Thank you so much for all of your comments on that last post! It's reassuring to know there are others who have either gone through this or feel the same way. Let's figure this all out together. I'll be sharing more details about what I'm studying and considering as time goes on.
But it's Friday, and I'm so terribly excited because these weeks are starting to stretch out longer and longer (although my life will start getting super-busy again next month, so I'm trying not to complain). In celebration of Friday and the fact that my beloved Cardinals are back where they belong in first place of the NL Central, I'd like to share some observations on all the baseball parks the Modern Love Machine and I visited during the two-week road trip.
I think I mentioned this last year after attending the game at U.S. Cellular in which Mark Buehrle threw a perfect game for the White Sox, but I've made it my business to attend a home game of every MLB team. I mean, I went to a game at Tropicana Field in the NINETIES, back when the Rays were the Devil Rays and they didn't know how to play baseball. Heck, I've even been to a Blue Jays game in Toronto, which, if you're from the South, Toronto might as well be in Russia because it's so far away from home.
This trip added two new stadium experiences to my list, bringing me to a total of having witnessed 11 MLB teams at their home stadium and 13 stadiums (I've been to two out of the three incarnations of Busch Stadium and San Fran's Candlestick and AT&T parks).
1. Cinncinati, The Great American Ball Park
I liked Cinncinati's Great American Ball Park the least of the four we visited, but probably for reasons that have nothing to do with the park itself. I mean, it's not horrible. It's settled on the banks of the Ohio River with a view of northern Kentucky -- not that there's really anything to see when looking at northern Kentucky. I was more irritated by the weather that delayed the start of the game by an hour (we were on SERIOUS deadline to get to Milwaukee that night) and the fact that it alternated rain and extremely steamy heat throughout the game. Plus, I could not care less about the Cincinnati Reds or Cleveland Indians, despite the fact that the Reds at the time were ahead of my beloved team.
I guess I'd never experienced a serious weather delay at a ballpark before, because when we saw the sky turning black over right field, I wasn't really sure what we were supposed to do.
Now I know that during severe weather delays you crowd the concourses below the stands and try not to tempt the weather gods into striking you with lightning. You also attempt to Facebook from your iPhone only to find that the other 30,000 fans are doing the same thing, thus rendering your phones useless.
2. Milwaukee, Miller Park
I had never been to Milwaukee's Miller Park, and I have to commend Brewers fans for their commitment to beer and tailgating. Their tailgating commitment rivals that of Southern college football fans. The MLM and I joined two friends in Milwaukee and had a proper tailgate, which was cut fairly short because of afternoon naps and a need to assemble the tailgaiting grill. Still it was glorious.
I really enjoyed Miller Park, possibly because I was overstimulated with things to look at inside. I happen to love the coziness enclosed ballparks, and if I remember correctly, the game that was going on between the Brewers and the Houston Astros was one of the better of the four games we saw.
I was most excited about the Sausage Races. Unfortunately, my companions decided to place their dollar bets on which sausage would when while I was in the restroom, so I was stuck with a choice of Chorizo or Italian Sausage. I chose Chorizo because of his cute sombrero. I should have gone on taste and chosen Italian Sausage, because of course he won.
The MLM chose the Brat, who I believe is not in this photo because he was busy tripping somewhere behind home plate. Yes, Mr. Brat came in dead last.
3. Chicago, Wrigley Field
Either it's ridiculously hot or ridiculously cold every time I go to Wrigley, so you'd think I would plan accordingly. Nope, I wore shorts and a T-shirt when we went to watch the Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates, and my teeth chattered until I broke down and bought a long-sleeved T-shirt that neither mentioned the Cubs nor was blue (it was brown and said Wrigley Field and eventually became a gift for the Modern Mom). But it's hard to argue with the beautifully blue sky.
As much as I hate the Cubs, Wrigley is a wonderful place to see a ballgame. I love the minimal commercialization there (though hate the constant ads for Six Flags on the monitors -- serously, get a new theme song, Six Flags!) I had mixed feelings about the scoreboard this time, though. I love watching for the numbers to change in hopes of seeing one of the dudes that man the scoreboard, but missed out on all the stats and details that you glean at parks with honking huge videoboards.
I did not actively root against the Cubs, although I didn't need to as they managed to beat themselves against the worst team in the National League.
4. St. Louis, Busch Stadium
Busch is clearly my own personal promised land.
Though I miss the old cookie-cutter Busch Stadium, I think new Busch does it best among the new old-timey parks like Great American or Atlanta's Turner Field. Downtown St. Louis provides such an awesome setting, especially with the Arch in the background.
The Cardinals obliged by winning the night that we were there, so that added to the beauty. I will bitch about one thing though, Cardinals: your concession prices were the most ridiculous of any along our trip. The logistics of transporting beer from the Anheuser-Busch brewery a few blocks away from Busch Stadium cannot be so difficult that you're required to charge $8 for a Bud Light.