The past weekend, I got to go to the ballpark twice, once to US Cellular and once to Progressive Field in Cleveland. I hate to steal a headline from an old post, but I had a better weekend than the Sox, again. I was lucky enough to see the White Sox only win against the Yankees. The most fun was watching Freddy Garcia. I have no idea how he manages to survive, let alone win when he pitches. Seriously his delivery is so slow that it looks like he is lobbing the ball to the plate. I can’t imagine how he doesn’t get hit by batted balls every time out. Freddy’s best attribute is that batters hit the ball really hard, but due to mathematics of baseball between 7 and 8 times the ball goes right at someone.
Other than the mystery that is Freddy Garcia, watching the Sox tee off on AJ Burnett was fun. Of course the win didn’t really mean much because the Twins managed to gain another game over the weekend as the Sox dropped two of three to the Yankees. I really didn’t get to watch much because I was back in my home town, dropping the kids off and picking up a bed. My folks planned to take the kids to PA and it left me alone Sunday.
It was pretty much on a whim that I went into Cleveland for the game versus the Royals. There were no worries about getting tickets, much like when I went as a teenager, walk up get a ticket. The crowd was reminiscent of when I was kid too, nobody was there and it was really bad baseball. The Royals and Indians combined for five errors, maybe six and I saw to fielder choices from the outfield. Talk about learning something new, two bloops that because the runner was forced at second, due to horrible base running, resulted in the 8-6 fielder choice in both cases and the batter was NOT (obviously) awarded a hit. I really like Progressive Field for watching a game; good sight lines, a very cozy feel when watching the game. I don’t like the walk ways being blind to the game, but it does offer an old-time feel like Wrigley or Fenway. It also is aging well, it doesn’t look shiny and new, but not run down in its 15 years. As this generation of ball parks age, I think Progressive will ultimately be considered one of the better ones.
The balance of the weekend, of Sunday really was spent running. I must have redone my route through Elyria four times until I hit the route that would take me through my home town and also memory lane. I can’t help but think of the Springsteen song, “My Hometown” when I’m back in Elyria. It definitely fits. As I ran my ten miles through the north side of the town, much has changed and not for the better. A country club near my folk’s home is now a public course and it looks a bit shabby. As I turned down Washington Street toward downtown, the old YMCA was for sale, something that was a stalwart of youth sports when I was a kid. Turning down Broad Street, it got even more depressing. I lost count of the abandoned stores. Many of the bars that I remember being hot spots as a teenager and twenty-something were all boarded up and it didn’t even look like the county offices were located downtown anymore. While I grant you that it was a Sunday it was beyond the Sleepy Sunday dead, but downright scary. It felt like I was in the middle of a Resident Evil movie, waiting for zombies to pop out at any second.
As I turned from Broad to Cleveland Street I braced myself for more of the same, more familiar places gone, more vacant lots and more shuttered windows. As I trudged on, I was a little surprised. The closed shops still outnumbered the one that I remembered, but a few things popped up. Unbelievably a joke shop called The Yellow Barrel was still around as was one of the few bars I was genuinely scared to enter, the Little Brown Jug, probably because of its reputation as a hangout of the biker gang Dirt and Grime. While my absolute favorite doughnut shop Sweet Crème is long gone, one of my favorite pizza places is still around, even though it changed location. So, maybe it isn’t quite as dire as I once thought and who knows, maybe there is a little life left.
I finished up my massive circuit by running through the old neighborhoods where high school friends once lived and it amazed me how small Elyria really is. When I was buzzing around these streets in my Oldsmobile it seemed like such a large place, now it was a distance that I cover in a couple of El stops. Looking at some of the houses where I hung out, I also realize that I’m looking for similar sized houses in Chicago and I never realized how small those houses were. Amazing how the world has shrunk and gotten larger in the past twenty years.
I finished my run, dehydrated, sore but oddly energized. The final run up a steep hill definitely added to all three but it was also the passage through the town that helped. It wasn’t depressing, well not totally. It was oddly up lifting to cruise along, remember places, see a few new things and a few old things still plugging along, like me.