It's late July, and the home dates on the Cardinals' calendar is dwindling. It's good because we get a little closer to (possibly) seeing playoff baseball in our little town. But bad because no one wants to see the baseball season end, even if it is about 430 days long.
And you might be thinking about how fast this summer has gone by. You might want one or two last bits of excitement before the Rams come in and ruin your fall. This list below gives you some top-notch options of where to go and when. They are all weekends, since I know you are vital to your company and can't be away from the office for more than a day or so.
And if you're like me - not vital at all, but can't be out for more than a half day without all hell breaking loose.
So in order from now until the end of the season, here are five baseball road-trips you can still make this summer:
Where: Springfield, MO
When: Fri July 30 - Sun August 1
Who: Springfield Cardinals vs. Northwest Arkansas Naturals
I was at a couple games in Springfield during the summer of 2008. One of the in-game promotions was that if a Cardinal hit a home run that inning, everyone in the park would get a free sundae at one of the local ice cream places. Since that day, I've always had a special place in my heart for Tyler Greene, who sent us home a little happier. As for the weekend suggested above, Saturday the 31st is I-70 throwback night, in which the Cardinals will wear powder blue unis, and Naturals (Royals affiliate) will wear 1985 throwbacks. The Naturals have a few good prospects, including Eric Hosmer (#3 pick in '08), and former Mizzou SP Aaron Crow. Plus, they've got one of the best names in minor league baseball - Rowdy Hardy. Yes, that's his name and it's fucking outstanding. If all of that doesn't make you want to clear your weekend, I can't help you. You are a communist. Also, be sure to say 'hi' to Sign Guy for us. He owes Hooks a bunch of Domino's pizza coupons.
Where: Kansas City, MO
When: Fri August 13 - Sun August 15
Who: Royals vs. Yankees
Alright, I'm refraining from any "go and visit your little brothers" jokes here. It's tough, so I'll talk fast and get it over with. There is a lot of appeal to head west for this series: A) The Yankees are a really good ballclub with a lot of talent that you don't get to see in person every year. Actually, the Yanks have visited Busch only once since interleague play started in '97. Makes lots of sense. B) You might dislike and/or laugh at the Royals and their fans, but you hate the Yankees, so go join in the fun. If you're gonna act like an ass, go do it 250 miles or so across the state. C) It'll actually be a big, raucous crowd at Kauffman, which was renovated (completed last year) and looks a lot nicer. How many more chances will you get to yell "Jeter's a Homo!" I rest my case.
Where: Memphis, TN
When: Fri August 27 - Sun August 29
Who: Memphis Redbirds vs. Round Rock Express
I finally made my first trip to Memphis about a year ago, and it left me wondering why the hell that took so long. The Redbirds have a pretty nice park, which I've noticed is common among a few of the Cardinals' minor league stadiums. I'm not sure if that's just a coincidence, or if it's a reflection on ownership. Either way, I applaud the effort. Okay, enough boring shit - Memphis is awesome. BBQ, beer, and baseball: what else could you really ask for? And Beale St. was pretty cool. I wasn't sure what to expect, but spending a few days there last year, I highly recommend going. Plus, the beauty of minor league parks is that you'll always have a good, cheap seat. Oh, and Brad Thompson pitches for Round Rock. THE Brad Thompson. Go.
Where: Chicago, IL
When: Fri September 24 - Sun September 26
Who: Cubs vs. Cardinals
Do I have to explain anything to you on this one? It's always good to clinch the division at home, but if there's an almost-as-good place to do it, Wrigley's the spot.
Where: St. Louis, MO
When: Sat October 2 - Sun October 3
Who: Cardinals vs Rockies
The last Cardinal game of the season is always fun. Sure, it can be bittersweet if the boys aren't making the playoffs, but after this winning streak, the outlook is a lot better than it was just a couple weeks ago when the Cards and Rockies last met. The reason I'm including Busch is that with a 1:05 Saturday day game, you and some friends could get a hotel room Saturday night and get absolutely hammered downtown. I'm sure the mayor's office will provide a scorecard of who still has their liquor license by then (/rimshot). Then on Sunday, stumble over to the stadium to see the ultra LaRussa wet dream - playing 36 guys in one game. It's always a four hour game with the double-switches, pinch runners, curtain calls, etc. which means getting even more obliterated. I'm chalk full of great ideas today.
-Gateway Grizzlies in Sauget, IL (You know you want a donutburger. And strippers.)
-Omaha Royals (Royals AAA affiliate) in Omaha, NE (Last year at historic Rosenblatt Stadium)
-Peoria Chiefs (Cubs Low-A) in Peoria, IL
-Quad Cities River Bandits (Cards Low-A) in Davenport, IA (If Shelby Miller's pitching, that's a huge bonus)
-Louisville Bats (Reds AAA) in Louisville, KY