Sunday, August 5, 2007

Day 42: PGE Park

All photos from Portland and PGE Park are available on Flickr.

At the end of the 6th week of the tour, we find ourselves becoming more and more road weary. Added to the long time we have been on the road is the our unimaginable marathon sprint from Houston to Seattle, over 3,000 miles, in less than a week. So, we took our time leaving Seattle on Saturday morning. Peter and I both slept until about 10 AM, then enjoyed leisurely showers, and watched a Mickey Mantle documentary before hitting the road for Portland, OR. This stop was special for a couple of reasons. First of all, Portland is where my involvement in Habitat for Humanity began. Over Spring Break 2003 I was part of a Collegiate Challenge group that spent a week painting a house in Portland. I had an absolute blast and that trip is why I'm still involved with Habitat today. Plus, we got to see the Brewers AAA team - the Nashville Sounds.

We arrived in Portland at about 2:30 PM and had a couple of hours to walk around. We both wished that we could have spent more time in this wonderful city but we were excited and stupid back in March and booked ourselves for a day game in Oakland on Sunday. We found some street parking near PGE Park and hopped the MAX train to downtown (P.S. - so far the coolest mass transit name). We then caught a street car to the Pearl District. Peter was very excited to see this part of the city because it had served as the main precedent for his thesis. While he was running all over, shouting "This photo was in my document," I was content to wade in the fountain and do an awesome banister slide (look at the pictures) at another neighborhood park. I'll hand it to Peter, though, the Pearl District was very nice and it's incredible that all that space was created out of marshland. There weren't even any mosquitoes!

After our architectural sightseeing was over, we walked along the street car tracks back towards downtown Portland. Along the way we passed Powell's City of books, a four floor bookstore that takes up a whole city block. Having already been in Powell's and Peter having no interest in reading we passed by and entered Rocco's Pizza across the street. There we both enjoyed a huge, cheap slice of pie and I had a $1 Pabst. While enjoying our meal Peter was flipping though the Portland Visitor's Guide and saw that Henry's Pub and Grill, a popular tourist destination, was just down the block. Of course we headed there for one more drink before heading back to the park. At Henry's we were greeted by a most unique bar. It had a refrigerated rail that kept your drink cold. It was an unbelievable feature and should be installed at every bar in the country.

After finishing our drinks we headed back to the ballpark and setup our fundraising effort at the MAX station across the street from the park. I had high hopes for our efforts and we raise $25, not bad for a minor league game. We did meet our first hostile passerby of the trip though. While most people think our idea that "You can't get anything inside the park for a dollar, so you should donate it to Habitat" is thoughtful and funny, this gentleman was very offended. After briefly shouting at us he moved on.

We were very excited to get into the game because we knew we would be seeing many past, present, and future Brewers. Our haste did not prevent us, however, from stopping to acquire a PGE non-protective hardhat that the park's sponsor was passing out on the entry plaza. We had expected big things from PGE Park but it was nothing special. First of all, the field was artificial turf. If you can't grow grass in Portland, where can you grow it? The park does have several unique features. The field is located below street level and is shoehorned into its sight, meaning the left field line is very short and has a huge wall, like in Boston. Also, the scoreboard is entirely hand operated, even the balls and strikes and at bat number.

The game was quite thrilling for us. As expected, the first six Sounds batters had seen time with the Brewers either this season or last. Gabe Gross was the star of the evening, knocking two home runs. My favorite Brewer, 2B Ricky Weeks, looked to becoming out of his season-long slum with three hits. P Adam Pettyjohn pitched 6 solid innings and you may be seeing him in Milwaukee very soon if that bullpen continues to struggle. We cheered loud and it was an exciting 10-9 Sounds win.

After the game we felt the effects of our March stupidity. We climbed into Old Yeller and began the trek through the night to Oakland - a 10 hour drive - for a 1 PM game.

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 4
views from park - 6
view to field - 5
surrounding area - 8 (Portland is awesome)
food variety - 4
nachos - 4 (nothing special)
beer - 4 (decent variety but very expensive)
vendor price - 6
ticket price - 5 ($8 GA a bit pricy for minors)
atmosphere - 4
walk to park - 7 (most take the train)
parking price/proximity - 10 (two blocks away for free)
concourses - 3
team shop - 2

best food - polish sausage
most unique stadium feature - 100% hand-operated scoreboard
best jumbotron feature - Fun Pear Facts
best between-inning feature - Scott's Toilet Paper Race

field dimensions - 317/405/320
starters - Adam Pettyjohn (NAS) v. Shawn Estes (POR)
opponent - Nashville Sounds
time of game - 3:09
attendance - 7330
score - 10-9 L
Brewers score that day - 6-5 W

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