Opening Day: Hour 6

3:00 — No game starting this hour.
3:05 — What looks like dust is getting in the way of the centerfield camera on the Tigers-Royals game, but it may well be mist from the outfield fountain.
3:10 — For the last 10 minutes, a vehicle on the street in front of my apartment building has been occasionally honking its horn, as if the driver is waiting for someone who has not arrived at the vehicle yet. Doesn’t everyone have cell phones now that they can use instead of a horn?
3:18 — One of my neighbors yelled, “Lay off the horn!” This is slightly more interesting than the Dodgers game, in which the Braves are now leading 10-5.
3:20 — The vehicle with the horn is gone. The yelling worked!
3:26 — Every year about this time, I get some kosher-for-Passover Coca-Cola, and every year I forget that because I’m used to regular Coke sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, the kosher Coke sweetened with sucrose has what I perceive to be a weird aftertaste. Also, it’s foamier than regular Coke.
3:28 — Oh, yeah, it was Cardinals 13, Phillies 5. 3 runs fewer than the Cubs!
3:34 — The Angels were leading 3-0 at one point, but now the Mariners have tied things up in the bottom of the 5th.
3:43 — Attendance at today’s Dodgers game is announced as 56,000, which happens to be the exact capacity of Dodger Stadium. Hmm… According to Vin Scully, it’s never been that high for a regular-season game before. (But I happen to know it’s been higher for postseason games, which is a neat trick.)
3:44 — Many of those 56,000 have already left, and even more start to stream out after Ryan “Islets of” Langerhans puts the Braves up 11-5 with a solo home run.
3:47 — I really haven’t been paying attention to this one, since it’s the other game not available in DirecTV’s MLB Extra Innings package today, but I happen to see on the Dodger Stadium out-of-town scoreboard that the Diamondbacks and Rockies are tied at 2 in the 10th inning. Only 2 runs apiece at Coors Field? They must have lowered its altitude during the off-season.
3:49 — Speaking of which, I take a quick look at this webcam — looks like the new Busch Stadium is all ready to go for its opening game a week from today.
3:54 — Wow, the Royals seem to be entirely composed of people I remember from other teams — one of them, Reggie Sanders, grounds into a 6-3 play, and the game goes final as Tigers 3, Royals 1.
3:57 — Olmedo Saenz of the Dodgers pretends to have been hit by a pitch. No one is fooled, but the ploy apparently rattles Braves pitcher Blaine Moyer enough that Saenz hits a 2-run single after

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heading back home. Now the Dodgers are only down 11-7.

Opening Day: Hour 5

2:00 — Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Seattle Mariners (FSN West)
2:00 — Confirmed that FSN West is still FSN West, at least until they decide to rename themselves FSN Z Channel.
2:01 — The weather looks pretty nice in Seattle, too.
2:02 — Finally, in Baltimore, the bottom of the fifth comes to an end with the Orioles leading 7-4.
2:03 — The Dodgers are on the board! It’s 4-1.
2:04 — Vin Scully is being simulcast on the radio, I am reminded when he says “on television, we’re looking at…”, which continues the old-timey feeling.
2:06 — I finally see a score for the Cardinals-Phillies game, not being carried by DirecTV’s MLB Extra Innings package. The Cards must be trying to outdo the Cubs in runs scored — it’s 13-3 in the sixth.
2:07 — As the family of rookie Devil Rays pitcher Johnny Childers is being interviewed in the stands, Travis Lee hits a 2-run homer into a different part of the stands, and the Rays have cut the Orioles’ lead to 1.
2:10 — Hmm, I wonder if that Japanese ad for “Nintendo DS Lite” behind home plate at Safeco Field indicates that this game is being shown in Japan. I mean, there must be a few people who speak Japanese in the Seattle area.
2:14 — It’s the bottom of the ninth in Arlington, and the Rangers are keeping it interesting with a couple of hits.
2:15 — I’ve been forgetting to watch the Tigers-Royals game. Their Aflac trivia answer was Kenny Rogers, presumably meaning the starting pitcher for the Tigers and not the roasted-chicken impresario.
2:18 — Another final: Red Sox 7, Rangers 3.
2:19 — I’m getting the “for ordering information, call…” notice on that channel, so the Pirates-Brewers game must have gone final while I wasn’t paying attention to that one. Yes: Brewers 5, Pirates 2.
2:20 — It’s the bottom of the eighth in Cincinnati, and a lot of fans have left the ballpark, even though the Reds are only down by 5.
2:26 — Vin Scully: “You know how you dress up the house when company’s coming? Well, they have dressed up Dodger Stadium — and the company’s here!”
2:27 — But they obviously haven’t installed cell phone jammers at Dodger Stadium, as a quick look at the fans sitting right behind home plate makes all too clear.
2:28 — They also haven’t dressed up the Dodgers enough, as Atlanta gets another run to go up 5-1.
2:29 — Reds relief pitcher Rick White is wearing number 00. I like him almost

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as much as Brandon Watson.
2:30 — And then there’s Cubs rookie outfielder Angel Pagan. I wonder which god (or gods) he worships.
2:33 — The Cubs are up to 13 runs — same number of runs the Cardinals currently have.
2:34 — Now the Orioles are ahead 9-6, and the Braves are ahead 8-1.
2:35 — A Devil Rays promo promises that this season, they will be “bringing endless energy every single game.” I’ll believe it when I see it.
2:37 — The Cubs have now equaled their run total from last year’s Opening Day, which was a Cubs Opening Day record. It’s 16-7.
2:39 — Now I hear that Albert Pujols had home runs in his first two at-bats — but he’s no Tuffy!
2:40 — I assume the roof is closed at Safeco Field so the wind doesn’t mess up the “2006” spelled out in light-colored dirt on the infield.
2:42 — The Orioles’ costumed mascot has black wings with orange tips on his back, which I guess is semi-accurate, except that they look like the hand-held lights that are used to direct airplane pilots into the proper stopping position.
2:43 — Joe Maddon has changed from sunglasses to his regular glasses. Now the Rays need to come back to win, so that retro-hipster eyewear is encouraged.
2:46 — The Dodgers are slowly working their way out of the hole: it’s now 8-4.
2:47 — Okay, there may be lots of people on cell phones at Dodger Stadium, but at least they’re blase enough not to wave like an idiot when they’re on camera, unlike a certain man in the third row in Cincinnati.
2:48 — His waving like a maniac didn’t help, because the final is Cubs 16, Reds 7.
2:53 — It’s the top of the ninth in Baltimore with the Devil Rays down by 3 runs.
2:56 — The Rays are unable to come back. Orioles 9, Devil Rays 6. Oh, well, it’s still possible for them to finish 161-1.

That Japanese ad at Safeco Field…

Opening Day: Hour 4

1:00 — Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers (FSN Prime Ticket)
1:00 — Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals (FSN Detroit)
1:00 — It’s final in New York: Mets 3, Nationals 2. That DirecTV logo is still there. And that means it’s time to, yes, activate the blackout on ESPN. I’m being forced to watch the Dodgers on FSN Prime Ticket…
1:01 — …so let’s see if we can get this straight. First there was a local cable movie network called Z Channel. Eventually, they added Dodgers games and became Z Plus. Then they got rid of the movies and became Prime Ticket. I’ve got a Los Angeles TV Guide from 1995 that calls it “Prime Sports,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean that was their actual name. Then they became part of the Fox Sports family and became Fox Sports West. Then Fox added a second channel, which they called Fox Sports West 2, and moved the Dodgers to the second channel so they could get both carried by cable operators. Then Fox thought people might not know they were a network, so they became Fox Sports Net West and Fox Sports Net West 2. Then Fox got tired of always saying “Fox Sports Net,” so they became FSN West and FSN West 2. And as of today, FSN West is still FSN West, but FSN West 2 has become, yes, FSN Prime Ticket. Fox Sports’ web site acknowledges this in that they don’t show any listings for today for FSN West 2, but they don’t seem to offer listings for FSN Prime Ticket.
1:08 — While I was typing up that long explanation that probably put everyone but me to sleep, the Devil Rays went up 4-2 in the top of the third. I like them again.
1:13 — FSN Prime Ticket’s audio level is about as low as MASN’s, which is making it hard to hear Vin Scully as he talks about the umpires getting a flat tire on the way to the game. But you don’t have to hear Vin Scully to see the new pastel color scheme at Dodger Stadium — it’s 1962 all over again!
1:16 — Also, for some reason, although they’ve successfully got the FSN Prime Ticket logo at the top of the screen in some of the camera shots, they don’t have the score strip at the top of the screen. It’s 1962 all over again!
1:18 — The Milwaukee Braves — I mean, the Atlanta Braves; I somehow got the impression that it was 1962 — have a 4-0 lead in the top of the first.
1:20 — While I was trying to figure out the FSN Prime Ticket situation, the Cubs went up 11-5 in Cincinnati, and they still have the bases loaded with no outs in the top of the sixth. Clearly, part of a plan to outdo their crosstown rivals and the 10 runs in their opener last night.
1:25 — Alas, a check of my e-mail informs me that friend of and Cardinals fan Rachel (she was one of the attendees at this Angels-Devil Rays game last year) will soon be moving out of Los Angeles and back to her home state of Illinois.
1:30 — FSN Prime Ticket got their score strip working. There is no need to panic. What their logo actually says is “Prime FSN Ticket,” I notice, so perhaps that’s what I’ll call them from now on.
1:31 — As always, every time Vin Scully finishes a sentence, I expect someone else to start talking, but no one ever does. It is quite a refreshing change from every other baseball game, particularly those featuring Tim McCarver.
1:33 — Back on February 22, Vin Scully signed a contract extension that will keep him as the Dodgers broadcaster through the 2008 season, when he claims he’ll retire. At the press conference to announce this, he said he liked it better when the Dodgers had the names on the back of their uniforms. Team chairman Frank McCourt immediately vowed that the names would be back in 2007. There must be some bizarre reason why he couldn’t bring the names back for 2006 — probably part of the same agreement that required that “used with permission” disclaimer I remarked upon back at 10:18 A.M.
1:35 — Wait a minute, it’s pronounced “Nessen” and not “N-E-S-N”? Yikes.
1:43 — Luis Matos and Melvin Mora hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the fifth, and the Orioles now lead 5-4. There’s the Devil Rays we know and love!
1:48 — The top of the third in the Dodgers game begins with a look at the new new seats in Dodger Stadium, which are literal box seats, complete with a little table.
1:50 — Long line for Dodger Dogs at the concession stand. Mmm, a Dodger Dog would be even tastier than those potato chips and onion dip I had an hour and a half ago. But I have no hot dogs, just ground beef for tacos.
1:52 — Now it’s looking sunny in Milwaukee, except for the Pirates, who are down 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth. I assume the Miller Park roof is closed, but the sunlight is coming through the glass. That’s something Tropicana Field could use — windows! But it’d probably be impossible to cut into the walls to add them now.
1:54 — An ad for “Scary Movie 4,” directed by David Zucker — and starring Craig Bierko, who I’ve closed-captioned on “Days of Our Lives.” Um, I think I’ll wait until it’s on HBO or perhaps Showtime, where I’m sure it will be shown while DirecTV is having a free weekend (that’s how I saw “Scary Movie 3” recently).
1:58 — Clearly, baseball hasn’t been engrossing me enough if I’m thinking about Craig Bierko.

The new Prime FSN Ticket logo (seen at upper right) scares kids in the stands at Dodger Stadium…

Opening Day: Hour 3

12:00 — Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Baltimore Orioles (FSN Florida)
12:00 — Hooray, they’re using FSN Florida’s coverage of the Devil Rays-Orioles game, so I get to see their opening reel of highlights from last season. 45 seconds later, it’s time for the game!
12:01 — And another

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technical flub: a graphic at the bottom of the screen says “Marlins Baseball.” I’m sure under normal circumstances, FSN would wish it were something other than the Devil Rays, but this season, the Rays may well have a better year than the Marlins.
12:02 — Full disclosure: I’m wearing my Devil Rays Rocco Baldelli T-shirt.
12:05 — As seen during the “Devil Rays baseball is brought to you by…” billboards, Quikrete has a special Opening Day logo that someone took about 5 seconds to draw. So was Opening Day built by The Home Depot out of Quikrete?
12:06 — It’s Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon and his retro hipster glasses, which are no doubt reminding many Devil Rays fans of the glasses their kids or grandkids wore back in the 1950s.
12:09 — The Devil Rays’ first batter of the year, Julio Lugo, hits a double off the Camden Yards right-field scoreboard. Cubs vs. Devil Rays in the World Series!
12:11 — Scott Hatteberg hits a 3-run homer for the Reds, so now the Cubs are only leading 5-4. Well, maybe it’ll be Devil Rays-Cardinals or something.
12:13 — Julio Lugo scores on a sacrifice fly, and the announcer claims that it’ll give “fans who are watching on the big board at Tropicana Field something to cheer about.” Given the usual attendance at Tropicana Field when the Devil Rays are actually playing there, I’m picturing a large, cavernous space with plenty of elbow room. But maybe I’m underestimating the level of Rays excitement in the Tampa Bay area, given the new ownership and team manager.
12:17 — Wait a minute — this whole time while the DirecTV logo has been on Channel 744 instead of SportsNet New York’s coverage of the Mets-Nationals game, Channel 745 has been showing the MASN coverage of the Mets-Nationals game.
12:19 — Boo to Southwest Airlines for referring to “Tampa Bay” when they really mean “Tampa,” unless they’ve outfitted their 737s as seaplanes and I’m unaware of it. (In the past, other airlines have used a similar trick to disguise the fact that they fly into St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport — but Southwest, being an airline you’ve heard of, actually does serve Tampa International Airport.)
12:25 — MASN’s audio level is very low. The classic rock accompanying the DirecTV logo is much easier to hear. Incidentally, MASN is not to be confused with “M*A*S*H,” or the NASL.
12:33 — MASN presents the “Chevy Drive of the Game,” in the bottom of the seventh. Someday there are going to be so many sponsorships sold during baseball telecasts that it’ll be something like this: “And the first pitch of the game — in there for a strike! And now the Hostess Twinkies Pitch of the Game…”
12:34 — Jonny Gomes leads off the top of the second for the Devil Rays with a home run. I’m liking these 2006 Devil Rays so far.
12:40 — While I haven’t been paying attention, the Red Sox have gone up 5-0 on the Rangers.
12:45 — Well, now Joe Maddon is wearing non-retro sunglasses, although it’s kind of a hazy day in Baltimore. I know this because he came out to briefly suggest to the umpire that he might want to watch for fan interference if there are any future ground balls that carom down the left-field line. He should be talking to the Camden Yards security people — there’s a very good replay showing a fair ball encountering 1) a hat, and 2) a beer.
12:51 — The Orioles have scored two runs in the bottom of the second. These 2006 Devil Rays are impressing me a little less right now.
12:55 — And now it’s 5-5 in Cincinnati. So maybe the Cubs and Devil Rays won’t make the World Series after all.
12:56 — We’re in the top of the ninth in New York with the Mets leading 3-2. I do like the Nationals’ away uniforms.
12:59 — Nobody’s IMing me, perhaps because I’m the only one watching baseball on a day when normal people are at their jobs.

Devil Rays announcers going undercover…

The special Quikrete Opening Day logo…

Opening Day: Hour 2

11:00 — Boston Red Sox at Texas Rangers (ESPN 2 and NESN)
11:00 — Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati Reds (WGN and FSN Ohio)
11:00 — Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers (FSN North)
11:01 — I know FSN is overtly trying to be depressingly homogenous, but certainly some FSN networks are more likely than others to show Piggly Wiggly commercials.
11:06 — No matter what your opinion of George W. Bush, I think we can all agree that he’s good at throwing out first pitches, even if he’s high and outside on this one.
11:08 — Johnny Damon’s replacement is leading off for the Red Sox. Mmm, Coco Crisp — a delicious breakfast treat.
11:10 — The Pirates have big, triangular, and kinda ugly commemorative All-Star Game patches on their uniforms. But how many of them will actually be playing in the All-Star Game?
11:14 — FSN North is excited about their first chance to show an instant replay that’s courtesy of the new robotic camera attached to the backstop at Miller Park.
11:16 — It’s too early in the day for me to have to deal with talking mattresses on NESN.
11:17 — The Cubs are already up 1-0 with no outs in the top of the first.
11:20 — It’s a beautiful, sunny day in Arlington, Texas, much different than the cloudy weather for the other three games that are going on right now.
11:28 — Now the Cubs are up 5-0 after a 3-run homer by Matt Murton. They’re going all the way to the World Series championship!
11:34 — Same as last year, the Superstation WGN picture makes Great American Ball Park look hazy and blurry. The FSN Ohio picture is crisp and clear, like bottled water or something.
11:38 — The Reds have the bases loaded with no outs in the bottom of the first. The Cubs’ 5-run lead may not hold up!
11:39 — In the stands, Bush is looking at a kid’s drawings of him throwing out the first pitch. At least, I think they’re a kid’s drawings and not drawings he did.
11:41 — Reds announcer George Grande sounds like he has a Chicago accent — I notice it when he says “Gaat him — first strikeout for Zaambraano” — but nothing in his background indicates that he’s spent any time in Chicago, just New England and a little time in Los Angeles.
11:46 — Hey, guess what’s on the SportsNet New York channel — the DirecTV logo!
11:47 — The aforementioned Matt Murton makes a leaping catch against the outfield wall to get Carlos Zambrano out of his bases-loaded jam, so the Reds only manage to score 1 against the soon-to-be champion Cubs.
11:53 — It’s raining here in beautiful Sherman Oaks Adjacent, which could mean problems for the Dodgers home opener, scheduled to start in just over an hour less than 10 miles away.
11:59 — I’m a little hungry — good thing I prepared some onion dip last night, so it’s chilling in the fridge right now, ready for potato chips to be dipped into it.

Shop the Pig…

Opening Day: Hour 1

And away we go (times listed are Pacific Daylight Time)…

10:00 — Washington Nationals at New York Mets (ESPN and, in theory, SportsNet New York)
10:00 — DirecTV has the channel space set aside for the Mets’ new network, SportsNet New York, but I don’t think they’ve actually signed the contract yet. They have the game listed to be on Channel 744 — a listing that wasn’t there yesterday — but that channel is still showing the DirecTV logo and playing classic rock. So instead I have to listen to Chris Berman on ESPN.
10:04 — Opening Day is “built by The Home Depot.” I guess we can’t have TV shows sponsored or brought to us anymore, and ESPN has been in the vanguard of that; “Monday Night Countdown,” for example, is “delivered by UPS.”
10:05 — Could be worse. Opening Day could be “erected by Levitra.”
10:09 — First technical flub of the new season: ESPN forgets to turn up the volume when they start running a clip of Mets manager Willie Randolph talking about something or other.
10:12 — Tom Glavine? Isn’t he about 120 years old?
10:12 — Rookie Brandon Watson of the Nationals wears number 00. I like him already.
10:13 — Watson flies out to center, so perhaps 000 would be a better uniform number at this point.
10:17 — Middle of the first inning, and still just the DirecTV logo on the SportsNet New York channel.
10:18 — ESPN’s promo for games coming later today has a disclaimer at the bottom of the screen that I don’t think I’ve ever seen on a promo: “Major League Baseball trademarks used with permission.” You’d think it would be implied that if you’re paying for the rights to broadcast the games, you can use video of baseball players in uniform without such a disclaimer. No wonder people hate lawyers!
10:20 — The bottom-of-the-screen ticker reminds us that Dmitri Young of the Tigers hit three home runs back on Opening Day 2005. I remember (but he’s still no Tuffy).
10:24 — End of the first inning, and still just the DirecTV logo on the SportsNet New York channel. Probably both sides of the negotiations were thinking the pressure would really be on once the game started.
10:25 — Must be summer, if it’s time for a commercial for weed killer!
10:31 — Paul LoDuca fails to throw out a runner when he drops the ball and his glove. He’s no Mike Piazza!
10:32 — Chris Berman identifes a certain Nationals player as “Royce-a-Roni Clayton, the San Francisco treat.” Groan.
10:37 — Middle of the second inning. The good news is that, currently accompanying the DirecTV logo on the SportsNet New York channel, the music is “Touch Me,” my favorite Doors song. Whatever commercials are running on ESPN, they can’t possibly be better than “Touch Me.”
10:40 — Stronger than dirt.
10:42 — Livan Hernandez is throwing pitches similar to Bugs Bunny’s perplexing slow pitches — Chris Berman contends “I drive faster than that pitch,” and thinks the Juggs gun can’t go that low — but since we don’t have cartoon physics in the real world, the Mets are only able to swing once at each pitch.
10:44 — End of the second inning. I wonder how many disgruntled DirecTV subscribers/Mets fans are burning up the phone lines to complain about the SportsNet New York situation, since I assume ESPN is blacked out in the New York area.
10:48 — There are two mentions of baseball on today’s L.A. Times comics page: “Heathcliff” (“He’s been chosen to eat the ceremonial first hot dog”) and “Sally Forth” (“Wanna play catch out back?” “Sorry, Dad. I’m gonna go listen to music with Faye.”) But “In the Bleachers” is about basketball, and “Marmaduke” mentions water polo, of all things. Obviously, I’m not devoting my complete attention to the baseball game on TV right this second.
10:52 — Middle of the third inning. I have now figured out that what’s accompanying the DirecTV logo is XM radio’s “Top Tracks” channel, which is currently playing Yes’s “And You and I: Cord of Life/Eclipse/The Preacher the Teacher/Apocalypse” — yes, that’s apparently an example of a song that XM considers eligible to be on “Top Tracks,” as opposed to their other classic rock channel, “Deep Tracks.” Who needs Howard Stern?
10:58 — Tom Glavine gets a hit! Pretty good for a 130-year-old. Actually, Livan Hernandez got a hit, too, probably while I was reading the newspaper.

Imagine some classic rock music playing, and you’ll get the general idea of what SportsNet New York was like today…

Notes from Opening Day morning

Wow, I stayed up longer than the Los Angeles Times sports department last night! They went to press with “the White Sox quickly took control and built a 10-4 lead after 7 1/2 innings,” but I was awake until I caught up with the TiVo recording in the middle of the 8th inning. Speaking of the L.A. Times, here’s noted class act Vin Scully, quoted today talking about possibly being in the broadcast booth when Barry Bonds passes Babe Ruth’s and/or Hank Aaron’s home run records: “I would just as soon it not happen against the Dodgers….If I had my druthers, I would rather have that awkward moment happen to somebody else.”

Thanks to advanced technology that is currently available to me, I’m now thinking I’m going to attempt to make a post here once an hour today, with the first one around two hours from now, at 11:00 A.M. Pacific/1:00 P.M. Central. I will also attempt to be online on AIM/iChat as trainmanplus all day while I’m watching TV, so feel free to chat. (If I don’t say hi back, it’ll be because the advanced technology has turned out to be too overwhelming.)

Hey, White Sox, you could have moved to a dome in 1989, but no…

As I write this, the Sox and Indians are still in a rain delay. Tropicana Field’s not looking so bad right now, is it?

It wouldn’t be Opening Night without a picture of Chessie near my TV. I now have a different TV configuration than I did last year — my cheap Ikea entertainment cabinet got mostly destroyed when I moved last May — so it’s hard for Chessie to get next to the TV. So you’ll have to settle for her under the TV, hiding from Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, as well she should.