April 2012

4-9-12 (@ Chicago Cubs)

Monday morning started off with somewhat of a scare. I wanted to rip the commemorative DVD that the Brewers gave out on Sunday to my computer. I wanted to be able to watch it on my iPad on Friday’s flight to Atlanta. I had my laptop on my Alex’s table, and it was resting on a cloth placemat. When ripping a disc my computer works pretty hard, heats up, and the cooling fan is noisy enough that you can hear it from another room. When I was leaving for lunch it wasn’t done yet and I was a little concerned that it could potentially start a fire. Nonetheless I walked to lunch and was on my way back when I saw a fire truck sitting on a street corner just a half block from Alex’s apartment. My heart sunk and I rushed back only to find the building still standing. Whew, I don’t think I would’ve been invited back for the other series if I had burned the place down.

I ate lunch at Revolution Brewing on Milwaukee Avenue, and was not disappointed. As you can see from the pictures below, they use a closed fist as their calling card. Going clockwise from top left you have; the exterior of the building, the bar (with wooden fists supporting the structure above the bar), my lunch, and the tap handles.

I had their Anti-Hero IPA, and the Smoked Pulled Pork, which had a South Carolina mustard sauce and was topped with honey-jalepeño slaw. After my first bite I swear I had barbecue sauce all the way over on my ear, ok, maybe not that far, but it was messy, and delicious.

Earlier in the day a columnist asked for a short interview at Tribune Tower in downtown Chicago. Since I was meeting Alex on Michigan Avenue anyways, it worked out well. I took the Blue Line into the city, and made my way up Michigan Ave. Below are four pictures I took on my walk, it’s Tribune Tower, the lobby of Tribune tower, a very large Marilyn Monroe statue, and 225 Michigan Ave, where my friend works, which has a large red overhang outside of the entrance.

The interview was with Matt Lindner, and he said the profile piece will be up on espn.com sometime next week. After the interview I went up and got a quick tour of Alex’s office, and then we got a key made for his apartment. Since I’ll be staying here 10 more nights this season, he was kind enough to offer.  It allows me to leave the apartment during the day without having to borrow his keys, and I don’t have to wake him and Jess when I get back after a night game.

We jumped on the Red Line on State Street, and headed up towards Wrigley. Shortly after arriving we spent some time trying to get a good game number 4 picture. With all the traffic, it makes it a little tricky. We tried a few different spots, and thought we had a good one, but there’s a taxi van right below the Wrigley Field sign, so we settled with this:

After agreeing it wasn’t going to get any easier as we got closer to game time, we had some time to kill and went over to Moe’s Cantina on Clark Street. I know it’s Chicago, but it still hurts to see your bill of $26 after having four beers (two were mine). I checked foursquare and Moe’s Cantina was offering free guacamole on your first check-in, so that was a plus.

At 5:30 Alex I headed back to Wrigley, got a hot dog, and found our seats. I think it’s crazy that I was able to get the seats I did, seeing that I bought them just 10 days ago. We met up with Katie, a friend from UW-Madison. Alex, Katie, and I all lived in the same dorm freshman year. Katie lives in Wrigleyville and can probably smell the ballpark food from her apartment that is just a half block away. Before the game we got our picture taken, we were standing but the guy taking the picture was sitting, so you can’t really tell where we are. Telly Hughes, who I’ll be speaking with on Brewers Live later today, is (unintentionally) photo bombing the picture.

Seeing that I was four rows behind the Brewers dugout, I was able to get some good action shots during the game. This is Braun connecting on a double to left in the first inning.

This was the view from my seats, not too shabby. I took this photo in the 9th when Braun was getting booed profusely. It’s going to be a long year for him on the road, hopefully he can produce like he always has, and quiet all the skeptics.

The Brewers bullpen definitely tested my nerves with the rocky 9th inning. Thankfully Axford provided a great three pitch sequence to Castro and ended the rally.

My favorite line from the day had to come from a Cubs fan. First off, one of my favorite, albeit frustrating things is when people think any ball hit in the air is going to be a home run. At home and on the road there is a large percentage of people who think everything is gone. When one of the Cubs hitters popped one foul down the right field line, a Cubs fan two rows back said: “That’s what’s up!” He was surely disappointed when the ball landed 100 feet short and 150 feet foul. I wish every ball the Brewers hit in the air would land in the outfield seats as well, but I judge the trajectory and don’t jump to conclusions. Ok, rant over.

I’ll be back at Wrigley in six and half hours, and am already dreading the interview. I know it’s great for raising awareness for the registry and what I’m trying to do, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Wrigley Field: 4 hours 2 minutes
Time on Wrigley Field grounds: 4 hours 10 minutes
Public Transit Miles: 13.7
Sausages: 1 (Hot Dog)
Pitches missed: 0 (3 Straight!!!)
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (303/303)

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 17 hours 15 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 26 hours 27 minutes
Miles driven: 292.3
Miles riding in car but not driving: 121
Public Transit miles: 13.7
Sausages: 5 (Italian, Bratwurst, Cheddarwurst, Polish, Hot Dog)
Pitches missed: 1
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.92% (1,218/1,219)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

4-8-12 (vs. St. Louis)

I was optimistic coming into Sunday’s game, seeing how the offense woke up on Saturday. That feeling dissolved shortly after the first pitch. The day started with me frantically packing for the 7 game road trip that starts Monday. For some reason I think I can pack in 20 minutes but it always takes much longer. I left the house at 10:35, and stopped for gas, because I didn’t want to have to pay Illinois gas prices. I drove to Milwaukee and met my girlfriend, Victoria, at a location that I cannot disclose. There is parking near Miller Park that is free (and legal), but the spaces are limited, so I shall not share. It is quite a bit farther than the parking lots, so it’s probably not for everyone anyways. It’s about .85 miles from the park, so it’s somewhat of a hike. We drove separately because she was coming from the west side of Madison, and I was coming from Fort, and heading to Chicago right after the game. After entering Miller Park we headed straight for the terrace level to get this:

Like I said before, getting the game number sign taken from my seats at every home game would get boring. I’m planning on getting a picture taken from a different section for games 3 through 81. I’m starting in the terrace level and working around the bowl, and then the loge level, and then the field level. We’ll see how it goes. For away games I won’t have as many games to deal with, so it should be easier to mix it up.

Jill, who gave me the apparel on opening day, said that I could exchange the two sweatshirts that didn’t fit. We headed down to the field level and made the exchange. Victoria and I reached our seats in time for the national anthem. The first inning run the Cardinals scored was ominous, but as my uncle always says; “we needed one to win anyways”. It was close until late, but I wasn’t feeling too confident with how things were going. The Brewers weren’t getting any base runners and Lynn was pitching really well. If he can pitch anywhere near the level that he did today, he’s going to have a great season, and he’s only 24. I’m convinced the Brewers will solve the puzzle and tag him for some runs the next time they see him. Chart continues to mash for the Crew, and yes I meant “Chart”. I combined his first initial with his last name; C + Hart = Chart. Yes, I am strange. The people two rows back kindly took a picture for us in the 8th.

The end of the game worked out well, I had to meet a few friends in the field bleachers for fantasy baseball purposes. I’m the “commissioner” of a 12 team league that we’ve had for 4 years now. I didn’t think I’d have time to stay on top of it this year, but I reluctantly agreed to play again. I already don’t know what’s going on and regret trying to make it work, bad judgement on my part. With Axford getting pulled in the top of the ninth, we took off to the right field corner from our seats in 221. I watched the last out from the concourse and then used the “best bathroom at Miller Park”, before heading down the by section 203. I made it to the field level just in time to see Motte’s first pitch to T-Plush.

After Victoria and I said our goodbyes it was off to Chicago. I still don’t think it has set in that I’m actually doing this. 3 down, 159 to go. I’ll be staying with my good friend from college, who I call A-Train, lives in the Logan Square neighborhood. As the crow flies it’s roughly three miles from Wrigley, driving it’s about four miles, but transit time is about 40 minutes. You can either take the L into the city and then the red line up to Wrigleyville, or take a bus over to the red line. Tomorrow I’ll be going into the city to meet him at work, because he’s joining me for the game.

I would have taken a picture of Alex and Jess but they were in their pajamas by the time I thought of it. Jess would probably have destroyed my camera if I had tried to take a picture, but who wouldn’t? They were extremely kind and made dinner for me after I arrived, which was about 6:15. They made marinated chicken breasts, rice (Uncle Ben’s, they probably bought it just for me, knowing them), and an arugula salad with walnuts, strawberries, and cucumbers. It was amazing, and am blessed to have such good friends in a place where I’ll be 12 or 13 nights this season.

This is where I’ll be sleeping for the next five nights. I also have the option of an air mattress, so I’ll go off how my back feels in the morning.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Miller Park: 4 hours 3 minutes
Time on Miller Park grounds: 4 hours 5 minutes
Miles driven: 154.4
Miles riding in car but not driving: 0
Sausages: 1 (Polish)
Pitches missed: 0 (back to back perfect games)
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (325/325)

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 13 hours 13 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 22 hours 17 minutes
Miles driven: 292.3
Miles riding in car but not driving: 121
Sausages: 4 (Italian, Bratwurst, Cheddarwurst, Polish)
Pitches missed: 1
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.89% (915/916)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match and how you can help, CLICK HERE

4-7-12 (vs. St. Louis)

Another mid afternoon start for the second game of the year. I met up with a few friends in Fort, and then proceeded to someone else’s parent’s place to meet up with some more people. We wound up leaving Fort around 11:40 (we had wanted to leave at 11:00). Again a detour was made to pick up someone, this time in Brookfield. Made it to the Yount parking lot at 1 pm sharp. When we pulled in to the lots I noticed an advertisement plane flying above, I think it was the same one from opening day, but I didn’t bother to read the ad on opening day. After a closer look:

You’d think with a family friendly venue like Miller Park you could come up with a better sign to fly overhead.

The people I was with had their own tickets way way way up in the upper deck and over in the right field corner, I think they said 406. I didn’t have anyone for my second ticket so I gave it to my friend and told him to join me if he wanted to. I was tagging along with the group he was with, so I understood that he might not get the chance. He stopped by in the 8th inning and stayed for the remainder of the game, so it was all good.

Since I wouldn’t be spending too many games tailgating in the general lot, I decided it was worthy for the game number two sign:

Jens, a friend since middle school, and whose wedding I stood up in back in September, is the second one from the left. It was either him or his wife, on his right, who instructed everyone to hold up two fingers for the number of games. It’s kind of cheesy, but I still think it’s cool. I’m 1/81 of the way there!!!

I left the tailgate at 2:45 and made the trek towards Miller Park. The majority of people tailgating have about the same mindset, so it gets rather hectic when you try to get into the game for the first pitch. I walk faster than most people, maybe it’s because I have a overall goal. I was walking along the outside of Miller Park’s back wall as the national anthem was being sung. Once inside I made a quick pitstop in the right field loge bathrooms behind section 206, *THE* best bathrooms to go to if you’re trying to get in and out quickly. They have the most urinals of any bathroom at Miller Park, and the least amount of people use them. The bathroom right by my seats in section 221 has only 7 urinals I believe, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to make it in and out between innings because there are so many people in that area. Alright, that’s enough about bathrooms.

I made it to my seat as the Brewers were taking the field for the top of the 1st, and I let out a sigh of relief. It was another good start for the Crew. Greinke faced the minimum through two innings, and Corey Hart hit an absolute BOMB in the second. Apparently spring training is overrated. Hart played in two major league spring training games, hit an opposite field home run in one of them, and proceeded to hit two home runs in the second game of the season. Superb.

I took some pictures with my DSLR during the game, but it’s tough during night games or when the roof is closed. I don’t have the fastest lens and my pictures aren’t as crisp as I’d like. A faster lens would run $700-$2000, so I think I’ll stick with the one I’ve got. This is Braun cruising into second after his first inning double.

And this is Rickie taking his lead after the successful sacrifice by T-Plush in the sixth. I have to give a shout out to the grounds crew; I think the grass looks amazing this year, especially for this early in the season.

Greinke pitched 7 strong innings of 4 hit, no walk baseball, and the bullpen did the rest. Overall the Brewers gave up 6 hits, and they were all singles, not bad at all. I’ll take a 6-0 win every day of the week, heck I’ll take a 1-0 win every day of the week. A win is a win, and that’s all that matters. The rubber match is tomorrow at 1:10, and I need to get some sleep. After the game tomorrow I’m heading straight to Chicago, where I’ll be staying five nights with a college friend and his wife (who is also a college friend). He is a Cubs fan, but he’s a great guy, so I let it slide.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside Miller Park: 3 hours
Time on Miller Park grounds: 5 hours 21 minutes
Miles driven: 12.7
Miles riding in car but not driving: 121
Sausages: 2 (Bratwurst and cheddarwurst)
Pitches missed: 0 (hopefully the first of many “perfect games”)
Percentage of pitches seen: 100% (270/270)

Season:

Time inside Miller Park: 9 hours 10 minutes
Time on Miller Park grounds: 18 hours 12 minutes
Miles driven: 137.9
Miles riding in car but not driving: 121
Sausages: 3 (Italian, Bratwurst, cheddarwurst)
Pitches missed: 1
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.83% (590/591)
If you want to learn more about Be The Match CLICK HERE

Opening Day!

Opening day for me started at 3:45 AM. Went to bed at 9:30 last night but probably only got 4 hours of sleep. I left my parents’ house (where I’ll be staying while the Brewers are in Milwaukee) at 4:44 and made it to Miller Park right on time at 5:45. My parents live on “Lake” Koshkonong. I put lake in quotes because it’s a man made lake that is 10 feet deep at its deepest, it is south of Fort Atkinson if you’re not familiar with the area.

I got to park in the VIP lot, thanks Tyler (Barnes, the VP of Communications), and entered Miller Park through the south dock, where media members and the players enter. Upon entering I ran into the guy who was handing out credentials. I told him my name and of course there wasn’t anything for me. I wound up just pulling up an email I had received from Tyler a few days earlier detailing where I should go, showed it to him, and was on my way. 50 yards away was my first glimpse of the field on the day that I think should be a state holiday.

A few steps further and I was enjoying the view a little more:

I walked along the warning track and met with Tyler before my first interview that was scheduled for 6:15. Jill, the senior director of merchandise branding, supplied me with the first round of apparel that I’ll be getting from the Brewers, as part of our agreement. I was freezing and threw on an extra fleece that they had included. I had asked for mediums when I met with Jill a few weeks ago, but apparently the manufacturers idea of a medium is different than mine. I’ll have to see if I’ll be able to do some exchanging. This on the other hand, will not need any exchanging:

Pretty sweet. I actually tried a few months ago to design this exact same jersey, but online you can only choose two digit numbers, which makes sense, why would anyone need three digits? So this one is custom-custom made, if you will. I’m still debating if wearing it before October 3rd will jinx anything.
The interviews with the four big news stations went pretty well. I guess you can be the judge. I will admit that I was somewhat nervous going in. I think this one was taped second to last, and I honestly haven’t even seen the other 3, and don’t know if I want to. I think it got me prepared for the more in depth interview that will happen on the field at Wrigley on Tuesday. I think that one will be taped and they will play it that night on FS Wisconsin during the game.
I was able to spend some time in the dugout between interviews, and I used the same bathroom that the players use during the games, it’s just a few feet up the tunnel from the dugout. It’s actually nothing special, otherwise I would’ve taken a picture. There wasn’t a restroom attendant, a bidet, or anything special. If I was blindfolded and led in there I would have thought it was your typical ballpark one person bathroom. I assume the bathroom in the clubhouse is a little bit nicer.
If only I could’ve stayed here during the game:
After the last interview I headed back to my car around 8:30. My friends were driving from Fort and leaving at 10:45 so it didn’t make much sense to drive back to Fort, only to leave in about an hour, so I just sat in my car and perused the internet. I was planning on taking a nap but I was too excited for the game by that point. One of the friends from Fort was planning on having two of his friends meet us in the parking lot. I found out that while they were on their way, and on schedule, his friends called and said they needed a ride. Long story short, instead of getting to the park at noon, they got there around 1:40. I had moved my car to the media lot and was just wandering since about 11:30. I wasn’t the happiest of campers when I finally got what I thought was going to be a bratwurst in my stomach. He actually had purchased Italian sausages, and let’s just say I’m not the biggest fan. I don’t care too much for fennel seeds. I joked with him that his tailgating privileges had been revoked. I usually do all the coordinating for tailgates, and I see why I do that now.
My friends’ tardiness did allow me to carefully select the most appropriate person to take my Game #1 pic. Just minutes into my search a few guys carrying multiple DSLRs walked past; JACKPOT!! Not everyone knows how to take a good picture, and I assumed if they are carrying around thousands of dollars worth of cameras, they know what they’re doing. The result:
I’ll be getting one taken at every game with the game number on a piece of paper. I’m bound to forget one, or lose it, or have it ruined by rain. If that happens I’ll just have to play it by ear and make my own on the day of the game. I know 80 more will be taken at Miller Park, but I’ve got something up my sleeve to make it (somewhat) different for each game. The goal is to make a short stop-motion-type movie at the end of the year, or just a glorified slideshow.
As for the game itself? Not the greatest. The 2-0 lead at the end of the first was nice, but it went downhill fast. Four home runs given up by Yovani is not a good way to start the season, but he has just gotten owned by the Cardinals in his career. You know it hadn’t been a good game when they play the “Impact Play of the Game” up on the video board, and it’s the first pitch strike from Gallardo to Furcal to start off the game. I guess they didn’t have much to choose from at that point though. The shot by Kottaras in the 9th was nice to see, I don’t think it got higher than 35 feet in the air. I always liked Georgie even though he doesn’t get much playing time. I’m not sure if anyone else calls him Georgie, but I do.
Game tomorrow at 3:05 on big FOX, leaving in less than 12 hours, so I’m going to get some sleep. I’ll leave you with one artsy-fartsy shot I took while I was killing time waiting for my friends to arrive.
Personal Stats:
Daily:
Time inside Miller Park: 6 hours 10 minutes (including interviews)
Time on Miller Park grounds: 12 hours 51 minutes
Miles driven: 125.2
Sausages: 1 (Italian)
Pitches missed: 1 (looking at my camera)
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.69% (320/321)
** My goal is to miss less than 324 pitches the whole season, which would average out to two per game. I would’ve missed many more today, but upon getting to the bathroom right after an inning and waiting for a minute or two, I left without going because I didn’t want to miss any of the game. I wound up finding a window between people in the concourse in time to see the back to back jacks by the Cards in the 3rd, ugh.
I want to thank everyone for the support they have shown so far, hopefully the next 161 go better than the first.
If you want to help with Be The Match; click here.

Preparation

I was reluctant at first, but figured it was time, considering my mug will be shown on TV at various points throughout the season. Coming into today I had shaved twice since the Brewers were eliminated from the playoffs. Once at the end of October, to partake in no-shave November, which morphed into no shave December as well. I shaved and cut my hair (which I do myself with a trimmers because I’m frugal) in early January before I met with the Brewers executives at Miller Park. That was on January 4th, so it’s been 3 whole months. If you can’t notice from the before and after, not much happens in 3 months of growth. I asked coworkers a few weeks ago how long they thought I had gone since last shaving, and they guessed a few weeks, HA!!! My girlfriend is quite pleased that I’ve finally gotten rid of it. I’ll admit it was getting pretty ridiculous. The picture of me in the top of the sidebar was taken in 2008, so this is a more accurate representation of what you can expect to see throughout the year. 43.5 hours until first pitch.

 

 

And so it begins

Opening day is just 3 short days away, and I’m getting psyched up for another Opener. This will be my 4th opening day, but the first where I’ll actually have a seat. This is the view I’ll be enjoying this season.

I had purchased a 20 game pack for the 2012 season, but the Brewers upgraded it to a full season plan. I’ll be at Miller Park at 4:45 Friday morning to do some interviews with local news stations. I’ve never been on camera before, so this should definitely be interesting. I will also be doing an interview on the field at Wrigley on Tuesday, April 10th, which will air during that nights game. It will be myself, Telly Hughes, and a Be The Match representative.

I think Vegas has set the over/under at 14 hours of sleep for me over the next 3 nights? I’ll take the under. CAN’T WAIT!