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Big Daddy Baseball League

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July 13-15, 2012

BDBL Weekend 2012: Chicago & Milwaukee

The official BDBL Weekend 2012 starting lineup.

By Mike Glander
BDBL Staff

CHICAGO, IL -- The 13th annual BDBL Weekend festivities took place in Chicago and Milwaukee this year, with only six members attending.  Although it was the weakest attendance in BDBL Weekend history, we still managed to find a way to enjoy ourselves.  The party kicked off on Friday afternoon, when myself, Ryan, Greg Newgard and Scott Romonosky all met at the luxurious Airport Hilton hotel in Chicago.  From there, we traveled via CTA to downtown Chicago, stopping only 1,659 times along the way.  We eventually met Matt Clemm, who took us on another CTA journey to Mike Ditka's restaurant.

Ditka's was a league favorite during BDBL Weekend 2006, and I've spent the past six years craving Ditka's pot roast nachos.  We met John Gill at the bar, and were seated at our table.  We ordered one order of pot roast nachos, and enjoyed it so much, we ordered another.  Newgard then ordered a tomahawk steak that would make Fred Flintstone jealous, while the rest of us ordered steaks, burgers and meatloaf -- except for Ryan, who ordered yet another order of pot roast nachos.

After settling our $350 bill, we ventured forth to a Chicago institution, the legendary Second City show.  Although Brian Potrafka would have vomited at the thought of witnessing such a travesty of comedy, we enjoyed the show very much.  Of course, I could have done without all of the radical right-wing political humor.  By the end of the show, I felt sorry for our poor president, the way they mercilessly skewered him.

At the show, we had the unique and awesome opportunity to meet Matt Clemm's better half, Kerry.  She is as charming, witty and likeable in person as she is on the internets.  We also met her friend, Sarah, who joined us after the show as we took a tour of every bowling alley within 20 miles of Chicago.  Alas, we never found one that was: a) open, and b) willing to allow a minor to bowl.  After spending nearly two hours driving around aimlessly, we eventually dropped off Ryan at our hotel and drove down to the local casino for a few nightcaps.

The following morning, we loaded into Clemm's minivan and headed due west (for some reason) on the road to Milwaukee.  It was a short two-hour trip, and we arrived at the Lakefront Brewery in no time.  Unfortunately, we weren't the only ones to come up with the idea of taking a brewery tour on a sunny Saturday afternoon, as all the tours were booked.  So instead, we drove down to the Miller Brewery and sat through several long advertisements for the Miller Brewing Company.  We got a glimpse of the bottling facility, and saw the warehouse, which contains 500,000 cases of beer.  And our tour ended with a visit to the "famous" Miller caves and a few samples of beer in the "beer garden."

From there, we went straight to Miller Park, where we witnessed a game between the Brewers and Pirates.  Although none of us were excited by the notion of a pitching matchup featuring Kevin Correia and Marco Estrada, it turned out to be a decent game.  Estrada whiffed 11 batters in just 5 2/3 innings, but gave up a two-run blast to the red-hot Andrew McCutchen.  Casey McGehee, returning to Milwaukee for the first time, also went yard, and had three hits on the day.  And we got to see Ryan Braun go 0-for-2, which is always enjoyable.

In the end, the hometown Brewers went down in defeat by a score of 6-4.  But we did get to see Billy Brewer slide down his slide for no apparent reason.  Fireworks also went off for no apparent reason.  And there were Brewers cheerleaders and a bunch of mascots dressed like sausages.  All in all, Bud Selig seems to have built a model franchise...for a minor league team.


After the game, the gang decided to visit a bar called the "Safe House."  A few of us hadn't eaten yet, so we broke off into separate groups.  Again, the only place we could find within a 20-block radius that would serve minors was a Mexican fast food place, so we all choked down some nasty, greasy food.  I then cabbed it back to our hotel with Ryan while the others joined up at the Safe House.

Unfortunately, my taxi driver had no idea where the Safe House is, so I told him to just drop me off by Buffalo Wild Wings, which is where he picked me up.  Of course, he couldn't speak English very well, so he thought I asked him to drop me off at Buffalo Street.  Which is nowhere near the Safe House.

After hailing two more cabs, I was able to finally find a driver who knew where this place is.  And once I found the place myself, I immediately understood why.  The bar is located down a dark alley, with no exterior lights and no sign posted anywhere.  It's simply a door that opens into an alley.  I stepped inside, and a woman asked for my ID.  She then directed me to another woman, who took my $5 cover.  She then asked me for a password.  Now, from our conversation earlier in the evening, I was told the password was "control", but she just shook her head.  She then directed me toward a brick wall, where I was ordered to hula-hoop for ten seconds.

I can't hula-hoop to save my life, so I looked like a giant asshole trying.  Mercifully, she allowed me to enter the club, and a bookcase to my left swung open, revealing a secret passage.  Of course, my performance was broadcast to the entire bar on closed circuit TV, and when I entered I was greeted with a rousing ovation.

The system of entry isn't the only strange thing about the Safe House.  One of the walls moves to reveal different pictures.  There are secret passageways that go nowhere.  One of the men's room doors opens to a brick wall.  And there is a secret exit that involves a telephone booth and a secret code.  Oh, and all the waitresses appear to be nine months pregnant.

After a long night that stretched into the morning, we woke up relatively early on Saturday to make the trek back to Chicago.  By the time we arrived, it was time to head straight to Wrigley Field.  It was about 95 degrees in Chicago that day, but it felt closer to 195.  And the fact that we were sitting on metal bleachers, directly in the sun, didn't help matters.  Similar to our trip in 2006, we spent hours broiling in the bleachers and emerged with plenty of sunburn and dehydration.

The game itself was relatively uneventful.  The Cubs took an early 3-0 lead off of Trevor Cahill after two innings (thanks to a homer by Darwin Barney to the right of where we were sitting.)  And thanks to the stellar pitching of Matt Garza and the Chicago bullpen, there wasn't much drama the rest of the way.  "Closer" Carlos Marmol did his best to supply some drama in the ninth inning, allowing two baserunners in 2/3 of an inning, but he managed to lock in the save in the end.

Following the game, we had some really incredible pizza and beer at a place called "Peace."  We then took a driving tour of Chicago, supplied by the world's scariest driver, Matt Clemm.  And we wrapped up the night with a beer down the road from our hotel near Lincoln Park.

All in all, despite the low turnout, it was a fantastic, though exhausting, weekend.  It was great meeting John Gill for the first time, and equally great meeting Mrs. Clemm.  Because our flight on Monday didn't depart until 6:00pm, Ryan and I had the opportunity to spend more time with Kerry and her awesome kids.  We had lunch at the famous Billy Goat Tavern, and walked around Navy Pier on yet another hot and muggy day.  It was a nice and relaxing ending to a frantic weekend of running around from location to location.

A few ideas that were tossed around for BDBL Weekend 2013 include Houston, Miami and Arizona.