On the Road: Just Another Friday Night in Appleton, Wisconsin

Part One of my “On the Road” Wisconsin Timber Rattlers blog post ended as my “On the Road” blog posts so often do — with a toilet paper first pitch.

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Please note that my toilet paper first pitch (part of a much larger “Salute to Paper” promotion) was delivered in proper overhand fashion. As soon as it reached its intended destination, I hustled up to the concourse in order to start a prolonged food and beverage portion of the evening, as that’s just what it is that I was put on this planet to do. I guess.

I started things off with my first-ever #Cupdate, a new ballpark initiative spurred on by Pedro Golkin’s eloquent pleading in a recent guest blog post. I’m new to the #Cupdate game, and as of yet I’m failing to provide the cup stats and folklore that some enthusiasts demand. But I can tell you upfront that the Timber Rattlers are a cup force to be reckoned with as this is one uber-collectible piece of drinkware.

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This offering features photos of the three former Timber Rattlers who made their MLB debuts in 2012. If you can name this triumvirate of former T-Rats before scrolling down, then your brain (like mine) is filled with useless knowledge that probably gets in the way of forming meaningful relationships.

But, anyway: the three players featured are the alternate reality law firm of Thornburg, Peralta and Henderson.

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As I awoke from this cup reverie, I looked to my right and there before me were a pair of wildly gesticulating gentlemen.

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These two individuals were the evening’s “Designated Eaters,” who are recruited at every ballpark I visit to sample the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits. That’s Kyle Lobner on the left, who, in addition to running the exemplary Milwaukee Brewers-focused “Brew Crew Ball” blog, serves as an alderman for Appleton’s 13th district. On the right is Kevin Kimmes, an MLB Fan Cave Top 52 finalist, “Cream City Cables” blogger, and PA announcer for the Green Bay Bullfrogs of the summer collegiate Northwoods League.

These guys had credentials, and, also, they had food.

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Front and center is the Fang Burger, named after the Timber Rattlers’ anatomically incorrect snake mascot and featuring jalapenos, cajun mayo, cajun seasoning and pepper jack cheese. On the top right is mac and cheese on a brat, which is itself on a pretzel bun. And then, lest we forget we’re in Wisconsin, there are deep fried cheese curds.

Have at it guys!

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Kyle was enamored with, but not blown away by, his mac and cheese-topped selection. He called it “good” and praised the “strong flavor” of the brat, but keep in mind that in addition to his local politicking and professional blogging Kyle runs a macaroni and cheese-centric blog. He is a 21st century renaissance man, and really knows his stuff.

I apologize for my inadequate photographic representation of the Fang Burger, but Kimmes was able to paint a picture with his words.

“There are two huge beef patties in here, and you have to unhinge your jaw like a snake to eat it,” he said. “For me, it’s not totally over the top but the average person? It packs a serious bite. And I love the brininess of the pickled jalapenos.”

As for me? Hey, thanks for asking. While I had to go sans-bun, the Cher-Make brand brats are indeed gluten free.

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Look, you can keep the bun. That brat was so good that the only way I can think to describe it is by unhinging my jaw while banging wildly on the key board

dsgkbgfsgjnfkjnkglkkj!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If I could make like Cher I’d turn back time and eat a whole lot more Cher-Make brats!

Yes, I am the greatest of all time and, yes, I have much more to write about. As Kyle, Kevin and I were waxing rhapsodic about foodstuffs intern Shaun Marshall — who got stuck with blogger-wrangling duties for the two days in which I was in town and did a fantastic job — dutifully informed me that my presence was soon needed on the field.

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I was a contestant in a between-inning contest and, well, I’ll let you decide what was going on here.

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Obviously, I was blindfolded with toilet paper and tasked to find a stash of toilet paper on the field via the crowd’s “Warmer/Colder” exhortations. I failed miserably.

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Fang was all like “It was right there, bro” and then I was like “Yeah, whatever, like a snake with four limbs is going to make me feel bad about myself.”

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Back in the relative safety of the concourse, I perchanced to notice the team’s nacho cart. As you may recall, the Timber Rattlers named this cart after soliciting fan votes on Facebook, and my Village People-inspired submission of “Nacho Nacho Stand” lost out to this:

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I should have gone with “Life’s a Chip and Then You Die.” (After all, you can’t spell “nachos” without Nas.)

But while nachos weren’t in my future, cheese curds were. The non-fried variety are gluten-free!

Meanwhile, Kevin and Kyle had re-located to the concession area down the third base line in order to, yes, consume more food.

Hey guys, welcome back!

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This dynamic duo had procured a “Triple Oinker” sandwich and cut it in half, giving each of them a 1.5 Oinker.

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For those keeping score at home, this sandwich consists of pork chop, bacon, pulled pork and nacho cheese. Double-K, as I had taken to calling them at this point, really enjoyed it:

“It could have been one-note, but there’s a great mix of flavors and it’s really delicious,” said Kimmes.

At this point in the narrative things get a little fuzzy, but soon I found myself out behind the stadium. There were ribs in the passenger seat of a van and I ate them furtively like a scared chipmunk.

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Attached to the van was a trailer and in the trailer was the Bratzooka. It is to bratwurst firing what t-shirt guns are to whatever it is that t-shirt guns do. As you can see, I really enjoyed myself!

(The three pictures below were taken by T-Rats creative director Ann Mollica, who does fantastic work with a camera that looks to be about the size of a Bratzooka.)

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And let me tell you — that thing can really launch brats! The technique is to basically shoot straight in the air with only a slight angle, as a direct brat hit in the face of an unwitting fan could be cataclysmic. (That’s how Maude Flanders died, almost.)

And that wasn’t the only vehicle to be found on the field during the evening. An inning or so later, this occurred:

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And then there’s this:

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Yep, a good old-fashioned bullpen cart, new this season. Relief pitchers have the option to ride in it to the mound, but I was told that, thus far, the peer pressure had been too severe for anyone to actually do it.

I was up for it, though!

This car brakes for dancing grounds crew:

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I would like to thank the T-Rats’ fluorescent outfield squadron of game day parking crew employees for their bullpen cart hospitality!

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Next to the bullpen cart is — wait for it — the bullpen. And in the bullpen the relievers were making money hand over fist via their innovative “Make a Quarter Get a Ball” initiative.

The next day I interviewed three denizens of the Timber Rattlers bullpen about this game, and the end result is this really funny (if I do say so myself) MiLB piece that YOU MUST READ.

While I wait for you to read the aforementioned MiLB.com piece, I’ll amuse myself with a few non sequiturs.

The sepulchral press box:

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Digital standings board:

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Get it? Digital standings board?

The aftermath of a promotion in which rolls upon rolls of toilet paper are given away:

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Oh, hey, look — there was a game going on and people were watching it.

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Nice arms, snake:

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And, finally, fireworks from the best seat in the house. I really nailed this shot, if I do say so myself.

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I was just kidding about “finally,” as after the post-game fireworks there were post-game run the bases. Why not!?

132 Finally, mercifully, the evening was now in the books.

But would you believe that I attended the next night’s Timber Rattlers game as well? And that it was just as action-packed as this one? It’s true! But in the interest of writerly sanity, I’m going to recap that game as the final post of this current road trip. So, yeah: Wisconsin, Beloit, Great Lakes, Lansing, West Michigan, South Bend and then back to Wisconsin.

I hope that makes sense and, until then, fear the snaki:

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benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

2 Comments

A brilliant MLB-MiLB history cup series AND a bullpen cart?!? Those Timber Rattler folks definitely have their act together (unlike, say, a certain New York NL East team that actually tried to pull off a salute to Native Americans while hosting a series with a certain Atlanta NL East team. Ouch. http://ftw.usatoday.com/2013/07/mets-native-americans-atlanta-braves/)

Any idea on the manufacturer of those cups? They look way sturdy. Dynamic Drinkware perhaps.

#Cupdates forever. Ben’s BizBlog forever.

Pingback: Return to the Road: Ample Opportunities in Appleton « Ben's Biz Blog

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