BOB MCKINNEY: What I know


BOB MCKINNEY: What I know

My two sons, son-in-law and I continued our baseball travels a couple of weekends ago, visiting the classic American city Philadelphia and seeing two games between the Phillies and the Milwaukee
Brewers at Citizens Bank Park.

This is the latest iteration of a tradition my older son and I began when he was eight years old and we visited Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta (two ballparks ago for the Atlanta Braves).

He has only three to go in his quest to visit every major league park. I’m a little behind him with six remaining, and my younger son is a couple behind me. My son-in-law, late to the party through no
fault of his own, is gaining ground.

Although I had been to Citizens Bank Park a few years ago with a friend, none of the boys had been there, so we decided early this year it would be a good one to mark off the list. It was an easy non-stop flight from Nashville for my son-in-law and me, and fairly simple for the other two to get there,
coming from Atlanta and South Bend respectively.

As my younger son so eloquently put it a few years ago, it’s not a race to see who gets to the 30th park first. And I don’t know that I have ever had as much joy in a journey.

Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia is part of a complex of sports venues. // BOB MCKINNEY

Because of the wonders of technology, we are able to pack a fair amount of activity into these excursions, which often are about 48 hours in duration. (There was one exception to that in 2014 when we were able to cover three parks in three days).

I booked an Airbnb that was less than two miles from the stadium. It was more than adequate, certainly less than a hotel would have cost, and everyone had a bed.

In case I’ve never mentioned it, I’m sold on Airbnb. I can book a place right on my phone, where my card information is loaded, and just as it is with ride sharing services, no cash changes hands. It’s virtually flawless and incredibly efficient.

With skyrocketing hotel prices in so many cities, it provides a great alternative. On this trip, our place was a spacious apartment, much bigger than a hotel room, right in the heart of the city. It was clean and comfortable and worked out perfectly for us.

With Uber and Lyft, getting around was a breeze, and we spent less than we would have on a rental car. The convenience of not having to park and navigate our way around a big city is huge, and a
value in and of itself.

In addition to the games, we soaked up as much of Philly as we could. We went to the Reading Terminal Market downtown, one of the largest and oldest public markets in the U.S., and had a quick lunch after arriving Friday (and went back for breakfast Saturday morning). It has an eclectic mix of domestic and ethnic foods, as well as small retail venues.

Later that afternoon we spent a couple of hours at a local craft brewery not far from Reading Terminal before going to our first game Friday night.

We toured Independence Hall and saw the Liberty Bell, two great symbols of American history that sit in the heart of downtown Philadelphia, Saturday morning. Before the Saturday afternoon game
we went to Geno’s and Pat’s, two walk-up restaurants that are favorites for Philly Cheese Steaks and are located across the street from each other.

We handled that meal strategically, splitting into pairs and ordering two sandwiches from each place and meeting at an open air bar right by the two establishments to consume them.

All of these locations were easy for our drivers to find, and no trip from place to place was more than about 15 minutes — sometimes less.

Citizens Bank Park sits just outside the city in a compound that also includes Wells Fargo Center,
where the Philadelphia 76ers play basketball and the Flyers play hockey, and Lincoln Financial field,
home of Super Bowl champs the Philadelphia Eagles.

I remember from my previous trip there was not a lot going on there other than the playing facilities, but now there is Xfinity Live! Center which has dining and entertainment options and huge screens showing sporting events. These types of places are becoming more common around MLB parks to provide a total entertainment package for fans.

As it turned out, we went over there after Saturday’s game and watched the Belmont Stakes, witnessing the horse Justify capture the third leg of the triple crown.
Saturday night we got take-out from a neighborhood tavern a couple of blocks from our Airbnb
and enjoyed it on the small patio off the kitchen as we watched the sun set over the Philadelphia
skyline.

My younger son had an early flight Sunday morning but the other two guys and I took a quick trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art where we walked up the “Rocky Steps” (the steps made famous in the “Rocky” movies) and statue before heading home.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a late (and still sometimes reluctant) convert to the digital
revolution, but this short trip serves as an example of how far we have come in my lifetime.

With smartphone in hand (and with help from millennials who are more adept at using them than I), I can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time, and have a great time doing it.

Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at bmac1018@yahoo.com.

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