More Diamond Daytrips

It’s one tier below Major League, but Coca-Cola Park in Allentown PA is one of the greatest places in North America to take in some baseball on a warm summer day. It is the home field of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the AAA affiliate of our Philadelphia Phillies. The team’s colorful name, stadium signage, and sometimes wacky uniform logos reflect the heritage of the area’s steel and iron and coal mining industries.

       
  scoreboard pitcher ejected  
  ballpark fireworks at bat  
       

The stadium seats slightly under 10,000 spectators and affords a reasonably priced opportunity to see players possibly destined for careers in MLB. Shown upper, left, is shortstop J. P. Crawford on the scoreboard. The home team went on to win big 16-1 v the Durham NC Bulls. However, things got a bit more tense as the night wore on with Crawford getting brushed back by a ball thrown tight inside, resulting in the pitcher’s ejection from the game, upper, right. After the game’s on-field fireworks, fans stayed around for a nice display of colorful, aerial summer night pyrotechnics, lower, left. The next day saw the IronPigs drop a Sunday afternoon game to the Bulls. Shown, lower, right, is outfielder Cedric Hunter just before hitting a home run during the game.

And, yes, that is a strip of bacon painted on the field behind home plate! In fact, the food vendors at this ballpark serve some of the best comfort food in all of baseball. Obviously bacon is served up in various varieties, along with roasted corn on the cob and very fresh soft pretzels.  The sausage and pepper and bratwurst come with thick soft rolls sliced right in the middle so that your sandwich filling doesn’t squirt out the end of a squishy long roll. I hate when that happens! The gyros are absolutely delicious.

It is worthwhile to stay in nearby Bethlehem where you can explore the town’s historical areas and eating establishments between baseball outings. Happy Summer ’16!

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Eye Opener, Or, More Fun With Funky Labels For Fun Wines

Our last college baseball road trip of the year took us to the White Plains area of New York State. No matter what the score, the Renaissance Hotel bar and restaurant there does not disappoint. I started out with a buffalo cauliflower appetizer and later an un-vegan sirloin salad over crispy flatbreads and mixed greens in a tangy vinaigrette, both outstanding.

Beverage choice was an Australian blended red (mostly shiraz). As I’ve previously mentioned, delicious wines are even more fun when presented with a fun, funny, funky label.

red wine bottle

I have to admit, though, that I was part way through my second (Ok, maybe third glass) before it suddenly dawned on me that what I thought was minimalist no frills labeling is actually meant to resemble a doctor’s office eye chart. Pretty clever.

baseball field

Returning from NY state to Doylestown PA for the home field Sunday doubleheader.

 

restaurant bar

The hotel is located close to Yonkers Raceway, so we most likely will return to this area for harness racing and fine wining and dining.

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Diamond Daytrip Diversions

Baseball fan travel differs from other sport tours because there exists greater opportunity for interesting side trips. Games play almost every day, with every third day or so occurring during the afternoon. So if you arrive downtown later in the day, you can decide to skip a game and enjoy other things and then grab tickets for next day’s game.

Of course, the stadium view rooms at the Baltimore Hilton made things even easier, allowing us to view the game versus the Seattle Mariners from our room on Wednesday night after spending the afternoon at the Walters Art Museum. It’s a relatively small four story building in light of the size and variety of its impressive collection, ranging from Impressionists paintings of Delacroix to artifacts of the ancient world of Rome, Greece, and Egypt.

pub menu

The museum has no cafe to speak of so we found this nice Irish pub close by. Need to check out the shepherd’s pie the next time around. It’s best to start your tour on the topmost fourth floor, where you will see exhibits and information related to the founding Walters family. Then work your way down. Free admission, so a donation is strongly encouraged.

vault door cat god

“Walk Like An Egyptian”

egyptian artifact

Wonder if he could hit a curve ball?

medieval armor

The Assumption

The Assumption

The current feature exhibit was the art of Italian Renaissance painter Carlo Crivelli.

Crucifixion

A perhaps lesser known depiction of the Last Supper by the featured painter. Those halos seem pretty crazy.

The Last Supper

Griffin. Is it the head of a lion, body of an eagle, body of a lion, wings of an eagle…?

griffin

Carved Roman sarcophagi were a big highlight. Amazing, dramatic detail.

sarcophagus

Grecian vase or urn. If you’d like to compose an ode or something to anything you enjoy about this particular post or blog in general, please do so in the comments, or by way of one of my social media accounts.

vase

The O’s dropped two out of three to the Mariners during this midweek three game series, including this one on a cloudy but pleasant Thursday afternoon. We should be back soon, hopefully for the the playoffs. Grab a nice crab-filled soft pretzel at one of the establishments surrounding the ballpark before you head home.

ballpark

Pre-game walk through.

Moving down behind home plate near the end of the game. The O’s and “Team Trumbo” fall short on this day.

home plate

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GOP Presidential Front Runner At Rutgers Class of ’16 Commencement Draws Ire

The vast majority of students, faculty and alumni at Rutgers, The State University have expressed outrage over the decision to invite the GOP presidential front runner to speak at the University’s graduation. Responding to pressure from various on-campus organizations, administrators reversed course and said that the candidate would instead address the student body at an optional gathering  at the Rutgers Athletic Center, i.e. “the RAC”, which houses the school’s varsity men and women’s basketball programs. Originally the pre-ceremony commencement speech was scheduled for the football stadium.

the RAC

“Even though I graduated from a fine Ivy League institution like Penn, I look forward to speaking to the young men and women of a quality public college like New Jersey’s state university. And [unlike the Ivy League] most of these kids come from middle class families despite paying tuition and fees up the wahzoo like they would at one of those prestigious rich kid schools. Which is kind of what my whole campaign is about,” the candidate said.

The candidate further expressed discontent with the change of venue for his on campus speech, saying, “I don’t know why some of these kids and profs at Rutgers have a problem with me. I’ll be here to make this school and all of America great again. Who the hell is Rutgers anyway? Some colonial dilettante nobody’s ever heard of? When I’m elected president, we’ll call the place New Jersey U. like every other state in the US does.”

The state’s governor, a staunch supporter of the GOP front runner, was unavailable for comment, but a few students on campus welcomed the news about the university’s choice for commencement speaker. Harvey, from Secaucus Springs, NJ, toasted the news by pounding down a few “jagerbombs” while sitting on the second story deck of his off-campus New Brunswick apartment. “I’ll be at the RAC for sure,” he said. “He says he will make RU men’s hoops great again if elected. They haven’t made the NCAAs since my grandfather was a freshman here. I like it.”

scoreboard

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Spring Marches Along

Objects In The Mirror

Are Closer Than They Appear.

purple flower

red flowers

 
yellow flowers

porch black and white

Spring flowers from the kitchen window.
I think there’s a busy squirrel out there somewhere!

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Pre-season, In Season

I’ve enjoyed visiting both, and lately, I’ve been thinking that Florida supplants Texas as the state that’s “like a whole ‘nother country”.  The tropical climate and exotic flora and fauna not often experienced elsewhere in the USA almost transport the mind to another place and time.

palm tree

But like they say in real estate, it’s all about location, location, location! And the same is true of vacation travel. Heading down again this year to the Fort Pierce/Port St. Lucie area for a Division III NCAA college baseball tournament, we opted this time to stay near the water on Hutchinson Island, a few miles away from the baseball diamonds.

balcony room

Last year, being totally unfamiliar with the area, we holed up the first few days in a small corporate chain hotel right off the highway on the mainland near a truckstop. But for the palm trees, and that gecko crawling up the wall of a gas station, we might have thought we were still near Rt. 295 in South Jersey. Although an hour or so drive up the road in Vero Beach afforded us the opportunity to see the big lizards via airboat ride.

airboat

gator in the grass

gator face

That hour drive in any give direction might take you to an ocean, a river, a lake, a swamp, or a casino or luxury resort. In fact, a number of places can offer you the whole gamut ranging from breakfast with grits and a case of beer to bait and tackle and firearms and ammunition. Even before Trump-mania hit the Palm Beach area, the state has long been a hotbed of often bizarre political activity (as evidenced by this gas station signage from last year’s trip):

bumper sticker

Several cities in the region host spring training for Major League Baseball teams. The Mets are close by, but the LA Dodgers left for Arizona a few years ago, even though historic Dodgertown remains as yet another multi-field facility for tournaments and such. However, our favorite college games count in the standings, although many of them involve out of conference opponents. Northeast college teams need to start the season in warmer climates to get a whole season in before the end of the spring term.

bleachers

So this year’s trip to Florida was fun, funky, and filled with exquisite views of land and seas.

cypress trees and Spanish moss

Cypress Trees Covered in Spanish Moss

osprey

Osprey Nesting

You could say we came for the baseball but stayed to savor the flavors of food and drink (especially seafood) and to take in the sights of early spring on Florida’s beautiful coastline. And Delaware Valley University won another MAC Freedom Conference game today!

close up

GO AGGIES!

coaches

Coaches Exchange Lineup Cards At Home Plate

sunset

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Football In The Valley, Winding Down The Regular Season

goal line

Unless you’re a Temple University football fan, there hasn’t been much to cheer about if you live in the NJ/NY/PA region. Unlike the NFL’s bacchanalian Super Bowl finale, the college football season rolls out a huge variety of main events over the course of the holiday season. After Thanksgiving, regional champions emerge from the various conference championship games, with Temple traveling to Houston for the AAC title. Heading towards Christmas and the New Year, its bowls, bowls, bowls-  some major, some (very) minor. It all culminates in college football’s own version of a superduper bowl playoff involving the nation’s top four teams ultimately decided by a committee. Yes, a committee. How else would a democracy made up of bookies, parlay players, fantasy team owners, beer, chilli and  bratwurst infused tailgaters decide a thing of such import?

halftime band

army cathedralcannons

Of course, long before there ever was a Conference Championship weekend there was always the Army-Navy classic, usually (but not always) played in Philadelphia, as it will be a week from this Saturday. Navy is a huge favorite, having been a contender all season long to challenge Temple and Houston for a shot at the AAC trophy.

campus stroll

campus stroll

Army has struggled to win games the past few seasons, as is the case with my alma mater, Rutgers University, who have ended the season looking for a new head coach. Obviously, any competition involving the service academies is so much more than a game, as witnessed during a family trip to West Point, where Rutgers earned a too-close-for-comfort victory over the cadets on a beautiful fall afternoon.

army stadium

foliage

The campus at West Point, NY is appropriately lauded in sports media as a truly special place to witness a college football game, and a trip there is a must for any sports fan. I would also like to express my appreciation for our armed services personnel and convey my gratitude to their commitment to the security of our nation, as we strive to maintain our legacy of liberty and freedom for future generations.

Lastly, I’d like to offer encouragement to my Delaware Valley University baseball family as they begin another drive to become the “DIII Beast In The East” on the diamond.  

“Go Aggies!”

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