Monday, July 05, 2010

An Outlander at Progressive Field

It's been a pretty busy month of June - two big Red Sox road trips, and an overall record of 5-4. Not bad!

Our first trip of the year was to Cleveland, to see the Red Sox take on the Cleveland Indians for three games (they actually played a fourth, but we only attended three). My erstwhile companions - Kelly & Steve T. Ferret - met me at the terminal in Cleveland on Tuesday morning, and we headed to our hotel. If you're going to see the Indians play, I highly recommend the hotel: the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown. It's kitty-corner to Progressive Field, and close to restaurants, watering holes, and only a mile to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We got the B&B package, which included a full, made-to-order breakfast each day - great!

We grabbed some lunch at a spot we would visit a couple of times: the Winking Lizard Tavern. A nice spot - close to Progressive Field - with good pub food. Everything I had for lunch had bacon on it: wedge salad, chicken club sandwich, fries smothered in cheese and, yes, bacon! No cholesterol counts on a Red Sox road trip!

We headed to Progressive and watched batting practice from the right field bleachers - Kelly even got bopped by a well-hit ball! For our first game, we had pretty good seats - behind the plate, up a bit, but a good perspective on the field. And the Sox won!

Day two was one of our best yet! Our morning was spent searching for the Great Lakes Brewing Company.Google maps showed it to be 1.3 miles away - however, due to some incorrect directions (thanks Barry & Erik from Boston), we went on the Bataan Death March II. Our hike included a walk over a wonderful bridge: the Hope Memorial Bridge, named in honor of Bob Hope's dad, a local stone mason. Very cool art deco sculptures called the "Guardians of Traffic,"
(Photo from wikipedia)
several of which were sporting LeBron headbands!

The early afternoon was spent on a tour of the field. I love touring the various parks and seeing some of the behind-the-scenes things. We saw several of the Sox getting in some extra work in the batting cages, Jerry Remy in the Press Box, but most interesting was the stop at the indoor batting cages, behind the 3rd base dugout. The Indians' "vision coach" was working with a young player, and he demonstrated some of the ways they help players sharpen their view of pitches at the plate. They had one machine that pitches tennis balls, all with colored numbers, and they ask the player to call out what type of pitch they've seen based on what color and number is on the ball. Oh, and it's being pitched at 100 mph or so. Wow.

The late afternoon was our splurge: we bought tickets for the "Ultimate Batting Practice Experience." We entered the park at 4:30 and were allowed down on the field, to stand behind the cages and watch both teams take batting practice. So, so cool - very close to the players! Victor Martinez (a former Indian) had his 5-year old son with him on this trip, and Victor Jr was all decked out in a complete RS away uniform. It was so fun to watch all the players playing with him - hitting him pop ups, playing catch, wrestling with him. Aww. But the absolute highlight was getting to talk to Justin Masterson! Justin was traded by the Sox to Cleveland last summer for Martinez, and Kelly had followed his career up thru the minors. The look of pure delight on his face when he saw her was so cool! He came over, hugged us, and talked to us for quite a while about the state of the Indians, the baby he has on the way... ♥ A special shout-out to Megan and Maggie for letting us hang around until the end of BP.

Oh, and the Sox took game 2 - we sat just beyond the screen on the first base side. We also discovered Strickland's Frozen Custard. Wow! And we got free Progressive umbrellas!

Day three! It was raining, but the hotel offered us a ride to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame via their courtesy van. Yeah! The building was designed by I.M. Pei - very recognizable! - and we spent three hours there. The special exhibit was on Bruce Springsteen, tracing the Boss' rise to R&R fame. We also enjoyed the permanent exhibit of artifacts from Hall inductees. Costumes from Fleetwood Mac, U2, Parliament Funkadelic! We also saw a very cool 12-minute multi-media/film presentation called "Video Killed the Radio Star," tracing the ever-increasing importance of video and MTV. In one section they highlighted four influential video artists. Two are no-brainers: Madonna and Michael Jackson. The third was Peter Gabriel - I guess you can argue that he did push the envelope. But the fourth made me scratch me head: Tom Petty. Now, I love Petty - have a bunch of his CDs - but I'm not sure I'd say his videos were "influential." I would argue that Duran Duran is a better choice: they learned early on how to use video to market themselves, and used it to make themselves a worldwide phenomenon.

Our last game! We had chatted with a season ticket holder at Wednesday's game, and he got us passes for the Terrace Club, the large restaurant and bar perched on the left field side of Progressive which is for season ticket holders only. We arrived early, and sat in the "pit" - a counter area overlooking the field. Quite a different vantage point for b.p.! For the game, we sat behind the Indians' dugout on the third base side - a perfect spot to watch Masterson pitch a 2-hit, complete game shut-out. The Indians won 11-0 (the 8th inning included a grand slam home run) - a bittersweet result. Sorry to see the Sox lose, but so proud of Justin.

So, a terrific trip! I really enjoyed seeing Progressive Field, and the other sites in Cleveland - and felt like such a VIP on Tuesday! Another Major League ball park ticked off my list!

Here's an album of some of my best shots from the trip.

Click on the corner to get a full-size version!

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