Well, it’s Sunday and the Brewers are still the NL Central Division Champs!!!
For many of you, the name Eric Pleiss will evoke many feelings. I would hope they are mostly thoughts of love and peace, but they could also be of him being a Minnesota man living in a Sconnie world. In the past we have had him on as a special guest, in fact his first contribution to our site was his thoughts on a game he attended earlier in the season. So, it was without any hesitation that I agreed to publish his thoughts on attending the game on Saturday night. Which as we all know, was the day after the day that will live in our hearts forever. I will let you all jump in and read a Twins fans thoughts on a superior team/stadium experience…after one quick house cleaning thing.
This past week, one of our staff writers, Lynda, had a death in her family. I wanted her to know that Colin and I have her and her family in our thoughts during this difficult time. Lynda is a part of our “Greatest Brewers Mustache” round-table and I refuse to unleash number 1 until she is back. So, you all have my apologies for the delay of the greatest stache in history, but I am sure that you will all understand. She has worked very hard and deserves to see it through to the end. Please keep Lynda and her family in your thoughts.
Remember, if you like Eric’s work, you can find him at Puckett’s Pond. Ok, Pleiss…take it away.
A Day at Miller Park
By Eric R. Pleiss, www.PuckettsPond.com
Since moving to Wisconsin late last summer I’ve managed to take in a couple games at Miller Park but I had never arrived early and tailgated. Tailgating it seems, with a little bit of cheddar cheese and bratwurst, runs in the veins of ‘Sconnies’ (Do people really call themselves that? I have heard it a couple times, but it seems… lame.).
On Saturday we arrived at the Yount parking lot about 3.5 hours before first pitch. The parking lots do not open until 3 hours before first pitch, so cars were just lining up to get into the lots and the beers were flowing as folks milled about their parked cars. Despite the upcoming baseball game, there seemed to be about 15 people playing catch with a football, and just two folks throwing a baseball around. Maybe football is just part of tailgating, regardless of the event. I brought a Frisbee with, and not wanting to seem like a rank amateur, I kept it hidden deep in the back of our tailgate vehicle. At 3:10, without queue, people moved back to their vehicles and we were directed to our parking spot.
Three hours is just about the bare minimum, in my opinion, for a solid tailgate experience. That gives you about an hour to set up, wet your throat, and get the charcoal good and hot. Add in another hour to eat and snack, and finally 30 minutes to clean up and have one last beverage before heading into the stadium in time to catch the National Anthem. We pretty much stuck to that schedule.
Tailgating at a Brewers game is very much like tailgating at any other large sporting event. There are lots of 20-somethings running around drinking way too much alcohol. There are a bunch of 40-somethings running around pretending that they’re still 20-somethings, and then there is everyone else. Our neighbors to the right fell into the 20-something category (Apple Pucker/Strawberry Jello Shots, really delicious), and our neighbors on the left fell into the 40-something category (Apple Brandy shots!). I was content to enjoy the middle ground and take in what little sun was peeking out between the afternoon clouds.
When we finally made it into Miller Park, we went in the wrong entrance. After a quick tour around the entire 3rd deck we arrived at our seats, Section 406, Row 3, Seats 13 and 14. These seats were really high up down the first base line, and looking down over the railing it seemed like you would nearly land on top of the Right Fielder. I was sitting with some colleagues from work, and upon noticing my TC Twins hat, they informed me that if I wasn’t cheering for the right team (The Brewers, apparently) they would have no trouble tossing me right over that rail onto the head of Tony Plush (though throwing a spectator onto the head of your right fielder seems more hurtful than cheering for the opposition.). Luckily I didn’t have any trouble cheering for the Brewers, having adopted them as my post-season team, thanks to Nate Gilmore over at Puckett’s Pond and his series on who Twins fans should root for this postseason.
This game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Florida Marlins ranks right up there with some of the most eventful games I’ve ever attended. Before I speak to the exciting moments from Saturday night, left me first share with you two areas where the Brewers expereince fell short. First, the Brewers kept playing the Chicago Blackhawk’s Goal Song (You know, duh, nan, na nuh, nananananana. Chelsea Dagger by the Fratellis. Enjoy some Youtubbing if you still don’t know what I’m talking about) Get your own song Milwaukee, and if you must share, don’t borrow from Chicago! The other thing I didn’t approve of was having the roof closed. It was a little chilly, (Mid 50s) but there wasn’t any rain coming down, and it would have been a nice night for some outside baseball. No doubt I reminded a couple Brewer fans that the Twins play their games outside, no roof required.
Anyways, back to the good! Shortly after the first pitch a young family came by to inform us we were sitting in their seats. That seemed impossible, since we were sitting in our own seats, but then I looked at their tickets. Apparently the mother was in charge of leading her kids and husband to their seats, and had mistakenly brought them to Row 3 instead of Row 23. I pointed this out to her and directed her to look up towards the top of Section 406, where her actual seats were located. She thanked me, and then said to her husband,“Oh, I guess we’re in Row 406.” It was already shaping up to be a great game! There are two really great things about sitting up in the nose bleeds at a baseball game. The first is that when you watch the outfielders run after a ball in the gap, or back towards the warning track to make a spectacular catch, you realize that these guys are covering A LOT of ground. Carlos Gomez made a shoe top grab early on in the game that I thought surely, no human not named Ben Revere could get to. The other great thing about sitting up high is that you realize that pop-ups are REALLY high. Towards the end of the game one foul pop went all the way up to the roof and through some of the metal beams before landing midway up the upper deck. Amazing.
Part of what made this game so exciting was all of the action. The Brewers ended up winning the game 6-4, but the Marlins had 10 hits, and the Brewers had 12 of their own. And I thought National League baseball was all about bunts and stolen bases?!
Besides Carlos Gomez’s running catch, another former Twin, LaTroy Hawkins (he of former latroyhawkinssucks.com fame), came in and pitched effectively in late relief for the Brewers, picking up the win in the process. I couldn’t help but marvel at the career of the 38 year old right hander, who bounced around the league after several years in Minnesota, before ending up as Milwaukee’s best middle reliever, posting a 2.49 ERA in 50 appearances in 2011. Pretty impressive. I think you can safely classify The Hawk as a crafty veteran.
I had to laugh when Prince Fielder grounded into a Fielder’s choice. If you don’t think that’s funny, I don’t know what is. Either way, right after he the Prince reached base he attempted to steal second base. No doubt a little exuberance left over from clinching the division the night before. The throw beat Fielder to the bag, but came in on a short hot and some how Prince managed to slide under the tag to earn the stolen base. Prince Fielder has 1 stolen base in 2011. Now that, Ladies and Gentlemen, was Fielder’s Choice.
I don’t know when it started, but plenty of folks are cheering for Ryan Braun as the MVP. A couple of folks almost had a solid MVP chant going for Braun’s first AB, but he dropped a broken bat triple down the right field line before the crowd gathered too much strength. Which reminds me, Brewers fans need a little help knowing when to cheer, and when to get loud. The stadium graphics and announcer help a little bit, but there is definitely a lack of knowledge there, having not won a Division Title since 1982, I’ll just assume Brewer fans are out of practice. Oh, and a bunch of drunk guys spent the last 4 innings of the game (4 very interesting innings, even) attempting to get the wave going. I don’t know if their eventual success was attributable to their persistence, or if the rest of the 45,000 fans just felt sorry for them. Either way, the wave did finally make a lap and a half before a Brewer scoring play broke it up for good.
Jon Axford is awesome. His entrance music/video isn’t super, there need to be more mustache shots, but otherwise pretty awesome all around.
After the game we sat in the parking lot for an hour waiting to get back on the freeway and then it was a nice leisurely drive back home.
And that’s pretty much it. A great day at Miller Park.
Oh yeah, the Chorizo won the Sausage Race with a time of 19.67, for those of you who keep track of that sort of thing.
You are the man Eric. Thank you for your unbiased insight into the home of the future World Champions. Everyone, be sure to check back tomorrow. I will finally make up my mind who is going to be the NL MVP. As hard as I have been fighting to escape this topic, it just keeps dragging me back. The harder I fight, the weaker I become.
Hope you all enjoyed the weekend, I know I did!!!! Nothing spells October glory like a home sweep on the final weekend of the regular season. Everyone should get ready for playoff chatter, because it is coming.