Baseball On My Brain


Back in the saddle again
July 22, 2008, 7:51 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

It’s been quite a while since I sat down to put something up here…let’s go back in time a ways.

A few weeks ago I took a trip to New York for the All-Star Game and to finally see a game at Shea Stadium before it closes and they move next door to the very impressive looking Citi Field.

That seems to be the most interesting part of my recent life, so I’ll start there.

After a 5-hour flight and a hour-plus long car ride from Newark to our hotel in Manhattan, we finally went out for dinner at Mickey Mantle’s. On the way, I started feeling a bit funky, and realized that I had something that wasn’t agreeing with me and would subsequently force me to spend a good amount of time in the restroom the rest of the trip. Bear that in mind as you read this.

While my appetite didn’t show up at Mickey Mantle’s, I wasn’t all that impressed with the food. I had a vision of it being a bit of a more fine-dining establishment, but in reality it’s standard American food, a good amount of which was fried or had otherwise had extra calories added to it. Our waitress wasn’t as speedy as I expected, but overall it was a good trip.

There’s lots of memorabilia on hand, all of it – at least I think so – up for sale. The Michael Jordan game-used bat was pretty cool to see, as were some of the photos and mementos that line the walls. The price tags are all pretty hefty though, so be prepared for a bit of sticker shock. Maybe I went in with expectations too high, but I’d question if I’d go back again.

One positive of the visit was that I started my trek to see as many of the team logoed Statues of Liberty that I could. Mantle’s was home to the Texas Rangers, so cross that one off the list.

(I’m always a fan of writing the side notes that come up, particularly as I’m writing this. You’ve undoubtedly had the experience of being hungry but having no idea what in the world you wanted, or conversely nothing that was an option sounded good. I’m in that spot right now, a couple of minutes before the Mariners-Red Sox game, and nothing sounds appealing, let alone something worth standing in line for 15 minutes for and paying a ballpark markup for.)

We found a few more statues that night as we walked around midtown Manhattan before calling it a night. After breakfast with friends on Saturday morning, we made the trek to Coney Island before catching a Brooklyn Cyclones game.

Let me say this, it was thoroughly minor league. Read into that what you will.

I was seated behind a father-son pair; the son was distraught at apparently not getting an autograph from Angel Pagan, who had been assigned to the Cyclones on a rehab assignment, I believe. I’ve been frustrated by not getting the autograph you wanted, but this kid was taking it to the next level.

Enough about him though – the game was enjoyable, even despite having non-stop promotions, contests, and on-field distractions by the MC, for lack of a better word. This guy was the master of nothing, other than being loud.

Sunday took us to Yankee Stadium for the Futures Game, a relatively uninspired event that I’m glad I didn’t buy the premium-price ticket for. We had great seats behind home plate on the third level that worked out just fine.

It’s disappointing that more fans aren’t into the Futures Game — I know that the price makes it unrealistic for most fans to justify, especially when you don’t know who most of these guys are and it doesn’t affect or determine anything; it’s simply an exhibition. But there’s something special for me when I get to see the future stars of the game play, no matter where it is.

Following the Futures Game, we stayed for about 20 minutes of the Legends & Celebrities Softball Game, another added-value event that wasn’t really worth it. We were too far away to justify being there by getting autographs, so we headed out for our next destination: Shea Stadium.

Let me first say that Citi Field looked so good from the outside that it might warrant me returning to the Big Apple next season to see it’s debut.

Now onto Shea — let me just say that I can see why they’re building Citi Field. It’s easy to see how the stadium has become outdated – the concourses are small, the sightlines from the main level aren’t great, and 40+ years of use have taken it’s toll. But I have a hard time calling a stadium bad after only one visit – and for a lot of people that place is full of great memories, and I respect that.

But it was nice to add it to my list of places I’ve been to, especially in it’s final year. Plus the Mets beat the Rockies, and a pair of homeruns allowed me to see the apple come up twice. Always nice when you get the full package.

Monday took us to the workout day and Home Run Derby, which if you watched, you know was a pretty special thing to see, especially when it came to Josh Hamilton. We had the chance to trade our tickets in from our rightfield seats to between home and third, and let me say that I’m glad we didn’t, for two reasons. First, we got to be near the landing area for lots of the homeruns, and second, we would have had to give up our cool tickets, which I’m glad I hung onto. MLB did a really nice job on the tickets this year, and they’re cool mementos to have.

On a realted note, I had never seen kids on the street after the game with signs asking for ticket stubs before. I should have asked them why they wanted them; instead I was left to my own speculations. The optimistic side thought they wanted to keep them as souvenirs; the realistic and slightly more jaded side thought they were going to sell them on eBay and make a few bucks.

The All-Star Game itself was a blast – 15 innings, debating whether or not we’d have to leave in order to get back to our hotel in time to get to the airport. Let’s just say that we got on the subway a little after 2 a.m., and the car was coming to get us at 5:30 am to take us to the airport for a 7:40 am flight. I literally fell into my chair and passed out for about 5 hours on the plane ride home.

Looking back on it, MLB did a pretty darn good job covering Manhattan in All-Star stuff. When we got up Tuesday morning to go walk around before the game, we were greeted the mascots of the Royals, Rockies and Indians outside our hotel. There was no shortage of signs, logos and other reminders of what was going on, although a cab driver who drove us on Saturday morning was apparently unaware of the game.

Had I not been feeling funky, I think I would have only enjoyed the trip more. Needless to say I’m looking forward to hopefully going to many more.

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