06/29/2004: Baseblogging in not-quite-real-time
Thanks to the generosity of a friend, I was able to score some tickets to the Memphis Redbirds game against the visiting Iowa Cubs tonight. On a whim, I decide to keep score, with an eye towards posting a summary of the action. Don't know how accurate my scorekeeping was (there were a couple of places where my attention wandered, usually because of a good looking woman crossing somewhere in my field of view as the action was taking place), but I may update this post based on the writeup (or at least box score) in the Commercial Appeal tomorrow (based on the dubious theory that the CA's sportswriter, being as s/he is paid to attend the game, actually paid a bit more attention to the action than I did).
Pregame: I arrive, as is my usual custom, just about around the time gates open. Well.... in this case, about five minutes before gates open. To my surprise, there is a bit of a line. Tonight's promotion: it's bobble head night! Tonight the first 1500 fans through the gates get an interesting "Siamese bobble head doll" of Redbirds broadcasters Tom Stocker and Steve Selby. (This is apparently a weekly thing; next week is (if I heard the announcement correctly) the Adam Wainwright bobble head, which would actually be something I might be interested. This reminds me; I've heard a rumor that Sept. 6 is Albert Pujols bobble head day (afternoon game; it being Labor Day and all). I make a note to myself to see if there are still tickets available; a bobble of Phat Albert would really be a catch worth having.) Be still my fluttering heart! This is going to go so well next to my bobble head of Big Mac (Mark McGwire--it's a long story, but that one was a gift). "Siamese bobble head?", I hear you ask. Well, sorta. The bobbles are actually molded side by side into a desk (complete with scorecard and game notes), as if Stocker and Selby are sitting there at the game calling the play by play; they're not separate dolls. Interestingly enough, the base of the desk bears the inscription: "Tom Stocker & Steve Selby--2002". Um... did someone not tell Star Network (the ATM/Debit Card empire that is sponsoring tonight's giveaway) that it's 2004? Or are these bobbles that they couldn't give away two years ago? Inquiring minds want to know.
Oh well, at least the box the bobbles come in make a nice writing surface for the scorecard I bought. Much nicer than my thighs. I buy my Traditional Ballpark Meal (a couple jumbo dogs and a bag o'peanuts, washed down with as much Budweiser as I can choke down). I'm in heaven, as far as I'm concerned. The only way things could improve is if I were at Busch Stadium watching the Cardinals. And since the Cards are playing in Pittsburgh tonight, that's really not a viable option.
Top of the 1st
Cubs CF Murray hits a nice single. This isn't looking good. Fortunately for The Good Guys, however, he's caught stealing as Cubs 2B Johnson is watching the ball go by for a called third strike. Life is good so far, and remains good as Cubs RF Dubois flies to centerfield for the third out.
Bottom of the 1st
Redbird CF Chris Prieto grounds to second on a full count for an easy putout. 2B Bo Hart, thinking that variety is the spice of life, hits a fly to centerfield for the second out. Then Redbird LF John Gall grounds to short for another easy putout. 0-0 at the end of the first.
Top of the 2nd
With the count even at 1-1, Redbird P Jason Simontacci hits Cub 1B Selby with a pitch. I really wish he hadn't done that. Next up, Cub 3B Leon singles to advance Selby. Cub LF Kelton grounds to second, and Bo Hart allows the runners to advance and goes for the putout at first (in fairness to Hart, it looked to me like that was his only viable play). With men on second and third with one out, Cub SS Gutierrez singles, scoring Selby and advancing Leon to third. I'm not sure exactly what happened next; either Gutierrez had a brain fart and took too long a lead, or else he tried to steal and then lost his nerve; anyway Redbird C Cresse fired the ball to second, and Hart managed to fire the ball to first in time to nail Gutierrez as he was scrambling back to the bag. Two out, man on third. Cub C Lunar hits a nice single, scoring Leon, but Cub pitcher flies to left for the third out. Cubs ahead, 2-0.
Bottom of the 2nd
Redbird 1B Kevin Witt flies out to right field. 3B Scott Seabol hits a nice single, and RF Colin Porter follows that up with another single advancing Seabol to second. C Cresse then rips a double to right center; Seabol scores easily but Porter is thrown out by the right fielder trying to score (nice throw by Cub RF Dubois, there). Redbird SS Jason Bowers rips the second double of the inning, scoring Cresse easily, leaving Simontacci to strike out swinging to end the inning. Game tied, 2-2.
Top of the 3rd
Murray and Johnson hit back to back singles. Not to be outdone (sorta), Dubois and Selby hit back to back fly balls to centerfield (I'm already struck by the notion that the centerfielders are doing quite a bit of the work tonight....). Leon, however, rips a double which easily scores Murray and advances Johnson to third. Fortunately for The Good Guys (um, Memphis, in case you haven't noticed) Kelton grounds to Bo Hart at second to end the inning. Cubs lead 3-2.
Bottom of the 3rd
Chris Prieto works the pitcher nicely, letting four balls go by for a walk. Bo Hart does the same thing; this sets up John Gall to hit a long fly to deep centerfield; Prieto advances on the play while Hart remains at first (I score it a sac fly, myself). I liked that Prieto advanced on the fly ball, but it didn't matter much as Kevin Witt lofts one into deep right centerfield for a three run homer. Seabol lifts one out to deep left center (my scorecard indicates that I'm not sure who caught it--either LF or CF, obviously). Porter than pops out to second to end the inning. Redbirds lead 5-3.
Top of the 4th
1-2-3 inning: Gutierrez grounds to Bo Hart at second, then Lunar taps one to Simontacci who throws to first for the putout, then Nolasco flies to center to end it.
Bottom of the 4th
Not to be outdone, the Redbirds show that they can go down 1-2-3, too: Cresse and Bowers fly out to center, while Simo grounds out to second. Redbirds still lead, 5-3.
Top of the 5th
The Cubs decide to stay in the groove and go down in order yet again; Murray files out to center, Johnson pops out to Witt at first, and then Dubois hits a sharp ground ball to Bowers who makes an easy throw to first for the putout. Redbirds ahead 5-3.
Bottom of the 5th
Prieto grounds out easily to second. Fortune then smiled on Bo Hart, as he hit a light dribbler up the third baseline. Nolasco and Leon elect to watch the ball dribble foul, when the ball stopped rolling--on the fair side of the foul line!!! By that time Hart had been standing on first for about 40 seconds or so, so there was no chance to throw him out. Hart advanced to second on a wild pitch. Gall flied out to deep left center (my scorecard reflects that I didn't quite see who got the ball--Kelton (LF) or Murray (CF)--at any rate one of them did). Witt hit a solid single which advanced Hart to third, and Scott Seabol followed that with an RBI single which scored Hart, before Porter popped out to third to end the inning. Redbirds ahead 6-3.
Top of the 6th
Selby tags Simontacci on a 0-1 count for a leadoff solo homer. Simo settles down after that, and Leon grounds to Bo Hart, Kelton flies to right, and Gutierrez strikes out swinging. Redbirds lead, 6-4.
It is somewhere around this time I have a "Holy shit!!!" moment. Glancing at the scoreboard, I see that the Cardinals are no-hitting the Pittsburgh Pirates in the top of the 6th. Of course, now I have to keep an eye on this as it may/not unfold.....
Bottom of the 6th
Cresse hits a nice single. Unfortunately, Cub 3B Leon makes a good play on Jason Bowers's grounder and nails Cresse at second on the fielder's choice. The Cubs make a pitching change at this point., bringing in Bland (and, interestingly enough, slipping him into the 7th spot in the batting order), while pulling SS Gutierrez and replacing him with Dawkins, batting 9th. Ortiz, pinch hitting for Simontacci, hits a nice single, but to no avail, as both Prieto and Hart fly out (to short and center, respectively) to end the inning. Redbirds hold on to their 6-4 lead.
Top of the 7th
Stemle comes in to relieve, since Simo had been lifted for the pinch hitter last inning.
This half inning represents "the agony and the ecstasy". Not necessarily in that order. On an 0-2 count Lunar rips what looks to be a sure single to the hole to Bo Hart's left. In a move reminiscent of Ozzie Smith at his prime, Hart makes an absolutely un-fucking-believable diving catch to rob Lunar of the hit. (That's the ecstasy, part 1). Dawkins grounds out, 6-3.
Now comes the agony. About 6 rows ahead of me about 5 kids (about 10-13 years old, if I am forced to guess) are doing the little league...."Hey, batter... hey...batter...hey, batter... SWING!!!!" that kids of that age do to rile the batter when they play ball. (My seats tonight are on the field level, and we're about, oh, 15-20 yards away from the batter, which explains why the kids think that they're doing the Redbirds a favor.) Suitable in a youth league game, perhaps. Seriously annoying at a pro ballgame. I'm seriously contemplating homicide; my guess is no jury in the world will convict me. Before I can act on my homicidal urges, though, God shows that she has a seriously warped sense of humor, as both Murray and Johnson swing as the kids yell "SWING!!!", and each of them rip singles (Murray advancing to third base on Johnson's single). I wish I could say the kids learned their lesson and shut the hell up, but no, they didn't. Fortunately the Cub threat came to naught, as the ecstasy, part 2, kicked in. Dubois smashed a wicked line drive immediately to Stemle's left. Stemle, seemingly by reflex more than by conscious purpose, stuck his glove out, and snatched the ball for the out. Redbirds still lead 6-4.
Bottom of the 7th
Gall pops out to second, then Witt hits a grounder to first which Selby tosses to Cub P Bland for the putout. Seabol walks, then steals second, but Porter grounds to short ending any threat. Redbirds still ahead 6-4.
Top of the 8th
The annoying kids, thank Ghod, are gone. On the other hand, the crowd is starting to do "The Wave". I contemplate homicide yet again, but give it up realizing that there are thousands of them, and only one of me. There is no justice on Earth. Somewhere around this time I notice that the Cards appear to have blown their no hitter in the eighth. I grumble under my breath yet again....
Selby (who's having a pretty damn good night, all considered), rips a double. He advances to third when Leon hits a grounder to Hart, who elects to throw to first for the easy out. Fortunately, Kelton strikes out swinging and Hubbard, pinch hitting for Bland, pops out to Hart to end the inning.
Bottom of the 8th
Cresse grounds to second for an easy putout. Bowers works the count to draw a dandy walk, and then steals second. Unfortunately, the effort is wasted as Alviso, pinch hitting for Stemle flies out to center, and Prieto grounds to second to end the inning. Redbirds still up 6-4.
Top of the 9th
A serious depression sets in. Not only have the Cards blown their no-hitter, but they've let the Pirates win it in the bottom of the ninth. Heads should roll.
Al Reyes comes in to relieve in the save situation. He gets Lunar to line out to short. for the first out, and then, thinking perhaps that I didn't have enough excitement in my life recently, gives up a solo homer to Dawkins. He then entices Murray to ground to short (rather nicely), then proceeds to play around with Johnson, enough so that he walks him (I can feel my blood pressure rising as that walk is issued). However, he manages to settle down, and with the count 0-1 gets Dubois to hit a sharp grounder to Seabol, who makes a quick toss to second base to nail Johnson at second for the third out of the inning. REDBIRDS WIN, 6-5.
Len on 06.29.04 @ 12:23 AM CST