Alrighty, it's been quite a long time since I did one of these, and if I'm going to bust one out after the end of the year, may as well make it the biggest and the baddest. When I'm not trying to sound a whole lot smarter than I really am when writing player reviews, or analyzing the depths of the other teams in the division, or other nerdy baseball topics in general, I feel the need to have an outlet for well, being a baseball fan. Showing pictures of goofy things from my travels, experiences of various games and parks I go to, and more or less, saying the kind of crap that reminds us that baseball is supposed to be fun for everyone, the players, the fans, and all those associated with it. Ignoring stats and numbers, the better side of judgment that might say that I shouldn't have another beer, and enjoying what baseball life can sometimes bring to us, as fans.
So with that in mind, don't expect to be enlightened in any way other than "Hmm, I didn't realize royhobbs had such a drinking problem," or "I didn't realize royhobbs was such a pig," or any other fashion that I'm likely to depreciate myself in. The following fanpost is a season of highs and lows, good times and maybe not quite so good times, and all the travels and fun, with the people, food, and happenstances that made 2010, as most other seasons, one to remember.
If this is your first year of seeing my end-of-year posts, get ready for a really long post, with like 70+ pictures.
It's been a long time since we as Braves fans entered a season with as such high hopes and anticipation as 2010 held. It was Bobby Cox's final season as manager of the Braves. The team had a glut of pitching depth, both in the starting rotation, the bullpen, and even more seasoning in the minor leagues. But most importantly, the building anticipation of one, Jason Heyward. The beast-child who could run, who could throw, who could hit, my god could he hit. The legends of denting cars, hitting roofs, and making people from all around Major League Baseball spring training camps stop and turn their heads in his direction. I honestly couldn't remember the last time there was someone not only all of Atlanta was waiting to see, but baseball fans all around.
It couldn't have started more appropriately than for one legendary hall of famer, attempting to pass his torch onto whom we all hope will someday be at least half as great as Hank Aaron, as he lobs the ceremonial first pitch to young Jason Heyward.
THIS IS BRAVES COUNTRY. Personally, out of all the slogans that the team feels the need to slap onto a season, I've never really liked any of them. "Welcome to the bigs?" Lame. Now I can't think of many more off the top of my head, but I would like to go on record, and re-state that "Braves Country," I was quite fond of.
The Homer. It was the first good moment of the season, but Jason Heyward's first Major League career at-bat moon-blast off of Carlos Zambrano is easily, easily my favorite moment of the 2010 season, as I am sure it probably is for a lot of you guys. I'm sure that we all have our own individual stories of what it was like to see live, but every time I reminisce back to that moment, I'm feeling that fuzzy feeling all over again when I'm through. The crowd buzzing louder as Heyward was stepping to the plate. The soft-to-deafening chanting of LET'S GO HEYWARD!, everyone on their feet, the Heyward family a mere ten feet away from me. Ball one. Ball two. The crowd getting even unfathomably louder, and louder. The lightning fast swing of the bat, the ball erupting off the barrel, the collective gasp, and inhale as people can't believe what's happeningIT'S GONEEEE!!! Heyward's gigantic legs pumping him across the bases in some Olympic record, the fans collectively going insane, complete strangers giving each other high fives and hugs and smiles all around. It is deafening. And if magic is the unbelievable occurring, than Heyward's home run was just that - magic.
Not only do the Braves dispatch of the Cubs on Opening Day on an unforgettable April afternoon, they absolutely obliterate them, 16-5. Leaving the park on that afternoon, I simply couldn't wait until the next day for more baseball. Read my full Opening Day fanpost
Opening Day - AAA-Gwinnett
At the time, I was freelancing for a company that was slightly north of the City of Atlanta, and I was posed with the dilemma of attempting to go south to Turner Field and see more Jason Heyward, or do I go north, and go see the Gwinnett Braves' Opening Day?
The thought of being at another Opening Day had won out, even if it was "just" minor league. Opening Days are always a joyous occasion, and it would be nice to be at two, within the same organization. And before I knew it, I was arriving at the newly enshrined "Coolray Field."
As if there wasn't reason enough to see the AAA-Braves play, it would be the debut of the 20-year old Freddie Freeman to AAA, which if you don't know, is pretty absurdly young in its own right. But if anyone could handle it all season, it would be Freeman.
This is actually Freddie Freeman's first AAA hit. The bum couldn't be like his BFF, Jason Heyward, and homer, and had to settle for a plain clean hit to left-center instead.
Some familiar faces that I'm sure we're going to be seeing a lot of in coming years, and much like Opening Day for the G-Braves, I hope it's a lot more of this to come for years - Jonny Venters setting up Craig Kimbrel for the save, but I wouldn't argue if it were the other way around, too.
And despite my horrendous track record of seeing Braves affiliates play live, the G-Braves defeat the Charlotte Knights, and successfully start off their season on a winning note. Read my full Gwinnett Braves Opening Day fanpost
Opening Weekend - A+ Myrtle Beach
I had a bit of the Opening Day bug, and despite the fact that the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, in their last year as a Braves affiliate had had their Opening Day, they were still celebrating Opening Weekend. And why shouldn't I go? The Pelicans had an impressive array of front-line starting pitching, featuring guys like Randall Delgado, Zeke Spruill, and J.J. Hoover, and some of the minor leaguers that I thought to be the most impressive to my standards.
Which means my ass was on a plane, and on that Saturday morning, I was headed off to the Beach.
I mean, Sgt. Slaughter was headed off to the Beach, since he was the guest of honor for the series against the Wilmington Blue Rocks.
And from what I heard, I hear the Sarge didn't take any (crap) from anyone, including the people who worked at Coastal Field...
And that studs like Randall Delgado lept out of his chair at the opportunity to take a picture of the G.I. Joe / Professional Wrestling legend...
Numerous Pelicans players apparently dropped everything, stopped working out, and ran over and begged Sgt. Slaughter to sign baseballs for him, which I hear he begrudgingly accepted.
Beautiful Coastal Park is honestly my favorite MiLB park out of all the ones that I've been to, and I'm jealous of Sgt. Slaughter's opportunity to enjoy some early-season Pelicans baseball at the Beach.
Apparently, the Sarge had a doppelganger wandering around the park the entire evening, and it was only a matter of time before the two of them eventually collided. But seeing as how General Adnan and the Iron Shiek were nowhere to be found these days, the Sarge realized that having a clone would be a beneficial lackey to have on staff, so they joined forces that night.
The Pelicans won that night, further baffling my the Sarge's W-L record for Braves affiliates, but from what I hear, it ended with an impressive strikeout of the rehabbing Major Leaguer, Michael Young, of the Kansas City Royals.
After the game, Gerry Rodriguez begged the Sarge if he could hold the World Championship Belt. Considering Gerry sparked the rally and drove in the winning runs, the Sarge obliged, just this once. Read the whole Myrtle Beach debacle
I always wanted to witness a no-hitter live
Unfortunately, it came at the expense of the Atlanta Braves, and the guy throwing it was Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies. Sure, I was disappointed that the Braves got no-hit, but as a fan of the game itself, I was also in awe and admiration for what Ubaldo did. So much, that I extended the olive branch of sportsmanship to the fine folks at Purple Row.
Heyward's First Walk-off
Just a day removed from being no-hit, the 2010 Atlanta Braves shrugged it off, and came back to defeat the Colorado Rockies the next afternoon. Not only did they not get no-hit, they won it on a bases-loaded hot-shot through the gap between short and third, from none other than Jason Heyward.
Not nearly as magical as Opening Day, it was still a sight to see, of the beast-child jumping up and down in joy, his much older, yet smaller teammates charging him in celebration, while the Turner Field crowd is going ballistic.
A funny thing happened in Gwinnett
CBtits came down to Atlanta on this monstrous Braves road trip, where he hit up Atlanta, Rome, and Gwinnett in various occasions, and it gave me the opportunity to do something I'd wanted to do since the G-Braves came to town - double duty. And on a Saturday afternoon, I met up with CBtits at Turner Field, where the Atlanta Braves dispatched of the Houston Astros in convincing fashion, and then we both bolted up 30 miles to Gwinnett, where we convened again, with drunk gondeeee, and watched the G-Braves give up a ton of runs to the Pawtucket Red Sox in the first inning, and then not only come back and win, but in the strangest fashion ever. Bases loaded, Mitch Jones hits a questionable moon shot, initially ruled a walk-off home run, celebrations are being had, the fans are cheering, but after a lengthy argument between umpires and Paw Sox manager Torey Lovullo, it was ruled a foul ball, and all G-Braves had to be fetched out of the locker room, and brought back onto the field. Jones ultimately walks the bases full, and then Brent Clevlen nurses out a walk-off walk for the win, in the end.
Given the fact that CBtits, gondeee and myself were in attendance together, I don't think the game could've possibly have ended in any other fashion than anomalous, or embarrassment. But gondeee was pretty drunk, so he was pretty embarrassing.
The Pittsburgh day-trip
For those of you who aren't aware, I do a lot of traveling in my spare time, especially during baseball season. And in my ultimate pursuit to eventually visit all 30 MLB parks, 2010 afforded me opportunity to actually see the Braves on the road, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My track record of seeing the Braves on the road in parks I'd never been to is actually pretty bad; but considering the Pirates ultimately lost 100+ games in 2010, I thought my odds were pretty good at seeing a rare road win in the Burgh.
I always enjoy seeing our boys doing their thing on the road, I guess there's something novel about seeing familiar faces in unfamiliar territory that just seems cool.
As a whole, PNC Park lives up to a lot of the hype about it being one of the nicest parks in baseball. The walk ways are a little perplexing around the outfield area, and the walkways a little too narrow for a 427 lb. man like me, but I can't get over how picture perfect the Downtown Pittsburgh skyline is from any angle in the park.
Regardless of how bad the Pirates are, Bobby still trotted out the Sunday lineup that had no Chipper, no McCann, and no Heyward, and I was treated to a rough afternoon and losing defeat. At least I got to see Eric Hinske give me one glimmer of hope, and an opportunity to be the heel, road-team fan, as I cheered loudly and unabashedly when he tied the game up with a late-inning homer.
I'm an artist by trade, so I did take an hour to check out the Andy Warhol museum. I really do like Warhol's work, but I was horrendously disappointed with the museum. So I left.
If you ever wanted to know where the Moon was, it's apparently just outside of Pittsburgh. Read the full review of my Pittsburgh trip over at Bucs Dugout
Neutral baseball - Washington Nationals vs. Cincinnati Reds
Despite being a devout Braves fan, I still appreciate the opportunities I get to simply watch baseball games of teams I have little to no vested interest in. That being said, being a native Virginian, with my best friend and family still living up in Northern Virginia, I still make several trips up there every year, to visit. And when I ultimately wish to get away from my family, my best friend and I go watch baseball. Fact: I have never seen the Atlanta Braves win in Washington D.C. when I've been there. But it's a good thing that the Braves weren't in D.C. this weekend, but the Cincinnati Reds were.
What funny is that the night I went was one of the supposed debut dates for Stephen Strasburg. This is the kind of (crap) that too much speculating gets people, because apparently, every single fifth game that Strasburg was rumored to be debuting was selling like crazy, and my friend just happened to have a spare ticket for me to have for this one particular game that he wasn't debuting at. Instead, it was Livan Hernandez pitching, and much like I'm quite used to seeing in D.C., the Nationals won. Even more puzzling was the fact that Nationals Strasburg stuff was already on sale, despite the fact that Stephen Strasburg hadn't played in a single official game at the time, which was precisely the reason why people had to wait five innings on Opening Day before they could get any Jason Heyward merchandise.
hahahaha Jose Vidro shirt.
The next day of Nats vs. Reds wasn't as pretty, and in fact was downright scary outside, as indicative of the menacing rain clouds that floated over, and poured down on us. But considering it was hot as balls prior to the rain, it was a refreshing reprieve from what literally was the hottest summer of my entire life.
For reasons I can't really remember, I was giving Joe West a LOT of grief on this day, and here's him staring back at this unruly fan, wearing a Braves hat at a Nats/Reds game.
One thing I genuinely enjoy about seeing baseball in other parks are the little things that happen for other players at their homes. Tyler Clippard, who had become notorious for being a vulture pitcher (one who gains an inordinate amount of wins simply for being pitcher of record when lead is taken), apparently is nicknamed "Peaches," by Washington, and it evolved to the point where he came out of the bullpen to the President of the United States' "Peaches" track, complete with peaches graphic package.
It's not a season without getting trashed in Baltimore
I had so much fun in Baltimore in the 2009 season, that I felt the need to go back there, even if it wasn't the Braves they were playing in Interleague in 2010. And in order to ensure that I wouldn't be going by myself, I agreed to go during the Battle of the Beltway, so my best friends would come with me.
The bad news is that the whole scene outside of Pickles Pub was no longer doing $1 beers. And it was definitely more sectioned off and segmented to different vendors and whatnot, as opposed to the freely open, and more communal parking lot the year before. However, that didn't really deter me from my determined quest to get trashed with friends. Two for $5 would have to suffice on this day.
Naturally, as one drinks more, two things happen: one, the seal eventually breaks, and all hell breaks loose for the rest of the afternoon. And two, the guy with the camera starts shooting everything that seems remotely amusing, which in this case was Scores strippers having an impromptu pull up contest while my friends, and the Marines at the booth this was happening at were all grins and chuckles.
Oh yeah, baseball. The Nationals were on a streak of games where they lost in late innings due to bullpen meltdowns by pretty much everyone, and despite being a more talented team than the O's were in 2010, were still on the verge of getting swept. I remember that the O's standards were so low at this point, in the first inning, with the score 0-0, there was a guy behind us who was crying out for a rally-rally-rally-rally-rally-rally-rallllllyyyyyy, and annoying the ever living (urine) out of my friends and I.
I don't remember a whole lot of this game, except that the Nationals lost it, because admittedly, I drank too much, and this is a picture of me almost passing out on my best friend's wife.
The Annual Multi-City Baseball Road Trip
At least once a season, my best friend and I go on a trip to see baseball in other cities. The 2010 season saw an excursion up to Chicago/Milwaukee that hit up three different parks in three days, all while eating a (crap)-ton of unhealthy food, and involving some more alcohol.
First up was Wrigley Field, where admittedly, I've been to before, but I was six-years old at the time, so I didn't really count it on my list of unvisited parks, since my only memories of the former trip were whining to my dad about how hot it was, and my uncle growing perturbed at his brother for bringing his (procreating) kid to the hallowed grounds of Wrigley Field. Regardless, all old and wise now, I returned, with a true appreciation of the game, and some good tickets, in Bartmanland, while the arch-rival Cardinals were in town.
As good as Cubs fans travel (or represent, as indicative by the droves of sheep wearing Cubs gear), I have to tip my e-hat to Cardinal fans for how well they travel as well. When the Cards are in Atlanta, the attendance is always good, and many times, I've run into the Cardinals on the road, and even as far out as Los Angeles, I've seen noteworthy hordes of Cards fans in opposing parks, proud of their team.
Naturally, this guy "Strasburg" is a pretty big deal, and even in a place like Wrigleyville does the hype machine even influence baseball fans to where they'd actually get a Nationals jersey that they'd wear with their Cubs hat.
As entertaining as the game was between the Cubs and Cards, I was much more enjoying the sheer people watching experience of being at Wrigley. Sure, Wrigley sells out pretty much every game, which is important in itself, but the truth is that there are still a vast number of people there, simply because it's the thing to do, and in the end, really don't care about what the final scores are, or even know the basic rules of baseball. So, despite the fact that all the seats are accounted for, there are still plenty of nubile young women who would rather be texting each other while sanding right next to each other, as well as all the debauchery that occurs in the bleachers, from bachelorette parties, eating contests, and the obligatory shotgunning of $7 beers.
Despite Marmol's best efforts to tank the Cubs on this blustery hot day, the Cubs still manage to finagle out the win. Typically, when I travel, no matter who the team, the home team has good luck when I'm there. That's not good news when I hit the road to see the Braves. If you're interested in my whole experience in Wrigleyville, read the full review on Bleed Cubbie Blue.
The next day, my friend and I rented a car, and made the 94 mile drive up into Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where we would watch his Nationals take on the Milwaukee Brewers. One thing I found Miller Park to be in no shortage of, was the sheer volume of tailgating going on outside the park prior to the game. There's practically a halo of grill smoke wafting in the air around the park in the hours prior to the game itself. Literally, we hopped out of the car, and felt like aliens from another planet since we didn't pop the trunk, whip out a grill, and start grilling brats while pounding Miller Lites like every since car that parked after I did was doing.
Here's a shot of that Strasburg guy that everyone had been talking about. At the time of this photo, Strasburg was on red alert, since his last start concluded with some soreness in his right arm. This would be the precursor to the eventual injury that would shelve him for the remainder of the season, and possibly all of 2011.
It wouldn't have been Milwaukee without taking in the sausage race, and on this day, I don't remember for the life of me who actually won. However, being a Sunday, this sausage race was more of a baton relay, and the sausages handed off batons to mini-sausages, run by children to the right field corner for the finish. This day was also Robin Yount bobblehead day, and it was amazing how people seemed to care more about the bobblehead than the game itself, but then again, I'm not a Brewers lifer, either.
It wouldn't have been an appropriate trip to the City of Beer without seeing someone getting kicked out of the game for drunken disorderly conduct, and this inebriated gentleman did not fail to disappoint.
It wasn't a save situation, but I did get to watch Trevor Hoffman close out the game. And despite the fact that the Brewers were a completely inept team on Sundays at home at the time of this game, the opponent was still the Nationals, and more importantly, the home team's good luck charm that is royhobbs was in attendance. It also helped that Casey McGehee went like 3-for-5 and drove in everything. Read the full review of Miller Park and Milwaukee over at Brew Crew Ball.
After more brats, and more beer, we got slammed by construction traffic on the way back to Chicago, but it wasn't so bad. Under such circumstances, it was easy to pay attention and truly enjoy a Cubs radio broadcast, and the super-homerism of the sadly now-departed, Ron Santo. The way he showed such bias and reacted to every pitch and call brought laughter into this car ride home, but the best part was when Albert Pujols hit a go-ahead homer in extra innings, and all you hear is Ron Santo going "ohhh, BS," followed by endless laughter, and we knew we had a memorable trip already.
Not all ballparks are great, and with 16 ballparks in the books, I had wondered which one was going to take the top (dis)honor of being the worst park in MLB. To this point, it was Tampa Bay's Tropicana Field, since it was a confusing fustercluck of stairs, hallways, escalators, carnivals, and a general lack of identity that made it kind of crappy, but a trip to Chicago's South Side quickly changed that opinion real quick.
U.S. Cellular Field takes the cake of being the worst in my book, since they really don't let you wander around the park, unless you've paid for premium seating. Being a Monday, half-off game, that I was going to, it was nigh impossible for me to acquire premium seating prior to the game when the trip was planned, so the 500-level up above was my only option. I was unaware of the stipulation, and was mortified to discover the rules upon arriving to the park. It wasn't until about the 7th inning, and lengthy debate with a customer service rep was I capable of procuring this high-school-like hall pass that gave me honorable access to the sacred floor level.
Needless to say, the Cell left a poor taste in my mouth, and I'm not afraid to share my opinions. I'm sure those of you who like to nitpick my columns and comment solely on the occasional typographic/grammatical errors, or maybe just the sadists in general, would enjoy the scathing reception I get from White Sox fans over at South Side Sox, as I give my full review of their park, and to no surprise, they dislike it. To their credit, I didn't pull any punches, and regardless of the kind words given to me, I'd go back to the Cell and re-review the place in a heartbeat, provided I could get some better tickets. I like the city of Chicago too much, and it would be a travesty to go there and not see some baseball.
Tom Glavine Day
2010 saw the ceremony where the Braves honored future hall of famer, and 1995 World Series hero, Tom Glavine, by forever retiring his number #47.
Mother Nature almost ruined the night as a whole by throwing down a torrential downpour on the city of Atlanta, but since there was a ceremony planned, and it was a Friday night, it was still a safe bet that the game was still going to happen.
So naturally, my boy Smoltz's Beard, his brother, and I went up to the 755 Club and drank expensive Miller Lites out of buckets until it was time for the game to start, with no 10-4s allowed club.
Eventually the ceremony actually happened, and pictured above are Tom Glavine and three of his sons, throwing out the collective first pitch. It should be noted that two of his boys are also LHPing it, and all of them demonstrated fairly good form, at least through my drunken eyes at the time.
Unfortunately, as is the case with these ceremonies, if there's a pitcher that throws with the similar arm, slated to pitch in the subsequent game, they tend to be inspired by the greatness of their brethren, and on this night, it was Barry Zito of the San Francisco Giants being the lefty present to gain some inspiration from the career of the great LHP Tom Glavine, and he had himself a 10+ strikeout game, that the Braves lost in extra innings, despite having the lead going into the ninth inning, on a blown save attempt by Billy Wagner.
So Long, Myrtle Beach Pelicans . . .
For the past two years, I've taken advantage of the fact that the Potomac Nationals are a part of the Carolina League, which means a convenient excuse to go see the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, while I'm up visiting my family during the summer. Little did I realize that after the season ended, that the Braves' high-A squad would no longer the the Pelicans, but move into central (RO)VA and take control over the Lynchburg Hillcats.
This is Myke Jones touching home plate after hitting his fourth home run in as many games. Despite the fact that the Pelicans lost both games I went to, it was still a fun experience, even if the surliness of the now-departed Cody Johnson seemed to hover over the rest of the squad like a miserable gray cloud. He had a very CJ performance in the two games I went to - 3 Ks, and a homer.
Portland, Oregon, and the home of the Beavers
Okay, for all the childish reasons, snickering, and giggling upon hearing the name "Portland Beavers" . . . well, they're valid. It doesn't take but a 14-year old's imagination to figure out my amusement / fascination with a squad called the Beavers, but it does take the resources of someone over twice that age, to actually make a cross-country flight to make a day trip to see a minor league baseball park, happen. When I found out that the San Diego Padres' AAA squad was going to be moved in 2011, and abandoning the Beavers identity behind, I realized that my time to visit the home of the Beavers was extremely limited.
This is the first baseball cap I ever purchased that is of a team that isn't the Atlanta Braves or one of its affiliates. 14-year old reasons, for wanting a baseball cap with a Beaver on it. That, and this is now a legitimate souvenir of a past thing, but that's not going to stop me from wearing this from time to time, or if I ever go on any baseball road trips, where the San Diego Padres are playing.
In a rare occurrence, the home team lost in my presence, to the Dodgers' AAA Albuquerque Isotopes - but then again, my mojo for the home team typically applies to major league teams, and not minors.
As for the park itself, it's one of the finest parks in AAA, that I've been to. It's shame that it's going to be completely scrapped for baseball starting in 2011, for it to become a fulltime futbol venue. Normally, I defend soccer, since it is a sport that I can appreciate, but MLS's rules about how MLS clubs are forbidden from sharing their venues with any sport that isn't a Major League is kind of bull(excrement). Portland is a beautiful, albeit quirky city, and they deserve to have baseball too. Read about my whole Portland experience at Gaslamp Ball.
Work really got in the way of attending many games throughout the last month of the season, but by the time October rolled around, and playoff hopes were clinging in the balance, I always start getting desperate to seeing the last few games of the regular season; especially if there were risk of not getting into the playoffs, as well as risk not seeing Bobby Cox's final game.
Seeing this guy always made me happy for the last two seasons, even on the night when the Phillies marched into Turner Field and stomped the Braves 11-5, but now looking at his shirt kind of makes me feel a little sad. No more of he who F'N rules for us Braves fans anymore.
Something very minuscule that will go ignored in the grand spectrum of baseball history, but very memorable for Braves fans, and probably the player himself, but this is a picture of J.C. Boscan's first-ever major league at-bat. Sure, it came at garbage time, but you only get a first major league at-bat once in your life, and it was still vitally important for a career minor-leaguer to do good. And good, Boscan did - he drew a walk. Not only did he draw a walk, he came home on Derrek Lee's double. His major league stats now look like:
1 PA, 1 R, 1 BB, .XXX/1.000/.XXX
That's right, his OPS is indeterminate.
Honestly, I was nervous about the Braves' chances to win the last game of the season, and make the playoffs, what with the worst-case scenario actually occurring at the time, with the Giants dropping two, and the Braves dropping two, that I was originally going to stay home on the final regular season game of the season. But I have DISH Network as my cable provider, and long story short, they dropped pretty much all FOX auxiliary programming, including Fox Sports and SportSouth. So if I wanted to see game 162, I would have to go to Turner Field myself, and watch, so I found myself getting to the Ted three hours early, and waiting in a line for $1 Skyline tickets, since they were my only option, but the bottom line is that I made it in.
And despite the fact that the Phillies rotated in pretty much all of their top-flight pitchers, and the Braves gained a lead and squandered a lead, they still managed to win this game. Heart-attack, and stressful games won, the 2010 Braves wouldn't have had it any other way. Much later in that evening, would we all discover that the Giants held off the Padres, and the Braves were in the playoffs. As far as the regular season went, it was a great success.
Oink, oink, the top-three foods of the road in 2010
Primanti Bros. pastrami - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Generous amounts of meat, slaw, tomatoes, and a fistful of fries smashed between two slices of sourdough, served on wax paper. Pure bliss.
Half Italian Beef, Half Italian Sausage - Wrigley Field. Most Chicagoans swore by Al's Beef and other places to get Italian beef or sausages, but when I look back to my trip, the one I had at Wrigley stands out as the most memorably good one of them all.
Kenny and Zuke's Triple Decker - Portland, Oregon. This sandwich is available about four blocks away from where the Portland Beavers' former home was. It's a shame that baseball is gone in Portland, because I have little reason to ever go back there again, but man, this sandwich was a thing of legend. Corned beef, pastrami and turkey.
Oink, oink, now to be a chauvinistic pig:
I'll just leave this here, for the fellas. Sorry gals, I have to give back to the boys every now and then.
As for the playoffs, I didn't go to any of the games. One part being freelance working taking me well out of the equation for getting to go, and two being superstition. As much as I would have loved to have seen Eric Hinske's homer, and Derek Lowe's five no-hit innings, I simply didn't want to be there if things went awry, which unfortunately happened to be the case. But it doesn't change the fact that as a whole, 2010 was a magnificent year for baseball fans, and especially Braves fans. An exhilarating 91-win season, which saw a return to the playoffs, 13 walk-off wins, 25 last at-bat wins, there was never any shortage of drama or excitement this year.
I saw a no-hitter live, for the first time in my life, and I knocked out four more ballparks, plus one minor league park on my endless quest to see baseball all around the country. But more importantly, I enjoyed many great memories with friends, my dad, as well as anyone else who was on for the ride. All while watching the greatest game in the world. Many say that baseball is nothing but a game, which is most certainly valid, but for all the things on the side that baseball is capable of giving us as fans, have plenty of reason to disagree. Needless to say, I'm optimistic and already looking for next season. Is it April yet?
Thanks for reading, if you've braved it this far, and to all, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, or whatever it is you want me to say that won't offend everyone.