Wednesday, 22 May 2013
Breaking News: After 3 years and many hours of baseball later, Buzz is back on the road, embarking on a Midwest stadium tour starting June 3rd. Biggie is sidelined with hamstring issues (aka work), but we've brought in a pinch-hitter, Thomas Harvey. And this time, the A's are involved. Stayed tuned for updates!
Friday, 28 May 2010
Many of you have probably heard that Douglas and I decided to split up. It was an amicable break, and deep down I still love Buzz.
But before the shines rub off our timeless jaunt, let me say a few more words about our final stops on tour.
PIttsburgh had treated us well. We'd read newspapers in swanky lobbies, admired expensive cheap art at the Andy Warhol Museum, and suffered delicious indigestion from fry-topped sandwiches. We were ready to move on.
As far as we could tell, Cleveland is brown. Brown factories, brown rivers, brown sandstone, brown food. Cleveland Browns. From the stadium, you can take in the city's attractions. The Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, Progressive Field, The House LeBron Built, and a charming eatery called The Quaker Steak & Lube.
Before we saw the smokestacks and khaki, however, Buzz and I made a pitstop to visit the house from the holiday cult hit, "A Christmas Story." As kids, we had watched Ralphie and Randy every December at 12 Sotelo. Maybe even 321 Ramona. Our knowledge of the film compares to that of Ghostbusters and Pee Wee's Big Adventure, and so, when we saw on TripAdvisor that the house tour was ranked the #2 attraction in Cleveland, we pulled over.
Unbelievable call. The tour guide was a charming nerd who bumbled her way through funny anecdotes and where-are-they-nows. Buzz and I walked around, took pictures by the leg lamp, sat in the very chair where Ralphie's Old Man would read his paper and crouched beneath the sink under which Randy cowered. It was great.
Cleveland, even now I can remember, oh the Cuyahouga River, goes smokin' through my dreams.
Friday, 21 May 2010
Biggie and I had high hopes for PNC Park, and for the most part, it didn't disappoint. The facility is brand-sparkling new, we had a stunning view of the bridges across the river to downtown Pittsburgh, it was free Pirate t-shirt giveaway day, and we got seats near home plate for under 30 bucks a pop! Of course, the last two facts are probably tell-tale signs that attendance is suffering as a result of the Pirates playing poorly, and our expectations were also met in this department.
Geoff Mack took a bus from Pitt to meet Pete and me at the stadium. Geoff and I spent some quality time ragging on Biggie for keeping Milwaukee's closer Trevor Hoffman on his fantasy baseball team in spite of Hoffman's performing so atrociously that he was not called to close out the Pirates when a save situation arose at the end of the game. Biggie was not amused.
As far as the game itself went, the results were not surprising. Paul Maholm (pronounced Ma-Ha-Lom, kind of like "Thank you" in Hawaiian) started for the Bucs and yielded his typical mediocre line of 7 IP, 4ER, 3BB, 4K en route to an eventual 4-3 loss. Here Biggie is pictured doing his best impression of Paul.
Though the game was close, you just had that feeling the whole time that the Pirates were not going to stage any late inning heroics, especially not if Bobby Crosby was there to kill the team mojo.
Whoever is still a believer in the aforementioned Crosby, former A's rookie of the year and currently a second-string second baseman for the scurvy-ridden, scuffling Bucs, you should really not be. The guy still features his classic un-clutch antics. Including hitting into a come-backer with a runner on second, forcing him into a run-down, which then Bobby himself got into by winding up on second base and getting caught in a pickle on the next play. So, instead of nobody out and a runner in scoring position, somehow, there were two outs and nobody in scoring position, all thanks to Mr. Crosby.
The Pirate Parrot, on the other hand, did his best to bolster the moral of the crew. He is now one of our favorite mascots, though a distant second to the awesomeness that is the Philly Phanatic.
Geoff, Pete, and I finished the night off by heading to some bars closer to the Ravens' Heinz Stadium, watching UFC on the TVs with a little too much enthusiasm for our own good, and calling it a night. Great to hang out with the cuz.
All in all, we really liked the PNC experience, but the Pirates themselves were such a lackluster team that it dampened the mood of the park itself, therefore rating second to Camden.
Final Score: Brewers 4, Pirates 3
Pete and I left the Nationals park with 21 miles of gas left in our tank, which seemed like a great idea at the time because honestly we were just trying to get the hell out of dodge. D.C. was cool, but crowded, especially after the game, and we had some driving to do to cut time out of next day's drive to Pittsburgh. The tricky part was we had to drive past Great Falls National Park on the way out, meaning there were no gas stations this side of the Potomac. Did we cut it close? Ah, well, you could say we were within 1 mile(s) of running the Mustang clear out of petrol, but luckily, we took a shot in the dark on "Democracy Way" 20 miles outside of town, and were still alive to tell the tale.
Fueled by the recent adrenaline of a near "out of gas" experience, we sped out into a misty Western Maryland and finally crashed at a "Sleep In" vaguely near Gettysburg, and also few miles from the state correctional facility. Suffice it to say, we were a little creeped out. The lady working front desk at 1 am had no sense of humor when we asked her how many inmates were staying at the motel that night.
Next morning we had our second Waffle House experience, hopped back on the road and wound our way back into Pennsylvania, straddling the Maryland-West Virginia border nearly the whole time, but never quite seeing the road sign necessary to count WV an official state in the trip. The country was sunny and green, so we put the top down and sped through some hilly back roads (cue Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill").
Actually, we drove so fast our peanut bag flew out of the convertible and kindly deposited what remained in the back seat.
We stopped at Falling Water, the Frank Lloyd Wright house built in 1934 over a pair of waterfalls, deep in the forest. Every one else on our tour was as old as the house, but we had a fun time exploring. The house is a masterpiece.
By the afternoon we cruised into a warm and trafficy downtown Pittsburgh, dropped our stuff at the William Penn Hotel and went out for the Pimanti Bros. sandwiches: huge and meaty with coleslaw and fries packed in--just another example of how we were willing to let our digestive systems suffer for the sake of must-eat classics.
Thursday, 20 May 2010
One mascot has never won the "Presidential Race" at Nationals Park. Teddy Roosevelt. Maybe it's unwillingness to concede. His bully pulpit attitude. Or his is enormous head, which, along with the three remaining noggins of the Mount Rushmore four, make up the absolute most redeeming qualities of DC's baseball home. Which isn't to say there aren't other redeeming qualities of this stadium, just that these four jokers - and their race around center field - are the tits.
Lincoln even came up to me and held still until we got the shot right.
Redeeming quality number 5 was the pair of 5 dollar tickets Buzz and I were able to acquire for the evening, which came with nice views of the Potomac, great peanuts and AAA baseball. Jason Bay, member of my fantasy squad and colossal 2010 bust, did exactly zero, starting pitcher Livan Hernandez drove in half the runs, and the surprisingly surprising Nationals pulled away with a nice little 5-3 victory.
Two cool things to see at a baseball game we got a chance to witness: an inside-the-park home run and a triple play. Watching a guy run as fast as he can, take three left turns and get back to the same spot in 12 seconds is entertaining. Especially when you're watching the Nationals-Mets.
Overall, we'll say this: DC was good to us. The stadium let us in for less than the peanuts. And who gets to meet Abraham Lincoln these days?
Nationals 5, Mets 3
Looking away from the action at Nationals Park. Not bad.
Apparently 'The Wire' is shot in Baltimore.
Get it, shot?
Conspicuously absent from the show, however, is the wonderfully quaint, delightfully family-friendly Baltimore Aquarium. There we found a rainforest, an exhibition on jellyfish, and a dolphin show that might have been better captured on a mesh hat and velvet painting collection. We liked it. Enough for Buzz to say, exiting the facility, "You know what, dude? Let's get the hell out of here."
And so we did. Baltimore was cool, but getting on our nerves. We needed a dose of motorcade and White House, monuments and malls, power brokers and homeless dudes telling us they liked our rims. Shit, we liked our rims too. But we endangered them anyway for the sake of gut-busting, heartburn-enducing chili dogs from a place called Ben's Chili Bowl in southeastern DC. We made a quick pit stop, enjoyed the sign reading "Obama and Bill Cosby eat for free, the rest of y'all suckas gotta pay," and took off for the aforementioned dignitary's house. You can get as close as the well-armed security guard 10 miles from the front lawn, then it's best to back away slowly with your instamatic cameras raised.
We took some pictures, dug on some monuments, popped the top and headed to the Nationals Park for a nail biter between two of the worst teams in the NL.
This trip rules.
Tuesday, 18 May 2010
How many times in your life do you score front row tickets day-of, and still have free seats next to you for your beer? Answer: pretty much every game at Camden Yards apparently. Even when Zack Greinke is pitching. Buzz and I scored home run derby chairs, ate enough funnel cake to kill a horse and admired our hotel suite from the field, watching Kevin Millwood carry a perfect game into the fifth in a Orioles-Royals nail biter.
To be honest, perfect games are boring. Especially when it's the Royals-Orioles. You're already kinda expecting everyone to suck, so the 6 K's Millwood had by the time Alberto Callaspo broke the magic wasn't much to get fired up about. Luckily, right about the point when Buzz and I were loading up our beer tray, the Baltimore Oriole decided to show up in our section and eat Doug's head.
Here's what I'll say: Camden Yards might be the best park in America, with or without the fans. The tickets are fair, every seat is prime, and the Oriole is just a good looking mascot. If only they had a Cal Ripkin to make themselves relevant, this would be a team worth carrying about. As it stands, Buzz and I were just pumped to have watched 8 innings from front row seats, and the last two from our suite.
Orioles 4, Royals 3 (F/10)