Grasping for straws that stir the drink.

Month: June, 2012

Day 4: The 2012 MLB Road Trip

Philadelphia — The streak of competitive games and blistering heat ended abruptly at four Friday night.

The Tampa Bay rays and Philadelphia Phillies were rained out, but not after a nearly three-hour postponement where the Phillies organization raked in hundreds of thousands in concession money (from myself included, who tried the signature dog). The rainout was a true shame, especially for Philly pitcher Cliff Lee, who will have to wait even longer to try for his first victory of the season.


Citizens Bank Park, which is nestled in near Lincoln Financial Field (Eagles) and Wells Fargo Center (Flyers, 76ers) in the city of brotherly love, may be the second best baseball stadium so far on the trip.

The nine-year-old stadium has plenty for both baseball and casual fans alike (see pic) — similar to Comerica Park — and plenty of seats to fill. In fact, among stadiums with 40,000 or more seats, Citizens Bank Park has the longest active sellout streak at more than 230 games.


Observations from Day 4:

Bars: Not five minutes after umpires postponed the game, the rain stopped and didn’t return for the rest of the night, which still left plenty of time to explore Old City Philadelphia, near the Delaware River. It’s a little rough around the edges and has plenty of dive bars. There’s even Mac’s Old Tavern, owned by “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” stars Rob and Kaitlin McElhenney (Mac and Dee).

Traffic: Sucks.

Parking: The most expensive lot near the stadium charged $20, but most charged $15. Some of the lowest rates I’ve seen.

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Day 3: The 2012 MLB Road Trip

Washington — Remember the heat from New York on Wednesday? It followed us to the nation’s capital on Thursday, getting as hot as 107 degrees, according to the oft-referenced Chevrolet Cruze.

Luckily, the Tampa Bay-Washington game got started after 7 p.m., giving us some relief from the heat, which clearly played some role with both starters, Matt Moore for the Rays and Gio Gonzalez for the Nationals.


The interesting — and immediate — observation about Nationals fans is that they not only filled out most of the ballpark — moreso than the Yankees and Mets a day earlier — but that they also provided a fun, lighthearted gametime atmosphere.

(And they’re knowledgeable: a group in right field on multiple occasions heckled Tampa Bay reliever Jose Peralta with chants of “pine tar” after his embarrassing on-field glove faux pas earlier in the week.)

Observations from Thursday:

Twitter: The Nationals list Twitter handles on the scoreboard below player stats. Not sure how many teams do this, but all should.

Georgetown University: The surrounding areas make for great night life, including Martin’s Tavern, the bar where John F. Kennedy proposed to Jackie and has served every U.S. president since Harry Truman, except for President Barack Obama. (Times running out Barack!)

District of Columbia: Yes, Nationals Park is the first LEED-certified green major professional sports stadium in the country, but there’s a lot happening in the surrounding blocks of Southeast DC. Outside a parking structure sat an entire block of new construction. Not much is happening in the legislature, but the district is flourishing in many areas.


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Day 2: The 2012 MLB Road Trip

New York — Wednesday I commented on the uncomfortable nature of sleeping in the back of a Chevrolet Cruze.

Turns out falling asleep on a New York subway at 1:30 a.m. and missing your stop is on par with — and probably tops — sleeping in the back of a compact car.

The public transit experience, however, still falls short of another awkward moment: visiting Yankee Stadium.


I know, I know, it’s not the Yankee Stadium, but a near replica, but still, the atmosphere and ballpark ambience disappointed during a Wednesday afternoon interleague matchup with the Atlanta Braves.

Yes, Yankee Stadium is a standout piece of architecture. But it paled in comparison to Fenway Park a night prior, and, dare I say it, even Comerica Park and its homey feel.

In fact, I was more impressed with Citi Field Wednesday evening, despite a disappointing crowd.


There’s more ballpark impressions to come, but for now, here are Day 2’s top moments:

New York: Here’s New York in a nutshell. Taking the subway, it took about an hour to get from Yankee Stadium to Citi Field. That’s 10 miles in one hour (and for those math deficient, a 10-miles-per-hour average). The $2.50-cent-per-slice greasy New York pizza, however, made up for the three combined hours (mostly standing) on the subway.

The heat: It was 100-plus degrees at Yankee Stadium and 94 degrees at first pitch for the nightcap at Citi Field, marking two of the hottest games in New York history.

The homers: There were 10 of them Wednesday, including nine in the Yankees/Braves contest. It was also the first time in modern Yankees history that two pitchers (Phil Hughes and Tommy Hanson) each gave up four or more home runs in one game.

The subway: Did I mention the heat? And the late-night ride from Times Square in a car without air conditioning? Followed by a 10-minute-too-long nap that ended a few miles from the George Washington Bridge? Followed by not one, but two separate $40 cab rides back to New Jersey? If there was a college course on public transportation, I would have definitely failed.

The Detroit Lions: A Queens, New York-born Seattle Seahawks fan (yes, I know, he could have picked the Giants or Jets, but instead chose the Seahawks) made conversation on the subway trip to Citi Field and raved about Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Lions’ chances of making the postseason this year. Turns out the rest of the nation may be higher on the Lions’ chances than actual Detroit football fans. (In addition, a shout out goes to fellow Detroit News reporter Eric Lacy, who had his one-on-one with Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham referenced on the same subway ride.)

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Day 1: The 2012 MLB Road Trip

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Boston — As bad as a nearly uninterrupted 14 1/2 hour car ride sounds, it’s only as long as you stay awake.

And despite the terrific gas mileage and spacious interior, the Chevrolet Cruze is not the comfortable vehicle in which to sleep.

Today’s video: Alfredo Acevas strikes out Hanley Ramirez to cap Boston’s Tuesday night victory over Miami.

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Highlights of Day 1:

Sam Adams Brewery: Simple rundown of how America’s No. 1 craft brew is created. Had the opportunity to sample Boston Red Brick, an Irish Red Ale.

Downtown Boston: Where the locals walk fast and as if they are constantly blindfolded. Active afternoon crowd, epically at Boston Commons, the nation’s oldest public park.


The Atlantic Ocean: Slept for a good 45 minutes without a towel and woke up with a mouthful of sand. Not bad for weather that didn’t top 80 degrees.

Fenway Park: Accessibility was phenomenal (unlike the strict security at Comerica Park). Was able to see from almost every angle of the ballpark. Not a whole lot of extras to view inside the stadium, but the weekend atmosphere on a Tuesday night more than made up for it.


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The 2012 MLB Road Trip

Detroit — It’s one thing to visit Fenway Park. It’s another to visit Yankee Stadium.

A seven-stadium, six-day baseball trip begins at Fenway Park June 19.

It’s a whole different ball game to visit both — and five other stadiums in a six-day stretch.

But if you think watching seven baseball games at seven unique venues couldn’t get better, you may want to reconsider. Split among four baseball fans:

The tickets cost $112 a person.

The hotels, just about the same.

Gas will run somewhere around $50.

In the perfect mix of sports and business, it won’t just be a memorable trip — it’ll also be frugal.

And oh yeah, there will be seven above-average ball games:

June 19: Miami Marlins at Boston Red Sox

June 20: Atlanta Braves at New York Yankees

June 20: Baltimore Orioles at New York Mets

June 21: Tampa Bay Rays at Washington Nationals

June 22: Tampa Bay Rays at Philadelphia Phillies

June 23: Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles

June 24: Detroit Tigers at Pittsburgh Pirates

Follow the nearly 2,000-mile trip — which will undoubtedly include tourist traps, incredible food and the best brews — right here. Pictures, video, commentary will be posted daily. The fun starts June 19.

Follow Karl Henkel on Twitter, friend him on Facebook.