Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ozzie's Best Rants

In honor of this week's little Joe West fracas, has our favorite manager, Ozzie Guillen's, best rants of his Sox career. My favorite might be on Dustin Pedroia, who he called a former Kentucky Derby jockey.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Visit to Tropicana Field

Two weekends ago I took an adventure to the Tampa Bay area for a friend’s wedding. We decided to stretch our friends wedding into a 5 day weekend for us. On Monday we decided to explore the cities and attend a Rays game.

Even though the Rays have the best record in the league, it is well known that tickets are not hard to come by. Sure enough, about 45 minutes before the game we walked up to the gate, got $30 tickets about 20 rows behind where the dug out met the net behind the catcher.

This will be my fourth active stadium. Well technically it will be my 5th stadium, but when I went to Turner Field, it was called the Olympic stadium and looked like this (you can see where home plate is going to be on the top right) :

instead of this (That's Foulton County Stadium just behind it and the Georgia Dome off in the distance) :

Since we are counting and I am sure you care, I have been to two now demolished stadiums as well, Milwaukee County Stadium and Fulton County Stadium. So, grand total of active and inactive stadiums would be seven.

Walking up to the stadium, I couldn’t help but think of all the negative things I have heard about Tropicana Field. Stuff like, why does a Florida baseball team have a dome, it’s dull and boring and ugly. Well I can say, I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed my Tropicana field experience.

As we were walking up to the field, we walked on a tile walkway that had some nice fish designs on it while Jimmy Buffett was playing on the speakers. We were walking past numerous tailgaters, even though the amount was defiantly smaller than one would typically see at a White Sox game, and defiantly smaller then the Brewers (who have the best tailgating set up I have ever seen).

We got there early enough to give us plenty of time to explore. We did a full lap around the concourse and found lots of variety of food, beverages (including Kona Brewing Company on Tap!) as well as games and other areas for family enjoyment.

After we did our first lap, we decided to go pet the cownose rays out in center field. This would actually be my third time petting them, and for $4 we decided to feed them as well. That was a weird experience. You take part of a fish (head or tail) and put it between two of your fingers. You then submerge your hand close to the bottom. The Ray will find it, swim over the top and suck the fish right out of your hand.

They don’t have very good aim, so they do end up getting your hand too, but they have small teeth (if any) and it doesn’t hurt. I know the tank might not have anything to do with baseball, but it’s still a cool experience to have at a stadium. In case you were wondering, there is a net over the tank to try and prevent balls from landing in there.

Jamie and I ended up buying t-shirt jerseys before we headed to our seats. I bought a Crawford and she bought a Longoria. When we got to our seats, the first thing I noticed was how bright it was in the stadium. From watching games on TV it always looks depressingly dark, but that’s not the case in the stadium. I don’t know if it has something to do with the cameras or what, but it was very nice inside.

Also, from the guy who was complaining about the dome in Florida, I’m not going to lie, it was humid out and I was glad not to feel sticky through the game.

The game itself had a few highlights. First inning the first three Rays reached base include Crawford on a triple (which I thought he was going to round 3rd and go for the inside the park home run). Even with all the hits, the Rays only scored 2 runs. After the first inning it looked like the Rays would cruise to an easy win.

Well, that wasn’t the case. The Rays stopped hitting after the first and after a few innings the Indians started to hit and scored three runs. The Rays then brought in reliever Joaquin Benoit... the 7th who went on to throw 18 pitches and struck out five guys. Yup, he only threw three balls. That was impressive. The Rays ended up tieing the game on a fly ball to center. The Indians player made a diving grab, but lost the ball once he hit the turf. The game went to extra innings, where the Rays won in the 11th on a suicide squeeze.

The whole experience was a blast and I would recommend to anyone who is looking for cheap tickets to watch good baseball and enjoy a surprisingly nice park to check out Tropicana Field.

Monday, May 24, 2010

NBA Playoffs: Finally Watchable?

I've been having a hard time paying attention to the Association's playoffs this year.

Partially, it's just the host of distractions; Where are LeBron/Bosh/Wade going? Who's goanna win the draft lottery? Is there hockey on? (note - we apparently are continuing our reverse jinx of the Hawks here at ACSS due to the kidnapping of our head hockey writers.)

Mainly, though, it just hasn't been a very exciting postseason. Derrick Rose and the Bulls got bounced in five. The Celtics manhandled the Cavaliers, and are poised to do the same to the Magic, despite tonight's game effort by Orlando, who won 96-92 on the road.

The Lakers had some exciting matchups in their road to the Western Conference Finals, but neither Kevin Durant and the Thunder nor Deron Williams (The Flyin' Illinoisian) and the Jazz looked like much more than a speed bump in Kobe and Co.'s way.

Yawn. For somebody that loves basketball like I do, this is torture.

My friend (and occasional ACSS contributor) Alec Kinczewski and I have been having an exchange on Facebook, where he asked me for my predictions on the Suns-Lakers series. I predicted the Suns winning in six games.

This of course was immediately followed by the Suns getting stomped in Game One, leading to...

Alec Kinczewski
So, Suns in 6 games? I'll give you a chance to reconsider. Also, with a close enough score at half Kobe puts down 21 in the third. James scored 28 in all of game 6. Thoughts?

Mark Fodor My primary thought is this : If it's the Lakers in the Finals, I probably won't be watching the finals, despite my love for Lamar Odom and like for Pau Gasol. The rest of the Lakers just annoy me that much. Including Smug Phil. It's just not the same when he's not YOUR Zen Master.

And, two days later...

Alec Kinczewski
So, despite Grant Hill playing like the advertising departments for Fila and Sprite were watching ('I'll show them!'), the Suns are in the hole 2-0. Change your prediction?

And, another two days later...

Mark Fodor Suns. Suns. Suns.

My point is this. We finally have ourselves a potentially interesting series in the NBA Playoffs, and I'm coming down hard on the side of the Phoenix Suns. There are a number of reasons that the average pro ball fan should be rooting for the Suns here:

5. Owner Robert Sarver got out the "Los Suns" jerseys as his team took a bold stand against Arizona's anti-immigration laws in the early going of the playoffs. The ability to make a statement without being maudlin or painfully obnoxious about it demonstrates class and intelligence.

4. Steve Nash had his eye blacked by Tim Duncan in Round Two as the Suns finally dispatched their longtime rival Spurs. Then, last night, he finished the game despite a broken nose! He's having surgery on it and will play in Game Four. No doubt inspired by playoff hockey (and Los Hawks!), the Canadian is all toughness and passing ability, even at his advanced age.

3. Amar'e Stoudemire and Lamar Odom have engaged in a mostly one-sided war of words throughout. On the court, both big men are entertaining as hell to watch. Odom, with his well-rounded skill set, is one of my favorites to watch, and he was the stud of my NBA 2k5 dynasty (along with Arenas, Wally Sczcerbiak, Nene, and Marcus Camby). He had 19 and 19 in Game One and another double-double in Game Two.

Amar'e openly attributed Odom's great games to his being "lucky" (if he was that lucky, he would have landed the hot Kardashian sister, no?), and then went out last night and backed up his big talk, notching 43 and 11 in a sick, sick game. He one-upped Kobe Bryant's near triple double and made up for an awful game from most of the Suns' bench.

Also, Amar'e is bringing back the RecSpecs.

2. Robin Lopez. Everyone thought his brother was going to be much better. Well, Brook and the Nets won, what, ten games this year? Eleven? Robin dropped twenty last night, many of them in the face of All-Star Pau Gasol. He's a crazy looking dude and adds extra entertainment factor, for sure.'s Chris Ballard has a nice feature on Lopez today. Here's one highlight from the season, if you've been missing out.

1. Aren't you sick of the Lakers? It's not that I don't admire their style of play. I really do. And Odom, when he's on, is one of my favorite guys to watch in the league.

But Jack Nicholson, Kobe Bryant, the Laker Girls, those awful yellow and purple uniforms... I have had enough. It's time for some real excitement in the NBA finals, not the same ten teams we've been seeing since the seventies. So I say, Viva Los Suns! Time to hit the comeback trail.