After a series sweep of the Orioles, ask the Rays are again alone in first place in the AL East. Their .600 winning percentage (30-20) is the best in the American League, and is tied with the Diamondbacks for best in baseball.
Jason called at about 3:30 to see if I wanted to see the Dodgers play the Diamondbacks. I know from experience that last-minute invitations to baseball games should be accepted if at all possible. Plus, they were giving out Tommy Lasorda bobbleheads to commemorate his 80th birthday (which is actually on September 22nd, but the Dodgers are going to be out of town).
However, I didn’t have a camera with me, so you’re going to have to deal with a lack of photos. Also, since we weren’t in the all-you-can-eat section, I had to deal with a lack of free hot dogs.
4:00 — Baltimore Orioles at Minnesota Twins (ESPN and WFTC)
Pittsburgh Pirates at Houston Astros (FSN Houston)
4:01 — Extra Innings is carrying an over-the-air game broadcast, something I haven’t seen before on DirecTV. I guess the ability to do this is part of their new contract. It’s from “My 29” — well, not really mine, because it’s WFTC in Minneapolis/St. Paul and KFTC in Bemidji.
4:03 — They do a nice little tribute to Herb Carneal at the beginning of the Twins broadcast. I have to admit that he’s someone who was never really on my radar.
4:05 — I’m getting a little tired of “Magic Carpet Ride,” which is the music being played during a Chevrolet ad that’s been running a lot today. But I guess the members of Steppenwolf aren’t getting tired of cashing their royalty checks.
4:10 — The Orioles haven’t opened a season on the road since 1977.
4:12 — The Rockies are down 8-6 going into the bottom of the 9th, but anything can happen. 3 out of 4 Opening Day games previously played at Coors Field ended with a walk-off home run.
4:20 — An ad read by the Rockies announcers goes, in its entirety, “Hey, if you have a crack in your windshield, call Elite Glass, number one for more than one reason.” This makes the broadcast interactive, since it allows the audience to speculate endlessly about what those reasons might be.
4:24 — True, anything could have happened, from a walk-off home run to a “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”-type magical transformation causing the person in the mascot costume to turn into an actual small purple triceratops. But what actually happens in the bottom of the 9th is a double followed by three straight strikeouts. The new red uniforms worked for the D-Backs!
4:36 — Forget C.C. Sabathia. Kent Hrbek is looking a little large now that he’s retired.
4:37 — However, while Kent Hrbek is being interviewed, the Twins hit back-to-back home runs. So whatever he’s doing, it’s working.
4:40 — Very sad that the Menards guy isn’t in Menards commercials anymore. At least they haven’t turned him into a computer-animated character who appears at the end of the commercial as they’ve done with the Empire Carpet guy.
4:52 — Shannon Stewart of the A’s certainly looks different than he did when he was Playboy’s Playmate of the Month for June 2000 (relatively work-safe link to Wikipedia).
2:00 — Unfortunately, there are only two games going on right now. Or maybe it’s fortunate, so I can follow each one better.
2:06 — So if there exists a baseball-themed ad for Esurance.com, why did I see their basketball-themed ad several times already today during other baseball games?
2:15 — DirecTV is offering a fight on Saturday night on pay-per-view for $24.95, “or,” as the announcer says, “as part of your regular Showtime subscription.” Showtime is $12 per month, with only a one-month-at-a-time commitment.
2:19 — The Aflac trivia question on NESN is “Other than Schilling, Martinez, and Clemens, who was the last Sox pitcher with back-to-back Opening Day starts?” If you have to qualify it that much, perhaps you should find another way to ask the question, or perhaps you should ask a different question.
2:20 — You can tell it’s a little windy in Kansas City when the fountain water gets blown into the shot from the centerfield cameras.
2:23 — Hey, it’s a pinball-themed Pepsi commercial, which makes me want to play pinball more than it makes me want to drink Pepsi.
2:26 — I happen to see on the ESPN ticker that the Tribune Company is going to be getting rid of the Cubs at the end of the season. So let me be the first to predict a World Series victory in 2008. Yes, for the 100th anniversary of the last one.
2:30 — The answer to that trivia question is Dennis Eckersley, who pitched on back-to-back Opening Days in 1982 and 1983 — actually, he was the Opening Day starter from 1979 through 1983.
2:34 — NESN’s score bar is bugging me because the number of outs isn’t right next to the inning count. As far as I’m concerned, the number of outs is very closely related to the inning count. Compare ESPN’s version, which is better.
You can also see the batter a lot better on ESPN, at the cost of the grass looking really, really bright.
2:49 — Eric Byrnes of the Diamondbacks makes a throw from right field with such force that he winds up doing a somersault. It’s very impressive.
2:54 — Apparently, the fountains at Kaufmann Stadium were “worked on” over the winter, so it’s no wonder they’re getting in the way of the camera shots.
2:59 — Southwest Airlines has new nonstop service from Denver to Tampa starting in May. Except they say “Tampa Bay” in the commercial, which would seem to indicate that they’re using a floatplane, given that Tampa Bay is a body of water. I think I complained about this last year, but this time I have a screenshot as evidence.
1:00 — Boston Red Sox at Kansas City Royals (ESPN and NESN)
Arizona Diamondbacks at Colorado Rockies (FSN Rocky Mountain)
1:01 — At last, a game is over: Marlins 9, Nationals 2.
1:05 — Mariano Rivera comes on for the Yankees. The Devil Rays were keeping it close for a while, but the Yankees now lead by 4.
1:11 — Hey, the Diamondbacks really did switch to red uniforms. If their fellow expansion team were to follow suit, though, they’d be accused of copying the Red Sox, their division mates.
1:14 — But they lost 9-5 to the Yankees, so maybe they should think about switching to red.
1:17 — Gary Sheffield is still swinging his bat wildly in an amusing manner as he waits for pitches.
1:18 — Didn’t help. He struck out.
1:22 — The Dodgers-Brewers game must have been a quick affair, since the postgame show is already airing.
1:29 — Ken Griffey Sr., in the FSN Ohio booth, claims he grounded his son a few times while they were playing together for the Mariners.
1:45 — I check my e-mail. Nothing much seems to be happening in the world except for Opening Day.
1:52 — It’s hard to come back from 9 runs down in the bottom of the 9th, and I’ll be surprised if the White Sox do it.
1:54 — There’s another Molina?!
1:58 — Turns out I’m not surprised, although the Sox did manage to score 2.
I got an e-mail from someone who was interested in this ticket stub
…because he’s attempting to collect ticket stubs from every 2001 Diamondbacks game. Unfortunately, I’m not willing to part with my stub at present, but I said I’d publicize his collection here. So if anyone out there has some 2001 D-Backs stubs (home or away, obviously) that they’re willing to part with, e-mail JonB99.
Credit for the Dodgers’ win over the Diamondbacks last night is
being given to the fact that Nomar Garciaparra got hit by three pitches (with Russell Martin getting hit once for good measure). Guess they shouldn’t have dodged!
Other comic-strip strategies to be adopted soon by the Dodgers include the “Cathy” strategy (annoy the other team by continually asking, “Do I look fat in this uniform?”), the “Sally Forth” strategy (psych out the other team by keeping a smug expression on your face no matter what), and the “Mallard Fillmore” strategy (“Oh, sorry, I was just waiting for the howls of protest from all the Hollywood liberals in the crowd here at Dodger Stadium”).
Jason and I drove from L.A. to the greater Phoenix area after work on Friday (roughly a 6-hour drive) and went to two sporting events on Saturday. The first one is of more relevance to baseballrelated.com…
Yes, we got to see the Diamondbacks come back from a 5-1 deficit to win 6-5, largely because Tony Clark hit a home run from each side of the plate. Bank One Ballpark is nowhere near as depressing as Tropicana Field, perhaps because it has some actual windows to let sunlight in during day games, and because the home team has actually been fairly successful during their tenure in Major League Baseball. Also, there were over 20,000 people there, as opposed to under 10,000.
At least in the lower deck, there was an usher at the top of each aisle with a “Please Wait Here” sign — great. However, when I was returning to my seat after a bathroom break (the “bottomless glass of soda” at Alice Cooperstown led to way too much Dr Pepper for my poor bladder to handle), the usher for our aisle dropped his sign and motioned
me forward the instant contact was made with the ball, as opposed to, you know, making sure I wouldn’t be interfering with anyone’s view of the actual play.
Many more pictures available on flickr.com. As for the other sporting event Jason and I saw — and the one we had a definite rooting interest in — the less said about it, the better…
…although I note that the Arizona Republic has a sports columnist named “Paola.”
The gloy of the hidden ball trick was shewn forth again last night at the Marlins/Diamondbacks game. The simplicity of it was, as usual, its beauty: Mike Lowell took the throw from the outfield, then simply didn’t toss the ball to noted homophobe Todd Jones. Seconds later, he applied the tag to an unsuspecting Luis Terrero.
Harold Reynolds on Baseball Tonight broke it down nicely, pointing out the way Jones noticed what Lowell was up to and, instead of heading to the mound, casually circled it. One thing I learned from this is that, if the pitcher steps on the mound, the ball is dead; his presence on the mound suggests that he intends to pitch, and therefore being on the mound while the ball is elsewhere is, apparently, a no-no.
National goddam treasure Retrosheet.org has a list of all the known successful hidden ball tricks here. Ozzie Guillen, whom I believe Bill James pointed out as one of the dumbest baserunners ever, was caught three times. Fool Ozzie once . . .