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Bleeding red April 29, 2006

Posted by Matt Hurst in Uncategorized.

It was at the end of an exam when I got the call but couldn’t answer for fear of invalidation. An associate of mine, Miss Manley, had scored the kind of fix that junkies of a different breed have been known to sacrifice half a year’s salary for – two Cardinals tickets. It’s all I needed to hear. I heard myself muttering out loud “what the hell? take the ticket, offer the ride”.
The NEW Busch Stadium is the latest is high-tech gimmickry and Authentic Baseball Expeince(TM). A marvellous collosium built almost overnight, in the downtown of a second-rate metropolitan city. NEW Busch represent the culmination of thousands of years of architecture with the hegemony of cultural imperialism. For the affordable cost of a $430 million bond to be payed over the next 30 years by the taxpayers of St. Louis County, we have been promised a stadium so electirfying accross the Cardinal nation that tourism would exceed that of the Gateway Arch. All things considered, NEW Busch Stadium has the charecterising quality of looking exactly like every NEW baseball park built in the past several years – this is a baseball town after all.
Walking into the park past the massive brick facade you are immediately impressed by the ambience of the corridors; a tasteful mix of generic stadium “gourmet” food stands with television scrren tuned to the game and an overhead filled with exposed piping that reminds you of your favorite discount chain store. Only further down do you enter the exposed open air sections, offering great views of the countless sponsored sections of the park (you are after all in “Ford Family Pavillion”). There is seldom a crowd making their way to seats, if only because there are nearly half as many seats in NEW Busch as OLD Busch – they have to advertise somewhere. But NEW Busch is more than just a place to watch a baseball game; it is a family entertainment destination, filled with carnival style pitch-speed games and a “Build-a-bear” workshop.
As we made our way to our seats (two rows behind the centerfield line) and the game got underway, we couldn’t help but notice the visual extravanganza around us. Even with our back turned to the megatron video scoreboard there were full color, wrap around lcd displays between seat levels. They are there for one singular (heh) purpose – to offer advertising inteaction of a new, deeper level. Sure, you could watch a baseball game, but you could also watch and submit text messages from the crowd’s cell phone users. I watched with eager intrigue – would the crowd use the merging of technology as a public paging system or like a chat room. AS it became obvious that the crowd was more interested in giving public shout outs and decries, I knew I had to make my own contribution. I won’t name the wireless communications company running this $2.99 per message operation, except to say they purvey in their own “family pavillion” (there are 2 I found), who isn’t ready to let the know that “Brian, I’m gay – Dolly”. This is after all a family ballpark, right Bubba?
In case you actually cared, the Cardinals played the Pittsberg Pirates like a salmon plays with a girzzly bear. To say that the Cardinals have a good shot at the pennant this season would be like calling the midterm elections a good chance for the Democratic party. That might be a poor example to follow, but the primary difference is that the Cardinals might actually create this opportunity. They have been second only to a team in New York who share a similar frustration with the Red Sox over the past several years, yet haven’t won a World Series since 1982. But hell, it’s not like I work for The Sporting News (who seem to make this pick every year). Consitancy is a rare thing for franchises in this cuthroat league where the team with the largest payroll will always be consistant.
The only constant, change, is what led me here. This is a whole new game, a whole new park. If a $7 plastic bottle of local beer (sold natonally) isn’t much to your liking, you can always have your publishing company buy one of the new club boxes (double those in OLD Busch). From there you should have a catch a clear view of the eastern downtown skyline (from the open section of the park facing the arch), the unfinshed seat sections immideiately to their left, or at least a glimpse of your companies’ advertised section (double points for fast food chains). Anything but baseball. Even the least affluent fans below and above them can grab a taste of the sweet life at a cost within reach; it is only a short walk around to the bar behind home plate. Imagine the luxury of watching a game in plastic seats, sipping eagerly on your premium ginintonic.
In between innings, your thereby necessary visit to the restroom represents the fullest in gender equality. Despite the controversy over inadiquate numbers of bathroom fixtures, disproportionately favoring men’s facilities, you’ll find no gender bias in the park. Men wait in line just as far outside their respective restrooms as those provided for the fairer sex. In case you wonder, the line is even longer if you want to sit. There isn’t even a need to take an additional smoking break, as the designated smoking areas of the ballpark are located immediately outside the restrooms. No need to however, as I worked my way back to my seat with a plate full of thinly disgusised funnel cake: the drink straws will do the trick for you.
Yes sir, nothing is more American than going to a baseball game.



1. eazymeat6969 - May 2, 2006

this entire post made me very sad.

not that i regret having read it; the sadness i meant comes from recalling vividly games at the “old” busch stadium, the lumbering old behemoth of barbed wire and concrete. not unlike a prison complex, really…but there was something so endearing about that. it looked, felt and smelled like an actual ball game there. not the kind on TV with advertisements scrolling ‘cross the bottom of the screen, but a genuine, firmly-attached stadium for SPORTS. all the corporate sponsorship was overwhelmed by its gray, cumbersome allure. hell…it even had an old-timey hand-moved scoreboard, which i had the pleasure of visiting once. what a marvel of a place.

i haven’t been to the new stadium, just outside it….and it looks like all the other stadiums i see on TV. it’s not ugly or pretty, it just blends in. the old-style architecture (the kind that won’t look old, just outdated, in 20 years) clashes horribly with the electric moving billboards surrounding it. i don’t know what to say, really….i’m not a baseball fan, but that’s one more hollow enterprise where there previously hadn’t been one.

2. skewgee - May 4, 2006

as usual, well stated sir. but really, i can’t help but make light of bad things. many apoligies

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