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Evan Longoria and An Amazing Night of Baseball [WMQ]
Sep 29th, 2011 by Dan

Longoria at Bat

Not the same at bat as last night, but you get the idea (Picture courtesy DJOtaku)

What an amazing night! Wow, that was fantastic! I was just on the edge of my seat all last night…

My evening began with the final Marlins game of the year against the Nats. It was the end of an era, really. The Florida Marlins are technically no more (they’re officially no more on 11 November) and I wish they closed out Joe Robbie Stadium with a bang, but instead they went out with a whimper. That happens when you face Stephen Strasburg, I guess. Still, listening to Mike Lowell reminisce about the old team and ballpark and just seeing it all finally come to an end is kind of heartbreaking. I hope that the new name reinvigorates Miami like it did for Tampa. I also really hope the “leaked logos” are not the official logos. We’ll see come November.

In bigger news, the Tampa Bay Rays locked a playoff spot in dramatic fashion. They scarily fell behind the Yankees 7-0 thanks to a grand slam by Teixeira and countless other home runs and they didn’t really make a dent until the 8th. Then things started to happen.

The bases loaded. Walk. 7-1. Hit by pitch. 7-2. Sacrifice fly. 7-3. THREE RUN HOME RUN BY LONGORIA! 7-6!

Finally it was bottom of the 9th. Two outs. Two strikes. Dan Johnson steps up and recreates the 2008 magic. Home run barely over the right field fence! Tie game!

Nothing much happens until the 12th. Minutes before his at-bat, the Red Sox manage to lose their rain delayed game to the Orioles in walk-off fashion. Longoria comes up to the plate. Works the count to 2-2. Fouls off a pitch…HOME RUN BARELY CLEARS THE LEFT FIELD WALL! The Rays are going to the playoffs!

It was a wild night with an added bonus: the Braves managed to blow their game too and were eliminated from the playoffs. What. A. Night.

You’re Blocking My View! [WMQ]
Apr 6th, 2010 by Dan

I'm trying to watch the game here!

Fellow Sports Fans,

We need to have a chat. There are unspoken rules of etiquette at live sporting events. We all spent good money to buy our seats and watch the action. Everyone wants to see the big plays as they happen. It’s why we paid to be here!

So then why did I have my view obstructed for so many of the at bats yesterday? You want to get a soda or you need to go to the bathroom. That’s fine and good, but you shouldn’t be getting up to do it in the middle of an at bat! The time for walking is in between batters if you’re going to move quickly and you’re relatively near the concourse. It’s between innings otherwise.

When I was a kid going to games at what was then called Joe Robbie Stadium, the ushers didn’t let you head to your seats until those aforementioned times. In almost every other ballpark I’ve been to it’s just chaos. Official Nats policy is to follow this convention, but they’re hardly strict about it. They allow fans to walk to their seats at all times. This Nats fan yesterday and I had the following exchange.

Nats Fan: (Bewildered) Why are we standing here?

Usher: We’re waiting for a pause in play.

Nats Fan: (Sarcastically) The pitcher’s not throwing the ball right now. That’s a pause in play.

Me: I think they mean between batters.

Nats Fan: (Incredulous) That’s ridiculous! Why do I have to wait to go to my seat for that?

Me: (Angry) Because it’s obnoxious to not be able to see the pitcher throw the ball because people are walking down to their seats.

Nats Fan: …

It’s bewildering.

Sports fans, I’m calling upon your common decency and asking you nicely. Please don’t start walking to your seat between pitches. You will be someone’s way when they want to see what’s going on and no one likes it when their view is obstructed.

Annoyed, but hopeful that things can change,

Dan

PS: Figure out where you’re seated or what you need to do before you start walking down. The aisles are not a place for conversation or hesitation. You should be quickly getting to your seats.

PPS: The aisles are also not a place for you to stand and talk to your friends. Take a knee if you’re gonna be there for a while chatting about inane nonsense. I’m already annoyed by your stupid conversation, but you being in the way of the batter is worse.

Strasburg Debut and The Next Generation [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Mar 10th, 2010 by Dan

Stephen Strasburg finally made his Major League debut in spring training yesterday and he was everything that the Nationals could have hoped he would be in two innings. After receiving 15 M$ before ever throwing a pitch, you’d certainly hope he was amazing, but will he make the starting rotation?

His first two innings had two strikeouts, two hits, and no earned runs, making him somewhat of an oddity on a Nationals pitching staff that averages an over 10.00 ERA so far in spring training. Strasburg’s fastball was in the 96-98 MPH range over the 27 pitches he threw, with a few changeups around 91 and a wicked 81 MPH breaking ball. The man seems like he can pitch so far, but we’ll have to see how he does over the rest of spring training.

The question of whether or not he will make the opening day roster is not so cut and dry as whether or not he succeeds during spring training. There’s also the question of whether or not he needs more minor league experience to keep from burning out and the more important question of his contract. The way that baseball works is that once a player enters a full MLB level roster, his service clock toward free agency begins. Will the Nats try and wait him out so that they can have guaranteed control over him for longer? Can they afford to do that with the way they played last season? Who would come and fill the seats if they knew that Strasburg was being greedily held in AAA to save money?

In any case, the man’s only thrown 27 major league pitches, but I find myself buying into the hype. I’m pumped for this season. Hopefully I won’t have to watch such painfully bad baseball this year.

***

I don’t have any kids. This is actually a great thing for a guy in my position (24, single) and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The only time that I ever wish I did is when baseball season rolls around each year. I don’t know why, but there’s something about the game that makes me want to bring youngsters to the ballpark to take in the beauty of the sport.

It’s not like going to my first baseball game was a religious experience to me or anything, but I can remember the first time I took in a game at Joe Robbie Stadium (as it was named then) back in 1993, wide-eyed and seven years old. The Marlins were a new team in the MLB, I was playing my second or third year of baseball, and it was glorious. Joe Robbie’s seats were (and still are) orange, the sun was bright and hot, and I forever fell in love with a team dressed in teal. Throughout the years I remember going back to the stadium a few times with my dad, uncle, and even my little league baseball team, but I haven’t been to see the Marlins at home since 1998.

The team no longer wears teal, the stadium has changed names more times than any reasonable stadium should, and my family doesn’t even live in Miami anymore. Eric, David, and I are all in our twenties. Neither Dave, Eric, nor my parents care about baseball at all, but there is hope. My parents adopted three children and I’m sure that Eric will produce a child any day now. The next generation is coming and I have a chance to bring the American past-time to them.

There was a longstanding rule in my household that us children had to play a sport to keep busy and physically fit throughout the year. Like good Cuban boys, Eric, David, and I all started out playing baseball, but I’m the only one who really stuck with it. The new kids are getting to that age where it makes sense to start them up with some sports, but I’m wondering if they’ll end up trying their hand at the great game. More than that, I wonder what I can do to encourage it.

Given their age, it would be suicidal to try and take them to a Rays game, especially as a unit. The three of them wouldn’t be able to sit through one at-bat, much less an entire inning. The best thing to do, I think, would be to try and play catch with them instead or perhaps watch some baseball on the television with them. Chances are they’ll get bored partway through the game, but the seed will be planted. I already know they like playing catch and, honestly, what kid could resist trying to beat a ball with a club anyway, so it should be pretty easy, provided my parents start to enroll them in baseball teams, to build up a love for the game.

Of course, if I fail at it with this batch of kids, I’ve always got those future nephews or nieces to try on or, god forbid for many years to come, my own children.

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