Chuck Booth’s 30 MLB Park Quest: (Games 16-21)
The Streak stands at 23 MLB Parks in 18 calendar days!!
Chuck Booth: I am the World Record Holder for-Fastest to see all 30 MLB parks in 24 days (2009)!
In 2012, I am going for 30 MLB Parks in 23 days from: April 6th to 28th.
Follow me-@chuckbooth3024 on twitter
Follow my streak all the through to the bitter end. Schedule is this link:
http://mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker/ or at my official website for all updates!
MLB Park # 16 Day # 12
CHC 2 @ MIA 3
New Marlins Ball Park
‘Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twiter)- It was a great day for a new baseball park. During this trip, anytime that I have had a single game only for a day, I have felt a little bit more relaxed while watching the action. I flew into FLL (Fort Lauderdale Airport) really early and caught up on some writing. I was fully rewarded with my National Car Rental to the tune of a Chrysler 200 that was black in color. I made my way to my Best Western Hotel near the airport. Check in time was not till 3 PM, but I was able to coerce the staff to let me take a room early. I really appreciate the professional way the Best Western staff always helps me in the travels.
I left for downtown Miami at 4 PM. I had nice directions into the ballpark. I have not driven into Miami very many times in my life so it is still fresh. Once I hit around the 7th street area, I scouted the same parking spot that Lori Martini had told me about near the park. I parked for $15 and the spot was a mere 50 feet from the entrance. Lori is also right that the people who designed the area were not very smart. Having parking spots that back into grass is going to turn into car quicksand when the tropical rains hit. It was sunny today so I was cool with it.
I began entering the facility from the outside. Latin music was blaring at high decibels. I think this is a little overkill for the team to do this, so they must remember that they are still in a rural area of town. Other than the residents who are profiting from creating parking spots for the public, the rest of the people that live in vicinity must hate the new ball park. Although I am sure they won’t be that disappointed when the real estate appraisers come around to value their houses.
The concourses from first to third base on the main level might be the nicest in baseball. I really like the blue ‘theme’. It is clean, looks very soothing to the eye, plus the sightlines are really good. Where the first half of the park looks great, the back half of the field is atrocious. It is a shame that the park is so nice only to have the ‘puke’ green walls on the outfield tamper with the perfection. As someone has problems with bright colors because of prior concussions, this is not what I call a good thing. I had to wear my shades in the bleachers the whole time.
They also have every second staircase fitted to only seat children, ants and smurfs. There is barely enough room for one person to go up and down these said staircases let alone two. Then you have the homer ‘contraption’ that is quickly sweeping the nation as the ‘worst’ iconic visual in professional sports. It’s big, doesn’t even make sense and needs to be removed. Not to mention that the retaining wall before it is curled throughout the fence. If a player runs into this wall to fast he may be ten seconds from a toe-tag.
The game itself was pretty good. The Marlins had solid efforts from Josh Johnson and Hanley Ramirez to take out the CUBS 3-2. The Marlins will go as far as these 2 can carry them. Josh Johnson needs to have a CY Young like year and Hanley Ramirez needs to resemble the back of his bubble gum baseball card. The Cubs on the other hand, look futile this year and there is no end in near sight. They would be smart to trade every possible veteran on offense and continue to build on the pitching side.
The New Marlins Ball Park was a nice experience overall. I am glad that they opened up the roof for the game. It added a lot to the enjoyment to have fresh air. On another positive note, the fans were quite electric and excited to be there. The rabid fans were always drowned out by the ultimate concrete force that was Dolphin Stadium. There is no doubt that the long term viability of the franchise is much more stable by at least having a function-able stadium. Now they just need to hire a demolition crew to blow up the homer contraption!!
MLB Park # 17 Day # 13
NYM 6 @ ATL 12
Nothing like stepping off a plane and seeing rain in the surrounding area, so I pressed on with my daily plan. I had a day/night doubleheader with St. Louis. To increase my odds of making an afternoon flight, I actually purchased two afternoon flights from ATL-STL. One plane left at 4:30 and the other left at 5:46 PM. Both of the flights would give me a chance to make Busch Stadium in time. Obviously I wanted to make the 1st flight in order to have some freedom to decide my method of transport to Busch. I was pleasantly surprised that Atlanta has recently implemented a ‘CAR RENTAL FACILITY’ accessible by Air Tram. I made my way to National Car Rental.
I drove off in a brand new Ford Fusion. I turned onto I-85 South and made sure to note the exits and turnoffs in reverse from the field. Rain still persisted. By the time I scouted out my exit strategy and parked near the park, rain kept pelting down feverishly. I was in contact with Ken Lee and Lori Martini for updates. I knew Lori was listening to the game on radio because her beloved Mets were playing. Both of my fellow chasers said that the game was going ahead as planned despite threat of continuous rain. It is always risky to enter a park with rain looming. Had I been a little more worried, I would have waited until about 5 minutes within the game start before entering the park.
I bought a $1 skyline ticket and walked in when the gates were opened. This park is not one of my favorites at all. I waited for the game to start. After what felt like forever, the game was underway. I had to watch RA Dickey and Jair Jurrjens work slow, walk batters and then ultimately pitch long innings. I knew that I was in for a long game. I pat myself on the back that I had purchased two flights to get out of the city. Jason Bay kicked around a routine fly ball in the game to further make me upset. The end verdict was a 12-6 win for the home ball club. The time elapsed was 3:22 in length. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, I sprinted to my parking spot to drive to the airport. 18 minutes later I was on the tram to security. If you take the exit the highway says, you would always miss the car rental facility by 2 miles. I knew this much.
At the 25 minutes mark I was at security and had a sliver of hope to reach my gate. The stupid lineups at security for this airport always give a misleading look at how long the lineups are. At 4:25 PM the prospect of the 5:46 looked to be the saviour. I still made it to the Air Tran gate at 4:32 PM in case there had been any small delay. I was informed I had missed my flight. I was okay with this. I pulled off a great attempt. I know had 75 minutes before my next flight and had already cleared security. I bought some Popeye’s chicken and made my way to the next flight.
I was boarded and was feeling great about my chances in St. Louis. It was 5:45 PM and we were set to leave.
The captain of the flight came on the speaker. “I am sorry to inform that our 1st officer’s seat belt is not coming all the way down to secure him in the cockpit. We have called a mechanic and we will let you know when we can get back to the flight. It should not take more than 15 minutes.” I was at full attention in row 21. My eyes were steadfast as I watched this progress. My adrenaline spiked to a fever level. Any long delay would make all of the hard work I did this day a moot point. At 6:18 PM the mechanic had left the area. I felt optimistic. With the plane leaving just a few minutes later, it would still arrive about 6:45 PM in St. Louis and give me a chance to flag down a cab for the game.
The captain came back on the speaker: “We are sorry to inform you that we were not able to fix the part, so we are sending the mechanic out to go and find this part in the other side of the terminal. We are estimating about another 30-45 minutes in the delay.”
“Damn!!!: I said pretty loud for all to hear, and then muttered an obscenity under my breath that people right around me still heard. This was the 3rd mechanical failure that had cost me a doubleheader attempt. I was mad because I nailed everything perfect from my end. This miss means I need to run the table in order to break the record. I was so fired up to do anything I cancelled my hotel room and wrote for 8 hours straight at St. Louis Airport. At least I was going to my home park on the next day.
MLB Park # 18 Day # 14
CLE 2 @ SEA 1
It was a nice feeling to breathe West Coast air and be close to home. While it was cold and raining, I would not be in a bad mood. for I had a dome stadium to watch the game and weather wouldn’t be an influence. Ken Lee met me at the SEATAC Airport and we made our way to Marysville, Washington where he lives. I made sure I eat yet another helping of Wendy’s chili to make my stomach nerves feel at ease. I had also dropped off a fresh suitcase of clothes at Ken’s the previous month. Marysville is only 80 miles from my house. Having Ken there for this day and for the next 2 weeks after was a good feeling. It all had worked out to perfection with the schedule. The Seattle game was his last day of tax season as a General Manager at Jackson Hewitt. The other schedule euphemisms will be chronicled as we write along.
I managed a snooze for a couple of hours before it was time to leave for Safeco. The weather might not have any effect on the impending baseball game, but that didn’t stop it from wreaking havoc on the drive along highway 5 towards the ball park. Ken tweeted the Mariners in between stops. It was a shot in the dark and boy did it pay off. The team made arrangements to find me in the mid-innings and were willing to acknowledge my journey on the Jumbo Scoreboard. I was excited at this prospect. I mean chasing down ballparks for 5 years has afforded me dozens of media requests for interview on TV Radio, and newspaper, but this highly different. Having this knowledge in our heads was a great motivator. At 5:45 PM, Ken and I decided to park in the Edgar Martinez parking lot for $20. It was a bit more than what we wanted to pay, however for that lot it wasn’t that bad at all.
Doug Miller quickly joined us to enter the gate. Doug was our Safeco Field Expert and it was great to finally meet another quality West Coast guy. We got together for some great pictures behind home plate before we headed to our seats. Doug and I have a lot in common when it comes to likes in a ballpark. We also remarked that some of the record holders for ballpark chasers include Canadians and fans from the Pacific Northwest. The reason why we have to plan out our road trips so carefully is that we are forever away from other ballparks. We are talking 800 miles away from OAK/SF and over 1200 miles away from Coors Field. It not only takes diligent planning but also serious financing to carry out a life as a PAC NW chaser.
Felix Hernandez was lights out for the first four innings. He was actually throwing a perfect game. ‘THE KINGS COURT’ is a section at Safeco Field that are hardcore Felix Hernadez fans. In a stroke of pure luck, Ken Lee had purchased us 5 seats directly above this raucous crowd. We are hovering just over a huge banner hanging from the rafters between the 1st and second deck. Unbeknownst to us, we were receiving some serious TV coverage. It was simple, as the park resembled the 1st scene in the movie Major League for attendance at the game. This King’s court section was completely full and was great for the home team’s TV broadcaster.
The M’s forced home a go ahead run and we were watching King Felix showcase his mastery on the mound. At the end of the 5th inning, a group of young women came up to our section and presented me with a SWAG BAG of goodies. The next thing I knew, I was on Camera as the PA announcer was announcing my baseball journey. The classy Seattle fans gave me a great round of applause as I stood there waving like I was a presidential election candidate. It was a really surreal moment. The game seemed to be one of destiny. Despite the Mariners losing the game, it was another success for the streak. It was another quick sleep before Ken and I woke up for a flight to Kansas City.
MLB Park # 19 Day # 15
TOR 4 @ KC 3
This was always going to be weird. At least it worked out from a practical sense. There was a chiropractor convention and a big event at the Kansas City Speedway both killing the chance to rent a normal car. It did not even matter that I yielded several free car rental days left from National Car Rental. When planning one of these trips, there is a hierarchy of events that unfold from the normal routine. To fly from Kansas City or St. Louis in the morning was not only an expensive option but a risk. I hate taking chances with the city of Chicago, as they are so prone to have airport delays due to inclement weather. So that meant exercising one of my free car rental days in order to secure a one-way car rental. The distance from Kansas City to Chicago was over 500 miles and about 9 hours on the road. I eventually exhausted all options. That is when I threw out a Hail Mary. I was at Alamo’s site and requested a truck with a one-way drop. It shot back at $107. I was in.
When I looked at the grand plan, I was going to pay $80 for a car rental in KC anyway. This little maneuver actually paved the way for Ken Lee to come aboard the trip. I told him I had A Chevy Silverado to rent for the trip. That soon had the hamster wheel moving. Soon enough, we hatched a plan where Ken could join me for 9 games. Amongst the duties was to drive me around for several cities. For this, I was able to help compensate him money wise for a car rental. So much so, that Ken is going to nail 23 out of the 30 MLB parks himself as part of my run and then onward to his own journey. There is nothing like a plan coming together! We arrived at the KCI Airport. Ken was not part of my crazy travel world. He stayed back for his luggage and I fetched the Truck we were going to use for the trip.
THEY HAVE GAMBLING ALL OVER KAUFFMAN STADIUM
Another execution to the travel gods, I soon told Ken of my ultimate decision. I insuranced up to the highest degree, so we could ‘beat the tar out of the car!” Ken and I went to Oklahoma Joe’s just inside the Kansas State Line for lunch. While in this process, I had to get Air Miles on the phone to organize two more car rentals for the next week of the trip. I had been trying for over 2 hours in the previous two days, to get a customer representative on the phone to cash in my free car rental days. Wouldn’t you know that at the last possible time I could book the reservations the operator finally took my details down! I now had car rentals for Oakland and Cincinnati comped for free.
Ken and I also had to face a bit of bad luck when Ken’s GPS tracker started failing on day one. The plug in was fried and it was not working. Between the both of us we had the wherewithal to realize how to navigate our way to Kauffman Stadium. You just had to hit I-70 all the way. We were at the park by 5 PM. Ken has a handicapped parking placard and as such we were going to use it to our advantage at any time we needed it. For Kauffman’s general parking this worked out perfectly. I grabbed us the cheapest ticket for the game versus the Jays(not aided by a 30% dynamic pricing tactic the team implored). Still we were happy to be at Kauffman Stadium. It was $1 hot dog, peanuts and pop night. I stocked up on the food knowing the next time I ate was likely the next day.
Ken and I snapped pictures before checking out the bar in left field. Ken has some bad early trip luck with a stale premium beer and a watered down pop. These things happen sometimes. By game time, we sat in the bar stools hovering over the left center field wall. The water falls were directly to our left if we were looking towards home. We were awake for the game. In the first few innings not much really happened and then Wham! The Royals hit a double, and then a guy was walked before Ken and I saw a triple-play!! It was hard for us to be verified on this as we collected our thoughts. We were pretty sure, however there was not scoreboard notification and not one of the people in attendance clapped. The fact the outcome did not produce a buzz within the park made it harder for us to be sure of what we saw. A bunch of our baseball park chasers confirmed this for us via twitter. Ah..the social media has struck yet again.
Toronto took a lead into the 9th inning. Ken and I were actually sweating the outcome of this game because it was nearing the 10:30 PM range. We had time to get to Chicago yes, but I was dead tired to begin driving and would need pockets of quick rests. We also had to drive this truck to O Hare Airport and then organize a car flip flop where Ken was going to be the driver for a full size car from a different car rental company. This seems to have been happening throughout my entire trip. I was ready. Ken left in the 8th inning. When the last pitch was done, I was out of there lickety split! We were given a reprieve by the fireworks shooting in the air and people wanting to stay and witness them.
MLB Park # 20 Day # 16
CIN 2 @ CHC 6
The night drive to Chicago started off haywire. At least we were smart enough to abandon the Google Maps directions in which it had about 9 turns before a proper highway. Ken and I realized I would not have gone 9-9 and we would have lost any time made up. We opted for the I-70 East to I-55 East 1-2 combo. The rental truck was showing PSI troubles with two tires. I knew this to be just neglect from the lot guys not checking the tire pressure. No one ever takes ownership of these vehicles and eventually the tires lose air. Ken thought I was just a wayward driver. Once we had that problem resolved the energy drinks started flowing. I was a lot more tired than I thought and was worried about my ability to set forth on this long drive. It is a mental and physical grind going through the rigors of marathon like this.
I have dealt with travel fatigue before. I know all of the tricks to stay awake. I chewed gum, froze myself with air conditioning, listened to comedy radio just to laugh and keep focused. It was all I could do to keep moving forward. Looking back now, I should have had Ken as an extra driver for this mission. For $10, it could have been different. I wasted that much money in Lizzard Fuel via energy drinks. I persevered and came up with a bunch of energy once the sunlight hit. By the time we hit Chicago traffic it was 8:45 AM. Ken and I had a great game plan for O Hare Airport. I dropped him off at the rental car shuttle zone-and braved security yelling at me (and other people being mad) to get Ken as close to the shuttle as possible. I then backtracked to the Alamo return site. I had been there only 6 days previous with my National Car Rental car from Minnesota. I cleared out the Truck and headed up on the shuttle. About 2 minutes after I was dropped off, Ken came driving into the same area I dropped him off. Some quick yelling at us again did not make us turn angry. We started out for Wrigley Field!
I told Ken that money for parking this day was not an issue. He parked at the Taco Bell across the street for $35. This was the right move. Never had I seen a parking spot so close. We headed over the bar across from the bleacher entrance called Murphy’s where we met up with Bob Devries. I had finally met Bob after nearly 2 and-a-half years after we almost met in Florida. It was nice to finally talk in person. Bob took my doubleheader attempt like it was life or death. He had mapped out a getaway exit and found a situational parking spot. There was an alley, a boulevard, a drive and a game plan similar to the BLUES BROTHERS. All we needed was for the Chicago Cubs to cooperate.
Our tickets were in the right center field bleachers section and we chose the last row to sit on, Wrigley Field still maybe the greatest place to watch a game live. We are talking about no frills, very little commercialism and that green ivy just sells the park as a baseball purist could attest to. The Cincinnati Reds scored a run to take the lead early. This Reds team features some prolific hitters in the lineup. Joey Votto might also be the best all-around player in the league right now. The Cubs fans were treated to an offensive explosion in the bottom of the 6th when the home club north siders tacked on a 6 run inning. The game was not in doubt after this. I was just praying for a quick resolution and little traffic between Illinois and Wisconsin.
A funny thing that happened while we were waiting for the game to end, a friend of a guy was collecting money in order for his buddy to pay the ultimate price of dousing his head with a helmet full of nachos. The friend has gone to all of the bleacher creatures and had raised $254. The crowd was sparsely chanting ‘nachos.’ Security was alerted to the side affair going on and was watching for any sign to kick people out. The raised funds were finally placed in a jar and the buddy rammed his friends cap down on his head and the nachos flung over his hair. I think this was partially a scam since the food didn’t cascade down the hair an ears on his clothes. It was a funny occurrence and we left the area. We were 4 large men leaving at the same time. We had been occupying almost an entire row. Because of this, we had taking the brunt of a fierce cold wind that was sweeping in through the concourse. When we left, the 6 girls in front of us all were hit with a sudden chill. It was just another routine day in the bleachers.
The game ended in decent fashion and I raced out to where Bob was parked to start heading towards Miller Park.
MLB Park # 21 Day # 16
COL 3 @ MIL 9
It was so easy that it actually took the adrenaline kick out of the entire experience. We made it to Miller Park by 4:30. They hadn’t even opened the gates for the general public yet. We didn’t speed. It took us 1 hour and 45 minutes to drive to our destination like the maps said it would. Bob also was able to pass all of the tolls very quickly with his EZ PASS. Ken Lee had left the Cubs game at the 8th inning and was first on the tailgating scene. I am still so impressed that not only does Miller Park encourage tailgating on their premises, but they give away a free beer fridge to the best tailgate party in their parking lot. Oh yeah… They also give away a bushel full of beer in this said fridge.
We entered Miller Park and headed straight up to the clubs eats. Bob Devries wife Charlie made me the most incredible sandwich this day and I was feeling pretty good with a full stomach. It was yet another example of a bunch of people hosting me in their city and making me feel at home. I was well taken care of in both of these cities. It is all unique to the game of baseball, that all of us have met through our passion for the game. All of the friends I have made in my adult life tend to be surrounding the fandom of baseball. Our seats were nicely situated in the club level. Even for 4 big guys like us, we were able to sit comfortably.
I was a little too comfortable and passed out for a couple of innings. I am not ashamed to admit this. After 45000 Airmiles and nearly another 4000 miles on the road, I am entitled to be tired. This happens for 2 or3 games for every streak. Luckily for me I awoke when my name was flashed on the scoreboard as a special guest. I also never really missed anything. Drew Pomeramz had been flirting with a perfect game early on, only to have imploded in the 6th inning onwards. Ryan Braun destroyed a pitch over the wall and continued to serve notice that he will be okay this year. His homerun traveled 440 Feet.
The game was dragging on well past the 3 hour mark. Having been on the go for nearly 40 hours straight, Ken and I made yet another exit strategy since we wanted to capitalize on any sleep we could muster from the Priceline hotel we had waiting for us.
When the game ended I ran out to where Ken was parked. It completely benefitted us that Ken used his handicapped placard. We navigated a dedicated line out using the handicapped parking spaces. Despite the constant road repair that was presented to us in driving to the 94 West, we managed to get out of the area pretty much unscathed.
On the way to the hotel we even found a Wendy’s restaurant to further help our hunger cause. On this night, we stayed at an American Best Value Inn. It was a cheap alternative to spend just four or five hours. 3 AM was going to arrive mighty early. I was scheduled to catch a ride with Bob Devries to Detroit city. In a most awesome gesture, Bob offered to drive me to the Michigan because it was kind of track for him to drive home to Columbus. Ken Lee was very happy with this because he is completing his own version of all 30 MLB Parks and was slated to hang out at Target Field next. This was not my original city on this day. When the schedule was first posted I was supposed to fly to Phoenix. I was able to retro-activate Phoenix when all that San Diego mess came about. I moved Cleveland to team up with an easier doubleheader opportunity in coming from Pittsburgh. This moved Detroit into this slot. I did have one-way car rental free day in reserve, however Bob helping me out with the transportation made way to use this free day on another special occasion.
*** Thank you to our Baseball Writer Chuck Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports. To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Chuck Booth, you can follow Chuck on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and you can also follow Chuck’s website for his Guinness Book of World Record Bid to see all 30 MLB Park in 23 days click here or on the 30 MLB Parks in 23 days GWR tracker at the Reports click here. To Purchase or read about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book please click here ***
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Posted on April 24, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged america value best inn, ATL, Atlanta, Best Western, blue jays, bob devries, braves, brewers, busch stadium, chicago, Chuck Booth, cincinnati, colorado, cubs, detroit, Doug Miller, drew pomeranz, fastest 30 ballgames, felix hernandez, fll, Fort Lauderdale, hanley ramirez, Illinois, jair jurrjens, jason bay, joey votto, josh johnson, Kansas city, ken lee, Lori Martini, mariners, Marysville, miami, miller park, milwaukee, National Car Rental, New Marlins Ball Park, O hare airport, oklahoma joes, Phoenix, popeyes chicken, priceline, r.a. dickey, rays, reds, rockies, royals, ryan braun, safeco field, San Diego, seattle, St. Louis, Stl-Lambert Int', target field, tigers, turner field, Wisconsin, wrigley field. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.