Monday, July 25, 2011

Camden Yards Pics

I took 'em during my two-day excursion, so I might as well show 'em.  Notice Rick Dempsey, Eutaw Street, the warehouse that had once shown those huge numbers for Ripken, and the clock tower and castle tower.  Good stuff.  Click on 'em to make 'em bigger.  Here they are:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Two Days in Baltimore

Photo 1: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, on 7.20.2011, at 1:36 pm.  100 degrees.  With the famous warehouse in the background.

Photo 2: Same.  Look at the seats.  Does this look like 35,000 fans to you?  (Click on the pic, if necessary, to see it better.)  Read below.
Well, actually, it was more like 24 hours, and, despite the two Sox/Orioles games I saw there this week, those 24 hours can best be described in one word:

HOT.  And I do mean HOT.  VERY HOT.  I'm talkin' 100 degrees.  My friend and I were extremely thankful that we sat beneath an overhang, and we felt honestly terrible for those who had to sit in the sun all day.

Camden Yards was beautiful, as always.  I like the area; easy to move around in.  Looks like the greenage wants to take over, or maybe it just seems that way because everything's so laid out.  I'm from RI, so that's new for me.

The people were very friendly, as usual, and laid-back.  Maybe too much so--they think nothing of standing up and talking during the game, even important at-bats.  At Fenway they would've been insulted and showered with beer.  Fenway's known for lots of movement, but these two days in Baltimore--with half the crowd--was the worst movement and people blocking the action that I have ever seen.  Maybe it was the heat.  Speaking of the attendance, it was lower than I'm used to, even in terms of the number of Sox fans going to Fenway South.  Maybe because it was in the middle of the week.  Orioles fans seemed more numerous than before, but maybe that was because of the lack of Sox fans, and the usual empty seats.  The Orioles scoreboard showed about 35,000 for each game; I assure you it was closer to 22,000 for each.  I've not before seen such blatant lying like that in terms of attendance figures.

As for the games:

Game 1 was just blah for the Sox.  They fielded and batted like they were exhausted, which they probably were.  I've only played ball for a short time, and at the end I was playing two doubleheaders--four games--on the weekends.  (This is when I played Vintage League ball--no gloves!)  Those last two games, and especially that very last game, I played like I was sleepwalking.  You try not to, but that's a lot of baseball in wool uniforms in 95 degree weather.  The Sox in game one played like that.  They'd won the night before, and they'd win the next day, but in the middle they were coasting.  You hate to say that as a fan--and as a paying fan who'd driven 7 hours from RI--but as a former player, you understand.  I explained above about four games in two days; that in no way compares to a 162-game season with a lot of traveling.  Probably the Sox would've been better off playing their bench, but that would've looked very bad indeed.

Game Two was much better, as the Orioles this time played like sleepwalkers.  They had one potential inning, when they had the bases loaded with one out, but Tatum, their catcher, hit into a double-play, and that was it.  Miller looked much better than Weiland, who's probably not ready for the bigs.  Granted Miller is an established pro with a few teams, but he still just looked overall better, though you could argue that Weiland might have better stuff.  But Miller knows how to use what he has.  You'd swear as an athlete-wannabe that you could get off the couch and get a hit off him, but that's the point: He's pro enough to slip out of problems.  Weiland still walks too many; Miller does, too--he walked the bases loaded in the inning explained above--but he can wiggle his way out.  He's essentially a .500 pitcher with junkball stuff who'll give up more hits than innings pitched, but that's essentially what a good 5th pitcher is.

Adrian Gonzalez came alive at the plate in these two games, DHing once.  He'd gone 2 for 24 after I bought the picture mentioned in a recent blog. (I bought the one with Ps. 24:7 on it.)  Reddick continued to rake at the plate before he cooled off recently when Francona told him he was the guy in right.  He's come back to life in the last two days against the Mariners at Fenway.  Pedroia was awesome, as usual.  Ortiz served out his suspension all three games in Baltimore, as I'd predicted he would.  It's obvious that he's more needed against the Rays than he is against the Orioles.

Overall, good games, good city, good times and easy driving, and we even got to listen to John Sterling make a fool of himself in the Yanks' win over the Rays (who played dead and are now slipping in the standings), as usual.  Granderson, apparently, is "sorta grandy," and worthy of singing "the Grandy-man can, the Grandy-man can."  How this man makes millions is beyond me.  Sure, he's got the radio numbers, but wouldn't anyone who calls Yankees games have millions of listeners?  And don't even get me started on Susan--"Well, you know, Susan, my dear..."


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Adrian Gonzalez and Ps. 27:1

Photo: (AP/Ross D. Franklin) Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox, hitting a homer in the 4th inning of the All-Star Game

Interesting thing I discovered today.  I'm looking to buy an Adrian Gonzalez (first baseman, Boston Red Sox) autographed picture and I saw two that I liked on two different sites.  (I won't mention their names.)  One site has an 8X10 and another a 16X20.  I'd prefer the larger one, as 8X10s don't often show up well when framed, etc.  But this 8X10 is much more clear than the larger picture, as the larger one shows him swinging, but you can't see the face well--and the computer simulations on  the site showed that his face and foot would be covered by the frame and mattes.  (A salesperson assured me this wasn't actually going to happen.)  The 8X10 was very clear, and the autograph was very striking, and the face was clear.  A headshot, really.

But then I noticed the really interesting thing.  I've looked at a ton of Adrian Gonzalez autographed items--bases, uniforms, bats, cards, baseballs, photos, lineup cards, everything.  Underneath every single autograph on every single item, he writes Ps 27:1, a reference to Psalms 27:1, which reads:

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Every single item, under every single autograph, without fail.  There are articles about him doing this; he's quite the fanatic about it, and I mean that in a good way.  He engraves Ps 27:1 into all of his bats, and I'm not just talking about the ones he autographs; I'm talking about the ones he uses.  Ps 27:1, always.

But not on the 16X20 I was looking at, the one I called the salesperson about.  This woman told me that athletes change their signatures all the time, which I'm not sure I believe, either.  Players I've spoken to are anxious about fans getting their autographs just to sell them online, and they're worried about forged products with their "autographs" on them.  Not only do these flood the markets and lower the value of the real thing; they also gyp the player out of his cut, since he never really signed it to begin with.  So no Ps 27:1, and I also then noticed that the A and D in his first name--the only legible letters--and the G and L in his last name--also the only legible letters in his last name--look a little bit (but noticeably) different in the 18X20.  And the 18X20 is actually priced a bit lower than the 8X10, which I've also never seen before.

Now, I want to make it clear that I'm not accusing anybody of anything.  I suppose it's possible that for the first time in his athletic life, Gonzalez forgot to put the Ps 27:1 on this particular item--each time he signed it.  But I don't want to take that chance.  I'll bet that signing the Ps 27:1 is just as much a part of his signature as is each letter of his name.  If he signed all of the photos without it--and this photo was only available to the public a few days ago, on All-Star night (during which he hit the first, but, alas, not the last, homer)--I'll bet it was because someone told him to leave it out.  Or they air-brushed it.  Would Gonzalez allow that?  I don't know.  He's a VERY religious guy.  VERY.  And he's always signed it, millions of times, with the Ps 27:1.

Weird.  If anyone has an explanation for this, please pass it along.  Thanks.  Look 'em up.  It won't take long to find the two photos I mean.  Put in keywords Adrian Gonzalez/autographed photos and you'll see.