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I like roofs. Yuni probably does, too. April 29, 2008

Posted by Brad in commentary, photos.
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I’ve been in the Midwest since Thursday. What’d I miss with the Mariners?
Loss, loss, win, loss. In those four games, Yuni was 6-14 with his first home run on Sunday. I was glad I didn’t watch Friday’s game, when Yuni grounded into a double play late in the game, almost single-handedly losing the game for the Mariners. FanGraphs says he contributed -0.485 wins (WPA). The M’s offense as a whole contributed -0.518 runs. So much for Yuni’s clutchiness. (For the whole season, Yuni’s one of five Mariners with a positive WPA. Greg Norton, who has only played in six games, is tied with Ichiro for the team lead. Psst: the M’s offense is struggling.)

As I said, I was in the Midwest, and I got to visit another ballpark, St. Louis’ Busch Stadium the Third.

Pretty, no? Well, except for those people in the foreground (yeah, not my best photography) and those clouds looming in the background. This picture was taken at 7:05, with the game scheduled to start at 7:15. Here was a picture at 7:12, when the clouds did more than just loom.

That’s rain. A lot of rain. This was my first ever rain delay. Being from the Northwest, where rain is just above coffee as a go-to punchline liquid, I can’t believe I’ve never experienced the mix of pain (“I paid ten bucks for this? Thanks Earth!) and pride (“I’ll wait it out… I’m a fan.”) of a Major League rain delay. You don’t get that kind of emotion at the Kingdome or Safeco Field.

St. Louisians, who Bob Costas has said are the best fans in baseball, knew what to do during a rain delay: retreat to the (heated) team store. The Cardinals’ Team Store is full of the usual collectibles: Yadier Molina jerseys, Reebok shoes with the “St. L” logo, Redbird apparel for the kids. But there’s one item better than all the rest, or at least costlier than all the rest:

That’s a crystal encrusted argyle hat. Not only is it hideous, it’s $2,699. To put that into perspective, Yuniesky Betancourt would have to play three whole innings to afford that cap. (He’s making $1.55 million this year. Divide that by 162 games and 9 innings, and that’s $1,063 per inning.) Instead of getting that cap, you could afford the most expensive Cardinals season tickets. Did I mention that it’s an ugly hat?

The rain stopped and started, but by 8:50, the Cardinals’ grounds crew was doing this:

The PA system said that the game would start at 9:15. The fans cheered. Not being a hearty Midwesterner, I decided leave before the first pitch. The game wasn’t rained out, but I was: I was jet-lagged, exhausted, and freezing (and a weak Washingtonian).
I looked at the boxscore the next day. When I saw that the game’s exciting moments were in the top of the 9th inning, which would’ve been after midnight, I felt a bit better. Still, why can’t every stadium just have a retractable roof like Safeco Field?

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