Take Me Out…

Those of you who know me know why I think this poster, now appearing on my living room wall, is totally awesome — it combines two of my interests.

It’s also a bit of a lie. There’s no regular “historic streetcar” service to AT&T Park right now; it’s only in the planning and occasional demonstration stages. The folks at Market Street Railway are a little anticipatory (and, actually, selling the poster to promote and raise funds to help the service along).

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.

Baseball brings people together

On our trip last year, two of the hangers-on for the game in Cleveland were Dan and Dianne. They’re getting married next Saturday, and Levi and I are going to be in attendance — in fact, Levi was apparently a last-minute addition to the wedding party.

The room we’re sharing at the Hilton Garden Inn in Twinsburg, Ohio, does have free high-speed Internet (probably wired), but since this isn’t a baseball-related trip, I wouldn’t expect there to be much blogging going on for a few days.

Actually, on Thursday evening, Levi and I might be doing some live blogging aboard Amtrak train 354, in the coach where they put passengers bound for Ann Arbor, especially if he brings that Bill James book along:

Levi: Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Me: Now what?

Levi: (Quotes a Bill James wisecrack about some player I vaguely remember, because I wasn’t paying as much attention to baseball in 1982 as Levi was)

Me: (Chuckles politely)

Now, since our first trip led directly to a marriage between two of the participants almost exactly a year later, whenever we do a second trip, I’m going to sharply curtail attendance to me, Levi (already happily married and therefore out of the equation), and whatever attractive single women I can convince to join us for all or part of the trip (“I swear, it’s just a baseball game.

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I have no ulterior motives!”).

Here’s a slightly less dangerous precedent

Amtrak’s “frequent flyer” program, Guest Rewards, occasionally sends “special offers” to a subset of its members. Hmm, I wonder why they would have picked me to receive this one: “Baseball City Bonus — Enjoy America’s favorite pastime and earn 100 bonus points when you follow your team to any of the following destinations: Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, St. Louis, Kansas City, Arlington, Denver, Milwaukee, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Miami, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Detroit.” Now, Arlington isn’t an Amtrak station (Dallas and Fort Worth are), and the Northeast Corridor stations are missing from this list, as is the Tampa Bay area (Amtrak train station in Tampa, connecting buses stop in St. Petersburg), but perhaps Amtrak doesn’t think the Tampa Bay area should count as having a baseball team. Toronto’s also missing, and it is served by Amtrak, but special rules probably apply because it’s in a foreign country. For that matter, Oakland isn’t listed, but “San Francisco” presumably covers any Amtrak stop in the other Bay Area, and Phoenix isn’t listed, but the Amtrak stop that’s ostensibly for Phoenix is really in Maricopa, Arizona, which is a long, long way away in the middle of the desert somewhere.

Now, it’s not like they’re checking to see if you’re actually following your team, so if I were really desperate to get those 100 bonus points, now that I live in beautiful Van Nuys, I’d book a trip from Van Nuys to Los Angeles ($9.50 each way for regular coach, $18.50 each way for Business Class). But maybe I’ll think about a trip to San Diego for a Sunday afternoon Padres game at some point in the next couple of months.

An affront to baseballrelated.com

The May 30 issue of Sports Illustrated had to be forwarded to my new address, so I only received it just today. So Steve Rushin’s column about keeping score at baseball games only just now came to my attention. This passage is of particular concern: “Those of us who keep score have joined Trekkies and train fanatics — known as ‘foamers’ in the railroad industry — in the pantheon of get-a-lifers.”

So let’s see: I know how to score baseball games and do it occasionally, Levi knows how to score baseball games and does it religiously, Levi has obviously seen “Star Trek” a few times since he often refers to me as James Tiberius Ellwanger for no good reason, and, of course, my enjoyment of trains has reached legendary status.

Original comments…

Levi: Aside from the personal slam, I have to take issue with this guy. At Wrigley Field, I regularly see people in my section keeping score. Some of them are the group of season ticket holders I’ve gotten to know over the past seven years, who are clearly dedicated fans, but I also see a lot of people with the scorecard and pencil they’ve bought on the way in, obviously not veteran scorers, but enjoying the game that way anyway.

Last week, I even had a stranger who showed up an inning late borrow my book for a minute fill in his card. I had to help him decipher my handwriting.

Brief note on today’s baseball action

Levi saw the Cardinals win in New York today. Hope he didn’t get spit on by any Mets fans, although if they hit his grungy old Cardinals cap, who could tell? Ha ha!

Still 4 hours and 55 minutes until the start of tonight’s Dodgers game, for which I will be in attendance.

Normal train service has resumed between New York and Newark.

It’s up to you, New York, New York

As far as I know, Levi is in New York right now. He tells me he’s going to the Mets-Cardinals game on Saturday (and I’m going to the Dodgers-Braves game here in L.A. on Saturday).

Now, he’s with his wife and some friends from the U.K. Their plans were to rent a car and drive from Chicago to New York (and then back) so the British folks could see the country, or at least what one can see from the Interstate between Chicago and New York. Since even Levi knows a car can be a liability in New York, I first suggested two one-way rentals, but those were ridiculously expensive. So my other suggestion was that Levi park the car in New Jersey near public transportation, and the only good place I could come up with where he could definitely park it overnight and it would be reasonably secure was the long-term parking lot at Newark International Airport.

I gave Levi careful directions for how to get from the airport to the apartment the group is renting near Columbus Circle, via NJ Transit commuter train and subway. They were supposed to arrive this afternoon sometime.

This evening, this happened, on the very train tracks Levi would have been traveling over between Newark and New York. Perhaps Levi has started smoking, and threw his cigarette out the window when he saw the conductor coming. At any rate, I certainly hope Levi was safely in New York by that point, since my careful directions did not account for the possibility of trains not running due to a fire!

Levi, on the off chance you’re reading this: if those tracks aren’t open yet by the time you’re leaving NYC, I think the best alternate way to get back to Newark Airport would be to take the downtown C train to World Trade Center, then take the PATH subway (separate fare) to Newark Penn Station, and then take the next NJ Transit train to Newark Airport.

Original comments…

Levi: The fire occurred about an hour after we crossed, right around the time I was praising Jim for giving us flawless directions that were easy to follow, and about four minutes before the crazy woman from whom we rented an apartment started hollering about how she wasn’t told there would be four people staying there.

Big Ben: For future reference, the terminus of the Gladstone Branch of the NJT Morris & Essex lines (Gladstone Station) has free parking. I’ve parked there for as many as five days with no trouble. It’s not necessarily secured, but it’s in a quiet New Jersey ‘burb that feels pretty safe. The Summit station on the same line has paid ($5/day) parking that is probably a little more secure.

levi’s help-mate: hey there jim,

levi probably already told you, but we passed over that bridge two hours before the fire. and he probably also told you that on the way home we stopped in philly to catch the cardinals again!

– stacey