My road trip to the ALDS Game 2 between the Yankees and Indians this past weekend was a blast, despite this absolutely horrible cold that I was (and still am) fighting tooth and nail for the duration.
Last Thursday afternoon, Tom and I got underway toward Wytheville, VA and ultimately Cleveland. After following Game 1 of that series in the car via my BlackJack being tethered to my Mac (truly an amazing thing, getting broadband over my phone in Charlotte on my Mac in the car), we stopped in a Chili’s just south of Lake Norman where we watched the end of that game. Stoked by that Indians’ performance, we pressed on through the beginning of the mountains in Virginia.
After catching a few Zs and a continental breakfast while watching Fox & Friends talk to (M)Ann Coulter, we continued toward Cleveland, making it all the way up to Twinsburg, OH before we stopped to get some Wendy’s. That was a hop, skip, and a jump from his uncle Kevin’s place. We met his uncle Kevin and aunt Nancy and began the trek downtown to Jacobs Field.
Let me tell you something about Cleveland — this is a town that loves their Indians. Everywhere we went during the trip there was some sort of Indians fanfare. This is a town that really does a great job of becoming a baseball town. The atmosphere was amazing. I even saw Indians jerseys emblazoned with VAUGHN and DORN, a nod to Major League. (Now if only Harry Doyle was calling the game!)
Jacobs Field is a sweet ballpark. We were in the right-field upper reserve seats (read: way up there). The place just rocked, though. “It’s Tribe Time Now” towels were handed out to each fan, and they were waving all night. The game was quite a nailbiter — as most of you know, Game 2 was the infamous Bug Game. And you know, it was funny — I didn’t really notice the bugs until I got a text message from my brother asking me how bad they were. I took another look and there was Joba Chamberlain fighting them off. Seeing A-Rod spray Off! on players and umpires was something nobody will see again in baseball. You could definitely tell Chamberlain was struggling with those bugs. His first inning was insane — he touched 99 several times on the gun. But his second inning, the infamous eighth where the bugs really took hold…another story. His command and rhythm were all off. It was nutty, but his wild pitch kept the Indians in the game.
And then there was Fausto Carmona, who put on a pitching performance for the ages. If C.C. Sabathia weren’t on the same staff, Carmona would garner serious Cy Young attention, I think. The guy was just filthy for nine innings — his only mistake being a solo home run to Melky Cabrera in the third. His 113th and final pitch, a 94 MPH sinker from hell, had A-Rod flailing like I’m known to do in a batting cage set to slow. Carmona managed to stand tough through the bugs — probably because the bugs, known as Lake Erie midges, are a common summertime occurrence as Jacobs Field is just a hop, skip, and a jump from Erie.
I have to hand it to the fans in Cleveland. They did not relent, even as the game got into extra innings. They got tired, sure, especially as the Indians seemed to strand the equivalent of a 40-man roster on base against Mariano Rivera, but the energy found its way at the right time. The place erupted into pandemonium when Travis Hafner got his game-winning base hit, bringing Cleveland hero Kenny Lofton home.
Folks, there is no environment like playoff baseball. Period. It’s an experience I recommend for all baseball fans.
After the game, we popped across the street for a celebratory beer and then headed on home. The next day involved some sleeping in and running all around the city. That night, I got to go boating on Erie and saw Cleveland’s skyline from the lake. VERY cool. After that, Tom and I went to Freeway Lanes in Wickliffe, OH and bowled a game. Freeway Lanes is not your ordinary bowling alley…it has 96 lanes. You could cram two Royal Zs into this building and still have room left over. Insane.
Sunday, we started to leave…slowly. We saw one more of Tom’s family members for a bit, watched the Browns stumble against the Patriots in the first half, and then we started heading back…only to be intercepted by Chipotle. We don’t have Chipotle down this way, so an apt comparison is Moe’s on steroids, with better food. After logging onto the Mac, I noticed that it was picking up a WiFi signal from an Apple Store. We went around the corner, and BAM! Apple Store. I played with an iPhone for a bit, and was really impressed with the device except for the whole not being able to load anything on it problem. If Apple ever opens that up, and fixes a few other nagging issues (no removable memory? no 3G?), I may be game.
We finally got on the road back to Charleston at 4:00 PM. Thanks to AM’s propensity for bouncing off the ionosphere at night, we were able to listen to that night’s Indians game pretty clearly all the way through Virginia on a Cleveland AM station. I got back to my apartment at 3:30 AM, ready and raring for work and class (and a midterm!) the next day. ;)
It was a great trip. If I ever travel almost 700 miles for another baseball game, I hope it too goes into extra innings — now that’s getting your money’s worth. Bugs are optional.