The real bulk of the driving was completed before I joined the trip in Baltimore. However, I believe the most difficult days still remained. Going from Philadelphia to DC in between 4pm and 7pm on a Thursday, and going from Chicago to Milwaukee between 4pm and 7pm on a Friday, with an overnight drive in between. Now that was going to be the most difficult stretch. 26 days was the new goal, and we were determined.
We left our hotel near the stadium in Philadelphia and headed out early to find the most strategic parking spot. We needed to get as close as possible to the I-95 South entrance ramp. After a full circle of the stadium complex, we found just the place: a city park, where we would only need to make two easy right turns to exit and be on the highway in maybe a quarter mile, probably less. The parking was free too. Next, we needed a quick game and we got it. Jamie Moyer and Braden Looper put up lots of zeros and Ryan Howard popped two homeruns. Our comped seats were quality (first row of the upperdeck behind home plate), and the Schmitter Sandwich was top notch. Brad Lidge was unavailable to pitch, so the ninth inning was almost a disaster, but the Phillies got out of it, ending the game before 4pm.
We literally ran to the car. Our parking spot worked great and we were on the highway by 4:12pm. Somehow we were going to get to DC for the 7:10pm start, 130 miles away. I drove like I've never driven before (usually my driving is something between "slower than my grandmother" and "you know the gas pedal is on the right?"). Luckily, we didn't hit any traffic, even as we passed Baltimore. During the drive, we realized we'd be cutting it real close. All of our DC area friends recommended taking the Metro to the game, that driving and parking was not an option near the ballpark. So, as we hit the Beltway and got our first sight of DC traffic, we exited for the Greenbelt Metro Station (thank you Treadwell for the directions). We parked, and ran to the terminal. We had about 40 minutes left until the first pitch. I bought our train tickets as fast as I could and we ran up the stairs. Just as we got to the platform, a train pulled up and in 30 seconds it left with us in it. We were on our way now, with no margin for error. If this train delayed more than 60 seconds at any point, Josh wasn't going to make the first pitch. Each stop seemed like it would never come.
At this point in the trip, with Josh so close to the record, we were getting pumped up, but obviously very nervous at this point. John Treadwell was already at the stadium ready to meet us for the game. Our tickets were at willcall under Josh's name, so to speed the process of getting Josh in for the first pitch, John bought a cheap ticket for him and was ready outside the Metro station to hand him his ticket. As the train doors opened at the stadium, I pointed Josh in the right direction and he took off in a sprint. John was there at the exit, handed him his ticket, and Josh ran in, with only 4 minutes to spare. John and I had a laugh together when I got out of the station. Such a crazy moment had just happened and we felt mixed between the happiness and obsurdity of the situation.
FYI, Nationals Park is awesome. A beautiful park, beautiful city view, and the best women in baseball. The game was as crazy as our trip there, with the Nationals coming from behind twice in late innings before finally losing in 11. Meathook!
We drove through the night to Chicago, sleeping only 30 minutes at a rest stop in Indiana. Again, like in Philly, parking would be key in Chicago. We needed to get out of Wrigleyville and onto the highway as fast as possible after the game. I parked near Belmont so we could quickly get to I-94. Also, again, we'd need a fast game. And yet again, with the trip on the line, the teams came through. Matt Cain dominated the Cubs, and the Giants are so lowsy they couldn't hit Jason Marquis. The game was played in 2hrs 22min, with Aramis Ramirez dropping a game winning bomb in the 8th. Kerry Wood scarily finished the game off while Cub fans just cringed as if he was going to blow the game.
Getting out of the stadium proved difficult. Small exit ramps slowed us dramatically. Once out, we ran to the car again. We were on Belmont before anyone else and it was fairly smooth to the highway until some confusing non-signage. I lost us three or four minutes before finally finding highway ramp. We did well though, and should have had plenty of time to get to Milwaukee. Only 90 miles to travel this afternoon, 130 yesterday. However, Chicago highway traffic was worse than usual. We sat like it was a parking lot for an hour, barely getting into the suburbs. Finally, the traffic broke as the road split and we were flying. One game left for 30 in 26. We were relaxed in knowing that finishing in 27 days was now in the bag tomorrow, but we were going for it all, 26 days. Near Miller Park, traffic built again, so I organized another ticket relay with Tom Koch-Weser. My buddy, Tom, Brewer employee extraordinaire, had our tickets at the stadium, and I had him meet Josh for the handoff. There wasn't going to be time for us to park before the game. As we waited just outside the parking lot boundaries, I told Josh to "Just run! Go!". I believe Josh got his ticket and entered the stadium with seven minutes to spare.
Josh and Sven (right) celebrate the completion of "30 in 26" at Miller Park with a couple of ice cold MGDs. Thank you to the dude on our left.
I was fired up for this moment. I can only imagine the scene of Josh, all sweaty and out of breath, getting through the turnstile and jumping up in celebration. What a riot it must have been.
By the time I got in the park and found Josh, he was already in the middle of an interview with CBS Milwaukee.
, no, Thirty in 26! was completed (on Josh's birthday) and should stand for quite some time.
CONGRATULATIONS TO JOSH ROBBINS!!!! on his new world record!
(This blog was back-dated to reflect the day the events took place)
posted by Sven (http://www.60ft6in.com , http://metsthing.blogspot.com)