A small band of brothers made a flat out burn up to Minneapolis last Sunday for the finale of the Brewers-Twins series. That band was us. This is the story.
We had seen the the resurrection of the old I-94 rivalry in our home ballpark, and it was rowdy. Now it was time to see it in that pantheon of public works, Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
We stopped in Eau Claire for some libations and then had the first of our “first” experiences on the trip — Sonic Burger. There is a brand new Sonic on Miller Park Way, but anyone who has gone past it since it has opened has told me it is completely mobbed, with a line for the drive-in spots, from open to close. Sonic has been a fast food holy grail for years thanks to the chain’s diabolical strategy of heavy ad buys in areas which don’t yet have a store.
There was also this exchange on a recent episode of “This American Life.”
Our exchange ordering some food was just as funny, and way more discombobulated.
Me: We’ll have a number six and…
Posh: Get me something.
Me: A small Oreo frosty… shake… what are they called? Blasts?
Sonic Man: Do you want the Oreo Blast as part of the meal?
Me: No. Nic, what kind of soda do you want? Pick a flavor.
Nic: Soda? Uh… what kind do they have? I want the Oreo Blast.
Me: And… A JUMBO POPCORN CHICKEN!
To our amazement, the Sonic Man recited exactly what we wanted, but couldn’t quite articulate.
Nic: Wow. He’s bringing his A-game.
We arrived at P-House’s, uh, house, and slammed some homemade mojitos before heading down to the Mighty Mississippi to bask in the beautiful day and flaunt our Brewers T-shirts. It was there we had our second “first”-type experience, seeing a dead body. OMG, you guys, I saw a dead body!
We had walked out onto the Stone Arch Bridge, then doubled back and were checking out the view from the Guthrie Theater when we saw it — a gross, bloated floating corpse in the pool under the St. Anthony Lock. It’s a sad story, and a distant metaphor for the Brewers chances at avoiding a sweep at the hands of the Twins that night. But we could help throwing in a “The Departed” quote.
Collin Sullivan: “I saw a dead guy. I think I’m having post traumatic stress. Can I meet you for lunch?”
Brewers fans were well-represented in the Humpdome, especially in the general admission seats, which is where we sat. There was little to get enthused about.
Joe Mauer crushed an opposite-field homer off Dave Bush before we even made it to our seats, so the Crew was playing from behind.
Braun got a hit in the fourth and we thought we had something going, but Prince grounded in a double play. Then Mike Cameron came up to bat.
I remember thinking, “Hey, Mike Cameron. He can hit home runs, too.” And then we saw something that was not a “first” of any kind. It was actually the 250th time it has happened. Cameron took a ball over the left field… wall, I guess. The thing looks like a tarp. Anyway, Cam’ron knocked one over it, making him one of only 20 players EVER to hit 250 homers and steal 250 bases.
So we’re in good shape, tie game. It’s not even that big of a deal when Bush gives up another homer, this time a 2-run job from Joe Crede. But then he walks a guy, and gives up a single, so the Crew brings in Mitch Stetter. Who hits (or didn’t really hit at all) Mauer with a pitch, to load the bases.
At this point in the story, I’ll introduce you to the Twins fans who were sitting directly in front of us. They were probably younger than us, and definitely enthusiastic about their team. There were three dudes in Twins gear, and one girl, who Posh said had a common cosmetic surgery, clad mostly in pink.
I returned from getting a beer, and one of my brothers pointed to me and said, “Hey, you should talk to this guy about being a fan of the Wisconsin Badgers.” I explained that I did go to school in Madison and my friends and relatives are quite sick of hearing about it.
Me: So you guys like the Badgers?
Twins fan #1: No way, man.
Me: Oh, so you back the U (of M… innesota).
Twins fan #1: Naw, man. I’m for the Buckeyes, all the way.
I was very surprised how graciously I handled the bilious rage bubbling up inside me.
Now the umpire has shooed Ken Macha away for arguing that Mauer was not really hit by the pitch, one of the guys, in a pinstriped home Mauer jersey, and a white bandana tied in a headband style, corralling perfectly short, shellacked spikes of hair, stood up and started whipping his index finger around to indicate he believed Justin Morneau was about to hit a grand slam.
Here is Morneau stepping to the plate.
I turned to Posh and said, “It appears this chap believes Justin Morneau will hit a grand slam home run.”
Which is exactly what, on the very next pitch, Morneau did.
There was much rejoicing in Twinkie Town. The Humpdome was rocking, and the Brewers were now losing 6-1. The bandana’d boy, turned to me and demanded a high-five.
Me: All right… All right… Settle down.
Twins fan #2: You know, I have to say, you Brewers fans are good sports. I mean, you’ve been losing like a bunch of losers all weekend, but you’ve been good sports about it.
Me: Well, we have some experience with obnoxious visiting fans.
Twins fan #2: Oh, tell me about it. The Boston fans, and the New York fans, they’re the worst.
Me: Are there a lot of Red Sox or Yankees fans who come here to the Metrodome?
Twins fan #2: No. But if you go to a ballgame in New York or Boston and you’re wearing the other team’s gear, they tear you apart, man.
Me: So you’ve been to a Twins game at like, Fenway and Yankee Stadium?
Twins fan #2: No… You know, but I’ve heard.
Yeah, man. I know. I’ve heard.
But the thing about Brewers fans on the road, is they are only gracious to a point. And that point is usually sometime around the Ninth Inning, when, after a weekend of their team getting it handed to them by an old-time rival, on the brink of another solid smackaround on national television, they get to see a 2-run home run by their most bombastic, swaggeristic player, Prince Field.
And so these upstart Twins fans are suddenly reminded that few runs are safe against this Milwaukee team, and after enjoying a cushy lead for much of the game, they are suddenly a few hits away from blowing it. All the end result of this was the Twins brought in their closer to strikeout Cameron and Corey Hart to secure the win — but it did give us one more thing to holler about.
The Metrodome’s roof is made of a fiberglass fabric and is helped kept in place by air pressure. Because of this unique indoor atmospheric condition, we were literally thrown — almost DJ Jazzy style — out of the building.
We filed out into the Navy Blue-and-Red flavored crush of Minnesota fans.
We circled around the stadium and caught a glimpse of the Brewers buses, and the spread of food that was laid out to fortify the caravan for the late night ride to Milwaukee.
We had to hurry off, because we had to make our 11:30 dinner reservations at Chino Latino, and then, the next morning, the five-hour drive to Milwaukee in time for the Memorial Day matinee at Miller Park.