Yes folks, I am happy to report the 30 game, 30 night road trip has been successfully completed. We made it! Over 15,000 miles in one month (16k if you count Griffin’s return trip to Denver). No rain outs, no breakdowns on the highway, nothing! But there is still lots to do. In the past few days/weeks I have been taking quite a lot of grief for not finishing the blog. I know, I know it would have been nice to have the stadium reviews and travel reports immediately as they happened. Logistically, this was simply not possible. This just in – we humans need sleep. Upon completing the trip, I was completely exhausted. The grind of sitting in a car every day for a ridiculous amount of miles can take quite the toll. In fact, I recently read about a NASA experiment where subjects are forced to lay in one spot for 70 days straight without even getting up to pee (they were paid handsomely for their participation). The bodily effects were disastrous. Perhaps I should send this website’s URL to the fine folks at NASA? They might be interested in our combination of constant sitting and devouring salted peanuts by the ton!
Now, a little over a month has passed since we finished the trip at Dodger Stadium. In the coming weeks I plan on finishing the blog, looking over and organizing all the footage we shot with the video camera, and making some T shirts to commemorate the trip. When I last updated the blog, we were in Boston witnessing an historic night by Shane Victorino in a victory over Baltimore. Our next stop was the Great White North to see the Toronto Blue Jays battle the New York Yankees, our second consecutive AL East tilt. On with the show…
The border traffic getting into Canada was as expected, about a 15 minute wait. As we approached the crossing we suddenly realized that we forgot to write down any directions to the Rogers Centre and that our cell phones would be useless in Canada. Using our trusty, beat up 2009 Road Atlas from the back of the Silver Rocket (my 88 Corolla), we spotted the stadium on the map and decided to wing it. Thankfully, those polite Canadians had plenty of signage directing us to the home of the Blue Jays and we made it to the stadium slightly after first pitch.
I’d read a lot about the Rogers Centre and none of what I’d heard was very positive. “Too big” is a common complaint. We actually had a really nice time though and don’t think the stadium deserves the bad rap it receives. The food concessions are certainly among the best in baseball. I had an amazing brisket nacho basket with freshly cooked onions and peppers along with guac and sour cream. Delicious.
The stadium itself is pretty spacious and it is the last in the majors to still have AstroTurf, a field covering that has been shown to lead to lots of leg injuries for players. Around the bases there are small patches of dirt but the actual infield lines are painted right on the turf. Formerly known as the SkyDome, the retractable roof was open to a beautiful night sky when we were there. Beyond the outfield wall are, get this… hotel rooms. Yep. For 250 bucks a night you can see the game for free and sleep in a room with a full view of the field. In one room we saw a party of about 8 kids all cramming their faces to the glass to get a peek of Derek Jeter.
Speaking of #2, the game in Toronto was one of the few games the oft-injured Jeter actually played in this year. His buddy A Rod was also in the lineup for the Yanks and whenever he came up the Toronto fans let him hear a loud chorus of boos. Perhaps it was just because their nemesis was in town, but Blue Jay fans are pretty rough. One group of girls seated in front of us could not be contained. Even the harmless Ichiro took a berating from these drunk girls.
Yes, that is a popcorn bucket on her head
Thoroughly entertained and having witnessed a Blue Jay win thanks to “Edwing” Encarnacion’s (named after his chicken wing home run trot) heroics, we left Canada right after the game to find ourselves in a massive traffic jam on the way back to our hotel in Buffalo. I definitely want to see more of Toronto and was sad we couldn’t check out the nightlife which looked pretty awesome. Toronto also had some of the most beautiful people of any city we visited. Bombshells everywhere. A return trip is in order. Maybe sometime during hockey season!
After a rare and extremely needed good night’s sleep in a Buffalo hotel we made our way the three and a half hours to Pittsburgh for a Pirates game against the Brewers. On the way to the stadium we had some time to spare and attempted to get an oil change only to find that the Walmart we visited was not equipped with the proper tools to perform an oil change on a Prius. Honestly, we never got one even though we drove over 16,000 miles altogether. After all, the car was a rental!
Making our way to the stadium, we found a free parking spot on the streets of downtown Pittsburgh and made our way to the Roberto Clemente walking bridge to the stadium. Before our eyes lay one of the most beautiful sights in all of baseball – PNC Park.
Griffin looking out over the Allegheny River
PNC Park is an absolute gem and probably our favorite stadium of the entire trip. Everything about the park is spectacular and perfect for baseball. PNC Park has the distinction of being the only park in the bigs that has the media booths above the top deck of seats allowing for every patron to be as close to the action as possible. As we walked up we quickly scored some $5 tickets from a scalper with no negotiating required. This was the case for most of the stadiums on our trip. Rarely in major league baseball is it necessary to secure tickets before going to a game. Scalper tickets aplenty and at a huge discount!
As we entered PNC Park we saw Pittsburgh native Dan Marino tossing out the first pitch. Immediately I set out on finding my first souvenir of the trip, an Andrew McCutchen jersey shirt. Cutch will win the NL MVP this year but he is much more famously known as the MVP of my fantasy baseball team which recently celebrated its third straight championship. I’ll give you readers one guess who I defeated in the final! Better luck next year Griff!
3 Peat Complete
After changing into my brand new McCutchen shirt it was time for a beer and boy was the selection outstanding! I felt like I was back home in Safeco Field with the vast amount of microbrews available. Instead of making our way up to the upper deck where our seats were we just hopped down an aisle above third base and set our sights on one of the best views in baseball. The Pittsburgh skyline sits just beyond the outfield wall with the bright yellow Clemente bridge and the Allegheny River providing a picaresque backdrop.
It was a grey day in Pittsburgh but the view was still spectacular
On this day the Pirates were playing one of their division rivals, the Milwaukee Brewers. Rookie Pirate phenom Gerrit Cole didn’t have his best stuff, surrendering 10 hits and Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo held the Bucs scoreless for 7 innings before the Brewer bullpen closed out a 4-0 win. This game aside, it looks as if the baseball fortunes have finally turned in Pittsburgh. The Pirates finished this season with a winning record for the first time since 1992 and gave the Cardinals all they could handle in the Division Series before falling to Adam Wainwright in the decisive game 5.
After the game it was time to continue our daily tradition and take some statue pics. Here’s me with Willie Stargell…
Pops and I share a moment
In order to get the full stadium experience at PNC Park we decided to take a lap around the stadium. Although a large portion of the fans coming to PNC enter through the outfield entrance after crossing the Clemente bridge from downtown, the home plate entance at PNC is one of the most beautiful and dramatic in baseball. The massive Tigers prowling out front of Comerica Park in Detroit may be its only rival. At PNC, a beautiful statue of Honus Wagner sets the stage for baseball and reminds fans of the Pirates rich history.
Continuing counter clockwise around the stadium, we made our way to right field where a Bill Mazeroski statue sits forever celebrating his walk off home run in game 7 of the 1960 World Series.
Although the game had been over for nearly an hour a few fans held an improvised after party on the waterfront. At PNC, boats can cruise up to the park and dock just outside of right field for free. Three small speed boats packed with partiers filled up the quiet night air with AC/DC blaring out of an expensive stereo. Naturally, we joined in. Stories were told, pictures were taken, Yuengling’s were consumed, and I thought about my baby Azuwish rocking gently back in her slip on Lake Washington. Laying down thousands of miles of highway really makes one want to go sailing!
Party City, PA
Sadly, we couldn’t spend the night on the Allegheny river like these fine folks were planning on doing as we had to get a move on some 684 miles to Atlanta. But Pittsburgh had one more surprise for us. About 100 yards from Party City under the Clemente bridge we spotted a crazy man and his lady friend fishing in the dirty Allegheny. By now it was nearly midnight but we were feeling rambunctious so we struck up a conversation with the fellow. Little did we know we wouldn’t be able to escape the chat for more than twenty minutes! We learned all about catching catfish, when the Allegheny is actually clean enough to eat the fish that are caught, and how to convince your wife (?) to go fishing with you at midnight under a bridge. I felt bad about snapping this shot as we walked away but I had to!
Turner Field in Atlanta really wasn’t that inspiring. Then again, we were in PNC Park the night before so perhaps our standards were too high. We made it the 11 hour drive to Atlanta with plenty of time to spare to send off some postcards and to mill about the stadium for a while before the game. Hoping for a good bar or restaurant with Internet access and respite from the humidity, we searched the stadium area high and low and found nothing but a dirty neighborhood. So we settled on a 6 pack and some car snacks for dinner. Wah waaah. Turner Field was built for the 1996 Olympic Games and it definitely has a very 90’s feel to it which isn’t the best thing. Morgan with the Braves front office was nice to us though and hooked us up with free tickets to the game. Thanks Morgan! Inside, we found the new Waffle House and indulged in some free smells.
Only in the South
Following a recommendation, we decided to check out the Braves museum inside the stadium. It turned out to be one of the best baseball museums of the trip but the process to get inside is absolutely ridiculous. We approached the grumpy old lady working the door to the museum asking to get in. “It’s 2 dollars ya’ll,” she snapped back. Not believing that a team would charge a separate admission price for a part of the stadium we were already in we question her about the $2 charge. Apparently she gets that question a lot as her response about how the money goes to charity came out immediately. Ok ok… here’s your 2 dollars. But nooo, she wouldn’t take our 2 dollars and instead directed us to a booth 3 sections away where we could purchase a token to gain entrance. It’s all one big hassle and something Turner Field should definitely consider changing. The museum was pretty sweet though. All of the Braves World Series trophies were there along with tons of Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, and Greg Maddux memorabilia. They also had this…
Yes, that is one side of a two panel montage of nearly every black player to don a Braves uniform. We really couldn’t understand what the Braves were going for here. Was this to show how progressive the team has been by employing so many African Americans? And what did one player complain about not being included on the original montage so they decided to put every black Brave ever on it? Seems a little ridiculous. They just operate differently down South I guess. After all, they still do the Tomahawk Chop every freaking inning.
One cool thing about the museum though was the old train car the Braves used to travel in. Fans can walk through the train car and see where legends like Warren Spahn used to sleep and play cards before the days of traveling by plane. I think the next baseball road trip might have to be by rail!
Where Eddie Mathews used to poop
As for the game, we witnessed another prime pitching duel. Certain NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez was out pitched by Julio Teheran, 2 to 1. Freddie Freeman provided all the offense the Braves would need in the first inning when he connected on a 2 run homer. We made our way over to the Budweiser porch in time for the 7th inning stretch and filmed our banner signing segment looking out over the infield. All around us dudes in cowboy boots drank huge beers and hit on anything in a skirt. One group of fans caught our attention though for having that hick, redneck quality about them more so than anyone hailing from Georgia. Why if it isn’t a bunch of Wazzu fans! Yes fans of the UW’s little brother were out in full force as the WSU Cougars had an out of conference game against Auburn the next day (they lost). Griffin and I both root for the Huskies of course so we used the opportunity to get into a fun little spat. They turned out to be good sports though and we all had a laugh, a couple beers together, and talked about how solid the Seahawks looked. Good times.
Anyways, the Braves won and we weren’t too impressed with Turner Field. The only thing left to do was mow the grass!
Saving up for a riding mower still Braves? Perhaps this is why they need to charge $2 to see a museum!
Of course no stadium visit would be complete without statue pictures and the Braves certainly had a lot of them! Hank Aaron, “The Georgia Peach” Ty Cobb, Phil Neikro, and Warren Spahn all adorn the stadium grounds. Here’s some pics of us with Atlanta greats.
Griffin and Hammerin’ Hank
Ty Cobb and I sliding in spikes first
Well, that’s all for now folks. Coming up we continue our adventures down South at the parks of the Astros and Rangers. Hope everyone is enjoying the playoffs!