Goodbye Ohio, the not so friendly state
I was behind the wheel for the first time this trip as we crossed through Ohio for the fourth time in as many days, including three times through Columbus. Fortunately, we have left for good and not a day too soon. We were all happy to put the state behind us for good. I had the run-in with the motorcycle cop in Cleveland. Ron seems to have draw the ire of drivers every day. Today, Wayne got a taste of Ohio hospitality. We stopped at a McDonald's for his customary chicken salad lunch and he decided to try and get some change for a $20. The manager refused, saying she wouldnt open the till. Wayne said, "excuse me" in an attempt to get an explanation and she refused to acknowledge his request the first three times he asked. She pretended to be busy filling orders (we were the only ones there) before finally mumbling that she couldn't due to a lack of other bills. She never looked at him during the entire exchange, prompting Wayne to cancel his order. As a final #%€?+ you, Ron got 14 $1 bills as change for his order. Wayne and I left without eating, just in case they did something to the food. Ron soon decided that he needed a nap and turned the driving over to me - coincidence?
Indianapolis, like all of the cities that we have visited so far, has a smaller metropolitan population than Ottawa, yet can handle several pro sports teams at once. What's wrong with Ottawa? Indianapolis as far as we could tell is also just a government town. The downtown core is home to Victory Field (more below), Conseco Fieldhouse, home to the NBA's Pacers, and Lucas Oil Stadium, where the NFL's Colts play. These sports facilities are all within walking distance of each other. The same was true in Cleveland and Cincinnati and the arena was also right there in there downtown core. Pittsburgh's arena is also downtown, but not quite in the core with the other sports facilities. The football stadium was incredible to see. The 63,000-seat stadium has a retractable roof and the side windows can also be opened.
Victory Park, where we watched the Indianapolis Indians (Pittsburgh's AAA team) play the Louisville Bats (Cincinnati's AAA team), was named the best minor league ballpark by Sports Illustrated in 2001. It probably was the best stadium back then, but I have been to Bright House Stadium in Clearwater twice and I would put that ahead of it (sorry Indiana). Nevertheless, it was a beautiful place to watch a game. It had a view of downtown beyond center-field. On the first base side, you could see the football stadium and an old steel factory that spewed out steam the whole game, adding to the ambiance. But the best part w the friendly people. We talked about education with the people behind us and others were just as nice. We needed to see some friendly faces after our Ohio experience.
There were plenty of hits in the game, but not many runs. The Bats won 3-2 as Montreal-born Chris Leroux picked up the loss. He gave up three straight hits in the eighth. Our seats were in the very first row near the Indians' bullpen and we shouted encouragement to Leroux as he warmed up. He apparently didn't understand our French, ignored us, or is an anglophone (he grew up in Mississauga). The outfield walls were quite deep, prompting me to quip that we wouldn't see a home run. I was proven wrong a few innings later when one Indian player hit a ball off the fence in deep center and then another cleared the fence in right with the ball bouncing out onto the street.
It was Navy Day at the park. (I am not sure where they parked their ships). The Navy Leap Frogs parachute team performed before the game as a bunch of sailors stood in the outfield. Victory Field, another HOK design, was built in 1996. It is named to honor the city`s old stadium, which was named Victory Field following the U.S. and allied victory in WWII. Indianapolis has a rich history of baseball. It is celebrating its 125th year of continuous pro baseball. Stars like Harmon Killebrew, Roger Maris, Randy Johnson, and Ken Griffey played there on their way to the bigs. The Expos farm team used to be there and they had Expos styled hats (the red, blue and white ones) with a cursive I on the front.