Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dayton Dragons woohoo!

Ah yes, I owe a post about the Dayton Dragons game on Friday.

The Dragons have recently broken a record; they have had the most consecutive sellout home games in all of pro sports.  I don't know about you, but I would say that is one heck of a big deal!  The Dragons began playing in 2000 at Fifth Third Field, in Dayton, OH.  My father has had season tickets for every season.  I don't recall the 2000 season very well; that was the year my mom died.  The following year, he was remarried; and I did go to some games with him and my step-mom; and when I moved to IL, I came back for games here and there over the summers.

Dayton fans take their baseball seriously, as do I.  The Dragons, a minor league team for the Cincinnati Reds, have produced many good players over the years; Dunn, Pena, Stubbs, Votto... just to name a few.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Great American Ball Park , Wrigley Field, and the Jake

**editing: not only do I always forget to label my posts, but I forget stuff to add!

Catching up on an old post.  This is how unorganized I am right now. *sigh*

I went to see the Cincy Reds play the Cleveland Indians on July 3; first time ever I was at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, OH.  It was pretty fun, very hot, and it's a very nice park!  I grew up at Riverfront, watching Pete Rose try to break the hitting record.  My dad took us to ballgames all the time.  I love the sport.  Dad was supposed to go to the game, he's a big Indians AND Reds fan, but it was so hot that day, he bowed out.  I don't blame him really.  I met my brother in his place.

We met at at Willie's in Covington, Ky, had lunch, and took a shuttle to the park.  I feel so bad because our meal and waitress were so nice, and I told her I was going to blog about her and the place, and I'm just now getting to it!  Our waitress was Brook, and really, she was so nice. I had a philly cheese sammich with moz cheese and mushroom sauce.  Was soooo yummy.  I should have taken a photo of it, but I didn't.  My brother had some sort of burger with a fried egg on it...

Brad, the manager, came out to say hello.  He was super nice too.  I wanted to tell him what a great job Brook did waiting on us.  I guess they have been a little slow on the business side recently; something about bridge work on 75, so access to their place was... difficult?  So I want to give a shout out to anyone in the Cincy/Covington area who wants to go to a great place with good food and beer!  Head to Willie's!  And if you go for a game, you can park in their lot all day, drink a crapton of beer, and take their shuttle to and from the game for like a buck or two.  Beats driving; and with the sports atmosphere of the place, it's sure to get you in the mood for the big game.

Here's some photos I took:

View from the shuttle bus

Seats weren't bad at all!

Right field

Ohio River

BB Riverboat!  I think... one of the riverboats anyhow

View into Covington

So our seats were in left field, right on the concrete wall.  I'd say about half the stadium was in their seats that day LOL.  The other half were walking around in the shade or pushing their way into the mist area.  My beer buzz seemed increase the more water I drank too!  Let me tell you, Cincy is not far from where I am staying right now, but after a day full of beer and heat, it was a super long drive!

On the shuttle bus back to Willie's, a kid with an Indians teeshirt on was sitting in front of me.  Usually never one to speak to strangers (but since my divorce, I have become.... what is the word?  More vocal, more willing to speak to people, not afraid to strike up convo?  I dunno, it's weird.  Anyway, I said, hey, you from Cleveland.  Yeah, he said.  So we talked about Cleveland and the Jake (Jacobs Field where the Indians play, which is now called Progressive Field.  Really?  I hate when they change the darn names of stadiums! Grrrr!).  He knew Panini's! Great place to get a sammy and beer, and is much cheaper than the ballpark.  They take like deli meat, right, with thick bread, and top it with cole slaw and fries, and bam.  That's your sammy.  You can hardly eat one alone, and if you go in, well, they used to do this, but if you go in and order say, pizza, because they do have pizza, they will make fun of you.

My folks lived in Cleveland in the mid-90's for a few years so I spent many a ball games at the Jake.  They used to have this bar area downtown, and I say used to because the kid on the bus back to Willie's told me that most bars have closed or moved now, but it's called the Flats.  Bars used to line both sides of the Cuyahoga River  and you could take a boat taxi to get from one side to the other.  Used to be a big party spot on the weekends and such.  Good times.  But right down near the Jake are fun places too.  Panini's being one of them.  If you like Reubens, might I suggest Rathskeller, tucked on Prospect I think, but it's almost like in a back alley.  It's very "1920s" with its interior and atmosphere, like a true prohibition-era diner.

So, one weekend, my brother and I were up visiting, and it was in April, or it might have been October, I can't recall exactly, but my dad had tickets for the Indians and it was so cold and rainy, my mother didn't want to go, so we three went.  It was when David Justice had played for the Indians and he was semi-hot at the time, having come from the Braves, and I wanted to see him play, but had no idea he turned out to be the man his then wife (?) Halle Berry said he was.  Anyhoo, I can't recall who they played that day, but they were having a double header.  It began raining, then snowing, and this is why I can't recall the month, but it was either the start of the season, or near the end, and if you know Cleveland, it's hard to pinpoint seasons because their weather in the winter and spring and fall is just nuts with all that lake-effect stuff.  Well, the first game was great, they won and despite the weather, the place was packed.  When the Indians are hot, as you can see now if you watch them, Cleveland fans, like those of the Cubbies I'd say, WILL go to a game, WILL have a good time, and WILL cheer them on.  There were games we went to in the mid-90's that had like standing room only and then standing room only on TOP of that.

So, my brother, the DD, wasn't having as much fun as my dad and I LOL.  I convinced my father we should stay for the second game.  We didn't have tickets, but scalping was legal, not sure if it is now, but I mean, you could openly go outside the park and find a pro selling tickets and buy them and not get arrested, so we walked outside and got tickets.  My dad said, you are nuts.  I said, hey this is fun, and I said, David Justice is gonna hit a homer this game, I can feel it.  Dad said, no he's not.  I said, you watch.

So several beers more later, and two blankets and three ponchos later, we are back in our seats for the second game.  Crowded.  Dad's telling everyone sitting around us that his daughter predicts Justice hitting a homer and fans are sneering.  Many didn't like him back then.  So what do you think happens?  Yup, near the end of the game, Justice knocks on out of the park, giving the Indians edge and eventually the win.  Crowd goes nuts, I go nuts, dad sits in amazement.  The crowd around us cheering and high-fiving me.

We get back to mom and dad's and we are drunk, wet, tired, sore throats, and my mom just shakes her head and says, "I've never know a more collective bag of nuts than you three."

So, back to Cincy.  It was nice spending the day with my brother, actually.  We've been reconnecting a bit lately, after many years of not really talking but we don't need to get into that here.  It was a nice day, despite the heat, and let me say, it was so hot, the brother did not want to return to our seats, at all.  He was not a happy camper LOL when I made him!  I thought we should at least sit a few innings down, to make use of the tickets and all.  But even it got too hot for me.

My next sports blog should be coming up this weekend; tickets to see the Dayton Dragons play.  That's always a good time.  Dayton likes their baseball, let me tell ya.  It's fan appreciation night or season ticket holder appreciation night, something like that.  I think they might have like Votto bobble heads or something.  Oh, recently, the Dragons surpassed a record in sports history.  Anyone care to guess what it was for?

Pictures and blog to follow on that night's game.

Yeah, like baseball.  I went with my girlfriend Laura to a Cubbies game last July.  I'd actually been to The Friendly Confines many times.  We backpacked through Chicago for the night.  It was fun!  Wait, it was June I think?  Oh darn, I'm so bad with dates.  I have photos.  It was cool up there, I know that.  Ha.  It was the end of May last year.

So, we took a bus up there, tickets were from um the U of I in Normal, Laura's mom works there and had tickets and Laura's husband couldn't go so I went instead.  We planned to stay overnight and take the Amtrak back the next day.  Before the game even started, I was into the Old Style.  As was Laura.  It was an early afternoon game.  The Cubs played the Dodgers and I was happy to see ol Ryan Theriot back in Chi town.  The cubs won and I was so happy because I got to sing their song they play at the end of a win.

After the game, we hung around, waiting for the bus with Laura's mom, trying to catch players as they left the stadium.  None of them stopped, but we saw a few.  Can't recall which ones though.  Then we hit a few bars down in Wrigleyville, had more beer, and then head to the Hopleaf.  Laura's brother is the chef there.  We had more beer and a good meal!  I know we had some rabbit and some other sort of fancy stuff, but it was good.  I need to get back there; the atmosphere is so chill there.

After that, we took a cab to our hotel; we booked a room at the Wyndham near Michigan Ave.  It was so nice!  So after all the beer and walking around, we thought it was a grand idea to go get into the hot tub.


Still feeling great, we get cleaned up and head back up toward Laura's brother and meet him for drinks.  I think we had several shots of Petron.  I got sick.  Not like sick sick, but got a terrible headache, and I guess it was a combo of the beer, the hottub, and the cab drivers.  Have you ever ridden in a big city cab?  OMG.

It will make you car sick, I swear.  So, we called it a night.  Got back to the room, I drank some water and took some Aleve, and felt better.  Laura woke up in the middle of the night, sick too.  Poor thing, hit her much harder than it did me.  We barely checked out on time the next morning.   Bummer thing was that our train didn't leave until like one or so, so we had a few hours to kill, and she really didn't feel like site seeing so we just made our way to Union Station and waited for the train.

Union Station, the original part, is really cool.  You walk through the tunnel to the main area and the ceiling is so high, it's like you feel like you are in some old timey mobster movie.  The ride home was rather quiet.  Poor Laura.

Lesson here: never do beer, food, hottub, shots, cab ride. So that's my Cubbies story.  I have another one, from a long time ago, that I'll post about another day.  Here's some pictures of that May 2010 trip though:

Laura, pre Petron

Hey hey what do you say, the Cubs are gonna win today Go Cubs Go

Wyndham is very nice! 

Union Station