Monday, June 02, 2008

bitten by vipers

I am almost loathe to tell anyone about my latest discovery, because it is just so perfect as is and I don't want too many people weaseling in on my action. But I promise if you come to my town, I will certainly take you there.

I've discovered AA baseball.

It's been forever since I've been to a pro ball game. The Blue Jays, prior to their World Championships, in fact. And I've never been a fan of watching baseball inside a dome.

But on Saturday evening, I sat in the sun, munching happily on a Spolumbo's sausage, my feet resting on the roof of the visitors' dugout and cheered on the Calgary Vipers as they triumphed over the Edmonton Cracker-Cats (which is one sweet name for a ball club, I have to admit).

It was a glorious evening for a ballgame. The grass was lush and brilliant from recent rains, banks of clouds moved randomly across the sky, so that just as the sun got too hot on your face, a cloudbank moved over and gave some sweet relief.

And Foothills Stadium is a premium place to take in a game. It's a real old-timey intimate ball park, with free parking right out front, and a laid back and convivial atmosphere inside the gates. People strolled about throughout the game, fetching popcorn or another sausage. Dads took their kids up to the netting behind home plate to get a better look at the batters warming up. Players came up to the gap between the netting and the dugout and chatted with people they knew in the stands. Between innings kids were called down onto the diamond to participate in everything from push-up contests to tire-rolling races to karaoke challenges. And yes there was a mascot - Slider. I think he was a
giant lizard.

The people who run the Vipers games do everything right, in my opinion. They serve Big Rock beer in the cans instead of
pouring it into those awful plastic cups and producing unnecessary garbage. Same deal with the pop. The food lineups (which offered a broad but not overwhelming choice) did tend to get a little long, but nobody got pushy or impatient, because that's the great thing about baseball, isn't it? If you miss a few minutes of the game, who cares? It'll still be going on when you get back to your seat.

And those seats are roomy and comfortable, with scads of leg room. We sat on the aisle in the first row right along the third baseline, as close as you could get to home plate without actually having to bat. You could all but feel your hair parting from the wind generated from the fastballs, that's how close we were to the action.

And all for 16 bucks a seat.

Just down the row from us sat a couple of women with a wee baby who were cheering on the Cracker-Cats. I'm assuming they were the wives of a couple of the Edmonton players, because after the game one of them passed the baby down from the stands to one of the Cracker-Cats, who snuggled with it for a while. Anyway at one point during the game, one of the women left her seat and made her way down the row to the aisle. As she passed us, she pointed to two empty beer cans that the Spousal Unit had sitting in front of him. "Do you want me to take these for you?" she asked.

You wouldn't see that at Sky Dome.


Moxie said...

Unrelated topic: I finally completed the meme you tagged me for!


Hey I have an unrelated topic too!
I saw this today and thought of you!

Thought you might like to add it to your Radiohead collection!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You rock, Moxie! I'm heading over to check it out.

And the funny thing is, Urban Blonde, since that broke, you can now see the video clip again. There's nothing like a good dog fight, my money's on Thom. Naturally.

bloody awful poetry said...

I have never actually seen an entire baseball game. I mean, we get Major League here, but those games seem to go on for centuries.

And on an unrelated topic; I think the Arctic Monkeys gig may very well be a huge hoax. The total lack of publicity is very suspicious. There's nothing about it on the Net, either!

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

How cool. I love minor league baseball, I used to go see the K-Jays, a farm team in the Blue Jays system, in Knoxville when I lived there.

Allison said...

I never got into baseball as much as hockey, even though I played baseball for years in a league. Its really different watching it.

I'm glad you enjoyed yourself, lots of leg room is very important at a sporting event.

Strawberry Blondie said...

I have never been to a baseball game, but your post made it sound lovely. It sounds like a great way to spend a lazy summer afternoon.

I definitely think you're right abuot the Sky Dome inhabitants probably no being as sweet!

Karen said...

I'm guessing that you have more people turn out for the Viper Games than we do for the Cats games. Ever since the Trappers left and were replaced by the Cats...attendance has pretty much sucked. Every summer though, mom and I (or the brother and I) make our way to Telus Field and catch at least one game. The snacks are far more expensive than the tickets but it's a good way to spend an afternoon/evening. And now that we're a mere two or three blocks away from the diamond, we're going to try and make more than one. Glad you enjoyed it, even if it was at our expense :)

BeckEye said...

That sounds like fun. I used to be a huge baseball fan but I gave up on it after the strike in 1992. (Oddly enough, I visited Toronto that summer and ate inside the Hard Rock/Skydome and was so pissed that the stadium was set up for arena football or some shit.) Minor league ball is where it's at. Those guys actually care about the game. At least until they get called up to the big show.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, that sounds fantastic!

justacoolcat said...

We have a minor league team here too and they've been known to do some crazy things for publicity.

There's nothing like outdoors baseball for a fun summer evening.

Gifted Typist said...

I went to a bunch of little league games last summer to watch my son. The ball was great, but the parents on some of the other teams were vile. Put me off, big time.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Part of the beauty of a ball game is the leisurely pace, I think, BAP. Well I hope you get to see your Monkeys after all!

There used to be a Seattle farm team here, Dr M, and when they left, AA thankfully moved in. Great way to spend the evening!

Leg room is crucial, Al, have to be able to stretch out and admire those painted toenails.

I certainly never ran into any evidence of sweetness at Sky Dome, Strawberry Blondie, but I do recommend an outdoor ball game on a nice day. Or you could take in cricket!

I was happy to see quite a few Cracker-Cat fans in the crowd, Karen, always makes things more interesting. When the Canons were here the games were really well attended, but no not that many people there for Saturday's game. I hope you enjoy a pile of games this summer!

I am completely with you on the minor league love, BeckEye, those games are so great and so intimate, you can't help but feel the excitement. Sorry about your Sky Dome experience. Serves you right for going to Toronto, though.

It was pretty fantastic, Justrun! I'm not going to lie.

Where do I get my hands on some of those bobblefeet, JustA? Those are pretty brilliant if you ask me.

There's nothing like a group of obnoxious parents to ruin the fun, Gifted. They should just stay home if they can't be nice.

Deb said...

You've made me very homesick for the ball park.

I grew up at the local one - my brother was a pitcher and we spent every other sunny summer night there. I've only been to one "real" game (Vancouver Canadians) and I thoroughly enjoyed it too. It sounds like you had a wonderful time.

Danny Tagalog said...

I think supporting local sides is more important then ever - in England, big money has spoiled the game (football) and people have lost the community tie with the local side. About time it became regained.

Danny Tagalog said...

I think supporting local sides is more important then ever - in England, big money has spoiled the game (football) and people have lost the community tie with the local side. About time it became regained.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I can sure think of worse ways to spend your summers, Deb, it sounds pretty idylic. And there are those who would argue, of course, that the minors are more real than the majors. Certainly a more intimate experience.

While big money has certainly given the regional football teams in the UK more exposure, I think you are right that it has sadly diluted the uniqueness of each team, Danny. While I know that you and I agree on the inhererent dangers of nationalism, there is something lost when community no longer matters.

Sean Wraight said...

Baseball is the quintessential summertime sport. Minor league perhaps the best of all. The Major's just haven't been the same since the Expo's vanished into the ether.

I really need to get my glove out again. Thanks for reminding me Barb. Enjoy the rest of the season.

Anonymous said...

I went to several games back in the mid 80s when I had a crush on George Brett, even got his autograph, a story in itself. I still enjoy a game once in a blue moon but it has to be semi-pro. The strikes have left a bad taste in my mouth.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I will enjoy it, Sean, I hope your glove still fits you like a ... well, like a glove. Do you still get the Tigers' farm team playing at Labatt Park?

I would love to hear the George Brett story sometime, Leazwell! The minor league games are great! Who needs to squish themselves into a big sterile Dome?

mister anchovy said...

I think I might really enjoy AA baseball.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm certain you would, Mister Anchovy, I hope you get a chance to watch some this summer.