Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Silver Anniversary

It was 25 years ago today that I attended my first Major League game.

I remember it well. Jann, my dateIt was a blustery Chicago day, and the ivy in Wrigley Field had not yet leafed out. I went with my friend Jann, who worked at Playboy (which had its own set of fringe benefits.) We sat in the upper deck on the first base side. I was thrilled! I remember being impressed that I could hear the ball pop in the catcher's mitt even from our lofty perch.

At some point, a foul ball came our way. I thought I was going to catch it, but it went over my head. I was First Gamelucky enough to be sitting on the aisle. I turned around to see where it went, and a woman two rows up was yelling, "Get it! Get it! Get it!" She was the only one who saw it, but she couldn't reach it. All of a sudden, the ball rolled out from the seats, and I dove up the aisle two rows, smothering the ball with the down mittens I was wearing on both hands. I sat back in my seat, and I was trembling. I couldn't even look at the ball for several minutes. I remember Jann saying, "I can't believe you got a ball!" and I just stared straight ahead, trying to grasp the surreal moment.

Foul ball from first gameSome people go to MLB games their entire lives and never come close to getting a foul ball. I got one on my first game. I took it as a sign.

The Pirates (in yellow, from head to toe) beat the Cubbies, 9-2. Future Hall of Famer Willie Stargell hit a home run. We went to El Jardin for Mexican food afterwards. A good day, in and of itself. It turned out to be a rather momentous day in the grand scheme o' things.

So what am I doing to celebrate? I'm going to a baseball game, of course!

©2005 Douglas T. Dinsmoor

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Grounded Out

I had the Braves / Nats game on in the background the other day. I wasn't paying all that much attention, so I don't know which TBS announcers were working it. I generally like all of them, but one of the guys was saying something that was driving me nuts. The same infraction is also the only complaint I've ever had with Sean McDonough on the Red Sox broadcasts.

It was raining hard in DC, and the field maintenance personnel were doing everything in their power to keep the field playable. The TBS guy kept referring to these tireless workers as the ground crew. They are actually the grounds crew. They work on the grounds. They are groundskeepers.

The ground crew works at the airport. They remain earthbound while the others fly away.

Man, it isn't easy being me!

©2005 Douglas T. Dinsmoor

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Root, Root, Root

I watched a woman in the stands sing part of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" at the Rockies game today. I'm still not sure if she was trying to be clever, or if she just didn't know the words, but her version went like this:

And it's root, root, root
For the Rockies
If they don't win, it's the same

I was really pleased when the Red Sox finally got rid of Byung-Hyun Kim during Spring Training this year, but I was almost as disappointed that he was coming to Colorado. Today, the Rockies reinforced their position of worst MLB record, and once again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when ol' BK came on in relief. He walked the first batter he faced on four pitches, then served up a grand slam to the next batter, which propelled the Giants from a 5-3 deficit to a 7-3 lead, on the way to an eventual 8-6 win.

I often said last year that the Rockies had a lot of talent, they just needed to learn to play a full nine innings. When most were saying this year that they'd be the worst team in baseball, I scoffed, thinking that they might be a bit better than last year's edition. I'm beginning to rethink that position.

Between inept play, a flammable bullpen, and questionable managerial moves, they may indeed be hard pressed to win 50 games.

Will that keep me from the ballpark? Of course not! I'm a baseball fan. While following a winning team has some allure, there actually is more to sports, especially baseball, than winning.

©2005 Douglas T. Dinsmoor

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

My First Big League Opening Day

I set foot in Fenway Park for the first time 23 years ago today. I moved to Boston in February of 1982, and I took advantage of my first chance to see a game there -- Opening Day.

I remember it well. I was way up in the cheap seats (and they were cheap back then) in Section 4. I'd always wanted to see Yaz play. He got a hold of one, and I knew as soon as it left the bat it was a round tripper. Although it landed way in front of me, it was on a line right towards me. He wrapped it around Pesky's Pole.

The Red Sox played the White Sox. It was 3-2 Pale Hose in the bottom of the 9th, and the Red Sox had the tying run on 3rd base. Alas and alack, they failed to push the run home and lost. Still, it was a good game, and an experience I'll never forget.

Here are a couple of shots from the last time (or more appropriately, the most recent time) I was in Fenway Park - August 24, 2003. One is the view from from the seat, and one is me sitting in the seat.

©2005 Douglas T. Dinsmoor

Saturday, April 9, 2005

Fevah Pitch

I saw "Fever Pitch" tonight. I thought it was good, not great, but certainly enjoyable. They did a pretty good job of capturing the religion of Red Sox Nation, and it was nicely shot and snapily paced. The story took a few artistic liberties -- they never show people who run onto the field on TV, for example -- but that's show biz.

One of the best things for me was seeing some great shots of Boston, and especially of Fenway Park. Totally cool was that I saw my usher-friends Chuckie and Larry in one of the game shots! My friend Paula Kelley has a song in the film, but I have to admit I didn't pick it up, even though I was listening hard for it. I did see her name in the credits, though.

In the TV commercial for the film, there's a scene in a bar when Drew Barrymore says, "It's only a game," and Jimmy Fallon faces the hostile crowd and says something like, "She said it's a cryin' shame." Oddly, that scene isn't in the film.

I'll probably buy it when it comes out on DVD, so all in all, I guess I'd give it "two thumbs up."

©2005 Douglas T. Dinsmoor

Back To Back To ???

Red Sox radio announcer Jerry Trupiano today used the term "back-to-back-to-back," repeatedly, to describe the three home runs given up by David Wells on five pitches to three consecutive batters. This term has always driven me nuts, mostly because it's a lame way to describe three consecutive occurrences of anything.

To illustrate, get two friends and have them stand back-to-back. Now, you try to stand back-to-back-to-back. It's physically impossible.

Trupiano's partner, Joe Castiglione, had the good sense to avoid the term and instead referred to "three consecutive home runs." Yet another reason why Joe is so much better than Jerry.

And don't even get me started on "three-peat."

©2005 Douglas T. Dinsmoor

Friday, April 8, 2005

More On Opening Day

Sadly, Opening Day has somehow devolved into more of a social event than a sporting event. The ballpark is full of yahoos who don’t even seem to realize there’s a game going on. They just seem to be there to drink, block other’s view, and talk on their cell phones.

Not being one to merely point out a problem without offering a solution, I suggest that teams initiate "Moron Opening Day." Sell tickets to the ballpark for a date a couple of days before the real Opening Day. Offer overpriced beer and food – just don’t play a baseball game. With luck, the goons will come to this event and won’t need to come to Opening Day, thus satisfying everyone’s needs.

This concept should also be applied to fireworks games. Sell tickets to the ballpark when the team is on the road and shoot off the same mediocre (at least by Boston standards) fireworks. Don’t burden these people with the inconvenience of a baseball game. All of the cretins who typically get to the game in the 8th inning just to see fireworks will be much happier, as will the baseball fans who don’t have to deal with them on game day.

©2005 Douglas T. Dinsmoor

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Opening Day

I figured out that yesterday was my 24th consecutive Major League Opening Day. 1982 - 2003 at Fenway Park, and this year and last at Coors Field.

I didn't see the first game in 2003 -- as soon as they wrapped up the pre-game ceremonies, it started to pour, and they called the game. It was rescheduled for 1pm the following day, a Saturday. There was already a 6pm game scheduled that day. For some reason (let me guess: M-O-N-E-Y), the customary off-day after Opening Day to accommodate just these circumstances, wasn't scheduled that year.

I had to work that Saturday, but I told them I wasn't going to miss the game. I left work as late as I thought I could and still make the game. I ran across Harvard Square, caught a bus, sat down, and turned on the pregame radio show on my headphones. Before the bus made it around Harvard Yard, the radio said the game was postponed again, this time rescheduled as the first game of a DH on August 8th. I got off the bus, walked back across Harvard Square, and went back to work. I didn't have a ticket for the 6pm sold out game, so I missed the first game of the season. It was the only time that happened in the entire 21+ years I lived in Boston. At least I got to see Ray Charles sing "America The Beautiful" during the rained out pregame.

©2005 Douglas T. Dinsmoor