Sunday, May 8, 2011


[Fair and Unbalanced contributor sasqi and her husband Paul are on a two-month road-trip stopping at several major- and minor-league ballparks.  This one's from Paul.]

Last night in Kansas City. Kauffman Stadium. Shades of blue around us. It was throwback night, with a retro hat giveaway and videos between innings about the old Kansas City A's (now Oakland), and Charley O the mule and Charley Finley's time in KC before he got the OK to move out west and win pennants. Got Kouzmanoff and Matsui to sign the brim of my A's cap while we watched batting practice, listened as the man behind us explained the game to his young son, everything from balls and strikes to why they took baseballs out of play so often to how to settle into the batter's box, bounce in the knees, lift the hands and ready the bat. One of those great games with 'bad' outcome, which means the A's lost. Run scored when the Royals player, Dyson, tagged up and left third a split second before the short fly was in Sweeney's mitt. If he hadn't, he might have been out, depending on the tag. Since the umps didn't call the infraction, the game ended, the Royals swarmed Dyson, and we listened to endless replays of the moment on KC radio driving away. The day started talking to our hosts in their kitchen about the mental side of baseball:  the play of expectations between batter and pitcher (he threw a changeup last time, low and inside, so I should expect a fastball, outside; since he swung at that sinker he'll expect me to throw another one so I'll try a high fast one inside), the calculations as a third baseman moves in on the grass or over to the line. And the day ended with chance: a missed call that decided the winner.

Ballpark is glorious, though, maybe the nicest we've seen so far--water in fountains and falls in the outfield, wide wings that stretch out the length of the left and  right field lines. The crown over the top of the huge scoreboard/screen looks dumb, but otherwise this is a stylish place to sit, yell, watch good ball. Which the Royals are playing right now.

In St. Louis, there was a Thursday giveaway of a vacation for two. They leaked the information about the winner over seven innings:  first the row number (15), then the seat number (7). I was in row 15, seat 6, so I told the guy next to me, who was oblivious to all this, that he could win. "I don't win anything ever," he replied, and we talked baseball instead. Sometime in there we got a visit from Fred Bird, who kissed F on the head with his bright red beak, and stood by taking photos with people. Finally, the winning section was named:  246. Fred Bird jumps over, along with the St. Louis cheering women wearing straw skirts around their uniforms, surrounding my next seat neighbor. Two tickets to the Dominican Republic. Face on the big screen. His girlfriend insisted they go down immediately to claim the prize; he wanted to stay to watch the rest of the game. Never saw him again.

[Related posts: No-No; Men Left On; WhataburgerThe Open Star]


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