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MOUNTAIN TOP, Pa.-– There wasn't any time to check out any of the Baby Pens camp in Wilkes-Barre, because I was too busy with the outlet malls and Wegmans. But before you think I totally gave up on hockey -– NHL '09 was purchased and the "Mets fan in mourning" and I have spent a good few days trying to learn all the tricks for the PS3....
It’s kinda cool that they have all the AHL teams and European leagues, but it would be so much cooler if it had an OHL option too. Maybe the league should look into getting in on that action. I can’t wait to put Scott Barney back in the NHL and have him fight Derek Boogaard.
NOTE: Dear Scotty – I’m sure it will hurt a lot less than the time you fought Pete Vandermeer.
Anyway, there was also a sports outing when we went to neighbouring Hazleton, Pa., to visit the old-school diner the 3rd Base Lunch -- owned and operated by the family of Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon.
Truth be told, I have a crush on the 54-year-old baseball boss.
Usually when I tell people about my crush, they say, “Oh, you mean the lead singer for Good Charlotte?”
“No. That’s Joel Madden, the faux-punk loser. I’m talking about Joe Maddon the Rays manager with the nerd glasses – he’s super cute.”
My admission is usually met with laughter, followed by stretches of uncomfortable silence and the Mets fan shaking his head in disbelief.
After a quick Google search we found the address and were on our way, since Hazleton is only about 20 minutes from Grandma Murphy’s house.
I’m not sure why, but in my mind I pictured a bar-type place where you could get beer, wings and watch a game. So when we ended up in a completely residential area, I thought our GPS had crapped out.
We found the 3rd Base Lunch, right across the street from an elementary school, and the place was so tiny I became convinced we had a the wrong place.
The inside was designed like a retro diner with about 20 stools around a counter (Can you still consider it retro if you've had it since the 1950s?). The decor was classic Pepto Bismol pink with minty green trim, melamine counter and a kitschy Three Stooges clock on the wall.
Judging from the old cash register in the corner, it was a place that hadn't seen technology in a while. Since I'm dependent on plastic to survive and I was still skeptical about the legitimacy of the location, we went to a convenience store a few blocks away.
In the parking lot, we asked a guy where Joe Maddon's restaurant was located.
His response was, “Youz guyz from Sports Illustrated?”
I thought, "Do we look like we peddle overwrought prose?" But then I realized I was still wearing my Toronto Star issued tiara. So it made sense.
Actually, as it turns out SI was there a week earlier doing a feature on Maddon and his hometown, which featured a lot of the locals. The gentleman in the parking lot gave us directions and sure enough, it was the right place.
He also said, "You want the best Italian food anywhere, you go to Casamato's. Joe's best friend Dave owns it. It might not be open now, but you go there."
It was not a suggestion, but rather an order. So, we swore an oath to the parking lot guy to eat there on a return trip to Hazleton.
At any rate, the 3rd Base Lunch is an awesome place for a quick bite to eat – especially if you like hoagies, which are a staple there.
The menu is posted on the wall and features mostly hoagies, burgers, sandwiches and a few salads. Most of the items on the menu are posted as CH or EV -- meaning either with CHeese or EVerything - which consists of cheese, onions and sweet peppers.
This is my Sausage EV hoagie, which was amazing:
I don’t know what kind of cheese they use (Cooper cheese maybe?), but it's a white -- looks like processed -- slice that melts perfectly. The Mets fan was equally impressed with his double cheeseburger.
The drinks are serve yourself, as are the potato chips in the rack next to a little candy stand.
It's definitely a favourite among locals, the kind of place where everyone knows everyone so there's a very comfortable and homey vibe.
After our meal, we were headed back to the car when I spotted a sign that gave Hazleton a spot in my heart, since I love all-things pop-culture and kitsch.
It turns out the school across the street is playing host to a wrestling event on Nov. 8 featuring not only "living legend" Bruno Sammartino but Nikolai Volkoff (he of Iron Sheik tag-team fame).
Not sure if you can see the writing clearly, but Volkoff is scheduled to wrestle someone known as Wolfman. It doesn't get any better than that.
Anyway, that was my trip to Hazleton, PA., and stuffing my face at Joe Maddon's family restaurant, only gave me a greater admiration for the Rays manager. Oh yeah, Go Rays!!
As always - questions, comments, compliments, complaints, threats etc: firstname.lastname@example.org
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