Play Ball!

So last night, we took Baby Brother to a Durham Bulls game*, where we watched them trounce the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs** (12-6) while sitting in the Mad-Eye Moody Seats (“constant vigilance!”) near the home team dugout [correction: Bullpen, says My Fella, who Knows About Baseball]***

"to the ballgame"

Aside from the heavy emphasis on Bull Durham-themed trivia contests — in case you *don’t* care, LIKE JUST ABOUT EVERYONE ELSE ON EARTH WHO BARELY REMEMBERS THIS 1988 FEATURE FILM, it’s apparently the 25th anniversary of the movie Bull Durham — it was a fun night, and here’s why:

1.) The Mascot, Wool E. Bull, has a little go-kart — and, sometimes, he goes too fast, too furious. Drift, baby, drift!

2.) A t-shirt gun shaped like a hot dog. Yes, you can get t-shirts fired at you from a small, shoulder-mounted cannon…if you like that sort of thing, and most folks seem to.

3.) The Running of the Kids. This is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, and if America’s cattle ever collectively turn on their human keepers, this will probably be our New Bovine Overlords’ version of the Olympics. Or the Hunger Games, I don’t know, tho’ I suspect the odds were never in our favor.

4.) The Diamond Cutters, sponsored by Bayer Crop Science. Somewhere around the sixth inning, this four-person grounds crew/dance ensemble does a bit of choreographed turf management. *shrug*

5.) HIT BULL GET STEAK. (Ok, the only true beneficiaries of this rule are the patrons of Tobacco Road, the (smoke-free) bar &  restaurant overlooking the ballpark. However, the plebes get to watch smoke come out of the nostrils of the giant wooden sign shaped like a bull. Oh, and also the eyes light up. It’s pretty cool.)

6.) Assorted gimmickry, which — I must say — the Bulls have elevated to an art form. From “Bring Your Dog Night” (complete with beauty contest) to faux-Sumo wrestling to Star Wars night (with lightsabers) to mini-Mascot raves, (also, it seems, with lightsabers), there’s almost nothing this team won’t do to entertain its fans. And, of course, there are the Prizes! — awarded to ticket-holders when players hit everything from billboards to concession stands to babies to windows in the financial district. So, rest assured that if somebody aims a line drive into that douchebag sitting right in front of you, you will probably also get free lip balm or something. Win-win.

7.) Errors that belong in cartoons. You know, like when two outfielders both run to catch a ball, crash into each other, and then fall over while the ball rolls away? Those moments are priceless. [That said, there was also some solid baseball being played — this was quite an action-packed event, as minor league ball games go.]

8.) The foodiest concessions on Earth. Most ballparks will charge you like $40 for a hot dog with a weirder, scarier origin story than your average superhero and a plastic cup of beer that might actually be a slightly chilled urine sample. Not in Durham, though. You can get pulled pork sandwiches, or organic bratwurst with stone-ground mustard, or Locopops, or ice custard, or any of a wide selection of local craft beers. There’s even a detailed map, in case you’re a vegan, or you’re one of those people who insists on putting brewer’s yeast on popcorn or else are annoyingly particular about the brand of artisanal sunflower seeds you prefer to eat.

9.) I’m going to go ahead and add fireworks, even though it’s not something I personally enjoy. Generally, I see fireworks and think of either a.) space shuttle missions gone terribly, terribly awry or b.) terrorist attacks, whether domestic or foreign. So, while some folks stick around and enjoy the sparkly, I find myself herding my loved ones away from the field at a brisk clip, shouting orders like “Do not panic, but come with me if you want to live!”

And that’s a morbid way to end a post, so I’m going to reiterate that we had an amazing time and, like most things that are in one’s hometown, we should do stuff like this more often…not just when people come to visit.

*…after a pre-game stop at La Vaquita for tacos. Truly, we are living the dream.
**Yes, that is the team’s actual name, because Pennsylvanians mostly stay true to their rust-belt roots. Meanwhile, NEPA’s hometown team (which is now a farm team for those damned Yankees instead of the salt-and-battery-loving Phillies, yet another example of how NYC has annexed this region against its will), the former “Red Barons”, is now called the “Railriders”…which is kind of mean, since one thing the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area *doesn’t* have anymore is a TRAIN. (Seriously, how is it that this place — which, btw, is only like 2 hours from Manhattan — still has active mine shafts but no f*cking Amtrak service?)
***The foul balls that come our way aren’t the gentle pop flys that kids can catch in their little league mitts and keep as souvenirs. No, these are the spherical missiles that will embed themselves in your eye socket at 120 mph if you’re not paying close attention.
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One thought on “Play Ball!

  1. Libby says:

    I catch up on your blog too rarely, and post even less, but your prose never fails to amuse me. Glad you had fun at the game!

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