Friday, June 29, 2007

Doing the Gatekeeping that the Fraters Won't Do

Today over at Fraters Libertas, Wall Street Journal gadfly Mark Yost begins his series of critiques of several ballparks between here and Brooklyn. Full disclosure: Yost initially approached KAR for this project, but decided to seek another forum because our Chief Editor demanded that all his stories include pictures of the best floaters he found in the restrooms of each stadium.

And after reading today's misleading installment about my beloved Miller Park, I'm relieved we decided to go our separate ways:

The National League-leading Milwaukee Brewers beat the Houston Astros, 6-3, in 11 innings at Miller Park Wednesday afternoon to complete the three-game sweep.

This is an important fact we shall return to...

George and I arrived at Miller Park about 45 minutes before the 1:05 first pitch. It was easy to get into from I-94 and general parking was $8. We quickly found a guy selling Loge tickets, the second deck, for $4 off face value and made our way toward Section 209, about halfway between first base and the foul pole.

Another important fact that shall be revisited anon...

It had been raining in the morning, so the retractable roof was closed. That, combined with the 80-degree temperatures outside, made the place a real hothouse. The humidity was palpable at about 90%.

I'll give him this: I can't understand how some of the decisions are made to open or close the roof. I mean, if the rain has passed, why not open that bad boy up?

I've been here before and like Miller Park. The fans like to show up early and grill in the parking lots.

For the benefit of those from more provincial parts of the country, like Brooklyn, the term for this is "tailgating".

Inside, the brats are good, too. I took Learned Foot's [waving] suggestion and got one with the red sauce and grilled onions.

Fraters did not contact me for comment, but if they did, they would have learned that I in fact did not recommend the grilled onions. Although, there is nothing wrong with them. But for the authentic experience, I would have recommended sauerkraut on the brat. But since I think kraut is disgusting (hellooooo? Fermented cabbage anyone? Yum!), and I prefer my brats unadorned with even non-disgusting vegetables, I only don my brats with the exquisite Stadium Red Sauce, and I advised Yost of as much.

Delicious, and reasonably priced at $4. Catering to the many beer-bellied cheeseheads, Miller Park has a pretty good selection of beer, too.

On the downside, they have a coffee bar, something that has no business being in any major league park. The bottled water was outrageous at $3.50. While I inhaled my brat, George forced down the nasty Palermo's pizza. Six bucks for some gooey dough with ketchup and barely melted cheese. If my barber from New York, Tony Palermo, had been with us, he would have slapped the counterman. And the service was pretty poor. The guy who waited on us clearly hadn't mastered the cash register yet.

Um, not to put a too fine of a point on it, but allowing a child to eat pizza at a ballpark - any ballpark - is a disgraceful failure of parenting. It's like going to Brooklyn and eating something that does not contain olive oil. Or going to the Metrodome and eating anything.

What a gavone!

Once in our seats, we found ourselves literally wedged between the drunks and the retards. Behind us were two rows of developmentally challenged adults. Many just sat there, staring blankly at the field. Unfortunately, we got the seat in front of the hyperactive one. Throughout the game, he loudly yelled cheers and encouragement that had nothing to do with the action on the field.

Geez. Imagine that: a rowdy drunk...at a baseball game! Milwaukee is totally unlike those polite folks at Yankee Stadium who golf clap politely for a base hit by the home team and never, ever throw D-cell batteries at a players head.

But he's obviously a regular, because he responded appropriately to all the prompts from the sound system. He also knew the lyrics to every Heavy Metal song they played (his last name must be "Nugent.")

Or McBrain!

But if he's from Milwaukee, his name is probably something along the lines of "Styczinski".

In front of us were the aforementioned fans who were here for anything but the baseball. As best I could figure, it was the yearly outing for one of the local tire shops. They had absolutely no interest in what was happening on the field.

And as I asked you to recall at the very beginning of this, the game that Yost attended (and the fact he is blissfully ignorant of, presumably because he was focusing all his attention on the mid-inning warmups) was, in fact "LaCrosse Day". LaCrosse Day at Miller Park is a special day for the simple, bucolic folk of that western Wisconsin river town; when its citizens climb aboard several buses and make the trip down to Milwaukee and stagger around wide-eyed and slack-jawed at the wonders of the Big City.

"Look Myrnah! There's one of them colored fellas we done seen on the TV!"

Yost was sitting behind a bunch of LaCrossians.

All they cared about was the location of the beer man and taking close up photos of the thong straps of the cute 20 something in their group who was all too willing to show evermore as the game went on.

In yet another gatekeeping flub by the Fraters, they neglected to publish any photos of the Thong Babe. An oversight that would not have occurred here.

They did take notice of the sausage mascot race at the end of the sixth inning. The Polish sausage won, although the brat holds the season-long lead, having won 28% of the races.

It's a good thing the Nihilist wasn't there. He would have bet on the Choritzo.

During the 7th inning stretch, our neighbors behind us sang enthusiastically during "Take Me Out to the Ballpark." The drunks cleared their pipes for the "Beer Barrel Polka" sing-along that followed.

Another dropped ball by the gatekeepers: it's called "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

For those who were paying attention, it was a pretty good game, knotted up at 3. At the end of the 7th inning stretch, sweaty from just sitting there, I said to George, "Just two-and-a-half more innings. You can do that standing on your head."

He looked at me, soaked in sweat, and said, "Dad, I can't even stand on my head."

In the 8th inning, the retards got into a heated argument about the score. Most understood that it was tied up, 3-3. Our boisterous neighbor argued that the score was 7-6, which was actually the total number of hits, not runs."

It's the second set of numbers," he yelled, loud enough for Brewers right fielder Corey Hart to hear. He did, to his credit, follow the shuffling baseball caps game on the Jumbotron and guess correctly that the ball was under cap number three.

Oh, those whacky LaCrossians! Although they were unwittingly doing the Brewers a service standing up like that. For little did they know that they were blocking the throwing lane of the unhinged New York battery chucking goomba sitting behind them, itching to uncork a Duracell on Prince Fielder.

At the end of nine innings, the only sober guy with the drunks decided to leave. He was wearing a T-shirt that read, "Star Wars Celebration IV." A half inning later most of the drunks left, too, "to be closer to the beer," giggled the girl showing off her thong straps all night. I doubt they knew it was a tie game.

In the bottom of the 10th, the retard cheered for a grand slam, even though no one was on base. Then he sang along -- a little too knowingly for my comfort -- to AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long." George and I moved over a few sections closer to home plate.

And here I refer you to that second thing I told you all to remember above. If Yost hates typical baseball fans this much, instead of paying a scalper $4 off for upper deck tix amongst the unwashed masses, he could have taken a crowbar to his wallet and sprung for the uber-classy club level seats; or better yet, the alcohol-free family section in right field is a perfect fit for effete East Coast pussies who hate chicks in thongs and beer.

To their credit, most of the Brewers fans stuck it out through the extra innings. When Damian Miller stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 11th with two men on base, a couple in front of us stood and started cheering.

Important note: Damien Miller is from LaCrosse.

A couple of old guys behind us politely asked them to sit down. The man turned around and gestured for them to stand up and then ignored their pleas. While one of the old guys went to get an usher, Miller sent the game-winning three-run homer into the Brewers' centerfield bullpen. A fitting end to our Miller Park experience.

And Yost made two new friends who, just like him, know how to act at a ball game. Passive and disinterested.

I don't want you to leave this extensive first post thinking Miller Park is a horrible place to see a game. Quite the contrary. It has good sight lines, good food, and, for the most part, good atmosphere. Furthermore, this is not meant to be a rant against Brewers fans (Learned Foot) [waving]. I'm sure they're no less boorish than the fans we'll find on the rest of our trip. Sad, but true.

Try Comiskey Park. Or Yankee Stadium.

Fans aside [waving], I'd rate Miller Park an 8.

Well, la-tee-da.

George and I will have an off day from baseball on Thursday. We're going to the Great America amusement park just across the Illinois border. But we'll be back at it Friday night, in Detroit for Tigers-Twins.

Which means that this will be the final installment, as Mr. Yost will likely be shot on his way to Comerica Park.

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