Saturday, April 25, 2020

They Beat the Lottery

They Beat the Lottery

"The first time Jerry played, at a convenience store in Mesick, he lost money. $2,200 PLAYED
($1 per ticket)
$2,150 WINNINGS -$50
But he realized his problem was that he hadn’t wagered enough. Three months later, after buying more tickets, he confirmed his suspicion that big paydays were ahead. $8,000 PLAYED $15,700 WINNINGS +$7,700"

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Winning Horseplayer

Damon Runyon wrote a poem called all Horse Players Die Broke.  I would quote a few lines but the book is still packed away from our recent move.  Instead read this interesting article about the horse player that didn't die broke.

"enter wanted something more rigorous, so he went to the library at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, which kept a special collection on gaming. Buried in stacks of periodicals and manuscripts, he found what he was looking for—an academic paper titled “Searching for Positive Returns at the Track: A Multinomial Logit Model for Handicapping Horse Races.” Benter sat down to read it, and when he was done he read it again."

Thursday, July 13, 2017



I was surfing around Baseball Reference recently and realized that you can bring up Box Scores for specific games.  With that knowledge I attempted to find every baseball game I have ever attended in person.  There is only one game I could not account for, a 1975 Yankees/ White Sox game in Chicago that Dad took me to when I was 6 years old.  What I remember about that game is that it happened at night, dad bought me a box of popcorn that was shaped like a Megaphone, and he later told me later that Rick Dempsey played for the Yankees in the game.  Also along for the trip was Dad's brother Larry, a guy named Yankee Jim, because he was a rare Yankee fan in Indiana, and a 4th guy that I cannot remember.  The game was most likely played on Friday June 6, 1975, but   Dempsey didn't do anything spectacular in the game so it's perplexing. Why would he remember that one specific player?  If that was the game why not remember Bobby Bonds 2-run homer?  The Yankees returned to Chicago the next month for a 3 game series midweek and Dempsey played all three games, but Dad wasn't likely to take time away from his business on a weekday to see baseball.  I am convinced that I will never know the answer.

Below though are all the other games with my commentary:

Sunday, August 30, 1981, 1:15PM
Comiskey Park I
Attendance: 33,213, Time of Game: 2:49

This was the second MLB game I ever attended and the first one I remember as a game. Standing outside the stadium before the game I saw coach Yogi Berra being dropped off by a taxicab.  Later I saw the starting pitcher Rudy May and Willie Randolph arrive by shared cab.  I have a fuzzy picture of this taken on my little instamatic camera.  We sat near the Yankee Bullpen down the rightfield line.  The most overwhelming part of it was seeing the green grass as we walked up the stairs to our seats.  It looked better than any golf course and it made the day seem so important.  During the 1980s Old Commiskey had the bullpens in foul territory.  I saw Guidry warm up before the game and stood in line for an autograph but I wasn't as aggressive as the other kids and came away empty.  My brother got an autograph from bullpen catcher Dom Scala.  He had been a minor league catcher going no where in the Yankees organization that they had hired a few years earlier to catch in the bullpen.  If I remember Graig Nettles book correctly, Scala was hired because long since gone Cliff Johnson had refused bullpen duty when he was with the Yankees.  

This was Reggie Jackson's last year with the Yankees and he was having a lot of fun with the Chicago fans in RF.  One inning as he walked to his position, fans draped the wall with a bed sheet sign that said, "Reggie, sign with the Sox."  Reggie immediately acknowledged the fans by doing a very theatrical gesture where he spreads out his arms and shrugs his shoulders which got fan reaction.    
HOF Carlton Fisk caught the game.  Dennis Lamp pitched for the White Sox.  Dad always said that he was pure hamburger and hitters should have no trouble eating him.  I don't remember if it originated with this game.    

Reggie, Dave Winfield and Graig Nettles drove in runs and Rudy May went the distance.  Randolph didn't play.  The drive to Chicago took longer than the game.  The day before Jackson, Winfield, Nettles, and Murcer hit home runs with Tommy John on the mound.  We picked the wrong game, I think.  

Sunday, August 15, 1982,
Comiskey Park I
Attendance: 31,160, Time of Game: 3:02

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Yankees         0  0  1   0  1  0   1  1  0    4 12  1
White Sox       0  1  0   0  0  0   1  4  X    6  8  2

If you were around Dad and Uncle Larry and they heard or read about a tough loss they would say, "The Yankees lost a heart breaker yesterday."  This game would have fit that description perfectly.  It's Sunday afternoon and again down the rightfield line, but this time further up from the playing field.  Ron Guidry is pitching for the Yankees and winning 3-1 into the 7th inning.  He allows a runner with two outs and yields to Goose Gossage and the Goose absolutely blows up.  He threw so hard and with such intensity and it looked like no way we would lose until he was rocked with the loss.  Neither of these first two games I saw at Comiskey had any home runs.   This was the only time I saw Lou Piniella play in person and he collected 2 hits and an RBI.  Greg Nettles sat against the Lefthander Britt Burns.     

Another thing I remember is a bed sheet sign that was draped over the outfield fence when Greg Luzinski came up with a runner on, "Hit it here, Bull" with a big bullseye drawn on it.  I mentioned this to Luzinski in 1989 or 1990 when Kevin and I interviewed him for Nautilus News and he remember the exact at bat.  Just kidding.  He went 2 for 4 that day. 

Sunday, April 28, 1985,
Comiskey Park I
Attendance: 27,367, Time of Game: 2:40

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Yankees         1  0  0   0  0  0   2  0  0    3  8  0
White Sox       0  1  0   0  0  0   2  0  1    4  6  0

This was a chilly April afternoon and we sat in the Right Field stands where we got a good look at Dave Winfield all day.  This was Ozzie Guillen's rookie year and the year that Carlton Fisk was suddenly among the leaders in Home Runs.  The Yankees scored a run in the first and Fisk would hit a solo HR to leftfield in the 2nd inning and the score remained 1-1 until the 7th when the Yankees and the Sox each scored 2 runs to make it 3-3.  The Sox runs came courtesy of a 2-run homer by Oscar Gamble that landed not far from us.  Gamble had played for the Yankees in the two previous games in this post.  

Joe Cowley went the distance walking in Ozzie Guillen for the winning run in the bottom of the 9th.  Guillen walked just 12 times all year and this may have been the first time for all I know. In his whole career he walked only 239 times out 7133 plate appearances.  

This was the first time I saw Don Mattingly play in person.  It was a slow start to his MVP season that year.  He went 1-4 with a single to right field.  It was the only time I saw Rickey Henderson and Ken Griffey Sr. play in person.  Rich Dotson started for the Sox, but Britt Burns won in relief.  

It turned out that this was a very significant game.  The loss made the Yankees 6-10. By the time we returned to the parking lot, it was being reported on the radio that Yogi Berra had been fired by the Yankees and Billy Martin was the new manager.  So in essence we saw Yogi's last game as manager and the last time he talked to Steinbrenner until 1999.  I would never actually attend a game managed by Billy Martin except for the game in 1975 that I have no memory of. 

An insignificant curiosity is that we ran into my dad's brother and our cousins at a rest area on the way home.  They went to the game too, but our dads didn't even tell one another.  Further, this would be the last game I went to for 6 years because my parents moved to the Panhandle of Florida in 1986.  Baseball would from that point be 5 hours away.  

Sunday, May 19, 1991
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium
Attendance: 27,164, Time of Game: 3:00

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Pirates         0  0  0   0  0  1   0  0  0    1  7  2
Braves          2  2  0   1  0  0   2  0  X    7 12  2

We bought these tickets in early April when it was expected that the Braves would be weak and we found ourselves sitting 13 rows behind home plate in a crowded stadium.  We drove Steve Saunders parent's converted van from Bonifay to Atlanta on back roads.  I did most of the driving.  Also attending were Kevin Seeger, Steve Whitaker, and Bert Gordon.  We drove up on Saturday deciding to buy tickets for that night's game and could do no better than $4 seats in the upper deck.  All we got was rain that night as we sat there for hours before it was cancelled.  It seems like we played poker that night in the hotel room.  

The next afternoon, Tom Glavine beat Zane Smith pretty easily in what was to become his first Cy Young Award winning season.  Barry Bonds sat against the tough lefthander only to pinch hit later and, you guessed it, walk against Juan Berenguer.  I still have the VHS tape of us on TBS standing for the final out.  You can see Steve Whitaker clapping.  What's funny is that two cameras from opposite sides are both shooting us and one shot pulls out and dissolves into the other one.  Originally we would have seen Glavine on Saturday and Smoltz on Sunday.  It turned out that we were seeing both NL playoff teams in this contest.  Not only was it my first time at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, it the first time I tried boiled peanuts, a southern delight.  I doubt I would have done so had it not been for Steve Saunders.

I remember most everyone falling asleep on the way back.  

Tuesday, August 11, 1992
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium
Attendance: 43,927, Time of Game: 2:32

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Padres          2  0  4   0  1  0   1  0  0    8 12  1
Braves          1  0  1   0  0  0   0  0  2    4  8  0

Look at the lineup fielded by the Padres, Gary Sheffield, Benito Santiago, Fred McGriff, Tony Fernandez and the great Tony Gwynn.  Gwynn collected three hits, all singles spread to each of the three outfield spots.  We sat higher up where I really appreciated the smooth infield play.  Deion Sanders pinch hit.  McGriff and Sheffield hit a home run and Bruce Hurst beat John Smoltz.  And the other Maddux saved the game for San Diego in one of those old fashioned 9 out relief appearances.  

Thursday, July 15, 1993, 7:41
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium
Attendance: 49,046, Time of Game: 2:30

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Pirates         0  0  0   0  0  0   0  0  0    0  6  1
Braves          1  0  0   0  0  1   0  2  X    4  6  0

I have little memory of this game other than sitting in the outfield upper deck in a packed house.  Although Bonds had left Pittsburgh, the rivalry between these two teams in the playoffs resulted in 49,000 fans packing us in.  This is the farthest I can ever remember sitting away from home plate.  The bleachers in Yankee Stadium seemed closer.  

Wednesday, September 1, 1993, 1:23
Wrigley Field
Attendance: 23,519, Time of Game: 2:25

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Phillies        0  0  0   0  0  0   2  0  2    4  8  1
Cubs            0  0  0   1  0  0   0  0  0    1  6  1

I decided to fly up to Chicago to see Steve Saunders during his graduate school days.  We didn't do much that week except for play video games like Shadow President and Pirates and then see baseball games.  This game marked the first time I set foot in Wrigley Field.  We arrived from the north by L-Train and it was like going back to the 1930s.  Everything seemed period around the stadium.  Jim Lefebvre was managing the Cubs and I had just read that he had a cameo as a headhunter in a Gilligan's Island episode during his days playing for the Dodgers.  Terry Mullholland threw a complete game win.  This was the year that they would lose to Toronto in the World Series due to ex-Cub Joe Carter's walkoff home run.  

Sunday, September 5, 1993, 1:20
Wrigley Field
Attendance: 38,691, Time of Game: 2:14

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Mets            0  0  0   0  0  0   0  1  0    1  3  0
Cubs            0  0  0   0  0  0   0  0  2    2  7  0

This was the first time the world of Steve Saunders and Scott Johnson collided. Scott drove over from Elkhart to watch this pitcher's duel ended by Glennallen Hill's pinch hit walkoff home run in the 9th inning.  Anthony Young threw 8 shutout innings for the Mets and it looked like Mike Morgan's 2-hit effort was not going to be rewarded before Hill took John Franco to deep left field.  I recorded the moment on my Hi 8 video camera.  I also recorded a few moments where I connected my walkman headphones to the camera so that you could hear Harry Carry call the game.  

We bought some lousy tickets but moved to seats near first base.  It was a fun game and the first time I had seen Scott in 4 years.  It was the only time I would see HOF Eddie Murray.

Monday, September 6, 1993, 7:06
Comiskey Park II
Attendance: 40,475, Time of Game: 3:03

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Red Sox         0  1  0   0  0  0   1  0  1    3 10  1
White Sox       0  0  0   1  0  0   0  0  0    1  6  1

The new Commiskey Park was built in the old parking lot. The only thing around to commemorate the old park was the location of home plate.  Here is the picture of the two parks next to one another before the old park was torn down. 

The White Sox were having a decent season and the game was well attended.  We sat in the upper deck along the right field line.  George Bell was booted for charging the mound against Aaron Sele.  Jack McDowell pitched for the White Sox.  I remember the L-train broke down on the way to the game and we had to hail a cab.  A homeless guy approach Steve for a handout and he reached in his pocket and came out with $10 in loose change to which the homeless guy could not believe his luck.  Are you sure?, he asked.  It says the start time weather was 66, but as soon as the sun went down I remember that it got real cold.  

If you are interested in all of the reasons the old park was better than the new park you can read about it here:

Wednesday, May 25, 1994, 7:40
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium
Attendance: 40,747, Time of Game: 4:25

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9  10 11 12  13    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -   -    -  -  -
Astros          0  0  0   3  0  0   0  2  0   0  0  0   0    5 13  2
Braves          2  0  0   2  0  0   1  0  0   0  0  0   1    6 12  2

This was an extra inning game started by HOF pitcher John Smoltz and the late Darryl Kile.  Kevin had Smoltz in our Fantasy keeper league and I owned Kile.  HOF 2B Craig Biggio only pinch hit.  The biggest highlight of the contest was Sid Bream's first game back in Atlanta after leaving for the Astros.  When he came to bat as a pinch hitter the crowd roared louder than anything I can ever remember.  I remember it being louder than David Cone's perfect game, although I distrust that memory.  Looking at the boxscore it was a thrilling game too with the Astros tying it in the 8th and the Braves winning it in the bottom of the 13th.  

Wednesday, July 5, 1995, 7:22
 Comiskey Park II
Attendance: 42,961, Time of Game: 3:00

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Yankees         0  1  1   0  2  0   0  1  0    5  7  0
White Sox       5  0  0   4  0  2   0  0  X   11 14  0

I decided to take a few weeks during the summer and visit pals Steve Saunders and Scott Johnson.  The schedule worked out nicely with the Yankees coming to Chicago.  It was my first Yankee game in 10 years.   I saw Richard Nixon in an interview who said that the most American thing to do was go to the ballpark on July 4.  This was the closest I have ever came.  I remember seeing Nixon in the Steinbrenner box on TV on July 4, 1983 when Dave Righetti threw his no hitter.  We picked up the feed on our satellite dish.  I have a VHS tape of the last few innings.

In this game, Jerry Mathers and Ken Osmond from LEAVE IT TO BEAVER threw out the ceremonial first pitch.  It was also the first time I had ever seen Andy Pettite.  I didn't know who he was, but he impressed me during pre-game warm-ups.  There was a group of kids waiting for autographs and he walked over to them and said that he had to finish throwing, but if they waited he would return and sign something for ever single one of them.  I didn't see another player sign autographs all day.  

The Yankees had had the best record in baseball in 1994, but the strike cancelled the World series.  Although the Yankees would make the playoffs in 1995, they weren't playing great yet.  The White Sox had a decent lineup with Big Hurt, Robin, and John Kruk in the middle of the order.  Ron Karkovice was the catcher.  I would see him again in 2003 when I caught him eating wings in his short-lived restaurant, Ronnie's Big League Deli, in Orlando.  

The oddity of all oddities is that Mariano Rivers started the night before and was the starting and winning pitcher for the Yankees.  This was 1 of only 10 starts he made in the majors.  He allowed just 2 hits over 8 innings.  John Wetteland got the save.  This was the wrong day to come to the ballpark.  They got stomped.

Friday, July 7, 1995, 7:05
Tiger Stadium
Attendance: 19,968, Time of Game: 2:32

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Royals          0  0  0   0  1  0   0  0  0    1  7  0
Tigers          1  0  0   2  0  0   0  0  X    3  3  0

Three days later in Detroit with Scott Johnson and Brian Fergison.  This was a compromise game because we couldn't get tickets to see Randy Johnson pitch against the tribe in Cleveland.  David Wells versus Kevin Appier was either pitching dominance or the result of two lousy lineups.  Both went the distance.  Alan Trammel and Kirk Gibson were still playing for Detroit, Vince Coleman for the Royals.  Both teams had Pensacola boys in the lineup.  Travis Fryman for Detroit and Phil Hyatt for Kansas City.  

The most memorable part was the stadium itself which was tiny.  There wasn't even much room between the gate and the field.  It looked like the concession areas were forced into closets like the little store in elementary school that sold pencils and erasers.  I heard Mickey Mantle once say that he hit 3 homers into the centerfield upper deck during a game in Detroit and I can see why.  I don't know how Jack Morris survived a decade here.  Although it was small, the 19,000 fans did not seem like a crowd either.  You can see all the empty seats behind us in the this photo.  

After the game we drove to Windsor, Canada and played a little in their overly crowded casino.  The next morning we found a mall in the same city and I bought an authentic Yankees jersey for $25(U.S) taking advantage of the foreign exchange rate.

Sunday, April 20, 1997
Start Time: 1:05 p.m. ET
Attendance: 23,601
Venue: Comiskey Park II
Game Duration: 4:20

Of all the gracious and thoughtful things attributed to Scott Johnson few will top his decision to get married the same weekend the Yankees were playing in Chicago.  It was a beautiful wedding and although Scott skipped the ballgame in favor of the honeymoon, Brother John and Steve Whitaker were in tow for this afternoon game. 

It was cold.  We were all in jackets.  This Florida boy quickly remembered why he left in the first place.  David Wells got knocked around to 5-0 deficit.  Then the Yankees scored 7 runs in the middle innings to go ahead.   

If you look at the game durations on the other posts you can see that I was not expecting a 4+ hour game.  I was expecting the game to be over by 4pm and traffic to O'Hare on Sunday afternoon should be no problem for a 6:30 flight.  We had ditch in the 10th inning and listen to them lose on the radio.  The good news is that we were very vocal for the Yankees.  I'm glad the local fans weren't able to push it back in our faces.  Also, it was bat day and I had to surrender my bat at airport security.  Considering all the planes hijacked with cheap fan promotion bats Security was on top of it. 

The Yankees fielded 3 HOF players, Tim Raines, Wade Boggs, and Derek Jeter.  They went a collective 3-15.   White Sox:  Frank Thomas 2-5.

Sunday, June 21, 1998, 1:35
Tropicana Field
Attendance: 40,348, Time of Game: 2:35

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Red Sox         0  2  1   0  0  0   0  0  0    3 11  0
Devil Rays      0  0  0   0  1  0   0  0  0    1  2  0

This was a simple Sunday and I suddenly had a baseball team within driving distance and it was a chance to see Pedro Martinez pitch in person.  Although it was crowded, tickets weren't hard to come by.  We sat on the third base side down the line.  Pedro allowed one hit through 8 innings and the game was over before the hot dogs got cold.  

Saturday, July 11, 1998, 6:34
, Tropicana Field
Attendance: 44,589, Time of Game: 2:37

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Yankees         1  0  0   0  0  0   1  0  0    2  8  0
Devil Rays      0  0  0   0  0  0   0  0  0    0  5  0

Steve Saunders got a group rate on tickets and many people from his workplace and mine came together.  We sat in Right Field, but arrived early to walk around the park.  The biggest memory of this game was watching Darryl Strawberry take batting practice.  The poor guy was an absolute mess as a human being and Steinbrenner kept giving him chances because he never lost his power.  He hit several BP home runs to center field even hitting the restaurant.  At least two of them went 450 feet.  He was so skinny and he didn't seem to swing hard but the ball just flew off his bat. With self-restraint he should have been a Hall of Famer.  

This was the year the Yankees won 114 so their 2-0 win over Tampa was no surprise.  Ex-Yankee Wade Boggs was perfect on the day 1-1 with 3 BB.  Otherwise David Cone absolutely dominated them going 8 innings and Mariano Rivera came on in the 9th, allowed two runners and then logged the save.    

This was the third team I saw Fred McGriff play for.  Padres in 1992.  Braves in 1994. Rays in 1998.  John Flaherty caught for the Rays.  I would interview in spring training him when he played for the Yankees in 2004.  

Sunday, July 12, 1998, 1:36
Tropicana Field
Attendance: 43,373, Time of Game: 3:26

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Yankees         0  1  1   0  0  0   0  0  7    9 11  0
Devil Rays      0  0  0   0  1  1   0  0  0    2  6  0

This was the very next afternoon, but I don't remember much about the game even though it was the Yankees 10th straight win.  David Wells started but Mike Stanton won in relief.  Derek Jeter had two hits.  This game was actually tied 2-2 into the 9th inning when the Yankees lit up Ray's closer Roberto Hernandez for 5 runs and then tacked on two more.  I wish I had taped this one.  It looks like a fun one.  

Saturday, August 29, 1998, 1:17
Yankee Stadium II
Attendance: 55,146, Time of Game: 3:26

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Mariners        0  0  0   0  0  1   5  0  0    6 11  1
Yankees         1  5  1   4  0  0   0  0  X   11 19  3

Less than two months later I'm at old Yankee Stadium for the first time ever and sitting in the bleachers.  I am so lucky to be a Yankee fan on this day because the experience would not have been pleasant otherwise.  It is the ugliest crowd of people I have ever sat with.  There is a reason the bleachers have their own separate entrance.  I didn't learn this until I tried to enter at another gate and was turned away.  I feel bad for people who brought their kids.  The guys are shouting terrible profanities and giving Ken Griffey Jr. the bird every time turns toward them.  I mean 100 guys standing up all around the bleachers making the gesture and screaming at Griffey.  Leading up to the series Griffey had complained to the media that he didn't like the Yankees because Billy Martin was mean to him when he visited the clubhouse as a kid.  
This is the first time I saw either Alex Rodriguez or Ken Griffey Jr play in person and they both hit homers.  The Rodriguez blast went into Left Field near a bunch of cheering fans who held up a Puerto Rican flag when he stepped to the plate. I don't think he is Puerto Rican.  The fans over there were much tamer than the crowd I sat with.  ARod was a 40/40 man that year and lead the league in hits and he finished 9th in the MVP vote.  I guess that might make someone want to try steroids.  Griffey hit 56 home runs this season and finished second in the balloting.  This is also the first time I saw Mariners Manager, Lou Piniella, since he played for the Yankees back in 1982.  

Andy Pettite started and won despite giving up 5 runs.  Strawberry and Jeter homered for the Yankees.  Tino Martinez was the only hitless Yankee.  Joe Girardi caught.  O'Neill had 3 hits but didn't manage to score or drive anyone in.  
Sunday, August 30, 1998, 1:37
, Yankee Stadium II
Attendance: 55,341, Time of Game: 3:15

The next afternoon things didn't go so well from the Yankees despite homers from Strawberry and Posada.  The Mariners pounded Hideki Irabu, the Yankees response to the Dodgers Hideo Nomo.  Billy Swift picked up the victory behind two more Griffey home runs.  The bleacher bums were no deterrent.   Chad Curtis made a great play in Left Field saving a homer although he couldn't hang onto the ball.  We sat in the upper deck down the right field line.  We had a bit of a blind spot in the right field corner if I remember.  The best part of the day was getting to visit Monument Park for the first time.  Bleacher Bums are not allowed.  To see the monuments of Ruth and Gehrig was an experience unto itself and worth separate admission.    

Thursday, July 15, 1999, 7:35PM
, Yankee Stadium II
Attendance: 49,087, Time of Game: 3:14

We came into town that morning for a long weekend driven by the fact I bought tickets in January to see Yogi Berra day that Sunday.  On a lark we bought tickets to see the Yankees play the Braves that evening.  It was the only night game I ever saw at the old Yankee Stadium.  Tom Glavine started for the Braves and he beat us 6-2.  It was a very typical Glavine performance where he would get into a bit of trouble and then brilliantly work his way out of it.  This was the first Inter-League game I had ever seen and it just happened to be the Braves and Glavine.  Future Manager, Walt Weiss, played short and led off for the Braves.

This was also the first time I ever saw Roger Clemens pitch and like all of the other times paid to see Roger he didn't dominate.  All of the usual Yankees were in the lineup.  John Rocker pitched the 9th for the Braves.  I would see Rocker again in 2003 playing Double A ball and he brushed past me as I was talking to pitching coach, Dick Bosman.  Rocker had a bad experience with the media and he certainly wasn't going to give me a chance to speak to him.  

Oddly enough this game was also the last public appearance of JFK Jr.  Someone snapped a photograph of him sitting in the first row of this game.  He would crash his plane the following night and the New York Post would run the photo on Sunday.  

Sunday, July 18, 1999, 1:35PM
, Yankee Stadium II
Attendance: 41,930, Time of Game: 2:16

These are tickets I bought in January when I saw that Yogi Berra was returning to Yankee Stadium for the first time since 1995 and he was going to be given a day in his honor.  By now Mantle and DiMaggio and Martin are all dead, but Whitey Ford attends as does Don Larsen, Yogi's battery mate from the 1956 perfect game.  Despite buying tickets 8 months earlier I could do no better than upper deck behind home plate.  We were probably only 5 rows from the very top.  The good news was that we were well protected from the rain that drizzled.  I think there was a short rain delay, but I can't confirm it.  The rain or threat of rain is why the attendance was only 41,000.  This game sold a lot more tickets.  

If the day couldn't be more magical, David Cone hauls off and throws a perfect game against the Montreal Expos striking out 10.  This had happened 20 times in all of baseball history and seeing it in person was breath taking.  Derek Jeter hit a home run.  I listened to the radio announcers during the contest which is always a bit surreal.  It feels like 360 Degree television. 

This would be the last time I visited the old Yankee Stadium.  I seriously considered never attending another baseball game because nothing could top this experience and I didn't want new memories to crowd out the thrill of this one. 

Thursday, October 4, 2001, 7:16PM
, Tropicana Field
Attendance: 15,265, Time of Game: 2:35

My sabbatical from baseball may have lasted longer had it not been for 9-11 and an urge to see some baseball.  This was a regular season game that was pushed back because of the stoppage due to the attack.  The Yankees weren't playing good baseball.  Dad and I bought tickets from a scalper for less than face value and sat 10 or so rows behind third base.  Great seats, but a dismal effort from the Yankees who lost 4-1.  I hardly remember either of the starting pitchers.  Adrian Hernandez and Nick Bierbrodt.

Side Note:  This was the first time I saw someone play after having interviewed them in the minor leagues.  I interviewed Ray's catcher, Toby Hall, when he was in Double A in 1998.  He told me the best advice his agent ever gave him was not to get hurt.  He went 1-4 with a double.  

Friday, October 5, 2001, 7:16PM
, Tropicana Field
Attendance: 22,028, Time of Game: 2:59

Not happy at the loss we decided to return the next night and see Roger Clemens 20-2 beat up on the Rays.  The opposite happened.  Despite staking Clemens to a 3-0 lead, Clemens gave up 4 runs in the second inning and it never got any better. The only bright spot was seeing Bernie Williams hit two home runs.  We skipped the rest of the series.  It was amazing that the Yankees made it to the World Series after seeing this display.

These were the days that the Rays were pretty awful and tickets we easy to get even with the Yankees in town and before Roger Clemens was tainted.  I would never bother to go to the box office because someone was always selling tickets for less than face value outside.  This time a cop saw me try to buy tickets from another fan and told me that I needed to go to the box office to buy tickets.  yeah yeah. I walked around to the other side of the stadium and bought them from someone else.  

Sunday, June 8, 2003, 7:05PM
, Wrigley Field
Attendance: 39,341, Time of Game: 3:17

Steve Whitaker had come down to Florida during the spring and I had mentioned that the Yankees were going to play the Cubs for the first time since the 1938 World Series.  Steve knew of the game and he also knew his boss has access to great tickets.  He called me in May and invited me along to the game with his wife and business client.  Old Style beer.  I remember we walked the magnificent mile and ate at California Pizza Kitchen and took the L-train to the game.  It was crazy outside the park. The seats were better than words can describe.  We were behind the backstop net in the second row.  Ernie Banks sat down behind us.  That story can be found here.

Andy Pettite was roughed up for 6 runs and out of the game before the 3rd inning.  Mark Prior handled the Yankees through 6 innings striking out 10 on the way to his 3rd place finish in the Cy Young race.  The bullpen started to let the Cubs down as they allowed 2 Yankee runs in the 8th and 2 more in the 9th before pinch runner Charles Gipson was picked off first base by Joe Borrowski to end the game.  (You had one job!)  Borrowski had allowed 3 base runners in the inning and that scrub mistake cost us a glorious comeback.

I have not been back to Chicago since.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2003,
, Pro Player Stadium
Attendance: 65,934, Time of Game: 4:03

Steve Bartman is famous enough to have a documentary made about him.  In Chicago, he is the reason the Cubs missed the World Series.  This is despite the fact that it was just one play and the Cubs made so many other donkey plays that it is unfair to blame a fan legally touching a ball that was not in play.  But if we say that Bartman is the sole goat then Bartman will be hero to me forever.  Because without Bartman I would never have had the opportunity to take my dad to see the Yankees in a World Series game.  My dad had just turned 60 years old the month before and would live just 5 years longer.  There were a lot of reasons not to go.  The tickets were $200 a piece and although a bargain by today's standards, it seemed like a lot of money.  When I weighed the pros and cons I realized that I would likely never get an opportunity to see the Yankees in the World Series again.  And never again would I be able to go with Dad who would not travel by plane to see a baseball game.  The big trick here is that I didn't ask him if he wanted to go.  He would have said not to waste the money.  I bought the tickets and surprised him.  But he surprised me.  Instead of worrying about the cost he was immediately thrilled and mom said he told all of his barber shop customers that he was going to the game with me.  It was the last World Series the Yankees would appear in during his lifetime.  

For as dramatic as the series between the Cubs and Marlins was, the Yankees had just as much suspense.  It took 7 games for the Yankees to beat the Red Sox and that was after Aaron Boone homered in extra innings.  

I chose to buy tickets to game 4 because I didn't want to take a chance on a sweep and miss out on a ticket for Game 5.  Game 3 was also tempting, but then I read that Roger Clemens was slated to go in Game 4 and it was likely the last game he would ever pitch before he retired.  (Ha Ha).

Rookie Miguel Cabrera hit a 2-run homer in the first and the Yankees trailed 3-1 going into the 9th.  With two outs and two on, pinch hitter Ruben Sierra hit a triple to tie the game 3-3.  There were a lot of Yankee that came to life at that moment.  The play made up for all the Ruben Sierra rookie cards I had bought in 1989 that were now worthless.  I may have never seen dad cheer so much at a game.  

Because Mariano Rivera had thrown a 2 inning save the day before, I can see where Torre was hesitant to use him, but after blank innings from Nelson and Contreras, Jeff Weaver blew the game in the bottom of the 12th.  Looking back I should have chosen Mike Mussina's gem against Josh Beckett in Game 3 where Aaron Boone and Bernie Williams hit homers.  But this time winning was a lot less important than spending the evening with Dad at baseball's biggest event.

Friday, August 1, 2008, 7:37PM
, Nationals Park
Attendance: 30,572, Time of Game: 2:26

This is the only baseball game I have attended with Trish.  We arrived by subway, bought food, and then let the sun beat us down for a good while before darkness began.  

Neither of these teams were very good, although the Reds had some talent with Jay Bruce, Edwin Encarnacion, and Adam Dunn.  The Nationals lineup was a group of outcasts.  But still the Nationals won 5-2 sending the Red's touted phenom, Homer Bailey, to 0-5 for the year. Jay Bruce hit a homer in the 9th.  It was a fast game at 2 hours and 26 minutes.  I thought it was a nice ballpark,  the first new breed ballpark I set foot in.

We sat in Left Field 2 rows behind the fence and we had a good look at Adam Dunn all night.  We were quick to exit the ballpark and get back into the metro, but the train just sat there for 20 minutes and allowed a bigger and bigger crowd to make the ride back a chore. 

Friday, June 15, 2012, 7:07PM
, Angel Stadium of Anaheim
Attendance: 37,096, Time of Game: 2:34

I wasn't following baseball like I had in years past, but we were in town to work the press event at Disneyland and a few of us decided see the Angels down the street.  Trevor Cahill won the game 5-0 for the Diamonbacks allowing just 3 hits and 2 walks in 7 innings.  The boxscore only hinted at how much trouble he was really in. Only 58 of his 104 pitches were strikes.  The Angels just had no patience at the plate.  Trumbo, Pujols, and Trout were 0-12.  It was a microcosm of how disappointing their entire season was.  

I went to the game with Rob Matheison, a longtime Angels fan that grew up in California, and James Maness who once saw Nolan Ryan throw a 1-hitter in that very park.  We sat in the upper deck more or less behind the plate leaning to the first base side. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014, 4:10 pm
, Tropicana Field
Attendance: 11,257, Time of Game: 3:45

This was the first game I attended by myself.  It was a rare late afternoon game that made getting through the Tampa traffic easy so I took the day off, bought a half price ticket on Ebay, and drove over.  The ticket had a face value of $55 and it cost me around $25.  It put me a dozen rows behind the expensive home plate seats.  Many people in my section arrived late and left early as they were probably using someone's season tickets.  The ushers were nice.  The guy in my row was retired and we chatted about baseball pre-game.  

Alex Cobb and Sonny Gray dueled all afternoon and it would have been a relatively quick game had it not gone extra innings.  The A's scored a run in the top of the 11th and were poised to win it before Luke Gregerson allowed a walkoff 3-run homer to Sean Rodriguez to end the game.  I spent the rest of the night at Derby Lane playing $2-5 NL.   

Sunday, August 24, 2014, 1:35 pm
, Nationals Park
Attendance: 35,476, Time of Game: 3:46

Steve Saunders and I flew up to DC for the weekend to see Kevin Seeger.  We had talked all week of the possibility to seeing a game, but Saturday looked like rain and we chose a quiet afternoon at Kevin's apartment watching baseball on TV.  Steve and I were set to return to Orlando on Sunday night with a whole day of seeing the city with Kevin working.  We searched for a breakfast place, but Sunday in DC is pretty quiet.  We settled for Elephant and Castle although they only served lunch.  I will remember it as my first experience with Yorkshire Pudding.  Why have I never ordered this before?  After enjoying the pub we walk down by the developing waterfront.  There was a lot of construction on the wharf, but signs of promising shopping and dining in the years ahead.  From there we walked to the stadium and decided to see this ballgame.  The nice lady at the ticket counter sold us cheap upper deck tickets in section 407.  They were perfectly shaded all game long with a great view of the jumbo screen for $22.    

Steven Strasburg and Ryan Vogelsong were the pitchers. Strasburg didn't have it.  He allowed runs in each of the first 3 innings and was down 5-0 before the start of the 4th inning.  It took the Nats until the 4th to figure Vogelsong out, but he left the game as the pitcher of record with a 6-3 lead in the 6th inning.  Not a single SF reliever came and went without surrendering at least one run and the Nats bullpen was lights out from that point on.  Late in the game Bryce Harper hit a 2-run homer off the right field foul pole.  I can't remember ever seeing another foul pole homer in person.

The game was televised on TBS and I told Trish via text.  She said the kids spent and inning trying to see us and then gave up.  These teams would be a playoff matchup on the way to the Giants winning the World Series.  

We took the Metro back to Foggy Bottom. 

Monday, June 15, 2015
Start Time: 7:11 p.m. Local
Attendance: 33,961
Venue: Marlins Park
Game Duration: 2:41

This was my first trip to the Marlins new ballpark with retractable roof and it was quite an upgrade from the football stadium where they had been playing.  I splurged for a ticket behind home plate because I wanted to see what Tanaka looked like on the mound.  He pitched good enough to win but the team didn't hit good enough to win.  The difference in the game was a long home run down the right field line by role player, Derek Deitrich.

The stadium sits on the land that was once home to the Orange Bowl.  I was solo for the trip and drove directly to Hialeah after the game to lose at $2-5 NL.  All in all it was a losing night, but the ballpark was nice. 

HOF:  Ichiro playing for the Marlins is a 1st Ballot Hall of Famer.  Stanton could possibly reach 500 homers.  ARod pinch hit and his once assured HOF career was derailed from the needle. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Start Time: 7:10 p.m. ET
Attendance: 12,757
Venue: Tropicana Field
Game Duration: 3:07

Steve Whitaker and family were in Clearwater for the week so I met them for this weeknight game.  This was the 4th MLB ballpark that I have seen baseball with Steve Whitaker.  Commiskey, Wrigley, Atlanta Fulton County being the others. 

It was the 3rd game of the season and the pitchers ahead of the hitters cliché seemed true enough.  Despite the Blue Jays high powered offense the offense was slight.  We enjoyed the beer and conversation while grown men played baseball on plastic. 

The game had the craziest of endings.  The Rays are leading by 1 run going into the top of the top of the 9th.  The Blue Jays manage to load the bases with one out.  Edwin Encarnacion at the plate.  Encarnacion hits a grounder to Longoria at 3B who tosses to Logan Forsythe at second for the first out.  Joey Batista comes in hard to second base and Forsythe's throw is wild and out of reach of the first baseman.  Two runs score and the Blue Jays take the lead.  Rays manager, Kevin Cash, challenges the play at second base.  New York decides that Batista interfered with Forsythe and the 2 runs come off the board and the interference becomes the 3rd out of the inning and the end of the game. 

What's great about baseball is that you constantly see things you have never seen and this was certainly an example. 

Looking through the lineups of both teams I don't think anyone in this lineup will make the HOF.

Sunday, May 22, 2016
Start Time: 4:40 p.m. ET
Attendance: 43,100
Venue: PetCo Park
Game Duration: 5:47

I was in California to work the Disneyland Press Event and had this Sunday off so I headed down to San Diego to see if their ballpark was as nice as they say.  It was.  A great ballpark.  There was a nice tribute outside to Jerry Coleman, former Yankee and longtime Padres announcer.  The poor people of San Diego deserve a better team to go with this great facility. 

Randy Jones the ex-hurler has a BBQ kiosk and it was terrible.  Everything else about the park was great.  The Padres couldn't hit a lick and then blew a 5-4 lead in the 9th.  I was there solo and the people near me were season ticket holders that knew each other, but they weren't ardent baseball fans.  I asked the guy to my right what about the park made it such a pitcher's paradise and he said that he didn't know the park favored pitchers.  I would have sent him here if I could.

The game went 17 innings, but by that time I was watching it from a TV screen up the road at Oceans 11 Casino.  I won enough money to pay for the day. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Whiney Sports Writer on the Masters

There must have been a time that sportswriters were real men.  This to me is an example of how entitled these pipsqueak bastards have become.  He throws in some stuff about the terrible terrible history of Augusta but it's really just a rationalization for his anger for not being treated as a VIP himself. 
I finagled a credential in 2014 after months of begging, and I expected to be overcome by emotion and goose bumps when I first stepped onto the hallowed grounds.Instead, the entire experience felt like tiptoeing through a minefield, and it started long before I crossed the border into Georgia. Numerous reporters gave me warnings in the days leading up—don’t you dare take your cell phone on the course, or they’ll kick you out, since the Masters is the one tournament that doesn’t allow journalists to carry phones outside the media center. Don’t get caught running anywhere on the course, or you’re gone. Don’t write anything controversial, because they read everything, and you’ll never be invited back. Make sure you personally thank the key officials before the tournament begins, or your rudeness will be noted. Et cetera, et cetera.

Friday, May 08, 2015


MAD MEN is my favorite show of all-time having beat out the Sopranos years ago.  Unlike other shows that I liked for a while, Dexter, The Shield, and Damages, the show has moved forward rather than re-hash old tropes.  Sometimes Weiner will even setup old tropes only to change course and surprise you.  In the age where the protagonist is an anti-hero in all of the better shows, Don Draper fits the bill without ever killing anyone.  The character is written well, but you have to credit John Hamm for bringing an intensity to the role that makes it special.  Hamm is a versitle actor than can do comedy and drama, but he's not really terribly interesting unless he is playing a derivative of Don Draper.  His cameo in Bridesmaid could have been played by a dozen actors.  His role in The Town is forgettable.  He shines in an episode of the UK show, BLACK MIRROR, because he plays a version of Draper. 

Mad Men must account among it's inspirations THE MAN IN THE GREY FLANNEL SUIT.  It's about a war veteran living a double life and trying to reconcile both while appearing to be a bland commuter.  It's a great book and a decent movie with Gregory Peck.  Peck is great in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and ROMAN HOLIDAY.  I don't think Hamm would have been above average in either, but Gregory Peck was genius in both.  But what Hamm does with Draper is far more interesting than what Peck did in flannel suit.  Like all actors Hamm wants to avoid being typcast, but it will be tricky because he is superior at that one thing and average at everything else.  I don't see a future for him in leading film roles.  He probably needs a LOST type ensemble show where even as the main character he isn't the linchpin for success.