Vancouver, British Columbia was the next stop on my family’s Pacific Northwest road trip after the stay in Seattle. And even while this segment included baseball, I was more thrilled to visit filming locations from the popular USA Network show Psych. Running from 2006 to 2013, Psych was a crime comedy that chronicled a fake psychic detective and his Watson-esque sidekick as the pair solved crimes with the Santa Barbara police department. However, only aerial images on the show were actually filmed in Santa Barbara as the rest of the filming took place in Canada. The following slideshow has pictures of the locations that I took juxtaposed with shots from actual episodes of Psych.
Fun story: The Vancouver Canadians are the short season class-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, and I did not even know the team existed until I mentioned my travel plans to a friend shortly before I left. As it turns out, the Canadians’ first baseman is Ryan McBroom, a resident of Fredericksburg, VA. In fact, he attended the same middle school that all my brothers and I did. I knew he was drafted by Toronto, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn he was playing in Vancouver. McBroom won Player of the Week honors for the Northwest League for the week June 23-29. He was presented the award after the game I attended. Vancouver unfortunately lost the game to the Everett Aquasox (gotta love the minor league team names), but it was cool to be there nonetheless. Another point of interest: the stadium accepts American currency, and I imagine the Rogers Centre in Toronto does as well.
My dad took Joe and me back to Safeco Field for game 2 of the series against the Twins in our last full day in Seattle. We bought $15 scalp tickets off the street and sat again in section 119 along the first base line. I never imagined seat upgrading would be so easy here considering the Mariners’ success this season, but we were never questioned about our tickets.
The highlights of the night: 1)Brad Miller threw me a ball before the game, so naturally I was way more excited than a 17-year-old should be about getting a free baseball. 2) We got a picture with the Mariner Moose so my mom would be satisfied she had something to scrapbook. 3) Only two runs were scored for the second straight night and the Twins won 2-0. 4) And I’m likely the only one who cares, but the Twins’ first run came on a solo shot by Sam Fuld who drilled a liner over the right-cente field fence, just out of Michael Saunders’ reach. The previous night, Saunders had hit a homer to right-center field just out of Fuld’s reach. Payback? And finally 5) It was Bark in the Park night. I added one token canine picture.
I never thought I’d say this, but the Mariners and Twins should have taken scoring lessons from Germany’s soccer team. For the first time in my life I enjoyed watching futbol-ers score more than a baseball team…or TWO teams combined over TWO games.
I attended the Mariners-Twins game Monday night at Safeco Field with my family. Much to my delight, the M’s wore their slick teal jerseys–the best uniform in baseball. I’ll write a full post later, but the highlights are: 1) I caught a batting practice home run in center field–my only catch of the day. 2) The Mariners hit 2 homers and won 2-0. 3)Brad Miller is in the high socks and stirrups in the following pictures.
These are just some of the pictures, there may be more later on. Click on a picture to enlarge it and a scroll through them in a slide show.
On Sunday we took an awesome tour of Safeco Field. We got to hang out in the dugouts and actually step foot on the field. Safeco is right next to the Seattle Seahawks’ Century Link Field, so you’ll see that in a few of these pictures.
I’m seeing a game Monday night when the Mariners take on the Twins. And I plan to attend Tuesday night as well. Many more pictures and stories to come.
Earlier this year I was at a Nationals game with three friends when the in-stadium entertainment host walked down our section and sat right in front of us. I told him we’d be more than happy to be on camera, but he motioned toward my head and said “not with that hat.” I was wearing my teal and blue Seattle Mariners hat. He wasn’t going to interview us anyway, but I got a lot of flack from my companions for preventing us from being on the jumbotron. What does that have to do with anything? Next week, I’ll be attending two games at Safeco Field, so it’s time I explain why I like to wear a Mariners hat and why I root for the team.
Foremost, most of my baseball friends know that I was NOT happy when the Marlins switched their color scheme from teal and black to orange and whatever-the-heck-else. The all-teal hats the Fish debuted in 1993 were a little too gaudy, so I was happy with Florida’s final color combination though I do wish teal were a bit more prominent in their pinstripe uniforms. Naturally, I felt drawn towards Seattle after Miami’s makeover just because of the Mariners’ classy colors.
Back in 2012, I posted about my favorite hats in baseball and asked fans to vote for their favorite. Much to my delight, the navy blue and teal hat of Seattle won the vote. Regardless of whether it won, I was planning to buy the hat because it’s my favorite in baseball, but the vote gave me an extra reason.
In addition, Safeco Field is gorgeous. It’s a retractable roof stadium with the classic ballpark colors. I thought Marlins Park was going to look like Safeco Field when I first saw the plans, but Miami went off the deep end with lime green walls and home run configurations–you know what I mean. Once I actually see a game in Seattle, I’ll have more specifics to back up the assertion of Safeco’s excellence. Further, Seattle seems to be a more culturally-classy city than Miami, famous for its library and fish market rather than its beaches and clubs.
One more plus for the Mariners: Logan Morrison, a former Marlin. And while LoMo is injury-prone, and less productive than his ostentatious nature might suggest, he will always be a Marlin to me and I’ll always root for him. The Mariners also have my favorite non-Marlin in baseball–Brad Miller. Miller is a 6’2″, 200 pound white guy that wears high socks. Basically, if I batted left handed and could play shortstop I would BE Brad Miller. Or if he were a right-handed outfielder. And since his last name is Miller, it makes things even better.
If you can’t tell, the professional is on the left:
If I were never a Marlins fan and had to pick a favorite team today, it’d be Seattle for all these reasons. But I doubt the Marlins will ever annoy me enough to drive me away from Fish Fandom. However, Seattle is much more likely this season to make a playoff run than is Miami. So come October, I hope to see the Mariners in the World Series.
David Mendell wrote an article in the Washington Post in May about the effects travel baseball teams have on community and little league baseball teams. Paul and I talked with local little league veterans, John and Maria Lagana, about what they have noticed in youth baseball in the Virginia/DC area.
The Washington Post article mentioned is HERE.
I think it’s every baseball fan’s dream to travel to all 30 Major League ballparks. In fact, whenever my family takes a trip to a baseball city, we end up planning our schedule around that of the home team. So when my pal André suggested we take a baseball road trip, I was all in.
Our original plan was to travel to Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore in three days for three games, but that just didn’t work out. So we decided to go for Fenway Park since it’s a stadium that every fan wants and needs to see. We flew up on Thursday, June 12, for that evening’s game against the Cleveland Indians.
Boston is a city built around the water. In fact, it’s early history was completely dependent on the resources provided by the ocean and bay. The modern Boston is still heavily influenced by the water as the city is divided into sectors or neighborhoods by the rivers and inlets. From the air, that interaction between the water, land, roads, and buildings is really cool to observe. Aside from Fenway Park, the approach to Logan Airport was the highlight of my day.
After a short cab trip to the hotel and a ride on the T down to the Fenway district, we were outside the green confines of baseball’s most majestic cathedral. The Ultimate Baseball Road Trip advises fans to visit Italian sausage vendors outside the park on Lansdowne Street. Naturally, we got dinner (well, “first dinner” if you ask André) from an awesome salesman behind the Green Monster. Side note: For any fan planning to travel to one or more baseball cities, the aforementioned book is a must-buy. It analyzes each seating region within a stadium and discusses outside-the-park opportunities in addition to all that the park itself has to offer. In all, it’s nearly 500 pages of pure baseball fandom.
At 4:30 we were able to enter the stadium for batting practice due to our new membership in the Red Sox Nation fan club. We ventured atop the Green Monster, where narrow aisles and steep stairs provide a less-than-ideal venue for home run snagging. Still, there were a few catchable balls in straight away left field that I would have easily caught had I been in the right spot. I was too distracted trying to take pictures and I missed out on those opportunities.
A while later, we trekked down to the right field side and took pictures by Pesky’s Pole and the red seat. The right field foul pole is named after former Red Sox infielder Johnny Pesky, who reportedly hit a game winning home run that landed in close proximity to the pole, which sits just 302 feet down the right field line. Pesky had just 17 home runs during his 10-year Major League career, so it is likely that the ones he hit at Fenway Park all landed in the short porch.
The red seat has quite the opposite significance as it sits 502 feet from home plate in the right field bleachers. It is where a Ted Williams home run reportedly landed in 1946–the longest homer ever hit at Fenway Park.
André and I then sauntered around the concourse to our ticketed seats in the grandstand section 12. Fun fact: Fenway Park opened in 1912 and the designers apparently tried to cram as many seats into the stadium as possible. Therefore, the grandstand seats have extremely limited space. And since I have disproportionately long femurs, I couldn’t sit straight forward without my knees digging into the back of the wooden seat in front of me. But, I remembered it was Fenway Park so I figured I’d get over it.
We walked around the rest of the park and took a few pictures and were just happy to be there. When we made our way back towards our seats, we noticed one of the field box sections was particularly empty. I never imagined seat hopping would be a possibility at Fenway Park, but nevertheless we planted ourselves in two aisle seats about ten rows up from the field and just waited until the seat’s rightful owners claimed them. I think baseball fans should have squatter’s rights after three innings, but the high rollers who actually pay for their premium seats wouldn’t be too happy if that were the case.
The stadium as a whole filled up by game time, yet our new section remained mostly empty. Our aisle seats were in a completely empty row, and two rows in front of us were vacant as well. So even if our seats’ owners were to come, we had other options. In addition, ushers behind us were not checking tickets as they likely assumed anyone entering the seats had the correct documentation because it was so crowded. In the third or fourth inning, some folks finally arrived with seats in our row, but still not ours. A little while later we moved down to a different empty row just for some more comfort. We were not questioned once throughout the night and successfully pretended we were the rich chaps who were supposed to be sitting down by the field. As it turns out, the section we were in retails for about $150 per seat!
The game itself was exciting. David Ortiz hit a fifth inning home run to put the Red Sox up 3-0. Both teams scored twice in the sixth to make the game 5-2. In the top of the seventh, the Indians had one on and one out when Michael Bourn launched a deep fly to center field. It looked like a sure extra base hit. But Jackie Bradley Jr. tracked it down and made a running catch on the warning track before he turned and fired a one-hopper to first to double off the runner and end the inning. Boston won 5-2.
Fenway Park. Pictures say 1,000 words and I cannot write anything to adequately describe the majesty of the stadium anyway. So if you haven’t already, make sure you check out my photo post of the game.
Originally posted on On Cloud Conine:
Sunday night, the latest National League All-Star Voting Update was released and we were shocked (shocked!) to see Giancarlo Stanton was ranked 4th among all National League Outfielders.
If the 2014 All-Star Game was played today, Stanton would not be a starter.
In the words of famous Seinfeld attorney, Jackie Chiles, we think those voting results are outrageous, egregious, preposterous!
The good news? There’s still one week to right this wrong and make Giancarlo a starter.
Here are 10 reasons Giancarlo Stanton MUST start the All-Star Game:
10 - Here’s an easy one: Giancarlo leads the entire National League in Home Runs (20) and RBI (58)
9 - No one, and we mean no one, hits home runs like this guy:
8 - So far in 2014, he’s already set a career high for stolen bases!
#StantonSmash #StantonDash ??
7 - He’s way more than just a monster home run hitter:
6 - Giancarlo’s…
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A while back, my friend Andre suggested that we take a baseball road trip. As someone that only plans trips around baseball schedules, I’m always up for a baseball-centered getaway. After some planning and conspiring, we decided that it would be easiest to just take a short trip up to Boston to see a game at Fenway Park. Neither of us had ever been to Boston, so it was quite the experience. Here are the best pictures from Thursday night’s game:
I’ll post a full writeup soon.
A year ago today, the Marlins had a winning percentage below .300 and were 19.5 games out of first place in the NL East. They were a shell of a team. On their way to a 100-loss season, Miami’s roster consisted of one bat, Giancarlo Stanton, who was crippled by opposing pitching that didn’t mind throwing ball after ball to the slugger in order to stagnate any of Miami’s offensive potential. Something had to be done.
Fast forward 12 months and the Marlins are just half a game out of first place in the division. Stanton is batting 50 points higher than he did in 2013, and is pacing the National League in home runs and RBI. Yes, he is the engine that powers this offense. And yes, he is a smarter hitter than he’s ever been before. But no, his success is not the difference between last year and this. The offseason additions of Garrett Jones and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have not been stellar by any means. And while Miami’s young rotation is clicking on all cylinders right now, they have had their fair share of inconsistencies over the season. So why the success?
Enter, Casey McGehee.
At the end of the 2012 season, McGehee was on a downfall. His average was dipping into the .220 range and hadn’t had a significant role since 2010. He decided to sign a one-year deal in Japan with the Ratuken Golden Eagles. There, he learned to make something out of nothing. In a city recovering from the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 2011, McGehee led the Golden Eagles to their first ever Japan Series title in an emotional effort that has been likened to the Saints winning the Super Bowl in a post-Katrina New Orleans. He rediscovered his swing while experiencing the thrill of a championship season.
Then he signed a one-year deal with Miami to fill a hole at third base. And it’s been McGehee’s bat that has made all the difference.
Leading all National League third baseman in RBI, McGehee’s mere presence in the batting order has opened all sorts of doors for Miami’s offense. From day one he was picking up the slack in the lineup by driving in four runs in the premier win against Colorado. He hit .450 in his first week of the season and collected 10 RBI in his first 5 games.
With Christian Yelich now producing at the top of the batting order, pitchers can no longer afford to walk Stanton who now bats in front of McGehee. Therefore, Stanton’s numbers skyrocketed when he started seeing more pitches to hit. His 17 home runs thus far are just 7 shy of his total for all of last season, and until just recently he was hitting above .310. His current .300 average is still impressive, especially for a guy who has hit more 450-foot home runs than any team in Major League Baseball.
But without Casey McGehee’s protection, Stanton would not have the privilege of seeing a significant amount of strikes thrown his way. Because of his ability to hit both lefties and righties to all fields, McGehee is a serious threat with runners on base. While Garrett Jones may be able to provide similar support, he is a classic lefty-pull hitter and is much easier to pitch around as he has little pop to the opposite field. And since Saltalamacchia is having a down year offensively, McGehee is the only stronghold in the heart of the order that can consistently give Stanton the support he needs.
McGehee’s 39 RBI this season are even more impressive given the fact that he has only hit one home run. The most feared one-tater-hitter in the game, his spray chart (right) explains his run-producing ability. Pitchers should fear any hitter who has power to all fields, but especially one who spray lines drives with runners on base. And given that Yelich and Stanton are often aboard in front of him, it’s no wonder that McGehee has been such a machine for the Fish. This has been their formula for offensive success.
Miami has long had solid pitching, and they certainly would not have 34 wins at this point if their rotation were sub-par. But last year, the Marlins often lost games by scores of 2-0 and 3-2. They were shut out NINE times in the first two months. This year, they’re scoring more runs on a nightly basis and have only been shut out twice over the same span.
Another year of experience for the young arms of this team has certainly worked wonders. But the difference has been in the offense, which is driven by Giancarlo Stanton, who has been allowed to operate by the presence of Casey McGehee.