Tuesday, March 30, 2010

George's Final Spring Training

My first trip of more than a day in almost 6 years ...

Seattle Mariners 6
Cincinnatti Reds 5
Peoria Sports Complex

Okay, first of all it was really, really, really cold and wet the evening before at the SSFC opener at Qwest and the next day I am sitting in the sun lathering up in sunscreen and in shorts. I understand snowbirds on a completely different level now. We did not get tickets to this game in advance, instead going to the box office since our plane may have been late. It was a good choice as there were still seats and we pulled into the parking lot at 12:45, so there was not a lot of room for error.

Then, we saw one of the coolest moments I have ever witnessed in sports, let alone baseball. Junior comes to the plate with the bases juices, one out, and down three runs in the bottom of the 9th. People have left. The guy next to me laughs when I suggest it might happen. Ball one. Ball two. Ball three. A swing and miss at what could have been ball four. Let's face it, he's a double play if he is on first. Swing and a miss at what would have been ball four again. Full count. Then, the noise you hear when bat hits ball in a special way. Really? Ball flies to right center. Sign reads 410. Ball flies over fence. Holy $#!+ ... walk off Grand Slam!

Seattle Mariners 1
Los Angeles Dodgers 3
Camelback Ranch

Got to meet Tom Lasorda, and man he was not happy with our line. Got a kick out of his grouchiness though. Also, the same ball was signed by Sweet Lou Johnson and current Dodger 1B James Loney. Very cool.

The M's potential offensive woes were evident, in that the only run they got was a rocket from Matt Tuiasosopo to lead off the top of the 9th. Fun game and all, and the M's had some base runners in later innings, but stranding those guys happened all weekend. They really do need another bat.

Oh, and this game set a single game Cactus League attendance mark that would not last 24 hours ...

Seattle Mariners 0
Chicago Cubs 1
Peoria Sports Complex

The previous day saw an attendance record and so did Sunday as the Cubs and M's broke it 24 hours later. Back to back days with record attendance at really cool little ball parks is awesome.

Ryan Rowland-Smith pitched a gem, only giving up a single run on a sacrifice fly. However, with the M's getting the bases loaded and no outs and then striking out three straight times that sinking feeling about their offense from earlier in the weekend felt like a real problem.

Also, we managed to get to a fun little country bar on the second night, after an epic fail of trying to find it on the first night. We had planned to go to a hockey game, but it turned out to be a mixed blessing as my bro got really sick from the heat and that would have happened in the arena.

Phoenix is an easy town to get around in, and we had a great time.

I ran into Union players and coaches at the airport Friday AM ... I was wearing a SSFC jersey and they would not even look at me. I did tell Seba he was welcome here any time and he very politely nodded and said, "Thanks." Nowak shook my hand and we chatted for a few moments, I told him that his team would get there at some point and he was gracious about it but I got the impression he knew I was just being nice because they were awful.

Plus we ran into other friends at the airport on their way to Hawaii ... nice!

The pic of the Cardinals' stadium has smoke above it because the fireworks at the start of Wrestlemania had just gone off and the event was starting as we were heading to the airport after the Cubs game.

And now there is only ONE major league team for me to see play in person ... the Houston Astros.

Monday, March 29, 2010

So THAT is what "All Inclusive" means ...

Seattle Sounders FC 2
Phildelphia Union 0
March 25, 2010

First of all, since reason actually prevailed a few days ago and a new CBA was reached without a strike ... game on!

Getting tickets to this game was more complicated than it really should have been, which is probably a good thing for the SSFC itself. With the elimination of the partial season ticket package I was hosed by the organization and need to go the single game route. For the record, I could have bought a season ticket and sold the tickets or something per the ticket rep suggestion, but if I had the money to front for that in the first place I would just buy season tickets. When single game tickets went on sale the ones in my budget range went "poof" and so a couple days before this tickets were managed to be procured through the SSFC ticket exchange. Nice when things don't directly impact your budget, since I got these without using money for bills.

The tickets turned out to be something called "All Inclusive", which I heard about last year and wanted to try. Fate put me in the position to try these.

And so the SSFC sent a message to Philly that they are the expansion team now. The Union mistook playing dirty for playing physical; they are not the same thing.

The Sounders got an early goal - a key for them I believe - and both first half goals were nice combo plays. Clearly, the core group concept for this season has good potential as this is now a team with a lot of games together and it showed in some of the passing and knowledge of where other players were going to be.

In re the "All Inclusive" ... I woke up with a Kobayashi hangover. That is all I have to say.

With this match there are only three MLS teams I have yet to see in person and I hope to complete the current 16 teams this season. I know I will never see the two contracted Florida teams, but so be it. It will be cool to complete the MLS by seeing Toronto, Columbus, and Chicago before I complete MLB here real soon as I have almost completed that as well.

The burning questions for me this year for the SSFC were pretty simple. First, would the Freddies (they each spell it differently so I am just using this version) be able to play well together or would they continue to be more effective when the other was off the pitch due to suspension, injury, or Sigi pulling on of them? Two, will keeping to the core team without major signings bring continuity or allow teams to exploit their known weaknesses? Trey, will we have to continue to see that huge Pete Carroll multi-story monstrosity every time we go to Qwest Field this season? Four, will our 40 year old keeper hold up? Yes, Keller has been durable, but at this stage in his career it is a valid question given how many close games the club tends to play with their finishing issues.

I ran into Union players and coaches at the airport Friday AM ... I was wearing a SSFC jersey and they would not even look at me. I did tell Seba he was welcome here any time and he very politely nodded and said, "Thanks." Nowak shook my hand and we chatted for a few moments, I told him that his team would get there at some point and he was gracious about it but I got the impression he knew I was just being nice because they were awful.

My advice to the Sons of Ben is to drink a lot of beer before, during, and after games because you will then have beer goggles and your team will maybe look better.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Will we ever see this again?

I hope so.

Cigarette Butts at Gas Pumps

This is not what you want to find next to your gas pump ...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Geeks In Our Natural Habitat

Emerald City Comicon
March 14, 2010

I was the third person there today. The girl in a pink wig at the ticket counter wanted me to walk the maze so she could point and laugh, but I simply went under the yellow "caution" tape instead because I am clearly such a rebel.

I got a picture of Leonard Nimoy's Left temple and ear. I got yelled at by Comicon Pawns for this. So, I kept trying anyways and got a picture of Leonard Nimoy's right temple and nose. I kept getting thwarted by people moving in the way.

I ended up with a box of autographed comics I worked over six hours of lines without a break to get signed ... and Flubber on VHS signed by Wil Wheaton ... all fueled by Powerade and a Milky Way bar ...

The pics in this post are mostly of comics artists and writers ... plus me with my bro, me with Wil Wheaton, some celebrity guests, Chad Vader's more successful older brother, and The Atomic Bombshells ...

I caught Ed Brubaker right before he took a break to watch Joe Q on stage, "Because I want to keep writing Captain America," he said. Then I caught Bendis later and he gave me a free comic because I was "sweet" for liking his Alias series. The Allred's are really nice. Brian Azzarello and I discussed the ending of 100 Bullets, confirming that I actually got the ending. Darick Robertson discussed inking styles and Spider Jerusalem. Guys I have been long time fans of like Kurt Busiek, Michael Golden, and Len Wein were very gracious about discussing their old books. Mark Waid signed the biggest stack of stuff I had for any one person without blinking. Tim Sale and I discussed Spring Training. Paige was nice enough to let me stash my box at her Corner Comics booth for part of the day. Wil Wheaton was very cool and gave me tips on publishing my writing. Catching lines at the right time is tough and I missed out on Geoff Johns by mere moments, but they had a really pretty girl holding the "I am the last person in line" sign and that felt like a dirty trick. Other artists and writers were also very cool. It is best to get stuff signed on Sunday and to be organized.

Having spent nothing on autographs or photos I still managed to get 142 items signed, although I got a total of 150 signatures since several items were signed by more than one creator - including a Vertigo Winter Special from 1999 signed by 5 of the creators. This also breaks down to one VHS cover, one flier, 3 ashcans, and the rest single issues or trades.