Opening Day!

The spring has arrived. I know this, not because it has stopped snowing in Chicago, but because baseball season has arrived. As Josh & I continue our tour of stadiums, we are attending opening weekend at Chase Field in Phoenix. Number 18 on our tour. We decided to attend the first two games of the year.

Chase Field

For those of you who do not remember or know, I am a die-hard Yankee’s fan while Josh follows the Atlanta Braves. Usually, we would be particularly vested in rooting for either team, but the Diamondbacks were playing the Red Sox, so I was working hard to help them win. The two greatest things in baseball? The Yankees winning and the Red Sox losing.

The first game of the season is always a somewhat special, the stadium is all decked out, both teams are introduced, and awards are presented. Friday’s match up was Porcello (Red Sox) vs. Godley (Diamondbacks) and was a slugfest…for the Diamondbacks. They jumped out to a 14-1 lead by the end of the 6th and it was all over after that. Boston scored a bunch of late runs, but the game was never in doubt. The one great thing about the game
other than a true beat down of the Red Sox with tons of Red Sox fans
is that we got to see a position player pitch. Eduardo Nunez, a former Yankee who now plays for Boston, pitched. This is the first time we have seen that.

Saturday morning we decided to go to Taliesen West, the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture school in Scottsdale. The tour took about an hour and was very interesting. They explained lots of his philosophy and how he used the shape and size of space to both move people and create a spaces for people to stay.

Saturday night we went to a second Diamondbacks/Red Sox Game. This one was much closer. The starting pitchers were David Price for Boston and Luke Weaver for Arizona. The score was tied 4-4 in the bottom of the 9th and we were thinking there would be extra innings. However, Eduardo Escobar got a single and then reached 2nd on a passed ball. Alex Avila singled to right and Escobar turned the corner and headed home, but was thrown out at home on a beautiful play by Boston. Avila reached second on the throw. Chris Kelly singled to left and brought Avila home for a walk off single! Great ending to a great baseball weekend.

Getting through the Winter

Major Winter Storm Pounds Chicago Area
Chicago

I hate the winter.  Chicago is cold, windy, gray, and snowy. I am miserable from the beginning of November until the spring comes…in July. This year, I have been particularly miserable; I am not really sure why, it hasn’t been very cold, there has been almost no snow and while it has been very gray, the wind doesn’t seem so bad.  But I am still miserable (and I suspect the other one will tell you that I am also insufferable—I don’t have to say it, because he already did).

la
Los Angeles

So, my plan is this —go no more than 4 weeks between leaving town—even if just for a weekend. We were in Florida over winter break.  I soaked up some sun and my misery lifted. However, it is now mid-January and I can feel the pull of warm weather. Last weekend, I took the plunge and booked flights to LA for early February. My daughter lives out there, which seems like a good excuse to visit. I figure 4 days of California sunshine will see me through February.

We have a trip to Costa Rica booked for the end of March, but that will

costa rica
Costa Rica

be seven—long, dark, cold, and windy weeks after I get back from LA. I think I might need to find somewhere else to go for a weekend. Sue doesn’t have any time off, so it will be hard for the two of us to go anywhere during that time, but I will see what I can come up with. Maybe wrangle a work trip to Charlotte for a few days?  In April, I have two trips. My feelings about this man are darkening.

Minolta DSC
Arizona

First, Arizona for opening weekend of the Diamondbacks with my son as we continue our tour of baseball stadiums. I love going to the opening weekend of baseball season. It is absolute confirmation that winter may end sometime in the next four months. Then, we are heading east to PA for a family visit.  While it doesn’t seem like it should be much warmer, I always think it is (and I am sticking with that story —don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up).

That should hold me over to May.

And…hopefully…May will bring warm weather!

It Was a Busy Few Days

milwaukeeLast weekend, as I have previously written, was a baseball weekend with Josh.  On Friday night, we went to Milwaukee and had great seats.  We sat in the third row just off to the third base side of home plate.  We were so close, we could almost reach out and touch the guys in the on deck circle.  The Brewers beat the Giants 4-2.  The game was fairly uneventful until the top of the 9th inning when the Giants’ catcher (Nick Hundley) and manager (Bruce Bochy) were both tossed from the game because they were arguing balls and strikes.  This is the first time on our tour that someone got tossed from the game.  The other interesting thing was that scoreboard showed a batters OPS rather than his batting average.  I didn’t care for it, but I guess I am a dinosaur.  The roof stayed open all night.

chisoxSaturday we went to see the White Sox at Comiskey  err, I mean Guaranteed Rate Field. (Really?  Only the White Sox could manage to move away from US Cellular Field as their name and find a worse one.)  The temperature was 68 degrees, but there was a bitter wind blowing off the lake.  We sat four rows behind the Angels’ dugout.  Trout clobbered two home runs and Ohtani, who was DH’ing, went 2 for 4.  I was surprised at how tall Ohtani is; he is as tall or taller than Trout.  The game was close until the top of the first when Angels’ scored three runs.  The White Sox put up one in the bottom of the first to keep it respectable.   The Angels put up another three in the third and we pulled out our forks because the Sox were done.  In the 9th, the Angels put up another 6 runs to make the final score 12-2.  Ohtani scored one of those runs by coming home on a wild pitch.  The play was close, but he was safe.

While I love to travel with Sue, traveling for work is less enjoyable.  I had a couple of trips this week.  On Sunday afternoon, I drove down to Indianapolis for a Monday morning meeting.  I came home Monday afternoon and then back out to Minnesota on Tuesday night.  I flew to Minneapolis then drove about 2.5 hours southwest to a small town.  I arrived at 9:10 pm and found out that all the restaurants in town were closed by that time.  Oh well, no dinner.  I had meetings all day on Wednesday and then retraced my steps to Minneapolis for an 8 pm flight home.  Back in the house at about 10:30 pm.  A long couple of days of no-fun work travel.

 

September Baseball

MLB-vector-logosYup. Another post about the best game in the world.  Baseball. For those of you who missed the last installment of as the baseball spins, I will bring you up to date. Our intrepid baseball stadium travelers (Josh & Steven) visited Pittsburgh’s PNC Park in August to get to the midway mark in the stadium tour(*). This weekend we are doing a two-fer by visiting Miller Park in Milwaukee and the southern of the two Chicago stadiums.

Now, I know what you are thinking.  You live in Chicago, how is it that you haven’t visited those stadiums already? The answer, my friends, is in the arcane rules of stadium visits as compiled and administered by Chief Rules Officer Josh. Apparently, any stadium visited prior to the official start of the stadium tour in 2013 does not count. So, while we have been to both these stadiums before, because those trips were before the start of the tour, they do not count. Rules are rules and must be followed.

miller parkFriday night we are going to Miller Park in Milwaukee. It is about a 90-minute drive and knowing Josh, we will need to be there 2 hours early in order to wander the stadium. It was 90 degrees here today, but by Friday, the high is expected to be about 70. Since it is a night game…we might be wearing jackets…Oh the winter is upon us! Miller Park is cool. It was one of the first retractable-roof baseball stadiums and the roof is a fan shape, so both sides open/close at the same time. Hopefully it will start out open and then at some point during the game they will close it. They used to open and close it after every game just because it is is cool to watch. We will see if they still do that.

grfieldSaturday night we are going to the stadium currently known as Guarantee Rate field. It used be called US Cellular Park, but everyone in Chicago still calls it Comiskey Park. It is an underwhelming stadium, build in the early 1990s.  The original Comiskey Park was built in 1910, and in the late 1980s the owner of the White Sox convinced Tampa/St. Pete that he would move the team there if they built him a stadium. They built the incredibly awful Tropicana Field, but while they were building it, Chicago agreed to build the new Comiskey and the team stayed here. This led directly to the expansion of baseball with the Tampa Rays (at the time they were called the Devil Rays, but now it is just the Rays).  Either way, the White Sox managed to move into a slightly less awful stadium in Chicago which seems to change names every 10 years.

(*) There is some dispute as to whether we have reached the halfway mark.  There are 30 baseball teams and we have visited 15 stadiums.  However, the stadium in Atlanta was torn down last year, and by a unanimous vote the rules committee (Josh) it was decreed that we must visit the New Atlanta stadium in order to complete the tour. The rules committee is also considering the question of whether the visit to the Nationals stadium for the All Star Game counted as the game played there was only an exhibition and therefore not a real game.  When we have a decision from the committee I will let you know.

All in all, should be a great weekend.  Two baseball games in 24 hours, what more could a person ask for?

 

Going Solo

….around the world in a rowboat.  Ok, maybe not that far, but I am taking a solo weekend trip (I am so sad –as far as Steven knows) to Pittsburgh in a couple of weeks.  It is part of the baseball stadium tour that I am doing with my son and we’re meeting there for a Cubs v. Pirates game.

My plan is drive out there (about 7 1/2 hour drive) on Saturday morning; catch the game Saturday night, then turn around and drive home on Sunday.   I usually like to be in the city around lunch time, so it might be a very early departure.  The Saab needs a little bit of care before I go.  An oil change (we have done 6,500 miles or so since the last one in June) and I think the wheels need to be aligned as I feel a slight tug on them when traveling on the highways (of course never more than the speed limit–note the part about the New Mexico State Trooper).  I will probably take care of those this week.

I haven’t picked up tickets yet, but I will do that this week.  I want to avoid sitting near the visitors dugout because Cubs fans travel so well.  We made that mistake when we went to Miami earlier this year and saw the Cubs play the Marlins.  Everyone around us was from Chicago,  I will look for seats on the Pirates side of the stadium this time.  I am hoping we will see Jon Lester and Chris Archer pitch; we haven’t been to a real pitcher’s duel in a while.

Usually our plan is to find a nice place for lunch, get to the game early to see batting practice and the pre-game presentations and then hang out for the game.  Since we are both driving, I expect we will have a nice breakfast Sunday morning then hit the road.  If anyone has suggestions for lunch and breakfast places near the stadium, please let me know.

The MLB All-Star Game

Screenshot_20180717-155746_The Weather Channel
Just a little bit of rain

My son and I left early to get to the game.  It started at 8 p.m., but we wanted to be there when the gates opened at 4:30–p.m., of course.  We drove to the Greenbelt Metro stop and took the train from there to the stadium.  Given the uncertainties of the drive and the train schedules, we ended up at the stadium stop at about 4.  Up the escalator and into the station lobby we went, only to find it pouring outside.   Not drizzling, not raining, but absolutely pouring.   We cooled our heels in the station, along with about 500 of our closest baseball friends–yes, I do include those from Boston in that group, but for them, the term friend is used loosely.

About 15 minutes later the rain mostly subsided and we wandered to the stadium.  We figured about a 10 minute walk then get to the gates for a five minute wait in the drizzle.  Turns out the stadium is one block away from the station, so we got on line and waited for the gates to open.

Once in the stadium, we walked around a bit, bought the requisite souvenirs (hat pins and All-Star jerseys), had a quick bite to eat and settled in our seats.  Front row, second deck about 3/4 of the way down the line.  Nice seats.

The pre-game festivities were great.  Lots of fun stuff going on which we soaked up during our wanders and from our seats.  There was a really nice tribute to 25 Medals of Honor winners before the national anthems (they sang both the U.S. and the Canadian).  The thing I liked best was that the players all went to shake hands and talk to the honorees after the anthems.  True heroes and ball players together.  Great ceremony.

The game was a little flat early.  There were three solo home runs and a few base Attach19038_20180717_174403runners up to the middle of the 7th.  The AL was up 2-1 when all hell broke lose.  The NL tied it in the bottom of the 7th, with another solo homer.  The AL put up 3 in the top of the eighth off two singles, then a 3 run home run.  The NL clawed back one on another solo in the bottom of the 8th.  AL did nothing in the top of the 9th.  The NL tied it in the bottom of the 9th with a 2 run homer!  FREE ALL-STAR BASEBALL!  The 10th started badly for the NL when two Astros hit back to back homers.  The AL tacked on one more off a couple of singles and a deep sacrifice fly.  The NL grabbed back one in the bottom of the 10th on yet another solo home run, but could not come up with anything else.  Final score 8-6 to the AL.

We ran back to the Metro station as the last train was set to leave about 20 minutes after the game ended.  We walked down the stairs just as a train pulled in.  Forty minutes or so later we were back at Greenbelt and then a quickish 30 minute drive back to my son’s house.  In the door just about 1:30am.   Good thing all I had to do on Wednesday was an 11 hour drive home 😉

 

Who needs to plan ahead?

I know, this posting is two days late.  I am sorry, I’ve been otherwise occupied and simply haven’t had the time to get this one done.

When we last left off our  intrepid travelers, they had just returned home from a two-week, all-fun vacation to the outer reaches of Utah.  Exhausted and elated, they set down their bags (and hiking gear) and thought “home sweet home.”  However, lurking in the back of Steven’s sun and heat soaked brain was the realization that he promised to go to the MLB All-Star Game with his son, who lives in Baltimore.  Turns out that the game is July 17th in Washington D.C.

Since this trip was Steven’s to plan alone….nothing got organized.  We checked on the flight and decided that $900 for two people was just too much to spend (Per Sue:  We could go to Paris for that price!! I know right! Paris or Baltimore…hmmmm.).  You know what that means–ROAD TRIP!!!

It is a pretty short drive, only  11 hours and 713 miles door-to-door.  We leave tomorrow (Saturday morning) real early (6 a.m.) and should be there around 6 p.m. Saturday night.  Sunday we may (likely?) go to the futures game.  Monday we will relax and then Tuesday night is the big game.  Wednesday morning it is back on the road home.  Whew.  Good thing we like being in the car!

Moral of the story….If you want to fly, don’t leave Steven to organize the trip.