A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Not Our Father’s Game

On Monday, I dined on shrimp kabob on flatbread, a nice chi-chi creation of tomatoes, lettuce, crumbled blue cheese, and tzatziki sauce served atop a toasted flatbread. In other words, a gyro with shrimp. I was served this meal at Citizens Bank Park, the major league baseball venue in Philadelphia.

The day before I had a pizza cheesesteak sandwich also at The Bank.  Attending a Phillies game two days in a row is a new record for me. Also, the Phillies winning two games in a row is a new record for them in the second half of the 2013 season, but I digress.

Yes, these culinary delights which my blue collar family in northeast Philly would have dismissed as yuppie food just a few short years ago was offered in a ballpark. A ballpark where the native species of nourishment are hot dogs, peanuts, and beer. The other venues at Citizens Bank Park offer these traditional staples, in addition to hoagies, cheesesteaks, barbecue pork and beef, pizza, hamburgers, and salads.

Salads! Greens…at a ballpark! And I’m not talking about the green grass on the field!

This is nothing new: an entire generation has now grown up accustomed to these upgrades to the traditional entertainment known as professional sports. The game of baseball hasn’t changed that much - if you discount their sudden move to suspend drug-enhanced players recently - but the play in the stands has been substantially upgraded since I was growing up. I may be showing my age when I can remember going to Connie Mack Stadium and our food options consisted of hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts, and/or the candied combination of popcorn and peanuts. 
Ah, but back then you actually paid money to watch a game being played. These days, the entertainment value has grown (along with ticket prices). Now, it’s watch a game (maybe), eat fatty style food, drink beer, eat, watch the team mascot cavort on the field and…did I mention eating? How could I have overlooked this aspect?

Truly, the game of baseball has grown up. Some sports geeks may still update their score cards when the home team scores, but many baseball patrons entertain themselves in the stands as if nothing is happening on the field. They party with food and beer, text their friends, and generally have a raucous good time and, oh, why is everyone else yelling? Oh, John Mayberry just hit a three run shot a few feet shy of Harry the K’s Bar and Grille. Good for him! Now let me get back to noshing on my dollar hot dog.

Even the mascot himself, The Phillie Phanatic, gets into the food entertainment game. Between halves of one selected inning, this overgrown, green furry refugee from (supposedly) the Galapagos Islands rides out on a motorized buggy with a weapon that is designed to shoot tightly packed hot dog sandwiches into the crowd. The food, wrapped in paper and what looks like duct tape from a distance, is loaded into the cannon and fired up into the stands.

Technically, this does not qualify as a food fight. This is more of a…what shall we call  it…drive-by fooding?

Where else but in America could a large green furry creature who is possibly an illegal immigrant fire high-cholesterol threatening treats at a crowd that eats it up, no pun intended. Yes, entertain us some more! Throw more free food at us! We love it!

I wonder if this facet of entertainment ever occurred to people like Shakespeare. Imagine, if you will, the curtain coming down on Act One of Hamlet at London’s Globe Theater, circa 1604. As the theater goers mill around for whatever they did to pass the time during intermission in 1604, the curtains suddenly part, and a large green creature lumbers to the front of the stage and begins flinging fish and chips into the crowd. 

Alas, history is cruel, for there are no such incidents recorded for our education. We can only speculate at this very early appearance of the Philly Phanatic.

Baseball is no longer our father’s game. Gone are the days of limited menus, smoking in the stands (I know secondhand smoke is very bad for my already diseased heart, but the stench of a stogie still brings back pleasant childhood memories of my father taking me to a Phillies game.) And sports writers looked the other way when the alcoholic and sexual appetites of the game's heroes became blatantly obvious. (Yes, this is a snarky reference to the Sultan of Swat!)

So eat up and cheer the home team. It’s all in the name of having fun and forgetting the stress of life for a few hours. Just try not to get mustard on your scorecard.

(Thank you for reading. I must now go entertain myself with breakfast.)


Anonymous Janey said...

I attended the last game ever played at Connie Mack stadium, with my father and brother...

August 21, 2013 at 9:08 AM  
Blogger Harpers Keeper said...

I haven't been to a games in many years but you remind me that it was a fun way to spend an evening; the bleachers at (the old) Tiger Stadium where the beer cups were smaller lest those of us in the cheap seats get too rowdy.

We always parked near the Wonder Bread factory because it was free and if you got lost you could follow the smell of the bread back to your car. The Tigers have moved a few miles downtown to a new stadium and the Wonder Bread factory is now a casino.

August 21, 2013 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Hi Janey! WHOA! Now I am totally impressed! Seriously, no sarcasm here! I loved that park! I once tried to build a model of it out of popsicle sticks. (The remains of that model are still in my garage.) So, did you, your father or your brother take home any souvenirs that night?

Hi Harper's Keeper. Thanks for your memories. Isn't it strange that memories can be triggered by a sweet aroma of food or some other agreeable substance?

August 21, 2013 at 6:56 PM  
Blogger David Jeffreys said...

"what shall we call it…drive-by fooding?"

Say what????

August 21, 2013 at 10:06 PM  
Anonymous Janey said...

We took backboards from the field; I sold them years later to an enthusiast seeking to recreate that park.

My father still has our attendance certificates somewhere...

August 22, 2013 at 7:25 AM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Hi David! Thanks for your comment. What can i say? "Food" and "shooting" equals "fooding". It works for me!

Janey, Janey, Janey! You sold your stake in baseball history? I hope you used it to pay for something worthwhile like college tuition, and not something tawdry like an ounce of(insert favorite controlled substance here0. Thanks for writing!

August 22, 2013 at 7:00 PM  
Anonymous Janey said...

I was already through college, so it is indeed likely that I spent the money on a half-ounce...
(I got $100 for each of the two boards, one of which was my brother's, so I gave him his share.)

The collector was in his 20's, and obsessed with receating Connie Mack Stadium. He even had a map showing which boards he had and which he needed. I should have held out for more money, but it was in the late '80s, and $100 was a windfall to me then.

If I ever find the certificates, would you want them -- for free?

Also, I went to one of the last games at Veteran's Stadium; again, Sal probably has the memorabilia.

And those were the two professional baseball games I have attended in my gay life. :-)

August 23, 2013 at 7:31 AM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Hi Janey! Anne Marie and I attended the last game at Veterans Stadium; we still had season tickets then. We stayed until everyone else left their seats and watched the grounds crew dig up the pitchers rubber. No that's not a double entendre. We still have our memorabilia...somewhere.

August 25, 2013 at 5:28 PM  

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