Archive for the baseball Category

California Trip

Posted in baseball, library stuff, rambling on 3 July 08 by mikevc

I spent the most of the last week in Anaheim, CA for the big annual library conference. The conference was a lot of fun. I attended some excellent sessions and made some important contacts with colleagues and vendors. My favorite program was one featuring Dan Ariely, the author of Predictably Irrational, a fascinating book that looks at why people make seemingly irrational choices over and over again.

In addition to the conference I did manage to get in some side activities. I did not go to Disneyland but did make it to Downtown Disney, where I bought some Pirates of the Caribbean stuff for Tobe and Jonah. That was enough Disney for me. My brief Disney experience did convince me that the boys would love the whole thing and am finally thinking–against my better judgment–that we will plan a trip to either Disneyworld or -land in the next couple of years.

Most importantly, I was able to add two more MLB stadiums to my list as I work to attend a game in all the stadiums. On Friday night, I drove into LA to watch the Dodgers. It took me 2.5 hours to go roughly 30 minutes. I was very impressed with the stadium; Chavez Ravine is the perfect place for a stadium. I also realized it was the oldest stadium I had ever been to a game in. It was cool to think of all the players who had played there. I was less impressed with the experience. It might have been that the Dodgers were playing the Angels but it was a decidedly different experience for me from any game I have attended in the past. There must have been 30 or 40 fights throughout the course of the game. There was either a guard or LAPD in practically every section and I must have seen at least 50 people escorted from the game. The majority of the audience seemed to have no interest in the game. They were more interested in hitting beach balls in the air (and at each other) and screaming obscenities at anyone wearing Angels gear. They seemed oblivious to the fact that an actual game–featuring the team they were ostensibly cheering for–was taking place in front of them. And, all this, while the Dodgers played a great game and were in control from the beginning. I was sitting by three groups, all of whom left the game early for fear of their own safety.

The game I went to at Angels Stadium was a completely different experience. It is clear the franchise works hard to make games a family event, which is not how I would describe an outing to a Dodgers game. They have family values in their shops where folks can purchase hats for $7 and t-shirts for $10, which are unheard of prices in my experience-even for souvenirs from a minor league game. On top of this, there are family sections where no one can drink alcohol. Also, the exact same hot dog I paid $6 for at Dodgers Stadium was only $3 at Angels Stadium. The Angels were playing the Athletics, which though not geographically as proximate as the Angels-Dodgers rivalry should be even more heated when you consider the Angels and As are currently fighting for the top spot in the AL West. There were a few minor jeers at the many folks in green and yellow but nothing that seemed as dangerous or truly hate-filled as what I saw in LA. The game itself was not particularly spectacular but–as with all games–enjoyable nonetheless as the Angels fell to the A’s with a score of 1-6.

Overall, my trip to CA was a lot of fun but I really missed my family. I could never have a job that involved constant travel. I am glad to be home and out of the land of the palm tree and Carl’s, Jr.

Astros Fun

Posted in baseball, boys, family on 20 April 08 by mikevc

I have not written much the past few weeks. Busy, busy, busy with the opening of the new Cenral Library (under 40 days left). I have been having a lot of fun at Minute Maid with various family members. Toby and I went to a Tuesday $2 game last week. Toby was quite good at screaming “Go Astros” and “Lose Cardinals!”. After the first two innings we spent most of the time in the SqueezePlay playground. He slept through the final three innings. Cardinal 5, Astros 3.

Last Saturday, I was given tickets from a co-worker with season tickets who could not make it out. So, Letitia and I went sans kids. It was quite fun and we had great seats. I think I can convert L. to a fan if I bring her to more games with just the two of us. Marlins 0, Astros 5.

Today, we used the kids discount coupons from being members of the Astros Buddies Club. We cleaned up on “stuff”, ironic when you consider how hard we are working to get rid of the “stuff” that is overtaking our small house. We all got free caps, Jonah and T. both got another free cap and a hamper for joining the Buddies Club. Jonah waited in line and got a Lemonade Day backpack and–as part of signing up–got to get one item autographed by Jeff Bagwell. We got a mini-bat for Jonah. You can see him with Bagwell here. This picture was taken just as Jonah is telling him where he should sign the bat. I am afraid that all of the good work that was done in getting L. to become a fan was undone at this game because of the crowd’s (and her husband’s?) reaction (I think the phrase “mob-like” was used) to a terrible call (everyone in the stadium knew Spilborghs dropped the ball and Spilborghs knew he dropped the ball; we were in the bleachers and saw it clearly; judge for yourself in the video).

Anyway, I have been having a lot of fun at some entertaining and competitive games despite the Astros dismal–as usual–early season standings.

PLA, Minneapolis, and Back

Posted in baseball, rambling, Uncategorized on 7 April 08 by mikevc

I have not posted in quite a while. I am not sure why. I was in Minneapolis at the Public Library Association annual conference for much of the time. It was fun as conferences usually are. I was a little disappointed in the sessions I opted to attend and just didn’t seem to have enough time hanging out in the exhibit hall. Much of this had to do with the hotel I was staying in. It was in the middle of nowhere, which meant severely limited mobility. Although it did have a shuttle to the conference, it was far from dependable. I think I spent more time waiting for that damn bus than I did at the conference. Not only that but I couldn;’t really explore the city like I usually do at conferences since I either had to return to the hotel on the shuttle’s early schedule or pay for numerous costly cab rides. And, once at the hotel, the only places within walking distance were a Wendy’s and a gas station. This is the last time I try to save cash on a hotel during a conference by using Priceline.

I did get to experience some serious snow, the like of which I haven’t seen in fifteen years or so. I stuck around a few days after the conference for the express purpose of crossing another stadium off of my life’s goal to see a game in every team’s stadium. It was very strange for me to be attending a baseball game in the midst of a snowstorm. The game was fine since it was in the Metrodome, which has to rate as the worst stadium for baseball I have ever been in. Luckily, the Twins are only two seasons away from a new stadium. I did enjoy the game and the excitement of Opening Day.
I also took in a Timberwolves game at the Target Center. I don’t know why it is but I just can’t get excited about basketball like I used to be able to when in my teens and twenties. I was bored out of my mind and found myself pulling out the silly but portable (I miss the pocket paperback) James Patterson paperback–one of several free books I nabbed at PLA (one of the best aspects of library conferences)–I had shoved in my pocket when leaving the hotel and needing something to pass the time while waiting for busses, cabs, and trains. I seriously debated leaving before the game was over. Oh well, as I said, the excitement of Opening Day the next night did make me quite happy.

The truth is the trip was too long at a week. I know it sounds corny but I really missed my family; I missed the boys coming in to wake me up; I missed having my wife to talk to; I also–surprisingly–missed strumming my ukulele, which has become the best and most soothing way of unwinding from the day I have found.

So, having said all that, I am more than happy to be back home to my job, family, and uke.

Ten Days and Counting

Posted in Astros, baseball, travel on 21 March 08 by mikevc

mlb.jpgIt’s almost here. Opening Day is a short week and a few days away. Though my beloved Astros (or a group of players wearing Astros’ uniforms) start this season away from home, things work out quote well for me. I will be at a library conference when the season begins and would have missed game one were it at Minute Maid. So, I will behouston_astros2.jpg ringing in the season in Minneapolis at the Metrodome as the Twins take on the Angels. And, I will be back from my sojourn north in time to see the ‘Stros take on the Cards in their first 2007 home game on April 7. I couldn’t be more excited.

My First Baseball Weekend in ’08? Almost

Posted in Astros, baseball, family, illness on 3 March 08 by mikevc

I have been looking forward to this weekend for quite a while. This weekend was to be the first weekend of that most wonderful time of the year: baseball season. Now, I know that the pros don’t actually get underway until the end of the month, but last week was the start of spring training games and this weekend was the always fun College Classic at Minute Maid Park, including my alma mater (UT Longhorns) and my childhood favorites/school I wish I had gone to (Rice Owls). This is a 3 day event w/ 3 games each day. My plan was to catch five games: all the games the Owls and UT played, especially the Saturday night game when they played each other. Well, fate had other plans.

On Thursday (actually Wednesday night), I was hit with the flu. I left work early on Thursday and haven’t been back. The really sad thing is I took Friday off to catch some baseball and then take my wife out to dinner for her birthday. Needless to say, none of this happened. Not only was I sick but I had one kid recovering from and one just coming down with the flu. Friday and Saturday were both complete washes. I was miserable both days. But there is some good news:

For the wife: Even though we haven’t gone to her birthday dinner at Cafe Montrose yet, her friends did manage to finagle (btw, in a completely unrelated comment other than the word “finagle” made me think of it, I love the name Finagle-a-Bagel, which was a bagel shop all over Boston) her some tickets for the Livestock Show and Rodeo Annual BBQ Cookoff, which she has been wanting to go to for the past ten years. It sounds like she had fun but the inevitable happened. As the only one of the four in our house who had been free of the illness, she returned from the event sniffling and miserably ill.

For me: I did make it to the College Classic today. My wonderful wife allowed me to go even though she was sick and the boys seemed to recover. I had hoped to catch the Rice-Texas Tech game and the UT-UHouston game. I made it through the first one before I realized I wasn’t fully recovered yet. Exhausted, I headed home after one game. On the bright side, the Owls won all their games and I got a parking space on Texas Avenue right outside the park.

One last plea to the folks at Minute Maid or Drayton McLain or someone: Next year please keep the Astros FanFest and the College Classic on the same weekend. It just feels like more of an event that way and allows us ‘Stros fans to get into that baseball mode early in the year. I really don’t like that they separated the two this year. Plus, I am going to be in Minneapolis when the FanFest is held this year. I shouldn’t complain I will get to spend Opening Day with the Twins and Angels: my first AL Opening Day.

Library Conferences Bring Out My Inner Nerd

Posted in baseball, library stuff on 6 February 08 by mikevc

logo.jpgI absolutely love going to library conferences. This year I will be attending the big one: the PLA (Public Library Association) National Conference in Minneapolis. This is only held every two years and is one that I have never been to before. Everything I have heard about PLA is that it is the best conference for what I do as a public librarian. I cannot wait.

One of my favorite things to do pre-conference is to sit down with the conference guide and plot out the sessions I want to attend. This holds the same excitement for me as did going to the bookstore in college a few days before the semester started and buying my books. Somehow, the books allowed me a glimpse into what the semester held; I can even remember a few times when I had to make myself not start a book I found particularly interesting. Similarly, the program descriptions get me excited about the programs themselves. While I know this cements my already pretty solid status as a real dork, I thought I would share my nerdish excitement.

twins7.gifIf that weren’t enough to verify my nerd status, there is more to this on the baseball geek front. As luck would have it, I am able to stay one extra night and take in opening night for the Minnesota Twins at the Metrodome. While the Twins are not my favorite baseball team, this is big because it is one more stadium I can cross off in my goal to see all the MLB teams in their home stadium.

Why I Love the Superbowl

Posted in baseball, rambling on 3 February 08 by mikevc
  1. Football season–and conversations about, radio/TV/Internet coverage of, etc. football–is over
  2. Quick access to a table at non-TV equipped restaurants
  3. Three words (sort of): Bucket o’ McNuggets (although I am forbidden from ever purchasing this delicacy)
  4. And most important: MLB season is only two months away

Extremely Productive Weekend and Plans for More in the Future

Posted in baseball, bluegrass, goals, music on 22 January 08 by mikevc

This past weekend I had a three day weekend off from work. Jonah and I had plans to join his Tiger Scout group camping at Brazos Bend State Park with the gators. However, rain and 28 degree nighttime lows helped us rethink that. So, with three days in front of me what did I get accomplished. Rather a lot I think. Here is my list:

  1. Finally got the mandolin chord “chop” down to a point where I can comfortably play along with most bluegrass songs.
  2. Finished two good books on the state of the Democratic Party and how to fix it.
  3. Made plans for attending College Classic at Minute Maid Park.
  4. Most importantly, finished Super Mario Galaxy, which for my money is the best Mario game yet.

So, I notice this list is slightly self-centered. I am setting myself a goal that for every day I have off from here on out, I accomplish at least two things that benefit others (specifically, my family) and not just me (although Jonah and Toby did love playing SGM I am exempting video game from this).


Posted in baseball on 15 October 07 by mikevc

How ’bout those Rockies?  If they hold on to their lead (6th Inning as I write), they will be the first team to sweep their Division Series and League Championship Series since the introduction of the DS in ’95, have won a statistically improbable 21 of their past 22 games, and be the biggest boon for broom merchants in Denver in years.

All I know is that with this kind of momentum it almost feels like it doesn’t really matter whether its the Red Sox or the Indians. This team has got me excited about a postseason that I thought I had little to cheer for after the elimination of the ‘Stros and the Phils.


Adios, Yankees!!

Posted in baseball on 9 October 07 by mikevc

I was overjoyed to see the Indians defeat the Yankees tonight. However, knowing that it isjesus.jpg most likely Joe Torre’s last season with the Yanks made it a little bit sad…Nah, it was glorious. Even when the Astros or Phillies fall short, it is always somehow heartwarming to me to know it isn’t going to be the Yankees. I really like the image from a T-shirt on the right that Otrops suggested I wear on my trip to Yankee stadium in 2008–in good and respectful fun, of course.

So, with the two teams I was pulling for both swept unceremoniously away (Phillies and Cubs), I am left rooting for the sensational Rockies in the NL and the relative (meaning my relatives from the Cleveland area) favorite Indians in the AL. If they meet in the Series, I think I will have to go with the relatives and cheer for the Tribe to win their first since ’48. They had better do the same for me the next time the Astros make it (in 40 or so more years).