Posted by: dodgrblu | September 12, 2014

Do You Want to Build an Ice Palace?

So, let me see if I have this right, how you came to be here on my long-neglected blog reading this post.

You’ve been to approximately eight Frozen-themed birthday parties so far this year. You’ve munched adorable string-cheese Olafs; you’ve wanted to build a snowman with marshmallows, pretzels, and a candy corn (but you probably couldn’t); and you’ve guzzled bottles of Melted Snowman and cups of Elsa’s Glacier Punch (at the parties of those lucky folks who found that elusive blue Hawaiian Punch).

And all those things are wonderful. Whimsical. Fun! The Internet is full of awesome ideas to apply the Frozen theme to your child’s birthday party.

But you want something more for your child’s party. Something different. Something EXTRAORDINARY. You have a vision of blowing your daughter’s mind by building her very own ice castle. And once you have this idea, you just can’t “Let It Go.”

How am I doing? Am I close?

When I came up with this idea, to build an ice castle for my daughter’s 7th birthday, I was certain somebody, somewhere must have attempted this crazy project. After all, everything has always been done before, usually by someone who clearly has far more time on their hands than I do. I was sure I would find incredibly detailed instructions on how to make an ice palace some way that didn’t involve a large block of ice and a chainsaw.

But you know what I found? NOTHING!

What I did find on the Internet was a reference to using water bottles to make ice sculptures. The principle was simple: freeze water in a water bottle, use a Blade of X-ActZero to slice open the bottles, dip the frozen bottles in water, and stick them together. Easy, right?

Well, if it was easy, everyone would do it for their parties.

It wasn’t easy, but I did it for mine. The results were pretty good. So, my nutty kindred spirits, I shall do my best to help you make this happen for your little princess’ special day.

Let me reiterate: it’s not as easy as it sounds, this “sticking ice to more ice.” Giant heavy bottle-shaped slabs of ice do not stick together easily. They slide all over the place. They’re slippery, and when they fall from your hands, they shatter on your floor, sending shards of ice everywhere. It’s not pretty. Based on my experience, I’ll tell you what did work for me, and you can take it from there.

Ready? Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Empty plastic bottles or other disposable plastic containers of various sizes WITH LIDS (my finished product used four larger bottles, a short bottle, and a small plastic deli cup)
  • A round glass cake pan or shallow flat-bottomed bowl
  • An X-Acto knife
  • Water bottle ice cube tray
  • Food coloring (to color your water)
  • A thick strong rubber band
  • A freezer with a flat surface and enough vertical space to account for the largest bottle you intend to use, plus a couple of inches

Recommended:

  • A friend or spouse who tolerates your crazy ideas and is willing to abet your zaniness (strongly recommended)
  • Warm gloves (for handling the ice)
  • A display stand (I used a plastic cake pedestal–glass would be nicer if you have that) and a drip tray (I used a large plastic deli plate cover from the party store)
  • Frozen character figures

Here’s what you do:

  1. Fill your empty plastic water bottles (and other containers) with water. You can fill them to varying heights, but try to make sure you leave room at the bottom. You can use food coloring to color your water. I used blue and a bit of purple. (If you’re really ambitious, and you want to make this as challenging as possible, you can do this in two stages. Fill the bottle part way, color the water, freeze it, then add more water in a different color, and freeze again.)
  2. Place your filled bottles in the freezer. You can try positioning the bottles upside down, but note that this WILL NOT ensure that the bottom of your ice is flat. Probably because water expands as it freezes. Surface tension, physics, blah-blah-blah.
  3. Let your bottles of water freeze. This will take several hours depending on the size of the bottle.
  4. When the bottles are securely frozen, remove them from the freezer. One at a time, hold the bottle under running water until the ice moves freely inside the bottle. Very carefully, slice around the circumference at the bottom of the bottles with your X-acto. If the bottle is contoured, you may have to slice up the side and carefully peel back the plastic to get the ice to release. Be very careful not to cut yourself with either the knife or the plastic. This is not hockey, and we do not want blood on the ice. When your ice bottle is free, set it carefully to the side. You may use your glass cake pan to hold it when you’re doing step 5.
  5. Repeat step 4 with each bottle.

When you have all of your “ice bottles,” the real fun can begin. At this point, they’re probably rapidly melting. This is where a second pair of hands comes in, umm, handy.

  1. Arrange your ice bottles in the glass cake pan (or bowl). This is not as easy as it sounds—remember I mentioned that ice is slippery and hard to handle. It helps to have someone to hold them together. Once you have them how you want them, slide a rubber band around them to hold them in place.
  2. At this point, there is probably a puddle of water gathering in your pan. This is a good thing. (“Go away, Martha!” “Okay, ‘byyye.”) Place your cake pan and bottles carefully in your freezer. If you are such a quick worker that there is not a sizeable puddle of water in your cake pan, once you get it in the freezer, pour some water around your bottles. Don’t fill it all the way to the top—it needs room to expand. Remember—physics. Also, you’ll want to leave room if you plan to add any decorative figures to your castle. Close the freezer, and let it go: freeze it for several hours or overnight.
  3. The next day, your bottles should be frozen together in a slab of ice. You can add some more water (colored, if you want), and let that freeze. I recommend having as thick a base as possible for stability. You can also add your decorative figures (I used PVC Queen Elsa and Olaf figures) at this time. Dip the bottom of each figure in cold water and stick them where you want them. Let freeze.
  4. Once the water you’ve added is frozen and the figures are where you want them, you can start adding more decorations to make it look more castle-like. This is where those skinny little ice cubes meant for water bottles come in. Freeze a tray of those, then release them from the tray. They don’t have to be uniform: broken ones are awesome. (You could probably use ice cubes for this too, if you don’t have a water bottle ice tray.) Dip your cubes/ice rods in cool water, then stick them here and there—around the ice palace, inside, on the tops of the bottles. Be creative. Then let your creation freeze again.

Party time: remove your creation from the freezer. We had our party at a local bouncy-palace venue, so we had to transport our ice palace by car. We placed it in a Styrofoam cooler, with a couple of ice packs. Then to keep it from sliding around the cooler, I put some of those poofy plastic pouches that are used for shipping. (Bubble wrap would probably also work.)

Will wonders never cease? Our ice palace made it to the party venue intact! We set it up on a plastic cake pedestal inside a drip tray (I used a large plastic lid such as the ones that cover deli platters). Then (and only then) I cut the rubber band that we put around the ice bottles (see step 6). Then I decorated the castle further with some Super Snow (an element of our party favor giveaways), which really made it look neat.

Here’s the finished product:

IMG_8459

Elsa’s Ice Palace, fresh from the freezer

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Elsa’s ice palace, about 45 minutes out of the freezer.

img_8450IMG_7033-L

It made it through the party, and everybody admired it. It was really cool, if I do say so myself. The staff at the party place all marveled about it. The kids loved it—even the boys, which is saying something!

Best part: my daughter thought her very own ice palace was the “most awesomest” thing ever.

And isn’t that what really matters—that your daughter thinks her ice palace is the best thing ever?

Yes, that IS what it’s all about.

Good luck. I hope this helps you make your child’s Frozen party extra special!

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Posted by: dodgrblu | August 31, 2010

Of Mouse Ears and Mania

It's been said that the Dodgers are a Mickey Mouse operation; now we have the proof!

I love Disneyland. Always have. When I was growing up in Arizona, it was just a (long) car ride away. During the 1980s, I went almost every year with either family or friends. After I moved to Washington, it got a lot more expensive to go (and too far to drive), and my trips were very infrequent. I was at Disneyland at Christmas in 1993, at EuroDisney (aka, Disneyland Paris) in 1994, and Disneyland again in 1996. But after 1996, 10 years would pass before I again visited The Happiest Place on Earth.

A lot happened to Disneyland between 1996 and 2006—most notably the parking lot, formerly filled with cars, became California Adventure, occasionally filled with guests. I was pretty worried before our trip in 2006: would Disneyland still be Disneyland?

Yes, yes it is. We’ve been four times since 2006, and I still love Disneyland. My favorite thing about the new “Disneyland Resort”: ESPNZone in Downtown Disney. (Nothing like taking a break from the park to go guzzle some beer and munch some so-good-it’s-criminal cheesy bacon fries. Yeah, baby!)

On nearly every trip to Disneyland, I’ve come home with a new set of mouse ears, always with my name embroidered on the back. Yes, this tradition continues: I am THAT woman–the one who is clearly far too old to be wearing Mickey Mouse ears but who wears them anyway. (I’ve learned in recent years that the official Disney term for mouse ears is “Mickey Mouse earhat.” Hmm. Can’t spell “earhat” without “rat.” Just sayin’.)

I haven’t kept all of my mouse ears over the years, but I have a few. My favorite is from the 25th anniversary celebration—black hat with translucent silver ears. (Truth be told, one of my excuses why we absolutely positively had to go in 2006 was to get a pair of the 50th anniversary ears. Even Mr. Vamp was seduced by the oh-s0-shiny gold ears and got a pair. I have pictures.) I also have a pair from EuroDisney (yes, they say “EuroDisney”—I visited just as they were rebranding the park “Disneyland Paris”). The 6-foot-tall Santa Jack Skellington in our bedroom sports  a pair of Jack Skellington mouse ears, with “Jack” embroidered on the back, of course. And last October, I brought home a pair of the Halloween pumpkin mouse ears—I skipped getting my name on ‘em, though. Last year, Disneyland finally started charging you to have them embroidered (even with just the basic embroidery).  But more importantly, the line for embroidery was long, and Little Vamp was cranky.

(This is going somewhere, I promise.)

One of the things I wanted when we went to an Angels game during the period Disney owned the Angels was an Angels cap with Mickey Mouse ears. I never found such a thing. Marketing FAIL. (Of course, Disney’s ownership of the Angels was one big expensive marketing fail.)

Then, in July of this year, All-Star Mania came to Anaheim, as Angels Stadium hosted the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. (You may have heard of it.) During the television coverage of the Home Run Derby and the pre-game parade down Main Street in Disneyland, I spied a few people in the crowd wearing mouse ears with the ASG logo. Hell-o!

Luckily, Disneyland has a telephone number specifically for ordering merchandise sold in the park—it’s even toll-free. I’ve ordered a few things from them in recent years, and I have to say that the customer service people are some of the nicest and most helpful I’ve talked to anywhere. (And they’re clearly not in India or Indonesia: bonus!)

So, the day after the All-Star Game, I called up to inquire about the availability of the ASG mouse ears. The very helpful woman on the other end of the line said they were getting low, but she thought they still had some—which kind would I like?

I paused: I didn’t know there would be choices. She helpfully added, “We have plain ones, Angels ones, and Dodgers ones.”

And right there, with the mention of Dodgers mouse ears, the price of my folly doubled. I asked for one plain AND one Dodgers. She put me on hold and returned a couple of minutes later, confirming that, yes, they had what I was looking for. I was already in their computer system, so very quickly, my wallet was a little lighter and my brand-new ASG mouse ears were on the way.

They showed up a few days later. Little Vamp was very excited to bring the box upstairs. (As I said previously, she knows Mommy gets cool sh*t in the mail.) I waited until after she’d gone to bed to open the box though. I didn’t want my new treasures carried off and stepped on before I even got to try ‘em on. (She has paraded around in them since, proclaiming herself “adorable.”)

The plain ASG ones are cool enough–basic black with a nice ASG logo on the front, and a baseball printed on one ear.

Hey now, you're an All-Star!

Dodger ears, rear view.

But, oh, the Dodgers mouse ears! Dodger blue cap with black ears, white Dodgers script logo embroidered on the front, classic LA logo printed on one ear, and ASG logo on the back. If not for my 25th anniversary mouse ears, I’d have a new favorite.

As I was modeling my lovely Dodger mouse ears, Mr. Vamp astutely observed, “I know what you’re going to be wearing when we go to Disneyland in January.” I think he’s right.

But there’s no guarantee I won’t come home from the trip with another pair of ears if I find something cool.

Posted by: dodgrblu | August 24, 2010

Do You Believe in Miracles?

"EVERYBODY SCORES!"

The month of August marks a series of anniversaries for the Seattle Mariners. It was 15 years ago this month that they came from as far as 13 games behind the California Angels (on August 2, 1995) to win the American League West for the first time in team history.

This date in 1995, August 24, was especially significant, as it marks the day the team really took off. On August 24, the Mariners were 11.5 games back of the division-leading Angels. From August 24 through September 6, the Mariners went an anemic 7-5. Yet they picked up six games on the Angels in that period. From August 24 on, the Mariners went 25-11; the Angels were 12-23 over the same time. The Mariners finished the 1995 season with a record of 79-66, 13 games over .500.

I witnessed the Mariners’ historic 1995 run. I attended a lot of games in 1995. I no longer recall exactly how many, but by the time the ALCS was done, it was somewhere north of 40 games. Back in those days, tickets were cheap: I could actually afford to go to 40-50 games a year. I was finishing my master’s thesis that summer: taking myself out to the ballgame was my reward for writing (that and going on the infamous Friday last-tour-of the-day at Redhook). I can’t tell you how many pages of my thesis were written in the third deck of the Kingdome. Ah, memories…

But I digress.

There were multiple factors at work in August and September of 1995. The Mariners not only went on a run of historic proportions, but equally as important, the Angels suffered a collapse of epic proportions. Moreover, folks in Seattle have forgotten about the Texas Rangers: on August 24, 1995, the Rangers (58-51) were also ahead of the Mariners. If not for the Rangers’ late-season fade, they could have been the beneficiaries of the Angels’ collapse.

If any one of these factors went the other way, would there still be baseball in Seattle? Would we have celebrated the 11th anniversary of Safeco Field earlier this summer? Highly doubtful.

And now I return you to 2010. Ugh….

Sadly, on August 24, 2010, the Mariners are 49-76, 21.5 games behind the West-leading Texas Rangers. I will go out on a limb and say their season is over. It would take a run the likes of which has never been seen in major league baseball, and three teams would have to collapse simultaneously, for the Mariners to win the division. (And don’t even think about the Wild Card: they are 28 games back, behind literally everybody in the American League except the Orioles.) It’s not going to happen.

At the risk of being called a hater, I will state once and for all that it really is over for the Mets and Dodgers, too. (You may recall that I’ve previously declared the Dodgers dead.)

The Mets are not only 10.5 games behind Atlanta but also trail the surging Phillies. And whoever doesn’t win the NL East may not even win the wild card, as the Giants and Cardinals are also in that race. As much as I want the Mets to still be in it, they are not.

The Dodgers are in a similar situation, trailing the Padres by 12 games, with the Giants and the Rockies also in front of them. Again, too many teams in the mix for the Wild Card to be a possibility.

Yet there are apparently bloggers who think the Dodgers “still have a shot.”

On Saturday morning, I started seeing some odd tweets. They were odd because the source was saying things that were out of character. Suspecting alien abduction, I had to figure out what had happened. And that’s how I found the latest entry in the MLB.com blog, “Sarah’s Take.”

I admit that, though I was aware of this blog, it’s not one I usually read. Sarah is of course, entitled to her “take,” as are we all. A number of things in this post had my eyes rolling, but I don’t want to get mean. (The tweets I saw were quotes from the blog entry.)

The thing is, if you’re going to make a claim like “the Dodgers still have a shot,” you probably should be ready to back it up with something besides, “hey, it has happened before!” and “the Padres are young.” You might start by addressing the fact that the Giants and Rockies are also ahead of the Dodgers.

Putting my money where my mouth is, here’s the most basic reason why I say the Dodgers do not have a shot of making a run in 2010:

Run differential. (Let’s save some characters from here on and call it DIFF.)

(No, I’m not going all “Stathead” on you. Sabermetrics are fascinating, but I’m not good enough at math to be a stathead. Not “buying lottery tickets” bad-at-math, mind you, but math is not my strong suit. I’ve got other reasons I believe the Dodgers are out of it besides DIFF, but this is what I’m going with.)

DIFF is a very basic stat, and historically it has been a pretty good predictor. Since 2002, no American League teams and only two National League teams (2005 Padres and 2007 Diamondbacks) have had negative DIFFs and qualified for the postseason. It’s also very easy to calculate: it’s how many runs your team scores minus how many runs your opponents score against you. If your team is winning its games by a large margin, their DIFF is high.

DIFF is imperfect: you can have a negative run differential but have a record significantly better than expected. This happens when you’re winning a lot of one-run games. This happened to the Mariners in 2007 (-19) and 2009 (-52). In those years the M’s exceeded expectations by winning 88 games and 85 games respectively. But eventually a negative DIFF tends to catch up with you–for example, the Mariners in 2008 (61-101) and 2010.

But, as I said, DIFF is a good predictor. Here are the run differentials for the teams who made the post season in 2009:

Yankees (AL East) +162
Twins (AL Central) +52
Angels (AL West) +122
Red Sox (AL WC) +136
Phillies (NL East) +111
Cardinals (NL Central) +90
Dodgers (NL West) +169
Rockies (NL WC) +89

Now, here are the run differentials for the teams currently leading their divisions (and the wild card) as of August 24, 2010:

Yankees (AL East) +167
Twins (AL Central) +98
Rangers (AL West) +91
Rays (AL WC) +146
Braves (NL East) +117
Reds (NL Central) +90
Padres (NL West) +123
Phillies (NL WC) +70

Compare this with the Dodgers’ DIFF, through tonight’s game, of +5. Okay, it’s not a negative number. But also note that the teams between the Dodgers and the Padres–the Giants and Rockies–have DIFFs of +68 and +33.

[Going back to the 1995 Mariners. Their DIFF for the full season of 1995 was +88 (April-August: +43, September-October: +45).]

Does it look to you like the Dodgers really still have a shot?

But what’s wrong with having a positive outlook? What’s so wrong with Sarah saying that the Dodgers are still in it? “Ms. Vamp, why must you be sooooo negative?”

The problem is not with Sarah or any fan having a positive outlook: the problem is when the Dodgers’ front office has an unrealistic view of the team’s situation. In a perfect world, they would have recognized before July 31 that it was over for them, and not traded away youth for age–e.g, not traded Blake Dewitt for Ryan “TOOTBLAN” Theriot, and James McDonald and Andrew Lambo for Octavio “Don’t Ask” Dotel.

It’s too late for general manager Ned Colletti and the Dodgers to undo the deals that preceded the July 31 deadline.

But it’s not too late to deal some of the players who will be free agents at the end of the year and who might have value to other teams who are still in the hunt. They should start by “flipping” Ted Lilly and shipping out Manny Ramirez and Hiroki Kuroda. As good as Lilly has been for the Dodgers, it would be difficult with the way waiver deals work to get as much for Ted Lilly as they gave up a month ago. But they might get something decent back. It’s doubtful that anyone will give up a prospect for Manny, but they could save approximately $3 million in salary. And, given A.J. Burnett’s inconsistency and Andy Pettitte’s injury, it’s probable that the Yankees would have some interest in Kuroda (and sending him to the Yankees now wouldn’t preclude the Dodgers re-signing him in the off-season).

Any prospects that the Dodgers could net right now would help rebuild the very thin farm system and could help them in the future.

Unfortunately, I don’t own the Dodgers, and I don’t get a say in how they’re run. (If I did, watch out NL West, watch out world!) And I’m afraid that the front office doesn’t see that they’re out of it this year. Claiming Rod Barajas off waivers last Sunday implies that they might think they still have a chance. I can only sit around and hope that Ned Colletti et al come to their senses in the next week, acknowledge that 2010 is over, and do what they can to build for the future.

As always, I invite the Dodgers (or the Mets, for that matter) to PROVE ME WRONG. I’d love nothing more.

Posted by: dodgrblu | August 22, 2010

Mission: Implausible


This was originally going to be one small part of a post on a slightly different topic. But as I did the research to flesh it out,
it took on a life of its own. Thanks for reading me!

Just win, baby!

I happened to be listening to ESPN Radio on Thursday, when someone (didn’t catch who it was) was talking about poorly run sports franchises. He declared that the reason that teams like the New York Mets and Oakland Raiders are perennial disasters is that they don’t have a mission statement like the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies.

First of all, I find it ironic that someone is holding up the Phillies as a team to emulate, given that the Phillies have lost more games than any team in the history of major league baseball. If this guy had been running his mouth in about 2006, it would be interesting to see whom, besides the Yankees, he would hold up as a model franchise.

Secondly, a mission statement? Really? That will take your team over the top, huh?

Puh-leeze! To quote Homer Simpson, “That’s a load of rich creamery butter.”

Mission statements are a way to take the basic, common sense goals for success in any business venture and package them up to make a company’s officers feel good about themselves and their “management concept.” In the business world, a mission statement usually reads something like this:

Clients know that [insert company here] has a personal interest in maintaining the unblemished record of value, fair-dealing, and high ethical standards that has always been the firm’s hallmark.

Okay, you caught me. This is, in fact, an actual mission statement. Can you guess whose name I replaced with “[insert company here]”?

If you guessed Bernard Madoff, go get yourself a cookie.

A professional* sports franchise’s core mission is pretty simple. It doesn’t get much more simple than “Just win, baby!” That would be the mission statement of the Oakland Raiders—one of the teams that supposedly doesn’t have a mission statement. (I would love to see someone try to tell Al Davis, owner of the Raiders, that his team doesn’t have a mission statement. That would make for some good reality TV. You thought there were a lot of F-bombs dropped in Hard Knocks?)

And lest you think “Just Win, Baby!” doesn’t count as a mission statement, consider the Yankees’ and Phillies’ vaunted mission statements.

The Yankees is “Win the World Series.”

The Phillies is a little more modest, “Make the playoffs and at least win the first series.”

Wow. Pure genius. How much did somebody get paid to come up with that?

The core mission—the “on-the-field mission,” if you will, of a professional sports team has to come down to this:

Win as many games as you possibly can.

To still be playing in late October (or January, for football) has to be the mission. Otherwise, why even try? In the words of the late Tug McGraw (Mets, 1973): “Ya gotta believe!”

If there’s a professional sports team out there that doesn’t start the season with the stated objective to make the post-season, they don’t really deserve to sell a single ticket to a single game. Moreover, any player who doesn’t start the season with a vision of helping his team get to the post-season should look for another line of work because he isn’t worth even major league (or in the NFL, rookie) minimum.

Unfortunately, in doing a little research on mission statements in sports, one of my very own beloved teams has made me look stupid. But they made the guy who was talking on ESPN radio look stupid, too.

It turns out, the Mets do have a mission statement.

Worst. Mission Statement. Ever.

The Mets 2010 mission statement, announced in spring training: “Prevention and Recovery.”

Translation: “Don’t get hurt, stupid!”

Apparently, Jason Bay missed the memo. Surely if he’d seen it, Bay wouldn’t have gone crashing face first into the padded wall at Dodger Stadium last month. (Next time, let the ball drop, Jason. Against the Dodgers or the Mariners, anyway. Repeat after me, “prevent and recover, pre-vent and recover”!) Actually, speaking of the Bay injury, maybe the Mets training staff missed the memo about the mission statement as well.

With a mission statement like “Prevention and Recovery,” though, it’s really no wonder the Mets suck this year. It’s utterly forgettable. Worse, it’s not a call to action,”prevention” is a call to INACTION—i.e., don’t do it if you might get hurt.

If that was the Mets’ front office’s response to their injury-plagued 2009 season, I can’t WAIT to see what the 2010 edition of the mission statement is.

Will they get right to the point with, “Don’t assault family members in the workplace”?

Too wordy? Maybe boil it down to “Duck and Cover”?

I’ll settle for “Just win, baby!”

*I’m strictly talking professional sports here. I recognize that, in college athletics, there would be a little more to the mission than merely getting a BCS bid, being one of the 64 teams in the NCAA basketball tournament, or making the College World Series. College athletes are ostensibly enrolled in school to do something besides win games.

Posted by: dodgrblu | August 18, 2010

Tatt’le Tale

Another post that is only tangentially related to baseball, but in which I reveal something that may be shocking. (It may also be a little test to see which of my friends and family don’t read my blog. Let’s have some fun, ‘kay?)

So, I’m currently entertaining the idea of getting a tattoo.

(Cue the dramatic chipmunk music: “Dunnh-dunnn-dunnnnnh!”)

If you know me, this is pretty shocking.

You are probably saying, “You DO know there are needles involved with tattoos, right?”

Yes, yes, I do.

“And, ummm…correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t you hate needles?”

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.

(And if you’re reading this and saying, “Don’t be such a drama queen. If you want to get inked, go do it,” you clearly don’t know me at all. And to you I say, welcome, stranger! Thanks for checkin’ out my blog: I truly appreciate your time. In the words of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Ph.D., “Thank you! Come again!” Oh, and please consider following me on Twitter–@msdodgrblu. Thanks!)

I’ve said before that I would consider getting a tattoo when someone develops a permanent method that doesn’t involve needles.

But after my first real experience with bodily injury over the last few weeks, I’m thinking, hey, what’s a little more pain, right? And maybe, just maybe, willingly having needles poked into my skin will help me get over my aversion to blood draws, which is a leading reason why I don’t go to doctors more often. (Aside from all those sick people and nasty germs hanging around in a doctor’s office.) Getting over being such a baby about blood draws would probably be a very good thing, since my disinterest in visiting doctors will probably be the end of me at some point.

I’ve been thinking about the tattoo thing for a few weeks now. I hadn’t mentioned it to anybody until last week. Mr. Vamp and I were lying around in bed, doing the things that people with small children do late at night in bed: catching up on e-mail and surfing the Web. Mr. Vamp was deeply engrossed in his work e-mail when I sprung it on him: ”So, I’m thinking of getting a tattoo.”

To his credit, he was paying attention. He took this sudden announcement very well. His response was something like, “Wow. First, Facebook. Then, Twitter. Now a tattoo. This is pretty different for you.”

(Cue AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell.”)

We then talked about it for a while. He mentioned the needles, and I noted that maybe it would get me over my aversion to needles. To which he replied, “Or make it worse.” Yeah, thought of that, too.

And we talked about the big questions—what and where, the same questions I’ve been kicking around myself. Mr. Vamp’s first suggestion was pretty odd, but also pretty funny. “Hey, you could get David Wright tattooed on you’re a-…”. He got only as far as “a” before I stopped him, so I’m just going to ummm…assume he was going to say ANKLE. (Now, I ask you: how many husbands do you know who would suggest to his wife that she  get a tattoo of her favorite baseball player? His favorite, maybe, but hers? What a guy!)

Whatever I would get would have to be pretty small and simple, so it’s over quickly—you know, before the absinthe wears off.  🙂

My ideas include a star, a baseball (would the stitches take too long?), a bat (like the flying creature—something cartoony like Icebat the Uglydoll), or the Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon prism (probably too intricate). Sports team logos would be excellent (can you just see me with a badass Raiders tattoo?), but would probably be more intricate than I’m willing to go. Also, I have yet to research whether there are trademark infringement issues with tattoo art.

But Mr. Vamp’s suggestion got me thinking: what about a number tattoo?

It struck me as kind of a dumb idea at first. It reminds me too much of the story that John Kruk told on David Letterman (lo, these many years ago) about the number 28 and Mitch Williams. It went something like this: Mitch Williams came to the Phillies, and wanted to wear number 28, because his wife had a bunch of jewelry with that number. (Or maybe she had a tattoo of 28!) Kruk had the number 28 and ended up selling it to Williams for two cases of beer. Kruk’s punchline to the story was that Williams subsequently got divorced and he switched to the number 99, but the two cases of beer were already gone.

Thinking about it, a number might be an interesting way to go. Some possible choices:

13: I’ve long considered 13 my lucky number.

42: Good on a couple of levels. First, it’s the answer to life, the universe, and everything! How cool is that? It’s also Jackie Robinson’s number, retired now throughout major league baseball, so that’s pretty okey-dokey.

What about a baseball-related number? Hey, I could go with 762* (asterisk definitely intended). That’ll be relevant for a few more years, until A-rod replaces it with a new number equally deserving of an asterisk.

I could go with a variant of Mr. Vamp’s rebuffed David Wright suggestion, and get a 5. (And the number 5 has other significance in my life, wholly unrelated to baseball, but I’m not getting into that here.)

Ah, but tattoos are forever. How well would a tattoo based on a baseball player’s jersey number stand the test of time? It’s a valid question. So, I asked myself this: if I’d gotten a tattoo of 31 (Mike Piazza) or 11 (Edgar Martinez) 15 years ago, how would I feel about it today, now that they have retired from baseball?

Surprisingly, I’d still be pretty happy with 31 or 11. Piazza is a future hall of famer, and The Edgar should be. (But what if Piazza’s name had turned up in the Mitchell Report? Hmm. Next question.)

I could go with a whole equation of favorite players: 5 (Wright) + 11 (The Edgar) = 16 (Andre Ethier). Except 5  + 11 would result in something much greater than 16–some kind of super third baseman with extraordinary doubles‑hitting prowess and below-average defensive skills. 😉

Okay, I’m getting off on a tangent here. And a number tattoo may be a little bland, though, so I’m not sold on it.

Moving on, there’s the ” where.” I’m disinclined to choose a site with too much bone, as I’ve heard that’s more painful. That’s a strike against my first choice (ankle) and probably also eliminates my shoulder. It goes almost without saying that I’m far too shy to go for any really personal areas. Tramp stamp? Puh-leeze: too ubiquitous. Not sure what that leaves.

Anyway, I’m putting way more thought into this than it deserves. I don’t often show off a lot of skin, so it’s very likely the only people who would ever see my tattoo (besides the tattoo artist) are Mr. Vamp and me. (But mention this blog entry, and I’ll show you if you ask nicely.)

At any rate, I’m unlikely to act on this anytime soon. I may be crazy, but I’m not that far gone (yet). It’s quite possible that once I’m able to leave the house at will, my brain will right itself, and this whole idea will pass into oblivion. I may look at this post in a couple of months; say, “Wow, did I write this? What the hell was I thinking?” There is precedent for that: it’s pretty much how I wrote my Master’s thesis. (Master of Arts in International Studies, University of Washington, 1995, if you must know. Go Huskies!)

The bottom line here is this: if it took me two weeks to mention this to anyone, you better believe I’m not going to do this on a whim.

After all, with apologies to John Kruk, “ Wives and beer come and go, but tattoos are forever.”

Thoughts? Suggestions? Leave me a comment. 1. Should I get a tattoo? 2. What should it be? 3. Where should I put it? I reserve the right to not approve any inappropriate comments.

Posted by: dodgrblu | August 9, 2010

“Wak” Off Into The Sunset

Today, as most everybody already knows by now, the Seattle Mariners fired manager, Don Wakamatsu; hitting coach, Ty Van Burkleo; and pitching coach, Rick Adair. (They also fired “mental” coach, Steve Hecht. I don’t know what a mental coach is, but of all the coaches who were shown the door, he probably deserved it most.) I learned the news on Twitter: thanks, Rob Neyer! (Mr. Vamp thanks you, too. My quick turnaround question to him—Wak got fired??—gave his posse a few minutes’ head start on tracking down the story.)

The firing itself didn’t come as a surprise, though the timing was. Why August 9, 2010, the day after the Mariners actually won a series? Did GM Jack Zduriencik look at his iPhone this morning, see the date 8-9-10, and take the sequential date as a sign that today was the day?

Eh, who knows? But it was pretty obvious the firing was coming. The final sign was the dugout fight between (the withered husk that used to be) Chone Figgins and Wakamatsu a couple of weeks ago. It wasn’t the fight itself. It was the fact that a player got in a fight with the manager, and the team took no disciplinary action toward Figgins. The GM can pay all the lip service in the world to supporting the manager, but not disciplining a player who gets into a physical confrontation with the manager speaks louder than words.

Did Wak deserve to be fired? Probably not. He’s one of those managers who is talked about as a candidate for Manager of the Year when the team exceeds expectations, but who is vilified as the Worst Manager Ever in the History of Baseball the very next year when the team struggles. The same thing happened to Clint Hurdle in Colorado and Bob Melvin both in Seattle and Arizona. (I’ll go out on a limb and predict this same thing is going to happen to Bud Black in the next couple of years, when the Padres come back to Earth. Leading the division with a sub .250 batting average–really???)

Then again, based on media reports and various player comments (going back to before Griffey retired), it sure looked like Wakamatsu lost the team somewhere along the line, so maybe he wasn’t completely undeserving of being fired.

Whatever. The bottom line is this: managers who get fired are usually scapegoats. The manager gets fired because you can’t fire all 25 players on the team.

The real question is was there ever really any hope for Wakamatsu to keep his job? Can a manager survive when a team underperforms as severely as the Mariners have in 2010?

Well, some managers survive pretty big failures. The one that comes to mind in recent years is Jerry Manuel of the New York Mets.

Actually, I’ve never figured out how Manuel ever progressed beyond “interim manager” in New York. Manuel took over in the middle of 2008 when Willie Randolph got fired when the Mets underperformed (the nice way of saying “stunk up the joint” or “sucked ass”) during the first half. With Manuel at the helm as “interim manager,” for the second year in a row, the Mets suffered an epic collapse at the end of the 2008 season. The Amazin’s were less than amazing down the stretch and couldn’t hold the NL East division lead against the Phillies. Then they managed to lose even the NL Wild Card on the last day of 2008—in what became the final game at Shea Stadium (sniff).

Yet, in spite of the 2008 collapse, the Mets went on to take away the “interim” and hire Manuel as manager. Manuel survived the hugely disappointing 2009 campaign, when the Mets finished with a record of 70-92, 4th in the NL East, 22 games out of first place, and ahead of only the Washington Nationals. (Thank God for teams like the Nationals and the Pirates, so your team doesn’t have to finish dead last, eh? Somewhere, some blogger is writing the same damn thing about the Mariners–*sigh*.) The Mets are again stumbling through the 2010 season, with little hope of making the post-season. Yet, Jerry Manuel still has a job. In a media market like New York City, I’m not sure how that’s possible. But there it is.

Maybe a better question is how the HELL Mets GM Omar Minaya still has a job after the epic collapses of 2007 and 2008, a thoroughly disappointing 2009, and a weakly mediocre 2010. It would seem like you can’t flaunt a payroll like the Mets have the last few years (2007: $120 million, 2008: $137 million, 2009: $149 million, 2010: $134 million), underperform (we’ve already gone over what that means) like the Mets have over that same period, and expect to retain your job. Well, you can’t, I can’t, but Omar Minaya apparently can.

So, clearly it does happen that managers and GMs survive lousy seasons—even in cities like New York where the members of the media are as vicious and omnivorous as a school of piranha. So, certainly it could happen in someplace like Seattle where the media treats sports figures and franchises with kid gloves.

But not this time, not in 2010.

So, how does Don Wakamatsu get fired while guys like Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya still have jobs?

Well, Mr. Vamp and I have a long-running joke about various players on the Mariners having photos of the manager/GM/Chuck Armstrong/Howard Lincoln in compromising positions with the Mariner Moose. (Our joke is so long-running that the legendary pictures have now passed through the hands of several players, at least one manager, and a couple of GMs.) Apparently Wak never got the pictures. Maybe Willie Bloomquist kept them.

Mets COO, Jeff Wilpon,...

on top of Mr. Met!

But perhaps something similar is going on in New York. Maybe Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya have pictures of Jeff Wilpon and … Mr. Met! (Don’t think about it. I mean it. Don’t! Just…don’t.)

You’re thinking about it, aren’t you?

Awful, isn’t it?

Yeah, I know….

Posted by: dodgrblu | August 2, 2010

Hand Me My Brown Pants

Yes, it has come to this. I’ve put this off as long as I can. But after a week of watching the Dodgers stumble around in the dark looking for a spark (or a clue), I can avoid it no more.

Friends, family, strangers-who-have-so-much-time-on-their-hands-that-they-go-this-far-down-the-list-of-Google results: it’s time to discuss the color of the panic flag.

So, okay, what color should a panic flag be?

Panic buttons are usually red. But a red flag has a different meaning. To quote thestreet.com, “Investors may have missed one major red flag that could have tipped them off that something was amiss at Bernard Madoff’s now-infamous hedge fund: he acted as his own prime broker.”

Red flags also have historically been associated with revolution, notably in the 20th century, with Communist revolution. While I agree that the Dodgers’ recent play has been revolting, this is clearly not what we’re looking for, Tovarishchi.

What about green? No, a green flag has a different meaning as well: “Green signals the beginning or resumption of competition.” (From about.com, “The Flags of NASCAR.” Trust me, this will be the only time NASCAR comes up in this blog.) Since the Dodgers are much closer to ceasing competition than beginning or resuming it, obviously a green flag is not what we’re looking for.

So, red and green are both out. What about blue?

Ah, blue…the color of the Dodgers! The color of the sea! Speaking of the sea reminds me of a joke with a punchline I often quote. Stop me if you’ve heard this one:

Centuries ago, when men were men, sheep were scared, and pirates sailed the ocean blue, a captain and his crew were sailing the seas in search of adventure … or at least money to reunite Westley with his beloved Buttercup. Suddenly, a ship flying the Jolly Roger appeared on the horizon—pirates! The captain calmly asked a crewmember, “Bring me my red shirt!” When the crewmember brought the red shirt, the captain quickly put it on and bravely led the crew in defending the ship from the pirates’ landing party. The captain and crew fought valiantly and were able to repel the pirate landing party and continue on their journey.

A day or so later, two pirate ships appeared on the horizon. As the pirate ships sailed toward them, the crew began to panic, but the captain calmly said to his first officer, “Bring me my red shirt!” The first officer brought the red shirt, and the captain donned it. A fierce fight ensued, but the captain and his crew fought bravely, and both pirate landing parties were repelled.

As the captain and his crew recovered from the battle, the first officer asked the captain, “Sir, why is it that every time we encounter pirates, you ask for your red shirt?” The captain replied, “I wear my red shirt so that, should I be wounded in battle and start to bleed, the crew will not see the blood, panic, and bolt in fear.” The first officer and crew all agreed that this was an excellent strategy.

The next day, a fleet of ten pirate ships appeared on the horizon. The crew nervously looked at the captain, waiting for his usual request. And the captain stood tall and called, “ALL HANDS ON DECK, AND PREPARE FOR BATTLE! AND BRING ME MY BROWN PANTS!”

And there we go: the panic flag should be brown!

But I dithered so long over the color of the panic flag, I don’t think I need it after all. After the hated Giants swept the Dodgers in San Francisco this weekend, the time for the brown flag has passed. I’m ready to wave the white flag.

That’s right, I surrender. I am declaring the Dodgers dead. Time of death: approximately 7:56 PM PDT, August 1, 2010.

A moment of silence, please.  (And, wouldn’t you just know it, as always happens during a “moment of silence” at a sporting event, there’s that drunken dipshit in the upper deck yelling, “Woooooo! Boooooooobieeeees!”)

And as the public address announcer always say at the end of the moment of  “silence,” thank you.

Posted by: dodgrblu | July 22, 2010

I’ll Take Potpourri for $200, Alex

Well, I’m at a loss for words. Or at a loss for a blog entry anyway.

After the Dodgers dropped the first two games at home to the hated Jints, I was preparing myself to write the post about the appropriate color for a panic flag.

But God bless Chad Billingsley and Casey “The Beard” Blake. Bills pitches a gem–his second-ever complete game shutout (first was also against the Gnats, a couple of years ago), and the Dodgers beat the Supreme Enemies 2-0 to avoid the sweep. Dodgers pick up a game on both San Francisco and Colorado, who also lost on Wednesday. Unfortunately, the Padres won in extra innings (yet another reason for me to hate the Braves), so no ground gained there.

So, I’ll file my thoughts on the panic flag’s color for now. Seven of the Dodgers’ next 14 games are against the Padres, and 3 are against the Gnats. Each one of those games is very, very important. So I may be back to writing the dreaded post about the panic flag within a couple of weeks. (Especially if July 31 comes and goes without a trade.)

(Cool: I just referred to the team of evildoers from San Francisco several times without calling them by their real name AND without using any expletives. Woohoo!)

*  *  *  *  *  *

More baseball. I follow three teams: the Dodgers, the Mariners, and the Mets. Since the All-Star Break and through Tuesday night, these three teams were 2 and 16. WTF is up with that?

Wouldn’t you think that just by law of averages that three teams would be able to gin up more than 2 wins amongst themselves in 18 tries?

Okay, the Mariners suck this year–so much so that all the trees as far away as Idaho are bending west. It’s no surprise that the Mariners lost.

But the Mets and Dodgers are both in playoff contention. And the Mets played the Arizona Diamondbacks this week—the second worst team in the National League (third worst in all of baseball). (And they got swept!)

Something has to give now, though. The Mets come into Dodger Stadium for four games this weekend with both teams having only won once since the All-Star Break. Can you say “hungry”?

Dodgers should have the advantage on Thursday night, since the Mets played 14 innings in their losing effort against Arizona last night. After that, who knows?

*  *  *  *  *  *

One more thing about baseball, and this for the sake of clarification.

With the Mets visiting the Dodgers this weekend, you might be asking, “Gee, Ms. Vamp, for whom do you cheer when your teams go head to head?”

The Dodgers, of course! The Dodgers trump everybody. I’ve been a Dodgers fan for as long as I can remember. Sure, I was piiiiiiiiiiiissed when they traded away Mike Piazza. But I got over it (eventually). Blood is thicker than water, and I bleed blue.

And I will generally root for the Mariners over the Mets. I suppose in theory there could be a situation in which I would go for the Mets over the Mariners, but they play each other so rarely and interleague play is done so early in the season, it just hasn’t come up.

*  *  *  *  *  *

Okay, done with blathering about baseball for now, so you can breathe a sigh of relief.

I was going to talk about Facebook and Twitter next, but that was shaping up to be too long for potpourri, so I’ll save it for another entry.

*  *  *  *  *  *

I noticed in the news from ComicCon that Disney is going to do another Haunted Mansion movie. (Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: “Uhoh!”) It’s going to be directed by Guillermo del Toro, who promises it will not be a comedy (phew!). Perhaps Disney is finally doing the movie that I HOPED they were doing before they made that awful comedy starring Eddie Murphy. I like the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (sue me), so I’ll be eager to see the Haunted Mansion movie when it comes out.

Speaking of Disney, I haven’t seen any news lately on the Maleficent movie that is rumored to be in the works. I’m looking forward to that one. Maleficent is one bad-ass fairy: easily the best Disney villain. I hope the movie has her transforming into the dragon. The Maleficent movie is probably going to be a must-see for Little Vamp: she loves and actively roots for the dragon in Sleeping Beauty.

I also discovered today that they’re making a movie out of Michael Lewis’s excellent book, Moneyball. This doesn’t seem very timely, as the Moneyball philosophy seems to have lost some of its luster since the book came out,  to Prince Fielder’s immense …ummmm…satisfaction. More surprising is the casting—Brad Pitt as Billy Beane and Jonah Hill as Paul DePodesta. If I was Paul DePodesta, I would be a little insulted. (But if I was Paul DePodesta, I also would have made damn sure that Brad Penny was healthy and the Randy Johnson part of the trade was going down before I traded away Paul Lo Duca. Just sayin’.) But what I really want to know is, who will be playing Jeremy Brown, the “bad body” catcher?

(Oops! Sorry about that—I accidentally fell back into talking about baseball while I was gabbing about movies.)

*  *  *  *  *  *

My favorite Tweet of the day from Comic Con:

“ABSOLUTELY NONE WHATSOEVER: THE OFFICIAL DEODORANT OF SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON.”

And with that, Ms. Vamp is out.

Posted by: dodgrblu | July 16, 2010

Men In Tights!

Note: It’s high time for a toy review. So, any reader who doesn’t like baseball, the Dodgers, or toys can stop reading right now and miss nothing. (I promise not to hide any deeply personal revelations in here anywhere.) Try your call again later.

Oh, happy day, it’s here! It’s here! My Andre Ethier action figure showed up in the mail yesterday!

I mentioned in a previous post that these action figures were given away to kids at Dodger Stadium last week. To recap, I pre-ordered mine from a scalper. [I choose not think about how the guy got so many of these stadium giveaways (SGAs, to use the lingo) that were targeted at kids.] This is the second in a series of “Super Hero” action figures that the Dodgers are giving away this year. I skipped the first in the series, Matt Kemp. (Rihanna can have mine.) The third in the series, Manny Ramirez (Dr. Dread?), comes up next week.

Andre Ethier Action Figure SGA boxFirst, to build anticipation, I’ll start with the packaging. Pretty standard SGA packaging. One side of the box has the “baby-face Ethier” official team picture.

 

 

 

 

Ethier Action Figure SGA box

 

 

 

The other side of the box features a picture of “Our Hero,” with the slogan, “Always delivers in the clutch.”

One question: if he always delivers in the clutch, then why is there a “choking hazard” warning?

Oh riiiiight—the 2008 NLCS (5 for 22, 0 home runs, 5 strike-outs). Yeah, I’d blocked that out.

Is it really okay to have a company headquartered in SAN FRANCISCO making Dodger promo items?

 

 

But one other thing worth mentioning about the warning labels—there are two of them. Wouldn’t you think, with two warning labels, you’d manage to cover all children? Think again. The aforementioned “choking hazard” warns that this figure is not for children under 3 years. The second advisory: “For use by children ages 4+.” Two warning labels, yet they somehow completely failed to cover 3-year-olds!

Enough snarky comments about the box. Let’s look at the figure itself.

Comparing the scale of the action figure with a beer bottle.

Showing the scale

First off, it’s larger than I expected. I was expecting something along the scale of Star Wars figures. It looks like it might be the same scale as the McFarlane Toys baseball figures.

The figure is jointed at the arms, elbows, hips, and knees, so it’s fairly poseable. (No “Kung-Fu Grip,” though.) The super-hero costume is maroon and gold–probably not a coincidence that those are the colors of ASU, where Ethier played college baseball (I’ll overlook that and tell myself it’s USC). There is a Dodger logo on the left arm. My favorite part of the outfit, though, is the tiny Dodger “LA” logo on the belt buckle.

Ethier figure SGA close-upThe head is surprisingly well done. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, it looks almost, but not quite entirely, unlike Andre Ethier. It is a much closer representation than any bobblehead I’ve ever seen. The facial features are carefully done (the 4-year-old Chinese child who painted them clearly has a gift). They even included a little bit of scruff, so no “baby face.”  Oh, and they totally nailed the hair.

Overall Grade:  A [Packaging: C (average), Costume: A- (points off for ASU colors), Detail: A+, bonus points awarded for novelty]

I’ve become pretty jaded with SGAs. Most of them (except the annual Mariners train cars) don’t live up to the hype. So, I wasn’t expecting much from the Andre Ethier action figure.

Ethier figure SGA side viewBut I like it! Even considering that I had to pay real money for it and didn’t even get to watch a ballgame, I’m happy. The baseball-star-turned-super-hero concept is pretty cool. I would like to see the Mariners try this next year instead of more bobbleheads—they could do Felix Hernandez, Ichiro, and Franklin Gutierrez. (I’m not a fan of bobbleheads. Those oversized heads with their little beady eyes creep me out. We have a few around though, in fact, I can feel the beady little eyes of Franklin Gutierrez staring at me right now. Yep, still creepy, even if it is Franklin Gutierrez.)

It’s going to be tough to keep this out of Little Vamp’s hands. Before I even opened the envelope, she was saying, “I want to share with you!” (She knows by now that Mommy gets cool sh*t in the mail from time to time.) The first thing she did after I opened the package was run off to fetch one of her tiny little princess dolls, ordered me to dress the tiny doll, and proceeded to have Andre and Cinderella dance. The difference in scale between the Ethier figure and Cinderella was comical–it brought to mind a dirty joke involving a beer and a bowl of pretzels. I kept that to myself, of course. But I know it’s only a matter of time before we find “Prince Andre” having tea with a few Disney princesses.

I’m satisfied enough with the Ethier figure that I might preorder the Manny Ramirez figure for Little Vamp. (I may have mentioned previously that she’s got a serious “baby crush” on Manny.) Who knows? Manny being Manny, he might enjoy hanging out with Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and the gang.

Posted by: dodgrblu | July 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Safeco Field!

Pop quiz time: where were you on July 15, 1999?

Safeco Field, Home of the Seattle Mariners

Dear God, what IS that big ugly hulk out in left field? No, NOT Butch Huskey--BEHIND left field. That structure that looks like a concrete citrus juicer!

I was in the upper deck, right field, of Safeco Field with 44,606 of my closest friends.

July 15, 1999, was a beautiful evening for baseball, as the Mariners welcomed their “hated rivals,” the San Diego Padres, into their brand new home. (Yep, the Mariners and the Padres hate each other so much that they share a Spring Training complex.)

(When reading this next paragraph, please turn on in your head the voice of long-time Mariners PA announcer, Tom Hutyler.)

And now the starting lineup for yourrrrrr 1999 Seattle Mariners, as announced by Manager Lou Piniella!

Batting first, second baseman, #25, David Bell!

Batting second, first baseman, #21, David Segui!

Batting third, center fielder, #24, Ken..Griffey…Junior!

Batting fourth, shortstop, #3, Alex Rodriguez! (Heh: back before he became Public Enemy #13.)

Batting fifth, designated hitter, #11, Edgar Martinez!

Batting sixth, right fielder, #19 Jay Buhner!

Batting seventh, left fielder, #42, Butch Huskey!

Batting eighth, third baseman, #18, Russ Davis!

And batting ninth, the catcher, #8, Dan Wilson!

Pitching for the Mariners, and warming up in the left-field bullpen, #50, Jamie Moyer!

(Okay, you can turn off the Tom Hutyler voice in your head now.)

The Mariners lost that night. Do I really need to remind you who blew the save?  Why, it was He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, and I’m not talking about Lord Voldemort.

Actually, Jose Mesa (oops, named him!) is the subject of one of my clearest memories from that night. As Mesa was diligently working on losing the game, a train came by, blowing its horn. A very quick-witted gentleman in our section stood up and yelled, “Hey, Mesa! Your train’s leaving!” I wish I’d been quick enough to add, “Be UNDER it!”

Another interesting tidbit from the box score: the home plate umpire that night? Jim Joyce! That’s right—the umpire who, to use his words,“kicked the sh*t out of” the biggest call of his career, costing Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game earlier this year.

Still in her prime after 11 years, Safeco Field is a beautiful venue for baseball.* It’s a damn shame we don’t have a competitive team to play there.

It is a civic tragedy that the Mariners are no closer to winning their first World Championship than they were in 1999. In fact, in all the ways that count, they are further away from winning it all. And for this we thank you, Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln. (It’s a shame folks at the top of a troubled organization seldom get around to firing themselves.)

So, Happy 11th Birthday, Safeco Field! And many, many, MANY more. You look marvelous!

*Stunning confession of a Seattleite: Safeco is NOT my favorite of the new generation of ballparks. Biggest flaw: there are far more obstructed view seats than there should be in a newer ballpark. Anyone who says “there’s not a bad seat in the house” hasn’t had the privilege of sitting in seats 1 and 2 of the lower rows of the upper deck behind home plate. (Take THAT, Rick Rizzs.)

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