This blog was supposed to be about both travel and baseball, but on this leg the real priority became apparent. I traveled through some very scenic country in Utah, but didn’t stop to look because I had to cover about 650 miles to get to Albuquerque. And of course the reason for getting to Albuquerque was to see a game – the Isotopes against the Memphis Red Birds. So, travel got shortchanged.
But should you have occasion to travel from Ogden to Albuquerque, the first thing you will see is the Great Salt Lake, assuming you are not traveling in darkness as I was. Once you get south of Salt Lake City, and get off the freeway, you cover some spectacular country through the center and southern portion of Utah, including Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and other beautiful scenery all along the way. Shame on me for not spending more time enjoying it, but baseball called. At least I took a picture of Wilson Arch, just south of Moab.
The best business I’ve seen thus far was near Shiprock, N.M. – Big Rock Trading Post PAWN AND PROPANE.
The Albuquerque Isotopes and the Memphis Red Birds are part of the Pacific Coast League, one of two Triple A leagues in the country (there’s another one in Mexico). Isotopes Park is relatively new and quite large for a minor league stadium. It has two levels of suites and an upper deck. It is also following the recent trend of extending the screen out to the base on both the first and third base sides. It hasn’t caught up to the trend of eliminating the slope in center field, a la Houston. It does have a lovely terraced grass outfield seating area though (beyond the fence, of course).
In one area, the Isotopes are fully big league – their food prices are right there with the best of them. I was excited to get to Albuquerque because I knew I could get some good Mexican food. Apparently not at the Park. I had a burrito that was decidedly pedestrian.
It was 95 degrees at game time, so no jacket needed.
The skill level here was higher than in the previous two games, but that is to be expected because most of the players are older – some over thirty. Triple A is just one step below the Bigs, and some guys come down here for a while to work on particular skills, while some are just waiting to be called up. Most any of them could play in the Majors at any time and not embarrass themselves or their team, but there’s only so much room on that parent club roster.
This game was a home run derby – I lost track after while. Included in the barrage was a two out grand slam by the Isotopes that held up to insure the win.
There was a 20 second clock on the pitcher, an experiment in use to speed up the game. The umpires seemed to pay no attention to it though.
I like this picture of the bullpen. It is elevated above the field and looks like a cage. It doesn’t include the warmup area, of course. More on the bullpen in general in a later post.