Saturday, July 28, 2001

Luke's Codes of Baseball Etiquette, one in a series:

Sandy is correct: It is wrong to use a cell phone at a baseball game. This is not because it is immoral, as he suggests, nor because cell phone users tend to be loud and boorish. Cell phones are inappropriate because they defeat the very purpose of going to a game.

The ballpark is a sanctuary. Within its borders there is no overdue rent, no bear market, no Middle East peace crisis. This is especially true at Wrigley Field, where no rock music blares and few advertisements distract from play. Contrast this with Pac Bell Park: Although it is a favorite, a stock ticker hangs in left field, and one can log in at an Internet kiosk on the way to the can. Painting the Green Monster pink would be a slighter blemish.

Like the ticker and kiosks, a cell phone violates the sanctuary. It casts an unwelcome line to the outside, transporting not only its user away from the game, but also anyone forced to watch. When I see a phone, I am reminded that, alas, there is a world outside the friendly confines, a world whose many problems I had hoped to escape by taking in a game. Three hours' refuge, that's all I ask.

I'll concede a few exceptions. If a surgeon is playing hooky and must talk a colleague through a procedure, using a cell phone is right and proper, though I would prefer she take it to a restroom stall. And if a fan thinks he is being caught on TV, it is right and proper to call a buddy and tell him to tune in. However, this call must be brief, lest a camera pan and catch him with a jerkphone to his ear. A greater humiliation, I cannot imagine.


Friday, July 27, 2001

Last night we watched the DeNiro/Moriarty version of "Bang the Drum Slowly." I don't think I'll be adjusting my top-five list, but we may sneak in a game of T.E.G.W.A.R. on our trip.


Thursday, July 26, 2001

About an hour before each game, Wrigley Field releases unused VIP seats. Sandy and I tried this for today's game and ended up with the best seats I've ever had: Section 14, Row 8, just a few yards from the "S" of the Cubs dugout. Look for us on the highlights tonight. Sandy is wearing a navy blue shirt, and I am wearing what appears to be a white T-shirt but is in fact my bare chest.

In the seventh, I explained to Sandy the double switch. Once he has the infield-fly rule down pat, we'll be good to go.


A reader wrote in with a good point. Actually, she wrote in twice, with two good points.

"i already donated some gas money, but i wanted my 2 yr old godson and his friend to get a postcard from great baseball stadiums."

What a fantastic idea. We'll be happy to send off your postcard to anyone you'd like. Want your Boston-loving brother to receive a postcard from Fenway while he's off at college? We'll be more than happy to oblige. Luke and I are continually amazed at the generous support we've gotten for our trip. If we can help propagate family bonding while paying back our donors, it's our pleasure.

"how will we find you using the seating charts if you'll be upgrading your seats?"

Heh, nice catch. But like Luke said, I don't think we'll be doing a lot of upgrading on this trip. We'll be spending much of our time soaking in the beauty of these ballparks; we don't want to risk getting booted out by a power-hungry usher. Furthermore, five of the seven games we're seeing are either at night or on the weekend, two ingredients that make the chances of finding a pair of empty chairs quite low.

How's this: We promise to stay in our designated, pre-purchased seats through the 4th inning. If you're interested in stopping by to say hi, please do so before then. After that, no guarantees. (You're always free to call me on my cell phone -- I'll post the number here before we take off -- though I'll have to duck away from Luke to answer your call. I think he's got some moral objection to using a cell phone in a ballpark. Crazy kid.)


Wednesday, July 25, 2001

Big Ben wonders where my list of top five baseball movies is, and it is here:

1. "The Natural"
2. "The Pride of the Yankees"
3. "Field of Dreams"
4. "Major League"
5. "The Bad News Bears"

This may be shuffled if I have a chance to rent "Bang the Drum Slowly" this weekend.

I once rated "Field of Dreams" much higher. In high school, I had Terence Mann's "people will come" speech memorized. Where others would write Bon Jovi lyrics on their binders, I would write "America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers ..." Now, however, the whole movie seems pretty hokey, and the speech in particular smacks of nostalgia at its myopic worst.

An amusing side story: After seeing the movie, I went and read the book upon which it was based, which was excellent. The original story had J.D. Salinger as the author drawn out of reclusion. Upon reading this, I went and read "Catcher in the Rye." For that first reading and for months afterward, I assumed J.D. Salinger was black, since in the movie the reclusive author had been played by James Earl Jones. "Golly," I thought to myself. "For a black man, he has incredible insight into the mind of a white teenager!"

Oh, and the next time you're near a baseball encyclopedia, look up "Archibald Graham." Sure enough, he existed: 1 G, 0 AB.


Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Of the seven games we're going to see, we've already bought tickets for six of them. Phillies games, we've been told, don't attract close to the same size crowd as any of our other games, so we're waiting until we get to Veterans Stadium to buy tickets. The total cost of the six games so far? $136.65 per person. It ain't cheap.

I'll detail our seats here, one game at a time. If you happen to be at one of these games, stop by our seats for more tales of our trip. You'll be treated to the exclusive directors' cut of the stories we post here. And we've been known to be pretty generous with our peanuts.

Game number one is at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Sunday, September 2, 1:35 p.m. Seattle Mariners vs. Baltimore Orioles. Our seats are in section 334 UB, right behind home plate. Here's a diagram of the stadium, as swiped from the Orioles' web site (the arrow is ours):

Camden Yards

Fan opinion of this section is mixed, but from a picture of the supposed view from these seats, it looks like they're pretty damn good. Potential for picking up a souvenir ball is decent. Overall grade: B.



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