Saturday, June 27, 2009

New York Trip Report

Last week, my mom, my dad, my little sister, my grandma, my granddad, and I took a baseball-centered trip to New York City. This was my second trip to New York. I also went in 2002 when I was 6 and my parents took me to Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium and Fenway Park. With the opening of the new Yankees and Mets stadiums, it was time to go back. Following is the report on our trip.

Wednesday June 17

We flew out of Dallas at around 10 in the morning and got to New York with no delays. The plane ride went very smoothly, and we landed at LaGuardia Airport right on time. We grabbed a couple of taxis and went to our hotel, getting to experience some gridlock New York traffic on the way. I was in a taxi with my grandparents and one of the traffic delays we experienced was some police officers stopping a car in front of us, placing three people from the car against a wall, and arresting them. Just another day in New York I think. We stayed at the Double Tree Suites right on Times Square, and it was awesome. We had a great view, because right outside of our window was the north end of Times Square, with all of the big screens they have there. My little sister Kate particularly liked the M&M’s World video screen we could see from our room. We got two suites, one for my grandparents, and one for my parents, my sister, and me, and the suites had two rooms each. Since we got connecting rooms, for Kate and me it was like having four rooms and two bathrooms.

Once we checked in to our hotel, my dad, my granddad and I left almost immediately to take the subway to the New Yankee Stadium (the rest of the family came later, closer to game time). The new stadium is amazing. You walk out of the Subway station and it’s right there. The outside is great. They’ve made it look like old Yankee Stadium, before the mid-70’s renovations messed it up. On the side where we came out, the sidewalk right by the stadium is called Babe Ruth Plaza, and it has a bunch of different signs and plaques about the Babe and the things he did. Another cool thing is that old Yankee Stadium is still standing, so we got to see the two stadiums side-by-side.

When you enter the stadium, you’re in the “Great Hall”, which has pictures of all the Yankee greats on huge banners on the wall. We went straight to Monument Park, and the line really wasn’t that bad (at this point it was about 4:30 and game time was 2.5 hours away). But the New York Giants were at that game and decided they wanted to see Monument Park, and so of course nobody could get in until they were done. So we waited for 20 minutes or so for the Giants to be done, and then they crammed in twice as many people into the park as could fit to make up for that. But it was great. They moved all the stuff from the old Yankee Stadium to the new one, so it’s pretty much the same thing (which is a good thing). They have all of the retired numbers, with plaques underneath the numbers about those players. They have the five free-standing monuments (Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Miller Huggins). And they have plaques on the wall for other Yankee greats (like Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson). It’s a great area and we spent a lot of time there reading all of the information. It’s more compact than the Monument Park at the old stadium, where the retired numbers were basically in a walkway leading to a separate area with the monuments and other plaques. Another neat thing is that, when you’re done looking at the plaques and monuments, you can turn around and watch batting practice (Monument Park is located in center field). Basically, it’s one of the neatest areas at any ballpark anywhere.

After Monument Park, we tried to go to the Yankees Museum, a small museum at the ballpark about the Yankees and their history. But there was a huge line to get in and it didn’t seem to be moving. My dad asked an employee what was going on and, guess what, the New York Giants decided they wanted to see the museum too, so again everyone else had to wait for them to be done. Since the museum is open all through the game, we decided to leave and come back later.

We took a walk around the rest of the ballpark. The Yankees have done a great job celebrating their history. For example, as you walk along the main concourse, you see pictures from each of the Yankees’ 26 world championships above the concession stands (in order, basically walking you through their history). And on the mid-level concourse, they have pictures of every Yankee that’s been named AL MVP, from Babe Ruth to A-Rod. Those sorts of things were great touches.

It was around game time, so we headed to our seats. It was tough to get tickets to the game so we had to use StubHub and weren’t able to get great seats or anything. We sat on the second row from the top of the stadium, but we were right behind home plate, so it wasn’t too bad. We got lucky, and we saw the Nationals beat the Yankees 3-2. It was a really good game. Jon Lannan pitched for the Nationals, and did great, going 8 and a third, allowing only two runs on four hits, and improving his record to 4-5 (even though he had a 3.38 ERA). Mike MacDougal got his first save since July 16th, 2006, going two-thirds of an inning, and allowing no runs. Chien-Ming Wang pitched for the Yankees, giving up all three Nationals runs in five innings of work, giving him another loss to make his record 0-5, but lowering his ERA to a mere 12.30. Phil Hughes pitched two good innings after him. Adam Dunn had a solo home run in the 4th to give the Nationals a one-run lead, which they then expanded to 3-0 in the 5th with a 2-run triple by Nick Johnson. But in the bottom of the inning, Robinson Cano hit a solo homer to cut the lead to 3-1. The final run was a solo shot by Johnny Damon in the bottom of the 9th to lead off the inning.

After the game, we went back to the Yankees Museum. It’s smallish but is a nice extra touch to the stadium, especially since there’s no extra charge for admission. It’s just one room. In the middle are hundreds of baseballs signed by various Yankees. Along the walls are a tribute to Babe Ruth, Thurman Munson’s locker, seats from different eras of the old Yankee Stadium, and information and artifacts about each of the Yankees’ World Series championships. They have the championships divided up between what they call the Babe Ruth Era, the Joe DiMaggio Era, the Mickey Mantle Era, the Reggie Jackson Era, and the Derek Jeter Era.

After we were done with the museum, we hit the subway and headed back to the hotel.

Thursday June 18

On Thursday it was rainy, wet, and cold all day, but we still took the subway to Coney Island. It was very disappointing because all the rides were closed. We got to see the Cyclone roller coaster but couldn’t ride it. We went to the aquarium, but a lot of the best stuff (the walruses, sea lions, and penguins) weren’t out because of the rain. But we still had a good time there. After the aquarium, we went to eat lunch at the original Nathan’s Famous (hot dog place), which was excellent. They were definitely some of the best hot dogs I’ve ever had. Even though it wasn’t the perfect Coney Island experience, it was good to see it and we had fun with the things we did.

We were glad that we picked Wednesday to go to the Yankees game. Thursday’s game had a 5.5 hour rain delay. We were a little worried about our Friday Mets game because it was supposed to rain the whole time we were there.

After Coney Island, we hung out at the hotel for a while before walking Times Square and going to the three-story Toys R’ Us they have there. My dad took Kate on the huge Ferris Wheel that goes through all three floors, which she enjoyed.

We ate dinner at the Stardust Diner on 51st Street, where the waiters and waitresses sing songs every few minutes. It was really fun. If you’re ever in New York, I recommend it.

We then went to M&M’s World (a store). It’s actually a good store and isn’t just a bunch of candy or anything. They do have a lot of candy though, including M&M flavors and colors that you can’t get anywhere else.

Friday June 19

We got lucky Friday and the rain held off all day. We went to Central Park, which, amazingly, has no signs except for “Stay off grass”. There are no signs to help you find anything. We pretty much went straight to the Central Park Zoo, and had good timing, as we got there right before the sea lion feeding show. They had the sea lions do tricks for fish. They also had penguins, polar bears, snow leopards, snow monkeys, birds, leaf-cutter ants, tortoises, a red panda (panda-face, lemur-body), and other stuff. Overall, I was amazed by how big and nice Central Park was.

Afterwards we went to eat at Mickey Mantle’s, which is right by Central Park. It was really cool (but really expensive), as it had sports memorabilia all over the place and good food.

After that, we went back to the hotel for a couple of hours before taking the 7 train to the Mets game at their new ballpark, Citi Field.

Citi Field was very nice, although not as good as the Yankees’ new stadium. The outside was based on Ebbets Field, which was a nice touch. They have some banners outside the ballpark with pictures of past Mets greats. Shea Stadium has already been torn down and turned into a parking lot. My dad and I walked to the spot in the parking lot where the field used to be and found plaques marking the former locations of home plate, each base, and the pitchers’ mound. That was a good touch too.

Inside the stadium, the best part is the entryway, called the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. It’s a huge area, all of which is a tribute to Jackie, both as a player and as a person. Walking around the stadium, there’s not too much to see and they didn’t do anywhere near as good a job of celebrating their history as the Yankees did. They had the old apple from Shea and that was about it. Above the old apple are pennants for the Mets’ various playoff appearances and championships but you can’t even see those from the seating area. There’s also a good kids’ play area, which is something that the Yankees didn’t have.

Our seats were in the upper deck, on the third base side. The Mets won the game 5-3 over the Tampa Bay Rays. The Mets took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second on a Brian Schneider home run, his 1st of the year, to deep right-center. We were glad to see a home run so that we could see the new apple come up. The Mets scored another in the bottom of the 3rd on a David Wright RBI-double to give them a 4-0 lead. BJ Upton scored on a fielder’s choice in the top of the 6th to cut the Mets’ lead to 4-1, and then in the top of the 7th BJ cut the Mets’ lead to 4-3 with a 2-out, 2-RBI double to score Gabe Gross and Jason Bartlett. But Ryan Church put the Rays away in the bottom of the 8th with an RBI single to give the Mets a 5-3 lead, which would end up being the final score. Andy Sonnanstine was the starter for the Rays and got the loss to make him 5-7, as he allowed 4 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks in just 6 innings. Fernando Nieve pitched for the Mets, and he pitched well, going 6 innings, allowing only 1 run and 3 hits. K-ROD recorded his 18th save of the year, pitching a perfect 9th.

After the game, we beat the crowd to the subway and headed back to the hotel.

Saturday June 20

On Saturday morning, my grandparents went to Rockefeller Center while the rest of us went to the World of Disney store, which is really, really cool, and is three floors just like Toys R’ Us. It used to have character appearances, which my little sister would’ve enjoyed, but since they’re about to go out of business they stopped doing those in February. The World of Disney store isn’t like the Disney Stores in the malls. It has merchandise from the theme parks that you can’t get anywhere else. They’re closing sometime next year when their lease expires, which is a shame.

After that we went to the hotel to get ready to go to a Broadway play, The Little Mermaid, which was very good. It was my second Broadway play (we saw The Lion King in 2002) and Kate’s first. The whole family really enjoyed it.

After that, we were supposed to go see the Staten Island Yankees (Short-Season A Yankees minor league team), but the game got rained out at 4:00 PM for a 7:00 PM game. It was good we didn’t take the ferry ride out there just to see that it was cancelled, but I was still really disappointed. Instead, we went around Times Square again, and ate at John’s Pizzeria, which had great food, but the worst service I’ve ever seen (and I’m not exaggerating). We also went to the Hershey Store, which was very disappointing (especially compared to M&M’s World), because there was nothing to it, so we were in and out of there within a few minutes. After picking out some Christmas ornaments, we went back to the hotel, and stayed there for the rest of the night.

Sunday June 21

On Sunday morning, my dad and I took the subway and PATH trains to Hoboken, New Jersey in order to try to find Elysian Fields, the site of the first organized baseball game. When we came up from the train station, we were about 14 blocks from the site, so we got to see a lot of the city walking there and back. Hoboken actually seemed pretty nice, with lots of shops and restaurants along Washington Street (their main street). When we got to the former site of Elysian Fields, they had a plaque marking it as the site of the first organized baseball game in 1846, a baseball painted in the middle of the intersection, and then a marker at each of the four corners of the intersection marking the former location of the bases (home plate, first base, etc.). It was really cool, and they did a really nice job with it. They also had a logo at the Hoboken City Hall declaring Hoboken as the birthplace of baseball. We then walked back to the train station, picking up some hot chocolate at Starbucks along the way (it was cold and raining again), and took the train back to Manhattan.

After that we went to the airport (JFK this time), and got out with just a minor rain delay. It was a great trip and we really got pretty lucky that the rain didn’t impact more of our plans. I’ve now seen games at 29 major league ballparks (23 current, 6 retired) and my dad’s been to 45 (30 current, 15 retired). Minnesota is the next target when they open their new stadium next year.

Results of the last poll:
Of the players numbers 31-35 on my All-Time Rangers List, which one do you think had the best Rangers career?
Hank Blalock – 43%
Bert Blyleven – 43%
Steve Comer – 14%
Jon Matlack – 0%
Doc Medich – 0%

Come back next week for my All-Star Teams through June.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

#31-35 Top 50 All-Time Rangers List

This week the Rangers had an awesome draft. Their first two picks were Matthew Purke in the first round and Tanner Scheppers in the supplemental round. Both were steals. Baseball America had Purke (P) as the #10 talent in the draft, and the Rangers got him with the 14th pick, and Baseball America had Scheppers (P) as the #9 talent in the draft, and the Rangers got him with the 44th pick. It’s fun to watch the Rangers continue to stock the best farm system in baseball. If you want to see full details on the Rangers draft, Eleanor Czajka has the best coverage anywhere on her Minor Details Page at Also, if you’re not already reading it, Eleanor has one of the best baseball blogs anywhere (Girls Don’t Know Anything About Baseball) at

Also, they traded cash for Jason Grilli (majors) and picked up El Duque (minors). Jason had a 6.05 ERA in 19.1 innings this year for the Rockies before he got traded, and has only pitched 3 innings as a Ranger so far. But even though he has struggled so far this year he has done well in the past. Just last year for the Rockies, he had an ERA as low as 2.93 in 61.1 innings pitched, and had a total ERA for the year of 3.00 (he also played for the Tigers last year). Jason has been in the majors off and on since 2000 and has a career ERA of 4.75. In order to make room for Grilli, the Rangers sent Kris Benson to triple-A. I like this move. Grilli has good upside and we didn’t lose anything to get him. If he works out, great. If not, no loss. An added bonus was that it caused them to make a move with Benson, who was really struggling in the long relief role (8.46 ERA). But they kept Benson in the organization and will have him working as a starter in the minors, which gives them extra depth in case they have more injuries in the rotation.

El Duque (or Orlando Hernandez) hasn't played since 2007, but played well in '07, as he had a 3.72 ERA and a 9-5 record in 147.2 innings. He has a career record of 90-65 and a career ERA of 4.13. Since it was a minor league contract, it's a low risk, high reward signing, so I like it.

This week I will give numbers 31-35 on my Top 50 All-Time Rangers List. See my May 9th entry for the previous installment.

Note: stats do not include the Washington Senators, just the Rangers.

35. Bert Blyleven: 11 shut-outs (t-3rd), 2.74 ERA (best, min. 400 IP), 23-23, 326 K, 437 IP,

Even though Bert only spent two seasons as a Ranger, he still pitched 437 innings, had 326 strikeouts (24th in Rangers history), and, most importantly, has the best ERA in Rangers history, at only 2.74. Not to mention that he is tied for 3rd in shutouts with 11 and pitched a no-hitter against the Angels on September 22, 1977.

34. Steve Comer: 3.80 ERA (11th, min .400 IP), .574 W% (3rd, min. 400 IP), 39-29, 205 K, 575.2 IP

Steve has a very good ERA at 3.80, 11th in Rangers history, to go along with a great record at 39-29. Among all Ranger pitchers with at least 400 innings pitched as a Ranger, Steve has the 3rd best winning percentage at .574. But just like Doc Medich, he didn’t strike out very many batters, as his K/9 IP is only about 3.2. But, anyway, his ERA and record pretty much make him a clinch for the list.

33. Hank Blalock: .273 AVG, 140 HR, 499 RBI, All-Star (‘03, ‘04)

Hank is a two-time All-Star, and he’s also a guy with the 9th most home runs in Ranger history and counting. He’s also 10th in Ranger RBI’s. Even though his batting average isn’t too great, all his other stats (in the three major categories) are pretty good, and good enough to get him into the All-Star game twice.

32. Doc Medich: .538 W%, 50-43, 3.95 ERA, 790.1 IP, 322 K

As a Ranger, Doc had a .538 winning percentage with a 50-43 record, and had a pretty good ERA to go with that (3.95 ERA, 16th in Rangers history). He didn’t strike out many people, as he had only 3.7 K’s per 9 innings. But that doesn’t take anything away from his record or his ERA, and so it doesn’t keep him off this list.

31. Jon Matlack: 3.41 ERA (3rd, min. 400 IP), 43-45, 493 K, 915 IP

Even though Jon has a losing record with the Rangers, he’s still on this list. He shouldn’t have a losing record because he has the 3rd best ERA in Rangers history with a minimum of 400 innings pitched at 3.41. In 1978 alone, he had 18 complete games, and has 32 complete games total as a Ranger, 6th in Rangers history. His 493 strikeouts rank 14th in Ranger history and his 915 innings pitched rank 8th. I think all that makes up for the losing record.

Results of last week’s poll:
Which of my MVP’s or MVP Runner-up’s do you think has had the best year so far?
Nelson Cruz – 37%
Evan Longoria – 25%
Raul Ibanez – 18%
Ian Kinsler – 12%
Albert Pujols – 6%
Justin Morneau – 0%

Next week I will be taking a break, so come back in two weeks for my All-Star Teams through June.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

May Awards

This week I did my May Awards. These are who I would give my awards to as if the season ended today.

I’d like to wish a speedy recovery to Eric Nadel and Josh Hamilton. Also, I’m interested to see how Padilla responds tomorrow to being putting on waivers and being left unclaimed. I predict a strong game from Padilla.


MVP: Nelson Cruz, TEX (.286 AVG, 16 HR, 41 RBI): Nelson is tied for second in the American League in home runs, and first among Rangers. Also, he has a good batting average and is 9-for-10 on stolen base attempts and has a chance to be in the 30-30 club.
Runner-up: Ian Kinsler, TEX (.281 AVG, 15 HR, 44 RBI)

Cy Young: Kevin Millwood, TEX (5-4, 2.96 ERA, 48 K): Kevin is tied for 7th in the AL in ERA and has a winning record. Not only that, but he has been an innings-eater, throwing the 3rd most innings in the AL.
Runner-up: Scott Feldman, TEX (5-0, 3.79 ERA, 31 K)

Rookie of the Year: Elvis Andrus, TEX (.278 AVG, 3 HR, 12 RBI): His defense has saved so many runs and saved the pitchers so many pitches, he would probably be here if he didn’t even bat at all. The fact that his offense has been above expectations is just a bonus.
Runner-up: Darren O’Day, TEX (2-0, 1.06 ERA, 15 K)


MVP: Justin Morneau, MIN (.344 AVG, 15 HR, 51 RBI): Justin is tied for 1st in batting average among the top 10 RBI leaders in the AL and is 3rd in RBI’s in the AL. That doesn’t even mention the fact that he is tied for 5th in the AL in home runs with Ian Kinsler.
Runner-up: Evan Longoria, TB (.322 AVG, 13 HR, 55 RBI)

Cy Young: Zach Grienke, KC (8-2, 1.55 ERA, 91 K): Even though Grienke’s ERA has skyrocketed from April, he still leads the majors in ERA by almost half a run per game. He also is 2nd in the American League in strikeouts and is tied for 2nd in wins.
Runner-up: Roy Halladay, TOR (9-1, 2.77 ERA, 82 K)

Rookie of the Year: Rick Porcello, DET (6-4, 3.70 ERA, 34 K): Rick is tied for 18th in the AL in ERA, and has 6 wins on the year. Even though most years that might not be ROY worthy, there is very weak competition this year.
Runner-up: Elvis Andrus, TEX (.278 AVG, 3 HR, 12 RBI)

Comeback Player of the Year: Jason Bartlett, TB (.373 AVG, 7 HR, 30 RBI): After having an on-base percentage of just .329 last year, Bartlett is leading all of baseball in batting average at .373, and has already hit 6 more home runs than last year and is closing in on his RBI total.
Runner-up: Victor Martinez, CLE (.344 AVG, 9 HR, 40 RBI)

Manager of the Year: Ron Washington, TEX (32-22, 1st place): The Rangers are tied for the best record in the American League and lead their division, and with the Rangers having a losing record last year, that should get him the award.
Runner-up: Terry Francona, BOS (32-23, 2nd place)


MVP: Raul Ibanez, PHI (.332 AVG, 19 HR, 54 RBI): Raul is dominating National League pitching, as he is well over the century mark in batting average at .332, is leading the NL in RBI’s, and is 2nd in the NL in home runs.
Runner-up: Albert Pujols, STL (.344 AVG, 18 HR, 49 RBI)

Cy Young: Matt Cain, SF (7-1, 2.27 ERA, 53 K): Matt is 7-1, and is tied with four other pitchers for the National League lead in wins, but among that group, Cain has the least amount of losses. Plus, Matt is 2nd in the NL in ERA, behind only Johan Santana of the Mets.
Runner-up: Johan Santana, NYM (7-3, 2.00 ERA, 89 K)

Rookie of the Year: Chris Volstad, FLA (4-5, 3.65 ERA, 59 K): Don’t let the record betray you. Volstad has done great this season and just hasn’t gotten the run support. When you have a 3.65 ERA, you shouldn’t have a losing record.
Runner-up: Dexter Fowler, COL (.256 AVG, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 11 SB, Terrible Competition)

Comeback Player of the Year: Nick Johnson, WAS (.323 AVG, 4 HR, 27 RBI): After injuries held Johnson to just 109 at-bats last season, where he hit just .220, Johnson has been able to stay healthy so far this year, and is hitting .323.
Runner-up: Michael Bourn, HOU (.302 AVG, 1 HR, 13 RBI)

Manager of the Year: Ken Macha, MIL (32-23, 1st place): It’s pretty amazing that the Brewers are in first place in their division with their pitching staff. Really, I would’ve been less surprised if they were in last place at this point, so I think that Macha deserves this award.
Runner-up: Joe Torre, LAD (38-19, 1st place)

Come back next week for numbers 31 through 35 on my Top 50 All-Time Rangers list.