Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Second Home

After spending a disappointing (but enjoyable) night in the Mezz last night, I figured it was as good a time as any to post a piece that I did at the bequest of Yahoo’s Big League Stew as they run through descriptions of different ballparks throughout MLB and asked your humble host to provide his thoughts on the ballpark a the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.
As we go a little something like this…hit it:

Already in it’s 15th year of existence, Progressive Field (which has been known by the more familiar Jacobs Field and more familial “The Jake” prior to this season when the naming rights transferred from the former Indians’ owner Dick Jacobs and his family to Cleveland-based Progressive Insurance) has maintained the luster that it brought to downtown Cleveland those many moons ago when Manny and Jimmy were just a couple of kids batting 7th and 8th (seriously) in the Indians’ lineup.

Despite the relative age of the park (time flies when you’re having fun, I suppose), the structure at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario (Clevelanders are still wrestling with the proper term for the stadium with the name change…“The Prog”?) has held up very well and has been enhanced over the years with improvements to the park that have added to the allure of visiting, long after the consecutive sellout streak of 456 games in a row has passed.

Best Way to Get There?
Unlike many other stadiums, Progressive Field is easily accessible by car from all directions as it sits where the main arteries of NE Ohio (I-77, I-90, and I-71) converge downtown. This being the case, most fans make their way down via car and park in one of the lots surrounding the stadium. Parking prices vary from around $5 to $25 and will change depending upon the day of the game (higher on the weekends) and the opponent (always jacked up for games when the Boston and New York “fans” who grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland show up). I generally park at a lot between Bolivar and Prospect, just west of E. 9th street, that has two levels and offers a quick walk to the game or to local establishments prior to the game with the price varying from $7 to $20 (those high-end contests on the weekend are the games when the RTA Rapid becomes a better option if you have easy access to an RTA station as the train lets you off in Tower City, a 10-minute walk to the ballpark) and quick on-off access to the highways to get out of downtown after a game.

While the guide is a little over a year old, the boys at Mistake by the Lake Sporting Times did a comprehensive breakdown of parking lots in terms of cost and distance that is absurdly exhaustive. While some of the prices may be outdated, the guide provides a nice thumbnail sketch of where to hone in on a lot and where to avoid.

Progressive Field…er, The Jake…er, whatever – here are the specifics if you’re going:
Tickets Online or call 216-420-HITS

Seating Chart

Best Spots to Hit Before or After the Game
The area around Progressive Field (known as Gateway) is home to a number of nice restaurants and bars that are within walking distance to the ballpark, so figure on heading down early to hit up some hot spots in the general vicinity before making the trek over to enjoy some baseball.

If you’re looking to put down some adult beverages and grab some grub prior to making the trip into the game, the area just east of East 9th Street on Prospect is full of bars to whet your appetite for some baseball. Between The Clevelander and Panini’s, which share an outdoor patio on the sidewalk, and the Winking Lizard (if you’re more inclined to stay inside to sip some suds), there’s more than enough to entertain you before you head over to the game. If you do head to Panini’s, be sure to try out one of their famous overstuffed sandwiches, on par with (if not directly based on) the Primanti Bros. sandwiches in Pittsburgh.

If you’re more inclined to just fill up on a liquid dinner, Local Heroes is right across the street from the entrance of Jacobs Field and always provides a raucous atmosphere before and after ballgames as does the Thirsty Parrot, which is just across Bolivar from Progressive Field and boasts an outdoor deck that fills up quickly, particularly after weekend games.

Of course, I realize that not everyone heads to the game just to get their drink on, so be sure to check out the Bob Feller Statue at the East 9th Street entrance and marvel at the career numbers of Rapid Robert on the base of the statue, made more incredible that he didn’t pitch for three years (when he would have been 23, 24, and 25 years old) because he was serving his country in WWII.

If you head into the park prior to the game starting, head over to centerfield to check out Heritage Park, which recognizes those who excelled in a Tribe uniform (and, yes, there were some prior to the 1990’s, smart aleck) as well as housing a bronze plaque commemorating Ray Chapman, the only MLB player to pass away as a result of on-field action as he died after being hit in the head by a pitch in 1920.

On Sunday, the plaza between Progressive Field and The Q (where the Cleveland LeBrons play) is filled with all sorts of kid-related activities to entertain the youngsters to wear them out before the game starts so they’re not antsy and wanting to walk around the park while your stomach is in knots because Joe Borowski just came on to protect a one-run lead in the 9th with his 82-MPH fastball and beguiling mix of “veteran savvy” and “closer mentality”.

Best Concession Stand Item
What trip to a baseball game would be complete without the requisite Hot Dog? In Cleveland, that requisite Hot Dog comes only with a slathering of Stadium Mustard, a brown, spicy concoction that takes you back to the days of old Municipal Stadium, when the Hot Dog was actually the highlight of the game. Of course, there’s a distinction to make here as the Hot Dog one should buy is not the coney dog that is sold for $1 on Dollar Dog Night…oh no. Stadium Mustard should only grace the All Beef Hot Dog, preferably grilled at the Beers of the World stand in the lower concourse of Right Field, near the visitors’ bullpen. While at the BotW stand, you can sample some of the finest local microbrews from Great Lakes Brewing Company (Dortmunder Gold remains the “gold” standard).

If a Hot Dog doesn’t appeal to your sensibilities, The Market Pavilion in Center Field has a decent selection of different types of food, as well as butting up against the popular Batter’s Eye Bar, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Best Place to Sit
Speaking of the Batter’s Eye Bar in Center, the most economical way to watch a game is to buy a standing room only seat or the cheapest possible seat that is available in the upper deck and heading to the Batter’s Eye Bar (a full-service bar with plasma TV’s and good view of the game, if you get there early enough) or to the Home Run Porch in Left Field to try to catch a HR off the bat of Victor Martinez…assuming a HR actually figures to come off the bat of Vic the Stick at some point this year.

For the most bang for your buck, I’ll take the seats in the Mezzanine ($18 advanced, $20 gameday) in RF, or the Bleachers ($16 advanced, $18 gameday) in LF for unobstructed views in good seats at reasonable prices. If you end up in the bleachers, be sure to say hello to John Adams, who has been sitting at Indians’ games, banging the drum (literarally) for the Tribe since 1973.

If price is less of a factor, the Club Seats (which hang over the lower deck on the 1B side) offer a great view of the game as well as the ticket price ($110 per seat) including all food and non-alcohol related drinks throughout the game.

What’s So Great About It?
After years of trudging down to the lakefront to the dilapidated Municipal Stadium, I remember most Clevelanders’ reaction upon entering (what was then) Jacobs Field. It was a feeling of “are we still in Cleveland” as everything gleamed like new and shined brightly in a city not used to bright, shiny things. Even 15 years later, that luster has not dulled as the park remains a jewel of the city and the delightful experience of going to a baseball game in downtown Cleveland on a beautiful summer night still holds that special spot in my heart. At Progressive Field, visitors are right on top of the action, privy to the best sight angles I’ve seen at any stadium I’ve visited with the convenience of an easily accessible ballpark without the obscene prices that are found at many other MLB parks.

After attending Game 4 of the Cavaliers-Celtics playoff series, I remember exiting The Q with my ears bleeding from the noise and my synapses overloaded (from T-shirts flying at me and being commanded to clap and jeer…but only when instructed to do so) longing for my perch in the Mezzanine with a frosty beverage in my hand to watch some baseball where my thoughts are my own, the accompanying denizens of the park are like-minded baseball fans.

To me, there’s no better way to spend three hours of my day than watching my Tribe…and no better place to enjoy it than at the ballpark (whatever you want to call it) at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario in downtown Cleveland.

There you have it…everything from the recesses of my brain on the old ballpark.

Tribe tries to go for a series win tonight against the Twins with Victor’s elbow joining Victor’s hamstring, Hafner’s shoulder, Westbrook’s elbow, Fausto’s hip, Brodzoski (The Close)’s “tricep”, Barfield’s finger, and Senor Slo-Mo’s back (I hope) on the laundry list of what’s gone wrong in terms of Indians and their collective health.

18 comments:

rodells said...

Tigers sweep the Sox.

Now the Sox get Colorado and Pittsburgh on a homestand...that has potential to cure alot of things. Let's hope not.

But, it all comes back to us winning games too....are you gonna lose another series after taking the first game???!!!

rodells said...

And the beat goes on.

VMart and Barfield to the DL.

Say hello to Velandia and Haad.

Asdrubal stays in Buffalo (although I think there might be a rule not allowing him back up so soon).

Joshua Whitman said...

What the $%&^?????


Wedge says Martinez has been battling issues with his elbow all season?
How many of these "slumping" players are battling injuries?

Paul,

If I order my personalized Haad jersey, will it be here it time for Sunday's game?

csusi said...

Great read. But the gem of it all had to come in the words, “veteran savvy” and “closer mentality”. That for real brought about an out loud laughter so vocal that it startled one guy next to me in the office at work. Good work PC.

Im wanting this win so bad tonight.

Danny Glover/Christopher Lloyd and all you other Angels in the outfield, a little help please.

peter said...

Season over as of today.

csusi said...

WHAT!?!? Dude, dont say that. Are you referring to Victor. If so, as much as i love him, i cant say that he's contributed that much this year. We're ok. Dont talk like that man. Messing up the vibe we're trying to keep flowing. In the words of Conan O'Brien, "Stay cool my babies."

Steve said...

...Brodzoski (The Close)’s “tricep”...

Funny how we never get any specific details about that "tricep" like we would expect with most injuries.

It reminds me of when a guy takes one on the cup, grabs the damaged part(s), then the announcer solemnly tells you that "he appears to be holding his...hand..."

csusi said...

carroll at lead-off. grady in the 3rd slot.

make it happen somebody.

csusi said...

And how about ole wedge getting fired up in the 8th after marte got plunked.

Man, that game felt real real good.

To interleague we go.

Halifax said...

If anyone wants a warped perspective on the CC situation, go to the STO site where Paul's column commonly appears.

This guy is saying that the Tribe HAS to sign CC because he is irreplaceable (he's good, but he's not that) and that they should sign him for not five but SEVEN years! In his hallucinogenic mind this seven year contract will spread out the risk . . . oh, stupid me, I thought it would multiply it.

The recent Travis Hafner bust of a contract and Jake Westbrook's TJ surgery would seemingly have put the final nails in the coffin on anyone's thoughts of signing CC to a burgeoning deal. Carrying Hafner and Jake for two more years at between 20-25 million for little or no productivity (for only two players) would not be helped by CC blowing up his arm early in his deal that could leave you sitting on $100 MILLION of guaranteed money for the equivalent of Wayne Garland. If he goes down, he gets the cash and the Tribe has a worthless team for the rest of the decade. You cannot tie up between 40-50 million a year over the next three years on players that won't produce. It's too much of a risk.

Looking at the injuries and other negatives hitting this team like the waves on a beach I think the only avenue the Indians have is to pursue dealing CC to the Dodgers (go for Kemp/Broxton), Yankees (targeting Hughes), Red Sox and Cubs to at least get a starter or closer and a good young OF in return.

CC is a difference maker for a team in the hunt for a title, the WS title, not the Central Division title.

Les Savy Ferd said...

@steve

the announcers here in Chicago say: "Looks like he was hit in the soft under-belly".

also, 12-2 feels sooooooo good. you know what else sounds good? going 12-2 for the next coupla weeks.

go tribe!!!

Halifax said...

One other item on the CC trade front -- The New York Post (of course) says the Yankees have the most incentive to deal for CC because they are one game over .500 and seven out of first. For once, this actually makes sense as opposed to the normal Yankee culture of having the right of garnering every good small-medium market player around.

What the Indians cannot do with CC is deal him for quantity hoping to get lucky in the future. I would go straight up with someone like Joba Chamberlain and make him your closer for the next 7 years. The guy misses bats big time and the Indians have NOBODY to fill that role on the horizon. You at least have to get a Phil Hughes and one other GOOD player. Maybe the Yankees do it, maybe not.

I would guess this situation could be a little different than the Santana dealings because:

1) I heard speculation after the fact that scouts had predicted a decline for Santana in velocity and effectiveness,

2) The Santana dealings were more posturing on Boston's part because they didn't want him, but they didn't want the Yankees to have him either, at least not without deeply cutting into their future.

This is different because the Yankees have an old staff, some injuries and are back in the standings (7 games). CC would give them a boost and possibly push them into the mix and over the top when they are healthy again. Add the fact that Steinbrenner wasn't too ecstatic about missing out on Santana while his Grandpas & the Kiddie Core pitching staff experiment struggles through the first half and you have a a somewhat desperate situation in New York

For the Red Sox it's different because they want to keep the Yankees down, and also there's another team to consider in the Rays, who are probably not being taken seriously right now but Boston will have a wary eye on TB if they refuse to fade by the deadline.

Throw in the Cubs who want him pretty badly and the Dodgers who could actually extend him and there could be an interesting bidding war in the near future.

rodells said...

It would be interesting to hear the Yanks offer something along the lines of Hughes and Tabata for CC. Wonder if the Yanks would even consider something like that.

Cy Slapnicka said...

i'm gonna go out on a limb here and say you've all lost your minds.

Peter: Season over as of today.
Brian: Do you listen to yourself when you talk?
Peter: I drift in and out.

seriosuly, why is the season over b/c we lost a weak hitting vic until august? oh no, we lost his singles until august. um, i'm pretty confident this is going to help us.

why are we still talking about trading cc on june 13th when we are 6.5 games out and the white sox just got swept? so you can all bitch about how we shoulda got more, or how the season is over, or how we can never keep a big name player? or how this is cleveland and we should expect this? why not see how things play out over the next few weeks, which include a series against the sox?

i think something that everyone is starting to forget, we likely won't get a whole lot for cc. IF we trade him, he's a 3-4 month rental going to team in the race that is going to likely be unwilling to trade any currently contributing assets b/c they will need them for their stretch run. even AAA depth in the minors, they'd probably want that injury protection. i mean, seriously, are we all retarded? would you trade a paid off toyota highlander hybrid right now to drive a ferrari or escalade for a week? that is the equivalent of trading hughes for cc. a jackass makes that trade. and if anyone offers it up, i trade cc yesterday. but its not happening.

and i think the past 10 years or so proved that making the postseason gives you a damn good shot to win it all. nobody cares that you were considered a championship team in June.

now lets all settle down and watch some baseball.

Halifax said...

"we likely won't get a whole lot for cc. IF we trade him, he's a 3-4 month rental going to team in the race that is going to likely be unwilling to trade any currently contributing assets b/c they will need them for their stretch run."

I guess we'll see ...

and as for the rest? We'll find that out too I suppose.

rodells said...

"so you can all bitch about how we shoulda got more, or how the season is over, or how we can never keep a big name player? or how this is cleveland and we should expect this? why not see how things play out over the next few weeks, which include a series against the sox?"

"i think something that everyone is starting to forget, we likely won't get a whole lot for cc. IF we trade him, he's a 3-4 month rental going to team in the race that is going to likely be unwilling to trade any currently contributing assets b/c they will need them for their stretch run. even AAA depth in the minors, they'd probably want that injury protection. i mean, seriously, are we all retarded? would you trade a paid off toyota highlander hybrid right now to drive a ferrari or escalade for a week? that is the equivalent of trading hughes for cc. a jackass makes that trade. and if anyone offers it up, i trade cc yesterday. but its not happening."



Settle down, Slappy.

NOBODY IS THROWING ANYTHING IN (well, maybe Halifax) AND NOBODY IS SAYING DEAL THE BIG MAN NOW. Even Halifax mentioned "in the future".

If you don't want to talk about it, then by all means don't....and don't cuss people who do and then inject your opinions about the very subject you find appalling. Better yet, maybe post each morning what everyone is allowed to post about and we'll stick within your guidelines. Does that work?

Joshua Whitman said...

I hope there is as much passion in the Tribe clubhouse as there is in this forum.

rodells said...

Well, according to the Byrd Man just today, they've had some meetings lately to try and get to that team "feel" that they had last year.

For example, he said when we don't get a run in from 3rd w/ less than two outs, the dugout is like a morgue (sp?).

He said they gotta get loose. Have fun again. Play like you have nothing to lose.

Hopefully whatever they are doing accounts for 12 runs again.