Some years ago, when interleague play first started, I went to a Phils-Orioles game at the Yard wearing an O's jersey and a Phils hat. I had no problem deciding who to cheer for, though. The Phils were the team I had followed since I was a wee lad, and the O's were the team up the road that I just happened to check in on now and then. Go Phils!
It's 2005, and we have a team for real now, one that actually plays in Washington. The Phils come to town. I sit there wearing that same battered Phillies hat, but now with a Nats polo shirt on. What to do? Cheer on the team I had followed since I was a wee lad, but who have provided me no end of frustration due to their poor personnel decisions, or root root root for the home team?
I took the advice of My Second National Anthem and decided it would indeed be a shame if the Nats lost. If the game was in Philadelphia and I was surrounded by thousands of screaming Philly fans, I'd have little trouble joining them. But we were in Washington, dammit, so I cheered, albeit mildly, for our Nats.
But to no avail. We were treated to eight innings of shutout ball, attributable in large part to the weird lighting conditions generated by the 4:30 start time. After only allowing one baserunner through seven, Loaiza gave up a hit and a walk in the 8th. He battled Polanco for something like 15 pitches before finally striking him out. A valiant effort and a great outing, but from up in 515 he clearly looked to be out of gas. "No way he comes out for the 9th," I says to BallWonk.
So who comes out for the 9th? Uh, Loaiza. I says to BW, "Well, they've got Rollins and Lofton leading off; hopefully neither of them goes yard, and you pull him at the first sign of trouble. If he gets those two, let him pitch to Abreu." Bang! Rollins home run. Pulled at first sign of trouble? Oh no, he pitches to Lofton, who gets a base hit. Finally Frank comes and gets him.
I says to BW, "Put Eischen in there to pitch to Bobby A and Thome, he'll take care of it." Uh, Abreu gets a hit and sends Lofton to third. At least he gets Thome to hit a bouncer to Wilkerson at first; Wilk looks at third, double-pumps, and finally throws to third to get Lofton, but in so doing he failed to first step on first base, which was, you know, right there, and would have retired Thome as well. Tough play, sure, but I think he has to make it.
Eischen out, Ayala in. The Phils send David Bell up to pinch-hit for Utley. "David Bell? Fat lot of good that'll do them," I says to BW. Bell hit a broken-bat looper into left that scored Abreu.
So in short, every time I opened my mouth regarding the events of the 9th inning, it backfired on the Nats. I jinxed the team. I apologize.
BallWonk talks just like his blog all the time, by the way. He kept up a dialog between St. Francis of Assisi, Ed Muskie, and Satchel Paige for about four innings. It was a bit disconcerting.
Random ballgame thoughts below the fold.
Another first this game: First intra-ballpark phone call. FoolBlog regular Andrew F. called from two sections over to ridicule my Phils hat (this from a guy wearing a Detroit Tigers lid). Later I ran into him on the concourse; when he realized I was taking a work-related phone call, he pointed at me and laughed. Thanks, pal.
The pro-Philly contingent was there, but not as vocal as I'd expected. Given my experiences at Caps games (Flyers, Red Wings, Penguins, Sabres, Bruins, etc.) I had expected much more visitor noise. Maybe there just wasn't that much for Phans to cheer about until the 9th. On the whole, though, I'm glad we don't have the Yanks or Red Sox at RFK this year.
Where are these damn chorizo people keep telling me about? This was the first game where I arrived more than five minutes before game time, so we walked around the lower level a bit. Found good beer, finally, but it was the same Italian sausages and chicken tenders over and over again.
The Post/Express's free program suggests that Screech is the love child of Youppi and Slapshot (who had "never before revealed her true gender," though some of us always knew). Now THERE's a visual I didn't need.
Up next for yours truly: Saturday night vs. the Mets. Will I get to see the wondrous John Patterson? The legendary Pedro Martinez? Nope, it's Zach Day vs. Victor Zambrano. That should be a boring game, unless you like to see lots of hits and runs.
It's been a difficult week here at Big Fool Enterprises. The only thing I have to bring you is a piece at the Sideshow stating the 2004 election may have been stolen after all. Of course, the liberal media dismisses that as crazy talk and won't even investigate it.
Fortunately, Tor has stepped up to provide linking fodder. He points out that pro-environment types may yet come around on nuclear power, as Stewart Brand has done. He passes along that Vegas is turning 100, and they'll be doing some fun things this summer including a free rock 'n' roll concert musical show. And he also advises me that Gawker also took a swing at that stupid man-date article. So, Tor, I and the other five readers thank you.
I need to unload my tickets (at face value) for tomorrow's 1:00 Nats-Braves game. Good seats, as seen below.
Also available: Monday, May 16 vs. the Brewers. E-mail me if interested; remember to put "FoolBlog" in your subject line.
UPDATE: Well, crap. No takers, and I absolutely can't blow off work today (I'm saving that up for Wednesday's game against the Phils, anyway). WTOP had a blurb this morning about how they're expecting a big crowd today, so how come I can't move these tickets? This season-ticket-holder thing may be a little less convenient than I thought. No word on a ticket-exchange program like the Caps used to have, either.
Yesterday was my first opportunity to sit in my regular seats in section 515, and I could scarcely be happier. Just to the right of home plate, and in the shade, nice when you're a pale Scotsman. Yes, it's going to be a good summer. (Full-size version of the above photo here.)
Loaiza coughed up three runs in the second, and I thought our run of good fortune was over. But he steadied the ship and kept it close; Wilkerson and Vidro scratched out a run in the 4th to make it 3-1. Following the 7th-inning stretch, in which we sang BOTH "God Bless America" and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," you could feel it coming. A Vidro single and Guillen double chased the Snakes' starter. They brought in the righty Mike Koplove, who did his immediate job and got Castilla to hit a grounder to wipe out Vidro at home. But Arizona's manager made a major strategic blunder: he didn't have anyone else warming up in the pen. The Nats sent up six straight left-handed hitters against Koplove, and the results were triple, walk, single, K, intentional walk, walk. Four runs, and the Snakes never had a shot at a L-L or R-R matchup. When they did finally bring in a new pitcher, it didn't matter, as Vidro knocked in two more.
Thanks to extremely poor Metro karma, I missed the hatching of the mascot. He/she/it was rather scarce during the game, but we did have a sighting in the upper deck. I was unsure of what Screech was supposed to be--an eagle? A baby eagle? An owl? Today's Post confirms he is an eagle, joining the Caps' Slapshot and DCU's Talon in making the eagle mascot totally overdone in DC. I was hoping for a big red furry blob, but no such luck. No mascot photo this time, but there will be other opportunities.
I have two words for the guy running the PA: TOO. LOUD. It's ridiculous. Also, the colors of the cars in the "Dollar Race" don't match the colors they announce in the set-up. You'd think someone would notice these things.
Getting back on the Metro only took 15 minutes this time. DCist has a great post on the logistics of ballpark transportation, both at RFK and at the proposed stadium site. Sounds like things are less than ideal at the new site, and changes will have to be made. They could take a lesson from the Atlanta Braves, who run free buses between the central hub of their Metro-equivalent train system and the ballpark. WMATA could line up buses post-game on East Cap, then shuttle people to, say, Gallery Place.
Damn it feels good to have our own team. See you at RFK on the 27th for Phils-Nats.
It's not all baseball all the time here at the FoolBlog, you know. Yes, we also provide links to people who are much better writers than we are.
Kevin Drum et. al. on the popular myth that American health care is GREAT!
Steve Gilliard on the arrest of protestors during the Republican convention, and how many charges magically evaporated when additional video evidence showed up.
Dems play the frame game for once: The estate tax repeal is nicely summarized as the Paris Hilton Tax Cut. Let's hope it sticks.
Finally, enjoy someone else's favorite 25 moments on Sesame Street. Be sure to grab the audio file of the Martians. Yyyyyip yip yip yip yip. Phone. Phoooooooooone. Brrrrrring.
First picture taken from our seats: Above.
First hit: Nick Johnson's single in the first.
First double: Vinny Castilla in the second.
First triple: Vinny again, driving in two runs in the fourth.
Firt home run: More Vinny! Two-run bomb in the sixth.
First outpouring of wrath by the fans: Linda Cropp's intro in the pre-game ceremonies. It was easy to tell each councilmember's position on the stadium deal based on his or her reception by the crowd.
First game-related outpouring of wrath: Vinny came up in the 8th with the opportunity to complete a cycle with just a single. The crowd knew it and was on its feet. Lance Cormier drilled him with the first pitch, setting off an inning-long chorus of boos that would make Philadelphia proud.
First opportunity for Jose Guillen to go off: He got hit by a pitch in the 4th. I didn't see how severe it was. Obviously not intentional at that point in the game (no score, no out, guy already on first), but would that stop the team's hothead? He kept his cool, took his base, and came around to score on Vinny's triple.
First major beef with an umpire: Livan took a 1-hitter into the 9th, and you would have had to actually remove his arm to get him to leave the game at that point. Luis Gonzalez led off and fouled off approximately 37 pitches; at one point he started to swing at a high ball and checked it. Livan and Schneider asked for the appeal to third, but the home plate umpire wouldn't even ask. Gonzo ended up walking. Troy Glaus smashed one that we all thought was gone, but Church caught in DEEP center. Green walked, then Tracy put one out to right to ruin the shutout and chase Livan. As he left the field, he yelled at the home plate ump and pointed down to third, apparently saying "If you had just asked for that appeal, I'd have struck out Gonzalez and none of this would have happened."
First overpriced stadium purchase: I bought one o' them $10 programs like a sucker.
First scorecard: After shelling out for the official program, I used the scorecard in the freebie newsprint unofficial program they were handing out on the street. It looked suspiciously like one of these.
First stadium food: half an Italian sausage with peppers and onions. Also had half a hot dog. Not bad.
First beer: A Bud Light. C'mon, the beer guy was right there and it's what he had. Yes, there's apparently Foggy Bottom and better things available, but that would have required walking back down to the lower level and then waiting in line for 45 minutes.
First exciting plays missed due to bathroom run and/or waiting in line for food: Vidro's double and Guillen's plunking in the 4th. The bathroom wait wasn't too bad, but when I contemplated getting something else to eat I couldn't find a line that wasn't obscenely long. I waited for about a minute, then when I head Guillen got on (they had the radio broadcast on the concourse speakers), I decided it wasn't worth it, and I didn't want to miss the Nats' first runs. Got back to the seats just in time to see Vinny's triple.
First obnoxious fan behavior: Midway through the game a "Yankees Suck" chant got started up in our part of the upper deck. When that died down, a few pro-Yankee doofuses got a "Let's go Yankees" chant going. They were quickly drowned out by a chorus of boos.
First difficulty getting home: Getting out of the stadium itself was fine. When we got to the corner of 19th and East Cap, it took half an hour to get from there to the Metro station escalators, all of half a block. Fortunately, they were doing crowd control at the TOP of the escalator, so the platform was not overwhelmed. Once we got down there, we got on a train and even got seats with no trouble.
First day game: Sunday! See you there!
More posts later, but for now enjoy the pictures. (You'll have to register.)
UPDATE: Full-size JPG (1.4 MB) of the big ol' flag during the Anthem, suitable for framing or wrapping fish, here. Makes a fine desktop wallpaper.
Let's get this out of the way first. I have been a Yankees hater for some time, but until recently I didn't have animosity towards the Red Sox. I was happy when they finally won the World Series. But like many, I've had Sox fatigue of late; they are freakin' everywhere, Red Sox hats are appearing all over, there's that stupid Jimmy Fallon movie, and it's becoming tiresome.
Last night was the last straw. I set up the VCR to tape Baseball Tonight at 10 PM. We got home close to midnight, and I turned on the tape in order to see their coverage of the Nats opener. But instead the first TWENTY MINUTES of the show are all about Gary Sheffield getting smacked by a fan at Fenway. They show the clip about a hundred times, they ask Harold and Larry Bowa what they think, they talk to Boomer and Sutcliffe who called the game, they talk to TWO sideline reporters at Fenway, then they talk to Harold and Bowa AGAIN.
Somehow I don't think this incident would have been covered quite so thoroughly had it occurred at O's-Rays. First game at RFK in 34 years, and the Yanks and Red Sox find a way to steal our thunder. So, it's official: Red Sox, I LOATHE YOU. I still hate the Yankees more, but only just.
Two months ago, I sent something off to columnist John Rolfe of SI.com, who has been running people's tales of the best games they've ever attended. I wrote a description of the United-Metrostars playoff game in 1996, with the pitch invasion after the game. (Yeah, despite being a huge baseball fan, my greatest game ever is a soccer game.) Rolfe actually wrote back saying "Nice piece, good to have a soccer game in the mix, thanks for writing," so here I was all prepared with a post saying "Hey I got quoted on SI.com!" But it's never shown up.
No matter. In honor of today's Nats home opener, which I hope measures up, here are some of the best sporting events I've ever attended.
September 30, 1978: Our family goes to Three Rivers Stadium, with thousands of rabid Pirate fans, and me and my mom cheering for the Phils. The Pirates jump out to a big lead, but Phils starting pitcher Randy Lerch hits two home runs, and the Phillies come back to win and clinch the NL East.
Some other time in the late 70's, not sure exactly when: Pirates-Phillies again, this time at the Vet. The Phils score 4 in the bottom of the first, including back-to-back homers by Schmidt and Luzinski. The Pirates come back to lead 7-4, and the Phils score 4 in the 9th, another Schmidt home run winning it. (I have been unable to find on-line confirmation of this game, so I may have the details wrong. I was, like, 9 years old, what do you want from me?)
July 18, 1992: Phils pitcher Kyle Abbot went 1-14 this season. I was at the 1. The Phils took a huge lead on the Dodgers early, 8-0 I think, but Abbott coughed up some runs and had more baserunners in the top of the 5th. He was 0-10 at this point; we were worried he wasn't even going to get through the five innings necessary to qualify for the win. But he got through it, and they put in a reliever for the 6th. Phils win 14-3, and as Abbott came on the field to congratulate his teammates at the end of the game, he was given a Gatorade bucket shower.
May 8, 1993: Cards-Phils at the Vet. The mojo of the Phils' magical season was in full swing. Game tied at 1 through 9, and Fregosi lets Phils starter Terry Mulholland bat for himself in the bottom of the 9th. Terry Mo got his 10-inning complete game, and in the bottom of the 10th with the bases loaded and none out, Ricky Jordan poked one through a drawn-in infield to win it. Only game I went to that season, as I moved to the southwest later in the month.
January 1994 (?): Fresno State vs. New Mexico Lobos at the Pit. That season was the most I've ever been into college hoops, as the Lobos had a very good year. This was the only game I attended in person. The game was very close until about 8 minutes to play, when a Lobos freshman guard hit a little baseline jumper to put them up by 2. At that point, for no obvious reason, the crowd started going continuously bananas, until the Lobos went up by about 15 and cruised to victory. It was abundantly clear why the Pit is one of the best home arenas in all of college basketball.
October 4, 1995: Red Sox at Indians, game 2 of ALDS. Indians up 2-0 going into the bottom of the 8th. I remarked "We haven't seen a home run in this game yet." I checked the scoreboard: Eddie Murray due up third. Being a part-time O's fan, I said "Murray's going to hit one." Indeed he did, putting the Indians up 4-0 and prompting us to fall all over each other. I'm not even an Indians fan--Otis was living outside of Cleveland and got tickets, so I flew out--but for that moment, I sure was.
June 1997: O's-Expos at the Yard. Jimmy Key pitches a perfect game into the sixth. The Expos send Sherman Obando up to pinch-hit. He's hitting .068. "O-bando, O-sixty-eight," we joke. Obando hits one that barely clears the left-field fence. O's get plenty of guys on base but can't score. Expos win 1-0.
March 7, 2000: The Caps continue a wicked tear of great hockey by beating the Panthers 4-2, overtaking Florida for the Southeast Division lead in the process. This was before my season ticket days, and it was a rare sellout; I managed to buy an upper-deck seat at face value on the street in front on the MCI Center. In the final minutes, the fans chanted "First place!" (clap, clap) with no prompting from the JumboTron.
The Nats just laid an 11-4 whoopin' on the Braves to take that series and roll back to DC for the home opener with a winning record. Last week some moron with a blog wrote "I'm expecting them to limp in to the home opener at about 2-7."
I still don't expect them to win the division or anything, but damn, it'll be nice to welcome a winning team tomorrow night.
This Times piece on "the man date" is being kicked around the blogosphere. It's one of the stupider things I've ever read, another idiotic "Trends show..." story.
My friend Otis and I went to the Chicago Art Institute on Sunday, and then we walked through Milleneum Park. Not for one second did I find it awkward or insecure. I did not feel the need to distance myself from him, or to act like I know less about art than I do. The thought that others might think we were "together" never crossed my mind, and in any event I give a rat's ass what other people think.
If the guys in the article feel weird about hanging out with another guy when there isn't sports or beer involved, then they have a problem, one that's limited to them and not some sort of cultural indicator.
Wrigley. Bleacher tickets. Zambrano vs. Sheets. Sunny and 70 degrees. Could it get any better? Yeah, actually, I could have remembered the sun block. But otherwise, heaven had better be at least this good.
I wish that the Phillies' management had taken a field trip to Chicago before they built the Cit. We got to Wrigley over an hour before start time, and it was obvious that an event was taking place: people all over the street, most of them in Cubs gear; bars crowded, huge T-shirt stands. It felt like a community. You just don't get that in the parking lots in the Philadelphia sports complex. They could have built at the Spring Garden Street site and possibly developed something like Wrigleyville, but no, they had to have their ballpark ASAP and built right next to the old one. Short-sighted fools.
I also wish more teams building sprawling, complicated new ballparks would come look at Wrigley. I love the simplicity of it. No escalators, no spiral ramps. Pretty much just lower deck, ramp, upper deck.
We got our tickets at will-call and went straight to the bleachers. Wrigley has a separate entrance for the bleachers, and I can understand wanting to keep regular seatholders out. However, this also kept us from seeing the rest of the ballpark, which was a slight disappointment. We considered coming back Sunday to sit in regular seats, but since there are actually other things to do in Chicago, we passed (and missed the 12-inning, 4-hour marathon).
No matter; the bleachers are a scene unto themselves. The bleachers are actually general admission, so we had to search and eventually found a spot on the right field side. The bleachers were packed for BP, while the rest of the fans trickled in. Sadly, the Brewers did not hold up their end of the bargain; I believe exactly one ball cleared the fence (how Milwaukee's sorry line-up managed to win three straight games before this one is beyond me). We came to the conclusion that the bleachers were more like a sports bar than a ballpark. The crowd was very young, and many, many beers were consumed. I saw exactly one child, and just a handful of senior citizen-types. But they’re great fans out there, decked out in Cubs gear and cheering every move.
I felt somewhat out of place in my Nats hat. Surprisingly, I got no comments or questions about it at the ballpark; I gathered most people didn’t know what it was, and even if they did the novelty factor and the Expos’ lousy history would make it forgivable. (I did get a few comments at the airport and in other places in Chicago, and I obligingly played DC Baseball Ambassador.) On the other hand, Otis wore his Yankees jersey, like a complete moron, and he did get comments about that. To which he replied with typical arrogant Yankee fan “We have more championships than anyone!” blather. WhatEVER. At least he didn’t wear his Cardinals jersey.
The bleacher fans have an ongoing relationship with the Cubs outfielders, far more so than at any ballpark I’ve ever attended. Jeromy Burnitz got a huge ovation when he came out to right, and he obliged with a little salute. Another ovation when he came out after his 6th-inning home run got us a tip o’ the cap. Most amusing, after the second out of each Brewers inning, the fans would scream “How many outs?” and Burnitz would flip the “two” sign, with a little smirk. I’m not sure if it’s always been this way, or if Sammy Sosa made it so.
Speaking of Mr. Sosa… I saw a couple of “Sammy Who?” signs. Yet another case of proclaiming your apathy too greatly. If you really didn’t care, you wouldn’t even acknowledge his departure.
Given the packed-in nature of the bleachers, and the inability to circumnavigate the park, I didn’t partake in much ballpark fare; a few beers and a bratwurst. I was promised Italian beef sandwiches, but didn’t see them at the concessions in the bleachers. There was a stand making Chicago-style hot dogs with basically a whole salad on top of them, but the line for those was enormous, and the game went by so fast that I didn’t want to take the time.
This looked like a pitchers’ duel from the jump, and it was for the first six innings. Zambrano looked terrific, giving up just one hit (a 2nd-inning single to Russell Branyan) and two walks. Sheets, the best pitcher no one pays attention to, wasn’t too shabby himself. He did give up an RBI single to Zambrano (!) in the 2nd, and the Burnitz homer in the 6th, but otherwise was pretty well in command to that point.
The wheels came off in the 7th. Zambrano got another hit with one out. Corey Patterson got a hit to right, and Zambrano went to third on the play, getting an immense cheer from the fans. Geoff Jenkins tried to fire the cannon over there to get him, but was nowhere close; Patterson went to second on the throw. Todd Walker then nearly cleared the fence in right-center, but had to be content with a double and two RBIs. Sheets got out of the inning, but that was it for him.
Zambrano, meanwhile, took his one-hitter into the 8th. He got the first out, but then walked Chad Moeller. Out came Dusty Baker, and the fans booed a little bit. But he was up to 111 pitches. A great effort, but not worth destroying his arm this early in the season. Zambrano got a great hand as he came off the field; Chad Fox came in and immediately got a double-play ball to end it.
The only other home-team booing we heard came in the 9th, when LaTroy Hawkins came in. He had blown it the night before, and the fans obviously miss Joe Borowski. He put them down in order this time, though, and all was forgiven. Cubs win 4-0 on a combined one-hitter. Just two hours and ten minutes; if we had come Sunday, we’d have hit the typical three-hour average game time.
Oh yeah: No “God Bless America” for the 7th-Inning Stretch. They still sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” here, and I’ve never enjoyed it more. Led by actress Bonnie Hunt, who we were reminded repeatedly is a Chicago native.
Full Chicago weekend photo gallery here (free registration required). Great news when I got home: my Nats home opener tickets finally showed up. Major League Ballpark #24 coming up Thursday.
Everyone and their mother has commented on how cool Google Maps is, particularly the satellite photo feature. Here's a fun exercise for Las Vegas fans: Enter 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas, NV 89119. That's Manadaly Bay. Work your way up the Strip from there and check out the mega-resorts. It's quickly obvious who has the best pools. Also, the MGM Grand is FREAKIN' HUGE--to get from the front door to their pool, it's across two city blocks diagonally.
It's been a busy week, so I don't have much linkage for you. I do have a tale of a man arrested for passing $2 bills, sent by Tor. Jonathan H. sent an item about the problems of Rick James, bitch, who isn't that Rick James. And in mascot news, Slate had an article on the homeless mascot of NCAA hoops.
That's about it. You want comment on Tom DeLay or the stupid Schiavo memo that isn't fake, I suggest Steve Gilliard or a dozen or so spots on that blogroll over on the left. Appearing in this space early next week: a report on my Wrigley Field experience, happening tomorrow. w00t!
Sure, Sunday was "Opening Night," but c'mon, yesterday was the real deal.
That's the answer to the future Jeopardy question, "He hit the first home run in the history of the new Washington Nationals." Remember it.
I've been following on MLB's GameDay, and occasionally via the MLB.TV on-line video feed. I got a free two-day trial of the latter, and if this is part for the course there is no WAY I would pay for it. I usually spring for the radio feeds and they work fine, but the video is terrible--choppy to the point of distraction. Maybe it's just too much traffic today, if everyone got the free trial.
Kos on the latest "disruptors" booted from a Bush Social Security Dismantling rally. Great post at AmStreet by Barbara O'Brien on the ol' "the Founders were Christians" canard. Why I Hate DC on the Enrivonmental Un-Protection Agency, just one of many Bush-era agencies or initiatives that do the exact opposite of what their name says.
SKB on the perils of dealing with self-regulating businesses. Back when I wrote Ask the Shank, I once put forth, "Don't come crying to me if someone sells you a package of solidified vomit that's labeled 'aged Wisconsin cheddar.' Because they'd be happy to do so if it gave them a greater profit margin than selling you actual cheese. Corporations have proven time and again their willingness to kill, maim, poison, and generally fuck over the consumer in pursuit of profit (Ford Pinto, anyone?), and if you think we can just let the free market do 'self-regulation' and everything will be fine, you really need to get your head out of the sand." I haven't bought any solidified vomit cheese yet, but we're headed in that direction.
Brad Plumer has a post asking why America needs to be the world's superpower, and Ezra Klein has a follow-up I agree with. So many Americans are "America #1 whoooooooooo!" that we couldn't have it any other way.
Two days to Opening Day. Eight days until I go to Wrigley. 13 days to the Nats home opener. It's a beautiful spring day outside. I AM READY.
DCist has a sneak preview of the Nats' mascot. (Note the date, please.)