Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Stadium #5: Progressive Field, Cleveland, Ohio

After two days of new experiences and great culture in Detroit we headed east towards Cleveland.  We only spent about 18 hours total in Cleveland and it was...kinda weird.  On a whirlwind five day trip including three baseball games in three cities we were bound to have a least favorite of the cities...sorry Cleveland.  But it wasn't terrible either; we still had a great time and enjoyed some good baseball!  Read more after the jump.

We woke up in Detroit on Saturday, July 5th, had a quick breakfast at our B&B and headed out of Michigan.  In order to avoid some toll roads we took some back roads and the bulk of our drive was through the Ohio farming countryside.  It was pretty cute and very American heartland.

I don't know if I do the best job of relaying it here on the blog but I do a ton of research before these trips.  Who knows when, if ever, we'll be in Cleveland/other cities on these trips again?  So I try to research these cities and the surrounding areas to make sure we're seeing great things and not just the touristy things.  The first thing people say when I mention that we went to Cleveland is to ask if we went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  We didn't.  We didn't budget a lot of time to be in Cleveland and neither of us were particularly interested anyway.  It just didn't seem like a museum in which we wanted to waste our only afternoon.  What we did instead was enjoy the great outdoors.  In my research I found Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  It's just outside of Cleveland and features miles of hiking and a magnificent waterfall, Brandywine Falls.  Instead of going straight to Cleveland to check in with our Air BnB (more on this later...) we headed straight for the park.  It was gorgeous!

wildflowers everywhere as soon as we got out of the car!

ruins from an electrical company that manufactured appliances until 1937 when it was struck by lightning; this was the last industry in this area.

view from the top of the falls

a really adorable bed and breakfast right next to the waterfall

they had plenty of chickens at the b&b next door!

this bridal veil cascade started to form about 10,000 years ago

After we got our nature fix we had one more stop to make before Cleveland: Hoppin' Frog Brewery.  Hoppin' Frog is a pretty well-known craft brewery but Kansas is the closest state to us that they distribute to so it's not one we can often get a chance to drink.  Since we were in the neighborhood and it was lunchtime we headed to the brewpub to have some amazing beers and lunch.  We didn't tour the brewery but did have a great chance to sample some more of their beers.  Cam's best friend S is a brewer and his new brewery in Austin was having their grand opening party a month after our trip so as a congratulatory present we brought him back a bottle of D.O.R.I.S. which is a stronger version of their award winning B.O.R.I.S.  Suffice it to say the gift went over very well.

After our quick Hoppin' Frog trip we finally headed into Cleveland.  So let me tell you about our accommodations in Cleveland.  I first looked up hotels and I guess because it was a holiday weekend I couldn't find anything in the city for less than $150 a night.  Sorry, Cleveland, but you're not that fancy and I'm not spending that much money to spend one night.  So I turned to Air BnB.  For those who don't know Air BnB is a website where people list their own places for you to rent.  Some people list their entire home or apartment and others just rent out one room.  Cam and I have used the service a few times but only ever to rent an entire space and we've never had a problem.  I found a girl renting her whole apartment for a good price and booked it months in advance.  A few weeks before our trip she sends me a message that her building was bought by a new management company and they gave her a cease and desist so she couldn't rent it out anymore.  I go back to the site and book a new place and promptly get a message from that person that it's already booked and they forgot to take it down.  At this point I was getting desperate.  So I made my search broader in order to include just rooms and not the whole space when I came upon a listing that looked good.  It was $40 for the night and a room in this couple's house.  They seemed normal and they had 50+ 5 star reviews.  It was only one night so how bad could it be, right?  When we got to her place she wasn't home so we got the key out of her lockbox, changed, and were on our way.  When we got back to her place after the game and fireworks were over it was after 11.  She came and said hi to us for a few minutes, gave us a breakfast recommendation, and then we all went to bed.  That was the extent of our interaction so it was kind of weird to be sleeping in their house and we didn't really meet them but at the same time it was super easy, convenient, and cheap so it was an overall pleasant experience.

So, after dropping our stuff at our Air BnB we had just a little time to change and get ready for a brewery tour I had set up months in advance at Great Lakes Brewing Company.  This is another brewery that doesn't distribute to us but is fairly big and well known so we wanted to check it out.  It worked out that it was a half mile walk from our Air BnB so we packed our game tote and headed out to the brewery.  The brewery is across the street from their brewpub and store so we checked out the brewpub and had a beer while we waited for our tour.  We later found out on the tour that their brewpub is housed in a building that's been a bar for a century and legend has it that Eliot Ness was involved in a shootout there and there's still bullet holes!  The bar itself was tiger mahogany and dates to around 1860!

Another thing we learned on the tour is that their brewery is housed in a building built in 1879 for another brewery, Schlather Brewing.  The building where they brew Great Lakes is the same building that Schlather used for their horse stables, barrels, beer wagons, and beer bottles for delivery.  They had the old carved stone letters from Schlather in their tap room and I thought that was a great nod to the brewing history of Cleveland.

After the tour it was time to head to Progressive Field.  There are thirty Major League Baseball stadiums and while I'd love to say that they are all beautiful monuments to America's pastime that just isn't true.  There are bound to be a few that are kind of "meh" and I'm sorry to say that's how we felt about Progressive.  We tried to pinpoint why we felt that way and I think it's for two main reasons: it's white.  Think about that for a minute.  Most stadiums are dark green or some other dark color but Progressive is white and it just looks and feels off.  Second and more substantially is the concourses are pushed back sort of in a hallway.  It's hard to explain.  Whereas at many stadiums if you're up in the hot dog line you can just turn around and still see the action on the field.  Not so much at Progressive because you're back behind a wall.  It's very bizarre.  It just kind of leads to a closed off feeling?  Another thing that I think contributed to this not seeming like a great stadium for us was the attendance.  It was a Saturday night game over a holiday weekend but the attendance was only 24,481.  There were entire upper deck sections that were empty.  To put it in perspective the night before we were two of 40,657 fans in Comerica and the day after the Indians game we were two of 33,408 fans at PNC.  So it was a light crowd and a weird stadium.  That's not to say we didn't enjoy the game!  Any evening spent in a baseball stadium is bound to be a good one.

outside of the stadium...check.  definitely not as good of an entrance pic as Detroit!

one of the funniest PSA's I've ever seen, this was on the bathroom stall doors at Progressive

we thought this was really cute and fun

since we couldn't get an Old Style in Wrigley we had to get one here.

When we sat down in our right field line seats I looked at the section next to us and thought it was oddly constructed how they were almost totally perpendicular to us.  as more fans made their way into the stadium this section would become even worse than just a structural oddity...

The giveaway on this game night was pretty good: Larry Doby jerseys.  Larry Doby was the first African-American in the American League.  He's an Indians legend so after we found our seats we went ahead and put on our Doby jerseys and looked like real Indians fans!

I thought these luxury boxes looked weird and not cohesive with the rest of the stadium

view from our seats
After we snapped a few pics in our seats we headed to center field where Progressive has a little Indians hall of fame area.  While over there we also checked out some items that were about to make their way to Cooperstown.  A few weeks before our visit Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall had a monster game against the Rangers.  He had nine RBIs, 5 hits, and 3 homeruns in one freaking game.  He of course accepted the Hall of Fame's request for his cleats, jersey, bat, and one of his homerun balls from the game.  They had these items on display and even though Cam's a lifelong Rangers fan we definitely checked them out.

Nap Lajoie's court case involving his contract was one of the first cases we read in my "Baseball and the Law" course in law school.  It's a pretty interesting case that ultimately set some groundwork for the future of free agency in baseball.

the ball is one of his three homerun balls and the only reason they have this one is because a Rangers fan caught it and threw it back.
While we were checking out the HOF items the Indians employee on duty at the table had quite the mustache.  He commented on Cameron's beard and asked if Cam ever waxes his mustache.  He then told us that he often waxes his up because he "play[s] vintage ball."  That's one of the most hipster sentences I've ever heard in my life, by the way.  We shook our heads and headed back to our seats for the game.


Okay, back to the oddly perpendicular section next to us.  Early on in the game we realized that something was going on.  A big majority of the people in that section had shirts on that had the state of Ohio's outline on it and the state was "wearing" aviator sunglasses and the text said, "BROHIO." These people were proud to be bros?  What is going on, Cleveland?  Not only were they wearing these ridiculous shirts priding themselves on bro culture but they had a lot of chants and cheers.  This guy would stand in the aisle and he was wearing a custom Indians jersey with the name "GOVERNOR" on the back and he was leading the group.  Johnny Manziel, idiot quarterback from texas a&m university had recently been drafted by Cleveland.  Since Lonnie Chisenhall is having a good season the Brohio crew took to chanting "Lonnie Baseball" every time he was up, an obvious riff on "Johnny Football."  It was obnoxious to everyone around us but for us Longhorns it was torture.  Brohio were pretty annoying and after the game I googled it and sure enough it's actually sanctioned by the Indians and not just an annoying fan group.  It was inspired by ultimate bro Nick Swisher and if you sit in that section on a weekend night to team outfits you with a Brohio shirt.  Ridiculous.
Brohio in all of their Bro glory

We saw two homeruns, one from each team, and a hometown win!  Detroit remains as of this writing the only team we didn't see win at home and Wrigley remains the only stadium thus far where we haven't seen a homerun.  We saw some pretty spectacular defensive plays including a David Murphy diving save right in front of us in right field.

After the game we were treated to fireworks.  But not  just fireworks.  A few months before our trip KISS had been inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame so the fireworks were set to KISS music.  I knew this ahead of the game and was pretty puzzled as to how you set fireworks to KISS music and I can't explain it now but it definitely worked well!  I was very impressed with the fireworks.  Before the fireworks started, though, they had a couple on the field for a contest.  They showed a KISS-related trivia question on the big screen and each one they got right would advance them a base and was a different prize.  The home plate question ended up being the guy in the couple asking the girl to marry him!  I would never ever want to be proposed this way but it was cute and sweet and she said yes and it was our first proposal on our baseball trips!

We got a good baseball game, a gorgeous sunset, and some fun fireworks.  A great night spent in Cleveland!

funny story: we were in Cleveland about a week and a half before there were any rumors about Lebron going back to Cleveland but we overheard many people who were 100% sure he'd return home.  we thought they were delusional but lo and behold a couple weeks later we felt like idiots and the hometown faithful were right!  

After a pretty horrible time finding a taxi or Uber we finally made it back to our Air BnB.  As I said before this is the first time we met our host but she was really friendly, around our age, and normal so we chatted for a few quick minutes and went to bed.  I asked her if there was a good local coffee shop we could stop early the next morning on our way to Pittsburgh and she recommended me to Rising Star saying they had great bagels.  Sold.  We get up early Sunday morning and head out for breakfast.  Remember when I said that "I wax my mustache when I play vintage baseball" was one of the most hipster sentences ever?  Well I had one of the most hipster coffee shop exchanges ever at Rising Star.  We walk in and it's in a converted old firehouse so it looks really neat.  When our host said they had great bagels I didn't realize that was all they had to eat but hey I'm the daughter of a New York Jew so I'm never going to turn down a bagel.

Me:  I'll take an everything toasted.
Hipster Employee: We don't toast.

Now, it's way too early in the morning for me to have my filter on so I just blurt out...
Me: Are you serious?  You know that bagels are, like, 100 times better when they're toasted?
Hipster Employee: blank stare.
Me: Okay, what about cream cheese?
Hipster Employee: We have garlic chive and cheddar onion.  Homemade.

Okay, that's great that they make the cream cheese in house but, again, bagels don't need to be fancy.  Regular plain ole cream cheese on a bagel is the bees knees, am I right? So I ask for one of the cream cheeses.

Me:  Can I get this sliced for the cream cheese?
Hipster Employee: We don't have a slicer.

I wish I could explain to you the look of incredulity on my face in this exact moment.  Can someone please explain to me how I'm supposed to spread my $2 artisan cream cheese on a bagel when they don't have knives and they won't slice my bagel?  I had to just take a bite and then awkwardly dip it in the cream cheese.  Facepalm.  I will say, though, that the bagel was incredibly delicious but would've been way better had I been able to just smear cream cheese on it like a normal person.  Oh, Cleveland, you were hipster, kinda weird, but we liked you anyway.  Even though we were basically only in the city for about 18 hours we did get a good glimpse of Cleveland and it seems like a nice midwest city with a lot of character.  But it was time for us to head east to Pittsburgh for our last stadium on the trip...

1 comment: