Close to the action 

Friday, May 20, 2016–Tigers 5, Rays 7

Is it possible to be too close to the field? I would say that you definitely can. I’m not used to tickets 10 rows from shallow left field being within my price range, but it happened this time, so I figured, why not? Well, I had a good view of the singing hawker’s rear end on the second-inning balk that have the Tigers their first run, I was letting some of my neighbors back to their seats when Kevin Kiermaier hit a bases-clearing triple to put the Rays back up by 3 in the sixth. And then on top of that, the angle I’ve got doesn’t really let me see things like how the infielders are positioned and other details like that.

TB-DetThat’s not to say that there hasn’t been plenty to see, though. To begin with, it’s Polish-American day at the ballpark, which is really a big deal here. They had about 300 dancers in traditional costumes performing. The kids right in front of me were about four or five so they weren’t dancing as much as you might call it choreographed falling. And the stream of passersby abated so I was able to see some baseball, including Miguel Cabrera’s two monumental home runs.

In all, this turned out to be a very entertaining game, in which the outcome was in doubt until the final pitch, but you wouldn’t have thought so from the way Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez was struggling in the first. Steven Souza hit the second pitch of the game about 375 feet and two more runs came in before the Tigers came to bat for the first time.

As I mentioned, Detroit clawed back to tie it, but the three runs Tampa Bay picked up in the sixth did wind up being the decisive factor. Still, when two batters reached in the bottom of the ninth, the fans began standing in hopes their team would come roaring back. That hope ended with Victor Martinez’s grounder to short.


Deep in the heart of Texas

Wednesday, June 8, 2011–Rangers 7, Tigers 3

This June, to celebrate mother’s retirement and my graduation, we went on a family trip to Texas. Once I’d gotten a look at the Isotopes’ schedule and saw that they would be playing in Round Rock (home of the Texas Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate) just a few days before a Rangers homestand was set to begin, the opportunity was just too good to pass up. The trip started in Austin, and included a drive down to San Antonio where we drove past the Alamo and spent a very nice evening with a family friend checking out the riverwalk. We also spent time catching up with friends in the Austin area, including taking one of Mom’s school chums and her husband to the Dell Diamond to see the Isotopes pound the Express 8-3. It was a first for me, I’d never gone to follow one of “my” teams on the road before.

After our stay in Austin was over, we drove on up I-35. Another friend of my parents now works at the Texas Rangers Museum in Waco (law enforcement Rangers, not ballplayers), and he gave us a tour. We saw some of the firearms in Bonnie & Clyde’s car, firearms that have been pointed in the faces of serving Texas Rangers, firearms from the ranch surveying era, and a few other firearms as well. I learned just how little I care about firearms. We were musing as we continued on up the road to Arlington just how much better we were able to appreciate the museum for the tour we got.

When we were in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, it was right in the middle of the NBA finals, which featured the hometown team. I had to keep to myself the belief that basketball season ends in April–I’m sure nobody I’d have talked to around there would’ve believed me. We found Dallas to be nearly impossible to navigate: you can’t get off the freeway without finding yourself halfway to Houston, and you can’t get from one end of downtown to the other. We only had one day in Dallas, and we wanted to do something just a little bit different. We weren’t expecting a museum in a law office, though.

I found a museum that sounded interesting buried deep in the guidebook, the Museum of Geometric and MADI Art. This is a movement I’d never heard of before, featuring brightly colored geometrical shapes in non-represntational compositions. The work was all very fascinating, and fun as well. However, more fun than the art itself was the juxtaposition of the museum with the co-occupants of the building, at least three different law firms. On the second floor, you follow the artwork along a hallway and around a corner–right into an employee’s lounge with very standard representational paintings of flowers hanging over the well-used sofa and kitchen counter.

OK, well, that seems to pretty well cover everything about this trip, what else to say… Oh, yes, the Rangers game. Easily the sloppiest MLB game I’ve seen, four errors between the two teams, and three of them were an outfielder dropping a perfectly routine fly ball. None of the dropped flies turned out to be of any consequence, though—the game turned on an infield error.

Down by one, Texas had the bases loaded when Craig Gentry hit a grounder right to third baseman Don Kelly. It was a ball which might have been an inning-ending DP and certainly should have forced out the runner at the plate. Kelly’s throw to the plate was wild, and two runs scored. Josh Hamilton’s double brought in two more, and what might have been a scoreless inning and huge momentum swing towards Detroit instead became a 4-run Ranger uprising.

Even first base umpire Brian O’Nora was having a bad night, calling Detroit’s Victor Martinez (a catcher running the bases, no less) safe on what should have been an inning ending double play, and later calling Hamilton out for an inning-ending double play that shouldn’t have been. Though both calls went against the home team, this isn’t me being a homer—they were both close plays, but I honestly believe (even from my perch in the 3rd deck) that both calls were wrong. When Mike Napoli (usually another catcher but filling in for Texas at first) was out by a mile (or at least half a step) in the 5th, it surprised nobody that he was called safe. Like the dropped flies, none of these shenanigans affected the outcome–they were just sloppy.

Also worth noting–since we saw the Triple-A team one night and the big-league club four days later–in that time, infielder Chris Davis was called up to cover Ian Kinsler’s paternity leave, and we got to see him both nights. He didn’t do anything spectacular either night, going 0-4 in Round Rock and 2-4 with a run scored in Arlington, but it was nice to see someone get called up.

Here’s some geometric art, carefully disguised as a scorecard.