Friday, August 27, 2010

The Newhouse's Head East

I have spent a good portion of the last 15 years trying to see a game in every Major League Baseball stadium.  I've been lucky that work travel has put me near a lot of parks and the points that I earn from those trips has got me to the rest of them.  I only have 1 team that I've never seen in their home ballpark, Seattle.  The rest of them I've visited but a lot of them keep building new stadiums so I've had to go back.

I've done several "baseball vacations" before, 6 games in 7 days in 6 city type of deals.  I love them.  The most hardcore trips have been with my Dad and Stephen.  It's just something the 3 of us enjoy and have really had a good time doing.  

Since Angela got in the picture I haven't been able to do a baseball trip.  I've been able to go to a few stadiums that happen to be in the city we are visiting but never a trip.  For my 40th birthday Angela put together a baseball trip for her and I.  Obviously this is very cool but I was pretty concerned that she would hate this and with everything going on we shouldn't do this now.  

She convinced me it was something we had to do and before I knew it we were heading to New York City.  Angela wrote a pretty good depiction of what we did day by day, so head over to the triplet blog to see that.  I'll just give you my reviews of the stadiums here.

In 1999 we did a trip that took us to Boston, Cooperstown, New York, Philly and Baltimore.  It was a memorable trip for a lot of reasons and since both New York teams and the Phillies have built new stadiums on me, this seems like as good a time as any to share those with you as we go.

When we went to Shea Stadium back in 99 the game got rained out.  We were there, sat in our seats for a bit, ate hot dogs out in the lobby and watched it rain.  Never saw a pitch.

This year Angela and I arrived at Citi Field and it was raining.  I had to call my Dad as it seemed like Deja Vu all over again to quote Yogi.  We got our souveniers and some dinner and ate them right by the trash cans.  It was odd how similar the two trips were.  The difference this time was that when the clock hit game time, they actually played.  We were very lucky in that our seats were kinda under the overhang so we didn't get very wet which was key in keeping Angela happy.

The rain kind of killed the atmosphere in the park but there was still a little bit of it as the Phillies were in town and brought some loud fans with them.  I was very impressed with the stadium, it was nice in a Cincinnati, San Diego kind of way.  I mean that as a compliment, sort of.  I like all 3 of those stadiums but as the new stadiums go, there isn't much that makes them distinctive.  Citi Field had the Jackie Robinson rotunda which looked to be very cool but I have to be honest, I didn't realize what it was until we were almost out of it.

I did find the Mets Hall of Fame which was pretty cool.  I understand Daryl Strawberry was the best player on the 86 World Series team but as a guy who lived in LA and rooted for the Dodgers in the 90's I had a tough time seeing a plaque for him.  Such a hard time, I took a picture of it.

Speaking of that World Series team, I had to take a picture of the trophy and dream about seeing it here in Texas some day.


Things I look for in every park I go to - overall coolness - ease of seeing basic stats like balls and strikes - out of town scoreboard - the hot dogs - souvenier cups - home run celebrations - 7th inning stretch - various other cool stuff around the park.  What I'll do here is give each category a grade from 1 to 10 with 10 being the best.

Citi Field
Overall Coolness - 7
basic Stats - 8
out of town - 9 - all the games were finals but it appeared to be pretty cool
hot dogs - 5 - very average
sovenier cups - 0 - they didn't have any!
home run celebration - 3 - the apple came up but it seemed kinda lame to me
7th inning - 10 - after the God Bless America and Take me Out to the Ballgame they did the tune they sing during the wedding at the Godfather - friggin perfect.
other stuff - 5 - probably better than that had I realized we were in the Jackie Robinson rotunda.

Total score - 47

The one stadium I absolutely wasn't looking forward to was Yankee Stadium.  We had a horrible experience in 99 and I wasn't looking forward to doing that again.  That experience alone is worth it's own blog post but I'll summarize - we hopped in a cab in Times Square at 5, the cabbie was pissed, got even angrier and dropped us in Harlem.  We had no idea where we were or what to do.  Found the subway and then got yelled at by just about every usher at the stadium as we tried to find Monument Park.

This time everyone told me the subway was the way to go.  For the Mets we listened to my friend Laurie and the train was fine.  Pleasant actually.  We did the same this time and everything was cool.  I still had my guard up as we milled about outside, I was waiting on those jackass ushers to greet us, much to my surprise I think they might have been nice to us.   Maybe not nice but they were helpful which was really all we needed.  We made it to monument park with no trouble at all.  I enjoyed it and Angela was a trooper but it was really crowded and it seemed to be a bit more concrete than I remember the old one being.  That felt almost like a garden to me

There is very little in this world that I despise more than the Yankees.  I really, really can't stand them.  Another thing I do at stadiums is buy myself a hat and a shirt.  I told Angela I will not do that at Yankee Stadium.  I just can't.  Every picture she took of me in that place was a struggle for her because I didn't want to look like one of those friggin bandwagon fans.  I did agree to the picture near Babe Ruth's number.  I like the Babe, I ignore who he played for.

The stadium itself was almost awesome.  It is really impressive.  It reminded me a lot of the new Cowboys stadium, both seem so nice I'm not sure I should be allowed to touch things as I walk through it.  That big screen was pretty awesome, the friggin thing is huge but it doesn't look like it goes, it's bigger than everything around it.

Yankee Stadium
Overall Coolness - 8
basic Stats - 8
out of town - 9 
hot dogs - 5 - very average - they were the same as Citi - Nathan's
sovenier cups - 5 - it was the oversize flimsy plastic ones
home run celebration - 0 - only because the Yankees didn't hit one
7th inning - 7 - after the God Bless America and Take me Out to the Ballgame they did something lame that I can't recall.  They get extra points because of God Bless America and it's Yankee Stadium - sue me if you disagree
other stuff - 7 - monument park is very cool and the roll call the fans in right field do for the players is very cool as well.  I was pretty excited about seeing that. but destroying the ghosts of Yankee's past for luxury suites is a sin and cost them a 10 here.  That being said, I really did like this one better than the old park but I wish I could take my boys (including Stephen) to the actual House that Ruth built and they took that away from me.

Total score - 49

We took the train to Philly the next day, that was pretty easy and cheap too.  I was real happy about cheap after visiting the House where the Ghost of George took every penny he could from me.

My trip to the old Veterans Stadium in 99 wasn't as exciting as the others on that trip.  Mainly what I recall is a crappy, empty football stadium.  One thing you should probably know about me, even though I love going to games and go a lot, I don't ever want to catch a foul/home run ball.  The last thing I want to do is let the guys on Sportscenter figure out what my little league coach did oh so many years ago, I can't catch.  So, when something is hit in my vicinity, I run like a little girl.  It's happened many times and I'm not ashamed of it.  

Last time in Philly I tripped trying to get out of the way and fell into some getting drunk frat boy who in turn fell into one of his buddies who fell into another buddy and so on.  Luckily for me drunk frat boy #1 didn't realize I fell into him and he took heat for the rest of the game from his buddies that he screwed up them getting a foul ball.

I was a little concerned as we pulled up to our seats and within 5 feet of us was the foul pole.  Uh Oh.  Angela got to the seat and said, "oh crap, I'm going to get hit by a ball because goof ball won't be anywhere near me if a ball comes in the area."  I'm not ashamed no matter what you think.  Fat boy gets out of the way, quick.

Luckily for her we didn't have one come our way but she did seemed concerned throughout the game.  Let's see, what were the biggest differences between new and old Phillies stadium.  

1. Fans - they were at this stadium - lots of 'em
2 - old stadium was a hell hole - new stadium is a little slice of heaven

That seems to sum it up.

Now, I do have to say that this was the first game on this trip where the weather was nice.  Really nice.  That goes a long way to making the stadium seem better, I realize that but suck it Yankee fans, I don't care.

Citizens Bank Park

Overall Coolness - 9
basic Stats - 6
out of town - 3 - I think there was a good one underneath me but I never saw it, so they get docked because I really wanted to see how the Rangers were doing and it was very difficult to do.
hot dogs - 8 - I'm not sure if it was really good or just ok good but I do know it was 3 points better than the ones in New York.
sovenier cups - 8 - same reasoning as above
home run celebration - 0 - only because the Phillies didn't hit one
7th inning - 5 - after the God Bless America and Take me Out to the Ballgame and then nothing
other stuff - 11 - you get points for the Philly Phanatic, he makes me laugh and the fact that the fans were a lot of fun.  Plus I had a couple beers in that aluminum can thing, I know other places have them but I never had 'em before and they were very cold.  Again, sue me.

Total Points - 50 - ok, I realize it's a 10 points scale and I gave them 11 but I can't have them tied with the Yankees.  I hate the Yankees, did I mention that?  They can't be #1 at everything, I won't allow it.

Basically, if I'm just comparing the 3 stadiums - if I lived in New York, I'd be a Mets fan because they ain't the Yankees.  If I was a rich snob and had no morals I'd go to Yankee Stadium and if I could choose between all 3, I'd want my boys to grow up going to see the Phillies, that place was cool.
We came home the next day, very ready to be home and to see the boys.  As we were getting ready to land the pilot announced that the hydraulics on the plane had gone out and that we were going to be met by emergency vehicles.  Everything was fine and I wasn't worried since no one else seemed to be but as I put on facebook, the sight below is never one you like to see upon landing.

Monday, August 2, 2010

1 More Week

In less than a week I won't be a 30 something anymore. I can honestly say I'm cool with that. I've actually been saying that I'm 40 for several months now, it just seems easier. My wife on the other hand always corrects me and points out to people that I'm only 39. Kinda cracks me up.

My 30's were good to me for the most part, I can't complain. Not really sad to see them go though, there seems to be a lot of cool stuff in my future. There better be anyway.

First up though better for me to get home. I've been on the road over a week now and I'm just ready to get home. I've driven over 2700 miles so far on this trip and I'm done with it. I've still got at least one more day of appointments but mentally I'm done. I'm ready to spend the last week of being a 30 something with my wife and kids in my house. Even if it is hot as hell at home right now and currently it's 65 where I'm at now. I'll give up the great temps just to get home.