Saturday, April 26, 2008

Day 45: Washington

Today we watched the Chicago Cubs dismantle the Washington Nationals, 7-0 at the brand new Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. Carlos Zambrano pitched 7 shutout innings, and Derek Lee led the way with 3 RBI's as the Cubs cruised to an easy victory. I chose the Cubs (-1.5), so I regain the series lead, taking a 16-15 edge with tonight's victory.

We left Hilton Head, SC (where Ben lives now) at about 5:05am this morning, and arrived at his aunt and uncle's house shortly after 2:30pm. It was a relatively easy drive up I-95 without any stops from the highway patrol. Upon arrival, we had a wonderful steak meal waiting for us, which was quite delicious.

Having 4 tickets to the game tonight, Ben's Uncle Dirk joined us, along with our old Furman tennis buddy, and former Day 23 companion, Brian Crook. The new stadium was very nice, with some excellent views of the Capitol Building from the upper deck. In the media guide given to us as we entered the park, one of the page's called it, "The House that Zim Built" referring to Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman. Somehow it just doesn't have the same ring to it as the hallowed stadium in the Bronx.

During the game we managed to spot political commentator and baseball enthusaist George Will. Unfortunately, he did not bring out too many other Nationals' supporters, as the crowd was largely composed of Cubs fans. Even at the end of the game a majority of the fans stood up and cheered as if the home team was closing out the win.

Tomorrow, Ben and I head back home, as this will be our only trip this season. Look for the blog to pick back up in 2009 when the Yankees, Mets, and Twins open new stadiums. Until then, here are your statistical updates for the trip.

(Pictures will be added in the next day or two.)

1-end of day odometer: 55,013
2-miles traveled today: 616
3-miles traveled total: 18,935
4-states traveled in today: South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C.
bonus stat: Cubs catcher Geovany Soto was 0-5 with 5 strikes, 4 of which were the 2nd out of the inning.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Day 44: St. Louis

Today was our last day of the trip, as we got to see the St. Louis Cardinals host the Atlanta Braves at the new Busch Stadium. It was Ben's turn to pick, so he obviously went with the Cardinals and with the help of a Jim Edmonds 3-run homer, he takes the win. This means that after all the games we went to, Ben and I are officially tied at 15-15.

The game did not exactly go off without a hitch tonight, as a massive storm unexpectantly rolled through St. Louis just before the 7:10pm scheduled starting time. Extremely dark clouds came in quickly, and before too long we were unable to even see the other side of the stadium. Debris was being lifted straight up into the sky, rain was coming down very hard from all directions, and the tarp was even lifted off the infield despite being held down by the maintenence vehicles. After it was finished, the tarp had been torn almost the full length of the infield.

However, after 2 hours and 15 minutes, the game was finally underway. Our tickets were excellent, located in between home plate and 1st base, 17 rows back from the field. Thanks to Tim Sant for the tickets for tonight's game. Ben's parents joined us for the game, and as we have always said it is much more fun going to the game with other people we know, so thanks to them as well.

We left Oklahoma City at 7:30am, and despite a great deal of construction, we pulled into Ben's house in St. Louis at 3:10pm. Then after grabbing a quick bite to eat, and updating some statistical information, we made our way down to the ballpark, arriving at about 5:45.

Our journey is now complete, and while we certainly put a lot of time and energy into ourselves, we certainly could not have done any of this without the help of everyone who chipped in along the way. From providing housing, to tickets, to food, or just time on the phone to help pass the miles on the road, anyone who is reading this had a hand in helping us out during the last month and a half, and for that, WE THANK YOU! Most importanly though, we would like to thank our families, and especially our parents, who have had to hear more about this trip over the last 2 years than I'm sure they wanted to, and helped us out in so many more way than we could ever list in this blog. So, a VERY SPECIAL THANKS to you as well!

Over the course of the trip, we tried to keep track of as many stats and intersting information as possible, so here are the numbers we have compiled.

1-end of day odometer: 34,962
2-miles traveled today: 537
3-miles traveled total: 18,319
4-states traveled in today: Oklahoma, Missouri
bonus stat: teams are 30-0 when they score more runs than their opponent

misc. stats:
home team was 20-10
team that scored 1st was 19-11
team that scored last was 15-15
team that committed fewer errors was 12-7 (11 ties)
team that hit more home runs was 14-8 (8 ties)
team that had more hits was 25-2 (3 ties)
team that allowed fewer walks was 19-6 (5 ties)
team that struck out more batters was 14-14 (2 ties)
team that used fewer pitchers was 13-8 (9 ties)

cheapest beer (16 oz.): Phillies, Cubs = $5.75
most expensive beer (16 oz.): Yankees = $7.75
cheapest parking: Devil Rays = $0
most expensive parking: Yankees = $20
cheapest ticket: Rockies = $4
most expensive ticket: Yankees = $91

total gallons of gas purchased: 510.333
average price / gallon of gas: $2.93
miles / gallon of gas overall: 35.89

*we would rather not share the total amount that we spent on the trip, but we would like to brag a little bit about the following stat:
overall, we were 37% under our alloted budget, which did not include the money we spent in Las Vegas, and even with that we were still 21% under our alloted budget

Here are each of our respective lists of the baseball stadium. We made these without any knowledge of the other's list:
Scott - My list does not reflect how much fun I had at the stadium, but merely my impression of the stadium itself
1-Wrigley Field (Cubs)
2-Angel Stadium (Angels)
3-Fenway Park (Red Sox)
4-Ameriquest Field (Rangers)
5-PNC Park (Pirates)
6-Busch Stadium (Cardinals)
7-Safeco Field (Mariners)
8-AT&T Park (Giants)
9-Yankee Stadium (Yankees)
10-Citizen's Bank Park (Phillies)
11-Jacob's Field (Indians)
12-Comerica Park (Tigers)
13-Turner Field (Braves)
14-Miller Park (Brewers)
15-Camden Yards (Orioles)
16-Rogers CEntre (Blue Jays)
17-Dodgers Stadium (Dodgers)
18-Coors Field (Rockies)
19-Petco Park (Padres)
20-HHH Metrodome (Twins)
21-US Cellular Field (White Sox)
22-Chase Field (Diamondbacks)
23-Kauffman Stadium (Royals)
24-Dolphin Stadium (Marlins)
25-Shea Stadium (Mets)
26-RFK Stadium (Nationals)
27-Great American Ballpark (Reds)
28-Minute Maid Park (Astros)
29-McAfee Coliseum (Athletics)
30-Tropicana Field (Devil Rays)

Ben - Obviously, a lot of this is arbitrary but the important ones are the first six and the last seven. A great deal of this also depends on the experience I had at each park and could change if I went back there again.

1-Ameriquest Field in The Ballpark at Arlington
2-Busch Stadium (Bias opinion of course)
3-Wrigley Field
4-Yankee Stadium
5-Fenway Park
6-Oriole Park at Camden Yards
7-Angel Stadium
8-Coors Field
9-Miller Park
10-Safeco Field
11-Citizens Bank Park
12-The Metrodome
13-Chase Field
14-AT&T Park
15-Jacobs Field
16-PNC Park
17-U.S. Cellular Field
18-Comerica Park
19-PETCO Park
20-Turner Field
21-Kauffman Stadium
22-Dodger Stadium
24-The Great American Ballpark
25-Minute Maid Park
26-McAfee Coliseum
27-Shea Stadium
28-RFK Stadium
29-Dolphin Stadium
30-Tropicana Field

***also note that we now have the MP3 file of our on-air radio broadcast in Baltimore. You can access it by clicking on the "Map and Itinerary" link, then clicking "Listen here to an MP3" on the right side of the screen. Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Day 43: Travel

Today was our 1st travel day in a while, and we used it to make our way from Phoenix, AZ to Oklahoma City, OK. During the drive we lost 2 hours in time zone change, drove through over 70 miles of construction with 45 mph speed limits, and had to encounter Texas’ night time speed limit of 65 mph. However, we pulled through and made the trek in about 15.5 hours.

We stopped for lunch just over the New Mexico state border at Subway, where we filled up for gas and then I took over the driving until dinner. Dinner was glorious, as we found our 1st Fazoli’s of the trip. For those who are unfamiliar with this restaurant chain, you are missing out on something great. It is Italian fast-food that is delicious and cheap. There used to be one about 1 mile from campus at Furman, but it closed after my sophomore year. So, anytime I get to enjoy some Fazoli’s it is a special meal.

Sorry about the large blob in the photo of New Mexico today. There was so much bird feces on the windshield that it was impossible to take pictures of the state welcome signs without including them in the photo. Just one of the little details from the road you can’t always plan for.

No exciting police stops from the road today, and the scenery was nothing too spectacular, aside from several huge mesas in western New Mexico. We are staying at a Quality Inn near Oklahoma City, OK, once again courtesy of frequent-stay points from my parents. Thanks!

Tomorrow is the last day of this spectacular road trip. We have been asked several times if we are ready for the trip to be over, as you might expect after 44 days and thousands of miles on the road. But, the honest answer is that neither of us wants the trip to be over. Sure, we are certainly a little tired from being on the road for so many days. However, I don’t think either one wants to stop traveling around the country and watching baseball games during the summer.

After the game tomorrow, hopefully we can pull together the plethora of statistical information that we have been keeping track of in order to give an even more in depth look into our travels.

Here are the statistical updates:
1-end of day odometer: 34,425
2-miles traveled today: 1,065
3-miles traveled total: 17,660
4-states traveled in today: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma
bonus stat: in Amarillo, TX, The Big Texan offered their customers the chance at a free 72 oz. steak, the stipulation being that you had to eat the entire piece of meat in 1 hour

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Day 42: Arizona

Tonight's guest blogger: Ben

Hello again from the desert. Even though the high today was 115, it was our most relaxing day in weeks. After waking up without an alarm, I took the car in for its final oil change and we took care of some banking issues. After a day of relaxation at the Garcia residents, we left for Chase Field at about 4:00 pm. We arrived at the stadium about an hour and forty five minutes before the game and saw quite a lot of batting practice. Once the game got started, things began to go my way. After two quick runs by the Dbacks, the Dodgers tied it up. However, Arizona began to pour it on, scoring 5 runs in the sixth innning, including a 418 foot blast by Eric Byrnes to win it 8-3. Scott took the Dodgers so I pull to within one game, 14-15 with just the St. Louis game remaining.

The Diamondbacks were one of the three organizations which sent us tickets in response to us contacting them about our trip. The seats were in the left field bleachers, second row. They were great seats and good for batting practice and home run balls. Unfortunately, we did not catch any but would like to thank the Diamondbacks for sending them to us.

Chase Field, formerly Bank One Ballpark (the BOB), was a nice place to watch a game. It was especially nice for the food lover, as it included restaurants from McDonald's to Cold Stone Creamery to Panda Express and even TGI Friday's. The overall feel of the park was nice but Scott did complain that the bleacher seats were extremely uncomfortable so I guess you cannot have everything.

We again have found ourselves with more than gracious hosts as we had eggs, sausage and cinnamon rolls for breakfast and great hamburgers and fries for lunch/dinner. It was a well needed day of relaxation before our 1,000 mile day tomorrow.

Here are the statistical updates:
1-end of day odometer: 33,360
2-miles traveled today: 87
3-miles traveled total: 16,595
4-states traveled in today: Arizona
bonus stat: home teams are 4-0 when they score in both the 2nd and 3rd innings

Monday, July 17, 2006

Day 41: San Diego

Today we made our way farther South in California as we watched the San Diego Padres play the Atlanta Braves in Petco Park. Our tickets were directly behind home plate in the upper deck, the 2nd row from the top of the stadium. The Braves caught fire for a 6-run 4th inning, capped by a Chipper Jones home run and won 10-5. Ben chose the Padres over the Braves, so I take my 2nd win in as many days and move to 15-13 overall on the trip.

We were again joined by my cousin, Maryel, who provided housing again via her aunt in Los Angeles. We left at 9:00am, and were parked in San Diego shortly after 11:00. After lunch at Burger King, we walked down to the stadium.

During the game, we saw our 1st ejections of the trip. 2 Padres coaches were tossed for arguing balls and strikes after some very questionable calls by the umpire. This culminated with manager Bruce Boche throwing his hat on the ground and then having the ump step on it. Then, 2 innings later, Jeff Francoeur was ejected for arguing as well, and manager Bobby Cox came storming out of the dugout and was quickly tossed. It was about time we saw some coaches go toe-to-toe with the umps on our trip.

On the drive from San Diego to Phoenix, we stopped to play catch in the desert. We eased our way into the desert, making sure no scorpions or snakes were in the area, and threw until one of us made an uncatchable throw. This took about 20 minutes before I zinged one over Ben's head and off into the sand. Continuing on the drive, we skirted by a nasty storm, that had constant lightning, and what would have been very heavy rain if it had been in our path.

Here are the statistical updates:
1-end of day odometer: 33,273
2-miles traveled today: 534
3-miles traveled total: 16,508
4-states traveled in today: California, Arizona
bonus stat: teams are 7-0 if their 3rd baseman hits in the no. 3 spot and has at least 1 RBI and does not ground out to the shortstop

PS - we are sorry that it has been so long for pictures to be posted, they will be up as soon as possible

Day 40: Los Angeles (AL)

Today we were back in Los Angeles as the Angels of Anaheim hosted the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Angels Stadium. The Angels took advantage of the last place D-Rays, and went onto a 9-2 blowout with the help of a grand slam by Vladimir Guerrero. It was our 1st grand slam of the trip, so that was pretty exciting. It was my turn to pick, so I had the Angels and they now give me a 14-13 lead in picking games against Ben on the trip.

We were again joined by my cousin, Maryel, for the game in LA. There was 1 very nervous point prior to the game today when we pulled into the parking lot. A large sign said, "Event sold out today." We did not buy our tickets early to the game, since they were playing the lowly Devil Rays, but thankfully there were tickets still available at the ticket window. So, we are not sure why that sign would have been out before the game.

After getting into Maryel's at about 2:30 the night before, we went to a local restaurant for breakfast, and then got a tour of the Vandenberg AFB from Maryel. It was pretty neat to see the different facilities that are on base, which included a rocket launching pad that was unfortunately hidden by the fog.

After some Subway for lunch we headed down to the game. Our tickets were pretty close to behind home plate, in the third tier of seats. Angels stadium was really nice, with a fountain and rocks in center field that was cool.

Here are the statistical updates:
1-end of day odometer: 32,739
2-miles traveled today: 153
3-miles traveled total: 15,974
4-states traveled in today: California
bonus stat: this one come courtesy of the atlas in Maryel's car: the distance from Albuquerque to San Francisco and from Amarillo to San Diego is exactly the same at 1,111 miles

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Day 39: San Francisco

Today we were back to baseball, as we drove to San Francisco to watch the Giants host the Philadelphia Phillies. Former St. Louis Cardinal, Matt Morris, out-pitched former Pittsburgh Pirate, Jon Lieber with the help of a Ray Durham home run in the 4th inning. Ben had chosen the Giants, so we are now even at 13-13 in picking games on the trip.

AT&T Park was a great ballpark, situated right on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. McCovey Cove actually was larger than I had expected, and was also closer to the stadium than I would have thought as well. Also, the weather in San Francisco was freezing cold. We might have been the only people in the stadium in short sleeves, as the temperature was certainly not above 55 degrees. Quite a contrast from the 110 degrees we had become accustomed to in Las Vegas.

We made the drive from Vegas to San Fran in about 8.5 hours, making our usual stop at Subway for lunch. Also along the way, we drove by one of the largest dairy farms that either of us had ever seen. Thousands of cattle could be seen standing out in the summer heat, standing around and munching on grass. It was perhaps one of the worst smelling experiences of the trip, and that is saying something since we have gone about 2 weeks now without doing any laundry.

Our 5 nights in Las Vegas with Moutray and Morgan were an absolute blast. Our room at the Luxor was quite spacious, and our only complaint would be having to pay for the internet. On the gaming side, we all put in quite a few hours at the poker tables, in particular the $2-$4 limit tables were our most fun, providing both entertaining banter and the soft play we were looking for. However, surprisingly enough we all showed profits at the roulette tables and slots as well. You just have to know when to stand up from the table, that is the key to beating Vegas.

Another glorious aspect about playing in a Vegas casino is the free drinks. Whether you want water, juice, soda, beer, or liquor, it is complimentary while you are playing any limit of any game. Quite a nice perk, especially since it is delivered right to your seat while you are playing. All things totaled, Ben and I are both able to say that we made 1 withdrawal from a casino ATM when we arrived on Sunday night, and had more money in our wallets when we left on Friday morning. I guess all of that poker playing is finally starting to pay off!

Here are the statistical updates:
1-end of day odometer: 32,586
2-miles traveled today: 877
3-miles traveled total: 15,821
4-states traveled in today:
bonus stat: home teams are 3-0 when Ben and I are shivering at the end of the game

Monday, July 10, 2006

Day 34-38: Los Angeles (NL), Las Vegas

Today we saw the Dodgers host the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium in L.A. It was a good pitching matchup, with Aaron Sele out-dueling Jason Schmidt for a 3-1 victory for the Dodgers. I had LA today, so I finally put an end to Ben's comeback and take a 13-12 lead into the all-star break.

Dodgers Stadium was very big, and our seats were in the outfield bleachers. One rather strange thing though, was that if you sit in the outfield bleachers at Dodgers Stadium you are cut off from the rest of stadium. We could not walk all the way around, and also, there was no alcohol being served in the bleachers. This was probably a good thing with the rowdy crowds that are often out there. We had a great time at the game with my 2nd cousin, Maryel Harding, who joined us after providing a place to stay in Lompoc, CA. Also, it was her birthday, so Happy Birthday Maryel!

After the game, we made the 270 mile drive to the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. We are joined by a couple of friends from Furman, Moutray McLaren and Morgan Purvis who flew out for a week at the poker tables with us.

Unfortunately, most of the casino hotels do not have free internet in the hotels, so we will not be able to update the blog each night, so this will be the last post until late Thrusday night most likely. So, don't worry too much if you don't hear from us, but call us if you want some fun stories hopefully.

All statistical information will be updated with the next post.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Day 33: Oakland

And the comeback continues. After seeing our 24th game of the trip between the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, we are tied 12-12 in picking games. The game started out with Jered Weaver of the Angels continuing the shutdown of the A's. Yesterday, the Angels pitcher gave up a leadoff double and then retired the next 27 batters. Today, Weaver pitched 7 innings of shutout ball and the Angels bats came alive for six runs to help the Angels beat the A's 6-4. Ben chose the Angels today because Weaver entered the day 5-0 with a 1.35 era.

The drive today was another beautiful trip through the west as we headed south on I-5 through the mountains. We made a stop in Weed, CA to get gas and had a great view of snow covered Mt. Shasta which stands at 14,162 ft. While in Weed, we paid a painful $3.299 per gallon.

As we were walking up to buy tickets for the game, we encountered two ladies looking to sell two tickets. They were in the lower tier on the third base side 19 rows up. We paid them $20 total for the tickets and got to sit with these nice ladies for the whole game. They were a pleasure to meet and we gave them the blog address so hopefully they are reading this post.

Also, during the game we witnessed our second fan ejection of the trip. A young man in Angels attire decided to consume a few too many beverages of the adult variety and began to antagonize the fans around him. Eventually, after an obsenity-laced tirad, he was escorted from the McAfee Coliseum just as a the group of men sitting near us during the Boston game.

We would like to extend a warm thank you to the lady working the desk at the Best Value Inn last night. She had a vacancy after we had stopped at 4 other hotels which were all full. They had wireless internet and a continental breakfast.

Here are the statistical updates:
1-end of day odometor: 31,281
2-miles traveled today: 899
3-miles traveled total: 14,638
4-states traveled in today: Oregon, California
bonus stat: teams are 0-3 when their cleanup hitter has 2 or more walks

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Day 32: Seattle

Today we made our way to the West Coast, as we watched the Seattle Mariners host the Detroit Tigers at Safeco Field. The Tigers, having the best record in baseball, would have seemed like an easy selection for me. However, I decided to get sneaky and take the Mariners (plus 1.5). This plan backfired when Tigers starter Jeremy Bonderman went 8.2 innings, allowing only 1 run, and the Tigers won 6-1. Ben’s improbable comeback continues, and he now trails 12-11 in picking games on the trip.

Safeco Field was a great ballpark. It has a retractable roof, which rolls across on wheels when it is needed, however it was open all night for our game. Our seats were in the center field bleachers, but we found ourselves watching the game from the standing area above the bull pens in left field. There was a very nice overhang that provided a nice view, and it was not very crowded.

For the third time on our trip, it was “Ladies’ Night” at the ballpark. As a result, Ben and I were ineligible for the baby blue visors that were being handed out to female fans as they entered the stadium. We have been more fortunate at some other parks though: in New York we received Budweiser bottle openers from the Yankees, in Baltimore we received beach towels from the Orioles, in Texas we received fleece blankets from the Rangers, and in Houston we received commerative pins from the Astros.

We left Boise, ID at about 10:08 MST, and arrived in Seattle, WA shortly before 5:30 PST. The drive through Oregon and Washington was beautiful, and we got a very good view of Mt. Rainer, which stands at over 14,000 feet. The top of many of the mountains we saw were still capped with snow, so that was pretty neat to see in the middle of July. Continuing with the geography theme, while we were driving out of the stadium, we noticed that the sun was still setting at 10:30pm. I guess it because Seattle is basically Southern Alaska, as even their radio broadcast advertisements in the stadium listed their Anchorage and Juneau affiliates.

After the game, we drove down to Salem where we are staying at Best Value Inn. Special thanks again to Ethan Asher and his family for hosting us last night. The steak dinner was delicious, even though we didn’t eat until nearly 11:00pm. At least we got the true, “Asther” experience.

Here are the statistical updates:
1-end of day odometer: 30,382
2-miles traveled today: 730
3-miles traveled total: 13,739
4-states traveled in today: Idaho, Oregon, Washington
bonus stat: teams are 8-0 when their no. 1, 2, and 3 hitters all score a run

Friday, July 07, 2006

Day 31: Travel

Today was another day on the road without a game, as we made our way from Denver to Boise, ID, where we are staying with fellow Furman tennis player Ethan Asher. We made the 800+ mile trek in just under 12 hours, and this included a lengthy lunch stop at Burger King, along with another stop for gas in Southern Idaho where we threw the baseball around for a little bit to get out of the seated position for a little while.

The scenery out here is simply beautiful. We drove through the Continental Divide in Wyoming, and were on the coast of the Great Salt Lake in Northern Utah during our drive today. Another nice aspect of today's trip was the speed limit being 75 mph all day long, which made the miles go by even quicker without the worry of a speeding ticket.

While in Idaho, we drove around the outskirts of what appeared to be a pretty nasty storm that was brewing. The winds were extremely strong, definitely having some affect on the vehicle. Also, very dark clouds were forming almost at ground level, so that made things look pretty dangerous as well. But, we were able to get by the storm before the worst hit, while still enjoying the great views.

Tomorrow we head to Seattle, another 500 miles down the road. Thanks again to Ben's Uncle Adam and Aunt Zhanna for letting us have a place to sleep in Denver, and for the delicious breakfast this morning.

Here are the statistical updates:
1-end of day odometer: 29,652
2-miles traveled today: 836
3-miles traveled total: 13,009
4-states traveled in today: Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho
bonus stat: instead of a statistical fact, we thought we would pass along some words of wisdom for today ... as the ancient carpenter says, "measure twice, cut once."

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Day 30: Colorado

Today was our venture into the Mountain Time Zone, as we watched the Colorado Rockies play the San Francisco Giants at Coors Field in Denver, CO. Josh Fogg was on the hill for the Rockies, and worked 7 solid innings. The Rockies had a home run from Matt Holliday, and won by a score of 5-3. Variance has indeed caught up with me, as Ben went with the coin-flipping technique to pick the Rockies tonight, so he now trails only 12-10 in picking games on our trip.

Coors Field was a very neat ballpark. One cool feature was a purple ring around one of the higher rows in the upper deck seats. This marking signified exactly 1 mile in altitude above sea level. Our seats were only $4, as we sat in the Rock Pile about 550 feet away from home plate in center field. The view was great and we could clearly see balls and strikes being directly behind the pitcher.

On our way to the stadium, we had another encounter with the law. A policeman in charge of crosswalks stopped us halfway across an intersection to have the following conversation:
Policeman: "This is Denver, and here, you wait for your traffic signal or your policeman to wave you through an intersection."
Ben: Sorry, I thought you had already started to signal for us to cross.
Policeman: You got a bit of a head start on me. Next time, it will be a $60 citation, and I don't think you want to pay $60.
Unreal, there were literally no cars coming on the street and he had started to walk into the street when we took one step off the sidewalk, not to mention that a jogger had passed us and was half way into the street, but got no such attention from the police officer.

The drive from Kansas City to Denver was enthralling, the plains just kept on going, and the 600 miles passed relatively quickly, as we made the total trip in about 9 hours. This included a nice stop in Oakley, KS for Subway lunch. Then, shortly after crossing into Colorado, we stopped at a rest area with a nice grassy knoll on which we played catch for a while. It was our only physical activity of the day, and felt good despite the howling wind that we had to negotiate.

Here are the statistical updates:
1- end of day odometer: 28,816
2- miles traveled today: 667
3-miles traveled total: 12,173
4-states traveled in today: Missouri, Kansas, Colorado
bonus stat: entering the Rockies game, pitcher Josh Fogg was 0-27 at the plate, but his RBI single in the 5th ended the rut at the plate, putting his average at a cool .036 on the year.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Day 29: Kansas City

Today we celebrated the 4th of July in Kansas City as we watched the Royals host the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium. The Roayls played solid baseball, especially with their relief pitchers, who did not allow a runner past 2nd base in the final 4 innings. They also had timely hitting from David DeJesus and John Buck and were able to pull out a 7-2 victory. Figuring that the Royals were the worst team in baseball, I took the Twins, but they did not come through for me, so Ben's comeback continues and he now only trails 12-9 in picking games on the trip.

Kauffman Stadium was a unique, older ballpark. Situated right next to Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs play, these 2 stadiums make up the Harry S. Truman sports complex. The parking around the stadium was plentiful, so much so that Ben and I played catch for a short while before entering the stadium. Another nice feature of the stadium was the waterfall in right-center field. In between innings, it would change color, and provided an overall nice backdrop in the outfield.

We left Dallas at 8:15 this morning, leaving the Brock residence after some cereal for breakfast. Thanks so much to Leigh and her family for allowing us to stay for 2 nights and for a couple of excellent meals. After stopping at the Big Cabin Truck Plaza in Big Cabin, OK for gas and food, we made it to Kansas City around 4:15. The Big Cabin is one of the nicer truck stops that either of us had seen, so be sure to check it out next time you're in Northeast Oklahoma.

For dinner, we stopped at our usual Subway for a quick meal. After the game, the Royals put on a fireworks display that was nice, but unfortuantely had to be stopped early because the winds were too gusty. This was too bad, because one of my favorite times of the year is the grand finale to the fireworks show on the 4th of July each summer. Hope everyone else had a great Independence Day as well!

Here are the statistical updates:
1-end of day odometer: 28,149
2-miles traveled today: 524
3-miles traveled total: 11,506
4-states traveled in today: Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri
bonus stat: when the home team scores in the eighth inning, they are 4-0 on the trip
*sorry for no pictures lately, they will be up as soon as possible, hopefully by Thursday night for sure

Day 28: Houston

Tonight's guest blogger: Ben

Tonight at Minute Maid Park in Houston, TX, Scott and I were treated to a special event. We got to see Roger Clemens pitch for the Astros against the Chicago Cubs. Although he labored through five innings throwing nearly 115 pitches, the Astros bats finally came alive for him and he was able to come away with the win. It was great getting the chance to see one of the all-time greats in action before he hangs it up. Since it was my choice tonight, I naturally took The Rocket and picked up another game on Scott to make the score 12-8 in his favor.

The ballpark tonight was definitely unique and fun to watch a ballgame in because all the fans are right on top of the field. However, the left field porch is a bit of a joke. Any long fly ball to left leaves the yard and is not the proper dimensions for a pro field if you ask me.

As we all know, baseball is a game of statistics. Without stats, the game would not be what it is or mean so much to so many people. However, the statistics that are flashed on the jumbotrons have gotten a bit out of control. Tonight, we were informed that Brad Ausmus of the Astros is tied for 667th on the all time hits list. I am sure knowing this enhances everyone's life a great deal just as it did ours so we figured we would share it.

This morning it was nice to sleep in. After a late wake up and a bit of a jog, Scott and I went swimming in the Brock's pool until Wimbledon came on. After having some great leftovers for lunch, we headed to Houston for the 7:05 game. We arrived at about 5:15 after stopping to get the oil changed. After the game we turned right around and drove the four hours back to Dallas to stay with the Brock family for one more night. Both of the drives were uneventful but if anyone is driving tomorrow for the holiday, watch out for the state troopers because they are out in force.

Here are the statistical updates:
1-end of day odometer: 27,625
2-miles traveled today: 507
3-miles traveled total: 10,982
4-states traveled in today: Texas
bonus stat: teams whose starting pitcher gets pulled before the fifth inning are 0-10 on our trip
bonus stat 2 (since everything is bigger in Texas we needed two bonus stats): the statue of Sam Houston along Interstate 45 is 67 feet tall

Monday, July 03, 2006

Day 27: Texas

Today we made our way to the Lone Star State as we saw the Texas Rangers host the Houston Astros at Ameriquest Field in Arlington. Kevin Millwood was on the mound for the Rangers, but he had to leave due to injury in the 3rd inning, and the Astros went on to score 7 runs in that frame, running away with a 9-5 victory. I chose the Rangers tonight, so Ben's comeback continues, and he now trails 12-7 overall in picking games on the trip.

Ameriquest Field was definitely one of the nicest ballparks we have seen on the trip so far. It was very well laid out, and easy to move around in, despite there being a big crowd at the game tonight. The Rangers also had some nice features to remember their great players from the past, including a large statue of Nolan Ryan, with a list of his accomplishments, in the area behind center field.

We drove down from St. Louis, leaving at 5:45am. I started out the drive for the first 5+ hours, and Ben took us the rest of the way until we arrived in Dallas at the Brock residence mid-afternoon. Driving through Oklahoma was very nice, mainly because the speed limit was 75 mph. It is nice to be able to get down the highway above 74 mph without having to worry about the highway patrol (see Day 22).

Once we arrived, we were treated to an excellent, Texas-style barbeque dinner with cheesy potatos, and baked beans. It was an delicious, filling meal, before we headed down to the stadium.

Before I wrap up tonight's post, I must brag a little bit about Ben and my own's navigational abilities. Tonight, returning from the ballpark, we did not have to use any technological or topographical aid to return the 30 or so miles to the house we are staying at. We simply relied on memory and natural ability, quite an accomplishment and I just thought we should give ourselves a pat on the back.

Here are the statistical updates:
1-end of day odometer: 27,118
2-miles traveled today: 709
3-miles traveled total: 10,475
4-states traveled in today: Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas
bonus stat: teams are 0-5 when their no. 6 hitter goes 0-4 during the game

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Day 26: Leisure

Today was a nice relaxing day for us to take care of a few odds and ends, along with enjoy a brief period of rest before we head out West on the trip. After waking up, we watched a little bit of the matches from Wimbledon. Agassi played his last match at the "Big W" today, going down to Rafael Nadal in straight sets. What a career the man has had, and I'm sure he'll get quite the send-off during the U.S. Summer Hard Court season.

Then, Mr. Pauluhn helped us wash Ben's car, by helping us I mean he did most of the grunt work, while we helped out with some of the finishing touches. The juices from highway insects were pretty thick, but after an hour and a half the car was looking good as new.

Then, we got back inside just in time to see the penalty kicks in the World Cup game between England and Portugal. That was unbelievable, with Portugal winning 3-1. The pressure that is under each of those players is like nothing I can imagine. Literally, everyone in their nation is watching and expecting them to come through. The Brits were truly crushed, as they had thought this was their year to shine in the world's biggest sporting event.

Afterwards, we headed over to Ben's grandparents house to play some tennis. Ben and I hit for a little over an hour, and he took a set off of me by a score of 6-4. So, he is now 2-1 in sets against me on the trip. We cooled off by jumping in the pool. The previously mentioned successful St. Louis businessman (see Day 2), Kevin Lackey, also came over for the afternoon, and we had a good time catching up with him.

Dinner was excellent, as steaks were grilled along with baked potatoes and corn on the cob. It was a delicious dinner, so thanks to Ben's parents and grandparents for that feast. It's an early night for us, as we will be up early to head for Texas and our game in Arlington tomorrow night.

Here are the statistical updates:
1-end of day odometer: 26,409
2-miles traveled today: 0
3-miles traveled total: 9,766
4-states traveled in today: Missouri
bonus stat: Red and Yellow cards were not introduced into World Cup play until the 1970 event that was held in Mexico.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Day 25: Travel

Today was another travel day for us, as we have completed the Eastern part of our journey. Last night, following the Blue Jays game, we drove until we got to the border at Port Huron, MI and stayed at a Best Western. We woke up at 8:00am EST this morning, and watched a bit of Wimbledon, before getting on the road.

The drive to St. Louis was about 600 miles, and our only delay was about 45 minutes worth of traffic that we got caught in around Chicago. After that, it was smooth driving down I-55 until we made our way to Ben's house where we now have our only stretch of 2 consecutive days without seeing a game. It is probably a good thing, since the next 8 days will be the most grueling of the trip, making our way to Texas and then out West.

We stopped for lunch at Taco Bell, our 2nd appearance at the Mexican fast food chain. The service was pretty slow, however the tacos and bean burritos were excellent, and cheap as usual. The best part of the day though was the spaghetti dinner that was waiting for us, prepared by Mrs. Pauluhn. It was absolutely delicious!

We then had a few members of Ben's family stop by and make sure the trip was going well. Ben's Uncle Mike, who is a truck driver, answered many of our questions about life on the road, and we now feel even better prepared for the next 10,000 miles of the trip.

Here are the statistical updates:
1-end of day odometer: 26,409
2-miles traveled today: 629
3-miles traveled total: 9,766
4-states traveled in today: Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri
bonus stat: Taco Bell is currently running a special where you can get any combination of 10 hard/soft shell tacos or bean burritos for $7.90. The regular price for each item is only $0.79. Heck of a deal.
*All pictures and information is now completely up to date!

Day 24: Toronto

Welcome to Canada, eh? Today we crossed the border for the only time on our trip and watched the Blue Jays host the Washington Nationals at the Rogers Centre. The Jays had their #1 man, Roy Halladay, on the mound tonight, so Ben went with the Blue Jays (minus 1.5). Halladay was effective, and solid relief kept the Nats silent late, as the Blue Jays bats pounded out an 8-4 victory. Ben gets the win and now trails 12-6 in picking games against me on the trip.

We were on our own for buying tickets tonight, which meant the cheap seats were in order. We sat in the upper deck, directly behind home plate for $10 US per seat, not a bad deal at all. We sat by the world’s biggest Blue Jay fan in section 524b. A woman with a thick Caribbean accent was the consummate fan, and was adamant that I give her a high-5 anytime the Blue Jays made a good play. It was quite the experience.

The Rogers Centre was a very impressive complex. It had a very new feeling to it, despite it being the same building that was used when Toronto won their World Series titles in ’92 and ’93. The hotel rooms that overlook center field looked amazing, unfortunately, they were a little too pricey for our tight budget. Getting into the city and finding our way around was a little difficult, as my ever reliable map program, and Ben’s trusty street atlas had limited information on the roads in Canada. After a short while, both before and after the game, we were on the right track without too much delay.

Crossing the border was not as difficult as we anticipated. In fact, on our way into Canada, we were only asked the following questions: 1) Are you U.S. citizens? 2) Where are you from? 3) Where are you going? 4) Do you have any goods with you besides clothing? After we sufficiently answered those questions, we were free to continue on, just like any other toll booth. On the way back, it was also rather easy. Although, after informing the officer that we had 1 birth certificate and 2 social security cards to prove citizenship, he replied, "Your Social Security card isn't worth a darn!" and then proceeded to let us go without any more questioning.

We had to buy some gas while across the border as well, and since we did not have any Canadian currency with us, we ended up paying a little more than usual. They are glad to take American Dollars, but they still charge the same price as Canadian Dollars. So, the approximately $34 dollars that was charged to our debit card, took $34 American Dollars out of our account, but we only got $34 Canadian Dollars worth of gas. The conversion is about $1 US = $0.71 Canada.

The drive up from Baltimore was a mental grind, as we were on state roads or US highways, for about 90% of the drive, as opposed to the much preferred Dwight D. Eisenhower Interstate System. Dwight must have gotten his idea for the Interstate System after driving north on 219 through Pennsylvania and New York. After leaving at 8:06 from the Crook’s, we made our 1st stop for lunch in New York around 1:30 at Burger King. Ben and I both agreed that Burger King’s hamburgers seemed better than usual, so maybe Subway will have a bit of a challenger for the remainder of our journey. Then, the drive continued north until we our car was parked by 5:45pm.

Here are the statistical updates:
1-end of day odometer: 25,780
2-miles traveled today: 670
3-miles traveled total: 9,137
4-states/provinces traveled in today: Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Ontario, Michigan
bonus stat: teams are 4-0 on our trip when they score at least 1 run in both the 3rd and 6th innings

*pictures and all loose odds and ends should be fixed for the entire blog by tomorrow night...thanks for all the support everyone!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Day 23: Baltimore

Today we saw the Baltimore Orioles host the Philadelphia Phillies in beautiful Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The stadium was awesome, but what was even better was our experience during the game. We are staying in Baltimore with fellow Furman tennis player, Brian Crook, and his family. Brian's uncle, Bob Cecil, who works for the Orioles, was able to set us up with 3 tickets that were 3 rows behind home plate, the seats you see every game when you watch on television. The Orioles out-slugged the Phillies, taking a 12-5 victory. I picked the O's, and now have a 12-5 edge in picking games on our trip.

The highlight of the evening came during the 3rd inning rain delay, when the WBAL Radio Broadcast invited us to do a live interview with them. We were able to do a full segment, probably about 10 minutes worth of air time, where they asked us all sorts of details about the trip. Questions were raised from how we paid for the trip, where they were a bit surprised by our poker explanation, to logistics of making the schedule, to what places and amenities we had enjoyed the most. The situation could not have worked out better, as they were looking to fill time during the rain dealy, and seemed genuinely interested in our trip around the country. We hope to have the clip of while we were on air available from WBAL in the next few days, and will make it available if that happens. We would like to especially thank the Crook family for setting up this amazing opportunity for us.

After we finished the radio interview, we saw Jim Palmer, who does color commentary for the Orioles t.v. broadcast, standing in the hallway. After Katherine Dietrich, our radio tour guide, introduced us, we were able to get a picture with the Hall of Fame pitcher.

Also during the game, there were some festive fans sitting a few rows behind us, who did an excellent job of heckling the opposition. At one point, one of the drunken fans correctly called 6 consecutive pitchers, before the pitcher threw the ball, pretty impressive. They also started calling me "Roberto," and asked several intriguing questions about the trip that aren't quite blog-appropriate.

The day started out with Ben and me watching Wimbledon in the morning, waiting for Brian to get back from work. While we waited, we were treated to Dunkin Donuts courtesy of Mr. Crook. We then headed over to Chesnut Ridge Country Club for lunch and some tennis, which turned out to last the whole afternoon. After an hour or so, we called Brian's Dad to be our 4th for some doubles. The 1st matchup was Brian and me vs. Ben and Mr. Crook. Brian won the toss, deferred to the elder statesmen, and never looked back, winning 6-3. Then, Ben and I took on Brian and his Dad, winning 6-4 again. The results of these matches only confirm my superiority as a doubles specialist.

Before the game, we headed downtown for an excellent dinner at Bo Brooks, a crab house that was delicious. It was the 1st time eating crab for both Ben and myself, and we enjoyed the entire process. Thanks again to the Crooks for providing wonderful meals and housing for our 2 nights in Baltimore.

Here are the statistical updates:
1-end of day odometer: 25,110
2-miles traveled today: 0
3-miles traveled total: 8,467
4-states traveled in today: Maryland
bonus stat: teams are 4-0 on our trip when their no. 2 hitter scores 2 or more runs

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Day 22: Travel

Today's guest blogger: Ben

Sorry for the missed guest blog yesterday but us being a couple of road weary people are finding it harder to keep track of what day it is. We left Coral Springs, FL at exactly 5:30 this morning, spent the rest of the day on Interstate 95 and arrived at the Crook residence in Baltimore, MD at 10:10. This was our longest driving day so far and if the rest of the trip goes as planned, will be our longest of the summer.

This may sound like an uneventful day however, the South Carolina highway patrol found a way to make it noteworthy. We were passing through Sumter, South Carolina about 8 hours into our trip today when a police car pulled up behind us. Scott was driving at the time and the cop rode our bumper for about three miles before finally turning on his lights. We pulled into the grass and the officer came up to my window on the passenger side. He asked for license and registration and naturally I could not find my registration paper. At this time he noticed the Red Bull in our cupholders and began acting suspicious of our travels. He asked Scott to step out of the vehicle for some questions while I stayed in the car. He proceeded to grill Scott about his life history at which time Scott told him about our trip. He came to the window and asked me the same questions as Scott to see if our story was legit.

He then went back to Scott and asked him if he had any drugs in the car. Heroine, meth, or marijuana just to name a few. He then came back to my window to tell me he issued Scott a warning for doing 74 in a 70. That's right, 74 in a 70. By this time I had found the registration sheet and gave it to him so I avoided a warning for this. To top it all off, the officer waited behind us to pull onto the highway at which time Scott, still rattled by the whole incident, killed the engine trying to pull out of the grass into traffic.

That is about all that happened today seeing as though we spent 16 and 1/2 hours in the car. We did find gas for under 2.70 all day so that was some good news (I guess).

Here are the statistical updates:
1-end of day odometor: 25,110
2-miles traveled today: 1,101
3-miles traveled total: 8,467
4-states traveled in today: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington D.C., Maryland

Monday, June 26, 2006

Day 21: Florida

Today we saw the Florida Marlins host the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at the massive Dolphin Stadium, which was filled to about 10% capacity. The "Fish," fueled by a 5-run, 2-out rally in the 5th inning, kept my D-Rays down by a final score of 8-5. It was Ben's turn to pick tonight, and he had the Marlins. Both teams are so bad that we each wanted to give the other a 1.5 run spread, but decided that straight up was the proper spread. The comeback is officially on now, as Ben has won 2 straight and is only down 11-5 in picking games on the trip.

The attendance, or lack thereof, was really quite sad, considering that this organization has won 2 World Series in the last 10 years. There were quite literally ZERO people in the upper deck, and no more than 3,000 people in the stadium as a whole. The vendors at Dolphin Stadium were very entertaining however, as they could be heard throughout the stadium. At times, it seemed as though they were trying to entertain more than they were trying to sell their product.

Also, a quick word to Josh Johnson, Marlins pitcher from tonight. Make sure you know how many outs there are before you pitch the ball. In the 3rd inning, a ball was hit sharply back to him with 1 out and a man on 1st. Johnson calmly tossed the ball to 1st and began to walk off the field, as if that was the 3rd out of the inning. Come on man, get your head in the game.

During our recent days on the road, the check engine light came on again, despite the car continuing to run smoothly. Ben woke up early this morning to take it into the local Mazda dealer, where it was determined that the car had a "faulty gas cap" that needed to be replaced under warranty. All was not lost though, as the shop had free "Pac-Man" for Ben to take part in while he waited. Hopefully the car won't have any more problems that require Ben waking up early and visiting the nearest dealership.

After he returned, we spent some time in the pool with Christopher and Emily, who are both becoming quite excellent swimmers. Then, Ben and I went to a local park and hit for about an hour in the humid summer heat. Before leaving, Tammy cooked an excellent feast, including marinated steak, corn on the cob, baked potatoes, and assorted fruits. It was absolutely delicious.

Special thanks to Barbara Messana for getting us 4 tickets to the game tonight. They were great seats, 16 rows back right at 1st base. My brother Al joined us for the game, along with my nephew Christopher, who was taking in his 1st Major League game. Welcome to the show kid!

Here are the statistical updates:
1-end of day odometer: 24,009
2-miles traveled today: 82
3-miles traveled total: 7,366
4-states traveled in today: Florida
bonus stat: teams are 5-0 on the trip when their no. 3 hitter walks or gets hit by a pitch in the 1st inning