April 2012

4-19-12 (vs. Los Angeles Dodgers)

Last night was a late one, as I didn’t get home until 11:30 pm, and was up until two in the morning finishing the blog post for yesterday’s game. It was a really quick turnaround as the game today was at 12:10. I got up at 8:45, ate breakfast, and then had a 30 minute phone interview with Doug Moe, a columnist for the Wisconsin State Journal. I’m not quite sure when his column will run, but I think within the next few days. I quickly showered and was on the road by 10:10. Traffic was decent and I got to Miller Park with plenty of time to spare, at 11:09. This first picture says it all; AMERICA! BEER! BASEBALL! TREES! and WISCONSIN! I have to give credit to the wind for making the picture possible, without it the flags wouldn’t have been “up” for the photo opportunity.

I went inside and returned to the upper deck for game photo number 13.

I still had about 40 minutes until first pitch, so I took photos of stuff that I think is interesting/delicious.

The four parter below, starting from the top left, and going clockwise is as follows:

1) The Klement’s clock, which is above the right field loge bleachers. It’s one of the clocks that moves only on the minute, and I will occasionally try to witness this. It’s nothing special but I think it’s exciting when the minute hand moves, don’t ask me why, I just do.

2) The American flag, which has been moved to this location since the beginning of last season, I believe. A large American as well as a Wisconsin flag waved alongside the scoreboard in centerfield for the first nine years of Miller Park, and I’m not sure what precipitated the move. My only guess is that it could’ve been distracting to batters when the flags would wave in the wind.

3) Bernie’s slide. Part of the contract that I signed with the Brewers mentioned that I could appear in Bernie’s dugout at some point during the season. I think that would be sweet, but also a conundrum because it might involve missing some pitches.

4) The polish sausage I enjoyed just before the game. The two closest condiment stands were out of sauerkraut, so I was a little upset. I always put on ketchup, mustard, onions, relish, and kraut. If the condiments are free, I’m going to get my money’s worth.

As for the game itself, not too much excitement. The Dodgers pushed a run across in the second on a sacrifice fly, but Wolf did a good job of limiting the damage because the bases had been loaded with just one out. The Crew put two on the board in the second, with an RBI double by Ishikawa (his first hit as a Brewer), and a sac fly by Randy Wolf, who did a great job of getting the runner in from third with less than two outs.

The Dodgers came right back with two of their own in the top of the third, on RBI singles by Rivera and Ethier. Kemp homered in the fifth to extend the lead to 4-2, but the Brewers cut it to one with a run in the sixth. That was all the scoring at the final was 4-3 Dodgers. The player of the game had to be Jerry Hairston Jr., who made two spectacular defensive plays. He made a diving stop to save a run in the eighth, and then made a barehanded scoop and throw to retire Ishikawa on his bunt attempt leading off the ninth. Well played Jerry, well played.

I missed back to back pitches in the third inning, and that wasn’t a typo. I sit on the aisle in section 221, and in the section to my left, a guy was trying to find his seat. There were people in his row and I was intrigued to see what was going to happen. There was no chance of a fight or anything, as it was a calm discussion, but I was still interested. For some reason he thought he was in row 6, but his ticket said row 3, so I have no idea what he was thinking. In the meantime I missed the 1-0 and 2-0 pitches to Matt Kemp, and I wasn’t pleased. Randy Wolf is a quick worker, and you have to be on your game if you don’t want to miss any pitches. I’ll get him next time though.

The cute moment during the game occurred when a beer vendor was walking down the aisle. The family on the other side of the aisle consisted of a husband and wife, and their son and daughter. The beer vendor was asking: “Who needs a beer!?” The little girl, probably aged three, said “I DO!!” It was followed by her mother saying, “not yet sweetie”, it was awesome. Later the little girl was trying to eat peanuts off the ground, much to the dismay of her father. Kids will be kids.

On my way back to my car I saw this van in the parking lot, and took a quick picture. I wonder if the owner drives it all the time, or only takes it to the games. Either way, it’s pretty legit.

It’s been a hectic first two weeks of the season, and it’s been tough keeping up with everything. Below is my bedroom at my parents’ place (where I’ll be staying when the Brewers are in Milwaukee). My suitcase is buried under there somewhere, and I haven’t even unpacked it from the recent road trip yet. Since I have over 22 hours before the next game, I should be able to pull things together.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Miller Park: 3 hours 53 minutes
Time on Miller Park grounds: 4 hours 6 minutes
Miles Driven: 152.1
Sausages: 1 (Polish)
Pitches missed: 2 (not a happy camper)
Consecutive pitch streak ended at: 644
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.33% (297/299)

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 53 hours 16 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 69 hours 13 minutes
Miles driven: 892.8
Miles riding in car but not driving: 235.4
Public Transit miles: 136.2
Flight Miles: 1,200
Sausages: 11 (3 Hot Dogs, 2 Polish, 2 Italian, Bratwurst, Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Corndog)
Pitches missed: 11
Longest streak of pitches seen: ~ 1,050 (4/6 – 4/10)
Current streak of pitches seen: 210
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.71% (3,833/3,844)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

4-18-12 (vs. Los Angeles Dodgers)

I really felt like just sleeping in until noon today (well, yesterday now), we’ll say Wednesday just to be clear. I didn’t get home until 11:30 on Tuesday night, and I was just plain tired. I got up around nine and worked on getting my blog post up, because I don’t want to get behind. I had a doctor’s appointment at 11:45 and made it by 11:50, but wasn’t seen until 12:05, figures. It was my three month check up with Dr. Sanyal, my oncologist since my diagnosis in 2007 (save the year I worked with the transplant doctor). The whole I reason I went with him in the first place was because he was in Fort twice a week, and that summer I was living at home, so it was pretty much by default. He’s brilliant, and I trust him 100%. I’m not bashing any of the other doctors, but I’m just really glad that I wound up with him.

He had ordered blood work a few weeks prior, and I had them drawn on April 5th. One of the tests is very complex and is actually sent to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to be analyzed, since it’s looking for a possible relapse. There are really two types of relapse, the first occurs in the bone marrow, but will only be apparent in the bone marrow for a while. Eventually, a full relapse occurs and you can see it in the bloodstream. Since I only get a bone marrow biopsy once a year, the blood work is done every three months just to make sure a full relapse hasn’t taken place. Long story short is it was clear, so that was good to hear. I did tell my doctor that my knee has been bothering me. There’s a small bruise on my left knee, but I don’t remember bumping it recently. It hurts every time I take a step, and it’s the worst while going down stairs. He ordered an x-ray and said if it doesn’t get better we’ll have an MRI done. I’m thinking I just strained something, and am hoping there are no micro tears or anything like that.

Back to baseball. I had asked the Brewers if I could get one of my “merchandise handouts” a little early, since it would be nice to have a few t-shirts for warmer weather. I’ll be in San Diego two weeks from this past Monday, so I figured I would ask. They obliged and I met with the Director of Merchandise Branding in the team store at 5:15. I picked out two shirts, tried them on, and called it even. The shirts are pictured below, I really like the yellow one, as I don’t think I’ve ever had a yellow Brewers shirt before. I talked with Jill and a few of the store employees and they were all pretty jealous of what I was doing, and that I get some Brewers’ apparel. It’s those kind of conversations that reinforce how crazy I am, and how lucky I am to have the backing of the Brewers. I was prepared to do this alone, but their help and support is something that I genuinely appreciate.

I left the store as the park was officially opening, and went to the left field bleachers to take in some batting practice. In years past I would get to the games early every single time, just to watch batting practice, and try to catch as many baseballs as possible. It kind of lost its luster for me, and I haven’t taken it as seriously as before. I have a bin of baseballs at my parents’ place, and I’m slowly trying to get rid of them. Zack Hample, a writer in New York, has his own blog and has been snagging baseballs since the early 1990’s, and has snagged over 5,000 over the years. He gives some of his baseballs away to kids, and I’ve started doing that as well. I’ll occasionally bring one or two to a game and hand them off to young kids at the games, which is great because they are (usually) very appreciative. I was in the corner spot above the Brewers bullpen when Juan Uribe belted one that was headed right at me. It was a little to my left, out over the bullpen, and I got the tip of my glove on it, only to see it trickle out and fall. It’s not a big deal, but it was a little embarrassing.

I took pictures before the game started, and four of them are below. Starting from the top left and working clockwise you have:

1) Dee Gordon (Dodger’s shortstop), taking grounders from his knees, I hadn’t seen that before and thought it looked silly. I know they do stuff like that, but hadn’t seen it in person before.

2) How much the sun comes into play while in the left field bleachers at around 5:50 in the evening. I wish I could say the sun caused me to barely miss Uribe’s HR, but that wasn’t the case.

3) Bob Uecker, as seen from my seat for the 2012 season. I love listening to Uecker, his stories are priceless and a lot of them are self deprecating. I wish I could watch on TV and listen to Uecker, but the delay is unbearable. The radio feed comes in a good three or four seconds before the TV feed, and it spoils it. I like to see replays, otherwise I would just skip the TV altogether. Don’t get my wrong, I think Bill Schroeder and Brian Anderson do a great job, but it’s Uecker, they’d say the same thing.

4) The empty right field bleachers, five minutes before the game. I was very surprised by this, I know it’s a weekday game in April, but come on. They did fill in somewhat, and I’d say they were about 30% full, but who knows if those people actually had tickets for those seats. I think it’s also worth noting Tim Dillard lugging the wheeled suitcase in the lower right corner of that picture. The most junior member of bullpen is responsible for transporting the goodies (seeds, gum, candy), out to the ‘pen. I’ll get a better picture of this later in the year.

I went to the upper deck sometime in between the second and third pictures to get game number 12 taken care of. I’m trying to figure out how to have a slideshow that’s accessible in the sidebar so you can see the progress as we go forth.

For those that aren’t aware; I’m slowly (a few sections at a time), working my way around Miller Park. Once I get done with the upper deck, I’ll be doing the same thing in the second deck (since you need a ticket to get into the club level). I didn’t want all 81 home games to look the same from my season ticket location, thus the slow moving panoramic.

The game itself was a low-scoring affair, with solo runs being scored by the Dodgers in the first and fifth, and by the Brewers in the second and the sixth. It was tied after nine, and the Brewers’ first extra inning game of the season was at hand (BONUS BASEBALL!). Loe induced an inning ending double play in the 10th, and the Brewers went to work. Lucroy walked, and T-Plush pinch ran for him. After a failed sacrifice bunt, Nyjer stole second and moved to third on the throw. Weeks was intentionally walked, and then the Dodgers did this:

As you can see, the Dodgers brought Jerry Hairston in from the outfield, and used him as a fifth infielder. This is something I don’t think teams do enough of in situations like this. If you’re going to get beat, it might as well be on a well-hit ball, and not by a dribbler that is just out of the reach of one of the infielders.

Kottaras hit for Gomez, and was walked as well, which set the bases-loaded-stage for Braun, with only one out. Braun lifted the second pitch to shallow center, and I was surprised to see Nyjer tagging. I thought he was just trying to induce a throw, but he took off for home once Kemp made the catch. Nyjer executed a great slide, but I thought he was out right away. The home plate ump, however, called him safe. I watched a replay as I left the stadium and it confirmed my inkling that he was out. A celebration ensued nonetheless:

As you can see, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is arguing with home plate umpire Mike DiMuro, and he has every right to, since it was the WRONG CALL. I’m glad the Brewers “won”, but this is one thing about baseball that really gets me going. WHY NOT EXPAND REPLAY?!?! Right now replay is only used on home run calls, but calls like this are just as influential in the outcome of a game as a home run. It worked out well for the Brewers this time, but it’s not always going to be the case, and I’ll be even more upset than I am right now. When someone at home, on their couch, in their boxers, can tell that he was out within 10 seconds of the play, why not utilize this technology to get things right. It won’t slow the game down, it might actually speed it up. Whenever there’s a horrendous call, the manager almost always comes out to argue. Instead of this we would have someone upstairs looking at the play, and quickly signal that the call was wrong. It would take 30 to 60 seconds, is that too difficult? I know there’s people who will say “Once the players don’t make mistakes, we can expect the umpires to do the same.” That’s not the point, the point is to see which team does a better job of limiting mistakes, thus winning the game. I don’t want balls and strikes touched, I know that is sacred. Major League Baseball should, however, seriously consider adopting an expanded replay system. For a lot of games it probably won’t even be utilized, because umpires get it right the majority of the time.

I apologize for the rant, but it’s something I feel strongly about.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Miller Park: 5 hours 18 minutes
Time on Miller Park grounds: 5 hours 42 minutes
Miles Driven: 139.1
Sausages: 0
Pitches missed: 0 (let’s keep it going)
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (293/293)

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 49 hours 23 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 65 hours 7 minutes
Miles driven: 740.7
Miles riding in car but not driving: 235.4
Public Transit miles: 136.2
Flight Miles: 1,200
Sausages: 10 (2 Italian, Bratwurst, Cheddarwurst, Polish, 3 Hot Dogs, Bison Dog, Corndog)
Pitches missed: 9
Longest streak of pitches seen: ~ 1,050 (4/6 – 4/10)
Current streak of pitches seen: 557
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.75% (3,536/3,545)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

4-17-12 (vs. Los Angeles Dodgers)

Tuesday started slowly as I didn’t have much to do. I was planning on leaving Madison around 3:30 for the 7:10 game. A little backstory; Todd, the husband of a friend of my sister’s, works for Midwest Family Broadcasting, who owns a bunch of Madison area radio stations. They include Magic 98, 94.1 JJO, 93.1 JAMZ, just to name a few. My sister’s friend (who was a roommate of hers while attending Whitewater) saw one of my sisters Facebook posts about me, and told her husband. He thought he could help get my message out using radio. We’d emailed back and forth and I gave him a blurb about what I was doing and why, and they’re going to play it on air. How cool is that!?!? He had mentioned that I could stop by and see their office, which also houses a few of the studios where they broadcast from. At 1:30 I realized that he had brought this up, and since I was in Madison, I gave him a call. I said I could stop by around 3:00, and he said that would work. When I was packing up and getting ready to leave, this happened:

This is my cat Prince, and yes, I named him after Prince Fielder. I got him back in 2006 and Prince was coming off his rookie season for the Brewers, and I knew he was going to be awesome. During this past offseason, I was pondering a name change since Prince was going to sign with another team. I debated going back to his original name (Simba), or The Cat formally known as Prince (but only if he signed with the Cubs). Since he didn’t sign with the Cubs, I figured it was alright to leave it as is. I snapped this picture quickly as I was leaving, and didn’t get a chance to look at it until now, and laughed out loud when I saw it. I think his expression is “OH MY GOOOOSH” or “SAY WHHAAAAAT?”, or “DON’T LEAVE MEOW!”.

Back to Midwest Family Broadcasting. Todd said that the owner really likes guitars, and has a bunch of them all over the building, as you can see from the picture of the lobby below. Most all of them are either signed by famous musicians, or contain cool artwork. Todd brought up the possibility of doing something on air on a few of the morning shows, and I said I was all for it. I gave him a few dates that should work, which are limited, since there are 18 off days from now until October 3rd. I will most likely be returning in a month or so I didn’t take any more photos. There was some really cool/interesting stuff, and I’ll be sure to bring my DSLR when I go back.

I left at 3:30 and headed to Milwaukee, but made a pitstop in Delafield to get some dinner at Noodle’s and Company. I had gotten a $25 gift card for Christmas, and a $50 gift card from a very generous coworker (Pam), as a going away/”that’s f****** awesome!” present. Pam had once asked another coworker if they thought my phone got text messages, and I still give her a hard time about that, but I digress. I usually get either the Indonesian Peanut Sauté or the Pad Thai, yesterday I went with the former, and added chicken. I think they gave me more than the normal serving, which is just what I needed, since I hadn’t eaten lunch.

I drove to Miller Park and was surprised by the lack of traffic. There was still some slowdown but it went rather smoothly, despite it being 5:15 on a weekday, and a lane being closed due to construction. I probably just jinxed myself and now today’s traffic is going to be horrific. I went through the right field entrance, I headed straight for the upper deck, to get the picture for game number 11.

I had about an hour to kill so I wandered and took some pictures. The four-parter below, going clockwise from top left is as follows:

1) The upper deck concourse in the right field corner. There is just so much room up there. The nearby sections are generally only used during sellouts, so a lot of times there’s just an open concourse like this. This picture was taken about an hour before first pitch on a weeknight in April, so that also attributes to it’s emptiness.

2) A view from the concourse into the seating bowl, behind section 410. I always like looking into sections from the tunnel and seeing the foul pole, and in this case, Bernie’s slide as well.

3) A John Axford poster in the Loge Level concourse, near home plate. I hadn’t seen this one yet, and thought it was pretty cool. His nickname (at least for fans), is either Ax, or The Ax Man, so it’s very fitting.

4) The view from my seat during the game. I just thought it was cool how the sun comes through the panels in the upper deck, and illuminates the scoreboard and the supporting section for the roof panels. The picture isn’t accurate in the sense that the scoreboard was entirely legible, and it’s just washed out in the picture, but nonetheless.

The game itself was absolutely spectacular, or at least the ending was. The Brewers built an early 2-0 lead in the second inning off of Gamel’s solo home run and Izturis’ RBI single. The Dodgers struck in the fifth with a solo run on an error, but if everything played out as it eventually did, the run would’ve scored anyways. The Dodgers tied it in the seventh on a RBI double by James Loney. The Brewers worked their squeeze magic once again (third time this year), and Aoki got the job done in the bottom half, scoring Gamel. It was looking like it was going to be one of those K-Rod – Axford shut ’em down type of eighth and ninth innings, but K-Rod gave up a two run shot to Ethier in the eighth, and things looked bleak.

Enter Gorgeous George, as Dave (Annette’s boyfriend) calls him. Georgie (what I call him) sent everyone home happy with a two-run double in the bottom of the ninth with one out, and the crowd was in a frenzy. I was jumping around in the aisle like a child who was just given ten pounds of their favorite candy while trick-or-treating, but that is completely normal for me. Gamel had a great slide and wound up scoring three of the Brewers five runs, and has his batting average up to .282. Big win for the Crew, and hopefully with Greinke on the mound tonight, we can duplicate it.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Miller Park: 4 hours 7 minutes
Time on Miller Park grounds: 4 hours 10 minutes
Miles Driven: 155.2
Sausages: 0
Pitches missed: 0 (Feeling a massive streak in my future)
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (264/264)

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 44 hours 5 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 59 hours 25 minutes
Miles driven: 601.6
Miles riding in car but not driving: 235.4
Public Transit miles: 136.2
Flight Miles: 1,200
Sausages: 10 (2 Italian, Bratwurst, Cheddarwurst, Polish, 3 Hot Dogs, Bison Dog, Corndog)
Pitches missed: 9
Longest streak of pitches seen: ~ 1,050 (4/6 – 4/10)
Current streak of pitches seen: 264
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.72% (3,243/3,252)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

4-16-12 (First Off Day!)

Yesterday was my first off day, and I was pretty lazy. I got up to say goodbye to Annette, who had class in the morning, but then went back to bed and really didn’t get up until noon. Dave and I talked about baseball and other topics, and then he took me to the MARTA station at 2:45 before heading off to an appointment. I spent the 40 minute train ride catching up on some Words with Friends games and some emails that I had neglected. I got to the Airport around four o’clock, went through security, and went to find the Chick-fil-A.

I had the spicy chicken sandwich, and wasn’t overly impressed. It reminded me of a Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich. Don’t get me wrong it was good, but I wasn’t blown away or anything. It was my first experience with the Coca-Cola branded fountain soda dispensers with a touch screen. I’m not a big soda fan, but the number of options those things have is amazing. I went with Diet Dr. Pepper with Cherry, and then refilled with Dasani water infused with lime. I think they had about seven different variations of Sprite, and countless other variations.

I read a digital edition of Sports Illustrated as I waited for my flight, which wasn’t scheduled to take off until 6:55. The flight wound up being delayed 15 minutes or so. If that’s the worst delay I experience this season, I will be more than happy, in fact, I’d be ecstatic. On the plane I watched the first two episodes of Eastbound and Down, which probably wasn’t the wisest choice because there are some inappropriate parts since it’s aired on HBO. Friends have talked about it for a while, but I had never gotten around to actually watching it, so I downloaded the episodes (legally, from iTunes) at Annette and Dave’s, and put them on my iPad for the trip.

I got into O’hare at 8:15, and took the 25 minute train ride to the Logan Square stop, where I walked back to Alex’s. It is Jess’ birthday today, and they had cake and ice cream! I tell myself that it was also a welcome home dessert for me. I left at 9:30 and was planning on going back to my parent’s in Fort Atkinson. My girlfriend, Victoria, texted while I was on my way and said she didn’t have to work until 11am this morning, so I drove to Madison instead. I got in just before midnight, and my first real off day was a success.

I’m extremely grateful that Alex and Jess, and Annette and Dave, were willing to host me for a few days. People like them allowed me to (try) and make this dream come true. I will always be appreciative of what they’ve done for me.

The Brewers game is in just under five hours, and I need to get moving. I’m meeting with a guy who works for the company that owns the major Madison radio stations before I head out. More to come later.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Miles Driven: 151.9
Miles riding in car but not driving: 2.2
Public Transit Miles: 32.8
Flight Miles: 600

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 39 hours 58 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 55 hours 15 minutes
Miles driven: 446.4
Miles riding in car but not driving: 235.4
Public Transit miles: 136.2
Flight Miles: 1,200
Sausages: 10 (2 Italian, Bratwurst, Cheddarwurst, Polish, 3 Hot Dogs, Bison Dog, Corndog)
Pitches missed: 9
Longest streak of pitches seen: ~ 1,050 (4/6 – 4/10)
Current streak of pitches seen: 0 (I’ll fix it, I swear)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.70% (2,979/2,988)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

4-15-12 (@ Atlanta)

Annette and Dave didn’t want to take the MARTA to Sunday’s game, so the three of us and Bill drove down in Annette’s car for what I thought was a 1:05 game. It actually was a 1:35 game, and I have that in my calendar, so I don’t know what I was thinking. It’s a short trip by car (assuming no traffic), and it only took us 20 minutes or so to get to the stadium. The three of them were sitting in the outfield again, but I was using the ticket the Brewers provided, and had to pick it up at will call. We got to the media will call around 11:45 but the representative said they weren’t available. At 12:00 they were released and we headed inside. We went straight to the upper deck because I wanted to get this:

We had time to kill, and it was Bark in the Park day!!! Annette and Dave have two dogs, who I alluded to in the 4-13-12 post. Annette had badly wanted to bring them, but decided otherwise. One of their dogs is somewhat skittish, and the other gets car sick, so it was probably for the best. We spent a good 30 minutes in the area that is reserved for the dogs and their owners. The Braves have a special entrance and everything, and the dogs have to stay in that area for the whole game, so it’s not like there were dogs everywhere. I took a bunch of pictures and below is a four-parter that shows what all went down.

Going clockwise from top left you have:

1) Kiddie pools set up for the dogs, for when they inevitably get too hot in the Atlanta sun, along with a Black Lab on the right.

2) A Chihuahua mix (or so Annette says) on a scooter with its owner.

3) A Great Dane, and this picture does not do it justice. That girl was six feet tall… Ok, maybe she wasn’t six feet tall, but the dog was enormous. A cocker spaniel was going bananas and trying to get off its leash to attack him. I’m not quite sure who would’ve won the fight, but my money is on the Great Dane.

4) A Wiener Dog… dressed up as a hot dog… eating a hot dog. They showed it on the jumbotron at some point during the game and it was hilarious. The camera was zoomed in on the dog, and there was a hand (maybe the camera man’s) holding a foot long hot dog. They kind of played tug of war for a bit, but the wiener dog wound up eating the whole thing, good stuff.

During half innings they would show various dogs while playing Snoop Dogg songs from the nineties. The Braves did a great job of combining pets with old school west coast hip-hip. Nicely done!

After spending some time in the Bark in the Park zone, or whatever they were calling it, if anything, I still had some time to kill. I wandered and took some pictures, including one of the Atlanta skyline.

You can see more of the exterior of Atlanta Fulton County Stadium that I alluded to yesterday (the blue wall with red lettering). You can also see the commemorative Olympic torch on the right, with the Olympic emblem to the right of that.

There were other interesting things to photograph and here’s another four-parter. Again going clockwise from top left:

1) A massive Chick-fil-A cow, with the sign reading “Choppin Makes U Hungree 4 Chikin”. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten at a Chick-fil-A, so I should probably do that before my flight leaves tomorrow night.

2) A giant Coca-Cola bottle, the Coca-Cola part is actually a cylindrical LED board, and it does other stuff other than just display “Coca-Cola”. When the Braves play their iconic chopping music, an axe is shown chopping, which is also being shown on other LED boards throughout Turner Field.

3) Red Coke bottle chairs. I would say the bottles themselves are about six feet tall, so the chairs are rather large.

4) The back of the scoreboard in centerfield. I just like it because it had a enormous baseball on it.

I also took a picture of a staircase that leads from the field level all the way up to the upper deck. There are actually another 30 or so stairs that are not pictured, maybe more. I took the picture from the left field concourse in the upper deck, and there’s a walkway that looks over the staircase. I would run those every day if I could. I don’t really like running, but I’ve always liked going up stairs, and take them whenever I can.

On my way to my seat I came across a wall in the second level concourse that commemorated the three cities that the Braves franchise has played in; Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta. When they were in Boston they actually started as the Red Stockings in 1871, then the Red Caps, Beaneaters (my favorite), Doves, Rustlers, and finally the Braves (in 1941). I’m not sure what the giant pennants were made of, but I’m guessing wool or something similar.

I was in my seat by 12:55 for what I thought was the 1:05 first pitch, I was curious why they were doing some of the things they generally do 30 minutes before the game. I’m an idiot. Before the 1:35 first pitch they showed a video on the board commemorating Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier 65 years ago. I thought it would have been a longer video, but it was just some footage of players, with someone saying, before Kemp, before Aaron, before Mays, there was Jackie. They listed more players than just the three I mentioned, but that was the gist of it.

The view from my seats for today’s game, it looks like I was sitting closer than I actually was, I was in the fourth row of section 202, and I think the section between mine and the field had about 30 rows.

The game started and the Braves took an early 1-0 lead. The Brewers tied it with the help of a two base error on their left fielder, and it was even at a run a piece. My optimism was soon diminished with Chipper Jones’ three run home run in the bottom of the third. The Braves added one in the fourth and two in the eighth to build a 7-1 lead heading to the ninth. The Brewers pushed three across in the ninth, including a two run home run by Jonathan Lucroy. When he connected a guy two rows back said: “Yes!! Easy out”. It was clearly hit very well and landed about ten rows deep in left center. I turned as it was clearing the fence and said; “yeah, easy out of the park”. He chuckled a little, but then a guy a few seats next to him, who wasn’t with the guy, said “SCOREBOARD!”. I told him that I know the Braves were about to sweep us, I was just questioning the other guys’ ability to correctly judge a fly ball. I was really hoping the Brewers could have somehow won after that, but it wasn’t in the cards. If “Scoreboard” is all he has in his arsenal, I’m fearful that he’s not going to win many arguments. A sweep on the road is never fun, but I played it off like I wasn’t devastated, as to not draw attention, and more ridicule.

I missed three pitches at this game! I’m disappointed in myself. The first was the 1-0 pitch to Chipper Jones in the first inning, ending my streak at 611 consecutive pitches. A Brewers fan was taking pictures in the cross aisle in front of me and I was mad that he was just standing there, not aware that he was blocking other people’s view. He really wasn’t in my way, but he was in other peoples’ way and that’s one of my biggest pet peeves. That’s what the two and a half minutes between innings is for.

I also missed the first pitch to Pastornicky in the bottom of the fourth. Jason Heyward had just homered right before Pastornicky’s at bat, and I was still reading stuff on the scoreboard. I also missed the very last pitch of the game! I was getting my stuff gathered and looked up as the final pitch hit McCann’s glove, ending the game with a Kottaras strikeout. I wanted to get out of there quickly so I could meet Annette, Dave, and Bill at the car, and not get stuck in traffic. When I realized I missed it I was kind of shocked, because it all happened so fast, but it’s bound to happen.

I’m looking forward to the nine game home stand, hopefully the Crew can turn things around!

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Turner Field: 4 hours 35 minutes
Time on Turner Field grounds: 4 hours 57 minutes
Miles riding in car but not driving: 30.6
Sausages: 0
Pitches missed: 3 (unforgivable)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.03% (306/309)

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 39 hours 58 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 55 hours 15 minutes
Miles driven: 294.5
Miles riding in car but not driving: 233.2
Public Transit miles: 103.4
Flight Miles: 600
Sausages: 10 (2 Italian, Bratwurst, Cheddarwurst, Polish, 3 Hot Dogs, Bison Dog, Corndog)
Pitches missed: 9
Longest streak of pitches seen: ~ 1,050 (4/6 – 4/10)
Current streak of pitches seen: 0 (Say Whaaaaaaat!?)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.70% (2,979/2,988)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

4-14-12 (@ Atlanta)

I woke up at 8:30 on Saturday and started working on the blog for Friday’s game at 9:00. At 11:15 Dave came into the basement and said we were getting kicked out because Annette’s fraternity (it’s co-ed) was doing an initiation at the house. I quickly got ready and Dave and I drove to the Taco Mac nearest to his house. Dave and Bill love Taco Mac (see the 4-13 post if you don’t know who Dave and Bill are). Taco Mac sounds like it would be a Mexican place, with maybe a little bit of macaroni thrown in there. Nope, wings are their specialty. I read their website and the reason behind it makes sense. Long story short; two guys had opened up a wing shop back in the late seventies, and their first place was an old taco stand. The name stuck and they’ve opened up a bunch of locations since then. Below is a picture of the front of the menu on the left, a picture of Dave’s Brewniversity progress receipt, and the wings we ordered.

Brewniversity is something Taco Mac does to make customers keep coming back for more. They have literally over 100 beers on tap, and even more in bottles, we’re talking hundreds. It’s free to sign up, and you can keep a tally of all the different beers you’ve tried. When you reach certain milestones you get prizes. As you can see from above, Dave has gotten a lot of beer here, he’s up to 207 different beers after yesterday. He told me that him and Bill go there pretty much every Thursday, because Thursday is free glass night. One of Annette and Dave’s kitchen cabinets is almost entirely full of free pint glasses. We ordered 20 hot wings and ten 3-mile island wings (supposedly hotter). They were very good wings and some of the better ones I’ve had  in a while, besides the wings I make myself with Frank’s Red Hot sauce.

After lunch (which was also my breakfast), we headed back to their house to get ready for the game. I finished up the Friday post and we headed out with Dave, Annette, and Bill. Again we boarded the MARTA at the Chamblee station and took it downtown. We walked to Turner field again, even though there were shuttles waiting by the MARTA station this time. We were going to tailgate with some of Bill’s friends, and along the way there were a few photo opportunities. This first picture is of the State Archives and Records Building.

We had walked past this building on Friday but didn’t notice anything special. On Saturday Bill pointed out that it didn’t have windows and we were interested in what it was. Bill thought it was an archive building because sunlight ruins documents, and in fact it is. I thought it was interesting, just because I can’t recall seeing another building with no apparent windows. A little closer to Turner Field is this:

The Summer Olympics were held in Atlanta in 1996, and Turner Field actually served as Olympic Stadium, where it held the Opening Ceremony, the track and field events, and the Closing Ceremony. The stadium was obviously configured differently for the Olympics and had about 35,000 more seats. After the Olympics they reconstructed what was basically the outfield section and created a new one, while the seating bowl from foul pole to foul pole remained mostly the same. We had some time to kill and went to see the spot where Hank Aaron’s 715th home run landed.

Hank Aaron hit the home run at the now demolished Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, which was torn down in August of 1997, the first year that the Braves called Turner Field home. They also have bricks laid out to represent where the infield was amongst the asphalt parking lot.

The blue wall had “Atlanta Fulton County Stadium Home of the Braves 1966 – 1996” written on it. This was the exterior wall of the old stadium, and now it’s used to as a commemorative piece. The other side is elevated, and you have to take a staircase to get to down to the side shown above.

Dave’s friends arrived and we went over to meet them. There was actually a guy from Milwaukee there, and Annette and him went to schools that were in the same conference. They were one year apart so they knew some people  from each others’ schools. His name was Trent and I told him I would give him a shout out, mainly because he thought what I was doing was amazing, and that was cool to hear.

I left the tailgate a little earlier than Annette, Dave, and Bill, because I wanted to make it inside before first pitch. I was sitting with those three, and wasn’t using the ticket that the Brewers had offered. The seats were in the outfield and the first two innings or so were brutal because the sun was setting over the third base side:

I had my sunglasses, and they helped a little, but then they made it difficult to see the ball after it left the pitchers hand. I wound up not wearing them and just shielding my eyes with my hand, and eventually one of those free game day programs that teams give out.

As for the game, not too much to talk about. The Brewers had a hit in the first, but not another until the eighth, so there wasn’t much to cheer about between those innings. The Braves pushed two across in the second, with the help of a Brewers error. Marcum pitched really well though, and didn’t deserve the loss. He gave up three hits and the two runs over seven strong innings. The Brewers eventually got a run in the 8th, and loaded the bases with only one out in the 9th, but Kimbrell struck out Kottaras and Gamel to end the game.

I got my game number 9 picture taken in 6th or 7th, and some people asked what it was all about. I actually stood up during two separate half innings because the first time Dave took the picture he didn’t stand up, and a lady who was sitting right in front of him, dominated the shot. A guy who I was standing in front of said “What’s the nine for? Are you commemorating the ninth anniversary of when you lost your virginity?” Hilarious. During the second attempt to get a good picture he got serious and asked what it was really for, and I’m guessing he kind of felt stupid after I told him, because then he started asking questions. After the game he spotted me when he was entering the concourse and shook my hand again and wished me good luck. Back to the picture:

We took the shuttle back to the MARTA stop after the game, and were back to Annette and Dave’s by 11:15. As I write this it’s 10:15 on Sunday, and we’re leaving for the game in less than an hour. We’re already an eighteenth of the way through the season! Hopefully today’s game will wind up in the win column.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Turner Field: 3 hours 13 minutes
Time on Turner Field grounds: 5 hours 15 minutes
Miles Driven: 2.2
Miles riding in car but not driving: 17.8
Public Transit Miles: 24.4
Sausages: 1 (Hot Dog)
Pitches missed: 0 (Back to back)
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (266/266)

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 35 hours 23 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 50 hours 18 minutes
Miles driven: 294.5
Miles riding in car but not driving: 202.6
Public Transit miles: 103.4
Flight Miles: 600
Sausages: 10 (2 Italian, Bratwurst, Cheddarwurst, Polish, 3 Hot Dogs, Bison Dog, Corndog)
Pitches missed: 6
Longest streak of pitches seen: ~ 1,050 (4/6 – 4/10)
Current streak of pitches seen: 593
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.78% (2,673/2,679)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

4-13-12 (@ Atlanta)

Friday started off with a 4:00 am alarm. I had done all of my packing the night before this time, and was pretty much ready to go when I got up. I tiptoed around Alex’s apartment trying not to wake my gracious hosts. After leaving Alex’s apartment I walked the half mile up to the Logan Square L-Train stop, and caught the 5:08 train to O’hare. I got through the security checkpoint rather quickly, even though I went with the pat down instead of going through the body scanner. I could care less if they see what I’m working with, but if I can limit the amount of radiation I receive, I’ll do it every time. I know the amount of radiation you get from a body scanner is equivalent to what you get after only ten minutes on a flight, but still.

I know things are more expensive in airports; my Egg Mcmuffin, hash brown, and orange was $5.66, while at a normal McDonald’s it probably would’ve been $4.50 or so. That comes out to a 25% airport tax if you will. I was not, however, expecting to pay $2.66 for two bananas at a Starbucks. Banana prices vary widely, but at Woodman’s in Madison I think they’re 39 cents a pound. Any way you look at it is over six times retail. I would’ve shopped around, but I was tired, and just wanted my daily potassium fix.

The flight went smoothly, and I had chosen a window seat as usual. I like to be able to rest my head on the cabin wall, and not have to worry about my knees getting rammed by the flight attendants. As we were boarding the captain said it was going to be a very full flight, so I was expecting one or two empty seats. If that was the case then I got lucky, because there was no one in the middle seat of my row, beautiful. I was picked up at the airport by Annette, who also lived in the same dorm as Alex and I freshman year: Kronshage Gilman House ’05-’06! I dubbed our group of friends G-Unit, I’m not sure that ever caught on though. I probably hadn’t talked to Annette in over three years, but she was my contact in Atlanta, and was ecstatic to be hosting me on such an awesome mission.

The Atlanta airport is south of the city, and Annette and Dave, her boyfriend, live northeast of downtown. It’s about a 23 mile drive but with Atlanta traffic, you never know how long it’s going to take. 10:00 am traffic was good though, and it took about 25 minutes. Annette lives with Dave and a roommate, Amanda. Below you have their house, the couch I’ll be sleeping on, their two dogs acting like cats, and the dogs intrigued by my camera. Boscoe, the light brown one, is part Basenji part chihuahua, and likely something else. Jozy is a pit bull lab mix, or so they think.

Annette and Dave are both in Pharmacy school at Mercer, Dave is in his third year, Annette in her second. The undergraduate campus is in Macon, Georgia, but the graduate and professional campus is in Atlanta. Annette had some things to get done at school, so I tagged along. We came back to the house, picked up Dave and Kate, another pharmacy student, and went to lunch at Houston’s. Annette and Dave’s roommate, Amanda, is a general manager at the Houston’s we went to in Buckhead, a neighborhood in Atlanta. The food was delicious, and is pictured below. On the lower left is Kate’s meal, which was an Ahi Tuna Salad. On the upper left is Annette’s lunch, which was a veggie burger with… drumroll…… BACON. She’s not a vegetarian and she said she just really likes the veggie burger, and bacon. Dave’s lunch is the Thai Steak Salad, pictured in the top right. I had an amazing Chicken sandwich with arugula, tomato, onion, and slaw. I like coleslaw so much that I also got it as my side instead of fries.

After lunch we headed back to Annette and Dave’s, and got ready for the game. The game was at 7:35, and we left the house at 3:40. We went to the MARTA (Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority), and caught the train to downtown. The train doesn’t run right to Turner Field, and they offer a free shuttle from the train stop that starts about an hour before the game. Since we got there around 4:20, it wasn’t running yet, and we just walked to Turner Field. We passed the Capitol building on the way.

We got to Turner Field around 4:35, with the goal in mind of getting my game number 8 picture taken in front of the home plate entrance. We found out that there was no entrance located near home plate, because there are no parking lots on that side of the stadium. We wound up walking completely around the monstrosity that is Turner Field, and got the picture in front of the Turner Field sign, which is near left field.

I wanted to get my ticket for the game, which the Brewers were providing, and went to the will call window. I found out, however, that there is a separate media will call window on the other side of the stadium, which we had walked past on our trek around Turner Field. Dave wanted to get tailgating, so we parted ways, but Annette and I went back to the discrete will call window. It wasn’t labeled as will call, and just had Media gate above the gate where you can enter after picking up your tickets. The Brewers had guaranteed that I could get my tickets an hour before the game, but said they will be available before then a lot of the time. Of course, at 5:15 they were not yet available, and Annette and I walked all the way back around the stadium to the parking lot where the tailgate was.

They were cooking brats and burgers and I prepared what I thought was brat and took a bite. What do you know, another Italian. I don’t know how people can like Italian sausages with all that fennel, but to each his own. I did eat it though, as I am not disgusted by it, it just isn’t my sausage of choice. Dave’s friends had the gas grill sitting on the tailgate of a truck, which seemed like a safe and logical place. A parking attendant came over and instructed us to remove the grill from the tailgate, and place it here:

I don’t know if the best place for a grill is on very dry grass, and next to flammable pine needles. I don’t know why they wouldn’t have told us to put it on the blacktop. Any thoughts? We drank some beers, ate some food, and played some washers. I feel like there is a lot more luck involved in washers than there is with corn hole (bags for you non-traditionalists). There were seven of us and a good time was had by all. I asked a Braves fan if she would kindly take a picture for us and she obliged.

Left to right you have Dave and Annette (my hosts), Kyndall, Bill, myself, Katie, and Steven. Kyndall, Bill and Stephen are all classmates of Dave’s, and Katie is married to Stephen. Stephen had a sweet magnetic koozie that is strong enough to hold a full beer!!!

I left the tailgate at 7:05, because I had to go back to the media will call window on the opposite side of the stadium to get my ticket, which would now be available. I made it inside and to my seat just in time for the national anthem, which created a pretty nice photo opportunity.

AMERICA!!!

They also had a flyover, which was not satisfying at all. For some reason they came in a lot higher than other flyovers I’ve witnessed, and the result was not very loud.

The Crew got off to a decent start and had a 3-2 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth. That’s when the Braves blew the game open with a six spot. The Brewers battled back and wound up tying it after two in the sixth and three in the seventh. Corey Hart is playing great right now and hit another home run, making it four on the year (on pace for 81!!! right….). K-Rod struggled in the eighth and gave up the two runs, which proved to be the difference. It was nice how they battled back and it’s promising that the Brewers picked up 13 hits and 8 runs, but when you give up 10, it really doesn’t matter. Giving up 18 runs in two games is not the formula for winning games.

We took the extremely crowded shuttle back to the MARTA station, jumped on the gold line, and made our way back north. We got back to Annette and Dave’s at 12:20 AM and I was exhausted after my 19 hour day, thus the late post. I’m leaving for today’s game in 10 minutes, and sitting in the outfield with my hosts this time, but I told them no distractions. I didn’t miss a single pitch yesterday, so hopefully I can keep it going.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Turner Field: 3 hours 51 minutes
Time on Turner Field grounds: 6 hours 40 minutes
Miles riding in car but not driving: 46.7
Public Transit Miles: 36.6
Flight Miles: 600
Sausages: 1 (Italian, not by choice)
Pitches missed: 0 (That’s more like it)
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (319/319)

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 32 hours 10 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 45 hours 03 minutes
Miles driven: 292.3
Miles riding in car but not driving: 184.8
Public Transit miles: 79
Flight Miles: 600
Sausages: 9 (2 Italian, Bratwurst, Cheddarwurst, Polish, 2 Hot Dogs, Bison Dog, Corndog)
Pitches missed: 6
Longest streak of pitches seen: ~ 1,050 (4/6 – 4/10)
Current streak of pitches seen: 327
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.75% (2,407/2,413)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

4-12-12 (@ Chicago Cubs)

It was a lazy Thursday morning leading up to the game, and I debated which hot dog place I was going to hit up. I settled on Hot Doug’s, which is on California Avenue, and is just a short bus ride from Alex’s place. I had never had a Chicago style hot dog before, and thought today was a good day. I really don’t know why I haven’t, I just think I’ve never really had the opportunity. I like all the ingredients that are put on the dog, so there was no reason not to give it a try.

Below you have the exterior of Hot Doug’s (which is very inconspicuous), the inside (with a hilarious quote on the wall), and my lunch. I ordered “The Dog”, which is their Chicago-Style hot dog, consisting of a char-grilled dog, mustard, caramelized onions, relish, tomatoes, a pickle, and celery salt. I also got “The Dave Pound”, which is a corn dog. Let me tell you, “The Dog” is probably in the top five things I’ve eaten. It was simply amazing, and am upset that it took me so long to have a Chicago-style hot dog. The line stretched outside by the time I sat down, because it was right around noon. They get stuff out quickly, and it was worth the wait. I’ll be hitting up Hot Doug’s again when I’m back in Chicago in June and August.

I walked up California to Addison and jumped on the 152 bus, which took me right to Wrigley Field. I arrived with about an hour to spare, which worked out well. I wanted to get a good shot for game number seven, and have plenty of time to find my seat. I headed up Sheffield and worked my way around Wrigley, so I could get my picture taken with the back of the scoreboard behind me. There was a family who was doing the same thing and I asked the husband (Dave), if he’d help me out. He asked about the sign and I told him what I was trying to do, and he thought it was awesome. I mentioned my name and he said he knew a Ben *Rous*, but I told him mine had an e at the end. He gave me his business card and said if I ever needed anything when I was in Chicago to contact him. The result of his picture:

I know it says Chicago Cubs on the back of the scoreboard, but it’s an iconic scoreboard, so yeah.

The next photo is of the Harry Caray statue that is hiding behind me in the picture above. Just the mention of Harry Caray makes me laugh, not because I thought he was funny, but because of Will Ferrell. “Hey, if you were hot dog, would you eat yourself? Because I would, I’d put mustard on me….” It’s classic, and it will never get old, for me anyways.

I found my seat, which was aisle 33, row 1 (which is actually row 4), seat 4. I got a nice picture of the scoreboard just because I think it’s so cool. I know Fenway Park’s is also manual, but it doesn’t compare. Inside the Wrigley scoreboard there are as many as four workers, moving up and down ladders to keep the in progress out of town games up the minute. I like jumbotrons just as much as the next guy, but not having one is perfectly fine in my book. Since close plays can’t be shown at games anyways, not having one doesn’t bother me very much. The three open tiles on Milwaukee’s line is where you can see people peek out to get a glimpse of the action (not in this picture though).

My seat was in the sun today, and I was grateful after the two previous games where I froze. Luckily I remembered sun screen, otherwise my face would’ve gotten lobsteriffic. I took a few pictures early in the game. This first one is of Rickie Weeks getting set in the box in the first inning.

T-Plush singled in his first at bat and Iorg gave him some love at first (that sounds bad, I know).

The first inning was probably the closest the Brewers came to scoring a run today. Morgan singled and Braun followed with a walk, but Hart flied to center and Gamel grounded weakly to the pitcher, and that was that. Greinke didn’t have his best stuff, and the Cubs did get some lucky hits, i.e. Alfonso Soriano’s broken bat two run single in the third. The Cubs scored six in the third and two in the fourth. Greinke was charged with all eight earned runs. I’m actually fine that the Crew didn’t score any runs today. If we’re going to give up eight and lose, we might as well not score any, and save them for another day. Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather score nine and win, but if that’s not going to happen, it doesn’t really matter how many you score. I wouldn’t have been more upset if they lost 8-5 and “wasted” five runs, but I think you see where I’m coming from. Frankly: A loss is a loss.

I missed two pitches again today; one in the first and one in the ninth. The first was a 1-2 pitch from Greinke to Barney, I think I was tweeting a picture of the view from my seat. The second missed pitch came in the top of the ninth, with two outs. I was gathering my stuff so I could venture up the steps towards the tunnel, and watch the last out from there. Both poor excuses, I’ll try to improve. I am, actually, surprised I didn’t miss 10 or 15 pitches. My view of the pitcher was covered by the first base coach when the bases were empty, and then by the first baseman when someone was on first. As you can see; the pitcher is completely hidden.

I had to really pay attention to when the next pitch was coming, because I couldn’t rely on my peripheral vision to help me out. My internal clock helped (besides those two pitches), so I’ll put a W in my column today, just not the Brewers’.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Wrigley Field: 3 hours 27 minutes
Time on Wrigley Field grounds: 3 hours 38 minutes
Miles riding in car but not driving: 7.3
Public Transit Miles: 13.5
Sausages: 2 (Chicago Hot Dog, Corndog)
Pitches missed: 2 (Disgraceful)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.24% (261/263)

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 28 hours 19 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 38 hours 23 minutes
Miles driven: 292.3
Miles riding in car but not driving: 138.1
Public Transit miles: 42.4
Sausages: 8 (Italian, Bratwurst, Cheddarwurst, Polish, 2 Hot Dogs, Bison Dog, Corndog)
Pitches missed: 6
Longest streak of pitches seen: ~ 1,050 (4/6 – 4/10)
Current streak of pitches seen: 8 (Don’t judge me)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.71% (2,088/2,094)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

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