The Shoestring Catch


Victory
June 16, 2009, 11:55 pm
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Cigars and scotch on my parents' back porch

Cigars and scotch on my parents' back porch

After the UT game in Omaha, we piled back into the car and drove straight through the night to Denver. We knocked on my parents’ door around 6:30AM, and went to bed as soon as they let us in.  After we woke up we regaled my family with stories of our adventures and they treated us like conquering heroes returning from battle. We smoked cigars and drank scotch with my dad, and my mom baked us a huge lasagna.  I can’t imagine a better conclusion to the trip.

Our arrival in Denver marks the end of our trip, and subsequently, this blog.  All we have left is a 20 hour drive back to Houston; as long as nothing goes horribly wrong on the drive, it will be decidedly boring and not blog-worthy.  Thank you all for following my adventures.  I hope this blog has been as much fun to read as it has been to write.  Whenever I start a new project I will make sure to post links on this site, so check back periodically if you’re interested in keeping  up with me.  Thanks again, and keep traveling!



College World Series
June 16, 2009, 11:47 pm
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Texas vs Arizona State at the College World Series

Texas vs Arizona State at the College World Series

I knew that Texas was in the College World Series, and I sort of knew that we would be driving through Omaha during the World Series, but I didn’t know that our schedule would line up perfectly to allow us to catch my college team play a game at Rosenblatt Stadium on our way to Denver.  Like most of the best things on this trip, this was completely unplanned and unexpected.  My dad was able to secure us tickets through some business connections, and we got to watch Texas make a great comeback against Arizona State. I was glad to be at the game, but this experience did confirm one of my sneaking suspicions: I just don’t care for college baseball. Metal bats, sloppy fielding, and agonizingly slow gameplay make college baseball almost a completely different game from its Major League cousin.  We all agreed that the highlight of this portion of the trip was seeing Erin Andrews in person.

Erin Andrews

Erin Andrews



Field of Dreams/ Iowa City
June 14, 2009, 11:34 pm
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"If you build it, they will come"    And we did

"If you build it, they will come" And we did

The greatest thing we did on this trip happened completely by accident.  I was talking to Stephanie on the phone a few days ago and she mentioned that her dad said we should stop by the Field of Dreams movie site on our way across Iowa.  None of us even knew it was a real place, so if he hadn’t casually mentioned it, we would have missed out on the best part of the trip.  Every baseball fan owes it to himself to visit this place– it is as close to baseball hallowed ground as any site in America. The farmhouse, the bleachers, the diamond, they are all there.  We tossed Andrew’s foul ball around the outfield, ran the bases, and took batting practice with a souvenir bat Eric purchased at the gift stand.  Our only complaint was that the corn was only about 18 inches high.  Apparently we’ll have to come back in late July if we want to see it full grown.  I’m seriously considering it.

We stayed at the field until they kicked us off at 6:00 PM, then we headed to Iowa City to meet up with my friend Lauren.  She took us to this Korean-run  Mexican Honky Tonk/ Karaoke Bar… I don’t really have the words to describe this experience; we all had a good time though. Andrew sang Sweet Child of Mine and Eric and I sang Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.  The locals were receptive to our vocal stylings and applauded politely after each number.

Amazing

Amazing



6/13 Miller Park/ Brewers Game
June 13, 2009, 8:41 pm
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Miller Park

Miller Park

Miller Park is easily the best retractable roof stadium I have ever visited.  Unlike Rogers Centre or Minute Maid Park where the roofs only open at one end, Miller Park’s roof retracts like a wedge of cheese or a giant Pac-Man opening his mouth.  This style of roof makes the park seem much more open than its retractable brethren.  Besides the roof, there is a lot of cool stuff going on at Miller park, including Bernie Brewer’s Slide, the Sausage Race Clock, and what I am convinced are the most beer stands per capita of any Major League Park.

I’m glad the park itself was exciting, because the game we witnessed was one of the most boring, one-sided affairs of the entire trip.  Jose Contreras of all people pitched 8 strong innings of shutout ball while the White Sox hitters lit up Manny Parra like a pinball machine. The greatest tragedy of the day was that we never got to see Bernie Brewer slide down his slide. Every time Prince Fielder or Ryan Braun came up to bat we prayed for a home run, but it was all for naught.

The Sausage Race is as amazing as advertised. My only complaint is that the normal Hot Dog won. He has almost twice as many victories as any other sausage, and I don’t think that’s fair. Maybe he’s juicing. I was pulling for Polish, who finished with a strong second place.

Go Polish!

Go Polish!



6/12 Wrigley Field/ Cubs Game
June 12, 2009, 10:28 pm
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What a View

What a View

It was a gorgeous sunny day in Chicago, but it was still cold in the shade.  Our seats at Wrigley were the highest up and furthest back down the third baseline in the park, and the sun never touched us.  The lack of sun, the location of our seats, the pole blocking our view, my hatred of the Cubs, and the fact that these were the most expensive tickets of the whole trip combined to really hamper my enjoyment of Wrigley Field.  I was led to believe that Wrigley was a magical place where the beer flows like wine– and maybe it is in some spots, but it isn’t in section 503 at $73.12 a seat.  If I ever return to Wrigley, I want to sit in the outfield bleachers.  Everyone out there was having a great time, and I bet they weren’t cold.

In spite of all the inconveniences, we still got to see a great baseball game.  Today marked the first time the Minnesota Twins had ever played at Wrigley.  Our section was predominately populated by Minnesotans who had made the trek down from Minneapolis to watch this historic occasion, and sitting with the Twins fans suited me just fine.  When I go to Cubs-Astros games at Minute Maid Park the Cubs fans usually outnumber the Astros fans, so it was nice to see the Cubbies get a little dose of their own medicine.  The guy sitting next to me claimed that all flights between Minneapolis and Chicago were booked solid because of the series.  I’m not sure if I believe him, but it does make a nice anecdote.

Starter Kevin Slowey tossed a gem and Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth to nail down the victory for the Twins, but the star of this game was Cubs right fielder Milton Bradley.  The always entertaining Bradley let a ball he lost in the sun drop 15 ft in front of him and turned a single into a double by diving for a ball and missing it.  For his coup de grace Milton caught the second out of the sixth inning and, thinking it was the third out, threw the ball into the stands.  After this final slipup, some of the scattered Cubs fans in our section stood up and shouted, “go back to Scrabble!”  I considered pointing out that Scrabble is actually a Hasbro game, but I decided against it.

I was surprised that Wrigley does not have a jumbotron.  I suppose this makes sense for a team and park that values tradition so much that they didn’t install lights until 1988, but as a modern-day fan, I found the lack of a screen made it more difficult to interact with the game.  For example, Kenney Chesney sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the seventh inning stretch, but since I wasn’t paying attention to the PA announcement introducing him, (and because my seat was so bad) I didn’t know who was singing until the song was over.  This wouldn’t happen at any other park because Kenny Chesney’s face would be plastered all over the video screen.  I guess this is just another one of Wrigley’s little quirks that I find more annoying than charming.

Us at Wrigley

Us at Wrigley



6/11 US cellular field/ white sox game
June 11, 2009, 11:30 pm
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White Sox Fascism

White Sox Fascism

There is plenty of parking at US Cellular Field… if you’re a multimillionaire.  At $23 a pop, the White Sox offer the most expensive ballpark parking we have come across.  We refused this extortion and found some free parking 10 blocks away in front of a hardware store.  There are some very enticing free parking spots in residential areas right next to the ballpark, but they are tow-away zones during White Sox games.  These traps are well marked, so just make sure you are paying attention.

This game was our first rain-delay experience; the 1:05 PM start was delayed a full three hours.  To pass the time, the Sox were kind enough to play a documentary of their 2005 World Series victory on the jumbotron.  I’m sure this was a treat for your average White Sox fan, but it was quite frustrating for the boy from Houston.  It really made me wish they hadn’t canceled Mark Buehrle’s slip-n-slide show.

The worst part of the rain delay, and US Cellular Field in general, was we were trapped.  Why?  Because “500 Level ticket holders cannot access other levels of the ballpark”.  Fans with the cheapest seats in the park are not allowed to walk around the main concourse, try to catch batting practice homeruns, or look at any of the statues or memorials in US Cellular Field; they have to march straight up to their nosebleed seats.  It’s like riding steerage on the Titanic.  Even during the two hour rain delay the gate attendants would not let us walk around the park.  I asked one attendant why we couldn’t go to the main level and he pointed out that we might try to sneak into some better seats.  I told him that it is every baseball fan’s right and duty to try and sneak into better seats, but he did not reply.  The cheapest White Sox ticket is more expensive than any other park’s cheapest (face value) ticket, and it doesn’t even grant you access to the whole park.  It was enough of an outrage to make us all vow to never to return to US Cellular Field.  It’s a fine park, but we will not stand for their blatant elitism.

Our first rain delayed game almost turned into our first extra innings game when Curtis Granderson tied it up with a two run homerun in the top of the ninth.  Thankfully Scott Podsednik of all people had a walk off hit in the bottom of the ninth.  We were all cold, wet, and fed up with the man; it would not have been a good time for extras.

US Cellular Field did have some great hot dogs; I will give it that.  At $4.75 they were also fairly reasonably priced.  I had the Brat, Eric had the Italian, and Andrew had the Polish.  This might be my favorite picture from the entire trip:

Italian. Polish. Bratwurst

Italian. Polish. Bratwurst



6/9 Progessive Field/ Indians Game
June 10, 2009, 6:43 pm
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Foul Ball!

It finally happened.  After 7 ½ games Andrew finally caught a foul ball.  It was thrown by former Cy Young Winner Cliff Lee and hit by current Kansas City Royals “slugger” Miguel Olivo (no, but seriously, would you have been able to tell me that Olivo already has 10 homeruns this season?  His two walks more than make up for this power surge, but it’s still an interesting stat).  A foul ball is the best kind of souvenir.  It’s free and it comes with a great memory already attached to it.

Progressive Field is probably the most nondescript ballpark we have visited so far.  There is nothing wrong with it, but at the same time there is nothing that really stands out about it.  The scoreboard is top-notch however, and it is the only one I have seen so far that displays both OBP and BBs when a hitter is up to bat.  This feature really helps keep Miguel Olivo’s 10 homeruns in perspective.  Progressive Field on a Tuesday night was also the emptiest ballpark we have visited.  We tried to use this to our advantage by sneaking into some very good seats along the first baseline, but even though we succeeded in sneaking into the seats, the section was so empty that the attendant noticed us later and said, “excuse me, you guys don’t look familiar.  Can I see your tickets?”  You don’t look familiar?  The park was so empty that this guy could identify every ticketholder in his section in a police lineup.  Oh well, if we hadn’t gone back up to our nosebleed seats, Andrew would never have caught the foul ball.

Speaking of foul balls, this game was just two days before the infamous fowl ball game where the Indians won in the 10th due to seagull interference.  In my notes from Tuesday I just wrote “seagulls?”  They were flying around and landing in the outfield during our game, and I wondered if they would ever come into play.  I had no idea.




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