A year ago my father and I decided to go on a baseball pilgrimage. It was our intention to make it to as many ballparks as we could in a year. Over a year later we have one new ballpark to cross off our list. No, we have not made it to watch his favorite childhood team, the Reds. Nor have we made the trek to watch our arch nemesis play at their home stadium,Yankee Stadium.
But we can now proudly say we watched the Beach Bums play like bums in Traverse City. I would suggest this to anyone who makes his or her way to Traverse in the future. It is a truly unique experience. Is it good baseball? Not quite…
Approaching the stadium it looks more like a newly built condo village. You know, the “if you lived here, you’d be home” sort of place. The only way you know you have come to the right place is the lights with thousands of Michigan bugs illuminating.
Walking into the stadium we purchased the best tickets (right behind home plate for $10). The nice young man informed us it was buy one, get one for free night.
Picture Red’s nightmare baseball franchise. And you got it.
In between innings they had all sorts of competitions. Two kids dressed as tacos racing around the bases to determine what section would get free chips and salsa. The frozen t-shirt contest, where kids had to see how fast they could put on a frozen t-shirt.
As soon as Scott Lawson (the best Wild Things hitter) came to bat, a huge picture of a pig appeared on the jumbotron. Scott Lawson is our piggy hitter of the evening! If he gets out, everyone gets a dollar off pork sandwiches! And each time that old pig got ready to hit the sound of snorting echoed through the loudspeakers.
The other threatening Wild Thing hitter, had to hit with the distraction of BUBBLES coming over the speakers, and a huge projected image of Spongebob.
The Beach Bums were truly playing like bums. If any bum gets on base, it’s a dollar off beer for the rest of the inning. Who can resist such an offer?
Where are the insanity and discounts at my home ballpark? The game was wonderfully chaotic, and the baseball was…well…discounted. My cousin’s son had told me his lifelong dream is to go to Fenway. But at Fenway we drink nine-dollar beers, and can’t insult players over the loudspeakers.
My father and I celebrated our return home to Boston by going to the Monday night game. The two-hour rain delay couldn’t make us go home. Even with no discounted pork sandwiches and beers. Extra innings couldn’t make us leave either.
The tenth inning came, and all around the park some fans shouted MARCO, and distant fans replied with POLO. It wasn’t snorting or Bubbles, but it wasn’t bad.
The fourteenth inning came, and we all stretched again. We all sang take me out to the ballgame again. The entire crowd had found itself into the seats we dream of. The Sox played like Bums. But I remembered why I love Fenway. And why we might just have the best fans in the world, even without discounts, even with games that start over two hours late.