Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 11.2. Lincoln Saltdogs; Lincoln, NE. WOOOOOOOOO! Indeed, and Never Call Nebraska Conventional.

After our first game of day 11 in Omaha, Ben and I decided to take U.S. 6 instead of I-80 back to the hotel in Lincoln for a rest before the second part of our doubleheader. Now, we took U.S. 6 because there's something up there that has no earthly business in a Maine hayfield. By which I mean, no earthly business anywhere in Nebraska. Which is more than a thousand miles from any meaningful water source requiring this entity's presence.

I'm pretty sure Nebraska isn't any Native American dialect's word for “land with any non-river water source whatsoever.”

But it provided some amusement and a good photo-op, so I'll allow it. We then headed back to our hotel for an uneventful three hours until the Lincoln Saltdogs and Gary Railcats that night. And man am I glad we rested up.

1.) The park's address is on Line Drive. Ben and I prefer to think this is a coincidence driven by the presence of a man named John (or possibly Silas) Line in the club's history rather than the worst (best?) pun ever.

2.) The best vendor we've seen on the trip so far. He was a Mexican fellow who would come down into each section shouting “LEEEEEEEEEEEMONADE LEMONADE LEMONADE! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”.

3.) Or, if had funnel cakes, he would come down screaming “YUMMY! YUMMY! YUMMY!” to which the entire crowd would respond “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” just like Ric Flair. And then the guy would balance this huge tray of funnel cakes on his head while serving them. It was unbelievable. Audience call and response with a vendor? I've never seen that at a ballgame before. Lincoln, you win.

4.) Although they were the opponents', the Gary Railcats wore very stylish old school striped high socks with their uniforms. Which is why they won 10-0.

5.) The Railcats also had their names on the backs of their jerseys. Faaaaaaancy. This is the first Independent Professional league team we've seen with that sort of cash. They're from Gary, you say?

6.) Goose Island 312 on tap. I know it's an Anheuser-Busch product now, but it's still delicious, damnit.

7.) The chili cheese dog nachos were surprisingly tasty. And even more surprisingly somehow not filling...?

8.) Live organist accompaniment throughout the game, playing appropriate songs (Three Blind Mice when the bases were loaded, for example).

9.) Now, we've seen races with kids in flippers before. And we've all seen the Dizzy Bat races, right? But can you imagine what those would be like together? Well in Lincoln, you don't have to imagine it. In a word...epic. All the more so because the announcer forgot the instructions, prematurely calling the race when it was only half over.

10.) Playing Jay-Z's “Izzo (H.O.V.A)” for Saltdog Miakel Jova's entrance music.

11.) My heckling of Gary's catcher, Valadez, from 5 feet away with such lines as “Ahahahahaha, you spend half your life in Gary!” and “Man, why not just be from East St. Louis?” He immediately struck out on 3 pitches. I'm in your heeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaad.

The Glory of Independent Professional Baseball: Seats close enough to successfully heckle players.


The parking guy who closed the road to the lot off just as we got there, then sent us on a 10-minute detour to get to the lot (which was free, by the way) from another direction. OK, but...when we came around finally 10 minutes later, the gate he had shut was re-opened and traffic was happily passing through. Nebraska's not any better at identifying parking avenues than it is at water sources, apparently.

Regularly Scheduled Metrics:
Price of Beer
6.7 pts: $5 for 24 oz of cheap beer (PBR!) or $6.50 for good beer. Apparently price differentials are a thing in Nebraska. Good for them.

Most Caloric Concession Item
4 pts: Weirdly, I think the chili cheese dog nachos were less caloric than the chili cheese fries...and maybe even than the strawberry funnel cakes.

Minor League Personalities
4 pts: Minor League Diehard? Kinda hard to have one in the independent leagues. Major League Fan? Yep, one asshole in a Cubs cap. Shocker, huh? Family Out for a Nice Night Together and Teenagers on a Date? Just like the Majors. Minor League Groupies? Alas, no. There's been a serious dearth of those outside of the women in front of us in Omaha whom the players kept winking at...or if you count the girls holding up a “We want a Jon Hamm Sandwich, and we'll be the bread” at the celebrity wiffleball game in Kansas City.

Willingness to Give Random Bloggers Free Seats

0 pts: Minimal. Monday night in Lincoln, plenty of bars around...not really conducive to tailgating. The crowd seemed to be largely families.

Funniest Roster Name
3 pts: Gavin Dickey. Look, we're not proud here at Scrappy Journeymen...

Promotion Quality
2 pts: Free programs, but that's about it. They had lots of coupons to hand out to other sections, but none for us.

0 pts: Look, people, they're not called the Lincoln Salt & Pepperdogs, alright?

Men's Room
9 pts: Our first 1-urinal non-handicapped men's room! But it wasn't a trough, so I can't bring myself to give it full points.

Bonus points
+1 for Line Drive, +5 for the live organist, +10 for the vendor's amazing shtick and rapport with the audience, +2 for the old school socks, +1 for 312 on tap, +3 for combining flipper races with dizzy bats. Brilliant!, -1 for the idiot parking attendant, +1 for being close enough to effectively heckle the opponents' catcher

Total: 49.7

Final take: Don't let the point total fool you. The vendor, live organist, remarkably cheap beer for a non-Thirsty Monday, and sadistic on-field contests made this one of our most enjoyable stops! If only they hadn't been thoroughly ground into a fine paste by Gary... 7.5/10.

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