Recapping My 2015 Baseball Trip Part 1

Low and behold another venture across the country to see more MLB stadiums has come and gone. And another dandy of a trip it was. For the first time since the 2010 trip to Cleveland and Cincinnati, this trip required no air travel and I’ll admit it was a welcome change.

This year we set off for the Great Lakes region, making stops in Ohio, Michigan and across the border in Toronto, Ontario.

Monday June 15

After my dad, brother and uncle arrived in State College late Sunday night, we woke up early Monday morning and were on the road by 7:15 headed for Cleveland.  After some nourishment in Phillipsburg, two sausage egg and cheese Mcmuffins, we drove comfortably for the next three and a half hours until we arrived in Cleveland.  This was the day before Game 6 of the NBA Finals and I’ll admit I was tempted to hang around and try to score tickets. But this was a baseball trip, not a basketball one.

Our goal was to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before heading about an hour south to Canton for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. My dad has never seen either one, but myself, brother and uncle had stopped at the PFHOF way back in 2005 when our baseball trip was in its second year.

Shortly after getting to the RRHOF, however, we realized to truly experience it all, it would be an all day affair, so we nixed to trip to Canton. After all, It’s not terribly far from home and we could always go again.

The RRHOF was certainly a worthwhile stop and even for a casual fan of music and music history it was engrossing. Name your genre of music or time period and there was almost certainly a section for you. The largest sections in the place were devoted to Rock and Roll Gods like Elvis, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. There was also a surprisingly large Paul Simon section, but it turns out it was a special section for a select period of time.

One thing that I was scratching my head about was how much bigger Jay-Z’s section was than Metallica’s. I know they rearrange different displays from time to time, so I’m not sure if it was permanent or not, but I was a bit underwhelmed about how much Metallica stuff they had.

The pyramid-shaped design of the building can be a bit misleading because there is a TON to see inside, with most of the exhibits taking up the ground level. I enjoyed playing around with touchscreen displays that examined popular bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam and the notable artists who influenced them.


By mid-afternoon we were starving, so using Man Vs. Food and Diners Drive-ins and Dives to find the best places to eat in Cleveland, we settled on The Melt. I’d never heard of the place, but my brother had heard about it and it was an excellent choice (although my dad would disagree).

The restaurant caters to grilled cheese lovers, and while I was hesitant at first, my chicken parm sandwich, known as the Parma Italy by their menu, was sensational. If I do have one regret, or if I ever get back to Cleveland, I’ll definitely be trying the chicken and waffles. The table next to us ordered several of them and it looked phenomenal, perhaps even better than my sandwich.

Since it only stayed open until 5:30, which was a bit surprising, we spent two and a half hours after lunch back at the RRHOF until it closed.  We were out of the city by six. Truth be told there wasn’t a whole lot to see in the Cleveland anyway, so it was better to hit the road.

We drove to our hotel in Huron, Ohio by 7. I was exhausted, so I passed out on the bed almost immediately. After a brief rest, we ate bar food at  the local “hot spot” the  Main Street Tavern, after another place just next door to the hotel was too busy. After food, we meandered around the docks at the Harbor, where a huge sport-fishing boat from Florida was docked, then went back to the hotel where I watched the Blackhawks win another Stanley Cup and hit the hay. A successful first day.

Tuesday June 16    

After a quick glimpse of a sun-splashed Lake Erie and brief encounter with Cedar Point, which I will certainly visit in full at another time, it was off to Ann Arbor, a town I’ve always wanted to visit, primarily to see how it stacked up to State College.

After a two hour drive, that included a brief stop at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge (my dad couldn’t resist) we arrived in the town of Jim Harbaugh with several hours to spare before we had to be in Detroit for Tigers-Reds.

After utilizing Man vs. Food once again as a reference for a place to eat, we settled on Maize and Blue Deli on University Avenue. The menu covered an entire section of the restaurant and I nearly had to read it for about ten minutes, it was that diverse and thorough. I eventually settled for the massive and delicious Maize & Blue Awning, which combined my two favorite cold cuts, turkey and roast beef.

turkey and roast beef

Another satisfying lunch in the books, we strolled around a couple blocks before eventually getting in the car to take a picture by the stadium. Ann Arbor’s downtown, from what I saw, seemed slightly more modern. By that I mean, it just seemed like there was newer buildings and sidewalks, but I need to explore further. There was plenty of shops similar to what you would find in State College, and the street we were walking on lead into the Greek neighborhood, again not unlike State College.

Barely saw any of the campus, but parts of it looked like it ran right into downtown, similar to Eugene and the University of Oregon. The stadium. which as Google Maps aptly describes it as “massive,” was a good bit away from downtown and was surrounded by a gate, which appeared to house a concourse for fans to walk around. Unlike last year when we could walk right on the damn field at University of Washington’s Stadium, Michigan had it’s facility blocked off from public access, so the scoreboard and landscaping outside was the best I could see.


Unlike Beaver Stadium, which towers across the State College landscape from a distance, Michigan’s stadium is only distinctly recognizable by the huge scoreboards with the block M. It appears that fans walk into the stadium at the top and walk down into the stadium bowl to their seats. I certainly will be returning for a game here to see what the gameday experience is like.

My glimpse of Ann Arbor was brief but worthwhile and while it would’ve been cool to hit up Lansing to check out Michigan State, we needed to make it to Detroit.

Traffic wasn’t bad and we made it to Detroit in just under one hour. The city’s skyline didn’t jump out at me, and it’s understandable with the bankruptcy the city experienced.With about three and a half hours to first pitch, we made our way to the box office to snag tickets, despite the best efforts of the typical scalpers.

Tickets secured we drove to the hotel,a Doubletree by Hilton for a quick rest. It was a very nice hotel, despite the rest of downtown Detroit appearing fairly desolate. If you’re ever headed to Detroit, I wouldn’t buy into the”crime is everywhere and it’s so dangerous” message for the downtown area. Now are there worse areas?Sure. But why they hell would you venture there if you didn’t need to?

After our rest, we took a shuttle from the hotel to the ballpark. For rush hour, there was traffic, but nothing like your would see in Philadelphia or New York City. Comerica Park opened in 2000, but still looks just as nice as some of the recent stadiums that have opened in the last several years. One thing that stood out to me from the outside was how many fierce tiger sculptures resided along the outer walls of the stadium.


Around the stadium was fairly lively, with a couple outdoor gathering spots where food and drink could be had for a reasonable price. I enjoyed a beer in the outside expanse of Chris Chelios’ place and talked about the local scene, both sports-wise and socio-economically(it wasn’t a deep discussion) about Detroit with a friendly guy from Flint, Michigan. Prior to walking inside Comerica, we also were able to walk in the atrium lobby of Ford Field.


One of the things I noticed inside Comerica was how many concession stands were closed. Even on the first level there was several beer stands that just weren’t open. While it wasn’t a sell-out, there was still a robust crowd. I’m guessing the economic downturn in the city has left a lack of available job applicants. The food selections that were open were pretty meager too. In fact it was pretty lame. Considering I was relying on the concessions for dinner, I was hoping for a more diverse menu than Little Caesars, nachos or burgers and hot dogs. I ended up going for nachos and a hot dog.

Our seats provided a good view of the downtown skyline and a direct view of the GM tower, which would change colors every so often.  Just over left field was the imposing presence of Ford Field and it served a reminder of just how much bigger football stadiums are than baseball.



One of the creepiest sightings, however, was the abandoned Book Tower, which was just out of the primary downtown view if you were looking straight ahead. When I turned to my right to look over my shoulder, I could clearly see it. How could I tell it was abandoned? There wasn’t a single light on in the place. Plus, it was built in the 1920s and the architecture hasn’t changed one bit.

After the Reds defeated the Tigers, we grabbed some more pictures then headed outdoors to wait for the shuttle. After about ten minutes, we got tired of waiting and started to to walk back to the hotel. Was I nervous walking through downtown Detroit at night? Yes. But, honestly, after a few minutes I realized once again how empty it was in that part of the city. Just really starting for a major metropolis and probably unthinkable if you were to go back about 30 years or so. It’s a real shame what happened to Detroit and I hope the city gets back on its feet soon.

NFL Week 4 Selections

We’re at the quarter pole of the NFL season already. Wow, time sure does fly when you sit back and watch football for 10 hours every Sunday. I continue to stink at making selections, but at least the Eagles picked themselves off the mat last week.

Last Week 7-9

Season 19-27

Ravens at Steelers The Pick: Ravens -3  So much for a “marquee” Thursday night game. The 0-3 Ravens travel to the Big Ben-less Steelers. I just can’t see Baltimore going 0-4.

Jets at Dolphins* in London  The Pick: Dolphins -2 I doubt I’ll be waking up early for this one.

Jaguars at Colts  The Pick: Colts -9  If the Colts don’t blow these guys out, I’m done thinking about them as a legit contender in the AFC.

Texans at Falcons  The Pick: Falcons -7   I will be adding Julio in daily fantasy this week.

Panthers at Bucs  The Pick: Bucs +3.5 I just don’t believe in the Panthers

Giants at Bills The Pick: Giants +5.5  The Bills win a nailbiter here.

Raiders at Bears  The Pick: Bears +3  I know the Raiders are fun to watch again, but if Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffrey are back this week, I think the Bears get off the snide.

Eagles at Redskins The Pick: Eagles -3.5  Weather permitting, as everyone is closely monitoring Hurricane Joaquin Phoenix. I think the Eagles win this week, and they might even attempt a deep pass or two!

Chiefs at Bengals  The Pick: Bengals -4.5  Big Red needs this one, but Cincy is too good.Plus, Alex Smith just isn’t good enough.

Browns at Chargers  The Pick: Chargers -7.5 I’m officially not picking San Diego on anymore road games. I will keep picking them at home against the Browns, however.

Packers at 49ers  The Pick: Packers -9.5  Aaron Rodgers should have an easy day.

Vikings at Broncos  The Pick: Broncos -7  Teddy Bridgewater against the Denver defense on the road? No thank you.

Rams at Cardinals  The Pick: Cardinals -7  The Cardinals are the best team in the NFC.

Cowboys at Saints  The Pick: Cowboys+4.5  I said before Dallas will tread water without Romo and Bryant. That means I think they will win this one, with a banged up Drew Brees on the other side.

Lions at Seahawks  The Pick: Seahawks -10  I have to start Matt Stafford in fantasy this week because Brady has the bye. I’ll be taking a loss I think.







NFL Week 3 Selections

Two weeks in and I haven’t been able to get past the 6 win mark. Somewhat unfortunately, I’m not sure the Eagles will be able to get past the 6 win mark either this year. Hell about the 6 point mark in the first half this Sunday?? Incredible the nose dive this team has taken. It’s been a misreable start for the Eagles and a below-average one for me in 2015. Let’s get back on track in Week 3.

Last Week: 6-8

Season 12-18

Redskins at Giants  The Pick: Giants -3.5 Both teams have looked more competent than the Eagles which is downright scary. The Giants wont blow this game, but they certainly may try.

Steelers at Rams  The Pick: Steelers -2 Rams look to rebound after a terrible loss to Washington, but the Steelers have too much on offense.

Chargers at Vikings The Pick: Chargers +2.5  I was wrong about both of these teams last week. I dont know why, but I’ll pick San Diego on the road again.

Bucs at Texans  The Pick: Bucs+6.5   The Saints might be terrible, but that was a pretty surprsing win by Tampa last week. I’ll take them to cover this week.

Eagles at Jets  The Pick: Eagles +3 No explanation needed. This is arguably the Eagles final chance to get it turned around. And it wont be easy.

Saints at Panthers  The Pick: Panthers -6.5  I have trouble seeing the Panthers winning this by a touchdown, but I have trouble seeing the Saints look decent, especially with a banged up Drew Brees.

Jaguars at Patriots  The Pick: Jags +14  New England wins, but the Jags score some garbage points to cover.

Bengals at Ravens  The Pick: Ravens -2.5   Baltimore has to rebound after the stinker in Oakland.

Raiders at Browns  The Pick:  Browns -3.5   Only Cleveland can screw up its starting quarterback situation this bad. An its not even a promising situation in the first place.

Colts at Titans  The Pick: Colts -3.5   This Colts team is a mess, but should pull this one out.

Falcons at Cowboys  The Pick: Falcons +2  I think Dallas actually treads water without its best offensive players. But Atlanta squeaks by another NFC East team this week.

49ers at Cardinals  The Pick: Cardinals -6.5 The Cards are legit and could be the NFC’s best team, not just the NFC West.  How would the Eagles look if Bruce Arians were the Eagles coach? Food for thought.

Bears at Seahawks  The Pick: Bears +15   PLUS 15?? WOW. Seahawks cruise in this one.

Bills at Dolphins  The Pick: Dolphins -2.5  These two mediocre AFC East teams are who we thought they were.

Broncos at Lions  The Pick: Broncos -3.5 Peyton is not dead yet. By the way, odd matchup for SNF. When was the last time the Lions hosted a Sunday nighter?

Chiefs at Packers  The Pick: Packers -7  Aaron Rodgers reminds everyone how the 2005 Draft should’ve went.

NFL Week 2 Selections

It’s 1:40 a..m. on a Sunday. I just watched roughly seven straight hours of college football. Let’s make some NFL Picks.

As you will note, I forgot to do this on Thursday, thus forgot to take the Chiefs outright. Oh well. I wont count that as a loss. Thursday games are dumb anyway, although the ending to Chiefs-Broncos was straight bonkers.

Last Week: 6-10

Season 6-10

Texans at Panthers:  The Pick: Panthers -3 It’s week 2 and BOB is already changing the QB. The Texans offense is not good.

Bucs at Saints  The Pick: Saints -10  Drew Brees and Co. should light it up against the horrendous Tampa D.

49ers at Steelers The Pick: Steelers -6.5 Pittsburgh picks itself off the map. Short week plus long travel for San Fran = No Bueno.

Lions at Vikings The Pick: Lions +2  The Vikings offense needs a lot of work.

Patriots at Bills  The Pick: Patriots -1   This should be a fun one.

Cardinals at Bears The Pick: Cardinals -2  The Cards might be the best team in the NFC West.

Titans at Browns  The Pick: Titans -2  Now I know why Chip wanted to trade half the team for Marcus.

Chargers at Bengals  The Pick: Chargers +3.5  Meh this is more a toss-up.

Falcons at Giants  The Pick: Falcons +2.5  Not sure if the Giants can recover from that monumental Week 1 disaster.

Ravens at Raiders The Pick: Ravens -7   Baltimore in a rout.

Dolphins at Jaguars  The Pick: Dolphins -6.5  The Dolphins SHOULD win this fairly easily.

Cowboys at Eagles  The Pick: Eagles -5.5 I wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles still look sloppy tomorrow. Chip is 0-2 at home against Dallas in his tenure. Please win this damn game.

Seahawks at Packers  The Pick: Green Bay -3.5  Total revenge game for the Pack.

Jets at Colts The Pick: Colts -7 Indy gets back on track after a miserable Week 1.

The Eagles Will Win the Super Bowl This Year; But Maybe They Wont

This time last year, I wrote that I was confident that Chip Kelly would bring a Super Bowl to Philadelphia. After the most perplexing and emotionally-challenging off-season in Eagles history,(I doubt we’ll ever see such roster upheaval again) I still have faith that Chip will bring a Lombardi Trophy to South Philly, but likely not for another year.

That being said, 2015 has a chance to be a TON of fun if the glimpses we saw in the preseason are any indication. Three stud running backs, pinpoint accurate Sam Bradford, a dominant front seven, with an excess of productive linebackers (whoever thought we would see too many good linebackers on the Eagles back in Andy Reid’s heyday?) a moderately weak schedule, no more Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher… the list goes on and on for why this team could soar this year.

But while the group of local and national media pundits, penciling the Eagles in Santa Clara this February grows by the day, I think 2016 is more likely. Here are a few reasons why:

Sam Bradford

Forget the health. Let’s just see this guy play a full season and make sure he’s truly a good fit for the offense. The preseason got me excited, but it was only that, preseason. Back to the health real quick, I think he plays all 16 games this year.

Depth concerns

Outside linebacker, safety and offensive line are pretty thin depth-wise. If a Connor Barwin or Malcolm Jenkins were to go down I’m not sure the Birds could recover at those two crucial positions. Nickel corner, whether it’s rookie Eric Rowe, Ej Biggers or Nolan Carroll also could be a position that hampers the team throughout the year, with Brandon Boykin now in a place “That Wins.”

Chip Kelly is a Racist and All the Players Hate Him

Just kidding. Other than DeflateGate, this may be the most tired and preposterous story of the off-season. He’s clearly not trying to be buddy buddy with the players, but rather their boss, which is how it should be.

Defense Plays Too Much and Wears Down

This will likely be the biggest factor keeping Chip from winning the Super Bowl in his NFL tenure. They could score 500-plus points this year, but if the defense is beaten down by Week 14, will they have enough to make a deep playoff run?

Bottom line, I need to see Chip actually win a playoff game before I can pencil them in the Super Bowl. It’s exciting the see the potential of what he’s building, now that he’s got full player personnel control. I was definitely skittish when he wrestled control away from Howie Roseman.  A solid year with a deep playoff run, plus adding more key players at areas of weakness in the coming off-season will set this team up in even better shape in 2016.

Last year, I compared Chip to Pete Carroll, a college coach who came back to the NFL and slowly but surely built a dominant team. In Carroll’s third season in Seattle they went to the second round  and lost a heart-breaker to Atlanta. Still, the Seahawks were clearly a team on the rise, behind a young and dominant defense. They won the Super Bowl the following year in one of the most dominant performances ever.

In Chipadelphia, everything moves fast. If he wins the Super Bowl this year, in just his third year, after a complete roster turnover and never even winning a playoff game, it will be a monumental task and the statue will be constructed. Slow and steady will win the Super Bowl and I believe this team has a bit more developing to do. While I say this ever year, I’m not too discouraged in saying this now because I truly relive it will happen: Wait til next year Eagles fans.

Official Prediction 11-5 and lose to Seattle in NFC Championship

2015 NFL Season Predictions

I just watched about eight hours of college football, including nearly three painstakingly long hours watching Penn State. I need a brief reprieve. So let’s spend it talking about the NFL! It is now just after midnight on Sept. 13. The NFL season, despite beginning on Thursday, truly begins today with the first full Sunday slate of games. Three fantasy leagues, a purchase of DirectTV’s Sunday Ticket for the first time ever and over $30 “invested” in Fanduel and Draftkings. Yeah, I guess you could say I’m ready for the season.

P.S. NFL I hate you for making the Eagles on Monday night, when I have to work!!

The Internet is already oversaturated with NFL predictions and previews, so let me make this short and sweet.

MVP: Tom Brady

Defensive Player of the Year: Luke Kuechly (This is basically who I think will win if JJ Watt doesn’t, a la who will will NL Cy Young if Kershaw doesn’t).

Offensive Player of the Year: Antonio Brown

Coach of the Year: Chip Kelly

Comeback Player of the Year: Sam Bradford

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Amari Cooper

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Randy Gregory

Biggest Free Agent Bust: Ndamukong Suh

Team Likely to Earn the No.1 Draft Pick: Redskins

Biggest Baffoon: Roger Goodell

NFC Division Winners

Eagles 11-5 (2)

Packers 10-6 (3)

Saints 9-7 (4)

Seahawks 11-5 (1)

NFC Wild Cards 

Detroit 10-6 (5)

Arizona 9-7 (6)

NFC Wild Card

Cardinals over Packers

Lions over Saints

NFC Divisional Round

Seahawks over Cardinals 

Eagles over Lions

NFC Championship 

Seahawks over Eagles

AFC Division Winners

Patriots 12-4 (1)

Ravens 10-6 (3)

Colts 12-4 (2)

Broncos 11-5 (4)

AFC Wildcards

Chargers 10-6 (5)

Dolphins (9-7) (6)

AFC Wildcard Round

Ravens over Dolphins

Chargers over Broncos (Sorry Peyton)

AFC Divisional Round

Chargers over Patriots

Colts over Ravens

AFC Championship Game

Colts over Chargers

Super Bowl 50 

Seahawks over Colts

NFL Week 1 Picks

Hello. Football has returned and so has my annual guessing game of picking weekly matchups. I’ll be using Sportsbook again and will try to post these on Thursday to account for the weekly Thursday game.

Week 1 is always impossible to figure out, it’s basically March Madness for the NFL. So here comes a lot of off-the-wall guesses.

Steelers at Patriots  The Pick: Patriots -7  Pissed off Tom Brady. That’s the only reason anyone needs to make this pick.

Packers at Bears  The Pick: Bears +7  Green Bay is still picking up the pieces from the NFC Championship game debacle.

Chiefs at Texans  The Pick: Texans -1  Andy Reid never does well in openers, or so I’ve heard.

Browns at Jets  The Pick: Jets -3   Man this will be a tough one to watch.

Colts at Bills  The Pick: Colts-3  I know the Colts defense isn’t spectacular, but I’m surprised they aren’t getting enough fantasy play against Tyrod Taylor of all people this week.

Dolphins at Redskins  The Pick: Dolphins -4  Despite the Eagles never winning a Super Bowl, I’ll much more thankful to be a fan of them, rather than that mess of an organization on DC.

Panthers at Jaguars  The Pick; Jaguars +3.5  Throwing poop at a wall here.

Seahawks at Rams  The Pick: Seahawks -4.5 No offense to Nicky Franchise, but Seattle should win this one by about a TD.

Saints at Cardinals  The Pick: Saints +3  I feel like this year is the last shot for Drew Brees and Co.

Lions at Chargers  The Pick: Chargers -3  Could the Bolts overtake the Broncos for the AFC West crown, in possibly their last year in San Diego? Will be fascinating to see.

Titans at Bucs  The Pick: Bucs -3 Think Mariota plays better than Jameis, but Tampa plays a better overall game.

Bengals at Raiders The Pick: Bengals -3.5  This LOOKS like the easiest pick of the day.

Ravens at Broncos  The Pick:  Broncos -5  I’m still trying to figure out why Baltimore is a Super Bowl favorite?

Giants at Cowboys The Pick: Cowboys -6 The Giants will score, but Dallas will put up more points.

Eagles at Falcons  The Pick: Eagles -3  Worried about the Eagles secondary still, but think this offense has no problem with the Falcons D.

Vikings at 49ers  The Pick: 49ers +2.5   San Fran will be awful this year, but they take this one in a close game.