Wednesday, April 22, 2009
--Gigantic, terrifying huge ballplayers (pictured above), including a fading shortstop with less range than David Eckstein, a vainglorious and (physically and mentally) wounded third baseman, and a 34.50 ERA sinkerballer whose sinkers seem to move to the middle and center of the plate. And Jeter had wings like Mothra. I would have been terrified if I wasn't listening to King Geedorah.
--Unfinished concrete all around the place reminiscent of a cheap New York condo building, now desperate and open to rental. All around the place probably not including the luxury boxes.
--Advertising for a truly modern Murderer's Row. Utz probably wouldn't make the 40 corporation roster:
Bank of America
J & R
Stop and Shop
(Unknown Japanese Company)
Modell's (featuring a really gross ad that responded to a broken bat, with a broken bat animation then queuing us, hey, need a new bat? Gotta Go To Mo's! When an opposing player is out with an injury, I hope they flash a Beth Israel Hospital ad.)
The Sharper Image (still exists?)
Delta (including the Delta 360 Luxury Box; if you're dumb enough to blow $2K+ to see a ballgame from your own shelter, shouldn't you at least demand a touch of unsponsored class?)
H&R Block (Also with their own luxury lounge [not exactly fiscally conservative] and a tax hints feature between innings; y'know, on April 22nd, the only hint anyone can logically give is, Do your fucking taxes already or scurry to Liberia now.)
The Sporting Authority
New York Daily News
24 Hour Fitness
Geico (including dancing fucking geckos everywhere when Johnny Damon hit the only homerun of the game)
P.C. Richard and Son
Yeah. And that's not a complete list, that's what I could actually spot from my seat on the very highest row in the ballpark, a position greatly alleviated by the fact that I wasn't sitting in the upper deck, I was in the "Grandstand." Which I'm surprised isn't the name for Standing Room Only seats, actually.
--An entirely empty section at field level and an all-but empty (two residents) section on the mezzanine level. Seatfillers, Oscar-style, can't be far away now, since Yankee management can't possibly be rational enough to drop prices and even reconsider the 3% spike coming in 2010.
--I also heard the humming, annoying ventilation/AC unit all night long. Don't believe what anyone tells you, because that much technology can't be needed to ventilate/cool a stadium on a night as cold as last. I said it. Yankee Stadium becomes a motherfuckin' airship when necessary, and there will be a playoff game played at 30,000 feet, or maybe a battle between Jorge Posada and Kain, captain of the Dragoons. Yep, that's where the last $750 million went.
--As far as the experience from the cheap seats is concerned, the above says all. (Thanks to It's About The Money, Stupid.)
--Things I could have seen: another man's dick at the urinals. Not that I'm uncomfortable with the situation, accustomed as I am to the trough situation in Fenway, but a blog whose name I can't say here, amusing as it is, has exposed that there are separators between the urinals in the men's bathrooms at field level...and that's it. But I have to say, the Gruel stand in the Grandstand was fairly filling, and I only got flogged five times over the course of the game, thrice by the same monocled gentleman. Curse my poor blood and my poor luck.
--Oh, and Bret Gardner made one of the hardest catches I've ever seen in person, diving backwards for a well-struck Giambi ball in the 1st, the Yankees, oddly struck out no one until the next to last out of the game, and it was a generally close and entertaining game. But the ballpark gets a C-, effectively a D until prices drop. Two things I didn't get to see were the Yankee Museum (long, long line, and we were there early) and Monument Park turned Monument Cave.
I didn't see Monument Cave, pictured, barely, because Lasko and I didn't understand until leaving that you had to go under the cave to get in, and not under. Burying your history only technically preserves it, insomuch as caves are airtight and free of light. Also, this particularly Cave is a lie. Lest we forget the promise:
Renovated Yankee Stadium was primarily a dump, but New Yankee Stadium is only alive amongst the untouchables, and was overestimating the importance of the rich and fickle even in a pre-September 2008 economy. They attempted to build an all-suite hotel when they would have been better off with an All-Bleacher Stadium. The dream is over.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I knew the Red Sox were better than their start, but I can't say I was sure we were going to make it to .500 in April. But a four-game winning streak squared that off, and the fifth has even brought us up for a gasp of air. Every game of the streak had a particular positive point or three to it as well, like this team is a switchboard being brought alive one flip at a time. Follow me, here:
4/16: Boston 8, Oakland 2
Positives: Tim Wakefield may have staying power in this rotation after all, Lineup scores more than 5 runs for the first time this year with a big 8th inning.
I've seen Wakefield have stuff this good, but never this consistently in the strike zone. 76 strikes out of 111 pitches, and that includes the 8th and 9th innings, where his stuff, and his no-hitter, faded. Also, George Kottaras looks very comfortable catching him, and smacked a nice study double. Nice day of baseball. I'd love to see Wakefield keep it up tonight.
4/17: Boston 10, Baltimore 8
Positives: Huge comeback, a big SIX shutout innings by the bullpen (including 1.2 IP of Ramon Ramirez's current 8.1 IP sans runs; the Coco Crisp trade looks good so far), another 10 runs of offense.
Negatives: Brad Penny, obviously, although his stuff was good, and the curveball Nick Markakis yanked for a grand slam was a good guess, not a bad pitch. And those uniforms. And those horrible, horrible hats. Look, hanging sox hats are for bank robbers, not ballplayers. It's bad enough the road unis feature BLUE sox.
4/18: Boston 6, Baltimore 4
Positives: Youkilis' four hits, Tek's third homerun, Ortiz's multihit game, Josh Beckett except for his shitty inning. The least endearing victory of the streak so far. But a win's a win.
4/19: Boston 2, Baltimore 1
Positives: Jon Lester. Had two bad innings more than two bad starts, but seeing him deal properly certainly eases some of our collective concerns that the innings spike last year will take its toll. (See Hamels, Cole.) This is still something to watch, but man, he threw a great game. And Saito was just good enough to save it.
Patriots Day: Boston 12, Baltimore 1
Positives: Where to begin? An excellent spot start by the tall, bald, white Jamaican, another 3.2 shutout innings by the pen, 4 hits for Pedroia, and a general offensive deluge. But most notably, some power by David Ortiz, in the form of a double and a triple. Opposite field, most promisingly. It could all come back. It could all come together.
Off to the house that
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Apologies for being away a ways, all; just returned from a vacation in New Orleans that was...too good. I'm bitching and moaning at 39 degree weather in the Brooklyn mornings and wondering why liquor isn't available at all hours (and MD 20/20 isn't available in all flavors), and none of that is much me. But at least the time away distracted me slightly from baseball.
Those nice new roadies are looking worse with every passing loss, and this is a dispiriting start, but the time for panic isn't nigh just yet. Games have been largely close, Jon Lester's woes have been largely in 2 particular innings pitched with 10 runs, and they've had chances to win every game they've lost. Excepting last night. Gasp. That's some pretty lame excusage, eh?
That being said, I still have to give up my predictions for the year, as made 12 days ago. (The Professor and Lasko can confirm the date mark.) I want to move the Rays up, and the Royals down, and am obviously feeling shakier than ever about the Sox, but I'm duty-bound. It's gotta get better from here, all. There just isn't that much room to fail harder.
3. Tigers (Gallaraga's a horse, and Verlander has to come back to form at some point. Otherwise, how was this team so good and young and talented for most of one season, and so meh since? Also, anxiety disorders can't be tested with blood tests, you fucking Tiger PR donks. Free Dontrell!)
4. Royals (I'm not saying the Royals will be "the next Rays!" as some baseballers have. I'm saying that Greinke could well win the Cy this year, Gordon is learning, and the impending friendship of Coco Crisp and Kyle Farnsworth...well, that's my next sitcom pitch once I sell "Barry and Gary.")
5. White Sox (Also could be the Tigers here. But nothing burns so brightly as a mediocre team with Ozzie as manager.)
1. Angels (I want to pick the A's. I really want to pick the A's. I think this one will be down to the wire. I think the Angels are just good enough, and that Matt Holliday is playing for Oakland a year ahead of when he should.)
2. A's (Could be another big three or so in the rotation coming; like bad Polish food, though, they need seasoning.)
4. Mariners (old Griffey will hit 3-9 HRs total in Safeco.)
1. Mets (Also for the 3rd year in a row. Having basically fixed their cause for downfall from last year, what will go wrong this year? Find out!)
2. Phillies (I gave them the WC before I realized, I don't think Cole Hamels is going to be healthy this year.)
3. Braves (Lowe could win a lot of games this year, if not over the whole contract.)
4. Marlins (in the new stadium, they will be the Miami Marlins. Now all they need to do is move to the AL, and lose to the Cubs in the World Series in a few years, and Back to the Future II will be prophetic.)
5. Nationals (I think in the spirit of Julian Tavarez's comments, I'll be calling this team 600 pound J. Lo for awhile.)
1, Cubs (Not as many wins as last year. Zambrano's going to have a 14-13, 4.35, too many walks sort of year. Fukudome still sucks, but the Horry Cow shirt seems to be less popular at least.)
1. Diamondbacks (One pick I might change, but I just feel like they have more upside than the Dodgers as a whole, and year 2 of the Webb/Haren combo will be still better than year 1. I'd be more at ease with this pick if LA hadn't resigned Furcal. I dunno.)
2. Dodgers (WC)
3. Giants (who could sneak up on everyone in this division and actually be dangerous in the playoffs. They'll take the Hitless Wonders throne away from the 1906 White Sox.)
5. Padres (worst record in baseball)
Red Sox beat Angels (as easy a phrase to write as Rock beats Scissors)
Yankees beat Indians (5 games, Carmona is as awful as he was awesome in the 2007 ALDS)
Diamondbacks beat Mets (5 games. Webb wins two, Haren loses game 2, wins game 5.)
Cubs beat Dodgers (Payback, motherfuckas!)
Red Sox beat Yankees in 5 (crucial play of Game 5 is a bases loaded off-the-glove error by Jeter to let in the winning run in the 12th. New York tabloids publish no paper the day after, in shock. A-Rod rejoices in relief.)
Diamondbacks beat Cubs in 6
Red Sox beat Diamondbacks in 5 (a series forgotten as quickly as it's played, marking 6 years since a World Series made it 6.)
G. Sizemore (since I've been picking him since he was born)
M. Ramirez (Pujols will have better numbers, but this will also be a lifetime achievement award)
Francisco Liriano (was great down the stretch. and I had to make an unsafe pick.)
T. Lincecum (kid is sick)
Comeback Player of the Year
Dennis Ray "Oil Can" Boyd