We switched gears from Canadian baseball played on fake grass to the just-opened Nationals Park in Washington D.C. for our sixth stop on this roadie. Having just opened its doors and field for play at the beginning of the 2008 season, this is one of the most beautiful parks we have seen on this trip. You might be thinking that it just seemed nice since we had just come from Toronto, but this place was great.
We ended up at this park on Tuesday, June 9, the same day as the MLB first-year player draft. So we were greeted with free Draft Party 2009 shirts as we walked in the gates. Leave it to the perennial cellar dwellers to have a party for the draft. We were right at the gate as they announced Stephen Strasburg as the first pick, by the Nationals of course.
Unfortunately, we caught our nation’s capital on a bad night. There were heavy thunderstorms rolling through from about 5 o’clock until around 8:30. First pitch was delayed from 7:05 to 8:50 so we had plenty of time to check out the features of this new park. There was a great kids area complete with hitting and pitching activities and a display for us nerds on the physics of baseball. They also had a SingStar game set up (basically video game karaoke) which we could have done without, but overall, if you have to be stuck in a rain delay, this is a good place for it.
We scored from half price tickets that night through a twitter friend’s tip (thanks @khudak11 and @Teddy26Nats ) so when the game finally got started we got to enjoy our front row seats on the field level. We ended up just on the foul side of the left field foul pole. We didn’t get any action down there as far as foul balls go, but we had to leave after the 5th inning so Chiquita could get her beauty sleep so we could have missed something in one of the later innings. Overall this ballpark is high on the list of fan-friendly venues. Although it is unfortunate that the team has played so poorly, as it would be nice to see this facility getting some good use, it’s nice to see America’s Pastime finally at home in such a nice ballpark in our nation’s capital.
Oh yeah, in addition to baseball, there are a few other things to see while you are in DC – some old buildings, museums, and tons of security guards and police officers.
Here’s our photos from this game…
Our visit to Comerica Park and the Tigers was followed by a whirlwind day of driving from Detroit to Toronto to Niagara Falls to Williamsport, PA. Technically we can say that we visited Toronto, but we were only there long enough to park the car, buy food and tickets, and watch the game between the Royals and Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre (Canadian spelling of course).
A typical baseball game at the Rogers Centre is played indoors. However, we attended a weekend day game and were treated to an open roof complete with a view of the CN Tower – Toronto’s version of the Space Needle. It is no shock that the word “blue” is in the team name, because just about everything inside the stadium except for the fake grass and dirt is blue. This color scheme mixed with the height of the stadium on all sides of the field makes for a pretty lifeless feel to the ballpark.
The stadium was built in 1989 but they must have redone some of the concourses since then because the field level concourse had some nice areas. We ended up buying food outside the ballpark but we pulled up a table inside the stadium right next to a quaint market style food court. Other highlights include a sports card vending machine and a playground of which Gigi could not get enough.
My life is a little closer to being complete after catching my first foul ball at this game. We were standing at the top of the field level section in Fastball Alley – Vin Scully’s name for the sections between home and first that get all the foul balls from hitters who can’t quite catch up to the heater. Gigi had run off towards the next section over and a ball bounced into the concourse just as I reached her so I snagged it. Not very dramatic but totally awesome anyways.
Next stop, our nation’s capital. Here are some snapshots from our trip to see the Jays, eh…
The Motor City. Motown. Rock City. Our fourth stop on our 13-game circuit was Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. We arrived at the stadium just as the gates opened and made our way to the Beer Hall where we had some dinner. We each had our first ever beer at a baseball game and as good as they were, we will probably never have another one in the interest of saving eight bucks a pop.
Comerica Park was one of the most family-friendly parks that we have seen so far. Chiquita even got a ball from one of the ushers – he told us that Curtis Granderson hit it out of the park in batting practice. For baseball purists, the game was a great one. Ervin Santan of the Angels and Justin Verlander of the Tigers kept the game scoreless for the first 8 innings. The Angels pulled it off 2-1 and then we were treated to a Friday night fireworks show – which were launched from center field.
From Detroit we headed to Toronto (more on this game coming up) and then we are off for a couple days in Washington DC as we begin a stretch of 8 days/games in a row starting on Tuesday.
Here are the pictures from Detroit…
So, unfortunately we had to cancel our game in St. Louis due to Chiquita’s virus. She was feeling much better after a day of rest in Chicago (see photo above), but we didn’t want to put her through a slightly grueling day of driving to St. Louis, watching a game, and then driving to our family’s place in Indiana. So, we’ll save the Cardinals for another trip. And considering we’re already seeing the Reds three other times on this trip, we aren’t exactly devastated to be missing them. Maybe when we see the Cards someday in the future, we can catch a better matchup!
Such is the life of the family travelers– flexibility is a must!
Unfortunately, Chiquita did not recover as quickly as we had hoped from being sick. After taking her to urgent care and getting a prescription in Chicago on Monday just before the game, we decided that only I (David) would go to the White Sox game (a little late) and check out US Cellular Field.
I took the Red Line (train) down to the south side of Chicago and arrived at the game in the top of the 5th – I was surprised that the game was so far along for only being an hour old. At that point the A’s were up 2-1, but I got to experience the exploding scoreboard in the bottom of the 5th when A.J. Pierzynski hit a solo home run. The brain child of Bill Veeck, the scoreboard looks like something straight from the Barnum and Bailey Circus but it is quite a sight when a Sox player goes deep. Jim Thome lit the scoreboard again in the bottom of the 8th with a three-run homer. This broke the 2-2 tie and prevented extra innings – which turned out to be a great development for the fans as a light rain started to fall as the last out of the game was made.
Monday is a great night to catch a White Sox game as most of the tickets are half price. I took in the last few innings as I made my way around the field level and watched the wave travel around the park at least 5 times. White Sox fans seem to be pretty passionate which was good and bad for the players. Alexei Ramirez was booed heavily for not getting a sacrifice bunt down, but Jim Thome was given a hero’s welcome as he circled the bases after his game-winning blast.
US Cellular did not have near the same feel as Wrigley Field, but it was a nice place to catch a ballgame. The next leg of our journey war canceled due to Chiquita’s infection. We were supposed to head on to St. Louis on Monday, but instead we decided head back to Indiana a little early to hang out with family for a few days. Luckily, we were planning on being in Indiana after going to St. Louis so we will only miss one game.
Here are a few pictures from my night on the south side…
Yesterday morning we walked around Lincoln Square, the neighborhood where we are staying, had lunch at the tasty Bad Dog Tavern, and even got a little taste of Chicago’s Mayfest as well (thanks random guy for giving us a few free food tickets!).
Chiquita took a good nap and then we headed out to Wrigley Field. We got to take the “L” train, which is Chicago’s mostly-elevated train system. Taking public transportation is something we really enjoy; unfortunately so does the rest of Chicago. We had to wait for a second train to Wrigley because the first was too jammed-full.
After a nice treat at the Starbucks across the street from the ballpark (free, thanks to our friend Melissa who used to work there!), and a quick gander at the Wrigleyville Fire Department (the “fighter-fighters,” according to Chiquita), we entered the hallowed grounds the Cubs call home.
This was the only game where we’ll get to see the Dodgers on our trip, and it was a good one for the L.A. fans! This was our third game at Wrigley Field, but did include some first for us– our first with Chiquita, our first Cubs night game, and our first time seeing the Dodgers play there.
Here’s the photos from our first day in Chicago…
Unfortunately, Chiquita came down with a bit of a tummy ache last night, so we’re taking it easy today and hoping we can still make it to at least part of the White Sox game if she’s feeling better later today. Travel can be hard on a little one but hopefully she’ll be up on her feet again and ready to go soon.
We’ve officially begun our road trip! Thursday night we flew in to Indianapolis, then drove to stay the night with family about 45 minutes away.
Chiquita got to play with her cousins the next morning and then we headed out on the road up to Milwaukee! The Brewers game was great. We really liked the extremely family-friendly ballpark, Miller Park, and were surprised to find a sell-out crowd and an exciting game.
The only downfall to this was we didn’t have tickets for this game yet. Thankfully, we were able to snag a couple of “standing-room only” tickets which worked out fine with the stroller. You’ll be able to see from the pictures how much fun stuff Miller Park has to offer. You’ll also notice that the guy from those funny “Miller High Life” commercials was there to throw out the first pitch and sign autographs which was pretty appropriate considering the ballpark’s namesake.
After the game we drove down to Chicago where we are staying a few days with a friend. Unfortunately, we had a bit of a sleeping incident that night; since Chiquita took a nice 2-hour “nap” on the drive, she was wide awake when we arrived in Chicago and decided to stay that way until 3 am. Eventually she gave in and we were able to sleep in and almost get a full night’s sleep.
Here’s the first batch of pictures…
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