Notes from the first few days of the season

Expanding on a few tweets I’ve made while watching some games this week…

1. Nice to see Albert Pujols quickly rewarding our faith in calling him a Player to Watch by hitting two home runs on Opening Day. Obviously, he knows a Cardinals-friendly blog when he sees one.

2. When I got home from work Monday, the only game on TV was Giants-Astros. Things were going along unremarkably until an Astros pitcher named Sammy Gervacio came in for the top of the 9th. He had, it turned out, a bizarre pre-pitch ritual, wherein he would briefly stare down the third-base dugout while holding the ball up. I’m not really doing it justice here; suffice to say that Mrs. Levi thought he was a robot. The only videos I can find of it are only halfway decent; here’s someone’s shaky-cam from the stands on Opening Day, and a brief video from spring training.

He was effective on Opening Day, striking out 2 of the 3 batters he faced; however, he ended up taking the loss in the second game, giving up two hits and an earned run in a third of an inning. And then he went on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. But I hereby proclaim him a Player to Watch once he gets back.

3. The Rays should know better than to set off fireworks inside Tropicana Field, as they did before their Opening Day game, which was not on Opening Day, for unexplained reasons. The haze never dissipated during the game, and for me watching on TV, it made Tropicana Field look even darker and dingier inside than it normally is. At one point, Rays announcer DeWayne Staats had to read an ad proclaiming that game was broadcast in “beautiful HD, brought to you by H.H. Gregg.” That HD was not beautiful. If H.H. Gregg had that game on any of the TVs in the store, it would have caused potential buyers to run away screaming, going home to embrace their old standard-definition TVs.

4. Wednesday evening, I discovered that DirecTV was carrying the Rogers SportsNet coverage of the Blue Jays-Rangers game, including the Canadian commercials. Which, it turned out, weren’t all that exciting. In fact, Lowe’s is running the same commercials in Canada that they are in the U.S., just with a different announcer at the end saying “Canada’s new home improvement warehouse.” Also, movie ads in Canada don’t end with the rating, which make them seem incomplete — they just kind of stop.

Don’t expect many more posts like this from me during the season, since I’ll be watching a lot less baseball once DirecTV’s free trial of the MLB Extra Innings package is over. This really should be Levi’s type of post, but he has unfortunately turned his attention to his “I’ve Been Reading Lately” blog, and to other literary activities, in the past couple of years. Just in case you’re wondering where he is…

There goes the smuggling operation

From the “Returning to the United States” portion of AAA’s “U.S.-Canada Border Information” handout: “Articles considered detrimental to the general welfare of the United States are prohibited entry. These include narcotics and dangerous drugs, drug paraphernalia, obscene articles and publications, seditious or treasonable matter, lottery tickets, hazardous articles (e.g. fireworks, dangerous toys, toxic or poisonous substances) and switchblade knives.”

Lottery tickets are detrimental to the general welfare of the United States? Have the various states been notified of this fact? Many of them seem to be depending on the sale of lottery tickets for a major portion of their budgets. (Hmm, maybe they specifically mean Canadian lottery tickets are detrimental to the general welfare of the United States.)

I guess this means we won’t be able to blow any remaining Canadian cash on lottery tickets near the border. Guess we’ll instead have to stock up on candy that’s not available in the U.S., including Nestle Smarties and Aero bars. (Because we’ll be in Canada less than 48 hours, we’ll be able to bring back up to $400 worth of candy, or anything other than lottery tickets. If we wind with anywhere near $400 worth of Canadian money with which to buy candy, it will either mean an ATM went crazy somewhere or we were surprisingly successful buskers.)

Original comments…

Levi: Jim, if you buy anything in Canadia, the terrorists win.

maura: you can buy aero bars at the deli around the corner from my apartment.

Jim: Along with poutine, Kraft Dinner, caffeine-free Mountain Dew, and Anne Murray CDs?

(Yes, yes, I know Kraft Dinner is readily available in the U.S. under the name Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, or, if you prefer, Cheese and Macaroni. Leave it to the Canadians to just assume that dinner will involve macaroni and cheese.)

Levi: Also, $400 Canadian is equal to about $.28-$.35 American, depending on the prevailing exchange rates. We just might end up with that much money.

Jason: Don’t forget to pick up some ketchup-flavored potato chips.

On second thought, I think you’ve tried them before, so, forget it, after all.