Friday, August 7, 2009

Buck Night at the K

The highlight of Major Havoc’s second trip to a professional baseball game Wednesday night was eating 4 ½ hot dogs courtesy of “Buck Night at the K,” the one promotion where fans do not finance through their food purchases the multi-million dollar payroll of the worst team in the American League. All sodas, hot dogs, and peanuts were a buck apiece. Keeping score of his ballpark frank consumption was far more entertaining than keeping score of the game. The Mariners so thoroughly shellacked the Royals that the highlight that drew the most cheers throughout the entire evening was the cat that ran out onto the field and stopped the fifth inning for two minutes while the ground crew and a few police officers chased the scared feline around right field until they corralled it in the bullpen. That replay received more cheers than anything the team did.

I realized Wednesday night that I may be the worst father to go to a ballgame with because I love to pay attention to the game. I also score the game. Precisely. I like to know what each batter did in each of his previous at bats when he strolls to the plate. This means that there are a couple of things that seriously challenge that entire concept of unconditional spousal or parental love: arriving at the ballpark after the starting line-ups are announced and male children who have to go potty but don’t mention their need until the first batter of the inning is announced and the need has become a national emergency. It is then that I have to turn over the scoring duties to the Boss. Returning to the score card a few minutes later is a waking nightmare. Those tiny boxes with the little diamonds in the center are filled with tinier pictures of little men running, or literary narratives such as, “The guy in the white uniform hit the ball and somebody threw him out at first. I think. I don’t know what happened to the next guy.”

“But the Mariners scored five runs while I was gone. What happened?”

“They did? Beats me. I really wasn't paying attention.”

The Human Wiener truly enjoyed his night at the ballpark but he enjoyed seat hopping even more, sitting next to the Boss’ co-workers and chatting about everything, whether or not they were listening. We were part of a large group of employees from Fort Leavenworth. The Boss was seat hopping, too, chatting with friends during the game and watching the animated races on the Jumbotron during the inning changes. We waved across the stadium to each other in the seventh inning. It was actually the perfect arrangement. She was happy to visit with friends and I was happy to watch the game and the boy was happy to pack away hot dogs at an astonishing rate. General Mayhem sat next to me for the final three innings, whooping for the home team in an ear piercing pitch that had a few beagles howling the next county over. If he can screech just a little higher he might leave the range of human hearing and make it possible to sit next to him without needing hearing protection.

When a franchise stinks as badly as the Royals do, it is not surprising that the team hires young, good looking men and women to don team jerseys and walk through the stands, attempting to wake the slumbering crowd and get them cheering. They might as well try. The players on the field can't get anyone to cheer. The fans responded accordingly for about five seconds, and then settled down to watch the Royals strand yet another runner on base. 12 runners were left on base by the end of the game. Twice an inning ended on a weak grounder with bases loaded. Since it was also “80’s Night,” these same employees were dressed “retro,” with really bad hair-dos and those hideous powder blue jerseys that the Royals wore for many years. Powder blue baseball uniforms did not look good in ’85 and twenty-four years has done nothing to improve their appearance. They weren’t quite as bad as the manly shorts that the White Sox briefly wore during the seventies, but that was back when Bill Veeck owned the team, so shorts were nothing compared to the center field shower and disco demolition night that left a hole burned in the center field turf of Comiskey Park.

I did get to see something at the game that I’ve never seen before, besides the pure joy of a six-year-old’s unabated gluttony. The Mariners pulled off a perfect squeeze play. Their batter bunted the ball just past the pitcher’s mound but not hard enough to reach the second baseman. The bases were loaded and their third base runner scored with ease. It’s a gutsy play to call. It’s an impressive play to watch.

I am certain that we will do this again next year. It was fun. The boys enjoyed themselves (the captain was at home with a sitter). And a trip to the ballpark did not break our bank. That’s a good combination.


michelle said...

Sounds like a great game and alot of fun. I have to agree with the Boss that baseball is not my favorite game. Its like watching grass grow. Going to a game is more exciting, but I still never know what's going on. Give me a good hockey or football game and I'm good to go. I must admit however, that I am a die hard Bills fan. Yes, I know we stink, really stink, and apparently are really really good at stinking since we haven't had a winnning season in years-probably since our four time superbowl losing years. Have a great day!

jedijson said...

My family and I went to see the Royals play every other year when I was growing up. Family trips were either to Kansas City or Dallas, and we ALWAYS took in a game. Of course, back then George Brett was playing, so my mom was always keen to go to the games. My sister was a fan of Odebe McDowell 'cause she liked his name. What always stank was that we NEVER got to see the Royals play the Yankees. It was ALWAYS the Royals vs the Rangers. But we did enjoy going. It was always one of the highlights of the trip.

Well, that and Worlds of Fun. I remember the early mascots that were there BEFORE Grrrtrude, Sam, and Dan'l--can't remember their names, but there were these Keystone Kops looking guys, a mayor that had a ride named after him that went up and down while going around and around--and then would change directions to go BACKWARDS with strobe lights (I was roughly 6 at the time, and this scared the snot out of me!). I remember the Ski His, the Safari car ride thing that my YOUNGER sister ALWAYS got to drive, the opening of Zambezi Zinger, the Screamroller BEFORE it was changed into the Extremeroller, Barnstormer, and the Schussboomer (although I thought it was called the Mighty Mouse at one time). I remember the marianette show with the gorilla that broke out--that also scared the snot out of me.

Thanks, Arby. Thanks for bringing back all those old memories.

I'm glad you had a great time, and I wish I was there!

CrossView said...

"I really wasn't paying attention.” Uh, that's me at baseball games. But I love to people watch!

Kathleen said...

I have to say that I'm with Major Havoc and the rest of the dogs and cats are much more fascinating. (No offense to the baseball fan/scorer.)

TobyBo said...

Mr Music would so enjoy Buck Night. He put away 9 bucks worth of food the other night, and that was before the second half of the second inning. And at that point, Mom called time out on him and thus ended his eating streak.

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