Mini Giants

I quickly snapped this photo at the Giants’ spring training opener last week as I was leaving in the 9th inning. I didn’t realize until I looked at the picture later that the little Brian Wilson fan has the mohawk and The Beard going and the tiny Tim Lincecum fan has Timmy’s flowing, long locks going. Too cute.

 

My tale of baseball woe

As San Francisco Giants pitcher Jonathan Sanchez tossed the team’s first no-hitter in 34 years, and 30,000 fans at AT&T Park screamed in ecstasy, I sat in a Palo Alto parking lot, listening to history on the car radio with mixed emotions. I was happy, but also distraught. That’s because five hours earlier, I had given away my tickets to the game.

Photo by artolog (www.flickr.com/photos/artolog)

The team mobs Sanchez after the final out. Photo by artolog. (www.flickr.com/photos/artolog)

That week in July, I had driven 800 miles from Arizona to California. And twice that week, I had already driven the 50 miles from San Jose to San Francisco to catch two games. So when Friday rolled around, after all that previous driving that week, I just couldn’t stomach driving up to the city again for a third game — and to see a guy with a 5.30 ERA to boot.

So my brother found a friend to take the tickets off my hands. And when he did, I actually joked, “What’s Sanchez going to do? Throw a no-hitter?” And then I said: “Watch him give up 4 runs in the first, and I’ll be glad I didn’t make the drive up.”

That evening, I stayed in the San Jose area. My wife dragged me to a tech party, and every half an hour, I “watched” the game with MLB.com’s real-time pitch-by-pitch application on my BlackBerry. When Sanchez tossed three no-hit innings, I texted my brother, half-joking that Sanchez was throwing a no-hitter. Then the 6th inning, seventh inning and eighth inning came, and still no hits. By that time, I had stopped being social at the party, and just stared at my BlackBerry. Thank goodness I had a drink in my hands. (more…)

Book pimpage

Three weeks ago, my brother emailed me the same message he always sends when he’s in a book store. “Hey, I was just at Borders,” he wrote. “Just gave your book bigger play!”

That means rearranging the baseball section of the bookcase, where he grabs copies of my Giants book, pushes the others out of the way, and then puts mine back in with the front cover facing forward. Then he takes a picture of his handiwork with his BlackBerry and emails it over to me.

Just this past week, I learned that my cousin Clarence does the same thing when he’s at a Sacramento Barnes and Noble near his workplace.

I love my family. They go to the book store, buy whatever it is they’re looking for – the latest bestseller, a magazine, maybe a cup of joe – then they go and see if my book is in stock, and if it is, they give it some love.

The problem with this redecorating is that you can get caught doing it. That was the case two Decembers ago when Little M was in a San Jose Barnes and Noble, where the book was actually on the aisle tables at the front of the store. Prime real estate, yes, but apparently not prime enough for Little M because she impulsively began to move my book from the back of the table to the front. And as she was doing so, an employee – who was right to be alarmed – asked what in the world did she think she was doing?

“My dad wrote this book and I just wanted more people to be able to see it,” she told the employee.

Amazingly enough, the employee accepted that answer and let her do her thing.

This is guerrilla marketing at its best.

The hardcover came out in 2005. And the paperback, which was slightly updated, came out in 2007. I’m just happy the book has had such a long shelf life.

November baseball

One of the treats of living in Arizona is near year-round baseball. Here’s the Giants’ Kevin Frandsen getting a hit off the Yankees’ Phil Hughes in a mid-November Arizona Fall League game in Scottsdale. I shot this half-minute video with my tiny digital camera, assuming Frandsen would do something good with his at-bat, and he did!

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Os0HnEaOt9o

Crying foul

I should have taken my own advice. On my family’s Web site where we sell our Giants’ season tickets, I had written this to entice people to buy baseball tickets from us: “Bring a mitt. Foul balls come our way.”

Last Wednesday, sure enough, a foul ball came my way. A line drive, hit hard, screamed toward me from several hundred feet away like a heat-seeking missile. My initial thought was: holy sh–. It’s coming my way!

So I stood.

And in those three or four seconds, I had these frenzied thoughts:

I can catch it!

Wait, it’s going to hurt!

But I can catch it!

The ball was above me. I knew I had to reach high above my head and jump a little for the ball to hit square on my palms. Should I reach out and touch someone, or in this case, something? I was at AT&T Park, after all. But did I really want to hurt my hand, maybe break it, for a stupid foul ball? (more…)

Is it spring yet?

I hate this time of year, and I’m not talking about the weather. It’s been nearly three months since the World Series and another two months before the 2008 baseball season starts. I’ve been jonesin’ for baseball big time, so what do I do? Go nuts the last few weeks, buying tickets to six spring training games as teams in the Cactus League open up ticket sales to the public.

About ten years ago, when I flew into Arizona for ballgames in March, I loved lying in the grass beyond the outfield fences and stretching out. But now I’ve become a snob and like to get as close to home plate as possible. And that’s why I love the Milwaukee Brewers. Their fans seemingly never go to their games, so you can always get seats right behind home plate. (Score!)

Two years ago, during the World Baseball Classic, when Team Japan played a practice night game against the Brewers, my brother and I just strolled into the ballpark, bought tickets, and were three rows behind home plate. We were so close to Ichiro on the on-deck circle that we could hear the velcro rip as he put on and adjusted his elbow pad.

Off the field, this offseason provided us another round of mindnumbing steroids news — Barry heading to court, the Mitchell Report, the Congressional hearing and the Clemens saga. We get it. Steroids is bad. Yes, the last 20 years of baseball statistics are a joke. But the sport has tried to clean up its act and instituted stringent testing three years ago, so let’s move on people.

Major League Baseball’s Web site has a countdown to Feb. 14, the day pitchers and catchers report to spring training. As I write this, it’s 18 days, 21 hours, 28 minutes and 2 seconds.

Play ball, already, dammit.

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