Sunday, October 22, 2017

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

“Bring me some apples and crackerjack,” the young woman bellowed tunelessly, swaying in time to the organist and slopping her beer just a little bit. I’m not judging her for not knowing the lyrics to this standard American anthem, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” The funny part was that the words were rolling across the gigantic screen, karaoke style, right in her line of vision. Some simply sing the wrong words with abandon, carefree in their ignorance and unaffected by perfectionists nearby. Good for her.

We were in the bleacher seats, directly behind center field. From here, we could visit several concessions dedicated specifically to sausage sandwiches, hamburgers, fried chicken and of course, the ubiquitous hot dogs and French fries. No salad, tofu or sushi for these fans. Actually, you can probably find these if you really want to. Cracker Jack now comes in bags, making it just too easy to cheat and find the prize before you get to the bottom. Prizes have also experienced an economic hit as paper jokes and games replace earlier baseball cards, plastic rings and temporary tattoos. I never did like Cracker Jack, but the prize inside drove me crazy, as did cereal boxes, in my youth.

The only time I enjoy drinking a beer is at baseball games and heat-of-the-day summer barbecues. So, despite the very chilly temperatures of this particular game day, I enjoyed a cold one. For the price of this lovely, plastic cup of nostalgia, I could have bought a case of high-end brand bottles. Ah, no matter. This is a rare event.

Usually, I bypass the ever-popular ball park hot dog, steaming and rubbery in its slightly stale bun, for a hockey puck hamburger. I was surprised and delighted to find that the burger was very nicely cooked on a fresh roll with lettuce, tomato and onion. The price of a single burger is $9 but that is not the most painful part of the story. The shocking addition to the menu posted on the wall overhead is the calorie count for these comestibles. Argh! Who needs to know that a single rocket burger has 710 calories? A double comes in at a whopping 1020 calories – more than half what I should consume in a day. Sigh. Add that to the beer and glorious garlic fries we enjoyed as an appetizer and technically I should not eat again until sometime next June. Do we really need to know this? No. A baseball game is not the time or place to worry about healthy food. I imagine there is not one redeeming ingredient in the Cracker Jack, ice cream or cheeseburger spring rolls either.

The bleacher seats are special in that they are populated mostly by folks who have purchased some kind of season ticket. This way, you end up sitting with the same people throughout the season and a familial camaraderie develops. As we shivered together, sitting on metal planks, the group around us shared stories, snarky observations about the Red Sox and leaped to their feet in outraged unison when a ball over the left field wall only yielded a double.

While I really love going to a baseball game, I am not a purist and was not above retreating to the warm, enclosed Mohegan Sun sports bar during the 7th inning stretch. It was not so bad to watch the Yanks close out their winning game with a hot coffee in my hands and my toes thawing in my shoes. The bar has big screens covering all of the walls so you don’t miss a moment of action. What you might miss, however, is catching that long-shot hit to center field or having a little beer slopped on your jacket by an exuberant neighbor in the stands.

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