Wow, baseball games sure are long.
Wow, baseball games sure are long. (Photo: Andy Tarnoff)

Take me out to the ballgame, but...

I don't know how you baseball fans do it.

Now, for the purpose of full disclosure, I must admit that I'm not an avid sports fan. That usually shocks people who don't know me, given my day job -- I cover the Green Bay Packers for the Wisconsin State Journal -- but when it comes to my entertainment choices in my free time, I'm more likely to opt for a live Broadway show or a concert than attending a sporting event, and I'm more likely to go with a "Law & Order" rerun on TNT than the NBA playoffs.

But that wasn't my problem at the Milwaukee Brewers-Los Angeles Dodgers game Wednesday night. While the company was great (buddy and OnMilwaukee.com Senior Editor Drew Olson, and our mutual friend Jamie Glinberg) and so were the seats (behind home plate, nine rows up), I was in the worst possible spot for me -- smack in the middle of the row, making it difficult to get up and leave without doing the old Bugs Bunny "Excuse me, pardon me, pardon me, excuse me" routine.

See, I just don't have the attention span for baseball. I've tried. I bought a Brewers 10-pack last year, and was able to attend seven of the games before Packers training camp kicked off. And because I had seat 1 in my row on the club loge level, I probably saw a total of 14 full innings. From concession stand trips to press-box pop-ins to checking e-mail on my PDA, the Crew was no match for my sports-related ADD.

But Wednesday night, sitting with a guy who covered roughly 175 baseball games per year (including spring training and national postseason games) for his 12 years on the Brewers beat -- coupled with my mid-row seat -- essentially eliminated my wanderlust.

Instead, I was forced to entertain myself by asking such important questions as, "Why is Chin-lung Hu a shortstop? Shouldn't he be playing first?" And, by watching the famous sausage race. (Having run in it myself as the hot dog two summers ago, I always cheer for him, as a matter of loyalty to my alter ego.)

I will admit, I learned a lot sitting with Drew. He sees a different game than I do, just like the time I watched "Monday Night Football" in then-Packers safety Darren Sharper's living room a few years back. (It's like Matt Damon's line in "Good Will Hunting" when he's trying to explain why academics come so naturally to him: " I look at a piano, I see a bunch of keys, three pedals and a box of wood. But Beethoven, Mozart, they saw it, they could just play." It's the same with Drew with baseball or Sharper with football.)

So Drew was nice enough to explain to me why it makes sense to manager Ned Yost to hit the pitcher eighth when Jason Kendall catches (theoretically, it gives the Brewers a better chance of having more base runners for run-producers Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder). And he pointed out how stat-driven the game is when the left-field wall scoreboard flashed that third baseman Bill Hall was hitting .316 with 14 HRs and 55 RBI after facing 2-0 counts. (Where do they come up with this stuff?) After that stat appeared, Hall promptly struck out for the third time.

Drew probably could've taught me more, but the beer-swilling Young Twentysomething Dude behind me, who used the f-word like the rest of us use "um," wouldn't stop blathering. (My favorite moment came when Yost lifted Manny Parra during the seventh inning, with a 4-3 lead, and Young Twentysomething Dude shared his thoughts: "About f-ing time. You should've f-ing taken him the f out and the f-ing beginning of the f-ing inning, f-head." Stay classy, Milwaukee.)

Of course, this is only marginally worse than the Mr. Know-It-All fans I've sat near in the past, like the guy at the Marquette-Georgetown game this spring, who spouted his (incorrect) basketball knowledge non-stop that I nicknamed him Mr. Naismith.

Anyway, while I would've preferred to have been out of my seat for much of Young Twentysomething Dude's intellectual musings, I was stuck. And while I certainly didn't enjoy watching Guillermo Mota giving up three ninth-inning runs to turn a 4-3 lead into a 6-4 Brewers loss, I did find one bright side: No extra innings.

Now, don't fill up the OnMilwaukee.com Talkback section with comments about what an idiot I am. (That'd hardly qualify as breaking news.) And Drew tells me attending an NFL game in a non-working capacity (which I haven't done since childhood) has some of the same dull, don't-know-what-to-do-with-yourself moments during huddles and timeouts and replay reviews. But since I'm working at those times, I don't realize it. So the truth is, I don't begrudge you baseball fans. I wish I was more like you.

Now back to Lennie Briscoe and Jack McCoy. 

Talkbacks

Wow | May 15, 2008 at 11:33 a.m. (report)

No, Jason, I'm not going to tell you what a schmuck you are. In fact, I think it's amazing that a sports writer finally admits that you don't have to be a total sports geek to do the job well.

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diesel1976 | May 15, 2008 at 11:05 a.m. (report)

Baseball is a really slow & boring game. The only way i can tolerate going to a game is if i have my ipod with me so I wont fall asleep. I think people like it because you dont have to be especially athletic to play. I mean half the guys are overweight and can barely run around three bases without looking like they are about to have a heart attack. The only thing that makes the game interesting is people watching not the actual game itself. I will just stick to basketball and football unless im dragged to a nother game at miller park.

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Fan | May 15, 2008 at 10:51 a.m. (report)

Great stuff. Your NFL point is spot on. Attending an NFL game is painful (unless you make a drunk day out or it or are in a box). The NFL moves slower than baseball. They play for 5-15 seconds then huddle and repeat. Painful live, much better on TV.

But this is from an NBA season ticket holder. Best sport, easily, to see live is basketball (soccer a close second) -- non stop action, true athletes and big tradition.

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