Friday, December 28, 2018


On One Petty Man Controlling the Universe

Doubleday Field
Doubleday Field, 2018
Thursday, December 27, 2018
Cooperstown, NY

Outside the Game: 
I'm not sure how I've gotten into the habit of going to Cooperstown every nine years or so, but here we are. A year ago, I was getting over jet lag in Australia at this time, but I had a full Christmas week off and nothing particular to do, so I dove into going back up to the Hall of Fame again, almost exactly nine years after my last visit.

Things have been ugly at the on-ramp from Weehawken onto 495 for a while. It was never a great experience, from the steep incline, to the multiple lights to traverse the quarter mile, but it had somehow been getting worse, to the point that even at non-peak times, it could take a half hour from the bottom of the ramp to actually getting on 495. Several days ago on Christmas Eve, it took twenty minutes.

Given all this, I decided to start my drive early, walking down to my car at 3 PM, and being out on the road no later than 3:30 PM. Now, 3:30 PM on a random holiday Thursday should not be anything to worry about, traffic-wise. I shot down and out of Hoboken in under five minutes, and I was at the on-ramp in under ten.

And it was already backed up and unmoving. After two traffic light cycles of literally not moving, I gave up and actually went past the on-ramp intersection to turn around because it seemed a better bet to actually get anywhere. And while it was slow going coming from the other direction, at least it was moving. There was a truck that I was parallel with on the other side before I bailed that was still sitting where I left it on as I managed to start inching my way up the on-ramp proper. Even with this progress, it was an exercise in frustration. When I finally got close enough to see the last traffic light before the merge, it was clear we were only moving a car length or two every other light. When I eventually got to the light, I found the culprit: a traffic cop that was letting the perpendicular road go for two green lights before advancing our direction. It was all I could do not to flip him off and roll down my window, screaming at his imbecile behavior, but I realized that it would just delay my progress further.

At a quarter after 4, I was finally merging on 495, a good 45 minutes after I set out. I vowed never to take this on-ramp again. And when Route 1&9 is a better option to anything, you know you've hit rock bottom.

The rest of the drive, until the end, was mostly a piece of cake. I managed to get far enough out of Dodge in 45 minutes that even rush hour didn't affect my progress that much as I tore up the NY Parkway. I stopped for gas and a pre-dinner snack at a pull-off at some point, but for the most part, it was just a calming drive north, with WFAN providing the soundtrack all the way up, with a switch from FM to AM somewhere around Albany as the stereo signal died off. I made my left turn at the the Tri-City area, and then I was off west to my final destination.

Getting the last stretch into Cooperstown, I went on a county road next to the lake. In daylight, it is a nice view and a pleasant drive. At night, in the unlighted pitch dark, it is a white-knuckles drive, dancing with high-beams to try and not drive off the poorly marked road, with literally no idea that there was a large lake to the right in the inky blackness. This stretch of nightmare promptly turns onto the quaintly lit Main Street of downtown Cooperstown, festooned in archaic Christmas decorations from a Norman Rockwell painting. A turn or two further got me to my hotel for the night, where I was able to check-in with a minimum amount of fuss and head to my room to unpack.

Just shy of 8 PM, I headed back to the front desk to inquire what restaurants were still open. Armed with some suggestions, I took the short walk to downtown Main Street, trying to locate the restaurants and stopping by at familiar locales to grab photos of Doubleday Field and the closed Hall of Fame. Walking my way back through town, I found that most of the restaurants were closing at 9 instead of 10 PM. It being about 8:30 PM, I didn't want to be "the guy" to make the staff stay late for an entitled late guest, so I went into a bar and grill and grabbed a To-Go order from the bar and toted my giant hamburger with tater tots on the side the short walk back to the hotel.

Ensconced in my room, I ate my dinner and watched some TV before hitting the hay relatively early so I could make the most of my day at the Hall on Friday.

The Accommodations: 
The Railroad Inn
The Railroad Inn

The Railroad Inn looked new, and that was because it was new, having opened this July. Everything had that brand-new clean about it, and all the room furniture was in the perfect condition that comes not from careful maintenance, but the fact that it was all just put together a few months ago.

The staff was very helpful, and the place was nice enough in a nice enough location, but there were some things that were just weird about it. The lighting in the room was weird. There were two night table lamps, and a small ceiling lamp, off-center from the room, and that was it, which left the room a little murky. Also, there were no chairs in the room. There was a long ottoman-type thing at the foot of the bed, but that was it for where to sit. There was no desk, or no way to comfortably work on the surfaces available. Rooms at the end of the hall featured lofts, but the loft was actually cut into the room next to it (mine, in this case) so that the bed was above the bed in the room next to it. Not wrong per se, but something felt off about it. (There were a pack of dude bros in the loft room next to me, and the sound insulation was poor, but they didn't turn out to be a problem, which was nice.)

The room itself had a large bed on one wall of the room, flanked by two end tables with the aforementioned lamps, and a long ottoman at the foot of the bed. A full coat rack was next to the door, and a credenza with a refrigerator inside was opposite the bed, while a large dresser was underneath the flat-screen TV on the adjacent wall. The wall opposite the bed had the door to the brightly lit bathroom, with toilet and vanity across from a shower with those rain showerheads. I know people like them, but they have zero water pressure, and I never feel quite completely clean after using them.

On Revisitation with Membership Privileges

National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Friday, December 28, 2018
Cooperstown, NY

Outside the Game:
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I didn't get a great sleep this night, but part of the reason why was certainly unexpected: It was too hot. The room had those small Japanese units from the future, and I left the heat on, it being the middle of winter and upstate New York and all. But the weather was unseasonably warm, and it was eventually stuffy in the room, requiring the curiously effective temperature controls of hanging one leg out of the covers to cool off.

I was up at 7 AM when the breakfast buffet started, so I got dressed and trudged down to the lobby, grabbing a seemingly random selection of beverages and consumables and eating them in grumpy silence alone at the only table in the lobby. After presumably eating an adequate amount, I lumbered back to my room and fell asleep again until 8:30 AM.

I was feeling much refreshed by the additional sleep and quickly showered and dressed, heading out the door at 8:45 AM with my camera. It was misting a pissing rain that was washing away the light coating of snow that was left on the ground, just making everything look damp instead of seasonably aesthetic. A short, watery walk later, I was arriving at the Hall just before it opened up. A couple was walking to the Hall as well, and the man was wearing a Tokyo Swallows hat. I had been this close to wearing my Swallows t-shirt for this visit, but had saved it for the next day in lieu of the "Who's On First" shirt produced by my friend for our last visit to Real Yankee Stadium. We had a short conversation about Japanese baseball until the doors opened up, and we quickly got out of the drizzle. As we were the first two groups in, we each got to one of the two ticket counters as they opened.

As I was planning to come back the next day, I was going to get a membership for the first time ever. It required filling out a form, and there even was a 20% holiday discount still in place, so I had that going for me. The attendant told me to come back later, and he would have all my membership materials ready.

It was there that my luck ran out. The movie theater was closed for the week, as was the library again, even though it was supposed to be open on weekdays. After asking around, it turned out that the library and book store were closed for the holiday week, which I suppose I could understand, but I didn't particularly want to.

I was able to walk around the rest of the museum with limited disappointment. It was an interesting mental overlay task to try and remember what had changed since my last two visits in the preceding 20 years. The "Baseball Today" and origins of the game areas were more of less the same, as well as the areas for African-American baseball, women's baseball, and Latin-American baseball. The areas on stadiums, movies, media, and art were similarly changed only in small ways. However, there was a new exhibit on Moe Berg (no doubt to capitalize on the move that came out this year on his life), and the recent baseball history and the all-time records area were completely redone.

San Diego Chicken
Chicken under glass

The recent history was changed into an exhibit called "A Whole New Ballgame," with the San Diego Chicken in a box at the entrance to the exhibit covering the 70s through today. The displays were obviously a lot more contemporary, and there were also giant video boards showing highlights from each decade, along with giant touch-screens that surveyed visitors on topics including labor/ownership relations, PEDs, and DH and other "advancements." Not surprisingly, the Hall visitors were of a much more conservative mindset than the average fan, with a vast majority siding with my opinions on the removal of the DH and there being no place for PEDs in the sport, for example.

Hall of Fame
The DH is evil.

The area on all-time records was similarly updated with new displays, as well as digital boards for filtering every record every possible way. A giant wall on the Yankees record for most World Series titles probably gave everyone north of Connecticut a heart attack. I was disappointed in the regular baseball history area that there was so little on DiMaggio, but they had brought his locker and jersey up here for the exhibit on his hitting streak. In addition, they had worked in non-MLB records as well, such as mentioning Oh's home run record and the steals in a season record from the women's professional league, so that was a bit of progress, at least.

Who's on First
Who's on Who?

The "Who's On First" display had been moved back to its own area, just outside the all-time records section. I got my picture with the sketch and my shirt and made my way down to the Hall itself. I had a quick first look around at the new inductees since I'd been last before the 11 AM tour started. I learned quite a bit that I hadn't before. The tour started at the Buck O'Neil statue and area. I knew that he had missed getting into the actual Hall during the last Negro Leagues review, but I hadn't realized that it was by just one vote. I hope whoever didn't vote for him burns in Hell for a long, long time. His absence is perhaps the biggest oversight in the entire Hall. I also learned that several of the Latin players' plaques had been changed because they found out that traditionally the mother's maiden name is listed last in Latin names. What boggled my mind is that it had taken so long for someone to finally speak up and point out the mistake extant for decades for some of the first-inducted Latin players.

Bud Selig
I have opinions.

After the tour, I headed back to the front counter and picked up my membership package and then headed out to Cooperstown for lunch. I made a beeline back to the Cooperstown Diner to get a hamburger as big as my head. It was mostly filled with locals, but I managed to grab a seat at the counter and order a burger as big as my head. I received and ate said burger as big as my head and then headed back into town. I scouted out a few stores and then stopped in at Doubleday Field for some pictures. A little poking around found an open gate, and I discovered they were in the middle of doing demolition on a lot of the bleachers on the third-base side. Sledgehammers and broken-up concrete with tipped-over seats were to be found aplenty. I imagine they assumed no one would steal sledgehammers, and on that note, they were correct. The batting cages next to the field were also closed for the season, so I struck out there again, as well.

Doubleday Field
Construction ongoing

I ended up at the Heroes of Baseball Wax Museum, housed in an old bank building. It was closed the last time I came up, but open twenty years ago when I visited, so I did remember the place. It turned out to be affiliated in some way with the Railroad Inn, as they had signs all over the place about it. The museum was just as wonderfully cheesy as I remembered it, though the exhibits had been updated a bit in the last two decades. A ton of contemporary players had been added, and others moved around, and there even was an exhibit from Seinfeld with George Steinbrenner with his back to the visitors and George at his desk. To be honest, the thing that fascinated me the most about the place was its layout. The exhibits and path were all worked into this old bank footprint, and one of the old offices, for example, was used for the Seinfeld office. I spent a lot of my time trying to figure out how the layout worked with the original building. To wit, a display with Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe coming down a flight of stairs was clearly worked into the original stairwell of the bank building. Also, given all the Yankees, both historical and contemporary, in the place, it was clear the owners were big Yankees fans.

"George, we need to talk about this wax museum..."

After, I went to the bookstore on Main Street to scope out all the vintage scorecards they had on hand, as well as get out of the worsening rain for a bit. Just $50 later, I was back walking out to the lake to walk off some of that burger and take some pictures of Otsego Lake, thus miraculously causing the rain to clear.

Otsego Lake
Otsego Lake

I headed back to the Hall for round 2. I started by asking after the Casey at the Bat statue that I was unable to find in my first run through the gallery. A lady told me that it was moved from the library entrance to the art exhibit and then put into storage for some reason. It was apparently some big screw up, because it was still in the treasure hunt program they give out to kids, and a lot of exasperated parents ask about it as well. It was clear the volunteers were a little miffed about it.

I walked around the Hall again a little bit, taking pictures of some things that caught my fancy and sitting through some movies and displays I skipped the first time through. I then surrendered to the inevitable and went to the gift shop to spend all my money. To my credit, I didn't spend all of my money, just a whole lot of it, on various books, trinkets, and postcards of Bud Selig to desecrate when I get home. I did buy my first Strat-o-matic set ever, which almost seems a complete impossibility. Yet here we are. I did resist buying the complete boxed set, just purchasing the "beginner" set. If this in any way works out, I can easily see buying the whole shebang going forward.

I headed out into the late afternoon, stopping in and browsing at all the various memorabilia shops that lined Main Street without buying too much. I stopped in a bar/store built in an old bookshop building. Cooperstown recently became host to its own micro-distillery, which was right down the street my hotel, actually. This was a distillery store in addition to being a bar. They produced a whiskey, a vodka, and a bourbon, all of which were bottled in baseball bottles. A "triple play" got you all of them. I'm not a vodka guy, but I went up to get tastings of the whiskey and the bourbon. The whiskey was just okay, but the "Beanball Bourbon" was surprisingly drinkable, so I got a baseball bottle of the bourbon, along with a wooden box for $5 more, because... you know why.

Cooperstown Distillery
Because I'm a sucker

Laden heavily, I made the short walk back to my hotel and took a long nap. I got up, took a shower, and got dressed to go out for dinner. I cleaned up, did some organizing and packing, and then headed out for dinner about 6 PM. I took a long walk in the surprisingly mild weather to work up an appetite, as well as thoroughly scout all my dining options. I settled on a Tuscan restaurant near the Hall, where I had a thoroughly acceptable dinner, with the exception of a sick child a couple of tables over who was coughing constantly and not covering his mouth. After his family left, it was a more relaxing mealtime, though I had to take a doggy bag home with the remains of my carbonara, as the appetizer meatballs were way more large and numerous than expected.

I had contemplated visiting the distillery store that evening for a drink, but I had a huge glass of red wine at dinner, and I'm far too old to be mixing grains in one evening at this stage. So I took another long walk, stopping down at the inky blackness of the lake at night for some ruminating and picture-taking before a long sweep of Main Street on the way back to the hotel.

Back at the room, it was getting warm again, so I tried to get the Japanese unit to start circulating some air while leaving the window open. I was having problems getting the unit to stay on, so I went to the front desk for some assistance. He confirmed that I was using the right controls, but there was something wrong with the unit. He said he would cycle the entire system, and after turning it on again after ten minutes, the unit stayed on correctly, so I guess that fixed it.

I finished packing up as much as possible, and then took most of the stuff out to the car to get ahead of the game for tomorrow. On my way back, I stopped at the vending machine to buy a Gatorade, but the machine not only spat out three Gatorades instead of one, it then proceeded to refund me all my money in coins. Fair's fair, so I told the guy at the front desk, and he said that it was a known issue that the hotel informed the vending company about the issue, but nothing had been fixed. I said I wasn't an expert on such things, but the vending company is probably going to lose money giving out three for one at no charge.

Laden with beverages, I went back to my room and finished getting as much organized as possible before hitting the hay again at a relatively early hour.

The Accommodations: 
I was at the Railroad Inn again, spending a good deal more time in my room today than the previous. Nearly everything of note has been discussed above.

On Regretful Departures and Travels

National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Saturday, December 29, 2018
Cooperstown, NY

Outside the Game: 
I woke up at 8:30 AM after a much more amenable night of sleep. I showered up, got dressed, finished packing, and headed out. I checked out at the front desk and confirmed that it would be okay to leave my car in the lot past checkout before walking down to Main Street again.

It started to snow lightly, which just confirms that I can make it snow in Cooperstown just by leaving, as I had last time I was there. I stopped at a German bakery at the head of Main Street for "the best donuts in town" (actually, they were quite exceptional), which I ate on the way to the Hall. Armed with my membership, I waltzed in just after they opened for free and spent most of my time taking pictures of plaques in the Hall, in addition to another brief sweep of the building. A "quick" stop in the gift shop yielded a bunch more purchases before heading back out.

Rickey Henderson
Fun Fact: Rickey Henderson is tied with Goose Gossage 
for the most teams played on by a HoFer 

I stopped at "Seventh Inning Stretch," the shop that occupies the building of the old Smalley's theater. I made a few purchases there and saw that they had HoF inductees sign their doorframe, which was both neat and weird. I headed back to my car in the snow, stopping in at the bakery to grab a couple ham and cheese croissants for the road.

I finished packing up the car and took off. Even with the light snow, the road up the lake was much less terrifying in the daylight, and there were no incidents for most of the drive home. In fact, there was a Saturday afternoon Talking Baseball out of nowhere, so in addition to listening to WFAN all the way home, I had the dulcet tones of Ed Randall guiding the second half of the drive.

Of course, the tunnel traffic was a mess for no reason. I dumped off to 1&9 and had to deal with some congestion, but I had an otherwise uneventful ride back to the garage in Hoboken. With three days of purchases with me, I wisely Lyfted back to my apartment, where I spent the late afternoon doing laundry and unpacking everything.

The Accommodations:
Jersey City, sweet Jersey City

2018 Stand-Alone Trip

Saturday, September 1, 2018


On Finally Finishing Another League

Victory Field
Victory Field, 2018
Saturday, September 1, 2018
Louisville Bats (Cincinnati Reds) vs.
Indianapolis Indians (Pittsburgh Pirates)
Victory Field
International League (AAA)
Indianapolis, IN
7:05 PM

Outside the Game:
I woke up feeling refreshed, and not having to run down to a buffet, I cooked up the breakfast sandwiches I had bought the night before in the microwave and had a civilized breakfast at my dining table on a plate and everything. I then showered up, finished packing, and checked out. I was a little worried when I checked out, as the new attendant on duty seemed to imply that he was charging my entire bill on my card (I had already paid on, but in the end, it worked out.

I had a fairly boring two-hour drive south through cornfields to get me to Indianapolis. With a little bit of construction to break it up, I was there with little fanfare. I went directly to the Indianapolis Zoo, because that's the sort of thing I do, and I was glad I did.

The zoo had excellent facilities, including a dolphin house where you could walk underneath their living tank, and a penguin house where they had a glass floor section where the penguins could swim to either side of the exhibit. The keystone for me was the orangutan house they had, which was just about everything I've ever wanted in an orangutan house. There was giant central building, but there were also visible climb ways where the orangutans could climb around to sit on towers or go to other play areas, all with a sky ride that went around it. The main house had large glass walls, and the curious orangutans used them as much as the guests. At any time, at least one or two were at the base of the building, hanging out with whoever was out front. Once you went up the ramps to inside, there was more glass walls for orangutans to interact with people, and vice versa. The troop inside had two babies from different mothers. One mother was watching the two climb and run and play and fight, while the other mother was off on a platform taking a nap with a blanket pulled over her head. It was very relatable.

Orangutan in the Indianapolis Zoo
Watch the kids, I'm taking a nap.

I spent a lot of time there and made a couple of visits to it again as I went around the rest of the zoo. They are my absolute favorites. The rest of the zoo was also nice, and I stopped in a cafe for some lunch before heading out to see the rest of the place before exiting through the gift shop.

I had another problem trying to exit, as I couldn't find my car. I was convinced I was in the right row, but after stomping through that row and the next, I really couldn't find my car. It is then, with great embarrassment that I realized that my car did have an auto-unlock. The technology had advanced so that my key looked like a normal key, but there were some buttons in there that remotely unlocked the door and opened the trunk. After pressing the unlock button in vain and not being able to see the lights in the harsh afternoon daylight, I just held down the trunk button, and nearly immediately, I saw my trunk pop open a row in the other direction. I sheepishly got in and drove to my hotel.

The hotel was a fancy affair, and I had to leave my key with the valet as I checked in. I got myself sorted out, but I had to wait for my key, as the valet had left, and his backup was helping another guest. He eventually got me my key back, and I drove around the corner to park in the underground garage beneath the hotel. I dragged all my stuff up to my room and unpacked and then tried to take a nap before the game. I was able to rest my eyes, but sleep never came fully before I had to walk down the street to the game and wait to get in.

After the game, I stayed for a little of the fireworks before going back to my hotel and watching the rest of the fireworks from my hotel room while waiting for some room-service second-diner of a burger and fries. For desert, I found the Swedish Fish I had brought at the zoo but forgot about in the panic looking for my car. It was then time for sleep in a bed of many pillows.

The Stadium & Fans:
Home to center at Victory Field
Home plate to center field, Victory Field

Victory Field is about as full-throated a name as you can get for your ballpark, and the imposing AAA structure pretty much lives up to its name, dropped in the middle of downtown Indianapolis near the convention center, canal, and several cultural attractions. The main facade is behind home plate, with a wall of mirrored windows staring out onto downtown, with the team store and ticket booth flanking the entrance. Another entrance plaza is behind center field, facing across to the convention center, with its own ticket booths. A smaller “cooler gate” is in right center specifically to clear patrons bringing coolers into the park, and another small entrance is at right field, which is the place to go when you want to get in quickly. The entire park is surrounded by sidewalk, with the exception of the right field-first base line, which is fronted by a staff parking lot.

Once inside any of the gates, you are out onto a main promenade that circles the entire park at the top of the lower seating bowl. Two larger plazas are on the promenade by the main entrances. The regular seats are in a single tier running from outfield corner to outfield corner. Long picnic hills run the length of the outfield, with the exception of the batter’s eye, unconventionally formed by a stand of trees. A gigantic digital video scoreboard rises in right-center field over a single-row outfield wall with an auxiliary scoreboard in the left-field corner, with a distinctive extension in the wall in dead center pushing the outfield wall further back. The downtown skyline, especially the convention center and Marriott hotel in left field, provide the backdrop for the game.

This being one step away from the majors, there is a legitimate second level rising above the lower level from outfield to outfield behind home plate. It holds a second level of regular seating, as well as luxury boxes, the press box, and some party decks. As with the lower level, a walkway runs along the top of seats, providing access to all the boxes as well as the seats below.

The Corona Party Deck is on the promenade in the left-field corner, while in right field is the Elements Picnic Area. In center, there is the PNC Plaza that houses some concessions, fan services desks, and midway games. Along with the concessions and the team store, the promenade also holds The Max Schumer Victory Bell (rung after each home win), hanging memorials to famous players who have come through Indianapolis, a flag pole dedication (from the previous iteration of the ballpark), the lineups and league standings, an IHSAA College baseball display, and—perhaps most notably—a payphone. A retired number 42 for Jackie Robinson is also on the right-center field wall.
Rowdie, a red monster-looking thing, is the local mascot. He shows up prior to the start of the game to run the events on-field between innings and carouse with the fans. Most of the entertainment is standard minor-league fare of races, contests, and giveaways. One twist on this was that they had events after the game was over. While waiting for the post-game fireworks, they had a "shirts off our back" give-away, where the players gave out their jerseys to some fans and a shrimp eating contest out by home plate.

Rowdie at Victory Field
Rowdie & fan

The crowd was a sell-out, and everyone seemed to be into this game, which was important to keeping the playoff hopes alive for the Indians, who were one game out of first and in third place with a handful of games to play. The big crowd was attentive to the play on the field in addition to the other entertainment and was suitably behind the home-team victory and subsequent ringing of the Victory Bell. That said, they also did all stay around for the post-game fireworks in big numbers.

At the Game with Oogie:
Dinner at Victory Field
Brat, pretzel bites, and souvenir soda

I walked over from the hotel just in time for the gates to open. I did my pictures and walk-around, and then grabbed a combo of a brat, pretzel bites, and a souvenir soda.

My seat was in the last few rows of the lower deck just beyond third base. They were fine seats by any estimation, especially given that it was a sell-out and I had purchased the tickets the day before. There were a couple of older ladies and a family to my left, a pair of guys to my right, and a family with a really cute baby that kept looking at me in front of me. The family to my left asked me where I got the scorecard, and I directed them to the team store. I also talked a little about the game with the guys to my right, especially about some of the more bizarre plays that came about during the game.

The Game:
First pitch
First pitch, Bats vs. Indians

Another day, another pennant race. The Indians were also one game out of first place with a handful to play, needing to win out to almost assure their spot in the playoffs. Standing in their way was the visiting Louisville Bats.

The Bats wasted no time establishing themselves as the spoilers, turning a leadoff triple and a sacrifice fly into a 1-0 lead. Indianapolis was only able to muster a two-out double in their half. After a hot start, Louisville went in order in the second, while the Indians got to work. The half started with two singles and a double to load the bases, but two quick outs followed. A single brought in a run, and the single after it brought in two runs, and an error loaded the bases again. The pitcher then got out of the inning with a strikeout, but the catcher couldn't get a handle on it, and the batter made it to first safely, scoring another run before a strikeout--caught this time--ended the bat-around inning at 4-1, Indians. In the third inning, the Bats got a leadoff single to third and left him there, while Indianapolis got another run on a leadoff single, stolen base, fielder's choice, and a sacrifice fly to deep left, extending their lead to 5-1.

Louisville just had a single in the top of the fourth, and the Indians went in order. The Bats went in order despite a leadoff walk in the fifth, while Indianapolis stranded a one-out double. Louisville squandered an opportunity in the top of the sixth, where a leadoff error made to second on a fly out and to third on a short single. But he tried to score on a not-deep-enough fly to right, leading to a double-play when he was nailed at home. The Indians just had a two-out walk in the bottom of the frame.

The Bats stranded a two-out walk in the seventh, while Indianapolis went in order. Louisville finally had something going again in the top of the eighth, as two walks and a single closed the gap to 5-2. The Indians struck out in order in their half of the eight, but the Bats did as well in their last shot in the ninth, securing the home 5-2 win.

The Scorecard:
Bats vs. Indians, 09-01-18. Indians win, 5-2.Bats vs. Indians, 09-01-18. Indians win, 5-2.
Bats vs. Indians, 09/01/18. Indians win, 5-2.

The scorecard was a separate $3 cardstock pamphlet that came with a roster. The scorecard is in the centerfold spread, taking up about 80% of the space, with scoring instructions and a small social media ad taking the rest of the space. It is printed on white, so there is copious space for notes, especially considering the card has a notes area for each team next to the pitching lines at the bottom of the card. The order of the teams was non-canon, with the home team on the left and visiting on the right, for some reason.

The player lines have copious space for replacements, but not enough for one for each player. I ended up having to use a lot of the space, as both teams did not use the DH for some reason, and there were a lot of pinch hitters and new pitchers. Each batting line ends with copious totals, including walks and strikeouts in addition to at bats, runs, hits, and RBIs. Each inning column ends with split innings totals. There were no pre-printed diamonds, so there was a comfortable amount of space to score in.

Two players got the golden sombrero, and one earned tassels. Again, the strikeout batter for the game obliged on his last at-bat. And there were a couple of doozy scoring plays or plays of note. In the top of the third, a line drive over the wall was called foul by the umpires, but the manager and player disputed the call should be a home run, and I have to say, from where I was sitting, they had a legitimate beef, but the call stood, and that batter ended up getting a single and being stranded at third. In the top of the sixth, an attempted sacrifice fly went wrong and turned into a DP F9-2. You don't see that everyday, either.

But the play of the game was the bottom of the second. With two outs and bases loaded, a dropped third strike on a strikeout led to a run as the batter reached first base. Firstly, I'll never, ever see that play again. I will not. Secondly, it made me thinking hard about if the run was earned, or if the batter got an RBI, because who the hell comes up with this stuff? A dropped third strike with the bases loaded. I mean, really.

The Accommodations:
Marriott Downtown
Marriott Downtown, Indianapolis, IN

Even though it was a short trip, I was splurging again on a hotel. Combined with a free night for just over $100, plus a discount, I was able to get a room in the Marriott Downtown for significantly under $100. It was within walking distance of the park, and with the bundle deal that was doing, I also got free parking, which normally costs about another $50. So with that kind of deal, I couldn’t really say no.

I was housed on one of the higher floors of the facility in a room that faced the stadium. It was clearly visible from my room out the window, being a block or so away. The entrance to the room passed a large closet on the left, with the bathroom entrance on the right. The bathroom had a fancy vanity, with stylish mirror lights and a fold-out makeup mirror. The only disappointment in the room was the waterfall shower which didn’t have a tub.

The bedroom further on held two queen beds with nightstands on one wall and a reading chair with table next to the dresser with built-in desk and chair under the gigantic, bottom-lit, flat-screen TV that as on the wall opposite.

I spent a good deal of time in the room and had a lot of room service, and it was an absolute delight, especially with all the pillows from both beds piled high onto one to the point that I had to burrow in to fit myself on the bed.

On Indianapolis Being Nicer Than I Expected

Kurt Vonnegut Mural
Vonnegut Mural

Sunday, September 2, 2018
Indianapolis, IN

Outside the Game:
My original plan for this day was to drive up to Gary, where an independent-league team had a game that evening. It was already going to be a long slog driving up there and then over to Detroit after the game, but a bit of research turned up that Gary is one of the only cities in Indiana that uses Central time instead of Eastern time, which means I would be losing two hours (one to get to the game, and one leaving the game) in addition to the already long drive, and the Sunday afternoon game was also at 6 PM instead of 1 or 2 PM, and that about sealed the deal for me. I'd get them when I was out doing Central time-zone teams.

Despite my nice surrounding, I had a fitful sleep, but I woke up in time for room service to deliver my stacked breakfast sandwich. I showered, finished packing, and then took a short nap to get me right. I checked in for my flight the next day, and then dragged all my stuff downstairs. As I checked out, I asked the attendant if I had to get my car out of the garage immediately, or if I could leave it there after check out. He assured me it wouldn't be a problem, so I packed all my stuff in my car and then walked out to explore Indianapolis proper.

My first stop was going to be the nearby Eiteljorg Museum of Native art, but they weren't opened until noon, so I went next door to the earlier-opening Indiana State Museum. It was a nice facility that had historic and natural history exhibits, with a lot of the later focusing on animals that got trapped and died. The history exhibits were informative to someone like myself who had no idea about Indiana at all, and it didn't shy away from the darker parts of it, including the KKK-affiliated governor they had.

A Sad Past
Oh, right, those guys.

Going through the famous Indianapolis exhibit, I saw David Letterman and Kurt Vonnegut, and then it struck me that they must have a museum to Kurt here. I quick look at the internet later, and there was, in fact, a museum, and it was open today. I changed my itinerary to visit it next, and I stopped at the information booth on the way out to get directions.

The well-meaning older gentleman at the desk informed me that the museum had moved to a new building in the tourist district from its old location just near here. He took me to the gift shop to try and find the phone number for the place, and after far more effort than was probably necessary, we found it. I went outside and called up, and the lady informed me that they were at the original location that I had on my map as the deal to move had fallen through, and I told her I'd see her soon.

Indianapolis had an old commercial canal that they turned into a lovely civic attraction. It ran behind the museums, so I walked along it. There were rental paddleboats splashing around in them, and the canal opened into a big plaza with a fountain. Along the way, I got a picture of a guy and his dog who were doing some macro photography of LEGO minifigs. Well, the guy was; the dog was just hanging out in the shade happy to be there.

A short walk took me to the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library is a small storefront museum. It has a small gift shop up front, and then an area dedicated to small exhibits about his life, with a large timeline on the wall, and a room next to it with a gallery of his art. In the back of the museum is a recreation of Vonnegut's library and writing desk, with a working model of the typewriter he used (his actual typewriter from the 70s was in a case in the front of the museum). It was an experience sitting down and typing at the thing, starting, of course, with an "*" and finishing with "So it goes." I spent far too much money at the giftshop on things I didn't need, and then I walked across town to the tourist area to get a picture of the mural of Kurt on the side of one of the buildings.


I stopped for a late lunch at a trendy "locally sourced" food restaurant, grabbing a smoothie and sandwich that, while overpriced, were still quite good. Then it was a walk back to the Eiteljorg Museum. I managed to enter through the back so I had to walk all the way to the front to enter. The first exhibit was about Westerns, old and new, which was pretty interesting, and had things such as Swearengin’s suit from Deadwood and props from Westworld. I went upstairs to the Native galleries to walk around, and I found a converted cigarette machine called the "Art-O-Mat" that would give you real art for $5. I went down to the front to get change of a $10 and came back up, carefully followed in the instructions, and was rewarded with a small painted tile. Neat.


I bought some things at the gift shop before heading back to my car. I packed up the trunk again and headed out. I was driving on empty at this point, and I had a touch-and-go ride to get to the only gas station on the edge of downtown, but I successfully filled up before my four-hour drive up to Romulus.

The drive itself felt really, really long, but with the exception of a little construction and some congestion, it went as quickly as possible. I got to hotel and stretched after leaving the car to go check in. You know you picked a good hotel at the airport when there are flight crews there, and I had to wait for a couple to check in, so I was feeling good about that. I got my key, went to my room, dumped all my stuff, and decided to take a run out to the airport in the early evening to drop off my car now so I would have to deal with it the next morning. I drove the short distance to the rental car return lot, dropped the car off, and got onto a shuttle back to the airport just as it was leaving. I called the hotel and had to a wait a bit for the hotel shuttle to pick me up, but I was back at the hotel in a relatively short amount of time.

I went back to my room and ordered up some room service steak and desert as I finished packing up for the last time. My food arrived, but it turned out there was a computer problem, so I had to pay in cash. Frankly, it was one less thing to deal with tomorrow morning, so I was fine with it. I ate up and I rewarded myself with a soak in the tub for a while. With everything as settled as it was going to be, I hit the hay for my last time this trip.

The Accommodations:
Delta Hotel
Delta Hotel, Detroit Airport

With all the good experience with Marriott properties so far for this trip, I decided to end up at one more. The new mid-range line of hotels from Marriott are called “Delta,” and I stayed at the Delta at Detroit Airport for my last night. It actually turned out to be literally next door to the Comfort Inn I was at the first night. With all the flight crews checking in, I knew I was at the right hotel.

The room was mid-range upscale. The small bathroom with upscale décor was to the left of the entrance, with fancy vanity, toilet, and tub, and soak I did that evening. The bedroom had a king-sized bed with night tables and a lounge chair on our wall, and a dresser/desk and luggage rack under a large flat-screen TV on the other.

Convenient, clear, quiet, and affordable. It hit all the checkboxes I needed for the stay.

On Getting Back in an Un-Laborious Manner

Detroit International Airport
Detroit International Airport

Monday, September 3, 2018
Jersey City, NJ

Outside the Game: 
I woke up at a reasonable hour, grabbed my stuff, and went down to check out and grab the shuttle. The shuttle took my half-awake self to the airport, and I managed to get dragged out of the security line because I didn't take my GPS out of my bag before sending it through the scanner. That setback aside, it was a nothing morning. I wandered over to get a breakfast platter at a diner at the airport, and then went to wait at the gate.

Surprisingly, there were no delays, and we boarded without incident. I had sprung for a really cheap upgrade to first class, so I was on the plane first and settled in for extra snacks and beverages for the duration of the flight. As usual when I was in first class, I was dozing on and off for most of it but did manage to get at least three drinks and two snacks out of it.

We landed a little early, and I hauled out to the cab stand and had an uneventful drive back to the apartment for an afternoon of laundry and more napping.

The Accommodations:
Jersey City, sweet Jersey City

 2018 Indiana

Friday, August 31, 2018

Fort Wayne

On Fleeing & Meeting the Future

Nissan rental car
My Nissan rental car
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Romulus, MI

Outside the Game:
Work went from being at a relative downturn to 60-hour weeks working on two consecutive pitches in a heartbeat. A crazy prospective client literally gave us a day for a second pitch and wanted it presented the Tuesday after Labor Day in their offices in California, so it was a big sprint to the finish, except that we weren't finished by a long shot, and I wasn't giving up this trip I had planned months ago.

I eventually got everything to the point where it would go on without me or it would crash and burn, and frankly I didn't care either way. I did my bit. If management wanted this to happen, management could make it happen.

I could only get tickets on the late flight out, so I had a leisurely trip to the airport. I originally thought that I had to travel out of La Guardia, but I remembered that at the last minute, I had found a way to leave form Newark, so I was back to my old devices of travelling up to NY Penn Station to get a NJ Transit train to the airport.

I called my parents while I was waiting for the train, and then piled on and managed to grab a seat by the window. I was trying not to, but the release of the stress from the week had me napping for most of the trip, waking just in time to get off and grab the monorail over to the terminal.

I looked at my upgrade options, and since I had all the time in the world, I just decided to get the extra legroom seat, which would give me some space to stash my rucksack if things went wrong with the overheads. As it stood, there were no lines at security, and I was through in no time at all. I wandered over to the Italian restaurant to get some dinner, which was achieved despite having the slowest waiter in history.

This left me with a bunch of time to wander around before my flight was anywhere near boarding. One of things that I saw was United's new boarding scheme. They were in the middle of converting all the boarding gates in Newark to be--I don't know--some kind of lounges, with tables and seats and rechargers everywhere. There were also modal boarding lines. I think the goal was to get people to "relax," then get boarding groups 1 and 2 on first, and then space out the cattle call. It didn't seem to work much, as people itching to just get on the plane and be done with it were hanging out at the entrance to lines as they always were waiting for their boarding numbers to be called.

My flight boarded on time, and as we weren't in a "converted" boarding area, it was the normal line-up to get in. I was able to get on, grab a small space in one of the overhead bins for my ruck sack, and then sink down into my seat with my baseball bag. Boarding went on for a while, but one of the last few people on were a Japanese couple, who I imagine had standby seats. One of them sat in the row ahead of me, and one sat next to me. I asked the gentleman if they were together, and they were, so I told him I'd switch seats with his girlfriend so they could sit together. I had to wait a bit for the crowd to get to their seats, but we were able to switch seats, and they thanked me again.

Except that it almost came to bite me in the ass. There was a United stewardess looking for a jump seat, and the person up front told them that my new seat was unoccupied. As nightmares of being dragged bloody from the plane swam in front of my eyes, they found her actual seat, and that particular crisis was averted.

After the potential drama, the flight went without incident. I was dumped out into the rapidly ending bit of Thursday and found my way to the shuttles to pick up my rental car at Hertz. I was at the start of a line that was getting longer by the second as the people got off the shuttle bus, but I was quickly moved over to a "virtual assistant," where signs assured everyone that you would be speaking to a human.

There was a line of kiosks with phones and scanners built in. I was hooked up to a gentleman in an indeterminate centralized location who walked me through my rental. I had to hold some documents up to the camera and scan a few others, but in about five minutes, I was done and out the door to claim my rental car, so score one for technology.

I walked out to my designated area, and I picked out a grey Nissan Versa. After taking a minute or two to figure out how it worked, I had put my hotel in my talkie direction box and was off. Unfortunately, even though I had just updated my GPS' maps before leaving on the trip, it had the wrong layout for the airport roads. I got lost for a little bit, and then just did my trick of getting on a main road driving away, and the GPS finally got its act together and dropped me off at my hotel for the evening. I was able to check in and go to my room and collapse for the remainder of the evening.

The Accommodations:
Comfort Inn, Detroit Airport
Comfort Inn, Detroit Airport

I got a reasonable room at the Comfort Inn at the Detroit airport. It was a nice middling hotel, and my room was slightly above average. The bathroom was right off the entrance, with a room-long vanity with sink, and a toilet and tub. The bedroom had a dresser, TV, and desk on one side of the room, and two queen beds on the other. All the pillows were quickly deposited on one bed for maximum pillow fortage.

Outside of the AC not being on when I got the room, and thus having to wait for it to cool down, it was exactly what I needed for this evening.

On History & the Present

Parkview Field
Parkview Field, 2018
Friday, August 31, 2018
Lake County Captains (Cleveland Indians) vs.
Fort Wayne TinCaps (San Diego Padres)
Parkview Field
Midwest League (A)
Fort Wayne, IN
7:05 PM

Outside the Game:
Whether from the naps earlier, or the travel, or whatever other reason, I did not sleep well that evening. I woke up groggy and went down to grab some breakfast before the service ended. While I was zombie-walking through gathering up some breakfast, I overheard some woman praising the eggs to the hotel person who was putting them out. Call me jaded, but I couldn't possibly imagine what would be so good about hotel buffet eggs. The hotel cook took the compliment graciously, but I just slouched over to a table to eat.

I had my eggs last, but damned if they weren't excellent. It marked the first time in history that I went back for seconds of buffet eggs. We live in an age of miracles.

The eggs weren't quite enough to make up for the lost sleep, so I trudged back up to my room and took a nap. Feeling a little better about this second wake-up, I took a shower and packed up and finished my planning for the evening. I called to get tickets for the game that evening, but I was told they only had standing room only. I always have been able to sneak in as a single, but they swore that was not the case. So, I got a standing room seat waiting for me, and then, as a precaution, called up Indianapolis to get my ticket for the next night. They, too, said they were sold out of regular seats, but when I told them I was a solo, I got a numbered seat with no problem.

All that was left was the drive. It was a middling three hours, but the gods were with my tailwind, and I hit no traffic or accidents on the way down. My first stop wasn't Fort Wayne, but about a half hour west in place called Pierceton. The town is a hotbed of antiques shops, but my goal was a reproductions shop named "Jas. Townsend & Son."

Townsend and Son
Jas. Townsend & Son

I first found out about this store while on Boing Boing of all places. They posted a video of a recipe for 18th-century macaroni and cheese. While looking into the comments on the video, most of the people were already familiar with the store, which had this 18th-century food channel attached to it. I went to the site, and it was all 18th-century trade goods and items for re-enactors. Most re-enactors make their own stuff or have informal, local commerce, but this was the first place I saw as general ecommerce for re-enactors and the like. I went on a spending spree for all the neat stuff, and I had ordered a couple times since them from the store. In planning the trip into Indiana, it struck a bell, and I realized the physical store for this company was right outside of Fort Wayne, so I made my plans around visiting it as well.

After three hours, I pulled up and parked a little down the block. As I came in, on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend, there was no one out front, so I just started poking around the storefront. Eventually, one of the shopkeepers (and people from the catalog and videos) came out. I explained what brought me here, and he was excited I came. He took me in the back and showed me around the place. I met some people who worked there. The only real disappointment was that the head honcho and lead in most of their videos was off that day.

He told me that the business was largely split in thirds. One third came from re-enactors, one third came from museums and historical sites to clothe personnel or dress locations, and a third came from Hollywood. That last one surprised me, but it made sense, as he explained that it was cheaper for movies to buy period outfits for background characters from them than it was to have Union seamstresses make the costumes.

He asked why I was in the area, and I told him about the trip. I gave him one of my cards when he asked, and he told me that they really loved their team over in Fort Wayne. What little resistance I had left was gone, so I started grabbing stuff of the shelves. I got a pretty big order put together, and I had to ship most of it back to myself through them, except for a number of small items that I could fit in my bag.

And I was on my way again. A little over a half-hour later, I was at my hotel for the day. I had splurged a little and gotten a high-end residency hotel for a night. I checked in, bought a bunch of cookable food in their pantry store, and made my way up to my room, which was huge. The one issue was that my AC wouldn't turn on. I called down to the front, and the guy who checked me in said it probably needed to be reset and he'd be up.

I unpacked and made myself some White Castle burgers and a bratwurst in the microwave for a late lunch while I waited. Having finished eating, I didn't have my visit yet, and called downstairs again. He apologized and came right up, hit a switch, and I was ready for my nap.

Self-made room service
Home-cooked room service

I set my tablet alarm and then dozed off. I awoke slowly, and then I immediately went into panic mode, as my alarm had not gone off, or it went off and I snoozed it immediately, or something. I woke in a bit of a tizzy, but I still had plenty of time to get to the park. I finished getting dressed, grabbed my game bag, and was out the door for the short drive to the stadium. I got there just as it was opening up, and I went straight to the ticket booth to see if there really wasn't a single seat somewhere left. As always, it turned out there was, and I upgraded by ticket for $5, went off to do my circuit of the outside for pictures, and then went in.

After the game, I ditched out before the fireworks started, but I had a bit of a problem. I forget where I parked. I had remembered some details, but the parking lot always looks different at night in the dark. I had parked by a couple of easily identifiable markers, but I couldn't find them in the dark. I couldn't even sonar the car, as I didn't think I had a remote unlock thing on my key (more on that tomorrow). I eventually asked an attendant about the landmarks I used, and he informed me I was a lot over from where I needed to be, and lo and behold, I was able to find my car in the next lot over, as well as all my landmarks. So, there's that.

Once I found the car, I was right back out again and to my hotel in no time. I had some more pantry food to buy, so I was talking to the attendant at the counter who had checked me in and reset the AC in my room before. He talked about how popular the team was locally. I don't know how we got on the subject, but he told me about a local bar that had a 25-cent beer night every month. I explained how that would end civilization as we knew it if they tried that in New York, but it seemed to go over okay without any fatalities in the great city of Fort Wayne.

I bought a cup of noodles and a Gatorade and went up to my room. I boiled some water and nuked the complementary microwave popcorn that came with my room to have an impromptu second dinner of pot noodles, popcorn, and Gatorade as I finished up my scorecard. I've had worse nights.

The Stadium & Fans: 
Home to center at Parkview Field
Home plate to center field, Parkview Field

Fort Wayne is awful proud of Parkview Field. The program is happy to tell you how it is one of the biggest sports draws in all of Indiana, as well as being the top single A minor-league draw that additionally outdraws most AA and a good portion of AAA teams in the country. It is easily the nicest single A park I've ever been to and is definitely on the cusp of AAA-quality.

The park is in the middle of the city, with sidewalk going all around it. The main entrance is at a plaza behind home plate, with a brick arch way around the entrance, ticket window, and store. Two other entrances are in left field and in center by the "North Gate," where they stash the inflatable mascot. That area was under construction development, so something or other else was going to be right by that entrance in the future.

All the entrances lead out to a main, wide promenade that runs the complete distance around the park. The main seating area extends down from the walkway all around the park, and the main grandstand with regular seats extends from base to base around home plate. A second level hovers over the lower deck, holding the luxury suites and press box, while giving shade to the lower deck. The Huntington College picnic pavilion, with a section of tabled seating under a bar, sits in the right field corner, and the Toyota Field Boxes is a similar area in the left field corner. Xfinity has a "Home Run Porch" section of seats in the left-center corner, and there are two picnic hills in left- and right-center field. In dead center is the exclusive 400 Club and the Summit, a restaurant and seating area worked into the batters' eye, much as with the steakhouse at New Yankee Stadium.

There are several "concourse suites" worked into the top of the seating bowls on the promenades, and a section of seats called the "Treetops" on top of the event center in the right field corner. The center-field entrance has an entire park by it, named for Robert E Meyers, complete with a fountain, pavilion, and an art installation (including a warning sign not to touch the metal structure when it has been out in the sun, lest you get burned). The Orchard team store (along with a "To the Majors" memorial), as well as all the concessions, are on the promenade facing the field so fans can gas up while still watching the game. The home batting cage is built into the promenade so fans can watch, and a championship flag flies inside. In fact, each section of seating has a local baseball luminary on it, some with larger plaques about the person or organization. Another championship banner is on the ground's crew door in the outfield wall.

Of special note was a LEGO wall on the left field promenade with a big tub of bricks that people can use to make things, as well as a resident master builder who was showing off some of his technical LEGO creations. I'm not sure what Fort Wayne's connection with LEGO is, but they are all over the place.

The main scoreboard was a giant digital board about the events center in right-center field, and the outfield wall is a single tier of large, local ads. The backdrop of the park is downtown skyline for Fort Wayne, as well as some condo development that runs the length of left field.

Johnny TinCap is the home mascot, obviously evoking Johnny Appleseed with the tin cap on his cartoonish human head. He helps run all the events on-field, which were a welcome change from the average. At the minimum, they put a local spin on things (such as the Bobby Knight Musical Chairs) and local innovations on contests (such as LEGO mini-fig build-off). The grounds crew even gets into the act with a dance number when they are dragging the field in the seventh inning.

Johnny TinCap
Mascot Johnny

This was a sell-out crowd and the last home game of the year, with the TinCaps being one game out of first place with three to go. The fans were really into the game (some a little too into it, but I'm ahead of myself). But you can really tell when a fandom cares about their team when they have their own derogatory nickname for them. In this case, it is "Potheads," which got thrown around a lot when they were squandering opportunities on the field.

At the Game with Oogie:
Parkview Field eats
Chicken sandwich and souvenir soda

I got in as the stadium was opened and did my walking around, picture taking, and shopping. It was a big and fancy park for single A, which they were inordinately proud of. After doing my bit, I grabbed a chicken sandwich and souvenir soda--about what I could stomach in the heat--and then got a drink or two to last me for the game.

My last-chance ticket put in me one of the last rows in the bottom section in the season ticket area by first base. Right next to me were a single guy (who was really into the ballgame), and a couple (who really weren't), and everyone else around me were families, including one kid behind me with a cough who kept coughing on the back on my neck.

There was another family a couple rows ahead of me with a dad in a Dodgers t-shirt. Later into the game, he got drunk and rowdy, and started cursing up a storm when the TinCaps blew another opportunity. He was talked to by several men around him, and then a stadium attendant came down and talked to him as well. He stayed quiet for the remainder of the game. Make your own Dodger's joke here.

The Game:
First pitch, Captain vs. TinCaps
First pitch, Captains vs. TinCaps

This very late-season matchup found the TinCaps just a game out of first place and basically needing to win out to get a playoff spot, so this game against the visiting Captains meant a whole lot for their playoff chances.

But the Captains were playing spoiler early, as a single, double, and two other singles got them to an early 3-0 lead. Fort Wayne just has a single in their half of the inning. Things kept going in the second with Lake County getting another run on two walks and a single, making it 4-0, and the TinCaps went in order. The top of the third had the Captains go in order for the first time, and the bottom of the frame had some life for the home team. Two singles got brought home by a triple, who himself made it home on a wild pitch to close it to 4-3 at the end of three.

The fourth saw Lake County erase a walk by a snap throw from the catcher, while the TinCaps only had a single in the bottom of the inning. Things slowed, as the Captains and Fort Wayne had solo singles in their parts of the fifth, but Lake County got another run in the top of the sixth on a solo homer to left to extend their lead to 5-3, and the TinCaps went in order in the bottom of the frame.

The uneventful seventh had the Captains strand a single on third after two errors, while Fort Wayne erased a one-out single on a double play with the next batter. Lake County went in order in the top of the eighth, and the TinCaps squandered three singles that loaded the bases with one out by two straight strikeouts, ending the threat and the inning. The Captains only had a walk in the top of the ninth, but the TinCaps made one last run at a comeback. A leadoff double was followed by a single to make it first and third with no outs. But a double play got a run in, yet still kill the momentum, and a groundout ended the game 5-4 Captains, further dimming the playoff hopes for the TinCaps.

The Scorecard:
Captains vs. TinCaps, 08-31-18. Captains win, 5-4.Captains vs. TinCaps, 08-31-18. Captains win, 5-4.
 Captains vs. TinCaps, 08/31/18. Captains win, 5-4.

The scorecard was part of a free, newsprint, mini-tabloid program given out at the gates. The scorecard is the centerfold of the program, taking up about 80% of the space, with a header and some unobtrusive ads filling the rest. There were player lines with some extra lines for replacements, and each batting line ended with cumulative stats, and each inning column ending in runs/hits.

The pitching lines were on the bottom right of each team's card, and the top of the scorecard had an additional section to the left of the pitching line for total game statistics. The scoring boxes were small, but without pre-printed diamonds, they were adequate. The newsprint was sturdier than normal, so there was no tearing, even with pencil.

The strikeout batter of the game finally whiffed in his last at bat in the ninth, and one other play of note was in the top of the seventh, where an infield single prompted an attempt at a 4-6-3 putout that was thrown into the dugout by the shortstop, prompting a note. A further throwing error by the pitcher that inning got the runner to third. There was a balk in the bottom of the third that advanced two runners who would both score. But outside of the that, the scoring was straightforward. Two players earned the golden sombrero sketch.

However, the story of the night was my new scoring pencil. While driving around earlier in August, I caught a pre-game broadcast for a Yankees’ game, and I nearly crashed when I heard them read a promo for "the official scoring pencil of the NY Yankees." When I got home, I looked it up online, and yes, in fact a boutique pencil shop in NY had bought a real sponsorship for the Yankees to be the official scoring pencil, and they were selling a "baseball scorekeeping" pack of pencils on their Website. So, of course, I bought two sets.

Double-ended scoring pencil
The Future, Soon

The pencils in the pack were hand-picked for being able to leave a dark mark but erase easily, and they included a lot of pencils made for scantron testing. I made a trip out to their NY store one afternoon to see what else they had, and I potentially found my Holy Grail: They had a Swiss editing pencil that was black lead on one end and red lead on the other, an actual manufactured version of the two-headed pencil I had been rubber-banding together for nearly a decade now. This was the pencil I tried out this evening, and it was wonderful. Outside of having to have a separate eraser at the ready for corrections and mistakes (two points, no eraser), it was everything that I had wanted.

The Accommodations:
Candlewood Suites
Candlewood Suites

As mentioned, I splurged on the Candlewood Suites just north of downtown. With the exception of having to wait for my air conditioning unit to be reset, it was a flawless stay. The attendant told me that a lot of companies put up their long-term traveling employees in the place, and a woman that I saw when I checked in had been there for several months now. They even had rental appliances for such things as slow cookers.

My room was a spacious suite, with the bathroom just off the entrance to my left. It had a big tub (used welcomingly), toilet, and a large vanity counter. Just across from the bathroom was the kitchen, with full-sized refrigerator, sink, dishwasher, hot plates, and microwave oven. A semi-circular dining/work table extended from the end of the kitchen. Beyond that was the bedroom, with two queen beds that got all of the pillows piled onto one. An easy chair was across from a dresser with a flat-screen TV on top.

I used the kitchen for two meals (a late lunch and late second dinner), both stocked from the pantry store in the lobby. I was also prepared for breakfast the next day.

Great stay; worth the price.

2018 Indiana