Hey, I'm Walkin' Here! Solstice Walk Who we are Our trips Blog Contact us

Baseball Fever - Catch It!

Day 4: 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.

Wabash River
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 public domain

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 catching one.

Riverfront Stadium
Cinergy Field back when it was called Riverfront Stadium
Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

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 clean-underpants laws.

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.

Cincinnati, OH
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


1 Shocking.

2 Matt proudly notes that Brent Mayne scored the winning run in this game.

Go back to Day 3: Battle Creek, MI to Lafayette, IN
Continue to Day 5: Cambridge, OH to Lexington, VA
Go back to the trip overview