Friday, July 21, 2017

Baseball Journal July 17-20, 2017

Tim Hagerty was still a bit under the weather for tonight’s Chihuahuas versus Rivercats game in Sacramento.  I was under the weather too, in a more literal manner.  We were deluged by a monster rainstorm.  It was after 1:00 am, my workplace was flooded, and I was outside with a flat bottomed metal shovel, scooping out water and trying not to notice how much lightning was going on around me.  At that point, I was having serious philosophical thoughts about my life.

The workday had at least stared promisingly with a co-worker returning from vacation and bringing me back some souvenirs from a Dodgers’ game (more on that in another post).  Likewise, the Chihuahuas did well in their game, amassing a six-run lead through five innings.  Tim was a bit low-key, so I found myself kind of drifting in and out of listening.  I did notice that the PA was playing the Rocky theme for a Rocky Gale at bat.  Tim, and I’m guessing Rocky, are a bit spent on that gag.

The Rivercats made a comeback in the seventh with three runs, knocking Brian Rodriguez out of the game.  Carter Capps came in.  Tim made note that this was the same umpiring crew from last month (6-25-17) that had called him for a couple of illegal pitches because of his unorthodox delivery.  This resulted in Capps and manager, Rod Barajas, getting ejected.  This time, no problems with the umps and Capps stopped the comeback.  In the eighth, there was a kid screaming encouragement for the ‘Cats, along with howling coming from some other fans.  Whatever that was all about, it didn’t help.  7-3 pups was the final.  The Chihuahuas are finally back to being a .500 team.

Chihuahuas versus Rivercats.  The ‘Cats had a 2-0 lead until the fourth.  With two outs, bases loaded, and the bottom of the order up, pup pitcher, Zach Lee, tied the score with a single.  A wild pitch scored another to give the Chihuahuas the lead.  But, the Rivercats came back to tie it in the bottom, 3-3.  The Chihuahuas scored two in the fifth to take a 5-3 lead.  The PA played, “Who let the Dogs out?”  In the bottom, with the bases loaded and two out, and a full count with the crowd going crazy, Zach struck out the last batter.

Christian Villanueva homered in the seventh.  Tim Hagerty’s voice cracked during the call, so he’s still not quite 100% after losing his voice.  Sacramento did manage to score two in the bottom to make it 6-5 pups.  Jason Jester, in his second inning of relief, gave up the tying run, but after loading the bases, he got out of it by starting a 1-2-3 double play.  We did not get a resolution until the bottom of the twelfth.  With the fans screaming and sounding pretty rowdy, a lead-off double, moved to third, was brought in by Trevor Brown.  7-6 Rivercats, but quite a game.  Jarrett Parker, down from the Giants, went 3 for 5 with a walk in the game.

The good news was that I got to listen to a Chihuahuas’ day game against the Rivercats, nearly uninterrupted.  The bad news was that they lost 3-1.  The score didn’t even feel that close.  The Rivercats scored on a lead-off home run in the first, and two more in the fifth (though they had a runner picked off second).  Tyler Bede kept the pups well in hand for most of the game.  It wasn’t until he came out in the seventh, that a bases loaded walk produced the only Chihuahuas’ run.  I even missed the end of the game because of a couple of El Paso weather alerts.  It was a two-and-half hour game, which wasn’t the end of the series.  The teams play again tomorrow night.  So much for a get-away day.

I spent most of the game reading my new Dodger yearbook.  It was pretty cool.  I liked the section that hit the high points (and lows) during the 2016 season.  I got a couple of things out of the game.  Franchy Cordero was called up to the Padres.  I finally got an explanation for old Dudley Field’s nickname, the Dudley Dome.  It was said that it never rained there, like there was a dome covering the field.  Tim Hagerty called a fan with a mitt catching a foul in the seventh.  He loves doing that.  I think he’d wear a mitt in the pressbox if he could still do his job.    

Checking the MLB scores at work, I noticed that the Rockies completed a three-game sweep of the Padres, scoring 36 runs in the process.  Nolan Arenado hit three homers in the finale.  Unfortunately, the Dodgers keep winning (10 in a row).  The Rockies are in second, 10 games back.  The Rangers have lost three in a row to the Orioles.  Let’s see if Cole Hamels can stop the bleeding tomorrow.

I couldn’t resist clicking on a story from a Sports Illustrated daily e-mail: What do broadcasters eat during games?  Joe Buck apparently has at least four cups of coffee before games.  This explains a lot.  There was another story on a Giants’ fansite that reported that the Giants home sellout streak had finally ended after several years.  Unfortunately, I didn’t write down any of the particulars.  The Giants’ organization tweeted out a “Thank you,” to their fans from their support.  Meanwhile, the Rangers blew a five-run lead and were swept by the Orioles in a four-game series.  The Rangers will be sellers at the trade deadline here shortly.

We’ll pick up the action in the eighth in Sacramento.  The Chihuahuas had already come back from two down against the Rivercats, but were trailing by a run.  New arrival, Peter Van Gansen, singled in the tying run, and scored on a play at the plate on a hit by Christian Villanueva.  Not bad, considering that before the game, while Tim Hagerty was talking to Steve Kaplowitz, Tim had thought that the name was a gag entry on the roster.

Carter Capps got a two-inning save.  Dusty Coleman hit another home run, and the Chihuahuas beat the Rivercats, 5-3.  They are still three back of Salt Lake in the standings.  In somewhat bad news today, a roster spot was opened up by the release of pitcher, Tyrell Jenkins.  He just hadn’t lived up his projections.  Today was also his birthday.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Arizona Diamondbacks July 4, 2017


My co-worker, Mike, returned from vacation.  He’d repeatedly rubbed it in that he and his girlfriend were going to a Dodgers game in Los Angeles.  He seemed happy and content upon his return.  I was happy to see him, especially since he’d brought back a couple of gifts from the ballpark.  I’d told him that I didn’t want any Dodger stuff, but he knew better.  Mike brought me a Dodger baseball and a yearbook, which was even better than the program I’d meant to ask for.  

The yearbook looks cool.  I’ll be reading it over the next few days.  Whatever Major League ballpark you go to, you probably want to find one of these for the home team.  I got one for the Yankees from someone visiting New York City a couple of years ago.  I was seriously impressed with it, and I hate the Yankees.  There’s a great pictorial section in this yearbook celebrating Vin Scully’s final year of broadcasting.  The picture above is from his last game.  He was doing the game in San Francisco, and that’s a crowd of Giants fans applauding him, the Dodgers’ mortal enemies.     

The first thing I asked was how did they end up at a ballgame, since neither of them are baseball fans.  Last year, they were in LA at the same time and failed to find a fireworks show for the Fourth.  Mike did some searching for this year and came to the conclusion that going to see a Dodger game was actually the cheapest and best option.  I’m kind of doubting this, but then again, I didn’t get to see my local fireworks show from where I live this year.  (The town isn’t that big.)

Mike confirmed what I’d heard that.  There’s one road in and out of the stadium.  It was named after Vin Scully.  He said lots of stuff around there was named after Vin.  The yearbook, from my quick skimming of it this morning, encouraged fans to buy their parking passes in advance.  That’s probably a good idea to save whatever time you can, because nobody’s paying to see a parking lot.  I might have paid to watch Mike’s girlfriend, who was driving, take out traffic cone and drag it with the car on the way to the ticket booth.

There are reportedly giant bobbleheads outside the stadium that Mike got some pictures of his girlfriend’s kid climbing on, but he didn't show me, so I'm questioning their existence.  Mike did have a famous Dodger Dog, which he reported to be just a regular hot dog.  For $7.  How disappointing.  They had to climb 10,000 steps to get up to their seats.  It was also scalding hot that day.  Mike fell behind.  An old lady passed him and mocked him on the way up.  At the top, the girlfriend and kid also laughed at him, until he nearly passed out, at which point they took better care of him.     

On the Fourth, I made an effort to find out what happened during the game (7-4-17) and reported it.  Clayton Kershaw took a no-hitter into the seventh, while the Dodgers scored four runs to back him up.  The D-Backs rallied in the ninth for three runs, but lost 4-3.  Mike added that everyone was enjoying the game until the ninth.  The Dodgers went through a couple of pitchers.  The final one came on for the last batter, who hit a fly ball that drove the outfielder to the wall.  Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.  Admittedly not a detailed account, but, like I said, they’re not big baseball fans.  

I assume the crowd was also relieved that now the fireworks show could begin.  The PA invited everyone on to the field to watch.  It was rush of humanity, but Mike’s group did move down in the stands.  He was impressed with the show and also with a flyover before the game.  That’s some clout, a flyover for a regular season game.  

I gave Mike the option of me either paying him for the souvenirs, or he could call them an early birthday present, which comes up at the end of the month.  He picked the gift option, which was nice, especially since this is probably the only things I’ll be getting.  I showed off the gifts to a few co-workers.  One reminded me, “Don’t you hate the Dodgers?”  “No!  My childhood love of this team has been reignited!”  “Really?”  I shrugged and half-heartedly committed to jumping on the bandwagon if they win the World Series, at which point I’d a new hat (a Brooklyn Dodgers one).  I gotta say, I’m sorry I wasn’t there for the game though.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Baseball Journal July 15-16, 2017

Chihuahuas versus Aces.  Tim Hagerty came on the radio sounding pretty good, but after the first break he was back to sounding bad.  Once again, KROD carried the Aces’ team broadcast for the game.  This time it was a one-man booth.  The younger-sounding announcer wasn’t there for this game.  Admittedly, I kind of enjoyed yesterday’s call with the two of them.  I know there’s a charm to just having one announcer.  It’s considered more intimate with the broadcaster speaking directly to the listener, whereas in a two-man booth, the audience is eavesdropping on their conversation.  Still, it’s good to hear some banter when the game starts to drag a bit.

The Chihuahuas got out to a four-run lead.  Jeremy Hazelbaker got the Aces their first run in the third, as he stole second, continued on to an unguarded third, and was hit by a throw that went into the stands.  In the sixth, a two-run home run for the Aces brought the score to 4-3.  In the seventh, the Chihuahuas took three walks to load the bases, but then struck out three times in a row to end the inning without scoring.  The Aces tied it in the eighth, but Ryan Shimpf re-tied it in the ninth with a homer off the Aces’ All-Star closer.  In the tenth, Franchy Cordero went “Natural” and hit a homer over a light stand, which would give the pups a 6-5 win in a nearly four-hour game.  The Chihuahuas are now four back of division leader Salt Lake.

The Rangers versus Royals game started earlier, but the local station didn’t carry it from what I heard.  It was over by the time a night-time station came in.  The Rangers won 1-0 off a ninth inning run and a strong effort by Cole Hamels.  The Rockies’ game was over by the time KOA came in.  Annoyingly, the reception was great for a change.  They got clobbered by the Mets.

Forgive the digression, but I watched the Formula E NYC race this morning.  It was mostly for the curiosity factor.  I’ve seen one of these races before.  It doesn’t so much showcase electric car technology as it does highlight the limitations of it.  They only race for an hour and have to change cars halfway through.  The cars burn off 5% of their battery per lap.  I was mostly wondering where they were going to run the race in New York City.  The answer was the Brooklyn Cruise Dock, which is a bunch of docks and warehouses.  At least the Manhattan backdrop with Lady Liberty looked good.

This “E-Prix” (is it really necessary to put “E” in front of everything?) featured a claustrophobic run between warehouses and a pair of tight, hairpin turns.  The first hairpin was at the end of the front stretch.  Try to imagine a slow-moving clump of cars at the start trying to negotiate a 90 degree turn all at the same time.  Surprisingly, everyone made it out.

To be honest, I wasn’t paying much attention after the start.  The cars sound vaguely like a Jetsons’ flying car, revved up.  At slow speeds they’re silent, so the marshals in pit lane blow whistles when the cars are moving through.  It looked like several fans in the grandstands were wearing Ferrari hats.  The fans also get to vote via social media on which driver gets a speed boost in the race.  Do I even need to comment on that?  The cars finished with about 1 to 2% of their batteries left, so at least they can accurately chart their power usage.  My favorite thing at the race was probably Dario Franchetti’s color commentary.  He should be doing another series.

Rangers versus Royals.  Eric Nadel was back from vacation and this was my first time hearing him in a week.  Yu Darvish had a rough first inning as he let in the first Royals’ run with a wild pitch, and then got charged with an error with a throw trying to pick a runner off second that went into centerfield.  Interesting stat, Darvish is 44-4 when given at least three runs of support.  When Matt Hicks came on, he apologized for wearing a Royal blue polo shirt to the ballpark.  He said he wasn’t thinking when he put it on.  Drew Robinson, getting a start today, hit a homer to tie it in the third.  Mike Moustakas drove in Eric Hosmer in the bottom to give the Royals back the lead, 2-1.

In the seventh, Mike Napoli tied it for the Rangers with a homer, but Whit Merrifield doubled in a run in the bottom, 3-2 Royals.  In the eighth, Normar Mazara drove in Elvis Andrus to tie the game again.  For the ninth, Jason Grilli came in to pitch for the Rangers.  He loaded the bases with two outs.  Grilli induced a flyball, which Shin-Soo Choo, fighting the sun, dropped.  4-3 Royals final.  The sun had been giving fielders fits during the game.  I’m not sure if Choo was charged with an error or not.  In the post-game, Jared Sandler counted three Royal runs that came off of misplays.

I flipped on the Chihuahuas/Aces game as soon as it came on to see how Tim Hagerty was doing.  He sounded a bit weak, but he was good to go for today.  I got to hear the pups score their first run, but went back to the Rangers.  I tuned back in the fifth with the Chihuahuas up 5-0.  In the sixth, Nick Buss lost a flyball in the sun and an Aces’ run scored.  He wasn’t even the only one in Reno having trouble with flyballs.  The sun must have extra bright today.  The score was 5-2 in the seventh when Dusty Coleman hit a three-run home run as part of a five-run inning.  10-3 would be final with a victory for the Chihuahuas.  They are now three back of Salt Lake City.

I was not surprised that KROD went ahead and decided to carry the ESPN game this evening, since it was the Yankees and Red Sox.  ESPN is loving baseball right now.  They’ve got a single player to focus their unrealistic adulation on, Aaron Judge.  Also, they’re able to focus on interesting teams in major markets (New York, Los Angles, Boston, and Chicago) and disregard the rest, in spite of the standings.  It’s the way they think all sports should be.

Of course KROD also decided to go with auto-pilot programming, thus the game kept getting interrupted with local commercial breaks.  I had to hope nothing interesting happened in the game during those breaks.  (This got better later, and I think somebody was manning the board there.)  In the third, Mookie Betts gave the Red Sox a two-run lead off a home run over the Green Monster.  In the sixth, the Red Sox put up another run.  In the eighth, Jackie Bradley Jr. stole a home run off Aaron Judge and the Boston Crowd roared.

There was some drama in the ninth with Craig Kimbrel closing it out, but 3-0 Red Sox was the final.  It didn’t even last the usual four and a half hours, like other Yankees/Red Sox games.  After losing in 16 innings yesterday and earlier today as part of a day/night double header, this was a nice bounce back for Sox.  As a footnote to the broadcast, it was announced that Pablo Sandoval was released by the team.  Is this the sad end for such an iconic player?      

Monday, July 17, 2017

Baseball Journal July 12-14, 2017

7-12-17 #Triple-A ASG
Baseball has managed to fill the All-Star Game week with events and games.  In today’s case, the MLB Network broadcast the Triple-A All-Star Game.  It was also on our local Chihuahuas’ radio affiliate.  I had both on, but unfortunately work obligations kept me from enjoying either.  This was really too bad, because it was a great game.

This All-Star Game counts for who gets to be the home team at the Triple-A Championship game.  (The site has already been chosen.)  Tacoma was hosting tonight’s ASG.  It was a lovely evening there and a full house of fans, who were loudly cheering for the PCL over the IL.  On the radio, they talked about the recently remodeled stadium.  One older feature that was mentioned later was Tight-Wad Hill.  They said kids on their bikes used to ride up there to watch games.

The first half of the game featured a lot of offense with four total home runs.  Nick Buss from the Chihuahuas came in in the sixth and slapped a hit.  Even with some drama in the ninth, the PCL would win 6-4.  Again, sorry.  It looked like a great game, clocking in at a quick two hours and forty minutes, but I wasn’t able to sit down for it.

We’re back to regular baseball in Triple-A.  The big leagues are still on break.  Tonight’s game was the Chihuahuas versus the Reno Aces.  Again with the work obligations, I barely got to listen.  Tim Hagerty sounded refreshed and was cheerfully talking about baseball on all sorts of topics.

One thing I couldn’t help but notice was the music over the PA.  They were playing bizarre walk up music for BOTH teams’ players.  “Loving You is Easy,” “Should Have Put a Ring on it,” and “Baby, One More Time,” were clearly heard.  Finally later, I heard the PA in the background promoting “Bad Songs for a good cause.”  You could buy songs to play for the players for charity.  I wonder if Nick Buss bought his signature tune, “Kashmir,” since I heard that played for him.  It was weird fun.  Unfortunately, it was a 6-2 loss for the pups.

Late in the game, Tim mentioned that what had baseball’s attention today was a Single-A game between the Lexington Legends and the Delmarua Shorebirds.  The game was 20 innings in without a winner.  I remember actually seeing a Lexington game on TV on a minor league showcase.  Their logo is a handlebar mustache.  I brought up their game on Gameday, though I kept the audio with the Chihuahuas.  Just to add insult to injury, after 20, the game went to a rain delay, and was then suspended, still tied.  (Yeah, this is why changed my mind about adopting the WBC, start off with a man on second, extra innings rule.)

The MLB free game was an early evening affair between the Nationals and the Reds.  This wasn’t a matchup I cared about, but I wanted something to listen to while I was doing my work.  My only takeaways from the game were really random.  “Redzilla” made its debut in Cincinnati.  This is a large, steam-snorting ATV that shoots foam balls into the stands (and even upper deck) in a rapid-fire fashion.  There was a great crowd there getting pelted with souvenirs, which surprised me, given the team.  Lastly, a kid in the outfield caught a Bryce Harper home run and went crazy.  Not sure which team he was rooting for.  5-0 Washington final.

The D-Backs were playing the Braves in Atlanta on Fox Sports Arizona.  Though it was late in the game, I tuned in to get a look at Sun Trust Stadium.  I like that section in right field with the tabletops in front of the seats.  Those would be great seats for keeping a scorecard at.

The D-Backs were leading 3-2 in the eighth, until Freddie Freeman drove in two with a double.  Brandon Phillips actually fell down rounding third and still scored.  Not a great moment for the snake defense.  It got a little more embarrassing as Gregor Blanco in left tried to slide catch a Matt Adams’ hit and it bounced into his face.  With a 4-3 lead, Ender Inciarte robbed AJ Pollack of a lead-off homer at the wall.  Jim Johnson struck out Paul Goldschmidt to end the game.  I was surprised by the number of players that I didn’t realize were now playing for these two teams.    

To clear up business from yesterday, the Lexington Legends won the suspended 21 inning game today 7-6 with a home run in the twenty-first inning.  As chipper as Tim Hagerty sounded yesterday, he was clearly under the weather today for the Chihuahuas versus the Aces.  He could still talk, but wasn’t able to put any energy into it and was having trouble doing more than a mechanical recitation of events on field.  By the fourth, Tim reluctantly gave up and the broadcast switched to the Reno home broadcasters.  Dejected, he said just couldn’t perform at the professional level that game deserved.  That’s some integrity.

Reno had a pair of guys with a fairly light-hearted attitude doing their broadcast.  Surely somebody told them that they were now on in El Paso for the game, but I didn’t hear them say anything about it.  Quite a bit action happened after the switch, so it was probably good that they took over.  The Chihuahuas put up a bunch of runs (I was busy at work and listened intermittently).  An Ace player hit an inside-the-park home run.  Chihuahua, Nick Buss (the guys liked his name), took home on a double steal.  Well down in the eighth, the Aces still managed to load the bases, but only drove in two.  The pups won 10-4.  Hopefully, Tim will bounce back for Saturday’s game.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Baseball Journal July 10-11, 2017

7-10-17 Home Run Derby
“Back, back, back, back . . . !” It was kind of sad.  Chris Berman had called me to do the home run calls for this contest.  I didn’t have the heart to hang up on him.  He seemed so lost.  His replacements, the Aaron Judge Fan Club, weren’t doing much to endear themselves to me in Berman’s absence.  When media people are this desperate to find “The face of Baseball,” you know this story probably isn’t going to end well.  Just what I want for baseball, the entire sport to revolve around one player, like Lebron James and the NBA.

At least Judge lived up to the hype.  While a storm raged outside the stadium (actually I have no idea if it was that bad weather or not, but lightning was going off outside and the roof was closed), he managed to hit the roof and send balls into the concourse on his way to easily winning the contest.  The Judge cosplayers in the stands were ecstatic.

I have to give an ESPN commentator some small credit (don’t remember who, who cares?).  He accurately predicted that Miguel Sano of the Twins would do well, and he was in the finals.  About the event itself, the time limit rule was a good idea.  The problem is that the first round is usually the best one, and the guys are gassed after that.  There should be a way to arrange this to keep the players from getting worn out at the start.

7-11-17 #ASG
For some reason, ESPN Radio sent some of their shows to Miami for the game.  Why was I listening?  I had some vain hope that they’d talk baseball.  One host demanded the week off because, “Nothing was going on.”  His replacement spent his time doing Social Justice Warrior commentary.  The others just apologized for talking about baseball intermittently.  When they did talk about the sport, it produced such gems as, “The season should end in August.  With nothing else happening, the World Series would take center stage.”  There was an admission that the baseball regional networks (which ESPN doesn’t make any money from) are actually killing it in the TV ratings.  In some markets, the games are easily the number one show of the summer.

As for the Fox Sports coverage, unfortunately, Joe Buck and John Smoltz were there for the commentary.  Fortunately, the light-hearted nature of the game itself, kept them from becoming too histrionic.  Buck’s finest moment was listing a litany of Aaron Judge’s disadvantages in growing up, including being “bi-racial.”  Yes, it’s true.  If you’re “bi-racial,” you’re limited in life to being a rich, famous athlete or just being president.  Smoltz, meanwhile, still had some lingering bitterness over being tagged with the loss in two All-Star Games.  Buck consoled him by saying, “Let it go.  Nobody cares.”

I will praise Alex Rodriguez’s performance during game.  I saw him out on the field, in a suit, interviewing the National League infield.  It was a bit surreal, but I kind of enjoyed it.  (This is terrifying.  I disliked Joe Buck to the point that I liked A-Rod?)  The shocks kept coming though.  George Springer and Bryce Harper both wore microphones while out playing in the outfield and were interviewed there.  (I question why they were talking to Harper about football.)  There were even microphones at the bases and you could kind of hear the conversations going on.  Again, I liked it, but it was totally weird.  Buck and Smoltz even told people to join them live on Facebook for an inning.

One gets some impression that MLB is trying out some stuff to enhance the game, such as the prevalence of Statcast.  (In this game’s case, somebody actually needed to hit the ball for Statcast to be useful.)  On field interviews aren’t going to fly in a regular game, but I could see using more sounds of the game stuff.  In-game player tweeting and dugout confidential stuff could be around the corner.  Nelson Cruz may have already broken the seal.  In the seventh, he started off the inning and his at bat by handing his phone to Yadier Molina and asked him to take a picture of him and umpire, Joe West.  (This will never happen during a regular game.)  The collective media keeps calling for baseball to promote itself better.  I don’t know what they mean.  More social media?  More betting?  Bribe the networks and commentators?  More social justice (take a knee for the anthem)?  More off-field player scandals?  More commercial endorsements?  (Actually, I liked that new commercial with Jose Altuve.)

It was a full house for the game, just like for the Home Run Derby.  I saw gear from several teams represented.  The Marlins Man was noticeably absent for most of the game.  I didn’t see him behind home plate until the ninth.  It looked like he was sporting a beard and was tweeting like crazy.  Before that, there was some obnoxious a-hole with a cell phone, waving behind home plate.  It’d been a while since I’d seen this, and I’d hoped that maybe it had finally gone out of fashion.  If you just kept a sniper by the outfield camera, you could take care of these people.  You only have to make an example of one for these dimwits to stop doing that.

On the game itself, more or less.  Both coaches’ emphasized in their interviews that this game no longer counts for anything.  World Series home field advantage will no longer be determined by the outcome of this game.  Brad Mills, subbing for an ailing Terry Francona for the AL, said, “If we win, it’s icing on the cake.”  Joe Maddon for the NL said about the same.  I have mixed feelings about the change.  For this year, nothing was affected in game play (maybe), but I’m sure that will change in the future.  For now, it’s still a legit game, unlike the All-Star games in the other sports.

Actually, there wasn’t a whole lot to report from the game.  Fox managed to miss an out early out thanks to a long commercial break.  I’ve seen that happen at the Superbowl, so it wasn’t a diss on baseball.  In the second, Harper had the defensive gem of the game with a great dive and catch.  The guy is still playing all out, even in an exhibition.

Pitching dominated.  Everyone watching had to be getting a little concerned about this one finishing in a nil-nil tie.  Finally, the AL scored on a bloop single by Miguel Sano to take a 1-0 lead.  One of both managers’ goals was to get everyone in the game.  They might have succeeded.  Thank goodness I wasn’t trying to score this.  Yadi came in in the sixth, wearing metallic gold tools of ignorance.  I was e-mailing my Aunt Judy at the time.  She’s in Missouri and a big fan of his.  In the bottom of the inning, Joe Maddon called it and Yadi hit a homer to tie it.  Aunt Judy was thrilled.

Thankfully, even with extra commercials, the game was humming along.  By the ninth, the specter of a tie game was looming large.  Smoltz wanted baseball to implement the WBC extra innings rule, which puts a runner on second each inning.  I could kind of see this in minor league baseball, and perhaps for this game.  Spring Training games only go 10, regardless of the score.  [I’m writing this a couple of days later.  I may have changed my mind from what I was thinking at the time, because of a game I heard about on Thursday.  More on that later.]  However, Major League Baseball games that count need to play it out and have a winner.

The NL got Yadi to third in the bottom of the ninth.  You could hear Mets fans there chanting for Michael Conforto to bring him in.  However, Craig Kimbrel struck him out, and the Red Sox fans in Miami cheered.  Top of the tenth and Robinson Cano led off with a home run off Wade Davis (I missed it while working).  That wasn’t hardest hit ball of the frame.  Mike Moustakas fouled a pitch into the unprotected part of the first base camera well and hit a photographer.  Both Moose and the umpire went over to check on him.  I think he was okay.  Kyle Seager and Francisco Lindor both flashed leather in the bottom to seal the 2-1 AL win.  Ender Inciarte, former Chihuahua, made it into the game at the end.
Cano won the MVP, but I was busy again and missed it.  I flipped over to the MLB Network, but didn’t have time to watch their analysis.  Not a great game, but an interesting spectacle anyway for different reasons.  Lastly, I really enjoyed seeing the players introduced and bringing kids out with them.  Baseball should do this all the time.  I remember the Double-A Diablos used to always have Little Leaguers out on the field with them for the anthem.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Baseball Journal July 5-9, 2017

Not hugely into baseball today for some reason.  There was some sort of the issue with the Chihuahuas’ broadcast, which didn’t start on time.  I gave up on it initially.  By the time I checked back, it was 4-0 Las Vegas 51’s halfway through.  The pups ended up losing 7-3.  I did hear the Las Vegas crowd go nuts for an inside-the-park home run in the eighth.

All of the MLB free games were on early this week, so I missed them.  I did see a clip of Jon Jay pitching for the Cubs in a blow out.  The outfielder was throwing unbelievably slow, but he got the outs.  I sent the link to my Aunt Judy in Missouri.  Even though he’s not a Cardinal anymore, she still likes him.  She loved it.

I missed the first half of the Chihuahuas versus the 51’s.  It was 109 degrees in Las Vegas at the start.  Tim Hagerty reported that it was still 103 degrees late.  Also, he was outside calling the game, since there wasn’t room the pressbox for out-of-town announcers.  He sounded okay anyway.

The Chihuahuas, however, weren’t doing so good.  They had a 5-2 lead when I tuned in in the seventh, right before the 51’s sent 11 batters to the plate and scored six runs.  They had the bases loaded for most of the inning.  Cody Decker got a hit and scored.

In the top of the eighth, the pups scored two to close back to 8-7.  Unfortunately, 51’s had a nine-batter bottom of the inning and scored five more.  It wasn’t a good day for the bullpen.  “The Chihuahuas probably want this one over with,” said Tim.  13-7 51’s final.

Even in the high 90’s, Tim Hagerty reported that the team and himself were glad to be back in El Paso, rather than 109 degree Las Vegas.  After the fact, he reported how uncomfortable it was broadcasting in those conditions outside.  Tim had been especially worried about his equipment overheating out in the sun.

The Salt Lake City Bees started the game with a homer and a one run lead.  In the bottom, the Bees had an epic defensive meltdown with two errors and a misplayed ball, which resulted in six Chihuahuas’ runs.  Much of that damage came off of a three-run homer.  Tim was incredulous as the Bees are the best defensive team in the league.

I drifted away from the game again.  The Bees would make it interesting later, but the Chihuahuas tacked on a few more runs for a 9-5 win.  The Bees ended up with four errors for the game.  On the local news the next day, I saw one error where they blew a rundown between third and home that resulted in a run.  Also on the broadcast, they talked to a local umpire who was brought in to sub for a sick PCL umpire for the game.  That must have been a thrill for him.

This Saturday’s Fox game was the Royals at the Dodgers.  Both teams are playing well lately, and I like the Royals.  Unfortunately, I still don’t like the Dodgers, and there were multiple distractions on other channels.  I kept flipping back to the game, but didn’t stick with it for the most part.  I need an All-Star break.

The Dodgers took a three-run lead early.  The Royals got on the board after a Whit Merrifield double and then a wild pitch and a passed ball scored him.  Down by a run in the seventh, Merrifield again drove in the tying run.  Salvador Perez homered in the eighth to give the Royals a one-run lead (I missed seeing it).  In the bottom, Dodger rookie All-Star, Cody Bellinger tied it on a homer (I missed that too).  In the tenth, Dodger shortstop, Corey Seager, let a slow roller go right past him, and Eric Hosmer took second before the ball came back in.  Unfortunately, he didn’t score.  In the bottom, the Dodgers loaded the bases without an out.  Too late, a reliever was put in, who walked Bellinger to force in the winning run.  5-4 Dodgers.  Depressing.

The Chihuahuas versus the Bees.  Dustin Ackley hit into “The longest fielder’s choice in history,” as Tim Hagerty put it in the second.  A long fly ball was hit to Franchy Cordero, who caught it at the wall, but dropped it.  The runner on first didn’t see it and was forced at second when the throw came in.  The Bees just don’t seem to be playing sharp.

Tim had a special guest in the booth early, Ben Wood, the Dugout Club supervisor.  (Those are the good seats behind home plate with the attractive attendants.)  It was Ben’s birthday and his wife had set up this interview.  Tim was pleased as punch to talk to him.  After two quick half innings, Tim kept holding him over into a third.  Ben and one other attendant have been at every Chihuahuas’ game.  He’d worked for the Royals right before they won the World Series.

The Chihuahuas were up by three until the Bees tied it on a three-run homer in the fifth.  In the sixth, Jabari Blash drove in two for a 5-3 lead.  The Bees scored once in the ninth and had the tying run on, but Jason Jester got the final out for a 5-4 win.  Hmmm.  Seems familiar.

I flipped over to the Rockies versus White Sox game right after the finish.  In the eighth, Mark Reynolds hit a triple and was driven in to tie the score.  Unfortunately, my reception was poor, but I did hear Greg Holland giving up the lead in the ninth.  In the bottom, Charlie Blackmon was ejected after questioning the call on a strikeout.  Manager Bud Black would join him in the clubhouse shortly afterward for doing the same.  5-4 White Sox was the final.  Wait.  What?  That was three games in a row with the same score.  Now I know why I missed the Rangers winning over the Angels.  They had a different score.  

10:00 am was the earliest start time ever for the Chihuahuas.  It was even the first game of the day for all of professional baseball today.  Tim Hagerty was continually amazed by the time and kept watching the clock.  This time was set to get the teams a headstart on the All-Star break and maybe a break on the evening heat.  Tim didn’t mention the crowd during the game, but announced it at 6,000 afterward.  Not a great crowd, but they were pretty enthusiastic.  

In the first, a Salt Lake City Bee outfielder dropped a flyball that ended up being a double and yet another error.  The Bees definitely need some time off.  The teams traded solo homers in the second.  Jabari Blash hit the one for the Chihuahuas.  A little girl joined Tim in the booth from Chico’s Kid’s Club.  She called Tim, “Sir,” the entire time.

Franchy Cordero hit a two-run homer in the third.  He also got on in the fifth after a bad throw to first after a strikeout (another Bee error) and scored on a grounder.  4-1 Chihuahuas.  In the seventh, the Bees sent out Damien Magnifico to pitch.  I doubt I could have called this inning without snickering.  He wasn’t magnificent (I’m sure he’s never heard that one before in his career), but only allowed a run, in spite ample opportunity to give up more.

The Chihuahuas would win 5-2.  Brian Rodriguez had a good, quality outing for the win.  That’s a three-game sweep of the division leader, putting the pups only five games out of first.  (Unfortunately, they still have a losing record.)  The game came in in a very tidy two hours and 19 minutes.  I almost think there was a kangaroo court rule in effect for the game for the players.  Any at bat going over four pitches or any walks given up would be punished.  

Rangers versus Angels.  I haven’t seen or heard these guys all week.  Eric Nadel has apparently taken off this Sunday, but I’m happy to hear Matt Hicks doing most of the commentary.  On the other hand, I got to hear plenty of him and, co-host Jared Sandler, as the Yu Darvish worked at a snail’s pace.  The Angels’ pitcher wasn’t any better.  Matt told a long story about the third base coach’s uncle.  It was so long, I wasn’t sure the game was still going on.  Matt later speculated on the first meeting between the Aaron Judge and the Yankees and Brandon Drury and the D-Backs, thus we’d have “Judge and Drury.”  Maybe the heat there was affecting everyone.  Regrettably, the game itself was worse.  It was a 3-0 Angels win, and it wasn’t that close.

In more interesting games, the Astros beat the Blue Jays 19-1.  It’s obvious which team started the All-Star break early.  Jon Lester surrendered 10 runs without getting three outs in the first inning in the Cubs’ 14-3 defeat at the hands of the Pirates.  I did say something about the Cub’s pitching being their Achilles’ heel at the beginning of the season.  Kyle Freeland threw 8 1/3 hitless innings in a 10-0 win for the Rockies over the White Sox.  That’s a really good sign.  Unfortunately, the Dodgers are starting to run away with the NL West.  And with that, we go to the break and the All-Star game.  

Friday, July 7, 2017

Baseball Journal July 3-4, 2017

I was still probably a bit wore out from the day before and wasn’t entirely paying attention to the games today.  That was a mistake.  I missed out on most of the Rangers/Red Sox game on ESPN.  It was 2-2 when I’d last checked the score.  When I finally turned it on in the sixth, of course the Red Sox had just scored three runs.  An error by Roughned Odor was given the blame.  ESPN was doing “goat cam” on Ruggie for the rest of the game.

In the seventh, Jason Grilli came out in relief for the Rangers.  He’s a new addition to the club.  Grilli came in with a head full of steam and left after a scoreless inning, fired up.  That must have inspired the team a bit.  They scored in the eighth to bring the score to 5-4 Red Sox.  Another ESPN storyline was the un-touch-ability of Red Sox closer, Craig Kimbrel.  There was even a recent Sports Illustrated article about how great he is.  In the ninth, Mike Napoli homered off him to tie the game.  I was out of the room at the time, but I’m sure the announcers had plenty of excuses for this deviation from their storyline.

Unfortunately in the eleventh, Ernesto Frieri coughed up two runs to the Red Sox.  The Rangers couldn’t mount another comeback.  7-5 Red Sox was the final in front of a packed house in Arlington.  At least they probably got fireworks afterward, and there were some happy Sox fans there.

The MLB Network was doing some live coverage of games in progress.  They picked up the Royals versus the Mariners late.  Royal Mike Moustakas hit a monster home run, which I missed.  Moose will be at the Home Run Derby.  I forgot to check on who else was going to be going.  Joakim Soria got the save for the Royals in a 3-1 win.  Soria quick-pitched the last batter for a strikeout.  The batter and Soria were trading words, when the network suddenly skipped over to a game I didn’t care about.

“Buss is in the driver’s seat,” Tim Hagerty slipped that into one of Nick Buss’ at bats.  Shame.  Shame.  I found myself not listening for much of the rest of the Chihuahuas’ game because of that, but it turned into a pretty good contest.  The pups fell behind to the Aces, then got ahead, then blew it in the ninth to go to extras.  9,900 fans (an awesome crowd) wanted their fireworks show, not more baseball.  Thankfully, it didn’t go long.  In the bottom of the tenth, the Chihuahuas loaded the bases with two outs.  Franchy Cordero beat out an infield single to win the game, 6-5.  I’m sure the crowd wasn’t too unhappy about having to wait a bit since the team won in a walk off.

I suppose the big sports news of the day was the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest.  The winner, Joey Chestnut, ate 72 in 10 minutes, a record.  I didn’t see it, but I talked to a co-worker yesterday who was looking forward to seeing it.  To show solidarity with this the event (and because I’d read a fun article in Sports Illustrated about hot dogs recently), I went to 5 Guys for hot dog myself.  I brought it home and put chili (a nearly unforgivable omission from their menu of toppings) and cheese on it.  The real revelation was their milkshake.  I noticed that they have a caramel and sea salt flavor and, oh boy, is it very, very awesome.

The matchup was at least good between Yu Darvish and the Rangers versus David Price and the Red Sox.  Eric Nadel quickly lost patience with Price’s slow-working routine, as he described it in detail.  Darvish doesn’t exactly pitch like his car is sitting at a parking meter either.  I found myself losing it with the game by the fifth as the Sox went up 7-0.  Plenty of highlights for the Red Sox tonight, but I could care less.  11-4 Red Sox was the final.  At least the large crowd at Arlington got a fireworks show afterward.      

As the signal dropped on my Rangers’ station, I switched to hear the start of the Chihuahuas game.  Tim Hagerty reported that the starting temperature tonight in Las Vegas was 107 degrees.  In spite of that, there was a large, enthusiastic crowd there for the 51’s.  The Chihuahuas announced a bullpen day and started reliever, Adam Cimber.  All he did was throw 6 and 2/3 innings and give up one run (that came in via the next reliever), and he hit a triple.

The pups’ offense took care of the rest, scoring three in the third and then a Jabari Blash two-run homer in the eighth.  “Chihuahuas’ folk hero,” as Tim described him, Cody Decker came into the game as a pinch hitter for the 51’s.  I admit, since there was nobody on base at the time, I was rooting for him to hit a home run.  It didn’t happen this time.  The bottom of the ninth gave the fans there something to cheer about.  It was 5-1 and two outs, but the bases were loaded from three walks, but the potential tying run struck out to end the game.  At least the large crowd got a fireworks show afterward.  I think I’ll end all of my game summaries with that line from now on.  Sheesh.  Like watching some explosions will make losing feel better.

On that note, one of my other co-workers and his girlfriend went in Los Angeles this week.  Their main planned activity was going to the Dodgers/D-Backs game tonight.  Mostly, they just wanted to see the fireworks show afterward, as neither of them cares about baseball.  While I wait for my co-worker’s report, I’ll assume that this big NL West matchup didn’t interest them, nor did Clayton Kershaw taking a no-hitter into the seventh of this game.  They might have had some interest in the D-Backs mounting a ninth inning comeback, but only because it was delaying the fireworks.  4-3 Dodgers.  Given my dislike of the Dodgers, I said, “No souvenirs.”  A couple of days later it occurred to me that I would have liked a program anyway.  Damn.