August 11th, 2012

8-11-12 (@ Houston)

I was pretty lazy on Saturday and after finishing up the blog post for Friday I watched some of the PGA Championship on TV. I left Annie’s place at 4:40 and it took me about 25 minutes to walk the mile and a half to Minute Maid Park. After getting my ticket from will call I went inside and headed straight for the upper deck. I had a nearby Astros fan take game photo number 112 . Only 50 games remain! I wish it would have been cool enough to have the roof open because it would’ve made for a much better view of the Houston skyline.

I got my designated driver soda in the upper deck and also picked up a Chicago style hot dog. By the time I got down to my seat the game was about to start so I waited until after the top of the first to eat. It was quite messy and I’m amazed that I managed to not spill anything on myself.

This was the first pitch of the game from my seat in section 110 (a strike from Keuchel to Aoki):

The Astros scored twice in the bottom of the 1st but the Brewers came back with two of their own in the top of the 2nd. The second of those two runs was driven in when Lucroy hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield, scoring Hart. See if you can find the baseball in the picture below (I promise it’s there):

The Astros answered with two in the bottom of the 3rd and captured their 2-run lead right back. In the top of the 5th the Brewers had runners on 1st and 3rd with two outs. Aoki stepped to the plate and brought both Lucroy and Segura home to tie the game at four:

The Astros wasted no time and got the lead back in the bottom of the 5th when Tyler Greene led off the inning with a solo home run. In the 7th inning Kameron Loe came into the game and pitched for the Brewers. For the second out he got Altuve to ground out weakly to Segura. The pitch had jammed Altuve and Loe broke his bat, which helicoptered and embedded itself near the pitchers mound.

At one point a Chick-fil-A cow came down the aisle next to me and started throwing t-shirts into the crowd. I caught one and should have just given it away right then and there. I will be doing so tomorrow because I won’t be wearing it.

The game remained 5-4 Astros going into the top of the 9th. Rickie Weeks led off the inning and lined the 6th pitch he saw into the left centerfield gap. Here he is pulling into 2nd base:

Lucroy singled and Segura grounded out, driving in Weeks on the play. Even though Lucroy was at second base with only one out the Brewers failed to score the go-ahead run. Henderson came on to pitch the bottom of the 9th and he looked dominant, striking out all three batters he faced, using only 13 pitches in the process. The Brewers did not score in the top of the 10th and Henderson came back out for the bottom half. Altuve singled to open the frame and then Henderson walked both Gonzalez and Pearce, loading the bases with nobody out. The Astros had about an 88% chance of scoring a run in that situation, so it was looking bleak. Roenicke had Braun come in and play the infield:

This is what the whole infield looked like:

I’m always in favor of teams bringing in one of the outfielders in situations like this. If you’re going to get beat it should at least be on a ball that is well hit and not a ball that just trickles through the infield. It didn’t matter this time though because Scott Moore singled to left, and that was that.

Astros win. Final Score: Astros 6 – Brewers 5. It was another tough loss, and it’s getting old. All I can do is keep heading to the games and keep hoping for the best. Afternoon game on Sunday, then it’s off to Denver on Monday morning.

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside Minute Maid Park: 4 hrs 36 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 4 hrs 38 minutes
Miles driven: 0
Miles riding in car but not driving: 1.6 (cab ride home)
Sausages: 1 (Chicago style hot dog)
Pitches missed: 2
Consecutive pitch streak ended at: 84
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.37% (319/319)
Current streak of pitches seen: 236

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 51-61 (.455 winning percentage)
Time inside stadiums: 473 hours 51 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 556 hours 4 minutes
Miles driven: 13,891.7
Miles riding in car but not driving: 2,010.5
Public transit miles: 365.9
Flight miles: 15,848
Total distance traveled: 32,116.1 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 128.98% (32,116.1/24,901)
Sausages: 80 (33 Hot Dogs, 26 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: 79
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,965 (6/30 – 7/6)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.77% (33,555/33,634)

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

8-10-12 (@ Houston)

On Thursday I got an oil change at 9:15 then drove to General Mitchell for my 1:40 flight to Tampa. I got to the Airport at 11:45 and was through security with plenty of time to spare. I had lunch at Nonna Bortolotta’s and ordered the Ham and Cheese Panini. It was good but the bread was so crispy the roof of my mouth was raw by the time I was done.

My flight to Tampa was delayed 10 minutes but that was fine because my flight from Tampa to Houston was delayed by 30. I must have been hungry and couldn’t wait because I grabbed a Snickers and paid $1.72 at the Tampa airport. That used to be their slogan if you didn’t catch the reference.

Despite the flight being delayed I was still able to catch the 88 bus from Houston Hobby Airport to downtown Houston. I had asked Annie (who I was going to be staying with) if she thought I’d be fine walking the 3/4 of a mile to her apartment at 8:40 PM. She warned me that it wasn’t the safest area but I’m cheap (and perhaps stupid) and did it anyways. Everything was fine and I made it to her place just after 8:50. Annie was in Memphis, if you were wondering why she just wouldn’t have picked me up from the Airport or the bus stop.

On Friday I spent the first half of the day trying to get an interview on a sports talk radio show or with a news station. I tweeted at 38 different twitter accounts, including individuals accounts and the accounts for the stations/channels themselves in both Houston and Denver (where the Brewers play next). One of them “favorited” my tweet, which really doesn’t do anything, another one asked me to email her details, which I did, and that was it. A little frustrating, but also somewhat last minute, so I understand. I also emailed news stations in Houston and Denver informing them of my mission and what I’m trying to do. I don’t expect everyone to respond and be interested but I honestly think it’s a feel-good story that is newsworthy. I may be a little biased, however.

For lunch I went to Calliope’s PoBoy, a small restaurant a mile from Annie’s place. The four parter below details my visit, going clockwise from top left:

1) The exterior of Calliope’s, which is on the corner of Hutchins and Jefferson.

2) The interior of the restaurant. There are Louisiana articles on the wall including that yellow fish in the middle, which has “LSU” on it.

3) My soft shell crab po’-boy, well, half of the po’-boy, the other half is not pictured.

4) I also ordered 6 butterfly shrimp, with the spicy potato salad INSTEAD of fries. When my food was brought to me there were fries but no potato salad. I reminded them of my order and got the potato salad a few minutes later. I felt bad because I didn’t eat a single fry. I hadn’t asked for them so my guilt quickly disappeared.

I was done with lunch at 2:45 and drove back to Annie’s to get ready for the game. Annie was going to visit some family members in the suburbs for a few hours and she gave me a ride to Minute Maid Park on her way out of town. I had to wait 15 minutes for my Brewers provided ticket to be available and I was inside just before 6:00. I got game photo number 111 taken from behind home plate on the field level and I had a nearby Astros fan do the honors.

After getting the game number picture taken I went over by the Astros dugout and got the attention of a guy who was talking with the camera man. I asked him if he was with the Astros broadcast (he was) and briefly told him what I was doing and why. I asked if I could possibly get an interview during the game to help raise awareness for Be The Match. I gave him one of my cards and he wrote down my seat location on the back. I found out it was Greg Lucas and he tweeted at me informing me he gave my info to Bart Enis who might try to find me later. No one ever stopped by but it was worth a shot.

A twitter follower had told me to send a tweet Alyson Footer’s way, who is an MLB.com correspondent for the Astros. I did so before I left for the game and she said she had passed it on to someone else who would probably contact me while at the game. Rachel Frey responded and said she would stop by in the first inning and do an interview for MLB’s Cut 4, which in short is interns finding interesting stories and interviewing people and producing short videos. She came down in the first inning, asked me some questions and got some video. I’m not sure when it will be up on their website, but I imagine sometime soon. Thanks Alyson and Rachel!

The last time I was in Houston I had taken a picture of the new support structure in left field and wondered what was going on. Question answered:

Before the game the Astros had a short on-field ceremony for the Lone Star Santas. They’re an organization who help with disaster relief for children. In 2011 they delivered toys to Joplin, Missouri after a tornado struck the town in May.

Jeff Bagwell threw out one of the ceremonial first pitches on Friday. Bagwell played for the Astros from 1991 to 2005 and is the franchise leader in home runs, RBI, walks, and batting average. Apparently his shoulder is blown out, which explains why he didn’t throw from the mound.

The game started at 7:05 and the Brewers got on the board early. After a Gomez strike out Morgan did the same but the catcher couldn’t corral the pitch in the dirt. When Morgan started running towards first he accidentally clipped the ball with his foot and it didn’t roll the direction the catcher expected. Morgan was able to reach first, much to the dismay of Astros manager Brad Mills who came out to argue once again. Braun doubled on the first pitch he saw and Nyjer Morgan raced home to give the Brewers a 1-0 lead.

In the second inning Rickie Weeks scored on a wild pitch and the Crew doubled their lead. The Astros got one back in the 5th on an RBI single from Carlos Corporan. Jean Segura drove in his 2nd run of the year on a single in the 7th, returning the 2-run lead to the Brewers. Mark Rogers pitched seven strong innings and deserves a mention. He retired the first 13 batters of the game in order and gave one run on three hits and two walks, while striking out eight.

I’ve posted about Minute Maid Park five times before today and have failed to mention Tal’s Hill, I think. I didn’t read my previous five posts but doing a quick google search with my name and Tal’s Hill nothing came back. Tal’s Hill is an elevated patch of grass in centerfield at Minute Maid Park. Its entire footprint would be beyond the centerfield fence in most ballparks in the majors. The 436 centerfield fence is the deepest centerfield in the majors.

That flag pole on the left is in play, and in 2003 Richie Sexson hit one high off the pole that would’ve been a home run at every other park in the majors. He wound up with a triple, arguably the longest triple ever hit. I take that back, there were likely longer triples hit at the Polo Grounds in New York (483 feet to center).

Back to the game; in the 8th inning Francisco Rodriguez came on and tried to preserve the 3-1 lead. He gave up a solo home run to lead off the inning but was able to get out of the 8th with a one-run lead. Axford, not Henderson, emerged from the bullpen in the 9th inning to try and record the final three outs of a Brewers victory. How did it go? Leadoff walk, game-tying RBI single (advancing to second on a Gomez error), long fly out to center allowing runner on second to tag up and go to third, game-winning walk-off RBI single by Bogusevic. This is what it looked like from my seat.

Spectacular (if you’re an Astros fan). Ugh. I can’t say I’m surprised though and I’m getting used to it. Final Score: Astros 4 – Brewers 3. The highlight of the game (besides Rickie Weeks hitting three scorching doubles) was the chicken nachos I had in the 6th inning. I’m a little upset though, because one of the main reasons I got them was for the pico de gallo that they put on top. I didn’t find out that the pico was gone until after I ordered and they were in the process of adding the toppings.

Friday is fireworks night at Minute Maid Park and I stayed for the show, mainly because Annie said she was on her way back into town and could pick me up from the park. They put on a pretty good show and I’m curious how much it costs. Perhaps they should take the money from the 13 fireworks shows they put on throughout the year and sign better baseball players, but I digress. I took pictures of the fireworks, three of them are below.

It’s 1:30 PM now and the game is at 6:05 tonight. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the Brewers can snap the 10-game road losing streak that they are currently on. 10 games is too long, especially when you have to witness them all in person.

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside Minute Maid Park: 4 hrs 31 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 4 hrs 48 minutes
Miles driven: 101.5 (Thursday’s drive to the airport accounts for 99.4)
Miles riding in car but not driving: 4.0
Flight miles: 1,859 (Thursday’s flights)
Public transit miles: 10.8 (Thursday’s bus ride from the airport to downtown Houston)
Sausages: 0
Pitches missed: 1 (missed the 0-2 to Weeks in the top of the 9th, I was looking at my phone, again)
Consecutive pitch streak ended at: 386
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.63% (268/269)
Current streak of pitches seen: 28

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 51-60 (.459 winning percentage)
Time inside stadiums: 469 hours 15 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 551 hours 26 minutes
Miles driven: 13,891.7
Miles riding in car but not driving: 2,008.9
Public transit miles: 365.9
Flight miles: 15,848
Total distance traveled: 32,114.5 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 128.97% (32,114.5/24,901)
Sausages: 79 (32 Hot Dogs, 26 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: 77
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,965 (6/30 – 7/6)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.77% (33,238/33,315)

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