2007 Pittsburgh & Cleveland
Coming in July
It was a glorious Sunday afternoon in the Valley of the Sun. It's early in the season and Phoenix has not hit triple-digit temperatures. In fact, it was a very pleasant 77 degrees. Baseball designated April 15, 2007 as Jackie Robinson Day and many players wore the retired "42" to honor the man who broke baseball's color barrier.
Chase Field, formerly Bank One Ballpark (BOB) is a nice, retractable roof modern stadium, a bit reminiscent of Milwaukee's Miller Park. Disappointing was the attendance of less than 22,000, considering it was a) Sunday, b) Jackie Robinson Day, and c) the D'backs were in first place. Did you know that they have $5 seats in the upper deck left field foul pole section? That's $405 for season tickets! You'd think attendance would be better, especially with Randy Johnson and having recently won the World Series.
The home team beat the Rockies 6-4, a rare sight for these pilgrims. Byung Hyun Kim is his usual flammable self. Helton homes, and good guy Tony Clark blasts two no-doubters into the bleachers. Valverde picks up his sixth save in their first 13 games. The local fans celebrated by reminding us we were in the "Grand Canyon State."
Every pilgrimage includes a side trip. This time, we stop by the Tree & Ron Wedding. The after parties feature moments with Heather the cellphone loser and Drunken Jen, who not only bears a resemblance to Penelope Cruz, but also hates being called Drunken Jen. Fascinating.
Located in Denver's Lower Downtown (LoDo), Coors Field is a nice, modern park that serves Rocky Mountain Oysters. Did we? You betcha!
We sit in a swank section behind home plate and foul balls come our way often. Razzy Burst catches one and sells it to a drunk guy for $1.6 million dollars. In true pilgrimage tradition, the local nine loses to the Padres [5-2].
Of course, we tour the Coors Brewery in Golden, CO. After the tour, there is a free tasting. With all due respect, Adolf, Coors beer pretty much sucks.
After the game, we walk around and check out the LoDo scene. Oh yes, there is much lurking going on.
2005 Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC
2004 San Diego, Los Angeles, Anaheim
The Western Metal Supply Company Building incorporated into PETCO park seems a bit contrived, but overall, it's a pleasant ballyard. We meet up with Mark's friend Jen and her friend in the Gaslamp District, and learned that a cat is an "indoor animal." Who knew? Indoor Animals, Dodger Dogs and Rally Monkeys, oh my!
The Marlins clobber the Padres 8-2. Beckett drills Loretta, one of Tony's best players that year. Down goes Loretta!
Atlanta pummels the Dodgers 10-1 in a battle between division leaders. Jaret Wright (remember him?) dominates the bums while Giles, Drew, Franco and Marrero each had three hits.
The lovely Julie hangs with us at Chavez Ravine. Later, she and Andrea join us for dinner at C&O Trattoria in Venice Beach where some heavy discussions go down. "That's Amore" plays and the Gay Tarantella is born.
We spend the day at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Perhaps it is our bias against all things SoCal, or having been to the Art Institute of Chicago, we are underwhelmed. We did have fun filming a re-enactment of The Play.
The Royals saves us from experiencing a third consecutive home blowout loss. The Angels, behind Bartolo Colon, embarrasses KC 9-4. I honestly don't know how the score is this close, as the Royals can not hit, pitch nor field. Seriously, it is like a team of Marvin Benards. Of the starters, five are no longer active and the other four are Dejesus, Stairs, Buck and Berroa.
Finally, we walk around Downtown Disney. Gomez and Brian dance a little jig earning Brian the nickname "Sir Dance-A-Lot."
2003 Jonas and Ron make a road trip
In July, 2003, Jonas and Ron took to the road to embark upon what remains to date the most ambitious of the Pulled Pork Park Pilgrimmages. We invite you to look over the original web log created by this duo while on the road.
2002 Chicago, Milwaukee, Chicago again
Ah, the Windy City. The Land of Broad Shoulders. The Second City. Mmm... mezcal margaritas...
We visit Wrigley Field for a Thursday day game. The Friendly Confines, the Ivy, the Curse of the Billy Goat, the rooftop seats across Waveland Avenue, this just may be Baseball Mecca. The Phillies and Cubs are both in fifth place in their respective divisions, double digit games behind the leaders. The Loveable Losers, behind a strong outing by Carlos Zambrano, are actually ahead 2-1 going into the eighth inning, when the proverbial wheels fall off. This time the culprit isn't Juan Cruz, who's already blown many a game started by Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Matt Clement and Zambrano this year. He will finish with a 3-11 record, while only starting nine games. It's battery mates Kyle Farnsworth and Todd Hundley who preserve the loss by allowing four runs in a brutal eighth inning, including allowing a run to score on a strikeout! The Phillies win 6-2. We seem more upset than the folks around us. Either we didn't drink enough Old Style and Special Export, or the Cubs fans accept losing a bit better. At least, we get a Dave Kingman baseball card.
We have dinner at Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill/Topolobampo. Is it one restaurant with two names, or two restaurants connected together? I don't know, but the food is awesome. Among the dishes we ordered is duck with habanero dipping sauce. And yes, the mezcal margaritas are good and potent.
The next day, we drive up interstate 94 to Milwaukee. What do we see at the state border? A bunch of adult book/video stores! I can't remeber whether the Illinois or Wisconsin side had the stores, but I do recall the parking lots were pretty full. We tour the Miller Brewing Company where we learn that fortunately for Milwaukee, the Great Fire of Chicago destroyed that city's breweries. Hey, their loss is our gain! MGD ice cold isn't too bad, and we also taste some of their premium drinks like Zima and Baccardi. We also send the President some free postcards.
We serendipitously happen upon German Fest. Bratwursts, beer, sauerbraten, more beer, the German ambassador calling the state "Michigan," more beer, multiple verses of "America the Beautiful," the Glockenspiel, more beer, lederhosen, funny hats, cheeses, and more beer.
Alas, the Pabst Blue Ribbon facility was closed. Long live PBR.
The Brewers rout the Rockies 10-3. Richie Sexson and Todd Helton hit homers. Miller Park is nice, though not considered cozy like PacBell. Bernie the Brewer going down the slide is fun, as are the sausage race and the singing of "Roll out the Barrel." Of course, Bob Uecker is calling the game and we get a glimpse of him in the booth from our seats. We each go home with a nice (for a freebie) Brewers baseball cap.
We hit the Art Institute of Chicago. Impressive collection. I can spend a few days at that museum. We then drive to New Comiskey and witness the White Sox dismantle the Royals 9-1. Now, this isn't a terrible KC team with Beltran, Randa, Ibanez and Tucker in the lineup. However, Chicago has Carlos Lee, Ordonez, Konerko and Thomas in the heart of the order. Lee and Magglio bang three hits apiece, with Mags sending two out of the yard, justifying Brian's mancrush. He wasn't alone as we are surrounded by women who are huge fans of Mag-lee-oh. Yes, huge fans, i say.
Ichiro! Tyler Jones! Pike Place Market!