Stinging the Friars; A Midsummer Surprise

IMG_5818.JPGSo you may or may not have known that I went to Petco (or PETCO, but that looks dumb) Park last Thursday, July 2. Well, I did. And Jen was there too. And… it was a very interesting day.

I started out by the players’ entrance in hopes of acquiring autographs. By the way, if you’re going to do that, please have no reservations about feeling absolutely creepy. Because wow, I felt so stalkerish hanging out there.

It was weird. We saw big Escalades drive up, visiting players in taxis, new Lexuses with the paper plates indicating their freshness from the Lexus plant. We saw one player pull up with his wife in the passenger seat, and then saw her leave a few minutes later. If I were married to a ballplayer, say, Tulo, I would want to be there for all of his games to support him, plus, I love baseball anyway. But this player maybe has kids at home that his wife needed to pick up or take care of, since it was 9:30 in the morning anyway.

IMG_5831.JPGThe one sighting that made me the happiest was David Eckstein. He drove up in his little fuel-efficient sedan, waved, and went inside. Three minutes later, he popped back out and chatted and signed and took pictures for as long as we wanted. I also got some encounters with other important, well-dressed men, but you’ll have to go to my Flickr to see those because I haven’t got the patience to deal with Moveable Type right now. I’ve got pictures of the bee swarm, the park itself, the skyline… one picture I have to put up right now is the “rammycackle” picture, because I’m begging for help. WHAT DOES IT MEAN? They put it up randomly in the home half of the second and I have had no luck whatsoever attempting to decipher it. Padres fans, help me!

The Astros won, despite the swarm that took over the outfield and a ballgirl’s jacket. Petco looks a lot smaller in person than it does on TV, but we had a ton of fun and it’s extremely beautiful. I didn’t get sunburned like I did at Dodger Stadium, and my arms are actually turning tan instead of crimson. A great time was had by all, and then it was time for the drive back to LA.

In other news…

I’ve never been a big All-Star Game follower or voter. I mean, yeah, I watch it and I get into it, but you won’t catch me submitting hundreds of votes like the people I met at Minute Maid who take boxes of ballots and punch them during the game. I become particularly frustrated with the National League because players who are not all-stars (Kosuke Fukudome, for example, last year) are voted in by players who vote for popularity and not for good players, which leads to disappointing performance by the NL. However, this year I have been stunned by the sheer talent of the National League roster and while I don’t want to jinx us, I feel better about our chances.

Most importantly #1, Manny Ramírez was not voted in. Thank God.

Most importantly #2, HAWPER AND MARQUIS. Not only does Hawper have the fourth-highest (at last check) batting average in the NL, but he’s also a spectacular outfielder. Jason Marquis is now in a league of his own as the only pitcher in the Major Leagues with eleven wins to his name. Way to go, Jason and Hawper. Y’all deserve it.

Also, Tim Lincecum. Who I absolutely love and/or adore.

Pointless Ramblings:

– If everything goes exactly to plan, I’ll be in San Diego for the game on July 18th against the Rockies. However, this plan depends on circumstances beyond my personal control, so for now I can only hope. I should know by tomorrow if I’m staying or going, and if I’m not staying I go back home on Thursday.
– I’m going to NYC, hopefully sometime before I leave for school. Hopefully ASAP, but I’d also like to see the Mets and Yankees play, so I’m trying to find a weekend when they’re both home.
– The weekend I get up to school, August 21-23, the Rox are in town and I’d like to have an early birthday celebration by going to one of the games. I’d like anybody who’s in town to come, so please think about that. It will probably be the 21st, but if that weekend doesn’t work, I’ll plan for it later in September. My birthday is August 30th but they’re in San Fran that weekend.
– Also, if I stay here for that Padres/Rox game, I will probably do some extra traveling, so stay tuned for further updates. I also might have some exciting news to announce in the next few days but then again, it might not happen. We’ll see.
– My blog titles suck lately. I apologize.

Chasing the D-backs; A Tribute to Dodgers Fans

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God-awful title, I know. I am horrible at plays on words. And this is going to be a huge entry, so if you’ve got stuff to do, put this blog on hold and finish whatever you’re doing.
So on Friday, we made the six-hour trek from Los Angeles to Phoenix. First of all, if you’re going to this, for the love of God please make sure your A/C compressor is functional. If you don’t you’ll positively die when it gets up to 120 degrees on the open desert between LA and Blythe… and even then you’ve still got two hours to go. Also, I beg you to stop at every gas station and just fill ‘er up, because there’s nothing between them except some nasty rest stops. And finally, enjoy the drive.
I enjoyed the drive, anyway. Being the geology megadork that I am, I listened to my iPod (Bose QuietComfort 2 headphones are the bomb diggity) and mentally identified every formation we drove past and speculated about the makeup of the mountains. Because I’m that cool. Not cool was the rise in temperature I felt in the middle of nowhere IN TRAFFIC. Yes, there is traffic in the middle of nowhere. Don’t ask how. It existed.
Drive aside, Phoenix itself was… hot. We were actually in the suburbs, so the only time I spent within Phoenix was at Chase Field (more on that later), but it was hugely hot. At night it wasn’t so bad, still up in the hundreds but at least the sun wasn’t beating down like it was during the day. Either way, I could live there as long as I had A/C.
On Saturday, we went to Chase Field to catch the Angels/D-backs game. I was cheering for the D-backs because I’ve always had soft spots for Danny Haren and Brandon Webb (don’t hate me) and I really freaking hate the Angels and their damn rally monkey. Lately I’ve learned that I am the No-Hitter Killer–Doug Davis had a no-no going that afternoon, and so did Jason Hammel this afternoon. Alas, they were not to be and both pitchers lost (more later). I wasn’t so much watching the game because I wasn’t very attached to the outcome, but rather I spent most of my time there people-watching and admiring the stadium.
Chase Field… I know Tom wasn’t a huge fan when he visited, but I have to admit, it’s probably my favorite ballpark I’ve been to. That’s not a big number (Minute Maid Park, Astrodome, Dodger Stadium, Angel Stadium [of Anaheim], and… yep, that’s it, Coors Field was just a tour so I’m not counting it), but I really, really liked it. The lower concourse was so incredibly open and as you walked around the outfield you could see everything that was happening on the field. There was seating everywhere they could fit it, and even up in the upper deck I had a great view, especially since the seats were tilted towards home plate.
The giant videoboard was absolutely magnificent. It was wider-than-widescreen and the video was beautiful. They had to put some random things in around the video and the linescore to fill in space, but even so, it was gorgeous. One of the things I didn’t particularly appreciate was the fact that miscellaneous boards were sprinkled EVERYWHERE. It took me two innings to find the strikeout count, and another half inning to find the pitch count. The out-of-town scoreboards hang on the walls. Other than that, it was awesome.
I didn’t eat anything while I was there, having eaten a turkey sandwich before leaving, but they let us bring food inside. Non-alcoholic drinks are also allowed in as long as they’re unopened (sealed). I went in search of an ice cream helmet since my friend’s little sister collects them, and I found a vendor near 328 who was just the cutest, sweetest thing. He gave me way too much ice cream and even held onto it while I ran to the nearest ATM to get cash. Side note–Chase Field means Chase ATMs, so thank you for not making me pay outrageous fees! Anyhow, he was blonde and extremely adorable so if you’re sitting in the top deck of Chase, be sure to drop by and say what up?!
I loved the stadium and was sad to leave in the seventh inning when the niece and nephew grew impatient. Speaking of kids, Chase Field had a great playground called The Sandlot. I didn’t go down there myself but apparently the kids loved it. All in all, I absolutely loved the stadium. Maybe because it felt like home. Who knows? For whatever reason, I adored it.
We left at five to drive back. It was cooler but I’d suggest leaving the driving for after the sun’s gone down because it gets really hot really fast. Our car made it despite the heat in the Valley, and we brought back enough Blue Bell to feed a small family for a month or two. If you’ve never had Blue Bell, try it if you’re ever anywhere they sell it.
In other news…jason hammel getty.jpg

Today, I went to go see the Rockies take on the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Here’s what I learned:
1. I can’t do no-hitters. Every time one has begun in my presence, it fails completely. Jason Hammel and Doug Davis, for example.
2. I sunburn really easily. OW OW OW.
3. Troy Tulowitzki is hella hot. I know I knew that already, but suga honey iced tea, Christ on a bike, good God almighty hot damn.
And here are some stories:
1. Mark Strittmatter (please tell me that’s correctly spelled/first named or I’ll feel like an idiot) is awesome. He was asking kids trick questions and giving them a ball if they got it right and he asked the kid next to me: “say silk five times. What do cows drink? Nope, water!” So I figured, my friends have all done all of those to me. I told him to ask me one and he said if I got it right he’d give me the ball, but if I missed he’d give it to the kid. So he asked, “What do people in Kentucky call their capital? ‘Louissville” or “Louieville”? And I said, “Trick question! ‘Loo-vull!” “Nope, Frankfurt!” We both cracked up. I looked at him and said, “Mark, I’m coming up to Denver in August. I WILL GET YOU!” He laughed and when he got back to the bullpen he started telling someone else (pitching coach?) about it and they both laughed. Then when they were going back to the dugout I yelled “Mark, I WILL GET YOU!” and he cracked up again. I LOVE THAT MAN. And I WILL GET HIM.
2. Someone tossed me a ball. I’m ashamed to say that I couldn’t figure out who because I couldn’t see his number and I don’t watch enough games to know our bullpen’s faces. But it’s all rubbed up and kind of grassy so I think it might be a game-used ball.
3. There was a really cute, sweet usher down by the right field foul pole. We talked a lot. He was so sweet!
4. Spilly came out to sign. Here’s what you need to know about Dodger Stadium: getting away team autographs is nigh impossible. There are these baseline box seats that are really expensive and you can’t even go down for autos without a ticket, so those block off eight rows all the way over to the foul pole. So he went over to sign for kids in DODGERS SHIRTS and I waved him over toward me while wearing my TROY TULOWITZKI AUTHENTIC JERSEY and he just waved back! I yelled “No, Spilly, come over here!” and he waved me towards where he wa
s going with a smile, I yelled back “I’M NOT RICH!” and he laughed… and nobody signed for me. ****.
And here’s the conclusion:
What a pitching duel. That aside, I HATE DODGERS FANS SO MUCH. I had a whole section behind me (I was in the front row) yelling “TROY TULOWITZKI SUCKS” and “**** THE ROCKIES.” Because I was in right field I was right by Hawper, and the guys kept yelling “BRAD HAWPE YOU SUCK” and I yelled right back “SORRY YOU’RE JEALOUS OF HIS #2 IN THE NL BATTING AVERAGE!” I neglected to mention the “SORRY YOUR BEST HITTER WAS A HUGE CHEATER” because really, they were so drunk off their ***** I don’t think they would have cared–Dodgers fans don’t care anyway (more on that later). So basically, the only Dodgers fans I ran into that weren’t ******** were the ones I’m related to. The end.
Pointless Ramblings:
– The trip to PETCO Park was delayed from Monday until Thursday, so I’ll be there tomorrow/today (depending on your time zone; I should be sleeping).
– I’m so fricking sunburned. WOW.
– I love my suitemates. Facebook rocks.
– People need to realize they can’t have it both ways. You can’t denounce cheating and in the same breath cheer for Manny or Roger or Barry, or, I hate to say it, Andy Pettitte (we all know how much I loved him once upon a pre-juicing time). You can’t get mad when other teams’ players dope but allow your own players to do it. Grow up, people. If you’re going to support it, at least be honest. I’ve had several Twitter conversations about this.
– I hate the trade deadline.
first image courtesy of diamondbacks.mlb.com
second image courtesy of Getty Images

Quick Travel Update

[cue Baseball Tonight update jingle]

Here’s what’s going down, kids. I’m doing a lot of traveling to see ballgames this week, and here’s a list for both you and me.
June 27: Chase Field, D-backs vs. Angels. I hate the Angels SO MUCH that I guess it’s go Snakes.
June 29: PETCO Park, Padres vs. Astros. GO ASTROS. Houston people, watch for me on TV!
July 1: Dodger Stadium, Dodgers vs. Rockies. I will be sitting in dugout club, hopefully behind the Rox’ on-deck circle. Look for me in my new Tulo jersey!
At some point thereafter: Lancaster JetHawks (Astros farm team). Hopefully.
I’m headed to Phoenix today and I won’t be back until Sunday, so I won’t be reading, commenting, or updating until that evening. Forgive me 😀
Also, I added a new profile picture, if you haven’t seen it yet. I kind of like it 😀
Love you all!

Lovin’ Eleven; Summer Nights

upi photo eleven straight.jpgGuys, we’ve won eleven in a row.

Can you even believe it? We’ve survived a tornado warning (my iPod told me about it but I still wasn’t prepared for the gross green sky I saw on BBTN later that night), evaded a sweep in Houston (thanks in part to the lucky Pants?), lived through a horrible family tragedy, and here we are, eleven in a row.

Here we are, making a bid for a .500 season. I don’t know where we started this streak as far as the standings go, but we’re 10.5 games back of a fiery Los Angeles team. I’m in LA right now and for the next two weeks and I’ve been cheering on the Padres and Rangers, much to the dismay of my Dodgertown family.

Here we are, 3.5 games back from the second-place Giants (happy birthday, Tim Lincecum!), and as such, 3.5 games back in the wild card, behind six other teams.

Here I am, in Los Angeles, without MLB.TV. I can Slingbox to my TV at home and watch the Astros, but I can’t do that to magically see my Rockies. If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen the disaster that is my hair. The disaster came yesterday afternoon while I dyed my hair and listened to the Rox on MLB At-Bat. Apparently, a tied game results in blue scalp. But my hair is now blue-black in the front (resulting in comparisons to Collette from Ratatouille, which is fine by me). But MLB Network somehow aired two games a few days ago, and I got to watch the first game of the series.

I’m not sure where all this is going. It’s too early to say. But I’ll keep on cheering and wearing my “meet me at the Rockpile” shirt and listening to games, win or lose.

Let’s go, Rockies.

and can you even believe how cute Tulo looks in that picture? ohmigod

In other news…

I planned my whole entire summer around baseball. I scheduled my LA trip so that I’d be home for the Astros/Rox series, and also so that I’d be here when the Rox come to Anaheim in a few weeks. But for future reference, here’s what’s going on:

Sometime this week: Dodger Stadium to see the A’s. And I might wear my Matt Holliday shirt.
20 June: I’ll probably go to PETCO Park. It’s against the A’s again.
27-28 June: I’ll be in Phoenix for this weekend and I’ll be at Chase Field to see the Diamondbacks take on the Angels. Go Angels, I guess.

Somewhere in there, I’m hoping to go to Lancaster to see the JetHawks, one of the Astros’ farm teams, but I don’t know if that’ll be possible.

I also spent a week touring a few minor league teams in Texas. There are five, I think (Round Rock Express, Corpus Christi Hooks, San Antonio Missions, Midland RockHounds, Frisco RoughRiders) but I only saw the first three of that list. It was so much fun–JR Towles tossed me a ball in Round Rock, for example. The Missions game was probably the best because it was only about two hundred people, and the stadium was really cool and the people were super nice.

Finally, move-in day at college is the 21st of August. I’m going to arrive a few days early, and sometime that week I’ll make my first trip to Coors Field to actually see a game. If you recall, I took a tour of Coors last summer, but I’ve never seen my Rox in action there. So if you happen to attend one of the games that weekend and see a girl running around screaming, chances are, it’s me.

Pointless Ramblings:

cake.jpg – Sorry it’s been three decades since I last posted. Twitter‘s so easy that I forget that I’ve got to blog too.
– The pink eye was gone for graduation. Speaking of which…
– I graduated. I got, among other things, an iPod Touch (which has a purple case), a pair of Bose QuietComfort 2 headphones, and Samsonite luggage. Best holiday ever.
– I just spent $3 on the Weather Channel Max app for my iPod. I love it. See? Pointless.

first image courtesy of UPI Photo
second image courtesy… me

A House Divided; Countdowns Galore

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New readers, not that I have many, will note that although my blog header and title both profess a love for the purple-and-silver clad team that makes its home in Coors Field, I talk about the Houston Astros as much or more in every entry.  My profile picture is even me on Coors Field.

To clear up confusion for the lazy ones who haven’t read about me, here it is in a nutshell.  I was born and raised and still live in Houston.  I love everything about Texas except the weather, but I’m headed to Colorado in August for college (more on that later) because it’s the best place to do what I want to do–stare at rocks until they speak to me.  Natural resources, mining, energy, that sort of thing.  I also want to work for NASA, but I digress.

In spring 2007, I fell in love with a young man named Hunter Pence, and consequently I started watching baseball again even though I’d been going to games since I was born.  With this new obsession came a Craig-Biggio-3000th-hit chase, and the Rox were in town then.  I was intrigued by this new team (they were 39-43 at this point) and followed them as best as I could the rest of the year.

coors teensy.jpgHere’s where it gets tricky.  I’m so done with people calling me a bandwagon fan.  Yes, I fell in love with them halfway through a really lucky season.  But that was July.  I am not psychic.  No, I did not predict their World Series run.  I honestly didn’t expect anything; I just observed that their shortstop was smokin’ and kind of based my later fanhood on that.  Let’s be honest: do I sound like a bandwagon fan to you?  Would a bandwagon fan still care two years later?
In any case, fanhood aside, this week and the first week of June are going to be tough weeks for me because I’ve got to watch my two teams fight it out against each other.  I’m not cheering for this series, but when the Rox come here I’m cheering for them because I’m going to have plenty of other opportunities to cheer for the Astros in person.  I’m going to try and get Tulo to sign my jersey shirt, if he doesn’t run away in fear because he recognizes me as “that girl who showed up three days in a row to get a picture and had a big poster.”  Hopefully the short red/teal hair will throw him off the trail 🙂  But I always hate cheering “against” the Astros, so I don’t.  Cheering for one team is not the same thing as cheering against the other team–it’s the difference between hoping someone capitalizes on a mistake and hoping someone makes a mistake.  No ill will here.

In other news…

teensy logo.jpgOne hundred and four days.  Until what?  College, my friend.  The picture to the right is me on the campus wearing my 2007 NL champions sweatshirt that cost me sixty bucks.  It was an unfortunately gray November day and the grass was nasty, but hey, at least it wasn’t twenty-eight degrees anymore like it was when the plane landed.

As far as other important things go, graduation is in five days and my birthday is in 109.  Eighteen days until the Rockies get here.  Twenty-nine until I see the Astros take on the D-Backs in Phoenix.  Thirty-nine until I watch the Rockies battle the Angels.  And I’m also going to some minor league games at some point but I’m not sure when.

Pointless Ramblings:

– I have pink eye.  Isn’t that fun?  Here’s hoping I get rid of it before graduation or all the pictures will have me looking drunk on the left side.
– I’m still coughing like there’s no tomorrow.
– It’s 100 degrees outside.

photos courtesy of… me!

The College Bucket List; On Suckage

Graduation is next Tuesday, so last night I decided to do something I’ve never done but really should have–driving all the way around the Loop.

For those of you who haven’t lived in the Space City, “the Loop” is the smaller of our two beltways–Interstate 610 is the innermost (it’s a loop of I-10, “the 10” for you Californians), the Sam Houston Tollway/Beltway 8 is the outermost.  Both of them pass over the Houston Ship Channel, part of the Port of Houston, the second-largest port in the country (largest in terms of foreign tonnage).  Anyway, this was my main motivation for this trip.

If you know anything about Houston aside from the fact that our baseball team is terrible (more on that later), it’s that we’re one of the biggest cities for the oil business.  The city sits on a base of clays, silt, and sand deposited from rivers that eroded the Rocky Mountains–terrible for city-building, but great for oil deposits.  The Port of Houston and the Ship Channel are lined with refineries.  And guess what?

Every little refinery looks like a miniature city at night.  The picture above is of a refinery on the Ship Channel as Ike rolled in, so it’s not quite the same, but similar.  Each tower is lit up like a skyscraper.  It’s so close but so small that it’s the same scale as a far-away skyline.  It might be true that kids raised within a two-mile radius of the Port are twice as likely to develop leukemia, but you can’t deny that the Port’s got its upsides.  Great economic benefits, and a really pretty picture (that I couldn’t take because I had no camera, stupid me) at night.

The rest of the trip was uneventful, except for a little part where the lanes got really narrow and I got really nervous.  It was pretty empty out.

In other news…

I’m sure everyone’s already beaten the Manny horse to death, so I’ll leave him where he lies.

Um, the Astros suck.  Hunter and Blum’s RallyHawks haven’t really done anything.  Admittedly, they won last night, and Hunter scored the go-ahead run, but honestly?  It’s looking like another season of fail courtesy of baseball’s stingiest owner, Drayton McLane.  That’s our coping strategy–blame everything on the Grocer Man.  Seriously, though, this team has some work to do.  Lance Berkman is batting .184.  Oh my God.  What are we going to do?  When Jeff Keppinger has the team’s highest average, you know you’ve got a problem.

I haven’t been to a game since April.  I had tickets to last Thursday’s game against the Cubs but I had my US History AP on Friday, and I was sick as a dog running a 101.6 fever.

The Rockies aren’t doing too well either, but I’m glad to see Todd Helton batting a nice .337.    Tulo’s kinda stinking it up with his .223, but at least the pitching has been on.  Has it ever.  Ubaldo Jimenez–I knew he was something special but wow, not even I saw this coming.

Pointless Ramblings:

– I have been sick three times in as many weeks.  Right now, my voice is pathetic and my ear hurts.  My doctor moved to Bellaire and I don’t know if I want to find a new one because I’m leaving soon anyway.
– I have a Twitter.  @starrphishe
– I’ve got one more academic activity between now and graduation: physics exam tomorrow.  I suck at physics.  It should be fun.

photo courtesy of Reuters

In Memoriam: Nick Adenhart

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there’s one more Angel in heaven, there’s one more star in the sky

I knew I needed to post a blog entry, but I really didn’t want it to be this one.  I’m not going to lie, I had never heard of Nick Adenhart until this afternoon when my mom texted me during astronomy to tell me what happened.  I’m sure I heard his name in passing on Baseball Tonight (sorry, MLB Network, I’m a loyalist), but I didn’t remember who he was when I surreptitiously read the story on my phone.

No matter if we know who it is or not, short-season A or major leagues, the loss of any member of our giant baseball family is a huge one.  After all the stories about Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the leg and Pacman Jones being psycho, I can tell you that I would never feel the same about a random football player dying.  I don’t know if it’s the whole Sabrina thing or if it’s the fact that one of the teachers at my school also passed away yesterday, but I felt this one bad.  It was all I could do not to start crying in the middle of an explanation of active galactic nuclei.  I feel like I’ve lost a friend, and I know I’m not the only one.

That’s what this game is about.  Long “the American pastime,” a piece of wood and a leather ball have stitched our country together and kept it that way for centuries.  It’s worked this way because that’s just how it works.  Baseball brought me a great relationship with my dad, it got me talking to random people on Opening Day lamenting about how badly Roy Oswalt was doing, and it’s what made me spend 58 cents to mail an envelope to a guy across the country that I’ll never meet because he wanted a pocket schedule.  I love all of you and it’s because of baseball.

May he rest in peace.  We should all be praying for his family and friends and that the man who hit him receives justice.

photo courtesy of Reuters