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View Full Version : Three ballparks in four days


maurice
08-31-2004, 03:11 PM
It was nice seeing three of the newer parks in four days. Good seats were widely available on game day for all three games. Here's a summary.

Thursday, Sox v. Toons

It's a long, boring drive through Northern Indiana and Ohio . . . flat as a gym teacher's chest. Cleveland is a decent place to spend a couple of days. We parked at Tower City Center (http://www.towercitycenter.com/home_noflash.asp) -- a huge shopping complex along the river within walking distance of the Jake -- and walked down to the lakefront through the commercial center after buying good OF tix for $20 each. Downtown Cleveland has a large number of Art Deco skyscapers in pretty good condition and a few buildings with interesting neo-classical design elements. The Rock & Roll HOF (http://www.rockhall.com/) is an impressive structure, designed by the same fellow who did the Louvre expansion with a similar pyramid motif. They recently placed decorated guitar sculpures in front of the HOF building and throughout the downtown area in a spinoff of Chicago's Cows of Parade exhibit. Near the HOF is the USS Cod (http://www.usscod.org/), a decomissioned WWII-era GATO class submarine, open to visitors. We ate dinner al fresco across from the Jake at Alice Cooperstown (http://www.alicecooperstowncleveland.com/), a popular spot for out-of-town fans. Mrs. / Dr. Maurice had the excellent onion rings (for only $2) and a solid quesadilla. I went with the surprisingly small pulled pork sandwich and a nice Great Lakes Locktender Lager (on tap).

Things only got better as the night progressed, as the Sox beat the Toons by a score of two touchdowns to three field goals. The outcome was not unexpected, given the legendary Stewart / Durbin matchup. The six-run first inning was outstanding. The Sox scored four runs before recording a single out, including a monster drive by Carl Everett that sailed over our heads twice . . . first on the way out and second after ricocheting hard off the facing of the OF upper deck. The Cleveland fans were despondent but well-mannered. They've experienced a similar "get your hopes up before being suddenly and swiftly kicked in the nuts" season.

The Jake is a nice venue but shares with the Cell the same sky-high-UD-over-three-levels-of-luxury-suites problem. The wrap-around councourse is less open than the Cell and their post-HR fireworks really suck.

Friday, drive along Lake Erie & the Niagara River to the Falls

Saturday, Cards v. Bucks

I've been a fan of Pennsylvania since my first visit 15+ years ago. Growing up in Chicago, it's a nice change of pace to see rolling hills and moutainous, wooded terrain. The Pittsburgh area has this in spades in addition to the famed three rivers and a populance similar to the South Side of Chicago. Unfortunately, nobody there knows how to drive. Nonetheless, the drive into and out of Pittsburgh was beautiful, especially relative to Indiana. The awful brown color of the rivers limits the city's ability to utilize its waterfront. Nonetheless, there's some boating activity, a riverwalk near PNC, and a state park at the confluence. IMHO, the best attraction was Mt. Washington. We took the Duquesne Incline (http://www.incline.cc/) funicular up from the riverfront and had dinner at the Grandview Saloon (http://www.grandviewsaloon.com/) on their fourth-floor terrace facing downtown Pittsburgh, Heinz Field, PNC, etc. The view of the city was ridiculously nice (see the link), and the food and service were both quite good. I had some provelone sticks, a slightly overgrilled strip steak, and an Iron City Light (on tap). Unfortunately, we didn't have time to visit Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water (http://www.paconserve.org/index-fw1.asp). Maybe next time.

The Bucks played the Cards surprisingly tough, slapping around Matt Morris (2 HR and 4 ER in 6 IP), but were undone again by a torrid Jim Edmonds and company. (Pujols had the night off.) The play of the game was in the bottom of the second, when Larry Walker threw out a runner at the plate, ending a Bucks' rally. The throw beat the runner, Ty Wigginton, by several steps, and he took the opportunity to absolutely destroy Cards' catcher Yadier Molina (basically the opposite of Ross Gload last night). Amazingly, Molina hung onto the ball and stayed in the game, earning the respect of the Pittsburgh crowd. Jason Bay is the local version of Aaron Rowand, enjoying a breakout season at age 25.

PNC Park is an example of a modern ballpark done right. IMHO, it's not terribly differnt than the Cell. They just went the extra mile in many respects. Where the Cell has numerous (now painted) concrete facades and ramps, PNC has limestone and beautiful exposed steel work. Where the Cell turns its back on the city, PNC features views of downtown Pittsburgh and the Roberto Clemente Bridge (http://www.dpchallenge.com/image.php?IMAGE_ID=13536&PHPSESSID=02c9f3268f23a8fe8e44fa4603e39ac5). Also, the variety of beer sold by roaming vendors is far more impressive than Lite / MGD, though you can get that too.

Sunday, D'backs v. Reds

As I mentioned, the drive to Cincy through WV and Southern / Central Ohio was much more scenic than the Northern leg of our journey. In many respects, WV is the polar opposite of Chicago, which makes for a nice vacation experience. I wished we had time to explore WV and Columbus, Ohio, but we had to drive straight through to make the 1:15 p.m. start time. Like Cleveland and Pittsburgh, Cincy is trying to make use of its waterfront, but it remains a work in progress. In addition to the Great American Ballpark, Paul Brown Stadium, several riverboats, and a narrow suspension bridge, the riverfront also features the new National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (http://www.freedomcenter.org/). This one-of-a-kind museum is symbolically located on the riverfront facing Kentucky . . . a freedom museum facing a former slave state. The Contemporary Arts Center (http://www.contemporaryartscenter.org/), a free museum, recently was relocated to an impressive new building downtown. Ohio generally is the home of several major zoos, amusement parks, and water parks, and the Cincinnati area is no exception. IMO, the Kentucky side of the river was disappointing with the exception of a two-block strip of riverfront in Covington.

The game itself was a huge letdown. The Reds and the D'Backs are awful. There was no score through 5 IP, though one starting pitcher entered the game with an 8.74 ERA and the other entered the game with a 5.72 ERA. On the bright side, Adam Dunn hit an opposite-field shot, and Ken Griffy, Sr. was inducted into the Reds HOF before the game.

The ballpark is a less impressive version of PNC. The design is similar, but it lacks the finishing touches apparent at PNC. The scoreboard is huge, but mostly obscured by the UD for everybody in the LF lower bowl. They did, however, have the presence of mind to include a pavillion reminicent of a steamboat near the ugly black building in CF. Like PNC, there is a nice variety of beer sold by roaming vendors, including Amstel Light.

pinwheels3530
08-31-2004, 04:14 PM
I was at the game in Cleveland on Friday & the game in Pittsburgh on Saturday and Sunday. I was really impressed with the Roberto Clemente bridge and Federal St. The whole set up is cool they block off Federal St. so that fans can roam freely and patronize the restaurants and bars that are connected to the park (hhhhmmmm... sound familiar I which the sox would do something like that along 35th st. in between the Dan Ryan and Shields) the ballpark itself is beautiful, the concourse view of the games rivals that of Comiskey. The statues of Pirates legends are great to look at ( the Sox will finally be unveiling theirs one each year over the next five years starting with Minnie ). The Pirates have great tradition but their team really is bad!!

maurice
08-31-2004, 06:03 PM
restaurants and bars that are connected to the park (hhhhmmmm... sound familiar I which the sox would do something like that along 35th st. in between the Dan Ryan and Shields)
I forgot to mention this. Thanks for bringing it up. As I've posted many times, it would be a simple and extremely effective improvement for the Sox to immitate this kind of setup by renovating the Sox offices along 35th St. and turning them into outward-facing storefronts. This rennovation likely would pay for itself (and then some), since the storefronts each would generate either revenue or rent. They also should build the grand entrance building in LF containing additional storefronts and replace the crappy concrete ramps with multi-use structures.

pinwheels3530
08-31-2004, 06:42 PM
I forgot to mention this. Thanks for bringing it up. As I've posted many times, it would be a simple and extremely effective improvement for the Sox to immitate this kind of setup by renovating the Sox offices along 35th St. and turning them into outward-facing storefronts. This rennovation likely would pay for itself (and then some), since the storefronts each would generate either revenue or rent. They also should build the grand entrance building in LF containing additional storefronts and replace the crappy concrete ramps with multi-use structures.
I thought that they were suppose to do this, I heard from several people who worked for the sox that mentioned the exact same plan. The excuses always come up, the mayor and his family don't want to turn it into wrigleyville, JR wants all the $ for himself, the residents don't want it etc.......I think this is what they needed to do with renovation $ it would've great for the sox and their fans.

irishdude1
08-31-2004, 08:22 PM
Man I would love to do that. If I have the money when I get older then my dad and I will go to a bunch of different ballparks. Wrigley, Yankee Stadium, and I really want to visit Atlanta's Stadium. I have heard nothing but great things about that park.

maurice
08-31-2004, 08:49 PM
I thought that they were suppose to do this, I heard from several people who worked for the sox that mentioned the exact same plan.
I think you're right that the plans exist. They just need to stop screwing around and pull the trigger, instead of blowing money on more relatively useless renovations.