This better be the best game ever

For our 2004 trip, we had the itinerary set early enough that I happened to log on to the Red Sox website shortly after single-game tickets had gone on sale and was able to buy bleacher tickets for what quickly became a sold-out game.

This year, that wasn’t the case: tickets for the Twins-Rays game on July 2nd are officially sold out, and at this point, the cheapest group of 4 seats available on Stubhub is being offered for exactly $50.34 each, for tickets with a face value of $15 (there are also sets of standing room tickets available for a mere $45 each, but I’m old and cranky and like to be able to sit during sporting events). I know it’s a new stadium, and the Twins and Rays are both pretty good, but come on. I can only guess that the big attraction is the post-game fireworks display, because after all those years of the Twins playing in the Metrodome, there is a lot of pent-up demand among Minnesotans to watch a major league baseball game immediately followed by fireworks.

I guess I’m going to hold off for a while and see if sellers decide to drop their prices any — unless anyone else has better ideas, or wants to reveal that they have an “in.”

(By the way, I hope you like fireworks, Levi. They’re scheduled for four of the five games on the itinerary. That’s what happens over Fourth of July weekend.)

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…

Opening Day follow-up

I have been informed that Twins games that are broadcast on WFTC in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area also appear on FSN North in the rest of its service area, so that’s why DirecTV was able to present the “My 29” coverage of Opening Day. So their Extra Innings package still only includes games that appear on channels that they have the rights to

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distribute nationally, which is why I couldn’t watch the Devil Rays’ home opener tonight on Extra Innings — it’s against the Blue Jays, and the only place in which it’s airing in the United States is on Channel 66 in Tampa, the local Ion affiliate. Yes, the network that used to be Pax. It should not surprise anyone that the Devil Rays’ local over-the-air TV outlet is not quite of the quality level of, say, WGN.

And I wish I’d known on Monday of the existence of this channel!

I should have known there was such a channel, because there’s a similar channel available for NFL Sunday Ticket (it’s part of an extra-cost option to which I don’t subscribe, so I only see it during its “free preview” on the first week of the football season). If I had one of DirecTV’s more newfangled receivers, I’d be able to use the cursor keys on the remote to pick a game and switch to the channel that’s showing it full-screen. But since I’m sticking with TiVo, the only option is a complicated series of button presses to switch which game’s audio is coming through.

And you may notice that things are high-tech enough that they’re able to black out the Angels game for me without blacking out this entire channel –although if they were really high-tech, they’d show the channel number on which it’s appearing, not just “0.”

Opening Day 2007: Hour 10

7:00Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (FSN West)
7:01 — Someone runs onto the field at the Metrodome. I understand why they don’t show the action on TV, but the fact that they’re not showing it just makes me want to watch it even more (and because all the shots of the players standing around doing nothing are really, really boring).
7:09 — After a little trouble in the top of the 9th, the Twins win.
7:10 — With all of the Sammy Sosa excitement, I didn’t realize that Kenny Lofton was on the Rangers this year, and that he’s at 599 career steals.
7:12 — He gets number 600. There has been a noticeable amount of first-inning steals today — managers trying to set an aggressive tone for the season, obviously.
7:17 — Boneless Buffalo wings at Carl’s Jr.? I’m going to guess that the “wings” portion of the name is not quite accurate.
7:22 — Vladimir Guerrero’s batting helmet is already filthy. How does he do it?
7:31 — While the Angels announcers aren’t paying attention because they’re interviewing Troy Percival in the booth, Sammy Sosa strikes out. They don’t even get a closeup of him before he bats, just as he walks back to the Rangers dugout hanging his head.

7:35 — End of the Rangers’ half of the 2nd. I’ve been watching baseball for over nine and a half hours now. I think that’s all I can handle for today.

Opening Day 2007: Hour 9

6:02 — Why, they’ve got a special graphic to use when Craig Biggio gets a hit.

6:11 — Xavier Nady, who has a great name, hits a home run to tie the Pirates-Astros game at 2.
6:21 — Hey, the Twins aren’t on WCCO anymore, which is kind of like the Cardinals not being on KMOX anymore. Herb Carneal may well be rolling in his grave already.

6:25 — The Pirates-Astros game isn’t quite as speedy now that it’s gone into extra innings.
6:32 — Perhaps somebody with more time on their hands than Levi or me — probably a member of SABR — has calculated the percentage of World Series and/or pennant winners that won their first game of the season. I’m suddenly interested in what that statistic is.
6:33 — Jason Bay hits a 2-run homer in the top of the 10th. He should be on the Devil Rays instead of the Pirates, given that both have “Bay” in their names.
6:38 — The Astros strike out, in the bottom of the 10th, for the first time in the game.
6:42 — The Pirates win a game! The Pirates win a game! And now there’s only one game in progress.
6:43 — In this

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post-literate age, “DQ Grill & Chill” seems to be the new name for “Dairy Queen Brazier.” I wonder how Bob Greene feels about that. (The former columnist for the Chicago Tribune, not Oprah’s personal trainer.)

You know, after I got fired two years ago, I should have tried to contact him to commiserate. We could have had a chat over Blizzards or something. I don’t even remember exactly what our disagreement was about.
6:53 — The Twins announcers are comparing former Devil Ray and current Oriole Danys Baez to Rick Sutcliffe, and talk about how he hooks his hand around behind him before he delivers the ball. At one point, they call him “a hooker.”

Opening Day 2007: Hour 7

4:00Baltimore 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).

These "Peanuts" reruns should come with annotations

This strip originally ran in 1959. That’s two years before the Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Twins, so the reference is to the Minneapolis Millers of the minor-league American Association.

In 1959, the Yankees finished in third place in the American League, and the Millers finished in first place in the AA (but lost the Junior World Series to the Havana Sugar Kings of the International League). They probably could have taken the Yankees.


Cardinals fans have spent the past couple of weeks worrying that the Cardinals might, as rumor had it, sign Jacque Jones from the Twins. Jacque Jones is not a very good baseball player, and he was destined to be overpaid.

So the Cubs signed him! For three years! For

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$16 million!

Dan Szymborski of has a hilarious analysis of the signing at their Transaction Oracle. I can’t figure out how to permalink to the post, so you should go here, then scroll down just a bit until you find the Jones signing. It’s worth it.

Basebrawl, the fun version

Now, even if you didn’t enjoy Jason Varitek’s attempt to pluck out Alex Rodriguez’s eyes on Saturday, I think you’ll enjoy the brawl from last night’s White Sox/Twins game as presented by Batgirl.

What, you say? There was no brawl? Well, she thinks there should have been, after Corey Koskie was hit by pitches three times in the game. And she’s got Lego men and a digital camera, all she needs to make her own brawl.

By the way: what do you think Varitek was going to do with A-Rod’s eyes if he got them? At first I thought he was planning ahead to use the hidden ball trick, but I don’t think that would work as well with eyeballs as it did with a potato that one time.

Original comments…

Dan: I think I read Varitek was going to threaten to throw his eyes into the Tigris River unless the Yankees withdrew their club from first place.

Jason: I think he was confusing Alex Rodriguez with Bette Davis.

Just ask Kim Carnes.

Batgirl, the baseball variety

Got some time to kill on a slow Friday afternoon at the office? Stop playing Minesweeper and check out Batgirl’s site. I found it yesterday, and she sold me with this post that features a lot of great possibilities for newspaper headlines about that day’s Twins win.

She’s a Twins fan, which is probably all you need to know about the depth of her passion for baseball. Although I enjoyed the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome the one time I was there, it would take a great love of baseball for someone to spend more than a couple of the beautiful days of the Twin Cities’ short summer staring at the baggie in right field instead of having a beer at an outdoor restaurant and keeping your eyes out for Prince.

We’re talking The Human Computer and Fruit Pies kinda love. That’s the kind of love Batgirl has for the Twins.

Original comments…

Jason: Talking in the 3rd person? Is she Bob Dole’s granddaughter?

Jason wonders if she’s gone to any St. Paul Saints games. Jason would go if Jason was in the Twin Cities area.

Donna Cochener: leeeeeviiii…. when you guys do your baseball roadtrip, can you get me a Hello Kitty from each team? It’s my newest collection. I’ll pay you for the Kitties and for the pain and suffering, too. 🙂 I already have a Mariners Hello Kitty and a Dodgers Hello Kitty, so those are covered…

Levi: No.

Well, maybe.

Note my kindness getting the better of my better judgment here. I think Hello Kitty should be put on just about everything . . . except baseball trip itineraries.

stacey: donna, if levi won’t get you a hello kitty from each park, i’ll make you several slices of hello kitty toast and mail them to you.