Wednesday, March 23, 2011

7 MLB Games in 5 Days

Seven games in five days. Ten different teams in five different stadiums. I'm pretty sure this is the record for me.

Tuesday was my second consecutive day-night doubleheader on consecutive days. I am exhausted, but it was fun.

The day began with the Cubs at the Dodgers. The Dodgers looked much better, mostly due to the fact that they had Chad Billingsly pitch six excellent shut-out innings. The offense was still weak, they scored only one run, in the fifth, until the 10th inning when they scored a game ending run. This was probably the game I saw that was most like a real game, although the Dodgers did not start many of their projected starters.

Ryan Dempster pitched well for the Cubs, allowing only the one run, and the Cubs looked better than I imagined now with Pinella retired. But I think this more more a case of two good but well-matched teams, rather than two excellent teams playing one another. I don't see either of the teams in it for the long haul.

My last game was the Angels playing the Royals in Surprise. This was a letdown, especially after the Dodger game. The Angels played mostly scrubs, and I don't know why. Usually by this point in spring training the teams are starting to look like the real thing. Starter Tyler Chatwood made a good case for making the team. He gave up 3 runs in the first two innings but then settled down to look good for the remainder of his 5 innings pitched.

Former Rockie Jeff Francis did not look so good, giving up 6 runs in his innings (although only 3 earned, the Royals had a whopping five errors in the evening). He threw a lot of pitches. Unfortunately I do not think he will ever be the pitcher he once was.

Offensively the Angels were on fire, scoring 14 runs off 15 hits, although only 8 of the runs were earned.

A little math tells me that this is my sixth trip to spring training in eight years. It's still a lot of fun, but it has changed since I started coming in 2004. It's much more mainstream. It was a lot easier (and cheaper) to get great seats when I first started coming, and easier to find a good hotel room. The parks have changes, several have been rebuilt and are much larger now, which makes it less like spring training. But it's still a lot of fun, and I expect to be back whenever I can.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

D'backs Beat Dodgers

It was perhaps the coldest spring training game in recent memory, with the temperature starting at 50 and dropping rapidly with damp wind. Not your typical Phoenix evening. But the Dodgers and D'backs put on a good show.

I do feel a bit sorry for the Dodgers. I was a season ticket holder when I lived in LA and a big fan. But when they picked up Manny Ramirez I began losing faith quickly. As a Red Sox fan by birth, I knew Manny was a clown and an embarrassment to the sport. Things got worse when he got caught in LA taking girly steroids. And even worse when he made it clear he wanted to leave... again, and went to the White Sox.

I had really looked forward to watching the kids mature, but when Manny left, the team's owners decided to divorce and that meant no more money would go into the team. They have not made any significant pickups since. And many of the \ kids have turned out to be busts. Russell Martin is gone, Broxton has been demoted, Kemp seems more concerned with Rheanna than with hitting, and even Clay Kershaw looked weak tonight.

Kershaw has actually had a very good spring, but tonight he gave up 8 hits and 2 walks in 5 innings. He did give up only 2 runs, but he still got the loss with the D'backs winning 3-0. Ian Kennedy walked 3 but otherwise gave up only 3 hits and no runs in 5.1 innings.

The Dodgers will have a pretty good rotation, but with Manny gone, there is no heart to their batting order, and you can't win when you don't score runs.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rockies Rained Out

I was excited to see the Rockies play the Giants today in Scottsdale, with Lincecum starting for the Giants. But for the second year in a row my trip to the Giants' park was marred by bad weather. This time the game was called after only 3 innings. Lincecum gave up 5 runs in those inning,s leaving th ball over the plate far too frequently.

Matt Reynolds had a perfect game going for three innings with a number of fly balls, but the game was called when the rain started getting hard.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Angels @ Rockies

Today was the battle of the potential fifth starters as the Rockies hosted the Angels at their new ballpark.

This is the first time I have been to Salt Fields Park at Talking Stick. It's a nice park, but like the Dodgers new park, this is on the big side for a spring training field. In fact it was designed by the same architects. There was a sellout crowd of 12,209 people to see the game today, so obviously they are doing something right. Getting in and out was fairly easy, lots of $5 parking. Food choices are OK. Seats are almost all in the sun, but today was overcast and a cool 71, lower than normal for this time of year in Phoenix.

The game itself was weird. The Rockies started out playing quite well with Rogers pitching 5 strong innings. But as a potential starter, he was left in for the top of the 6th, and could not get an out, giving up all six runs to the Angels. Franklin Morales pitched poorly for the second day in a row and blew the hold.

Rockies offense also looked good at first, with most of the projected opening day lineup starting. Tulo went 3 for 3 with 2 home runs, one being a three-run homer to take an early lead in the top of the first inning.

For the Angels, Palmer pitched poorly and gave up 6 runs as well, making only 4 innings. The rest of the relief pitchers for both teams did pretty well, keeping the score tied at 6 through the tenth inning, when the game was called.

In a spring training oddity, Mike Scoscia was ejected for arguing a scoring play at the plate.

It was a nice day for a game, and a lot of fun, although I'd like to see the Rockies win a game while I am in town!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rox Get Hammered by Reds

Three costly errors combined with poor pitching cost the Rockies their game today against the split squad Cincinnati Reds. The Rockies lost by a score of 10-3, but only four of the Reds' runs were earned. One was due to a throwing error by pitcher John Maine, who showed terrible control issues in 3 innings pitched. He gave up only two walks but had many 3-ball counts in the 17 batters faced in three innings.

Today did not look good for the Rockies. Herrera allowed two runs on a fielding error, and Spilborghs allowed another. They had 8 hits but a meager 3 runs. The Reds, on the other hand, scored ten runs with only ten hits.

One would expect problems in spring training, except that most of the position players today were possible starters for the season, and defense has always been stressed by manager Jim Tracy, especially in spring.

Houston Street had the one good inning as pitcher, but his setup man Franklin Morales gave up three hits and two earned runs in his one inning of work, leaving another question mark in the bullpen.


My 2011 spring training began tonight with a rather uninteresting game between the Texas Rangers and the Cleveland Indians in Goodyear. I arrived in Phoenix late this afternoon, and this was the only night game, so I went, but it was not really a game I was interested in. Both teams have good but not great potential and the game was lacking in star quality. I’ll be back in Goodyear tomorrow for my first Rockies game this year against the Reds. I hope that is more eventful.

Cleveland won, 12-6, but I left before it became a complete runaway.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


EASY A is a pleasant comic remake of THE SCARLETT LETTER in a contemporary high school setting. The script is pretty smart and the cast helps raise the material to a new level. Emma Stone, Thomas Haden Chruch, Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci... this is not your average dumb high school comedy. There's really a lot to like in this film. Recommended.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Due to a bizarre scheduling fluke, my wife and I wound up seeing three of our seven subscription concerts in the last 14 days (plus a night at the ballet). I have to say that was pushing it a bit. I love the symphony but I am getting over a bad cold and could have stood a night off. So perhaps that colored my view of tonight's concert.

It was strange programming. The night began with Haydn's 25th Symphony. You don't get a lot of early Classical music with the larger symphonies, and there's a reason, it just doesn't fill the hall well. The orchestra sounded OK, but it's not a brilliant work like some of the later symphonies.

That was followed by Liszt's Piano Concerto #1. Although I love the chromatic motif that opens the piece, it does seem a bit short and underdeveloped after hearing brilliant performances of Ravel and of Tchaikovsky's violin concerto over the last two weeks. The 23 year-old Joseph Moog made his North American debut with the piece and did quite well, but was not amazing. Again, he gets the short end of the stick following two phenomenal soloists in previous weeks.

Instead of having one major work, the concert had four shorter works, which leaves me a little unfulfilled. After intermission the highlight of the evening was Schubert's Unfinished Symphony. The orchestra played their finest on this piece. Guest conductor Gilbert Varga did a great job with this piece.

The evening ended with Richard Strauss's Death & Transfiguration which had the weakest performance of the evening. Harmonically it is the most complex piece and the intonation was weak throughout. The strings were pretty consistent but the winds were all over the place. This is not Strauss's best work, although the section that John Williams stole for the love theme from Superman is pretty interesting. Strauss was an interesting character as he began writing in the late Romantic era but did not die until 1949 (there are color films of him conducting his own works), but his style never really changed. In his own life, he went from cutting-edge to passé. Unlike some of his other tone poems, this one is lacking.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


What a complete mess THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNETS' NEST is.

After the first film, which is quite good, and the second film, which was passable, I was hoping the finale to the trilogy would be a lot better. But strangely, there is almost no action in this film. Seriously, almost every scene in the 2 1/2 hours of the film consists of people sitting indoors and talking. The script is terrible and the structure is worse, and it is terribly shot. I realize they were stuck with the source material, which has a labyrinthine plot, but there should have been some way to clean up the first hour of the movie.

Much of the movie's action takes place off-screen, including what should be the climax of the film at the very end. In fact, if she had actually kicked a hornets' nest, that would have been more action than is actually in the film! What little action there is, is horribly staged and poorly edited.

The basic structure of the film would have been a lot better if the film had opened with the beginning of the trial sequence, which is the last hour of the film. Then they could have brought in the back-story as flashbacks during the questioning. At least this way there would be drama at the front of the film, and the audience would feel the tension of the clock ticking, knowing that they need to save her before the trial is over. Instead we just keep looking at the clock wondering when this movie will be over.

This is perhaps the first foreign film where I look forward to the American remake. They can actually fix this and make a good movie out of it.

Monday, March 07, 2011


This Oscar-nominated documentary sickened and angered me. It's pretty hard to believe T-Boone Picken's claim that fracking is perfectly safe. The evidence in the film is overwhelming. It's almost like he didn't watch the movie because he already convinced himself otherwise. It's equally hard to believe that we have let government oversight of water and air lapse so badly. I wonder what it will take for the pendulum to swing back to the correct direction. Near extinction of the human race?

This movie should be required viewing. I was particularly proud of our Congressperson Diana DeGette, who really stuck it to the oil & gas industry people in questioning them.

Saturday, March 05, 2011


The Colorado Symphony Orchestra billed tonight's concert as the "Hannu Linto Debut" for the Finnish conductor. However, the show was completely stolen by guest violinist Vadim Gluzman, who played the Tchaikovsky with great relish that was contagious to the audience and the conductor.

The first movement was so good that he got a (partial) standing ovation between movements. If he had not signaled people to sit down, there may never have been a second movement. The slow movement was not as memorable, but he played the third movement faster than anyone I have ever heard before, and he played it flawlessly. If there were any criticism, it's that he did not look at the conductor enough to stay in tempo with the orchestra.

The evening opened with a nice read of Liszt's Les Preludes, a nice feature for the orchestra. The conductor Linto gave a very sensitive reading, although he is a bit overly mannered. There are rumors the CSO is thinking of hiring him, I hope not.

The evening closed with Sibelius Symphony #1. Not his best work, it's clearly influenced by Tchaikovsky, which may be why they put it on the program with the violin concerto. Alas it was merely a letdown after the fantastic soloist.

The evening is quite memorable, and I keep thinking how lucky we are to hear such great soloists here on a regular basis.

Friday, March 04, 2011


Ok, I take back what I said about all superhero films sucking. SCOTT PILGRIM totally rocked. I was completely surprised as I knew almost nothing about the film before I watched it. This is the best comic book movie since GHOSTWORLD. This film is very inventive in storytelling and visual style. I'm sorry I didn't see it before awards season. I do like Michael Cera and much of the cast was very good.

Nice work.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


Tonight we were lucky enough to see the Colorado Ballet's performance of Prokofiev's Romeo & Juliet. The performance was outstanding.

I've only heard the Suite form and never seen the entire ballet. It's interesting seeing it the the dance, the way it was intended. They found a lot of humor in it, which I did not expect at all,and it points out how happy the music is.

The dancers were excellent, particularly Juliet. She made even the most difficult moves look completely natural, particularly in the final scenes where she must dance while unconscious. I'm ashamed to admit that I thought of Weekend at Bernie's during this touching sequence. The entire finale was very moving. The orchestra was very good, although the strings needed to tune a little better at the top. The brass and percussion sounded fantastic.

It is a long night though. They started late, and have two long intermissions, so it's three hours. However, see it while you can.