Road Trippin' With My Eight Favorite Allies
Got back late Sunday night from a four-day swing through four fine ballparks. Eight buddies and I ventured to Citizen's Bank Stadium in Philly for an afternoon game, followed by night games in Baltimore and Pittsbugh, and closed out the trip with a Sunday afternoon game in Cleveland, followed by a nine hour haul back to lovely CT.
I wish I could do it more justice, but I'm taking off to Denmark and Sweden to meet up with Ali and Andrew (two good high school buddies) for a week so I've got to list the highlights:
Best Stadium: Easily PNC Park in Pittsburgh. The food was nothing to write home about (the Primanti Brothers famous cheesesteak, coleslaw and fries sandwich was overrated) but the park is intimate, has a stunning backdrop of a surprisingly nice Pittsburgh skyline, is easily accessible by a walk over the Roberto Clemente bridge, has great pre-game activities for both families and imbibers, and has enthusiastic, knowledgeable fans. I was really impressed by this place.
Best food: I passed up a Philly cheesesteak at Pat's in Philly (which I've had before) so Pittsburgh's Original Hot Dog Shop (known as "The O") takes it. The fries here were the perfect way to finish off the night, and the unintential drunken antics proved to be hilarious.
Nicest tourist attraction: Baltimore's Inner Harbor was much nicer than I expected, providing access to many waterfront restaurants, an old submarine, the Baltimore Aquarium, and Camden Yards, among other things. We were also able to take a water taxi over to Fell's Point, where we finished the night at a bar with four rooms: a karaoke bar, a "library" room suitable for polite conversation, a sports bar, and a cigar bar with overstuffed leather charis.
Most surprising city:Philadelphia and Pittsburgh (tie). Philly really surprised me--my old prior experiences being super negative ones surrounding the Leafs and Flyers. The city charmed me, though, as Jodi, our co-worker and a Philly native, served as an admirable tour guide. The city is young, urban, and likes to have a good time. Mind you, I'm basing this on one night ;). Pittsburgh was clean, cheap, walkable, had some nice new buildings, a river, and a nice lil' ballpark. I could definitely go back.
Best (printable) story: I hate Philly fans. We were sitting beside a woman who brought a sign to the park that read "I Love Cameramen". Every half inning she would jump up, unfurl the sign, and shake what her mamma gave her in hopes of making in on the Jumbotron. When Ribs informed her, somewhere around the fourth inning, that he believed she had been on the Jumbotron the last inning, she turned to him and said:
"Shut up, bitch."
Ribs was flabbergasted, and said something like "excuse me?" to which she replied:
"F*ck off, bitch."
Ribs, recovering a little from the shock, says something like "Ma'am, I was just letting you know that you were on the scoreboard last inning," to which she deals the crowning blow:
"Bite me, bitch."
The rest of the crew was in hysterics at this point, and Ribs zipped it before the potty-mouthed Philly fan rained more hurt down on the good Canadian boy.
Two other items of note involved a home run ball landing two seats away from me (the closest a ball's ever landed to me), and Travis almost goosing the woman who's seat it landed in... and my first taste of scrapple. WTF is scrapple, you ask (I did)? The friendly waitresses served us up a batch for free, without really defining what it is, other than to tell us that if they told us what was in it, we wouldn't want to eat it. According to La Casa De Scrapple, scrapple is:
Scrapple, on the other hand, is an amalgamation of tendons, cartilage, feet, skin, ears, nose, gums and more. In short, it's all the garbage that should be thrown away.
Dear god. I feel ill.
Eating terrible food aside, here's what I love most about travelling: the random encounters with interesting people that may not even make for a good story, but that force me to operate out of my comfort zone. It's far too easy to be content in this little rural ESPN universe without trying new things or meeting new people, and that's something I need to be reminded about every so often.
It's a good feeling to try new things, and I'm looking forward to more in Denmark and Sweden.