Sunday, July 31, 2011

7/31/11 Kansas City Royals 5, Cleveland Indians 3

Progressive Field, Cleveland, OH
Game 3 of 3

Ladies and Gentlemen, Royals fans across the stratosphere, I present to you: PULLED PORK

If you don’t know about Billy Butler, “Country Breakfast,” and the whole Royals nicknames thread, first read this post, courtesy of Fake Ned Yost via Rambling Morons for an explanation of the streetball connection, and then read this story by Greg Schaum at Pine Tar Press, via Ross Martin which explains the true origins of #CountryBreakfast and then you don’t have to wonder anymore, and also will have a better chance of getting my Danny Duffy joke above.

Needless to say, Duffy did a great job. I tweeted the “Pulled Pork” thing as I was participating in the nickname conversation on Twitter while listening to the game, and as Duffy was lifted by Yost with 1 on and no outs in the 6th, the name just popped into my head…and, therefore, into my feed.

A lot of firsts here, Jason Kipnis hits his first MLB tater, Fukudome hits safely for the first time as a Cleveland Indian, both Jeff Francoeur and Alex Gordon hit solo homers and Danny Duffy out-duels Fausto Carmona…on a day when Kyle Davies is scratched at the last minute to give Duffy the opportunity.

A very exciting game, both teams battled well (the Indians left a total of 10 on base) and personally, one of the most memorable radio games I’ve enjoyed all season…nice and hot outside, plenty of beer, #CountryBreakfast on the Twitter feed…even without Denny Matthews in the booth.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

7/24/11 Houston Astros 4, Chicago Cubs 5

Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL
Game 3 of 3


OK, so once again…you already know the story…Matt Garza puts in a better-than-decent day of work (7 innings here, 9 K, 2ER) and leaves the game with the W. However, the Cubs’ inconsistent bullpen finds a way to give up the game to a tie and render Garza’s outing a no-decision in less than an inning at the hands of Jeff Samardzija, thereby magically converting a 3-2 lead into a 4-3 deficit.

The Cubs come back in the 8th for a Broken-Bat Single RBI by Alfonso Soriano, scoring Marlon Byrd, to tie the game and force extra innings. You can’t say the offense didn’t support Garza efficiently, not in this outing at least.

A common occurrence in Cubs victories over the past few weeks has been the advent of timely hitting…it’s a shame that the occurrence isn’t “more than common” but I’ve seen it more this season than I had in 2010 and yes, from where I sit, that does illicit some sort of a light at the end of the tunnel that isn’t muzzle flash.

The Cubs get that timely production with a leadoff triple by Marlon Byrd. Tony Campana is intentionally walked (HEY TONY, YOU SHOULD MARK THIS DOWN ON YOUR RESUME!!), then Darwin Barney is intentionally walked and Astros RHP David Carpenter pitches to Mr. Cubs Surprise himself, Jeff Baker.

Baker works the count full, and then pops off what you’d hope Baker can do more often, but sadly doesn’t…a ripping line drive to left field that scores Byrd in a dramatic walk-off win.

You want it to happen more often…I know I do. But then again, I’ll take a more consistent bullpen and less timely hitting in many situations.

Once again, Matt Garza…what a stud…and no geometric progression in the ‘industry standard’ W-L/ERA statistical database that says “you rock, buddy…we’re glad you’re a CUB.”


Saturday, July 23, 2011

7/23/11 Charlotte Knights 7, Louisville Bats 4

Louisville Slugger Field, Louisville, KY
Game 2 of 4

Corky Miller foul ball from this game, signed by Corky Miller!!

AND The Famous Chicken!!

I fondly remember the last time I saw the visiting Charlotte Knights in Louisville, a 19-6 slugfest with the Bats prevailing; 2 grand slams from each dugout and a total of 28 hits – the most I’ve ever seen in a game.

…and as a further reminder of that game, I have a copy of the lineup card

Seeing Scott Carroll’s name as the Bats’ SP, I anticipated a great outing for the home team…and newly-acquired former Cub Doug Davis pitching for the Knights…heh heh, I expected a longer game than usual (that’s a Doug Davis joke, obviously) and another slugfest, given his partial season with the Cubs.

The Chicken, we got. The Corky Miller ball from earlier this year autographed, we got. Corky also homered…we got that too. A slugfest, we got. But this time Louisville was not on the ‘right side of the fence.’

Scott struggled early, giving us 7 runs (5 earned) on 11 hits in 3.1IP, walking 2 and striking out 1 batter in 22 faced. Meanwhile, Davis pitched like a man possessed, ‘only’ giving up 4 runs (1 earned) in 6 innings of work. The total of 11 runs would be all either team would cross the plate with for the remainder of the game.

Scott Carroll on the mound

David Johnson pitches 2.2 hitless innings in relief

Corky Miller at 1B with Dallas McPherson after being given a free pass by Doug Davis in the 6th

Corky Miller homers…Yonder Alonso steals his 6th base of the year…Kristopher Negron is charged with 3 errors in the game…and the LSF radar gun surprisingly displays KMPH as well as MPH, the only game this season I’ve seen this. Other than that…


He uses “the hex” on the Knights in the dugout

The Chicken takes over as 1B coach

The Chicken on the Bats dugout

The Famous Chicken and his flock of little ones move about the field…

Here they are “putting the hex” on the Knights in the dugout

It was great to see him, for what could be the last time, given the rumours he’s retiring…there can be no substitute for the Famous Chicken, he is a pure entertainer. It was also great that my oldest daughter Kei (who took most of these pictures) got to see him before he gives this up. I did purchase a “Famous Chicken” photoball, but I didn’t leave the game during the 8th to get it autographed.

After the game, we hung out at the East Entrance, I was hoping to catch Scott Carroll but he had already left. Kei got her ball signed by Devin Mesoraco; I brought my Corky Miller foul ball from earlier this season…here he is signing it…

…and Chris Valaika signed a copy of the Official Scorecard, which shall be used in these posts for the rest of the season!

My SCoresheets

Bat Chat:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Waiting For Todd

We waited for you, bro...what's up?!?

A few weeks ago, my friend Jimmy (who sits near us in 211 at Louisville Slugger Field) asked me if I’d ever waited outside the ballpark after the game to meet players and get stuff signed. Funny thing is, after years of stalking tour busses and milling about meet n greet circles after rock concerts and live shows, this thought had never occurred to me. Ever.

I thought it might be worth a shot someday, but my youngest daughter Chihiro heard this and prioritized this possibility. And once her older sister Kei caught wind of this possibility, let’s just say this activity was not only re-prioritized, but has now ended up as a race between my two daughters for the acclaim of being the first to snag an autographed Todd Frazier baseball and a photo or two.

Consider this real-time post a pre-addendum to a couple of pending posts for recent Louisville Bats games, particularly the first and third games of the Bats’ homestand against the visiting Columbus Clippers 7/4-7/6.

Following last night’s 3-2 Bats victory over the Clippers to sweep the series, Kei and I headed down to the East Gate entrance and joined a small crowd of about 30 others brandishing baseball card binders, batting helmets, lineup cards, broken bats, and baseballs.

Fearing the possibility of Kei getting lost in the crowd when Todd emerged, I wisely schooled her in the process of placing yourself in the best possible position to engage a ‘celebrity’ in these situations…

1. Make eye contact
2. Speak the name of the ‘celebrity’ clearly
3. Treat them with respect
4. Don’t forget they are humans
5. Regardless of their attitude, assume that they are absolutely thrilled to meet you
6. Compliment them profusely, yet politely, on their craft
7. Do your business quickly and efficiently
8. Be considerate of others, even if they act like total jerks
9. Most important of all, shake their hand FIRMLY, no exceptions

This was not our first experience meeting a baseball player…almost two years ago to the day, my whole family shared a portion of our day with Ryan Theriot in a much more controlled environment. This would no doubt be a lot different, and perhaps a lot more familiar to me.

In many ways, this experience was just like my experiences of stalking the tour bus from many years past, only in this environment the fans are much more dorkier (myself included) and the stars are MUCH TALLER.

If you’ve ever met a professional musician and are at or about 6 feet in height, you will know exactly what I mean by MUCH TALLER.

I had an unused non-regulation baseball for Kei to get signed, but was only prepared with my scoresheets from the 7/4 extra-innings game and last night’s game for autographs. Todd won both games, the former with a Fielder’s Choice walk-off (RARE) and last night with a SAC Fly RBI walk-off.

For the record, I’m not that much of an autograph geek, but in the past I have never turned down an opportunity to get something scrawled on…especially when I have my scoresheets handy.

It seemed to be only about 15-20 minutes until, one-by-one, players started to file out. I will spare the details of every player that emerged and only share the most pertinent encounters of the evening.

The first player to emerge was Clippers RHP Joe Martinez. This was a profound moment for me, as Joe was the unfortunate recipient of a Mike Cameron line drive to the head in a memorable contest between the Giants and the Brewers in 2009. This was one of the most shocking injuries I’ve seen, as Joe crumpled bluntly to the mound and Cameron was definitively spooked by the incident. I introduced myself and told him I was glad he was well and still working. Joe thanked me and blew off the event politely, but I’m sure I speak for many of us…something like that may make one never want to see a baseball again. Joe didn’t pitch last night, but did pitch well on Monday night…however, out of respect, I didn’t ask him to sign my scoresheet from that game as he earned the loss for the Clippers in extra innings. No Todd yet.

I tweeted with glee when Jason Kipnis was in the lineup (he was not on Monday). I started admiring Kipnis last year, a great player and owner of the Best Batting Stance in Baseball, hands down. As a few Bats were filing out (no Todd yet), I heard an autograph seeker whisper “Kipnis” and I sulked over, introducing myself (“Hey, I follow you on Twitter!”) and professing my admiration for his stance and his work so far. Jason gladly signed last night’s scoresheet, on the side with the Clippers’ lineup. Still no Todd.

This is Mike Costanzo, who was just called up from AA Carolina to join the Bats’ roster for the first time this season. Mike was a 2nd round draft pick by the Phillies in 2005, and has worked in the Phillies and Orioles organizations until playing 16 games for the Independent League Camden Riversharks in 2010, and in the same year signing with the Reds organization. Mike played in 6 games at Louisville last year and compiled a .274/.360/.481 in AA Carolina before the recent callup. Mike was 1-for-3 with two strikeouts, and the victim of an outrageous ball-called-strike that many of the others around us shared his grief in revisiting. Mike signed my scoresheet on the boxes next to his name in the lineup. No sign of Todd yet.

You already know how much I like Scott Carroll this year…he didn’t pitch during the series, but I went out of my way to shake his hand and commend him on his work so far, for which he was genuinely appreciative. I will definitely try to get a ball signed by him as soon as I can! Of course, that’s Scott on the right. No sign of Todd.

No sooner had Scott departed than David Johnson emerged, he pitched 3 perfect innings in extra-innings relief during Monday’s game (the first of which he pitched effectively where 4th of July fireworks were exploding all around him) to earn the W for the Bats. David was very tall, very genuine and was elated to sign my scoresheet from that game, right next to his line on the second page. Still waiting for Todd.

The seekers began to disperse as the players thinned out. Most let us know that Todd was “very cool” and would be happy to sign stuff and talk with us. The clock read 10:51 as the Clippers’ bus departed and the last of the fans to leave shouted to us “Todd still hasn’t come out yet, he’s cool!” We waited patiently as Smoky Garret (Bats hitting coach) emerged at ten after 11. Todd? Not yet.

At 11:30, Kei decided to give up our vigil for the night. We have a game coming up on 7/23 and in an admirably positive tone she gave me the sign that we should disperse for now, but will be back to try again (and ultimately, get a signed ball before her sister has a chance to).

Having waited so long, it was hard not to look back to the doors from time to time as if to catch a glimpse of Todd eventually emerging. Even as our distance from the ballpark became greater, I considered the kind of luck I was born with and knew in my heart that Todd would enter the players’ lot only a few moments after we had left. In fact, several blocks away and much too far to make it back, I could have sworn I did see a man with a towel over his shoulder and a small bag walking up to an SUV in the far corner of the lot.

Kei squinted in that direction, shook her head gently, put her hand on my arm and said with her million-dollar smile “Dad, that’s probably not him. I’m sure of it.”

I love that kid to death, I really do.

Todd, we will be seeing you on the 23rd.

UPDATE (January 30, 2012): We were there on the 23rd, but Todd wasn't...he had been called up to Cincinnati by then. We would have to wait just over 6 months to close the loop.

Kei, Chihiro and I went to the Reds Caravan yesterday (1/29/12) and finally, our quest for Todd is now complete. The girls both got autographed Todd Frazier baseballs, a very nice photo of the three of them together, and I was also fortunate enough to get the 7/4/11 scoresheet signed as well as the ball I had intended to mail to Dirk Hayhurst.See the updated 7/4/11 post for the signed scoresheet.
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