On Opening Day, my husband and I like to arrive early to catch all the hoopla. We dodged the traffic backups on I-94 by taking city streets to the stadium and arrived in less than a half-hour. We joined the line waiting for the doors to open, feeling like we were out for a walk in the park.
My nomination for the coldest place in southeastern Wisconsin in early spring is the area near the "Hot Corner," where the walkway beneath the overpass becomes a chin- and hand-numbing wind tunnel.
This year, I hardly noticed the gusts. Before the doors opened, all of us eager fans stood in a casual line, breathing in scents of grilled burgers and dogs and churning up dreams of a victorious season. On that day, my optimism is at its peak.
In my seat on the third-base side, the sun was sizzling. Instantly, my jeans and long-sleeved shirt felt hot, and I realized my nose was going be sunburned.
A family reunion
When you attend a lot of games, you get to know the people who sit around you. The truth is, each season, I see this batch of people more than I see some of my very best friends.
As I had hoped, the regulars were there. Sandy drove down from Manitowoc, Wis.; Mark and Stephanie walked down the hill from their house just a few blocks away; Keith motored over from Madison, Wis.; the young women next to us (who used to squeal for J.J. Hardy) arrived with their hands full of beer bottles and overflowing brats; Ann and Dave (the ones who bring the little boys all decked out in Brewers gear) glided into their seats just after the first pitch.
I always forget how powerful Prince Fielder looks at the plate. The guy swings so hard, sometimes he looks as if he's going to knock himself down. I love to describe the intricacies of Ryan Braun's preparation before he steps into the batter's box. I was delighted to note he hasn't tweaked it much. The two high swings were there -- the adjustment of each wristband, too -- along with at least one pinch of dirt from around the batter's box that gets dusted off by both hands, followed by the obliteration of the back line of the batter's box by his right toe. The routine must work. The guy is a great hitter.
Nobody looks more excited to be back on the field than Rickie Weeks. His wrist must be strong, because he's hitting the ball well, and his fielding is as flashy as ever. It didn't take long for me to get excited over Alcides Escobar's speed and brilliance on the field.
It was a grand afternoon. The only defect in a perfect day was the final score.