Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Look Out Cleveland

This begins the Summer of '04 series, chronicling my first serious baseball road trip. The italicized passages are notes that I've added after the fact. The rest is taken word-for-word, or paraphrased from, the journal I kept on this trip.

Friday, June 11

Today is the day...the beginning of my five-ballparks-in-seven-days tour of the Midwest. Unfortunately, I suffered a slight setback Wednesday night when I sprained my right foot sliding into third base during a softball game. Right now, I'm on crutches, but I've healed so quickly thus far that I doubt I'll need them for long.

Interestingly enough, when I hurt my foot/ankle during the game, I walked it off and remained in the game, playing the outfield, in fact. Later that night, after a few post-game drinks at the bar, I was limping a little, but that paled in comparison to when I woke up in the middle of the night writhing in pain.

The following morning, I called SMB, my teammate, co-worker, neighbor, and closest member of my urban family, who then drove me to the hospital. Later, when I informed the emergency room doctor of the trip I had planned, he essentially said to me that he probably should tell me not to go, but that if he were me, he'd still make the trip.

My first game is tomorrow night in Cleveland. They're playing Cincinnati, and Ken Griffey Jr. is two home runs shy of 500 for his career. Today, my goal is to drive across Massachusetts and upstate New York and spend the night near Rochester.

Later...after a productive day of driving (almost 400 miles), I make it to the vicinity of Rochester and find a motel room near Victor, New York. While driving, I was thinking about the possibility of adding a sixth game to my schedule. Unfortunately, there are no games in Milwaukee or Chicago on Monday—my open day between Detroit and St. Louis—so Philadelphia next Saturday appears to be my only real option.

Today's musical highlight was Matthew Ryan's Mayday. I haven't listened to this one in a while, but I still love it, and it's an excellent selection for a rural road trip. I watch SportsCenter from my motel room, but fall asleep while the Reds game is in extra innings, with Griffey still stuck on 498.

Saturday, June 12
I'm on the road from Victor to Cleveland for tonight's Reds-Indians game. I'm torn between rooting for Junior to hit two home runs or none, since I'll be seeing him again in Cincinnati next Thursday.

I make great time on Saturday, and arrive at my motel in the western suburbs of Cleveland—giving me a bit of a head start on tomorrow's driving—about five hours before game time. It's also worth noting that, by this point, I'd abandoned the use of the crutches. Although that's in part due to quick healing, it's also because getting in and out of the car while hopping on one foot is a royal pain in the ass.

Also of interest, although not necessarily in a good way, is that I ran the New York City Marathon twice in the four years prior to the injury. I don't think I've run any longer than five miles at one time since. On the upside (sort of), as I've felt my knees deteriorate in recent years, I realize that being forced to curtail, and eventually give up, running was probably my body's built-in defense mechanism.

I arrive at Jacobs Field a few hours early, so I head to a nearby sports bar called Alice Cooper'stown. I try the Eliot Ness from Great Lakes Brewing Company. I'm told it's a pale ale, but it seems more like a Killian's clone. For my next beer, I check out Alice's Poison Amber, which may or may not be brewed on the premises. It sucks also, reminding me of a poor man's Sam Adams, which is barely an upgrade over Killian's.

Honestly, I'm not sure why I was under the impression that I was going to discover good local brews in the Midwest. But, while I was quite critical of the beer selection, I was pleased with the fact that Cleveland is a city whose baseball stadium resides in the midst of a fairly happening downtown atmosphere. Most other cities I've visited on my two major ballpark trips can't make this claim, with Pittsburgh being the one exception that comes to mind.

Vizquel/Concepcion Bobblehead
There are lots of Reds fans in and around the park, which I guess isn't much of a surprise. It turns out that tonight is Omar Vizquel & Dave Concepcion Bobblehead Night. Concepcion is present to honor Vizquel during a pre-game tribute celebrating the fact that he's recently reached two significant milestones. Vizquel accumulated his 2,000th hit and played in his 2,000th game this year, and he's quite pleased that Concepcion, his boyhood idol and fellow Venezuelan, is on hand to take part in the ceremony.

On Deck: Cleveland Rocks

No comments:

Post a Comment