I broke my old record of 24 days by being-Fastest to see all 30 MLB parks in 23 days from April 6th to 28th!
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MLB Park # 22 Day # 17
TEX @ DET
Douglas ‘Chuck’ Booth (Baseball Writer)-The passenger exchange was made at 4:30 AM near the Forrest Lawn Oasis. I jumped from the car that Ken Lee was in to Bob Devries rental car. We were on our way to Comerica Park via Highway 94. Through the course of the drive, Bob and I realized we know everything there is to know about rental cars. I rent cars for 365 days a year and Bob rents cars every weekend. It is not often people can relate to all of my car rental stories. I haven’t even owned a car since 2009. If the market was ever to drastically change I would be out of a job and a car. The day was going to be sunny from our drive in. After arriving into town early we headed towards HockeyTown and Cheli’s. We then moved onwards to a Bar Called ‘Bookies’ off of Elizabeth Street. This bar was ideal because it was where we parked for $5.
I had a BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with curly fries inside the Sandwich. It was tasty and hit the spot. Bob had the local IPA Beer. About an hour later we met up with the Salter Family (Joe, Dianne, Anthony, Jake and Robert). These guys have been part of every one of my streaks. I met them 1st in 2008 at PNC Park when I almost broke the World Record the first time around. In 2009, the Salter’s were there with me front and center when MLB Park #30 was completed at Comerica. I call these guys my good luck ‘surrogate’ baseball family. I was happy that Bob was there to meet them as well. We all took pictures and headed up to our seats.
Comerica Park is listed as #5 in my baseball book for a reason. The Park has an incredible aura of history, is great for taking picturesque shots in the daytime and especially at night. The food is also good. We sat in the 300 section and had plenty of space. The seats all end in a degree angle where they meet other sections. This kind of concept should be a no brainer for clubs to follow as it leads to a lot more room for the end of the row tickets. Bob and I were privy to these exact seats. It is almost like extended seats.We also had a chance to meet Andrew DeBaeremaker and his friend Scott from Toronto. Such a thing as social media these days that it makes it so easy to connect with anyone. Andrew was responsible for setting me up with A Nationally aired Sports Interview on CTV Sports in Canada. Bob and I met these guys in a cold and chilly concourse and we talked it up about: baseball, travel and Canadian issues while traveling in the USA.
I was happy to be in attendance for yet another Texas Rangers baseball game. Josh Hamilton continued his mastery of hitting with a belted homer to the right field stands early. This would be a game in which he had 3 more hits and a sacrifice fly. The guy is the Natural. I saw a tweet that made perfect sense; “Josh Hamilton is the modern-day Mickey Mantle.” I think truer words may never have been spoken. The game was long and slowed by some cold weather. Where we had seats the sun was helping out with the warmth. It was a good omen to have the only section where we did not freeze. Bob left just before the 7th inning stretch. It will not be the last time I see Bob as there is a Social Media Suite in Cleveland that is hosting he, Lori Martini, Ken Lee and I for the game on Wednesday April.25.
The game went extra before mercifully ending in the 11th inning with the Rangers taking the game 4-3. I was beginning to doze off. Something about being extra jet lagged and traveling another 1000 miles in 2 days tends to do that after already logging nearly 45000 Air Miles in the air. The Salters and I then headed to Malarkey Sports Bar in grill on the south side of Detroit near where they live in Flat Rock. It was an awesome pizza dinner and was a great chance to catch up with these guys. Later that evening, Anthony Salter drove me the hour and a half north to the Flint Michigan Airport. Since I had to cancel a flight with Air Tran, this was my only way to fly into San Francisco. I would still have to drive to Oakland.
MLB Park # 23 Day # 18
4 CWS @ OAK 0
One of the things that I can’t control on these kind of trips is when the travel sector lets me down. On the previous week to this trip I had my jacket stolen right out off of a flight to Minnesota. I never had a chance to replace the jacket until I flew into San Francisco this morning. My one way car rental had me starting the day in San Francisco and returning the car to Oakland International Airport in the morning. It is a free airport to airport deal I discovered through National Car Rental in the States of California and Florida. Now that I had several hours before the 1st pitch in Oakland, I was able to spend some time down on the Fisherman’s Wharf.
I parked on the street for a few dollars and proceeded to buy 2 San Francisco jackets and a named brand pair of shoes for under $50. The Pier 39 area always has superb prices for high quality clothing. This is exactly why I waited until SF for purchasing new items. I had ripped up my dress shoes while sprinting for double-header attempts. There are always Casualties of War on the road such as this. I have a motto adapted from my old man, ‘replace it right away and just keep moving on. You are on vacation so you may have to buy some new things.’ I also ate at one of the best restaurants in the world in the Boudin Sourdough Restaurant. They have the best bread on the planet.
With a full stomach I made my way to Oakland. This is the 30th ranked facility in the Majors. There is no dressing this park up in any fashion. To make matter worse, the club staff always seems to have attitude even though are only pockets of people at the game that care about the team. The game itself was not a bad pitching matchup with Jake Peavey against Bartolo Colon (who has found the fountain of youth). Halfway through the game Adam Dunn launched a gargantuan blast into the right field stand for the lead. Adam Dunn is showing everyone that he can put last years utter catastrophe behind him and be a contributing factor to the White Sox.
I also was able to see Yoenis Cespedes in the flesh for the first time. This kid can swing it like “Helen Keller” at a pinata party. He will strike out 200 times this year and probably club 30 HRs for the team. I am also thinking he will end with a Jack Cust like .240 average. Still this was a good signing for the Athletics. Everyone will always watch this kids at bats with sheer excitement. I think the A’s are made the right decision to scale the roster back even more until they have a new stadium to support a bigger payroll. Give the Rangers and Angels 3 or 4 more years to age and then take a run at the AL West. There was no real danger of missing anything this night. I parked for free at the game and had a short drive to the Concord Best Western to stay. The next day was yet another single game to attend.
MLB Park #24 Day # 19
5 LAA @ TB 0
I like Tropicana Field. It may be the 29th ranked baseball park amongst experts, but it is a family atmosphere inside and quite cozy. The team has been one of the better on field performers in the last 5 years. Solid ownership and crafty scouting has this team competing with the big boys. I flew all the way from Oakland to arrive at Tampa International Airport at 4:00 PM sharp. The drive in was aided by an awesome car rental from National. I was fully upgraded to a Nissan Altima that only had 5000 miles on it and drove smooth. After another hearty meal at Wendy’s that featured a family sized chili(both healthy and put out the vibe for stadium purchases) I secured a great parking spot for $5 just up the street.
The game was not going to be threatened by rain and for this I was happy. There are certain two-day stretches in every streak where I give myself a reprieve from bad weather chances. When you put Oakland and Tampa Bay back to back this late in the game it helps to be in warm climates. I was seeing David Price pitch on this night, so this was another reason to be excited. It is my belief that he may be the best young Left Handed Pitcher in the game today. Price continues to gain confidence every year.
It is weird to see Albert Pujols struggle so much in this early season. In fact, heading into the month of May, I have the exact amount of home runs of as the big slugger. I will tell you who was hitting the hell out of the ball that night. Carlos Pena, Luke Scott, Desmond Jennings and B.J Upton all hit solo home runs. Seeing this game almost reminded me of the game I watched on TV in 1987 in which the Toronto Blue Jays pounded out a Major League Record 10 home runs at Exhibition Stadium. It is still kind of rare to see a game in which a team hits 4 home runs. I kind of liked it. I was happy the game ended on time and I made it back to a free upgrade from Best Western. It was a smooth game and end of three consecutive days where I only had to watch single games in three straight days.