Monday, July 31, 2006

The Curse of the Bobbino

Today was the last softball game of the inaugural season for the House of Slack softball team. In proper style, we managed to lose this one spectacularly as well, though at least we showed some flashes of brilliance, and even had one or two 1-2-3 innings (on defense, not on offense). Because our stellar record was a hefty zero wins against a mere six losses, we did not progress to the playoffs. My goal in the offseason is to strengthen up my arm so I can throw harder than Johnny Damon.

I wore a Phillies cap to softball today. Hilarity ensued... kind of.

The Curse of The Bobbino
A short play in two acts

Act One, Scene One

Deanna approaches the plate for her first at-bat of the day.

Catcher: Oh, are you from Philly?
Deanna: Yeah. Are you?
Catcher: Yeah... I'm from Chester.
Deanna: Oh cool! I grew up in Northeast Philly.
Catcher: Ha, we're about the same then, huh?

Deanna hits the ball, but pops out to short.

Act One, Scene Two

Deanna approaches the plate for her second at-bat.

Deanna: So, are you a Phillies fan too?
Catcher: Yeah. Except that they always suck and always get rid of anyone who's good.
Deanna: Today is NOT the day to get me started on that.

Deanna watches four balls go by, and walks.

Act One, Scene Three

Deanna gets to second on the next play. The opposing shortstop is wearing a Mets hat.

Shortstop: Hahahaha, Phillies fan?
Deanna: Yeah, yeah.
Shortstop: I can't believe that Abreu trade. What a bunch of schmucks.
Deanna: And to the Yankees no less.
Shortstop: Uggggghhh.

Act One, Scene Four

Opposing shortstop is on second base, and Deanna's playing second, as there's a brief time-out.

Deanna: So, the Mets, eh? Do you think they'll really trade Milledge for Zito or whatever?
Shortstop: God, that'd be awesome, wouldn't it? I mean, they really just need another great starter to push them to the pennant...
Deanna: Yeah, it's not like they don't already have Pedro and Glavine and...
Shortstop: ...or like they didn't just lose a tough lefty opponent in their division...
Deanna: Ha ha. You're very funny.

Ball is hit, shortstop runs off.

Act Two, Scene One

Deanna is now playing in her second game of the day, subbing in on the Grand Salami team.

Jon Wells: You're up to bat next, Deanna.
Deanna: Okay... [gets bat, starts walking off]
Jon: Go up there and do a Bobby Abreu impression!
Deanna: I guess, I'm a lefty...
Jon: Be like Tomas Perez!
Deanna: WHAT?
Jon: He's with Tampa Bay now and just hit four doubles in a game against the Yankees!
Deanna: Uhh, okay...
Jon: Be like Kevin Stocker!
Deanna: He's not even left-handed!

Deanna hits a hard grounder towards third, hustles it out, but is thrown out at first.

Deanna: Well, that WAS a pretty good Kevin Stocker imitation, you have to admit.

Act Two, Scene Two

Jon Wells has just gotten himself ejected from the game for arguing a call, and the Grand Salami team has to forfeit the game.

GS Teammate: Uhhh, I didn't even know you could GET ejected from a softball game.
Deanna: This is all my fault. This hat is cursed. Goddamn Pat Gillick.

Deanna takes off the Phillies hat. It immediately starts raining.


The sad part is, that's pretty much exactly how things went today. I did get about ninety comments of "Phillies, huh? How about that Abreu trade?" from various people. I saw Jon Wells (the editor of the Grand Salami Mariners magazine, who had a team in the same softball league) and complimented him on his stirrups, and he asked if I could sub in for them for their game since one of their female players wasn't able to make it. So after my team's game was done, I ended up subbing in for a second game. I did enjoy playing with the Grand Salami team; they were definitely the nicest people of any of the teams I've subbed with, and very good players in general. Also, I got to try being catcher, which was fun after playing second base for the rest of the season.

I'm really not making up that part about Jon getting ejected from the game, either. It was a weird play, where he was running to home plate, and their catcher was blocking the plate, but the throw home was pretty much right there, and Jon went barrelling into the catcher, knocking her over and knocking the ball away. He was called out; a big argument ensued, and BOOM, the umpire ejected him and called the game a forfeit. Craziness.

Anyway, in the evening, I got to see Derek, Jason, and Jeff from USSM on the "Q It Up Sports" show on Q13, which was a real treat. PositivePaul posted videos of it in the comments on the show-watching thread, if you didn't catch it. Derek and Jeff even wore ties, and looked very spiffy. No, Derek wore a suit, he didn't wear a Doyle jersey with a tie. Jeff stole the show as usual, and Jason had to be prodded to talk. It was just like a pizza feed!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

I think Pat Gillick still hates me

Abreu and Lidle Traded to Yankees

Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle go to the Yankees; the Phillies get a former first-round shortstop C.J. Henry, LHP Matt Smith, rookie league catcher Jesus Sanchez and RHP prospect Carlos Monasterios.

Also, they DFA'ed Ryan Franklin to make room for Randy Wolf, which honestly doesn't soften it any for me. Wolf started today and the Phillies won, but he only went a little over four innings and threw about ninety-seven thousand pitches.

I can't imagine Abreu in a Yankees uniform. I was positive they weren't going to come up with enough stuff to make it worth trading him.

I'm going to cry.

Well, not literally. I'll probably be over it in a few days (though it'll be tough when the Yankees come here in two weeks). It's still just shocking. For years, "Abreu trade rumors" have been exactly that, and every little kid in Philadelphia knows that Bobby's still gonna be there the next day smiling and signing autographs and kicking ass. Until now, of course.

As usual, there's discussion on the roster moves (including yesterday's Bell trade) in various threads on Beerleaguer, Phillies Nation, and The Good Phight, and I'm sure there will be more tomorrow in the Phlogs that don't update much over the weekends. Consensus seems to be, generally, that "this was a really bad deal and an unnecessary salary unload to restock some prospects in a stupidly-depleted farm system".

Even my MOTHER sent me email like "Please explain to me why the stupid Phillies traded a great hitter like Bobby Abreu to the NY Yankees for 4 draft picks?"

I had such high hopes for this year's Phillies team, I really did. The idea that the Mariners have more of a shot at the postseason than they do is just astounding to me.

Traded Traitors!

Friday: Shin-soo Choo. Homers off Felix in the 6th, Mariners lose the game 1-0 on that homer.

Saturday: Ben Broussard. Homers off Brian Sikorski in the 9th, Mariners win 3-1 on the insurance run.

Brian Sikorski? Wow. Last time I saw him pitch, he was in Japan.

In theory, for this trend of "traded guys homering against their former teams" to continue for the weekend, Eduardo Perez has to hit one tomorrow off of Cliff Lee.

In more fun trades, David Bell was just traded to the Brewers, and he hit a double and scored two runs in today's game. It feels like half of those Brewers weren't on the team two weeks ago. Graffanino? Mench? Bell? Cordero? Yeah. Being as I'm the only person I ever actually heard cheering for David Bell when I went to Phillies games, I'm sure there's not too much of an outcry in the Phlogosphere, though Tom Goyne made a David Bell Tribute Page which is kind of funny.

Anyway, today is July 30, 2006. On July 30, 1996, exactly ten years ago, the Mariners made one of their best trades in club history when they traded Darren Bragg to the Red Sox for Jamie Moyer. Paul at NGFT linked a pretty good "Still the Same Jamie" article which is a good read. For a good laugh, check out the ten years of Mariners commercials up on their site and see how much or little Jamie's changed over the years -- starting with, of course, 1998's "Killer Changeup". Happy ten years of Mariners baseball, Jamie!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A.J. Burninated

I ended up not going to Safeco tonight, and between doing random stuff, didn't get to see much of tonight's game. I did hear Snelling on the pre-game show on the radio. He had a stronger accent than I remember him having in the past, but it was lovely nonetheless. He talked about his dogs, among other things.

The Mariners won the game 7-4. Moyer and Burnett both seemed to be having a "Who can throw more pitches?" contest, while I was watching. It says Moyer threw 103 pitches, and I think at least 80 of those pitches were just the ones thrown to Reed Johnson and Troy Glaus.

This win also meant a second consecutive series win, and puts us at 6-6 since the break. Oakland and Anaheim won today, but Texas lost to the Yankees to continue their slide -- during a commercial break, I managed to flip to ESPN at just the right moment to see Jason Giambi launch a home run off Akinori Otsuka. Also, Sal Fasano was apparently the starting catcher for the Yankees. Wacky.

The P-I reports that Snelling is supposedly going back to Tacoma after tonight's game, which sucks. I swear, there've been about ninety times in the last year or two where I've wished it was possible to somehow stuff a hug in an envelope and send it to him.

Anyway, on a completely unrelated but neat note, one of my friends from college who's still living in Pittsburgh went to the All-Star game and did an interesting street portraiture sort of photography project -- rather than taking pictures of players at batting practice, he went around the stands before the game and took photos of fans wearing caps of all 30 major league teams, which turned out to be a more difficult endeavor than you'd expect. In his words: "I spent the last 45 minutes frantically tracking down a Colorado Rockies fan. I was about ready to hug him."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

With Or Without Choo

Shin-soo Choo and a PTBNL traded to Cleveland for Ben Broussard


I'm going to miss seeing Choo's son running around the stands in Tacoma -- he really is one of the cutest little kids in existence -- but damn, Ben Broussard! Now there's some lefty sock! I think it's really ironic that the Mariners ended up acquiring both sides of the amazing Cleveland first-base two-headed monster platoon. Now the question is, does this mean Big Richie's also in for a Big Switchie?

I keep meaning to get Broussard's CD (in case you don't already know, he considers himself a musician as well), since hearing him perform "With Or Without You" on the Oh Say Can You Sing CD last year. He has a really nice voice, even counting the part where he does some beatboxing on Coco Crisp's rap song on that same album.

And for the obligatory female comment, adding Snelling and Broussard to the team and subtracting Everett raises the team cute factor by quite a bit!

One thing about this trade, though -- the Mariners are heading to Cleveland to play a series this weekend. So Broussard will effectively end up reporting to work the same as always on Friday... just he'll be in the visitor's clubhouse instead. That's got to be sort of harsh, playing in your former home stadium right after being traded. And Choo's gonna be the Big League Choo soon enough playing against the Mariners, as well.

Still, sweet. My desire to head to Safeco tonight is rising, even though I know it's a really bad idea.


From the Department of Redundant Headlines Department, Carl Everett has been DFA'ed, and Chris Snelling is being called up.

I'm glad about the move, but I wish it could have happened TWO DAYS SOONER GODDAMNIT because I've already gone to two Mariners games this series, three in the 6-game homestand, and I really can't justify the time or money to go back down tonight just to cheer for Doyle.

Jubilant praise for Doyle completely crashed USS Mariner. Whee.

Game Report: Mariners vs. Blue Jays - Stitch'n'Pitch Night

Tonight was the second annual "Stitch'n'Pitch" night at Safeco Field. I attended it yet again as the Mariners blogosphere's Designated Knitter, or something.

Section 339
Ladies trying to knit one out of the park.

For those not in the know, "Stitch'n'Bitch" is a crafts movement or series of books, depending on how you look at it. People (mostly women) also have SNB groups where they get together and knit and whine about their spouses and kids and crap. Personally, being somewhat devoid of spouses and kids and crap, I don't tend to get invited to that sort of thing. "Stitch'n'Pitch" is a clever play on that, and a gimmick to get said women to come to Safeco Field to watch a game, spend money on stuff at the stadium, and knit and whine about how much the Mariners suck.

Actually, all in all, it was a pretty good deal as far as events go -- tickets were $12 each for View Reserved, which are usually $18 -- and we got these free Stitch'n'Pitch tote bags which were filled with a whole bunch of knitting supplies. There was also a "Tote Bag Challenge" where, if you got your tote bag in advance and actually managed to make something using everything in the bag, you could bring it to the Pacific Fabrics booth at the game to show them, and get another surprise gift. (I do have a friend who managed to do that, but I haven't caught up with her yet to find out what it was, so I'll edit this in when I do.)

The bag contained the following goodies, which I'm pretty sure are worth more than $12, actually:

- 6 oz skein of steel blue yarn
- Small skein of turquoise "Fun Fur"
- Two skeins of "Boa" fuzzy yarn, in white and in various blues
- Small ball of thin split yarn, brown & white
- Set of plastic knitting needles, 10", size 13
- Set of wooden knitting needles, 16", size 17
- Circular knitting needle, 16", size 5
- About 5 pattern books for making various vests/sweaters/scarves/etc
- Coupons to a few yarn stores

Unfortunately, I didn't get my tote bag until about 5 minutes before the game started, because my friends who had my ticket and tote bag were late. I also missed Roy Halladay warming up, and I almost missed Kazuhiro Sasaki throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. For the most part, I actually missed the SNP festivities, too -- I ran around looking at the various booths and taking a few pictures of everything, but then I ran up to our seats, getting there in the middle of Reed Johnson's first at-bat.

I don't have that much to say about the game, except that it almost sucked enough to make me want to abandon ship and check out the stitchy-pitchy booths. Almost.

"Short" version: Roy Halladay is a very, very good pitcher. For the first four innings, the only Mariner who got a hit off him was Johjima. By the time the Mariners hit a little bit of a stride in the bottom of the 5th, the score was already 7-0, including a 10-batter rally in the top of the 5th. Reed Johnson and Frank Catalanotto hit back-to-back doubles for one run in the 3rd, and Aaron Hill hit a double in the 4th which scored Troy Glaus and Eric Hinske, who had previously walked and hit a single, respectively. The top of the 5th started with Reed Johnson running out a bunt for a single, Ichiro-style, and it all went downhill from there. Catalanotto sac bunted Johnson to second, Overbay walked, Glaus hit the ball just over Jose Lopez to single home Johnson, Zaun walked, Hinske hit an obnoxious double to right which scored Overbay and Glaus, and that was curtains for Meche.

Jake Woods came in to stem the bleeding, and while Bengie Molina tried a sac fly to right, Ichiro caught it and fired the ball in so Zaun couldn't score from third. However, they intentionally walked Aaron Hill to get to John "Toront0wn3d" McDonald... who walked, scoring Zaun. Fortunately, Reed Johnson grounded out after that to put an end to the embarrassment.

John McDonald was so astounded at being productive at the plate yet again that the first thing he did the next inning was pick up a Carl Everett grounder and throw it into the wall separating the first-base stands from the field. The ball bounced back so hard that it kept Everett to one base, much to Lyle Overbay's surprise. Johjima, the Halladay-killer, singled, and then Yuniesky Betancourt hit a ball deep into the left field corner, which scored Johjima and Everett, and since he wanted to get a triple for the second Stitch'n'Pitch in a row, he ran and ran and ran and got himself tagged out at third after Catalanotto recovered the ball and threw to Troy Glaus. A shame, because despite Adam Jones striking out -- and he would, infact, strike out in all four plate appearances -- Ichiro hit a single and stole a base after that, which would have scored Betancourt as well.

Frank Catalanotto led off the 6th inning with a solo home run, and the Mariners strung together a few singles into a home run in the 7th, and Jake Woods pitched fairly solidly otherwise for a while, so it was 8-3 coming into the ninth inning. Glaus walked, Zaun and Hinske popped out, and then the slaughter started. Molina singled. Woods came out of the game and Emiliano Fruto came in. Aaron Hill walked again -- this time, unintentionally -- and of course, John McDonald, who had hit five home runs in his entire career, and only one other this season, hit the ball out towards the left field bullpens. Ibanez went back, and back, and back, and jumped up to the wall, and at first we thought he might have actually come up with the catch, but no. Instead, we got to see John McDonald's sixth career home run, first career grand slam, and second home run this season. Of course, the only other home run he hit this season was also against the Mariners. Go figure.

After that sort of crap, does it even matter that B.J. Ryan came out and pitched the bottom of the 9th out of boredom? I didn't think so. Jays win it, 12-3.

Honestly, what else can I say about the game?

Adam Jones turns 21 next week, and while he may have been rushed to the majors, I've been reasonably impressed with the way he's been stepping up so far. He's been decent hitting against run-of-the-mill pitchers, though, and in all honesty, him getting killed by superb hurlers like Halladay and Ryan just simply doesn't worry me. Plus, he made an awesome play in the second inning. Troy Glaus had doubled to left, and then Gregg Zaun hit a loopy single out to center. Adam Jones got the ball, and I said, "Watch this," and he FIRED it 370-odd feet to home plate, the ball reaching Johjima without even bouncing first. Glaus stopped dead in his tracks at third base, but Zaun had no such luck, and Johjima threw the ball to Betancourt, and a rundown ensued, Lopez eventually making the tag on Zaun.

Troy Glaus, by the way, has a lifetime OPS of .570 in 41 games in Safeco Field before this week, but yesterday he was 2-for-4 with an RBI, and today he was an amazing 3-for-3 with two walks, a double, an RBI, and three runs scored. With Moyer pitching tomorrow, something tells me he's going to have another good day.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Game Report: Mariners vs. Blue Jays - Oh Canada, We Can Go Yard For Thee

Tonight's game was really sort of weird for me. I kept spacing out and forgetting who was actually winning, for some reason. Lots of runs were being scored, and lots of really nice plays were made, and as the sun went down and the temperature started to drop in Seattle, it was even pretty pleasant to be sitting in the upper decks at Safeco with the winds blowing around.

"Short" version: If Reed Johnson hadn't gotten himself thrown out on the first play of the day stretching a single into a double, it might not have been scoreless when the Mariners started a rally of sorts in the second inning. Casey Janssen threw a ton of pitches and ended up walking Ibanez and Sexson; Carl Everett hit a single to right and the bases were loaded. Johjima hit a liner to right, and Ibanez almost hesitated long enough for Sexson to pass him on the base path near third, but they both scored, Everett making it to third from first as well. A wild pitch scored Everett and Johjima, and then Adam Jones (!) singled to left, scoring Johjima. With the score at 4-0, one out, and a runner on first, Ichiro hit a fly ball to the gap in right center, and Reed Johnson managed to snag it on an awesome diving catch, and get up and throw to first in time to double up Adam Jones.

The Jays strung together a few singles to put a run on the board in the 3rd, and then Eric Hinske hit a huuuuuge solo home run in the 4th -- I mean, the kind of home run where Ichiro takes about three steps and says, "Oh geez, screw THAT." and stops. Johjima answered it with a home run of his own in the bottom of the 4th, following a Richie Sexson ground rule double over the CF wall. 6-2, and that was it for Janssen, and indeed, that was just about it for the scoring for the game, as well. Eric Hinske hit a second home run in the 6th inning -- a lovely shot right over the wall in straight center field -- and the Mariners tacked on a run in their half of the 6th as well, when Carl Everett was both responsible for batting in Ibanez and for ending the inning practically all on his own. More on that in a second.

Sherrill and Fruto pitched three scoreless innings and the Mariners won the game 7-3.

Casey Janssen
Casey Janssen rocks the high socks.

Vernon Wells was in the lineup originally but was scratched at the last minute for Eric Hinske, which seems to have worked out well for the Jays.

Carl Everett was featured in one of those "Beyond the Baselines with Shannon Drayer" movies, twirling a baseball bat sort of like a baton, drum major style. Now we understand where he learned the fine art of tossing bats.

But beyond that, the 6th inning was really stupid on the Mariners' side of things. Ibanez led off with a single, and Sexson walked. Then Carl Everett singled to left, and Frank Catalanotto fielded it cleanly and fired it back to the infield. Ibanez scored easily, and Richie Sexson was trying to get to third from first on the play. Troy Glaus, the cutoff man, got the ball, and rather than throwing it anywhere, saw Richie Sexson running to third, so he just ran into the baseline himself and tagged out Sexson, who couldn't really stop himself anyway. It was funny, though, because Glaus practically ended up hugging Sexson, and it almost seemed like Sexson's reaction was "Who is this guy, and why is he standing in my path with a baseball?" They changed pitchers to Jeremy "Oh crap, I'm in the American League now" Accardo, and after a few pitches, Carl Everett tried to steal second base and failed miserably. Worse, he failed miserably as Kenji Johjima struck out, effectively getting Accardo two outs for the price of one. Oddly, we didn't actually see Johjima strike out, so we couldn't figure out why Everett's CS ended the inning, at first. "Aren't there only two outs? Why is everyone leaving the field?" "The Japanese dude struck out while you were watching Everett pretend to be fast." "Oh."

Reed Johnson rocks the high socks, and he also just plain rocks. Not only was he 3-for-5 at the plate with a run scored, but he really did make an amazing diving catch on that hit in the 2nd inning, and the fact that he doubled off Jones is even cooler. It was just a nice play.

And Eric Hinske, man. I mean, both of his home runs were CRUSHED. That first one -- I could tell the minute it came off the bat that it was heading for the back rows of section 107. Johjima's home run was not so sure -- he apparently was really just trying for a sac fly anyway because Sexson was on third with one out -- so we were like "Is it foul? Is it foul? I don't think it's foul, do you? Hey, look at that. Cool."

Is it bad that I'm so used to excellence from Ichiro that I just take it for granted at this point?

You know, it feels like I haven't actually seen George Sherrill pitch in person in a really long time. He was tossing slow crap for his first few pitches, too, and they were swinging at it. I was thinking that he was doing a pretty good Jamie Moyer imitation for a bit there, and then he started actually having to attack the righties. Either way, good on Hargrove for leaving him in there for several batters, and good on him for getting them out.

Ibanez honored the Canadian team by switching back to Rush's "Tom Sawyer" as his at-bat music today. Adam Jones seemed to actually have a song CALLED "Adam Jones" as his at-bat music, but I can't seem to figure out what song it actually was.

The Star 101.5 music trivia song was "Hey Jealousy", by the Gin Blossoms, and I was pretty sure it was from 1993, which it was. But, I expected the baseball trivia question to actually deal with the fact that the Blue Jays won the World Series in 1993 (grrr Joe Carter grrr), and it didn't (it was "who was the AL ROY in 1993?"). Sheesh. However, I did see a woman wearing an oldschool Pat Borders #10 Blue Jays jersey. THAT was cool.

You know, I don't ever remember Troy Glaus being the best-fielding third baseman or anything, but he was impeccable tonight, snagging liners, stopping the ball in the dirt, with his quick thinking as cutoff man, and everything else.

The "Ask the Mariners" question of the day was "What is your soap opera name?" being one of those things where you take your first pet's name and the street you grew up on. Some of the answers were pretty funny -- Raul, for example, was "Skipper Forty-Nine", and George Sherrill was like "Goldie Lee. [pause] Hey... that's not bad...", and Joel was like "Sparky Arpegio!" It seemed like an inordinate number of guys had first pets named Max, too.

I think I'd feel great about Pineiro's outing -- the 6 IP with the 0 BB and 5 K -- if not for the 10 hits and the two HUGE home runs. After Hinske's second home run, the one that went over the wall in straight center, the next two batters -- Aaron Hill and John McDonald -- pretty much hit long fly balls to the exact same spot, only theirs fell a few feet short of the wall. I almost wondered if it was going to hurt Hargrove to leave Pineiro in for that whole inning, but I guess they lucked out.

Anyway, tomorrow is Stitch'n'Pitch night, and it's also Roy Halladay vs. Gil Meche. I'm quietly one of Gil's biggest supporters in the blogosphere, I think (heck, I sponsor his baseball-reference page), and I'll be stitching and hopefully not bitching about Meche's pitching. Ironically, Meche also got the start at last year's Stitch'n'Pitch, against Cliff Lee, who was having a stellar season. It was also Yuniesky Betancourt's major league debut, and in his first at-bat, he tripled. He also introduced us to the "Yu District" concept of fielding everything within a hundred feet of shortstop. So tune back in tomorrow, and serving as the blogosphere's Designated Knitter, I'll be sure to spin some yarns about the game.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Roundup: Weirder than Shinjo, and Fasa-NOOOOOOO

Sal Fasano Designated For Assignment. I feel sort of bad for the guy, especially after he started off the season so well and ended up with a fan club and everything. Honestly, the part I don't get is why he won't accept an assignment to AAA - September roster expansions are a month away, and all things considered, Mike Lieberthal is a perennial DL-spot waiting to happen, and who knows if Coste can maintain his current pace in the bigs? (Though I hope he can. I like Chris Coste.)

Today is Barry Bonds's birthday, and he's the birthday listed on my ballparks calendar, but if you look at the list of other people born on July 24, would you be able to guess offhand who I think is the most interesting person?

Well, the Fasano reference should serve as a hint -- it's Jack Clements, who became a Phillies catcher in 1884, their second year of existence, and hung around there until 1897. He was part of the group of great hitters of the 1890's Phillies that included HOFers Billy Hamilton, Sam Thompson, and Ed Delahanty. But even more unique about Jack Clements is that he was major league baseball's only true left-handed catcher.

"Weirder than Shinjo?", you ask.

Well, last weekend was Japan's All-Star Break, and the Central League beat the Pacific League in both games, 3-1 and 7-4. I could write up more myself, but Gary Garland has, as usual, done a great job summing up both games in English at japanbaseballdaily: Game One / Game Two.

Only thing he didn't mention is the out-weirdoness of the two outfielders from the Nippon Ham Fighters with their antics in the first game.

I mean, everyone EXPECTS Shinjo to do crazy stuff. Apparently he wanted to land a helicopter on the field to make his entrance, which was not allowed... so instead, he wielded a rainbow-colored bat and wore an LED display on his belt that supposedly said, in English, "Never mind whatever I do!!! Fan is my treasure!!!" They also apparently decided Shinjo was the game's "MBP" - "Most Bakushou Player", which means amusing.

Here's a picture of Shinjo with the crazy belt and the rest of the colorful crap he was wearing.

But, that's not all.

Another Fighters outfielder, Hichori Morimoto, who was also on the All-Star roster, decided to dress up as an alien during the first game, and in effect, out-weirded Shinjo. Morimoto painted his entire head bright green and put on alien ears and antennae, and sat around in the dugout and the pre-game festivities dressed as such. Here he is on the bench between Kazuhiro Kiyohara and Daisuke Matsuzaka (who looks like he can't decide whether to be scared or amused), and later on they had him coaching third base (pictured here as Tomoya Satozaki ran by after hitting a solo home run).

Funny freaky Fighters.

Anyway, as for the rest of the weekend, after Friday's game, I ignored the Mariners on Saturday and Sunday, and as a result they won both games. My softball team lost again on Sunday, but I personally wore baseball pants and high socks and ended up being 3-for-3 at the plate and scored a run, so I can't be too unhappy about it.

Batgirl has a Lego version of Pat Neshek's delivery, and even Neshek himself thought it was funny. Speaking of which, reading his blog is really pretty cool -- the way he talks about baseball and about baseball cards almost just sounds like another random fan, except then you think, whoa, he's a major league pitcher! Fun stuff.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Game Report: Mariners vs. Red Sox - Long Ball, the Musical

Red Sox 9, Mariners 4.

Jamie Moyer:
It's hot out at Safeco
Who knows where the plays go
I'd like to see some zeroes in their box.
I know I'm feeling rotten
My arm is made of cotton
I'm sweaty, I'm ready, so bring on the Sox.

Kyle Snyder:
How did I get here? It feels like a dream
From lousy Kansas City to this super-awesome team
I won't let them know
That I can't really throw.
It seems that I've got
to give it my best shot.

David Ortiz: Hey mon, I'm playing first!
Manny Ramirez: Ain't that where you the worst?
Gabe Kapler: I'm out in left field being Manny's feet...
Trot Nixon: At least I get to play.
Coco Crisp: You say that EVERY day.
Mark Loretta: Calm down, you guys, and revel in this heat--

Youkilis, Ortiz, Manny, Varitek: We'd like to hit the long ball!

Alex Gonzalez: That'd be sweet!

Red Sox (Chorus):
The long ball,
We hit 'em for Francona!
The long ball,
From here to Barcelona.
There's no corner of the outfield stands,
No spot in either 'pen
We'll hit the ball way out there
And we'll hit it out again!
Some people criticize us
And they say that we depend
On the glory of the home run
As our one offensive friend.
It's not that we're all slugging,
It's just that when it's hot
We'd rather circle bases on a trot.

Nixon: What?

Red Sox (Chorus):
The long ball!
The far wall--

Francona: Youkilis. You're up.

Whoa, mon.
Watch that ball go, mon.
Youkie flies ta center and Markie goes ta right.
I'm gonna aim, mon.
This swing's my game, mon.
Slow-pitching Jame, mon...


Adam Jones: Oh shit, it's gonna be a long night.

I loving this first base!
I never lose my place.

Raul Ibanez:
Maybe if I hit a grounder
It'll smash your face.

Yippee! They made an error!
I thought that I'd be out.
But now I do the dance of joy and shout!

I love facing Jamie Moyer,
Truth be told.
It's not just pitching slowly
'Cause he's old;
It's that he's throwing cookies
And hitting them's so fun--
My average against him
Is a perfect number one!

Moyer: WHAT?


Ibanez: Hey, that was a nice shot. He hit the Emerald Queen sign.

You say Manny being Manny
I say Yuni being Yuni
Who say Richie being Richie?
You see Jamie being Jamie--

I'm Willie being Willie!

Betancourt: [rolls eyes] Really really?

Sexson: This is silly.

Why can't my team score some runs?
I'd like to have a longer rest just once.

Varitek: Trust me, Moyer, you will always remember this as the day you almost struck out...


...Captain Jason Varitek.

George Sherrill: Jesus CHRIST will someone warn me when Moyer's gonna serve up another one so I don't get hit in the head on the way to the can.

Red Sox (Chorus):
The long ball,
The far wall,
We're gonna hit them out there
If we're hitting them at all!

My perfect average is intact,
I'm going to walk to first, infact.

Kevin Youkilis:
They call me the "Greek God Euclis",
They say I'm down with OBP.
Rather than being rebukeless,
I'd rather them think, "You KILL this"...


Sox Fan in Section 152: Use the force, Youk. Use the force.

Mike Morse: What?

Greg Dobbs: Dude, you're not even here. Lay off my roster spot.

It's still so freaking hot out,
And I just can't get a break
How much freaking longer
Is this inning going to take?

I loving this first base!
I can walk there at my pace!

Manny: [rapping]
Hey yo wussup hey
I'm Manny ya say
I'm the dude puttin' spikes in your E.R.A.
I'm the Moyer Destroyer,
I got a good sense
I'm puttin' the ball right over da fence
I'm the spark in the dark
Ain't no question no mark
That I'm gonna hit it straight outta da park


Ichiro: The long ball...

Adam Jones: It has a sort of catchy tune, doesn't it?

Ibanez: The far wall...

Adam Jones: So this is what real major leaguers hit like, huh?

Moyer: I wondered when he'd finally go and make the bullpen call...

Johjima: You do okay, Moyer-san. Only give up six hits.

Sexson: Yeah, and five of them were jacks!

Johjima: Sounds like good poker hand!

Red Sox (Chorus):
The long ball,
The far wall,
Just give us a few hours, we'll hit homers to McCall.
We launch them to the outfield,
We don't know where they'll fall.
They could land in the bullpen
Or in the entry hall.
It's typical with Boston
To see the game be tossed in.
No matter the location
You'll see our dedication
To conquer every team for Red Sox Nation!

Mike Hargrove: Okay, guys, we're changing this musical to "Into the Woods."

Jake Woods: What?

Mike Hargrove: Just throw strikes, son.

Friday, July 21, 2006


I just spent the last four hours of my life reading WordUpThome. Like, all of it. In one go. I'm surprised I didn't wake up my housemates with all the time I was laughing aloud. It's funny, I'd heard of the site before, but never really read it because I don't really think it's cool to make fun of Jim Thome. Fact is, I still don't think it's cool to make fun of Jim Thome, but this stuff is hilarious. It's like South Park or American Pie or something, where you're laughing your ass off but feeling guilty about it.

So because I was basically doing that instead of writing the song about Mark Lowe's slider that I promised David, I might as well try to pick out a "top ten" of pages from there, but honestly, if you've got 3-4 hours to spare, and you've been on Planet Baseball for the last few years, you'll probably get a kick out of all of them.

- Why is it always so hot in Citizens Bank Park?

- Leeroy "Jiiiiim Thomeeeeeee" Jenkins (I don't even play WoW and I thought this was brilliant.)


- Abreu Represent


- Cubby Arcade (part 2) (part 3)

- Who Shot Jim Thome? (WSJT Part 2)

- "Rent" parody

- The Showerhead: A Mackowiak Odyssey

- Padilla Padilla Padilla

- The Mudville 9 Chatroom, with

- Endy And A Jones

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Dakota Dreamin'

It's been a while since I've had a good Phillies shoutout, so here's to Chris Coste -- my favorite 33-year-old rookie from Fargo, North Dakota -- who hit his first career home run today!
Coste was thrilled that Bard was there to see his homer. The two became good friends as Minor Leaguers in 2001 and 2002 in the Indians organization, and the two had a friendly competition going.

"We have a little contest, offense, defense, team win kind of thing," Coste said. "Last time we kind of pushed. We each hit a home run and a double, but we won, so I won."

And as for South Dakota, the other day Mark Ellis became the home run leader of major leaguers born in South Dakota, when he hit number 33 during yesterday's game, passing Dave Collins.
"I was a little disappointed they didn't stop the game and give me a plaque or something," Ellis cracked.

"They better name a street after him or something," said Bobby Crosby, who couldn't resist poking some fun at his double-play partner.

In case you're wondering, the current home run leader of major leaguers born in North Dakota is Darin Erstad, though I'd say Travis Hafner has a pretty good chance of passing him within this season (he's already up to 104, ten within Erstad's career 114, and Erstad hasn't stayed healthy long enough this year to hit any).

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Game Report: Aquasox vs. Hawks - Can I Take Your Orta, Please?

Tonight, I hung out with friends from college that I hadn't seen in a while. One's just in town for a few days and had suggested the Yankees-Mariners game, having misread the schedule, so I semi-jokingly countered with the Aquasox-Hawks game, back when I thought Doug Fister was the starter tonight. Well, while ignoring baseball this weekend, I failed to notice that not only did Fister get moved out of the rotation, but Adam Moore and Kuo-Hui Lo and Brian Kappel all got sent up to Wisconsin. Dammit!

Oh well. It was still a good evening to hang out with friends and catch a game, and I did get to see several interesting players on the Hawks, including Jeremy "Jon's Little Brother" Papelbon, Josh "Carney's Son" Lansford, and Tyler "First Round" Colvin.

"Short" version: Billy Petrick got off to a rocky start pitching for the Hawks, and the Aquasox managed to string together a run in the second inning after catcher Chao Wu led off with a single. Wu advanced when Bryan Sabatella grounded into a DP that turned into a fielding error instead, and both of them advanced during Petrick wild pitches during Ogui Diaz and Gavin Dickey's at-bats. Unfortunately, Ricky Orta lost it immediately after that, first giving up a huge home run to Steven Clevenger. Matt Camp got a bunt single, Matt Matulia walked, both advancing when Orta attempted a pickoff but threw the ball into shallow center field. It didn't matter as Tyler Colvin came up, smacked the ball deep into the right field corner, and flew around the bases for a 2-RBI triple, and was subsequently driven in on a Russ Canzler double. The Hawks added another run to make it 5-1 in the 4th, as 1B Elvin Puello was hit by a pitch, stole a base, advanced on a double play, and was scored by a Matt Camp double.

The Aquasox started to make a comeback in the 5th as Petrick tired. Chris Minaker, Joe White, and Curtis Ledbetter loaded the bases on singles and walks, and Chao Wu grounded out but drove in a run, and Sabatella hit a sac fly to drive in another. The score stayed at 5-3 until the 7th inning when Greg Nesbitt came in to pitch for the Aquasox, and he gave up two runs as Camp and Matulia induced infield bobbles and Colvin and Lansford thwacked the ball to left field, resulting in a sac fly and a double. Jayson Ruhlman held the Aquasox scoreless for the next few innings, striking out five in a row at one point, and Tyler Colvin added a run in the top of the ninth by hitting a double to the left field corner, stealing a base, and scoring on a grounder.

With the score 8-3, Jeremy Papelbon came in to pitch, and he got the first two outs easily, but then he suddenly and inexplicably ran into trouble. He walked Ledbetter, gave up a single to Wu, walked Sabatella, and with the bases loaded... walked Leury Bonilla. 8-4. Ogui Diaz bounced a grounder in front of the mound after that, and Papelbon charged it as if to throw home... and fell flat on his face. 8-5. More suspense, but Gavin Dickey hit a screaming liner which second baseman Steven Clevenger happened to be in the right place for, he jumped up and snagged it, and that was the game.

Russ Canzler, about to become Aaron Solomon's last strikeout victim.

I've got a bunch of game notes, but it's late and I'm tired.

Tyler Colvin, despite having lackluster numbers so far for a first-rounder, seemed pretty awesome to me tonight. The kid's got amazing speed, both footwise and batwise. Every ball he hit was hit hard, and he just flew around the bases; I almost thought his triple was going to be an inside-the-park home run for a second. He also made a super diving catch of a Minaker long fly ball into the gap. Between being 2-for-4 with three RBIs, a triple and a double, and two runs scored, I'd say he had a good evening.

However, in all honesty, the game MVP should probably be Steven Clevenger. Starting with that home run which kicked off the Hawks offense, he reached base in all four plate appearances, with a walk, a bunt single, and a real single as well. Despite botching what should have been a double play early on, his instincts were really good for the rest of the game, and he made a lot of good stops, even though they didn't all turn into outs. His catch for the final out of the game was pretty sweet.

There was a funny moment when 3B Leury Bonilla totally dropped a grounder that came straight to him, so he missed out on throwing out Russ Canzler. However, Josh Lansford had started running, and by the time Bonilla recovered the ball, he fired it to second, and got Lansford tagged out. I really wanted to write it down as an error, but technically he did make a play.

Aaron Solomon has a really weird pitching motion. He kicks his left knee up and sort of points his foot out straight at the plate, and comes down on it in a sort of half-twist not-quite-hesitation as he fires the ball to the plate. He was getting low-90's speed according to the stadium radar, and he only gave up one run in two innings on two hits, walking none and striking out three. I really wanted to see Doug Fister, but if they had to have someone else out there, it was good to have someone who was interesting to watch.

Looking up Jayson Ruhlman's stats, I'm somewhat confused by the way he dominated tonight. Or, perhaps not. I mean, before tonight he had 5 walks and 12 strikeouts in 8.1 innings for a 8.64 ERA, and tonight he dominated for three innings, striking out five in a row at one point. The thing is, those 5 Ks were bookended by two walks, a wild pitch, and hitting Greg Halman in the knees. If he can cut down on the other stuff between his K's, he'll be a good pitcher.

Chao Wu doesn't seem like a good catcher, but I'm bad at evaluating it at the A level, I suppose. Let's put it this way -- their team stole five bases and were never caught, and the Aquasox stole once and were caught once.

Apparently Jeremy Papelbon hadn't given up a run before tonight, which makes his awful string of five straight baserunners and two runs seem sort of abnormal. Bad night, I guess, but it couldn't have helped when he fell on his face trying to field a grounder.

I saw Steve Uhlmansiek and Navitidad Dilone charting pitches with a radar gun, and two Hawks pitchers that I couldn't identify offhand sitting a few rows back. Now that I know where to look for these things, it's always fun to try to spot them.

I suppose the highlight of the night for me was when they had a baseball trivia question: "Willie Mays got twelve Golden Glove awards in a row from the inception of the award. Who is the only other outfielder to receive twelve consecutive Golden Gloves?" I thought about it for a minute and said, "I bet it's Roberto Clemente or someone along those lines," and my friends disagreed -- keep in mind that we all went to college in Pittsburgh -- and sure enough, I was right. I guess it's just that Clemente's been on my mind lately -- I'm even thinking one of the recent books on him might be a good book club book soon -- but despite dying so young, he did have a long and amazing career in almost every way possible.

Some people were trying to follow tonight's Mariners debacle over the radio and such. It sounds like it sucked, due to umpire calls and due to the suspense of an hours-long rain delay just as the game was tied. I'm glad I was up in Everett. Despite that I know these guys are the future of the club, I don't feel as emotionally invested in whether they win or lose; I'm just there to watch some kids play baseball. I could enjoy good plays, pitches, and hits from whichever side made them.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Short Stops

It's Torre's birthday today, and Torii's as well. That joke doesn't work nearly as well in text as it does out loud.

I suck at reading medical Japanese, and the articles on Japanball indicate that Sadaharu Oh had his stomach removed as part of treatment for cancer. The discussions have been a little confusing.

Eric Byrnes played a new Home Run variation of beer pong yesterday.

Nick Swisher takes the high road, so to speak. I have to admit, though, if he's serious in that he didn't charge the mound because he was thinking of his teammates and the DL situation, that's as good as a Lackey tackle.

Almost every Salt Lake Bees player I saw in April has come up to the majors this year, the latest being Dustin Moseley, who made his major league debut last night in place of Jered Weaver, and was immediately optioned back down afterwards.

Nate Robertson, quietly one of my favorite lefties in baseball this year, started a blog, "Gum Time", a few weeks ago. I thought it was the high socks powering Detroit, but apparently it's actually their gum. I sent in a joking remark that the Tigers should get Shin-Soo Choo so they can have a Big League Choo to go with their Big League Chew.

Jim Caple has some heartwarming stories of life around the minor leagues.

John Brazer tells some amusing Phillies clubhouse stories. David Bell is good friends with Eddie Vedder?

You should all go read Fantasyland. Two and a half weeks left until book club! Trust me, you'll love it.

Craaaaazy Yankees

I managed to catch bits and pieces of today's Mariners game in various forms, culminating in watching the last few innings on TV. It ended just in time for me to see part of the Braves-Cardinals blowout, which was pretty wacky -- not only did cutie Brian McCann get his first career grand slam off the ever-squishy Jeff Weaver, and did I get to see Jason Marquis, Pinch-Hitting Wonder Pitcher, but Chipper Jones was the real story of the game. He'd had a 14-game streak of getting extra-base hits, tying a 79-year-old record set by Paul "Big Poison" Waner, and he only managed to hit singles today. You know that when a guy goes 3-for-5 with a walk and they call it a BAD day, he's got something special going. Heck, one could diss Chipper Jones for being the only Brave to get on base and NOT score a run today. What a slacker!

Oh, right, the Mariners.

You know, my housemate bought a Gamecube a few weeks ago so he could play Eternal Darkness (which, of course, is because of his eternal dorkness), and along with it he got a few other cheap games, including Crazy Taxi, which I used to play a ton of back when I first got my Sega Dreamcast a billion years ago. For whatever reason, the last few weeks have involved several hours of a bunch of us sitting around the TV, one person playing Crazy Taxi, the rest singing along to Offspring music and yelling things like "NO! DRIVE THROUGH THAT BUILDING!" or whatever.

While watching today's Mariners game, I realized that honestly, there are a ton of parallels between Crazy Taxi and Mariners baseball.

I mean, in Crazy Taxi, the bottom line is really how much money you get. You have a set amount of time to get as much money as you can, which is your score at the end. In order to get money, you pick up passengers and drive them to set locations in the game city; you have a certain amount of time per task, and if you beat that time by a lot, you get extra money; if you just make it, you get the normal fare, and if you run out of time, the passenger swears at you and runs off without paying. It doesn't matter if you follow traffic laws or if you damage your car or even if you run over OTHER passengers and people on the street; while you only get bonus points for almost but not quite running into other cars ("nice dodge!"), you'll probably get to your destinations a lot quicker if you learn where the shortcuts are, such as launching off the second story of a parking garage, or driving through the food court of a mall.

In baseball, at the end of the game, you win if you have more points than the other team. In order to get points, you hit the ball in such a way that the other team's fielders can't get you out before you get to the bases, and ideally, many of you do this in a row so you can all run around four bases, which gets you points. It doesn't really matter if you have a sweet swing or if you drive the ball hard, if it flies into the outfielder's mitt, or goes straight to the pitcher, or ends up fouled into the stands.

And if you get one guy on base, but he doesn't come around to score, then it's basically the same as picking up a passenger but not taking them to their destination.

Okay, maybe the metaphor doesn't entirely work. But see, in Crazy Taxi, even if you don't necessarily know where the Heliport, or the Tower Records, or anything else is, there's always this big helpful green arrow up at the top of the screen pointing you in the right direction. If you start heading in the wrong direction or spin out, the green arrow points backwards, and the passenger will start complaining that you're going the wrong way.

During tonight's game, I felt like even if there was a big green arrow up at the top of the TV screen pointing the team in the right direction, they'd be ignoring it and just driving wherever the hell they feel like. You know, like when they should be cruising up Jose Lopez Blvd, but instead take a detour to the Willie Bloomquist Parkway. Or when there's a big green "lefty" arrow and they neglect to turn on the Eduardo Perez signal. Today, they started down the right road at the beginning of the game, but by the end of the second inning it was like the green arrow was already telling them to turn around, as Cairo is way the hell off the map. When Giambi hit that home run, the passengers were already swearing at Washburn for being such a lousy taxi driver. The only real saving grace was when Mark Lowe took over the driver's seat and ran over some park benches and a hotrod. We picked up a few passengers in the Mariano Trench, but rather than taking them to somewhere on land, we just let them drown.

I think I give them a Class D License.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Good Reasons To Ignore Baseball

Or at least, one pretty good reason.

Yes, that's me. Yes, that was this afternoon instead of experiencing yet another gut-wrenching eleven innings of Mariners baseball. Yes, I was wearing a Tacoma Rainiers t-shirt while hiking at Mount Rainier. Yes, people thought that was pretty funny.

No, I really didn't watch any of the Mariners games this weekend, and reading various game recaps, it sounds like it was a good decision on my part.

Japan Stadiums - Fun With Google Maps

This is mostly for my own benefit, but I figured some people might be interested in seeing these too, especially since the satellite images are sort of neat:

Osaka Dome (Orix Buffaloes)
Koshien Stadium (Hanshin Tigers)
Hiroshima Stadium (Hiroshima Carp)
Nagoya Dome (Chunichi Dragons)
Tokyo Dome (Yomiuri Giants)
Meiji Jingu Stadium (Yakult Swallows)
Invoice Seibu Dome (Seibu Lions)
Chiba Marine Stadium (Chiba Lotte Marines)
Yokohama Stadium (Yokohama Bay Stars)
Yahoo! Dome (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks)
Sapporo Dome (Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters)
Fullcast Miyagi Stadium (Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles)

And for added fun to the entry, Bobby Valentine visited Sadaharu Oh in the hospital last week... and ran into none other than our very own Mariners catcher, Kenji Johjima, who was spending the All-Star break in Japan. Picture here.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Kokoyakyu / 高校野球

Okay, I caught the airing of Kokoyakyu ("High School Baseball") tonight. KCTS says it's airing again in Seattle on July 17th at 10pm as well, and that's probably the last one.

Good things: This isn't really like a "documentary" like you normally see on TV. There's no dumb English voiceovers, no kitchy announcers. It's just the players and coaches and oendan and managers and all, footage of games and practices and various interviews and such. All of it's subtitled in English, so it has more of a feel of watching a foreign film than anything.

Bad things: It doesn't actually cover the Koshien tournament. I'm not sure why I got the impression that it did.

What it actually does is follow the progression of two high schools through the preliminary games; Chiben Gakuen, a private high school in Wakayama which often goes to and/or wins Koshien, and Tennoji, a public high school in Osaka, which doesn't. It shows you what a typical day is like in the life of a baseball-playing student in high school -- between the commute to school, the time spent in classes, the 7-8 hours a day practicing after school, etc -- how they will put almost all of their time into becoming better baseball players. Regardless of which sort of school they attend, the team still puts in the same sort of effort.

In addition, there's a bit of focus on the entourage surrounding a high school baseball team -- the marching band, the female cheerleaders, and the oendan (the male cheerleaders). While the female cheerleaders are indistinguishable from ours, male cheerleading in Japan is pretty neat -- it's a group of guys who basically practice shouting and waving in unison. Mostly shouting. There's also the set of girls who are "managers" for the team -- keeping the equipment, bringing tea for the players during practice, doing other administrative work on the team, helping out at practices, etc.

What it doesn't show is the downside of some of these hard-working baseball teams. It doesn't show the guys pitching with bleeding hands, or puking in the field from overwork, or playing through injuries for fear they won't get on the team. It doesn't really show the hazing that underclassmen go through in being forced to carry all the equipment and "serve" their upperclassmen just with the hope of making it on the team. In other words, I think it's painted an accurate, but idealized picture of high school baseball in Japan.

Last year TBS Japan did a live-action adaptation of Adachi Mitsuru's H2~君といた日々, which was AWESOME. It's basically the story of a high school which goes from not even having an official baseball team when the two main male characters are freshmen, to winning the Koshien tournament as seniors. And honestly, you get the same perspective on how hard they all work, how seriously they take baseball, how important it is to them -- but in H2, since it's a series and requires a plot, they also have things like the star pitcher dating the manager girl, who the shortstop is also in love with, of course, not to mention that the star pitcher is also in love with the girlfriend of their rival high school's team captain, among other plot devices to make it more than just "a show about high school baseball". Yet, I loved that show, probably more than just about any Japanese TV show I've ever watched.

The thing is, I'm not sure whether I got any more or less out of Kokoyakyu than I did out of H2. The only real difference was, Kokoyakyu was only one hour as opposed to eleven episodes, and this one showed real footage from real games, and real high school teams and entourages and players, rather than actors in a TV show. I guess either way, they still had surprise endings!

I'd like to see an actual English-audience-accessible show that's about the actual Koshien tournament itself, though -- the history, the traditions, the past stars, the amazing achievements, and maybe even the scandals. Because I do think it's one of the neatest things about Japanese baseball, and part of the core of the whole "fighting spirit".

Anyway, if you haven't seen Kokoyakyu yet, and you're interested in seeing what high school players go through in Japan, I highly suggest checking it out. It should be airing again in Seattle on KCTS on Monday July 17, or in other cities you can check for local listings.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Happy Birthday, Shin-soo Choo!

You're being sent back to Tacoma! What a great present for your 24th birthday!

Poor guy.

People have been rumoring that Adam Jones was going to be called up this week, but until I saw the press release linked above, I didn't want to say anything about it. Of course, the question most people may be wondering is: Dobby the Bench Elf? I guess it makes sense with Petagine gone, to have another lefty bench bat.

While we're at it, there've been two reasonably high-profile trades in the last two days -- today, the Nats traded Gary Majewski, Bill Bray, Daryl Thompson, Brendan Harris, and Royce Clayton for Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez and Ryan Wagner. No, really. This is a huge trade, and it makes me wonder what the heck is wrong with the Reds front office -- this just shortly after trading us Perez for Teddy Beardado?

Yesterday, the Devil Rays traded Aubrey Huff to the Astros for two minor league prospects, and the Astros optioned down Jason Lane. Wow. It's weird, because Huff was off to a super-slow start and injured and all, but he's been really hot lately. Maybe this is all so that the Devil Rays don't need to worry about the possible embarrassment of having Scott Kazmir get 50% of their wins.

Aubrey Huff, however, is happy to go "home" to Texas, and even knew it was coming. "They usually have a bobblehead day for me or a poster, and that was kind of a hint," Huff said of the Devil Rays.

In other news, the Yomiuri Giants just got swept by Chunichi, Hiroshima, and Yokohama in succession, furthering their skid in the Central League, where they're now in 5th place and threatening to drop below Yokohama for the cellar. After vaulting off to an amazing 23-10-1 start through May 11th, the team has gone 13-37-1 since then, due to injuries and other fun. Ouch. You know that when a team has to give significant -- which is to say, any -- playing time to guys like Kazunari Sanematsu, or signs guys like George Arias, they've got major problems. However, the hapless Hiroshima Carp have played .500 ball since the Marty Brown Throws Bases incident, and have crept up into 4th place above the Giants. In a CL predictions thread, I was one of only two people who said Hiroshima wouldn't be in the dead cellar, and also said that the Giants would place 5th. It'd be hilarious if things actually worked out that way.

So, the thing I didn't want to mention in words was that the Fighters had racked up an 11-game winning streak, which tied the club record set in 1961, when they were still the Toei Flyers. Darvish Yu actually got the 11th win while wearing a jersey borrowed from Tomoya Yagi. So, go figure, the next day, with the club record on the line, Yagi pitched against Matsuzaka and lost. Well, no, not really, Micheal Nakamura got the loss, but still.

Being a Nippon Ham Fighters fan these days is a lot like being a Phillies fan. You know they'll break your heart, but you follow them anyway, never knowing when they're going to go on a winning tear or a losing tear... and knowing that it's possible they'll lose a big part of their core after the year ends, so if not now, when? Still, I have to admit that waking up yesterday and watching the Pacific League review (which are being posted to YouTube daily by terioh), and seeing Ogasawara hit those two home runs -- putting him into third place in the PL home run race -- that was pretty damn cool.

Sadaharu Oh is in the hospital undergoing treatments for a stomach tumor. Much as I'm an anti-Hawks fan, I wish him health and all. He's been watching Hawks games on TV from the hospital, and some articles even say he's hoping to be back as soon as August 8th, though they know that's an extremely optimistic outlook on "one month recovery".

As usual, no NPB entry of mine is complete without mentioning Bobby Valentine, so I figured I should mention that he's doing a series of posts on his blog about the differences between NPB and MLB -- part 1, part 2.

In his second entry he also mentions Kokoyakyu, a documentary about Koshien, the high school baseball tournament in Japan. It originally aired on July 4th, and if you're in Seattle, it's going to re-air TONIGHT at 10pm on KCTS. I haven't seen it yet since I was out of town over the 4th, so I'll be watching it tonight. Koshien's a fascinating thing -- every high school baseball player in Japan wants to win that tournament. It gets more media coverage than the pro leagues do. This'll be one of the first times it gets significant air time in English, so I'm really looking forward to watching!

Also, I'll be in Japan (staying in Osaka for some time and Tokyo for some time) from Sep 1st - 18th, so if anyone's reading this who's out there wants to get together for a baseball game, let me know. Except for Fukuoka or Sapporo, there's a reasonable chance I'll end up at a home game in pretty much every other stadium, though I'm probably skipping the Tokyo Dome because I've been there so many times, and Miyagi Fullcast because I don't want to trek up to Sendai and not be able to get a ticket.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Top Ten Things Deanna Was Thinking During The All-Star Game

10. "Jason Bay is so much cooler than Eddie Vedder."
9. "David Wright is such a dork, even if he's a cute dork."
8. "Oo, how often do you get to see Halladay pitch to Holliday?"
7. "Brad Penny is pretty good, but the truth is, he's powered by high socks."
6. "Holy crap, the NL might actually win this time?"
5. "Scott Kazmir really looks like he's about twelve years old."
4. "Hmm, I can't decide which is funnier, Bronson Arroyo's kickline or that they're playing his music video into the commercial break."
3. "Do not meddle in the affairs of catchers, for you are crunchy and taste good with tagouts."
2. "Jose Lopez playing 3rd base? Whoa."
1. "I realize there's a history of second basemen in Pittsburgh snatching victory out of the claws of defeat in the ninth inning, but this is ridiculous."

#9 was due to two things:

1) They showed a "Getting to know David Wright" clip which went something like this: "Hi, I'm David Wright, the third baseman from the New York Mets. I come from Norfolk, Virginia, and as you know -- Virginia IS for lovers. I may be wearing number #5... but my favorite show is 24. [Holds up a DVD case.] You never know what Jack Bauer is going to do next, and you never know what I'm going to do next either. For some reason I love to rock the pastel shirts. [They show him wearing several various ugly shirts.] Wait a minute! This isn't pastel!"

2) Later in the game, they went into the stands to interview David Wright's dad, and the reporter's like, "So, we're here to get the dirt on your son," and his dad's just like "Uhhh... David's such a great kid, a perfect son, he always got along with us and his brothers, I'm not sure there IS any dirt on him that I can give you. Let's see... He got in a food fight in high school once? I think he got a one-day suspension..."

Anyway, David Wright got his blog entry about the game up before I got mine up, so I feel sort of dumb. He'll be on Late Night with David Letterman tonight, if you have a chance to watch.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Let Derby Light

Well, that was fun. I watched the Home Run Derby while moving more boxes of junk around our living room. I told my housemates I was rooting for David Wright and Ryan Howard (as stated in my last post), and sure enough, those two made it to the finals, and Ryan Howard won! It was really fun to watch, and I liked that all of the players seemed to be having a blast, no pun intended. Wright would sometimes be like "Ack!" after making a bad swing, but he'd have a huge grin on his face while saying it. And at one point David Ortiz, having been eliminated, came out and towelled off David Wright's head and offered him some Gatorade. Howard and Wright were both really laid-back about it all, both saying stuff like "Hey, we came up through the minors together pretty much, I'd be just as happy if he won it as if I did. NATIONAL LEAGUE REPRESENT, YO!"

I'm not sure what possessed me, but after watching guys swing for the fences for an hour or two, I decided I wanted to go to the batting cages, so I called up a friend, and off we went. I was trying to hit the ball hard, but wasn't really succeeding; I'd drive a few back to the poles or the netting, but not many.

So my friend watches me ground the ball back to the pitching machine again, and he yells, "LIFT YOUR BACK ELBOW UP!"

I'm like, "What?"

"Your swing. You're dropping your elbow. Lift your elbow up and support your arm."

Immediately, I started pounding the ball deep on pretty much every pitch. It was awesome. Who knew? Of course, now my left arm is killing me; I may have been overextending it -- but still, that was pretty cool. It's amazing what a little leverage will do for you; and now I suddenly understand what people meant when they said players might change their swings too much for something like the Home Run Derby.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Stuff Happens

I was watching the Mariners-Tigers game from a bar Saturday night while we waited to get into Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, aka "Orlando Bloom duels Computer Graphics", and I saw Mike Hargrove blow his stack at the umpires and get ejected, but since the TV had no sound or closed captions, I really had no idea what the heck was going on. Apparently the team in general was having issues with plate umpire Ted Barrett, starting with him calling Ichiro out on a third strike when Ichiro was pretty sure he hit the ball. However, what Hargrove was arguing over when we started watching the game was just a called third strike on Raul Ibanez.

Anyway, Roberto Petagine had an at-bat in the ninth inning, and I was actually commenting to my friends about how amazing it was to see him getting an at-bat, and it was a shame that he pretty much only saw action in situations like this, etc. Then I come home and see that Petagine has been DFA'ed.


Oh yeah, and we called up a catcher from AA to take Johjima's place while Johjima flies back to Japan for a few days to see his wife and his new son. I guess it's great for Johjima, but this roster move makes no sense to me.

Today, despite wearing throw-back uniforms of the Seattle Pilots -- a team that embodied Seattle futility -- the team managed to scrape out at 3-2 win at the hands of Gil Meche, prompting Dave of USSM to write another "Gil Meche is smoke and mirrors" sort of article, which presents some interesting facts, but at the same time, I've always kind of liked Meche and would like to see him do well.

Unfortunately, I was getting killed at softball this afternoon instead of watching the Mariners, so I'm really glad there are some photos of the Pilots uniforms up on Yahoo. In particular, I like the ones of Ichiro and of Meche. I dig the high socks and the funky old hats.

The Seattle Times also has a funny article reminiscing about the Seattle Pilots.

Now we embark on a three-day break for the All-Star Game and all the associated fun. Tomorrow, of course, the festivities start with the Home Run Derby. I don't really care that much about the Derby, to be honest, but I'm rooting for David Wright or Ryan Howard to win it, if I have to choose someone. Also, the Phillies are worried about Ryan Howard screwing up his swing like Abreu supposedly did after his amazing performance in the Derby last year. However, to me, the most interesting part of the derby is that Ria Cortesio -- apparently the only female umpire in professional baseball right now -- will be working at the Derby. That's pretty cool; ever since reading Pam Postema's biography last year I've been hoping to see a female umpire reach the bigs someday. This isn't quite it, of course, but it's another good progression.

In theory, if I wasn't a complete slacker, I would have prepared the All-Cute Team to coincide with the All-Star Team this year, but it didn't really occur to me until right now that it's a good idea, so I guess it'll end up rearing its not-so-ugly head sometime in late August most likely.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Game Report: Mariners vs. Tigers - Lowe and Outside

I got to go to tonight's game with Paul from Nice Guys Finish Third and a friend of his. That was pretty cool. Paul is every bit as awesome in person as he is on his blog.

What was uncool was that it was apparently "Girls Night Out", which I wasn't actually aware of until we went in the gates and they handed me a pastel blue Mariners visor and didn't hand one to Paul or Mark. Then, through the course of the game, we were subjected to a whole ton of girly crap. First, a female announcer, which in itself isn't bad, but this one wasn't particularly inspiring, and it just felt weird to me since I think every M's game I've ever been to has had the same announcer. Second, there were these makeup tables at the stadium, with Mary Kay consultants (I think) and manicurists and stuff. DURING THE FREAKING GAME. It's like, "OMG! I think I'll go to Safeco to get a manicure!" Third, there was this "Mariners Makeover" intra-inning thing that they were showing in several installments -- a housewife with seven kids had won a contest for a makeover. So they took her shopping at the team store and picked out some new clothes for her, and took her to a spa, and she got her nails and hair and makeup done, and eventually they showed her at the game in the 7th inning being escorted around by the Mariner Moose, at which point Paul quipped, "She went through that entire thing just to get hit on by a moose?"

Honestly, I feel embarrassed to be female.

And don't even get me started on pink baseball caps.

To be fair, though, the last time I went through a makeover was probably around the same time Terry Mulholland pitched a no-hitter for the Phillies, so maybe I'm just missing out. Who knows.

Short version: Jeremy Bonderman totally owned the Mariners for the first eight innings, limiting them to three hits and no runs, and only in the ninth inning did they finally break up the shutout. The Tigers, on the other hand, got off to a good start and kept adding to their score, little by little. Curtis Granderson walked to lead off the game and scored on an Ordonez single after stealing second. Ordonez himself narrowly missed scoring in the 4th inning when Ichiro thwarted a sac fly attempt by firing the ball home in time. In the fifth, Chris Shelton scored a run after singling and stealing and being sacrificed home, and Craig Monroe hit a huge solo homer in the 7th. The game was at least semi-close up to then at 3-0, but Pineiro fell apart in the 8th. Polanco singled, Pudge Rodriguez singled, and Carlos Freaking Guillen doubled home Polanco; Mateo came out to pitch, but Marcus Thames doubled home Pudge and Guillen. Mark Lowe made his major-league debut for the Mariners having been called up from AA San Antonio this morning, and he had a fun time out there, loading the bases and then coming out of it without letting a run score. As mentioned, the Mariners pushed ahead one run in the 9th with a few singles off a tiring Jeremy Bonderman, so Joel Zumaya came out and showed me that his Coliseum radar readings weren't a fluke as he downed Richie and the game ended with the Mariners losing 6-1.

Honestly, what more do I need to add to that? Let's see.

First off. Mark Lowe was probably the highlight of the game (and I see that agrees with me). In the late afternoon I made a comment to the "Lowe up" thread on Lookout Landing basically saying, "Hey, maybe it'll be a blowout so we'll see him pitch." (Un?) fortunately, there was a blowout, so we got to see him pitch. I was excited for him, since you could see him pacing back and forth in the bullpen from about the sixth inning onwards, as if he was like "I can't believe it! I'm in the big leagues! Gee, I want to go out there and pitch!" As described in the article, he did go out there and inadvertantly load the bases, though it was all close defensive calls. Shelton's hit up the middle could have theoretically been gotten by Lopez or Betancourt. Inge's ground rule double might have been caught by Jeremy Reed if he was there instead of Shin-soo Choo. Granderson... okay, Granderson got hit by a pitch. After throwing 10 pitches, Mark Lowe had been thrown into the fire.

But what did he do? He struck out Placido Polanco, fielded a Pudge Rodriguez grounder back to the mound and got the force-out at home, and then struck out Magglio Ordonez on a change-up... and then ran into the dugout for the end of the inning and high-fived everyone in sight.

I honestly hadn't paid that much attention to Lowe before tonight, so it was really a pleasant surprise. It's exciting to see a new kid get called up like that, and the entire stadium really was up cheering him on. The first pitch he threw was a strike, and everyone was cheering, and it mostly didn't stop for the entire inning. Even if he gets sent down in a few days, it's got to be exciting to know that he came up and struck out two of the most potent hitters on what's arguably the best team in baseball right now.

Besides Lowe, I'm not sure what I feel like talking about. Craig Monroe's homer was CRUSHED. It went into the left field bleachers, completely skipping over the bullpen. They only called it 399 feet, but still.

Joel Zumaya defies radar guns. I was really interested in seeing whether his 101-103 readings in Oakland were a fluke, but no, he threw four pitches to Richie Sexson, and two were clocked at 99 and two at 100. Wow.

Shin-soo Choo is no Jeremy Reed, but 80% of the time he's adequate enough in center field. It's a little weird to see the way he reacts to the ball at first, almost like he's crouching down to track it and then gets a move on. There were definitely a few plays where a fielder with better range might have gotten to them, but all things considered, Choo wasn't really a liability out there.

Curtis Granderson's got some serious speed too. Though he was vaguely responsible for Carl Everett's "triple" in the 2nd inning, he was also responsible for a spectacular running catch of a Johjima almost-homer in the 8th. I blame the high socks.

Brandon Inge and Chris Shelton also had a high-socks great play in the 4th when Inge snagged a Beltre grounder along the line and in one swift motion fired it to first base. His aim was slightly off, but Shelton somehow managed to lean back into the catch without letting his foot off the bag.

And the real key to the Tigers, by the way, is that manager Jim Leyland also wears high socks. This is why the team is going to go far.

In the 9th inning, there were two outs with runners at first and second and Ibanez was up. He worked his way into a 2-2 count, and I was like, "Okay, Raul, just one more swing of the bat and Jeremy Bonderman can have his complete-game shutout. How do you feel about that?" He immediately singled to center to bring home the Mariners lone run.

Anyway, I need to get to sleep. It was a fun game, and good company. Hopefully I'll get down to Portland one of these days to hang out at a Beavers game with Paul.

And congrats to Conor Glassey, who is getting married today!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Friday Foto

Well, hey, just because it isn't the offseason doesn't mean I can't post one of these on an off day.

I went through my California trip pictures and resized a handful of them to put online. Yes, I'm sparing you the forty shots I took of Justin Verlander. No, I didn't get any of Nick Swisher. Yes, I really need a better camera. Just click on the army of Rich Harden clones to see the gallery.

An army of Hardens!
How many Hardens does it take to light a change-up?

I'll be at tonight's Tigers-Mariners game. I have a vague fascination with Jeremy Bonderman, and he hasn't allowed more than 2 runs in a start since sometime in May. Joel Pineiro, on the other hand, hasn't allowed less than 4 runs in a start since he faced Kansas City.

Gomez said he'd run the baseball book club on Saturday since I can't make it, so if you were planning to attend, you should still do so.

I just booked plane tickets to go to Japan for the first half of September. Whee!

(morning edit: I'm still not going to say anything about the Fighters' last eleven games, but if you are in Japan, and don't tune in to today's Lions vs. Fighters game, you're really missing out. 1:30pm Japan time, Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. Tomoya Yagi.)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Eddie's Gone

Eddie Guardado has been traded to Cincinnati for Travis Chick. Again, I have no idea what to say. Maybe he'll serve up less Guardingers in the NL. See USS Mariner or Lookout Landing for discussions.

And on a sadder note, and maybe not appropriate to include here but I keep forgetting to mention it: Sadaharu Oh takes time off for stomach surgery. Ganbare, Oh-kantoku.

I'd mention what the Nippon Ham Fighters have accomplished in the last two weeks but I'd undoubtedly jinx them again. At least Yagi and Takeda made the NPB All-Star team.

Colon Blow

When I was a kid, back when I still watched TV, I really liked Saturday Night Live. It took me a while to realize that I didn't get some of the jokes, but I still had a lot of fun watching. My best friend and I even dressed up as Wayne and Garth for Halloween one year -- the year before the Wayne's World movie came out, even. (Before you ask: I was Garth.)

So it stands to reason that, while watching last night's "game", and despite knowing how one really pronounces Bartolo Colon's name, I was still reminded of one of the funnier commercials from the late 80's SNL stuff: Colon Blow.

[fade in on a guy in a living room watching the Twins-Royals game]

Announcer: Hold it! Are you really watching this crappy team play baseball?

Man: Sure, haven't you heard? Futility is really good for you.

Announcer: Well, there's sucky, and then there's real sucky. Try this.

[the TV suddenly changes to the Mariners-Angels game]

Man: Hmm.. Bartolo Colon. He's looking awfully fat. I hear he hasn't been pitching so great this year. Are you going to tell me the Mariners can't dent this pincushion?

Announcer: Take a guess: How many runs do you think the Mariners are going to score off Colon?

Man: Seven?

Announcer: Guess again.

Man: Five?

Announcer: A little lower.

Man: Four?

Announcer: Keep trying.

Man: Three?

Announcer: No, you'll have to do better than that.

Man: Two?

Announcer: We'll give you one more guess.

Man: One?

Announcer: Not even close. This team can't even score one freaking run off Fatty McAnaheim over there. To suck so much that you can't even beat a pitcher who hasn't won a game since last September takes such amazing depths of suckitude that you'd have to lose ninety games a year, every year for at least three years running.

Man: Wow! I think I get the picture! Colon Blow must be the most crushing defeat the team could endure at this point!

Announcer: And even better, it comes with a box of Quinlan Toast Crunch!

Man: Sweet!

Voiceover: Mariners baseball. What a blow.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Game Report: Athletics vs. Tigers - Crosby, Steals, and Mash

Alright, I'm back in Seattle. I attended the A's-Tigers game this afternoon, though, which was pretty interesting.

Short version: Danny Haren and Justin Verlander were locked in a 1-1 tie for the first 7 innings of the game before giving way to their respective bullpens. Each of them had exactly one rocky inning -- for Verlander it was the first, where Kotsay led off with a single, advanced on a Thomas walk, and Payton hit a two-out RBI single. Verlander faced 20 batters in the next 6 innings. Haren didn't really have a rocky inning per se, but he gave up a solo home run to Vance Wilson in the 5th, which would have been a 2-run homer if Chris Shelton hadn't gotten himself caught stealing immediately before. Kiko Calero and Huston Street matched Joel Zumaya for two more scoreless innings, although the A's did manage 4 hits off Zumaya's 100mph heat. Ron Flores and Chad Gaudin managed the top of the 10th, and in the bottom of the 10th, against Fernando Rodney, Bobby Crosby and Frank Thomas walked, and Jay Payton singled in Crosby to immediately end the game as the A's won it, 2-1.

You know, I have to wonder whether games in Oakland are always really short, or what. My flight back home tonight was out of Oakland at 8:15pm, and the A's-Tigers game started at 2:05pm. With an average "Human Rain Delay" game in Seattle, and our generally inefficient pitching staff, I'd expect it to last at least 3 hours, but in Oakland, I was seriously worried there'd be another 2-hour game, and I'd have the choice of either spending 4 hours in the airport, or taking BART somewhere for an hour or something. Fact is, Danny Haren doesn't waste time, and neither does Justin Verlander.

Justin Verlander and Magglio Ordonez
Justin Verlander ponders his grip, while Magglio Ordonez assumes a new catching stance.

(Honestly, I took a bunch of warmup shots of Verlander, was looking for a good one to crop, then noticed Ordonez in the background of this one and thought it looked funny.)

Verlander's a machine, by the way. I'd never seen him throw before. He can throw 98 or 78 and it'll look exactly the same; in one inning he had Eric Chavez completely off balance and striking out on a 98 mph pitch, and immediately afterward he did the same exact thing to Frank Thomas with a 76 mph pitch.

Apparently Nick Swisher was sick today, which is why he didn't play. Get better, Swish!

Today, they asked what people would rather see highlights of - the Angels-Mariners massacre, the World Hot Dog Eating Contest, or the Germany-Italy World Cup game. Surprisingly, people chose the World Cup rather than Hot Dog Eating, though the hot dog contest was shown during a later inning anyway.

I think the reason the Tigers may win the World Series this year is that they have an abundance of guys wearing high socks on their team. Everyone knows that the real secret behind the 2005 White Sox was Joe Crede's high socks, so I think Brandon Inge has since stolen the socks and is hoarding the magic for himself. And Chris Shelton just looks like a classic first baseman in every way, from his build to his socks. Curtis Granderson also wisely wears the high socks for extra flair in the outfield.

Otherwise, it may be because Joel Zumaya is a radar-defying speed demon. His first four pitches when he came out, to Mark Ellis, were 100, 100, 103, and 99 mph, according to the radar guns at the Coliseum. That's just unreal. He kept up the velocity, too, with at least 15 of his pitches registering as being 100 mph. Yes, I'm doubting the gun, but I'm not doubting that Zumaya is a hard thrower.

The fifth inning, as I mentioned, was particularly lucky for Haren. Chris Shelton hit a clean single to center, and then he ended up getting caught stealing second, with a great shot from Kendall to Ellis. During Vance Wilson's at-bat, Haren threw a pitch that would have either been wild or a passed ball, but either way, it went to the backstop, which would have put Shelton on third, if he'd been at second, and then threw a second one that almost escaped Kendall. Then Vance Wilson hit that huge shot to left which bounced off the John Muir Health sign, right above the yellow line of the scoreboard, and the umpire made big circles with his arm, signalling that it was a home run. Had Shelton not gotten out at the point he did, it would have been 2-1 Tigers with one out at that point rather than 1-1 with two outs.

Frank Thomas, by the way, must be out to destroy a ton of bats. In the 6th inning he fouled off a ball and half of his bat on the way to a strikeout. In the eighth inning, the game was still tied 1-1 with two outs and runners on first and second. It was one of those moments everyone loves in baseball, where the entire game momentum can be decided with one swing. Thomas seemed to be timing Zumaya's heat -- I vaguely wondered whether he still had the bat speed to catch up with some of those fastballs. The count ran up to two balls and two strikes. The next ball sped across the plate, but must have been enough inside or outside to be called a ball. Then, a foul. Another foul. The noise got louder.

And then, Thomas popped up the ball and 65% of his bat into the infield. The bat didn't get to Carlos Guillen, but the ball did, and the game went tied into the 9th inning.

Me, I was personally hoping for a few more extra innings, to be honest. As I said, I brought my luggage and stuff to the game, stashing it in my friend's trunk. The break-even point on where it would not have been worth it to run back down to Fremont to get my stuff was about 5:45pm, since by the time I took BART back, I'd pretty much have to turn around immediately and head back up to the airport.

Of course, the game ended at 4:56pm. Go figure.

After the first half of the 10th, my friend was complaining he was cold -- and to be fair, we'd been sitting in the shade the entire game, where it was a bit windy and chilly, wearing jackets. We saw a few more people grab their stuff and leave the game from a few rows in front of us, so we went down there to sit in the sun for a bit to thaw. Fernando Rodney came out to pitch the bottom of the 10th, and I mentioned that he wouldn't sign my ticket when I was stalking players before the game (infact, the only player I managed to get was Kirk Saarloos), so he would obviously have a bad outing. Then I took off my jacket; I was wearing a Crosby #7 t-shirt. A bit later, Crosby walked.

"He's going to score," I said. "Why can't these guys make the game go slower for me?"

Chavez struck out, but just like in the first inning, Frank Thomas moved the runner into scoring position by taking a walk. So with Crosby on second and the Big Hurt on first, Jay Payton hit a single to right field. Magglio Ordonez ran in to charge the ball and get it on a bounce, and he fired it in to home plate, but the ball arrived about the same time Crosby did, and there was a collision at the plate and Vance Wilson dropped the ball anyway. And that was the game.

I have to admit, I really didn't fully experience the Coliseum, and I feel sort of stupid for that. I didn't really wander anywhere except the areas behind the infield on the first level. I should have probably at least checked out the eastside and westside lounges and whatnot, and maybe the bleachers. The problem is, once the game starts, I *never* leave my seat if I can help it. I also still didn't have the patience to wait for Saag's sausages -- today I got the fish'n'chips, which was actually really good, and great value for the money, so kudos to whoever on Athletics Nation recommended that to me.

And now I'm back here in Seattle. Watching fireworks from the plane as we were landing was pretty cool, though getting stuck in Fourth of July traffic trying to get home was not quite as cool. In theory, I'd like to go to the Angels game tomorrow, but I might have too much stuff to catch up on. I'm definitely stalking the Tigers again this weekend, though. I know it sounds crazy, but I'm beginning to actually believe they are as good as they seem, and such a far cry from what they were just a few short years ago.