Tuesday, July 20, 2004

A sign of the times: for the first time ever, I saw an MBTA police officer patrolling the train on my way home last night. Nothing intrusive, just walking up and down the center aisle of the car. A few weeks back, after the Madrid bombing, the T put signs on all the trash receptacles saying that they could not be used due to security concerns. I expect we’ll continue to see tightened security over the next week as the Democratic National Convention approaches.

I didn’t get to see Spider-Man over the weekend. Saturday night came and I was, quite honestly, too beat to catch a late show. I stayed home, watched Tim Wakefield get beat up in the first couple of innings of the Sox-Angels game and went to bed. Hopefully, I’ll catch the movie this weekend.

Sunday was time for another baseball game, as I took the kids to see the North Shore Spirit at Fraser Field in Lynn. We had a great time. We finally managed to pick up the kids “Spirit Sprout” goodie bags, the stuff for the kids club that the team has. They got a T-shirt, a ball and some tickets to future Sunday games. Not a bad deal for $15.

The Spirit, in some ways, is a bit of a role model for our team in Pittsfield. Much like Wahconah, Fraser Field was a run down, neglected old ballpark - it was built in 1940 as a Works Progress Administration project. The city didn’t have the money to keep it up, and the last team that played there, the Massachusetts Mad Dogs, left after two seasons (coincidentally, the Mad Dogs were the same franchise that became the Berkshire Black Bears, the team that got Wahconah for 2002 instead of the Jim Bouton’s group.) Enter Nick Lopardo, former head of State Street Research. Lopardo has poured something like $3 million of his own money into the ballpark and really fixed it up. He’s repaired the structural problems, cleaned it, painted it, added new seats and other amenities.

So, we went to the game and after four innings, the kids, especially R., were starting to wilt a bit in the heat. It was 80 degrees and muggy. R. wanted to leave at that point. I suggested that we get some ice cream and see how we felt. We went down to the concession stand and discovered that the team was handing out free (!) popsicles and such, so we grabbed three and sat down at a table. In no time, the kids perked up and wanted to go play in the onsite playground. The Spirit do a nice job with this as well. When you go into the playground, the kids and parents get a paper bracelet with an identical number on each. The staff won’t let you out of the playground unless you all have the same bracelet. So, we played there for a bit, then J. tried the speed pitch. His offerings came up at 28 MPH - I think I’ve got a budding Roger Clemens here. By the time we went through all that, it was the 7th inning and we went back to our seats to watch the rest of the game.

The game itself, or at least what I saw of it, was entertaining as well. The Spirit won 4-1, behind a nice pitching performance by Bryan Morse He pitched a complete game 5 hitter. After the game, the kids got to run the bases. R. was a little worried and decided not to go out there by herself, but hopefully we’ll get her out there next time. J. was all over it, of course. and declared that evening that he wanted to be a North Shore Spirit. I’d rather he was a Boston Red Sox, since the average salary is about 300 times higher in the American League than in the Northeast League. He’s also taken to sleeping with his baseball mitt. What’s not to like about that?

On the more depressing side of baseball, we have our Red Sox. Last night’s loss to Seattle was very demoralizing. In case you don’t know the gory details, Keith Foulke, our multimillion dollar closer, blew a 4-2 lead in the 9th to the Mariners, one of the worst teams in baseball this season. The Sox proceeded to lose the game in the 11th, when Brett Boone hit a grand slam off the legendary Curtis Leskanic. Those Boones are just killing us. The worst part of the whole thing is that the Sox wasted a brilliant performance by Bronson Arroyo, who in terms of results has been the number 3 guy on the staff the last few weeks. Arroyo gave up one run in seven innings and struck out 12, including 11 outs in a row (the longest streak since Randy Johnson got 13 outs in a row by way of the K). He’s also only the third Red Sox pitcher to strike out as many as 12 in a game since Roger Clemens second 20 strike out game in 1996. Hideo Nomo did it twice, and Pedro’s done it 30 times.

More DNC news. As a security measure, the City of Boston has removed all the trash cans on the streets around town. The trash cans in Boston are essentially a plastic can placed inside a metal frame, which is bolted to the street. This was done, presumably, so that no terrorist could toss a bomb into a trash can. What they didn’t figure out is what people walking the street should do with their Starbucks cups and other trash. So, the people of Boston, being an adaptive lot, started throwing the trash in the empty metal frames! So now there’s trash all over the place, including near John Kerry’s house on Beacon Hill. Not exactly the result they were expecting, I’d guess. The latest is that they’re going to pull out the metal frames until after the convention. That’ll show ‘em.


At 7:50 PM, Blogger Ryanbears said...

Its times like this that makes me glad that I'm not working in Boston/Cambridge. I'm guessing I would have walked the 7 or so miles home.. just to avoid the extra folks on the Red Line to Porter Square and Alewife.... Good luck!!


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