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:: Monday, July 12, 2004 ::

:: Ballpark Tour Wrapup ::
"There's much to love about a ballpark -- even the homeliest, most desolate one,"
- Eric Neel

I didn't realize until I was sorting through the photo of the trip over the weekend but there's a small part of me that can't believe that we did this thing. I remember a series of Mastercard "Priceless" commercials about three years ago and it was about a couple of guys going around the country trying to visit every major league ballpark. Guys like us can't help but think that something like that would be royally cool but unfortunately for most, it's mostly a dream. If you were to tell me then that I would do what I just did, I'd probably laugh.

As great as the trip was, it'd be almost pointless unless you shared the experience with a good friend and fellow baseball enthusiast. It's better when someone else is there to take in the sights and sounds... and smells (mmmm Fenway Franks)... of your surroundings.

It's just different in there. We live in a country that rightfully encourages individuality, and yet when you're inside a ballpark you're part of a mass that gloriously wishes misfortune on their hated rivals. Even when rooting for the visitors, you're still a part of a pocket of individuals standing firmly behind your guys. On the way there, you're just another guy in traffic or some anonymous passanger on a train. But once you step into a ballpark, you're part of a common vision.

On any given day, there's going to hundred of kids (of all ages) waiting eagerly for their chance to catch a fly ball that in reality, your odds of catching one is almost up there with buying the winning ticket. But that's what it means to love baseball. Having an unwavering faith and an undying loyalty, not just in your team, but in looking forward to and hoping for those brief, historic moments of greatness that stick with your forever.

There's that hallowed *crack* of the bat when your outfielder hits a homer. There's that righteous *pop* in the catchers mitt when your ace strikes out the guy to end the inning. The palpable murmur among fans waiting in anticipation whenever there's a meeting on the mound. And you can't help but smile whenever some diehards start that rally cry of "Yankees suck!"

At PNC, you have Manny's. Camden has Boog's, and Citizen's Bank has Bull's. All serving chunks of meat slathered in a sweet and salty barbecue sauce that would do most restaurants proud. There's the near-infinite varieties of sausages you can try (Italian, Polish, Bratwust) and sandwiches you can scarf (BBQ, Cuban, cheesesteak, and Primanti's). But you can't forget the one ballpark mainstay: the glorious, all-American hotdog. It's the perfect reason to order yourself a third beer. If I may paraphrase Gordon Gecko, gluttony is good.

These things are all inherently good. If Webster was a baseball fan, you'd see a picture of a baseball diamond next to the word "good." Even when the baseball is bad, people will still show up in droves because it's still good. This is what something as storied as baseball can do. It inspires. It draws people together and unites them. People will revere it, people will write songs and create movies about it. Families and friends will not only go to a ballpark, but will a make pilgrimages to one.

Baseball is good.

:: Miscellaneous Ramblings by Dan-E at 8:22 PM [+] :: | 0 comments

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