In Detroit, we have plenty of Coney Islands. Some, such as National Coney Island, are part of a very large chain. However, if you want to go to a more historical (and some might argue authentic) Coney Island, then you have to go to either Lafayette Coney Island, or American Coney Island.
There’s often a debate as to which place has the best Detroit-style coney dogs. The best part in settling this great debate? The two restaurants are literally next door to each other.
When I found out that Ben Christensen of the MLB Fan Cave was coming to Detroit, I thought it’d be a great idea to take him along for the experience, so he could get his first real taste of Detroit. For simplicity, I brought my friend Dana, too. There was no way I was going to let this end in a tie.
For our first taste, we went to American Coney Island. We were told to seat ourselves, and were served fairly quickly. There was no real atmosphere to the place, but we were seated and served very quickly. Without much delay, we received our first coney dogs of the day.
The Detroit-style coney dog is pretty simple. It’s a hot dog on a bun, covered with chili, mustard and onions. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t often order them, so I’m by no means an expert. I enjoyed the American Coney dog, and found the combinations of flavors and textures came together deliciously.
From there, we took 5 steps out the door and found ourselves at Lafayette Coney Island. Some things that you’ll quickly notice is that the dining area is significantly smaller, and it looks a lot more old fashioned than American Coney Island.
Similar to American Coney Island, we were told to seat ourselves and within 5 minutes, our coney dogs were served. From a visual standpoint, you could tell that the hot dogs were prepared differently here, and I wasn’t sure if that was going to lead to good or bad things.
After a couple bites (not that it takes more than a couple bits to eat a coney dog), I had made up my mind. But before I revealed my answer, I wanted to wait to hear what Dana and Ben decided (I’ll be honest, I was hoping to cast the tie-breaking vote).
Ben and Dana both voted Lafayette Coney Island, which meant that I was the only one who picked American Coney Island. Don’t get me wrong, they were both delicious, but a decision needed to be made.
So what did we learn? I think the lesson to be learned is that Detroit makes great coney dogs. If you ever find yourself in Detroit, try them both out and decide for yourself!
Is the always grass greener on the other side? It’s an old saying, and it certainly has a way to apply to all of our lives. Whether it’s dealing with a relationship, work or some other trivial decision, we can’t help but second guess ourselves.
Perhaps it’s human nature, but we often find ourselves wondering if things would be so much better, if only they would change. I’m here to tell you that I don’t believe that’s necessarily true.
To use an expression that my grandmother heard from her friend, “You know why the grass looks greener on the other side? Because it’s been fertilized with B.S.”
No, things aren’t always better on the other side. There’s usually a good reason why you have the things you have, and it’s probably because at one point in time, you wanted them. To have some sort of grand illusion that all you’ve worked for is useless, well that’s an unfortunate way of looking at things.
A lot of people just simply can’t be happy with the things in their life. Whether it’s that they’ve gotten tired of the things around them, or feel they could do better, I’ll never quite understand. If you don’t appreciate all that you have now, why will that change when you acquire something new?
Now this isn’t to say that you aren’t allowed upgrades in life. More often than not, I do feel like people deserve the finer things in life. The point I want to make is that you may not realize it, but it may not be worth it to take everything you have, only to throw it away on some sort of a whim.
So before you go checking to see which side is greener, make sure you know how green your side is first.
Over the weekend, I was able to take a quick and fun trip to Chicago. Not only was I able to go to a baseball stadium that I haven’t been to before, but I got to have to spend some quality time with my brother, sister-in-law and catch up with a friend I haven’t seen in a while.
My trip started early on Saturday morning (a lot earlier than I’d like, but was necessary due to the lengthy drive), as I headed to my brother’s condo. From there, we began our adventure. Being in the backseat and running on little sleep, I didn’t make it too far before I fell asleep.
The next thing I know, the car is slowing down and we’re entering the parking structure at FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek. I’ve only been to the casino once before, but was able to turn a profit. Despite being half awake, I still felt confident that I would be able to repeat my success.
I started off by playing a Ghostbusters slot machine, and I got to say, I was thoroughly entertained. I only won five dollars off the machine, but I got plenty of laughs while playing it. I bounced around to a few other penny machines, and sure enough, I left with a 30 dollar profit. Not bad for a quick stop.
From there we headed straight to Chicago, where we first stopped at the Museum of Science and Industry. I hadn’t been to the museum in 12 years, so it was cool to get a chance to experience it once again.
Inside of the museum, there was an exhibit for the show MythBusters, an interactive experience for fans of the show. If you’re a kid or have kids, it’s a great introduction to the fun side of science. To be honest, it was cool to see a lot of stuff that was used on the show, but I felt like the exhibit definitely lacked in some areas. It cost an additional ten dollars to get in to the exhibit, which seemed like a pretty fair deal.
After we left the museum, it was off to the hotel where my brother and his wife were going to stay. Once they were checked in, we met up with one of their friends, who took us to one of her favorite pizza places.
The restaurant was Pizano’s Pizza and Pasta, but we all opted to get Chicago deep-dish pizza. We all agreed that it was delicious, and I would be more than willing to go there the next time I’m in town. Once we wrapped up dinner, my brother and I headed to U.S. Cellular Field, and Lindsey and her friend headed out for a night on the town.
For those who don’t know, U.S. Cellular Field is the home of the Chicago White Sox. This was the seventh major league stadium I’ve been to, and it certainly had some pros and cons.
The stadium looked very good and was laid out very nicely. Not only that, but the look outside of the stadium was absolutely stunning.
They also had three big screens (one for the current game, one with more information on the game, and one with scores from around the league). One of the things that I didn’t like, was the fact that they played music with a great deal of regularity while the opposing team was on the field. By that, I mean they would play music after foul balls and in between pitches.
I don’t think it’s fair to have a stadium playing music playing while a pitcher is starting to look at the catcher for signs. It also seems bizarre that they would only do that for the opposing team. To an unbiased spectator, it seemed almost like a distraction tactic. Much to my dismay, the White Sox won, but at least we got to watch fireworks after the game.
Following the firework show, I met up with my friend Travis who was working at the stadium, covering the White Sox for the Associated Press. The last time I went to Chicago, I felt bad that I didn’t get a chance to hang out with him, so it was good to catch up. Not only that, but he was kind enough to let me crash at his place.
After I woke up, it was time to meet back up with my brother and sister-in-law at the hotel. From there, we headed to brunch. Their friend suggested Cafe Iberico, a Spanish tapas bar. Not exactly an ideal place for breakfast for me, so I just ordered dessert while they feasted on some delicious Spanish cuisine.
For our final destination, we headed to the Chicago History Museum, where we got to learn a bit about…well, the history of Chicago. It was significantly smaller than the first museum, but much more oriented for adults. They had exhibits for not just the history of Chicago, but one about magic, and another specifically about Abraham Lincoln.
With another history lesson completed, we headed back home. En route, we stopped at yet another casino (Four Winds) which proved to be profitable for all of us. While we were in the area we also stopped for some treats at Sweetwater’s Donuts. If you’re ever near one, do yourself a favor and stop in.
It was a wonderful little getaway, and I had a great time. The best part of the trip wasn’t necessarily the things I got to do or see, but it was the peopleI got to spend my time with. I’m thankful and grateful for having such wonderful friends and family, because they truly make my life one that’s worth living.
Last night I headed to Comerica Park with a few of my friends to watch the Tigers host the Toronto Blue Jays. The game didn’t start until 7:00 PM, but I wanted to get there as early as I could, in hopes that I’d be able to get a Prince Fielder bobble head. Unfortunately leaving three hours before the game started wasn’t early enough.
I arrived at Greektown Casino at approximately 5:25 PM. The gates weren’t scheduled to open until 5:30, so I figured that should give me an excellent chance of getting there in time. Just to play it safe, I actually jogged the entire way from the casino to Comerica Park. According to Google maps, it’s supposed to be about a 20 minute walk. I’m not bragging or exaggerating when I say I got there a lot quicker than that.
At 5:45, I entered the stadium only to find out that they were already out. Normally I’m not one to complain, but something didn’t seem right about that to me. I made it to my seat before 6:00, and it didn’t appear that there was anywhere near 10,000 people there. How they managed to run out so fast is well beyond me.
Another thing I found fascinating, was while I was jogging to the stadium, I saw at least 15 people walking around Detroit with bobble heads in their hands. Did they buy their tickets, get their bobble heads and leave? Where they allowed to leave the stadium and reenter? Again, it definitely seemed a bit odd.
We sat in the upper deck down the third-base line (section 338 if you’re familiar with the stadium), so we had a pretty good view of the field. I used to have seats in a similar area, and I always did enjoy the fact that you have a bird’s eye view of everything that’s going on. I don’t know what the final attendance was, but from the looks of things, it may very well have been sold out.
The Tigers held on to win by a final score of 5-3 and left the stadium feeling pretty good. With that lucky feeling, I decided to invest a little time (and money) at the casino. The best way I can summarize the experience is to compare it to getting punched in the stomach before you get on a very large and scary roller coaster, but you’re handed a lollipop once you get off.
In went a twenty-dollar bill. Gone. In went another twenty. That one last a bit longer, and managed to not have a great disappearing trick. While I was biding my time, the lady two seats over from me hit for $675.00. She was happy, and I was excited for her.
For my next stop, I walked a few rows over to another penny machine. I put in another twenty and sure enough, a lady about 10 feet from me hit for $3,100.00. She seemed excited, too. While I wished her well, my twenty dollars managed to somehow escape. Being Italian (and therefore stubborn), I ventured on to my final stop at the casino. Win or lose, this was going to be my final ride for the day.
Video blackjack rewarded me kindly for my visit, giving me back all of my money plus an additional ten dollars. Sure, I didn’t win $1,000.00 but I promise you I worked a lot harder than those two ladies did.
With my money safely back in my pocket, I returned home. I got to spend some time with my friends, the Tigers won and so did I. All things considered, I’d say it was a successful day.
As I’ve gotten older and summer vacations have become a thing of the past, I don’t get nearly as excited about weekends as I used to. However, if every weekend went as well as the one that passed, I could see myself starting to change that.
It wasn’t so much how it started, but instead, it’s how it ended. Sunday was a day full of everything one could need, from work, to fun in the sun and finally spending some quality time with the family.
The day started with just a few hours at work. From there, the fun began as my brother and two of my cousins headed downtown, to watch the Tigers host Baltimore Orioles. I’ll spare the details of the game (we lost despite having a 5-0 lead after the first inning), but it was fun to spend some quality time with my brother at the game.
After the game, we met up with my cousin and her husband after the game. The four of us walked back to Greektown after the game and caught up on the recent events in our lives. I’m so thankful that I have such a good relationship with my family. You know, there’s a common expression that says something along the lines of ‘Friends are the family that we choose to be in our lives.’ Well if that’s the case, it says quite a bit when people in your family start becoming your friends.
From there, my brother and I headed to help out at my Grandma and Grandpa’s annual church festival. For about the last twenty years, I’ve always done my best to try to help out to some capacity. There’s something rewarding about volunteering your time to a worthwhile cause, and I always look forward to doing what I can while I’m there.
Once I wrapped up my activities for the festival, I had to head a few miles up the road to head to my first softball game of the season. Now that my baseball season has come to an end, a few of my friends decided to start up a softball team for the first time. The fact that it’s a lot more relaxed and recreational definitely makes it quite different than my baseball league.
Due to work I had to miss the first game of the year, but I promised my team I would do my best to make it to the rest of games. My coach decided he wanted me to play shortstop, which is fun for me, since it’s a position I haven’t played in probably around 15 years. Things didn’t start pretty, but as was the case for the weekend, it ended a lot better than it started.
Thanks to some rust and sloppy defense, we fell behind early in the game. In fact, we trailed by five runs as we entered the 7th inning. Despite having two outs, we rallied to tie the score. We stranded the game-winning run on third base, and we were off to play an extra inning.
In the top of the 8th inning, we allowed one run. It was simple. If we scored no runs we’d lose, one run and we’d tie, two runs and we’d get to go home happy. The next thing you know, we have two outs and nobody is on base. A few minutes later, and I’m up to bat with the tying run on second and the game-winning run on first. On the first pitch I delivered a single to center field, and the bases were loaded. The next guy up drew a walk and the score was tied. Then came the moment of truth.
My friend Don came up to bat, and worked himself into a full count. A walk or a hit would win the game and any out would result in a tie. While standing on second, I got to see the hit go right over second base, and we were able to celebrate an exciting walk-off victory.
I don’t remember the last time I had that much fun over any weekend, and it was definitely full of great memories. I’m heading to Chicago next weekend, so we’ll see if I can keep this streak of good times rolling.
As the season starts winding down, I can’t help but find myself going through endless amounts of possible playoff scenarios. As hard as it is for even me to admit, not all of them include the Tigers playing late in October. That’s not exactly optimism for a guy who just ordered his playoff tickets, but at least I’m being honest.
I found an interesting website yesterday ( http://www.coolstandings.com ) that devotes itself solely to predicting the likelihood of teams making the playoffs. It’s an interesting site for sports fans, but seeing as this is primarily a baseball blog, I’m going to focus on just that.
When they simulate the season, they run the rest of the games through a simulator one million times. Needless to say, that should do a fine job of eliminating any potential variances that could arise. I don’t know how accurate their simulators are, but they claim to include recent performances and strength of schedule, so that should count for something. All the same, take it for what it’s worth.
Playing the odds (at least according to the site), the playoffs should look something like this.
Wild Card (One game playoff)
Detroit Tigers at Tampa Bay Rays
AL Division Series
Wild Card at New York Yankees
Chicago White Sox at Texas Rangers
Wild Card (One game playoff)
Pittsburgh Pirates at Atlanta Braves
NL Division Series
Wild Card at Washington Nationals
San Francisco Giants at Cincinnati Reds
I can’t say that I would necessarily be shocked if that ends up being the case, but there’s a few teams that have a lot of work left to do if they want to make it to the playoffs. There’s no guarantees for the Tigers, White Sox, Pirates or Giants. Even though I feel confident all of the other teams will find a way to make it to the playoffs, I wouldn’t advise betting your life savings on it. Don’t believe me? Take a look at how the St. Louis Cardinals made the playoffs last year, perhaps that will help change your mind.
The expanded playoff system is something that I’m an advocate for. Unfortunately it was rushed into place this year, so there’s a few glitches. For instance, the team with the higher seeding will start on the road in the Division Series, which makes for some interesting decisions. A lot of people also dislike the fact that the Wild Card will be determined by just one game. Due to scheduling constraints, I’m not sure there’s a more logical way to do it. Not only that, but if they made it best of three, is it fair or wise to have other teams potentially not playing for a week?
By adding another playoff spot in the league, it leads to more revenue for the game (which is a positive for the business side of things), and it forces teams to actively try to win their division. The advantage of getting that extra day off is truly worth that much. Not only that, but it makes it feel like more teams have a chance at making it to the playoffs.
This is important to know, because it makes for a better competitive balance in all of baseball. Why wasn’t there a lot of big trades at this year’s trade deadline? Because a lot more teams felt like they still have a shot. It’s going to be hard for you to convince me that’s not a good thing for baseball.
Tonight I got a call from a friend to go to the batting cages. Seeing as my first softball game this year (second for our team) is on Sunday, I figured it wasn’t such a bad idea.
It’s funny how hard it is to adjust from hitting a baseball going 75 MPH to hitting a ball that’s twice its size, and goes about a third of the speed. While I was there, I got a first hand reminder of how people of all ages and sizes love baseball.
First, you see the young couple. The guy is obviously doing anything he possible can to impress the girl. When it’s the girl’s turn to bat, she’s ecstatic to just make contact with the ball (now I’m not saying that’s the case for every girl, but it’s a common thing to see when you go to the batting cages). Baseball, it’s not only America’s national pastime, but it seems to be a common location for budding romances.
Then there’s the father, who’s attempting to teach his son how to swing a bat. Consider it a passing of the torch or good parenting, but seeing it always brings a smile to my face. It doesn’t seem like that long ago when my father would take me to the batting cages, only to try to find a way to correct my swing.
On that note, I’d like to give one small bit of advice to parents who take their kids to the batting cages, and that’s to always try focusing on the positive aspects of your time there. Your kid isn’t going to be a Major League Baseball player, so don’t expect him to be drilling every pitch he swings at. Encourage your child, and they will likely find themselves with a good boost in confidence. As they start to get older and develop better eye-hand coordination, then you can start to worry about their mechanics.
Young and old, male or female, everyone can be found at the batting cages. It’s just another fine example of how great of a game baseball really is.
Today will forever be remembered as a day of highs and lows for Major League Baseball. It started with the low, when Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for a banned substance.
Cabrera was voted the MVP of the 2012 All-Star Game, as was having the season of his career. Entering the day, his .346 batting average was second in the National League, trailing only Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates (.355). For a guy who was about to become a free agent after this year, Cabrera likely cost himself a very large payday.
His 50-game suspension will not only cost him millions of dollars (it will alone cost him nearly two-million dollars for the games he will miss this year), but it also puts baseball in the hot seat once again. With baseball’s popularity at an all-time high, this was simply a black eye that it did not need. The fact that Cabrera did not deny his wrongdoing makes it that much worse.
The positive aspect about this, is the fact it shows that Major League Baseball’s steroid testing program is working. Not only is that important for the integrity of the game, but it’s also a key step towards possibly getting baseball back in the Olympics.
However, it didn’t take long before baseball was able to show how wonderful it can be, and it was all thanks to “King” Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners.
There’s no denying that Hernandez is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. In his young career he’s already won a Cy Yound Award and has been selected to three All-Star Games. Today, he did something that he’s never done before, and that’s pitch a perfect game.
Hernandez retired all 27 of the Tampa Bay Rays he faced in order en route to pitching just the 23rd perfect game in Major League Baseball history. Without a doubt, it was one of the best highlights of the 2012 season so far.
I’m not usually one to question the managing tactics of Jim Leyland, but lately I can’t help but wonder what he’s been thinking. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s done a fine job during his time here, but I can’t help but feel like he’s lately been making a few costly decisions.
As a manager, it’s your job to do what you can to put your players in the best possible position to be successful. Leyland’s done a perfect job of that for some players, such as Quintin Berry and Andy Dirks. It’s also not a complete surprise that Gerald Laird is having as good of a year as he has. Unfortunately, not everything has been working out so perfectly.
My biggest complaint and concern involves Leyland’s use of Phil Coke out of the bullpen. For whatever reason, he seems to be continually putting him a position where he simply can’t succeed. If I wasn’t as knowledgeable about baseball as I am, I’d almost think that he’s purposely trying to run him out of town.
Why is this you ask? For one simple reason, and that’s that Phil Coke should NOT be facing right-handed hitters. Entering today, right-handed hitters were batting .393 against him over 91 at bats, which isn’t exactly a small sample size.
So when the Minnesota Twins had runners on second and third with one out in the sixth inning, the Tigers trailed by a score of 3-1, certainly not insurmountable with the Tigers’ offense. In this crucial spot, Leyland brought in Coke to face the left-handed hitting Ben Revere. Revere then grounded out to first. This brought up the right-handed Darin Mastroianni.
Some options in this situation included walking Mastroianni to load the bases, but would allow Coke to face Joe Mauer, who bats left handed. Another option would be to bring in a right-handed pitcher, such as Octavio Dotel. The third option (and in my opinion the worst) was the one Leyland chose, and that was to let Coke face Mastroianni. Sure enough, he got a base hit and both runs scored. At that point, the game very much felt over.
The fact of the matter is that Phil Coke does not deserve a spot on the Tigers 25-man roster. Simply put, the Tigers need to find an upgrade for Coke if they want to have a chance to make it deep into the playoffs. As sad as it is to say, that shouldn’t be too hard to do.