Day 3 of the trip was still in Chicago. There was some more sightseeing, and at night I was going here:
U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox. As I do with any new stadium, I was taking a trip around to see the atmosphere, what the stadium looked like, and anything else that might catch my eye. It was also incredibly hot today, but there was a ton of wind so it felt good. Also in the future, if anyone plans to take the CTA to the game like I did, the “Sox – 35th” station is closed for repairs. So, you have to get off at the “35th – Bronzeville” stop and walk a few extra blocks. No big deal. I continued approaching the stadium:
As you can see, it was just buzzing. To the right is some sort of Chicago sports bar, but I walked right past it. I walked past the ticket windows:
As I passed that, a guy and his wife/girlfriend walked by wearing a “30 stadiums – conquer the dream” shirt. He was hitting all 30 this year. That takes a lot of time, money, and effort, so good for them. I also noticed that they put up the starting lineup outside, similar to Citi Field:
After that, I continued my way around to an area called Champions Plaza (even though the White Sox have 1 championship in the last 89 years, but I digress – ):
And of course, I was excited to knock off another stadium:
I made my way around to the first base side of the stadium:
…and to be honest, I wasn’t wowed by the place. I mean, yea, it was nice… but maybe because I did Wrigley first over this park, I was so used to the awesomeness of Wrigley that this just couldn’t compare. Who knows? Everyone in town was telling me that the Cell was beautiful, but I just didn’t really think it was that great. I wrapped around the park past the stadium club:
And wound up here:
I wanted to keep going, but really couldn’t see where or how to get around. I saw a little passageway to my right, but there was a line of people waiting to use a port-o-potty. I wasn’t using one, so I walked past them, and then got stopped by 2 security guards. They told me I couldn’t walk all the way around. Whatever. I’ve never seen a stadium where you couldn’t walk all the way around, until now. Instead, I posted up here:
Gates were opening in about 30 minutes. The White Sox are one of those teams that does the 90 minutes prior to game time opening, which is stupid because by the time I got inside, the White Sox were already done hitting. How is that fun for the hometown fans?
Here were my options:
Either go right, to the bullpen sports bar, have limited room to run but be right up on the fence, or try my luck in the seated areas behind. I chose to go left, up the ramp, and when the gates opened I did about 3 quick flights of ramps and ran down to the right field seats. When I got there, I was greeted by this guy:
Hooray for Easter eggs. I was 30 seconds inside, and I was on the board. Which is always great. It takes the pressure off my streak having to continue, now I could just enjoy being there and whatever else happened, happened. About 45 seconds later, Jacoby Ellsbury lined one deep into right center, and it slammed into the seats. I was trying to look for it, and an usher placing All-Star Game voting pamphlets helped me look, as well. I combed the rows twice over, and eventually found the ball. Here is where it was:
Here was my view of the field, the Red Sox were just kinda hanging around:
And to give you an idea of what I was up against, here was my view to the right:
That guy in the picture was probably the most annoying ballhawk I’ve encountered. He wasn’t giving anyone space, and he was only there for BP and then was going home. Every time I looked, he was right on me. Here’s a look at the space between the seats and the outfield wall:
You can use a glove trick, if you have it. I had mine, but there wasn’t a single ball to retrieve. I moved over to straightaway right field, in this area:
…where I missed not one, not two, but THREE homers. One fell short, the second bounced on the pavement, up towards me, and bounced off a railing (I missed this one because I let a kid have a chance at it), and the last one just missed my outstretched glove and someone behind me got it. If only I was taller….
Here’s a shot of me during the rest of BP:
(I’m in the grey and red.)
I tried a little longer for a toss up from John Lackey and Ryan Dempster, but got nowhere. After BP, Jon Lester was warming up in the right field corner, and I was there:
Here’s a good shot Natalie got of Lester:
See the bullpen catcher, Martinez? Has anyone else had a tough time with him? You talk to him and he acts like you don’t exist. Not just me, little 7-year olds, too. He also walks around like he thinks his you-know-what-don’t-stink. You’re a bullpen catcher, dude. Get off your high horse.
Here’s a better look at the bullpen sports bar:
You don’t need a ticket for here. It’s first come first serve. As it should be.
And the retired numbers (they used to have homages on the outfield walls, but those are gone now):
All the pregame ballhawking was done, so it was time to explore. Just a reminder, you need a 100 level ticket to even get down there for BP. They have guys checking tickets at the ramps before you even see the concourse. We headed up the ramp to the top of the stadium:
…looking out over lovely Chicago:
…until I got to the top:
And my panoramic photo (you know the routine by now):
Then I moved over to the furthest seat away at the top of the left field corner for a better view:
Looking down on some batting cages and fan friendly areas which weren’t getting used at all:
I did, however, like this shot:
But this is how I felt so far:
…not impressed. Seems I’m not the only one who was dissatisfied with this area, check it out:
…it wasn’t me, I swear.
Take a look at how crowded the concourse up there was:
So now that you can see how crowded it was, the usher guarding the left field corner ramps refused to let us down. I needed a ticket. When I asked for what, he just said “Sir, you need a ticket.” I don’t get it. So we had to walk all the way back around back to behind home plate, where we got greeted by another guard on the ramp checking 100 level tickets. Sheeeez.
On the way to our seats, we passed the “Social Media Center,” or whatever it was called, which was just a room of people on their phones, and this dog, who looked like a pig and was passed out on the floor:
…your guess is as good as mine.
We stopped to snap a shot with Frank Thomas:
…and to visit the old Comiskey Park shower:
Apparently it’s an old stall from the old Comiskey Park, and you can shower with cold water on hot days. I was sweaty, but didn’t feel like sitting in wet clothes all night.
Heres the concourse behind the batters eye:
It’s… different.. from other parks I’ve been to at least. Usually the scoreboards are just up on the wall above the seats. Interesting design. I passed some more statues:
And on the way to our seats, Adam Dunn hit a 3-run homer right where we were sitting. Awesome. Eventually, we got to our seats:
…and later moved here because of people who literally got up every half inning. Honestly, did you go to the game to do a 12 course meal sampling or to watch a ballgame? I’ll never understand it. I hate to miss an inning. Worst part was, the people were rude. Whatever. I took an artistic shot:
And in the top of the 9th, I squeaked my way down here:
And after Addison Reed got the final out for the save I was in the front row:
…and got ignored by all of the players, umpires, and coaching staff.
And here I am with my “stadium sign” photo:
Number 11, sweet. As you can see, I have a death grip on the sign. The wind was picking up fiercely, and the tarp was being rolled onto the field. When we left the stadium, the thunder started rumbling, and as we looked back at the cell, you could literally see the wall of rain rolling towards us in the lights, and it started raining on us. Definitely good timing. I also forgot to take a picture of the balls afterwards. On to Milwaukee!
- 2 balls at this game
- 103 career balls
- 24 straight MLB games with a ball
I got to Citi Field early Tuesday, and as I went to pick up my ticket, I was disappointed to see this:
WTF, Mets? Instead of getting on line, I had to wait here:
and after what seemed like an hour, I finally got my ticket, and got in line. What was encouraging was that there were no other ballhawks in sight. The competition might not be so bad tonight. After running out to left field, the action was kind of…well… dead. After about 15 minutes though, I got reliever Scott Rice to toss me ball #1 on the day:
See #62? That’s Jose Quintana, and he threw me my 2nd ball of the day. I rounded the bend and hit left field, but the players weren’t throwing anything up much, and the hitters were doing a lot of bunting and slap hitting drills:
That was my 3rd ball of the day, and my 1st Easter egg. It was weird finding it this late into BP (The Sox took away the cages early and were practicing infield drills). Then, I noticed this on the scoreboard (even though I knew this beforehand): Pretty cool. I killed some time on my phone until the players came out for pregame tossing: … and was pretty much uncontested and got Jeff Keppinger to toss me ball #4 on the night. Here was my “seat” for the night:
Matt Harvey was pitching, but to be honest, I was wiped out. I’ve been really tired from grad school finals week, plus I had to pick my grandma up in the Bronx. So, for the 1st time in a very long time, I left a game early. I knew I’d regret it, too. Harvey went 9 innings, and struck out twelve while only giving up one hit. I should’ve stayed. I stayed for one inning to try and get a gamer, which I was also uncontested, so I know that if I stayed all night I would’ve gotten one. Oh well. I’ll be back there Sunday vs. Pittsburgh.I took one last photo outside with my haul for the night:
And then I grabbed some delicious Bronx pizza, my grandma, and then I headed home.
- 4 balls at this game
- 10 balls this season
- 91 career balls
- 20 straight MLB games with a ball
I also blacklighted these balls, and only one had a stamp that was visible. The other 3 were decently worn. Check it out:
I’ll be at Citi Sunday. Are you going? Let me know, come say hi to me.
Following Marlins Park on 5/24/12, later on the vacation the stadium tours continued with Tropicana Field. The day started with a early drive from Miami to St. Petersburg. The game was at 3:10 which was good, because we didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to drive up. I was a little apprehensive from a ballhawking standpoint because A: It was a holiday. B: There would be way too many kids there. But it was the only day that worked out for us, so I just had to deal. Eventually, after several pit stops, we saw this on the horizon:
Must be something in Florida that possesses people to make their stadiums look like spaceships, I’m not sure. As we approached the exit, we noticed something cool:
The columns on the side walls of the Trop are baseball bats. Cool.
Once you enter the parking lot, there is a long walkway that takes you across a little moat-like bridge to the main gate.
It’s so ugly, it’s beautiful. It’s got Florida written all over it.
Here I am at the main gate:
I gotta be honest, I never imagined myself actually getting on a plane (my 1st time was this trip, mind you) and going to both parks and just doing my own thing for once. It was very liberating.
Here’s a cool shot of the main gate-tower thing :
And as I like to do for all the stadiums I visit, I like to take a lap around and check out the scene and look for cool stuff. I probably should have gone to the Trop before Marlins Park, because Marlins Park made the Trop look like a mausoleum.
Here’s a unused ticket booth area:
It was very very muggy and hot, it was gross. Natalie wasn’t having it…
…so once we finished our lap she sat in the shade while I waited in line to snag.
This was pretty much the extent of the lap around the park. Calm yourself folks, it’s exciting:
Here’s a random pillar stuck in the middle of nowhere on the back end of the park:
The one cool thing I made sure to look for was the baseball storm drains. I had read about it on Zack Hample’s blog a few months back when I was looking for tips about the park. It had rained the night before, so I finally found one that wasn’t full of water:
Cool cool. We made it back to the front of the stadium, and I came across the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame near the team store.
If I had time, I wanted to check it out. Here is the team store itself:
Now get this: the team store opens when the gates open. Tell me how that makes sense. Countless people walked up to the store only to pull on locked doors and walk away mad. A ballpark’s #1 priority should be fan happiness. I for one, was pissed because I make it part of my 1st-time-at-a-stadium experience to mess around in the team store and try on the jerseys and see if there are any unique things they have to buy. Now if I wanted to go in the store, it would cut into snagging time, or I would have to wait until after the game when everyone goes and it would be crowded.
Nevertheless, I was first in line at the gate. Natalie hung off to the side because it was hot, and the woman standing next to me actually fainted because she was hot. The medics rushed over and checked her out, but she was okay. It was sort of scary at the time. I met a great older couple who lives in Tampa Bay, who shared stories of their Rays games (they were long time season ticket holders), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers games. They were talking to me about New York and how crowded the stadiums are, and trust me I had no problem complaining from a snagging standpoint 🙂 The gates opened on time and I was greeted with a heaven-sent blast of ice cold air conditioning…
The gate I was at was weird, it was actually positioned in Center Field. So I ran up the bleacher steps and found myself standing here when I was greeted to the field:
There was no music playing, and as you can see I was one of the first people inside, so when I was yelling out to players, my voice was actually echoing off the 1st base wall and coming back to me. It was pretty cool. Here I am attempting to snag:
Now, the one thing that got me mad was that it was quiet, so the White Sox could definitely hear me. And just like the Giants, they threw NOTHING up. Perhaps I brought bad snagging mojo down from New York with me, who knows. I felt like I would have to rely on catching a ball in the air (Something I’ve yet to do) to get a ball here.
Heres how it looked on the CF/LF side:
And believe it or not, that was about it for BP. I came close to some on-the-fly homers, but once again got goose-egged. (curse you, Florida!)
It was time to explore. Since I was on vacation, I wasn’t that mad at all. If I was in New York, I’d be hella pissed.
Here’s how the concourses look at the Trop:
I thought this was pretty cool:
On our way to our seats I remembered that I neglected to take pictures when I first came in to the ballpark. Heres how the atrium looks when you first enter:
I thought it looked pretty cool.
Around the concourse on the walls, the Rays have murals honoring Tampa-area baseball players and Rays events in a comic-book style art:
There were a few more pictures I took, but I showed the Boggs picture because I thought he was a great hitter.
Here’s a better birds eye view of the concourse:
We headed up to the top of the stadium for my customary picture:
Not a bad view, actually. Here’s what it looked like to the right:
(Me being ever-so-jubilant). And the left:
If you’ve never seen it before, teams do this because these seats don’t normally sell, and the teams like to put the tarps up so fans sit together and make the stadium look more aesthetically pleasing.
And here I am with my sign:
In case you haven’t read my other posts, the 9 stands for the number of stadiums I’ve visited. So far I’m up to 9 (New Yankee, CitiField, Fenway, Baltimore, Washington, Toronto, Montreal, Miami, Tampa). I’ve also been to Old Yankee and Shea, but am counting them separately for now. I can’t take pictures there because they are both demolished.
We walked around to the left field party deck:
The concourse up here had a weird old-time neighborhood to it, it just didn’t fit in my opinion, there were too many different styles going on here. We also met a family from St. Louis who couldn’t find their way downstairs, and somehow I managed to direct them in the right direction.
Since I like to explore every part of a stadium when I go, I decided I would sacrifice about 30 minutes of the game to spend some time here:
The Rays have a “Touch Tank”, which, according to them, is this:
“The Rays Touch Tank, presented by the Florida Aquarium, is the first of its kind at a professional sports venue. The 35-foot, 10,000 gallon tank is located just beyond the right-center field fence at Tropicana Field. The Rays Touch Tank experience is free to all fans attending home games. For every ball hit into the tank during a game by a Rays player, the Rays will donate $5,000 to charity with $2,500 going to the Florida Aquarium and $2,500 going to that player’s charity of choice. To make it most convenient for all fans, there is a limit of 50 people in the tank area at any time.”
Good info to know. I wonder how many (if any) players have successfully hit a home run into the Ray tank. Rumor has it Aubrey Huff did it once back in his Devil Rays heyday. That last part mentions 50 people at a time, so we had to wait a little bit. The game had started, but there were plenty of TV’s to watch. Normally I HATE missing any part of the game, but this was an exception.
Before you enter the touch tank area, there is a little 5-minute class on how to touch the Rays. Here is the class in a nutshell:
Make sure to NOT touch the Rays in the “strike zone”. The friendly host we had explained that it is the equivalent of spraying bug spray up a human’s nose. Ouch. So DON’T DO IT! 🙂
Once the class was over, here’s what we saw:
All cool stuff. At first I was afraid to touch the Rays, but then I finally did. Only because Natalie did first, so I couldn’t look like a wimp. If I had to describe it, I would compare it to touching a really wet raw steak. But it was cool. And you only get about 5 minutes in there, so before you know it, It’s over. It was finally time to get to our seats.
What a privilege it is to be outside of NYC: These tickets cost us $25.00…. Yea. Yankee Stadium will run you about $200 for these bad boys. The game was going by really quick. A.J. Pierzynski was set on throwing 3rd out balls to scantily clad women in the 2nd row. And there was a 6 or 7 year old kid who was running down to get 3rd out balls, so I wasn’t about to compete with that and get booed. I was just enjoying the game and snapping pics. Here’s a cool pic of the roof:
A cool action pic:
And right after I took this pic of Adam Dunn, he blasted a home run that smacked off the back wall in right field:
That was all the White Sox needed, as both pitchers dueled to a 2-1 White Sox final. Chris Sale went 7 1/3 innings for Chicago, with FIFTEEN strikeouts, and Tampa’s Matt Moore countered with ten. Here’s the line score:
I was hoping the game would have went to extras and lasted longer, since I drove 4 hours to get there. But I was content. I tried to take my “9” picture down by the dugouts, but here’s why I didn’t keep it:
That lady on the right WOULD NOT move, at all. When she finally did, I had these guys ruining the picture:
Like they never saw anyone taking a picture before. Sheesh.
Here’s a shot of me and Natalie:
I’ll give her credit on this trip, not many ladies are willing to follow their boyfriends around baseball stadiums for entire days on vacation. So thanks. Lastly, here’s my overall assessment of Tropicana Field:
C. It’s ugly, it’s large, in the middle of nowhere, and most importantly, I didn’t snag any balls.
- 0 balls snagged at this game 😦
- White Sox record when I attend: 1-0
- Tampa record when I attend: 3-6
My next post will be on the 7/21 Met game I attended. Thanks for reading.