Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Day 71: Miller Park

All photos of Miller Park available on Flickr.

Click here to view a news story that aired about our trip. The story/video will be in the archives until September 2009.

Well, this is it. Our amazing and unforgettable journey ended today at the place we call home, Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Today was no doubt a bittersweet day for the both of us. We were both glad to be back home and not have to worry about where we were driving or sleeping today, and it was a special treat for me to not be waking up next to Erik for the first time in 10 weeks. But at the same time, if we both had the money and the time, we would totally just do this every summer. We have already discussed at least a dozen small baseball-related vacations we want to take in the coming years, just to gather more material for the book we for sure have to write someday. I'd personally like to wait about 10 years after we have forgotten most of the details and can embellish facts in a "based on a true story" novel of some sorts. For now, we'll always have this blog and our 5000 photos as a way of keeping these memories alive in our minds and hearts forever.

Another token we'll have to remember this trip forever is the news story that was aired about our trip by the local FOX affiliate here in Milwaukee. My mom was kind enough to get in touch with somebody at the station and Erik and I were met by a news team at our "Welcome Home" pre-game tailgate today. We spent the better part of an hour talking about the tour, answering questions, and mingling amongst our friends while wearing microphones. The entire process was editted into a nice 5-minute story that aired at 5 and 10 PM that night, and once again at noon the next day. The whole tailgate, as with most days at Miller Park, was the best part of the whole day, and the reporters there and about 20 of our friends made it even more special. The stadium is nice and the Brewers are a fun team to watch, but no Brew Crew game is complete without a tailgate. Sometimes fans will just tailgate, listen to the game on the radio, and then drink afterwards, and never even go inside. It is just what we do in Wisconsin; it combines our state's two passions of beer and eating. Besides my family and the familiarity of home, the thing I miss most when I am away from Milwaukee is tailgating at Brewers games, because it is a sports spectacle unmatched anywhere else, kind of like how most college campuses have unique football gameday traditions.

So I will try to be objective and jump outside of myself for a moment to describe Miller Park, but it is hard to not talk fondly of a place I spend about a month a year at. I guess the main beef that we have with the park is the viewing angles. Because the architects tried to bring the seating levels closer to the field and reduce the incline of the bowls, it compromises views and there are very few seats at the park where you have an unobstructed panorama of the entire field. There could also be a few more bleachers that are actually close to the field of play, but a lot of parks have this problem. But besides these things and occasional roof leaking problems, the stadium is a gem. It has the most unique retractable roof, which opens like a fan instead of a door. It has the best batter's eye and one of the best team shops. But most importantly, it has the best beer and food in all of baseball, including a TGIFriday's in left field that is open year round.

The game itself was a pretty good showing for the Crew, who are in the midst of the most exciting race in the major, the NL Central race. They beat the Pirates 7-4 behind Jeff Suppan, who earned his first win since June 22nd. This happens to be the last game we saw at Miller Park before leaving on the tour 10 weeks ago. Rookie of the Year frontrunner Ryan Braun and MVP candidate Prince Fielder both homered for the Brewers, and Kevin Mench and Bill Hall also contributed RBIs. The bullpen was lights out for once, and the combination of Shouse-Linebrink-Turnbow-Cordero tossed 4 scoreless innings, with Coco getting his 39th save of the season.

Please continue to read this blog this week for final reflections, tallies, and/or rankings! Be sure to check in periodically for big Brewer/baseball news, Habitat for Humanity information, and any blog entries of Erik and my future baseball trips. Thanks to everyone who has been reading along on our journey of a lifetime, and particularly anyone who has given us a place to stay, donated money to us and/or Habitat, or helped us along our trip in any way whatsover; it is greatly appreciated. Lastly, please note the email address on the sidebar of this blog to which you can direct any future questions or comments about this blog.

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 8
views from park - 4 (okay when side panels are open)
view to field - 4 (many obstructed seats)
surrounding area - 2 (VA Asylum, brownfields)
food variety - 8
nachos - 9 (bowl o' 'chos!)
beer - 8 (good price, they have Miller and Pabst)
vendor price - 7
ticket price - 10 (ours were free...thanks Dad)
atmosphere - 9 (huge crowd, we were in a big group)
walk to park - 6 (fun to walk past all the tailgaters, but it can be a long hike)
parking price/proximity - 8 ($7 general parking, Erik and I have a secret free spot when we don't tailgate)
concourses - 7
team shop - 8

best food - any sausage (chorizo is new this year)
most unique stadium feature - the retractable roof, Bernie's slide
best jumbotron feature - Cingluar text in lights
best between-inning feature - Klements Sausage Race

field dimensions - 345/400/345
starters - Tom Gorzelanny (PIT) v. Jeff Suppan (MIL)
opponent - Pittsburgh Pirates
time of game - 2:58
attendance - 39340
score - 7-4 W
Brewers score that day - 7-4 W

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