A Final Story From My Trip to Cleveland, Involving Indians and Seagulls

Seagull Deterrent

Apparently, the Cleveland Indians have been having a problem this year with seagulls at Progressive Field. There's been a marked increase in the numbers of birds roosting on the buildings along the river and they've discovered that the pickings at Progressive Field are pretty darn good after a game. However, being seagulls, they don't wait until the game is over to stake their claim and lately they've been hovering around the field during game time and occasionally land en masse on the outfield.

The day we arrived in Cleveland, the Indians won a close game against Kansas City in the tenth inning when a ball hit up the middle bounced and then struck a gull before the outfielder could snatch it up. Not a very auspicious way to win, but a win's a win.

Recognizing something had to be done, park personnel came up with the idea of shooting off fireworks in between each half inning. A single loud pop of a firework (above) designed to scare off the circling birds before they'd have much of a chance to alight on the field.

The Birds Fly Off in a Hail of Fireworks

We saw the firework trick work only once and wondered how much longer before the seagulls figured out where there's smoke there's no fire. According to the local paper, the team is contemplating also using a live eagle as a deterrent; an idea that seems to add many more problems than solutions.

The Seagull Cleanup Crew

After the game, the seagull buffet was open in the bleachers.

Indians Baseball

Progressive Field became my seventh Major League Baseball park — 23 to go.

The ballpark: Overall, I enjoyed my trip to Progressive Field, watching a team nearly as poor as the Cubs lose one game and win another against Cubs’ arch-rivals the St. Louis Cardinals. The park is “new,” one of the modern concrete sports venues with wide open passageways for vending food and drink, socializing, and providing alternate activities for kids and folks bored with the game. Unlike many modern stadiums, it doesn’t feel too big, which makes sense when you realize it seats around 43,000 (only a few thousand more than Wrigley Field.)

I saw two games, the first sitting down near the field along the first base line, the second in the upper deck on the left field side, giving us a good feel for the park. The first was an afternoon game and we were sitting directly in the sun. After the wet, mild spring we’ve had, I didn’t complain one bit about the heat or sun shining in my eyes.

Quite Sunny Along the First Base Line

I like the urban ballparks that provide an interesting city view as backdrop to the game. Pittsburgh’s park is a great example of this, Cincinnati not so much. Cleveland won high marks with it’s cityscape behind the scoreboard especially as the sun went down and the lights came up.

Cleveland Towers

It wouldn’t be a baseball game without a theme or gimmick of some kind. We happened to be there during Eighties Weekend. Like other parks I’ve been to with a Jumbotron, these games had an MC blabbering away at the audience during any break in the action that was long enough to host a silly game or giveaway. The MC, dressed in mullet wig and jeans jacket was the only person I saw sporting any sort of ’80s wear. The audience was decidedly not into it, costume-wise.

'80s Night

Because there always has to be some high-end way of raking in the bucks, Progressive Field has a tiered restaurant that allows diners to see and be seen. I always wonder about these. Do you dine for the entire game or do you have to leave halfway through the fourth inning to free up your table for another party? And what a disconnected way to watch a game.

Terrace Dining in Glass Boxes

JumboTron: Yep, they’ve got one. It’s big and largely covered with advertising but as far as widescreen TVs in the park go, this one was toned down. There wasn’t as much flash (mostly static ads), annoying videos were kept to a minimum, and I don’t recall seeing a single movie trailer or commercial.

We Miss Mark DeRosa

Sound level: Not bad at all. The speakers weren’t cranked up to 11 to compensate for the open air. There were even times when the canned noise stopped altogether and you could actually focus on what was going on down on the field.

Home run gimmick: Unfortunately, in the two games I saw, the only homers were hit by the opposing team, so we never got to see how the home team celebrates when a ball is hit out of the park. We did, however, see a fan escorted out of the park after he thew a Cardinal-hit home run ball back on the field–something you’d never see at Wrigley!

Another View From the Upper Deck

Food: This was easily the biggest disappointment. The food was lousy. The hot dog I had is definitely in contention for worst in all of Major League Baseball. Condiments offered (or lack thereof) were the first clue that this was not going to be a memorable dog: no pickle relish, no onions. They did offer two types of mustard, including the famous Bertman Ball Park Mustard (some of which we bought to take home with us.) The terrific local mustard wasn’t enough to mask the terrible flavor of the dog. Salt was the primary ingredient in both the hot dog and the waffle fries, a not-so-subtle ploy to get you to drink more beer.

I use hot dogs and nachos, two ballpark staples, to judge a park’s culinary worthiness. The nachos here tasted great in comparison. The “cheese” was good and they came with  salsa and plenty of peppers on top.

Progressive Nachos

Local fans: The local crowd was friendly and enthusiastic, though they still needed the JumboTron to tell them when to “make some noise.” Lots of empty seats. Unlike masochistic Cubs fans, members of “the tribe” don’t flock to the park to see their team lose again and again and again.

Peanuts!

DSC_9868 - 2009-06-12

Sorry, I’m copping out with a photo from my recent trip to Cleveland’s Progressive Park. I finished processing the Cleveland pics and will post the rest tomorrow but I’m tired and want to read a couple of chapters of The Count of Monte Cristo before bed. I’m in the home stretch, just 200 pages to go and it’s getting quite good.

Cleveland Bound

Bistricky's

I’m hitting the road for Cleveland tomorrow. Woo hoo, road trip!

Woo hoo, gas is nearly three-bucks a gallon!

The objective: knocking off another Major League ballpark when we see a couple of Indians games at Progressive Field. Our trip comes with a bonus: a stop at the West Side Market, an amazing indoor food emporium of fresh meats, sausages, cheeses, and baked goods. We’re taking a cooler to stock up before returning home. Because, you know, we live in Chicago, where we can’t get good stuff like this.