March 2008

Opening Day: Thoughts & Observations

12:46pm – It’s raining here in NYC. No batting practice at Yankee Stadium, and I had no intention of being there. Haha. New estimated start time: 2pm.

1:08pm – Oh baby. Bonus coverage on ESPN. Royals in Detroit…

1:13pm – The official scorer in Detroit should be fired. Yeah, it was a low throw from Miguel Cabrera at 3rd base, but 1st baseman Carlos Guillen has to catch it. The ball reached him on a fly, and not only did he drop it, but he was in the base line and caused a dangerous collision with Mark Grudzielanek. Footwork, footwork, footwork! Keith Hernandez should be in the Hall of Fame. 

1:21pm – Whaaat?! Edgar Renteria is on the Tigers?! Man, I really HAVE slipped far out of baseball mode.


1:23pm – Helmets look funny on the 1st and 3rd base coaches, and I think it’s a mistake to force everyone to wear them this season. Grandfather clause, anyone?

1:43pm – Speaking of the Hall of Fame, Renteria (who just delivered an RBI single) is on his way. Mark my words.

2:00pm – The tarp is still out in the Bronx.

2:09pm — The tarp is coming off the field at Wrigley. Is it too late for a retractable roof to be added to Citi Field?

2:30pm — Got a call from my friend Michael Fierman (aka “tswechtenberg” to those of you who read the comments). He’s at Yankee Stadium and informed me that the game was postponed. Now he’s on his way over.

2:46pm — I’d just like to point out that Delta is a terrible airline, and you should avoid flying with them if at all possible. Long story short: My parents and I got stranded in Atlanta last night on our way back from Louisiana, and Delta didn’t even pay for our hotel. And their customer service was nearly nonexistent. Thank you.

3:11pm — Too busy catching up on emails…just noticed that the Brewers and Cubs are in the bottom of the 1st. Sheets versus Zambrano. Nice matchup.

3:20pm — Michael is here and leaning out a living room window and photographing his old apartment, which happens to be a few doors down.

3:33pm — AARRGHH!!! This new blog format is driving me crazy! I don’t know how anything works. I tried to link to something, and it’s not happening. And apparently, I’m no longer able to use em dashes. Those are the long dashes, and I like them. I used them a lot in my latest book (which I also can’t link to), but now I can only use en dashes – like that. I tried to use an em dash, and it got converted to two en dashes. Does anyone even care? Whatever. I can’t figure out how to reinstall my hit counter, nor can I figure out how to remove the “recent comments” section from the panel on the right. Does anyone know? I have a feeling I’ll grow to like (even love) the new-n-improved MLBlogs, but I’m one of those people who doesn’t deal too well with change, so right now this is pretty rough.

3:47pm en dash en dash Jona, the girlfriend, is now here. Oh, and the Cubs are now in a rain delay. Fabulous. At least the Royals and Tigers are in extra innings, and I’m getting bonus coverage of the D’Backs in Cincy.

4:05pm — I haven’t seen ONE fan wearing a glove at Comerica. Shameful.

5:03pm — Barry Zito just isn’t that good. First major league hit for Blake DeWitt. Nice catch by a fan (with a glove) earlier in the at bat down the right field line. Oh, and the Royals won, and I got the Giants/Dodgers on.

5:26pm — What?!?! The Mets are playing?! Jesus Aitch. Top of the 4th inning already?! I’m about to lose my mind. I just got off the phone with a local carpet cleaner. This is the type of stuff I’m dealing with these days.

5:33pm — Happiness: “It’s a three-run double for David Wright, and the Mets have a six-nothing lead!”

5:52pm — Oh hey. Luis Gonzalez is on the Marlins. Wow, I have a lot of catching up to do.

6:04pm — The SNY camera just showed a close-up of the ball in Johan Santana’s left hand, and it was NOT an Opening Day ball. It was just a regular ball. Good to know. (If I were able to link to things, I would show you what an Opening Day ball looks like.)

6:08pm — Michael left because I was being grumpy and anti-social and complaining about all the emails I have to answer. (I’ve already sent 51 emails today. I’m hoping to avoid triple digits.)

6:56pm — The Mets announcers are wearing some UGLY shirts, and this would be a great time for me to practice uploading my first pic under the new MLBlogs system. Ready? Here goes:

7:15pm — Nope. Didn’t work. I officially don’t know how to upload photographs to my blog.

7:21pm — Mets win, 7-2. Switching to ESPN2. Los Angeles of Anaheim in Minnesota. Bottom of the first. Torii Hunter looks funny in an Angels uniform.

7:30pm — Livan Hernandez plays for the Twins now? I didn’t know about that one either. (If you can’t tell by now, I really like to get away from baseball when it’s not baseball season.)

7:31pm — I’m surprised Torii didn’t get booed when he stepped into the batters box. If he’d left the Mets in his prime and then come back to Shea after signing for more money with another team, it would not have been pretty. That’s just how people are in New York.

8:32pm — Half paying attention to the Twins and Angels, half dealing with other stuff, and I forgot to mention that another friend, Darren Harris, is now here, working on my Arkanoid machine (which has lately been in constant state of semi-disrepair). As for this blog entry, I’m not being insightful or inspiring with my thoughts and observations. I’m aware of this. It’s just a reflection of my current state of mind. I got three or four hours of sleep last night and walked three or four miles inside the Atlanta airport. My brain is mush. I don’t want to think about anything or be productive. I’m really just vegging out in front of the TV.

8:50pm — Nice look at the construction site of the Twins’ new ballpark, scheduled to open in 2010. The question is: Do I go there during the inaugural season and make an attempt at getting a commemorative ball? Or do I wait a year or two for the crowds to shrink?

10:03pm — So tired. The Twins game is done. The Padres game is about to start. Arkanoid is working a little better than before. I’ve been up since about 4:50am. I’ve also been labeling pics from my trip, but of course I don’t know how to post them.

11:07pm — Remember when I mentioned a couple entries ago that I was buried in a pile of crumpled magazine pages with a few lovely ladies? I finally got a pic of it, and since I still don’t know how to upload it or create a link, just go here:


11:17pm — I’m loving this Oswalt-Peavy duel (Padres lead 1-0 in the fourth), but I’m outrageously tired and need to go to bed. G’night.

New format?!

Whoa.


My blog has a totally new format, and it came as a shock. I suspect I’ll grow to like it, but right now it’s annoying because I have to relearn how to blog on here. All my settings are screwy…like, for example…I now have the option of approving comments, which is cool, but I actually have to figure out HOW to approve them. So if you’ve left a recent comment and you don’t see it, hang tight. I’m working on it. Right now, I’m still in Louisiana for this weekend-long wedding, and I’m exhausted, and I have to wake up early for a final brunch and then go back to my hotel room and pack and leave for the airport. Hopefully I’ll have everything worked out soon.

Moving (the illustrated version)

Yes, I woke up at 6am and watched the Red Sox beat the A’s. And yes, I’m still planning to share some pics from the Bonds 762 press conference I attended a couple weeks ago. But I have to say…baseball is one of the last things I’m thinking about. Just today, I had Time Warner come and pick up my old cable box. Then a window repair man came over and gave an estimate for some work I need to have done. (Ouch.) Later this afternoon, UPS is coming to pick up the wall-mount that Best Buy mistakenly shipped last week for my new TV. (At least they sent the right TV.) And later this evening, I’ll be running a writing group meeting in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Tomorrow, I have to go to Crate & Barrel and buy a dining table and an L-shaped couch…maybe even some chairs, a coffee table, and a couple end tables for my bedroom. And then, the day after, I’ll be flying to Louisiana for my half-brother’s wedding. So the press conference pics will have to wait…and I’ll quickly leave you with a few images from my move. The first issue was my Arkanoid machine, and if you click here, you can see a pic of it taken last year in my old apartment with “King of Kong” star Billy Mitchell on one side and me on the other. The machine weighs a little over 300 pounds (the monitor alone weighs 45), and it’s very fragile so the movers packed it up with extra care.

In the pic below, one of the movers is putting a plastic sheet over it (top left), followed by tape and a blanket (top right). The fully-protected machine then sat outside my front door (bottom left) and waited patiently downstairs in the lobby (bottom right).

Arkanoid_wrapped

I was nervous as the movers wheeled the machine out into the street and loaded it into the truck…

Arkanoid_street

…but it survived the short trip to my new place:

Arkanoid_new_place

That was Wednesday, March 19th. My old apartment was finally empty except for the magazine pages and my rubber band ball. I went back for a final look…

Zack

…then had a few friends over…

Group_photo

…to help me save a few of the pages…

Walls_partially_destroyed

…and tear down the rest:

Tear_down

At one point, I was frolicking in a gigantic pile of crumpled pages with at least three or four lovely ladies, but alas, no one has sent me any pics yet, so you’ll have to settle for this one…

Swimming_in_torn_down_pages

…which I took just before diving in. I know what you’re thinking, but you have to believe me; certain baseball collectors have been known to get just as much lovin’, if not more, than other members of the general population.

As for the rubber band ball…
The movers offered to take it for me, but my friends suggested that I roll it to my new place, which was just ten blocks away, so I did. But first I had to protect it–with Saran Wrap and clear packing tape–from the grime and roughness of the NYC sidewalks:

Rubber_band_ball_wrapped

The ball weighs 209 pounds (23-inch diameter) so I got a nice little workout.

In the pic below, I’m carefully letting gravity take it down my front steps (top left), trying to flatten my friend Dania (white coat, top right) a la Indiana Jones, walking slowly behind it as it rolls across 70th Street & Broadway (bottom left), and watching my girlfriend Jona struggle with it (bottom right).

Rolling_the_ball

And yes, I’ll be waking up tomorrow at 6am again, even though baseball is one of the last things I’m thinking about.

Moving

I’m moving. Today. Finally. After five and a half years. Old apartment: 270 square feet. New apartment: much bigger. Sorry I haven’t blogged much lately. Things have truly been nuts. And now I probably won’t have an internet connection for a few days, so I’ll leave you with two quick stories…

1) Last week, I sold a few pieces of furniture on craigslist. One woman responded to my ad with her phone number, so rather than emailing her back, I called. She showed up later that evening to get the item (a white, five-drawer dresser if you really wanna know) and as soon as I opened the door, she said, “Wow, you really ARE the baseball collector!” Turns out my name popped up on her caller ID and she Googled me.

2) Last night, at around 1:30am, I was listening to 1050 ESPN Radio when host Brandon Tierney started talking about breaking his thumb a few years back while trying to catch a Tino Martinez homer during batting practice–and then he described the few other balls he’d snagged. I jumped out of bed, called the station, got through on the first try, told the call-screener about myself, and then, after a commercial break and a sports update at 1:40am, I was live on the air. The screener hadn’t mentioned anything about me, so when I started talking about my “thirty-two hundred baseballs,” Tierney cut me off and was completely skeptical–but one of his assistants quickly looked me up, and Tierney acknowledged on the air that I was legit. Anyway, most people who call in get cut off within the first 30 seconds, but Tierney left me on for the entire segment, which I think was about 10 to 15 minutes. And then, after the commercial break, he kept talking about me. Fun stuff.

Alright, gotta go to bed. The movers are coming in less than seven hours…

Yahoo!

Okay, I can finally stop being coy and reveal the big secret:

mystery_of_flight_762.jpg

The fan who snagged Barry Bonds’ final home run ball has been discovered. I’ve been working on this story for months, and you can read it here.

To those of you who are finding this blog for the first time…welcome aboard. Scroll down and check out some of my older entries, and come back once the regular season gets underway. I’ll be attending lots of games and describing every detail.

Meanwhile, I’m now in Denver. The press conference is taking place later today at the ESPN Zone at 10:00 am MDT. (That’s noon for all you people on the east coast.) Not sure if ESPN will be broadcasting it live. There’s still a lot I don’t know, but I’ll have answers and stories and photos soon, and I’ll post a big entry about it when I get back to NYC.

BREAKING NEWS

For months, there’s been an all-out manhunt for the fan who snagged Barry Bonds’ final home run ball. (If you need proof, click here and here and here; even the LA Times ran a story about it last week). The news is that my own story should be running later today and I’m being flown to Denver for tomorrow’s press conference. Not sure if I’m allowed at this point to give any details, so just be on the lookout…

Foreword

In my last entry, I mentioned that I’d been asked to write the foreword to a baseball book that’s coming out this spring. Well, as soon as I agreed to do it, I was told that my name would be added to the book on Amazon (among other places).
It’s finally there.

Now, if you search for me on Amazon, you’ll see Watching Baseball Smarter as well as this other book called Major League Baseball: An Interactive Guide to the World of Sports. And if you click the title of the other book, this is what you’ll see (minus the red arrow which I added for effect):

zack_on_amazon.jpg

I hope everyone’s enjoying Spring Training. I’m still overwhelmed with a few other things at the moment, but I’ll get back into baseball(s) mode soon.

Busier than ever

Haven’t been blogging much lately, but I’ve been busier than ever. Last week I answered a bunch of questions (via email) for a feature coming out next month in Diamondbacks Magazine. Now I’m trying to find time to write the foreword to this book in the “Sports by the Numbers” series. It’s due on March 26—the day before I leave for a weekend wedding in Louisiana and THE day I have to move out of my apartment. (Got a bigger/better place 10 blocks north.) I’m also running my weekly writing group, trying to get my Arkanoid machine fixed, feeling guilty about not working on my book proposal, heading out of town this weekend for a reading of one of my dad’s plays, and dealing with yesterday’s death of my girlfriend’s mother. So yeah, busy in every possible way. And there’s more. Stay tuned…

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