Monday, June 23, 2008

Tour 2008: Ripken Stadium

Photos of Washington Day 3 and Ripken Stadium available on Flickr.

After arriving late last night, we got a bit of much needed rest this morning then headed in to downtown DC. We met up with my friend Kelly and had lunch while I tried to decide what to do with the next four months of my life, since watching ball all summer isn't going to cut it this year. After lunch we walked down the mall towards the Washington Monument. We passed by the Newseum where outside they had displayed newspaper front pages from several different countries and all 50 states. Intrigued, we wanted to look around inside for a bit. We thought the Newseum would be free like most of the other museums in DC but when we found out it cost $20 to get in, we promptly left. We finished our walk down the mall but when we arrived at the monument we found that it was sold out for the day.

We got back on the metro and headed back to Alexandria. After transfer subway lines three times we arrived at the end of the yellow line and hopped on the bus that took us from the apartment to the metro in the morning. Unfortunately for us, the bus we take runs on a loop. Now, there are both clockwise and counterclockwise loops. So, our ride back to the apartment could have been 20 minutes. But, we got on the wrong loop and took a drive through scenic northern Virginia and past Mt. Vernon before arriving at the apartment an hour and 10 minutes after we left the metro station. If you're scoring at home, that's an E-Us.

Then we jumped in the car and headed towards Aberdeen. We hit a few traffic jams along the way but nothing too major and we made it to the game about a half hour before the game started. The Aberdeen Ironbirds are the short season A ball affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles and the team is owned by Cal Ripken Jr. Ripken Stadium is beautiful and is also used as the home of the Cal Ripken League World Series. The Ironbirds have sold out every game in their history and there is now a waiting list for season tickets. We were pretty excited for tonight's game because we had All-You-Can-Eat seats right behind home plate. And they did not disappoint.

We took our seats and immediately headed to the buffet line. It was a nice little spread featuring beef fajitas and quesadillas. The only draw back was that it cost extra if you wanted a beer. The game began and the starting pitcher for the Ironbirds was very Rick Vaughn-esque. In two innings of work he struck out six batters and walked three while giving up a run on a single and an error. At the end of two, with the score tied one-one, the rain hit. Once again, we were just barely under the overhang of the roof and we were able to stick it out for a little while. Then the wind shifted and the rain started blowing right in our faces, so we took shelter with a few beers on the main concourse. The rain lasted for about a half hour and then the grounds crew took another half hour to get the field ready for play again. Once the game got underway, both bullpens took over and put up zeros until the bottom of the 7th. The Ironbirds put together a three-run rally and went on to win the game 4-1.

We got back in the car and hit the road for DC, singing along with the Beach Boys all the way home. Tomorrow, sadly, it's back home to Milwaukee. A special and heartfelt thanks for Phil and Frank for letting us stay at their apartments, and particularly to Phil for driving us around Sunday and Monday.

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 7 (just about the best youll find for a short-season A stadium)

views from park - 3

view to field - 10 (all-you-can-eat seats are right behind home plate)

surrounding area - 2 (players' Courtyard Marriott in parking lot)

food variety - n/a (didnt really investigate this, we had the buffet)

nachos - n/a (see previous answer)

beer - 7 (low variety, mostly Bud products, but good price)

vendor price - n/a

ticket price - 10 (buffet + excellent seat for $31)

atmosphere - 5 (good for A-ball, but it cleared out after the rain delay)

walk to park - 2

parking price/proximity - 10 (adjacent lot for free)
concourses - 5

team shop - 10 (excellent variety and prices)

best food - buffet
most unique stadium feature - LCF dimension displayed in Ripken family number (3-7-8)
best jumbotron feature - Chick-fil-A cow cheerleaders
best between-inning feature - kids wear oversized wind breakers and catch baseballs in them

field dimensions - 330/404/330
starters - Luke Greinke (SI) v. Chris Salberg (ABD)
opponent - Staten Island Yankees
time of game - 2:25 (1:11 delay)
attendance - 6,470
score - 4-1 W
Brewers score that day - 4-1 W

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