It was nice that Thursday was an off day, and I used it to do as little as possible. I had a physical therapy appointment at 2:00 pm and didn’t do much else besides that. My knee hasn’t gotten any better, and it’s actually worse than it was five days ago. I think the fast walking on Wednesday didn’t do me any favors. I left Madison at 3:30 on Friday, and made it to the Braves 2 parking lot by 5:00. I walked (slowly) back to the general lot to spread the word. It went well and my message was well received, except for one group. My routine is to ask people if they’ve heard about the guy going to all 162 Brewers games, and then go from there. They hadn’t and I told them that I was doing such a thing and I was raising awareness for Be The Match. This is when I usually start handing out my business cards and giving my spiel. One of the guys I tried handing a card to just refused, and said “nope, this is my last game of the year.” I don’t think he understood what I was talking about, so I tried to get his attention (and maybe make him feel a little guilty for being so harsh). I said “well I’m a Leukemia survivor, I got a bone marrow transplant and I’m raising awareness for the…” He basically just stopped me there and said “no”, and refused the card. I think I just said “wow”, turned my back, and walked away shaking my head. Everyone else I talked to seemed interested, or at least listened to what I had to say. A group of four guys offered me a brat and a Sun Drop, and I graciously accepted. I stayed and chatted with them for a bit but I didn’t get their names. If you guys are reading this; thank you!
I headed inside after about an hour in the parking lot, and was in Miller Park by 6:15. I went to section 219 for my game number photo. After taking a couple practice shots to see where I wanted to stand I spotted my twitter follower (Scott) who was joining me for the game. I had tweeted the day before that my extra ticket was available and Scott said he would join me. He donated $40 to Be The Match, which is $10 more than I requested. Thanks Scott! I walked over to his seat in 221 and had him take game photo number 76 for me. I asked him to get both foul poles in the shot and he got the job done. Nice work!
After getting the picture taken we sat in our seats and talked baseball until the game started at 7:10. Randy Wolf was on the mound for the Brewers, and he’s been struggling this year. He gave up a one-out double in the first, but got out of the inning unscathed. In the bottom half of the first the Brewers got back-to-back singles from Aoki and Morgan. Braun flew out to right, Aoki advanced to third and then Ramirez grounded out weakly to third. It was hit slow enough to prevent the D-Backs from turning a double play, and it allowed Aoki to score. As you can see, Ramirez didn’t get much behind the swing, but it got the job done.
The Diamondbacks tied it in the second and then erupted for five runs in the third inning to take a commanding 6-1 lead. The last three runs of the third came on a three-run home run off the bat of Paul Goldschmidt. He got some love at home plate from the guys he drove in.
The D-Backs added two more in the fourth and another in the sixth. The run in the sixth was driven in by Aaron Hill, who tripled to right centerfield. Hill had already doubled in the first, singled in the third, and homered in the fourth. This meant that the triple completed a cycle, the SECOND cycle of the month for Aaron Hill! Unbelievable. I had never attended a game where a cycle had been achieved, so it was *kind of* cool to see. I’ve now been in attendance for a no hitter (Justin Verlander vs. the Brewers in June 2007), a 5-4-3 triple play (Aaron Rowand groundout vs. the Brewers in September 2009), and now a cycle. The ball was thrown back to the infield, and then thrown towards the Diamondbacks dugout as a keepsake. Instead of bouncing to one of the guys at the top step of the dugout it went over their heads and into the stands. You can see a bunch of D-Backs players and coaches pleading for the ball back, and Aaron Hill chilling at third base. Eventually the fan gave the ball back and someone threw a different (meaningless) ball back to the fan.
The sausage race takes place between the top and bottom of the sixth inning, and it was the most competitive thing all night. I decide who I’m picking by looking at the contestant’s legs. I couldn’t see the Bratwurst’s legs, so I chose the Italian even though I dislike the sausage for taste reasons. Once the race started and the Bratwurst’s legs were visible I could see she was wearing pink shoe laces. I’m guessing it’s the same girl who had pink laces before, and she won both times I’ve seen her. It was a photo finish (they dropped the tape early; BOOOO) and the Bratwurst got the win.
In the bottom of the sixth the Brewers scored two runs, and with another single they could’ve cut the lead to four. Taylor Green flew out to centerfield with runners on second and third, and the Brewers’ two runs in the frame concluded the scoring. Final Score: Diamondbacks 9 – Brewers 3. After the sixth inning I had a fan a few rows in front of us take a picture of Scott and myself. I’m on the left, Scott’s on the right.
At one point I saw an airplane flying dangerously close to the waxing-gibbous moon and I thought it was picture-worthy. What was the pilot thinking!?!?
That’s all for now, tomorrow (well, today now) is a new day. If the Crew can win the last 9 games before the break they’ll be a game over .500. Never say never!
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE
Wednesday was getaway day, so another afternoon game was on the schedule. The Reds schedule their weekday afternoon games at 12:35, and it’s a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. It’s good because you can get out of the city before rush hour, and it’s bad because there is 30 less minutes between the game the night before and the day game.
Victoria had asked me to pick up some Skyline Chili, so on my way to the game on Wednesday I stopped at a Kroger and picked up two cans. $3.69 for a can of chili seems ridiculous, but it is delicious. I pulled into the lot next to Paul Brown Stadium, paid the $10, and made my way towards Great American Ballpark. I got to the will call window to pick up my Brewers-provided ticket, only to realize I didn’t have my wallet. When I took it out to pay for parking I must have just set it on the passenger seat. I was still able to get my ticket (by saying my name, how many tickets were there, and who was leaving it), but I didn’t want to leave my wallet [visible] in my car for four hours. It was 11:50 at this point, and I was supposed to meet Niko at 12:00 inside the ballpark. I decided I would walk back and get it (it’s about 8/10 of a mile roundtrip). I walked as fast as I could and it probably wasn’t the best for my knee, but I made it back and was inside by 12:02.
I met with Niko and Julia who were going to escort me down to the field so I could deliver the game ball and rosin bag to the mound. This was my field access pass:
As you can see, the person who filled it out just put “Lucky Fan” in the name field. I know what I’m doing is pretty cool, and some people might be envious, but I don’t consider myself “lucky” in the sense. I worked really hard to put myself in position to make this dream come true, and luck doesn’t have much to do with it. I feel lucky to be alive, because at times I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. I also feel blessed and grateful that the Brewers are backing me in this endeavor, but not lucky, because I don’t think luck was involved.
They took me down into the bowels of the stadium and we stopped outside the hallway that leads to the field. There was a cameraman there from WCPO Channel 9 Cincinnati and he wanted to do a short interview. I got mic’d up and the four of us walked down the hallway and into the camera well. We did the interview with my back to the Brewers dugout, and I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out. I think I did a good job answering the questions, but I was really hot from the speed walking I had just done and the fact that it was almost 90 degrees. A few times I had to wipe my face to prevent sweat from dripping into my eye.
After the interview I stood on the warning track and had Julia take my game number photo for me. I like that you can see a kid throwing out a ceremonial first pitch as the picture is being taken.
We then walked around towards home plate and Tim Dillard said “Don’t bounce it” as I walked past the Brewers dugout. I didn’t have time to stop and explain that I wasn’t throwing out the first pitch, but I laughed and waved. When we got to the backstop I was handed the game ball and rosin bag. I just realized that the ball may not have even been used for the first pitch, because if the pitcher threw one in the dirt while warming up the ump switches it with a clean one, and the original one is discarded.
We stood up against the backstop as the national anthem was sung, and then it was go time. Kathryn Braun (no relation to Ryan) was directing people on the field, and told me where to stand and what to do. There was a cameraman right in front of me as I faced the stands on the first base side. When he started rolling (and I was on the jumbotron) I was instructed to start waving. That’s Rosie Red (sometimes referred to as Mrs. Redlegs) next to me. It is uncertain if Rosie Red and Mr. Redlegs are a couple, I’m sure TMZ has a story if you’re interested.
I always think it’s weird when the person is just waving for an extended period of time. I even looked at Kathryn at one point and asked if I could stop waving. As I was standing there the public address announcer was informing the fans of what I was doing and why. They plugged Be The Match and at one point I think he said “you could possibly save someone’s life, like Ben’s”. That may have turned people off because what Reds fan would want to save a Brewers fan’s life? I’m kidding of course. I was then instructed to deliver the ball and rosin bag. As I was placing the ball on the mound one of their photographers got a picture.
I included the picture of me walking back from the mound below. I glanced towards the Brewers dugout to see if Dillard was on the top step, but I couldn’t see him. I was going to give a Shooter McGavin point if I saw him. I’m wearing the ankle brace to try and get my foot to pronate better. As you can see my left foot is supinating, and I roll off onto the lateral (outside) side of the foot. My big toe doesn’t touch the ground and we think the supination may be leading to the knee problems.
I have to give a shout out to Jarrod, who works for the Reds and forwarded these pictures to me yesterday afternoon. Now, I had asked if maybe I could just go up into the seating bowl right from the field, because I was afraid I would miss the first few pitches if I went up through the tunnels. They had said they might be able to do that, but we wound up just going back the way we came. I was walking pretty fast, as I had a pitch streak going that I was trying to extend. I took two steps at a time when we went up a staircase, something that I haven’t done for months now because stairs are what causes the most pain. I thought it was worth it, and I made it to the field level concourse and then to the top of a section where I could see the field. I saw that Homer Bailey’s pitch count was at one, and I had missed the first pitch by about 10 seconds. Norichika Aoki had popped out to the shortstop on the first pitch of the game. It was a little frustrating, but if one person joins the registry or makes a donation because of the exposure I got while delivering the ball and rosin bag, it’s worth it.
I went to my seat in section 112 after the top of the first, and this was the view.
In the top of the second Corey Hart tripled to lead off the inning and Ricke Weeks followed with a home run to straight-away center, just narrowly missing Chris Heisey’s glove as he reached over the wall. Here’s Rickie giving Ed Sedar a forearm shiver as he makes his way towards home plate.
In the third inning the Brewers increased their lead to 3-0 when Aramis Ramirez drove in Aoki with a single to left. The Reds got that run back in the bottom half when Phillips’ single scored Heisey. Ransom hit a two run home run in the top of the fourth inning to increase the lead to 5-1. As he touched home Chart was there to thank him for driving him in.
The Reds got a solo home run in their half of the fourth, and another run in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI groundout from Cairo. In the top of the ninth the Brewers scored three more runs, one coming on an Ishikawa RBI single, the other two by bases loaded walks from Ramirez and Chart. The Reds got a leadoff home run in the bottom of the ninth, and the second batter was retired on a flyout to Nyjer Morgan. Here he is preparing to make the catch as Carlos Gomez backs him up.
The solo home run is all the Reds could muster in the ninth inning. Final Score: Brewers 8 – Reds 4. Livan Hernandez, who the Brewers recently acquired, pitched the ninth inning and got a high five from Maldonado after retiring the last batter of the game.
I almost forgot to mention Zack Greinke, who pitched six solid innings, giving up two runs on five hits, while walking one and striking out three. He’s our stopper and helped prevent the Brewers from surpassing their longest losing streak of the season. Here he is in the fourth inning, and the pitch resulted in a strikeout of Homer Bailey to end the inning.
Right after the game I jumped in my car and drove back to Madison. I made it in 7 hours and 9 minutes, averaging 64.9 miles per hour, which includes the one 10 minute stop that I made. The fastest I ever hit was 80, and that was just briefly, so it was a leisurely drive through parts of four states. It’s an off day today, and then I’m right back at it tomorrow for the first game of a three game set with the Diamondbacks. Ten games in ten days and then it’s the All-Star break! I’m looking forward to the break, and being able to watch a baseball game on TV in it’s entirety.
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE
I’ll start with the radio interview I did on Monday morning. Tom Kief of the Tom and Emily show on 95 WIIL ROCK tweeted me the link to the audio, and I’ve included it below. I talk about the mission and clear up some misconceptions that he even had about the registration and donor processes..
Tuesday, due to my Grandpa’s recommendation, I visited the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. I left Prince’s place at 1:25, and was parked by Paul Brown Stadium by 1:40. I hadn’t had lunch yet, so I walked up to the Skyline Chili on East 4th street. I ordered the 5-way extreme, which consisted of a bed of spaghetti noodles, their traditional secret-recipe chili, red beans, diced onions and habanero cheese. I just looked at the nutritional information online, and it’s about what I expected: 870 calories, 42 grams of fat (23 saturated), 1,790 mg of sodium, 70 grams of carbs, and 52 grams of proteins. Seeing as a I haven’t gained any weight since the season started, I think I can handle it. It was delicious, and I will likely be returning when I’m in Cincinnati about three weeks from now.
I got done with lunch around 2:35 and walked back to the Freedom Center. It’s $12 for an adult, and with the amount of stuff you can see in there, it’s worth it. I thought over two hours would be enough (they close at 5 pm) but it wasn’t. I could’ve spent at least another hour in there. This is the Freedom Center as seen from Second Street.
The main entrance is on the other side of the building, facing the river. Just inside the doors there is a cool sculpture of two arms grasping one another.
I basically got kicked out at 5:00 pm (they come around and inform people they’ll be closing in three minutes/and then tell you they’re closed). It was really interesting, but also frustrating, because of how those of European descent treated African-Americans. I’m just going to post two other pictures from my visit. This first one is of the reconstructed “slave pen” that is standing on the second floor of the Freedom Center. This slave pen belonged to John W. Anderson, and this is where he would keep “his” slaves between deals with other buyers.
Next to the slave pen they have a letter that he had written to an acquaintance that detailed what type of slaves he wanted and what he’d be willing to pay for them. The letter is dated 1832, and shows how the internal slave trade persisted after Americans could no longer import slaves from other countries. You can click the image if you’d like to get a closer look.
The few pictures I’ve included don’t do the Freedom Center justice, you should really check it out if you’re ever in Cincinnati. I love history, even if this is an ugly side to our country’s past. It happened, and the only way to move on is to understand what happened and honor those who risked their lives to help get others to freedom.
I walked around outside for a bit and then walked over to Great American Ballpark where I met up with Barry. We were inside right after the gates opened, and went to the upper deck to try and get game photo number 74. Most of the field was still sunny, but because it was 5:40 the seats were all in the shade and it made getting a good picture almost impossible. I also had one taken down by the field, but I’ll stick with the one from the upper deck for the time being. Mainly because I’ll be going on the field tomorrow to deliver the game ball and rosin bag to the mound, and I’m going to try and get a picture while on the field.
Barry and I then went down to the field level and headed to our seats. Inside the home plate entrance they have two nice pieces of artwork that are made of tiles. The first is of the “First Nine”, Cincinnati had the first professional team in 1869, and this piece commemorates that team.
In the 1970′s the Reds had the Big Red Machine which consisted of Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Tony Pérez. They were supported by four other players (Dave Concepción, George Foster, César Gerøonimo, and Ken Griffey, Sr.) and the other piece of artwork honors “The Great Eight” of 1975.
Barry and I got to our seats with about 30-40 minutes before first pitch, talked baseball and waited for the game to start. This was our view from section 115 when Bronson Arroyo delivered the first pitch of the game to Aoki.
Arroyo was pitching great, and I have to include a picture of him for his efforts and to point out his extremely high leg kick.
Marco Estrada, who had just been activated from the disabled list after a couple of minor league rehab starts, was on the hill for the Brewers. He also pitched well, and struck out 12 over six innings, meaning that 2/3 of the outs he recorded were via the strikeout.
In the third inning, Zack Cozart (the Reds shortstop), hit one deep to centerfield. Nyjer Morgan retreated and made a nice catch as he crashed into the left-centerfield fence. Where he hit the fence was actually a gate, and he hit it so hard that it swung open. As he was nearing the dugout I got a picture of him getting ready to high-five César Izturis. I like that you can see Cozart in the background looking out towards where Morgan made the catch, still in disbelief.
In the sixth the Reds got back to back one-out hits from Votto and Phillips and Jay Bruce stepped to the plate with two runners aboard. Estrada tried a 77 MPH curveball to start off the at bat and Bruce thanked him kindly by putting it over the centerfield fence to give the Reds a 3-0 lead.
Arroyo had a no-hitter going, and luckily my tweet finally posted that said “Bronson Arroyo has a (cough) no-hitter (cough) through 7 innings. Jinx jinx jinx!!!” It worked, but maybe it was because I screamed something at the start of the eighth inning. Everyone knows that you’re not supposed to talk about the no-hitter and whatnot. Understanding this I waited until the music stopped right before Travis Ishikawa’s at bat was set to begin. I then put my hands around my mouth (to amplify my voice) and yelled “HEY BRONSON, DID YOU KNOW YOU HAVEN’T GIVEN UP A HIT YET?!?!?” A guy in front of me was kind of upset and gave a half-hearted “come on, man.” I was really hoping Ishikawa would get a base hit, but he didn’t, and was called out on strikes. Right after he was rung up a lady in front of us turned around and yelled “HA!!!” really loud. She had some hate in her eyes and I was a little alarmed but I just laughed it off. I laughed even louder and gave my own “HA!” when Taylor Green doubled following a George Kottaras walk. Corey Hart pinch hit for Izturis, and lined one off the centerfield fence to cut the lead to 3-2. After Rickie Weeks popped out, Aoki came to the plate and hit the full count offering through the left side to drive in Hart, who slid home with the tying run. Check out Morgan getting down to let Hart know to slide, and also him screaming when he sees Hart is safe.
Axford came out for the bottom of the eighth inning in a tie game, and I’m not sure why. It wasn’t a save situation, but the Reds did have the meat of their order coming up. Stubbs led off for the Reds, and the first pitch he saw (a 95 MPH fastball) was crushed off the batter’s eye in straight-away centerfield to give the reds the lead. The Brewers failed to score in the top of the ninth, and that was that. Final Score: Reds 4 – Brewers 3. This losing thing is getting a little old.
I haven’t missed a pitch since Wednesday vs. Toronto, and I’m hoping to keep it up. Since I’ll be delivering the game ball and rosin bag to the mound for today’s game, I’m hoping I don’t have to exit into one of the tunnels by the dugouts. If I do I will surely miss the first few pitches of the game since I’ll be leaving the field so close to first pitch. I’ll try to negotiate, and we’ll see how it goes.
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE
Monday morning started with a 8:30 alarm so I could be awake for the rescheduled on-air interview. Tom Kief of the Tom & Emily Morning Show on 95 WIIL ROCK gave me a call at 9:40, and I talked on air about the mission to attend all 162 Brewers games. More importantly we discussed Be The Match and how easy it is to join the registry. I was on the show for about ten minutes, and afterwards I finished up the post for Sunday. I decided I was going to get lunch at Zip’s Cafe, which is just a few blocks from Prince’s apartment. The four parter below details Zip’s Cafe, and goes clockwise from top left.
1) The exterior of Zip’s Cafe, which is located on Delta Avenue, east of downtown Cincinnati.
2) The interior of the restaurant.
3) The back of the menu, as you can see, not much has changed, which is a good thing. I’m not sure how old the photograph is, but the restaurant opened in 1926.
4) My lunch, I had a cup of Zip’s “Famous” Chili, and a chicken salad sandwich. I should’ve gotten the bowl of chili because it was delicious, and I was still hungry after finishing both parts of my meal.
After lunch I walked back to Prince’s place and took it easy for an hour or so and then got ready for the game. Barry, a Brewers fan from Milwaukee who now lives in Cincinnati, had tickets for the first two games of the series. He works in the Bengals ticket offices, and I met him just before five to grab my ticket for the game. He had to stay a little longer at work and joined me later. I parked and walked from Paul Brown Stadium towards Great American Ballpark, and the Reds’ home is hard to miss. You can see one of the exterior stadium signs on the right, as well as some of the light towers.
As you get closer to the stadium you come across the John G. and Phyllis W. Smale Riverfront Park. It has some nice water features, and seems like a relaxing place to pass the time.
Once I got closer to the park I turned around and got a picture of the John A Roebling Suspension Bridge.
I then walked up to the stadium to get my game number picture taken. I had a Brewers fan take the picture at first, and I liked the last one he took, after having him re-take it three times. I didn’t like all the people in the background, so I waited until they opened the gates and had one of those fan-photo camera guys take a picture with my camera. I wound up not really liking those either, but I dislike this one the least.
I went inside at 5:50 and walked around and took some pictures, while also taking in some of the Brewers batting practice. This is a close up look at the white light towers that are used at the park. There aren’t any other parks that use as much white as the Reds do, and I kind of like it. I’m also someone who would just wear white t-shirts all the time if that was socially acceptable.
I went to the top row of the “bleachers” in right field. I put bleachers in parentheses because they’re actually seats. The only bleachers are in the second level of seating beyond the left field wall. This is the view looking back at home plate. Great American Insurance Group bought the naming rights to the park, and you can see one of their buildings in the upper right of the picture below.
The picture below is of the scoreboard and the smoke stacks that they shoot fireworks out of before games and after home runs. The structure is supposed to resemble a riverboat, and it’s a pretty cool feature at Great American Ballpark. The white baseball bats add a nice touch to the top of the smoke stacks.
After batting practice I walked around a little, and noticed this guy signing a bunch of baseballs.
They had some NASCAR cars in the ballpark, and I was pretty sure it was Richard Petty. I overheard some other people talking and they confirmed my assumption. This coming weekend’s NASCAR race is near Cincinnati, so I’m guessing they were trying some cross promotion. There was a current driver signing baseballs as well, but I don’t remember his name. The two of them threw out ceremonial first pitches, and Petty’s was a 45 footer. I wasn’t impressed.
I found my seat, and Barry met me before the game got underway. His friend Will (a Reds fan) was joining us as well, but he didn’t arrive until the fourth inning. This was the scene as Mat Latos delivered the game’s opening pitch to Aoki. The first inning turned out to be the Brewers best chance to score. They had runners on first and second with no one out and Braun at the plate, Ramirez on deck, and Chart in the hole. They managed to score zero runs.
Gallardo was on the mound for the Brewers, and I got him as he was about to release the first pitch in the bottom half of the opening frame.
Pretty much right when Will showed up the Reds pushed two runs across. They both scored in the fourth when Jay Bruce lined a double to left field. The Brewers avoided a second straight shutout when Aoki homered to lead off the bottom of the sixth. I like the Brewers fans standing and cheering in the upper left.
The Reds added a run in the eighth inning, and that concluded the scoring. Final Score: Reds 3 – Brewers 1. Mat Latos pitched a complete game four-hitter, giving up the one run, while walking two and striking out 13. Kroger gives ticket holders free pizza and ice cream if the team strikes out at least 11. When the eleventh Brewer struck out the crowd erupted, louder than when they scored the two runs in the fourth. You have to exchange your ticket stub to get the freebies so I will not be partaking in the giveaway, and probably wouldn’t have done it anyways.
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE
Sunday was getaway day for the Brewers and myself, and I was hoping for a smooth-sailing afternoon. Alex and Jess (my hosts in Chicago) joined me for the game, and we left their apartment in Logan Square just before noon for the 1:10 game. I thought this would be plenty of time because U.S. Cellular field is only nine miles away. I was wrong. The traffic wasn’t too bad, but once we got to the 35th street exit we realized we should have left much earlier. I’d say we were off the interstate by 12:15, but weren’t parked until 12:45. We quickly walked the 1/3 of a mile to get in the park, and made our way to the upper deck. Luckily the staircase provided a good spot for game photo number 72, because the seats towards the front of the sections were pretty much full 15 minutes before first pitch.
Before I forget; I had taken some other pictures before/during the previous two games, and hadn’t posted them. This first one is a six parter, and has the statues that the White Sox have beyond the centerfield wall. Going clockwise from top left:
1) Minnie Miñoso, a 9-time All-Star whose full name is Saturnino Orestes Armas ”Minnie” Miñoso Arrieta. He had five stints with the White Sox; 1951-1957, 1960-1961, 1964, 1976, and 1980.
2) Carlton Fisk, an 11-time All-Star who played for the Red Sox the first part of his career, and then the White Sox from 1981-1993. Fisk is most famous for his 12th inning walk off home run that won Game 6 of the ’75 World Series. The left field foul pole is at Fenway Park is commonly referred to as the Fisk Foul Pole, or Fisk’s Pole.
3) Walter William Pierce, better known as Billy. He was a starter for the White Sox, won 186 games for the them during his 13 years with the South Siders (1949-1961), and was a 7-time All-Star.
4) Jacob Nelson Fox “Nellie” played second base for the White Sox from 1950-1963. He was a 15-time All-Star.
5) Luis Aparicio played shortstop for the Pale Hose from 1956-1962, and again from 1968-1970. He was a 13-time All-Star. I put the Fox and Aparicio photos next to each other because that’s how they are positioned at the ballpark. Fox is flipping a ball to Aparicio, who is at the second base bag, something they likely did thousands of times (including practice) while they played together for seven seasons.
6) Harold Baines, a six-time All-Star who played for the White Sox from 1980-1989, 1996-1997, and 2000-2001.
There was also a statue of Charles Comiskey at U.S. Cellular Field, as there should be. Charles “The Old Roman” Comiskey played in the majors from 1882 to 1894. He then managed a Western League team in Iowa, moved it to Saint Paul, and eventually to the South Side of Chicago and renamed the club the White Stockings. They joined the renamed American League, which became a major league in 1901. A lot of people still refer to U.S. Cellular Field as Comiskey Park, which was its name from 1991 to 2003. The White Sox played in one stadium from 1910-1990, and for 64 of the 81 years it was called Comiskey Park.
One picture that I didn’t post from Saturday’s game is of the White Sox’s mascot; Southpaw. I don’t think teams need to have mascots, but it’s mainly for the kids, so I’ll let it slide. Here is Southpaw as he tries to get the crowd going from the camera well. I’m not sure what he’s supposed to be, but he better be a lefty with that name (southpaw is slang for a lefty, and mainly used in baseball circles).
Alright, back to Sunday’s game. Our seats were in the ninth row of 529 (in the upper deck) but we went all the way up to the last row to get some extra space. It’s also a little more breezy in the last row, and it was extremely comfortable up there. This was the view as Jose Quintana delivered the opening pitch to Norichika Aoki.
There wasn’t too much action during the game, but the flying earwigs gave us something to think about. One landed on Jess’ shirt and she freaked out a little. One landed on my knee and I destroyed it after brushing it off, and another landed in my hair; not cool. Other than that we had a good time in the upper deck, and I recommend the seat location, as long as you don’t get stuck behind one of the many beams that support the roof. Mike Fiers was on the hill for the Brewers, and pitched very well, he pitched seven and a third, gave up five hits, one walk, no runs, and struck out seven. Here he is pitching in the first inning.
There weren’t many exciting moments during the game, so Alex and I tried to get a good shot of a fielder making a catch in the outfield. Alex had a shot with the ball closer to the glove, but it was a little blurry, so I’ll declare myself the winner. This is Aoki making a catch on an A.J. Pierzynski flyout in the bottom of the fourth inning. Again, I don’t have an amazing camera, so all my pictures are taken by just hitting the shutter once, not holding it. The really nice cameras can capture 8 or 9 frames per second, mine is somewhere in the 2.5 to 3 range, so I don’t even use it that way.
In the fifth or sixth inning a Twitter follower and some of his friends came up and said hi. Kyle and his friends are going to tonight’s game in Cincinnati as well, and it’s always cool seeing other Brewers fans that are *almost* as crazy as I am. Before they took off in the middle of the seventh inning I had Kyle take a picture of me, Alex and Jess. Alex and Jess got married last June, and I stood up in the wedding as a groomsman. I can’t thank them enough for letting me crash at their place for 11+ nights this season. Their spare room has a couch that I’ve been sleeping on, but the room doubles as Jess’ closet, so I’m grateful that she puts up with me. I couldn’t do this without your guys’ help, so thank you!
The game was scoreless going into the top of the ninth, when Aramis Ramiriz singled to left with one out.
Nyjer Morgan pinch ran for Ramirez, and on the very next pitch Corey Hart singled to right. Weeks then struck out swinging, and George Kottaras came to the plate with two down. On a 3-1 count Morgan took off for third (thinking it was a full count), George swung and missed and Nyjer was thrown out by a mile. Who knows if George would’ve came through with a hit on the next pitch, but I would’ve liked to see him get the opportunity. The White Sox failed to score in the ninth despite having the bases loaded, and the game went to the tenth. The Brewers didn’t score in the tenth, and the White Sox got a leadoff double in their half of the inning. A flyout a walk and a strikeout followed, and the stage was set for Eduardo Escobar. This is what happened, going clockwise from top left:
1) Escobar lining Parra’s pitch to left-center.
2) Alejandra De Aza touching home plate with the only run of the game. Final Score: White Sox 1 – Brewers 0.
3) Adam Dunn barreling into Escobar.
4) The rest of the team celebrating the walk-off victory by giving nougies and body shots to Escobar as a way of congratulating him on a job well done.
Ugh. To make matters worse, the escalators were all shut down where I wanted to exit, so I had to take the back and forth ramps all the way down to the ground level. Boooooooooo! Hisssssssssss! I don’t even think they have staircases that people can take, I know it would’ve been more painful, but I would’ve gotten out of there a lot quicker. The view of Chicago from the ramp is pretty legit, though, so I can’t be too upset.
I got to my car at 4:40 and was on the interstate shortly thereafter. I made it to Cincinnati in exactly four hours and 45 minutes, and that included a 15 minute pit stop for some gasoline, a bathroom break, a Jack Link’s Beef Jerky stick, and an Almond Snickers. I’m staying with Prince in Cincinnati, and he’s a swell fella. He was born and raised in NYC, went to school at Penn State (BOOOOO, Go Badgers!), lived in D.C., then Madison, now Cincinnati, and was a former hotdogger. Victoria met former hot-doggers when she was on the road as a Wienermobile driver back in 2009 and 2010, and now has connections in various cities. This is one of them.
I’m going to hit up a local place for lunch today, then head down to Great American Ballpark around 4:30. I’ll be sitting with a local Brewers fan both Monday and Tuesday, and he’s hooked me up with free tickets to the game. Thanks Barry!
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I didn’t get up until 11:15 on Saturday morning, but I didn’t go to bed until after 2:00 am the night before, so we’ll call it even. Jess was helping throw a bachelorette party for a friend of hers, so Alex and I had time to hang out. We played two games of cribbage (I won them both) and then we jumped on the L at 2:00 pm. We took the blue line to the Damen stop, where we got off and walked to Piece, a pizza place on Milwaukee Avenue. The four parter below explains what went down. Going clockwise from top left:
1) The interior of Piece, you can’t see much of it, but the ceiling looks like the bottom of a ship (or at least I think it does).
2) The menu. It was a little pricey, but that’s to be expected in a trendy Chicago Brewery and Pizzeria.
3) An advertisement for their takeout. well done, Piece. If you can’t read it, click on the picture, and a larger image will open up in a new tab or window. If you look closely you can also see my hands, face, and shirt in the reflection.
4) Our lunch/dinner. We got a traditional medium pie with red onions, green peppers, italian sausage, and sautéed mushrooms. I know I’ve said that I’m not a big fan of italian sausage because of the fennel seeds, but I don’t think I tasted one on Saturday.
Alex and I managed to eat the whole thing save for one small sliver of a slice. It was quite good, but the $22.25 price tag for a medium pizza does seem a little ridiculous. To their credit, the rent that they have to pay at the location they’re in is probably much higher than a place in Madison. We jumped on the L at Division, and took it to the Jackson stop, where we transferred to the red line. We got to the Sox-35th stop just before 4:45, and were in front of the Cell a few minutes later. We walked around for a bit and found where home plate at Comiskey Park used to be. They commemorated it with a marble home plate at the site of the original.
We got inside around 5:10 and waited until batting practice was over. After they removed the protective tarps from the field we went down to get game photo number 71.
You can see in the background that they were getting the field ready for the game. At the Cell readying the field apparently involves meticulously watering around the chalk lines of the batters box. I know a lot of teams probably do this, but I just think it looks silly with the watering can and all.
While we waited for the game to start I let Alex take some pictures with my camera. This was one that he took. I’m not sure what they’re doing, but the trainer is winning… (I know he is stretching the guys’ hamstring, but just play along).
The game started and I couldn’t help but to take a picture of the White Sox’s starting pitcher. Here he is throwing the second pitch of the ballgame to Norichika Aoki. Just how sweet of a last name is Axelrod? Even if he doesn’t have a successful big league career, he’ll still have that sweet*** last name to fall back on.
The Brewers got on the board in the bottom of the second inning when Kottaras doubled to left. A misplay by the Sox’s left fielder allowed Aramis Ramirez to trot home. Here he is just milliseconds before he touched the plate. Cody Ransom (the on deck batter) has his hands up to tell Ramirez that he doesn’t need to slide. The on deck hitter will position himself in line with the route of the runner, and let them know if they need to slide, and maybe even what type/where they should slide.
In the second inning the White Sox took a 2-1 lead when they got back-to-back one out RBI singles from Viciedo and Alexei Ramirez. The Brewers came back in the third and tied it on an RBI single from Braun. In the bottom of the fourth the White Sox again went in front (4-2), this time on a two-run home run from Viciedo. The Brewers scored one in the fifth on an RBI single from Nyjer Morgan, then three more in the sixth to take a 6-4 lead. RBI singles by Maldonado and Ransom accounted for the first two runs in the sixth, and a sacrifice fly from Gomez the final run. This next picture is of Gomez, just before he connected on the sacrifice fly. I don’t know why, but his bat and the ball are almost unidentifiable. If you click on it and look closely you can see the bat and the ball, but they are both pretty hard to see. I labeled it “Gomez without a bat?” because if you just glance at it that’s what you’d think. The scientific reason for their appeared disappearance is the speed of the bat and the ball, the slow shutter speed (1/160th of a second), the lighting, and the fact that both his bat and the ball are relatively light objects to begin with.
The White Sox weren’t done scoring (unfortunately) and they scored two runs of their own in the sixth, then solo runs in the seventh and eighth. Final Score: White Sox 8 – Brewers 6.
It was a tough one, and Randy Wolf just can’t buy a win right now. He didn’t pitch the best, but he gave the Crew a chance to win. Again the bullpen let him down, but that’s baseball, it happens. I have to mention the guy behind me and Alex because he was obnoxious. From the starting lineup announcements we could tell we were probably going to be annoyed by the end of the game. We were spot on. I’m not sure if he was with his girlfriend, or just a girl that was a friend, but it seemed like he was trying to impress her with his baseball knowledge. Corey Hart made a scoop on a bad throw early in the game, and he said it wasn’t a hard play. I told him that Hart has been in the outfield for the last seven or so years. He then wondered aloud why Prince wasn’t starting at first. I told him that Prince was with the Tigers now. He said “Oh, I didn’t know, I haven’t paid attention to Milwaukee the past 10 years.” We then told him that Detroit is in the White Sox division (the AL Central). I think he responded with something like “well I don’t pay that close attention”. It was a major signing for an intra-division rival, so I’m not sure how he missed it. Later in the game we heard him say that Minnesota was losing, “like they always do”, so he must be somewhat up to date to know that the Twins aren’t very good this year. Late in the game the girl he was with asked if a 3-2 count was a full count and he said yes. She then asked if it was still a full count if it was a 3-2 count with 2 outs. He said yes to that as well, but then said “but it’s more dangerous.” I have no idea what that meant, but now this poor lady is going to be ducking for cover every time there’s a 3-2 count with 2 outs at a baseball game. Ok, maybe not, but still… He also chanted HGH every time Braun came to the plate, which was pleasant. Alright, I’ll stop ranting now.
I’ll be leaving for the game in less than 11 hours, so I’m calling it a night. I’m leaving from the park tomorrow, and driving right to Cincinnati, and I’m hoping to get there by 10:00 pm eastern time. I’m staying with a former hotdogger that Victoria is friends with. I probably won’t get the post up for Sunday until Monday afternoon. We’ll see how I feel when I’m done driving.
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The off day on Thursday was mostly spent in Madison, trying to recover from a cold. I also had an 11:30 am oil change, but that was the extent of my schedule. I left Madison around 6:00 pm and was parked at Alex and Jess’ place in Chicago at 8:30. We watched game five of the NBA Finals, and then called it a night.
Friday I really didn’t have any plans, and I lounged until 1:00 pm or so, when I decided I should get some lunch. I had been to Hot Doug’s (a local hot dog place) on April 12th, when I was in Chicago for the Brewers-Cubs series. I was craving a Chicago style hot dog, so I figured I should make another visit. The four part picture below explains what went down. Going clockwise from top left:
1) The line wrapping around the building at Hot Doug’s. There were probably 15-20 people in front of those that you are visible in the picture. I think it was about a 45 minute wait.
2) The sausage display case at the counter where you place your order. You can see some racing sausage bobble heads there on the lower right and also a mini wienermobile (my girlfriend Victoria used to be a “hotdogger”).
3) My lunch. On the left you have their “Game of the Week” special, and on Friday it was a Blueberry and merlot venison sausage with blackberry mustard and gouda cheese. The two other sausages are both char-grilled dogs with “everything”, which is mustard, caramelized onions, relish, tomatoes, a pickle, and celery salt. This of course is a Chicago Style hot dog. The venison dog was ok, but a little strange. There were some crunchy bites, and I’m thinking they were the seeds from the blackberry mustard… I hope. with the Vitamin Water my lunch set me back $13.50. All in all it was worth it.
4) What remained when I called it quits. I was more than stuffed. I think this was one of those instances where your eyes are bigger than your stomach.
I drove back to Alex and Jess’ place, rested for about an hour, then left for the game. I jumped on the blue line L-Train at 4:37, transferred to the red line, and arrived at the “Sox-35th” stop. This is what greets you when you get off the train:
The bridge in the picture above provides a nice view of downtown Chicago.
Once I got to the park I walked around and tried to find the best spot for the exterior game number picture. There really isn’t a best spot. You can comment if you want and let me know which one you like better. The first is taken from the first base side of the stadium. I like it because it has the Sox and U.S. Cellular Field graphic, but I dislike it it because of the (ugly) ramps on both sides of said graphic. The second one I like because it’s from around home plate, and you can kind of tell that it’s a baseball stadium… maybe. I dislike it because the U.S. Cellular Field text is barely visible at the very top of the exterior wall.
I went inside after getting the second picture taken, and when I entered the seating bowl on the first base side I saw this:
Lucroy without a cast!!! He’s talking with Roenicke about something, and I’m hoping it’s not about the bat he’s leaning on. I didn’t even notice that until I uploaded this picture just now. I guess if you need both hands… why not? I saw Dillard shagging balls in the outfield and I went over to chat for a bit. When he got close to the wall at one point I shouted in my best Harray Caray voice: “Hey Tim, it’s Ben Rouse”. I thought he didn’t hear it, but then he came walking over (he must’ve turned and looked when I wasn’t paying attention. He said that he did wave towards the press box on Wednesday (like I requested) and now I feel like an idiot for forgetting to watch for him. We didn’t talk for long, but it’s cool that a major leaguer is interested in my mission, and is trying to help spread the word. He told me that he’s telling guys in the clubhouse, “whoever will listen”, he said. Thanks Tim!
This was the view from the left-centerfield bleachers after I got done talking with Dillard. That’s him in the bottom center, just after throwing one back towards the infield. It was really sunny, as you can tell, and I headed to my seat shortly thereafter.
The game started on time at 7:10, and on paper it was going to be a low-scoring affair. Coming into the game Zack Greinke had a 3.10 earned run average and the White Sox’s starter, Chris Sale, a 2.46 ERA. This was the view from my seat in section 117 as Sale pitched to Aoki in the top of the first. I had bought this seat before the Brewers had agreed to help out, and I was on the aisle. Aisle seats are a blessing and a curse at the same time. The aisle was to my left, meaning that whenever people went up or down the steps they were in my way. If I hadn’t “dodged, ducked, dipped, dived, or dodged” I would’ve missed 25-30 pitches, at least. I wound up missing none (I’m patting myself on the back).
Greinke walked Adam Dunn in the bottom of the first inning, and you could tell some of the balls were close to the zone. Greinke wanted to know where he was missing, and after he retired the side he talked with home plate umpire Mike Winters for a minute. It may look like the umpire is upset, but I think it was a friendly talk, as Greinke had a smile on his face after they were done.
In the second inning Greinke made it seem like his talk was worth it, and he struck out Alex Rios looking to open the frame. This is Greinke about to release the pitch that retired Rios.
The game was an old fashioned pitcher’s duel. Greinke pitched nine scoreless innings, giving up 3 hits, the one walk, and he struck out 4. Sale was almost as impressive, and he lasted eight scoreless, giving up 4 hits, one walk, while fanning 7. The Brewers had a few scoring chances in the first nine innings, but the White Sox never had a runner reach second base. Aramis Ramirez doubled to lead off the bottom of the tenth and was pinch run for by Nyjer Morgan. Hart struck out, but T-Plush advanced to third with only one out when the catcher couldn’t coral a wild pitch. Weeks was at the dish, and on a 2-2 pitch Rickie drove one through the left side of the infield to score Nyjer. As Rickie returned to first base this was the scene:
Orlando Hudson, the White Sox’s third basemen, had dove for the ball, and is still heartbroken that he wasn’t quick enough. I like that Ed Sedar is pointing at Rickie, but his attention is still directed towards the ball in the outfield. I wanted Greinke to come out and pitch the 10th inning, because that happens so infrequently, but Roenicke opted for Axford. Greinke was only at 100 pitches, and was dealing, so I thought there was a decent chance. However, for all I know Roenicke could have asked Greinke if he wanted the 10th inning, and Greinke said no, but I doubt that was the case.
Axford walked the leadoff batter, and I started to squirm. I had been at a 0-0 ballgame that went to extras once before, and I didn’t like the results. In 2006 I was at a Brewers-Reds game at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. The game was tied at zeros going into extras, and in the 11th inning Adam Dunn hit a walk-off three-run home run to give the Reds a 3-0 win. What’ya know? Adam Dunn was the second batter in the bottom of the 10th. Axford struck Dunn out on a 98 mph fastball and this was his very next pitch:
It was an 80 mph curveball to the White Sox cleanup hitter, Paul Konerko. The result? You ask. How about a 5-4-3 double play to end the game. Here is Cody Ransom getting ready to throw to first after stepping off the second base bag. Second base umpire Angel Campos approves. Final Score: Brewers 1 – White Sox 0.
You might notice that the last two pictures were taken from a different angle. After the top of the tenth I had moved over to the third base side so I could exit quickly and get to the L stop before it got overcrowded. It worked to perfection and the train came as I got up to the platform. When I transferred I also just barely caught the blue line train, and I’m glad I did. A stop or two after I had gotten on a guy and his friend boarded the train. One friend sat behind me, while the other one stood. The friend behind me fell asleep, and eventually his friend tried to wake him, since their stop was approaching. He slapped his friend’s face to no avail, and the standing friend wound up getting off the train at his stop. This is how the guy was sleeping.
After we started moving again another guy really tried to wake him up. He started slapping his cheeks and the back of his head, even prying one of his eyes open at one point. Eventually he came to, and was pissed that his friend deserted him. He said he needed to get off at Logan Square, which wasn’t for a few more stops, so I’m not sure if the friend got off at the wrong stop, or this guy didn’t have the right info. Nonetheless it was a nice capper to my successful day. Now if I can just wake up tomorrow without this cold.
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Wednesday started with a 7:45 am alarm, so I could be coherent for an 8:30 interview on a Milwaukee area radio show. Unfortunately there was a mix-up at the radio station and they never called me to do the interview. I would’ve slept until 9:00 so I was a little frustrated that they messed up. After finding out that they weren’t going to call I started packing for the road trip. I left my parents’ house at 10:50 and met another former coworker (Steve) in Johnson Creek. He offered to drive and it was nice being a passenger for a change. Of the last 2,634 miles I had gone in a car only 17 of them were as a passenger.
We got to the Money parking lot at 11:58, and were inside shortly thereafter. We went to section 220 and I got game photo number 69 taken care of. If you didn’t see the posts were I had explained what I’m doing for home games, I’ll revisit the topic. Before the season started I realized that since I would be going to all 81 home games, I needed to think of a way to make the game number photos (somewhat) interesting. I started in the right field corner of the upper deck and moved over a section or two at a time to get a slow panoramic-esque effect. I’m currently doing the same thing in the loge level, and then wrapping up on the field level.
Steve and I walked around a bit, and then hit up a concession stand for a Polish and a Miller Lite. Steve was buying and I explained that the Polish sausage was my favorite sausage. He had never tried one so we both ordered a Polish with sautéed onions. We then went down the stairs behind section 216, said hi to Bill, and then set up shop in front of the press box. It was over 90 degrees, even hotter in the sun, and we wanted no part of it. My seats in section 221 are in the sun for two and a half hours for 1:10 games, and it can become unbearable.
The Blue Jays took an early 1-0 lead when Edwin Encarnacion led off the second inning with his third home run of the series. In the bottom of the second inning the Brewers answered and erupted for five runs. Corey Hart hit a one out home run that just cleared the right field fence to tie the game at one. After a Rickie Weeks strikeout, Cody Ransom walked, and then Maldonado connected on his 5th home run in just his 59th at bat of the year. Gallardo followed Maldonado with a double and Carlos Gomez hit the fourth home run of the second inning (the 3rd for the Crew) and the Brewers had a 5-1 lead. This was our view from in front of the press box as Gomez touched home plate.
In the fifth inning Nyjer Morgan drove in his first Brewers run this year that wasn’t himself and the Brewers went up 6-1. Coming into the game he had two solo home runs, which accounted for his two RBIs. Gallardo started for the Brewers, and was pulled with two outs in the seventh inning after allowing three straight two-out base runners including a double that drove in the Blue Jays’ second run. Tim Dillard came in and while walking Bautista and hitting Encarnacion, the latter forcing in a run, he got out of the inning without further damage. At this point Steve and I had went down to our seats, and I got a picture of Dillard pitching. I have to give Dillard some love because he reached out to me by leaving a comment (which I didn’t approve because he had included his email address). I was a little skeptical at first but after sending him an email he confirmed that it was him, and since I chatted with him on the field at Dodger Stadium, it makes sense. If someone had commented saying they were Ryan Braun, I’d be a little more skeptical. I joked in my email to him that he should stop in centerfield while pulling the candy suitcase, and wave towards the press box (to reassure me that it was him). He said he would wave if he remembered, but then I completely forget to watch him and Perez walk out to the ‘pen. I was too busy scarfing down the polish sausage, and it slipped my mind. Tim; if you’re reading this and if you did remember to wave, thanks!
The Brewers held a 6-3 lead going into the bottom of the seventh, and Ryan Braun provided some Badger Mutual Insurance runs. That’s what insurance runs are referred to as on the Brewers Radio Network, and I can hear Uecker saying that in my head as I type this. Braun’s home run came with one out and T-Plush on first base, and it gave the Brewers a 8-3 lead. As Braun neared third base I took a picture of the scene. I think the “Braun Bomber” scoreboard graphic is new, but I’m not sure. I don’t pay too much attention to the scoreboard during a home run trot, so it could have been used this entire season and I just didn’t notice it.
Dillard pitched the eighth inning, Mike Fiers pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning, and the Brewers won the game and the series. Final Score: Brewers 8 – Blue Jays 3. During the seventh inning stretch I had a fan two rows in front of us take a picture of me and Steve with the field in the background. Steve is on the left and I’m on the right. I had a great time with Steve and he and his wife are waiting for their registration kits in the mail so they can join the bone marrow donor registry. Steve also donated $30 to Be The Match and I appreciate his generosity. I told him that Theresa (another former coworker) is up next, and after relaying the message to her she has already texted, asking me what games are left to choose from.
My luck finally ran out, and I’ve got a cold. I could sense it coming a few days ago, but I feel absolutely miserable right now. I wish I could just curl up and sleep for a few days, but I’m not going to let a cold stop me. I’m leaving for Chicago tonight at 5:45, and I should be arriving at Alex and Jess’ place around 8:30 or so. I was hoping to hit up Hot Doug’s tomorrow for a Chicago style hot dog, but I might just take it easy and try to recover before heading to U.S. Cellular for the first game of the series vs. the White Sox.
Brandon, who joined me at Monday’s game, wrote a post on his blog about his experience. I have to give him a shout out for mentioning me, and it’s always nice to hear that a stranger (before we met) enjoyed his/her experience with me at a game. The feeling was mutual, thanks Brandon!
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Since I didn’t go to bed until after 3:00 am on Tuesday morning, I slept until 10:00, when I finally pulled myself out of bed. I left the house at 12:30 pm and pulled into my Grandpa’s driveway in Delavan (WI) at 1:10. Wally (my grandpa), Rosalie (my grandma) and I had ham and turkey sandwiches for lunch, and it’s always nice to stop by and visit. Rosalie said that her friends read the blog and all that they’re worried about is my knee (they really don’t care about baseball). I told her what I tell everybody; it hurts, but nothing is broken (I think), so I’m going to keep trucking (and limping). Wally and I played three games of cribbage and I took the rubber match decisively, with a skunking (winning by 30 pegs or more).
I took a short nap on their couch, and left Delavan just after 4:00 pm. I pulled into the Brewers 1 Lot at 4:50, and walked back to the general lot to hand out cards and try to get people to join the registry. After telling a group how easy the donor process can be (I can speak from experience) I think they’re going to join in person at the drive in Madison on Thursday. A guy in another group had heard about me, and got a picture taken with me. His tailgate also provided me with a Miller Lite and a Polish sausage. Thanks Guys!
I entered Miller Park just after 6:15 and went up to section 222 to get the game number picture. There were already people in the first row, so I wound up just going over one section and getting the picture from my “home” section for the year (221). I had a nearby fan take game photo number 68 for me. The roof and its shadow wreak havoc on my camera’s abilities to get a decent picture, and I settled for the one below.
Right after I said thank you to the gentlemen who took the picture, Ryan showed up and we got situated. Ryan is another Twitter follower who agreed to make a $30 donation to Be The Match in exchange for Tuesday’s ticket. Ryan is going to be a senior at UW-Stevens Point in the fall, and he’s also a Fort Atkinson alum.
The Brewers had to call up Tyler Thornburg to make a spot start, since Shaun Marcum was experiencing some elbow tightness. It was Thornburg’s first major league start, and I got a picture as he delivered his first pitch in the big leagues.
Thornburg faced the minimum through two innings, but a third inning two-run home run by Lawrie gave the Blue Jays an early 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the third Thornburg got his first major league at bat, and he wasted no time obtaining a batting average. On the 0-1 pitch he lined a one out double to left center. The picture below was taken just after contact, and I promise Thornburg’s arms and bat are hiding in front of his frame.
The Brewers wound up with four runs in the third, thanks in part to a two-out double from Gomez that scored Thornburg. The Brewers then loaded the bases with two outs, and this is what the next three hitters did: Hart got hit by a pitch, Weeks walked, and Maldonado walked. The last three runs of the inning were scored because the Blue Jays’ starter (Jesse Chavez) couldn’t find the strike zone. It also took patience by the Brewers hitters, so they deserve some credit as well.
The Brewers held the 4-2 lead into the sixth, and that’s when the game got crazy. Thornburg was still pitching in the sixth, and he was doing a pretty good job. The trio of Rasmus, Bautista, and Encarnacion changed that quickly, and Thornburg’s day was over. With one out, and in a span of 11 pitches, the three I mentioned above went back to back to back, and the Blue Jays took a 5-4 lead. They added another run after Thornburg was relieved, and they had a two run advantage going into the bottom of the frame.
In the bottom of the sixth the Brewers loaded the bases with only one out, and Braun stepped to the plate to try and give the Brewers the lead. Braun was patient and drew an RBI walk, and then Aramis Ramirez did his thing. The second pitch from Frasor was a meaty one up in the zone, and Ramirez didn’t miss. This was the pitch, and I like that you can see Ramirez’s bat still on his shoulder, and the ball is almost to the plate.
If you couldn’t tell from my writing; Ram-Ram went Bam-Bam for a Slam-Slam and the Brewers jumped out to a 9-6 lead. Jason, who I went to the game with on June 8th, suggested I use that line. As Ramirez reached home plate he was greeted by the guys he drove in, and Chart (who was due up next for the Crew). I like Braun’s lurking presence on the right side of the picture. Doesn’t it seem like that big foot walk that you always see grainy footage of? He also appears to be making eye contact with my camera.
In the seventh inning the Blue Jays added two runs to their total, and cut the lead to 9-8. K-Rod had a perfect eighth inning, and it was up to Axford to close the door. To consecutive batters, Axford delivered 3-1 pitches that were deposited in the right field bleachers. Rasmus and Bautista went back to back again, this time giving the Blue Jays a one run advantage. The Brewers had the tying run on first with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but Taylor Green grounded out to first. Final Score: Blue Jays 10 – Brewers 9.
It was another late lead the the Brewers couldn’t hold, and it’s a tough pill to swallow. At least as a player you can say, “well I need to do this better.” As a fan, all you can do is watch, and it sucks to not have any control. I’m not going to get super upset about losses anymore, because I know I will be seeing a lot of them this year. Even if they somehow turned it around and made a run at the playoffs, I’d still be witnessing another 30 – 35 losses.
Ryan actually had to take off before the game was finished because his ride was leaving, but prior to him leaving I had a fan take a picture of us.
One more picture: The sausages had motorcycle races before the game, and at some point during the game they all came out onto the warning track in centerfield. The Italian, who had won the “tournament”, took off before I was able to take the picture.
That’s all, I’ve got a 8:30 interview on the 95 WIIL ROCK morning show, so I need to get some sleep.
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Monday started with physical therapy and occupational therapy appointments at the Dean West clinic in Madison. We’re trying to figure out what is going on with my knee and so far the mystery remains unsolved. They’ve given me stretches and exercises to strengthen my left leg muscles without putting stress on the knee. To be honest; my knee is actually worse now than it was before I started seeing the physical therapist. I am in no way saying that the exercises I’m doing is making it worse, but for whatever reason it’s painful to walk and extremely painful to go up stairs. I *can* make it up stairs without the assistance of a railing, but it’s a struggle. I was an all-conference defensive back in high school, and right now I feel like anybody’s grandmother could beat me on a go route, a slant, or a fade. Pretty much any route, come to think of it.
I left our apartment on the west side of Madison at 3:00 pm. I stopped for gas before getting on the beltline, stopped for a Jimmy John’s sub in Lake Mills, and pulled into the Brewers 1 lot at 4:40 pm. I proceeded to eat the aforementioned sub then gingerly walked the preferred parking lots handing out some cards. I really wish I could get back to the general lot more often, but with the way my knee is feeling I might need to invest in a segway for that to become a routine. I had listed my extra ticket for Monday’s game on Twitter before the road trip, and found a buyer shortly thereafter. Brandon was my partner in crime for the game, and Be The Match will be getting another $30 donation thanks to him.
Brandon met me inside in section 223 where I was planning on getting the game number photo taken. I had forgotten that it was Little League Night and that the Brewers allow this to happen:
All the Little Leaguers (and their coaches) get to walk around the warning track from foul pole to foul pole. This meant that there were parents all over the place trying to get pictures of their kid(s) on the field. It made it a little tricky but luckily there weren’t any in the front row of 223, where I stood to get game photo number 67. I’m not saying the Brewers shouldn’t do this, because I think it’s awesome that they do it, I’m just saying it changed how I went about things.
It was hot and sticky and I was svitzing like pig (or whatever the kids are saying these days). I am this →||← close to getting rid of my “facial hair” and shaving my head. The original plan was to make it the entire season, so that the game number photo slideshow would show progressively longer and longer hair and facial hair, but I’m not sure I can put up with this. The person who is smiling ear to ear as she’s reading this is my wonderful girlfriend Victoria, who has voiced her opinion that I should’ve gotten rid of “it” weeks ago. I hate losing, and me getting rid of my joke of a beard will mean that she won. We’ll call it a tie, and I’ll tell myself that there were extenuating circumstances.
After getting the game number picture Brandon and I were waiting near section 214 for the Ice Man to appear. I’m guessing he had taken the day off because I never did see him. We did see Jill Aronoff, however, who is the Senior Director of Merchandise Branding for the Brewers. She said she had the replacement case for me and went back to the executive offices to get it. I had notified her that the case they had made for me was breaking down, and she said they would swap it out. She had taken the case from me earlier and showed it to some of the manufacturer’s representatives. They said that a substance must have gotten on the case, because they had never seen the type of wear that was visible on my case. I have in the past used hand sanitizer on my phone and cases, and I’m guessing that’s what I had done. Phones are known to have A LOT of germs, thus my precautionary measures (hey, I have the immune system of a 2 and half year old, sue me). So if you’re going to go to the team store to have one of the below cases custom made, don’t use hand sanitizer on it. They are really cool, and if you want one you should check it out at the team store in the left field corner of the field level concourse.
“Front Row Amy”, who sits right behind home plate for about 45 home games a year, offered me her ticket to a game this year. I met up with her before the game on Monday to get the ticket for the August 21st game against the Cubs. It’s one ticket, and I’m looking forward to getting a different perspective on the action. This also means that I will be auctioning off my TWO tickets to the Tuesday, August 21st game. I’ll be donating the money to Be The Match, so if you’re interested in sitting in my seats for that game (section 221, row six), let me know what you’d be willing to donate. I’ll be mentioning it on Twitter as we get closer to that date, so if you don’t use Twitter you can leave a comment now or in a future post.
Brandon and I got to our seats just before the National Anthems, and we noticed this up near the roof. You may have noticed that I said Anthem[S], and that’s because the Brewers were taking on the Toronto Blue Jays, and both “O Canada” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” were sung before the game got underway.
The game started off great, if you were a Blue Jays fan. Brett Lawrie, who in addition to some other minor league prospects at the time, was traded to the Blue Jays for Shaun Marcum in the offseason leading up to the 2011 season. On the second pitch that Lawrie saw, in the stadium that he almost called home, he sent an opposite field home run out to right center to give the Jays the lead. In the bottom half of the first inning the Brewers came right back, and on a full count pitch Rickie Weeks drove one to the outfield to drive in two runs. This was the swing that resulted in the hit. Even though you can’t see the ball I promise you he made contact and drove in T-Plush and Braun.
In the bottom of the second it got even better for the Brewers. They scored four runs on a safety squeeze turned single from Aoki, an RBI fielders choice grounder from Braun, and a two run double from Ram-Ram. Braun was safe at home on Ramirez’s double, and it was a (somewhat) close play. I apologize for the lack of clarity in Braun’s figure. I yelled “SLOW DOWN, I’M TRYING TO GET A GOOD ACTION SHOT!” I think it just made him go faster (at least the catcher and the bat listened).
The Jays scored a run in the third on a double play groundout from Encarnación. In the sixth he made up for the GIDP (grounded into double play) with an absolute BOMB to left field. It hit the inside of Bernie’s slide and then bounced down into the loge bleachers. I remember listening on the radio when Brandon Phillips of the Reds did it back in 2005 (or at least I think it was in ’05). Encarnación’s blast pulled the Jays within three runs at 6-3. In the seventh Brandon and I were hoping Kameron Loe could retire Colby Rasmus, as to not face Joey Bats (José Bautista) representing the tying run. Kameron missed low with a sinker on a full count pitch, and walked Rasmus. Bautista subsequently made him pay with a three-run game-tying home run that landed 15 rows deep in the left field loge bleachers.
In the bottom of the seventh Aramis Ramirez led off and lined one down the left field line that hit some sort of wall. The whole stadium likely heard the smack as it hit the padded portion of the outfield wall. The third base umpire called it a foul ball, and Ron Roenicke came out to argue. Here he is with Ed Sedar as they discuss with the third base umpire where (they think) the ball hit.
The umpires got together, talked about it, and then disappeared into the bowels of the stadium. Since it was a potential home run, they are allowed to look at it, and they went to the video box where they are shown video replays from MLB headquarters in New York. I got to see one when I took the Coors Field tour on May 24th, and I’ve included below a picture that I took during the tour.
After a few minutes the umpires returned and gave the home run signal. Aramis returned to the base paths, and proceeded to take his home run trot.
Ram-Ram’s blast gave the Brewers a 7-6 lead. After a few great defensive plays (one by Weeks, two by Chart) in the top of eighth, the Brewers turned to Axford to close the door in the ninth.
The above picture was taken as Axford was delivering his ninth pitch of the inning. Colby Rasmus lifted the pitch to Braun in left for the third out of the inning, and the Brewers picked up a much needed W. Final Score: Brewers 7 – Blue Jays 6. It was an exciting game, albeit sticky and somewhat painful.
In the middle of the eighth inning I had a fan a few rows in front of us take a picture of Brandon and me. Brandon is on the left and I’m on the right. Besides the fact that Brandon is attending UW-Madison (my alma mater), he also attended 43 Brewers games the season that began in the Spring of his freshman year of college. That’s the same number I attended between my freshman and sophomore years at Madison. He’s a cool guy, a huge Brewers fan, and I wouldn’t mind sitting through another Brewers victory with him in the future.
It’s past 2:00 am on Tuesday morning, and I’m going to bed. I’m driving to Delavan tomorrow before the game to visit with my Grandpa. It’s something that I’ve always done on Father’s Day, but the Brewers schedule dictates my availability, and I can’t change the schedule. He was one of my toughest critics before the season started (as to why I would waste six months of my life following the Brewers). As the season has progressed I really think he’s become quite proud of his only grandson. He even stayed up late when the Brewers were on the west coast to watch the games (and see if I made the broadcast). We’ll have some lunch, play some cribbage, and then it’s off to Milwaukee for game two of the series.
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE