Great Seats, Bad Result

I have been busy since since Wednesday night so I have not had a chance to post about the game yet. We had great seats three rows back from the White Sox dugout for the 25th anniversary of my first game on the 25th. I thought that it would be a great night that perhaps Andruw Jones who wears the #25 for the Sox would help make it memorable by hitting a homer, or otherwise helping the Sox win. Sadly he went 0-3, and the Sox lost 4-2. They had a great chance in the ninth to tie up the game with a two out rally, but it was too little too late. Sometimes the outcome of the game can enhance the fun, but it does not determine how I think of the day. We had a great time watching the game from a new perspective. Continue reading

My First Time

Twenty five years ago today my father took me to my first baseball game. By the time I first set foot inside Old Comiskey Park I was already a baseball junkie. The great finish by the 1983 White Sox helped get me started. Seeing the team at the winter caravan which came to my town that off season really started me loving this team. I even won one of the door prizes which was an autographed ball by Minnie Minoso, Mike Squires, Ron Kittle, The Hawk, and Ribbie and Rubarb. 1984 was the first year that I started collecting baseball cards as well. Of course all of the cards that I really wanted had White Sox players on them. My summer was spent watching the White Sox on a small black and white TV that got WFLD in good enough to watch. This was in the days of rabbit ears and dials helping you fine tune a station. If you would have asked my nine year old self what the term HD I would have told you heavy duty. Just a couple of days before I turned nine though my father took me to see Comiskey Park which was in its 75th year. I normally will not post pictures that are not my own, but since I did not have a camera that day I had to make due with other peoples. Things will be back to normal tomorrow though. Continue reading

My 25 Goals For the 2010 Baseball Season

This year marks the 25th year that I have been attending Major League Baseball games. At first my attendance was sparse. I went when my father got free tickets from his company. We all know now that I will go whenever I can get a chance. I love lists. Lists are how you can look at things. So as this season progresses I will have a few lists on here. The first of those will be my goal sheet for this 25th anniversary season. Here are the things that I would like to accomplish during the 2010 season. Some of them have already been checked off. Some of them might take some work to get done. I will have to look at this at the end of the year to see how I fared. Here is the list:

  1. See the Arizona Diamondbacks play (5/1/2010) – Arizona is one of the two Major League teams that I have not seen play coming into 2010.
  2. See the Colorado Rockies play (5/17) – The other team that I have yet to see in person.
  3. Attend the White Sox game against the Orioles on 8/25/2010 – This is the day 25 years later that I attended my first baseball game. The stadium may have changed, but I still get chills when I walk inside.
  4. See the Toronto Blue Jays play – (5/7) The Blue Jays were the first opponent that I saw the Sox play.
  5. See Brian Bannister pitch (5/5/2010) – Brian is the son of former Sox hurler Floyd Bannister who pitched in the first game that I saw.
  6. See a game at U.S. Cellular Field (4/5/2010) – I checked off a few goals on Opening Day. This was one of them.
  7. See a game at Wrigley Field (5/1/2010) – This may be the territory of the enemy, but it is a landmark park in my own backyard. I also have some great memories inside this stadium.
  8. Attend Opening Day (4/5/2010) – This should be a goal every season.
  9. Attend a game on my birthday – I also try to do this every season. This year the Sox are in town, and they are playing the Yankees.
  10. Attend Frank Thomas day at the Cell – The day after my birthday (8/29/2010) they will be honoring the Big Hurt. I guess I will have to make it two in a row at the Cell.
  11. Attend a Red Sox game – I always enjoy games between the two Sox clubs. I would love to make this the first time for Fenway, but I will probably have to settle for the September matchup at the Cell.
  12. Attend a game at Miller Park – This stadium just north of us on 94 is a great one to watch baseball in.
  13. Attend a game at Comerica Park – I was here in 2003, but did not take my camera. Last season I visited all the parks that I did not take pictures at besides this one. We cross it off in 2010.
  14. Visit a new Minor League stadium – While MLB baseball is fun, MiLB baseball can be just as much fun. I need to find a new stadium to enjoy the action in this year.
  15. See Lyle Overbay play (5/7) – While I was in college I attended many South Bend Silverhawk games. Lyle was a star on those teams. He now plays for the Blue Jays.
  16. Attend the Midwest League All Star game – This year it is just down the road in Fort Wayne. What better way to see some of the young talent in the game?
  17. See an Angels game (5/20) – With the World Series year being five years ago I would love to see them play their ALCS opponent.
  18. See an Astros game – After visiting their stadium this season I wanted to see the team play in person. They were also the team we beat in 2005 to win it all.
  19. Attend at least nine games at the Cell this season – If I can accomplish this I will have attended 50 games at the Cell. It took a while for the first 50, but I bet the next 50 comes much easier.
  20. Road trip to a new MLB stadium – I have knocked out most of the stadiums near me. Although my brother does get married this season in Colorado when the Rockies are in town.
  21. See a game on 5/22/2010 – For some reason I seem to see a game every two years on this date. So this being an even numbered year it is time to see a game. I really have a problem huh?
  22. See a game against the Tigers, Royals (5/5/2010), Twins (4/11/2010), and the Indians (4/5/2010) – This one involves seeing all the AL Central teams.
  23. Snag a ball during a game (5/4/2010) – I have plenty of balls that I acquired during batting practice. This year I want to get one during a game. Update: I snagged a foul ball in the 4th inning of a game between Northwestern and Valpo. With less than 100 fans at the game it increased my odds a bit.
  24. Ballhawk at Wrigley Field – I have always wanted to just take the train up to Wrigley with no ticket and ballhawk. I guess this will have to be the year. No ticket required.
  25. Get a ball autographed by both Rich Dotson and Carlton Fisk – I met both of these guys at my first game in 1985. The both autographed my program. I would love to get a ball autographed by both players for my collection.

If I can do all of this I would have to say that I will have had a great year. We will see what happens over the course of the season

Great Seats for a Great Game

As promised tonight I was at the Sox game. I left for the stadium early to catch some batting practice. I have never seen the Scotty Pods seat in right center so I went over to it to see it. On the way I looked for any balls laying around since I was the first in the section, but none were to be found. I figured this was my best chance at getting a ball. I sat in the blue seat to get a view from it, and stood up to go and stand somewhere where I could get a ball. As I was grabbing my things a ball comes my way off the bat of Orioles rookie Matt Wieters. I moved over a couple of steps, put my mitt out, and reeled in the ball. My second ball of the year! After I started thinking about it I pulled in ball #1 when I was checking out the golden seat from Kirby Puckett’s World Series home run when Alexei hit a ball my way. This one was by Podsednik’s World Series home run seat. Apparently I just need to find historic seats in the park and I will get a ball. I would guess this means the Bartman seat at Wrigley. The picture to the left I thought was great. Apparently batting practice can be very tiring. Felix Pie walked all the way over to get the ball, but had to rest before picking it up and throwing it back in. Who said the life of a pro baseball player is easy? After batting practice I went to LaRussa’s stand to get a couple slices of Connie’s Pizza. What visit to the park would be complete without Connie’s? I then went to find the seat that I bought on StubHub this morning. I was shocked to find myself just above the Scout Seats behind the screen. Not bad seats for a last minute buy. I may definately have to sit here again.

John Danks stuggled early in his start, but battled hard to get through 6 1/3 innings only giving up three hits. He did walk six though during his outing. His last walk came around to score in the seventh on a Matt Thornton wild pitch for his only run given up all night. He had a bases juiced situation in the third, but pitched his way out of it. That gutsy inning kept him in the game. D.J. “Stirrups” Carrasco was warming up in the pen, and one more walk would have brought him into the game. Watching the highlights when I got home I saw that John’s index finger on his throwing hand was discolored for much of the game. I guess swapping gum for chew was not the answer after all. John was the answer tonight though. His strong outing was just what we needed. In a night of deja vu I realized that the only other time that I have seen a Major League game on August 22nd was last year. Danks pitched the same amount of innings, but came away with the loss after giving up three runs. He bettered that tonight.

The offense scored four runs, but could have had many more tonight. Carlos Quentin hit a bomb in the second inning to give the Sox the lead that they would not give up. He came up again in the fourth and got plunked on the first pitch. He scored on Mark Kotsay’s sacrifice fly. Alexei Ramirez is shown to the right hitting his RBI single in the fourth to score Jim Thome. He had a good at bat with the bases loaded, and came through. He would have plated Jim Thome again in the seventh, but his rocket off the wall was taken by Nolan Reimbold and fired into third to nail A.J. Pierzynski before Thome could cross the plate. The Sox had the bases loaded twice tonight, and only scored three runs in those opportunities. In the fourth they had the bases loaded with no outs. It seems like with this lineup we would score more. Although the speed of the lineup is what jammed the bases in the first place. The middle is more of a station to station group.

The bullpen pitched a solid game in relief of Danks. Thornton came in and was solid. If not for a wild pitch he would have completely bailed John out. Octavio Dotel came in and was good, and Bobby was Bobby. I think that Jenks has been watching clips of Bobby Thigpen to learn his craft better. Someone pulled him aside and explained that coming in and retiring the batters in order is boring. They showed him how to make things interesting. He did so tonight when he had the tying run at the plate with one out. He got Felix Pie to look horrible striking out for the second out. With two outs Adam Jones then hit a harmless ground ball to short to end the game. Overall the bullpen pitched 2 2/2 innings giving up only one hit, 2 walks, and one strikeout. We need more outings like this. One of my most vivid memories of Dotel was from that game last year on the same day. He faced three batters in the game. The first one hit a home run. The second one hit a double off of the wall, and the third hit a home run. That was the bad Dotel. We saw the good Dotel tonight, as we have for most of the season.
Tonight was my first chance to see Alex Rios, Mark Kotsay, and Jake Peavy in a Sox jersey. I was dissapointed pre game when I saw Rios was not in the lineup. Ozzie must have realized this error because he inserted Rios into the lineup in the ninth for defense. Mark Kotsay was in the game for Pauly tonight. I am not sure how I feel about that. It was cool to get my first chance to see Kotsay in a Sox uniform, but I would rather see Pauly play. Mark did alright tonight though. He made a couple good picks at first base on low throws. He also drove in a run in the fourth with a sac fly. In the picture on the right I can’t help but be reminded of Nick Swisher. As far as Peavy is concerned I only saw him during the anthem when he was standing next to Harold Baines. He never took the field, but it was nice to see this highly touted pitcher in a Sox jersey. The next step will be seeing him on the mound.

Deja Vu All Over Again

Tonight I am headed off to the Cell to see the Sox take on the Orioles. I may be sitting in the best seat I have ever sat in at the Cell thanks to Stub Hub. I will be right up the aisle from the Sox on deck circle. I will be in that seat to see John Danks go up against David Hernandez. John has been pitching better lately, and an article on the Sox web site credits his recent turnaround with kicking his chewing habit. You always see John with something protruding from his mouth. When we were in Minnesota John was directly in front of us during batting practice. He had seeds in his pocket, but he wasn’t acting like he was chewing seeds. No matter what he has done he has pitched better of late. His last win at home was on July 17th. Wait a minute…I was there…and they were playing the Orioles. Could this be deja vu all over again? David Hernandez on the other hand is 4-5 on the season with a 4.20 ERA. He has given up 12 home runs in 64.1 innings pitched. The important fact about Hernandez though is that he has never pitched against the Sox. The Orioles have thrown a lot of new faces at the Sox this year, and this is another one. Can the Sox solve the new pitcher in time to win the game? Hernandez gave up three bombs in his last start so maybe the league is figuring him out.

Last night Jim Thome hit home run #564 to pass Reggie Jackson for sole posession of 12th all time. In the July game that I saw against these two teams Thome hit two home runs (#’s 556 and 557) including a bomb to center for a grand slam. That home run was initially credited at 448 feet, but I have seen estimations of 560+. It was well struck for sure. The picture to the right is great because it shows Jim rounding second after the grand slam. I love the fan over his right shoulder pointing to where that ball landed. That was pretty much what everyone in the stadium was doing. We were all impressed. Maybe Thome can channel some of that magic again tonight and impress us again. They will need all the help that they can get. They are currently sitting at 62-60 on the season. More importantly they are 3.5 games behind Detroit for the Central lead. They have to make a run. They have to win games like last night because the next couple of weeks will be challenging to say the least. This is a fun team to watch, and I hope I can watch them well into October.

I had never seen the Orioles play before July. Now I will have seen them play twice in the same season. If I had any guts at all I would hop a flight to Baltimore next weekend to celebrate my birthday by watching Harold Baines get honored by the Orioles.

Thome Has a Grand Night

Last night I got to the park and saw the tarp on the field. I arrived early for batting practice, but I didn’t get as upset as usual when they were not hitting. I have been reading a book by Joe Posnanski called “The Soul of Baseball.” The book chronicles the authors journey around the country with Buck O’Neil. It is a great book, and I was happy to have some extra time to read it. If you like baseball this is a great book for you. Anyway I had a seat in section 149 for the Mullet Night festivities. This is a great section to get some good pictures of the Sox team as they warm up for the game. It is kind of interesting to see the different ways that the players get themselves ready for the game. Some players like Pods will warm up forever doing all sorts of exercises. Others get stretched by a trainer or they stretch themselves. Some play catch, and some play catch up with players from the other team. Everyone has their own routine that gets them ready for gametime. This year they had no Mullet parade around the field so most of the Mullet night festivities were confined to between innings. It was a good time, but nothing will compare to that first Mullet night when we walked on the field.

The game started simple enough. Both teams only sent three batters up to the plate in the first inning. Pauly hit a solo shot in the second that put the Sox up 1-0, and get the crowd going. Thome just missed a home run just before Pauly came up. Orioles left fielder Nolan Reimold pulled the ball off the top of the wall. Danks gave up a two run homer to Nick Markakais that gave Baltimore a 2-1 lead in the third. The Sox responded with two of their own in the bottom of the inning to take the lead back. Adam Jones then tied it up with a solo shot in the fourth. Jones looks like a good center fielder. His numers suggest that he can hit, and he seems to know his way around the outfield. It is interesting to watch a team with a good all around center fielder. The game then shifted to Jim Thome. He hit a line drive three run homer down the right field line in the fifth inning that gave the Sox a 6-3 lead. He then came up with the bases loaded in the sixth, and tried to hit the ball out of the park to straightaway center field. The ball looked as though it was headed to the plaque that the team erected for him in center for his bombs last year. The grand slam gave him 7 RBI’s in two innings. This is a great feat. I saw Tadahito Iguchi pull this off in 2006 during a Sunday night game, but Jim made it a little more interesting with the tape measure shot. They said the ball went 448 feet, but I don’t know how it was not longer. Thome had a great night and stole the show, but Scotty Pods had a good night as well. When he was brought back I could not figure out why. He has shown every game since he made it back what he can do when healthy. All he did last night was go 3-3 with two walks, a stolen base, and three runs scored. He reached base all five times he came up to the plate. More importantly he scored three of those times. We need this kind of production from the leadoff spot. Gordon Beckham was also on base four of five times last night. Maybe this offense is coming around.

With all of the good things that the offense brought last night we almost can forget about some of the bad things. One of those is Dewayne Wise who went 0-5 last night, and was the only Sox player not to reach base. He did get one ball out of the infield in the 7th though so maybe he is coming around. In the field he just looked lost last night. He had trouble on a couple of routine plays, and looked terrible on a couple balls that he had to run for. He hit the left center wall so hard on one of those that we watched to see if he would get up. At some point we have to cut ties with this guy. Ozzie likes him for some reason, but what does he really bring to this team? The relief last night also left something to be desired. Danks gave up 3 runs in 5 innings, and left the game with a 6-3 lead. The pen though decided to make it interesting. Linebrink gave up two runs and Thornton gave up three to keep some of the Sox fans in their seats a little while longer. Dotel gave up a leadoff double in the 7th, but fanned two of the next three batters to get out of the inning. From the first pitch it looked as if Octavio was going to have a rough day. In all the Sox pitchers gave up 8 runs on 14 hits. The Sox were actually out hit, but made the most of their 13 hits. Two other negatives were the errors by Getz and Ramirez. If we are going to take the Central and possibly go farther we have to shore up our defense. With the pitchers already struggling you can’t afford to give the other team extra chances.

Enough negatives though. This was an exciting game that helped the Sox gain a game on the Tigers who lost last night to the Yankees. I think that this team is good enough to make things interesting the rest of the year. The only question is how interesting will this get? We will know very soon as we will see some of the best that the AL East has to offer in the Rays and the Yankees in the next couple of weeks. That should be a good measuring stick.