Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Miller Park

Andy and I woke up early Monday morning and headed up I-94 to Milwaukee for some Memorial Day baseball. We got to the park a little more than an hour before first pitch, and immediately found ourselves immersed in a giant tailgate. Miller Park itself is several miles outside of downtown Milwaukee and therefore, several giant parking lots have been built around the stadium, allowing fans to get to the game early and set up shop for an extended tailgate.

As we walked around the parking lots, the smell of grilled brats drifting all around us, I realized that I could have sworn that we were at a college football game. People were eating, drinking, grilling, playing bean bag toss -- just generally enjoying the hell out of themselves. And then there was the beer. Everyone was drinking it. College kids. Their parents. Little old ladies. Toddlers out of sippy cups.

We finally made our way towards the park, which from the outside looks somewhat strange due to the combination of the classic brick architecture and the retractable roof (which was open for this game). But first, we had to take pictures with giant sausages. 

The five sausages from the famous Miller Park sausage race were outside the stadium posing for pictures with fans, so Andy and I hopped right in and joined the sausage fest. After the picture, I asked them which one of them felt like they were going to win. The bratwurst (sausage #1) was the most adamant about his chances of victory. I high-fived him as a reward for his bravado and told him I'd be rooting for him during the 6th inning. More on this later.

We headed into the park, and wanting to truly take in the full Milwaukee experience, we each grabbed a beer and a brat. We loaded our brats up with onions and mustard and took them down in a matter of seconds. Just delicious. Honestly, the fact that anyone in Milwaukee has a BMI of under 30 is astounding to me.

We had standing room tickets but found some unoccupied seats on the 2nd level in left field right under Bernie Brewer's dugout. Luckily for us, we happened to be in a group of seats that were in a cheering section for Ryan Braun, a modern-day Hank Greenberg, who gives hope to young Jewish boys everywhere that they are welcome on the playing field and not just in the owner's box. I unabashedly joined in on the cheers.

As we sat there, we noticed that even though the party had moved inside, people were still enjoying themselves. And some people were getting a little out of control. Some girl trying to step over a row of bleachers while carrying food lost her balance. She went down hard and her food went flying. It was only by the grace of God and the back of a bleacher seat that her container of cheese didn't end up all over the guy in front of her. A few minutes after this, we watched as a girl vomited into a trash can, and then proceeded to pass out right in front of a group of cops. As the EMTs rushed to the scene, the vomit smell wafted over the section and Andy and I headed for less aromatic pastures.

As we walked, I noticed the giant windows behind the upper deck, instead of the mesh screen they have in most other parks. On the day we went, the temperature was in the high 60s and sunny, but because of the windows, there was no wind in the stadium, which made it feel absolutely perfect.

We wandered around for a few more innings, watching one hell of a pitcher's duel (Milwaukee's pitcher had a no-hitter through 5 innings, and St. Louis' had a perfect game through 6). At one point, we were talking to an usher, and asked him if Miller Park was always this much of a party. He told us that it usually isn't on weeknights, but on weekends, that this was the norm. Finally, it was time for the main event. The fans stood and cheered as the sausages made their way onto the field and lined up for the race

Ready.....set.....GO!!! Around the turn.....and down the stretch they come....and the winner is.....Bratwurst! All because of my high-five and my words of encouragement. Or at least that what I'm going to believe until someone proves otherwise. 

The game ended up going 10 innings, and ended when Bill Hall hit a walk-off double to lead the Brewers to a 1-0 victory, allowing the crowd to leave drunk, full, and happy.

Quick Summary: Going to a Brewers game on a weekend or a holiday is like going to a giant party that just happens to have a baseball game going on in the middle of it. Until football starts again in the Fall, this is what people from Wisconsin have in terms of tailgating, and they definitely make the best of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment