Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More Shameless Self-Promotion

More to come later, but for now I thought you should know that my tickets for this Saturday night's Padres/Dodgers game are up for sale on eBay.  I waited too long, and for whatever reason eBay doesn't allow a two-day auction (and three days is too long), so it's a quick one-day auction. I believe I set a fair price for the tickets, since the "Buy It Now" price is not much higher than the face value.  From what I saw when I searched on eBay, my tickets are the best deal out there. So, tell your friends.  I would really like to get these off my hands.

Click here for the auction.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Just A Quickie

Well, the Dodgers ended the Houston series on a high note Thursday, thanks to a strong pitching performance from Chad Billingsley, who became the first four-game winner in the majors.  Not a bad start to the season for the kid, who left with one out in the seventh after a "hit" (should have been called an error), and Broxton came in the game.  You have to wonder about Torre choosing to go to the big guy in that moment, with a two-run lead and five outs to go, and MSTI (another plug--I swear I'm not getting paid) has already analyzed the move.  We'll see what happens the next time the situation comes up, but it doesn't look like Torre has a lot of confidence in most of his bullpen at the moment.  Meanwhile, Broxton won't be available tonight in Colorado, but look for the Dodgers to win again on their way to another impressive streak.

The Sox had Thursday off, but in fewer than five hours, the Yankees series starts.  I don't know if I'll be anywhere that I can watch this tonight, but I'll be trying to keep up with it on my phone.  It makes me nervous, as these games always do, but I can handle it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Blame MSTI

After all, this post obviously completely jinxed the Dodgers before they set out on their road trip.  What else can explain the two consecutive losses in Houston?  Yes, MSTI was excited about the hitting at Minute Maid Park, and the Dodgers have managed to score five runs in each game (included three home runs in one inning in last night's loss), but that hasn't been enough to get the wins.  And against Russ Ortiz on Tuesday night, the Dodger should have scored about fifteen runs.  But they didn't.  And they lost.  So, nice going, guys.

Tonight they send Billingsley to the hill to try to stop the bleeding. They head to Colorado next, so getting a win in Houston is key since who knows what can happen in the thin air of Denver.  The good news is, the bats seem to be alive, so for the offense Colorado could be a good time.  Now the pitching needs to step up and not let a subpar teams get wins they shouldn't be getting. So let's start another win streak tonight, shall we?

The Red Sox are a different story, after picking up two wins on Wednesday in a doubleheader with the Twins.  Their win streak now stands at seven, with an off day today and then the first series with the Yankees (in Boston).  It's Lester, Beckett and Masterson vs. Chamberlain, Burnett and Pettitte.  I'm not going to give my predictions, because I'm always wrong.  But, the Sox have been hitting the ball well, so I like our chances.

In other news, I'm still struggling with panic over this whole "rabies" issue, even though I know I'm being insane.  But, you know, my arm hurts right near where the "bat bite" was, and as long as that's still true, it's hard for me to move on.  I'm sure one of you out there knows something about rabies and/or bat bites, so reassure me.  Please?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

In This Post You Will Find My Excuse for Not Writing More at the Beginning of This Damn Baseball Season

I have finally, finally begun to read Paper Lion, by George Plimpton.  Bruce Paine once called me a gonzo journalist, so I thought I might as well get some idea of how the best ones do what they do.  Two chapters in (I literally started it ten minutes ago), and I'm loving it.  I've had the book for several months now, ever since my fiancé bought a copy off eBay.  It doesn't say "first edition" in it, but I think that's exactly what it is.  The book was published in 1966, and when I finally opened it up for the first time last night, this is what I found:

"Merry Christmas 1966


We do not feel our gratitude can be adequately expressed with words or gifts but perhaps this book, recommended by Joe Garagiola, will give you some enjoyable moments, just as your talents in sports have given us many such moments.  We only hope we may be able to help someone in need some day as you have helped our family and we know you will be rewarded as in St. Matthew 25:40 if not in other ways too.


Jack and Arlene"

Well, this just plain fascinates me.  Who is Greg?  Who are Jack and Arlene?  When they say that Joe Garagiola recommended the book, do they mean personally, or did they just read some article in which Garagiola once talked about the book?  There is evidence to suggest that Greg is an athlete, and possibly a famous one, since he was able to help Jack and Arlene (financially?) and his "talents in sports" have given them "enjoyable moments."

Joe Garagiola is still alive, and had been doing broadcasts for the Arizona Diamondbacks, but I don't know if he still is.  This inscription was written 40+ years ago, but if Garagiola knew "Jack and Arlene," then maybe there's a chance he'll remember something about them.  I don't know.  It could be grasping at straws, but I'm intrigued by the story.  And I'm going to look into it a little further. 
Well, here I am in Puerto Rico.  This is my 31st day in San Juan, and there are only 48 (roughly) to go.  Yes, I am counting down. It seems that this is the sort of place that one should take in small doses only.  31 days doesn't seem that long, but it has sure felt like an eternity.  Don't get me wrong -- it is pretty here, and there are interesting things to see and do.  But there's a difference between spending a day here when your cruise ship docks (there are cruise ships in the harbor constantly) or spending three days here on a vacation, and spending nearly three months here. 

There are extenuating circumstances for my feelings about this place. Two weeks after we got here, I got up and went for a run, and then took a shower.  While in the shower, I noticed something on my arm.  Two little red dots, about 1/8-inch apart. In other words, fang marks.  They weren't raised, they didn't hurt unless I pressed on them (and even then not much), and they didn't itch.  Of course, I have read stories of people who have been bitten by bats in the night and not felt it, and then died of rabies a month or so later.  And so, being the hypochondriac that I am, I panicked.  And I spent about the next two weeks panicking, only recovering (almost completely) in the last few days.  

Yes, you read that right.  I was certain for a while there that I had been bitten by a rabid bat, despite the utter impossibility of that happening.  I was in an apartment on the fourth floor.  Yes, the windows were open, and, no, they were not screened (for whatever reason, Puerto Ricans don't believe in screens, despite the vast numbers of mosquitoes), but they were the type of window that is made up of six or eight smaller panes that rise up when you turn a crank.  So, not just one wide-open space into which something can fly.  The likelihood of a rabid bat flying into that window, biting me, then making its way out, all without me, my fiancé (Christine), or my dog hearing, is pretty much nil.

And yet I remained unconvinced.  I Googled "bat expert" and emailed two people to get their opinion on the situation.  Only one wrote back, a guy from Boston University, and told me that he thought I had probably been bitten by a spider.  I read pretty much every Google article I could find on bats, rabies, rabies symptoms, et cetera.  The first day I found the bite, I actually went to an ER here, where the doctor spoke English about as well as I speak Spanish, and simply looked at me like I was crazy (which I was), gave me a prescription for an antibiotic (for reasons unknown) which I did not fill, and charged me $300. Later, Christine called the hospital and spoke with an RN who told her that, in the 23 years that he has worked in medicine on the island, he has never seen a bat bite.  If you think that gave me any sort of reassurance, you haven't been paying attention.

I had full-on panic attacks for about a week straight.  I had no appetite at all, and barely ate, which made me feel skinny when I put on my bikini and went to the beach, but probably wasn't the best thing for my body.  My stomach is only just now getting over the torture I put it through.  I made Christine crazy, since my panic mostly came when she was at work, and so she had to deal with me on top of her work stress.  There was talk of me going home to L.A. so I could just calm down a little bit.

I actually don't know what has turned it around for me.  All the logic in the world couldn't convince my crazy mind that this was ridiculous, and I had physical symptoms that I couldn't shake. Part of me thinks I was actually a little sick, and that it just got worse because my mind convinced me it was something more serious.  The other part of me thinks that I am just plain insane, and thats probably the more likely explanation.

So, now you know more about me than you probably wanted to, and you can feel free to judge. Obviously, this experience has clouded my judgment on Puerto Rico just a bit.  It's not the island's fault that I'm nutty, of course, but I think I would probably still be homesick and ready to leave even if I had spent the last month lounging on the beach.  We're currently staying in an apartment in Old San Juan, but on May 1 we're going to move into the Caribe Hilton.  This was not my idea, though I wholeheartedly approved it when Christine brought it up last night. Another person who is down here working with her is doing the exact same thing, so I'm not the only one who is over the allure of Old San Juan.  It's not like living in a hotel for a month is going to be so great (remember, I did lived in one in Chicago last year for nearly two months), but I still find myself really looking forward to May 1.  It feels like I'll be taking one more step toward home.
Oh yeah, and then there's baseball.  When I move into the hotel, I'll lose my Extra Innings package on DirecTV, but that's what the package is for on my computer.  Thank god for technology.  I wouldn't want to miss a second of what the Dodgers are doing this season.  They are currently on a six-game winning streak, and are tied atop the NL West with the surprising Padres (who won't keep it up, I guarantee it).  They have been the comeback kids of late, capped with last night's game in which Randy Wolf gave up three runs in the first, then settled down over the next five.  He shut down the Rockies, striking out nine of them along the way, giving the Dodgers a chance to come up. The Boys in Blue kept threatening, leaving men on base every inning (as is their wont this season thus far), but they finally came through in the seventh. Furcal singled, Hudson walked, then Manny hit a single to drive in Furcal.  Matt Kemp hit into a fielder's choice, but Hudson scored.  Then Ethier, who had really struggled at the plate in his previous three at-bats, hit a gapper to left center, which scored Kemp, and the game was tied. Loretta poked a ball over the third baseman's head, Ethier scored, and the Dodgers had the lead.

Kuo did is best to give it up in the top of the eighth, as he loaded the bases with only one out. So, Torre brought in Broxton, and Broxton proceeded to just flat-out dominate.  He struck out the two batters he faced in the eighth, ending the threat, then struck out two of the three he faced in the ninth.  Game over.  Dodgers win.  Billingsley takes the mound today, and we're looking for lucky number seven in a row.

The Red Sox had an even more impressive comeback on Friday night.  After Brad Penny gave up seven runs by the second inning (have I mentioned that I've never liked the guy?), the Sox clawed back into it and eventually won 10-8.  Detailing the onslaught of runs would bore you, but there is hope that this offensive outburst will shake the Sox out of the funk they've been in this season.  Must have sucked to be an Oriole fan last night, but we needed that win.  Still in last place in the AL East, but it's no time to panic.  We're three games behind the Blue Jays, and we've only played ten games this season.

And that, my friends, ends this ridiculously long post.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I Am In Love With a 47-Year Old Virgin

If you haven't seen Susan Boyle, either on YouTube or on the featured story today, get ye to one of those links. None of the videos on YouTube will let me embed, so you'll have to click to get there.  Now go watch it.  And unless your heart is made of stone, you're likely to tear up like I did.  I've now watched the whole thing twice, and both times I cried and got goose bumps.  I'm a bit of a sucker for stories like this, but still, it's pretty cool.  So go watch so you'll now what I'm talking about. And watch the whole thing.  It's worth it.

Okay, now on to baseball.  As I've mentioned, the season has not started well for the Red Sox.  Oakland should have gone much better, but the Sox found themselves looking to avoid the sweep today before they head back home.  They got the win they needed, and in fairly dramatic fashion, too, since Tim Wakefield had a no-hitter until a Suzuki single with one out in the seventh inning.  I was watching the game on my computer, listening to the NESN feed.  One of my favorite things about potential no-hitters is listening to the way the commentators try to deal with the subject.  Don Orsillo was quite intentionally not saying the words, though he found other ways to say what he wasn't saying. He mentioned more than once the number of consecutive batters Wakefield had retired, and also kept pointing out that the A's only had one baserunner--Suzuki, who reached on a fifth inning Lowell single.  In the seventh inning, Orsillo threw caution to the wind and told us that Wakefield had "gone into the seventh inning without giving up a hit four times in his career."  That was close, but the magic words were not uttered until after the Suzuki single in the eighth.

Orsillo pointed out that the blame could have been placed on the 25-minute wait Wakefield sat through as the Sox scored six runs (all with two outs, incidentally) in the top of the eighth.  Wake came out and walked the first batter, got an out, then gave up the hit.  You like to see the offensive explosion, especially with two outs, because the Sox have been sorely lacking in the "big hit" department so far this season, but after Drew's three-run homer made it 5-0, Sox, I was just praying they would get out of the inning and let Wakefield get back out there.

Regardless, the Sox won the game 8-2, and head back to Boston to take on the Baltimore Orioles.  The season needs to get on track here, so let's hope for at least three of four in this series.

As for the Dodgers, things are good.  I'm currently watching the Giants/Dodgers game, which is in the seventh inning.  Clayton Kershaw started and is still pitching, and has twelve strikeouts. His previous career high was eight.  And this comes after Billingsley's amazing performance on Monday in which he had eleven strikeouts with no walks.  About that game--I really, really can't believe I missed that.  I mentioned before that I would be sad to miss this one, and that turned out to be an incredible understatement.  (And Kershaw just struck out his thirteenth batter of the game!  What an amazing job.) Billingsley pitched brilliantly, Orlando Hudson hit for the cycle, Vin threw out the first pitch, and the Dodgers walloped the Giants.  Great day.

I want to write some about Puerto Rico and my time here for the last month, but I'll save that until the next post, which will likely come tomorrow.  

(Rowand just hit a three-run shot to put the Dodgers down 4-2. Let's hope that in the next post I'll have better things to say about this game.)

Monday, April 13, 2009

I Can't Believe I'm Missing This

Ugh. Sounds like it will be a blast. Well, I hope the person who bought my Opening Day tickets on eBay has a good time. I'll be watching on TV, where I've been lucky enough to hear Vin Scully two or three times already this season. I don't see any reason I won't get the Dodgers' home feed today, but I'm still keeping my fingers crossed.

Sort of an up-and-down beginning to the season thus far. The Dodgers split a four-game series with the Padres, which they should have easily swept. Kuroda is already on the DL after one start, James McDonald may or may not still be an official starter, and Manny is talking about ending his career in Cleveland. Oh, and there was that weird way the Dodgers scored a run on Sunday, taking advantage of the rare "fourth out rule." Meanwhile, the Dodgers have managed to compile a 4-3 record, which isn't too terrible, but those damn Padres are 5-2. I don't see that division lead lasting for San Diego, so the Dodgers better take care of business at home against San Francisco and Colorado this week. The good news, they won't be facing Tim Lincecum. Although, after his last start, maybe we'd like to be facing the kid.

And in the Red Sox world, they are off to an even shakier start. A 2-4 record thanks to two series losses--one against Tampa Bay and one against an emotional Angels' team in Anaheim. Not a great start. They're not getting trounced or anything, but they're not scoring a lot of runs (averaging 3.6 a game), and the pitchers aren't pitching well enough to compensate for the lack of runs. In other words, the perfect recipe for a losing team. It's early yet, but you would have liked to have seen a little better start out of the gate. They're off to Oakland today, where they'll face Nomar Garciaparra and the Athletics. This is a series the Sox easily win on paper, what with Lester, Matsuzaka and Wakefield facing Braden, Eveland and Anderson. And don't even tell me you've heard of those three guys; Eveland, maybe, but the rest of them? I couldn't name more than three players on the A's if you paid me. And those pitchers don't count, since I just looked them up for this post. I can give you Garciaparra, Giambi and Ellis. That's it. I'm at a loss. And now that I've said that, the Sox will probably get no-hit in one of the games on their way to a 2-7 record after being swept in Oakland.

Remember, I still have tickets you can purchase for Dodger Stadium this weekend (rather shameless, aren't I?). I'll give you a good deal, since I sold the Opening Day tickets for a nice price. Here's another reminder of what I have left, none of which have been placed on eBay as of yet (the last game is dicey because I might be back in time to go, so consider it tentative for now):

Saturday, May 2 vs. San Diego Padres, 7:10 pm

Wednesday, May 20 vs. New York Mets, 7:10 pm (Casey Blake bobblehead night)

Friday, May 22 vs. Angels, 7:10 pm (Friday night fireworks)

Saturday, May 23 vs. Angels, 7:10 pm

Sunday, May 24 vs. Angels, 1:10 pm (Webkinz Pet Giveaway, for kids 14 & under)

Wednesday, June 3 vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, 7:10 pm (Dodgers Collector's Edition Poster)

Saturday, June 6 vs. Philadelphia Philles, 12:50 pm (probably the Fox day game)

Friday, April 03, 2009

Making A Buck

I haven't had working internet for about a week now, so please forgive the delay.  More pictures from Puerto Rico below, and more to come after this weekend.  Maybe.  We just moved into our new apartment in town (just across the street from the first one, in Old San Juan), and this weekend might be spent cleaning and arranging things the way we (meaning the fiancé) like them. So there might not be much in the way of exploring the island.

In other news, the Opening Day tickets are for sale on eBay.  If you're interested, click here for the link to the auction.  There is a fair amount of interest in the tickets, but so far they haven't met our reserve price.  I tried to be fair based on what I saw other people selling their tickets for, especially considering there aren't many for sale that are better than mine.  So, we'll see how it goes.  About four days left in the auction, so get on over there if you're interested.

Oh, and it appears that I'm going to have "Extra Innings" down here on my TV, but I guess I won't know for sure until Monday. Can you believe baseball is starting again?  Isn't it exciting?

You know what?  The best way to show you the pictures is to just provide you with the Facebook link to the album.  Even if you're not my "friend" there, you can still look at the pictures, and I'm pretty sure the link to the album remains the same even after I add more photos.  So, click the link below if you'd like to see the pictures.  Also, another link to the auction, just in case.