Wednesday, June 01, 2005
*Warning! Boring writey-bits first, fun stuff from the game tonight after the photo of the lights at Fenway*
That's me and my friend Jess, leaning over the wall on the third base side of homeplate, watching the grounds crew clean up after tonight's Red Sox game. Where the light hits the dirt you see a bright yellow-- curious, as the dirt was much more reddish than yellow, and the light in the stadium was mostly bright white. Where the shadow falls you see the myriad of sharp little pock-marks left behind in the dirt by the cleats of Orioles batters-- this is approximately where they'd been warming up all game, the outer edges of the on-deck circle.
I am obsessed with light. I don't mean that in a Thomas Kinkade, 'Master of Light and also gratuitous overuse of the color fuschia' kind of way. It started in the first semester of my sophomore year, when I was given the assignment of photographically documenting light pollution in Ann Arbor. This involved rather a lot of me running around AA in the middle of the night with a camera making an ass of myself-- wandering under overpasses, lurking around the very things meant to make people feel safe from lurkers, crouching in parking lots just asking to get run over, you know. The standard freakish art student fare. Why can't we just write papers like the rest of humanity?
I admit I'm also quite taken with natural light... I mean, you can't go wrong with a nice sunset. But there's not much interesting in just a plain old sunset, to me. I much prefer intersections, where natural light intrudes on artificial landscape, or where artificial light intrudes on natural landscape. And just plain old light pollution is enough to drive me batty with the urge to take bad photos.
So what's that got to do with baseball?
Not much, maybe. But the U of M art grad students are currently spending their summer in Suriname, looking at handpainted advertisements and picking up stray puppies and something briefly mentioned but vaguely sketchy involving umbrellas. That may sound progressive and crrrrrrazy to you kids, but to someone who knows the U of M art program it's easy to see what they're doing-- they're going about and experiencing, finding art in things around them, in nature and another culture and what have you.
I'd imagine that spending a significant amount of time in Suriname with a bunch of artists would be an amazingly enriching experience-- one I have every intention of avoiding like the Black Plague. To each their own, and all that.
But in a week where I will be attending three consecutive Red Sox games at Fenway (tonight with Jess, tomorrow night with my friend Jason, and Thursday afternoon with, er, someone... any of you kids able to go to an afternoon game?), I can't help but inject a little art into it. To be sure, I mock the 'painfully artsy' outlook so many art students have on life, because it richly deserves mocking, but the fact of the matter is that, poke fun as I may, avoid it all I can, I am still an artist.
And that sometimes means looking up in the later innings of an evening game to check Wade Miller's pitch speed on the scoreboard, and finding your eyes snagged by the banks of lights in left field, the way the light smears in the black sky and how it makes the famous green of the park structure look even richer than it does by day.
Some artists have their water lily ponds, some artists have their unspoiled American wilderness (which they shamelessly alter to suit their compositions thereby nullifying the whole point of their art *cough*AnselAdams*cough*). Some artists have their Suriname.
I've got Fenway.
Oh yeah, and let the record state that I aced that light pollution assignment. I was also the only person in the entire grade whose final project included photos from a football game, a fact I was much prouder of than the actual final grade.
Lest we forget, I was at the baseball game today, and despite what that boring little essay above may imply, I spent the vast majority of the game watching, well, baseball. Here are my thoughts from the game, as well as I can remember them many hours later.
--David Ortiz is best friends with EVERYONE. Very early in the game he took first base on a walk, and Cabrera was taking his time with the next batter. So Ortiz was just goofing around at first, which at points involved TICKLING RAFAEL PALMEIRO ON THE STOMACH. A few minutes later, when Ortiz crouched down to watch the at-bat unfold, Raffy patted him several times on the butt with his glove, causing Ortiz to look around and say something back. Jess and I were in absolute hysterics, much to the confusion of every single person around us.
Later in the game, waiting for a new pitcher to warm up or something, Ortiz was hanging out at second base with Brian Roberts. I glanced up just in time to see Ortiz (who absolutely dwarfed the second baseman) fondly putting Roberts' hat back on his head for him. Lord only knows what had been going on.
--We saw several people wearing Yankees hats. Why? Why in the name of all that's holy would you wear a Yankee hat into Fenway Park when the Yankees aren't even in town? Jess asked me what I would do in another park, which made me think... I have, after all, worn my Red Sox hat into Comerica when the Tigers weren't playing the Sox. But it's not as though the Tigers are rivals of the Sox either.
I actually contemplated wearing my Tigers hat into Fenway for at least one of these games, in light of the recent SWEEP of the Orioles by the Tigers. I figured it might be too obscure for the casual fan, though, and wouldn't make sense to most people. Also, my Tigers hat is bright, acid orange, and I was worried that from afar it could be confused with an Orioles hat. Can't have that, now.
--Daniel Cabrera is a billion feet tall. Also, that fastball is fast. He came right out of the gates throwing 96, 97. Jess whistled with worried appreciation. I told her not to worry, as he was a young, relatively unreliable pitcher, and besides which all that speed wouldn't do him any good if he wasn't spotting the ball. Hooray for being right. A lot of those 96 mph heaters were off the plate and called as such, and the moment the Sox got a single hit off of Cabrera, he rattled like a box full of brittle, dried-out oriole bones and the hit parade began.
This, by the by, is part of why Jeremy Bonderman is so remarkable. Bonderman works through his own mechanical difficulties on the mound, and Bonderman is better at bearing down and getting out of a bases-loaded no-outs jam unscathed than many veteran pitchers. But he's just 22. Cabrera, who is 24, behaves much more like one would expect a relatively green pitcher to act.
--Remember when cotton candy at games used to be brought around on the sticks, like you get it at carnivals? Somehow, cotton candy in a small plastic tub just fails to bring the same kind of atmosphere to a ball game.
--Every time Jay Payton came up to bat, he would get a tiny, tiny smattering of polite applause. What the hell, people? I clapped as loudly as I could and screamed, "LET'S GO JAY!" every time he was up to bat, and he could probably hear me, it was so bloody quiet. Why was no one giving Jay Payton the love? I was literally the only person I could hear screaming his name when he came up to bat. It was baffling.
--There is no despair quite like the despair that comes when you hear John Olerud is pinch hitting for Johnny Damon, and you do some quick thinking: Olerud has to play first base, Johnny being out means Payton (who's been playing left field) has to move to center... that means... oh no... but oh yes... Kevin Millar is in the outfield.
I nearly cried.
Thankfully, a grand total of ONE balls were hit to left field after Payton moved over, and Millar caught it on the fly, so no damage done to either the game or Millar's dignity (what's left of it).
--The booing of Millar was pointless. What are you people, new? We know he's an incredibly streaky hitter, that's what he's always done. He'll go cold for a while, and then he'll heat up and look like the second coming of 'roided-up Giambi, only with beer and cupcakes instead of steroids. The dude is clearly trying out there, he's not some huge-name free agent acquisition who had to come in and earn his money and the love of the fans, he's Kevin Millar. Let the poor cowboy be.
--One of the Orioles batboys was wearing Palmeiro's spare away jersey, and this confused the hell out of me all game. I'd just glance up, see the number and think, "Hey, why the heck is Raffy running out of the dugout to pick up a broken bat? Isn't he too old and dignified to do something like that? Oh, I'll bet he just wanted the extra wood." And I'll bet you thought I was going to go through a whole entry about a Sox/O's game without a Palmeiro/Viagra joke. No such luck.
--As for the rest of the Orioles... Brian Roberts looked great in the field and at the plate, despite the fact that he went 1-for-4. Sal Fasano, who went 1-for-3, looked even worse than those numbers suggest (at the plate). Why the hell is Jay Gibbons hitting us so well lately? Sammy Sosa was loudly booed again... no 'cork' shouts this time, but lots of 'steroids' chants. Personally I think the cork is funnier and therefore we should rag on him more for that, but that's perhaps just me.
It is always a fun moment when you realize that both BJs (Messrs. Surhoff and Ryan) are in the game at once for the Orioles.
--Tshirt slogans seen outside of Fenway that are new this year:
-A-Rod sucks Randy's Johnson
-A-Rod sucks the Big Unit
-Jeter drinks wine coolers
-I slept with Sheff's wife (with a little hand-held video camera graphic)
All the classics, like 'Jeter sucks A-Rod' and 'Posada is a little bitch' are back, natch. For those of you who have never been to Fenway, the anti-Yankee tshirt vending hoardes are outside Fenway before and after every game. It is an institution, practically.
--To the two high school couples sitting directly in front of us: I hate you and if I see you again I cannot be blamed for any injuries you may sustain. If all you're going to do all game is poke each other and grab each other's butts, you could have done that at home, on your couch, for a lot less money. And your seats could have gone to people who might have actually used them to watch a baseball game, and you wouldn't have pissed the hell out of those sitting around you.
To the two girls of this group particularly: you have braces. You are clearly young high schoolers. No amount of makeup and/or flatironing is going to make you look older. Stop trying. You embarass everyone.
--The Orioles site recap of the game refers to John Olerud as "the cagey veteran and fastball hitter". This is, clearly, awesome. I did love seeing Olerud have a nice game, and it was funny watching him at first... the dude towers over most other people.
--I wasn't counting, but it sure as hell looked to me like the vast majority of Wade's strikes were coming when he threw his offspeed stuff, the curve and slider. His fastball wasn't bad, but it wasn't striking, so to speak.
--Mike Timlin is a STUD. Period.
--Best. Hat. Ever.
--It got pretty cold by the end of the game, but the weather was much better than I'd been expecting. Jess had never been this close to the field... I'd never been that close at Fenway, although I had been at Comerica. Not sure why. I guess we usually just get out of there fast and don't bother wandering down.
--My cousins Leah and Beth (thanks to whom I had the tickets), and your local blogging gremlin. I need to go to more games with these people. They are awesome. They're hilarious, and they know their baseball (and me, far too well... just before one of Bill Mueller's at-bats, I got a phone call from Beth [they were sitting across the park from me and Jess]. 'Bill Mueller's up, don't you love him? Let's see him get a hit here! Bye!' He worked a walk. I was pleased all 'round). Also they're Wolverines, so you know they're wicked smart.
I'd really rather not end on a depressing note, but coming home and almost immediately seeing this sort of thing is possibly the worst feeling ever. I was riding high off of a good Red Sox win, and this just killed me.
Then I read that it wasn't just general upsettedness depicted there.
I think I'll go cry myself to sleep now.