Tuesday, October 29, 2013
I have made it over 6 years before using this blog as a forum for shameless plugs and self-promoting, which let's be honest, is much longer than I thought it would take. But I feel that this cause is worthy enough to delve into a topic of my life outside the realm of baseball. Worthy enough that I'm writing a non-baseball post the day before an elimination game of the World Series without mentioning how much I hate the Cardinals or how stupid the Red Sox look with those beards. Wait, oops...
Anyways, I'll cut to the chase. My friend Kristen and I are organizing an event to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition in my current city of residence - Madison, Wisconsin. This event is in conjunction with the local VFW Post in Madison, and all proceeds will go to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and its associated charities. The VFW's mission is to provide much needed services, meals, and support to our nation's veterans. This is a 2-part event - a 5K run in the morning, and a 1930s-themed party in the evening. See information below and register today!
REPEAL DAY MADISON
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2013
VFW POST 1318
133 E LAKESIDE ST
Every registration counts and any opportunity I have to get the word out at low cost, I am all for it. For any regular visitors to this blog, thank you for sparing me this indulgence, and I promise this is one of the rare times I use this blog for my own personal gain. I hope it will not affect your readership and that you will continue to follow this blog during the 2014 baseball season and beyond.
Monday, September 30, 2013
(image courtesy of Fox Sports Detroit)
As temperatures slowly start to cool and leaves begin to fall, the most exciting month of the baseball calendar is upon us once again. The 2013 postseason is set to begin tomorrow and is yet another example of the great parity of this game - so much parity, in fact, that we need a Game #163 between the Rays and Rangers tonight. Only 3 of the top 10 payrolls have made the playoffs this season, and the team with the 3rd lowest payroll has defied all odds to win their division for a 2nd straight season - the Oakland Athletics. Billy Beane continues to show that even when the entire league knows the cards he's playing following the release of Moneyball that he is still ahead of the curve and arguably the best GM in the baseball. The A's have won the most games in the big leagues over the past two seasons and are one of several feel-good stories of this postseason. The other big story definitely has to be the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are enjoying not only their first playoff birth in 21 years, but their first winning season in that same time frame.
PLAYOFFS START 10/1/13
NL Wild Card - #4 Pirates v. #5 Reds
NLDS - #1 Cardinals v. WC winner
#2 Braves v. #3 Dodgers
AL Wild Card - #4 Indians v. #5 Rays
ALDS - #1 Red Sox v. WC winner
#2 Athletics v. #3 Tigers
Most improved team: Red Sox +28
World Series Prediction: Tigers defeat Cards in 7
Rooting for: Reds v. A's
Nats defeat Giants in NLCS
#1 Blue Jays
Rays defeat Tigers in ALCS
Most improved team: Indians +17
Nationals defeat Rays in 6
FINAL STANDINGS 2013:
Brewers 74-88, -23.0, 4th in NL Central
Reds 90-72, -7.0, NL Wild Card #2 (v. Pirates)
Twins 66-96, -27.0, 4th in AL Central
FINAL GAMES ATTENDED 2013:
Erik - 11 (+41 worked)
Peter - 45
Monday, September 23, 2013
There's been a lot of debate recently about whether or not it is fair for a team to be able to call up every member of its 40-man roster in September, as is the current system. No other professional sport allows you to affect your roster so greatly at the time of year when it matters the most. I agree that the system should be a little more balanced from team to team and not unlimited, but I personally like the concept of the September call-ups, and wouldn't want it to go away entirely. It gives managers a few extra players to mix and match in the late innings, and an opportunity to give guys a rest during the grind of a long season before the playoffs. It is also an exciting time of year for fans to see hot young prospects getting their first taste of the Major Leagues and perhaps a brief tryout for the club next year.
The Rays have quite an intriguing crop of callups this year. First and foremost is shortstop and former top prospect Tim Beckham. Beckham was the last of a slew of high draft picks the Rays had before they got good, drafted #1 overall in 2008 out of high school. This guy has a sort of Josh Hamilton-Evan Gattis type story where he had to overcome some personal problems off the field. He has only posted average numbers so far throughout the minors and has generally underachieved, but is still only 23 and has plenty of time to showcase the raw talent the Rays saw in him. The Rays also called up Enny Romero from AAA to start this week, all because Romero tweeted that he would be "ready to pitch" if the Rays needed him. Joe Maddon or somebody with the Rays tweeted him back taking him up on his offer. I don't know anything about Romero, but it's a pretty cool story. Lastly, the Rays picked up Delmon Young off the scrap heap and he's DH-ing for them now. Just the type of player a team like the Rays would take a flyer on and have contribute, like Yunel Escobar or James Loney this year, or pretty much anybody they've had in the bullpen the last 5 years.
Another really exciting callup this year is Billy Hamilton. He is the heir apparent in centerfield for the Reds and his blazing speed and base-stealing prowess are already somewhat of a legend. He broke Vince Coleman's 30-year old steals record with 155 for AA-Pensacola last year and has 10 stolen bases already in only 9 games played with the Reds this year. The really intriguing thing about the Hamilton call-up is that it occurred slightly before September 1st, so the Reds will have the option to put him on their playoff roster. In his first 10 times reaching base, he had 9 steals and 6 runs, and became the first player since 1920 to steal four bases in his first major league start. If this guy can post a .300+ OBP, he is going to be a dynamic force for the Reds for many years. It's not very often that base-stealing is touted as a major skill for prospects, which makes Hamilton a very unique and exciting player. Cincinnati is still going to be Votto's town though, because Billy is a pretty ugly dude, and chicks dig the long ball.
Other call-ups of note to watch:
- Yordano Ventura, Kansas City. This guy averages 99-100 MPH - as a starter - and he dominated in his ML debut. His problem right now is that he dangerously flies open on his delivery. If he doesn't hurt himself, he's going to be a #2 starter on that team very quickly.
- Taijuan Walker, Seattle. I think he just came up for a couple of starts and is being shut down. But, much like Yordano Ventura, he throws gas and will position himself as the #2 in the rotation probably middle of next year. Big time prospect not only for the Mariners but in all of MLB.
- Xander Bogaerts, Boston. Called up in mid-August, but I'll include him in this list. Turned a lot of heads in the 2012 Futures game, #8 on list of top 100 prospects. Will Middlebrooks and Bogaerts are going to be a really solid left side of the infield for the Red Sox the next 6-8 years.
- Nick Castellanos, Detroit. Another guy that really grabbed a lot of attention at the '12 Futures Game in KC. Tigers have always considered him untouchable in trade negotiations, but he needs to find a position if he wants to play full-time next year.
- Jimmy Nelson, Milwaukee. Had to throw a homer in there. After hitting on a number of picks in the 2000s, Nelson is one of the few lower-round draft picks since Ryan Braun that looks like he could make an impact. He'll be fighting it out with Tyler Thornburg and Johnny Hellweg for the #5 spot next spring and has done very well in the bullpen in his first taste of the big leagues, as he has not yet allowed a run. He was the Brewers' lone representative in the Futures Game this year.
Brewers 70-86, -21.0, eliminated (3 @ Braves, 4 @ Mets)
Reds 89-67, -2.0, -- WC (3 v. Mets, 3 v. Pirates)
Twins 65-90, -25.5, eliminated (3 v. Tigers, 4 v. Indians)
2013 GAMES ATTENDED:
Erik - 11 (+37 worked)
Peter - 45
Sunday, September 15, 2013
All photos of the Snappers' 2013 playoff run available on Flickr.
The Snappers got off to a hot start this year and carried it into a first half championship, earning them a spot in the postseason regardless of their second half performance. A lot of teams will let off the gas a little bit with a postseason spot locked up so early, but the Snappers had themselves a fine first full season as an Athletics affiliate. I headed down to Beloit for a couple of games to cheer them on during their playoff run. I'm not going to lie - a big part of the reason I made the drive down there twice was to partake in the ridiculous end-of-the-season concessions firesale that is standard fare in Beloit. Given that Pohlman Field is perennially one of the lowest attended stadiums in all of the minor leagues and that the Snappers were really only guaranteed one home playoff game, most years the team just refuses to restock the concessions during the final homestand so as to avoid throwing away unsold food. This means that every year the Snappers make the playoffs, they more or less give food away while supplies last. Both games I went to were Dollar Beer & Soda and half-price food and I spent less than $30 in total.
The Snappers drew the Clinton LumberKings in the first round and completed the 2-0 sweep in the game I attended. The story of the day was Dylan Covey. He is the pitcher the Brewers drafted in the first round in 2010, but ended up not signing when they found out he had diabetes during his team physical. Covey went on to attend college and the A's drafted him three years later, and he spent most of this year in Beloit. He got the start tonight in Game 2 and went six strong innings, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits. He's not a big power arm with a lot of strikeouts, but he induced a ton of ground balls, which is the prototypical pitcher the A's like to draft. Guys who throw 95 and strike out 10 command big contracts and are more likely to get hurt, but Covey could be on the fast track to the big leagues if he keeps it up. John Wooten was the offensive star for the Snappers, as his 2-run double down the left field line in the 5th pretty much put the game out of reach for the LumberKings.
I also went to Game 2 of the Western Division Finals against the Quad Cities River Bandits last Sunday. The Snappers also won this game, 4-3, to even the series 1-1. The man of the match in this one was 2B Chris Bostick. He launched a homerun in the 1st inning as part of a 3-run inning, and the Snappers never looked back. He also contributed two more hits and another RBI later in the evening. It's hard to keep track of players on the Snappers since they do not have very up-to-date programs nor a scoreboard with any player information whatsoever, but he ended up having a pretty fine season. The top prospect at this level for the Snappers is Matt Olson, and he went 0-4 and was hitless for the playoffs as of this game. The player I was most excited to see in this game was for the other team though - SS Carlos Correa, the #1 overall draft pick last year for the Astros. He went 1-2 with 3 walks, and it's pretty clear he has quickly gained a reputation around the league, given how they were already pitching him like Babe Ruth. Looking at his stats now and seeing he hit .320 with 86 RBI primarily out of the 3-hole, I'd say that's warranted. He reminds me a lot of Manny Machado - stellar defense, hits a lot of doubles right now with not a lot of power, but with his frame and skill, he's going to fill out and be a 25-homerun guy in the big leagues. Unfortunately I did not get to see Mark Appel, the Astros' #1 overall pick from this year, as he reached an innings limit and was shut down a few weeks ago. Earlier this season, the River Bandits became the first minor league team in baseball history to have consecutive #1 overall draft picks playing for the same team in the same game.
The Bandits would go on to win on Monday (clearly because I was not there) and eventually defeat South Bend to win their 2nd Midwest League Championship in the last 3 years, which is impressive considering they changed their parent affiliation in that span.
STANDINGS AND UPCOMING SERIES AS OF 09.15:
Brewers 65-83, -21.5, eliminated (4 v. Cubs, 3 v. Cardinals)
Reds 84-66, -3.5, -- WC (3 @ Astros, 3 @ Pirates)
Twins 64-84, -21.5, eliminated (3 @ White Sox, 4 @ Athletics)
2013 GAMES ATTENDED:
Erik - 11 (+37 worked)
Peter - 44
Sunday, September 8, 2013
I've undoubtedly been very fortunate to have attended a game in so many ballparks, but up to this point I have two stadiums I majorly regret not going to: Tiger Stadium in Detroit, and Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Yes, there are a countless number of former parks it would have been nice to have seen if I were older, but these are the two that were still being used during my lifetime that I had ample opportunity to see. In the case of Tiger Stadium, it has long since been demolished, but Le Stade Olympique retains a shred of hope at hosting baseball once again. Since the Expos left to become the Nationals in 2005, the Blue Jays have been in sporadic negotiations to bring preseason exhibition games to Montreal, and those talks have ramped up again for the 2014 season. There are many hurdles to this, as the stadium is far from being up to MLB standards from hosting a game, and in fact was a pretty terrible facility even when the Expos were there - one of many reasons the team left. But, the stadium still hosts events and soccer matches, so it's not outside of the realm of possibility that baseball could be played there once again, albeit temporarily. I'm a very calculated person, but if there is one thing I would drop everything to do, it would be to go see a baseball game at Olympic Stadium. I've just always wanted to go to Montreal and have been fascinated with all things Canadian and I think it would be an amazing experience. Plus, the stadium boasts the world's tallest inclined tower as part of the structure - very much a part of mine and Erik's M.O., as if we needed more incentive to watch international ball.
Beyond the exhibition games, there has also been an underground movement to bring baseball back to French Canada in the form of the Montreal Baseball Project. This organization is led by Warren Cromartie, a former popular Expos player who patrolled the outfield at Le Stade along with Andre Dawson in the 70s and 80s. This non-profit organization's purpose is mainly informational and to get the city excited about baseball once again, but they also are conducting a feasibility study to see if professional baseball would work in Montreal. MBP also has a website with a team store that I'm unsuccessfully trying to convince myself I don't need a t-shirt from. Cromartie wrote an interesting piece on the website that talks about how towards the end of the Expos reign, the city really did nothing to save the team, but this time around, the opposite is true - a reincarnation of the Expos could save a city that is mired in corruption and lacks civic pride. I know that there were a lot of bridges burned when Omar Minaya & Company were run out of town, and a new or renovated stadium would pretty much be a necessity to bring a team back, and these are certainly major obstacles. But I personally feel that Montreal deserves another chance, and that fans would be passionate about the opportunity. I will go out on a limb and say that Montreal (along with San Antonio and Las Vegas) will see a new major league franchise at some point in my lifetime, and Erik and I will certainly have a duty to get there as soon as possible. Hopefully, at least twice - once to see Olympic Stadium, and once more to see its inevitable replacement.
UPDATE: Seriously, not even 24 hours after posting this story, it was announced that baseball will indeed be returning to the Big O next season for some Jays exhibition games! I guess I have to put my money where my mouth is and start planning a trip now.
STANDINGS AND UPCOMING SERIES AS OF 09.08:
Brewers 61-80, -20.5, E# 1 (3 @ Cardinals, 3 v. Reds)
Reds 81-62, -1.5, -- WC (3 v. Cubs, 3 @ Brewers)
Twins 61-79, -20.0, E# 2 (1 v. Angels, 3 v. Athletics, 3 v. Rays)
2013 GAMES ATTENDED:
Erik - 11 (+33 worked)
Peter - 42
Monday, September 2, 2013
For the second consecutive September, the Brewers find themselves in spoiler mode, and the Reds right in the thick of a playoff hunt and Central Division title. The non-waiver trade deadline and playoff roster trade deadline have both come and gone, and given the position of both of these teams, it comes as kind of a surprise to me that both teams did not make more moves. The Brewers moved K-Rod to the Orioles pretty early for an A-ball third baseman with a lot of promise, Nick Delmonico, and also recently traded reliever John Axford to the Cardinals. It's not necessarily a shock to me that Axford was traded - the Brewers do not need, nor can they afford, a $5+ million middle reliever in his 30s - but to trade the guy to a division rival is pretty uncommon (unless this is part of some ploy to have Ax work as a double-agent and pitch bad for St. Louis on purpose).
The Brewers have a number of expensive contracts nearing their end, an outstanding bullpen, and some exciting young players in their future - it seemed like the perfect season to have a firesale. Unfortunately, that word is not in owner Mark Attansio's vocabulary, and understandably so. After all that went on with Ryan Braun and the team not being very good this year, the Brewers attendance figures were already bound to take a hit, and that is something a team in the smallest media market in the country cannot afford. The Brewers rely more than most teams on high attendance figures to sustain growth, and selling off a lot of talent would be a deterrent to that. I think if it were up to GM Doug Melvin, from a logical baseball perspective, it makes sense to try to trade players like Yovani Gallardo, Rickie Weeks, and Aramis Ramirez, all of whom have are owed a lot of money next season and are past their prime, and I think any smart baseball fan would understand that. It just makes sense to get something for a player you're not going to (or shouldn't) resign anyways while he still has value, and save some money in the process. But I think to Attanasio and the casual baseball fan, that sends a message you are "giving up," and that is not something the Brewers can afford. This team is in a very delicate position of having to try to win every year while still developing their minor league talent and being fiscally responsible. They could not financially withstand to do what Houston or Chicago is doing right now, and I understand that. But, several big trades have depleted our farm system, so in turn the Brewers have had to rely heavily on free agent contracts to fill in the holes, which is not a model for sustained growth. These things ebb and flow and there is finally a crop of exciting young players waiting in the wings, and I hope Brewer fans can be patient with these players. If fans can put up with probably one more down year, and the front office has the sense to move some large contracts, I think 2015 and beyond will be exciting years with a nucleus of young talent, just as we had coming up 10 years ago. Regardless of the product on the field, it's a true testament to the organization and the fans that Miller Park will have over 2.5 million fans walk through the gates again this year, which is more than a lot of playoff teams - including the Reds.
Speaking of the Reds, they are sort of in the opposite mentality of the Brewers. Both teams have had the philosophy of locking up a group of core players, but that is about where the similarities end. Despite being very competitive each of the last 4 years, the Reds have been notorious for not really making a big splash with trade deadline moves. Whereas the Brewers have been selling the farm to get to the playoffs, the Reds are not willing to sacrifice the young players they have in their future for maybe a handful of more wins in one season. You could certainly argue either line of thinking has its pros and cons, and certainly neither is wrong. I think this year, the Reds are probably thinking that getting Johnny Cueto and Ryan Ludwick back from injury and having Billy Hamilton on the bench as a September call-up are just as good as trades, so there is no real need to make any moves. The Reds obviously have it in their minds that they have their young talent locked up for a number of years, including an outstanding rotation all under contract, so there is no need to go all in for one year. We've seen that backfire before with the Nationals and Pirates - after two years not really making big moves, the Pirates finally made some trades this season. You can look at young talent as trading chips, or as the future of your team, and different general managers have different lines of thinking. For instance, the Rangers have stockpiled talent for so many years and now have so much of an overabundance that they can afford to make these Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster 3-month rental trades, and it's working out well for them now, but soon they will be a lull as the Brewers are now when they need to restock the farm system. There's no denying the Reds need an extra bat on the left side of the field, and it would have been nice to see them make a move for a utility guy, but some teams would rather be more even keel than go all out for a season, and that's respectable. It's very hard and rare to be like the Cardinals who just seem to have young stud talent fall into their laps every year and win every single season.
STANDINGS AND UPCOMING SERIES AS OF 09.02:
Brewers 59-77, -20.0, -16.5 WC (3 v. Pirates, 3 @ Cubs)
Reds 76-61, -3.5, -- WC (4 v. Cardinals, 3 v. Dodgers)
Twins 59-76, -20.0, -16.0 WC (3 @ Astros, 3 v. Blue Jays)
2013 GAMES ATTENDED:
Erik - 11 (+30 worked)
Peter - 41
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
All photos of Power & Light District and Kauffman Stadium available on Flickr.
I arrived at the ballpark a little after 4. Navigating the parking lots at Kauffman Stadium is kind of like parking at Dodger Stadium, or Milwaukee County Zoo. It has direct access off of the freeway just outside of the downtown, and there are many different points of entry with booths at the bottom of a hill. This makes it incredibly easy to get in, but kind of convoluted once you're inside the grounds, and also long lines getting out. I wanted to get there as early as possible to explore the park, but unfortunately the gates did not open until 4:30 so I had to bake in the sun for awhile. Fittingly, it happened to be Salute to the Negro Leagues Night, so I obtained a Monarchs t-shirt giveaway for my efforts.
I entered in the left field gate, so the fruits of the $250 million renovation were immediately apparent as I walked in. The outfield is almost completely overhauled from when Erik and I were there on the Tour. Looking back through old photos, really all that is the same is the fountains. Words can't even describe how awesome the outfield experience is now at the K - in fact, that is what they call it, the "Outfield Experience." The most noticeable change is the addition of outfield seating. I don't think before the renovation you could even access the outfield; the fountains were just something nice to look at from the infield. Now there are seats above, below, and around the fountains, along with a continuous rail for standing along the concourse. I had kind of assumed/hoped that the seating was set "above" the fountains and that the water rushed below your feet, but I can see now how that would probably lead to the water being littered with garbage by the 2nd inning. My seats for Saturday's game were in the 4th row in left-center field in front of the fountain, and may very well have been the best seats I have ever had at a baseball game. Other than taking awhile to get to, they were nearly perfect - I had the field only a few feet in front of me, the calming hum of rushing water behind me, and it was a small section so it wasn't crowded. The pitch of this section is also higher than usual and the aisle about twice as wide, so it was very comfortable to sit there. The aisle height/width proved to be most crucial during batting practice, when I was able to nimbly move side to side and easily snag a homerun ball! For some reason the Royals use random All-Star Game and World Series baseballs during BP and I overheard some fans around me talking about which ones they had in their collection; the one I caught was a 2010 Anaheim ball. After BP, I got a free refill of my souvenir soda cup - a great feature of Kauffman Stadium that came in handy in the hot weather - and continued my trek around the outfield.
The expansion of the outfield has allowed the team to display some things more prominently inside the stadium. The Royals Hall of Fame was previously housed in display cases in the concourse and now has its own building anchoring the left field corner. It tells the history of the Royals organization and Kauffman Stadium, as well as celebrates Royal greats including Bret Saberhagen, Dan Quisenberry, and of course, the greatest Royal of all time, George Brett. Brett had a statue outside the park that has now been moved onto the center of the outfield concourse, along with statues of Frank White and former manager Dick Howser, all three of whom have also had their numbers retired by the team. In the right field corner is a building that is a public bar on ground level and a private deck on the roof. This building mirrors the Hall of Fame building well on the opposite side and maintains the symmetry that is very prevalent at the K. The largest emphasis of this symmetry is the large crown-shaped jumbotron centered behind the batter's eye that has been revamped into a large digital model. Behind the jumbotron is a very wide concourse with several concessions stands and a large kids area. I love many, many things about this addition, but fact that it has so much great public space and is not just a utilitarian way of adding more seats is what makes it so appealing. I've been very outspoken about the need for stadiums to have areas that foster fan interaction - public access bars, active standing room space, wide concourses, picnic seating - and Kauffman has all of this in spades. The only other major league parks that even come close to achieving this are PETCO Park and Target Field. Best of all, this addition works in concert with, rather than in opposition to, the fountains, which are still the centric element to the park's beauty. Most of the great public spaces in the world are centered around some sort of water element, and Kauffman Stadium is no different.
I mostly focused my time in the outfield on Saturday, since that was where the majority of the renovation work was done, and I knew I was coming back on Sunday anyways. I got out of the Hall of Fame about 20 minutes before first pitch in settled into my seat for the game. The Nationals handed the Royals their 7th straight loss with a 7-2 win. Wade Davis has been terrible since getting traded from Tampa Bay, and the trend continued tonight as he surrendered 7 runs in 6 innings with 3 walks, including a 2-run homer to Ian Desmond as part of a 4-run 4th. On the other side, Wisconsin native Jordan Zimmermann has also struggled a bit this year but pitched very well in this game, giving up only 2 runs and pitching into the 8th inning. A former Brewer favorite of mine, George "The Greek Streak" Kottaras got a rare start tonight and went 1-4, raising his average to a robust .179. Mike "Moose Tacos" Moustakas and Billy "Country Breakfast" Butler each contributed 2 hits and Luke Hochevar pitched in 3 innings of scoreless relief in a losing effort.
After the game, I went to check out what this Power & Light District was that I'd heard so much about. It's a pretty typical downtown area with bars, restaurants, etc., and I had a couple of beers at a local brewpub before turning in for the night. As in Springfield, I really had no interest in tying one on sans Erik. The next day, I caught the 1:10 matinee before heading back to Wisconsin. I had seats about halfway up behind 1st base for this game, luckily one of the few sections that was in the shade for the entire game on this 95º day. I started the afternoon in the outfield again, because for some reason the outfield gates open before the rest of the gates, so I stood along the railing above the fountains in right-center enjoying an ice cold beverage for about a half-hour. I can't think of too many more beautiful places to stand at any ballpark than where I was; the blazing sun was pretty much the only thing that got me to move from my spot. Walking towards my seat, I noticed the first level was split in half with a separate ring of concourse inside the seating bowl, kind of like the upper deck at old RFK Stadium. Although a small gesture, it's something I really liked. This separate walkway allows the main concourse to be less congested, allows for another great vantage point of the field, and also provides opportunities for concessions "nooks" tucked in a hole through the grandstand in a couple places. I didn't go in the upper deck, but there are a couple of these nooks up there too that I imagine serve as an amazing viewing platform. The main concourse is much wider and has more food variety than it did in 2007, including a stand that sold perhaps the most expensive food item I've ever seen at a ballpark: an entire rack of ribs for $21. In fact, price was pretty much the only complaint I could muster about this park - water is $6 and beer is $11!
The Royals got off the schnide in this game with a 6-4 victory behind a strong effort by defacto ace Ervin Santana. Santana pitched much better than his final line score of 4 runs on 11 hits would indicate, mostly because manager Ned Yost left him in a couple hitters too long. I see that Yost has not yet learned how to manage a pitching staff since leaving the Brewers. Ervin was cruising through 6 and quickly got 2 outs in the 7th before giving up a homerun to Denard Span and a single to Ryan Zimmerman on consecutive pitches. Despite a lefty being up in the pen, Yost stuck with Santana and he gave up a opposite-field homerun to Bryce Harper to tie the ballgame. Harper seems to finally be coming out of his funk with his 11th straight multi-hit game on Sunday. With the game still nodded at 4 in the 8th, the Royals picked up RBI singles from Salvador Perez and ROY candidate David Lough to take the lead, and All-Star closer Greg Holland struck out the side in the 9th with 99 MPH gas to secure the 6-4 victory.
I had an amazing time at my two games at the K and it was hard to leave, partly because I did not feel like driving 8 hours home. This renovation has turned a ballpark that was already great yet very underrated, into a facility that has gained national notoriety following last year's all-star game. Kauffman Stadium has without a doubt slid into my Top 10 and I would definitely not be opposed to going back again soon with Erik in tow.
park rankings and statistics:
(see also original post from 7/29/07)
aesthetics - improves to 8
views from park - 9
view to field - improves to 8
surrounding area - improves to 3 (downtown improved, but 5 miles west)
food variety - improves to 5
nachos - improves to 7 (BBQ nachos)
beer - decreases to 2
vendor price - decreases to 5
ticket price - 7 (dynamic pricing)
atmosphere - improves to 7 (good vibe despite small crowds)
walk to park - 2
parking price/proximity - decreases to 5 (lots screwy, $10)
concourses - improves to 9
team shop - improves to 9
best food - KC All Star BBQ
most unique stadium feature - fountains/fountain seats
best jumbotron feature - Garth Brooks "Friends in Low Places" sing-along
best between-inning feature - hot dog race
field dimensions - 330/410/330
starters - Jordan Zimmermann (WAS) v. Wade Davis (KC); Dan Haren v. Ervin Santana
opponent - Washington Nationals
time of game - 2:38; 2:39
attendance - 28,023; 19,661
score - 7-2 L; 6-4 W
Brewers score that day - 6-3 L; 3-1 W