May 2012

5-20-12 (vs. Minnesota)

I was nervous heading into today’s game, and afraid of a possible sweep at the hands of the team with the worst record in the majors. I could sum up the entire day with this linescore, but I’ll explain the rest of the day as well.

Victoria joined me for the game again, and we met in Johnson Creek at 11:00 am. We made our way to Miller Park and pulled into the Cooooooper lot at 11:43. I got the 2,500 “business” cards printed and received them in the mail last week, and I’ve started handing them out. I figure the best time to do it is before the game, and while people are tailgating. I’ll be giving some out during the game and afterwards, but not many. I’m too focused on the game and I don’t want it to be a distraction, either for myself or other fans. It’s really hit or miss with people, but that is to be expected. I start by asking if they’ve heard of the guy going to all 162 games, and then say “that’s me!”, or something along those lines. Some people seem completely disinterested, and don’t even ask a single question, and it makes it really awkward. The last group (of 6 to 8 people) I talked to had heard about me, and were genuinely excited to meet me. I told them a little about myself, and how they could help out, and I think a few of them are going to be joining the registry. We saw them on our way back to the car after the game, and they told me they loved what I was doing, and told Victoria that “he is very personable!” It felt great to see in person someone else’s reaction to what I’m doing.

Before heading into the stadium I stopped to take a picture of the statue that faces the home plate entrance. The three individuals pictured below lost their lives on July 14, 1999, when a crane holding one of the roof sections collapsed. It was a horrible accident and resulted in a lawsuit that paid out $95 million. The accident delayed the opening of Miller Park until 2001 (it was originally scheduled to open in 2000). I think it’s commendable that the Brewers put the statue up, recognized what happened, and didn’t try to bury it in the past.

Victoria and I were inside Miller Park by 12:15, and went over to section 238, where I started my progression back around the stadium in the loge level.

After stopping saying hi to the Ice Man and Bill (the friendly vendor in 216) again, we made it to our seats in time for the national anthem. I got the BBQ brisket sandwich again, and was extremely disappointed with the amount of fat he included in my sandwich. I wish I would’ve taken a picture of all the fat I picked off the meat before eating it, it had to be at least 50-75 grams of fat. I know that I could probably use the extra weight, but I don’t want to do it by eating massive amounts of fat.

The game started and I was thinking “here we go again”, after Greinke gave up two hits and a run in the top of the first. That sentiment quickly changed after the Brewers scored two runs in the first on solo home runs by Chart and Lucroy. It got even better as the Crew tacked on six runs on six hits in the bottom of the second. All the runs in the second came with two outs, and just like that the Brewers had an 8-1 lead. After the eighth run scored the Twins pulled the starter Marquis. The reliever who came in retired Izturis, who was responsible for 2 of the 3 outs in the inning.

When Marquis was getting shelled I thought back to April 18th, 2010, when he was pitching for the Nationals. I was in D.C. for the Brewers-Nationals series, and Marquis didn’t retire a single batter, giving up 4 hits and 7 runs before being removed. Craig Counsell hit a grand slam later in the inning, and the Brewers wound up with 10 runs in the opening frame.

Back to today’s game. The Brewers added two in the fourth, one in the fifth, then put a five-spot on the board in the seventh. Jonathan Lucroy hit a grand slam in the five-run seventh, and it capped an amazing day at the plate. His final line consisted of 3 hits (including 2 home runs), 3 runs scored, and SEVEN runs batted in, which ties a Brewers club record. The two outs of his were hard hit balls that could have easily fallen (one was a diving catch), and both would have driven in runs, which would have given him the outright Brewers single game RBI record. Looks like me posting the picture of him yesterday payed some dividends. You’re welcome LUUUUUUUUUUC!!

The game got so lopsided that this happened:

It probably just looks like a guy pitching, but this was the Twins backup catcher (Drew Butera, pitching in the bottom of the eighth). For you non-baseball junkies, this happens from time to time. If a team is getting killed they’ll have a position player come in and pitch an inning to help save a taxed bullpen. Apparently they should’ve had Butera start the game, because he retired three of the four batters he faced, and got out of the inning without giving up a run. One of the three outs was a strikeout of Carlos Gomez, which of course was Butera’s first career strikeout as a pitcher. All around it was an entertaining day, and the Brewers needed the win. It’s unfortunate that it only counts as one win. Final Score: Brewers 16 – Twins 4. They outscored the Twins by three runs in the series, and yet lost two out of three games.

One last picture, during the seventh inning the roof began to close, and I snapped a picture as the two sides were nearing. I think it’s always fun to watch, while pitches aren’t being thrown, of course.

I did miss two pitches during the game, AGAIN! That’s back to back two-pitches-missed games; unforgivable! The first came in the fifth inning during Braun’s at bat (even more unforgivable). I was tweeting that the season had just past the quarter point of the season. Between the top and bottom of the fifth inning marked the 1/4 point (40.5 games out of 162). I also missed the 0-1 pitch to Trevor Plouffe in the top of the eighth, I was talking with Victoria about cameras, and got distracted. I will do my best to prevent these lapses in the future.

Big series with the Giants starting tomorrow, and the Brewers face the tough Matt Cain on Tuesday, so it should be interesting. Speaking of Tuesday’s game. I’m assuming some readers don’t have twitter, or just aren’t following me @Brew_Mission162 yet, but I’m auctioning off a great seat for the game. The Doorman (the guy who sits right behind the opposing teams tunnel leading up to the clubhouse) gave me his two seats for the game, and I’m accepting bids for one of them. You’d be sitting next to me, and would likely be on TV a few times, since the broadcasts use the feed from the first base side cameras as right handed batters come to the plate. I’m donating all the proceeds to Be The Match, and I’m hoping we can make a decent-sized donation. The face value on the ticket is $100, but I have no idea what’s going to come of it. If you’re interested in the ticket, but don’t have a twitter account, just make a comment in this post with what you’d be willing to pay, and I’ll email you back if you’re the high bidder. I’m closing the bidding at noon on Tuesday afternoon.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Miller Park: 4 hours 24 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 5 hours 2 minutes
Driving Miles: 124.2
Sausages: 0
Pitches Missed: 2
Consecutive pitch streak ended at: 337
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.432% (344/346)
Current streak of pitches seen: 58

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 169 hours 43 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 199 hours 27 minutes
Miles driven: 3,126.5
Miles riding in car but not driving: 775.9
Public Transit miles: 232.1
Flight Miles: 8,525
Total distance traveled: 12,670.1 miles
Sausages: 25 (9 Polish, 7 Hot Dogs, 3 Bratwurst, 2 Italian, Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Corndog, Chicken Apple Sausage)
Pitches missed: 32
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,317 (5/9 – 5/14)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.74% (12,241/12,273)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

5-19-12 (vs. Minnesota)

Saturday was originally going to be just Victoria and myself but a mutual friend, Megan, called and said she had gotten tickets. Megan was another Gilman House resident during the ’05-’06 school year at UW-Madison. Victoria and Megan stayed in the dorms during their sophomore year and became roommates for the ’06-’07 school year. Megan just graduated from UW’s pharmacy school, and she’s going to be working at the VA hospital in Madison as a pharmacist. Megan is a twin, and it just so happens that her boyfriend is also a twin. Her boyfriend Alex, however, is a Twins fan (he’s from Minnesota). He lives in Madison and is working towards his doctorate degree in engineering. I will give him credit though; he pays for the MLB.TV service so he can stream the Twins games. Even though they’re the enemy six games a year, I can respect his fan-hood.

Megan and Alex met Victoria in Madison, I met them in Johnson Creek, and we rode to Milwaukee together. Alex’s brother Mike, who was in town for Megan’s graduation, was driving separately since he was flying back to California on Sunday. Alex and Mike wound up in the general parking lot because they thought that’s what we had, so they had to walk over and meet us in the Braves Lot. We had a few beers and before heading in we had a passerby take a picture for us. Going left to right it’s Megan, myself, Victoria, Alex, and Mike.

We went to the upper deck together since that was where the three of them were sitting, but parted ways as we headed over to section 440 for the last picture from the terrace level. It’s going to get a lot more tricky to get a good picture from the loge level. Mainly because 20 minutes before the game there will be many more people in the front row of the loge level than there are in the terrace.

Victoria and I then made our way down to section 221 and got situated for the game. We did make sure to stop by and say hi to the Ice Man (the beer vendor), and Bill (the friendly usher above section 216).

The game got underway and it started out nicely, as Yovani Gallardo retired the first three Twins in order, and only needed nine pitches to do so. There wasn’t any scoring until the fourth inning, when the Twins pushed one across via the sacrifice fly. The Brewers answered in the bottom half after Nyjer Morgan singled, stole second, then eventually scored on a Lucroy single. The Twins scored a solo run in the sixth on another sacrifice fly. The Brewers answered again with a run in the bottom of the sixth on a Ryan Braun RBI single.

Solo runs by the Twins in the seventh and eighth inning gave them a 4-2 lead, and things were looking bleak. Aramis Ramiriz came through in the clutch with a two out, two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth. The game went to extras after both teams failed to score in the ninth, but the Twins got a home run in the top of the eleventh, and the Brewers went quietly in the bottom of the inning. It was exciting towards the end, and nice to see that the Crew fought back, but a loss is a loss, and the losing streak has reached four games now. Final Score: Twins 5 – Brewers 4.

Greinke is on the hill tomorrow and I’m hoping he can be the stopper once again. This last picture was taken when Lucroy was coming to the plate in the bottom of the sixth. The sun was coming through the windows on the first base side in the upper deck, and created some nice long shadows on the field.

I missed two pitches during the game, and although it’s upsetting, it makes sense. The same thing had happened earlier in the year, and old habits are hard to break. In the past, when I would see the first pitch of an intentional walk, I would let my eyes wander until after he reached base, because I knew what was happening, and didn’t need to watch it. I did that twice at this game, starting with the 1-0 pitch to Morneau in the top of the sixth. Apparently I didn’t learn my lesson because I did the same thing in the bottom half, when Lucroy was intentionally walked to get to the struggling Rickie Weeks.

That’s all for now. Tomorrow is a new day and I’m holding out hope that the boys can turn it around.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Miller Park: 5 hours 21 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 5 hours 56 minutes
Miles riding in car but not driving: 84.4
Driving Miles: 40.3
Sausages: 0
Pitches Missed: 2
Consecutive pitch streak ended at: 965
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.43% (346/348)
Current streak of pitches seen: 158

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 165 hours 19 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 194 hours 25 minutes
Miles driven: 3,002.3
Miles riding in car but not driving: 775.9
Public Transit miles: 232.1
Flight Miles: 8,525
Total distance traveled: 12,545.9 miles
Sausages: 25 (9 Polish, 7 Hot Dogs, 3 Bratwurst, 2 Italian, Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Corndog, Chicken Apple Sausage)
Pitches missed: 30
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,317 (5/9 – 5/14)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.75% (11,897/11,927)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

5-18-12 (vs. Minnesota)

I got up in Houston at 7:30 am, spent two hours in St. Louis, and went to bed in Fort Atkinson at 1:15 am this morning. It was a long day, but surprisingly I wasn’t that tired when I got in bed. It could just be fear of a possibly disastrous season ahead for the Crew, or that I’m worried about the upcoming trip to Phoenix and Los Angeles.

Back to Houston: I made it to the bus stop (located just three blocks from my hotel) seven minutes before I thought the bus was to arrive. My iPhone (google maps) told me that it would depart for the airport at 8:41 am, and I was there by 8:34. A few buses appeared in the distance and I got my hopes up. I needed the 88 bus and the three that passed in the time I was waiting were not said bus. I started getting nervous as my watch ticked past 8:40, and 8:45. I always think that when a bus is late it was just really early, and I already missed it. Finally at 8:50 the bus showed up. I’m starting to think that Google maps just doesn’t have updated schedules, because on the weekends the route says it picks up from that spot at 8:50, so I’m guessing it is now the same for weekdays as well.

My flight to St. Louis touched down at 12:55, and I had plenty of time to spare before my 3:20 flight to Milwaukee. I was nervous when the plane didn’t show up at the gate until 2:45, but we departed on time and made it to Milwaukee by 4:20. That was the latest arrival time I had scheduled for any of the return flights, and I’m glad it’s over. The whole morning (and afternoon) I was expecting something to go wrong, and was pleasantly surprised when nothing did.

Once in Milwaukee I took I-43 North to I-94 West, and I shouldn’t have. It took 48 minutes to traverse 10 miles. I don’t think there was any construction westbound, and it was just rush hour traffic. I pulled into the Braves parking lot at 5:37, and was inside Miller Park and in the upper deck shortly thereafter. There were no fans to be found way up near Bernie’s terrace, so I had a nearby usher take game photo number 39. Only one more to go in the upper deck!

I didn’t have someone to go with for Friday’s game, so I had tweeted earlier that my extra ticket was available for 20 dollars (which I would donate to Be The Match). I received a few inquiries and “awarded” Erica G with the ticket. I sent her my phone number and she called so we could discuss the details. I left it at one of the will call / drop off windows, and she got to the park around 6:20. She lives a few miles away and was able to jump on a Miller Park bound bus right after I confirmed that the ticket was hers. She works at the Meta House, which “helps women struggling with drug and alcohol addiction reclaim their lives and rebuild their families.” I took that right from the website as to not mess something up. Unfortunately Erica went to the University of Minnesota and as a graduate of UW-Madison and a loyal Badger, I had to give her a little grief. We talked about sports and other topics, and when I talked about possibly getting a ball and glove logo tattoo, she mentioned that she heard of a guy who had all the mascots of every MLB team tattooed on his body. I laughed and said “well you must not read the blog, because I just met that guy three days ago in New York.” I showed her the pictures I took of him (here they are again if you hadn’t seen them). She was a little embarrassed and said she hadn’t been reading, but I think she will now.

The game, you ask? I’ll let this do all the talking:

Yikes. It was not the Brewers’ day. As you can see, the Twins scored in five of the nine innings, and put up crooked numbers in four of them. The FOUR ERRORS contributed to two unearned runs, but even without them it would’ve been a 9-3 game. The Brewers made it a little (stress on the word little) exciting in the ninth inning, when they loaded the bases with one out. However, a strikeout and a groundout put an end to the rally and the game. The Brewers’ highpoint of the game was probably in the top of the first inning. After a leadoff double by the Twins, Norichika Aoki made a back-to-home-plate-over-the-shoulder-Willie-Mays-esque catch on a ball hit to straight-away centerfield. Gomez probably would’ve been camped out under it with how well he plays centerfield, but it was an amazing catch and effort by the Brewers’ Japanese import.

I’m leaving in a little bit to meet Victoria in Johnson Creek, then it’s on to Milwaukee for game two of the series. I’m really hoping it goes better than it did yesterday, because that was tough to watch. Thousands of fans left early, but Erica and I stuck it out until the bitter end. I don’t know what would’ve happened if I wasn’t tracking my pitches seen (and missed), but I still think I would’ve stayed. Even though the product on the field isn’t what I hoped it would be, I’m not going to jump ship. Someone tweeted at me and said after the game I should consider abandoning the mission. I responded that I made my bed, and now I have to sleep in it. Plus, I just received the 2,500 business cards in the mail, so there will be no aborting mission from this guy.

For all of you that have donated to Be The Match, I thank you. I received an update from my Be The Match contact, and we’re up to roughly $1,300 raised. It’s hard to track how many people have joined the registry because of my story, but I know at least a few people have joined. It’s only May, which means I’ve still got four plus months to spread the word, and I’m hoping that’s not the only thing I have to look forward to. But if that’s the case I’ll still feel good about my decision to quit my job and raise awareness and funds for something that means a lot to me.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Miller Park: 4 hours 55 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 5 hours 18 minutes
Public Transit Miles: 10.7
Flight Miles: 1,006
Miles riding in car but not driving: 1
Driving Miles: 73.9
Sausages: 0
Pitches Missed: 0
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (342/342)
Current streak of pitches seen: 802

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 159 hours 58 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 188 hours 29 minutes
Miles driven: 2,,962.0
Miles riding in car but not driving: 691.5
Public Transit miles: 232.1
Flight Miles: 8,525
Total distance traveled: 12,421.2 miles
Sausages: 25 (9 Polish, 7 Hot Dogs, 3 Bratwurst, 2 Italian, Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Corndog, Chicken Apple Sausage)
Pitches missed: 28
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,317 (5/9 – 5/14)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.76% (11,551/11,579)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

5-17-12 (@ Houston)

Thursday I got up around 9:00 am and I took advantage of Holiday Inn’s breakfast. I had a bowl of Frosted Flakes, a glass of orange juice, a cinnamon roll, an omelet, and a banana. I also took an apple to snack on before I left for the day. I didn’t really have plans for the day, but I passed Discovery Green the day before, and figured I could spend some time there before the game. I got there around 1:20, and spent a good hour walking around and taking pictures. What is Discovery Green? I’ll let this explain it.

If you click on the picture you’ll get a larger image, but if you don’t feel like doing that, this is what it says:

In 2004, the citizens of Houston learned that valued green space in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center was being sold by its private owners. Mayor Bill White and a group of philanthropists who had long worked to preserve this green space quickly joined together to purchase the property, add it to land already owned by the city, and create a twelve-acre park. Mayor White and City Council then conveyed the cite to the Houston Downtown Park Corporation and also charged the Discovery Green Conservancy with the planning, design, development and ongoing management of an urban park of the highest quality for both Houstonians and visitors to enjoy. With a design infused by the dreams and ideas of Houstonians, Discovery Green is dedicated to our community’s open spirit, the creativity of our citizens, the beauty of our natural heritage, and our city’s commitment to responsible stewardship of our natural environment.

It’s a nice park and I took a bunch of photos. The first four, going clockwise from top left:

1) The signage for the garden inside the park.

2) A giant one person circular bench, yes, that’s a seat there in the middle.

3) The view from the seat in photo number two. As you can see there’s another circular seat across from the one I was sitting in.

4) A water feature that’s located past the seat seen in photo number three.

There were lots of plants and flowers within the park, and some are below. They each don’t need a description. So you can look at them in whatever order you please. My personal favorite, and possibly my favorite of the day, is the one in the top left.

There was also stuff you could do while at the park. Going clockwise from top left:

1) Picnic tables where park-goers can eat.

2) This is looking out at the lawn from the Anheuser-Busch Stage, where concerts take place.

3) Kids can play in the water streams, they shoot skyward at various times.

4) The structure in the middle has water coming down from the ring at the top. I considered taking my clothes off and running around underneath it because it was hot and I was sweating, but I didn’t. I think a night in jail might lower my pitches seen percentage too much, so I didn’t want to risk it. There’s also a jungle gym on the left for kids.

There was also some art pieces. The upper left picture is of a structure that I just thought was a piece of artwork, but as you can see from the lower left picture, it has a door. If you look closely at the top left picture you can see some tiny windows, so I’m not quite sure what it’s used for, but I’m intrigued. The picture on the right is a piece that’s on display along the Avenida de las Americas, the street that runs right in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center.

After I was done at Discovery Green, I walked downtown and got a sub at Jimmy John’s for lunch. I don’t know what it was, but it just didn’t taste right. They may have not been using the freshest ingredients, but the sub left something to be desired. Jimmy John’s is on main street, and the metro rial system runs right down the middle of said street. There’s even a part where the track runs over some water, as seen below. It seems like a very quiet and comfortable ride. You can see one of the trains in the distance on the track on the right.

I went back to the hotel to get ready for the game, and I got a start on uploading all the pictures I took from Discovery Green. I left my room around 5:15, and made it to ticket window 30 to pick up my ticket by 5:30. The guy at the window said the visiting team tickets weren’t there yet, so I decided to walk around the exterior of the park to kill the time. There were things to note, and going clockwise from top left:

1) The support for the roof track down the first base side.

2) The back of the stadium, and on the right is the roof support and track for the left field side. When the roof is open the supports and windows that are visible in picture #3 would be right up close to the end of that track in photo #2. The 1st base side track is much higher, because there aren’t windows that move like they do on the left field side.

3) The centerfield entrance. On the right you can see all the windows that I was talking about. If you read yesterday’s post you can see that these panels are right behind the train track in left field.

4) KBR plaza. You can see an infielder turning a double play at second base, and a first basemen awaiting the throw. To make it even more accurate they should have a ball magically suspended in the air somewhere between the two bases.

There were two last things that I thought were interesting. On the left you have a statue of somebody, but I’m not sure who. There’s no plaque, and the only visible text is “Stewart E. Stevenson” on the anvil. A google search with that name and “Astros” doesn’t bring up anything that connects the two, so it’s a mystery right now (for me anyways). On the right is baseball stitching that separates segments of sidewalk. They have this going all around the exterior of the ballpark, and I didn’t make the observation until my second day at the stadium. The ones that I had seen up to this point weren’t as obvious as the one below, so I’ll cut myself a little bit of slack, but not much.

I went back to the will call window, got my ticket, and got inside just before six. I walked around on the field level until the Brewers finished taking batting practice, then headed to the upper deck to get game photo number 38 taken. I had an usher take the picture, and she was very patient with me, and she made some adjustments to get a picture I was satisfied with.

I went back downstairs and got my dinner before the game started. I had seen this place the night before, and on Thursday I figured it was time to have a salad at a major league stadium. I’m not sure if other parks have these, but I don’t recall any in the parks that I’ve been to so far (and that’s 17 current stadiums dating back to 2006). Going clockwise from top left:

1) The Green Fork concession stand from a distance, if you look closely you can see that the choice of greens are Romaine, Spinach, and Iceburg.

2) The vegetable choices, and there were a lot.

3) The protein choices, which cost an additional $4.

4) My $12 salad. I had a mixture of romaine and spinach, and I added mushrooms, bacon, egg, green pepper, cucumber, almonds, grilled chicken, and light ranch. To be honest, I wasn’t impressed, I really think it was because of the chicken, I’m not sure if they use leftovers from the day before, but it certainly seemed that way.

There wasn’t too much to cheer about during the game, for both teams really. The Astros scored four runs in the fourth inning, and that was it. The Brewers had a lot of opportunities to get off the schneid, but they failed to do so. They had the bases loaded in the third inning with only one out and Braun coming up. Braun popped out in foul territory on the first pitch and Ramirez grounded out weakly to third. In the fifth the Brewers had runners on second and third with two outs and Braun at the plate, but a groundout on the second pitch put on end to the scoring chance. It was that kind of night, not a blowout by any means, but still disheartening. Final Score: Astros 4 – Brewers 0. A 1-3 record on a two city road trip doesn’t feel the greatest, but things can’t continue to go this bad (or at least that’s what I’ll keep telling myself).

My flight leaves at 11:00 am from Houston on Friday, and I have a layover in St. Louis. I’m supposed to arrive in Milwaukee at 4:30 pm. I could’ve scheduled an earlier arrival, and I’ll be kicking myself if this itinerary backfires. If all goes as planned I should be to Miller Park no later than 6:00 pm for the first game with the Twins.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Minute Maid Park: 4 hours 9 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 4 hours 38 minutes
Sausages: 0
Pitches Missed: 0
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (281/281)
Current streak of pitches seen: 460

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 155 hours 3 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 183 hours 11 minutes
Miles driven: 2,888.1
Miles riding in car but not driving: 690.5
Public Transit miles: 232.1
Flight Miles: 7,519
Total distance traveled: 11,329.6 miles
Sausages: 25 (9 Polish, 7 Hot Dogs, 3 Bratwurst, 2 Italian, Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Corndog, Chicken Apple Sausage)
Pitches missed: 28
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,317 (5/9 – 5/14)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.75% (11,209/11,237)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

5-16-12 (@ Houston)

After we got back to Luke’s place post-bowling, I worked on the blog post for Tuesday, and didn’t lay down until after 3:10 am. I had my alarm set for 4:15, but woke up a little before that. I gathered my stuff, called the car service, and was on my way to Laguardia by 4:25. It was a 13 minute ride and yet it cost $26. I gave him $30, but I wonder if he just said $26 because he knew I didn’t know any better.

My flight took off on time, and we got to Midway by 7:15 am. My flight to Houston was scheduled to depart at nine, and we were airborne at 9:07. We arrived at Houston Hobby Airport earlier than expected, and I was able to jump on an early bus headed downtown. The bus was automatically saying the next upcoming stops along the way, but then failed to do so when I was supposed to get off, and I went down six more blocks than I needed to. It doesn’t seem like much, but when it’s still quite painful to walk, any added distance just makes it worse.

I’m staying at the Holiday Inn on Bell Street, and it’s just a short (6/10 mile) walk to Minute Maid Park. When I got to my room I napped until around 4:30, and then decided to go to Jimmy John’s. I made the walk to the downtown location, only to discover that they close at 4:00 pm. I’m assuming since they’re downtown they really only get business at lunchtime, so it makes sense. What about people that want to grab a sub on their way home from work (or crazed baseball fans who might wander in at random times)? Did you ever take that into consideration, Jimmy?

I walked down Texas Avenue on my way to the park, and a few blocks from downtown you can see the roof of Minute Maid Park in the distance.

I had to go to the player will call window to pick up my ticket for the game, thanks again Kathy and Tyler for making this happen. On my way to ticket window 30 I came across the baseball barriers. Most all ballparks have some sort of giant baseballs outside the stadium, and Minute Maid is no different.

Once I picked up my ticket I walked around to the first base side to get game photo number 37. On the outside of stadium they have a somewhat small Minute Maid Park sign, and I asked a few nearby parking attendants if there was a bigger sign somewhere else. They didn’t think so and I was a little disappointed. I guess I would’ve expected a larger sign above the home plate entrance, but they have a clock tower instead. When asking about the sign, one of the attendants said: “You look like Justin Timberlake.” I thought she was joking but I don’t think she was. I responded with “Thank you, but I disagree.” She repeated it, and it was actually kind of awkward as I walked away. The spot to take the picture was a good 100 yards from the attendants. I didn’t want to ask them to come all the way over to take my picture, so I just used the ten second delay, and propped my camera up on my sunglasses case. It took a few tries but I got one that I’m somewhat satisfied with.

While I was wrapping up a gentleman came over and offered to help. His name was Bob, and Minute Maid Park was the 49th Major League stadium he’s been to. He still has one current stadium to visit, but I forget which. That means that he’s been to 29 current stadiums and 20 former big league parks. I’d say he was in his fifties, and you’d almost have to be to have visited all the stadiums he has. He took a few pictures for me and I returned the favor. I think the self-timer photos turned out better, including the one above, but I’m still grateful for the assistance.

The Astros also have a clock tower, similar to Miller Park’s. I’m not just being a homer, but I think the one at Miller looks a little better. The Astros’ tower is located at the home plate entrance, and not off to the side. I don’t know why they don’t have a more inviting home plate entrance, but to each his own.

I entered the stadium at 5:55, and started wandering. One of the first things I came across was a giant boot and a commemorative sign. The boots are located throughout the park, commemorating the 2004 All-Star game that the Astros hosted. The Astros franchise has been around since 1962⎯although they were the Colt .45s from 1962-1964⎯thus the 50th anniversary sign.

I took more photos as I traversed the first level (and hit up the first aid station for some ibuprofen). Going clockwise from top left, the four pictures below are:

1) The first level concourse behind section 113. I took a picture because it’s the widest first level concourse that I’ve come across. “Everything’s Bigger in Texas” holds true once again.

2) The Crawford Boxes and outfield wall in left. The Crawford Boxes are the seats to the right of the foul pole, and give batters a short porch to work with (it’s only 315 feet down the line), providing some cheap home runs. It evens out though, as the centerfield fence is 435 feet from home plate. You can also see the train on the right of this picture, I’ll discuss that later.

3) The Astros scoreboard, the second largest HD board in the majors. It’s 54 feet tall and 124 feet wide. It’s nickname is “El Grande”.

4) The retractable roof. I believe they keep it open during the day to get the grass some sunlight, but then close it if it’s going to be hot during the game. I didn’t think it was too hot, and thought they could’ve kept it open. By the time the game was over it was *only* 74 degrees outside, and I don’t think they needed the AC on for the whole game. I’m also cheap and try to not use air conditioning as much as possible, so that might be influencing my opinion. I once let my apartment reach 94 degrees, but I’ve loosened my frugality to some degree over the past few years.

They have a wide variety of food choices, but I settled for a personal favorite. One of the stands had Kielbasa, with different toppings choices to appease almost anyone. I went with the Georgia Griller, which consisted of creamy cole slaw, BBQ sauce, and onions. You have the option of a spicy kielbasa or mild, and I (of course) went with spicy. I was somewhat surprised by the $7.50 price tag, as I thought it would’ve cost more. It was worth every penny, and I was set on food for the game. I utilized their designated driver program, and also got a free lemonade. When you sign up you get a paper wristband saying “designated driver program” and two vouchers for free sodas. I only used the one, but I think it’s nice of them to offer two.

Sharon Robinson (Jackie’s daughter), escorted a fan to the mound for one of the ceremonial first pitches. I had just been to Citi Field the two days prior, where they honor Jackie with his own rotunda. It was cool to see his daughter the very next day. If you want to see my post about the rotunda, you can probably just scroll down to Monday’s post, or simply click here. Sharon Robinson is an educational consultant for Major League Baseball and oversees school and community-based educational programs. She’s done great things and reached millions of children (and adults) through her work, and I’m sure Major League Baseball is grateful to have her as a spokesperson.

The game got underway, and the Astros took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second when they singled, doubled, and singled to open the frame. They scored three more in the third, and it wasn’t looking good for the Crew. Corey Hart cut the lead to four with a solo home run in the top of the fourth. The Astros came right back and scored two in the bottom half, to take a 7-1 lead. One of the Astro runs in the fourth came on a Carlos Lee home run to left field. When an Astros player hits a home run, the train  above the Crawford Boxes (slowly) moves right to left on a track built into on top of the wall. After the train stopped, the “conductor” got out and stood there for the remainder of the inning (you can see him in the picture below). They showed him on the scoreboard trying to get people excited as he pumped his fists and yelled, I’m not sure if it worked, but it was a good effort.

You might ask: “Why a train?”, and I wouldn’t have had a good answer until I did some research. The largest entrance of the park is inside what was once Houston’s Union Station, and the train pays homage to the site’s history. I’ll have to search out the entrance today, because when you’re not really looking for it, or understand what it means, it probably isn’t the most apparent.

The Astros put another run on the board in the seventh, the Brewers scored two in the ninth, and that was all the scoring. Final Score: Astros 8 – Brewers 3. Hopefully the Brewers can turn it around and start a winning streak, a long winning streak. Players underperforming has been a problem thus far, and I’m looking forward to some bounce back as we get deeper into the season.

One last picture, it was visible in the four part picture, but it deserves a full one. As you can see, the foul pole has “Eat Mor Fowl” on it, sponsored by Chick-Fil-A. The addition to the foul poles was unveiled before the 2006 season. All their commercials revolve around cows trying to get humans to eat more chicken, and less beef, so it’s very fitting. If an Astros player hits either “fowl” pole, everyone in attendance gets a free Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich. Well played Chick-Fil-A, well played.

It’s 12:30 pm now, and I’m heading out shortly. I’m going to walk around downtown Houston, take pictures, and just relax. Oh, and get to Jimmy John’s BEFORE 4:00.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Minute Maid Park: 3 hours 58 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 4 hours 23 minutes
Miles riding in car but not driving: 7.4
Flight Miles: 1,661
Public Transit miles: 11.1
Sausages: 1
Pitches Missed: 1 (reading a text message, but it included a picture of Prince, my cat, so I can’t get too upset)
Consecutive pitch streak ended at: 209
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.65% (286/287)
Current streak of pitches seen: 179

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 150 hours 54 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 178 hours 33 minutes
Miles driven: 2,888.1
Miles riding in car but not driving: 690.5
Public Transit miles: 232.1
Flight Miles: 7,519
Total distance traveled: 11,329.6 miles
Sausages: 25 (9 Polish, 7 Hot Dogs, 3 Bratwurst, 2 Italian, Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Corndog, Chicken Apple Sausage)
Pitches missed: 28
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,317 (5/9 – 5/14)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.74% (10,928/10,956)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

5-15-12 (@ New York Mets)

My friend Katie, who met up with Alex and me at the game on April 9th, works for Paragon Marketing Group in Chicago. She has a bunch of contacts, and she hooked me up with an MLB Fan Cave tour. David and I left Luke’s place around 9:45 and stopped at Brooklyn Label, a coffee shop in Brooklyn. I paid $5 for fresh squeezed orange juice, and I think it was worth it. I’m always a little skeptical that it’s just Tropicana OJ with a lot of pulp or something.

We had to transfer twice, and almost jumped on a wrong train a few times, but we made it to the Fan Cave by 11, which is when I was asked to arrive. The exterior isn’t too fancy, but the inside doesn’t disappoint. I have three four-part pictures, and they all go clockwise from top left. The first:

1) The exterior of the Fan Cave, located on Broadway and 4th in Manhattan.

2) The floor with the Fan Cave logo as you walk inside.

3) The foyer, if you will, as you enter off the street.

4) The main level of the Fan Cave, as seen from right inside the entrance, the Cave Monster looms in the distance.

I realize that some of you may not know what the MLB Fan Cave is. In short it’s nine people who are watching all 2,430 Major League Baseball games from this very location. The cave dwellers don’t live there, but they do all live together in an apartment building nearby.

The second four parter shows more of the interior:

1) The Pepsi Max wall. Pepsi sponsors Major League Baseball, and they’ve had some cool commercials with old and new ballplayers alike. On the far left you can just make out the edge of something, it’s a cooler stocked with Pepsi Max.

2) Part of the game area, there is also table shuffleboard and a Skee ball game.

3) The Signature Wall. When MLB players come to the Fan Cave they sign the wall, on one of the “baseballs”.

4) Jonathan Lucroy’s signature, who was at the cave on Monday. He’s the Brewers catcher, and it would’ve been cool to be there when he was, but being there without any players was cool in itself.

More of the interior:

1) The basement. Lenny, who was giving me and David the tour, said that last year it had been darker and more dance-club-ish, but now it’s more of a formal meeting area. Major League Baseball was going to be hosting some of the team owners for meetings later in the day.

2) The view from the upper level of the Fan Cave looking back towards the entrance. Those are baseball bats that are suspended from the ceiling (if you couldn’t tell).

3) The slide, David and I went down, because Lenny made us. It’s a little uncomfortable, and I see why they’re made for kids.

4) The Cave Monster. This is how the cave dwellers watch all 2,430 games. You’re looking at fifteen 42-inch HDTVs. As you can see, they’ve watched 530 games to date, and have another 1900 to go.

When the tour was complete I talked for a few minutes and told them all what I was doing and why (many of them had received an email and had already read about me). They asked some questions and I happily answered them to the best of my knowledge. Afterwards I got a picture with all of the cave dwellers. In the back and from left to right you have: Shaun, Gordon, Ricardo, myself, Eddie, and Rickie. In the front you have Ashley, Lindsay, Ben, and Kyle.

Ben has been growing that beard since the 2011 All-Star game. He also has some impressive tattoos, and he let me take a few pictures. As you can see, he’s got the mascot for each major league team, including some that are now defunct, i.e. the Montreal Expos. On his right side he’s got the AL teams, and on his left side the NL teams. He told us why he got the Brewers on the AL side, but I forget. I’m assuming it’s because up to this point the Brewers have spent the majority of their existence in the American League.

Dave and I left the fan cave around 12:30, and we were back at Luke’s by 1:15. Luke, David, Jesse and I went out for lunch at a local lobster joint, located on Manhattan Avenue in Brooklyn. I referred to it as a lobster joint, and that happens to be it’s name as well. Going clockwise from top left:

1) The exterior of Lobster Joint. The red “Lobster” sign is the only signage on the exterior.

2) The Lobster Joint menu

3) The bar, complete with some anchors and other miscellaneous items.

4) My lunch; The New England lobster roll. It contained lobster chunks (obviously), celery, and fresh herb mayo on a griddled bun, with coleslaw, a pickle, and house made chips on the side. The meal was $17, but it was so good that I don’t regret it.

After lunch we went back to Luke’s, and I got a start on this blog post while they played some FIFA on the PS3. We left for Citi Field at 5:45, and got off the 7 train at 6:33 pm. We were cutting it a little close, but the dismal attendance made it easy to get in the park and up to the Promenade Level (the upper deck for us regular folk). David took game photo number 36, and it’s crazy to think that we’re exactly 2/9 of the way through the season, yikes.

We got to our seats with about ten minutes to spare, and I was hoping that there wouldn’t be any delays. At times it looked like it was misting, but there was nothing substantial. I definitely have lucked out, but this time was pretty important. Making an unexpected trip back to NYC would’ve been costly to the budget, and could’ve made the remainder of the season nightmarish logistically. My worst fear was a cancelled game that never got made up (possible if both teams aren’t in it at the end). Thankfully both games got played, and now I can just worry about making the last 126 games of the season.

The game got off to a great start for the Brewers, as they plated two runs in the top of the second inning. It remained 2-0 into the top of the fifth, when the Brewers struck again, this time with a solo home run from Travis Ishikawa. In the sixth the Crew put four more on the board. Lucroy drove one in with a single, and Ishikawa went deep again, this time a three run shot. For good measure Weeks homered in the seventh, and that wrapped up the scoring. Final Score: Brewers 8 – Mets 0. Good win for the Crew and hopefully they can take the momentum into Houston, where I’ll be in ten hours.

After the game, the guys wanted to go bowling, and even though Luke offered his keys to go back to his place without them, I went with anyways. The place is called Brooklyn Bowl, and it was a nice place, albeit expensive. Since it was a weekday it was a little cheaper, but it was still $40 an hour per lane. I haven’ t bowled in probably nine months, but I was still able to pull out a 164 in the first game. The second game didn’t go so well, and I only got a 99. It was actually really painful because the left leg is the plant leg, so I probably looked really silly/gimpy out there. In the second game Luke bowled a 164, so we had to settle for a tie in the high score department. There was a live band that was finishing up when we got there, and I think they have live bands most nights. They also have this:

They reminded me of those carnival games so much that I was tempted to find some projectiles and try to knock them all down, but I resisted. This greets you as you come into the area where you get your shoes, and the lanes are directly behind the above wall.

It’s been nice Brooklyn, but I’ve got to dash. I’m leaving Luke’s at 4:20 am to catch my 6:00 am flight out of LaGuardia. I connect at Chicago’s Midway Airport, and then it’s on to Houston, where I should be arriving by 11:45 am.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Citi Field: 3 hours 22 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 3 hours 25 minutes
Public Transit miles: 24.8
Sausages: 0
Pitches Missed: 1
Consecutive pitch streak ended at: 302
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.65% (285/286)
Current streak of pitches seen: 102

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 146 hours 56 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 174 hours 10 minutes
Miles driven: 2,888.1
Miles riding in car but not driving: 683.1
Public Transit miles: 221
Flight Miles: 5,858
Total distance traveled: 9,650.1 miles
Sausages: 24 (8 Polish, 7 Hot Dogs, 3 Bratwurst, 2 Italian, Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Corndog, Chicken Apple Sausage)
Pitches missed: 27
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,317 (5/9 – 5/14)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.75% (10,642/10,669)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

5-14-12 (@ New York Mets)

Monday started with a 3:00 am alarm, and my friend David and I were on the road by four. We pulled into the $6 parking at General Mitchell at 5:00 am, and were in the airport by 5:07. We got through security a lot faster than I expected and we were the first people waiting at the gate by 5:30. We boarded the plane at 7:03 and were in the air by 7:30. We touched down at 10:17 eastern time and were in a cab shortly thereafter. It was my first experience with a New York City cabbie, and I can see why they get a bad reputation. He was weaving in and out of traffic, staying in exit lanes while we were in really slow traffic so he could cut 15 or so cars, and so on. We made it safely to Luke’s apartment by 11:15. Luke is a friend of David’s, and he’s also a Fort Atkinson grad, but before my time, I graduated in ’05, he in ’98. He lives in Brooklyn and works for Sports Illustrated, primarily SI.com. He’ll be going to London later this summer to cover the Olympics, and he’s a really cool guy.

After dropping our stuff off, David and I decided it was time for lunch. It was mainly because I had eaten breakfast at 3:05 am, and was getting hungry. We went to Calexico, is a mexican restaurant near Luke’s apartment. Going clockwise from top left:

1) Part of the menu. The Brewers had started a “Where’s Chorizo?” campaign on Mother’s Day, and I tweeted at Bernie Brewer and informed him that I found the missing sausage.

2) The cool lights they had hanging above the bar.

3) David’s beer on the left (Sixpoint’s Tiger IPA), and my beer on the left (Sixpoint’s Seasonal offering; “Diesel”). As you can see, Diesel was a fitting name for it, as it was quite heavy, but very flavorful.

4) My lunch; a Baja Fish (fried cod) Torta, which is a mexican style sandwich on grilled ciabatta bread with avocado, tomato, black bean spread, spicy slaw, and chipotle “crack” sauce. It also came with chile-cilantro fries. For $12, I’d say it was worth it.

After lunch David and I returned to Luke’s as he was finishing up an article for SI.com. We went to the roof of his building, and it provides a great view of the Manhattan skyline. This is looking west at downtown Manhattan, the tallest building in the middle is the Empire State Building.

You can also see the Freedom Tower (“One World Trade Center” legally) from the roof. It is under construction and should open in the summer or fall of 2013. The Freedom Tower is the tallest building in the distance, just to the right of the third smokestack (from the left).

We all took a nap (separately), and bummed around until it was time to go to the game. Another Fort Atkinson grad, Jessy, who is going to grad school in Albany, came down for the series as well. We all left for the subway at 5:45, and after transferring to the 7 train we arrived at the Mets/Willits Point stop at 6:25.

From the elevated stop you can see Citi Field, and after getting to the bottom of the staircase, it was about 150 feet to get to the best spot for game photo number 35. The Mets had this Home Run Apple at Shea Stadium (their old ballpark) and now have it on display outside of Citi Field.

I went to the player will call window and got my game ticket, which was in section 121. It just so happened that Luke, Jessy, and two of their friends also had seats in 121. There was some confusion and David thought that I was going to be getting two tickets, but he was able to get a ticket and sit with the other guys. I sat in my seat which was 13 rows behind them, but eventually moved down and caught the last few innings with them. We had also gotten a picture with the four of us in front of the Home Run Apple. From left to right it’s myself, Jessy, Luke, and David.

We went inside, and I took a bunch of pictures. The home plate entrance is called the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, and it’s pretty sweet. They pay homage to the man who broke the color barrier, and they do so (justifiably) in grand fashion. When you walk in you’re greeted with escalators right in front of you, and staircases going up both sides of the rotunda.

Behind the middle escalators there’s a giant number 42, with Jackie’s full name and some defining words in front of it.

Going up both staircases they have pictures and more defining characteristics above them. No need for descriptions on these.

From the top of the escalators, and looking back down and out of the rotunda provides a nice view. The rotunda was made to somewhat resemble Ebbets Field, and they did a good job.

On the way to my seat I made a pit stop at a concession stand, and picked up a Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog. It was $6, but I’ll say it was at least close to being worth it. I got to my seat, and quickly devoured the dog before the national anthem. Before doing so I got the hot dog with the field in the background. They had ketchup, mustard, onions, relish, and jalapeños as condiment offerings. I put on everything but the jalapeños. I like jalapeños, but just wasn’t in the mood for a spicy dog.

The game got underway, and the Brewers quickly had a runner in scoring position. After Nyjer grounded out Lucroy singled, and advanced to second on Braun’s groundout. I had my camera and was zoomed in on Lucroy at second base when I felt a raindrop hit my forehead. Lucroy must’ve had the same thing happen as I was about to take the picture, because Lucroy began looking skyward.

The Brewers failed to score in the first, but the Mets didn’t, singling home a run in the bottom half. The game stayed 1-0 until the sixth, when the Mets added another run on a suicide squeeze. They added another in the eighth to make it 3-0, when Conrad (the Brewers second basemen), came home on a groundout. The runner on third stopped halfway, and got into a pickle, only to see Ramirez fumble away the ball, and the run scored easily. The Brewers made it interesting in the ninth, pushing across one run, and they had guys on first and second with only one out. Conrad struck out looking, and Georgie flew out to right, and the Brewers lost for the second straight day. Final Score: Mets 3 – Brewers 1.

The Mets didn’t hit a home run during the game, but they show the Home Run Apple in action during the seventh inning stretch. It’s certainly iconic, and the fans are happy that they brought the tradition over from Shea Stadium, albeit with a new apple.

We jumped back on the 7 train after the game, and went back to Brooklyn. Before heading back to Luke’s place, we all agreed that stopping for some pizza and beer was in order. Luke and David had told me about a bar (Lulu’s) where if you buy a pint of beer you get a free pizza. I thought they were messing with me but it’s no joke. If you want toppings (other than cheese), you have to pay $1 per selection, but it’s worth it. I had a wheat beer and then paid an extra $2 to get mushrooms and bacon on my pizza. The result was a pizza that I demolished in about five minutes.

We went back to Luke’s at around midnight, and returned to the rooftop because it was still nice out. I had nowhere to set my camera to get a (really) good night shot, but this will do. The green building is once again the Empire State Building.

It’s 3:00 am, and I’ll be up in about six hours to go to the MLB fan cave, so that’s all for now.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Citi Field: 3 hours 32 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 3 hours 50 minutes
Driving miles: 71
Miles riding in a car but not driving: 8.4
Public Transit miles: 14.2
Flight miles: 735
Sausages: 1 (Nathan’s Hot Dog)
Pitches Missed: 2 (I’m ashamed, I won’t go into too much detail, but I was distracted for one of them when I thought I was going to photo bomb somebody’s picture)
Consecutive pitch streak ended at: 1,317 (the new PR)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.29% (281/283)
Current streak of pitches seen: 119

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 143 hours 34 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 170 hours 45 minutes
Miles driven: 2,888.1
Miles riding in car but not driving: 683.1
Public Transit miles: 196.2
Flight Miles: 5,858
Total distance traveled: 9,625.3 miles
Sausages: 24 (8 Polish, 7 Hot Dogs, 3 Bratwurst, 2 Italian, Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Corndog, Chicken Apple Sausage)
Pitches missed: 26
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,317 (5/9 – 5/14)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.75% (10,357/10,383)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

5-13-12 (vs. Chicago Cubs)

Today is Mother’s Day, and I spent it with my mom (Sue) at Miller Park. When I got home I went and found a picture of us when I was just a little guy. The picture was dated July 4th, 1988. I noticed that my two sisters wanted to be in the picture as well, and you can see their heads in the lower left hand corner.

We left for the game at 11:00, and made a pit stop at Jimmy John’s to get a sub for the game. This idea later backfired as I was eating my sub in the first inning. One of the Cubs fouled a pitch back my way and I wasn’t prepared. It was across the aisle, but there wasn’t anyone in the row where the ball landed, it would’ve been an easy catch. I had told someone that I expected to catch one by the 20th home game. Today was the 18th, and I still haven’t caught one, there have been a bunch of close calls, but no luck.

We got to the Cooooooooooooper parking lot at 12:30, and decided to try and get the game number picture taken before the game. The line to get into Miller Park was quite long, because it was somewhat close to first pitch, and it was a sellout for the Yovani Gallardo bobblehead. We opened the boxes and saw that one of them was the retro version (NICE!), but didn’t take them all the way out to inspect. When we got home I took them out, and to my surprise one of them displayed Gallardo in a post-dismemberment fashion. I should’ve checked them right away, and then asked for a replacement, but we were in a hurry. I’m hoping I can exchange it during the next home-stand, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll believe me. I’m a (somewhat) honest person, but there are probably people who accidentally break it, and then come back and claim it was like that when they got it. This was such a clean “break”, that if it came with the arm loose in the box I would’ve probably just glued it back on myself.

Once inside, we headed for section 438, after today I’ll only need two more game number pictures from the upper deck. After that it’s down to the loge level.

As you can see in the picture above, the two panels that would normally be tucked above the stationary one are partially extended. They do this to eliminate the roof-line-shadow from splitting the mound and the batter’s box. It makes it more difficult for the batters, because the pitch will come from the sunlight, and at the halfway point enter the shadows, making it tough to pick-up. They didn’t always do this, and Ben Sheets (a former Brewers pitcher), may have benefited from it during his 18 strikeout performance in May of 2004. The roof-line-shadow would only split the mound and batters box for part of the game, but I guess they want to keep it consistent for the entire game.

After getting the picture taken we went down to our seats, after stopping to say “YOOOOOOO!!!” to the ice man. He hangs out selling beer above section 215 before most games, so if you want to see who I keep referring to, go say hi. At some point I’ll get my picture taken with him, but I keep forgetting. When we made it to our seats I had a nearby fan take a picture of my mom and I. I’ve gotten a little bit bigger than the first picture of this entry.

Bernie Brewer and his mom were up in Bernie’s dugout throughout the game, and I got a picture of them shortly after they finished dancing to Roll Out the Barrel. Bernie’s mom had a cane and was hobbling around up there. I think the cane was just part of the act, but I can’t say for sure.

On Mother’s Day the MLB temporarily allows the use of pink bats to help raise awareness for breast cancer and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization. For some reason, none of the Brewers decided to use a pink bat. Some of the Cubs did, and the picture below shows Starlin Castro at the plate using one and Bryan LaHair in the on deck circle with one as well. Bill Hall, a former Brewer, hit a walk-off home run using a pink bat on Mother’s Day back in 2006, with his mother in the stands. The bat went to auction and Mark Attanosia (the Brewers owner) won the bat with a $25,000 bid, and gave the bat to Hall’s mother. The home run provided a great moment, and Attanasio made it last with the very kind gesture.

Nyjer Morgan, who didn’t get the start, was sporting pink arm bands and some pink cleats. He did wind up making an appearance in the ninth inning as a pinch hitter.

The game itself was close early, but the Cubs blew it open in the later innings. It was tied at two a piece going into the top of the seventh inning, but the Cubs scored 1, 2, and 3 runs in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings, respectively. Final Score: Cubs 8 – Brewers 2. I would elaborate further, but there really wasn’t much excitement. The first Brewers run scored on a sacrifice fly, and the second on an infield single by Taylor Green, who had both RBIs for the Crew.

After getting back to town, we decided to hit up Frostie Freeze, Fort Atkinson’s answer to any soft serve ice cream establishment on planet earth. I may be a little biased, but not much. It opened in 1983 and has been providing Fort Atkinson with ice cream and other cold treats for almost three decades now. It’s open during the Spring and Summer months, and if you’re ever in town I suggest you make a visit. The first picture is of the exterior of Frostie Freeze, which is located on Madison Avenue, just across the street from Vos Sentry Foods. The second picture is what I ordered; an Oreo-peanut butter cup Candy Freeze. At $2.50 it’s a steal.

My flight from Milwaukee to New York (LaGuardia), leaves at 7:14 am tomorrow morning, and I’m leaving the house at 3:45 am. I just checked the weather, and the forecast for Monday and Tuesday is looking grim. Monday calls for “showers” (50% chance of rain), and Tuesday calls for “rain” (70%). I’m hoping that it somehow misses us, but it’s not looking too good. I don’t know when games could be made up, and the Brewers are only making the one scheduled visit to NYC this year. A one game (or two game) makeup date is possible, but unlikely. If both teams are way back in the standings towards the end of the season, they could just not play the games. It’s happened before, and the season could end for both teams with only 160 or 161 games played. I know it’s really early, but I always imagine the worst case scenario and then am pleasantly surprised when things don’t go nearly as bad as I thought they might.

The next time you hear from me it should be after a COMPLETED game against the Mets, late Monday night.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Miller Park: 3 hours 52 minutes
Time on Miller Park grounds: 4 hours 14 minutes
Driving miles: 123.3
Sausages: 0
Pitches Missed: 0 (My first perfect series!!!)
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (315/315)
Current streak of pitches seen: 1,204 (A new personal record)

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 140 hours 2 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 166 hours 55 minutes
Miles driven: 2,817.1
Miles riding in car but not driving: 674.7
Public Transit miles: 182
Flight Miles: 5,359
Total distance traveled: 8,796.8 miles
Sausages: 23 (8 Polish, 6 Hot Dogs, 3 Bratwurst, 2 Italian, Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Corndog, Chicken Apple Sausage)
Pitches missed: 24
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,204 (5/9 – present)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.76% (10,076/10,100)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

5-12-12 (vs. Chicago Cubs)

I didn’t get done writing the post for Friday’s game until 3:00 am, and I finally got to bed just before 3:40. My alarm was set for 9:20, and I was really tempted to just turn it off and go back to sleep. I resisted, and I left the house just before 10:00. I was meeting three friends at Crandall’s place in town, but when I got there one of the three wasn’t there. I texted him three times and called his cell phone seven times in a span of 15 minutes, I also tried his landline three times. At 10:30 we decided to leave without him. When we were five minutes away he texted saying his phone had died so he didn’t have an alarm. I wasn’t too upset but had been looking forward to going to the game with him. We didn’t have time to turn around or any of that nonsense, and any other delays would’ve made it extremely close.

We pulled into the back of the Money lot at 11:45 and made our way towards Miller Park. There was no time to get the game number picture taken in the upper deck before the game. I told Crandall and Brietzke (the other attendee), that we’d have to get it done after the game, which they were fine with. I was in my seat with six minutes to spare. That was cutting it a little too close for comfort. Crandall and Brietzke had seats in section 228, and it was just me in my usual 221. After I learned that Tyler (the guy who slept in), was not going to make it, I posted a tweet asking if any of my tweeps wanted to join me for the game, but I think it was a little late.

The game got underway and the Crew got down early. A double play groundout by the Cubs’ Castro gave them a 1-0 lead in the first. The Brewers came right back with a run of their own in the bottom of the frame. Nyjer Morgan doubled and Braun was hit by a pitch, and it turned into a first and third situation with two outs. Braun was on first and started running for second, the Cubs’ pitcher Volstad stepped off the mound after the old fake-to-third-go-to-first-move. Volstad ran at Braun and a pickle ensued, Nyjer Morgan started inching towards home, and then took off and scored the tying run without a throw. Braun was tagged out, but Morgan crossed the plate first, so the run counted.

At one point during the game the people behind me pointed out that this guy was in one of the booths:

Rollie Fingers! Still sporting the handlebar mustache. After doing a quick Wikipedia search, I learned that he had originally grew the mustache to get a $300 bonus from then Oakland Athletics owner Charles Finley. Fingers pitched for the Brewers from 1981 to 1985, and won the AL MVP and Cy Young Awards during the 1981 season. If he hadn’t torn a muscle in his arm and was available for the 1982 Fall Classic, the Brewers may very well be the owners of a World Series trophy.

The game stayed tied at one a piece until the bottom of the sixth. Lucroy doubled to open the frame, and Braun followed with a single. Ramirez forced Braun out at second, but Lucroy came home with the go-ahead run. Corey Hart doubled, and Ramirez moved to third, leaving first base open. The Cubs thought they would be better off facing the light hitting backup infielder Edwin Maysonet (hmmmmm) and walked Ishikawa to get to him. On the second pitch Maysonet hit a Grand Slam to left field, and the Brewers grabbed control of the game with a 6-1 lead. Here’s Maysonet as he prepares to get a congratulatory hand shake from Brewers third base coach Ed Sedar.

The Cubs put one on the board in the eighth, but the Brewers answered with two of their own in the bottom half, and that was all the scoring. Final Score: Brewers 8 – Cubs 2. More handshakes and high fives followed the victory. It was a great win for the Crew, a great outing from Marcum (7 ip, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K), and a “salami” from an unexpected source.

After waiting for the concourse to clear we went up to section 436 to get the game number picture. Just a few more games and I’ll be moving down to the loge (2nd) level and doing the same gradual progression around the stadium.

On our way back to the car we noticed something strange. From a distance we could see two people standing on the roof of a white van, but we couldn’t make out who. When we got closer we realized that they were young girls, I would say between 7 and 10 (I’m terrible with ages now). They were both standing up there, and when we were walking past, the adults were throwing things up there for them to catch (I think it was bottle caps). Now, I’m no parent, but I don’t think I’d want my kids on the roof of a van, when it would be pretty easy to slip or stumble off. Even though it may look like it, Crandall (pictured in white on the right) is not relieving himself next to the van.

Mother’s day is tomorrow and I’m taking my mom to the game. A good time should be had by all.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Miller Park: 3 hours 26 minutes
Time on Miller Park grounds: 3 hours 46 minutes
Driving miles: 125.8
Sausages: 0
Pitches Missed: 0 (I like where this is going)
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (278/278)

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 136 hours 10 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 162 hours 41 minutes
Miles driven: 2,693.8
Miles riding in car but not driving: 674.7
Public Transit miles: 182
Flight Miles: 5,359
Total distance traveled: 8,673.5 miles
Sausages: 23 (8 Polish, 6 Hot Dogs, 3 Bratwurst, 2 Italian, Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Corndog, Chicken Apple Sausage)
Pitches missed: 24
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,116 (4/22 – 4/25)
Current streak of pitches seen: 889
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.75% (9,761/9,785)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

5-11-12 (vs. Chicago Cubs)

Friday was another long day. I am just starting to write this post at 1:52 am on Saturday morning. I’ll be back at Miller Park in nine hours. I’ll start from the beginning of Friday though. I had two doctor’s appointments scheduled for Friday, one at 9:20 and the other at 10:30. The first was with the orthopedic doctor regarding my knee. We looked at the MRI together and he pointed out the parts of my left leg bones that have dead tissue (bone infarction). They show up as a different shade of gray on the screen, and are “outlined” in black. He said the problem could fix itself, and that they have likely been there for quite a while. He doesn’t think that it’s related to the knee pain, and he prescribed some physical therapy. We’ll see if I can work that into my schedule, but hearing that I can’t really further the damage is a relief. It’s still strange to think that parts of my bones are dead, but can slowly come back to life, if you will.

The other appointment was for my elbow, and the doctor also prescribed physical therapy. There is a Dean clinic in Fort that I may be able to get both done at, so I’ll have to try and work that in. It’ll have to wait until the 21st at the earliest, because I’ll be in New York and Houston this coming week.

I got back to Fort around noon, and began packing stuff up for the game. Victoria had planned a tailgate-date, and were looking forward to the two person tailgate. We met in Johnson Creek, and we arrived at Miller Park just before 4 pm. We had to wait a few minutes for the lots to open, but once they did we got a spot right up towards the front. After a few minutes of heating up, the charcoal was ready.

We had Johnsonville Polish sausages and some Oscar Mayer turkey dogs. I wound up eating two polish and one turkey dog, as well as some cole slaw, fruit salad, some wheat thins, and a few beers. I was quite full when we went in for the game. If we could’ve gotten the front row parking spot this picture would have been much better, as is it contains a stranger just glaring at my camera. The bokeh makes her un-identifiable, but it still diminishes a pretty good photo opportunity. Incased meats and Miller Park, it’s hard to beat that combination.

We tailgated until 6:10 and then headed inside so we could get game photo number 32 without having too many people in the way. It worked out well as the row I was in had people on both aisles, but none where I was standing; nice! I forgot to mention in Wednesday’s post, but Kathy Schwab, the Brewers Senior Director of Marketing, who is my main point of contact, stopped by and gave me two new shirts. Thanks Kathy! I wore one for Friday’s game, thus the mention.

After getting the game number picture out of the way, we met up with Alex and Jess. I stayed with them at their apartment in Chicago from April 9th to April 13th, when the Brewers had a four game series with the Cubs. Alex was born and raised in a Chicago suburb, so he’s a Cubs fan. Jess was born and raised in Wisconsin, so she is a Brewers fan. They both aren’t too serious of fans, so it works for them, I don’t know I could do the same. Jess and her family were at the game, and she has told me recently that her dad is a huge fan of the blog, and actually has it as his homepage. So I have to give a shout out to Dave, a Wisconsinite through and through, thanks for the support and the loyalty. We had a picture taken while we were in the upper deck of the six of us. The back row is myself, Victoria, Alex, Jess, and Matt (Jess’ brother). In front is Jess’ dad, Dave, he’s holding up eight fingers for Ryan Braun’s number (at least that’s what he told us). I hope this also doesn’t double as a gang sign, because then Dave, and myself (by association), might be in trouble.

We got down to our seats in section 221 just in time. I ran to the bathroom quick before the game started as Victoria went to the seats. When I came back down the staircase I saw Victoria sitting in seat 13, as usual, and sat next to her. In the first inning someone came down and said: “we have the five on the aisle”. I came back with “wrong row, this is row six”. The guy said it wasn’t, and I even pointed to the side of the chair and said “it says row six right here” (without actually looking at it myself). It was then that we realized Victoria had sat down in row eight, and we actually were in their seats. I felt like a complete moron for trying to tell the guy off. I blame myself for not double checking when I came down the aisle, but a little blame has to go to Victoria for sitting in the wrong seats in the first place. I’ll cut her some slack though because I’m usually leading the way to our seats.

The game was a marathon. Sixteen pitchers between the two teams were used, and four hundred sixty six pitches were thrown, yes I said 466! The game started at 7:10 and lasted until 12:14 am. The Brewers got on the board early with a run in the first, but they should have gotten more. Aramis Ramirez grounded into a double play with the bases loaded, and the run that scored on the play was the lone run until the seventh inning. The Brewers’ Jose Veras loaded the bases with only one out, and Kameron Loe was brought in to try and induce an inning ending double play. Instead, on the first pitch he threw, David DeJesus took him deep for a grand slam, and the Cubs had a 4-1 lead, just like that.

The Brewers got two quick outs in the bottom of the seventh but Bruan walked and Aramis Ramirez doubled him home. An infield single and a walk followed, which gave the pinch-hitting Lucroy a chance with the bases loaded. Almost everyone was on their feet, including Mr. Baseball himself, Bob Uecker.

Lucroy hit a scorching double to the right field corner, and the Brewers took a 5-4 lead heading into the eighth inning. K-Rod got the job done in the eighth, but Axford blew the save, and ended his streak of 49 consecutive “saves”. I put it in quotes because like I said before, I’m not a big fan of the created statistic. The Brewers still had a chance in the ninth, even though a lot of Brewers fans didn’t think so, and many headed for the exits after the Cubs took the 7-5 lead. Braun flied out, Ramirez walked, which brought Chart (yes, I mean Chart: C+Hart=Chart) to the plate as the tying run. That is all you can really hope for in those situations; bring up the tying run and hope for the best. Chart had a great at bat, and on the 10th pitch he sent one deep to left that tied it up at seven.

Both bullpens did a great job of keeping it tied, but in the 13th, the Brewers prevailed. After loading the bases with nobody out, Chart came to the plate again, and this time sent a bouncer up the middle that reached the outfield, and Rickie came home as the winning run. Final Score: Brewers 8 – Cubs 7. All the players mobbed Chart after he got to first. It’s hard to beat a walk-off, especially when it’s at 12:14 am.

I’m leaving Fort at 10 am for the game, and since it’s 3 am now, I should probably get some sleep.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Miller Park: 5 hours 52 minutes
Time on Miller Park grounds: 8 hours 27 minutes
Driving miles: 189
Sausages: 3 (2 Polish, 1 Turkey Dog)
Pitches Missed: 0 (Basically two games in one!)
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (466/466)

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 132 hours 44 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 158 hours 55 minutes
Miles driven: 2,568.0
Miles riding in car but not driving: 674.7
Public Transit miles: 182
Flight Miles: 5,359
Total distance traveled: 8,548 miles
Sausages: 23 (8 Polish, 6 Hot Dogs, 3 Bratwurst, 2 Italian, Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Corndog, Chicken Apple Sausage)
Pitches missed: 24
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,116 (4/22 – 4/25)
Current streak of pitches seen: 611
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.75% (9,483/9,507)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE