The countdown begins…

27 days.

That’s the current countdown until I fly to Cincinnati for two games at Great American Ballpark. Yesterday, I spent an hour online and on the phone, trying to find the cheapest and closest hotel to the ballpark. (All these new stadiums are built downtown. Hotels in the heart of any city are always fancy. I don’t need fancy. All I need is a bed, a shower, a door that locks, and an Internet connection.) So I shopped and compared and did a little math in my head. Travelodge, for example, costs just $49 per night, but it’s a 15-minute drive to the ballpark; the Millennium Hotel, meanwhile, is only four blocks away but costs $99.

Choices, choices.

I’m not going to have a car, and I refuse to rely on Cincinnati’s public transportation. That means taxis. How much will two 15-minute cab rides cost? More than the fifty-dollar difference between rooms? Probably not. But taxies are a hassle. In places like Cincinnati, you have to call ahead. You can’t just walk outside and flag one down. Even at the ballpark, there’s no guarantee. It almost makes more sense to go for the nicer hotel that’s within walking distance.

RamadaThat brings me to the Ramada. They say they’re a five-minute drive or a 20-minute walk away, and the room is $81.08 including tax. That’s the best deal by far, but of course their “system” has been down for two days now, so I can’t book the room. What irks me is that when I called yesterday, they said it’d be up and running in an hour. Anyway, this is what I go through when I plan a baseball trip.

In 29 days, I’ll be arriving in Houston, and I’m all set for the Holiday Inn Express…kinda pricey at $120 per night, but it’s right next to the ballpark.

And in 29 minutes (or so), I’ll be leaving for Shea Stadium…



    i’m going to a baseball game on saturday at tropicana field and will be showing up for batting practice with a ticket for right behind the bullpen and next to the foul pole. I saw that you’ve been to Tropicana Field once, any suggestions on hopefully getting a ball there? By the way, I love your blog and read it every day. I would love to see more pictures showing just how many balls you got like that bathtub picture did. Thank you for the advice.


    7/19/05 – RFK

    100% better than yesterday. More balls, more autographs, Nationals won. I was in the park at 5:40, five minutes after the gates opened. I went to the right field corner to see if the Rockies pitchers would throw me one – no luck – I did come close to a glove trick ball but Aaron Miles picked it up before I could begin to lower my glove. Then he threw it in after I asked him for it. Nice guy. I figured I was going to have no luck in right so I headed to the left field corner. No balls in the grassy area, but Mike DeJean had one. He eventually tossed it to me after looking for little kids to throw it to instead. There was no more action in the corner for about thirty minutes. After the Rockies finished taking BP, there were no players on the field so I walked around and waited for the Nationals players to play some catch in front of the dugout. As Preston Wilson came in, I was the only person standing behind the dugout so I got the ball. It was a nice, clean Washington Nationals Inaugural Season logo ball. I was happy about that one. Just as I caught it, a little kid came running over saying that he’d trade his autographed glove for the ball I just caught. I politely declined saying I already got some autographs on my ticket (Jamey Carroll and Ryan Spilborghs). Since it was almost game time and the Nat’s relievers were making their way to the bullpen, I went back to the left field corner. The clock read 7:01 and I was just about to head to my seat when Luis Ayala came out of the bullpen and pointed to the lady next to me. His throw was off and sailed right to me so I reached to grab it but it fell short. Ayala threw up his hands in playful disgust and then retrieved the ball for another try. This throw was right to the lady but still short; luckily I reached under her hand and made a stretching grab. Since the ball was intended for the lady, I held out the ball in my glove to her, but she said I could have it! I thanked her and returned to my seat and watched John Patterson throw a beautiful game. Go Nats.

    Season Totals-

    6 balls in 8 games


    Zack I’d been meaning to ask you about your job. I was mostly wondering how you got the job. I love baseball and I love to write so a job like yours is something I’ve always wanted to do. Either being a beat writer or being a columnist is what I want to do, so I guess I’m just asking how you get into something like that. I’m only a junior in high school so I have a while to go, but any advice that you have is appreciated.
    Thanks, Nick.

  4. Zack

    I don’t remember THAT much about Tropicana Field because I was only there for one game in 2000, but I vaguely recall that the runways are positioned in a difficult spot in the outfield seats. They’ll block you from having full range, so even though the crowd will be small, it’ll still be hard to chase after home runs. One thing I do remember is that the place is seriously ugly. I think every dome is ugly, but the Trop is particularly bad. My generic dome advice is to keep your eye on the ball when you’re running for it—in other words, don’t put your head down like a major league outfielder and run to the spot where you think the ball will land because you’ll struggle to pick it back up against the roof. I don’t remember anything about security or the dugouts or the sections behind the plate. I have a bunch of photos of the place, but those are at my parents place, so I have nothing to jar my memory. Sorry I’m not being more helpful…but you can always use the back-up plan of trying to get the visiting team to throw you balls. Make sure you have an Orioles cap. I’ll see if I can take some pics soon of my entire collection and put them in my blog’s photo album. (The bathtub pic only shows a third of the collection.) Good luck in Tampa, and let me know how you do. And hey, thanks for reading my blog.


    Congrats on having a better Day Two. Those commemorative balls are pretty sweet, huh? Have you ever gotten any other special balls? I love it when I’m the ONLY person going for a ball…just thinking about the one you got from Preston. I heard on ESPN that it was his birthday. Did you know that or incorprate that fact into your request? Can’t believe that lady let you keep the ball! What was that all about? That rarely happens. As for my job, I got lucky…I have a friend who works in another department. He heard there was an opening and told me where to send my résumé. As for you, I suggest that you do as much reading and writing as possible. Keep a journal. Write a blog or short stories or poetry. Anything to get better as using the language. You’re young enough that you have plenty of time to tailor your education and career toward anything you want to do. Try to get some writing assignments for a school paper or literary magazine and SAVE your articles once they’re published. You need to have writing samples (“clips”) once you get a little older. When people are thinking about hiring you, that’s what they’re going to want to see. If you get to a certain age (like, toward the end of college) and still have no clips, it’ll make it a lot harder to get that first writing job. But once you’re in, you’re in. Hope that helps.

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