Taking the wrong exit

It’s Friday night and I’m sick, so I’m staying in. There’s nothing to really post about the O’s at the moment. I’m taking a self-imposed break of talking about the following:

-Erik Bedard trade rumors

-Brian Robers trade rumors

-The Seattle Mariners

-The Chicago Cubs

If something legit comes up then I’ll break it.

I try to stick to talking about the O’s and baseball on here. I don’t like diluting it by going off topic, but I did think this merited meaning because it was so absurd.

In December, me and my sister went to Missouri to see our Grandma and the rest of relatives. It’s not an easy drive. If you leave at night like we did, you can do the 800 mile drive in 12 hours (that’s with the time change). The trip out there was uneventful except for hitting snow in the North Carolina mountains and seeing mile after mile of interstate. The trip itself was good. Nothing to complain about except for not enough time.

On the way back, we were going to meet up with some relatives in Tennessee and eat dinner with them. Maybe about an hour and something outside of Nashville I needed to stop. We took my sister’s car out there because it has a better track record than my car. Since I do have the bad habit of smoking, I needed (or rather wanted) a cigarette. I didn’t want to smoke in front of my relatives, so I wanted to do it before hand. Since it was her car, she didn’t want me stinking up her car. That’s understandable and I’d be the same way if I didn’t.

We got off on the exit for Bucksnort. Great town name. Should have took that as a sign right there. There was this gas station that we would stop at for a few minutes and then be on our way. It was dark at this point. Maybe around seven o’clock. As we pull in, I see this rather stereotypical bunch gathered around the back of a pickup truck. Thinking I was smarter than them, I pulled around to the other side of the gas station. I parked in the far end of the parking lot. Away from the pumps and away from everyone else. I was still congratulating myself as I got a drink out of the ice chest and lit me one up. So I was standing there and I see these two guys in their 40’s standing near the front of the store. One of them had his shirt pulled up exposing a rather large beer gut. He was pointing to something. I assumed it was a knife wound or maybe a tatoo of Elvis (Graceland is in Tennessee). Feeling replused at the sight, I turned the other way.

I looked behind me and what I saw was much worse. The building beside it was painted bright red and had the huge words on the side ‘adult bookstore.’ That’s great” I thought. It wasn’t that replused me. There’s plenty of those around, but it was what else was ajoined to it. Apparently, It was a perfect trifecta business or a rather unforunate locations. I think it was the trifecta. It was the bookstore, a hotel, and an all you can eat catfish buffet. For a minute I laughed. They were so close together that I think they were all connected. It was dark, so I didn’t get a great look. After a quick laugh, I was replused. You can understand why and I’ll leave it at that. I looked across the street and saw a bar called ‘Country Hooters.’ Besides their clever name, they had a clever slogan; which was ‘good food, brew, and babes.’ I believe they would be correct only on the fact that they have brew. I doubt from the looks of it that there’d be good food in there and I seriously doubt that that place has any babes there. At this point, I get in the car and tell my sister “let’s get far away from here.”

We met my relatives and I was at one table with some of my cousins and she was at the other with our aunt, uncle, and another cousin. Unknowingly,We both told the same story and they all said the same thing ‘Oh…you stopped at Bucksnort’ and laughed.

I’m not stopping at Bucksnort again, not even if I’m really craving some catfish.

My two week absence happened at the same time as the O’s yearly end of season season collapse. I’m glad I missed it. The first week of my absence was my yearly Ben’s week o’ fun. It didn’t start out as fun.

Me and my now former roommate Chris met up in Asheville for an Asheville Tourist game. Chris goes to grad school now in NC, so it was a good spot to meet up. If you ever have the chance to go to a Tourist game, do it. The ballpark is a great little park. Anyways, we got to the game late. The reason for this was I-26 was backed up like any other interstate on a Friday should be. Once I hit I-40, it was marginally better. But that was 40 minutes I lost. I met up with Chris and we rode to the park. We got near the park and the park looked more like a major league park inside of a single A park. Cars were parked on the streets for a mile or two. There’s not a real parking lot for the park, so you have to fend for yourself. We made the mile, maybe two, walk to the park from where I parked only to find they were sold out. I bought the first scalped tickets of my life at this point. They were face value, it wasn’t like I paid 20 bucks for a minor league game. It seems unfathomable that I bought a scalped ticket for a low A game. It turns out that this was the final game of the season AND fireworks night, thus the crowd.

We got into the park and the seating is about 80% general admission. Our hot tickets were general. In the Greenville park, you can always find somewhere to catch the game even if there’s no seats. You can sit on the grass, in the Spinx club, or stand around. It wasn’t like this in Asheville. It was the packed and nowhere to sit or stand. After about 15 minutes, we decided to cut our losses and split. On the hike back to car, a gnat flew directly into my eyeball. This would plague me the rest of the night. 

Since baseball wasn’t in the cards, we went and grabbed a couple of drinks before we split our seperate ways back to Greenville. When I hit the interstate, my car’s thermostat needle went straight to hot. Since my car is a mobile indian burial ground, I was very concerned. I stopped and put some anti-freeze in it. Ten minutes later, it was hot again. I stopped at a gas station and bought more anti-freeze. Seven minutes later, it was hot again. I was hoping to inch my way back to Greenville. Two minutes, it was hot again. Lucky, I managed to get a rest area. I called Chris and he met me there. Then after getting arrangements made for a wrecker, it was an hour and half wait for the wrecker. Needless to say, it was one of the worst nights in awhile. I have the car back sans the old raditor and I’m sans some money.

The rest of the week o’ fun went better. Labor Day I went down to Clemson with a few friends and met up with some friends down there for the FSU/Clemson game. Death Valley is an awesome place. The tickets I ordered were from the FSU website since I couldn’t get any from the Tiger site. I didn’t make any new FSU friends that night. Clemson got out to big start and in usual fashion, hung onto a close win.

The following Saturday, I took my Mom down to Atlanta to our yearly trip to a Braves game. This year it was the Nats playing the Braves. The Braves rolled 9-2, but it was still a fun game. Washington looks as bad as their record. Still though, going to a baseball is great.

It was a busy week. I’m going to Charlotte a week from Sunday to catch the Panthers play. So I’ll manage to catch all my teams play this year except the O’s.

As for the O’s, I missed a lot.

-Danys Baez going out for the season and likely all of next.

-Victor Zambrano signing

-Daniel Cabrera taking over the role of this season’s Rodrigo Lopez.

-Nick Markakis hitting 20 HR and 100 RBIs

and every thing I mentioned last post.

Sept. 8th

Over at the Loss Column, they’re organizing a fan rally September 8th. The O’s are hosting the Red Sox that day, so make it there. Buy your tickets early since the Red Sox fans are going to try to snap them up. Here’s their post with all the info you need. I’m going to try to get up there, but it’ll be a week or two before I know for sure if I’ll be able to.

Apologizes for the lack of action around here lately, but the work schedule has been a beast this week. Bear with me for another day or two.

Back from the ATL

Sit down…grab a drink and something to eat, maybe a pillow….an alarm clock..because this post went longer than I thought. It could be a good thing.

Went to Atlanta this weekend and got my computer woes fixed today too…

My trip to Atlanta was one of those trips that was almost sort of magical. I’ve had good trips to the ballpark, but this one was different. It consisted of being in the right place at the exact right time.

Saturday I went with Chris to see the woeful Braves host the cursed Chicago Cubs. After a “fine” morning at work, I got to his house and we got on the road at 1 pm. The commute from Greenville to Atlanta should take three hours. The keyword here is SHOULD. The traffic in Atlanta unreal. Anytime I think the city of Greenville is huge, a trip to Atlanta will quickly denounce that thinking. Six to Eight lanes wild traffic. When entering the city, a small town boy like me can be overwhelmed by the carnivous flow of traffic. That though, the traffic flowed as easily as it was suprising and with an hour stop at the Cracker Barrel (whose “country store” is a worthless collection of overpriced knicknacks and candy…but when on the road in the south, a meat and three is a much preferred alternative to McDonalds or Burger King) we were at the gates before 5 pm…i forget, but let’s say 4:40, a remarkable pace to and through the asphalt hell known as Atlanta. I stepped outside of the gates to make a phone call and midway through my conversation I saw a man walking up to where I was standing. The man’s face was UNMISTAKABLE.  I have watched the Braves since I was in 5th grade and I’ll always have a soft spot for them (never fear though, I’ll always suffer with the O’s) and especially that first team I watched. I could name all of them. Terry Pendleton, Sid Bream, Steve Avery, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Jeff Blauser, Damon Berryhill, Mark Lemke…It was a time where I could only care if they won. I didn’t give a damn about ERA, RBI, OBP and all that stats blather. If they were on my team they were boys and the guy I saw WAS one of my biggest boys…

 

It was Otis Nixon. Chances are you may not have a clue who Otis Nixon is, but if you’ve seen him once you’ll never ever forget his mug. Otis was centerfielder for the Braves for 3 seasons on what would be 17 season career with 9 different teams (2 stops with the Braves). Nixon was a great fielder, medicore hitter (.270 career BA w/ 11 total HR), and murder on the bases. The man stole 620 bases in his career. Seeing him walk up and by, I was awestruck by the presence of medicore journeyman ballplayer that I could only stare as he walked by and got into a waiting car and left. 

Once in the stadium, we were wandering about and stumbled onto the Braves pregame bullpen. There was action in it and I expected to see call-up tossing some butterballs or something of that nature. I was happily incorrect as John Smoltz was throwing heat. The view is downward and we were about maybe ten feet up. For about fifteen minutes Smoltz threw and it was awesome. I forget my camera, but Chris bought his and got about a dozen pictures. I’ll post a couple when he sends me some. Being that close to hall of famer in action is something I will never forget.

After that I saw Mark Lemke, who now does radio shows from Turner Field with Chip Carey. Lemke was one of those players who were never an all-star, but they played their butts off. Those are the players you love to have on your team. I got him to autograph my ticket, not because it’ll worth hundreds of dollar when I’m old and gray..it won’t be. I got him to autograph because he was a player I like when I was kid and it was for that kid in me who will always love baseball.

Then there were the people I met at the park. There was a man and his wife who ran a beer stand and they live in Atlanta for a while and they explained to me how they managed to outwit the traffic (there ARE backroads in Atlanta). There was the guy who was with the promotions/event staff who used to work as a vendor at Camden Yards for 5 seasons. Great park he said, but when games weren’t selling out he had to move on. Good guy, even for a Red Sox fan. 

There also happened to be a game at Turner Field that night. Wade Miller made his Cubs debut against Chuck James and let’s just say the suffering continued this night for the Cubbies. By the way, Cubs fans travel very well. I’d say it was 60/40 Braves. Miller only lasted 3 innings and got rocked. 74 pitches and only 36 were strikes. Carlos Zambrano was supposed to start, but was scratched due to injury..which makes Miller’s performance even more of disappointment. Adam LaRoche and Brian McCann homered off him.

The Cubs tried. Matt Murton hit a homer and Juan Pierre stole 2 bases. Miller dug them into too big a hole and with Derek Lee and Aramias Ramierez going 0 for the day the offense struggled. Derek Lee made three great defensive plays at first base. Seeing the man in person, you really that this man is huge.  

All in all it was an excellent day…with the exception of getting back to Greenville and getting my car to find that it won’t start and the ordeal that was dealing with that yesterday, but this is not the place for it. So Saturday was my last game that I’ll be going to for the season and it was probably the best experience I’ve had at a ballpark, though the best GAME was the O’s/Braves game I went to this season and the O’s fans came out pretty good for that one. So I’ll have to wait til 2007 til I can go to a game, but I made to 3 Braves games (Orioles, Mets, and Cubs), 1 Durham Bulls  game, 1 Asheville Tourists game, and probably 15 or 16 Greenville Drive games, so it has been an epic season for going to ball games.

An Orioles note: The O’s were eliminated from playoff contention officially this weekend. It’s been a rough season, kids….but I guess all we can do is root for ’em and hope the front office can bumble into doing some right moves this offseason and get this team right. I see some good things with this team and I really think just the additional of a couple players could make a would of difference as well as the the subtraction of a couple. It is what it is, and it hasn’t been the best season.

Thus ends the longest post I’ve ever done.

Back from Duke

dscf0108.JPG

Got in around noon from Durham. I had a good trip. Me and my buddy Chris got up there about 5 pm yesterday. I didn’t take many pictures, I’ve got one more that I couldn’t load that I’ll get later. But the one I have posted above I like best. There’s the classic bull out there above left. The sign says on the bull “Hit Bull Win Steak” and on the grass that the bull’s standing on it says “Hit Grass Win Salad.”

The stadium was great. They have this warehouse theme going on with the downtown, which we all can appreciate. There’s some trendy little places in “The American Tobacco” complex where everything is at. Durham’s built on tobacco money. The water tower and the smoke stack in the back ground is the old Lucky Strike factory. The view you see in the picture is the view I had. The city is, of course, home to Duke University. Since I love Clemson I hate Duke. But I’d hate Duke even if Clemson wasn’t an ACC team. Duke’s too easy to hate, you have your reasons and I have mine, I’m sure. A lot of Duke students go to Duke and there’s one thing I don’t hate about Duke…Duke Girls.

As for the game, The Knights shut them down and won 5-0. The Bulls didn’t really have much going offensively and only got 5 hits. The lovable Delmon Young played right and he got a bounce off the wall double in the ninth. Watching this game, it’s safe to say that the White Sox have a better future than the Rays. There wasn’t much about the game that was memorable. The Knights’ pitching handcuffed the Bulls. The Bulls made a few miscues defensively. There was probably about 10,000 people there and most them stayed until the end because it was a fireworks night.

Durham’s a nice place to visit, but I won’t want to live there. It’s definately two towns. There’s the downtown part and as I was driving to get to the expressway that got back to 40 West in a blink of an eye, I ended up in bad bad parts. I don’t know what it is with me and finding the ghettos, but I do. Luckily I managed to turnaround quick.

All in all, it was a good trip. North Carolina needs to get their stuff straight with road work because waiting 45 minutes…rather going 5 mph for 45 because there’s 20 ft of work going on in the right lane, there are no winners. Sadly I go back to work Monday, but it’s been a good run this week.

And quicky, our O’s have won the first two games against the D-Rays. Last night Daniel Cabrera handcuffed the Rays and went 7 innings and gave up no runs. The walk total was only 3. Now he’s got a 16 inning scoreless streak going. Stuff like this gives me some hope. The O’s had some productive outs and won 4-0. Today the O’s won 3-2 as Ramon drove in Corey Patterson at the bottom of the ninth to give the O’s another win. That’s 7 out of 10 now…which is great.

Going to Durham

I had hoped and had plans to go to my first O’s game this weekend against the D-Rays, but things fell through. There’ll be plenty other seasons and plenty more home games, so I’ll go next season. BUT I will making the trip up to Durham tomorrow. Me and a buddy will be making the trip to see the Durham Bulls host the Charlotte Knights.

Durham, of course, is home of the Durham Bulls. The Bulls are the Triple-A affilate for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and made famous by movie Bull Durham. Durham is about a 4 drive from Greenville, so we’re going to leave early and hopefully be able to check out the old park before the game. The Knights are the Triple-A team for the Chicago White Sox. If I have time I’ll go the Duke University Campus and…..I don’t know…boo them. I hate Duke (Clemson Tigers, baby).

About last night, all I have to say is that the Twins play AWESOME defense. If the front office builds the Orioles around pitching and defense, then the Twins should be a model. There’s not a lot of big money contracts and it’s a scrappy, smart team. I hope we can be that lucky.

I’ll be back later this weekend, see you then. 

Where I’ve been…

I apologize for my absence lately and when I do post, the rather hurried ones I’ve done. It’s been a busy week. Me and a couple friends went to the Drive game Thursday, where they took on the Lake County Captains (Indians affiliate)and won handily.  Friday and Saturday were work days, but after work I went to the Bilo Center with some friends for a concert and stayed out pretty late. On Sunday, after church…I went up to Asheville with Chris to see the Asheville Tourists host the Lakewood Blue Claws (Phillies single A team).

Going up to Asheville was a treat. Chris has been telling me that I have to go up there and see their field. It’s quite the opposite of the Drive’s homefield. I love our new ballpark, but it’s all more of a manufactured product with our park downtown….it caters more to the downtown crowd. BUT I still love it. McCorcmick Field in Asheville is pure baseball. The Tourists are a Single-A team for the Rockies. The Park is against the side of a hill and most of the seating is bleachers. Asheville, for those of you who aren’t from my parts, is in the mountains of North Carolina. Plenty of famous baseball players have played there…Ruth and Gehrig played there, Stargell and Jackie and Robinson and a couple by the name of Ripken.

The crowd was pretty lively and you could hear everything going on all around the park. One of the cool parts of it is that the park is upstairs, so all the concessions and such are downstairs…where there’s plenty of options for food.

There was a game going on too. Let’s just say that that the Rockies’ future for pitching may not be bright judging from what I saw. It was fun though, as is any day at the park.

Daniel Cabrera pitched 7 innings last night and walked only 1. Let’s hope he makes this a habit.

Here’s the link to the Winston Abreu article I was talking about yesterday.

http://greenvilleonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060803/SPORTS/608030322&SearchID=73253258458624