Archive for August 12th, 2009

Rays Beat Pirates, Two Games To None, To Win Venezuelan Summer League Title

The Venezuelan Summer League became the first league to settle matters for the 2009 season on Wednesday when the VSL Rays beat the VSL Pirates, 8-2, to sweep the best-of-three playoff series.

Shortstop Hector Guevara and starting pitcher Eduar Quinonez led the way for the champions. Guevara was 3-5 with a homerun and five RBI in the deciding game and hit .615 for the two-game series; Quinonez held the Pirates hitless for the first five innings, earning the win when his teammates picked him up with five runs in the top of the inning.

Fifteen Years

Today is the fifteenth anniversary of two pretty important events in my life: on August 12, 1994, Major League Baseball players went on strike and my grandfather died.

I lived down the street from Grammy and Gramps from the day I was born to the days they passed away, but we were never close. Consequently, I don’t have many firm memories of either – Grammy loved professional wrestling and always, always, ALWAYS gave me cookies when I visited; that’s about as concrete as it gets – but much of what I can recall about Gramps revolves around baseball.

One thing in particular is a memory without sound, a silent film that plays only in my head and only when I let it: my grandfather, perched on his stool in the kitchen of their little house on Central Road, listening to his beloved Red Sox on the radio. I never saw him watch a game – only listen. He loved the modern game in a very old-school way.

It was always fitting to me that Gramps died on the day the players walked out, because he loved the game dearly. Not long after, in an assignment for school, I imagined him sitting up in heaven, lamenting the greed of everyone involved with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig (I was young and naive at the time and didn’t realize that Ruth loved money as much as the next guy and would’ve been right there with his fellow players had there been strikes in his day; I also somehow missed the irony of him talking baseball with a couple of Yankees). I’m sure he’s still there today, worrying over steroids and other scandalous issues.

My mother tells me that before Gramps died following a lengthy battle with lung cancer, I told him that I was going to hit a homerun for him someday. I was in high school by this time, the glory days of small town Little League falling further and further into the distance, and I had no right to make such a boastful comment. The words were, in fact, empty, no doubt a meager attempt to lend some comfort to a dying man’s last days, to let him know that some good would happen in the world he was leaving behind.

As it is, I forgot all about the promise, until the day I actually did hit a homerun, in the last game I ever played, in the last time I ever came to bat, and my mother reminded me of the words I had said. (Or at least what she remembered I had said.) I responded by finding a ball – not the original ball, mind you, just a replacement – writing the game info on the side, and leaving it at his grave site.

I lost baseball for awhile, but got it back thanks to the exploits of guys named Ripken, McGwire, Sosa, Pedro, and Ortiz. Our family lost Gramps for awhile, but got him back when my nephew was born and my sister decided her kids should call her father the same thing we had called his father. I resisted that at first – there was only one Gramps and it wasn’t right to call anyone else by that name – but it wasn’t long before I relented. As the years have passed, it has become more and more clear that my father isn’t really my father anymore – he has, with the addition of more and more grandchildren, seven now in total, become Gramps.

Fifteen years after the worst August 12 I could ever imagine, we have recovered. Once again, our family has baseball. Once again, we have Gramps. Life, as they say, is good.

You Have To Appreciate Good Customer Service

Last night, I ordered tickets to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats-Portland Sea Dogs doubleheader at Merchantsauto.com Stadium on August 29. My friend Billy and I had talked about getting up there for a game or two before the end of the season, so I suggested the two-for-one special and he agreed. It was originally supposed to be a sort of family night, with my wife and his girlfriend in attendance, but his lady is going to be extremely pregnant by the time the game rolls around and mine didn’t want to go with just me and Billy. So I ordered two tickets and called it a night.

When I texted Billy this morning to let him know the tickets were ordered, he told me that his girlfriend had changed her mind and now wanted to go. Well, if his girlfriend was going, my wife was going to want to go, which meant that I had a dilemma – how to get two more tickets in the same area.

The Fisher Cats box office opens at 9:30. At approximately 9:28, I gave them a call and spoke to a very nice and helpful gentleman named Joel, I think. Maybe it was Joe. Either way, he listened to my problem, took my information, worked some magic, and figured it all out. Got us two seats right next to the ones I’d already ordered. Total time on the phone: about ten minutes.

Of course, certain things worked in my favor. I ordered the tickets late last night and got to them early this morning, so there probably weren’t many orders in the meantime. I got the impression, however, that Joel would have done whatever he could to help me out, regardless of the situation, and that type of customer service is impressive.

Actually, the coolest thing was that as we were getting ready to hang up, he said that he was going to send a confirmation email with my receipt to my email address. Seconds later, I received a text message telling me that I had an email from the team’s ticketing service. It was that fast.

We’ve had good experiences with the Fisher Cats before, in terms of ballpark operations, so it’s nice to see that their professionalism extends to multiple facets of the organization.

Happy Birthday To You, Colby Rasmus – Love, Your Brother Cory

Tuesday was Colby Rasmus’s 23rd birthday. His brother Cory, who is fifteen months younger, managed to upstage his brother’s big day: he pitched a no-hitter.

Cory is a pitcher for the Danville Braves of the Appalachian League. On Tuesday, while his brother was going 2-for-5 in a Cardinals loss to the Reds, Cory was shutting down the Princeton Rays. He worked seven innings, walking one and striking out nine to even his record at 2-2.

It officially doesn’t matter if Cory ever makes the majors now, or if he does, for how long. The important thing is that he has something awesome to hold over big brother’s head for the rest of their lives.