The Brewers start a three-game weekend series with the Houston Astros tonight.
I fucking hate the Houston Astros.
Let’s take trip in my Way Back Machine, and go all the way back to the summer of 2002. I was living in Milwaukee, preparing for my first semester in Madison, and working at Outback Steakhouse serving the gentry of Greenfield and West Allis the finest Australian-themed meats and cheeses.
Outback was running Jose Cuervo pre-mixed margarita-selling contest amongst three teams of servers for a special prize. Around the same time, they hosted a Mother’s Day brunch. Some of the worst people in the world take their mothers to Mother’s Day brunch at the Outback Steakhouse. In the middle of the shitstorm, my manager Di accidently sliced her hand open. But she wrapped it in towels, and continued plating food with her one good hand and this towel-club-stump as if she was Bobby Flay on Iron Chef, and I busted my ass to help her.
My server team eventually lost the margarita-selling contest. Approaching tables asking “Can I bring you any appetizers or margaritas? How about a 22 oz. ‘Big Bloke’” just isn’t my style. But Di realized I went to the wall for her in the middle of a shitstorm, and as thanks offered to include me in the special prize: a Sunday afternoon game at Miller Park.
We met up around three hours before game time and carpooled to the Park. Di told us she would take care of food and beverages. She was also from Indiana.
“So where’s the grill, Di?”
“Grill? Why would I bring a grill?”
“We are tailgating, right?”
“What is this… tail… gating?”
Oh no. Di, tailgating is a tradition, by which we feast and fortify ourselves with food for the game soon at hand, and most importantly get drunk on beer. She pulled out a gangsta roll.
“Oh, whatever. Corporate gave me all this money. Let’s go inside and by a bunch of shit.”
We adjourned to a tequila bar near what is now the smoking section in the Terrace Level, behind home plate. That’s right. My ballpark has a tequila bar. So we’re sippin’ on some Patreezy, and some Saaaaaaauuuuzzzzzaaa, flashin’ cash and trying to stay cool in the hot June sun coming through the windows.
I convinced everyone to find our seats in the Right Field Bleachers early, so we could at least catch the visitor’s batting practice. I’ve never caught a foul ball at a game, and was excited to settle for an opposing team’s batting practice homer ball. I wanted to keep it, and study its habits. Everyone else was pigging out on a smorgasbord of stadium food, but I was hunched forward, my eyes trained on every deep fly ball popping of the bats of the visiting team, the Houston Astros.
“Hey, John, do you want a nacho?”
I sure did want a nacho, and I reached my right hand across my body and past another person to grab one.
With my hand still on the nacho — still dipped in the cheese reservoir in the hands of my coworker two seats over — I turned my head to see a baseball fly off the bat of an Astro, hang up in deep center field until it looked as big as the bright shining moon, curl over to right field and smash me directly in my right knee.
Sonofabitch! The ball bounced off my knee and across three sections of empty bleachers, toward center field, where three little kids scrambled to pick it up. They didn’t even offer it to me. My coworkers didn’t even notice this had happened, and looked over and chuckled when they saw me writhing in pain.
“Haha, what is your problem?”
The Brewers lost that game. I fucking hate the Astros. Fuck you, Roy Oswalt. Fuck you, Carlos Lee. El Caballo… El Burro!