Thursday, April 08, 2004

My day at the ballpark
On Monday, my family and I ventured out to Kauffman Stadium for the Opening Day game between the Royals and White Sox. Our seats were about 4 rows from the top of the upper deck, straight up from first base. It was a glorious day, sunny and 73 degrees.

The pre-game ceremonies included Royals Alumni players holding an oversized American Flag, an Air Force fly-over, and a bald eagle flying into the stadium to the pitching mound.

The game itself was great in the end, but for 8 innings wasn't too great for Royals fans. Royals starter Brian Anderson struggled, and the Royals found themselves down 7-3 going into the ninth inning. After several moves by both managers (pinch hitters for Pena, relievers for Guillen), the Royals had two runners on and light-hitting Mendy Lopez at the plate. Mendy worked the count to 3-1, then put the next pitch over the left-center field wall to tie the game. Angel Berroa followed with a single, which brought up Carlos Beltran. Beltran found a pitch he liked, and hit it over the left field wall, off the Mountain Dew sign. The walk-off homer secured an opening day win for the Royals for the second consecutive year.

Of course the stadium went nuts. Last year, after Sweeney hit a game-winning hit, his neck was injured when his teammates pounded him on the head in celebration. On Monday, Beltran threw his helmet off before reaching the mob of players at home plate. He later acknowledged that he didn't want the guys to pound him on the head like Sweeney.

A new feature of MLB broadcasts this year is in-game interviews. In this case, the Royals radio broadcast was able to interview Beltran live right after he hit the homerun. You could hear the excitement in his voice. It's nice to hear the raw excitement in the players, in contrast to the normal, pre-determined cliche comments they usually make when interviewed in the clubhouse.

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