Today marked the day of a new age. A new baseball season and a new way of life. Baseball is slowly turning into a glamorous shot of reality of shot clocks, smaller strike zones and over-priced foods that barely cater to our taste buds. My favorite players were slowly fading out while the new, young rookies quickly filled their void.
I watched Albert Pujols for about 25 minutes while sitting in the lower first base seating bowl after the Mariners had taken their hacks in the batting cage. He looked tired and ready to retire, to be honest. There he stood, barely following the routine stretches that the trainer was directing. Like he had been in the Major Leagues so long that he was above all of the stretching and running and conditioning. It was for the rookies, his face said.
Eventually he picked up a baseball and played catch with Erik Aybar for about five whole minutes…
…then he stood behind the batting cage and talked to Jay Buhner for nearly the rest of batting practice. He did get into the cage, though. Pujols took about six total swings never once putting one into the bleachers. He never interacted with any fans, signed any autographs or even acknowledged our fan-existence.
I reminisced with a friend of mine about the time when Pujols was playing with the St. Louis Cardinals. Him and Matt Holiday would crush during BP. It was when I visited Coors Field for the first time some time ago and I thought it was quite impressive. The two All-Stars on the Cardinals were really putting on a show.
Now the stark reality of old age and being a veteran icon sets in. No real need to show the youngsters that you can crush BP home runs. Mostly, no one is interested in you anymore. It’s all about the Mike Trouts and the Mike Moustakas, and the Clayton Kershaws. Take a seat, Pujols.
After shagging six baseballs from around the stadium, I found myself out in centerfield. Mariners games are always a lot of fun for me, and for many years I was always happy about the food. Recently, with the rising prices of everything within in the confines of the stadium, the flavor has diminished. Maybe the flavor had been removed to pay for the new shot clock out in centerfield.
I tried a slice of pizza like always. Satisfying; killed the hunger pains immediately. Then I tried what’s called a “Baconburg”. I asked the guy what exactly a baconburg was and he replied with, “It’s a hamburger with bacon…” Ohhhhh, okay. Thanks for clarifying, smartguy. The bun was stale, the mayo seemed old and the whole thing kind of fell apart in my hands. I was not impressed to say the least.
The game itself blew by. David Freese blasted a two-run home run to centerfield to a fan who couldn’t hold on for the catch but was rewarded with the baseball anyway. Two sections over from where I was sitting. McClendon talks a big game but it feels like the Mariners are picking up right where they left off from last season. Barely any run support for their ace on the mound…and the defense is trying.
Safeco is in a unique location in Seattle…
…because we always get awesome sunsets.
It has been forever since I last attended a baseball game in San Francisco. AT&T Park is one of the most interesting baseball stadiums I’ve seen so far in my journey to see all 30. The last time I came here I snagged a bunch of baseballs and took lots of photos. You can check out that entry by clicking this link.
Here’s a picture of me inside:
It was Hunter Pence bobble head night so I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be able to snag a bunch of baseballs like last time. To my surprise I was literally the first one into the lower seating bowl and found one baseball sitting in the seats. I thought I saw two but I couldn’t find the second one. Moments later a stampede of fans started filling the rows and I then started to wander the stadium.
Here’s a picture of McCovey Dave:
Dave is a huge Giants fan and attends nearly every home game in his kayaker. He goes after home run baseballs that land in the cove out behind AT&T Park and he is pretty successful at it. He has multiple methods of catching the baseballs but the real trick is just being at the right place at the right time to catch them. If you follow Dave on Twitter you will learn so much about all the “splash hits” and all the players that have hit one into the drink. He’s seriously worth a follow on Twitter and if you’re a baseball nut/fan like him, I’m sure he will follow you back.
Before the game started I noticed something. Take a look at the next picture and look at the bottom left corner…
…they’re kind of hard to see but…are those medal detectors? There weren’t any at the front gates of the ballpark when I came through. I thought it was sort of odd. I heard about Major League Baseball putting them in every baseball stadium but I wasn’t entirely certain it was a true. I guess it is true. What a pain in the butt this is going to be. I wonder how strict security will be or what will happen? Will they make us take our shoes off or our belts? Maybe an official TSA pat down? I’m kind of curious of everyone’s opinion on this. If you’re a ballhawk, please take the extra time it takes to leave a comment and give your opinion; pros and cons of how this will help/hurt your chances of getting a baseball.
Stay tuned for my adventure on Alcatraz Island…
The Sydney Harbour Bridge, also affectionately known as the ‘Coathanger’, was opened on March 19th 1932 by Premier Jack Lang, after six years of construction. Made of steel the bridge contains 6 million hand driven rivets. The surface area that requires painting is equal to about the surface area of 60 sports fields. The Bridge has huge hinges to absorb the expansion caused by the hot Sydney sun. You will see them on either side of the bridge at the footings of the Pylons.
You can have a close hand look while you are in Sydney by visiting the South Eastern Pylon. It is a walking trip and recommended for the fit only. It is a longish walk to get to the base of the Pylon and then there are 200 steps to the top. Entry for adults is now $8.50 (23 June 2003), kids between 8 and 12 years three dollars and under 8 years its free. (Prices valid until 30 November 2003).
The views and photo opportunities are fantastic. (If you can make it, we’ve got to say it is tough). There is a great display on how the thing was built. It has a similar place in Sydney history to the Statue of Liberty in New York as far as many migrants to Australia go. In sight of the bridge you knew you had made it.
The displaced peoples of Europe who came to Australia in the days of the grand ships can get very misty when you ask them what they felt when they saw this grand old arch on their arrival in Sydney from the aftermath of World War Two as they sailed up Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour). The old Bridge has been replaced as “the” landmark of Sydney by the bold architecture of the Opera House.
But a grand old bridge it is, and one you will remember whenever you think of Sydney after your visit.
When it opened it cost a car six pence to cross. A horse and rider was 3 pence. These days a return trip (for some reason the only kind) costs two dollars twenty (gst). Horses and riders are banned, that’s the changing times. You can walk across free and you are allowed to bicycle in a special lane.
Sydney Harbour Bridge is the world’s largest (but not longest as thats the New River Gorge in the USA) steel arch bridge, and, in its beautiful harbour location, has become a renowned international symbol of Australia.
Its total length including approach spans is 1149 metres and its arch span is 503 metres. The top of the arch is 134 metres above sea level and the clearance for shipping under the deck is a spacious 49 metres. The total steelwork weighs 52,800 tonnes, including 39,000 tonnes in the arch. The 49 metre wide deck makes Sydney Harbour Bridge the widest Longspan Bridge in the world.
It’s taken me a long time to get this entry completed because I just spent about five days in San Francisco. I’ll have those blog entries up sooner than later, I promise.
This was my last day in Australia so I wanted to make it count. I heard rumor (and also saw some videos from baseball players) that people could climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge. I’m deathly afraid of heights and I have a fear of falling off high places as well. So when I first heard these rumors the whole thing was out of the question for me. I wasn’t about to climb four hundred and thirty something feet on a bridge in Australia.
When I left my hotel for the day I stopped at the Westfield Tower and rode the elevator all the way up to the top. It was a spectacular sight…
…and you can read all about the details of this day on this entry. When I got done looking at Sydney Australia from that vantage point, I headed out to do some more sight-seeing and eventually found myself at the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
For those of you who ever visit Sydney Australia, this is something you’ll certainly at least want to look into. It’s pretty expensive to climb the bridge but on a good day it’s worth every single penny spent. From start to finish the climb took about three hours. Here’s the entrance:
Not only do you get complete 100% safety training and a chance to climb some ladders before going up, but you also get a great tour guide and a thorough history lesson on the bridge and the surrounding area of Sydney. I thought it was going to be a quick 45 minute climb-up-the-bridge-and climb-back-down sort of thing. Nope. The tour guide was awesome and he told us how the bridge was made, why it was made and the details of the different jobs that helped create the bridge.
He told us this one story of how the rivets were made. One guy grabs the rivet with tongs and places it in a cooker on the bridge while another guy waits. This guy is called the “catcher”. Once the rivet is red hot, the guy with the tongs pulls the rivet out of the cooker and tosses it to the catcher. The catcher then catches the red hot rivet in a bucket of sand and then grabs it with his set up tongs. He then climbs into the bridge through an access panel and hammers the rivet into place. The tour guide told us that there were hundreds of thousands of rivets at the bottom of the river due to the catcher missing red hot rivets. Wow.
At one time actor and comedian Paul Hogan was a rigger on the bridge before finding fame and fortune.
In June 1976, the one-billionth vehicle crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The first 500 million crossings took over 33 years while the second 500 million took less than 11 years.
In 1932, the annual average daily traffic volume (in both directions) was about 10,900.
In 1943, with a wartime shortage of vehicles and petrol rationing, there was a drop in traffic to about 8,600 vehicles a day.
A total of 13 deaths happened from men falling off the bridge while being created and only one man survived a fall. Turns out the guy who fell off the bridge was an expert high diver and when he realized he was falling, his instincts kicked it and he was able to dive feet first into the river below and only break a couple of ribs. There were tons of stories like this that the tour guide had.
We weren’t allowed to take anything up during the climb like cameras or chewing gum or any other loose items. They were very strict about this and we received a quick pat down, we passed through a metal detector and they waved a metal detector wand over us prior to heading out. It was about the equivalent of passing through a TSA checkpoint.
So here are a few pictures that were taken of me by the tour guide once up on the bridge…
…that’s the entire group after we reached the top. See the old guy in the first row, second person in? That man immigrated to Australia the year before the bridge was built into completion and he’s 80 years old. The day of the climb was his birthday and his daughter climbed with him for his birthday present. How awesome is that? I’m in the second row, first person on the left.
This next picture if of me as we were heading back down:
So you’re probably wondering why we have headphones and why we are wearing those silly blue jump suits. The headphones were for so the tour guide could talk to us and tell us stuff while we climbed around on the bridge. And the blue jump suits is what we changed into prior to climbing the bridge. We all had to take off as much clothing as we were comfortable with and then change into them. They had no pockets and then we wore a belt with a four foot strap that was secured to the bridge as we climbed so in case we fell, we would not fall completely off the bridge. It was 100% safe to climb. So needless to say my fear of falling was put to rest while climbing around on the bridge.
This is probably my most favorite picture. It has a great shot of the Sydney Opera House in the background. Yes, it was windy and it started to rain on us just as we were reaching the top so we had to put on our authentic Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb rain gear. Despite a clear sunny day, it was still pretty awesome to be up there. The worst part about the climb as climbing three 25-step ladders to reach the platform to actually climb up the bridge. They were vertical, it was wet and like I said; I hate heights. But once I made it onto the platform to start walking up the bridge, it wasn’t so bad.
Another great picture with the Opera House in the background.
And after we got back down to ground zero, we changed out of our jump suits, drank some water, sat down for a little bit, returned all of our gear that they loaned out to us, we got one of these:
Boom, baby! My Climber Certificate!
I realize my blog entries went from “day one” to “day two” and then jumped to “day eight”. Simple explanation. Day three and four were spent at the Sydney Cricket Grounds watching baseball (and you can read all about that by clicking this link) and five, six and day seven were spent just kind of kicking around town and not doing much. So it really wasn’t blog worthy. I have a ton of pictures though and I might do an extra blog entry kind of like how I did when I visited Japan a couple of years ago.
Hopefully I can get my San Francisco trip blogged about within the next couple of weeks before I start going to a lot of Mariners games.
Awesome couple of games at the Sydney Cricket Grounds! I had a great time walking around, seeing the sights, learning about the history there and watching some Major League Baseball!
As you could probably imagine, I didn’t sit in my assigned seating while attending the games. I met up with Zack Hample and we pretty much wandered all over the place taking pictures, eating crappy stadium food and catching baseballs. Here’s a picture of the lone baseball I caught during the weekend series:
It was thrown to me by David Hernandez.
So let me begin from the time I got to the stadium. I managed to eat this monster burger prior to game time…
…it was massive. And messy. And it fell apart in my hands and I basically needed a fork to eat it by the time the burger made the bun all soggy. But it was soooooo good! It had organic lettuce and beets on it and BBQ sauce and mayo… yum!
After lunch I ran into Zack outside and we had our pictures taken in front of the Sydney Cricket Grounds:
Yeah, I was wearing an Arizona Diamondbacks hat because I needed something to cover my head. The sun has been intense the last couple of days and the top of my head was sun burnt. They didn’t have Dodgers hats in my size so I opted for a Dbacks one. After picture time, we ran inside. The stadium was beautifully put together for Major League Baseball-and when the clouds started to darken and the rain started to come in, we ran for cover and started taking more pictures. It was an absolute gorgeous stadium.
Once the game got started, I sat first row in front of the Miller Party Deck. The seats were so crappy that the first six rows were empty because you couldn’t see the field. It was a horrible set up but I took full advantage of sitting that close to the outfield.
Even though Paul Goldschmidt went 2-4 with a single and a double, Kershaw was on the mound and after the Dodgers took a quick 1-0 lead in their top half of the 2nd inning, it only took a Scott Van Slyke -run bomb down the right field line to solidify a win for the Dodgers.
The final score was 3-1 Dodgers and Kershaw earned his first win of the 2014 MLB season.
The second game was much more exciting. After meeting up with another Ballhawk from San Diego, Leigh and his wife Dolly, Zack and I headed back out to the Miller Party Deck. We pretty much talked about baseball and played catch throughout the entire game, though.
The Dodgers struck early taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first and never looked back. By the top of the eighth inning, it was 7-0 Dodgers. Until Mark Trumbo started to make things happen. Jumping on a fast ball, he buried a two-run shot into the left field bleachers. 7-5 Dodgers in the bottom of the ninth. I was hoping for a solid comeback by the Diamondbacks but with three errors throughout the game and some sloppy pitching, the damage had already been done and the ball game was nearing an end.
The Dodgers have swept the two game series in Australia and would go home the winners.
I really don’t have any plans for the rest of my stay in Australia. I’ll probably get caught up on some blogging (like right now) and manage some of my other websites. Maybe sit around and drink some coffee in the lobby or just kick around town. It’s supposed to rain for the next four days, so I will continue to check the weather and plan accordingly.
I did make a rough draft of what I’d like to do this season regarding trips to baseball stadiums, etc…
I have made a tentative plan:
April 8th-12th: I’ll be in San Francisco and on the 9th I plan to make it out to AT&T Park. I have been there before and I’m hoping to get a Hunter Pence bobblehead.
May 10th-14th: I plan to return to San Francisco for more baseballs games.
July 19th: I plan to attend the 25th anniversary of the 1989 World Series reunion in Oakland.
August 1st: Traveling to Houston to try to get a Lance Berkman bobblehead and it’ll be my first time seeing Minute Maid Park.
August 9th: Traveling to Cincinnati to see Ken Griffey Junior get inducted in the Reds HOF.
September 13th: Paul Goldschmidt bobblehead night at Chase Field- never been there before.
Everything is subject to change and probably will change. Hopefully it all goes as planned.
I also hope to make it to the All-Star game this year, too.
I have a couple new websites, so check those out!
Oh. My. God. Look at this:
I found this spider while walking around in the forest around the Taronga Zoo. I’m not kidding when I say this; it was larger than a silver dollar coin. And I saw a lot of them. And seeing them kept me on the sidewalk. Yikes!
Further up the walkway I heard lots of birds chirping and singing and mimicking each other. It was really great to hear all of that. It was around 8am when I arrived to this area so the sun had just come up and the forest was alive with critters. I saw lizards and birds and spiders and rodents- such a sight! I love birds and when I saw these little guys, it was just breath-taking:
They were super-friendly and they allowed me to get really close to get some good pictures. I think they were just as curious about me as I was about them. They would chirp and whistle at me-such a great experience because I usually see these kinds of birds in pet stores.
Now for a little bit of a history lesson regarding the area I was in today.
“Bradleys Head is another place where military history and stunning landscapes combine to offer a complete harbour experience.
Just next to Taronga Zoo, the convict-built battery at Bradley’s Head was built after four American warships arrived in Sydney Harbour undetected in 1839. Sydneysiders were feeling uneasy so a circular parapet was later installed to enhance Sydney’s protection. Today, the mast of HMAS Sydney (I) towers over the parapet as a striking monument to the WWI warship.
Defence ditches, added in the late 19th century after British troops left Sydney and remnants of earlier fortications are other features of this unique harbor side location.”
Here’s a picture of me in front of one of the cannons that was built in the 19th century:
Here’s a website that you can look at to see more of the military relics that I visited down at Bradleys Head. It was very interesting to learn about Australian history and to take in all of this on such a crisp early morning at the harbor was really awesome. I just had to be careful not to run into anymore of those spiders. The most interesting military relic I saw was the rifle wall.
On my way back towards the zoo (which opened at 9:30am) I found a very small patch of beach that was right across from South Sydney:
Australia is coming up on fall season so the water wasn’t warm like I thought it would be. It was still nice to walk in the sand and wade around in the water. Australia has a lot of interesting creatures that I’d like to stay away from so I didn’t venture out too far. I learned about lots of these crazy little critters that like to bite and sting when I was at the museum yesterday.
I’m not going to bore you with the details of what I saw inside the zoo too much. If you’ve ever been to a zoo you’ve pretty much been to all the zoos. I’ve probably seen lions and bears and Komodo Dragons at just about every zoo I’ve ever been to. This zoo did have Koala bears, though and I think those are just the best bears in the world! Check it out:
After I left the zoo I learned from seeing one of Clayton Kershaw’s tweets that you can actually get your picture taken with a Koala bear! How cool would THAT be?! I was totally bummed that I didn’t pay more attention to the unique experiences that the zoo offered. While I was walking around I passed a guy who looked awfully familiar, though. I had to do a double-take and I then turned around to follow him to get a better look. I swore it was Brian Wilson. I mean, he has that god-awful, hideous beard that can not be mistaken, right? But the hair kind of threw me off. When I entered the Platypus House, he was getting a picture taken with a couple of Diamondback fans so I approached and quickly asked for a picture as well:
He was very soft-spoken and nice, and I think he was just trying to enjoy his time at the zoo with his lady friend (she’s in the back ground looking on) so I didn’t want to really engage in conversation. I just thanked him for his time and left it at that ( I secretly followed him around the zoo for another 15 minutes just because he’s Brian Wilson).
I left the zoo and snapped a quick photo as I exited…
…and headed back to South Sydney. On foot. It was approximately 6.6 miles to the historic Sydney Opera House and I managed to walk about 4 miles of that in 80 degree heat with a massive blister on my right foot. The only reason why I didn’t complete the 6.6 miles to the opera house was because there was a bridge connecting South Sydney to North Sydney and pedestrians are not allowed to walk on it. A real bummer. I had to flag down a cab to take me the rest of the way (which cost me $17 AUS dollars). Cabs are very expensive in Australia, by the way. So if you ever come out this way, avoid them if you can.
Once I arrived at the opera house, I was ready to end my day anyway. I was STARVING. One thing I noticed about Australia (and I don’t know if its just because I am so active or because its hot) is I can’t seem to eat enough. And food out here is pretty expensive as well. Dinner cost me about $20 AUS dollars. I got a lot of food but like I’ve said, it’s not filling me up. It’s kind of weird.
Anyway. I made it to the opera house and it was basically the epicenter for tourism:
And then of course I had to get a picture of the historic Sydney bridge across the way (and also learned you can climb to the top from Tony Campana’s Instagram video)…
…I might actually have to go back to the bridge to do the infamous bridge climb. I’m deathly afraid of heights so I don’t know if I will be able to handle it. We will see and I’ll definitely blog about it if I go for it.
Yesterday, I ran into this guy:
These are actual life-sized Black Rhinos that have been painted up and placed all around Sydney in an effort to raise awareness of this endangered species. There’s approximately 125 of them and I found one (this one) yesterday and I found about seven or eight more today. Here’s the website in case you want to see more about what these are about. I’m going to do my best to find all 125 of them while I’m here and I’ll post every single one of them on my blog. Here’s the ones I found today:
Annnnnddd number six:
Tomorrow is Friday so I hope to make it out to Bondi beach or maybe head back to the Sydney Bridge to climb up it. I really don’t know what I’ll be doing. Baseball games are coming up this weekend, though, and I am thoroughly stoked and ready to start the 2014 season! After all, it’s what I came out here for to begin with!
What would complete my day without having seen a giant game of chess, right?
If you haven’t read what I did in Australia on day number one, check it out here!
Also, check out my other blog here! It’s all about the Seattle Mariners!
I woke up this morning at 5am. Super early, I know. I wanted to get a head start on the day because I needed to find my way into down town Sydney to pick up my game tickets for this weekends games at Sydney Cricket Grounds. My friend, as some of you may know him as “PadreLeigh” had them in his possession from a friend who was selling them to me who could no longer make it to the games.
Last night I took a cab from the airport to my hotel. It was approximately 5 miles which included one toll road. I asked a few locals about how much it would cost in AUS currency to make it to my hotel and they all said “around 30-40 dollars”. No problem, I thought to myself. I can handle that. After a 35 minute cab ride and $67 AUS dollars later, I knew I had been taken for a ride. This morning, I took a cab into downtown Sydney to kick around and I told my story to the cab driver and he told me I had been ripped off. The tolled road should’ve been about $4 dollars and the actual cab ride should’ve cost me about $45. So fair warning to anyone who has a trip to Australia coming up. Pick your cabbies wisely. This cab driver was not an Australian.
Today wasn’t as eventful as I had hoped it to be. I wore my flip flops around town and walked roughly 4 miles in them. I ended up with a nasty blister on my right foot which pretty much made walking really not-so-fun. I eventually made it back to my hotel, put my walking shoes on and headed back out but with this blister, I really had to limit my walking and I was done with cab rides. I had brunch at a place called Salad Works. All healthy food and really good. I eventually found “PadreLeigh”, scooped up the tickets and walked back into the city.
First stop? St. Marys Cathedral:
I didn’t go in (couldn’t take pictures inside, anyway) but the Cathedral was absolutely gorgeous.
Here’s a closer look:
After taking in the pure beauty of that iconic structure, I hustled off to the Australian Museum:
I learned all about rocks and the Australia gold rush and I also learned about wombats! Did you know the first wombat to ever walk the country of Australia was called a Diprotodon? Here I am with one:
The Diprotodon was around millions of years ago. Pretty interesting, yeah? I also saw a baby crocodile:
On my way back to my hotel for some dinner, I ran into this statue of some naked dude grabbing the one-horned dilapidated Mongaloid. It was pretty badass:
I tried this Mexican cantina restaurant called Guzman Y Gomez and it was pretty good! It reminded me of a Qdoba or a Chipolte from the Americas. Most places, I’m finding are pretty healthy to eat at. Plus, I’ve been drinking a ton of water because the humidity is a little high out this way.
Bathroom selfie time:
Welp! That concludes day one in Australia! Tomorrow I’m going to make it out to the Tangora Zoo in North Sydney and then I have tickets to the Team AUS versus the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game at the Cricket Grounds.
Friday, I’d like to make it out to Bondi beach but all of this is subject to change. Hope all is well back in the States!
It’s almost baseball time! Guess where I’m at right now? I’m in Hawaii! I’m in Hawaii because I’m on my way to Australia to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks open the ’14 MLB season at the historic Sydney Cricket Grounds! Awesome, right?!
I am so jet lagged, though. I didn’t get any sleep Saturday night and I slept a rough four hours on the six hour flight to Hawaii and now I’ve gotten something to eat and looking to rest up in an attempt to take on this 18 hour flight to the Outback! I went to Japan the year before last and met up with Zack Hample and had a freaking awesome time! This year we are meeting up again and hopefully we will be able to do some other stuff besides baseball while we are there.
Hawaii isn’t what I expected it to be. The airport is a little confusing and the $40 dollar cab ride smashed a huge hole in my wallet. It was actually poor planning on my part; I could’ve got a closer hotel to the airport. Live and learn and it’s all about the experience. You know how when you watch Tv and you see Hawaii on there and there’s all these lush palm trees and blue waters? I suppose I’m in a crappy location (Waikiki) but there isn’t much of that. The area is pretty run down and trashy.
Anyway. I’d take a bunch of pictures and upload them on here but Australia is going to be so much better. So I want to save all of my picture taking for that. Besides the Australian trip, I plan to make it to San Francisco a couple of times this year and I had the All-Star game all figured out but I don’t know if I will make it because I want to see the 25th Anniversary 1989 World Series Oakland Athletic reunion at the Coliseum this year. So we will see.
I hope all of you are doing well out there! I’m having a blast now that baseball season is back!