March 2013

Taking a Look at a Little Book.

Peanuts, Popcorn & American Presidents

popcorn presidents

I love reading anything baseball. A while back I received an email from a fellow named Nicholas asking if I would review this book about American Presidents and baseball. I agreed hoping it was a short book as I don’t have a whole lot of free time right now with the regular baseball season getting ready to start.

The book is 11 pages which is right up my alley.

DID YOU KNOW?

William Howard Taft was the first president to throw out a ceremonial first pitch. He did it on April 14th to usher in the 1910 baseball season.

william Taft first pitch

That President George Bush Sr. was a Boston Red Sox fan who later flipped and became a Houston Astros fan? The senior Bush was also the Captain of his Yale Baseball team.

george-bush

Here’s another one, did you know that when President Roosevelt threw an inaugural pitch, someone was always on hand to prevent him from toppling over.

roos pitch

This little book is filled with  tid-bits of information like that.

About the book.

Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball,” wrote Jacques Barzun, the late French-born historian of American culture. Barzun might have added that any U.S. politician with his eye on the White House had better know the difference between a ball and a strike. Since baseball became the National Pastime it has enjoyed a favored relationship with the seats of power—in Congress and even in the Supreme Court, but certainly with the chief executive.

The venerable sportswriter Ray Robinson surveys the presidential attitude toward the “best game” since the early twentieth century, separating the enthusiasts from the pretenders.

A little bit about the Author Ray Robinson.

robinson_ray_290

Ray Robinson, a former magazine editor, is the author of the widely acclaimed biography Iron Horse: Lou Gehrig in His Time as
well as biographies of Knute Rockne, Christy Mathewson, Will Rogers, and Stan Musial. His writings appear frequently in the New York Times. He lives in New York City.

Where can I purchase this book?

http://www.nowandthenreader.com/

Also available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and I-Tunes.

I’m “D” the Ranter…Is it first pitch yet? :)

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A Happy Face in the Enemy’s Place

3-11-13

Rockies vs White Sox..Camelback Ranch

Last day in Arizona.

camelback ranch board

This was my first time visiting the Ranch(home to the Dodgers and White Sox). As far as spring training facilities go this one is a real gem. It’s beautifully laid out with little ponds and walkways everywhere.

camelbackranch

backfields cb

cb pond

We were there on a Monday and the back fields were almost deserted.

backfields cb2

I wandered around, enjoying the early morning sun, reflecting on the past few days and thinking about life in general. How many spring training facilities can you get enough peace and quiet to actually relax and ponder shit?

batting cage cb

While I was “Zone’n” I noticed some players gathering in the outfield of one of the practice fields. I watched as one of the coaches started hitting pop-flys right up against the outfield wall and players were jumping trying to catch them and keep ‘em from going over the fence. I hurried over to where the balls were going over the fence and I noticed it  was just me there. For a few short minutes it was yours truely catching the baseballs that the minor league players couldn’t snag. Eventually folks saw me having the time of my life and decided to join.

All in all probably 25 baseballs were hit out.

As soon as that drill was finished the minor leaguers started their batting practice. Sitt’n with seven baseballs already I was having a great day.  BP was a bit more crowded but I manged to catch one on the bounce and one on the fly preventing a bystander from getting hit in the face with a home run ball.

Dude didn’t even say thank you….Dick

Folks, this place is special even if it is enemy territory.

stcb black

cb field 1

st cb1

st cb3

Today wound up being not only a good day for baseballs but it was a great day for autographs.

I managed to get Todd Helton to sign my baseball, Eric Young Jr to sign a picture, and Skipper Walt Weiss signed my 1993 photo ball of him.

walt weiss stcb

Plus, Dante signed a baseball card the Rox Addict hooked me up with.

dante stcb

Check out this motley autograph Crue..Left to Right, James, Eric, and Mike the Rox Addict.

Motley autograph crue

James is the guy who made the “Helmer is my Homeboy” T-Shirts. Maybe it’s time for some Ranter shirts?

Anyone interested?

Helton slap stcb

Cuddy cbst

Tulo stcb

rox at bat stcb

rene stcb

tulo up stcb1

Helton on first cbst

rox pitcher cbst

hit on first cbst

play on second cbst

I don’t have many of these…Here’s Tulo smiling.

deuce smiling cbst

The Rockies lose this one to the White Sox. Matter of fact, the Rockies lost every game we saw them play the week we were in Arizona except for when they played the USA WBC team.

I have no idea what we’re in for this season as far as the Rockies go.

I’m “D” the Ranter…I’d like to thank the Rox Addict for splitt’n the costs and being good company.

It was fun, but this year’s trip is done. 20 days till the first home game at Coors Field!

See you there…“D”

ranter cb st

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Baseball and Booze…How Could They Lose?

3-8-11

 World Baseball Classic USA vs Mexico…Chase Field

chase fiel sign randy 1

I don’t claim to know much about the World Baseball Classic.

Mex 1

All I knew was this event was taking place during my yearly spring training trek and it was an opportunity to see something new, visit Chase Field for the first time and hopefully snag a World Baseball Classic game ball or BP ball. So being the open-minded baseball enthusiast I am I was like WTF, let’s see what it’s all about.

As per usual my week in Phoenix coincided with Arizona’s yearly two-day monsoon season, but this time I one-upped Mother Nature. The weather for Friday and Saturday called for rain and cold. My WBC games were Friday night and Saturday.

Inside Chase Field :)

chase field

As we approached the Chase Field district there was definitely a crazy baseball vibe going on.

Team mex fans

I’d love to tell you it was a home country vibe but it was not. Team Mexico’s loyal supporters were out in full effect and the drinking and partying had started way before the game did.

rpr and ra bnw

Once I get inside a ballpark my thinking is as follows…Catch a baseball or two or three, then wander over and see what the autograph situation is. The autograph wall was six rows of people deep and I’d have had better luck standing there in that mob than I did in left field. The left field bleachers were jam-packed with Team USA and Mexico fans desperately looking to bring home one of these.

2013-Rawlings-World-Baseball-Classic-Ball

I believe I can relate.

Now when I say left field was full I mean full like it was the Home Run Derby full. A lot of these folks were willing to get a little bit scrappy in their quest for a ball.  I’ll fight to defend my lady, but there’s no way I’ll fight for a baseball.

 I’ve decided I like Chase Field for ballhawking. Chase Field’s left field bleachers are similar to the Pavilion bleachers at Coors Field and I feel like I can maneuver those shin busters with the best of ‘em.

I needed the baseball Gods to shine on me today but I guess they couldn’t penetrate the retractable roof on Chase Field. It became evident quick that this Ranter would not be taking any WBC baseballs back to his hotel. No WBC balls were caught during BP because they were using regular old MLB baseballs.

Pre-Game shots.

mex 2

mex 3

mex 5

team usa mex 4

mex 6

mex 7

Starting lineups.

Mex 9

mex 8

First pitch.

mex 10

Random game shots. To give you a play by-play I would have had to pay attention.

mex 11

Mex scores WBC

USA WBC1

braun USA WBC2

USA WBC3

usa wbc2

USA WBC4

usa wbc5

usa wbc6

usa wbc7

I’ve been to some loud baseball games but this one by far was the loudest. If I learned one thing by watching and listening to this game I learned that Mexicans take their World Baseball serious as a heart attack. Mike and I kept commenting on the World Cup Soccer feel in this place.

I most definitely am not a fan of World Cup Soccer.

USA wbc9

The noise inside this covered stadium had my head ringing like those matracas that every other fan seemed to have. This thing is the wooden equivalent of nails on a chalk board.

Matraca_01

This overly festive game concluded with a Team Mexico win over Team USA 5-2.

usa wbc8

team mex win

Team mex win 2

Post-game as I was trying to escape from Chase Field I couldn’t figure out if I was impressed or revolted with what I just experienced. I kept thinking…”It’s just baseball this is Nucking Futs”.

I’m “D” the Ranter, Gett’n my dings…Trying new things.

Cheers Yo!

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Kiss My Ass…Why Can’t I Play on the Grass?

3-7-13

My first and last trip to Hohokam Stadium.

Hoho sign

 (Rox Addict and his famous Running Man pose out front).

rox addict hohokum

This joint is the spring training/winter home of the Chicago Cubs. The main reason I won’t be back is because this is Hohukum’s last year housing the Cubs. The Cubs move into a brand new facility next year. This stadium is a lot like other stadiums in the Phoenix area only older and for some strange reason..More expensive?

The Cubs suck because they stick it to their fans during spring training as well as the regular season. The going price here is 20 bucks for a berm ticket…OUCH!

Here’s the other reason I won’t be back.

Mike and I did our usual thing and showed up early for BP. I was stoked because I found out BP would be taking place inside the stadium and this place has a beautiful berm. Well I was stoked until I went inside and actually tried to access the berm. I was told it was off-limits during batting practice. The Usher was kind enough to let me know that as soon as the players were done I could walk anywhere on the berm. Thanks buddy.

WTF?? So I asked the Usher why? He informed me that the cleaning crew were still cleaning the berm. I found this totally unacceptable and walked away pissed that I wasted my time and showed up early. I paid 25 bucks for a crappy grandstand seat and then to be denied access to the berm during BP.

That’s retarded.

So as I was standing along the first base line hoping for a foul ball I observed this.

employee bp

Lined up like ballhawking soldiers are the employees who are supposed to be cleaning the berm. The spent the entire batting practice chasing home run balls. I was jealous and pissed at the same time. Getting paid to snag baseballs that’s my f’kn dream job.

In reality all I can do is let you know how jacked up I think that is.

So now you know.

Today, the plan was to meet up with my folks at the stadium and take in a game.

rpr and parents

We did just that. Beautiful day too. Mom and Pops thanks for coming up :).

Cool looking old stadium.

shot of hoho2

shot of hoho 3

shot of hoho4

A few game shots.

sox at bat  hoho

play on second hoho

Fans scrambling for a home run ball.

cubies fans home run

A packed left field berm.

hoho packed berm

A packed right field berm.

packed right field berm

crazy vendor hoho

Some aerial entertainment.

aerial entertainment hoho

I didn’t kill it with pictures today. It was fun just hang’n with my folks and watching the game feeling lucky to be warm.

Final Score.

final score scoreboard hoho

White Sox cream the cheap ass Cubbies 8-3.

You can tell rain is a coming.

rain coming  hoho

No worries, next game is a WBC game and it’s indoors :)

I’m “D” the Ranter and I will ballhawk for cash.

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Back in the Game…Tulo’s the Same

3-6-12

st 13 scoreboard

When the plane landed in Phoenix we headed immediately to the car rental joint, picked up a snazzy Ford Focus, then drove straight to Talking Stick. We rolled up about 9:30 and the facility couldn’t have been prettier. The sun was shining with temperature in the mid 60’s. Being the first fan to ever attend a game here I have a special affiliation with Salt River Fields at Talking Stick even if there’s only a handful of fans that know of my accomplishment.

We meandered the backfields in search of anyone partaking in a little batting practice. It was eerily quiet on the Rockies side. ‘cept for a wee bit of minor league action going on so I hung out on the side lines and it paid off.  I managed to snag two foul balls in a 10 minute time frame. Back in the game!

The goal was to see Team USA warm-up and we learned that they wouldn’t be out till this afternoon. At that point we figured it was time to take a visit to the local In and Out Burger and then check into our room. On the way back to the car I spotted my third ball of the day.

My first Easter egg of the season!

rpr in and out 13

Food and hotel taken care of it was back to Salt River Fields where Mike and I ran into Eric B. After a quick hello I took off as I noticed Team USA was beginning to take BP on the D-backs side (bonus)!

There were probably 20 other ballhawks out in left field all salivating at the chance to snag a USA World Baseball. I hung out there for 45 minutes and had play on three balls. One I managed to snag as it bounced off of the gravel. I looked at it and unfortunately it was just a regular old MLB baseball.

That sucked!

Not long after that I witnessed the Rox Addict snag one on the fly. His was a plain old MLB ball too. I’ll give him big props as it was a sweet catch in the tip of his glove and he was surrounded by greedy ballhawks.

Tonight’s game was the Rockies vs Team USA. I had a seat in the front row along the Rockies side so I used the opportunity to snag a few autographs. I managed to get Todd Helton, Tyler Colvin, Dante Bichette,  Jordan Pacheco and Eric Young Jr.

autos st 13-1

I have a great picture of Tulo in the Snow I’d love autographed, but as is usually the case “The Deuce” took the low road and exited the field ignoring his fans.

deuce st 13

The redeye flight and no sleep was catching up with me so I took just a couple of pictures during the game and spent the last part of the game hang’n with Jersey Geoff, his buddy Mike, and the Rox Addict.

Rockies pitch st 13

Hererra st 13

Ey after st 13

USA team st13

Rockies made it interesting in the 9th after trailing the entire game and actually pulled out a win. Funny though, Rockies did Team USA no favors when they actually had to loan them a few pitchers.

Final Score rox vs usa st 13

The four of us ended up in the outfield with absolutely no competition for home run balls and wouldn’t you know it,  diddly squat came our way. You have no idea how funny it would have been had a home run been hit in our general direction. The scramble for that ball by the four of us would have been hilarious.

I’m “D” the Ranter and today was an excellent first day! My only goals for the first day were to bust out some shorts for the first time in 6 months and get a nice sunburn started.

Mission Accomplished!

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