Monday, July 25, 2016

A Day At The Ball Park

First of all, there are a lot of people who should stay home. Just not go to the game. Why pay a hundred bucks (or more) for a great seat behind home plate and then bitch about everything from the heat and humidity to the pace of the game?

More on that later.

It’s actually been a couple years since my bride and I ventured to the ball park for a game. In our advancing state of decrepitude, we often decide that the lounger in front of the 66-inch HDTV is the best seat for watching a major league baseball game. But this year, my wife said she’d like to see a Cubs-Brewers game for her birthday, so yesterday we packed the cooler into the venerable road warrior SUV and headed to Milwaukee.

The first mistake was forgetting how miserable the traffic is, with all the construction going on once you get about 8 miles from Miller Park. Even though we’ve made the trek to Milwaukee lots of times in the past few months, to visit our son, his wife, and our granddaughter – before they moved to Brussels, Belgium a few weeks ago – we spaced out the construction factor, and wound up spending more than an hour going from Exit 300 on I-94 to exit 308A. That’s right. 72 minutes to go 8 miles.

We like to get to the ball park early and watch batting practice and all the other stuff that never gets televised before they throw the first pitch. But, that went out the window with the traffic jam. However, we were able to get into the ball park well in advance of the first pitch, to see all the honorary first pitches (there were three “first” pitches Sunday) and to grab a brat and a soda before the action started.

My wife and I might have a beer or two during the course of a game, but we agreed that with 92 degree heat and a dew point of 74, water would be the beverage of choice. Maybe a soda. So after we chowed down the pre-game brat, the water vendor made his way down the steps of Section 118 and my bride got a 20-ounce lemonade.

This was at 12:52, 18 minutes before the first pitch. I note this only because that was the ONLY time the man selling water and lemonade made his way through our section right behind home plate. Oh, the beer man and the Long Island Iced Tea man traversed the steps at least once every half-inning during the game, but the water/lemonade man did not come through ONCE during the game. Note to Brewers: this is a big bowl of WRONG.

Did I mention it was 92 degrees with a dew point of 74???  (A dew point of 65 is considered uncomfortable; 70 is tropical; I’m not sure what they say about dew points higher than 70, except maybe “miserably and unbearably humid”.) And the water man doth not cometh.

Most adults are aware that there really is nothing you can do to change the weather. If you can’t deal with the heat and humidity, stay home in the a/c. But for a particular group of women seated right behind us, the entire game for them consisted of bitching loudly about how hot and humid it was, and how slowly this particular game was progressing, and how they hated baseball and hated being there. Not at a voice volume you’d expect regarding personal chat during a ball game, but in a tone of voice loud enough to be heard by half the people in Section 118.

And one of the guys with this group of women was the unavoidable obnoxious drunk, one of hundreds (if not thousands) who are the bane of baseball fans at every game. There’s at least one in every section. In the THIRD inning, after he’d yelled obnoxious crap for an hour, he tapped me on the shoulder and said “who’s pitching?” I said “Lester”. (Why he didn’t know, in the bottom of the third inning, gives more evidence to the argument that some people just shouldn’t go to ball games.) After I told him it was Lester, he stood up and wobbled a bit, and screamed at the top of his lungs “Come on Lester! Jeezus!!!!!”.

One other thing about the “game day experience” that I’d forgotten, since it’s been a couple years, is that there is constant noise from the PA system during the game. There is no time, except when a pitch is actually being thrown, that there is not noise emanating from the PA system. Tiny snippets of songs for the “walk up music” and even smaller snippets of music-like noise BETWEEN PITCHES. Constantly. At a hundred decibels or more.

When you watch a ball game at home, you don’t hear this constant din. The TV and Radio audio guys adjust their systems so it’s not as intrusive as it is when you’re actually sitting in the stands.

In the fourth inning of Sunday’s game, there was some long, drawn out on-field controversy. Joe Madden came out of the Cubs dugout and confronted the umpiring crew chief, a veteran ump by the name of Feildin Culbreth (yes, I know who a lot of the umps are) and the two engaged in a long discussion with a lot of pointing. Culbreth was working 3rd base for Sunday’s game, and the two kept pointing across the infield toward first base.

While all this was going on, there was nothing from the PA system to tell the fans what was going on; no nuggets of information; no insight; not even after the incident was settled, ten minutes later. Just the annoying beeps and boops of music-like noise. So, when you WANT the public address system to function as a PUBLIC ADDRESS system, and tell you why there’s this huge delay on the field while Joe Madden and Feildin Culbreth are going back and forth, there’s not a word.

Despite the uncomfortable heat and humidity, it was an interesting game with fascinating twists and turns, with the Brewers blowing a big lead and the Cubs rallying in the 7th inning and holding on for the win. The sausage race in the middle of the 6th inning is always fun, and there are diverting and somewhat interesting features on the giant center field scoreboard to entertain the 40-thousand-plus fans during the long TV commercial breaks between half-innings.

It was a good thing we’d tossed several bottles of water into the ice chest in our venerable SUV. After we left the game, before we were at the Waukesha County line on westbound I-94, my wife had already downed nearly a full quart of water. We had been sweating profusely during the entire game, and knew we needed to rehydrate.

Despite the many negative things I’ve mentioned in this rant, we agreed that we had fun going to the game. That’s what really counts.

Oh, and the picture at the top of the rant?  That guy is the game scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks. So, when the Brewers play their series against the D-Backs this week, this guy is the one who will have provided the D-Backs with his analysis of what the Brewers do.

It’s all part of the experience you can get only at the ball park. So, yes, we’ll go again. And I’m sure we’ll have fun.


  1. Epic.Better than last year's.

  2. Who knows the names of umpires??

    1. Lots of hard-core baseball fans; plus, the umps are named before and several times during MLB broadcasts.