Yesterday was my first day off after 26 straight days of work so whenever I told my minor league baseball co-workers that I was going to Des Moines to watch the Iowa Cubs play, they shook their heads in disbelief. But I was excited about checking another ballpark off the bucket list, seeing a few familiar faces, and exploring a new city.
My first stop was to get gas so I stopped at the World’s Largest Truck Stop which is located in Walcott, Iowa. This place was ridiculous. I’ve never seen a gas station/truck stop this large. There was a food court big enough for 100 people plus a full dine-in restaurant, mechanic shop, and a place to wash vehicles and that’s not even half of it. (See here for more info.)
It was about a two and a half hour drive from Davenport to Des Moines but I enjoyed the drive. The farmlands on the side of the Interstate reminded me a lot of Idaho but Iowa has a LOT more people and businesses. Being in the state capital, I had to check out the capitol building and complex. I don’t really know what I was expecting but the capitol complex was amazing.
The World War II memorial was beside the Justice Building and Herbert Hoover building. (Hoover is from Iowa and his presidential library is about an hour or so from Des Moines.) On the other side of the complex, there were more memorials as well as statues honoring former Iowa politicians.
But the showstopper had to be the Capitol building itself which was absolutely gorgeous.
I could ooohh and ahhhh over this building all day but we are talking about baseball since the main purpose of this trip was to see the Iowa Cubs. From one side of the capitol complex, you can see Principal Park.
Downtown Des Moines is a pretty cool place. There are lots of shops and restaurants. The Wells Fargo arena, home of the Iowa Wild, was also hosting a game and the performing arts center was hosting a traveling production of The Lion King musical. I was personally a big fan of the street art that adorned many building and looked like it was from Austin instead of Des Moines. Principal Park is located at the edge of downtown and you can walk to the park from many of the restaurants. One of them, the High Life Lounge, is less than a block away and has hosted Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food before. On the other side of Principal Park is the Des Moines river. I was kind of shocked but apparently bridge fishing is a big thing here. I saw at least two dozen people parked on the side of the road with their lawn chairs out and a fishing rod in hand. There are also Ballpark Lofts across the parking lot from the park. How cool would that be to live across the street from a ballpark?
This trip also marked the first time my blog has ever been granted a media credential.
It might not seem like a big deal to most but it was pretty cool for me. From working in media relations, I know that few blogs are ever granted credentials especially to games at such a high level. I don’t make any money blogging. It’s a labor of love for me so being given credentials felt like it gave my blog credibility and proved to me that I do a good job with it and to keep writing. But back to the actual game…..
Principal Park has an awesome view of the state capitol beyond center field. It looked really cool shimmering in the sun for the first few innings.
The Iowa Cubs had an interesting roster. I was happy to see Taylor Teagarden listed among the starters. He was always one of my favorite Texas Rangers players and it’s nice to see him still playing.
The night’s game would end up being a game with strange moments. The Oklahoma City Dodgers ended up scoring two runs in the first and the Iowa Cubs had the chance to tie the game in the fourth. Christian Villanueva hit a bomb to left field. However, it landed in the concourse to the left of the foul pole but the home umpire still called it a home run. This tied the game at two but it would be short-lived. OKC manager Damon Berryhill came out to question the call. It was reversed causing Iowa manager Marty Pevey to come out and question the decision. He got pretty hotheaded and was ejected from the game leaving hitting coach Brian Harper in charge…..
The promotions during the game were alright but you could tell the focus was on the game which isn’t surprising since it is Triple-A baseball. However, there were some fun moments like whenever they were shooting hot dogs from a cannon and one of them blasted into a million pieces once it left the gun. The fans surprised me too because they were super passionate about the game. I’ve been warned about how fiercely loyal Cubs fans can be but these guys were heckling and cheering until their voices were almost gone in the ninth. This was also my first game to experience the pitch clock. I thought it was a little strange to see time ticking down but it didn’t seem to interrupt the pace of play or either pitcher much at all.
Another strange moment in the game, in the seventh inning play was stopped. Harper talked to the umpires and they all started looking up at the press box and suite level. They stood there talking for about five minutes and we were all trying to figure out what was going on. The announcer then asked all fans to not point laser pointers at the field because it distracts the coaches and players.
The Iowa Cubs avoided a shutout but lost to OKC 4-1. A few interesting tidbits from the game: Javy Baez went 1-4 on the night but his single won everyone at the game coupons to Dick’s Sporting Goods. Wada was tagged with the loss and currently has an 0-4 record. In his second Triple-A game, Dodgers uber prospect Corey Seager went 0-3 with a walk and an RBI.
With the game complete, it was back to Davenport. Overall, it was a great experience in Des Moines. It’s a cool city and the Iowa Cubs were awesome. The ushers and staff are all friendly and knowledgable and do their best to take care of every fan that walks through the gates at Principal Park. I highly recommend checking them out.