2016 MLB All-Star Week: Fan Fest (Friday)

PART I: Getting a Taste of All-Star Week

With the week-long break fast approaching, I was able to procure some free tickets for both the MLB Fan Fest, and other events! I will write about those awesome events later in the weekend…

…but for now, this post will cover the bases for the All-Star Fan Fest at the San Diego Convention Center. My sister and I decided to drive down very early on Friday morning so we could try and see EVERYTHING that this great festival has to offer. At the end of the day, we had walked about 10 miles and were quite tired… was it worth it?

Fest5
Continue Reading About the All-Star Fan Fest

The Calm Before the Storm (Before All-Star Week)

100_6295

Oh, hello there! I bet you’re wondering what’s next after that last post from Saint Louis. While I’m still catching up on previous posts, I thought I would write a quick note before one of the biggest events of the year. First, I would like to thank all the readers out there who have followed along with this blog. Thanks for joining me on my travels and making the last two years very memorable. Because of this blog, I have met so many fellow baseball fans, and even a few fellow bloggers from MLBlogs! I hope to meet many more of you this weekend because….

ASGlogo

…it’s All-Star Week in San Diego, California! That’s right, just down the I-15 freeway for me, the Summer Classic is about to take place inside the beautiful Petco Park in downtown San Diego for the first time in that stadium’s history. There has been quite a bit of hype as the All-Star rosters had just been announced. With a bevy of Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox players on both rosters, it should still be a very enjoyable time there as plenty of talented players got the call to play in the All-Star Game. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Corey Seager earning his 1st All-Star selection with the Dodgers. Not only will Seager play in the actual game, but he will take part in the Home Run Derby!

100_6297

My plans are to be in San Diego as much as possible throughout the weekend. First, I will be at the MLB Fan Fest inside the San Diego Convention Center all day Friday! I very much look forward to meeting some classic players, getting a plethora of picture opportunities, and taking in as much as possible. Also, I will get to visit my buddy, S. Preston, who I will actually talk greatly about on an upcoming blog post! You guys definitely need to check out his All-Star art this weekend if you’re going to Fan Fest.

Saturday will likely be my day off because…

Around San Diego 063

…my plan is to arrive early at Petco for the All-Star Sunday festivities. The two main events on Sunday are the Futures Game, and the Celebrity & Legends softball game. I will simply say that I got some damn good seats for that particular game and will be on field level to see the future of baseball on display. I very much look forward to that game.

On Monday, I will be driving down in the early afternoon because I will actually be attending the Home Run Derby on Monday! I’m even honored just to be inside the park for this one… I am floored that my seat is behind home plate so I will get a great view of what is shaping up to be a fantastic contest. Plus, I get to root on Corey Seager!

Tuesday is the giant question mark right now. I do not have any tickets for the actual All-Star Game yet. I’m still considering purchasing a ticket for that game… and I would really love to go. If anybody reading this somehow attains a spare ticket, please let me know… give me a ring! Okay, you don’t have to call me since I would never post my number here… but feel free to drop me a line on here, I do read your comments!

IMG_1237

If you are reading this and do plan on being in San Diego for the weekend, I would love to meet all of you! You will most likely see me going after a couple fly balls before the games, meeting some legends at the Fest, hanging out by the Tony Gwynn statue, or simply trying out some new bizarre food. You will almost certainly see me with my Wheel of Fortune bag! So, please say hello if you’re a reader or a fan. I will be blogging like a mad man all weekend about everything All-Star related, so be sure to follow along! Those posts will be shorter than my usual ballpark tour posts.  As always, I will see you at the ballpark!

102_6040

-JD

I Consider Myself (One Of) the Luckiest Men…

Yes, I know it has been a LONG time since I’ve posted on here, but now I’ve got a backlog of posts concluding my tour from last season. To be honest, it has felt like a great roller coaster ride since last October. After finishing my quest of attending a game in all 30 MLB parks, real life kept me as busy as possible. First, with me teaching during the regular school year, that took away most of my time. Working for the American Hockey League took up some more of my time, running races took up nearly the rest of my time, and before I knew it, I was completely back logged. Life happens.

One of the things that kept me busy was working for the AHL, specifically for the Ontario Reign at the Citizens Business Bank Arena. Doing the off-ice thing for the ECHL was great, but now with some extra money coming in and a better style of hockey in town, this season has been more than enjoyable. Not only did I get to explore other rinks using my pass (including a trip to Providence, RI), but I got to actually do some color commentary for the Ontario Reign for some road games! That ended up happening out of nowhere, and I have to give my full thanks to Joseph Zakrzewski for the opportunity. As the season wore on, I began tracking some team Corsi stats for the team, and that passion for stats and sports took me to San Jose, San Diego, and even Cleveland during their playoff run. While the Reign ended up getting swept by the eventual Calder Cup champion, Lake Erie Monsters, this was a great ride! Besides, it also helped that one of my closest friends lives out there, and we even attended a couple baseball games together yet again! I will post about that experience soon. But again, I feel so fortunate right now. Working in hockey has brought me so much luck and joy, and I cannot wait until the 2016-17 campaign.

Beard526

But, with the hockey season now coming to an end and the school year done for the summer, this gives me a great opportunity to put up some of the saved drafts from the past few months. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about you guys who still read this! Also, a big thank you to those who have kept reading despite the long absence. You will see some new posts spring up, but they will be back dated to the appropriate year. Just as an FYI, this post will likely disappear fairly soon, but there is also going to be some new pages set up for all my mobile readers! For now, here is some of what to expect:

*A post from St. Louis
*A lengthy post from Kansas City
*A post from the Field of Dreams
*A little something about the conclusion of my travels
*A great post about a good artist friend of mine, and how that affected my travels

*BALLPARK RANKINGS!!

*Weird foods around Major League Baseball

Yes, I already have my rankings set, and that post is long saved…. maybe I shall put that up this week? Again, thank you all for the support and I will see you at the ballpark!

Beard415

-JD

JD’s 2015 Ballpark Tour; Saint Louis, Missouri

Part XVII: Busch Stadium

(AKA: The Night of Free Food and Free Beer)

(AKA: The Cardinal Way)

This is another special post because I had one of my best friends, Matthew, join me for this final part of my trip, and this was a ballpark he had to visit at least once in his life. Even more lucky, I had gotten a hotel only two blocks away from the stadium and was able to fully prepare for this game. In fact, this is another one of those games were I felt completely ready to see every aspect of a new ballpark. Then again, I had gotten very good at preparing with the other 29 ballparks I had visited.

The game was on a Friday night, and the weather was fairly mild… a perfect day for a ball game. Since the game was against the Miami Marlins, we didn’t have the overly crowded streets like I had seen on TV last season. However, that didn’t matter, many fans still showed up en masse because Busch Stadium really is a gem in the Midwest. Would this place live up to expectations?

DSC02865

Ballpark 31: Busch Stadium, elevation 440 feet
The game: Marlins @ Cardinals on August 14, 2015
Continue Reading About New Busch Stadium

JD’s 2015 Ballpark Tour; Kansas City, Missouri

Part XVI: Kauffman Stadium

(AKA: A Royal Treatment)

(AKA: Hotter than Heck)

This will be a special post because I was actually here more than once. However, for the purposes of this blog, I will keep this post more in the perspective of the regular fan! The reason that I made more than one visit here was because I was watching the Angels of Anaheim in Kansas City. I had to be impartial. Also, this post is special because the Kansas City Royals just won the 2015 World Series over the New York Mets and I’d like to say congratulations to a deserving team! The timing for this post couldn’t be more perfect. Need I say more?

This series in Kansas City was very important for both teams as the Royals were trying to keep their number one overall seed ahead of the surging Twins and the Blue Jays. As for the Angels, they were trying to get a hold on a wild card spot. I knew the crowds would be massive for both games. For the first part of this blog post, I will focus more on the Thursday game that took place. For the second part, I will focus more on the ballpark itself. However, there will be an additional mini-post about this ballpark to come at a later date. Yes, there is a reason for this.

royals2

Ballpark 30: Kauffman Stadium, elevation 750 feet

The first game: Angels @ Royals on August 13, 2015
Continue Reading About Kauffman Stadium… for both games

JD’s 2015 Ballpark Tour; Minneapolis, Minnesota

Part XV: Target Field

(AKA: A Flair For the Dramatic)

(AKA: Twinning)

This was the portion of the trip where I realized that I was close to the end, and I was beyond excited to visit the final three ballparks. After a few days finally home recovering from my previous travels, I was busy preparing for the last leg of my baseball travels. On paper, this would be one of the more expensive trips since I had two flights, several days of hotels, and a big car rental. However, I used some “Orbucks” to get one day of a free hotel. Plus, I had been accumulating so many frequent flier miles that I went ahead and used those miles for free flights! Additionally, I was able to get a big discount on my car rental, so this helped me immensely on this trip. After another week in Las Vegas for Trivia Championships of North America, I was on my way to Minneapolis to explore one of the spotlight ballparks I had been wanting to visit since it opened, Target Field. I heard about many of the park’s amenities and some of the unique food they offer up there. How would it stack up to the rest of the league?

Target1

 

Ballpark 29: Target Field, elevation 840 feet

The game: Rangers @ Twins on August 11, 2015
Continue Reading About Target Field

JD’s Ballpark Tour… an FAQ?

Between the Bases: An FAQ!

Welcome back to the Chavez Chronicles, ladies and gentlemen. Upon finishing this unforgettable journey through all the ballparks, I’ve been approached with a plethora of questions from people I have just met and friends alike. I thought about making this a separate page, but I thought a post now would be more appropriate given that some of these questions will be answered next month. The majority of questions were asked before the final leg of my travels through the Midwest. I thought I would write a quick post and address some of those questions here.

jdfaq

*Q: What is your favorite ballpark that you’ve visited?

*A: At the moment, I don’t have a singular favorite, even making a top 3 or 4 is tough. I will think about this more and make a post with my rankings of the 30 current MLB parks soon.

*Q: What is your least favorite ballpark?

*A: Same as above, but I have a bottom two, and it will surprise many.

*Q: What foods do you recommend the most?

*A: I believe in getting the most unique food items that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. In the north, poutine is always a recommendation. In the Midwest, barbecue is excellent. Perhaps I will make just a post about food in the coming weeks.

*Q: So… what’s next?

*A: Get back to hockey and math! Southern California welcomes the AHL to the hockey landscape, and that will take up some of my time. Aside from that, I have a great idea of what I want to do on my next grand “baseball” adventure. However, I won’t reveal that yet…

*Q: How do you find great deals on flights/cars?

*A: First off, I have a frequent flier card with Flying Blue (KLM) and they have been wonderful in the five years I’ve been with them. Delta has typically great service for a major airline, so I recommend using them for frequent flier miles. During this trip, I’ve received two free flights and I’m close to a third one. Also, using Hertz frequently not only builds up status, but renting with Hertz yields frequent flier miles for Delta/Flying Blue. I’ve gotten one free car rental so far, and may get a second. Sticking with a good company is an excellent way to not only get great deals on flights and cars, but get free flights and car rentals. Huzzah!

*Q: How in the world did you keep costs down and stay within a budget?

*A: As previously mentioned, getting free flights and car rentals help. Also, I’ve had several friends offer up their rooms for days on end. Without them, I couldn’t have finished this trip. Also, I got many free tickets throughout this trip, as well as some insider visits. The kindness of many helped keep costs down, and was a huge factor in me finishing this trip. So my advice is this… make friends, make lots of friends around the country (and Canada)!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

*Q: Dude, your adventures sound awesome! Can we hang with you?

*A: Sure! I always welcome guests to watch games with me! Throughout this trip, I have had some great friends and guests watch games besides me, and it’s always a blast shooting the breeze and have some great baseball talk. Plus, whenever I’m around friends, good things tend to happen and the good luck REALLY comes out. Ask any of those guys on the pictures… fun times are had by all, and unforgettable memories are made!

Finally, I want to address one thing that hasn’t been asked much, and that’s why I haven’t posted much lately. Well, real life happens and it keeps me busy! Also, I’ve still been going to games, and getting back to my regular routine of working most of the week. Additionally, I’ve been contributing to the podcast and celebrating my birthday. With that said, I have already written the next post after this, so expect two or three blog posts this week alone. Thanks again for your support, please keep reading, and I will see you at the ballpark!

 

-JD

JD’s 2015 Ballpark Tour; Chicago, Illinois

Part XIV: Wrigley Field

(AKA: The Not-Quite-Finished Confines)

(AKA: The Day I Was a Local Celebrity… sort of)

After a brutally long day of baseball in two states, Thursday was my rest day until I decided to tour Miller Park. Maybe I’ll mention that tour on an off-season post… but the rest of that day was spent eating foods across two states, and relaxing near my hotel room in the middle of Chicago. Somehow, I was able to acquire a room for two nights that offered free parking in downtown! Of course, this was first-come, first-serve parking, so I had to make sure I was at that hotel early enough to secure a spot. I also made sure to make out my plans for the trip to the “Friendly Confines” in the north side of Chicago. To be honest, I had previously visited this park with my sister before the renovations a few years ago when it was rumored that new scoreboards would infect the classic park. We went to two games, and those were some of the best games we ever went to. I tried to forget about all that and enter Wrigley Field with a fresh perspective and moderate expectations. Because of all the changes, this was technically a “new” park I was visiting. Just how different would it be?

DSC01974

Ballpark 28: Wrigley Field, elevation 599 feet

The game: Phillies @ Cubs on July 24, 2015
Continue Reading About Wrigley Field

JD’s 2015 Ballpark Tour; Chicago, Illinois

Part XIII: U.S. Cellular Field

(AKA: Let’s Play Two Across States)

Because the Brewers game took a long time, I had to leave that game early. For the first time in about two decades, I actually left a game around the 7th inning stretch. At least I heard the rest of that game on the radio, only to have the Indians come back and win the game. Yeah, I’m glad I left that game early. Anyway, I made my way down I-94 across the state line from Wisconsin to Illinois and headed for the south side of Chicago. Traffic was looking bad and I had to take a couple shortcuts because the gridlock was simply too bad. Thanks to the AM radio and Google maps, I was able to make it to the park with about forty minutes to spare. I realized that I would not make it in time for batting practice, but I knew I could give this ballpark a good chance.

DSC01597

Ballpark 27: U.S. Cellular Field, elevation 596 feet

The game: Cardinals @ White Sox on July 22, 2015

When I arrived at what some people call “New Comiskey,” I was able to secure a good parking spot for $20. At least this was in one of the closer lots to the stadium, so the walk up only took a couple minutes. Much to my surprise, there was some tailgating going on here, too! There were a few corn hole games, and some other various games to keep the crowds entertained. This place had a neat feel to it, but I didn’t have the time to partake in any activities with the crowds.
Continue Reading About U.S. Cellular Field

JD’s 2015 Ballpark Tour; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Part XII: Miller Park

(AKA: An Experience Unlike Any Other)

After saying goodbye to Joe and the city of Anaheim, I had to get packing and get going to my next destination. The night of the Angels 2nd make-up game against the Sawx, I was already on my way to Milwaukee to catch one of the best theme nights in the team’s and MLB history. This particular giveaway was on my radar since the preseason because it involves one of my favorite baseball films. It was “Major League” Night at Miller Park, and the giveaway was a TALKING Harry Doyle bobble head! Of course, I had to be there for this one… but what I came away with was more than a bobble head. I came away with a great impression and a whole lot more.

DSC01369

Ballpark 26: Miller Park, elevation 602 feet

The game: Indians @ Brewers on July 21, 2015
Continue Reading About Miller Park