Archive for July, 2010

We attended.

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Last night, Apryl and I went to the free Caribou show at at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. It was great but the crowd got a bit crazy towards the end. Check out video here and here.

First Place!

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

Today’s most watched sporting event might have been the World Cup, but if you’re a White Sox fan, this afternoon’s match up against the Kansas City Royals was the one that really mattered. With the Detroit Tigers losing and the Good Guys winning 15 – 5, the White Sox are now in First Place in the AL Central Division. The Sox are presently on an eight game winning streak (while sweeping the Angels and the Royals) and have won 21 games out of their last 25. Amazing!

The team gets a bit of a breather as everyone takes off for the All Star Game. If you’re watching this year, be on the look out for Paul Konkero and Matt Thornton who will representing the Good Guys from the South Side.

Sox vs. Cubs – Attended Game #6 (6/25/10)

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

White Sox 6, Cubs 0

The last time I attended a Crosstown Classic game, I vowed I would never go to another. These games are not for those looking for a relaxing day at the ballpark. The atmosphere is far too tense for that to occur, seeing as fights are likely to break out at anytime, anywhere around you. This year, adding to this pumped up bravado, is the introduction of a trophy called the BP Crosstown Cup (talk about bad timing), which is awarded to the team that wins the best out of the six game series. So, I was planning on staying as far away from this game as possible. That is, until my buddy called me up again and said he an extra ticket. So, off to the Cell I went!

Luckily, all the drama this year (or at least this game) occurred on the field and not in the stands. This was the game that troubled Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano had another meltdown after the Sox scored 4 runs on him in the 1st inning. If you didn’t see it, Zambrano stomps on first base, getting the last out of the inning, and then proceeds into the dugout screaming at his teammates, particularly Cubs first baseman Derek Lee. Apparently, Big Z thought that Lee cost him a run when Lee didn’t make a good enough effort at a ball that was smashed right down the first base line. After the two are separated by Cubs manager Lou Piniella, Big Z knocks over a water cooler and exits the dugout through the tunnel back to the lockers. He wouldn’t return to the game. More on the tirade here.

Where I was in the stands, I saw none of this crazy altercation. When Big Z was staring down Derek Lee in the dugout, I did hear a section of the crowd going crazy, but I merely assumed that there was a fight breaking out. So, surely some of the fans had a good view of what was going down. Not I. Instead, I was left dumbfounded when Big Z didn’t return for the 2nd inning. Sure, he gave up 4 runs but that’s no reason to sit out a starter. I was very confused. It wouldn’t be until after the game that I would realize what had happened. The local media sure had a field day with it.

On the mound for the Sox was the 2007 Cy Young winner, Jake Peavy. Peavy was acquired late last season from the San Diego Padres at a time when he was injured and couldn’t provide much help to the rotation. The gamble was for Peavy to shine this season, and even though Peavy had a rough start, the gamble has finally started to pay off for the Sox (even though he got injured in last nights game against the Angels). On that day, Peavy was amazing, pitching 7 straight innings, and allowing only 3 hits while striking out 9 batters!

Along with the great pitching, we saw home runs from Carlos Quentin and the struggling Georgia kid Gordon Beckham. I even have video of Quentin’s home run has it happens! See below (click on the video to make it larger):

Easily, the Sox won that day, bringing their streak to 10 games. The Sox would win the next day as well. Unfortunately, the streak would stop at 11 games, as the Cubs finally managed to scrape a win by during a pitchers duel between Ted Lilly and Gavin Floyd, where the Cubs came out on front defeating the Sox 1 – 0. For a moment there, though, the Sox were the hottest team in baseball. And I was a part of it.

Sox vs. Braves – Attended Game #5 (6/23/10)

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

White Sox 4, Braves 2

The White Sox versus the Atlanta Braves?!? It seemed like such a strange, fortuitous match up that I had to research when the last time these two teams played against one another. The answer: June 13, 2004 (the Sox won 10 – 3). At the release of the 2010 schedule, when I learned that these two ball teams were going to be matched up during Interleague Play, I knew I was going to be at The Cell.

You see, the Braves were my boyhood team. Those were the days when the Braves seemed to be on a continual loop on the tube thanks to Ted Turner and TBS Superstation. It was also the days when my baseball hero Dale Murphy caught flyballs in the outfield while batting mid .200 averages. The Braves weren’t a very good team then. For some reason, it always seemed like they would lose the game in the 9th inning, usually due to poor pitching or a fielding error. During those years, the Braves were lucky if they won 60 games a season. Plain and simple, they stunk. But I didn’t care, I loved them anyway. And then I “grew out” of baseball, and all of a sudden the Braves stopped stinking. Between the years of 1991 (the first season I stopped religiously following the team) – 1999, the Braves made it to 5 World Series, winning one in 1995. I still remember the win because I watched it in a bar with my dad. The first time I had ever been in a bar with my dad. I had a coke.

So before the 2010 baseball season even started, I knew that I was going to an Atlanta Braves game. But this time, I would have to root for them to lose. I had planned to go to a day game using my gift card from Steph and Adam, but got invited to the June 13th night game at the last minute from a buddy of mine. We met up at a the Wabash Tap before the game for a few beers and a burger. While we were hanging out inside the bar, the bottom fell out as a mighty storm raged through the area. On the television over the bar, we watched as the tarp was being put over the field, a the long rain delay started. No worries. We ordered a few more beers and waited it out. As soon as we saw the ground crew take off the tarp, we knew it was safe to head for the ballpark.

After an hour and an half delay, the ballgame was underway. Just like the last time the Sox played the Braves back in `04, Mark Buehrle was pitching. I was excited about this because I hadn’t seen Mark pitch yet this season. At the time of the game, Buehrle had a 5-6 record, and it didn’t seem like he would going to .500 the way the Braves were hitting of him. While the Braves have had some off seasons of late, the team now has one of the best records in the National League. Still, despite the multiple hits, the Braves weren’t scoring.

While the Braves may have had a strong position in the National League standings, they were going against the hottest team in all of Major Leagues. You see, the White Sox had won the last seven games. In the previous 15 games, they had only lost twice. They had swept the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Washington Nationals, and were now looking to do the same to the Atlanta Braves. In the 5th inning, slumping Carlos Quentin jacked a two-run homer over the right field wall, directly into the Braves bullpen. In the 6th, the Braves answered back with a single run. The game was 3 – 2, in the Sox favor. In the 7th, Carlos again hit a homer, this time over the left field wall. It was all the Sox would need, as Bobby Jenks would close out the win for Mark Buehrle. Afterward, we took in the fireworks show, as we all celebrated the Sox 8th straight win.

Two days later, I would witness the 10th straight win against the Cubs during the Crosstown Classic. More on that later…

Saturday at Ravinia

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

A Prairie Home Companion – Highland Park, IL (special guest: John Prine)

Listen here.

Barons vs. Smokies – Attended Game #4 (6/2/10)

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

Barons Baseball

Barons 7, Smokies 8

In early June, the 15th Annual Rickwood Classic returned to Birmingham, Alabama, as baseball fans celebrated Rickwood Field’s 100th birthday. That’s right, you read that correctly. 100 years! The hometown team Birmingham Barons, who are a Double-A affiliate for the Chicago White Sox took on the Chicago Cubs affiliate, the Tennessee Smokies.

Perhaps you remember how my dad and I made this classic ballpark pilgrimage last year as the Barons took on the Mississippi Braves (and lost, I might add). When we attended, we were well aware of the ballpark’s historical significance, but we didn’t know that we were witnessing its 99th year in existence. So, after the final out was made, we made a pact to return the next year to take part in the ballpark’s centennial. Only this time, we brought some company:

Outside Rickwood

As you can see from the above picture, my nephews Jackson and Andrew tagged along with us this time. The road trip took a bit longer than expected, so we didn’t arrive until a few innings into the game. When we arrived, we immediately fought our way through the crowd to the long lines at the concession stands. At first, we were in the wrong line, which cost us even more time and perhaps a good seat. However, once we got in the correct line, the wait was worth it since the hot dog (which is filled with sauerkraut) was mighty tasty. I was so hungry, I almost forgot to get a photo of it:

Rickwood dog

After we ate, we settled into our seats along the right field line and got ready for the bottom of the third inning. According to the nearly fully human operated scoreboard, the Barons were down by three runs as the Smokies scored five runs in the top of the 3rd. Still, it was early and anyone’s game.

Our seats

Above, you get an idea of the vantage point from our seats. Sure, we were a bit far from the action, but we were also covered which meant we were shaded from the harsh sun all day. I should note that seating at Rickwood is General Admission, which means first come, first serve. Unfortunately, since we arrived late to the park, we didn’t get choice seats. Still, our seats weren’t bad (an amazing seat in the Majors), only a bit far to get great photos with my zoom lens. However, I did manage to get some nice photos of the outfield:

Rickwood Outfield 2

Rickwood outfield

Here is a short video clip of the ballpark from our seats:

And video of the Barons nearly getting a single after the first baseman fumbles with the ball:

Later in the game, I ventured closer to the action to get some shots of the Barons at the plate. Here you can see the Barons sporting uniforms that mimic those worn back in 1910 when the ballpark opened:

Uni

And a Barons’ triple!

As for the game, the scoring would go back and forth. The Barons tied up the game in the 5th with three runs only to get behind again in the 7th when the Smokies posted up two more runs. The Barons would answer back with two runs themselves in the bottom of the 7th. The game would remind tied 7 – 7 throughout the nine innings, only to be broken by a home run in the 11th from the Smokies. The final innings were never dull, though, as the Barons threatened to score and win the game each inning. Perhaps, my dad and I are just bad luck for this Barons’ team?

After the 9th, a large section of the crowd left early, so we made our way to better seats behind home plate. Here was our vantage point from the 9th – 11th:

9th vanatage

Below, the Barons are intentional walked:

Despite the loss, the Barons gave the crowd of 9,448 a great game. That official number might not seem large compared to the 40,000 that show up for a Sox/Cubs major league game, but given the space limitations of the ancient park, this was surely close to a sell out.

After the game, the fans were allowed on to the field. Jackson and Andrew took the opportunity to get autographs and run around the bases:

Autographs

Below, Andrew slides into home and really does a number to his leg:

Above, Jackson holds his souvenir Barons baseball while Andrew sports the Barons cap and hold on to his mini baseball bat.

Baseball is a renewed love of mine. And while I know that my father doesn’t share the same passion as I do about America’s national past time, I’m touched that he makes the effort. Because like baseball, it’s more than a game. How glad I am that I got to spend the summer day with him and my nephews.

Us