Counting Sheep (err Major League Baseball Cities)

I suffer from insomnia often, waking up in the middle of the night and I cannot get back to sleep. I seem to be getting more of it as I get older. I’ve been experimenting with ways of calming my mind of all of the tasks I have to do and my concerns. One method I use is going through mentally,  lists with sporting themes.

Last night the topic was Major League Baseball and I was comparing the American and National League cities. I took the perspective of a player and considered which set of cities would be more enjoyable to visit and play in. I took into account the quality of the team, the history of the stadium, attractions the city has to offer, etc. I came to the conclusion that is slightly better to have a predominately American League schedule. I rated the American League East and Central over the National league’s East and Central divisions. The National League West would be better than the American League. For example, traveling to San Diego, Denver and Phoenix, in my opinion, is more interesting than playing in Dallas, Houston and Seattle.

I then made my ideal league from this perspective. What would be the ultimate League schedule? I came up with the following:

Kralovec League

East Division – Boston, New York (Yankees), Toronto, Washington and Miami

Central Division – Milwaukee, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis, Detroit, Minnesota (I am biased towards the upper Midwest/Great Lakes region where I am from.)

West Division – Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego, Seattle, Colorado, San Francisco

 

Indians Defeat White Sox

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The Kralovecs at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago

The entire family went to Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago to watch AL Central Division foes, the Cleveland Indians defeat the Chicago White Sox 9-3. It was the Indian’s eighth consecutive win.  Indian second baseman Jose Ramirez was the hero with four hits and 3 RBIs. Cleveland has a solid lineup from top to bottom and is well-managed by Terry Francona and it showed. They had runners on base the whole game.

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We had good seats on the first base side

My big takeaway from the game was realizing that baseball is healthy and its popularity is not lessening. It was a fantastic night out for the family! Most of the people in attendance are not really into baseball, but they are there for the food and beer, the between inning entertainment and just an excuse to sit outside on a cool summer evening. Baseball at the stadium is really a restaurant and bar business, supplemented with clothing sales, parking, etc. The kids were loving trying to catch a foul ball. At the end of each inning, they sprinted down to the first row, hoping the first baseman would flip them the ball as he trotted to the dugout. They were not in luck.

We took the train from Andy’s apartment downtown and it was quite convenient. We are Detroit Tigers fans, but it was our only chance to see an MLB game this year. I wanted to see the Cubs game the previous evening, but tickets were too expensive. It was “Christmas in July” theme night and after the game, fans enjoyed a firework show to Christmas music.

Kids trying to get a ball

I hope Cleveland does well in the playoffs since we watched them. Francisco Lindor was smaller than I expected. He is also extremely flexible and several of the Cleveland players performed some pretty amazing stretches before the game. Danny Salazar pitched five no-hit innings. The first place Indians are 2.5 games ahead of Kansas City in the AL Central and should hold off the Royals to win the division, but we’ll see. The Astros and Red Sox will be tough competition.

 

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Post game fireworks

 

Family Journal: August 12, 2016

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We are wrapping up our summer holidays in the USA with a weekend in Washington DC visiting our longtime friend, Kim. We have known her since Nadia and I were in Bolivia.

Last night the Washington Nationals were hosting the Atlanta Braves so I took the opportunity to take Owen to his first Major League Baseball game. A father taking a son to his first MLB game is one of those experience people don’t forget. It was a wonderful night for me, regardless of the score or quality of play. The Braves have the worst record in baseball, but they played like champs, defeating the Nationals 8-5. Everyone at the game was sweating profusely with temps in the mid-90s and high humidity. Since it was Owen’s first and only MLB game this year, I splurged and we got tickets very close to the Braves dugout. We were disappointed that Bryce Harper was not in uniform (strained neck) and Max Scherzer (ex-Tiger) was not pitching. The game was highly entertaining and the size and power of MLB players was on full display in contrast to the smaller Japanese players. My big takeaway from the evening was the play of the infielders. On television it looks so easy to field a grounder and throw out the runner, but with the fast players, the catch and throw need to be perfect. I admired their skill. Nationals Park is right downtown near the Potomac and the Navy Yards and it is a fantastic night out. I can see why they have such strong attendance, plus the team is in first place. Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg was going for his 14th victory with only two defeats, but led by Braves’ first baseman Freddie Freeman’s three-run homer, he exited the game in the sixth inning as the losing pitcher.

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On the negative side, in MLB’s quest to maximize revenue, the average cost of attending a game for a family of four is $326. It would be nice to half this and have everyone in the league, make 1/2 the money they do, owners and players. When a player contract reaches over $300 million dollars, that should be a sign that why put the cost ultimately on the consumer. I know that television revenue play a part in these high salaries, but when you look at the game experience, $5 for a bottle of water, $30 for parking, $92 for a baseline seat, it adds up for the fan attending a game.

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On the way from the Lehigh Valley to Washington DC, we stopped by the Gettysburg battlefield in southern Pennsylvania. This was the furthest the Confederate reached in the war and the second day was the decisive battle of the Civil War. I see the are huge differences between the Republicans and Democrats in today’s politics, but the idea of a war between Americans is hard to believe. It was a young country then, (4 score & seven years), and I guess they needed to work out a governmental system for the continent. It was extremely hot and humid so we walked a bit of the battlefield near the climatic battle of the three-day conflict. There is a huge amount of interest in the Civil War and Gettysburg is one of those places every American should visit. Much of the battlefield has been preserved and there is much to be reflected upon while visiting. I recommend watching Ken Burns’s 1990 PBS series, Civil War, which is available and digitally restored on the PBS website.