Unemployed ballpark trips rule!

So it's been forever since I last posted. I've been laid off for a couple weeks, so M and I went to St. Louis to catch two games, and I brought a camera along to prove that I was there.

Game 1 was a splendid affair. We bought a pair of tickets off a season ticket holder, and had great seats under the second-tier overhang, which was a good thing since rain was in the forecast. It was 93 degrees at 6 p.m. when we arrived. The sun was not out, and the feel like temp was 107. I splurged and spent $14 on a mini-fan -- the best $14 I've ever spent at a ballpark.

M made fun of the fan, but later asked to borrow it at least once. The happy, overheated couple.

The food at the new Busch Stadium is still mediocre, but I love my ballpark eats anyway. Here I sample a footlong brat. Yum.

The beer, however, is very mediocre. Big surprise in a ballpark named for Anheuser-Busch products, I know. M later found a stand selling regional brews Boulevard and Schlafly's, but of course they were located half way across the stadium. So I opted for the $8.75 24 oz. Bud Lights.

Donnie Baseball checks out Manny Ramirez's hair in the batting cage.

It was Chris Carpenter's first start at Busch Stadium in a year and a half, and just his second start of the season. Here he is prior to the first pitch. He blanked the Dodgers for five innings.

Then the rains came.

The first rain delay lasted about 20 minutes. The second was more like 45 minutes, and everyone with better seats ended up doing a lot of standing around in the concourse, right under our dry seats.

The positive thing about all the rain was that the temperature dropped about 15 degrees, making it a downright delightful evening. Manny didn't cool off like the temps, though. He was on base four times, so Pujols had plenty of time to catch up on old times.

The All Star logo for 2009's game at Busch was revealed. Yawn.

The game was well in control until the 9th. With the Redbirds up 4-0 and Carpenter in line for his first win since 2006, La Russa handed the ball to Ron Villone to start the inning. Villone promptly surrendered a home run to Andruw ".160" Jones. That set the wheels in motion for Izzy's entrance into the game. He has no business closing major league ball games anymore, a point driven home when he gave up back-to-back singles, then walked Manny to load the bases with one out. His own mishandling of a weakly hit ball back to the pitcher allowed the second run to score, then Kent singled home two more to bring the Dodgers to within one. Izzy was booed on his way to the dugout with a 6.28 ERA. La Russa brought in our next worst closer, Franklin, who was touched for a game-tying sac fly before closing out the inning.

Ryan Ludwick looked good swinging for the fences in the bottom of the 11th for a walk-off, two-run shot.

The metro ride back to the hotel was a happy one.

The next day we checked out the City Museum, which a friend had once told me was a great place to visit when under the influence. I think it would have also been a great place to visit when I was 10. The entire "museum" is basically this trippy metal maze, part indoors, part outdoors, in which a kid could easily get lost for a couple hours. M and I had fun exploring what nooks and crannies we could squeeze into. And, of course, the myriad slides.

The museum also had some interesting old opera posters and a few cool things for less limber adults, including a retro cafe with a ton of 1940s-1960s arcade games. I was fond of this one.

Wednesday's game was also a keeper. The temperatures were in the high 70s, just about perfect. Beforehand, I posed with Gibby outside the park.

The game was a bombastic affair. Pujols hit a grand slam to trump Manny's solo shot, and the Cards trounced the Dodgers, 9-6. Despite some bad news -- the Cards had picked up the woeful Felipe Lopez prior to the game and he started in left -- the game was quite memorable. My nephew and brother-in-law made the trip down, and I purchased the best seats I've ever had at a major league game -- nine rows back of the Cards dugout -- for $75 per.

On the way home the following day, we made sure to stop by Arcola for the best damn tacos around from El Taco Tako. Yum. For real.