Category Archives: baseball

Yomiuri Giants Game in Japan

Be forewarned: 
this post has nothing to do with wine.  Maybe a little bit with beer though.  Actually, that’s a good way to


Beer girl pouring in the stands.  She is carrying beer in a backpack, and pouring from the tap for fans.  


Lori and I were in Japan, Kyoto and Tokyo, last week.  Aside from the typical, and great,
sightseeing – cherry blossoms, shrines and temples, Mt. Fuji, castles – we went
to a baseball game.  The game,
which took place in Tokyo, had the visiting
Yomiuri Giants playing the Yakult Swallows.  The Giants wear
orange and black, like our San Francisco Giants.  We were able to get seats on the visitor side of the stadium,
and wore SF Giants shirts. 


Lori and I at the game.  

Some of the differences between going to a game I’ve already
mentioned:  beer served from a keg
carried by a beer girl in the stands, and visitor and home sides of the
stadium.  The other major
difference is the cheering of the fans. 
There were significant cheering groups in the outfield bleachers,
thousands of fans for each team. 
When their team was at bat, the cheering was loud and non-stop.  Also, each group of fans has their own
totem to wave when their team scores. 
For the Giants, it was orange and black hand towels.  (Anyone remember the initial Terrible
Towels from the Pittsburgh Steelers?) 
For the Swallows it was red and blue umbrellas.  I wonder how many people have been
injured with those?  Also, with
respect to cheering, the home team has cheerleaders that come out between
innings.  Last thing to mention
with respect to cheering:  No doing
the wave!    


First pitch!

So how about that game?  The visiting Giants go down in order in the top of the 1st
inning, then the Swallows leadoff hitter jumps on the first pitch and hits a
home run to right.  There’s some
back and forth from there, pretty entertaining back and forth with a few home
runs hit, until we get to the bottom of the 8
th inning with the
Giants up 5-3.  They bring in a
relief pitcher, and the ball starts flying around the yard.  Tie game before getting the first out
of the inning, and by the time it was over, the Swallows had scored 4, and had
a 7-5 lead going into the 9
th inning.  So the Swallows brought in their closer.  He was only marginally better than the
Giants reliever from the previous inning, in that he only gave up 3 runs, not
4.  But that was enough to
surrender the lead.  So Giants are
up 8-7 going into the bottom of the 9
th.  And their closer comes in, and gets the first 2 outs pretty
easily.  Then, with the count 2
balls and 2 strikes, and the Giants fans thinking about the post-game beer, the
Swallows cleanup hitter takes it deep, near the top of the left field
bleachers.  Silence from the Giants
side of the field, jubilation from the Swallows side.  And on the field, words were exchanged between pitcher and
batter, resulting in both benches emptying.  No punches thrown though.  The next batter up gets a hit, but finally the Giants get
the last out of the 9
th, so on to extra innings.  (Don’t these people know I have to be
out of the hotel before 6am the next morning to take the bullet train down to
Nagoya?  I can’t stay for a late
game, which is now at about 4 hours, but we can’t leave, that just wouldn’t be
right.)  In the top of the 10
the Giant’s catcher, Abe, hits his second home run of the game, a no-doubter
well up the bleachers in right field. 
The right fielder almost hurt his neck turning and watching it fly over
his head, while not moving his feet. 
Fortunately for my business schedule, the Giant’s pitcher for the bottom
of the 10
th was able to get the Swallows out in order, and we were
able to head off into the night happy, as the Giants had won.  Side note:  the San Francisco Giants beat the LA Dodgers in extra
innings the “day before”.  With
time differences, the SF Giants won their game only a couple of hours before
first pitch the next day for the Yomiuri Giants game. 


Different food at the baseball game.  

The food at the game was also different.  There were hot dogs and hamburgers, but also Japanese food, and then other things, like this vendor serving Vietnamese Banh Mi baguette sandwiches.  Actually, these were pretty darn good!  

I hope you enjoyed this vacation interlude.  Back to wine in the next post!







Best Father’s Day Ever

Father’s Day is an interesting “holiday”.  Usually I don’t worry too much about it.  A card for my dad, and a phone call to him, are usually the extent of my responsibilities.  My theory on Father’s Day is that our wives care so much about getting their recognition on Mother’s Day (deservedly so!) that they project this same level of caring onto us for Father’s Day.  Well, not that I don’t like Father’s Day, but I’m not sure I’d miss it if it were to disappear from the calendar. 


Unless all Father’s Days start to turn out like this most recent one, which wasn’t a Father’s Day, but a 3 day process. 


First there was the Sunday, the actual day of Father’s Day.  First, Lori dropped me off at Oakland Coliseum to meet Brandon and Jacob and oldest grandchild Elli for an Oakland A’s baseball game.  It wasn’t Elli’s first game, but she did have a pretty good time at the game.  And while the boys were going and getting us some food and beer, we managed to get a reasonably good self-photo of the two of us.  (Degree of difficulty is a bit higher on this because of my ancient phone.)  We stayed through the 5th inning, when the A’s took the lead for good over the Mariners.  Then we headed out, all of us heading up to Santa Rosa, to have dinner with their wives, and the other grandchildren (at the table with us, but at 4 months and 6 six weeks old, they really didn’t participate), and my wife, who had driven up there after dropping me off.  Great barbeque rib dinner, with everyone contributing a dish.  The new recipe was from daughter-in-law Brittany, who cooked potatoes wrapped in bacon.  Essentially this was medium sized red potatoes, quartered and wrapped in a slice of bacon, then baked for 45 minutes.  Oh yeah.  Add in a bottle of 2011 Armida Zinfandel, Russian River Valley, Goldmine Vineyard, and it was a great meal.  Only 1 glass though, since I was driving home. 


The next day I drove back up to Napa Valley, for a round of golf with Brandon.  It was customer appreciation day from a couple of his vendors, and they set up a golf tournament at Eagle Vines Golf for their customers.  Bruce, the Armida co-owner, was supposed to go with Brandon, but he couldn’t.  So my next Father’s Day present was a beautiful day playing golf, where all I had to do was buy the raffle tickets for their benefit event.  Great way to spend the day. 


Then on Tuesday, since Sunday was with the kids and Monday was golfing, Lori made a special Father’s Day dinner.  Serious comfort food:  meatloaf, mashed potatoes and peas.  One of my all time favorite meals from when I was small.  Add in a bottle of 2011 Auriga Zinfandel, El Dorado (“Uncle Bud and Chuck’s favorite” it says on the label), and it was a great cap off to my 3 day Father’s Day celebration.  By the way, this was another very good Auriga wine.  They are fast becoming our go-to winery for the Sierra Foothills


I don’t think this one will be topped any time soon.







What does Wine Tasting and the World Series Have in Common?

On a normal day going wine tasting in California you have people who are very relaxed and happy.  They are relaxed because they aren’t working and they are happy because they are drinking wine.  This is all good, especially this time of year when most of the craziness has died down from the harvest.  The grape vines are void of their grapes, so it’s time for them to start to hibernate for the winter.  The leaves on the vines are starting to change from the green to the red to the orange and yellow.  It’s a great time to go wine tasting!  So Larry, Elliana and I went wine tasting on our babysitting day yesterday.  Mid-week is a great time to go wine tasting; the crowds are less, which frees up more time with the winery staff.  They have more time to give you attention and you usually can have a nice spot at the bar.  Ask if there is any way you can see their winemaking facility.  It’s always interesting to see how each winery makes their wine, so similar, yet so differently.

So, you ask?!  What does this have to do with the World Series?  Well, as it turns out the San Francisco Giants are in the World Series against the Texas Rangers.  Yesterday was the first game of the series.  So as we go to our first winery, Arista Winery in the Russian River Valley, Sonoma County we noticed that we wern’t the only ones wearing orange and black (those being the colors of the Giants).  It was great, we had a lot of attention to talk about wine and baseball.  These are two of my favorite subjects!  Arista is in a beautiful spot on West Side Road.  The grounds at Arista are beautiful.  It is designed with an Oriental Garden feel and as you walk through their gardens you get a sense of peacefulness.  We tasted their Gwertztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc on the white side.  Then for the reds we were treated to a Pinot Noir comparison of two wines from the Sonoma Coast.  Their ’07 La Cruz Vineyards which was a blend of two vineyards and their ’08 Sonoma Coast a blend from four different vineyards.  Both were very nice.  I have a thing about the ’07 vintage and love almost everything produced from that year.  Next we compared two Pinot Noirs from the Russian River.  Both were 2008 vintages.  The main difference of those two wines was the fact that one was a blend and the other, the Longbow, was from a single vineyard.  We were helped by Gabriel and Billy.  The staff was very nice and they have a very relaxed policy.  They want you to come and spend time in their beautiful gardens while sipping their wine.  There is plenty of seating and areas to picnic if you choose.

Next we went to Thomas George Estates , just a couple minutes drive from Arista.  After you drive up their driveway and park, you will just fall in love with their grounds.  They have their wine cellar caves on the one side and the tasting room and winery on the other.  They have many tables and chairs for you to sit on to enjoy a picnic if you choose to.  We were the only ones in the tasting room at the time.  We sampled their Sauvignon Blanc (which I liked) and Chardonnay.  Then we sampled a Russian River 2008 Pinot Noir and a 2008 Sonoma Coast single vineyard Pinot Noir.  I enjoyed the single vineyard but liked them both.  Finally we sampled 2008 Dry Creek Zinfandel.  It had a nice body, light on the fruit forward, but a very nice finish.  They do offer events and weddings in their caves.  Shannon who was behind the bar was also a Giants fan and was wishing that they could close early that afternoon.

Through all of this Elliana was a trooper.  She batted her dark eyes and smiled every so often.  We got back to the kids house in time to see the pre-show of the World Series.  Thankfully there is a happy ending to our wonderful day as the Giants beat the Rangers 11-7.  What does Wine Tasting and the World Series Have in Common? Fans everywhere!