I’ve debated several different ways to write this post. As my first “off–topic post” in well over a year, I’d like to get it right. I’ve had a few false starts and scrapped first drafts – none of which were what I would consider worthy of publishing even on a humble blog such as this. I attest most of this lack of wordsmithing ability to an overabundance of nitrates, cholesterol, trans fats, calories, and grease. Over the past three days I’ve consumed much, much more food than an average infantry battalion’s daily rations. Seven hot dogs. Not just any hot dogs, though. Three smokeys (a cross between a hot dog and a brat – with mustard and kraut), two all–beefs (which are still larger than average franks), and two chili–cheese dogs with mustard and onions. All of that equals nearly five feet of processed meat. And this number doesn’t include any of the other meals or snacks, mind you. A batting helmet full of nachos (with cheese, salsa, and jalapeños), two bags of peanuts, the leftovers of my wife’s pulled–pork BBQ sandwich, and two helpings of the best Chinese food (thanks to KungFood Chu’s AmerAsia) I’ve ever encountered. In fact, the final sentences of my journal entry from the final night of our trip read, “Nauseous again. Three straight days of debauchery. I’d write more but my mind and body aren’t functioning properly.”
Most of the time, I try to mind my diet. When the scales indicate that I’m growing in circumference, I limit my food intake. When my lab results indicated that my cholesterol was a touch high, I limited the meat in my diet. But this weekend was a different situation. How can anyone
eat well eat healthy at a ballpark?
My wife and I had the opportunity to attend a three–day baseball series, watching our hometown team, the Washington Nationals, play the Cincinnati Reds at the Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati. We rarely get time away from the children so we had a mixed feeling of excitement for our relaxing vacation and anxiety about not knowing every detail of our children’s lives. Fighting the perceived “need” to call the grandparents every hour or so to check on our youngest son, Turtle, we headed west to see Bryce Harper and the rest of the Nats crush the Reds.
Without children slowing us down, we somehow managed to arrive early for all three games. It always seems that we miss the national anthem at every game we attend. At our last home game, I was that guy squirting ketchup on my son’s French Fries as the familiar “Oh, say can you see…” began echoing throughout the park. But this time was going to be different. For the first game of the series, we were waiting in line well before the doors opened to the ball park. After a quick pass through security, we walked the perimeter of the park, purchased our food, and took our seats just above the visitors’ dugout. With twenty minutes left before first pitch, I suggested we make a quick trip to the restroom so that we didn’t have to leave our seats during the first few innings. Although the trip didn’t take long, we somehow missed those familiar lyrics once again. I hadn’t considered how many events occur and how much time lapses between the national anthem and first pitch.
We managed to be in our seats – or more appropriately, standing in front of our seats with our hands over our hearts – for the next two games’ renditions of the national anthem. I love baseball. I love the nostalgia and the “Americanness” of the game, and there is no more patriotic feeling than when showing the proper respect for our flag as the national anthem plays before a baseball game. It reminds me that there are still people in America who believe in what this country can be. Whether that is true or not, I can’t say for sure.
All three games were enjoyable – even if the Nats lost 2–5, 5–8, and 2–8 against the Reds. Bryce Harper was out of game two due to back pain from a seemingly intentional beaning from a Reds pitcher. But even in the two games he did play, his performance didn’t match his typically amazing skills.
I found the park to be exceptional and the fans to be friendly and polite to an “enemy in occupied territory.” On Friday, there seemed to be quite a few fellow Nats fans in the park, but on Saturday and Sunday, I was a bit concerned that we’d be drawn and quartered for our attire and cheers. Fortunately, the Reds fans were awesome and other than a little joshing, there were no altercations to mention. In fact, several of the fans were rather nice and complimentary. One fan, dressed in Reds regalia, told me that this was his first game attendance this season and that he only came because he wanted to see Harper play. What a compliment to our team!
Another fan who sat beside me during game three, heard me praising baseball legend, Pete Rose. Shortly thereafter, he leaned over and told me that Pete was sitting just behind home plate.
Although the Nats lost all three games, we had a great time visiting the park, watching the games, and eating. Oh, how I love ball park food! My waistline, my healthy eating plan, and my desire to lower my cholesterol barely entered my mind as I consumed more over a three day period than I usually do in over a week.
Perhaps my next blog series should be “How to Lose Seven Pounds and Lower Your Cholesterol after a Baseball Series.”