Jaso gets pie in the face

People often argue about what is the most exciting play in baseball:  the triple? Inside the park homer? No hitter? Diving catch? They are all exciting but, to me, nothing beats the walk-off victory. When it happens, all 25 players come out to hit the helmet of the player who hit the walk-off shot and the fans go crazy. Usually, the player who got the hit then gets interviwed on the field and, in a strange tradition, one of his teammates usually sneaks up from behind and gives him a shaving cream pie in the face.

In the bottom of the 9th in a tie game, the Seattle Mariners led it off with a single to right and the crowd rose to its feet in anticipation. Everybody in the ballpark knew that Brendan Ryan would follow with a sacrifice bunt. However, what turned out to the key play of the game, instead of just accepting his fate of being thrown out at First, Ryan ran as hard as he could. Despite it being a routine play, the pitcher didn’t account for Ryan hustling so much. Ryan beat the throw by a hair, and the Mariners were set up perfectly.  After a walk made it bases loaded and none out, John Jaso was sent up to pinch hit.  The Twins changed pitchers and the crowd cheered in anticipation.  Jaso hit a flyball to medium leftfield.  Ryan Doumit, who has a strong arm, made a throw like a rocket but it was off target and the Mariners won the game!  All of

Jaso’s teammates ran out of the dugout and mobbed him. 

They all playfully punched him and jumped on him.  The crowd went crazy.  Minutes later came the pie in the face.  It was a fun way to end our trip. 

Earlier in the game, Justin Smoak, who they call the Smoak Monster hit a bomb to dead-center which gave the Mariners the chance to win it in the 9th.

We loved Seattle and wished we had more time here.  The Space Needle gave a great view of the city being 720 feet off the ground.  

The stadium has a bronze replica of their old sportscaster which I took a picture with. 

a giant pig

and a playplace for little kids

and a cool mural

and a mascot called Mariner Moose.

The fans were incredibly nice here and were really into their team., including many rounds of the wave.

In the 9th inning when the Mariners were rallying, the crowd went beserk when they played Ozzy Osborne’s Crazy Train.

You would never know that they were in last place as they acted as if they won the World Series after the victory.  The town was clearly energized by Felix Hernandez‘ perfect game which happened only three days prior to the game we saw.  Obviously, we wish we were there for that game and I can’t wait to see my first no-hitter.  Then I can decide if THAT is the greatest play in baseball.

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A’s 6, Shelley 4

At 6’5″ and 235 pounds, Shelley Duncan is a towering figure. When he swings, he seems to swing right out of his shoes. This is what makes him what they call a true 3 outcome hitter. He will either strikeout, walk or homer with the homer being is the least frequent occurrence. However,  with the bases loaded, 2 out, and a 3-2 count in the 4th inning, my Dad said, “This could be ugly for the A’s“. On cue, Shelley hit a towering home run to left field giving the Indians a 4-0 lead. While the A’s had plenty of time to come back, it felt like too big a cushion.  I felt awful for the A’s starting pitcher, Tom Malone, who pitched a great game, but through one unfortunate pitch.

What always amazes me about baseball is how unlikely heroes emerge in games. Josh Donaldson, the A’s backup third baseman, came into the game hitting only .167 and was therefore likely headed back to the minors.

In this game, he proceeded to go 4 for 4 with his last hit breaking up a 4-4 tie in the 8th inning and leading the A’s to a 6-4 victory.

I was very happy for him and he seemed to also thrilled to be interviewed after the game. He signed balls and autographs for all of the fans who wanted one.  On that note, as soon as I arrived at my seat, none other than Covelli “Coco” Crisp signed my hat!

As for the Oakland Alameda Coliseum, it was quite disappointing compared to Anaheim or San Francisco. It is an old concrete stadium built in 1968

and is known as the Mausoleum because it draws so few fans, at times. During the 1970’s, attendence of only a couple thousand was common and during one game only had 500 fans. The entire upper deck is closed off with the exception of the one section directly behind the plate.

It also has more foul territory than every other stadium which loses some of the intensity from when the fans are on top of the players.  Despite theit small number, the A’s fans are very loud and really get into the music played over the PA. 

The A’s do have a mascot, an elephant named Stomper, but after waving to the crowd before the game, he was invisible the rest of the night.  It was pretty darn cold so maybe he was hibernating. Considering it was 107 degrees when we left Los Angeles, it was amazing how chilly it was in Oakland.

Well, now we are off to Seattle for the final game of our west coast journey. I wonder how many people at the Oakland game will be at the Seattle game tomorrow. I think it safe to say zero, besides us of course.

Melk man is sour

What an awesome stadium!  There is a giant baseball glove in left field

as well as a huge coke bottle which has a slide inside.

The slide was 75 feet high and was fun. In right field, There are arches from which the  boats and people can catch home run balls in McCovey Cove.

There is also a mini ballpark

and a cable car in the stadium.

The initial pitchers are two of my favorite pitchers, Stephen Strasburg and Tim Lincecum.

Strasburg has been doing realy awesome but the big news is that the Nationals want to shut him down for the season after just a couple more starts. I know he had surgery last year and they are trying to play it safe with him but this is crazy! I mean, the Nats are in first place for the first time ever and they want to shut down their best player? And he wouldn’t play in the playoffs either?  Insane! I know it isn’t a fair comparison but I’m sure that I throw over 100 pitches a day in my backyard and my arm isn’t even sore. And he can’t throw 100 pitches every fifth day without risking injury?  Seems nutty. Anyway, as for the game, the Nats got to Lincecum early with two runs in the first inning

and then a two run home run by Espinoza in the third inning and cruised to a 6-4 victory.

It’s sad to me to see Lincecum do so bad this year after he has been unhittable for as long as I have been followng baseball. He now has a 5-13 record. How does that happen? My Dad says that he must be pitching hurt so at least that would explain it. How else do you lose your talent like that?

The game got exciting towards the end

as Adam Laroche dropped an easy popup to first base and Buster Posey came up with a chance to tie the game with a homer, but he struck out. The game was overshadowed by bigger news that day; the Giants’ star hitter and one of my favorite players, Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games for taking steroids. Not you too Melky!  My heart sank when I heard the news in the first inning. He wasnt a power hitter so why did he do it. Why does anybody do it? It’s cheating plus it ruins your body. I will never understand it.

Willie Mays never used steroids!

Rally Monkey Has No Bite Against Indians

 

ImageIt was 2002 when the Angels last won the World Series.   Because I was only a one year old, I missed out on the Rally Monkey.  I got to see a lot of the Monkey first hand in the Angels game that I went to as they trailed the lowly Indians the entire game.  Since the Indians had lost 11 in a row a couple of weeks back, and just lost 14-1 to Boston yesterday, I thought for sure the Angels would win with C.J. Wilson pitching. 

The Rally Monkey is blasted on the video board almost every batter when the Angels are threatening to come back from a deficit.  They put him in videos, show him jumping up and down, and the fans shake their stuffed Rally Monkeys.  Angels Stadium goes absolutely crazy!  It is mostly cool though, I must admit, a bit creepy after awhile.  It seemed to work in the 8th inning, when the great Albert Pujols hit a two-run bomb to get the Angels to within 3-2 – but the Angels’ rally fizzled out after that.   The fizzling rally was a theme throughout the game as the Angels kept getting runners on base, but couldn’t score as they stranded numerous runners on base. 

The Indians jumped out to a 2-0 lead when Howie Kendrick booted an easy ground ball to start the inning.  I guess even Major Leaguers boot an easy ground ball now and then.  The Angels seemed to come right back when they had two on and none out, but then hit into the first of three double plays.  The first base umpire made one of the worst calls I’ve ever seen calling the Angel runner out.  The Angels manager Mike Sciosia argued for a long time and I thought that he was going to get thrown out of the game. 

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The Stadium itself is very cool.  After Pujols hit his home run, they had huge fireworks go off in centerfield. 

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There are huge rocks in center with a big waterfall just beyond the fence.  The old scoreboard is a 230-foot tower in the shape of an “A” that was moved to the parking lot because of earthquake concerns.

5 Days and Counting!

On Monday we start our West Coast baseball tour!

First stop: Anaheim to see the Indians play the Angels.

Then we head north to San Francisco to AT&T Park to watch the first place Washington Nationals vs the Giants, followed by a game the next day at The Oakland Coliseum.

Later in the week, we will go to Seattle for a Mariners’ game at Safeco Field.

I hope that you will check out my blog next week to get the latest updates on my baseball adventures.

Please share any “must see” sites or your favorite restaurants in LA, San Francisco or Seattle.

Cory

The Jays sing the Blues

ImageImageRogers Centre is very close to the CN Tower in the center of Toronto.  During the game I had the opportunity to both “high five” the Jay and then I was on the jumbotron!  We had great seats in the front row right by the ball boy.

To the disappointment of the home crowd, the Jays lost to Kansas City Royals, 8-6Image.  Hochevar was the winning pitcher vs Henderson Alvarez. J.P. Arencibia got two home runs!

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Go, Cubs, Go!

Greetings from Chicago!

The Cubs stadium (Wrigley Field) is really cool and interesting with ivy on the walls and the old-fashioned scoreboard in center field. The Cubs first played in Wrigley Field in 1916.

The design of the ballpark is very different from all the other stadiums that we have visited so far. There are many more seats at the field level and there are bleachers on top of several buildings across the street from Wrigley Field. Each section of the ballpark has its own TV like on an airplane.

Unlike the White Sox game, the Cubs fans were very energetic, even the Reds fans that were there were energetic, too. At least a third of the fans were Reds fans.

The game was very close as the Cubs won it 4-3. The Cubs hit a 2 run home run in the first

and in the third, they got a solo home run.

The Reds also hit a solo home run.

Did you know that the game we attended was the second largest attendance at Wrigley Field for the year?

It is amazing how the prices vary from ballpark to ballpark. For example, at Wrigley Field the parking was $30 and a pretzel was $3.25. In other stadiums, a pretzel would be $4.75 and the parking would be $10 to $20.

Since the Cubs won we got to sing the Go, Cubs, Go! song!

Next stop:  Pittsburgh