April 29, 2011

Linking Fool Friday

Anyone who is proud to be an American, where at least you know you're free, should be puzzled by the ridiculous new passport application, which looks like the means to keep someone from leaving the country.

I love this article on recycling oil filters not just because I know the blogger and the subject's son. It displays the kind of can-do American spirit that we hear so much about, and yet is in astonishingly short supply these days when it comes to solving our problems. Just think how much better off we'd be if the auto manufacturers hadn't spent so much time telling us fuel-efficient or alternative-fuel cars couldn't be made, and had just gone ahead and tried to do it. Same goes for large scale alternative electricity: quit spending so much money lobbying to convince us that coal is actually wonderful, and just build some of this stuff.

Lastly, this is actually leftover from last week, but: #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement is the best Twitter hashtag of the past month.

Posted by Carl at 04:05 PM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2011

Linking Fool Friday

I have managed to not post links for several weeks, and as such I have a backlog.

Are people starting to catch on to just how much of the national wealth the top 1% owns? And maybe national policy shouldn't consistently favor those people at the expense of the rest of us? Sadly, probably not.

Kevin Drum smacks Gregg Easterbrook on territory I've covered before: it is ridiculous to suggest that people who think they should be paying more in taxes should voluntarily write a check to the government. I would gladly pay an extra $1,000 in federal taxes if I knew everyone else in my bracket was paying the same, and those in higher brackets were paying appropriate amounts; then we might make actual progress on the deficit everyone is pretending to care so much about. But if I alone send $1,000 into the Treasury right now, that would accomplish basically nothing.

Also on the budget, John Cole on why the "conventional wisdom" on the budget debate can't be bothered to think about what it means for people other than themselves.

If solar power was subsidized like fossil fuels.

Sales and marketing 101 in one panel, courtesy of The Oatmeal.

Sports: Blah de blah Yankees-Rangers or Duke-North Carolina. For my money, the best sports rivalries on Earth are India-Pakistan (they have nuclear weapons pointed at each other!) and Rangers-Celtic.

Do not like: Five Guys at Nationals Park ousted in favor of New York-based restaurant concepts that undoubtedly paid more for the space. Yeah, Five Guys is everywhere now, but I consider them a DC-area landmark. I remember when there were, like, three of them. They should have stayed.

Joe Posnanski on angry people.

Sports-politics crossover (and another item slapping Gregg Easterbrook, which is OK by me): Claiming indignance over Obama's filling out an NCAA bracket is one of those trumped-up things that only people who already hate Obama claim to be upset about.

One video game company takes on the sense of entitlement of one guy in the majority, and tells him to get over it. Good for them.

Lastly, awesomely depressing: Peanuts strips with the last panel removed.

Posted by Carl at 03:09 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2011

Major League Ballpark #32: Angel Stadium, Anaheim

Angel Stadium

After I'd booked the San Diego trip, Mike pointed out that the Angels were also home that weekend, and Anaheim was only 90 minutes away. That was not a difficult sell.

The Big A is an older stadium that's been through some remodels over the years, so while it's bright and shiny in some regards, its age shows in others. Some of the concourse tunnels on the lower level looked more like the basement of some government buildings I've worked in rather than a ballpark. Fortunately, we didn't spend much time out there. Our seats down the left-field line faced the outfield (rather than home plate) a little more than I'd have liked, but otherwise the sight lines were good. The rock pile in center field is mildly wacky, but not as ridiculous as the riverboat in Cincinnati. Plus, fireworks shoot out of it when the Angels hit a home run.

The Angels seem to have pretty good fan support; it probably helped that this was the second home game of the season. Plenty of red and Angels gear, and a couple of drunk morons gave Mike a hard time about his Padres jacket. (The Dodgers, sure, but really, are the Padres enough of a threat for them to get riled up over? They either did not notice or did not care about my Expos jersey.) And some baseball purists may curse me for this, but I love me some Rally Monkey. They rolled him out staring in the bottom of the 7th, and damn if it didn't get the crowd fired up every time. They showed a number of film sequences with the monkey digitally imposed, such as the deer-wrecking-the-car scene from Tommy Boy, that caught me off guard at first and actually made me laugh. The Rally Monkey's appearance also brought out a guy selling stuffed monkeys on a stick, and judging from how many monkeys were waved about every time he came on the jumbotron, he did decent business. (And yes, I bought a small monkey to bring home to the girls.) Additional props to the scoreboard operators for playing the "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" dancing banana between innings. That blows the doors off of the "Flippin' Pizza Toss" and other minor-league shenanigans they foist upon us at Nationals Park.

Unfortunately, the Rally Monkey was not all that effective at getting the Angels to score runs. The game started out as a back-and-forth affair, with each teams scoring in three of the first four innings, and each collecting ten hits by the 5th. It had the makings of a double-digit-run slugfest. And then... nothing. Both sides went relatively quietly, inning after inning. In the bottom of the 11th, the Angels had first and third with no one out, and then the bases loaded with one out, but Aaron Hill snagged a grounded with the infield in to cut down a run at home, and Jeff Mathis struck out to end the threat. Very frustrating (not least of all because it was now really freakin' cold). After a double play ended the bottom of the 12th, and with an hour and a half drive back to San Diego looming, we bolted. We heard the Angels win it in the 14th on the radio.

Much as with San Diego, I wouldn't rank Angel Stadium among the best out there, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Miscellaneous thoughts below.

  • Again, I was not blown away by the ballpark dining options. There were plenty of choices, and EVERYTHING was branded, down to drink stalls sponsored by Jack Daniels, Southern Comfort, and multiple brands of tequila. But once again, no signature item that I absolutely had to have. I had the required SoCal fish tacos at a nearby sports bar before the game (they were darn tasty), and didn't feel the need to fill up on anything other than beer and peanuts during the game.

  • I have to criticize the Anaheim fans for only cheering when the scoreboard told them to. Several times during the late innings, the Angels pitchers got two strikes on a batter with two outs, and the fans couldn't be bothered to get fired up. During extras, when a lot of more casual fans had already left, the remaining crowd got a little more into it.

  • Yeah, it got dang cold after the sun went down. Fortunately, the giveaway was an Angels ski hat, for which we were quite grateful.

  • Balllpark count details that probably no one cares about but me: I have now seen 24 of the 30 major league teams play at home, and been to 20 of the 30 ballparks currently in use. San Diego is only my second NL West ballpark, but oddly enough AI have now completed the AL West. Tampa is the only AL team I have not seen play at home, though I do need to go back to Minnesota and Detroit. Ten ballparks to go; I am leaning towards Minnesota next year, then to see the sorry-ass New York Mets in 2013.

Posted by Carl at 05:15 PM | Comments (1)

Major League Ballpark #31: Petco Park, San Diego

Petco Park

When I decided to head to San Diego for this year's baseball weekend, the thought of planning for rain never crossed my mind. It's southern California, right? We'll have great weather!

Yeah, not so much. As the trip neared, the weather forecast turned ugly. On gameday, things were looking iffy. We arrived at the ballpark an hour before game time to heavy clouds, but no rain yet. Nonetheless, the powers that be made the bewildering decision to put the tarp on the field and delay the game by a half-hour. First pitch went off at 7:30; we watched the first inning, Matt Kemp doubled to lead off the top of the second, and then the skies opened up for real. If they'd started the game on time, we'd have seen three or four innings, but no. We huddled with the masses on the concourse for about 45 minutes, and debated as to whether the game would be resumed at all. Since we were supposed to meet some friends in the Gaslamp District after the game, we decided to head over there, knowing we could get back in on our tickets later if we wanted to. But many beers were served in the Gaslamp District, so going back to the stadium never actually happened. And that's probably just as well, as the game was delayed repeatedly, and at some point after midnight play was suspended, tied 2-2 in the 9th. The Dodgers won it in 11 when the game was picked up the next day.

Still, we had enough time to walk around and get a feel for the place. One criticism I'd read of Petco before going out was that it wasn't old-school ballparky enough for some--where's the red brick? I didn't find that to be a problem, though; the place feels very appropriate for southern California. The park is large (again, some people don't like this, but I do), and as such there are good sight lines from everywhere. There are several quirky places from which to watch the game, like next to the giant paint can in left field, or from field level in the left-field corner after you go through the team store. It was from this spot that we heckled the grounds crew as they rolled up the tarp; they didn't appear to have had much practice at it.

The best feature, in my opinion, is the Western Metal Supply Company building that was incorporated into the park. The upper levels are suites, the lower level is the team store, and the floor above that is incorporated into the concourse, with old wood-beam construction. In right field, you have the grassy hill where you can sit on a blanket and watch the game, albeit from far a-way. There's also a kid-sized baseball field out behind the batter's eye. One frustration: you can't see the field from much of the concourse. I am very spoiled by Nats Park, where you can keep an eye on the game even while waiting in line for a hot dog.

Overall, I don't know that I'd put Petco in the top 10 or anything, but it's a perfectly fine place to take in a ballgame. Of course, one could argue whether I actually did that. I'm going to go ahead and count it, but I'm sure I'll be back sooner or later, maybe as a sidebar to a Dodger Stadium trip. But next time, I'm going in July or August.

Random thoughts follow.

  • I'd also been told that San Diego fans are too laid-back, but they seemed to be pretty well into the game. Lots of Padres gear in the stands; lots of Dodgers gear, too.

  • A definite negative to the near-rainout: No mascot photo. The Swinging Friar was on the field pre-game (in full-blown sombrero and serape, as it was Mexican heritage night), but I never saw him in the stands.

  • The food was mostly basic ballpark fare. There were some interesting options scattered around the park: the requisite retired player's barbecue stand, a Food Network-branded steak sandwich for $13, Sonoran hot dogs with bacon and beans. They didn't seem to have a signature item that one had to get; maybe fish tacos, but somehow that wasn't something I wanted to eat at the ballpark. I did get garlic fries, and they tasted fine, but be advised that eating garlic fries and drinking a lot of beer really isn't a good idea.

  • The clincher for booking this year's trip to San Diego was seeing the Luche Libre Surfin' California burrito on Man vs. Food. We went there directly from the airport, and the burrito did not disappoint. Steak, shrimp, french fries, avocado, and a couple of sauces on the burrito, with something like eight different salsas available to add. Good stuff. We also had a good Mexican-esque breakfast at Jimmy Carter's

  • Sunday we had more typical San Diego weather, sunny and 66. We took advantage by wandering around Balboa Park, including the very cool catcus garden.

Posted by Carl at 05:14 PM | Comments (0)