Thursday, July 16, 2009

Game 25: New York Mets 3 @ Atlanta Braves 5

Tonight was the highlight of the trip so far with the pre game ceremony that included seeing Hank Aaron, which I already posted about here. Even without that this ballpark was an impressive one. The whole atmosphere is good with the fans really into it even though they do not fill the place while at the same time they are good sports and only did a little booing along with some cheering for Francouer who was recently traded to the Mets. They are a little on the disorganized side, but it does not permeate into ruining the whole experience like at Citi Field or maybe it just is they make up for it with the atmosphere/entertainment.

Getting into the park was a little on the annoying side. First off we had to pick up our tickets at Will Call because they mailed us someone else’s tickets back in April and the solution is you have to pick up the tickets day of game. Apparently it is actually a rather common occurrence for them. Then the park was supposed to open 2 and a half hours before the game, which they kept saying was at 7pm, but the tickets say 7:10pm and that is actually when it started. Giving them the benefit of the doubt for the aim open time being 4:40pm they still failed by almost 15 minutes, as it was almost 5pm before they opened the gates. It had something to do with there needing to be a police officer at every gate before they could open and there was not one at our gate, which I believe is the only one that opens until closer to game time (~2 hours before, I think).

Anyways once we finally got into the park the experience was smooth enough, although the cashier had trouble finding the mini bat in the machine to ring it up since it did not have a barcode on it and the elevators were confusing to find. Anyways those were minor inconveniences compared to just getting into the park seeming harder than it should be. The first place we went was the Braves Hall of Fame and Museum, which I will post about later in its own post. By the way, though, it was worth the $2 admission per person and was a good way to waste almost an hour before the game started.

The game itself had some exciting moments, although the pre game ceremony and watching the different ways the Coca Cola bottle lit up were still the highlight. The bottom of the 2nd inning, however, was definitely up there in the highlights of the whole Turner Field experience for us. The reason it was a highlight was because the Braves had back-to-back homers to end up with a 2-0 lead.

The Mets later took the lead in the top of 4th by scoring 3 runs with the help of 3 singles and a double. The Braves quickly came back to tie it up in the bottom of the 4th with a single and a RBI double. The Braves regained their lead with a walk and two singles in the bottom of the 7th. They scored an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th and were able to keep the Mets from scoring other than the runs in the top of the 4th and went on to win 5 to 3.

Overall tonight was an exciting night of baseball and something we have not experienced since Fenway. Not only was the pre game ceremony awesome because Hank Aaron was there, but the game itself was a good one. Mik still played his DS a lot during the game, but he did get into this game at the end and loved seeing Hank Aaron. Best of all is after we got out of the parking lot he was very well behaved, which is really saying something because he was been a big butthead over the All Star Break when we were not even going to games.

Game 25: New Coca Cola Bottle Plugged In and Hank Aaron at Turner Field

Before tonight’s Braves game at Turner Field the new giant Coca Cola Bottle was plugged in. It was a really cool ceremony with them carrying a giant electrical cord to a giant outlet in the foul territory near 1st base. Then 15 seconds later the Coca Cola Bottle lit up and began shooting off fireworks. This new bottle is a high tech one that lights up in different colors and has a LED ribbon as the Coca Cola label, which says various things throughout the game such as Home Run and has the Tomahawk logo. It would have been cool to see the old Coca Cola bottle made out of baseball gear and I was actually looking forward to that, but this was cool, too, since we were there for its plugging in/unveiling.

The coolest part, though, was not the new Coca Cola bottle, but that Hank Aaron was there as part of the pre game ceremony introducing the new giant Coca Cola bottle. I would not be surprised if he is at tomorrow’s game for the retiring of Maddux’s number, but I was totally surprised that he was there today. Of course, the whole new Coca Cola bottle was also news to us. Even Mik thought it was cool that Hank Aaron was way down there on the field in person right across the street from the site of where he hit his 715 home run breaking Babe Ruth’s career home run record. In Mik’s mind Hank Aaron is still the career home run leader or at least the true non-cheating leader.

I know tomorrow we will see former famous ballplayers as part of the Maddux number retiring ceremony, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Hank Aaron today. Tomorrow may be the highlight historical baseball moment of the trip, but I really think the unexpected seeing Hank Aaron tops that or at least is up there at the top. Of course, right below these two Braves games in Mik's opinion is seeing the star of Burn Notice throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Boston Red Sox game.

Mik’s Mini Bat Collection: Ty Cobb Museum

At the Ty Cobb Museum Mik got a mini bat with the museum’s logo on it. The mini bat is natural wood color. The logo is a small one colored brown. The logo is of a bat standing upright with a ribbon around it that says Ty Cobb Museum. Below the bat it says Royston, GA.

Baseball Museum 15: Ty Cobb Museum

On July 13, 2009, on our way to the Atlanta area we stopped at the Ty Cobb Museum in Royston, Georgia. The museum is a rather small one inside the professional building of the Ty Cobb Healthcare complex, but it does use the small space well. Also, being in a healthcare building they really care about being accessible. The door into the building is automatic, but the one into the museum is not and they were apologetic about it. The exhibit itself is easy to navigate with the wheelchair, especially since there were no other visitors until we were leaving. The displays were also for the most part easy to see from Mik’s height although he was just playing his PSP the whole time except during the movie. The theater did not exactly have wheelchair seating, but it was a flat room and there was room along the side for Mik to roll up and not entirely block the aisle.

The Ty Cobb Museum begins with a display of bats. This is really cool and almost my favorite part of the whole museum. The bats are engraved to tell about the highlights of Ty Cobbs life mainly focusing on his baseball career. The engravings include things like his birth in 1886, being sold to the Tigers in 1905, hitting his first Major League home run in 1905, his final game in 1928, and being the first player voted into the Hall of Fame in 1936.

The exhibits then continue in a sort of time line fashion about his life from childhood through to his baseball career and life after baseball. There is a decent amount of memorabilia related to Ty Cobb on display including baseball cards, one of his gloves, balls signed by him, a Tigers uniform worn by him, and even his dentures. One of the most in depth displays is about the Ty Cobb Style of Baseball from his hitting style to base running style.

My favorite display was the one about Ty Cobb and Coca Cola. Ty Cobb became a wealthy man and it was not really from playing baseball. His wealth mainly came from smart investing and part of his investments were in the Coca Cola Company. A whole display case shows items related to his ties with Coca Cola. This includes ads featuring him and special Coca Cola bottles commemorating Ty Cobb.

In the museum there is a short movie about Ty Cobb. It is nice that the movie plays on demand rather than at specific times like at larger museums and even some smaller museums. It took a few times of pressing the button to get it to finally start up the projector and play the movie, but it did work in the end.

Overall the Ty Cobb Museum was a worthwhile detour on the way to Atlanta and it was worth staying in South Carolina two nights in order to get to the museum when it was open on Monday, since there is no way we could have made it before it closed on Saturday and it is closed on Sundays.

Before leaving we went to the souvenir shop to get our normal souvenirs of a mini bat and souvenir baseball. Mik also choose one of the limited edition Ty Cobb baseball cards made just for the museum. It was about $10, but it comes in a protector case with a Ty Cobb Museum gold sticker on the opening and is numbered 176 of 376, so it is a cool collectible. We also got a pack of Topps 2009 Series 1 cards. We did not get anything very rare or anything in the pack, but it was cool that we got a Roger Maris Legends of the Game card. Those cards are not in every pack (I think only one in every six pack odds) and the Legend we got was cool because we went to the Roger Maris Museum earlier on this trip.

Accessibility Review: Orioles Park at Camden Yards

Parking at Orioles Park at Camden Yards was a little confusing, especially since we arrived very early in order to see the Sports Legends Museum, Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, and Geppi Entertainment Museum before the park opened for the game. However, the man running the parking area by the Sports Legends Museum was very helpful about getting on his radio to find out what lot was already open for handicap parking before just sending us to a possibly closed lot. Once there we were surprised parking was only $10 and it is right next to the park near on of the Eutaw Street entrances to the park.

The gates for the Eutaw Street entrance opened two hours before the game. You then can hang out in the Eutaw Street area until the rest of the park opens about an hour and a half before the game. This was kind of boring for us since we had walked Eutaw Street earlier in the day before they closed it to prepare for the game. The only potentially interesting thing is to watch batting practice, but this is not exactly accessible. The main area to watch is behind a wall you have to be standing to see over or down in the outfield seating.

There are a few wheelchair spots in the outfield seating you can get to and then view the batting practice, so we did that. However, these seats are horrible. The view is blocked by a wall to the left of the section. The blockage is so bad you cannot even see 1st base along with a good chunk of right field being blocked. Worst part is that the seats are almost right up against the gate that separates the section from Eutaw Street. I am sure the foot traffic here would be quite a nuisance during the game, as it certainly was at the beginning. Not to mention the path is barely wide enough to even get the wheelchair to the seating section. Boy I am I glad this is not where we had our tickets to sit.

Our seats were in section 78. The seats were at the top of the lower seating section. They were nice and close to the field, especially for only $15 a ticket. However, the upper deck ones would have been better. The issue with these lower ones is that they are not raised up above the seats in front anymore than a normal row. This makes it really hard for you to see sitting down when the people in front stand up, which happened a lot during the game we were at. For a regular physically able person this would be fine, as you could just stand up to continue to try and see the action. However, it is unacceptable in my opinion for handicap rows to be at the back of a section and not raised up above the row in front because many people in wheelchairs cannot stand up when they want to be able to keep seeing the action. I did notice that the upper levels of handicap seating were raised above the row in front. They are not that much cheaper and are farther from the action, but it would be worth it in Mik’s opinion to not have people standing up and ruining the moments he does watch the games.

Overall the game was not a horrible accessible experience, but it was kind of disappointing. However, Orioles Park being the first of the modern era of ballparks I can forgive it for not having worked out the best accessibility. They obviously cared and made there be a lot of up close handicap seating that is not under an overhang and that is rather rare in many parks other than right up on the field, which can be quite expensive. Since we did not sit in the upper sections I have no idea how the elevator situation is here, which often is an issue parks fail at. As for the cup holder issue that Mik always pays attention to, there are no cup holders anywhere, so Mik did not feel left out, but he still does not like not having a cup holder.