On my last vacation, I followed my beloved Chicago White Sox on a road trip. I took in three games in Kansas City versus the Royals and two in Arlington, Texas against the Rangers. I had a really great time, and took some notes about things I wanted to share with you.
Kansas City was wonderful. That’s a nice bunch of people down there. Everyone was very solicitous toward fulfilling my needs, from the hotel staffs (I stayed in two different places, just for fun), to restaurant people, to the ushers at the ballgame. I was really impressed at how kind everyone was, even at those times when I was wearing the opponent’s gear.
Kauffman Stadium, home of the Royals, is a very nice ballpark. They’ve made some nice recent improvements to the place, too, which made the experience even better than when I was there a few years ago. Beautiful fountains, a nice party deck, and the ability to buy a cheap seat and wander freely all appealed to me.
One thing that made me laugh every night was the hot dog races they’d show on the Jumbotron screen. It was a race around the bases each night between the Mustard dog, the Ketchup dog, and the Relish dog. First off, the race between these cartoon hot dogs was underscored with the theme from the Benny Hill Show. That’s guaranteed to make me smile right off the bat. Secondly, the fine folks of Kansas City, at least the ones I was around each night, had what I would describe as an odd penchant for rooting for the Relish hot dog. Not that there’s anything wrong with relish, it just seems like mustard or ketchup would be a more popular choice. Big relish town, Kansas City, so it would seem.
It has been a long time since I’ve been on an airplane. Haven’t had occasion in almost ten years, I suppose. One thing that I loved was the ability to check in, change a seat assignment, and get my boarding pass all without a single sheet of paper, thanks to my so-called “smart phone.” I was actually surprised that I seemed to be the only person doing this. Everyone else had a paper boarding pass, at least everyone that I could see board did. But when it came my turn, I made my phone display my boarding pass barcode, which the agent dutifully scanned and I was on my way with nary a tree threatened.
The first game in Arlington, there was a 2½-hour rain delay before the game started. This was okay with me, as I spent the time wandering around this stadium I had never been in before. They have a museum in the stadium with some great Rangers history. A vivid memory from my youth is being in bed, listening to the White Sox play in the old Arlington Stadium on 67 WMAQ. I thought it was so neat that they could be so far away, down in the sweltering heat of Texas, and that I could hear them on the radio in Chicago. Looking at some of the photos of the old stadium really took me back to those days of yore.
Once we got around to approaching gametime, two things of note happened. One, I thought whoever runs the audio at Rangers Ballpark was very clever to play “The Stripper” as they took the tarp off the field. I’m not sure if anyone else appreciated it, but I thought it was cute. The other thing was, the people in Texas actually sing the National Anthem. Oh, you’ll get a few people elsewhere who warble along, but a much higher percentage in Texas gave it full throat. I thought that was neat.
My final observation from vacation is something I’ve never seen before: The Coke machine in my hotel in Arlington wouldn’t take coins. Nothing too surprising there, I guess, but try this: It also didn’t take dollar bills. It only accepted credit cards. I guess this makes life easier on the schlub who has to service the thing, since they only have to deliver the product now, not collect the money. I’m as yet unsure how I feel about this new concept.
Okay, one more thing: If a short man who looks a little bit like Santa only with very small hands named Karl wants to do Jägerbombs with you, just say no. There are three other people in the world that I know can back me up on this advice. The rest of you are just going to have to trust me.