The Sweeney story

Mike Sweeney: player for a small-market team, and victim of a conspiracy that’s kept him

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from being recognized.

Catch Royal-Mania!

Today’s edition of “Slylock Fox and Comics for Kids”:

It is possible to be “vacationing in Kansas” and take a quick side trip to Missouri to go to a Royals game. It’s not that far away, as we know.

Of course, The Comics Curmudgeon had the best possible, and most obvious, response to this strip: “Ha ha, it’s a trick question! There’s no such thing as ‘valuable’ Kansas City Royals memorabilia.” However, I would like to know whose dentures those are on the bottom of the display case.

What a difference 6 years makes

Some differences between May 2010 and May 2004:

  • The Boston Red Sox have won the World Series twice.
  • The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are now just the Tampa Bay Rays, and have won the American League pennant.
  • Kaufmann Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals, has been renovated.
  • The Minnesota Twins play in an outdoor stadium.
  • I have a job where Excel is installed on my computer, which means I don’t have to use graph paper. I can make actual spreadsheets, such as this one.
  • Through various travel-related machinations, I hold Premier Executive elite status with United Airlines, Executive status with National Car Rental, and Platinum status with Hyatt.
  • There are no Hyatt hotels in the state of Iowa. (Actually, this may have been true in 2004 as well.)
  • I like baseball even more.
  • Levi is at least twice as busy.

Does this list of differences have anything to do with anything? Mmmmmmaybe…

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:

Opening Day 2007: Hour 4

1:00Boston 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.
1:54There’s another Molina?!
1:58 — Turns out I’m not surprised, although the Sox did manage to score 2.

These people walk among you

When we left Bill James, he was at Royals Stadium for Game 1 of the 1985 World Series, complaining about having paid $30 for a ticket. But then he realizes, “No one has a divine right to attend the event, and if you’re not willing to pay a good price for the tickets, you shouldn’t be there.” However…

All season, whenever Susie and I had gone into games we had been extremely fortunate as to the people seated around us; we made it through almost the entire season without being in earshot of an obnoxious drunk. On this memorable occasion, the law of averages caught up with us. We were seated three rows behind the last human being in the Western hemisphere that I would ever want to marry into my family; she is to this day known in our house only as That Dreadful Woman. That Dreadful Woman combined the virtues of a coquettish Southern Belle, the kind that during a Tennessee Williams play you always want to reach onstage and strangle to speed up the plot, with those of your ordinary garden-variety obnoxious drunken fan. She had a voice that would remind you of a clarinet with a broken reed, set to the volume of an airhorn, and I suppose that she had been a cheerleader two or three years ago, for she was determined to lead the section in cheers. She was a Cardinals fan, which was not the problem; in fact, the ingrained hospitality with which Midwesterners receive guests is probably all that kept her alive as the game progressed. Whenever anything happened…no, that’s not right…whether anything happened or not she would leap to her feet almost with every pitch and, turning around and gesturing with her arms as if tossing an invisible baby into the air, implore the section to screech along with her and give her some sort of reassurance about how cute she was. After about a half-inning of this, every time she got up she would, naturally, be greeted with a chorus of people yelling encouraging things like “Sit Down,” “Shut Up,” “Watch the Game,” “Lady, Pleeeese” and “Will you get your ass out of the way?” However, being apparently none too swift even when sober, she could not take in that it was not anyone in particular who was yelling these things, but everyone in the entire area taking turns. Having focused on someone who was abusing her, she would fasten onto the luckless soul — several, I am sure, will never go back to a baseball game as long as they live — and begin to whimper accusingly about how she didn’t mean to do any wrong and she was just trying to enjoy the game and didn’t they want to enjoy the game and didn’t Royals fans like to have fun and what had she done except cheer for her team and couldn’t they be friends? Eventually she would shake hands with whoever it was; this was, after all, the only way to get her to stop whining in your face. Then she would grab her camera and put her arm around her new friend and have her husband (or boyfriend, or whoever the poor bastard was) take a picture of the event.

She had other uses for the camera — for example, she would try on a funny hat, hand off the camera to a stranger and have him take a picture of her. She would do this, mind you, with the inning in progress.

The rest of the fans in the right field bleachers were not exactly a prize aggregation, either. There was an ABC crowd camera near us, and scattered around were several dozen children and nitwits whose attention was entirely focused on it. Whenever this camera panned near us they would leap to their feet and hold up banners, requiring the people sitting behind them, which was all of us except the front row, to jump up and down constantly in an attempt to follow the game. There were several beach balls bouncing around, enough that it took the baseball fans in the area two or three innings to capture each one and neutralize it with a pocket knife. It was easily the worst Kansas City baseball crowd that I’ve seen.

Also seated around us were a number of die-hard, life-long Cardinal fans who had driven over from St. Louis (five hour drive) to see the game. By the fifth inning, That Dreadful Woman had most of them discussing whether they should continue to support the Cardinals or perhaps should switch to the

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Royals. Several people offered to buy the Dreadful Woman a beer if she would just go stand in line to buy it. She took one guy up on his offer, apparently not understanding the purpose of it — she wasn’t easy to insult, this girl — and as she was leaving a guy about ten rows behind us shouted, ‘Remember where your seat is — section 342.” Needless to say, Section 342 was in an entirely different part of the ballpark, but it didn’t work. We enjoyed the game for a half-inning until she returned.

The next night, Bill James goes back for Game 2…

As Susie and I were walking down the aisle toward our seats the man in front of us yelled gleefully “I don’t think she’s here!” We broke out laughing; we were looking for the same thing. We had the same seats for all four games in Kansas City, if there were to be four games in Kansas City, and the thought of spending three more games trying to get HER to shut up had considerably dampened our enthusiasm for the event. We never saw her again, but it was easy to spot the people who had been in the

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same seats the day before. They were distinguished by the wary looks that they cast around until the offending seat was occupied.

A note about our, um, colleagues…

So far, I’ve only found one other baseball trip similar to ours going on this year, and Andrew and Ben’s trip starts tonight in L.A. They’re doing 9 games in 6 cities in 11 days, including — and here’s where Levi starts drooling — all three Cardinals-Royals games in Kansas City from June 25-27. Also, their web site looks nicer than this one, and they even have an actual logo. So, Levi, if you’d rather go on their trip than the one we have planned, I guess I’ll understand.

Original comments…

Jason: They seem like a couple of Normal guys.

But on their web site, it looks like fog is rolling into Bank One Ballpark. Or maybe it’s smoke from all the peyote Arizona folks do.

thatbob: There site *looks* good, but is lacking in content. And, more importantly, places for me to comment. So far they are no threat to you for my readership/commentship.