Baseball Road Trippin' · Family Fun

May 30-June 18: Our Family Baseball Road Trip

welcome "home"

We’re leaving our home today for the trip of a lifetime!!

Today we head out on what may be a totally crazy idea trip: a three-week long road trip around the Midwest and the East Coast to see 14 MLB games, all with a 2-year old in tow. Along the way we’ll get to see some family and friends, too, which will hopefully make it a little more manageable with Chiquita.

Naturally Round Ball, Round Bat is the place to be to get updates as we go (you can subscribe in a reader or by email), but you can also follow me on Twitter for mini-updates as we travel.

Here’s our game itinerary (and yes, we would gladly accept free tickets to any of these games!) 😉

May 30: Reds @ Brewers
May 31: Dodgers @ Cubs
June 1: A’s @ White Sox
June 2: Reds @ Cardinals
June 5: Angels @ Tigers
June 6: Royals @ Blue Jays
June 9: Reds @ Nationals
June 10: Mariners @ Orioles
June 11: Phillies @ Mets
June 12: Mets @ Yankees
June 13: Red Sox @ Phillies
June 14: Tigers @ Pirates
June 15: Brewers @ Indians
June 16: Braves @ Reds

Happy Baseball and see you on the road!

Ballpark Reviews · Baseball Games · The Majors

Padres at Dodgers~ May 1, 2009

We had a great time as usual at Dodger Stadium! This was our first time taking a toddler, and despite the age of the stadium, it was pretty doable with a stadium. A couple of downfalls for a young fan was the lack of elevators (only a couple at the whole place!) and unfortunately no kids’ concession stand so we had to settle for buying Chiquita a $5 hot dog.

For the first time ever, we got there before the gate opened! We were stoked to get to see a little bit of the Dodgers’ batting practice and then also hung around to watch the Padres practice for my brother’s sake. Dodger Stadium now opens up the center field wall so fans can get a warning-track view of the players getting warmed up. What a treat for the baseball-loving family!

We went on a fireworks show night and it was a great choreographed show with a Las Vegas theme. We’ve been to a few fireworks nights at other locations and I must say that I’ve never seen a ballpark allow the fans down on the outfield grass during the fireworks! We couldn’t make it all the way down there from the Top Deck with a stroller but we still had a great view.

Here are some pictures from the game!

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

Stadium Tour Guide

Dodger Stadium Tour

Ballpark tours are such a fun way to learn more about the game and its history and get a behind-the-scenes look at a particular team. It’s also a great way to get excited for a new season and to get a little baseball fill during the off-season.

Here’s the photo album from the tour we went on in March.

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

Something that was great about this tour was getting to see a video about the “Next 50 Years” at Dodger Stadium. We love that they decided to update the existing ballpark, retaining all the history that it houses, rather than tearing it down to build a new one. The McCourts have got some exciting plans up their sleeves for updating the old stadium!

The tickets are similarly priced to a game ticket ($15 each I believe from dodgers.com) and I think it’s well-worth the price for any true fan of the game.

Ballpark Reviews · Baseball Games · The Majors

Petco Park Strikes Out

Daddy's Girl

Here’s the first installment of our review of ballparks from the family perspective.  As you will see from the letter below, we received less than average service and flexibility from the ballpark staff at Petco Park.  This is the actual letter that I emailed to the Padres.  I will keep you posted on whether or not they provide a response.

Unfortunately, I have two pieces of negative feedback regarding our experience at Petco Park on Tuesday, April 7, 2009.  I attended this game with my wife, in-laws, and 23-month old daughter.

Let me preface my first comment by stating that I understand the stroller check-in policy at Petco Park.  Upon arriving at the landing below our seats in section 315, we noticed that none of the wheelchair companion seats were occupied.  As we have done at the accommodating and family-friendly Coors Field in Denver, CO [more on that in a later post], we pulled the stroller next to some of these unoccupied seats in hopes of leaving our daughter in her stroller during the game.  We were told by an usher that we had to purchase special tickets in order to sit in these seats.  While the usher told us exactly where to go to purchase upgraded seats, we were completely baffled by the unwillingness to be flexible and accommodate our family, which includes a small child.  Additionally, it was obvious that the game was not a sellout and we were completely sensitive to the fact that someone may eventually occupy the seats.  As it turns out, the seats were never occupied during the game.

I can anticipate that your reaction to my first comment will be something like,”Our ushers are trained to send customers to their ticketed seats” or,”We agree with the usher’s recommendation to direct you to a ticket window.”  I want to reiterate that I understand the ballpark ticket policies, but we were extremely disappointed at the ballpark staff’s unwillingness to be flexible, given our situation.

While the ushers were quick to make sure that we did not occupy the wheelchair companion area, they failed to provide us the proper service once we checked our stroller in and took our seats in row 10 of section 15.  As you know, this is actually the second row of this section.  All throughout the game (especially during play) spectators were going up and down the stairs at the bottom of the section, standing at the top of the stairs, and holding cell phone conversations while obstructing our view and the view of several other fans around us.  I spoke to an usher regarding this activity and she told me that it’s “hard to control” at the upper level.  She explained that it is controlled at the lower levels of the ballpark.

In addition to the obstructions created by the uncontrolled spectators, our seats did not provide a complete view of the playing field.  Our view of home plate was obstructed by the railing of the heavily traveled stairs and our view of right field was cut short by the lower portion of the third deck.  We believe that the seats should be discounted and say “obstructed View” on them.

It is our hope that you will use these comments to provide a better experience for future visitors to Petco Park.  I look forward to hearing your response to our concerns.

Despite our complaints, we still had a great time at Petco Park during Opening Week. That was our first time visiting the Padres’ ballpark with Chiquita, and that always makes for a very different experience than just going by ourselves. The photo above is one of my favorites. It really captures how our daughter is definitely becoming a baseball fan at a young age.

Petco Park does have some great amenities for families such as the Park in the Park (the grassy area out behind the outfield), a kids’ concession stand, a mini baseball field, a sandy “beach” area right behind the right field wall, and fun Petco mascots. They also have an amazing food deal right now where you can get 5 items (hot dog, coke, cookie, popcorn, & peanuts) for only $5! Not to mention, it’s in a great location, being right downtown in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.

Here’s the slideshow from the game.
http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=70933

And I still haven’t forgotton about more Spring Training details, that will be coming soon!

Baseball Randomness

Tragedy in Orange County

By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard the news and are as saddened as we are at the death of young rookie Nick Adenhart.

We simply want to express our heartfelt condolences to Adenhart’s family, friends and teammates. It’s times like these that we can only trust in knowing that God must have some plan to bring good out of this tragedy.

Here’s an article from the Angels website in case you didn’t catch all the details.

Amidst all the press coverage, I was surprised to see a softer side of a man that I didn’t have a lot of respect for before, the infamous agent, Scott Boras. The following quote was taken from the article linked to above, and I love how it points out how Adenhart’s last night was one of success and accomplishment.

Of all the sad, thoughtful and poignant sentiments that ensued, nothing spoke louder of Adenhart’s effect than the eyes of agent Scott Boras, which weren’t vacant but wet.

Looking completely distraught when his turn to speak came, Boras took several deep breaths before saying, “Nick’s parents, Jim and Janet, wanted me to convey to the entire Angels organization … ”

Then the tough-as-steel agent broke down, audibly sobbing before again collecting himself to say through quivering lips, “He was a great kid. His life goal was to be a big league baseball player. He’d summoned his father [on Tuesday], telling him ‘You better come [to Wednesday’s game]. Something special’s going to happen.'”

Something special did: Adenhart blanked the Oakland A’s for six innings of what turned out to be an Angels loss.

“After the game,” Boras said, “he was so elated. It was tremendous fun. A great moment for all of us, seeing a young man take a huge step.”

For a beautifully touching tribute, read this blog post by the best friend of one of the other victims who was in the car with Adenhart, Henry Pearson. As someone who has also lost a best friend in a tragic accident, I was especially touched by reading Matt’s post.

Baseball Randomness · Round Ball Round Bat

Happy Opening Day!

I’ve had baseball on TV in the background all day and it brings a smile to my face as I type this knowing that today starts a new season. We’re off to watch the Dodgers square off with the Padres with on TV tonight and then in-person tomorrow night, for our first game of the year! It’s amazing how the sounds of baseball and a little warm weather can bring some summertime happiness in April.

We’re glad to have you along for the ride as we embark on Round Ball, Round Bat‘s innaugural year of blogging baseball.

rbrbbutton125

Baseball Memories · Spring Training

Spring Training 2009

We just got back from a great weekend in Arizona– complete with 3 Dodgers games and some great, warm weather.

photo: family at surprise stadium

Obviously, a highlight was seeing the Dodgers new complex at Camelback Ranch, but it was also fun to see them play at Surprise Stadium against the Royals  (where we are pictured above) and Goodyear Ballpark against the Indians (also brand-new). We didn’t get to see Manny play but we got to see lots of other players up close and personal.

In the near future, I’ll be posting reviews of the venues we visited, noting especially how they rate as far as family-friendliness, but in the meantime you can check out our photo album and get a little taste of our baseball weekend in the desert.

View our photo album!

Oh, and I found a great license plate that would work for me:

photo: mlb girl

the ocean & baseball– perfect!

Family Fun · Spring Training

10 Reasons To Take Your Family To Spring Training

This will be our third year in a row heading out to Spring Training… we went to Arizona two years ago, and last year we spent a week in Florida. We can’t wait to see a few Cactus Leauge games this weekend (and be sure to check back next week for a recap!). In the meantime, here are few reasons why we love Spring Training and think it makes for the perfect family vacation.

Chiquita at Dodgertown, Vero Beach

1.  Weather~ Whether you go to Florida or Arizona, you’re bound to get some warm days, which will put you even more in mood for baseball, in my opinion. With so much of the country still experiencing winter in March, it can be a much-needed reprieve to hit up some baseball games near the beach or in the desert.

2.  Intimacy~ When else are you going to be able to get so close to the field and to your favorite players? We’ve had great experiences with players being open to signing autographs and even seen them posing for pictures on occasion.

3.  Practice~ Sure, getting to the game early to watch batting practice is cool, but it pales in comparison to leaning against a chain-link fence, just yards away from a handful of Major-Leaguers shagging fly balls, or right behind the backstop while your favorite hitter takes a few swings.

4.  Cheap (& Good) Seats~ Even at the newest of Spring Training facilities, you can still get great, close-to-the-action seats for reasonable prices (which is more than I can say for every third spring’s other baseball event).

5.  Atmosphere~ There’s a certain electricity to Spring Training- I’m not sure if it’s due to everyone finally thawing out from a cold winter, the anticipation of Opening Day or possibly just that loud beer-guy with the big hat who sings about his Bud Lights that he’s selling.

6.  Lawn Seating~ If you’ve got little ones, you know how hard it is to get them to sit in a stadium seat or a lap. Enter the berm seating area, which most Spring Training fields offer. We’ll be sitting exclusively in the grass in Arizona this year, and we’ll be sure to let you know how Chiquita fares.

7.  Scouting Rites~ Be the among the first to scout out your team’s new roster, and because the big guys don’t always play very many innings, you’ll also get a chance to see a lot of the up-and-comers.

8.  Proximity & Variety~ With minimal driving, you can easily see say, five different games in five different ballparks in five days or less in either Florida or Arizona. At Spring Training You can get a taste of a variety of MLB teams and fans without leaving your one vacation destination.

9.  Location, Location, Location~ You can get to Spring training in a reasonable amount of time from almost anywhere in the country (either by car or plane) thanks to the two leagues being so spread out. Some of us are lucky enough to be able to drive it one day (ie, Southern California to Arizona), but last year, getting out of Colorado in March was well-worth a flight to Florida.

10.  Sheer Awesomeness~ I think every baseball fan should make it to Spring Training at least once. You feel almost like an insider, taking part in the behind-the-scenes aspect of Major League Baseball. And if you have a family of young baseball fans, this is a perfect family vacation that can easily be catered to a weekend trip for a couple of games or a week-long escape complete with multiple games, theme parks, golf and/or other excursions.