Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 13: Quad City River Bandits; Davenport, IA. In Which Our Heroes Disprove Linear Time, Find Jesus Twice Simultaneously, and Gamble Away Their Gas Money

There are two main things we learned today. First, Minnesota has nothing in it except awesome independent baseball.

Second, Iowa is on the way to everywhere. We have now officially entered and/or exited Iowa six times, at least once from each cardinal direction. We tried not to stop here, but since gambling is legal Zach forced us to.

On a related note, we're pretty fried. Over the past three days there has been a lot of driving: over 24 hours' worth. Ben finished rereading Suetonius’s biographies of the Julio-Claudians and the Flavian dynasty of Roman Emperors. Zach napped. That's why we're so glad to be hitting the road for just 3 hours today before spending 3 glorious days in my adopted hometown of Chicago. Let us know if you're in the area!

Now, as a result of all this driving, we did get to see some awesome things. For example, we got to see the world’s largest frying pan. It is exactly what it is. A big frying pan. Worth seeing but not describing.
There. Worth seeing.

Unfortunately, we're just a bit early for the event of the summer there in Brandon.

We also saw the Czechiest diner ever when we stopped for breakfast in New Prague, Minnesota. Just check our their SWEET jukebox.
Czech out that sweet polka collection. Beat that, any other bar or restaurant or bowling alley in the world. And the best part? It's ALL FREE!

Much more awesomely, we got to see the future birthplace of Captain James Tiberius Kirk. If you don’t believe the recent-ish movie, you probably know that the captain of the Enterprise (or in this case, the Riverside, due to small Iowa towns not wanting to pay royalties to Paramount) will be born in Riverside, Iowa in 2233. There is a model of the Enterprise (excuse me, U.S.S. RIVERSIDE), a plaque behind a barbershop that's supposed to become the actual birthstone, and a Kum ‘n Go at which we got much needed gasoline. We can only hope a woman in Riverside actually has a kid and names him James Tiberius Kirk in 2233.
Guys, it's not the Enterprise. That would've cost $40,000.

Screw linear time. Linear time killed my family way back in 2027.

We continued on via some fun state and county roads to Davenport, Iowa. There, the ballgame happened. After St. Paul, the rest of the world of MiLB just seems a little...duller, though, frankly, a little warmer. Minnesota camp sites are chilly even in late June.

After the game, I (Zach) decided to gamble away the trip's gas money. Fortunately, thanks to a video poker full house that won $50 and 10 or 11 (I lost count) straight dealer busts at the Blackjack table, I was up a hundred bucks. Which I promptly spent on alcohol and front row seats for the Georgia Force arena football league team. Man, I love gambling.

Anyway, back to the deadliest game of all.


1.) After 2 strikes, they play Mortal Kombat’s “Finish Him”. Only once or twice did the pitcher actually do so, but still...awesome.

2.) We got “Free Parking”. We had to pay 2 bucks, but we got coupons for 2 “Bandit Bucks” worth a dollar apiece on stadium food and merchandise. Since the nature of our trip involves buying stuff, this worked out to free parking.

3.) Nice view of the river/bridge. If we’d been seated as high as we were in Pittsburgh, it would’ve reminded us of PNC Park, the pinnacle of the major league experience.
In Quad Cities, always sit on the 3rd base side. When that bridge lights up at night, it's a real pretty background.
The view from higher up. Very nice, Quad cities! Real PNC feel.

4.) Real Fruit Smoothies, with the Real Fruit even on display.

5.) Ren and Stimpy danced on the NotSoJumbotron. Ahhhh, childhood!

6.) Stupid statisticians putting wrong numbers up the scoreboard. For instance, it is not possible to have 25 hits in 24 at bat, much less have a .191 batting average while doing so. This was not a lone example: Mike Swinson was a downright impressive 45 for 27. That's beginning to approach Ty Cobb territory.

7.) Smooth dancing batboy. An Inspector Gadget dance, a Michael Jackson mix, and other entertainment. Much better dancer than Rascal the Raccoon. Really, I don't even like dancing, and I have to admit the guy was pretty good.

8.) The Kidz Zone is in the direct line of most foul balls. We agreed that this was funny, but disagreed as to whether the ballpark deserved “respect” for this. We’ll leave it up to y’all and fail to be persuaded regardless. Is incompetence with an amusing result deserving of respect?

9.) We finally saw a good mullet. No, not good. Great. TRANSCENDENT. It was bordering on a skullett, but it was true redneck goodness with shoulder length hair and no bangs. I'm really sorry I didn't sneak a picture, guys...

10.) Kids racing on toilets. Very funny.

11.) Vodka sno-cones. I can’t help thinking that these turn out really bad. Like when you ruin a good watermelon by dipping it in vodka and it tastes so nasty that you don’t want to eat it and you don’t get either the watermelon or the vodka. Vodka Sno-Cones strike me the same way.

12.) Jesus. We saw Angel DeJesus pitch against Jesus Campos. While we hoped to see an unassisted triple play with no one on base and one out, we did see a nice play in left field. Take what we can get.

13.) In the first inning alone, no fewer than 4 wild pitches and passed balls leading to 2 runs scoring. Did I mention this is our first Low-A class game?

Regularly Scheduled Metrics:

6.2 pts: $5.75/24 ounces. Quad Cities, much like Nebraska, also showed a price differential for crappy vs. non-crappy beer. I guess it's not just a Nebraska thing, and more of a awesome-people-do-it-and-people-who-don't-care-or-know-anything-about-beer-don't-kinda thing.

Most Caloric Item
4 pts: Maybe the Ridiculously Oversized Pork Sandwich. A chop literally twice as big as the bun. But we gotta give it to the chili cheese fries. Also, depending on how much free cheese you wanted to add to your bratwurst, this could technically be a 10-pointed.

Minor League Personalities
4 pts: Minor League Diehards galore. Major League Fan? I've never seen so many damned Cubs fans at a game that's the Angels vs. the Cardinals. What the hell? Tons of Families Out for a Nice Night Together, and lots of Teenagers on Dates, too. So many families that they have a designated section for no swearing and no drinking. Alas, no local celebrities or minor league groupies.

Free Seats: 

0 pts: Not much to report, and a real downer after St. Paul.

Funniest Roster Name
6 pts: Angel DeJesus is the second best Angel name we know, after the Mets’ Angel Pagan

6 pts: BBoy McCoy was more entertaining than I would have expected. They also had dizzy bats on crutches, which was less entertaining than I would have expected. Toilet races are also fun.

1 pt: Honestly, after another 8 hour drive, we sorta forgot to make note of this while we were there. One point as an apology. We're pretty sure that's all they deserved, anyway.

Men's Room
5 pts: Do we need to say there were 6 urinals or can I just start doing the points.

Bonus points
+2 for "FINISH HIM!" (would've been worth five if they'd played any fatality video clips), +1 for Bandit Bucks free parking, +1 for Ren and Stimpy, +5 for MULLET OF DOOM, +3 for consistently hilarious statistical screw-ups, +4 for Kid's Fun World Death Trap, +1 for the riverside park with real river view, +4 for 4 wild pitches and passed balls in one inning

Total: 53.2. Respectable placement.

Final Take: As we said, it's going to be really hard to top St. Paul, and everything just seems a little tame by comparison. It was still an objectively awesome experience, but it just...lacked that certain something, that certain spark, that energy we've felt at other ballparks. Maybe chalk it up to a Wednesday night game. 6/10.

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