Read the thrilling Part 1 here! Continuing on…
Score: Detroit 2, Ottawa 2
The only NHL game I’ve been to, and the last time I’ve been to Canada. Which, actually, almost didn’t happen. Growing up in northern Minnesota, we often went across the border, which was literally about a mile from my house. It was no big deal; you just spoke to the nice Border Patrol person, told them if you had anything to declare, and went about your business.
In 1996, Decipher was running regional tournaments for the Star Wars CCG, and I offered to fly to Ottawa to run the one there. Imagine my surprise when I found that, no, you don’t just spend a minute telling BP that you’re a nice person but actually need a passport. Wait, why are you taking me into this little room and questioning me? Yes, I’m flying here to run a card game tournament. Do you think anyone would make up a story like that?
After what I’m guessing was only about 10 minutes, they let me go. This was five years before 9/11, so I can only imagine that if I tried this now, it wouldn’t pass. I still don’t have a passport and haven’t left the country since.
Anyway, in my talks with the distributor who was looking after me while I was up there, I mentioned that I’d never been to an NHL game and would love to go. He got us tickets and that was that. The hometown Senators, who were off to their least-disastrous start in their brief team history, fell behind 2-0 against the powerful Red Wings, who would go on to win the first of consecutive Stanley Cups that year. The Senators evened things up with two goals in the third, and after a scoreless overtime, sent the fans home … well, reasonably happy, considering the two teams’ fortunes, prior to that season.
Also, just like at that Twins game in 1986, I got a commemorative cup from the game. Unlike the Kirby Puckett cup, this one has proven to be far more durable, and I still use it today:
It’s got some scratches from the years of use, but that player has always been faceless. Which always struck me as a little weird and creepy.
Score: New York 9, Milwaukee 5
I don’t remember if it was this Gen Con or the one in 1998, but for one of those Milwaukee was absolutely drenched with rain and it shut down the airport. I wasn’t with Decipher any more and was traveling on my own dime, but as it turned out, a lot of the Decipher people were on the same flights that I was, and we all got re-routed to Chicago, whereupon they rented a car and we all drove up to Milwaukee.
I could also swear we stopped at the Wendy’s over the freeway between Chicago and Milwaukee to grab something to eat. Like, it was literally on an overpass over I-94, but I can’t seem to find any photographic evidence on the internet. Did I imagine it?
As for the game itself, what I remember most was my former Decipher co-worker Tom, a Brewers fan, complaining about how the big-money Mets had just acquired Kenny Rogers, who was starting the game, while the small-market Brewers couldn’t afford that kind of help. I knew the Mets won the game, but looking at the box score, I see the Brewers’ starter, someone named Kyle Peterson, gave up 7 runs (6 earned) in three innings. Rogers wasn’t great, giving up 5 in 6 IP, but he had a much better career than Peterson.
Score: Minnesota 20, Miami 17
Tom figures into this story. I let him know that I wanted to see a Vikings game, and he arranged for his dad, a season ticket holder, to sell me a pair for this one. I went to Minneapolis, spent the weekend with my friend from college, Aaron, and we saw the game on Saturday. That night, we saw The Two Towers. The previous night, we watched the final-though-it-was-supposed-to-be-first episode of Firefly with Jeff, another college buddy. So yeah, pretty eventful weekend, pop-culture-wise.
As for the game itself, I remember two things. One, I saw Cris Carter play — for the Dolphins. He made the last catch of his career(!) that day … and fumbled it away. That drew a pretty loud cheer from the fans, and I will always say wasn’t just because the other team fumbled but because of who fumbled.
Anyway, in 2002, the Vikings employed still had Gary Anderson to handle short- to medium-length field goals, while punter Kyle Richardson handled kickoffs and well, we just didn’t attempt long field goals. Overall, the 2002 Vikings were 4-10 on kicks from 40-49 yards (3-8 by Anderson and 1-2 by Doug Brien, who I guess was with the team for a while) and just one attempt from 50+.
About that one attempt …
Naturally, Richardson got hurt during the game covering a kickoff. And, with just a few seconds left and the game tied, the Vikings trotted out Gary Anderson to attempt a 51-yard field goal that I don’t think anyone in the building thought he could make. My seats were lined up perfectly with the goal posts. When the kick sailed by, I could see that it had the distance, crossing the vertical yellow lines of the goal posts, but, for about half a second, I had no idea if it was good or wide.
After that half a second, the stadium erupted in cheers and I knew my answer.
Score: San Diego 4, Arizona 1
Another Comic-Con Padres game, this one taking place in the much more conveniently located downtown Petco Park. Well, the location was convenient, but getting on the train to go back to our hotel that weekend wasn’t. Seriously, 40k baseball fans plus a similar amount of convention-goers, blargh.
I was with Press Pass — or were we still JoyRide Entertainment at the time? — for this game, which we attended after a typically long day at the con. The game itself was unmemorable, though an interesting trivia bit is that Trevor Hoffman pitched in both this and my earlier Padres game, eight years prior. He blew the save in that one but converted successfully here.
What I recall the most was that we sat in the outfield bleachers. Bad seats for watching the game? Maybe. But what it did have was grass instead of cement flooring. After being on my feet for the better part of 12 hours, nothing felt better than taking off my shoes and socks and letting my tired toes enjoy the cool soil. (Unlike everything else in this post, this isn’t my pic)
Score: San Francisco 8, Atlanta 6
Yet another “convention special,” this one coming on the eve of Dragon*Con in 2006. My Press Pass co-worker Trevor and I went to this one, and I remember trying to convince him that Jeff Francoeur might not be a bad player, despite his poor on-base skills. I wish I had that argument to take back.
Also at the game were a couple of overly beefed-up studs. One was Kevin Sorbo, likely in town for the convention, who was spotted in the crowd and got put up on the big screen. The other I got a pretty good view of from our seats down the left field line:
Barry Bonds nonchalanted a fly ball in that game and dropped it for an error, prompting a razzing not dissimilar to that which Cris Carter received four years prior. I could swear I found a video of this exact play online a few years ago, but I can’t seem to find it now. Anyway, enjoy a few more pics (from my old digital camera) from that game, and the BP prior to it:
Score: Minnesota 6, Texas 4
Since moving to Maryland two years ago, I still haven’t gotten to see a Nationals or Orioles game, despite living pretty close to both stadiums. I should get around to that someday. It’s also the only game on this list I’ve been to by myself, though I did attend a few minor-league baseball games and one college football game on my own.
Until I do get out to seeing one of the local teams, this is the last game I’ve seen in person, and the only one I went to while living in Texas. Really, that was because the summertime heat was just brutal down there — hell, who am I kidding, it’s too hot in mid-April — and I didn’t fancy sitting in it for three-plus hours watching a baseball game. It looks like it was only around the mid-80s during the game, so I suppose I toughed it out.
I drove to the game, which was a mistake for Dallas on a weeknight evening. I left my apartment at 5:00 and got to my seat just before the first pitch at 7:07. It was a 25-mile drive, most of it on freeways. I also remember that my ticket — a pretty nice seat in the lower deck, first-base side — was only $20 including fees, and I bought it via Yahoo, which I will totally use again the next time I visit a game.
In what was probably one of his last effective starts in a Twins uniform Francisco Liriano threw six shutout innings before giving up a two runs in the seventh. I also remember Jim Thome flailing away helplessly at the Rangers’ left-handed starter, Cliff Lee in his first two at-bats and left-handed reliever Michael Kirkman in his fourth. For his third at-bat, Thome faced righty Alexi Ogando. Thome’s line for the game: 1-4, 1 HR, 3 Ks. I’ll leave it to you to figure out how that went.
Also, this is the only time I saw Joe Mauer play, so there’s that. More pics:
One final stat before I hit “Publish”: The home team is 5-5-1 in the 11 games I’ve been to, and I’m almost afraid to go to another game and break up that perfect balance. At the very least, if you invite me to go see a game with you, at least you don’t have to worry about me being back luck.