i usually don't share many personal photos on the site, and i'm not sure i've ever included one of myself or family before, but whatever - here you go. (this will be a long post).
#1 Wrigley Field, Chicago
#2 (old) Busch Stadium, Saint Louis
#3 Miller Park, Milwaukee
#4 Chase Field, Phoenix*
#5 Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis
#6 Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City
Royals vs Reds
*toured stadium but did not watch game
the latest stop on our ongoing "MLB ballparks of America" project unfortunately could not be attended by the usual suspects of coach, chad, kevin, and (sometimes) tim. yes, this time around it was just kelly and i, but no worries - we of course had a blast on our own. and besides, the best part of the trip was that kel's sister "Prez" (short for P.O.T.M.P.F.C. — don't ask) lives in downtown kansas city, which meant we had one of our favorite people on the planet to hang out with for 72 hours.
we started off by getting a tour of her downtown apartment building. she lives right in the thick of it, which is something neither kelly nor i did when we lived in chicago. her place is gorgeous — exposed brick, 15 foot high ceilings, a full workout room and lounge in the basement, and access to the rooftop patio. as always, click on any image for a larger view. check it out...
after a general introduction to her neighborhood, we decided it was time for food. of course if you're in kansas city, you have to get bbq at least once during your visit. the last time we were in town, we ate at Jack Stack , which is friggin great, but we wanted to do something less... "structured." not less classy or anything like that, just something more down-home. Prez suggested Gates. she told us to beware that we had better know what we wanted before we stepped inside, because the place was famous for wait staff that yelled at you, or just kind of yelled in general. we weren't sure if we should be expecting the rude-on-purpose style that some famous chicago eateries employ, but we were game, and we headed that way for dinner.
so... for the "review" portion of this entry, i'll just say, holy crap. i'm not especially well-versed when it comes to describing BBQ — dry vs sticky; sweet/tangy/spicy, but it was the best i have ever eaten. damn straight. the place is actually filled by really sweet — not rude — staff, and the yelling is more because of the madness that forms when the line gets up to the place where you order. in other words, it's not rudeness; it's just general loudness and mayhem. but we did well, and they seemed thankful that we paid attention to them and to what they needed to know from us (in contrast of the two folks in front of us). kel and i split a whole rack of ribs, some slaw, and some potato salad. Prez got the chicken dinner with a side of slaw. we all shared a mini sweet potato pie and a pitcher of beer. here are some pics:
Prez and i place our order
the plate my wife and i ordered up
kel getting into it. messy stuff.
sweet potato pie
it was damn good. one of the staff came over to chat us up, and she was sweet. yes it sounds cheesy, but i love it when food brings people of different backgrounds together.
that took care of the first night in town. saturday was filled with a walk down to the kansas city open-air market. it's filled with vendors on weekend mornings, where you can find everything from fresh, local fruits and veggies, to spices and meats unique to foreign lands. there was also a very packed dog park right next door, so i wandered around saying hi to some dogs and owners while my two cohorts grabbed our breakfast. there was a well-known dog rescue setting up shop in the park, which meant they were showing off three awesome little pups to potential adoptive families. a big "awwwww" moment for me because i have a huge soft spot for dogs.
before i share the pictures, i forgot to mention that we stopped at a downtown antique shop on our way to the market, and i bought an effing amazing find. coach, kev, and tim - you might be into this - i found an old ball glove from the 1940s at the latest (my guess), and a home-made looking catcher's mask from probably the same era. both were very reasonably priced. anyways... some pics of the market and dog park:
now onto the baseball...
Kauffman stadium is gorgeous. the additions to the park really make things nicer. no, i had not visited before they extended the outfield part of the stadium (allowing folks to walk around behind the waterfalls), but when you're there in person, you can't imagine the park without the additions. it was a really nice place. we arrived an hour before first pitch, so this gave us a lot of time to walk around the entire stadium while drinking some beers. the fountains are nice, there is a nice sculptural piece featuring a rendition of George Brett, there is a mini ballpark for kids to play at before the game, and there are plenty of modern bathrooms everywhere.
we took our seats in the 3rd row of the upper deck, and the view was excellent. after one half inning, i noticed that i was sitting next to a father and son duo who were donning Cincinnati ballcaps. i asked if they were from ohio or just local fans of the reds, and they said they drove in from ohio for the entire weekend series. i replied by saying we were from eastern iowa, and although technically neutral for the night's game, i had to root for the home team because we are cubs fans and we need to Reds to lose right now. he was a good sport, and we talked the rest of the night about the beauty of watching a game live versus on television — the nuances that you see going on while runners are on base, the way signs are relayed in via several steps, and other things like that. the gentleman told me he approached Dusty Baker before the game, and actually got Dusty to sign his baseball.
the seventh inning stretch portion of the game is not unlike most parks — they sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." between other innings, they do other fun things like the "kiss cam," a race of three lucky contestants that get to dress up in ketchup, mustard, and relish suits, and a fisheye "woooah, crazy big head" camera that warps the noggins of unsuspecting visitors and flashes their likeness on the jumbo-tron. none of us know why, but the latter item had us cracking up, wiping laughter tears off of our faces. it was probably the booze.
some pics of the park:
kel and Prez outside the main entrance to the park
the George Brett statue that resides beyond right-center field
the famous outfield fountains
the special mini field just for little tykes
the following photos are a general assortment showing the park from several views, a few of which are from our seats
it was awesome. we were sitting in PRIME foul ball territory, and although we saw 4 come our way, none were within reach of me. the furthest was about 30 seats away, and the closest was about 20 seats away. ah well.
i could go on about many other things we did while in town, and share many more photos of food and landmarks, but i'm exhausted and i need to hit the sack.
there you have it. i loves me some baseball more than most anything else in the world.