg Dobbs having struck out three times already, a guy down the row from me yelled "DOBBS, YOU SCUMBAG, YOU HAVE A BAT, NOW USE IT!" Next pitch, Dobbs singled to left. Not that it mattered, but still.

Actually, it was pretty cool being so damn close to the field. I could hear the umpire yell or grunt or whatever after each strike.

Oh, another weird thing -- the scoreboard guys had "51 Suzuki" up again instead of Ichiro's name. And then later on, when Dave Hansen pinch-hit for Torrealba, they never actually changed it from Torrealba's name or stats anywhere -- the only change they did was that they showed Dave Hansen's picture on the board. It was kind of weird.

Oh well. The Mariners lost, which sucked, but the Phillies won, the Marlins lost, and the Astros lost too. Wheeeee. And the third inning looks sweet, what with most of the guys getting on base and scoring, capped by Pattycakes's home run. Even better, the Phillies used Rheal Cormier in the proper way -- pitching a useless inning in a blowout. I know it's not worth hoping, but 1.5 games out of the Wild Card...

OH! And the Rainiers beat the River Cats again, so they are going on to play Nashville in the Pacific Coast League championships! Yaaaay! The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are also in their championships! Yaaay! The Missions are not, but that's okay. This is great and hopeful for the future.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Orioles - Singles Night Means Hitting More Singles

Tonight's game was just lazy, lazy, lazy. I swear, the USSM game thread was almost as interesting as the game itself.

We got there fairly late, like at 6:00pm for the 6:05 game. Of course, it didn't matter, because nobody was there. My section was almost entirely empty. I thought there were about 20k people in the stands, although the reported attendance seems to be 30k.

Anyway, the game got off to a crappy start when Brian Roberts sliced a single through Richie Sexson and Jose Lopez, and Melvin Mora homered immediately after for a lead of 2-0 after the first two batters.

Ichiro had a pretty damn good day, going 4-for-5, all singles (for Singles Night, maybe?), three of them on infield singles, which is pretty cool. Unfortunately, in the first inning, after reaching on a pretty hard-hit ball barely stopped by Tejada, he tried to steal, and got caught. It was a really questionable call. Ichiro just stared at the umpire in disbelief for a few seconds, and then Hargrove came out to argue it, and got ejected. Whee! Then Reed grounded between the pitcher and first, and the pitcher had to come tag him. He tried to avoid the tag, eventually diving under the first baseman. It was pretty funky looking, but he was out.

I really had no idea the Orioles catcher was pronounced "Heronimo Heel", even though this must be the fourth or fifth Orioles game I've been to this year.

The third inning saw Brian Roberts get a "ground rule double" when a fan grabbed the ball down by the left field line. (I hate that. If a fan can touch the ball, it seems it should be a foul ball. I know that's not really how it works, but still.) Harris tried to pick him off second and way overthrew into center (wasn't even anywhere near the second baseman), so he got third. It was easy for Mora to single him home after that. Mora moved to second when Gibbons walked, and Javier Lopez singled him home, 4-0. With Lopez on first and Gibbons on second, Walter Young came up to bat. He hit a single out to left field, and Gibbons tried to score, but Ibanez made a pretty sweet throw home and got there in time to catch him for the out, ending the inning.

Walter Young is very large. I think he ate Bucky Jacobsen *and* a cow.

The grounds crew has a new dance routine, whee! This time they did "It's Raining Men". It was actually a pretty cool routine, involving push-up shuffles and stuff, and two of the crew cartwheeling off at the end.

I think it was something about tonight being Singles Night, but they had the music trivia be "What Is Love?" by Haddaway, and the Verizon jukebox crap was all songs like "Can't Help Falling in Love" and whatnot. Later on, during the 7th or 8th inning, they had this incredibly stupid "dating game" thing on the dugout where they had a girl and three guys, and the guys had to answer "what song describes you best?" Apparently the girl picked a guy, and they would get a paid dinner date at the Hit it Here Cafe. It was totally Seattle, when the girl picked him, she tried to shake his hand, and he made her hug him.

Also, David J. Corcoran should have come to Seattle. Or so I hear.

The only really compelling inning for the Mariners offense was the 8th. Ichiro led off with his fourth single of the day, and then Reed got the benefit of a weird error. He hit it to second base, and Brian Roberts got it off center a little, threw it to Tejada covering second. Tejada bobbled the ball but recovered it, continually having his foot on the bag. Ichiro was somehow called safe and Reed was called safe at first. Ibanez grounded out, setting the stage for Rodrigo Lopez to get pulled in favor of rookie Chris Ray. In a moment of excitement, Richie Sexson pounded Ray's first pitch 432 feet onto the canvas "Mariners" sign in right center field. Whoooosh, 4-3. Unfortunately, that led them to bring in B.J.Ryan, and the inning was over shortly after that.

I think it was kind of cool that they brought in their closer a little early, but bad because it was a pretty done deal. And it was. The Orioles won the game 5-3.

The top of the 8th also had a great play. Matos grounded to deep short, and Betancourt flawlessly recovered the ball, but he was pretty far out, so the throw didn't make it to first quite in time. Then Matos tried to steal second. It was really wacky - Ojeda got up to throw him out, had to hesitate a second because nobody was on the bag at 2B, then Betancourt ran over, Ojeda threw the ball, and whoooosh, Matos was out by a mile. It was sweet.

Was good to see Atchison and Soriano pitching. Atchison wasn't too bad, and Soriano seemed to be back to his power-pitching ways, getting two strikeouts, but unfortunately also giving up a run in the process. Still, he was throwing 94-95 and lots of strikes, which is good to see.

Want to know something else cool? No Mariner struck out in the first 8 innings. I wonder when the last time that ever happened was?

Jeremy Reed looked absolutely fabulous out there in center field. Every fly ball to center, all 8 of them, were fielded beautifully. He really got a great jump on them and did an awesome job running them down. Sadly, Matos also had two beautiful fielding plays in CF, but Reed just looked superb.

Betancourt, as usual, also was fantastic. He fielded plays anywhere from short to second to shallow left to shallow center. He only got one hit, but it was that sort of long drive into center that most people would get a double out of, and he slid into a triple that he could have easily taken standing up. It was great, except that it was with two outs, sadly.

They put Eric Byrnes in to play left field during the bottom of the 7th, and I squealed "Yay! Eric Byrnes!" My friend was like "What's the big deal about Byrnes?" and I said, "I just like him. He's cool. He's funny. He runs around a lot and is just a goofy guy. See?" As I pointed, Byrnes was literally jumping up and down, bouncing around in left field, his hair flying everywhere.

For some reason, they actually had "51 Suzuki" up on the scoreboard instead of "51 Ichiro". It was very odd. I wonder what happened.

Also, people started the wave in the 9th inning. It kept going... and going... and going... I think it went around 8 times or so. I hate the wave.

Cleveland is now 1.5 games up on the Yankees and the Pathletics for the AL Wild Card. My friends and I re-watched "Major League" last night. It seemed apt. I should go get an Indians jersey with "99 Vaughn" on the back. That'd rule. The Phillies lost to Florida, putting them 2.5 games back for the NL Wild Card. I cry.

Whoosh. Felix, tomorrow. I'll be like 12 rows back from home plate, and of course, I'll be wearing the shirt. I'm really hoping to get a good look at his pitching from really close up. Should be awesome.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Hits, Nits, Splits, and Twits

Yesterday's Mariners-A's game was just pathetic. What kind of idiot team takes a 7-3 lead into the 9th and loses 8-7? <stonecutters>We do. We do.</stonecutters> And for once Ryan Franklin would be totally justified in strangling the bullpen.

On the other hand, the awful game spurred one of the best USSM game threads ever, at least for my fragile ego.

I would be angry at Eddie, but then I read this awesome story forwarded from Athletics Nation.

The Tacoma Rainiers, aka the Seattle Rainiers of Tacoma With A Bunch of Dudes From San Antonio Not To Mention Some Mariners Throwaways lose the first PCL Division Game 7-3 to Sacramento.

Now, that said, let me go into my rage against the Phillies, who managed to get swept by the Astros while the Mariners were managing to not sweep the A's. I'm pretty sure this means they're out of the Wild Card race, though stranger things have happened.

Anyway, crazy split of the day:

Which hitter would you rather have on your team?

Hitter A: .328/.395/.629, 186 AB, 15 HR, 41 RBI (58 K, 31%)
Hitter B: .133/.170/.133, 45 AB, 0 HR, 1 RBI (22 K, 48%)

Good news: The Phillies have Hitter A on their team.
Bad news: The Phillies have Hitter B on their team.
Ugly news: Hitter A and Hitter B are the same guy.

Hitter A is Ryan Howard against righties. Hitter B is Ryan Howard against lefties.

NL pitchers are hitting .147/.163/.187 as a whole.

Ryan Howard is like Pedro Cerrano from the movie Major League. You put him in front of right-handed pitching and he absolutely mashes. You put him in front of left-handed pitching and he buckles, swings, misses, and runs back to his locker to pour more rum into a bowl in front of a Bobby "Jobu" Abreu figurine.

I have no real right to diss him, since he has without a doubt been one of the only Phillies really pounding the ball in the last week (to the tune of a 1.210 OPS with 4 HR and 6 RBI), but he has this habit of striking out at really inopportune moments, generally when facing lefties, such as Monday night with the bases loaded. If he can't work this out soon, he'll be looking at a career as a permanent bench man, a power lefty pinch hitter. Is that so bad? Not necessarily, but it means the Phillies still need a reasonable replacement for Jim Thome if he doesn't make it back next year.

Chase Utley is wonderful and I adore him, but he's hitting .069/.156/.103 in the last week. He's been more of a liability in the batting order than just about anyone else. Hopefully today's day off will be good for him.

David Bell, oddly enough, could be said to be personally responsible for the outcomes of over half of the last week's games. No, seriously:
Sep 1: He knocked in the two runs in the first inning of the eventual 2-1 win
Sep 2: He hit that whopping grand slam in the 3rd against John Halama, and the Phillies eventually won 7-1
Sep 3: He was responsible for the two unearned runs in the 8th (even though they charged the error to Howard, it was a bad throw after a superb stop by Bell which should have been a third out) which really lost the game, but he was also responsible for hitting that home run in the 9th that tied the game at 4-4, though the Phillies eventually lost 5-4.
Sep 5: He made that error on the very first play of the game which threw off Brett Myers enough to let 4 runs score in the first four batters, essentially losing the game.
Sep 7: After the Phillies recovered to lead 6-5, with Billy Wagner up, Bell made another two-out error, which eventually led to Craig Biggio's 3-run game-winning home run.

Much like it is distinctly not a good year to be a Boone, it is also not a good year to be a Bell. (I mean, take one look at Buddy Bell's Royals...)

Hey, according to baseball-reference, all of the Bells were actually named David Bell - Gus was really "David Russell Bell Jr", Buddy was really "David Gus Bell". Weeeeeeird. I never knew that.

Anyway, David Bell made Billy Wagner extremely sad, and we can't have that. In a normal universe, Billy Wagner doesn't lose games, and he just got pinned with two losses in a row. As the Bard might have said - and I don't mean Josh Bard - "Losing, most foul, as in the best it is - but this most foul, strange, and unnatural."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Links and a few book reviews

Awesome post from Beyond the Boxscore about a new Win Expectancy Finder tool. Not only is it informative, but the post itself is pretty damn funny.

It occurs to me I never linked it here, so if you haven't seen and/or filled out Tangotiger's Fan Scouting Report for whatever teams you've observed the most, you should.

The Rainiers made it to the PCL playoffs! The semi-finals are this Wednesday and Thursday at 7:05pm, and should they be in the championships, the games at Cheney will be the weekend of the 16th-18th. Awesome!

While I was travelling all over for Labor Day, I finished reading two more books, so here's a short review of each:

Now Pitching, Bob Feller by Bob Feller and Bill Gilbert

I've always thought it's not how you pitch but when -- when your team is scoring runs. Roger Clemens came up to me before an Old Timers game in Milwaukee a couple of years ago and asked what advice I'd give him. I said, "Not much, except this: Never start a game if your team is going to be shut out."

Ignore what you know about Bob Feller after his career. Ignore whether you think he's an asshat or not for his nasty comments about the current state of baseball. Ignore all that, and take yourself back to 1936 as a high-school kid with a blazing fastball, and read the story of his career, as he transformed from a teenage fireballing phenom into a pitcher with a long career split in two by WWII. Relive 1941 and the last summer of "baseball when the grass was green".

The interesting thing about this book is mainly that it's a story about 1936-1956, but was written in 1990, so there are often things where he'll compare the players of then to the players of today, which can often be jarring from the tales of the past. Another thing is that he purposefully leaves out a lot of the details of his personal life, because of the scandal with his first wife's drug addiction. I actually didn't know much about him before reading this, so I kept wondering through the book: did he just never get married? But no, it was omission on purpose. A bit odd. In retrospect I sort of wondered if it was more cleaned up than you'd expect, sort of like Ty Cobb's autobiography with Al Stump.

Oh well, it was still a fun book to read, especially with the recent hype over teenage phenom pitchers.

The Pitch That Killed, by Mike Sowell

This book is nothing short of amazing.

What do you know about Carl Mays? What do you know about Ray Chapman? Chances are, all you know about either man is the thing that links them: the fatal pitch that Carl Mays threw at Ray Chapman's head on August 16, 1920.

What do you know about Joe Sewell? About the pennant race of 1920? There's an absolutely fascinating story behind that season that goes beyond the White Sox scandal, or Babe Ruth's jump to the Yankees and hitting the unthinkable 54 home runs, or the ban on spitballs, or what have you.

This book does a great job of delving into the background of both Ray Chapman and Carl Mays and brings them both to life in a way that turns them into much more than just an answer to a trivia question. Much like Ty Cobb, Carl Mays was a very unpopular baseball player. It wasn't even just from after the beaning - he apparently had a personality that didn't really mesh well in baseball, as a reserved man with an unpredictable temper. However, he was an undeniably great pitcher, and had a long and productive career which was better than many players currently in the Hall of Fame. And another thing: he was a submariner, which is another detail that I never knew about him. When imagining the fatal pitch being thrown, I always had a normal overhand delivery in mind, but the submarine delivery makes it even odder.

Chapman, for his part, was as beloved as Mays was despised. The most tragic parts of his tale are that he had planned to retire after the 1920 season, hoping for a World Series ring. He planned to go into business with his father-in-law and start a family with his wife, who he had married less than a year before his death. His wife died a few years after he did, as did their daughter, who was born after his death. So very sad. The bright side is that Joe Sewell was called up to fill in as shortstop for the Indians that year, and it was the start of a long and impressive baseball career for him. He claimed that he played to be the reincarnation of Ray Chapman, so it seems fitting that he was able to carry on and fulfill the baseball dreams that Chapman never lived to see.

This book was just incredibly interesting to read. It's even split into short enough chapters and vignettes to make it a very good bus/plane/train book.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Game Report: Phillies vs. Astros - Four Batters, Four Runs, For Shame!

If only we could eliminate the first four batters of tonight's game. Doing so would give the Phillies a nice handy 2-0 shutout against the bane of their existence: the Houston Astros. Never mind that they haven't won a game against the Astros since sometime in 2003. Never mind that this is the team they need to beat to secure the wild card. And never mind the undeniable fact that the Phillies are OWNED by lefty pitchers such as Andy Pettitte.

This guy has too many T's on his T-shirt.

This was my second time at Citizens Bank Park, and I'm still really in love with everything about the place except the ticket prices. I miss the days of buying a general admission ticket for $3 and sitting with my friends up in the 700 level of Veterans Stadium. We'd hold up spraypainted bedsheet signs that said things like "Put Us On TV And The Phils Will Win", and of course, we never ended up on TV and the Phillies never won. But, I digress.

Tonight's ballpark giveaway was Bobby Abreu collectible figurines. I didn't realize that the gates didn't open until 5:30 before a 7:05 game, so I was at the park at 5pm or so, and ended up having to wait around outside for a while and also had to go find the friend I was meeting up with. Eventually we got inside and just walked around the park for a while, because he had never been there before, and this was only my second trip. I really wanted a non-ugly Chase Utley t-shirt, but all the ones they had were the new style ones with no number on the front and skinny ugly writing on the back, so screw that, I'll just have to wait and see what next year's styles are like. (I loved the blue number t-shirts they used to make; I wonder what happened to those?)

Because Astros batting practice was going on by the time they let people in, and Phillies batting practice was over, I decided to abandon any hope of getting a player autograph... until my friend decided to get dinner at Bull's BBQ, and then I looked over and noticed that Greg Luzinski was actually there! So, I went over and got him to sign my ticket. I thanked him, saying "My mom is going to be totally jealous when she sees this." He gave me a really weird look and didn't reply. I walked off. Hee.

After some more wandering around, admiring the kids' stuff in the outfield, seeing all the plaques in the Philly Hall of Fame (including the new one for Bobby Boone) and the history stuff, and taking a bazillion pictures, we went up to our seats in section 315 and awaited the game. A guy was sitting behind me talking about how he was at Saturday's game, so I turned around and chatted with him for a bit. That was cool.

The game started off with a total bucket of suck. Infact, I bet Brett Myers is currently wondering whether someone hypnotized him for the first ten minutes and had him throw crap, because he pitched a great 7 innings after those first four batters. Willy Taveras hit the ball to David Bell, who bobbled it. It's got to suck when the first thing that happens in the game is an error. Taveras stole second, which probably threw off Myers even more, as he walked Biggio after that. Morgan Ensberg came to the plate and singled out towards Burrellville, as Taveras scored the first run of the inning. Lance Berkman, who had homered in three of his last four games, socked the 3-1 pitch hard into the right-field seats to bring the score to 4-0 and his homer streak to four out of the last five games. Yow.

After that, Myers set down the rest of the side, and to be fair, he shut down the Astros for the next 7 innings. Without those four batters, his line for the day would read 7 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 0 BB, 6 K, but instead, it reads 7 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR. Bleh. An amusing point is that in the 3rd inning, when Berkman was up again, he grounded to Myers, who ran over to the baseline and tagged him out personally. Sort of like a "in yo' FACE, homer-boy" gesture.

Is it me, or is seeing Luke Scott and Adam Everett listed in that order sort of backwards? The baseball historian in me reads it "Everett Scott", not "Scott Everett".

I have a lot of notes scribbled down about the Phillies' at-bats, but for the first several innings, they're mostly stadium notes. For example, I saw a lady wearing a Kevin Stocker jersey! I haven't seen one of those in like ten years! And then they showed Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams up on the big board, because he was attending the game today! That was cool. I noted that Chase Utley comes up to "Kashmir" as his at-bat song, and that the whole stadium booed David Bell for his at-bats. I suppose they didn't know/care about his weekend home runs. Somehow I doubt he'll be playing in Philly much longer.

Brett Myers got a single off of Andy Pettitte's shins in the 3rd inning for the first hit for the Phillies. It wasn't as elegant as the single Pettitte got off him in the 2nd, but it was fine. Myers also hit an extremely long drive in the 6th, which would have been a home run if it wasn't straight to center. It was quite a nice at-bat for him, where he fouled off 8 or 9 pitches in a row before hitting that drive, weakening Pettitte enough to let up a bizarre double to Jason Michaels two batters later. I say bizarre because I could think of several other creative ways to score it. He hit the ball to left field, where it bounced in front of Luke Scott, who fell over trying to get it. Everett came out to get the ball, as Michaels rounded first and headed to second. The throw to second was definitely in time to get Michaels, except it came at a weird angle to Biggio, who couldn't quite hold on to the ball. I wrote down a single and an E-4 on my card, but the scoreboard flashed it as a double. I guess. They took out Pettitte at that point, and Bobby Abreu grounded out to first on Chad Qualls's first pitch.

"God Bless America" was sung by a stadium usher, Terry Pier, before the 7th inning stretch. That was sort of cool, and she wasn't half bad, either.

In the bottom of the 7th, the Phillies actually started scoring runs, since the Big Bad Lefty wasn't out there any more. Pattycakes hit a home-run-wannabe into Taveras's glove, but then Chasey-at-the-Bat hit a sweet single to right. David Bell, amidst all the boos, also hit a single to right, advancing Utley. Lieberthal singled to left, driving in the first run for the Phillies. Tomas Perez hit the fourth consecutive single for the Phillies, loading the bases, and Shane Victorino came in to pinch-run for him.

With the bases loaded and a righty pitcher on the mound, Charlie Manuel did the smartest thing a manager could ever possibly do: he put Ryan Howard in to pinch-hit for Brett Myers. The music got extremely loud and the crowd got extremely loud and then the Astros manager got extremely scared and lifted righty Qualls for lefty Gallo. Howard stayed in, and I remarked to my friend: "Oh, crap. This kid is AMAZING at mashing righty pitching, but he suuuucks against lefties."

Sure enough, he struck out.

Jimmy Rollins was up next. I watched him do something I've never seen him do so convincingly before: he stood there and WATCHED SEVERAL BAD PITCHES GO BY WITHOUT SWINGING and walked. Even better, since he walked with the bases loaded, that was another run scored. Wheeee!

They switched lefty Gallo to righty Wheeler, and since Jason Michaels has notorious platoon problems as well, Charlie pinch-hit Michael Tucker for him instead. Sadly, Tucker grounded out to second, ending the inning and the rally. But it was cool while it lasted, and it brought the score to 4-2.

The friend I saw the game with is Canadian, so he asked whether the Phillies still had "that guy from New Brunswick". I informed him that they do, but he sucks -- and that I have a brilliant master plan, see. Since Ryan Howard sucks at hitting lefties, and Rheal Cormier sucks at striking out batters, I humbly propose we have Cormier pitch to Howard until either Howard learns to hit lefties or Cormier's arm falls off, and either way, we've solved at least one problem, right?

The 8th inning was all almost-beens for the Phillies. Abreu almost hit a home run but it fell a few feet short of the center field wall. Burrell almost hit a delicious line drive to center but Biggio snagged it in a gorgeous running catch.

I was all sad that the Phillies weren't winning, so I wasn't going to get to see Billy pitch, except as the 9th inning started, I heard the strains of a familiar Metallica song, and sure enough, out came Billy! Yay! My friend couldn't understand why I was so excited about a pitcher, until I explained the whole story behind him being an unnatural lefty and how he can throw 100 mph. I bet that the crowd would boo him if he didn't throw enough heat. I was right. There was a guy three rows back or so yelling things like "Only 98 miles per hour? Billy, you SUCK! BOOOOOO!" And to think, this is what a guy gets for pitching one inning, walking one, letting up one hit, no runs, and strikes out three guys. Ah, Phillies fans. Incorrigible and incomprehensible.

They play the same Animal House speech at CBP as they do at Safeco to inspire a rally. Things didn't look so good in the bottom of the 9th with closer Brad Lidge out there and David Bell leading off with an easy fly to right field. But then Kenny Lofton came in to pinch-hit for Lieberthal. He hit what initially looked like a relatively easy grounder to shortstop, except it must not have been, because Everett bobbled the throw and pulled Berkman off the bag. As the ball flew past Berkman, Lofton pushed him away football-tackle-style and went running for second.

Shane Victorino was left in to hit for himself; I guess we were light on lefty bench and he's a switch-hitter. Someone behind me yelled, and I kid you not, this is an exact quote: "C'MON VICTORINO! GIVE US A REASON NOT TO BOO YOU!"

Victorino grounded out to first, but he moved Lofton to third, which was relatively important. Ryan Howard stayed in to bat against the righty Lidge. The second pitch to him was wild, and Kenny Lofton ran in and scored. 4-3. The count got to 3-0 on Howard, and I wondered if they were just going to intentionally walk him. I don't know, but they did walk him, so Jimmy Rollins was up next. Not being one to kill a rally, Jimmy hit a looooong fly ball into the right field corner for a double. Sadly, even for Matt Kata, who had come in to pinch run for Ryan Howard, it wasn't possible to score from first on that.

So we had guys on second and third with two outs, and it was Billy Wagner's turn to bat. They pinch-hit Endy Chavez for him.

Predictably, Chavez struck out, and that was the game. Astros player high-fives and Phillies fan boos commenced, as people filed out of their seats.

Call me weird, but I would have left Billy in to hit. I'm serious.

Perhaps that's why I'm not a major-league manager.

After taking a super-crowded subway ride back, I got home, and my dad was surprised I was there so soon after he saw the game end on TV. He said, "Did you get any cool souvenirs?" I got out my ticket to show him, and he looked at it for a minute, and as he recognized the name he lit up like "The Bull was there? No WAY!" I never knew my dad actually followed the Phillies much before he met my mom, but he dug out and showed me a program he had from 1960, autographed by Jim Coker, Bobby Del Greco, Johnny Callison, Harry Anderson, and a few other Phillies. That was *cool*.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Game Report: Nationals vs. Phillies - C'mon, can we stay one more inning? Pleeeeeease?

For Labor Day Weekend, I am doing the Marinerd tour of Phillies, Phamily, and Phriends. As such, I was in Washington DC on Saturday, spending the day touristing, and the evening at the Phillies-Nationals game with my brother and his wife. My brother and I both grew up attending Phillies games, but now that he lives in DC and they have a team, he has become a Nationals fan. Go figure: he's been to 5 Nats games this year and they've won them all, including Saturday's. However, I must admit, it's pretty funny to go to a game with my brother and be rooting for different teams.

RFK Stadium gets a lot worse rep than it deserves, I think. Yes, it's one of those old concrete cookie-cutter stadiums, but the only real downsides to it in my opinion are that the seats are pretty uncomfortable after a while, and some of them seem to be pretty far back from the action. On the other hand, we showed up day-of and got three seats together in the "400 level", which is about the same level as Terrace Club at Safeco Field. Even better, we got those seats for $20 each and had a fantastic view. The problem with RFK is more the angle of the seats, not the height. The way it is, the height makes the seats even further back, which causes weird vertigo. My sister-in-law won't sit in the 500 level if she can help it, not because the seats are bad but because she gets dizzy climbing the stairs there.

We watched batting practice for a little while; at the end of it I got Endy Chavez to sign my ticket. There were plenty of Nationals players coming out and signing things too, since the crowds weren't too huge or obnoxious. My brother, who has never shown up to a game early, was like, "You mean if you bring a baseball to the game, you could get it autographed that easily?" I was like "Yeah, if you don't really care which player signs it..."

Anyway, there was a game. It was a pretty annoying game from a Phillies fan perspective, until the 9th inning. (Why does it feel like all the extra-inning games I've been to this year have involved the Phillies?)

Keeping score when you're used to an American League game is generally pretty annoying when you go to National League games, but it's even worse when compounded by two major factors: 1) the roster expansion on September 1st 2) extra innings with lots of pitchers used. The Phillies used a total of 20 players in the game, and the Nationals used 17. I ran out of room pretty much everywhere on my scorecard, both in the individual lineup spots for players, in the pitching section, and even in the innings section. It didn't help that the Nationals only list the batting order of the team currently up to bat, so I got several of the roster changes wrong when they just switched fielders.

The game got off to a lousy start with a first inning that consisted mainly of "Why me, god, why me?" moments for David Bell and Pat Burrell. After Wilkerson grounded to first, Deivi Cruz hit one of those obnoxious foul ball doubles into left, which Pattycakes pretty much had to gather up from the stands. Nick Johnson walked, and with men on first and second, Preston Wilson hit a long drive into left field. Pat Burrell ran a long way and dived to get it, but he got it on a bounce *and* the ball fell out of his glove while he was sprawled on the ground. Cruz scored easily, but Pat recovered in time to fire the ball home and catch Nick Johnson at the plate. With one guy on second base and two outs, Vinny Castilla lined to left past a diving David Bell, but fortunately it only went for a single. Immediately afterwards, since obviously Bell hadn't eaten enough dirt yet, former Phillie Marlon Byrd hit another shooting grounder towards third. This time, David Bell was ready for the ball and dived and got it in a really nice stop. One out of three ain't bad... his throw to first wasn't fast enough and Byrd got the single and Wilson scored. Mercifully, Gary Bennett also hit to left field.. and it was a nice high pop fly that Pat Burrell could catch.

Score after the first inning: Phillies 0, Nationals 2, Dirt 4, Burrell 1, Bell 0.

Alright, I'm not even going to really talk about the Phillies offense until the 9th inning, because there was no offense to really speak of. Pat Burrell hit a home run right over the 380 marker in left field in the 2nd inning to bring the score to 2-1, which is where it remained for most of the game. John Patterson struck out 8 Phillies in 7.2 innings, which gives you a pretty good idea how a lot of the rest of it went. The only mildly interesting thing was that in the top of the 5th inning, Bell and Pratt managed to get themselves on first and second base with two outs, so Charlie Manuel decided that even though Eude Brito (pronounced "Ay-You-Day") had only pitched 4 innings, he would pinch-hit for him and hope to knock in a run. Michael Tucker walked and J-Roll flew out, so that didn't work, and Geoff Geary had to go in for long relief.

Actually, wait a minute, to be honest, I don't have that much to say about the Nationals offense until the 8th inning either. Most of the things I have noted on my scorecard are actually stadium notes. For example, Preston Wilson uses the same at-bat music that Jamal Strong used to use down in Tacoma. I noted that in the middle of the 6th inning they have a "Sweet Sixth" and they play Sweet Caroline. (What the heck is up with every single stadium playing that song now?)

The Phillies defense fell apart with Ryan Madson on the mound in the 8th. After a grounder to first and a grounder to third, both fielded just fine, Castilla smacked a ball to third. David Bell made another superb stop, but his throw to first was a tiny bit wide, and Ryan Howard had trouble fielding it, so they called it an E-3. Immediately after that, Byrd hit the ball to left, and Castilla ran around to score, but Pat Burrell's throw to the plate was wide, so Byrd got to second and Castilla scored. After that, Gary Bennett hit a single to right, and Byrd scored. The only good part was when Jamey Carroll grounded to second after that and Chase Utley just sort of looked up and tagged out Bennett, like "Dude, just end this pain already, okay?"

(I like watching Chase Utley play. I think he is getting to be a pretty good second baseman. He makes a lot of nice stops and twists.)

The ninth inning was super-exciting. Chad Cordero, the NL leader in saves, came in with the score 4-1 Nationals. With an ERA of 0.94 or so, it doesn't look particularly likely for the Phillies to come out of this with 3+ runs scored off the guy, but you never know, right?


The scoreboards flickered, "HAIL TO THE CHIEF!" My brother yelled, "Go chief!" I said, "Er, I hate to tell you this, but the Chief is Freddy Garcia."

I think I jinxed Cordero right good with that statement.

Pat Burrell led off with a single to left, and they put in Shane Victorino to run for him. Ryan Howard came up to the plate, and I was thinking about how he mashes righty pitching so well, and boy could we use a home run, and wouldn't it be nice if he hit one, and--POW! The ball went flying over the wall into the left-field bullpen, just inches to the right of a leaping Marlon Byrd's glove. With the score 4-3 Nationals, David Bell comes up to hit. You know, I don't have that much confidence in his bat, but my brother remarked, "Isn't this the guy who hit that grand slam yesterday?" And I said "Yeah, let's see if he can bang another homer, okay?"

Holy crap, he hit the next pitch so far it almost went into the suite-level seats in left field. No joke, it hit the outfield wall up high around where the numbers are painted. 4-4.

The next three batters went down in succession, and Cordero was down as well. In the bottom of the 10th, Marlon Byrd almost hit a home run to make up for the catch, but it was about 5 feet to the right of the foul pole. The Phillies threatened in the top of the 11th, even loading the bases, but then they hit into two consecutive fielder's choices to end the inning. The super-frustrating thing is that the inning-ending FC Lofton hit into was totally bogus, because Jimmy Rollins was actually safe at second. It was obvious on the replay, and even my brother the Nationals fan actually agreed with me, that the umpire totally blew the call. I'm pretty sure Jimmy also thought the umpire blew the call, because I saw him say something about it, but he didn't argue enough to get thrown out of the game or anything.

In the top of the 12th, Abreu threatened by hitting a 408-feet-or-so ball to center field, which would have been a home run in just about any other stadium that didn't have the dead center wall at 410 feet. So that was pretty much it. Aquilino Lopez came in to pitch the bottom of the 12th, and he screwed up doubly -- first he walked Jose Guillen and then he threw a bad ball to Preston Wilson, which bounded off Todd Pratt's glove. (I wrote a wild pitch, but they called it a passed ball.) Guillen got to second, and Wilson hit the ball into an annoyingly not-foul but not-fieldable spot along the right field line. It wasn't fielded in time, and that was it for the game, 5-4 Nats.

There was a kid sitting a few rows behind us who kept saying to his mother, "C'mon, Mom, just one more inning? Pleeeeeease?"

It was around 11pm by the time the game ended. I wanted to look around in the team store for a little while. (I ended up buying a Livan Hernandez number shirt as my souvenir, which I think will be sort of amusing to wear for Felix Hernandez starts in Seattle, perhaps.) Then we caught the Metro back home. Really, it's very convenient. I'm rather impressed with RFK stadium, overall. The location is convenient, the ticket prices aren't ridiculous (and there are a plethora of decent cheap seats), the food isn't bad. It was sort of tacky how the ticket booths are basically a trailer parked next to the stadium, but eh. I thought it was all okay.

Today we drove up to Philadelphia, which is where I am now. I'll be at the Phillies-Astros game on Monday night. I cannot wait. Andy Pettitte vs. Brett Myers. Aaaaaawesome. And I hung out with my family this afternoon for our big Labor Day BBQ, and I went to Jim's Steaks with my best friend from highschool this evening for a cheesesteak. So like I said. It's the tour of Phillies, Phamily, and Phriends. It's been a lot of Phun. For now, I need to go to Phleep.