I’ve got to be honest, the first game I attended of the 2012 regular season was probably the least attention I’ve ever paid when visiting a big league ballpark. It was more about spending some time with my friends (six of them, to be precise) and taking in the feeling of being surrounded by baseball fans once again. That’s probably why I’ve waited until Friday morning to put out the recap – I don’t remember a whole lot of the game itself.
My friends Theo (Baseblog’s webmaster), Stephanie (girlfriend and Tumblr ambassador), Matt (roommate), Andrea (roommate’s girlfriend), Christian, Phil (more friends, woo!) and I sat in the left field bleachers. It was my first time sitting in Miller Park’s bleachers and second time in home run territory overall. Roomie Matt has been learning more about baseball this season. He’s watched almost every Chicago Cubs game with me on MLB.tv. He and Andrea also made a sign at the Kohls’ sign making station (pretty cool) which read “Get grand slams”, inspired by this hilariously awkward video.
The experience began when this little number showed up in my email inbox:
I’ve got to hand it to the Milwaukee Brewers, they really know how to treat their fans. With fees and taxes, my six friends and I combined paid about the same amount of money that my dad spent on one ticket for my first trip to Wrigley Field of the Epstein era. Plus, it’s not like this deal was just for Terrace Reserved seats – these were bleacher seats too! I was pleasantly surprised.
The game at Miller Park featured the Houston Astros and obviously, the Brewers. Zack Greinke was on the hill for the Brew Crew, and after the 6-5 victory over the ‘Stros, Greinke is 13-0 at home. He is only the sixth pitcher to accomplish such a feat in his first 13 home decisions. He struck out nine batters on Monday night.
Other pieces of the game I remember: Jed Lowrie hit a nice home run to right field in the first inning, Norichika Aoki got the start in center, Ryan Braun hit a blast to left field, and Mat Gamel took out Jason Castro at home.
I spent the evening cheering for the Astros that are on my fantasy team, Carlos Lee and Chris Johnson. Lee was 3-for-5 with a run, but Johnson had four strikeouts. Four! That’s like, -40 points for me. Grumble. It was also spent booing Ryan Braun, an act I was completely alone in sitting in the left field bleachers, an act that I would continue until Theo elbowed me in the side before each of his at-bats. The one time I did not boo Braun, he hit a home run.
I was joined, however, in my disliking of Nyjer Morgan by a Brewers fan. I think he had a pinch hit appearance late in the game, which lead to a disagreement with Theo and Phil. A father in front of us chimed in “Yeah, I’m with this guy, [Nyjer]‘s a piece of shit.” It made me chuckle.
The man who replaced Morgan in the lineup today, Aoki, is fun to watch. Maybe I’m just getting Kosuke Fukudome flashbacks but I like watching his stance, how he chokes up on the bat a little bit and swings his lefty swing with a spin. Aramis Ramirez was 1-for-4 with an RBI; I cheered him each time he stepped up.
I wandered around the stadium for a few innings (getting lots of “where are you?” texts from my friends) visiting the shops and indulging in my baseball memorabilia obsession. Upon getting ready for the game, I realized that I don’t actually have a ball ready in my dorm room to be signed. What if Theo Epstein makes another surprise appearance at the Pfister Hotel? What if Ramirez is doing a Q&A at Marquette University? I need a good, solid, official major league baseball ready to be signed. So I picked one up ($30… grumble. $25 at the satellite shop outside… double grumble) and dubbed it “Autograph to be named later,” something that my girlfriend actually came up with. I was impressed.
I also picked up a Dale Sveum nameplate from Spring Training (I assume 2011, since he had a Cubby one in 2012) and a ball-and-glove Brewers logo frosted “toothpick holder.” I was going back and forth debating on whether I should buy a Craig Counsell game used batting helmet (I don’t have any helmets in my collection yet, and I do love me some game used memorabilia), but I decided to hold off. I’ve already got tickets for September 16th and if I’ve still got disposable income then, I might bite.
In the end, John Axford came in and slammed the door. There was some excitement in the 7th as the Astros inched closer, but the Brewers walked away with this one. We utilized some public transportation to get back home. All in all, it was a fun, laid-back time. I love watching the Cubs play, but sometimes it’s nice not to be hanging on every pitch and just walk around the ballpark a bit.