Friday, May 8, 2015

SoCal Tasting Notes

The third day of our recent trip began and ended at the Ballast Point tasting room in Little Italy. There were of course other activities that Thursday, not incidentally the home opener of the San Diego Padres ... but let's talk beer.

Not this kind of flight...

A couple disclaimers: We made no attempt to be exhaustive. Green Flash and AleSmith are about five miles apart, 20 miles from downtown San Diego. Didn't go there, never even discussed it. (If Mikkeller Borg Bjergsø was operating in AleSmith's old space, that might have changed everything.)

Secondly, there is a reason the term is, "tasting notes." "Tasting recollection" cannot carry as much authority but there is no turning back the clock, notebook in hand.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Fan's Guide to the Tijuana Toros



On the second day of our April baseball road-trip, Melvin, Chris and I went south of the border to see los Toros de Tijuana, uno de los 16 equipos en la Liga Mexicana de Béisbol. We had some sense of what to expect and easily improvised the rest. So others might improvise even less, I compiled an anecdotal and incomplete guide to seeing the team.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Cold in April, Again

Readers of the 2015 season preview know our April itinerary was a response to several recent trips afflicted by rain. Southern California was a safe bet, we thought, and that was the case for all of our visit except the first night, when we walked to Dodger Stadium.

On Stadium Way, west of Lot 13.

It was the height of stupidity, particularly in my case. We had checked the Doppler radar map and knew the storm was intensifying. We had a car and prepaid parking. There was a television in our motel room and we could have tuned into the game to learn if it would be delayed.

Yet, when it came time to leave for the ballpark, we decided to walk. The rain was light and we agreed, traveling by foot would be more interesting. Halfway there, however, it started to pour. Chris had a raincoat and he lent Melvin his umbrella.

My jacket is rain resistant, but no match for the weather we encountered. Soaked to the skin, I was shaking uncontrollably by the third inning. The air temperature was higher than when Melvin and I saw the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and Boston Red Sox in 2011, but I was even colder than I was that April.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Turn, Turn, Turn


In the most depressing movie ever made, It's a Wonderful Life (1946), the town slattern one night asks the tragically upstanding hero/Dupe of the Entire Universe George Bailey, "Don't you ever get tired of just reading about things, Georgie?" I won't bother with what exactly he says—it involves nocturnal mountain climbing and a green pool—but the import of it is yes, yes, dagnabit, he does get tired of just reading about things and there are things he'd like to... like to... well, like to do! Such as wade in a presumably algae-clotted pool in the middle of the night--not that you could see it was green then, mind you.

Me, I'm usually pretty happy reading. (There are some ways in which I am probably more like George Bailey, though my best friend isn't The Devil. Usually.)

Every time this guy shows up, things go to hell for George.
I do a lot of reading for my day job, but overall I don't do as much of it as I would like. Which is why it was a pleasant surprise to realize how many baseball books I managed to plow through this off-season. (The Cubs/Cardinals opener doesn't start for another two-plus hours as I type this, so it's still the off-season.)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Coda


Today is the birthday of the woman referred herein as "gal-pal Sarah." She figured prominently in a couple posts last year. Before heading off to someone else's birthday dinner, I thought I would mention that readers probably won't find other references to Sarah in the future—she picked a fight during Game 7 of the 2015 World Series and broke up with me eight days later.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Melvin Grants Me Three Wishes

The 2015 Season Preview


Image by DoloresMinette used through Creative Commons license.

Two weeks from today, Melvin and I will begin the first of three trips planned for the 2015 season. Each itinerary responds to a comment I made. I have written before about Melvin's generosity and here is yet another example.

Our last three trips were beset by rain: the July 2013 sojourn to Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana and then through the South and Mid-Atlantic last year. I said to Melvin, sincerely in despair, "I don't think I can do this anymore." "Next year," he promised me, "we will go someplace where it won't rain."

Secondly, I remarked that I didn't want to leave the Montana ball clubs for last, after we had seen every other team. I also pointed out this may well be the final season for professional ball at Historic Grayson Stadium, in Savannah.

Three preferences expressed, three wishes granted. We are heading to sunny Southern California in April, Savannah and North Carolina in July, and Montana, Spokane and the Tri-City Dust Devils in August.

Chris, who joined us for a game-and-a-half in Maryland last year—did I mention rain?—will accompany us for part of the SoCal trip. David Bragdon will make most of the July games, and Watson will come to Montana.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Hidee hidee hidee hi

The funeral for Minnie Miñoso—also known as Mr. White Sox and the Cuban Comet—was held today at Holy Family Church in Chicago. Born Saturnino Orestes Armas (Arrieta) Miñoso, he died on Sunday at the age of 90, or 89, or however old he was.


Miñoso was the ninth player to break baseball's color barrier and the first African-American to play for the White Sox. A five-tool player and nine-time all star, he deserved to be elected to the Hall of Fame but was passed over in an era when Negro League accomplishments were not a factor in the voting.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Eulogy for McCoy

And its not even dead yet.


Melvin emailed yesterday with a link to an essay in the New York Times reporting
"a group of high-powered investors announced their purchase of the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Class AAA franchise of the Boston Red Sox, as well as their plans to build a shiny bauble of a stadium for the International League team in downtown Providence, the capital city just south of Pawtucket — but not Pawtucket."
The author, Dan Barry, also wrote Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game.


I am charmed by McCoy Stadium, having visited three times; in 2005 with Melvin, on my own in 2012, and with Kevin a couple years ago. McCoy was included hypothetically when what became Baseball Byways was just a concept.

The real or perceived need for state of the art ballparks is how minor league baseball operates now. PawSox fans will go through some variation of the five stages of grief. However, rather than ending with decathexis, the withdrawal of emotional investment, the process here will end with nostalgia.

Often the local fan base will abandon a team when it announces it is going to move. I doubt that will be the case here. The team isn't going that far and the "Red Sox Nation" is as loyal as they come. I bet McCoy draws record crowds in its final years. I hope to be among them.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

One Week

Friday the 13th
Valentine's Day
"Obamacare" enrollment deadline
Presidents Day
Fat Tuesday
Ash Wednesday
Lunar New Year or, if you prefer, pitchers and catchers report for spring training!


Or, more precisely, the Giants, Phillies, Pirates and Reds have scheduled their first work-outs for next Thursday. "Thirteen other clubs will work out pitchers and catchers for the first time the following day," according to MLB.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Traded for Nine Paragraphs

The New York Times published yesterday an obituary of Charlie Williams, "a pitcher best known as the trade bait the Mets used to land Willie Mays in the twilight of his career...." Two-thirds of the nine paragraph obit is related in one way or another to the May 1972 trade.

Even the summation of Williams' career—23-22 in 268 games, 31 with the Mets—is preceded by the statistics for the Giants Hall of Famer. It must be strange to be remembered for something that was entirely outside of your control, although all reports indicate Williams wore it well.

Image: Associated Press

The remaining three paragraphs provide Williams' place and cause of death, survivors, and place of birth. Williams was born in Flushing, but 17 years before the Mets moved to Shea Stadium.

Image: centerfieldmaz

According to Brian Joura at Mets360, Williams is the only player in team history to hail from the Queens neighborhood. Joura's obituary runs to 14 paragraphs, provides more detail about his career—including the minors—and generally treats the player with more humanity.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Late Light-Hitting Center Fielder from South Jamaica, Queens

Even I do not understand my obsession with New York State governors. But having written six posts about former New York State Governor David Paterson, I thought, "Why not one about Mario Cuomo?" (Just one, I promise.) The 52nd governor of New York State (1983-1994) died at his home yesterday, just hours after his son Andrew was sworn into his second term as governor.

In its lengthy, front page obituary of Mario Cuomo, the New York Times notes Cuomo played one season with the Brunswick (Ga.) Pirates of the Georgia-Florida League. With 254 plate appearances, Cuomo hit .244. His 10 doubles, two triples and one home run bumped his slugging percentage up to .311.

Albany Archives altered a card from a set issued by
 Upper Deck and broadcast it through its twitter feed.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Mysteries of Matt Kemp

One mystery is solved; Matt Kemp will be playing in San Diego next year. The Dodgers' outfield was crowded so they thinned the herd by trading "The Bison," eating $32 million in salary to do so.

Padres fans got an early Christmas gift last week from rookie GM A.J. Preller, who acquired two more outfielders in a 24-hour-period, Justin Upton from the Braves and Wil Myers from the Rays, and then went out and got A's catcher Derek Norris and Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks.


Still a mystery is the state of Kemp's health. The center fielder missed 150 games over the last three seasons. Kemp underwent a major shoulder operation in 2012 and had ankle surgery in 2013. He finished strong last year—leading the major leagues in slugging percentage after the All-Star Game—but a pre-trade physical reportedly found severe arthritis in both hips.

Most mysterious of all, however, is the question of who gave me a Matt Kemp figurine.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Bud Norris, Two Times

We saw right-hander Bud Norris twice this year, although only Melvin took note of the fact. We watched him in a mid-July minor league start during the MLB all-star break and more recently as the Orioles completed a three-game sweep of the Tigers.1

Bud Norris pitches to Ian Kinsler; bottom of the first, Game 3 of the 2014 ALDS.

The division series game was, as my trilingual brother would say for effect, the ray-ZHON-det-TREAHR for the short October trip. However, any visit with Melvin and Watson is a profound pleasure whether or not baseball is involved and we spent our time together well.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Major League Squash

I saw this pumpkin on Halloween, two days after the Kansas City Royals' disappointing loss in Game 7 of the World Series. I am sure there is some clever way to verbally connect this totem to the 2014 post-season, but I wasn't able to find it. In fact, these statements replace what was originally written here.

Addendum: The next day, I read a headline on mlb.com, "Here are the 10 best MLB player Halloween costumes of 2014."

I thought perhaps major league baseball was copying my idea of dressing up as a player. However, it was a selection of players in costume, several of which are pretty funny.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Meeting Chicks on Twitter

My job requires considerable outreach to the public and so, a decade into the 21st century, I attended a seminar on social media. One of the take-aways was, register your preferred Twitter name now, even if you don't intend to use it immediately. You don't want, we were told, to be like those companies that thought the Internet was a novelty and later discovered someone else had snatched up their domain name.

Do not follow us on Twitter, but don't hesitate to follow us on Baseball Byways. We've gone from one follower, to eight followers, to the current nine.

Following this advice, Melvin and I have had but not used @BaseballByways. Despite not composing a single tweet, we managed over the three years since to acquire five followers ... all of the female persuasion.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Third Time's a Charm, the Second Time Wasn't Too Shabby Either

Or, the 2014 New York-Penn and Eastern league all-star games in brief, with tasting notes, travelogue and sundry observations

Encouraged by Pharrell Williams to clap along if they felt "like a room without a roof", this Happy couple put their hands together at MCU Park, home to the 2014 NYPL all-star game and like most baseball stadiums, a room without a roof.

Despite my general antipathy towards all-star games, I completed a hat-trick begun in June by attending a match between the best players in the New York-Penn League. A month earlier, Melvin and I saw the Eastern League' game, which for reasons we never learned was called the all-star "stop." The High-A contest retained its claim to most enjoyable but all three games were pleasurable in their own right.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Byways, but Little Baseball

A birthday weekend in northwest Massachusetts was the most enjoyable trip I have taken in a while, even if it included only three scoreless innings of collegiate summer league baseball.

What the trip did have was contemporary classical music, predominantly post-minimalist, contemporary art, often large-scaled installations, tasty food and a short walk in the woods.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Nothing but Net

Sometimes sitting right by the net is awesome (Jacksonville, Florida).
As promised and as a kind of footnote, here are some thoughts on nets. Sitting close to the game is a good thing. Sitting behind home plate or at least in the area between the dugouts is also a good thing. We do it whenever possible. We've seen a lot of games from perspectives like the one above. But it is not an unmitigated pleasure. 

The South Will Rise Again

Outside Castle Otttis
Following on the Easter debacle, we wrapped up our latest southern itinerary in Jacksonville. It's faintly amazing to me that after three trips to the South, we have at least two more tours to go--one cleaning up all the teams in North Carolina we haven't yet seen, another returning to Birmingham and heading south to Pensacola and, next year (maybe), Biloxi. And oh yeah, the rest of the Appy League—make it three trips.

Rising Up, Rising Down

It is risen. Or possibly coming down.
What, Fourth of July weekend already? Happy birthday, 'Merica! What better way to celebrate than with a comically overdue post on our Easter adventure in Daytona Beach? But first, some backfilling.

When last Rob was describing our April tour through Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida, things were going swimmingly—which was appropriate, given the monsoons we negotiated—until Blogger disappeared a post that would have been epic. Now we have always been at war with Oceania, and we've covered only the games we saw in Rome and Augusta.

But the truth is that not all towns and not all games are equally worthy of coverage. And so, leaning heavily on photos so as to get on to the Easter tale, here's a pathetically quick survey of our time in Myrtle Beach, Charleston, and Savannah.