April 11th, 2012

4-11-12 (@ Chicago Cubs)

It was a short turnaround from the 7:05 game on Tuesday night to the 1:20 game on Wednesday afternoon. I went to bed after midnight, got up at six to go to the bathroom, and couldn’t fall back asleep until seven. When I got up at 8:20 I felt more exhausted than I had at six. I ate breakfast (Honey Nut Cheerios), while watching Tuesday’s Around the Horn and PTI that I had DVR’d. I’m extremely grateful that Alex and Jess have a DVR, and was able to keep my schedule of watching both ESPN talk shows on a daily basis, at least for the time being. It’s going to be different most other places, including at home, since my parents don’t have ESPN.

I was planning on catching the 74 bus on Fullerton over to the Red Line, and taking that up past Wrigley one stop, so I could hit up Byron’s Hot Dog Haus. I was looking to get an authentic Chicago style hot dog before I left, and it sounded like this was one of the places to go. I wanted to catch the 12:04 bus from the Albany stop, and I made it there five minutes early. I went to transfer my bus pass from my wallet to my front pocket, and it wasn’t there. I thought that you could pay cash, but I wasn’t sure, and I wouldn’t have had exact change anyways. I ran back to Alex’s building, up to his apartment on the third floor, got the card from my coat pocket, and tried to make it back to the stop in time. As I turned onto Albany, I saw the bus pulling away from the stop, just 60 yards away; awesome. I wound up just walking along the bus route and caught the next bus, while getting some “exercise”. On the way I took a few pictures, the first being from the Fullerton L-Train stop. I tried looking into who is painted on the side of the building, but I had no luck.

The next is of the Addison stop with Wrigley in the background. People can say what they want about Wrigley Field, but it’s NINETY-EIGHT years old. You can say it’s run down and hate on it for that, but why? Because it doesn’t have all the flashy lights and replay boards as other parks. That’s one of the reasons I love baseball; there are aspects of every ballpark that makes them unique.

Since I cost myself 15 minutes with the missed bus, I decided not to try and make it to Byron’s before the game, and am planning to do so before Thursday’s finale. I got to Wrigley at 12:45 and had a some time to kill, so I walked around the exterior taking it all in and enjoying my “retirement”. This is the view up at the scoreboard from across Sheffield.

I picked up my ticket from the player will call and found my way inside. I made a pit stop at a hot dog stand and ordered a bison dog. By the time I got around to eating it, it was somewhat cold. I had to locate my seat, and by that time the National Anthem was starting. I’m not a fan of stuffing ones face whilst honoring thy country, so I waited. The bison dog was good, not sure if it was $6.50 good, but that’s ballpark food for you. They want to reassure you that it is in fact bison (I’m not sure if I could tell), by sticking it with a little pennant of sorts.

The game started and it looked promising early as the Brewers put runners on the corners with only one out. Aramis squashed the rally by grounding into an inning ending double play. He went 0-4 and is 2 for 18 on the young season. I won’t say that I’m a little worried, but I’m a little worried. He has proven to be a slow starter in the past and picked it up later, so hopefully that trend continues. Early in the game I got a guy who was sitting behind me to take game photo number six.

He was from Greenfield, WI, and was in town for a college visit with his son (and family) at Depaul. I also talked to the guy I was sitting next to, and learned he was friends with Randy Wolf. He said he wasn’t a Cubs fan and was just a fan of baseball, he seemed like a genuinely nice guy. Those of us not in the sun froze our butts off during the game. I don’t know why I didn’t bundle up like I did for Monday’s game. I would argue that it was actually colder for today’s game, even though it was during the day. I think the combination of not being in the sun and a 10 mph wind coming in from centerfield made the difference. At Alex’s place I had; a coat, gloves, winter hat, long underwear, and hand warmers. Of the five I wore/brought… ZERO. I did have the Cubs earmuffs with me, which was the fan giveaway from the day before. I was planning on selling them, but was too cold to try and sell them, and too stubborn/loyal to put them on.

Despite the screen making the shots not as pretty, I was able to freeze the action pretty good due to the sunlight. Here is Gallardo throwing what I think is a changeup. However, MLB.com’s play by play says that Gallardo didn’t throw any changeups to Geovany Soto today. You can correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m almost positive that is Soto, due to the other pictures I took right before and after. And I think it’s a changeup because his pinky is on top, meaning he rotated his arm counterclockwise when he was releasing it. Perhaps MLB/Wrigley Field needs some better pitch detection equipment.

I was really expecting a loss the way things were going, an example would be Gamel’s screaming shot off the right field wall that probably knocked a few bricks loose. It wound up being a single because it caromed off the wall so hard it went right to DeJesus who was playing right field. The Cubs held a 1-0 lead from the bottom of the first into the top of the seventh. Gamel doubled to lead off the inning and a Cubs fan sitting behind me had some words. “He rolls like a f****** caterpillar down the first base line!” he proclaimed. We all got a good laugh out of it, but he didn’t seem too amused. Kottaras, who was getting a spot start due to soreness in Lucroy’s rib cage muscles, followed Gamel’s double with a home run to right. Just like that the Brewers took a 2-1 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.

The “uneducated fan” moment came in the BOTTOM of the eighth. A couple of Cubs fans behind me were debating if the game was in the top or bottom of the eighth. One guy finally said, it’s the top of the eighth, they agreed and then stated it again but not too confidently. I turned and told him it was the bottom of the 8th, because the Cubs were batting. He said “oh, i don’t know, I’m not paying attention” followed by “well, they didn’t announce it!” I couldn’t help but laugh. I think he thought it was funny as well, either that or he wanted to kick me in the back of the head for laughing at/with him, but I’m confident it was the former.

I did miss two, yes two (2) pitches at this game. But I have very good reasons for both of them. I missed the 2-0 pitch from Dempster to Gomez in the top of the seventh. A vendor was yelling “HOT DOGS!” and it kind of sounded like “MARCO!”, a bunch of kids were responding with “POLO!”, I glanced over at what was going on and missed the pitch. I also missed the 1-2 pitch from Marmol to Gamel in the ninth. Gamel had pulled a pitch foul that was an absolute ROCKET. It went right over the 1st base dugout and looked like someone may have gotten hurt. I was looking over there and missed that pitch as well.

I’ll leave you with the view from my seat during the game, you can see it in the background of my game number six picture (and Bison Dog picture), but this one provides more detail, since the field is in focus.
I like how it’s almost a panoramic by itself, since the underside of the suite level is dark, and the shadow of said suites make the seats and people below them dark.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Wrigley Field: 3 hours 15 minutes
Time on Wrigley Field grounds: 3 hours 26 minutes
Miles riding in car but not driving: 17.1
Public Transit Miles: 13.5
Sausages: 1 (Bison Dog with sautéed onions, raw onions, ketchup, and mustard (I love freebies!!))
Pitches missed: 2 (Unacceptable)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.34% (299/301)

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 24 hours 52 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 34 hours 45 minutes
Miles driven: 292.3
Miles riding in car but not driving: 138.1
Public Transit miles: 35.1
Sausages: 6 (Italian, Bratwurst, Cheddarwurst, Polish, Hot Dog, Bison Dog)
Pitches missed: 4
Longest streak of pitches seen: ~ 1,050 (4/6 – 4/10)
Current streak of pitches seen: 36
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.78% (1,827/1,831)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

4-10-12 (@ Chicago Cubs)

Tuesday was a lazy day leading up to the game. Since I had gotten a $60 parking ticket the day before, I figured it would be wise to make up for it by just having a PB&J at Alex’s place. A short nap followed and I was ready for game number five. I think naps are going to become my new best friend over the next 176 days. After working for 14 months, and getting up at 7:20 every day, I think my internal clock is set to wake up at that time no matter what.

I left Alex’s place at 4 to head up to the game. I got off the Red Line a stop early and hit up Jimmy John’s to get a sub for the game. My usual is the Big John, and I add cucumbers and onions. I didn’t really need or want anything for Christmas, and seeing that I’d be on the move during the baseball season, I asked for Jimmy John’s gift cards. I think I wound up with $150 worth of Jimmy John’s and $75 worth of Noodles gift cards. Most of the major cities I’ll be in have JJ’s near the ballparks.

I walked up Clark to Wrigley and arrived at 5:35, which was 25 minutes early. That probably wasn’t the smartest idea since it was going to be the coldest game of the year for me. On second thought, I guess I’d rather be early than late, so I can’t complain. At six I met outside the will call windows with Tyler Barnes, and Joan Watkins, the Director of Public Engagement for Be The Match. We picked up our tickets from the player will call window, and put on our credentials which allowed for field access.

We made our way down to the camera well to the right of the Brewers’ (1st base) dugout. We talked there for a bit with Tyler and he introduced us to Craig Coshun, I probably should’ve gotten a picture with him but didn’t. Since I had field access, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get game number 5 taken on the field.

Craig informed us that we wouldn’t be on until 6:45 so we had some time to kill. Joan had a friend with her, who is from Chicago and is a Cubs fan. His name is Mick and he’s actually friends with Mark, the guy who sits right behind the visitors tunnel at Miller Park. If you watch the games on TV, every time they show a right handed batter hit a home run, he’s the guy in the background standing up and putting his arms in the air. Small world.

Craig and Auggie were doing Brewers Live, and at 6:45 Auggie came off the field and sent Joan and myself down. I think the cold actually helped calm my nerves, since it gave me something else to think about. I gave Mick my camera and instructed him to take some pictures when I was out there. I also told him to move a little closer to home plate so the sun wouldn’t ruin the shots. I probably should have instructed him to stay there for when I was actually on air, but I failed to do so. This first photo is when we were waiting for the show to get back from commercials.

And this is the best shot of me during the interview. As you can see the angle from above would have made for a much better picture. I can’t blame Mick for trying, and he did say as I was giving him my camera that he might not be the best person for the job. I didn’t have any other options, so I’m still grateful for his willingness to help.

I was only on air for a minute or two. They were announcing the starting lineups as Craig was introducing the viewers to what I was doing. I honestly did not hear much of what he said because of the announcer and the crowd’s reactions. I luckily heard the last bit of what he said, so I at least could start my answer in the right format. If not it could have been one of those awkward situations similar to when someone asks “How are you doing?” and you answer “Nothing”, because you expected them to ask “What’s up?” I looked for the video online but couldn’t find it, and I’m not sure if they’ll put it up anywhere. A few friends said I did fine, so that’s good enough for me. A male friend of mine from high school texted “You look soooooo dreamy live on TV!”. A little strange, I’ll admit.

After the interview I headed over to my seat which was right behind home plate. This was the first time I was using a ticket that the Brewers provided. I will admit it’s a great view of the field.

For some reason my DSLR and point and shoot cameras produced horrid results, and the previous photo was taken with my iPhone. The field looks like it is made up of flood lights. An example would be this picture of myself, Mick and Joan.

I’m guessing you just have to use the manual option to find a setting that works, it might also have to do with the protective screen deflecting light or something like that. I think sitting behind the screen is going to take some getting used to. I’ll be using the Brewers provided tickets 50 or so times this season on the road, and will likely be located behind the screen at each game. I’ll be sitting near the family and friends of the players, and they want to keep them safe from screaming line drives and flying bats.

I did miss one pitch at the game. My seat was two rows behind Mick and Joan’s, and I moved down to sit with them. We were in somebody else’s seats and had to slide down the row. In the commotion I was distracted and missed the 3-0 pitch to Soriano in the bottom of the first. I’ll just have to start a new streak. I’m not sure which pitch I missed on opening day, so I don’t know what the streak was, but I know it was around 1,050 pitches.

The game itself was enjoyable, a five run first is never a bad thing. We had chances to tack on more but didn’t take advantage, and left 10 on base. The Crew made it interesting in the 9th for the second straight night. It felt like 34 degrees at 10:20 and I was ready to be some place warm. I wish I could say I was shaking because I was nervous K-rod might blow it, but I was shaking because I was absolutely freezing. He got the job done and the Brewers improved to 3-2, hopefully Gallardo can keep the momentum going with his start today, and erase the troubles he had on opening day.

My favorite “uneducated fans” moment came when a Cubs fan behind me said “we should get a hit off this guy, he’s got a 4.5 ERA.” This was in the fifth inning, and he was referring to Narveson. I don’t think he realizes that the 4.5 ERA is based solely on the first four and 2/3 of the ONE game, since it was Narveson’s first start of the year. Wow. I wonder what would’v happened if Axford came in and he saw his bloated early season ERA of 13.50, he probably would’ve claimed that he could get a hit off of Ax.

First pitch is in 2 hours 20 minutes, so that’s all for today.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Wrigley Field: 4 hours 22 minutes
Time on Wrigley Field grounds: 4 hours 52 minutes
Public Transit Miles: 7.9
Sausages: 0
Pitches missed: 1 (Argh!!)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.68% (310/311)

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 21 hours 37 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 31 hours 19 minutes
Miles driven: 292.3
Miles riding in car but not driving: 121
Public Transit miles: 21.6
Sausages: 5 (Italian, Bratwurst, Cheddarwurst, Polish, Hot Dog)
Pitches missed: 2
Longest Streak of Pitches seen: ~ 1,050
Current Streak of Pitches seen: 251
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.87% (1,528/1,530)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE