Author Archives: errhode

A Mystery Hunt Design Philosophy

Standard

The night hunt ended, Anand started making slides for wrap-up.  He was going over them with me and I noted a blank slide towards the beginning with just the title “Design Philosophy” and nothing else.

“What is that slide?” I asked him.

“That’s where you’re going to talk about your design philosophy in running this hunt,” he said, as if that explained everything.

“My what?  I don’t have a design philosophy.  I just ran the hunt by the seat of my pants.”

“Yes you do,” he insisted, “and it led you to run the hunt the way you ran it.”  Which led to us having an extended conversation about what this supposed design philosophy might be and what I was supposed to talk about.  And it turns out, he was right — I did have a design philosophy, even if I wasn’t cognizant of it at the time.  It also isn’t solely mine — it’s mostly a shared vision that most members of Alice Shrugged believe in.  I just was granted the ability to make the final decision on things that did or did not facilitate said philosophy.  (And to incorporate more baseball than usual into the hunt, which was a vision mostly shared only by Jason and Harvey.)  Given how well-received our hunt was, I’m writing this down with the hope that One Fish Two Fish Random Fish Blue Fish reads it and considers many of these issues when designing the 2015 hunt.

As a preamble, a lot of this stems from my personal belief that the ballooning team sizes of recent years is a problem.  We did intentionally bottleneck the end of the hunt so that large teams wouldn’t have an advantage solely based on manpower.  Our release rate was designed such that a team should have ~15-20 puzzles open at a given time and no more (and maybe less), but that they should simultaneously advance through the story of the hunt at a faster rate.  (And so puzzle release was done on a round-by-round basis — solving puzzles in the Mock Turtle round would not help you open puzzles in the Tea Party and vice versa.  But once you advanced past the MIT round, you probably had three Wonderland rounds open at any given time… or you were approaching the end of the hunt.)  There were some large teams that complained about this.  To this, Alice shrugs.

Read the rest of this entry

Advertisements

Writing a Mystery Hunt

Standard

As has been obvious, I more or less gave up blogging in 2013.  This was closely related to the fact that in January of 2013, my team won the MIT Mystery Hunt and voted me as director of the 2014 Mystery Hunt.  As a result, all excess creative energy was spent on a project that I couldn’t talk about publicly… until now.  I have many many thoughts, but for now, I’ll start with a list of the individual puzzles that I wrote or co-wrote.  I plan on later writing a post about why we focused on the small teams and how I think that worked or didn’t work, with the hopes that the winners of our hunt, One Fish Two Fish Random Fish Blue Fish, take notes.  But for now here’s what I did…

  • The White Queen Meta (Solution) [with Harvey Jones]: I pulled off a backwards round about baseball and the Beatles.  I consider this a major coup of self-indulgence, and yet it was really well received.  I have but two regrets on this one: the White Sox are involved and the Twins are not and, if we really had had the writing prowess (which I don’t think we did) more of the puzzles would have been like Puzzle With the Answer WILLIAMS and presented as a solution where you actually had to deduce the title, instead of just including the “answer” as a red herring.
  • The Mock Turtle Meta (Solution) [with David Wilson, primary author]: This was dwilson’s idea initially — I just stepped in to help him flesh it out with the addition of GRAPHIN’->GRYPHON, FLEMINGS->FLAMINGO, and the much reviled FISH FOOD CAN->FISH FOOTMAN (which I stand by and still think is great).  There were many many e-mails sent back and forth between the two of us trying to get an answer phrase to fall out relating to fixing table schema (what a pun!).  Eventually, we settled on what we have… but somewhere in the post-production process, an old version of the meta was uploaded to the server and no one noticed.  That included the clue “How _____ keep their hair” instead of “How ‘these _____’ were preserv’d.”  The answer LOCKS fits in the latter, but doesn’t fit in the former — that was intended to be the answer word SIKHS long long ago in a meta puzzle far far away.  I really don’t know how this happened or why it was never fixed.  Mea culpa.
  • The Clubs (Caterpillar) Meta: I don’t have a lot to say about this one.  We needed a third MIT meta and this one came to me in about two hours.  The intent was to make a caterpillar out of the words.  During the running of the hunt, Anand pointed out that “HASH TAG” would have been a much punnier bait than TOBACCO.  Ah well — if I had done that, DON’T WORRY BABY wouldn’t have been an answer and Bumblebee Tune-A never would have happened.
  • The MIT Meta Meta (Card Deck) [with Dan Katz]: At some point early on, I decided that we needed a better capstone on the MIT round puzzles so that the puzzles associated with the highly backsolvable metas would serve another purpose and thus be more likely to be solved.  I came up with this idea of actually giving teams a deck of cards and adding the “Your Princess is in another castle” twist with the false beast.  (The beast was always meant to be Alice, but having the Jabberwock as the red herring wasn’t added until later.)  I roped Dan in to write the actual logic puzzle of the cards layout, came up with all the nonce words (MIMSIER… eh, whatever) and designed the cards once Teasha drew me a Jabberwock.
  • Bumblebee Tune-A (Solution) [with Laura Martini, et al]: I spent more hours writing this puzzle than any other by a very wide margin, and thus it is my favorite.  Mostly, I just wanted to sing a bunch of oldies a capella — the bee costume was a bonus.  I knew “Don’t Worry Baby” was sitting around as an answer word and started to brainstorm ways to use it.  When I learned that it was actually a B-side to “I Get Around” (despite being a much better song), I knew I had the angle.  The finance team gave me permission to spend $15 on a bee costume and we were off to the races.  The whole thing got more hilarious once I learned how to distort voices in GarageBand to make me sound more like a bee.  There was a period of about three weeks where I would come home from work and either arrange a song or record myself singing.  Major thanks to Martini for the many, many hours spent editing all the video together.  Amusingly, I heard a few reports of smaller, younger teams struggling with this puzzle because they had never heard of a B-side.
  • Technical Program Committee (Solution) [with Anand Sarwate, Jason Juang et al]: My official credit here is “a little help from” because I only wrote the one anagram/review about communism.  I did, however, talk through the initial idea with Anand.
  • Local Shorts (Solution): This puzzle was inspired by a Sporcle quiz written by Chris Morse.  The whole thing was set up and designed so that the Loons (i.e. one letter off from the Lions) would wind up on Minnesota because it’s the state bird.  Despite my easter egg, I heard no reports of this throwing anyone down a wrong trail.  Also, the Pi Kings are definitely my favorite.  (The Twine nearly made it in, but I was trying to avoid using the final S as a key letter.)
  • I Came Across a Japanese Rose Garden (Solution) [with Jason Juang]: This was actually originally conceived as a back-up puzzle when we made a final puzzle writing push.  When we had to move it to a different answer, Jason ran a bunch of scripts to determine the best Toyota makes that would use existing cartoons I had already drawn.  Yes, I know some of the colors aren’t particularly close.  I don’t have a good defense for that, other than… nail polish is strange.  Fun fact: I originally misread the name of “Here Today, Aragon Tomorrow” as “Here Today, Aragorn Tomorrow” before realizing that my crude sketch of Viggo Mortensen looked nothing like the region in Spain.
  • Now Let’s Create Melodies (Solution) [with Seth Bisen-Hersh, primary author]: Puppets singing parodies of songs done on The Muppet Show is actually all Seth Bisen-Hersh’s brainchild.  I just swooped in to make this an actual puzzle by constructing the unique crossing grids at the bottom of the puzzle to output the answer phrase.
  • A Rose By Any Another (Solution): I conceived of and wrote this puzzle in a 24 hour period while home for Christmas when another puzzle was failing to get any reasonable testsolves.  (Although yes, the fact that GTA is the genetic code for V is a great observation; the puzzle just failed to come together, unfortunately.)  As soon as I finished it, I pinged Jason and asked him to testsolve it.  Once he pointed out two bugs, I fixed it and sent it to a half dozen other people and the puzzle that went from idea to fully fact checked in the fastest amount of time was complete.
  • Round Tripper (Solution) [with Jason Juang and Harvey Jones]: Yes, I wrote one backwards meta puzzle about the Red Sox with an “answer” WILLIAMS standing in for Ted Williams.  I wrote another meta and purposefully included TED WILLIAMS as an answer so that I could write a proper baseball puzzle with Jason and Harvey.  I do not apologize for this.  I tried very hard to get more Twins players in this, but Puckett and Hrbek only faced people in All-Star games that they also faced in the regular season or World Series.  Carew and Killebrew are better for the pie chart identification anyway.
  • Puzzle With the Answer LYNN (Solution) [with Anand Sarwate]: A few people commented on how similar this puzzle was to Stage Lines from 2012.  That’s because Stage Lines was one of my favorite puzzles from that hunt.  So, I flipped through the Guide to the Enigma, found a flat type (backswitches) that would work for this puzzle structure, pinged Anand about co-authoring it with me, and after much work with some python scripts, we had a puzzle.
  • Puzzle With the Answer LOVE ME DO (Solution) [with Elaina Present]: This was originally Elaina’s idea, but given the many instruments I own, I kind of took it over.  I even bought and taught myself how to play the toy accordion.
  • Puzzle With the Answer I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND (Solution): Inspired by ARML relays, this is the only puzzle I wrote that got a 1 for fun.  But it also got a 5 for fun from another team.  I think this is closely correlated to how much you know about MIT Course Numbers and your willingness to run up and down the Infinite Corridor a few times.  I don’t really apologize for an event on MIT’s campus being more fun and accessible to those who are of college age and/or actually attended MIT.  If you’re going to participate in the MIT Mystery Hunt, you’re going to have to accept that the event is primarily for MIT students and that you might be at a disadvantage if this doesn’t describe you.
  • Puzzle With the Answer A HARD DAY’S NIGHT (Solution): I wrote a curling puzzle.  Are you surprised?  Thanks to Feldmeier for being the other skip’s voice.  I showed him some footage of the Brier to demonstrate what he should try and sound like and the response was: “yeah, i can do this, although watching the video, i really couldnt tell what the hell they are yelling.  should i just put my nuts in a vice and record the ensuing sounds?  with a canadian accent of course, eh.”
  • Puzzle With the Answer GARCIAPARRA (Solution) [with Chris “Scooby” Lyon and Laura Martini]: Martini wanted to do a State Fair based bring-us-food puzzle.  Editors were non-plussed and I came up with the GeoGuessr tie in.  And then somehow I was responsible for hacking the GeoGuessr interface to generate challenges that only drew from major US cities, exactly one per state with no repeats.  Omnigraffle is a godsend for generating that map — and Scooby, who came up with the list of foods, swears that green Jell-O is the state dish of Utah.  Setec (my money’s on Ann) won the best food award for the wild rice pudding.
  • Thank Heaven For Little Girls (Solution) [with Anand Sarwate]: When I was in Chicago filming the Yuki Nagato puzzle, Aaron Bader, Anand, and myself were lamenting that an answer word like BABY WIPE was never going to get assigned.  Somehow, walking through the Art Institute of Chicago, Anand and I came up with the idea of basing a puzzle around popular baby names.  At one point, it was going to involve diapers, but that fell through.
  • Hole Wizard (Solution) [with Harrison Bralower, primary author]: Using drill bit sizes and generating a Solidworks file that overlays on a crossword grid was all Harrison’s idea.  But a crossword grid was needed and with the addition of Kevin Der on our team, I hadn’t had a chance to flex those puzzle writing muscles yet, so I volunteered to write a hole themed grid for him.
  • Magic Mushrooms (Solution) [with Brandy Buckingham (primary author), Dan Katz, and Jason Juang]: My authorship on this one was pretty minimal — I wrote the slitherlink.  Oh, and I guess I generated all the pdfs and designed the mushrooms.
  • The White Queen’s Record/The Duchess portion of the final runaround [with Usman Akeju and onsite organization by Jonny Surick]: Usman had an idea for an audio puzzle that worked meshed very well with my idea that the White Queen round give you a record that you would have to figure out how to play on the final runaround, old school Mr. Wizard style. (In fact, I tested the idea of manually playing the record with my cousins’ kids over Thanksgiving and they were bowled over by the old school analog technology.) And so, working from Paris and San Francisco, Usman and I collaborated on creating an audio track of us simultaneously talking over each other in opposite directions. Meanwhile, Jonny Surick, king of the runarounds, gathered all the random objects, including a snow globe I bought at the Minneapolis airport on my way to hunt. You can see Lucky solving the record in the highlight video we link to.  A major shout out to Mike Dixon of LatheCuts.com for producing the records for us at a reasonable cost — they turned out great!
  • The Walker puzzle (solution) [poem by Anand Sarwate], Killian Court (solution) [poem by Anand Sarwate] and Building 37 (solution) [with Rob Rucinski, primary author] puzzles in the MIT runaround: I wrote these during our fall retreat. They are quite intentionally unsolvable unless you are on campus. (Mostly… I think the information to solve Killian is available on line.)

And finally, here are some puzzles I didn’t actually write, but played a role in producing:

  • The Humpty Dumpty Meta (Solution): I lent Hanna a pile of random objects to use in the photo, including my curling broom, the skull from 2004, and an ostrich eggshell that was decorated to be Humpty, which later broke.  I foolishly attempted to super glue the egg back together and let me tell you — nursery rhymes don’t lie.
  • A Mad Cocktail Party (Solution): The brainchild of Usman and Anand, I played the Butterfly with a think Sarah Palin-esque accent.  When a California group testsolved it, krobinso didn’t recognize that it was me.
  • Stalk Us Maybe (Solution): Primarily Jenelle’s baby, I am someone to be stalked in this puzzle.  You can actually find my fact in an old post on this blog.
  • The Revenge of Yuki Nagato Episode 00 (Solution): This puzzle is almost all Chieu.  I was in the movie and I still don’t understand the references to the source material.  But I am far too amused by the scene of Anand and Karen sitting on the bench swing.  Once you see what I’m referring to, you won’t be able to unsee it.
  • Cruciform Heraldry (Solution): I came up with the rather punny clue phrase for this one.  That’s all I did.
  • The Circle of Life (Solution): This was originally my idea on the day we got together to write quick back-up puzzles, but I outsourced the construction to Chris Lyon.  It was supposed to be a back up to A Mad Cocktail Party, where it had a much more fitting answer word.  However, once Anand and Usman finished their puzzle, this one sat on the back burner, despite being adored by testsolvers, until it was revived when another puzzle went down.  I found Queenie Leonard for Chris so that it would be doable with the new answer word and painstakingly watched the scene in 101 Dalmatians with the cows multiple times until I was certain I had screenshot Princess correctly.

Weekly baseball wrap up: A’s 6, Yankees 4

Standard
Weekly baseball wrap up: A’s 6, Yankees 4

Okay, at the suggestion of my father (and after all, it’s Father’s Day, so I ought to listen), I’m going to attempt to blog once a week, on Sunday nights.  And this is a good week to start, since I went to a baseball game on Tuesday… and life got in the way of writing about it until now.  The New York Yankees came to the Bay Area this week, and my friend e-mailed asking if I wanted to take in a game.  As long as he wasn’t a Yankees fan, I was down.  (He’s a Dodgers fan — I never know where NL fans loyalties lie in the American League.)

A funny thing happens in Oakland when the Yankees (or Red Sox or Giants) come to play… the Coliseum gets over run with away fans.  There are a large amount of New York (and Boston) transplants in the area, and Oakland tickets are cheap.  Last season when I went to see the Red Sox on the 4th of July, the Coliseum looked a little like Christmas with all the red in the green seats.  But even when Yankees or Red Sox are in town, there is one section of the stadium that remains rabidly loyal to the A’s — a section I have previously never sat in because I wasn’t sure I had the stamina:

The Right Field Bleachers.

All of the crazy things you hear about happening at the Oakland stadium: Jeff Francoeur sending pizzas and starting a bacon tradition, the drumming, the Bernie Lean, and Balfour Ragin’ all started in the right field bleachers.  These guys take being an A’s fan seriously.  So obviously, this is where we decided to sit to avoid the incoming glut of New Yorkers.  By some miracle, we managed to finagle a pair of seats in the second row… and by the 8th inning, someone left and we jumped up to the front, where taking part in the traditional festivities, like standing during the wave so as to stop it, was a requirement, not a suggestion.

So, while a non-trivial proportion of the rest of the stadium didn’t seem to be quite so excited when Coco Crisp started off the bottom of the 1st with a solo homerun, or watching Derek Norris go deep in the 4th inning, our section was having a blast.  C.C. Sabathia, who just might hold the record for the most pinstripes of any Yankee ever, gave up 6 runs over six innings while Bartolo Colon pitched six innings of shutout ball.  The final score may seem close, but it never felt that way.

At one point, we discovered that another mutual friend of ours was at the game.  And he saw us Balfour Raging in the front row of the bleachers in the 9th inning and snapped a picture.  (With his cell phone, so you’re just going to have to believe me when I tell you that one of those blurry people in a yellow A’s jersey is me.)

Read the rest of this entry

Twins 4, Braves 5; Twins 3, Braves 8

Standard

In my quest to visit all 30 MLB stadiums, I’ve gotten to the point where there aren’t really any stadiums left in places I might want to go where I know people to visit.  One of the remaining cities is Atlanta, and since the Twins were going to be playing there this year (for the first time since the 1991 World Series!), I figured that my only shot at visiting the stadium was to buy some plane tickets and go.  Which is what I did this week — I flew in on a red-eye Monday night/Tuesday morning, took in one game on Tuesday night, one game Wednesday afternoon, and then headed to the airport to fly back to San Francisco.  (It’s still not as crazy as the time I flew to Baltimore and back in one day.)

Before I get to the games, first a shoutout to Robyn at Bicycle Tours of Atlanta, who took me on a solo tour (since no one else booked) in the morning before I was able to check into my hotel.  Because it was just me, she was willing to mix up the tour a bit and take me to the ballpark, specifically the parking lot.  Why the parking lot?  Because that’s where Fulton County Stadium used to be and where they still have the basepaths laid out and a marker where Hank Aaron hit homerun 715 to break Babe Ruth’s record.  Warning me that if anyone saw us, they’d run us out, she had me bike around the bases and took a cute little video of it:

After the 15 mile bike ride through Atlanta and a nap, I headed to the current ballpark, Turner Field, for my first game.

The first thing that happened was that I attempted to go down and watch batting practice, but the usher wouldn’t let me into his section unless I took an “I came to chop” sticker.  I tried to politely decline by saying that I was a Twins fan, but he wouldn’t let that be a reasonable excuse.  I thought about bringing up that it’s also an awful racial stereotype, but over the years, I’ve learned that there are some people not worth having certain arguments with.  Don’t bring up politics with my mom’s family (except Uncle Bobby) and don’t try to explain race privilege* to an usher at an Atlanta Braves game.  So instead, I walked over to a different section to watch the Twins take BP until the game started.  But let’s be clear — I really and truly despise the tomahawk chop.  I hate it because of the 1991 World Series, I hate it because it’s an embarrassing racial stereotype which in 2013 we ought to be past, and I hate it because it’s an incredibly annoying rhythm that gets stuck in your head like the earworm from hell.  So, no, I will not wear your sticker, Mr. Usher.

The Braves broke things open with two runs in the first.  Mike Pelfrey looked pretty shaky on the mound for the Twins through two innings, but then a glorious thing happened.  In the top of the third, with the score 2-1, Joe Mauer got a single… and then it poured and thundered.  After a lengthy rain delay and brief power outage in the stadium, the game started up again.  Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau had back to back singles that resulted in Mauer scoring and tying the game.  When the bottom of the inning rolled around, Pelfrey was out and Anthony Swarzak was pitching instead.  Swarzak pitched four solid innings, only surrendering a solo homerun to Brian McCann in the 4th, which is actually pretty decent for Twins pitching this season.

In the 8th, the Twins managed to put together two runs on some classic Piranha Ball style singles (and a walk) to take the lead.  Glen Perkins came out in the 9th with a one run lead.  As one of the lone bright spots in the Twins pitching staff, I figured the game was in the bag.

I figured wrong.  With two outs and one strike, Braves rookie phenom Evan Gattis launched a solo shot to left to tie the game and we went into extras.  The Twins went hitless in the top of the 10th and the Braves… did not.  Heyward doubled, Justin Upton walked, and Freddie Freeman became the hero in Atlanta that night who drove Heyward home with a single.

After a good night’s rest, I braved the heat (and better seats!) for the Wednesday noon game the next day.  I was pleased to see Dan Gladden still trolling Braves fans by hanging a Kent Hrbek jersey out the press box right behind home plate for the third consecutive day.  (Ron Gant was totally falling over anyway, and Hrbek was just holding the tag on.)  Unfortunately, if Gladden was looking to jinx the Braves or bring good luck to the Twins, he failed.  Vance Worley gave up 8 runs in 3 and 2/3 innings of work, capped off by a grand slam by the previous night’s hero, Evan Gattis.  (Worley was demoted to AAA immediately following the game.)

The Twins scored once in the 6th on a Justin Morneau single and twice in the 9th off two rookie homers from Aaron Hicks and “Where’s Oswaldo?” Arcia, but 3 runs weren’t even close to enough.  However, I came close to getting a souvenir from Wilkin Ramirez.  In the top of the 7th, he took a swing at a pitch and just let the bat fly… and it landed three rows in front of me.

Despite the failure of the Twins to win either game, I still had a nice time in Atlanta.  The bike ride was great — I can’t recommend it enough if you’re ever in the area.  The stadium had its charms too… and if they’d get rid of the tomahawk chop, I’d consider making another trip back there in the future.  Pictures from the games below the jump.

Read the rest of this entry

All the games I went to and didn’t blog

Standard

I’ve been a terrible blogger.  There have been 9 games that I’ve been to since last September that I didn’t blog, not including the two in the last two days, which will get proper blog posts.  Luckily, they’re all in the score book, so I’ll just run them down here for my own record keeping, even though I’m sure you don’t care.  (“You” being… my dad?  People who haven’t migrated from Google Reader yet?)  But if you read all the way to the end, you can hear me play clarinet on KQED, in a bonus thing-I-should-have-blogged-but-didn’t.

  • September 2, 2012 – Kansas City Royals 5, Cleveland Indians 3 at Kauffman Stadium: I flew in for the weekend to visit Jenn and knock off a stadium before she tentatively left after med school.  (Now that it’s the future, it turns out she’s staying in KC for residency, but I didn’t know that then.  Regardless, visiting was good.)  Kansas City is a great baseball town — I highly recommend the Negro League Museum.  Within Kauffman Stadium, there was a nice Royals museum and video that covered the history of baseball in Kansas City from the Monarchs to the Athletics to the current team.  They didn’t mention this George Brett story, but that is what the Internet is for (NSFW).  It was free blanket night and the blanket is currently living in my closet.  Apparently Cord Phelps hit a two run homerun for Cleveland in the 5th to tie the game, but the Royals came back in the bottom of the inning to score three more runs.
  • September 18, 2012 – San Francisco Giants 5, Colorado Rockies 3 at AT&T Park: I honestly don’t remember being at this game, but it was a Tuesday night game and Michael Cuddyer was in town, so I probably popped over after work wearing my Cuddyer Twins jersey.  Except that Cuddy didn’t get any playing time, it seems.  I made a note that Angel Pagan hit his 14th triple of the season in the 8th inning, which set the SF Giants record.  George Davis had 27 in 1893 and Willie Mays has the modern day franchise record of 20, but that was all in New York
  • September 27, 2012 – San Francisco Giants 7, Arizona Diamondbacks 3 at AT&T Park: I don’t remember going to this game either.  The note says it was the last home game of the regular season.  It was an afternoon game, so I probably played hooky from work.  The Giants had their big inning in the 2nd, scoring 6 runs with homeruns from Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro and an RBI double from Hector Sanchez.  Even Barry Zito got in on the act with a single (and pitched 6 innings, giving up 3 earned runs with 3 Ks and 3 walks.)  There’s also a note that this is the game where a guy was trying to show off his baseball knowledge to me and tell me what a shame it was that Kirby Puckett wasn’t in the Hall of Fame.  When I corrected him on that, he then tried to save face by telling me that it was a posthumous induction.  I had to correct him again, pointing out that I was actually at the induction ceremony and I was pretty sure it wasn’t a ghost talking.  Yeah, I remember being at this game now — these are not good ways to hit on a Twins fan, gentlemen.
  • September 30, 2012 – Oakland Athletics 5, Seattle Mariners 2 at O.co Coliseum: There’s a giant mustard stain on the page for this game.  I must have eaten a hot dog.  This was in the midst of Oakland’s incredible end of the season run that eventually won them the AL West.  The game was tied at two from the 3rd inning until the bottom of the 8th when both Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick went deep for A’s, sandwiched around a Brandon Moss single.
  • October 3, 2012 – Oakland Athletics 12, Texas Rangers 5 at O.co Coliseum: I blogged this game and it was awesome.
  • October 9, 2012 – Oakland Athletics 2, Detroit Tigers 0 at O.co Coliseum (ALDS Game 3): I blogged this one too.
  • October 10, 2012 – A’s 4, Tigers 3 (ALDS Game 4): I can’t believe I didn’t blog this game — it was amazing!  (I recall racing to the airport to get to Ben and Caroline’s wedding in Philadelphia after this game.)  The A’s went down early, helped by a Prince Fielder homerun.  I remember that the energy amongst A’s fans was incredible and we were all sort of resigned that the Tigers were going to win the game (and thus the series) going into the 9th when the A’s were down 3-1.  But Oakland 9th inning heroics were the story of last season and this game was no exception.  Valverde came in to get the save, but instead started with two consecutive singles to Reddick and Donaldson, followed by a two run Seth Smith double to tie it up.  The stadium was electric!  Kottaras popped up to third and Pennington struck out and suddenly there were two outs, but it was a tie game with Coco Crisp at the plate.  On the very first pitch, he lined a single to center, which scored Smith… and I marked with four exclamation marks in the scorebook!!!!  The A’s won!!!!  Game 5 (which they would lose to Justin Verlander)!!!!
  • October 24, 2012 – San Francisco Giants 8, Detroit Tigers 3  at AT&T Park (World Series Game 1): I blogged this game, which Justin Verlander lost.
  • January 18-21, 2013 – The MIT Mystery Hunt: [The complete text of Atlas Shrugged] 1 coin, Other teams 0: This is not a baseball game, but it’s something I usually blog.  We actually won the Mystery Hunt this year.  It was long, I didn’t get nearly enough sleep, the only baseball puzzle was about the president’s race at the Nationals games, and now I’m in charge of writing next year’s hunt.  (Which I’d like to use an excuse for not blogging, but this was obviously an issue well before my free time became nothing but writing and editing puzzles.)
  • March 18, 2013 – Dominican Rep. 4, Netherlands 1 at AT&T Park (WBC semi-final): San Francisco hosted the World Baseball Classic this year… and tickets were very easy to come by off of StubHub, so I took in a game with my friend Paul.  The stadium was nearly empty and everyone booed whenever Hanley Ramirez (the hated Dodger) came to bat for DR.  Paul, a Dodger fan, loved it.
  • March 19, 2013 – Dominican Rep. 3, Puerto Rico 0 at AT&T Park (WBC final): I said WBC tickets were cheap and easy to come by?  I got this one for free!  I volunteered to help with the pre-game ceremony in exchange for a ticket.  (I’m the dot on the lower left of the Canadian flag.)  I couldn’t actually stay for the whole game, because I had a rehearsal that night,* but the Dominicans and Puerto Ricans were really into the game.  “This is the Giants-Dodgers rivalry of the Caribbean,” one Puerto Rican fan told me.  Samuel Deduno pitched a stellar game — which seemed great, given that he’s a Twins player.  But then he injured himself, so that was less great for Twins fans.
  • March 28, 2013 – Oakland Athletics 7, San Francisco Giants 3 at AT&T Park (Exhibition): A pre-season exhibition Bay Bridge series game.  The Giants gave away random grab bags of leftover giveaways from last season.  (Remember how I stood in line last season to get the Brian Wilson gnome?  Now I have two.)  It was pre-season, so there were player substitutions left and right and the scorebook is a mess, but the A’s more or less owned the Giants in this game.
  • April 12, 2013 – Detroit Tigers 7, Oakland Athletics 3 at O.co Coliseum: It was Justin Verlander day and 2012 Western Division Champion blanket giveaway day.  So obviously I went.  JV wasn’t as dominant as I’ve come to expect, but 6 innings, 1 ER, 3 hits, 3 walks, and 6 Ks is nothing to sneeze at.  Also, Prince Fielder is a monster — he hit a bomb to deep center field in the 4th that must have been long because I drew it going outside the box for his at bat.   The other half of the Tigers offensive double threat, Miguel Cabrera, went hitless on the day.  Also, it’s incredibly weird to see Torii Hunter in a Tigers uniform, but I stood up and cheered for him when he hit a solo homerun to left in the 2nd inning.
  • May 21 and 22, 2013 – Minnesota at Atlanta: I’m not horribly delinquent on these.  They’re getting their own posts (with pictures!) shortly.  But I just want to emphasize that I really, truly despise the Tomahawk Chop.  There will be more on this.

* Other thing I didn’t blog: I was in a workshop band performing selections from Beck’s Song Reader.  We were featured on KQED.  That is my clarinet solo you hear.  I’ve been asked to make an official studio recording in July.  Baseball related thing: You can hear Amal yell “Kirby Puckett!” at the beginning of Old Shanghai, letting me know that he made it to the gig  just in time.

The 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame class

Standard

Someone asked me over e-mail what I thought about the fact that the Baseball Writers Association of America elected no one to the Hall of Fame this year.  Unexpectedly, I found myself rambling on and decided, especially because I haven’t blogged since the World Series, that the e-mail would make a reasonable blog post.  So without further ado, my answer to “So, relatedly, how do you feel about no Hall of Famers this year?”  [The “relatedly” part is that I made a Pete Rose joke when asked to enter a pool on when I thought the Mystery Hunt would end.]

The concept of no Hall of Famers in a year doesn’t bother me per se — it happened in 1996 for no real good reason.  I don’t think they should be forced to induct someone if no one got the votes — and the Veterans Committee put Hank O’Day, Jacob Ruppert, and Deacon White in, Paul Hagan gets the Spink award, and Tom Cheek is getting the Ford C. Frick award, so it’s not like there will be no induction ceremony. But really what you’re asking me is my opinion on the steroid issue, right?

And speaking of Pete Rose, I think they ought to be consistent about Bonds/Clemens and Rose.

All three are unquestionably three of the greatest players to play the game on the basis of stats, all three knowingly cheated the spirit of the game, all three got caught, and all three lied about it despite an overwhelming amount of evidence against them.

So when Rose has his ban lifted, Bonds and Clemens can get in.  But Bonds and Clemens are likely going to get in in the future without Rose — also the 8 people who voted for Clemens and not Bonds need to have their heads examined.  (Or maybe living in San Francisco where Barry is still beloved has rubbed off on me a little.)  Likewise the person who voted for Aaron Sele, although if I had a vote I might have thrown one to Todd Walker just to be a bit of a troll and keep people on their toes.  Plus, Walker hit his first Major League homerun on my friend’s 15th birthday and we always kind of irrationally loved him for that.

As for the guys who didn’t get caught and are only suspected of steroids on the basis of “they had muscles,” then I’m a little more lenient.  After all, players in the 70s were all pepped up on greenies and Doc Ellis threw a freaking no-hitter while tripping on LSD.  (If you don’t know that story, or even if you do, you need to watch this.)  Not to mention that most steroids weren’t technically banned by baseball until 2002.*  Also a friend of mine once told me that his high school football coach more or less made all the starting players take androstenedione, which is what McGwire was caught taking in 1998.  And if high school football coaches were coercing their athletes to take the “supplement” (*cough*steroid*cough*) in the late 90s, perhaps we ought to place a little less blame on the athletes who took it and a little more on the entire sports culture that told them they had to take it.

[* Posnanski style addendum because I fact checked myself: Apparently commissioner Faye Vincent sent a memo to the teams saying steroids were illegal in 1991, but it was never enforced. A drug policy was enacted in 2002, but one of the terms was that first time offenders would be sent to treatment and their names not released. The current drug policy was enacted in 2005 after the whole BALCO scandal.]

Also Jack Morris, god love him for the greatest game 7 in World Series history, is not quite up to Hall of Fame caliber.  He’s close, but I don’t think he’s there and I don’t think he should get in on the basis of one game.  I say this even though I own a Jack Morris bobblehead doll that I once did this with (he’s the one that keeps morphing into Tom Kelly).

And at this point, I just want to point out that [Harrison] asked.

World Series Game 1: Giants 8, Tigers 3

Standard
World Series Game 1: Giants 8, Tigers 3

The World Series started yesterday down the street from me and my favorite pitcher (Justin Verlander) was pitching.  I knew tickets were going for insane prices, but I also knew that there was a dip in prices shortly before the game started.  And so, I bought a ticket for a 5:07 pmstart at 4:35 pm, printed out the ticket and ran to the stadium — literally.  Actually, I didn’t run straight there.  I stopped off at home and grabbed my camera first… and then continued running, Forrest Gump style.  I made it into the stadium just as the Star Spangled Banner was being played and made it to my (upper upper deck) seat just in time for the first pitch.

Now, I primarily decided to go to this game to see Verlander.  I even had my Tigers shirt on.  Unfortunately, dominant JV did not show up.  He gave up a solo homerun to the third batter, Pablo Sandoval… which would be the first of three homeruns for the Kung Fu Panda, putting him in a class with Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols.  Verlander settled down after that initial run and it looked like he might be his usual self, but then Angel Pagan’s double in the third with two outs happened and everything unraveled for the Tigers.

Now, to call Pagan’s hit a double was generous.  It looked initially like a routine grounder to third that might go foul.  But Miguel Cabrera was playing deep and just before it looked like he was going to field the ball, the ball bounced of the base, took a crazy hop, and wound up past Cabrera in left field.  By the time Delmon Young recovered it, Pagan was on second.  Marco Scutaro followed with a single that scored Angel and then the Tigers pitching coach went out for the most ineffective mound meeting ever.  The next batter? Pablo Sandoval, who hit his second homerun of the game.  It was really hard to keep rooting for the Tigers at this point, because the Giants fans were so excited.  (But I should note that at no point were the San Francisco fans even remotely as excited as the Oakland fans in the ALDS a few weeks ago.)

Once Verlander was pulled after the 4th, I zipped up my jacket and covered up my Detroit allegiances.  When the Panda hit his third homerun of the game, I was cheering right alongside the rest of the Giants fans.  After all, I was seeing history.

Game 2 is happening right now.  I thought briefly (not really) about going again, but StubHub tickets were more than double what they were yesterday, with no pre-game dip.  And so, I’m listening to Game 2 on the radio in the office instead of being at the stadium.  But I was there last night, so I can check “Attend World Series game” off the bucket list.

Pictures after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry