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IBNttT in 2011 [U]
Jan 2nd, 2012 by Dan

pachart

It’s time to look at the most popular posts on the blog over the last year. I was a little more apathetic about updating this year and my traffic suffered accordingly, dropping off by ~4,000 hits. The top posts haven’t changed too much, but here goes:

Top Posts

Remixed Objection, No Yakuza 3?, L4D2 (Again), and Pokémon Cosplay [Game Overview] (402)

I know precisely why this link is top of the list. It features a stunning picture of Jessica Nigri very liberally cosplaying a Pikachu. It seems sex sells. Surprise!

The Great American Ballpark Tour: Citizens Bank Park Review [Wednesday Morning Quarterback] (391)

My ballpark review was featured in an article talking about the ivy on Citizens Bank Park’s walls and the site was flooded with viewers.

Great Dwarf Fortress Stories [PC] (347)

I guess Dwarf Fortress is still niche-y and hard to find content about online. Surprise, haha.

Mother 3 Review [Big N] (304 )

I’m still super proud of this review. It was something I worked really hard on and I think it’s one of my better reviews.

Game Overview: The Villains of Final Fantasy Week 6 (114)

I can’t believe how many hits these things still get despite it being far from what I do on this blog any more. Interesting.

Runners Up:

Otakon 2010 [Photographic Memory]
The Villains of Final Fantasy Week 10 [Game Overview]
White Guilt and The Help [FB]

Otakon always gets tons of hits come con time, but the popularity of both The Help and talking about how quasi-racist it was got that post tons of hits on my blog that have tapered off since release.

2011 Hit Totals By Month

Jan: 3,248
Feb: 2,460
Mar: 2,384
Apr: 2,722
May: 2,599
Jun: 1,960
Jul: 2,321
Aug: 2,111
Sep: 2,068
Oct: 2,412
Nov: 2,031
Dec: 2,360
Total: 28,676

I can understand the hit drop off in 2011 based on how much I kept up with blogging. We’ll see if I’m more on top of things in 2012.

The Great American Ballpark Tour: Citizens Bank Park Review [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
May 26th, 2010 by Dan

Citizens Bank Park facade

Home of the (evil) Philadelphia Phillies

Believe it or not, I didn’t always hate the Phillies. One of my earliest baseball memories is watching Darren Daulton in the 1993 World Series, don’t ask me why that name sticks out, but it just does. I was even on a little league team that took the name Phillies (even though I desperately wanted to play on the Marlins). My childhood hatred was mostly directed toward the Atlanta Braves, the most dominant team in the NL East, and baseball in general, throughout the 90s. It wasn’t until I was in college that I began hating the team, mostly due to a co-worker’s insane degree of love for the Phils. Now that I live in Maryland, the proximity of the state of Pennsylvania doesn’t help things either, meaning I have to deal with fans of Philadelphia teams all year round. Couple in their bad fan reputation and their winning ways the past five years and you’ve got yourself genuine hatred for the division rivals.

Phillie Phanatic on the wall of Citizens Bank Park

The face of evil?

All that preamble just to say that I wasn’t exactly looking forward to going to Citizens Bank Park. I decided that I would wear my Marlins jersey to the park, but I was genuinely worried that I’d have to weather insults, jeers, thrown beer, or possibly worse. I mean, three days before I was set to visit the park, a fan was arrested for vomiting on an off-duty police officer and his children. I had no idea what I was in for, but after coming out of it alive, I’ll begrudgingly admit that Citizens Bank Park is one of the nicest parks I’ve ever been to.

Center Field at Citizens Bank Park

The batter's eye is really nice looking.

Like all ballparks designed after Camden Yards, CBP (as it will be abbreviated from here on out) was designed with that faux-retro aesthetic in mind. It means lots of brick, lots of open spaces in the concourses, and plenty of sight lines pointed toward the plate. When you’ve got a nice, historic organization like the Phillies, you can afford to go this route. I think that’s the chief reason why Nationals Park stands out among its peers. The team had no real history, so there was no reason to call back to the olden days of the Senators (although they probably should have). Philadelphia’s park features statues of Phillies greats scattered throughout the entire park, a restaurant dedicated to Harry Kalas, and whole regions, like Ashburn Alley, named for the organization’s greats.

Ashburn Alley

I always want to call it Crashburn Alley because of the Phillies blog with that name.

It’s an unspoken rule that all of the new ballparks need some kind of gimmick to make them stand out, architecturally, from their peers. Camden Yards has the warehouses, Citi Field has the Ebbets Field rotunda, Nationals Park has that weird, circular scoreboard, and CBP achieves this with a giant, replica Liberty Bell beyond center field. Whenever a home run is hit by the home team, the Liberty Bell actually rings, kind of like the Big Apple that rises out of the outfield after Mets home runs. It’s a neat little quirk that does give the park some flavor.

Liberty Bell at Citizens Bank Park

This one is cracked too?! What are the odds?!

Another little visual thing that I love are the flower planters along the left field wall. There’s not much more to say about them other than that they’re very pretty and add much needed color to the otherwise dominant red and green in the park.

Flowers in right field at Citizens Bank Park

I like flowers. So what.

Also like other new ballparks, a lot of CBP’s food options are actually local restaurants. There is a Chickie’s & Pete’s stand, one local cheesesteak restaurant is rotated into the park each year, and the ice cream comes from the local Turkey Hill Dairy. Unlike some other parks, CBP has a super liberal policy about food from outside the park. So long as there’s no glass, they’ll allow it in the ballpark. I saw a guy who was bringing in three boxes of pastries. The people sitting next to me pulled out sandwiches from a local deli, an entire bag of potato chips, and drinks to go with their meal. I’d like to see more blue collar policies like this with respect to out of park food. Sure, you lose a few sales at the concessions, but you earn so much goodwill I think it’s worth it. I wish I’d known how liberal their policy was, I had a whole cheesesteak hidden in my pockets.

Chickie's & Pete's at Citizens Bank Park

I didn't know I was supposed to try the Crab Fries here. Next time, I guess.

This year Nationals Park started having a starting nine group of children come out before the players to add some local flavor and help introduce the team. I saw the same thing in Japan a few times, but in Japan and at CBP, they intelligently have the players each come out holding a baseball. When they reach their tiny counterparts, they sign the ball, give it to the kid, and then the kids leave the field after the National Anthem plays. Everyone loves kids. This is always a success no matter where I see it done.

Kids at Citizens Bank Park

Like all other ballparks, they grab (cheap) local talent to do things like sing the National Anthem.

No article about CBP is complete without mentioning the most ostentatious feature of the ballpark, the Phillie Phanatic. The green monstrosity is one of the more controversial mascots in baseball. His antics have made a few enemies, most notably Tommy Lasorda, formerly of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but they’re mostly harmless pranks that seem to go a few steps beyond what mascots in any ballpark would do. It’s the kind of thing that fits the city of Philadelphia and their team aesthetic well and it’s insanely funny 99% of the time. In the one game I witnessed, I watched him mock Marlins players throwing, attack the Marlins broadcaster, get shoved by Hanley Ramirez, steal fan caps, mess up countless people’s hair, and ride all around in his little car. He’s a pretty cool mascot, even if he is evil.

Phillie Phanatic speeding along

This is my absolute favorite picture that I got of this evil bastard.

Citizens Bank Park is a great place to see a game, what can I say? The fan base is passionate and devoted to the team, the park is nice and new, and they have great food policies. They’re also ridiculously close to Maryland, so if you’re a local reader, you really should just pop up there if you’re interested. I was there and back before midnight after the game.

Gaby Sanchez on the Citizens Bank Park scoreboard

Another reason I'm sure I loved this park: Check out the Marlins score right now. This gap did not appreciably close all night.

A Cold Night in Philadelphia: The Weekend’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Apr 19th, 2010 by Dan

The Phanatic likes to mess around with everyone, including reporters.

I spent a far-too-cold night at Citizens Bank Park freezing my butt off, but enjoying a Marlins victory over Fish-killer Jamie Moyer. A review of the park should be hitting soon, but I’ve got to finish writing it first.

16 April

NPB
Chunichi Dragons (3) at Hiroshima Carp (4). If I’m not mistaken, this one was won in extra innings. A thrilling victory for the Carp.

Rakuten Eagles (1) at Softbank Hawks (9). The losing streak continues

MLB
Florida Marlins (6) at Philadelphia Phillies (8). Roy Halladay throws 8 innings of 2-run baseball that’s almost ruined by his relief in the 9th. Florida doesn’t have enough to get the last two, but they make it interesting.

Milwaukee Brewers (3) at Washington Nationals (5). Is this a two-game win streak I smell?

Baltimore Orioles (2) at Oakland Athletics (4). It just gets uglier and uglier for the Os.

17 April

NPB
Dragons (7) at Carp (8). It’s always refreshing to see my other Fish manage so many runs. More late-inning heroics push Hiroshima up and give them the series win.

Eagles (8) at Hawks (3). The Golden Eagles have tons of run-scoring potential, but they’re often unable to get it done. When you’ve got Iwakuma and Ma-kun pitching Saturday and Sunday, respectively, you’d better score runs to capitalize on good pitching performances.

MLB
Brewers (0) at Nationals (8). Liván Hernández shows, once again, that he is still an amazing pitcher. I’ll never forget his performance for the Fish in 1997 and it makes me happy that he’s still going so strong. 3-game win streak for the Nats.

Orioles (3) at Athletics (4). More ugliness. How much longer will Dave Trembley have a job if things continue like this? Is there some unspoken Baltimore-Washington rule that one of the teams must be terrible?

Marlins (5) at Phillies (1). The game I was at. What a beauty. Good thing the Fish got to Jamie Moyer early, because the bats were mostly silent after the first inning.

Tampa Bay Rays (3) at Boston Red Sox (1). This game started on Friday, but was rain-delayed in the 9th inning at a 1-1 tie. It resumed and went for 12 before finally getting resolved in Tampa Bay’s favor.

Rays (6) at Red Sox (5). Should have been more of a blow-out for the Rays than it was, but Longoria’s home run turned out to be the difference.

18 April

NPB
Eagles (0) at Hawks (1). Masahiro Tanaka throws a gem of a game that the Hawks win with in the bottom of the 9th while Ma-kun tried to get his 27th out. It’s a shame that he goes for so many and his offense does squat for him. Rakuten finishes the week in fifth with 8-15-0 with a huge 8.5 game deficit.

Dragons (2) at Carp (4). Was this what I think it was? A series sweep by the Carp! Could this mean fortune is beginning to favor Hiroshima? The Carp close the weekend 9-11-0 in fourth and only three games back from first.

MLB
Marlins (2) at Phillies (0). Lefty Nate Robertson does what he was hired to do: kill Phillies left-handed hitters. The Marlins win yet another series and raise their standing to 8-5 putting them half a game back on the Phils.

Rays (7) at Red Sox (1). An amazing performance by Matt Garza puts the Rays ahead of the Sox yet again. If Tampa Bay can manage one more win in this long series, they’ve got themselves a sweep on their hands. Should they manage said sweep, it would be the second sweep of the Sox at Fenway in Rays history. The Rays are 9-3 and tied for first with the Yankees.

Brewers (11) at Nationals (7). Jason Marquis has the ugliest performance of his career, giving up seven runs in the first inning without recording an out. He’s pulled and the Nats give up three more. They make a strong comeback effort, but it’s not quite enough. They’re playing 0.500 baseball, folks, with a 6-6 record that puts then in fourth, but only two games back from Philadelphia. Also great is that they’re two games above New York. Fantastic baseball being played so far.

Orioles (8) at Athletics (3). The skid ends for Baltimore, but the damage has been done. Baltimore is only 2-11 and a gigantic (for this point in the season) 7.5 games back. Ouch.

Sweet Maps, NL East?, NL West [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jul 1st, 2009 by Dan

It’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

Ever wondered which baseball team you should be rooting for, based on geographic location in the US? Wonder no more.

I do believe you have now found an acceptable excuse for not rooting for a baseball team if you live in Utah.

Injuries, Home Losses, and the Fish Are Back!

The NL East has had what some may call a troubled month.

The NY Mets are basically fielding a AAA team due to all the injuries their players have suffered on the field. It’s a wonder that the team is even in contention at this point, but it seems like it’s starting to catch up to them. The recent losses in interleague didn’t matter too much, since the Marlins and Phillies also lost a few, but they’re now three games back. It’s kind of crazy to think about how close they are, considering that they’re a sub 0.500 team. Who in their right mind would have believed that the Giants, Rockies, and Reds would have better records than the Mets so close to the All-Star break?

Meanwhile, the Phillies have a bit of a problem. They almost never win at home. Their 13-22 record in Citizens Bank Park (that’s a 0.371 win rate, if you’re curious) just looks ridiculous compared to their away record of 26-12 (0.684). For those of you keeping score at home, the only team with a worse home record: the Washington Nationals (13-25 0.342). Pathetic. It’s a wonder they’re in first place.

Which brings me to my next point: the Marlins are only 1.5 games out of first! We’re coming back! This is mostly due to Josh Johnson’s fantastic pitching combined with Ricky Nolasco’s recovery from his minor league stint and some fantastic performances put up by rookie Sean West. Our young rookie didn’t do quite as well last night, but the Marlins were still able to put together a win. If they keep at it, it’s possible the Fish could even be in first by the all-star break.

West Wins?

A lot of strange things have been happening out in the west of late. While LA remains six games ahead of the Giants and wants for a challenge, the Giants have miraculously emerged as a powerhouse, leading the wild card race with the Colorado Rockies (I know!) 1.5 games back. There’s got to be something wrong with this picture…

My best guess: the NL East is really hurting right now, the NL Central is weak and beating up on each other, and the NL West is bizarrely having a great year. This could throw my pre-season predictions completely off balance!

The rest of the news

Manny Ramirez will be starting back up with the Dodgers next week as he completes his fifty game suspension. There was a lot of talk about his playing for the minor leagues when suspended, but I think it’s alright. I mean, if the rules were in place to forbid it, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. MLB wants it this way, so why does everyone care?

Another letter of mine was featured on an ESPN podcast. If you listen to the 24 June Play Ball! episode you’ll get to hear a letter written by me criticizing the press’ (specifically Christine Brennan’s) perception of bloggers. I want to note that I fully support Brennan’s work as a journalist and I think she’s a fine example for women everywhere, I just took umbrage with her claims that the enthusiast press, for lack of a better term, was useless, uninformed, and unethical. We don’t have the training or the access, but I think we do an important job. I’m pretty sure my brothers would know nothing about baseball if it wasn’t for this weekly post I did, so it can’t be all that bad.

The All-Star game approacheth! The game will be played on 14 July, approximately two weeks from now. My plan is to live-blog it (for real this time) on Tuesday night. As a result, there won’t be a true WMQ post that Wednesday (15 July) unless I want to sum up the game. I can’t wait for the game. I hope the NL can finally knock the AL down from its lofty perch.

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: Marlins and Rays Update, Tropicana Field Review
Aug 6th, 2008 by Dan

You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ’em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

Florida Marlins

It’s been a while since you’ve last heard from me about the Marlins, but it’s funny how things haven’t changed much since then. The Fish remain 1.5 games back from the Phillies as of today and are, once again, in a series that will challenge the very fabric of their team.

The next few games pit the Marlins against the Phillies and Mets, the teams directly above and below them in the standings. I’ll be fortunate to definitely attend a game against the Mets at Shea and I might even go to Citizens Bank Park for the Phils game this Thursday. My goal of attending a ball game at every major league ballpark isn’t going to achieve itself, is it?

I’ll be crossing my fingers to move the Marlins into first over the Phils. They’ve already achieved quite a feat by beating Jamie Moyer last night. The Marlins were 0-10 against Moyer up until last night when they broke the Moyer hex. Hopefully the win streak begins and remains against him for the future.

Tampa Bay Rays

In Rays news, Tampa remains in first place a full three games ahead of Boston (QUICK ASIDE: Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers! WTF is Boston thinking??) and are holding strong in a series against the bane of their existence, the Cleveland Indians. At this point all that remains for the Rays to do is continue their strong performances and stay in first in the AL East.

Tropicana Field Review

This Sunday I got a chance to see another baseball game at Tropicana Field and boy was I surprised to see a new, reinvigorated ballpark. My tickets were pretty sweet, thanks to my younger brother getting them from the company he’s interning at, located in right field just past first base about 30 rows up from the field, so I feel like I got a good chance to evaluate the stadium.

When I was last in the Trop, back in 2004, the stadium was pretty different with different screens and, more importantly, a different color scheme due to the uniform and name change this year. Formerly a green and purple colored team, the renamed Rays are now a dark blue and light blue team and the new stadium looks very nice in the new color scheme.

Also great in Tropicana Field are some of the new fan traditions. Taking inspiration from the SNL skit, fans are encouraged to bring cowbells to the stadium and use them in cheers, specifically when opposing batters have two strikes on the count.

Unfortunately, the Trop is plagued by a few problems as a consequence of its dome. Sure, being indoors in the Tampa Bay sun is a good idea, however, their climate control system is not as effective as it should be, creating a kind of stale, stuffy environment that doesn’t make for a comfortable sit during the game. The dome itself is a bit of an issue too, with the low rafters in the outfield affecting high fly balls and, in general, the non-retractable nature of the dome being an issue. Sure, in the super-hot summer complete with ridiculous rains, why would you want to have the dome open unless you’re me and love the hot weather, but on cooler days or nice days, not having the option really does affect your ability to enjoy the game.

Tropicana Field is an average stadium to see a game in. You could do worse for a baseball field :cough: Dolphin Stadium :cough:, but it still doesn’t even come close to my favorite (so far), Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

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