Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Night at the Ball Game

It’s not really a baseball game unless you have food that would kill you if you tried to eat it more than once a week.

Tonight was our first trip this year to see the local minor league team play – they’re a Single-A team, which means that they spend a lot of time working on things like hitting cut-off men, rounding first base in the proper fashion, and remembering which end of the bat is the one you hit the ball with, and that’s about my speed these days. You can take a family of four to a game without going bankrupt and they always have little promotions between innings, most of which involve a child doing something that will likely end up on YouTube someday. What’s not to love?

It was actually a double-header, thanks to bad weather that canceled a game a week or two ago, so there you go – bonus for us. There were two 7-inning games, because nobody really wants to sit through 18 innings of Single-A ball in one night, not even the players. The good guys lost the first one 3-1, and were scoreless in the third of the nightcap when the wind chill finally got to us and we went home.

Yes, wind chill. The last six weeks have either been 95 degrees or 55 degrees, with very little in between. Tonight was in the latter category.

In keeping with the requirement that this be an actual baseball experience, we purchased and consumed all sorts of lethal food-like substances from the concession stand – my share went for nachos, a hot dog slathered in mustard and jalapeno slices, and a bag of salted peanuts in the shell – and it was good. Tomorrow I shall exist on carrots and oatmeal in order to balance it out, I suppose, but once in a while one must do one’s bit for sport. This is about as much bit as I do anymore.

There were about a hundred people in the stands when we got there. My guess is that most people didn’t know about the extra game, which was added on the early side of the originally scheduled one. And sure enough by the start of the second one there were maybe five hundred, although it was hard to tell since only a few dozen were actually sitting down at once.

Minor league games are fairly tranquil on the field – except when the umpire calls a line drive off the left field fence a foul ball when it was clearly fair by about three feet, then it gets exciting – but they are hives of activity up in the stands. Kids run up and down the bleachers, across the aisles and down into the play area behind the first-base stands. Parents wander from place to place buying food, visiting friends, or just walking around to warm up in the face of the gale-force winds and autumn-like temperatures.

It was 4H Night, so we got in on the girls’ 4H club’s dime. It was also Postal Workers’ Night, so there were a great many letter carriers in attendance, including our old one. He even got to throw out the first pitch for the second game, and it made it to home plate on only one hop. Keep your day job, son.

It’s been years since I went to a major league game. I’ve gotten used to the slower pace and weirdly informal atmosphere of the minor leagues, and I’m happy there.

I’m sure there’s a life lesson in there somewhere.


Janiece said...

We enjoy both. This weekend we saw the Rockies (who lost), but we'll also head down to see our local AAA farm team, too.

The ML games are fun for me because I enjoy watching people who are simply stunningly good at what they do. I am in no way an athlete, so watching an outfielder make a throw all the way to home plate - accurately - gives me joy.

But the farm teams are youthful, full of enthusiasm tainted by desperation. They're ALMOST THERE, and it shows.

David said...

Yes, there is that! Although the Single-A guys are a bit further from ALMOST THERE than the Triple-A guys, so they're mostly trying to establish themselves there.

I think the last MLB game I went to was in 1994, when I went to home games for the Brewers and my Phillies. I enjoyed them immensely. Both teams have built new stadiums since then, and I'd like to go see them play in them.

But I just love the atmosphere of our little Single-A club.