Thursday, August 2, 2007

Day 38: Home of the Owlz

All photos of Rocky Mountains and the Home of the Owlz available on Flickr.

The next 24 hours was to be the most brutal and exhausting day of the entire trip, and was very trying on both of us - a Rookie league game in suburban Provo, sandwiched in between two 9 hour drives. We left Colorado Springs around 8:30 AM. The redeeming factor of this long day that kept me sane (and alert) was that the drive through the Rockies was gorgeous, of which I took nearly a hundred photos through my windshield. We passed through Golden, CO, the home of Coors Brewing Company, and we stopped in Vail for lunch. Vail is a skiing town with nothing but cafes, boutiques, and multi-million dollar condos and timeshares, all made to look like a much younger version of an Alpine village. Although gaudy, it was beautiful in its own way. We proceeded past Aspen into Utah, which was a whole 3 exits in the first 200 miles of the state. Around this time Erik woke up - just in time for a little Utah road construction traffic jam. We finally arrived in Orem, Utah around 5:30.

It was raining upon our arrival, but we were not worried at all, because we had the luck of the tour on our side. In the light drizzle, we walked around the stadium and watched some BP. It was pretty special; all the players were horsing around and it was totally like watching a high school team practice. The "Home of the Owlz," as the stadium is called, is actually on Utah Valley State University's campus and shares use with the Wolverines. After retrieving a few BP home run balls, sure enough the sky cleared, and we set up down a campus path and raised $20. The main reason we chose to visit this park, besides that it was Rookie League ball, was the view. Upon its opening in 2005, I had always read that the Home of the Owlz boasts the "finest view in the minor leagues," and although this is clearly subjective, one can't deny that a Rocky Mountain backdrop is a pretty incredible thing to look at while watching a game. Watching the sun set over the mountains with a stiff wind blowing out made for a very relaxing evening.

The Owlz are the Rookie League affiliate of the Angels, and their opponent the Casper Rockies are obviously affiliated with the Rockies. All teams have either have a Rookie League or a Short-Season A team, which serves as kind of instructional leagues where new draft picks are sent in June when the leagues start. Most players will only spend a year here before moving to A-ball, with the exception of Latin players that are drafted as teenagers. It was a very exciting game to watch, comparable to like a college All-Star game of sorts. Starting pitcher for the Owlz Robert Fish struck out 8, but only lasted 5 innings due mostly to a long 2nd inning that raised his pitch count. The bullpen surrended two runs on a homerun by Christopher Vasimi in the 5-0 loss. Overall, it was a pleasant experience - very cheap concessions and tickets, good weather, good atmosphere, key chain giveaway, and a hilarious mascot.

Immediately following the game, we hit the road for Kennewick, Washington, just over the Oregon border, where we'll be crashing for a few hours at Erik's aunt's house before finishing the drive to Seattle.

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 3
views from park - 10 (Rockies)
view to field - 7 (really good, but only 2500 seats, the rest lawn)
surrounding area - 2 (campus is dead in the summer)
food variety - 4
nachos - 4
beer - n/a
vendor price - 10
ticket price - 10 ($3 GA)
atmosphere - 6
walk to park - 3 (campus)
parking price/proximity - 6 (about a 5 minute walk for $2! ridiculous, it's Rookie League)
concourses - 2
team shop - 7 (pretty huge t-shirt and cap selection)

best food - fries
most unique stadium feature - view
best jumbotron feature - strikeout animation featuring Hootz Owl
best between-inning feature - frozen t-shirt race

field dimensions - 305/408/316
starters - Brandon Miller (CAS) v. Robert Fish (ORM)
opponent - Casper Rockies
time of game - 2:48
attendance - 2815
score - 5-0 L
Brewers score that day - 3-2 W

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