Baseball Fever - Catch
Saturday, June 16, 2001
Lafayette, IN to Cambridge, OH - 385 miles
Due to increased weekend rates, we pay an all-time high of $48 for the
hotel room in the Budget Inn. However, the newly renovated rooms
prove spacious and comfortable, and we enjoy a solid night's
rest. Clinging to the theory that all motels with "Budget" in
their name must be dumps, Matt performs an exhaustive inspection of the
room trying to discover something wrong with it. At last he finds
it: there is no complimentary shampoo. Theory confirmed.
After loading up the van, we set out for the campus of Purdue
University, in the hope of checking e-mail and acquiring players that
we will see in the next two games for our fantasy baseball teams.
In a bit of one-upmanship with Milan, OH, the Lafayette traffic
engineers lay out a particularly obnoxious traffic detour for all to
enjoy. The signs point us down a different road, and that's
it. After a few miles without seeing any more signs, we realize
that they have no intention of getting back to the original road.
We turn around, and finally find our own way across the mighty
Wabash. We make haste to Purdue, find a parking spot, and begin
searching for a library so we can get online for a few minutes.
According to painter
Karl Bodmer, this is what the Wabash looked like in 1832
This image's copyright has expired and it is now in the
Coming from the East Coast, where open land isn't quite as abundant as
in the Midwest, we assume that by parking in the middle of campus, we
will be reasonably close to a library. Little do we realize how
large Purdue's sprawling campus is, so we find ourselves with quite a
walk ahead of us. Fortunately, Midwest topography is once again
on our side, and after an initial 7-inch gain in elevation, we do not
encounter a hill for the rest of the walk.
E-mail checked and fantasy teams updated, we take off down I-65 toward
Indianapolis after a more successful crossing of the Wabash. Our
tight schedule prohibits us from doing anything in the city, so we
press on toward Cincinnati, the site of our next game. The trip
is unexciting (it is Indiana, after all). As we near downtown
Cincinnati, we turn south and merge onto I-75. We continue
south... south... south... Ohio River... crap. Having
accidentally entered Kentucky, we quickly turn around and make our way
back to Ohio. Total time spent in Kentucky: 2.5 minutes.
We're able to park fairly close to Cinergy Field for only five bucks,
so we're in a good mood following our unexpected tour of the Ohio
River. We head into the stadium and walk toward our seats.
To our disappointment, we find that while they are in the lower level,
they're behind the right field foul pole, and are actually folding
chairs set up behind the last row of permanent seats. It strikes
us as a tad disingenuous to offer these at full price.
After a couple innings, we scout the crowd, find a large block of empty
seats about fifteen rows up from first base, and make our way over to
them, slipping past the ushers without having our tickets
checked. We no longer feel bad about spending $20 each for this
game, as these are the best seats either of us has had at a major
league game. While fate sends numerous foul balls in our general
direction, none come close enough give us a reasonable chance at
The game moves right along, and stays close throughout. Lance
Davis pitches admirably for the home team in his major league debut,
allowing only two earned runs in five innings. Mike Hampton,
formerly a star southpaw with the Astros and Mets, has struggled early
in the season after signing a large contract with Colorado, which, as
we learn, is actually an Anasazi word meaning "where pitchers go to
die." Tonight, however, he manages to keep his team in the game,
allowing three earned runs through six and a third, but stands to take
the loss as the Reds post four runs in the home half of the seventh.
Aided by a Mark Wohlers wild pitch1,
Colorado scores once in the top of the eighth, closing the Reds' lead
to 6-5. Cincinnati adds an insurance run in the bottom of the
inning and brings in Danny Graves to put things on ice in the
ninth. Rob begins to feel his stomach churning. Man laws
clearly state that one is not to leave a close game in the ninth
inning; however, when the chips are down, man laws are trumped by
Rob makes a beeline to the nearest restroom and proceeds to blow the
place to pieces, tearing a swath of destruction the likes of which
Cinergy Field has never seen before and will not see again until it is
demolished the following year. As Rob gradually begins to regain
strength after his exhausting ordeal, he can tell from the noise of the
crowd that Colorado is back in business. He hurries to get back
out to the game, but manages to clog the toilet as Colorado pushes
across the tying run in the top of the ninth.
After Cincy lays a goose egg in the bottom of the ninth, fans shift
toward the exits, undoubtedly noting that something off the field had
contributed to Danny Graves' collapse. After all, Colorado is not
exactly a juggernaut, and something seems awry in the corner of the
stadium from which Rob has recently emerged. Fortunately, the
fans' departure results in the abandonment of many seats in front of us
and toward home plate, so we move up to seats six rows behind the
first-base dugout and enjoy the remainder of the game from there.
While the ushers are rather lenient in allowing the remaining fans to
upgrade their seats, they steadfastly refuse to let anyone sit in the
row right behind the dugout. Apparently these seats belong to the
Kroger family, and the Reds are paranoid that they will show up in the
tenth inning and become infuriated when they discover commoners with
their dirty hindquarters parked in their prized front-row seats.
Kroger headquarters towers over Cincinnati
Cropped version of a photo taken by Derek Jensen and released
into the public domain
The tenth and eleventh innings are pretty uneventful, but Colorado
scores a run in the twelfth on an error. Craig Dingman comes in
to close the game for the Rockies, earning his first major league
save. We are witnessing a legend in the making, no doubt.
Fantasy stats for today:
* Mike Hampton (Matt, P, Col) - 6.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
* Juan Pierre (Matt, CF, Col) - 2/6, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB
* Alex Ochoa (Matt, RF, Cin) - 0/3
* Brent Mayne (Matt, C, Col) - 0/2, 1 R
* Barry Larkin (Rob, SS, Cin) - 0/6, 1 R
* Ken Griffey, Jr. (Rob, CF, Cin) - 2/6, 2 RBI
Yes, Matt did select Brent Mayne for his fantasy team2.
Rejuvenated by the terrific game, we pull out of the parking lot in
high spirits and take off toward Pittsburgh. We had planned on
stopping around Columbus for the night, but feeling energized, we
decide to press on. We eventually call it a night upon reaching
our old friend Cambridge, OH, but not before Matt procures a Columbus
snow globe in nearby Hebron, where we also pick up hysterical postcards
that say "Cowlumbus" and depict a gigantic cow amidst the buildings of
downtown. Bypassing the tempting "same thing" discount at the
Budget Inn, we settle on the Travelodge just down the road, arriving
around 3:30 AM.
Beautiful downtown Cowlumbus
Photo taken by Derek Jensen and released into the public domain
proudly notes that Brent Mayne scored the winning run in this game.