Results tagged ‘ Las Vegas 51s ’

On the Road: Fill-In Filled-Up in Vegas

To see all posts from my August 6 visit to the Las Vegas 51s, click HERE. To see all my posts from my August 2016 “Out West” road trip, click HERE. To see all my “On the Road” posts, click HERE. If interested in seeing posts covering a visit to a particular team, search for that team’s name in the blog search bar (it’s to your right).

Shortly after unveiling my 2016 road trip schedule, I received an enthusiastic email from a reader requesting to be the designated eater during my August 6 visit to Las Vegas’s Cashman Field. That request was granted. Unfortunately, just before the day in question rolled around, said reader had to renege on this commitment due to a family emergency.

I didn’t have to look far for a replacement, however. My friend Jon Fischer, a fellow alumnus of Wissahickon High School in Ambler, Pennsylvania, had joined me for the San Jose-Visalia-Vegas portion of my trip. He volunteered to fill the designated eating void, and was thereby tasked with consuming the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits.

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Collared shirt plus mesh shorts equals fashion statement

Jon is a native of southern California, but he grew up on the East Coast. We became friends in seventh grade, when he and his family moved from Massachusetts to suburban Philadelphia. His long, curly and occasionally greasy hair was a subject of fascination and ridicule within the middle school ecosystem in which we first met, but he fought fire with fire and never back down from his detractors. We later comprised two thirds of the band Spice, which was named after a cable channel we were fascinated with at the time. Then the Spice Girls came out and we changed our name to the Muckrakers.

These days Jon teaches at the California Maritime Academy, which he described as the “smallest, most specialized campus of the California State University system, which is the largest university system in the world.” Jon is also an artist.

We were on our own during this anomalous evening at the ballpark, operating on nothing but gut instinct. I’m always on the lookout for unique and/or regionally specific food items, and the main concession stands on both the first and third base side of Cashman Field were of the hot dogs, burgers, popcorn, peanuts, chips and soda variety. Though the Las Vegas 51s are named after Area 51 and feature an alien on their logo, we found very little that would qualify as “out of this world.”

All was not lost, however. At a small stand on the first base side of the ballpark, we located an alcohol-focused concession stand offering an “Atomic Dog.” We got an Atomic Dog. This is what an Atomic Dog looks like.

img_2447The Atomic Dog is a hot dog topped with bacon, nacho cheese and jalapenos, served on a pretzel bun.

Jon gave it a whirl.

“I think I should’ve gotten a napkin,” said Jon. “The hot dog was substantial. The jalapenos could be a little spicier, but they add a little kick. Some grilled onions would be good on this. The pretzel bun is good. It didn’t hold together, though.”

img_0264Nothing washes down an Atomic Dog quite like hard liquor. In a nod to the 51s’ alien identity, we found a concourse kiosk whose drink selections featured “Outer Space Vodka.”

img_0261Two minutes and $12 later, Jon had himself an “Double Outer Space Vodka Tonic.”

img_0265“It’s par for the course, not bottom of the shelf, fairly smooth,” said Jon. “I’d get it again if there was nothing else to drink.”

Of course, there are other things to drink. And come of them come in a collector’s cup. This, of course, is for all you #cupdate fiends out there.

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Our search for something — anything! — else to highlight eventually brought us to Cashman Field’s nothing-if-not-aptly-named “Club Level Restaurant.”

img_0258It was the sixth inning by this point, and there were few signs of life on the food-serving front.

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The view was nice, though.

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Upon reemerging on the concourse, we came across a Hawaiian Shave Ice stand. This, then, would be dessert.

img_0268“There’s more snow and less ice, which is the way it should be,” said Jon. “I got banana and strawberry, and both are pretty good. The banana is sufficiently artificial tasting. Banana’s the best shaved ice flavor, by the way. And this is a pretty good container for all of this. It will find a home in a landfill soon.”

img_0269“Overall, the food was pretty mediocre,” said Jon, when asked to sum things up. “But it was fun to be the designated eater and I was glad I could fill in at the last minute.”

“Go see more Minor League Baseball games,” he added. “I’ve enjoyed myself.”

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***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

On the Road: Alien Nation in Las Vegas

To see all posts from my August 6 visit to the Las Vegas 51s, click HERE. To see all my posts from my August 2016 “Out West” road trip, click HERE. To see all my “On the Road” posts, click HERE. If interested in seeing posts covering a visit to a particular team, search for that team’s name in the blog search bar (it’s to your right).

On Saturday, August 6, I woke up in Visalia, California. My next destination was Las Vegas, Nevada, home of the 51s. The distance between Visalia and Vegas, “as the crow flies” is approximately 230 miles. But that theoretical crow would be flying directly across both Sequoia and Death Valley National Parks, which is an impossible feat via automobile. My route was considerably less direct.

vegas I enjoyed the drive, however. It was scenic.

It’s a disorienting sensation, driving to Vegas, one that has been commented upon many times before. After hours and hours encompassing hundreds and hundreds of miles of wide-open rural desert expanse, the calming nothingness slowly gives way to the gaudy excess of Sin City. The tumbleweeds begin to be complemented, and then overtaken, by billboards advertising the likes of Rich Little and Englebert Humperdinck.

Amid the seemingly infinite entertainment options that Vegas offers, it could easy to forget that the city has long been home to a Pacific Coast League baseball team. The Las Vegas 51s, Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets, play in Cashman Field.

This is the only Minor League Stadium I have ever visited that featured a disassembled Arby’s in the parking lot.
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It was well before game time, but a formidable line had already congregated outside of the facility. The people in this line wanted to make sure they received that evening’s pint glass giveaway.

img_0245I’m no architectural expert, but Cashman Field almost feels as if its from the Brutalist school of design. It is drab, the color of desert sand, and monolithic.

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Cashman Field opened in 1983 and has hosted a PCL team for the entirety of its existence. This team was originally known as the Stars, but changed its name to the 51s in 2001 as a tongue-in-cheek homage to the extraterrestrial activity rumored to have taken place at (relatively) nearby Area 51.

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The free pint glasses, emblazoned with the team logo, were clearly a draw.

img_2434But it was also Superhero Night. Just look at all of these superheroes, all in one place. Even Yankees Man was there.

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The Thing needs his own handler, apparently.

img_2428To my mind, the best thing about Cashman Field is the view — a mountainous backdrop visible from a colorful, mildly dilapidated seating bowl.

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The view in the other direction is not recommended (at least not until the sun goes down.)

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The reception I get from teams varies from ballpark to ballpark, but the 51s win the award for “least interested.” I was alone and adrift the entire evening, a very strange sensation and a complete anomaly when compared to the other 26 teams I visited in 2016.

Speaking of alien sensations…

img_0251The above piece of apparel was one of many such items for sale in the team store. What I loved the most, however, were these shelves of ’80s-era trading cards and other pop culture ephemera. These shelves reminded me of my childhood, as these were the sort of things I would reliably spend my allowance money on.

img_0253I refrained from making an impulse purchase, returning to the concourse in time to witness an ear-shattering National Anthem. This was a preview of what was to come, in that the PA at Cashman Field was blasting at high decibels throughout the ballgame. (This, combined with malfunctioning microphones, did not lend itself to high-quality between-innings entertainment.)

Shortly after the game began, I did something I rarely do at a ballpark: Sit in my seat.

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At least two fans were sporting Wally Backman jerseys, in honor of the New York Mets icon-turned 51s manager (he and the Mets organization parted ways after the season).

img_2439In case you forgot, it was Superhero Night. Eric Campbell seemed on the cusp of making a Web Gem.

img_0259Pretty soon, the wandering urge took over again.

Apparently, it was also Supervillain Night.

img_2444Throughout the evening, the booming voice of Bruce the Beer Man reverberated throughout the stadium. Later in the ballgame, I tracked him down and got an up close and personal sampling of his auditory power.

Shortly thereafter, I wrote and disseminated my Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day.

The Pacific Coast League is known for long, offense-laden games, and this one was no exception. The 51s and Fresno Grizzlies combined for 26 hits, and when all was said and done the home team won by a score of 10-8. Josh Smoker pitched the ninth for the 51s and struck out the side, with Andrew Alpin being his final victim.

The evening concluded with a minimalist version of Launch-A-Ball, clearly a commentary on the mindless excess to be found elsewhere in the Sin City. A single Hula Hop was placed in the outfield, and that was it.

img_2463Good night from Las Vegas.

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***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Last Night: Las Vegas 51s, August 6, 2016

This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll write a quick blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, when I return home, I’ll provide the multifaceted blog coverage that you have come to know and perhaps even love. On Saturday night I visited Las Vegas, the sixth stop on my sprawling 10-team California-Nevada-Idaho-Washington road trip.

August 6: Las Vegas 51s (Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets)

Opponent: Fresno Grizzlies, 7:05 p.m.

Cashman Field, from the outside: 

IMG_0246Cashman Field, from within: 

IMG_2431Culinary Creation: Atomic Dog (hot dog, bacon, nacho cheese, jalapenos on a pretzel bun)

IMG_2447Ballpark Character: Bruce the Beer Man is very, very, very loud.

At Random: I finally got around to doing a #cupdate, for all the #cupdate fiends out there.

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Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day: 

Up Next: 

August 8: Reno Aces (vs. Salt Lake, 7:05 p.m.)

August 10: Boise Hawks (vs. Hillsboro, 7:15 p.m.)

August 11: Tri-City Dust Devils (vs. Spokane, 7:15 p.m.)

August 12: Spokane Indians (vs. Eugene, 6:30 p.m.)

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz