Sales pitch

I got a phone call today from the Angels selling season ticket plans. Despite the single-game tickets I’ve bought over the last decade-plus, this is the first time I’ve ever been called by a salesperson from any team — never the Angels previously, not the Dodgers, not any of the teams we’ve seen on the road trips.

My guess is that

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the Angels hired some extra people in the ticket department due to Pujols, and now to give them all something to do, they’re going further down the lead sheet than they would have in the past. Fortunately, I got the salesperson off the phone quickly when I said I’d just lost my job — no, wait, I guess that was unfortunate, right?

Anyway, Levi might be happy to know that Pujols didn’t come up during the brief conversation, so at least they’re not leading with him.

French and Saunders

I got an instant message from a co-worker at about 2:00 saying a friend of hers had an extra ticket for tonight’s Angels-A’s game. Yes, even though I had made the 80-plus-mile round-trip to Anaheim for games Tuesday and Wednesday, since my rule is to never turn down a last-minute baseball invitation (especially when the ticket is free), I made the trip again.

One storyline in this game was that it was Dallas Braden’s first start after his perfect game last Sunday. He needed to retire the first three batters to break Catfish Hunter’s A’s record of 29 consecutive batters retired — and Braden retired only the first two. The game did become a pitchers’ duel, with Braden battling Joe Saunders, and with the difference being the Angels’ big 6th inning.

Both pitchers went the distance, just as in the Angels-Royals game Levi, Jason, and I saw last May in which Zack Greinke went up against Joe Saunders. Same result: a complete-game win for Saunders.

Let me highlight this fact: Joe Saunders has pitched exactly two complete-game shutouts in his major-league career. I have seen both of them live.

Another day, another Rays win

Sorry, I have no overheard cute conversations during the Angels-Rays game yesterday afternoon. A 40-something couple in the row in front of me left in the middle of the 9th inning with their team down by only one run, which I can’t understand. Also, I spent $17.25 total for a smallish cheesesteak sandwich and a strawberry milkshake, which I can’t understand, either. (The cheesesteak was “Whiz wit,” no less. I prefer provolone wit.)

Regular Angels catcher Mike Napoli was in the game at DH, and the Rays scored

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two of their runs on passed balls by backup catcher Ryan Budde (described as “little-used” in Thursday’s L.A. Times). I

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couldn’t help but imagine a conversation in the Angels locker room after the game involving the phrase “I’m not your guy, Budde.”

Evan Longoria is quite a good hitter

Not much to say about last night’s Angels-Rays game, which I attended with hanger-on Jason.

Actually, I do have one tale to recount: in the third inning, the boy sitting next to us, who was maybe 3 or 4 years old, started telling his father he wanted to leave. Dad tried to bargain with him, saying that if they went home, he’d have to go to bed.

“Play and then go to bed?”

“No, straight to bed.”

The boy thought this over for a while, and then decided he did want to go to bed, and then get up the next morning and go to church. “That’s not until Sunday,” pointed out Dad.

There was some more hushed negotiation, to which I wasn’t paying close attention because the Rays were in the process of scoring two runs, and then they actually did end up leaving. Oh, well, it saved the kid from learning the sad truth, that the Angels sometimes do lose to the Joe Maddon-led Rays at home.

I’ll see this afternoon if that happens again. I’m leaving work early to go to the game, which has a somewhat-unusual 4:05 P.M. start time. That would be perfectly suited for a national Wednesday Night Baseball broadcast at 7:00 Eastern, but — I’m sure everyone is going to be surprised by this — ESPN is showing the Yankees vs. whatever patsy has been ordered by Bud Selig to take a dive. I believe it will be a team of 8-year-old Chinese gymnasts dressed as the Detroit Tigers.

Both L.A. teams in one day

Longtime fans of Baseball-Related Program Activities may remember that, on August 30, 2004, Levi and I went to two baseball games in two cities in one day: White Sox vs. Phillies in Chicago, and then Brewers vs. Pirates in Milwaukee.

We finally had a chance to recreate that experience. Levi came to Los Angeles for business, and both the Dodgers and Angels were at home, and on May 9, the Dodgers were scheduled for an afternoon game, with the Angels playing at night.

The only thing that put a damper on the experience was Manny Ramirez being suspended for 50 games just three days before we were going to see him.

What Levi, I, and hanger-on Jason did end up seeing was the Dodgers defeating the Giants 8-0, followed by the Angels over the Royals, 1-0. Yes,

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we saw no visiting team runs. We also saw complete games by three pitchers — Eric Stults of the Dodgers, Joe Saunders of the Angels, and Zack Greinke of the Royals. Greinke entered the game with a 0.40 ERA, which meant that his ERA went up after pitching a 1-run complete game, which is almost as rare of an event as the Dodgers and Angels both playing at home the same weekend. The Angels game finished in 2:07 — not quite as short as the 1:56 Indians-White Sox game on our road trip, but impressive nonetheless.

(Special shout-outs to Maggie, Kimiko, and Kate for being hangers-on for the first game.)

There have already been plenty of Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium pictures on this blog over the years, so all you get here is a picture of Greinke looking intense during his warmup:

The Angels made me sick!

Levi was in town on business, and so were the Angels, which meant it was time for the first official Baseball-Related Program Activities event since the 2004 road trip. The hangers-on were Jason, and Levi’s co-worker Carrie.

When Edison International dropped their sponsorship of the stadium in Anaheim, their logos on the end of the seats were covered over — but you can’t stop people from scratching paint off, I guess.

Jim Leyland showed up himself to exchange lineup cards, but Mike Scoscia sent a lackey…

It had been announced earlier in the day that Anaheim would be hosting the 2010 All-Star Game…

My new camera is noticeably faster to actually take the picture once you press the shutter button than my old one was — making it easier to get shots like this…

Early mound meeting, since Angels pitcher Joe Saunders had given up three runs in the first inning…

They kept having to reset this video display in order to fix this problem…

The Amtrak noise meter, because nothing is as noisy as a train…

The rally monkey was invoked a little

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late, and so the Angels lost 6-2…

The final line (not quite final at this point, but I was anticipating)…

And finally, a picture to replace the one that’s been at the top of this blog since 2004, which I was sick of looking at…

No, the Angels didn’t literally make me sick. There was a stomach bug involved. For you fans of Jim Ellwanger illnesses that coincide with baseball games, I also had a stomach bug right around the time I traveled to Chicago and attended Opening Day 1997 at Wrigley Field — I spent an entire day lying on the floor of the dorm room of Levi’s future wife.

Baseball-related notes from today’s L.A. Times

1. An article/column about and

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its founder David Smith.

2. Someone has finally answered the challenge thrown down by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Long Beach Armada of the Golden Baseball League are now officially known as The Long Beach Armada of Los Angeles of California of the United States of North America Including Barrow, Alaska.

You can’t beat a pizza at the old ballpark

Nice to see television slow-motion technology being used in this

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manner, during the broadcast of Monday’s Red Sox-Angels game.

The Wave, Redeemed?, or An Indian Invasion!

When MLB announced that they were going to reschedule the Angels’ snowed-out games at Cleveland this week to Miller Park in Milwaukee, my first thought was, “Oh, if I weren’t going on a trip in a couple of days, I’d love to go to that first game.” Then I thought, WWJD? What, after all, would Jim do?

So, in the spirit of Baseball Related Program Activities, Stacey and I called Bob, hopped in the car, and trekked up to Milwaukee after work. Following are some notes.

1. Apparently, wherever the Indians travel, Eastern Time folllows? The game started, not at 7:05 central time, as a weeknight game in the Central Time Zone would ordinarily do, but at 6:05. Now, granted, we wouldn’t have been able to get out of work in time to make a 6:05 start regardless, but had I paid more attention when I first read about the game, we wouldn’t have been surprised to see that the game was in the fifth inning when we arrived.

2. We had anticipated getting to sit a few rows from the field, near home plate, which is what Luke and I were able to do at the Marlins/Expos tilt that was relocated to Comiskey Park a few years ago. It drew 4,000.

Apparently, more than 19,000 other people had the same thought. The entire lower deck sold out, even the bleachers, which the Brewers had intended to keep closed. Concession lines were very, very long. I’ve been to Brewers games there in April against the Cardinals where the actual attendance was under 2,000, from what I could tell, with 60% of that Cardinals fans. This attendance, on 24 hours notice, was an impressive testament to the power of $10 tickets. As my coworker Mary said, “If there’s one thing Wisconsinites love, it’s cheap stuff.”

3. That attendance of 19,000+ was more than the paid attendance in Florida, Baltimore, Atlanta, Oakland, and Pittsburgh, let alone the actual attendance at about six other parks.

4. The majority of fans seemed to be rooting for Cleveland, though the only team they were unanimously against was the Cubs.

5. Though we didn’t get to see it, the Indians’ mascot, a hideous purple thing that is only excusable because a Chief Wahoo mascot would be an abomination, slid down the slide following a couple of Indians home runs. He didn’t, of course, slide into a vat of beer, because the Brewers, in order to demonstrate that they hate fun, didn’t move Bernie’s stein to the new ballpark. I guess he only drinks the hard stuff now.

6. Late in the game, the wave started. Though I’m no purist, I’m sure you realize that I hate the wave. There is, after all, a baseball game going on, and people standing up at random moments is not as much fun as watching a ballgame. But last night, after a few trips around the stadium, the wave suddenly slowed to a crawl, then slowed down even further until it was just creeping along. Eventually, as I laughed until my sides hurt, the wave looked like slow-motion video, with people quietly and ever-so-gently lifting out of their seats and bringing their arms up. After one trip around like that, getting slower all the time, the wave snapped into an instant double-time for a few rounds before petering out. It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. I’ve learned from a couple of sources today that the slo-mo wave is common at UW-Madison games.

7. When the Indians closer came in, the PA guy played “Wild Thing,” a nice reference to the last time the Indians played as the home team in Milwaukee, when the movie Major League was being shot at old County Stadium.

Opening Day 2007: Hour 10

7:00Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (FSN West)
7:01 — Someone runs onto the field at the Metrodome. I understand why they don’t show the action on TV, but the fact that they’re not showing it just makes me want to watch it even more (and because all the shots of the players standing around doing nothing are really, really boring).
7:09 — After a little trouble in the top of the 9th, the Twins win.
7:10 — With all of the Sammy Sosa excitement, I didn’t realize that Kenny Lofton was on the Rangers this year, and that he’s at 599 career steals.
7:12 — He gets number 600. There has been a noticeable amount of first-inning steals today — managers trying to set an aggressive tone for the season, obviously.
7:17 — Boneless Buffalo wings at Carl’s Jr.? I’m going to guess that the “wings” portion of the name is not quite accurate.
7:22 — Vladimir Guerrero’s batting helmet is already filthy. How does he do it?
7:31 — While the Angels announcers aren’t paying attention because they’re interviewing Troy Percival in the booth, Sammy Sosa strikes out. They don’t even get a closeup of him before he bats, just as he walks back to the Rangers dugout hanging his head.

7:35 — End of the Rangers’ half of the 2nd. I’ve been watching baseball for over nine and a half hours now. I think that’s all I can handle for today.