Before I embarked on the long and arduous drive to Chicago (roughly 90 minutes) I decided to take the early morning tour at Miller Park. The rest of my day was filled with seeing old friends and relaxing in my sister's empty apartment. The majority of my long drives are over at this point, but there is still a long way for me to go.
The tour of Miller Park was outstanding. Before I got the chance to explore the stadium however, I took in an inning of some beer league softball at Helfaer Park. I continue to be jealous of the residents of Milwaukee for being able to play ball on the same footprint where Hank Aaron and Warren Spahn stood. It is impeccably maintained by the Brewers grounds crew and includes the original foul poles from Milwaukee County Stadium.
Before the tour, I chatted with some locals about the Brewers and was pleased to find out that despite their rough season and the Ryan Braun fiasco, they were still supportive of their home town club. As much as I love the fact that there are 162 games in a season, there are times where it can be tough to survive the summer. I know first hand how heart wrenching this game can truly be. The number 119 will forever be burned into my memory. In 2003 the Detroit Tigers had to win five of their last six games in order to not break the record for worst team in the history of Major League Baseball (sorry Mets fans). Somehow they were able to do just that and the '62 Mets record of 120 losses remained intact. The Mets were an expansion team that year so as frustrating as it must have been for fans from Queens, it was somewhat understandable. My Tigers had no such excuses.
I was working for ESPN at the time and I remember watching every game that season. After a summer of misery, the last week of that season was one of the happiest moments of my life as a sports fan. I was so proud of my team for not giving up and for fighting back at a time when anyone else would have just laid down and died. Three years later I was sitting behind home plate with my father watching that team play in the World Series. Never abandon your team. One day it will all pay off. I promise.
The tours at the other ballparks have mostly included the same destinations including the dugout, press box, party suite and luxury box behind home plate. At Miller Park the group was invited into the bullpen which was quite a treat. To get to the bullpens we walked along the warning track all the way to center field. For those of you who have never stepped foot onto an MLB field before, you need to take the tour at Miller Park. Standing on the field by the dugouts is nice, but standing on the warning track in center field is an eye-opening experience. It gives you a whole new appreciation for the game. The ability that the outfielders have to not only track the ball off of the bat, but toss the ball back in with any degree of accuracy is astounding once you see the field from their perspective. We as sports fans have a tendency at times to forget just how difficult professional sports can be. The players on the field do such a tremendous job of making it look easy that we falsely believe that it is. I have my moments where I suffer from delusions of grandeur, but standing on the warning track I came to grips with the fact that I would never be able to throw a guy out at the plate (and neither could you).
The rest of the tour was pretty standard, however I was able to check out where Bob Uecker sits and calls the game which was pretty exciting. I mentioned it in my Brewers post, but if you have not read Catcher in the Wry, you should do so posthaste. The Brewers press box was my favorite stop on the tour because of the cleverness on display. The majority of press boxes are located behind home plate at the perfect height for foul balls to come screaming into sending those inside scrambling to protect their laptops. I have dodged a foul ball or two during my time in the Tigers press box, but I am disappointed in myself and my fellow reporters for not coming up with the idea I saw in Milwaukee. The walls of the press box are covered with dates and names of the players who have hit balls through said walls. It is a clever way of commemorating all of the times that someone has almost gotten their head taken off. Bravo to the Milwaukee Brewers press core.
After the tour was over, I hit the road for Chicago. My sister and her husband live in Chicago, so I will be spending the next couple of nights in a bed where I have previously slept before. This may not seem like that big of a deal, but it has been over two months since I could make that claim. Shikha (my sister) and Shakthi (her husband) were in Texas for a wedding so I had the apartment to myself for the night. Tomorrow I will be visiting the historic Wrigley Field.
Miles Traveled: 119
Time in Car: 2 hours 15 minutes
Avg. Speed: 52.89 MPH
Gas Money: $66.10
Gas Price: 4.259
Gallons Filled: 15.521
Sleep Time: 7 Hours 30 minutes
Bottles of Water: 5
Bathroom Stops: 0
Traffic Jams: None
Food Eaten: Grapes, blueberries, pizza from Lou Malnati's
Total Money spent today $110.65
Cumulative Miles through today 13,546
Cumulative Time in car through today 246 hours 45 minutes