Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Shiny metallic hats, wins for Bannister, piles of meat

Rain and cold aren't the most ideal conditions for a baseball road trip, but my brothers, friends, and I are either really good fans or really stupid so we forged southward anyway for the Royals' Home Opener. We also forgot how exactly to get to Gates BBQ ("HIMAYIHELPYOU"), but luckily we found it right before having the discussion about where to eat instead. (Wendy's is OK on its own, but is not a suitable substitute for piles of meat at Gates.) I almost finished off a mixed plate on my own, which is a whole lot of food, and I am simultaneously proud and ashamed. Now you know. Last time my brothers (etc.) and I ate there, it was Opening Day last year and we got to watch Alex Rodriguez strike out on TV as we prepared to watch the Royals take on Boston that afternoon. Today we made some comment about hopefully getting to see him do that in person this time around.

So then, we tried to park in our usual area, by entering Gate 2, but were waved around to approximately the middle of Utah instead and had to miss a bunch of pregame festivities and CrownVision ogling before the game.

Brian Bannister, not a strikeout guy, got Alex Rodriguez, also not a strikeout guy, to go down looking three different times. And Ramon Ramirez got him a fourth time, giving him the distinct honor of what I think is his second Golden Sombrero at Kauffman Stadium (Update: No, it isn't his 2nd. My brothers and I misremembered a 3-strikeout performance as a Sombrero de Oro. My bad.) . That alone was worth the trip, the shivering, sniffles, parking (NIGHTMARE), the 6-mile hike to the stadium, and putting up with not-so-baseball-savvy fans everywhere. (They were non-savvy in many different ways. Some were just generally clueless of the MLB: "Johnny Damon is with the Yankees now? How long has that been happening? I wonder if his hair is still all long." Some were clueless of specific Royals: "Come on Bannister, just rock and fire! Rock and fire!" Yep, guy, that's all that goes into Bannister's pitching...just rock and fire. He said this every 2.4 pitches; I counted. Still other fans were simply confused as to what sport they were watching: "Rock chalk Jayhawk!") (Some Bannister goodness for you -- thanks Seidman!)

We also got to see a Royal finally take another base on balls, and it was the improbably Tony Pena, Jr. My Call of the Day goes to my brother Ryan, who texted me this after the Pena walk: "I don't get it. He just ran to first without swinging?" But four other Royals ended up walking, which is the most the team has drawn in a game so far. Hopefully that's something the team can continue to do better.

Now I must go retire, but first some linkage:
- Bill James Daily Matchups are free throughout all of April. They show past data for every pitcher/batter matchup in every MLB game every day. Get this while it's free, because it's always good to know these things. You could use them to help you become an analyst for watching games with your friends (and mute Morgan).

- The O-Royals won without me there, and it looks like Mike Aviles was the hero.

- The KC Star's Royals page has a new look, same great taste.

- I love Joakim Soria. (That's not news, but a general excuse to behold his greatness.)

- Rany is Randomly on the Royals today.

- The Tigers lost again; they are 0-7.

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