I Consider Myself (One Of) the Luckiest Men…

Yes, I know it has been a LONG time since I’ve posted on here, but now I’ve got a backlog of posts concluding my tour from last season. To be honest, it has felt like a great roller coaster ride since last October. After finishing my quest of attending a game in all 30 MLB parks, real life kept me as busy as possible. First, with me teaching during the regular school year, that took away most of my time. Working for the American Hockey League took up some more of my time, running races took up nearly the rest of my time, and before I knew it, I was completely back logged. Life happens.

One of the things that kept me busy was working for the AHL, specifically for the Ontario Reign at the Citizens Business Bank Arena. Doing the off-ice thing for the ECHL was great, but now with some extra money coming in and a better style of hockey in town, this season has been more than enjoyable. Not only did I get to explore other rinks using my pass (including a trip to Providence, RI), but I got to actually do some color commentary for the Ontario Reign for some road games! That ended up happening out of nowhere, and I have to give my full thanks to Joseph Zakrzewski for the opportunity. As the season wore on, I began tracking some team Corsi stats for the team, and that passion for stats and sports took me to San Jose, San Diego, and even Cleveland during their playoff run. While the Reign ended up getting swept by the eventual Calder Cup champion, Lake Erie Monsters, this was a great ride! Besides, it also helped that one of my closest friends lives out there, and we even attended a couple baseball games together yet again! I will post about that experience soon. But again, I feel so fortunate right now. Working in hockey has brought me so much luck and joy, and I cannot wait until the 2016-17 campaign.

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But, with the hockey season now coming to an end and the school year done for the summer, this gives me a great opportunity to put up some of the saved drafts from the past few months. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about you guys who still read this! Also, a big thank you to those who have kept reading despite the long absence. You will see some new posts spring up, but they will be back dated to the appropriate year. Just as an FYI, this post will likely disappear fairly soon, but there is also going to be some new pages set up for all my mobile readers! For now, here is some of what to expect:

*A post from St. Louis
*A lengthy post from Kansas City
*A post from the Field of Dreams
*A little something about the conclusion of my travels
*A great post about a good artist friend of mine, and how that affected my travels

*BALLPARK RANKINGS!!

*Weird foods around Major League Baseball

Yes, I already have my rankings set, and that post is long saved…. maybe I shall put that up this week? Again, thank you all for the support and I will see you at the ballpark!

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-JD

JD’s 2015 Ballpark Tour; Saint Louis, Missouri

Part XVII: Busch Stadium

(AKA: The Night of Free Food and Free Beer)

(AKA: The Cardinal Way)

This is another special post because I had one of my best friends, Matthew, join me for this final part of my trip, and this was a ballpark he had to visit at least once in his life. Even more lucky, I had gotten a hotel only two blocks away from the stadium and was able to fully prepare for this game. In fact, this is another one of those games were I felt completely ready to see every aspect of a new ballpark. Then again, I had gotten very good at preparing with the other 29 ballparks I had visited.

The game was on a Friday night, and the weather was fairly mild… a perfect day for a ball game. Since the game was against the Miami Marlins, we didn’t have the overly crowded streets like I had seen on TV last season. However, that didn’t matter, many fans still showed up en masse because Busch Stadium really is a gem in the Midwest. Would this place live up to expectations?

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Ballpark 31: Busch Stadium, elevation 440 feet
The game: Marlins @ Cardinals on August 14, 2015
Continue Reading About New Busch Stadium

JD’s 2015 Ballpark Tour; Kansas City, Missouri

Part XVI: Kauffman Stadium

(AKA: A Royal Treatment)

(AKA: Hotter than Heck)

This will be a special post because I was actually here more than once. However, for the purposes of this blog, I will keep this post more in the perspective of the regular fan! The reason that I made more than one visit here was because I was watching the Angels of Anaheim in Kansas City. I had to be impartial. Also, this post is special because the Kansas City Royals just won the 2015 World Series over the New York Mets and I’d like to say congratulations to a deserving team! The timing for this post couldn’t be more perfect. Need I say more?

This series in Kansas City was very important for both teams as the Royals were trying to keep their number one overall seed ahead of the surging Twins and the Blue Jays. As for the Angels, they were trying to get a hold on a wild card spot. I knew the crowds would be massive for both games. For the first part of this blog post, I will focus more on the Thursday game that took place. For the second part, I will focus more on the ballpark itself. However, there will be an additional mini-post about this ballpark to come at a later date. Yes, there is a reason for this.

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Ballpark 30: Kauffman Stadium, elevation 750 feet

The first game: Angels @ Royals on August 13, 2015
Continue Reading About Kauffman Stadium… for both games

JD’s 2015 Ballpark Tour; Minneapolis, Minnesota

Part XV: Target Field

(AKA: A Flair For the Dramatic)

(AKA: Twinning)

This was the portion of the trip where I realized that I was close to the end, and I was beyond excited to visit the final three ballparks. After a few days finally home recovering from my previous travels, I was busy preparing for the last leg of my baseball travels. On paper, this would be one of the more expensive trips since I had two flights, several days of hotels, and a big car rental. However, I used some “Orbucks” to get one day of a free hotel. Plus, I had been accumulating so many frequent flier miles that I went ahead and used those miles for free flights! Additionally, I was able to get a big discount on my car rental, so this helped me immensely on this trip. After another week in Las Vegas for Trivia Championships of North America, I was on my way to Minneapolis to explore one of the spotlight ballparks I had been wanting to visit since it opened, Target Field. I heard about many of the park’s amenities and some of the unique food they offer up there. How would it stack up to the rest of the league?

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Ballpark 29: Target Field, elevation 840 feet

The game: Rangers @ Twins on August 11, 2015
Continue Reading About Target Field

JD’s 2015 Ballpark Tour; Chicago, Illinois

Part XIV: Wrigley Field

(AKA: The Not-Quite-Finished Confines)

(AKA: The Day I Was a Local Celebrity… sort of)

After a brutally long day of baseball in two states, Thursday was my rest day until I decided to tour Miller Park. Maybe I’ll mention that tour on an off-season post… but the rest of that day was spent eating foods across two states, and relaxing near my hotel room in the middle of Chicago. Somehow, I was able to acquire a room for two nights that offered free parking in downtown! Of course, this was first-come, first-serve parking, so I had to make sure I was at that hotel early enough to secure a spot. I also made sure to make out my plans for the trip to the “Friendly Confines” in the north side of Chicago. To be honest, I had previously visited this park with my sister before the renovations a few years ago when it was rumored that new scoreboards would infect the classic park. We went to two games, and those were some of the best games we ever went to. I tried to forget about all that and enter Wrigley Field with a fresh perspective and moderate expectations. Because of all the changes, this was technically a “new” park I was visiting. Just how different would it be?

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Ballpark 28: Wrigley Field, elevation 599 feet

The game: Phillies @ Cubs on July 24, 2015
Continue Reading About Wrigley Field

JD’s 2015 Ballpark Tour; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Part XII: Miller Park

(AKA: An Experience Unlike Any Other)

After saying goodbye to Joe and the city of Anaheim, I had to get packing and get going to my next destination. The night of the Angels 2nd make-up game against the Sawx, I was already on my way to Milwaukee to catch one of the best theme nights in the team’s and MLB history. This particular giveaway was on my radar since the preseason because it involves one of my favorite baseball films. It was “Major League” Night at Miller Park, and the giveaway was a TALKING Harry Doyle bobble head! Of course, I had to be there for this one… but what I came away with was more than a bobble head. I came away with a great impression and a whole lot more.

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Ballpark 26: Miller Park, elevation 602 feet

The game: Indians @ Brewers on July 21, 2015
Continue Reading About Miller Park

JD’s 2015 Ballpark Tour; Cleveland, Ohio… take two.

Part X: Progressive Field (Second Visit)

After a couple days away from visiting anything baseball related in Ohio, Mike gave me an incredible surprise while I was still in town. He keeps track of a wonderful group called the Wahoo Club. As you may guess, this is an official club for the Cleveland Indians. Just about every month, they hold a Wahoo Club event that features a player from the Indians past or present with a full meal. Yes, they have even held breakfasts with classic players. For this particular event, Mike and I got tickets to the Wahoo Club luncheon with former Indians All-Star, Max Alvis! Oh, and some current rising star named Carlos Carrasco! This luncheon took place inside the Terrace Club at Progressive Field, a very nice place within the stadium. I knew I’d be in for not only a great luncheon, but a great game afterwards.

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Ballpark 24 (again): Progressive Field, elevation 667 feet
Continue Reading About my Second Visit to Progressive Field

JD’s 2015 Ballpark Tour; Cleveland, Ohio

Part X: Progressive Field (First Visit)

After a very lengthy game at PNC Park, Mike and I knocked out and didn’t do much before the Indians game Wednesday night. The events that morning were filled with wondering how we would get tickets. I was told that one of Mike’s relatives could have free tickets for that night’s game, which was also a bobble head night! Our task was to get bobbles for the two young boys who couldn’t attend the game… but I’ll save that story for the end.

To keep an already long post somewhat short, we acquired FREE tickets for that night’s game thanks to some kind family members. Myself, Mike, and his cousin, Dan, all went to the game on a nice Wednesday night. This was Carlos Santana bobble head evening, but after visiting some excellent ballparks, how would Progressive Field compare? Was it even possible to top Great American and PNC?

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Ballpark 24: Progressive Field, elevation 667 feet

The game: Astros @ Indians on July 8, 2015
Continue Reading about Progressive Field

JD’s 2015 Ballpark Tour; Cincinnati, Ohio

Part VIII: Great American Ball Park

(AKA: Celebrating Great American Independence)

After a glorious Canada Day, I had to leave a country I’ve grown to love and make my way to my friend’s place for a few days. He lives in Cleveland, but the way the MLB schedule went, we would go there later. This part of the trip was tricky because I wanted to get the parks in that general area all in one week. With some creativity and some free tickets, I was able to set my sights in Cincy, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and his home town. After a somewhat easier day on Friday (which I will talk about in the next post), we left early in the afternoon on Saturday for Cincinnati. Watching a ball game here was the perfect way to spend Independence Day… and Cincinnati knows how to host a 4th of July game!

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Ballpark 22: Great American Ball Park, elevation 488 feet

The game: Brewers @ Reds on July 4, 2015
Continue Reading about Great American Ball Park

JD’s Ballpark Tour, Seventeenth Inning (San Francisco, CA)

Part XVI: AT&T Park

(AKA: The End of a Long Journey)

(AKA: Saving the Best View For Last)

(AKA: Seeing a Clinching Celebration)
(AKA: Prelude to a Championship Run)

I will come out and say it, because of my slight bias as a Dodgers fan, I will say that if it wasn’t for the Giants playing there, I would rank this as the second best ballpark in the majors. As it is, this ballpark easily ranks in my top 5. San Francisco’s AT&T Park is that amazing and everybody that’s a true baseball fan should go there at least once.

The night before I was to attend the Giants game against the Padres, I made it a point to watch the Giants/Dodgers game on TV to see my hometown Dodgers clinch the NL West division! Watching that game was amazing… but that also meant that the Giants could clinch a playoff spot at home on the game I was attending. San Francisco had yielded a strong team all season, and I predicted they would be a tough out. In fact, at the time of this game, I assumed that the Giants would not only win their Wild Card game, but with their NLDS series and play the Dodgers in the NLCS. Part of that was wishful thinking to see an epic Giants/Dodgers duel for the pennant. Little did I know I would see the start of an amazing run into October.

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Ballpark 15: AT&T Park, elevation 10 feet

The game: Padres @ Giants on September 25, 2014

After leaving Oakland and spending the day at the Golden Gate Bridge, I made my way early on to AT&T Park with Kelsey to catch some BP and really look around the entire cove of the park. The place was buzzing with excitement as they playoffs were drawing near. Many believed there would be some games for the Giants in the NLDS, and some were hopeful for the NLCS. There were a few fans that were thinking World Series. However, nobody I talked to thought the Giants would win the whole thing. Not at that time, anyway.
Continue Reading the Seventeenth Inning