July 2012

7-30-12 (vs. Houston)

On Monday my friend Jens joined me for the game. We’ve been friends since middle school and I stood up in his wedding last September. This is a picture from that day, good times.

Jens works in Madison and I met him in Johnson Creek at 4:45. We were parked by 5:40 and we had a few Miller Lites in the parking lot before heading inside at 6:30. We went up to section 201 for the final game number picture in the loge level. Only 27 home games remain!

We walked back towards our seats in section 221 but made a pit stop at the “Cactus League Nachos” stand located behind section 215 and we each got some glorious nachos. Jens also bought me (and himself) an MGD from the Ice Man, and we stood in front of the press box eating our nachos as to not get nacho ingredients all over ourselves.

The Astros struck right away and got a run in the top of the first when Pearce hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield. In the third inning Jose Altuve delivered a sacrifice fly as well and the Astros had a 2-0 lead. Marco Estrada was on the hill for the Crew and I always thought it was strange the way he gets set after getting the sign from the catcher. While in the stretch he’ll lean in to get the sign then squat down as he’s collecting himself on the mound, see for yourself. You’ve got to do what’s comfortable, and if this works for him, then so be it.

In the top of the seventh Tyler Moore led off the inning with a solo home run and the lead grew to 3-0. Bud Norris got the start for the Astros and was shutting the Brewers offense down. Through the first six innings the Brewers had two infield singles but both were questionable scorer’s decisions and could’ve easily been ruled errors. In the bottom of the seventh Lucroy drew a lead-off walk and Nyjer Morgan drove him in with a 2-run home run to right field. Later in the inning Aoki singled home Izturis and Ramirez followed suit, driving in Aoki on a soft fly ball to left that fell for a base hit. The four runs in the 7th inning put the Brewers in front, giving them a 4-3 lead.

In the top of the 8th the Astros wasted no time tying it up, and the third batter doubled to drive in Altuve. In the bottom of the 8th the Brewers had runners at the corners and nobody out when Izturis stepped to the plate. He swung away and dribbled one fair that rolled down the first base line. It basically turned into a squeeze play and Lucroy scored easily. On top of that there was no play on Izturis at first, it was a perfectly executed swinging-bunt squeeze play that he couldn’t have done any better if he had been trying to.

The Brewers took a 5-4 lead but they weren’t done yet. The next batter was Cody Ransom and he launched the second pitch he saw into the Brewers bullpen for a 3-run home run. I don’t think the progression needs explaining, but it goes clockwise from top left:

The Brewers had a 8-4 lead but with the way things had been going lately it felt like a one run lead. Livan Hernandez had pitched the 8th and came out for the 9th but gave up a run within the first three batters (single, sac bunt, double). He was pulled for Kameron Loe who the Astros have a scouting report for (as does every team for every pitcher).

The player pictured is Justin Maxwell and after Jose Altuve walked he doubled off Loe to cut the lead to two runs. Maxwell also put the tying run (himself) at second base. Axford replaced Loe and gave up a sacrifice fly that was caught on the warning track. J.D. Martinez came to the plate with the tying run at third base and two outs. He hit one to the hole between 3rd and short but Cesar Izturis made a diving stop, got to his feet and threw a one-hopper to Corey Hart who made a nice scoop. The ump called him out and the game was over. Final Score: Brewers 8 – Astros 7.

Watching it live and from my seat location I thought he was safe, and so did Astros manager Brad Mills, who ran out for the 4th time (I think) to argue a call on the field. After seeing the replay when I got home (and getting hounded on Twitter that he actually was out) I see that the right call was made. It was really close and it was a lot closer than the “half a step” like some people said. It may have reached Corey’s glove when the runner was a half step away but he really didn’t have control until *just* before Martinez’s foot hit the bag. It was a great job by the umpire, and if it weren’t for his call I might still be at Miller Park. I paused the video when I believe Hart had control of the ball and took a screen shot. If you watch the clip you’ll notice that the ball entered his glove before this point but my screen shot below is when I think he had control of the ball, giving him the opportunity to record an out. They slow it down at the 50 second mark if you don’t feel like watching the first part of the replay.

A few more pictures from Monday:

Jens had brought sunflower seeds to the game and was very generous in sharing them. This is what the aisle looked like towards the end of the game. I think next time I’ll spit them into a cup to save the cleaning team some extra work. I know it’s their job but I still feel guilty because it feels like littering.

Another crazy linescore at a Brewers game (13 runs in the last 2.5 innings; eeeeeeeeesh):

After the 6th inning I had a lady a few rows in front of us take a picture of Jens and me. I’m sporting the Birrai shirt and hat that the Brewers wore on Italian Heritage Day earlier in the month.

It’s 2:30 AM and I should probably get to bed. I’m picking up my oldest sister (Eliza) from the airport tomorrow at 1:30 PM. I haven’t seen her since last June and I’m looking forward to spending the day with her and taking her to the game. She went to Graduate School for her MBA in Hong Kong and studied abroad her final semester in Melbourne, Australia. She has been living in Australia since graduating and is back for the Sykes (my mom’s side) family reunion this weekend, something that I unfortunately cannot attend.

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside Miller Park: 4 hrs 11 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 5 hrs 11 minutes
Miles driven: 151.3
Sausages: 0
Pitches missed: 0
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (305/305)
Current streak of pitches seen: 1,412

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 46-56 (.451 winning percentage)
Time inside stadiums: 434 hours 11 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 509 hours 1 minute (That’s over 3 whole weeks!!!)
Miles driven: 12,300.3
Miles riding in car but not driving: 1,970.1
Public Transit miles: 332.3
Flight Miles: 13,989
Total distance traveled: 28,591.7 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 114.82% (28,591.7/24,901)
Sausages: 77 (32 Hot Dogs, 24 Polish, 8 Bratwurst, 5 Corndogs, 2 Italian, 2 Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Chicken Apple Sausage, Blueberry & Merlot Venison Sausage, Sausage Race on a Stick)
Pitches missed: 71
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,965 (6/30 – 7/6)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.77% (30,805/30,876)

If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

7-29-12 (vs. Washington)

On Sunday Victoria and I left her aunt and uncle’s place at 11:15. It took us over 45 minutes to travel the 19 miles to Miller Park. Apparently an hour and ten minutes before the game is a popular time to get there. We went up to section 202 for game photo number 101. Only 37.7% of the season remains.

After getting the game number picture taken we went over to the Chef’s Table stand because we saw a fan with something that looked different than normal Miller Park fare. The Chef’s Table is located behind section 216 and has food that is popular in the visiting team’s city. For the Nationals series the special was DC TaKorean Food Truck style tacos (3 tangy chicken tacos). This was the description: chicken marinated in sweet chili sauce, ginger and soy served with lime crema, fresh cilantro and kimchi slaw served with wonton chips topped with a wasabi drizzle. They were mighty tasty:

We ate the tacos in front of the press box because they were quite mess, and I’m sure I would’ve gotten something on me if I had been sitting down. The game started and this was my view for the first pitch:

I like my seat location, but being on an aisle has its drawbacks. Every few minutes there’s a vendor walking down the aisle and standing at the bottom of the stairs. There are also people who just stand up and aren’t too concerned with the fact that they are blocking the view of somebody else (which happens in every seat location). I make it work though and I find a way to either lean from side to side or just stand up quickly as to not miss a pitch.

The Nationals got off to a good start and on the 5th pitch of the game Lombardozzi took Mark Rogers deep to give the Nats a 1-0 lead. It didn’t last long, however, and the Brewers answered in the bottom half. Lucroy drew a bases loaded walk and Cody Ransom drove in a run on a ground ball that glanced off the pitcher’s glove for an infield single. In the third inning Braun walked to lead off the frame. Corey Hart singled and Braun went to third. For some reason Hart had taken off for second and the Nationals third basemen threw over to get a Hart in a pickle. Braun eventually broke towards home and he scored easily while Hart was getting tagged out. Here’s Braun arriving at third as Zimmerman is about to make the throw.

In the sixth the Nationals cut the lead to 3-2 when Moore doubled home Zimmerman. Mark Rogers had gotten the start for the Brewers, and was removed after walking Bernadina. He pitched well and gave up only two earned runs in five and third innings, striking out 7 and issuing that lone walk. This was his last pitch of the game:

In the bottom of the sixth the bases were loaded with one out when Aoki stepped to the plate. The squeeze play was on and Lucroy scored easily:

You can see in the picture above that the Nationals’ pitcher (Gonzalez) was throwing to first to get Aoki. His throw was a little to the right and it forced Lombardozzi to stretch for it. Replays show that he clearly kept his foot on the bag but the umpire called Aoki safe. Moments after the safe call Ransom (who was on third) broke for home and scored what appeared to be another run. The umpire waved it off and said that time had been called, this is what ensued:

Ron Roenicke is in the lower right arguing with home plate umpire Mike Estabrook (I’m guessing about the time call), Nationals manager Davey Johnson is arguing with first base umpire Tim Welke to the left of first base (about the terrible call he just made), and Cody Ransom is walking towards the third base umpire Laz Diaz, and an argument followed. You usually don’t see three arguments with three different umpires all at the same time, so it was kind of cool. Gomez followed Aoki with a sacrifice fly, Ransom scored anyways and the Brewers led 5-2.

In the top of the seventh the Nationals got one back but it could’ve been a lot worse. The bases were loaded with nobody out but Livan Hernandez got Zimmerman to ground into a 5-3 double play and only the one run scored. In the bottom of the seventh Rickie Weeks smashed a long home run to centerfield with Hart aboard and the Crew increased their lead to 7-3.

A four run lead going into the 8th inning sounds pretty safe, right? Not with this year’s edition of the bullpen. K-Rod came on to start the 8th and walked the first man he faced. After a strikeout Roger Bernadina went yard and the lead was cut to 7-5. After giving up another single Roenicke brought in Axford, presumably to try and pick up the last 5 outs of the game. Axford gave up a double, and RBI groundout, threw a wild pitch, and the game was tied at seven.

The offense picked up the bullpen and in the bottom of the eighth Aoki and Gomez went back-to-back with one out to give the Crew a 9-7 lead. Aoki and Gomez, respectively, getting some dap from Sedar after rounding third.

Gomez’s low five might look a little funny, and that’s because he goes 100 MPH around the bases on his home runs. Tater Trot Tracker keeps track of how fast home run trots take, and Gomez has 3 of the top 5 in terms of fastest round-trippers. When Braun grounded out in the 8th I told Victoria that we needed Hart and Weeks to get aboard to potentially see Axford at the plate. He has never had a plate appearance so I thought it would be pretty cool to see. Hart doubled and Weeks walked and Axford came to the plate. It looks like he actually has his own batting helmet (see the # 59 on the back), I’m not sure about the bat though, because in the dugout I saw him motioning as if he needed one.

I was hoping he would swing the bat and somehow get a hit but he didn’t take the bat off his shoulders, and the game went to the top of the ninth.

Axford struck out Zimmerman to start the 9th but then walked the next batter. Morse stepped to the plate representing the tying run, and he did just that, barely putting one over the right field fence to tie the game at 9. This isn’t related to the tie game, but Morse does a quirky routine before stepping into the box. He does this slow swing with on leg raised, I thought it was pretty funny. It’s not too funny because he played hero on Sunday.

The Brewers failed to score in the 9th and neither team scored in the 10th. In the 11th Michael Morse came through again, lining a one out 2-run double down the left field line, giving the Nationals a 11-9 lead. In the bottom half Corey Hart led off with a solo home run and the deficit was now only one. Cody Ransom drew a two out walk but that’s the closest the Brewers could get. Final Score: Nationals 11 – Brewers 10.

A few more things from the game. It was Bob Uecker bobble head day, and it’s a pretty nice bobble of Uecker when he caught for the Milwaukee Braves in the early 1960′s.

On a few occasions during the game they spoke about Uecker between innings, and showed highlights of some of his most famous calls over the years. The crowd gave him a standing ovation and I just missed him standing and tipping his cap. Poor performance on my part. Here he is after he sat back down, I think he might even be on air when it’s happening.

Since the Crew wound up losing the highlight of the day might be a kid dancing in between innings. I think it was during the middle of the eighth, but the cameraman was in the aisle between 220 and 221, and this kid was in the aisle giving it his all. The camera stayed on him for probably 30 seconds, which does not happen very often. When he was done everyone in the sections around him gave him a standing ovation.

It was a 4 hour 24 minute game, and we were tired (of losing and in general). This was the linescore when it was all said and done. The first two innings are cut off, but you get the picture. Just look at the 6th through 8th innings, 12 runs between the two teams.

It was my 101st game and Victoria’s 25th. She’s a trooper and has been very supportive of my mission. When we got back to Madison we used the meat we didn’t take to Saturday’s tailgate for a summer salad. I don’t have many home-made meals, and it was certainly welcomed. It was a spinach salad with marinated chicken and steak, red onion, red peppers, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and italian dressing.

It’s 1:00 PM on Monday afternoon, and I’ll be leaving in a few hours for game number 102. I’m going with a good friend from high school, Jens. Hopefully the Brewers can turn things around. I think if I go in expecting them to lose I won’t feel so bad when it happens. I know that’s a defeatist way of thinking, but I’m trying to keep my sanity through it all.

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside Miller Park: 5 hrs 27 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 5 hrs 47 minutes
Miles driven:  107.7
Sausages: 0
Pitches missed: 0
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (393/393)
Current streak of pitches seen: 1,107

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 45-56 (.446 winning percentage)
Time inside stadiums: 430 hours 0 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 503 hours 50 minutes
Miles driven: 12,149.0
Miles riding in car but not driving: 1,970.1
Public Transit miles: 332.3
Flight Miles: 13,989
Total distance traveled: 28,440.4 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 114.21% (28,440.4/24,901)
Sausages: 77 (32 Hot Dogs, 24 Polish, 8 Bratwurst, 5 Corndogs, 2 Italian, 2 Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Chicken Apple Sausage, Blueberry & Merlot Venison Sausage, Sausage Race on a Stick)
Pitches missed: 71
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,965 (6/30 – 7/6)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.77% (30,500/30,571)

If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

7-28-12 (vs. Washington)

Friday night I had driven back to Madison because Victoria was coming to Saturday’s and Sunday’s games with me. I worked on Friday’s post when I got up and then got ready for the game. We left our apartment in Madison at 1:45, and met Victoria’s aunt (Jan) and uncle (Ron), in Pewaukee. We carpooled to the game and were parked by 3:30. We fired up the grill and put on the kebabs that Victoria had made Saturday morning. The kebabs consisted of steak, chicken, mushrooms, red and green peppers, and onion and they were very delicious.

Victoria also made a pasta salad with tomatoes and mozzarella, and Jan and Ron brought cherries, a rice salad, croissants, and beer.

A few guys from the tailgate next to us started throwing darts. I didn’t ask about the rules but I should have. I think the idea was to puncture your opponent’s beer can with your darts, and then they have to drink the beer down to wear the puncture took place. I believe the game takes skill and also trust in your friend that they don’t puncture something else.

Before we went inside I had a nearby tailgater get a picture of the four of us. Left to right is Ron, Jan, Victoria, and myself.

Once inside we went over to section 203 to get the game number photo taken. 100!!!

We said hi to the Ice Man and then to usher Bill before heading to our seats. The national anthem started right as we were arriving and it was pretty good timing on our part. It was Negro Leagues Tribute night and both teams sported throwbacks. The Brewers wore Milwaukee Bears uniforms and the Nationals wore Washington Homestead Grays uniforms. Randy Wolf was on the hill for the Crew and the game got underway. Here he is delivering the first pitch of the game.

In the second inning Rickie Weeks doubled with two outs. He didn’t wind up scoring, but I got a picture of him getting his lead to give you a better look at the throwback uniforms.

In the top of the fourth inning the Nationals got on the board with a leadoff home run from Corey Brown. It was his first hit in the majors and luckily for him it landed in the Brewers bullpen, so there was no need for bargaining as the bullpen just tossed it back onto the field where it was relayed to the Nationals’ dugout. Aoki threw out Michael Morse trying to score from second on a single for the second out of the inning. The next batter hit a 2-run home run and the Brewers trailed 3-0.

In the bottom of the fourth the Brewers cut the deficit to two with an RBI single from Rickie Weeks. Here he is after sending one up the middle to drive in Ramirez.

In the top of the fifth the Nationals got the run back, however, when Ryan Zimmerman put one over the wall in center and just out of reach for Carlos Gomez to rob him of the dinger. That concluded the scoring and the Nationals took game three of the series. Final Score: Nationals 4 – Brewers 1. I have to mention Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmerman, who grew up in Auburndale, Wisconsin, and went to school at UW-Stevens Point. Victoria went to elementary school in Auburndale for a few years before going to the Stratford school system. Zimmerman had a lot of friends and family in the crowd, and it was probably pretty exciting for him and his supporters. Here’s Zimmerman pitching early in the game in the Grays throwback:

After the game Jan and Ron dropped us off at my car in Pewaukee, and then Victoria and I drove back to their house where we usually stay on Saturday nights when the Brewers are at home. They live in Sussex and it saves us about an hour of travel between the Saturday night game and Sunday afternoon game. Victoria and I usually sleep in a spare bedroom in the basement and Saturday wasn’t supposed to be any different. When I was taking one of the throw pillows off the bed I noticed something small and black on it but didn’t think anything of it. I went upstairs and got ready for bed and when I returned Victoria was just standing there waiting for me. I asked what was wrong and she said there was what appeared to be mouse droppings on my side of the bed where I had removed the pillow. I cleaned them up and we removed the comforter and she stood back as she asked me to check behind the pillows (she’s terrified of mice, I think they’re cute). Would you like to know what happened next?

You would not believe how fast Victoria was out of that bedroom and up the stairs (screaming along the way). It was dead but it was still a little alarming, I’ll give her that. If the droppings hadn’t been on the comforter she may have climbed right in and cozied up with just a pillow separating her from the rodent. Jan said they catch a few outside but she has no idea how this one would’ve gotten into the basement. Victoria and I slept on the first floor last night but she made me check behind the pillows before getting into bed. It was a strange ending to an overall good day (besides the loss).

We’re leaving in a bout 15 minutes for the game and I’m looking forward to the Bob Uecker bobblehead.

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside Miller Park: 3 hrs 20 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 5 hrs 40 minutes
Miles driven:  84.6
Miles riding in a car but not driving: 25.6
Sausages: 0
Pitches missed: 0
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (256/256)
Current streak of pitches seen: 714

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 45-55 (.450 winning percentage)
Time inside stadiums: 424 hours 33 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 498 hours 3 minutes
Miles driven: 12,041.3
Miles riding in car but not driving: 1,970.1
Public Transit miles: 332.3
Flight Miles: 13,989
Total distance traveled: 28,332.7 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 113.78% (28,332.7/24,901)
Sausages: 77 (32 Hot Dogs, 24 Polish, 8 Bratwurst, 5 Corndogs, 2 Italian, 2 Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Chicken Apple Sausage, Blueberry & Merlot Venison Sausage, Sausage Race on a Stick)
Pitches missed: 71
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,965 (6/30 – 7/6)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.76% (30,107/30,178)

If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

7-27-12 (vs. Washington)

Friday I was planning on sleeping in but I woke up at 9:30, which really isn’t sleeping in since I had gone to bed at 3:00. I finished up the blog and returned some emails. I also updated my tracking spreadsheet that I use for all my statistics. People have asked about it so here it is. It’s not a perfect system, but it works for me. This is the “Daily Actuals” tab. Not pictured is an “Actuals” tab that sums things up into individual trips and then season totals.

I left for the game at 3:50 and was parked by 5:00. I walked the parking lot for about 30 minutes and then Brandon (a twitter follower who joined me on June 18th) texted me saying he was tailgating and invited me over. I stopped by just as it started to rain, had a cheddarwurst and a hot dog, and thanked him and his friends.

I went inside at 6:20 and at that point Brandon texted me letting me know that Greinke was traded. It’s sad to see him go, but it sounded like he was intent on testing free agency, so the Brewers did what they could by getting something in return. We’ll see if the three players we got in the trade pan out.

I went up to section 204 and got game photo number 99 taken care of. A couple of friends happened to be hanging out in the loge bleachers at the time and I had one of them (Poeppel) take the picture for me. Almost triple digits!!!

After chatting about baseball for a bit I went over to my seat and waited for my twitter follower to join me. Some of the Nationals were in shallow left field stretching and getting ready for the game. Bryce Harper is the Nationals’ 19 year old wonder kid. He’s been on everyone’s radar since his early teens, and made the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2009 at the age of 16. He’s wearing stirrups in the picture below, something that only a handful of players still wear. He also appears to be bragging about how big the fish was that got away (OK, he was actually doing the back and forth stretch for the shoulders).

One of the Nationals’ coaches was throwing gum into the stands before the game started. I couldn’t find number 89 on their website under coaches, so i have have no idea who he is. It was nice of him to share some of the Dubble Bubble with a few fans.

Rachel (the twitter follower who was joining me) interns with the Brewers Community Foundation and was helping them get ready for the 14th annual 5K Famous Racing Sausages Run/Walk. She had originally said she should be done by 5:00 but they had a little mishap and she wasn’t able to meet me until after the seventh inning stretch. Her $40 donation is greatly appreciated, though, so thanks Rachel! Even though we only spent 30 minutes together I could tell she’s a great person.

Mike Fiers got the start for the Brewers and he didn’t disappoint. Here he is about to deliver the first pitch of the game:

The game was scoreless as it went to the bottom of the fourth. With two outs Aramis Ramirez hit his 34th double of the season on a line drive to right field. Chart was up next, and the second pitch he saw…

Hart’s home run to left gave the Brewers a 2-0 lead. In the fifth inning the first two batters struck out, just like in the fourth, and then the offense went to work. Aoki doubled and Gomez singled to drive him in (3-0). Gomez stole second with Braun at the plate and then Braun slapped an 0-2 pitch to right on a great piece of hitting to drive in Gomez (4-0). Ramirez followed Braun with a two-run home run to left-centerfield to give the Crew a six run advantage. Here’s Ramirez touching home after his 427 foot home run.

The six runs was nice but having six runs on the scoreboard had been ominous (see the Philly series) so I was a little nervous. The nervousness was not warranted, however, and the final three and a half innings went very quickly. Overall, 21 of the final 26 batters (for both teams) were retired and the Brewers completed the shutout. Final Score: Brewers 6 – Nationals 0. The seven game losing streak was over, and I was relieved. Mike Fiers pitched six and third innings, gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, 0 runs, and struck out 9. He’s pitched 68 innings for the Brewers this year and has given up 13 earned runs, for a minuscule 1.72 ERA. His ground out to fly out ratio is very low, which is a little alarming but hopefully he can keep this up.

I’m in Madison right now and Victoria and I will be leaving in about an hour. We’re meeting her aunt and uncle in Pewaukee then driving to the game for some tailgating. It’s supposed to be a perfect day, and I’m looking forward to being comfortable in the parking lot for a change.

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside Miller Park: 3 hrs 39 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 5 hrs 12 minutes
Miles driven:  150.7
Sausages: 2 (Cheddarwurst, hot dog)
Pitches missed: 0
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (262/262)
Current streak of pitches seen: 458

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 45-54 (.455 winning percentage)
Time inside stadiums: 421 hours 13 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 492 hours 23 minutes
Miles driven: 11,956.7
Miles riding in car but not driving: 1,944.5
Public Transit miles: 332.3
Flight Miles: 13,989
Total distance traveled: 28,222.5 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 113.34% (28,222.5/24,901)
Sausages: 77 (32 Hot Dogs, 24 Polish, 8 Bratwurst, 5 Corndogs, 2 Italian, 2 Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Chicken Apple Sausage, Blueberry & Merlot Venison Sausage, Sausage Race on a Stick)
Pitches missed: 71
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,965 (6/30 – 7/6)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.76% (29,851/29,922)

If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

7-26-12 (vs. Washington)

I went to bed at 7:00 AM on Thursday morning, got up around noon, and worked on the post for Wednesday. I left for the game at 4:25 and hit some traffic going into Milwaukee because of my tardiness. I was parked by 5:45 (later than usual) and walked the parking lots for a bit to hand out some cards and talk about Be The Match. I dropped off my extra ticket at will call for my twitter follower that would be joining me, and went inside at 6:05. The giveaway on Thursday was a nice camouflage hat, and I might actually wear it. A lot of giveaways (at all stadiums) aren’t made very well but this one seems better than most of the hats I’ve gotten over the years.

I went up to section 205 to get game photo number 98 taken and for a split second I thought I had grabbed the wrong sign. When I pulled out the piece of paper it was upside down and I thought: “86!? NOOOOOO!” I think the fact that I was going on a few hours of sleep on the heels of 14 hours of driving contributed to my stupidity. A nearby fan did the honors and after a few adjustments I got one I liked.

I had only consumed two sausages over the previous 11 days so I figured it was time for another Polish. I devoured it quickly and it was delicious. A twitter follower (Scott) who had joined me at a previous game tweeted me earlier asking if I had tried the Giant Slugger yet (I hadn’t). It’s a two foot long hot dog topped with chili, onions, nacho cheese and jalapeños. A few weeks ago I took a few pictures. This first one is just of the hot dog itself, alone and waiting for the pretzel bun that it would eventually call home.

At a later game I saw two guys eating one and I asked if I could get a picture. I mentioned who I was and why I wanted a picture of it and one of them asked to get a picture with me. It was a fair tradeoff. It comes in a long cardboard box and includes handles for convenient transport.

Scott stopped by after the first inning and allowed me to take a section of the enormous dog (they cut it into four sections for easier handling). It was good but I don’t think I could eat a whole one. I’ll count this as one hot dog in the statistics because that’s about what it equates to (maybe even a little more than one).

Derrick was waiting in his seat when I arrived 20 minutes before first pitch. I found out that he’s from Milton and currently living at his parents’ place while he attends UW-Whitewater. We probably should’ve car pooled since we left at around the same time and he came within 1.5 miles of my parents’ house on his way to the game. Sorry environment.

Jonathan Lucroy was back from his two month Disabled List stint. It was good to see his name back in the lineup. Here he is coming out to start the game:

The game started and Gallardo delivered a strike to Lombardozzi to kick off the seven game home stand.

Similar to opening day the highlight of the game may have been the opening pitch strike. In the second inning LaRoche led off the inning with a home run and it was downhill from there. Gallardo gave up a walk and a hit following the home run, but had a chance to get out of the jam if he could retire the Nationals’ pitcher. Instead Gallardo walked Edwin Jackson and the following batter (Lombardozzi) delivered three runs with a bases clearing triple. Ouch. In the 5th the Nationals added three more runs to take a 7-0 lead.

The Brewers had just called up a pitcher by the name of Jim Henderson. I didn’t know much about him but we found out that he has pitched parts of 10 seasons in the minors and that Thursday was his Major League debut. It shows a lot of heart to stick with it that long and not give up. He delivered a strike with his first pitch in the bigs:

He wound up striking out his first batter on a 97 MPH fastball, and got all three batters out that he faced. Velocity must not have been a problem for him and I’m assuming it was a combination of a lack of secondary pitches and control that kept him off of a major league roster. Well done Jim, the Brewers bullpen welcomes you!

It was 8-0 in the eighth when Carlos Gomez hit a 2-run home run. That’s all the Brewers got and the Nationals took game one. Final Score: Nationals 8 – Brewers 2. It doesn’t hurt as bad when they’re never in the game, so I had that to be thankful for. The losing streak is now at seven, though, and that is painful.

Late in the game I had a fan in front of us take a picture of Derrick and me. He gave a thumbs up, I did not. I had a great time talking baseball with him and I’m grateful for his $40 donation to Be The Match for his ticket. Thanks Derrick!

Tonight I’m going with another twitter follower who graciously agreed to make a $40 donation as well. After the game I’m heading back to Madison for the night. I haven’t seen Victoria since the 15th and I’m very much looking forward to it. She occasionally sends me pictures of Prince (like the one below) which is nice of her but also makes me miss being home that much more.

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside Miller Park: 4 hrs 11 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 4 hrs 42 minutes
Miles driven:  123.7
Sausages: 2 (Polish, hot dog)
Pitches missed: 1 (Missed the 0-1 to Aoki in the 3rd. I was looking at my phone, you’d think I would learn)
Consecutive pitch streak ended at: 895
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.65% (287/288)
Current streak of pitches seen: 196

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 44-54 (.449 winning percentage)
Time inside stadiums: 417 hours 34 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 487 hours 11 minutes
Miles driven: 11,806.0
Miles riding in car but not driving: 1,944.5
Public Transit miles: 332.3
Flight Miles: 13,989
Total distance traveled: 28,071.8 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 112.73% (28,071.8/24,901)
Sausages: 75 (31 Hot Dogs, 23 Polish, 8 Bratwurst, 5 Corndogs, 2 Italian, Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Chicken Apple Sausage, Blueberry & Merlot Venison Sausage, Sausage Race on a Stick)
Pitches missed: 71
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,965 (6/30 – 7/6)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.76% (29,589/29,660)

If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

7-25-12 (@ Philadelphia)

Wednesday was getaway day so it was another day game following a night game. I got up around 9:30 and packed my stuff for the voyage home. I was going to be doing an interview with 94 WIP, who broadcast the pre game show from Citizens Bank Park. I left Mike and Meg’s place around 10:45, got my car from the Best Western that I parked it at early Monday morning, and headed to the ballpark. I can’t thank Mike and Meg enough for opening their home to me, you guys are great! I was parked at 11:10, picked up my pass to get inside and found the hard-to-miss booth on the field level behind section 123. This photo was taken right before the game and by that point it was empty.

The hosts of the Mike & Ike show are Michael Barkann and Ike Reese. I wonder if they hired the two of them just so they could have the *sweet* pairing of names. Ha. I think my segment was supposed to be about five minutes. However, the Phillies had signed one of their starting pitchers to an expensive long term deal and a reporter who calls into the show sometimes to inform the guys of newsworthy stories called in during my interview. What he had to say was (how do I say this nicely) not really newsworthy. He said he was in the clubhouse and another one of the Phillies’ pitchers, Roy Halladay, made a comment about the contract and how it might the Phillies’ ability to sign/keep players in the future. Mike and Ike didn’t think it required a call into the show and I’d have to agree (but I could be biased seeing that it took up most of my time). I was on air for about two minutes and it was a little frustrating. I skipped getting lunch at one of the famous Cheesesteak places so I could be at the park extra early. Mike and Ike were great and I got a picture with them before I left. Ike’s on the left, Mike’s on the right:

Ike is a former NFL linebacker who played for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1998-2004 and the Atlanta Falcons from 2005-2006. He made the pro bowl in 2004, the same year that the Eagles made the Super Bowl where they lost to the Patriots in a close game. Mike is a host, anchor, and reporter and was named Pennsylvania’s sportscaster of the year in seven times between 1999 and 2007. They’re both great guys and I’m grateful that they allowed me to grace their presence on the show. Chris Johnson, who was one of the guys I talked to on Tuesday morning for his and Spike’s show, had helped set it up, and I’m very appreciative. He was not obligated to help out in any way but he did, so thanks Chris!

After the radio appearance I went out to pick up my ticket from will call and then re-entered the stadium. I went to the upper deck to get game photo number 97, which a nearby fan took for me.

Behind this section in the concourse rests a giant Liberty Bell Piggy Bank. I think every stadium has the piggy banks (with different designs) and the money deposited goes to charity.

I had been told to get Chickie’s and Pete’s Crabfries, and that’s just what I did. The stand is located in the concourse in right-centerfield. They have the back and forth line that you go through because they’re so popular. That entire wall contains deep fryers.

If you couldn’t tell from the picture above the buckets that they come in are quite large. They cost $7.50, and a white cheese cup sets you back another $2. The fries are loaded with Old Bay seasoning (which is commonly used to season crab, thus the name Crabfries). With the portion size it’s really something to be shared. They were good and perhaps a little overrated, but I’m glad I gave them a try.

After eating the fries in the concourse I went to my seat in section 126 and waited for the game to start. It was hot but I was in the shade and it was breezy. It was probably the most comfortable I’ve been at a game in a while. Here’s the first pitch of the game, which resulted in a foul ball off the bat of Carlos Gomez:

The Brewers got on the board first, when Maldonado singled home Corey Hart in the top of the second. The Phillies tied it in the bottom half and then added two runs in each the third and fourth inning. Rickie Weeks homered to lead off the sixth to cut the lead to three:

Later in the inning Gomez doubled to drive in Cody Ransom. It was 5-3 Philies going into the 8th and with two outs Braun came to the plate with Gomez at first. The Phillies had a lefty on the mound and a righty loosening in the bullpen. I told the Phillies fan next to me that Braun eats lefties. It took four pitches to prove my point and Braun did what I was hoping for:

It was a game-tying 2-run home run for Braun, and it was awesome. I’m actually surprised that the Phillies fans didn’t give Braun more grief about the whole off-season scandal. I was expecting it to be right behind Dodger Stadium in terms of nastiness. I wasn’t sitting in the left field bleachers so I didn’t hear what was being said out there, but there wasn’t an overwhelmingly hostile mob-mentality when he came to the plate. Well done Philadelphia. Twenty eight home runs through 97 games means that he’s on pace for a career high 47 home runs, WITHOUT Prince Fielder behind him in the lineup and WITH all the crap he’s had to deal with. Amazing. Those “H8ters Gonna H8te” t-shirts hit the nail right on the head.

The Brewers had runners on first and third with nobody out in the top of the ninth inning. Zero runs were scored after that happened. It was hard to watch. Axford pitched the 8th and 9th innings and retired all six batters he faced including three by way of the K. In the top of the tenth a dropped pop up by the third basemen allowed Gomez to reach second base. Izturis sacrificed Gomez to third and the Phillies elected to intentionally walk Ryan Braun (probably a wise choice: he’s good). Aramis Ramirez was up next and he hit a fly ball to shallow centerfield:

It was caught (over the shoulder) by Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. Gomez tagged up and raced home:

Since Corey Hart didn’t get in line with Gomez quick enough Ed Sedar is shouting (I believe) where to slide in the lower left corner of the picture above. The Brewers took a 6-5 lead, but I was still nervous. Beside losing my greatest concern was that the Brewers would allow the Phillies to tie the game and it would last another few hours. I had been hoping to get on the road at 4 PM eastern time, allowing me to beat some of the rush hour traffic getting out of the city. It was already 4:50 at this point, so that didn’t happen anyways.

K-Rod came in and got Ty Wiggington to fly out to centerfield for the first out of the inning. He walked the next batter and then gave up a double to put runners on second and third with only one out. Carlos Ruiz hit a sacrifice fly and the game was tied at six. The next batter, Jimmy Rollins, lined a base hit to center and pinch runner Mike Fontenot came home with the winning run. Final Score: Phillies 7 – Brewers 6.

I’m running out of things to say regarding the team’s on-field performance. This may sound horrible but I think I was more frustrated on the 0-6 road trip than I ever was dealing with Leukemia for two and a half years. I took my diagnosis in stride and never got too upset because there was nothing I could do about it but fight. I had no control of the outcome in either case, really, but it hurts to want the Crew to win so badly and then experience demoralizing loss after demoralizing loss in person. I’m not complaining, but giving you an idea of what I’m feeling. I’m not a quitter and there will be no giving up, as some people have suggested I do. I’ve helped give future blood cancer patients a better chance of finding a matching donor by raising funds for Be The Match and encouraging people to join the registry. For that I feel amazing and grateful for the opportunity to make a difference. Losing, however, is something that I’m going to have to get used to. I’m über-competitive and I need to accept the fact that teams will have down years, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I have to take the good with the bad, and with my leukemia battle as an example, it’s something I should have no problem doing.

A few more pictures. It was “Christmas in July” at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday, for some reason. One thing they did was alter the home team “mug-shots” on the jumbotron. Take Shane Victorino, for example, sporting a nice Elf costume:

The Philly Phanatic came out on the four-wheeler, greeted Santa, gave him a Phanatic hat, danced with ‘ol Saint Nick and then the two of them jumped on the four-wheeler and took off.

 

 

After the walk-off win by the Phillies I was walking through the concourse towards the left field gate. A Phillies fan was excited and saw me walking towards him and kind of laughed and did this pointing thing at me. That was all fine but when I passed him he tried slapping me on my butt. He must’ve thought I had a very droopy backside because he slapped my hamstring instead. Either way I was not happy. From close range I pointed right at his face and said “Don’t touch me.” There may have been a few expletives but that report has not been confirmed. He got up close and said “What are you going to do about it?” Nothing (obviously), so I repeated my original statement and walked away. Seeing that I had witnessed back-to-back-to-back 7-6 horrendous losses I’m surprised I didn’t try to do something about it. Besides that one interaction I had no problem with the Phillies fans. I talked with many of them throughout the three game series and my story was well received.

I had a long drive and while I wasn’t looking forward to it I was looking forward to climbing into bed. I got in my car at 5:04 PM eastern time and 14 hours and 28 minutes later I was parked at my parents’ place in Fort Atkinson. I averaged 62.7 MPH including the two stops for gas. I hopped in bed at 7:00 AM central time and got roughly four hours of sleep. It’s 3:20 PM now and I’ll be leaving shortly for game one of the Brewers-Nationals series. Hopefully some home cooking is just what the doctor ordered for the Brewers.

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside Citizens Bank Park: 5 hrs 31 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 5 hrs 59 minutes
Miles driven:  917
Sausages: 0
Pitches missed: 0
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (337/337)
Current streak of pitches seen: 804

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 44-53 (.454 winning percentage)
Time inside stadiums: 413 hours 23 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 482 hours 29 minutes
Miles driven: 11,682.3
Miles riding in car but not driving: 1,944.5
Public Transit miles: 332.3
Flight Miles: 13,989
Total distance traveled: 27,948.1 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 112.24% (27,948.1/24,901)
Sausages: 73 (30 Hot Dogs, 22 Polish, 8 Bratwurst, 5 Corndogs, 2 Italian, Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Chicken Apple Sausage, Blueberry & Merlot Venison Sausage, Sausage Race on a Stick)
Pitches missed: 70
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,965 (6/30 – 7/6)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.76% (29,302/29,372)

If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

7-24-12 (@ Philadelphia)

Monday’s game didn’t end well, but Tuesday was a new day and I was looking forward to it. I started off the day with a 7:45 interview with Spike and Chris of the “What’s the Word” radio show. We recorded my segment in the morning but the show airs at 3:00 PM and I was on for just over 20 minutes. Spike also wrote an article about me and you can read it here. If you actually want to listen to the segment, you can click here. Thanks to Spike for setting it up, and to Chris for agreeing to have me on.

After the interview I walked to Sabrina’s Cafe & Spencer’s Too on Callowhill Street which is a few blocks from Mike and Meg’s place. Going clockwise from top left:

1) The exterior of he restaurant.

2) The view from my two person booth.

3) The bar, with some cool bar stools.

4) My breakfast. I ordered the Bella Vista Omelette (create your own) with ham, tri-bell peppers, grilled onions, and Wisconsin cheddar. I also ordered a $4 glass of freshly squeezed orange juice (because I’m worth it). Ha! I think the toast had been toasted 10 minutes before I got it, and it was very hard. I put it under the omelette and that seemed to soften it up (slightly).

I went back to Mike and Meg’s after breakfast and worked on the blog post for Monday. Once I finished I headed over to the Eastern State Penitentiary which is now a National Historic Landmark. It opened in 1829 and had a large influence on prison design and construction around the world. Here’s the castle like structure from Fairmount Avenue:

I took a bunch of pictures but I will only be showing some of them due to the fact that it’s 12:50 AM. I’ve got an interview at the park in 11 hours and then a 15 hour drive after the game.

Once you enter the structure and pay your admission you are given headphones and an audio player for the self guided tour. There are ten stops on the main audio tour but another 50 or so that you can also check out. They have maps that show where each audio stop is located. You could just sit down and listen to them all in order without moving, but where’s the fun in that?

Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP) was designed (at first) to provide as much isolation and solitary confinement as possible. This way of treating inmates was called the Pennsylvania System. They felt like that was the only way for criminals to understand true penitence, the root word of penitentiary.

The penitentiary was designed to represent a wheel, with a center and spokes (cell blocks) extending out from the center. They have a model of ESP in the Center:

Do you see the little open cavities on each side of the cell blocks? Those were exercise areas, and were connected to each cell. Here’s one of the cells:

And here’s one of the outdoor exercise areas:

There didn’t used to be doors in the cell block that allowed access to each cell, those were added later. The only way into each individual cell was through the exercise area (through the doorway that I’m standing outside of in the picture above). The prisoners would get two 30 minute breaks to be outside in their exercise area, but it wouldn’t be at the same time as neighboring prisoners (to eliminate communication as much as possible).

Here’s a model of the prison cells as they were originally intended to be used:

The prisoners would have bags over their heads when led to their cells to help disorient them.

I’m kind of jumping around here, but before I spoke of “the Center”, which served as the hub for the cell blocks.

The solitary confinement techniques and the Pennsylvania system broke down, leading the penitentiary transformation into a more traditional prison. This meant more prisoners could be housed at the facility, which helped cut costs as well. The original design called for seven cellblocks one story high but after the third cellblock they modified the design and the remaining cellblocks were built as two-story structures. They let you walk up the stairs in cellblock 7, and it provides for a nice picture.

Once it became a more standard prison, sports came into play. The picture below shows the backstop used for baseball as well as the goal posts for football.

If you rotate 180 degrees you’d see this:

That chain link fence at the top was added to try and keep baseballs from leaving the yard. They also had problems with people throwing baseballs back in. Some had notes from loved ones with instructions to deliver to so and so while other baseballs were altered to conceal weapons, drugs, and other objects.

This was the gate on the hospital block, and I just like the way the picture turned out.

Al Capone was housed at ESP for 8 months towards the end of 1929 and into 1930. They tried to recreate what his cell looked like when he was there. As you can see, his experience at the prison was likely much different than the other criminals.

There is lots more to see, and if you’re ever in the Philadelphia area I recommend you pay the place a visit. It took a lot of work to make the structures safe and I commend all parties involved. The last prisoner left in 1970 but it did house some city inmates the following year. For 20 years it was basically abandoned and then people decided that they should preserve the grounds. My artsy shot of the day is of some paint that was peeling off a cell wall:

I returned to Mike and Meg’s place for some rest before leaving for the game. I took the Subway again and was at the sports complex at 5:30. Mike was meeting me at the game and he had gotten us tickets from a coworker. I went inside and met up with a twitter follower, who had tweeted at me Monday asking if I could stop by. His name was Mike and he works at Citizens Bank Park. He’s 22 and is also a cancer survivor. He’s a cool guy and I wound up seeing him later in the game as well, when he gave me a keychain with some infield dirt.

I went to the left field second level “bleachers” (they’re actual seats) for game photo number 96. I talked with a married couple and the husband took the picture for me.

The concourse of the second level (where I’m facing in the picture above) provides a nice view of downtown Philadelphia:

Someone had tweeted that I need to get a Schmitter, which I found out is NOT named after Phillies great Mike Schmidt. The stand thankfully had a diagram so I knew what I was about to consume. If you can’t read the diagram: it consists of steak, grilled salami, tomatoes, cheese, fried onions, more cheese, and “special sauce”, all on a Kaiser roll.

The sandwich looked nothing like the diagram, but it was tasty. I wonder what my cholesterol reading was at before and after…

I ate the Schmitter quickly up in the Hall of Fame Club, where our seats were located, and then went out into the seating bowl in time for first pitch. Mike had just gotten there from work and we were both ready for some baseball.

It is now 1:53 AM, so I’ll be brief with the game. The Brewers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first but the Phillies answered and tied it in the bottom half. The game remained 1-1 into the 6th, when Ryan Braun led off the frame. He sent a missile to centerfield that ricocheted off the batters eye. According to hittrackeronline it only reached 68 feet at it’s peak, and that seems about right. I got a picture of him just after making contact. The ball is a blur about a finger’s width from his bat.

In the 7th inning Zack Greinke hit a solo home run to left field, his first of the year, and the first Cliff Lee had ever given up to a pitcher. That’s not saying too much seeing that he pitched in the American League for most of his career, but it’s still noteworthy. Greinke getting some love after returning to the dugout:

The Brewers weren’t done scoring and in the 8th inning they hit two more home runs, a solo shot from Go-Go and a 2-run shot from Ram-Ram. Here’s Ramirez and Ed Sedar high-fiving after Ramirez rounded third:

The Brewers had a 6-1 lead and I thought it was a good time to get a picture of Mike and me. A fan two rows back did the honors.

Mike’s from Michigan, thus the Tigers “D” shirt. He’s smart though, and has this red Tigers shirt that he can wear to Phillies games to trick other attendees that he’s one of them. I can’t thank Mike and his wife Meg enough for letting me stay at their place. I was basically a complete stranger and he opened his home up to someone because a friend of his said I was an OK guy. That’s very trusting of them and I’m very appreciative. He’s the vice chair of The Dude Hates Cancer, and they throw a bowling tournament every year to raise money and awareness for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Great cause.

If the night could’ve ended right then and there it would have been an amazing day. It didn’t end though, and this is what happened in the bottom of the 8th when the Phillies batted: single, ground out, 2-run home run, line out, walk, walk, walk, 3-run double, RBI single, walk, force out. If you were counting that’s 6 runs the Phillies scored, 4 of them with two outs. The Brewers went quietly in the ninth and once I again I was demoralized. I’m getting used to it but it still is hard to watch. Final Score: Phillies 7 – Brewers 6. You can’t walk the bases loaded too many times before it’s going to come back and haunt you, and that’s exactly what happened tonight….. errr yesterday. It’s 2:34 AM now. Goodnight.

Oh, I’ll be on the Phillies pre game radio show at 11:40 AM on 94 WIP (I believe that’s the right station).

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside Citizens Bank Park: 4 hrs 17 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 4 hrs 29 minutes
Miles driven: 0
Public transit miles: 8.0
Sausages: 0
Pitches missed: 0
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (258/258)
Current streak of pitches seen: 467

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 44-52 (.458 winning percentage) “You’re going the wrong way…”
Time inside stadiums: 407 hours 52 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 476 hours 30 minutes
Miles driven: 10,765.3
Miles riding in car but not driving: 1,944.5
Public Transit miles: 332.3
Flight Miles: 13,989
Total distance traveled: 27,031.1 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 108.55% (27,031.1/24,901)
Sausages: 73 (30 Hot Dogs, 22 Polish, 8 Bratwurst, 5 Corndogs, 2 Italian, Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Chicken Apple Sausage, Blueberry & Merlot Venison Sausage, Sausage Race on a Stick)
Pitches missed: 70
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,965 (6/30 – 7/6)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.76% (28,965/29,035)

If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

7-23-12 (@ Philadelphia)

Even though I went to bed after 3:00 AM I still woke up around 8:30. I couldn’t fall back asleep and I was up for good. I had two pieces of toast for breakfast and I typed out the blog post for Sunday’s game. I also tried to get an interview for a local radio or TV show. I tweeted at a bunch of stations and I’m grateful that 24/7 Phillies 98.1 WOGL contacted me and I did an interview this morning. I thought it was going to be an interview that would air as it’s happening, but it sounds like it will be airing at 3:00 PM eastern time during “What’s the Word.” Anything I can do to help raise funds and awareness for Be The Match is fine by me.

After getting the interview sorted out I decided to hit up a local restaurant for some lunch. I had texted Mike asking him a good sandwich place, but he was at work and didn’t get back to me right away. I chose a place called “Rybread” and when I was just about to leave Mike texted saying that I should give Rybread a try. Nice. It’s a short walk from Mike and Meg’s place and I was there in a few minutes. Going clockwise from top left:

1) The exterior of the restaurant on Fairmount Avenue.

2) The small interior of the place.

3) The menu, which is written on a chalk board that faces the doorway.

4) My lunch. I got the “San Diego” panini, which consists of sliced chicken breast, sharp provolone, roasted red pepper, and pesto. Because I’m never satisfied with a standard order I added caramelized onions and tomato. I also had a bag of Salt & Pepper kettle cooked “Joe Chips”, as well as a 1/2 peach tea and 1/2 lemonade. All in all it was a great lunch, even if it set me back $12.09.

When I got back to Mike and Meg’s place I hung out with Bubbles for a bit. He’s their beagle/basset hound mix is a very friendly dog.

After taking a short nap I walked the .7 miles to the subway stop on Spring Garden Street. I took the Broad Street line down to AT&T Station, which is the stop for the sports and entertainment complex. All four Philadelphia professional sports teams call this area home. The Flyers (hockey) and the 76ers (basketball) play at the Wells Fargo Center (formerly known as the CoreStates Center, First Union Center, and the Wachovia Center). The Eagles (football) play at Lincoln Financial Field which is commonly referred to as “The Linc.” I took a picture of Lincoln Financial Field and the Wells Fargo Center on my walk to Citizens Bank Park:

Needless to say there are plenty of parking spaces to go around. You can see Citizens Bank Park (and the other arenas) right after you emerge from the underground subway stop. As I got closer to the Phillies’ home I got a picture of the park.

It’s not downtown by any means but there are a few options for food and pre-game activities. Across the street is Xfinity Live!, which, according to Wikipedia is “a high end destination dining, entertainment, and retail complex.” Phase 1 is apparently done but it sounds like they will be adding to it. They have beer, food, and giant jenga. Before a baseball game that’s all fans really want, right?

I checked to see if my ticket was available at will call yet (it wasn’t) then got game photo number 95 taken care of. Two nearby Brewers fans were getting their picture taken in front of the Mike Schmidt statue, and I asked for their assistance. It was a father/son duo who were in town for a firefighter convention. Thanks for serving and protecting the Wausau area and for taking the picture for me!

Speaking of the Mike Schmidt statue, here it is. Mike Schmidt played for the Phillies his entire career, from 1972 to 1989. He was a 12-time All-Star, 3-time NL MVP, 8-time NL home run champ, and finished his career with 548 home runs. Oh, and he won 10 gold gloves, all around he’s one of the best and was inducted into the hall of fame in his first year of eligibility.

I went back to the first base side ticket windows and waited for the visiting team tickets to arrive. In the meantime I got a picture of the Robin Roberts statue. He pitched for the Phillies from 1948-1961 and had stints with the Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros, and the Chicago Cubs. He held the record for most home runs surrendered until Jamie Moyer surpassed it just recently. Despite the home runs surrendered record he was a great pitcher, a 7-time All-Star and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1976.

I got my ticket and was inside the park at 5:45. Right inside the first base entrance is the Phanatic Phun Zone. The Phillies mascot is the Philly Phanatic, and the Phillies like to use the P-H whenever they can. Very punny, Philadelphia.

I had lots of time to kill so I wandered around and took pictures. In centerfield they have an Illustrated History of Philadelphia Baseball. I actually didn’t get a picture of that because there were people constantly walking past (as they should). It was cool though and detailed the history of professional baseball in Philly over the past 150 years or so. The Phillies Wall of Fame is also out past the batters eye in centerfield. It pays tribute to the players who played for the Phillies over the years, and played well (that’s key).

Just to the right of the picture above lies the bullpens. You can look down into the ‘pens and learn how to throw pitches at the same time. My only problem with this slider diagram is that a slider does not move like that.  A slider moves across the pitchers body (moves right to left when a righty is pitching). This diagram makes it look like it straightens out and then goes back to the right slightly. On second thought, I think the diagram is trying to illustrate that the ball drops. Either way, it’s a bit confusing.

When I was out in centerfield I stopped to talk to a cameraman. I saw that he worked for Comcast Sports Network (CSN), and thought he might be able to help me out. I told him what I was doing and asked if he could maybe talk to his producer and tell them my story (or at least direct them to my blog). He told me to talk to the cameraman on the first base side, and that’s what I did. I stopped by, gave him my card and asked if he might be able to work something out. He said he’d relay the message to Gregg Murphy (Murph), who is the in-game reporter for the Phillies broadcasts on CSN. I told him where I was sitting for the three games but wasn’t sure if anything would come of it. It was worth a try and I’m glad I reached out. 20 minutes later I was sitting in my seat and the second cameraman (Mike) stopped by and said that Gregg Murphy would be doing an interview with me during the game. Nice!!! He didn’t say when but that was fine with me. I hadn’t planned on leaving my seat anyways so it worked out well.

It was Italian Heritage Celebration Day at the ballpark and I’m upset that I hadn’t brought my Birrai shirt for the occasion. The Verdi Band of Norristown performed on the field before the game.

As you can see the tarp was on the field, but they hadn’t covered the infield. It was raining and then drizzling but once the game started the rain was pretty much nonexistent. Speaking of the game, it started a few minutes late because of the weather but Roy Halladay delivered a ball to Aoki to start things off.

Aoki grounded out, Gomez was hit by a pitch, and Braun grounded out after Gomez stole second. Aramis Ramirez doubled to right and Gomez scored to give the Crew a 1-0 lead. Ramirez shortly after sliding into second:

Corey Hart was up next, and he lined a base hit to left, allowing Ramirez to score. Here’s Hart either right before or right after he made contact with the 1-2 pitch from Halladay.

The Phillies would answer in their half of the first. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard went back-to-back with two outs and it was all knotted up at two. Despite allowing the two runs in the first Randy Wolf pitched well and he deserves a mention. Here he is delivering the first pitch of his outing.

In the third inning the Brewers took a one run lead when Braun singled home Gomez. Gomez slid home and did a pop up slide that turned into a leap. Unfortunately the catcher is in the way, otherwise you’d have a better idea of what I’m talking about.

Ramirez’s thoughts on Gomez’s antics can be explained by his facial expressions as Gomez heads to the dugout:

In the top of the fourth Gregg Murphy came over, introduced himself, and said that we’d be on air after the first at bat. Kottaras grounded out, but I missed the first pitch of the at bat because a beer vendor was in the way and I had nowhere to go. Gregg got word that they’d be doing the interview after the second at bat and Izturis wasted no time grounding out on the first pitch he saw. Here’s the interview:

Now, I’m sure you noticed the guy who came in from the right side of the screen at about the 41 second mark. He knelt down right in front of someone else, tried to get in the shot, and then show his Phillies shirt off. After seeing it I realize that he really didn’t get much face time and he looked like a tool in the process. After the interview they went back to me (which I didn’t know). You can see me giving him a thumbs up and saying something. I was telling him what I was doing, and that he probably just looked like a “phool” on TV. All he said was “I respect that but I’m a Phillies fan.” That’s why I’m shaking my head and looking a little ticked off. It probably looked bad to viewers at home so I’m a little upset with myself. Oh well.

I want to thank cameraman Mike for informing Gregg Murphy of my story, and Gregg for doing the interview. I also want to thank CSN for agreeing to have me on. It’s been great to see all the support I’ve gotten, thank you!

Randy Wolf singled when I was doing the interview and Aoki followed suit. Halladay started off Gomez with a 75 MPH curveball, and Go-Go wasn’t fooled. He hit a 404 foot home run (I dispute the distance) off the left field foul pole and the Brewers took a commanding 6-2 lead. Gomez as he nears home:

The Brewers gave a run back in the seventh when Kottaras let one get by him and the lead shrunk to three. It remained that way heading into the bottom of the ninth. K-Rod struck out (former Brewer) Laynce Nix and it was looking good. Do you want to know how the game ended?

With one out this is what transpired: single, walk, 2-run single, RBI single, walk, walk-off sacrifice fly. Game over, Phillies win. Final Score: Phillies 7 – Brewers 6. This is why you don’t leave a baseball game early. Thousands of fans left in the 7th, 8th, and 9th (sadly a lot of fans at Miller Park do the same). The sac fly almost was a double play, and Braun almost threw out Kratz but his throw home was slightly off target. On a scale of 0-100, 100 being a perfect strike from the outfield, Braun probably needed an 80 or so, since his was off target I’d give it a 70. It was terrible. I didn’t get heckled or anything, and I actually shook a few hands and said “good comeback.” On the inside I felt like punching a cement wall, but you should never show your hand. Plus, would I rather be working a 9-5 right now? The answer is no, so I’m not going to complain.

It’s time for a few pictures of the Philly Phanatic, the Phillies’ exuberant mascot. At some point (between innings) he came flying across the field on a four-wheeler. The progression goes clockwise from top left, but it doesn’t need an explanation.

He is a pretty phunny phella and I think my favorite moment was when he was laying on the top of the Phillies dugout. He reached out and touched the cameraman on the butt, you can be the judge as to whether the cameraman enjoyed it or not…

I think I’m going to head over to the Eastern State Penitentiary, which is just a short walk from Mike and Meg’s place. It’s historic, run down, and it should be interesting. I will take pictures, they will appear in tomorrow post, that is all.

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside Citizens Bank Park: 4 hrs 51 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 5 hrs 24 minutes
Miles driven:  0
Public transit miles: 8.0
Sausages: 0
Pitches missed: 2 (beer vendor got in the way for one, was tweeting for the other)
Consecutive pitch streak ended at: 216
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.40% (332/334)
Current streak of pitches seen: 209

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 44-51 (.463 winning percentage)
Time inside stadiums: 403 hours 35 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 472 hours 1 minutes
Miles driven: 10,765.3
Miles riding in car but not driving: 1,944.5
Public Transit miles: 324.3
Flight Miles: 13,989
Total distance traveled: 27,023.1 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 108.52% (27,023.1/24,901)
Sausages: 73 (30 Hot Dogs, 22 Polish, 8 Bratwurst, 5 Corndogs, 2 Italian, Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Chicken Apple Sausage, Blueberry & Merlot Venison Sausage, Sausage Race on a Stick)
Pitches missed: 70
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,965 (6/30 – 7/6)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.76% (28,707/28,777)

If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

7-22-12 (@ Cincinnati)

Sunday was the dreaded day game after a night game, with a 10 hour drive to boot. I got up around 10:30, ate breakfast, got packed and left by 11:30. I parked in one of the $10 parking lots, picked up my Brewers-provided ticket (Thanks Kathy & Tyler) and headed inside. It was just past noon and I walked around a bit and found the misting fan that is located in the left field corner on the field level. I could have watched the entire game from that spot but figured it would get very crowded (which it did).

I went up to section 406 in the Kroger-sponsored bleachers to get game photo number 94. I had a fan in the last row take the picture for me, and after a few tweaks to the settings I got one I liked.

I walked around some more and got a hot dog before heading to my seat in section 112. I sat in section 112 for all three games. It’s a good section to be in but like almost every section during day games it’s in the sun for the entire game. Johnny Cueto was on the hill for the Reds and he delivered the first pitch to Aoki to start the game. The ball is just about to enter the catcher’s mitt.

The Brewers loaded the bases in the top of the first with two outs. Cueto struck out Rickie Weeks swinging and the Brewers were kept off the board. Mike Fiers got the start for the Crew and he has been spectacular since being called up. I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but his delivery reminds me of Tim Lincecum’s with the way he drops his hand and then brings it over the top. Lincecum had/has more velocity but Fiers is having the better season to date (albeit with a smaller sample size). Here he is throwing his first pitch of the afternoon.

In the top of the third Norichicka Aoki led off with a double down the left field line. Cueto struck out Morgan and Braun and it looked as if the Brewers would squander another great scoring opportunity. Aramis Ramirez proved me wrong and on a 1-2 pitch singled to right to drive in Aoki, who scored without a throw. The Brewers went ahead 1-0 on the play, their first lead of the series.

After the top of the third I got out of the sun. It wasn’t that uncomfortable, but seeing that I had a long drive ahead of me I figured I should preserve as much energy as I could. Being in the sun for another two hours probably would have gotten to me in hour seven or eight of my drive, so I think I made the right decision. I went over towards the misting fan but saw that it was extremely crowded. I stopped a section short and watched from the concourse behind section 107. Shortly after I got there this guy stopped by for a visit:

In the bottom of the third inning the Reds scored twice and took a one run lead. Apparently some people find baseball boring and would rather play Angry Birds. I’ve been known to get distracted during a game and tweet something or send a text, but he wasn’t even trying to still pay attention. As Keyshawn would say: “Come on, man!”

If you look closely you can still see the dragonfly on the cup holder in the upper left. I forgot how long he stayed there but it was quite a while. He eventually took off but unfortunately for him he landed by some kids on the nearby staircase. They were curious [read: murderous] and the dragonfly was no more. I don’t know if they thought it was a wasp or something but he was just minding his business.

Before I left my standing room spot in the eighth inning I got a picture of two guys that were sitting in section 107. With the Reds still holding the one run advantage it wasn’t looking good for the Crew. For you non baseball people; a sweep is when one team wins all of the games in a series. When a team is just one win away from a sweep some fans bring brooms to the last game of the series to show that they’ve been paying attention. Either that or to perhaps rub it in or to get on TV.

I went over to “Gapper’s Alley” behind section 119 to watch the bottom of the eighth. During a pitching change I walked over to section 129 so I was near to the exit that was closest to my car. In the top of the ninth Carlos Gomez drew a walk with two outs. Aroldis Chapman was pitching for the Reds and he can throw some heat. Supposedly he hit 106 MPH on a radar gun last year during a game but it’s unknown if the gun was “hot”. He still hits 101 on occasion but he might be holding back a little bit to be more accurate. Ryan Braun was at the plate and Gomez was able to steal second despite the fact that Chapman threw over to first on the play. Braun went down 0-2 in the count and after fouling off the first 0-2 pitch he struck out swinging.

After the last pitch I took off for my car, yet still managed to get caught in traffic. I’m guessing it was a traffic control cop that was keeping a light red, but it took forever. I was the second car at one traffic light, but we couldn’t go anywhere because the next light was red for about 7 minutes. In all I moved 5o yards in 12 minutes. It got better and once I got on I-71 I was Philadelphia bound. The 580 mile drive took me nine hours and forty minutes which includes two stops totaling 27 minutes. Including the stops I averaged exactly 60 miles per hour. Not bad considering that a decent portion of the drive had posted speed limits of 60. I try to drive six to seven miles per hour over the speed limit. I’m a cautious and safe driver and I feel that if a cop wants to pull me over for going seven over, then so be it.

My sister Eliza used to live in San Diego, and once when I was visiting one of her friends was in town for a conference. I remembered that she lived in Philadelphia and back in September I sent her a Facebook message explaining what I was doing and asked if I could stay with her in July when the Brewers were in town. She said yes but there was no guarantee she’d still be in Philly. She was going to the University of Pennsylvania Law School and would be graduating before my visit and might find a job. I went to send her a message a month before the Brewers-Phillies series but noticed on Facebook that she got a job at Yale. I was bummed but asked if she knew anybody in Philly that might be cool with me staying with them for a few nights. She got back to me and I’m staying with a married couple that she thought would be perfect. Their names are Mike and Meg. I didn’t get here until 2:20 AM but Mike got up and told me what I needed to know. I haven’t met Meg yet, but I’m sure she’s just as nice as Mike. They live in a townhouse north of downtown and I basically have the third floor to myself. This picture is hanging in the bathroom. If you can’t read what’s underneath the picture it says: “GOALS: It’s best to avoid standing directly between a competitive jerk and his goals.”

Mike is a great guy and is the vice-chair for Philadelphia’s chapter of The Dude Hates Cancer, a charitable bowling event that raises money and awareness for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This year’s tournament is on September 15th, check it out if you’re in the Philadelphia area and like bowling, or like supporting great causes.

I’m leaving in about three hours to go to game one of the three game set. Hopefully the City of Brotherly Love shows the Crew some and we’re able to stop the losing streak. I try not to use *we* when describing the team because although I might be superstitious at times, I realize that me wearing a certain pair of socks is probably not going to help them break out of a slump.

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside Great American Ballpark: 4 hrs 5 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 4 hrs 11 minutes
Miles driven:  590.3
Sausages: 1 (Hot Dog)
Pitches missed: 1 (I got distracted by a crying kid who didn’t want to go back to his seat without his mom)
Consecutive pitch streak ended at: 1,096
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.63% (272/273)
Current streak of pitches seen: 175

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 44-50 (.468 winning percentage)
Time inside stadiums: 398 hours 44 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 466 hours 37 minutes
Miles driven: 10,765.3
Miles riding in car but not driving: 1,944.5
Public Transit miles: 316.3
Flight Miles: 13,989
Total distance traveled: 27,015.1 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 108.49% (27,015.1/24,901)
Sausages: 73 (30 Hot Dogs, 22 Polish, 8 Bratwurst, 5 Corndogs, 2 Italian, Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Chicken Apple Sausage, Blueberry & Merlot Venison Sausage, Sausage Race on a Stick)
Pitches missed: 68
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,965 (6/30 – 7/6)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.76% (28,375/28,443)

If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

7-21-12 (@ Cincinnati)

Since it’s after midnight, there’s a game in 12.5 hours, and afterwards I’m driving the 10 hours to Philadelphia; this is going to be a short post. On Saturday I finished the post for Friday, watched the British Open, and did some leg exercises to help with my knee. I went to the game with Barry again and he picked me up 4:30. We were parked at Paul Brown Stadium at 4:45 and we walked over to Great American Ballpark and tried to find a place to eat before the game. The wait was long at every place, so we just had a beer at Holy Grail Bar & Grille and then went across the street to the ballpark. While Barry was waiting in line to get the tickets I got a picture of a man on stilts and the human statue, who were outside of the stadium. I don’t know what the occasion was but there was also a guy inside the stadium that was doing magic tricks. I know that what he was really doing was slight of hand but neither Barry nor I could pick up on it. Well played magic man, well played.

Once we got our tickets and got inside we headed for the upper deck. I got game photo number 93 while standing on a seat in section 537. The closest bridge is the Central Bridge, and the one in the distance is the Dan C Beard Bridge.

After getting the picture taken we went down to the field level and got some food from Mr. Red’s Smokehouse. They offer specials from each visiting team’s city (when they’re in town). When the Brewers are in town they have a smoked beer braised brat. You can click on the image to get a closer look (if you’re interested in seeing what they offer when various teams are in town).

I didn’t get a brat because I can get that anytime. Instead I got the smoked pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw and mac & cheese as sides. It was delicious.

Something funny happened before I ate my dinner. Barry and I were eating at a circular bar table with no chairs or stools. There was a married couple probably in their upper 40′s eating at the same table. I pulled out my hand sanitizer and “washed” my hands before I dug in. I set the small flip-top bottle on the table and the woman quietly commented; “that’s nice that they have those.” I didn’t really think anything of it but then she reached over, picked it up and proceeded to use some of it on her hands. Barry and I kind of looked at each other as she reached back over and set it down where I had left it. Eventually she realized that it was actually mine and she started apologizing profusely. Her husband laughed and said to her; “here’s a fork, do you want some of his pulled pork too?” We had a good laugh and she apologized a few more times before they left. I obviously was not upset and thought the whole thing was pretty funny.

Barry and I went to our seats and met up with one of Barry’s friends (Mike) and Mike’s wife (Erica). They were sitting with us and we were all situated for the first pitch of the game. The seats were in the same section as Friday (112) but on Saturday we were 19 rows closer. Here’s the view as Bronson Arroyo delivered the first pitch of the game to Norichika Aoki:

The Brewers went down in order in the first but the Reds did not follow suit in the bottom half. Gallardo was on the hill for the Brewers, coming off his last start where he struck out a career high 14 batters. Here he is delivering his first pitch to Drew Stubbs:

Stubbs popped out and Rickie Weeks made a really nice play to catch the fly ball down the right field line. The next five at bats for the Reds went as follows: single, single, RBI single, sacrifice fly, two-run home run. Just like that the Reds had a 4-0 lead. Not cool.

In the fourth inning Travis Ishikawa doubled and Corey Hart singled to drive him in. Here’s Hart chatting with Todd Frazier at first base after his single.

When a Reds pitcher strikes out a batter they shoot flames from the Power Stacks in right center field. I made sure to capture this because while it is wasteful it’s also kind of cool.

In the sixth inning Ishikawa doubled again and Braun followed with a single, putting runners on the corners with nobody out. I told Barry that I was hoping Braun would steal second to stay out of the double play. On the first pitch Ramirez did just what I was fearing. Ishikawa scored from third but the chances of a big inning were drastically reduced now that the bases were empty with two outs.

In the bottom of the seventh the Reds tacked on two insurance runs when Brandon Phillips took Jose Veras deep. The Brewers went in order in the 8th and 9th, and that was all she wrote. Final Score: Reds 6 – Brewers 2.

I’m really hoping that the Crew can avoid the sweep and at least give me something good to think about on my 10 hour drive to Philadelphia after the game tomorrow.

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside Great American Ballpark: 4 hrs 31 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 4 hrs 47 minutes
Miles driven:  0
Miles riding in car but not driving: 12.8
Sausages: 0
Pitches missed: 0
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (282/282)
Current streak of pitches seen: 999

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 44-49 (.473 winning percentage)
Time inside stadiums: 394 hours 39 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 462 hours 26 minutes
Miles driven: 10,175
Miles riding in car but not driving: 1,944.5
Public Transit miles: 316.3
Flight Miles: 13,989
Total distance traveled: 26,424.8 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 106.12% (26,424.8/24,901)
Sausages: 72 (29 Hot Dogs, 22 Polish, 8 Bratwurst, 5 Corndogs, 2 Italian, Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Chicken Apple Sausage, Blueberry & Merlot Venison Sausage, Sausage Race on a Stick)
Pitches missed: 67
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,965 (6/30 – 7/6)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.76% (28,103/28,170)

If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

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