Montreal pictures

Years ago, Standard Oil of New Jersey spent a lot of money coming up with a new name that they’d be able to use everywhere in the world. That name was Exxon. They’re still using the old name in Canada (and a lot of other countries besides)…

The spaceship that is Olympic Stadium…


Expos at bat…

For some reason, the top and bottom line (season stats and lineup) are in English, and the middle line (stats for “ce match”) is in French, e.g. “CC” is French for “HR”…

The final line…

A milestone win…

From Poutine to Les Expos

O, Canada! I am so ready to stand on guard for thee. You’ve won me over, with your rolling hills, your Euro-style, your wide vistas, your old buildings, your two-dollar coins, and, yes–I mean oui–even your French.

Le Stade Olimpique, on the other hand. . . . Well, let’s just say if all baseball were played in such conditions, Jim and I might be on a trip to see 11 team handball games instead. Oh, it’s not as bad as it could be. Some good points: The Metro lets you off right under the stadium. Tickets from un homme out front were 10$, or about $.65 U.S. The seat location printed on those tickets was more a suggestion than a condition. The funny yellow seats that looked like they’d been recycled from Tomorrowland’s “Mission to Mars” were actually pretty comfortable. The poutine—which, because I do find myself on occasion eating meat gravy, at Thanksgiving, say, I decided I couldn’t quite bear to pass up—was as advertised. Youppi was slightly less annoying than your average mascot. When an Expo homered, the scoreboard flashed, “CIRCUIT!”

But there were, without a doubt, bad points. The main–all-encompassing, really–bad point was that we were watching baseball indoors. It’s just wrong and deeply unsatisfying to walk out of a pleasant, 25-degree night into an enclosed concrete bowl with a puffy roof. The turf–though more grasslike than the bright green nightmare that serves as the field at Skydome–is still far closer to carpet on the carpet/grass continuum. The outfield walls, though decorated with the retired numbers of Expo greats (Quick quiz: name three. Okay, time’s up. If you said three of Andre Dawson, Gary Carter, Rusty Staub, Tim Raines, or–and this one isn’t really fair–Jackie Robinson, you win!), is still a tall, stadium-blue vinyl cushion thing. And the foul poles, like at Skydome, aren’t poles at all, just two-foot-wide netting painted yellow and strong from the top of the wall to the upper deck–although Stade Olimpique gets bonus points for continuing the foul poles with dotted lines painted across the appropriate part of the façade to the ceiling.

Jim and I were both pleasantly surprised by the size of the crowd. The Dodgers were in town, and quite a few of those in attendance were wearing the blue, but the majority of attendees seemed to be Expos fans. The announced attendance of nearly 8,000 didn’t even seem all that inflated. Jim and I decided just before the first pitch that, being in Montreal, we would allow location to supersede Jim’s regional loyalties, so we cheered for Les Expos. As the team took the field, I learned that Expos third baseman Tony Batista (Who, you may remember from his days in Baltimore, has the silliest batting stance in baseball, sillier even than Craig Counsell. Really. Try it out yourself. Look in the mirror. Imagine the mirror is a pitcher. Take the stance that normal hitter would take, and you’ll see that your outside shoulder is faced towards the pitcher. Now, imagine you’re Tony Batista. Say “Hola, soy Tony Batista.” Take your left foot, the one closest to the pitcher, and step out of the box with it. You’ll notice that you’re now facing the pitcher. Take the bat off your shoulder and hold it with both hands directly in front of you, pointed up, like Ben Kenobi awaiting Darth Vader. Wait for your pitch.) runs out to his position at top speed just like Sammy Sosa. Only, as Batista is an infielder, he has to get moving and get stopped much more quickly. But the crowd loves it nonetheless.

The game itself was a good one for Expos fans–from the third pitch to Brad Wilkerson leading off the bottom of the first, Jose Lima had definitely set his watch to Lima Time. Only, he’d set it to Lima time circa 1999, when his propensity for the “balle de circuit!” forced him out of baseball. He threw “un balle de adios, mon ami” to Wilkerson, and later he served up “un balle de tristesse toujours san fin” to the aforementioned Tony Batista a few innings later. (Remember how silly you looked just now in the mirror? I don’t understand how it works, either.) Miixing it up a bit, Lima tossed the next batter, Juan Rivera, a “balle de Mercy!, merci.” In the sixth, Termel Sledge, who’s only mentioned here because of his great name, singled and scored when Lima threw his last pitch of the ballgame, “un balle de circuit de troix puntos.” The 6-3 lead that gave Les Expos would hold up, making the teams Jim and I are rooting for 5-0 on the trip. That in itself is almost worth our not getting to see Eric Gagne pitch in his homeland.

One last incident from the game deserves mention, and it involves the twice-mentioned Tony Batista. In the 7th, Batista dodged a wild pitch–“un mauvais balle”–that nearly hit his ankles. The next pitch was a fastball that hit him in the helmet. He went down, knocked out. The Dodgers pitcher was instantly ejected, unfairly, in my view, and the trainer and players gathered around Batista. It was scary, but within a minute or so, he was moving around. Then, within seconds of having been out cold, Batista pushed himself to his feet, turned and waved both hands at the cheering crowd, and, shrugging off assistance, sprinted to first. Though I expected him to be replaced in the game for precautionary reasons, he stayed in, and three pitches later, he stole second on the back end of a double steal. Surely he’s a fan favorite in Montreal.

Now we’re rolling up and down the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire, on our way to Boston. When I turned the computer on, I misread the wireless network symbol and thought for a second that perhaps all of Vermont was an open wireless network. Sadly, no.

The examination at the border crossing back into the U.S. was a bit more strenuous than the one we endured to enter Canada (Here is the entry one in its entirety, as a one-act play: Customs guy (bored almost to the point of rudeness: You bringing anything in? Me: Nope. Fin.). The lady looked in our trunk, asked how we knew each other–explaining CRC set us behind schedule about two hours—and asked twice if we were bringing anything in. Later, we took a pleasant ferry ride across lovely Lake Champlain, and, minutes after I had expressed to Jim my general distaste for giant Recreational Vehicles like the pink one adjacent to us on the ferry, which was towing an SUV behind it–and seconds after I expressed my fears that it would smash our car attempting to drive off the ferry–said RV, in driving off the ferry, banged its long-ass back end into our right rear panel. Fortunately for us, only the trailer carrying the SUV suffered damage, a smashed taillight. Our Chevy Impala, apparently “increveable,” was unmarked. A ways down the road, as we passed the RV, I was able to shake my fist. I doubt the driver saw me, though, from his perch forty feet above the roadway.

On to Boston. Johnny Damon, we come for thee!

Original comments…

Jim’s mom: Mom says hi. Drive carefully and eat your vegetables.

Toby: Levi, If you didn’t get a picture of Lima’s wife, don’t bother coming back! Are you trying to say the tickets were 65 cents or is there a typo somewhere?

thatbob: That’s just Levi trying to make some of his patented “exchange rate” humor. It probably would have made a little more sense about 4 years ago, you know, before the US dollar went all to hell.

Eric Ritter: Poutine… mmmmm.

stacey: so what exactly is poutine?

Dan: When I went to Olympic Stadium in 1989, I thought it was a tremendous dump. Although I bet it was a terrific place to see the opening ceremonies of the ’76 Games.

sandor: Poutine is something like fries swimming in meat gravy. It’s much grosser than a pretty name like “poutine” would lead you to believe.

I’m curious to know if either Canadian ballpark served donairs. During our recent trip to Canadia, we were confused as all get-out to see them advertised at the same level and intesity as hamburgers and hot dogs, not having ever heard the term before. Turns out a donair is pretty much the exact same thing as a gyros. I guess they hate Greeks in Canadia, and needed to come up with something sufficiently anglo as a replacement.

stacey: It’s now 3:16 here in Chicago. I’ve just turned off WPRB after enjoying the radio show . . . but I’m surprised there’s not a new post yet. Isn’t Maura a wireless zone?

stacey: sorry to keep posting about the future and the past . . . but this reminded me of the bunny at the swing of the quad cities game:

Jason: The big question is: Did Jim eat any poutine?

Eric Ritter: Poutine is the national food of the part of Quebec that doesn’t object to it being the national food.

I loooove Poutine. But I understand the point of view of people who don’t want it to be the national food. It’s extremely yummy (to me, an avowed fan of fatty foods), but doesn’t achieve the culinary brilliance of certain other proletarian fatty foods, such as Southern fried chicken (of which I am the grandmaster, by the way. And which is much less fatty than you think.) A francophone nation can do better.


Guest post by Luke, links by me

Says Hanger-on Luke, referring to yesterday’s Cubs/Dodgers game:

If I had a baseball blog I’d write about the fan I sat in front oftoday. He was a real piece of work, a young man clearly mentally disabled but both in love with and enraged by his Cubs, sort of a Rain Man with amean streak and Cubby-blue blood.

When I got to my seat he was already ranting–to nobody in particular–about Corey Patterson and how he’s not a lead-off batter. Then he was going off on how Aramis Ramirez should be starting: “Dusty, you are nota doctor! Aramis is not hurt!” Once the umps took the field, he started yelling at them, reciting from memory the rule book’s description ofthe strike zone.

All this from Aisle 534.

He kept a tally of questionable balls and strikes. With each one –more than 20 of them — he’d explode: “This is ridiculous! We’re going toreplace you with a computer! With QuesTec, Fox Box AND! OR! a fifthumpire in the booth AND! OR! instant replay! And we’re sending you to the eyedoctor! And we’re sending you back to umpiring school. AND WE’RE GOING TO CALL THE COMMISSIONER! 1414! 225! 3900!”

Every. Single. Time. After the fifth time the entire section could mouth along with him, as not a single word — nor his intense volume — would deviate over the course of the game.

He also was very displeased that the Commissioner was not there asscheduled for Greg Maddux Day, as he had a few things he needed to tell Bud. He expressed dismay that Jim Hendry never wants to talk to him.

Another screed: “Dusty is the stupidest manager ever. Why doesn’t he want to win? I have an IQ of 120 — I am smarter than Dusty! We will always hate you, Dusty! WE WILL ALWAYS HATE YOU!”

And you should have seen him go nuts when Farnsworth came in and proceeded to implode.

Since he wasn’t swearing or threatening fans, there wasn’t really anything security could do, other than try to get him to calm down. He would not.

It gets better: When he wasn’t yelling at the umps or Dusty, he was calling up ESPN radio and other sports media on his cell phone and leaving long messages calmly describing Dusty’s many felonies — occasionally pausing to scream toward the field. It seemed, however, that every time he did this, the Cubs would proceed to do something good. Thus, Monday morning some schlub at ESPN is going to have to listen to all these messages, and as he listens to this fan moan about Corey Patterson, he will hear in the background Corey Patterson rapping a single to center. As he listens to a rant about the bullpen, he will hear in the backgroundKent Mercker getting a strikeout to end the inning.

It was nothing short of amazing. I think I was the only one in my section who appreciated him, even though he was yelling right into my ear. I had to concede he was one of the best-informed fans in the stadium. Much better him than some drunk frat boy yelling “You suck, Pujols!”


Original comments…

Jim: Much better than the guy Matt Bailey and I encountered on L.A.’s Red Line on Sunday who heard us comparing the L.A. subway system with the Chicago ‘L’, the D.C. Metro, and Atlanta’s MARTA, and proceeded to semi-coherently mumble something about taking the subway to other countries. He was speaking quietly, though, and ended up getting off the train at Vermont & Sunset.

Later, a friend of Matt’s who was in Chicago called him, and told a tale of woe about his companions who bought tickets to the Cubs game from a scalper for $80…and soon discovered the tickets to be counterfeit.

Levi: According to a couple of reverse directories online, the phone number the guy was shouting doesn’t exist. Or if it does, it doesn’t turn up a listing.

I suppose I could test by calling it, but Bud Selig might answer the phone, and I wouldn’t like to have to be responsible for my behavior in that situation.

Luke, hanger-on: Whoops, I misremembered the phone number, which is remarkable considering how many times it was bellowed into my ear: It’s in fact (414) 225-8900.

Steve: Quien es mas retarded? The guy described in the above post or the dudes who bought $80 counterfit tickets?

Levi: Mas retarded? Kyle Farnsworth. Hands down.

Or is that mas estoned?

Dodging the trolleys

Two recent pieces of news from the Los Angeles Dodgers: their organist Nancy Bea Hefley is playing a lot less than she used to, and they’re considering adding a mascot (no link available, but there was a story in today’s L.A. Times that, if today were April 1 and not June 1, I would have thought was fake).

I’m wondering if new Dodgers owner Frank McCourt doesn’t have some kind of “Producers”-style scam going on that depends on low attendance at Dodger Stadium. Raising ticket prices would have been too obvious, so he raised parking prices and concession stand prices, but that didn’t work too well, because people still keep showing up to the games. There were no spectacular free agent signings in the off-season, just a troublemaker acquired at the last minute. Yet the Dodgers are doing pretty well, so people still keep showing up to the games. Perhaps when the no-organ-plus-annoying-mascot plan doesn’t work, McCourt will make every night Free Beach Ball Night, in which every fan will get a free pre-inflated beach ball and will be encouraged to bat it around in the stands throughout the game. Oh, wait a second…

By the way, the Major League Baseball organist situation isn’t quite as dire as the Seattle Times column makes it out to be. Their list of organists is incomplete. For example, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have a live organist, believe it or not, to name one team they didn’t mention. His booth is next to, but not inside, the press box, and I was just a few sections over from it at the game last month. I only realized afterwards that I should have gone over there to see if he took requests.

Original comments…

Levi: Hey, don’t knock Milton Bradley.

As he said last year when sent down by Cleveland, “There seems to be one set of rules for Milton Bradley, and another set for everybody else.”

thatbob: Oh, see, I have a deep and profound love for annoying mascots that I’m surprised you don’t share, Jim. But at least if they get a Trolley Dodger, they’ll have to get a trolley, no? Wouldn’t that make you happy! LA hasn’t had one of those since, what, the 1940s?

I hope it’s a big pink and green trolley made of balloons and glitter that runs back and forth across the backfield. Isn’t that the kind you like?

Jason: Bernie Brewer was never annoying.

Levi: If the Dodgers get a mascot, who’s next? A big, stinky Red Sock? A plastered Trixie named Cubbina?

We can only hope.

Jim: The Red Sox have a mascot: Wally the Green Monster.

Best at-bat ever?

Around here, and around the Internet, all the news from Wednesday’s Cubs-Dodgers game was about Alex Cora’s at-bat.

For those of you who missed it, here’s the pitch-by-pitch.

Pitch 1 – Ball
Pitch 2 – Called Strike
Pitch 3 – Ball
Pitch 4 – Foul
Pitch 5 – Foul
Pitch 6 – Foul
Pitch 7 – Foul
Pitch 8 – Foul
Pitch 9 – Foul
Pitch 10 – Foul
Pitch 11 – Foul
Pitch 12 – Foul
Pitch 13 – Foul
Pitch 14 – Foul
Pitch 15 – Foul
Pitch 16 – Foul
Pitch 17 – Foul
Pitch 18 – Home run to right field. Jason Grabowski and Alex Cora score

Because I had just watched the Cardinals game and had to get up at 5:45 the next morning to get to work early, I went to bed just before that inning. Stacey came into the bedroom early in Cora’s at-bat to inform me that Cubs announcer Pat Hughes had said, “For those of you just returning from a brief vacation, Alex Cora is still at bat.”

Much later–or so it seemed to my sleep-addled brain–she returned to tell me that Cora had fouled off fourteen pitches. Soon after, she sadly delivered the news of his home run. But even though she’s a Matt Clement fan and was sad to see him lose the battle, she was willing to concede that it was pretty impressive.

Two other notes:

1. Is Matt Morris trying to take up Johnny Damon’s slack? Check out this photo. It’s not there yet, but he’s on his way to turning his hideous chin friend into a real beard.

2. The comment by Pat Hughes reminds me of two great baseball radio moments I’ve been meaning to share with you. One is a great bit of description by Cardinals announcer Mike Shannon. Describing Matt Morris pulling up short to stop at third base, he said, “He stopped so short that if he’d been a train, he would have jackknifed the last half-dozen cars.”

The second is from a discussion Ron Santo and Pat Hughes were having the other day at Wrigley. It was chilly and windy, but Pat, expecting better weather, had decided to have the crew take out the window panes that protect the announcers from the elements. Ron was on his case about it, complaining that after so many years at Wrigley, surely he knew better than to take out the windows in May. Pat peppered Ron with questions like, “So, Ron, would you say it’s a pain to have these windows out?” and “So, Ron, would you say that it’s an open-and-shut case?” Ron continued his rant, oblivious to the joking.

Original comments…

Levi: Baseball Prospectus has a good point about Damon’s beard: he missed a chance to raise much more money for charity. He should have set up two accounts, one for keeping the beard, one for shaving it, and asked for donations to each. The one with most donations decides the fate of the greatest beard of the decade.

stacey: levi, what is the point is saying i’m a matt clement fan without linking to a photo of him? he steals my heart with his super pitching, tall socks, and super cuteness!

Luke: The at-bat reminded me of Matt Williams’ great at-bat in the 1989 NLCS against the Cubs, although it was only eight foul balls. Here’s an interesting write-up about it (scroll down to “Foul ball!”).

“According to research by STATS Inc., each foul ball shifts the balance in favor of the batter. After Williams’s fifth foul, he was the favorite over Wilson. Why? Physically, the more pitches a batter sees, the better he can adjust to movement and velocity, and therefore time his swing. There is also the psychological toll on the pitcher to consider.”

There’s also some talk of the precision foul ball, like the scene in “The Natural” where Hobbs tries to snipe the photographer when he’s taking BP after his injury.

“The carefully aimed foul ball is a rare but potent weapon, as Richie Ashburn once discovered. The Phillies outfielder was one of the best ever at repeatedly fouling balls off to frustrate and overwork pitchers, skilled enough to lead the league four times in on-base percentage. There came a day, however, when one of Ashburn’s teammates called upon him to fine-tune his fouling skills. The teammate, who was angry at his wife, implored Ashburn to hit the ball at his wife, sitting in the left-field stands. Ashburn forgot about it until he happened to spray some fouls in that general area. When his teammate yelled from the bench, “two seats over, one row back and you’ve got her,” Ashburn hit the next ball elsewhere, drawing the line at assault.

“Ted Williams, in My Turn At Bat, confessed to an occasion when he didn’t draw such a line. Maddened by one of his chronic Fenway Park hecklers, Williams tried to hit the critic with a foul ball. Since the fan sat behind third base, Williams had to go literally out of his way in his attempt, eschewing his pull-hitting instincts to aim left for several swings. He didn’t hit his target, but he probably made his point.


“Any discussion of foul balls must celebrate Luke Appling, the Michelangelo of the mis-hit. Appling once deliberately fouled two dozen balls into the stands to get even with his own ballclub’s failure to provide free passes for a couple of his friends. Another time, he aimed at a peanut vendor who had laughed when a fan was struck by Appling’s previous foul. “I’ll fix him,” Appling declared, then nailed him in the head; the vendor had to be carried out.”

There are worse claims to fame than to be the “Michelangelo of the mis-hit.”

Steve: So…ah….um….ah….who …uh…will join me in my…uh…loathing of Ron Santo? It seems that…ah….just when I have enough ammo to spread my..uh… hatred (like when he irresponsibly crashed his car after suffering insulin shock, like when he was characterized as “despondent” after not getting into the hall of fame) he goes and becomes…um….ah…. a double amputee without a bladder. I feel like…um…Frank Grimes in that Simpsons episode. You know….the…um…the….um…the….only person I’m destroying with… hatred for Santo is myself. Um….Um….Worst color guy ever! All….ah…he’s good for is ….YESSS!!!!… rooting in the pressbox, kissing Sammy’s ass, (“just because Sammy has struck out seven times in a row, it doesn’t mean he’s not seeing the ball good.” He’s due.) wearing Pat Hughes out about his clothes and going on ad nauseum about the attendance quiz. But God forbid YOU rather than he make a joke about one of his three toupees. Pat Hughes is a Saint.

Levi: I’m not entirely sure I believe the Luke Appling story–two dozen fouls is more than I’ve ever heard of anybody hitting. But I could be wrong. To do that to demonstrate irritation is a pretty hilarious reason.

Every pitch of the Cora at-bat is at, so I got to see it. Three things stood out. First, Clement kept throwing the same pitch, to the same location, over and over. His location was right on, every time. Second, Cora hit all but one of his fouls to the first-base side, and they almost all looked very very similar. None was in the air, which made the home run seem even more surprising. And third, after a few pitches, Vin Scully was stuck saying, “And another foul.” Over and over again.

Levi: I love Santo, despite agreeing with nearly every word Steve says. Especially that Pat Hughes is a Saint.

Luke: I will! I will! As Levi and Stacey and Bob well know, I agree with nearly word Steve says, especially that Ron Santo is the worst color guy ever.

Bob can testify how I put my palms to my ears when, in the 9th inning of a close game, Ron has nothing to add but “Noooo!” and “Yesssss!” and “Ohhhhhh!” and “Heyyyyy!” My latest annoyance has been his tendency to start anecdotes with two outs, resulting in Pat having to say, “…. and Sammy Sosa strikes out to end the enning. We’ll hear the rest of Ron’s story about (nonsense unrelated to baseball) after this break.”

Come the Sox series, I’ll be listening to Ed and John over on AM 1000. Sometimes I even prefer to listen to the Sox game, so brilliant are Ed and John, and count on the occasional update to know how my Cubs are doing.

Steve: Amen to the Rooney and Farmer comment, but don’t you think Farmer is getting a little out there at times? Sometimes he gets this “know it all” air about him that makes him a bit pretentious. Iíve learned a lot about baseball from listening to those guys. They can make the AL fun. Back to Hughes and Santo: Here’s another one that might not actually have happened but might as well have.

Pat: Bases full of Cubs two outs
Ron: Uh…I..uh got a fax here from….uh….Beverly in Davenport Iowa. She loves the…uh…Cubs and wants to uh…wish…
Pat: Alou hits a drive…
Ron: Yes!!! Cmon! Yes!!
Pat: And Bonds squeezes it for out #3
Ron: No!!!!

Levi, why do you love Santo so much? Is it for the same reason every kid at the Special Olympics gets a medal? That’s what’s so frustrating about this hatred. No one will contradict my general assesment of the man, instead they just say stuff like “He’s a legend” or try to start some argument with me about Santo being in the Hall of Fame.

Levi: I will admit to being completely bowled over–robbed of my ability to think critically–by his resolute fandom, his Charlie-Brown-worthy yo-yoing between absurd, childlike hopefulness and Dostoevskian despair, and by his (apparently) complete lack of any pretension.

Plus, he should be in the Hall of Fame.

stacey: although i concede that ron santo is an absolutely horrid baseball announcer, i really do enjoy listening to ron and pat. it’s like hanging out with two great friends. one of them knows a lot about baseball, and the other one’s got a french-speaking canadian dog and a Really fat cat that exercises until it is sweaty in a giant hampster ball. and they both really love the cubs.

Not the Trolley Dodgers anymore

A question that could have far-reaching implications for the road trip, where we’ll be seeing games on consecutive nights in cities that are several hundred miles apart: would I have a good time seeing games on consecutive nights in cities that are several thousand miles apart?

The link between the Devil Rays and the Dodgers? Why, former Devil Ray Wilson Alvarez, of course. He’s the white blob on the left side of this picture, getting ready to pitch to Sammy Sosa…

You know when an at-bat is going on a long time when the scoreboard operator has enough time to type in something like this…

Cora fouled 14 times in a row, and each one was accompanied by some Little Leaguers in our section trying to start The Wave, which would peter out a couple of sections over because nobody else really cared. And then Cora hit a home run.

The answer is, yes, I had a good time, although I was pretty tired by the end of the game shortly after 10:00 Pacific time, since I had been up since 6:00 A.M. Eastern time. I’m not expecting any jet lag on the road trip. Fortunately, I didn’t have to be behind the wheel to get out of the Dodger Stadium parking lots…

In the L.A. Times on Thursday morning, the headline spotlighted Alvarez (pulled after 101 pitches), but the picture is of Cora being congratulated after the at-bat that went on forever…

Original comments…

Levi: That’s a remarkably pointless headline.

Biggest surprise for me in that game? Learning that Wilson Alvarez is in the league again, and that, despite losing some weight, he’s still a very big man.

Tom Ellwanger: And at the Ranger/Devil Ray game on the afternoon of May 13, in order of perceived excitement:

1. The Rangers pitcher picked two Devil Rays players off first base, including Maura’s favorite player. Per the surprisingly diplomatic Lou Piniella, no right-handed pitcher can have that good a pickoff move without balking, in this case with his knee, “but the umpires didn’t see it.”

2. The Rangers blew both resulting run-downs in different ways, something which nobody in the stands–all 2,600 of us–had seen since Little League. In one case, the picked off runner made second and got credit for a stolen base, producing the same result as a balk call (assuming Lou was correct).

3. The Devil Rays won the game. The starting pitcher got the win, the new-from-Durham setup man got his 95 mph fastballs close enough to the plate that people swung at them, and the closer got the save (save number 4 out of 11 total victories).

4. Raymond came down the aisle and stopped to kiss Jim’s new stepmother. No photographer was around to memorialize this poignant image.

5. Jim’s new stepmother wishes that Jim’s father had used the ready-made excuse to pound this obnoxious mascot into the real-clay infield, but he (Jim’s father) was too stunned by the entire spectacle to react that quickly.

Baseball fever! We have it in Tampa. Oh, Rocco Baldelli bobblehead doll night is next Tuesday, but I’m going to the Lightning/Flyer game.

Levi: At least with Rocco Baldelli bobblehead day, the Rays are sure they won’t be faced with the ignominy of having to cancel the day because the player’s in the minors again, like they were forced to do with Jason Tyner bobblehead day.