Sunday, August 22, 2010

60 for 60 Ballpark Reviews: Miller Park

Hello and welcome to the my new ongoing series "60 for 60", where I review 60 ballparks in 60 years. I have no particular schedule to review any particular ballpark, just expect some content here and there in the next 60 years. Or maybe I won't live that long, or maybe I won't get to see any other ballpark so I end up reviewing Target Field 58 times. Whatever.

Anyway, let's christen this series by smashing a bottle of sparkling apple juice against my netbook - I give you my all-encompassing, exhaustive review of the Metrodome.

It's a shithole.

So there you have it! That's one down, 59 to go. Gotta say I like my chances in actually completing this.

Anyway, everyone knows the Metrodome sucked, which makes it that much more awesome that we now have a fantastic new ballpark in downtown Minneapolis, Target Field. In our Metrodome days, people had to make the trek to either Kansas City, Chicago, or Milwaukee to witness a game outdoors. I often chose the latter for the shorter drive - I've gone once a year since 2005. Even though Target Field is just a 10 minute walk from where I work, I still decided against forgoing my annual trip to Miller Park, just to make a comparison.

Here are some random pros and cons of Miller Park:

- PRO: tailgating 3 hours before the game starts. Gotta love the haze of charcoal smoke as you walk through the parking lot. Literally thousands of people just hanging out, drinking beer, cooking brats, not a female under 180 pounds to be seen. Lots of fun.

- The Brewers have something new this year - the Diamond Dancers! Yes, baseball cheerleaders. To my knowledge, the only ones in the league. They do a number before the game starts, they stand in center field as they announce the lineups, they wander around the stands during the game. Yeah, they're nice to look at but for fuck's sake, there's no cheerleaders in baseball! I'm gonna go ahead and call this a CON. Major major con.

- PRO: the crowd. This year I chose to go to a nothing game in July - both teams suck, but the crowd still shows up big time. The best example of this was when Rickie Weeks got hit in the head with a fastball, which had to be the loudest spontaneous "OHHHHHHH!!!" I've ever heard. Weeks stays in the game, pitcher immediately makes a pickoff throw, at which point the crowd turns into an old school wrestling crowd giving him bigtime heel heat, especially when he comes out of the game. Seriously, bigtime kudos to Brewers fans.

- Thanks to the gargantuan, elaborate steelwork that looms over everyone's heads, Miller Park always feels much more like a football stadium than a ballpark. It's why I never wanted Target Field to have a roof - the Miller Park roof is monstrous and tends to dominate your view. CON

- PRO: the food. Duh, it's Wisconsin. I ate a brat, hot dog, and an Italian sausage in less than an hour. My heart was screaming at me. So, so good though.

- CON: lack of history at ballpark. One simple display for the Milwaukee Braves, some nice statues out front but hardly anything else. Target Field eviscerates Miller Park in this category.

- That day's giveaway was a Brewers tailgating apron. Unwise if you ask me - this may lead to a decline in shirt sales since every Brewers fan always spills copious amounts of brown mustard, ketchup and "secret sauce" on their 2003 Richie Sexson t-shirt jersey. Still, this is such a goofy handout that it earns a PRO.

- Speaking of jerseys, there were some very odd jersey sightings. Denard Span t-shirt (okay, its baseball, but wrong state), Olin Krutz Bears jersey (wrong sport, and its a friggin offensive lineman, a shitty one at that), and most strange of all, an Atlanta Falcons Ray Buchannan jersey. Must I be reminded of the 98 NFC title game everywhere I go? Ugh. I'm gonna call this a CON.

- PRO: the guy who sang the anthem was one of the sound crew guys. He sang into his headset. I'm not kidding. Big bonus points for this.

- Random aside: some Brewers no name catcher takes 20 minutes to walk to the plate every at-bat like he's Drew McIntyre or something. I noticed Pudge Rodriguez (they were playing Washington) saying something to him, probably something along the lines of "Your entrance is going to last longer than your at-bat." Sound guy enabling nobodys: CON

Summary (aka Skip All That Other Crap And Just Read This): I'll sum it up in one sentence - Miller Park is an average ballpark that in and of itself provides a subpar atmosphere, but the fans and the tailgating make it worthwhile.

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