Monday, August 16, 2010

Beware of Giant Schnauzers and Rain Delays

So, let's see: The Yankees split the 2-game series in Texas, losing 4-3 to the Rangers on Tuesday night against a pitcher they'd never seen before, and then on Wednesday trailing Cliff Lee 6-1 and coming back to win 7-6. Then came 4 in Kansas City, and a split against the Royals: Winning 4-3 on Thursday, losing 4-3 on Friday, winning 8-3 on Saturday with A-Rod's 3 homers (hit so far that even John Sterling couldn't do "It is high! It is far! It is... caught at the wall!" -- 604 down, 159 to go), and losing yesterday 1-0 to yet another pitcher they'd never seen before, A.J. Burnett pitching well (good sign) but not enough hitting.

Yesterday was not a good day for me. Earlier, Arsenal opened the 2010-11 English Premier League season with an awful game at a supposedly weaker Liverpool, trailing 1-0 until a gift muff by 'Pool keeper Pepe Reina in the last minute of regulation salvaged a 1-1 draw and a road point.

Then came what could have been the highlight of the summer: The nieces' first live baseball game.

We took them to TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, New Jersey, to see the host Somerset Patriots take on their arch-rivals, the Newark Bears -- and since their Nana and Pop-Pop are both from Newark, and their Uncle Mike is originally from neighboring Bloomfield and was once turned down for a job by the Patriots, we were rooting for the Bears.

(The fact that my alma mater, East Brunswick High School, has Bears as a mascot -- and won the 2005 Middlesex County baseball tournament final at that very ballpark -- has nothing to do with it.)

But it rained much of the day, and they only got the top of the 1st inning in, and it was pouring through that inning, and they put the tarp back on. And my sister, the girls' mother, was really ticked off: She went to the ticket office, and they kept telling her that their radar said that the rain would pass in half an hour... and in another half an hour... and another half an hour...

Finally, after a 5:05 start, and a rain delay that began at 5:15, at 6:30 she'd had enough. She couldn't get refunds, but she did get us all exchanges, and we'll be going back on Sunday, August 29, 2 weeks later, when the Patriots play the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs -- not to be confused with the Lakewood BlueClaws, although a blueclaw is a crab, and the two teams' logos are remarkably similar.

Sparkee the Schnauzer -- the Patriots' mascot, who was patterned after Sparky Lyle, the thick-mustachioed former Yankee reliever who has managed the Patriots since their 1998 inception -- was on the concourse during the rain delay, signing autographs for fans, including on the T-shirts that were given away to the 1st 2,000 fans to arrive.

The girls recently turned 3. Mascots are usually a bit taller than the average person. And Sparkee isn't exactly cuddly. These things have been known to scare children.

Rachel was fine. My sister lifted her up, and she was able to get an autograph and give Sparkee a high-five, no trouble.

Ashley was another story. She was freaked out and a half by Sparkee, screaming and crying.

We tried Ashley first, Rachel second. After Sparkee signed Rachel's T-shirt, I tried to tell Ashley, "See? Sparkee's nice. He's a good dog. Good dog, Sparkee!" Ashley wasn't buying it at all.

Ashley was scared, Rachel wasn't. I would've bet the cost of the tickets that it would have been the other way around. It takes a lot to upset Ashley.

I told my sister that I didn't think the game would be resumed, that they were going to drag it out until they'd sold as many concessions as they would have in a regular 9-inning game, so that, after rainchecks, they would still get one game's worth of admissions, but they would get two games' worth of parking, food and souvenir revenue. She agreed, and so at 6:30 we got our exchanges and left.

Later last night, I found out that the game was resumed! And as soon as it was resumed, in the bottom of the 1st, a home run was hit by Josh Pressley (who ain't no king, in fact he ain't nothin' but a hound dog). The girls would have loved to have seen that. The Bears took the lead, but the Patriots scored 6 runs in the 6th inning, and won, 9-5. Two home runs were hit by Jeff Nettles, son of Sparky's former Yankee teammate Graig Nettles. (Like his father, Jeff plays 3rd base, wears Number 9, and has some power. Unlike his lefty father, Jeff bats righthanded.)

I hate the Patriots. I don't know who I'm going to root for on August 29. Maybe I'll just explain things that happen to the girls, and not take any interest in who wins.

Anyway, tonight the Yankees open a 4-game set at home against the Detroit Tigers. Either later today or tomorrow, I'll post the all-time team for the Detroit area. I've already got the choices made, now I just have to write the explanations.

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