Baseball’s Best Burger

Thanks to a post on Bus Leagues Baseball I see that the show Man vs. Food will be visiting three Minor League parks tonight. Two of the three parks I have been to. I have visited Fifth Third Field in Michigan, but I have not tried their monster burger yet. I have however tried the Baseball’s Best Burger at GCS Ballpark in Sauget, IL. When I made my initial visit to the stadium this August I met a very nice woman who worked at the stadium and suggested some things for me to see and do around the stadium. Most of those suggestions I will talk about more in my stadium guide that is way overdue. The one thing that she told me about that shocked me was this burger. She said it was baseball’s best burger, but what does that mean? What makes it so much better? She said it was a bacon cheeseburger (that is normal) with a Krispy Kreme bun (come again?). From the minute she told me about it I was intrigued. I even went to the one stand in the stadium that makes them (in left field if you get the chance) to get a look at it. They told me that the only way that I could see one is if I bought it. I made a quick call to check if my insurance was up to date, and I ordered the burger. I also asked if they knew CPR before I started this thing. It did not sound good so I told myself that I would just have a couple of bites before getting some real food. I went to a seat (I think you must sit down to eat the burger), and unwrapped the delicacy. It really looked like something that could kill me. I snapped a quick picture in case the people at the hospital would need to now the cause of death. I took my first bite half expecting to go into a diabetic coma. When the food hit my taste buds I knew that I would eat the whole thing. A couple of bites into the burger my fingers were covered in the glaze/grease from the burger, but that did not slow me down. I had the thing down in seconds. I was going to take a picture of the burger a couple of bites in, but I decided that I wanted to use my phone again so I decided the one picture would be enough. I finished the burger quickly, and debated having another. As much as I made this burger sound like it could kill you I am alive exactly a month later with no real side effects. The only real difference that I have found is my desire to see more games at GCS Ballpark. I would not eat these everyday, but I would find a way to get the occasional one down. So I will skip the usual if you are in the area, and go with the if you are within a two state radius try this thing. The people at the stadium are great and will guide you in the right direction.

Luck of the Irish

Yesterday I posted the game preview for the Notre Dame game against the Purdue Boilermakers. When I did that I thought that it would be a blowout in favor of the Irish, but I hoped that it would be a close game. I had no idea that I would see one of the better games in the matchup in my brief history with it. When we walked into the stadium we knew right away what a big game that we were going to see. Purdue had designated the game a ‘blackout’ game. That is where they sell special black shirts to the fans to try and get a sea of black in the crowd. The team did its own part as well wearing the usual black home jersey with the black away pants. They have not had much luck with this look, but it really looks great especially at night. The Boilers struck early when Aaron Valentin drug Irish defenders into the end zone for a 36 yard score to put Purdue up 7-0. Both teams traded futile drives until the Irish kicked a field goal to bring the score to within four. In the second quarter Golden Tate took the helm of the Wildcat offense and led the Irish to two straight touchdown drives to give the Irish a 17-7 lead. With about eight minutes left in the third quarter the Irish got the ball with good field position. I knew that a score would break the backs of the Purdue faithful as well as the team. The Irish went three and out again to keep the Boilers in the game. With the third quarter winding down the Boilers were threatening to score. I was very nervous because I had a feeling that Joe Tiller would pump up the crowd and lead them in Shout just before the fourth quarter. A score right after that would send the crowd into a frenzy. The Boilers did score just after Coach Joe pumped up the crowd and the stadium went into a frenzy. Keith Smith capped a great night by catching a 3 yard touchdown pass to bring Purdue to within three. Joey Elliot found a wide open Jaycen Taylor for a 38 yard touchdown with 3:41 left in the game to give the Boilers the 31-17 lead. For some reason there was not an Irish player on the side of the field with Taylor. The closest player was the safety in the middle who fell as soon as Taylor caught the ball. Jaycen walked into the end zone, and gave the crowd hope. The crowd also gained hope when Jimmy Clausen walked onto the field to quarterback the Irish. To that point in the game I don’t think that the Irish gained a first down with him at quarterback. With help from a couple of penalties he took the Irish into Purdue territory with time running out. After a run play the Irish had 26 seconds on the clock with the ball carrier being held down when for some reason the Boilers called time out. The Irish had no timeouts left, and would have to clock the ball or get a quick play off to have a chance. Visions of 1999 were flashing through my head when the Irish lost because of poor clock management. Ten years later Danny Hope bailed the Irish out by giving them another shot with the timeout. After the timeout it was third and goal for the Irish. Clausen missed on a pass to Robby Parris to bring the game down to one fourth down play. Under pressure Clausen found tight end Kyle Rudolph right on the goal line to put the Irish up 24-21 with just 25 seconds on the clock. That was the end of the scoring on the night. My two favorite teams duking it out for 60 minutes with the game coming down to the last seconds. It just doesn’t get any better than that. Next week I will be back to rooting on the Boilers with everything I have as they take on Northwestern for homecoming. For now though I am still basking in the glow of a great game.
The real star of this game was Golden Tate. He is aptly named. He is shown to the right jumping over Purdue safety Tori Williams to gain extra yards. He was the offense on the two touchdown drives that the Irish had back to back. He lined up as the quarterback in the Wildcat formation, and gave the Boilers all that they could handle. He finished the game with nine carries for 57 yards and one touchdown. He also had five catches for 57 yards. His presence really helped ease the loss of Michael Floyd. The starting outfielder for the baseball team used all of his athletic ability to give the Irish a spark. Since I have nothing better to do right now I will post some more pictures from this great night. This has to rank right up there with some of the best games I have ever been to.

The Boilers storm the field in all black
The student section looks great for the ‘Blackout’
Aaron Valentin carries Irish defenders into the end zone for a 36 yard touchdown on the first drive of the game to put the Boilers up 7-0
Jimmy Clausen passes to Golden Tate
Clausen throws on the run
Elliot throws under pressure
Elliot throwing on the run. He was most effective while on the move. In the pocket he looked terrible
Tate finds a big hole
Robert Hughes breaking a tackle on the sidelines

Ralph Bolden getting stuffed on the goal line just at the start of the fourth quarter

Keith Smith pulling in a TD pass to bring the Boilers to within 3 early in the fourth quarter

Jimmy Clausen on the toss

Robert Hughes getting taken down by Mike Neal. No horse collar called on this play

Game Preview: Purdue Boilermakers v. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Today will mark the 11th time that I have seen my favorite two teams line up against each other. In that time I have seen some great games. From the way the two teams have played so far this season I think today will be another one. I can’t see Purdue pulling away from this one, but the Irish have the weapons to do so. The hardest part about calling this game is the health of Jimmy Clausen. If he can be productive today the game will be easily won by the Irish. If he cannot go, or is slowed up by injury that opens the door to the Purdue upset. The Boilers need to get Ralph Bolden going to have a chance. They cannot rely on the arm of Joey Elliot if they are going to have a chance. Bolden looks to be the real deal so let’s give him the ball a little. What do you say?
I forgot to pick last week’s winner, but we all know that I would never have picked Northern Illinois to win. That being said I will put my record on the season at 2-1. Here is the prediction for this week:

Notre Dame 42 – Purdue 28

I think the Irish will clear the stadium early in this one. I would like to see a closer game. I may even get a closer game, but my gut says no.

A Bittersweet Day

Yesterday I made my second trip in as many days to USCF to watch the Sox and Twins play. This was the second time this year I did the double, but my first time watching the same two teams play. Once again I got in early enough to watch batting practice, and luckily enough Michael Cuddyer hit me a baseball. So in this season alone I have caught more baseballs than I ever have combined. That is a good year. It was the 72nd college or pro sporting event that I attended this season, and the 85th professional baseball game that I have attended. Anyone who knows me knows that these are two significant numbers to me. It was also my last Sox game of the season most likely. All of these events should have led up to a good day. Unfortunately they did not.

Once again the Sox were down early. They were down 4-0 in the fourth inning. They did chip away at the Twins though. Heck Jermaine Dye even put the bat on the ball last night. He went 3-4 with two home runs and four RBI’s. His lone out on the night was a line drive to left in the 2nd that was hit right at the fielder. This kind of production would have been nice in the second half. This may have been the last time that I would see Jermaine in a Sox uniform so it was great to see him have a good night. As you can see in the picture the high fives after the second bomb were mailed in. Tyler Flowers almost got his first MLB home run in the 5th, but settled for his first MLB extra base hit. That about sums up the highlights for the Sox last night. The Twins got to Mark Buehrle early and often forcing him out in the fourth inning. Carlos Torres pitched decent, but errors doomed any chance of a comeback last night. I would have liked to have gone out seeing my team win one last time, but you don’t always get what you want. Now we just have to sit back and wonder what club will show up in 2010. The pieces are there. That is easy to see. We just need to get them all going. I am already pumped for next season. Is that sad?

I may have one more game up my sleeve this season. After that I will do a recap showing just how crazy this baseball season really was. Looking back on it I can’t believe I was lucky enough to get most of it in.

Where is My White Towel?

Last night started off decent enough. After driving through rain the entire way to the stadium I walked in to see the sun out and batting practice underway. I did not get a ball, but was able to see the sweet swing of Joe Mauer for a while. When batting practice was over I had my two slices of Connie’s and found a seat a couple rows back of the Twins bullpen. I watched former Notre Dame pitcher Jeff Manship warm up with Mauer in the bullpen getting a couple cool pictures of each. I stayed in the seats behind the bullpen for the first couple of innings.
Once the game started it was a completely different story. The Sox were down 3-0 before they even came to bat. Two of those runs were thanks to a two run homer by Orlando Cabrera. Welcome home I guess. For some reason he was never liked too much in Chicago, and that shot did not endear him to the fans anymore. The Twins scored eight runs overall on the night. Five of those runs came courtesy of four home runs. Danks gave up three of them in six innings pitched. He settled down after a rough first inning, but had another rough one in the sixth giving up home runs to Matt Tolbert and Michael Cuddyer. Tolbert’s home run barely cleared the wall in left. In fact Quentin had his mitt on it over the wall, but his mitt fell into the bullpen with the ball. The play happened right in front of the seats I moved into in left field. Jason Kubel hit one in the eighth off of Dotel to finish off the Twins scoring on the night. The White Sox got one back in the bottom of the first when Scotty Pods walked, stole second, and came around to score on a Pierzynski ground out. They added three in the third on a solo shot by Alex Rios, and a two run shot by Gordon Beckham. For some reason Pods had to run back from third, hold up Beckham, and tag second again on the play. The picture to the left shows the confusion at second after Beckham’s home run. Gordon just watched Pods wondering what was going on. This moment would end Pods productivity for the night. Gordon would score again in the fifth when he walked after being down 0-2 in the count. He had a great at bat, and scored from first on a two out double by Pauly. Pauly ended up stranded at third that inning, but took matters into his own hands in the eighth when he hit a solo shot to pull the Sox to within two. That is all the closer they would get though as they lost 8-6. I am one of the biggest optimists that you will find, and even I think the season is ova. I am going to tonight’s game with the knowledge in my mind that it will be my last this season. Maybe they can put on a show to send me out in style. Beckham seems to like when I come to the games. He hits a lot of his home runs when I am in attendance. Put me on the payroll White Sox!

The Twins Hope to Ride the Manship to Victory

An early season purchase on eBay has left me with two remaining games this year at the Cell. I have one ticket to tonight’s game and two for tomorrow’s game. If you feel like going to the game tomorrow night leave a note in the comments section. The game is not as exciting as I thought it once might be. The Sox are all but out of contention with very slim playoff hopes. Those hopes are pinned on the next few games against the Twins and the Tigers. Tonight the Sox face off against a familiar face for the Twins. The last time I saw Jeff Manship pitch was on April 22, 2006. I had attended the Blue-Gold game at Notre Dame Stadium, and I walked over to the baseball stadium to see the Irish play some baseball against Rutgers. The night before Jeff Samardzija pitched before a sold out crowd. This was a good crowd as well. Jeff Manship was part of the dazzling pitching staff the Irish had that year. He is shown to the left just after the release of the ball. He was a good pitcher with a high ceiling. That day Manship pitched seven quality innings. He gave up three runs on six hits, but had some great run support and won 15-3. He struck out eight during his outing. Jeff has been called up by the Twins in the thick of the playoff hunt to give them some innings. I am glad to see him up in the Majors. It will be great to see him pitch again although I hope he has a short outing. My love for Notre Dame only goes so far. The Sox rate much higher than that. The Sox have not seen much of Manship so it will be interesting to see how they fare against him. Let’s break the mold and get to a young pitcher for once. If we don’t they will start calling up players from single A to give us fits. The run has to begin now.

Nickaro Golding Dismissed From Team

Somehow this was lost in all of the misery surrounding the game Saturday, but defensive end Nickaro Golding was dismissed from the Boiler squad for “repeated conduct detrimental to the squad.” He was a promising young player, but evidently there was something that he could not deal with. This is slowly starting to seem like 2005.

csd Flashback: The Last Time the Irish Beat the Spartans at Home

I did not realize exactly how long it had been since the Irish beat the Spartans at home until they showed the date last night. I have been to some of the games that the Irish have lost in that time span. The date was September 18, 1993. I saw the flag planted on the field after the game in 2005. I was also there in 2003 when a late interception sealed the deal for the Spartans. I did not have the cameras that I had later in life, but the picture to the left shows Marc Edwards scoring a touchdown in the 36-14 blowout. What really made the game special was the fact that my high school team (LaPorte Slicers) had just beaten the Hobart Brickies for the first time in 45 years. I had a slicer shirt on at the game, and everyone kept coming up to me and congratulating me on the win. I did not have much to do with that win, but it was still a great feeling. Who knew that the end of one long streak would coincide with the start of another? This was the second Notre Dame game that I had attended in my life. I figured I had two great reasons to post a little about the game.

Upset Special

I don’t have a lot to say about the way the Boilers played today. After two good games they came out flat. The final score was 28-21 Northern Illinois. On paper that makes it look like a close game, but it was not. This was the Huskies first win against the Big Ten since 1988, and the second in the program’s history. It was a big day for the team from Dekalb. Turnovers and poor execution were the downfall today. Aaron Valentin put us up early 7-0 with a great punt return. He more than made up for that with two costly turnovers while returning punts. Purdue also had a tough time bringing down anyone in a white jersey. Poor tackling led to a couple of career days for Northern Illinois backs. They did have some moves, but that is no excuse for the tackling (or lack thereof) display that I saw today. On the offensive side Ralph Bolden entered the game as the nations leading rusher. He only gained 64 yards on the ground and was ineffective. Joey Elliot had his first poor game behind center for the Boilers. He really was off in his passing today. Next week is a big one for the sports junkie. My favorite team as a child faces off against my Alma mater. With the way these two teams our playing this could be an interesting game. I am sure I will have more on the Notre Dame/Purdue matchup as the week goes on. For now I am searching for a new sport for the next couple of days.

Another Great Baseball

In keeping with yesterday’s trend I will showcase another baseball in my collection. Ball #189 was obtained from a shop at the new Busch Stadium the day after my birthday. I was just killing time since I had gotten to the stadium early when I saw a game used memoribilia shop in center field. I walked in and was awed by the signed baseballs in the case. I really wanted a Stan Musial ball, but it was $175, and even that is a little salty to a sports junkie. Just down from the signed balls were actual balls used in a game. They happened to have two from my birthday, and I asked to see them. They came in a cube, and I took the ball that had a little scuff from the redish dirt on the infield. Just last week I looked up the number on the ball on the Major League Website. Here is what I found when I looked it up:
TOP OF 1ST INNING PITCHER JOHN SMOLTZ BATTER PETE ORR SINGLE
Did I just really pick up a ball that John Smoltz put into play that was recorded as a hit? I think that I did. This is the next best thing to actually fielding the ball in my opinion. Right now this may be the jewel of my collection until I actually get a game used ball myself. That should be any day now.