Camden Yards

Oriole Park at Camden Yards was our favorite of the East Coast trip. It might have been how comfortable we were in orange and black or the fact that it was first of the “retro” ballparks. Lets say the granddad of AT&T Park.

Before the game we visited the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum. We followed the painted baseballs on the pavement from Camden Yards to Babe Ruth’s home. The museum was filled with photographs, old jerseys and the actual bed he was born in. The exhibit has the 500 club featuring players who have hit 500 home runs. Giants were well represented with Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, and Barry Bonds.

We saw the Orioles vs Royals on Friday, May 25th 2012. 2012 was also the 20th anniversary of the ballpark. We arrive over two hours early and they had Eutlaw Street open with shops and restaurants in the historic B&O warehouse building.  We tried out the new Dempseys Brew Pub & Restaurant, co-owned by Rick Dempsey, former MVP Oriole and broadcaster. Then we went straight to the legendary Boog’s Barbeque and Boog Powell was there himself. Delicious BBQ…Baltimore is all about their pit beef.  We watched batting practice and walked around the concourse.

Now for the part my husband was waiting for, the National Anthem. We saw a preview of this tradition when they played the Nationals a couple days earlier. Baltimore fans are known for replacing “oh say” with “O!” during the National Anthem. Highly controversial, but it was fun to be apart of.

The game was fantastic and the fans had so much spirit. It wasn’t a sold out game, but was well represented. The fans were synchronized in their cheers and traditions. Adam Jones was a beast and ended up winning the game.

The Oriole Bird Mascot was seriously one of the best. He was spirited and got the crowd into it. He would distract the pitchers and bring fans on top of the dugout to dance.

So glad they are reintroducing the oriole bird’s head as their official logo. It hasn’t been used by the Orioles organization since 1988.  Inspiring fans and players and this video “Put a Bird on It”

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PNC Park

Always in the top list of “best ballparks.” PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates was a site to see. There are a variety of ways to get to the park. Traditional parking lots surround the entrance, but unique to Pittsburgh fans they can walk across the Roberto Clemente Bridge from downtown. (the same bridge you see in the skyline) This couldn’t be more Pittsburgh with hundreds of bridges, no joke.  You can also take the ferry, similar to AT&T Park.

I scheduled a day game because of the famous view. We went on Wednesday, May 23rd for the Pittsburgh Pirates hosting the New York Mets. Andres Torres (former Giant was hurt unfortunately.) As we drove to the stadium there was school bus after school bus. Apparently, it was Education Appreciation Day.  THOUSANDS of middle schoolers, ohh…my least favorite age. I really tried not to let them get too me. Worked somewhat.

We entered from the main entrance facing home plate. We directly went to Primanti Brothers to get their noted Pittsburgh sandwich.  Grilled meat, coleslaw, tomato, and french fries between their huge Italian bread.  It was delicious, but so filling. I ended up taking almost all the fries out.

Now to that beautiful view, the Pittsburgh skyline is gorgeous, but we didn’t really appreciate it until you site down for the game. We were right behind home plate in the upper deck.  The view was so beautiful, but it almost looked fake or like a painting – basically not real. Oh the game…It was really a disaster. The Pirates had three errors by the fourth inning. It was a hard game to watch. We waited for the Great Pierogi Race after the fifth inning, inspired by the Brewers sausage race. (video below) The Pierogi’s consisted of Jalapeno Hannah (green hat), Cheese Chester (yellow hat), Sauerkraut Saul (red hat) and Oliver Onion (purple hat). The mascot races are always great, especially because their official mascot Pirate Parrot was lame. He didn’t do anything, but shoot out t-shirts. My husband did not approve. He has high standards for mascots.

The game was horrendous so we walked around the park to really get the feel. The main concourse is open around the entire field so you don’t miss the game. Everything is really spacious and spread out.  We strolled along their River Walk in outfield with beautiful view of downtown, Roberto Clemente Bridge and the river.

The Pittsburgh Pirates deserve a better team, but at least the park is gorgeous and hey they are leading the central right now!

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Citizens Bank Park

Philadelphia is gritty, from the surroundings to the people. Phillies are dedicated fans and it defiantly showed. They came out hours before the game and sat in the rain til it started. We watched the Phillies vs the Washington Nationals on Monday, May 21st. It was funny routing for the Nationals the day before. We arrived over two hours early and they had already opened up a limited section of the park. We got a drink at Harry The K’s the restaurant in left field named after Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas. You can sit and watch the full game there as long as you keep buying. We watched the Phillies batting practice and walked around the park as it opened. We had seats on the very top level (4 levels!) and it was high up there, still a great seat…but almost a touch of vertigo. The whole stadium felt huge. Capacity 43,651, but it felt like 50+

The video board in left field was so clear and massive, apparently it’s the largest HD screen in the National League.  It also wouldn’t be Philly without a replica Liberty Bell.  It “rings” and lights up after Philly home runs and wins. Unfortunately, we didn’t see either. The Nats won. Another Philadelphia quirk is that their bullpens are in the outfield amongst the fans. When they first opened in 2004 the Phillies bullpen was closest to the fans and after Philly fans booed their own pitchers (these are the same fans that booed Santa Claus) they switched to have the visitors section closer for heckling.

The mascot always needs mentioning. Its rates high on my husbands list. The Phillie  Phanatic….a green beakish creature. The Phanatic has been named the best mascot before and he did not disappoint. He was absolutely hilarious. He came out with a full rain suit on when it began to sprinkle. He mimicked and danced with middle school cheerleaders. There are also videos of him traveling to the Galapagos Islands…his birthplace.

All in all, the stadium might not have a beautiful backdrop of the city, but it was still a beautiful park.  Its very open and you can see the game the entire time you walk around the park.  There were so many options for food (love the cheesesteakes!) and the craft beer was endless. You had to search for any macro beers if you wanted. We were highly impressed with the Philly beer scene.  Philly really was a passionate town about its sports, beer and food.

Photos from Citizens Bank Park

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Nationals Park

Baseball returned to Washington DC in 2005. The new and current stadium was built in 2008, the first LEED-certified green MLB major stadium. DC is a hard sports town. First, most people aren’t from DC. Secondly, baseball has been in and out of DC for years.

We went to a Nationals vs Orioles game on Sunday, May 20th 2012 with my husband Derek and his brother and sister in law. It was very easy to get to the park. Metro stops literally in front. There are also parking lots nearby. Ours was literally in left field, which provided a strange backdrop during the game. The main entrance is through the outfield. The presidents (from the presidents races) were greeting fans and taking pictures.

Very open stadium with lots of room to walk around. Concessions are easy to find and have separate checkout station to keep the line moving. Why doesn’t every stadium do this? We only had one food in mind and that was Ben’s Chili Bowl. Half smoked dog with their AMAZing chili. Really what do they do to it???

Now to the game. The Nationals have been incredible this year, first time really in their history. They played the Orioles, an inter-league game.  We were lucky enough to see Stephen Strasberg pitch. He actually hit a home run as well.  Also, Bryce Harper is something to watch. He was the first round draft pick in 2010.

My second favorite part, after the game was the Presidents Race. During the fourth inning George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt. The funniest part is Teddy has never won a race because he trips, gets confused, or talks to fans. He once got disqualified because he passed the other Rushmores by driving in a golf cart. There is even a blog cheering Teddy on. http://blog.letteddywin.com/ Also, you can’t forget their mascot, Screech who is a bald eagle. My husband is obsessed with mascots and rates ballparks based on them. He couldn’t take his eyes off of him. He got the crowd going.

My only complaint was that the park didn’t have much of “DC” feel. I felt like you could replace the Nationals sign with any other team and it wouldn’t change anything. The only DC character is that you can see the US Capital building and their our cherry trees are planted in the centerfield plaza.

Wonderful park though. Really one of my favorites of the trip.

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