Minor-league baseball can provide a wealth of entertainment for a lot less, even if baseball's not your sport.
Today is one of those rare days in the Deep South. As anyone who has spent any amount of time during the summer months of June, July and August below the Mason-Dixon line, days when the temperature fails to reach 85, and the humidity is lower than you age are as scarce as conservative reporters on broadcast news.
And, as luck would have it, the closest minor-league baseball team to my home has a previously scheduled game starting at noon. Due to the aforementioned normal weather pattern, these games are avoided by those of us slightly obese, somewhat elderly, air-conditioned spoiled gentlemen, who are susceptible to the formation of skin cancers from sun exposure.
But let not a good day go to waste! Armed with hats and sunscreen, my friend David and I are about to leave the cool comforts of home to see the Montgomery biscuits do battle with their upstate rival, the Birmingham Barons.
For those of us in rural locations, going to see a major-league baseball game is problematic, sometimes. First for me, the closest team is the Atlanta Braves, now about a 2.5 hour drive each way, with the opening of their new stadium. After that comes the Tampa Bay Rays, at least eight hours, and Houston, Dallas and St. Louis, even father away.
So, attending those games requires planning and aforethought, logistics and meal-planning, not to mention the cost of tickets. In all fairness, there are inexpensive tickets at major league venues, but not generally located in the home plate area.
At a minor-league game, played at noon on a Monday, you can likely score a reserved seat just a few dozen feet from the backside of the umpire. Truthfully, there is a good chance you could get a similar seat at most weekday night games as well, in most minor-league parks. That, and a number of other features makes minor-league baseball a real value for families with young children and the general public as well.
I can attest, having sat in that area on many occasions, you can enjoy the sounds as well as the sights of baseball, including the crack of the bat, pop of the catcher’s mitt on a fast ball, the umpire’s emphatic third-strike pronouncement, and sometimes even the difference of opinions expressed between the umpire and the recipient of the caught-looking third strike.
If you concentrate, you can see the break of the curve ball (it’s not an optical illusion), and if you look really hard, you can often see the actual rotation of the ball in flight. Fortunately, you don’t have to pay attention that closely sitting behind the plate, since you are protected by a screen that likely has saved many teeth from speeding foul balls.
That means you can take in the food treats and other sights and sounds of the experience, while keeping an eye on the actual score. And that makes baseball a little unique as a spectator sport.
In case you wonder what is my point of this whole epistle, I am recommending you get a group of friends together, or pack up the kids and go to a minor-league baseball game. There is likely a team located near you, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to go. If you don’t like baseball, just don’t watch. Sit back and talk with the group, share a beverage, or sit with the kids on the lawn area that most parks have and enjoy some family time.
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At the end of the day today, I may not be able to tell you the score of the game, I may not even be able to tell you which team won. And next week, I won’t remember many of the player’s names, but I will remember the good time I had. The price of admission for that is cheap, and well worth it.