Saturday, April 30, 2011

In the Middle of Nowhere, Part One

It's almost a truism to say that the desert is surprisingly full of interesting things. But just because it's a truism doesn't mean it isn't true. Today was a day off from baseball, because Rob, Norton, and I had to put some serious mileage between us and Las Vegas in order to make it to Saturday's Diamondbacks / Cubs game. (Astute readers will note that, were it not for an endless bout of illness in early April, I might well have seen these teams play thrice, home and away; luckily, this will be the only time.)

Learning From Las Vegas

We walked out of Cashman Field, home of the Las Vegas 51s, 20 hours after I woke up in New York.  The Sacramento River Cats had tied up the game 8-8 in the top of the ninth and when the 51s didn’t score, we decided it was time to go.  “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," but we could not stay until the end of the game in Vegas.  It had been a long but very enjoyable day and Melvin and I—with my friend Norton along for the ride—were exhausted.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Time Keeps Ticking Wherever You Are

From the Museum of Toilet Seat Art, San Antonio

Beyond some more pictures, I can’t add much to Rob’s epic and wonderful post on our Texas trip of 2008, but it did provoke some thoughts about these trips in general—and let me just say that I’m writing this on the plane to Las Vegas for the start of a new one.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Texas 2008

We started taking these trips while Melvin was in graduate school.  This meant the earliest we could hit the road was mid-May, although June was more typical.  One lesson learned on our June 2004 trip to Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma was 95° was plenty warm enough.  An April trip to a part of the country that gets seriously hot became a possibility once Melvin finished his degrees.  In 2008 we set our sights on the two major league and five minor league teams in Texas.

We started with five one-sided games where the winners, usually the visiting team as it so happened, collectively scored five times as many runs as the losers.  The pattern changed in the last two matches, which were both won in the bottom of the tenth by the home team.  We visited the entire Southern Division of the Texas League so we saw a couple of teams, the Midland Rockhounds and the San Antonio Missions, multiple times.

We also saw a wide range of fine art, folk art, Americana and kitsch.  We dined well, mostly barbecue but not exclusively so.  There was way too much driving but that just reflects the size of Texas.  Neither of us regretted that the El Paso Diablos had relocated to Springfield, Missouri three years earlier.  I think the trip scheduled to begin in two days will be very similar but first, the recollection of Texas.

2400 Martin Luther King Boulevard East, Austin

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lake Effect

Don't tell me teams don't learn from experience. Last Wednesday's Cubs game ended in a loss, with Darwin Barney watching a third strike go by. Today's game also ended in a loss with Barney at the plate, but this time he grounded out to second. Clearly, this is a team on the move.

Today's exercise in frigid mediocrity was improved over last week's in other ways, though none of them really related to actions on the field. First, I was accompanied by Watson—at least until the wind got the better of her in the bottom of the fifth—and second we located the buffalo-style bison dog. Still no sign of the rumored kimchi dogs, but one thing at a time.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Both Sides Now (Bud Selig remix)

Readers of this blog know already of my unrequitable disdain for Bud Selig—and yet, who can escape him? Like a septic infection, the man is unignorable.

In recent days he has seized control of the Dodgers (and yet not the Mets) and bloviated about his apparently unstoppable plan to further dilute the meaning of the regular season, yet he's also hinted broadly that he's about to follow in the august footsteps of war criminal John Yoo and peeping tom Ken Starr by taking his act to a congenial law school.

Is the end of Bud Selig, or only the beginning? Somewhere in his knotted little prune of a heart does he feel that he hasn't done enough damage already and must strike again and again in the failing light? Or is this is last gasp of a exiting potentate? Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

Friday, April 22, 2011

"We May Not Be"

There has been no lack of material to write about the Mets.  There has been ownership's financial losses in a Ponzi scheme, the resultant offer to sell a minority interest in the team, revelations that Major League Baseball secretly loaned them millions of dollars last year, and bargain basement signings during the off-season.

Now that the season is underway, the Mets have the worst record in baseball and through 18 games, the third worst start in club history, surpassed only by the 1962 and 1964 seasons when the Mets lost 120 and 109 games respectively.  Someone who cared could explain this with player anecdotes or tell-tale statistics, but I don't care.

Many of the Mets fans I chat with also say they don't care.  One guy at work ends every conversation about the team by declaring he will not attend a single game this year.  His protestations make me think of the 1975 hit single by 10cc.
I swear it is not because I am an unrequited fan that I quote R.A. Dickey, the anatomical anomaly turned knuckle-baller who went 11-9, 2.84 last year after signing a minor league contract with the Mets.  After his loss on Wednesday (1-3, one no decision), Dickey told the media

"We have to find a way to be honest with ourselves about what kind of team we are.  We can't keep telling ourselves,
'Oh, we're a better team than this.'
We may not be."  That is sheer poetry.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

We Don't Need Another Hero

After two attempts to go to Wrigley during the Diamondbacks series in early April—foiled by sickness and sickness, respectively—and a rainout against the Padres on Tuesday, I finally made it there. The Tuesday game was made up on Wednesday evening, as the back half of a separate-ticket doubleheader, which meant when I got there 10 minutes before the first pitch that the stands were both lightly populated and filled with a game's worth of debris. Usually you get the pleasure of dropping your own peanut shells before crunching your way across someone else's. While the crowd did fill in to about one-third capacity by the third inning, at game time I thought maybe I had accidentally gone to a Mets game.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cold in April

Going to see baseball in April is a recent development for us and the destinations to date have been in the south; Texas in 2008 (more on that shortly) and last year Montgomery, Jackson, Miss., New Orleans and Mobile (Melvin, me).  We saw the Boston Red Sox last Monday and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats three days earlier.  It was cold at times in New England, and it wasn't just the air temperature.

ICA, with large mound of dirty snow in foreground