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Monday 25 August 2014

Someimes—rarely—I disconnect for a couple of days. This past weekend I basically just hung out, walked my dog, went shopping, and had a perfectly nice absence from the Web.

Unfortunately that meant I had something like 200 RSS articles to plough through, and I just couldn't bring myself to stop dealing with (most) emails. And I have a few articles to read:

Now back to your regularly-scheduled week, already in progress...

Monday 25 August 2014 12:25:01 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Baseball | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | US | World | Travel#
Thursday 21 August 2014

The Wall Street Journal explains why the Cubs can sell 38,000 seats and only get 19,000 asses in them:

Since 2009, ticket sales are down almost 6,500 a game. Where have all the Cub fans gone?

The answer may be that they've in effect awakened from a beer-soaked party.

Over the first four years of Ricketts ownership, attendance sank 13.7%. It is flat so far this year versus 2013, but the figures don't include the legions of no-shows. "I have plenty of friends with tickets who can't get rid of them," said Jon Greenberg, executive editor of Team Marketing Report.

Count me in that group. After sitting through six innings of last night's sad 8-3 loss against the Giants (in which the Giants hit and fielded better than any team I've seen this season), we left shaking our heads. We've still got tonight's game available, plus the 4:05 pm back half of Tuesday's game, but we can't sell them. The Cubs will count our tickets as "paid attendance" even though no one will be using them.

It's even odds whether we're going to renew our season tickets next year, especially if the Cubs don't drop the prices. Unfortunately, it's even worse odds that the Cubs will end the season out of last place.

Thursday 21 August 2014 09:05:36 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Cubs#
Wednesday 13 August 2014

Yep. As I feared, the Indians game last night got postponed, but not before the Tribe got ahead by one. And then:

In the moments shortly before the Tribe's game against the D-backs was postponed, [Cleveland players] Aviles, Kipnis and Chisenhall sprinted from the dugout, ran across the tarp and slid headfirst through the puddles and raindrops to the delight of the fans who remained. It was an entertaining ending to a game that was wiped out following a delay that lasted three hours and 40 minutes.

Cleveland's lone run came courtesy of an RBI double in the third inning by Kipnis, who no longer has that hit on his statistical record.

That may or may not have made him easily swayed by Aviles.

"I lost my double, so I was emotional. And an RBI," Kipnis said with a smirk. "I didn't know which way was up. I was easily influenced."

So, everything that we saw there yesterday...didn't count. Because in baseball, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes...it rains.

Regardless, thanks to the Cleveland Client for taking us to Progressive Field. And in no small irony, the tickets we used were from a previous rain-out, so if they want, the people who took us can go to the game today at 4:05 pm. Which—wait for it—might be rained out.

Wednesday 13 August 2014 08:51:56 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Baseball | Travel | Weather | Work#
Tuesday 12 August 2014

(Hm. That didn't quite work, did it?)

We're now in our final weekend (for the time being) in Cleveland, and another person from the client has offered to take us to another Indians game. Two things:

1. I hope they play. Tonight's forecast calls for thunderstorms and rain.

2. If they do play, I hope they do better than last week.

The Indians are at .500, dead-center in the league, the division, and in all of baseball. Tonight they're (scheduled) to play the Diamondbacks, who are just one game ahead of the Cubs and so not a particularly threatening opponent.

Come on, rain. Go away.

Tuesday 12 August 2014 13:05:18 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Baseball | Cubs | Travel | Work#
Wednesday 6 August 2014

From yesterday's game—with its 22,000 paid attendance:

Progressive Field holds 43,500 people (compared with Wrigley's 41,100) and yet has worse attendance this year. The Cubs are averaging 32,000 fans per game, with no game coming in under 25,000 paid; Cleveland is getting 18,600 per game with some early spring games pulling in fewer than 10,000. This, despite the Cubs holding onto last place like they're afraid to fall off the chart, and the Indians actually being the wild card at the moment.

Progressive Field isn't a bad ballpark. The Indians aren't a bad team. I guess Cleveland just isn't a huge baseball town.

Wednesday 6 August 2014 08:40:11 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Baseball | Chicago | Cubs | Travel#

Score one for the client. We got to go to tonight's Indians game at Progressive Field. Nice seats, too.

Sadly, the Reds won 9-2, and we got rained on. And the Indians kind of played like Cubs.

Nice client, though.

Tuesday 5 August 2014 22:24:04 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Baseball | Travel | Work#
Friday 30 May 2014

Since the Cubs' 8-4 win over the Giants on Monday, they haven't gotten a run in 20 innings.

That may have something to do with them being the worst team in the MLB today. Yes, at 19-32, they're behind Arizona (23-33), Houston (23-32), and Tampa Bay (23-31), and 26 other teams.

Hully gee. Only 105 games left to play this year...

Friday 30 May 2014 11:56:20 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Cubs#
Wednesday 28 May 2014

I appreciate my friends getting 5th-row seats at AT&T park tonight. And yet, the Cubs still lost.

So, voilà:

To clarify: I was legitimately surprised that my friends got such awesome seats. I was not surprised that, having won yesterday, the Cubs lost tonight.

Wednesday 28 May 2014 00:19:34 PDT (UTC-07:00)  |  | Baseball | Cubs | San Francisco#

I enjoy a healthy dose of randomness when traveling, because it means sometimes you get a hotel room with this view:

It's hard to see, but I'm looking directly at AT&T Park, where the Cubs are playing in about two hours. Since they won last night, I fully expect they've used up their allotted runs for the rest of May, but it will still be fun to see a baseball game.

Tuesday 27 May 2014 17:28:56 PDT (UTC-07:00)  |  | Baseball | Cubs | San Francisco#
Wednesday 21 May 2014

I went to yesterday's Cubs-Yankees game at Wrigley and was very happy in the middle of it that our seats are under the awning.

The Cubs won 6-1 while a nearby thunderstorm dumped a centimeter of rain on the park in the top of the 9th:

Maybe rain is Tanaka's Kryptonite. As rain started to fall at Wrigley, the Cubs were able to total as many hits in the third inning as they did against Tanaka last month. Baker singled to lead off the third, moved up on Hammel's sacrifice, and scored on Bonifacio's single.

Luis Valbuena doubled to lead off the fourth, and one out later, scored on Olt's single to make it 2-0. Valbuena went 0-for-3 in New York against Tanaka, and is the first player to get three hits off Tanaka in a single game.

"I had more of an idea," Valbuena said.

Apparently it was Derek Jeter's last game:

Outgoing Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who was presented with a No. 2 tile from the scoreboard in a pregame ceremony, had a pair of singles — the 3,354th and 3,355th of his career.

He grounded out to shortstop Starlin Castro with the bases loaded to end the game.

At that point, weather radar showed the rain ending soon, but not soon enough. Between the park and the #22 bus across the street I got drenched. I think my shoes are still damp.

Wednesday 21 May 2014 08:01:24 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Cubs#
Saturday 5 April 2014

The Cubs lost 7-2 yesterday, and we didn't even stay to the end. It was depressing. Here's the happy scene before play commenced:

You can't quite see the 40 km/h winds blowing in from left field, nor can you see how I was in long johns, four layers, a winter coat, hat, hoodie, scarf, and gloves, because it was 3 frickin' degrees C.

Today and tomorrow should have better weather, and we should actually have spring weather by Thursday. And the Cubs, having now won only 25% of the games they've played this season, might win a game.

Then, while walking home from the game, I discovered what we in software might call a "human-factors" failure. Note to the City: you may not want to pour fresh concrete walking distance from Wrigley on opening day during high winds that might knock down the barriers. Otherwise you'll get a permanent record of (a) a barrier having fallen into fresh concrete and (b) that drunk people were nearby at the time:

Don't get me wrong; I'm not blaming the victim, who in this case would be the City of Chicago. But, come on, that concrete was practically asking for it. Maybe it shouldn't have gone out alone in Wrigleyville on opening day.

Saturday 5 April 2014 08:30:23 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Chicago | Cubs | Weather#
Saturday 1 March 2014

Parker, 14 weeksI'm David Braverman, this is my blog, and Parker is my 7½-year-old mutt. I last updated this About... page in September 2011, more than 1,300 posts back, so it's time for a refresh.

The Daily Parker is about:

  • Parker, my dog, whom I adopted on 1 September 2006.
  • Politics. I'm a moderate-lefty by international standards, which makes me a radical left-winger in today's United States.
  • The weather. I've operated a weather website for more than 13 years. That site deals with raw data and objective observations. Many weather posts also touch politics, given the political implications of addressing climate change, though happily we no longer have to do so under a president beholden to the oil industry.
  • Chicago (the greatest city in North America), and sometimes London, San Francisco, and the rest of the world.
  • Photography. I took tens of thousands of photos as a kid, then drifted away from making art until early 2011 when I finally got the first digital camera I've ever had whose photos were as good as film. That got me reading more, practicing more, and throwing more photos on the blog. In my initial burst of enthusiasm I posted a photo every day. I've pulled back from that a bit—it takes about 30 minutes to prep and post one of those puppies—but I'm still shooting and still learning.

I also write a lot of software, and will occasionally post about technology as well. I work for 10th Magnitude, a startup software consultancy in Chicago, I've got more than 20 years experience writing the stuff, and I continue to own a micro-sized software company. (I have an online resume, if you're curious.) I see a lot of code, and since I often get called in to projects in crisis, I see a lot of bad code, some of which may appear here.

I strive to write about these and other things with fluency and concision. "Fast, good, cheap: pick two" applies to writing as much as to any other creative process (cf: software). I hope to find an appropriate balance between the three, as streams of consciousness and literacy have always struggled against each other since the first blog twenty years ago.

If you like what you see here, you'll probably also like Andrew Sullivan, James Fallows, Josh Marshall, and Bruce Schneier. Even if you don't like my politics, you probably agree that everyone ought to read Strunk and White, and you probably have an opinion about the Oxford comma—punctuation de rigeur in my opinion.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy The Daily Parker.

Saturday 1 March 2014 14:27:44 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation | Baseball | Biking | Cubs | Geography | Kitchen Sink | London | Parker | Daily | Photography | Politics | US | World | Religion | Software | Blogs | Business | Cloud | Travel | Weather | Windows Azure | Work | Writing#
Wednesday 25 September 2013

The Cubs announced their 2014 schedule a few days ago. Assuming it holds up, it looks like the 30-park Geas will next year take me to Cubs away games in Phoenix in July, Denver in August, and Toronto in September. That will leave just four parks (Minneapolis, St. Louis, Texas, and New Yankee) to finish the Geas in 2015.

Wednesday 25 September 2013 13:28:11 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Cubs#
Thursday 15 August 2013

After dropping 12 of their last 15 games, the Cubs are now tied with the Brewers for 4th (last) place. There are 42 games left in the season; the Cubs have to win 10 of them to avoid a 100-loss season. It's not going well.

At least they can't lose today—but they can drop into 5th place if Milwaukee beats the Reds tonight. This, by the way, is unlikely, since the Reds are doing just fine, and are tied for the National League Wild Card with St. Louis.

I'm going to the Cubs-Cards game Sunday to watch the Cubs lose again.

Thursday 15 August 2013 09:39:42 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Cubs#
Tuesday 6 August 2013

Via Microsoft's Raymond Chen, a real-life example of how a batter can get three strikes on one pitch:

Chen explains:

During his plate appearance, Vinnie Catricala was not pleased with the strike call on the first pitch he received. He exchanged words with the umpire, then stepped out of the batter's box to adjust his equipment. He did this without requesting or receiving a time-out. The umpire repeatedly instructed Catricala to take his position in the batter's box, which he refused to do. The umpire then called a strike on Catricala, pursuant to rule 6.02(c). Catricala, failing to comprehend the seriousness of the situation, still did not take his position in the batter's box, upon which the umpire called a third strike, thereby rendering him out.

But before I could watch that video, YouTube served up this one, which made me laugh out loud:

I'll poll some of my friends to find out if it's as funny to people in the UK as it is to us Americans.

Tuesday 6 August 2013 11:01:45 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Jokes#
Saturday 29 June 2013

The Chicago White Sox gave up 28 runs yesterday, losing both games of a double-header with the Indians, 19-10 and 9-8. While that went on, Philadelphia beat the Dodgers 16-1, and Milwaukee got spanked 10-3 by the Pirates.

In total, there were 171 runs in Major League Baseball yesterday. I don't know if that's a record, but an average of 11.4 runs per game seems a little high, doesn't it?

But, wow. Twenty-eight runs in one day against one team. That's the super-special kind of baseball they play on the South Side.

Saturday 29 June 2013 09:50:52 PDT (UTC-07:00)  |  | Baseball | Chicago | Cubs#
Friday 28 June 2013

It turns out, all of O'Hare has free WiFi these days, so I can do work right at the gate when my plane's delayed by several short intervals. (A long delay would have seen me in the club, what what!)

Tonight I'll be at Safeco Field watching the Cubs probably lose to the Mariners and taking in my 25th park. Right now, I'm at H11A waiting for them to clean the plane.

Pretty normal travel day, except for getting out of the Loop.

Friday 28 June 2013 12:49:29 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Baseball | Cubs | Travel#
Sunday 23 June 2013

Going into yesterday's game against the Astros, the Cubs and Brewers were tied for 4th place in the National League Central division, and the Astros were the second-worst team in all of baseball. (Miami, with a 24-49 record, is firmly in last place overall.)

So no one expected anything exciting in the game, and we got what we expected. Both teams played at a level familiar to parents with children in Little League. Baserunning mistakes cost the Cubs three outs in two innings; simple relays between fielders went all over the field like electrons in a cloud.

We did get to see a rare play when Houston executed a perfect suicide squeeze in the top of the 9th to score the winning run. With a runner on 3rd, shortstop Ronny Cedeno bunted the ball just to the left of pitcher Kevin Gregg, who got the ball in time—but with catcher Wellington Castillo infield of the plate, neither he nor Gregg saw Justin Maxwell barreling down the line from 3rd until his foot crossed the plate.

The park erupted with ennui. Not a peep. About half the fans had already left. When the Cubs went one-two-three in the 9th, we shrugged and went home.

With Milwaukee's win yesterday, the Cubs are back in 5th place, at 30-43. Houston rose to 29-47 with the win, and Miami rounds out the benighted trio of losers at 24-50. Yay, us.

Sunday 23 June 2013 09:33:44 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Chicago | Cubs#
Sunday 28 October 2012

A couple of days ago at work, we were talking about stupid things sports commentators say. In any sport, but much more so in baseball and U.S. football than others, you hear some commentator say "Well, Bob, with runners on first and third on a night with a 10-knot breeze out of the northeast, when the pitcher's name starts with 'M', there's only a 1-in-65 chance a left-handed batter with six toes on his right foot will fly out to center." Who cares, right?

But being in Chicago, there is a huge question in that category that we should answer: What are the odds that a baseball team can fail to win the World Series for 104 years?

Of course, given the Chicago Cubs' history, the odds are observably certain that one baseball team can do it. But, all things equal, what is the probability this can happen?

Here's how we figured it out. First, in any given year, all but one team does not win the World Series. For example, there are 30 teams right now, but only the San Francisco Giants will win the World Series. (Tonight, in fact, unless Detroit suddenly turns into a different baseball team.) So the basic formula for the probability of losing the world series is:

...where t is the number of teams and y is the number of years with that number of teams.

Since the Cubs last won in 1908, Major League Baseball has expanded six times, from 16 teams (in 1908) to 30 teams today. With 30 teams, the probability of losing the World Series is 0.9667, that is, 29 in 30. In 1908, the probability of losing was much smaller, 0.9375, or 15 in 16.

But here's the problem. The probabilities are multiplied together, like this:

Since 1908, there have been 103 World Series (there wasn't on in 1994, remember), so the data going into the formula are: from 1908 to 1960, 16 teams and 53 Series; in 1961, 18 teams, 1 Series; 1962 to 1968, 20 and 7; 1969 to 1976, 24 and 8; 1977 to 1992, 26 and 16; 1993 to 1997, 28 and 4; since 1998, 30 and 14. Doing the math, we come up with...wow.

The probability that the Cubs would lose all 103 World Series contests since last winning in 1908 is 0.00441, or 1 in 227.

I will now go cry.

And just for giggles, the probability that they would fail to play in the Series (i.e., win the pennant) since their last appearance in 1945 is 0.04798, or 1 in 21. So there's hope.

Sunday 28 October 2012 10:49:31 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Chicago#
Wednesday 3 October 2012

I made a mistake Monday: the Astos and Cubs will probably end the season with a combined 208 losses, not 207. It's a bit damp at Wrigley today, so they may not play; but if they do, either the Cubs will wind up 60-102 or 61-101 (to the Astros' 56-106 or 55-107, respectively). That's impressive.

Meanwhile, the new wild-card arrangement has gelled for the National League (Washington, Cincinnati, San Francisco clinch their divisions; Atlanta and St. Louis are wild cards), but the American League might not get everything sorted until tomorrow. The A's and Rangers are tied in the AL West, but since they play each other this afternoon, that will get settled. Detroit eliminated the White Sox already this week. That leaves Baltimore one game behind the Yankees in the AL East, so if Boston beats the Yankees and Baltimore beats Tampa tonight, they'll be tied, forcing a one-game playoff at Camden Yards on Thursday. And the loser will still be in the post-season as a wildcard.

What a weird end to the baseball season. Except for us in Chicago, it's pretty exciting.

More: MLB has an exhaustive guide to the wild card rules for anyone who has trouble sleeping tonight.

Wednesday 3 October 2012 11:17:51 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball#
Tuesday 2 October 2012

The Tribune just foisted two news alerts on me that I already knew. First, the Cubs lost their 100th game, which, it turns out, has only happened three times in the last 140 freaking years. The Trib's lede is beautiful:

Fifty years ago this week, only 595 fans showed up at Wrigley Field for the opener of the Cubs-Mets series, the last time two teams with 100-plus losses faced each other.

The '62 Cubs — with future Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Lou Brock, Billy Williams and Ron Santo on the roster — wound up taking two of three from the expansion team, finishing with a franchise-worst 103 losses, to the Mets' major league record 120.

Wow. I mean, wow. It takes a special kind of baseball team to lose 103 games in a season, so the talent and vision that went into the Mets' 120 losses in 1962 defies rational belief. I am cowed. And I am also thankful no team has gotten to that record in my lifetime, if only because the Mets occupy the rung on my baseball ladder just above the American League and just below the one I try to scrape off before walking in the house. (The Astros occupy that rung, it turns out, only because they were the first team I ever saw play the Cubs).

All righty then. One must look forward, to the horizon of a National League win. And again, I say: Go Giants.

Almost forgot: The other news alert, announcing that the Tigers have eliminated the White Sox, did not distress me much, as it only concerns the minor leagues.

Monday 1 October 2012 22:50:40 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Chicago#

It is a mathematical certainty that the combined losses of the Astros and Cubs will get to 207 when the season ends Wendesday. They're playing each other right now, with the Cubs heading for their 100th loss of the year. One cannot but marvel at the prowess of both teams, both fighting quixotically for their respective honors. The Cubs can't possibly be the worst team in baseball this year, because the Astros have so totally dominated them in that respect. And yet, the Astros will move to the American League next year, meaning that both they and the Cubs will begin 2013 being the worst teams in their respective leagues as the new season begins.

New rule: Once your home team loses 100 games in a season, you get to pick another team to root for. And so I say, from now until the next opening day: Go Giants!

Monday 1 October 2012 21:50:02 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Chicago#
Sunday 30 September 2012

Just two more photos from last weekend in Cincinnati, though to be precise, I took both from Kentucky. I love repurposed obsolete infrastructure, like the New York Highline and the coming Bloomingdale Trail. In Cincinnati, they have the Purple People Bridge, which one imagines used to rain soot and cinders down on what has become, since the bridge was built in 1999, a beautiful riverfront.

Here's the bridge from the Newport, Ky., side:

Closer to Ohio—Kentucky owns the entire river, almost up to the bank—you get this view:

I'll have to go back there, as long as I can explore the city and not the depressing exurbs to the north.

Sunday 30 September 2012 09:25:38 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Travel#
Wednesday 26 September 2012

Monday's SSD crash took an annoying, but reasonable, amount of time to fix. Otherwise I would have posted this photo of Great American Ball Park yesterday:

And, of course, an obligatory photo of Cincinnati's most recognized landmark:

I'll have a couple more in days to come.

Wednesday 26 September 2012 11:58:43 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Geography#
Tuesday 25 September 2012

Last night, while watching the Seahawks-Packers game (and rooting for the Seahawks for the same reason I wore a Giants hat to a Reds game), I saw the end of the rule of law.

For three weeks, the National Football League referees have been locked out in a pensions dispute. The NFL has called in refs from the lower rungs of college sports, causing, to put it politely, controversy. Games have gotten longer by about 15 minutes as the replacement refs double-check the rules and the replays, causing players to test boundaries and fans to scream blue murder.

Last night's game ended with a disputed call in its final seconds—disputed, in fact, by the two line judges standing a short meter from the thing they were disputing. Touchdown? Stop the clock? Pass interference? No one knew. On TV, it clearly looked like an interception, and a Packers win. The head ref for the game called touchdown, and under review, let the call stand.

If almost no one trusted the replacement refs before, after last night, their authority has completely vanished.

The owners have little incentive to end the labor dispute, and strong incentive to stand firm. They're thinking ahead to negotiations with players; appearing to cave in their dispute with the refs might look bad. And fans keep watching, for fifteen extra minutes each week, so the league has an actual financial benefit.

Without trusted referees, though, games will get nastier, messier, and more disputed. Remember the 1994 World Series? Superbowl XLVII may look a lot like it.

Tuesday 25 September 2012 11:57:40 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball#
Monday 24 September 2012

Yesterday I posted a shot of the Cincinnati Reds clinching the National League Central Division title. Here's the whole park, from the cheap seats:

And here's a little nerd humor for you. Why can't anyone hit a home run over Cincinnati's center-field wall? Because no one can find it:

More Cincinnati photos after my 1pm meeting...

Monday 24 September 2012 12:20:22 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball#
Sunday 23 September 2012

Yesterday afternoon, I saw this happen:

That's the Cincinnati Reds just after they beat Los Angeles to become the National League Central Division champions this year. And because they beat L.A., they helped San Francisco clinch the West, making it an all-around fun afternoon. (N.B.: I wore a Giants hat to the game.)

More Cincinnati and Great American Ball Park photos when I get back to Chicago.

Sunday 23 September 2012 09:24:41 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Baseball#
Saturday 22 September 2012

It's a beautiful afternoon for a ballgame, at least here in Cincinnati, where I hope to see the Reds become the first team this season to clinch its division outright. I'll actually be wearing a Giants hat, as a Cincinnati win against the Dodgers today moves San Francisco's magic number to 1—and I want to see them in the playoffs.

Anyway, it's 21°C, partly cloudy, and Oktoberfest is right outside my hotel room. I am optimistic about this trip to the 24th park in the Geas.

Update: O noes! I missed the world's largest chicken dance!!!11!1

Saturday 22 September 2012 15:19:16 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Baseball#
Sunday 16 September 2012

I've banged away at the 30-Ballpark Geas for four seasons now, long enough for three new parks to spring up since I started. Next weekend I'm visiting Cincinnati, the 24th park, leaving eight to go. (Citi Field and New Yankee Stadium got added to the list because they replaced parks I visited before finishing the Geas. The third new park, New Marlin Ballpark, replaced one I hadn't ever visited before, and therefore wasn't already ticked off only to be un-ticked by new construction.)

With the MLB 2013 Schedule released ridiculously early this week, a path forward has presented itself. Barring rain, war, or other unpredictable misfortune, here's the likely End of the Geas, five years after it began:

City Team Park Built Potential visit
Toronto Blue Jays AL Rogers Centre 1989 2013 May 3
New York Yankees AL New Yankee Stadium 2009 2013 May 4
Seattle Mariners AL Safeco Field 1999 2013 Jun 30
Oakland Athletics AL O.Co Stadium 1966 2013 Jul 2†
Colorado Rockies NL Coors Field 1995 2013 Jul 21†
Arizona Diamondbacks NL Chase Field 1998 2013 Jul 22†
Texas Rangers AL Rangers Ballpark 1994 2013 Jul 23
Minnesota Twins AL Target Field 2010 2013 Aug 17
St. Louis Cardinals NL Busch Stadium 2006 2013 Sep 28†

† vs. Cubs

The trip to O.Co in July is a bonus game, added simply because the Cubs have never played there before, and going to the West Coast would likely result in a stop to see the family regardless.

So, there it is: An early-season road trip to Toronto and New York; a mid-season West Coast trip followed by a triangle trip through the Great Plains; sneaking in a quick overnight trip up to Minneapolis; and ending at the home of the Cubs' ancient rivals, the Cardinals.

The Cubs might even win one or two of those games...

Sunday 16 September 2012 13:42:50 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball#
Wednesday 8 August 2012

Yesterday I showed Alfonso Soriano stealing third. Here's the result:

Man, those were great seats. $80 at Petco; $251 at Wrigley; $450 at New Yankee.

My last one this morning is the last one I took of Petco Park:

Now if only the Cubs had won...

Wednesday 8 August 2012 12:21:33 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Travel#
Tuesday 7 August 2012

The 30-Park Geas took me to Petco Park last night, where the 4th-place Padres beat the 4th-place Cubs:

I thought the park was OK. Like some of the other 21st-century parks, it seemed to lack character. It felt more corporate than, say, Camden Yards or even AT&T Park. The fans seemed to agree, as only about 27,000 showed up (out of a capacity of over 42,000.

But the lack of demand for seats let me get an 8th-row field box for under $80. And that, in turn, let me get photos like this one of Alfonso Soriano stealing 3rd:

Or this one of Travis Wood pitching:

I'm now up the coast, at my folks' house. More photos tomorrow.

Tuesday 7 August 2012 15:26:07 PDT (UTC-07:00)  |  | Baseball | Cubs | Travel#
Saturday 7 July 2012

I visited my 22nd baseball park last night, the quasi-retro Citi Field, to see the bottom-ranked Cubs take on the second-place Mets:

The Cubs got their first run on the Mets' second pitch and by the bottom of 5 they were up by 5 runs. At the point I took this photo, the bottom of the 6th, it was still 7-2 Cubs and the Mets' so-called "fans" were leaving the park like something on the field stank worse than...well, the two teams on the field:

Then, in the bottom of the 9th, still leading by 4, Carlos Marmól took the mound for no reason anyone could discern, and nearly gave away the game:

Entering with a four-run lead, he gave up a solo homer to Valdespin with one out, then walked Ruben Tejada, pinch hitter Daniel Murphy and David Wright to load the bases.

Pinch-hitter Ike Davis followed with a single, bringing up Duda. Marmol's quick reflexes saved the Cubs.

"Marmol's quick reflexes" my ass. With the bases loaded and no one expecting Marmol to do anything helpful, a single-A pitcher from the Carolina League could have caught the droopy thing Duda hit straight at the mound and gotten the game-ending double play. But let's review what happened to get us there: Marmol gave up three runs and three (consecutive!) walks in 10 minutes. And he didn't even need to be there.

Sheesh.

I would like to end on a happy note. I found a decent pale ale at the park, brewed right in New York City: Sweet Action from Brooklyn's Sixpoint Brewery. What a nummy session beer—and the only one sold in 470 mL cans (cf. 350 mL cans for everything else). I'll be make sure to get some Sweet Action next time I'm in New York. (And some Redhead maple bacon peanuts, from Grand Central Market. Who invented these?)

Saturday 7 July 2012 15:10:07 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Travel#
Thursday 5 July 2012

2:15 pm:

4:10 pm:

And why am I here? That, at 7pm tomorrow:

Thursday 5 July 2012 18:19:10 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Baseball | Travel#
Thursday 3 May 2012

My baby sister got tickets for last night's Giants game at AT&T Park. I had the distinct feeling of being at a Cubs game, first because of the Giants' defense (including a walk-a-thon in the 4th), and second because they managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory after tying it up in the bottom of the 9th. (The goat of the game? Former Cub Ryan Theriot.)

We did have great (if chilly) weather and great seats:

Back to Chicago this afternoon...and lots of work to do before then...

Thursday 3 May 2012 08:07:31 PDT (UTC-07:00)  |  | Baseball | San Francisco#
Tuesday 24 April 2012

MLB logoThe 30-park geas continues apace.

Tuesday 24 April 2012 15:00:10 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Cubs#
Sunday 22 April 2012

I had a visceral, negative reaction to Marlins Ballpark, which I have tried to figure out since Thursday's game. Going to Tropicana Field the next evening, and driving through Florida for six hours or so from Miami to Tampa Bay to Orlando, gave me some perspective.

According to my camera, Marlins Ballpark's playing field had a full stop more light than Tropicana's. That means the playing field in Miami had twice as much light falling on it as the field in St. Petersburg. Yet Miami's stadium seemed darker and more like a night game. Here's the outfield, with the dark roof and the wall of windows to its east:

And here, again, is Tropicana Field:

The darker stands had, I think, a subduing effect on the crowd. The Rays game had 18,700 fans in a 37,000-seat stadium; the Marlins pulled 23,000 into about the same number of seats. Yet Miami seemed emptier, quieter, less engaged. (Maybe Miami fans need cowbells?)

One more difference: Marlins Ballpark seemed to have no roving vendors. No one sold peanuts, beer, or those "We're Number 1" foam hand things. At Tropicana Field, you could hear these guys all over the park, many of them with, shall I say, distinctive ways of getting attention.

Marlins Ballpark, the newest and possibly most expensive ballpark in Major League Baseball, ranks bottom on my list, below even O.Co Coliseum in Oakland and Sox Park here in Chicago. Like Marlins Ballpark, O.Co gets low marks also because of its architecture: from the razor-wire-covered gangways to Mount Davis, it's an ugly, purely-functional park, redeemed only by the A's fans. (Sox Park has the Chicago White Sox; 'nuff said.) Keep in mind, I still have 10 left to visit before I can be certain—but I don't think any of the remaining 10 will feel so unlike Wrigley that I never would want to return. I mean, I had a great time at the Oakland game, so I might go back; but a free World Series ticket to Marlins Park? Not unless the Cubs were playing.

Sunday 22 April 2012 09:21:52 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball#

Home, finally, after a pretty relaxing day of traveling and reading, with some help from American Airlines getting me home four hours earlier than expected. I hadn't planned to post tonight, but then I heard about this:

That's the 21st time in Major League history:

It was baseball's 21st perfect game and first since Philadelphia's Roy Halladay threw one against the Florida Marlins on May 29, 2010. It was the third in White Sox's history, joining Mark Buehrle against Tampa Bay on July 23, 2009, and Charles Robertson against Detroit on April 30, 1922.

Nice work, Mr. Humber. Nice work.

Saturday 21 April 2012 21:24:30 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball#
Saturday 21 April 2012

Poor Tropicana Field. It's the last of the old domed multi-use parks. It opened in 1990, just two years before Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the park that brought back classic baseball architecture.

Despite my complaints about the pretty-but-sterile "Baseball Experience" at Marlins Park, I do understand the need for roofs in places where it gets hot and rainy. I actually like Miller Park quite a bit, and mostly I like Enron Field Minute-Maid Park. They feel like baseball parks.

Tropicana Field tries so hard but has so much to overcome. Its façade, for starters:

Inside, it has some really good concessions (two thumbs up for Everglades BBQ and their pulled pork sandwich), good seating (enhanced by having only 18,900 people show up to the game), some fun fans (more cowbell! more cowbell!), and a baseball team who seem to enjoy being there. The roof is kind of cool, too:

I mean, I wouldn't necessarily want to be on the field during a hurricane, but it does keep the rain and heat out.

It's clear to me, after visiting 21 parks, that the era between the last jewel-box park in the 1940s and Camden Yards in 1992 produced some of the unhappiest places on earth. Let me turn it around: I am very happy that baseball architects have, for 20 years, built enjoyable parks that still evoke the best parts about going to a game. This summer I plan to go to Petco Park and, possibly, Citi Field. Oh, and Wrigley, of course.

Which reminds me: yesterday was the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park's opening. Wrigley's century is two years from now. Possibly one of the teams will make the post-season by then.

Saturday 21 April 2012 09:53:09 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Baseball#

I'm pooped, so I'll just post the Obligatory Field Photo from my (inexpensive and very good front-row upper-deck) seat:

More photos and some stuff about the longest, straightest road I've ever driven, when our program continues...

Friday 20 April 2012 23:24:53 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Baseball#
Thursday 19 April 2012

What a surprising phenomenon.

Miami has constructed the—well, let's not pussyfoot here—newest baseball park in the country, and somehow has created the most boring venue in history for watching a baseball game ever devised.

In fairness, I went to the park expecting the Marlins to win, for the simple reason that my Cubs suck like a Dyson this year. (No, really, I mean more than usual.) The Cubs did not disappoint, leaving forty men on and losing 127 to 3. I feel confident that we'll go all the way to 160 games this year, and possibly next year, though I'm skeptical of the Cubs getting into the post-season during Parker's lifetime. Or mine.

I digress. I was excited to go to the newest of baseball's jewels, and to see what $515m buys a club these days. I was...underwhelmed. And then I got antsy. And then I decided that $515m buys a baseball park so devoid of anything resembling baseball that it's best described as a "Baseball Experience" at some theme park in a place where no child has ever held a bat or a ball.

By the third inning, I hit upon the one thing that, more than any other, explained my discomfort and disappointment. There are no shadows. Not on the field, the players, the stands, on nothing. Everything looked flat and sterile. It was like being locked in a warehouse on the first spring day of the year, knowing that life was brighter and more real outside, but unable to join it until the sadness in front of you finished.

Outside, it was 25°C and sunny. Inside, it was 23°C and...inside. No breezes, no shadows, no connection to the rest of the world. Inside Marlins Park I experienced Entertainment, not a baseball game. (I spoke to a press agent at the park who confirmed that they closed retractable roof about an hour before game time, because they worried about the heat. The heat. In Chicago we cry for joy when we have a game day this beautiful; in Miami, they close the roof.)

Apparently I'm not the only one who thought so, judging by my section around the 5th inning:

I'm not satirizing here. This was the 7th game ever in this park, and barely 3/4 of the seats had asses in them. And do you know why? (I'm addressing you, Mr. Loria.) Because it wasn't baseball. It was indistinguishable from any other corporate-designed, corporate-managed Experience that attempts to distill something down to its marketable components and misses entirely the reason that people enjoy it. People who like Marlins Park will probably Olive Garden, the Twlight books, and Mitt Romney: facsimiles all. But none of them real.*

I mean, would Wrigley Field ever stoop to this?

All right, I concede, Ricketts might hire cheerleaders, but they'd be real cheerleaders, dammit.

I will close with this, the view from my seat, which the park designers got right. Every seat in the park, I am certain, had a good view (which we know is not the case at Wrigley). But after tomorrow's game, I'm going to rank-order the 20 parks I will have seen, and I suspect Marlins Ballpark might come out poorly.

* And also not worth $40 for the ticket and $10 for each beer. Not to mention, for the love of dog, can you at least have more than four awful beers on tap? Heineken, Corona Light, Bud Light, and Miller Light qualify, collectively, as 1.25 beers—and Heineken is 0.8 beers on its own. Is there a single brewery in Florida? Dang.

Thursday 19 April 2012 19:23:23 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Baseball | Cubs#
Monday 2 April 2012

The Atlantic Cities today examines the retro ballpark trend, of interest to anyone following my 30 Park Geas:

The retro style quickly split into two schools; one, like Camden Yards, that strictly embraced classical design elements and the other that used more progressive forms (i.e. curtain walls, retractable roofs) while still implementing postmodern idiosyncrasies.

The historical references and unique site configuration that makes Camden Yards successful was eventually re-imagined in other cities through forcibly quirky stadiums surrounded by seas of parking. The best example of that, and what fittingly could be the last retro-classic ballpark, would be Citi Field.

The more modern half of the movement, meanwhile, has pushed along to an almost unrecognizable point. Since the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati opened in 2003 with its contemporary, glass-wrapped facade, newer stadiums are more willing to embrace less familiar forms.

The anti-Camden trend takes its next step when Marlins Park officially debuts next Wednesday. Similar in form to the spaceship and entertainment palace known as Cowboys Stadium, Miami's new facility moves baseball stadium design even further from the nostalgia-drenched movement.

Next up for me: Miami and Tampa Bay in two weeks.

Monday 2 April 2012 14:32:41 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball#
Saturday 3 March 2012

I don't mean the tax is stupid; I mean a tax on stupidity. As in, mine.

I'm planning two baseball trips this year, the first to Florida to see the Cubs play the Marlins on April 19th, and the Twins at the Rays on the 20th. So far, I've got my flights, the Rays ticket, and a car reservation. Marlins tickets went on sale this morning.

This is when I discovered I have to pay a stupid tax. Because, when I checked out the Marlins' schedule a couple of weeks ago, they were planning on a night game on the 19th. Unfortunately, the final schedule has the April 19th game at 12:40pm. Remember how I have my flights already? Oops. I need to come in Wednesday night for the Thursday day game.

American Airlines will be pleased, I'm sure. I will not, as this is suddenly the most expensive set of flights I'll be taking this year, including this month's trip to London. Stupid.

Update: This is why I love American Airlines, and why talking to an actual person is helpful. It turns out, the fare to arrive the night before is $11 less. Unfortunately, I had to pay a penalty to change the ticket—but it was a lot less than I had feared.

Saturday 3 March 2012 09:39:08 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Baseball | Travel#
Friday 28 October 2011

Despite the teams involved, I must (begrudgingly) accept that yesterday's bottom-of-the 11th, two-out, two-strike World Series home run was pretty damn cool. (So was the bottom-of-the 9th, two-out, two-strike game-tying triple that the same guy hit a few minutes earlier.)

And yes, I would say the same thing if the American League team had done it.

For readers outside the U.S.: The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals have a baseball rivalry going back over a century. Think Arsenal and Chelsea, only without the hooligans; for hooligans, see under "Chicago White Sox."

Friday 28 October 2011 09:35:37 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball#
Friday 16 September 2011

ParkerI'm David Braverman, this is my blog, and Parker is my 5-year-old mutt. I last updated this About... page in February, but some things have changed. In the interest of enlightened laziness I'm starting with the most powerful keystroke combination in the universe: Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V.

Twice. Thus, the "point one" in the title.

The Daily Parker is about:

  • Parker, my dog, whom I adopted on 1 September 2006.
  • Politics. I'm a moderate-lefty by international standards, which makes me a radical left-winger in today's United States.
  • Photography. I took tens of thousands of photos as a kid, then drifted away from making art until a few months ago when I got the first digital camera I've ever had that rivals a film camera. That got me reading more, practicing more, and throwing more photos on the blog. In my initial burst of enthusiasm I posted a photo every day. I've pulled back from that a bit—it takes about 30 minutes to prep and post one of those puppies—but I'm still shooting and still learning.
  • The weather. I've operated a weather website for more than ten years. That site deals with raw data and objective observations. Many weather posts also touch politics, given the political implications of addressing climate change, though happily we no longer have to do so under a president beholden to the oil industry.
  • Chicago, the greatest city in North America, and the other ones I visit whenever I can.

I've deprecated the Software category, but only because I don't post much about it here. That said, I write a lot of software. I work for 10th Magnitude, a startup software consultancy in Chicago, I've got about 20 years experience writing the stuff, and I continue to own a micro-sized software company. (I have an online resume, if you're curious.) I see a lot of code, and since I often get called in to projects in crisis, I see a lot of bad code, some of which may appear here.

I strive to write about these and other things with fluency and concision. "Fast, good, cheap: pick two" applies to writing as much as to any other creative process (cf: software). I hope to find an appropriate balance between the three, as streams of consciousness and literacy have always struggled against each other since the first blog twenty years ago.

If you like what you see here, you'll probably also like Andrew Sullivan, James Fallows, Josh Marshall, and Bruce Schneier. Even if you don't like my politics, you probably agree that everyone ought to read Strunk and White, and you probably have an opinion about the Oxford comma—punctuation de rigeur in my opinion.

Another, non-trivial point. Facebook reads the blog's RSS feed, so many people reading this may think I'm just posting notes on Facebook. Facebook's lawyers would like you to believe this, too. Now, I've reconnected with tons of old friends and classmates through Facebook, I play Scrabble on Facebook, and I eagerly read every advertisement that appears next to its relevant content. But Facebook's terms of use assert ownership of everything that appears on their site, regardless of prior claims, which contravenes four centuries of law.

Everything that shows up on my Facebook profile gets published on The Daily Paker first, and I own the copyrights to all of it (unless otherwise disclosed). I publish the blog's text under a Creative Commons attribution-nonderivative-noncommercial license; republication is usually OK for non-commercial purposes, as long as you don't change what I write and you attribute it to me. My photos, however, are published under strict copyright, with no republication license, even if I upload them to other public websites. If you want to republish one of my photos, just let me know and we'll work something out.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy The Daily Parker.

Friday 16 September 2011 18:36:32 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Baseball | Biking | Chicago | Cubs | Duke | Geography | Jokes | Kitchen Sink | Parker | Daily | Photography | Politics | US | World | Raleigh | Religion | San Francisco | Software | Blogs | Business | Cool links | Security | Weather | Astronomy | Work#
Sunday 4 September 2011

Yesterday I flew to California to continue the 30-Ballpark Geas, arriving at my first-row seat in Angel Stadium just in time for the first pitch.

A short time later, the Angels got a grand slam, which ultimately devolved into the pitcher's duel you see here:

Yes, with 16 runs and 23 hits, most of the 8 guys who pitched in the game saw their ERAs rise a bit—more than a full point in winning pitcher Jered Weaver's case.

At one point during the game I counted four beach balls tossed around. Occasionally one would land in the field to a chorus of boos the ball's destruction. A couple of them managed to stay alive the whole game:

Later today I'm flying up the coast to visit my family, but first I've got brunch with an old friend in Hollywood. Yes, it's that kind of weekend.

Sunday 4 September 2011 07:31:39 PDT (UTC-07:00)  |  | Baseball#

This evening at Angel Stadium in California:

Canon 7D at ISO-800, 1/250 at f/8, 18mm, here.

The home team won, which I always like to see when I'm not someplace the Cubs are visiting. More photos and game info tomorrow night. Right now my body thinks it's midnight.

Saturday 3 September 2011 21:57:04 PDT (UTC-07:00)  |  | Baseball | Photography#
Saturday 3 September 2011

I'm traveling today and tomorrow, so I may not have time to post much until Monday. Tonight I'll be at Angel Stadium watching a game that may not matter, except for being 18th in the 30-park Geas.

Saturday 3 September 2011 12:28:39 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | San Francisco#
Wednesday 24 August 2011

Via Raymond Chen, on Monday the Nashville Sounds, Milwaukee's farm team, turned a triple play against the Omaha Storm Chasers:

For those who don't know baseball's rules, a few things happened. First, a ball is "caught" (for an out) if the fielder making the catch gains full control over the ball before it touches the ground or another player, even if it touches a part of his own body—or his cap, as happened here. In the video above, this put the batter out.

Second, if a fielder catches a fly ball, all runners have to return to their last safe base before they can advance; this is called "tagging up." In this case, the runners started on first and second, and had advanced past second and third, respectively. The runner seen touching second base actually needed to make it back to first. So the fielder touching second put the next runner out, which is why the runner you see at second tried desperately to get to first again. He didn't make it; the first baseman forced him out.

It may have been an inelegant play, but hey, it ended the inning in 15 seconds.

Wednesday 24 August 2011 09:42:41 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball#
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Could 2013 finish the Geas?
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is a software developer in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
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