I have to admit I was a little worried about the weather Tuesday. As it turned out, the heat wasn’t oppressive and didn’t take away from my experience at the Kane County Cougars’ Elfstrom Stadium.
What did mar the otherwise-enjoyable night for me, however, was a pair of undertrained employees who didn’t seem able to think on their feet. (That’s why I’m making sure to attend multiple games at every Midwest League ballpark, so one bad experience alone doesn’t ruin a stadium’s reputation.)
The evening started well enough. It was Bark in the Park night, so my wife and I brought our dog to the park. We got to walk around the field with him, which was cool. Right before we reached the exit point, a baseball landed behind me, so I picked it up and threw it to the Cougars player coming to get it — their starting pitcher, Yordano Ventura. (I’ve got high expectations for Ventura now. I want to be able to tell this story about a Hall-of-Famer someday — though I suppose I’d settle for him becoming a major-league All-Star.)
After the dog parade on the field, my wife took our dog back to our lawn seats to get settled while I walked over to the area of the concourse behind home plate to take a picture of the game’s starting lineups.
After I did that, I decided to stop in the souvenir shop since there was still time before the game started. I bought a Cougars cap (on sale for $10) and a logo baseball (I’m going to buy one at each of the ballparks and put them in a 16-ball display case) — but because of a register malfunction and a young cashier who needed to be told that she could still accept cash and write down the transactions by hand — I had to listen to the National Anthem (performed beautifully by a church choir) while waiting very patiently in line. I almost missed the first pitch, too, but got rung up just in time to watch the first at-bat of the game while walking back to my seat on the lawn.
The game itself was a good one. Ventura and Greg Billo, a pair of 20-year-old Cougars right-handers, combined to shut out the Bowling Green Hot Rods 3-0 in a game that lasted just over two hours. They limited the Hot Rods offense to four singles.
DH Ryan Stovall drove in the first run for the Cougars with a RBI double, and scored the team’s third run on a wild pitch. LF Julio Aparicio homered for the second run — which I missed because a woman passing out canine treats was talking to me about my dog.
Although it bothered me to miss the home run, that wasn’t as bad as when I was ordering food at the grilling area above the lawn. There are multiple places where you can order food in that area, but there is nothing that specifies which line to get in to order what you want (except for the roasted sweet corn stand, which is clearly marked). I walked up to the first available food server and asked for a footlong Polish dog, and he responded by staring blankly at me without saying a word.
“That’s all,” I said, thinking maybe he was waiting for me to complete my order.
Another awkward pause. Then, finally, the kid told me I’d have to order my desired food item “over there.” He didn’t point “over there,” so I pointed where I assumed he meant, and asked him if that was where he was talking about. He mumbled something in the affirmative and I swiftly moved on.
At least the food was good. Incidentally, the lemonade at Elfstrom Stadium is a perfect thirst-quencher when the temperature is well into the 90s.
I’m going back to Elfstrom Stadium on Friday. Hopefully I’ll have a better all-around experience at the ballpark then.