Ballparks are full of history. They each have thier own distinct features, The bricks and ivy in Wrigley, monument park and the mystique of Yankee stadium, the warehouse at Camden, the green monster at Fenway, and more, but when you go to a park its more than to see the game, its to take in the environment. As much as I dislike it, part of going to Turner is listening to the fans do that tommohawk chant. I also enjoy seeing the statues or plaques of players who have contributed to all that history.

Each ballpark also gives you a different perspective of the game. What might be a HR at one park is just a fly ball in another. The site lines, angles and views of a game vary from park to park, even if your sitting in the same general area. Also the in game extras , like the mascot races, or singing the stretch at Wrigley, Sweet Caroline at Fenway, or the 7th inning God Bless America at Yankee stadium.

Another great thing about parks is visiting the local bar near the stadium. Harry Carays and Murphy's in Chicago, Pickles in Baltimore, Hockeytown Cafe in Detroit, Hooters in Anaheim, Rock Bottom Brewery in Denver (and Cinci), Harpoon Brewery in Boston, and Billys sports bar in the Bronx.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Planning Next year's tour

So here's the plan for next year. Well, maybe. The first challenge is that we need to do the trip(s) either before May 15 or after July 4. There are scheduling issues during that time frame. That said, I only have 1 park left in the NE, that being Yankee Stadium. Shawn needs to see Citi and Nationals park as well. I have some dates at the end of April that would work for all 3. BUT, we did the NE last year at that time and it was nice for 2 days then in Philly it got real cold real fast. I would still like to complete the NE and then we can focus on other areas for a while. But this trip only knocks 1 off MY list. 

 Yankee Stadium

Next option, which I am all for , but would need to get Shawn to buy into, is Minnesota. I want to go to an All-star game. I need to see Target Field. Hmm?  Being that it is out of the way of other parks, why not dedicate the trip to there, and kill two birds......
It wouldn't be too much more $$ that a typical 3-4 day park trip. I know that if you fly in the park is about 2 miles from the airport so we could get around w/o a problem. 
If not the All-star game, we can get to Target in about 7 hours from Chicago, so I could work it in with a trip top Wrigley. Either way, this will only knock one off MY list

Target Field

The last option would be to go to see the 2 Texas teams. This one is pretty straight forward. They are about 4 hours from each other and we could get there on the day of game 1 and drive to game 2, then come home on day 3. Pretty straight forward. Lots of date options as well.
 Also, it probably wont be 28 degrees in April in Texas. 
This will kill two off my list.

Minute Maid Park

I have a lot of dates lined up and ready to go. Just need Shawn's input. 
I will be hitting up Tampa this year as well, even though it is not a lot to see, it is still a MLB park. 
With 7 left to start, if we do NE or Target Field, I will have only 5 left, or if we do Texas that leaves me with 4. Plus I am trying to convince my wife that Seattle is a worthy vacation spot to sneak that in. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Playoffs 2013

NLDS Game 1 Braves vs. Dodgers 10/3/13

The Chik-fila cow had a new saying. They need to find some that make puns against the opponents of the braves. Like this one could have been something about "dodging burgers". 

Here is the logo on the field just inside the baselines. I am surprised it didn't say NLDS on it, but I guess with the wildcard game now they dont want to have to keep changing it for those teams that play in those games. 

Heres "Homer" walking around before the game. 

Chipper threw out the first pitch. That was kind of cool. With his blue jeans and hat he looks like he belongs in a Wrangler commercial.  

The match up was Clayton Kershaw vs. Kris Medlen, which was a great pitchers duel on paper. It ended up not being that way. In the 1st, Medlen struck out the side, but that didn't last. The Braves just forgot how to play defense. There were 2 plays that should have been errors that went for hits. Overall, Medlen wasn't that bad, but once a few runs were scored on him, against Kershaw, you knew the Braves were in trouble.   

The Dodgers won 6-1. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Marlins Park, 2013


As I am sitting here writing this, Sunday, 2 days later, Henderson Alvarez just completed a no hitter against the Tigers. Why do I come within a few innings of a game I am at, or a few days before or after one every year. I guess it just wasn't meant to be. 
Now that I got that off my chest, I heard a lot of different opinions on this Park, but I left my judgement open like I always do. Upon arrival I saw it from the freeway, but as I got closer, I had a hard time finding a place to get a pic of the outside because there are too many buildings around it. They are small buildings, but I didn't feel like climbing on roofs. But I found a decent spot. It definitely has a futuristic look to it from the outside. Nothing exciting, but not bad looking either. From this angle, it almost looks like a really big round office building. 

Once you get around the other side, where the sliding roof is, that is where the ramps are as well. It still has a very good clean look though. It fits the Florida theme with its look and all the palm trees around it. The sidewalks are painted in "South Florida" colors, but actually look pretty cool. The main clubhouse store is right here too, but there is no access to it from inside, and the ones inside don't have anywhere near the selection to choose from. 

The main concourse is wide open from foul pole to foul pole. It has the stands behind the last row of seats so if you want to eat your food there, or just hang out there, you can. Philly, Atlanta and a few others are like this as well. I like that so if you go to get a drink or whatever, you can still get a glimpse of the game until you get back to your seat.

This is obviously a pic from the upper deck. My seat was just inside the 3rd base dugout. I wouldn't give anything here a top 5 rating, but overall this was a very nice stadium, except for the WTF piece of art in the outfield. 

 I asked the season ticket holders I sat with about it, and they said they haven't talked to anybody that likes it. It only does its thing when a Marlin hits a home run, so I didn't get to see it in action. 

The scoreboard is nice and it fits well into the layout of the park, but once again, it's nothing unique about it. They do have all the line-ups on the side of the video part through the whole game, which not all teams do, some only put it up when needed.  

The Marlins won this game 3-2. All three runs came on this double that Stanton hit. That man will look great in Cubbie blue some day. There were a lot of Tigers fans there, and even the regular fans seemed a lot more than what I expected. In the first inning I figured out why, when Miguel Cabrera came up to bat and got a standing ovation. I realized then that not only he was there, but also Leyland,  who managed them to a World Series win. Don't get me wrong, the stadium was still more than 50% empty, but that's a lot compared to what they have had lately. 

The roof was open on and it was a beautiful night. Not only does the roof open and close for weather, but according to the regulars around me, so do the sections behind the outfield concourse. I looked it up and it appears that there are sliding doors that close that section off. It was open as well, and the breeze coming in made it a great night to watch a game. 

Speaking of that outfield concourse, as you can see from the picture above this one, from the left field line to the WTF thing it is wide open for standing room, and there is a Budweiser patio over there too. It is a very nice design throughout the whole park. They flashed up a sign on the video screen late in the game that said "rainouts year to date 0". I know that number was pretty big for them before that.  

Oh, I almost forgot, it was Star Wars night too. I think I have a knack for finding these games. This is the 3rd time I have been to a game and it was Star Wars night. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Heading to Marlins Park next week

I'm going to south Florida to see some family next week and I'm gonna hit Marlins Park while I am there. It's the last week of the season and they are Playing the Tigers. I would have hit the Rays too on the way home, but they are on the road, so I guess it will have to do. I have heard a lot of mixed opinions on it, so I will be able to give my opinion on it when I get back. I hope to see a HR so I can see that stupid thing in the outfield do its thing, just to say I saw how stupid it was. 

This pic is from the internet, and I'm pretty sure there wont be this many people there when I go, but I hope it doesn't rain so the roof is open. I have seats on the lower level between the 3rd base dugout and home plate, but I might sneak out to left field since there will be a few power hitters there. Maybe I will get lucky and Serena's (TBB) future ex husband #4 will be pitching. Don't know who that is? Click on the Travelling baseball babes link on the right sidebar!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Looking to the future

With the season almost over, I look back and realize that I have gone to more minor league games than MLB ones this year. Nothing wrong with that, but I am just used to seeing more Braves games. It appears they will be in, at least, the first full round of playoffs, so I will try to get to one of those games.

In the meantime, I just went to a Smokies (Cubs) @ Lookouts (Dodgers) AA game last weekend. I have been wanting to get up there for a while now, and since Javy Baez was there, it was a great chance to see him too. This kid is good. Nothing is ever guaranteed, but he could be a huge part of our future. He didn't disappoint, his first at bat he nearly cleared the scoreboard in left field. Shawn, who is a Yanks fan, said he looked like a "man among boys out there"  

The season took a downturn when the Cubs traded away a lot of players, which was to be expected. Even with that, we need 1 more win to match last years win total, with 22 games left. Not significant improvement, but whats the difference between 65 or 75 wins. nothing really, and we got some great prospects for some of the moves. 

Soon it will be focusing on the off season and see if the Cubs make a move for a key piece of offense that can help this line-up. There are rumors about going after Choo, or possibly Cano. I don't see Cano happening, but possibly Choo, and that would be a huge help to this lineup. If we can just add a couple of pieces this off season, and Bryant and Baez can be midyear call ups, we could be in position to do something good next season. Time will tell. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Trade Deadline 2013

So that time of year is here again, and unfortunately, the Cubs are selling again, but we are playing a lot better and this time next year I think (hope) we could be buying. 

The Cubs made some minor moves sending Scott Feldman to the O's and Scott Hairston to the Nats. The biggest move just happened when we sent Matt Garza to the Rangers for 3 strong prospects and a PTBNL. Mike Olt, who has struggled a bit this year, but I think could be our 3rd baseman of the future and 2 pitchers, CJ Edwards and Justin Grimm. 
Garza is a free agent at the end of the year, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Cubs are in on his bidding. 

There are still plenty of rumors flying around. Soriano to the Yanks? Kevin Gregg to a team needing some bullpen help? We will see about that, but as far as others like DeJesus, Schierholtz, and Navarro, well I don't see them going anywhere unless someone is going to overpay for them. I guess we will find out soon. 

In other interesting Cubbie news, how about Junior Lake! He is HOT right now. It's only been a week, so we will see how long it lasts, but when so many young players come up and struggle at first, he is hitting .580 after a week. That will go down, but it is adding some excitement to the season so enjoy it. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Memorial day

They say that you shouldn't look at the standings in baseball until Memorial Day. Once it is here, there have been enough games to give a little more realistic view of what teams are capable of. If that's the case, well my Cubs aren't capable of competing for the playoffs. That said, I do see a lot of improvement this year and if we just get one or two more pieces for next year we should be able to compete for the playoffs. Castro and Rizzo continue to improve, and Samardzija looks like he could possibly become our ace. The questions will be what will the Cubs do with Garza and what other moves will we do this year at the trade deadline.  Two players that I would love to see in cubbie blue are Chase Headley and Giancarlo Stanton. I known we couldn't get both and either one would cost us a few pieces, but either would fit great in the lineup with our other big pieces.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Citizen Bank Park, 2013


Citizen Bank Park

This was the 3rd and final park of our trip. After great weather in Pittsburgh, missing the rain and the city being shut down to see a great game in Boston, the weather was supposed to be nice for Philly. Well it was nice, if your a penguin. It got down to below 40 with 15 mph winds.

We got to Philly early and went to Pat's King of Steaks. It was awesome. I had been to Geno's before, but Shawn hadn't had either, so we went to Pat's. I was hungry after having to drive around for 30 minutes to find a place to park, then walk 3 blocks to get there. I forgot to take a pic of that awesome sandwich. Oh well, you'll have to use your imagination. 

Citizen Bank Park
This park reminded me a lot of Atlanta, and a few other parks. The concourses were wide open and there are stands to eat, drink and hang out behind the last row. There are also a lot of these places around the park, on the second level, in the outfield area, etc. I like that, especially when you like to move around a park like we typically do.  Well we walked around a lot before the game, but once it started and it got dark, we didn't move a lot. It was freezing. Even the Philly fans were freezing, but they were bundled up a little better than us. One good thing was that the park emptied out early being a Sunday night with school/work in the morning. 

Citizen Bank Park
Steve Carlton 

Citizen Bank Park
 Richie Ashburn
This statue is in Ashburn Alley across the outfield. There are lots of places to eat, drink, and watch the game from out there. 
One of those places was Bull's BBQ. Man, you could smell this place from every place in the park. 
We weren't hungry when we got there, after eating our cheese steaks for lunch, but by the 6th inning we were drawn to it. It was good. 

Our seats were right above the xfinity sign in the pic here. We were up towards the aisle, but they were great seats. Everything you have heard about Philly fans, well at least most of it, is true. Dominic Brown was in LF and there was a single to left that he didn't dive for, and man did he hear it from the crowd. They didn't let up  on him the whole game. 

 Here is a couple of pictures of the liberty bell sign in right center field. It looks better at night, as does the whole park with the lighting, but I wasn't about to go back up to the upper deck to take more pictures. It was cold enough down below. 

The Phillies were playing the Cardinals, so I was a Phillies fan that night. 
It was a pretty tight game, a lot of hits but only a little scoring until the bottom of the 8th when Ben Revere broke a 3-3 tie with a single, then Erik Kratz shot down the red birds with a 3 run home run. 
Final score Phillies 7 Cards 3. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Fenway Park, 2013


This was the 2nd park of 3 on our trip. The best way to enter the park is through Yawkey Way. This place is awesome. It's like a pregame party in the street. The whole street is blocked off and you can go in and out of the stadium if you want. 

The concourse behind right field is pretty wide open for such an old park. It has a really old school look to it. 
The park was packed this day, plus this was the first day after they caught the second idiot that bombed the Boston Marathon. It was pretty charged up. 

Fenway Park

The classic view of the press box and facade. And a close up of it. 

Fenway Park

Fenway Park

While at fenway, you have to get a picture of the green monster. Well, why not get a picture of both. I would have loved to get a shot of Shawn with Wally, but no such luck. 

Fenway Park

This was our view of the monster from our seats. We were the first section to the right of it. There was a HR over it in this game and we had a great view of it. 

As I said, this was the first home game since the troubles and the city was shut down the day before. We were headed here from the Hall of Fame and were concerned about not being able to see a game. We were listening to news and eventually they lifted the ban and said to go back to normal the next day, even though they hadn't caught him yet. They got him a few hours later. The pregame ceremonies were very emotional and Big Papi charged the crowd up more with his pregame speech. 

The tradition of singing "Sweet Caroline" was something I was looking forward to. Well, it got even better when before the song, Neil Diamond came out to lead the crowd in the song. He was inspired by the way the city pulled together. 

Ted. Any questions?

After we left, we somehow ended up basically walking around the whole park. It worked out well for us because there are a lot of cool plaques and flags around the park to look at. I was sure to point out the 2004  World Series banner to Shawn. 

A couple of shots from the game. It was a tight game and it looked like Boston might lose until the the bottom of the 8th down 2-1 with 2 outs. Daniel Nava stepped up with 2 on and hit a 3 run shot. The crowd went wild. KC managed a solo shot over the monster in the top of the 9th, but it wasn't enough.
 Final score Sawx 4 Royals 3.  

So one disappointing thing about this trip was that Sam Adams brewery cancelled all tours that weekend due to the issues. I understand, but it still sucked. I can't complain considering 24 hours before that, we thought we might not be able to even enter the city. We did get to go to Harpoon brewery that evening after the game, and lets just say we made up for our loss!

One note, it was great listening to the Boston accents through the day, and the more they drink, the more it comes out. Shawn and I were using them all the way home and the people in Philly probably thought we were crazy, but who cares.