Wednesday, October 17, 2007

ALCS Game 4: Japanese Hordes, Kenny Lofton’s Mom, and, Yes, More on LeBron’s Headgear

Posted By on Wed, Oct 17, 2007 at 2:34 PM

schilling.jpg
Curt Schilling tries to include Daisuke in the fun.
Damn, the Indians are good at scoring seven runs in an inning, aren’t they? Having recruited Terry Pluto to smuggle me into Jacobs Field last night in his rolling knaps ack, I was able to make the above observation about baseball, and the following observations about more important things: 1. As was the case in the ALDS, there was a horde of Japanese reporters on hand for last night’s game. They came to the Yankees’ games to cover Hideki Matsui. Because there are too many of them to fit into the locker rooms without a naked ballplayer getting trampled, the Japanese reporters have to wait outside. When the exhausted Japanese players emerges on his way to the team bus, the mob utilizes centrifugal force to slam the guy against the wall and grill him under camera lights. For this series, the Japanese reporters are here to follow starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka and, to a lesser extent, reliever Hideki Okajima. Before last night’s game, partly-fossilized starting pitcher Curt Schilling was walking back to the visitors’ clubhouse after a game of catch. A Japanese reporter caught up to him and started interviewing him, which prompted a dozen or so more Japanese reporters to crowd around, pens furiously scribbling on pads. I was taken aback; I’d never seen them take any interest in a non-countryman of theirs before. I pretended to be a reporter and sidled up to the mob, and once I heard the topic of conversation, all was made clear. Before an all-important Game 4 of the ALCS, the reporters were asking Schilling if Matsuzaka was happy. Schilling patiently held court on the subject for twenty minutes. “We’re having fun,” Schilling said, “and we want him to be a part of it, and enjoy it too. He doesn’t have a large circle of people to talk to out here.” It was actually a pretty interesting conversation, especially if you were previously a tad concerned about Daisuke’s well-being. He’s doing fine, though. Worry not. 2. Around the fifth inning, the scoreboard displayed celebrity birthdays. It happened to be Tim McCarver’s birthday, and he was announcing the game for FOX with Joe Buck, so a camera found him and put him on the Jumbotron. Humorously, McCarver waved like a beauty queen to the crowd, mouthing “thank you” several times, oblivious to the fact that he was being heartily booed. 3. If you’re ever in a press box, find the television reporters around you and watch them closely as the game comes to an end, and they prepare for the post-game broadcast. It has to be the only place in a baseball stadium where a man can freely apply makeup to his face using a pocket mirror without somebody else yelling something about Derek Jeter’s anatomy. 4. There’s a small room in the bowels of Jacobs Field that leads to the parking lot for the players of both teams, and an elevator to the ground level. After the game, it fills with members of the press trying to leave, and all of the players’ hangers-on, which seem to be mostly platinum-blonde girlfriends and Venezuelan family members. Also to be spotted here is Kenny Lofton’s elderly mother, wearing a hat from Kenny’s first tour with the Tribe that features the word “LOFTON” written in giant letters circling the dome, with Chief Wahoos for O’s. LeBron should be forced to wear that hat throughout the basketball season as penance for his betrayal during the ALDS. 5. On the topic, here’s the photo of LeBron wearing an Indians cap in China, as Vince Grzegorek referred to yesterday. The photo, taken at a Shanghai airport, shows that LeBron’s whole look is getting kind of crazy these days. 6. Lastly, as I was walking home from the stadium, a homeless man sitting on a curb screamed, “Boston sucks, get on Cleveland’s nuts!” True enough. – Gus Garcia-Roberts

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