9-25-12 (@ Cincinnati)

On Tuesday I slept in and then worked on the blog for Monday. I hobbled around all morning and afternoon as sleep didn’t do much for the knee. I think the jogging for a quarter mile to get my license plate may have something to do with it. Barry, who works for the Bengals, picked me up at 5:35 and we were parked 17 minutes later. We parked at Paul Brown Stadium and made the 10 minute walk to the ballpark. Barry had found a great deal on StubHub for one of the all-inclusive areas (minus alcohol). The tickets are usually $85 but he found them for $13; score! Here’s the sign on the field level concourse for the Champions Club (sponsored by FS Ohio).

After taking the elevator to the club level and getting my wristband I came across a giant (Reds) C on the floor.

To the left they have hot dogs and typical ballpark food but the rest of the Champions Club has a bunch of other options. This is the seating area with the serving areas scattered along the outside.

My first time up I had some shrimp pasta with pesto sauce and a BBQ pulled pork sandwich. Both were very good.

My second time up I had a piece of pizza that I’m not 100% sure what was on it. I think it was bacon and hot peppers with barbecue sauce. I also had some beef fried rice. I think there was a little too much barbecue sauce on the pizza and a little too much oil in the rice dish. Overall I was satisfied with the offerings they had, and for $13 you can’t go wrong.

After eating we went out to the seating area to get game photo number 154. Barry said that he was going to get it in one take this time and he delivered. Nice job Barry!

The game started at 7:10 and Norichika Aoki took a ball from Reds starter Johnny Cueto.

Fiers got the start for the Brewers and he’s been struggling a bit as of late. His first two and a half months he was suspiciously phenomenal so some regression was expected. Here he is about to throw the first pitch of the bottom of the 1st. He usually has a nice beard going but on Tuesday he went with the mustache and the mustache only. I’m guessing he was doing it to try and change his luck.

Five of the first six batters in the bottom of the 2nd singled off Fiers and the Reds took a 2-0 lead. It could’ve been worse though and with one out Fiers induced an inning-ending double play. In the 5th the Brewers cut the deficit in half when Segura singled home Gomez. Segura tried going to third when the ball got past the catcher but was thrown out in the process. Schafer was set to pinch hit for Fiers and I would’ve liked to see him get a shot with Segura at second. The Reds came right back and scored two more runs in the bottom of the 5th.

At some point I took a picture of the Great American Insurance Group building that sits across the street from GABP. I like the clouds and the dark blue sky behind the building.

Aramis Ramirez hit a solo home run in the top of the 7th but that’s all the closer the Brewers got. Final score: Reds 4 – Brewers 2. It was a tough loss and with the Cardinals win over the Astros the playoffs are a long shot. If the Brewers win their last 8 games the Cardinals would have to go 3-4, and that’s just to force a one game playoff in St. Louis for the second wild card spot. Not impossible but it’ll be extremely difficult and the Brewers will need some assistance as well. No matter what happens the recent surge (24 wins in 30 games) has made the final month and a half much more exciting.

It’s past noon on Wednesday and I’m meeting Barry and his friend Will (a Reds fan) at 5:00 to have a few beers before game two of the series. I’m a little nervous that one of the next two games will get rained out. If that happens and the Reds (or Brewers) don’t need the game to be made up, then I’ll have to change this years journey to Mission 161. That doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside Great American Ballpark: 3 hours 56 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 4 hours 0 minutes
Miles riding in car but not driving: 17.8
Sausages: 0
Pitches missed: 1 (Missed the 0-2 pitch to Weeks in the 4th when a vendor in the club level was handing out free popcorn and I lost focus)
Consecutive pitch streak ended at: 791
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.63% (272/273)
Current streak of pitches seen: 160

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 79-75 (.513 winning percentage)
Time inside stadiums: 655 hours 33 minutes 
Time on stadium grounds: 769 hours 3 minutes
Miles driven: 18,912.7
Miles riding in car but not driving: 2,306.2
Public transit miles: 552.2
Flight miles: 19,777
Total distance traveled: 41,548.0 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 166.85% (41,548.0/24,901)
Sausages: 95 (37 Hot Dogs, 31 Polish, 12 Bratwurst, 5 Corndogs, 2 Italian, 2 Cheddarwurst, 2 Bison Dogs, Chicken Apple Sausage, Blueberry & Merlot Venison Sausage, Sausage Race on a Stick, Elk Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage)
Pitches missed: 103
Longest streak of pitches seen: 2,192 (8/27 – 9/3)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.78% (46,066/46,169)

If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

9-24-12 (@ Washington)

Monday’s finale was a 1:05 start and the original plan was to drive down to the Forest Glen Metro stop and take the red line to the green line to get to Nationals Park. I wanted to do this so when I returned to my car after the game I’d be closer to the outskirts of the DC Metropolitan area. I got to the Forest Glen park and ride around 10:45 only to find every single one of the 596 parking spaces taken. I didn’t physically see that every spot was taken but after going up and down a few rows and seeing the sign that said “Parking lot full?” (with suggestions) I knew it fills up regularly. When I got there another car was going up and down the aisles and after I drove past the lot 5 minutes later they were still doing it, confirming my assumption. I considered driving over a curb, parking in the grass and throwing an invisibility cloak over my car, but then I remembered that Harry Potter had joined me for Friday’s game only.

I drove north to the Wheaton park and ride but I couldn’t find it. There was a sign that said park and ride with an arrow pointing right. I turned right but never saw another sign for the park and ride. I drove around a mall looking for an additional sign but didn’t see anything. I was getting a little nervous about the time so I decided to head back to the Greenbelt Metro stop because I knew where it was. The Greenbelt station has over 3,300 spaces and luckily there were still a couple hundred left (I think).

I was inside Nationals Park at 12:18 and I’m glad I had wanted to get there extra early. If I had planned on getting there at 12:30 I probably would’ve missed the first inning. I went to the Red Porch seats for game photo number 153. If I look to be tinted a little red it’s because the red seats reflected their color pretty well.

After getting the picture taken I went to the area just inside the centerfield entrance and got my picture taken with Teddy. I whispered in his giant ear that he’d win one of these days.

I wandered a little and noticed a few banners on the parking garage beyond the left field corner. The sun’s reflection washes out the green certification logo, but you get the picture.

I went to the upper deck to get a picture of two things; the Capitol building and the Washington Monument. Mission accomplished:

They are both kind of small so you can click on the images to view a bigger picture. I walked towards the elevators near home plate in the upper deck and got a slice of tomato basil pizza at one of the concession stands. Not amazing, but still good. The concession stand workers refer to it as “Tom-B” in case you were wondering.

I took the elevator down to the main concourse and went to my seat in section 128. My former coworker’s husband works for a firm that also has an office in DC. John (who works in the DC office) was visiting Madison and went to Mallards game in June with people from my former place of employment. Pam (my former coworker) told John about what I was doing and he reached out to me. He offered me one of his season tickets for Monday’s game. Thanks John!

Jordan Zimmermann, who grew up in Auburndale, WI, was on the mound for the Nationals. My girlfriend, Victoria, went to school in Auburndale through the 2nd grade (OMG!!!). I hate OMG and LOL so I use them as a joke sometimes. The first pitch of the game was a called strike to Aoki.

Rickie Weeks walked with one out and then Aramis Ramirez hit one to center and deep…

…. where it was caught by 19-year-old Bryce Harper before crashing into the wall. Kids these days, I tell ya. A few of his teammates waited on the field to show their appreciation for his efforts.

Marco Estrada started for the Brewers, and here he is shortly after releasing the first pitch of his outing.

The Nationals took a 1-0 lead when Harper stole third base and then scored when Lucroy’s throw sailed into left field. The Brewers got that run back in a hurry when Corey Hart homered on the first pitch of the 2nd inning. Hart is playing through a partial tear to some tissue in the arch of his foot. You the man, Corey!

In the bottom of the 2nd Estrada retired the side in order. The last out was a fly out to centerfield from Kurt Suzuki. I think this picture of Gomez making the catch is a little funny because you can’t see his face. He was probably shielding the sun with his glove because it was right above the stadium behind home plate. Foreshadowing??? Perhaps…

In the top of the 4th Jonathan Lucroy grounded out to end the half inning and he broke his bat in the process.

The bottom of the 4th was a tough pill to swallow and the Nationals erupted for 6 runs. With two outs and two on Estrada was facing the pitcher which is normally a good position to be in. Zimmermann helped his own cause and he drove in Bernadina with a single. The next batter was Jayson Werth and he lifted what seemed to be a harmless fly ball to centerfield. It looked like Gomez had it all lined up but then at the last second he darted to his left and dove for the ball. It hit off the heel of his glove and it goes down as a sun-assisted 2-run double for Werth. Ugh. Harper walked and then Ryan Zimmerman connected for a 3-run home run to wrap up the inning to forget.

The Nats scored two more in the 5th and it appeared the game was out of reach. I tweeted this yesterday but I felt like if there was ever a game to leave early, this was it. I wanted to get on the road to start my 500 mile drive and a 7-run deficit, while not insurmountable, is pretty close. I couldn’t do it though and I stayed for the remainder of the game.

Zimmermann departed after six and two thirds to a nice ovation from the home crowd.  He gave up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run while striking out 7.

During the 7th inning stretch Screech (the Nationals mascot) was on top of the home dugout. On a side note, shouldn’t he have wings and not arms?

Ramirez hit his 50th double of the season in the 8th inning to drive in Braun. The Nationals answered with three runs of their own in the bottom half. Final score: Nationals 12 – Brewers 2. That’s not a pretty linescore if you’re a Brewers fan.

Early in the game a helicopter flew overhead and after some zooming I realized that it’s Marine One.

I took the green line back to the Greenbelt station and left DC after the Brewers split the four game series. I made a pit stop on I-70 to handle some business. I got my license plate back! I won’t go into too much detail but I’m just glad I won’t be needing to buy replacement plates now. I stopped for gas and some snacks at 11:10 and then drove the remaining three hours to Cincinnati. My knee has gotten to the point that I am considering encasing myself in bubble wrap so I can just log roll everywhere I need to go (that might hurt just as much so I’ll keep brainstorming).

It’s 2:30 PM on Tuesday afternoon and Barry (who has joined me for 4 of the 6 games at Great American Ballpark) got us nice all-you-can-eat seats (not ballpark food) in the club level. Between the hours of 8 PM and 6 AM there is between a 50 and 70% chance of rain: this should be interesting.

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside Nationals Park: 4 hours 14 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 4 hours 15 minutes
Miles driven: 549.8
Public transit miles: 27.8
Sausages: 0
Pitches missed: 0
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (334/334)
Current streak of pitches seen: 679

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 79-74 (.516 winning percentage)
Time inside stadiums: 651 hours 37 minutes 
Time on stadium grounds: 765 hours 3 minutes
Miles driven: 18,912.7
Miles riding in car but not driving: 2,288.4
Public transit miles: 552.2
Flight miles: 19,777
Total distance traveled: 41,530.2 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 166.78% (41,530.2/24,901)
Sausages: 95 (37 Hot Dogs, 31 Polish, 12 Bratwurst, 5 Corndogs, 2 Italian, 2 Cheddarwurst, 2 Bison Dogs, Chicken Apple Sausage, Blueberry & Merlot Venison Sausage, Sausage Race on a Stick, Elk Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage)
Pitches missed: 102
Longest streak of pitches seen: 2,192 (8/27 – 9/3)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.78% (45,794/45,896)

If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

9-23-12 (@ Washington)

My aunt and uncle joined me for Sunday’s game and we left their house at 11:15. We drove down to Nationals Park and were at the player will call window by 12:20. After getting my ticket we went inside and made our way to the upper deck. My uncle Jon did the honors for game photo number 152. The capitol building is partially visible on the far left.

After getting the picture taken we went down the ramp in the right field corner to get to the second level. On our way down I took a picture of the Anacostia River from the ramp.

When we got down to the second level we started walking towards the right field corner. On the way I noticed an owl perched on a steel beam. WHOOO WHOOO!! (owl noises). The owl is right above the Miller Lite logo on the left side of the picture. It’s to keep pigeons from perching on the beam which is a good thing because I could see people getting surprises in the beer as they walk under.

Kyle (who had me on the field on Friday) had suggested Shake Shack so I had been craving a shake since Friday. After looking at the menu I asked the worker if the “concretes” were drinkable with a straw (I should’ve known they weren’t). He thought about it and then said yes. I went with that but then as he handed me the ice cream creation (with a spoon in it) he said “oh, I guess it isn’t. I was going to just take it but another worker saw what happened and gave me a chocolate shake. I tried handing back the ice cream but she said to keep it. That was very nice of her but what was I supposed to do with two desserts? My uncle Jon (who doesn’t really eat sweets) had half of it, so it wasn’t *completely* wasted. I also got a pulled pork sandwich from Blue Smoke and I was a little disappointed in the sandwich’s size. I should’ve put something next to it so you could scale the sandwich. It was $8.75 so I guess I shouldn’t have been expecting a monstrosity of a sandwich.

On our way down to the field level I noticed all the MLB team logos on the side of a parking garage (in case you forget).

Jon and Candy had seats in section 107 and mine was in 114. I told them that I would let them know if there were open seats around me so we could sit together. I got to my seat in time to see military members on the field to greet the players when they came out to start the game. The starting nine came out and shook hands with them, I assume signed a ball, and then the military members hustled off the field. Very nice, Nationals, very nice.

Shortly thereafter Chien-Ming Wang threw a strike to Aoki to get things started.

Yovani Gallardo got the start for the Crew and here is right before releasing the first pitch of his outing.

The game was scoreless going into the top of the 4th and Braun led off the inning by flying one to centerfield.

I think the ball is out of the frame. If not then I just lost it, kind of like Bryce Harper losing it in the sun. The ball landed a few feet from him and Braun wound up at second with a gift double. Danny Espinosa, the Nationals’ second basemen, was nice and took Braun’s ankle guard over to Garth Iorg at first. Sometimes the umpires do it, sometimes the player and coach meet halfway.

Aramis Ramirez flew out and Corey Hart singled, moving Braun to 3rd base. Lucroy was up next and he singled to right field, driving in Braun and giving the Brewers a 1-0 lead.

Logan Schafer had gotten the start in centerfield and he followed Lucroy with an RBI double. Atta kid!!! The Brewers had runners on second and third with only one out but failed to push another run across in the 4th.

In the middle of the 4th Teddy Roosevelt *almost* won the Presidents Race. Oh the humanity!!!

The Brewers’ 2-0 lead didn’t last long and the Nationals scored two runs in the bottom of the 5th.

On Friday and Saturday I saw a beer vendor using a contraption to slice off the tops of beer cans. This of course made it easier to pour the delicious goodness into cups for serving. I thought it was cool but think it’s even cooler now that I learned he invented the inspector-gadget-like device himself. I met up with John, a former coworker’s husband’s colleague who works in DC. I picked up my ticket for Monday’s game (he said he should be able to join me) and we talked for a bit. I brought it up and John told me that the guy invented it himself. Awesome sauce! He clips the device onto a can of beer and then I’m assuming pulls a trigger that starts the slicing process. You can see it takes the very top of the can right off, allowing him to quickly poor the can into a plastic cup. I don’t know how much time it actually saves but if nothing else it should get him more sales because people want to see the thing in action. Well done, sir, well done.

 

The game was tied at two as we entered the top of the 7th. The Brewers scored three runs and two of them wouldn’t have scored if the Nationals’ right fielder hadn’t lost a pop up in the sun. Thank you sun for the assist on Sunday. I didn’t take any pictures of the action because I was meeting up with Jon and Candy so that we could sit together. I didn’t miss any pitches but I was up in the concourse and then getting situated when the runs were scored. Braun added a sacrifice fly in the top of the 8th inning. Between the 8th and the 9th I had a fan a few rows behind us take a picture of me, Candy and Jon. Jon isn’t a huge Brewers fan because he didn’t live in Wisconsin very long, and some of those years Milwaukee didn’t have a team. He is a big Packers fan though, and Candy has adopted them as her team as well (i.e. the “Claymate” shirt). I can’t thank them enough for letting me stay at their house for four nights. Thanks Jon and Candy!

For the bottom of the 9th we walked over to the left field corner so we could exit right after the last out. Veras came in becuase it was a 4-run lead and not a save situation. Veras retired two of the four he faced but he walked the other two. The second walk brought the tying run to the on deck circle, so Roenicke went to Axford since it was now a save situation. Axford came in and threw four pitches, the last of which was lined to centerfield where Carlos Gomez made the catch. If you’re curious the ball is three rows above the W in “Watch MLB Tonight on MLB Network”, just to the right of the lady in red with her arms crossed.

Brewer win! Brewers win! Final score: Brewers 6 – Nationals 2. The Cardinals beat the Cubs 6-3 so the the Brewers still trail St. Louis by 2.5 games. The Cardinals have three at the Astros and then finish up with the Nationals and Reds at home. Hopefully both the Nationals and Reds will be trying to get the higher seed for a potential NLCS showdown. Having the second seed might be better this year since the top seed will be going to the wild card game winner’s park for the first two games of the NLDS. Go Astros! and Go Brewers!

I’m driving to the Forest Glen Metro stop on Monday and then taking the train in. After the game I’ll return via the train and then start my 8-ish hour drive to Cincinnati.

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside Nationals Park: 4 hours 57 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 5 hours 17 minutes
Miles riding in a car but not driving: 74.0
Sausages: 0
Pitches missed: 0
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (331/331)
Current streak of pitches seen: 345

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 79-73 (.520 winning percentage)
Time inside stadiums: 647 hours 23 minutes 
Time on stadium grounds: 760 hours 48 minutes
Miles driven: 18,362.9
Miles riding in car but not driving: 2,288.4
Public transit miles: 524.5
Flight miles: 19,777
Total distance traveled: 40,952.7 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 164.46% (40,952.7/24,901)
Sausages: 95 (37 Hot Dogs, 31 Polish, 12 Bratwurst, 5 Corndogs, 2 Italian, 2 Cheddarwurst, 2 Bison Dogs, Chicken Apple Sausage, Blueberry & Merlot Venison Sausage, Sausage Race on a Stick, Elk Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage)
Pitches missed: 102
Longest streak of pitches seen: 2,192 (8/27 – 9/3)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.78% (45,460/45,562)

If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

9-22-12 (@ Washington)

On Saturday I woke up around 9:30 and had some breakfast before leaving at 10:45. I parked at the Greenbelt stop and boarded the train at 11:20. We sat there for almost 10 minutes and then finally departed. Once I got off the train at the Navy Yard – Ballpark stop I walked towards the centerfield gate and had a nearby lady (Kim) take game photo number 151. I normally try to get the exterior ballpark picture from behind home plate, but someone I asked on Friday said that there really wasn’t good exterior signage by the home plate entrance. I told Kim my story and thanked her for helping me out. I then went to the player will call window near home plate to get my ticket. Since I was there I figured I should at least look if they have anything on the exterior. I think this would classify as exterior signage.

Those numbers on the ground represent the years that important events took place in Washington baseball history. On the right you can see those metal structures. Here is a close up of one of them.

I entered the ballpark at 12:40 which was pretty late for me given the 1:05 first pitch. I got a hot dog and a designated driver beverage (lemonade) and then went to my seat. I was in the same section and row as Friday, but 11 seats farther from home plate. Gio Gonzalez threw a called strike to Aoki to get the game underway.

Wily Peralta was pitching for the Crew and I was looking for a duplicate performance of Sunday’s dominance vs. the Mets. Here he is after releasing the first pitch of his outing:

The Nationals got to Peralta in the 3rd, scoring three runs on 4 hits, including 3 doubles. After walking a batter to load the bases with two outs Roenicke made the call to the bullpen.

Unfortunately Sunday’s performance was not duplicated. On Sunday he threw 104 pitches to get 24 outs (4.33 pitches per out). On Saturday he threw 73 pitches to get 8 outs (9.13 pitches per out). He walked four which is always going to escalate the pitch count. Hopefully it’s just part of the learning process (he’s only 23) and he can bounce back.

Livan Hernandez had entered for Peralta and got out of the bases loaded jam in the 3rd without allowing another run to score. The 4th inning, however, did not go as smoothly. The first seven at bats of the 4th went like this: groundout, single, walk, 3-run home run, single, single, (coaching visit to the mound), 3-run home run. Eeeeeeesh. The Nationals increased their lead to 9-0 in a span of a few minutes.

In the middle of the 4th (I think) the Nationals put on the Presidents Race. The four Presidents that run are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. I think they should call it the Presidents *Event* for obvious reasons. This picture should explain it:

As you can see Teddy has zero wins on the year, and zero all-time wins in over 350 races. It’s a running gag and the fans cheer for him knowing that he’ll do something to lose, i.e.:

It’s their own thing and I don’t want to step on any toes; but let the guy win. Well, don’t *let* him win, but at least let it be an actual race. I’m curious if they tell the guy running in the costume “now if you disobey and win you will never be allowed in this ballpark again.” I took from my history classes that Teddy Roosevelt was a good president, so he deserves better. I’m not being too serious BUT if I was a betting man I might take a gambling friend to their first game and decide if I want to bet or not depending on if they pick Roosevelt to win the “race.”

The Brewers got on the board in the 6th with an RBI groundout from Braun and a sacrifice fly from Ramirez. A home run from LaRoche made it 10-2 Nationals after six. In the top of the seventh there was a scary moment if you were a Nationals fan. Gio Gonzalez, who is the Nationals’ best pitcher (perhaps even if Strasburg hadn’t been shut down) stumbled while letting go of a pitch to Maldonado. He laid face down on the ground for 2 or 3 seconds before finally getting up. I tried getting my camera out to take a picture of him just lying there but I wasn’t quick enough. This is after he got up and everyone came over to see what happened. I saw something similar in the highlights of a different game recently and the pitcher did something to his oblique muscle so I wasn’t sure if Gio was actually hurt. It wound up being a scare and all the fans gave him a standing ovation (I think he was just plain embarrassed). He pitched great on Saturday though, so there wasn’t much to be embarrassed about.

Roenicke started putting in the September call ups towards the end of the game to give them some playing time. With all of the games being close as of late, and the Brewers being right in the wild card race he hasn’t had the opportunity. Taylor Green hit a 2-run home run in the 9th but that’s all the offense could muster. Final score: Nationals 10 – Brewers 4. A close loss (I think) is harder to swallow because you can say “what if” about a lot of stuff. A blowout is easier to forget. It’s baseball: it happens.

Unfortunately the Cubs blew a save in the 9th inning and the Cardinals wound up winning 5-4 in 10 innings. The Cardinals now have a 2.5 game lead in the second wild card standings.

Right back at it tomorrow with a 1:35 PM first pitch. Gallardo is “toeing the slab” (baseball slang for pitching) and I’m hoping he can keep doing what he’s doing (pitching really well).

I missed 3, yes THREE pitches at the game on Saturday. Looks like it wasn’t just the Brewers who had a bad game.

1) I missed the fourth pitch to Maldonado in the 5th. I was looking at the out of town scoreboard and was telling the guy next to me that the Cubs had the bases loaded.

2) I missed the first pitch of the bottom of the 7th. I found a half full bag of peanuts under the chair next to mine (it wasn’t anybody’s around me) so I started eating them.

3) The first pitch to Taylor Green in the 9th. I was looking at my phone trying to get an update on the Cubs game.

One last thing, there are two home games left that my extra seat is available for; Friday, September 28th and Sunday, September 30th. I ask $40 for the ticket (face value) and you’d be sitting with me for the game. The money goes to the Be The Match Foundation. Also, I have other tickets for Monday, October 1st, so BOTH of my tickets are available for that game. You and a friend wouldn’t be sitting with me but the $80 for the two tickets would go to Be The Match. My season tickets are in section 221, row 6. Leave a comment if you’re interested.

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside Nationals Park: 3 hours 34 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 3 hours 51 minutes
Miles driven: 48.5
Public transit miles: 27.8
Sausages: 1 (hot dog)
Pitches missed: 3
Consecutive pitch streak ended at: 390
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.00% (296/299)
Current streak of pitches seen: 14

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 78-73 (.517 winning percentage)
Time inside stadiums: 642 hours 26 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 755 hours 31 minutes
Miles driven: 18,362.9
Miles riding in car but not driving: 2,214.4
Public transit miles: 524.5
Flight miles: 19,777
Total distance traveled: 40,878.7 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 164.16% (40,878.7/24,901)
Sausages: 95 (37 Hot Dogs, 31 Polish, 12 Bratwurst, 5 Corndogs, 2 Italian, 2 Cheddarwurst, 2 Bison Dogs, Chicken Apple Sausage, Blueberry & Merlot Venison Sausage, Sausage Race on a Stick, Elk Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage)
Pitches missed: 102
Longest streak of pitches seen: 2,192 (8/27 – 9/3)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.77% (45,129/45,231)

If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

9-21-12 (@ Washington)

On Friday I woke up at 6:30 AM and couldn’t fall back asleep despite the fact I had gone to bed just four hours earlier. I was still thinking about the fiasco on I-70 and I realized I was just going to lay there so I might as well get up. I worked on the post for Thursday, watched some ESPN and MLB network, and iced my knee. I left my aunt and uncle’s place at 3:15 and stopped at the Jimmy John’s that’s a few miles from their house. I knew that I had needed gas, so earlier in the day I went to gasbuddy.com to find the cheapest gas nearby. It was at Costco ($3.69) and after devouring the Turkey Tom at Jimmy John’s I went to fill up. They’ve got a system down at the Costco gas station. There is signage telling you to only enter from one side and there are lines (2-4 cars deep) for each row of pumps. After putting in my credit card the screen read: “please insert your Costco card first.” DOH!!! Again: I’m an idiot (I’m not a member of Costco). I should’ve been suspicious when $3.69 was well below the average of the surrounding stations.

At this point it was getting kind of late so I decided I’d get gas after the game. Interstate 95 was very busy and I didn’t get to the Greenbelt Metro station until 4:30 which was about the time I had wanted to be at the park. This is the view of Nationals Park when you emerge from the Navy Yard – Ballpark stop:

I walked around to the media entrance and Kyle met me with my wristband. Kyle works in the Nationals Community Relations department and had invited me on the field for batting practice. I picked up my Brewers-provided ticket from will call and we headed inside. We took a few turns and went down the umpires tunnel to the field. The Brewers were already taking BP and I soaked it in. At some point I had Kyle take game photo number 150 for me.

When the Brewers were done in the cage we went back up the tunnel and took the elevator to the main concourse where Kyle and I parted ways. Thanks again Kyle! In the concourse behind home plate they have murals detailing the history of baseball in Washington D.C. There were more but I just took pictures of the first two. Washington D.C. lost two franchises to other cities. The 1901 – 1960 Washington Senators became the Minnesota Twins in 1961 and the 1961 – 1971 Washington Senators became the Texas Rangers in 1972. The Senators that later became the Twins won a world series in 1924, the only world series a Washington franchise has won. That’s more than the Brewers….. (so far).

I wandered a little bit but then went to my seat and waited for the game to start. Eventually (and right on schedule) Edwin Jackson threw a ball to Norichika Aoki to get things started. It would’ve made for a better picture if those people were in their seats, but what are you going to do.

Braun tripled with two outs but was stranded at second when Aramis Ramirez grounded out to short.

Marcum started for the Crew and he did well. Here’s the first pitch of his outing:

The first inning wasn’t too kind to Marcum, though. A two-out broken-bat single put one on and then Adam Laroche hit a 2-run home run to quickly give the Natinals the lead. I purposely spelled it N-a-t-i-n-a-l-s there. A few years ago Nationals was spelled wrong on Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn’s jerseys and they wore “Natinals” on their chests for a game. They’ve come a long way. The Brewers got one back in the top of the 2nd when Lucroy led off the frame with a solo shot. I was able to get the head of a random fan going up the steps *AND* cotton candy in the same picture!

The game then became a pitcher’s duel. Marcum lasted six innings and gave up just the first-inning runs while allowing 4 hits, walking none and striking out 3. Jackson’s line was more impressive: 8 innings, 1 run, 6 hits, 0 walks, and 6 strikeouts. Tyler Clippard came in for the 9th to try and secure the 2-1 victory for the Nationals. At this point I moved from my seat in section 108 to above the outfield seats in left. I was still hoping the Crew would make a comeback but wanted to be close to the centerfield exit so I could get to the Metro stop right after the game ended.

Aoki bunted for a base hit to start the 9th and moved to second on a passed ball. Weeks flew out while Aoki tagged and moved up to third base. With Braun at the plate and the tying run at third with only out I felt pretty confident the Brewers would tie the game. Braun ripped the 0-1 pitch to left and it was a new brand new ballgame. Braun stole 2nd and then Ramirez doubled, giving the Brewers the lead in the process. A wild pitch from Clippard let Ramirez get to third. Travis Ishikawa reached first and Ramirez scored. I say reached because originally the ground ball to the shortstop was ruled a throwing error but the official scorer later changed it to an infield hit. Either way the Brewers had a 2-run lead. Axford pitched the 9th and notched his 32nd save. That three-run 9th is a thing of beauty. Final score: Brewers 4 – Nationals 2.

 

Earlier in the day the Cardinals led the Cubs 4-2 in the bottom of the 9th and were one strike away from winning. What happened next? A bloop single, a game-tying 2-run home run (on a 1-2 pitch) and then a walk-off win in the 11th. Go Cubs Go! The Cardinals loss coupled with the Brewers win means the Cardinals’ lead in the second wild card chase is just 1.5 games (ONE in the loss column; you can’t make up losses).

This post was kind of short but it’s a quick turnaround. The remaining three games of the series have 1:05, 1:35, and 1:05 start times, respectively. Let’s win some day games!!!

Go Brewers!

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside Nationals Park: 5 hours 30 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 5 hours 38 minutes
Miles driven: 51.7
Public transit miles: 27.8
Sausages: 0
Pitches missed: 1 (I’m pretty sure I missed the 1st pitch to Ishikawa in the 2nd. I saw the count go from 0-1 to 1-1 and I couldn’t remember the first pitch)
Consecutive pitch streak ended at: 762
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.62% (264/265)
Current streak of pitches seen: 229

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 78-72 (.520 winning percentage) (Highwater mark of the season so far: 6 games over .500!!!)
Time inside stadiums: 638 hours 52 minutes 
Time on stadium grounds: 751 hours 40 minutes
Miles driven: 18,314.4
Miles riding in car but not driving: 2,214.4
Public transit miles: 496.7
Flight miles: 19,777
Total distance traveled: 40,802.4 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 163.86% (40,802.4/24,901)
Sausages: 94 (36 Hot Dogs, 31 Polish, 12 Bratwurst, 5 Corndogs, 2 Italian, 2 Cheddarwurst, 2 Bison Dogs, Chicken Apple Sausage, Blueberry & Merlot Venison Sausage, Sausage Race on a Stick, Elk Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage)
Pitches missed: 99
Longest streak of pitches seen: 2,192 (8/27 – 9/3)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.78% (44,833/44,932)

If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

9-20-12 (@ Pittsburgh)

Thursday was getaway day and I was a little upset that it was a 4:05 start and not the usual 12:35 first pitch that the Pirates have for series finales. It did give me a few additional hours between Wednesday’s night game though so it wasn’t all bad. I had breakfast at the Bagel Factory again and then returned to the apartment to work on the blog. I also sent out some emails and tweets to Washington D.C. TV and radio stations to see if they’d be interested in doing an interview. The Nationals just clinched a playoff spot (and there’s a lot to discuss) so I don’t think I’ll be getting an interview.

I left at 2:20 and parked at the same garage on Sixth street that I did for the previous five games in Pittsburgh. Since it was an afternoon game (and still within business hours) parking was $9.75 as opposed to the event rate of $5, darn. I got my ticket from will call and was inside the park by 3:05. The Pirates have some statues inside the left field entrance but this one stands out. It’s a casting of Ralph Kiner’s hands. Kiner played for the Pirates from 1946 to 1953, made the NL All-Star team six times in those eight years and won the home run title seven times. His number 4 is retired by the Pirates.

I went to the upper bleachers in left field for game photo number 149 and a very nice woman took the picture for me. I also had one taken from above the visitor’s dugout and I think I like it better. While the one from the outfield provides a different angle than the previous 5 at PNC, it’s kind of boring. I like that PNC Park is readable in the second one.

I was hungry and PNC Park has a Primanti Brothers on the field level concourse. I went with the “Pittsburgher” which is what I had on August 25th when I went to the original Primanti Brothers in the strip district. I ate half of it and then took a picture of the remaining 50%. $7.75 is more than what you’ll pay at one of the restaurants outside of the park, but considering the other options and their prices; it’s a pretty good deal.

Corey Hart was in the lineup for the first time since September 9th and it was nice to see him out on the field before the game. He was talking to the trainer as he did his pre-game stretches. You could tell he was in pain when he (gingerly) ran into shallow centerfield and back. On-going plantar fasciitis has been the reason for his absence from the lineup. Hart played exactly one half of the game, with Ishikawa entering at first base after the top of the 5th inning.

The game started and Aoki took a called strike from Pirates starter Wandy Rodriguez. This was the view from my seat in section 108.

Aoki singled on the next pitch and then stole second with Weeks at the plate. He moved to third on the play because of a throwing error charged to the catcher. Weeks walked and Braun grounded one to short that should’ve been a double play. The shortstop Barmes bobbled it briefly and they were only able to get Weeks at second, with Aoki scoring on the play. Ramirez stepped in and lifted the second pitch he saw to center and deep. It bounced on the top of the wall and over for a two-run home run. I’m pretty sure the ball is out of the frame on the first picture below.

Mike Fiers was on the hill for the Brewers and didn’t give up a run through the first two innings. Here he is pitching in the first:

Fiers was helped out in the second by a 4-6-3 double play. Weeks made the glove flip to Segura and he let it fly while leaping over the takeout slide of Neil Walker (it’s my favorite picture of the day).

In the top of the third the Brewers caught a break as Aramis Ramirez was called safe at the plate on a sacrifice fly despite never touching the plate. Starling Marte made a great throw from left and Ramirez didn’t slide. He stepped on Rod Barajas’ foot and not home plate but the umpire called him safe. I’ve voiced my opinion on instant replay before so I won’t go on a rant but I think if you can get the calls right at home (beer in hand on your couch) within 15 seconds of the play major league baseball should adopt this “amazing technology” that is instant replay.

The 4-0 lead didn’t last long and in the bottom of the 3rd Andrew McCutchen hit a three-run home run to cut the lead to 4-3. McCutchen had a great year against the Brewers (and a lot of other teams for that matter). In 15 games vs. the Crew he hit .322 with 6 home runs and 16 RBI. If you make projections over a 162 game schedule he would have had 65 home runs and 173 RBI. Not bad at all.

The Pirates tied it in the bottom of the 4th but it could’ve been much worse. The bases had been loaded with nobody out so only giving up one run feels like a win in that situation. It remained tied at four until the 6th inning, when the Pirates scored three times to take a 7-4 lead. It was looking bleak and the fact that the Cardinals had already won made it more depressing. A loss would put the Brewers 3.5 games back with only 13 to play (3 back in the loss column would’ve been the important number).

I was hoping for some magic and the top of the 8th inning began in a promising fashion. Gomez and Segura saw a combined 2 pitches, and both ended up in the outfield for singles. Nyjer Morgan pinch hit and popped one up on a 2-0 pitch; yarrrrrrgh. Aoki doubled off the scoreboard in right, scoring Gomez in the process. After a pitching change Weeks stepped in representing the go-ahead run. The 2-2 pitch was lined into left center:

The ball didn’t get much higher than where it was in the picture above. It’s peak was likely somewhere around 10-12 feet and it went all the way to the wall that’s 410 feet away!!! Strong. Like. Bull.

THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!!! The two-run triple tied the game at seven. Braun was intentionally walked to set up a potential inning-ending double play. Ramirez snuck the 1-1 pitch up the middle for the go-ahead RBI.

The Brewers added an insurance run in the top of the 9th and Axford shut the door; striking out the side in the bottom of the 9th. Sweeeeeeeeeep!!! It’s a little blurry but you can see that Gomez, Aoki and Braun were all smiles after the game.

Final score: Brewers 9 – Pirates 7. Thursday was the 49th Brewers – Pirates games I’ve attended (14 have been at PNC). The Brewers have won 36 of the 49. Wow. I walked across the Roberto Clemente bridge and stopped along the way to take one last picture of PNC Park. Thanks for the memories!!!

I got in my car at 8:22 and started my trek to Ellicot City, Maryland. My aunt and uncle live here and while it’s not in DC it’s close enough. I can drive down to the northernmost Metro stop and take the train into the city. Now, a little pre-cursor to what happened on my drive. On Wednesday the guy at the will call window (after hearing I was going to DC) recommended I take a different route than the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I thought about it on Wednesday and Thursday but ultimately decided to take the Turnpike anyways. As I hit some minor construction including some stretches with a posted 40 MPH speed limit I started to second guess my decision.

Making it worse; at some point on I-70 East (after getting off the turnpike) I came across a racoon or an oppossom crossing the road. I saw it kind of late because it was moving somewhat quickly from left to right and my headlights didn’t pick it up right away. I thought about swerving right, then I thought about straddling it but ultimately I swerved left and tried straightening the wheel (I’M AN ENORMOUS IDIOT!!!). I was going between 65 and 70 MPH and I started fishtailing. I tried correcting but my tires didn’t catch. I honestly can’t tell you what happened next but I think I did a complete 360 (thank goodness I didn’t roll my car). There was a lot of squealing tires and I wound up sliding (somewhat hard) into the guard rail on the left side of the road. Luckily there weren’t any cars near me at the time (it was about 10:35 PM). At some point during the fiasco my car shut off, and after hitting the left guard rail my car rolled back and bumped into the right guard rail. My car wouldn’t start and my front end was taking up a good chunk of the right lane. A semi approached over the hill and I got nervous. I put my flashers on and started honking my horn. My 2004 Accord is black so I wanted to make sure they saw me taking up the right lane. I grabbed my phone and called 911 (something I don’t think I’ve ever had to do before). I got out of the car at first because I didn’t want to be in there if the immobile car was going to get t-boned. I jumped back in after a few cars passed and thankfully my car started and I was able to pull over. So many things raced through my head amongst the chaos including “will this prevent me from getting to the game tomorrow?”. Yeah, I’m an idiot. If you can’t tell I choose to beat myself up regarding stupid things I do, no one is harder on me than me.

The lady on the line transferred me once she learned no one was injured or in danger. As I talked to the new lady on the phone I inspected the damage, expecting to see a hanging bumper or a bent quarter panel restricting the movement of a front wheel. Luckily it wasn’t too bad but my front license plate and holder were completely torn off. I thought about going back to find it. The road was narrow, it was dark, and I didn’t feel like risking my life (without a flashlight, thanks batteries) to possibly get my license plate back. I called Victoria and then my mom to tell them I was fine (I don’t think they would’ve liked to learn about what happened by reading it).

My car still ran/runs fine and I made it to my uncle Jon and aunt Candy’s townhouse just before 12:30 AM. I went out and inspected the damage in daylight and it really isn’t *that* bad. I’m surprised because my neck is a little sore from when I hit the guard rail and my elbow is even more sore than it has been the past 2 months. I will be getting a new license plate holder (and license plate if no one finds it and returns it), but I don’t think a new bumper is worth it. I’ve tried to be as careful as I can all season (and driving in general) because spending money on preventable accidents is a waste of money. I also think I’ll leave it to remind me of how stupid I am. I know PETA will be happy with my decision to swerve (since no one was injured in the end) but honestly I think I would’ve been fine if I had just hit the darn thing. It was decently sized so who knows what would have happened, but swerving at 65 MPH is typically not a good decision. Overall I’m thankful that I’m fine and I understand it could’ve been a lot worse.

It’s 11:30 AM on Friday and I’ll be leaving around 3:00 PM to head to the park. It’s a 20 mile drive to the Greenbelt Metro station and then a 30 minute ride to the Navy Yard stop, which is about 1,000 feet from Nationals Park. I’ll be on the field for batting practice today thanks to a friend of Pam’s (John) who told me to call Kyle with the Nationals. I asked if I could get an interview to try and promote the Be The Match Registry and the Foundation, but he said they wouldn’t be able to fulfill those requests. It’s fun being on the field and all, I just feel guilty because I think I should be doing more to help Be The Match. Nonetheless; thank you Kyle for hooking me up with the batting practice pass!

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside PNC Park: 5 hours 10 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 5 hours 15 minutes
Miles driven: 246.7
Bumpers ruined & license plates lost: 1
Sausages: 0
Pitches missed: 0
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (362/362)
Current streak of pitches seen: 727

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 77-72 (.517 winning percentage) (Highwater mark of the season so far: 5 games over .500!!!)
Time inside stadiums: 633 hours 22 minutes 
Time on stadium grounds: 746 hours 2 minutes
Miles driven: 18,262.7
Miles riding in car but not driving: 2,214.4
Public transit miles: 469.0
Flight miles: 19,777
Total distance traveled: 40,723.0 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 163.54% (40,723.0/24,901)
Sausages: 94 (36 Hot Dogs, 31 Polish, 12 Bratwurst, 5 Corndogs, 2 Italian, 2 Cheddarwurst, 2 Bison Dogs, Chicken Apple Sausage, Blueberry & Merlot Venison Sausage, Sausage Race on a Stick, Elk Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage)
Pitches missed: 98
Longest streak of pitches seen: 2,192 (8/27 – 9/3)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.78% (44,569/44,667)

If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

9-19-12 (@ Pittsburgh)

I started Wednesday by driving to the Bagel Factory, which is a mile from my host’s place. It was right around the corner from Mark’s place (where I stayed in August) and it was good then, so why not stick with what works. I got the wild berry bagel with plain cream cheese and some orange juice. They do put on an unnecessary amount of cream cheese (as you can see) and I was forced to wipe some of it off. Nonetheless it was very good.

After breakfast I went back to the apartment and finished up the post for Tuesday. When I was here in August someone on Twitter had recommended I visit The Church Brew Works. I had driven past it a bunch of times and I decided to give it a try on Wednesday. This is the sign that’s on the corner of Liberty Avenue and 36th Street.

From the sidewalk out front:

It’s an historic landmark and they have a plaque on the exterior:

The interior is pretty sweet, to say the least. Those are some brew kettles on the far wall there (I think).

To the left is the bar area and I started by ordering a wheat pale ale.

The Southwest Chicken Wrap sounded appetizing and I went with that for lunch/dinner. It consisted of chilled chicken breast, mixed greens, black beans, diced tomatoes, and jack cheese served in a jalapeno- cheddar tortilla with poblano and cilantro mayo. I had high hopes but it didn’t pack much flavor. I also had a fresh hop ale where they add hops at the end of the brewing process and I thought it worked really well.

I left The Brew Church Works at 5:15 and was parked 15 minutes later. Wednesday’s skies were much better than Tuesday’s:

I got my ticket from will call and entered the park at 5:45. The Brewers were on the field for batting practice and I spotted Yovani Gallardo in right field. I hustled over there and made my way down to the field. I asked Marcus Hanel (the Brewers bullpen catcher) if he could send Gallardo over my way. He said that it’s up to the players if they want to sign autographs. I alternated yelling “Yo!” and “Yovani!” while holding up the picture I was trying to get signed. All the players were wearing the pullovers so I couldn’t tell who was beside him, but one of the guys physically tried turning Gallardo’s head so he’d see me. Eventually Gallardo made his way over and I thanked him profusely after he signed my picture. I took this on Memorial Day in 2009 (5/25/09). Thank you Yovani!!!

I then went up to the right field corner of the upper deck. I used the self timer function to try and get game photo number 148. The shadowy field and illuminated bridges didn’t make for ideal conditions. I decided I would try and get the picture once the sun began to set. In the meantime I went over to behind home plate and tried to get an artsy shot with the side of a seat and the city landscape in the background. These two turned out pretty good. At first I didn’t like the first one because of the sun’s reflection off one of the buildings, but now I think it’s kind of cool.

I went back over to the right field corner for the start of the game. Here was my view as Kyle McPherson delivered a ball to Norichika Aoki.

On the second pitch of the ballgame Aoki sent one into the seats in right and the Brewers took a 1-0 lead.

There was no one within five sections of me so after getting the first pitch picture and the picture above I set up my camera like I did on Tuesday. I started taking pictures between pitches, being careful not to miss a pitch (I succeeded). I eventually got one that I was satisfied with. I wonder what people thought from afar as I stood there taking pictures of myself.

I worked my way down to the field level and watched the top of the second from within the out of town scoreboard. There was a lady in there who I would assume is a diehard. Awesome. Hopefully that will be me (at Miller Park) someday, with Victoria at my side.

That was the last picture that I took on Wednesday. I went over to the cross aisle between the two levels of bleachers in left and hoped for a Brewers home run to come my way. While out there I befriended a Pirates fan (Tony) who complimented me on my grey hat (that Victoria doesn’t like). He said he really likes the ball and glove logo and we talked baseball for the remainder of the game.

The Brewers grounded into four double plays on Wednesday but were able to push across solo runs in the 5th and 7th. They took the three-run lead into the 9th and Axford entered for the save. He gave up a leadoff home run to Andrew McCutchen and the Brewers 26 inning scoreless streak came to an end. They were bidding for their third straight shutout, which would have tied a franchise record. Ax worked around a one-out broken-bat single and secured the Brewers victory. Final score: Brewers 3 – Pirates 1.

The Cardinals won on Wednesday so the Brewers didn’t gain any ground on them, but a split in LA’s doubleheader allowed the Brewers to pull within a half game of the Dodgers.

Let’s keep it going! Go Brewers!

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside PNC Park: 4 hours 21 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 4 hours 27 minutes
Miles driven: 13.5
Sausages: 0
Pitches missed: 0
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (258/258)
Current streak of pitches seen: 365

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 76-72 (.514 winning percentage) (Highwater mark of the season so far: 4 games over .500!!!)
Time inside stadiums: 628 hours 12 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 740 hours 47 minutes
Miles driven: 18,016.0
Miles riding in car but not driving: 2,214.4
Public transit miles: 469.0
Flight miles: 19,777
Total distance traveled: 40,476.3 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 162.55% (40,476.3/24,901)
Sausages: 94 (36 Hot Dogs, 31 Polish, 12 Bratwurst, 5 Corndogs, 2 Italian, 2 Cheddarwurst, 2 Bison Dogs, Chicken Apple Sausage, Blueberry & Merlot Venison Sausage, Sausage Race on a Stick, Elk Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage)
Pitches missed: 98
Longest streak of pitches seen: 2,192 (8/27 – 9/3)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.78% (44,207/44,305)

If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

9-18-12 (@ Pittsburgh)

Monday was an off day and I spent most of it on the road. I left my parents’ place at 9:10 AM and made a pitstop in Janesville to drop off the Be The Match donations I’ve gotten so far. When people have joined me for games they’ve either made the donation in cash or written a check to Be The Match. I did this for two reasons. 1) It saves Be The Match the credit/debit card fees for online donations, which you can make here. 2) I can actually verify that they made the donation. I trust people but it’s also easy to say you’re going to do something and then forget (I do it all the time, believe me). I included $640 of checks from other people and then wrote a check for $1,700 and sent it off. I know this doesn’t prove that I sent it, but here it is anyways. Of course I have Brewers checks…

I stopped near Amherst, Ohio to fill up and get some dinner at Panera. I was tempted to try and push my tank to 600 miles (something I haven’t done before) but I relented. My gas light had been on for about 80 miles and signs said the next service plaza wasn’t for another 33 miles. The 33 miles wouldn’t have put me over 600 anyways so I filled up when my trip read 561 miles (roughly 36 miles per gallon, awwwwwww yeah).

My friend Dustin, who went with me to the games in Arizona, Los Angeles and Denver used to be roomates with a guy from Pittsburgh (Chad). Chad still has friends that live in PIttsburgh and last month I stayed with Mark and this time I was going to be staying with Mike. I found out on Sunday that Mike’s girlfriend just moved in with him and her place is vacant. So I’m writing this from the couch of my friend’s friend’s friend’s girlfriend. Whew. I feel blessed that all these people (that I barely know) are so willing to open up their doors and let me crash for a few days. Thank you Mike and Eirwen.

On Tuesday morning I went to Pamela’s P & G Diner on Walnut Street. I searched “breakfast” in google maps and this came up, so I figured it was worth a try. This is the interior of the restaurant:

I got the “Morning After Special” with the specialty hotcakes. I ordered the Banana Walnut hotcakes to go with my awkwardly named meal of two eggs and bacon (not pictured). When the waitress came with my massive breakfast and asked if I needed anything else I replied “another stomach”. Corny, I know. The hotcakes were delicious and I was stuffed after cleaning both plates.

I went back to “my apartment” and bummed around a bit before leaving for the day. I had been craving wings since the Packers game on Thursday, so I went to Fat Head’s Saloon (again). If you recall my post from August 24th I went to Fat Head’s and got five wings as well as the Southside Slopes “Headwich”. This time I opted for 10 char-grilled wings with the Fat Head’s Original sauce. Some were more charred than others but overall they were very good, and likely much healthier than the deep fried ones (the ranch might cancel some of that out though).

I left Fat Head’s at 5:15 and was parked at the garage on 6th Street twenty minutes later. When you cross Fort Duquesne Boulevard you get a nice view of PNC park from across the river. It had been raining on and off all day and the skies didn’t look very pleasant.

I walked over the Roberto Clemente Bridge and to the player will call window in the left field corner. I picked up my ticket and headed inside. I decided on the left field corner of the upper deck for the game number photo and took the necessary three escalators to get up there. From where I was planning on getting the picture taken this was the view to my left. The structure in the lower left is a circular ramp inside PNC Park.

There were zero fans within 12 sections of me so I decided to try and use the self timer function on my camera. I wedged my drawstring bag in the folded seat and placed my camera bag on top of that. I then put my glove on top of the bag and put my camera on that. Game photo number 147 was a success, thanks in part to my stacking and balancing prowess.

I think the picture above was the 7th attempt. I had to hit the shutter release, hobble down 6 steps and over 5 seats, then step up onto the seat and pose. This following is one of the “outtakes” if you will (don’t know why I’m including it). This is the only one that I wasn’t ready for and I think I’m glancing at the camera as if to say: “Seriously? I’m not ready!” (I had trouble stepping onto the seat that time)

 

I called Adam McCalvy after getting the picture taken care of to see if he had time to ask me the questions he had wanted to for his story. He said he did and we met behind home plate in the upper deck concourse. He’s thinking the story will be up right before the final homestand. I talked with Adam for 10 minutes or so and then we parted ways. My seat was in section 108 but I could tell that there weren’t going to be too many fans at the game. I decided to go for potential home run balls in the wide aisle between the field level bleachers and upper bleachers in left field. This was my view for the first pitch of the night, a strike from A.J. Burnett to Norichika Aoki.

Between the 1st and 2nd innings the sun started setting behind PNC Park and it made for a nice picture.

There won’t be any action shots because I was too far away to get anything significant. I do have a picture of a dog though. It was the 7th of 8 Pup Nights that the the Pirates had on the slate for 2012.

The Brewers scored one run in the top of the 2nd and held that lead into the 6th. Segura singled home Lucroy to double the lead (2-0 Brewers). The 7th inning saw the Crew push two more across and they duplicated the effort in the 8th. The Brewers took advantage of the Pirates’ inability to throw out baserunners, and stole seven bases. Weeks, Lucroy, Aoki and Gomez each stole one while Braun stole three, bringing his yearly total to 27. If Braun can somehow steal 13 bases in the next 15 games (highly unlikely, I know) he would get to the 40/40 plateau (40 home runs & 40 steals). The seven steals is the second most the Brewers have stolen in a single game. They stole 8 in 1992 vs. the Blue Jays, and also stole 7 against the Jays that same year. Pretty cool stuff.

The two runs in the 8th were the final runs in the game, and the Brewers staff pitched a shutout for the second straight game. Towards the end of the game I moved from the left field cross aisle to a section near the Brewers dugout. I talked with some Brewers fans that were down there and they had drove to the game and met a friend who had flown in from Vermont. I mentioned who I was (one of them had heard about me!) and I gave them each a business card. I also mentioned that I was going to try and get the lineup card after the game. Veras struck out Travis Snider to end the game and I raced down to the first row right above the Brewers dugout. Final score: Brewers 6 – Pirates 0.

I took a few pictures of the post-win handshake line and this one stuck out.

What’s happening on the far left there? Someone is airborne and I think it’s Nyjer Morgan, but I’m not sure. There were a bunch of Brewers fans above the dugout voicing their support. Braun gave a peace sign to the guys I had talked to before the game ended. “And also with you.”

When the coaches starting coming off the field I started yelling “JERRY! JERRY!” and then “NARRON! NARRON!” to no avail. I think it was Kranitz who finally looked up and the guy on my right (who I had told about my plan) beat me to the punch and asked for the card. As Kranitz (I think) disappeared the guy told me he asked for it to try and get it for me. An arm emerged and the lineup card was handed over. I took a few pictures (with the lineup card) for the guys driving to Vermont and made my way to the left-centerfield exit. Before getting there I stopped to get a picture at the scoreboard, showing the impressive linescore. Over the last two games the Brewers have given up a combined 5 hits and 0 runs. Nice job, fellas!

When I got back to “my apartment” I took a closeup up the lineup card. This will be framed in the near future, and will make a nice addition to a man cave at some point. The reason I went for the card on Tuesday is because it met my two requirements: 1) Aoki was in the lineup (I knew Narron wrote his name in Japanese) and 2) The Brewers won (I wouldn’t want to hang something up if it was from a losing effort). Picky? Perhaps. Logical? You bet. I noticed that it’s not signed by Roenicke. I wonder if I should try and get him to sign it at the bottom there, or just leave it in its original state. I also just realized that if I would have gotten it in Houston I would’ve had to either fold it or carry it with me on the plane as to not bend it. I’m glad I got it on a driving trip.

With the Cardinals winning on Tuesday the Brewers weren’t able to gain any ground in the race for the second wild card spot. We all need to become huge Astros fans for the next week or so (and Cubs fans for that matter, I know it’s difficult). The next 8 games for the Cardinals are against those two teams. Come on ‘Stros!!!

Go Brewers!

I did miss ONE pitch on Tuesday, and I’m not happy about it. When the Brewers were in the field a bunch of knuckleheads in and around the bleachers in left were yelling things at Braun including “Mmmmmm, steroids. NOM NOM NOM NOM!” Right before the bottom of the 7th started a guy yelled “Hey Braun, are you happy with the singles you’ve hit tonight!?” I said to the guy “Hey, you can’t steal bases if you’re hitting home runs, he’s got a chance at a 40/40 year now.” In the process of turning and saying that I missed the first pitch of the bottom of the 7th. Darn.

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside PNC Park: 4 hours 44 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 4 hours 54 minutes
Miles driven: 617.7 (602.9 on Monday’s drive to Pittsburgh)
Sausages: 0
Pitches missed: 1
Consecutive pitch streak ended: 1,389
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.67% (306/307)
Current streak of pitches seen: 107

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 75-72 (.510 winning percentage) (Highwater mark of the season so far: 3 games over .500!!!)
Time inside stadiums: 623 hours 51 minutes 
Time on stadium grounds: 736 hours 20 minutes
Miles driven: 18,002.5
Miles riding in car but not driving: 2,214.4
Public transit miles: 469.0
Flight miles: 19,777
Total distance traveled: 40,462.8 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 162.49% (40,462.8/24,901)
Sausages: 94 (36 Hot Dogs, 31 Polish, 12 Bratwurst, 5 Corndogs, 2 Italian, 2 Cheddarwurst, 2 Bison Dogs, Chicken Apple Sausage, Blueberry & Merlot Venison Sausage, Sausage Race on a Stick, Elk Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage)
Pitches missed: 98
Longest streak of pitches seen: 2,192 (8/27 – 9/3)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.78% (43,949/44,047)

If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

9-16-12 (vs. New York Mets)

On Sunday morning Victoria and I ate breakfast with her family at the hotel and then I finished up Saturday’s post. We left the Brookfield Sheraton at 11:22 and were parked by 11:40. I stopped by a few tailgates on my way inside to tell them about my mission and Be The Match. I met Victoria behind section 126 and we got game photo number 146 taken care of.

After getting the picture taken I met with a twitter follower (Mike S.) who picked up two tickets that I had left at will call. Jeff Glab, who joined me in the Doorman’s seats on May 22nd, had given me his two season tickets to try and get a donation. Mike made an $80 donation to Be The Match for the two seats in section 109. Thanks Jeff and Mike! I also met up with another twitter follower, Mike M., who made a $20 donation to Be the Match just because. Thanks Mike!

After getting a wrap and some pizza (not pictured for a change) Victoria and I went to our seats in 221. Wily Peralta was on the hill for the Crew, and he was making just his 3rd big league start. Here’s the first pitch of the game, a 95 MPH called strike to Ruben Tejada. He threw it so fast that I could barely keep it in the frame (it’s on the right edge).

Peralta needed 14 pitches to get through the top of the 1st. He threw 13 fastballs (all between 95 and 98 MPH) and one slider; three up, three down. In the top of the 2nd inning Peralta struck out Ike Davis to open the frame. It was only Peralta’s 13th strikeout of the season but as a pitching staff it was the Brewers’ 1,259th, which set a new franchise record. Awesome.

The game was knotted at zero as it entered the bottom of the 4th. Braun led off and luckily he waited a few pitches because I didn’t have my camera ready. On the 4th pitch of the at bat Braun sent one into the Toyota Territory in right centerfield for the 200th home run of his career. I wonder how many of them I’ve been in the park for…

The scoreboard team had been ready for it and when Braun was rounding the bases this was displayed:

As Ramirez was starting his at bat the crowd was still cheering for Braun and he climbed the dugout steps to wave his helmet and show his appreciation.

Ramirez didn’t want to be outdone and he hit one to left center and deep. Back-to-back jimmy jacks!!!

The Brewers held the 2-0 lead until they batted in the bottom of the 6th. Ryan Braun led off the frame again and matched his 4th inning performance, this time sending it into the bleachers down the line in left.

The home run was Braun’s 40th of the season, and he continues to extend his personal best for a single season (silencing many critics in the process).

Peralta batted for himself in the bottom of the 7th. If it wasn’t for Segura getting picked off at first base he may have had his first major league RBI to go along with his first hit.

The ball went down the left field line and all the way to the wall. Peralta must not have seen that part because he was basically jogging to first base until he saw first base coach Garth Iorg point to second to let him know he should “Go 2! Go 2!” I’m guessing the dugout was giving him some grief but he was all smiles at second base.

The ball got thrown in and the 3rd base umpire inspected it before letting David Wright throw it towards the Brewers dugout.

I was kind of hoping Peralta would’ve gotten the chance to finish what he started but Axford came in for the save in the top of the 9th. I believe the Brewers are one of only two teams who haven’t thrown a complete game yet this season. I’m guessing the other team is the Rockies (yep, I just checked). There have been 120 complete games thrown this year and the Brewers don’t have a single one. Peralta had thrown 104 pitches and he is only 23 years old, so they probably don’t want to tax his arm too much. The Brewers also have an off day on Monday so using the bullpen wouldn’t cause problems down the road. Peralta’s final line was extremely impressive: 8 innings pitched, 2 hits, 1 walk, 0 runs, 5 strikeouts, and 66.3% of his pitches were strikes. He struggled with his command throughout the season (in the minors) so it was nice to see him at his best. He should have a great shot at making the starting rotation next spring.

Axford worked around a one-out walk and picked up the 100th save of his career. Here’s the final pitch of the ballgame, which was popped up foul and Ramirez made a nice play to end the game.

Brewers win! Brewers win! Final score: Brewers 3 – Mets 0. With the win the Brewers briefly moved to within 2 games of the second wild card spot. With the Cardinals playing the Dodgers (who both had the same record) there was no way to gain ground on both of them. The Cardinals won so the Brewers trail the Cardinals by 2.5 games and the Dodgers by 1.5 games. This is getting very interesting. I had told Victoria that the best thing that could’ve happened is the two teams playing a 27 inning game on Sunday to really put a hurtin’ on their bullpens. They did play 12 innings and threw a combined 413 pitches. I should predict the extreme situations more often!

It was Aramis Ramirez bobblehead day and he celebrated by hitting that home run in the 4th inning. Victoria’s bobblehead had Ramirez in the gold Cerveceros jersey. The odds of getting one are about 1 in 8 (the rest are of him in a normal Brewers jersey). I put it next to my 1998 Little League trophy (14 YEARS AGO!!! I’m old). I did so because the shiny gold in Ramirez’s jersey reminded me of the trophy. I remember that our team had a man-child for a pitcher and he dominated the league. But hey; it’s a team sport and we all got trophies!

It’s past 10:00 PM on Sunday night and I’ll be leaving in less than 12 hours for Pittsburgh. Monday is an off day but it’s a nine and half hour drive, so I figured I should make the trek tomorrow.

Go Brewers!

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside Miller Park: 3 hours 34 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 4 hours 4 minutes
Miles driven: 70.1
Sausages: 0
Pitches missed: 0
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (242/242)
Current streak of pitches seen: 1,191

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 74-72 (.507 winning percentage)
Time inside stadiums: 619 hours 7 minutes 
Time on stadium grounds: 731 hours 26 minutes
Miles driven: 17,384.8
Miles riding in car but not driving: 2,214.4
Public transit miles: 469.0
Flight miles: 19,777
Total distance traveled: 39,845.1 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 160.01% (39,845.1/24,901)
Sausages: 94 (36 Hot Dogs, 31 Polish, 12 Bratwurst, 5 Corndogs, 2 Italian, 2 Cheddarwurst, 2 Bison Dogs, Chicken Apple Sausage, Blueberry & Merlot Venison Sausage, Sausage Race on a Stick, Elk Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage)
Pitches missed: 97
Longest streak of pitches seen: 2,192 (8/27 – 9/3)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.78% (43,643/43,740)

If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

9-15-12 (vs. New York Mets)

On Saturday I met Victoria and 17 members of her family at the Sheraton in Brookfield. She has an aunt and uncle that live in Sussex but the rest of them came down from central Wisconsin, where Victoria is from. We checked into the hotel, consolidated  the tailgate essentials into four vehicles and then led a convoy to Miller Park. We were parked in the Braves 2 lot at 3:04 and set up shop. I threw the pigskin around and played a few games of Bags before it was time to eat. There was brats and hot dogs, potato salad, beer dip, pasta salad, and fresh fruit.

Not pictured above are the baseball cupcakes that Victoria made (she’s awesome).

Before we all headed inside I had a neighboring tailgater take a picture of our group. Five dollars goes to anyone that can name everyone pictured (offer not valid if you’re pictured or related to anyone pictured).

My friend Josh had given me his two tickets to try and sell for a donation and I was able to find someone on Twitter. I met with Emily and Evan (who happens to be my good friend Dustin’s cousin). They made a $40 donation for the two seats. Thanks guys! After entering the stadium Victoria, her mom and I went to section 125 to get game photo number 145.

The rest of the group had gone up to our seats in section 407 and I think they can actually be seen just above my head in the picture above. After getting the game number picture we went up to say hi to my parents who sat in my seats for Saturday’s game. I said hi to Bill and the Ice Man and we took the escalator up to the terrace level. When we got to our seats they were distributing the minor league player and pitcher of the year awards. Hunter Morris got the former and Hiram Burgos the latter. Nice job, fellas! Hopefully we’ll be seeing them on the field at Miller Park soon.

Shortly thereafter Marcum threw a ball to Tejada to start the game. It’s a lot different than my other first pitch pictures, no? This picture makes it seem like the action was farther away than it was due to my camera’s ability to zoom out.

The Mets took an early 1-0 lead in the 1st on a Lucas Duda RBI single. The Brewers tied it up in the bottom of the 1st when Braun doubled home Rickie Weeks.

The 4th inning was a long one and the Mets got it started by scoring three runs in their half of the frame. In the bottom half Nyjer Morgan walked and Jean Segura singled. Roenicke opted to pinch hit for Marcum despite the fact he had only pitched four innings (he had thrown 87 pitches though). It paid off big time when pinch hitter Logan Schafer tripled down the right field line, driving in both Morgan and Segura.

Aoki walked and then a wild pitch while Rickie Weeks was batting allowed Schafer to score from third. Two pitches later Rickie drove one to left field that landed in the netting above the back of the Brewers bullpen. The ball is a blur and below and to the right of the on deck circle.

The home run concluded the 4th-inning scoring which saw 8 runs cross the plate. When it was over the Brewers had a 6-4 lead.  In the bottom of the 5th the Brewers tacked on two more runs to take an 8-4 lead. Between the top and bottom of the 6th the sausages did their thing, and it was a relay race with the little guys. I picked the hot dog because that kid’s legs looked the most conducive to running with a sausage costume on. Hot dog won, obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t be boasting about my sausage race picking ability.

Braun was called out on strikes to open the bottom of the sixth. During Aramis Ramirez’s at bat we saw something fly out of one of the sections to our left. It worked its way down to the field…

After second baseman Daniel Murphy handed the poster-board airplane to the grounds crew member he clapped his hands in a show of amusement. I actually think he was impressed with the craftsmanship of the plane and the ability of the thrower to get it all the way to second base. Over the next inning or so we witnessed a witch hunt. There was also two uniformed police officers below the section. I’m not sure if they ever found the culprit but I don’t think they would’ve applauded him/her like Murphy did.

Rickie Weeks doubled in the 7th to drive in Segura and the Brewers took a 9-4 lead. After the top of the 8th I headed down to the loge level. I barely made it to above section 222 to see the first pitch in the bottom of the 8th. After the bottom of the 8th I went down to behind section 118 to (hopefully) see the last three outs of the game. Axford gave up a two-run home run but then struck out the final two batters. Here’s the final pitch of the game to Jordany Valdespin.

The rest of the group had made it’s way down separately (because they didn’t mind missing pitches) and I met them in the parking lot right after the game. It was an enjoyable day and the third longest that I’ve been on Miller Park grounds this season. I had a great time with Victoria and her family, and the win coupled with the Cardinals loss means that the Brewers are only 2.5 games back of the second wild card spot. Go Brewers!

It’s almost 11:00 AM on Sunday morning and I’ll be leaving shortly with Victoria to catch the finale of the series.

Personal Stats:

Daily Stats:

Time inside Miller Park: 4 hours 23 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 7 hours 3 minutes
Miles driven: 56.3
Miles riding in car but not driving: 15.7
Sausages: 2 (Brat and a hot dog)
Pitches missed: 0
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (336/336)
Current streak of pitches seen: 949

Season Stats:

Brewers current record: 73-72 (.503 winning percentage)
Time inside stadiums: 615 hours 33 minutes 
Time on stadium grounds: 727 hours 22 minutes
Miles driven: 17,314.7
Miles riding in car but not driving: 2,214.4
Public transit miles: 469.0
Flight miles: 19,777
Total distance traveled: 39,775.0 miles
Distance as % of Earth’s circumference: 159.73% (39,775.0/24,901)
Sausages: 94 (36 Hot Dogs, 31 Polish, 12 Bratwurst, 5 Corndogs, 2 Italian, 2 Cheddarwurst, 2 Bison Dogs, Chicken Apple Sausage, Blueberry & Merlot Venison Sausage, Sausage Race on a Stick, Elk Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage)
Pitches missed: 97
Longest streak of pitches seen: 2,192 (8/27 – 9/3)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.78% (43,401/43,498)

If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

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