I'll attend tonight's game at Progressive Field in Cleveland with a cheery optimism. As feared, the Indians have dropped their last 10 in a row; what are the odds they'll make it 11? Very slim, right?
Addendum: Cleveland will play Tampa Bay, who are tied with the Cubs at 55 wins, making them the best team in the league right now. Does that change the odds?
As of this morning, the Cleveland Indians (my next stop on the 30-park geas ) have dropped their last 9, putting them two games out of next-to-last place in the American League Central. In fairness, four teams (Seattle, Washington, Colorado, and San Diego) are doing worse. Right now, though, the tension mounts: will they drop their 10th today? Will I see them win tomorrow?
Oh, right, forgot: the Cubs are still in first place, as they've been since April, and are the second-best in all of baseball right now, after the Red Sox. What a World Series that will be, eh?
Shows you how much I keep up with the news.
It turns out, this is Shea Stadium's final season. I first went to Shea when I started school in New York in 1988, but I haven't been back since 1990. I hate Shea. It's uncomfortable, ugly, and the Mutts play there.
Only, I just found out they're tearing it down after this season, so next season the Mets will play in their brand-new Citi Field next door.
Now, I already knew about the new Yankee Stadium, and I'd decided that visiting the old one would count for this geas. So I guess I have two, mutually-exclusive questions:
- Does the 30-park geas require me to visit all 30 parks that existed when the geas started this season, counting the five I'd already been to?
- Or, conversely, does the quest entail visiting all 30 parks regardless of whether I've been there before?
Either way, which Shea counts?
Just jiggled the 30-Park Geas schedule a little. After discussing with my cousing the pros and cons of visiting Miami in August, we decided to hit two Cubs games in Atlanta, whereupon I'll pop out to San Francisco to see Dad and catch the A's-White Sucks series.
(Sox. White Sox. My mistake. Sorry, I live north of Madison.)
So, with eight parks down, and seven scheduled, we go into the bottom of 2008. National League 9, American 6.
My cousin and I have a 9-game package at Wrigley Field, game 7 of which was Tuesday night against the Braves. The Cubs won—despite dropping three runs in the first, never a good sign—on a warm but not sticky evening at one of my favorite places in the universe. Here's Fukudome stealing second:
I have to say, though, that not every seat at Wrigley is good. Example: Section 525, any row, seats 1-2, look like this:
Character. It's about character.
Here's my current progress through the 30-park geas:
 vs. Cubs
 Renamed Minute Maid Park in 2004
 I've decided not to count parks I visited before the 2008 season in this quest
 Shea demolished in 2009; Citi Field opened 13 April 2009
Last edited: 24 April 2011
On my geas to visit all of the Major League Baseball parks in the U.S. and Canada, I have some rules, one being to eat local food. Well, my dad just sent an article from tomorrow's New York Times that suggests I should always eat at the park:
Hot dogs and peanuts still rule the food court, but I spotted signs of progress almost everywhere on my road trip. There were concessionaires that served humanely raised meat from the fashionable purveyor Niman Ranch. Phillies fans drank beer from biodegradable cups made of corn, and a few might even have filled their cars with biodiesel made from the park’s used fryer oil after the game. And dishes from other baseball-loving cultures have made inroads, like tonkatsu, Japanese fried pork cutlets; sweet-fried plantains from Latin America; and pressed Cuban sandwiches.
Yesterday, though, I had a dog and—it still pains me to think of it—Miller Lite. That's what my hosts served, so that's what we had.
It had to happen some time. Tonight, though not officially part of my 29-park geas, I attended a, well, that is, I went to, um, you see, I was invited to go to a White Sox game. So, yeah.
If you're not from Chicago, you may have trouble understanding why this felt so odd for me. I grew up on the North Side. I'm a Cubs fan. In 37 years I've never taken the El below Cermak Road. And yet, tonight, I went to the Cell.
The upside: I can now actually go to all 30 parks that Major League Baseball accepts as their own, including the unfortunate one at 35th and State. But let me tell you, it wasn't easy, not least because the home team won.
Since my dad lives outside San Francisco, I took him to the second park on my 30-baseball-park geas. He hasn't been to a professional baseball game in years, despite working walking distance from AT&T Park. Something about preferring football. I have no idea why.
So, yesterday, I dragged him kicking and screaming to see the Padres play the Giants.
San Diego won 5-1, which is the sort of thing that happens when the visiting team goes through the entire lineup in the first inning. Pat Misch pitched the whole game, mainly because after his horrible first inning he actually held the Padres off until the 9th:
I liked the park. And I had local food: one of the concessions serves Chinese, so I had some orange chicken on rice. First time I ever ate anything with chopsticks at a baseball game. AT&T Park also had some very good local (or at least California) beers, including Lagunitas IPA and Mendocino Brewing Co. Red Tail ale.
Next up, U.S. Cellular Field back home. I had thought of visiting all 29 other parks and calling the quest complete, as living my entire life without ever seeing the White Sox in person sounded like a good idea. However, a business associate invited me to his company party at the Cell next Friday, so at least I can live my entire life without paying for a White Sox ticket. (If you don't live in Chicago, you may not understand that I'm only half-kidding.)
 I visited five parks before making plans to see all of them.
I started my 30-baseball-park geas with Kansas City, which definitely fits the model of saving the best for last.
First, there's beautiful (ahem) Kauffman Stadium, on the outskirts of the city, surrounded by picturesque fields of asphalt and dandelions. My sense of foreboding, stoked by checking the previous day's standings, increased when I saw the lines outside the box-office windows:
Actually, the game was kind of fun. As they went into the 9th inning, the Royals were up by 5, everyone in the park (except the Twins fans) was happy, the weather was just fine, and I looked forward to going to sleep before 11pm. Then the Twins rolled through almost their entire lineup, sending five guys home in the process to tie it up. Not fatal, but surprising. Then the Royals went through every pitcher they had and only six of their batters while the Twins added another run in the 10th. Final score? Oy:
Inauspicious beginning? I'm not bothered. It takes a certain kind of ball club to drop 10 games in a row. Since Wednesday's loss the Royals have dropped yet two more games, making them a very certain kind of ball club. Plus, what did I expect for my—wait for it—first American League game ever. Yes, that's right, I've never seen a designated hitter before, in person. Odd sort of creature, I must say.
I'm in San Francisco now, and yes, my dad and I are going to a Giants game. They're in 3rd place, playing the 4th-place Padres, so it may be a closely-fought match. I'm looking forward to it.
Meanwhile, once again I have to suffer through this sort of thing: