Saturday, May 8, 2010

Progressive Field

 My trip to Progressive Field...a trip that never happened?

I flew into Cleveland on Thursday after having a great two-day trip up in Minneapolis.  Another HUGE thank you to Will Beatson, a great friend/colleague from the Yankees, and his step-brother for getting make my best seat so far in Progressive Field.  Instead of getting a pie from Royer's Cafe in Round Top, I think Will might just be getting a bat from the Louisville Slugger Museum on Monday.

Well, now I must describe to you my vanishing act in Cleveland.  Pretty impressive, if you ask me.

Location:  Progressive Field is in downtown Cleveland, and I mean, RIGHT as you enter downtown Cleveland on 9th Street.  Upon my arrival, I rented my second car of the trip with the anticipation that this was gonna be an expensive five-day necessity.  It was imperative I rent a car in Cleveland because Cincinnati is so damn hard to get to via airplane.

So I drove to my hotel and walked the mile to Progressive Field.  I stopped at a patio on the way to get adjusted to all of the Cavs gear downtown (and when I say Cavs gear, I mean there were virtually no people in Indians gear...the Cavs played that night in Boston).  Their downtown had some surprisingly great architecture, I think Cleveland is a pre-1800s city, and wasn't as bad as I was expecting.  The walk wasn't bad and I never felt like I needed to take a cab home.

Ballpark:  The ballpark reminded me a lot of Busch Stadium - a solid park, but it didn't blow me out of the water.  It was built in 1994, kind of a weird era for new stadiums, and was known as Jacobs Field when it was built.  Progressive Insurance - the company that has Flo as its spokeswoman - purchased the rights in 2008.  The park was built with funds from a 15-year sin tax on alcohol and cigarettes.  Now that I think about it, I'm going to do a project at the end of my trip to see how all of these parks were financed.  I remember in Kansas City they decided to tax everything instead of just booze and stogies, but it would be an interesting little study.

I did have a GREAT seat, though, about 8 rows up right behind home plate. The view from behind home plate is pretty, but walking around the park, there just wasn't that much else to do.  Really. I walked around the whole thing and except your typical brats, hamburgers, pizza and ballpark food, there weren't any other amenities that made it unique from any other.

Food:  I probably had the best bratwurst I've had so far on the trip, but that was it.  They had chicken sandwiches, though!  They also had the most aggressive salesmen and women I have seen yet.  Very rarely have I been asked to add something to my order, but both times I went to the concessionary there, they pushed it pretty hard.

The SCPI at Progressive was $10.75 - $3 for a hot dog and $7.75 for the large draft - but you could get an all-beef hot dog for $4.25 that seemed to be the bigger seller.

Game: ...or no game?  I told you my trip here was a vanishing act. I have pictures to prove I was there, but the game ended up being played Saturday while I was driving from Cleveland to Cincinnati.  The Tigers were completely killing the Indians young pitcher, David Huff, who left the game after 1.2 innings and 6 runs.  Then the Indians took it to Jeremy Bonderman, who didn't make it out of the 3rd before surrendering 5 runs to tighten the game.  It was at this point the skies started to darken, and I began to think my honeymoon baseball game listening to MLB scouts discuss the players on the field would be rained out.  I started smelling rain around the end of the 4th and hightailed it out of there.  It started POURING rain right when I got back to my hotel, saving my brand new camera some extensive water damage.

When I got up to my hotel room I got on my computer to check the score only to find that the game was in a delay, and would soon be canceled.  Yes, they canceled the game.  Any game that doesn't make it 5 innings is erased, along with any stats, so Huff and Bonderman walked away just having thrown batting practice to the opposing players.

I saw the stadium, which is what I'm doing on this tour, so I'm not that upset that I missed the game.  I DO have a ticket stub for a game that never happened, though, but I'm OK with that.

Behind the plate during the game. Lady's head is in the foreground because I was nervous around the scouts.

Summary: Solid looking park, but no pizazz or flare.  I blame it mostly on the year it was built than anything else.  Parks built and planned towards the end of the 90s and beginning of the 00s took bigger risks, made things more extravagant, and generally just pushed the envelope.  Progressive Field was planned and built before this era, and because of that, it suffers.

Location: 7
Ballpark: 7
Food: 6
Game: 0...kidding...6
Overall: 7

Record: 8-4 with one rainout
Giveaways: Still 2
Major League references because I was seeing the Indians: 0. Really disappointed in myself.

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