Guide to Winning Summer: Go to a Brewers game
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Look, it's no secret that the Brewers aren't doing well this year. Fresh off the worst month in franchise history, the Crew has given us terrible pitching, a starting lineup featuring Yuni B and Alex Gonzalez and little hope for a resurgence any time in the near future. The best you can say about this team is that the bullpen has been surprisingly mediocre of late.
But bad baseball is better than no baseball. Come January, we'll be wishing we could watch Rickie Weeks strike out three times a game. So enjoy it while you've got it. You'll also enjoy seeing:
- former MVP Ryan Braun playing in his prime;
- an astonishing season from shortstop Jean Segura, who leads the league in batting average;
- Japanese sensation Nori Aoki; and
- Carlos Gomez--who has made the transformation from a light-hitting defensive center fielder to a legitimate five-tool star.
Throughout this series, we'll take a look at how to maximize your experience for optimal fun. But knowing that most of us are on a tight budget, we'll also show you the cheapest way to get the experience as well.
Living it Up
Of course the quintessential Miller Park experience involves a tailgate party. Your best bet is to arrive as soon as the parking lot opens and fire up the grill and rock some burgers and sausages. Don't bring cold cuts. If your tailgate party doesn't involve a grill it is not a tailgate party.
Quick side note: I once saw a tailgate party where the attendees were eating salad. If you are the type that eats salad at a tailgate party, please cease reading this blog.
Ok, back to business. I recently invested in a chimney-style charcoal starter. Mine is bigger than the one I linked to but you get the idea. I highly recommend it. The coals ignite more quickly and evenly. Moreover, it will pay for itself in just a few bottles of lighter fluid.
Now, eating animals is obviously the integral part of any tailgate experience. But you'll also want some entertainment. Bring an excellent selection of music, a football and--if you've got it--the beanbag toss game.
As for the game itself, you'll have to decide what you want to budget for tickets. There are only a few bad seats in the house, but the good seats are really pretty special.
If tailgating simply isn't in the cards for you, you can still maximize your ballpark experience. Again, you'll want to get to the ballpark early so you can catch batting practice. Get seats in the left field bleachers and wait for the baseballs to rain down on you. I really recommend this approach for Sunday afternoon games. An added bonus is that many Sundays this summer offer the free Bobblehead giveaway.
As far as eating goes, I am a big fan of "eating for the cycle." This means eating all of the five sausages sold by the Miller Park concession stand (Brat, Polish sausage, Italian sausage, chorizo and hot dog).
I did this with my buddy a few years ago. He actually threw down three brats in the parking lot before-hand too. He had never heard of eating for the cycle before, but when I described it, he knew we needed to go for it. The best part is that he was there with a girl he was newly dating and consciously decided that eating all that meat was well worth whatever negative impression it might have made on his girlfriend.
Because they are spicier and/or greasier, you'll want to lead off with the Italian, Chorizo and Polish and finish up with the brat and hot dog. Trust me, after you've thrown down four sausages, the hot dog will be least offensive to your beleaguered intestines.
|My son has the same outfit as the Polish Sausage.|
For the Budget Conscious
You don't have to spend much at all to go to a Brewer game. I've probably been to about 20 the last three years, and I've only paid face value once or twice. In addition to looking for free ticket opportunities, make sure you go to Stubhub. If you don't mind going Monday-Thursday, you'll likely be able to snag some cheap seats for less than $8/each.
You can often get great deals for Wednesday or Thursday afternoon games because season ticket holders have to be at work. It's a great way to take the kids without keeping them up too late.
One of the great parts about taking in a Brewer game is that Miller Park allows carry-ins. Since we can't afford to eat for the cycle as a family, we'll make sandwiches and bring soda, chips and candy. Just make sure your containers of liquids are unopened.
|My son doing the Clay Matthews "Predator" celebration with some friends he made in the parking lot|
The great thing about baseball games is there are 162 of them. So if your team loses, it doesn't feel like a wasted day like it might if you go to a Packer game. And if you're really feeling down, just drown your sorrows in some mustard.