Sunday, July 2, 2017

Day 5: Akron Rubber Ducks beat Erie Sea Wolves 6-5: You done messed up A-Akron!

Having gotten our fill of Major League Baseball, we left Greater Cincinnati (population: approx. 2 million), drove through Greater Columbus (population: approx. 2 million) and finished up just south of Greater Cleveland (population: approx. 2 million) in the bouncy little city of Akron, OH.  In Columbus, Zach took his gambling methadone swig and drove us into a casino, where we all wiled away the minutes surrounded by the type of people that go to a casino at 11AM on a Wednesday. 

The, as we had a bit of time to kill, we hit up some World’s Largest Things.  The former headquarters of the Longaberger Basket Company is shaped like a giant picnic basket, though it looks as though it’s been picked clean.  At the Longaberger Homestead, there is the largest apple basket, which is made from actual basket instead of concrete.  The apples, however, were less real than we had hoped.

The basket is almost as big as the pothole this man cheerfully drove us through on the Longaberger homestead

From the designated viewing area, the handles look like the McDonalds golden arches.  Mmm, McDonalds (give us advertising money?)

This picture says less about the basket and more about Pat

And if we weren’t basket cases enough, we decided to go completely cuckoo by visiting the world’s largest Cuckoo Clock in Sugar Creek, OH.  On the half and on the hour a small mechanical band comes out of the doors and plays for the little Dutch girl to dance circles around the boy.  The Sugar Creek area also had the highest concentration of Amish that we have seen on any trip.  If only they would make the Amish Independent Baseball League.

We took an Uber to the ballpark and were regaled with the down low about every strip joint and prostitution motel in the Akron area.  At first we thought the driver was being tongue-in-cheek and was poking fun at a recent fare he had picked up.  But as the ride continued, it seemed more like he was advertising for these establishments.  He kept on waiting for enthusiastic agreement when he made comments like “Women shouldn’t play football unless it’s in lingerie” despite Zach educating us all on various legitimate women’s professional football leagues he’s encountered in his work.

But enough of gender politics.  Time to see some fit, athletic young men get economically exploited by their bosses for the entertainment of the detached masses.


1.  The food.  Hoo baby, was there food.  Every major food station had at least one crazy creation.  Pictured below are

Not Your Routine Poutine, piled with gravy, pulled pork, green onions, bacon, and cheesecurds.
The cashier forced him to take several forks.  To keep him from doing something stupid, like eating this whole thing.

Pineapple TeriyAKRON Bowl, which is chicken teriyaki inside a pineapple.

Oh sweet mercy.  A fruit!

Notorious P.I.G. (or Two-Pig Shakur, as suggested by Zach’s wife, Amy), a bacon and pulled pork sandwich that uses pork chops as the bread.  The elderly patrons sitting next to us let out an audible chuckle when Zach brought this back with him.
Kentucky Fried Pork Double Down.  Or Double Bypass

2.  Not pictured are the Three Dog Night, which is a hot dog inside a bratwurst inside a kielbasa, the *illegible scribble notes* which was a turkey sandwich inside of apple fritters, and others.  Apparently they rotate out and introduce new extreme meals every season, so it may be worth a culinary excursion in future years to see what comes up.

3.  And if that food is too much heartburn, cool down with either the Screamer, five pounds of ice cream in a life-sized batting helmet, or a 32 oz. ice cream float… cut with a dark stout.  Boozy ice cream, folks!

4.  Furthermore, all these extreme foods had their own page in the program, complete with descriptions and which vendor to find them.  They want you eat this stuff.

5.  Another quality net this trip.  With the expensive luxury boxes up top, we saw several Reagan Fouls, where the ball careened into the rich seats before trickling down among the less fortunate. 
Ya buys ya tickit, ya takes ya chances

6.  Our best PA Guy of the trip thus far.  He did everything he could to get the “Quackron” crowd excited, enthusiastically enunciating every appellation.  Long home run calls, and called for everyone to get on their feet during the final inning, something we have not seen in quite a while.

7.  The jumbotron included pitch types in addition to just speed.  Not sure if they’re using Pitchf/x or just someone with a good eye, but it was fun to see.

8.  A few good names.  Cristin Stewart got a couple of Twilight comments while Mike Papi earned the nickname “Little Papi” after he hit a homerun in the first inning.  Sean Donatello was warming up in the bullpen, but we’re not sure he actually got into the game.

9.  One of the most confusing set of heckles we’ve ever heard.  “Hey, 35, how tall are you?  How tall are you, 35?”  After a minute.  “Hey 41!  How tall is 35?”

10.  The references in songs and media seemed to be designed by/for an audience older than the 12-24 demographic.  Andrew WK, Led Zepplin, Jimi Hendrix were all in the rotation.  They played classical music in the 4th for the “Lull the Opponents to Sleep Inning”, “So You Had a Bad Day” when a pitcher was called out of the bullpen, “Under Pressure” when the bases were loaded.  And a pump up video of the entire DuckTales intro, but performed by actual ducks!  We were much more excited when we thought it was a custom-produced thing, but turns out it’s been floating around the internet for several years now.

11.  It was Akron’s Funniest Home Video Night.  Normally we would expect this to be a pretty lackluster promotion, with a video or two between innings.  They turned it into a real thing, though, with funny games like “What Will Happen Next?” where the contestant guesses how the video will end.  They also kept a running competition for funniest video.  It was a kid who hit himself in the face with a rocket.  Our personal favorite was a young girl who terrified her older brother by hiding in a trashcan he was trying to take to the curb.

12.  You may remember L’il Jeets from Jersey.  Sitting in front of us was his antithesis, portly youngster in a wife-beater who knows what’s right in the world.  He shouted “Happy Birthday” to every person mentioned on the JumboTron during the birthday section.  He looked with disdain upon the section of the crowd that was trying to start The Wave (the seats don’t even go around the whole park, people).  And at the 7th inning recognition of veterans, there was this exchange.

                PA:  “Veterans, thank you for your service!”

                Not L’il Jeets:  “You’re welcome!”

13.  Everyone stood for the final out, though they had to be prompted by the PA guy. Ducks Win!

15.  The crosswalk in front of the park is lined with duck prints.
16.  Ten Dollar Hat Sale today and today only.  Ray and Zach had to coordinate so they wouldn't embarrass themselves with the same hat, like in Bowling Green.
17.  Everything was great, frankly.  The game was tense and interesting. The promotions and food were top of the line.  But then at the 7th inning stretch, the PA guy got us all on our feet to... listen to God Bless America.  She got through it pretty quickly, and we're not sure if it's a fixture at this park, but still.  We thought we'd avoided it after not hearing it on Sunday in Bowling Green, but...well, this just soured everything.

LAZY Metrics
8.5  This promotion team seems to be marketing straight at the 30-45 year-old crowd, instead of whatever ephemeral pop culture of the day there is.  The food options were spectacular and the game and everything around it was entertaining.   This could easily get bumped to a 9 with a bit more crowd involvement and, of course, the omission of GBA.

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