Monday, July 29, 2013
I was in Albuquerque to throw out the first pitch at an Isotopes game. Almost every word in that last sentence requires an explanation. My writing partner, David Isaacs and I wrote THE SIMPSONS episode that introduced Springfield’s minor league team. Since their big industry was the nuclear plant we named the team the Isotopes. It was the goofiest atomic particle we could think of on the way to lunch. A later episode had the team possibly moving to Albuquerque. When the city did get a team they decided to name it the Isotopes. It’s become a fan favorite and merchandising hit. And nothing strikes fear in the hearts of opponents like a chemical element.
Also, my KABC Dodger Talk partner, Josh Suchon (on Homer's right), is the new voice of the Topes so it was nice to hang out with someone who still has a job in baseball.
Stayed at the very decent Airport Sheraton but was originally given a wheelchair access room. The mirrors were at my waist (ideal for Anthony Weiner photo shoots) and the dresser drawers were on the floor. It was like reliving GULLIVER’S TRAVELS.
Headed right out to the ballpark. No time to visit the D. H. Lawrence Ranch, where his ashes have been mixed in with the concrete. Some say it’s a lovely tribute, others say the contractor was just cutting corners.
They should have sold pink teddy bears at the team store. I’m telling you, BREAKING BAD is really big there.
Talk about a slow news day – I was the subject of a press conference. I’m not used to TV interviews so I just thought, “What would Gloria Allred do?” I gave my SIMPSONS spiel and vowed to repeal the latest abortion restrictions in Texas.
Just when I started to think I was a big deal, Josh told me I had to leave the radio booth in the third inning because Ronald McDonald was coming in. There’s nothing more humbling than being kicked out of a room for a clown.
We never got to the third inning, however. Rain started falling in the first. Josh said, “We can play in this.” A moment later the sky opened up and there was a monsoon. Wind gusts up to 90 m.p.h., lightning bolts slashing through the ink black clouds, and quarter-inch hail. “We can play in this.”
lifted the giant tarpaulin off the field and blew it into the stands – thus creating the most unusual fan giveaway in the history of professional baseball. The temperature dropped from 91 to 59. I was getting emergency texts on my phone – flash flood warnings, power lines down. This is so different from L.A. where they warn you that Hollywood Blvd. is closed for the ESPY Awards.
Ironically, the Topes’ opponent was the dastardly New Orleans Zephyrs. A zephyr is a gentle breeze. I thought of that as the thousand pound tarpaulin blew into their dugout.
The Luke Bryan concert at the Isleta Amphitheater was interrupted when attendees were asked to flee for their lives. Bryan tweeted that he was “bummed.”
Woke up Saturday morning to partly sunny skies, flooding, and the power still out in parts of downtown. Walter White had to delay his daily shipment. Overheard in the hotel coffee shop as I picked the jalapeños out of my Frosted Flakes (they put them in everything there): GUEST ONE: “My G4 reception was really shitty last night.” GUEST TWO: “Fucking AT&T.”
Didn’t get to Santa Fe, home of many beautiful historical artifacts including Ali McGraw.
You can buy cheap turquoise jewelry in Albuquerque at any 7-Eleven, and there’s a Disco store for your next party. That’s probably where the Isotopes got their pink uniforms.
So the Friday night game was suspended after eleven minutes and resumed on Saturday as part of a doubleheader. Albuquerque won 8-5. Time of game: 23 hours, 11 minutes.
Now came the moment I was dreading. Throwing out the first pitch and completely humiliating myself in front of 10,000 onlookers and the entire world via YouTube. My only goal: Please don’t become the next Carly Rae Jepsen. Then, to add more pressure, Dodger pitcher Stephen Fife (who was there on a re-hab assignment) volunteered to be my catcher. Great! I’m going to hit him in the eye, he’ll be out for the season, and I personally will have cost the Los Angeles Dodgers the pennant. My idol, Vin Scully, will try to run me down with his car.
Since it was in between games of a doubleheader, I was actually throwing out the ceremonial 363rd pitch. Amazingly, astoundingly, “enchantedly”, I threw a strike. I didn’t throw that hard – the ball might not have torn through Kleenex – but I did hit Fife's target. I will take it, thank you. The last time I was that relieved was when Roseanne’s talk show was cancelled.
The Topes swept the twinbill, and the “Extreme Locust Warning” proved to be a false alarm.
Thanks to Josh, John, Orbit, and the Isotopes for your hospitality and team room rate. Anytime you survive a monsoon and don't become an international laughingstock it’s a great trip. And thanks to the baseball Gods for allowing my first pitch to cross the plate. After all, “breaking bad’ also applies to curveballs.
For more misadventures like this I invite you to check out my travelogue book. Just click here. Thanks!
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM