MILWAUKEE -- I got booed in Miller Park.
Yes, that's right. One of the handheld cameras that does "faces" for the Jumbotron there stopped by my aisle, and since I was sitting right there, he decided to point the camera my way and put me up there, Cub cap, Cub jacket and all.
I waved -- and got roundly booed by the Brewers fans in attendance.
I am SO proud!
Spending the afternoon in Miller Park watching the Cleveland Indians of Milwaukee defeat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 4-2 was great fun this afternoon -- 17,090 was the total attendance, 52,496 for the entire series, a great tribute to the fine baseball fans of Milwaukee (see, guys? You don't always have to boo Cubs fans!). Actually, there were quite a few folks wearing Cubs paraphernalia in the crowd today, along with some Tribe fans (I sat next to a couple of them, men originally from Ohio who now live near Rockford); I spotted one sign reading "Jacobs Field North", and at least one lonely Angels fan who had a "GO ANGELS" sign in my section.
It was almost surreal to drive into the Miller Park parking lot, with about four or five inches of snow on the ground (see photo below) and know that I was about to see a baseball game in relative comfort, with no chance of weather problems (and they may have MORE weather troubles in Cleveland this weekend as they attempt to play the White Sox). They did sell some leftover scorecards from the Cubs series, but I had printed my own at home for just this contingency. They let us park in what is normally the "preferred" lot closest to the ballpark for the $8 "regular" price (usually, that's $12), and it was quite easy to get back out to my secret shortcut home after the game. I was back home one hour and fifty minutes after the last out was registered, and that included five minutes of not being able to find my car in the parking lot, and a five-minute stop. That's almost unheard-of on a weekday afternoon.
The crowd was overwhelmingly pro-Tribe, although the Brewers organist and PA coordinator gave some attempts to be even-handed in their urgings to cheer. The Indians had sent some of their scoreboard games to Milwaukee for use on the Jumbotron, but all the advertising and some of the other games (including a trivia contest which a Tribe fan gave the correct answer to) were all Brewers.
The game started quite slowly; through five innings there were only four hits apiece, and the Angels had the first best chance to score on a bizarre double steal as Robb Quinlan struck out in the fourth. Vladimir Guerrero came in standing up at third base, apparently out by ten feet, but then faked out Tribe 3B Andy Marte and was called safe. Jeremy Sowers got Cleveland out of the inning by getting Howie Kendrick to fly to right.
I kept trying to figure out who Sowers reminded me of, when the Tribe fan next to me blurted it out. It's Jamie Moyer. The guy said, "Sowers has 23 years of baseball ahead of him if he keeps throwing like this," and he's right -- his style is very much like Moyer's, trying to keep hitters off balance, and he threw seven very good innings, not walking anyone, giving up only six hits and a run.
Meanwhile, Dustin Moseley matched Sowers quite well, and going into the 8th the 1-1 tie was preserved; that's when Cleveland's defense cost it a run. With one out, Orlando Cabrera beat out an infield hit and wound up on second when Casey Blake, who had just moved to 3B after Ryan Garko pinch-hit for Marte (and struck out), threw the ball past Garko. After Guerrero was intentionally passed, the Indians almost got out of it with a DP, but Roberto Hernandez couldn't handle the relay throw, got charged with an error, and then left the game.
Which set up the Indians for the win when Scot Shields came in and had no control nor command. He walked the first two hitters he faced and then Mike Scioscia inexplicably left him in to face the left-handed hitting Travis Hafner. The result was predictable -- a long three-run homer to the concourse behind the bleachers in right field.
My Indian fan seatmates were worried about Joe Borowski closing (sound familiar?) but he did fine, after walking pinch-hitter Erick Aybar, he struck out Reggie Willits to end it, for his third save (in four Indians wins).
I had a great time and it appeared that everyone else there did as well. Things like this, awkward for the players, are good for baseball as they wind up getting people who really are up for a good ballgame out to the park. You can't beat the price -- $10 for a seat that normally goes for $36 (that's my ticket at the top of this post) -- and when else would I have a chance to see these two teams play?
Finally, for those of you complaining about the couple of new ads in Wrigley Field, I counted all the permanent ads you can see in the outfield at Miller Park -- twenty-seven of them, and that doesn't include all the ads you get on the Jumbotron and the ribbon board on the facing of the upper deck. And even those, you can tune out if you want to, and just watch baseball.
View outside Miller Park before the game (note piles of snow); Jeremy Sowers pitches to Gary Matthews Jr. in the first inning; view down the LF line; view down the RF line
(as always, click on thumbnail to view full-size in new browser window. If you are using IE, you may have to click the lower-right corner of the image in the new window to expand it to its full size; in Firefox click anywhere on the image. Photos by Al, taken with camera phone because I forgot my camera)