When did the Omahas get a point?

Last night we drove to Albuquerque to watch the home team take on the Omaha Royals. The weather was perfect (not all that unusual in New Mexico, but it had been threatening to rain earlier). The crowd seemed to be in one giant good mood. Perhaps this was because it was Baseball Card Night at Isotopes Park, and everyone walking through the gates was handed a pack of 35 cards. *EDIT: Not everyone...the first 3,000 people. There were a little more than 9,000 people at the game.

The erudite Cards in the Attic--you know, Albuqwirke--has reviewed this set here.

One of the characteristics we like best is that the set is non-glossy. It's not flat or linen, it's just barely shiny. For Kris, that's a plus in the processing of obtaining autographs. And most cards are full-on glossy now, so this is a refreshing change. The cardstock is a tiny bit lighter than the average Topps or Upper Deck card. When you first open the pack, you are greeted by a refreshing scent, like a new magazine. This is second in happymaking only to the aura of bubblegum.

Back to the cards in a moment. We digress here with some shots of the Royals during practice before the game.

It's kind of fun seeing them all sprawled out or preparing to sprawl. More about #30, KK, momentarily.

A veritable rash of Royals.

The ever-thoughtful Omaha Royals are always tossing baseball into the stands.

JR House heads to the dugout after practice. (I'm acting like I know exactly who the players are. The truth is, I'm only 80 percent sure, so feel free to let me know if you suspect differently.)

This is the visitor's dugout at Isotopes Park.

The Isotopes mascot, Orbit, takes the field and I have to admit, the kids absolutely never tire of his hijinks.

Here on the left is some cardular equal time for the Royals mascot and his friends; this is one of the cards that came from Kris. I'll tell you HOW they came from Kris in a moment. What exactly is happening in that Drew van Dam card?
From the ridiculous on the left (no offense, Orbit) to the sublime on the right, Stephen Randolph. It was a treat to watch him pitch.

During the game, don't you love the infielders' Watchful Ready Crouch?

Catcher JR House at bat. We liked our seats because of the perfect view we had of home plate, first base, and even the minutiae of the first base foul line. Also, we are among those perhaps in the minority who LIKE the netting; since you have a lower probability of being mortally wounded by bat fragments and foul balls, you can keep your mind on the game. There were several missile-like bat bits and countless foul balls.

Hey, Brian Buchanan! Yes, I'm talking to you, buster. How come you're wearing Tom Seaver's number?

Before the game, there were a few polite autograph hounds at the Royals' dugout, but almost everyone was over by the 'Topes because it was home-team baseball card day. This gentleman on the left, a pleasant person, had the Baseball Card Shuffle down perfectly. The need to Shuffle is one of the reasons that I will never be an autograph hound. I lack the dexterity. There are so many players that it's too distracting to keep an eye on your kid, snap a pic, see who's coming out, and reach for the correct card all at once. Too much effort. That's why we do this instead: That way Lucy can talk to the players a little and it's easy for her to hand them the one card and a Sharpie. Most players seem quite upbeat about chatting with kids, too. There's nothing better than nice kids at ball games, and nothing worse than wiseacre kids. I've only seen some wiseacres at Major League games, never Triple A. Maybe we're just lucky.

Speaking of which, Kila Ka'aihue was extremely pleasant to the kids. Major points!

Mr. K isn't probably the Royals' best first base prospect (perhaps that would be Eric Hosmer, the third overall pick in last year's draft). But if anyone seems like big league material, it's this guy. Drafted out of high school in 2002, Mr. Ka'aihue played five years in the minors before hitting .315 last season with 37 home runs. His main problem is probably that the Royals aren't crying out for a first baseman or designated hitter. At 25 he's getting a little old to keep buried in the minors. If an injury or slump doesn't create an opportunity for him, maybe a trade will. As for Carlos Rosa, he opened 2008 with an outstanding start in Double-A (1.20 ERA) followed by a solid stint in Triple-A (4.09 ERA), making two brief outings in relief in the majors along the way. He averaged eight strikeouts per nine innings in the minors:

He is also known for doing a good job keeping the ball on the ground when hitters do make contact. He just needs to stay healthy, as he has already had Tommy John surgery.

This is Tommy Murphy, right? I oughta know my Irishmen.

Tim Hamulack, a Royals pitcher. He was born in 1983 but he looks a bit older because he seems worried.

In my continuing fog of unsureness, I'm thinking this is Yasuhiko Yabuta, also a pitcher. Courteous fellow and couldn't be nicer. As you can see, Lucy was wearing her giant oversize Camp Invention shirt, rather than her usual regular kid clothes, and it was so humongo it made her resemble a cute fireplug with feet.

This babyfaced lad is Chris Hayes, a pitcher--so nice it's almost scary. He gave Lucy a baseball.
Mario Lisson , tentative, polite, friendly. He was born in Caracas, Venezuela.
Here he is with the fireplug.

Chin-Lung Hu has a little routine whenever he's waiting to bat, and part of the routine is this foot tap. He is compact but has a tremendous amount of ooooomph in his practice swing.
These two fellows were TRANSFIXED whenever Hu appeared on deck. As opposed to in the deck. And when Hu was batting, Blake DeWitt stood like this (he's in the foreground):
When Hu walks off the field, Hu is no longer on first.

We were wondering if, every single time he runs toward first base, he's thinking "Oh boy, Hu's on first, la de dah," or if it's purely a cultural thing and so it never crosses his mind. Hard to believe, but perhaps Abbot and Costello comedy routines are not a touchstone for him.

By the way, during the game up on the Jumbotron appears, under a tribute to Groups in Attendance, guess who? Yes! Dinged Corners! I heard someone say, "Dinged Corners," and then The Dear Other Half says "Oh my! Look at that!" and of course when I looked, the moment was over, so I don't have a picture. But that was very cool. In a similar 'blogbrush with greatness' realm, have you seen the connection between Orel Hershiser and Night Owl, courtesy of the zman?

Repko and DeWitt were active last night. It seemed as if they came to bat a dozen times.

Another kid favorite, the chili pepper races. It always ends up being about the chili peppers; the taco and the jar of salsa never are seriously in contention, even if they happen to win. This is New Mexico, people. And remember. When asked "green or red?" just say "Christmas," and you won't embarrass yourself.

I took this from on high while wandering around with the kids to find some good ice cream. Tim Wallach is neat to watch as he, well, manages from near third base. His constant signaling and gesturing fascinates our older daughter. Sergio Garcia and Jamie Hoffman were pretty busy too. This is not the same Sergio Garcia as at the US Open, in case you were, like me, inexplicably wondering.

And this photo may seem like a tangent of some kind, but it's not. We've mentioned that I've for a long while collected lunchboxes. It must be something about rectangular pictures, since that's the only connection I can make from lunchboxes to baseball cards. (Don't even get me started about thermoses.) But before the game began last night, I was walking with the kids by some of the shops when who found me, somehow? Albuqwirke Kris Aaardvark, that's who. Maybe I'm identifiable because of the little Lucy attachment. I met Kris once before, for approximately one minute, and this time we talked for at LEAST two minutes. He has one of the most informative card blogs in the galaxy not so much because he covers the in-person autograph angle, but because he supplies so much context. Player histories, card history, official photos he has taken of players, just a lot of enjoyable narrative. There's also always an underlying sense that it would be very hard for anyone to pull one over on him. His blog is friendly, practical, and a little bit tough. But during that brief conversation, he handed us this:

That is not a metal baseball card. It's...a lunchbox! A real, full-sized lunchbox. THE REAL THING. We had to restrain ourselves from actually flipping because we were in public and all.

And Orbit is on the back!:

So we had this warm and fuzzy feeling that Blogville was well-represented at this game. For all we know, I Love This Game was probably also in attendance! It was a wonderful evening, made more so by encountering a friend that we barely know in person, but know well through the interwebs.

Well, my friends, you may be wondering about the game's score. My favorite line of the balmy evening came in the fourth inning when Mr. K hit a sacrifice fly to score Travis Metcalf and our older daughter turned to me soon after and said, "When did the Omahas get a point?" We harumphed and said, "That would be, 'the Royals scored a run in the top of the fourth.' " Eldest daughter also pointed out that the Royals have a Zero on their caps. Well, whatever.

The Isotopes won 9-1. And yes, we were rooting for the 'Topes, but I tell you, the Omahas couldn't have been nicer.

Lucy loves when the night game becomes a full tilt night name. I had to stop her from taking many, many of pictures of the lights. And as you may have discerned from everything we mentioned in this post, light came in many forms besides those bright lamps: a good game, a pleasant evening, our family being together, nice players, and Kris.


Scott said...

Great portrayal of a sense of the atmosphere

dayf said...

Awesome post. I tried taking pictures with my crummy camera last time I went to a game and most ended up blurry.

AlbuqwirkE said...

So, did you have ice cream or Dippin' Dots?

night owl said...

A) "Dinged Corners" was on the scoreboard???? Wha? Who? Huh?

B) I need to get some of those Isotopes cards.

C) My daughter has called runs "points" before. When I correct her, she says, "Well, I like calling them 'points.'" She says the same thing when I tell her "Wichita" is not pronounced "Wi-CHEET-tah" but "WITCH-i-taw"

She stands firm.

Dinged Corners said...

Scott, thank you, much appreciated. dayf, I have a fairly lame Kodak camera, but the weather/atmosphere of NM helps. K, they went for a swirly waffle cone rather than the Dippin' Dots this time. N.O., Kris/Albuqwirke has mysterious powers in regard to the scoreboard.

MattR said...

Shawn Estes is pitching for Albuquerque? How is he doing?

I went to a AAA game in Salt Lake City while travelling a few weeks ago. I had forgotten how much fun minor league games are. Now that the Diamondbacks are in Phoenix, the closest minor league city for me is Albuquerque--a 5 hour drive. :(

AlbuqwirkE said...

MattR, Shawn Estes "retired" last week. I imagine he did so in order to entertain offers from other clubs. I don't believe the Dodgers planned to use him, or trade him.

capewood said...

Nice post. Makes me almost feel like I was at the game.

I Orbit some sort of dog? When the Astros played in the Astrodome their mascot was named Orbit. he was a green skinned thing with antennae sticking out of his head. I guess he was supposed to be an alien keeping with the whole Space City thing.

Anonymous said...

Dude, the green and red chile always win because the suits are easier to run in. The Salsa and Taco outfits don't let your legs move. Well, I got to be the Taco and put that "never are seriously in contention" feeling to rest. I won for all the fans that cheer for the Taco!