Over the next few days the Sports Junkie will be busy. We are leaving tonight to go on a baseball roadtrip. Stops will include Midway Stadium (home of the St. Paul Saints), the Metrodome (for a Sox/Twins game), and on the way home a game at Miller Park (Brewers/Dodgers). The following is just my little way of getting pumped up for the trip. I have been to all three stadiums, but with regrets each time of things that I did not see. This time I will take care of all of those.
In 2005 I knew that I was leaving Iowa soon, and that I needed to hit some of the stadiums in striking distance before they became farther away. One of those stadiums was Midway stadium. With all of the publicity surrounding the Saints, this was on my wishlist anyway. As you can see by the picture they had a seat with my name on it waiting for me (Remember they say the camera adds ten pounds). The Saints are known for their gimmicks during the game. Owner Mike Veeck is the son of former Sox owner Bill Veeck (as in Wreck). He has brought his fathers sense of showmanship to St. Paul. They have everything that you could ask for at the game. A pig even brings the balls out to the umpire between innings. They are now training a young pig “Slumhog Millionaire” to do just that task. “Boarack Ohama” the last ball pig must have met an untimely end. Besides Veeck another one of the owners of the team is actor Bill Murray. He has been an owner since the team resurfaced as part of the Northern League in 1993. On opening night in St. Paul he was selling programs out front of the stadium, throwing out the first pitch, and even coaching first and third base. The man is a phenomenon. We are going to the game on German night. I don’t know what that will mean for our group. Hopefully they do not find out that I am Polish.
I made my first trip to the Metrodome in 2004. I saw two games in two days in a great environment. I wrote about the games in a previous article on here. Follow the link if you missed it the first time. In the first game Brad Radke was on the mound. On Saturday night he will be on the field again to be inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame. For some reason I have always admired Radke. He came to work every 5th day, and gave it everything that he had. I was able to see him pitch several times in his career. It always seemed like he came up in the rotation when I was going to be at the game. That night in the dome he was matched up against Neil Cotts. The result should be obvious.
This will more than likely be my last time in the Metrodome. They are going to tear it down at the end of the season. Part of me will miss it. It was so different than the other stadiums that I grew up with. The part of me that is a Sox fan though will be glad to see it go. No more running the air system to help your own team. The pitching matchup will be Gavin Floyd going against Nick Blackburn. The last time I saw Blackburn pitch was at the one game playoff last September. He was tough that night only allowing one run, and has been pitching decent of late. Floyd could either pitch a no-hitter, or get bombed. He has great stuff, and when he is on he is one of the best out there. Hopefully he has it on Saturday. My goal is to get a ball from the field with the commemorative logo on it. With my track record that could be hard to do.
In 2003 I was bored on a rain day so I drove up to Milwaukee to catch a Brewers/Red Sox game. It was pouring down rain so I did not get to really tour the outside of the stadium. I have always regretted that. I was able to see the game though thanks to a retractable roof. This is a great stadium, but it is missing the charm of old County Stadium. The game that I saw had the obligitory stadium packed with Red Sox fans. I had a group that came from Boston to Milwaukee for the game, and a bachelor party. Those fans went crazy when Manny Ramirez hit a solo shot to tie the game in the 6th inning. Those same fans took a beating when the Brewers answered with five in the bottom of the same inning. One of those runs was a shot off the top of the center field scoreboard by Richie Sexson. That may be the longest home run that I have ever seen in person. I have seen Sammy crank some out of Wrigley, but this was a bomb. The game also marked the first time that I would see Scott Podsednik play the game of baseball. He went 1-4 with a single and a run scored in the game. He was still a couple years away from fame in Chicago. I had a great time at the game, and can only hope this game against the Dodgers will match up to that. Another reason to get excited about the game is the fact that the fans entering the ball park get a Brewers key chain. Not really. The real reason that I am excited is that my terrible streak of not getting a ball at the park might be ending. I have a strategy. There is a fellow blogger out there who ball hawks at Brewers games among others. His name is the Happy Youngster, and he gained some noteriety at a Brewers/Marlins game earlier this year. I will let you read about that on his blog. Anyway he pulls many balls every game he goes to. Maybe if I can find him this streak will end. It would be about time. The pitching matchup here is scheduled to be Clayton Kershaw against Yovani Gallardo. This is a matchup of the Brewers ace of the first half against one of the Dodgers up and coming arms. It was not too long ago that Kershaw was pitching up in Michigan for the Great Lakes Loons in the Midwest League. This should be a great game to watch. Could it be the game of the weekend?