Friday, August 26, 2016

Road Trip-West Virginia

Since the Ohio trip was somewhat shortened by the lack of reasonable hotel rates and I drove home,it looked like my original plan to break up the trip home with a stop in Morgantown WV to hit another new stadium was kiboshed.

On the way home,I talked about it with Cherie and since the game started at four and we still had the rental car,the day trip to Morgantown and the Black Bears was on.

We stopped in Lavale MD for a Dairy Queen "Grill and Chill".
Hagerstown's two DQ's are all desserts and Cherie complains about that a lot,so that was an easy selection.
Clear,fast and friendly,the Cumberland suburb was a nice respite on our trip with their five dollar lunch that included a large sundae.
We had a little problem finding the stadium since the address wasn't listed in the GPS,but it really is quite easy to find after you have been there once.
The stadium is surrounded by a shopping area with a mall,Wal-Mart,Target,Best Buy etc,so once you have been there once,there are plenty of markers to remember for future visits.

We then arrived late,but I didn't want to graph today anyway.
Neither team (Black Bears or visiting Williamsport Crosscutters) had released their team sets,so I didn't have a particular time involved to arrive and between that and the issues in finding the stadium,we arrived in the second inning...
The Black Bears gave us the best seats in the place and we were even told so by the usher that seated us-"Whoa,these are the best seats that we have,so zero complaints there.

The field is close to the fans and is one of the few stadiums in the minors (Not sure if I can think of any others) that uses artificial turf for a surface anymore.
Monongalia County Ballpark was (like State College) built to be shared between the team and a university-in this case West Virginia University,
Since the Big 12 (WVU) has some national powerhouse baseball programs with the colder season Big 10 being a lesser light,the need to get games finished in weather that is not warm is a much bigger deal for the Mountaineers than it is in State College for Penn State.
Therefore the answer is to have a playing surface capable of playing those and that is artificial turf.

MCB's turf did bring back some memories of childhood baseball as on two occasions,balls were hit off the turf,bringing a small puff of dust and crazy hops over infielders that wouldn't have dealt with the surface very often.
One of the two resulted in a triple that brought to mind Willie McGee or Lonnie Smith roaring around second base after a turf aided triple into the gap.

Most of the entrances there are down the left field line for the fans and you walk up a steep incline.
The team pays attention to this as they offer gold cart rides from the parking lot to the park and from the ticket booth to your seat,if you need it.
I hope the team continues to use the carts as so many people in those situations would have difficulty getting around the Black Bears.
It does give an interesting visual when you enter the field and it is pretty unique.

Now for the downside-this might be the worst environment for autographing that I have ever been in and I didn't even bring anything to get signed!
As a newer ballpark,the Black Bears used the baseball recommended screen to run from dugout to dugout and severely limited access there.
That wouldn't be so bad,if the grass area (each side of the field down the baseline with a contoured hill) was available for fans.
It isn't as fans aren't allowed to be on it.
I suppose you might be able to access some visiting team relief pitchers as their bullpen is reachable near the entrance,but anyone else and you look to be spending your time graphing outside the stadium.

If you want to go to a game with a nice ballpark-I'd would say there are plenty of positives to stopping by and seeing the Black Bears and would recommend it.
If you are a autographer and want to try to get someone there-I would give it the lowest grade I could give,so keep that in mind before going to Morgantown.

Plan on being back soon with the trip to the Appy league and still owe a podcast.

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