April 5, 2011

We're not in Kansas (City) anymore...

Cheryl and I (along with her cousin Larry and his wife Cathy) were in Texas Saturday and Sunday. Now, one might ask, what’s a couple of Angel fans doing in a place like Texas?

Well, we were on the second half of our baseball road trip with Larry and Cathy (who are Red Sox fans). Our plan was to catch two Angel games in Kansas City and two Red Sox games in Texas.

Judging by the way the Angels have played the last three games in Kansas City, we were probably better off not being in Kansas City for the last two games. More on that in a bit….

Cheryl’s Uncle “Ken” also joined us for a game in Texas. Ken has lived in Fort Worth for a long time; however, this was his first trip to the stadium. He was very impressed; as were we.

In any case – watching the Texas Rangers host the Boston Red Sox had me extremely conflicted. I don’t like either team and I couldn’t find a way to root for either side. It was an odd experience to say the least.

To make matters worse, we got to watch the Rangers hand out their American League Championship rings to the players, coaches and front office in an elaborate ceremony. Good times… not. We also got a look at players who were supposedly “targets” of the Angels off season in Carl Crawford (for Boston) and Adrian Beltre (for Texas). More fun… not.

Don’t get me wrong – it was great to see the stadium and to be at a ball game. The circumstances were just a tad bit odd all the way around.

It was odd seeing Mike Napoli in a Rangers’ uniform and it was even worse watching him launch his second bomb of the season into the outfield seats. Napoli had quite a series and his two homeruns (only one of which we witnessed) combined with Jeff Mathis’s continued unimpressive play left Cheryl and me feeling a little empty. I hate to think about the huge numbers he might put up in Texas. It’s almost scary.

What’s an Angels fan to do?

I will say this – the highlight of the trip to Texas was seeing John Lackey get hammered by the Rangers offense. I mean, I thought Texas was going to run out of fireworks (the stadium shoots off fireworks every time one of their own homers). Lackey looked like he was throwing batting practice and even though I dislike the Rangers; I will admit feeling a bit of satisfaction watching Lackey get knocked around like a rag doll. Yeah, I supposed I’m still a tad bit bitter. (Photo to the left is Lackey probably trying to blame the baseball for his woes... just saying).

I have to tell you the way the Rangers handled the Red Sox in their opening series was pretty dang impressive. It may only be early April, but the Rangers look like a team to be reckoned with. They’re definitely playing big boy baseball in Texas.

The photos below are of Adrian Beltre blasting his grand slam, Ian Kinsler rounding third after blasting his second (of three homers in the series), and former Angel Darren O'Day going side arm.

Stadium observations:

Cheryl and I are slowly making our way around the country to see all the stadiums. Over the past several years we’ve been to 16. The sixteen include: Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Old Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, The Metro Dome, New Comiskey, Safeco, Coors Field, AT&T, Oakland Alameda Coliseum, Petco Park, Chase Field, Dodger Stadium, Angels Stadium and now Kauffman Stadium and the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

So… what did we think about Kauffman and Arlington? Kauffman Stadium is simply a beautiful place to watch baseball. The scoreboard in center field is absolutely stunning. The overall design and feel of the stadium exudes baseball. This stadium is easily one of my new favorites. It was easy to find the information I wanted to see (score, pitching information, batting information, out of town scoreboard, etc.).
Two statues can be found in the outfield concourse; one of George Brett and the other of Frank White. There is also a statue of Ewing and Muriel Kauffman.

I really can’t say enough good things about Kauffman Stadium.

As for the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington – it was impressive in many ways. From the outside, it reminds me a bit of Coors Field and as you walk up to the stadium, there are staff standing outside with “May I help you?” signs which was a nice touch. They also came in handy.

Cheryl’s Uncle “Ken” needed a little assistance getting to our seats and the staff at the stadium was very accommodating.

Inside; like the outside is very picturesque and has a touch of the old stadiums with the support poles in right field. The suites in centerfield are kind of out of place in my opinion and appear to be very far away.

One of the cool features was the visitor’s bullpen. You could basically stand directly above the catcher and look down into the bullpen as players were warming up. Cheryl got some cool pictures of Jason Varitek.

There were tons of stuff for kids to do which is kind of nice; but if they’re not there to watch the baseball game, what’s the point? Just saying.

The ballpark also has a very nice statue of Nolan Ryan in centerfield. Some of the interactive stuff was pretty cool too. When the opposing pitcher is in trouble, they play Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" and the stadium is lit up with... guess what... a "ring of fire." They also have the crowd sing along to "Deep in the heart of Texas." Homeruns by the Rangers bring out the Texas Flag (see the photo) and the atmosphere is like one big baseball party to say the least.

Overall, I will say it was a little too busy for my tastes though. It was hard for me to find the information I wanted to know at any given time. I had to constantly search the stadium for whatever I was looking for and never got used to it.

It was also very crowded. Granted they had 48,000 and 46,000 plus at the two games, but the walk ways and concourse were basically elbow to elbow. There was a long line into the main team store and it took way too long for the staff to even let us in.

Good food could be found everywhere; although, the one thing I really wanted – an ice cream bar dipped in chocolate never happened. The first night I was told the machine was broken and the second game I was told they were out of chocolate. Whatever…

The worse part about the stadium was getting out of it. It took us nearly an hour to get out of the parking lot the first night and we were told, this is pretty much the norm. And I thought Dodger stadium was bad; but at least no one got beat up in Texas… (What's that all about?)

All in all, it was an awesome trip. In preparation for our trip, I contacted several bloggers from both Kansas City and Texas and I would like to thank all of them for their suggestions and help. Our trip was that much better because of their willingness to provide insight and recommendations.

In no particular order, I would like to thank:

Brian McGannon of Royals Kingdom
Nick Scott of Broken Bat Single
Matt Kelsey of i70 Baseball
Wally Fish of Puckett's Pond
Dan Edmonson of Chicken Fried Baseball
Steve Helsing of 40 year Ranger Fan

About the Angels play... well, what can I say? They certainly gave Royal fans something to hope for in their team. To their credit, the Royals played well - but le't's face it; the Angels bullpen was simply awful. If this is the revamped bullpen that's supposed to be all that, well then... I'm not impressed.

I will say that Howie Kendrick looks like he's ready to become the player we hoped he would be one day and Jered Weaver looked like he was in mid-season form. The offense looks pretty good overall and right now it's all about the bullpen.

One more thing about the bullpen and more specifically Kevin Jepsen. I'm sorry, but his wearing #40 which was last worn by Troy Percival isn't sitting well with me. And to make it worse, Jepsen isn't doing anything to justify his wearing such a special number. Just saying.


  1. I wonder if the reason we traded Napoli is because no one wanted Mathis or Wood. Although, let's face it: Jeff's got a sweet deal in Anaheim. Where besides Wall Street can you crash and burn and then GET A RAISE??

  2. I hate to correct you, but Brian "Daisy" Fuentes wore #40 and disgraced it as well.