Saturday, August 29, 2009

Yankees 10, White Sox 0

For at least the third time this season, I wasn't all that jazzed about hiking up for today's game. My original plan was to bring the boy for Calculator Day, but he's been kinda croupy (croupie?) lately. Plus, I just bought him a flip-style calculator at Staples the other day.
I was still home twiddling my thumbs at around 12:30, occasionally clicking weather forecasts and nursing a Diet Mountain Dew. Finally I said "Fuck it," and headed up to the Stadium (as opposed to saying "Fuck it," and staying home).

My only ideas for dealing with the boredom/agony of a Sergio Mitre start and potential rain delay were (1) taking two Ambiens and working on the Saturday puzzle, or (2) keeping a running account of things and working on the Saturday puzzle. [I'm only now realizing that choice (3), namely both (1) and (2) at the same time, would have been by far the best idea.]

Here's option (2), at least for a few innings:

1:20 - The usual lady at my beer booth greeted me this time with, "Another Guinness?" even though I just walked into the Stadium.

1:23 - I'm nurturing a tiny little "Hey, who knows what might happen up here today?!" feeling in my gut, even though I ended up taking two Advils instead of sleeping pills. Teixeira and A-Rod strike out to end the inning.

1:32 - I love this kind of weather for baseball: cool and misty, like Niagara Falls. Reminds me of so many blissfully drunk baseball games with my wife, even though I don't think we had such a great time when we went to Niagara Falls.

1:35 - Just noticed that the team pennants (in order of standings) are completely different than they used to be at the old Stadium. Now they're arranged semi-cirularly around the top along the home plate side (I think they used to be along the very top of the bleacher wall). They may have also added some new flags-- The first four I see are (1) the United States flag, (2) a black P.O.W. flag, (3) a purple flag of some kind, perhaps an Excelsior state flag, and (4) the Italian national flag. I'm not sure about (4); I'll look into it at some point.

1:37 - Again, the rainy weather's totally reminding me of the Mz... I hope that's not weird.

1:40 - I'm sitting next to a guy (Yankee hat) with his girlfriend (Red Sox hat)-- he's got that embarassed-but-hey-we're-both-just-really-big-baseball-fans look on his face. Not to be confused with the why-the-hell-did-I-ever-agree-to-any-of-this look.

1:41 - Cano gets a well-deserved round of applause before his first at bat of the game.

1:44 - I've always been fascinated by White Sox fans, mainly because I'd never in my life met an actual White Sox fan until a few years ago (a little before their championship). Kinda like being fascinated by Pygmies or hammerhead sharks, I guess.

1:46 - I may have been wrong about the Red Sox girlfriend-- she's been fiddling around with what appear to be brand new (and uncomfortable) sandals for the entire game. Now she's eating an ice cream sundae out of a little plastic Yankee hat. Bandwagon fan!!! Assholes!!!

1:47 - Jose Contreras is getting whacked around a bit here in the 2nd inning. Having this guy pitch for your team is like having a light fixture in your house that only works 15% of the time (which we happen to have in the back of our apartment).

1:50 - Here comes the second Red Sox hat of the afternoon, this time on the head of a small child. Children under the age of six, the elderly, and the severly disabled are the only Boston fans I excuse from harassment. I once spit on the back of a female college student wearing a Sox hat on Broadway. Gimme a break, it was the morning after game 7 of the 2004 ALCS...

1:55 - Hilarious... Alex Rios hails from "Coffee, AL" according to the Yankee scoreboard, as in
"Coffee, Al?"
"Sure, Flo."

1:58 - A guy sitting next to me (not the Sox girl's boyfriend) just asked me who I'm reporting for-- I guess I've been scribbling on scraps of paper. What I should have said was, "I write for I'm cataloguing the underage titties in the Stadium today." What I actually said was, "I write for a sports blog."

2:03 - Robinson Cano... he's so hot right now.

2:05 - The guys next to me asked if I'm "writing in shorthand." Nobody can read my note-taking handwriting, occasionally including myself.
2:10 - I came to the rather embarassing realization yesterday morning that EVERY pair of white socks I own contains at least one major hole. This is like finding out that your entire CD collection is scratched; first sorrow, then suspicion. How could this possibly happen?

2:12 - Can we now safely say that Mitre is pitching brilliantly? Maybe I'll loudly exclaim, "Mitre is pitching brilliantly," to no one in particular.

2:13 - No reaction at all from anyone.

2:16 - Absolutely no doubt in my mind that Jeter's astounding season is a direct result of the anti-Jeter sentiments expressed by Bill Simmons near the beginning of this season.

2:20 - Man, that was funny-- might be tough to explain. The guy sitting right behind me (not from NY) just responded to a vendor's cry of "Peanuts!!!?" with a query of his own, "Are the peanuts salted?!" The vendor let out a sideways "Nah," and winged a sack of nuts at the guys from about 10 rows down. The bag was way short and splashed into a puddle of water/beer/soda two rows in front of the customer. The transaction came to an awkward halt, until the guy crawled down and retrieved the nuts. He then paid for his unsalted snack.

2:30 - I just saw a "Different House, Same Result" t-shirt... isn't it a bit too soon for that one?

2:32 - Well, there goes Mitre's no-hitter. I'm going to take a piss.

I left pretty much right after this. Yes, I'll forever be known as the guy that left early during the Mitre-Gaudin one-hitter. I think I can live with that.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"In play, run(s)"

As many of you already know, the Mz & I have been without cable for (almost exactly!) a year now. Our decision to "snip the wire" sprang from several events last summer:

1) It became apparent that the Noggin channel provided Jr. with pacification and stimulation far superior to anything we could possibly provide. I was also showing signs of addiction to the program Oswald.

2) We had brunch with some friends who cancelled their cable years ago. They seemed perfectly happy and normal.

3) There was no way the Yankees were making the playoffs.

So we did the unthinkable. TV was officially and irrevocably out of our lives. It took me about 7 minutes to completely catalog the channels we still got from Time Warner (not bad, actually: the basics plus TNT (long gone), TBS (lost it about two weeks ago), CSPAN2 (?!), and other odds & ends).

So how does one get by when one roots for the best team in Major League Baseball and can't watch the fucking games? Of course I see the games I actually attend, plus the channel 9 games and the dreaded Fox games, but that don't add up to much. How exactly does one get by?

Like a castaway developing a taste for raw starfish, I actually enjoy the MLB Gameday service. Pretty much all the major sports have something like this going on, but this one really might be the best. It certainly beats the hell out of ESPN's awful MLB Gamecast, which is about as exciting as watching a ballgame out the window of an airplane.

Here's an example of how Gameday expertly builds suspense for the viewer: note the "In play, run(s)" in Jeter's result column. We don't really know what happened now, do we?! I mean, we know Jeter knocked in at least one run, obviously (I sure hope so-- bases loaded, no outs), but was it a single? Grand slam? Double play? Those 5 or 6 seconds of anticipation are indescribable-- you know something good has happened, and the only question is just how good is it? Quite different from the 5 or 6 seconds of anticipation you get when you're tuned in to WCBS 880 and Sterling's not sure if the ball's out of the park, foul, or caught.

Here's another one. "In play, no out" is good, but no run(s) were scored or else it would've said "In play, run(s)"... get it? If symbolic logic wasn't your strong suit in college, you should probably just stick with Michael Kay.

Gameday also allows you to control the perspective of the "camera" on the "batter." The first shot here gives you the best possible view of Derek Jeter's ass available to the general public.
I prefer this next one, which I developed one stoney night at the computer. Here, our sight line originates about fifty feet underground somewhere out past second base. The brown disc-outline is actually the pitcher's mound, as seen from beneath. In this particular case, I saw the mound as a giant spaceship visiting Yankee Stadium with the sole purpose of abducting Nick Swisher before he could strike out or hit into a double play.

Check out the graphic display of tension here for Hairston's epic 12-pitch at bat and eventual walk. I'll take this over the idiotic "pitch-by-pitch" garbage they peddle on TV any day of the week (except Saturdays, when I usually get to watch the game on TV).
Plus you get the awesome spattering of red strikes & green balls. My main complaint here is that you don't get a special graphic when the batter is drilled by a pitch... some kind of splotch or throbbing circle would be great. Might be enough to make me want to watch Joba Chamberlain pitch on MLB Gameday!

Gameday isn't without its quirks and annoyances. Circled in blue down below is a shiny, juicy button that no human could possibly resist pushing, especially when it promises to deliver digital footage of Mark Teixeira driving home two runs. All you get is a prompt asking you to sign up (and pay) for Gameday Premium service.

Under that, circled in red, is an "Injury Delay" update message. Who got injured? What happened?! Usually we never know.

Underlined in green is a perfectly clear, unambigous and unsurprising piece of news.
Sometimes Gameday does weird shit, like this message "Pitcher Change: Jason Jennings replaces Jason Jennings." If I had a dime for every time I wanted to replace a pitcher with a better version of himself!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Win Some, Lose Some

Another one of those fun-filled blog diaries of Fox's Saturday afternoon coverage. I don't think I'll last too long here, as Jr. should be waking up somewhere around the 4th inning.

4:10 - Well, Junichi "Lunchmeat" Tazawa is off to a somewhat shaky start. Fox's Sprint Pitcher Profile didn't have much info except "must have pinpoint accuracy" or something like that.
4:17 - Tim McCarver just made the first of what will surely be many dumb Japan jokes.
4:22 - They're talking about Burnett's rocky relationship with Jorge... have any of our good pitchers actually gotten along with Jorge?
4:24 - Well, A. J. Burnett's off to a somewhat shaky start. I'm guessing 15+ total runs today.
4:27 - PLEEEEEAAAAASSSSE nail Ortiz in the fucking neck... or at least the ribs. Don't ask questions, just do it!
4:29 - Ortiz slaps a double into left. See?? Just do it!
4:31 - I was really hoping Jeter would show up in a Manny-style wig for his first at-bat today. Jim Rice is such a fucking idiot.
4:36 - I read somebody talking about Pedroia and Youkilis being real "throwback" players. Evolutionary throwbacks, perhaps? A small tidepool was struck by lightning, filling the prehistoric cave with ion-charged ozone...
4:40 - Figures-- the one time Jorge actually goes 1st to 3rd, Cano lollygags his way on and off the basepaths.
4:42 - Eric Hinske's kind of a neanderthal version of the King of Queens guy, if that's possible.
4:48 - I'm reading The Bad Guys Won! by Jeff Pearlman (great material, lousy writing)... the PE consumption of the '04 Sox was probably a miniscule fraction of the booze, coke, speed and nicotine swallowed up by the '86 Mets.
4:55 - Carl Crawford better steal a few tonight.
4:56 - McCarver just shared some dumb anecdote about Pedroia having the "look of a winner." How about the look of a scumbag?
4:57 - Man, Burnett's tough to watch when he stinks like this. Can we please win one of these stupid fucking Fox games?
5:00 - Jorge's "conference" with Burnett really seemed to work... Youkilis just ripped one ovah the Monstah.
5:01 - Wow, that makes eighteen runs allowed by Burnett at Fenway this season.
5:10 - Shit, Jr.'s up.

The boy made it pretty darn clear that he didn't want to watch this crappy game, and I agreed. We watched Peppa Pig and did some word processing instead. This was one of Jr.'s more inspired works; reverent yet open to sudden bursts of inspiration:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"The wheels on the bus go... BLEECCCCHHH!!!"

Our trip down South in July pretty much obliterated any talk of further vacations this summer. Not that it wasn't fun (it was!), but it was just, um... exhausting.

One would think that a jaunt out to Long Island to see the folks would be peanuts compared to our Memphis trip, right? Hardly a "vacation" and barely even a "trip."

Let's analyze this one the way they do with other disasters, like Three Mile Island or Chernobyl:

1) I didn't pack flip-flops or sunscreen. In fact, I didn't even pack socks or an extra t-shirt. You could say that I didn't bother to pack at all.
2) I forgot it was Wednesday, which means there are no alternate side parking restrictions on our block. This is bad, because I timed the trip to take advantage of late morning spots right before street cleaning.
3) The Mz. took the boy up to Starbucks right before we left, causing him to become sweaty and irritable, or "hot and bothered."
4) The ZipCar we rented was littered with old snacks.
5) Totally unconfirmed, but it's possible that I fed Jr. expired yogurt that morning. I don't think so, but it's possible.
6) Since I was double parked, the Mz. & boy had to watch the car (they really fucking ticket on our block) while I sherpa'ed our gear out.
7) I hadn't even touched the new car seat since Memphis, so it still fit the boy as poorly as it did then; probably worse.
8) It was about 145 degrees outside.
9) I put the seat in behind the passenger side, instead of the driver side. This meant that Jr. caught the sun right in the face the entire trip.

OK, not exactly a perfect storm, but I'm just trying to understand what exactly happened here. Nothing out of the ordinary to start with... we wrestled and stuffed Jr. into the car seat and drove away. He didn't seem real happy, but who could blame the kid? He basically bitched and moaned from Harlem to the Northern State.

Musta been around exit 38 when Jr. started puking his fucking guts out. This kid hasn't really puked since his onesie days, so it was a bit startling. As we all know, babies "spit up," which is absolutely no big deal at all and not much different than dabbing up spilled salad dressing at the steak house. I am in no way averse to cleaning up my son's spit-up.

This was a completely different thing-- "big boy throw-up" you might call it. I call it "your asshole friend from college blew chunks all over my fucking back seat." I almost thought I could smell buffalo wings and Bacardi, but that's obviously impossible. The shit was everywhere, and it smelled like death itself.

Of course the kid's bawling his eyes out, and Mz. is scrambling for anything absorbent. I was busy making mistake #10:
10) I got off the Parkway and made a beeline for a stretch of road with unspeakable traffic and nowhere to turn off whatsoever (Jericho Tpk next to the Oyster Bay Golf Course).

After sitting in dead-stop traffic for the temporal equivalent of seventeen panic attacks, we balied out and turned off into a very rich and very private little cul-de-sac. We set up a mini-camp on somebody's exquisite side-lawn and stripped the boy down. I was on "brain detail," sopping up puke particles off the car seat and elsewhere. When the dust settled we had a reasonably clean kid, a backseat that stunk to Gehenna itself, and a huge pile of baby wipes on somebody's perfect lawn. I snuck around the side and dumped it in what was seriously the cleanest, nicest garbage can I've ever seen.

The car seat was unusable at this point, so Mz. held the kid in her lap as I slalomed down Jericho and tried to remember all (or any) of the good shortcuts we used to take when we drove drunk in high school. I stuck with the one easy one and got us home in reasonable time. We pulled in to my folks' place late for lunch and smelling like puke (also like high school). Our Pulp Fiction tribute continued as we hosed off and made wisecracks for a while.

The rest of our visit (which was really the visit, since all the sicko shit happened before we even got there) was pretty uneventful, highlighted by tasty porkchops and a late-night snoozer of a Yankee game. The boy walked right into the side of our car door (perpendicularly), putting a dent right down the middle of his face. He also pitched a fairly violent fit when we tried to drive him over to Sunken Meadow park this morning, which I completely understood. Continuing with the "drunk college friend" analogy, putting that kid back in his pukey car seat would be like making the fictional puker a Tabasco & 151 omelet for breakfast the next morning. We were lucky to get him home at all today, especially when you throw in a mandatory Ikea stop mid-voyage.

I'm supposed to take Jr. to next weekend's game for Calculator Day, although I'm having second thoughts. Maybe September's Soup Bowl Night will be a better fit.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Hurt Locker

Decided to hit the movies this afternoon. I've always been a complete sucker for going to flicks by myself, especially in the afternoon. No worrying about where to sit ("is this too close?" or "Can you see OK?"), no need to justify a crappy movie ("Wow, Clive Owen is usually really good..."), and no danger of being too stoned ("Did you just say something?").

I should first mention our recent couples' outing to see The Hangover. A totally fun night and a totally fun movie, which wouldn't have been that fun to see by myself. I wanted to write a whole big thing about the movie, but that idea ran out of steam pretty fast. I did have a pretty good thing about "people that don't like this movie are the kind of people that get disappointed with the quality of their order at McDonald's" and not much more than that.

i tried real hard to remember the previews this time around, but I'm not sure I got all six:
1) An awful looking Liam Neeson joint with Laura Linney and Antonio Banderas that had to flaunt its many award nominees (not winners!) to even have a prayer of getting people to come. It seemed like a remake of the horrible Taken, which should never even be discussed, let alone remade.
2) The Road. I've been dreading this one ever since I heard about it, given the fact that it's a brilliant book that could never properly go to screen. If it were properly made into a film, people would run (or possibly stagger) out of the theater in absolute terror-- it's that mortifying. Instead we've got Charlize Theron running around in the woods, which isn't scary at all.
3) A ridiculous Final Destination-style movie, which I'm pretty sure is called Sorority Row (I should know, 'cause it was also part of The Hangover's previews).

4) The new Scorsese movie, which looks like loads of fun. Leo's got some ridiculous accent and supernatural forces may be in play. I hadn't heard about this one yet.
5) Something about a fat girl from the projects... "Precious" something-or-other. Looks fantastic and moving.

Oh yeah, The Hurt Locker. I loved it. Truth is, I was so happy to be out that I would've loved just about anything. Features Dahmer from Dahmer with a little more meat on his bones, and "Papa Doc" from 8 Mile. Kinda silly cameos by Guy Pearce, the blond guy from St. Elsewhere, and Ralph Fiennes, who is happened upon in the middle of the desert with a bunch of guys from The Constant Gardner (a thoroughly confusing twist).

They should make at least twenty times as many films about Iraq as are currently being made... how else are we supposed to know what the hell has really gone on over there? I know I'd make an honest effort to see at least 75% of them.

We have plans to see Inglourious Basterds this week out in Long Island.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Karaoke 101

Thinking about trying karaoke for the first time? Or do you just plain suck at it? Here are some tips, followed by things to watch out for:

You should:

1. Rent Duets from Netflix.

2. Have at least five drinks (alcoholic, of your choice).

3. Never ask your friends "How did I sound?"

4. Beware of...

The Audible
- You submit a slam-dunk song that no KJ would refuse (something like "When Doves Cry") and switch slips to something more obscure at the moment your name is called (maybe "Dolphins" or "Wichita Lineman"). Most effective during prime time (midnight?).

Taching Out - Attempting something foolishly out of your range ("Head Games" or anything off Frontiers) and shredding your voice to the point of abandonment.

The Inversion - (probably a misnomer) Pitching down a song so far that it's actually pitched up. My friend did this with "Jump". Also known as a "wraparound".

Mistaken Identity - A different song with the same name gets played instead of the one you wanted, such as Roberta Flack's "Feel Like Makin' Love" instead of BadCo. I've been burned several times trying to get "Ignition (Remix)" and getting the crappy version instead.

The Set-Up - Secretly putting in a song for a friend that doesn't want to sing at all, especially in a social situation dictating that your friend must get up there. I did this to my buddy with "Kaw-Liga" once (I don't remember what happened).

The Endless Solo - Getting stuck singing a song with a giant solo/instrumental section in the middle, and having to come back in for vocals before the end ("Light My Fire", "Stairway to Heaven", etc.).

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Yankees 5, Red Sox 0

What a wonderful day for a baseball game. Jr. was taking a nap, 75 degrees, no plans-- so I grabbed the Mz and we headed up to the Bronx. Yes, we got a fucking babysitter!

I'm assuming nobody out there will be turning down invitations to join me at a Yanks-Sox game anymore because I'm "bad luck"... let's cancel that shit right now. If I have a little time tonight, I'll dig up my all-time stats at home against Boston (I won't include my 3-1 record at Fenway).

I'll also note that my behavior during CC's perfect/no-no stretch yesterday was beyond reproach. It's possible that I cost Mike Mussina his perfect game at Fenway by drunkenly (and blindly-- I forgot my glasses) cavorting around the bleachers saying things like, "Hey, did he walk anybody yet?" I sat like a statue and said virtually nothing, ignoring all calls and texts (except the babysitter looking for coffee filters) until Ellsbury's hit.

We obviously enjoyed the game. Also nice not drinking gallons of beer and running up and down the grandstand like a fool. I once went almost an entire season in the bleachers without drinking (yes, before the beer ban) and had a great damn time. I'll get back to you on this one.

Again, we have a state-of-the-art scoreboard that shows 50-foot pictures of Kevin Youkilis's face.

Highlight of the afternoon was a guy out in front of the Stadium playing the Yes network theme song on his clarinet. I almost gave him ten bucks. Instead I gave the ten bucks to the popcorn lady inside.

I gotta sound off about this Josh Hamilton story. Turns out the guy had a wild night in Tempe, AZ way back in January. According to reports, he "became drunk" and was involved in "lurid poses" with "several women, not including his wife" (at first I thought that meant that his wife was actually there, but he just wasn't posing luridly with her). This photo completely backs up the story:

We all know about J-Ham's struggles with booze, drugs, (religion?) and other ills of society. We also know about his remarkable comeback last year, which peaked with a spectacular HR Derby display at the old Yankee Stadium (not to mention wreaking total havoc on our baseball pool for a period of time). Facing the horrific gauntlet of press apologies, opposing fans, and (I imagine) his wife, the man simply came out and explained the situation openly and honestly.

I happen to know a little bit about what this guy's going through right now. I was involved in an unfortunate situation a while back where similar photos leaked out of yours truly celebrating a grueling series of studio sessions in Frankfurt. The photo below has made plenty of orbits in cyberspace-- I'll spare you (and myself) some of the other ones. I know that Googling "kebab mazzola naked" and "monkey prostitute germany" used to hit a few of the more "lurid" photos, but those are long gone.

Anyway, I also had to own up to magazines and my professional community about the shocking photos. Turned out that other session guys didn't really give a shit (at least not in Germany), and the fanzines left it alone after a few weeks as well. I actually almost got a Jagermeister endorsement out of the whole affair, but that fell through after one of their reps saw that photo with the girls and the shuffleboard chalk, which I guess crossed some sort of line.

I guess these kinds of things are just among the many prices that come with celebrity. Or maybe celebrity is just the price of being really fucked up all the time.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Yankees 13, Red Sox 6

Hats off to Heath Bieferman for taking me to tonight's blowout in the Bronx. I guess it was a "Heath's-birthday/jeez-we-haven't-been-to-a-game-in-a-while/Yanks-are-fucking-due" kind of event.
It's possible that I've seen the Yankees beat Boston more often than not, but it sure doesn't feel that way. That's why Heath's gesture was so kind-- a bit like bringing a broken mirror with you to bingo night. Maybe I'll actually bring a broken mirror on Saturday, even if it might be tough to get past security.

We've heard a million times about how the new Stadium's "not the same" as the old. No shit!!! Anyway, tonight's game was certainly tamer than usual for Boston. I guess the excitement starts to fade after the hundredth or so game in 5 years. Throw in the fact that the games are minimum four hours a pop, and we're talking about some serious face time together.

The razzing of Ortiz was an inevitable letdown (he wasn't showered with syringes), but still kinda fun. He stranded nine runners, and looked terrible doing so. Safe to say Big Papi won't be horsing around in the dugout with styrofoam cups on his ears anytime soon...

Seats were great, except for the jackass standing almost directly in front of me for two innings. I guess he was buddies with the cop in our section (whose uniform was decorated more like a pilot than a police officer), which apparently gave him the right to stand in front of people and step on their feet every 5 minutes or so. I was about to say something (oooh, how brave of me!) when the jerk finally moved and sat in his seat about 10 feet away!! Ugh.

Still not sure what was going on with Posada's getting thrown out at home (Jorge just might catch Wang on the "Worst Yankee baserunners" list, which would make him a genuinely awful baserunner.), and Joba was downright maddening. Maybe the kid needs to fly back to Nebraska for some more time away.

I'm feeling good about Saturday's game. Not sure if that's a good thing.