Game 1 - Montreal Expos 7, Atlanta Braves 5
Turner Field - Atlanta, Georgia
I got to Turner Field soon after 5 pm and got a $20 ticket in section 203, behind the first
base dugout. Picked up my free Turner Field poster at the gate and headed in to watch batting
practice and explore the ballpark. It is right out of the Camden Yards mold - grass field with
irregular outfield dimensions and great sightlines, including views of the field from the
concession concourse. The game figured to be a serious mismatch, with the low-budget Expos
facing 4 time Cy Young winner Greg Maddux. It is almost comical to realize that Maddux, with his
new $11 million per year contract, makes nearly $2 million more than the salary of the Expos'
entire 25-man roster this year!
Maddux gave up a quick first inning run, but settled down and provided a typically efficient
performance, with the requisite abundance of ground balls back to the pitcher. The Braves got an
early homerun from Ryan Klesko, then seemingly broke it open with 4 more runs in the middle
innings. It was 5-2 when Maddux called it a night after 7 innings - coasting to his league
leading 10th win. But wait! The mighty Braves have a weakness and that is their bullpen, where
Mark Wohlers apparently has lost his touch as the closer. Tonight he started the ninth, but was
pulled after walking the leadoff man. Mike Cather was definitely NOT the answer. He gave up
another walk and a hit batsman and then served up a grand slam to rookie pinch hitter Darond
Stovall, giving the Expos a 6-5 lead and leaving Turner Field in stunned silence. Another ugly
run made it 7-5 and the Braves surrendered quietly in the bottom of the ninth to complete the
stunning upset. All in all, a great kickoff game for my baseball tour.
Footlong dog - good, but nothing
Game 2 - New York Mets 7, Florida Marlins 4
ProPlayer Stadium - Miami, Florida
The afternoon shower was tapering off as I entered ProPlayer Stadium at about 6 PM. Nice
giveaway tonight - a Marlins 1997 World Champion baseball cap. So what if the entire team that
won the World Series has been disbanded to cut the payroll - they bought that championship fair
and square and they are going to flaunt it! The Mets come to town as one of the hottest teams in
the league, but I don't get to see the prized new acquisition, Mike Piazza, who's out with a
Things started well for the Marlins, with a solo homer in the bottom of the first. But it all
fell apart extremely fast in the third, when their starter Brian Meadows, who had breezed
through the first two innings, gave up 7 runs before he could get the second out of the inning.
That seemed to take the fight out of the home team, and the crowd. Two guys sitting in the row
behind me showed up in the third inning and left after the sixth - why even bother coming to the
game?! The fans that stuck around were rewarded with a ninth inning rally that got the Marlins
to 7-4 with one out and the tying run at the plate. Alas, the Mets DO have a closer, and John
Franco finished them off. So far, I don't seem to be good karma for the home teams.
Hot wings - the wings were good, but the potato
things (sort of hot, thick chips) that came with them tasted like cardboard.
Game 3 - Toronto Blue Jays 8,
Tampa Bay Devil Rays 7
Tropicana Field - St. Petersburg, Florida
Camden Yards, Turner Field and all the other new "retro" ballparks are great, and everyone
agrees that Astroturf has no place in baseball, but there certainly is something to say for
watching a game in air-conditioned comfort when it's a humid 90 degrees outside. The domed
Tropicana Field was all spruced up for the Devil Rays inaugural season and it looks pretty good.
I bought a $22 "club seat" ticket for $15 from a guy outside the stadium.
The somewhat sparse crowd got excited real early as Quentin McCracken and Wade Boggs hit
back-to-back dingers leading off the game for the Devil Rays. McCracken hit another one in the
third and it was 5-0. The Blue Jays slowly climbed all the way back to take a 7-5 lead in the
eighth inning and I was looking forward to my home team jinx continuing. Then the usually
reliable Paul Quantrill gave up 3 runs in a painfully long bottom of the eighth and the
expansion Devil Rays sent the crowd (if not me) home happy.
Cajun chicken sandwich - very good!
Game 4 - Houston Astros 6,
St. Louis Cardinals 5
The Astrodome - Houston, Texas
The Astros were one of the teams that responded to my shameless requests for free tickets and
such, and their Community Development Coordinator, Phoenix Mak (cool name, huh?) gave me the VIP
treatment before and during the game. Besides some team freebies, I got a personal tour of the
Astrodome (still referred to around Houston as "The Eighth Wonder of the World"). I heard all
the details about the new downtown stadium that the Astros are building, watched batting
practice from right on the field and then watched the game from the media level (great seats). I
couldn't have asked for a better experience.
Speaking of batting practice - that was an event in itself because I happened to be in town
during the Houston stop of the Mark McGwire World Tour. Over 15,000 people were in the stands
(completely filling the outfield seats 1 ½ hours before game time) to see Big Mac put on his
power show. He did not disappoint, hitting 10 of the 24 balls he saw into the seats, including 2
into the top deck of the Astrodome.
The game was a beaut as well, including McGwire's 32nd dinger of the year, 3 other home runs,
and a great comeback by the Astros. It was 2-2 in the eighth when the Cardinals got 3 gift runs
on an extremely ugly botched bunt. Then, after McGwire lined out to right field in the top of
the ninth, literally half of the crowd got up and left, only to miss their home team get 4 runs
in a stirring bottom of the ninth to win the game. Suckers!
Hot & Smokey Dog - good, free peanuts - excellent
(hey, they were free!)
Game 5 - Texas Rangers 3, Oakland A's 2
The Ballpark - Arlington ,Texas
The Rangers don't play many day games, and I can sure understand why. I only lasted a couple
innings in my exposed left field seat before seeking refuge in a shaded location. The game was
another close one (every game I've seen so far has come down to the last out), but with the
teams combining to use 10 pitchers, it was way too long for a 3-2 game. One highlight was
watching Rangers' manager Johnny Oates go nose-to-nose with a foot-taller umpire after he got
ejected in the first inning.
Nachos & Cheese - crisp and hot.
The beautiful Coors Field hosted a near sellout crowd, so we had to buy separate single
tickets to avoid the scalpers' big markups. We sat near the top of the upper deck, but almost
directly behind home plate.
The game started slowly, with the Dodgers getting the game's first run. Raul Mondesi made a
spectacular catch, robbing Vinny Castilla of a homer to center. The Rockies got rolling in the
4th and 5th innings, sparked by Ellis Burks' 3-run homer and RBI single. At 7-2, it looked like
my string of squeakers was in serious jeopardy. Wrong! As a passing thunderstorm intensified,
the Rockies' bullpen made things quite interesting. They finally held on to the 7-6 victory with
the tie run on second in a major downpour.
Footlong hot dog - acceptable, fries - excellent
Game 7 - Texas Rangers 3,
Arizona Diamondbacks 2
Bank One Ballpark - Phoenix, Arizona
I picked up my free ticket at the will call window (thanks to Brenda in Media Relations - I
guess this counts as filing my game report). The seat was great, 2nd row midway between 3rd base
and the foul pole. I could shake hands with the ball boy sitting on his little stool down there.
Wouldn't you know, only one foul ball was hit down that way the entire game! This was also the
first of 4 interleague games on the schedule.
Bank One Ballpark has a retractable roof, which was thankfully closed in the afternoon heat.
At about 6:45, they cranked open the roof and the game was played in the surprisingly
comfortable evening breezes.
The Rangers took an early 2-0 lead on Juan Gonzalez's league-leading 92nd RBI and a solo
homer by Mark McLemore. The home team got even in the 5th on a very bizarre play. With runners
on 2nd and 3rd, Devon White struck out swinging, but the ball got past the catcher, scoring the
first run. The catcher's throw back to the plate hit the runner, allowing the runner on second
to score as well, and White to get all the way to 2nd base. Not bad for a strikeout! Alas, the
last-place D-Backs couldn't capitalize further and went down to another defeat when Gonzalez
drove in another run with a monster triple high off the centerfield fence. That's twice I've
seen the Rangers now, and they won both games 3-2.
A steak sandwich - not like a cheesesteak, but a
slab of steak on a bun. It was extremely hot and not bad at all.
Game 8 - San Diego Padres 6,
Anaheim Angels 3
Qualcomm Stadium - San Diego, California
I got a $6 ticket in the upper deck directly behind home plate, which is fast becoming my
seat location of choice. Tonight was "retro night" at Qualcomm Stadium, flashing back to the
year 1978. This meant lots of tie-dye, platform shoes and disco music. The teams wore their
1978-vintage uniforms, which for the Padres meant brown and bright yellow. It's hard to believe
that I'm old enough to remember a "retro" era, but as I mentioned in the opening page, '78 was
the year I became a sports fan, so those uniforms looked very familiar.
1996 National League ERA. champ Kevin Brown was starting for the Padres, and the first 3
innings flew by without a run crossing the plate. In the top of the 4th, the Angels scored 3 on
a monster home run (443 feet into the second deck) by Cecil Fielder. But that would prove to be
the only offense of the night for the Angels, and the Padres quickly got even and then jumped to
a 6-3 lead. Closer Trevor Hoffman shut down an 8th inning threat and quickly dispatched the
Angels in the 9th.
I don't mean to disparage the good people of San Diego, but I couldn't help but take note
that the insipid 80's era "wave", which rarely is able to even get started in most stadiums
these days, made nine complete turns around the stadium tonight. How little it takes to
entertain some people.
An "inferno" dog, which wasn't all that hot at
Game 9 - Los Angeles Dodgers 2,
Pittsburgh Pirates 0
Dodgers Stadium - Los Angeles, California
Dodgers Stadium, aka Chavez Ravine, sits looking down on the vast L.A. skyline, built right
into a hillside. This accounts for the interesting fact that all the stairs to the second, third
and upper decks are on the outside of the stadium instead of inside the gates, where they are in
every other stadium I've ever been to. Once finally inside, the stadium evokes a sense of
history and authenticity that all the new, "retro" ballparks cannot quite match. We (Denise,
Theresa and I) sat in the upper deck behind home plate once more (again $6 each - such a deal!).
The game came close to being a once-in-a-lifetime-if-you're-lucky experience and ended up
being just a pitching masterpiece and the first real pitcher's duel I've seen so far on my trip.
Dodger's starter Ismael Valdes retired the first 21 hitters he faced, taking a perfect game into
the 8th inning, and ended up facing 28 men and pitching a one hitter. The Dodger offense finally
broke and got 2 runs on a single by Raul Mondesi with 2 outs and the bases loaded. There were
lots of hard hit balls and nice plays on both sides. All in all, just the kind of game that a
real baseball fan loves - and I did. The girls seemed to enjoy themselves as well, despite
battling some chilly weather.
I had to try one of the legendary "Dodger Dogs" -
it was good, but not that good. Also had a soft pretzel - good, but it should have been hotter.
Game 10 - Anaheim Angels 4,
San Francisco Giants 3
Edison Field - Anaheim, California
Zia, Theresa and I arrived at the newly renovated (and renamed) Edison International Field
just after 5:30 pm. The Angels had sent me two free tickets, but Zia was able to get a seat
nearby and sit with us. The seats were in my favorite location, right behind home at the bottom
of the upper deck.
The visiting Giants (it seems like interleague play has been going on forever) jumped on top
very quickly with a triple by Darryl Hamilton on the game's first pitch and a subsequent ground
out. The 1-0 lead held until the 6th , when the Angels fired up the crowd by plating 4 runs on
an RBI double and then a 3-run homer by Garrett Anderson, which set off an impressive fireworks
display . As usual, the lead nearly disappeared, but closer Troy Percival was able to shut the
door and the Angels won 4-3.
A very messy, but tasty, beef brisket sandwich on
a sub roll.
Game 11 - Oakland A's 7,
San Diego Padres 2
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum -
I hadn't realized tonight was fireworks night, since this is the A's last home game before
the All-Star Break. So, instead of the normal crowd of about 10,000 (consistently the lowest in
the Major Leagues), this game was a near sellout of over 40,000. I got a $4 bleacher seat and
sat in the front row in centerfield.
The Padres went ahead with an early 2-run homer that landed directly below me in center. From
then on, the last-place A's, perhaps motivated by the biggest home crowd most of their players
had ever seen, proceeded to score 7 unanswered runs on the first-place Padres and complete the
only blowout of my trip so far. Along the way, I got to see the A's ageless wonder, Rickey
Henderson, work his base-stealing magic.
When the game ended, everybody was invited down on the playing field to watch the fireworks.
I decided to pass on the on-field melee and watched the fireworks from the parking lot.
In one of the plainer Major League stadiums, I had
a regular hot dog. Very ordinary.
Game 12 - San Francisco Giants 6,
L.A. Dodgers 3
3Com Park - San Francisco, California
The newspaper said the game was sold out, and I was prepared to deal with the scalpers, but I
found out that sold out does not necessarily mean sold out. I walked up to the ticket window and
bought a seat in my preferred location (say it with me now), upper deck behind home plate. The
announced attendance was just over 56,000, the 2nd largest crowd in Giants history.
Giants-Dodgers games are always a big deal out here, and the crowd began booing the hated
Dodgers from their first appearance. The loudest boos were reserved for newly re-assigned
General Manager Tommy Lasorda when he walked on the field during batting practice. He seemed to
The Dodgers starter tonight was the hero of last Friday's game at Dodgers Stadium, Ismael
Valdes. One of these guys had to be an imposter. After cruising through a one-hitter last week,
Valdes gave up 3 hits in the first 1/3 of an inning and got hit hard all night. Despite his
struggles, the Dodgers held a 2-1 lead on Gary Sheffield's long homer until the Giants' J.T.
Snow electrified the big crowd with a 3-run home run in the 5th. The Giants tacked on a couple
more runs on another homer and turned the game over to their closer in the "Nenth" inning
(Closer Rob Nen, get it? Aren't those marketing folks clever?). For the ninth time in the last
10 games I've attended, the home team sent the crowd home happy.
As far as stadium food goes, I have never seen
anything comparable to the popularity of the awesome garlic fries that they were selling here.
While most of the other food stands had no lines at all, the stand selling these fries had a
20-minute wait for the entire game. I'd say at least 80 percent of the crowd went home with
Game 13 - Seattle Mariners 8,
Anaheim Angels 6
Kingdome - Seattle, Washington
The Mariners stiffed me on the free ticket that they had promised would be waiting for me at
the will-call window, so I got the cheapest seat they had and sat with Don and Aaron in their
regular spot in the upper deck behind home plate (sound familiar?). The game started extremely
sluggishly, with the only run of the first 4 ½ innings scoring on a throwing error. Then the
offenses woke up in a big way, with the M's scoring 8 runs in the 5th and 6th, capped off with
Ken Griffey's 36th dinger of the year, a 440-foot shot to right-center. Predictably, the
Mariners' pitching staff made things interesting by giving up 5 more runs in the next 2 innings,
but the closer-of-the-day Mike Timlin did the job in the 9th and my home team victory streak
reached 10 of 11.
We ate at a sub place right before the game, so I
avoided the price gouging concession stands tonight.
Game 14 - Milwaukee Brewers 4,
Philadelphia Phillies 2
Milwaukee County Stadium -
Even with interleague play, it is still kind of weird having the Brewers in the National
After the Phillies got a run in the top of the 1st on a Scott Rolen homer, the Brewers jumped
all over Phillies' starter Tyler Green. Fernando Vina led off with a gapper that apparently got
lost or lodged under the outfield wall. He had flown around the bases for an apparent
inside-the-park homerun and the crowd was understandably perturbed that the umps made him go
back to 2nd base - at the very least it should have been a triple. Justice was served when the
Brewers batted around and scored 3 runs.
One sign that County Stadium is overdue to be retired is the black-and-white jumbotron; the
only one I've seen so far and maybe the last one in all of pro sports. You have to give the team
credit, however, for their league-best homerun celebration, with a real human being sent sliding
down a long chute to a glass from the monster beer keg in centerfield. They've also got another
unique touch - at each pitching change, a huge fat guy on a Harley Davidson (the company is
headquartered in Milwaukee) motors around the rim of the field.
Another exciting home-team win (that's 11 of 12) sent the crowd of 17,000 -my smallest so far
- home happy.
Game 15 - Cincinnati Reds 7,
St. Louis Cardinals 4
Busch Stadium - St. Louis, Missouri
As a result of switching nights for my trip to St. Louis, I lost the Mark McGwire crapshoot.
I had read over the weekend that he was scheduled for a day off sometime this week (the quote
was - "I'm only human, not Cal Ripken") but there was no way of knowing which day he would sit
out and it turned out to be tonight. There was a collective groan among the crowd of 31,000 when
the lineups flashed on the scoreboard and "Big Mac" was nowhere to be found.
The game was a good one anyway, with the teams swapping leads several times and hitting 3
homers. Cardinals starter Todd Stottlemyre was hit extremely hard and often all night. In the
second inning, he gave up 5 straight hits to start the inning, but managed to escape with only 1
run allowed as 2 runners were thrown out on the basepaths. Tony LaRussa left him just a bit too
long and he gave up a three-run homer in the 7th, bringing his totals to 7 runs and 12 hits
The crowd was rewarded with a last-minute pinch hitting appearance from the greatest homerun
hitter of all-time, but McGwire grounded out to end the game.
Just some slightly soggy nachos
Game 16 - Chicago White Sox 9,
Toronto Blue Jays 3
Game 16A - Chicago White Sox 5,
Toronto Blue Jays 2
Comisky Park - Chicago, Illinois
Scheduled double-headers have been basically extinct for a number of years, and even when
rainouts force teams to play two, more and more teams are gouging the fans by scheduling
day-night double-headers and charging separate admissions. So, a traditional 2-for-1
double-header on a beautiful afternoon and evening in a baseball-loving city the size of Chicago
should be a big draw, right? Wrong. The cellar-dwelling White Sox have nearly the lowest
attendance in the league and when the first game started at 4:05, there could not have been more
than 1000 people in the entire ballpark.
The first half of game 1 seriously resembled batting practice for the White Sox, which the
sparse crowd enjoyed immensely. Being a Blue Jays fan, I could only shake my head as Pat Hentgen
(who somehow won the Cy Young just two years ago) stood out there getting shelled for 8 runs and
12 hits in the first 4 innings. Even the outs were usually smashed. The Jays could do very
little against White Sox starter Jamie Navarro and the Chisox coasted to a 9-3 victory, the
biggest blowout of my trip so far.
Game 2 was at least contested for most of the way. It was 2-2 after 2 solo homers by the
White Sox (including the second of the day for a red hot Albert Belle) and 2 RBI's by the
constantly heckled Jose Canseco. I had sat in the front row of the upper deck for the first
game, but decided to see game 2 up close and personal. The late-arriving crowd had managed to
get all the way up to 16,000, but I still found a seat mere feet from the Jays on-deck circle -
probably closer to home plate than the pitcher's mound is. Every time Jose came out of the
dugout, the chanting and razzing began. Only once or twice did he ever crack a grin or take a
peek at his tormentors. Canseco got on base 3 times, but also grounded out with two on to end
the game and complete the White Sox' sweep.
I had a hotdog-like thing called a Cheddarwurst,
which was actually very good - moist and flavorful.
Box Score (Game 1)
Box Score (Game2)
Game 17 - Detroit Tigers 3,
New York Yankees 1
Tigers Stadium - Detroit, Michigan
For $8, I got a seat in the left field "Fan Stands" plus a soda and a piece of pizza - such a
deal! Tigers Stadium has a unique configuration, with the upper deck in the outfield hanging out
over the field and providing some of the best seats in the house. For most of the game, I sat in
the front row of the upper deck in left field - the best outfield seat in baseball. Another
oddity in this ancient ballpark is centerfield, which boasts the most distant fence in all of
baseball (440 feet) and sports a flagpole that is actually on the field, providing a
one-of-a-kind obstacle to outfielders.
The mighty Yankees were in town tonight, sporting the best record in baseball history to this
point in the season. The Tigers' young starter, Brian Moehler, got off to an inauspicious start
when Chuck Knoblauch homered on the second pitch of the game, but he then proceeded to
completely shut down the Yankees for the next 8 innings. David Cone, the American League's
winningest pitcher, was on his game as well, shutting out the Tigers until a 6th inning homer by
Raul Casanova tied the game. In the 8th, the Tigers broke through with a clutch, two-out single
by Luis Gonzalez. The crowd was on its feet as the Yankees could only manage three deep fly outs
in the top of the 9th, completing the upset. Way to go Tigers!
Besides my free slice of pizza, I had an Italian
sausage. Both were hot and very tasty.
Game 18 - San Diego Padres 2,
Cincinnati Reds 1
Cinergy Field - Cincinnati, Ohio
Cinergy Field, originally Riverfront Stadium, is one of three virtually identical, completely
character-less stadiums built in the 60's and used for both football and baseball (the others
being Three Rivers in Pittsburgh and Veterans in Philly). From the awful Astroturf to the bland
circular seating bowl, these are easily the worst places in the majors to watch baseball. But
don't worry, they'll all be replaced by new ballparks in due time. My $6 upper deck ticket got
me in and after a few innings I headed down to the plaza level for a better view.
The hometown Reds came into tonight's game on a long hot streak, having won 16 of 18 games,
but were still several games under .500. The game was a pitchers duel, with the Padres Joey
Hamilton holding the upper hand throughout. Greg Vaughn put the Padres up 2-0 with a long homer
to left (his 33rd of the season), and the Reds couldn't answer. Closer Trevor Hoffman set down
the last four batters in order to close it out and leave the crowd of 30,000 very disappointed
in the Reds' anemic offensive output.
A "pulled" barbecue chicken sandwich, virtually
gourmet food by ballpark standards, was delicious.
Game 19 - Texas Rangers 15,
Kansas City Royals 5
Kauffman Stadium -
Kansas City, Missouri
Kauffman Stadium, previously Royals Stadium, is easily the nicest of the 60's and 70's era
stadiums. The field is below ground level and the view from behind home plate is of the
signature fountains in centerfield with grassy hills beyond.
By the time the top of the first was over, so was the game. The Rangers sent 12 men to the
plate, knocked out the Royals starter after just 2/3 of an inning, and scored 9 runs. They
didn't let up there; after 6 innings, they had scored 15 runs and blasted 5 home runs. Juan
Gonzalez's line: 3 for 5, 2 homers, 5 RBIs (that's 110 on the season), and another deep fly that
missed being another 3-run homer by a few feet.
The other interesting item was the attendance at tonight's game of Negro Leagues legendary
superstar Buck Leonard. After he was
introduced and given a standing ovation, he was besieged by autograph seekers for the rest of
A very spicy polish sausage.
Game 20 - Anaheim Angels 6,
Minnesota Twins 5 (10 innings)
Metrodome - Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Twins jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead over the visiting Angels, who I was seeing for the
fourth time on my trip. Two solo homers made it 4-2, but the Twins added what looked like an
insurance run in the 8th, bringing in venerable closer Rick Aguilera with a three run lead. It
wasn't enough. The first 5 hitters in the Angels' 9th reached base, and Aguilera was fortunate
to escape with a 5-5 tie. The Twins went down in the bottom of the 9th to provide the first
extra-inning game of the trip. Leading off the 10th, "Big Daddy" Cecil Fielder hit a one hopper
to right field and came within an eyelash of being thrown out by the rightfielder (I say he was
out). Fielder came around to score what proved to be the winning run, with Angels' closer Troy
Percival making quick work of the Twins in the 10th to demonstrate how a non-geriatric closer
A below-average hamburger, made even worse by
incredibly inept service at the concession stand.
Game 21 - New York Mets 5, Chicago Cubs 0
Game 21A - New York Mets 7, Chicago Cubs 3
Wrigley Field - Chicago, Illinois
The only tickets available were "standing room only" (when I asked for a ticket in the famous
Wrigley bleachers, the guy just sneered and said "they've been sold out for 6 months") but I
never found out exactly where I was supposed to stand. I just sat in my accustomed place behind
the plate and wasn't displaced all afternoon.
The Cubs are known as the lovable losers and they demonstrated today that they are adept at
losing both early and late. In the first game, the Mets jumped on Cubs starter Jeremi Gonzalez
for 4 runs in the first 3 innings, ending the competitive portion of the game. The Cubs offense
was, despite slugger Sammy Sosa, positively anemic and never threatened against starter Armando
Reynoso, who hadn't pitched all season.
Game 2 started in a more promising fashion for the increasingly inebriated home crowd, with
the Cubs taking a 1-0 lead and holding it through the 5th inning. Several lead changes later,
the Cubs reverted to their historical form and surrendered by a 7-3 score. Near the end of the
game, the remaining fans were entertained by two separate "bleacher bums" who were sufficiently
soused to climb out of the stands and onto the field - comically evading security personnel for
a few seconds before being hauled off to jail. I even got to listen to an ongoing discussion by
some nearby fans as to whether one of them was to make his own break for it. There was talk of
taking up a collection for his bail money but, alas, the game ended before he could find enough
money and/or nerve.
An entirely average jumbo dog and above average
fries. I also must note that Chicagoans are serious beer drinkers. This was the first ballpark
in the country where I've seen what I'll call a "beer sling", a plastic handle-type thing that
enables one to tote up to four cups of beer per hand. They seemed very popular.
Box Score (Game 1)
Box Score (Game 2)
Game 22 - Cleveland Indians 6, Detroit Tigers 5
Jacobs Field - Cleveland, Ohio
The Tigers got 2 runs off rookie phenom Bartolo Colon in the 4th, but it wasn't really his
fault. Bumbling rightfielder Manny Ramirez misjudged his first of 3 fly balls into a double,
then Travis Fryman misplayed a short-hopper to third. Ramirez atoned for his blunder right way
with a two-run homer in the bottom of the 4th and the Indians broke loose for 6 runs in the next
Another Ramirez misplay led to 2 more Tiger runs in the 7th, but closer Mike Jackson has been
pretty much a sure thing this year so the crowd wasn't worried with a two run lead going into
the 9th. They should have been, because if it weren't for one of the most bone-header
baserunning blunder ever, the Tigers would have tied the game. Tony Clark, who doubled with one
out and represented the meaningless 5th run, tried to score on a single to center and was thrown
out by 10 feet. I'm not sure if he ran through a stop sign of if the third base coach is the
idiot, but it cost the Tigers in a big way when the next batter doubled. As it was, that only
made it 6-5 and Jackson was able to get out of the inning and get his save.
A half-pound cheeseburger with the works -
Game 23 - Atlanta Braves 2,
Pittsburgh Pirates 1
Three Rivers Stadium -
Perennial National League powerhouse Atlanta was in town for the weekend, resulting in
significantly larger than normal crowds - 40,000+ on Saturday, 35,000 today.
Perennial Cy Young favorite Greg Maddux made his second appearance on my tour, again against
a team whose entire payroll is barely more than his $11million salary. Today was vintage Maddux
- seven and two-thirds brisk innings, allowing only four hits and one unearned run. Pirates
starter Jason Schmidt tried gamely to keep pace, and did so until the 7th inning when he gave up
a second run on an Andres Gallaraga RBI single. The often-shaky Braves bullpen did its job
today, giving Maddux his 14th win (which ties him with teammate Tom Glavine for tops in the
A big bucket of french fries, only mildly warm.
Game 24 - Toronto Blue Jays 8, Texas Rangers 3
Skydome - Toronto, Ontario
If you added up my "rooting interest" in the other thirty-some games of my trip, it wouldn't
equal tonight's game with Clemens on the mound. By the top of the second inning, I was preparing
my "woe is me" commentary after Roger had given up 3 runs on 4 solid hits, including hits on the
very first pitch of each inning, and often couldn't find the plate at all. But the Rocket is
nothing if not a battler - he quickly got it in gear and shut down the high-powered Rangers for
the next 5 innings.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays wildly inconsistent offense decided to show up. They tied it in the
2nd on a 2-run single by Shaun Green, then scored 3 more while batting around in the 6th, with
Jose Canseco getting the key hit. That was more than enough support to Clemens and his relief
help, but the most exciting moment came in the 8th when Shannon Stewart, in the game as a
defensive replacement, lined a shot passed a diving Rusty Greer and scored standing up with an
inside the park homer.
My good friends at McDonalds have a near-exclusive
concession contract at Skydome. I had an excellent Italian sausage (since when did they make
those?) and a large fry (no way to go wrong there!).
Game 25 - Montreal Expos 6,
San Francisco Giants 0
Olympic Stadium - Montreal, Quebec
They Expos can't be competitive with their league-low payroll, but they somehow manage to
crank out new young stars every year. This year it is Vladimir Guerrero who is playing his way
out of Montreal to a team that can pay him properly. He beat the Giants almost single-handedly
tonight, with a 2-run "circuit", two other hits, a walk, and a stolen base. The Expos started a
young pitcher named Hermanson, who silenced Barry Bonds and the rest of the Giants bats, giving
the Expos an easy 6-0 victory (the third shutout of my trip).
Just a gummy, lukewarm giant pretzel.
Game 26 - New York Mets 2, Los Angeles Dodgers 1
Shea Stadium - Queens, New York
The game was quite a pitchers duel, 0-0 until the 8th inning. It was "Hispanic Night" at Shea
Stadium, with Latino dancers, salsa music and lots of tributes to the late Roberto Clemente
throughout the evening.
The Dodgers got a gift run in the 8th, inappropriately on an ugly error by the Mets Puerto
Rican star Carlos Baerga, and things looked bleak in the bottom of the 9th with the Mets facing
Dodgers closer Jeff Shaw. Lightning struck quickly, however, with a pinch-hit homer by Matt
Franco, a walk, and a game-ending double prompting mass celebration on the field and in the
With their stirring comeback victory, the Mets locked up the unofficial championship of my
little adventure. In addition to tonight, they beat the Marlins and swept a doubleheader from
the Cubs to end up with a 4-0 record. The only other teams that will have more than a single
victory without losing are the Expos and White Sox, both 2-0.
A chicken sandwich, good, but somewhat undersized.
Game 27 - S.F. Giants 15,
Philadelphia Phillies 3
Veterans Stadium - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Giants, who I watched being shutout by the lowly Expos on Wednesday, scored at will
against the Phillies pitching staff this afternoon. In the second, they clubbed
back-to-back-to-back homers and led 6-0.
By the 5th inning, Barry Bonds was 4-4, only needing a double to complete the cycle. He
wouldn't get it though, because his next time up, Phillies reliever Ricky Bottalico nailed him
with a pitch and Bonds charged the mound to ignite the first of two bench-clearing brawls. Bonds
and Bottalico were ejected, Bottalico after throwing just that one fateful pitch.
The carnage continued, with the Giants scoring in 7 of the first 8 innings and building a
15-3 lead. A total of 7 homers were hit and when the game was finally over there were not very
many Phillies fans left in the stands.
It wouldn't be Philly without the cheesesteak,
right? Mine was large, hot, delicious and, at $5.75, the most expensive single food item so far.
Game 28 - Baltimore Orioles 4, Detroit Tigers 0
Camden Yards - Baltimore, Maryland
I would have bet good money that Ismael Valdes' 7 perfect innings in Los Angeles (see Game 9)
would be the closest I would see to a perfect game or no-hitter on this trip. Damned if "Moose"
Mussina didn't go him 2 batters better.
The crowd of over 47,000 at Camden Yards really started getting into it in the 5th innings,
and Mussina was getting brief ovations on every out. Extra excitement was provided by the home
plate ump, who threw out Tigers manager Buddy Bell and two Tigers hitters for arguing balls and
The Orioles, one of baseball's hottest teams recently after their dismal start to the 1998
season, scored single runs in 4 different innings to give Mussina all the support he would need.
The second run was on a long homer by the red-hot Eric Davis.
With only 4 outs to go, and the crowd pretty much constantly on its feet, Mussina surrendered
a clean double down the rightfield line to an unheralded Tiger rookie hitter. There was another
hit in the ninth, but the Orioles ace finished strong with a 2-hit shutout.
I hastily grabbed a "Super Dog" in the game's last
inning (it just strikes me as wrong to eat while a perfect game is being pitched). It was hot
and tasty, especially considering it had probably been sitting there the whole game.
Game 29 - New York Yankees 8,
Kansas City Royals 2
Yankee Stadium - Bronx, New York
Is everyone paying attention to these Yankees? Despite their lack of a true "superstar", they
very likely are going to finish the year with the best single-season record in Major League
history. Whether they are turning a 5-1 ninth inning deficit into a 10-5 victory (Tuesday), or
cruising to today's doubleheader sweep by a combined score of 22-4, the Bronx Bombers seem to be
The first game of said doubleheader was over early, with the Yankees getting 4 first inning
runs and coasting from there. David Cone pitched well enough to become the Majors' first 16-game
winner and Darryl Strawberry crushed one halfway up the stadium's top deck.
You would think that the best team in history in the biggest city in the country could draw
more than 14000 people to the ballpark.
A very average "Jumbo Dog"
BCG (Bonus Clemens Game) -
Blue Jays 4, A's 3
Things started better for Roger this time - instead of giving up a hit on the first pitch of
the game, he held the visiting A's hitless into the fifth inning. Unfortunately, he was having
control problems again and the A's managed to score an unearned run in the 3rd on a walk, a
stolen base, an ugly play where Blue Jays second baseman managed to make two errors on one easy
ground ball. In the 5th, Clemens gave up 2 more runs and 4 of the 5 hits he would yield all day.
After 7 innings and over 130 pitches, he left the game trailing 3-2.
That turned out to be one inning to early to benefit from Jose Cruz Jr.'s clutch 2-run homer
in the bottom of the 8th, which gave the Jays the win but only netted Clemens a no-decision. At
least the winning streak is still alive - 9 wins in 13 starts since his last loss on May 29th.
Nothing - I only had enough loonies left for a
Game 30 - Boston Red Sox 7, Kansas City Royals 4
Fenway Park - Boston, Massachusetts
The Sox were back in town after a long, successful road trip and cozy Fenway Park was packed
with appreciative fans. I sat in the good seat for a few innings, but late-arrivers kept
displacing me so I make the trek way out to my nosebleed bleacher seat for what turned out to be
just a few innings.
I had read an article (with accompanying cover photo) in the Boston Herald newspaper this
afternoon about a stadium vendor who
had been fired for what amounted to "excessive personality" last year, but had been vindicated
and given his job back by a local judge and was making his triumphant return to action at
tonight's game. Sure enough, there he was, loudly hawking popcorn now (he likes to have his
"own" product that no other vendor sells), chatting up fans and signing autographs. Not bad for
a 21-year old kid just out of college.
The game was tight all the way. Both teams had a runner thrown out at the plate in the first
on poor baserunning decisions. The Royals took 1-0 and 2-1 leads that were quickly erased by the
Sox, who took a 3-2 lead of their own into the top of the 8th. Then, just after the Royals
scored to tie the game, mother nature decided to turn on the faucet full blast again and I had
my first rain delay of the trip. It rained sheets of water for about 30 minutes, then slowly
tapered off. By the time the ground crew finally got the tarp back off and we got back underway
at close to 11 pm, the rain delay had totaled an hour and 25 minutes.
On the positive side, the delay cleared out over half the crowd and I was able to sit
wherever I pleased again for the rest of the game. It continued to seesaw and we went to the
bottom of the 10th tied 4-4. Then, with one out and runners at the corners, the Red Sox' newest
superstar, Nomar Garciaparra blasted a shot over the green monster to cap off the game and my
whole trip in awesome style.
I had a polish sausage during the rain delay. It
was good, but it wasn't terribly enjoyable eating while standing in the crush of people trying
to find shelter from the downpour.