Tagged: may

Retro Reviews: See-Ya, Seattle (Originally posted 5-31-2013)

See-ya Se-attle: The Angels Resume the Sinking of the Mariners

After the insanity of the previous night’s game, where Mike Trout hit for the cycle, Lauren told me that even as she was up in Simi Valley, her brother sprung it on her that he wanted to go to the Angels game. Sadly, they had left the DeLorean back at the hotel, so he was unable to time travel in order to make it to the Big A on time for the game.

When I heard about this, I felt bad and suggested that we try to get tickets to the next afternoon’s game against the Mariners. We were able to get good seats in the Field Level for less than ten dollars a ticket, so back to the old ballgame I went.

Lauren’s brother is a Giants fan, pretty much one of the worst kinds of people. As we were planning the details for the baseball game I made sure to tell him that he could not wear his new Giants cap. I hate it when fans wear the attire of teams that are not participating in the game. All baseball teams are not created equal and just because something is baseball related, does not mean it is appropriate for every game.

He showed up not only wearing his Giants cap, but also a Houston Astros shirt. Neither of whom were playing. This essentially sums up my relationship with Lauren’s brother.

I was excited to finally see CJ Wilson take the mound at Angel Stadium. This would be my first time to see him in person since his big signing as a free agent the year before. I have always liked CJ, even when he was a hated Texas Ranger. He has been entertaining on Twitter and was one of the first big ballplayers to embrace the new media. Plus, he has always been a heck of a pitcher.

The Angels picked up right where they had left off the night before, including Mike Trout hitting a single and a triple in his first two at-bats. Alas, the dual cycle was not to happen, but the Angels put a hurt on Brandon Maurer, a local boy from the nearby city of Orange, and he was credited with giving up all seven runs. He lasted all of three innings, and the Mariner bullpen slammed the door on the Angels, shutting them out from the fourth inning onward.

The seven runs, though, were more than enough for CJ Wilson, who went eight strong innings and only allowed one run. Mike Scioscia inexplicably brought in Dane De La Rosa for the ninth inning, and even with that six run cushion, I was uneasy. Surprisingly, De La Rosa did his job, despite some two out dramatics, and the Angels lit up the Halo.

Continuing my luck from the Royals game, we were once again treated to visiting fans who don’t understand how to behave in another team’s ballpark. As the game was winding down, they weren’t rooting on their team, they were trying to incite the home team fans, in a game that they were losing quite handily. I don’t understand how standing in the front of the entire section and basically baiting  thousands of the opposing team’s fans makes sense, especially when you are being soundly destroyed by that opposing team.

I will be attending both of the Cubs-Angels games fully festooned in my Cubbie regalia, but I won’t be inciting the Angels fans. There is a way to conduct yourself with a sense of dignity while cheering on your visiting team. I will be cheering every home run and great play, but I will also not be mocking the local fans.

It’s just common decency as well as respect.

Until Next Time, Keep Trippin’ Baseballs!

Retro Review: Well, This Sox. A Solo Adventure (Originally published 5-23-2013)

I hate the White Sox. I have hated them as long as I can remember, being a rational Cub fan. The two factors that most fueled my vitriol during the most recent years, Ozzie Guillen and AJ Pierzynski, are no longer with the team, and with that I am not blinded by the hatred that I once was for the boys from the South Side. I still canNOT stand Hawk Harrelson, but if an obnoxious broadcaster is the pinnacle of my dislike, things have calmed down considerably.

All that being said, I really wanted to go to the May 16th game against the Sox. Not so much for the game, per se, but for the Mark Trumbo bobble head that was the giveaway that night. I had found cheap tickets after some negotiation with ScoreBig.com and both Lauren and I would be off work in barely enough time to head over to the Big A for the game. Then, reality hit. Lauren was sick and had been invited to see an opening day showing of the new Star Trek movie, which interested her much more than the Angels game. I was now at an impasse.

I really wanted that bobble head, but I had never been to a baseball game solo before. I am actually very loathe to be solo in public, as I irrationally assume that everyone is staring at me and wondering, “Who is the weird guy with no friends?” My desire for the knick-knack that I have no need nor space for outweighed my social anxiety and I decided I was going to go it alone.

Lauren picked me up from work and brought my change of clothes so I wouldn’t have to drag a bag full of smelly work clothes into the ballpark and dropped me off, en route to her theater for the movie. Since I had paid for 2 tickets, I was certainly going to get both the bobble heads that I had paid for. I initially thought that to get both bobble heads I would need to engage in all sorts of trickery and enter initially through Gate A, exit Gate B, hide the swag and enter Gate C, all while changing shirts and using a fake mustache to avoid being recognized.

In reality, I walked up to the ticket scanner, told the woman that I had 2 tickets, that Lauren would not be joining me but that I did want her bobble head. She looked at me, asked if I was sure Lauren wasn’t coming and upon my assent, yelled for the distribution elves to give me 2. Painless, but not nearly as exciting as my imagined spy mission.

I made my way out to right field and found my seat in an empty row and sat down to begin my solo adventure. I had the row to myself for awhile, until the sorority girls came by. They added quite an interesting element to the game with all of their insightful comments, which included the statement that they weren’t going to boo at all, because “…that would be, like, really bad sportsmanship” and the need to share details about exactly how they wanted their future weddings and boyfriends to be. And, of course they were ignorant Disneyland passholders. With no other human being to talk to, I got to listen to this banter for the entire duration of the game. Yay, lucky me.

Meanwhile, on the field there was a baseball game. The Angels actually held the lead for a vast majority of the game supporting a fairly solid outing from Jerome Williams until the fantastic bullpen duo of Dane De La Rosa and Michael Kohn made an appearance in the 8th. De La Rosa gave up the tying run and Kohn decided that Jeff Keppinger, he of the .188 batting average, should get his first walk of the season. With the bases loaded. With a tie score.

This, sorority girls, is why you boo.

The Angels failed to mount a comeback against Jesse Crain and Addison Reed and, despite having Reed on my fantasy league team, I felt no joy.

My first solo game was a success and I had lots of friends ask me if I would do it again. Absolutely, I would. The only change is that I think I’d bring a small FM radio to listen to the game. I had my iPhone with the MLB AtBat app, where I could listen to the game, but there tends to be a bit of a delay there and I didn’t want to be listening to a game on a 30 second to 2 minute delay that was happening live in front of me. That’s how accidental time travel occurs and nobody wants that.

Until Next Time, Keep Tripping Baseballs.

Retro Series: In Which the Angels Snap My Personal Losing Streak (Originally published 5-23-2013)

I recently found a great site online that operates like Expedia or Priceline, but for event tickets, where you tell it roughly where you want to sit, submit a bid and see if you can score a major discount on tickets. I discovered it the other day on Twitter when I randomly saw an ad for it, offering tickets that were valued at 35 dollars selling for bids of 5. I rolled the dice and once again, Lauren and I found ourselves at Angel Stadium on a Tuesday evening. And, of course, I once again found myself being shut out from any baseballs or autographs.

Not that I didn’t have my chance though. We got to the game early and the Royals were on the field. I trotted down from our seats to the field barrier and waited with a fairly large group of fans trying to get a batting practice ball. Greg Holland was warming up near us and any time a ball came to him, all the fans were just screaming “HOLLAND!” having read it on the back of his jersey. I tried a different approach, since I actually knew his name and yelled “Greg!” He finally got a ball, turned and threw it. It was coming right for me. And then, a ginger guy stepped right over to me, stuck his glove in my face and snagged my ball. He walked away for a moment, which was a wise plan on his part because I was steaming, but then had the audacity to come back a few minutes later. Needless to say, there were no more baseball tossed in my vicinity.

Following that, I went over and hung out by the Royals dugout for a little bit, but none of the players were around signing.

I read a lot of MLBlogs and just independent autograph/ballhawking blogs in general and am always astounded as the bloggers recount 5, 10 or even 20 baseball days and I have yet to get one this season? It seems very strange to me. I know I’m not the fresh faced little kid or a hot blonde chick, but then again neither are these other bloggers. What am I doing wrong?

But I digress. The Angels threw Jason Vargas on the mound versus Jeremy Guthrie. Guthrie was sporting a shiny 5-0 record and the Angels were floundering, so I was somewhat wary of the matchup, but I need not be worried. The big boys–Trout, Pujols, Hamilton and even lil’ Howie Kendrick homered and the Angels cruised to a 6-2 victory.

There was however a dark spot on this victory. That was the Royals fans who were sitting near us. The woman was probably no more than 30, was sitting in the front row and sporting a Royals t-shirt. That is all well and good. I can certainly understand wearing your team’s gear into an opposing stadium. Heck, I have only ever seen the Cubs as a visiting team. However, you do not then try to heckle the home team’s fans and get angry when your drunken actions get thrown back in your face.

She spent the first half of the game screeching at right fielders, Jeff Francoeur and Mark Trumbo, proclaiming her screechy love for Frenchy and vitrol at Trumbo. That was annoying, but it’s her right to do so. After a few beers, the second half of the game was mostly spent turned around shouting at the section of Angels fans behind her, her defense being that the Royals had a better record and had won the night before. I have never seen an entire section of fans turn on a single person like section F132 did on that woman. The entire section started booing her and as she and her partner left (before the game was over, mind you) she tried to start at least 2 fights. It was spectacular.

Like I said, it put a slightly bad taste in my mouth because even the Angels fans we had sitting around us were on the obnoxious side, but if that’s the price I have to pay to see them light up that Halo every game I attend, I will gladly bare that burden for the cause.

Until Next Time, Keep Tripping Baseballs!

Retro Series: “O” No, Another Halo Loss (Originally posted 5-7-2013)

It was “Little League Day” at the stadium. That pretty much sums up everything you need to know about our fan experience. Lots of kids and my seat ended up being kicked for a vast majority of the game. Despite that–and the final score– it was a good time at the old ball yard.

For the second year Lauren gave me Angels ticket vouchers, which were then redeemed for 2 tickets to 5 Angel games throughout the season and today’s game was to have been the first game of the season, but then other opportunities arose and it was, in actuality, my third of the young season.

Again, we arrived at the stadium early, even though we knew there was to be no batting practice, and again, we were shut out for autographs and baseballs. Rumor has it that Mike Trout was signing a few before the game, but we never saw him.

Today was a decent pitching matchup, Jerome Williams with a 1-0 record and no runs allowed versus Orioles #1 starter, Jason Hammel. I was hoping Williams would pitch well, and kick Joe Blanton out of the rotation, but that was not to be.

The Angels flexed their muscles in the bottom of the 1st inning, after Williams allowed a run in the top half of the inning. Trout stole a base and there were several “station-to-station” base hits and 3 runs scored as the team batted around.

This was a good thing. This was a throwback to the Angels division winning teams of the late 2000s, small ball being executed and opportunities that have lately fallen by the wayside were taken advantage of. This was not to last.

In the top of the 3rd inning, there was a delay of approximately 10 minutes, with no one on the field and no announcement made to the stadium, so of course, I took to my iPhone to see if anyone on the world wide interwebs had any idea what was going on.

As it turns out, home plate umpire Larry Vanover had gotten hit pretty hard by a Mark Trumbo foul ball earlier in the game, and was unable to continue, so the delay was for Manny Gonzalez to get on the home plate gear, as he moved from second base. It just would have been nice to let the fans know, since I spent most of the delay assuming the worst.

J.J. Hardy tied the game with a two-run home run in the top of the 4th and Mike Trout answered with a homer of his own in the bottom half of the inning, but, alas, that was the end of the Angels offense for the game.

Anemic offense notwithstanding, Dane De La Rosa’s performance in the game was nothing short of dreadful. Williams allowed 5 runs, but he actually left the game only trailing by a run–a still very winnable game, and then the bullpen…or more correctly, Dane De La Rosa gave up 3 runs in only 2/3 of an inning and put the game beyond the realm of a reasonable comeback, particularly with the Oriole relievers putting in a sparkling performance.

 

As I said before, despite the final score and all of the kids surrounding us, the game was quite enjoyable. Baseball games are made for lazy Sunday afternoons and the weather–overcast with temperatures in the lows 70s–made it quite comfortable out in the outfield pavilion.

It never ceases to make me laugh, though, to see how many people left early after the top of the ninth, presumably to “beat traffic.” First of all, with the masses that shared this idea, there isn’t much of an advantage to leaving at the same time as thousands of fellow “time conscious” fans. Secondly, it’s a late Sunday afternoon. Where do you have to go that you have to get out of the stadium immediately? Finally,  I have been a baseball fan long enough to know that however improbable, you do not leave a game before the final out is recorded. You never know what can happen. That’s the great thing about baseball. There’s no clock to tell you when the game is over, it doesn’t end until the last man has had his chance.

America!

That being said, the Angels went down in order after Josh Hamilton hit a leadoff double and we left the stadium with a much smaller crowd than if we had left the game early. This game leaves my record at 1-2 with both Angels games accounting for the 2 losses. If they don’t win the next time out, I might have to start looking at myself as a potential jinx.

Our next scheduled game is on the 21st for Mike Trout pint glass night versus the Mariners, though I may try to squeeze in a game on the 16th for the Mark Trumbo bobble head and to boo the hated White Sox. Only time–and my work schedule–will tell.