Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Kauffman Stadium

It feels really good to be back in action, especially when you get to go to a place like Kauffman Stadium.  Now the stadium was great, but I have my bones to pick with the city of Kansas City, MO.  First, Kansas City, KS and Kansas City, MO are so damn close together I was seriously confused as to which one I was going.  I originally thought MO, but saw a map, got confused, still thought MO, and ended up being correct.  Now a piece of sage advice from me. IF YOU EVER FLY TO KANSAS CITY, DO NOT TAKE A CAB. I went up to this lady at the shuttle counter and asked how much it would be to go to Kauffman Stadium and back since I flew in this morning, went to the game, and will soon fly out in a few hours for St. Louis.  She said the round trip would be $60. $60?! ARE YOU INSANE? I thought she was trying to get some business, so I decided to take a cab instead.  Whoops. Cab fare from the airport to downtown, including tip, was $55. One way. Should have let myself get hustled by the shuttle lady.

Now I have the bag dilemma.  What do I do with my carry-on and backpack during the game?  I tried to check it at the airport, but Southwest doesn't let you check until four hours before the flight (which would have been 2 PM).  Game time was 1:10, so checking my bags was out of the question.  I decided to try stashing my bags at a hotel downtown, so I told the cabbie to head to the President Hilton in downtown KC.  This was probably the smartest move I made all day.  The ladies at the counter were very nice and put my bag in the storage closet, and I went to the bar and talked to the bartender about my traveling troubles.  Most everyone agreed the cab prices were insane, so he looked up the nearest rental car place on his iPhone for me, and I walked the two blocks to Budget and rented a car for $80.  This might seem steep, but when I factored in 2 cab trips from the hotel to Kauffman and back, plus the cab trip back to the airport, I figured I would be saving money.  I think I did, which is incredibly sad.  Plus it allowed me the freedom to grab some Kansas City BBQ at Jack Stack, which was really good, and I went back to the hotel to grab my bags and stash them in the rental car. Pictures below.  More about parking and such in the stadium details below, but I urge my readers to rent a car if you ever find yourself in Kansas City.

Location:  The stadium is located right next to Arrowhead to the southeast of Kansas City's downtown and about half an hour from the airport.  It's kind of in the middle of nowhere and public transportation is nonexistent.  I paid $10 to park about 1/2 mile from the stadium, which probably was worth it.  The setup of the two stadiums reminded me a bit of the way Citizens Bank Park, Lincoln Financial Field, and the Wachovia Center are set up next to each other in Philadelphia. It would be really cool to park and double dip with the Royals and Chiefs on a Sunday in September.

Outside shot

Kauffman's next-door neighbor: Arrowhead Stadium

Ballpark:  I fell in love with Kauffman Stadium after having seen the same type of stadium many times in a row.  The stadium itself is pretty old and has been home to the Royals since 1973.  It was renovated in time for Opening Day 2009 in a 0.375% sales tax increase vote in Jackson County.  Renovations to the Chiefs home, Arrowhead Stadium, were also included in the funds from the tax increase.

The ballpark on the inside is beautiful during the day.  They have some water and fountains in center field that in between innings look like a mini version of the fountains in front of the Bellagio in Las Vegas.  They have the best scoreboard I have seen besides Yankee Stadium, and it's shaped like an elongated home plate with a crown on the top.  Also, I don't know if it's the way the stadium is set up or not, but the wind was gusting 30-40 mph out to left field.  I'm surprised more home runs weren't hit today.

The ballpark has an AWESOME Royals Hall of Fame exhibit that included a 15-minute film on Royals history.  It was in right field and definitely worth the time I took to go there.  Plus I chatted with the fellow dressed up like an 1886 Kansas City Cowboys player who has been to over 50 stadiums in his lifetime.  I figure once I finish this tour, I can hit the new ones when they open and keep my running tally going.

 Behind home plate view

Looks like the guy is throwing up the Hook 'Em Horns back there, but...'s actually really awkward looking

The guy who had been to all 50 stadiums.  Pretty sweet 'stache.

Food:  The food at Kauffman seemed to be pretty good.  Since I had Jack Stack's, I didn't eat at the stadium, but they offer funnel cakes, lemonade, a burrito, nachos, and margarita stand, Blue Moon and Boulevard beer stops, Sheridan's custard, pizza, steak burgers, BBQ, ribs, potato skins at this Fry Works place, and a $9 meal of chicken breast, cole slaw, and a cinnamon roll.  The SCPI here was $13 ($4.50 dog and $8.50 large brew).  It all looked really good, but I think you understand I HAD to try some KC BBQ.

My Jack Stack's / rental car benefit.  Highly recommended.

Game:  The game was a lot of fun.  I sat in the left field bleachers and got sprayed by some of the water in center field because of the gusting winds, but I talked with a lot of the locals and they were genuinely interested in my trip.  Flattery by other fans gets these stadiums a 0.5 overall bump I think.  The Royals were playing the Mariners and lost 6-5, but they made the game entertaining after they fell behind 5-1.  I wish I could have seen Zach Greinke pitch (last year's AL Cy Young winner), but I walked away with a Greinke t-shirt jersey and plan on picking up a shirt jersey at every stadium in the future.  It's going to be expensive, but well worth it.

Action shot!

Bellagio-style fountains


Summary:  The stadium was gorgeous during the day and the fans were nice, the food selection looked great and the game was entertaining.  Getting there was expensive and a pain, but I definitely enjoyed my trip to Kauffman and would love to go back.  It's hard not to root for the Royals, too.  Plus I'm a sucker for anything in baby blue hues.

 HA! Been there, done that, Royals.

David, this is a GREAT sign...

Location: 5
Ballpark: 9
Food: 9
Game: 8
Overall: 8

Record: 4-4 (the D-backs have started me on a losing streak that I hope continues tomorrow in St. Louis).
Giveaway tally: 1 A's Snuggie, 1 Padres sticky calendar.

Miller Park


After a lengthy writing hiatus, I am officially back in action.  I began my Midwest swing today in Milwaukee and got off to a great start.  More on the stadium later, but I must first thank the Wasiullahs - Masood, Karin, and Amir - for being incredibly hospitable today.  I dropped in on Masood at his clinic and he drove me to his house in the middle of the day, Karin drove me around all afternoon and evening, and Amir will be taking me to the airport in the morning.  All around awesome.  Also, a BIG thank you to my Uncle Paul for helping to get me in touch with the Wasiullahs, and to Eileen and Karin for an entertaining Brewers game.

Now on to Miller Park, the home of Hall of Fame announcer Bob Uecker. This entire post is dedicated to Mr. Uecker, who will be undergoing heart surgery on Friday and will miss nearly three months of baseball.  In his honor, I will make so many "Major League" references that Charlie Sheen's head might explode. "He's not the best color man in the league for nothing, folks!"

Harry Doyle: That's all we got? One goddamn hit?
Colorman: You can't say goddamn on the air.
Doyle: Don't worry - nobody is listening anyway. 

Location:  The park is located pretty close to downtown, but is really just west of it.  I think. I don't believe there is a major source of public transportation to get there, but we walked up the day of to get our tickets at will call and purchased a preferred parking pass for $13.  We parked about 1/4 of a mile from the stadium and had no trouble getting out.  It was the best parking experience I've had thus far.  As far as the location is concerned, I think it's OK - there's a VA hospital and the Potawatomi Casino nearby, but Miller Park really seemed to be the only thing around.

Ballpark:  I'm going to show you a picture of the first base side of the stadium.  It looks nearly identical to Minute Maid Park from the outside. It has some red brick, beige-ish limestone on the outside, and green metal trim.  It has a retractable roof which kind of looks weird on the top.  I'm gonna go ahead and say that I much prefer the roof at Minute Maid to the one at Miller Park. And I SWEAR I'm not being biased.

In addition to the remarkably similar architecture, the Brewers have a yellow slide in left field that Bernie (the mascot) slides down every time the Brewers hit a home run.  I think I prefer a train full of oranges and our raging bull animation on the scoreboard.  That's another thing that separates MMP from Miller Park - our scoreboard and videoboard are pretty awesome, but theirs are kind of weak.  Outside of Yankee Stadium, I haven't really seen another stadium that compares electronically thus far with MMP.

They have a TGI Friday's in the outfield that is open 365 days a year and hasn't failed yet, unlike Ruggles, and a pretty good amount of premium seating areas if you're looking to splurge for a half birthday present.  Other than that, there weren't that many amenities or things that stood out about it.

Outside view. Identical color scheme to The Juice Box.

Food:  The SCPI (Stadium Consumer Price Index) was $12 even - $7.75 for the large draft and $4.25 for the dog.  For an extra $0.25 cents though, you can upgrade the dog to a brat.  You better believe that was the easiest decision I've made all week.  I was kind of disappointed with the condiments to dress the brat, in addition to the overall food variety in the stadium. They did have Dippin' Dots though, which is somehow still "The Ice Cream of the Future."  If someone can explain to me how that's even possible, I'll buy you your own gallon.  I found the beer variety surprisingly average.  You would think that with a name like Miller Park taps would be flowing from the heavens, but I guess my expectations were too high.  Anyway, I paid for some of the things I bought tonight with my "American Express Card - don't steal home without it."

Demolishing brat. Not my beer. It's a prop. Plus I am REALLY tired.

Game:  The game was FUN, thanks to my Milwaukee hostesses Karin and Eileen.  We got to the game relatively early an walked around and chatted with the game day staff, who were incredibly nice.  We grabbed pictures with models of the sausages that race around the stadium in the 6th inning, and then took our seats that Karin got from an incredibly nice ticket sales rep named Regis.  Anyway, I was particularly excited to see the Brewers play because I really like the player Ryan Braun is shaping up to be. That and he's Jewish.  He might even be a SuperJew.  Pretty soon it will be "Greenberg, Koufax, and Braun" that little league mensches look up to.

The game was pretty much always within one run until Pittsburgh Pirate Ryan Doumit hit a grand slam in the ninth inning, ending an INCREDIBLE 22-game road losing streak against the Brewers.  Think about that.  For the past 22 times (which stretches back to 2007) the Pirates and Brewers had played in Milwaukee, the Pirates lost EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  Glad I could come in and shake things up a little bit because I kind of hate the Brewers through my hate for Bud Selig.  If you don't understand why I hate Selig, just ask me.  It involves the Astros, the Brewers, the DH, steroids, his teeth, a buffalo - live or stuffed, preferably stuffed for safety's sake, a no-hitter, the MLBPA, revenue-sharing, etc.  I could have easily written another Plan II thesis on the topic.  Rant fin.

Sausage Race!!!!! GO CHORIZO!!!

Braun being awesome. And possibly having his back leg out of the batter's box.

Karin, Eileen, and "Joe-bu"

Summary: The stadium is pretty, but they are all beginning to look that way.  Eileen asked me in the 4th or 5th inning what I will remember about Miller Park that distinguishes it from other parks that I have seen so far.  I have been trying to do that for the most part, but Miller Park - aside from the sausage races and the slide in left field - doesn't really offer anything unique.  It does have a little league park on the stadium grounds, and the home plate of that little league field used to be the home plate at Milwaukee County Stadium.  Kind of cool.  I had a good brat, and the Brewers fans were some of the best I've seen so far.  I guess what made this game experience so exciting for me was the company. Otherwise the stadium itself was kind of blah.  Experiencing Milwaukee was great, though!  I look forward to coming back to a concert week called Summerfest at some point in my future.

Miller Park at night.

Milwaukee River from the Wasiullah's backyard. Good stuff.

Harry Doyle: And the post-game show is brought to you by....

Harry Doyle: Christ. I can't find it. To hell with it.

Location: 7
Ballpark: 6.5
Food: 6
Game: 7

Record: 4-3
Rainouts: 1
Giveaways: 1 A's Snuggie, 1 sticky Padres calendar

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Major League Baseball has gone the longest it ever has without having a single game rained out this season.  With my luck, the season's first rain out was on Friday. In Denver.  I mean, it would make sense for the first rain out to be in Florida, but Denver?!? Come on.

I will be rescheduling my trip to Coors for sometime in the future.  Looks like that Southwest voucher I got in Oakland will come in handy.

I still spent four days hanging out in Denver, and a big time thanks to my old friend David Cummings for taking me to the Rocky Mountains, the Coors brewery, and out with his friends.  I had a great time and look forward to getting back up there.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Non-Baseball Events

I've been in Denver since Tuesday night and haven't seen the Rockies play yet, but I wanted to upload some pictures from my trip into the Rockies and to the Coors brewery.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Funny Conversation I Heard Last Night

Adam Wainwright: Have you ever heard of Joe Herman?
*Chris Carpenter: Ya, man. I've heard he's THIS tall and shoots lightning bolts...

*Chris Carpenter is 6'6". He was quoting the movie Braveheart.

Chase Field

Crushed. Absolutely crushed.  The Diamondbacks lost last night against the Cardinals at Chase Field, ending my four-game win streak to start my road trip.  I guess I was rooting too hard against them the day before in San Diego.  My hate is really potent so it's understandable that it takes some time for it to wear off.  It might take the D-backs a few games to get back in the win column.

Anyway, thanks to Scott Cabaniss, Mike Abraham, Brian, Dave, and Phil, I had a great time in Phoenix.  Scott used to work in the ticket office for the Diamondbacks and got me in touch with Mike, who gave me a ticket (plus a ticket upgrade) and a personal tour of Chase Field.  He also got in touch with his tenant, Brian, and his roommates Dave and Phil, who let me crash on their couch for two nights.  Mike did the same trip with his brothers and a friend in 2004, and they have a website called Baseball Adventure 2004 which you should check out as well.  I'm damn angry that they thought of Miss Baseball 2004, but I probably don't have the courage to start something like that anyway.

Before I get to my review of Chase Field, I have to applaud Scott's recommendations for local eateries.  I went to this place called U.S. Egg for breakfast this morning which is run by four brothers, and an article on the wall says that the place is known for its underground motto, "Legs sells eggs," and the author also says that "It's the only breakfast place where you can see half of the club scene the next morning."  They don't take tips (which I'm sure is priced into the food) and offer free coffee, so if you're ever in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area you have to stop by.

On to Chase Field...

Location:  Located on the outskirts of downtown Phoenix, I drove to the stadium in my rental car (which is a ridiculous expenditure if you're under 25) with little to no traffic in what should have been rush hour.  I parked a stone's throw from the stadium for $10 and had no trouble getting out.  Apparently they have a light rail that can drop you off at the stadium, too, but since I paid an exorbitant amount of money for my rental car, I tried to get the most use out of it that I could. I'm sure you understand.

Thought about naming my rental car Jason Jennings - i.e., an expensive mistake.

Ballpark: The parks that were made in the late 90s early 2000s are all amazing, so I'm sure I'm starting to sound like a broken record.  Chase Field, formerly the BOB (Bank One Ballpark), was no different.  It is absolutely gorgeous on the outside and doesn't look to have the dimensions of a stadium from the street view, which you can see in my "outside" shot below.  It has a huge scoreboard in center, a pool in right-center that comes with 36 tickets and a $750 bar/food credit inclusive in the rental price.  There are also a few field level seats for patrons to watch the game from a player's perspective. If for some reason I have viewers that are Phoenix-located companies, I highly recommend doing this for a corporate outing.

Thanks to Mike, I had a great seat even with first base about 27 rows up.  The location allowed me to grab more pictures of Albert Pujols than is probably sane.  Even though he's a Cardinal, he's well on his way to being the greatest player of this generation and possibly ever.  Every time I look at him I picture Andy Pettitte in the Astros dugout mouthing "Oh my God" as his bomb in the 2005 NLCS left the earth's atmosphere.

Chase Field also has enormously wide concourses which are an undervalued trait in any ballpark experience.  They also have good bathrooms.  I'm going to make an all-inclusive best list once everything is over that should cover the parks, food, ballpark item, airports, etc., and I'm really looking forward to it. Chase Field's concourses might make the list, but it's still early.

Excellent view from the center field pool

Right field view

Hall with opening day rosters for every year. Mike explained that the goal is to make the MLB roster, then to the left they have lists of postseason awards. So you start with making the opening day roster, then become the best at your position, and ultimately...

 World Series Champions.

Just a snippet of the fields named after D-backs players who contributed money for local baseball diamonds

Nice scoreboard

Food: The variety was not as great as Safeco, which is currently my highest standard, but they had an unusual amount of corporate restaurants vend there. They had a Subway, Peter Piper Pizza, Mrs. Fields and TCBY combo, Cold Stone Creamery, Gordon Biersch, Macayo's (local Mexican), a BBQ joint, Hungry Hill (local sausage), and a Panda Express Chinese and sushi stop.  Plus they have your typical hamburger/dog stand.  The beer selection was good, and they offer 22 oz. bottles which I have yet to see anywhere else.  I had a Cisco's Wrap from Macayo's which was delicious.  I'm sure the only reason I got it was because it reminded me of Cisco's in Austin.  The SCPI (Stadium Consumer Price Index) at Chase was $10.50.  They really come through with a $1.50 value dog that's the size of one you would grill at home. The large draft is $9.

Game: Ugh. I don't want to write this section. I had high hopes of keeping my ever-growing facial hair until I lost, which I wanted to be in mid-May.  Now it's just too itchy and I want to shave.  The D-backs opened up to a 2-0 lead in the first and no one scored until Matt Holliday's scorcher to left tied the game.  After that it was all over, even though Pujols had a rather quiet game.  The fans were also kind of quiet.  There was a HUGE Cardinals contingent there, and they easily drowned out any cheers from the Diamondbacks fans.  I felt like I was watching a Cubs-Astros game in Houston.

An update on the Padres, too.  David Eckstein must have read my blog and seen the comment I had below my picture because he hit a walk-off home run last night.  It's on, Mr. Eckstein.





The beginning motions of a game-tying, two-run home run by Matt Holliday

Summary: Even though my perfect record is gone, I enjoyed the stadium tour and the scenery.  I had an awesome seat, good food, and a sound Phoenix experience.  The park is beautiful and is one of the better parks I've seen on this leg so far.  I hope the Diamondbacks can get back to being a winning team because that park full and loud would be a great game experience.

After 5 stadiums in 6 days, I'm heading to Denver to stay with my friend David Cummings for a four day stop.  I'm on to Houston Saturday and that'll be my last stop before Milwaukee and the start of Leg 2.

Location: 9
Ballpark: 9
Food: 8
Game: 6
Overall: 8

*An update on my ranking systems.  I've now put the rankings on the sidebar, and I'm going to continually update them as I see more stadiums. It only makes sense that my perspective on previous visits will change as I increase my sample size.  I'm specifically thinking Houston deserves a higher ranking because it fits in well with the other newer stadiums I've seen thus far.

Record (now I can count the Houston loss): 4-2
Giveaways: 1 Oakland A's Snuggie, 1 Padres sticky calendar