I first visited Miller Park for an afternoon game when the Mets visited there in 2007. This was the same road visit that Tom Glavine missed his first opportunity of winning Game #300. A dude named Brian Lawrence was starting for the Mets that day. And I was disappointed that I couldn’t drink since we had to drive back to Chicago right after the game was over. Yet, the Mets won. What wasn’t won was my heart for Miller Park. I was none too impressed.
I’m not that big of a sausage fan, and of course this state is sausage central. I love cheese, but what I don’t like is faux cheese. And well, it goes without saying that I like beer, but as I mentioned above, I could not partake that day. It was also death heat humidity. It gets hot and humid here on the east coast during the summer, no doubt. Yet, I cannot describe to you the difference of humidity in the lakes region. The air just sits, and it’s stifling. Miller Park has a dome but for some reason, they refused to use it.
There was cute, kitschy stuff, like human-sized bobble heads and the racing sausages. I didn’t dislike it enough to not return, but I was not in a hurry to revisit it either.
In the summer of 2011, my husband Ed (Leyro of Studious Metsimus) and I were supposed to take a random baseball trip to Chicago, to see a rare weekend when both the Cubs and White Sox both played in town. The Mets were ironically playing the Milwaukee Brewers at CitiField that weekend. We had sold our tickets in advance, and had plans to leave around 9 pm on a Friday night to make a Saturday and Sunday game at the North side and South side of Chicago respectively. Yet, Mother Nature had other plans. About a week before Hurricane Irene hit, one of those random summer storms that hit our region for about 15 minutes once a week was severe enough to cancel our flight and we couldn’t get out there.
Suffice to say, we were unfulfilled from the trip that never was for a long long VERY long time.
Okay. Only a year.
So while looking at the Mets schedule, I saw they were in Milwaukee in September. Since I remembered the death heat humidity like no other from August 2007, I figured September would be a little bit safer, coupled that with being a night game, maybe I could enjoy them playing outdoor baseball. Normally I believe that baseball should be played outdoors. But that humidity would make a Navy SEAL cry.
Oh and while feeling saucy, I looked at the White Sox and Cubs schedules for that same time. Turns out the Sox would be finishing up a home stand against the Tigers the night before (which is covered here), and the Cubs were playing the Pirates the day after. We’d have plenty of time to make a late-ish flight home on Saturday. So we had to wait an entire year and change, but we got a bonus game out of it in Milwaukee, featuring our team.
Mother Nature of course intervened with our first game, at The Cell. But we awoke to a bright and sunny day in Chicago the day the Mets were playing in Milwaukee. I knew one thing for sure: baseball WOULD be played that day.
And I got to see a good pitcher start : Jonathon Joseph Niese. Anyone who knows The Coop knows that besides R.A. Dickey, JJN is “her” guy. Plus, I really like a lot of players on the Brewers, including Ryan Braun.
It’s a pretty uneventful drive, but with a little GPS snafu along the way, we made it in one piece.
The atmosphere around Miller Park is a little odd, at least to this New Yorker. While the local football teams’ fan bases make it a point to tailgate to the extent that it’s as much a culture as the two-minute warning of the games, tailgating at a baseball game is a concept that’s very foreign.
The very first time I ever visited Miller Park, I was amazed at 11:30 a.m., the amount of people outside grilling their bratwursts and drinking their Miller High Life. And the amount of people surprised, nay SHOCKED, that even though I had literally deplaned two hours before direct from New York, that I was not participating.
That was an afternoon game, but for a night game, I was still surprised at the amount of people there, and tailgating. I know this is Baseball 101 but there are 162 games per year, 81 of those are home games. Their fans go through this rigamarole for each of those games?
Wow. That’s dedication. I’m used to showing up to a home game 15 minutes before opening pitch, and I think I’m dedicated.
But speaking of being committed, I can’t be the only person who thinks that Miller Park has to be corrupted to get a statue dedicated to the current baseball commissioner, Allan H. “Bud” Selig. I see no conflict of interest whatsoever.
Moving right along, no trip to the Milwaukee Brewers’ home field is complete without seeing a statue of Bob Uecker, Robin Yount…or the Chorizo racing sausage!
If nothing is more American than apple pie, quite frankly, nothing is more Milwaukee than a sausage. Or beer. Or cheese…which I had in my buffalo chicken mac and cheese at the Food Network stand (not to fret, locals…the same stand is found at MetLife Stadium).
Moving right along, for the first time visitor, I would say give yourselves at least an hour to go through the entire stadium. I had forgotten more than I remembered, quite honestly, in the five years that I hadn’t been to Miller Park.
At this point in the season, pretty much all Mets games were deemed “meaningless,” there wasn’t much going on except, well, R.A. Dickey’s ascent to the NL Cy Young Award and his quest for 20 wins, which we all know now was successful on both counts. Yet, as I alluded above, Jon Niese is a young and rising star of the New York Mets’ pitching staff. That Mets jersey I am wearing? Oh, it’s a #49 Niese jersey.
The Mets won the game against the Brewers this evening, but the Bratwurst won the Sausage Race that night at the top of the 7th inning
(And is it me, or does the Hot Dog — the one wearing the #4 — look like a dead ringer for Denver Broncos’ quarterback, Peyton Manning?)
Speaking of sausages, of course there is a wide array of sausages to consume on the premises. You can get the helmet of waffle fries with cheese, cheese curds, cheeseburgers, mac and cheese, Polish sausage, bratwurst, pizza, ice cream? And all the Miller you can drink.
See a theme? Dairy, sausage and beer. Sounds like a plan in Milwaukee. (I’ve had the cheese fries. They look better than they taste. I may opt for cheese curds next time around.)
MIller Park does a nice job of celebrating Brewers history, or more apt, the Braves who started there back when. It took the Mets awhile to get in the knack of celebrating Mets history and did a fine job with the Hall of Fame and Museum at CitiField. I really love when I go to other stadiums and see the celebration of history.
Now, I certainly preferred going to a game at Miller Park at night as opposed to a midday game in the middle of the summer.
The weather in the Great Lakes is very humid, underrated how humid it can get. And for some reason, they’re very against closing the dome unless there is rain. (And I heard a rumor that there’s not even climate control. What’s the point of having a retractable dome at all then??)
I like Miller Park. I’m glad that I didn’t write it off because I didn’t have the best experience the first time around (though for what it was worth, it was fun and it wasn’t a terrible time). I’m glad I was open to revisit it, and see the Sausage Race and have decent weather and most of all, to see Jonathon Niese win.