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Notes on a Roadtrip to Arlington

Last night, I drove down to Ameriquest Field at Arlington (or whatever its official title is) to catch the A's-Rangers tilt.  Here, in no particular order, are some notes on the trip, the stadium, and the game...

  1. It's a three-and-a-half hour trip each way from my home in Norman, Oklahoma, to Ameriquest.  When I was in my twenties, driving three-and-a-half hours after an event concluded at 10:00 pm was no problem...in fact, it was kinda fun.  In my forties...not so much.
  2. Although there are many pleasant things about life in central Oklahoma, I very much miss the amenities of a real city (sorry, OKC), including of course MLB.  That being said, the Dallas Metroplex is still our nation's best approximation of Hell on Earth.
  3. Ameriquest is a very pleasant, if not particularly distinctive, stadium.  Then again, the same could have been said of the old Arlington stadium, a converted minor league bandbox that was charming if much the worse for wear. Ameriquest still has whatever the stadium equivalent of that new car smell is.  It's a very closed in and vertical stadium (I always think of old Tiger Stadium when I'm in a park like this), which I actually don't mind (especially given the none-too-scenic location).  It gives even a large stadium a kind of intimacy.  
  4. Right outside the stadium is a very snazzy Little League park, complete with grandstand done in a similar architectural style to the big stadium next door.  Clearly this was part of the Ameriquest Field project.  Which made me wonder:  how many big-league stadiums have Little League fields next to them?  Yankee Stadium has long had (much more rundown) Little League fields right next door. In fact, you'd walk through them when you parked in my favorite Yankee Stadium parking lot (like seemingly everything else in NYC, there are better and worse places to park at a Yankee game, and the better places are something of a closely guarded secret among those in the know).  I always liked  walking through the outfield of a little league game in progress as I approached the stadium. My guess is someone on the Ameriquest design committee had a similar experience.  
  5. Rangers fans seem knowledgeable and pleasant, if not particular passionate or boisterous. There was a good crowd of over 41,000 last night.  Dressed in full A's regalia (cap + Bill King AN throwback 3/4 sleeve jersey), I received my share of gentle ribbing, but it was always good natured. I spent some of the game talking baseball with a former Rangers season-ticket-holder sitting behind me (I was in the front row of a club-level box between home and first).  Thanks for contributing to a positive stadium experience, Rangers fans!
  6. I may have been the only A's fan in the entire stadium.  I saw not a single other person all night wearing anything Athletics-related.
  7. As y'all know, I picked the right game of the series to make the drive to Arlington.  I bought my ticket a few days ago, figuring that I might as well see Zito.  Little did I suspect that we'd be coming into the game with a losing streak, and that Z would need to step up and stop it. He pitched a terrific game.  And it was nice to see the A's offense really operating, too.  Having sat through Thursday's game on TV, however, I can tell you I never felt particularly comfortable with last night's lead, especially when Zito hit Teixeira and walked Blalock with two out in the sixth. In fact, it felt so dejavu-all-over-again that I was actually kind of relieved that we got out of the inning only giving up the three-run shot to Nevin. I'd half expected Zito to walk Nevin, then give up a slam to Mench!  (Incidentally, wouldn't it be nice to have a bottom third of the order that's hitting over .300?).
  8. Though it was a bit hard to tell from my angle, Street did not look like he had particularly good stuff last night.  Given the other options (RiverCats!), I was delighted that Macha went to Street with one out in the eighth, and was obviously pleased by the results. But I long to see Duke return.  And I'm worried that Street is still going through a pretty significant sophomore slump.
  9. All Rangers fans refer to Mench by his nickname: "Shrek."  Purely on the basis of the  movies, you wouldn't necessarily bet that "Shrek" would be so a popular nickname that two major league ballplayers would simultaneously claim it.
  10. It was a good night all around for the A's batters, but I was particularly happy about Thomas and DJ's performances. For two guys who have looked just awful and uncomfortable for much of the season, they looked confident and in control last night.  I'm feeling more optimistic about both of them than I have all season.
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