Monday, March 31, 2014

Indians Spring Training Mega Post

A happy little ball in the sunshine. 
This is the perfect day to post my Indians Spring Training Mega Post, full of pictures and snappy remarks. These are my personal pictures, so please do not yoink without permission. That is very uncool. 
I have gone to Goodyear, AZ every year for Tribe Spring Training since the team moved from Florida.  Just in six short years, Goodyear Ballpark has been the March go to destination. There are more hotels, restaurants, bars and all around things to do, with more options added every year. 

Goodyear Ballpark
The view from the seats at Goodyear Ballpark is stunning. Palm trees, bright blue skies and baseball. I'll take it. I especially appreciated the view since I never thought I was going to make it this year. I got to the airport and was notified by security that my drivers license was expired (you can still fly with a expired id. Had no idea). At that very moment I had to try very hard to hold in all my tears, sweat and pee. 

Thankfully, my friend that I was traveling with was able to get a rental car and be the chauffeur for the week. I was pleasantly surprised that Priceline was able to refund all my moohla except for $20. 

Practice fields in Goodyear. Swisher, Giambi and Santana.
The travel unpleasantness aside, the show rallied on. One of the highlights of the trip was just hanging out at batting practice. It is free and open to the public, so you can wander around to your heart's content. 

The batting practice field in Goodyear. 
Depending on the day of the week, there may be few people hanging around or a couple hundred, all staking their claim for a chance at a home run ball. As you walk around the fields, there may be people stationed every 10 feet or so, a mixture of kids and adults, waiting to catch a ball.  You can watch the major leaguers or the minor league hopefuls. 

Ketchup and my hero, Rik Danburg.
There is a family vibe to the practice facility, in part to this guy, Rik Danburg. Rik works for the Indians and here in Cleveland, he is the guy that tries to negotiate that home run ball from your greedy paws. He also welcomes kids for their first Tribe game. Rik follows the team to Goodyear and is the Indians Ambassador, well, that is what I call him. Everyone that comes to the practice facility is greeted like a family member by Rik. I assure you that by your second visit, he will welcome you by name. 

Scary tales about experiences at other parks floated down the autograph hound line. Hanging on the fence, you hear stories of kids being shoved out of the way and people knocked down for autographs. I chatted with some Rockies fans looking for Giambi, and after our conversation, I was certain they felt like Rik was their best friend. I don't know if the Indians truly realize what a shining star this guy is. If he was a grumpy old crank to the fans, it would be a very different experience. He has the best attitude out of anyone I have ever met. 

If you had a great experience with Rik either in Cleveland or at Spring Training in Goodyear, I encourage you to nominate him for a Hospitality Star Award from Positively Cleveland. You can fill it out here

Waiting for their turn. 
Indians practice has a fly on the wall feeling. The team is there, with a job to do, and we get to watch. You can hear the chatter among players and I will be the first to tell you, Nick Swisher has another favorite word besides Bro.

There are so many different angles that you can watch the practice from. I ran to the other side of the field, carefully avoiding what I thought were snake holes in the ground, to watch the catchers and pitchers walk by. Yan Gomes *swoon*

Grand Canyon Jeep Tours
This year, I mixed things up a little and took a side trip to the Grand Canyon, which was on my pop's bucket list. I have never been so I scheduled a tour with Grand Canyon Jeep Tours

The Grand Canyon was more beautiful and awe inspiring than I had ever imagined. You can read about my whole adventure here

The only bummer of the trip was the Indians away games were at the same stadium. Booo. Peoria was an ok stadium, but I enjoy seeing lots of other parks. I wish we visited the Cubbies new park, but what can you do?

The field was cut in a mesmerizing way...round and round and round. 

It is easy to get up close to your favorite players since most games aren't sold out. I'm a fan of wandering around the park, hopping in different, unoccupied seats.

Lonnie Chisenhall in motion. I have big hopes for Lonnie this year.

I love seeing a bit of Cleveland, with Matt Underwood and Rick Manning in the park. A favorite Goodyear Ballpark moment is when they announce the temperature in Cleveland. Ha. Ha. 

This is me peeking through one of the fences. If you are lucky, sometimes a player will just toss a ball over the fence to you. If you are super lucky, there are no little rug rats running around trying to take it from you.

The practice fields are surrounded by mountains, nothingness and airplanes. The fields up ahead are for the minor leaguers. Better chance to snag a ball from those kiddies.


Nick Swisher signing my Brohio sign. 
One of my favorite things to do at Spring Training is to get autographs. The first time, I wanted to get a bunch of baseballs signed. That bright idea resulted in a lot of balls rolling around. Now, I get one item for all the players to sign. It is a cool memento of the trip. I couldn't help it though, and had to get Nick Swisher to autograph my Brohio sign.

Hanging around and being chatty with fellow fans, you learn what players sign at practice, what players sign at games, what players ignore you. Ahem...

I got a jump start this year, and had some players sign at TribeFest. That was an awesome idea on my part. There are a few extra players that I snagged, including Kenny "grumpy pants" Lofton, Clint Frazier and Mike Hargrove.

Out of the entire major roster, I got everyone except Asdrubal. I firmly believe that it would have been easier to take a picture of a rainbow pooping unicorn than get his autograph.

Member of the Goon Squad, Mike Aviles.

Working it...
The food is meh, the beer is decent, and the sunset is spectacular at Gordon Biersch in Tempe. A great end to a great week. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

I-X Indoor Amusement Park Giveaway

There has been a lot of excitement in Cleveland over the past few weeks, and this weekend is no exception!

It is now time for the I-X Indoor Amusement Park! 20 acres of indoor fun are available to you and your family March 21-April 20.

This Cleveland tradition will be celebrating 25 years this weekend and I have 4 tickets to giveaway for a lucky winner!

The Grand Opening weekend, March 21-23, is going to be jam packed with fun for the whole family. Games, prizes, a cheerleading competition and Radio Disney Cleveland's On The Road to the RDMAs Concert Event Featuring Before You Exit and Megan Nicole!

I'm personally excited about the over 100 rides and attractions including a zip line and a water ride! Someone needs to video the ride along the zip line, only if it is safe and you don't drop your camera!

Click here for more information about ticket prices. 

But, I don't want you to have to buy tickets, I want you to win them!

This is super easy and I will be picking a winner Saturday, March 22 at noon. 

Ok, now for the YAYYY!

There are a couple of ways to enter to win tickets, so make sure you leave a separate comment for each method of entry. I let a computer program pick the winner, so if you don't comment, you lose an entry.

Bummer for you if you don't follow directions.

You can also tweet as much as you want until noon Saturday, but make sure you come back and leave a comment.

1. Leave a comment telling me what would be your favorite thing to see at the I-X Indoor Amusement Park.
2. Tweet the following: "I want to win a pair of tix to the I-X Indoor Amusement Park from @clevelandchick! #YAYY"
3. Follow the @IXCenter on the Twitter.
4. Follow @clevelandchick on the Twitter.

You have until Saturday, March 22 at noon to enter.  Start tweeting!

Disclosure: I was given 4 general admission tix for myself and 4 to giveaway to you fabulous readers. All the words here are my own and currently fueled by March Madness!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

This Is Cleveland

"If you don't like what people are saying, change the conversation."

Mistake by the lake. Burning rivers. The Fumble, The Drive and The Decision. 

We've grimaced at all the jokes and winced at the jabs at our city. 

At the Positively Cleveland Annual meeting, the new branding campaign for the city was announced, and I like it.

Before I go any further, let's get a few things out of the way. 

During the past couple of weeks, there was much hullabaloo about the new Cleveland branding campaign being outsourced to a firm in Kansas City. To that I say, sometimes you need someone else, an outsider if you will, to point out your awesome traits. 34% of Cleveland residents will happily chatter on about the awesomeness known as Cleveland. They will tell you about Rock and Roll, the Moon Dog Coronation Ball, our World-Class Orchestra, the Arts, great restaurants and our sports teams. 

Know what? You ask any other city about their awesomeness, and they will tell you about dining and sports and the arts and spas and blah blah blah.

Same story, different city. 

Let's hop back to Cleveland for a second. Only 34% of Cuyahoga County residents (according to the research presented at the annual meeting) would recommend Cleveland to visitors. Ouch.

Clearly, we have some internal issues to take care of.

Enter the Kansas City firm.

Yes, Cleveland Rocks is familiar to us all.


Of course, Cleveland Rocks, but let's be honest, if we have to constantly tell people we rock, do we? The tag line, which I adore by the way, is not bringing the travel dollars to the city.

Enter the new branding...This is CLE.

What do you think? The music is original from Cleveland band Welshy Arms, not some cover band from some place like Utah.  The implementation of the branding will be by a Cleveland firm. 

I like the new attitude because it is true. Cleveland is more than the Rock Hall. We are more than our sports woes. I used to love the Nike Witness commercials featuring he who will not be spoken. You know why? Because it showed the city. It showed us.

Cleveland is not Chicago or Baltimore or Indianapolis.

Cleveland is Cleveland.

I have lived all over the place and while I enjoyed some places more than others, none of them were Cleveland. 
One of the managers at Scotty's in Indianapolis set this up for me. 
Cleveland has an attitude and I can't believe I'm using the word, a swagger, about it that is hard to find. As much as we whine and complain about our Cleveland, the amount of pride we still have in the city is unmatched. We have at least three thriving companies that sell Cleveland gear - tshirts and such - not just sports, but the city. You know where I can get an Indianapolis t-shirt? At the airport. That's where.

As a city, we need to recognize what makes us great and how we are different from our neighbors. It is ok to be different.

Keep in mind that this is just a beginning. Read that again. This is just the beginning. We have lots of things in the coming months to look forward to, including new way finding measures (admittedly, it is darn hard to get around if you aren't a local).

If you are on social media, share your Cleveland favorites with #ThisIsCLE. Start changing the conversation and let people know the best Cleveland has to offer.

I, of course, suggest starting your journey with some pierogies.

Yes, I know, ignore the spelling and look at the delicious. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Nick Swisher vs. Kenny Lofton

Nick Swisher vs. Kenny Lofton
Rumor on the playground is that current Tribe fan favorite got into a kurfuffle at TribeFest with old fan favorite Kenny Lofton. It came down to the meaning of the word "Playoffs." 

Long story short, it has been reported that Swisher and Lofton were nose to nose barking at each other because Lofton believes the Playoffs are a series, not a one and done game like the Tribe played last year.

Swisher took that as a personal affront and let Lofton have it.

Guess what? I'm ok with that. Lofton has been a serious grouch, a grumpy old man if you will, to fans for some time. He has appointed himself the defender of the 90s Tribe legacy, and doesn't want anyone else on his lawn.  He reminds me of the '72 Dolphins

I understand that Lofton is trying to hold on to his moment in the sun, but he needs to learn to play well with others...especially current Tribe players and fans. Strike one for playing well with the current players, and strike two for playing well with the fans.

I have met Lofton on several occasions. A couple of years ago, he was signing autographs at a Tribe game. I waited in the sweltering sun, tossing my new baseball in the air. I was giddy with excitement. When I got up to him, I asked him to please sign it on the sweet spot, and showered him with compliments. He didn't say a word to me, flipped the ball around and signed it on the side and grabbed the ball from the person  behind me. 

The next time I met Lofton was at this year's Tribe Fest.  I coughed up the extra cash to get autographs from Lofton, Thome and Nagy. Thome was amazingly nice and chatty with the fans. Charles Nagy was nice as well. And then there was Kenny. 

Word circulated throughout he line that Lofton would only sign the photographs that he brought. He sat behind the table, signing piles of autographs and shoving them forward so he could have as little fan interaction as possible. 

I was infuriated. There are three Indians that I accept as cranky - Bob Feller (rest his soul), Albert Belle and Rocky Colavito. Bob Feller was a true war hero and in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The man earned his right to be cranky. Belle and his bicep have always been that way. It is part of his charm. Colavito got screwed out of the Hall of Fame.  Lofton, however,  hasn't done anything to endear him to the fans to put up with his crankapotamous ways. Yes, yes, I have fond memories of the 90s, but that and ten bucks will buy me a bleacher ticket if I get it early. 

There are Tribe fans out there now that weren't even in elementary school when Lofton made his leaping catches against the wall. Who is buying Lofton shirts and jerseys? Waiting in line for his autograph? Old timers like me, that's who. 

I like Swisher's attitude. Yes, he is the Energizer Bunny on a cocktail of Red Bull and Pixy Stix, but he has heart. He wants to see this team win. Lofton, well,  all he seems to want is his paycheck at the next memorabilia signing. 

I would love for Lofton to come around and embrace the current team, and the fans again. I would welcome him with open arms if he were only a little less of a jerk. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Summit Racing Equipment I-X Piston Powered Auto Rama Giveaway WINNER

The winner for the Summit Racing Equipment I-X Piston Powered AutoRama ticket giveaway has been randomly selected and notified. 

Thank you all for entering. 

I hope to see you this weekend at the AutoRama! You can still get tickets here.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Summit Racing Equipment I-X Piston Powered Auto Rama Giveaway!

Here is your opportunity to see all things that go VRRROOOMMM!

The Summit Racing Equipment I-X Piston Powered Auto Rama is rolling into the I-X Center March 14-16 and I have a set of 4 General Admission tickets to giveaway!

More than 1,000 vehicles - including custom cars, bikes, boats, aircraft, tractors, military vehicles, and monster trucks will fill more than a million square feet of indoor space at the I-X Center. Get your walking shoes on! 

This event will also feature interactive displays, car clubs, a swap meet and more. This is a great place for kids to burn some fuel with the All American Soap Box Derby Indoor Track, Gravel Pit, Monster Truck display, Zipline and the Cleveland Browns "Im-"Pound Lot featuring Cleveland Browns Backers busses.  Kids or no kids, I am making a beeline for the Soap Box Derby Track!

Kids under 6 are FREE and you can snag tickets from the place that saves you the runaround, Discount Drug Mart.  Check out this link for more ticket information here.  If you are a military member, first, thank you, second, check out this link for discount tickets here

I'm looking forward to the military vehicles and the Corvette Grand Sport Roadster built for the Fast Five movie. Yes, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker used this car for filming of the movie. 

Ok, now for the YAYYY!

The peeps were super awesome and are giving me 4 general admission tickets to giveaway!

There are a couple of ways to enter to win tickets, so make sure you leave a separate comment for each method of entry. I let a computer program pick the winner, so if you don't comment, you lose an entry.

Bummer for you if you don't follow directions. 

You can also tweet daily, but make sure you come back and leave a comment.

1. Leave a comment telling me what would be your favorite thing to see at the AutoRama.
2. Tweet the following: "I want to win a pair of tix to the @SummitRacing I-X Piston Powered AutoRama from @clevelandchick! #VROOM
3. Follow the @IXCenter on the Twitter. 
4. Follow @clevelandchick on the Twitter.
5. Follow @SummitRacing on the Twitter.
You have until Friday, March 14 at noon to enter. Remember, you can tweet once per day. Let's face it, if you tweet more than that, people will want to hurt both of us, so be cool.

Disclosure: I was given 4 general admission tix for myself and 4 to giveaway to you fabulous readers. All the words here are my own and currently fueled by the extra cup of coffee I should have not consumed.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Grand Canyon Jeep Tour

Grand Canyon Jeep Tour. Best idea ever. 
I have seen the Grand Canyon several times from the air, primarily on the way to Vegas. This was my first up close and personal visit to the Canyon. 

After returning from Spring Training last year, my dad dropped hints that the Grand Canyon was on his bucket list, so this year I had to make it happen. 

Planning a trip to the Grand Canyon seemed a bit overwhelming to me, so I left it to the professionals and scheduled a tour through the Grand Canyon Jeep Tours peeps.  We went with the Sunset Tour package and I am here to tell you, it was awesome. The tour took us through the Kaibab National Forest to the Canyon's edge. Our guide, Colleen, was knowledgeable about every aspect of the tour, from the wildlife, to great picture taking spots to how to find pine nuts.

Bloggity blog note...the only picture that was adjusted with a filter is the one of the jeep.

The drive to the Grand Canyon from Phoenix is about 3 1/2 hours and we decided to make a day trip of it. 

A friendly cactus waving us along. 

With any road trip, you need snacks. I grabbed this and I want to let you know that the Turbos Flamas burnt a hole through my tongue. 

The Kaibib National Forest was beautiful. We didn't see much wildlife, but there was quite a bit of fire damage from campers that didn't properly extinguish their camp fire and several lightning strikes. 

There are numerous trees that have tags on them, making them Bearing Trees. You can get a map, and use the trees to, ahem, get you bearings. This was key in the time before GPS locators. Word of note, around this area my phone service started to die out. 

This 80 foot high tower is used to monitor for forest fires. There is a 70+ year old man that climbs this tower 5 or 6 times a day during the season. I made it to the first platform or so before I chickened out. You can climb almost to the top. 

I'm going to let the next few pictures speak for themselves. The view was majestic. You can climb around at your will and in some areas I was a braver than others. There was some teen trying to do hand stands at the Canyon edge.

I don't recommend that. 

The ravens were ginormous.

Not every day you see a mountain lion crossing sign. 

This is my favorite picture. 

During one of our stops, the tour guide, Colleen, shared with us the Navajo legend of ghost beads, made from juniper berries. The Navajo and other tribes use the dried berries in jewelry, creating pieces that are meant to offer harmony and protection to those that wear them. Colleen then gave us all a bracelet made from the ghost beads.

It was pretty darn cool. 

If you are planning a trip out West, this tour needs to be on your stop.