Archive: May, 2023
My standard view when I go to Mariner games. Slightly higher than optimal, but otherwise great for keeping track of everything on the field
I've gone to three baseball games at the Seattle Mariners' home ballpark this month. The park has a corporately-sponsored name, but since the corporation in question isn't paying me anything I won't contribute to the annoying modern-day normalization of branding everything in sight by using the name here. I prefer to think of the place as "Niehaus Park," after the late Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus, or as "Griffínezuki Field," after the Mariners' three Hall of Famers (two for now, three as soon as Ichiro Suzuki is eligible in two years).
Anyway, branding aside, the experiences were quite different in that (a) the company varied; (b) the games themselves were rather different from each other; and (c) the vantage point changed.
The first I attended mostly by myself, as seatmate DB had had a bit of a day and showed up a little over an hour late, but I was quite engaged by the masterful pitching performance put on by Seattle starter Logan Gilbert, who had a perfect game going into the 7th inning; sadly, his teammates weren't supporting him and he ended up losing 2-1 to Texas. It was a ridiculously fast game, barely over two hours, giving me a little extra confirmation bias regarding the overreach of the new pitch clock in combination with the new normal of 6:40pm start times. When an alleged night game is over before sunset, maybe things need to be rethought a bit.
Second game was courtesy of KA, who bought tickets for herself, her wife, and me through a promotion that got us some extra swag in the form of "Ty France 'Tye'-dye" T-shirts. We were thus seated in the promotional T-shirt section down low in right field, section 116. Being closer to the field like that is neat and, for me, somewhat novel, but on the whole I found it a lousy vantage for keeping track of the game. I'm so used to the view from section 327—from which the entire playing field is visible and I know how to judge the trajectory of balls off the bat, not to mention having a decent sense of whether the home-plate umpire is missing the mark on balls and strikes—that I had trouble following anything hit to left field and no clue whether a pitch was inside or out or down the middle. It's fun to move around some, though, and I appreciate the variety of perspectives on a game. The game was comfortable, a relatively easy 6-1 victory over the hapless Oakland (for now) Athletics, and being treated to greasy fish-n-chips by one's best pal in her company watching a couple of outstanding defensive plays by fill-in first-baseman Sam Haggerty while basking in a beautiful Seattle evening was delightful.
Karen mugging for the camera, us in our Tye-dyes. And evidence that my chipped front tooth is more noticeable than it used to be. I should make a dentist appointment.
The third game was tonight, in the club level way out in deep right (section 213), with WB. WB has been dealing with some life-things that she is remarkably projecting a glass-half-full attitude about; it's an impressive trait of hers that I can only aspire to as I tend to feel injustices a bit more in the taking-offense part of my brain. Anyway, she and I were able to catch up a great deal while watching—or attempting to watch in the first few innings, as our seats were right in line with the setting sun and glare was a real issue—the Mariners' usually outstanding pitching staff fall to pieces against the surprisingly-over-.500 Pittsburgh Pirates, who hit seven home runs in the game. Seven. And not cheap ones, either, these were bombs, including one off the restaurant windows in the second deck. The first of these longballs came on the second pitch of the game. You're just not likely to win when the opponents hit seven homers, and despite some effort to keep things semi-close, the Seattle lineup just couldn't string together enough hits and Pittsburgh took it 11-6.
From what we could see it was pretty.
Sitting in the club level used to have a particular perk to it, in that there are more and allegedly better food options there. The one I was looking forward to tonight was the pasta bar, which prior to this season had been little booth where cooked rigatoni was ready to be covered with the sauce of your choice, heated and mixed in a wok with the protein and veggies of your choice (among just a few options, but still) while you wait. Overpriced, of course, but a way better value than other ballpark concession options and much healthier, and I waited in line for my opportunity to order one such meal. But things have changed, and now they pre-mix all the pasta into a mere two choices that you cannot customize at all: elbow macaroni with meatballs in marinara meat sauce or macaroni-with-chicken alfredo. It felt like a not-at-all subtle middle-finger salute to me and any other vegetarian/pescatarians that (even just occasionally) pay the premium for club-level seating at games. Even the caeser salad offering was prepackaged with chicken, ruining an otherwise tasty snack. The fallback greasy-fish-and-chips were not a ready option either, even if I'd been inclined to have another jump into seafood town so soon after the last one, as there is no Ivar's concession on the club level and I wasn't about to spend two and a half innings hiking up and down stairs to and from other decks to buy something more expensive and less satisfying than what I was set on getting in the first place. I was annoyed, but my perspective check came in the form of a reminder from my seatmate that the ballpark concessionaires didn't deserve my money and I'd be going home $20 richer because of it.
It was also Karaoke Fireworks Night, which was fun; about half the songs were of too recent a vintage for me to have much awareness of them, but I sang along (poorly) with a few and enjoyed the fireworks, though again our seats were less than ideal for that as some of the display was blocked by the retracted roofing structure and the big scoreboard.
In discussing the difference in vantage points with WB, she related some of her recent drama stuff which involved an only-in-America dilemma about health insurance that, once resolved, put the rest of her drama of the moment into a far less stressful perspective. Nothing like a massive scary thing that is 100% the fault of a group of terrorists known as the Republican party to illustrate how, no matter the stress level of your drama, things could be way worse.
Tomorrow is another day. Go M's.
Sunset from 213. Ummm...ball? Strike? Did the pitch get hit?No Comments yet
I had free time today, so I finally got around to fixing some longstanding issues with the site as it appears on mobile devices. Long time coming, I know. Anyway, those of you viewing this on your phone or tablet should have a better layout now, though you may have to clear your browser cache if you've been by here before and it still looks wonky.
Firefox on Android is still giving me a little bit of flak, but it's minor flak, e.g. the rounded edges of the content window are still screwy there. Chrome on Android is still not spacing the text properly, but again, minor flak. For you iOS people I'm using simulators to estimate iOS responses since I don't own any Apple stuff, but it seems like it's all good there. Let me know if not.No Comments yet
Bits and pieces
Returned after paying impound ransom. Glass half full.
Howdy. It's been over a week since the last post, but not for lack of material. I'd actually intended to write about a few things since the Great Car Caper, including its own follow-up, but you know how it is. Work, inertia, splitting headaches, a general feeling of "I just don't want to be at my desk anymore tonight." Anyway, in lieu of the various individual posts I'd been pre-writing in my head since then, here's a catchall one with a few bits and pieces from what I'm sure would have been much more elaborate and articulate ramblings had they gotten their due in a timely manner.
- Car update: The police recovered my car relatively soon after its theft and the only damage to it was superficial (exterior) and annoying (interior), which is to day a chunk missing from the plastic "rain guard" (I suppose it guards from rain getting into the door seal?), a small dent, and what appears to have been an aborted attempt to remove my Biden-Harris bumper sticker; and a truly impressive amount of garbage strewn through the inside. Mostly the trash was food wrappers, candy remnants, fast food bags, fast food detritus, that sort of thing, plus a few empty cans of spray paint. I presume the thieves were graffiti taggers.
My working theory is that the thieves used the car to go from place to vandalize with spray paint to next place to vandalize with spray paint, with stops at various fast food and convenience store candy marts, until it ran out of gas, at which point they abandoned it to likely steal someone else's car rather than buy fuel. Score one for my inefficient internal combustion engine.I emptied all the trash, plus a little of my own trash that was still there, and aired the car out for a day or so to get the smell of fast food out of it. That done, and since I don't care to try and fix the superficial exterior damage, the only real harm done to me aside from the inconvenience of being without it for a few days was the ransom demanded by Lincoln Towing, the company that provided the impound lot the police use. They charged me the towing fee, a city regulatory fee, and hourly storage fees for the time they had the car. Quite the racket they've got going. Other cities have laws that protect auto theft victims from this kind of predation, but not this one. Apparently there was an attempt to pass a measure to address this in the state legislature some time back, but it didn't go anywhere. Alas. Still, way cheaper than replacing the car, so I'm choosing to look at it in a glass-half-full sort of way. And I ordered a wheel-lock thingy for future use when parking on the street.
- Erik went to Korea. And Taiwan. Who knew? This strikes me as a little weird, not because Erik went to these places, but because not long ago I had a strange dream in which my dad and Marty were planning on moving to Pusan. It made zero sense.
- The CNN thing with the "Town Hall" debacle featuring former President VonClownstick was something I was all worked up to write a whole screed about, but now that some time has passed I'm less outraged. Not because the event wasn't deserving of outrage, it was. The fact that CNN thought hosting such a forum would result in anything other than a fiasco is mind-boggling. On the other hand, CNN is under new management that wants it to be a place for disaffected Fox "News" viewers to go, so maybe this is just the first taste of their new business plan. Regardless, the thing did serve a positive purpose among all its rampant disservices, and that is that it provided a ton of material for campaign ads against VonClownstick. The program reminded those of us that were no longer paying attention to politics and the news as deeply as others of us do just who this guy is, that he has not changed, that he will not change, that he is among the vilest human beings to have ever lived. And of who his fans are. That he has followers that just eat his vileness for breakfast and regurgitate it onto society.
Most of the news coverage after the fact has been criticism of CNN. Slate.com has a good analysis of it that includes:CNN CEO Chris Licht said, in response to the criticism of his network's production, "You do not have to like the former president’s answers, but you can’t say that we didn’t get them." Except, yes, Chris, I can say you didn't get them. You got propaganda. You got deflections. You got bald-faced lies. When he was all but cornered on the stolen documents thing, you got "You're a nasty person" as his "answer."
Absolutely every single moment of this debacle was predictable, and it is enraging to see CNN making the exact same mistakes it made when Trump first entered into the public sphere eight years ago. The network gave a seditious would-be despot carte blanche to openly lie on live television for an hour, in front of an adoring crowd, with ineffective pushback from a reporter who, if Wednesday night is any indication, is nowhere near ready for prime time. The pregame chatter among CNN’s vacuous panelists, meanwhile, used the same empty framing that has long made the term “talking heads” a pejorative.All the CNN-bashing is deserved, to be sure, but it misses the bigger issue of what the former president said during the televised hour of journalistic seppuku. He perpetuated his election lies. He once again defamed the woman he has been ordered by a court to pay $5 million to as damages for his sexual assault and defamation of her. He called the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade "a great victory." Instead of answering a question about why he stole government documents after leaving office, he insulted the questioner. Of the January 6, 2021 insurrectionist footsoldiers, he said "They were there with love in their heart. That was unbelievable and it was a beautiful day." He avoided taking any kind of position on the war in Ukraine, lest it upset his good friend Vladimir. That is all very, very important information that should show everyone in the world how this man should not be allowed anywhere near any position of any authority ever again, but because of how it was presented (and subsequently covered by many) I fear that point will not get across to anyone who needs to hear it.The American news media as a whole is terrible, TV news in particular, but outlets one might consider to be better, like National Public Radio, are guilty of the same kind of malfeasance, treating the sort of behavior DJT and his minions exhibit as basically normal politics when it is anything but.
- Related to the CNN thing, there is The Gun Thing. I had some further ranting to do on that, on how the gun "debate" is evidentiary just on its own of the fact that the modern Republican party deserves to be labeled a domestic terrorist organization, but instead today I think I'll just let Wil speak for me.
- I had another umpiring shift yesterday, four games in the sun on the first summery weekend we've seen this year up in these parts. By and large it was a good day, few points of conflict. But there were some, and they put me in mind of something my friend (and softball teammate) Mack posted over on the Book of Faces. I will reproduce it here:
I'm sure my Laws of Sports Conduct apply to every recreational sport, but I don't play "every" recreational sport, I just play softball, and here goes:Obviously, Mack's first point is the one that resonates most with me because I'm often on the umpire's side of things. I'm paid a bit more than $20 a game, but not nearly enough to accept the sort of treatment that an occasional player will vent my way. To date I have ejected exactly two players from softball games in over four years, and one of those was for physical violence, but I have been tempted to toss many. Three or four I probably should have tossed but didn't. Yesterday my shift began in an unusual fashion in that, before the games started, I was approached by a guy who had been giving me shit last week. "Hey man," he said, "I just want to apologize for last week. I just started acting out of my head for no reason at all, I don't know what the fuck that was even about. Sorry." This was good, set the stage for a good day that was only marred by one further violation (from someone else on a different team) of Mack's Rule #1 and one inadvertent violation of Rule #2 that led to some potentially damaging violations of Rule #4 that I was able to defuse relatively quickly. The Rule #1 violator is a chronic offender, though, which makes me cringe a little when I see his team on my schedule.
1. Never so much as grumble to an umpire.
Teams, you're paying the ump like $20 to have them give an unbiased opinion on balls and strikes, safe and out, so STFU and take their word for it. Without an umpire, you'd have no walks and no strikeouts, and some batters would be there for like twenty pitches before they put the ball in play. Also, don't expect the umpire to be better at umpiring than you are at playing. ???? If you suspect that an umpire is mis-applying the rules, you'd better have your rulebook handy, or else don't go out there. Simply, don't. You have a fixed amount of time to play your game. Every minute you spend interacting with an official can cost your teammates an at-bat or even an entire inning of play. It's not worth it.
2. Try to not hurt anybody.
Your job on the field is to make sure nobody gets hurt. So when you're thinking about doing something "sportsmanlike" that can get somebody hurt, don't do it. Don't. Just don't do it. Never ever ever "take someone out" at second base. Don't do it. Your "job" isn't to prevent the double play, it's to keep the opposing player healthy enough to go out to the bar after the game. Don't throw your bat, don't make throws that your teammate can't handle, don't do the "fake tag" thing that makes somebody slide when there isn't even a play on them, and on fly balls—yell loud and clearly that either you're taking it or the other person's taking it. No crashes over a silly pop fly, OK?
3. Respect the equipment.
If you're the kind of player who slams a bat down after striking out, or throws a glove after making an error . . . you need to chill the fuck out. You look like a poster child for a domestic violence abuser, and if your teammate is caring enough, they will and should refer you to some counseling. I often joke that a good craftsperson always blames their tools, because it's obvious that it's not the tool, it's the craftsperson. It's really okay if you're a player who drops a ball or swings and misses. The greatest baseball players in history do that. The reason they "act out" is because of some stupid code that "shows they care." You don't have to show you care—because you shouldn't care. The game doesn't matter. We do this for recreation, not recognition, and certainly not for the adulation. Chill the fuck out.
4. Be supportive of the other team's players.
You're not being disloyal by showing appreciation when the other team makes a nice play or gets a nice hit. It's been proven that we feel better after a high-five than we do after grumbling about a missed opportunity. You don't have to applaud wildly when they turn a double play against you, but you might feel better telling the shortstop, "Nice play" rather than think, "you fucken bastid!"
I've had my share of inappropriate interactions on the playing field. I remember each and every one of them, which is a shame, because I've had so much fun on the field, all of those games and all of those innings and all of those at-bats . . . but it seems that those memories of the pleasant and fun times don't linger. Those memories may not linger, the fun of turning a double play or driving in a run or taking an extra base or making a nice relay throw . . . but the effects of those activities DO linger. They help build friendships, they help build community, they help make the world a better place, one play at a time.
Fun. Recreational sports should be fun. I'm going out there this season to have fun. I invite you, if you're partaking in a recreational sport, to go out and just have fun! And try hard to not hurt anybody!
- I can't believe it's taken me this long to read another Neal Stephenson book. Years and years ago I read Snow Crash, which was terrific, and Zodiac, also quite good, but it's only in the last couple of weeks that I cracked open another Stephenson tome. This one is Cryptonomicon, which is, if I'm recalling Snow Crash properly, not as awesome as that but still pretty darn fine. Plenty more when I finish this one, I guess.
- I am going to unload my tickets to the Mariners/Yankees game on May 31st. That's a softball (playing, not umping) night for me and I'm already missing the prior week's game for similar reasons. Anyone reading this that wants the pair of (quite good) upper deck seats may have them for cost or in trade, otherwise I'm putting them on StubHub for profit. Let me know.
That's not what the song means
So, Thursday night I had an umpiring shift over at Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill. Not unusual, I generally do a couple of those a week out there. On this evening I found myself running late because of a traffic snarl on the freeway—someone had lost a barbecue grill out of the back of a pickup truck, so everyone was wisely slowing down and changing lanes so as not to collide with this tipped-over piece of outdoor cooking tech in the center lane, causing a backup of many miles—and I was hurrying to get to the field on time. Usually on a Thursday I have to park several blocks away. The league doesn't reimburse me for parking as a rule, so I troll for free spots in a very densely populated part of town. On this day, though, I lucked out—someone had just vacated a spot less than one block from the park. The opposite end of the park I needed to be at, but still. Seemed like a break and I got there in plenty of time to set up the field and start the night's games on schedule.
The games were good, mostly with teams I'd not encountered before, though I knew one of the groups from the first game of the evening. Good guys and gals, although some of them kept on nagging me about the conditions; the lights at the park are broken, only about 1/3 of them come on and it's pretty dark when you need to track a fly ball, but what good nagging me about it does is a mystery. For the most part the newbies were good folks too, I was even complimented by one of the guys who was impressed with my "fun differential" (which is a literal inside-baseball joke referring to last year's Seattle Mariners) while another offered to help me collect the outfield cones and another one was effusive about my getting out to call plays on the bases and making sure everyone knew what was what (I figure his prior rec softball experience might be in the city league I sometimes play in, which has some of the gawd-awfulest umpiring I've been around with guys that just stand rooted in place and quietly go "hup" when calling a strike that might well be over a batter's head).
Anyway, when the games were completed at 11:00 and I had packed up the gear, I had some pep in my step and walked the length of the park back toward my car, already plotting out the rest of my night. I have to stop by the league office on the way home to get a gear bag for Sunday's shift, then I'm going to pick up a couple of quick groceries from the one 24-hour Safeway I can think of, then go home, feed the cats, put up my feet, and watch the Mariner game recorded from this afternoon while I eat leftovers from Karen's cooking the prior night. I was humming to the earworm in my head of a Billy Joel song from his 52nd Street album, even though I hadn't been listening to that earlier, and was feeling pretty good.
Then I arrived at my allegedly lucky parking spot to find some other car parked there.
Had I parked illegally? Did someone tow my car? No signs for towing companies anywhere. The posted parking restrictions all expired at 6:00pm and I didn't arrive until a bit before 7:00. But it is Cap Hill, people are zealous about parking. I was kind of freaking out, but also kind of methodical.
I called a friend who has more experience than I do with navigating the parking of Cap Hill, but he had no answers. I called the towing company used by the city police when they tow illegally parked cars. Do you have my car? Nope, sorry. So, the police it is. Called 911—which I was surprised you are supposed to do in a case like this, but you are—and reported my missing vehicle and they dispatched a police unit to talk to me. Took a while for them to get there, a missing car can't be high on the priority list, but they showed around midnight.
Officer Chu was fantastic. Good-humored guy, looked over the site and confirmed, yes, a legal spot, no reason you'd have been towed, 99% likely stolen as it's an older car with no anti-theft stuff. Plus the electronic locks don't work reliably anymore, I have to remember to manually lock the doors, and honestly can't remember if I checked them all since I was hurrying to the field. Chu let me know that the recovery rate for stolen cars is actually pretty high in these parts (around 70%), unlike in other cities and other parts of the country where it can be puny, so I may well get it back before too long. He and his partner, whose name I did not get, gave me a positive experience with the Seattle police, which was reassuring but also made me wonder if certain of my friends would have gotten the same treatment given their ethnic backgrounds. I'm choosing to believe Officer Chu would be just as cool with them because, hey, he seemed like a good dude. His mustachioed partner, who knows, he didn't say much.
After finishing with the cops I made my way to the Cap Hill train station and barely caught the last train of the night that would take me as far as the Northgate station, after which I begged a favor of my only friend in the north end with wheels that I knew wasn't a freakish morning person (looking at you, Failor) and that didn't have to punch a clock in the morning.
Ultimately I got home. Way later than planned. But I still watched the M's game (good one, too). And scrolled through autotrader.com to see what I'm looking at as a monetary hit if I need to buy a new-to-me used car; looks like maybe $5-8k. Really bad timing on that, given my giant HOA assessment hit this month.
Ironically, there was a particular CD in the car stereo. On my drive down I had been listening to The Beatles' Rubber Soul. Beatle fen will know what the first track on that album is. And, yes, I might be a star when it comes to the cast of rec league softball umps, but no, car thief, I will not, in fact, love you. Bastard.
UPDATE: Shortly after I posted this, the police phoned me to say they had recovered my car near Harborview Medical Center, not that far from where it was stolen. Apparently it had not had its plates removed and was "in driveable condition," though no word on whether or not it is damaged. It's being towed to an impound lot now and I can call the towing company tomorrow to arrange to reclaim it. Hopefully there's not a big fee attached to that.4 Comments