One of the questions I am most frequently asked is about life on the road with the Pawtucket Red Sox. As I wrap up my eighth year with the PawSox and eleventh season in the International League, I am completely qualified at Expert Level to offer my opinions. This review will have absolutely nothuing to do with baseball. It involves my personal experience, visiting the thirteen other cities in the I.L. Today we start in the North Division. I will be honest, so no hurt feelings, people!
Lehigh Valley- Huge upgrade this season to a new hotel. Previously we stayed in a antiquated old place called the Hotel Bethlehem. I believe the name of the current place is Staybridge Suites. It offers a full kitchen in each room as well as a breakfast in the lobby. On certain days there is a “happy hour”. You can get a couple of drinks on the house. Nice touch.
There are several eating places within walking distance of the hotel, including “Waffle House”, “Sonic” and “Red Robin”. If you ever get a chance, Red Robin is a pretty good option. Great burgers, chicken sandwiches and endless fries. The waitress will always give you an extra iced tea “to go”.
what I like – I love the Broad Street Deli and Grill. Owned by a Yankees fan, Eli, you know the sandwich has to be good for me to make an effort to get there every time we’re in Allentown. Ribeye Steak, with a spicy jack cheese, mushrooms, onions and a touch of mayo. Easily the I.L,’s best sandwich. One of the best I’ve ever had.
what I could do without- Whining. The Iron Pigs have been the league doormat since they joined the I.L. Now, because they’ve had a decent year, they expect to win every night and they think we empathize when they’re losing. We’ve all been through bad seasons and losing streaks. Act like you’ve been there before. Press box “spread” is minimal and often inedible. Also, an official scorer who once boasted, “I never change a call.”
Favorite person in Lehigh– in 2011, no contest. Former PawSox All Star, outfielder Brandon Moss.
Buffalo- We flip flop back and forth between the Hyatt and Adams’ Mark hotels. I have changed over to a Hyatt guy. The other place seems like it’s falling apart. It’s within walking distance to the park and there’s a train that takes you there free of charge. Buffalo is a great food town. Lots of choices. Friendly staff at ballpark.
Always look forwrd to “Chefs”. A great Italian joint that rivals Federal Hills’ best. I have two words for you- “Spaghetti Parmesan”. The Anchor Bar is inconsistent, but the lure of the chicken wing is too great to resist. Also, Jimmy at “Daddio’s” is the consumate host and friend. Terrific food!!
what I like- Always love talking with Duke McGuire, the Bisons color analyst. He appeared in the movie “The Natural” as an extra. Clubhouse and ballpark staff treats us like we’re at home. Great people. Chippewa is one crazy street. I’m too old for it now. But back in the day…
what I could do without- nothing really distatseful about Buffalo to me. It used to be too far away, now we fly. The weather can be tough, but that’s ok.
favorite person in Buffalo- former Niagara University Mens’ Head Basketball Coach and dear friend, Pete Lonergan (He upset then #1 St. Johns in 1985)
Scranton/Wilkes Barre- Never been a big fan of this trip. We stay in a converted train station that also served as a morgue during World War II. Rumors of the place being haunted are always amusing to me. There aren’t many inexpensive eating options within walking distance. Park is too far to walk. They are reportedly set to renovate PNC Field. I can live withour fancy amenities, but how about cleaning the radio booth once a year, or so. Worst press box food in the league, bar none.
It is not as funny a city as the “Office” would like you to think. I’ve been fooled by “Coopers” for the last time. I live in Newport RI, and I expect good seafood in Scranton? Maybe I am a idiot!
what I like- the staff at the park. The guys have taken good care of us over the years. Also, it’s fun to beat the Yankees. Up the hill at Montage Mountain, there are a few restaurants and a movie theater.
what I could do without- looking forward to the renovation. Most uncomfortable press box in I.L. If I could ask President Randy Mobley for anything, it would be a standard, comfortable chair in each park for us. Some places we’re sitting on a folding chair, craning our neck to see the action. Respect the broadcaster!!
favorite person in Scranton- Don’t even have to think about it. The visiting clubbie. Red is a most generous and gracious man. He always offers food and drink and never fails to deliver the giant bag of popcorn. Easy to get along with. Great to talk to. Fun. A tremendous guy.
up next time- Syracuse and Rochester