Spring time sports – Minor league baseball in the heartland of America

It’s that dreaded time of year again, sports fans.  You know, when the NHL and NBA seasons are winding down, playoffs are picking up, and you know that soon you will be left with nothing other than baseball until September.  Here is a tale of disappointment…

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Spring is here.  Days are getting longer, birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, and snow has turned to rain…oh my, how it has turned to rain.  With that, the mercury is rising, and that leads to more time spent in the great outdoors.  Being relatively fresh to my new residence in the city, there are uncountable things that I have yet to experience.  Over the weekend, I was able to check one more item off that list though.

My wife approached me several weeks ago about the idea of attending a minor league baseball game as an outing with some of her co-workers.  Let me be up front with you here – I HATE baseball.  Yeah, I said it.  And I meant it.  However, it has been close to 15 years since the last time I went to a Major League Baseball game, and I’ve NEVER been to a minor league game.  Friends constantly remind me of the entertainment value of minor league baseball; the festival-like atmosphere, wacky promotions, and unique snack menus.  However, not enough people signed up for the game, so my wife’s employer decided to scrap the idea.  After a week straight of rain on a daily basis (literally), Friday marked a break in the forecast with temperatures in the ideal range of 70-75 degrees, and mostly sunny skies.  Needless to say, we were more than ready to spend some time outside soaking up some fresh air and sunrays.  Naturally, we decided to go ahead and go to the game.  We called up a few friends, and made our way to the ballpark.

Victory Field panoramic

I’ll go ahead and admit it – I was secretly excited about going to the game.  It would be an experience I haven’t had since I was little, and even then it had promise to be better than that…from what I had heard.  I did some research, discovered the high quality offerings of Victory Field, and went in with an open mind.  I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of gimmick would be used to garner some attention, but didn’t get my hopes up too high since it was a Friday night, and I expected that more fans would come out based on that factor alone, so there would be no need to bribe people to show up.  Turns out there WAS a promotion, but nothing like free bobble head night or anything.  It was breast cancer awareness night, and the players wore pink jerseys that were silently auctioned as the game played on.  No, they didn’t strip down after the 7th inning stretch and play the rest of the game shirts against skins…that’d be weird.  During the game, fans could text message a player’s number, and follow that with a bid.  Afterwards, the highest bidder won the jersey.  It also turned out to be Girl Scout night, which meant that some of our other friends would be there leading the Brownie troupe that they head up.  After the game was over, they pitched tents in the outfield, watched a movie on the jumbotron, then got donuts in the morning…for one night only, I almost wished I was an eight year old girl.  I said, “almost.”

"Pink is my fav-or-ite color"

After waiting in line, getting our tickets, and meeting up with friends we casually strolled into the park somewhere around the beginning of the third inning.  We spotted an opening on the lawn beyond the right field fence, and started making our way in that direction with blankets in hand.  We didn’t get very far though, when the aroma of food bombarded my nasal cavity.  If you’ve ever read this blog before now, you should be well aware how much I love food.  During my aforementioned research, I had done some recon and scoped out all that the menu had to offer…and it didn’t look too special.  I decided to go with a classic double cheeseburger, fries, and a cup of cheese sauce…about as American as you can get to go along with the nation’s past time.  The food turned out to be really quite tasty, which was surprising compared to most dried-out concession stand fare.

With our hands overflowing with blankets, drinks, cameras, and food, we carefully made our way to the empty spot along the foul line that we eyed upon entering the stadium.  We staked our claim by laying out the blankets, then plopped down to “enjoy” the rest of the game.  That’s when my mind started wandering.  My attention shifted to the festival-like atmosphere that I was promised.  It was non-existent.  There was the grossly generic “kiss-cam” and “flex-cam” that was employed.  Then they found members of the crowd to compare to characters from “Family Guy.”  And by comparison, the only requirement was that the person be the same gender as the character.  Disappointing.  There were no mascot races around the bases between innings or air cannon t-shirt give-a-ways.  I even attempted to mask my disdain for the sport by actively cheering, which was a huge step for me.  I don’t even consider baseball to be a REAL sport.  Players don’t even technically need to be in good shape to play it – other than a quick burst of energy 2-5 times per game if they get a hit.

Following three relief pitchers and a double play to end the game, the Indians managed to come away with the “W” to which I was unpleasantly surprised to realize that we were sitting directly in front of the victory bell.  After several deafening klangs from the bell, I snapped a picture of the scoreboard and my eyes immediately focused on the announcement being displayed that simply read three words – “Friday Night Fireworks!”  Are you serious??  Yes!  Let’s blow stuff up!!   We were treated to a very nice explosive light display, second only to what you would imagine might be saved for July 4th.

Victory bell...directly behind us

Besides having to sit through most of a baseball game, the night turned out to be enjoyable.  Ate some tasty (but hardly creative) food, caught some rays, visited with friends, watched a baseball game, and was wowed with fireworks all for a lower price than going to the movies.  And while the atmosphere in no way imitated a circus, the field had a very quaint, intimate, close-up feel to it that made it actually quite enjoyable.  For all of that adding up to one big let-down, I ended up having a good time and would consider going back to give it another shot!

Thank you, that is all.

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2 responses to “Spring time sports – Minor league baseball in the heartland of America

  • JENNY G

    I really like the fireworks at victory field too! I find that to be the reason to attend a game.
    I also have to tell you that I found your review of the ball park food “tasty (but hardly creative)” the highlight of your post 🙂

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