Oh, no — oh, yes!

Guess I should say a few words about Matt Garza’s no-hitter last night, which I watched in its entirety on ESPN. Hopefully there won’t be any claims that the no-hitter wasn’t all that impressive because it came against the beset-by-injury Tigers. The play that really “saved” it was a running catch by right fielder Ben Zobrist in the third inning. On our trip, we saw him make a similar catch, when he was playing center

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field on July 2nd — Levi put “8!” on his scoresheet, so you can tell it was good. To our Mets-fan hangers-on, who have been waiting for a no-hitter since before they were born: sorry. But, hey, there are still two months left in this Year of the Pitcher.

All-Stars and more

You see, every time we do a baseball trip, something happens that hasn’t happened in a long time. In 2004, it was the Red Sox winning the World Series. In 2010, it’s the National League winning the All-Star Game (because it’s looking like it’s not going to be the Cubs winning the World Series, or even the NL pennant).

All my photos from the trip have been uploaded to Flickr, and they’re in this set.

I’m going to be at an event in the South Bay area of California this weekend, and decided to attend the Giants-Mets game Saturday evening. It’s Tim Lincecum bobblehead night! Sadly, San Jose Mercury News reporter (and friend of baseballrelated.com) Andrew Baggarly won’t be around — since he worked the All-Star Game, the newspaper is giving him the Mets series off.

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.

What are the odds? Let’s find out

During the Dodgers’ 12-1 loss yesterday to the Mets, the only interesting thing to happen to the home fans was that two of them in adjacent seats caught consecutive foul balls.

And I could have been there — someone at my office sent out an e-mail saying she had 10 free tickets available, first come first

serve. But it was a rare weekday day game, and I didn’t think my boss would appreciate me taking a 3-hour lunch. (I’m definitely glad I didn’t fake appendicitis for a 12-1 game. I probably wouldn’t have caught a foul ball, either.)

Trains and baseball, together again

From Newsday: Mr. Met reminds you to watch the gap (or “mind the gap,” as

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they say in Levi’s beloved England).

His giant head means it would be impossible for him to fall all the way down if he were caught between a train and the platform — but that could just make the injury more gruesome, and things might end with his legs on the tracks and the rest of him on the way to Hicksville.

Meeting the Mets

When I saw in hanger-on Dan’s photos of the Mets’ opening day that Shea Stadium’s replacement was already under construction, I decided I’d better hurry up and see a game there. Fortunately, a cousin had a wedding in the Philadelphia area on a Friday of a weekend when the Mets were in town, which made it relatively easy for me to get across New Jersey for a Sunday afternoon game. Better yet, hanger-on Maura and non-hanger-on Maggie were able to join me for the game, as you can see below (Maura left, me center, Maggie right)…

Shea Stadium as seen from the Willets Point-Shea Stadium elevated station platform. That’s the city parks department logo on the right. A boy behind me said, “The Mets are playing the Leaves today!”

Yes, the new Citi Field is further along than it was three months ago.

As it turned out after I’d taken the seat cushion all the way back to Philadelphia with me, it wouldn’t fit in the luggage I was carrying back to L.A. with me, so it now belongs to my cousin. (No, not the one who just got married, although that would have been a great wedding gift. Especially since he’s a Yankees fan.)

The view from our seats in the mezzanine level. Under cover, which was good, because it was raining off and on before the game, and then started raining again in the third inning.

The skyline atop the scoreboard, which either needs some light bulbs replaced, or they’ve got a nice effect going there.

Between innings, they showed my employer’s stock price on a scoreboard, and everybody laughed.

Ramon Castro hit a home run. Maura said she’s seen that apple-in-a-hat up close, and there’s a very thick layer of dust on it.

With the Mets ahead 5-0 in the bottom of the 5th, and the rain intensifying, it was time for the swarm of the guys in blue shirts.

The guys in blue shirts all worked in unison to roll out the tarp, and to avoid running over any straggling Nationals.

You’d think the Mets would have a blue tarp, but it’s white. Maybe the blue tarps are all (still) in the New Orleans area.

Maura, Maggie, and I walked around the stadium for a bit. They made a couple of announcements that the forecast was that the rain would continue for at least a couple more hours, but didn’t announce anything specific.

We eventually left, and found out via text message (from Dan at MLB.com) that the game had indeed been called. Mets 5, Nationals 0, in four and a half innings. It’s a complete game, so it counts, and I’ve now seen games at 18 of the 30 current MLB stadiums. Anyway, we ended up at a bar Maura knows in Manhattan. Actually, that’s redundant, because Maura knows every bar in Manhattan, or so it seems.

(P.S.: These Mr. Met exit signs are awesome.)

The greatest of all time

Oh, this is good. Not only has Rickey Henderson been hired as the new Mets hitting coach, but the guy at 100% Injury Rate has compiled his twenty-five favorite Rickey stories. #13 almost

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made me pass out. How long until all the Mets have .400 on-base percentages? Since we’re talking about Rickey, I figure it’s worth listing his career numbers; because of all the goofiness surrounding him, I think it’s easy to forget just how good he was. .279/.401/.419

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in 3081 games. 2190 walks. 1406 stolen bases. 2295 runs. As Bill James use to say, you could cut Rickey in half and you’d have two hall of famers. Oh, and one last thing for your Saturday: George Brett has discovered–and is raving about–baseball-reference.com. Congratulations to Sean Forman, the site’s founder and proprietor.


1) While the universe remains a strange and complicated place, one tiny corner of it settled down a bit last weekend, as Mets relief pitcher Lino Urdaneta retired the first batter he faced in his first appearance of the year–thus instantly lowering his ERA from infinity to 162.00. To that point, Urdaneta’s career had consisted of one appearance in 2004, for the Tigers, during which he’d faced six batters and allowed them all to reach base. After five hits and a walk, which resulted in six earned runs, Urdaneta was pulled from the game. His ERA remained mind-bending for the next two seasons as he battled elbow injuries and visa problems, but by the

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end of Sunday’s game, it had plummeted to a mere 81.00. Now it’s all the way to 63.00 and falling. 2) Baseball is best when played with between 16 and 20 players. But as any kid can tell you, it’s frequently difficult to find that many players. When Matt and I were kids, we played a version of baseball with Kenny and Jeff Busch that was modified for four players. It was a different game, with much more playing the outfield and much less baserunning, but it still resembled baseball. My nephew and I usually just play catch when we get together in good weather. But recently, wanting to give hitting a try, we decided to employ the services of my parents’ dog, Josie, as a roving fielder. It worked reasonably well, but we hadn’t played long before one of the reasons dogs aren’t part of major league baseball was brought home to me–and my shoes: Josie is very nice, but Snoopy she ain’t.

Play ball!

I became a baseball fan the summer I turned eleven. My mother was taking classes towards a degree in social work at a college about an hour’s drive from Carmi, and my brother and I would ride along with her a couple of nights a week to the campus. On the drive, we would tune in to the Cardinals, carried at that point on the clear-channel powerhouse of KMOX. The Cardinals were very good that summer, holding off a tough Mets team to win the division and then the pennant before a disappointing World Series performance. Jack Buck and Mike Shannon described it all, and made us fans.

Sometime in the next few years, as my baseball fandom turned into the sort of obsession that only preteen boys, it seems, are capable of, I discovered on an out-of-the-way bookshelf in our house a musty, digest-sized baseball magazine previewing the 1974 season. Opening it, I discovered on the first page a nearly inscrutable scrawl, one bearing no little resemblance to my own:

June 1974–Play Ball, Boy! Love, Col.

It was a gift, given at my birth and no doubt tucked away at the time and forgotten, from my great-grandfather, Grandpa Colonel, about whom I’ve written before. Living his whole life in rural Kansas, he spent a lifetime enjoying baseball–and the Cardinals–the same way I grew up enjoying them: on the radio, far from the ballpark. Jack Buck may be gone–as is Grandpa Colonel–but the radio is still my favorite way to experience the game if I can’t be there, and sound of baseball on the radio is still, for me, the heart of summer.

I never was much of a ballplayer, but I find myself thinking of Grandpa Colonel’s admonition every spring. Last Sunday, I spent the morning playing catch with my nephew at Montrose Beach, throwing until our arms ached. Tonight, Stacey and I open the house to friends–several of whom haven’t visited since October–for chili, brats, cornbread, and beer, all in honor of the return of spring. One of these days, we’ll have to get Jim here for the opener.

It’s the Cardinals and Mets. The last time we saw these two teams, they played one of the most exciting, stressful, and rewarding games I’ve ever seen. Tonight, like every spring, it starts all over again.

Play ball.

Bumper that ran before "Robot Chicken" last night


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New York City

Wasn’t this weekend supposed to be

the start of the big Subway Series?

Guess that’s not happening.

Unless there’s a subway between St. Louis and Detroit.

[adult swim]