Sunday, June 28, 2009

Korea trip Day 1 – Sweet Home Chicago!

Greetings from O'Hare Airport!

We decided early on to go to Chicago for a night before heading on to Seoul. It made a lot more sense. We had a 12:30 flight from Chicago (11:30 AM Boston time), so getting to Chicago, changing planes and getting on our flight to Korea would have required us to get up, well, really, really early. 

The flight to Chicago was very uneventful. We took off pretty much on time and actually landed early. The problem came with what we discovered (or rather, didn’t discover). My thyroid medication somehow got left at home. Now, I could survive a couple of weeks without it, but I would be really, really tired. Needless to say, this is a problem.

When we landed, I called my home CVS store. The woman I spoke to told me that they could transfer the prescription to any CVS, even in Illinois.  After some time on the hotel's business center Internet and a few phone calls, we found a CVS not too far from the airport that could fill the prescription. We hired a cab, drove to the store, picked up the prescription and went back to the hotel. Crisis averted!

I'm hoping that's the biggest problem we have on this trip.

The CVS detour put a bit of a dent in our plans to go into the city, but we still wanted to have some fun. So we took the train into the Loop, got some snacks for the trip at a 7-Eleven, and walked up the Magnificent Mile for a bit. Michigan Ave. was just full of people, so it was a great day to take in the scenery and people-watch.

After strolling around for a bit, we headed over to the Weber Grill. We had read about this place online - essentially, all the food is cooked on Weber grills. We had made a reservation, so we didn't wait too long, but they were telling walkups there was a 45-60 minute wait. The food was excellent - A. had a steak and I had the beef brisket. Both were very good. The kids both had kids meals and these massive malted shakes. They couldn't finish them, even with our help!

Full and tired, we headed back to the hotel for a good night's sleep in advance of today's 13 hour flight. More from Korea, as time and access permit!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

We leave for our long-awaited trip to Korea on Saturday. We fly to Chicago, spend the night and fly direct to Seoul the next morning. The flight is 13 hours long, and we lose 14 hours due to the time change, so we leave Sunday around noon and don't get to Incheon airport until Monday afternoon. The Nintendo DS's and iPods will be fully charged!

I'm going to be documenting the trip each day. When I have Internet access, I will upload my entries to the blog. I also opened a Flickr account, which you can reach at the following link:

We're excited about the trip; a little anxious about being so far from home, too. I think it'll be a lot of fun, though!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The magic number of the day is 500. That number, of course, represents the number of consecutive sellouts the Red Sox have had at Fenway Park as of tonight. The Sox broke the Cleveland Indians record of 455 some weeks ago.

A few facts: The streak started during the 2003 season. Over 38 million people have seen games at Fenway since then. Terry Francona has never managed a game in front of an empty seat at Fenway Park

I think there are three factors that led to the streak. First, the success of the team. The Red Sox have been in the playoffs 5 out of 6 years since the streak started, won two World Series and reached game 7 of the ALCS two other times.

Second, the Red Sox ownership has done everything possible to make Fenway Park a more pleasant place to visit. Yeah, the wooden seats in the grandstand are a nightmare for anyone over 5 foot 7, but they have done an amazing job in opening up areas in the park to make the experience of spending time there a more pleasant experience. The Big Concourse is the best example of this, but there are lots of areas of the park that have been opened up to lessen the claustrophobic feeling you could sometimes get during the Yawkey era. Oh, and the Monster Seats are still the coolest seats in baseball.

Finally, none of this would be possible without the devotion of Red Sox fans. We stuck with this team while we suffered the 86-year drought, the questionable management decisions and, for many years, outright racism of the Yawkey regime and the lack of amenities in the ballpark. The excitement and championships of the last few years are our reward for that. People are going to look back at the first decade of the 21st century as a golden era in Boston sports.

So congratulations to Red Sox Nation. It's not looking like this streak is going to end anytime soon.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Loved the Sox sweep of the Yankees this week. Last night's 8th inning comeback win against C.C. Sabathia and the Yanks hideous other-than-Mo bullpen was a thing of beauty.

I have a different topic for tonight, though. Does anyone else find really bad teams fascinating? I don't mean your typical 90-95 loss 5th place finishers. I'm talking about epically bad teams: the 1962 Mets, the 2003 Detroit Tigers. Looking over longer periods of time you can talk about the Red Sox for most of the post-Babe Ruth period until Tom Yawkey bought the team; the Washington Senators and St. Louis Browns over most of their pathetic existences. The Philadelphia Phillies over much of their first century. In fact, of the 23 major league teams that played less than .300 ball for a full season, nine belong to either the Phillies or the Philadelphia A's.

This year's example is, of course, the Washington Nationals. Entering tonight, the Nats are 16-42 (.276), 19 games behind the first place Phillies. Their pitching is the worst in baseball with a 5.33 ERA. Their bullpen has managed to blow 12 of their rare save opportunities. They're also last in the league in fielding, which doesn't help the pitching much. All this can't make up for a mediocre offense.

These bad teams are a bit like a car accident: terrible, but I can't turn my head away. I'll be keeping an eye on the Nationals for the rest of the year.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

I know I haven't posted much lately, but things have been crazy busy. Last week was especially busy: J. had Little League games Monday, Wednesday and Saturday and a band concert Thursday. R. and I went to the Red Sox-Rangers game on Friday (more on that in a separate post) and we went to the Berkshires for New Camper Day for her at the overnight camp both kids will be attending next summer. Oh, yeah, and I had to work, too...

So, here are a few thoughts as the Sox and Yankees get together again tonight:
  • According to Dan Shaughnessey in today's Globe, the Red Sox and Yankees are 75-75 in head-to-head competition since the beginning of the Henry/Werner/Lucchino era in 2002 (including postseason). It's great not being the nail anymore.
  • The new Yankee Stadium has turned out to be a real launching pad. Through 56 games (28 home, 28 road), the Yankees have hit 53 home runs at home and 35 on the road. Yankees pitchers have given up 47 bombs in the Bronx and only 29 on the road. In total, 100 home runs have been hit in Yankees home games and only 64 in road games. This means it's 56% more likely that a home run will be hit in Yankee Stadium than on the road. Slightly more than 1/3 of the season isn't a huge sample size, but I think it's a good indicator of how the new ballpark is playing. (Thanks to for the splits.)
  • Back in college, there were two arcade video games I spent lots and lots of quarters on. One, not surprisingly, was Star Wars. You flew an X-Wing with the goal of destroying the Death Star. The game had vector graphics and sounds pulled from the movie soundtrack - Obi-Wan would say "The Force will be with you, always." when you blew up the Death Star. The other game I played a lot of was Punch-Out. It was a boxing game where you fought various cartoon characters, starting with Glass Joe and working your way up. It has been a big hit on various Nintendo consoles over the years, and was just released for the Wii. I'm planning to get it soon, so I can see if I still have the skills to take out the champ. I'm guessing no; my video game reflexes aren't what they used to be...

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