Thursday, April 9, 2009

TBG Travel Diary: Anaheim, CA – Part I

Tuesday, April 7

2:45 PM - I'm trying to explain to my five-year-old baseball-loving son why he can't go with daddy to the A's/Angels game in Anaheim later in the evening. "J, it's a really long drive"…"J, they say it might rain"…"J, we'll go to plenty of games this year"

(I'm almost starting to feel guilty…until Mrs. Bootleg dusts off her usual "Aaron's going out with his friend(s)" performance. The 2:45 PM show included a dramatic shuffle to the couch, where she gingerly laid down while exaggeratedly rubbing her temples. With her last gasps of breath, she softly asked for an Advil-n-water cocktail. Mrs. Bootleg then closed her eyes and awaited the reaper, apparently.)

4:00 PM - I have no clue if Mrs. Bootleg is still alive, but on the bright side, I've made almost record time to Anaheim. Armed with my iPod and the last known active satellite radio account, I reached the off-ramp in less than 75 minutes. Will Smith didn't make time like this while he was driving the main drag in I Am Legend. I don't see many movies anymore, so that's the best, timeliest reference I've got. HATED the movie, though. Smith doesn't "act", so much as he "makes faces". Moving on.

4:15 PM - M'man Smitty rolls up. I've known him since ninth grade. Of the 800 A's fans left in America, he and I are the only two who've never lived in the Bay Area. We've been doing these A's/Angels games in Anaheim since 1989. Ours is a unique friendship. He's white, I'm black. He's bald, I'm only balding. He's ultra-conservative, I'm a "socialist" and a "fascist", who "deep down inside secretly longs for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule me like a king". His words. Mostly.

4:30 PM - Our favorite pre-game watering hole is apparently under new ownership. It's still a sports bar, but everything is…a little off. I beat Smitty to the obvious "the fire hydrants here are YELLOW!" Simpsons quote. In his defense, though, Smitty's acidic wit may have been in remission as our scantily-clad server bore an uncanny resemblance to WWE Diva Michelle McCool. Aaron approves.

4:45 PM - This is my first experience with Kona Brewing Company's Fire Rock Pale Ale. Due to the myriad of meds I've been on, I haven't had much of a chance to expand my beer snobbery in recent weeks. Consequently, I don't want to exaggerate the moment…but, this beer was the equivalent of m'man Deion Sanders coming back to baseball after a three year absence and going 3 for 4 with a home run, 3 RBI and a stolen base in his first game back with the Reds in 2001.

5:15 PM - Smitty is absolutely apoplectic. ESPN's is about to air the finals of the women's NCAA basketball tournament. During the pre-game, one of the topics of discussion was whether a Louisville win over Connecticut would be the greatest upset in sports history. ALL of sports history. As in men and women. There are few things Smitty is passionate about. Ironically enough, the complete list is: his wife, his daughter and keeping women in their place. Put it this way: he's the only white man on earth who regularly quotes the semi-famous line from James Evans on Good Times: "The kitchen and the bedroom, Florida! The kitchen and the bedroom!"

6:00 PM - Our seats are in Section 127-Row P. Field level, overlooking first base. These were someone's season tickets, so Smitty and I are getting the usual "uh oh, A's fans!" ribbing from Angels fans. 20 years ago, we took pride in how obnoxious we could be – former Angel Rob Ducey flipped us the bird during one game, reliever Mike Fetters threw the remains of his in-game meal at us in another – but, in our old age, we just want to watch the game, people. We've matured.

6:15 PM - OMG~! The amount of hotness here tonight is INSANE! The Angels' fanbase may be a fatuous n' fair-weather lot, but the young women who come to games here are the best-looking in baseball. There is a downside, however, as the 18-to-24-year-old groupies are equaled by the 40-and-over cougars who've been demoted to slump-busters for the coaches, broadcasters and uglier ballplayers.

6:30 PM - For the third or fourth straight Angels/A's game I've attended, I'm wearing the psychedelic yellow throwback jersey of former A's arm John "Blue Moon" Odom. We've had a nice little winning streak in those games and it's entirely attributable to me. As previously posted, Odom lives in the area and is an Angels season ticket holder himself. His wife saw my jersey and chatted me up. Favorite revelation: she HATES Reggie Jackson. I can't do her tone any justice. Let's just say Reggie had better not be walking alone at night in her neighborhood.

6:55 PM - OK, fans, get out your scorecards ("score…cards"?) here's the starting line-up for the visiting Oakland Athletics! Hmmm…second game of the season and Matt Holliday is nowhere to be found. Smitty and I immediately think the worse. (After the game, the A's announced that Holliday simply had the scoots.) Speaking of cynicism, our starting pitcher – making his Major League debut – Trevor Cahill!

Hey, where's that ominous music coming from?

Next: A's vs. Angels!


SHough610 said...

Where's my LOST post? C'mon Cam! I count on you for these things.

I find myself reading your blog and nodding to myself and thinking "I'll bet you he noticed Spike Lee hasn't written a good movie since Malcolm X!" (sorry, I'm a film major and didn't want to rip off Homer's line about Ziggy getting too preachy.

By the way, I know you hate Bill Simmons, but I thought he had a great quote about Reggie Jackson in relation to clubhouse chemistry:
"Don't believe me? Read Sparky Lyle's "The Bronx Zoo" for the hilarious Reggie Jackson stories. Reggie made Bonds seem more saintly than the blind guy on "American Idol." There was no bigger jerk or attention hog. During an era in which ballplayers behaved a certain way (reserved, respectful, hard-nosed, unselfish), Reggie made his own rules. For that, his teammates reviled him. Actually, they probably wanted to strangle him.

They also won the 1977 and '78 World Series with him.

Throw in three titles in Oakland and Reggie Jackson -- the biggest clubhouse cancer of his generation -- won five rings in seven years."

I know this has become the Moby Dick of blog comment posts but I wanted your (and Mathan's) opinion on something. I hold duel citizenship as a fan of the Red Sox and the Phillies (I grew up in Central Va, my parents had fallen in love in the mid-70's when they lived in Cambridge, Mass and had my brother in Phila, so I grew up rooting for the Eagles, Phillies, Red Sox, Celtics, and Flyers. I might be the only person on the planet who jumped OFF the Red Sox bandwagon after the '04 title. The team that had been my number one baseball club lost out to the Phillies because the Phillies didn't have the obnoxious bandwagon fans, i could catch ALL their games in person or on TV and they had a likeable core of young players, but I'm seriously digressing) and have hated Roger Clemens ever since he waddled off to Toronto. For YEARS (I'm talking since about '03 or '04) before the Mitchell Report I argued with one of my best friends about Clemens steroid use. He claimed that he thought Bonds was dirty as hell, but that Clemens was just a "hard worker".

Do you think that Clemens got a pass because of his race? Clemens is a legendary dick, a guy who chased money his whole career (to the point of alienating three fan bases), and came up famously in the clutch (the first time I cried over sports was when Roger threw his temper-tantrum when playing the A's in the 90 playoffs. Remember when Dave Stewart used to OWN Roger?) So why did he get a pass when Bonds was the steroid poster boy? How much do you think race had to play in the whole thing?

That Bootleg Guy said...

Race certainly played SOME part in the Clemens vs. Bonds dichotomy, but your guess is as good as mine as to how much.

I'm not accusing Bonds' detractors of being racist, but I do believe that it's easier for people who aren't Black (like, say, the majority of baseball fans and media) to vilify a Black athlete. And, yes, I suppose the converse holds true.

One of my biggest beefs with the Bonds coverage was always how personal the criticism seemed to be. The media abhorred the guy and made no attempt to hide their supposed impartiality when writing about him. When Bonds was essentially ran out of the game, the media couldn't contain their glee.

Clemens, OTOH, always got the benefit of the doubt. In fact, Bill Simmons (who I actually *do* like, for the most part) was one of the only voices in the media who asked how Clemens could still be effective after his career was at a crossroads in '96.