I had the opportunity to attend three games in 12 days as my summer of baseball has continued. Two parks were familiar to me and one was a brand new experience. Here’s a rundown of the key takeaways.
Milwaukee, WI May 11th
Traffic/Parking: Two friends and I decided to take the 90 minute drive up to Milwaukee to attend along with the White Sox. The trip up I-94 was an easy experience and we arrived at the parking lot well in time for an odd 6:05 first pitch. Miller Park is rather famous for their tailgating experience as one would predict from the land of beer and brats. We stopped at a 7-11 to pick up a few cases of Spotted Cow (excellent local beer only sold in Wisconsin), with of course some to take home as well.
First thoughts: I have attended a few games at Miller Park as Milwaukee has become a frequent escape over the years. I’ve mostly attended in the heart of summer so the interest in the status of the retractable roof has never come in question. On a cool May night, it certainly was in our interest and as we pulled up, the roof was open. About an hour before first pitch, the roof closed and thus our jackets remained in the car.
Food/refreshments: I didn’t do too much out of the norm here as nothing too exciting caught my eye. I went with the fairly standard nacho bowl that is sold at most stadiums now. I also could not imbibe too much due to the 90 minute drive that I was facing upon conclusion of the game. When you think Milwaukee you think Miller and brats, and you certainly can get either of those anywhere you turn.
In-game experience: Jeff Samardzija and some very spotty White Sox defense had the team down 5-0 before we even took our seats. The game was very entertaining as it was offense-filled and a back-and-forth contest. Khris Davis may have hit the largest homerun I have ever seen in person as he almost hit Bernie the Brewer before his trip down the slide. And for the record, the Polish sausage won the race.
The most important instance of the game happened to my buddy Steve as he completed his lifelong goal of catching a foul ball. The ball ricocheted off a seat but Steve made an impressive one hand grab without spilling his beer in his other hand.
Wrap-up thoughts: I will certainly find a way to keep coming up to Milwaukee for baseball games as the Miller Park experience is always a good one. The stadium is very nice and you can’t beat the tailgating.
Kansas City, MO May 15th
Traffic/Parking: A business seminar brought me out to Kansas City for the first time and I took the opportunity to spend an evening at Kauffman Stadium. I hopped in a cab from my downtown hotel and traffic was a little messy with being rush hour on a Friday but the cabbie did say I left at the right time as I arrived about two hours before first pitch. Parking looked vast as Kauffman is on the same grounds as Arrowhead Stadium with ample parking for what looked like at least two stadiums.
First thoughts: I had my first experience with using the SeatGeek app and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for the best deal in tickets to a sporting event or concert. My ticket for the second row on the right field line was great.
The crowd really caught my attention as my previous few days in KC let me know that this city really supports their baseball team now. Everywhere I turned I saw a Royals hat or playoff T-shirt. To add to the intrigue, the Royals played the Yankees this particular evening and there were Yankee fans almost everywhere you turned as well. I tried my best and found little effort needed in staying neutral.
Since I got in the stadium as soon as gates opened I was able to watch a little of the Royals BP before walking around the concourse. Kauffman stadium features a “Hall of Fame” for their team in left field just outside the perimeter of their well-known waterfalls. Not surprisingly, the Hall of Fame features a lot of moments from last year’s run. There was also a room almost fully dedicated to George Brett and pinetar. My favorite part was seeing the history of the bats and gloves used throughout the years that even allowed you to get a hands-on experience (at least I think you were allowed to).
Food/refreshments: As luck would have it, I got to attend another stadium featuring $1 hot dog night. I instead set my sights a little higher and took a crack at a “gourmet” hot dog stand and got one mostly topped with chili. I had originally planned on finding some KC BBQ but I had gotten my fill the previous night. Boulevard beer is a staple in Kansas City and I did take a walk around their brewery before my trip out to the stadium. Since I had found which kinds I preferred, I mostly had that at the stadium. Delicious.
In-game experience: It has been a while since I have experienced a game with so much crowd interaction. The fans were all very much in to each pitch and I enjoyed their involvement. The Royals destroyed the Yankees and I left around the 7th inning to fetch a cab after the Royals had entered double digits.
Wrap-up thoughts: Kansas City is a must-go for any baseball fan. I understand that I attended in what is a peak of Royals baseball but I am glad I got to experience it.
Chicago, IL May 23rd
I won’t spend too much time going over US Cellular Field as I did that in my last stadium recap but I wanted to write a few words about the pre-game ceremony that I attended.
Paul Konerko’s number #14 was retired last Saturday in a wonderfully done dedication to his career. I was fortunate enough to view it front and center as my seats were right behind the plate. Seeing “Paulie” on that field one more time was enough to fill me with a lot of emotions remembering what joy he brought me over his career. Konerko will go right alongside Frank Thomas as my favorite White Sox players over my lifetime but he certainly has my most remembered singular moment. His grand slam in the World Series will never be forgotten and he could have easily had a World Series MVP along with his ALCS MVP just for that at-bat. I was happy to be able to attend a very well done ceremony by the Chicago White Sox and receive my souvenir statue.