Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Baseball Trip - Epilogue

The American League beat the National League 4-3 last night. The American League has not lost an All Star Game since 1996 (hey that's because Chelle and I got married a month prior - I am telling ya, 96 was a great year for a National League guy!) Carl Crawford (image courtesy of the NY Times) may have saved the day by robbing Brad Hawpe of a home run in the bottom of the seventh.

With the win, the American League champion will have home field advantage during the World Series. Yeah, that's fair..not. That rule was enacted after the 2002 game ended in a tie because they ran out of players during an extra inning game. If I was Joe Torre, manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team with the best record in baseball, I would be furious right now. Then again, it's Torre and his mismanagement of the 2002 AL roster that resulted in this "brilliant" Bud Selig idea.

Now on to the epilogue of our trip. You don't have a trip like ours, the six ball games in six days, without people who made it possible. First, I have to thank my wife Michelle, commonly referred to by me as "Chelle". She let me go on this trip, while yeomanly taking care of our two boys during this time. Chelle didn't have any vacation time till August so unfortunately there was no way she or the kids could have gone (we are making up for that by going to the Curious George Festival in Waterville, New Hampshire in early August..have to see if there are any minor league teams there.. LOL).

As you can see from the picture with Mr. Met from our friend Scott's July 4th party, Chelle, like me, is a life long met fan. She also has a fondness for baseball, as she has traveled with me to games in San Diego, Arizona, Durham and Charlotte (or maybe it's a tolerance). The last two games were on a trip to North Carolina. She's been to many a Mets games with me over the years. She's also the world's biggest Todd Pratt fan! That last comment is an inside joke. I'll share it sometime. :-) Anyway, she's the main reason this trip happened. So honey, thank you and I love you dearly!

This trip also doesn't happen without the vision, organization and good nature of one man, Anthony J. Terentieff, my dear friend of nearly 25 years (we met in college). Tieff, as I call him, is pictured here in the left in full Phil Laak mode (if you don't know Laak, google him and you'll understand the reference). Hey, it was a cool rainy day in Pittsburgh.

Originally, when I came up with this idea of the trip to Tieff, I had imagined a four day, three game trip, leaving Sunday for Pittsburgh's game Monday, then Cleveland, then Cincinnatti. Tieff called me back a few days later and on the phone, he had me write down the itinerary that it became to be. I was stunned as was my wife because Tieff is not exactly known for being Mr. Plan Ahead. Well, he liked my idea so much that he ran with it. Tieff was also responsible for the Comfort Inn Marathon we had (six days, five different Comfort Inns) and also drove in his Dodge Durango, which I have nicknamed the Big Red Machine.

I was responsible for getting all the game tickets (basically all field level except for the Terrace Box seats near home plate for the Orioles game). I was also Sulu the navigator, responsible for picking towns to stop and eat in (Somerset PA - good choice) and to crack the whip when we needed to go faster (which we didn't need to, but I have not only a lead foot, but a lead foot navigation..LOL). But Tieff was the main man here and without him, this trip would never have been so fun and also so expansive. Tieff also had to endure endless calls from his job, so this vacation helped deal with that crap. Thanks so much Tieff!

As for the Comfort Inns, I want to thank all the staff at every Comfort Inn we stayed at; Pittsburgh East, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Cambridge (OH), and Greencastle, PA. The staff were incredibly friendly at all of these Comfort Inns. The rooms were clean, comfortable and the breakfast free. To Bob at the Greencastle Comfort Inn - it was an absolute pleasure talking to you. Special thanks to the clerk at the Comfort Inn Pittsburgh, our second leg of the trip. Without you, we don't find the Birdsfoot Golf Club.

Speaking of which, a big thank you to Dennis, the part time manager of the Birdsfoot Golf Club. Dennis, you couldn't have been nicer going over the course with us. But especially, thank you for the best hoagie, I ever had. Don't know if your home-made meatball heroes can top the pepperoni one, but I hope to someday find out. And the course is a really gem of a find. I highly recommend those of you reading the blog who like golf to check it out.

To all the friendly ushers, security, concession staff and gift shop people at Orioles Park, PNC, Progressive Field, Great American Ballpark and Nationals Park, thanks for being so kind and courteous. Tieff and I did not have one issue or problem at any of the ball parks we were at. The management at each of these ball parks should be proud of the people that work for them. I also want to throw a special kudos to the D.C. Police department. You had two very helpful and friendly police officers help us out the final day of our trip in D.C. And finally, a special thank you to the desk attendant at the Smithsonian Art Museum. She kindly gave us a map and pointed us on our way to the Air and Space Museum and Nationals Park.

To HOK and the people responsible for the ball parks in each of the cities we visited. Thanks for creating such wonderful ball parks, each of which we enjoyed immensely.

Finally, to the people of Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Cincinnatti. Hang in there. We could tell by the sparse crowds at each of these games that many of you right now can't afford to go to the ballpark often enough as you would want. Driving by the closed GM plant on our way to Cincinnatti reminded us how how the economy has hurt you guys the most. It's my sincere hope that the economy will rebound and you will again get to enjoy three of the best ballparks in the country on a regular basis (and here's hoping to meaningful pennant races in each of your cities in the near future). Hopefully this blog will spur others to take a similar baseball trip and visit your great ball parks and other attractions in your cities.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my log of our six day baseball trip. Don't worry, just because the trip ended doesn't mean the blog ends. This blog is my take on the baseball world and there will be plenty to write about the next two and a half months. There's pennant races, the July trade deadline. The soap opera known "As the NY Baseball World Turns." And of course, nothing is better than October baseball.

Come along for the ride. Remember, here you're always only ninety feet from home.

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