Monday, July 5

Three nights, three games, three parks

That was my social calendar this past week, as I hit up the stadia of the three local baseball clubs on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I was fortunate enough to have planned these endeavors during what turned out to be an absolutely beautiful week of weather in Northeast Ohio, with highs in the low 70's and clear, cool evenings along the lake. Can July be like that too? Editor's note: it was above 90 today, so apparently not.

Monday: The Lake County Captains
The Captains are a low-A-ball affiliate of the Cleveland Indians located in Eastlake, OH, which is, as the name implies, near the Lake and east of Downtown. They play in Classic Park, which is a really nice place to watch a baseball game. Tickets are a reasonably-priced $9 ($8 on Mondays!) and Monday evenings are Dollar Nights, wherein the club will supply you with 10 ounces of Labatt or Bud Light for the fee of just $1. In a related story, I have only ever attended Captains games on Monday nights. Thursday apparently features 5-cent Dixie Cup beers, but that seems to be hampered by some degree of red tape.

The first time I went, the crew I went with informed me that I should get a seat in Section 119, which is located along the 3rd-base line about halfway from 3rd to the fence. The guy gave me the ticket and said "best seat in the house," which didn't make much sense to me until I saw where I was sitting (photo at right). 119 tapers to a point in the front, such that the front "row" is a single seat: my seat. Needless to say, I didn't sit in this seat, though there were people in the two-seat row right behind it, and it would have been hilarious to occupy my seat and insist upon standing in front of them. I also scored free ice cream for our section thanks to the efforts of a classmate of mine, Assistant GM Neil Stein. This was well received - thanks, Neil!

Monday's game was my second of the season - they lost the first one 6-2 or something. They lost this one 6-1. I've been disastrous luck at baseball games so far this season; 3-8 thus far, and as we'll see shortly, one of the three was not as it seems. The Captains collected their lone run on an RBI Baseball-caliber home run off of the right-centerfield scoreboard; other than that, Lake County was held in check by a team actually called the "Loons." Hey, at least we didn't get shut out, and we got to heckle the Loon bullpen and try to throw peanuts into a friend named Al's beer.

As nice as Classic Park is, as lovely of an evening as I had, and as cheap as the beer was, the traffic there is a nightmare. I know, right, traffic in Eastlake? They've got this big traffic knot at the highway exit right next to the park that snared me for quite some time. THEN, they had keg problems in the line in which I was standing, which wasn't cool. I left my house at 6:15 and first sat in my seat at 7:45. In a related story, my apartment is a 15-minute walk from Progressive Field. Just sayin'. It also happened to be "Faith Night," which is amusing to me because I'm really not into the faith thing and somehow I keep accidentally attending Faith Nights at baseball parks. Go Captains!

Tuesday: Lake Erie Crushers
Or should I say, defending champion Lake Erie Crushers! I took a similar drive, this time out west along Lake Erie, and went to a game of the Lake Erie Crushers, an independent Frontier League team. The Crushers play in All Pro Freight Stadium out in Avon and won the title last year in their inaugural year. My previous effort to hit up a Crushers game last year was stopped by a rainstorm, leading our group to instead end up in Michael Symon's "Bar Symon," which was terrible.

But as I said, the weather was awesome on Tuesday, so I made my APFS debut. Tickets are $8, just like Lake County, but they have $2 beer night, so Advantage: Captains. We were a day early for "Keep LBJ in the CLE Night," wherein the club offered LeBron a Frontier League max deal ($1600/month) and a host family in Avon to sign with the Crushers. Pretty funny idea, and a story that was picked up by and

APFS isn't nearly as nice as Classic Park; I joked during the game that it'll probably look nice when they finish it. Not a bad place, just a tad skeletal. The Crushers were playing the Florence Freedom, which was funny because the scoreboard said "FREEDOM CRUSHERS" on it all game by the line score. The scoreboard lacked any sort of video capability, which was highly unfortunate, as was the permanent loss of eyesight I have from staring into the sun all game. Stupid sun. The Crushers sport a boss red/black/white color scheme, which I'm all for.

Runs were damn hard to come by - almost impossible, in fact, as the score remained 0-0 through 10 innings. As a repsonsible citizen with employment responsibilities, and as someone who had run out of soccer jokes, I left the game after 10 frames, and of course the Crushers came through with the game winner in the 11th. I'm not sure if this counts as me having seen a win; I'm going to say no. Nice enough way to spend an evening, but I'd give the edge to the Captains, especially if they fix that nonsense by the highway exit. Go Crushers!

Wednesday: Cleveland Indians
Social Deck, baby!
Go Tribe!

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