Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Mets Game at the New Citi Field

Keith Edwards invited me to attend a New York Mets game with him at Citi Field, the Mets brand new stadium, on May 9th. I GLADLY accepted.

Keith's uncle had 4 tickets for the Mets game, and Keith returns the favor later in the season with 4 tickets to a Phillies game. I picked Keith up at his house about 8:45 AM, and we made the 30 minute drive over to Hamilton, NJ to catch the New Jersey transit to NYC. It is about an hour and 15 minute train ride to Penn Station, and a round trip ticket is about $21. It certainly beats driving in NYC traffic, and there is $10 or so in tolls, if you drive. NJ Transit is definitely the way to go.

We ate lunch at a pizza shop in Penn Station and then caught the Long Island Railroad over to Flushing Meadows - Queens, where the Mets Stadium is located. You could also take the subway, but it is much longer with many stops and one train switch. The Long Island Railroad is a direct shot, and the Mets Stadium is the second stop. On our train ride over, we marveled at all of the parking on top of retail stores. To save space in New York City, you actually park on top of the Best Buy or Home Depot where you shop, instead of having an adjacent parking lot. Necessity is the mother of invention, and with limited space in NYC, roof parking lots are a great innovation.

Citi Field is a very nice stadium, with a beautiful brick facade. The seating is a great improvement over the old Shea Stadium (which has already been torn down by the way). Shea had many obstructed view seats, where you had to judge the location of a fly ball based on where the fielder was moving because the seating deck above you did not allow you to actually see it. Citi Field is a much better design.

When you enter Citi Field, you come through the gallery pictured here. Escalators whisk fans away to the higher levels. It is pretty efficient. The human traffic entering and leaving was remarkably manageable for a pro baseball game. Even the trains weren't jammed full, as they were running extra trains for the game. Like all of the newer MLB baseball stadiums, Citi Field has excellent concession stands. Burgers, Nathan's Hot Dogs, pizza, chicken, you name it; this stadium has it.

This was like no other day at Shea Stadium. I can't believe that we did not have to pay extra for this, but Sebastian Bach, lead singer of 1980's hair band, Skid Row, sang four songs prior to warm-ups. He covered two Queen songs and then closed with "18 and Life" and my favorite - "I'll Remember You" (Craig, if you are reading this, I can't hear that song and not picture Ron Dyer lip-syncing with choreography). I am pleased to report that Sebastian appears to be getting along well, and he still executes the high pitch screams in the chorus for which he is known. I have provided a small video clip, with audio, for everyone's enjoyment below.

BabaBooey, Executive Producer of the Howard Stern Show, threw out the first pitch for the game. Honestly, it was the worst first pitch I have ever seen. The umpire, who was not paying attention, was struck by the offering about 15 feet outside of the right handed batter's box. Luckily, he was not injured as the pitch never broke the 45 mph threshhold. I hear Stern deservingly abused him for the next two weeks. It was bad. He was there for a good cause though - bringing awareness for children with autism.

After the game, we went to meet Keith's sister, Christina (and her husband J.R.) for dinner. They were in Manhattan for a wedding that same weekend. On the way to dinner, I took this picture of the Empire State Building.

We also passed Madison Square Garden, which is located directly above Penn Station. It was the first time I actually walked outside at Penn Station to see it.

BUSTED!!! He didn't actually go in... I swear.

We ate at a restaurant called FATS - Fat Ann's Truck Stop. The food was actually pretty good. They had biscuits and gravy as an appetizer (and keeping with my blogging tradition, I took a picture of my food). I could not resist ordering biscuits and gravy in Manhattan. They weren't bad, but they don't compare to my grandmother's. This is more proof that you can find anything in Manhattan.

Special thanks to Keith for making this day possible. I certainly did not think I would get to see either of the new NY stadiums in their inaugural seasons. It was awesome!

REFLECTIONS - Abby and Wendell The Cat

Keith has a full house - Keith, his wife Meg, almost 4 year old twin daughters Kate and Abby, baby Olivia and Wendell the Cat live in their house in Flourtown. The video below was taken at Keith's and Meg's Kentucky Derby Party. Abby, one of the twins is holding Wendell the Cat and telling me all about him. Unfortunately, you cannot make out everything she says because of the adults talking behind her in the kitchen. I try to repeat it all, especially her last comment. She is so funny!!!

My favorite part of the video is how Abby sways back and forth with Wendell. She carries him around the house like he is a barbell sometimes. If you look at Wendell, he appears pretty relaxed. According to Keith, noone else in the house can get away with carrying him or swinging him around like this. He runs from Keith and Kate, Abby's twin. For some reason, he likes Abby.

Perhaps the best part of this story is how Wendell got his name. Wendell has actually been a part of the Edwards family longer than Kate, Abby and Olivia. You see, Wendell the Cat is actually named for Relief Pitcher, Turk Wendell (once again, Keith's love of the Mets showing through). Turk Wendell is known more for his superstitions than he is his record as a closer. He chewed three pieces of licorice every inning and forced the umpire to roll the ball to him at the mound rather than throw it to him to begin an inning. He would also wave at his CF and wait for him to wave back before beginning an inning. My favorite - he wore a necklace of animal claws, horns, etc that were trophies from game that he had killed while hunting. Wendell the cat is a much calmer and more conventional namesake.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Cooper River Bridge Run... And Fall

Rachel and I flew to Charleston for the Cooper River Bridge Run the first weekend in April. We stayed with our good friends Lindsey and Chris (Shaggy) Hamil in Summerville, just outside of Charleston. Mark Clark came down and joined us for the race and the weekend.

Rachel and I flew in late Thursday night. We actually were delayed flying out of Philadelphia due to thunderstorms in the southeast and didn't arrive in Charleston until 2 AM (thanks Shaggy and Lindsey for picking us up so late). Friday morning, Shaggy and I took Libby, his Labrador Retriever, for a walk around the neighborhood. Libby is a fully trained hunting dog. The highlight of the walk was when Shaggy ordered her to chase a duck that had just come out of the pond. He called her off just before she jumped into the pond to go after the duck, which had quickly retreated into the water.

Early April is a great time to be in Charleston. The flowers were in full bloom, and the highs were in the mid 70's. Charleston is one of Rachel's and my favorite places to visit, but it gets extremely hot beginning in early June (sometimes earlier).

After eating lunch at Sticky Fingers, Shaggy took me and Clark to the Ice House for his weekly Friday afternoon dart game. Rachel and Lindsey went for pedicures and then joined us later (great shot of Rachel and Clark).
Lindsey and her friend Mike, who is also a regular at the weekly dart game.
Shaggy, with The IceHouse in the background. According to Mike and Shaggy, this is "the last true bar in Charleston". I must admit that it was an interesting mix of old and young, blue collar and white collar and tatooed and untatooed.
Rachel, Lindsey and a couple of the girls who are regulars at the dart game. Lindsey works with the girl on the left (if I were more timely with my blogs, I would have remembered her name).

Shaggy and Lindsey dropped Rachel, Clark and I off in Mount Pleasant early Saturday morning for the Cooper River Bridge Run. It is a very popular 10K that starts in Mount Pleasant (2 miles), goes over the Cooper River Bridge (2 miles) and ends in historic Charleston (2 miles). This year, 33,000 people completed the race. It was crowded. This is a picture of me, Rach, and Clark about 40 minutes after the race (actually about 40 minutes after Clark finished, 35 minutes after Rachel finished, and 33 minutes after I finished). More on the details of the race in "Reflections".

After the race, we went back to Shaggy's and Lindsey's, cleaned up, and then headed into Charleston for the afternoon and evening. Our reward for running 6.2 miles that morning was afternoon desert at Kaminsky's. Friends, if you ever visit Charleston... please remember one thing - Go to Kaminsky's. It is a little desert restaurant located on Market Street, near the Hilton. No menu is necessary, as the homemade deserts are housed in a display case as you enter. Stop in for a desert and coffee sometime when you are in Charleston. You can call and thank me then, or after you get home.

After desert, the girls went shopping on King Street, while Shaggy, Clark and I headed to the Blind Tiger. On our way, we passed by Broad Street and "The Four Corners of Law", which is one of my favorite intersections in Charleston (Rachel and I actually had some of our wedding pictures taken here). On one corner sits the old Charleston City Hall; on another corner sits the Charleston County Courthouse; another corner has the Federal Court House; and the final corner houses St. Michael's Church and the ultimate law - God's law.

Charleston is a city that boasts some wonderful sights. It is also a city that is extremely proud of its long history. If you ever visit, I also advise that you take a history tour. The history still ranks second behind Kaminsky's.

These are pictures of some of the church steeples in Charleston. None of the steeples have church bells, as they were melted down for cannon balls during the Civil War (or "War of Northern Aggression" as it is known in Charleston). In the 1950's the United States Congress attempted to appropriate funds for new bells for all the church steeples. However, the city refused the money in order to honor its fallen sons.

The Four Corners of Law at dusk

The Blind Tiger is a really cool outdoor bar in Charleston. You actually walk through a traditional bar and into the back, which has a large outdoor courtyard.

Shaggy and Clark at the Blind Tiger.

Me and Rachel in the swing at the Blind Tiger.

The one proud purchase from the girl's King Street shopping spree was an "Oragami". No, I am not talking about a folded paper animal...these are a single clothing accessory that can be folded into 12 different outfits. I must admit that I have been pretty impressed (Rachel is actually wearing the Oragami in the title shot of my last blog - The Easter Photo). We thought about sending one to Michelle Obama, because it would be perfect for a woman on the go, who needs lots of different outfits to impress the media. She could run into the bathroom with her oragami and come out with an entirely new outfit. Amazing!!!

For supper, we went for seafood at AW Shucks. After dinner, we went to Tommy Condon's Irish Pub, another one of my favorite Charleston hang-outs. Unfortunately, it was already packed by the time we arrived, so we were unable to get seats inside to listen to the Irish band. The race effects finally caught up with us, and we headed back to Shaggy's and Lindsey's about 10 PM.

Sunday, we had a low-key day. After Bojangles biscuits, Mark headed back to Knoxville. Chris, Lindsey, Rachel and I went to the Summerville Art Festival and walked around for a couple of hours. That evening, we ordered pizza and watched a movie. We hope to make it back down to visit Chris and Lindsey again in September.


Why would Steve have bandages on his hands, you might ask. During his 6.2 mile struggle, he ate pavement. I don't often refer to myself in third person, but I am still trying to get over the resulting mental trauma.

I will be remembered as the Curt Schilling of the 2009 Cooper River Bridge Run. Like a true champion, I overcame my injury to finish the race, and like Curt Schilling, I did it - bloody sock and all. Unlike Curt Schilling, the remainder of my stats (like race time) were not at all impressive.

I wish I could tell you a cool story about how it happened, like how I was running at the front of the pack and got tangled up with the lead pack of runners. Or how, exhausted, I tripped at mile 6 trying to finish the race at under a 5 minute mile pace. Unfortunately, all of that is untrue. The fact is, I tripped over my own two feet at 0.5 miles. I WASN'T EVEN TIRED YET!!! Luckily, the Love of my Life immediately created a human barricade to prevent me from being trampled by other runners. To her I owe my life.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

We were invited to Flourtown Country Club for brunch by Keith (far left holding Olivia in above picture) and Meg (vertically challenged female in middle with 2 adorable girls - Kate and Abby - in front of her) Edwards on Easter Sunday. Rob, Vanessa, Jack and Emma Jeter (family between Keith and Meg), and Tim and Nicole Callahan (far right) completed the group.

Flourtown Country Club is an older, historic country club, located about 20 minutes from our house. The building is a cool, stone building. The brunch was awesome - LOTS of great food. They also had an Easter Bunny there, playing with the kids (Tim and Keith felt that the Easter Bunny's makeup was psychotic looking, but the kids did not seem to mind).

Rachel and I on the pack porch, in front of the golf course. As you can probably tell, it was still cold and windy in Philly at Easter.

Shot of the golf course from the porch.

Thanks Keith and Meg for inviting us to Easter Brunch. Being several hundred miles away from family is tough during the holidays, but spending it with friends makes it a lot easier.

REFLECTIONS - Eye on America

Click on the link below for some great information on building energy efficiency. Trust me, it is worth the watch for a few minutes (don't I recognize one of those guys?).

Unfortunately, you will have to cut and paste the link into your Address bar, as I could not get the link function to work in blogspot.

Please note - If you read this blog and work on the 7th Floor of Home Office, don't waste your time entering the link below, as you have been subjected to this video enough over the past 2 months, as you have gotten off and onto the elevator.