Saturday, May 22, 2010

Be Prepared

You have to be ready for things. Yesterday it was someone else, this morning it was me.

We made our first official visit to Target Field last night. I'd been there for the open house in March, but a game day is a different phenomenon and the experience was different, too. A few thoughts before I get to the main point of this post:

To save money and to make it easier to get out of downtown after the game, I decided to park in the ramp that's just east of the Hennepin County building (only $4!), which meant about an 8-block walk down 6th Street to Target Field. You walk by a lot of bars and restaurants on the way -- M&S Grill, Ike's, Murray's, Lions Tap, the Lone Tree, Gluek's, Kieran's Irish Pub, the new Hubert's and probably a few other places I'm forgetting -- and they were all packed. It might not be that way every game night, but it was yesterday. We're a long ways from being able to gauge the financial impact of the new stadium for the area, but it was clear that the restaurants on that route were very happy to have the patronage. In some ways, it reminded me of what you see when you walk up Clark Street near Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Target Field is a great place to watch a game. The sight lines are very nice and the seats were comfortable. Our seats were in Section 319, bleeders but just off home plate on the 3rd base side. The 3rd base side is the place to be, because it gives you the skyline view. The park design is pretty astonishing, because the architects found a way to maximize a very small footprint. It's a pretty good trick to shoehorn nearly 40,000 people into a site that's only about 8 acres. Somehow it works and it doesn't feel crowded. The open concourses prevent the claustrophobic sense you get from the Metrodome and we had no trouble finding our way around.

The game itself was fun if you're a Twins fan, not so much if you like the Milwaukee Brewers, as the Twins won 15-3. Dave Bush, the Brewers starter, put on one of the most disgraceful performances I've ever seen on a major league field. At least that's what I thought as I was watching it unfold. Bush gave up hits to the first two batters of the game (Denard Span and Orlando Hudson), then gave up a walk to Joe Mauer. He didn't seem to like the call from the umpire very much and it was clear that his emotions were becoming a problem. He managed to get Justin Morneau to hit a popup, but then Bush walked Michael Cuddyer, which sent Span in for the first run of the inning. And at that point, Bush appeared to lose it. He said something to the umpire, who immediately bolted out from behind the plate and starting jawing with Bush. It was one of those typical comic opera baseball arguments, with a lot of emoting and silliness. At one point Bush had to be restrained by his first basemen, the enormous Prince Fielder. Bush then came unglued entirely. He ended up pitching to 10 men, committing a balk that would have been unacceptable in a Little League game and giving up 7 runs in 1/3 of an inning, which works out to a tidy ERA of 189.00 for the game. After the game was over, it seemed like a good chance to do a little parenting. Since it had seemed to me that the True Blue Brew Crew was utterly unprepared for the game, I said as much to Benster as we were walking back to the car.

This morning, it was my turn to be unprepared. Benster's Boy Scout troop was already at Star Camp, a giant camporee that's going on this weekend at Stearns Scout Camp, which is about an hour northwest of the Twin Cities. Star Camp is a pretty big deal, as it's meant as a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Scouting in the United States. All told there were going to be upwards of 7,000 scouts attending the event. The rest of Benster's troop was already there and he was going to join them this morning. One of the central tenets of scouting is a simple one: Be Prepared. Benster was prepared for what happened. His father? Not so much.

As we arrived at the site this morning, the skies were looking ominous. The weather forecast I'd heard this morning suggested that today would be a warm, sunny day, with temperatures in the low to mid 80s by the afternoon. Since I was simply going to drop Benster off at the camp and return, I didn't think to pack any gear or provisions for myself. I didn't even pack a jacket and was just wearing a polo shirt, shorts and my tennis shoes. Seemed like the proper attire for a summery day, right?

Well, as we approached the camp, it became clear that things weren't going to be so clear. The assigned parking area for our troop was filled, so we were told to park in a lot that was over a mile from the camp entrance. Meanwhile, the sunny skies were nowhere to be found and a thick bank of gray, ominous clouds were gathering over the site. After I parked the vehicle, we walked to the registration area where we waited, and waited, and waited. Meanwhile, the clouds were getting darker and a few flashes of lightning were evident. Once we got to the registration area, we were told that since the troop had already registered, Ben's credentials were at the campsite. We needed to get into line for the shuttle bus that would take us over to the campsite area. The line snaked about 375 feet. We got in line. And then the rain came. Lots and lots of rain.

Ben quickly pulled his rain jacket from his pack. We stood in the line for about a half hour, rain pelting down on us, waiting for a bus. Meanwhile, the temperature had dropped about 20 degrees as the storm pounded us. As a general rule, a polo shirt and shorts doesn't work especially well under those conditions. Eventually we got on a bus and rode over to the camp entrance. At that point we walked about a half mile from the staging area to the proper campsite registration area, picked up Ben's credentials and then walked another 1/4 mile or so to the actual campsite, where we found Ben's troop huddled in their tents. Over the course of the next hour, I waited for the rain to slow up enough to head back to my vehicle and come home. I heard more than a few Woodstock jokes during that time. Eventually I made it home, though. And now it is warm and sunny.

One of the things that Scouting teaches best is that a person must be prepared in this life. I preach that message a lot to my kids, but in this case I didn't follow my own advice. Storms come into your life unexpectedly, as do cranky umpires. Perhaps I shouldn't have been so hard on Dave Bush last night.


W.B. Picklesworth said...

Heh, I can just imagine you waiting out there going from wet to wetter to drenched, to prune. :)

Mrs. D said...

Guess the pitcher for the Brewers never heard the speech that you give to the teams that you are coaching. The umpire is always right. Even if he is wrong, he is right.

R.A. Crankbait said...

The umpire isn't always right, but the umpire is always the umpire.

As for your wardrobe choices, perhaps you could have blamed FEMA?

Night Writer said...

Oh, sure, Mr. D -- blame it on (Dave) Bush!