It’s a well-established fact that most of my family’s vacations include a significant element of professional sports. More specifically, Major League Baseball. Trips in 2012 and 2014 brought me to Dodger Stadium, PETCO Park, Safeco Field, and Nat Bailey Stadium (Vancouver). And two separate college visits to Georgia Tech allowed me to witness three games at Turner Field. This year, we ventured north of the border to Montreal, QC–a city whose professional baseball team departed in 2004.
Of course, I’m forever grateful that the Washington Nationals now exist, but the ghost of French Canadian baseball cast a slight shadow of disappointment over my enjoyment of our trip. Needless to say, we had a lovely time traversing and tasting the diverse city during its annual brief period of warmth.
We biked toured through some up-and-coming neighborhoods and picnic-ed in a luscious park. Lays manufactures a “Ketchup” flavor of potato chips that are quite popular in Quebec (apparently) so Joe and I snacked on some of those before taking in half an inning of a Little League-aged baseball game in the park. Yes, of course we found some level of baseball in Montreal.
One of the highlights was visiting Olympic Park, site of the 1976 Summer Olympic Games–the only Summer Olympics ever held in Canada. The Montreal Expos occupied Olympic Park while they still existed, and I did get to go inside as part of a tour of some of the facilities. It’s rather decrepit, and if a professional baseball team were ever to exist again in Montreal, they would almost certainly have to find a new facility.
Our bike tour guide, Jeff, a jovial, hipstery socialite, said the baseball fans of the city are holding out for the Tampa Bay Rays to relocate to Montreal. The Rays play in a dismal Tropicana Field and have long been seeking out a new facility. But as always, politics find their way into the game when it comes to the funding of such a place. And who knows how long the franchise will put up with their dark dome?
I soon made up for the lack of Major League Baseball on our Montreal trip when I visited Pittsburgh for the first time in my life and, naturally, PNC Park. Shout out to Elise for putting up with me traversing through the whole park just to see what’s what.
PNC Park, since its christening in 2001, has been regarded as one of the best venues in the game. Its impeccable backdrop and overall sleek aesthetics are the best attributes. Honestly, if you had to choose one of those fake city backdrops for a TV interview, Pittsburgh’s would pretty much be the view PNC Park gives its fans.
We saw the Pirates defeat the Padres on August 9 to the tune of rambunctions fans raising and waving their Jolly Rogers and one mammoth home run by Gregory Polanco.
Exactly a week later I had flown home to Virginia and driven myself, en route to college, to northern Kentucky where I met up with my friend Caroline and went to see the Marlins play at Great American Ball Park. Shout out to her for harboring me for a few hours and being the only Cincinnatian (*achem* Paul) available to see a game with me. It was also the first time I ever stepped foot in the state of Kentucky. Fun fact, I have now visited every state that borders Virginia.
We sat behind Miami’s dugout amidst the Sea of Japan who had come to witness Ichiro play in his waning years. It rained on and off throughout the game, but not enough to cause a delay or spoil our enjoyment. The Marlins lost, and dropped three of four in total in Cincinnati.
And finally this past Friday Elise and I traversed back to Pittsburgh to watch the Marlins play at PNC Park. She physically stopped me from clapping nearly every inning and claimed it was for my own personal safety, but I was confident that I would not be assaulted by our surrounding game-goers. Miami pulled off a fun come-from-behind win thanks to some stellar play by Christian Yelich and Miguel Rojas’ first home run of the year.
After this last trip, I have seen the Marlins play in seven different MLB stadiums (Oriole Park, RFK Stadium, Nationals Park, Turner Field, Marlins Park, Great American Ball Park, and PNC Park). Add two more if you want to count Spring Training.
What’s next? I may be done witnessing professional baseball this season, but I will be in Virginia for game one of the NLDS October 7…just sayin’.