Joe Mauer has made his retirement official and it has me reflecting on favorite ballplayers and how our relationships with them change as we age.
As a thank you for being the director of the incredibly-awesome-if-I-do-say-so-myself Alice Shrugged 2014 Mystery Hunt, our equally awesome-if-I-do-say-so-myself team of editors and testsolving coordinators* bought me a pair of tickets to tonight’s Twins-Giants game at AT&T Park, sitting in the third row right behind first base, which allowed me to stare at Joe Mauer and Buster Posey all night. I took my Fraggle Rocks** teammate, Jen Perez, who was even willing to wear my spare Twins jersey, despite being a Padres fan from San Diego.
The game started off well for the Twins. Brian Dozier doubled down the left field line on the first pitch of the game. But then it went south fast. Dozier got picked off trying to steal third very quickly and in the bottom of the first, Angel Pagan did not immediately squander his lead off double and the Giants wound up scoring three on a Pablo Sandoval homerun to right. (There was a challenge early in the inning which resulted in Hunter Pence being safe at first instead of out as the umpire’s originally ruled it. Yes, it was the right call, but man, oh man, do I hate this new challenge system.)
In the top of the third, it looked like the Twins were going to make a ballgame out of it when Brian Dozier led off with a single and Joe Mauer followed with a deep shot to Triples Alley, which sure enough, wound up being an RBI triple. Parmelee hit a ground ball to second, which allowed Mauer to score and suddenly the Twins were within one. Unfortunately, they never scored again, which was not true for the Giants, who piled on an additional three runs throughout the game, including one on a Hicks homerun and later a Hicks sacrifice fly.
Which Hicks, you ask? This is a fair question as both the Giants and the Twins had a guy named Hicks batting 8th. And for a brief period, they both were batting .194. But then Brandon Hicks of the Giants hit his homerun and his average went up to .200, whereas Aaron Hicks of the Twins, well, he’s now batting .192. In other similarities between the two teams, both feature a first baseman who is a former MVP catcher with at least one batting title and a wife who had twins: Joe Mauer and Buster Posey.
Finally, I’m sure Jen would be disappointed if I left out one of the major sources of entertainment for the evening: the guys behind and to the right of us who, from about the 5th inning through the 8th inning, relentlessly hassled the Twins bullpen catcher to “give the kid a ball.” Which kid? Well, I’m not sure they knew or cared, initially, but eventually they picked a pet kid sitting in our section with a Giants hat on. It seemed pretty clear to me that they were pissing off the bullpen catcher, but eventually — eventually — he gave the kid a ball. Actually, it was a different kid wearing a Twins jersey, but it did seem to satisfy the guys to the point that they stopped chanting. That and the usher came over and threatened to kick them out if they didn’t stop now that a kid had a ball.
All in all, a great night… and I’ll be back on Sunday, sitting much farther away from the field, hoping for a different outcome in the score!
* I believe this includes Jason Juang (who actually purchased the tickets and delivered them to me), Aaron Bader, Brandy Buckingham, Robbie Buckingham, Jamie Clark, Harvey Jones, Dan Katz, Roger Morash, Chieu Nguyen, and David Wilson. If a non-editor/non-testsolving coordinator also went in on the tickets, someone should tell me.
** Is that not the best name for a curling team you’ve ever heard?
Twins win! Twins win!
Given the week they’ve had (i.e. they were no hit in their last game and hadn’t scored a run since Monday), I’m extra excited at having attended a win tonight. I got up this morning and flew to Seattle where my mother was already waiting for me — after having herself quite the adventure last night. (My mom is, uh, not a seasoned traveler. But she managed not to go to the hospital, so that’s something.) We headed out to the game early to check out some batting practice and get out of the rain.
That’s right, we went to the game to get out of the rain — because Safeco Field has a retractable roof. And actually, as far as ballpark roofs go, this was by far the best one I’ve ever seen, because it’s only a roof and there are no high walls. It doesn’t seal up the ballpark and the fresh air still comes in from outside. (By the middle of the game, I might have been a little bit wishing that the air was less
freezing fresh.) Two thumbs up from me — plus the oyster po’boy was pretty delicious.
And as an added bonus, we were treated to a pre-game concert by Mike McCready, lead guitarist of Pearl Jam, who played the national anthem Jimi Hendrix style… and I recorded it for the Internet to enjoy, missing the first phrase:
And then there was the very excellent game that The Twins Won!! In particular, the 7th inning when they scored three runs on a Parmelee double, two walks, a fielding error, a fielder’s choice, and a Joe Mauer single. It wasn’t exactly an offensive juggernaut, but it got the job done as Carl Pavano and the Bullpen (new band playing covers at the local bar?) held the Mariners to only two runs. Matt Capps even came and pitched a 1-2-3 9th inning with two strikeouts. It’s a Star Wars Day miracle! (May the fourth be with you…) Maybe they can do it again tomorrow when I attend a game with my mother and Amittai?
Last fall before I went to Alaska, I bought myself a fancy new camera — not a DSLR, but a fancier model than my old point and shoot that fit in my pocket. (It’s a Panasonic DMC-FZ35 if that means anything to you.) It has an 18x zoom and a burst mode. These two features combined mean that it’s excellent for taking pictures at baseball games. Thus, I have literally thousands of pictures from all the games I’ve gone to this year — and this doesn’t even count all the pictures I took with my old camera after the new one was accidentally left back in Minnesota. Most of the pictures are pretty dull and redundant — batters taking pitches or swinging and missing. However, there is the occasional treasure.
And so, as an excuse to blog even though the baseball season is over, here are my 10 favorite pictures from various baseball games I went to this season. (Also, I figured out I can embed slideshows, so this seemed like a good first slideshow.)