June 29-30, 2007 - I Forgot The Fitting Headline Parenting Advice: As I may have mentioned before, Cooch HOF member Jonathan Comey is about three months into being a father, and I finally got around to going see his son on Friday. Most notably, the child appears to be already fascinated by television: it's probably the colors and the movement, but I don't know. Maybe he loves NBA TV's old game broadcasts on a deeper level.
Because Julie was there with me, and because she clearly has a way of making children fall in love with her, JC has decided he now has to convince me that children are an excellent idea. Unable to properly find the words to explain why having children is something people should do, he expained his feelings thusly:
"I guess the best way to put it is I feel like an asshole for not having kids sooner."
Sadly, I don't have the photos of Jonathan or young Benjamin to assemble to sort of poster I'm thinking of: him, holding his son in one arm, thumbs up on the other, "KIDS!" in rainbow colors above his head, that quote on the right.
It's the sort of thing that would hang in a very, very strange library. A Roman Catholic library.
With yet another losing season nearly halfway through, a group called Fans For Change encouraged patrons to leave their seats -- an intentional walk -- to show public displeasure with Pirates management.
An estimated 1,000 fans answered the call. Several hundred left after the second inning when the Pirates scored six runs, but the majority made for the concourses after the third inning as planned. Most of the 26,959 in attendance stayed in their seats. Some of them chanted "Let's Go Bucs" and booed the gesture.
Still, organizers considered the night a victory for calling out the organization on its operations.
"It's more than symbolism. This is the wake-up call. This sends a message," said Andy Chomos, who led the exit after organizing the grass roots protest on the Internet last month. "I'm ticked off. We want to see meaningful baseball in August and September again."
I love the idea that some Pirates fans booed people who are angry that their franchise pockets revenue sharing money and hasn't produced a .500 team since 1992. "How dare those assholes demand even moderate competency?"
And on the flip side, it was nice to see those willing to make a stand kept in mind what really important.
Prior to the game, several hundred supporters of Fans For Change rallied outside Hi-Tops on Federal Street. Police were on hand to shoo the crowd back onto the sidewalk after it spilled into the street. A bobblehead doll was smashed in the street as a way of telling management that real baseball fans were tired of giveaways and want to see quality baseball again.
-- Remembering to take your complimentary Bob Walk bobblehead when you're leaving.
Adam Foust, left, and Tim Tomayko, right, of South Buffalo, NY., and Kris Kramer, center rear, of Sarver, Pa., participate in a walk out after the third inning of a baseball game between the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Washington Nationals in Pittsburgh on Saturday. A group of fans walked out of their seats after the third inning of the game to protest the Pirates' 15 years of futility on the field. They returned to their seats after the fourth inning. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
There aren't a lot of people who can see they saw Jacoby Ellsbury's last game in Pawtucket (for now) and his major-league debut live on consecutive nights. I'd assume it's even more rare to have seen both from the seats, since the Red Sox aren't exactly the sort of team with whom you can go, "Oh, they called up their stud CF prospect? Let's go buy some walk-up tickets!"
Friday night was the visiting Nick's bachelor party, which consisted of the most dreadful PawSox game since they lost last Friday and me semi-inadvertantly moving the entire party from the sleazy local strip club to Dave & Busters -- something I honestly did not intend, but that did increase my whole enjoyment of the evening by an incalculable percent.
-- Mike had already drank enough to forego the "waiting for the slow people."
I'm not sure whether drinking enhanced the evening or merely made it roll along smoother, but I have to say, bravo to McCoy Stadium for their ample beer selection. The brew, however, didn't play a role in what would have made a hell of a column when the weekend was over: Ellsbury, early on Friday, missed injuring me with a foul ball by about four rows.
We were sitting in a place where the only balls that would be hit near us were going to be coming very fast, and he more or less screamed one just out of leaping distance above my head. Not that I leapt so much as instinctively crouched, which bodes well for my future involvement in any media baseball games.
Saturday, along with being the engagement party that made me again realize my own wedding is going to bankrupt my family, was the annual family Red Sox game. Annual, of course, meaning the first time I've actually managed to get things together and get my family to a game despite covering the friggin' team for four years.
As is their custom, the Red Sox celebrated my mother's presence in the park by blowing a sizable lead. She may not have seen them win since I was in high school, though that might be because she got heatstroke at the last three games she went to, forcing a retreat into the concourse.
Sadly, I do not have the picture she took of Matt with Wally the Green Monster, whom she didn't believe was booed mercilessly when he was introduced way back when. Even more sadly, there's no audio of the bachelor party that was going on directly behind us, complete with a groom who was forced to wear not only a Derek Jeter T-shirt, but a veil and a light-up Yankees hat.
Lost opportunity, I guess. I'm just glad my friends will eschew any attempts at concern about my feelings, force me into a strip club, make me drink until I pass out, then leave me in a shopping cart outside the hospital.
Well, everything until the last part. I'm sure they'll think it's much funnier to leave me in a shopping cart outside a supermarket.
June 28, 2007 - It's 2002 Again, Celtics Fans!
Patrick Scoble, 13, wears a homemade Apple iPhone shirt as he waits in front of an Apple store to be one of the first in line to purchase the new iPhone in Palo Alto, Calif., on Thursday evening. The iPhone is planned to go on sale on Friday. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Julie and I were discussing this afternoon waiting in lines overnight for things, and how rarely it is I can think of a situation where I have (or would). The only one I can remember of any significance is for Beanpot tickets, and that was both only once (as a freshman in Feb. 1999) and not even really waiting overnight. I met up with the people who'd waited overnight in Walter Brown Arena at like 7 a.m.
I remember getting up very early to wait outside Fenway Park for Red Sox tickets in Feb. 2003, and heading into downtown Springfield at a reasonable hour to go to a Ticketmaster seller for Barenaked Ladies tickets -- we ended up with third-row seats, which was more than enough for me.
Outside of that? I believe my family ended up outside a toy store in the next town over early one morning because Matty Cooch and I really wanted ... the original Super Soaker water guns. They were sold out everywhere, and it was the early '90s -- Wikipedia leads me to think it was 1990, since Matty got a yellow-and-green SS50 while I opted for the more powerful SS100.
Powerful in the sense that it would take longer for the current garden-hose Soakers to snap the thing, brittled by chlorine for so many years, into pieces.
It reached a point, after a while, where I just couldn't figure out why kids didn't just cut out the middleman and the molded plastic and start using a hose instead. Though now that I read Wikipedia, it's become clear -- it's much harder to mod a hose into a flamethrower.
June 27, 2007 - My New Favorite Time-Waster Rupert-Murdoch-Is-Buying-My-Ass Update: None really, though I'd just like to say:
-- New York Post - June 27, 2007
I'm pretty sure I could not only survive in this sort of journalistic environment, but thrive.
"Journalism at Work": With a whopping 12 more views than it had when I posted it, I'll keep it short. My two bosses teamed to break a wooden baseball bat, which was needed to be the centerpiece of that day's sports layout.
Course, it could have been a deflated basketball also, which makes it nice neither of them broke a finger or worse smashing the bat against trees.
Somehow, it wouldn't feel sporting if I started pulling "This Week's Stat That Time Forgot"s off this blog, which is basically nothing but stats that time forgot, but that are somehow related to the current day.
The audience is out there. Perhaps they even live near enough to Whale City that they care.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe caused an uproar in March when he said there was no proof that the government or the military had forced thousands of women, mostly Asians, into sexual servitude.
He has since apologized to the "comfort women," as the sex slaves are euphemistically known in Japan, and reiterated that he stood by a 1993 government statement acknowledging official involvement in the management of the brothels.
. . .
Historians say thousands of women -- by one estimate as many as 200,000 -- were taken to frontline brothels to provide sex for Japanese soldiers.
Chris Benoit: Nice to see the English are the ones that have a way of distilling things down, offering up the perfect lede to easily the most fucked-up story I've heard/read in months.
WWE legend Chris Benoit spent the weekend murdering his wife and son before committing suicide on Monday, American police have said.
I mean, what the hell else is there?
I can't believe I've forgotten to post this until now, so I give you "Journalism at Work."
Go ahead. Just let it soak in for a day, and I'll fill in the details.
And no matter how cringeworthy it may appear at points, no Whale City Fishwrap Picayune employees were harmed in the making of this film.
"It's like America running out of steak," said Tadashi Yamagata, vice chairman of Japan's national union of sushi chefs. "Sushi without tuna just would not be sushi."
I didn't look for very long, but sadly, I couldn't find an English-language Web site of the Japanese Union of Sushi Chefs. I would, however, like to invite them to march in next year's South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade. After all, I'm sure they'd just blend in with the rest of the ironworkers and whatnot.
"Fish that would have gone to Tokyo are now ending up in New York or Shanghai," said Sasha Issenberg, the author of 'The Sushi Economy' (Gotham, 2007). "This has been devastating to Japan's national esteem."
The Japanese are just a really odd culture of people, aren't they?
I never knew that Hyannis, Mass., is not actually a town, it's a village within the larger city of Barnstable.
I did, however, know one of the most fun things to do at a Cape League baseball game -- this one, for the sake of our discussion -- is look around the crowd and try to spot the girls at the game solely there trying to land a collegiate baseball player.
It's a fun game because it's always in play, given there's almost never a game where there's not at least one. Plus, it's multi-tiered -- there's the high school kids who are sort of half-assing it, and the college girls also in town for the summer who are totally playing for keeps.
Sadly, I have no photographic evidence of that.
-- Just that this guy got totally picked off. (Julie Flanders photo)
June 23-24, 2007 - Brown Water and FieldTurf Saturday: Accepting that nothing exciting happened, there's really no need to give it any more play than this:
And I don't even care, per se. It's more part of my re-education program.
Sunday ended up being a rather eclectic day.
-- Someone's too good for a Red Sox jersey with Swarovski crystals. (Red Sox Team Store, Yawkey Way)
-- The 767 looked bigger right over our heads. (South Boston. Honest.)
-- So many memories. Until now, none with figure skating. (Walter Brown Arena, Boston University)
And there aren't even any pictures of what ostensibly borought us into the city: the Phantom Gourmet Stand Around Waiting For BBQ Beach Party. Was the BBQ good? Sure. Was it probably worth standing in a line for 30 minutes? Maybe it's close, but it was hardly overwhelming.
I'm reasonably sure if I made ribs, the final product would have been somewhere in the vicinity of what I ate. Or, at the very least, close enough that my unsophisticated palate wouldn't care. Sorry, "Good Old Boys Bar-Be-Que."
I'd like to have tried a couple other companies stuff, but given the lines, we weren't really looking to spend the whole afternoon there. I took solace in drinking a beer in the labrynthy underbelly of Boston City Hall.
Course, all that was available was Bud Light. It was that kind of affair, though at least I didn't break my wrist like that one guy I saw bleeding as he was attended to.
And it all ended with Julie finding me a lacrosse ball to add to the gym locker that is my car trunk. Because for all the things I had, there really wasn't anything but the hockey skates that I could use in an attempted mugging as protection.
Random Aside: If you lived near a golf course, and enjoyed everything but the golf balls smashing stuff, would you then sue the golf course to the point that they'll probably have to close? If you said yes, you're not the only one.
Before buying a five-bedroom house in Maricopa, Ariz., Jenny Robertson scrutinized it, with her mother's help, according to feng shui principles to assess its harmony with its surroundings. Mrs. Robertson, who is not a golfer, barely looked at the tee box 150 yards from her backyard.
"We did not consider the feng shui of bad golfers," she said. "When I go outside, it's like dodgeball out there. I wish I knew that you have to be careful where you live on a golf course."
I wish you would get locked outside and wither to death in the broiling sun, but we can't all have what we want.
Even with its disputes, life on the Pequot reservation resembles the Magic Kingdom compared with the grinding poverty that afflicts many Native Americans. They typically confront unemployment rates of about 40 percent and per capita incomes of less than $13,000, a fraction of what a Pequot might spend on a car.
The gated community here, near the tribe's $18 million golf course, features rambling homes, manicured lawns and driveways filled with luxury cars. Under the tribe's profit-sharing system, each member 18 and older, working or not, receives a monthly payment that averages about $100,000 a year, tribal members say.
Tribal leaders make more. One tribal council member, in a court filing several years ago, said she had made as much as $1.5 million in a year. Each Pequot is also guaranteed a job, free medical care, day care and tuition at any private school or college.
Some tribal members say it has been too much too fast.
"My own nieces and nephews are ruined," said Robert Hayward, Richard's brother. Two of his sisters said their children were refusing to work or go to school. Tribal officials have acknowledged that some Pequots have also struggled with drugs.
If you've ever read "Without Reservation," this more or less keeps painting the picture. Me? I can't believe you could give an 18-year-old roughly $100,000 for nothing and have bad things happen.
What must be hard, though, is finding places to blow that kind of money when you live here. Centrally located by some trees and Custy's, which I presume inside must be like the last fringes before society hits full-on anarchy.
An all-you-can-eat buffet for just $67.50 fixed? Yeah, because that can't lead to some waddling up for that seventh plate of crab legs. At least in Vegas, there's the danger of wandering outside, where your bloated carcass can wither in the hot sun.
At Custy's, there's a Dunkin' Donuts just down the street for that refreshing cruller!
If I make speak purely independently from any feelings about politics or personal crusades:
Filmmaker Michael Moore, left, speaks at the Palace Theater in Manchester, N.H., after a screening of his latest film, "Sicko," as Julie Pinkham, a registered nurse and executive director of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, listens. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
If you can not crack a smile at a man that looks like this doing a study of America's (and the world's) health care systems, then you probably take things around you a little too seriously.
In a similar vein, I'd like to thank the Associated Press for moving the following photo of Zach Hamill, the Bruins' first-round draft pick:
-- Future NHL star, still learning to dress himself.
I would hate to work at a paper who decided this was their best choice for their section's main art.
Any by that I mean another paper who felt that way, though I'd have to guess I currently work for one of the few.
June 21, 2007 - Bukkets! There are some Internet phenomena I understand and enjoy.
June 20, 2007 - Western Mass., Trying To Rise Again Looks Like Suicide For Me: If you're gonna go, you may as well go via the food method. And what better options than via the Luther Burger or the Hamdog?
The Hamdog is a hot dog wrapped in a beef patty that is deep fried, covered with bacon, chili, cheese and onions, and served with fries on a hoagie bun topped with a fried egg. It has garnered national attention as a result of the national obesity epidemic and the South's infamous distinction as the "Stroke Belt". -- Wikipedia
I would like to believe that there are people who call parts of the South the "Stroke Belt," but I'm just not thinking it's real.
Every Springfield in the nation was invited to take part, submitting a three- to five-minute video showcasing their towns. Some had a cow over the idea.
Springfield, Minn., declined, saying it was nothing like the dysfunctional town on the TV show.
As the June 28 submission deadline approaches, the Springfields aren't giving away many details, just upping the ante.
"We just got Senator Kennedy to be in our Simpsons video," said David Horgan, producer of the effort in Springfield, Mass. "I can't give it away, but he's hilarious."
Last week, more than 300 people showed up to be in the final scene of the Massachusetts entry. "We had a hair salon dyeing hair blue," and piling it up like Marge Simpson's do, said Azell Murphy Cavaan, community relations director.
I can safely say that, despite being born there and living in the city limits until I was three, this is the most hometown spirit I've ever felt for The City of Homes.
This isn't even my picture ... as far as I can tell, I've never taken a picture of Springfield that was worth anything.
June 19, 2007 - There's Athleticism In There Somewhere RFK, Not OK: So says Jim Hawkins, whose life spent in the shadow of Detroit makes me think he knows a thing or two about hovels.
From my seat in the antiquated press box, peering through a 2x3 foot pane of glass, I can't see the shortstop or the first baseman. I can see the pitcher and the catcher -- but not both at the same time. And, I swear, the hot dog wrapper I discarded under my seat 36 sultry Washington summers ago, was still there Monday night. OK, maybe it was somebody else's hot dog wrapper. I didn't put ketchup on mine.
They claim they spent $18 million to fix up RFK for baseball's return. If true, they got gypped.
Getting to RFK these days is easy -- as long as you know where you're going. Because the cabbies certainly don't. After the game, it's not hard to get a taxi outside the ballpark.
It's impossible. Cabbies won't go into this neighborhood after dark. Obviously, cabbies are smarter than baseball fans.
There is a warning posted near the exit to the Tigers' locker room which reads: "Due to the area and location of RFK Stadium, we are unable to get cabs/taxis/town cars/limos after the game. Please take the bus."
This borders on something I can't honestly believe, but it's clearly real. He didn't make it up.
"Please take the bus." And let's not forget, they left Montreal to go to Washington.
The quotes when they open the new park ought to be a fun read. Though Livan Hernandez probably won't make my dreams come true by comparing RFK to Cuba in any way.
Today, Julie and I had a nice little lunch out in the fields around Fort Taber. During it, the baseball gloves and a ball were brought out.
Suffice to say, were I to get involved in any sort of media baseball games with actual baseballs and pitching and all of it, there would need to be a training period. Ghastly's not even the proper word.
It only could have been made better if that was the moment someone from the public recognized me, and realized why me writing about baseball is a far better option than me playing baseball.
June 18, 2007 - Put It Right Next To Pittsburgh Had I actually looked at the Baltimore Sun link I'd posted regarding Sam Perlozzo at the time I posted it, I'd have seen that he'd already been fired by the time I wrote what I wrote.
That makes me feel good ... as though the obvious can't slip by me.
They're still the worst team I've seen all season, but this weekend, I remain more in shock that Sam Perlozzo still has a job. How can they lost that many in a row and not fire their not-good-at-managing-baseball manager?
June 15-16, 2007 - They Should Call The Green Giant Find The Loser: I'll give you a hint.
-- Thanks, Globe staffer whose name I forget.
The whole experience was rather anti-climactic, though only if you go by the standards put forth by a lot of other people. There were so many people crowding in the dugout for his Friday press conference, I gave up and propped my recorder in front of a speaker broadcasting it.
Also the Giants are easily the worst team I've seen all year. I can't even imagine what Matt Cain must feel like -- 2-7 with a 3.15 ERA, thanks to getting three runs or less of support in 11 of 13 starts.
A S*d Tale -- The best headline on any column of mine I can remember.
1) On Friday and Saturday, I found the exact same free on-street parking spot on Buswell St., between the exact same two cars on both days. Both times, I found it after about 10 minutes of looping around like an idiot, but the reward makes it worth it.
2) Southwest Airlines, despite the flight calamities of the trip out to Phoenix not at all being their fault, sent Julie and I matching $150 flight vouchers. They were spent immediately, since the prospect of paying $500 a ticket to go to Albuquerque next month wasn't exactly filling me with glee.
Ihop, which has about 1,300 locations and half the market value of Applebee's, said in February it may acquire a chain that isn't a competitor. Applebee's, with 1,900 casual-dining restaurants, began seeking a buyer after shareholder Breeden Capital Management LLC nominated four board candidates in December and called the stock's performance a "disaster.''
Applebee's "is in the middle of a transition,'' Malcolm Knapp, a New York-based restaurant consultant, said today. "It's going to take a lot of work.''
Applebee's stock declined 4.1 percent in the three years that ended Feb. 12, the day before it said it may sell itself. Darden Restaurants Inc., owner of the Olive Garden and Red Lobster chains, rose 86 percent during that time, while California Pizza Kitchen Inc., with about 200 restaurants, almost doubled. -- Can't imagine why that would be. Are you trying to tell me restaurant success is based on something?
Troikas tend to be more evil, though, so I hope this would only be the start of an amassing of power. Even though they'd already have all the day's meals covered, including the late-night "we just lost the high school championship in something" pity feast, there must be something they can add.
I'd say Friendly's for the dessert market, but they're based in Western Mass., more regional and awesome in their mediocrity. There was a period in the high school years where my blood was probably a minority percentage of the grease ingested from eating "Munchie Mania" appetizer platters.
Thanks to our section losing an entire page for some reason, and arguably the biggest sports news day we'll have until September, you'll have to wait a day to read the article which includes my riveting, two-sentence interview with Doug Mirabelli about Barry Bonds.
The first sentence says he knows Barry Bonds. The second sentence says he's not comfortable talking about Barry Bonds.
Shit. I gave the whole thing away.
June 13, 2007 - Damn, They Noticed Fall On The Ice: I took special note this afternoon of the following press release:
FORMER FRIAR BRIAN BURKE LEADS ANAHEIM DUCKS TO STANLEY CUP TITLE
Second-year Executive Vice President/General Manager guides Anaheim to first ever championship.
(June 13, 2007) PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Former Providence College men's hockey player and current Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Anaheim Ducks, Brian Burke, led his team to its first ever NHL Stanley Cup championship on June 7. Anaheim won the best-of-seven series against the Ottawa Senators (four-games-to-one) and became the first West Coast team to capture the Stanley Cup.
Burke, who played in 112 games at PC from 1973-77, became the second former Friar (while serving as a general manager) to help an NHL team capture the Stanley Cup title. Lou Lamoriello '63, who was a player, head coach and athletic director at PC and is the current CEO/President and General Manager of the New Jersey Devils, has guided his team to three Stanley Cup crowns.
Please note that the Stanley Cup Finals ended on June 7, and that this press release was issued on June 13.
Apparently, it took Providence College -- players in the premier college hockey conference in the East -- six days to either figure out that Brian Burke played four years for them in the '70s, that Brian Burke is a pretty high-ranking executive with the Cup champions or that it was something worth noting for a program that has played in exactly one NCAA tournament in the past decade.
Never mind that the 2000-01 Friars snagged their bid behind one of the great forgotten defeats of my BU history -- the junior year, record-breaking 2-OT season ender at Schneider Arena. I'm pretty sure I listened to most of it on the radio at the Daily Free Press office, which doesn't say nearly enough about how depressing it was.
Perhaps A Problem: The New York Times, in among the whiniest ways possible, notes that owners have finally decided giving the media the best seats in the house isn't cost-effective.
The original press box at the 16-year-old U.S. Cellular Field was a fine place to cover a White Sox game. From their nest behind home plate, reporters could easily discern the spin of a curveball or hear the thwack of bat on ball.
But this year, the White Sox gutted it and remade it into the Jim Beam Club, with 200 theater seats and barstools that cost $260 to $315 each; when sold out, the club could generate $4 million or more in revenue.
"We were giving the press the best real estate in the building, slightly elevated behind home plate, which they don't need," said Jerry Reinsdorf, the real estate investor who is chairman of the White Sox.
When asked why he moved the press to a much worse vista two levels up and along the first-base and right-field line, Reinsdorf unhesitatingly said, "Financial."
While it would be very easy for me to laugh heartily:
-- My seat, 2005 AL Division Series
I'll instead note the Red Sox presumably spent massive amounts of money this offseason to upgrade what was already baseball's biggest press box, with the rich people seats on both sides and below.
Also, the Gillette Stadium press box is fine. It would be better if it wasn't in the high corner, but I'm young enough to not remember the good old days when two writers from my paper snuck onto the Foxboro Stadium sidelines during the Snow Bowl Game.
Now, I've heard a lot of complaints through the grapevine about the press box at the new Busch Stadium. I have no doubt it wasn't the greatest working environment, since I've heard them from more than simply reporters.
Again, I bear in mind that for the 2004 World Series, I sat in an auxiliary box behind the right-field foul pole and next to a dripping steel beam that made it necessary to rig up a "Cooch avoids seven hours of water torture" set-up. Not being snarky, merely passing along my stories from the fringes of modern baseball media.
However, at no point should you ever say the words:
"Last year, it was a gulag."
and expect anything other than readers around the country to respond with:
Course, they won't all use that exact venacular, but the message will be the same.
Completely Unrelated Poker Story: This afternoon, I called a pre-flop raise of 3x the big blind with 22, then hit a third two on the flop. When the raised bet the pot on the flop, I raised to 3x the original pot. He thought, then went all-in for the current cost of an HD-DVD player. I called him.
On the turn, I got the last 2, giving me four of a kind and an unbeatable hand.
On the river, he got another king to go with his pocket KK, perhaps giving him a heart attack for a half-second before totally ruining his day.
June 12, 2007 - Chasing Harmonic Convergence: While buying water in the airport before the flight home, I spied this -- Blender Magazine's cover girl this month is a topless (plus conveniently placed text) Avril Lavigne.
The part where she's called "Billie Joe Armstrong in a training bra" feels very, very accurate.
So This Is How They Do It: Tuesday night's Sox game, a 2-1 win that wrapped in 2:25, was the shortest Sox game I've seen since the second home tilt of the season: Felix Hernandez's one-hit, 2:22 masterpiece.
Since June 1, I've seen games of the following lengths: 3:54, 3:39, 4:04, 3:46 and 3:41. Honest to God, I was beginning to wonder if it was actually possible to play any quicker.
You can love baseball, but that's like being hit by a car over and over and over.
The above list features Saturday and Sunday's game at Chase Field, a place about which I'm legitimately torn.
That, in a nutshell, is what Chase Field is. Not a bad place to watch a baseball game, but somewhere where so much energy is spent just trying to get the fans to make some damn noise.
There's an awful lot of like about Chase, where the all-time attendance record was broken on Saturday night -- it took boss Josh to figure out that World Series games, while very popular, probably lose much of the 11/3/2001-6/9/2007 difference to overflow media seating.
-- Still awesome, six years and a world championship later.
There's nothing overly campy about the park, not even the pool, which just kind of fits. Complaints apparently abound about it being too antiseptic, a kind of place built by engineers with no character, but I kinda liked it. The windows on the back wall and the roof line give it a unique character. (Bear in mind it was built before all the other 'convertible' parks but SkyDome.)
The upper decks are absurdly steep -- we sat in Row 31 of 33 on Saturday night, and it was not a fun climb -- but it helps make you feel somewhat close to things. Plus, there's plenty of places to walk around taking pictures, which is how I ended up spending most of Sunday after scrapping the idea of writing/sitting in the press box.
The problem is, though, that it's not Boston. It's not East Coast baseball, even if the place was absolutely overrun by Red Sox fans -- Nick told me that during the post-game on Friday night, the guy on the radio seemed apoplectic that the term "Red Sox Nation" was so real. I know that's not fair, but that's what I grew up in. Even if Phoenix does support their team, and even if they do have a long history of being sporting-mad through the Cactus League and the colleges in the area, it's a basketball town. It's a Suns town.
Now, I have no idea if Suns games are all "Get up off your feet and make some noise!" This is the place that gave the world the Suns Gorilla.
Every moment is an exhortation to make some noise. There's in-game hosts. There's main scoreboard messages. There's a wrapping video board.
It's baseball, people. Why not instead of using the scoreboard for that, and extended video screens of players headshots, you show a replay every once in a while? Now that, that's a function of the press box. I'm very used to seeing a pitch or a play, then turning to watch it on replay.
Impossible in Chase, unless you're standing in the outfield by the TV screens in the Diamond Club. (An idea, in and of itself, that isn't a bad one. Though you then can't see a large chunk of the outfield.)
All in all, I enjoyed the pair of games there, though that was going to happen regardless of anything else.
-- This was easier than smiling, apparently.
I'm just left wanting a little bit is all.
June 8-11, 2007 - Next Time, I'll Try Catapult Never Once: While I wasn't in a position Sunday to do so, nor have I have access to HBO since I was very young, neither of those reasons had much to do with how I managed not to watch one episode of The Sopranos during its entire run.
I don't know why, but I've never cared. I know there are people that loved it, most of whom spent the last 24 hours gnashing their teeth about the series ending, well, open-ended.
That's not surprising. Yes, maybe it is a bit of a cop-out or a cheap ploy, but people also hate to think. People are angry because they've spent years of their lives being romanced by a mobster with a conscience, and now they have to wonder what happened to him.
You really want to know? He made a million bucks an episode, he'll spend the next several years trying to sort of distance himself from being Tony Soprano, then when he's old and gray, he'll join the rest of the ensemble going to casinos and signing autographs on pictures of himself as Tony Soprano.
Well, maybe he'll save his money. But they were just in Connecticut a couple weeks ago, and the show wasn't even over yet.
Not a bad head of steam for a show I never watched. Imagine what I could do with motivation.
I did not see this until Sunday morning, but leave it to a free alt-weekly picked up from a rack outside a breakfast place to hit all a weekend's high points.
What this doesn't feature, however, is another blissful day of air calamities. It was apparently national news that on Friday, an FAA computer glitch (plus thunderstorms that dominated the nation's spine) sparked scade of delays. Our first flight of the day, from Providence to Philadelphia wasn't affected -- that delay was due to a kid having a seizure as we were boarding, and all it did was eat up a two-hour layover.
Our 3:15 p.m. flight from Philly to Phoenix, however, instead left Philadelphia at exactly 10 p.m. Which meant it landed in Arizona at 3 a.m. Eastern time, which not only led to us missing the entire Friday night blowout, but put my recovering-from-illness self all the way back to before square one.
Early Saturday morning, I pretty much lost my voice entirely. I still haven't gotten it back, beyond sounding like I smoke seven packs a day.
Julie is calling my behavior on Friday our first real tiff, since I had the same sort of "I need to be mad at something, and there's nothing I can be mad at" reaction I did to the weather delays out of Fort Myers in March.
The worst part is we almost beat all of it: We boarded the 3:15 p.m. flight, then were told there was a mandatory four-hour delay. Deplaned, back on at 6:30 p.m., then sat in the plane until 10 with 80 other aircraft on the tarmac.
-- Apparently taken after the air marshal tranquilized me. (That never happened. I kind of wish it had.)
Julie, to her credit, resisted what had to be a very powerful urge to punch me in the face. She also called our friends to keep them updated, which saved me from trying to do and ending up either crying or swearing profusely.
I am 27 years old and not proud. She does God's work all the time, apparently.
Perhaps most enjoyable, though, was that our Monday afternoon flight was also delayed ... a whopping 12 minutes. The pilot and crew kept making it a point to apologize profusely about it on the voyage, which I suppose could have been because they figured a lot of the passengers had issues flying out -- as reports from Nick on down made clear, there were A LOT of Sox fans in Arizona. I'd like to believe, though, it was solely to force me to address the absurdity.
Despite all this, the weekend was an outstanding time. Both Nick and his fiancee Rachel, who will serve as wedding two of 800 in my 2007 of Hell, have done quite well for themselves out in the desert, if you're willing to discount the former being laid off from his job largely because he worked for a company owned by a newspaper conglomerate.
-- This is their dog, Pixie. Hobbies include chasing a soccer ball, being scared of a Coke can full of pennies and being awesome.
The Phoenix area -- they live in Tempe, in the vicinity of Arizona State -- has a lot of the benefits of Los Angeles (In-N-Out Burger among them), but isn't covered in smog and isn't, well, Los Angeles. It is constantly sunny, even if Monday was a rare cloudy day for a few hours, and grass is largely a parlor trick reserved for those willing to groom their lawns like it was their hair.
-- Chex Nick and Rachel. Not showing the patio and backyard, featuring its currently felled tree and dog droppings (which I've dubbed "Pixie dust").
We weren't able to see a lot of the surrounding area given all the baseball and the loss of one whole evening, but as someone who was once told by a pretty legit survey that the ideal place for me to live was Arizona -- Tucson, I believe -- I came away impressed.
My mother, bless her heart, made sure moving to Arizona was among the first things I promised not to do when she talked to me on Saturday.
I'll get more into the baseball talk on Tuesday. For now, though, there's lots of pictures, none of which include Monday morning. Monday morning being when I tried to get rid of a headache with an Advil, had my body react violently to the Advil, then ended up regurgitating Sunday night's dinner of Diablo Chicken Pasta, sliced jalapenos and all. Man, was that a great experience.
I can't stress this enough: that I had a great time this weekend is a testament to how superb the weekend could have been if I was only a functioning human being for most of it.
June 7, 2007 - Visiting New Winnipeg Had Curt Schilling actually completed his no-hitter, I would have had to work on my vacation. (Which should not be confused with Sunday, when I plan to work on my vacation.)
The more alarming part for me, other than my night largely being shot, was that I hadn't started watching the game until the eighth inning. I saw the score in the first, then went off to between watching the MLB Draft online and making what I presume will be a catastrophic decision somewhere down the line.
Day One was without major incident, unless you count two times getting dealt pocket pairs and two times those becoming quads on the flop. Of course, neither time anyone else had anything, so I didn't make much money from them.
I'll take it for now.
Be back on Tuesday morning, presumably.
June 6, 2007 - Remembering Winnipeg Today's Quote Taken Completely In Context: Rupert Murdoch, who continues to indirectly try to buy my ass, in a Wall Street Journal interview.
WSJ: On behalf of our colleagues, you say that retaining the team of journalists, editors, management would be a key priority for News Corp. What would you do to retain the team?
Mr. Murdoch: Huge raises for everybody. [Laughter] I'd have to see when I get in there. But I would have thought that the editors who are there in the different areas from what I've heard have the support of their staffs and I will try and build that up. You've got to have really strong leadership and excitement and things going. That's also got to go on the business side because they've got to get some more advertising. I mean the profit of The Journal is very small if you look at the reports. Those silly little Ottaway papers make more than the Journal does. -- Ottaway, of course, being the group to which the Fishwap Picayune belongs.
Bodes extremely well for my future, I think. Though it's not as though it's shocking, given the chain's namesake appears to deeply hate the man and/or what he stands for.
All I can keep thinking of, though, is Murdoch on 'The Simpsons.'
-- Not the Super Bowl episode. The "Behind The Laughter" episode, where both he and Homer are unable to sign their own names.
Today's Despressing Story Involving Fat People: In the pantheon of ways you don't want to die, this has to be top five.
A 41-year-old man drowned in a storm sewer in an apparent attempt to retrieve a dropped cell phone, according to the Sheboygan Police Department.
The man, who weighs more than 300 pounds, climbed headfirst down a vertical sewer in front of his home at 3204 N. 12th St. and became stuck with his head underwater, said Lt. Tim Eirich.
He was unconscious when rescuers pulled him out and began performing CPR, and was pronounced dead about 1:25 p.m. at Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center, police said.
The best part is the cell phone was probably busted after falling in the water.
Anaheim Ducks celebrate their Stanley Cup win over the Ottawa Senators, 6-2, in Game 5 in Anaheim, Calif., on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
Two really nice things about the whole affair:
1) Commissioner Gary Bettman everywhere he goes and every time he appears on the ice, even when giving out hardware in Anaheim, which probably only has a team because he's forced hockey into sunny markets.
2) Bettman's reached the point where, confronted with NASCAR clearly having usurped the NHL as America's fourth major sport, he'll belligerently say on camera, "Looks like hockey's doing pretty well in California!"
I asked out hockey writer Mick whether that made him throw his remote threw the TV screen the way I thought it would, but he said he didn't let it ruin the moment of Teemu Selanne's genuine tears.
I remember when Teemu Selanne played for the Winnipeg Jets, and scored something like 90 goals in a season. (Editor's Note: It was 76, in his rookie season of 1992-93.)
Hell, I remember when there were Winnipeg Jets. Before I knew I'd be searching eBay for a cheap jersey as a 26- and 27-year-old, they were a farm team for the Springfield Falcons, whom I actually cared about in those days.
June 5, 2007 - Sick About halfway through tonight's shift at the office, when I was about three local stories in to the 10 or so I'd be reading, my body decided that I really am sick.
Full-body achiness and an inability to swallow make it surprisingly difficult to read stories about high school sports.
Fortunately, I've heard the best thing for such a condition is to go to a place where high temperatures are supposed to be 98, 100, 102 and 104.
Small solace? Sunday's pitching match-up will apparently be Daisuke Matsuazaka vs. Randy Johnson. If I had any saliva in my mouth and throat, I'd be drooling.
Though I almost entirely forgot about it, today marked my fifth anniversary as an employee of The Standard-Times.
I had known that I was due a free gift for five years of service, and I'd been a little surprised I hadn't yet received the catalog from which I would choose it. It was sitting in my cubs when I got to work tonight, but I was honestly so tired from the weekend, I didn't really give it a whole lot of thought.
Later in the evening, it came up in conversation, which led someone to ask when exactly my anniversary was.
"Oh. It's today, I guess. Yeah, look at that." -- Good thing the phone system shows the date.
Looking over the old entries from June 4ths past, it's like most notable anniversary dates on here -- some years I make a big deal out of it, some years I don't mention it at all. For example, June 4, 2005 was apparently the day I figured out the New England Revolution don't actually have a radio broadcast team, they just air the audio from their TV broadcast and call that fit for radio.
I can not stress enough how much better a Revolution game would be to attend if they'd somehow, somewhere, build a soccer-sized stadium and move out of Gillette Stadium, which is arguably 10 times too big.
In saying that, the 2002 MLS Cup they played in front of 61,316 now feels like an otherworldly event that may never have happened. For whatever reason, I can't fathom such a thing ever coming together the way that did ever again. They probably had 25,000 tickets available for sale, never mind sold, three weeks before the game.
My memories of how this all started aren't so much tied to my actual first day of work, outside of remembering I saw a sewage truck on the way from Feeding Hills to New Bedford. I remember where I got the official job offer -- in my parents' Bonneville, driving on Commonwealth Avenue toward Kenmore Square, 45 minutes after I'd finished my last shift at the College of Engineering Copy/Mail Room.
I remember first realizing I was really in the job world on July 4, when I had to work and was stuck watching Whale City's fireworks display -- which I'm pretty sure has been discontinued -- from the office window.
But June 4, 2002? I remember filling out some paperwork. That's it. Looking at that day's entry, I now remember I spent a long time on the new employee profile for the company newsletter, which I'm pretty sure was discontinued around that point, thus meaning all my witticisms never saw more eyes than mine.
Looking, I also needed only eight hours to proclaim that my co-workers in Nashua were more fun. Bear in mind in the intervening five years, we're invented a game that's little more than racing around the office in chairs, we're retired a game that consisted of trying to hit a door with a hockey puck from about 150 feet away, my former sports editor introduced me to poker, we've summoned the fire department by striking a smoke detector with a hit Wiffle-style ball and we're currently seeing how fast we can all throw with a radar gun that just kind of ended up in our department.
Perhaps I should change the site's logo to a large grain of salt.
The obligatory statement about "If I knew then that not only would I still be here in five years, I'd have a completely different, far better job" is relevant, but also kind of poignant. The whole journalism profession has changed tremendously in five years, to the point that much of the discussion in the office tonight was about Rupert Murdoch's continued attempts to buy our parent, how our managing editor has sold all his Dow Jones stock and how much we could presumably sell for if paired with our sister paper on the Cape.
I, of course, have no Dow Jones stock, having thirce passed on the idea of buying any at our discounted price because I'm very, very smart. Have I mentioned I'm not in the 401k either? I have now.
If forced to answer where I see myself in five years, my answer would be "out of journalism entirely." I don't know why I feel that way, nor do I know whether the idea of working in sports information at a college or somewhere in baseball is either fruitful, intelligent or feasible.
All I know right now is that I'm leaning toward the 10-inch stainless steel skillet and cutting board set as my five-year gift. I don't need a watch or any sort of candle holder, I already have a globe, I have no rifle on which I could use a rifle scope and the Fiesta Station, while it would clearly be the most hilarious thing I could choose, probably isn't a very practical choice.
I actually kind of want some sort of plaque, just saying I worked here for five years. I'm actually a little disappointed that there's not any items that just have engraved on them "The Standard-Times -- Five Years."
What can I say? I've fallen the state's southeastern hovel.
-- Viva Whale City!
June 2-3, 2007 - Cheering Against Ortiz Loser America: You'll have to take my word. The column is apparently gone, and I really didn't like it enough to go try to find it again.
I suppose I could just post it on here myself, but let's just say I wasn't that excited by it.
This doesn't matter and really doesn't mean anything, but I responded to someone asking what the odds Alex Rodriguez would strike out on Jonathan Papelbon's 0-2 pitch with "just more than the odds that he will hit a screaming home run somewhere."
I'm generally tired. On my way to my car, I saw a rain-soaked ESPN Boston promotional card reading "$252 Million? Hah!" I was going to take a picture of it and make it the whole update, but there were people behind me who might have wondered what the hell my problem was.
In what may surprise some, I generally try to avoid that.
Actual updates will return on Monday, since I'll again be able to absorb that there's a world not involving baseball.
First, however, a story. As most of you know, Friday night's Sox-Yankees game capped with a bench-clearing incident, sparked by Scott Proctor hitting Kevin Youkilis with a pitch. Though it appeared it hit Youkilis in the arm, he said it hit him in the helmet. Whatever.
On Sunday morning was the annual Boston-New York media baseball game at Fenway Park. The teams already played their game at Yankee Stadium, with New York winning their 11th straight -- the streak dated to 2001, with the teams playing twice a year.
Well, the streak is now over -- Boston won 14-7. However, late in the game, life imitated, well, athlete life:
Then, believe it or not, we nearly had a brawl with the Boston media. New York reliever Bob Klapisch accidentally hit Boston Spanish radio broadcaster Uri Berenguer in the helmet with a pitch.
Berenguer took Kevin Youkilis-like exception to the pitch and tempers flared on both sides. Boston manager Carl Beane, the Fenway Park PA announcer, had to be held back from attacking a few of our guys. Beane manages the game wearing an entire Red Sox uniform. I kid you not.
I will say this about the New York media, we don't back down when the benches clear. We were more riled up than the Yankees were on Friday night. I wish I were kidding, but I’m not. We were a few seconds away from a full-out scrap. -- Pictures here.
I have made absolutely no effort to get myself into the media game. As much fun as I'm sure I would have, given I stopped playing baseball because I couldn't hit when I was 12, I don't think the intervening 15 years have changed anything other than eliminating my ability to cover that with above-average play in center field.
Not way above average, mind you. But enough.
June 1, 2007 - Loser America I Spied: Pulled behind a van today from Lauricella Electric, whose slogan is "Let us remove your shorts."
Though I don't know for sure, I don't think their secondary slogan, say, on the front of their vans, is "... promise we won't f&%$ you on the price!"
Airports, Mortality and The Truly Captive Audience nothing to loose your hair over... -- Trust me, the spelling only gets better from there. Though I should talk, given I've never said "Sorry about the spelling mistakes and grammar, but I don't have the strength to proof it."
I do like this, though:
I wish I could hang a sign around my neck that said:
1. No, he's not really that mean in real life. I like him.
2. It was really amazing, and challenging...but I'm extremely grateful because I've been working very steadily for the past 4 (plus or minus) years, doing what I love. It gave me my "Big Break"
3. Yes, we keep in touch. We're friends, and she’s doing really well.
4. A new album, TVGuide Channel hosting, and a film called "Fast Girl"
5. Who should I make it out to? No, seriously it's no bother...it's part of my job, and I'm glad to do it.
After spending time in the MassMutual Center green room, I can only imagine disillusionment isn't far behind.
Speaking of the Falcons, they're apparently holding a contest where purchasing any season ticket plan makes you eligible to win a trip to Edmonton, their new parent club.
Springfield to Edmonton ... something just feels right about that sort of baffling match-up.
I was told I needed to write a column about "Stray-Rod" tonight, which you can imagine did not exactly fill me with glee. I did so, and now I can't find it on our Web site.
That will be remedied, though I limited my backhanded slaps to phrases like "Loser America" and mentioning On The DL, which got a lot less interesting once they stopped running pictures of Al Leiter playing beer pong/Beirut/some other variant on the BC campus.