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The Cold Filtered Ramblings of Gene Mueller

It Lasted 10 Days, But Felt Like Ten Minutes

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        For me, the best ten days of summer already came and went.

        I'm not talking Summerfest, or State Fair which still has  five days to go.

        It's my annual baseball trip with my son--anticipated for months on my calendar, gone in what seemed like a flash.

       It was our fifth annual road swing, this time taking us to the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area.     My boy does the choosing and the scheduling--I'm the traveling secretary, in charge of rooms, travel, tickets and eats.

       We toured downtown Baltimore, it's famed Inner Harbor and Little Italy neighborhood, as well as the legendary Camden Yards.    The ballpark, hailed as the first of the  retro-era stadiums, truly lives up to it's billing as one of the finest places in America to see a baseball game.    Modern, clean, respectful of the team's past, Oriole Park is  filled with smart, opinionated fans who know the sport and who don't suffer fools.       Even the Yankees backers in attendance the weekend we were there were cordial--I talked with a few who had good things to day about Miller Park and the Brewers.      Better still: no wave, no matter how dull things got on the field.     

       See, I told you they were smart.

       We also did two games at RFK Stadium in it's final year of service to the Washington Nationals who hop across the river to a new ballpark next season.      The Nats are desperately trying to create an identity, and they are to be lauded for their efforts which include "The Racing Presidents": Jefferson, Washington, Lincoln, and a ridiculously grinning Teddy Roosevelt who do a Sausage-esque race down the right field line to home plate to the cheers of thousands.       Again, the fans who were there were into the game, even though Washington continues to live up to it's billing from days gone by: first in war, first in peace, and last in the Big Leagues.

       We tossed in a raft of minor league stops, too: the Frederick Keys, who play in a stadium just across the street from the cemetery of Francis Scott Key (get it...Keys?)...the Delmarva Shorebirds who cavort down the road from Ocean City, Maryland, a town that just happened to be making national news that week because of a woman who was allegedly stashing the bodies of her dead newborns in her home.     

       Each night we'd scoot back to Baltimore, our rental car's satellite radio tuned to Bob Uecker and Jim Powell (strange hearing Hardware Hank ads in the middle of Crab Country) to follow the exploits of the Brewers...then switching over to see how the Cubs were doing (sorry, I'm supposed to be loyal to terrestial radio but this XM stuff has it's moments when it comes to being a ball fan on the road).

      Nights were spent bonding with ESPN SportsCenter, riffing on what we'd just seen on the diamond and what we were watching on the tube (is "Who's Now?" the dumbest feature ever created in the history of sports journalism?     By the by, did Tiger beat out LeBron?   And what happens to Erin Andrews and her incredible legs?).        The talk never got heavy, but the laughs were hearty and there was more than once when my son vowed we'd never stop hitting the road each summer (Dad, at that point, would strategically turn his head away and think of Erin's legs, trying to get the tear to clear from his eye).      Some 17 year old boys don't want to do ten minutes with The Old Man, much less ten days.     Any time I start feeling sorry for myself during the next year, I'll remember what we just shared and the promise of more to come.      It's the stuff that keeps you going.      It reminds you how lucky you are.

       So I guess the best ten day of summer really AREN'T over.      They're off the calendar, for sure.     But they'll always be in the head.

       And, in the heart.

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