Monday, May 31, 2010

Huntington Park review

After seeing Target Field for the first time and being slighlty underwhelmed I wondered to myself if I had somehow started to become jaded with ballparks. I mean after awhile you have to develop some type of tolerance level to incredible scoreboards, diverse food selections and great views. I rated it as an above-average park, but still didn't think it was that incredible. This goes in contrast with what other people I have talked to have said about Target Field since they have absolutely LOVED it. Since my final grade of the park was a B- I wondered if my judgement was off. I wondered if I had become too cynical and would be too tough of a critic from now on.

The reason that the above paragraph is in past tense is because I went to see a Columbus Clippers game at Huntington Park and absolutely loved the park. My fears of being too cynical are unfounded for at least a little while longer since I thought this park is just barely short of being a perfect minor league park. I am not just writing that because former Minnesota Twins 3rd baseman *Brian Busher (pictured below) won the game in the 11th inning on a 2 out walkoff single to give the Clippers a 4-3 win over the IronPigs.

*I might be the only Twins fan who was a big supporter of Brian Busher. My reasons were the high OBP% (last year it was .360, which was better than Cuddyer and 50 points better than Brendan Harris or Matt Tolbert), high pitches per plate appearance (tops on the team at 4.26) and the fact that I always thought he put together quality at-bats. When he was annouced I stood up and started cheering wildly for him. And yes I am proud of that. One final quote from the Clippers manager sums it up - "Thanks goodness for Brian Busher."

Scalping/Ticket Prices: A-
I blame wedding planning on turning my brain into mush. My ability to reason and think is severly compromised thanks to hours and hours of analysis and overthinking every little detail about 6.5. Who sits where? What do they eat? Will they be offended if the electric slide does or does not get played? It is amazing I am even able to write a few complete sentances on this post. How does that have to do with ticket prices? Well yours truly didn't want to stand in the long line for tickets, so I just went up to a scalper and got what I thought were $25 tickets for $20. It turns out that the most expensive ticket to the game was only $10, which means that I paid double for our tickets. The funny thing is that M was pretty sure I was paying too much, but didn't say anything because of my supposed expertise with scalping. I spent the rest of the game kicking myself for my obvious mental blunder.

Aesthetic Appeal: B+
Huntington Park doesn't look like much from the outside since it is a small ballpark in the Arena District of downtown Columbus. It kind of sneaks up on you when you are driving downtown. However, once you get inside you are treated to a great view of downtown Columbus. Also, the red brick and the way the ballpark is presented is all very well done. The scoreboard is large enough and displays all relevant stats.

Fans: B -
Fans at minor league games are a different breed than fans at major league games. A lot of fans go there hoping to have a good family outing. Whether or not the home team comes out a winner is usually a minor concern. The fans at the Clippers game weren't more or less into the game than Mississippi Braves or Durham Bulls fans. M did complain about the people sitting behind us talking about strange things, which is the reason the grade went down from a B+ to B-.
Buzz: C
Again the buzz at minor league games is different than in the major leagues. It is usuallly true
that the buzz is at its highest during mid inning events and promotions. I graded this as average since there was an average amount of buzz for a minor league game. Maybe this would have been higher during the years of Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Columbus Clippers ring your bell song?

Food: A
Very impressive food selections. We went up to outfield rooftop bar and I got some cheese fries ($3) and chicken wings ($6), which were both excellent. M was able to get a fried bologna sandwich for only $3. It wasn't gourmet food, but it was definitely better than a Dome Dog at the Metrodome. Besides that there were local chains represented like Donatoes, Bob Evans (no country biscuits and gravy though), and City Barbeque. M and I were both impressed with the food at the park.

Fun things to do besides watch the game: A-
Besides the food I liked the fact that the park was very family friendly. There was a grassy spot in the outfield where families could sit and watch the game from their blankets.

Also, there was a fountain where kids could play in. Overall I was just impressed with the layout of the park and how it was really easy to walk around and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells. Maybe this is too high of a grade, but I am feeling generous.

Overall impression: A-
Minor league games (especially at the triple A level) can sometime be a tough thing to brand. The primary focus should be on watching baseball since almost all of the players are one injury away from making it to the majors. However, there is a reason why they aren't playing for the big league club just yet. Maybe they are too old and are on the downswing of their career, but normally they are young prospects who need a little extra work. The thing is that once they get that extra work or are determined to be really good then they don't stay on the triple A team. For example Derek Jeter didn't play for the Columbus Clippers for 5 years. That is why it can be a tough to figure out minor league games. It should be about baseball (since the quality of baseball is really good), but for the most part the average fan is going to the game to have a good time, get out with the family or something that has little to do with baseball. Baseball in that sense is just the excuse or the distraction. That is why you might see so many promotions for minor league games that has nothing to do with baseball. The focus is on having a fun time and maybe catching a little of the game.

I think Huntington Park does a great job of providing reasonably priced seats to an incredible ballpark experiance. Also, there is enough to do that a not so avid baseball fan like M could make it through 11 innings. The views are great and as evidenced by my A grade the food is excellent. There is a reason why this ballpark won the 2009 ballpark of the year.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Advice on Marriage

As the days count down (8 to go) before the wedding I thought I would share with you some of the advice I have received on the institution of marriage. Each bullet point is a different person.
  • Marriage has its ups and downs, but after 26 years of wedded bliss I would not change a thing!
  • Have more then one T.V. in the house so there’s no fighting over the remote and pick up your dirty clothes and don’t drink the last beer.
  • You both need to give 100% each. Not 50% each.

I will add to this assuming I get more advice as the day gets closer.

Brian Dozier

For any Twins or USM fans who follow this blog this section might interest you. If you don't fall into that category, you might want to skip this post. Anyway, one player that I have been following since since seeing him play in the College World Series is Brian Dozier. He was a really good player for the Golden Eagles and then lucky for me he was drafted by the Minnesota Twins. The fact that he came from USM and is now a part of the Twins organization makes him someone that I like to keep on my radar.

Anyway, he just got promoted to the Twins high A team down in Fort Myers. This promotion is well deserved as over his minor league career he has batted .324 with a OBP% of .396. So far he is doing really well at the start in Fort Myers with 8 hits in his first 21 at bats. I was excited enough about the promotion and for him moving one step closer to making the Twins that I thought I would check in with a Twins blogger that I follow on a regular basis. Below is the email I sent with his reply below that:

As a fellow Twins fan I really enjoy reading your blog and getting your thoughts on the entire organization. One player that I like to follow is Brian Dozier since he is also from Mississippi and went to one of my favorite schools USM. I actually saw him play in the College World Series last year in Omaha. Anyway, I wanted to thank you for providing me a website where I can check in and see how Dozier is doing in the Twins farm system. It is great to see that he was recently promoted to Ft. Myers. Also, I wanted to get your opinion on whether or not you think he has any chance of making it to the Twins? I would be extremely happy to see someone from USM playing for the Twins. Maybe he could even replace fellow Mississippian Matt Tolbert as Gardy’s choice for Punto-lite?


Seth's response:

Hi Kevin, thanks for the comments and compliments, I do appreciate it.

As for Dozier, as a four year college guy, the battle is going to be uphill for sure, and he could be pushed a little bit. He is a solid player offensively and defensively. Nothing really flashy. He certainly fits the Twins mold for a player. he can play both middle infield spots and he can hit for average. Not much power, but I do think he has a chance. But if so, it's at least two years from now, maybe three.

I am holding out hope that in 2/3 years I will be able to go to Target Field wearing my black and gold USM polo with my Twins hat. The USM/Minnesota connection has already worked out pretty well for the Vikings, so I don't see why we can't see another connection for the Twins.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Target Field review

The Twins are my favorite team, which might lead the reader to believe that I would be biased writing a review on Target Field. I will try my best to remove that bias and give you an honest view of the stadium. However, I don't think you will question my bias when I tell you in the first paragraph that Target Field isn't my favorite park. In fact I can think of 3 parks (Kauffman, Safeco and Wrigley) that I have been to that I definitely like better. It is a nice park and a lot of local writers seem to think that it is the best thing to happen to the Twins since 1987. I disagree and will go through my normal rankings to explain that differing opinion.

Scalping/Ticket prices: B
This one is tough to judge because ticket prices are abnormally high since it is the first year of Target Field and nearly every game is sold out. I went in on season tickets with some guys and got $50/each seats between home plate and 3rd base. I give this section a B because there are plenty of scalpers outside and the face value on the tickets are reasonable. Once the novelty wears off I expect prices to go down on non-marquee games. Come next year this section could be graded out as an A.

Aesthetic Appeal - B-
This is a very nice ballpark with a good view of the skyline. It fits in well with downtown Minneapolis despite the fact that besides one side of the stadium the rest of the stadium is surrounded by undeveloped urban wasteland. Also, I like how the stadium looks modern and doesn't try to be the next Camden Yards. These are pluses to what I consider a fine looking ballpark. However, there is something that is missing from the park. When I walked in to the stadium it wasn't jaw-dropping incredible. Maybe it is because I have read so much about the stadium and would drive by the stadium as it was being built, but I feel like the way the stadium looked at first was underwhelming. The main thing that I think the stadium is missing is something signature about it. There is no ivy at Wrigley or waterfalls at Kauffman. There is nothing distinct about Target Field. In that way it reminds me of Jacobs (Progressive) Field. Below is a view from my season tickets.

Fans - A
I love Twins fans. They are polite, knowledgeable and like you expected me to write anything else about people like me. Sure if I was being objective I might notice the similarities between Vikings fans and Twins fans and I might get slightly annoyed with "Minnesota nice," but in this section I am gong to be positive and give the fans an A.

Buzz - A-
The A- is partly due to how the stadium is new and every seat is full. M even mentioned how much extra buzz there seemed at Target Field compared to the Metrodome. I agreed that for a random Tuesday night game there almost always be more buzz at Target Field. However, I like to think that for a big game nothing was better than the Metrodome. At max capacity the Metrodome held more than 20K more fans than Target Field and that combined with how the sound was contained in the Dome made for an electric big game environment. Target Field probably has a better average buzz, but at its best nothing was better than the Metrodome.

Food- C
There are so many more options than the Metrodome and I am sure with time this grade will go up, but as of now I have not been impressed with the food at Target Field. The prices were high (which was expected at a new park) and the food quality wasn't what I expected. Maybe I just had the wrong things with M, but we weren't impressed with Murray's steak sandwich ($10.50), fries ($4), or hot dog ($5). I did enjoy the chicken wild rice soup ($6) and the Asian stir fry ($9) was pretty good, but maybe not worth the price. Next things that I want to try the Tony O Cuban sandwich and the Vincent burger. I give the food a C though because the food has been average. To give you a comparison it is better than the Metrodome (F), but worse than Safeco (A).

Fun things to do besides the game - B
Besides eating and walking around looking at Minnesotans in awe of outdoor baseball there are a few things to do if you aren't much of a baseball fan. There are some decent bars and some fun memorabilia to check out. Some of the areas are closed off for non season ticket holders or people with luxury tickets. That is too bad since I really did enjoy walking around and seeing old pictures (Willie Mays and Ted Williams playing for the Minneapolis Millers) of scenes from Minnesota baseball history. Also, I enjoyed the fact that at the stadium had pictures of all other stadiums and thought that would be a great idea for my future living room.

Overall impression: B-
Again I liked the park and think it is above average (like Minnesotans in Lake Wobegon), but the average food and lack of a distinct characteristic really hurt the park's ratings. My favorite thing about the park is watching the Twins play. I don't really care if they played in the Metrodome or Target Field as long as I can watch them play and hopefully win. Unlike other baseball teams where the park is the attraction over the team, the Twins take precedence over Target Field. Maybe this means I am biased against Target Field since as of now the limited amount of open tickets and higher prices probably means I will see less Twins games than in previous years. I tried my best for an objective review and a B- is the best I can give Target Field.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Best advice

On yesterday's Freakanomics blog the question of "what is the best advice you ever got" came up on a blog post by Stephen Dubner. This is an intriguing question to me partly because most advice is rarely remembered or followed. It seems like everywhere you look there are people giving you advice and most of it is forgotten immediately. However, there are the rare occasions where you actually remember and try to follow the advice. I am going to try and focus on those pieces of advice because I know they have been meaningful to me.

Best advice I ever got

"If a defender hits you while you are shooting a three fall down. It doesn't matter how hard he hits you." Coach Dunn

"Go to office hours." A random article in the Miamian before my freshmen year of college. This advice helped me keep my scholarship, improve my GPA and cultivate good relationships with my professors.

"Buy low, sell high." - Dad. I still am trying my best to follow that advice.

"Be respectful" - Mom. I don't know if she ever said this, but I consider this to be unspoken advice. Most of the time being a good example is a better way of getting a point across than just words.

"Work as hard as you play." - Buck in a letter written to me right before freshmen year at Miami. I think I accomplished that during my 4 years in Oxford.

"The male brain isn't fully mature until the age of 25" - A random Time magazine article that was suggesting that men wait until 25 before getting married.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


My brother in law has two short posts on his blog entitled "Paradise is..." In honor of that I am going to steal his idea.

Paradise is....

A perfectly executed backdoor cut for a layup.

Late night food (Gyros in KC, Bagel & Deli in Oxford, etc) after a long night of many cocktails.

Friday happy hour at home with M and our recorded TV shows like Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother, etc.

The final destination of a roadtrip.

Pac Rim reunions and stories that keep getting better.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wedding Update - Mother/Son Dance

Below are the songs that are in the running:
If you would like to vote feel free.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wedding Update - Clean Slate

Imagine for a second that you are replaced with someone who is exactly like you in every way except one. He or she is the same height and weight. Same background. Same friends. Same thoughts on politics, religion and whether or not there should be a designated hitter. The only difference is that you have no preconceived ideas about anything related to weddings. Society has not forced any social norms on you and in essence you are a clean slate when it comes to the ceremony celebrating the start of a marriage. This is probably hard to do since I know it is kind of difficult for me to take a step back and try to think of something for the first time. However, I have faith in the intelligence of my readers and will continue along with the post as if you don’t know anything about weddings.

Ok. Now that I’m at that clean slate I am going to pretend that someone explained to me everything that goes into a *modern day wedding in the United States. They are going to explain all the customs, rituals, gifts, etc that go into things. Based on that let’s start going through certain things that go into a wedding:

*Modern day wedding = weddings that I have attended, which is also similar to the one that M and I are currently planning. I don’t mean to presume all weddings in the US are like this.

Engagement ring – Thoughts? So, the guy has to get the girl a piece of jewelry to symbolize their eternal love for one another. So are you telling me that everyone’s love is the same? Everyone likes diamonds. I don’t get it. It is just a colorless, sparkling piece of jewelry. I would think that some girls might like a different piece of stone like a ruby or sapphire. Why is it that everyone seems to gravitate to a diamond ring? It isn’t like when people go to a restaurant that they all get the tuna melt. I thought the US was all about choices. I check out facebook and I can’t help notice the high level individuality with my friends until the moment when they get engaged. It seems like there small variations to the style, but overall everyone settles on a diamond ring as the symbol to tell the world that they are now in the process of planning a wedding. That is just crazy talk to me. Also, it seems kind of unfair that women get a gift celebrating the start of wedding planning, but the guy gets nothing. Does this mean that women are possessions and that the down payment is a ring? I thought that we were moving towards a society where men and women would be treated equally. Wouldn’t that mean the woman would get the man something in this situation? Also, wouldn’t that mean that there would be equal amount of women asking men to marry them as vice versa? I’m already confused and I haven’t even talked about the cost of these symbols of the start of wedding planning. Is it smart for what is usually a young couple to be spending so much money on something that might be better used on education or a down payment on a house?

Wedding ring – Thoughts? Wait, so you expect me to believe that after the bride receives an engagement ring the next thing she will want is another ring. This seems strange. Wouldn’t you want some variety and not something that gets covered up by the engagement ring? Would a wedding necklace make more sense and better compliment a wedding ring? I can get behind the idea that jewelry is romantic and something that would help celebrate a special occasion, but I can’t figure out why someone would want two rings. It does make sense that both woman and men receive something like a wedding ring that helps alert other people that they are married and that any not free agents in the dating scene. One common spot like the ring finger sends a strong statement to the rest of the world and I think that would help eliminate some confusion. Still I think that either the wedding ring or engagement ring should change to provide a little variety.

Wedding dress – Thoughts? Again I don’t understand both the cost and the lack of individuality. Also, why would anyone keep the dress for years and years when there is a 0.0% chance of ever wearing it again? It isn’t like you can even pretend that you will wear it out on the town one night. I don’t want to say more on this subject and offend anyone.

Wedding cost – Thoughts? It seems expensive. It seems like by just mentioning it is a wedding the cost just increases by 50%. I compared it to buying a beer at a ballgame. You know that beer is pretty cheap and that if you were to go to the grocery store it would be about a $1 each bottle. You also know that if you were to go a bar that the same beer would be $3-$4. However, since you are at a ballgame the same beer costs $7. That seems like an excessive markup and that is what I think about a lot of the costs associated with weddings.

Bridesmaids/Groomsmen - Thoughts? The dress/tux thing seems like a "friend tax" tome. I can't think of the bridesmaids or groomsmen getting any value from their expensive outfits. Also, I think one can easily make the argument that their attire doesn't really affect much of anything in regards to the wedding. Instead of just picking normal dresses and suits that the bridesmaids/groomsmen already own it is standard protocol that the bridesmaids will have completely new, matching dresses and the groomsmen will have to rent matching tuxes. And as a friend in the wedding party it isn't like you can even say no to this request. Your only option seems to be having to grin and pay the cost of being a friend to the bride/groom.

Anyway, the wedding planning is in its stretch run.