We have been on the Great Baseball Road Trip for 10 years or 48 hours depending on how you look at it. The very first official GBRT was in 2000, a trip that took us and the same base crew to New York, Boston and Baltimore. In subsequent years, some trips have been limited to a weekend. Some have been 9- or 10-day odysseys. The cast of characters has evolved, expanded and contracted, but basically it has remained the same. As far as we can tell, we are the only member who has been on every single day of every single baseball road trip. But at least four others have been to roughly half or more of these things. And the beauty of the trip is that it feels like it picks right up where it left off every year. The laughs, the baseball, the non-stop nature of things ... it never changes, even as all of us evolve. This is the first year where all four members of the trip are married. One has a child. One is wrestling with an important career decision. We have mortgages and other real-life responsibilities that we didn't have at, say, age 23 on the first trip. But you wouldn't be able to tell that by the liberal use of the word (redacted) ... or (redacted) ... or (redacted) in the car.
This year's trip took us to a familiar venue at the start: Miller Park in Milwaukee. This is the third time we've been to Miller for a Twins/Brewers series. This year, the crew decided to catch the first two games of the series; this morning, we leave for Chicago for a Braves/White Sox game and (hopefully) an entertaining night of watching the NBA draft and other shenanigans someplace(s) in Chicago. For now, though, here is a quick recap of the first 48 hours.
Drive: 10 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Upon arrival in Milwaukee, we immediately headed for Kopp's for a meal that can single-handedly ruin anyone's best intentions of eating healthy: Double cheeseburger, fries and delicious frozen custard. When you are on vacation, it is acceptable to eat like this. In fact, it is encouraged. We have no regrets. If you have been to Milwaukee but never gone to Kopp's, we suggest you remedy that in a hurry. Unless, of course, you refuse to go to Milwaukee on principle. Then we understand completely.
Pre-game: We got to the hotel around 4, and like any dutiful marathon trainer we pounded out four miles on the treadmill. We're not sure where the Kopp's meal lived while we did this, but it never gurgled all the way up. We then headed out to grab a six-pack of Spotted Cow for what turned out to be the quickest tailgate in Miller Park history. Seriously, we sat by the trunk of the car with Taco and Diddy chugging for about three minutes before we decided it was time to head in lest we miss first pitch. With a second (road) beer in hand, we made our way in and hit our seats literally 30 seconds before the game started. Shockingly, the stadium that night was full of obnoxious Brewers fans who paid absolutely no attention to the game. We're not sure half of them could pick anyone except Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder out of a police lineup. We all know what the Twins did. Three runs in. No outs. Bases loaded in the top of the first. And all downhill from there. Par for the course for the baseball road trip. That loss dropped the Twins to 2-10 all-time when we see them on the road during the GBRT.
Post-game: Delightful trip to a Bayview area Milwaukee dive bar for a little table shuffleboard. Rocket had never played before, and it is a safe bet he was instantly hooked. Then back to the hotel where, at 1 a.m., we found it impossible not to take advantage of the fact that our hotel pool was open 24 hours. Really, where do you ever find that? Even if you drove 325 miles ... even if you've already had an extremely full day and are dead tired ... really, you have to swim, right?
Wednesday a.m.: Early wake-up call so we can head to Nomad in Milwaukee for the USA/Algeria match. Few on the GBRT are huge soccer fans, and the closest soccer ally we used to have on the trip now lives in Alaska. Still, country pride takes over and we convince the entire cast of characters to head over. Nomad is wall-to-wall, overflowing, so we head across the street to Club Brady. Taco orders a bloody mary, which he calls "soccer juice." Even Club Brady starts to get packed with soccer watchers. Seriously, this World Cup vibe is really growing. The game itself, you know what happened. Ninety minutes of entertaining agony, followed by the kind of amazing finish that is best witnessed in a crowd (video below). Nobody regretted the early wake-up.
Wednesday early afternoon: Nine holes of golf at a local muni course. Diddy had never golfed before in his life. Others among us sometimes just play that way. Despite forecasts calling for rain, we stayed dry and remained entertained. Golf was one of those along-the-way additions to the GBRT, much like gambling and swearing. Four men cannot always live on baseball alone. We shot a 40, Taco shot a 42. This is the part where we should mention the course was just a Par-33, but never you mind. The scores stand.
Wednesday evening: Another Twins failure. We fall to 2-11 all-time watching the Twins on the road during the GBRT. Our personal record, if you count Twins road playoff games we've covered, is an abysmal 4-16. And this is all since 2001 -- the start of the time when the Twins started being good again. Unbelievable. We were also situated in an area with a lot of (redacted) high school kids who were constantly on their cell phones and getting wasted. One asked Taco if he would buy him a beer. Taco is not a violent man, but we think he wanted to punch the kid's lights out. Post-game, we hit the Safe House, mainly because the Magic Bar there was open. If you've never been, go on a Wednesday or Thursday when Chris Ivanovich is tending bar and performing excellent magic tricks. Maybe Michael Cuddyer will even stop by some night when the Twins are in town and pull a few rabbits out of a hat. Or at least get a clutch two-out hit.
Quote of the trip-to-date: "The final knife in the back was that the guy whose jersey I'm wearing (Justin Morneau) struck out to end both (redacted) games." -- Taco, a little surly about the way the first two games of the series went.
Sight of the trip-to-date: The scene at Club Brady after Landon Donovan's goal. More reports to come. But have a look at this in the mean time: