Oh man, a lot has happened since my last post. We'll stick to Sunday's game, but first some background.
I returned from a business trip last Thursday to find . . . my Mom waiting for me at the airport. This might seem normal until I tell you she lives 1500 miles from me. But that was just the beginning. Several other members of my extended family had also flown in.
Seems my wife had planned a big shindig to celebrate a milestone birthday of mine. Never mind which milestone birthday that is.
Anywho, she had told me we had tickets to Sunday's game at Petco, as I mentioned. She never told me where we were sitting, however.
I wrote last week that if readers of this blog were at that game and saw a guy walking around the ballpark in a Taguchi jersey, to say hello because it was me. Well you may have seen a guy walking around in a red Taguchi t-shirt, but that wasn't me (I have a white home jersey with his name on the back), because my wife...
...had purchased a luxury suite for the occasion. And filled it with friends and family.
Needless to say, I made it to the railing in the suite and no further.
There are pictures - oh, there are pictures - but they're on a different computer and I haven't had a chance to peruse them fully. I'll probably post them at some other time. Some thoughts on the game, if you care to go back in time four days:
Item: They have pre-printed scorecards in these suites. Complete with the starting lineup filled in and all traditional statistics included (AVG, HR, RBI). On the back of the sheet media information was listed (who's hot, head-to-head record between the two, 'this date in Padres history'), and so on. Here's a good statistic: the Padres are 71-141 all time in St Louis.
Item (Part 1): There was a left over score sheet from TUESDAY's game against the Cubs in the suite. Remember, we were there on Sunday - 5 days later. Do the Padres suffer from 'inattention to detail' syndrome? More on this later.
Item: After the Cardinals acquired John Smoltz, and it became evident he'd start this game, I was looking forward to seeing him pitch, if for no other reason than I would have an in-person seat to evaluate him. Some of my relatives are dyed-in-the-wool Red Sox Fans (including my Mother, which made Christmas 2004 an interesting event). As you might expect, no opportunity to heckle was lost by these folks:
"Hey Mike, over/under on how many innings Smoltz throws today is 3."
"Second time through the lineup he'll get lit up."
"If he was facing the Orioles, they'd have knocked him out by now." This was after he had stuck out the seven consecutive hitters.
"Wow, National League baseball. Wow."
For my zealous relatives:
- The NL might be a weaker league right now, but please don't form an opinion on the caliber of play in the league based on watching the PADRES play.
- I thought the Red Sox led the world in savvy employees looking for any edge, including color of contact lenses and length of chest hair; so if Smoltz was tipping his pitches, how did they not see it?
Item (Part 2): Around the sixth inning, the Padre staff stopped by with a birthday gift and cake (which was a Nestle Tollhouse Cookie Ice Cream Bar, one of the many reasons Western Civilization rocks). The gift bag included a Padres pin (with Most Valuable Padre written on it, a nice touch for the Padre fan), a 'Padres beisbol' shirt with the word Padres covering South America (actually, a pretty cool shirt), and:
A Khalil Greene hat. I am not kidding. I burst out laughing.
This is funny mainly for two reasons. Obviously, one is that Greene's a Cardinal now, and I'm a Cardinal fan. I doubt the Padres staff was clever enough to give me a hat featuring a Padre who is now a Cardinal just because I am a Cardinal fan The other is there are Padres fans out there getting gift bags that also contain a Greene hat. Can you imagine being a die-hard Padre fan (assuming they exist) and receiving that? "Hey, guy, thanks for spending your special day with the San Diego Padres. Here's a memento for you: some merchandise bearing the likeness of a guy who was pretty popular but we got rid of because we can't afford to pay him, and now we're stuck with all this crap we can't sell. But we hope YOU like it. Go Padres!"
Yes, the Padres suffer from 'inattention to detail' syndrome.
Item: I was in the loo when Jason Motte took the hill. Good thing, too, because I missed his gopher ball to Hundley, and therefore was not tempted to scream at the top of my lungs the first curse word that came to mind. Which I'm pretty sure would rhyme with some variation of duck.
Item: Eleven pitchers makes for a very loooong game.
Item: John Smoltz had never struck out seven in a row. I saw that. I also saw AP hit his 40th HR. Not often you get to see that.
Item: Sunday was Padre backpack day, and a free Padres backpack was given to every kid 14 and under. We had made the decision to get a babysitter for our kids, so they didn't go to the game, but my wife was determined to get each of them a backpack. Only 27,435 people attended this event, so you know there were extra backpacks lying around. After protracted negotiations with the Padres staffers administering the suite for us, we finally received the backpacks. My thanks to Mark and Natalie for their efforts on our behalf.
And, the backpacks hold about 10 beers each.
Item: This suite was all you can eat. Hot Dogs, chicken tenders, well made bean dip lavished with extras like sour cream and olives, cookies, fudge, peanuts, crackerjacks, and so on. It also had a fridge stocked with Budweiser/Bud Light/Coors Light/Miller Lite, water, and soda. We paid for all the drinks as part of the suite price, but there was so much we couldn't hope to drink it all. We did give it the old college try, however.
Because we paid for them up front, we wanted to take the leftovers with us. Within reason, of course; we didn't shove bottles of beer down our pants or anything like that. So we put the kids backpacks to good use. All Coors Light was left behind, but a healthy sample of the rest came home with us. Good Times.
Ryan Franklin made the ninth inning more exciting than it needed to be, and I am thankful Oscar Salazar swung through a 3-2 fastball that was belt high right over the plate with the bases loaded and one out. But Franklin worked through it and finished the game. 5-2 Cardinals.
A fun day and a great day.
The only problem is the same milestone birthday for my wife is coming up soon. Now I have to top this. I am taking suggestions....
One more thing: apparently this was Brian Giles' suite. I can't imagine why he's not using it right now.
20 minutes ago