Thursday, July 19, 2018

Tour 2018: Canal Park

All photos of Canal Park available on Flickr.

After settling our night's bar tab that I mostly remember, Sunday morning began with a stop at the old Forbes Field, which is a few miles east of downtown in the Oakland neighborhood (see PNC Park photos).  Today the majority of the former site has been engulfed by the Carnegie Mellon campus, which is perhaps most well-known for the 42-story neo-Gothic Cathedral of Learning tower.  All that remains of the former home of the Pirates is a portion of the outfield wall and the flag pole that was famously in the field of play due to the vastness of the outfield.  It's sad that this historic park is gone, but the fact that anything remains at all is more than you can say about a lot of old parks.  We played catch near the wall for a few minutes until we realized we were too out of shape to continue, and then headed out for the 2-hour drive to Akron.

Canal Park takes its name from the Erie Canal (which unfortunately is just out of sight behind the stadium) and it sits right in the middle of downtown Akron.  It was a much larger and denser downtown than I was expecting, sort of like a Dayton or a Rochester NY in terms of architecture and feel.  I couldn't help but laugh when I noticed that the block the ballpark sits on was renamed "King James Way" and my trusty navigation device refused to call it that.  Canal Park is only a couple of years younger that UPMC Park, but paradoxically, the newer "retro style" makes it feel more contemporary.  A very strong and dominant brick and stone façade fronts the main street and really serves to tie it into the downtown area well, and gives it a powerful street presence and proper sense of scale.  So many "retro style" ballparks are just retro for the sake of replicating a style, but in this case it actually serves a purpose.  The main entrance leads you onto the 1st base side on grade with the concourse, and the field is sunken below.  The concourse was a fairly standard concourse of a ballpark this size but was very busy.  The park wasn't super crowded because of how hot it was, so it wasn't a huge factor, but I could see with a full park that the concourse would get congested very quickly due to all of the extra standalone concession booths crammed in there.  Canal Park uses just about every square inch of space under the shade of the suite level to fill with anything and everything they can staff to make extra money.  It's not at all due to the lack of built-in concession stands either; in fact, there are a ton of those with a remarkable variety.  So if distractions and eating are your thing at a ballgame, you will not be disappointed here, but to me it just made an otherwise beautiful park seem chaotic and noisy.  Other than that, I really enjoyed the layout and look of the stadium.  There were a couple of bar areas in right field that provided refuge for many sweaty patrons - one was an outdoor tiki bar similar to the setup in Nashville, and the other an indoor bar that looked to be more private and nature.  It actually looked like an ordinary bar on the street that just happened to access the stadium, rather than vice versa, so probably a nice non-gameday option for the people of Akron to see the ballpark on their lunch.  We had seats behind home plate again, but spent a fair amount of time behind both base lines, and the views from all sides was surprisingly beautiful.  I think I appreciated the experience and uniqueness of Erie more, but in terms of classical beauty and function, Akron was very approachable and a nice place to watch a ballgame.

Erik and I had a dilemma in that we had both not eaten all day by the time we got to the game, but with the temperature in the mid-90s, also could not bear the thought of anything super hot or heavy.  I decided to go with a Jet's meatball sandwich and Erik a cheeseburger, both of which we knew would be room temperature at best under the stadium concession warming lamps.  With full bellies and large cold beverages, we settled in for a matchup between the newly renamed RubberDucks and Rumble Ponies.  The RubberDucks, formerly the Aeros, take their name from the local economy largely built on tires - Goodyear, Firestone, and Bridgestone were all founded in Akron - but don't ask me what the hell a Rumble Pony is.

The star of the show and clearly the reason most fans came out to the park was to see former Tim Tebow stuff his former quarterback frame into a Binghamton uniform and see if he was any better than Michael Jordan.  He started out as nothing more than a publicity stunt when he signed with the Mets last year - and he still is - but he has turned in a respectable season thus far that was good enough to make the Eastern League All-Star game last week.  He was hitting .276 with 6 homers and 36 RBI as of Sunday and went 1-4 as the DH out of the 7-hole.  It was crazy how many people were there wearing an assortment of Denver Bronco and minor league Tebow shirts.  The other recognizable name in the game was the starter for the RubberDucks, Triston McKenzie.  He is the Indians' top prospect and has been moving through the system fast at age 20.  He pitched into the 6th and gave up 3 runs while striking out 7, but his stuff was much better than his pitching line indicated.  There was also a dude named Logan Ice on the Ducks who for some reason did not use "Ice Ice Baby" as his walk-up song, and I am seeing now on that he is not just a cool name and is actually their 20th ranked prospect.  Tyler Krieger, another Indians top 30 prospect, was the offensive star of the day going 3-4 with a stolen base and an RBI.  We ended up having to leave in the 8th so Erik could catch his flight out of Cleveland, and it looks like we missed another 5 runs after we left.  Of course the one time in our entire lives we left a game early and that would happen, but we still saw an impressive 49 innings in less than 72 hours so I can't really complain.  Akron held on to win the see-saw affair 9-5 with the help of their 4 runs in the 8th.

After the game, it was a quick 45-minute jaunt to the Cleveland airport and then another 6 1/2 hours of driving for me back to Milwaukee.  I got home about 11pm CT, but thankfully I'm an adult with a reasonable amount of vacation now so I was able to take off Monday as well.  That's about it on the new ballpark front for me this year, but rest assured that Erik and I are already talking about next year's trip!

park rankings and statistics:
aesthetics - 8
views from park - 7
view to field - 6
surrounding area - 7 (downtown Akron, for whatever that's worth)
food variety - 10nachos - 8
beer - 7 ($4.50 for 12oz domestic, 20 & 32 oz also offered)
vendor price – 8 (bonus points for souvenir refillable Duck Mug)
ticket price – 7 ($13 behind home plate)
atmosphere - 7 (Tebow Time!)
walk to park – 6
parking price/proximity – 9 (free street parking on weekends or $5 lots)
concourses - 4
team shop - 4 (points deducted for no rubber ducks!)

best food – Nice 2 Meat U Grill
most unique stadium feature – tiki bar in right field, randomly angled wall in center
best jumbotron feature – Webster v. Rubberta go-kart race
best between-inning feature – Erik and I refusing to participate in the multi-inning Lip Sync Battle

field dimensions - 331/400/337
starters – Harol Gonzalez (BNG) v. Triston McKenzie (AKR)
opponent – Binghamton Rumble Ponies
time of game – 2:57
attendance – 3,770
score – 9-5 W
Brewers score that day – 7-6 L

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Tour 2018: Return to PNC Park

All photos of Fallingwater, Pittsburgh, and PNC Park available on Flickr.

Tour Staple #3: tour an architectural landmark.  We hit the road at 7:30 AM for the 3-hour drive to Fallingwater, which is arguably Frank Lloyd Wright's most famous house.  The house is located in the small town of Mill Run, which is about an hour south of Pittsburgh near the border of Maryland.  We always need that one unexpected surprise or memory every trip that we make inside jokes about for years, and I think that moment occurred on the drive down.  My Garmin navigation system decided to take me on a 5-mile shortcut down a one-lane gravel road through the woods and it's a miracle we made it through.  If it had rained recently, or if this were 11 years ago in Old Yeller, we might have been stranded and/or eaten by bears.  Alas, we made it, and I live to tell you that Fallingwater is well worth it for anybody passing through the area.  The setting is beyond anything words or photographs can describe.  When we booked this tour, we assumed that we would have plenty of time to make it to Pittsburgh for the 4:05 first pitch, perhaps even with extra time to see the two other FLW houses in the area.  But about a month before the trip, a Pirates-Brewers rainout was rescheduled for 12:35 this same day as part of a doubleheader.  Unfortunately we had already purchased Fallingwater tickets by then.  So, we took advantage of all the paved roads and no posted speed limit signs in rural Pennsylvania that we could to make to to the park by the 6th inning for our 2nd consecutive bonus doubleheader.

We parked on the south side of the Roberto Clemente bridge and walked over to the park, as any first time visitor should do.  It's the best way to experience the park and the city, and is by far the best walk to the park of any of the 30 stadiums.  At some point in the last 11 years, chaining a bike lock to the bridge became a thing.  Apparently this is a popular thing that local couples do to symbolize their commitment but I don't know much else about it.  At the foot of the bridge on the stadium side is the appropriately placed Roberto Clemente statue, arguably the greatest Pirate of all time.  We entered into this gate and by the time we acquired the obligatory IC Light silos, we didn't get to see too much of the 1st game.  The Brewers went on to lose what would be their 3rd game of a 5-game sweep to the hands of the Pirates.  Following the loss on Sunday, it would become the first 5-game sweep by Pittsburgh in over a quarter-century.

After Game 1, we ended up meeting Erik's friend Lyndsay and her husband who were coincidentally passing through town.  The husband Tim is from Pittsburgh and a die-hard Pirates fan, and we actually stayed with them at multiple stops back on the original tour.  Chance meetings like this are one of the few reasons I could never completely disengage from social media.  We exchanged pleasantries and then did a lap around the stadium.  Not much has changed from our last visit in 2007, but to be honest, nothing really needed to.  The things I did notice which I did not remember from '07 were the bar areas.  There is a nice open bar in the right field corner that takes great advantage of what would otherwise be dead space.  It doesn't have much of a view of the field but has a gorgeous view of the Allegheny river behind it.  There is also a bar area above the left field bleachers which I believe previously existed as a private club area.  It now has some added standing-room terraces and is open to all fans - and most importantly, serves alcohol until last pitch, despite what the signs say.  Unfortunately because of how the stadium faces, you pretty much bake in this area if you are outside or anywhere near the glass, but it is still a nice feature nonetheless.  These two minor additions only further cemented PNC Park as my favorite major league stadium.  PNC was on the forefront things like a social concourse, emphasis on local concessions, variety of seating options, and a smaller and more intimate seating bowl, and those things still hold up today to all of the other parks trying to follow its lead.  Even the architectural intricacies like the emphasis on over-built steel to represent the Steel City, and everything of course painted Pittsburgh black, add little touches to the stadium that you may not notice unless you're looking for them, but give the park a certain comfort level.  And of course, having one of the best views in all of baseball doesn't hurt either.  Even if the park falls into disrepair over the coming decades, that view alone makes a trip to the park worth every penny.

When we weren't trying to keep cool in the concourse and bar areas on the 90+ degree day, our seats were actually pretty darn close to where we sat 11 years ago - behind the 3rd base dugout, about 2/3 of the way up.  All of the social areas are cool, but this is where any first time visitor has to sit.  It offers a breathtaking distraction of the Pittsburgh skyline across the river between pitches.  Or in the case of how the Brewers played, I was happy to be distracted during the games as well.  As I inferred earlier, the Brewers lost Game 2 as well, this one in even more embarrassing fashion as the Brewers left 12 men on base and didn't score until the 9th inning, which broke a 12-inning scoreless streak on the day.  Game 1 was a 2-1 loss and a waste of a solid performance by Chase Anderson and the bullpen.  After allowing back-to-back solo homeruns by Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco in the first, Chase settled down to not allow another run over the next 5+ innings.  Rookie and top pitching prospect Corbin Burnes was impressive again as well, pitching 2 scoreless innings with 4 strikeouts.  But alas, as has been the case all season, the Brewers failed to score runs when they needed them the most.  The lone run came off the bat of all-star Christian Yelich in the 5th.  The aforementioned Marte and Polanco again went back-to-back in the 6-2 Game 2 win.  I'd have to consult with StatCast but I'm sure it has to be a rare feat for two players to go back-to-back twice in the same day.  The Brewers out-hit the Pirates in both games but again just could not manage any clutch hits.  To add insult to injury (literally), Jonathan Villar went to the DL with a thumb injury after getting thrown out at 3rd base in another poor baserunning decision.  Brent Suter looked impressive in his return from the DL, allowing only a run on 2 hits over 5.  Aaron Wilkerson threw up all over himself in the 9th to seal the victory for the Bucs.  If you told me at the All-Star break that the Brewers would be 55-43 and leading the Wild Card, I would have happily taken that, but it was certainly sad to watch them limp into the break like they did.

After the game, we found the Bill Mazeroski statue that we failed to locate on our last visit, which is tucked along the riverwalk at the back gate for some reason.  It was another long day for us, but being the last night of the trip we forced ourselves to go out for a bit in the evening - and I'm sure glad we did.  We stayed at the Hotel Monaco downtown, and it's not an over-exaggeration to say it was nicer than all other hotels we have ever stayed in combined.  This hotel had both a cool gastropub with a unique cocktail menu, and a rooftop beer garden, and we stopped at both.  To be able to stay in the same building and enjoy two bars without having to walk around after a tiring day was clutch.  Having the $50 credit from the staff for a room snafu was a nice added bonus.  I certainly learned from our stay here that complaining about even the littlest thing at a fancy hotel will get you free stuff.  We went to bed around midnight both excited and sad for our final day of the trip.

park rankings and statistics
(see original post for 7/2/07):

aesthetics - 10
views from park - 10
view to field - 9
surrounding area - 8
food variety - 8
nachos - 8
beer - 8 (now featuring 24oz IC light cans)
vendor price – 7
ticket price – decreases to 9 (now featuring "loaded tickets" usable for concessions)
atmosphere - increases to 6 (Pirates draw slightly better now)
walk to park – 8
parking price/proximity – 7 ($10 across the river)
concourses - 8
team shop - 6

best food – Chickie & Pete's Crab Fries (fries w/ Old Bay)
most unique stadium feature – the view
best jumbotron feature – as much as it pains me to say..."Raise the Jolly Roger" after a win
best between-inning feature – Pierogi Race

field dimensions - 325/399/320
starters – Chase Anderson (MIL) v. Ivan Nova (PIT); Brent Suter v. Clay Holmes
opponent – Milwaukee Brewers
time of game – 3:03; 2:58
attendance – 24,474
score – 2-1 W; 6-2 W

Brewers score that day – 2-1 L; 6-2 L

Tour 2018: UPMC Park

All photos of Erie and UPMC Park available on Flickr.

It was about a 2-hour drive from Cleveland to downtown Erie and we arrived around 4pm. We stayed at the Avalon Hotel just a couple blocks from the ballpark, a slight upgrade from our Cleveland accommodations but that's still not saying much.  We had found out earlier that morning that the SeaWolves were actually playing a doubleheader, so after grabbing a quick road beer, we hustled to the ballpark for the 4:35pm Game 1 first pitch.

UPMC Park (formerly Jerry Uht Park) was built in 1995 to house the relocated Erie SeaWolves, who started as a NY-Penn League franchise in Ontario in the 1980s.  The moniker "SeaWolves" in in reference to their original parent team - the Pirates - and, much like the Utah Jazz, the name just stuck even after Detroit took over the affiliation.  The ballpark is part of Louis J. Tullio Plaza, which also includes the Erie Insurance Arena right next door.  And when I say next door, I literally mean next door - one of the walls of the arena actually forms the left field wall and has a painted yellow stripe on it indicating the boundary line.  It was this and several other unique quirks that made this park stand out to me.  Not only is the park wedged down the left field line, but behind the entrance and out past right field are residential streets, so the architect definitely had a fun time fitting this stadium into its site.  It features a very brutalist exposed concrete framework, which certainly dates the park to a bygone ballpark era.  The 2nd floor "party deck" along right field had pretty cool semi-private picnic areas, not fully enclosed like a suite but enough to distinguish your seating area.  My favorite feature was how small the lower section of seats was.  The 100-level sections of the park is only 6 rows deep, which keeps the capacity down and makes the park feel much more intimate, and as an added result, brings the main concourse super close to the field of play.  This is something I've not seen at any other ballpark other than maybe Five County in Zebulon.  Rather than looking down to the field from the concourse, you almost feel like you're in the field of play sometimes when walking around the perimeter.  Whether this was a conscious design decision or just a result of site constraints, it really added to my experience and opinion of the ballpark, even despite it showing its age now in its 24th season.  It's this age and grittiness that gives UPMC Park a little bit of character and helps it stand out among the glut of modern ballparks.  A beat-up, poorly attended ballpark in a beat-up city is certainly not going to win any fan favorite awards in the Eastern League, but I've said time and time again that when you go to as many ballparks as me, you appreciate anything different and memorable.

Beyond the architecture, the concessions offerings were fair of a ballpark this size.  They had a couple of local beers but mostly large domestic varieties.  Yet another tour staple of ours is to enjoy a margarita on Day 2 of our trips (I've probably said that before - I repeat myself a lot, deal with it), so I located the jumbo frozen yard o' marg stand and they were quite refreshing on a hot evening.  We shared philly cheese steak fries for dinner, which was probably my favorite ballpark offering of the entire weekend.  Our seats were literally front row center behind home plate among season ticket holders and scouts alike, and we settled in for what ended up being 18 innings of baseball.

The SeaWolves were playing the Altoona Curve on this night, a nearby AA affiliate of the Pirates.  Game 1 was a back-and-forth extra innings affair won by Erie in 11 innings.  The game was 4-3 Curve heading into the 7th inning (minor league doubleheaders are only 7 innings each), until the SeaWolves tied it in the bottom half.  Altoona once again took the lead in the 8th, only to be tied up again.  Altoona took the lead for the 4th time in the 11th and Yeudy Garcia gave up 2 runs in the bottom half to shoulder the loss.  Sergio Alcantara went 4-5 with 2 RBI in the win.  Game 2 was pretty uneventful until Altoona put up a 5-spot in the 5th and held on for the 5-1 victory.  1B Will Craig hit an absolute bomb 3-run shot that landed on the roof of the arena.  Despite being a AA game, there weren't too many top prospects or big names I recognized for either team.  Daz Cameron was the obvious one for Erie, who is the son of former big-leaguer and former Brewer Mike Cameron.  The SeaWolves also for some reason have former Blue Jay and Met catcher Josh Thole on their team in his age 31 season.  The only name I recognized on the Curve was Cole Tucker, who was a first round pick of the Pirates a few years ago.

After over 7 hours at the ballpark, and with a 6AM wake-up call awaiting us for another busy day on Saturday, we were again boring adults and hit the sack immediately after the doubleheader.

park rankings and statistics :
aesthetics - 5 (unique but not attractive...just like Erie)
views from park - 7 (Erie Insurance Arena)
view to field - 10 (concourse super close to field)
surrounding area - 4 (downtown Erie)
food variety - 5
nachos - 9
beer - 5
vendor price – 7
ticket price – 8
atmosphere - 5
walk to park – 8
parking price/proximity – 7 ($5 across the street...we parked at hotel for free)
concourses - 9 (very close to field)
team shop - 7

best food – Philly cheese steak fries
most unique stadium feature – arena forming left field wall
best jumbotron feature – guy who refused to participate in Kiss Cam
best between-inning feature – child chases random guy in hot dog costume

field dimensions - 316/400/328
starters – Cam Vieaux (ALT) v. A.J. Ladwig (ERI); Scooter Hightower v. Alfred Gutierrez
opponent – Altoona Curve
time of game – 3:33; 2:18
attendance – 4,541
score – 8-7 W; 5-1 L
Brewers score that day – 7-3 L

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Tour 2018: Progressive Field Renovation

All photos of Cleveland and Progressive Field available on Flickr.

Tour 2018 came at yet another point of transition in our lives.  It was my first trip away from my 6-month old daughter, and Erik's final trip as a resident of Minnesota.  We always really value our time together and don't take these trips for granted amidst all the major changes.  So it was only fitting that this year we returned to our favorite ballpark of the original tour: PNC Park.  However, our first stop was Cleveland on Thursday to see the newly-renovated Progressive Field.  I left Milwaukee shortly after dawn on Thursday (since being up early no longer phases me) and picked up Erik at the Cleveland airport around 2pm.  We checked into a hotel in the Lakewood neighborhood that, even by our incredibly low standards, was quite shady.  We got there at 2:40 and were told we could not check in until 3:00 without a penalty, so we got to sit in the lobby and fully immerse ourselves in the old textures and odors the hotel had to offer.  Getting into our room required a staff tutorial on how to jiggle the handle, and our room had lovely features such as holes in the drywall and a bathroom that had more accessibility code issues than I could count.  We discussed our affinity for cheap lodging over a couple flights of beer at the Noble Beast Brewery before heading to the 7 o'clock game vs the Yankees.

As I eluded to earlier, Progressive Field has undergone an extensive renovation over the last few years, in particular the outfield area.  We had seats in the 3rd deck of the right field corner at our last visit in 2007, and today those seats don't even exist.  The upper deck has been cut in half, and the top rows of seats replaced with "terraces" for lack of a better term - stepped berms with a small amount of seating offering a unique view and plenty of space for advertising and retired numbers.  It was unclear to me whether or not these are seats for the general public or if they are group areas.  The seating directly below the terraces was significantly reduced as well to open up the 2nd level concourse.  Directly behind the pole is a new multi-level bar area called "The Corner," akin to the "Chop House" in Atlanta.  Just like at SunTrust Park, it offers a large indoor bar with sliding glass doors open to the field and terraced seating below, and also a smaller second level bar with open tables above that.  This all replaces the open bar that seems to have been eliminated from centerfield.  Instead of the bar and an awkward gate that caused bad congestion at the outfield gate, this is now a nice open standing area with view to the relocated bullpens, in a stepped fashion similar to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.  Opening up the centerfield concourse also gives more prominence to the Indians' version of Monument Park called "Heritage Plaza," featuring statues and plaques of famous players, including Larry Doby, Jim Thome, Satchel Paige, and most notably, Frank Robinson, the first African-American manager in MLB history for the 1975 Tribe.

Our seats were in the club level on the 2nd level, which looks to have existed previously but we never had access to on our last visit.  It’s sort of a hybrid of the Johnson Controls and club level areas of Miller Park.  It has the privacy and the views of a private area, but the traditional seating of a club level, offering the best of both worlds.  The Progressive Field version features an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord with a carving station, a pasta station, and standard ballpark fare.  The bar area has glass facing the field, which opens up and steps down to the seating.  It’s not a great view from the indoor portion, but you still feel like you’re part of the stadium, and it allows you to be as interactive with the game or with other fans as you want to be.  This is definitely the ticketing option I would recommend to anyone.  Beyond this club level and the new outfield, the remaining portions of the stadium seemed to be mostly the same, aside from more concessions options and a general dressing-up.  We spent about half the game in our ticketed seats and then walked around the seating bowl, eventually ending up at “The Corner.”  Cleveland has some very passionate fans but, due to crappy spring weather and general franchise futility over the years, do not draw particularly well most of the year.  Reducing a very large capacity stadium to make room for social areas and interactive fan experiences was a no-brainer for the Indians.

They had no problems filling the stadium with the Yankees in town.  We were fortunate enough to see an all-star pitching matchup of team aces - Corey Kluber v. Luis Severino.  I actually saw Kluber pitch against the Crew earlier this year and he got shelled, including a homerun to pitcher Brent Suter.  I seem to be his bad luck charm as he gave up another 6 runs on this night, although he did last into the 8th and struck out 9.  Severino did not fare much better, giving up 4 over 5.  It may have been naïve to expect a pitching duel between these two teams.  The game featured 5 homeruns, including two by the biggest head in the league - Brett Gardner.  The game was tied at 4 through 7 innings, and took the lead on an Aaron Hicks double in the 8th.  Gardner added insurance with his 2nd homer in the 9th against the Indian's beleaguered bullpen.  The Cuban Missile Aroldis Chapman pitched an uneventful 9th to lock down his 25th save.

After a long day it was straight to bed for both of us.  Our Friday morning and afternoon salvaged my opinion of the "Mistake by the Lake," as Cleveland has been infamously dubbed.  We started the day with a tour staple - going for a swim.  We found a nice and quiet Lake Erie beach and were both pleasantly surprised with both the cleanliness and the warmth of the water.  I was pretty embarrassed that a body of water that was once so badly polluted that it caught on fire was nicer than Bradford Beach in Milwaukee.  We then toured Great Lakes Brewery and imbibed in probably one too many samples.  The brewery is in the Ohio City neighborhood, which 30 years ago was nothing but dilapidated buildings and factories, and today is known as the "Walking Hangover" because of all the breweries that have injected life back into the area.  I wish we could have seen all of them, but alas, there was more ball awaiting us ahead.  We set off about 2pm for Erie, Pennsylvania.

park rankings and statistics 

(see previous post from 7/1/07):
aesthetics - 10
views from park - 7
view to field - 7
surrounding area - 8
food variety - 7
nachos - 7
beer - 9
vendor price – decreases to 8
ticket price – 9 (very reasonable for MLB)
atmosphere - 7
walk to park – 6
parking price/proximity – improves to 7 ($10 garage very reasonable for MLB)
concourses - 8
team shop - 8

best food – anything with “Cleveland world-famous mustard”

most unique stadium feature – “The Corner” bar
best jumbotron feature – nothing of note
best between-inning feature – Hot Dog race

field dimensions - 325/405/325

starters – Corey Kluber (CLE) v. Luis Severino (NYY)
opponent – New York Yankees
time of game – 3:07
attendance – 31,267
score – 7-4 L
Brewers score that day – 6-3 L


Brewers 55-43, -2.5, +1.0 WC (3 v. Dodgers, 3 v. Nationals, 4 @ Giants)
Reds 43-53, -13.5, -10.0 WC (3 v. Pirates, 3 v. Cardinals, 4 v. Phillies)
Twins 44-50, -7.5, -12.5 WC (3 @ Royals, 3 @ Blue Jays, 4 @ Red Sox)


Erik - 10 (+12 worked)
Peter - 18

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Best Baseball Movies of All Time

I know that I'm coming into the game late, but I've been really into podcasts lately.  Not surprisingly, all of the ones I follow regularly are either about baseball or drinking.  I was listening to an episode of the ESPN Baseball Tonight podcast a few weeks ago and there was a heated debate among the hosts and guests about what was the greatest baseball movie of all time.  It made me daydream all day at work how I would rank my movies, and it also made me realize that after over a decade of writing this blog, that this has somehow not been a topic yet.  And so, without further adieu, I bring you my Top 10 Baseball Movies of All Time (and be sure to check back in next week because I'm sure I will change this list).

Disclaimer: I am ashamed to admit that I have never seen Field of Dreams, Bad News Bears, Eight Men Out, Bang the Drum Slowly, or The Pride of the Yankees in their entirety.  Just in case you are wondering why those did not make the cut.  I am also excluding documentaries, so no Ken Burns.

10.  Little Big League
Probably one that doesn't make a lot of people's lists, but I can't help but have a soft spot for a movie shot in the old Metrodome.

9.  Bull Durham
I'm putting this on my list simply for name recognition, but to be honest I've only seen it a couple of times so I don't fully appreciate it yet as probably many others do.  A very popular movie among ballplayers for its accuracy in depicting the minor leagues.

8.  Moneyball
Who doesn't want to root for the A's and Billy Beane?

7.  42
I thought Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey was somewhat of a caricature, but it was enjoyable.

6.  Mr. Baseball
Easily one of the most underrated baseball movies.

5.  Major League 2
The plot is weak, but this makes the list just for Bob Uecker's performance alone.  He's even better in this one than the original.

4.  61*
Mickey Mantle has always fascinated me and is one of my favorite "old" players.

3.  The Natural
An excellent book as well.  Somehow over-the-top but believable at the same time.

2.  A League of Their Own
My top two movies are the ones that I will always watch whenever they are on TV, even if it's just 10 minutes.  Tom Hanks as Jimmy Dugan is probably my favorite baseball movie character of all time.

1.  Major League
Not even close.  I know this movie almost by heart and yet I still laugh every time.  The most quotable baseball movie of all time.

Just missed the cut:  The Sandlot
It was really hard to leave this off of the list, but in the end I've just never loved this movie as much as other people seem to.

Honorable Mention:  The Bronx is Burning
This is technically a mini-series based on a book that chronicles 1977 New York, so I did not include it in my movie list, but definitely worth a watch.

UPDATE:  Erik and I leave on our annual ball trip this week!  Stay tuned for reviews of our adventure.

Brewers 54-36, +1.5 (3 @ Marlins, 5 @ Pirates)
Reds 39-51, -15.0 (3 @ Indians, 3 @ Cardinals)
Twins 39-48, -9.5 (3 v. Royals, 4 v. Rays)

Erik - 4 (+11 worked)
Peter - 12