Baseball Games · Baseball Memories · The Majors

2010

After all the baseball excitement and games in 2009, 2010 was a bit of a let-down you might say. But, we sort of had bigger fish to fry this year. In early April, we brought home the latest player to be added to our team, our son Brody.

Before Brody’s arrival, we did make it out to a few games in Arizona for Spring training, although, sadly, we lost those photos in The Great Hard Drive Crash of 2010.

After Spring Training, we took a bit of break, getting in most of our baseball via the couch, thanks to the MLB Extra Innings package. David also started picking up some games with STATS, Inc as a reporter, taking score from home, and even a couple of times from the press box at Petco Park.

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We did, however, make it to two Dodgers/Padres games, one in San Diego, and one up at Dodger Stadium. At Petco, my parents let us use their season tickets (they share a package with friends) which are great seats, and then in LA we sat in the bleachers with my brother’s family.

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We’re definitely looking forward to more baseball in 2011, starting with our annual Spring Training trip in less than two months!

Baseball Games · Baseball Memories · The Majors

Wrapping up 2009

Uh, oops.

I guess this blog sort of neglected to participate in the last couple of baseball seasons.

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Since we just bought our 2011 Spring Training Tickets, I figured I better do a quick recap of the last couple of years. This year, maybe we’ll be a little more up-to-date on this ol’ blog.

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Since our amazing road trip ended, we still had a few more baseball excursions before the year was up. We took a tour of Petco Park, went to a few games in the summer of 2009 and celebrated David’s birthday with an NLDS game at Dodger Stadium.

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Baseball Games · The Majors

Dodgers vs. Angels

Here are some photos from a game we went to last year on June 20th, 2009. We love going to Angel Stadium (Gigi and I particularly like the Rally Monkey), especially when we get to see the Dodgers play there. The “Freeway Series” is always a fun rivalry. Angel Stadium will always be special to our family since our little Gigi went to her first baseball game there almost three years ago.

We used to live really close to Angel Stadium and would even ride our bikes there to catch a game. Here’s a parking tip… if you get there early enough there are a handful of free parking spots on Orangewood just east of the 57 freeway. Just walk under the freeway, over the bridge and there’s a gate where you can walk in to the stadium.

Here’s the photos from that game… a little reminiscing to get us thinking about the excitement of a new season.
http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

Baseball Games · Baseball Randomness · Family Fun · The Majors

She’s Learning Her Colors

Yesterday my dad took Chiquita to the grocery store. Apparently, he asked her which “car cart” she wanted to drive/ride in. Her choices were red and blue. Now, let me point out that this is the girl that almost always responds with a confident “yellow!” when asked what color something is, regardless of what it really is. But not this time! without hesitation, she pointed to the blue cart and said, “Dodger Blue!” Atta, girl.

Now if only the Dodgers had a mascot she could love like she loves the Philly Phanatic (he’s one of the only green things she can correctly identify). At least one member of our household was glad to see the World Series played in Philly– she loves the Phanatic almost as much as she loves Manny (good thing for us, he’ll be back next year)!

This is how she looked every time she saw the Phanatic when we were in Philly:
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Speaking of Dodger Blue, we got to go to a playoff game this year to root on the Blue. Unfortunately, we all know how the season ended but the game we went to, NLDS Game 2, was pretty darn exciting! Going to a playoff game was all David wanted for his birthday (well, aside from attending a World Series game, but alas, that was not an option this year). Click over to view the slide show if you are in a reader or your email inbox).
http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

We’ll be thinking blue all off-season and are already looking forward to Spring Training ’10!

Ballpark Reviews · Baseball Games · Baseball Road Trippin' · The Majors

Baseball Road Trip: Game 13 in Cincinnati

The famous saying goes,”All good things must come to an end.”  Unfortunately, this was true for our trip of a lifetime.  Our final stop on this tour of America’s great ballparks brought us to Cincinnati and the Great American Ballpark.  This home of the Reds is situated right up against the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati.

We made the trek across Ohio from Cleveland and arrived in downtown Cincinnati with plenty of time to spare.  We even had time to make the quick jaunt across the river and add Kentucky to our list of states visited on this trip.  While we didn’t have time to see much in our five-minute drive in the Bluegrass State, I am sure that there are tons of great things to do and see there (except for Major League Baseball, of course).

To take full advantage of the river view, we bought seats in the upper deck right behind home plate.  Because the demand for Reds tickets is not exactly off the charts, we were able to score some handicap seats so we didn’t have to check Chiquita’s stroller.  These seats not only afforded us a great view of the field, but they looked out over the river.  Had it been sunny, the view would have been more spectacular.

As our luck would have it, we found ourselves in a rain delay after the first inning.  However, the rain delay experience at the Great American Ballpark was unlike any other we had seen. We got to experience some of the hardest, densest rain we had ever seen.  Fortunately, we made it into the covered concourse area in time to avoid the downpour and lightning.  Paul Brown Stadium, where the Bengals attempt to field an NFL team in between jail terms, sits about a half mile west of the ballpark.  On a sunny day it can easily be seen from the upper concourse.  Not on this day.  The silhouette disappeared as the rain fell in massive amounts.

After huddling in the upper concourse for a while, we made our way down to the field level and were very pleased to find a large wall full of flat screen TVs playing all the other games from around the league that night.  Due to the rain delay, the area was packed with soaked fans, but the sight of seven simultaneous baseball games brought smiles to our faces.  After at least an hour delay, the game against the Braves eventually resumed.  Since we had a two-hour drive ahead of use, we had to call it quits in the fifth inning.

Leaving that last stadium was a bittersweet moment.  We had begun to live the dream of seeing America’s pastime in all corners of the country.  The teams, players, fans, conversations, bratwursts, rivalries, subway rides, stadiums, and baseball had taken us on a great journey.  We have aspirations to visit the remaining ballparks in the next couple years (I think there are ten left).  If the opportunity presents itself for this type of trip, there should be no hesitation.  You never know what you will see in America’s ballparks.

Enjoy the slideshow of our great trip’s last game.

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

Ballpark Reviews · Baseball Games · Baseball Road Trippin' · Stadium Tour Guide · The Majors

Baseball Road Trip: Game 12 in Cleveland

Our second-to-last stop on this grand baseball trip was at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.  We had purchased our tickets ahead of time from the Indians’ website because it was Major League Monday complete with a Rick Vaughn bobblehead giveaway.  As it turns out, our good planning was unnecessary as there were plenty of good seats available at the box office on the night of the game.  (We are used to the promotion nights at Dodger Stadium where riots break out when there are stadium giveaways.)

We were treated to a pretty good interleague game between the Indians and the visiting Milwaukee Brewers, but our baseball experience began with a tour of Progressive Field.  We walked over to the stadium from our hotel (thank you, Priceline for booking us at the Residence Inn one block from the stadium) and enjoyed a walking tour of what used to be one of the busiest ballparks in the Majors.  From 1995 to 2001, the Indians sold out 455 consecutive games, the Major League record at the time.  They have commemorated this streak by hanging this number with their retired jersey numbers in right field.  Boston’s Fenway faithful have since surpassed this mark, but it’s a nice touch for a city which saw great baseball success in the late 1990s.

Quicken Loans  Arena – the home of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers – sits right next to Progressive Field, but I was very disappointed that we didn’t run into to Lebron James while we were out and about.  As a consolation, we were greeted by a 100-foot by 150-foot (approximately) poster of King James on the side of one of the surrounding buildings.  He was, of course, blowing some chalk in the air before a game.  If the Cavs had made the Finals, game 5 of would have taken place while we were there.

Nonetheless, we were treated to a great baseball atmosphere on Major League Monday.  We received our Rick Vaughn bobbleheads (Chiquita even got one) and had plenty of time to check out the park before the game.  We are pretty convinced that it was no coincidence that the Brewers were in town on Major League Monday.  Bob Uecker is a broadcaster for the Brewers and he threw out the first pitch.  Throughout the game, we were treated to clips from the movie as well as behind the scenes trivia from the classic baseball flick.

Once again we found ourselves fraternizing with fellow baseball fans.  We ditched our assigned seats and eventually found some handicap seating behind home plate on the upper deck.  We ended up sitting near a man and his teenage daughter who had just had surgery on a labrum in her shoulder.  We would not have thought twice about this except that Nicole’s dad had just had a similar surgery.  I felt bad for her as she tried to eat her awesome stadium dinner with her good arm.  At one point she kicked over her soda and I was very sad because it was Mountain Dew.

Anyways, the baseball game ended up being very entertaining.  The Brewers won the slugfest by the score of 14-12 and, as you might image, the game was not short on home runs.  Prince Fielder provided the most excitement with a line drive grand slam that put the Brewers ahead.  Our final treat was a fireworks show after the game.

Our experience in Cleveland was fantastic – here are the pictures from the tour…
http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

And the game…
http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

Ballpark Reviews · Baseball Games · Baseball Road Trippin' · The Majors

Baseball Road Trip: Game 11 in Pittsburgh

Our stop in Pittsburgh was short and sweet.  We arrived just before first pitch and headed out of town after the game ended.  Such is life for us hard-core road trippers, but we were able to (mostly) enjoy PNC Park and the game between the Detroit Tigers and the host Pirates.

This stop got off to a strange start when we had to walk by the gay rights rally taking place in downtown Pittsburgh.  Then as we made our way to the box office we were greeted with a funky smell that had Nicole and I both wondering if someone lost their lunch while waiting to buy tickets.  (Insert your own joke about the Pirates poor performance here – mine sounds something like this: the fans aren’t supposed to get sick until after they see the Pirates play).

On a good note, we chose a game that included $5 off each of our tickets so we ended up with field level seats for merely $15 each.  On top of that, Chiquita received a Pirates ice cream bowl as part of the Kid’s Day promotion.  I think this is a plan to get kids thinking positively about the Pirates from a young age.  Jam your kids full of ice cream and when they are done, the Pirates logo will be waiting for them at the bottom of the bowl.

We indulged in some of Willie Stargell’s famous French fries and again found ourselves standing with a random family as we ate our lunch.  Chiquita had a great time playing with a stroller and hanging on the guard rail with a few other kids from Pittsburgh.  I attempted to buy Chiquita some cheap food from the kid’s concession stand but the line was at least three innings long so I quickly bailed and she got some of our lunch.

Unfortunately for us out-of-towners, it was Turn Back the Clock day at PNC Park.  It was bad enough that the Pirates and Tigers players didn’t have names on their jerseys, but add an old-fashioned scoreboard and you have a lot of confused fans.  Even some of the native Pittsburghites/Pittsburghians/Pittsburghlars were bummed on the lack of names.  To add to that old-fashioned feeling, all of the banner boards were turned off and the PA announcer only announced the upcoming batter so there was a strange simplicity to the game that gave us a strange feeling that we were missing something.  I guess that’s what corporate sponsors and intrusive advertising have done to sports.  While this may have normally been refreshing, it was unfortunate that our one game in Pittsburgh was on a day when no one was identifiable and there was a completely different ambiance than (we think) there normally would be.

The setting for a ballpark does not get much better than that of PNC Park.  Just beyond right field is the Allegheny River.  Beyond that is downtown Pittsburgh, which can be seen from anywhere in the ballpark with the best view coming from the upper deck behind home plate.  Although it opened in 2001, PNC Park has an intimate feel to it.  There are only two levels of seats and the press box is above the upper deck behind home plate.  This is a great design and makes for a great fan experience.

Overall our brief experience in Pittsburgh was pleasant and we hope to return there someday and get the full modern Pittsburgh baseball experience.

Here are the photos from this stop…
http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649