Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category
From a purely rooting point of view, I want the Diablos Rojos to win tonight. It’s game six in the first round of the playoffs (that is to say, the quarter-finals). The Diablos won the first two games at home last Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Toros de Tijuana won their three home games over the weekend. It’s a best-of-seven series. The Diablos absolutely need to win tonight. And if they do that, game seven will be tomorrow night.
This season, the Diablos’ stadium is a lot smaller (less than 5,000 capacity), and getting tickets is a pain in the arse. They have an online ticket sales but my non-Mexican credit card doesn’t work on their site, so when I want tickets for playoff games, I have to go to queue up when the tickets go on sale. For the first two games of the playoffs, my pal Samuel and I arrived 75 minutes before the advertised start time for ticket sales, and we were about 130th in the line.
Once the Toros won game four and assured us of a game six, they announced the sale of tickets on the next day. I was there about an hour and a half early, and the line was a whole lot shorter, but crucially, when I was choosing which section and row to sit in, I could see on the screen that way more people had used the online booking. Not so many tickets still available in my preferred section.
Which brings us to tonight’s game. There’s a part of me that kinda wouldn’t mind if the Diablos lost. When I am there in a couple of hours, I will of course want them to win, but right now, the thought of the Diablos winning, and not knowing what kind of time suck and ballache will occur tomorrow when I want to get a ticket for game seven… well, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if they lost. The thought of getting tickets for game seven, and if they win that, the next two home games in the semi-finals, stresses me out, too much. (I’ve typed about ticket stress before here.) Plus, it’s my girlfriend’s birthday on the same day as a possible game one of the semi-finals, and her birthday party on Saturday, the same day as game two. And if the Diablos were to get to the Serie del Rey (that is, the final) then, gosh knows how tough it’s gonna be to get non-online tickets from the ticket booth.
All of this comes down to my semi-ambivalence to the idea of playoffs. The Diablos were by far the best team in the Mexican League. So there we go. End of story. Diablos were the best team. But no, we have to endure the idiocy of playoffs where an eighth best team in the league could still conceivable be “champions.” In my head, I know that my team were the best team this year, yet we still have to go through this charade. Last season, the Diablos were the best team in the regular season, and won the championship in the playoffs, too. My joy – and it was proper joy – was partly because the coin toss-iness of the playoffs had not got in the way of proving what I already knew. And it’ll be the same tonight. I just want them to win so that what I already know will be confirmed by the record books. And if they don’t, well, the record books in my head will keep a note, and I won’t have to stress about tickets anymore.
Update, 26 August: Diablos won 14-1. There will be a seventh game tonight. Tickets go on sale at 11am. I will, of course, traipse over to the stadium to buy a ticket, return home, then go back to the stadium for the game. I’m not gonna say it’s a hard life, just, y’know, it’s essentially 2-3 hours wasted in the middle of the day.
Something interesting happened last night: I picked a seat in a different section at the baseball park. A bit of background: last season was the, err, last season that the Diablos Rojos were playing in Foro Sol. It is a 26,000 capacity concert venue that just happened to be big enough to fit a baseball field, so when the Diablos’ old park got sold in 2000 (I think), they ended up at Foro Sol. Foro Sol was one of those sports venues that objectively is awful but you are fond of it because it’s where your team plays and you have a ton of memories based there. Indeed, apart from apartments I’ve lived in, I have spent more time at Foro Sol than anywhere else in Mexico City. And I’ve deffo spent more time at Foro Sol than any other sports venue in the whole wide world.
Anyway, Formula One motor racing is back in Mexico City this season. Foro Sol is inside the racing track. And with the renovations that will be taking place, they’re putting a corner through the outfield of the baseball field. Thus, the Diablos moved. They will get a brand new city-funded ballpark in 2017, but until then, the team is playing at a local municipal park that they renovated over the winter. It’s called Estadio Fray Nano, and it’s bloody lovely. Dead small, like 4,000 capacity, which makes the somewhat underwhelming crowds seem a lot better. A crowd of 1,800 looks okay in a 4,000 seater stadium, whereas at Foro Sol, it was a bit rubbish.
The biggest difference between the parks, aside from the size and the understandable price increase (tickets in the section I usually sit in used to be 70 pesos, and are now 100 pesos), is that it’s no longer general admission. Your ticket has a seat number now. At Foro Sol I pretty much always sat in the exact same seat. I would rock up half an hour before the game and plonk myself down, six or seven rows above the walkway, just to the right (that is, first base side) of home plate. Now when I buy a ticket, I have to explain kinda where I wanna sit every time. (This also makes the queues at the ticket booths a lot lot slower than before.) At Estadio Fray Nano, I have taken to asking for a ticket in the last row in the middle right above home plate. Last row cos it’s still closer than where I used to sit at Foro Sol, and because it’s nice not having people behind you, and above that last row is the team owner’s box and he has a TV in there so I can peak up and watch replays.
The view from where I used to sit at Foro Sol
The view from where I normally sit at Fray Nano
Last night, though, there were no tickets available in the last row above home plate. This happens at Friday, Saturday, and Sunday games, I’ve noticed. More people means the good seats tend to get snapped up at the online ticket store. I can’t be arsed with buying tickets online. I like a ticket ticket, not an A4 printout. Anyhow, no massive deal, I’ll get tickets for me and three pals in the section to the right, back row, next to the steps. My pals would all be arriving a bit later than me, so I went up to my seat, sat down, ordered a Corona, and watched the players warming up.
Something felt different. Something felt right. It was the feeling that I was sat back where I should be sat, just to the right (that is, first base side) of home plate. They are probably “better” seats where I have been sitting, dead centre, but just to the right (that is, first base side) of home plate is where I belong.
The view from where I sat last night
My mate Samuel arrived, we had a chat, watched the planes flying into Benito Juárez International Airport, watched the visiting Acereros de Monclova get a runner to third with no outs and the Diablos go in without conceding a run. Gabriel and Jorge arrived a bit later. It was Gabriel’s first Mexican baseball game (he’d seen the White Sox before on holiday in Chicago) and Jorge’s first ever baseball game. The sky turned an orange-y pink, the game was 0-0 in the fifth inning, a pretty rare thing in Mexico City.
It was tight, the park was pretty full, the atmosphere was really good, it was a fun night. I was happy. It’s good to have the newcomers with you experiencing a good game. Japhet Amador homered off the first pitch in the bottom of the sixth, and by the end of that half-inning, it was 4-0. Monclova got a couple back in the next inning, and that’s how it ended. A fun game with baseball virgins. A nice swift sub-three-hour game on a nice not-too-hot-or-nippy evening. You know why, right? I was back home. New home, but back home. Section B2, row M, around seat 140-ish. Just to the right (that is, first base side) of home plate.
This is one of eleven infographics I did last September for Sports Illustrated about Derek Jeter’s career. You can see the others here: http://flipflopflyin.com/flipflopflyball/info-derekjeter.html
27 July 2005, ten years ago today, I went to a baseball game for the first time.
Here’s the (slightly-embarrassing) blog post I wrote afterwards:
Here’s a chart I did back in March for the Bay Area News Group regarding the Oakland Athletics’s general manager Billy Beane.
A quite pointless chart re the names of the five main professional sports leagues in the United States.
I Photoshopped all the advertising out of this photograph of [Beer Brand] Field, Denver, Colorado.
My favourite baseball stadium, aesthetically, is Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. I’ve only been there once, but on that visit, I arrived a couple of hours early, just so I could have a good look around, while it was relatively empty. In the last year or so, I’ve found myself, not really consciously, repeatedly drawing Dodger Stadium. I can pretty much do a stylised version of it from memory now. Here are all seven of the Dodger Stadium drawings I’ve done between January 2014 and April 2015.
I’ve been keeping a chart for a few years now, just noting down when I went to sporting events.
Here you go, waste a few seconds of your day looking at this rubbish, why don’t you?
2015, so far:
I did a super quick doodle of three friends and I a couple of weeks back:
These three friends and I became friends because of baseball, thus the title.
I liked the doodle, so spruced it up a bit digitally:
As some of you may remember, I used to contribute to NotGraphs, a now-dead offshoot of the ace FanGraphs site. Since NotGraphs’s death, several of the contributors have continued doing similar stuff at Banknotes Industries. Including me. You can see several of my things over there, should you be deathly bored.
I’m a little bit obsessed with making sure I am not lazy. I feel lazy a lot. But, in 2013, I decided to make a list. Nothing strange there, really, but I made a list last year, and I made the list again this year. I did 747 creative things in 2013. This year, I have done 781 things up to and including the 27th of December. How I define “creative things” is simple. It could be a drawing for a sketch to something detailed and time-consuming. I treat those things equally. Likewise, I include blog posts that are unique pieces, so the 17 daily posts about being on holiday in Belize count as 17 creative things. I am happy that I did more stuff than last year, but mostly, I am happy I did more than 365 things.
Before I began keeping note, I hoped that would do at least one thing a day, and, anyone with the barest of maths skills will see that I’ve done way more than that: 2.05 things a day in 2013, 2.16 things per day to date in 2014. But, of course, I can’t just be happy with that. Now my stupid brain is thinking I’m placing too much emphasis on doing a LOT. Maybe I should concentrate on quality, not quantity.
My career, such as it is, is going nowhere. Treading water. Bulls need to be taken by the horns and I need to do better stuff, more substantial stuff. That was something that really hit home when I had the exhibition in London in April. It was fun and humbling and everything to see people looking at my stuff on a wall, but, it was pure vanity, ultimately. The exhibition lost money. I hardly sold anything and it cost me a lot of money to prepare it and get to London and spend three weeks there. I hate that I think of that experience as a failure, but I do.
It’s been an odd year. I moved out of my last apartment before Xmas 2013 because I lived with cunts and the realisation that they were cunts came about very quickly. I realised on a Tuesday, and I’d moved out on the Sunday. I spent a lot of time in London on two trips. And my love for Mexico goes up and down daily. I have a tendency to let things get to me. I had an idea for a book which I spent a bunch of time working on, but I’ve totally abandoned the idea. Not gonna happen.
Looking back through those 781 things from 2014, there’s not a huge amount I’m particularly happy with. I need to do better. I’m not getting any younger and I need to do better so that drawing can keep on paying for my food and rent. Which brings me to look back at what I think is the best, my best, my favourite ten things of 2014. More than anything, it’s nice to remind myself that, despite all the nail-biting, I am quite good at this sometimes. So feel free to click away to another Web site right now, the rest of the post is all blah blah. Thanks for looking at my stuff this year. Happy new year.
In no particularly order…:
Vueling Flight 7823
Girl Scout Heron
The first three things that I really like are drawings done with the Paper app on my iPad. I’ve not used it so much recently because it keeps crashing on my ancient first generation iPad. It was an app I enjoyed. It freed up my drawing a lot, made things a lot sketchier. I really like the Miley drawing, simply because it was done when I had nothing in my head and finished less than a minute later. The drawing of the aeroplane makes me giggle, and the Girl Scout Heron drawing, whilst not a particularly good drawing (I shouldn’t’ve given him a neck, the beard should be covering it completely), still amuses me.
I’ve spent the last decade enjoying beautiful baseball stadiums. Modern and old. Even crappy baseball stadiums are pretty cool. I wanted to draw something that was the complete opposite. An ugly, purely functional stadium. And when I think of such places, Scunthorpe United’s ground Glanford Park is the one that jumps into my head.
2014 was, I think, the first year since 2005 that baseball wasn’t entirely what I wanted to do stuff about. I’ve done a lot less infographics in general this year, and specifically less baseball-related infographics. But, for a big chunk of the year, I contributed to the now-defunct NotGraphs blog, which was a part of the not-defunct FanGraphs. For that site, I mostly did drawings and a bit of writing here or there. It was fun. There’s an archive of my stuff here. My favourite thing for NotGraphs was a bunch of drawings of vendors at my local baseball stadium in Mexico City. (And should you be a fan of NotGraphs, several of the contributors, including me occasionally, still do similar stuff at Banknotes Industries.)
I Wanna Dance with Somebody
Next up is a story I thought of in 2013 in a taxi. I’m a big fan of airdancers, the flappy things that are hooked up to a fan and dance in front of car dealerships and the like. So I did a children’s story about an airdancer in Mexico City called I Wanna Dance with Somebody.
I find getting a likeness of people quite difficult. I don’t have the patience for it. But this one came together really quickly. Once I realised Lionel Messi’s eyes could just be dots, it all fell into place. Plus, I enjoyed drawing the kit and boots. I did a lot of football drawings this year, but this was the best, I think.
Bandstand is simple infographic idea. I like it because of its simplicity. And the fact that I can keep on adding to it forever and ever.
This is a companion to the Mexico City drawing I did in 2013. I wanted to show the Mexico City one at the exhibition in London, so felt it might be nice to do a London version to go with it. You can see it full-size here. The nicest part of this, though, for me, was that I was contacted about doing a slightly altered version for the cover of Time Out in London. This was quite the honour, a wee personal triumph. Being a provincial boy, London was always the coolest place, and whenever I visited, one of the first things I would do would be to buy a copy of Time Out. Here’s the version that was on that cover.
The main reason that this site existed beyond a year or two was Minipops. I am under no illusions about that. These simple, silly, pixelly drawings of famous people became popular back in 1999, and stayed relatively popular for quite a while. It was pretty cool. But, after a while, I became frustrated just doing more and more and more of them. And along the way, kinda lost the love to draw any pixel stuff. I still did it, but mostly that was because I couldn’t be arsed to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator. But this last year, I’ve started to enjoy pixels again. And this drawing is the best thing I did this year, I think. I enjoy that I stuck with it and created something that by my standards was pretty epic. The more I drew, the more I wanted to draw. But I was also glad that it had a natural end point. The drawing outgrew the title, but I’m still happy that I called it Flower.
And that is, self-indulgently, that. Thanks again for visiting, commenting, sending emails, etc. It really is appreciated. Onwards and upwards, hopefully, in 2015.
One of the joys of Google Street View is knowing that if you miss something with your camera, you might be able to see it again. This is a school, I think, that I went past in a bus yesterday in Chetumal. Link to Street View view