Sent to the Minors
5/22/2006 10:08 AM
Byline: Mike Cunningham
To whet my appetite for the weekend of Interleague play with the Red Sox visiting the Phillies, I spent my Friday night at the ballpark across the river.
Even though, I had 2 games already "scheduled" for the weekend, I was offered a 3rd Phillies game on Friday night. Which I had to turn down so that I could take advantage of the Camden Waterfront Attraction Blogging Days (May 19-May21). Bloggers were invited to visit three of the four big attractions on the Waterfront in Camden, (The Riversharks, USS New Jersey and the Adventure Aquarium). Unfortunatley, because of the Red Sox weekened, I couldn't squeeze in the time to get to the other two attractions.
In the meantime, I focused my attention on the ONE event I could speak with great expertise. Baseball.
The level of play for the Independent League has been compared to AA baseball. Many players in the league have had Major League experience. I'm not exactly sure if it's closer to AA baseball than it is Single A. But we'll save those semantics for another time. This time we'll focus on the ballpark experience. I got to the game a little late, after picking up a friend who flew in from Miami for the weekend. I picked up my tickets from Will Call and was greeted by friendly ticket takers as a I approached the gate, and then another friendly set of greeters who handed me a program.
The game started at 7:05 and this was about 7:30, and we were hungry, so we hit the food service lines. There was a couple of options along the First base side. The Pizza line and Beer-only lines were small and moved fast. But the Grill section which had 4 working registers was pure chaos and moved extremely slow. It reminded me of the wait time at the Old Vet.
I'm not sure why the wait was so long. I could see alot of people in the behind the counter hustling around. Perhaps the customers were confused with the choices of Cheesesteaks, Burgers, Chicken Tender baskets. Its nice that you can get all the options at one shot, but I wonder if splitting up the lines by food item, might save some time? Each cashier was required to take the order, take the money, get the drinks, and get the food. This is quite a long process, and it doesn't help much when my buddy who decided to freeze when we get up to the counter and had to ask what the size of each cup of soda. Never understood that. Get the large. If you don't drink it all big deal. What did that save you a buck? [After spending $3 on parking, I spent $19 for 2 Chicken Tender Baskets and 2 Large Pepsis].
|Parking: $3||Parking: $10 (zero, my friend Georgia paid)||Parking: $10|
|Food: $19||Food: $4.75 (bought a Coke). Tailgating costs were much more!||Food: $ 26 bucks (Sausage, 2 sods, Peanuts and Cracker Jack)|
I knew the wait was long, and the little girl behind us was just as frustrated with the line. And the fact that my buddy was now hitting on the friendly cashier, whose tank top revealed an assortment of tattoos. The young girl lamented, "I've been waiting for a half hour!" True enough, the clock on the wall was 8pm.
We made our way to our seats. In this 6500 seat stadium, there isn't a bad seat in the house. Our seats had a great view of the Bridge and a Setting sun. A little further down the right field line, we would have been treated to a view of the skyline. But I didn't mind my view.
We were only in the third inning and we hadn't missed much game, however the bad guys (The Lancaster Barnstormers) were already up 5-1. The scoreboard was not very large and not at a convenient angle from my seats. I have to say I'm a bit biased as the Citizens Bank Park scoreboard blows this one away. The scoreboard was not in focus for me, from our seats, so I'm not sure if it was used to pump up rallies or to do much more than show Auto Insurances ads.
One thing you definitely notice at the park, is the large amount of kids in the ballpark. Unfortunately, it seems that few if any are interested in ANY of the actual BASEBALL on the field. AND are more concerned with getting Chicken Fingers, heading to the Rock Climb, Running to the Carousel or SCREAMING at the top of their lungs for the various pieces of apparel that are thrown into the crowd.
The hardest working man at the park is Public Address Announcer Kevin Casey. I've known Kevin for a couple of years sitting next to each other at La Salle Football games at McCarthy Stadium. He does a bang up job getting the crowd focused during the mid-inning promotions. Even adding his own brand of humor as he sends jabs to folks who didn't pay attention to instructions or who were getting badly beat at the Shopping Cart race or Potato Sack Race.
Little emphasis seems to be given to the on-field action. And while music was played to get the crowd to cheer, while the Riversharks were getting folks on base. It didn't seem to faze the folks who were waiting for foul balls to ricochet off the roof or who were wondering if it was a good time to spend 30 minutes in line. Or perhaps go to the marketing stands in the main throughfare. When we walked in, my buddy asked, "What is this a job fair?" I'm wasn't sure either, but you could adopt a greyhound while you were there.
Normally, I don't ever leave Phillies games early. Or any baseball game for that matter. But I had my fill of the ballpark experience. The hometown team weren't winning. Although, really that didn't matter all that much to me. I think that might have affected my feelings for the on-field action. I suppose?
With any first time experience, you have to ask yourself, would you go again? Perhaps if I had children with me, I'd go again. It's nice as a change of pace. And on a nice night, when perhaps the Big Club is sold out in South Philly and you want to watch some baseball and perhaps fill out a mortgage application, then this would be the first place I'd go.