Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Definitive 1000

We are going to be counting down the Definitive 1000 things. Why are they Definitive? Because The Friendly Friends have deemed them as such.

#983 - Minor League Baseball

In the space of 5 days last week I attended 3 minor league baseball games, in 3 different states, in 3 different leagues and didn't pay for a single ticket. Which is probably why I ended up at 3 games in 5 days. I hadn't been to a single game at all this year, at any level, but last Saturday, Monday and Wednesday solved that right quick.

Last Saturday I found myself in Lancaster, PA with Mrs. Jewbacca, her brother and his fiancee at a Barnstormers game. The Barnstormers play in the independent Atlantic League (which oddly features a team that plays nothing but road games) and are the reigning champs of the league. On Monday I found myself in Lakewood, NJ with the Mighty Malagan at a BlueClaws game. The Blueclaws are the Single-A, South Atlantic League affiliate of the Phightin' Phils -- which explained the presence of Rod "Ole" Barajas and Shane Victorino. Then my odyssey ended on Wednesday in Wilmington, DE at Frawley Stadium with Mrs. Jewbacca, the Blue Rocks and Cooler Bag Night. The Blue Rocks are the Advanced-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.

So why does minor league baseball deserve a spot on this here list? Let me count the ways:

Observations From the Minor Leagues

1. There seems to be something with eyeballs.
It started at Lancaster. The fun squad (or whatever they're called there) tossed big beach balls that were decorated to look like eyeballs in the stands. Everyone batted them around and whoever had the one with the winning number on it when the music stopped won a prize. I'm pretty sure it was an eye exam. In Lakewood they actually had a race between three giant eyeballs while the crowd screamed out their favorite between blue, brown and green. I'm not sure which eyeball won, but in the end, we were all winners. True story: The Mighty Malagan has two different colored eyes. He wisely did not root for anyone.

2. Mascots Mascots Mascots
Anyone who knows me knows that I do not, on the whole, like any mascot. Except the Phanatic, and then only from a distance.

Imagine my horror then when we rolled into Lancaster to be confronted by scores of mascots who had been attending a mascot camp in Lancaster. That's right. A mascot camp. I imagined it as a Stalag 17 type of place, where mascots are made to work in a salt mine until their debt to society is paid off. Apparently it is a place to teach mascots how to annoy and harass paying customers. So not only did we have Cylo to contend with, but countless others. Some serous nightmare fuel.

Cylo. No, I have no idea why it's spelled like that. It took me until the 3rd inning to realize it was pronounced "silo." BARNstormers...silo...get it?

In Lakewood we were in a "luxury box." Unfortunately Buster makes visits to every luxury box. I hid. I'm not proud.

That is not a BlueClaw. I know. It's still their mascot though.

In Wilmington they take their mascots pretty seriously. They have Rocky Bluewinkle, Rubble and the famous Mr. Celery. From what I could gather, Rubble just kid of stands around and Rocky Bluewinkle does the obligatory crowd bothering. But Mr. Celery is the star. He has his own section ("C" of course) sponsored by a health food store, his own tunnel and the two main food courts are named for him. His sole reason for existing is to come out and dance every time the Blue Rocks score a run. And dance he does.

Wilmington also has a trio of concession items that run the weakest race in baseball. They "run" from about a third of the way up the first base line, behind home plate and then to about a third of the way to third base. And in that short distance they manage to fall, push each other and generally embarrass themselves.

The best mascot-related happening was when the crowd booed Rocky for shooting a t-shirt into the parking lot. The 700 level at the Vet would have been proud of that one.

One of these things is not like the others, one of these things is doing its own thing...Oh who am I kidding? None of these things are like anything else.

3. I made the Jumbotron/Phanavision/Whatever they call it these days
I have never been featured on the scoreboard at any sporting event I have ever attended. Until last Wednesday in Wilmington. I looked over to the video board after seeing the out of town scoreboard show: TEX 27, BAL 3 and there I was. In giant Jewbacca glory.

I instantly went into the routine I had practiced all these years in case I got the chance to shine. The perfectly choreographed motions that would make the crowd remember me forever, would get me my own deal as a video board staple across the land.

I waved.

4. Reasonable Prices for Food....Familiar Big League Prices for Beer
In all three stadia, food prices were fantastic (actually I don't know how much stuff costs in Lakewood. I was a guest of the Mighty Malagan in a box owned by a certain convenient bank. Didn't pay for a thing there.) and I ate like a king. But beer? Holy cow. Beer was still in the $5-$8 range.

5. Secretive Religious Orders
Doesn't really have anything to do with minor league baseball per se, I just found it interesting that on the way to the Barnstormers game we passed Amish farms and horse and buggies. On the way to the BlueClaws we went through an area where there were countless (ok, 28 total) Hasidic Jews on the street and on the way to the Blue Rocks we had to pass through a gauntlet of angry Scientologists.

I made that last one up.

For the above reasons, and also for the fact that the games are quick, the crowds manageable, the stadia easy to navigate and the payers seem to appreciate the attention, I hereby place Minor League Baseball on the Definitive 1000.

1 comment:

billy said...

I don't see any mention of Tuscaloosa's club, the Fightin’ Vaginas (???). I can still remember a crowd of literally dozens of bawdy Tuscaloosans belting out the Vaggies fight song:

Fightiiiiiiin' Vagina
Fightiiiiiiin' Vagina
Fightiiiiiiin' Vagina
What makes y’all so damn divine-uh?

Yeah, the good old days.