Sunday, September 05, 2004

U.S. Cellular Field, and the White Sox: Where America Lives

I bailed out from APSA and went to White Sox games. Italian sausage, beer, loud folks in the stands. A drunk guy ran onto the field, HOLDING A BEER ("I'd better take along something to drink, in case I get thirsty!"), and was still fast enough to elude the "security" guys. When they did run him down, they beat hell out of him, discreetly, with knees and elbows, right in center field. Actual holes in the turf where the carnage took place; guy was bloody. Great American entertainment.

Later, a Mariners batter got the high-n-tite treatment on a pitch, and fell on his back, hard. A fan a couple of seats to my right immediately yells (to the White Sox catcher): "Kick him! Kick him in the head!"

On the other hand, the Mariners' nonpareil, Ichiro, went five for five, and got a nice standing ovation from the White Sox fans. He tipped his hat. The four of us attending the game together agreed: with his off-balance stance and weak little swing, Ichiro will never succeed as a hitter.

Best moment of the two games I saw: White Sox bullpen is so bad, they fritter away a 8-3 lead. Bajenaru gives up hits and walks, until it's 8-5. Then the Sox management bring out their frisbee-throwing pet hamster, "Shingo" Takatsu. Big production: gongs, "Shingo Time!" on the big screen, loud music, Japanese characters on the really big screen. He has 15 saves for the year; some closers get that in a month. Of course, your team has to win to get a save, so maybe it isn't all Shingo's fault.

Shingo strikes out Edgar Martinez (Edgar: retire, please; this is embarrassing) on pitches that look like wads of tissue paper (Shingo's fastball is 89, if the radar is feeling friendly). Now there are two outs and the bases are loaded; Sox still up 8-5.

The Mariners' Ibanez creams a low liner to right, his third hit of the night. (This means that Shingo gives up two more runs, neither of them earned for him, because Bajenaru put them on base. Shingo is no bargain for other pitchers' ERAs). Two runs score easily, so it's 8-7. But, for some reason, Boone (who had been on first) decides he needs to be on third base. Why did he go for third, with two outs? He's already on second, in scoring position, with Bucky Jacobson, mountain-size phenom, coming to the plate. But Boone scoots for third, is thrown out by a step. The game is over, on Boone's boner. Shingo gets another save (now he has 16). The White Sox shoot off fireworks, and then there is a real fireworks display, made to seem less loud by the truly deafening "best of the 70s, 80s, and today!" pseudo-rock blaring from the speakers. An exquisite evening in the heartland.