Celebrating our national pastime with 3 baseball games in 3 cities – Daily Bulletin

Is baseball still our national pastime, or is it now about “trolling the Internet” or “ordering take out”? I like to think it’s still baseball. But hey, I’m a fan.

How big is a fan? Not a hard-core, not a statistics assistant, not a cable subscriber. But I love sports. Enough that, while on vacation in the Midwest, I saw three games in three cities in six days.

I first saw my favorite team, the St. Louis Cardinals, play at home, an annual tradition – except last year, of course. Then I took the train to Chicago to see the White Sox and from there a train to Milwaukee for the Brewers.

  • A statue of retired White Sox slugger Frank Thomas, nicknamed The Big Hurt for his batting prowess, livens up a lobby at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago on June 27. (Photo by David Allen, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • Who said baseball parks don’t have a local character? This unusual sign at American Family Field in Milwaukee above a four-sided beer stand on June 29 reflects the city’s cheerful German foam heritage. (Photo by David Allen, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • The downtown St. Louis skyline, with its signature Gateway Arch, is visible beyond Busch Stadium on June 24. (Photo by David Allen, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

It’s all part of my low-key campaign to finally reach all 30 Major League stadiums. Before this trip, my count was nine. Now I’m at 11 – well in double digits.

(By the time I hit my 30s, in my 70s, the number of teams will likely drop to 36 and I’ll die of frustration.)

Baseball in 2021, at least in the Midwest, is as you remember it. Too long, to begin with, and with overpriced food and drink.

But many offers are regional and distinctive. In Chicago, I had an Italian beef sandwich with giardiniera or pickled vegetables. In Milwaukee, I had a “Chedda Burger” – that’s how the stand advertised it – and frozen custard. The Busch Stadium in St. Louis, tragically, doesn’t have a Ted Drewes custard stand, but Budweiser is everywhere.

Wherever you go, teams use silly or charming stunts to keep your attention, like a Wisconsin run between three costumed sausages, or a kid announcing the next drummer.

What about COVID-19? At this point, matches are largely maskless, although many stadium workers are wearing them and some fans have done so, including myself at times in crowded halls.

The ticket office is almost entirely virtual. I had to download an app. It was better to print out a ticket and hand it over, but nothing better than having a souvenir ticket to take home. It was better than worrying about forgetting to bring my ticket or losing it along the way.

When you travel you get a new perspective, even on baseball. Fans everywhere are excited about their team. They wear their colors or shirts with the last names of their favorite superstars on the back, even if you, personally, have no idea who these players are. In these fractured times, unity is inspiring.

In Saint-Louis on June 24, I rooted for the Cardinals, of course. (They lost anyway, 8-2.) In Chicago and Milwaukee on June 27 and 29, respectively, I had no interest in the home team or their opponent.

In this case, the polite thing to do is support the home team. After all, I’m a guest in their town, and you don’t want to be so detached that you don’t support anyone.

I had been to Wrigley Field in Chicago before, watching the Cubs lose to the Cardinals, which was satisfying. But I hadn’t seen Chicago’s other team, the White Sox, or their absurd baseball stadium, Guaranteed Rate Field. So it became Ballpark No. 10 for me.

I took the metro from the city center. As our train of baseball fans drove out of the station, the transit worker inside the cab climbed up to his pocket mic to shout excitedly, “Go Sox! Go Sox! Go Sox! a dozen times as we paraded. His enthusiasm made everyone smile.

The Sox lost 3-2 to the Seattle Mariners, ending a rain-interrupted game the day before.

My ticket would have allowed me to see the regular game of the day as well – the Sox won it, 7-5 – but like I said, I’m not a die-hard fan, and even a three-hour game. is a little beyond my current attention span.

With only a full day in Chicago, I didn’t want to spend it all at the ballpark. So I left for the Art Institute, an essential step for me, and deep pizzas at Lou Malnati.

Two nights later, I took a city bus from downtown Milwaukee to American Family Field, which became Ballpark No. 11. The Brewers run National League Central, the same division as my struggling Cardinals. , and would play against the Cubs, who were in second.

My preference would have been for both teams to lose, but that’s not how it works. Once again, I was happy to support the home side, especially since no self-righteous St. Louis fan would support the Cubs under any circumstances.

In fact, I was a little sorry that I missed the game the night before when the Cubs were beaten 14-2.

It was a fun night at the stadium, with witty comments from the stranger to my left, welcome interjections from the stadium organist (who owns a company named Allen organs) and a mystery fan who apparently bought five rows to my right, about 60 seats, to enjoy the game with a friend in peace.

Additionally, the Brewers’ video screens at one point showed fan footage of funny, but not mean, legends. Grilled fans in Cubs jersey.

“Has a Wrigley scale model,” the caption read under an older man, “but used poison ivy.” Under a group of millennial fans: “Still awaiting refunds from the Fyre Festival. And below a few, and in reference to the last game, the caption read, “Fans of the team that gave up a 10-point set.”

On the pitch, the lightly touched game was almost a pitching duel. With an early flight the next morning, I left after six rounds and finished the match at a bar near my hotel.

Fortunately, the score hadn’t changed. As I polish a bratwurst with sauerkraut and onions on a pretzel bun, with a side of cheese curds, the Cubs lost 2-1.

Is life in this United States getting much better? Happy Independence Day.


The July 4 Ontario All-State Picnic is canceled in conjunction with the annual parade. As my colleague Joe Blackstock wrote last week, what was once “the world’s longest picnic table,” with tables for each state’s transplants during the mid-century population boom, in recent years has been a failure. Ontario should rethink the concept to reflect a predominantly Latin American city. I mean, is anyone moving here from Iowa again? If the All-State Picnic returns in 2022, designate tables for each of the 32 states in Mexico, promote the event in the Latino community and see what happens.

David Allen arrives Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Email [email protected], call 909-483-9339, like davidallencolumnist on Facebook and follow @ davidallen909 on Twitter.

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