Yep, that pretty much sums up my feelings about the World Series so far. I really don’t care. I admit that I haven’t even watched any of it, other than any highlights that happened to be shown on my local news coverage. Following the LCS and WS games in the newspaper would have been difficult, as well, since all but one or two games have “ended too late for this edition.” Reading about it the day after the day after just isn’t the same.
Apparently the Inquirer’s editors have as much enthusiasm for it as I do. 😉
That being said, if I absolutely had to choose a favorite or be threatened with bodily harm, I suppose I’d go with Texas. Why, you ask? Well, a few reasons:
- Texas has never won a World Series; St. Louis has won 10 (OK, not exactly a Yankee-like number, but still more than every other team that is not the Yankees).
- Prior to last year, the Rangers had never even been to the WS; this year marks the Cardinals’ 18th visit to the Fall Classic.
- I know people who live in Texas; I don’t know anyone in St. Louis (or even all of Missouri, for that matter).
- Tony LaRussa and his micromanaging ways really annoy me.
- Joe Buck really, really annoys me, and even though he was actually born in Florida, he’s basically from St. Louis.
- A Wild Card team should not win the World Series. It just shouldn’t.
Currently up 3 games to 2, Texas could win it all tonight. I’ll try to muster a little interest, and perhaps sneak a peek at the game. Or not.
After a three year break for no real reason from visiting stadiums, we started back up in August 2005 by taking a vacation to St. Petersburg, Florida. While there, we planned on visiting Tropicana Field, among other things.
Oh wait. That’s not Tropicana Field. That’s the beach at Fort DeSoto Park. Okay, so it’s not baseball, but we went to the beach too, and I thought it was a good picture.
It’s important to note at this point that between our last stadium trip to Toronto, and this one, my photography entered the digital age. Therefore, I took way more pictures than before, so I have many to choose from for including here.
On August 20, 2005, we made our way to the Trop, home of the Devil Rays. Remember, the Devil hadn’t been exorcised from the team yet! 🙂
Ah yes, more palm trees. I love palm trees! If they would grow in Pennsylvania I’d surround my house with them. Oops, sorry I got off track there. Back to the game.
First off, I was actually glad that the Trop is a domed stadium. Florida in August (and probably the rest of the summer, for that matter) is hot, and very humid. After sweating like pigs at some Florida State League (single A) games, we welcomed the air-conditioned environment of the Trop.
The Devil Rays in 2005 were, to put it mildly, not very good. Consequently, the crowds were usually pretty small. This day, however, drew almost twice as many people as the night before, 19,041 vs. 10,188, mostly because there was some sort of Christian music concert prior to the game, and many of the attendees stayed for the game as well.
Our seats were way up in the upper level, directly behind home plate. Not only were they cheap, they offered a great view of the entire field.
My husband sometimes prefers these seats over ones closer to the field, as from this vantage point you can watch the entire play unfolding below.
The pitching matchup for tonight featured Joaquin Benoit for the Texas Rangers, and in his first full season, Scott Kazmir for the Rays.
A 2-run homer by Jorge Cantu would help give Kazmir a 4-1 lead in 6 innings of work. The lone run he gave up was on a solo shot by Gary Matthews, Jr. In the 9th, Danys Baez would give up another solo homer to Alfonso Soriano to make it 4-2, but would hold on for the save. Benoit took the loss for the Rangers.
On our way out after the game, we saw this along the concourse – a giant player crashing through the wall.
Interestingly, there is another giant player on the outside of the stadium. Not sure what it is about these giant players. Too bad they couldn’t have come down off the wall to help the team to a few more wins!
We made a return visit to the Trop in 2008, on June 22. Amazingly, Tropicana Field had not changed its name in the interim (unlike the three most recent stadiums I’ve written about)! The team, however, had changed its name. Gone was the Devil, and with a new name came a new logo and new uniform colors.
On this particular day, the Rays were celebrating their mascot Raymond’s birthday. Multiple mascots were milling around the main entry rotunda. My daughter, who loves mascots, was in her glory, wanting a picture with each of them. Here she is with the birthday boy:
Since we were there really early, we had plenty of time to wander around and check out the rays touch tank in center field.
Not sure why my daughter looks rather unhappy. Anyway, the tank is filled with lots of these guys, leisurely swimming by and waiting to be touched:
After we were done with the rays, we went back to our seats. This time we decided to try an outfield view. We noticed a single yellow seat amid a sea of blue ones a few rows in front of us, and wondered what it signified. It turned out to mark the location of the first home run hit in (Devil) Rays history, by Wade Boggs, on March 31, 1998. So of course I made my kids sit next to it so I could take a picture.
The Rays were hosting the Houston Astros this day, with Brandon Backe pitching for the Astros, and Scott Kazmir (once again) for the Rays. The Rays jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on a 2-run homer by Evan Longoria in the second inning (on this swing!).
Unfortunately, the lead would not hold up, as Kazmir then proceeded to give up three runs, all coming on long balls. Hunter Pence hit a solo shot in the 5th, and Carlos Lee added a 2-run homer in the 6th. There would be no further scoring, as Houston held on for the 3-2 victory.
You’ll notice in the above pictures that my son decided he needed a Rays cap while at the game. Of course, we are Phillies fans. Little did we know at the time that the Phillies and Rays would be meeting in October. On the day of Game 1, he decided to wear his Rays cap to school, along with his Cole Hamels jersey. Unable to pick sides, I guess.
As we were leaving after the game, we noticed that the sun had come out. During the game, there were some brutal thunderstorms going on outside – again, glad we were in the dome. I think this is one of the prettiest walkways at a stadium that I have seen. And of course, there are palm trees!
Join me next time, when we visit PNC Park.
(all photos by me)
In June of 2000, we had planned to take another organized baseball tour, much like the one we took in 1997. But not with the same tour operator! So we put a deposit down on a West Coast tour with Broach Tours. The tour was scheduled to hit all the West Coast ballparks, if I remember correctly. Unfortunately, a month or so before the trip, we received a call telling us that the tour was being cancelled due to a lack of interest. Aargh!! (we did at least get our deposit back)
So since we’d already planned on that vacation time with our respective workplaces, we decided to just take a trip to San Francisco, and see the Giants and the A’s on our own.
2000 was the first year of the brand-new Pacific Bell Park. So as much as my husband sometimes dislikes ordering tickets in advance, we realized we would have to if we wanted to get into any games at Pac Bell. Of course, there were no single-game tickets to be had. But then we noticed that the Giants had a feature on their website that allowed their season-ticket holders to resell any tickets they weren’t going to be able to use. Perfect! So we searched available tickets to find ones that weren’t being offered for an arm and a leg (just a forearm 🙂 ), and sat through the interminable wait while our dial-up internet service submitted the information, then submitted our credit card info and mailing address, only to be told at the end of the whole process that, due to the laws in certain states, Pennsylvania being one of them, that we couldn’t buy the tickets.
Outrage! Shouldn’t they have stated this rule up front?
Then I had the bright idea to try and have the tickets sent to my husband’s brother in New Jersey. Maybe they didn’t have that law! Apparently the Giants’ system was not set up to realize that the billing and mailing addresses were different, and it went ahead and processed the transaction. Yay! Then my husband made sure to warn his brother that he would be getting something in the mail from the Giants, but not to throw it away, because it would be our tickets.
The first of the two games we attended was on July 16, an interleague contest against the Texas Rangers. The weather this day was cool but comfortable, and a bit overcast. Most mornings we woke to thick fog, which would eventually burn off, though this day it kind of lingered.
Our seats were down the right-field line, about 15 rows back from the field. Not too bad! This was our view [Sorry Rays Renegade! I don’t know what it is about these giant Coke bottles everywhere!]:
In the foreground is Texas starter Esteban Loaiza, warming up prior to the game. Shawn Estes would be on the mound for the Giants.
Midway through the game, a foul ball came down the line, aimed directly at my husband. According to him, he would have caught it except for some knucklehead who stuck their hand in front of him. Yes, that knucklehead was me. If it’s any consolation, my pinky hurt for the rest of the game. The ball, by the way, deflected off my pinky and ended up a few rows in front of us.
J.T. Snow and Rich Aurilia each hit home runs for the Giants this day. The Giants won, 6-4, with the win going to Estes and the loss to Loaiza. San Francisco closer Robb Nen got the save, coming in to pitch not the ninth inning, but the:
Four days later, on July 20, we were back for our second game. This time our seats were a little further back from the field, but closer to home plate (still on the first base side). The San Diego Padres were the visitors today. This was a much sunnier day. A statue of Willie Mays stands outside the main entrance gate:
Kirk Rueter was the starter for the Giants, and Woody Williams for the Padres. Rueter’s nickname is “Woody”, because he resembles the character Woody (the cowboy doll voiced by Tom Hanks) from the Toy Story movies. So this game was a Battle of the Woodies.
My husband got another chance at a foul ball, off the bat of Rich Aurilia. This time I wisely kept my hands to myself, and he made a barehanded catch of the ball while it was on the fly. The elderly women seated in front of us thanked him for saving them from injury – they were ready to duck and cover had he not caught it. Here is a picture of Aurilia:
Woody Williams hit his first career home run in this game. He would end up with a ******** total of 4 in his 15 year career.
[OK, that word is supposed to be wh-pping, with an ‘o’ in the middle. Since when is this considered a bad word???]
Of course, you-know-who was playing for the Giants back in 2000:
Barry Bonds. This was when he was merely annoying, and not yet the pariah he is now. Odd, he looks like he’s actually smiling and interacting with the fans.
Jeff Kent and Russ Davis would homer for the Giants, to help lead the SF “Woody” to victory. Rueter got the win and Aaron Fultz the save in a 7-3 Giants victory; Williams took the loss for the Padres.
Pacific Bell Park is no longer called Pacific Bell. In less than 10 years of existence, it is on its third name. It is now AT&T Park, after going by SBC Park in the interim. This is why I hate corporate naming! Frequent name changes, and the name has no real tie to the team or its location. AT&T Park could be located anywhere! Aargh!
Nonetheless, it is one of our favorite ballparks that we have been to so far. The location is amazing, with great views of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco Bay beyond the outfield. And there were these really yummy garlic fries at the concession stand! Definitely a ballpark I would go back to!
Fun non-baseball things to do in San Francisco and vicinity: Ride the cable cars. Go to Napa for a day and get a buzz off the free wine tastings. Drive up the coast to Muir Woods and marvel at how tall the redwood trees are. Visit Alcatraz. Go to Ghirardelli Square and eat so much chocolate before lunch that you decide the chocolate is your lunch! (yes, we did do all this)
In my next entry, we venture across the bay to Oakland, and visit Network Associates Coliseum.
(all photos mine)
Before I get started with my visit to the home of the Texas Rangers, I’ll answer the question I asked last time about my visit to Coors Field. If you recall, I said there was something unusual about Hideo Nomo’s no-hitter on September 17, 1996.
Nomo is best known for his body-twisting windup. On the night of the no-hitter, he pitched almost the entire game from the stretch! Due to the poor footing on a wet mound, he abandoned his windup after the first inning.
Just some more baseball trivia to fill up your mind!
The Ballpark In Arlington
My husband and I traveled to Texas in May 1997 to visit my brother, who lived in Irving at the time. In case you’re not familiar with Texas, Irving is in between Dallas and Ft. Worth.
[unrelated aside: My brother has since moved, to another town in the DFW area called Flower Mound. Flower Mound? Is there anyone else besides me who finds this name funny?]
Of course, we wanted to go to a game! On May 18, 1997 we saw the Rangers take on the Yankees at what was then known as The Ballpark In Arlington.
As you can see, the stadium appears to be out in the middle of nowhere, in a large field. And it was, sort of. There may have been more construction around there since then.
The scoring started right away, with Juan Gonzalez hitting a two-run homer for the Rangers in the bottom of the first. Charlie Hayes then hit a solo shot for the Yankees in the top of the second. The starting pitchers, David Cone for the Yankees and Darren Oliver for the Rangers, settled down after that.
The weather during the game was beautiful and sunny, and let me tell you, it gets hot in Texas in May! This particular day was umbrella day at the stadium, and I could have used mine to shield myself from the sun rather than rain.
[another aside: Since the umbrellas wouldn’t fit into our luggage, we had to carry them on the plane on the way home. I wonder if we’d even be allowed to now, given the current regulations for air travel! Not that we could have used them as weapons, they weren’t very sturdy.]
The Rangers held on to win the game, 4-2. Cone took the loss, pitching the whole game. Oliver got the win, with ex-Yankee John Wetteland getting the save.
In the effort of full disclosure, I must point out that this was not our first visit to the stadium, though it was the first time we saw a game there. In February of 1996, on a previous visit, we took a tour of the stadium. I guess not too many other people were thinking about baseball in February, as we were the only three people on the tour. So it was like our own private tour!
Here is a shot of my brother and husband sitting in the dugout:
And one of my brother and I (or me? I’m not sure which is correct) at the top of the dugout steps:
I’m the one on the left.
Everything looks very wet in these pictures because the field was being watered at the time. After the tour, we ate lunch at the Friday’s located beyond the right-field stands. My brother got one of the largest burgers I have seen:
It looks like it’s the size of his head!
The Ballpark In Arlington has undergone a few name changes in the intervening years. It was known as Ameriquest Field for three years before settling on its current name, Rangers Ballpark In Arlington. Still kind of a long name – what it needs is a catchy nickname! I’ll put my mind to it another time.
Up next, Comiskey Park.