I’m much obliged, for such a pleasant stay

 

I got what I wanted — to see a baseball game my hometown in October. And when I got there, I wanted more.

Saturday was nothing short of glorious. That cool autumn sun turns everything golden — the leaves, my spirits. I know you’re probably accustomed to me likening things to Jay-Z lyrics, but when things get really heavy, I turn to the classics. I walked down to the Giants 1,2,3 lot with Posh and her friend, The Biggest. We ran into old friends with ease. Everyone had that warm, excited, contented vibe about them, the kind you get after you successfully build a roaring campfire. The Brewers were going to win, we just knew it. 

But we were not going to the game. My seats were for the NLDS Home Game 2 — Sunday, a game which might have never been played.

“Yeah, when I bought my tickets, I bought them for Sunday,” I told my friends. “I don’t know what I was thinking.”

I’ll tell you what I was thinking, at the time. I was thinking I would get to see the Crew clinch the division series, at home, at Miller Park. And with a few breaks, and a few more quality performances, we could have seen it. I left the parking lot and walked back up the hill to my apartment just as the television blimp was hovering into sight over the Convertible Confines, with no guarantee there would be a reason to go back the next day. 

But I was sure — the boys were not going to be swept. 

I paced throughout a bartending shift in which I did little but watch the game. I don’t think I’ll ever forget Corey Hart dropping the ball after embellishing an amazing wall-banging catch with a somersault. And if the team retains Dale Sveum as its manager next year, there can be no underestimating the importance of his calmly stating the correct rule on Shane Victornio’s body slam interference on Craig Counsell. He just shrugged on out there… “The rule is that guy, he has to go back over there,” he seemed to say. So they gutted out a win. Chicago, for the second straight year, did not. 

Posh even had a joke for the occasion:

“What’s the difference between the beer at Miller Park and the beer at Wrigley Field? … They’ll still be selling beer at Miller Park tomorrow.”

The sun was not shining when we walked in on Sunday. I brought Posh, my brother and my parents. We were cautiously optimistic, but there was a sense of dumb desperation in the air. The people in the bloody mary line were bitching about how long it was taking, how expensive the drinks were, commenting on the drink lady’s wrist brace. WTF? Is this the first time you’ve been in this line? That lady is a saint, and she crafts a quality cocktail, and she’s administered several dozen to Posh and I this summer, so why don’t you go find your seats, OK?

A very nice family who let us stand by them at the right field cocktail tables (they waited in line starting at 8 a.m. and sprinted to reserve the spot) confirmed it.

“The crowd last night was electric. This is different,” she said, pointing to passersby. “There’s a lot of non-fans here. Look at that guy. He’s not a fan. She’s not a fan. Not a fan. Not a fan.”

There was also a scrum to grab the fan give-away, Thunderstix. As a fan, I’ve never seen these before and I admit I was intriqued. 

Thunderstix — To make noice, bang together lengthwise 

It was a fun gimmick, but I am convinced it handicapped the crowd. People would just bang the things, which were loud, but not that loud. It helped sustain the cacophony, but it took the edge off.

At a certain point, I handed them off. I wanted to clap and cheer and scream and yell. That’s how it’s done — with your teeth and nails and not some confounding clapping balloon. 

Still, there were some fun moments. 

And if you don’t mind, I’ll stretch out in telling them. Because really, what else is there to do for the next five months?


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