Monday, August 27, 2007

Baby's First Game

Today, I was scheduled to bring my oldest sons to the game, and Mike had the other ticket. He was out of town and we didn't find out until a few hours before game time. So Mrs. Scott grabbed her stuff and our 8 week old boy and we decided to buy a single ticket to get her in the game, then sit in our friend's empty seat. Well, some guy was giving away free bleacher tickets, probably from group sales that fell a few people short, and we went in.

Guest Services will give you a certificate of baby's first game. We did that after the game. Sundays also feature kids under 14 getting to run the bases right after the game. One kid got trampled, and I stopped to see if he was okay, and it turned out to be somebody from our church that we spotted earlier in the game.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

When No Fans Show Up

The Giants just played one of those weird four game weekend series with the last game on Monday. The Marlins scheduled the game as a day game. Monday is the worst attendance day, and a day game on Monday is the worst possible. It was also the first day of school in Miami, and it was extremely hot. I listened on the radio, while Mrs. Scott watched on TV. We talked on the phone, and she was very surprised to see so few fans there. The official attendance (okay, MLB, you really mean tickets sold) was 10,000. But there were a majority of no-shows, and just a few thousand in a huge football stadium looks even smaller.

Mrs. Scott didn't become a baseball fan until the early 90's, which is after baseball's revival here in the Bay Area. She doesn't recall the days of 3000 fans per game (or less) when both the Giants and A's sucked. She asked about what the players thought of so few fans, and many other curiosities.

As I explained to her, the joys of small crowds are merely a memory to me. Those were my favorite games of all. I went on to recount to her the many blessings. There is no parking problem, no lines for food or restrooms. You're guaranteed a great seat. Each fan has personal vendors. And with no crowd, there's no noise. So when you yell, everybody in the ballpark hears you. The chances of getting a foul ball increase greatly (as do the chances of getting a fair ball). Foul balls down the line are great entertainment, because nobody is sitting within ten sections. Kids stream through the seats to retrieve the ball. But because the ball rolls between the rows, it's like looking for a needle in a haystack. Finally, about ten minutes later, somebody finds it and holds it up high. Everybody gives a standing ovation. And at last, there's no traffic when you leave.

Take for example, I told her, the game with the smallest crowd that I ever attended. A's vs. Texas, September, 1986. I counted the attendance myself in less than an inning (1603). The fan in the upper deck left in the second inning. I don't think he went home, he just found a better seat downstairs. Sitting in the bleachers, I got to heckle the left fielder the entire game instead of only when he was in the field. Nobody was there so he could easily hear me from the dugout, so I yelled at him from across the stadium and reminded him that he could hear me. When I finished my first beer, my favorite beer vendor, named Tommy, was on the other side of the stadium, behind the first base dugout. No problem. I just yelled, "Heeeeey, Tooooommmy, I wannanother beeeeeer!" He looked up across the stadium at me and waved. He walked all the way around the stadium to sell me a beer. It's not like there was anybody else to sell to, so it was a good sale. Then, we talked for a few innings because it wasn't like there was anybody else there that wanted a beer. Three home runs were hit that day. And since there wasn't anybody else there, as school was back in and it was a day game, there were no other kids with gloves. Heck, there were only 33 people in all the huge bleachers that day. So I got to take all three home run balls home with me as souvenirs. That might have been my favorite game ever.

Some people just don't know what they missed from back in the day.

Benitez Caught Playing With Matches

I saw on the sports news tonight that Armando Benitez was lit up in the 8th inning for a blown save. As traumatic as his performance was as a Giant, he is even worse (if you can possibly believe that!) as a Marlin. Brian Sabean pulled off the greatest trade in baseball history.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Giants Are Bad - But Not Little League Bad

All this week, the Giants have been in a virtual tie with the Pirates for worst record in the league. Only Tampa Bay has a worse record. This has been a truly awful season for the Giants, with an exception of one area. They've been bad, but not Little League bad.

I've experienced Bay Area baseball since 1970, and have endured some really bad Giants and A's teams. The late 70's A's and mid 80's Giants were especially horrid. And there's something that all really bad teams usually have in common that isn't present this year. This year's team lacks the mindless, brain failure level of play. Sure, forget gasoline, the bullpen is rocket fuel to the fire. The lineup is anemic. They don't score for Matt Cain.

But they don't end up in a double play because three runners find themselves on the same base and two of them are tagged out. Runners aren't passing each other on the base paths or running the wrong way. The other team's bunt to move the runners over hasn't turned into a little league home run because there were three throwing errors on the same play, two by the same player. Wild pitches aren't scoring runners from first base with the batter reaching third because it was ball four. Three players aren't colliding trying to catch the ball with extra bases taken because there are no infielders left to cover the bases. Armando Benitez did have a few reality checks, but he's gone now. We're simply stuck with veterans who can no longer play.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

757, 758 - More?

Barry Bonds said that the home run chase was tough on his ability to hit home runs and now that the record is broken, he would be able to hit them more often. So far, that has been the case. Will he hit many more now? If he does, it should help the Giants, but they need far more help if they are to win consistently. Being 13 games out in August has been overcome in several historic pennant races in history, but the Giants have to pass four teams in front of them. Don't hold your breath. If they win it, it will no doubt be the greatest comeback ever.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

756! Congratulations Barry Bonds

Congratulations to the new home run king. We weren't there tonight, unfortunately, as I took our little ones there last night in hopes of seeing history. Hank Aaron's speech was as fitting as it could be. The pitcher was great in his press conference. And baseball has a great career to look back upon. The memories will last forever.

Cast and Crew: Nora

Nora is Mrs. Scott's best friend, and has been attending games with us since PacBell Park opened, and with Mrs. Scott since the early 90's. She buys into our season tickets with us, and is frequently at a game with us along with Mike. She is known for always having a beer, and good taste in beer at that. She used to work for the Giants and still knows many concessionaires and other employees there.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Cast and Crew - All The Links

Here's a list of links to every member of my baseball life cast and crew. I will continue to add links as I add new people. I'll be placing this in the margin for easy access in case you want the bio on a character. See a further explanation of Cast and Crew here. To see all the Cast and Crew posts together on one page, click here.

Alan and Halle ; Bert ; Centerfield Bums ; Clara ; Coliseum Security Guards ; Dan's Family ; David ; Drunk Buddy Ed ; John ; Ken ; Kevin ; Kurt ; Louie ; Mac ; Margaret ; Mike ; Mrs. Scott ; New York Mike ; Nora ; Other characters ; Patty ; Young Mike ; Young New York Mike ;

Monday, August 6, 2007

Why I'm Not Convinced That Bonds' Record Is Tainted Or That Steroid Use Is Cheating

A friend recently asked me why I didn't think Barry Bonds' home run record is "tainted." Here are some brief points. Also, I'll add a second set of brief points as to why I don't think his steroid use is "cheating" in the traditional sense of the word.
  • The steroids Bonds allegedly took were not banned by baseball during the time he took them. It seems odd that people would retroactively apply the current ban to Bonds and others.
  • There is an arbitrary standard as to which performance enhancing steroids are banned. Curt Schilling had radical surgery and received non-banned performance enhancing steroids prior to his famous "bloody sock" game, which led to the Red Sox' championship.
  • Americans are biased toward hitting and offense, especially home runs. Last time I saw a list of players busted for testing positive, there were more pitchers than hitters. Over whom did Bonds have an unfair advantage? All the pitchers who were just as "juiced" as he was?
  • Sosa and McGwire were both purported steroids users in their home run chase. But Bonds' rival for his record-breaking season, Luis Gonzales, vehemently denies using them, complete with character witnesses. How did a journeyman like him hit so many?
  • I'm way too familiar with statistical fluctuations throughout baseball history - and the reasons for them (such as ballpark dimensions, baseball strategy fads, philosophy, weather, strike zone enforcement, rule changes, etc.) to believe that the offensive surge during the mid 90's to early 00's was caused by steroids. Again, why do people believe that steroids helped hitters and not pitchers?
  • Baseball history (as well as life) is full of performance enhancing substances. Medicine, nutritional supplements, dietary aids, protein powders, etc. Heck, we've been told for fifty years that a bowl of Wheaties is a performance enhancing substance. Popeye's spinach?
  • Bonds' steroids were illegal? The US government and its legal system is usually the last place I look for guidance in morality and ethics.

And as for steroids as "cheating":
  • The arbitrary standard for performance enhancing substances, as listed above.
  • Traditionally, "cheating" is a term applied to situations when personal performance is NOT enhanced. Using a cheat sheet in taking an exam, for example, is NOT an enhancement in personal performance. The test taker doesn't know the answers. It is a mere illusion to performance. Using a corked bat in baseball is NOT an enhancement in personal performance, it is an enhancement in the performance of the equipment. Cutting in front of a base when the umpire is not looking to get to the next base quicker is not an enhancement of personal performance. Applying a foreign substance to the pitched ball is not an enhancement of personal performance, but it is, again, an enhancement of the performance of the equipment. But steroids are not some magical pill, either. Benefits are only gained through hard work and exercise, which are part of being an athlete. The actual performance of the players themselves has been enhanced.

Maybe I'll post some additional thoughts some time soon.

755 and 756

Bonds tied the all time HR record, and most of the crowd in San Diego was on board with acknowledging his accomplishment. I saw more than a few Padres jerseys in the crowd jump up out of their seats with arms high at the swing of his bat. Only a small percentage of the crowd seemed to boo.

We've got tickets for Monday night at home against Washington. Will Barry do it?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Fashionably LAte

Los Gigantes faced Los Dogjers tonight in what coulda been Barry's 755 night. As usual, LA fans are late. When Bonds took his first at bat, only about 10,000 of the "sold out" crowd were in their seats. The rest of them were still on the freeway - until the fifth inning.

Now, I'm often late to a game, but that usually means that I'm in the park before the first pitch - and get to see it - and get my food and beer before sitting down in the bottom of the first. I rarely catch the national anthem, which is good because the poor slob usually butchers it. But when tens of thousands of fans show up in the fifth inning, that's late.