Baseball Nirvana: Five Friends Journey To Milwaukee And Iowa. Part 1

There are very few things in my life that I would wake up at 4:30 in the morning for. If my wife went into labor at 4:30 in the morning, I certainly would wake up for that. Of course, I would need a wife first in order for that to happen.

The other thing I would wake up at 4:30 in the morning for would be to have the opportunity to go to the Field of Dreams. Anyone who knows me, knows that Field of Dreams is my favorite movie of all time (Wall Street and Return of the Jedi are two and three respectfully). Since that movie came out in 1989, it’s been my dream to play on that field.

But before I got to play on the Field of Dreams, there was plenty of business to take care of in Milwaukee, WI. Milwaukee, home of the Brewers, cheese, Kopps frozen custard, the Comet Cafe, and of course, the Miller Brewing Factory.

Here is an unadulterated recap of the first day of my three day trip to baseball nirvana.

Day 1.

After a quick hour and forty five minute plane ride, my buddies Tom, Justin, John and myself arrive in Milwaukee around 7:30 AM. The fifth member of our group, Minnesota Twins fan, current Chicago native, and our driver for the weekend Charlie was going to pick us up at the airport.

In typical fashion we took bets on how late he would be in picking us up at the airport. John showed the least confidence by saying he wouldn’t show up, period. Much to our surprise, Charlie was right on time and greeted us all with giant man-hugs.

Our plan was to head to the Comet Cafe that was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, check into our hotel, and then head to the Milwaukee Brewers vs St. Louis Cardinals game that started at 1:30. Immediately our plan was tossed aside like a sack of potatoes because the Comet Cafe was closed and didn’t open until 10:30.

So after our initial plan was foiled, we decided to check into our hotel. Matthew, the extremely helpful and knowledgable doorman at the InterContinental recommended that we head to a place called Trocadero for brunch. I got to be honest, John is a doorman and if I had a vote for Doorman of the Year, I think Matthew would get it over John based on his performance.

Trocadero was awesome and while we were there, we experienced our first taste of Milwaukee’s obsession with Bloody Mary’s. I would say outside of beer, Bloody Mary’s are Milwaukee’s No. 2 most consumed beverage. Everywhere you looked, there were Bloody Mary’s being served.

Once we got done with breakfast, we headed to Miller Park. Now just to fill you in, Tom has a borderline unhealthy obsession with the Cardinals, which is why we are in Milwaukee in the first place. I am not going to lie, it’s a little concerning.

There's tailgating at baseball games?

There's tailgating at baseball games?

From a distance, the ballpark looks like a giant spaceship. It’s the weirdest looking stadium I have seen from the outside. As we pulled into the parking lot, we were all shocked by what we saw.

People were tailgating at a baseball game!! I am not talking about standing like a putz by your car with a beer and you call it a tailgate. I am talking about an all out tailgate like it was the Green Packers vs. the Chicago Bears.

There were tents, generators, sausages as far as the eye could see, and kids throwing the baseball around. I was really impressed. We barely see any tailgating at baseball games here in New York.

Here was the best part of tailgating at Brewers games. Not only do they have porta potties, but there is a full restroom that anyone can access outside the stadium. And not only is there a restroom, but this place was spotless. If that was at Giants Stadium, that place would be filled with stuff so vile that decorum prohibits me from talking about it.

I will admit, I like what I saw from Miller Park. It was fan friendly, tickets are inexpensive, and you can stand wherever you want for batting practice. Our seats were on the field level, down the firstbase line ($50 is not bad considering those same seats are $250 at Yankee Stadium), but for BP we stood in the rightfield bleachers.

I didn’t catch a ball, but the girl who was standing there before caught one in the arm because she wasn’t paying attention. Terrible job by her. One last note about BP, Matt Holliday put on a show and Albert Pujols hit the centerfield scoreboard.

Here is what I didn’t like — the Brewers’ lineup that day. Here is the lineup that Ken Macha through out there against Chris Carpenter, one of the best pitchers in baseball

1. Corey Patterson, CF

2. Frank Catalanotto, LF

3. Felipe Lopez, 2B

4. Prince Fielder, 1B

5. Casey McGehee, 3B

6. Jody Gerut, RF

7. Jason Kendall, C

8. Alcides Escobar, SS

9. Dave Bush, P

What is wrong with this lineup? NO RYAN BRAUN!!! Ken Macha, how can you do this to me? If I am going to travel to Milwaukee at 4:30 in the morning, I better see one of the best players in the game play. No wonder why it was 60/40 Brewer/Cardinal fan ratio at the game.

Carpenter just destroyed this lineup. In the second inning, Justin said that Carpenter was going to throw a no-hitter. Well, he came awfully close. Carpenter tossed a one-hitter in one of the best games I have seen pitched in person.

A one-hitter is the sports equivalent of turning 22 years old. Nobody remembers what they did or where they were for a 22nd birthday. But everyone remembers what they did or where they were for a no-hitter or their 21st birthday.

The most surprising aspect of Carpenter’s performance is that he threw 99 pitches. It was surprising because I thought Carpenter only threw like 70 pitches. That’s how much the Brewers’ lineup was dominated by Carpenter.

The other thing I didn’t like — and this really ticked me off. The only thing I wanted was an old-school, powder blue Paul Molitor or Robin Yount player tee-shirt. I went to one team store — no dice. I went to the second team store — sold out.

How is this possible? How can they not have had shirts for the only two stars this franchise has ever had? Just a terrible job by whoever is in charge of merchandising for the Brewers. This almost ruined my day.

The Cardinals won 3-0 in a 1950’s like two hours and eighteen minutes.

Overall it was a good day at Miller Park

Overall it was a good day at Miller Park

Once we got out of the parking lot, in which Charlie had road rage for no apparent reason, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner and hit up Water Street. Charlie thought it would take two hours to get out of the parking lot, when in reality it took only 30 minutes.

Now I am going to backtrack here a little. Back in the Spring of 1996, Justin, Tom, and I took a trip to Hartford, CT to see WrestleMania XI. It was the WrestleMania where Lawrence Taylor took on the “Beast of the East” the late, great Bam Bam Bigelow.

After that event, we deemed Hartford, CT the most boring city in America. Well, Hartford, CT, you have been replaced. This honor now goes to Milwaukee, WI.

I know it was a Monday night on Labor Day, but come on Milwaukee, show me something. There wasn’t a person in town and barely anything was open. How is Buffalo Wild Wings not open on a Monday night at 7:30 when Miami is playing Florida State that night?

It’s inexcusable.

I saw more people on my plane than there were people out on Water Street on Monday night. One of the places that was open was the Water Front Brewery. There I experienced my third sausage product of the day and my first ever beer sampler.

Normally, the sampler is reserved for mozzarella sticks, wings, fries, etc…But in Milwaukee, the sampler is reserved for eight different types of beer served on a “Thank you sir, may I have another” paddle.

Only in Milwaukee.

The town was so dead that we decided to head to the Pfister Hotel and have some drinks because that is where the Cardinals were staying. Again, Tom has issues. Speaking of issues. When we arrived, we saw a bunch a people and when say people, I mean adults waiting outside the hotel for autographs.

If you are in your 30’s waiting outside a hotel room at 10:30 at night with a sharpie and a binder full of photos, you have some serious issues. At that point you should re-evaluate things.

The bar at the Pfister Hotel was pretty quiet (shocker there). We did see Tony LaRussa, Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa, Skip Schumaker, and Julio Lugo walk into the hotel, but they weren’t drinking. I wanted to roll an olive at Lugo and ask him to field it.

We called it a night around 11:00. Part Two of our trip will cover the drive to Iowa, playing on the Field of Dreams, pizza in Madison, WI, a Brew Town Hot Brown at the Comet Cafe, and the Miller Brewery Tour.

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3 Responses to “Baseball Nirvana: Five Friends Journey To Milwaukee And Iowa. Part 1”

  1. joe Says:

    Going to Cooperstown. My film has been selected for the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum Independent Film Festival. Oh Boy!

  2. Tom Spirakis Says:

    I would hardly call it an obsession. Everything else is dead accurate.

  3. Justin Kleinfeld Says:

    yes, It’s a bad obsession.

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