It turns out that some things are not up to date in Kansas City after all.

Like the arrangements for getting cars out of the parking lot after baseball games. Those are still very much stuck in midcentury, shrugged-shoulders, “whaddaya gonna do?” mode. Which is why this recap of another relatively brisk–two-and-a-half hours–game is coming so late.

The game itself, early on, looked like it was going to replicate the last time Jim and I saw Zack Greinke pitch, when he lost to Joe Saunders in Anaheim 1-0 in one of the best-pitched ballgames I’ve ever seen. He and Jake Peavy held the offenses to one run apiece through five innings, making it look easy along the way. But then the Royals broke through for two in the fifth, then absolutely unloaded on the hapless Sox bullpen in the sixth: by the time the Sox recorded their first out of that inning, the Royals had scored four runs and sent two relievers to the showers.

All that time the Royals were scoring, however, Greinke was sitting. And sitting. And maybe playing a little Nintendo DS. Whatever he was doing, it wasn’t communing with the spirit of Saberhagen, because when he took the mound for the seventh, he promptly got knocked all over the yard. Hit after hit after hit. We’re talking Charlie Brown with the socks flying. He’d entered the inning with a six-run lead, and only a great catch against the wall by Jose Guillen (who had earlier been booed for letting a ball drop right in front of him) allowed Greinke to get out of the inning up by one. Enter Joakim Soria, the Mexicutioner, and all was well in Kauffman Kingdom.

Other notes on the day:

* Judging by the smell, Arthur Bryant’s barbecue is as good as advertised. Jim ate about forty pounds of burnt tips and drank a Red Creme soda, while I slathered fries with three varieties of barbecue sauce.

* The Negro Leagues Museum would have been worth the trip for the life-sized statues alone: they’re arrayed about a ballfield in the final room of the museum, and they do a great job of giving you, for a moment, the sense of what it might have been like to stand on a field with Satchel Paige, or Josh Gibson, or Martin Dihigo. The museum was full of interesting materials, from old uniforms to player bios and league information to fascinating old footage of Goose Tatum of the Indianapolis Clowns performing a goofy, Globetrotters-style routine on the field before a game.

* The Royals Hall of Fame, at Kauffman Stadium, was also impressive, much more so than I’d expected. We watched a brief video about the 1985 ALCS, but Jim

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made me leave before we got to the disaster (for Cardinals fans) of that World Series. The most unexpected and interesting part for me was seeing a brochure for the team’s short-lived Royals Baseball Academy experiment: the brochure looked like any ordinary junior-college brochure, only it said on the front something like, “Full college credit and thorough training in professional baseball skills.”

* It was ’80s Night at Kauffman Stadium, which meant . . . a little bit of ’80s trivia, a few relatively uninspired costumes, and some ’80s music. Between innings late in the game, the stadium’s 70-foot scoreboard played “Never Gonna Give You Up,” and Jim immediately pointed out the blown opportunity: what better chance to Rickroll a crowd than to have it vote for an ’80s music video to be played the next inning, and then . . .

* Jim was asked by strangers to take their picture for the second night in a row. Apparently he looks more trustworthy than I do.

* One of the symbols of Kauffman Stadium is the spiral ramp that leads to the upper deck, and as we neared the bottom on our way out of the park, we noticed that it continued below ground level, not, as I first assumed, to a hellmouth, but to storage and waste disposal and such. As we watched, a kid working for the Royals was walking briskly down the ramp a level below ground, keeping one eye on the oversized rolling trash bin that he’d set free to rumble its way excitedly down the ramp alongside him. It looked like easily the most fun he’d had all night.

To Des Moines tomorrow!

And we’re off! Sort of.

Baseball Related Program Activities for 2010 have begun!

And what better way to kick things off than with a 3-1 Cubs win over the Pirates at Wrigley Field that is best described as “crisp”? Both teams played solid defense, both teams pitched well (or, perhaps more likely, given these two teams, hit poorly), and in a mere 2:23 we were out of there and into the car . . . I mean, onto bicycles and L cars for the ten-minute trip back to my house.

Notes from the game:

* Stacey came along, thus taking the honorable position of our first official BRPA 2010 hanger-on.

* The game wasn’t the only thing that was crisp: a game-time temperature of 65 degrees combined with a constant breeze to keep the upper deck just cooler than cool, and convince me to pack some jeans for the trip. Maybe mittens, too: we are, after all, going to Minneapolis.

* Some fans two rows behind us, seeing Stacey taking our photo, correctly guessed that we were on a road trip. We didn’t really try to explain that while, yes, we were on a road trip, I have been sitting in that very seat for a dozen years. (Our caps may also have clued them in: I was, as usual, wearing my Cardinals cap, while Jim was wearing what must have been a Time Bandits cap–it said “TB” on the front, and I have a hard time believing that he was rooting for tuberculosis.)

* Alfonso Soriano apparently ate all his Home Run Crunch before the game, as he hit two absolute bombs.

* I’ll be surprised if anyone even comes close to taking the title of Best Shoes of BRPA 2010 from Lastings Milledge. I can’t believe that all his teammates haven’t followed his lead and started wearing yellow-trimmed cleats. Dude looks sharp.

* Jim didn’t vomit on the usher until after the fourth bag of cotton candy. Wait, no: he didn’t vomit on the usher at all, because he refused my offer to buy all his meals on the entire trip if he would eat only cotton candy at the ballpark every night.

And now to bed–tomorrow at this time, we’ll be in Kansas City!

Ticket talk

After paying a high price for Twins-Rays tickets on StubHub, I decided I should check on ticket availability for the other games, just in case. I was actually most worried about Iowa Cubs tickets, since the downtown Des Moines hotels I tried were all sold out for July 1st (that’s why we have reservations at a Hampton Inn in Ankeny, which is north of town).

So I dutifully went to the Iowa Cubs website and started the ticket-buying process. I selected two Field Box seats, which are sections AA through B — then the Club Box seats, which are $2 more, in the middle — and then X through ZZ.

The system gave me Section X, Row 1, Seats 1 and 2.

I am no longer worried about Iowa Cubs tickets.

More road trip “competition”

Just happened to run across this photo set

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on Flickr: a 2007 baseball road trip that was 10 games in 8 cities in 12 days. Obviously, it wasn’t planned on graph paper by me. I haven’t given the photos my full attention, but it looks like a good trip. I need to take more photos on next week’s trip than I did in 2004 (which will be easier thanks to advances in technology over the past 6 years).

Saturday night’s alright for . . . watching baseball at home?

While I was suffering through the Cubs’ 12-0 drubbing at the hands of the Angels today, I coined a new term: in telling my seatmate, Michelle, how much I appreciate the MLB Network’s Saturday night games, I realized that it really should be called “The Lame of the Week.”

Because it’s true: for years, Stacey and I, boring old married people, sitting at home on Saturday nights, have wished for more baseball to watch. And the MLB Network, in only one of its many gifts to dedicated fans, has come through: now those of us lame enough to prefer watching baseball on Saturday night to, say, going to Excalibur, have that option.

And tonight we used it to watch Adam Wainwright dominate the A’s. ‘Twas a good night. Thanks, Lame of the Week.

7 days to go

It’s Saturday morning; a week from now, I’ll be on a plane headed for Chicago to begin my portion of the trip, although the baseball-related program activities then don’t begin for another few days after that.

We’ve got the Twins tickets via StubHub, and I think showing up at the box office will be sufficient for the rest of the games. Actually, I might think about taking a trip to the T-Bones box office when we first get into Kansas City, five days in advance of that game: it being a 4th of July game, I’m worried about the entire population of KCK deciding to go to the game because of the fireworks afterward. They love their institutional firework displays in the Midwest!

Another change from 2004 to 2010. Remember this?

In 2010, I have a GPS. Therefore, it’s not necessary for me to acquire, and bring, maps and travel guides from AAA.

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This would have completely saved the planet if not for the BP disaster. (Speaking of which, my inclination is not to boycott BP on the trip — such a thing hurts independent station owners a lot more than it hurts BP — but not to go out of my way to stop at one. In other words, to treat BP the same as I’m treating every other gas station brand.)

Lady Gaga meets the Mets

Lady Gaga at Citi Field Thursday:

I appreciate the glimpse of the studded black bra from the “Telephone” video, but the rest of the ensemble doesn’t seem particularly outrageous. Plaid shirt, leather jacket, headband, sunglasses? That’s what half the crowd wears at Dodger night games. Where’s the hat shaped like Shea Stadium? Where’s the nose ring with a Mr. Met bobblehead dangling from it?

Actually, I haven’t seen any pictures showing her lower half, so I’ll imagine Ms. Gaga was wearing a skirt made of mini-baseball bats and a pair of cleats with 8-inch metal spikes.