Tag Archives: Modesto

Sights and sounds of the Giants’ World Series trophy in Modesto

Here’s some more detail on the fun all the San Francisco Giants fans had in Modesto last evening as the World Series trophy tour pulled into town. The Modesto Bee (my employers, bless them!) has a story, videos and photo gallery at this link.

As I noted in the previous post, I wasn’t able to get inside the auditorium to view the trophy. I was heartened to read that once inside the building, the fans chanted “Let’s go, Giants” and – what particularly warmed my heart – “Beat LA!”

The world champions open the 2011 season on the road against the Dodgers on April 1.

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New batting helmets in minor leagues getting high marks for safety

Here’s a story from today’s Modesto Bee about the new batting helmets being used in Minor League Baseball.  The specs from Rawlings say their S100 model is built to protect a batter struck by a pitch thrown at up to 100 mph.

The Bee story says the helmets are getting rave reviews for their safety, if not their style.

I never worriedmuch about getting hit by a pitch in my playing days as a shortstop in youth leagues in Cleveland, although I was well aware that the Indians’ Ray Chapman was the only major leaguer ever killed in a ballgame. He was struck in the temple during the Tribe’s 1920 championship season and died from the blow.

No one wore helmets in those days.  I’m glad I grew up in an era when helmets were required, and I applaud all the efforts to make helmets safer.

Now if we could just get rid of those awful aluminum bats….

The Tour of California – and how hard it is to shoot cycling

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For Stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California, I played a small part for my news organization’s coverage, staking out a turn in downtown Modesto with a couple of cameras. If I learned anything, it was how hard it is to shoot the fast-moving sport of cycling.

I was parked under the billowy leaves of a huge tree at the north end of 16th Street in Modesto, a decent position until the clouds came about an hour ahead of the riders’ arrival. It stayed overcast through the end of the race, and I was worried that my images would be too dark.

I had my Canon zoom set wide, and I used the burst mode to capture as much of the action as I could. I also carried an aging Fuji Finepix S9000 with a busted blaster, so I saved it for some cross-my-fingers single shots. The images from my Canon were a bit dark but salvageable, nothing special. This was my first attempt at shooting a cycling race, and I was startled at how quickly the riders passed.

I had one lucky shot with the Fuji — of Lance Armstrong cruising along in the final lap at the head of a bunch of riders. It wasn’t a great image, but I’d managed to capture Lance, one of my objectives for the day.

Unexpectedly, my best images were from my tripod-mounted Flip video camera. I just turned it on and let it roll as the riders made each of their three finishing circuits. The footage was clear, and even the sound was surprisingly good. My Flip is about a year old — a standard definition model that continues to impress me with its capabilities.

I’m hoping the tour comes back to Modesto next year. I’ll be better trained and better positioned to capture the action.

A crazy day for baseball!

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Here it is, nearing the end of Week 2 of the Major League Baseball season and I’ve yet to post on anything. This is a good day on which to break my silence. Ubaldo Jimenez (shown in a photo from earlier this season) no-hit the Atlanta Braves, and as I write this the Mets and Cardinals are still battling in the 19th inning in St. Louis. And in Pittsburgh, my daughter took my infant granddaughter to her first baseball game as the Pirates came from behind to defeat the Reds 5-4 in the ninth inning.

Whew!

A side note: In 2005, Jimenez spent the first half of 2005 playing for the Class A Modesto Nuts. I saw him pitch at least once, and he’s the first minor-leaguer I can recall seeing who has gone on to do something outstanding in the majors. So did Jimenez make The Modesto Bee all-decade team? No.

The Amgen Tour of California returns

I am spoked stoked! The Amgen Tour of California bicycle race has returned to the Golden State, with Lance Armstrong mounting his comeback in fine style today in Sacramento.

I first encountered the Tour of California one year ago, when one of the stages started here in Modesto. It was a thrill to watch the racers take off on a 100-mile-plus ride to San Jose over Mt. Hamilton. The 2009 tour started today with a prologue of time trials in the capitol city. For the next week or so, Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Floyd Landis and several dozen other of the best cyclists in the world will be wheeling through California. It’s a privilege to have them here (and I’m very happy to report having scored an Amgen cap to complement the cow bell I picked up last year).

In praise of minor league baseball

If there’s anything more American than baseball, it’s minor league baseball. I grew up knowing only the big-league variety, although one could argue that the Cleveland Indians of the 1960s and 70s were anything but major league.

Over the past decade I’ve become a fan of minor league ball, which has enjoyed a resurgence across the nation. That’s not hard to understand. Games in the minors are more accessible. Tickets are cheap, and concession food is reasonably priced. There’s not a bad seat in most stadiums, and many franchises go all out to entertain you before the game and between innngs.

I went to John Thurman Field in Modesto last night and unexpectedly found myself among the largest crowd ever to attend a minor league ballgame there. The Modesto Nuts, the cheekily named Class A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, hosted the Stockton Ports. The stadium was swarming with families as scores of kids took part in pre-game karate and cheerleading demonstrations. Even better, as the second half of the California League season nears a close, the Nuts put much of their merchandise on sale outside the team store.

I couldn’t resist buying a Nuts cap. I had intended to buy the black home cap featuring team mascot Al the Almond, but these were fitted caps (only $15!) and my size was puzzlingly missing. So instead I chose the snazzy Wally the Walnut road cap shown above on the roof of the Nuts’ dugout. The cap goes nicely with the black Nuts T-shirt I received as a birthday present last summer from my in-laws.

While the crowd was alternately watching the game and being distracted by the steady stream of nachos, churros and hot dogs being brought up into the stands, the Nuts managed to defeat the Ports 4-3. Fireworks followed the game.

It doesn’t get any more American than that.