As many of you may have noticed, I have been taking it easy for the beginning of the month in terms of working on the site. Real life, unfortunately, does not always offer me theThe time I’d like to spend on here and with the holiday on top of it it seemed best to simply take a short break rather than just puke out sub-standard articles for you.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t have stories for you, however.
Last weekend, I attended the finale against the Diamondbacks at Miller Park. It was a strange game, as most of you have no doubt heard. It also turned out to be quite an experience for yours truly.
The lady and I work a lot, and we are both Milwaukee transplants who take any opportunity to return to our hometown (OK, so we’re both from suburbs, but don’t hold that against us). Last week, we both happened to have Sunday off from our respective employers – a rare treat indeed. It only made sense that the Brewers were in town, so we snatched up tickets a few days before and away we went for my second Brewers experience of the year.
Having only the pair of us in our party, we decided to forgo tailgating, and instead spend some quality time in the park as early as possible. Our tickets were two rows up from Arizona’s bullpen, and we meandered to our seats shortly after the park was opened up to the public. We got the chance to see Collmenter warmup, and there is nothing scarier than watching a fastball whiz by your face. I love coming to the ballpark early – being able to watch BP and see the players warm up on the field is enough to make any man jealous and disappointed in his own lack of physical fitness and baseball ability.
So there we were, watching the Diamondbacks warm up and the Brewers Bullpen warm up in right field with a few dozen ball-hawking fans, when a man in a gold jersey walks up to us. He’s short, tan, and holding a clipboard. The jersey proudly displays “Brew Crew” on it and he’s carrying a clipboard.
He takes a look around, and points at us with our pen. “Are you guys sitting here?”
The lady, as is her way, sort of backed up a bit. Me, as is my way, replied, “Well, not right here, but in this section.”
I grabbed my ticket out of my pocket, but in retrospect I’m not sure why. I don’t know a lot about stadium security, but I’m fairly certain I couldn’t get kicked out by a guy wearing gym shorts.
“How would one of you like to play a little game?” However you said it in your heads to make it sound creepy is exactly how I took it.
“Well that depends,” I said cautiously, “What do I have to do?”
He finally introduced himself as on of the in-game promotional staff, and told me all I had to do was throw a ball onto the field and I’d win my section free ice cream. I swelled with pride as I accepted. The fate of section 103 now rested squarely in my hands. There was no way I was going to let this moment of glory slip through my fingers. He told me to meet him in the bottom of the fourth at “the point” – the nickname for the jutting balcony next to the scoreboard in left-center. The game was to take place in the middle of the fifth, and he assured me it would be a lot of fun.
Truth be told, I did not pay much attention to the beginning of the game. The girlfriend and I chatted about the game, and I nervously sipped my soda (and about half of her bloody mary – just to take the edge off) until the end of the third. Most of the third inning was spent pacing behind my section, and the thoughts started to creep in: what if I fail? How can I show my face in this section after letting them down? What if I look stupid on the Big Screen?
Finally, it was time to take that slow walk behind the batter’s eye and claim my chance at glory.
We reached “the point” shortly after Aoki hit a ground-rule double in the bottom of the fourth. The gentleman who signed me up for the game met us at the gate. He let us in, which apparently made some other hangers-on upset as they gave us sour looks when we crossed the threshold. It felt good. I felt important.
He told us we could feel free to walk around and watch the game. I took a few pictures, and we cheered as Aoki came in to score what was then the go-ahead run. The girlfriend was taking pictures of just about everything, including John Axford pacing around in the dugout. He waved at us. I probably blushed. When the top of the fifth came around, the girlfriend finally got a picture of Ryan Braun – she had been trying all day – but I didn’t seem to notice or care. I was totally focused, judging the wind on the balcony, and looking down onto the warning track that would become my theatre for greatness.
Before long, the rest of the Brew Crew trotted out from left field, carrying an enormous Blue Bunny Ice
Cream bucket inflatable in tow. It was here, my moment of glory.
“It’s pretty windy up here,” said our host in my ear, “it’s going to be a tough one. You’re up first.” He handed me a stuffed ball, roughly the size of a beach ball. I held it and inspected it. He tapped me on the shoulder.
“Give ’em a wave,” he nudged, “You’re up.”
Like an idiot, I waved at the people holding the ice cream bucket.
I hoisted the ball over my head with both hands, did a quick calculation in my head, and let go.
It sailed in the breeze just over the ice cream bucket. I kept my hands raised like I was releasing a last-minute three pointer. It bounced on the front lip of the bucket, then…
It rolled into the dirt in front of the bucket. I stood dumbfounded with my hands still in the air, and paced backwards as my competitor went to the forefront.
She sunk it.
For some reason my hands stayed aloft – a testament to my utter failure and dismay.
The girl I faced off against received the spoils of victory – 11 coupons for free Blue Bunny ice cream pints. For my part, I got the participation medal, one free pint of ice cream and a hearty handshake from our host. The girlfriend consoled me on our dejected walk back to our section, as I steeled myself for the awaiting public.
Either no one watched or no one cared, but either way I returned to my seat just another face in the crowd, and happy to do so after the day’s events. The Brewers ended up winning in a walk-off and moved to 2-0 on my 2012 visits, and that did a lot to cheer me up.
The free ice cream didn’t hurt, either.