A Quick Trip To Miller Park and The Cell – Thanks To Layoffs At Sears

8/15/2011

I’m on a plane to Chicago today.  It’s been a crazy and unexpected week at work.  The Automotive segment of Sears did a complete restructure that saw quite a few Commercial and Region Managers (including my boss) lose their jobs.  So what was I offered out of all of this?  A promotion.  I turned it down because I didn’t want to travel as much as the job would demand, which is ironic since I’m on another plane for work.  (I was already traveling close to 30% of the time as it was.)  That, and there’s something about all of this, the direction, the uncertainty, morale, and more, that makes my stomach hurt.  I’ve seen friends get riffed, and now my boss.  I don’t want to make sacrifices if I don’t feel like I’m going to get the same loyalty in return.  It’s not worth the impact to my family.

(* As a note, this was my last year at Sears.  I left in the summer of 2012 and never looked back.  The President and VP were gone soon after too.  The writing was on the wall, Sears was irrevocably broken.  The sad thing is that when I started working there fresh out of college, I really enjoyed it.  If you look up the words “total pooch screw” and Eddie Lampert isn’t the first name that comes up, then there’s something wrong with Google.)

Miller Park – 8/15/2011

I’ve been waiting for work to finally schedule a meeting during baseball season, it’s just too bad it’s after a virtual bloodbath at work.  While I’m nervous about the tone of tomorrow’s meeting, I’m determined to have fun today!  I’m here with my friend Ryan, a former Commercial Manager that just shifted to a District Manager In Training as part of the transition. 

Miller Park was a good experience if for no other reason than the game was terrific.  The

IMG_3063
Miller from another mother!

Brewers defense played out of their minds, highlighted by a triple play off a 4-6-3-2 flip to 2nd, to first, with Prince Fielder firing a throw to catch the runner at home.  It was an amazing play that was sure to hit Sportscenter.  (It was also one of two plays at the plate.)  There were 2 other great double plays and 3 HRs from the Brewers.  Just a great game to watch!

The drive into the park was pretty smooth with not a whole lot to look at.  Milwaukee has seen better days.  We parked at one of the lots surrounding the park; Miller Park isn’t in a commutable area of the city, it’s the park, and park owned lots.  Somehow they waved me through and I didn’t pay to park, which worked for me.

Tailgating is big in Milwaukee, like in Kansas City.  It’s wild to see such a good crowd tailgating for baseball.  Very cool.  Ryan and I walked the lot hoping to score some free food or a drink, but it didn’t work out.  (I blame Ryan.)  They have the Hank Aaron trail along the river by Miller Park.  I’ll walk the 7-mile loop next time I’m there.

Walking up to Miller Park felt like walking to Arlington.  I was surprised at how big the park was, even though it didn’t feel that big inside.  The roof looks really imposing from the outside.  I was surprised by the amount of cracking and staining on the concrete below the roof sections.  I’m sure it’s safe, but it definitely looks aged for how young the park is.

There’s a nice kid’s park and Little League field beyond the home plate entrance.  Miller Park is a very statue-heavy park, and the second park I’ve been to with a Hank Aaron IMG_3067statue, along with what I’m sure will be the only Bud Selig statue you’ll see.

Bud Selig gets a bad rap.  I think he’s done a number positive things for the game that he doesn’t’ get credit for, but dogging on Bud Selig has always been the popular thing to do.  How can they argue with the success of the Wild Card?  What about retiring Jackie Robinson’s #42?  And while it’s in its infancy, I think the World Baseball Classic will be a long term win.  (The Japan/Korea final was one of the best games I have ever seen.)  While Selig absolutely deserves criticism for the 1994 season and World Series, it’s hard to look past some solid contributions he made too.

The oddest statue for me is the ‘Worker’s Memorial’ statue for the 3 men that died working on Miller Park.  It’s a testament to teamwork, and a nice gesture, but the statue is a melting pot of 2 men and a woman… but 3 guys died.  I guess the message was the point of the statue.

I spent $10 on raffle tickets for a snow thrower signed by the team.  Only in Wisconsin.

The park itself is nice enough, but pretty standard and not particularly remarkable or unremarkable in any way.  (Other than the roof that spreads open like a hand fan.)  We had great seats that were 9 rows behind homeplate that I bought on StubHub.  It was my second away park seeing the Dodgers this summer.  It’s one of those teams that people come out for.

I had the Food Network Signature Sandwich.  Ted and I had two great sandwiches in San Diego, so I wanted to be sure to have it here too.  Milwaukee’s was a steak sandwich with a smoky, beer-heavy cheese, along with jalapenos.  The cheese was pretty nasty.  I wished that I’d gone with a brat.  I still ate it, but that cheese sent a shiver up me.  Yuck.

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Don’t get this.

Milwaukee is better known for its other signature, the sausage race.  They have 5 encased meats race from 3rd to 1st.  Spicy Italian won.  I swear they sold more souvenirs for the sausages than the team!  I’ve dialed back on buying the girls mascot animals, they don’t get much play, even with ‘Flower Field’, the custom Barbie ballfield I made.  I stuck with buying them pens instead, those at least get used.  As long as I buy them something they’re happy.

The other standout for the park is their lame slide in Left/Center that Bernie slides down

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The best slide ever?  No, you can’t go on it.

after a HR.  Gee, awesome.  A cool looking slide that only the mascot can go down.  I’m sure that goes over great the first time every kid in the park sees it for the first time.  “Sorry, Johnny!  That’s just for the mascot.”  That sucks, Dad.  Go Dodgers!  I wonder how many kids change their allegiance because of the slide.  Probably zero, but it makes me laugh anyway.  They do have a child-sized replica for kids, but let’s face it, it’s not as cool.

The true highlight of my day (sarcasm) was after the game.  It’s the first time I really didn’t pay any attention getting out of my car.  Sure enough, Ryan and I spent at least a half hour looking for it!  We were laughing about it the whole way, but still, lesson learned!  From there it was a (long feeling) drive back to Chicago.  My GPS took us the scenic route, finding any possible reason to take us off the freeway and down miscellaneous roads.  It’s too bad it was so dark, I generally wouldn’t mind the detour.

8/17/2011

After the quick trip to Milwaukee it was meeting time in Chicago.  I didn’t find out until just before the meeting started that my boss was gone.  Like gone, gone.  She knew her job was eliminated, but they wanted her to come out to the meeting anyway since we had a team meeting in Denver planned immediately after our meetings in Chicago.  (Her last day was scheduled a month out.)  Well, they changed their mind.  She showed up, they had her pop into an office, then she was off to the airport and headed home.  That’s pretty messed up.  My new boss, who had been my boss once before, decided to cancel the Denver meeting, so I called to change my plane tickets.  It was actually cheaper to fly out today than last night, even with a hotel and a car, so instead of flying out last night, I dropped a guy off at Midway then drove to US Cellular instead.  (Which worked out great for me because I was bummed I was missing another trip to Coors.)

US Cellular Field

I’ve been to “The Cell” before.  It’s been so long since I was there that I don’t remember a ton about it other than I don’t remember being impressed.  They’ve changed it up since my last time though.  The field has a good feel!  I like the pinwheel scoreboard and the open concourses.  CF has a lot of room and some great standing room areas to watch the game.  I think my favorite things were the hanging baskets at the top of the outfield rows.  It was a really nice touch.

IMG_3115They had added a giant World Series statue-monument-thing at the entrance, a double-sided slab with statues coming out of it.  I had to park at the lot ($23, ouch!) since I didn’t have time to catch a train.  I remember it was a cluster getting to the station before, but I also remember that it moved quick.  It’s definitely easier and cheaper to catch the train.

As it happens I didn’t need to worry about traffic or finding my car.  No, the crowd was great for the first 9 innings, but by the 14th inning and 12:30am, the crowd was sparse.  The Sox won and the pinwheels were lit, but no fireworks (probably because of the time). 

Like my last trip to The Cell, there weren’t a ton of food choices, mainly dogs or frozen pizza.  I had an Italian sausage with marinara and onions.  Coincidently it was Italian Heritage Night.  (I’m not Italian.)  I made sure to walk the park again, and moved seats a few times to get a different view.  Like at Dodger Stadium, you aren’t getting to the lower level without a 100 level ticket (which I think is lame, but I had a ticket, so I was fine).  I don’t like how the field is at street level, so you have to go in and immediately up ramps (plural) to get to your section.  The dents in the signage above home plate could use a touch up. 

The game itself was entertaining.  The Sox hit 5 triples, the most since 1920.  “Free baseball” with extra innings is always nice when I’m out of town too.  (Even though it only net me 4hrs of sleep at my hotel before catching the plane I’m on.)

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Moment of the night was Cabrera hitting a HR for the Indians.  A guy a few rows over catches it.  His buddies encourage him to throw it back.  He throws it back to a smattering of boos.  “Ah, the Cubs do that shit, you don’t do that here!”  Sure enough the guy gets ejected for throwing an object on the field, which I thought was hilarious.  It’s a lame ‘tradition’ anyway.

It was a long few days, but last night at The Cell, I didn’t think about work, or layoffs, or sales numbers, or where I was driving tomorrow.  I was just at a ballgame, and last night, it was just what I needed.

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