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 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.)

Opening Day 2007: Hour 2

11:00Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati Reds (ESPN 2, WGN, and FSN Ohio)
L.A. Dodgers at Milwaukee Brewers (FSN Prime Ticket)
Cleveland Indians at Chicago White Sox (Comcast SportsNet Chicago)
11:01 — Vin Scully! “And a pleasant good day to you wherever you may be.” Now it really is baseball season.
11:13 — Hey, a new family movie starring Ice Cube! Looks about as good as the Devil Rays.
11:15 — There sure are a lot of car commercials on YES. But I thought no one in New York drove.
11:19 — The Blue Jays caps have a “T” instead of a “J,” I notice. Too bad, because I liked the “J.” Maybe that’s still the home cap.
11:21 — Two female fans in the upper deck of Comerica Park are interviewed. One of them refers to it as “Tiger Stadium” and is quickly corrected by the interviewer.
11:24 — Since the Reds are wearing their new mustachioed Mr. Redlegs patches, perhaps they should all have grown mustaches to match.
11:25 — The Superstation WGN Scoreboard graphic has a problem, I say.

I contend that “Sponsored By:” should either be right-justified so it’s against the sponsor graphic, or that graphic should say “Sponsored by Scotts” (which would work fine even with the graphic there on the right).
11:29 — C.C. Sabathia looks a little large.
11:31 — The White Sox announcers start talking about how one should not judge a book by its cover when it comes to C.C. Sabathia. I guess I’ve been properly chastised! However, Darin Erstad promptly hit a 2-run homer off him to pull the White Sox to within 3 runs in the bottom of the 1st.
11:37 — Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley is in the stands at U.S. Cellular Field, but does not have to be interviewed by someone with a radio mike.
11:39 — The Yankees infield has been a bit error-prone today, which has helped the Devil Rays tie.
11:40 — First appearance of Joe Maddon, coming out for an explanation from the umpire about a player being called out on a bunt that hits him in fair territory.
11:42 — Rocco Baldelli hits an RBI single, and the Devil Rays are leading.
11:44 — Amtrak — the Washington Nationals of transportation!

11:49 — Hey, Dr. Cox from “Scrubs” is in that movie with Ice Cube. Well, John C. McGinley, I mean. I assume he’s not playing the same character he plays on “Scrubs.” Not to be confused with John C. Reilly, who is not to be confused with Andy Richter, who is not to be confused with John Candy.
11:54 — Comcast SportsNet’s “Scores on the Fours” should perhaps be renamed “Scores on Most But Not All of the Fours.”

Opening Day 2007: Hour 1

When Opening Day came around a year ago, I was unemployed with no immediate prospects. Within a month, I had been hired for a full-time temp job. And by the time the World Series rolled around, I was hired as an actual employee.

So it’s clear that baseball is a force for good. Let’s see what it can do for me this year.

10:00Tampa Bay Devil Rays at New York Yankees (ESPN and YES)
Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies (TBS)
Toronto Blue Jays at Detroit Tigers (FSN Detroit)
Florida Marlins at Washington Nationals (MASN)
Time for everyone’s pre-produced “Opening Day” intros.
10:05 — The Tigers manage to get under way first.
10:06 — The Blue Jays have the first at-bat of the season — a walk.
10:08 — And the Blue Jays steal against Ivan Rodriguez. This season is going great for the Tigers so far.
10:09 — The Marlins steal third! Looks like this is going to be the Year of the Stolen Base, as the L.A. Times sort of predicted today.
10:11 — Carl Crawford leads off for the Devil Rays with a hit against the Yankees.
10:12 — Crawford steals second!
10:15 — Rocco Baldelli, whose name is on the back of the Devil Rays T-shirt I’m wearing, hits to the warning track. The Yankees announcers say it could have been a home run if the humidity were lower today.
10:19 — I have to go get my laundry out of the dryer. Meanwhile, things fall apart for the Devil Rays.
10:30 — The Yankees score two runs, which the YES graphics briefly award to the Devil Rays.

10:40 — Hey, it’s Adrian Fenty, the mayor of Washington, D.C., in the stands at RFK Stadium, being interviewed with a radio mike that’s not quite working properly.
10:49 — The Devil Rays get their first run of 2007. First of many, I’m sure.
10:52 — Not particularly baseball-related, but I get an automated phone call from the L.A. Times telling me that the “TV Times” section is being discontinued after next week, but I’ll still be able to get TV listings online. They don’t know I have a TiVo.

Jim’s first major league game of 2005

Since I posted a couple of weeks ago, the Nationals had fallen a couple of games out of first place in the NL East, but the Dodgers were still atop the NL West.

There have been a few changes at Dodger Stadium since last season — other than three-fourths of the players on the field — and perhaps the most dramatic one is one I didn’t get a picture of: tickets are now being scanned at the gate instead of torn.

The blue seats up front are new…

This new LCD ribbon board goes all the way across the front of the loge (second) level, displaying all the latest in advertising, and probably some scores, if you can find them…

And there are smaller LCD displays next to the field for more advertising, replacing those old-fashioned “roller” displays…

And there was a new logo on the scoreboard…

The advertisement is for a special “Dodgers vs. Nationals inaugural game” T-shirt that was being sold for $30. Hey, they’ve got to pay for the new LCD displays somehow. What wasn’t new was the “ANA” designation for a team that everyone else is abbreviating “LAA”…

What I didn’t get a picture of, because there was nothing to see, is the fact that the Dodgers are saving 10 cents a letter by not putting players’ names on the backs of their uniforms. Also, I was distracted by the advertising on the new ribbon board. So I guess there was a game at some point, and here’s the final scoreboard…

Original comments…

thatbob: Look look look! As of today, 5/6/05, the White Sox have a .750 record! And the Yanks are tied with the Wuss Wusses for last place in their division! Incredible!

Schubert, Schumann, and Senators?

According to a Washington-based media news site, assuming the greater D.C. area really is getting the Expos, one radio station group owner is already looking forward to getting the broadcast rights…and putting the broadcasts on their classical station, which would henceforth use the slogan “Bach, Beethoven, and baseball.”

Elsewhere, someone has already suggested Washington Insiders as a team name. If it were up to me, though, I’d follow the Swing of the Quad Cities model and name the team The Fat Cats in Washington.

Original comments…

Jason: I’d name them the D.C. Follies. It fits so well.

Dan: Or do the trendy non-plural team name: The D.C. Cab.

Just in time

According to this story, officials from the Major League Baseball Players’ Union met with Montreal Expos player reps yesterday to inform them that there would be no baseball in Montreal next season. The team’s new home hasn’t been decided, but it appears that it will be either Washington, DC, or northern Virginia.

Since one of the main reasons Jim and I are taking this trip is to see the Montreal Expos, I’m glad we didn’t put the trip off a year.

But before the Expos leave us, one more thing needs to be said: Major League Baseball killed baseball in Montreal. Though baseball in Montreal was never a good bet to be as big as in baseball’s best cities, the Expos were popular in the past, and there’s no reason to think that, with a winning team and smart ownership, they couldn’t be popular in the future.

Take a look at this chart of Expos home attendance through the years. From 1979-1983, when the Expos were winning at a .543 clip (picking up their one division title along the way and finishing second (to the Pirates) twice), the Expos averaged nearly 28,000 fans per game. Attendance fell along with the Expos’ winning percentage throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, but it didn’t utterly collapse until the late 1990s, on the heels of two fire sales and the loss of the 1994 postseason, which cost the best Expos team in 15 years its chance at a World Series.

If this were any other business, some smart young rich guy would look at those figures and decide to take a crack on turning baseball around in Montreal. But in the Seligian fiefdom that is MLB, the 30 owners thought they were better off with wrangling another taxpayer-funded stadium, depressing salaries for a few years, and trying (and failing) an experiment in Puerto Rico. And as for the remaining Expos fans, well, tough merde.

So enjoy your new Senators or Swamp Rats or K Street Killers or Suburban Sluggers or whatever, [insert name of Expos new home city or region here], in the new stadium you built them. But you might want to get started drawing up the paperwork on those bonds for 2035, when Zombie Selig will reveal that the stadium is antiquated and will keep the team from ever succeeding, and if you don’t build a new one, he might just have to authorize a move to . . . . Montreal.

Seligian Shenanigans

The Washington Post just wrapped up a series on how DC or Northern Virginia is about to be the newest area to be screwed over by Major League Baseball. After the All-Star Game, Bud Selig is going to announce where he’s going to plunk down the team he stole from Montreal.

The series is in three parts. The first looks at the remarkably shady dealings that brought us Miller Park. I knew the dealings for that stadium reeked of corruption, but the Post‘s writers get all the details in order, and it’s even worse than I thought.

The second looks at the remarkably shady dealings that brought MLB ownership of the Expos.

And the third looks at the shady dealings still to come, as Selig and his cronies arrive to loot the local treasuries of the DC area to the tune of around $350-400 million.

These articles are some of the first mainstream articles I’ve seen to argue strenously against Selig and his stadium-building boom. They’re well-researched and well-written, and if they don’t make you mad about the tax money being funneled into the pockets of billionaires, then maybe you should go here. The other thing this article does is make me more impressed with Peter Magowan of the Giants and the Cardinals ownership group. Magowan built the first privately funded stadium since Dodger Stadium (Which, it’s important to remember, was built on land that was basically given to the O’Malleys after the low-income people living there were booted.); the Cardinals ownership is trying to do the same, getting some assistance, but not much.

The Post requires you to register, but I bet you all can figure out what to do.

Original comments…

Levi: This doesn’t belong here, but I liked it so much that I had to put it somewhere. From E.J. Dionne, “The plural of anecdote is not data.”

He’s using the statement as a clause to introduce a bunch of anecdotes that he’s using kind of like data, but it’s still a succinct, sharp way to pinpoint what’s wrong with reasoning from anecdotes.

Steve: Thanks alot, Levi. Just when I’ve really been enjoying this baseball season and the tight divisional races you go and dig this up. Grrrrr.

Well back at ya! How about that little league blooper that lost the game for the Cardinals last night? And my grandma can throw harder than Matt Morris.

Levi: Fortunately for my soul, I wasn’t able to see the game last night, and by the time the radio broadcast came in, all I heard was Mike Shannon saying, “Totals and highlights in a moment.”

I think that probably should have been “highlight,” since Suppan’s pitching seems to have been the only one.

But we’re back at ’em tonight. And how many times–apologies to Toby–can the Pirates beat you, really?

Jason: If any other business were run like Major League Baseball, it would be bankrupt and OUT of business.

Levi: Like will soon be the case with the NHL, which seems to be run kind of like MLB, but with worse hair.

Steve: “And how many times–apologies to Toby–can the Pirates beat you, really?”

Apparently at least three times…..

Levi: Thank god tomorrow’s an off day. This team sounds like it badly needs a day off.

And John Mabry might have had the worst day ever. He hit into two double plays, left ten men on, and managed to make six outs if you include the DP outs. Poor guy.