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Eldredge Park Review

Finally, a road review! Took a while but I have finally gotten around to visiting a field other than Stony Brook and writing about it! I’ve been to everyone already, now I’m just writing about them. 

Out of all the parks in the Cape that aren’t Stony Brook, I’ve been to Eldridge the most. It makes sense, Orleans is close to my house and I’ve been to plenty of games here. Let’s put my positive history aside and analyze the park critically. Would you like this place? Let’s find out. This is Eldridge Park, home of the Orleans Firebirds. 

Location: 10/10

Eldridge is located at Nauset Regional Middle School, right on the corner of RT. 28 and Eldridge Parkway. Those are two busy streets in the town and the field is hard to miss. It’s easy to see from the street and frequently attracts attention. On top of being visible, the park also has plenty of parking. The school has a sizeable parking lot for the early crowd and a separate football field and track where they can direct overflow traffic to. It can be a bit hard to navigate lot traffic but that can be said if every large lot ever. Point is, there’s plenty of it for people who drive by, like what they see, and want to stop and watch for a bit. 

In addition, Eldredge is quite well located within the town. Orleans is a fairly small place. But it swells significantly in the summertime. It has a great business district for shopping, restaurants, and general merriment. There’s also a theatre, a few great beaches, and plenty of good entertainment for the whole family in town. A number of these things are a short drive from the field, but that’s not too much of a concern. It’s close enough to make everything doable in a weekend or so. The business district is also close enough that you could have a short walk to the field. It’s not the ideal setup, but you can do it. All things considered, I have absolutely no problems at all with the location of the field. It works as a part of the Orleans experience and can cap a great day exploring the town. Perfect marks here. 

Seating: 9/10

Eldredge can host some of the biggest crowds in the Cape League. I was at the highest attended Cape League game to this point, a playoff game between Orleans and YD in 2015. Why can it host so many? Well there’s a ton of space around the fences. Plenty of open grass and room to sprawl out on a blanket and make it a picnic. 

The most distinct feature of Eldredge is the hill overlooking the first baseline all the way from home plate to the foul pole. It’s common practice to bring chairs, blankets, and other stuff and mark off spots on the hill the morning or afternoon before a 7pm first pitch. It serves as excellent advertising before the game and a great place to watch from. You can see everything, you can sit in a comfy lawn chair or blanket, and enjoy one of the prettiest baseball sights you’ll ever experience. Similar points apply to the area behind the third baseline. It’s not as high a hill or as distinctive, but there’s just as good, if not better, a view there. It’s actually my favorite place to sit for a game here. There’s also room to sit in all parts of the outfield. So in terms of locations and spacing, there’s incredible variety and quality in every place. 

The only point I’m taking off is for a lack of variety in kinds of seating. There are four bleacher seat areas. One’s in close to deadaway center, one’s in right field and two are near home plate on the first base side. The issue with these is that most of these are kinda useless. The outfield ones are partly obstructed by the top of the outfield fences, so you can’t sit on the lower parts and see the game. And the ones near home plate are in front of each other, thus making the back one kind of an obstructed view. Yeah, an obstructed view behind home plate, that actually exists in a park without pillars. There are also some picnic tables in right field, and while these are pretty good, they feel like an afterthought. They’re just kinda there without more being available to do or see under the trees in right field. 

All this is to say that Brewster does a better job of seat variety. To get a great experience at Orleans, you have to bring a chair or blanket, or be ok with sitting on the grass. Here’s the thing though, if you’re cool with that, you’ll find better views, and a better air to enjoy the game, especially under the lights. 

Food: 7/10

Like Stony Brook, Eldredge’s food is managed by volunteers from the Nauset Public Schools. It is a ticket system for cooked goods and functions in a similarly efficient manner to Brewster. Things are pretty similar except in one major way, the location. Orleans’ food set up is behind the hill on first base, above the majority of the crowd. And it is very set back from the field. It feels remarkably separated from the action and takes you out if it while you wait and are distant from the game. It is the weakest part of the field and can be averted by not going there for food. Just go to some place in the business district. 

Aesthetics: 10/10

Without hesitation this is one of the prettiest baseball fields I’ve ever seen. The field was renovated in the offseason and it looks gorgeous, green, and luscious. There’s greenery and trees around the field without feeling like you’re in a forest. Games start at 7pm, so there’s normally a pretty sunset to welcome fans at the start of the game. Playing under the lights is a lovely touch. It feels like big time baseball, and makes the experience feel like a scene from Field of Dreams. It’s also the most distinct field in the league, hosting the most unique set pieces. Rt. 28 gives the chance for foul balls to hit cars, the hill is a lovely touch, and there’s a band stand in right field that serves as the view for the Orleans bullpen. It’s a unique look. The outfield decoration isn’t as good as Brewster, with few patterns in the grass, but everything else about this park is so perfect that any complaint would be a useless nitpick. This park is beautiful. 

General Atmosphere: 10/10

Again, this is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had at a baseball field. Every point from the prior category applies here. The chance to sit at a unique looking ballpark under the lights watching teams of excellent college players is a marvelous experience. The kids can enjoy running on the flat grass between innings, playing on the playground in left center field, and siting with their parents and grandparents a the ballgame. The crowds are big, the chance to sit out on the grass and picnic is a lovely chance, and the air around the park is wonderful. Perfect marks again. 

Total Score: 46/50

This is one of the best baseball experiences you can have. I am not exaggerating. The field is perfectly located, wonderfully set up, and absolutely beautiful to look at. It does require a little more work to get a great experience out of this than at Brewster. You pretty much have to bring a blanket or a chair to sit on the hill and get the best experience. But the best times at this field are among the best in the sport. This is not just a required visit for the Cape League, this is a required trip for any baseball fan. 

Baby Driver Review: Spontaneous Thrills

I normally don’t go to movie theatres. Most movies I catch now a days are DVDs, Blue Rays, or XFinity at my house or at showings my friends host. Occasionally though, I will go on a whim and see a film in theatres. My parents are on Cape and we had a free night. So my dad pitched the idea to see a film on Friday night. We all agreed. We ate quickly and drove over to the theatre in Dennis. We forgot it was opening night of the new Spider Man movie, so we had to wait in line for a while. Fortunately, once we got our tickets, we walked into one of the best films I’ve ever seen in person. 

I’m not exaggerating, Baby Driver is one of the absolute best expereinces I’ve ever had at a movie theatre. Why’s that? Well I shall explain. 

Let’s start with the absolute best thing about the film in my eyes (or ears): the sound design. The main character has a hearing issue and wears earbuds so he can listen to music and drown out the tin. The choice of music is excellent and fits the situation well in every situation, whether it’s sweet and romantic, tense and perilous, or fast and thrilling. What’s ear catching is how the music works with the other sounds. When someone passes Baby(yes that’s the main character’s name; we’ll talk about him later) the sound of their voice fades in and back out when they leave. The same thing happens with car horns, jackhammers, and anything else Baby can interact with. It mirrors the way you hear things with earbuds on in real life and is remarkably effective in putting you in the scene. You feel Baby’s character and thoughts through his music choices and subtle actions more than anything else. It is remarkably effective and it is something not many films will have a chance to replicate. The sound designers should win the Academy Award for Sound Design and it should not be a conversation.

The rest of the technicals of the film are excellent too. The cinematography is outstanding, especially with all the motion. The film never stays still, whether the criminals are discussing a heist, in the middle of crime, if Baby is out and about, or if the lead couple is on a date. The film doesn’t stay still, even when it’s slowing down from the violence of the crime world. 

I guess I’ll talk about that part now, don’t see this movie if you’re squeamish. There is a ton of violence. Not as much as The Revenant, but it is still not for the faint of heart. There are high pressure scenarios, shockingly violent deaths, fierce gun battles, and plenty of blood and explosions to go around. However, it’s not grituitous. Everything feels earned and nothing feels out of place. 

Which brings me to the action and car chase scenes, they are outstanding. The chases are beautifully captured and flow seamlessly. The action is remarkable. It does feel a little much, but everything else is so grounded and feels so real that the action can be as thrilling as the director can make it. The car chases are beautiful to watch, and in my opinion, top the chases in any Fast and Furious movie. Baby Driver‘s chances aren’t as elaborate, but they are more real because you care more about the characters in the cars, at least about Baby, than any Furious film. 

Now on the writing and story, I’ve rarely been as compelled in a film. The premise of a talented get-away driver who’s musically inclined and has a painful past trying to live a regular existence but getting pulled back into the crime world of Atlanta, and thus endangering his loved ones is an interesting premise and it works beautifully well. The film constantly twists and turns and always gives you new things to think about and doesn’t let you rest. 

The actors are perfectly cast for their roles. Andes Elgort is perfect as Baby and carries the film. He’s charming, lovable, and a fun character to watch. Jon Hamm and Elsa Gonzalez are outstanding as a robbing duo and dirty couple. They bring some edge to the film. Jaime Foxx is magnificent. He has no regard for anyone but himself, is scarily trigger happy, and is the film’s psychotic wild card. Kevin Spacey is manipulative, controlling, and completely captivating. Basically, he’s Kevin Spacey and is his character from House of Cards. You’ll love watching him. Lily James is striking and charming, working beautifully well as the love interest and the lighter side of a crime movie. But the character who stole every scene for me was CJ Jones’s character, who never says a word yet completely steals the whole show. Watch the film and you’ll see what I mean. 

Lastly, Edgar Wright deserves incredible praise as the writer and director of the film. This has been a premise he’s wanted to work on since 1994. He turned the planned opening of the film into a music video for Mint Royale’s “Blue Song”. He kept it on the back burner until the time was right and finally got the chance to make it a reality. My only concern is that he’s been in discussion for a sequel and I think it’d work well as a stand alone. I hope there’s no unnecessary sequel. 

Baby Driver manages to work as a crime thriller with romantic elements. It juggles a few different genres and works so well. It is one of the absolute best films I’ve ever watched in a theatre. If you have a free night and can stomach some brutal violence, do whatever you can to go see this movie. It is worth every single penny paid to see it. 

Stony Brook Field Review Revisited

Well, this is fitting. The first time I tried to make this little project happen, I got as far as the first post and got derailed by other things. Now, let’s get the project started by revisiting the only field I touched on in 2015. This is my look at Stony Brook Field, the home of the Brewster Whitecaps. 

Now a few points before I get into the actual review. I love the Whitecaps organization. They gave me a chance to be a writer. That chance started me on the career I have today. They’ve allowed me to meet amazing athletes, fun fans, and among the best people I’ve ever encountered. I love the memories I have made at this field. They are among the best I ever have in sports. That being said, I will keep my blissful memories out of a critical analysis of the field’s merits and flaws. A little spoiler, most of the review will be praise, but I am not blind to possible improvements. Let’s get started! 

Location: 9/10

Brewster has a bigger year-round population than Orleans or Chatham, but it doesn’t have a real “downtown” or business area. So there isn’t a truly central place to put the field. They put it at Stony Brook Elementary School, which works well enough. The school is on Underpass Road, between the two major roads in Brewster, 6A and 137. It’s signed well on both roads, so the location works. It’s right on the Cape Cod Rail Trail, so bikers can come by and see the crowds and come on in. There’s also a few bike shops, a pizza place, a mini golf course, a fish place, and a popular taco place right next door, so there’s plenty of stuff right around the field. There’s also plenty of parking around the field, including overflow parking at Eddy Elementary, just a short walk through the woods away. The only location point I’m taking off is a general issue with Brewster: it’s way too spread out and doesn’t have a central business area the way other towns do. The only other issue is that it’s in a residential area and the locals don’t want lights on late, so there are no lights at Stony Brook. Those slight issues aside, the location works well and I quite like it. 

Seating: 9/10

Brewster has incredibly varied seating. There are traditional metal bleachers up the first and third baselines that get you up close to the field. You’re behind a fence, but you kinda have to be for safety. Foul balls can be hit hard. There are also a few hills you can bring chairs to sit on. The biggest one is over the first baseline and makes for a great chance at foul balls. There’s also a smaller hill on the third baseline, but you have to get there EARLY to grab a spot there. Lastly, there’s a hill in center field that overlooks the whole field. It’s a cool place, but there are two issues. First, it could be mowed down a bit. There are too many weeds and it’s quite messy. Don’t sit there without a blanket or a chair. Second, it is far from the action. That’s an issue with any baseball game, but it feels more away from the game in Brewster than at other fields I’ve been to. 

In addition to all that, there are picnic tables down the first baseline that provide a different feel completely. Unless you have food with you or have a young family, I wouldn’t recommend sitting there. It doesn’t give the best viewing angle if the game. 

Stony Brook has remarkable variety in style of seats and viewing perspectives. It can give you two completely different perspectives of the same game. The only point off is split between the listed issues for center field and the picnic tables. Otherwise, the seats are excellent. 

Food: 8/10

For many years, the Whitecaps had the assistance of the Brewster Skippers, a jump rope team that did fundraising by selling the food at Whitecaps games. They had a trailer along the third base line that they operated out of. It was unique, and the food was excellent. Last year was the last for the skippers, as they had a hard time getting a crew together for it, and the food set up is now different. 

Now the food is done by volunteers from the Nauset Regional Schools. They have a tent set up right next to the school, on the hill overlooking the 1st base side. It’s the same set up as Orleans and, spoiling that review a little, it works nicely over there. The new set up is quite good. It’s a ticket set up for grilled items. The selection is rather elementary but they do everything well and get it to you in a timely fashion while being courteous. Only points off are for the location being away from the souvenir trailer and the rather simple selection. Otherwise, it’s pretty good. 

Aesthetics: 10/10

This is a pretty field. The layout allows for some breathtaking sunsets over the third base side, the scoreboard is the best and most complete in the league, and the lack of lights takes nothing away from how pretty a field this is. Especially with Ryan Smith as the best creating patterns in the field pregame. No problems at all here. 

General Atmosphere: 9/10

This is an excellent baseball atmosphere. The public address announcer is the best in the league, The fans are excellent, and the playground behind the press box is outstanding for the kids. The only point off is for small things, like how the lineup posting is a piece of paper in a bulitin board on the back of the press box instead of a larger and more asthetically pleasing form like a whiteboard or chalkboard or how there’s no speed gun showing how hard the pitcher is dealing. Otherwise, it’s outstanding. 

Total Score: 45/50

This is an excellent ballpark. It does everything well and is a must see for anyone privy to the Cape League. Brewster is not a summertime destination in the same way Orleans or Chatham are, but people staying at Ocean Edge or in the area are doing themselves a gross disservice not going to a Whitecaps game. Go to Stony Brook and take the kids. They will love the playground and stay for the great baseball too. 

Cape League Reviews

Since buying our house in Brewster in 2000, the Cape Cod Baseball League has been a regular part of our summertime merriment. We’ve followed the Brewster Whitecaps through many summers, tough games, and two different home fields. I’ve been to every single field in the league and I’ve formed many memories. I’ve also gotten to work in and around the league. 

In 2012, I interned for the Whitecaps as a gameday ops intern, taking donations at the gate, selling 50/50 raffle tickets, setting up the stands and cleaning them up post game, hanging banners and advertisements in the outfield, and promoting the team and players wherever I could. Three years later, I rejoined the Caps as the team’s writer and social media intern. The year after, I had a hybrid internship that had me splitting time as a game day ops guy and a writer. This year, I’m working for Lower Cape TV as a cameraman and production guy broadcasting Whitecaps games. So I’m back on Cape and working around the league and the Whitecaps again. I also started writing reviews of Cape League ballparks. I’ve kept myself plenty busy in recent summers. 

About that last thing though, I never actually finished the review project. I did a review of my home park in Brewster and never did more. What happened? Simple: I got distracted by other stuff. I was writing for the Whitecaps and had enough on my plate at the time. This summer, I’m finally gonna get that done. I’m gonna review every ballpark in the Cape League. That includes redoing my look at Stony Brook Field in Brewster. I’ll be judging the field based on location, seating, food, aesthetics, and general atmosphere, each on a scale of 10 points. 

I’ll just lay out my favorite ballparks as they are now. And I am excluding Brewster from this initial ordering. I’m a little biased in their favor. 

  1. Chatham
  2. Orleans 
  3. Cotuit
  4. Hyannis
  5. Harwich
  6. Yarmouth-Dennis
  7. Bourne
  8. Wareham
  9. Falmouth

I’ll reevaluate all my opinions on these fields as the summer goes on. I’m quite curious to see how the fields matchup. Here’s to baseball! 

My Home Ball Field: Stony Brook Field Review

My jobs on Cape Cod are underway now. Work at camp is treating me nicely, if only the kids would not be so messy… Well hopefully they learn how to be cleaner as summer goes along! I have absolutely loved my work with the Brewster Whitecaps. We’ve had our first two games and we won both of them. I get to watch the games, write stories about them, interview the players, and sing the national anthem when needed. I absolutely love my work here, and I’m sure that I’ll be writing more about my baseball adventures on this blog over the summer.

This post is one of those baseball adventures, but not about my work specifically. When I published this post back in May, I said that I would be offering reviews of the golf courses and baseball parks I play at and visit over the summer. I’ve done a few golf course reviews and I have one more to write in my cue now. With the start of the Cape Cod Baseball League Season, I can begin the Baseball Park reviews. I’ll be judging the parks, for now the ones of the Cape League, based on a few different metrics: Comfort of Seats, Food, Sightlines, General Amenities, Total Baseball Atmosphere. Each metric will be on a 10 point scale, for a maximum of 50 points for a ballpark. Let’s begin with the park I’ll be spending the most time at this season, the home of the Brewster Whitecaps: Stony Brook Field.

Comfort of Seats: 7/10

With this ballpark, there are metal bleachers, like any high school field. There are also open places that you can set up chairs that you bring yourself. There are grassy hills above each of the baselines, and a hill in centerfield overlooking the field. The grass is comfortable to set up a blanket on, and the field is pretty nice to look at from these hills. But the metal bleachers cost points for how unforgiving they are on your back if you sit for long enough.

Food: 9/10

The food is provided by the Brewster Skippers, an intrepid group of girls from Brewster who competitively jump rope across the country and internationally. They sell candy, popcorn, and various ballpark staple foods like hot dogs and burgers for a pretty good price. Plus the profits are split 50/50 between the Whitecaps and the Skippers. It helps the team, the skippers, and keeps us fed with pretty good food. And I’m a pretty big fan of all that. The one point off? Not a great selection of hot foods. But the smaller selection is all pretty good food, so I can look past that.

Sightlines: 7/10

If you’re sitting above the field on one of the hills, you have an excellent view, for the most part. Center field allows you to see everything, and the 3rd base hill has a good view of the field too. Most of the hill above 1st base allows a good view, except the part furthest down the line right above the dugout, which can block your view of 1st base. The real problem with the sight lines is the poles and chain link fence right around the plate. It keeps people from being able to see parts of the field depending on where you’re sitting. That costs some real points.

General Amenities: 8/10

Everything that is needed for a ballpark is accounted for. Bathrooms, food, seats, and parking. Everything is here. Only points off are for the bathrooms being school bathrooms, as the field is attached to Stony Brook School. But that’s not really too bad.

Total Baseball Atmosphere: 9/10

The Whitecaps are a smaller organization in the Cape Cod Baseball League. It makes sense, seeing as how Brewster is one of the smallest towns on the cape. But the atmosphere for baseball is absolutely fantastic. The park is intimate enough for a ball game, comfortable on a sunny day, and the sound of kids playing on the playground and then going to enjoy a ballgame with their parents is fantastic. Plus the PA announcer, for the Whitecaps, the incomparable Jim Nowak, is the best PA man in the league, and among the best PA people I’ve ever seen. Only bad point? Seats are a bit uncomfortable, but not so terrible that it hurts the atmosphere.

Total score: 40/50

An excellent ballpark, with good fans, good food, enjoyable atmosphere, fun place to be for kids and parents alike. My complaints are relatively minor ones. You should go here if you can! Take a look at the schedule to see when our games are!  http://www.brewsterwhitecaps.com/2015-schedule.html