Wednesday, September 6, 2023

First Visit to Oriole Park at Camden Yards

First post of the year and it's September already.  You'd think I've been asleep like Rip Van Winkle!

This year, I've been watching more baseball on TV.  Several reasons have contributed to this: the pitch clock, Orioles being really good, and friends who watch the Birds religiously.

In my opinion, the pitch clock might be the main reason why MLB will become more popular and attract new fans.  I've watched plenty of MLB games on TV and this season's viewings have been a better experience.  I've also been to many Nationals games over the years but this O's game was different for sure.  

Gone are the days of the typically long 3 to 3.5 hour baseball games.  It still might happen occasionally but 2.5 hours is the new norm.  The action is back and the eyeballs stay glued to the pitcher's mound.

In the 15 years I've been in the DC metro area, I'd never made it to an O's game.  It was time to change that.  I met my friends in Baltimore City proper after work and by 6pm we were at Pickles Pub.  The place has been around for 35 years.  A cold beer on a pleasant August evening is all one can ask for before the battle of the birds.  The Blue Jays were in town.

After the beers, we headed inside the Oriole Park.  I got a proper tour and another cold beer while the game was delayed a bit due to the "inclement weather."  In reality, there was one rain shower that lasted 10 minutes.  Rest of the evening turned out perfect.

I got to walk down Eutaw Street.  There was the bronze statue of Babe Ruth and all the home run plaques including Ken Griffey Jr.'s (465 feet) on the warehouse from the 1993 home run derby.

We got pretty lucky with our seats.  They were 14 rows above the home plate and cost under $75 thanks to one of the ticket resale websites.

I was looking forward to seeing Kremer pitch but he was moved up a day, so we got to see Gibson on the mound.  I'm a fan of Mullins and Bautista and they both had good games.  Mullins pictured below battling the Puerto Rican pitcher, Berrios.

In the above photo, you can see Bautista pitching vs the 2023 home run derby champ, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.  The Battle of the Dominicans!

The Blue Jays went up 2-0 in the 4th inning.  In the bottom of the 4th, Santander hit a two-run home run to tie it up.  In the 5th, Mullins came through with a two-run homer for the O's.  Henderson drove in another run and the O's were up 5-2.  In the 6th, the Blue Jays smacked one out of the park to make it 5-3.  Bautista came in bottom of the 9th to relieve Gibson who went 8 and did well.  The Mountain struck out the last 3 Blue Jays and the Orioles won again!

As I said at the beginning, baseball is changing.  The happy fans left Camden Yards 2 hours and 15 minutes after the first pitch.  Looking forward to the playoffs and O's making a deep run like the Nats did in 2019!

Friday, December 22, 2017

The 7,000 Yard Challenge

While on vacation, I played a round at the La Reunion Golf Resort which annually hosts the PGA Latinoamérica Tour's Guatemala Stella Artois Open.

The PGA Latinoamérica is one of several third-tier tours.  It is a level below the Tour which directly feeds players into the PGA Tour.  From the championship tees the course plays 7,275 yards with a course rating of 75.4 and a slope rating of 150.  Typically, the courses I play are around 6,000 yards, rating below 70, and slope between 110 and 125.

Fuego Maya course scorecard

It was a really nice course.  It was not cheap.  A round with a cart, plus rental clubs, and a caddie came out to $200.  The price was quickly forgotten as I stepped onto the manicured fairways surrounded by three volcanoes!  The 75F temperature didn't hurt either.

Clouds hiding the volcano peak

I decided to play from the championship tees and try to break 100.  In the pro shop, I requested a caddie that spoke some English and they accommodated me.

I started out well by hitting the fairway and the green on the first hole.  Unfortunately I three putted for a bogey.  The second hole was a long 200 yard par 3 with an elevated green.  I ended up with a five.  I bogeyed the third hole and got my first par on the fourth that was a par 3.

The next hole was the hardest, a par 4 measuring 460 yards.  I earned my bogey.  The sixth had a blind tee shot.  I ended up hitting a straight drive but it landed in the adjacent fairway.  My second shot was a solid 3-wood.  I didn't reach the green and had a subpar chip.  The scorecard was marked with a double bogey.

Hole 7 was a long par 4.  I had a good drive and then a second shot with the 3-wood.  I ended up just short off the green and three putted from there for a bogey.  The next hole ended up being my first bad hole.  It was a double bogey but my drive was way right, the second shot wasn't good, and neither way my third.  I finally got on the green with my 4th shot from 80 yards out.

To end the front nine, I battled the 510 yard uphill par 5.  My drive ended up five yards left from the fairway and it just got more difficult from there.  I recorded a triple bogey.  I was +8 thru seven which was pretty good, but the last two holes pushed my score to 49.  I was on pace to break 100 but felt a bit disappointed based on how I finished the front nine.

It didn't get any easier on the back.  The 10th, a 427 dogleg to the right, was the toughest hole in my opinion.  The tee shot was downhill with a narrow landing area.  I managed to hit the fairway but from there it was all uphill literally and metaphorically speaking.  The second and third shots were poor.  After getting on the green, I three putted and a snowman (8) made it onto the scorecard.  That was my worst hole of the day.

I double bogeyed the next two holes.  One of them was a 219 par 3.  It was not looking good.  But I turned it around a bit by parring the par 5 12th.  The next hole was my best.  I hit the fairway and had a blind shot to the green.  It landed near the green but with all the mounds around, somehow the golf ball rolled down to the center off the green!  With the caddie's help, I sank the birdie putt.  Then I parred the next hole.

Made this birdie putt

The 16th was the signature hole.  It was a par 5, 682 yard.  I hit the fairway and had a good second shot.  From there, it could have been better.  My chip was not good and I three putted.


17th was a short par 3 and I hit it ten yards left off the green and got a bogey.  The last hole was a downhill par 4, 491 yards.  And wouldn't you know it, I pulled my drive way left and out of bounds.  I added a penalty stroke and teed it up again.  It was a straight shot.  I missed the green and two putted for a seven.

When the dust settled, my score came out to 98.  I did it, I broke 100 on a semi-pro course.  I played 15 holes at bogey golf but butchered the other three resulting in a +10.  But the only ten that really mattered was the 10 out of 10 golf experience.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Miami Weekend

DC temperatures have been reaching mid 90s daily.  The lady and I decided to head to the beach for the weekend.  She was unable to go to Mexico City because of work, so we booked a short weekend trip to Miami.

We left DCA Saturday morning.  A friend picked us up from the airport and we all went to Versailles, a well known Cuban restaurant, for lunch.  After lunch we were dropped off at our hotel on South Beach.  By early afternoon, we were catching some sun rays and swimming in the warm ocean.

People watching was also fun.

After the beach, we went to an outdoor bar on Ocean Drive and had two cocktails for ONLY $48!  What a steal, not.

In the evening, we went to Bunbury restaurant with our friend and her boyfriend.  Bunbury's empanadas each have a different filling and they were all delicious.  Afterwards we headed over to Lagniappe house/wine bar.  We had some drinks in the garden until a typical Miami rain shower made everyone run for the canapé covering the outdoor bar.

Sunday we started the day with another trip to the beach.  Cooling off in the water while small fish swim around you is as good as it gets.  At one point, few silver fish with yellow tails jumped above the water.

In the afternoon we went to downtown Miami for a stroll around the Bayside Marketplace.  It's an interesting place with a lot of bars, restaurants and people walking around the marina.

In the evening, we joined our friends at the Lido Bar at the Standard Hotel in Miami Beach.  The atmosphere was good but the view was even better.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Independence Day Weekend

I spent five days in Mexico City over the Independence Day weekend.  The overall trip was a success.  There were few minor issues but I'm glad I went.  Instead of writing a detailed trip report, I thought I'd let the photos do the talking.  Enjoy.

National Palace

Metropolitan Cathedral

Palace of Fine Arts

Paseo de la Reforma and the Angel of Independence

Chapultepec Castle

Chapultepec Castle Garden

Old Playing Cards

Street Performers

Pyramid of the Moon

Soumaya Museum

Bicycle Festival

View from the Monument to the Revolution

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Greetings from Mexico City!

The first half of 2017 is in the books.  In those six months the lady and I moved in together, then we got engaged, my nephew was born, and I played some golf and poker sporadically.  As for vacation and travel, there were only a few short trips to places I've visited before...until now.

My buddy suggested doing a trip to Mexico City few months ago.  His friend and her family live here.  At first, I was hesitant but since he speaks Spanish and we would be hanging out with locals, I agreed to go.

The flight was uneventful.  First thing I noticed after getting out of the airport was the traffic and chaos driving.  I'm not sure if the drivers are bad or the sheer amount of cars are to blame.  Let's move on to some positive things.

Yesterday we went to Teotihuacan, an ancient city located 25 miles northeast of Mexico City.  I'll write a more detailed post about the day trip and some road bumps along the way.  Walking the site and climbing the pyramids was a wonderful experience.

Pyramid of the Sun

Can you find me?

Dinner was in the upscale district of Polanco.  I tried Escamoles, a dish native to Central Mexico that was considered a delicacy by the Aztecs.  You might ask what is it and the answer would be...ant eggs and larvae aka insect caviar!  It tasted OK but the main dish, grilled octopus, was delicious.

Since I'm writing this on my phone, that's all for now.