I wanted to relay my experiences from my visit last week to Reading, Pennsylvania to watch Stephen Strasburg's start. Strasburg did very well in that game, going five innings, allowing no hits and retiring the first 13 batters he faced.
Unlike Sunday's start in Harrisburg, Strasburg was in control from the start and even contributed the game winning base hit.
It is always fun to watch opposing team's reactions to Strasburg, especially the fans, who booed Strasburg as he ran slowly to first on a obvious groundout. The fans wanted to see Strasburg go 100 percent down the line, but you could understand on a 40 degree night not wanting to possibly tweak a hamstring on a meaningless grounder.
You think its all warm press boxes and hot coffee for a baseball reporter? Not quite. I had to sit outside at a desk and went back to my car to retrieve a hat and found a pair of ski gloves and a red sweatshirt. Thank goodness, because I had to alternate taking my gloves off to type on my computer during the game...outside.
Just like Altoona, I loved watching the game presentation and the way the park was set up at FirstEnergy Stadium. The public address system would pump "Roast Beef!" when the clean up hitter was up for each at bat. If he got an RBI, the crowd was rewarded with, yes, you guessed it, a free roast beef sandwich from a certain national food chain.
They would also play Homer Simpson "yawn!" sound effect every time the opposing pitcher would throw over to first to check the runner which I thought was kind of odd if you were feeling tired anyway. Wouldn't that make you as a fan more inclined to think about hitting the road?
Every inning after each at bat, the P.A. announcer would announce a bingo number. After one play in which a batter was safe at first after a passed ball, the announcer went on the mic and said "B-6". I thought he said E-6 because I was typing and listening at the same time (bad idea, I know). I turned to my colleague next to me from Philadelphia, and he said, no, not error shortstop, B-6. Yes, I know now there is no E-6 in Bingo. It took me awhile.
I jumped up early on as well and went down into the first base food area and enjoyed a delicious and authentic Philadelphia cheesesteak so I could get the true "Pennsylvania" experience.
It took me 2 hours and 45 minutes from the Virginia side of the beltway to get to Reading, an easy drive if you ever want to go up to catch the Senators take on the R-Phils in the future.
The whole trip brought back memories of watching the Omaha Royals and Bombo Rivera from my childhood days in Nebraska. Really a lot of fun, but a little cold. Okay, maybe I was being a baby, it was a lot of cold. But a great experience to see Strasburg win again and to say "I was there" for both of his road gems.