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Cleveland was okay, but everything seemed just a little bit off. It is no Detroit, that is for sure. We had an easy drive and as we headed for our hotel, we went by the ballpark. It was about a half mile from our hotel and seemed an okay neighborhood except for a lot of financial stuff that would be closed at night. cleveland

Our hotel was a Hampton Inn, chosen because we had to stay at a Hilton property or I would lose my Hilton points. It was a very modest structure tacked on to the building behind it, making it look cramped. It felt cramped inside as well. In looking for a place to find lunch in the area (not very successfully), we wandered around the mall, which was a pretty incredible public space. I had to laugh when I saw the skyscraper that was the butt of jokes in the 30 Rock Cleveland episode. I am eager to see that episode again now that I have been there.

We walked down to the lake and picked up some food from vendors there. There is an airport on the lake, and we saw them practicing for the air show, which was pretty cool. We came back and, not finding a Starbucks, picked up lattes at Phoenix Coffee, which was just past our hotel. They were was pretty good.

We walked down to the ballpark, getting there about an hour early. It is one that is easy to navigate. In fact, unlike our hotel, it seems characterized by lots of open spaces, like lots of places where you could stand behind the seats and watch the game. It is also a park that can be circumnavigated, which is another of my criteria. Recall that part of circumnavigation is to spot the good food and the unusual beer; like Detroit, both are scarce, and I ended up with the inevitable bratwurst, which was pretty good with onion and peppers. I then spotted a Lienenkugel stand. I had not had a Lienenkugel for about 40 years, literally, when I was in Wisconsin in the summer of 1967. They had a wheat ale, and I pronounced it very satisfactory. It had a nice body, which is what is mostly lacking in those wimpy beers.

During the circumnavigation we found an area that honored past Cleveland players. I thought this was cool, as one of the great things about baseball is relating to its history. And this one was open to everyone all the time, unlike the monument areas in a certain stadium where they say they are open an hour before the game but then when you get there you can’t get in.

I was surprised to see a plaque honoring Cy Young, as I associate him with the Red Sox. It turned out his first team was the Cleveland Spiders of the National League, and after his great success with the Red Sox, he rejoined the Cleveland Naps, who became the Indians. Over 21 seasons, he won 511 and lost 316. Hard to believe those numbers – any of them, though I am hopeful that Joba Chamberlain will give him a run for the money with the 316 losses.

Speaking of the Naps, I was especially pleased to find a plaque honoring Nap Lajoie, who was featured in a great Contracts case. Nap was playing for the Philadelphia Phillies of the National League, which was the only Scott-with-Napleague in Major League Baseball. Some upstarts then started the American League in 1901 and, like most upstart leagues today, they raided the existing teams for their players. Lajoie broke his contract with the Phillies to play with the Philadelphia Athletics of the American League, and the Phillies sued.

While there is no doubt that Nap was a dirty contract-breaker, the issue concerned the remedy. The general remedy for breach of contract, called the remedy at law, is money damages, based on what it costs the injured party to repair the damage caused by the breach. So if the Phillies paid Lajoie $10,000, and they had to hire a replacement second basemen for $11,000, then they would be entitled to $1,000.

But the Phillies claimed that Lajoie was irreplaceable because he was a unique talent. He was not just another run of the mill infielder like Alex Rodriguez that you can go out and replace. When the remedy at law is inadequate, because money won’t make you whole, then you can claim a remedy in equity. One remedy in equity is specific performance, where the court orders the party to perform. This is pretty unworkable in personal services situations, however, for an unhappy ballplayer is unlikely to perform well when ordered by the court, and the court does not want to get involved in constant supervision (though if I were the judge, I would agree to go to all the games to make sure he was living up to his obligations). But the team can get an injunction, where the court orders the person not to play for anyone else.

In concluding that Lajoie was a special player, the court put it pretty nicely: “He may not be the sun in the baseball firmament, but he is certainly a bright particular star.” (When the court said he was bright, they were not talking about intelligence, as they would have said the same thing about Alex Rodriguez.) The Phillies got the injunction, which was good only in Pennsylvania, but it would be a problem for the Athletics if he couldn’t play any of his home games, so Nap was traded to the Indians, and when they played the Athletics, he hung out in Atlantic City, which might have been worthwhile if they had had poker then. Part of the legacy of the case is that today athletes are considered unique per se (even Nick Swisher) and injunctive relief is always available if they break their contract.

This guy did not fool around, by the way. His lifetime batting average was .338. He is 7th all time in doubles, just edging out Carl Yastrzemski. From 1902 to 1914 Cleveland was known as the Naps in his honor.

We had interesting seats, complete with headrests. They were right behind the plate, but all the way back to the cement wall. But we got a pretty good view. Unfortunately, the best view was of the scoreboard, which Cleveland-scoreboarddrove me crazy. You need to get some simple information, like the count and the number of outs. The stats on the current batter are useful, too, but they showed off their statistical bent a little too much with observations like “Hitting .257 against right-handed Polish pitchers at home on days that end with a ‘y.’” There were stationary ads all around it, and then it was divided into sections that conveyed way too much information. It was so ugly and busy you didn’t want to look at it. I have seen pictures of the scoreboard when the field was known as Jacobs Park instead of (ugh) Progressive Field, and it looked pretty nice.

Anyway, it was a decent game and the Clevelands beat the Minnesotas. I used to keep score on a scorecard (How many years has it been since you have heard a vendor shouting, “Hey scorecard”?), but I don’t now for reasons that will be explained later, so I am lucky to remember this much.

The next day we took a boat tour of Cleveland’s waterways. Unfortunately, the best part was the Cuyahoga river (of catching fire fame), but that didn’t last long, maybe because of the size of the boat compared to the diminishing size of the river. The narrator went to great lengths to explain how Cleveland was a thriving port, but at the long row of piers I counted a total of 0 ships. Cleveland has much more going for it than Detroit, but I got the feeling that shipping is to Cleveland as automaking is to Detroit. Then we went out on the lake, which probably isn’t all that interesting on any occasion, but on this occasion the captain just made circles so we could watch the air show. Some of it was cool, like the Memphis Belle taking off and circling around the lakefront. Curiously, the last time I saw the legendary bomber, it was under a protective bubble on Mud Island in Memphis. It must have been quite an effort to make it airworthy, as it looked very sad on that previous occasion. Hats off to guys like my Uncle Donald and my Montana neighbor George McGovern who flew the B-17. On the way home, we were desirous of lattes, but Phoenix was closed so we went out of our way to find a Starbucks. Not only was the latte VT (standing for Very Tasty), but I also got a large mug as my Cleveland souvenir, so now I have a coffee mug for the office.

That night Terry took me to dinner at a Hard Rock for the first time. I had thought they existed only to sell Hard Rock souvenirs, but the food wasn’t bad. We walked through pretty empty streets to get there, and were surprised to find that it was packed. This was pretty early, like around 6:00. Possible it was a postgame crowd as the Tribe had played at 2:00 that day. Speaking of the Tribe, here is an example of a stupid promotion. It seems they will give you all sorts of junk to get you to the park. Well, after I bought the tickets, I got an email saying that since I had bought the tickets during a certain period I was entitled to a free t-shirt. Now, as a person having some knowledge of Offer and Acceptance, I would opine that I was not entitled to the t-shirt because I didn’t know about the offer when I accepted, so that can’t form a contract. But I got it anyway, and it is pretty weak. It has a stupid slogan on it: Are You IN the Tribe? Speaking even more of the Tribe, if you haven’t seen it, you have to check out Major League, which is probably the funniest baseball movie ever (and I have seen Rhubarb). Note to self – write a post about baseball movies.

The next day we checked out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. I should note here that I had heard that there were a lot of hotels that offered packages for fans like us that included a room and baseball tickets, but I am yet to find one. The Hampton Inn had a deal where you could get boat tour tickets with your room, and Rock and Roll tickets with your room, so I got one of each. It wouldn’t be that much of a deal except that when you get the package your parking is free. Anyway, I am not all that into Rock and Roll, but the museum was pretty interesting, and a great building designed by I.M. Pei. In fact, there are lots of interesting buildings in Cleveland. We were right next to the Federal Reserve, but the exhibits inside were closed, so we didn’t go in. I think our grandchildren will have to go to see what money was.

And so ends our trip to Cleveland.

What is the Burnham Baseball Project?

The Burnham Baseball Project records my attempt to attend baseball games at all the Major League Parks, and provides me with an excuse to discourse on whatever strikes my fancy in connection therewith. New readers may want to read my first post, Pre-game Warm-up, to get an introduction to the Project. From there feel free to read chronologically or by Team by clicking on the list below.

Ballparks Visited

American League Teams:

* Baltimore (Oriole Park)

* Boston (Fenway Park)

* Chicago (U.S. Cellular Field)

* Cincinnati (Great American Ball Park)

* Cleveland (Progressive Field)

* Detroit (Comerica Park)

* Kansas City (Kauffman Stadium)

* Los Angeles (Angel Stadium)

* Minnesota (The Metrodome)

* New York (Yankee Stadium)

* Oakland (Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum)

* Seattle (Safeco Field)

* Tampa Bay (Tropicana Field)

National League Stadiums:

* Atlanta (Turner Field)

* Chicago (Wrigley Field)

* Colorado (Coors Field)

* Florida (Land Shark Stadium)

* Milwaukee (Miller Park)

* New York (Citi Field)

* Philadelphia (Citizens Bank Park)

* Pittsburgh (PNC Park)

* San Diego (PETCO Park)

* San Francisco (AT&T Park)

* Washington (Nationals Park)

Ballparks Yet to See

American League Teams:

* Toronto (Rogers Centre)

National League Stadiums:

* Arizona (Chase Field)

* Houston (Minute Maid Park)

* Los Angeles (Dodger Stadium)

* St. Louis (Busch Stadium)

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