Buy me some peanuts and crack’er jack!

  • No Comments

It is well documented that I am a HUGE fan of baseball. I am also a huge San Francisco Giants baseball fan.

Pick up any sports page in the past few years and you will know that my poor Giants have fallen on hard times. The once mighty team is barely a squeak on the baseball radar.

It’s tough. The big boys are off to a rousing 3-6 start. Starting off the season at the bottom of the standings, cellar dwelling has become the standard. That’s where they finished up last year.

I used to go to a lot of games with a good friend of mine. She had season seats up at SBC Park and it was a lot of fun. We have bombed out on CalTrain into the summer night to watch our team plenty of times. Hell, I even wrote a book about it.

A year ago, my friend gave up her season seats at the big club. Health issues and rising seat costs along with baseball depression at the hands of a struggling team forced her decision.

She invested that year in season seats for the Single A affiliate, San Jose Giants. It’s a little cheaper and a lot closer to home.

She is also a “host family” for a player. This is her third year being “mom” to a young player who makes max about $10k a year and needs a rent free place to stay for the season. It makes her happy. She gets to cluck over a twenty something kid, he gets to eat well and they both get to talk baseball with someone who really understands.

This year my friend approached me about her “grand plan” to buy up a whole row of seats in the section she likes at Muni Stadium. It is only five seats, but she began recruiting friends to pitch in on the seats in exchange for access to games. It makes her most happy to go to games surrounded by friends and family. So she did such good a sell job, I wrote her a check.

Tonight The Good Man and I get to go to the game as “season ticket holders” along with my good friend and bunch of other fun folks.

There is a whole different vibe in Single A ball. The players are young and hungry. They play for meal money and not much more. They *want* it. Humility is high. There are audience games between innings. The beers are only $3. Half price when the designated “beer batter” on the opposing team strikes out.

Tonight is the home opener for the San Jose Giants, last year’s California League Champions.

Oh, did I mention they are 5-2 so far?

Yeah. Things are looking good in the minor league.

Photo by Karen Fayeth

Oh the beauty of the retail high…

  • No Comments

About two weeks ago, I detailed my impatience in this post about how long it was taking to receive a brand new product I had procured, but the retailer seemed to mishandle my order.

After two phone calls. One nice, one in which I used the words “upset”, “angry” and “very frustrated” liberally, I finally got my package.

But true to Murphy’s Law, the ding-dang thing arrived when I was out of town.

That being said, it finally arrived. And it’s GORGEOUS!

What I ordered was a Sony CyberShot T200 in luscious red.

I have an old CyberShot that I have used and loved greatly for about five years. For a point and shoot, it takes really great photos. I have pushed the bounds of that little camera and it has stood up to the test. But it’s starting to show its age. I actually carry it with me every day and it’s great for that “just can’t miss” photo op. But the battery will only charge to about “23 minutes” which isn’t much, really, for a camera. I replaced the battery, but it didn’t help.

So this red beast is the new kid on the block. The coolest aspect? The gorgeous screen on the back. Not only is it glorious to look at, the camera is all touch screen controlled via this screen, and is surprisingly intuitive to use.

I only just got the battery charged and into the camera yesterday, so I haven’t taken but a few photos, but I already really love it. It’s an 8.1 megapixel (whoa!) and I bought a 4 gig memory stick for shockingly cheap on Amazon. This little camera won some awards for it’s design and I can see why. Tonight I get to play with it a bit as we are going to the Fan Fest for the San Jose Giants. I’ll share if anything comes out looking good.

New toy! New toy!!

It’s going away, isn’t it?

  • No Comments

My friend. My companion. That comfort at the end of a long day’s work, driving home, watching the sun go down, laughing, cheering, listening. It’s leaving me again, just as the world turns cold. It always leaves me just when the sun starts setting sooner, when the chill rolls in, when the leaves turn. Just when I need it the most, it’s gone.

My old friend and joy, baseball, is leaving me again this weekend.

The San Francisco Giants played their last home game of 2007 last night, made all the more bittersweet as, after fifteen crazy years, it was the last game Barry Bonds will play in a Giants uniform.

It was year of agony and ecstasy.

Ecstasy: The San Jose Giants, the Minor League Single A affiliate, and a group of young ‘uns near and dear to my heart performed a miracle. Coming on strong in the first half and falling off hard in the second half, they still earned their way into the playoffs and prevailed. They are the 2007 California League Champions. They played an amazing post season and just brutalized Lake Elsinore in game 5, the deciding game. I get goose bumps just thinking about it. This was a hard working team of guys who learned how to win, and a tip of the cap to manager Lenn Sakata for taking yet another team to the post season.

Agony: Their big brothers to the North, however, didn’t fare so well. With three games left, they’ve lost 89 games and are a gut-turning 18.5 games out of first place.

This was the season that Bonds broke the all-time homerun record, walloping 756 over the walls and into the history books. But all the media glare, both positive and negative, had an impact on the other 24 guys on the roster. Starting pitching was ok (I won’t “go there” about the pitiful year Barry Zito had…I just…can’t…), the bullpen was ridiculous and hitting was lame. They went up there with sad and tired bats. And our star catcher bitched about it to the press.

It was not a glorious year. It’s the latest in all the depressing seasons we’ve endured after the joys (and pain) of the 2002 World Series.

Ownership says 2008 is a “rebuilding” year. That means some young kids, some no names, and no hope of a post season for at least a couple more years.

But even in the agony of this terrible season, it was there. Baseball was on the radio every night, 162 games a year. The bases were still 90 feet apart and it was still 60 feet, six inches from mound to plate. The Umps still missed calls, players were plunked, miracles were performed and for me, all was all right with the world.

I had a day yesterday for the record books, and as I drove home, looking into the setting sun, sad, mad, exhausted, apathetic, beat down, and depressed as hell, I reached out and touched the “power” button on my radio, and suddenly Jon Miller’s voice boomed out from my radio speakers, “a called strike one!” and I left behind my troubles. My sorrow. My bone wearying exhaustion and I listened to the game. Smiling at strikes, frowning at balls and batting my hand on the steering wheel when the boys in orange and black got a hit and cheering loudly in my car.

I don’t give a rip about any of the teams in the post-season, although I may watch a few games. It’s not the same when it isn’t your team fighting it out.

*sigh* Now what? My baseball friend becomes a hockey fan in the off-season. I like hockey, but not with that fever reserved for baseball.

Guess instead, it’s time to start thinking about what in the hell I’m going to write 50,000 words about for the annual NaNoWriMo.

Heh…three years ago I wrote a baseball book……

Blast from the past

  • No Comments

I’ve made it no secret here in these pages that I am a rabid baseball fan. I believe I’ve spoken most frequently of the San Francisco Giants. But I actually have another love. A first love. The one that wooed my heart for the very first time.

But that…in a minute….

I also have another love (a second love, I suppose) here in the Bay Area. In fact, this one came to me soon after I moved here. Before I’d even starting going to the “big boy’s” club.

I had occasion last night to take in a last day of August game with the San Jose Giants. They are the single A farm team for the big boy Giants and are a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

When I moved here in 1997, I worked for a rough and tumble company and supported a team of folks who worked really hard doing very dangerous work. As such, it made them a tight knit group. I had the privilege of helping them in their work, and they took me on as “one of the family”, and that family loved to have group outings. So not long after I’d been living here, they invited me out to the ballpark. I was already a huge fan of baseball so I happily agreed.

What greeted me at San Jose Municipal Stadium was unlike anything I’d ever seen. Built in the early 1940’s as a WPA project, Muni had this amazing old school, Minor League charm characterized in movies like Bull Durham. Only better.

Muni comes with something called Turkey Mike’s BBQ. A glorious bbq area with picnic tables and ribs to make you weep. It was the *best* food I’d ever enjoyed at a ballpark (to this day, still is), and we, a large group of congenial coworkers, sat at long tables and ate, got sauce on our cheeks and enjoyed the sun.

As the game got underway, with events, contests and fun at each half inning (the “Smash for Cash” still reigns supreme in my mind. An old panel truck careens out to the field, stops, and three of the San Jose pitchers compete on behalf of three fans. They throw baseballs at the truck and if they smash out a headlight, the lucky fan takes home $100), I was overcome with a sense of melancholy. A memory. A flicker of remembrance of my first love. And being that I had just moved here, the memory was powerful and the homesick overwhelming.

Needing to stretch my legs, I walked down “in the tunnel” to use the restroom and get something to drink. I strolled around taking in this new-to-me stadium.

And as if by kismet, I saw it. This old stadium, like many others, honors it’s competition by displaying pennants representing each of the opposing teams in their same league. It is a pretty common practice. This stadium had them painted onto the walls, sort of a “walk of fame” as you go through the tunnels. And when I saw it, I had to weep. Literally, tears squeezed out and I stared, agog. It was a reminder, a sign, a connection.

I was a scared to death kid in the big town, just barely moved in, but fate saw fit to give me a moment of comfort, as if to say “it’s ok kid, you can still be a New Mexico girl in California. No need to become something else. It all fits together, wait, you’ll see.”

And having been to Muni hundreds of times since that first time, now over ten years ago, I still always stop, give thanks, and physically lay hands on that symbol, for luck, for solidarity, for a connection to that girl I was ten years ago. That piece of comfort still brings me comfort.

Last night I decided to take a photo:

Seeing it that first time made me all the more sad because The Dukes had already left Albuquerque, moved to Portland, leaving my fair city with no baseball team. I yearned for them when I first saw this reminder, knowing the Dukes were no more, but remembering them as my first love. The one that mattered. I remembered the crappy Albuquerque Sports Stadium where they played, but that was assuaged by dollar beers and dollar hot dogs. I remembered sitting in the afternoon sun watching the game. For a brief while on a co-op job from college, I worked downtown, and it was easy to jet out from work at the end of the day and take in an evening game.

In their time, The Dukes were good. Really good. I was always troubled that they were a farm team for the Dodgers (no, I will not give The Bums any linklove from my blog!) but was able to look past that. I was even able to look past the fact that the odious Tommy Lasorda once managed my beloved team, but that was well before my time, so I could try to forget….

So The Dukes may be gone, replaced in 2003 with the Isotopes (yes, I proudly wear a ‘Topes shirt around here, though have not yet had the pleasure of taking in an actual ‘Topes game), but the San Jose Giants make a nice replacement in my heart.

And that link is still there, that tie, that very symbol, to me, of the blending of my Albuquerque roots and my Bay Area branches. That Dukes pennant with the smiling Duke of Albuquerque is still there on the wall for me to see, touch and remember every time I’m at the Muni. And that gives me esperanza.

Remember the old radio ads? “The Dukes are coming up…coming up swinging”?? It still rings in my head.