The Baseball Game

I am amazed at how much goes on at a baseball game these days. I've attended a number of major league (and a few minor league) games in my life, most in Atlanta but before that in New York, but most of these occasions took place years ago. I remember as a child and coming to Atlanta to see a Braves game with my parents once every few years; I generally thought it was a rather long and boring night but then again I'd been bored at many softball games before that. My dad was a local legend in slow pitch softball when I was little and we went to games all summer. I paid little attention to the action on the field but rather ran around playing tag and other general running around kinds of games with the other kids behind the bleachers. And trying to pilfer additional White Rock sodas (I don't remember the flavor but I did love looking at that fairy kneeling on the rock pictured on each bottle) from the galvanized washtub filled with ice and assorted sodas in bottles, the bottle opener being secured to the tub with a length of twine. The thing about coming to the stadium when I was young was that there was nowhere to run around. One had to stick to the seats and watch the game. Which I could take or leave. In both cases, though, I never remembered much about the trip home. I was always tuckered out and usually fell asleep in the backseat. Lying down without seatbelts, of course. So sometimes I'd just lie down on the floor so as to avoid rolling off the seat.

At some point as an adult I actually got interested in baseball and enjoyed going to the games. I lived in New York during the Ron Guidry/Goose Gossage pitching years and saw some awesome games. When I moved to Atlanta, the Braves were pretty bad and one could drive up to the stadium fifteen minutes before game time, pay $5, and end up in dugout seats. Groups of folks from work would head out to the stadium, probably more for the conversation and the beer than anything else.

Then in the last few years, the new stadium was built. We sat there on July 4 in the late afternoon, way high up, and I could hardly keep my mind on the game. There was too much else going on. Lights flashing a lot, snippets of music blasting away, games on the huge screen that was really at eye level (the game was way down below with little faceless people running around the field), and advertising, scores from other games, other statistics, all over the place. And of course there's the rooftop Coke bottle and the area up there for kids to run around, and the beer garden over right field and all kinds of games and batting cages and food and stores all the way around the stadium inside. As has happened each time I've visited this stadium, I felt overwhelmed and often overstimulated. No way one could be bored at this kind of place - although I found it hard to keep up with the actual game because of all the distraction.

There are, thankfully, plenty of rest rooms in the new stadium. One never has to go too far. Near the seventh inning stretch, it seemed time to visit one. I enjoyed watching the people seated next to the steps as I walked along - lots of people on their phones - Blackberries or iPhones - taking pictures, talking, texting. Many renditions of red white and blue attire, some with interesting hair ornaments or face paint. One woman was drinking a Bud Light out of a can and reading a Jane Austen novel. There was much eating, drinking, cheering, and general activity. People were walking around all over the place. In many ways, going to a baseball game in a modern busy stadium is just a newer version of what I did when I was small, going to my dad's softball games. Some people were there to watch every action on the field; others were there to visit with friends and family. Some were focused on the refreshments. Kids needed to find some games to play. It was hard to sit still.

Sadly, the home team did not win, but we did get to see wonderful fireworks, not only at the stadium but in the background from other venues as well, which we were able to see because we were high up and facing downtown. And of course there was the traffic crush trying to get home.

All in all, it was fun to be with a big crowd in a public venue on the Fourth of July. It was fun to spend the whole day with my guys. It was a little exhausting, too. I had to spend today prone, with a mystery or two, to recover. Which was more fun than sleeping in the car on the way home the way I did as a child.