Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Auld Lang Syne

It's that time of the year* when media outlets of all forms and sizes publish their year in review stories. Here is a new take on the seasonal regurgitation ... the blog posts I never wrote!

What Now? Chow-Chow!

Continuing to tidy up my apartment, I made a new discovery: a jar of chow-chow from Aplin farms, bought at a Birmingham farmers market on our 2007 trip there. I must have been saving it for a special occasion.

How now brown chow? The photo makes the relish look darker than it is, but I am sure it is more brown than when I bought it six-and-a-half years ago. The lid is on tight and isn't distended ... what do you think readers? Should I give it a try?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Lost and Found

While tidying up my apartment, a task I have undertaken to forestall losing my current romantic interest, I have come across a considerable amount of forgotten ephemera from various trips along the baseball byways.

I avoided looking too closely at most of it, a potential distraction from my chore. However, a handful of items did catch my eye. An eight-by-ten glossy photograph of the 24 (as of 2012?) astronauts from Ohio? What did I think I was going to do with that? It's gone now, just like John H. Glenn, Jr. (first row, third from right).

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Keep It Simple

A perfectly conventional view of the action at the Kane County Cougars,
on the last day of the 2013 season
When we started this deathmarch (no, I love it, I do!), we were really enamored with the idea that you could see so many minor-league teams in relatively short order, given how compact the clusters of teams are in some places. The holy grail was to somehow see two games in different cities on the same day—a matinee in one place and a night game in the next. So, naturally, we soon embarked on huge trips to far-flung locations, such as all the teams in Texas, the cross-country odyssey of 2009, and the Lightning Field wanderjahr.

In 2014, we're getting back to basics. There will be some adjustments, no doubt, but here's what we're contemplating right now—a lot of short drives, and a lot of two-city doubleheaders.

April 13–21

  • Gwinnett County Braves / Atlanta Braves
  • Rome Braves
  • Augusta Green Jackets
  • Hickory Crawdads / Charlotte Knights
  • Myrtle Beach Pelicans / Charleston RiverDogs
  • Savannah Sand Gnats
  • Jacksonville Suns
  • Daytona Cubs

July 1213–16, 20–23

  • Wilmington Blue Rocks
  • Frederick Keys / Baltimore Orioles / Aberdeen Ironbirds
  • Bowie BaySox / Frederick Keys Aberdeen Ironbirds
  • Hagerstown Suns
  • Eastern League All-Star Game (Altoona)
  • Reading Fightin' Phils / Wilmington Blue Rocks
  • Philadelphia Phillies

If you can believe it, we've seen roughly two thirds of all the minor-league teams now, and the first trip will knock off a number more. (Rob has seen all the teams on the second trip, but he's kindly allowing me to catch up.)

Onward, Byways soldiers!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Bar One

View from Section 415, Row 1, at Wrigley on Sunday, Carlos Villanueva on the mound
Unlike the previous one, this wasn't a big post. If I sat up, I could see over this. But what was five-foot-two Watson to do? Still, hat tip to possible former basset hound Dan Cramer for the seats.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Someone, Somewhere

I was on the road again for my birthday, although not with Melvin this year. By email I received the following photograph by my friend Heather.

What a wonderful birthday greeting for a baseball fan. And, being perverse, I love it all the more because the text on the state historic marker is untrue.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Following our recent thoughts on baseball and trains, I should note that I very recently had the occasion to observe the Joliet Slammers stadium from inside an Amtrak car. The Slammers aren't affiliated, but hey, going there by train probably beats driving. More provocative still, if you take the commuter rail, corruption and all, the same line stops by the White Sox stadium. I smell a doubleheader some day. Whoo-whoo!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Washed Out (but Nicely Framed)

An all-too-common sight on our recent trip (Evansille, Ind.)
We had a densely packed, wet trip to Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana with Rob and Norton. We'd planned for games in Louisville, Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, and Evansville. To make a soggy story short, we didn't see all of them. Herewith some brief photographic highlights:

Sure, it's just a LEGO Brand model, but the quality of play can't be any worse than in real thing, can it? (Louisville Slugger Museum, Louisville, Kentucky)
But who? Who? (Hartman Rock Garden, Springfield, Ohio)
Lightning Field x Monsanto = Concrete Corn Weenie, really, really (Dublin, Ohio)
Sky Giraffe wonders if anyone is out there (Traders World, Lebanon, Ohio)
Corn x UFO = If you build it, they will come... and probe you. Sky Giraffe, beware of what you wish for (Carlisle, Ohio)

Resistance is useless, unless it is within a very old TV, in which case the damn thing won't work without it
(Early Television Museum, Hilliard, Ohio)

Batters up! (Evansville, Indiana, before the rain came)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pitchers Like That Are the Only Pitchers Here

I don't have a good "pitcher" of Jeff Francis, but I do have this view of a cemetery in Oklahoma, the state where we saw him dominate the El Paso Diablos in 2004. I'm fairly sure that this is not where all former Tulsa pitchers wind up.
News reached Byways HQ yesterday that nine years and one week to the day that we saw Jeff Francis terrorize the El Paso Diablos in one of his Double-A starts, the man has been let go in favor of what is almost certainly the Last Coming of Roy Oswalt.

To which I have to say, as a tear wells up in my.... wait, ROY OSWALT? Give me a goddamn break.

Monday, June 10, 2013

You Can Put It on the Board

Crotch-cam view of the Comerica advertising-conveying device
Meet the Detroit scoreboard, same as the Cleveland scoreboard. And Cincinnati's. And the White Sox's. And so on. When's it going to end?

Friday, May 31, 2013

Post-Game Show

The Mets are still not a good team* but even the most soured fan had to enjoy the four-game, home-and-away sweep of the Yankees this week.  Beyond the pleasure derived from the outcome, I was also amused by Yankee fans' post-game comments.  There was a remarkable uniformity, as if a new memo was distributed on a daily basis.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

All Aboard!

A transit theme?  I can get on board with that!

Dontrelle Willis, the 2003 National League rookie of the year, is nicknamed "The D-Train," a subway line in New York City.  After nine major league seasons, Willis signed with the Long Island Ducks this spring and a friend and I hope to see him in Islip.  He pitched the Ducks' home opener and has gone 2-1 in five starts, with a 3.71 ERA.

The G train, by contrast, is not named for Mets right-hander Dillon Gee. Nor was Gee on the mound when Byways follower T-Bone saw the Mets lose to the Reds on Monday, May 20.  Pitching that night was Shaun Marcum, earning his fifth loss in as many starts (6.59 ERA, 1.57 WHIP).  Jay Bruce took Marcum deep to lead off the sixth, ultimately the winning run in the game.

Many Brooklyn residents are happy the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) extended G train service to Church Avenue.  T-Bone is among them but on May 20th she would have been better off finding another way home.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Give It to a Kid

Here's the nephew on the Wrigley Field tour, a few hours before the blessed events described below.
They haven't said good things about Greg Dobbs over the years. "Limited," "minimal," "failure," and "collapse" are words you often see used in descriptions of his performance and tenure in the Major Leagues. Now in his tenth season, Dobbs has appeared in only about 855 games over time with the Mariners, Phillies, and Marlins—making him on average a half-time player. But Dobbs—who today, to the surprise of many, is the regular first baseman for the Miami Marlins—now has a major fan in Lima, Ohio, and he's OK in my book, too.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Red Green Show

Continuing the theme of transit and baseball, we see here some Chicago Transit Authority workers changing the signs at the Harrison station on Thursday afternoon. The sign on the left that says "Ashland/63rd" is new, replacing one that said "95th."

Who cares? White Sox fans, that's who. Until sometime in October—and, let's face it, there will be no baseball on the South Side this October—the Red Line station at 35th Street will be closed (along with every other station south of Roosevelt). Red Line trains will stop a few blocks to the east, at what is normally the Green Line station at 35th and State, but it's less convenient and the platforms are notably narrower. Then again, to judge from the desperate weekly emails I get from the Sox, it doesn't seem like much of anyone is going down that way anyway this year.

On a side note, why is the Sox stop called "Sox/35th" but the Cubs stop just called "Addison"? Does everyone already know where Wrigley is? To judge from the hordes of nervously laughing suburbanites and uncomfortable tourists on northbound Red Line trains around game times, I'd wager not.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Number Two" Gets Number One

Some prospects we remember; most we forget.  Melvin and I remember Corban Joseph because of the endless heckling he took at the April 8, 2011 game between the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and his visiting Trenton Thunder.

"Number Two! Number Twooo! Num-ber Twoo-oo!," brayed the ass in the suite above us at frigid Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, in Manchester.  "Nice cut!  Looking real good there, Number Two."  From the time he entered the on-deck circle until the end of each at-bat, Joseph withstood non-stop verbal abuse.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Stones in My Transitway

Meet me in center field, I'm a little boulder there.
Photo: Scott Gleine, Could You Be More Pacific

It is not that I ever thought that there was some underlying natural order to Angel Stadium. It is, after all, in Los Angeles Anaheim, home to the most influential assemblage of faux environments ever constructed. Nevertheless, having watched only a handful of Angels games in my life, I did have the idea that the giant rocks beyond center field there were somehow rooted in the experience of the place—that there were, say, more such rocks outside the stadium, or that the stadium sat more or less in an at least somewhat landscaped environment, as does Dodger Stadium, with its sculpted terraces.

Sadly, this illusion, too, has now been shattered. I took the train from San Diego to Los Angeles last week, and from the stop at Anaheim, its now clear to me that those rocks probably are fiberglass, and that any grass, trees, or water in the vicinity are there purely by accident or inattention. I now don't know why I thought otherwise.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Concrete Reveries

O.co Coliseum, with "Mount Davis" dominating the background;
for a sense of what this looked like in happier times, see here.
As Rob mentioned recently, I have a new job. This job involves a lot of work with historians. This is my excuse for why I have taken more than a week to write up my visit to the April 12 A's / Tigers game in Oakland. What is the import of a more than week-old baseball game? As Zhou Enlai may have said of the significance of the French Revolution, "It is too soon to tell."

It seemed only appropriate to visit a relic of the 1960s and the era of cement domes in the same week that the concrete-crazy architect of Arcosanti transcended the bounds of mere flesh. And indeed, I learned of Paolo Soleri's death via an email from Watson while at the mysteriously named O.co Coliseum. It turns out that O.co does not stand, somewhat redundantly, for "Oakland Coliseum," as I had thought but to Overstock.com. The irony of this aging stadium—the last one still in use from the multipurpose era?—having that name I'm sure has been addressed elsewhere.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Along the Ohio

The 2013 Season Preview

Melvin started a new job last week, which is a good thing.  Please join me in sending him your congratulations.  However, he starts the job with an annual leave balance of 0:00 and a restriction against taking time off during his first three months.

Working within these limitations, Melvin devised a mid-season itinerary that will have us see five games in four days, but for him only two days vacation.  It is a trip we discuss every winter, a trip I always think of as "Along the Ohio" in tribute to the series of photographs of that name by Andrew Borowiec.

Jeffersonville, Indiana, towards Louisville, Kentucky

In contrast with Melvin, I have too much vacation.  In fact, starting this year I will "earn" ten percent more.  It takes a fair amount of planning for me to use all of my annual leave and to do so, I will be taking a couple baseball trips independent of Melvin.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Nine, Net of 500 Ballparks

I am hard to buy gifts for.  I am not much of a materialist and if I don't love a thing, I won't have much enthusiasm for it.  I read a lot and nothing has brought me as much post-divorce happiness as Melvin's and my baseball road trips.  People know this.  It's a conservative approach, but a book about baseball can seem like a good idea.

My mother gave me for Christmas, among other gifts, 500 Ballparks: From Wooden Seats to Retro Classics (San Diego: Thunder Bay Press, 2011).  Eric Pastore, the author, expresses gratitude in the acknowledgements to people who seemingly played various editorial roles and yet, I have to wonder after reading the other almost 400 pages, did anyone edit this book?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Are you... Tony Campana?

I spotted this license plate in my neighborhood recently. Seeing as said neighborhood is immediately west of Wrigleyville, one might be forgiven for thinking that the vowel-deprived message here is "I, the driver or owner of this automobile, am a diehard partisan of the northside professional baseball team, and I would like you to know it." It could arguably even mean, "I really like Harry Caray's beer commercials."

But then I realized it was a cry for help. A plea for attention. A desperate act by a person relegated to the margins of sports history. For this license plate does not say, I[']M A CUB[S] FAN but rather the much more plaintive, I'M A CUBS FOOTNOTE.

But who can it be?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Uncompensated Endorsement

L-R: The 2007, 2010 and 2005 editions
of the Baseball Travel Map

Hedberg Map's Baseball Travel Map is an indispensable tool for planning baseball road trips, or finding baseball when traveling for other reasons.  Sure, Minor League Baseball has a Google Map on its website, but it's not remotely the same.

Speaking practically, the Google Map is too small to allow a viewer to scan the breadth of the country, from the San Francisco Giants to the Portland (Maine) Sea Dogs.  (Not to mention, who wants to balance a laptop on their knees while they're on the crapper.)

Less practically, the online map lacks magic.  When I unfold the five panels of the Baseball Travel Map, I see the trips Melvin and I have taken in the past, and I project us into the future, imagining the trips we might take.

So, I was understandably saddened when I learned Hedberg does not plan to publish a 2013 edition of the map, justifiably billed as "Essential information for the roving fan."