Monday, June 1, 2015
Opening Week in Kenosha
All photos of Kenosha Kingfish Home Opener available on Flickr.
For Valentine's Day, I got Megan an engagement ring, and she got me a baseball ticket package. Seems like a fair deal to me! The Madison Mallards will always be my Northwoods League "home team" because I have rooted for them the longest, but this year I am also pledging my allegiance to the Kenosha Kingfish in the form of a 7-game commitment. It's about a 50-minute drive to K-Hole compared to a half-hour to Mequon, the closest team to the Milwaukee metro area, but from my experience at Simmons Field last year, it was a no-brainer to go with the Kingfish for our ticket package. They are owned and operated by Big Top Baseball, the same group that runs the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, the Green Bay Bullfrogs, and my Mallards, and they do a great job providing a fun fan-centric experience at all of their ballparks with outstanding branding and promotions. This reason alone would be enough to choose Kenosha, but coupled with a gem of a historic stadium in Simmons Field, Megan and I are both excited for the season. That's not to say the Chinooks are a bad time at all, but watching 10+ years of Mallards baseball, the Big Top brand is now the standard for me in Northwoods League entertainment.
Our first game of the 7-pack was a blustery opening night this past Tuesday. Megan now works in a western suburb which makes it much easier to get down there during the week, and we were in line before the gates even opened. Like the Mallards, the Kingfish 7-pack holders are treated to a buffet included with ticket price, which contains standard ballpark fare like hot dogs, hamburgers, brats, etc. Unlike the Mallards, there is no place to sit when you get your food, which I didn't care for at all. There is a large private picnic area in left field that nobody was using that they could have at least partially opened up instead of me having to try to not get mustard blown on my shirt walking all the way back to our seats. The food was about the same if not slightly better than Madison. Another thing I enjoyed about the buffet was that the area is carpeted with a hodgepodge of old turf squares, which I could tell were clearly pulled up from some neighborhood high school football field because they didn't even bother painting over the yard markers. It made me shake my head at first, but in true Big Top Baseball style, it was an unapologetically creative way to reuse materials - Simmons Field also has repurposed Camden Yards seats and constructed some fixtures with old metal bleachers like you see in WI Rapids and Madison. New at the park this year are sections of picnic seating next to the dugouts and in front of the first row of seats on both sides, kind of how like Miller Park wedged in the ATI section on field level in right. The ballpark is now trimmed with full-service casual picnic and 4-top seating around almost the entire front of the grandstand from 1st base to 3rd base, which I have mixed feelings about. We were still plenty close with our 1st row seats don't get me wrong, but visually the picnic seating makes the grandstand seem further away, particularly the covered grandstand behind home plate. The fact that I'm complaining about picnic seats being too close to the field and that I had to walk 100 feet to eat my free food should tell you that there really isn't a lot not to like about watching a game here. Still, I am disappointed there are not souvenir beer cups like they have at Warner Park, because my Mallards set is getting a little dingy.
We left Tuesday's game in the 8th inning because it was getting late and cold, and it looks we made a good decision as St. Cloud added 7 runs in the top of the 9th to complete the 13-4 Opening Day schlacking. Difficult to tell in a game you lose by 9 runs and commit 5 errors who might be a standout player for the Kingfish this year. It might take me a couple games to identify the Tyler Marincov or Jordan Comadena of this team. RF Nick Sergakis had 3 RBI and sounds awfully similar to MLB right fielder Nick Markakis, so it would be hard for him not to be an early favorite. The noticeable star of the game for me was pitcher Austin Casperson of the visiting Rox. He dominated the Kingfish with four stellar relief innings, during which he surrendered only 1 hit and struck out 5.
Megan and I tried going to game #2 of our pack on Saturday, but it was postponed despite the fact that the rain had stopped. We had time to explore the city a little bit and raid the team store while we were down there, as it was our only Saturday night game of the pack, so it wasn't a total loss. We look forward to another 6 trips to K-hole this summer and another thrilling season of Northwoods League baseball.
STANDINGS AND UPCOMING SERIES AS OF 06.01:
Brewers 17-34, -16.5 (3 @ Cardinals, 3 @ Twins)
Reds 22-27, -10.5 (3 @ Phillies, 3 v. Padres)
Twins 30-19, +0.5 (4 @ Red Sox, 3 v. Brewers)
2015 GAMES ATTENDED:
Erik - 11 (+8 worked)
Peter - 15