Tag Archives: Seattle

Take me out to the ball game, and buy me some ear plugs

Take me out to the ball game, but skip the peanuts and Cracker Jack. I need ear plugs.

I’ve made it to four major league ball parks this year, and my ears haven’t stopped ringing. The worst offender was Kauffman Field in Kansas City, where we were seated down range from what I presume was a stack of Marshall amps on loan from Spinal Tap, England’s loudest band. The aural assault was so loud, I could barely think.

I had pretty much the same experience yesterday at the coliseum in Oakland, where the pre-game announcements were loud enough to scare the pigeons out of the rafters — across San Francisco Bay at AT& Park.

Call me crazy, but I believe the emphasis in baseball should be on the green field at the center of the view, not on ear-splitting announcements bouncing off the walls of the Friendly Confines.

The problem seems to be at its worst before the games start, and I’m grateful that the stadiums tone it down a notch after that — usually. I still have nightmares involving the cheesy glass-breaking sounds that would echo through the Kingdome in Seattle every time a foul ball found its way into the stands.

The grand sport of curling, and a hat for those who love it

For a brief few days every four years, Americans are reminded that the wacky sport of curling can bring the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. If it weren’t for the Winter Olympics, most Americans wouldn’t even know the sport exists, except for the hardy few in the upper Midwest and other cold-weather states who play the game.

I’m relatively familiar with curling by virtue of getting Canadian network television on our cable system when we lived in Seattle. Although I can’t say I was a regular viewer, on several weekends of constant rain I beat the gloom by watching curling matches from Canada. 

For us baseball- and football-crazed Americans, curling is such an odd sport. It’s slow, plodding (OK, baseball critics, point taken) and played by portly guys who likely spend their summers on beer-league softball teams.

With some amusement, I followed an ad on Facebook this morning to curlinghats.com, which offers curling hats in red, yellow and blue. I don’t quite have the funds at the moment, but eventually I’ll have to get one of these, if only to serve as a companion to my Wisconsin cheese head.

A tip of the cap to the Big Unit, Randy Johnson

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This is how I’ll remember Randy Johnson – snarling, defiant, dominant. His long hair a tangle, his facial hair prickly, his fastball hurtling menacingly toward the plate from that lanky 6′ 11″ frame.

I’ll remember him most in a Mariners’ cap as above, for it was in Seattle that I first got to follow him closely. In fact, RJ and I each came over to Seattle at mid-season in 1989, a fact that no one but myself has ever noted heretofore. (He left the Montreal Expos for the Ms, and The Associated Press transferred me to Seattle from Omaha.)

When Johnson arrived in Seattle, he was not quite the Hall of Fame pitcher he would become. But without question he had the stuff to make it big in a career of 22 seasons in the big leagues. He announced his retirement today in a conference call with reporters, and a formal announcement is scheduled tomorrow.

Besides our coincidental moves to Seattle in ’89, I have another trivial connection to The Big Unit. One of his nieces played on the same Little League team as my son in the mid-90s. For mere mortals such as I, even such a tenuous connection to a baseball immortal is still a thrill.

How to survive over the centuries, media division

Over the course of many years as a bureau chief with The Associated Press, I stamped the AP logo on a wide range of coffee mugs, fanny packs, water bottles, golf balls and other trinkets for the staff and newspaper editors. I’m a sucker for advertising specialty products, and I was always on the lookout for something new.

It’s not unexpected that the first chance I got, while running AP operations in Nebraska, I ordered baseball caps. In Seattle, I ordered caps in day-glo green. The cap pictured here is the last remaining from my AP collection, and it features the company’s 150th anniversary logo. (The cap is sitting atop the shell of an old teletype machine that delivered the AP sport wire to the Racine Journal-Times in Wisconsin.)

Corporate headquarters ordered hundreds of these caps in 1998, when it commemorated its founding a century and a half earlier in New York City. A few years ago, some old papers turned up that proved the news cooperative actually got its start in 1846 — two years earlier than had been believed for many decades.

No matter. AP is one of the few companies that can say it has thrived in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.  But as with all meda companies, to survive it must change and adapt to shifting consumer demands, delivery technology and interpretations of the law. There’s a fascinating post today on TechCrunch.com about how AP is suing another news service for allegedly misappropriating AP news. (Thanks to 10,000 Words for the link via twitter.)  The suit refers to the “hot news” concept that AP cited when it successfully challenged Hearst’s International News Service in a similar case many years ago. Tech Crunch is skeptical about AP being able to win with the same argument today. I’ll be curious to learn the outcome.

Loose on the Palouse with a WSU ball cap

As my wife heads to Portland, Ore., my thoughts turn to:

  1. What am I going to eat for the next five days?
  2. Hey, I bought a ballcap near Portland a couple of years ago!

Not just any ballcap. This was a genuine Washington State Cougars cap, an early 21st Century Nike model with stretch-to-fit elastic in the back.

I bought this cap when I joined my wife at a conference she was running at a resort — The Resort, in fact — on Mount Hood. Having lived in Seattle for four years, I should have known to pack a hat for the rainy Pacific Northwest. But no.

Which made for a great opportunity to buy a new cap at the shiny new Fred Meyer department store we passed on our way up the mountain. Freddy’s had lots of choices if you were an Oregon or Oregon State fan. There were several Washington Huskies caps, too, but just one lone Wazzu lid.

In my cap calculus, you score extra points for buying against the grain. So donning a Cougar cap smack in the middle of Duck and Beaver territory made perfect sense. Washington State probably has the smallest fan base of all the Pac-10 schools, and that’s all the more reason to root for the Cougs.

The overwhelming number of U-Dub grads and students in Seattle was often hard to bear during my Seattle years, and I enjoyed my annual visits to the WSU campus immensely. Driving through the hills of the Palouse was always a thrill, so backing the Cougs seems right.

Although this cap is sport-agnostic, I bought it in September and thus consider it a football cap. This post makes three consecutive red caps, and I promise to insert some contrast in the next post.

In the meantime, what the heck am I going to make for dinner?