Wednesday, May 23, 2012

By the time I get to Boston, Cleveland, and Denver

This is part two of my five-city travelogue broadcasting for the Seattle Mariners.  Part one (Seattle and New York) was yesterday.  

Went to Boston by train. Our ace pitcher, Felix Hernandez sounded the horn. He was very excited. They don’t let him do that on planes. This was more of a commuter train. I thought I saw Don Draper get on at New Haven. But it was fun to look out the window and gaze at the magnificent scenery. I never realized how dark this country is at night.

We were in Boston for two days. This trip was like the Newt Gingrich whistle-stop tour on Super Tuesday. Found a great diner for breakfast. Charlie’s. Try the cranberry pancakes. You’ll notice a bathroom sink in the corner of the dining room. Don’t know why but at least it’s not a urinal.

Stayed in town just long enough to lose two games to the Red Sox. The British had better luck in Boston than we did. The Bosox now had something like 74,286 consecutive sellouts at Fenway Park, but for our series many of those fans must’ve come dressed as seats. Especially the second game, which was played in a light steady rain.

Yet for sheer ambiance there’s no better ballpark in the world than Fenway Park. I love when the half-empty… I mean sellout crowd sings “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond in the 8th inning. What says baseball more than an ode to feeling-up Caroline Kennedy? Has anyone ever actually listened to those lyrics?

On to Cleveland and the Indians.

The big news there was the opening of a casino downtown. No, it wasn’t an “Indian” casino. It was the Horseshoe Casino and it debuted the day before we arrived. How starved is this city for entertainment? People stood in a long three-hour line in the freezing cold just for the privilege of losing their money.

It was “Puppy Palooza” night at Progressive Field for the first Mariners-Indians game. There were 500 dogs in the crowd. Little tykes were fighting angry German-Shepherds for foul balls.

Game two was a noon affair, or 9:00 AM back in Seattle. I thanked our listeners for setting their alarms for Mariners baseball. There were more people in line for the casino than at the ballgame. More dogs too.

We lost to the Sons of the Wigwam in ugly fashion then winged on to Colorado. I fully expected to see Phil Keoghan from THE AMAZING RACE waiting at our hotel to tell us we were eliminated.

Here’s the difference between Seattle and Denver: Mariners games are sponsored by the Washington State Dental Service; a Rockies’ sponsor is Green Mountain Guns.

Wandered over to the 16th Street Mall, a picturesque tree-lined outdoor mall featuring every franchise restaurant and shoe store in America short of Arby’s (which is both). It was a lovely warm night, folks were dining at outdoor cafes and in one block I encountered two guys beating the living crap out of each other. One spectator thought they were street performers. Bystanders were trying to separate the two brawlers and this girl tossed in a quarter. And this was six hours after there had been a shooting on the mall. Yeah, I guess you’re not going to get too much protection from the Washington State Dental Service when you hit the mean malls of Denver.

This may be the only town in America where there are more medical marijuana clinics than Starbucks. And they all have appropriate health-industry names like “Cannabis Street.”

The Rockies game the day before our arrival was halted by a swarm of bees. This is the second time this year that the Rox have encountered this problem. In spring training in Scottsdale, their game was invaded by bees and ingeniously the ground crew got rid of them by smearing cotton candy and lemonade on a cart. This attracted all the bees. My broadcast partner, Rick Rizzs said, “Who did they get to drive the cart?” Excellent question. And I thought the clean-up crew in Cleveland after “Puppy Palooza” had it rough!

Friday it was 85 and clear. Saturday it was 45 and snowed an hour away. But that’s Denver in the spring… and summer… and fall… and winter.

The Mighty M’s swept all three games! Our young catcher, Jesus Montero hit a mammoth home run. They put baseballs in a humidor now at Coors Field to keep them from flying out at alarming rates in the thin atmosphere, but I said on the air you could put that ball in the humidor, you could dip it in caramel, bake it at 450 for three hours and it would still leave the yard. What a bolt!

The Mariners headed home and I returned to Los Angeles, flying the crowded skies of United. What a culture shock to the go from the luxury of a charter flight to the cattle-train scene from DR. ZHIVAGO.

Thanks to the Mariners, 710 KIRO, my broadcast partners Rico, Kev, Blow, Big Sims, Big Ticket, Mark, and Shannon, and all the listeners who didn’t turn off the radio the moment I came on. I had great fun but it’s good to be home. Now what am I gonna do with all these hats?

For more travelogues -- and who wouldn't want more? -- check out my book, WHERE THE HELL AM I?  TRIPS I HAVE SURVIVED.   Only $2.99 on Kindle.  Soon I'll have my new book to plug and won't have time to plug this one.  So buy now! 


Unknown said...

Will you be on the road with the Mariners when they come through to Chicago?


Dave said...

Hey, my brother was at that rainy game in Boston. The a capella group he directs sang the national anthem, but more importantly, it was his six-yer-old son's first game.

The highlight for my nephew was the bouncer at a bar on Landsdowne givin him a ball that Big Papi had hit out of the park in BP. So now he knows not to bother with buying tickets, just hit the bars.

Glad you had a safe trip, but watch out for those bees!

Cheryl Marks said...

Ken - You are a gift to M's fans. Hope you're back on the air soon.

JT Anthony said...

'I never realized how dark this country is at night' reminded me of the postcards with a black front cover with the caption, "Seattle at night." (Plug in your own city) And the extra nice touch is when the captions are in a fancy font.

At least the little tykes weren't trying to lick the German Shepards' balls...can you imagine how angry they would be if that were to happen?

Breadbaker said...

Ken, I was a the first game back, Felix vs. Yu Darvish. Nice crowd for a rainy Monday. With Saunders on first, Ichiro hit a screamer directly up the first base line that got caught under the little overhand past the ball girl for an RBI triple. Teaching Darvish that you have to respect your elders on the Japanese national team. Next time up, Ichiro hit a single up the middle that led to an RBI but Josh Hamilton threw into the dugout for another run and Ichiro ended up on third again. Teaching Hamilton that you have to respect your elders in the MVP club.

Chuck Warn said...

Thanks Ken for sharing your eye view of an experience all of us Walter Mitty (or in my case Ernie Harwell) baseball lovers can only live via the internet. Go Tigers! (Verlander has one of those 9am (LA time) starts in Cleveland tomorrow. I realized JV is spoiling us when he walked a guy in the first inning last start and I sagged at the loss of the perfect game and sweet entry from Kate Upton. Maybe tomorrow.

Becca said...

This has nothing to do with your post today, but I just heard your voice for the first time (the airchecks on that blog you referenced awhile ago) and...WOW. Not at all what I expected. As I'm sure you realize, you do not have a typical "radio" voice (fitting, since you also don't have a "face for radio"...yes, that's a compliment), but you were (and are) hella funny. "If you were supposed to pick her up at 7:00, you're two minutes late, Bozo!" Those airchecks were less than a year from the time you and David became showrunners for M*A*S*H. Funny ol' world, innit?

Why were they still using that electronic "pew-pew-pew pew pew...pew....pew......pew" sound well into the '80s?

My Friday question: Is In 'n' Out Burger really as good as people say?

Becca said...

PS: Sounding as if you were coughing up a furball during the intro to "Angie" was particularly inspired.

chuckcd said...

Ken, glad you survived the roadtrip.
And yeah, that Montero can RAKE.

Michael Hagerty said...

Let's just up the shudder quotient a bit here:

Neil Diamond was 28 when he recorded "Sweet Caroline". Caroline Kennedy was 10.

RCP said...

Why do I get the feeling that dog's name is Joni?

Brent said...

Ken, glad to hear you on the radio again this year. I did catch your subliminal promo for one of your books though, on the long fly by Carp that would have made it back-to-back-to back dingers. "It's GONE, no, wait a minute..."

Does that damn drum in Cleveland make you as nuts as it does me?

By Ken Levine said...

Thank you, Brent. You know me. I'll do anything to shamelessly plug a book.

Thanks for listening. Hope the rest of it was good. :)

By Ken Levine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
By Ken Levine said...

Plus, my feeling is, if you're going to goof up, do it spectacularly.

By the way, I'm not on the next trip. I catch up with the team in San Diego later next month.

John said...

I mean sellout crowd sings “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond in the 8th inning. What says baseball more than an ode to feeling-up Caroline Kennedy? Has anyone ever actually listened to those lyrics?

Hey, they could be singing the lyrics to "Carrie Anne" by The Hollies. "You lost your charm as you were aging"? Yeesh.

Don Draper probably would have been hanging out in the bar car to New Haven (though I kind of see him more as a New York Central Harlem Division bar car patron -- central Westchester County was where the new money was in the 1960s). Of course, given Jim Bouton's stories about late '60s MLB teams in "Ball Four", any Yankees' train to Boston probably would have been all bar cars.

Now that the Indians play in Progressive Field instead of Jacobs Field, isn't it about time they replaced Chief Wahoo with Flo? Or at least Elizabeth Warren, who's both progressive and claims tribal heritage.

Michael said...

That line about being dark at night ... we had friends getting married in Saratoga Springs and flew back there from Las Vegas on the night of the big blackout. I'm used to seeing lights down below. Nothing! It really IS dark at night.

Larry Asher said...

The best part of the Mariners road trip BEFORE (and after) they arrived in Denver was listening to you. Thanks for doing a great job and making intolerable baseball listenable. Since you're aware of who the Mariners' sponsors are, does that mean you have to listen to the spots during the breaks? I would have thought not hearing the commercials would be one of the broadcasters' perks.

Kevin Jq said...

NY to Boston is a great train ride. As a Red Sox fan I was glad the Mariners took one from the Yanks. Too bad the rain kept people away from the M's/Sox game, there had to be some die hard M's fans there – living in the NW sort of makes you indifferent to the rain, irritated by it at times too, but sitting in a ball park getting soaked does sort of suck.
You were on our local station in Stumptown.

Ray Murphy said...

Caroline Kennedy threw out the first pitch at the Red Sox 100th anniversary game - her grand-grandfather, Honey Fitz, threw out the ball at the first ever Fenway Park game. It rekindled speculation about whether ``Sweet Caroline'' was named after her, which Neil Diamond apparently never said until the song had been out for several years. Caroline has said the words to the song are somewhat disturbing if you're talking about a little girl, but she says she's met Neil Diamond a few times now and he seemed pretty cool.