Ballparks and Mud Baths

Trip Start Jan 31, 1996
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , California
Monday, September 1, 2008

The sign posted in the lobby of our Oakland, California hotel read:

"Proposition 65 - Detectable amounts of chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm may be found in and around this facility."

What one will do in their quest to visit all of the Major League baseball parks in America never ceases to amaze Ellen. But it wasn't sleeping in this toxic wasteland that scared me. The game was well under way when we struck out on our hike to the home of the baseball Athletics and the notorious Raiders of the NFL. The sidewalks were empty as the characters in the few cars that drove by us yelled obscenities. Within a half kilometre of the ballpark, chain link fences topped with rusty barbed wire sprouted up. The area felt more like a penitentiary than a sports facility. Burly men with security labels stitched on their backs roamed the parking lots on bicycles. Suddenly, I had an irrational fear that they might be there to keep people inside as opposed to out. I breathed deeply and forged on.

Midway through a tight A's/Twins match-up I was beginning to wonder how the hell we were going to get back to our hotel room. I looked into the sky. Darkness was no more than fifteen minutes away. Panic welled, then consumed me. Should we bolt? I looked at Ellen. She was simply bored at being there. Suddenly, the fans went wild. A's outfielder Jack Cust had just hit his team leading twenty-fifth home run. Ellen's boredom turned to annoyance at the cheering of the unruly hometown fanatics. Ellen feels that anyone who even visits a baseball park has at the very least a moderate social handicap. I kept my Coliseum escape fears to myself. Shaking, I took a half tablet of Lorazapam. Fifteen minutes later, in a mildly drug induced state I realized that if we waited until the game was over there'd be 30,000 or so others in the same pickle - strength in numbers.

Back in our potentially lethal hotel room, I willed my pores closed and breathed only when necessary. Oakland Coliseum had been my twentieth Major League ballpark. As horrible as it was the Coliseum will be one I won't soon forget. Sometime during Sarah Palin's address I passed out from oxygen deprivation.

Yesterday we drove up to Napa. I was expecting wine. Instead we went to a spa and had a mud bath, followed by a soak in a hot mineral spring bath, then a sauna. After fifteen minutes in the near boiling, claustrophobic mud my attendant asked if I'd like to stay an extra two minutes.

"Sure", I replied macho-ly.

After ten minutes in the hotter mineral spring bath he asked the same question. "N,no. I think Ellen will be finished and waiting for me." I lied meekly.

The bugger then hauled me out of the tub and led me staggeringly towards the sauna. I asked if he thought the sauna was really necessary. With a dirty smile he pushed me in then fed me a cup of water through on hole in the wall.

Afterwards, the cursed attendant covered me in a linen sheet which was supposed to cool me down. I checked my heart-rate. It was one-hundred and thirty-four beats per minute. Simply wiggling my toes under the linen made my legs feel cooler. Lord knows what my core temperature was. Ambulances and hearses must circle this torture chamber in wait, like vultures.

Today we're in San Francisco. The restaurants will be Ellen's choice, as will the boat cruise around San Francisco was yesterday's mud bath. That's the trade-off for the game I love.

And I still have mud oozing from crevices. Places where mud was never meant to be.
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