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Welcome to the Duck Pond

June 12, 2005

I promised the Mallards would get their own post, and here it is.

mallards-logo.jpg

The Madison Mallards are the semi-pro baseball team of Madison, Wisconsin. My brother is a fan, and I enjoy going to their games, probably more so than any other sporting event I’ve been too. I like them because of all the extra not-game stuff going on. No one has heard of the players, and although we’re all rooting for the home team, no one is too invested in worrying about whether they’ll win or lose. So they have to make up for it with extras.

Between innings they invite kids onto the field for pie-eatting contests and wacky relay races. They give away tons of free stuff from local sponsors (last night I ended up with a Mallards toothbrush!). And anytime a foul ball ends up in the stands, the catcher can exchange the ball for a free hot dog at the snack bar, courtesy of Oscar Meyer, which has a big plant in town. This leads the announcer to yell “Wwwwwww…einer” whenever a foul ball is heading out, which warns absentminded fans, like me, to watch out. It also encourages folks to purchase T-shirts like this…

mallards-weiner.jpg

And then there’s the beer. To understand beer in Wisconsin, you must first understand that Mallards games are family events. Small children are everywhere. They carry around baseballs and sharpies to get the players autographs, and they follow around the mascots who walk through the stands. That said, beer is still an important part of the game. For example, to work up the crowd, the announcer declares one batter on the opposing team as the beer batter of the night. If this poor guy strikes out, then beer is half price for the rest of the inning. The loudest cheers of the night come when this guy has two strikes. And when he strikes out, and beer is cheap, the fans pour from the stands until there’s no one left to watch the game. Last night after the beer batter struck out my brother went to get us drinks. The people behind him were debating whether to get one or two each. Hey, it’s half price, right? The people in front of him were debating whether to get two or four beers each. They settled on four.

At major league games the alcohol stops following after the seventh inning stretch. Not here. If the beer batter strikes out during extra innings, then there’s still half price beer for everyone. Wisconsin’s pretty comfortable with it’s drinking.

But in case, with all this talk of fried cheese and beer, you get the wrong idea, do remember that this isn’t just anywhere in Wisconsin, it’s Madison. So along with fried cheese from the concession stand these snacks are also available. Go ahead, click the picture to read the menu:

We are back at home now, and for the first time in a year, this is a good thing. Because we are in our not-smelly, not-racoon infested apartment. And because we have learned that Fort Wayne also has a semi-pro baseball team. Go Wizards!

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