Sunday, April 12, 2015

Brewers Opening Week 2015

All photos of 2015 Brewers Home Opener available on Flickr.

The Milwaukee Brewers kicked off their 46th season on Monday, and once again my family, fiancee, and I were in attendance (oh yeah, by the way, I got engaged in the offseason). It seems like every year it is either around the freezing mark or 30 degrees above normal, but this year was actually about an average April day. Sunny and 40s made for a great day of tailgating with 46,000 friends. I always look forward to Opening Day, among other reasons, as the real start to spring in Milwaukee. Who wouldn't be anxious to get outside and party after 4+ months of cold weather? Much like spring, Opening Day signifies new beginnings and a fresh slate, and it's easy to be teeming with anticipation on the first day of the season. It is the one day a year I play hookie from work and set an alarm to start drinking, and despite the Brewers seemingly dismal chances this year, that is reason enough to be excited.

We wrapped up our Opening Day tailgate a little early this year because of one of the big changes at Miller Park this year – new security measures. Now implemented league-wide (with the exception of Wrigley Field because it's a shithole), all ballparks are now required to have metal detector screening at the entrances. I've been to three games already this year and for the most part it seems to be just a big production to give fans a false sense of security. You're only required to remove your keys, carry-in items, and phones, no other metal. Megan went through the metal detector and set it off, and the lady asked “do you have anything metal on you?” and she replied no, and that was good enough for her to go through. Yesterday I snuck in beer in my back pockets just like I have for the last 10 years (if any Brewers staff is reading this, that's a joke). In my opinion it's more a scare tactic than a real safety concern, and unfortunately just an annoying way to add 5 minutes to my wait to get into the ballpark. Once inside, we split up – my parents, brother, and sister-in-law took our regular 20-pack seats, and Megan, myself, and her friend went to the standing room area in right-center like we did last year. I really love nice standing room areas at ballparks and I'm glad the Brewers removed the private area that used to be there. A note on our 20-pack seats – this year we moved up to the 300-level club seats, which was surprisingly cheaper than the loge level. We sat there for Friday's game and this was the first time I had ever been up there, it's really cool. You're not that much further from the game action, and you get aisle service from wait staff. The aisles are much wider and the seats are more comfortable, and the sections are only about 8 rows deep so it feels much more private. There is also a huge bar up there open the entire game called the Skyy Lounge, which let's be honest was the main reason we decided to move up to the club level.

The other noticeable changes at Miller Park this year are even more food options, and the retiring of Bud Selig's “number.” As the original owner and person responsible for bringing the Brewers to Milwaukee from Seattle, the Brewers have decided to honor the number 1 and retire it. Personally I think they should be retiring “70” since that is the year the team started, but whatever. The formal ceremony for this is not until the end of May, but the number already hangs from the rafters next to the likes of Hank Aaron, Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, Rollie Fingers, and of course Jackie Robinson. As for the food options, a couple of popular Milwaukee institutions – Smoke Shack and Holey Moley Doughnuts – now have stands on the main level. I ate a sandwich on Wednesday that combined the two called the “Ham Dinger.” It is smoked ham on a freshly baked glazed yeast doughnut, and I ate it quickly so that I did not have the time to process how many delicious calories I was ingesting. Speaking of calories, the Brewers have also added Nachos on a Stick, an 18” long bratwurst with the works, and nachos topped with bratwurst (Bratchos) to their repertoire. The Brewers' marketing department continues to evolve and outdo themselves in the wake of some very lackluster concessions in the first 10 years of the stadium.

I suppose I have to talk about the team now, even though I don't really want to. Words cannot even begin to describe how awful they look. People talk about how the 2011 team started 0-3 and went on to win the division, but I think those in the industry generally expected that team to right the ship and do well. The 2015 iteration is a sad compilation of aging free agents, mid-level prospects that have not yet reached their potential, and utility roster-fillers who only play defense. The pitching staff has given up 26 runs in 4 games and 20 doubles, which is the most given up in the first 4 games of a season since 1914. The offense that was churning out 9 runs a game in the spring has come to a sputtering halt and looks pathetic. Jonathan Lucroy doesn't have a hit yet and Scooter Gennett has already gotten himself ejected from a game for outwardly showing his frustration over sucking. Carlos Gomez looks out of shape and there is a pretty reasonable fear that Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Braun, and/or Adam Lind could just break down and go on the DL at any point in the season. If you can't tell from what I'm saying, yes the Brewers are still winless. But the season is young, and even though I don't expect the team to do well, there are some bright spots. Braun and Jean Segura seem to be back to their early 2013 forms and are hitting a lot of line drives. Lind is a complete, professional hitter and I'm really excited to finally have a real first baseman on the team; I always liked him when he was on the Blue Jays. Khris Davis showed substantially more plate discipline in the spring, and if that translates into the regular season, he will eventually evolve into an effective cleanup hitter next year when Aramis is gone. I think Wily Peralta is going to have a big year and is legitimately about one season away from being a real Cy Young candidate. I'm also always excited to see Mike Fiers pitch because he has a chance to completely dominate a lineup and strike out 10 every time out. Even though I think this team needs to sell of some of these expiring contracts this year and rebuild, I am still excited for baseball to be back. I've purchased tickets to a lot of games already, so I at least have to feign optimism - after all, that is what Spring is all about in Milwaukee.

Brewers 0-4 (3 @ Cardinals, 3 @ Pirates)
Reds 4-0 (3 @ Cubs, 3 @ Cardinals)
Twins 1-3 (3 v. Royals, 3 v. Indians)

Erik - 0

Peter - 3

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice job on your opening day blog. I especially like your description of Wriggly Field and the real reason you "upgraded" to 300 level.... Skyy Lounge.
Been reading your blog weekly since day 1.
Your #1 fan