No mater the level of competition, from Little League to Major League, the passion for the game of baseball remains the same for those players who truly love the game.
The other night I saw that passion displayed in an Atlantic League game between the Lancaster Barnstormers and the Sugar Land Skeeters at Constellation Field in Sugar Land, TX.
The Skeeters are in their second season of play and ever since it was announced that they were coming to town I have wanted to catch a game. Sadly, something always seemed to come up last year whenever I planned to head that direction so my goal of seeing a game during the inaugural season did not come to pass.
All of the elements finally aligned this past weekend to allow me to make my first trip to the Ballpark. And even some tricky Google map directions, and poor ballpark signage that sent me to the unlabeled parking lot A instead of the equally unlabeled parking lot B, couldn’t dampen the spirits of adding another Ballpark to my list of places that I have seen games.
The night featured many firsts for me as it was my first Atlantic League game which meant it was my first time seeing both the Barnstormers and Skeeters as well as my first trip to Constellation Field.
But of course every trip to the Ballpark, especially a first trip to the Ballpark involves a bit of a learning curve.
While I had a seat two rows from the field on the third base side I zigged when I should have zagged when it came to the food choices.
I ended up with a loaded hot dog which included chilli, cheese, onions, sauerkraut, and probably some other things that I missed under the cheese blanket. While the hot dog was good, and the Dr. Pepper was cold, it was not until I took another lap around the concourse that I saw the real food choices that the ballpark had to offer. There was a pizza booth which as I have mentioned before is one of my favorite ballpark staples. There were also booths selling barbecue, gourmet popcorn, Tex Mex, and Philly cheese steaks.
So, the lesson learned is no matter how hungry I am entering a Ballpark the trick is to walk the full concourse before selecting a food item.
The food remorse passed quickly and it was time to get immersed in the feel of the in game between inning entertainment which included dizzy bat, tricycle races and boxing.
The game itself was good as well as the home team remained undefeated at home for the season. Of course, the other professional baseball team in the Houston area cannot say the same thing but more on that later.
Despite the Ballpark I am in when I am watching a game, one constant always seems to find me. No matter where I sit it never fails that within earshot and visible range there will be at least one overly intoxicated fan who feels the need to make their presence known through, a) berating players or umpires or b) telling a story (or two, or three) that is way too loud to ignore and takes away from the ballpark experience. Another constant with these loud mouths is the presence of small children with them.
All of those factors came into play one section over from me with the extra loud drunk fan there with friends as well as small children providing a totally unnecessary running commentary.
The only break from his commentary was the two innings he spent in the concession line which of course he had to retell in great detail upon his return.
Now, before I get comments saying that I am trying to take away people’s right to drink at the ballpark let me say that is not the case.
Personally for me the hardest drink I need at the ballpark is an ice cold Dr. Pepper. But, for those who want something with alcohol in it I can totally support that desire and their right to do that.
What I refuse to support is the fan who downs a six pack or more during the pregame and then proceeds to get drunk and annoying during the course of the game. And this goes across all sports not just baseball. Every sporting event I have ever attended where I was not covering it from the press box has included at least one fan who is way too loud and way too drunk.
I am not sure how Ballparks and stadiums can address this but it is also one of the reasons that I rarely stay for an entire game. I like to have a two inning head start before the drunks hit the road.
So, drunk annoying fan aside there was a lot to enjoy at the Skeeters game. The food is reasonably priced. The sight lines from the seats are good. And the quality of play is top notch and allows fans to catch glimpses of former and future Major Leaguers in action at a fraction of big league prices.
And speaking of that other professional baseball team in Houston. As I was driving past Minute Maid Park on the way home I happened to turn on the radio to see how the Astros were doing.
I want to say I was surprised when I heard that they were losing by a score of 13-1 to the Detroit Tigers but in reality my only thought was how did they manage to score the one run.
The Astros ended up losing by a score of 17-2 when all was said and done. Conversely the Skeeters defeated the Barnstormers 5-4 in a game that saw the lead traded back and forth several times.
So, while it is a little further for me to drive to Sugar Land to see the Skeeters as opposed to driving to see the Astros, I believe that I will be spending more of my baseball viewing time with the Skeeters for the foreseeable future.
Of course when the Rays, Orioles and Rangers are in town I will probably make the trek to Minute Maid Park.
That is not to say that I won’t still catch the Astros on TV or that I am no longer a fan but if I am spending money on something I want to feel that the team is committed to winning. Quite frankly I do not get that impression these days from Houston management.
Now if you’ll excuse me I need to figure out what the next new Ballpark to visit will be. Perhaps I will see some of you there.
Copyright 2013 R. Anderson