Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Baseball Trip

Last fall, my wife and I took a week long tour of part of the country we had never visited and the impetus for this trip was to see baseball games in the respective cities. In planning the trip, I sought to see the most number of teams possible in the cities. We settled on visiting Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, and decided on games in the last week of the regular season as we figured, rightly it turned out, that the games would still be meaningful. Six games in six nights in three different cities.

We flew to Pittsburgh, hired a car, and drove to Cincinnati. Upon arrival, we were advised by our hotel, which we had booked and paid for in full in advance in JANUARY, that they cancelled our reservation and they refused to help us out. Not very welcoming. We stayed one nice in a literal roach motel in Kentucky before finding more tolerable lodgings in Mason, Ohio. We picked downtown hotels so we could just walk to and from the ballparks and enjoy the proximity of everything, and be able to go for a nap or something in the afternoon if we wanted. Mason was fine, but just a bit too far out so once we were in Cincinnati were were basically stuck. Had good food, spent a lot of time in Newport, Kentucky, and saw one game at Great American Ballpark.

We were supposed to see two, but the weather being foul, the first game against the Cubs on 29 September started about 17 hours late because of rain and because we were in Mason...well...I watched the game on the television in the hotel under blankets I was so chilled to the bone. We had freakin' sweet seats for that game too. For the game on the 30th, I was excited to see Jon Lester pitch. He pitched well and I even got to see that unicorn: a Lester hit while at bat! See other young Cubs stars like Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, and Kris Bryant was very awesome.

Our seats for the rain-delayed game were awesome
The next night we were here. Nice park.

On 1 October we drove to Cleveland happy to visit the mistake on the lake. My knowledge of these cities was scant, but this YouTube video was my only impression of Cleveland so I was nervous. I do have to say this tourism video makes me unreasonably happy.

Windy. What a miserable place this city is. Relentless wind. We saw the 1 October game with the Minnesota Twins visiting the Indiana. I forked out good money to be in the second row behind the Twins dugout and we had a nice game, cold weather notwithstanding. My biggest childhood dream came true. We gained access to the park during batting practice, explaining to the sympathetic center field gate agent off Feller Square it was our first time in the park. We looked around their "Heritage Park" before milling around the concourse there watching the end of Twins batting practice. I noticed a lefty got solid wood on the ball and tracked the arc of it: it was coming right at us. The ball cleared the center field wall, bounced off the steps in section 101 and seemingly re-lauched towards us. I watched it bounce and then took off racing in the direction it was travelling and snared it with my glove. It was only a batting practice ball; but I feel like that was probably a game ball the night before or something. Had a nice celebratory beer afterwards but my wife wouldn't let me bring it to bed.

Yours truly with his ball
Stunning close up view for 1/320th the price
of  seeing a game at Fenway Park
Joe Mauer on deck
A play at first base
Speaking of reaching bases...Did I mention there was a hooker in the room next to us?

After one miserable night's sleep dealing with hotel concierge and the pimp, we gleefully drove to Pittsburgh were, for shits, I did walking directions from our hotel to PNC Park: 49 feet. We loved Pittsburgh.The food, the fans, the ballpark. We sat in three different seats for the three games against the Reds. Friday night we sat behind Andrew McCutchen in center field; Saturday night we were behind the Pirates dugout on the third base line; and Sunday afternoon we were on the first base line but out towards right field. I've been to a lot of games in many cities and I can say hands down there are no baseball fans quite like Pittsburgh Pirates baseball fans. It's such a great environment. I'm sure it wasn't always like this, and that fielding a competitive team has much to do with it.

Everyday's like Sunday...
These games had a lot of meaning as the Wild Card spots were up for grabs between the Pirates and the Cubs. We all know how it panned out, but seeing a home-field clinching game was pretty special. Seeing the Jolly Roger raised was spectacular, as was the fire works after the Saturday night game. Staying so close the park was awesome as the length of the games really didn't matter and I could enjoy as much beer as I wanted to and just simply roll across the street. A highlight in this series was seeing Aroldis Chapman pitch. Man the guy has gas...and in quite a different way from the way I have gas. Wait, what?

More Pictures:  The Reds Hall of Fame and Museum:

With the rain pouring we visited the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum which was really wonderful. The Wall of Balls was cool; the wall of baseball cards was cooler, and seeing World Series trophies the coolest. And who doesn't love a Bo Diaz jersey?

More of Pittsburgh:

What prompted this post is that tomorrow  I'll be back in Pittsburgh for a conference (actually outside of Pittsburgh) but I'm flying in Friday so that I can see that night's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. I really never thought I'd be back so soon. To be honest, when I found out about the conference the first thing I did was check to see if the Pirates were home. This did influence my decision to attend. I'll also soon be seeing the Reds visit the Washington Nationals.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. I would have named and shamed that hotel in Cincinnati that screwed you over, especially if it is a major brand. Being a lawyer, of course, I would not have stood for that treatment and probably caused them so much heartburn by pitching a fit -- and probably a tent -- in their lobby that they would have FOUND a way to help me out.

    But that's just me. I'm a pain in the ass when I don't get treated well in customer service land.

  2. What a trip! Of course I'm biased towards PNC Park. Hopefully you can bring some luck to the Buccos tonight as they are on quite a tailspin. Have fun at the game.

  3. I'm sorry Ohio didn't treat you fair!

    Very interesting that you would up in Mason of all places as that's a good drive up 71 from Cincinnati proper. Regardless, glad to see you enjoyed the Reds Hall of Fame and that you liked the stadium. Hopefully it didn't dissuade you from visiting again. If you do visit again, a friendly tip , Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport is one of the most expensive for flights as far as major airlines go. Dayton International Airport is a good bit cheaper from what I've heard. Dayton is a fantastic city and it's a straight shot down I-75 to Cincinnati from Dayton.

    As far as Cleveland goes, it's a fairly nice city around the ballpark area. I definitely recommend checking out West Side Market next time your there. Also, the weather there is terrible and completely unpredictable in the fall, especially when you get the winds blowing in off Lake Erie. You could have a nice day in the 60s and 70s and the next day could be snowing and in the 30s.

    Let me know next time you decide to visit Ohio and I'll give you some recommendations about where to stay and what to check out.

  4. I have to say that's a nice little trip.. I've only seen games in Toronto and Minneapolis (At the Metrodome) but am fascinated by ballparks in general.