Tag: buffalo bisons

The 2018 Wrap Up


What up, my dudes! Another year has almost come and gone, and looking back on it, I see that it’s been an interesting one, for real.  Through the many trials, tribulations and experiences (some of which I’ve written about here), I’ve really learned a lot. For example:

– I spent some time behind the scenes, in the audience, and in front of the camera. The TV and film life is cool from a distance, but it isn’t for me.

–  Being excluded sucks, and I’ve tried to remind my kids of this. Hopefully, they aren’t the ones who someday start a club like No Homers.

– From my chaperoning adventure, supervising large groups of kids isn’t my forte.  Yet.

– B’s hoop skills have improved a lot. It’s just a matter of time now before he beats me one on one. When this happens, chances are I’ll cry.  In the meantime, if he’s close to winning, I’ll start faking an injury before the last bucket, so my L isn’t official.

– Fortnite. I don’t get it.

– J’s grown up a lot, too. Reading, for instance.  She started the year as a pretty average reader for her age. She’s gotten a lot better, though, month by month, to the point that she now reads bedtime stories to me, instead of vice versa.

– Speaking of growing, check out her legs in this picture:

It’s from a modeling gig for a catalogue.  I figured that there would be some photoshopping or whatever involved. However, of all the things to digitally enhance, I have no clue why the photographers settled on a six year old girl’s legs. Always expect the unexpected, was my takeaway from that experience.

– We booked a road trip to Lansing last year, in part to see uber baseball prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. About a week before our trip, he got called up to the next minor league level, so we didn’t see him. This season, I bought Toronto Blue Jays tickets in April, for a September game, thinking Vlad would be in Toronto by then.  Then in May, I heard that Vlad was being called up to Buffalo soon, so we made plans to see him there in June.  Before our game, though, he ended up on the injured list, so we missed him again. When September came around, the Jays didn’t call him up to the major leagues, so I didn’t see him there, either.  Conclusion? Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is a unicorn who does not exist.

– Baby Shark.  I don’t get it.

– KJ is a sweet lil dude overall, and hilarious, but the ‘terrible twos’ is still very much a thing. He spent the other day alternating between happily playing and losing his mind because he kept asking for “daddoo back”, and because I’m adult who speaks English, I had no idea what the heck he wanted.  If daddoo back was a physical object, he probably would have  beat me with it.

Not daddoo back, FYI.

– The older I get, the more conservative I get. Take this story, for example, of P.K. Subban, Lindsey Vonn and friends, cliff jumping.

About a week before, no joke, I was in the same spot, same cliff, with some of my friends, who took the same plunge as in this video. Where’s my Instagram evidence, you ask? There is none. I chickened out. Those rocks look painful, yo!

– This Is Us. I don’t get it.

– If someone told you that, in the last twelve months, they hung out at a set where Drake filmed stuff on, saw Drake in concert, dressed up as Drake for Halloween, and In My Feelings was their most played song of 2018, you’d probably say, “Man, that teenager sure is a Drake fan!”.  The fact that I’m actually talking about my thirtysomething year old self probably means that some of you are going to stop reading the rest of this now, out of Drake hate. Anyway, in 2018, I’ve discovered that I apparently really like Aubrey Graham.

– Finally,  I think the most important lesson that was reiterated this year was to not take your family and friends for granted. Like Ferris Bueller said, life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. So enjoy life, and the people in it who make it better.

From my fam to yours, Happy New Year, y’all! See you in 2K19!

 

 

 

 

 

Wings And Things – A Minor League Baseball Story

(Disclaimer: I received complimentary tickets from the Buffalo Bisons in exchange for writing a post about the game. Opinions expressed are all mine, as usual).

Recently, I found myself doing something that I never would have dreamed of – cheering on a team of chicken wings.

Let’s set the scene.  The date in question was Father’s Day.  I had decided to celebrate by doing two of my favorite things – hanging out with the fam, and taking in a baseball game.  As a Toronto area guy, the obvious option would have been to go see the Toronto Blue Jays. In all honesty, though, that option was a pretty big meh for me. I love the Jays, but it costs a pretty penny to go a game. Which I get, don’t get it twisted. Big league product with the best players means you pay a premium to enjoy it. However, when you’re talking about an outing with a family of five, it ain’t a cheap afternoon. As well, the Jays just haven’t been all that good this year. I  really wasn’t feeling it, so I came up with a different idea – we’d go to Buffalo instead!

Buffalo is home to the Bisons, an AAA minor league team, who is a Blue Jays’ affiliate. While not major league quality, it’s not that far off, plus there are a bunch of recognizable names on the roster.  They were playing that day against the Rochester Red Wings.  I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I really do like the experience of attending a minor league game. For one, it’s more affordable. Not just the tickets, but also the concessions, too. As well, the teams usually do more for the fans, to make things more enjoyable, For example, the Father’s Day game also happened to be ‘Logo Baseball Giveaway Day’, and you were allowed to play catch on the field afterwards. Between innings also had lots of freebies and giveways, too. The manager of the Red Wings even took the time to walk over and throw B a ball! Little stuff like that really does go a long way.

The Bisons play their games in Coca Coca Field. If you’ve never been to Buffalo, the downtown area is fairly nondescript, but smack dab in the heart of it is this beautiful stadium.  And really, it was night and day watching a game there, versus the Rogers Centre, where the Jays play. The atmosphere is just so much better in a ‘real’ ballpark, for lack of a better term.

Ok, now let’s talk about the wings. The Bisons and Red Wings decided to re-name themselves the Buffalo Wings and the Rochester Plates, respectively, for that weekend, both named after popular local food fares. Their logos and uniforms were rebranded, too, accordingly.  I gots love for Rochester, but Buffalo has more of a soft spot for me, from the Jays connection. And so, for one day only, I found myself sitting at a ball diamond, cheering on a team of chicken wings.

I even got to take a picture with a giant celery!

All in all, it was a pretty unique Father’s Day, and an awesome time at the park.

 

Road Trippin’ in Rochester, New York!

(Note:  Rochester, New York hooked my family up with accommodations, a stipend, and passes/tickets to various attractions, in exchange for me writing about my experience in the city. The opinions given are my own, unbiased thoughts. Enjoy!)

 

Around my neck of the woods, Rochester is a city that gets slept on. Even though it is only about a two and a half hour drive away, it’s basically considered a “tournament city”;  that is, it’s the type of place which, unless you have family there, you only ever go to it for your kids’ hockey or basketball tourneys, or whatnot. You get a hotel for a couple of  nights , go to the games, maybe eat out at a restaurant or two, and then come home Sunday.

I’ll tell you what, though. After spending three jam-packed, fun-filled days in the ROC, it’s actually a great little town. One that is worth taking a vacation to, with your family!

B having a ball...in the Have a Ball exhibit.

Shoot, The Strong National Museum of Play alone is worth the drive, and somewhere you could devote a day to.  The Strong is an interactive museum devoted to the history and exploration of play. It’s also home to, amongst other things, the  National Toy Hall of Fame, and the World Video Game Hall of Fame. Basically, it’s is two floors of cool collections and exhibits that will entertain kids of all ages. B and J both loved the Wegmans Super Kids Market, a spot-on, kids sized replica of a grocery store, complete with the items having barcodes and prices that could be scanned at cash registers (side note – B cruising the aisles with his cart, grabbing only a pizza, and two cartons of chocolate ice cream is pretty much the most bachelorific shopping ever.) J also enjoyed  the Bear Country (Berenstein Bears) and Can You Tell Me How To Get To Sesame Street exhibits, while B totally dug playing the retro arcade games.

Another place which you could make a day out of visiting is Seabreeze Amusement ParkIt has over 70 attractions (including a waterpark) many of which are family and/or kid friendly. B, who’s seven years old and of average height, was able to go on most of the thrill rides alone, for example.  The Park is also laid out well. Navigating it was easy, and didn’t require a lot of walking, to get around. When you’re pushing a stroller and chasing after two other kids, I can’t stress the benefit of this enough!

The comparable amusement park near me is the similarly priced Canada’s Wonderland, in Toronto.  I much preferred Seabreeze to it, in terms of the all-around family experience.

 

Speaking of experiences, since our family are big baseball fans, you know that we had to check out a Rochester Red Wings game. The Red Wings are the Minnesota Twins’ AAA minor league affiliate, and they happened to be playing the Toronto Blue Jays’ AAA team, the Buffalo Bisons, when we were in town.

I gotta give the Red Wings credit. They create a great atmosphere, for their fans. Their stadium, Frontier Field, is pretty cozy.  As far as I could tell, every seat had a good view. The concourses were nice and wide (re: so minimal crowding, again key when pushing a stroller).  Tickets are very reasonably priced, as was parking. The food/beer prices are average, but there is a wide selection of concessions/brews, to satisfy every craving, anyway. We went on a Saturday, so we were treated to an extravagant, 1990s-themed fireworks show afterwards, too.

Three other random points:

1) An underrated perk of attending a minor league game is the good chance of getting a baseball. B somehow ended up with three. He kept one for himself, gave one to J, and gave one to a nice gentleman behind us, who was thrilled to get it.

2) The Red Wings have two mascots, Spikes and Mittsy. I’ve never seen a female mascot before, and neither had J. She’s normally indifferent to mascots, but she immediately took a liking to Mittsy, as did many of the other little girls in attendance. Why more teams don’t incorporate female mascots should be a think piece for a more scholarly website than this one.

3) B and J were the play ball kid, and honorary coach, respectively, for the game. Sweet!

Photo Credit: Bare Antolos

Photo Credit: Bare Antolos

We were also fortunate enough to be in town during Wickham Farms’ Sunflower Spectacular event. The farm planted about 85,000 sunflower seeds in the spring, to cover five acres of land. Seeing thousands upon thousands of sunflowers is one of those things that sounds neat in theory, but really needs to be seen in person.  Just a beautiful, breathtaking sight!

The farm also had a bunch of other family activities, like a corn maze, mini-golf, hayrides, batting cages and a jumping pillow, to name a few.  Little KJ loved the train ride. B and J had a blast shooting apples from the apple cannon (now there’s a sentence I’d never imagined ever writing).  The eats in their barn were tasty, too, especially the fresh donuts.

 

 

For the animal lovers, Rochester is also home to the Seneca Park Zoo, which is a pretty dope spot. While not huge, it still housed a lot of different animals and exhibits.

Each area was very educational and informative, while the staff was all super friendly and knowledablge. Even better, it looked like the animals were very well maintained by them, too.  Not gonna lie, though – this owl and it’s Excorist-esque spinning head had me bugging out, for real!

 

Along the same educational tip, a visit to the Rochester Museum and Science Center was an exciting place to get our learn on. I believe there are more than 200 hands-on exhibits and collections, with just enough of them age appropriate for my kids, which kept them engaged the whole time. The Lake Ontario Dive Simulator Ride, in particular, was a hit with the fam, but pretty much anything that the kids could interact/play on, went over well.

 

B also tried his hand at doing the weather there. Watch out, Brick Tamland (word to Anchorman)!

Finally, in terms of accommodations, we stayed at the DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel Rochester.  I highly recommend this hotel. It’s newly renovated, and our room was very ‘modern’ and spacious. The lobby area had a resort-like feel to it, which was cool. It also was well located; we only had to drive 15-20 minutes, maximum, to any of the places I’ve mentioned.

The best part?

The warm, chocolate chip cookies that they give you on arrival (or, you know, any other time, if you ask nicely)!

So that’s Rochester, in a nutshell, from my experience. It’s a city with a nice vibe, and lots of fun, affordable, entertainment options for a family.  Plus, if you’re in the Greater Toronto Area, it’s not that far, either. The ROC is definitely worth a visit, and exploring, my friends.

Until next time, peace!

 

 

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