Last New Year’s Day, the Terrific Girlfriend and I were having lunch and a drink at a bar downtown after a good workout that morning. Marquette was playing Villanova in their Big East conference opener and we were decked out in some gold t-shirts as we watched the first half on one of the tvs. As we finished up our beers and our sandwiches at half-time, the manager came up behind us and said, “You two look like Marquette fans. How would you like to use the owner’s seats for the rest of the game?”
We looked at each other with a certain glee in our eyes and quickly said yes. We took the tickets and ran over to the Bradley Center. The tickets said “Row AAA”, which sounded great, but we weren’t prepared for just how great they were. It wasn’t until the usher showed us to our seats that we completely realized where we were: we were sitting in the front row, just behind Villanova’s bench. It was a truly awesome spot to watch the big Marquette victory, and a fantastic way to start the year.
And 2009 proved to be a great year. True, the Brewers played terribly in the second half and failed to return to the playoffs, but there was a lot more to the year in sports that made it one to remember. Here are a few of my highlights from the calendar year:
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- In April, we drove out to Cleveland (all 400 miles and $20 in tolls) to attend the SABR Seymour Medal Conference. It was a lot of fun. Not only did we get to meet some great people, including authors Tom Swift and Joe Posnanski, and listen to some interesting presentations, but we also got to take in a couple of Indians games. In fact, the first night we were in Cleveland someone handed us some tickets for the bleachers for free while we were walking around downtown. Sure, it was an hour-and-a-half into the game already, but, hey, I’m never going to turn down three free innings of baseball, especially to a great stadium like Jacobs Field. Oh, and on Sunday, I came within six inches and a left-hand holding a beer away from either getting smacked in the chest with a foul line-drive or catching it. That was a pretty cool experience.
- We ended up going to 16 Brewers games this year. It would’ve been more, but travel to weddings and such precluded us from using all of the tickets in our 20-pack. That was certainly a shame, but we still were able to make it to some great games. The best game we went to was probably on Memorial Day as Yovani Gallardo and the Brewers squared off against Chris Carpenter and the Cards. As I wrote at the time, the two traded off no-hit innings into the sixth and seventh innings. Carpenter ended the game with 10 Ks in eight innings, but Gallardo and the Brewers prevailed with an RBI base-hit in the bottom of the 10th inning.
- Scratch that. Maybe the best game we went to this year was the Sunday before Labor Day, when Casey McGehee, Felipe Lopez, and Prince Fielder teamed up for a beautiful 5-4-3 triple play in the sixth inning in a game against the Giants that was ultimately won in the 12th inning on a walk-off home-run by Prince Fielder (and celebrated in one of the most imaginative ways I’ve ever seen). There really wasn’t a lot to dislike about that game.
- We also got to attend a pretty fun game at Fenway Park the final week of the season. It was only my second visit to Fenway, and my first in the bleachers. The Red Sox lost the game, but they mounted a furious comeback late, scoring 5 runs in the 8th, to make it interesting. Adam Lind also pounded out three home runs that game, and might’ve gone for a fourth if Jonathan Papelbon hadn’t beaned him in the arm with the first pitch.
- Our Brewers season ended in style. At the last game of the year that we were able to attend, the Terrific Girlfriend and I were chosen by the Miller Park staff to sit in the uber-special seats out in centerfield. It was a fun way to watch the game, including a couple of mammoth centerfield home runs, and the perfect way for two people who love Miller Park and the Brewers to end their season.
- In November, long after the baseball season was finally over, I went to a Bucks-Bobcats game at the Bradley Center to see the exciting young point guard, Brandon Jennings. After sneaking down to some seats about six rows behind the Bobcats’ bench at halftime, we were quickly kicked out by the ushers. So we moved about 10 rows up and started to watch the second half. And that’s when the crowd started buzzing and we saw Michael Jordan walking down the steps. We watched the rest of the game about 10 or 12 rows behind MJ… Ok, so maybe it’s not all that cool but, let me tell you, seeing MJ is just not what you expect at a November Bucks game in Milwaukee.
- And, finally, we come to this week when, on Monday, the Terrific Girlfriend took the two of us to a Milwaukee Admirals game. You can think of the Admirals as being the triple-A hockey club of the Nashville Predators. Anyhow, for the game on Monday, we got to watch the game from the suite at center ice. Free beer, free food, the Bears beating Brett Favre on the big screen, and a chippy, high-scoring Admirals victory down on the ice from the best possible vantage point. It was about the best way a sports year like this could end.