Jul 15, 2013, 7:46 AM EDT
I hopped on a Delta Connection flight to New York yesterday morning. There were eight people on the flight, including me. I was asked to move up to first class, not because I am special, but because they needed to balance out the weight. No mistaking it, baby: this is the big time. My first All-Star Game. And I’m so excited for it that I’m willing to overlook the inconvenient fact that it’s in New York and actually enjoy myself.
Nothing personal against New York. I’ve enjoyed myself often here. And I have the utmost respect for the city and its people. It’s just not my cup of tea. I am reminded of this every time I get in cab leaving LaGuardia and almost die ten times before I get to the Queensboro Bridge. I am reminded of it every time something happens which makes me have to be defensive and on guard and all of those things that New Yorkers tell you you have to be so the city doesn’t eat you alive. I live in Ohio. In a near-rural part of it, for cryin’ out loud. I get by OK when I have to come to New York, but my natural state is not best described as “on guard.” Especially since I began working at home. Putting me in New York is like putting a dairy cow in the middle of the African savannah. The novelty of my presence here will likely keep me alive long enough, but it’s by no means a natural state.
And this is where baseball has taken me this week, so on we forge.
I am staying at the Library Hotel, which is a little boutique joint based on the Dewey Decimal System. Really. My room number’s digits correspond with the classification for 20th century history and so my room is 20th century history-themed, right down to a book about Hitler and Stalin on the shelf and picture of Neville Chamberlin on the wall above the bed. It’s as if the hotel read all of my work about A-Rod and Braun and decided that I needed to be in the “appeasement of history’s greatest monsters” suite. Well-played, Library Hotel.
There’s a media shuttle from Midtown to Citi Field, but I decided that, for my first trip to Citi, I’d do it up John Rocker-style and take the 7 train. I’m glad I did. I always assumed it was the case, but now I know for certain: John Rocker was probably the most disgusting thing on the 7 train. Beyond idiots like him, the 7 train consists of more or less normal people trying to go about their day. Including the drunk guy and the guy with purple hair and the guy who looked like he just got out of jail for the fourth time and whoever else Rocker decided to attack in that article all those years ago. They didn’t bug me, I didn’t bug them and that’s how non-sociopaths get on in this world, Mr. Rocker.
As for Citi Field: it’s OK. Kind of a mish-mosh of styles and a more fragmented route is required to get around it than a lot of new parks, but it’s nice enough once you get to your seat and watch the game. And the food selection is pretty fantastic. Maybe the best I’ve seen in a big league park. There are many parks I like better than Citi — including ones that don’t have a bunch of scary as hell looking chop shops right outside the park that look as though they chop up way more things than cars — but it’s a fine enough place to take in a game. Like The Futures Game, which is the reason I was there yesterday.
I’m not really a prospects guy and don’t pay as close attention to scouting analysis as some other writers do. I figure the big leagues is a lot to cover so I end up reading Keith Law and Jason Parks and all of those guys for that stuff just like all of you. But I went to the Futures Game because, well, why not? I’m really glad I did.
For one thing, it was a nice, relaxed way to see Citi Field for the first time. I figure it will be hard to move around the place at the Home Run Derby tonight and the actual All-Star Game tomorrow, but yesterday Citi Field was probably only half-full and it made it easy to get to know the place a little bit. Starting with the Rotunda:
When Citi Field opened this was the most obvious nod to Ebbets Field — an ire-inducing nod for those who thought Fred Wilpon was a little too taken with Dodgers history — but for someone who was born a long time after Ebbets was knocked down it’s hard to get too worked up about it. It’s essentially a Jackie Robinson memorial, and while he was a Dodger, he sort of belongs to all of baseball now. As it is, the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum and the team store is right off the Rotunda. It feels Metsy enough to me. I mean, check it out. The second edition of Mr. Met. With hands so uncomfortably human-like I at first thought it was a real person pretending to be a mannequin:
After a lap around the park I settled into the auxiliary press box (located behind the glass in the air conditioned Acela Club behind the left field foul pole). Good seats for the game, although it was a bit of a sensory deprivation tank, insulated as it was from the ballpark noise. I assume I’ll be out there for the Derby and for the game, so I’ll have to get used to it. If that’s the worst thing that happens this week, well, good for me.
The Futures Game itself wasn’t transcendent but there were some interesting points. I was upset that USA manager Mookie Wilson didn’t put Byron Buxton into the starting lineup, but then he came in late and struck out in his first two at bats so maybe Mookie knew something we didn’t. Diamondbacks prospect Chris Owings had at least three slicker-than-slick plays at short. He’s hitting .353 for Reno, but I could find no numbers about his GF (grit factor) so it’s hard to say when we might see him in Arizona.
Dodgers prospect Joc Pederson fielded a fly ball in deep left in the top of the fourth and attempted to throw out Xander Bogaerts. He didn’t get him — Bogaerts showed off a pretty slick arm’s-length slide — but Pederson’s throw was a laser. Kid’s got a hose. You can say that about prospects, by the way. Stuff like “kid’s got a hose.” Say that about some kid who isn’t a prospect and you could go to jail.
Something also cool about prospects: most of us haven’t seen them before. I know that sounds like a shallow statement, but when you watch something like the Futures Game, you realize just how large a percentage of the players we watch on a daily basis are known quantities. We don’t watch them to see what they’re capable of. We know what they’re capable of. We just want to see them perform. Later on that fourth inning Jesse Biddle came in to bail Anthony Ranaudo out of a jam. He bent off a crazy-good curveball. I heard someone say he had a good curveball once. I’ve never seen it. Seeing stuff like that or like Pederson’s arm for the first time is exciting and fun. Now imagine seeing that a couple of years before a guy is good enough to make it to the Futures Game. When he’s playing out in East Jesus, Texas or Bumfuccaracas, Venezuela before anyone has heard of him. That’s gotta be the thrill that keeps the fire alive inside a scout.
The U.S. team beat the international team 4-2. The results kind of don’t matter, of course, but if you care about them go here.
I took the media shuttle back after the game. Taking a big bus from Queens into Manhattan is different from taking a cab in that you still think you’re going to be involved in multiple collisions, but since you’re in a bus you view it all with a tad more detachment, thinking of everyone else’s impending death rather than your own. “Oh, I wouldn’t have changed lanes there, but I suppose I’ll get a good view of him being smashed from this vantage point.” That sort of thing.
Today: there will be a parade. Players will be made available for the media. Kay and I will have an HBT Daily for you from the ballpark. Then there will be a home run derby. My choice will be staying in my deprivation tank where I’ll likely have Chris Berman’s commentary piped in or else going out into the park, braving the crowd and hearing Mike and Mike do the play-by-play over the P.A. system. I’m thinking Mike and Mike will get the nod.
Follow me on Twitter for real-time updates and random photos. Keep coming back here to HardballTalk for posts as the day and evening wears on.
Oct 1, 2014, 9:02 AM EDT
He says it will allow athletes a place to talk with “no filter.” In reality, it’s likely to have way, way more filters than what currently exist.
Oct 1, 2014, 8:29 AM EDT
Bumgarner vs. Volquez is, on paper anyway, something of a mismatch. But as we saw in last night’s game, predicting these things is a fool’s errand.
Oct 1, 2014, 7:36 AM EDT
And Pedro Martinez absolutely roasts Yost for that.
Oct 1, 2014, 2:02 AM EDT
Yost’s controversial call fails to doom Royals after all.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:44 AM EDT
In-game losses left the A’s undermanned in defeat.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:29 AM EDT
In case you missed it, here is the replay of Salvador Perez’s walkoff hit from Tuesday night’s AL Wild Card Game …
Oct 1, 2014, 1:25 AM EDT
You get a bunt and you get a bunt and you get a bunt!
Oct 1, 2014, 1:10 AM EDT
Salvador Perez was held hitless in his first five at-bats of Tuesday’s American League Wild Card Game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, but he smacked a walkoff RBI single down the left-field line in the 12th inning to give the Royals a 9-8 victory over the A’s.
Oct 1, 2014, 12:14 AM EDT
A’s center fielder Coco Crisp was removed from Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game before the bottom of the 11th inning with an apparent hamstring injury.
Sep 30, 2014, 11:49 PM EDT
We’ve got a brand new ballgame in Kansas City.
Sep 30, 2014, 10:53 PM EDT
Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu will test his injured shoulder in a simulated game Wednesday. He’s hoping to start Game 3 of the NLDS in St. Louis.
Sep 30, 2014, 10:18 PM EDT
Oakland opened the floodgates on the Royals in the sixth inning.
Sep 30, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT
Watch the host Royals take the lead in Tuesday’s American League Wild Card Game against the visiting A’s on this RBI bloop single from Eric Hosmer in the bottom of the third inning …
Sep 30, 2014, 9:06 PM EDT
Derek Norris came off the bench to replace him.
Sep 30, 2014, 8:59 PM EDT
Angels starter Matt Shoemaker hasn’t pitched in a game since September 15 due to a left oblique strain, but he is making steady progress behind the scenes and expects to be available for the ALDS.
Sep 30, 2014, 8:04 PM EDT
Braves hitting coach Greg Walker officially stepped down on Tuesday evening, as announced on the club’s Twitter feed.
Sep 30, 2014, 7:31 PM EDT
Ishikawa is 31 years old and has started a grand total of three career games in the outfield.
Sep 30, 2014, 7:08 PM EDT
Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz underwent surgery Tuesday to correct a right meniscus injury that bothered him off and on throughout the 2014 season. He should have a fairly normal winter.
Sep 30, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT
Kershaw and Greinke four times in five games?
Sep 30, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT
Javier Baez hit just .169 with 95 strikeouts in 52 games as a 21-year-old rookie.
- Playoff Reset: The National League Wild Card Game 1
- Video: Salvador Perez walks off Royals in Wild Card Game 1
- Small ball prevails … in a 9-8 game 16
- Royals complete thrilling comeback to defeat A’s in the American League Wild Card Game 48
- Josh Hamilton declares himself ready for the ALDS 3
- Wild Card Game: A’s vs. Royals lineups 14
- Pouliot’s 2014 National League awards picks 22
- HBT Daily: A’s vs. Royals. Jon Lester vs. Big Game James. WHO YA GOT?! 12
- Hunter Pence dropped a bunch of F-bombs in his postgame speech. Good. (116)
- Barry Bonds discovered to be “glassing” — it’s just as bad as you think (90)
- Derek Jeter’s final game in Yankee Stadium could be cancelled because of rain (85)
- And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights (85)
- Previewing the 2014 Playoffs (80)