Bull Durham the movie fame. They play in a great stadium only a few miles from my house, and seeing them play is easily one of the great night out opportunities in town. You'll pay $4 to park, and you can sit anywhere in the stadium for $8 and have an excellent view. Wanna be a high roller? Premium seats (low and over the dugouts; or just to the outside of the infield safety nets, but under the roof) are only $19. Sound spendy? Well consider the fact that the ticket includes a $5 rebate on all concessions in the stadium (gifts, fan wear, food and drink). That means that you only have to pay an extra $2 for your first beer! You could take your best guy or girl out to a movie, but that will cost about the same and all you'll have is a migraine from the horrible focus and earsplitting audio to show for it. At Durham Bulls stadium you get baseball, freshair, the finest selection of carnival-grade foods, and access to at least three microbreweries. Honestly, if you like your best guy or girl at all, there is no comparison.
Last night the fella and I went to the ballpark for the kind of game that happens very rarely. World Series MVP and Japanese All Star Hideki Matsui played a rehab assignment for the Bulls' parent MLB team, the Tampa Bay Rays, in Durham. That's pretty awesome, full stop. But how's this? The opposing pitcher was Daisuke Matsuzaka (Dice-K) who is returning to the Boston Red Sox after Tommy John surgery via his rehab assignment with the Pawtucket Red Sox. So, for $8 the good people of Central North Carolina got to watch a match-up that would normally cost them closer to $100 just to get in the gate (i.e., at Fenway Park or Yankees Stadium, where the two last met). Rumor had it that Kevin Yukilis was also supposed to be on the Paw Sox roster, but he wasn't. No matter, cause that would have been gilding the lilly. I'm pretty sure there are very few people who read this blog who give a flying firetruck about any of this, but I assure you it was Pretty. Damn. Awesome. All the evidence you need was in the fact that the Thursday night game was sold out, and at least 10% of the fans in the stadium were Japanese. For those fans in particular, this was clearly a very exciting event. I wish I'd worn my "I heart Japan" t-shirt.
For the fella and me, this was our third game of the season. Admittedly that isn't that many for two people as excited as we are about watching live baseball, but there is plenty of time yet to earn our stripes. In fact, we are going again tomorrow night. Dice-K will be long gone, but Matsui will still be there slugging his way back into the majors. So, in his honor, I give you his signature at-bat song: