Monday, May 25, 2009

Baseball place No: 56: McCovey Cove; Alt. Place No. 56A: Crash Splash

I love my kayak, and I love baseball, so I think the chance to sort of watch baseball from the comfort of my kayak is a pretty cool thing.

Josh takes us to AT&T Park and its McCovey Cove in San Francisco for spot No. 56 in his “101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out.”

The splash down home run is actually pretty rare, even though balls only have to travel 352 feet to get there. And the cove seemed neater before the All-Star Game Home Run Derby when the Fox commentator was standing next to his kayak, and the water was only about waist-deep.

I haven’t been to San Francisco, so I’ve never floated in the cove. But Pac Bell/AT&T isn’t the only ballpark next to water. I offer:

Alternate place No: 56A: The Crash Splash, Fifth Third Ballpark, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Yes, the stadium for my own West Michigan Whitecaps, Single-A Midwest League, was built on the banks of the mighty Grand River. The team’s mascot is Crash, an animal of some sort identified as a “river rascal.”

Sadly, the ballpark doesn’t face the river, it faces US 131. But it’s still pretty cool to have a large river running alongside the game.

This weekend I wanted to see if we could create the magical McCovey Cove experience right here in Grand Rapids.

The Grand River runs not far from my house, and there’s a park with an access ramp, so that’s where I usually paddle.

And while we’ve biked our way to Whitecaps games, I’ve never paddled there. It would be about four miles, going with the current.

So we cheated little for this experiment. I packed up the kayak – known as Kayak 2.0 – into the Vue and headed down to the park with my trusty sixth-grade assistant.

I donned my Whitecaps jersey and cap and slipped Kayak 2.0 into the river, paddling out a ways. My assistant documented the activity.

From my vantage point, I came to the sad conclusion that I would not be catching a ball.

For one thing, the Whitecaps were playing the Kane County Cougars – in Kane County.

But suppose they weren’t.

The river runs alongside the first base side of the park. And you enter by walking up stairs, so there’s a huge grass berm surrounding the seating area.
That's the stadium up ahead. The Grand is a pretty wide river.

A ball would have to be hit sky high and at an angle to clear the stadium, then land on the berm, speed down the hill with enough momentum to clear a small parking lot, a road, a bike trail and, finally, a small section of trees before rolling into the water.

So, the team actually playing a game at the time I would be in the water only slightly increases the odds of getting a soggy ball.
It would have to go down the hall, through the lot, across the road, over the bike trail and through the woods.

But there have only been about 60 balls landing in McCovey Cove, so it’s not like too many folks floating there are leaving with a souvenir anyway.

And any excuse to get out in the kayak is a good one!


Steve J. Rogers said...

>It would have to go down the >hall, through the lot, across the >road, over the bike trail and >through the woods.

Sounds like that old Jordan vs. Bird McDonalds comerical HORSE game!

csd said...

I have been there, and it is a little ways down to the river. Great site though. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

I’ve been to the ATT (formally Pac Bell) about 5 times. Mostly to watch our team beat the traitors from NY. The stadium is a little Kitschy. The big Mitt is cool, the trolley car is cool, and they have an area where kids can bat in a “medium stadium” which is cool too. I don’t like the giant COKE bottle slide. But I have to admit I do like McCovey Cove. There are always people out there on their boats looking for home run balls. The other cool thing is the ferry takes you across from Oakland’s Jack London Square directly to a dock by the ballpark. I think you will need to come out next year when the Mets sweep them (got close this year).

Mets Guy in Michigan said...

Sounds like fun, Tim! Wonder if I can pack my kayak?

Thanks for the kind words, csd. And Steve, the odds are better that one of those old Jordon-Bird shots would hit the mark than me getting a ball in the river!