Aberdeen IronBirds Game

Sunday night we headed out to an Aberdeen IronBirds baseball game. The IronBirds are a Short Season A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. They are owned by former Oriole Cal Ripken hence their name being a combination of Ripken’s nickname The Iron Man along with birds for the Orioles.

I’ve been to other minor league team games before, but this was my first IronBirds game. My other minor league games have been in places where there isn’t a major league team. We live within a couple of miles of Camden Yards, so there’s no need to trek all the way out to the northern reaches of Maryland to watch a minor league team play. One of our friends got a group of people together to go up on Sunday though because they have a crab deck at Ripken Stadium where you can order crabs and sit out at picnic tables and eat them during the game. It’s all very Maryland. I figured it would be a good time to check out the IronBirds and spend some time with friends.

It turned out to be a really nice night for a baseball game. Perfect summer weather in my opinion. So even though I didn’t wind up eating crabs, it was still a fun outing. It was also dollar hot dog night, so by the time people decided to move to the crab deck I had already eaten a hot dog and fries and decided I wasn’t going to bother with crabs. Other people seemed to enjoy them though.

In addition to dollar hot dog night it was also Halloween in August, so all of the people working there were in costumes as were a lot of people in the crowd. I was actually surprised how many people actually showed up in costume. Good for them for getting into the spirit of things. That’s the thing about minor league baseball, everything seems just slightly goofier, but in a good way. There’s lots more stuff they do to try and keep the crowd entertained. It’s all very low budget, but I find it endearing.

The baseball itself was not great. There’s a reason these guys aren’t playing in the big leagues. The game went into extra innings. I gave them one more inning to win before we left. Based on how the last few innings had gone I had a feeling it was going to be awhile before anyone scored and broke the tie. I was right.We had driven the 45 minutes home before the game was over. Our friends that stayed said it went into the 13th inning and they were there for a good hour after we left.

It was a fun night and it’s a completely different experience than going to an O’s game, but I would probably need a pretty good reason to trek up there again for a game. We spent just as much money on tickets for the IronBirds as for an O’s game. Granted that’s comparing fourth row seats at Ripken Stadium to upper deck seats at Camden Yards, but it’s still comparing what we would actually pay to see a game at each place. Plus you can bring in food and drink to Camden Yards, which you can’t at Ripken Stadium. I guess at least the hot dogs at Ripken Stadium were better. I don’t like the ones they have at Camden Yards. Aberdeen is a little far to drive just for a hot dog though. Probably if I want to see a baseball game in the future I’ll stick with the Orioles, but I’m glad I got to check out the IronBirds after so many years of driving past their stadium on 95.

 

2016 ACC Basketball Tournament

I took off work yesterday to go down to DC for the first round of the ACC basketball tournament. Essentially it was the 2 play-in games for the 4 worst teams in the conference. They don’t officially call them play-in games, but that’s what they are. The good news about Wake Forest being so lousy at basketball these days it that I knew they would be one of the four teams playing. You could get fairly cheap single day tickets for the Tuesday games, so I decided to take advantage of the fact that I could go and be assured of seeing my team.

I’m never going to stop being mad at Maryland for leaving the ACC because it means I no longer have a guarantee of seeing a Wake game in person every year. However I will forgive my friends Brian and Teresa for moving from North Carolina to San Francisco even though it means that I don’t have the bonus of scheduling visits with them during basketball season and have the chance to see Wake play in Winston-Salem. So in short it was nice to have the opportunity to see a game in person for the first time in a couple years.

Wake Forest has had a pitiful basketball team for far longer than I care to think about at this point, but I am not a fair weather fan. I still go to games when I can and watch them on tv when I have access to them. Maryland leaving the ACC means that we don’t get nearly as many Wake games broadcast here as we no longer have a local ACC network. At least DirectTV and ESPN finally got their act together this year to allow me to watch games online if I happen to be home when they’re on.

Of course being at a game is a whole different experience. I got giddy walking into the Verizon Center and hearing Wake’s pep band playing our fight song. It’s so much more exciting to be a part of a crowd (or what little of a crowd there was at this game). Even though Wake lost to NC state in the end it was still a good, exciting game to watch. Wake ended their season how they’ve played it all year long losing by missing a ridiculous number of free throws and after sticking with other teams for most of the game letting them run away with it in the final five minutes. At least they’re consistent I guess.

I’m hopeful for next year. It will be Danny Manning’s third year as coach. We have some good, young players and it will be the first year he’ll be playing with a team that’s mostly his recruits. They may wind up disappointing me once again, but I’ll keep watching them anyway.

At least Wake isn’t as bad as poor Boston College. We stuck around for about 3/4 of the Boston College/Florida State game. Boston College hadn’t won a conference game all season, so I was rooting for them to at least get one. They sadly did not.

I wish the ACC tournament were in DC every year. It’s not on the docket again at this point, but I think it should be. It’s pretty central as far as all the teams in the conference go and now that Maryland is gone there’s no team that has any kind of home field advantage in these parts. I think I make a pretty strong case. It’s totally not based on selfish reasons at all.

Even though Wake lost I’m really glad I went to the tournament and got a chance to see them play in person once again.

O’s – Red Sox Game

 

 

Anyone who knows me knows I don’t really care that much about baseball, but I do enjoy going to a game every once in awhile. I don’t normally go this early in the season because it’s usually too cold for my taste. Though this isn’t the first O’s/Red Sox game I’ve been to in April before. It was about a decade ago, so I don’t know if this record still holds, but that game set the record for the coldest starting temperature of any Orioles game ever. So that was delightful. I’m happy it was much warmer last night. I didn’t even put my jacket on until halfway through the game and then it kept me plenty warm.

My friend Alison is from the Boston area and a Red Sox fan, so her boyfriend decided to give her an early birthday surprise with tickets to the game and invited Paul and I along to add to the surprise. We met them at the park and she was really surprised when the people climbing over her to get to their seats were us. Surprise! Thanks to Dave’s work we got fancy club level seats that I am never willing to pay for on my own. You get a waitress for your section who will bring you food or drink off a specific menu. However it was limited and we couldn’t find her for the first few innings when presumably lots of people were ordering stuff so we just went out on our own anyway. I was happier with the food I got that wasn’t on the menu anyway. The Boog’s pit beef on the club level is a great deal. It had the sandwich and then I could get baked beans, chips, cole slaw, and salad all included in the price. Plus the line was short. If you go to the one on the Eutaw Street concourse where the unwashed masses can all go the line is always super long and every thing that you get in addition to the sandwich is an additional charge. I was quite pleased with my dinner.

I have split loyalties between the Red Sox and the Orioles. When I go to games it’s typically between those two teams. I adopted the Red Sox as a team when we lived outside of Boston in my adolescence, but now that I’ve lived in Baltimore for 14 years it’s hard not to root for the Orioles as well. (Though time and an actual degree from University of Maryland have not resulted in me sharing my loyalties between them and Wake Forest. Go Deacs!). Basically last night I was just cheering for any good plays as opposed to for a specific team. The Red Sox won last night, so at least the birthday girl’s team won. Though I think she may too have split loyalties at this point.

It was a fun night out, and I think the first O’s game I’ve ever been to on a weeknight. I’m sure I’ll make it to one or two more games before the season is over. Go O’s!

O’s Game in Support of Araminta Freedom Initiative

My church is involved with an organization called Araminta Freedom Initiative, whose goal is to end domestic minor sex trafficking in the Baltimore area. Last night they sponsored a fundraiser and awareness campaign at the Orioles game. If you went to the game last night you quite possibly saw someone wearing an Araminta t-shirt as there were 900 of us. I certainly saw a number of people wearing Araminta shirts that I didn’t know. They also had people handing out information in the area where people are walking to the game, so you might have had someone approach you with some information on your way in. I was going to post some stats on things they have accomplished in the past year, but seem to have lost the paper I had that listed that information.

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In addition to trying to help out a good cause the game itself was also a good time with friends. I am far from an actual baseball fan. I enjoy going to a game in person every once in awhile to enjoy sitting outside and eating bad-for-me ballpark food, but you would be hard pressed to find me actually sitting around watching a baseball game in any other capacity. It was a great night at the game though. Despite the fact that there was a steady rain all day long, the weather cleared up in time for the game. We got sprinkled on here and there, but it never got bad enough for me to even bother putting on the rain jacket I brought. The clouds kept it nice and cool so unlike other July games I’ve been to where it’s been stifling hot even at night, the weather was quite pleasant. It was floppy hat night for the first 20,000 people. My husband I managed to get there early enough to snag floppy hats, which was good since we missed out on the free t-shirts when we went for my birthday last month.

Cat in hat
Scout models my floppy hat for you.

As for the game itself the Orioles were playing the Blue Jays and won 8-5. They had 3 homeruns, so that was exciting. As I said I don’t care much about baseball, but it’s always fun when the home team wins. I’ll cheer for O’s as long as they’re not playing the Red Sox.

In addition to floppy hat night, there were also post game fireworks. They had them after the last game I went to as well. Last night’s theme was the 80s so they were set to 80s music. They have some interesting fireworks that I’ve not seen before going off at those games. I don’t think I recorded any of the really interesting ones, but here’s a short video of some of the ones from last night.

 

Annual Preakness Party 2013 (Plus the Most Insane Cheesecake Ever)

As I have previously mentioned, my husband and I throw a party for the Preakness every year. This year was no exception.  We had one of our smaller crowds in recent memory this year, but it was still fun. We served up two different versions of Black-Eyed Susans: a recipe from the Washington Post and the previous official version served at Pimlico. This year they had a new official version, but my husband didn’t want to buy/make the appropriate ingredients for it so he improvised. I believe four people tasted the test glass of that said it was gross and it was never to be spoken of again. I’m sure it would have been better if he actually made it appropriately.

I also whipped up a batch of pulled pork which is always a hit. This year’s big draw though was the most ridiculous cheesecake ever. Someone I know posted a link to the recipe on Facebook several months ago. I decided I really wanted to make it, but needed an occasion to do so. I decided to make Preakness that occasion. Despite the long sounding list of ingredients and recipe, it only wound up being slightly more labor intensive than making a regular cheesecake. The cheesecake is made with a brownie on the bottom as the crust. As soon as the brownie comes out of the oven you sprinkle it with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and cut up Reece’s peanut butter cups. Then top with the peanut butter cheesecake batter. Once that is all cooked decorate with a chocolate/peanut butter ganache and halved peanut butter cups. It was delicious.

A couple comments on the recipe. As mentioned in the blog post the recipe is found in, the recipe for the ganache makes way more than needed. I would go ahead and halve that and you will have more than enough. Second I used a 9-inch springform pan as suggested, but I had a ton of cheesecake better left. I wonder if it might not work better in a 10-inch pan. The crust would obviously be thinner and you would need to adjust the baking times to account for the larger pan, but it might work better to fit all the batter. Also although I’ve heard about the trick before this is the first cheesecake recipe I have ever used that specifically called for it to be baked inside a pan of water. Supposedly that helps the cheesecake from cracking. This is the first time I’ve ever actually tried it, and it is also the first cheesecake I have ever made that didn’t develop a large crack down the middle so I’ll probably try that again in the future with other cheesecake recipes.

Chocolate peanut butter brownie cheesecake
Chocolate peanut butter brownie cheesecake

In addition to eating we of course enjoyed the race as well. Some people got into the spirit with fancy hats. Tracie and Abby win for the cutest outfits. Apparently all they win is getting a mention in this blog post, but at least that’s something I guess.

Tracie and Abby
Tracie and Abby

We did bet on the races as well. I’m not a bookie so there was no real betting, but you could throw $2 in and draw the name of a horse out of a hat. As there were only 9 horses in the race we had two pools going so there were two winners. Obviously no one went home with crazy winnings, but it was still fun. Sadly it was yet another year with no chance for a Triple Crown winner. I’m always disappointed when that happens as are the people who run The Belmont Stakes I’m sure. I’ll be hoping for one again next year.

Your Feel Good Video of the Day

Can today’s what’s making me happy post be about how glad I am February is over so that I no longer have to make sure and post on this blog every day? It was an interesting challenge to myself, but I’m not sure it accomplished what I wanted it to because some days I was scrambling to get a post in and that felt stressful not joyful, which was the opposite of what I was going for. So after today we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming in which I post something when I feel like it.

At any rate today’s real what’s making me happy is this heartwarming video. If this doesn’t make you tear up at least a little well I don’t even know. I’ve had a number of friends post a link to this on Facebook and Twitter in the past two days so there’s a good chance the handful of you who read this blog have already seen it. Doesn’t matter though because it’s still worth posting. Plus putting it here means I’ll be able to find it again easily when I need a pick me up and want to watch it again.

Random Saturday Fun

Despite having to real plans at the beginning of the day, yesterday wound up being a lot of fun. I started off the afternoon watching Wake Forest knock off number 2 Miami in basketball. I didn’t realize I was going to get to watch the game because they haven’t had a whole lot of televised games this season since they currently suck. Turns out that I did get the game though on Fox Sports Detroit…of course. Why wouldn’t a game between two ACC teams based in North Carolina and Florida be broadcast on a Detroit sports station. I’m sadly a little torn about the win because I want Jeff Bzdelik to get fired as their coach and every big win means less of a chance of that happening, but in my heart of hearts I can’t really cheer for my team to lose. So ultimately I’m happy that manage to pull off the upset. Now only if they could manage to not continuously lose by 25 points in every game on the road.

After the game was over I wandered over to the food truck gathering that was going on in my neighborhood. I met up with a bunch of my Baltimore librarian friends there. After getting some food and hanging around there for awhile we wound up back at our friends’ house to watch the Syracuse/Georgetown game. Sadly for the Syracuse fans in the room their game did not turn out as well as mine.

The rest of the night turned into an impromptu Wii Just Dance party. We started off playing Just Dance 3 or playing it as well as we could considering my friend’s dog bit into the disc and it would only play some songs as a consequence. Trips to Red Box while getting take out dinner resulted in procuring Just Dance Disney and Just Dance 4 to prolong the fun. The party was still going strong when I decided I should go home and see my husband around 9. It was a completely unplanned day of fun. I like it.

Ravens Win the Superbowl!!!!!

Hey look at that. At least one of the sports related events I attended this weekend turned out the way I wanted. It does kind of amuse me that the major activities of my weekend revolved around various sportsball games as I’m really not much of a sports person. I did meet with one of my book clubs to discuss Slaughterhouse-Five in the hours preceding the Superbowl though, so I suspect that gains me back some of my nerd cred.

I’m not really a football fan and happily married someone who doesn’t really watch it either. However, I do generally wind up watching the Superbowl because of the social nature of it. I was happy that my hometown Ravens made it to the big game, but I can honestly say that was the first football game I’ve watched all season. And I did in fact watch the game last night. I do at least know mostly what is going on in a football game. I went to high school in Texas where Friday nights are devoted to high school football, so I at least learned how the game was played so I can follow a game on the rare occasion I happen to watch one.

It was one of the more interesting Superbowl games I can recall watching. Too many times they seem to wind up being boring blowouts. I was happier when it looked like the Ravens were going to blowout the 49ers prior to the blackout, but it definitely made the game more interesting to watch once it got closer. There were also some interesting plays including Jacoby Jones’ 109 yard touchdown, the fake field goal attempt (even though it ultimately didn’t work), and the Ravens decision to let the 49ers score a safety in the last few seconds of the game.

Our friends’ Paul and Natalie hosted a Superbowl party at their apartment. There was a ton of tasty food including jambalaya, fried cheese curds, beignets, egg rolls, wings, and many tasty desserts including the Brandy Apple Chai cake I brought. It was yet another tasty selection from my Booze Cakes cookbook.

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Though the party was missing the signature giant tub of cheese balls that normally resides on the corner of the table at their parties. I think I was not the only one surprised and saddened by their absence.

The party was mostly composed of librarians, so there was lots of screaming and shouting no as we all watched the destruction of the library in this Oreo commercial.

The party was so big and loud that we couldn’t actually ever hear any of the commercials, so I will say that I found that commercial way more amusing to watch last night with shouting librarians providing the commentary than I did this morning now that I actually could hear what the commercial was about. Now I just think it’s kind of dumb.

Baltimore was of course beside itself over the Ravens win. As soon as you walked outside you could just hear a roar of people celebrating all over the place. That of course was in addition to all the fireworks and car horns. Luckily I don’t live in a neighborhood where celebratory gun fire is the norm (because people are dumb enough to think shooting a bullet into the air is safe), but I’m sure that was going on in some parts of the city as well. There is some crazy pictures from some neighborhoods that are the major “going out” neighborhoods in the city where a large number of people had congregated at bars to watch the game. Though it’s not even close to what was happening in other areas of the city the main street in my neighborhood, which is just a block from my house was having it’s own bit of craziness. It made it rather difficult to get home as people were flooding the street and didn’t seem to care if cars were trying to drive through them.

382246_10151402184833605_731228789_nThe last time the Ravens won the Superbowl I had only been living in Baltimore a few months, didn’t really have any friends, and wound up working during the game. I’m happy to now really be able to celebrate a Ravens championship with good friends in a city I call my home.

Wake Forest v. Maryland Basketball Game

Yesterday I went to see Wake Forest play at Maryland. As an alum of Wake Forest, I love me some Wake Forest basketball. We will not talk about the actual game or Wake Forest’s current inability to actually play basketball here because that certainly is not making me happy. The only thing I can say about that abysmal loss that is making me happy is that it means we are one loss closer to Jeff Bzdelik getting fired as Wake’s coach. Worst coaching choice ever.

Despite the outcome it was still a good day. I got to go to the game with my friend Emma, who is a fellow Wake Forest alum. Even though she now also lives in Maryland this is only the second time we’ve managed to get together since she moved here. It was fun to hang out with her for a few hours, catch up, reminisce about our time at Wake, and make fun of the awful basketball going on on the court.

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Also, I just love going to college basketball games. It’s obviously more fun when it’s a home game for my team and when my team is winning, but it’s fun to be there anyway. It’s amusing to see what things students come up with to cheer on their team and being at a live sporting event is always better than watching it on tv no matter what.

I also amused myself by digging deep down into my t-shirt drawer and coming up with one of my Screamin’ Demon t-shirts. During my four years at Wake I was part of a group called the Screamin’ Demons. Back in  my day when Wake didn’t suck at basketball and in fact was rather good at it, it was really hard to get tickets to see a game unless you were a Screamin’ Demons. If you joined that group you were guaranteed a seat in a specific section as long you went to every game. We got a specific shirt to wear to the games each year. I decided to wear the shirt from my freshman year, which was the last year Tim Duncan played for Wake Forest. I thought his spirit might lend some good luck to the Wake team today. Sadly that did not work.

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Hopefully Wake and Maryland will play at Maryland again next year and I’ll get one last chance to see them play before stupid Maryland jumps ship from the ACC.

Loyola is Going to the NCAA Tournament

As I have mentioned in this blog before, I enjoy college basketball. Sadly, my one true team, Wake Forest has been in shambles the past few years. I also have ties to both University of Maryland and Loyola University Maryland too though. I attended graduate school at both institutions and currently work at Loyola. As such Maryland has become my backup ACC team when Wake Forest is not doing well, though I always cheer for Wake over Maryland. They unfortunately were not a great back up team this year either as they were barely any better than Wake was.

Until this year I have never really paid any attention to Loyola basketball. I always had my ACC schools to watch, and Loyola even within one of the lesser Division I athletic conferences has been notoriously bad at basketball the entire time I’ve been affiliated with them. That is until this year when they actually started to win games. I didn’t attend any in person but did see several on TV this year, which is a first. About halfway through the season, when it became clear that neither Wake nor Maryland were going to make anything of themselves, but Loyola actually had a shot at winning their conference and getting an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament I started cheering them on like never before. Loyola somehow became my only hope of seeing a team I had a connection with in the big dance this year as improbable as that seemed.

Tonight they managed to pull it off in a nail biter of a game that had me on the edge of my seat about to have a heart attack. They beat Fairfield to win the MAAC championship and a bid to the tournament. It’s only the second time they have ever been in the NCAA tournament, the last and only previous time being back in 1994 (under the coaching I might add of Skip Prosser, who sadly passed away during his tenure as Wake Forest’s coach). They’ll probably only be a 15 or 16 seed and lose in the first round, but for Loyola basketball this is a huge accomplishment, and I’ll be excited to cheer them on in their game. That’s more than I can really say about the final Wake and Maryland games I’ll be watching later this week when they actually play each other in the first round of the ACC tournament. So I temporarily throw my full support behind Loyola and say Go Greyhounds!