Sunday was my first opportunity to get to the ballpark in 2012, so I grabbed a friend, put on some summery clothes and headed to Sox Park for Jackie Robinson Day!
I’ve seen some great baseball on Jackie Robinson Days past, all of which were pitchers duels (my drug of choice), but with a Rick Porcello v. Chris Sale matchup looming, I wasn’t expecting much. The pair would end up surprising me, but that wasn’t all:
- This was the FIRST April baseball game in Chicago I have ever attended where a hat, gloves and scarf were not needed. No joke. I was in a t-shirt. Sweating at times.
- Miggy can play D. I hung two stars on my scorecard for him, including a barehanded grab-and-throw that nailed a speedy Alexei Ramirez at first.
- I understand the importance of Jackie Robinson Day and all, but is it necessary that EVERY player and EVERY coach wears the same number 42? It is a scorecard junkie’s worst nightmare! Every time I looked up I had no idea who was doing what.
- And those ugly throwback ’72 Sunday home game red-pinstriped White Sox unis didn’t last past the 70s for a reason. They are HIDEOUS. Throw them out! Along with Alex Rios!
- It was a day game. Sure it was a bit overcast, but there was sunlight. Plenty of it. But that didn’t stop the White Sox personnel from turning ALL the stadium lights on like it was a night game! There was WAAAAY too much light. WASTED light! I know ‘Merica is a nation of excess, but good grief.
- Despite the new uniform, Prince Fielder is still fat.
Hate me ‘cuz I take tedious notes, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right!
One reason why I’ll never tire of my inanimate life partner (her name is baseball) is because every time I watch a game, I have the chance to see something I’ve never seen before. Or, as was the case Wednesday night at Sox Park, I might see 18 somethings I’ve never seen before.
The Yankees were in town. My buddy Mike had sweet tickets on the 100 level. And I was craving the sort of breeze only Adam Dunn’s wiff-n-miss bat can provide.
It didn’t take long for the game to get out of hand. In fact, the game STARTED with something I have NEVER seen before: back-to-back bunt basehits, thanks to Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter.
In fact, Jeter went 5 for 6 in the game, only the fourth time he has ever collected five hits in one game (the third being his epic 3K performance just last month) and yes, that’s something I’ve never seen before.
I have also never seen a White Sox pitcher (Brian Bruney) enter a game, record ZERO outs, give up 2 hits and 2 earned runs and still not be the worst performer of the night. Like my buddy Mike said: “When you put Will Ohman in in the third, it’s already a disaster.”
And, of course, nothing spells disaster like the 2011 version of Adam Dunn.
But hark! Baseball games always offer something new; and I hadn’t been to a Sox game all season where Adam Dunn didn’t strike out at least once, BUT, lo and behold, Dunn went 1 for 4 with NO strikeouts! Hallelujah! Champagne for errrrrrrybody!
Dude still can’t hit an 11-run homer though. At this moribund point, I’m thinking that might be the only thing that could save his career.
But that stopped around May.
They are just an infuriating lot to watch play baseball.
“All in” my @$$.
Besides Chinatown flea markets and the out-of-this-world chili at Ramova Grill, the best part about living on the Southside of Chicago is having the White Sox play in my own backyard.
Because as a Cardinals fan far removed from my old Busch Stadium stomping grounds, I know I can always find good, learned, baseball-lovin’ folk at New Comiskey (only newbies and yuppies call it The Cell — so I’m told).
And on Monday night, Southsiders came out to the park in droves. It was hot. It was humid. The rain was coming down hard. But Mark Buehrle was on the mound and it’s no secret that White Sox fans love them some Mark Buehrle. Over 36,000 people came out to see him duel the Royals’ Brian Bannister… yes, 36,000! On a Monday night. With an hour long rain delayed start. Against the Royals.
Now that, dear readers, is some serious dedication.
Perhaps the influx of fans was due to the high hopes of a pitcher’s duel.
Well, we didn’t get it.
‘Cuz when Yuniesky Betancourt goes yard, you know the pitching ain’t so great.
Indeed, it was a back and forth battle throughout, until the Sox broke it open in the 7th inning and appeared to have the game in hand.
But Scott Linebrink seemed focused on tempting the Royals’ scouts, who seem to go after the poorest of performers. Yes, Linebrink’s Kyle Farnsworth impression was brilliantly played by blowing a 3 run lead in the 8th on a Mike Jacobs rocket launch over the right field wall.
Fade to black?
Not so fast. Alex Rios walked to start the bottom of the 8th. Scott Podsednik continued his 2005 renaissance with a go-ahead run-scoring double… and then later Ozzie Guillen brought in the Fat Man to seal the deal.
Sure, it was a great game and all… but the whole time I couldn’t take my eyes off the guy sitting in front of me:
Don’t hate ’em ‘cuz they’re right.
Don’t believe me? Just ask Kevin Gregg.
Obviously, dear readers, this year is no exception.
Stumbling home at 4:30 in the morning, it took a good twenty minutes of frustration before I realized I was trying to get inside my neighbor’s building instead of mine. Whoops. No wonder the key wouldn’t work.
Quizzing myself on what actually happened the night before — piecing quipped memories together one by one to reassemble reality — is the basic tenet of any three-day weekend. Like, did the Cardinals’ Todd Wellemeyer really throw six-plus scoreless innings last night? Indeed. Did Nancy Pelosi actually run out of things to say? You betcha. Did I really overhear the following conversation at the bar last night?
Pretentious Woman #1: I had the Pinot. He had the Shiraz.
Pretentious Woman #2: I didn’t know they served wine at the Cell.
Pretentious Woman #1: They do. In our section anyway.
Pretentious Woman #2: I’ll have to try that next time.
Pretentious Woman #1: Yeah, I mean, what else you gonna do? Watch the game? Ha!
Yes, folks, such tragedy is not made up.
You wanna drink wine? Fine. Go ahead. Nothing wrong with that; but I don’t care who you are, the ballpark ain’t no place for wine.
Or maybe I’m still languishing over John C. Reilly’s intriguingly accurate characterization of me at last year’s Memorial Day cookout:
I may be no angel, but I do know that there is a time and place for everything.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Pope Benedict XVI’s Good Friday address was what most of us expected it to be: warming, inviting, aggressive. And since my esteemed secular colleague, Mr. Krause, already achieved his annual civic duty of offending the Catholic church, I will refrain from continuing such questioning threads… except to say: WHAT?!?!
Acknowledging the world’s escalating progressive temperature towards logic and science, the Pope warned the masses that Western society is currently collapsing into “a desert of godlessness”.
I think not.
Admittedly, I am not your typical religious type; yet I do have the propensity to ponder the existence of higher powers. One need only examine the current state of the greatest game on earth to realize that indeed, something “other” is at work:
Kyle Farnsworth still has a job.
J.P. Ricciardi still has a job.
And Bartolo Colon is pitching today.
Yes, dear readers. Today, Comiskey is my church, Colon is my vehicle and baseball is my savior.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
As Mr. Lung’s elder by some 12 days, it often falls to me to provide discipline when he goes off on his wild rants. However, I ask you the reader to please remember that I do this out of love; not because I want to but because I have to. And as my parents always used to say, this is hurting me more than it’s hurting you.
Where to begin? How about with the fact that Target’s interest in the game of baseball just shows how healthy the sport is today. After strike shortened seasons and steroid tainted stars, the game has reached ever greater levels of popularity. The willingness of big corporations like Target to put their name on a stadium just shows how far baseball has come. The legions of JDs, MBAs and PR men who have to put their stamp of approval on an undertaking like this means that these same corporations now have a stake in what happens to the game. They don’t want to see it fail any more than we do.
Going beyond that, corporate advertising has always been a part of the game. Wrigley Field got its name as much from the company as it did from the team owner who funded its construction. And I bet that if you could go back in time, you’d find that even the Roman coliseum was sponsored by some local entity. Maximus’ Chariots or something like that. As I’ve mentioned before in these pages, baseball, like all sports, is a business and in business you have to make money. If you don’t, you go the way of Lehman Brothers.
Now I’ll admit that baseball owners (along with owners of other sport franchises) get a pretty sweet deal. The team and the owners usually only have to front a small part of the tab and the city, state and county tend to get stuck with the rest. But once you figure in tax revenues, increased tourism and the implicit commitment from the team that they’re going to stick around, I don’t think you’ll find many people complaining. I’ll say it again. Baseball is a business and advertising is part of business. Corporations like Target, Comerica Bank and U.S. Cellular are just doing what they do best: looking at the demographics and then advertising to them in the best way possible.
However, I have to say at the end of the day, I love Target. I was there just this past weekend to pick up odds and ends for so much cheaper than it would cost to buy them at my local CVS. Maybe Target exploits its workers but compared to Wal-Mart and the fast food joints, they aren’t doing so bad. The only real problem is that it’s really hard to get the smell of children’s sweat out of the stuff I buy there. That’s the price of capitalism.