Saturday, June 30, 2007

Day 7: Comerica Park

All photos of Comerica Park available for viewing on Flickr.

We wrapped up Week 1 of the 10+ week trip in Detroit, Michigan to watch the Tigers battle the Twins. This game was of particular interest for a few reasons: (1) It was the first new major league stadium I had seen on the trip; (2) Erik lives in Minnesota and works for the Twins; and (3) it was the FOX Saturday Baseball game of the week. Comerica Park is in an "up and coming" area of Detroit known as "Fox Town." Ford Field is nearby and a few great streets of bars, but as Erik and I found out on the way back to the freeway, if you make a wrong turn, you soon hit the heart of the ghetto. Anyways, the park was my favorite aesthetically thus far. The best feature by far are all the fiercely-realistic tiger statues perched all over the park in "attack mode," as well as the tiger heads clasping onto baseballs mounted all around the exterior like gargoyle heads. Another job well done by HOK Sport. The ballpark design achieves a very intimate feel, which reminded me a lot of Camden Yards - it feels very "closed in," and although Erik and I sat in the back row of the bleachers, we felt very close to the action. The team shop was riduculously large, and the statues dedicated to retired Tiger players' numbers were pretty cool as well.

We only raised about $20 and the Tigers lost...not much else to say. There were five homeruns however, which has to be close to a record in what is typically known as a pitcher's park. Erik was happy the Twins won and it was a very action-packed game, despite the outcome for the home team. Kicking back watching ball on a gorgoeous Saturday afternoon in a capacity crowd taking back giant Labatt's cans - it really doesn't get much better than that. Rookie Kevin Slowey got the win for the Twinkies, and Jason Bartlett had 4 hits in the game.

After the game, Erik and I drove about a half hour north to Macomb to stay with my aunt and uncle. They have an awesome house in which we each got our own offense Erik, but thank God! We had very gracious hosts who provided an awesome meal and hours of good conversation with my cousins and their spouses. A special thanks to Mike and Carol for their hospitality! I already can't wait to wake up to the smell of pancakes tomorrow before we make the 3-hr drive to Cleveland.
park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 10 (Tiger statues are awesome)
views from park - 5 (decent views from behind home plate of downtown)
view to field - 8 (very intimate feel; felt close even from last row of bleachers)
surrounding area - 6 (relatively close to downtown; block around park is nice)
food variety - 3
nachos - 10
beer - 8 (giant cans of Labatts for $8)
vendor price - 8
ticket price - 4 ($15 for standing room)
atmosphere - 8 (game was on FOX saturday baseball, good crowd)
walk to park - 3
parking price/proximity - 5 (very close but expensive)
concourses - 8 (very close to field)
team shop - 10 (outstanding, very large, multiple spots in park)

best food - nachos
most unique stadium feature - tiger statues
best jumbotron feature - we were sitting underneath it...
best between-inning feature - Dunkin' Donuts race

field dimensions - 335/420/330
starters - Kevin Slowey (MIN) v. Andrew Miller (DET)
opponent - Minnesota Twins
time of game - 3:03
attendance - 41500
score - 8-5 L
Brewers score that day - 13-4 W

Day 6: Great American Ballpark

All photos of GABP available on Flickr.

Day six of the trip brought us back to the place I called home for the past three years, Cincinnati. I attended graduate school there and this game was very special to me because I got to meet up with a lot of my friends and see them all again, many for the last time. Erik and I made about $45 fundraising, and we met a dozen of my other friends at the gate for the 7:10 start.

Perhaps I am biased, but the GAB has always been one of my favorite parks. It has tons of bleacher seating, great views to and out from the field of the Ohio River and downtown, great food, and a pretty slick jumbotron. If there was stuff happening near/between the ballpark and the nearby Bengals stadium, it would be a really slick area of the city as well. Baseball has been the lifeblood of this city for nearly 150 years, and despite the Reds' dismal record, over 35000 fans turned out for Mr. Redlegs Moustache Night and Fireworks Night at the ballpark. There were not many empty red chairs to be found. Although they didn't sell Homer Bailey t-shirts in the team shop, I nonetheless had a great time with Erik and my friends from school.

The game was our fourth home team loss of the trip. Bronson Arroyo pitched into the 8th, but as usual, the Reds bullpen blew the game. The redeeeming factor was the outstanding fireworks display over the river after the game. It was some of the finest choreographed fireworks I've ever seen and I'm glad I stayed for them. Afterwards, we all went the Hofsbrauhaus across the river and had one last liter together before we all parted our separate ways. This certainly won't be my last game viewed at Great American Ballpark, but this one will always hold special meaning to me - and plus that, we got our picture taken with the Reds cheerleaders, which was nice.

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 7
views from park - 8 (view to Ohio River and downtown)
view to field - 8 (not too many bad seats)
surrounding area - 5 (nothing downtown but lots over in Kentucky)
food variety - 3
nachos - 3
beer - 4 (mostly just Budweiser)
vendor price - 2
ticket price - 3 ($22 for upper deck!)
atmosphere - 5
walk to park - 3
parking price/proximity - 8 (very fair for MLB stadium)

concourses - 9 (nice views on upper deck)
team shop - 6 (huge store, very pretty, but not a lot of variety in player shirts)

best food - goetta burger
most unique stadium feature - Power Stacks
best jumbotron feature - Mr. Redlegs moustaches on players for "moustache night"
best between-inning feature - Mr. Red Race

field dimensions - 328/400/325
starters - Scott Thompson (STL) v. Bronson Arroyo (CIN)
opponent - St. Louis Cardinals
time of game - 2:40
attendance - 35500
score - 4-2 L
Brewers score that day - 6-5 L

Friday, June 29, 2007

Day 5: Bosse Field

Photos of Bosse Field available on Flickr.

The fifth day of our trek took us to southwestern Indiana to watch an Evansville Otters game at historic Bosse Field. The reason we went out of our way to go back to the central time zone was to see this historic park, which is the third oldest continually used professional ballpark, behind only Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. It seats about 8,000 fans and was chosen as the site to film "A League of Their Own" in the 1990s because of its old-timey feel - in fact, "Racine Belles" signs still hang from the stadium, and girls even walk around in old AAGPBL uniforms. It has worn down wooden chairs and a TON of foul territory, which increases the distance a fan is from the field, but these are only two minor drawbacks. All the seats are covered and it is a treat to watch a game here. It was nice to feel like we were part of history and to note all of the minor and independent league teams that have played there for the past 90 years.

Erik and I were Louisvilled-out, so to speak, and decided to leave early yesterday, putting us in Evansville at around 1pm, 6 hours before first pitch. After picking up our free seats, we took this opportunity to enjoy the weather at an adjacent park and take a nap and subsequently watch "The Sandlot" on Erik's computer. We then picked up a 6-pack of Tall Boys and enjoyed our first tailgate of the trip. After spending nearly 5 hours in the Otters parking lot, we finally got into fundraising, and found a great spot, from which we raised $80 (Apparently, the local Habitat office was only 2 blocks away). There was strong but brief thunderstorm about 2 hours before the game which made the rest of the evening a very pleasant one, weather-wise.

The game itself was kind of uneventful. Both starting pitchers went into the 8th, and the Gateway Grizzlies broke the shutout in the 8th to take a 2-1 lead, and the lead stuck. Otters starting pitcher Matt Restivo ended up striking out 11 in 7.1 IP. Independent league baseball is kind of like watching minor league ball, except the players aren't that good. Nobody on the Otters was hitting above .265, and it's kind of like a glorified softball league, since most of the players all have real jobs. Nonetheless, it is a fun experience. We both got our Evansville souvenirs and enjoyed the game - and it didn't hurt that it was Thirsty Thursday and they served RC Cola! We immdiately left for Cincinnati after the game so that I could see Mary and so we could of course have a place to stay for free. Today we are meeting up with about a dozen of my friends from school at the game tonight to watch the Reds take on the Cards.

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 6 (very old like Wrigley, but much more intimate and well-kept)
views from park - 1
view to field - 7 (close, but lots of foul ground)
surrounding area - 2 (not a whole lot to do in Evansville)
food variety - 7 (very good items at the grill outside, plus RC Cola!)
nachos - n/a
beer - 7 (beer was $1, but it was Bud products)
vendor price - 8
ticket price - 10 (free)
atmosphere - 8 (would be a 10 if it were full and the game was good)
walk to park - 4
parking price/proximity - 8 (free, but you have to get there early to park close)
concourses - 6 (very unique set-up)
team shop - 7

best food - tri-tip steak sandwich
most unique stadium feature - wood seats, entire seating area under canopy
best jumbotron feature - food dancing between innings (surprisingly they had a jumbotron)
best between-inning feature - Ohio Valley Colon & Rectal Surgery Group's "Pick the Polyp" game

field dimensions - 315/415/315
starters - Nathan Roush (GAT) v. Matt Restivo (EVN)
opponent - Gateway Grizzlies
time of game - 2:35
attendance - 5500
score - 2-1 L
Brewers score that day - off

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Day 4: Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum

All photos of Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum available on Flickr.

Today we spent the day seeing what downtown Louisville had to offer. The day of course started with the purpose of this whole 2-day excursion to Kentucky: the Louisville Slugger bat factory. Erik and I got there around noon and toured the factory and got to see where and how bats were made, everything from souvenir bats to major league bats. There are over 1000 combinations of make, model, color, weight, and balance to choose from, and each player has a specific bat made just for him. It was fun to walk through the factory watching the old guys who have clearly worked there all their lives engraving the bats and running the lathes. It's not done by hand like it used to be, and it only takes about 30 seconds to wittle a bat from a log to a bat today. The best two facts on the tour were when the tour guide said that twice a week a turkey farmer stops by the factory and hauls away the waste - over 37,000 pounds of sawdust - and when the tour guide showed us the back wall where there were over 18,000 metal plates with past and present players' signatures that are used to engrave their bats! At the end of the tour, we got a free mini-bat, a little "cog" sawed off the end of a Derek Jeter bat, and a free T-shirt for taking a survey. Erik and I then hit up the museum portion of the building, the batting cages, the store, and Erik purchased a personalized bat with his signature on it for $70. Thanks to mom for getting me a pink Bill Hall bat for graduation, because I for sure would have dished out the cash for a bat myself.

This took a few hours and we decided to hit up a little sammich shop next door that turned out to be delicious. I believe I stated on the blog yesterday that the best ballpark food was the nachos, but we soon found out from this restaurant that the Louisville specialty was fried bologna, which was also served at the ballpark last night. It was a little mom-and-pop restaurant named after the lady's beagle called Boomer's. It was very personal and the food was excellent. We then spent the rest of the day walking around downtown and riding the 25-cent trolley to a place called "4th Street Live," which is a portion of 4th street that is covered and pedestrian-only, lined with bars. We of course stopped here for a drink. Our day concluded with a quick drive through the University of Louisville and subsequently past Churchill Downs.

Tomorrow it is off to Evansville, Indiana to catch the independent-league Otters, where we have free seats awaiting us. It is close enough away that it should be our first opportunity for us to put a dent in my four bags of charcoal in the trunk and tailgate.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Day 3: Louisville Slugger Field

All photos of Louisville Slugger Field available on Flickr.

Today we left Evanston (just north of Chicago) around 10 AM for Louisville, Kentucky, where we will be for two days. It finally felt like we actually started the tour today, since Peter and myself have both been to Illinois hundreds of times. It was about a 5 hour drive and we were greeted by Jason Abraham, a marketing rep for the Louisville Bats. He was a very awesome guy and the Bats were very helpful - they gave us a little table behind home plate in the concourse to set up shop, free tickets, and free parking in the players' lot! We raised over $60, which is more than we raised in two days in Chicago in front of a significantly smaller crowd, bringing our Habitat total up to around $150. Our goal when we started was about $50/stadium, and we are right on pace.

The stadium was very beautiful and was one of the better minor league stadiums we have visited. It opened in 2000 and seats around 13000. The park featured a very picturesque view of some Ohio River bridges and an awesome picnic area in right-center field. The team shop was excellent and the vendors served pretty typical food - dogs, burgers, fries, etc. The specialty that we discovered was definitely the Philly Cheese Steak nachos, which were delicious.

The game was not as eventful as the previous night's Cubs game, but I'm not sure that any game could compare to that one. The Bats lost 6-0, putting our home team record at 1-2 on the trip this far. It was a particularly fun game for Peter to watch since the Bats are the AAA affiliate of the Reds and there were many players on the Bats that he saw play at the GAB in weeks past, including Ryan Freel, Gary Majewski, and Dewayne Wise. It was a very laid back experience and continued to reaffirm Peter and myself's love of minor league ball. I am looking forward to proudly rocking my Bats helmet tomorrow at the Louisville Slugger Museum + Factory!

After the game, we hit up a bar downtown with Peter's friends Mary and Laura who drove down from Cincinnati for the game, and then drove about 15 minutes east to stay with Erik's cousin Jessica - a special thanks to her for letting us crash for a couple nights! We are looking forward to our first opportunity to tie one on on the trip tomorrow night, as we only have to drive a short while to Evansville on Thursday.

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 8
views from park - 7 (nice view of bridges, but freeway blocks the river)
view to field - 10
surrounding area - 9 (downtown)
food variety - 5
nachos - 9 (these might surpass wrigley...Philly Cheese steak nachos!)
beer - 4 (only Bud and Miller)
vendor price - 6 (average, but bonus points for Dollar Night)
ticket price - 10 (we got them free so I actually don't know what they cost)
atmosphere - 5
walk to park - 5 (walk is nicer if you park downtown)
parking price/proximity - 10
concourses - 6 (two sets of concourses)
team shop - 9

best food - philly cheese steak nachos
most unique stadium feature - entry sequence
best jumbotron feature - "Happy Anniversary from your dog"
best between-inning feature - Buddy Bat races a child

field dimensions - 325/405/330
starters - Tom Shearn (LOU) v. Blaine Boyer (RCH)
opponent - Richmond Braves
time of game - 2:31
attendance - 8,734
score - 6-0 L
Brewers score that day - 11-5 W

Day 2: Wrigley Field

All photos of Chicago and Wrigley Field available on Flickr.

Day 2 of the trip was another gorgeous sunny day in Chicago. This is one of only 7 or 8 cities we get to spend more than 18 hours in, so we decided to take full advantage of the day by visiting Millenium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Sears Tower (we wanted to go to the top, but in lieu of the price and the wait time, we decided tbo just have margaritas at a 2nd floor bar). Day 2 was also significantly more successful on the fundraising front, as we raised nearly $40 in Wrigleyville, as opposed to close to nothing at Chicago's southside counterpart. So remember that when visiting Chicago - the north side is where it's at!

The place we stayed on our first night away from home was a mere two blocks from the stadium, so it was great. Neither of us had ever been to a night game at Wrigley, but we soon found out that the experience was no different. After meeting up with Erik's dad and uncle at the main gate, we had little time before first pitch, so we sat down immediately. Our seats were halfway between third base and the left field wall, about three rows from the top, but due to the intimacy of the ballpark, we really weren't all that far away. The atmosphere at Wrigley was like Warner Park in Madison, except on a much larger scale. Also, these fans seemed to care significantly more about ball than drinking, but that's not say there weren't a lot of drunk kids around us. Although I personally find Chicago fans to be incredibly hostile and inconsiderate, the stadium was a treat and it was nice to root for the home team on this lone occasion.

If I wasn't a Brewers fan and didn't hate the Cubs so much, I would have raided the team shops here. Lots of nice stuff in the stadium and on every corner. Of course, Wrigley doesn't have all the bells and whistles of today's modern parks - no jumbotron, not even an escelator - but it is an experience like no other. Old parks just have that nostalgic feeling that makes one reminisce about a time when baseball truly was America's pasttime. A large contributing factor to the mystique of Wrigley as well is that it is in a residential neighborhood. There is no traffic after the game because everybody walks there or takes the train, and it's like Mardi Gras in the streets and the bars before and after every home game. The big Wrigley tradition I was looking forward to was the 7th inning stretch - the guest singer of "take me out to the ballgame" was the Blackhawks head coach and his 1st round draft pick.

As for the game, another excellent one! Fontenot, Lee, and Theriot went a combined 11-12, and Mark DeRosa had 3 RBI. It looked to be in the Cubs' hands with an 8-3 lead, but the pen surrendered 6 runs in the top of the 9th (don't ever leave a game early)! The highlight of this inning was not the comeback, however - it was actually an incident involving a fan charging the mound in disgust and getting tackled on the mound by the batboy about 3 feet shy of decking the Cubs pitcher Bob Howry. The Cubs somehow recovered from this and plated two in their half of the 9th on a walk-off single by Alfonso Soriano to take the game 10-9. There were over 30 combined hits, a far cry from yesterday's pitching duel on the south side.

Another great day -- so long Illinois, and another thanks to John for this time letting us stay at his aunt's house in Evanston. Tomorrow it is a 5-hour drive to Louisville, where we will spend a couple of days taking in a AAA game and visiting the Slugger Factory.

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 3 (very old and run-down)
views from park - 7 (residential community and bleachers on rooftops)
view to field - 7 (close, but poles in the way)
surrounding area - 10 (Wrigleyville)
food variety - 4
nachos - 8 (some of the best so far, but we are very critical...get the BBQ nachos!)
beer - 8 (they have Old Style)
vendor price - 8 (surprisingly quite reasonable)
ticket price - 2
atmosphere - 9
walk to park - 9
parking price/proximity - 5 (this one is tough to rank...parking is close if you want it but its over $20. Most people walk or take the train, which I recommend)
concourses - 3
team shop - 10 (the ones outside the stadium are outstanding)

best food - Chicago dogs
most unique stadium feature - the bleachers, hand-operated scoreboard, ivy on walls
best jumbotron feature - n/a
best between-inning feature - "Take me out the ballgame" is always sung by celebrity guest

field dimensions - 353/400/350
starters - Jason Marquis (ChC) v. Jeff Francis (COL)
opponent - Colorado Rockies
time of game - 3:35
attendance - 40,500
score - 10-9 W
Brewers score that day - 6-1 W (44-32)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Day 1: US Cellular Field

Update: All of our US Cellular Field photos are available on Flickr.

And we're off! We departed Milwaukee at 9 AM this morning and arrived at US Cellular Field on Chicago's South Side at about 11. We set up our fundraising table across the street from the park but raised only $10. Tomorrow we have a more active strategy and hope that the Northsiders will greatly surpass this total at Wrigley Field.

The seats we bought way back in February turned out to be pretty good. We were 1/3 of the way u in the upper deck and about 1/2 way down the first baseline. The food was excellent. We both got a kosher hot dog smothered in onions, ketchup, and mustard and a Miller Lite. It was rather expensive though - $4.50 for a hot dog. This was later redeemed when we purchased some 16 oz. Old Styles in the 4th for 6 bucks. Only Erik had been to this park, and overall we found it to be alright. You can only walk around on the lower concourse if you have a ticket there, which is pretty horrible. And also Erik was not able to obtain a batting helmet because they don't sell them there! What the hell is that?

As for the game, it turned out to be a pitchers' duel, as the Sox battled the Cubs in the final interleague series of the season. This was supposed to originally be a Sunday Night game but was changed to a 105 start, and although this was disappointing, it ended up being a pretty decent day. It was scoreless through 5 and the Cubs ended up winning 3-0 behind a Soriano homerun and a strong pitching performance by Sean Marshall. It was the first sweep of the Sox by the Cubs at US Cellular Field in team history. The most exciting play of the game by far was a play late in the game that involved three runners being in a rundown simultaneously, and if you didn't see it on Sportscenter, you really missed out. Two of the runners were clearly tagged out but ended up being called safe and Ozzie Guillen ended up getting ejected.

After the game, we finally made our way to the lower concourse and walked around a bit more, and then we walked around IIT campus for awhile nearby, while concluding the evening with a leisurely drive up to Wrigleyville to watch Sunday Night ball at a tavern across the street from Wrigley Field. A special thanks to John and Megan for letting us stay at their house conveniently located two blocks from Wrigley, at which we will be attending a game tomorrow against the Rockies with Erik's dad and uncle.

park stats and rankings (1=worst/most $, 10=best/least $):
aesthetics - 5
views from park - 5 (you can see downtown, but only from the ramp behind the stadium)
view to field
- 7 (few blind spots)
surrounding area - 6 (IIT campus and L nearby)
food variety - 5
nachos - 3 (cheese was of low quantity and chips were stale!)
beer - 8 (they have Old Style)
vendor price - 6 (food kind of expensive, beer was reasonable)
ticket price - 2 ($150 for two tickets, seats normally run around 40-50)
atmosphere - 8 (White Sox/Cubs rivalry is quite special...and angry...)
walk to park - 5 (bonus points for proximity to freeway and L, but it wasn't very scenic)
parking price/proximity - 10 (we parked for free on the street - get there early!)concourses - 5 (nice but you can't see the lower deck unless you have a ticket)
team shop - 4 (lots of throwback apparel, but no non-protective helmets)

best food - Chicago-style dog
most unique stadium feature - pinwheel fireworks stacks reminiscent of Old Comiskey
best jumbotron feature - McDonalds food race
best between-inning feature - XM satellite radio Dance-off
field dimensions - 330/400/335

starters - Jose Contreras (ChW) v. Sean Marshall (ChC)
opponent - Chicago Cubs
time of game - 3:05
attendance - 39500
score - 3-0 L
Brewers score that day - 4-3 L (43-32)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Pre-Trip Stop #2 - Green Bay Bullfrogs

Update: All of our Green Bay photos are now available of Flickr.

After watching games in 5 different Northwoods League stadiums, I was very interested to see what kind of operation an expansion team would run. I was very impressed by the Green Bay Bullfrogs. Last night, Peter and I attended the 12th home game in Bullfrogs history. We arrived early because it was PBR retro night and we both wanted to be one of the first 100 fans 21 & over and get a free hat. We were about the 30th people to enter the park and got our hats. We also recieved a Verizon Wireless Bullfrogs backpack and a free program upon entering the stadium. We had ample time to roam the park and enjoy the fine cuisine. I had a delicious cheeseburger while Peter enjoyed a brat and we both had a $2.50 tallboy of PBR. We then took our General Admission seats about 30 feet behind home plate. We were there so early that the Bullfrogs staff asked us to participate in one of the between innings games. In the middle of the second inning I answered the Quiznos Question of the Day correctly and won a free small sandwich.

The game was very exciting. The Mallards sent Michael Hutts to the mound for the second consecutive night and he was staked to a 4 run lead in the second inning. The Bullfrogs then rallied and took the lead on a 3 run homer in the 4th inning. The Mallards made it interesting with one run in the sixth but the Bullfrogs put the game away, scoring two more in the eighth and working a 1-2-3 ninth for their 12th straight win.

The Bullfrogs drew 1,013 fans last night and a good time was had by all. They had many of the Northwoods League between innings standards such as the Dizzy Bat race and Kids Dress Like a Bullfrog Base Race. Joannes Stadium still needs a little work but is very nice park for a team that was born nine months ago. The Bullfrogs have already added a fan deck in right field with all-you-can-eat food and drink. There are also box seats down each of the baselines that looked very comfortable. The box seats in the grandstand do need to be replaced though. the backs are merely glued onto bleaches and you loose 3-4 inches of seating. Replace these and replace the chainlink fence with a net and the stadium will be beautiful. Overall, the future looks very bright for baseball in Green Bay and I look forward to returning next season.

After all, I've got a Quiznos coupon to redeam.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Pre-Trip Stop #1: Warner Park

All photos of Warner Park available on Flickr.

After two long years, the tour finally kicks off this Sunday, but Erik and I decided that we just couldn't wait any more. Seeing as we are both huge fans of the Northwoods League and that we won't get to see any games upon our return since the season ends in mid-August, Erik and I have scheduled a little two-stop "Pre-Trip" to Madison and Green Bay to watch the Mallards and new expansion team the Bullfrogs duke it out.
Wednesday we arrived in Madison for game #2 of the day -- we watched the Brewers sweep the Giants by a 7-5 score at Miller Park early in the afternoon. After meeting up with a few of my friends that live there, we made our way around the ballpark. I have only been to one Northwoods League stadium, but Erik assured me that this was by far the best one. Typical Mallards crowds exceed well over 5,000, which is more than most A-ball teams draw in a week.

Describing Warner Park would be like trying to describe a beautiful sunset -- you really just have to experience it. You can't capture it in film or words adequately. I lived in Madison for 6 months last year, and have been a lifelong baseball fan, and the Mallards is by far the most fun I've ever had at a ballgame. There is tons of entertainment, the teams are fun to watch because they're all college kids, and the atmosphere is unparalleled. Throw in the fact that the food is outstanding and the team locker rooms directly flank the concourses, and that they serve Pabst, and you've got yourself a pretty sweet deal. As with all independent league/minor league parks, prices were very reasonable, and there was tons of free stuff being handed out at all times. Erik and I returned home with a foam hand, 4 souvenir cups, a program, and a baseball for a total of about $35, which includes ticket prices, parking, and the beer that came in the cups. And yes, you read the blog title was "Simpsons Night" at the Duck Pond...there was Simpsons trivia all night, Simpsons music on the organ, many Homer soundbytes, and the Mallards even wore Springfield Isotopes jerseys. As Mr. Burns would say, "Excellent."
Tomorrow it is off to Green Bay for some more pre-trip college summer league action, in which the Green Bay Bullfrogs ironically take on the Madison Mallards.

park stats and rankings (1=worst/most $, 10=best/least $):
aesthetics - 6
views from park - 2
view to field
- 10
surrounding area - 2
food variety - 7
nachos - 5 (the cheese was good, but the chips were chip'ns...)
beer - 8
vendor price - 9
ticket price - 8
atmosphere - 10
walk to park - 3
parking price/proximity - 10concourses - 5
team shop - 6
best food - beer-battered fries, cheese curds
most unique stadium feature - the "Duck Blind" picnic area
best jumbotron feature - n/a
best between-inning feature - Maynard Mallard flies in on a zipcord with the first pitch ball
field dimensions - 320/380/310

starters - Michael Hutts (MAD) v. Andre Benjamin (BC)
opponent - Battle Creek Bombers
time of game - 2:17
attendance - 5500
score - 3-2 W
Brewers score that day - 7-5 W (41-31)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Getaway Day Grab Bag

Let's see what's in the news this week.

After being scratched from what was supposed to be his season debut on Monday at US Cellular Field due to groin problems, Roger Clemens will now make his debut in an interleague showdown against the Pirates at Yankee Stadium on Saturday. Hopefully this is on FOX Saturday baseball so I can watch that.

Ben Sheets was named the pitcher of the month, and Prince Fielder was named the player of the month for May, and Trevor Hoffman notched his 500th career save this week this past week.

Of course, the big news story was the Cubs dugout fiasco a few days ago. Michael Barrett and Carlos Zambrano, known league-wide for being major dicks, finally met in a showdown in the Cubs' dugout. Big Z didn't like how Mike was calling the game and was not pleased with the passed ball he had just allowed, and Barrett was less than thrilled with Zambrano's pitching performance that night. The two had a shoving match in the dugout, were separated, and then Barrett then continued the match in the clubhouse, where Michael subsequently beat the crap out of Zambrano, giving him two black eyes. Both players were fined. Also in an unrelated incident, Lou Pinella was handed his 60th career heave-ho and was handed a 4-game suspension by the MLB (see toteboard) for an on-field tirade. The team still somehow managed to take 2 of 3 at their home-away-from-home, Miller Park, this week.

A few things happening in my neck of the woods. Touted pitching prospect Homer Bailey will FINALLY make his major league debut on Friday against the "Mistakes by the Lake," the Cleveland Indians. I finally got to use my rainout tickets and actually see a ballgame in Dayton on Tuesday. The weather was gorgeous, the between-inning entertainment was unrivaled, the stadium was awesome, the food unparalleled. "A"s all around for the experience. The highlight of the game was in the 8th inning, when a man the Dragons call "Roofman" (shirts available in team shop) ran around the roof of the press box and showered the crowd with souveneir baseballs, all the while donned in a spandex one-piece suit and a cape. Of course, the walk-off homer in the 9th by the Dragons was pretty sweet, too.

Lastly.....I am graduating Saturday!!!!! This means that, for avid readers of this blog, posts will be few and far between until the start of the trip, which kicks off June 20th in Madison, Wisconsin.

Twins 29-29
Brewers 33-27
Reds 22-38

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

2007 MLB Draft

It's only a couple of days until this year's draft. For the first time that I can remember, the baseball draft is actually getting a fair amount of press, and will be televised on June 7-8. The projected first pick overall has been pitcher David Price out of Vanderbilt since Day 1, and it would be very unexpected if the D-Rays did not make this pick. The projected top 5 picks are Price, RHP Rick Porcello (Seton Hall, Royals), 3B Josh Vitters (Cal, Cubs), LHP Ross Detwiler (Mizzou, Pirates), RHP Phillipe Aumont (Quebec, Orioles).

The Brewers have the #7 pick and are expected to take RHP Jarrod Parker out of a high school in Indiana. The Reds have the #15 pick and are expected to take3B Kevin Ahrens out of a high school in Texas. The Twins have the #28 pick and are expected to take SS Peter Kozma out of a high school in Oklahoma. Obviously these are not set in stone, but the hot commodity in the draft every year is pitching, and this will be what to watch for this week.

Twins 28-28 (6.5 GB)
Brewers 32-26 (6.0 GU)
Reds 22-36 (10.0 GB)

Friday, June 1, 2007

May in Review

MLB Leaders through 05.31:

Batting Average:
(1) Vladimir Guerrero, LAA [.357]
(1) Jorge Posada, NYY
(3) Kevin Youklis, BOS
(4) Derrek Lee, ChC
(5) Matt Holliday, COL
(5) Magglio Ordonez, DET

(1) Prince Fielder, MIL [19]
(1) Alex Rodriguez, NYY
(3) Justin Morneau, MIN
(4) J. J. Hardy, MIL
(5) Adam Dunn, CIN

Runs Batted In:
(1) Magglio Ordonez, DET [49]
(2) Carlos Lee, HOU
(3) Vladimir Guerrero, LAA
(3) J. J. Hardy, MIL
(5) Torii Hunter, MIN
(5) Alex Rodriguez, NYY

Stolen Bases:
(1) Jose Reyes, NYM [29]
(2) Brian Roberts, BAL
(3) Juan Pierre, LAD
(3) Grady Sizemore, CLE
(5) Kenny Lofton, TEX
(5) Hanley Ramirez, FLA
(5) Shane Victorino, PHI

(1) Josh Beckett, BOS [8]
(1) John Lackey, LAA
(1) C. C. Sabathia, CLE
(4) Six players tied [7]

Earned Run Average:
(1) Jake Peavy, SD [1.47]
(2) Danny Haren, OAK
(3) Brad Penny, LAD
(4) C. Gaudin, OAK
(5) John Lackey, LAA

(1) Erik Bedard, BAL [88]
(2) Johan Santana, MIN
(3) Cole Hamels, PHI
(4) Jake Peavy, SD
(5) C. C. Sabathia, CLE

(1) Francisco Cordero, MIL [19]
(1) Juan Valverde, ARI
(3) Francisco Rodriguez, LAA
(4) Joe Borowski, CLE
(5) Trevor Hoffman, SD

Division Leaders through 05.31
NL East: (1) NY Mets [34-18]; (2) Atlanta [-4.5]
NL Central: (1) Milwaukee [30-24]; (2) Pittsburgh [-6.5]
NL West: (1) LA Dodgers [31-22]; (1) San Diego; (1) Arizona
AL East: (1) Boston [36-16]; (2) Baltimore [-10.0]
AL Central: (1) Cleveland [33-19]; (2) Detroit [-3.5]
AL West: (1) LA Angels [33-22]; (2) Seattle [-4.5]

Twins off
Brewers W (30-24)
Reds L (21-34)