A view from the Midwest Best Care Seats.
Sometimes you just have a good weekend at the ballpark. Even when your team is out of it for the year. I think there's a lesson there somewhere.
So what all did I get to see this weekend?
- On Saturday night, I went to the Brewers-Astros game at Miller Park with some online friends, Bill from The Daily Something (new to the Bloguin network!) and the Common Man himself from, ahem, The Common Man blog. It was a lot of fun, drinking beer and talking baseball with quality bloggers and good people while watching a fun game.
- In the seventh inning of that game, Prince came up to bat with runners on first and second and no outs, and tied for first place in the Brewers record book for most walks (99) and most RBIs in a season (126 - tied with Houston manager Cecil Cooper). He laced a single up the middle, but Jody Gerut didn't get a good enough jump to score on the hit. The crowd let out a huge groan - we were all hoping to see that record-setting RBI.
- Prince cooperated in the 8th, though. With one out and the bases loaded, Prince lofted a fly ball to center. Michael Bourn was able to make the catch, but Felipe Lopez had no problem crossing home plate. We gave Prince the standing ovation he deserved, and he gave Cooper - standing in the opposing dugout - the credit he deserved. It was a good moment.
- The Brewers went on to win that game 7-2, their fourth win in a row.
- On Sunday, the terrific girlfriend and I got to the park a little early. It was our last Brewers game of the season, and we wanted to make sure we did it right. The perfect blue skies were certainly cooperating. It was also Doug Melvin Bobblehead Day. Can't go wrong with that.
- After walking around the ballpark and soaking everything in for the last time this year, we headed up the escalators to get to our seats in the upper deck behind home plate. As we made the last turn on our way up, some Brewers employees stopped us and wanted to know if we wanted to upgrade our seats from crappy upper-deck seats to the "Midwest Best Care Seats". These are leather, reclining seats in almost straightaway centerfield. They're gated and on a platform that juts out a little into left-centerfield, right next to the Brewers bullpen. Not only are the seats roomy and comfortable, but we also have a platform's worth of space to walk around on during the game. They might not be behind homeplate, but they're definitely great seats. We were more than excited to accept the upgrade.
- Right before the game started, we got our first ever ball from a major league ballpark, as Brewers pitching coach Chris Bosio threw us the ball that Yovani Gallardo was using to warm-up with. The seats were already paying off.
- To honor Prince's RBI record from the night before, the entire Brewers roster met Prince at home plate before the first pitch was thrown. Cecil Cooper also came out to meet Prince on the field and shake his hand. A nice moment from everyone.
- Corey Hart and Prince Fielder each hit big home runs to centerfield in the first inning. Neither was close enough for us to have to worry about catching, but we did have a pretty unique vantage point from which to watch them. That was fun.
- In the third inning, Yovani Gallardo struck out his third and fourth batters of the game. They were also his 200th and 201st strikeouts of the season, making him only the fourth Brewers pitcher in history to reach 200 Ks. We already knew that it was his final start of the season, so seeing the note-worthy strikeouts was yet another plus.
- Ryan Braun singled in the fifth inning. It was his second hit of the game, and the 500th of his career. That single was immediately followed by a walk to Prince Fielder, his 100th walk of the season and another new team record. He didn't quite get an ovation like he did the night before, but the crowd certainly knew the record was set and congratulated Prince for it.
- Late in the game, I was standing around, leaning on the railing while watching the game and keeping score. I looked over in the bullpen and, for some reason, Claudio Vargas made eye contact with me and tossed me the baseball he was holding. That was pretty cool of him. We already had a ball from the game, though, so we tossed the ball to one of the kids with a mitt who was standing nearby. As the terrific girlfriend said, it was just passing along the good karma from the game.
- The Brewers would win the game 6-0, for their fifth straight win.
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As you can see, it was a fantastically fun and busy weekend, full of great ballpark moments and Brewers club records (and, if these were Yankees games, there's a pretty good chance that you would've seen all of these records on five different SportsCenters). For my final Brewers weekend of the year - I'll be in Boston next weekend for a wedding, so I won't be able to use my Phillies tickets - it's hard to ask for anything more. The only thing it lacked was a Trevor Hoffman "Hell's Bells" moment, but I don't think I can really complain about five- and six-run victories on back-to-back nights.
Thanks for a great weekend, Bill, TCM, and Prince, Yovani, & the rest of the Brewers. And, remember, Brewers fans, the season may have been disappointing from a wins/losses-standpoint, but, when you have the opportunity to go to 10-, 15-, or even 20-games at Miller Park every summer and see Yovani Gallardo strike ten batters out or see Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder crush balls into the bleachers or see Alcides Escobar flash that leather at short, you can't complain all that much. There's still nothing better than seeing Major League Baseball games in person - even if those games are of a sub-.500 team with failed postseason expectations. Baseball really is that good, and we're lucky to have such a fun, talented and likable squad so close and so affordable. It's worth remembering every now and then, and this weekend did a great job of reminding me of it. I hope everyone can have such a great and memorable weekend.