Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"The Bludgeon of Beef"

Back from my final road trip of the season broadcasting for the Seattle Mariners. Cleveland, Minnesota, and Texas. Other than snow, I don’t think there’s a climate I missed.

Drew Carey says “Cleveland Rocks”, but from what I’ve seen this year, “Cleveland Drains”. This was my second trip. It rained the entire weekend I was there in May. Two of our three games were rained out. So we returned to make up a game and it rained harder.

There were more people on the grounds crew than in the stands. I heard a phone ring and said on the air, “it’s the guy in the bleachers”. However, I did get to call a Mariner nine-run inning capped off with a grand slam. Even some of the grounds crew left after that.

To be fair, when the Mariners were in Cleveland in August (minus me) it did not rain. They just had an earthquake.

We won then flew on to Minneapolis just missing the monsoon, volcano eruption, and falling meteor. Get a dome!

Minnesota is the home of the Hamm’s Bear, Bob Dylan, the former-artist formerly-known-as Prince, wrestler/governor Jesse Ventura, and comedian/senator, Al Franken.

Our hotel in Minneapolis was the tres chic W in the Foshay Tower. This is a great old art deco structure, once the tallest building in Minneapolis. Stately and classic. But the W now goes for a different vibe. High-end gentleman’s club. Everything is dark with pink and purple florescent lighting. I just instinctively went to the front desk and asked for a stack of ones.

My room was somewhat small but certainly large enough for a lap dance. There was, however, one great feature: Martini glasses and a cocktail shaker. Finally! An amenity I could use!

Items in the honor bar included cashews, cookies, and an intimacy kit. Not sure what’s in that but I assume a condom and WD-40.

There actually are a number of gentleman’s clubs in downtown Minneapolis. Diablo Cody was a nude dancer in several of them. So if you’re looking for a great screenwriter in Minnesota that’s where they work. Stop by the W for ones.

Made myself a martini then headed downstairs to Manny’s Steakhouse where I joined our producer/engineer Kevin Cremin for a delightful Bludgeon of Beef. That’s what they call it – a 50-ounce bone-in ribeye. Billed as half meal/half weapon. Picture a cow on Paul Bunyan’s ax. It was exceptional!  For the record, we split it. We didn’t each order our own. I mean, it was 10:00 at night. You don’t want to really fill up that late. 25 ounces just hit the spot!

For some reason, couldn’t get to sleep. Thank God for the martinis. Passed out around 4:00. Woke up late. Had another martini then headed to the ballpark.

Strip joints aside, downtown Minneapolis has really been built up over the last twenty years. And one terrific feature they have is a skyway system that allows you to pretty much walk from any building to any other building. You could easily stroll from our hotel to Target Field… although one wrong turn and you end up in Bismark, North Dakota.

Did not pay my respects to the Mary Tyler Moore statue this go-round, but a few kindly pigeons did that for me.

The summers are hot and the winters are brutal but Minnesota is a great place to raise a family and residents just consider the severe climate a “Quality of Living Tax”.

Target Field, the new home of the Minnesota Twins, is awesome. And I don’t mean that in the “I just got a Wii from my parents” or “BevMo now delivers” sense. I mean in the “so impressive or overwhelming as to inspire a strong feeling of admiration” sense. Target Field is an absolute showpiece! The combination of limestone, steel, and glass makes for an aesthetically eye-popping design. They did everything right – from the statues of Twins greats like Harmon Killebrew and Kirby Puckett, to the clean wide concourses, to the Bloody Mary stand that was right outside our booth.

One strange feature though: the press elevator. It goes to three floors. -2, 0, 2. Why a –2 … unless they’re just so used to sub-zero readings.

Woke up the next morning, fixed myself a cocktail, then went to Keys Bar & Grill for a hearty breakfast. I can’t believe these portions. Every place you go is the Hungry Heifer.

The Mighty M’s took two of the three games (so the Twins were –2) then headed to Dallas. Navigation is a breeze! Once you take off from Minneapolis and are in the air for three minutes you can already see Cowboy Stadium a thousand miles away. That is the Bludgeon of Beef of sports venues.

There’s a delightful tradition in Major League Baseball. During one flight on the last road trip all of the rookies have to dress up. Usually that means five or six players. The Mariners had fifteen. It looked like the road company of LA CAGE AUX FOLLES. One by one they paraded, in frilly dresses, superhero costumes, Spandex, ridiculous hats, frog suits and clown attire. Where they got these get-ups I do not know. I’m guessing someone just broke into RuPaul’s closet. A good time was had by all… except them.   (Sorry kids, no pictures.)

In Minneapolis it was 50. We landed in Dallas at night and it was a glorious 90. Again stayed at the fabulous Four Seasons Los Colinas. My room in the W could fit in my bathroom at the Four Seasons. But no martini glasses and cocktail shaker. What is this, camping?!

Passed the American Airlines museum on the way to the ballpark. Did not stop in but from what I understand, they have some rare artifacts on display like free blankets, legroom, and hot meal serving carts for coach.

How’d things go for the team over the weekend? Here’s all you need to know: On Saturday, my fellow broadcasters and I were driving to the park and noticed a bunch of guys standing around on a street corner. As we got closer we began to recognize them. They were the Seattle Mariners. Their van had broken down. So there they were, basically making a personal appearance at a Shell gas station on North MacArthur Blvd. in Irving, Texas. The only thing worse would have been if the bus had broken down while half the players were still in drag.

As for the games themselves – I guess “Texas Hospitality” means they let you get out of the state without hanging you.

Went to a great place for dinner Saturday night with Rangers’ broadcaster Eric Nadel and his wife. I have no idea where it is. Everything in Dallas takes a half hour to get to and you drive on six highways and pass five Chuck E. Cheese’s. This place is called NeighborHood Service. Good luck finding it. There’s no sign. Just the letters NHS on the front door. But you open that door and the place is packed. I assume just with locals, although no one wore spurs so I couldn’t be sure. But the food was spectacular, and they have the best burger in Big D. I believe for your convenience they have several hidden locations.

Said goodbye to the team on Sunday.  That was very emotional.  Many of the guys promised to write this winter from Venezuela. Flew back home to Los Angeles with nothing but warm memories, a cold, and a cholesterol level of 400. What a week! What a year! What a steak!

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Tracy G said...

What a fun read! We Minnesotans love to hear nice things about our state and this was wonderful, thank you :)

Richard Y said...

A baseball related Friday question. Why do games traditionally start at 5 minutes after the hour?

Chip Buck said...

M's win last night's game in 2 hrs. 13 min. They should have been rushing all season.

Nothing could be finer - AL season concludes with those hapless Orioles taking out the extra-hapless Dead Sox! John Goodman's having a quiet laugh over this development.

Braves following the Red Sox lead, lose again but St. Louis can't beat Houston? A funny game, ain't it?

Jim said...

You didn't pay homage to Mary Tyler Moore, the woman with the killer legs? Shame.

Anonymous said...

Richard Y, that's easy. It's for TV broadcasts so the broadcast can begin at the top of the hour, allow time for introductions and a commercial before the game begins. Some teams start their games at ten minutes after the hour for the same reason.

mike said...

Yeah, they did everything right re Corporate Welfare Park, including soaking the taxpayers so that billionaire team owners can have a little bit more.

Anonymous said...

The only team St. Louis seems to be able to beat right now is themselves. Soooo frustrating to be a Cardinals fan.

Pam aka SisterZip

Nancy said...

"I think we're gonna need a larger plate."

That fork looks like a dolly utensil next to the steak.

The Curmudgeon said...

The Twins' new stadium looks beautiful on TV and all, but I can't help but wonder why the heck they didn't go for a stadium like the Brewers have -- natural grass and a roof. Hey, if there is a nice day in April, you can always open the roof, right?

YEKIMI said...

Well, for the first time in 29 years I made it to an Indians game, they lost, same result as the first game I ever saw. I was laying in bed when that damn quake hit, I thought my house was coming down. The only damage that resulted was to my underwear and bedsheets. Seeing as how I live on a fault line that they discovered about 25 years ago and runs up into Canada, I figured it had finally let loose. I was amazed when I hopped online and found it was 2 states away. On the other hand, my youngest brother was only 27 miles from the epicenter, I think he wrecked his entire wardrobe.

Breadbaker said...

Hey, TheCurmudgeon: quite a novel idea the Brewers had, a natural grass stadium with a retractable roof. Too bad no other team thought of that first. Oh, right, the one Ken works for.

Wallis Lane said...

The intimacy kit in the honor bar will prevent you from catching honorrhea.

scottmc said...

Last year you made predictions regarding the various baseball awards. Will you do that again for this season, and will the Dodgers have both the Cy Young winner and the MVP?

VP81955 said...

The Nationals' "rookie dress up" this year had a Smurfs theme (must have been fun to see the blue bunch board the train for NYC at Union Station), and they've subsequently won 12 of their next 15 games to clinch third place in the NL East (the highest finish for the Nats since the team moved to D.C. from Montreal). In 2012, watch out, Gargamel, er, Philly.

SkippyMom said...

Too much fun! I love reading about your baseball exploits and now I am sad the season is over. :(

Can you go announce football please? [I'm kidding].

Have a nice winter off.

J Lee said...

Ought to be fun at Rangers Stadium this Sunday if Major League Baseball sets up a home game for Texas (they're still battling Detroit for the No. 2 seed behind the Yankees going into Game 162 tonight). Since the Cowboys host the "They're really 3-0?" Detroit Lions at Noon on Sunday, and since the Jerrydome's parking situation only works because they can utilize the adjacent parking areas of the Rangers' stadium (Lot A is actually closer to Jones' stadium than half the regular Cowboys lots), the words "six-hour gridlock nightmare" come to mind. Mix in alcohol, tailgate parties and Texas' concealed carry laws, and a good time will be had by all.

Graham Powell said...

I made it to Sunday's game in Texas and (as I'm sure you know, Ken) the ball was just flying. Four homers for the home team and two or three more for the visitors.

Plus a sacrifice fly with a four base error. How often do you see one of those?

Also, we have a couple of exchange students in from Japan - both girls - and I think they're finally waking up from swooning over Ichiro.

bevo said...

"Bludgeon of Beef" - Most finer steakhouses in Texas serve a similar cut. Just look for it under the appetizers.

Other artifacts from the American Airlines museum a flight that left DFW on time and a 1978 income statement showing the company's last reported operating profit.

"Again stayed at the fabulous Four Seasons Los Colinas... But no martini glasses and cocktail shaker. What is this, camping?! " The Four Seasons has really gone down hill since they no longer offer his and her handguns on the pillows.

Glad you enjoyed your visit to Big D.

Ed D. said...

NHS is on West Lovers, in Dallas, if you're ever looking for it again.


Bob Oscar said...

The Bludgeon Of Beef looks more like about 20 ounces of ribeye (plus bone)...