Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Out To The Ballgame
I love baseball. I watch games on TV, I listen on the radio, I go to baseball games. I am from a family that loves baseball. There is a tragic split - my father's descendants are Yankees fans, and my Aunt Ruth's descendants are Mets fans - but that's a topic for another post.
However, baseball has always been a microcosm of America and at this time in history that is for worse, not for better. New ballparks are being constructed for wealthy season-ticket holders and corporate groups. Skyboxes, luxury suites and gourmet buffets are the order of the day. At the end of this season, Yankee Stadium, the house that Ruth built, will be vacated for one of these high-tech, high-priced, high-end monstrosities.
If you want to break away from that trend, though, go to a minor league game. I live in Pomona, California, just a few miles away from the Epicenter; home of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. The Quakes are the Angels' single A club, the lowest rung in professional baseball. As soon as anyone on the team shows any promise, he gets moved up to a higher level, so these are either kids right out of high school or guys who will be working as car salesmen by the end of the season. You also get the occasional major leaguer on a rehab assignment. Orel Hershiser pitched his last game at the Epicenter.
The games are hilarious. Lacking any other draw, they go for the goofy. Between innings, they have contests for audience members. The prizes are gift certificates for local restaurants and businesses. You may see people throwing water balloons at each other, or racing around the bases with the Quakes' two mascots, Tremor, a dinosaur-like creature whose jersey bears the number 4.8, and Aftershock, who is exactly half Tremor's size and bears the number 2.4. I shelled out for the top price ticket--$10--and got a front row seat on the third base line, right next to the home team dugout. It was Wienie Wednesday, so my Hebrew National hot dog cost me a buck. I got to see a game that was not nearly as bad as you'd think it would be, and a bunch of people having a good time for not much money. If you ask me, that's what baseball ought to be about.