Thursday, August 25, 2011


I have a collection of “Peanuts” books I have saved from my college days. I was a big fan of the comic strip, which hardly puts me in an exclusive club, and I still enjoy the reruns that appear in the paper today.
In a classic strip, Linus has just watched a football game on TV and comes running out and sees Charlie Brown. He can hardly contain himself he is so excited.
“Charlie Brown, I just saw the most unbelievable football game ever played. What a comeback! The home team was behind 6-0 with only 3 seconds to play. They had the ball on their own 1-yard line.
“The quarterback took the ball, faded back behind his own goal posts and threw a perfect pass to the left end, who whirled away from four guys and ran all the way for a touchdown! The fans went wild! You should have seen them!
“People were jumping up and down, and when they kicked the extra point, thousands of people ran onto the field laughing and screaming! The fans and the players were so happy they were rolling on the ground and hugging each other and everything!
"It was fantastic!”
Rather stoically, Charlie Brown looks at Linus and says:
“How did the other team feel?”
The subject comes up now because we in South Florida have dodged another weather cannonball. Hurricane Irene has bypassed us to the east, unleashing its 135 mph winds on the Bahamas on its way to who knows where. North Carolina, maybe?
As I write this on Thursday morning, it isn’t even raining in my neighborhood, and the wind is but a gentle breeze. It’s overcast, but that’s about it. Life is normal. We have electricity.
As Linus would say, “Fantastic!”
We have just won the game if not on the final play. at least in the final minute.
But there’s a losing side here as well. People living in the area where this storm makes landfall are going to take a big hit.
Like Charlie Brown, I can feel for them.
But I do have to admit, I’m glad it’s them and not us. Does that make me a bad person?
(Just for the record, a light shower has started. I don’t feel so guilty now.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I have never really been a fan of Juan Pablo Montoya going back to his days when he was racing for CART.
The truth is, I have often actively rooted against him since he move from Formula 1 and joined NASCAR to drive for Chip Ganassi, whom I like. (Chip once took a moment to ladle rum sauce on my bread pudding at a luncheon press conference down at Homestead-Miami Speedway several years ago. Not sure I could see Roger Penske, who I’m also a fan of, doing that.)
I just didn’t like his brashness and the way he had a tendency to drive in a get-the-hell-out-of-my-way fashion.
But I will be looking at him in a slightly different way from now on.
Oh, I still probably won’t avidly root for him, except maybe if he is in a duel for position with somebody like Kevin Harvick or Kyle Busch, but I likely won’t cheer for him to drop out early either.
That’s because I attended a brief conference with Montoya earlier today and learned of a very worthwhile project he and his wife Connie are involved in.
Back in 2003, they founded a nonprofit corporation, Formula Smiles, to help indigent children in their home country Colombia to a better way of life. The foundation provides the children, some in very remote places, with opportunities to take part in sports activities to complement their education and also to encourage them to continue their education and stay away from the drugs and violence of street life. Staying away from drugs in Colombia can’t be easy.
Yes, yes, I know that Connie is the one doing most of the grunt work here, which even Juan Pablo acknowledgedå, but I have to give extra credit for any athlete who looks beyond his own personal gain to do such charitable work.
“I think a lot of what Juan does on the track is pretty evident,” Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matt Becherer said of Montoya, an Indianapolis 500 champion who had seven wins on the F1 circuit from 2001-06 before moving to NASCAR, where he has won twice. “But I think what often gets overlooked and is arguably much more important are the things he and Connie do behind the scenes, especially as they relate to Formula Smiles.”
Speedway President Matt Beacherer with Juan Pablo and Connie Montoya.
Becherer also was at the press conference to announce that for the third year the Speedway is partnering with Montoya for a special Race Day with Juan ticket package on Ford Championship Weekend at the track.
Fans buying in on the $142 deal will be able to get with Montoya at a meet-and-greet opportunity in the driver’s room prior to the start of the Nov. 20 race. A pre-race pit pass also is included, and $42 of the cost will be a donation to the foundation.
In addition to the work with Formula Smiles, I also had to admire the way Montoya took on questions regarding the way his season has gone since he finished eighth in the points in the 2009 season, his best year in NASCAR. No ducking here.
He was 17th in points at the end of 2010, and currently he is sitting 22nd this year. Barring an unlikely winning streak, he is not going to make the field for the 10-race “Chase” that will decide the Sprint Cup champion. In fact, he dropped two spots after a 25th place finish at Michigan last weekend.
I asked him if he is where he thought he would be at this time when he came over to NASCAR.
“I think 2009 and the beginning of this year is where we wanted to be,” he said. “The problem is with this series, if you stop working and stop developing the car, you can get behind.
“That’s why there is a lot of effort right now with the team. The last three weeks every Monday I’ve been in with the team. We’re really making an effort. We want to finish the year strong  and want to be in a position to win races.
“And at the start of next year we want to start like we started this year or better.”
It has been really hard this year for whatever reason, he said.
“We know we’ve got to work,” he said.
And sometime in between the end of the 2011 season in Homestead and the start of 2012 in Daytona, he will look in on the Formula Smiles kids.
“It’s fun, but it’s hard because they are in very remote places, a lot of them, where the centers are,” he said. “They’re hard to get to. And I don’t get a lot of time off.”

Monday, August 22, 2011


I remember thinking that when Chrysler introduced its new 300 sedan six years that at least you had to give the struggling company credit for trying something different.
The styling for its flagship sedan was either going to appeal to you, or it wasn’t. There wasn’t room for anything in between.
Though it didn’t appeal particularly to me, I gave it plaudits for standing out from the crowd.
And it was a success.
Not a big enough hit to keep Chrysler from going to the government with hat in hand to beg for a bailout a few years later, but a success nonetheless.
Now as the revitalized company goes about rebuilding its foundation under new ownership Fiat, the all-new 2011 300 looks to play a key role.
I recently spent a week in the 300C and was impressed.
My earlier experiences with Chrysler products made me feel as if I was surrounded by cheap plastics, but not with this car. Oh, the dashboard could use a touch of padding to give it a more sophisticated touch than you get with its current hard surface, but that’s about my only complaint there, and a mild one at that.
The cabin is spacious, the seats comfortable, and the controls in the center stack simple enough to operate. I don’t particularly like the map presentation with the Garmin-based navigation system either, but I suppose one can get used to it. It’s easy enough to operate.

The steering wheel has a more sophisticated design than the clunky apparatus found in previous models, and the blue illumination around the tach and speedometer is a delight for the driver’s eyes.

It’s got good legroom in the backseat (40.1 inches) and a nice-sized trunk, too -- 16.3 cubic feet.
The exterior remains distinctive, but a bit less radical than the original. The side windows, which once seemed no more than slits, have been expanded a bit to eliminate the claustrophobic feeling one could easily get in previous models. The view out the back is a bit obstructed, but the more rakish windshield (by three inches) provides an expanded view out the front.
The 300 is offered with the choice of two engines -- a 3.6-liter V6 and the famed 5.7-liter V8 HEMI.
The latter is standard on the 300C, but to calm the wailings of any tree-hugger out there, the new Fuel Saver Technology puts the engine in four-cylinder mode when less power is needed, saving the full eight cylinders when more performance is desired.
The result is fuel economy rated at a respectable 16 miles-per-gallon city 25 highway (15/23 with all-wheel drive), but with a full 363 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque still available if desired.
That gives the 300C a zero-to-60 mph time in under six seconds, according to company timers. Mid-grade fuel (89 octane) is recommended for top performance, but regular (87 octane) is acceptable.
Pricing for the 2011 300 starts at just under $28,000 (including destination and delivery), but you’ll have to dig deeper and come up with another $10,000 for the top-of-the-line 300C.
That puts the 300 sort of in between your usual family full-size sedan and the entry level luxury segment, which may not be a bad place for Chrysler to be in the current market.
Oh. I need to mention something kind of offbeat here.
Chrysler’s current television ad campaign, launched for the Super Bowl, features rapper Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” and ends with the tagline “Imported from Detroit.”
Not to be picky or anything, but if you look closely at the Munroney (the window sticker you find on all new cars), you will learn that the 300 was assembled across the border in Brampton, Ontario, just outside of Toronto.
Oh. Canada.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


"TOP GEAR" hosts Tanner Foust, Rutledge Wood, and Adam Ferrara
I had some harsh words for “The Car Show” in a recent blog, not because it was particularly bad but because it could have been so much better.

I can’t say the same about another auto-related TV offering, “Top Gear USA.”
By the title, you may have guessed that this is the American version of the long-running “Top Gear” show that appears on BBC America. (“Top Gear USA” runs on the History Channel with original episodes on Sunday nights and repeated often throughout the week.)
“Top Gear USA” follows a very similar format to the BBC production with the three hosts getting involved in various car stunts and endeavors, just as Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May do in the British version.
The U.S. version also brings on various show businesses personalities to run hot laps in a vehicle not necessarily designed for them (in his case, a Suzuki SX4), but the accompanying interviews are briefer (thankfully), and on occasion that portion of the show is skipped entirely. (My favorite guest appearances were by comedian Bill Engvall of Blue Collar Comedy fame and Chumley and Rick Harrison from the History Channel show “Pawn Stars.”)
There’s also an American “Stig” -- or mystery driver -- who comes in to give performance vehicles a real test on the track, just like in the British version.
But there’s not the pretentiousness that began to wear on me as I watched the BBC’s “Top Gear” over the years, and there are enough tweaks and twists for “Top Gear USA” to stand on its own.
What makes “Top Gear USA” much more enjoyable to watch than “The Car Show” is the relationship among the three hosts.
Tanner Foust is a race car driver who knows his stuff. I have seen him testing and reviewing performance cars on shows on SpeedTV, which is, interestingly enough, the parent network for “The Car Show.”
Rutledge Wood is an automotive and racing analyst I have seen doing some behind-the-scenes type stuff on NASCAR broadcasts.
Adam Ferrara? Frankly, I don’t know a lot about him, but he is billed as a comedian and actor and, of course, the obligatory car buff. If you want to know more, Google him yourself.
The good thing is, they aren’t always trying to one-up each other with clever lines or putdowns like Adam Carolla, Dan Neil, and Matt Farah are constantly doing on “The Car Show.” The back-and-forth banter on “Top Gear” is natural and unforced and just as clever. And there’s no John Salley to get in the way.
“Top Gear USA” made its debut last November. Fortunately, and despite some rumors to the contrary, it was renewed for a second season.
If you are interested more in seeing how much cow manure a beat-up Mazda Miata can carry than what its coefficient of drag is, I’d highly recommend you give “Top Gear USA” a shot. I think you will be more comfortable with it than “The Car Show.”

Monday, August 15, 2011


If fuel economy is a major priority with you when looking for a new car, don’t make the mistake of  beginning your shopping with electric vehicles (a limited market, to be sure) and ending with gas-electric-hybrids.
There is another choice out there.
Come back!
Just listen for a moment.
I’m sure there are those of you with memories of past diesel passenger vehicles that were dirty, noisy, and difficult to find fuel for outside of highway truck stops.
Well, new standards have cleaned up the fuel, the engines are not nearly as noisy as they once were (in fact, it’s difficult to tell you’re driving a diesel in some models), and more and more stations seem to have a diesel pump somewhere on their fueling islands these days.
So there.
I recently had the opportunity to drive the 2011 Jetta TDI put out by Volkswagen. It’s available with gasoline engines, of course, but the 2-0-liter four-cylinder turbo direct injection diesel (hence the TDI designation) is really what it’s all about when it comes to performance and saving fuel.
It delivers fuel economy rated at 30 mpg city, 42 highway, or a good 10-15 mpg over EPA figures for the 2.0- and 2.5-liter gas engines. That more than makes up for the extra few cents a gallon you often have to pay for diesel at the pump.
If I have done the math right, diesel currently is running about 6 percent (not six cents) more per gallon than gasoline, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, but you are getting about a 33 percent increase in fuel economy. That may be off a digit or two, but not enough to take away from the point.
With the TDI, you also get a great driving experience, thanks to the increased torque diesel delivers. Horsepower for the TDI is rated at only 140, which is less than the 170 that Jetta SE and SEL models equipped with a 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine are rated at.
But torque jumps to 236 pound-feet for the TDI compared to 177 for the 2.5 five-cylinder, giving it the capability of going from zero-to-60 in 8.7 seconds, according to company timers. The base 2.0-liter four-cylinder sends out only 125 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels and zero-to-60 is clocked with an egg timer.
Especially with the standard six-speed manual transmission, the Jetta TDI offers a fun experience behind the wheel. But if you don’t have the strength or endurance to operate the clutch in rush hour conditions, a six-speed automatic manual gearbox also is offered in the TDI.
As for amenities, the Jetta is all-new for 2011 and nearly three inches longer than its predecessor, up 1o 182.2 inches. That results in a bit more room in the rear seat, and the trunk is quite roomy at 15.5 cubic feet. That’s extremely spacious for its class, bigger than VW’s outgoing Passat, for example.
The company did skimp on some of the materials used in the interior, especially when compared to previous Jetta models, a criticism duly noted by other reviewers.
But that also has allowed the company to keep the Jetta’s price in line with its competitors. To me, it’s not a deal breaker.
Though you can get a base Jetta for less than $16,000, you’re going to pay more for the TDI, which may be a bigger consideration than the cost of diesel fuel when it comes to your budget.
The 2011 TDI starts at just under $23,000 or just over $24,000 for models equipped with the touchscreen navigation system.
But that still keeps the Jetta TDI in line with most hybrid vehicles, and it’s a lot more fun to drive.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Car Show panelists, from the left, John Salley, Dan Neil, Matt Farah, and Adam Carolla.

A friend mine, another car reviewer, recently asked me if I had seen “The Car Show” and what did I think about it.

“The Car Show” is a recent addition to the SpeedTV lineup of non-racing shows tucked in amongst its incessant NASCAR coverage, sports car races, and occasional F1 offering. (IndyCar doesn’t exist on SpeedTV. Neither does the World Rally Championship.)

At the time I was asked, I hadn’t seen the show. I have now.


Very disappointing.

It’s not that the show is terrible or anything. It’s not. It’s just that it comes up so far short of what it could be.

This might not be fair criticism because I have seen only two full episodes and parts of others, and maybe it will save itself in the future.

But I kind of doubt that will occur because my disappointment lies not with the show’s content but with its personalities.

There are four co-hosts, and of those four, only one really knows what the hell he is talking about and has much in the way of substance to contribute.

Well, make that two. Unfortunately, neither one of them is the lead host, Adam Carolla, who would seem to have the perfect name for such an endeavor.

I remember Carolla from “The Man Show,” which he hosted with Jimmy Kimmel on Comedy Central a few years back.

This politically incorrect show had some great moments, chief of them featuring a chubby preteen boy (The Man Show Boy) who would go things like dress up like a Boy Scout and approach secretaries in their late 20s on street corners saying he wanted to earn his merit badge for helping old ladies cross the street.

He also went up to them on the beach and asked if he could rub suntan oil on their backs, and by the way, why didn’t they ditch their boyfriends?

Adam and Jimmy also did a hilarious sketch where they set up a table in a booth and asked passers-by to sign a petition to end women’s suffrage. Many actually signed.

And they surveyed women asking them if they would take a pill that would make them smarter by ten times but also make their butts bigger. Few women said they would.

Low humor? The lowest.

But they stuck with it until 2004 when a couple of other guys took over and “The Man Show” faded away.

Kimmel, of course, went on to host his own late-night show on ABC. Carolla I lost track of (not that I was really keeping track, you understand) until he showed up on the “The Car Show.”

As the main host, Carolla does the lead-in for the show. He must feel like since he is a comedian, every other line he says must draw a laugh. The result is he forces many lines, delivering in robotic fashion, and they don’t come off as funny at all. The laughter, if any, seems forced.

But at least he does seem to know a little about cars, which is more than you can say about another regular co-host, John Salley.

Salley, who played on four NBA championship teams, is billed on the show as an “NBA legend,” which is stretching a point. Rubber bands aren’t that elastic.

He wasn’t a stiff, mind you, but I’m thinking that players like Isaiah Thomas, Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen and some guy named Michael Jordan had a lot more to do with those titles than Salley did.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

Which is kind of like his deal on “The Car Show.” Fox, the parent company of SpeedTV, must have been looking for a place to put Salley to fill a contract obligation or something (Salley earlier was a member of the cast for “The Best Damned Sports Show” on the network) and figured this is where he would do the least harm.

The thing is, Salley really contributes nothing to “The Car Show” other than being the butt of jokes about being too big to fit in in a Beetle or Mini or whatever. He stands seven feet.

In a recent show he did a segment about a trip to Indianapolis for the 500 where he interviewed driver Townsend Bell. It was interesting, but didn’t seem to have a real point.

It did have an unintentionally funny shot. The camera showed race fans congregating around Salley, and one female fan -- who most have been sober since she still had her top on -- screamed out, “We love the Car Show!”

Keep in mind this segment had to be taped in late May. “The Car Show” didn’t debut on Speed until July, which would have been the first time the public actually got the opportunity to see it. Maybe the fan was just psychic and knew she was going to love “The Car Show.” 

That leaves the other two hosts, Dan Neil, an auto columnist for the Wall Street Journal, and Matt Farah of

Neil, who also has written for the Los Angeles Times, AutoWeek and Car and Driver and other outlets, knows his stuff. Hell, he won a Pulitzer Price for his work in L.A.

He also has a quirky sense of humor and is the big reason to stick with “The Car Show.” He probably could carry such a show by himself. (Hey, there’s an idea!)

In fact, at times he has an expression on his face that seems to be  conveying the thought “What the hell am I doing here? These other guys are clowns.”

Farah seems to know cars as well and his segments of the show come off okay -- not as good as Neil’s but passable. As noted, at least he seems to know what he’s talking about. As long as he doesn’t get caught up trying to match Carolla’s often-flat quips, he can be watchable.

So “The Car Show” is not a total loss.

Just how far Dan and Matt can carry it into the future remains to be seen, but I remind you that back a few graphs I ventured the opinion that the show was a disappointment, not a disaster.

Without Salley as a distraction and with Carolla toning it down just a bit, I might even make it a point to stop by every Wednesday night when I’m channel surfing.

As it is now, I may spend that time with “South Park.”

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


This is the Nissan Juke.
I only got to drive it for a couple of days before departing on my sojourn to South Carolina late last month, which was bad timing for me.
Of all the cars I put in the “funky” design class -- the Scion xB, Kia Soul, and the Nissan Cube -- I’d have to say I like this Juke the best.
Maybe it was because I hadn’t driving a straight stick in a while, but I really loved the way this car behaved on the road. Of course, I think you can pretty much always get more performance out of a  stick than an automatic, especially in this class, but I’m thinking it simply is a fun vehicle to drive.
The Juke is new for 2011. It went on sale last September, but I hadn’t seen one until it was delivered to my driveway.
Nissan says the Juke “fuses the best qualities of a sports car, including a sporty driving position, dynamic handling and powerful turbo engine, with the best aspects of an SUV – such as a robust lower body, raised ground height, improved visibility, confident stance and available all-wheel drive.”
That is to say, it has a utility function as well as a performance one.
The reason for the performance is under the hood. There rests a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that is rated at 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. With only around 3,000 pounds to negotiate (depending on which of the three trim levels you choose), that’s a pretty good punch.
As noted, the one I was driving came with a six-speed manual transmission. A CVT (continuously variable transmission) also is available, but why in hell you would choose that is beyond me. That would take all the fun out of the driving experience.
Mileage figures depend not only on what transmission you select but also whether you opt for all-wheel drive. They range from 24 mpg city, 31 highway with the manual to 25/30 with the CVT with AWD and 27/32 with the CVT and front-wheel drive. That mitigates somewhat the factory recommendation to fill the 13.2 gallon tank with premium fuel.

The Juke also offers a modicum of cargo space with the second-row seat in position, but the 10.5 cubic feet expands to over 35 when the rear seat is folded. 
As noted earlier, I put the Juke in the “funky” class when it comes to design, mostly because of the turn signal- headlight-fog light arrangement. They are stacked in that order, top to bottom, with the turn signals in bubbles at the top of the fenders.
Another distinctive styling cue is the sloped roof, which does impinge somewhat on the rear seat headroom. And it has four doors with the rear door handles blended into the body at window level -- a nice touch.
Nissan has priced the Juke to start at just under $20,000, though the six-speed starts at just under $21,000. The AWD top-of-the-line SL model starts at just over $25,000.
That’s a bit more than what you’ll pay for the Soul, xB, and Cube, of course, but not bad when you compare it to some other models that don’t offer as much.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Sunday was a breakthrough day of sorts in the household.
I took my wife to a baseball game, Cardinals-Marlins to be specific.
You may be asking what the big deal is since I reside only a forty-minute drive or so to the Marlins stadium, not to mention that lots of husbands take their wives to baseball games. Some wives even go voluntarily.
To understand why this was a breakthrough for us, a little history is in order.
Several years ago, probably four or five, the two oldest grandkids were visiting and we took them out to a ballgame. It wasn't raining when we left, but it was when we got there, which is a normal occurrence in South Florida, where it can be raining in one block with the sun shining in another.
Since we already tickets, we went into the park and waited for the rain to stop.
And waited.
And waited.
And waited.
Frankly, I was willing to wait for pretty much forever because I was pretty sure baseball was going to be played that night. Despite what those who live in other areas might think, the Marlins have had relatively very few games rained out in their history, but they have had plenty of games delayed or interrupted by rain.
But my wife was in no mood to wait. After two-plus hours, at her, uh, urging (constant urging, you might say), we gave up and left the park.
We had no more gotten to the car and turned on the radio when the broadcaster said, “Well, it looks like there will be baseball played here tonight after all.”
And there was.
But we had already exited, which meant we couldn’t go back in, and because the game was going to be played, our tickets were not good for rain checks either.
This, um, upset me. I told Virginia that from now on unless she was willing to wait out a rain delay, there would be no more Marlins games for her.
And there haven’t been, until today.
I have been a Cardinal fan since the 1960s and like to catch them when I visit St. Louis and when they visit Miami. I had intended to go out Friday, but my back was acting up and time got by me.
Late Saturday afternoon I was scouring for tickets to that night’s game and ran across one that seemed pretty good. But before I ordered it, I went in to check withVirginia to see if she was interested in going.
I debated leaving her alone for the evening, and then all of a sudden when I checked the website, the ticket was gone. In fact, they all were. I thought I probably could find one to buy outside the gate, but I hate to go through that hassle. I stayed home.
That left Sunday.
Virginia asked me in the morning if I was going to the game, so I decided to check stubhub again. There were a couple of singles available at a good price, but on a hunch, I decided to check with her first. This was Sunday after all, and I must admit I felt just a big guilty about the prospect of leaving her alone all afternoon.
I mentioned that when I was checking the night before I had seen a couple of good tickets on stubhub for only $19 each.
“Well, if you can get those, go ahead,” she said.
I went  back to the computer and typed in a request for two tickets instead of one and wouldn’t you know it, there were two infield box seats available for $11 each!
Wow. This was a good deal because these were normally $60 seats through the regular box office.
So I began the process of getting the tickets. This took a few minutes, and things got even better. In the process, a messaged flashed up saying the owner of the tickets was changing his price -- to $9!
I don’t know what your experience has been in this kind of thing, but mine is fairly standard. The price goes up, not down.
I typed in my credit card number and hit the submit button as fast as I could. I got the tickets!
Once the handling charges were figured in, I got two tickets for $28, or less than half what the regular cost of one is for that section.
What a perfect day, right?
Hmmmm, wrong.
Though there was a solid overcast for much of the county, that was good. It could keep the sun from baking us. And besides, not a drop of rain had fallen all morning. 
We were, at least I was, optimistic when we left for the game, and all was well until we got within a mile or two of the stadium. Then it began to rain.
I gave $10 to a rain-soaked parking lot attendant and found a place as close to the gate as I could. Then we sat.
Virginia was a very good sport about it. I told her no, the Marlins were not going to cancel the game.
“Do they play football in the rain?” she asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Why don’t they play baseball in the rain?”
“Different sports. You could get hurt trying to control a baseball.”
We both tried to figure out which way the clouds were moving and how fast.
We listened to the radio and were encouraged when the announcer said that once this pocket of rain cleared, it looked good the rest of the afternoon.
At least I was encouraged, especially when the drops on the windshield quit. At 2 p.m., some 50 minutes after the scheduled game time, we went in and found our seats.
They were great. Eight rows up and halfway between home and third. The Cards’ Albert Pujols seemed close enough to touch, at least when I zoomed in with my Nikon.
But alas. The pregame report about how things looked good once the initial rain stopped was wrong.
The drops began to fall in the top of the fifth inning, and though it never rained hard enough to stop play, it was a steady drizzle.
We left in the middle of the sixth, Cards up 4-2. The old ponchos we had brought for protection acted more like sieves than a raincoat, and we were soaked.
Yes, I probably would have waited it out had I been alone or with my son, who won’t even leave if the score is 12-2 and it’s the last of the ninth.
But I was happy that my wife had stuck it out that long, and I thought the least I could do was get her out of the rain.
Besides, I figured we could listed to the broadcast on the way home and probably get there in time to catch the last inning or so on TV, and I was right. We did easily, and the Cards finished with an 8-4 win to sweep the series.
There aren’t that many more games left this season for further experiences like this one, though I am looking at the possibility of catching the Marlins-Braves this week. That way I can root for the Marlins with a clear conscience.
Next year, of course, the weather won’t be an issue for the Marlins. The team will move into its new stadium, which will have a moveable roof to ward off rain as well as provide air-conditioned comfort for afternoon games.
But I bet I’ll play hell getting two infield box seats for $28.
Albert Pujols' home run swing.