Friday, May 27, 2005

Chase Watch

Chase Lambin is leading his team in slugging (.661), batting average (.339), homers (8), doubles (11), 2nd in OBP (.392) and total bases (72).

The guy with more bases has 82 more plate appearance than Chase. Playing with numbers, that means Chase gets .605 bases per plate appearance, the other guy get .462.

Guess which one is considered a utility player and which one is the potion player.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Red Sox in Cooperstown

The Red Sox and Tigers played at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown. Tigers won, but nobody really cared. Didn't matter. All that mattered was the Red Sox were in Cooperstown.

The day was cool, but the sun came out a couple times making my turtleneck sweater not only unnecessary but down right uncomfortable.

My dad and I got into town by 10. I've been to Cooperstown on other HOF game days and for induction day, but I have never seen the parking stretching out so far from the center of town so early. I've also never seen so many Red Sox fans in one place outside of Fenway Park. Nearly everyone was wearing something branded Red Sox. It was a big crowd, a big day for local merchants. Every store had anything and everything Red Sox prominently displayed in windows or on tables on the sidewalk. I grabbed a Fisk felt banner for $5; it was $25 the year he was inducted (was here for that).

The parade was short and lovely as usual, but there was a long delay as the guest marching band performed a bunch of numbers at the reviewing stand, which was maddening because we could see the trolleys bearing the teams sitting before the HOF, not moving. The car carrying Johnny Pesky and Dom DiMaggio was rushed by fans while the parade was at a standstill, certainly exciting some of the security people. When things finally got rolling again, the crowd went wild, Main Street sounding like Fenway during a rally. Johnny Damon pushed the crowd by leaning out the trolley window, waving and hollering to the fans.

People filled the park early; frequently the pre-game home run derby is attended by a significantly smaller number than the game itself, but most seats were filled, and stayed that way through most of the game even though with one exception all of the starters were long gone before the 7th inning. Nobody cared. The Red Sox were playing in Cooperstown.

Johnny Damon lead off, per usual, and made fans happy through most of the rest of the day, bantering with the center field bleacher crowd, tossing a ball back and forth with them to warm up for the second inning because the high schoolers who work the game were warming the other two outfielders. Later he coached third base making a total mockery of giving the signs, which earned him plenty of laughs. My dad said he had sort of like Damon before, but he is a real fan of Johnny's now, having seen him and how he interacts with the fans in person. He used to refer to Damon as "that guy with the hair," now he's "Johnny Damon, that fun guy."

We were both a bit disappointed that Trot Nixon didn't make an appearance. We both love Trot, he's our kind of player. Kevin Millar wasn't dressed and on the field, and Captain, My Captain Jason Varitek never got an at bat though he presented the World Series ring pre-game to the HOF, but otherwise it was a perfect day watching the Red Sox play in Cooperstown.

Dale Sveum added to the fun by getting a single when the rest of the Sox were cold at the plate. A pinch runner was put in for him, but he played first for a couple of innings as well. Atlanta bullpen coach Bobby Dews starting last year's game behind the plate, going a full inning, is a tough act to follow, but Sveum added to the fun of the day.

I don't follow the Tigers, but I was happy to see Pudge II Rodriguez at least get one at bat as the DH. A few other names were familiar, Inge, Pena.

Most of the Red Sox regulars left the game by the third or fourth inning, after each got an at bat, but the starting pitcher, Anibel Sanchez who is with Wilmington this season, had a good start, a long start, pitched most of the game facing all levels of batters, major leaguers to other A-level players. A couple other prospects we got to see included Hanley Ramirez, Shawn Wooten, Michael Lockwood, Jim Buckley, Bryan Pritz, and Christian Lara. The Sox player who made the biggest impact was Willy Mota. He took over centerfield for Damon and within an inning he had the fans out there cheering for him, the rest of the fans an inning or two later with some great catches and throws, and a timely 2-run homer. The whole place was chanting "Mota! Mota! Mota!" when he came to the plate. It was wild, and I hope Willy remembers this day.

My dad, who has a hard time sitting that long, lasted through four innings. When he accompanies me to my home park (for just one game a season), he won't stay in his seat for more than an inning at a time, gets up to stretch and investigate all the time. I've told him that's fine, just make sure you're back to the box where I sit for the ninth. At one point during today's game, he leaned over to tell me, "If you get tickets for next year, I'll come with you."

Thursday, May 19, 2005

I'm going! I'm going!

Late last week I got an email saying tickets for the Hall of Fame game in Cooperstown were available to members of Red Sox Nation. An order didn't guarantee you'd get them, but I took a shot.

When I got home from work tonight, there was a box on my kitchen table. I wondered what it was because I didn't think I had any outstanding book orders. I got closer and saw the return address said "Boston", then saw "4 Yawkey Way".

Yee-haw! tickets to see the Red Sox in Cooperstown! And a couple Red Sox Nation Road Trip teeshirts.

I'm going to see the Red Sox. In Cooperstown!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Old School

Is it possible or do my eyes deceive me? Is that a bit of white showing between the top of the lead-off batter's shoe and stirrup?

Yup, it is. Next batter too, third batter as well.

And as the Toledo Mud Hens take the field in the bottom of the first, I see that the entire team has at least a slice of white sani showing beneath their dark stirrups.

Last season I told David Wright that some of us fans really liked the "high socks" look, with the pant leg ending just below the knee instead of pulled over the shoe tops like pajamas. Next homestand, all of the team was wearing "high socks." Old School.

And now the Mud Hens are taking it a step further. I love it.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

A Good Evening at the Park

Ebeth and Jennie are two of my favorite people to be at a ballgame with, so when Ebeth called and said they were going to Wednesday's game, I said count me in.

It was a beautiful evening to be at the park, golden sunshine through most of the game as the sun slowly set over the left field stands, warm so a jacket wasn't necessary until the last few innings.

We sat right behind home plate, location courtesy of Ebeth's new buddy, one of the umps. It's a strange place to sit, the sound of the PA is totally distorted and you can't hear the chatter on the field the way you do sitting along the base paths.

I had to laugh when a wild pitch was let loose, as the pitchers charting the pitches right in front of us all flinched as much as anyone else. Yo, guys, there's a screen there! And you should be used to seeing a hardball flying right at you. Especially the way some of you pitch.

Ebeth and Jennie always complain about how subdued the Binghamton fans are, but when their dads started cheering and hollering, they could have died of embarassment. I guess it's okay if other people's parents act up, just not yours.

Ebeth and Jennie didn't bring their usual signs with them, so that seemed a little strange. When I first met them, they were toting banners to "motivate" an opposing player. They expanded that to include other players on their player's team. Finally they started making ones for the home team. Too bad they didn't have the banners, because where we were sitting would have been great to display them while the guys were on defense.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Mixing it up

Diamond Stats
A local jeweler is running an ad campaign about people buying diamonds online based solely on the stats provided. One cannot truly appreciate a diamond's beauty without seeing it. I've maintained that for years about baseball. You can throw all the stats you want at me, but until I've seen a man play, in person, I cannot appreciate just how fine he is. I know Pedro Martinez is outstanding, not just because of the flashy numbers he's posted, but because I've seen him pitch, striking out 10. I've seen Vlad Guerrero and been wowed by him in a way that mere numbers could never do. Let Billy Beane and Theo Epstein live in a paper world. As the jeweler's ad says, you're not buying her a piece of paper, you're buying her a diamond.

Catcher at First
Mike Jacobs continues to amuse me, chattering from first to the pitchers as if he were their receiver. Mike thinks he's still in charge of the game, which might not be such a bad thing. He's looking like the team leader at this point, hope he keeps it up.

Sucks to be Zac
Joe Hietpas is the Mets catcher of the future, a role Mike Jacobs once held until injury repositioned him at first. Zac Clements was brought to Binghamton to be Joe's backup, knew he wouldn't be getting many starts. So when Joe Hietpas is playing first, getting a break from catching, and Mike Jacobs, first baseman-in-training, is behind the plate, it's got to be disappointing for Zac to be benched, let alone when his grandmother is visiting.

How Many Ways Can the B-Mets Let the Opponent Score?
Matt Lindstrom was wild in his Sunday start, throwing way too many pitches through the first three innings, giving up 5 runs. His teammates almost got the game back, 5-3, but then came the fourth inning. Lindstrom walked a couple, was pulled for Jose Rodriguez who proceeded to walk the next three batters, walking in two runs. He also hit a batter. When an Erie batter finally connected, the ball rolled up and over the second baseman, letting in two runs. Almost felt sorry for the Sea Wolf who lost his chance for a grand slam. Nine batters got on board before an out, a strikeout, was recorded. After a certain point, you know longer get disgusted, but rather amused and intrigued: how else can the B-Mets give up a run?

My friend Liviana, Mellow and Grace's mom, grew up in a family of Pittsburgh Pirate fans. She had mentioned going to Three Rivers Stadium with her father a couple times, and had mentioned at different times that she had seen Roberto Clemente play, had seen him play his final game. When I showed her a children's book I had picked up (I get them for friends' children and for my collection), it was as if a spigot had been opened full-blast.

She talked about going to the ballpark with her father and her uncles, about being at the park singing along with "We Are Family" telling me I couldn't understand just how powerful that had felt (I've been at Fenway for "Dirty Water" and "Sweet Caroline" so I have an inkling), about knowing even then that seeing Clemente play was seeing ssomething truly special, even historic. She hugged the book, petted the illustrations as she talked, her eyes bright, a smile plastered across her face, and tried to convey to another Clemente fan, one too young to have seen him play live, what a thrill it had been for her, getting close to tears. This is what baseball is all about, connections across time, with the past, ours and the game's, and being able to tap into the well of rememberance and emotion interwoven with our experiences of the game.