Monday, June 30, 2008

Rhythm & Booms Weekend in Madison

All photos of Warner Park available on Flickr.

After a rough 3-day work week following our trip to Washington, I took off from work a tad early on Friday to pick up Erik, and we made our way west to Madison for our first Mallards game of the season. It was also the annual Rhythm & Booms Festival at Warner Park - and corresponding pre-fireworks party at our friend Shane's house - so Erik and I were in for a long weekend of ball, flipcup, and watching shit get blown up.

Ever since I became aware of the awesomeness that is the Northwoods League in 2006 when I lived in Madison, it has been Erik and my favorite baseball league. It is a college summer wooden bat league for players that have not yet signed a professional contract and still have at least one year yet of college eligibility. This league and others like it are intended to be a way for kids to get exposure to wood bats, and basically just an excuse for them to play ball all summer to further sharpen their skills. I know I've already said how much I love the Mallards on this blog, but I will go ahead and put money on the table right now - anyone who attends a Madison Mallards game, I guarantee you it will be the most fun you ever have at a baseball game. Not just in terms of game action, but atmosphere, food, prices, between-inning entertainment, the hilarious PA guy, and of course the game and inning-by-inning promotions, all rolled together make this my favorite place to watch a ballgame in the whole world. And it will only get better when Warner Park gets renovated in 2010.

Erik and I arrived at the park around 5:30, and some broad near the gate promptly offered up Duck Blind seats for 2/3 face value, and we jumped at the opportunity. Many parks have all you can eat areas these days, but few include all-you-can-drink as the Mallards do. So Erik and I both got a ticket and as much beer and fried Wisconsin food as we could handle for $20 a piece. We also both got our picture with a mascot - Erik with Millie, and me with Quenchy the Quench Gum mascot, a sponsor of the Mallards. Additionally, we both acquired C.J. Thieleke pint glasses for Pint Glass Night, bought really sweet jerseys for $45 each, and both got autographs from Potsie of the show "Happy Days," as it was Happy Days Night at the ballpark, which also included a Fonzie "aaaaaayyy" contest. The amount of fun and alcohol we had for that price should not have been legal, particularly for how close we sat. We watched members of the opposing Brainerd Blue Thunder warm up, play pepper, and run sprints for about an hour before the game, and we were so close we could here everything the players were saying. The game ended up being a victory for the Mallards, but part of what makes a Mallards game so special is that the end result is secondary. I can't wait to go back in a couple weeks for the Northwoods League All-Star Game, which is held in Madison this year.

The next day was Rhythm & Booms, and for anyone who hasn't seen this in person, you must. It always is preceded by a twilight-start Mallards game, but Erik and I were too wrecked from Shane's party to attend that game. We instead stumbled the three blocks to Warner Park from the party and got a good spot on the lawn for the best fireworks show I've ever seen - we were so close, and they shot off so many fireworks, that pieces of shell were falling on us towards the end, which Erik and I both of course kept as souvenirs from the outstanding weekend. This weekend is definitely going on Erik and my calendar every year we're able, and a special thanks to Shane and Miranda for letting us stay at their house and play Wii all weekend.

Brewers 44-37, -4.5 (4 @ Diamondbacks, 3 v. Pirates)
Reds 38-45, -11.5 (3 v. Pirates, 4 v. Nationals)
Twins 45-37, -1.5 (3 v. Tigers, 3 v. Indians)

Erik - 18
Peter - 27

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