*This post has nothing to do with the Mets*
Why is minor league baseball so awesome? Because it cost my girlfriend and I a grand total of $20 to go to sit in the first row of a Triple-A game, down 8 beers, meet the General Manager of the ballclub, and heckle the shit out of some players.
The Tucson Padres are the AAA affiliate of the San Diego Padres (no shit?). My girlfriend is in a sports marketing class, so she got extra credit for essentially going to a baseball game and getting drunk. As if that’s not cool enough by itself, the GM of the ballclub spoke to us and a bunch of other students, which was intriguing but not really the main part of this story.
The best part about minor league baseball is in the interaction between fan and player, fan and coach. In the 6th inning we moved from a few rows up in the general admission area (which goes first base towards the outfield) down to the first row so we could heckle. By that time everyone was pretty smashed, or they used the dollar beer night as an excuse to act like an asshole.
Either way, the first few rows had an immensely entertaining dialogue with the opposing team’s first baseman and the home team’s first base coach. Both had let’s say, hair that looked a little better than ‘I just got out of bed.’ Our section was determined to find out whether or not they used the same hair product, saw the same hair stylist and so on. A few of the girls behind us asked if the first base coach was married (thumbs up or thumbs down) and we guessed his age. I think the guys in the uniforms had as much fun as we did.
But the funniest part of all was when the opposing team’s first baseman came to bat. By this time we had learned a bit about him and adopted him as a road team hero, in a sort of mocking way. Thus, the entire section stood up, gave him a standing ovation and began chanting his name. He must have been motivated because he went 2-2 during the time period in which we treated him like Pujols.
Anyhow, at the end of the night I caught the attention of one of the opposing team’s pitchers and said, “Hey #27, #6 is being a dick and won’t give us a ball.” So, he smiled and laughed and told me to wait by putting his finger in the air as if to say, “one sec.” As soon as the game ended he tossed one my way and I gave it to the lady, of course. We later learned that he’s a pretty damn good pitcher. It goes without saying he was incredibly nice.
So, the point of the story? Beer is good. The other point is that sometimes fans forget that baseball players can be funny as hell. They put up with a lot of crap from fans, especially in an environment like a minor league park where everything can be heard. It put us all in a good mood that they were friendly and responsive even after probably more than an hour of ridiculous running commentary. These guys have more important things to worry about so it’s refreshing to see them get a kick out of the fans during a ballgame.