To stray away from hockey for a day, last night was amazing.
First of all, I went to see the Rangers game on Saturday, which was awesome. For the first time that I've been at a game (I've been to about 5 others), the boys in blue and red got a win. It was actually a really good game, 3-0 Rangers, with great performances by Josh Hamilton, Matt Harrison, and Ian Kinsler.
Harrison had a great pitching night, only allowing 3 hits for Tampa, no one making it farther than third base. He personally struck out 8, a career best for him. More importantly, he kept it up all night, until the 9th inning, when he was switched out for Eddie Guardado. Cheers of "Harrison!" and "That's how to pitch!" could be heard throughout the night, several times from me.
Ian Kinsler had a strong offensive night, leading off by homering off the first pitch thrown to him. That definitely boosted the spirit in the building, and Kinsler, while not gaining another run, was the fan favorite that night. He caught one impressive fly foul right next to first base, nearly in the stands, and contributed to a double play later in the game.
Josh Hamilton was quiet on the offense, but made the play of the game at center field, stealing a home run away from Ben Zobrist. Michael Young RBI-ed a double, and Brandon Boggs walked with the bases loaded.
As a relatively new baseball fan (I'm only just now starting to care about stats and recognize players around the league, it stunk to miss Longoria for the Rays), I have to say, Tampa had one pitcher that confused the heck out of me. I'm sure there's a few guys like him, but Chad Bradford has one of the strangest throws I've seen in a while. It was (I think) side-arm, but he almost threw it underhand, like a softball. He still managed to throw it fast, but they only gave him one inning.
After the game, they had a few special events that I liked. A guy (can't remember his name, something like Ogie???) was raising money for a charity, and his big thing was hitting (and really swatting them out there, not just tipping them) 90 golfs balls in 70 seconds. And he did it, alright, with a good 4-5 seconds to spare. I was amazed, and it's even cooler that this guy was doing this to raise money for charity.
When he was done, they started the fireworks show, which really is one of the best in Texas. They were playing Elvis music during it, which was fun, and then they really got everyone happy when, just as the show ended, our attention was directed to the right field video board.
On the screen, they were showing the live NBC coverage of Michael Phelps' 8th Gold-medal winning race. That was just awesome for me. I only got to see a little bit of the Olympics, and that was the only live swimming race I was able to see.
Even better was just the whole USA spirit that you could immediately feel inside the ballpark. Every fan that had stayed for the fireworks was staring up at the screen, cheering and clapping. Several times people started "USA! USA!" chants, and tons of people were screaming "Go Phelps!" You could only just hear the excited announcing of the NBC crew, which basically made me feel like I was watching the movie Miracle, but Olympic swimming style. I loved it!
That was probably the most fun I've had since watching the Devils play the Kings way back when hockey season was still on, and I'll remember every moment of it.