Thursday, April 19, 2012

Opening Day 2012 Wallpaper

I think I've been overworking my wallpaper designs. I really prefer ones that go to the edges, so it's like being at the ballpark.  Here's a few photos taken at opening day, Miller Park. My camera isn't great, but sometimes that works to my advantage - it gives it a more hazy feel that mimics how it looks in my memory.  And if you're like me, there's something mesmerizing about that velvety bright-green grass.... 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Second Opening Day

It was really bothering me that I couldn’t remember if this was my first opening day. I felt like I’d been to one before but wasn’t sure. When I got home and checked my pictures folder, sure enough there were photos from Opening Day 2009. Looking at them I realized why I couldn’t remember – it was a TOTALLY different experience this time around.  They bore no resemblance to each other at all.

Traffic into Milwaukee was surprisingly easy. There was no dramatic slamming-on-of-breaks at all; usually I witness at least one near-miss or rear-ending. I knew that due to construction there were lane closings near Miller Park, but somehow they didn’t affect the flow at all. (How is it possible that there is ALWAYS construction in this area every single year?) It was so easy that I expected trouble. Right on.

This year I left early as I always do. I like to get there for batting practice and am always eager to assure a parking spot in the lot. I’ve always wondered what I would do if I couldn’t get in the lot. This year I got to find out. After the quick trip up to Miller Park Lane, cars came to a crawl. The trip up, around, and in to the parking lot took at least an hour and a half.  This is unusual, even on a big-crowd day such as this. I went to all three NLDS games and got in quickly and easily, one of the first to park. This time I got up to the lot and encountered a surly cop and parking staff who were asking each of us if we had a parking pass. No one did. The attitude was that we should have known this, though at no point did we encounter signs or people telling us so at any of the previous four opportunities to exit. LAME. And so we were all directed to go straight instead of turn, which meant three lanes of cars merging to one lane. I said, “Where do I go?” He said, “State Fair parking lot.”

Fine, ok. I didn’t know how to get there, and we were getting up on 1:30pm. I was getting very antsy.  I followed the line of cars hoping they’d lead me to the lot I needed. However, at the first stop sign some went one way and some the other! So I picked a car and followed them. To the Potawatomie Bingo Casino ramp. Which we are allowed to use, except there is no shuttle to Miller Park.  Do I call a cab? How do I find one? How long would that take? While freaking out pacing in the parking garage (after parking) I see two fans in Brewer gear getting back into their car. I chase them down and ask where they’re going. To the State Fair lot. Can I follow them? Sure, they’ll wait for me. This stroke of luck and their kindness pretty much SAVED MY DAY. God knows where I would have ended up driving around trying to guess my way to the lot. We park, have a few beers, and wait for the shuttle. 
After a trip through a neighborhood seemingly hitting every side street possible between there and Miller Park, we arrive at the VW Hospital parking lot and trek across the short pedestrian walkway up to the backside of  Miller Park. WHEW. Finally there, but late. Not late to the average fan, but I like to be in my seat at first pitch which did not happen. Didn’t see first pitches, or any of the pomp and circumstance of opening day. Got to my seat, pleased with my location in section 232, only a few seats in.  I’m always intrigued by that feeling – like I’d just been there. Like Miller Park really is home in a way, how welcome and at ease I feel there. Welcome back baseball!

First inning was great. Of course we didn’t know it’d be the only scoring until too late in the game. It was a loss, more annoying of course because the season was bookended by two losses to the Cardinals.  Gallardo had a terrible start, one of his worst. Relief wasn’t much better, and the Cardinal’s scoring seemed ceaseless. All their balls fell for hits; all our hard hit balls were at’em. Ryan Braun went 0-5. I don’t know the odds of that but I’d guess it hasn’t happened before.  A thank you to George Kottarras for his 3 run homer, rewarding the fans who stuck it out to the end.
At the end of the game smoke could be seen rolling onto the field. Fans were greeted by the foul odor and ominous sight of a massive fire upon exiting the park. The fire at Miller metal recycling was visible thirty blocks away and made it look like a thick fog over the area. While looking up details today I also found out that Bob Uecker’s son passed away from Valley Fever at the young age of 52. On Opening Day of all days, poor Bob. My heart goes out to him and his family. This makes all I had written above seem like minor annoyances.

It adds up to a rather dismal start to the year. But you know what? I had a great time. I went to that game for ONE particular moment, which went exactly as I had pictured.  I needed to be there to give Ryan Braun his proper ‘welcome home’ to Miller Park. I had to be there with my sign, letting him know that whatever else he encounters this year, Miller Park will always be a safe haven. It was another great moment involving Braun that I will never forget, and the fans rose to the occasion, giving him a thunderous standing ovation.  (Another nice moment was when they gave Aoki a similar welcome)

It would’ve been nice to win, but luckily that is not what Opening Day is about. Opening Day is about new beginnings. And now I have to go, the Brewers/Cardinals game is about to start. And just like that, yesterday’s over.