2011…Summer of the letdown?

Question. How complex must some phenomenon, X, be before nobody deems one specific revolution of the sun “the time of X”? I’m not referring to the UN or whoever dubbing something “the time of X” prior to the time, to promote knowledge of X. (2011 is for forests, it looks like–I Googled.) I’m not referring to the Chinese system, either. No, I’m thinking (on one end) of 2010’s “for pitchers! for no-hitters!” discussion.

I’ve posted on this subject before. I think it’s dumb to dub 2010 the property of such constructs, if it’s still 2010. It’ll just predispose you to squinting, bending numbers so you might point, going “ooh, see! More excellent pitching!” I don’t deny it, we witnessed excellent pitching in 2010. But the gun-jumping occurred too quickly.

I’m risking committing this error, now, for I wish to point out some events which feel linked to me. Possibly not. Possibly it’s just me seeing “oh, wow, how weird these twists were!” Or “this would be so upsetting, were I on the losing end.” Or “I should blog on this result, but is there something new to point out?” I put these off for some time (except the third, which only just occurred), but I do see some kind of trend.

June Twenty-fourth through Twenty-sixth. I get some of the criticisms. “Junior versus Senior Circuit competitions will not work. The schedule is not even. You will get weird results between divisions. Don’t do it.” So, I see the need to work on preserving even schedules for such encounters.

But, the U2 rock tour pushed NL Fish out of their preferred environment, up to the other corner of the country for one series. They hit second. The pitchers hit. Senior Circuit rules…inside some Junior Circuit field. The Fish lost two of three, the third in the tenth due to Steve Cishek’s wild pitch while they were letting someone go to first uncontested. (Someone once wrote this goofy list (bottom of 81) to prohibit the suggested move of just sending people to first without throwing. Now we see why it’s truly useful!) This hurt the Fish’ home record, ESPN’s website notes, for they were the home side. Kind of. Their 2011-long ticket-holders will go to 78 contests. This is not in itself weird (you could skip some contests due to inclemency, even in their legit home), but still feels like letdowns do.

Did things get less weird for the “hosts”‘ Senior Circuit encounters?

No. No they did not.

July Third. Hosting, truly this time, fellow West Divisioners, they lost in nine innings. The only run scored in the fifth inning, with the runner on to begin with from pitcher Doug Fister’s BB. How did this occur? Fister missed the strike zone with the count seeming full. The true numbers were 2-2, the score sign being off.

I’ve been to this field. I’ve kept score there. I’ve used the electronic signs to help me (I didn’t get in on time, so needed to copy down the first few results). I decided, with no field I’ve seen since then convincing me otherwise, it is the uncontested best field for keeping score in. Plenty of helpful things.

But then this occurred.

Letdown? I’m thinking.

July Twenty-Sixth (into the morning of the twenty-seventh). Pittsburgh loses in the nineteenth inning, definitely exceeding the Boston/New York thing I posted on recently. Nine, plus nine, plus one. The kind of scoreline worth discussing just for being long. However, we discuss it due to controversy over the winning run. Not some utter blunder like the non-full full count, but something which turned out to be wrong, or possibly right in the end? We’re not sure. Third big letdown, just from those I’d kept thinking of to possibly post on.

So is 2011 the summer of the “oh, come on?” result? Could be. But I could still be rushing into things. It’s possible I only remember these for their interesting occurrences. When records get broken or blowout wins occur, those become big news–very telling, in terms of wins or losses, versus these stupid flukes. But writing’s got much to do with the funny things to pick up on, thus remembering.

One more note. You might wonder how decided to write on these results, right now? Well, when I viewed someone’s comment on some other encounter, I went, “Ooh! This gives me the theme I need to combine this fourth contest with the preceding three, to write some epic blog post!” It turns out I misinterpreted their comment. So now I’m just left with these three. Letdown four, surprisingly enough! Possibly my thoughts on this new contest will show up in other posts. Possibly not.

Rockies 4, Cubs 3

The wind blew out, bringing Rockies’ home runs with it. The first two were thrown onto the field; the third Helton’s second of the night, got hit to green center, merely needing to bounce in its return to the field.

The structure on top of center field, next to its electronic peers in the upper deck, didn’t quite seem iconic. They weren’t in sync, with the legend behind the times. It couldn’t fit every Senior Circuit result, not even including every competition involving those in the Cubs’ division. Still, I didn’t need to know (though the electronic ones told me) the Bulls clinched something. I sort of minded the hockey score (1-0 in the first, the Cubs’ neighbors losing), though. Hockey is cool.

But let’s return to the green grid. It showed us four ones, once; the count 1-1, one out, Kosuke Fukudome hitting (turning thirty-four, music informed us). Super wild.

I noticed them removing the line scores for the White Sox when they finished, with just the end score left behind. But the column for the result is titled 10, in line with the 1-9 next to it!

The electronic sign directly under this didn’t impress me, either. There, I found out the Cubs’ fourth hitter got his 1,000th RBI on 4/10/10. Good for him, but did he do nothing else in the previous twelve months? Plus, their first hitter is hitting (.500) when hitting first. Still excellent, but why ()? It told us 38,261 were there, but this figure seemed quite high. They showed some promotion for keeping Wrigley green like the ivy. So, not green?

This isn’t to suggest the upper deck ones were so good. During the pre-competition music, it showed Old Glory in windy style, though wind blew plenty to begin with! It died down, though, until I could see retired numbers billowing in right field but not left. Might’ve just been some trick of my position.

The good news they showed, sort of, were digits next to the Cubs’ fourth relief pitcher; “5.59.” Not excellent, but when my scoresheet got printed, they were 8.10. He, if nothing else, showed up on the roster list. This didn’t hold for their first reliever who just got brought up from the minors, very recently indeed. This boded poorly. Though he wound up pitching fine, going two innings while conceding no runs on one hit.

Enough of the scores, then. Other things I noticed:

The Cubs’ shortstop writing stuff in the dirt before the top of the first.
The Rockies’ second hitter (fielding second, too), putting some kind of big plus sign in the box in the top of the first.
The beer vendor conversing with the guy in front of me, wondering if someone they both knew would be there for the next home series.
Five guys with instruments, moving from section to section, performing between innings.
People cheering for outfielders to throw them souvenirs. I thought they were trying to get everyone to get up, section by section. Shows where I’m from, I guess.
“95th,” doubly reversed, blinking, next to my reflection in the window, with blue light from the Red Line lighting up the city beyond.

Week In Review: 4/11-17

So, this is closer to how I perceived this blog going. This might occur weekly–short blurbs of interesting competitions from the previous week. Hopefully it’ll help me keep up with goings-on in cities I don’t tend to follow.

My editor helped out too.

4/11: Two perfecto-hurlers dueled in Illinois. Would it, too, be hitless? The White Sox were, until Rios’ single in the fourth. Their opponents were, too, until Kurt Suzuki’s single in the sixth. People were very excited, due to the one-hitter in progress, expressing their convictions: “2011 is the summer of the one-hitter! It’s got “ones” in it! Like zeroes in 2010, the summer of the no-hitter, you know?”

[This didn’t truly occur. -ed]

But the pitchers’ duel continued, still 1-0 into the ninth. Then, however, Pierre’s (the White Sox’ left fielder) error brought in the tying run. Suzuki would homer in the top of the tenth to win it, with poor Pierre grounding into the finishing out.

4/12: Ohio might rock–the Tribe sit in first in their division now–but they didn’t here. No, they lost 2-0, with Bourjos going deep solo (Trumbo, too). But were these homers the big surprise? Possibly to Trumbo, who hit his first. The true news story, though, involved the opposing pitcher, who…held the Tribe to one hit, Shin-Soo Choo’s fourth-inning single. Then there were lots of comments describing how this would…

[Nope, nope there still weren’t. -ed] Bleep it, you people jump to conclusions but then don’t jump to conclusions when it would be funny. Oh well.

4/13: Bonds found guilty of obstruction of justice. [Not defensive obstruction, which occurs when fielders illicitly impede the progress of runners. This is difficult to pull off from left field. -ed] Though, he stole lots, once. Possibly he could run in quickly enough. The point is, this didn’t occur here.

4/15: MLB honors Robinson. This seems to occur pretty well in to the spring. Not beginning in the common month helps. The new website, I’m 42, includes Tweets, pictures, videos, but no Deep Thought. [Well, discussing the end of the color line is deep thought, I suppose. -ed]

Quiet, you.

4/17: The Twins choose their new closer. Once more. Considering how much bullpen strength they got themselves the previous summer, this should not present problems for them. Wonder how much more they’ll wind up with before this summer finishes? It could be lots.

Non-lipogramatically, new sidebar link: Value Over Replacement Grit, some great baseball stuff (involving lots of wordplay!) from Humbug alum dianagram. Scrabble fans, check this out.

Hockey Muse: Revenge of the Sieve

…or not.

The Buckeyes’ niche in my memory is fond; seeing them lose, I first listened to providers of pep music shout their ridiculous insults. Time went on, but seeing them get destroyed reminds me; some cruel insults, to my gleeful delight never get old. (Though this time, some self-censorship occurred during the concluding line. No problem. I know how it should go.)

The pep yells weren’t completely de rigueur; this competition, unlike previous ones, included them extolling whichever food (i.e. pretzels) they were enjoying. Plus, when the guy in the booth told us “One minute left in this period, one minute”, they responded by giving responding yells which prompted him to tell them “You’re welcome.” Fine, except they didn’t begin the proceedings by inquiring, “Hey, “ref”, how much time is left?” Silly omission. Oh well.

But the competition itself kept us interested. We scored quickly, the scorer’s eighth of the winter (to put her in first for our side). Then, one of the others served two minutes for hooking. She returned to the ice without incident. Concluding kills would be simple, one of ours duly went to the box.

Turns out, we scored then too. The scorer moved to the net by herself for her eighth of the winter (thus tying her for first). Soon enough, “full strength!” The pep crowd points out our strength is consistently full, five on the ice or six.

We scored the third time to begin the second; this, plus the netminders switching ends, prompted yet more snicker-worthy insults. Closer to the end of the second, I didn’t think the puck crossed their line, but the guy in the box thought it did. So, it’s someone else’s eighth for us, tying her…well, you get it by now.

“FIX” is how the reverse of one ref’s jersey looks. The result is predetermined? Oops.

The third begins with less excitement. Oh well, we don’t need to score twice in every period. Or do we? There’s our fifth, with five minutes left…

“One minute left,” once more, with no preceding question. But it’s fine. With forty-two seconds left, we score once more.

The insults write themselves sometimes.

e rigueur

Substitution

It’s the eighty-eighth minute. One of D.C. United is lying on the pitch. This is not the first time.

Or the second.

The ref needed to run in reverse, before, running from someone giving his opinion on the decision. One of lots of someones–the supporters, too, yell their opinions. “Milk!” someone behind me suggests to the D.C. United person. “It gives you strong bones!”

Were the Fire better? Not score-wise; they were tied 0-0. Oh, the Fire kicked two shots into the net, but neither counted. Let’s put it like this; the supporters didn’t like these decisions, either.

Sorry. “The supporters?” There were some in the end where you stood most of the time, hopping, yelling, insulting. There were some on the other end, with drums. But we were there, too. In the midfield, good tickets, trying to pick out the yells. Cheering “Fire!” sometimes, echoing “McBride!” too, but not so…loud. Not so supportive of bookings to the Fire’s benefit, not so crushed by those helping out D.C. United.

Which is why I, trying to be sort of objective while still rooting, wondered whether the Fire were…well, whether D.C. United were being unscrupulous, first off. Secondly, if the Fire were. I didn’t know–the thing is, I’m not good with quickly interpreting people’s movements even in sports I like or know well. I’ve seen countless pitches thrown on TV or in person, but I couldn’t tell you “oh, those were sliders”. It’s just not my skill. So I definitely couldn’t tell you who dove or who truly got hurt, from either side…it looked like the Fire spent less time lying on the ground, but possibly they just hurt their opponents more. Or my rooting blinded me to the truth.

Though this suggests the extreme supporters, who surely see things with more insight, couldn’t know either.

So whoever it is is just lying there. Suddenly it’s McBride right behind him, gesturing. To who? The ref–“hey, injury over here”? The rest of the Fire–“stop, guys, he’s hurt”? I wished for him to be doing something nice. They’d been honoring him throughout with video clips. Little kids wore “We’ll Miss You, #20” t-shirts. I hoped for him to be the nice guy.

But I couldn’t tell.

Fire substitution. Fire substitution? It’s the other guy who’s…

Oh.

He exits slowly while we rise, cheering. He hugs one opponent, plus some of the Fire. Why substitute him out? I find out, once I’ve left, it occurred on purpose. Just so we–the yellers, drummers, one-sided, insulting, even those of us who weren’t those things–would get to recognize him.

I still don’t get this sport.

Four minutes more beyond the two which were left, but no scoring. They held some sort of tribute ceremony following the competition, but I left. When we were pulling out of the lot, there were loud noises.

Weird. Very extreme rooters?

There they were once more.

I turned to see fireworks rise over Bridgeview.

Purple Line Express

The Purple Line Express by itself is enough to inspire your music group to title itself in honor of El lines or buses. Dempster? Wells? Welington [sic]? Unless you get sued, which stinks, it’s truly inspiring.

Riding through “Dempster” seemed to be ominous–like, it’s some sort of omen. It turned out to be just ominous. We got out before Belmont, where the purple line would continue to if the Cubs were off, so didn’t get close to Wellington or Wells. Our long climb to the 500 level worked out well, since we were shielded from strong winds, but we didn’t get there for the lineups. The first visiting hitter used to be on the Cubs; forgetting he’d left, I didn’t write him down.

By the time Cubs got up, they were losing 1-0. Their positions sounded less blurry to begin with, but throughout the night there were lots of substitutions which sounded pretty blurry. Lots of them were defensive, so I couldn’t just look for their numbers. So, my scorekeeping didn’t work out perfectly.

The second inning. Oh, the second inning. Jose Guillen led off, getting hit by two of Dempster’s pitches–there is precedent for this sort of thing, but not much. (Guillen is the fourth to do so.) Their pitcher got two hits. The reliever surrendered four RBIs on one swing.

Guillen led off the fourth. (Innings three through ten, unsurprisingly, I crossed off keeping score, putting n-1 in the box n previously occupied.) This time he got his own hit, but did not come in. He would’ve led off the sixth, too, but Schierholtz pinch hit for him. Pity. Could’ve seen him go for some record.

One of Soldier Field’s residents led us during the seventh inning stretch. The guy behind me yelled “Let’s get some touchdowns!”

They didn’t. Not even with Welington pinch-hitting in the ninth.

There weren’t long lines to get on the Red Line, either.

But I still think you could write CDs from these stops. Even if “Dempster” is dirgelike.

Jinx working in mysterious style?

This is for you, you who I do not expect to ever meet, nor whom I’m sure exist. I’m just guessing you’re out there, somewhere. Most likely Detroit. Thinking of how I’d be, in your shoes–following the Tigers, not wondering if the Cubs would get in their competition–it seems like you should exist. Just guessing.

But it’s foolish to guess, this month. With tiny odds coming through time beyond time, how should I know you spoke like I figure you did? Considering Tigers supporters, it’s sensible to guess some followed. Some spoke. Some viewed the end, viewed history turn into something else. Did you shoulder the guilt of destroying it?

It’s sensible to guess you’re out there, but sense is untrustworthy now.

Even now, my feeling on reviewing umpiring decisions isn’t strong. I guess I don’t truly trust televised clips to bring utter precision. It’s one thing to sit in my home, seeing my TV while listening to its voices go “Oh, he seems to be out.” But to expect this technology to provide complete rulings? Someone must still judge the film, which must be from useful perspectives. Think of outfielders running to corners of fields; could someone swivel the lens in time? Someone must rule.  How to choose who?

None of us–supporters, filmers, TV voices, umpires, robots–touch perfection.

Will this be written off with “not quite”s? Grow into something unique, not like other impressive jobs but distinctively well-known? Or is it just the footnote to the odd story of this weird month?

No, it isn’t. Linguistic prohibition is the norm in this blog, so I’ll tell you right now; I will not let myself refer to this by the title of “the footnote”. For it might not be unique. Oh, no other competition is likely to go quite like this soon. But onetime flukes grow ever more common, so nothing’s sure. This might not be the end of this odd sequence of events. Just when you think it’s finished, it could surprise us once more.

You spoke out. The umpire spoke…something besides “out”. Coincidence? Most likely, though it’s difficult for those like us to believe.

So I’ll keep quiet for now, not deeming this the end of spring or the beginning of summer. There’s more pitching to be done.

Oh, P. S.: the text on the right column of the blog is oddly true this spring.