July 27
Normal, IL

We made it home ... we still have LOTS to update with the journal and photos and will do it ASAP once we catch up on some sleep and unpack :) Look for more pictures, stories, and updates throughout the next month! Feel free to continue to send us notes as well!  We got to watch a series between the Cards and Royals at Kauffman Stadium.  It really is one of the hidden treasures as far as ballparks are concerned.  It was way ahead of it's time when it was built and is a beautiful place to watch a game.

We were a little disappointed with the fans, and the food as well.  We'll write more about that when we complete our updates and commentary on the trip!

Really June 24
Oklahoma City

Ok ... it's late so we won't write a whole lot today ... we were at Arlington today ... now Ameriquest Field instead of The Ballpark at Arlington and that is one of the biggest shames in baseball .... it truly is a beautiful stadium. We actually left in the 7th inning, which is a Cardinal sin, but we are glad we did as the game went 18 innings! We were actually pulling into Oklahoma City as the game was ending! Tomorrow we will visit the Oklahoma City Memorial before driving to Kansas City .... where we will NOT be able to watch Ben's Fantasy League star, Carlos Beltran, as he was traded to the Astros today .... oh well .... should work out nicely for both Andrew and Ben's fantasy teams, as Dotel's leaving the Astros means Lidge will close and earn Andrew some saves! Off to sleep now, but we will try to write more tomorrow about Arlington and it's wonderful ballpark!

June 23

Well it is our last night at the Inn at the Ballpark. It's a pretty nice place and pretty cool for a baseball fan ... Houston lost big tonight as we witnessed Kendall hit a grand slam off of the left field foul pole. We leave bright and early in the morning for Arlington. They are calling for rain, so hopefully we get to see the game! And then it will be straight from Arlington to Oklahoma City for the night. Be sure to check out the new pictures and we will hopefully title them and post some new ones soon!

June 23

Okay, my watch was wrong ... it is only the 23rd ... WE POSTED MORE PHOTOS .... go to the photos page and click on the link! Just a quick post for now .... to update a couple items. We met some guys doing a 30-park trip for Parkinson's disease .... kind of a cool idea and we wish them the best. Also, Craig Wilson from Pittsburgh might get added to the "Ponson" list ... we took a tour of Minute Maid Park, which was a good deal for 7 bucks, and saw the Pirates taking some early BP ... Andrew asked him for a photo and he said he couldn't right then ... and what exactly did he have to do? Does he realize his job relies heavily on fans? MLB needs to know that player access needs to be MUCH better. Tonight we have our 2nd game at MMP ... we'll post more later.

June 22

We made it here to Houston yesterday with no trouble ... though I can't say a lot of good things about the drivers here:) The Inn at the Ballpark is beautiful.... but for being new I would have assumed they would have wireless access ... so I am sitting here in the lobby on their one internet computer ... if we can find a phone cable somewhere we will post photos tonight. I won't write a ton now but will try to write more later ... but for starters... Minute maid Park is really pretty ... the metal on the outside would look better in a darker green, but the inside is gorgeous. The wall of windows in left field gave it something the BOB didn't have with the roof closed - the feeling of being outside. The park definitely has a baseball feel to it ... from the field itself to the monuments to the history of the game behind the center field section ... of course we would have preferred not to have to walk under the legs of a huge catcher cutout to get into the family fun area .... but oh well. The statues to Biggio and Bagwell are well done outside and offer some beautiful photo opps. The food was good, but not great. The bbq sandwich was good but lacked kick for $6.50. The Superstar Dog, which is 4 inches longer than the Star dog, was good. The bun was hard and lacked flavor though. The condiments were the best so far though - the pickles tasted homemade! The fans seemed to really be into the game and knew their baseball ... which was nice.... and it seemed pretty full for a weeknight. The visiting Pirates almost came back, down 5-3 in the ninth inning and Jason Bay hit a first pitch homerun off of Lidge to make it 5-4 before Lidge shut it down and closed it out. We were actually a little disappointed we didn't get the standard game - seeing Lidge shut them down and Dotel blow it - but oh well. Overall it was a good experience and we are looking forward to going again tonight. Last night we were 36 rows behind the 1st base dugout - though we made it to the 10th row during the 8th inning. Tonight we are in the first row of the second level, king of hanging above right field ... so maybe we will get lucky. Gotta run for now ... will write more later and try to post some photos! Be sure to drop us a note!

June 21
San Antonio, TX

Alright, thanks for some very helpful people on the Wayport Tech Support we got our Wi-Fi working in our room here at the St. Anthony Wyndham in San Antonio ... I have to say if you ever get down here this has to be the best hotel around! It's got great historic charm, it's beautiful, right in the heart of downtown by the River Walk, and the best part is we each have our own full bathroom in the room! :) So we drove ALL DAY today after going from Phoenix to Deming New Mexico last night ... and wanted to report on Phoenix, where in addition to the ballgame we got to see some family we have not seen in a LONG time! For starters, it was about 90 degrees when we woke up in Phoenix, and easily 105 at game time ... so of course the roof was closed and the AC was on ... from a baseball perspective, it puts a damper on things, but I guess it kept us from getting "damper" ourselves. We spent $15 on outfield seats ... the 15th row in left center field, which was actually only 5 rows back from the wall ... not a bad seat actually ... a nicely molded metal bleacher but comfortable nonetheless ... Unfortunately there was no batting practice as the Devil Rays and D-Backs had played a night game before and often in Phoenix they don't do any BP on a day game following a night game ... a little disappointing ... they could have at least come out and a played a little catch and interacted with the fans... The BOB (Bank One Ballpark) from the outside is nothing special, though it fits well with the Southwestern theme of the city. The inside with the roof closed feels a little like a large gym with a nice baseball field in the middle of it ... there were some nice features but overall the worst park of the 3 we visited so far. I'd love to see a game at night with the roof open to get the full experience. There were nice concourses, with several food choices, and a really nice souvenir shop that even included a clearance table ... we were able to pick up some really nice gifts for our wives, but we can't tell you what they are yet or we would ruin the surprise. Let's just say it was probably the only spot in the country you could them .... purple, silky .... and that's all we can say. The PA system was soft - at least we think there was a PA system but we don't know for sure as we could not hear anything .... makes for an interesting National Anthem and 7th inning stretch to say the least ... also makes it a little difficult to follow the game with substitutions and such. However, it was Father's Day and they were handing out small radios to all fathers - even Andrew took one - we won't draw his integrity into question ... the radios allowed us to listen to the broadcast of the game ... a nice touch, though unnecessary with even a mediocre sound system. We went to get some food in the 7th inning ... we had already enjoyed some of the frozen fare, including shaved ice and lemonade ... you can get everything frozen at the BOB it seems ... and with the temperatures it only makes sense ... although we didn't get our hotdogs that way. ... in fact, we barely got the dogs .... Apparently the cook left early (do you have to be a skilled cook to grill a hot dog?) - so they were out of everything except the Diamondback Dogs ... which we each sampled along with some garlic fries, which were a lot on the fry side and little on the garlic (and by little, we mean none - I mean I could get more of a garlic flavor kissing my Italian grandmother, and she's not even Italian!) ... the dogs were not bad ... though nowhere close to the flavor in LA or even San Diego ... the buns, however, were the best we had (our wives would tell you our buns are better, but hey, we don't want to brag) ... Parking was a great deal .... easy in and easy out and only $8.00 right across the street from the stadium ... a nice deal after walking our of the AC and into the wall of heat (I don't care what they say about it being a 'dry' heat ... 105 is 105 and it is hot!) ... in fact we were on the highway in less than 5 minutes after leaving the game. The ushers and staff were the most helpful we've seen ... smiling and friendly and helped make the whole thing enjoyable ... more than we can say for the baseball at the BOB ... the game offered little in the way of excitement, the 412 corners didn't help as they kept us from seeing several possible homers and catching a few souvenirs ... The fans in Phoenix seem to really enjoy their team. They came out in pretty large numbers for a father's day .. maybe they just all wanted to escape the heat and let the D-backs foot the AC bill ... but they did cheer and seemed to know who they were cheering for and why ... and most stayed until at least the 7th or 8th inning (of course coming from Cardinal country, even that seems like a Cardinal sin, especially in a 2-1 game against the hottest team in the majors). That should do it for now ... a good night's sleep in San Antonio before heading out to Houston tomorrow for the first of 2 games with the Pirates ... hopefully at least one with an open roof! If you watch, watch closely as we will be 36 rows behind the first base dugout on Tuesday - wearing bright yellow shirts ...

June 20
On the Road to San Antonio

Happy Father's Day! Okay, we finally have a little more time to post some information. Let's just say we haven't had a great deal of time to be on the computer ... and some tech. glitches might keep us from posting photos for awhile ... we'll just do the best we can. We have had a good chance to see some family - when we made it from San Diego to Phoenix yesterday, we took a little extra trip north to Prescott to see our grandma and grandpa Colloton ... grandpa is in a home with Alzheimer's - Andy saw them all at Thanksgiving, but Ben had not seen them since his wedding almost 7 years ago! We stayed with our cousin Leslie in Phoenix and then this morning had breakfast with Aunt Bobbie and Uncle Bill there ... hadn't seen them for about 12 or 13 years - and had never seen my cousin Nick until today - he's 16! We made it to Deming, NM today. Not much in this town of 15,000 except for about 100 hotels ... and we are at one of them. We'll get up early to start the long trek to San Antonio tomorrow -- our last stop before making it to Houston. So, we wanted to give you a little more complete run-down of where we have been and what we have done, especially as it concerns baseball. LOS ANGELES After spending the afternoon in Beverly Hills - eating at the Farm (which was excellent) and watching the people spend money they probably didn't really have, we made it to Chavez Ravine, home of Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles, baseball-speaking, has so far been the highlight of the trip, for several reasons. First, there are few stadiums left with the tradition and history of Dodger Stadium. We actually felt like we tasted part of that - in addition to tasting the Dodger Dogs, which so far are #1 on our Ballpark Dog list ... we were not sure they would live up the hype, but after the first 3, it is in a clear first place. LA also, thus far, has had the best fans. The ones who showed up seemed to really appreciate the game and were there to support their home team. There were several empty seats, but those that were filled were filled with fans cheering loudly, at the right moments, and erupting as Gagne ran onto the field. The game in LA included a couple of great baseball moments. Of course, they were even better as they included Beltre (on Ben's fantasy team) and Gagne (on Andrew's) ... in fact Ben called Beltre's homer just before he reached for a pitch and drove into the Dodger bullpen. Gagne, who prior to that night was sitting on 78 consecutive saves, has become a hero to LA and an icon to the game. He does things the right way -- the fans seem to appreciate it and the game needs it. There are few moments in this day of modern baseball that compare to standing a few feet above the bullpen and watching Gagne charge the field to the roars from the crowd and the almost certain fear from the opposing batters. We sat in the left field Pavilion, just 4 rows off the field, to watch the Dodgers win a 4-3 thriller over Baltimore. We were surrounded by children with high-pitched voices (a testament to the affordable tickets in a high-priced city), who during BP came to be known affectionately by us as the "say here" kids ... as each time a ball was hit ANYWHERE in the outfield they would yell the player's number and scream 'HERE!" ... of course the nice thing for them is that the Orioles actually interacted with them, talking, smiling, and throwing several balls to them (all of them, that is, except Ponson - but we won't talk too badly about him - his pitching speaks for itself)... All that for the price of a $6.00 ticket -- there probably are not too many better values around, especially in Major League Baseball. Petco Park and the BOB had a lot to offer, but what Dodger Staium lacked in amenities, it more than made up for in atmosphere. SAN DIEGO We drove back from LA to San Diego after the game, taking almost as long to get out of the parking lot as to drive the 100 or so miles between cities. After a short night of sleep (okay, Andrew's was a little longer) we spent the day in San Diego, eating at PF Chang's and picking up some last minute items for the trip. That evening we took the Trolley to downtown San Diego to visit the world's largest pet store... okay, actually the Padres' new stadium with what has to be the worst name ever assigned to a professional sports complex. The Blue Jays, from our neighbor to the north, were in town, and despite the overcast skies, the stadium was beautiful. We walked in and received a pretty nice beach towel before walking up the stairs, which ran next to a beautiful cascading waterfall. When we got inside the park, we took a quick trip to the outfield, where children were already playing pick-up ball on the small baseball diamond, where they would stay all night! We also saw several fans taking advantage of the $5.00 outfield "seats" which allowed them to lay on the grass and watch the game from the hill just beyond center-field. We then took our seats, just a few rows from the field in left-center field. The Blue Jays were not nearly as friendly during BP, but who knows, maybe that's a stadium rule - maybe they can't afford to have teams throw baseballs to the paying fans, since they have to pay for the waterfall that runs next to the stairway. The stadium really was beautiful and full of wonderful amenities. However, the fans in SD seem pretty fair-weather. Many showed up as late as the 6th or 7th inning, and an equal number left that early. They booed their own players, and the three wonderfully intoxicated fans behind us complained about management decision for a full 3 innings, when they were not yelling obscenities and talking to each other as if they were across the room from each other. Petco definitely has the strictest ushering system we've ever seen. As we sat in our seats during BP, a good hour or more before game time, the ushers walked around and checked EVERY ticket. Maybe a little overboard, especially when the fans were few and far between so early before the game. The game was not nearly as exciting, mostly because the Padres could not get the lead, thanks to a couple home-runs. Therefore we didn't get to see Hoffman enter in a save situation to Hells Bells, a new tradition in San Diego. The Pads lost 3-2. Wells did not have his best stuff, while Lilly through the game of his career (a one-hitter through 6). Tickets in SD were fairly steep, though our seats were pretty good. Though they were 3 times what we paid in LA (sure we had a plastic seat instead a wood bleacher, but not worth that much more). Friar Franks were actually pretty tasty - not a Dodger but better than the Diamonback Dogs. If you find yourself at Petco, pay the extra buck and get the Kosher Dog - actually pretty tasty, though nothing compared to our favorite Kosher's at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Overall, a pretty good experience at a beautiful facility. It just wasn't Dodger Stadium. PHOENIX ... up next

June 18
San Diego, CA

Okay, for starters, if anyone else sends messages proofreading my late night journal entries, it might be the end of them :-) Another late night after watching the Padres drop a close one to the Blue Jays ... we promise to write more tomorrow, but be sure to check out our photos on the photo page... Tomorrow we will be sure to share more about Dodger Stadium and Petco Park, and our experiences there ... including tonight's over-the-top ushers and the "leaving something to be desired" Padre fans ... let's just say the Friar Franks were better than the Fickle Fans ...

June 17 (okay, 18th)
San Diego, CA

Well, today was the start of our trip ... it's late, or I guess you could say early ... not much time to write as we need to get some sleep, but a quick update before we write more tomorrow ... had a fun day in LA and got to watch the Orioles vs. Dodgers at Dodger Stadium ... Beltre hit a homer to take the lead in the 8th and Gagne saved his 79th straight - what more can you ask for?! And of course, the Dodger Dogs were everything we had heard they were - wonderful! More to come tomorrow about today!

June 2
Normal, Illinois

We're getting ready for our trip! Everything is in place and it's approaching quickly. Be sure to stay tuned and follow along for stories, information, and hopefully some great photos too! Be sure to drop us a note as well...

April 8, 2004
Normal, IL

Just testing the Journal. This will allow us to post updates from anywhere on the trip that we can get Internet Access! Be sure to follow along with us! Ben ...