Archive for the ‘MLB’ Category

A Sudden Glut of Baseball

After a quiet early portion of baseball season, bereft of games, things dramatically shifted. In the last week, I’ve checked out the Pirates’ gorgeous PNC Park, and caught a Single-A doubleheader, seeing both the Hagerstown Suns and Frederick Keys today.

What does this all mean?

I need to write!

I have a full write-up on PNC Park (and by extension, Pittsburgh) in the hopper, and I’ll get rolling on reviews of Municipal Park (Hagerstown Suns) and Neymo Field at Harry Grove Stadium (Frederick Keys) in the coming days.

All in all, it’s been a great week of traveling through Pennsylvania and Maryland, getting a chance to traverse a few mountains, check out a Civil War battlefield, and most of all, see a few ballgames!

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To PNC Park We Go!

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PNC Park seems to always find itself near the top in annual lists of ballpark rankings. Even on television, you can see why. The home of the Pirates is an intimate park, nestled along the banks of the Allegheny River, with stunning views of downtown Pittsburgh. Aside from AT&T Park in San Francisco, few modern parks receive the rave views bestowed upon PNC.

After putting PNC near the top of my “must-see” lists, I’m beyond excited to trek to Pittsburgh over Memorial Day weekend for a game. Aside from a slew of Nationals games last year (including a game against the Braves where the heat index swelled to 115 degrees), I failed in my quest to get to a second MLB park. In an effort to remedy that, I’m taking advantage of the long weekend to see what Pittsburgh has to offer. .

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New adventures on tap for 2016

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After nearly 2 decades in Atlanta, this will be my new home ballpark. *Gulp*

Last year was filled was unfulfilled promises and plenty of false starts. Baseball took a backseat to finishing graduate school, largely unsuccessful attempts to find gainful employment in an economy that doesn’t value people with liberal arts degrees (I have only myself to blame), and a strange purgatory where I found myself in a place where most things in life seemed to stall.

However, in recent weeks, the finishing touches on a move to the Washington D.C. area were put in motion. Not only will this provide me with real, quality job opportunities, but it also puts me dangerously close to the majority of the AL and NL East, as well as a plethora of minor league teams at all levels of play. To say I’m excited is an understatement. So, after an underwhelming few years, which found me wallowing around the south, seeing a game or two at a minor league park in Florida, Georgia, or Alabama, I will now have relatively easy access to six major league teams, and more minor league teams than I can count.

What does this mean?

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New 2015 All Star Game caps are amazing

Behold, the greatest caps in All Star Game history.

Behold, the greatest caps in All Star Game history.

UPDATE II: Turns out the caps are a hoax. Oh well. Hopefully we get something cool for this year’s Midsummer Classic!

UPDATE: Well, good ole Paul Lukas from Uni-Watch has done some digging and apparently players are NOT wearing the pillbox hats during the ASG. Such a shame. Once I know what the pillbox hats are for, I’ll post an update.

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Sunshine State Baseball Part II: Miami Marlins

A look at Marlins Park from our seats in left field

A look at Marlins Park from our seats in right field

To say I was skeptical of our visit to Miami is probably a gross understatement. After all, Miami was home to the Marlins, a team best known for somehow managing to win two World Series titles during their 20 year history, only to blow up the championship teams, spending most of their existence woefully behind their NL East opponents. Adding to the skepticism was the Marlins 2012 rebranding and move to Marlins Park–an actual baseball field–as opposed to their previous home of Pro Player Stadium, Joe Robbie Stadium, Dolphins Park, or whatever the name du jour was for that particular year.

Marlins Park is the source of quite a bit of controversy, and for good reason. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria wanted to keep his team in South Florida and pledged to move the team into Miami proper. Some doubted that baseball could actually flourish and after nearly 20 years of sparsely attended games, no one would blame the Marlins for heading west to Las Vegas or north to Charlotte, North Carolina. Instead–much to the chagrin of Miami taxpayers–Loria got his wish and a big taxpayer funded stadium was built on the site of the old Orange Bowl in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana district.

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Batter up: 2014

Look out, Marlins, we're coming!

Look out, Marlins, we’re coming!

Baseball season is well underway, and after a silent 2013 that unfortunately featured no visits to new ballparks, RFTHT is back in 2014 and we’re excited to be visiting the Daytona Cubs and Miami Marlins in early May. Aside from both being in Florida, there couldn’t be fewer similarities between the two teams and their parks. Like the Chicago Cubs, Daytona plays in a ballpark that hits the century mark this year. Renamed Jackie Robinson Ballpark, the Cubs’ home is quite significant, as it is home to the first place Jackie Robinson played an MLB game (spring training 1946).

The Marlins meanwhile, play in owner Jeffrey Loria’s gaudy palace to South Florida overindulgence. Whether it’s the sculpture beyond the center field wall that looks like something out of a 1980s-Miami acid trip, the nightclub, or the fish tanks behind home plate, Loria spared no expense with his new stadium when it opened in 2012. We’re all quite excited to see this ode to gluttony that houses the Florida Miami Marlins.

If you’re interested in following our adventures in real time, check us out on Facebook or Twitter. Also, I’ll try to post a picture or two on Instagram, so feel free to follow us on any of those three formats.

 

Stay tuned for updates!

Henry Aaron remains the king

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An unsuspecting man from Mobile, Alabama, with a quiet demeanor, and one hell of a quick swing broke Babe Ruth’s vaunted home run record on this date 40 years ago. April 8, 1974 is a date forever etched into the minds of baseball fans, whether they were alive or not. I wasn’t around when Hank smashed a 2-run home run off the Dodgers’ Al Downing in the fourth inning, but I’ll never be able to shake the image. It’s a glorious moment for baseball, and a man we all strive to be. Unlike more recent home run hitters, Aaron was a man–and still is–a man of few words, who played the game right, and despite the endless hate mail and death threats, Aaron persevered, never throwing it in the faces of his detractors.

As I write this blog post, I’m looking at the box score from April 8, 1974, when the Braves defeated the Dodgers 7-4 in the fourth game of the season. On the surface, it appears to be any other game as the Braves managed 7 runs on just 4 hits, but walked 7 times. Aaron’s only hit of the night was the dinger in the 4th; he went 1-3 for the night and also managed a walk. Braves’ pitcher Ron Reed pitched 6 innings, giving up all 7 of the Dodgers’ hits and all 4 runs, and managed to pick up his first win on the young season.

On the surface it appeared to be any other game.

Except time stood still in the bottom of the 4th as Aaron stepped to the plate and mashed one of the left field wall. The sold out crowd at Fulton County Stadium went bananas, and two young fans joined Aaron as he trotted around the bases. For a moment, time stood still and the entire country watched as Henry Aaron took his place in history.

It’s funny, I can’t remember seeing the moment admitted steroid-user Mark McGwire hit number 62, breaking Roger Maris’s single season record, nor do I care to remember Barry Bonds’ home run that broke Aaron’s record, but even though I wasn’t alive, I will always remember the image of Aaron hitting that home run. Unlike Bonds, who stuck his arms in the air, admired the shot, and trotted around the bases patting himself on the back, Aaron did what you should: he tucked his head, rounded the bases, and scored. He didn’t seem to mind or notice the two kids running with him, or the throngs of people waiting for him at home plate. To Henry Louis Aaron, it was a home run that tied the game, 3-3.

He was thankful the chase was over and has always seemed so humble about the record. Unlike certain characters, Aaron never martyred himself and he kept playing the game. Today, the Braves honor the true home run king, and unlike San Francisco that quickly stripped itself of anything Barry Bonds, the Braves celebrate Hank Aaron today and everyday.

Hank is a man who always put his team before himself, did his job without question, and played some of the best baseball anyone’s seen. Aaron is a 25 time All-Star, won the 1957 World Series, was the NL MVP that same year, won 3 Gold Gloves, 2 batting titles, was the NL home run champion 4 times, and holds the record for most RBIs, total bases, extra base hits, and yes, home runs.

Even if you despise the Atlanta Braves, today, we can all root for baseball’s true home run king, Henry Louis Aaron.

 

Cheers to 40 years, Hank.