Tagged: Baseball Trips

Road Trip To NYC – Yankees Lose! Yankees Lose! BAAAAHHHHHHH Yankees Lose!

Heard in the stands at today’s game:

“Get Your Brooms Out!”

“We didn’t even make them hit the ball, we beat ourselves”

“We get a great start and the bullpen blows it.”

“The middle of our lineup did nothing today. They looked terrible.”

“One game we hit, the next we pitch, we just can’t put it all together”

“It’s going to be a long season”

Take heart Ranger fans, I was in Yankee Stadium today listening to the Yankee faithful doing their Ranger fan impersonation. I have heard all these lines before in Arlington night after night. It was nice to hear a different fan base using the same old lines. After the euphoric high of sweeping the Red Sox this week, the Yanks got swept at home by the Angels, prompting calls for changes in the Big Apple. Coupled with the Red Sox sweep of the Rangers, the three games gained earlier this week went right back to the Sox.

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Torre shuffled his lineup again, moving Abreu down and giving Damon and Posada a day off. The meat of the Yankee lineup, Matsui, Arod and Giambi continued to struggle, going a combined oh for 11 off John Lackey. Back up catcher Will Nieves entered the game hitting .037 on the season with one RBI. Today he looked like an all-star going 2 for 2 and driving in the first two Yankee runs to stake them to a 2-0 lead. Mussina struck out the first 4 batters of the game and although he allowed a single, he was still facing the minimum number of batters to begin the 5th inning. Later in the 5th, he yielded 4 of the total of 5 hits off him, allowing the Angels to cut the lead to 2-1.

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The first three times Vlad Guererro came to the plate, it was with two out and nobody on base. I commented to my wife that this is the way to beat the Angels – keep the bit players off the bases in front of Vlad. That has been a recipe for success for most teams. When you have Gary Matthews batting cleanup, you do not have a powerful lineup.

With one out in the 7th, Mussina issued his only free pass of the day and despite a pitch count of only 95, Joe Torre yanked him and brought in Scott Proctor. I mentioned to my wife that this is Angel’s chance because the Yankees middle relief has been terrible. Sure enough, the next batter doubled and then Proctor walked the next 3 hitters, forcing in 2 runs, blowing the game for Mussina and earning himself a big black “L” facing 4 batters and retiring none. A sacrifice fly tallied another run, which proved to be the eventual game winner.

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After John Lackey sailed through the 8th inning, I was thinking they might let him finish the game, but K-Rod began warming up right as the Angels came in to bat in the 9th, so that wasn’t going to happen. K-Rod was less than stellar, allowing an immediate walk, allowing a bloop single to Posada and then Damon grounded to first, advancing both runners. Cabrerra flied out to score one run and advance Posada to third, bringing Derek Jeter to the plate with two out and the tying run 90 feet away. As the crowd stood, chanting DER-EK JE-TER, DER-EK, JE-TER, he worked K-Rod hard, fouling off many pitches, but eventually flying out to send all the Yankee “faithful” home searching for answers and praying that the Rocket will soon come to their rescue.

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Yankee Stadium is a special place to watch a game. We got there 2 hours before the game started to walk around the BallPark, look at the t-shirts (always fun) and check out the monuments. My favorite t-shirts dealt mostly with the hated Red Sox. There was the obligatory “Got Rings” and a few curse words or hand gestures, but my favorite was a blue shirt with Red Sox style lettering saying 2090 – implying that given their years required to win the last World Series, that’s the next year they are due. It’s not family friendly, but I still laughed at another shirt with Red Sox style lettering stating “Manny loves Big Papi’s Little Wee-Wee”. The Yankee’s current slogan “Where Great Players Become Legends” is truer than most opposing fans would ever care to admit. They do a good job of flaunting their past glory to intimidate the other team, but when it came down to crunch time, the Angels didn’t buy into the hype.

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We saw where the new Yankee Stadium is being built. Frankly, I think this is the worst use of $1 Billion that I have ever seen. Yankee Stadium is truly a Cathedral of Baseball, however the seating is modern, it has great sight lines, and it just works on all sorts of levels. The only reason I can fathom for a new stadium is greed. A desire to squeeze more money out of “corporate” fans and leave less room for the average fan, adding luxury boxes and increasing the number of expensive seats while reducing the overall capacity. I just don’t understand shrinking the stadium size in a city with 10 Million people. People love the Yankees such that they could sell out every date. Even though I have always supported several new stadium projects, if I were a citizen of New York, I would be upset with the resources that are going to be wasted on this project. I don’t understand why they couldn’t convert the loge seats to luxury boxes and make other refurbishments. What a waste of money! A billion dollars could do so much more good elsewhere.

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I was very impressed by the New York fans. Although they were almost as quick as Philly fans to boo, (dropped foul balls got you booed, also walking in the tying and lead run got you booed, but anyone who does that should be booed lustfully) overall they were pretty congenial. Several of them were actually seen being very friendly with some hard core Angels fans prior to the game. The ballpark was 99.95% Yankees fans with nearly everyone having the colors or logo on display.

What a stark contrast to the Yankee fans that show up at Ranger games. The obnoxious transplanted fan is obviously a different breed, who is forced to be as annoying as possible because they have other difficulties that are best not investigated too deeply. I ALMOST found myself rooting for Jeter to get a hit in the 9th, but let’s not get ridiculous. I felt good as Gary Matthews squeezed the final out, and was upset that my wife didn’t let me bring the small broom I threatened to bring to the game.

Tomorrow we head to Boston in the morning. Let’s see how their fans compare to the New York fans. I am so glad I was not at the Ballpark in Arlington on Sunday. The obnoxious Red Sox transplant fans have been coming out of the woodwork since 2004 and I can not think of anyone I would have wanted to listen to less – unless there was a marathon medley of the “Jukebox from ****” featuring such hits as “Kung Fu Fighting”, “Funkytown”, “Seasons in the Sun”, and my all time worst song ever, “Wildfire” by Michael Murphy.

Go Tribe!

Hitless Wanderings to Visit New York and Boston (and I need your help – please leave comments!)

Last year’s Ballpark tour is being followed up by a brief trip to see three old ballparks that I have never seen in person. I am really looking forward to this trip. I thank my wife for coming along with me (voluntarily) to visit these Cathedrals of Baseball. Here is the agenda for our “quickie” East coast baseball trip:
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Sunday 1:00 – Angels at Yankees – I was able to get cheap tickets on EBAY, so we don’t have great seats. We are in the Upper Terrance right behind home plate. We will be getting there early so we can walk around the Stadium and get some pictures. We plan on taking the ferry from Hoboken to Yankee Stadium. Has anyone ever done that?

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Monday 7:05 Indians at Red Sox – My friend was not able to help me out with reasonable tickets. I know Boston is sold out for the entire season but was hoping there would be something reasonable out there. I haven’t found them yet. We aren’t driving to Boston and then not go to the game, but I don’t really want to pay $100 per ticket for lousy seats. Where is the place near the ballpark where scalpers congregate to sell tickets? Do I need to be concerned about the police? Our hotel is in Cambridge. I was planning on walking to Fenway and taking a cab back that night. Should we walk back or is that too dangerous? The map I used says its 2 miles from Fenway to my hotel.

Tuesday – We are going to be in Boston most of the following day and wanted to see the sights. We plan on walking the Freedom Trail. Are there any other must-see places or must-sample food (besides Chowder)?

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Wednesday 7:05 Giants at Mets – We were able to get a good deal on mezzanine tickets right behind home plate. Our tickets allow us access to the Diamond Club. Is that worth eating there? We aren’t really planning on spending much time around Shea, but we were going to check out the US Open Tennis site nearby. We have to park our rental car at Shea. Any advice on that?

I am looking for offbeat things around the parks that will be unique to that location. We planned on hitting a sports bar or two around Fenway and then hanging out just beyond the monster while the teams take batting practice. I am expecting it to be a carnival atmosphere on Memorial Day at Fenway.

One idea I had was getting a Yankees and Red Sox t-shirt, and then wearing the “wrong” one to each ballpark. I might learn some new cuss words or other “colorful” language. It might also answer the age old question – “Are Yankee or Red Sox fans more obnoxious?” While driving around New York we will visit all 5 boroughs, so at least I can say I have been to all of them now.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

I will try to add something to my blog every day while on the trip.

Return of Hitless Wanderings

I have not blogged since the World Series, but I missed writing my reports. The big news is that my wife and I will be making a brief baseball trip during Memorial Day weekend. Last year over the week of Memorial Day, we took the family on a driving vacation through the Midwest, stopping at major league cities along the way, watching 7 games in 6 ballparks in 8 days. We saw games at Wrigley, Comerica, Rogers Center, Jacobs Field, New Comiskey and New Busch Stadium.
Here is the link to that trip which was the featured blog on MLBlogs.com for 2 days last year.

Our trip this year less than half of last year, but I have never been to a game at any of the three stadiums. It’s hard to believe I have never seen games here, but something was always getting in the way. I still give my beautiful wife grief that I struck out when the Rangers played a playoff game in Yankee Stadium while we were in town. I had to go to the rehearsal dinner for my brother-in-law’s wedding – and I wasn’t even in the bridal party!!!! (Just married to a bridesmaid.)

A family friend had some airline tickets that were due to expire by June1. He was willing to let us use them for free, so Gaye and I can’t let them go to waste. Now I just have to figure out getting tickets without breaking the bank. This is important since I am between jobs right now. Without any business from a dead 2006 hurricane season, I worked my way out of a job, collecting the A/R until the lack of business caused my work to dry up. My former employer treated me well and I certainly understand what they are going through. If you know anyone who needs a Treasurer / VP Finance / CFO type to help them squeeze more cash out of their business or plan for the future, let me know.

Gaye’s teaching isn’t done until May 25, so we had to wait until Saturday to travel. I have plenty of time, so the return date isn’t that important, but I need to get back to my job networking. I was really excited when I saw the schedule for the days we will be there. Here are the three games we will attend:

Sunday May 27 – Angels at Yankees

Monday May 28 – Indians at Red Sox

Wednesday May 30 – Giants at Mets

This could be a preview of the playoffs, although I think the wild card will probably come from the Central. In our NL tilt, Barry Bonds will be sure to draw a crowd as well. Although I have been to New York several times, I have never been to Boston. I am looking forward to going there and find out if people really talk that funny there.

Fantasy Baseball 2007

The GDML (General Dynamics Memorial League) began its 17th season this year. I am in my 3rd year as commish. My team has had several injuries, but none of them has been season-ending, so I guess it’s not too bad. One of my few heavy hitters is Jim Thome, who will be coming off the DL shortly. Thome is my homeboy, coming from Peoria, Illinois where I grew up playing baseball every day. I played on an American Legion team with Thome’s cousin and briefly dated another cousin of his. I have always loved Jim’s desire and respect for the game. He is definitely “old school” like me. Baseball could use a lot more players like Jim.

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You have got to love the Bossman.

The rest of my team is almost exclusively “phenoms” – younger guys with huge upside. Over the past 3 years, one guy I have projected for greatness is the Bossman – B.J. Upton. He has always had a major league bat, but has been a man without a position. Kind of reminds me of my own playing days as a barely passable 2B in high school, who converted to OF / 1B in college, but still rarely played the field, primarily playing at DH in college. My other phenoms are Delmon Young, Curtis Granderson, Ryan Shealy (who has killed me until he got hurt), Rocco Baldelli, Adam Lind, Ryan Garko and Billy Butler (just picked up off the waiver wire – expecting big things!). It’s a pretty deep AL only league, so any promising player is snapped up pretty quick. My BA is also getting killed by the slow starts of Jermaine Dye and AJ Pierzynski.

My pitching staff consists of 6 solid starters, 2 middle reliever and 2 closers with one of them on the DL still (Dotel). My starters are Kelvim Escobar, Jose Contreras, Nate Robertson, Ervin Santana, Cliff Lee and Curt Schilling. Other than a bad game by Nate yesterday, they are all starting to hit their stride. Both Lee and Escobar pitched complete game shutouts today so I am pretty excited. After not getting a save opportunity for three weeks, Seattle has been winning and my closer, J.J. Putz has been getting some saves. I picked up Jason Frazor, who has added a few saves and could get some more with BJ out for the season.

Get ready for some posts to get me ready for my trip and some more Ranger talk.

By the way – The Rangers finally beat the Yankees today. Hopefully Tex and company will snap out of it.

Ballpark Tour Ends!

From May 27 to June 3 we made the following trip which had the following tally:
2100 miles added to the rental van, 133 hits, 63 runs scored, 9 errors, 8 days, 7 games, 6 ballparks, 5 different cities, 4 happy family members, 3 one-run games, 2 grand slams and one intact marriage.

We will never forget our vacation of 2006!

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Saturday May 27- Wrigley Field, Chicago – Braves 2 Cubs 1 – Two rookie pitchers, wind blowing in. Both teams playing for one run, no runs scored after the second inning. Cubs botch relay throw which allows winning run to score. WP – Ramirez LP – Marshall SV- Remlinger – Non-baseball attraction – Second City Comedy Troupe Performance

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Comerica was pretty hot that day and the pool was calling us.

Sunday May 28 – Comerica Park – Detroit – Indians 9 Tigers 0 – Sweltering upper 90 degree, day game. A homer by Travis Hafner and a granny by Jason Michaels buries Tigers win streak. Jason Johnson and 5 relief pitchers combine for shutout. WP – Johnson LP – Rogers – Non- baseball attraction – Watching Mavs beat Suns in game 3 on TV

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Skydome is a massive ballpark. I would love to hear what it’s like when it is full of cheering fans!

Monday May 29 – Rogers Centre – Toronto – Jays 7 Red Sox 6 – Sox rally to tie game in the bottom of the 8th on a three run jack by Jason Varitek. Jays score 1 in 9th and BJ shuts the door. WP – Ryan – LP – Riske – Non-baseball attraction – Hockey Hall of Fame

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After the customs snafu, we still had time to admire the majesty of Niagara Falls.

Tuesday May 30 – Rogers Centre – Toronto – Jays 8 Red Sox 5 – Veron Wells hits 3 HRs and Troy Glaus adds 2, but the game isn’t over until BJ Ryan comes on to shut down the Sox in the 8th and 9th. WP – Chacin LP – Beckett SV- Ryan – Non-baseball attraction – Niagara Falls

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The Jake was my favorite ballpark. A great balance of old and modern design, unique touches and a great scoreboard. Oh yeah, the beer was cheaper there too!

Wednesday May 31 – Jacobs Field – Cleveland – Indians 5 White Sox 0 – Jake Westbrook stymies the Sox as Ben Brousard supplies the power. WP – Westbrook LP – Garcia – Non-baseball attraction – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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U-505 exhibit of a German U-Boat buried underground in the museum. Just the idea of getting it there is amazing!

Thursday June 1 – Off day in Chicago – Museum of Science & Industry – Stay in same hotel as Ranger team and meet Ranger broadcaster, Josh Lewin

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Gaye’s cousin Ryan joins us for the Sox game.

Friday June 2 – US Cellular Field – Chicago – Rangers 4 White Sox 3 – Rangers rally to tie the game in the 7th and win it in the 9th behind GMJ who scored the game tying run in the 7th and drove in the game winner in the ninth. WP – Cordero LP- McCarthy SV-Otsuka – Non-Baseball activity – Shopping at Water Tower place on the magnificent mile.

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Stan the Man still graces the new ballpark
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I grew up going to Busch Stadium. New Busch stadium appears to be a huge improvement on a classic.

Saturday June 3 – Busch Stadium – St. Louis – Cubs 8 Cardinals 5 – A slam by Aramis Ramirez and a 2 run jack by the newly acquired Phil Nevin powers Cubs. Albert Pujols hurts back and leaves game in third. Game was not as close as it looked as STL scored 2 in ninth. WP – Rusch LP – Mulder SV- Howry – Non-baseball activity – walk to arch, travel to the top in a tram and look out over St. Louis, dinner at Charlie Gitto’s on the Hill.

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This picture was taken inside the arch at the very peak of the observation area.
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Sunday June 4 – Home to Arlington.

Rivalry talk – Hello Win Column!

Before I post the last enrty for our Ballpark trip, you really need to understand the Cardinal / Cubs rivalry. Over the past decade, the highlighted rivalry in Baseball has been Yankees / Red Sox, but when I was going up in the Midwest, we couldn’t have cared less about either team. It was all about the Cardinals and the Cubs.
I grew up in Peoria, Illinois in the 60’s and early 70’s when every game was not on television and most people listened to games on the radio. Peora is halfway beteewn Chicago and St. Louis and the fans were split fairly evenly between Cubs and Cardinal fans (no one rooted for the White Sox – if you did, you were weird). My dad would get tichets 4 or 5 times a year and we would drive to St. Louis (rarely did we go to Wrigley, but we did sometimes) and watch a few weekend games or maybe a scheduled double header. Without looking any of this up, I can still recite the Cubs and Cardinals teams from that era:

The Cubs were managed by Leo “the Lip” Duroscher and they had Ernie Banks at first, Glen Beckett at 2B, Don Kessinger at SS, Ron Santo at 3B, Billy Williams, Jim Hickman and Johnny Callison??? in the OF and Randy Hundley catching. Their best pitchers were Fergie Jenkins and Ken Holtzman.

The Cardinals were managed by Red Schondienst, with Orlando Cepeda at 1B, Julian Javier at 2B, Dal Maxvill at SS, Mike Shannon at 3B, Lou Brock, Curt Flood and Roger Maris in the OF and Tim McCarver catching. The top pitchers were Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, Nellie Brieles (sp), Larry Jaster and Barney Schultz.

The announcing teams were also hall of fame calibre with the Cubs having Jack Brickhouse & Milo Hamilton with the Cardinals having the memorable duo of Harry Cary and Jack Buck. Ask any Cardinal fan of that era what 2 words they hated the most. It would have to be Hey Hey! which was the Brickhouse HR call and was flashed on the screen when WGN began televising games. Most people think of Harry Cary as the Cubs announcer, but I will always remember him for his Cardinal years. My favorite phrase of his was: “It might be, it could be, it is …a home run!”

My favorite player was Lou Brock. He could hit for power in addition to stealing you blind. If he was getting on base, the Cardinals were a different team. What made it even more great was that the Cubs traded him to the Cardinals for a washed-up Ernie Brollio in one of the best trades in baseball history. The Cubs never seemed to have a regular left fielder for many years and we always remembered to thank the Cubs for giving us Lou Brock. It was also great to see either Gibson or Carlton pitch. Gibson was a true warrior who would do whatever it takes to beat you.

When I was growing up you were either a Cubs or Cardinal fan. There was no in bewteen. We loved to mention the Cardinals world serices championships of ’64 and ’67, plus remind the Cubs of their monumental choke in ’69 and other years.

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Hello Win Column!
It was a little weird rooting for our Texas Rangers in enemy territory on Friday night. The Rangers rallied to tie the game in the 7th and take the lead in the ninth, before holding off the Sox for a 4-3 win. The hero was GMJ (Gary Matthews Jr.) who scored the tying run and drove in the game winner. Kameron Loe was great except the one “meltdown” inning when he allowed the Sox their only 3 runs of the game. Rick Bauer pitched a strong inning, striking out 3 and walking 1 (and we thought he had him struck out too). The Ranger’s offense still hasn’t started hitting on all cylinders. Its amazing that they still lead the West, even though their offense has been in an extended slumber. It was great to see Ian Kinsler back in the lineup. Jason Botts had a bad game, but he has to be able to hit better than Nevin did in May.

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US Cellular Field’s new look with the green seats is a great improvement over the former “blue look” it used to have. I used to think it was the ugliest of the ballparks built in the 90’s and after, but after seeing its new look, it has been improved and now isn’t dead last.

What costs $2 at Wrigley, $2.50 in Detroit, $5 in Toronto, $0 in Cleveland, $1.00 at US Cellular and $2.50 at new Busch? A scorecard – we always like to keep score. In Toronto (like Arlington) there is only a thick yearbook. At the rest of the ballparks, they had a plain scorecard. I was shocked in Cleveland when we were handed a flyer with a scorecard in it for free! The Cardinal scorecard has really gone down hill. When I was a kid, they had them pre-printed with the probable lineups and pitchers in them. I understand that no one does that anymore. The Cardinal scorecard is now the worst of all the scorecards in that it did not have blocks for pitching statistics – just a spot to show the batting results of the pitchers. It also didn’t have the numbers of the pitchers on other teams, so we had to guess who was pitching on the out of town scoreboard. I guess they sold too many advertisements, so the pitching stats had to go!

Tomorrow, the full report on Cub / Cardinals and a wrap up of the midwest ballpark tour!

Cleveland Rocks!

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The Houks are the toast of Cleveland after witnessing their second shutout within a week. On Sunday, we watched Jason Johnson and 5 relievers hold the red hot Tigers scoreless. Today, the defending world champs, meekly failed to score off Jake Westbrook and two of the same relievers. When will the Tribe be inviting us to all of their games? The Tribe got an early lead and never looked back. The White Sox never got much a rally going at all despite a few early hits.

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We really like the Jake. It has a great Jumbotron, rivaling Toronto’s massive scoreboard. The modern look of the ballpark intermixed with some retro touches works really well. We particularly liked the look of the light standards, the stadium club down the RF line and the field level luxury suites. We also parked for a much more reasonable price and beers were much less expensive that in Detroit or Toronto.

Logistical Problems
In a previous entry, I mentioned that we didn’t have our digital camera when we were in Toronto, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Through a packing mishap we left the following items in Detroit: my laptop, blackberry, all charger cords for phones. Digital camera, spare film camera, and my CPAP machine (I can’t sleep very well without it). That is why we had such a difficult with updating the blog and adding more photos.

To add insult to injury, we stupidly had the box shipped to Toronto since we were scheduled to be there 2 days. If you have ever shipped anything internationally overnight, my hat is off to you. After our packages failed to arrive at the hotel on Wednesday morning, we drove to the airport. After visiting Fed Ex, then customs, then back to Fed Ex, we got our package after wasting about 3 hours.

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Money Issues
I don’t usually carry much cash, preferring to use credit cards for almost everything and using an ATM if desperate. In our last day in Toronto, I didn’t want to use the ATM because I didn’t want a bunch of excess Canadian dollars to convert back. Unfortunately, the concession stands that sell beer don’t take plastic, so all of our currency went toward beer. With our rush to Cleveland from the Toronto customs, we were running late for the game and didn’t want to stop and get cash. The same problem occurred in Cleveland. We didn’t want to wait in the ATM line and miss the game! We ended up borrowing cash from the boys to buy concessions (beer). We were down to our last dollar by the end of the game. I was just hoping the road to our hotel wasn’t a toll road.

Harold and Kumar have nothing on the Houks
Since we had limited funds and flew from Toronto to Cleveland, after the game everyone was starved. Seeking to lets the kids experience another Midwest institution, we set out to locate a White Castle. We got directions from the hotel and were off. Like our fast food craving heroes, we were not well prepared. We overshot the exit and had to backtrack about 3 miles. As we started to backtrack, it started to pour down sheets of rain. Undeterred, we then realized we had no cash, so we found an ATM. Finally we found the right road and in 2 miles, White Castle appeared. 30 Sliders later we were headed back to the room for a long needed rest.

Road Trip
We had previously crossed Pittsburgh off the ballpark tour because we didn’t know if we could handle a Bucs – Brewers game. June 1 was a potential off day, but we thought about going back to Detroit to see them play the Yankees. Since we had the customs snafu, we missed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so we plan on seeing that June 1 and maybe drift down to Canton for the Pro Football HOF. We would have visited Cooperstown yesterday, but we have been there twice in the past 4 years and felt we needed to press on rather than drive out of way. I could spend the whole day there.

The Rocket Signs with Houston
This didn’t really surprise me. Despite the disinformation out of New York that he was signing with the Yankees, I expected him to sign with Houston all along. After all, he could have signed with the Yankees, Red Sox or Rangers right after the WBC. He had to wait to sign with Houston. The Yankees and Red Sox have their World Series titles. Houston doesn’t. His kids just finished school and he needed something to do, so why not try to bring a title to his hometown?

How did I find out about this? Mitchell Green, the person behind “the Hated Full Count” a team in our Fantasy baseball league, called me crying that not only had Roger signed with the Astros, but that the Rangers had traded Phil Nevin. Mitch had the rights to Clemens if he signed in the AL, so the rest of our league is glad the Rocket signed with Houston.

More on our off day tomorrow before heading back to Chicago to see the Rangers and White Sox.

Vernon, Troy and BJ Steal the Show

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Arlington native Vernon Wells put on a power display last night, blasting 3 HR’s off Josh Beckett (2) and David Riske. Troy Glaus added two dingers and BJ Ryan was the pitching hero again.

Vernon Wells is a no-brainer AL All Star outfielder. He is currently hitting .325 with 15 dingers and 43 RBI’s. In addition, he is a great defensive CF. Monday night a ball was blasted directly over his head. He sprinted toward the wall and made the catch look easy even though it’s the toughest play for an outfielder.

The addition of Troy Glaus is critical to Vernon’s success. Since the departure of Delgado, teams could pitch around Wells, forcing him to be less selective. This year, he has Glaus batting behind him, so the free passes will not be happening. In addition, having the speedy Alex Rios on base in front of him forces pitchers to throw more fastballs and use a slide step delivery.

Even with Wells and Glaus providing the firepower, the game was anything but won through the middle innings. With Chacin coming off the DL and throwing a lot of pitches early, it would be up to the shaky Jays bullpen to hold the lead. Jamie Walker and Scott Downs weren’t the answer, allowing an HR to Trot Nixon, a single to Gonzales and THREE WALKS IN A ROW. Jason Frazor came on to retire Varitek to end the threat. After Josh Beckett got chased in the 5th after allowing 7ER on 10 hits, the Red Sox bullpen of Tavarez and Seanez held the Jays in check.

In the 8th, it was Déjà vu all over again. Monday night, with the Jays leading by three with two out in the 8th inning, BJ Ryan was ready in the bullpen, but Gibbons elected to stay with Justin Speier to face Jason Varitek. The result was a 3 run, game-tying HR. Tuesday night, with a two run lead and Varitek striding to the plate with two on and BJ ready in the pen, Gibbons yanked Speier to bring in BJ. Three swings later the inning was over. After Wells added an insurance run on a laser beam home run off David Riske, BJ retired three Sox in the ninth like he was taking out the garbage.

Speaking of All Stars, BJ’s current stats are 12 of 13 save opportunities, an ERA of 0.69, 31 K’s in 26 IP, 18 base runners and 2 earned runs. He was the real hero last night. For those of you who don’t think having a good closer matters, the last two nights made believers out of Toronto fans. BJ is fast becoming a Jays fans favorite, plus it’s fun chanting BJ!

It was another disappointing crowd last night with only 27,000 in attendance. The most noise in the ballpark was made by a visiting Scottish field hockey team that was singing and chanting even though they had no idea what was going on. This is the first time I have ever sat next to someone wearing a kilt at a baseball game.

Earlier in the day we visited the Hockey Hall of Fame. Today we leave for Cleveland to see the Rock and Roll hall of fame before watching the Tribe and the White Sox do battle.

Kudos to my wife for being so supportive about this trip. We all know that if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy! The next picture is me with the World’s Greatest Blue Jay fan.

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