Thursday, August 11, 2011

Not Usually a Fan

I am not usually a fan of baseball.  It is just too slow of a game to keep my attention...especially on TV.  I am sure it has its nuances and fine/subtle aspects that I am not picking up - I'm not arguing that.  I'm sure people that love baseball can see all these things in it that I don't, I'm just saying that it is usually not a sport for me.  Games are better live than on TV.  When I go to a game, I do try to follow the game but I don't go often enough to really get into the sport of the individual members of the team.  So I cheer for the home team but don't get too invested into the whole thing.

Every once in a while, when I do get to take in an Iowa Cubs game, I always enjoy it.  However, baseball is only a minor part of the experience for me.  I like getting out with friends, enjoying a nice day or evening, watching people fight over blasted t-shirts or hot dogs and eating an awesomely grilled hot dog and some peanuts.  While this is happening, baseball is being played in the background.

Silky O'Sullivans on Beale Street
I hadn't had an opportunity to take in a I-Cubs game this summer.  So last week when I was in Memphis and the I-Cubs happened to be playing the Memphis Redbirds a couple blocks from my hotel, I decided to head down and check it out.  I had already walked around downtown Memphis quite a bit and my feet were getting tired and I just wasn't in the mood to hang out watching blues bands all night.

Photo courtesy of Hillary Stein @ flickr
However, it seemed like a waste to be in Memphis and just get a ballpark dog, so I headed to Silky O'Sullivan's where I had early been tempted by the Silky Dog sign.  I wasn't sure what a Silky Dog was, but figured that at least I would be trying something culturally new.  The menu described it as "scored and char-grilled with Silky's Special Slaw on the side."  I wasn't sure what that all meant but baseball puts me in the mood for a good dog, so I was willing to give it a shot.  It ended up being a hot dog that was slit halfway through every quarter inch or was like an accordion almost...then grilled so that it had some slight char.  I like char so wish it had been grilled a little longer but it was pretty darn tasty.  I might experiment with this technique at home as it did offer an interesting texture and I think if you threw in some spices it might be excellent.  It will probably deep fry really good too...mmm, things to try.  I am excited for all the HD possibilities. The slaw was slaw.  I didn't see much special about it - it was good, maybe a touch vinegary but good.

After my Silky Dog and some piano at Silky's I headed over to the stadium.  I was late.  It was the bottom of the first inning.  I was shocked that there was still a line of about 10 people waiting to buy tickets.  It was HOT out  112 degree heat index.  I didn't really expect a big crowd.  Oh wait, there is only one person working the ticket booth (and that person didn't seem too competent).  So I look around and find some guy scalping tickets.  I don't usually buy from scalpers (in fact this is only the second time) because I believe in the money going to the people that put on the show, but I was looking at standing in line for another 20 minutes to get to the front of the ticket booth.  So I hit up cracky across the street.

"How about you give me $10 for this ticket right here...that's a good price"
"$10? That's face value - it says so right there...I can walk across the street and get the seat next to this for $10.  I'll give you $5."
"I don't think I can do $5...How about $8 but that's robbing food from my family."
"I need to eat too...and there is no one else buying tickets...I"ll give you $7."

I head into the park and was right...there is a tiny crowd.  They announce paid attendance at 4,800 but there probably wasn't more than 400 people there.  It was sparse.  The park was really nice but had a completely different feel than the hometown stadium.  The Redbirds' stadium, AutoZone Park is about 3000 seats larger than the I-Cubs' Principal Park, but the Principal Park feels much more airy and open.  The Memphis stadium is surrounded by office just doesn't have the blue sky openness that Principal Park has.

I grabbed an ice cream and headed to my seat.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the I-Cubs were winning 1-0.  I know it is probably not a fair representation since I maybe go to one or two games a year, but when I do the I-Cubs always lose are have really low scores (except for that one time and the Rally-Yak.  I'm still not sure what that was all about but I like the Rally Yak).  The I-Cubs continued to score and play well - shutting down the Redbirds like it was easy.  The fans were turning a little ugly...instead of cheering their team, they were booing the I-Cubs.  With the exception of a home run in the 2nd, the Redbirds were not able to score while Iowa scored at least once each inning...until the sixth.

Top of the 6th and the score is 7-1, I-Cubs are dominating every part of the game and are just coming off a nice homer in the 5th.  I figured that the I-Cubs would come in fired up, but they were not able to handle the replacement Redbird pitcher.  The I-Cubs get a single and three pop flys outs.  It is the first inning that they didn't score.  Memphis comes back with a homer.  The seventh inning is scoreless for both but the Redbirds rule the eighth inning with 2 runs.

The I-Cubs got into the ninth with a score 7-3, and they start out strong with a double.  The runner advances to third on a ground out but is tagged out at home on the next play.  With a runner on both first and second, the Cubs end a scoreless on a strikeout.  Still they are up by 4 runs...and the most runs that Memphis has been able to get in an inning is two.  Many of the fans have left at this time, it should be no problem for Iowa to finish off the Redbirds right?  Not quite.  Memphis singles, then Iowa walks the batter.  With runners on first and second, Iowa gains a strikeout and then a pop out.  Two runners, two outs...and we walk another batter.  Bases are now loaded....and Memphis hits a Grand Slam Home Run to win the game.  Really?  A grand slam to win it?  It was the most exciting baseball game that I had ever seen.  The Memphis fans loved it of course.  Good game Memphis, way to hang in there.  If baseball was more interesting like this more often, I would probably be a bigger fan.

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