The 10,000 Step Club – 2020 Edition

Last year, as I was finishing up my fourth year with the Fitbit, I took my last look at my 25 best step days since I first started tracking my steps way back in July of 2011.  At the time, I had surpassed the 10,000 step plateau 217 times.  In the past year, I have managed to add an additional 45 occurrences, my 3rd best year to date, for a total of 262.  With my fifth year using the Fitbit coming to an end last week, I thought it would be appropriate to take a new look at my top 25 step days over the past 8 1/2 years, featuring only 3 new entries.

1: 4/14/2018 – 27,470 steps

My best single day total is from my April 2017 trip to New York to see Angelina.  The day’s excursions included trips to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, Central Park, the Guggenheim museum, and the Empire State Building.

2: 7/21/2018 – 27,278 steps

My July 2017 trip to Virginia, to hike up Catawba Mountain to McAfee Knob with Jeff and Val, fell just short of the top spot.

3: 6/6/2013 – 24,988 steps

2013’s trip to Disney World, which spent 5 years as my single day best, included excursions to both Epcot Center and the Magic Kingdom, and yes, falling 12 steps short of 25,000 still irks me.

4: 6/3/2019 – 24,665 steps

The first new entry comes thanks to last summer’s trip to Washington DC, and the day spent at the Smithsonian Zoo.

5: 8/8/2019 – 23,866 steps

The second new entry is from last summer’s work trip out to San Francisco and the day I walked to Pier 39 and then back to Oracle Park to see the Giants take on the Phillies.  It would have been even higher but I was dead tired and took an Uber back to the hotel after the game.

6: 3/18/2018 – 23,780 steps

Dropping out of the top 5 after only 1 year is my first day in Las Vegas for the 2017 IBM Think conference.  The day’s totals include gallivanting around town, including a trip up to Caesar’s Palace from the MGM Grand to see Absinthe.

7: 10/24/2018 – 23,362 steps

My October 2018 trip to Boston to see Angelina for our birthday gives us our next entry.  While she was in class, I took tours of Fenway Park and Harvard, before meeting up with her for a late lunch and then heading to the airport for the trip home.

8: 3/22/2016 – 22,493 steps

My one-time second highest day took place during the ill-fated trip to Disney World in March of 2016.  The day’s excursion started at Hollywood Studios before heading over to Epcot Center with Jeff and Val.

9: 7/27/2013 – 20,592 steps

Still my highest total at home in the state of Illinois, the next entry comes thanks to the 2013 BTN 5K and a, for lack of a better word, misunderstanding about where I should be picked up after the race.

10: 12/29/2018 – 20,374 steps

We wrap up the top 10 with 2018’s trip to California and the trip to Disneyland to see Danny perform with the Lincoln-Way Marching Band.

11: 8/5/2017 – 20,218 steps

The next entry came in August of 2017 on the first day of my trip to Boston with Danny and Michael.  After landing in town, we traipsed to the Science Museum, a breakfast joint, our hotel, and, finally, Fenway Park.

12: 7/14/2017 – 20,208 steps

Down to #12 is my 2017 trip to Disney World, a one day journey with Angelina to celebrate her high school graduation. Continue reading →

Ballpark Tour: Padres

Spring training is right around the corner as we continue our tour of all of the baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. Today we travel to southern California for the baseball homes of the San Diego Padres. Between the two stadiums that have been located in the paradise that is San Diego, I’ve seen 4 games. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with Qualcomm Stadium and PETCO Park.

Stadium Name: Jack Murphy Stadium/Qualcomm Stadium

Years in Service: 1969 – 2003

Visits: 1

San Diego Stadium opened on August 20, 1967 as the home of the AFL’s Chargers and opened for baseball the following spring for the final season of the minor league San Diego Padres.  The following season, San Diego’s expansion team, also named the Padres, moved in and stayed as the main tenants until the end of the 2003 season.  The stadium was renamed in 1980 for local sportswriter Jack Murphy, who had championed support for the building of the stadium, after he passed away.  That name stuck until 1997, when the naming rights were sold to technology company Qualcomm.

In 2003, I was in San Diego for what, to date, was my 3rd and final Comic Con.  On the afternoon of July 17, I skipped out on the con and took the trolley out to Mission Valley to take in the day’s contest between the Padres and the Diamondbacks.  I don’t remember much about the game, which the Diamondbacks won handidly 9-1, other than Curt Schilling taking the bump for the Dbacks.  The park, one of the last remaining cookie cutter stadiums that popped up in the late 60s and early 70s and designed to house both baseball and football teams while doing service to neither, did not really register one way or the other and hold’s no particular space in my memory.  I do seem to remember a giant outdoor escalator, but that might have been Candlestick.

Stadium Name: PETCO Park

Years in Service: 2004 – Present

Visits: 3

After 35 seasons at the Murph, the Padres moved downtown in 2004 with the opening of PETCO Park.  The new stadium was initially supposed to open for the 2002 season, but legal battles and political tomfoolery delayed the project for two years.  The first event held at PETCO Park was an NCAA invitational tournament hosted by San Diego State University, whose head coach was former Padres great Tony Gwynn.  The Padres themselves christened the stadium on April 8 with a 10 inning victory over the Giants.

With the Cubs, coming off their surprising run towards the NL title in 2003, scheduled for a weekend series at the newly opened PETCO Park in the middle of May in 2004, a trip out to the coast was in order.  The Cubs swept the three game series against the Padres, and a tremendous weekend was had.  The new park was a vast improvement over the old Jack Murphy.  One of these days, I’ll need to take a return trip.

Ballpark Tour: Giants

Spring training is a little less than a month away as we continue our tour of all of the baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. Today we travel west to the Bay area for the baseball homes of the San Francisco Giants.  Between the two stadiums that have been located in and around San Francisco, I’ve seen 2 games. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with Candlestick Park and AT&T Park.

Stadium Name: 3 Com Park

Years in Service: 1960 – 1999

Visits: 1

When the New York Giants moved west in 1958, the city of San Francisco began constructing a new ballpark for them, and Candlestick Park was born. The stadium opened in 1960 and was the home of the now-San Francisco Giants through the 1999 season. Along the way, the stadium has also played host to the Oakland Raiders, the San Francisco 49ers, dozens of commercials and movies, and, in 1965, the final commercial concert appearance by the Beatles.

In September of 1999, I headed out to the Bay Area to visit an old friend. One of the items on our agenda was to head out to Candlestick, which had been renamed 3Com Park by this point, to see a game before the Giants moved to their new home the following season. With only 13 home games left on the schedule, we set out to see the Giants take on the Phillies on September 2. The Giants, behind starter Joe Nathan, defeated the Phillies 3-2 on a cool autumn afternoon.

Stadium Name: AT&T Park/Oracle Park

Years in Service: 2000 – Present

Visits: 2

After flirting with a move to Tampa Bay, the Giants opened Pacific Bell Park in 2000 after 40 seasons at Candlestick Park. The ballpark was the first stadium built without public funds since the completion of Dodger Stadium in 1962. The stadium was renamed SBC Park in 2003 and then finally AT&T Park in 2006 thanks to the corporate upheaval in the telecommunications world. In April 2010, the stadium became the first MLB ballpark to receive LEED Silver Certification for Existing Buildings, Operations and Maintenance.

In May of 2008, I made my second trip out to Bay Area, this time to attend the Java One conference. The week started with the A’s in town while the Giants returned home for a weekend series, so I adjusted my schedule so that I could attend games at both stadiums. Friday night, after most of the techies had left town, I hopped on the bus down to AT&T Park to see the Giants, once again, take on the Phillies. I dropped some major coin for the best tickets in the house, which got me in a box between home plate and the Phillie dugout and a prime spot on the evening’s telecast. The Phillies, on their way to a World Series championship, defeated the Giants 7-4.

This past August, I mage my third trip to San Francisco, this time for a trip to one of our affiliates for talks about their entry into the broader corporate umbrella.  Wouldn’t you know it, but the Phillies were in town once again.  With Madison Bumgarner on the bump, the Giants shut down the Phillies as I took in the game a mere 3 rows behind the Giants dugout.

2019: The Year In Travel

Once again, I thought it would be nice to look back at the many trips I took this year.  As you may recall from last year‘s wrap-up, the year began in California.

New Year’s Day was spent in Pasadena for the Rose Parade, where Danny and the Lincoln-Way Marching Band were performing.  Lucky for them, they were slotted right after the float that caught on fire and eventually mucked up the entire end of the parade.  However, they were able to march around the disabled float and keep things moving for the time being.  The next day we went to the California ScienCenter, where we were able to see artifacts from King Tut’s tomb and the space shuttle Endeavor, and the beach before heading home.

And home is where I stayed for a whole month before heading out to Hawaii in February.  I arrived that first Saturday in February, checking out my surroundings around the resort and down Waikiki Beach after the long flight.  Monday, I took a tour of the island of Oahu, with stops at Hanauma Bay, Nu’uanu Pali lookout, Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, Sunset Beach, Waimea Falls, and the Dole Plantation.  Tuesday, I took in a whale watching cruise, where we were able to see multiple whales surfacing during the excursion.  Thursday, I traveled over to Pearl Harbor and all of the associated attractions and museums.  Come the following Saturday, it was time to head home on an overnight flight that got me in town very early Sunday morning.

Come June, the whole family headed east to celebrate Michael’s graduation.  We flew into Baltimore, where Dennis, the boys, and I went to breakfast before heading to Camden Yards to see the Orioles take on the Giants.  On the way to the stadium, we stopped at the grave site of Edgar Allen Poe and the Babe Ruth Birthplace & Museum.  After the game, we walked to the local bus depot, where we caught a bus to Washington DC for the remainder of the trip.

Continue reading →

Ballpark Tour: A’s

With the offseason underway, we continue our tour of all of the different baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. This week, we return to the Bay Area to look at the Oakland A’s. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with the originally-named Oakland Coliseum.

Stadium Name: McAfee/Network Associates Coliseum

Years in Service: 1968 – Present

Visits: 2

The Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum opened in 1966 as the home of the Oakland Raiders.  Two years later, Charlie Finley moved his A’s from Kansas City to Oakland and became the baseball tenant of the stadium.  In 1998, the stadium became known as Network Associates Coliseum.  In mid-2004, Network Associates was renamed McAfee and the stadium was renamed McAfee Coliseum accordingly.  Following the 2008 season, the name reverted back to Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum until April 27, 2011, when it was renamed Overstock.com Coliseum. Just over a month later, the Coliseum was renamed O.co Coliseum, after Overstock.com’s marketing name.  The A’s have officially been looking for a new home since 2005, with Major League Baseball sitting on a feasibility study for over 4 years on the team’s potential future in the East Bay.

Both times I’ve traveled to the Bay area, I’ve taken in both Giants and A’s games.  My first trip to what at the time was called Network Associates Coliseum was on September 6, 1999 while I was out west visiting my friend Scott.  The Tigers triumphed over the A’s that day, and my one memory of the stadium is that the seats were not necessarily positioned in such a way as to face the field for baseball purposes.

My second trip to the Bay area, for the JavaOne conference in 2008, actually started out with a BART trip out to Oakland for a 2-1 A’s victory over the Orioles on May 5th.  The A’s had opnened up three sections of the third deck as designated All-You-Can-Eat seats, where, for the price of the ticket, free ballpark fare was included.  While I enjoyed the novelty of the free foodstuffs, the seats, while directly behind home plate, were horrible.  Leaving early in order to catch the train back to San Francisco led to the problem of trying to get out of the stadium, since none of the gates were open.

The A’s have spent over a decade trying to find a new home, and with good reason.  The Coliseum was mainly configured for the Raiders, who will be leaving town soon, and the A’s have been second class citizens in their own home for decades.  Until a new stadium is built, or the team moves to another city, the A’s will continue to be behind the 8-ball.

The Decade In Baseball – Team Records

The 2010s have drawn to a close and its time to take a look back at the previous decade.  Today, we are starting with baseball, specifically the performance of all 30 MLB teams in games I attended between 2010 and 2019.  Locally, things were good on the north side of town, as the Cubs finished their rebuild with 3 straight NLCS appearances in the middle of the decade, including a World Series championship in 2016.  It was much bleaker on the south side, as the White Sox failed to compete after a late collapse in 2012, finishing the decade on a string of 7 consecutive losing seasons.

I managed to take in 385 games over the past 10 years at 12 different stadiums from coast (Dodger Stadium) to coast (Fenway Park).  2010 was my high water mark, with 52 games, while 2013 and 2018 tied for the lowest total of the decade with only 29 games.

Games Per Year
Year Total Games
2010 52
2011 43
2012 33
2013 29
2014 35
2015 39
2016 39
2017 49
2018 29
2019 37

Two franchises went through the decade undefeated in games I attended, while another 2 teams went winless.  Both local teams finished just a shade under .500.  The White Sox are far and away the team I saw most often, while the Diamondbacks bring up the rear with only 2 appearances over the past 10 years.

2019 Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Colorado Rockies 4 0 1.000
New York Mets 3 0 1.000
Boston Red Sox 9 3 0.750
New York Yankees 9 4 0.692
Washington Nationals 6 3 0.667
Houston Astros 6 3 0.667
Florida Marlins 2 1 0.667
Los Angeles Angels 9 5 0.643
Detroit Tigers 22 13 0.629
Pittsburgh Pirates 5 3 0.625
Kansas City Royals 21 17 0.553
Cleveland Indians 17 14 0.548
Toronto Blue Jays 8 7 0.533
Minnesota Twins 19 17 0.528
Oakland Athletics 7 7 0.500
St. Louis Cardinals 2 2 0.500
San Diego Padres 2 2 0.500
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 1 0.500
Chicago White Sox 159 164 0.492
Chicago Cubs 40 43 0.482
Continue reading →

Ballpark Tour: Orioles

With the offseason underway, we continue our tour of all of the different baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. This week, we head east for a look at the Baltimore Orioles, who I visited for the first time this summer. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my one game history with Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

 

 

Stadium Name: Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Years in Service: 1992 – Present

Visits: 1

After 38 seasons at Memorial Stadium following their move from St. Louis, the Orioles opened Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 1992.  It was the first of a wave of “retro” parks that would sprout up over the following 2 decades, changing the architecture of baseball.  The Orioles took the initial contest at the park, defeating the Indians 2-0 behind a Rick Sutcliffe shutout.

The stadium hosted its first All-Star Game in 1993.  On September 6, 1995, the park witnessed Cal Ripken surpass Lou Gehrig for consecutive games played and, on the same day in 1996, saw Eddie Murray smash his 500th career home run.  On April 29, 2015, the park hosted the first game in MLB history to be closed to fans, due to riots in Baltimore.

I made my first visit to the stadium this past summer, with the Orioles taking on their long time rival San Francisco Giants.  The game was kind of non-descript, as both teams were on a downward spiral, but I hope to make it back some day for a repeat performance.

Ballpark Tour: Dodgers

With the offseason underway, we continue our tour of all of the different baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. This week, we head to Chavez Ravine to take a look at the Los Angeles Dodgers, owners of the third oldest ballpark in the major leagues. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my one game history with Dodger Stadium.

 

 

Stadium Name: Dodger Stadium

Years in Service: 1962 – Present

Visits: 1

Following the 1957 season, the Dodgers fled Brooklyn and headed west to California, landing in Los Angeles. The team played in the LA Coliseum while they built a new stadium at Chavez Ravine. In 1962, 3 years after breaking ground, Dodger Stadium opened as the Reds topped the Dodgers in the season opener.

The following year, the Dodgers won their first World Series in their new home. Between 1962 and 1965, Sandy Koufax threw three no hitters at the stadium, including a perfect game against the Cubs. Four home runs have been hit out of Dodger Stadium, two of which were hit by Pirate great Willie Stargell.

Dodger Stadium is currently the third oldest park still in use, behind Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. I made my first visit to the stadium to see the second home game of the 2014 slate, with the Dodgers taking on their long time rival Giants. Thanks to traffic, I didn’t get to my seat until the 4th inning, by which point the Giants had secured a substantial lead. I sprung for decent seats, which put me down on the lower level. One odd thing about those lower sections were the aisles, which are so narrow that people could only go in one direction at a time. I did also manage to score a fabled Dodger Dog, or at least the all beef version of it. I hope to make it back some day for a repeat performance.

2019 Final Standings

For the second straight year, the Cubs faltered down the stretch and, for the first time since 2014, they failed to make the postseason, thus bringing my game-attending portion of the 2019 season to an end.  I made it to 37 games this season, my highest total since 2016.  I did manage to attend games at 7 different stadiums, my highest single season total and bringing my total up to 25.  Here are the final standings for those games and the 21 different teams I saw in person.

2019 Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
San Francisco Giants 2 0 1.000
Washington Nationals 2 0 1.000
New York Mets 1 0 1.000
Texas Rangers 1 0 1.000
Boston Red Sox 1 0 1.000
Toronto Blue Jays 2 1 0.667
Cleveland Indians 2 1 0.667
Los Angeles Angels 2 1 0.667
Chicago Cubs 6 5 0.545
New York Yankees 1 1 0.500
Oakland Athletics 1 1 0.500
Seattle Mariners 1 1 0.500
Minnesota Twins 1 1 0.500
Chicago White Sox 13 15 0.464
Continue reading →

Looking Ahead To 2020

Major League Baseball released their tentative 2020 schedule earlier this week.  While the local squads have differing goals in mind as 2019 winds down, with the Cubs struggling for their 8th straight trip to post-season and the White Sox playing out the string in year three of their rebuild, it’s time to turn our attention to next summer for both teams.

For the third year in a row, the White Sox open their season against the Royals, but will be at home for the first time.  They follow that with a trip to Cleveland and Boston.

The interleague schedule pits the White Sox against the NL West, with trips to Colorado, San Francisco, and San Diego and home series against the Rockies, Diamondbacks, and the Dodgers.  The rivalry with their north side foes continues with a 2 game series at home and a 2 game series at Wrigley Field, both in July in the weeks surrounding the All Star Break.

In August, they will travel to Iowa to battle the Yankees in the first Field of Dreams game, hosted where the film of the same name was filmed in 1989 and played in an 8000 seat stadium that will be inspired by the original Comiskey Park.

The season ends with 10 games against their Central Division rivals, which hopefully will be important.

On the north side, the Cubs open their season up north in Milwaukee, before returning home the following Monday to kick off the home portion of their schedule against the Pirates.

The interleague schedule pits the Cubs against the AL East, with trips to Baltimore, New York, and Toronto and home series against the Orioles, Red Sox, and the Rays.

In June, they will head to London for a two-game tilt against the Cardinals

The Cubs end the year with a 16 of their final 22 games against the NL Central, with 13 of those coming against the Pirates and the Cardinals, who are likely to challenge them for the NL Central crown.