A GREAT view of the field at AT&T Park in Chattanooga during their pre-season open house!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Washington Wild Things Washington, PA

We absolutely love Consol Energy Park in Washington Pennsylvania.  There is something very special to me about a very small park in this area.

The park is really only a half an hour or so outside of Pittsburgh, making it very easy for a baseball fan to take a weekend trip to the Pittsburgh area for a Pirates game one night, and a Wild Things game on another night.

This park is very close to the local mall.  Washington is the kind of town big enough for a mall, but barely.  There are things to do in the area, but it still has a very rural feel.

The Wild Things have a nice, green skyline going at their park.  I love this!  I like an urban skyline too, but a hill with a bunch of trees on it is so relaxing!

Plus, you still have Pittsburgh close by.  You can still go and see concerts, and do all of the bigger city stuff you want anytime.

Personally, I think Washington would be a great town to live in.  It is close to a beautiful city like Pittsburgh, but it is still far enough away to have its own identity.  It also has a nice smaller mall, and a Frontier League baseball team!

The vibe at a Wild Things game is very local, and very community oriented- like at many minor league parks.  Thats fun.  People seem to know each other, and even if you are an outside you are treated in a familiar way.  The team seems to be OK with tailgating too, as I saw a lot of that going on!

The staff at this park has always been friendly too.  I usually stop by customer service or chat with someone in the ticket booth.

A popular item at the Wild Things game was milk and a cookie!  I know the Florence Freedom have milk and cookies too.

I saw fans lining up a little while before the announcement was made.  Then the line just got bigger.  I think they sell milk and a cookie for a buck!  If the line wasn't so long I would have gotten in on that!

What a great tradition to have at a ball game!  Plus, its affordable!

For some reason, it seems that the weather acts up when I am in Washington.  It just got a little windy on this visit, but I was there once when a rough storm came through- I think it was in 07.  A very solid opera singer performed the National Anthem and it seemed like the storm hit as the singer hit her last night.  It was spectacular!  As she finished the haunting version of the great song, you could see dust clouds come up in the outfield.

I would love to hear form anyone who was at that game.

If you are a baseball road tripper and you haven't been to Washington, you need to go.  The city is a perfect example of what a minor league town should be.  Not too big, locals are friendly, and a scruffy style of play is the norm.

AND, I love the Frontier League.  Its just the perfect league that struggled early on, but has now solidly established itself.  Unlike some affiliated leagues, they still appreciate your business.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pirates at PNC Park Pittsburgh

Yes, I know I have covered PNC Park in Pittsburgh over and over- and I am going to mention it again now.

Do I really have to say that I love this park?  I love this town too.  Pittsburgh has a very unique beauty to it. 

It is all its own, and the locals have a scrappy but friendly attitude.  Sure, they had their backsides kicked economically when certain industries left the area and shrunk, but they now have other industries.

I don't want to use the very tired old cliche of the Phoenix but.....

Let me try to think of some things to say about PNC that I haven't said on this blog before.  This is easily my favorite major league park to not watch a game at.  I mean, watching a game here is fun too, but there are some great things to do around the park that are totally Pittsburgh. 

Check out that view of the river!  Right behind PNC Park is a great walkway where you can see the city, and take in the bridges, the water, and that great distinct skyline!
I know the Parrot mascot has had some issues in the past, but I think he is over those now and I think he is a great mascot!  He was hitting balls in to the stands on the day we were there.

We were able to get obstructed view seats when we were there.  It was CROWDED!  We could get our seats, or standing room only tickets (thats all that were left).  I wasn't sure if that wasn't cool, or if I was happy to see such a crowd at a pirates game.

It was a bit scary at some points getting around when we were there because of the people packed in to the park.

The Pirates have started selling an "All You Can Eat" ticket.  I have to say that in general, I don't care for this. 

Here's why:

As a road tripper, I probably want to try the signature items at a park.  In Pittsburgh, I like ordering at Manny's.  If I get a pop, I want it in a souvenir cup.  And, I think these tickets jack up your ticket price by $15 or so.  Even at a ballpark, I can't eat that much food!

The Pirates were obviously having trouble accommodating the people who bought this ticket.  The lines in the "All You Can Eat" sections were LONG.

Speaking of Manny!  Manny was there as usual (I assume he is at every single game).  I had brought a couple of old cards to get him to sign, which he did, adding "God Bless" to each one as I bought a sandwich at his BBQ stand.  Manny Sanguillen is easily one of my all time favorites, and the fact that he still hangs out at the park to say hello to fans says a lot about him.  Getting his autograph makes coming to this park very special.

There are some nice hotels downtown, or right out of downtown.  Pittsburgh has several nice malls and great communities.  Catching a Pirates game is a great weekend trip from just about anywhere.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Babe Ruth Museum, Baltimore, MD

In front of Camden Yards in Baltimore is a very humble statue of a young Babe Ruth.

Near the statue, painted on the side walk, is a baseball with the phrase, "The Babe Ruth Museum" painted on that baseball.

If you look down the street a little further, there is another identical baseball.

Near that baseball is another one.

You can follow the baseballs across a couple of streets, down some sidewalk paths.

Two and a half blocks from the statue is the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum!

They have obviously done a lot of work building around the original Babe Ruth birth site and it looks great.

The very nice staff at the museum showed us exactly where the original house started and where the new construction was, explaining some of the original house structure.

One of the many priceless features of this museum is the room where the legend was born. 

You can't see that somewhere else!  That room can really never be shipped off to another museum.  There is only one birthplace, and this great museum has done a great job of keeping it up.

Other great items in the museum included game used equipment, autographs (including what they believe is the earliest example of a Ruth signature) and items from movies filmed about the Babe.

Oh, I mentioned before about how great people in Baltimore seem.  At this museum they have some great characters who love sitting around and talking baseball and other sports.  I really love that.  The staff here works here obviously because they love it.  We chatted for a long time with some guys who have been around Baltimore sports forever.  I really enjoyed hearing what they had to say about baseball, the Orioles, and the history of it all.

Baltimore is a must stop for any baseball fan at some point.  And I think there is no doubt that you must visit this museum.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

2012 Florence Freedom

I was able to get to one of my all time favorite parks a few days ago for the first time this season!

I really love the Florence Freedom and the Frontier League.

The who atmosphere is just a lot more casual than at even some single A parks I know.  The staff and the players are more calm and cool.

The players have more to prove too and they play a bit more aggressively.

The Freedom play at such a cool park.  There are funny paintings on the walls in the bathrooms and their between inning stunts are a bit more entertaining than at some parks.  I love the eyeball race.  I love their mascots too!

The park in Florence is another one of the great lower league parks where yo are still in an urban area, but you feel like you are not.  The outfield area overlooks the very green area of town.

Plus, I like Florence.  They have a nice mall, several nice food places close by, and they now have a Half price Books!

On the day i went, the Freedom were playing my other favorite Frontier League team, the Washington Wild Things!  Washington's coach, the legendary Lenny Randle was hamming it up and entertaining the crowd before the game!  He very kindly jumped the fence at one point and went to the stands to sign autographs!

This is easily one of my all time favorite teams and parks.  I think a lot of people over look the indy and smaller league teams which is sad.

The Freedom offer great deals on tickets, have great promos and affordable food items.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Wild Pitches

If you are in the Evansville Indiana area tonight, they are having a showing of "A League of Their Own" at Bosse Field!  Plus, they are going to have a few of the girls who actually played in the old AAGPBL there!  I really wish I could be out there tonight to see the film at that great historic park but I won't be able to make it.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sliders- Baltimore, MD

Before the game we went to in Baltimore, we stopped at this very cool local place right across from the park!

It just looked too cool from the outside.  PLUS, they had a $2 sliders special!!!!  I had a pork, beef, and a chicken slider.

They were all great (all the meats had a good, fresh taste to them- if you eat a lot of bar food you know this can be a bit rare).  Oh, and they had great tots!

Two of us pigged out and still $20 including tip covered it. 

The barhad a real cool atmosphere.  I love a bar that displays bobbleheads all over the place!

You could throw a baseball from here to Camden Yards so if you are in Baltimore, this is the place to go!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Charlie Mirabal Dodgers Prospect

Charlie Mirabal has spent just a couple of years in the minors, and he has already put time in at AAA!

He sent me a note recently answering a few questions.

He says that so far his favorite park he has played in was Great Lakes!

His favorite sports team is the Lakers.

Los Angeles and Miami are his favorite sports towns.

He also mentions playing in Midland.  He enjoyed playing there, the field was great and so were the fans!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Wild Pitches

I wanted to take a moment to mention this weeks Sports Illustrated.

There is a great article on Andrew McCutchen, one of my favorites, and how he had to retool a few things when he was at AA.  I've followed him since his time in the SAL, and I am glad to see him getting so much credit and press.

There was a very interesting letter published too, from a Leah Bishop in Atlanta.  The letter concerns a previous SI article about sports stories that we have heard enough of.

Bishop talks about the Penn State scandal, and how the kidnapping of Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos occurred around the same time.

Leah says, "While Wilson Ramos's story was more compelling, it was a mere blip on the radar compared with all the media attention the Penn State scandal got and continues to generate."

I really liked the point of this letter and I thought SI put another good issue together this week.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Camden Yards, Baltimore, MD.

We walked about three blocks from our hotel to get to Camden Yards in Baltimore.

I know this park ranks high on a lot of baseball fans lists.  I was very excited to finally make it there.

There are many things that I liked right away about this place.  First off, we weren't hassled at all on the way to the park.  No one asked for change, and no one tried to sell us tickets.  The few vendors we saw were just there.

I was reminded of my similar walk to Commerica Park in Detroit.  As much as I like that park, team, and town it can be a bit of a battle finally getting to the game.  And that is the kind of thing that will make you think twice about a return visit.  Camden did not have this problem.

The park itself is pretty.  Very pretty.  I love a great skyline view, and seeing all of the buildings out over a field.

I like a good atmosphere outside of a park.  Places to go before the game, nice restaurants and bars.  That kind of thing.

They have that in Baltimore.  See my other entry on the bar "Sliders".  I love a good atmosphere though.  Plus there is the Baltimore Sports Museum right next to the park, and Babe Ruth's Birthplace is less than 3 blocks away!

I was thinking about some other parks I love- some have a great atmosphere going on outside the park (I think St. Louis can't be beat in this category) and some stadiums are surrounded by parking lots.

Baltimore is an easy town to get around in (for its size).  They had trains that bring locals to the games from outside areas (I saw several locations with flyers about how to use transportation to get to Camden Yards).  Parking and driving seemed easy too.

We did ask very friendly staff person to take our photo with the field in the background.  No big deal- we have done this dozens of times.  Well, the friendly usher took our photo and we were on our way.  Right after that, another usher (I assume a supervisor) came over and gave the usher a ton of grief because she did not have us turn our flash off before taking the picture.  I did think this was very odd and unnecessary.  Other than the intense usher/supervisor person, the staff seemed great.

Camden, as I ramble here in my writings, is obviously the ballpark that other parks get compared to.  As we were there, and as we left, we kept comparing certain features and styles to things we have encountered at other major league parks.

We DID like this park a lot- and we will make more visits.  We have debated where this park ranks on our personal favorites list.  I will say I talked to several people recently about this one.   I need to give that one a little more thought.