Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ballad Of A Sad Fan

"Something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mr Jones?"
-Bob Dylan,

Greetings! I'm back from my whirlwind trip through the Midwest, going from the minor metropolis of Chicago to the barren beauty of Montana and the Dakotas. I'm just thankful, very thankful, that I didn't visit during the winter. I've been told it gets a little chilly.

But, more importantly, I'm now over the halfway point, having visited 16 of the 30 standing ballparks. Of course, next year I'll be back down to 14 when they tear down Yankee Stadium and Shea, but that just gives me an excuse to go back to New York. I still haven't been to the Museum of Modern Art or the Brooklyn Botanical Garden or, shame of shames, eaten a slice of pizza in the Big Apple. My first visit to New York, I ate at TGI Friday's in Times Square (there is something of an excuse for this, but it's a long story and it's too late to type). Not the most cultured of people but I'm getting there.

But, back to the ballparks. I didn't get to see the Red Sox win (they lost to the White Sox, as Buerhle threw a gem while Lester had some bad breaks) but I did get to see the next best thing: a Yankee loss.

Yes, the Yankees, the pinstriped pretenders, fell further into the cellar (did you know that J.R.R. Tolkien, a philologist of note aside from writing The Lord Of The Rings, said that the most beautiful phrase in English is "cellar door." That has nothing to do with baseball but I thought I'd mention it), being shutout by Glen Perkins and Joe Nathan. I was mildly disappointed that Perkins didn't get the chance to finish his shutout, but was pleasantly surprised by the turkey sandwich I bought behind section 132, which was excellent. Not just ballpark excellent, but excellent, period. Vendors sell food outside the Dome before the game, and patrons gather in front to eat, drink and be merry. Because the Twins were playing the Yankees, there was the usual collection of displaced New Yorkers and eager front-runners who don't know what a borough is, let alone which one houses Yankee Stadium. The kind who comment on how the Yankees won because they scored more "points" than the other team. You know the type. Here's a picture of one:

Note the "Got Rings?" t-shirt. Now, for those who don't know, this was a rather pathetic attempt at damage control after the disaster that was the 2004 ALCS. Translated, it reads "Sure, the Yankees choked away a three game lead in the postseason, something that had never happened in the one hundred year history of the playoffs. That they did it against their arch rival and lost the last two games at home only makes it worse. But, the Yankees have won 26 titles in those 100 years, twenty of which I wasn't even alive for, so, yeah."

I don't recall the exact wording, but that's basically it, with the little addendum, "It won't be 86 years before our next one!"

I was tempted, really tempted, to ask him if he was aware that 1) the Red Sox now had seven rings, so if you're going to bring that up you should at least have the right number and 2) it wasn't 86 years between the sixth and seventh? I was dissuaded from doing this by my sense of kindness and sympathy for such a poor, misinformed soul.

Plus, he was bigger than me.

But all seriousness aside, that the Yankee fans have resorted to such near-pathetic means of ripping into the Red Sox shows we've obviously gotten under their skin. I wonder if anyone is making a new edition of the shirt with seven rings? I hope not, that really would be pathetic.

To their credit, I didn't see any of those "Welcome To New York Johnny [Damon]" shirts, which promises on the back "Where titles come more often than every 86 years."

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Briefly, From Chicago

I'd been housesitting, and now I'm on vacation, in Chicago, where I'll be seeing the Cubs play the Pirates in approximately four hours.  Pics, hopefully, to come.  Also of my father's recent trip to Shea Stadium.  I didn't go, true, but he had the mental composure to not leave his disposable camera on the train.  We'll have to see, however, how they develop.

I'm here for Lollapalooza, which was at Grant Park, where it was hot and humid, overcrowded but surprisingly not overpriced (relatively speaking), and the sound system was shot to hell during the Black Keys' set.

Also, whoever thought Cat Power the ideal performer to play in a parking lot at four in the afternoon needs to actually listen to the records.  Honestly, surrounded by similarly sweating and smelly people who'd been there probably since noon and have drank way too much beer already is not my ideal concert going experience for music so austere.  You just can't mosh to "Lived In Bars."

The Raconteurs, on the other hand, were the perfect band to perform as the sun sunk into the skyline.  There first album wasn't what I hoped, though "Steady, As She Goes" is a great single, but they really got it together for Consolers Of The Lonely.  Anyone who wishes they made records like they used to ought to check it out.

A regional supergroup, White is easily the brightest star, and sucked every ounce of anticipation from the crowd.  Taking center stage, he played with his back to the audience until his vocal part came, at which point he turned around and unleashed that hellhound wail of his. You could feel the tension break across the crowd like an electric current.  It might read contrived and cliched, I was there and it was anything but.  Hell of a show.

Cubs on Sunday, White Sox on Friday, maybe Grahm's first baseball game, Red v. White.  We'll have to see how he behaves on game day.  If the schedule holds, it'll be Lester vs. Buehrle, a pair of 6-2 lefties.  I'll hopefully write some more about the matchup, but today, it's off to the cozy confines.