Sunday, August 1, 2010

Further Exploration of the Metroplex

Melvin and I took a busman's holiday on Monday morning, which is a new byway for us. The Youngstown 2010 master plan was one topic we discussed with a local operative who was generous with their time and knowledge. (For more on the planned shrinkage of Youngstown, click here for a September 2009 report by Free Speech Radio News.) If life gives you lemons, make lemonade and drink it at the Lemon Grove Cafe.

We also talked about megalopolitan regions, the Cleveland-Pittsburgh metroplex in particular. I couldn't help noticing that geographic area corresponds to the itinerary of this trip. The Ohio Rail Development Commission, among other planning analyzes, connects the Cleveland-Youngstown-Pittsburgh conurbation to a regional rail system with Cleveland as the hub. But what do I see? -- five major league clubs, three Triple-A franchises and Double-A and Single-A teams in Erie and Dayton, respectively. And that leaves out the Double-A Akron Aeros, who Melvin and I would see lose 10-5 to the Bowie Baysox that night.

Speaking of which, good game; the best of the four we saw, especially if you like offence. A total of nine pitchers gave up 29 hits and 15 runs. Pedro Espino took the loss for Akron, giving up 11 of Bowie's 17 hits and half of their ten runs, all earned, in 4.1 innings. Seven strike-outs was his positive take-away for the night. All of the Baysox starters got hits; most of them got several. Third Baseman Ryan Adams had an excellent night, hitting two doubles in five at bats, one for a two-out RBI. The stand-out, however, was outfielder Jonathan Tucker (right), who went three for four with a walk. His double in the fifth would have been a triple but for the third base coach holding the runner in front of him. In the sixth, Tucker fired back a fly ball from the center field warning track that almost picked off catcher Damaso Espino at first. Espino (Are the Akron battery mates brothers?) had rounded the base and then realized Tucker has a cannon.

MiLB Reports: Game Recap Box Score

After the game, Melvin and I reviewed the Double-A stadiums we had been to and decided Canal Park in Akron might be the nicest ball park we've visited at that level. It's on a tight, downtown site, with the skyline (such as it is, this ain't Pittsburgh) visible beyond the outfield. The Ohio & Erie Canal, and its towpath now rebuilt for recreation, are just behind the left field wall. A 1931, Art Deco YMCA building is in straight-away center but it does not erupt into a display when the stadium staff performs the song by The Village People.

Also after the game--in the Quaker Square Inn, a renovated grain terminal--Melvin and I drank the beers we had bought earlier in the day at Vintage Estate. A couple were from the Dieu du Ciel microbrewery, who I first discovered in New Orleans; the Equinoxe du Printemps (Spring Equinox) maple scotch ale and the Rosée d'Hibiscus (Pinkish Hibiscus) wit. We also had the Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye and Founder's Red's Rye Pale Ale. At the game, Melvin and I were surprised by the Ohio Brewing Company, whose kolsch, red ale and stout may not be strictly true to style but are excellent. Oh, and before the game we went to 69 Taps. We didn't drink all day; we saw an office building that looks like a UFO. Photographic proof we didn't just hallucinate it:

Tuesday morning, I drove Melvin to Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport and pointed myself towards I-80 and hours upon it. Melvin had written that I was going to see a double-header on Wednesday but I changed my mind. The historical society where I would have spent the off-day is closed on Tuesdays and I still wasn't interested in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Let's save Erie and Jamestown for an itinerary that includes Rochester, Batavia, Buffalo and Toronto.

Map by Drew Dee

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