J.R. and Henry: Trip to new Busch Stadium an event
The crack of the bat. The sound of the baseball hitting the mitt. The beer man hawking cold ones at a ridiculously high price (7.50 for 16 ounces of Bud?). Ah, yes, those are the sounds of summer. The comforting sounds you expect to hear when you’re entering the ball park on a lazy summer evening.
But that’s not what greeted us when we walked into the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis to watch the second game of the Los Angeles Dodgers – St. Louis Cardinals series. Not by a long shot.
“Eight, six, seven, five, three, oh-ni-e-ine . . . Eight, six, seven, five, three, oh-ni-e-ine . . . Jenny, Jenny, who can I turn to?”
Tommy Tutone. Before you get too excited, it wasn’t really him. Just an ’80s group rocking away in a small park area behind the centerfield wall. Complete with white tank top, gold chain, mullet and space boots. When they started cranking out “Centerfold,” we bought a couple of turkey legs and sat down for a listen.
That’s the way it is at the new Busch. It’s not just for baseball fans anymore. They’ve got live music, batting cages, small museums, and plenty of concessions.
Those aren’t necessarily bad things. In fact, it’s kind of fun. It’s like going to a mini-fair for rich people. Only no carneys.
But whatever they’re doing at the new Busch, they’re doing it right. Both Friday night’s game and Saturday afternoon’s game were packed, even with the sun beating down on Saturday with temperatures in the 100 degree range. The old Busch actually seated more fans, so the reduction of seats combined with the newness of the park have made it a tough ticket all year. In fact, our tickets were standing room only (Arktimes.com is still working on those press passes), and they had to add more standing areas by freshly drawing chalk lines strategically around the stadium.
Of course it helps that St. Louis has always been a good baseball town blessed with good fans. And the team is leading the division.
The games were fun for us as Cardinals’ fans, since the Cards won both on their way to a four-game sweep of the Dodgers. Especially Saturday’s game which was won on Scott Rolen’s walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Before those extra inning fireworks, we were standing by a guy who claimed to have visited 30 ball parks, including the old Busch Stadium. He said he liked the new stadium, but missed the old one, which he described as “pure baseball.” Maybe he didn’t like Tommy Tutone.
But it got us to thinking. Do all the extras take away from the game itself?
Not really. When Rolen was batting in the bottom of the 10th, we couldn’t even remember the lyrics to “867-5309.”
In other words, whatever happens around it, once you’re in your seats (or your assigned standing area) the game is still the same. One of the beautiful and timeless things about sports in general.
J.R. and Henry blog their sports column exclusively on Little Rocking.