Wednesday, June 8, 2011

They have balls

I have been going to Major League Baseball games since I was a kid. However, I only started going to Minor League games when I moved back to Texas. I bring THIS fact up to explain this post and my current interest in the pitching aspect of baseball. Of course the long ball puts butts in seats, or mainly in the outfield bleacher section, where fans can attempt to catch a baseball as it hurtles at them. I love the long ball too. But in my search to find the seats I liked best at Nelson Wolff Stadium, I began sitting in Section 113; located along the San Antonio Missions dugout. It is in those seats I have sat the last 4 games. It is in those seats that the nuances of what a pitcher is doing on the mound were brought to my attention.

Pitchers throw the ball fast. FAST. That might seem obvious, and maybe I have been paying too much attention to where the peanut vendor was heading in the past. But that was truly a revelation to me. I have seen the light and the light is whizzing by at ridiculous speeds.

The San Antonio Missions continue to sit at the top of the Texas League South, with a record of 38-18 and six games ahead of the Texas Rangers double-A affiliate, Frisco Roughriders. The Missions pitching staff leads the league in strike outs with 465 and have an impressive team ERA of 3.81.

I am by no means a stats queen. Math was never my favorite subject in school and having to revisit Mr. Dewey’s decimal system just to cover and enjoy my favorite sport is not high on my list of things to do. But I do pay attention to pitching speeds and I take notes on that.

The recent series with the Arkansas Travelers was filled with good pitching and good hitting. Having never seen the Travelers play this season, I'll admit I was impressed. From the lay fan's point of view the Travelers were definitely the toughest teams I have seen the Missions face at The Wolff.

Jorge Reyes the switch hitting RHP faced the Travelers on the 3rd. Despite having a less than stellar performance the right hander worked himself into and thankfully out of a few jams, during his five innings. You can look at Reyes line from that night and think, not great. But what I took away from that game was the fact that Reyes did not allow himself to be rolled by the Travelers, he battled, yes. But with run support and yes another walk off performance by the Missions. The team got the job done.

Monday June 6th, was the last home game for the Missions till they return on the 12th.  Monday night Simon Castro delivered an impressive performance for the Missions. Five solid innings with a fast ball that was maxing out at 96 on a few pitches but sat comfortably at 94 mph most of the night. Castro’s off speed had the Springfield Cardinals confused, by dropping it down to 86mph at times. At one point he faced three batters, threw twelve pitches, and caught a ball hit back at him, fumbled it, recovered it, fed it to the first baseman and STILL got the out. Not quite a bang bang play more like a bang, bang, drum roll, bang play; but an out none the less.

The pitcher that I have watched most closely since my first games this year has been Josh Spence. The 6'1 lefty from down under has pitched 34.1 innings and sits with an ERA of 1.83. I first took notice of Spence during a game earlier in the year when he threw four pitches and recorded three outs. Josh Spence has a deceptive delivery with a leg kick similar to current Cincinnati Red Bronson Arroyo. Thankfully Spence does not seem to be simultaneously auditioning for the Radio City Rockettes’ each time he comes to the plate. Spence has done his job in each of his relief outings for the Missions, getting outs and not allowing runs to score.

The current leader in saves in the Texas League happens to be Mr. Brad Brach. The San Antonio Missions closer. Watching him warm up the last few games, has been crazy. The 6'6" right hander has a smooth delivery, which then explodes out of his glove. If you are trying to catch a glimpse of the ball as it leaves  his glove before it hits the catcher’s glove you better not blink. As an opposing player facing Brach, I would pat myself on the back on my walk back to my dugout thinking, "well at least I attempted a swing...”
As with my last Missions related post, I’m clearly showing my support for my home town team. My response to that is, it’s my blog and I’ll write what I want.



Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Major Love of the Minors

Settled into my seat, three rows behind home plate with a beer and a hotdog and I am ready to take in the game. I could not tell you what the score was or who won or any details of my first San Antonio Missions game in 2010. But what I can tell you is that it was a great time. I love baseball...LOVE. I am and will always be a New York Yankees fan. Nothing will change that. Nothing will change my love for the game either. 

After the final out of the 2010 ALCS all my attention, along with the rest of Yankees Universe, was focused on what changes Brian Cashman would make for the New York Yankees. When the story broke in early December, that the San Diego Padres would be trading Adrian Gonzales to the Boston Red Sox for Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes, and a player to be named later, I was intrigued. Seeing that our arch rivals, the Boston Red Sox, were trading away four of their top prospects in exchange for one player, and the fact the it was likely one if not all of the four players may spend some time in San Antonio, I wanted to know more. 

I began to follow the San Diego Padres player transactions and acquisitions. When the San Antonio Missions kicked off their 2011 season, in early April I was ready for baseball in the Alamo City.

The Missions have yet to disappoint. The team tops the Texas league in hitting, thanks to James Darnell (.377). Brad Brach is the Texas League leader in saves with 13. Casey Kelly (ERA 3.83) has an arm on him that is sure to guarantee his stay in San Antonio will not be a long one. Kyle Blanks (.301) is hitting with such power and ease that it is a joke that he is not with the San Diego Padres right now. Maybe when the scouts check box scores from the last few games and see Blanks amazing hitting performance on Saturday to help the Missions win in extra innings, with a walk off grand slam. The Missions' catcher Ali Solis (.317) has a hot bat and had defense skills behind the plate that are beginning to rival the fabled Molina brothers. With Blake Tekotte's call up just hours after a strong hitting performance in Sunday's game, the Missions are proving to be the team to beat in the Texas League.

There in lies the triumph and the tragedy of becoming invested in a minor league team. One of the coolest things for a true, passionate fan like myself is that when you go to Wolff Stadium to see the Missions, the intimacy of the park is like nothing in the Majors. With first row ticket prices maxing out at $10.50 I can sit behind home plate, without having to take out a loan, which is what would be required if I wanted to sit right behind home at my beloved Yankees Stadium. The tragedy of Minor League baseball is that the players are playing their hearts out, so they can get that call, "You're ready for the big Show"; and most games the seats are empty. I am sure that Cody Decker (11 HR) or Sawyer Carroll (OPS .819) are not too concerned with playing the game they love to more empty seats then full ones. But even so it's a disservice to the players. Minor League teams have a hard time getting butts in seats because there is not always a "big name player" on the field. Unless a Josh Hamilton, Francisco Cervelli, or Stephen Strasburg are rehabbing, you will not see a Major Leaguer at the game. 

If you believe that, then you would be wrong.  Every single player on the field is a major leaguer. Orel Hershiser, Fernando Valenzuela, Joe Morgan, Mike Piazza, Paul Konerko, Pedro Martinez, Felix Hernandez, played on Minor League teams. Not just any Minor League team either; they ALL played for the San Antonio Missions in their careers. 

When you come to a San Antonio Missions game you may not be able to rattle off each player's number, ERA, OPS, yet. But when they get “The Call” you can say, "Hey I saw that kid pitch when he was in double - A. I told ya'll he would be a Hall of Famer." 

You know what, you'd be right. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Why I hate this title...

Why is that a stupid title? Why would I pick it if I don't like it? Why I really need to think of something better. Why I hope you get what I'm doing here. Why do I even care? Why I hope your still reading.

So here's the deal I cook, but that doesn't make me a chef. I know where the first aid kit is, but I don't call myself Dr. Hollywood Hippie. I blog, but that doesn't make me a writer.

For the record, it doesn't make YOU a writer either.

But I'm not here to write about you, that would be silly and a waste of my time.

The point I am trying to make is that, yes I have Internet. Yes I figured out how to type 65+ words per minute, thank you 8th grade computer class. But Internet and typing skills does not a writer make. Neither does knowing the proper way to use whom (which I don't).

Whomever, my point is I don't like reading other people's blogs. I LOVE that you like reading mine, or at least you clicked on it by mistake in hops of finding something else and are now just waiting for your browser to refr...

You're still here, good.

Thank you.

The point is, why does everyone who writes a blog (of course I don't mean EVERYONE, so calm down) why do the majority of blogs, sports related or otherwise, have such wussy titles? If you have the balls to sit down, type out, and hopefully spell check, your inner thoughts and send them out into the world, nut up and don't be so passive!

Don't tell me, "why i think the Yankees will win..." Tell me, "The Yankees are going to win." If you are a "writer" then write and do it with authority and confidence behind your ideas. Don't worry that some other douchey person is going to leave some blow hard a man and suspend your comments. Or just let Mr. Douche leave his comment and move on with your day of tweeting and status updating. But if I'm going to take the time out of my own self involved day to read your thoughts, I want to KNOW you believe in them.

Thank you.

And that's why I think you should keep reading my blog.



Friday, April 8, 2011

I hope Heaven has WiFi

Dear Dad,

It's Friday April 8, 2011 around 1030a. This time two years ago I was heading to LAX wearing the shirt I had slept in, jeans I found on the floor, and suitcase that had one black heel and the black dress I would wear to your funeral five days later.

 I slept with my phone off that night and so I woke up to see several missed calls, a few texts messages and at least two voicemails from mom. Figuring that clearly something had happened, I got up, brushed my teeth, turned on my TV and was about to call mom back when she called again. When I picked up the phone Mom said the four words that changed my life and flipped everything I thought I knew about the world upside down.

Your father is dead.

To protect my families privacy, I won't discuss further details.

So less than an hour later I found myself in my best friends car racing to LAX on a Wednesday morning, so I could catch a plane that was leaving in less than an hour. No question you were already with me, Daddy, because anyone who has ever left from LAX knows, you need a good five hours before your flight even leaves to be sure you'll make it.

I went from my apartment to my gate in under 90 minutes.

That was April 8, 2009.

Today I sit in my apartment, no longer living in Los Angeles, with my three legged dog, writing a blog that mostly strangers will read, in an exercise in healing.

I hope you can read this where you are now, Dad. I wanted to let you know that I'm doing alright. Mom is doing good. Bronx (my dog) has helped bring me back to life and helped me to learn to open my heart again. I know, I have a dog! You would love him. Actually he would LOVE you. I don't there was ever an animal that wasn't drawn to you and your spirit. In caring for Bronx I've learned the challenges of being responsible for another life. In "raising" Bronx, I reminded every day of how you and Mom were the BEST parents. I never wanted for anything growing up, and not just "things". I was truly blessed to know that I meant everything to both you and Mom. I was your world. With your passing I realized you both are mine.

I was surprised (and still am) how I can literally feel that part of me is gone. But I've learned that the physical is gone. But you are around everywhere.

I spoke at your funeral. I talked about you talking me to Yankees games, how my passion for theatre is a direct result of your passion for theatre and music. But the think that was most important for me to share with everyone there was, that I would be ok.

I had planned to call you Wednesday morning. I don't think I'd talk to you in a week or so. For the first few hours that really bothered me. I didn't get the chance to say goodbye, I didn't tell Dad I loved him one last time and on and on. Then I realized I could release myself from that bondage. I knew, with every fiber of my being that you loved me and more importantly for me, I knew you knew that I loved you so much. That thought still brings tears, but they are tears of comfort. I know I'm "lucky". I don't have guilt that I didn't get to say everything I needed to. You and Mom raised me in a house of Love. There was NEVER any doubt that I knew my parents loved me and supported me in anything I ever wanted to do. That is what I wanted to share at your service. That you lived your life in Love.

I hope you're having fun up there. I know you had the best seats in the house to catch our Yankees win in 2009. So far we're looking good in 2011, but I don't have to tell you that. I wanted to get to Boston to see our Yankees play the BoSox this weekend, but plane tickets are no joke! So I settled on going to see the Astros tomorrow. I have great seats, but I know no matter what you will forever have the best seats in the house.

I love you, Daddy.

CCL 1951-2009

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Does this Blog make me look crazy....?

In the days since I posted my first blog, I've been trying to figure out what my NEXT entry should be about. I had thoughts like "what would the readers be interested in reading?" "Is anyone else interested in my latest shopping trip?" "Who's reading this blog anyway...?" That last though made me think, "IS anyone reading this blog???"

Which brings me to today's post.

While I spent my week worrying about what to write nex I realized, that if no one is reading this, then doesn't that mean I'm "talking" to myself?  Now, I am all for a running internal monologue, and tooting your own horn. But in an age when ANYONE can create a blog, twitter, facebook etc. Aren't we all just talking to ourselves with an unspecified audience? Its the 21st century version of, "if a tree falls, but no one's around does it make a sound?" Except in today's world it could be tweaked to, "If a blog gets posted and no one reads it does that make me crazy?"

Don't get me wrong I understand the argument of blogs are the new was to journal or keep a diary! But its really not...I'm not writing this to chronicle who my crush is now or what my future goals are. I'm writing this so other people can read this and get their own personal voyeuristic jollies off. (Its why any of us post ANYTHING online.) :)

So I guess my point is ( not that anyone is reading this); if you took away the smart phones and the mini computers, and people started saying out loud, what they are constantly tweeting; there would be no beds left in any of the hospital...they'd all be full. Because think about, if you passed someone on the street and you heard them say, "OMG! can't wait to hit the new sale lol", and they were by themselves. Wouldn't YOU think they were a bit nuts....?


p.s.- Be sure to tell your friends about my blog! Follow me on twitter! ! ;)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Start with a Dream

Instead of going into a big, "this is who I am" thing. I'm just going to jump write in.

Welcome and Thank You, for spending some of your daily internet clicking with me. My first post is "pre-written". It is my essay for the MLB Dream Job. I think I may have missed the boat, by not seeing that there was a 2nd page to the application. So here is my essay. ENJOY! ~M

Yes I am an actress, but PLEASE keep reading.
I fell in love with the game in the 4th grade. My father let me skip school so we could go from West Point, NY to Yankee Stadium and sit in $5 (now $80) bleacher seats on opening day. Best seats in the park.  Those fans all knew each other, neighborhood gossip being traded between innings.  I’ll never forget as the wave began to circle the stadium. The bleacher fans began chanting, “Take the wave to Shea!” To this day I REFUSE to participate in the wave at any baseball game out of respect. Of course, “Take the wave to Citi Field!” is the more accurate chant now; however it doesn’t roll off the tongue quite the same. My father Clyde Curtis Ligons, wrote ‘Third Base Bag’ and ‘One Game at a Time’ which legendary Dodger Ron Cey recorded in 1976. We have always been a baseball family. When I move to Los Angeles in 2003 dad would call after every game and we’d dissect the game. I wore my Jeter shirt to every Dodgers game I attended. I believe that fans of all 32 teams can cheer their team on in a way that is respectful of the opposing team. Full disclosure I was asked to leave a bar following Game 4 of the 2004 ALDS. The Boston hat wearing bouncer and I failed to see eye to eye on his choice of head gear; Red Sox fans can be so sensitive.
I currently work as a receptionist. It is a job I enjoy because it allows me to put my organizational and time management skills to good use. As the first face clients and corporate executives see when they arrive at our office, I am very confident in the positive, energetic and knowledgeable image I represent for our company. The passion that I have for Baseball and the confidence I have in myself, is why I know I am the ideal person to represent the fans and MLB.
When the Rangers played the Yankees during the ALCS, I went from being the receptionist to the office Hazel Mae. Associates at all levels would stop by reception to talk stats and deconstruct the previous night’s game. During the 2010 season I flew to Los Angeles to attend All-Star weekend; Dallas in mid August to watch the Yankees comeback thanks to a classic Mo save and back to Dallas for the final two games of a brutal four game sweep in September. I prepared to watch the ALCS at home with my three-leg dog Bronx. (Yes, you read that right.) When the baseball angels smiled on me and I was able to snag a ticket from a co-worker for Game 2. I drove the five hours to Dallas, so I could sit in a stadium of Ranger Red and cheer my Yankees to a loss, from the VERY last row at the top of Arlington stadium.
During the 2010 ALCS fans were introduced to the three key components that will shape the 2011 season; $uper Teams, Cliff Lee in the postseason and smaller market teams weaseling into the post season.
Thanks to what I can only assume were previously undiscovered gold mines under The Green Monster and an untapped oil reserve in the Nationals dugout; the Yankees can no longer be singled out for “buying championships”. The Boss had the money so he spent it on his team.  Steinbrenner knew that you can’t take it with you, so he spent it while he was here.  The Fenway faithful are going to be surprised when they discover that a front office decision to fund the college education of the next eight generations of Crawford’s will not guarantee a postseason berth. And while the Nationals watch as Jayson Werth spends his millions on something other than haircuts, they will again be off come September. Maybe they’ll realize that kind of money might be better spent on a bionic arm…Strasburg I’m looking at you.
Cliff Lee has an opportunity to prove himself in the postseason (again). Lee may have avoided the pressure cooker that is Yankees baseball by returning to the Phillies. However someone may want to inform Cliff that the only thing allowed to have any cracks in Philadelphia is the Liberty Bell. He will have to be perfect. Lee is the face of the team. Despite the Phillies talent, Cliff is the only one who spurned the Yankees (twice) and dominated the postseason storylines. Phillies success or failure this season will ride on the left hander from Arkansas.
2011 will likely be dominated by stories about the AL East, Lee’s ERA, and Manny’s tantrums in Tampa. Meaning the Giants will ride high as returning champs. The Rangers will look to destroy the Phillies.  The Rays will find success if they block out the “way they were” headlines and continue to play NL style ball in the AL. They will battle and fight. They will ignore the hype of the Super Teams. We could see TB, LAA, SF show up in the postseason and show everyone that after 162 games legends are made on the field and not at Winter Meetings.
On April 8, 2009, eleven days before my birthday, my father passed away. I left Los Angeles to be with my mother in Texas and never looked back. I spoke at my father’s funeral and I talked about those Opening Day trips. Baseball has become my life line to my father and in the weeks following my father’s passing I remember watching a Yankees game and saying out loud, “Dad this year is going to be our [NYY] year.” I knew they were going to win the World Series that year. They had a hunger and intensity in 2009. A few trades and deals, by Cash didn’t hurt either. Watching the Captain fist pump on the final out. I closed my eyes, and said, “We did it Dad, we did it.”