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Biking for Baseball to the city of “Brotherly Love”

Biking for Baseball [www.bikingforbaseball.org] is a youth mentoring organization that cycled 11,000 miles to each MLB stadium this summer to raise funds and awareness for youth mentoring programs across the country. One of the riders, Chase Higgins @chaser_racer32, is a blogger who writes about baseball games they’ve been to and general MLB throughout the trip.

 

The Mets and Phillies have a strong rivalry due to proximity of their fan bases and relatively sustained success on the field. One of the two teams has won each NL East division title since 2005, and many years they have directly battled for playoff position. In 2007, you may remember the Mets completely collapsed at the end of the season, blowing a 7 game lead with 17 games remaining. The rivalry even dates back to Jim Bunning’s perfect game for the Phillies over the Mets in 1964; the 7th perfect game in the history of baseball.

The two teams met for the 869th time in the history of their series at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia in what was our 26th stadium this season. We had been getting very excited about seeing Phillies starter and 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels pitch against the Mets. Hamels has been one of the best pitchers in baseball since he came up with the Phillies in 2006, and he has been an anchor of the best starting rotation in baseball the last few years. Unfortunately, he also recently signed a large contract extension with the Phillies, so you can’t speculate trade rumors that he might be dealt to your team.

Hamels was a game-day scratch from the line-up due to an illness, so the Phillies went with Tyler Cloyd in his MLB debut. Cloyd was fairly impressive, going 6 innings allowing 3 runs and 7 hits. Mets pitcher Matt Harvey was slightly more impressive though. The only difference between the two pitcher’s outings was a 3rd inning home run off of Cloyd by Mets leftfielder Lucas Duda. That turned out to be the difference in the game as well, as the Mets beat the Phillies 3-2.

All of the runs were scored in the first 3 innings, with Duda’s game winner coming in the top of the 3rd. After that home run, only 7 batters reached base for either team the rest of the game. That’s kind of what we expected to see from a Phillies game. Even with it just a one-run game in the late innings, it felt like the team and the fans knew the Phillies wouldn’t make a challenge. One bright spot for the Phillies offense is that Juan Pierre raised his average above .300 and he hit the ball very hard each time he was at the plate. I’ve written about his lack of power on this blog, but we actually saw him hit a line drive off the top of the wall in right field! It was unbelievable, literally!

Citizens Bank Park opened its doors in 2004, and it is a very nice stadium. It’s got great concourses, and a very cool area to hangout in the outfield. My favorite part of the concourse is the All-Star Walk of Fame. Similar to Hollywood, granite markers on the ground pay tribute to each Phillies All-Star appearance. The player’s name, position, and year of All-Star game are all denoted on each marker. More teams should do something like that. Unfortunately, it was nearly impossible to get a picture of the concourse floor when 42,882 Philly phans were walking on it, but hopefully the description does it justice.

Our very generous host invited us to hang out in the corporate suite he was watching the game from. It was incredibly nice of him and the hosts of the suite to invite us to watch the game and share their food and drink with us. We met some great people who showed a great amount of interest in biking across the country to baseball games. It was nice to meet you all!

Citizens Bank Park has some great options for food and drink. They’ve got Tony Luke’s famous cheesesteaks, and the line for Chickie’s & Pete’s crab fries was outrageous. Apparently, that’s all they serve at that vendor in centerfield: crab fries. We’re not really sure what crab fries are, so if you want to let us know on twitter @Biking4Baseball, that would be great. They’re a big deal at Citizens Bank Park. We tried Tony Lukes while we were sightseeing in Philly, so we can safely say they have good cheesesteaks. I think I would have a difficult time staying skinny if I lived in Philly!

Citizens Bank Park is located directly next to Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Wells Fargo Center, home of the 76ers and the Fliers. The three stadiums share parking lots, and there is a very hip bar area between all of them called Xfinity Live! There is something going on at one of the three stadiums almost every night of the year, so this place has to always be happening. We would have spent a bit more time there if we didn’t have to get on our bikes for Toronto the following morning.

We had a great experience at Citizens Bank Park. We were bummed the home team lost, and we didn’t get to see the giant Liberty Bell ring and light up for a Ryan Howard home run celebration. We had fun, and we can’t wait to make it back to Philly!

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One Comment

  1. Kurt Smith

    February 14, 2013 at 10:16 am

    OK, I know I should go to Twitter too, but just for the record…crab fries are thin crinkle-cut fries that are jiggled in a seasoning that resembles Old Bay and served with a cheese sauce that is a mixture of American cheese and ranch dressing.

    They’re very popular and very tasty, but you should definitely have something to drink with them!

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