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EDITOR'S NOTE: Page 2's Patrick Hruby is spending his All-Star break at … well, the All-Star Game. During the festivities in Detroit, he'll post occasional updates on the sights and sounds from behind the scenes at the Midsummer Classic. This is his first blog installment.

IN THE AIR, Sunday, July 10, 10:30 a.m. EDT:

Suspended above the Midwest and crammed into an airline middle seat the size of an elementary school desk, I am hurling toward baseball's midsummer showcase at hundreds of miles an hour. My bladder doesn't simply feel on the verge of bursting; it feels as though a creature is going to explode from my innards, fang-snapping and full-grown, then use its slimy second mouth to ask the flight attendant for another orange juice.

Oh, and thanks to federal regulations, I can't do a darn thing about it. Well, not without wetting myself.

As those familiar with Washington National Airport already know, safety (read: anti-hijacking) rules require that all outbound passengers remain seated for the first 30 minutes of flight. No stretching. No borrowing a two-month-old copy of Golf Digest from the overhead bin. And definitely no using the lavatory.

Ouch.

Survival advice? Don't start the day with an extra-large smoothie. Empty out before boarding the plane. Unless masochism excites you, politely refuse the free in-flight drink.

Otherwise, cross your legs and pray for a swift, merciful end.

The porcelain cornerstones of civilization as we know it, urinals also are at the heart of the then-versus-now stadium debate swirling around this year's Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Never mind that Comerica Park is hosting its first All-Star contest; nostalgia for old Tiger Stadium abounds.

Fans miss the former park's cozy, claustrophobic feel, epitomized by a section of the third deck that jutted over the field. Players bemoan Comerica's vast expanses of home run-robbing green -- Ivan Rodriguez says the park is too big, and Juan Gonzalez left the Tigers in part because hitters at Comerica average 1.81 home runs per game, the third-lowest total among major league stadiums.

Jon Lovitz, Ernie Banks, Dave Winfield
Ernie Banks, Jon Lovitz and Dave Winfield . . . Can you guess which one isn't in the Hall of Fame?

Nearly everyone wishes the city would reuse or redevelop the old park, which still stands at the intersection of Trumbull and Michigan and was the subject of a story in The New York Times Sunday.

Lost in the gauzy reminiscing, however, is a simple fact: Newer is better. Every time.

Think better food, better sight lines, better and bigger bathrooms.

The importance of the latter cannot be understated.

Baseball games can last more than three hours. Beer is plentiful. Do the math. The next time you long for the halcyon days of yore -- or find yourself at a venerable park such as Wrigley Field -- remember the awful truth. A short restroom line puts you back in your seat in time for the next inning; a long restroom line leads to abdominal clenching, hopping in place and contemplating a second use for one's empty bottle or cup.

Note: Attempts at dual-use will not impress the stadium ushers.

The other night, I watched a documentary on the history of London. At one point during the Victorian Era, the city's outdated sewer system was so overloaded that Parliament had to be evacuated in order to escape the stench. Meanwhile, a cholera outbreak spread faster than no-limit Texas Hold 'Em.

Continued...


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