Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Bop from Bud on Opening Day

Some things can only happen in Milwaukee.

Celebrating baseball's Opening Day, with the Brewers on the road in Cincinnati, my Beloved Spousal Unit and I went to lunch at Gilles Frozen Custard, our favorite burger stand. There we planned to listen to Brewers announcer and veteran funnyman Bob Uecker, the happy survivor of recent health problems, kick off the new season's radio broadcasts. Located within a pop fly of her high school, just up Blue Mound Road from Miller Park, Gilles has been a favorite indulgence of Milwaukee natives and Brewers fans for decades. Wearing my Brewers cap and blue jacket, Opening Day essentials after a long Milwaukee winter, I trundled inside to order our Big Daddy burgers and shakes.

Whereupon, I espied the Big Daddy of Major League Baseball, Commissioner Allan H. "Bud" Selig, chatting amiably with the Gilles owner while taking his lunch break. It's well-chronicled that baseball is Selig's third most favorite thing in life, after his family and lunch at Gilles. The Commish orders his daily hot dogs with relish and retreats to his Lexus to plot the destiny of the National Pastime. (You can tell it's an important phone call if the brake lights of the Lexus are lit while he's parked.)

This is roughly equivalent to FIFA President Sepp Blatter keeping England and Germany from starting a war over World Cup groupings while chowing down on a liverwurst sandwich at a Zurich Imbiß after exchanging views with the Wurstmacher. Every day.

You have to understand Milwaukee to get this: it's no big deal for a 50-year old kid, or anyone else, to greet the Commish at Gilles, even when he doesn't know you from Adam. I hailed the chief in passing, an appreciative fan at the start of a new season: "It's a great day, Mr. Selig!" Wearing my Brewers hat while I did so -- the dopey one that spells out BREWERS in block letters -- earned me a knowing smile and a bop on the arm from Bud. The man may no longer own the team he saved from oblivion at least twice, and he may still have to disclaim any trace of residual partiality, but behind the two hot dogs with relish lives an exuberant Robin Yount fan.

Like March itself, today's ballgame came in with a roar but ended baa-aa-aa-adly. Back-to-back lead-off blasts by Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez to start the game had Milwaukee fans all a-Twitter, a good times feeling enhanced by more solid hitting and a defensive gem by Casey McGehee at third. Sadly, a game-long comeback by the Reds, capped by a walk-off pop by Ramon Hernandez, spoiled the day for Brewers fans, with closer John Axford playing the unaccustomed role of Goat-for-a-Day. Still, in this season of rare high expectations for the Crew, featuring a handful of postseason-worthy starting aces and enough offense for a team and a half, there's every reason to believe the Brewers will compete for a division title, and maybe more.

If that happens, I'm pretty sure the brake lights on the Lexus in the Gilles parking lot will be not just lit but flashing. With relish.

1 comment:

  1. nice written about baseball and as well as on food.



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