Friday, July 13, 2012

Red Sox Perfect In Second Half

Papi hit a major dong in the first. Pedro sneaked a single through the middle with the bases loaded in the second. 3-0 us, and that's all we needed. Franklin Morales and a bunch of relievers combined to give up one run, which was unearned. Great play late in the game on defense. Tying run up, man on second, liner to Sweeney, who makes a quick throw to Aviles, who fires a strike to Punto to get the guy at third, double play. Red Sox beat the Satan Rays 3-1.

1-0 to start the Unofficial Second Half.

Guest Post: Wryan's Wrigley Wrap-up (Part 2)

Baseball is back tonight. Sox-Rays, 7:10. And now, the second and final part of Ryan's trip to Wrigley. All pics/text by Ryan. (Part 1 here.)


Game time: 6:05. We get there and go up to our seats in the upperdeck front row. BP is still happening. A ball heads into the ivy with this result:


Also hilarious was that Vince Vaughn was the celebrity of the night, throwing out first pitch and singing that ramshackle “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” in the 7th. Here he is from above.

Also there was some sports reporter whose name I can’t recall, but who I’m fairly sure is a dickhead for some reason:

I like these sets of double buildings:

Jere is a vegetarian and a teetotaller, while I’m neither, so an ARSFFPT first as I review meat & beer-type things. The mysterious A- is a vegetarian but, in her words, “not a jerk about it.” Which supposedly means that she has a few hot dogs each year. These are the products perhaps least recognizable as coming from a real animal, so there is a certain logic, but still, weird. Nonetheless, Wrigley is renowned for it’s wieners. Here’s mine:

It was both visually striking and tasty, as were those pepper things. Beer-wise the beverage of choice is Old Style, which is basically the Chicago version of Narragansett. We got the impression that it continues to exist solely to be served at Cubs games. Nothing wrong with that, and better than Coors Light or whatever, of course. It was nice that they had people going into the stands to sell it as well, which is good since it stops fans from getting out of their seats every 15 minutes.

Getting up would mean missing stuff like this brass band who goes around the upper deck dressed in Cub uniforms. Couldn’t really hear them, but I assume it was excellent.

The game itself doesn’t need much commentary (having been a month ago anyway), the Sox narrowly prevailed, and the most exciting parts were Salty hitting that two-run dong, and the Cubs nearly coming back. There was a questionable catch in LF (by Podsednik?) around the 7th that actually looked like a trap from the stands because it bounced off the ground through the glove--and no one is used to the ball changing direction while it still appears to be in play, so our judgement was ‘trap’ but as I have since seen, that assessment was wrong, and the umps (who convened to discuss it) were right.

Also memorable was Ortiz getting the run signal in the 1st on a long hit to RF, resulting in a “close play” at home (out). Hard to ignore the irony of Dale Sveum finally profiting due to someone sending a slow guy home under dubious circumstances.

So pretty.

We ended up talking to everyone around us. The folks to our right were Tigers fans, behind us, people from Natick, and Cubs fans to the left— the full spectrum. The Cub fans were from a couple hours away from Chicago and we indeed got to bond with them over team history. (“My husband comes here every year, but he’s been hurt in the past.” “I know the feeling.” Bonding achieved.)

Here is a mixed-team-couple united in their mutual admiration of Jackie Robinson. Or separate admirations of Mo Vaughn and Bruce Sutter.

We had gotten a little wooden robot guy and took photos of him all over Chicago. Here he is enjoying the atmosphere of the friendly confines:

Wrigley does feel much like a bit of an old-time baseball oasis, more so than Fenway, which despite it’s history, has more modern features. With stuff like Wrigley just refusing to get lights for their park, and even afterward refusing to have more than a dozen (or so) night games you feel a bit like the rules don’t truly apply there. And it is remarkably quiet as well. The only sounds are rare PA announcements and occasional bits of organ music. This probably has the effect of making it more likely that you talk to your neighbors, as we did, to fill the many awkward silences. Fenway, of course, isn’t as bad as many other parks have gotten on this front, with the audio-visual blasts relegated to between innings, and none of those retarded games on the board. The Boston crowd doesn’t require ceaseless entertainment on the jumbotron, or to be told when to cheer, but I do sometimes worry that we’re moving in that direction, with the increased use of the video screen. Even so, Wrigley has even less of that kind of thing. Their only screen is this one:

and it only shows hitter-pitcher matchups and the rest of the boards are the high-school football level ones and the hand-operated landmark in centerfield. (Also visible in that picture is an ad that Budweiser changes for every series to antagonize the visiting team.)

Nor is there nearly any advertising. Sure, ads are part of the game, and when you look at parks in the 1930s or whatever, it was far worse than now, but since they were “old-timey” they seem innocent and nostalgia-inducing. What is more significant, I think, than the comparable lack of ads, is the fact that every time the Cubs try to add something there is a massive uproar, which I wish is something we could say. There was even controversy about United putting an ad on the roof of a house across the street. Something that the Cubs organization has no control over, yet they still did as much as possible to stop it despite obviously having no resource other than outrage. You’ve got to hand it to Cubs fans on that front. (Whether or not it started out that way, I prefer the monster big and green, don’t see the necessity of a “Team Standings” area, and feel weird about how that Jimmy Fund logo of a kid swinging a bat just doesn’t look right, but no one can really say anything, because he has cancer....)

There is also a significant impediment to altering many aspects of the park because so many of its features have been classified as historical landmarks, like the ivy, and the scoreboard, and changing them in any way requires going through all sorts of red tape. Which might be an explanation for the fact that, according to the tour, all of the manual CF scoreboard operators have been men because it’s sweltering in there (requiring constant water ingestion) and the only toilet is a funnel with a tube. Ladies, are any of you willing to hold it for a couple hours? Job Opportunity!

So on stuff like old-fashionedness, general lack of random bursts of music, video screens, Wrigley gets an edge. A person from 1920 would be more comfortable there (he’d also be really interested in hearing about all the years his beloved Cubbies have won the Series since’d have to point at someone’s iphone to distract him while you ran off). However because it has been allergic to nearly any construction, it is more run-down than Fenway. And other than the ivy, there are few idiosyncrasies of the park itself.

Bad points? Well, I’ll just say it, Wrigley is architecturally boring. I’m sorry Cub people. Fenway wins this one by a mile. And I’m not saying that people making new parks should add weird features like the flagpole in Houston just to be interesting, but Boston just got lucky here. In the words of Sir Francis Bacon: “There is no excellent beauty, that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.” By designing yourself to fit into a narrow city block with unusual angles and shear walls all over the place, 100 years hence, they ended up with something beautiful. With Wrigley, design-wise, it’s a bit of first half-of-the-century boilerplate. Minor-league parks in the middle of nowhere usually have similar designs. I’m also not a big fan of putting the bullpens in foul territory. I’m sure plenty of catchers have been blasted in the head with foul balls.

And unfortunately for the modern team, there simply isn’t anywhere for the park to go to expand or renovate— they can’t go above the upper deck, they can’t go over the bleachers, there is nothing new happening there. Fenway was fortunate to have been built in such a way that the area above the grandstand was totally unused, thus clearing the way for smart expansion in the future. The only new area there is on the roofs of the houses across the street, and they aren’t actually even owned by the Cubs -- they are mostly owned by private companies now and according to our tour, the Cubs tried to sue them, failed, then threatened to erect opaque “wind-screens” unless they got a cut of the ticket sales for those things, they reached an agreement, and everyone was happy. Here is one up close:

It is also cool how the park is so intermeshed with the neighborhood--how normal houses are visible beyond the bleachers. It’s interesting to note that that is something that simply isn’t possible to create anymore, no new park could be built in the center of a neighborhood without it completely disrupting everything (even if those houses have been essentially hollowed out by their roof-bleacher owners, and every business in the surrounding 2-block radius is baseball-related).

So overall, I strongly recommend it if you’re in the Chicago area. I can’t really be objective, and other than Boston I’ve only been to Baltimore and Philly, but I can extrapolate from them that Wrigley is special. I’d be rightly proud of it if I were a Cub fan.

So eventually the game ended and since the Cubbos lost I was able to snap this blurry picture of their famous W/L flag (so that commuters could see the outcome of the game from the train tracks past rightfield).

The opposite of the L is the W, displayed on this surprising t-shirt of our former GM:

Not everyone was happy to have us I guess. Everyone is welcome to their opinion:

Doesn’t bother me though, as this photographic evidence demonstrates, we CAN all get along

The Break You Gave Me

Kind of weird how I had three different people "submit" things to me this week. I'm sure it must seem like quite a coincidence that I had a little rest from doing my own material during the All-Star Break. But I swear that's all it was. So thanks again to DC, James MacLeod, and Ryan M. Part 2 of Ryan's Wrigley wrap coming later today.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Guest Post: Wryan Wreviews Wrigley (Part 1)

Reader-pal Ryan recently went to Chicago for the Red Sox-Cubs series at Wrigley Field. He has been kind enough to share his thoughts and pics. Take it away, Ryan:

So to those of you who don’t know me: I am a Rhode Islander, an Astronomy grad student, and a longtime ARSFFPT reader; so longtime that I remember when it was called ARSFIPT. Also longtime enough that Jere is now on my softball team (Providence’s premier physics-based softball team: Schrödinger’s Bat. Fall 2009 Low-division Champions!). I was thinking I should write something when I was at Wrigley, but got really busy doing important science things and only just got back around to finishing it, so sorry that it is so non-timely.

My girlfriend and I, (whose identity isn’t a secret but who I’ll refer to as A- throughout so she seems mysterious), were thinking of going to Chicago for a few days sometime around June, so when I checked the Cubs schedule to see what weekends they were at home, and saw that they were playing the Sox June 15-17 it basically determined when we would be going. We’d have gone to see the Cubs play anyone, because ballparks are worth seeing, but Chicago does have a certain kinship with us for obvious reasons, and having seen the convivial atmosphere in Boston last year when they visited us, I wanted to see the other side of it.

I got tickets for Saturday night— not a freaky midweek day game, unfortunately, as is the Cubsian custom. We got there on the Thursday, went up the Sears Tower (give it up assholes, no one is going to start calling it the ‘Willis Tower’), saw that curvy, mirror-surfaced spaceship that Obama captured and put in Chicago so no one would ever find out about it, and generally ate a ton of fried, doughy things to acclimate to the culture. As we were doing this walking I spotted an irregularly large number of people wearing Detroit Tigers paraphernalia. My hunch, that these were Michiganers ‘jumping the lake’ to visit the Friendly Confines of Wrigley, turned out to be right. By Friday the town was lousy with Red Sox hats & jerseys. That day we visited some other tourist stuff, a few museums, restaurants, and saw Stephen Merchant perform at the comedy festival that was going on that week. We were constantly running into Red Sox fans. Every time we got in the elevator of our hotel after Friday we got to make small talk about which Boston suburb we were from.

On Saturday, the game was at 6 but we were running late for our 2pm Wrigley tour, for no particular reason besides the fact that we had been walking around Chicago in the oppressive heat and it took longer to get to the train than we expected. Approaching the Wrigley stop, I knew we were getting close because the distant tall buildings suddenly looked familiar— which was something I didn’t know I knew about. It was about 2:05 and I had to run around the stadium to the will-call window and then back to the tour entrance, but even though it had just started, the nice people pointed the way and had an usher bring us to the tour group. We hadn’t missed much, the tour group had just gone out to the bleachers and sat down to listen to the spiel about how the White Stockings begat the Whales who begat the Hippites who begat the Cubs. First I noticed that in a group of ~50 people there was a single pair of Cubs fans, about 4 non-denominational people and the rest were all Red Sox fans. Since were late we were sat on the outside of the group and across a row from the “original” tour members, right under the scoreboard.

While we were listening to the guide, some Cubs were taking batting practice and Daisuke was running laps:

After a couple minutes a ball was hit near our group and one of the other two “late” people got it. The guide made a joke about getting warning if a ball was heading for his head. A few came to the deep outfield. I determined to catch the next one if possible. (I can just catch up on this 1880’s Cubs info on wikipedia.) The moment came and I was off like a shot. My physics/softball instincts took over, but for the first time ever, they actually put me under the ball! I ended up running over and jumping down about 3 bleachers to come up with it. Despite the lack of competition, I got a round of applause from my fellow New Englanders. Nice.

(A- assumed the applause was for not falling as I hurled my lanky, uncoordinated body down the bleachers.)

I’ve never even gotten close to an MLB ball, since I don’t usually get to games early enough for BP and standing room doesn’t provide much on the ball-front, so this was really special. Extra-Wrigleyness was from it being stained with green paint from Wrigley’s famous bleachers, not a frequent occurrence since balls hit out there, even during normal BP, are usually caught by people, and the ones hit during games (normally by the opposing team) get thrown back onto the field, in accordance with tradition.

The tour, though informative, and aimed at Red Sox fans, didn’t really take people to anywhere special or off-limits in the park. It went: Bleachers >> under bleachers >> near press area in upper-deck >> field box >> on field itself. Surprisingly, the Wrigley Bleachers are actually amongst the priciest tickets in the park so going out there isn’t something you can normally do, and that’s sort of cool. Since most of the games take place mid-week in the early afternoon, they developed a culture of alcoholic unemployed people sitting in the cheap areas, and once they realized it, the Cubs Corporation started dramatically overpricing everything, so some of the worst (and non-assigned) seats now cost more than most of the grandstand areas.

On the way out of the bleachers we saw the visiting batting cages. This is on the concourse, through supposedly one-way-glass, but it still feel like some kind of zoo exhibit. Saltalamacchia was in there. We could tell because he has a tattoo on his left arm that says “SALTY”. Hilarious.

On the way out of the upper deck I got a shot of this giant macaroni:

After the upper deck area we got down to field level and saw that Terry Francona was there hanging out with everyone. Some people said stuff like “Come back Terry”, as though he would just turn around, having left the team on some whim, and decide to return because some fatass shouted at him in Chicago. The tour-guide said some complimentary things about him, and then canceled it out by speculating that the tours at Fenway didn’t get to do onto the field itself. I’ve not been on one since winter ‘05 but I still know that they do get to go down there nowadays, so this guy is behind the times. It was weird that no one corrected him.

Out on the field I was mere feet away from most of the Cubs roster, but having no idea who any of them are, I was unable to appreciate it.

I thought it was weird to see the “green screen” thing close up. As if when I photographed it, an ad for Geico would appear on my camera.

And here’s my trophy:

At this point, Tito was talking to some people within deliberate view of the tour group, and subsequently, Dustin “Laser Show” Pedroia emerged from the clubhouse. Check out these photos where I manage to take a series of pictures of him that would never convict him in court because his face is never seen (at least Tito is in the first):

This is the best I did. He went off to talk to some other tour group up in the stands that had some kind of Dustin-Pass where he had to go sign stuff for everyone. Very weird.

As we were leaving, I saw a Sock signing things for people. Boom! Now I can get a signed ball! A wonderful lady & her man-partner told us that it was Ryan Sweeney signing stuff and gave me a marker so I could get my ball signed by him. He was obviously trying to be nice and attracted a brief storm of people. By the time I got there it was subsiding, and I was 2nd to last, so it was really nice of him to autograph stuff with a waning group of people. It was nice to get the autograph of a fellow Ryan. The next game he went on the DL, thus making my autograph more authentically from the 2012 Red Sox.

After the tour and before the game, A- and I went to a bar to cool off. She’s a somewhat indifferent baseball fan, but enjoys ballparks, history, and going to games. I was droning on about some of the idiocies of interleague play, with a particular emphasis on the unfairness of having division rivals play different teams during the season. I mentioned that there have been recent years where the end-of-year standings were within one or two game margins— and getting easier NL or AL opponents (cough, the Mets, second cough) could have been a determining factor in who got into the playoffs. And A- said the best thing I’ve ever heard on this topic:

“Hold on— these games COUNT in the standings?!”

I have never loved her more.


Stay tuned for part here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I finally got my hands on the broadcast of the late innings from Sunday night. In the 8th, I moved right into the spot in the background of righty batters, proudly wearing my "The Media Is Toxic" shirt. Sure enough, I was on TV for every one of them!

So we know SOME people had to have seen this. At one point they cut to Buster Olney, and then went right to a shot of Andruw Jones, with my shirt right behind him! After I saw shirt so clearly the first time, I worried maybe they'd purposely cut me out. But they definitely didn't. Would have been hard, as I was in the perfect spot--I remember looking right at that camera, with the batter's helmet right below it. I knew I was in the right spot, I just didn't know if they'd be using batter clse-ups or if they'd stop once they saw me. But I was on. In stunning HD. Sometimes blurry, but as you can see, sometimes clear as day. So I'm gonna go ahead and say the anti-Boston Sports Media sign weekend was officially a success.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What If?

My pal "DC in DC," who you might remember from such shared photo galleries as "the time the Red Sox went to the White House," sent me a link to an entry from what appears to be a new blog, which attempts to answer the question:

What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light?

It ain't pretty. I'll give you my favorite line below in comments, as it's a major spoiler.


I didn't see all of the Dong Derby, but I'd just like to let it be known that I'm very happy that Cano got 0 homers, and was booed to shit. In fact, it was perfect--the AL dominated, but the Yankee had nothing to do with it. Maybe Canonchalant should have picked that Royals guy instead of himself.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Yankee Fan Logic

On my way to Fenway Sunday, I listened to Boston sports radio for hopefully the last time in a while. Butch Stearns was on, and a Yankee fan called up with the following BULLSHIT:

"Mickey Mantle was my idol. When he hit his 500th home run, he was already a legend by then, and the Yankees did NOTHING for him. Meanwhile, Papi hits his 400th, and they're rolling out the red carpet for the guy, all this pomp and circumstance...what the hell are they doin'?"

And Butch said nothing, except to briefly say that "yeah, they've gotta honor every little thing" before moving on.

I don't know who to be more angry at. Can you imagine, a long-time Yankee fan making fun of someone else for going over the top with celebrations and honors? I thought it was a practical joke at first. And as a bonus, the Papi "celebration" was about 3 minutes long! They ran a brief highlight reel, then had him come out to the field and get a little plaque. And Mr. Monument Park is appalled! Did he turn off the Chad Curtis Yankeeography to call in? And Butch Stearns says fucking nothing except to mildly agree with the guy!

Now let's take a closer look at the "nothing" that the Yankees did for Mickey Mantle when he hit his 500th home run:

AP, 5/17/1967: The New York Yankees announced Tuesday that a plaque commemorating Mickey Mantle's 500th home run would be placed in Yankee Stadium at the spot where the ball cleared the right-field fence.

But wait, there's more!

In a brief ceremony before the Yankees' game with Cleveland, club president Michael Burke also presented Mantle [...] with a $500 savings bond for each of his four sons.

Still not satisfied? Let's read on!

The Yankee outfielder will also be given a trophy honoring the event.

And the Yanks did "nothing" for their fans, too!

New York Times, 5/17/1967: the 500th customer to pass through each turnstile was given a baseball autographed by Mantle.

So to sum up, all of New England hears a Yankee fan complain about the current Red Sox ownership for doing something that didn't happen, but if it did it wouldn't be the way the Yankees did it, which they did, and the host lets it go. And that's exactly how WEEI likes it. "What is wrong with this team??"

A Cartoon I Didn't Make

Thanks to James MacLeod for making a cartoon related to the recent media unpleasantness:

Tommy Lee Jonesin' Into The Break

I opted for the t-shirt sign tonight. I had "The Media is Toxic" on the front and "Ignore WEEI" on the back. I went in for early BP with my Nomar shirt on the outside.

Once the main gates opened, though, I slipped into character in the men's room, and headed right down to the camera well by the Sox dugout. It's great how the photographers thought it was hilarious, while the writers got all pissy. This guy told me I was painting them all with a broad brush. I told him how I was talking about certain people and that I had to keep the message short and to the point for a t-shirt. Later I realized I should have said "Well I'm tired of Red Sox fans being painted with a broad brush as panicking reactionary assholes who hate the team." Anyway, I looked in the dugout and there was Robert Stanbury Olney--the man who called our clubhouse "toxic" in the first place, the reason I had that phrase written on my person.

I followed him around the field, and did all I could to get him to see the shirt. I think he might have, because when he finished this report, he just looked at the ground and escaped right into the dugout. I know Josh Wilker is friends with the guy, and I don't think I ever had a problem with him, but we needed that toxic shit like a hole in the head. I hadn't even thought for a second that I'd be showing my "toxic" shirt to Mr. Toxic himself--should have known, though, since it was an ESPN game. Duh.

Back over in the first base well, in the purple shirt, is Jessica Rinaldi. She thought my shirt was hilarious and took a bunch of pictures with it. I caught her name from her tag and looked her up. She works for Reuters and has a photography site which has really good stuff.

I liked seeing the R2-D2 building behind the Bud Deck. And it kinda looks like that guy is wearing a crown. Kinda.

I walked all around. (Had a standing room ticket.) I showed that shirt to every fan at the game. Or at least 15-20,000 of them. Here I am out behind section 6, trying to get a good shot of this guy in the Yanks' bullpen sitting on two of those containers that people seem very worried a baby will die in, and using a chair to put his feet on. You can't see the chair. It was either show you a blurry chair, or a focused non-chair.

I finally made it to the good seats in the 8th--specifically the spot where I'd be in the background of the close-ups of righty batters. I'll have to check the recording to see if I got on.

This "It's the Great Pumkin, Charlie Brown"-y moon was one of the highlights of the game, as we pretty much shat the bed tonight. The other highlight was Jeter dropping an easy pop-up, then making a bad throw, then not being quick enough to get Punto on a grounder. I later looked at the board and thought, "How do the Yankees only have ONE error when Jeter has THREE?" But you know scorers today. My mom also called me to tell me that Ciriaco indeed slid under Jeter's tag--therefore, he did two things he "never" does. Screwed up the easiest of plays, and tried to sneakily "sell the call" when the runner was safe. Yeah, that's the guy I want to "teach my kids to play like." She also told me I missed a lot of Jeter worship on the broadcast, something the Joy of Sox thread confirmed. How many mistakes does this guy have to make in a game before people admit he's NOT a god?

Here's more of that moon.

And more. Fair or foul?

Another Ciriaco shot.

Midnight in Boston.

I don't know why a Yes cameraman was there, but he stowed his camera beneath his seat.

And more of the moon--I hate that this is a Bud commercial but what am I gonna do?

The shirt went over pretty well. I had two different conversations with slightly drunk people. And usually random fans don't start talking to me. The shirt did it. I had a few others tell me they were with me, but mostly I feel like people didn't get the "toxic" reference. I also didn't see any other anti-BostonSportsMedia signs. Oh well. With all the people that linked to my posts about it, I think we got a lot of people reading about the protest and realizing some of us are pissed. And that probably went further than any signs at the park. Anyway, thanks to everyone who took part or supported the campaign. I feel like I'm ready to go back to fully ignoring these mediots again now. I tried as hard as I could to get my point across to as many people as possible, and now, like Tommy Lee Jones at the end of The Fugitive, "I could use the rest." As can the Red Sox. I am so done with this first half.

Bonus first-half-ending video:

This is right after the final out, a third of a mile from Fenway. Most people go to Kenmore. I don't. It's just so weird to be that close to where thousands are gathered and are dispersing into the night, yet there are zero people, and only a few cars. At some point I stopped filming by accident. I went all the way to my car, and ended it with a "so that's your cousin." But that got cut off. Oh well.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Gratuity Included

Check out my new video series, "The Producers,"* done entirely in response to the gratuitous Jeter shots (not just on the Yanks' network, but on national ones and NESN too) we've all come to love.

Here's one from last night on Fox, using the patented "we must see what Jeter's doing when someone else hits a home run" device:

And here's one from Friday on NESN--it's the classic "here's a recap of the inning that Jeter wasn't involved in, so here he is anyway, doing nothing in the dugout" device:

One last game in the big anti-media weekend, tonight at 8 on ESPN. Have your signs and t-shirts ready.

*maybe it should be "the directors"? Oh well, too late.

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