Jose Lima bean

A thought on Saturday night’s Dodgers-Cardinals game: since Joe Buck was off for his NFL football broadcasting duties, wouldn’t it have been great if Fox had told Tim McCarver to stay in St. Louis and instead had the game called by a certain Los Angeles-based announcer who’s been around since the last Ice Age and has more broadcasting talent in his little finger than Tim McCarver has in all the shoe-polished strands of his hair combined?

No such luck, and even if I had been watching live instead of TiVo-delayed, I couldn’t have listened to him on the radio because of the delay inherent in DirecTV. Eventually, I put the TV on mute and listened to Brian Wilson’s “Smile” on my iPod instead.

Original comments…

Toby: Levi, Did you happen to catch Fox Sports’ “Beyond the Glory” special on Kirk Gibson’s WS Game 1 HR in 1988? It was narrated by Joe Buck. …Was a great piece.

The thing that struck me, though, was that they played Vin Scully’s call of the homer first, then used Jack Buck’s a little later. I had never heard anything but Jack Buck’s call of that homer. It was very interesting.

You’re so right about Vin Scully and McCarver, though. Why does he seem to worry so much about how deep the outfielders are playing?

Toby: Whoops – Just noticed that Jim posted that. Regardless, my comments wouldn’t change–just direct it at Jim, instead of Levi.

Jim: They did an entire “Beyond the Glory” on Kirk Gibson’s home run? Wow. I’ve closed-captioned a couple of those, and they’re pretty good, but I’ve never watched one at home.

In the video of the home run, you can see one car in the parking lot beyond center field leaving early. Its taillights suddenly come on just as the ball leaves the stadium, and it apparently syncs up perfectly with Vin Scully’s call, as if the occupant of the car was listening to the game on the radio and reacted to the home run by slamming on the brakes.

By the way, it turns out that if you actually go to a Division Series game at Dodger Stadium, not only do you not have to listen to Tim McCarver on your TV, you get to listen to Vin Scully’s calls of memorable moments from the past season. His call of Steve Finley’s grand slam to clinch the division was something like:

“Wherever it comes down, the Dodgers are division champs.” (35 seconds of crowd noise)

Can you imagine Tim McCarver being quiet for 35 consecutive seconds?

Toby: NO! He’d be talking about how one of the fans in the seventh row was playing too deep to catch the home run ball.

maura: chris berman was silent after vladdy’s grand slam the other night. as was ALL OF FENWAY. it was totally creepy and everyone at work was just looking at each other all alarmed-like.

thatbob: fucking yanx

Chili today, hot tamale

First of all, after Kevin Millar made a good defensive play in the bottom of the first inning of the Sox-Angels game, ESPN color commentator Rick Sutcliffe asked the director for a close-up of Kevin Millar’s face to make sure it wasn’t Doug Mientkewicz in a Kevin Millar uniform. Someone’s been reading!

Second, and more important, I commiserated with the Rocketship by making chili con carne to eat during the game, and this is the recipe I used.

2 pounds lean ground beef (I guess any ground meat would be okay)
2 medium onions
2 bell peppers (I used one green and one red)
2 garlic cloves
1 28-ounce can ready-cut (“Recipe Ready”) tomatoes (because cutting up the onions, peppers, and garlic is plenty without having to cut up tomatoes, too)
1 15-ounce can kidney beans
1 15-ounce can pinto beans
2 cups water
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Dash of salt
Shredded cheese

Chop the onions and bell peppers into small pieces. Chop the garlic into very, very small pieces.

Brown the meat and drain.

In a big pot, stir together everything but the beans and cheese. Cook, covered, over low-to-medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Drain the beans and stir them into the chili. Continue cooking, still covered, for another 30 minutes.

Serve in bowls and put shredded cheese on top. As listed above, the recipe makes about 8 servings of chili, which is good in my case because although it’s good right after it’s made, it’s even better as a leftover. It should be fairly easy to halve, although you’ll probably have to make a choice between kidney beans and pinto beans instead of having both. (Why am I not having people over to my place? Fewer baseball fans among my southern California friends, worse start times in terms of people being able to drop by for the game after work, and the fact that my bathroom is a mess because the apartment complex maintenance staff is working on the ceiling.)

Here’s what it looks like before the cheese is put on top (and, no, you don’t use the whole bag on one bowl unless you like cheese more than you like chili)…

Goes great with $7.00 beer, and Sarah Michelle Gellar…

And it tastes even better when Johnny Damon is on TV…

Incidentally, the advantage to having a local team in the playoffs while you’re trying to TiVo their game, airing on ESPN, is that the coverage is duplicated on a local channel. In this case, the game bounced from ESPN2 to ESPN once the Twins-Yankees game finally ended, but L.A.’s UPN 13 carried it straight through, with a minimum of scrolling messages informing all 10 or 11 potential viewers of the UPN show “Kevin Hill” that tonight’s episode would be airing on Saturday.

Original comments…

Levi: One thing you might try in the future, Jim: Fritos. I think the only reason they’re on the earth is to be put in chili just before you put in the cheese.

We didn’t see much baseball last night, just a bit in a hotel bar while waiting for Stacey’s aunt and uncle to show up from the airport. So we saw the Yankees leeding 5-3 in the 8th, Rivera coming in. “Oh, we don’t need to watch–we can go sit in the lobby. We saw Rivera blow a lead in 2001, so we won’t see that again for another few years.”

Checking in a few minutes later, finding it 5-5, we decided to leave a note at the desk telling Auntie where to find us.

But then, at dinner, it all went bad. Stacey and I were occasionally our heads in the bar–where the bartendress was a Minneapolis transplant and where there was also one Yankee fan who, when I said to the bartendress, “Everybody hates the Yankees!”, said, “Not everybody!”. Stacey saw that the Twins had gone ahead in the 12th. Next thing I knew, I saw from across the restaurant a crowd of bouncing Yankees. And they didn’t look like they were bouncing the bounce of despair.

Oh, well. There’s always game 3.

Jim: “Bartendress”?

By the way, Rogue Dead Guy Ale was a $7.00 beer in Pittsburgh, and it’s still a $7.00 beer in L.A….but in this case, it’s $7.00 for a 6-pack at BevMo in Van Nuys. Actually, $6.99 plus “CRV” (deposit).

Dan: SMG, still hot? I lost track a few years back.

Jim: She’s no Alyson Hannigan, that’s for sure (although Alyson is admittedly more “intensely cute” than “hot”).

Levi: I’m so with Jim on the Alyson Hannigan thing, although I do tend to think SMG is hotter than, say, most blondes. But that’s mainly because she kills vampires, who are not hot.

Two more things

1) I really like watching Johan Santana, even when he isn’t completely on his game, like last night. The patented Fox Extreme Nosehair Closeups showed me a man who is terminally worried, kind of like John Tudor used to look. Midway through the game I decided what the look on Santana’s face is: it’s the look of a man who can see the future, but is powerless to change it! Like, “Oh, no, no, no. I’m going to throw a hanger and he’s going to belt it out of the park. Why must that be my destiny?” Tragic. But if that’s his look when he’s pitching like Bob Gibson, imagine how tortured he’d look if he ever looked into the future and saw himself giving up a run!

2) Jim sent a packet of baseball articles and such last week, and two elements of it found their way to our mantelpiece last night. For October, we try to replace the usual items on our mantel with baseball-related items, one for every team in the playoffs. The only thing I couldn’t find last night was a picture of William T. Sherman to represent the impending downfall of the Braves. From Jim I got a big photo of Don Zimmer, which might, if we’re lucky, curse the Yankees for letting him go, and as a general backdrop, the chart Jim used to figure out the logistics of our trip. So thanks, Jim!

Original comments…

Jim: You actually have my father to thank for the Don Zimmer picture. He gave it to me when I was visiting him in May. I think he had used it to test his color printer, or something like that.

Jason: Is it framed?

stacey: it’s framed with our hatred of the yankees (which is crocheted with care out of my love for the cardinals, johnny damon, eric gagne, baseball playoffs, and beer).

The first games

I’m still busy busy busy at work, but I couldn’t let the first games pass with no comment, so here’s a quick post with no links, mainly designed to get other people’s impressions of yesterday’s games.

1) I know one game does not a series make, but I very much enjoyed the dazed look that Odalis Perez wore when he left the mound in yesterday’s Cards/Dodgers game. The last time a team hit five home runs in a game in a division series–wait–no team had ever done that before. It was a good start.

2) I was a bit bothered by the curtain calls at Busch Stadium yesterday, though. Curtain calls seem to me to be a bit disrespectful. I know players feel like the crowd is compelling them to come out, and they have to do it to shut up the crowd, but like a band after playing a perfunctory encore, they should just ignore the noise. Eventually it’ll go away. No matter how hard I stomped my feet at his show, Nick Lowe wasn’t going to come back out and play “I’ve Been Everywhere.”

3) The Red Sox did as expected. I expect they’ll do more of the same in games 2 and 3. And Johnny Damon’s hair seems to be even longer than before: it’s down past his shoulders.

4) I finally saw Scooter the Talking Baseball last night. Acting as if it were the most ordinary thing in the world, Joe Buck said, “And now, to tell us some more about the change-up, here’s Scooter.” And there he was, unsettlingly flesh-colored, with a weird stitching mouth and backwards ball cap. Until that moment, I was still trying to make myself believe that he was a figment of Jim’s imagination. But no: Fox really does think kids are this stupid.

5) After the umpires took back the Sierra home run last night, deciding that it was foul after all, I decided that the only thing better than a Yankee making an out is a Yankee thinking he’s hit a home run, then making an out. I decided that every time a Yankee hits a foul ball–even just a grounder–the umpires should wave their fingers for a home run, make the hitter run the bases, then confer and send him back to the plate. Now that would be fun.

Original comments…

Levi: Oh, and how could I have forgotten the way the radar gun reading bursts into flames any time a pitch gets above about 92 mph? What a wealth of new excitement that brought to my enjoyment of the game! Thank you, Fox! Thank you!

maura: that near-hr was ruben sierra’s, actually. he promptly struck out.

Levi: Thanks, Mo. I fixed it.

Jason: When is Fox going to bring out the blue dot to follow where the ball goes? And when will we see Calista Flockhart eating a hot dog?!?!?

stacey: i was DEEPLY disappointed that sierra was not required to run the bases in reverse.

It’s chili time!

Those of you who haven’t been living here recently–or ever–should know that for the last three baseball seasons, Stacey and I have done our best to turn October at The Rocketship into a baseball open house. I find that the best way to end the baseball season is surrounded by friends and big simmering pots of vegetarian chili, some cornbread, some cider, and some marveling at the color of Tim McCarver’s hair dye.

Though most of the people around these parts have trouble working up any interest in American League baseball, we’re kicking things off tonight with the Yankees and the Twins, and who can’t work up enthusiasm for seeing Johan Santana strike out Yanks? We’ll have even more trouble if any Astros/Braves games sneak into prime time: I know it’s a fundamental rule of life that one roots against the Braves, but I find rooting for Houston to be almost as difficult. I’ve been likening it to an election where you have a corrupt, unpalatable Democrat against a corrupt, unpalatable Republican. In that case, I’ll always go for the guy with the (D) by his name. In this case, that’s Houston.

So you’re all welcome to come out. All of you I know, that is. If you’re a stranger reading this blog from, say, jail, you’re not necessarily invited. We’ll have to discuss it. Here’s a schedule for the rest of the week.

First, however, we have to root the Cardinals past the Dodgers today at noon. I blame Fox for the fact that I have to listen to this game at work rather than watch it at home. I suppose if I were in LA I could watch it over brunch.

I’m still really busy at work–hence the staying here today instead of going home–but some quick picks:

Twins over Yanks
Red Sox over Angels
Red Sox over Twins

Cards over LA
Braves over Astros
Cads over Braves

Cards over Red Sox

You knew that was where I was headed, didn’t you? And what are your picks?

Original comments…

Dan: My gut:

Yanks over Twins // Sox over Angels
Sox over Yankees

Cards over LA // Braves over Astros
Braves over Cards

Braves over Sox.

Trust me, I hate that scenario. Just the gut feeling about the Braves this year.

Jim: Darn it, I was distracted by the lack of Hostess Baseballs at the supermarket yesterday, and forgot that I was going to get chili ingredients in order to have my own Rocketship-esque playoff viewing here in L.A. (Only “Rocketship-esque” because I prefer chili of the con carne variety.) But I wasn’t planning to watch a game tonight, so I can wait until tomorrow night, for the Red Sox-Angels game at 7:00 PDT. I think a few Bostonians are going to be very tired Thursday morning!

Levi: Time for baseball!

Go, Cardinals!

Luke: > What are your picks?

I like rice and pasta for the division series, then chili and Moose Tracks for the LCS’s. I’m leaning toward pizza and bratwurst for the World Series.

Oh, baseball? ABY: Anyone but Yankees. I’ll root for the Cards in the N.L., and then the Red Sox and Twins in the A.L., but will have to defer to the Sox when they meet, as I always will when a grass team plays a non-grass one.

Jason: What I’d like to see:

Twins over Yankees
Angels over Red Sox
Twins over Angels

Dodgers over Cardinals
Astros over Braves
Dodgers over Astros

Twins over Dodgers

What I’ll probably see:

Yankees over Twins
Red Sox over Angels
Yankees over Red Sox

Cardinals over Dodgers
Braves over Astros
Braves over Cardinals

Yankees over Braves in six in the 3rd least-viewed World Series in history (narrowly better than Yankees-Mets in 2000 and the other 20 times Yankees-Braves have faced off)

stacey: i’d just like to note that, although the chili is vegetarian, one of the optional condiments is bacon. lots of bacon.

maura: i have a weird feeling about an astros-sox world series. (you know fox would eat that up with a spoon, too — hell, they’d probably send their “news”casters down for live, snicker-filled remotes from halliburton park.)

Levi: Yeah, Luke: should I be eating pasta today instead of leftover chili? Am I setting myself up for a 9:47 marathon?

Oh, and shame on you, Dan. Did William T. Sherman look at Atlanta and think, “I wish I could burn this shithole to the ground, but I think it won’t happen?”

The Astros, though worthy of hate, are the William T. Shermans of the Division Series.

Jim: Bacon on chili?!

Luke, hanger-on: You’re probably OK today, but by Thursday or Friday you should consider a moratorium on all, let’s say, gastronomically complicated food. Just as you don’t see large plumes of smelly exhaust shat out by Indy 500 race cars, so too do you want to avoid combustion issues of your own come Sunday.

Jason: Have you ever tried adding a little chocolate to your chili? It’s not bad.

Matt B.: How Dare you compare the Atlanta Braves to “a corrupt, unpalatable Republican” – The Atlanta baseball franchise has been steadfast in its support of stem cell research!

Levi: We usuall put in about a quarter-cup of cocoa powder, which does give the chili a little hint of some dark, rich taste. If Stacey will allow, I’ll post the Rocketship Baseball Chili recipe in coming weeks so you can all play along at home!

Dan: I’m not saying I WANT the Braves to win — trust me, if it was up to me, I’d want the Mets to play the NY Jets in the World Series, that way I’ll be happy regardless who wins. It was just a lousy gut feeling. Especially lousy considering how shitty they played yesterday.

Jason: Re: Chili or pasta?

Why not have both? Pour the leftover chili on to your spaghetti or linguine or rotini or what have you for a real taste treat!

The end of the baseball season hits home

Today, store the shelf space at my local Ralphs that had been set aside for Hostess Baseballs since March was now filled with some Halloween snack cake instead: chocolate cupcakes covered with orange frosting, called something like Hostess Booballs (not the real name, but it should be).

And what a season it was

Levi’s obviously extremely busy at work, but if we all clap our hands, maybe he’ll show up and make some observations on the playoffs once they get under way tomorrow.

Subheads in today’s L.A. Times: “Angels have conjured a special season, and if the franchise is haunted by ghosts of ’86 playoff loss to Boston, the players seem unaware of it” and “The Dodgers had 53 come-from-behind wins, 26 in final at-bat, but keeping that magic going against powerful Cardinals won’t be easy.”

Now we get to make fun of Sports Illustrated for being very wrong about the National League division winners in their before-the-season predictions. The teams we saw on the trip are in bold.

SI Prediction Actual Results

NL East
Philadelphia Phillies Atlanta Braves
Florida Marlins Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves Florida Marlins
Montreal Expos New York Mets
New York Mets Montreal Expos

NL Central
Chicago Cubs St. Louis Cardinals
Houston Astros Houston Astros
St. Louis Cardinals Chicago Cubs
Cincinnati Reds Cincinnati Reds
Milwaukee Brewers Pittsburgh Pirates
Pittsburgh Pirates Milwaukee Brewers

NL West
Arizona Diamondbacks L.A. Dodgers
San Francisco Giants San Francisco Giants
San Diego Padres San Diego Padres
L.A. Dodgers Colorado Rockies
Colorado Rockies Arizona Diamondbacks

AL East
New York Yankees New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore Orioles Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Tampa Bay Devil Rays Toronto Blue Jays

AL Central
Minnesota Twins Minnesota Twins
Chicago White Sox Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals Cleveland Indians
Cleveland Indians Detroit Tigers
Detroit Tigers Kansas City Royals

AL West
Oakland A's Anaheim Angels
Anaheim Angels Oakland A's
Seattle Mariners Texas Rangers
Texas Rangers Seattle Mariners

In other news, over the offseason, the Dodgers are going to add 1,600 more ridiculously expensive seats to Dodger Stadium by moving the dugouts forward into what’s now foul territory and putting in more seats between the current ridiculously expensive seats behind home plate and the new dugouts. They’ll also be transforming the current rubberized warning track into a dirt track. I hope having the new expensive seats distracts them from raising ticket prices elsewhere in the stadium, namely, the reserved level (third deck) tickets that are currently $17, $12, and $10.

Original comments…

Toby: Levi is probably too busy still celebrating NU’s big win over Ohio State Saturday. …And rightfully so.

Jim: But he’s not posting on the Football-Related Program Activities blog, either! Oh, wait, there is no such thing. Football ticket prices (especially in the NFL) and game schedules don’t lend themselves to road trips.

An e-mail from my father: “Wore my NU hat to the Bucs game and was literally hugged by Buckeye haters.” That’s “Bucs” for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, not the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Bicycle rider, just see what you’ve done

Think us seeing 11 games in 11 cities in 10 days was an accomplishment? A man named Charlie Hamilton went to all 30 major league ballparks over this season, traveling around North America by bicycle, raising money for charity, occasionally staying in motels like this one, which probably isn’t listed in the AAA book.

His web site is a little bit behind on updates, but that’s understandable, since he was traveling around North America by bicycle for much of the baseball season. I know he did finally make it to the Red Sox-Yankees game on September 26th because it was mentioned in the L.A. Times.

His journal entries are amusing, and Levi and the hangers-on who regularly ride bicycles will probably enjoy them even more than I do. But he also makes pronouncements I think we all can get behind, such as, “I got to see more of [Johnny] Damon, and he’s acting a little weird. When he signs something or other for someone, do you think he signs it ‘Johnny H. Damon’?” and “In my book, anyone who spoils the cat is fine people.”