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MLB Park #6 Day #4
SF 4 @ ARI 5
In what technically is Park #1 on Day #1 of the streak after a retro-active option I capitalized on, this game is the 6th write-up. So let us go back to April.5th First. I watched the New York Mets Season Opener with Lori Martini and we were both interviewed by Sports NY. After the incredible Adrenaline rush of being on camera for an extended interview, the Mets won the season opener on a well-pitched effort by Johan Santana of the Mets. Directly after the game, Lori and I were taken to Dom Peps in Brooklyn by her friend Mike. This place serves great Italian platters and was featured on the hit TV Series “Entourage.” A nice meal with some great new friends then saw me make the trip to Boston. I had to take a Greyhound Bus to Boston(for only $15) because that airport was the only one in the radius that Southwest could fly to Phoenix in time for the opener.
I spent 6 hours on the Bus, before flying another 6 across the country to make it to Phoenix. I was officially on my own to start the streak. I quickly made my way o National Car Rental where I have 20 free rental days for the trip. I picked out a brand new Ford Edge out of the Executive Selection Row at Phoenix Airport. I then drove about 8 miles out to a ‘Waffle House’, where I ordered Gritz, Ham, Bacon and Eggs. It was a huge meal and I left satisfied for the tune of about $10. I then drove towards Chase Field. Having been to all of these cities before makes it easy to navigate without a map. I pulled into a garage lot and parked for $10. The place was no more than 150 feet from the Park. I entered the facility and walked around the concourse.
One of the things I really respect about the Diamondbacks is their ability to make things cost-effective for their fans. Year in and year out they are always voted amongst the best for their ticket sales department by MLB. At the concession stands they have a kids menu to order from. Most items like hotdogs, popcorn, pop and peanuts are $1.50. The best part is that these prices are available for everyone to use. Sure they are bite sized miniatures of the real sized concessions, but at least they offer that little bit to the consumer.
The game started off with a bang. 49000 people cheered as Chris Young hit a home run. I started tweeting like mad from the park. MLB Reports tweeted to me-Paul Goldschmidt with about for of these!!!! For emphasis. I honestly got the feeling that I was in a time warp because Goldschmidt destroyed the next offering from Lincecum out of the yard. It was total Uforia throughout Chase Field. MLB Reports had prognosticated correctly. I enjoyed this game so much more because the roof was open. It was my 5th game at Chase Field. This structure is in the bottom 3rd overall of the MLB Parks, however I might have to re-consider for what transpired in this contest. Tim Lincecum pitched well in the 2nd to 5th inning but bookended the night with giving up runs in his last inning. Boy the D’Backs look pretty decent as a club. Jason Kubel might be one of the best off-season pickups no one is talking about. If they can get Stephen Drew back in good time, they will have a great chance to win the NL West.
The SF Giants will have several days like this, The pitching could not hold down the opposition and they could not generate any runs themselves. On a bright note, Melky Cabrera homered and doubled in his 1st game with the club. If he hits like this, everyone will realize that the trade for Jonathan Sanchez was not so bad after all. I left the Phoenix downtown area and stayed at a Best Western just outside the city. I had a great rest and made it to the airport really early for my flight to Los Angeles. In hindsight, I am so thankful that I did this game before the streak in case I needed it. I had long debated whether I should have gone to San Diego. In the end, I was really confident in making one of the San Diego double headers. Now with those flight cancellations and the one delay, I am lucky I went to this season opener!
MLB Park #7 Day # 5
PIT 1 @ LAD 2
Something felt off all day. Perhaps it was the all night stay awake maneuver I pulled in Brooklyn, NY before flying out of JFK. I went to the wrong airline to check I, it was an amateur mistake by a jet lagged guy. So I go to the Air Tram which happened to be out of service. I know what the airport can do to impede one`s progress so I had arrived at JFK 2.5 hours before the flight. I finally got myself together and went to the United Terminal. I slept the whole non-stop flight to LAX. When I came upon the car rental center in Los Angeles , it was error # 2. This day was the one of two car rental days in the trip where I am with someone other than National. After fighting with the National people for 5 minutes, I recalled I had booked this reward rental with ALAMO. I apologized to the National staff and quickly went to the Alamo side of the building. I still managed to receive the same car I wanted because it is the same rental company. It was a Chrysler 200 and was a sweet ride.
Now that I had wasted 30 minutes I felt an urgent rush to drive to Dodger Stadium. It was 10:45 AM. My goal was to find another Wendy`s restaurant so I could start eating healthy again. The previous day I put away a cheesesteak, 2 Nathan`s hot dogs and a Quesadilla for the Mets/Phillies doubleheader. I am hell-bent on not gaining a bunch of weight for this trip like I have on previous streaks. Los Angeles was flooded with traffic everywhere. Seeing what I was up against made me panic. I settled on a $5 Large Pepperoni Pizza from Little Caesars Pizza (not exactly a picture of health but not that bad overall.) I continued onto the 110 freeway. It was a nightmare!! What seemed so routine in my planning-now was turning into a circus act. I was 2 miles away with 75 minutes until 1st pitch and not moving swiftly anywhere. I would have been so embarrassed had I not made the game. At 12:45 PM I found a situational parking spot I had previously purchased. I always thought that I would be needing that San Diego game all along. Now that I didn’t need it-I was still curious about what if I had needed.it. I was going to race out of the game and give it my best shot. My flight was out of San Diego at just before midnight.
The Dodgers game was completely boring. I don`t mind Opening Day at any park, but with the temperature at around 80 in the sun I crusaded out into the concourse. I actually spent $7.25 on a lemonade if you can believe it! As I kept walking into the sun to heat up and walk to the concourse to cool down, it was apparent I was not into the game that much. This does happen occasionally while doing the streak. I was happy to see the 8th inning roll in quite fast but it was still tied at 1. Clayton Kershaw had thrown a masterpiece of a game for the Dodgers. The Pirates roster featured a bunch of averages that would make a bakery proud with all of those bagels on the board.
Andre Ethier was celebrating his 30th birthday on the day. I was praying for this game to be over. The drive to San Diego was still going to be a tough negotiation. The gods smiled down on me when Ethier impaled a baseball for a go ahead 2-1 homerun. It was over in the 9th fast for the Pirates. I treated it like I needed the San Diego game. I barreled down four flights of stairs, definitely not a swift as I would normally be since I ate a Large Pizza earlier in the day, but I made good time to the car and swerved flawlessly out of the parking lot onto Highway 5. It was gridlock from that point forward. I pressed on. At 7:00 PM, I drove by Petco Park. Io would have been okay to see the start of the game. Fortunately for me, I did not need this game. It would have been a bloody fluke if the next things all would have went down. That San Diego game ended up going extras and drawing near a 4 hour contest. I highly doubt I would have made that flight to Cleveland. I would have been mad that I couldn’t get to Cleveland, yet the flight cancellation would have benefited me. The airline would not know that I was touch and go and probably would have missed the flight.
I was left to think that but I dealt with the real reality. The flight was cancelled to Cleveland. That next day matinée game ended at 3:15 PM. My pending flight was at 4:20 PM. I would give myself about a 30% chance to have made the 25-30 minute drive-dropped off the rental car-got through the security line-ups before sprinting to my Gate. I say it right now, I would have missed that flight to Baltimore. Much like my 2009 Record Chase, things seemed to have worked out for the better. I received a free flight back to makeup Dallas, and with switching out 5 different games I actually will save $200-300 in operational costs. The best part about Indians/Yankees not coming on this day is that they both play after the streak is over. I wrote a blog about the changes so I will move onto the next game.
The Dodger still need the need ownership to influx some payroll into the club to bolster the offence. Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and 7 punch and Judy hitters is not going to win the pennant in my view.
MLB Park # 8 Day # 6
SEA 4 @ TEX 3
The Ball Park in Arlington
I already knew it was going to be a long day. I had stayed at the San Diego Airport after re-arranging my trip before writing some articles. I did not want to risk oversleeping at a hotel despite being offered one for the flight cancellation. Worse than this, I am positive that the TSA-found their way to a fallen bunch of paper inside their screening x-ray machine that contained $18 worth of food vouchers as my compensation for the cancellation as well. It won’t be the last disappointing loss during the airports travel. I arrived at DFW at 1:35 PM. The car rental place I had to go with shall remain nameless. I don’t feel it is good karma to rip them.
The problem was that no car rental place had a lot of cars because a great deal of their fleets had been ravaged by the tornadoes earlier in the week. I was lucky enough to secure a car reservation. The problem is that it was only a reservation. I saved myself about $7 on a cab ride by hopping onto a shuttle bus for a hotel that happened to be nearer to the car rental places destination. I wasn’t about to pay the $23.50 minimum to take a cab out of the Fort Worth Airport. I tipped the hotel shuttle bus driver $3 so he probably didn’t care anyway. I went for a bit of a walk to blow off some steam from the night before. 30 minutes into the walk I called a cab. It was a good move. I was at the car rental place at 3:30 PM. The first thing the guy said was that they did not have a car. Great!! Just my luck.. I was on a waiting list, To the places credit they did offer my a SUV for $100 for the day in which I declined. AT 5:00 I decided to cab it to the park, also meaning a cab ride to the hotel and back to the airport after! Had I received my daily rate for the car I booked, paid for parking and gas it would have run me about $75. Instead I forked out $125 in cab fare for the city of Dallas. Not only that, I had to wait for a cab 90 minutes after the game.
At 5:25 PM I arrived into The Ball Park in Arlington. 20 hours straight had worn me down, but I was at an MLB game. I knew about the lengthy Cleveland game which put my mind at ease a little about the day’s events. I was into this baseball game. It was $1 hotdog night at the yard. This was perfect and I ordered a few dogs. If it is that price, I will probably buy a few hotdogs. The Rangers flexed their muscle on the Mariners early. Back to back homers from Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus had the place rocking. The night’s temperature was perfect. I set up at a table with my luggage and all resting comfortably. I wanted a fast game in this AL Contest.
The Rangers lineup is deadly. They didn’t even have Napoli in the lineup and Nelson Cruz and David Murphy were the 6 and 7 hitters. Texas is scary good on offense. The Mariners looked dead the whole night other than Ichiro sprinting his tail off in some great defensive moves. The top of the 9th came around and Joe Nathan entered the game. It looked so weird with him being in the Rangers gear. I don’t think he felt great either as he proceeded to give up the lead and then the game outright. The Mariners surprised the Rangers with a 4-3 comeback. I will say this: the Mariners young players actually have a pulse now. Smoak was making good contact, Dustin Ackley looks like the real deal and Mike Saunders had some great contact. Jesus Montero is the key to that team. I really like Ichiro in the 3 hole as well. He should make great contact and drive in some runs.
After the game was over, I had a meager 5 hours at the hotel before boarding a flight to Denver.
MLB Park # 9 Day # 7
SF 5 @ COL 2
You talk about a different vibe from a different city. I felt great about Denver. I received a nice upgrade from National Car Rental and they even comped me another free day because they were unable to provide me with a car in Dallas the day before. I drove out of Denver Airport recharged and ready to tackle the city. I stopped at my Wendy’s restaurant for my chili. I then drove to Coors Field early enough to relax. I found a parking spot about a mile from the Field for $5. It was 60 degrees out and sunny. There was a nice wind blowing cold air for me to walk in. I casually made my way to the ticket office and purchased a $4 Rockpile ticket.
Once inside, I met up with fellow ballpark chaser Meg Minard. When I wrote my book “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” Meg was one of the featured chasers. The reason I picked her is because of her extensive travel history. Meg has now seen over 150 MLB and MILB Parks combined. I met her before the game for a walk around the park and a couple of pictures. While I felt great, I was tired so I told Meg that we would meet up after the game. If I felt okay, we could grab a bite to eat. If I was dog-tired I would retreat to my hotel for the night early.
Jamie Moyer was towing the hill for the Rockies. The man is incredible. At 49 years old he is still doing wind-sprints before the game. I was so ecstatic when he made the roster. I missed him by one game in Houston the previous weekend. I ended up watching the game from the main concourse just walking around. Jamie Moyer pitched like he always does, from 67-80 MPH, changing his placement of the ball and scattering out hits. If it wasn’t for Dexter Fowler botching a routine foul ball, maybe Jamie would have stayed in the game until the Rockies could hit him back in. It was still nearly a quality start with 111 pitches and 65% of them were strikes. He gave up only 2 earned runs in 5 2/3rds innings of work.
Madison Bumgarner started the game by throwing 5 no-hit innings. He would go onto lead his team to the victory. This was my second time seeing both teams. One thought I had was that the Colorado Rockies bench is really strong right now. They are playing Shawn Colvin at first which frees up Todd Helton and Jason Giambi as tough pinch hitters to face. I love this aspect about NL teams. That is why I want someone to pick up Vlad Guerrero. What team wouldn’t fear him coming in the game late to do some damage? The Phillies have Jim Thome for this role.
I felt good after the game, so Meg and I went out to the Wynecoop Brewery for a meal. I wanted to visit with Meg since it would be my only shot at it for my trip. She was very instrumental in helping me swing back into writing this winter. The letters I sent out to do potential sponsors were edited by Meg. It was a great cheesesteak dinner West-Coast Style. I am glad to have spent some time with Meg talking about baseball, travels and Denver. I walked back to my car thanking the baseball gods for giving me a nice relaxing day that followed a warpath of travel obstacles. I went back to the hotel to have a good night sleep before heading to San Francisco.
MLB Park # 10 Day # 8
PIT 0 @ SF 5
AT&T Park Season Opener
I was feeling confident about San Francisco the whole day. My flight arrived 15 minutes early. 10 minutes later and I was on the BART Train headed for downtown San Francisco. I caught a connecting bus onto 2nd street and was at the 21st Amendment Brewery to meet Tike Narry and his family. I friended Tike through Ballpark chasers.com. I was able to help him with some premium Toronto Blue Jays for half of face value the year before. When I put out my streak schedule, Tike informed me he had 4 season tickets and only 3 tickets were spoken for during this season opener. Tike saved me some serious time, money and effort and they were great seats.
Tike was with his wife Dawn, and their 7-year-old son Patrick. This family exemplifies ballpark chasers. Dawn works at O.co Coliseum for games. Tike has been a season ticket holder since AT&T Park since 2000 and has been a Giants fan forever. Tike did a most impressive job as the expert of AT&T Park. It was nice to walk the Park with this family. I think that AT&T is the best park in the Majors anyway, so they did not need to convince me of much.
The seats were in the 3rd level right behind home plate. In a touching pre-game ceremony the Giants paid respect to the 1962 NL Championship team. Willie Mays and Willie McCovey were both at the park. Jon Miller was the M.C and sounded great on the microphone. Brian Stow, the fan almost beaten to death by Dodger fans in LA last year made an appearance on the Jumbo Vision to say thanks to the SF fans for supporting him in his recovery and to coach his young son on how to throw out the 1st pitch for him.
The game was over in 2 hours and 15 minutes. It was a nice stress less game for me to watch. It wasn’t without excitement though. Matt Cain retired the 1st 17 batters before losing his perfect game by issuing up a single to the Pirates pitcher of all people. Cain would go on to be perfect the rest of the way on a 1 hit shutout. Cain struck out 11 and walked no one, a completely dominant performance. In a second occurrence for me, Aubrey Huff hit a lazer homer out to right that landed in the Ocean. It was another splash zone hit. For a game that was 70% likely to rain, we received nothing but sunshine.
The game was over at 3:45 PM. Tike and Dawn offered to take me to dinner before driving me to the airport. We stopped at this nice restaurant called Joe’s of Westlake. This place is like 3 separate restaurants into one. They have a bar/dining lounge, a family side restaurant side and a high class dining area at the other side. I had a full plate of ravioli and spaghetti. Tike and Dawn took good care of me in San Francisco as hosts and I thank them for it. The pressure was definitely off for anything. They dropped me off at the airport and wished me well, another formation of friendship that will last a long time created by the game of baseball.
I now sit in the MSP Airport in Minnesota at 6:00 AM in the morning. I am awaiting my car rental to head to my next park conquest.
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