Bowie, Maryland

Sunday, June 27, 2010 - Thursday, July 1, 2010

The first business trip of the summer found us in a familiar area – Bowie and Annapolis, Maryland. In fact, the building where Jill spent the first half of the week teaching was literally around the corner from a hotel we had previously stayed at for a hockey tournament during Mike’s Pee Wee B season.

The trip started out on a sour note though, as we had to drop Sara off at the airport in Philadelphia for her flight back to Atlanta. We left on Sunday morning, making the three hour drive to the Philly Airport. After getting Sara set on her AirTran flight back to Atlanta, we headed down 95 to Maryland. Mike had awoken that morning with a sore throat and huge lump on the side of his neck, so we found a ‘Patient First’ clinic along our travel route to stop at and get him evaluated. With meds in hand, and a general diagnosis of ‘infection’ (with strep and mono ruled out), we headed up the road to Ripkin Stadium.

Of course ‘every’ stadium is one that is on ‘the list’, but some are closer to the top than others. Ripkin Stadium is one of those places. Up to this point, however, it was a bit out of the way for us, but the planets aligned and the perfect storm was created by our travel schedule this week. A very nice venue for baseball, albeit a bit bigger than other NY-Penn stadiums we had been in, it is definitely a place we would go back to if we had the chance. Plus, in my book, anyplace with free parking and free programs is a keeper! Concessions weren’t as varied as we had been led to believe, but there were enough of the usual ballpark offerings to make us happy.

After the game, we drove to Bowie where we checked into the Hampton Inn – Bowie, our base of operation for the week.

On Monday morning, I drove Jill out to Annapolis (the office was right around the corner from the hotel I mentioned above), and then I went back to the hotel to get Mike set. During the day, we drove up to Baltimore and did a tour of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. After that, we found Chaps Pit Beef, as featured in quite a few Food Network and Travel Channel shows, and grabbed some lunch before heading back to the hotel in Bowie.

After picking Jill up we found a place for Maryland blue crab – Mikes in Annapolis! Our first experience with this type of crab was an interesting one to say the least, but it was good eats! Afterwards, we searched out a Rita’s for some dessert, and then went shopping at both Annapolis and Bowie Town Centre’s before heading back to the hotel and calling it a night.

Tuesday was a hodgepodge of a day for Mike and I. After getting Jill set in Annapolis, I drove back and got Mike moving at the hotel. We drove to FedEx Field, home of the Washington Redskins, and perused through the team store there. From there, we drove back over to Annapolis, parking the car by the football stadium and taking the trolley (with its annoying driver) to the Naval Academy. We looked through the visitors center there, and then went back to the car (with the same annoying driver – just a little less chatty this time around), and then headed to the Annapolis Town Centre at Parole for lunch at Panera and to browse around. We picked Jill up from her onsite, and went back to Bowie.

On Tuesday night, we went to the Bowie BaySox game – their stadium was only a couple miles down the road from our hotel. Bonus on this night, the seats we bought came with free food! The food matched the ticket price too, so we ended up with something for free! Pretty sparse crowd in an otherwise big stadium (for AA baseball). Back to the hotel after the game.

On Wednesday, we visited the fourth new ballpark for Michael in as many days, and toured our second. Nationals Ballpark in DC is three years old at this point, and one of the nicest stadiums we’ve been to, to date. Mike and I drove from the hotel to the New Carrollton station of the Metro, and from there took the train to Le’Enfant where we transferred to a second train that took us to the Navy Yards stop. We walked around the outside and snapped a few pictures before taking the best stadium tour we’ve ever been on. Not only did we see the exclusive club areas, but we also were able to see the Nats clubhouse, dugout, and bullpen! Of all the tours I/we have taken, this gave us the most access to the restricted areas!

After the tour, we hopped back on the Metro and took it up to U Street, where we grabbed some lunch at the Quizno’s and then wasted time waiting for a Salty Caramel Cake to be finished at Cake Love – a present for Jill since she was having a long week stuck inside teaching while we toured around. We went back to the hotel after and waited for Jill to finish up her class.

At night, we drove back over to Annapolis to wander around there. We had dinner at ‘Galway Bay’, and then walked through the waterfront area of Annapolis, perusing in and out of shops. Back to the hotel afterwards for some much needed sleep.

So, now we’re at Thursday, travel day. Jill was finishing up her class, and I packed up the room so we could scoot when she was done. We met her and took her to lunch at Chik-fil-a, and then just wandered around Bowie in the afternoon. At 4:00, Jill was done and we headed north towards home.

This being a Thursday, however, meant it was Jill’s seminar night for Kaplan, which proved a bit of a logistical problem since she needed internet access to teach the class. On a whim, after looking at a map and figuring out the timing, I saw that the York Revolution were home. I sent an e-mail to their GM, asking if they had WiFi and a quiet spot at the stadium where she could do her class from. I heard back from the Director of Business Development, John Gibson, who not only allowed us to bring her stuff in to teach the class, but went out of his way to make sure the internet would work for her. When we had trouble connecting with Jill’s computer, he let her use the computer in his office where she was able to successfully teach. Never had we been treated so well in any ballpark we had ever gone to! In one day, John made us York supporters for life! While Jill was teaching, Mike and I went out and watched the game, thereby seeing our third new ballpark in five days, and for Mike his fifth new park in as many! We drove the rest of the way home after the game, arriving back in Binghamton around 1:00 AM.

Brooklyn Cyclones 6, Aberdeen IronBirds 3

The Brooklyn Cyclones jumped out early on the Aberdeen IronBirds Sunday night and behind great pitching were able to win 6-3 to pick up a series split.

The Cyclones took the lead in the ball game when Orioles rehabbing pitcher Mike Gonzalez gave up a two-run home run to Cory Vaughn in the top of the first inning to give Brooklyn the 2-0 lead.

The Cyclones would add to the lead by scoring runs one run in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth innings on RBI doubles by Joe Bonfe and Darrell Ceciliani and then a solo home run by Will Cherry to make it a 5-0 game.

In the sixth inning the IronBirds scored one run on a RBI single by Adam Gaylord to cut the lead to 5-1.

The IronBirds would add another run in the seventh inning when Trent Mummey hit an RBI single to close the gap to 5-2.

Brooklyn added one more run in the eighth inning on an RBI single by Jeff Flagg to make the score 6-2.

Then in the ninth inning Mummey picked up his second RBI of the game on a double to right center field to make it a 6-3 game and that would hold as the final score.

Mitch Houck was the winning pitcher going seven strong innings and allowing just the two runs on eight hits while striking out eight.

Mike Gonzalez got the loss in his rehab appearance giving up two runs on two hits in one inning.

The IronBirds will host the Staten Island Yankees tomorrow with Tim Adleman (0-0) going against Shane Greene.

Bowie Baysox 6, Erie SeaWolves 5

Baltimore Orioles outfielder Felix Pie provided a major boost for the Bowie Baysox in their 6-5 victory over the Erie SeaWolves Tuesday, going 4-for-5 with a double. The win clinched the Baysox's first series win of the year over Erie, as they now hold a 6-9 record against their division rivals.

It was the third walk-off victory in the last four home games for the Baysox, who now stand six games over .500 with a 42-36 record. They hold steady in second place in the Eastern League's Western Division, 71/2 games behind the Altoona Curve and four games ahead of third-place Harrisburg.

Baysox starting pitcher Chorye Spoone had a solid game until running out of steam in the seventh inning, finishing with five runs on six hits through 61/3 innings. Spoone added four walks to his league-high total and fanned six batters.

"I've thrown outstanding my last nine, 10 starts whatever, and tonight was the best I felt in probably five of them," Spoone said. "Even in my pre-bullpen (session) I was throwing a lot of strikes. Two walks through the first six innings, perfect. I got my strikeouts, got my ground balls, then it just fell apart in the seventh."

"He's throwing good," Baysox manager Brad Komminsk said of Spoone. "I think he outthinks himself too much. Instead of just trusting his stuff he's trying to trick everybody. He's got good enough stuff to get guys out with what he has. It's a learning process."

Pie hit .400 (8-for-20) in eight games for the Orioles this year before being placed on the disabled list. He joined the Baysox Tuesday as part of a Major League Rehab Assignment.

The Baysox announced the selection of four players to the Western Division team for the Eastern League All-Star Game to be played July 14 at Harrisburg. Left-handed pitcher Zach Britton and left fielder Tyler Henson were voted to the game by fans, and will be joined by first baseman Joel Guzman and right-handed pitcher Pedro Beato. For more information on the All-Star game, visit www.senatorsbaseball.com.

Britton is unable to pitch in the All-Star game after being named to the U.S. Team in the 12th annual XM Futures Game to be played July 11 in Anaheim, Calif. The left-handed starting pitcher is 7-3 with a 2.48 ERA in 15 games for the Baysox. He is riding a five-game winning streak and leads the Eastern League with a 3.06 ground out-to-air out ratio.

York Revolution 6, Bridgeport Bluefish 4

Just after 10 p.m., the York Revolution manager walked through the doors of the home clubhouse.

The blaring celebration music came to a halt. Everyone's head turned to the center of the room.

At that point, Andy Etchebarren showed what was in his heart. He thanked his players for playing hurt. For their all-out effort.

Then he told the room full of men holding champagne and beer bottles that he was proud of them.

Rightfully so.

The Revs made franchise history on Thursday night in front of 3,492 fans at Sovereign Bank Stadium, wrapping up the first first-half Freedom Division championship in team history with a 6-4 victory over Bridgeport. York will be headed to the playoffs for only the second time in its four-year history.

The win was the culmination of months of effort from the Revs and tough decisions that kept Etchebarren and his coaching staff up at night. Ultimately, the Revs' manager chose not to re-sign two fan favorites, Matt Esquivel and Matt Padgett -- a decision that caused a stir among the team's fanbase. He also wiped out nearly half of his bullpen after the season's first month, releasing four men on the same day.

In the end, though, Etchebarren, 67, proved the man with the magic touch. York (39-28) has never been quite as competitive -- even when it made the playoffs late in the summer of 2008.

The secret, according to just about everyone in the Revs' clubhouse, is simple: Every man on this team fights for one another.

"I knew we got the right character people," Etchebarren said. "That's why this clubhouse is so good. The characters that we have all came together. "They have so much fun," he added. "You know, they stay here at night until 1 o'clock in the morning playing cards together. I mean, it's amazing."

A similar description could fit the last six weeks of Revolution baseball, which has seen York go 26-13 since May 22 while taking full control in its race for the playoffs.

On Thursday, the brilliant stretch continued behind relative newcomer Jarod Plummer, who fired 52/3 innings (four hits, three runs) while striking out five. The Revs also jumped on Bridgeport (34-33) in a four-run second inning, which was highlighted by Chuck Jeroloman's two-run homer. Ramon Castro, York's No. 3 hitter, also played a big part in the win. In breaking an 0-for-21 skid, he singled a run home in the second. He also doubled to start the fifth, scoring on James Shanks' RBI hit. Castro, 30, played with Newark in 2007 when the Bears won the Atlantic League championship. The backbone of York's current team sees many similarities between that club and the Revs.

"It's the same team. Everybody put it together," Castro said. "(It's been) a lot of fun."

The Revolution postgame celebration included plenty of champagne baths, with one delivered to Michael Kirk, the club's director of player procurement. "It's exactly what we were hoping for," Kirk said. "We made some tough decisions. But all our decisions were baseball decisions." And even with the Revs in full celebration mode, Etchebarren found a way to stay focused on the future.

Remaining his unfiltered, unapologetic self, Etchebarren slid in one more shot at the Somerset Patriots -- the five-time league champions the manager said his Revs would attempt to supplant this year.

"I know one thing: We do have a chance to take Somerset out now. Because we're going to be playing at the end of the season," Etchebarren said. "And they don't know if they will."

Notes: The Revolution will open up the Freedom Division Championship Series on Wednesday, Sept. 22. As the first-half winner, the Revs will have the option of hosting Games 1, 2 and 5 or Games 3 and 4. The League Championship Series is slated for Wednesday, Sept 29, and the Freedom Division participant will have home-field advantage in that five-game series.

Trip Notes:

We stayed at the Hampton Inn Bowie, 15202 Major Lansdale Blvd., Bowie, Maryland 20716 for this trip.

Our room rate was $98.10 for one night, then $122.55 for the remainder of the trip, for a grand total of $516.98.