Baseball Tour 2006

Normally here I’d rather spend time talking about technologies I’m working with and the process I’m going through learning them, but I thought I’d take a small moment as an aside to mention the baseball tour I just finished with my son Xander, 14.

A week ago Sunday (8/6) we went to McCoy Stadium to see the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Boston AAA affliate, generally known as the PawSox. We were very fortunate to get two tickets. The stadium was packed and enthusiastic. We had a great time, even though the PawSox lost 12 to 2.

We originally planned to spend the following weekend checking out the Lowell Spinners (the Sox’s A league affliate) and the Portland Sea Dogs (AA for the Sox), but both were sold out. That came as quite a surprise to me — I’m not used to minor league teams being sold out, but there it was. Instead we decided at the last minute Friday morning (8/11) to make a trip south. I was able to get tickets to the Philadelphia Phillies in Citizens Bank Park. We drove all the way to Philadelphia, which I now realize is not an easy thing to do on a Friday afternoon. We left at about 12:30 pm and made it to the part at 6:30 pm for a 7 pm game. Whew. Then the game (against Cincinnatti) went 14 innings (!) before the Phillies won.

We spent the night at my sister’s, then traveled to Reading on Saturday (8/12) to see the Reading Phillies take on the Harrisburg Senators. That game, too, went extra innings, but Reading won in the 10th. That stadium was rocking, too. It was practically full and loud. Probably the fact that it was Harley night didn’t hurt.

On Sunday we then went to see the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Red Barons, who were playing, interestingly enough, Pawtucket. That was the first place we went where the crowds were small and not really involved, but we had a good time anyway. That was also the first stadium Xander had ever been to that had artificial turf. After the game the Red Barons let kids run around the bases for five minutes, so we were able to see how spongy the turf was first hand.

A long drive later we were home. That ended that particular trip, but on Tuesday we went down to see the Connecticut Defenders (the former Norwich Navigators) defeat Altoona 2 to 1. I splurged at that game, paying the extra $5 for sky box seats, which were great. They even had fireworks after the game, which were very good, except for the fact that the smoke was thick and hovered over the field, making it hard to see the fireworks after a while.

So in the end it was five games in about a week and a half, including the Phillies and their AA and AAA affliates, the AA affliate for Boston (once home and once away), and the San Francisco AA affliate (the Defenders). Most amazing, in every case the weather was absolutely perfect. Hopefully we’ll be able to say the same next year.

I’m trying not to think about the fact that the Red Sox are two games behind the Yankees, who are coming into town for five games in four days.  Jason Veritek is still on the DL, as are Trot Nixon and Tim Wakefield.  The pitching is very shaky these days.  This could be an ugly, ugly weekend.  Or maybe not.

What a twist!

Okay, I’ll admit it. When I first saw the commercial for the new M. Night Shyamalan movie Lady in the Water, I, too, felt compelled to say, “What a twist!”  Robot Chicken rules, and not just because it was created by Oz from Buffy, aka Scott Evil, aka Chris Griffin.

On a more serious note, geez, the Hibernate In Action book really is good. I mentioned it in a couple of posts ago, but I had no idea. I remember when I first started looking at Hibernate months ago, I didn’t really like the book. Maybe now I’ve just learned enough to “get it”.

I still get the same feeling that I had when I read Bertram Meyer’s Object Oriented Software Construction — the book comes across as being written by someone almost too arrogant for words, but if you could get past all that, the content was excellent. I still remember Meyer going on for ten pages on how class names should be written with Initial_Caps_Separated_By_Underscores and how that was the only intelligent way to do it. I initially had trouble with the fact that Hibernate book couldn’t stop trying to sell how wonderful the framework is and how theirs is the One True Way(TM) to do ORM. I guess by now I can filter that out.

Oh, and by the way, in the All Star Game this evening, the American League was losing 2-1 with two outs in the top of the ninth. A single, a double, and a triple later it’s 3-2 with Mariano Rivera coming in to close. That’s the first time I can remember looking forward to seeing Rivera come in. He got the save, of course.
Where would the Yankee dynasty have been without Rivera? Where would the Red Sox have been with Rivera?

Maybe now we’ll find out. Our Rivera is named Jonathan Papelbon, despite his blowing the save on Sunday. His ERA skyrocketed all the way up to 0.59. 🙂

What a way to enter the All Star break…

19 innings and an L.  Papelbon blows the save by giving up a homer with two outs in the 9th.  They score two runs in the 11th, only to give them back in the bottom half of the inning, missing a major baserunning error in the process.  They almost made that double play to get out of it, too.  Ginger and I went out to dinner right after that, dropped off some stuff for Xander (sleeping over at a friend’s house) and even drove around a bit before returning and the game was still going.

I knew when Rudy Seanez came in it was over, but he held together for over two innings before falling apart.  I really can’t expect more than that.

The Yankees lost, too.  We could have picked up a whole game on them.

I guess I have to be happy with how the Sox are playing, but if Foulke, Clement, and Wells are all going to be unavailable indefinitely, we need pitching.  Hopefully Theo has something in the works.

I have to admit that it sure is fun watching the Sox play stellar defense.  I can’t remember that happening in my lifetime.

It would have been nice to win that game, though.  Sigh.

Quick Red Sox comment

When I grow up, I want to be Kevis Youkilis.

Phillies vs. Mets

Wow. That was really something. I just got back from Citizens Bank Park, the new stadium for the Philadelphia Phillies.

It's a lovely little park. I remember visiting Veteran's Stadium a few times, and it was downright ugly. The turf was plastic, you could see the seams between sections, and even the sight lines were bad. The only good memory I have of it is that when Xander was about 2, Ginger and I brought him with my sister Cheri and her husband Jeff to see a game because there were going to be fireworks afterwards. Xander got progressively more tired, but we pushed it to see the fireworks. Eventually the game ended. He enjoyed the fireworks for a while, but the finale was so loud and spectacular that it WAY overstimulated an already exhausted two-year-old and he cried all the way home.

On second thought, maybe that wasn't such a great memory after all.

These days, whenever I travel during baseball season I try to catch a local game. A couple weeks ago, when I was in Jacksonville, I got to see the first-place Jacksonville Suns lose to the Birmingham Barons, which I mentioned earlier. I prefer to see minor league games if I can, because they're much less expensive and often more fun. But here I am in center city Philadelphia on a beautiful May night, so I just had to head over to the ball park.

That in itself is rather amazing to me. Fenway is already sold out for the season, and the cheap seats are $90. Here I was able to go to the box office at the Phillies' stadium and buy a ticket in the best section in the house for $50. Not something I want to do every day, but it sure was fun this time.

Even better, the Mets were in town, and Pedro Martinez was pitching. I was amazed how many Mets fans were in the crowd, too. The Phillies fans were not pleased about that, to put it mildly. I wound up sitting next to a long time Phillies fan who was a music teacher at a local high school. He had his son along, age 15.

The Phils went up 3-0 in the 2nd off of Pedro and it looked like it was going to be an easy night. Pedro settled down, though, and Bret Myers looked good for the Phillies. It was still 3-0 in the 8th when the Mets got a 2-run homer. The Phils got an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th and brought on Tom "Flash" Gordon to pitch the top of the 9th and save the game.

Gordon (former Red Sox, former Yankees) has been great for the Phillies this year. He's 10 for 10 in save chances. He got the first out right away, then gave up a seeing eye single. Up comes Carlos Delgado, who is something like 2-infinity against Gordon.

Pow! Delgado hits a homer to center and we're tied, sending the Mets fans into delirium.

Gordon eventually gets out of the inning, though, and we head to the bottom of the 9th tied.

The Phillies fans are dearly hoping that the Mets will bring in Billy Wagner, who was basically run out of town last year. No such luck. Instead it's Dellucci, gets an out and then gives up a triple. A walk follows and then another out, so we have first and third with two outs. Up comes Utley, the Phillies emerging star, who works a walk from careful pitching.

That means it's now bases loaded with two outs and Bobby Abreu at the plate. Abreu won the home run contest at the All Star game last year, but hasn't done much in the regular season and is slumping this year. He works the count to 3 and 2.

Abreu takes a mighty swing at the next pitch but barely hits it. It's basically a swinging bunt, which rolls up the first base line. Dellucci runs over to field it (he should have left it for the catcher, but so be it) and throws wildly at first. The ball winds up in the stands, the runner scores from 3rd, and the home town fans go home happy.

Like I said, wow, that was fun!

Oh, by the way, I was watching the out of town scoreboard all night, too.  The Sox are playing a three game set at Yankee Stadium.  Tonight was Josh Becket against Randy Johnson.  Let's just say the Sox won 14-3 and bask in the glow. 

Sox win, and a new version of AWDR

So the Sox pulled out a win against the Yankees, thanks to a seeing eye single by Mark Loretta and a three-run homer by Big Papi. That guy simply rules. I don't think I've seen a hero this lionized in Boston since Larry Bird, though I will admit that Tom Brady can do pretty much anything he wants. 🙂

The best story of the night, however, was that early in the day the Sox got Doug Mirabelli back from San Diego, flew him across the country, and then gave him a police escort to Fenway in time for the game. The announcers said that the police cruiser made it from Logan Airport to Fenway in less than twenty minutes. I don't think anyone who hasn't driven it can really appreciate how impossible that trip was. Frankly, I wouldn't have thought you could get from Logan to Fenway in twenty minutes during rush hour on the night of a Sox/Yankees game even with a helicopter!

On the technical front, Dave Thomas announced that the definitive book on Rails, Agile Web Development with Rails, has just moved to a second edition as a beta book. Despite the fact that this means I'll have to buy it all over again, I couldn't be happier. I've been struggling with both migrations and RJS, and now I'll know the right way to handle them. Rails has changed so much just in the time I've been following it. I really, really needed a revised version of this book.

Of course, that means I'll need to get it autographed again. 🙂

As an update, I did buy the new version, both as a PDF and in hardcopy (which won't be available until the fall). I spent several hours this evening working through parts of the depot application. I downloaded a clean version of RadRails, too, so that I could start from scratch. Things are working better now, except that somehow my migration that was supposed to add data to the database didn't do anything and I don't know why. Also, RadRails seems to have "issues" shutting down the server.

Some days I feel like Rails and Ruby are easy. Others I feel like I'll never know them well enough to teach them. Actually, I tend to experience both extremes on the same day, usually as it gets later and later.

Big Sox game tonight

After dropping two of three to the Devil Rays (!), the Sox have finally fallen back far enough to be tied with the Yankees.  This just in time for them to come to Fenway for a two-game set.

Do you think Johnny Damon is going to get booed?  Yeah, me too.

Wakefield is on the mound tonight.  In other words, if the knuckleball is dancing, Bard will have half a dozen passed balls.  If not, then there will be several dented cars in the parking lot.  Sigh.

Maybe when Coco Crisp comes back we'll start scoring runs again.

The Sports Guy had a great chat last week, though.  When asked about the size of his Papelboner, he replied, huge, like he'd overdosed on Cialis.  It's not good to burst out laughing while reading a webpage while the students are doing a lab.

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