Thursday, September 13, 2018

Miami Marlins 0 at New York Mets 13 - September 12, 2018


Whenever a game was rained out in New York and rescheduled as part of a single admission doubleheader, I immediately planned on attending, particularly since tickets become very cheap. With the family addition though, 8 hours at the ballpark is no longer an option on most days, but the cheap tickets are still worth it for one of the games. Such was the case on Wednesday, after Monday's tilt between the Mets and Marlins was postponed. They avoided the doubleheader on September 11, likely because the weather at that time looked like it would continue through Tuesday. Instead, it cleared up and they played a single game that night, but the rain returned on Wednesday, which sent the price of tickets for the DH down even further.

The first game was scheduled for 4:10, which was not possible for me with family commitments, so I planned to attend the second game, expected to begin around 7:15. Still, I had to get my ticket around 4:00 as StubHub usually stops sales when the first game starts, so I bought a ticket in the Delta Club for $15 plus fees, the cheapest I have ever seen for that location (view below).  Even though a light rain was falling, I expected them to start the first game on time. But for some reason, the tarp was put on the field and there it stayed. And stayed. And stayed. I was following along at home, and the Mets released no news about a start time. Friends who were in the stadium were frustrated with the lack of information, particularly as they could have played in that weather. Moreover, the Marlins had another game at Citi Field on Thursday, plus they would finish the season there with a three-game set. They could easily have set up another DH on Thursday and another over the final weekend without issue, as both teams are not bound for the playoffs. It made no sense that they would let fans wait so long without a snippet of info when so many other options were available, and many frustrated fans left after 3 or 4 hours of waiting.



Meanwhile, I stayed at home checking Twitter for updates. Finally, at 9:15, the news came through: first pitch would be at 9:45, making it 5:35 rain delay, the third longest in MLB history. I felt for the people who had waited that long for this game, but for me, waiting out the delay at home was perfect. Even though only one game of the scheduled DH would be played, that was enough for me. I raced to the subway station and arrived at Citi Field at 10:00, the latest I have ever entered a sporting event.



I only missed the scoreless first, and stayed until the end as the Mets clobbered the Marlins 13-0 behind a 3-run shot from Amed Rosario and a grand slam from Jay Bruce. Zack Wheeler threw 8 strong innings but was drained after the long delay, despite having thrown only 89 pitches. Paul Sewald closed things out, with the game finishing at 12:15. The Mets certainly rewarded those fans who had stayed until the end, but as you can see above, there weren't many of them.



It is baffling that MLB and the Mets would treat their paying customers so poorly, but I am sure there was a good reason behind it. Fortunately, the Mets will allow those who have a ticket for Wednesday's game to exchange it for a weekday game later in the season or next April. So it is possible that I will end up seeing two games for the price of one after all.

Best,

Sean

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Revisiting the U.S. Open


The U.S. Open tennis tournament has become one of my favourite sporting events, at least when I can afford it. Two years ago, tickets were incredibly cheap on the secondary market, even for the men's and women's finals, and I attended five times. Last year was far more expensive and I didn't go once, while this year had enough cheap (and free) days that I again went five times: once for qualifying and then four times during the tournament proper.



Despite visiting so often, I saw few matches start to finish, with matches taking quite long and access to courts limited due to the large number of fans in attendance. I went on the first Thursday hoping to see Naomi Osaka (the eventual champion, but more on that later), but she dominated her match against Julia Glushko so completely that it was long finished before I arrived. The following match between bad boy Nick Kyrgios and Pierre-Hugues Hebert made news for the umpire leaving his chair to encourage Kyrgios, and I reached Court 17 just as that was finishing up. This allowed me to move into the second row for the following match between Canadian Eugenie Bouchard take on Marketa Vondrousova from Czechia. They appeared wearing identical outfits (above) as both are sponsored by Nike, who seem to have limited clothing options for unseeded players. This fashion faux pas resulted in some snickering from the crowd, but did not bother Vondrousova, who beat Genie (below) 6-4, 6-3.



I spent the next couple of hours wandering from court to court, checking out the Grandstand where 17th-seed Lucas Pouille was battling Marcos Baghdatis (serving below). I watched the third set which Pouille won to take a 2-1 lead. Then the new extreme heat rules kicked in - the players got a 10-minute break and retreated to the dressing room to cool down.



Rather than sit around baking on the metal benches, I decided to head over to the newly rebuilt Louis Armstrong court to watch 21st-seed Kei Nishikori against Gael Monfils, the opening match of the night session. The upper deck here is open to all, and I wanted to arrive early to get a decent seat, finding one along the baseline (view below). The match was quite disappointing as Monfils retired down 6-2, 5-4.



Before leaving, I made one final tour of the grounds, and stopped at Court 5, where 26th-seed Richard Gasquet (below) was facing Laslo Djere. Despite the late hour and rather pedestrian matchup (Gasquet won in straight sets), there were no seats here as you can see in the photo below. This was the main difference from my previous visits, where I found that smaller matches generally were not well attended. Now you better arrive well before the match you want to see if you want to sit in a good location. I also noticed that many of the fans seem to be tourists are not accustomed to tennis etiquette, including a couple of boneheads who walked across a court that was not in use.



The next day I returned with my buddy Andrew, who drove up from Philadelphia. After a stop at Mikkeler in Citi Field, we found someone who got us grounds passes for $50, half of face value. I was really only interested in the match between #5 seed Kevin Anderson and Canadian Denis Shapovalov, seeded 28th. That was the last match on Armstrong for the day session, so with a couple of hours to wait, we went to the grandstand, which was ridiculously crowded for a match between #9 Dominic Thiem and American Taylor Fritz. After watching a couple of games, we made our way over to Court 5, where a women's doubles match was taking place. Second seeds Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic (below) were up against Americans Nicole Gibbs and Sabrina Santamaria. Doubles matches are not as popular as singles, so we were able to get a first row bench near the corner, which is a fantastic angle to watch serves coming in. Babos/Mladenovic won 6-0, 6-2 and as they went to the net for the handshake, sent the balls back in our direction. Andrew picked one up for his kids, a nice souvenir of his trip.



With that done, we went to Armstrong. Along the way, I found a ticket for the lower level that allowed us to sit close for the first couple of sets. Shapovalov (below) won the first set, but lost the next two, after which I had to leave. After forcing a 5th set, the Canadian lost, but he is only 19 and will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.



The following week, I went to see some quarterfinal action at Arthur Ashe Stadium. My wife is a fan of Juan Del Potro (seeded 3rd), so she planned to come later to see his match against John Isner (11th). I went early and watched as defending champion Sloane Stephens (3) was upset by Anastasija Sevastova (19). After that, I again found a ticket on the ground for Armstrong, this one in the front row. Because the Open uses mobile ticketing, fans are handed a seat locator to show to ushers. This is just as important as a hard ticket and so I was able to watch some doubles quarterfinals matches from the front row, including Babos/Mladenovic as they won again on their way to the finals. When my wife arrived, I took over baby duties so did not pay much attention to Del Potro's 4-set victory over Isner.



My final visit was on Thursday, which offered free admission to see all four doubles semifinals. There were wheelchair matches scheduled on Ashe, but due to the extreme heat, they were suspended. This did allow me to get a rare picture of the stadium completely empty.



Below are the seats that regularly go for over $1,000 near the end of the tournament. I hope I can sit here once.



The doubles semifinals were held on Armstrong and despite it being free, few fans were out early. I was hoping to see the Babos/Mladenovic team again, but their match was fourth on the docket. The first match between Lukasz Kubot/Marcelo Melo (7) and Radu Albot/Malek Jaziri took 2:46 with what seemed like an infinite number of deuces, with Kubot/Melo winning to advance to the final. I sat behind the baseline in the shade, which I find a better view as you can see the lines clearly and you don't have to move your head back and forth on every shot.



I stayed for the next match, which featured Wimbledon champs Mike Bryan and Jack Sock (3) against #5 Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah. This was a lot of fun to watch, and when Sock blew a chance at a match point, a third set resulted, extending the match by another 40 minutes. The Americans won that to advance but the entire match took over 2 hours. That's five hours for just two matches, and enough for me. Rather than stay for the women's matches, I headed home with enough tennis to keep me satisfied for another year.

The Controversy

A quick word on the Serena Williams controversy. Having lived in Japan, I pay attention to Japanese players and knew about Naomi Osaka from a couple of years ago. So I was excited to see her in the final. Unfortunately, her win was overshadowed by mistakes made by three people: Serena, her coach, and the umpire.

Mistake one was the coach signaling to Serena, for which the umpire rightly issued a code violation. Serena missed the point about cheating; the rule does not consider whether the player saw the signal, just whether it was made. Tennis should consider punishing the coach by ejecting him from the venue rather than the player for something she did not do. Anyway, that code violation upset Serena, who had been thoroughly outplayed in the first set, and when she double-faulted in the second set, she smashed her racket. This was mistake two and earned Serena a second violation, which is a point penalty. This set her off even more and, unable to control herself, she called the umpire a thief and a liar during a changeover, down 4-3.

This is where the umpire should have let it slide (mistake three). With Osaka leading and Serena clearly off her game, he should have realized that a third code violation and the resulting game penalty would be the dominant story, rather than Osaka's incredible play. Instead, he issued the violation and after a lengthy delay during which Serena talked to tournament officials, Serena served down 5-3 without Osaka serving. Although Serena held, Osaka served out the match and won her first Grand Slam championship. The trophy presentation was marred by boos from the fans and tears from the players.

I don't know if it was sexism on the part of the umpire or not, but it was poor judgment on the part of all three participants that marred the first Grand Slam title by a Japanese. I hope tennis is able to change some of the rules and give the umpires some leeway so a similar incident does not happen again.

Best,

Sean

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

New England Revolution 0 at D.C. United 2 - August 19, 2018


Earlier this year, I was looking at various schedules and noticed that Washington had an intriguing doubleheader on Sunday, August 19. The Nationals were hosting the Marlins at 1:05 while D.C. United would take on New England in the evening in their new stadium, Audi Field, just a couple of minutes away. Amtrak was running specials at $39 one-way from NYC, so I booked the family for an extended trip. In the end, I went to the Nationals on Friday night to see Max Scherzer pitch and spent Sunday afternoon touring, but still had plenty of time to make it to Buzzard Point, site of the newest venue in the Big 5. Although the MLS season began in March



I took the Green Line to Waterfront-SEU from which the stadium is a 10-minute walk through a leafy residential area. I arrived at the corner of 2nd and R, where the photo above was taken. Gate C is here and you can walk in if you already have your mobile ticket, which is pretty much your only option. Yes, this is another venue that has ignored those of us who like hard tickets, forcing you to print a flimsy piece of paper or use your phone, with no will call option available.



I wanted a hard ticket and had been watching prices online during the day. The cheapest seat was $25, but when I went to the box office at the corner of R and First, I was told the least I could spend was $33. That is too much to sit in the end zone, so I decided to purchase a resale ticket on my phone for $36, which got me the view below. In the end, I could have gotten the hard ticket and sat in the same seat, as ushers were not checking tickets, instead asking if fans knew where they were going. Fellow sports travellers Bob and Gary were coincidentally sitting just one section over and one row down, so we spent some time chatting before the game.



Before that however, I did a quick tour. The stadium has some of the steepest seats I have seen, particularly in the south stands where the team name is imprinted.



It isn't as bad to walk up as I expected, and certainly not as dangerous as in some other indoor venues where there is little lighting. Tickets here start at $22 for the upper rows.



From the top, it certainly looks steeper than usual. The good news is that you won't get someone blocking your view.



The east side is divided into two levels. The lower level, in red, is a club and suite level, while the grey seats above (Sections 101-111) are open to the general public. I was in section 104 near the other end. One thing I didn't like is how few rows are right next to the pitch and how far away the other seats are. Soccer can be a very intense game when you are next to the action, and atmosphere does impact the home team. It will be interesting to see if there is any long-term effect on the club's home performance, or if other teams opening new venues copy this design.



The west side is a single level with tickets starting at $62, and this would be the best place to sit if you can get a cheap ticket. Just to the right is the beginning of the corner seats, which are $55.



To the right of those are two supporter sections, just beneath the scoreboard. There has been some controversy over how some supporter groups were treated in the allocation of tickets and it is interesting to see how politics and sports mix in this situation. No doubt the club wants a family-friendly atmosphere but upsetting your long-time fans is not the best way to achieve this. The atmosphere was still decent but I suspect could even be more impressive if all three supporters groups were out in full force.



The seats along both sidelines are well covered in case of inclement weather, but those in both end zones are not.



A view of the field from the top of the south stand.




One of the most intriguing spots is the Heineken rooftop bar, to the right of the scoreboard in the photo above.



It contains a number of rail seats with a social area behind. Before the game, this spot is quite busy but once the game starts, only those with seats remain. If you want to sit here, I think you need to be one of the first in the door, race up the stairs, and grab a seat. If I ever return, I will try that. The view from the rooftop bar is below. 



As the game was set for a 7:55 kickoff, sun was not an issue. There was even a nice sunset in the west before the game got underway that my crappy phone camera was unable to capture.



Overall, Audi Field is a good addition to the MLS stadium scene. I appreciate soccer-only venues where the closest seats are just a few feet from the pitch. Having an entire sideline reserved for club seats and mostly away from the pitch is something I hope that other clubs don't emulate in their new venues. Look at the San Francisco 49ers and Levi Stadium for how a cynical approach can hurt the team in the long run. Fortunately for the average fan, there are still plenty of good seats and certainly any sports traveler should be heading to DC to see a United match.

The Game

The Revolution were 7th, a spot ahead of D.C. United in the Eastern Conference, from which 6 teams make the playoffs, so this match was not meaningless. Wayne Rooney, like many European stars wanting a final payday, is playing his final seasons in the MLS. He joined United a few weeks back, and has improved them considerably. That's him in black with orange shoes on the right of the center circle. Yep, I need a camera.



United was dominant immediately and opened the scoring in the 13th minute off a long free kick that Paul Arriola took on the right side of the box. He crossed it in front of about 4 Rev defenders and Luciano Acosta chipped it over Matt Turner. The home team continued to press but could not find another and as the second half progressed, it looked like New England might grab an equalizer. But a second yellow to Scott Caldwell dropped them to 10 men and although they continued to attack, they left their defense prone to a quick counter, and that's exactly what happened in the 89th minute as Junior Moreno sprung Zoltan Stieber who had no trouble beating Turner as D.C. United won 2-0.



That's the home supporters above celebrating the second goal, and below the final score with Stieber's name still on the scoreboard.



An entertaining game and certainly D.C. United might be a dark horse in that Eastern Conference playoff race.

Next Up

The NFL is back, and I'll be checking out the 7 road teams I have yet to see. That means trips to Chicago (for the Seahawks), Indianapolis (for the Texans), Buffalo (for the Titans), and Cincinnati (for the Steelers). The other three teams (Jaguars, Buccaneers, Packers) all play in New York, so I will see them there. Along with two Maple Leaf road games in Detroit and Buffalo, the last part of the year will be busy and I'll be posting recaps here as always.

Best,

Sean

Monday, August 6, 2018

Brooklyn Cyclones 5 at Hudson Valley Renegades 6 (New York-Penn League) - August 5, 2018


Just over a decade ago, I saw a game at Dutchess Stadium in Wappinger Falls, New York, home of the Hudson Valley Renegades. That was part of an extended road trip and I made the drive over from Binghamton on the Fourth of July weekend. I remember that the large crowd combined with a somewhat inaccessible location made the experience unpleasant, and have since not considered a revisit.



Little did I know, however, that Wappinger Falls is just outside of Beacon, a town that is on the Metro-North Railroad. Just 90 minutes from NYC and home to an internationally famous art museum, Beacon is a place I have visited on several occasions without realizing that the ballpark is just over 2 miles away. When I finally discovered that fact, I immediately convinced my wife to take a day trip to combine the museum and the game, which we did on Sunday.



Dutchess Stadium was opened in 1994 and that fact is commemorated with seating capacity set at 4,494. Unlike most minor league ballparks, it has an Astroturf field, which was installed in 2014.



It is located just off Route 9D slightly north of I-84, in a forested area. It is not advisable to walk here, as there are no sidewalks on the road, so you will have to drive and pay the $5 parking charge, quite high for the short-season New York-Penn League. There is a single stoplight at the stadium, which means that getting out after the game can take some time, so consider that when choosing your parking spot.



The ticket booth is to the left of the main entrance and offers 3 main types for walkup fans: a premium box seat at $14 if you want to sit close to the field (green seats in the photo above); a reserved seat for $11 above the walkway (red seats below); and $8 for general admission, which allows you to sit in the bleachers down either the first base or third base line.



The sun sets behind the press box, so getting a seat in the high rows between sections 201-206 is the best way to avoid the sun for a 5:00 start. You might think climate change is a hoax, but I can tell you that it is getting more and more uncomfortable to go to afternoon baseball games in the summer and this was no exception. It was hot and humid, with no breeze to cool you down.



Before entering, check out the two plaques for local Hall of Famers to the right of the ticket office. One honours Eddie Collins, who was born in Millerton, about 40 miles northeast of Wappinger Falls; the other commemorates Falls native Dan Brouthers, who played regularly in the majors from 1879-1896.



The concourse lies behind the seating area and is where you can pick up your food and drink, as well as find a bit of shade. There is a bar here as well where you can actually sit and order beers instead of watching the game. Given the weather, this shady spot was the place to be, although it seems like they need to improve their ID checking, as you can see below.



Just underneath the stands along the first base side is a beer "garden" with good craft beer options. There are plenty of unique concessions here such as the Bourbon BBQ and Grill (sandwiches for $6.75) and a taco stand ($4 each), while 16-oz craft beers go for $7.50. I like the variety, although prices are just a bit high for this level of baseball.



As is the norm these days, there are large group areas down both lines. A picnic spot can be found in left field...



...while the Landshark Grill is in the right field corner and open to the public.



The scoreboard is in left field and is quite impressive for this level, with high-quality replays offered along with player stats.



The team store is small but did have air conditioning, so it was worth stopping in. Even better, the championship trophy, which seems to lack a name, was on display.



The Renegades won the championship in 2017 and New York-Penn League rules allow the defending champion to keep the trophy for the following season. They are the best team in the league so far, so a repeat performance is not out of the question.



Overall, I was happy to revisit Dutchess Stadium again and improve my opinion of the place. Even at this level, one visit is not enough to really appreciate everything, and now that I know how easy it is to get to, I'm sure to be back more often.

The Game

The Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets) were visiting the Renegades (Rays) and got off to a quick start when Chase Chambers (18th, 2018) hit a 2-run shot in the first off of Easton McGee (4th, 2016). Hudson Valley got one back in the bottom half off Cyclone starter Jaison Vilera and it looked like a high-scoring game was in order. But both pitchers settled down for a couple of innings, until the fifth. With Brooklyn up 3-1, Carlos Cortes hit a two-run homer which I missed as I was getting ready for the Pirates and Princess parade. That was the promotional theme and having a little princess of our own, we had to participate in the parade, which was just kids and parents walking around the concourse after the fifth inning. Of course, Hudson Valley made the bottom half last as long as possible, scoring 3 runs and forcing a pitching change. The participants had to stand for about 15 minutes until the inning finished, at which time they paraded around to much applause. That pretty much exhausted our princess, and having to catch a train back to NYC and suffering from the heat, we left shortly thereafter. The game continued 5-4 for Brooklyn until the 9th, when Hudson Valley scored 2, with the winning run coming on a balk, a true walk-off.

Notes

The art museum that is nearby is called Dia Beacon. It is not for everyone as it is dedicated to large-scale pieces (such as holes in the ground, below), but if you are in the area and not cynical about modern art, it is worth a visit.



There are several other sights in the area, including Franklin D. Roosevelt's house in Hyde Park and George Washington's Headquarters in Newburgh should you lean toward attractions with a historical bent.

Best,

Sean

Monday, July 30, 2018

Toronto Blue Jays at Chicago White Sox - July 27-28, 2018


My Toronto on the Road quest continued this past weekend in Chicago as the Jays took on the woeful White Sox. My wife and baby accompanied me on this trip, and the baby saw her first Blue Jays game, which was a lot of fun. But first, a review of Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the White Sox.



Opened in 1991 to replace Comiskey Park, it retained the same name for 12 seasons before the White Sox succumbed to the naming rights craze, after which it became U.S. Cellular Field. The agreement was supposed to last 20 years, but U.S. Cellular exited the Chicago market in 2013, and eventually had to pay $13 million to get out of the contract, with mortgage provider Guaranteed Rate stepping in last year.



Located on the South Side of Chicago, the stadium is easily accessed from downtown on the CTA's Red Line, which has a stop called Sox/35th, from where it is a short walk. The ballpark is actually on the other side of the street from the station exit, but don't bother crossing as the gates are on the same side as the station. Take Gate 5, the first one you reach (there are 7 other gates, including one labeled 3 1/2 for the very expensive Scout Seats). The Chisox Bar and Grill is next to Gate 5 should you arrive early and feel the need for refreshment. Gates at GRF open 90 minutes before first pitch, but the bar opens 3 hours before, giving you some time to relax. One thing that was a bit odd here was that my ticket was scanned before the security check; usually it is the other way around in case you need to return some contraband to your car. Most fans now are familiar with the security rules though, so it didn't seem like much of a concern. Once past security, you can take an escalator or a ramp up to the concourses. I prefer the ramp, as you can see the structure with its arched windows, as well as some banners that show previous incarnations of the Sox logo.



At the bottom of the ramp is a photo collage of Sox successes, including Mark Buehrle's perfect game.



At all levels, there are walkways over the street that lead to the ballpark.



Go to the 500 level first, as there are a few things to see there. Before entering, take a look back at the Chicago skyline.



There is also a Chicago sign in the Sox font that makes for a good photo opportunity.



Look down to see the home plate location of the old Comiskey Park.



Finally, a sign that needs to be removed. There are no ushers preventing those with 500 level tickets from touring the park on the lower level, or just standing and watching the game. Most ballparks, including this one, now allow fans to move freely around, protecting only the best seats, so this sign really has no meaning.



As the stadium was the last major league venue built just before the retro ballpark craze, it resembles the older type of ballpark. There is a single lower bowl that goes from foul pole to foul pole, with suites just above. The 300 club level juts out above these suites, and the 500 level is above this. All seats are forest green, which is a change from the original blue used when the stadium opened.



That is just one of several updates that have been made over the years to try to 'retro'fit the stadium. I last visited in 2006 and it certainly seems to have changed in the meantime.



There is a large concourse that circles the outfield and has quite a bit to see. Right above center field is the CIBC Fan Deck, which comes with an all-inclusive buffet (domestic beers too!) for your $80 ticket. Sometimes the area is booked by a group, but if not, anyone can buy a ticket.



The fan deck is on the right of the picture below. Above left field is the Xfinity Kids Zone.



In front of the fan deck is a series of hedges and you can stand behind them if you want an obstructed view of the game.



Just behind here is a plaque commemorating Jim Thome's homer that hit the fan deck in June 2008. This was quite fitting as Thome was inducted into the Hall of Fame over the weekend.



There are nine statues of past Sox greats located all around the outfield concourse, including Harold Baines...



...Minnie Minoso...



...and Carlton Fisk.



Retired numbers are posted along the railing beneath the upper deck, but there is also a single poster just above the right field entrance to the lower concourse that includes photos of each player along with the numbers. With all that talent, it is surprising that the White Sox have only three World Series to their credit. Guess the 1919 scandal really did curse them.



There are a couple of interesting seating areas behind the fences - one is The Patio, which is reserved for groups, but the other is a new addition known as the Craft Kave (with the K backwards for good measure). Located just behind the right field fence, this area is open to the public. There is a bar with several craft beer selections, and an open-air section that seem to be first-come, first-serve basis, though an additional charge applies.



Overall, Guaranteed Rate Field has really improved since it opened nearly 20 years ago. It will always play second fiddle to Wrigley, but has become a worthy destination in its own right. I didn't see everything due to my limited time here, so I hope to be back to explore further in the near future.

The Games

With the family along for the trip, I decided to limit myself to the two night games on Friday and Saturday. We brought the baby, wearing her Blue Jays onesie, to the first game and managed to stay until the end.



We had aisle seats near the back of a section, which is probably the best place to sit with a baby, as you don't have to bother too many other fans while getting to your seat, and it provides a quick exit should you have a diaper emergency. The view isn't bad either.



By the time we reached our seats, the Blue Jays had a 2-0 thanks to back-to-back homers from Curtis Granderson and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to lead off the game. They tacked on three more in the second, another in the fourth on Gurriel's second homer of the night, and got to double figures with a four-spot in the fifth. With the game well in hand, we walked around the concourse and picked up baby's First Game Certificate at the Rookie Corner. This is a truly professional operation here as the baby's name is typed into a computer and the certificate is printed with the name, date, and opponent, and handed to you in a folder for protection. I'm hoping to get the baby all 30 of these before she's old enough to hate baseball.



The Blue Jays hung on to win 10-5, the first time I had seen them win in Chicago after a loss in their last game at old Comiskey in 1990 and the sweep in Wrigley last year. Nice to see the iconic scoreboard showing the Jays win. Of course, the picture had to be taken before the final out as the scoreboard changes immediately after the game ends, but we did watch until the end.



The next day I returned alone, picking up a ticket outside which had me sitting in the outfield (view above), something I rarely do. After a couple of innings, I moved to the infield, standing at various spots until I found a seat. I was handed a bobblehead of Iron Man upon entering. I had no need for this item, but carried it around throughout the game until about the 7th inning, when a gentleman asked me if I wanted to sell it. I quoted the price of my ticket and he accepted, so in the end I saw the game for free. Which was good, because this was a bad game. The Jays were scheduled to start J.A. Happ, but he was dealt to the Yankees a couple of days before, so they went with reliever John Axford. I feel that trying to get through 9 innings with 6 or 7 relievers is silly because at least one will probably be off his game, and sure enough that is what happened. Axford pitched 3 strong innings, followed by Jake Petricka and Aaron Loup who combined for 2.2 innings yielding just a run. The Toronto offense had tagged Lucas Giolito for 5 runs, but as expected, it wasn't enough. The next three relievers (Clippard, Garcia, Tepera) all pitched like crap, giving up 8 runs in just 1.2 innings as the White Sox came back to win 9-5. Axford and Loup were traded a couple of days later as the Jays officially gave up on the season.

Notes

I still have to see the Jays in Oakland, Washington, and Los Angeles, as well as new venues in Detroit and Seattle. All but Washington should be completed in 2019.

We also spent some time touring the city. One of the more interesting and less visited spots was the Museum of Broadcast Communications. I found out that my near namesake is actually older than I am, but he didn't become nationally famous until after I was born, so my parents still have an excuse.



The camera below was used in the first presidential debate between Kennedy and Nixon in 1960, which took place at the studios of WBBM-TV in Chicago and is widely thought to have influenced the outcome. There is also a video of the two candidates before the debate that is very interesting.



Next Up

I'm taking another family trip in mid-August, this time to Washington, where I will check out the Nationals and D.C. United over a weekend. As always, recaps will be posted here.

Best,

Sean