Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bradenton Marauders

Did you ever feel like you have won the lottery? Coming off of my free entry into the Hickory Crawdads game I was about to purchase a ticket for the Bradenton Marauders game. I was looking over the pricing and saw they had a military discount for the cheapest ticket (I did mention I was on a budget didn’t I?) and asked for it. No discount for me. Why? Because it was military appreciation night and military got in FOR FREE! But wait, it gets better. The Army was there and handing out not only a free sports bottle but a free tee-shirt (yes! one more clean shirt means one more day between laundrymat visits), and then the staff was handing out...wait for it….wait for it….vouchers for a FREE HOT DOG!! So basically I saw a game and ate for free. I get excited over these things because….I did mention I was on a budget didn’t I? Seriously, thanks Bradenton.

View From the Party Deck
The Marauders benefit greatly from being the Pittsburgh Pirates Florida State League farm club. That means they get to play in McKechnie Field, which is the spring training facility for the Buccos. For you rubes, that means it is a top-notch facility. The outside looks decent enough, being mainly cement trimmed with red brick. Inside it ranks with the best in many areas, and the palm trees planted just outside of the right field wall will remind you that you are in the Sunshine State. They do lack a jumbotron scoreboard so stats on batters is non-existent. Perhaps because at that level the players are so transient. The pitcher for the Marauders was pulled in the 7th inning...after striking out 10. He won’t be in Single A long.

I particularly liked the open air concourse and the massive wooden party deck in the outfield. Not only can you get a great view of the game from the deck, but some cool drinks and a spectacular view of the evening light show to the west that the sun and Gulf of Mexico treat the Sun Coast area residents to nearly every day. For a tourist it is mesmerizing.

Getting a free hot dog is always a dodgy experience. While I relish (get it, relish?) in free eats, the supplier is looking to minimize cost. Often free is code for bad. Not so at Bradenton. The score is below, but I am here to tell you, that was one damn delicious dog. Worth every penny.

Bun-just ever so slightly stale.
Taste-what taste better than a Hebrew National? A free matter who makes it. Seriously though, the Kayem frank was really good.
Toppings-really nice selection for a Single A venue.
Price-$3.50 is the normal price, and a good price for the quality of dog and toppings available.
Portability-nice large paper wrapper.
It Factor-unfortunately, there are about 3 versions of the dog and a brat. Not something to howl about.

Location-not the greatest area but still a downtown ballpark.
Access-walk, bike, bus, drive.
GA Ticket Price-$8 for a seat in this great park is good, but not top score.
Cleanliness-it don’t get no cleaner.
Fans-hard to tell which crowd was larger, the players for the fans. Perhaps the threat of rain kept them away.
Ambiance-great baseball vibe. But I’d expect no less from the mighty Pittsburgh Pirates

DogBallparkTotal Dog/Game
Portability5GA Ticket Price4.5
It Factor3Fans2.5

If visiting the Sun Coast you have a large concentration of minor league teams to choose from. The area is ripe with FSL baseball. You can’t go wrong by paying a visit to McKechnie Field and enjoying the Marauders. Watch tomorrow’s Pirates today...and to it with a dog in your hand.

he book that will chronicle the fantastical road trip that this blog covers is now 40% funded via Kickstarter cloud funding. You can be part of history and help bring "Gone to the Dogs" to print by visiting my kickstarter page. At least watch the video and see how handsome I am.

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