As the Cedar Rapids Angry Corn prepare for today's Low-A playoff game against the Clinton Lumberjacks, those of you not in Iowa can go see the Saint Paul Saints against the Winnipeg Goldeyes, tonight at 7:05. No, they're not paying me to say this. They don't have the budget, and I'm an expensive sellout.
Are the Saints more or less fun in their new ballpark? A little bit Column A, a little bit Column B. The food is slightly better. The bathrooms and seat comfort are vastly, immeasurably better. And the beer selection is terrific. These things lend themselves to a very energized home crowd. You don't need LED screens saying "Make Some NOISE" to get Saints fans excited.
OTOH, the sound quality of the PA speakers sucks. It's terrible, and I doubt it can be fixed; it's one of those "you build the building, you find out what the acoustics are" deals. So the Saints schtick -- the PA humor, the in-between-innings hijinks, is all but wasted. And that's a huge loss. I dunno why the fancy new building has far worse sound than Midway did, but it does, and that's a big downer. You still have the cast of characters (Karaoke Guy, Gert The Flirt, etc.) engaging with fans during the game, and that's still great.
I took my brother, who is 29, to a Saints game last year; he was visiting from out of town. I'd never seen the ballpark before, so in the middle innings I explored a little bit. When I returned to my seat, my brother gazed at me in pure horror. "A middle-aged woman came and blew into my ear. For no reason." Ahh! That's Gert The Flirt, my sibling friend. Welcome to Saints Baseball.
And Saints players keep coming out to greet fans after the game. This remains awesome. If you haven't read it yet, I strongly suggest checking out this City Pages piece on Mark Hamburger, the best Saints pitcher. He literally has lived in a van, down by the river. And he likes it that way.
Tickets are still available; the best-of-five series is tied at one apiece, so there will definitely be games today and tomorrow; maybe a deciding game Monday. May I recommend the "Drink Rail," for $12? You're out of the sun, and it's a nice place to stack up your peanuts, popcorn, liquor, whatever.
Plus, scorecards are always free. Can't beat that!